Pumpkin, Spanish Onion and Rocket Salad
Rocket adds a sharpness to the sweetness of the roast pumpkin and onions whilst the beans or asparagus add texture. The feta adds creaminess and the walnuts are a lovely surprise. This salad works well with a Barbecue or any grilled meat – no additional accompaniments required.
1.2kg/2.5lbs Butternut or Pumpkin, peeled and cut into 5cm/2 inch chunks
3 spanish/red onions cut into quarters
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bunch asparagus or 200g topped and tailed baby green beans
1 bunch rocket, trimmed and washed
100g/6oz Danish fetta
1/2 cup halved walnuts or pine nuts
Balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- Preheat oven to 200C/425F.
- Place pumpkin and onions in a large bowl. Sprinkle over chopped garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lots of Maldon salt and ground pepper. Toss well.
- Arrange in a single layer on a large baking pan lined with baking paper. Roast 20 to 25 minutes until tender, turning once.
- Blanch asparagus or green beans.
- Layer rocket in a large shallow bowl or serving platter. Top with asparagus or green beans. Add pumpkin and onions ensuring an even spread. Top with crumbled feta. Drizzle with balsamic and olive oil – only a LITTLE. Sprinkle walnuts over the top.
- Serve – this keeps well for the next day if you omit drizzling balsamic and olive or only use a very small amount.
Rocket, Chickpea and Pancetta Salad
This is one of my favourite salads in recent times – it goes beautifully with grilled white fish, a barbecue and is delicious on its own as well. The cannellini beans add balance to the peppery rocket and hint of chilli whilst the pancetta adds crunch. The feta rounds it all off. The salad keeps overnight and the leftovers make a delicious lunch the next day.
Note: This salad is a little salty from the feta and pancetta so be careful not to add salt – if the salad is too salty for you replace the feta with ricotta. You can replace the pancetta with very thinly sliced bacon in times when the flat pancetta is difficult to find.
1 long red chilli, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon sambal oelek
200g flat pancetta, thinly sliced into strips
2x340g cans of cannellini beans, drained
200g rocket leaves
200g Danish feta or ricotta
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
- Layer rocket in a large flat salad bowl or plate.
- Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, Dijon mustard and lemon juice in a cup and mix well with a fork or teaspoon to combine.
- Cook chilli or sambal oelek in 1 tablespoon olive oil in medium sized frying pan over medium heat. Add pancetta slices in a single layer and fry till crisp. Remove and drain on paper towel when done.
- Add drained chick peas to frying pan, reduce heat and cook stirring frequently until chick peas are heated through.
- Sprinkle warm chick peas over rocket. Drizzle with mustard dressing. Top with crumbled pancetta and top with crumbled feta or ricotta.
- Serve. Yum!!!
Smoked Beef Sandwiches – Simple and Delicious
Smoked beef is something my grandmother always used to buy when I was a child. I didn’t discover it in Sydney until the kids were teenagers and we loved it for Saturday lunch dressed up like this. It also makes great finger food when using small rounds of baguette. In many countries smoked beef is also known as Bresaola.
Very thinly sliced smoked beef(bresaola)
Quality olive oil
French stick or woodfired bread
- Layer rocket on sliced bread – no need for butter.
- Top with smoked beef. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
- Serve as an open sandwich. Yum.
Sausage rolls – Make your own to delight friends and family
These homemade sausage rolls are always a hit. The secret is using a quality lean beef mince. Serve them for afternoon tea, at a cocktail party or put them in lunch boxes or a picnic – so easy to put together and so versatile and popular.
Makes approx 24
750g beef mince
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs or one tablespoon fresh
4 slices bread
1xpacket of 2-3 quality puff pastry sheets 30cm square, at room temperature
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water to brush pastry
Tomato sauce, optional to serve
- Put the beef mince, finely chopped onion and herbs into a mixing bowl.
- Cut crusts from bread and put into separate bowl. Pour over enough warm water, just to cover. Stand 5 minutes.
- Drain water from bread. Squeeze bread gently to extract water.
- Add bread to mince mixture. Mix well. Bread absorbs any excess fat and helps to prevent meat shrinkage inside pastry during cooking.
- Cut each sheet of puff pastry in half. Put meat in piping bag without nozzle or use a plastic bag with end cut off.
- Pipe meat mixture down one side of halved puff pastry sheets. Turn edge of pastry over filling then turn again so that filling is enclosed completely and pastry join is on underside.
- Place pastry with meat filling on a baking tray. Flatten slightly with back of a large knife. Brush with egg wash of 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water.
- Cut rolls into 5cm pieces, separating slightly.
- Pre-heat the oven to 250C (475°F). Bake 10 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 180C (350°F). Bake a further 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and rest 10 minutes before serving with tomato sauce.
Chicken Pasta Salad with Chilli Lime Dressing for those Hot Summer Days
This is a light healthy meal in one dish that serves equally well for lunch, a light dinner or a picnic. Leftovers are perfect for school lunch boxes. Using a bought barbecue chicken saves time.
3-4 cups (300g) spiral pasta
1 cooked chicken, broken into bite size pieces
½ red capsicum, finely diced
125g (4 ounces) button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, grated
1 Tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon basil, chopped
1 small oak lettuce
¼ cup grated parmesan
Dressing (mix together):
2 teaspoons sambal oelek chilli paste
1 clove crushed garlic
2 Tablespoons lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
- Boil pasta following packet instructions until just tender. Drain and cool.
- Arrange lettuce in a shallow serving dish.
- Add cooled pasta and remaining salad ingredients excluding parmesan.
- Toss with half the dressing.
- Sprinkle with parmesan and remaining dressing.
John’s Bacon and Egg Pie – Perfect for New Years Brunch
John loves his food and his cooking. He arrives at our New Year’s brunch and produces his pie, warm from the oven, with a flourish. It is spectacularly good. John always has the knack of making it look particularly professional too.
8 rashers bacon
¼ cup chopped parsley
3 large tomatoes, thickly sliced
Quality readymade puff pastry, rolled out thinly
- Preheat oven to 220°C.
- Line a 20cmx30cm deep Lamingtin style baking tin with thinly rolled out puff pastry.
- Chop bacon into 5cm pieces and fry in a frying pan until cooked.
- Sprinkle bacon over pastry spreading evenly.
- Break eggs over, keeping the yolks whole.
- Sprinkle with parsley and cover with thickly sliced tomatoes.
- Cover pie with remaining pastry and trim edges.
- Brush pastry with beaten egg to create a golden glaze.
- Bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 190°C and bake for another 20 minutes or until pastry is cooked.
- Serve warm cut into wedges.
Savoury Mince when you have run out of ideas and don’t feel like thinking
Everyone loves savoury mince so it’s a great backup when you are too tired or busy to plan anything. Serve it with rice and a salad. I used to make double quantities as it’s great on sandwiches and a favourite addition to school lunch boxes.
500g topside mince
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder or vindaloo curry paste
2 Tablespoons tomato puree
1 cup frozen peas
1 large potato, peeled and cubed into 1cm cubes. If the cubes are too large they won’t cook in time.
- Sauté onion in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
- Add garlic and curry paste and stir till fragrant.
- Turn up the heat and add the mince ensuring that the onions end up on top of the mince so that they don’t burn.
- Brown mince for a few minutes, stirring to keep it loose.
- Add tomato puree and potatoes. If necessary add a 1/2 cup of water so that there is enough liquid for the potatoes to cook BUT you want the finished result to be dry so only a LITTLE water.
- Put lid on. Lower the heat and simmer about 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
- Add peas and after they have defrosted, about 3 minutes, serve with rice, sambals and a green or tomato salad. if I don’t have frozen peas, I often use green beans.
Bacon and Egg Pie – Easy, Tasty and Perfect for every Picnic or School Lunchbox
This is the family’s most popular picnic and bushwalking food – of course it is wonderful for brunch and a very special treat in a school lunchbox. I used to bake it early in the morning and wrap in foil as it came out of the oven. It would still be slightly warm when we ate it. Nothing tasted better after some exercise – something about simple flavours.
3 rashers bacon, diced
2 sheets puff pastry
- Heat oven to 200°C
- Layer 1xsheet of puff pastry in a 23cm diameter pie dish.
- Cook bacon until crispy in microwave or frying pan.
- Drain all fat and scatter cooked bacon evenly over puff pastry.
- Break eggs over bacon being careful to keep yolks whole.
- Top with second sheet of puff pastry and crimp edges.
- Brush top of pastry with egg white.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until pastry is browned.
- Serve at room temperature or cold.
Granny Rina’s Crunchies for your Lunchbox
This is the South African version of anzac biscuits, only they are chewy and a bit more like a slice – ideal for school lunch boxes. Here is Granny Rina’s version which was never written down anywhere. I just watched her make it by feel and translated into something I could do.
- 2 cups dessicated coconut
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 250g butter
- 2T honey
- 1t bicarbonate of soda
- 1T milk
- Heat oven to 170°C
- Mix coconut, oats, sugar and flour in a large bowl
- Melt butter and honey in a small pot. Simmer for 3 minutes
- Mix bicarb with milk in a cup and add to melted butter
- Add butter mixture to dry mixture and mix well
- Press mixture into a shallow 20cmx30cm slice baking tin. Flatten with an egg lifter
- Bake for 25-30 minutes – needs at least 25minutes to ensure it is not too soft
- Remove from oven and cut into slices
- Cool before removing from tin