Chicken Barley

This thick, creamy potage is somewhere between a soup and a stew and absolutely delicious.

3 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into chunky batons
3 medium parsnips, peeled, trimmed and cut into chunky batons
3/4 cup pearl barley
6 bone-in, skin-off chicken thighs
5 cups chicken stock
2 tsp. English mustard
chopped parsley, to serve

Tip the veggies into a large pot the comes with a lid. Add the barley and the chicken. Pour the stock into a jug and stir in the mustard, then pour into the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, partially cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring it now and then. If it looks dry, add a little boiling water.

After the hour, remove from the heat and remove the chicken thighs. Using two forks, pull the meat off the bones and return it to the pot. Serve in heated bowls topped with chopped parsley.

Serves 4-6

Potato and Onion Hash

This is written to serve 1, but it can easily be increased. The cayenne pepper is the key.

1 small onion, halved and sliced into half moons
1 tbs. olive oil
2 cups all-purpose potatoes, skin-on and cut into 1/2″ dice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 egg

Heat the oil in a skillet and add the onion, then cook over a medium heat with a sprinkle of salt until softened. Tip in the potatoes and cayenne pepper, turn the heat down and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring now and then, until the potatoes are tender and beginning to caramelize.

Turn the heat up and push the hash to one side. Crack the egg into the empty half and fry to your liking. Serve the egg over the hash.

Serves 1

Green Pasta with Blue Cheese

Four ingredients for instant comfort food.

8 oz. trottole verde or any curly pasta of choice
4 oz. gorgonzola, crumbled
4 cups baby spinach leaves
3 tbs. chopped, shelled pistachios

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and generously salt it. Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Reserve a cup of the pasta water and drain.

Return the pasta to the pot along with the gorgonzola and spinach. Put on the lid and leave to sit without heat for 2 minutes. Remove the lid, put the heat on low and stir everything together, adding as much pasta water as you need to thin out the sauce.

Take off the heat, toss in about two-thirds of the pistachios, then divide between 2 warmed bowls. Scatter over the remaining pistachios and a good grinding of black pepper to serve.

Serves 2

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