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
- Heat oven to 220 C.
- Tear mushrooms and place in 20cm diameter metal baking dish.
- Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and fresh herbs of your choice. I like thyme or continental parsley.
- Dot with a few little knobs of butter – you need very little.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- 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.
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 !!!
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
- Brown the Osso Buco in a little olive oil and butter in a large pot; Remove.
- 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.
- Add celery and carrots and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
- 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.
- After 60 minutes, add the potatoes and shredded cabbage. Continue cooking for another 60 to 90minutes until the soup mix is cooked.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Enjoy with crusty bread.
Cauliflower Rice – A Delicious Low Cal Alternative to Rice
There are so many benefits to this delicious dish – its a tasty way to cook cauliflower that the kids will love, a great addition to a curry evening, an alternative to using rice or couscous, and its paleo and vegan. It even freezes well. A rough estimate says a serve is 50 to 60 calories versus rice which is approximately 250 calories a serve.
1 whole cauliflower, approx 800g
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon tumeric powder
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
2 cinnamon sticks
1 mild long green chilli, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon favourite curry powder
1/2 cup hot vegetable stock or water
2 green spring onions, chopped
4 Tablespoons slivered or flaked almonds, toasted
- Remove thickest stems of cauliflower and discard. Slice the cauliflower florets and PULSE in a food processor briefly until they look like rice or cous cous. DO NOT OVERDO OR YOU WILL HAVE MUSH.
- Heat oil in large frying pan over low heat. Add mustard seeds, green chilli and cinnamon sticks. Cook 30 seconds.
- Increase heat to medium. Add the cauliflower, tossing well to coat. Add the curry powder, turmeric, stock or water and cook for 1 to 2 minutes – no longer.
- Mix in spring onions, scatter with toasted almonds and serve.
- If freezing, omit the toasted almonds – scatter these after you have reheated.
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.
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
- 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.
- Strain and store in fridge till well chilled.
- Blend olive oil, tobasco, lemon juice and tomato juice.
- Stir into refrigerated mixture and add 1 cube ice.
- Serve cold with little bowls of finely chopped tomato, onion, capsicum, cucumber and croutons.
Italian Potatoes – As good as Chips but a lot Healthier
I always felt chips were really bad because of all that oil. This recipe was my attempt to get something that tasted as good as chips without all the calories. Excellent with grilled meat.
4 large potatoes, one per person
2-3 cloves garlic
5-6 sprigs rosemary
- Heat oven to 180°C (350°F)
- Cut 4 peeled potatoes into 1cm cubes.
- Heat a little olive oil in 23cm casserole dish for a few minutes.
- Place potatoes in single layer on bottom of dish.
- Sprinkle over 2-3 large cloves crushed garlic and 5-6 sprigs fresh rosemary.
- Dot with butter.
- Bake uncovered turning every 20 minutes for 60 minutes in total.
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
- Microwave washed but unpeeled potatoes on high at 3-4 minutes per potato until cooked.
- Slice skin off top of potato and remove flesh.
- Mash potato flesh with 1 Tablespoon butter per potato and a little milk.
- Spoon mash back into potato shells.
- Top with a ½ bacon rasher.
- Place under griller until bacon is cooked and crispy, turning bacon over once.
- Yummy !!!
Spinach Salad with Warm Garlic Dressing
This salad combines strong flavours and is a good match for a simple main course like grilled fish or chicken. Salad is also great as a starter for a dinner party or as a light lunch. The dressing should be prepared just before serving so that it is still slightly warm when being served.
250g baby English spinach leaves
½ cup semi dried tomatoes
12 slices sourdough baguette
3T(45ml) olive oil
3 cloves garlic
¼ cup ligurian olives
2T(30ml) lemon juice
2T(30ml) thyme leaves
cracked black pepper
- Place spinach leaves on serving plates.
- Scatter semi dried tomatoes over spinach leaves.
- Drizzle baguettes slices with extra olive and grill on both sides till golden.
- Heat olive oil for dressing in a small pan over a low heat.
- Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add remaining dressing ingredients and cook for 1 minute or until heated through.
- Pour warm dressing over salad.
- Top with baguette and serve immediately.
Butternut and Apple Bake
Simple yet delicious with any roast or barbequed red meat. The treacly syrup addition makes this an excellent side with spicy food as well. Why shouldn’t vegetables be treated with the same respect as meat.
1/2 butternut cut into ½ cm thick slices
2-3 granny smith apples cut into ½ cm thick slices
40g melted butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
- Place half the butternut in baking dish in a single layer.
- Cover with a layer of apples.
- Continue with a second layer of butternut and apples finishing with a layer of apples.
- Add ½ cup packed brown sugar, 2ml mace and 2t flour to the 40g of melted butter.
- Pour melted butter and sugar mixture over the layered apples and butternut.
- Cover with foil or a lid.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes at 180°C.
- Yummy !!!
Ratatouille with Eggs for a Complete Meal
When young, the kids wouldn’t eat ratatouille because it was full of vegetables and had tomatoes!!! Now that the kids are grown ups they love it. I have included the basic vegetables required but you can add any other firm vegetables. The addition of the egg is delicious and provides protein for a complete meal.
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1x440g tin whole tomatoes, roughly chopped
¼ eggplant, cubed
1/2 capsicum, cut into 1cm slices
1 zucchini, cut into thick slices
100g green beans, top and tailed
100g button mushrooms, halved
- Sauté onion and garlic in a large frying pan.
- Add eggplant and capsicum. When starting to soften add remaining vegetables and mixed herbs.
- Cover with a lid and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Make two hollows and break an egg into each
- Replace lid and serve when eggs are cooked.
- Serve with good wholemeal bread.
Potatoes with Cream – totally indulgent
This is utterly delicious and very rich – one of those dishes where you eat it slowly and savour every morsel to retain the taste and velvet texture. It is best served with grilled fish and a plain green vegetable. Ideal for dinner parties as you can prepare a day or two ahead of time and reheat before serving.
700g potatoes, peeled
300ml cold milk
50 cheddar cheese, grated
- Thickly butter a shallow ovenproof serving dish.
- Slice peeled potatoes about ½cm thick.
- Place in saucepan with milk and bring to boil and simmer s-l-o-w-l-y for 10minutes.
- Drain off milk, discard and cover potatoes with the cream.
- Bring to boil and cook potatoes slowly in the cream for another 10 minutes.
- Spoon potatoes and cream into serving dish, and sprinkle with the cheese.
- You can either grill the top of the potatoes now till the top is brown and bubbles or keep the dish for a day or two then reheat and place under the grill.
Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce appeals to Children and Teens
I always had trouble getting the kids to eat vegetables until I discovered this dish which they loved. It takes 10 minutes to prepare.
1T (15ml) oyster sauce
1T (15ml) cooking sherry
1T(15ml) soya sauce
1T(15ml) chopped fresh ginger
2 bunches bok coy
- Wash and quarter Bok Choy. If they are small such as those in the picture halve rather than quarter them.
- Sauté ginger in a little olive oil over a low heat in a frying pan.
- Add remaining ingredients excluding bok choy and bring to simmer.
- Now add bok choy, placing stems in the pan and trying to leave leaves outside pan so that stems cook and leaves will not be overcooked. Cover with lid leaving leaves uncovered if possible.
- After 2-3minutes turn stems over and simmer in the same way for another 2-3minutes till stems are tender.
- Stir leaves in and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Serve immediately.