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Category Archives: Savoury Food

Hot Smoked Salmon Club Sandwich

This hot smoked salmon sandwich is Jamie Oliver inspired. The recipe is infinitely variable to make all kinds of different, delicious sandwiches.

Try it with leg ham or roast beef. Make it veggie by using halloumi instead of the salmon. Add a few pickles to the sandwich, or add condiments like chutney, onion or chilli jam, or even try it with pesto or hummus!

Ingredients

4 slices of streaky bacon

4 slices of sourdough bread

1 ripe tomato

1 ripe avocado

2 tablespoons home made or whole egg bought mayonnaise

1 tablespoon of basil or coriander leaves, bashed, stirred through the mayonnaise (optional)

200g hot smoked salmon (available from the deli section of supermarkets)

A handful of lettuce leaves or rocket

A few squeezes of lemon juice

Sea salt and black pepper

Method

Place the bacon in a cold frying pan, turn on the heat to medium and fry the bacon until crispy and cooked through, then remove from the pan. Turn off the heat.

Immediately put the bread slices into the still warm pan in the bacon fat to soak up the bacon flavour.

Cut the tomato into slices. Cut the avocado in half, take out the stone and peel each half. Cut the avocado into slices.

Now assemble the sandwich.

Spread the toasted sourdough slices with the mayonnaise.

Put two slices of toasted bread side by side and layer with the bacon rashers, tomato, avocado, chunks of the salmon and the lettuce or rocket. Squeeze lemon juice over the whole lot and add a grind or two of sea salt and black pepper.

Top each one with the remaining slices of toast. Eat and enjoy!

Very Cherry Tomato Quiche

Sydneysiders are really looking forward to next week when we are allowed to meet friends outside for a picnic – a little easing of our long winter lockdown.

So picnics are the go! And what better for a picnic than a portable tasty treat like a quiche.

Quiche – that versatile combination of short crust pastry, savoury custard and tasty fillings. Great for lunch, dinner or indeed a picnic.

So cherry tomatoes are the basis of this quiche, as well as a handful of sun dried tomatoes. To make the whole thing fresh and light, I used spring onions, rather than onions, utilizing the green tops as well as the white onion bottoms.

The base is shortcrust pastry, for this particular recipe I used Maggie Beer’s Sour Cream Pastry. The savoury custard is the traditional filling for a quiche.

Ingredients

Shortcrust Pastry
200g chilled unsalted butter
250g plain flour
135g sour cream

Filling
2 spring onions, finely chopped
250g cherry tomatoes (a punnet)
A handful of sun dried tomatoes
4 free range eggs
1/2 cup cream
3/4 cup milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, 170 degrees C fan forced.
To make the sour cream pastry, pulse butter and flour in a food processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Using your hands, shape pastry into a ball.

Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
 Grease a medium sized fluted quiche tin with a removable bottom. Roll the pastry out to 3mm thick and place in the tin.

Rest for 15 minutes in refrigerator. This helps reduce shrinkage when cooking. Remove from the fridge, place some pie weights on baking paper inside the tart, and bake blind in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and baking paper.

Decrease oven temperature to 170 degrees C, 160 degrees C fan forced.

Scatter the finely chopped spring onions over the base of the blind-baked pastry case. Chop the cherry tomatoes in quarters, leaving some of the smaller ones in halves. Scatter the quarters over the pastry base. Roughly chop the sun dried tomatoes, and scatter these between the cherry tomatoes.

In a bowl or large jug (the latter is very useful as you can pour the custard into the quiche tin easily), beat the eggs, cream and milk together until thoroughly combined. Add salt, pepper and grated Parmesan.

Carefully pour the custard mixture into the quiche tin. (I find it easiest to place the tin in the oven first before pouring). Place the remaining cherry tomato halves carefully in the custard. Hopefully they will sit artfully displayed in the cooked quiche, but don’t worry if they sink!

Bake until the custard is just set but still wobbly – about 30-40 minutes depending on your oven.
Carefully remove and leave to cool slightly before serving.

The quiche is fine as is, or you can serve with a few basil leaves, and/or some cherry tomatoes on the vine, which you slow roast for a couple of  hours until wilted.

Very fresh, very light, very delicious!

Mexitalian Pizza

Ok, this is Tex-Mex meets Italian! A pizza with Mexican style toppings.

I’m keen on home made pizza, and recently I’ve been given some inspiration on Tex-Mex cooking from friends recently returned from living in the US.

So I ended up with a pizza topped with lots of Mexican flavours!

This pizza can be made on a barbecue, and I have included a link to my how-to in the recipe. It needs to be cooked on a barbecue with a hood. Or you could even do it in an ordinary oven!

You also need a good recipe for a slow cooked beef stew – use your favourite, but I have included a link to my recipe.

It seems a bit of a faff, but once made it’s really very delicious. And any of the ingredients left over after making the pizza can be easily incorporated into other dishes.

This recipe makes 1 large pizza or 2 medium ones.

Ingredients

1 quantity pizza dough*

1/2 quantity beef casserole**

2 sweet corn cobs

1/2 cup good quality egg mayonnaise

1 teaspoon chipotle powder

1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Lime juice

50g mild farm cheese like queso fresco

2-3 spring onions

1 avocado

Coriander

3-4 lime wedges

*Use your favourite recipe – here’s a link to my Pizza on the Barbecue recipe.

** You can use your favourite beef recipe, here’s the link to my Beef Casserole.

Method

Make your beef casserole ahead of time. Remember it’s a slow cooked recipe.

Prepare your pizza dough to second proofing.

While the dough is proofing, grill the corn cobs on the bars of the barbecue till nicely charred. When cool enough to handle, cut off the corn kernels, remove to a bowl, and mix with enough of the mayonnaise to coat the kernels. Mix in the chipotle powder, 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika and a good squeeze of lime juice.

Now shape your pizzas and grill on the barbecue as per the barbecue pizza recipe.

Add the toppings, starting with the beef casserole. “Pull” the beef pieces to get that pulled beef effect. Make sure you spread lots of the tomato sauce on the pizza base. Scatter the corn kernels, spring onions and cheese over the pizza. Sprinkle the rest of the smoked paprika over the pizza.

Cook on the barbecue. Once it’s nicely done, put slices of avocado on top and scatter with coriander. Serve with lime wedges and chilli sauce for those who want an extra kick!

Home Made Burgers


Here’s something I posted last year when we were in lockdown in Sydney…and here we are back in lockdown again!

But the weather is lovely with clear sunny days (well, mostly!) and spring is in the air. Which is the perfect reason to do some outdoor eating and home made burgers are the way to go.

Make the burger patties and then get creative with some fillings and garnishes – I’ve given some suggestions.

Eat, enjoy and beat the lockdown blues!

For the burger:

Ingredients

500g minced beef, preferably organic

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1 free-range egg

1 handful of fresh breadcrumbs

1/2 heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 slices of cheddar cheese

The other 1/2 onion, cut into rings

For the bits and pieces that go with the burgers:

4 soft bread rolls

Handful of baby gherkins

Cherry tomatoes

Sun dried tomatoes

Any green leaves you fancy – rocket is always good

Avocado slices

2 teaspoons American mustard

2 teaspoons tomato ketchup or 2 teaspoons tomato chutney

Method

Preheat the oven to 210 degrees C fan-forced.

Scrunch all the ingredients together. Use the breadcrumbs as required to bind the mixture. Divide into 4, then lightly mould and pack each burger together into burger shapes. Place the burgers on a baking tray along with the onion rings. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. The burgers should still be pink in the middle – cook for a few minutes longer if you want them more well done.

Just before they are done, place a slice of cheese on top of each burger and place back in the oven for a minute to just melt the cheese.

To serve:

Cut rolls in half and place on a plate. Place a burger with its slice of melted cheese on top of half of a bread roll. Squeeze some mustard and tomato ketchup on top, or spoon some tomato chutney onto the bread roll before you add the burger. Now add any of the bits and pieces as you fancy, using my suggestions or making up your own. I definitely recommend scattering the charred onion rings on top of the burger, really tasty!

I did a couple of different combinations on different nights.

A really delicious and easy meal and equally as good as take away!

Barbecue Pizza

Pizza on the barbecue is a great invention if you want a crusty pizza with a charred edge. I developed these recipes a while back, and while I now make pizza in my Ooni Koda 16 pizza oven, barbecue pizza is still a go-to method for a crowd. It’s also easier than cooking pizza in a conventional oven!

If you haven’t got a pizza oven, wood fired or otherwise, give the barbecue method a go! But you do need a barbecue with a hood, as this method relies on creating a really hot oven environment to cook the pizzas quickly.

Making pizza on the barbecue is really easy. I was delighted with how quick and easy grilling the dough on the barbecue is.

You make a normal pizza yeast dough – then grill it for a minute each side on the bars of a very hot barbecue. Then dress the grilled pizza with your toppings of choice, place on a baking tray and heat on the barbecue on medium heat, with the hood down to simulate an oven.

Fresh, hot, grilled pizza made right in front of your friends! You could even do “make your toppings” with everyone customizing their own pizza.

Really anything goes for toppings – these recipes are just some suggestions that worked for me.

Ingredients
Dough 

2 ¼ tsp dry yeast
1 cup warm water (40.5 – 46 degrees C)
2 to 2 ½ cups Tipo 00 flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oil

Toppings
Roast Pumpkin, Avocado, Cherry Tomato, Sugar Snap Peas, Spring Onion and Taleggio Pizza

1/4 butternut pumpkin, baked in pieces, skin on
1 avocado, sliced
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved 
A few sugar snap peas 
2 spring onions finely chopped
A few slices of taleggio cheese
Rosemary sprigs to garnish

Pear, Artichoke and Blue Cheese Pizza

1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 spring onions finely chopped
1 pear, sliced
2 -3 artichoke hearts, sliced
A handful of crumbled blue cheese (to taste)
Rosemary sprigs

Method
Pizza
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in most of the flour and the salt, stirring until smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until the dough comes away from the bowl but is still sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead with lightly floured hands. Knead the dough until it is smooth, elastic and soft, but a little sticky, about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to bowl lightly oiled with extra virgin olive oil, turn to coat. Cover with cling wrap and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 2-3 hours. Press it with your finger to see if it’s done; an indent should remain.

Remove the dough from the bowl, divide in half and shape each half into a ball. This quantity makes 2 small pizzas. Or leave as 1 ball for 1 large pizza.

Brush with more oil and set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat your barbecue to very high.

Stretch and shape the ball/s of dough into a rectangle or round – or any rustic shape! Brush the top/s with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let rest for 15 minutes. Place on the grill directly on the bars, oiled side down, and grill until lightly golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip over and grill for 1 minute longer.

Place the pizza/s on a baking tray and apply your toppings:

For the Roast Pumpkin, Avocado, Cherry Tomato, Sugar Snap Peas, Spring Onion and Taleggio Pizza: 

Scatter over the roast pumpkin, avocado, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, spring onion and taleggio.

For the Pear, Artichoke and Blue Cheese Pizza:

Scatter over cheddar cheese, spring onions, sliced pear, sliced artichoke hearts and crumbled blue cheese.

Return the pizzas to the barbecue, turn down the heat  to medium, close the cover and cook until the cheese has melted and the pears/veggies are crisp and a little charred – about 2 or 3 minutes.

Remove the pizzas from the barbecue and garnish with rosemary sprigs. Slice and serve piping hot!

Lockdown Frittata

We’re in lockdown in Sydney, and everyone is turning to cooking to brighten up these wintry days – and nights!

My friend and always inventive cook, John, has been putting out some pretty good dishes from his lockdown hideaway in the northern beaches.

This one is a beauty – a frittata using left over roast veggies as well as fresh veggies, goat’s cheese and eggs of course!

Here’s the recipe. The quantities can be varied – use a little more or less as the mood takes you!

Oh and it’s a one pan dish too! Saves on washing up!

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter

2 rashers of bacon

3 Roma tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon of harissa

2 to 3 cups any left over roast veggies, such as potato, sweet potato, kumera, onions, carrots

A handful of broccoli florets (or broccolini)

8 eggs

1/3 cup milk

Salt and pepper

3 – 4 small pieces goat’s cheese, broken up (about a handful)

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

In an oven proof cast iron pan, fry bacon and tomato in the butter on a low heat, until cooked through.

Add harissa and the left over veggies and mix through.

Steam broccoli until just cooked through, then drain.

Whisk the eggs with the milk and salt and pepper, and add this mixture to the pan, keeping on moderate heat, until it just sets.

Place the broccoli and goat’s cheese on top of the frittata.

Transfer the pan to oven. Bake for 10 minutes until the top is set and the cheese is melted.

Serve with a green salad and enjoy!

Cheat’s Gozleme

So this is a great hack if you want a tasty treat based on Turkish gozleme, that staple of food markets and festivals!

I have adapted a recipe for Green Pockets from “Use it All” by the brilliant Cornersmith people, simplifying it a little for a quick make.

You can make the dough a couple of hours ahead of time and get the filling ready just prior to cooking. Or make dough and filling at the same time.

I threw this together – literally – not being that particular with my chopping and filling skills!

Great for a quick lunch or snack, or even a savoury breakfast!

Ingredients

Cheat’s Dough

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

125g Greek yoghurt

190g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Filling

1 1/2 cups of greens eg spinach, rocket, silver beet

1 handful soft herbs eg basil or mint

2 spring onions, white and green parts

1 garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon salt

A grind of black pepper

150g crumbled cheese eg feta, ricotta, mozzarella (I definitely recommend feta!)

1 tablespoon olive oil for frying

Lemon wedges for serving

Method

To make dough, mix all the wet ingredients together. Stir in the flour and bicarb with a wooden spoon until you have a sticky dough. Put the dough onto a floured board and knead by hand for a few minutes until the dough is smooth. Divide the dough into 4 balls.

You can use the dough now or put in a bowl and cover with cling wrap and leave for an hour.

You could even stick in the fridge for a few hours.

To make the filling, chop all the greens, herbs, spring onions and garlic finely. Sprinkle over the salt and pepper.

Chop whatever cheeses you are using into small pieces.

When ready to make your cheat’s gozleme, take a ball and roll out into circles as thin as you can.

Spread equal amounts of cheese onto half of each circle. Then cover the half circles with all the green ingredients.

Fold the dough over the filling to make a semi circle kind of pastie shape, pinching edges together.

Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Cook each cheat’s gozleme for about 3 minutes on each side or until brown and speckled. Pressing down the gozleme once you’ve turned them over helps to amalgamate and cook the filling inside.

Remove from the pan and serve hot with lemon wedges.

Chunky Beef Pie

Lockdown Sydney. Winter July 2021.

It’s definitely the time when we need comfort food, preferably something warming and hearty. Pies are perfect!

This one has my go-to beef filling, a lovely casserole of slow cooked beef and tomato. And to make it easy, a simple crust of shop bought puff pastry – all butter if you can get it.

It’s rustic – no need to be too fiddly in the presentation!

Ingredients
Beef Filling

500g shin (gravy) beef or chuck steak or blade steak if you can’t get shin
1 dessertspoon plain flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium brown onions, chopped
2 – 4 shallots (more or less depending on the size of the shallots), chopped
2 x 400g tins whole peeled tomatoes
I large tomato, roughly chopped
200 mls red wine
1 tinful of water
1 tablespoon molasses
1 dessertspoon Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt, black pepper
A bay leaf
A few springs thyme
Few sprigs rosemary

For the pastry – 2 sheets of all butter puff pastry + free-range egg, beaten, for brushing the pastry

Method
Filling

Preheat oven to 140 degrees C.

Place the beef into a ziplock bag with the flour, close and shake the bag to coat the beef pieces in the flour. Heat a heavy based cast iron casserole on the stovetop. Add two tablespoons of oil to the casserole.

Add half of the beef pieces and cook for a minute or two to brown the meat, turning to make sure all sides get the heat. This is just to caramelise the meat. Remove the pieces from the casserole and set aside. Add the other half of the beef and caramelise in the same way, removing from the casserole once browned.

Add the other tablespoon of oil, and add the the chopped onions and shallots. Fry over a medium heat until the onions and shallots are softened, about 3-5 minutes. Return the meat to the casserole.

Add the tinned tomatoes, roughly breaking up into the casserole. Add the chopped fresh tomato. Stir in the red wine, and using one of the tomato tins, add a tinful  of water. Stir in the molasses and Worcestershire sauce. Season with a sea salt and black pepper. Tie up the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary with an elastic band or a piece of string, to make a bouquet garnis, and put into the casserole mixture.

Making sure the mixture is simmering, carefully remove the casserole to the preheated oven. Cook for 3 hours, or until the beef is tender and almost falling apart. You should check after 2 hours, just in case the casserole has cooked a bit dry. If so, you can add some more water. As a general rule, it’s pretty hard to overcook this cut of beef, so 2 1/2 – 3 hours is usually about the right time.

Remove the casserole from the oven, remove the bouquet garnis,  and cool to room temperature.

Making the Pie

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Remove bought puff pastry from the fridge. You will need a pie dish, tin or mould, 18cms or 20cms in diameter. Cut the pastry from each sheet, into two pieces, one slightly bigger than the other. The bigger round should be at least big enough to fit into the pie dish, covering the base and sides. The other round will need to cover the top of the pie.

Ease the bottom pastry round into the dish. You can trim off any excess from around the edge.

Now it’s time to fill the pie. You won’t need all the filling – fill with enough of the meat mixture to fit comfortably into the pastry. Brush the edge of the pastry with the beaten egg.

Take the second, smaller round of pastry, cutting or stretching to the size of the top of the pie, making sure you have enough pastry to overlap the top of the pie. You can always trim the excess. Place over the filling, making sure the top pastry meets the bottom pastry all around the pie. Seal the the top and bottom of the pastry by pushing down around the edge with the prongs of a fork.

I did a bit of fancy scoring on the top of the pie (see photo) but it’s not really necessary.

Brush the top of the pie all over with beaten egg, before putting the pie into the hot oven. Cook for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven.

Serve in big slices with a green salad, your sauce of choice and some crusty bread. A glass of red wine goes down well too!

Winter Warmers – Isolation Cooking

We’re in lockdown in Sydney, so it’s back to isolation cooking!

The weather is chilly, so perfect for some hearty fare. I found 4 dishes that fit that description, all cheerful and easy to make. Chilli beef, Yorkshire pudding, treacle glazed steak and chicken risotto.

Here are the links.

Chilli Beef: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2021/02/20/easy-chilli-beef/

Giant Yorkshire Pudding:https://thequirkandthecool.com/2020/05/08/yorkshire-pudding-with-smoked-salmon-jamie-oliver/

Treacle Glazed Barbecue Steak:https://thequirkandthecool.com/2017/06/09/treacle-glazed-barbecue-steak/

Chicken, Leek and Asparagus Oven Risotto:https://thequirkandthecool.com/2020/03/29/chicken-leek-and-asparagus-oven-risotto/

Beef and Ale Casserole with Cheesy Dumplings

Ingredients

Casserole

1 tablespoon plain flour

500g casserole beef cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

1 large onion, chopped finely

2-3 carrots, cut into chunks

500mls stout or ale or beer

1 x 400g tin whole peeled tomatoes

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt and black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sugar to season

Bouquet garnis – bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary, tied together

Dumplings

125g self-raising flour

65g cold butter

3/4 cup grated cheese

Method
Pre-heat oven to 140 degrees C.

Dust the beef pieces in the flour and place them in a zip lock bag and shake. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed casserole on the stove top.

Fry the beef in small quantities to avoid “stewing” the meat, until brown on all sides. Remove the beef to a plate, add a little more oil to the pan if necessary, and fry the garlic and onion. Add the carrots and lightly brown.

Return the meat to the casserole. Add the stout, ale or beer. Add the tomatoes, roughly chopping as you mix it in. Fill the tomato tin with water and add to the casserole.

Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and sugar.

Place the bouquet garnis into the casserole.

Cook on a medium heat with lid off for 5 minutes, then transfer the casserole, with lid on, to the pre-heated oven. Cook for about two hours or until beef is very tender. If the beef is still a little tough cook for another half hour.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the dumplings.

Put the flour into a large bowl. Grate the cold butter into the flour. If this is too tricky, just chop it finely. Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a splash or two of cold water to help the mixture come together into a dough.

Divide the dough into 12 small balls. Once cooked the balls will swell in size.

Place the dumplings on top of the casserole once the meat is cooked. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the dumplings. Cook, uncovered for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and the dumplings are golden brown.

Serve at once with a crisp green salad!

You can also refrigerate or freeze portions of the casserole.

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