Beetroot Orzotto

As beautiful and vibrant to eat as it is to look at!!

1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cups pearl barley
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. dried thyme
125ml dry vermouth or white wine
4 1/4 cups vegetable broth
3 cups cooked beetroot cubes (not in vinegar)
150ml sour cream, plus more for serving
50g chopped pecans
3 tsp. chopped chives

Gently cook the onions in the oil in a deep, wide saucepan until softened. Stir in the barley and stir for about 2 minutes, then stir in the thyme. Tip in the vermouth and let it bubble up, then add the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the barley is tender.

Meanwhile, puree half of the beetroot with half of the sour cream. Stir into the cooked barley along with the remaining cubed beetroot and warm through.

Spoon into a serving bowl and top with the pecans and chives and more sour cream, if using.

Serves 10-16 as part of a feast, or 8-10 if not

Coffee and Walnut Splouge Cookies

This lovely little cookies come together in a jot and are perfect with a cuppa.

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
14 tbs. butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 tbs. instant espresso powder
2 eggs
generous 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Heat the oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream together the butter and the sugars, then add the espresso powder and the eggs. Stir in the flour mixture just to incorporate, then stir in the walnuts.

Using a smallish ice cream scoop or two spoons, drops mounds of the batter onto the baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden and just set to the touch. Cool on wire racks then store in an airtight container.

A Riff on a Caesar Salad

The classic salad is deconstructed here – and all the better for it! Top with a fried egg for the ultimate experience!

1 romaine heart
2 tbs. regular olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated or crushed
4 anchovy fillets (the kind packed in oil), finely chopped
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, plus lemon to serve
Parmesan cheese shavings

Heat the oven to 425°F. Cut the lettuce in half lengthways and lay both halves cut-side up in a baking dish lined with foil. Stir together the oil, garlic and anchovies, then spoon over the lettuce. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Add the lemon zest and juice, then cook for another 5 minutes.

Transfer to a plate and shave Parmesan on top.

Serves 2

 

Garlicy Roast Potatoes with Oregano and Feta

Inspired by chips served in Melbourne, these splendid spuds will delight you.

2 1/2 lb. potatoes, unpeeled and cut unto 1″ cubes
4 tbs. regular olive oil
6 fat cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled to give 1 cup loosely packed

Heat the oven to 425°F. Tumble the potatoes into a shallow roasting tin, large enough for the potatoes to sit in one layer. Toss in the oil, garlic and oregano. Roast for 50-60 minutes until golden, crisp and cooked through.

Transfer to a serving bowl and toss with most of the feta, then sprinkle the remaining feta on top. If you have any fresh oregano, sprinkle it on top.

Serves 4-6

Shrimp with Garlic and Chili Pepper

Sheer simplicity in flavor and preparation! Serve over pasta or rice.

2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 – 1 fresh red chili (according to size and taste), minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb. medium raw shrimp
1/2 cup white wine
1 tbs. chopped fresh parsley

Pour the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet, then add the chili and garlic. Cook over a moderate heat for 2 minutes, stirring all the time. Turn the heat to high and add the  shrimp and stir-fry for another 2 minutes until they just begin to turn pink. Tip in the wine and let it bubble for another minute or so, then season with salt, if necessary and stir through the parsley.

Serves 1

Rhubarb Crumble

Either custard or vanilla ice cream is a must with the luscious pudding.

2 lbs. pink rhubarb, chopped into 1/2″ pieces (approximately 7 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tbs. butter
1 tbs. vanilla extract
1 tbs. cornstarch
For the crumble topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
8 tbs. butter, cold and diced
3 tbs. caster sugar
3 tbs. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

 

Heat the oven to 375°F and put in a baking sheet to catch any drips that may occur while baking.

Toss the rhubarb into a pan with the sugar, butter, vanilla and cornstarch. Heat for 5 minutes or until the butter has melted and everything is oozed together. Tip this into a pie plate approximately 8 1/2″ in diameter and set aside.

To make the crumble, combine the flour, baking powder and butter in a large bowl. Using the pads of you fingers, run this together until it resembles rough oatmeal. Stir in the sugars and vanilla extract, then sprinkle over the rhubarb, taking care to cover the fruit right to the edges.

Place on the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is browned and the fruit is bubbly.

Serves 10

Ham Steaks with Parsley

This lovely recipe is perfect for a busy day – it comes together in mere moments, but tastes very sophisticated.

2 tsp. garlic-infused olive oil
2 ham steaks
2 tbs. white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
lots of freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. honey
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley

Heat a largish and add the oil.  Cook the ham steaks for 3 minutes per side, then remove to two warmed dinner plates.

Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the vinegar, water, pepper, honey and most of the parsley. Swirl it around, scrape up any browned bits, then pour over the ham steaks. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve.

Serves 2

 

Tagliata For Two

Pronounced “tallyata”, this sumptuous steak supper is perfect for an at home date night.

2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
scant 1 tsp. kosher salt ot 1/2 tsp. table salt
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 New York strip steak
8 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
fresh oregano sprigs, to serve (optional)
arugula, to serve

In a small dish that the steak will fit in snuggly, combine the 2 tbs. oil, red pepper flakes, dried oregano, salt and vinegar. Set aside.

Heat a grill, griddle or heavy non-stick pan. Brush the steak with a little oil and cook over a hot heat for 2 minutes per side. More if you don’t like your steak rare.

Remove the steak to the dish with the marinade and leave for 2-3 minutes. Remove to a cutting board, then toss and smoosh the tomatoes in the marinade. Slice the steak into thin strips.

Scatter the arugula on a plate, top with the steak strips and tomatoes, then drizzle over any remaining marinade. Add a few leaves of fresh oregano, if using and serve.

Serves 2

Red Pepper Hummus

Delightful and delicious with crisp strips of red pepper or any crudite.

1 14 oz. tin chickpeas
1 12 oz. jar roasted red peppers
2 tbs. cream cheese
2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
1 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. paprika
salt

Drain the chickpeas and red peppers and place them in a food processor. Add the cream cheese, olive oil, lime juice and paprika.

Whiz into a hummus-like puree, then add salt to taste and perhaps a bit more lime juice if needed.

White Chocolate and Orange Muffins

A joy to make and a joy to eat!

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup polenta or fine cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
6 tbs. vegetable oil
1 egg
3/4 cup whole milk
zest and juice of 1 orange

Heat the oven to 400°F and line 12 muffin tins with paper cases.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, polenta, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and chocolate chips. In a smaller bowl, combine the oil, egg, milk, orange zest and orange juice. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

Divide between the muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool.