Tag Archive | starter

Easy Summer Pea Soup

I have just been discharged from a few days in hospital. Like airlines, the food has improved!!! I so enjoyed the 200ml of soup that came with every meal that I have decided to start making a few light fresh soups that freeze so I can have a cup with each meal at home. This pea soup is an old favourite that I adapted from Robert Carrier many years ago. The ingredients are always to hand, its easy to prepare and tastes delicious. 

250g(1 cup) frozen peas
1 large potato, peeled and sliced
1/2 spanish onion, sliced
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian version)
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup cream

  1. Put peas, potato and onion into a saucepan with 1 cup stock and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Cool slightly and blend with 1/2 cup of water till smooth.
  3. Beat egg yolks lightly with cream and add to the pureed mixture.
  4. Heat the remaining stock and add the puree. Stir continuously over a low heat until the soup is smooth and thick. DO NOT BRING TO THE BOIL to prevent the egg yolks curdling.
  5. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Note: The puree can be frozen before adding the egg yolks, cream and extra stock. I divide the puree into 3 portions to freeze. To serve, add frozen or thawed puree portion to 1 cup chicken stock and heat. Add 3 tablespoons cream to a lightly beaten egg yolk. Mix a few tablespoons  of the hot ‘pea’ mixture into the egg mixture then add to the soup.  Stir over low heat till thick. Remove from heat before coming to the boil.


Baked Mushrooms

I recently discovered baking mushrooms maintains the earthy taste and deep flavours of mushrooms far better than any other cooking method. This dish is simple, quick, versatile and tastes – oh so good.

Brown, Swiss or Portobello Mushrooms have the most flavour
30g butter
fresh herbs

  1. Heat oven to 220 C.
  2. Tear mushrooms and place in 20cm diameter metal baking dish.
  3. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and fresh herbs of your choice. I like thyme or continental parsley.
  4. Dot with a few little knobs of butter – you need very little.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Serve as is as an innovative and healthy snack or starter. Alternatively makes a great breakfast or lunch dish if you spread sourdough toast with goats cheese and serve mushrooms on top of the goats cheese with a few extra herbs sprinkled on top.

Lentil, Smoked Salmon and Preserved Lemon Salad

A lovely light lunch for warm spring days, a starter for dinner or even a side salad with chicken or fish. This is easy and quick to throw together so add to your standard repertoire. You may want to take a page out of my daughter, Bianca’s, book and make your own smoked salmon. Here is the link to her blog outlining how to do this.

Serves 2 for lunch or 4 as a side salad.

1 cup green puy lentils, boiled till tender
1/2 preserved lemon, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley
3 Tablespoons finely chopped mint
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 handfuls baby rocket
125g(4oz) smoked salmon, finely sliced
lemon juice & olive oil to dress

  1. Mix drained lentils with salt and pepper and remaining ingredients excluding salmon in a large bowl.
  2. Toss everything together and dress to taste with lemon juice and olive oil.
  3. Serve as a side salad or add finely sliced salmon for a light lunch.

Liz’s Beef and Vegetable Soup for the Last of the Cooler Days

The days are warm already this year with the garden thinking that spring has arrived. However, the nights are still cool – time to enjoy my hearty homemade soup one last time before the warm spring evenings are upon us. This recipe is cobbled together from watching my mother and grandmother making soups with leftovers from the pantry and the fridge. It tastes wholesome with friends and neighbours always asking for some – it’s one of those dishes that never finishes as each day you add a little more water to top up what you ate the previous day !!!

Serves 8.

2 pieces veal osso buco
1 cup dried Italian Soup mix – you want the mixed beans and lentils with no barley
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
3 sticks celery, sliced
3 large carrots, sliced
3 medium desiree or kestrel potatoes, peeled and sliced
mixed herbs – whatever you can find; Bay leaves, Rosemary, parsley stalks, thyme, and the light green celery leaves from the heart of the bunch of celery
1/4 cabbage, shredded
800g(2lb) can diced tomatoes
2 Beef stock cubes
4 cups water
miscellaneous vegetables from fridge to add at the end; I like sliced zuchinni and green beans

  1. Brown the Osso Buco in a little olive oil and butter in a large pot; Remove.
  2. Now saute the onions and garlic. When soft add the herbs to bloom – sautéing in oil releases far more flavour than adding the herbs to the liquid at the end.
  3. Add celery and carrots and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Now add the soup mix, beef stock cubes, canned tomatoes, water and the browned so buck. Bring to the boil. Turn to a low simmer. Simmer for 60 minutes.
  5. After 60 minutes, add the potatoes and shredded cabbage. Continue cooking for another 60 to 90minutes until the soup mix is cooked.
  6. Remove the osso buco. Add marrow from bones to the soup. Remove fat from the meat and shred it. Return shredded meat to the pot. The soup should be thick but if u think it needs more liquid add some now – add half cup water at a time so that you don’t end up diluting soup too much. Bring back to boil. Taste and add seasoning as required.  It is best left for a day at this stage to improve flavour but of course can be eaten immediately.
  7. Just before serving add miscellaneous vegetables on hand; Green Beans, sliced zucchini, etc and heat. Boil for no more than one minute to keep vegetables crunchy.
  8. This soup can keep for up to a week if you reheat it every day. Reheat slowly so as not to burn. Add additional water if it gets to thick BUT add water when soup is hot. The soup thins up as it heats so you cannot be sure how much water is required.
  9. Enjoy with crusty bread.

Jeanette shares her Bean and Avocado Dip

Jeanette is a neighbour from Northbridge that makes this mean dip with a ‘mexican’ twist ideal for any barbecue or party. It’s large, made with wonderful ingredients like avocado, sour cream and kidney beans, and so easy to put together – ideal for a crowd. Thank you Jeanette.

Serves 10-12.

Layer the following:

  • 1 tin red Kidney beans, well mashed
  • 3 avocados mashed with lemon juice, garlic and pepper
  • carton sour cream mixed with 1/2 pkt taco sauce
  • Top with 2 finely chopped tomatoes and half a bunch of chives

Serve with lebanese bread, corn chips or water biscuits.

Portobello Mushrooms with Feta

Portobello mushrooms are meaty and dressed with feta and this herb and chilli dressing they are ideal as a starter or an accompaniment to a steak or any grilled meat.  Comments I have received on serving these are … “this is better than anything I have had in a restaurant”.  There you go – worthwhile compliment for a few minutes work.

Serves 4.

4 large portobello or large brown mushrooms, stalks removed
75g/3ozs Danish feta
1 long red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon chives, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

  1. Preheat barbecue or chargrill to high.
  2. Whisk olive oil, lemon, garlic, herbs, and chilli in a small bowl.
  3. Brush both sides of mushrooms with a little oil. Barbecue or girl for 1-2 minutes on each side until mushrooms are heated through.
  4. Place each mushroom on an individual plate. Top with crumbled feta. Drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately.

Gazpacho – A Lovely Starter for Summer Days

There is nothing quite as good as gazpacho to start to an outdoor meal on a hot evening. It’s summer time and the tomatoes have so much flavour. Based on Robert Carrier’s original recipe from the 1980’s this combines the smooth tomato based puree with the crunch of finely chopped vegetables – so good. Swirling the olive oil mixture through at the end adds a sheen to finish the soup. Do take the time to chop the vegetables very finely. I serve them on a black platter which shows the colours off to perfection. Gazpacho can also be served in shot glasses scattered with chopped vegetables as an ideal finger food for cocktail parties.

Serves 6

1 small clove garlic
6 large vine ripened or truss tomatoes
1 spanish onion, the purple ones
1 large green capsicum
2 lebanese cucumbers
420ml(1 pint) tomato juice
6 Tablespoons olive oil
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon tobasco sauce
2 slices bread, diced and fried in butter to make croutons

  1. Blend 5 tomatoes, garlic, ½ the onion, ¼ capsicum, and 1 cucumber till very smooth. Remaining ingredients will be finely chopped and scattered on top.
  2. Strain and store in fridge till well chilled.
  3. Blend olive oil, tobasco, lemon juice and tomato juice.
  4. Stir into refrigerated mixture and add 1 cube ice.
  5. Serve cold with little bowls of finely chopped tomato, onion, capsicum, cucumber and croutons.

Garlic Prawns – Ideal Start to a Festive Meal

This is our traditional family starter – Christmas is the time to splash out on expensive ingredients like prawns and indulge. The secret to this recipe is to get the amount of cooking for the prawns just right – rather undercook than overcook as they will continue to cook by themselves. The biggest workload is peeling and deveining the prawns, which can be done ahead of time and delegated to another member of the family.
Serves 4

500g green king prawns (4 per person)
1 cup canola oil
60g butter
4 large cloves garlic
1 birdseye chilli, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley

  1. Shell prawns, leaving the tail intact, and remove the back vein.
  2. Place all ingredients except the prawns in a saucepan. Heat until butter has melted and oil is very hot.
  3. Add prawns
  4. After 1 minute (no longer) remove from heat. The prawns will continue cooking in the residual heat.
  5. Serve in individual soufflé dishes or ramekins with wholemeal bread to mop up the sauce.

Pappa al Pomodoro – Tomato Soup with Attitude

A lovely starter for summer days when the tomatoes are full of flavour. Use the best quality tomatoes you can find, serve immediately and you will find this soup, with it’s pure flavours and no added liquid, is the best tomato soup you have ever tasted.  This would also be a superb festive season starter for vegetarians. Serve hot or cold. Adapted from Cafe Sopra.IMG_0617

Serves 8

2kg vine ripened or truss ripe tomatoes
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch basil
125ml olive oil
1/2 loaf day old Italian Bread
40g Parmigiana Reggiano

  1. Cut a cross at the bottom of each tomato. Then blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 20seconds. Place in iced water.
  2. When cool enough to handle, remove tomato skins, cut in half – scoop seed and juice into a separate bowl. Chop tomato flesh roughly. Strain seeds and juice.
  3. Remove and discard crust from bread. Tear into 1 inch chunks.
  4. Remove basil leaves from stalks. Chop stalks finely.
  5. Heat olive oil over a low heat in soup pot. Add garlic and simmer for 1 minute. Do not allow garlic to colour.
  6. Now add tomatoes, basil, and strained juice from seeds. Simmer 15 minutes or until tomatoes are pulpy.
  7. Process till a puree. Reheat gently. Add see salt.
  8. Divide bread into bowls. Scoop over soup. Decorate with Parmigiana Reggiano. Eat immediately.
  9. Make as close to serving time as possible. Does not keep well – the flavour reduces considerably if made ahead of time.

Awesome Stuffed Potatoes to accompany a Barbeque or Grilled Meat

Yes, it’s simple so how can it be so good. The mash inside the potato reminds you of meals growing up and bacon is an awesome flavour. The crunch of the bacon with the velvety texture of the mash plus the way the bacon cooks into the potato, makes these potatoes the star of the meal. Serve with something plain like steamed greens and grilled meat. 

1 pontiac or desiree potato per person
½ bacon rasher per person
1 Tablespoon butter per potato & a little milk to mash

  1. Microwave washed but unpeeled potatoes on high at 3-4 minutes per potato until cooked.
  2. Slice skin off top of potato and remove flesh.
  3. Mash potato flesh with 1 Tablespoon butter per potato and a little milk.
  4. Spoon mash back into potato shells.
  5. Top with a ½ bacon rasher.
  6. Place under griller until bacon is cooked and crispy, turning bacon over once.
  7. Yummy !!!

Carrot Log – A Delightful Addition to a Cocktail Party

None of my guests ever guess that the basic ingredient to this dish is carrot – they always believe it is something exotic. It is certainly much tastier than the average dip and serving it as a log that you slice adds to the mystery. Everyone loved carrot log and I don’t make it nearly often enough. It remains something extra special that my family look forward to when there is a party or guests to entertain. It keeps for a few days in the fridge or you can freeze it. There is certainly no reason this cannot be a regular family snack.Cocktail

250g cream cheese
60g butter
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (about 100g)
2 gherkins, finely diced
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 cup grated carrot
2T(30ml) tomato sauce
bunch of parsley
Water crackers to serve

  1. Chop parsley in the food processor and set aside.
  2. Clean processor, add remaining ingredients and process till well mixed.
  3. Take two sheets of foil and sprinkle a layer of the chopped parsley over each.
  4. Halve the cheese mixture, rolling each half into a log.
  5. Place cheese log in centre of foil and carefully roll foil around it so that parsley entirely covers log, adding a parsley outer coating.
  6. Refrigerate in foil until ready serve – at least 2 hours for flavours to mix.
  7. Turn out onto plate and serve with plain biscuits like water crackers.
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