Category Archives: Entrees

Leek and chickpea soup


It’s so freezing outside that I thought I should share with you a soup recipe that has become one of my all-time favourites. I adore leeks and seeing as they are in season, now is an ideal time to whip this up. I really didn’t like the idea of chickpeas in soup at first – but although it only has a few ingredients, the flavour is amazing. I originally saw this made on a Jamie Oliver cooking show way back when. I’ve made it my own and no longer need the recipe to guide me. Everyone I have served it to has been impressed 🙂

So – introducing …

 Leek and Chickpea Soup

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 leeks
  • 3 desiree potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 cans of chickpeas, drained and well rinsed
  • 1.5 – 2 litres of chicken stock
  • Parmesan cheese (to serve, but optional)

Cut leeks down the middle, discarding the tough green part at the top, and clean thoroughly under running water. Chop fairly finely.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add leeks and a few good pinches of salt. The salt will not only add flavour, but allow the leeks to wilt, without colouring. This should take about five minutes over a medium heat – ensure you keep an eye on it and stir regularly.

Add the potatoes, along with the chickpeas and cook until heated through. Add stock at this point – enough to generously cover the mixture.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, or until potato cubes are tender.

Remove from heat and using a stick mixer (or blender), blitz the ingredients, but leave some chunky bits.

Blitzing ensures the soup is beautiful and creamy, but leaving some chunky bits of chickpea and leek means there is really nice texture too. However, feel free to blitz to a smooth consistency if that’s what you prefer.

Bring back to the simmer – now you can judge whether more stock needs to be added. Just add more until the texture is to your liking. Make sure you have a taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve drizzled with some olive oil and shavings of parmesan cheese.

This soup really is a meal in a bowl and also makes a fantastic lunch. You can freeze it too, if you want – but I find this one disappears out of the fridge pretty quickly!

My Groovy Kitchen Tunes track for this warm, nutty soup would have to be Dark Storm, by The Jezebels. Its title is reflective of our weather here in Victoria at the moment, but there’s something warming and hopeful about it at the same time. Curl up on the couch tonight in front of the TV, pop a blanket over you and enjoy this soup and just think, the weekend is nearly here!! Sounds like a perfect Wednesday night to me 🙂

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Creamy mushroom and asparagus risotto


This was the first risotto recipe I ever made, and while I have done many more since, this delicious combination has stood the test of time.

My first attempt was back when I was a 23-year-old sub-editor working the 3pm to 12am shift at a daily newspaper in a country town in New South Wales. Boredom and loneliness was often an issue for me, so I used to entertain myself by cooking up heaps of different dishes. I didn’t have to worry about feeding someone else and what their likes and dislikes were. I didn’t have to stress if the dish took forever, I was on my time, no hungry people (other than my tummy) hovering around. As a tribute to my solitude, I went a little crazy with my culinary experiments. The best part for me was that if one of my far-fetched dishes turned into an inedible mess, I would be the only one going to bed hungry.

So, I headed to the shop, brought a packet of alborio rice, and looked at the back of the packet to find this very recipe (which I have since adapted). I then proceeded to walk around and around the supermarket, finding the bits and pieces I needed. One thing I discovered about myself during this lonely phase (I learnt a lot, actually) was that without a little direction – I get totally lost and distracted in supermarkets. I used to go from the freezer section to the deli and then up to the biscuit isle, before realising I forgot the parsley in the fruit and veg section. I’d then think; “ice-cream, would be nice …”  so off I’d go to the other end of the shop.

 My fiancée would attest that I’m not much better when accompanied by someone willing to carry my basket of goodies – but I do try to stay focused!

Anyway, I digress –  back to the risotto.

I cut up all my ingredients (something I recommend doing when cooking any dish for the first time, especially when using a new technique – it keeps things a little more organised and helps with timing) and I got underway. I added rice and wine and stock and stirred it round and round as I did so. I got a little bored with the stirring, so I phoned a friend, holding the phone with one hand and my wodden spoon with the other. We had a good old chat! 

In the finish, it came out ok. Although it was a bit dry, and it got stuck to the bottom of the pan.

But I pressed ahead and served my little experiment into a nice bowl. I then took up my position on my old, uncomfortable futon couch, in my holey, but very comfy PJs you would never let a boy see you in for how unsexy they were. All this was completed with a nice drop of wine in my very best coffee mug, perched on the floor beside me. Upon the first bite, I discovered I had produced a meal that was, well, quite uncooked. Ok, it was crunchy. I obviously hadn’t persisted long enough with the ladelling of stock and stirring of rice.

But, the flavours were all there – it was just the texture that was wrong. I did eat it all too. I was hungry and it was too cold and too late to head out for Maccas.

I bet you aren’t keen to try this recipe now – but you really should. Honestly! Learn from my mistakes and you’ll do as well as my second attempt – which turned out fabulously well!

Tips to perfect risotto:

  • Taste the rice before you decide it’s ready, and continue to ladel and stir until you get the right texture, which is soft with the subtlest bite to the rice – it should be creamy and loose.
  • Heat your stock in a pot beside your risotto pan – it takes less time for the rice to absorb hot stock then cold, making it much, much quicker.
  • Use a non-stick frypan – trust me, this is a good idea!
  • Cook the risotto at a high heat and don’t stop stirring! The stirring releases the starch from the rice, making the risotto creamy.
  • Always check your seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • The other trick I discovered was that it’s worth getting someone to give you a hand with the stirring – this means employing a spouse, friend, teenager etc to do this for you. Best idea ever!

Creamy mushroom and asparagus risotto

  • Tandoori Chicken Risotto
  • 600gm of chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup of pancetta, diced
  • 200gm of alborio rice
  • 1/2 a bottle of white wine
  • 4 portabelo mushrooms (or whichever ones you like), sliced
  • 1 litre of chicken stock (you will probably use less than this, but best to have it on hand)
  • 3 bunches of asparagus, trim away the woody bit, leaving the spears
  • 2 handfuls of grated parmesan (a good quality one)
  • 3 tbs of thickened cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Put the chicken stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil before turning right down.

Heat a little olive oil in a non-stick pan and cook the onion over a low heat, until it is beginning to soften. Add the panchetta and cook for a further two minutes or so.

Turn up the heat and add your chicken. Cook for about five minutes, then add the alborio rice.

Stir so that all the grains are coated and really hot, but don’t burn them. Add all the wine. It will bubble a lot (if it doesn’t, your stove isn’t hot enough). Stir until the wine has absorbed. 

At this point, start ladelling your stock in. Put one ladel full of stock in at a time and stir each until it has absorbed into the rice before adding the next. This will take about 20 to 30 minutes. Ensuring your stock is hot before adding it will quicken the process.

After about 10 minutes (so the rice should be half-cooked) add the mushroom and asparagus.

 The only way to tell that it’s ready it to taste it, as mentioned previously. Make sure the risotto is nice and lose and creamy – it shouldn’t be dry and stodgy.

Finish with the cheese and cream. Once you have stirred it through, you might like to add a touch more stock, as the cheese can thicken the risotto.  

Whether you have tried cooking risotto before or not – this is a great recipe and I promise, as long as you taste and stir, it will be lovely, creamy and comforting! Why not make it the next time you have an afternoon free, your next anniversary dinner when the kids are elsewhere or for your next dinner party.

This recipe really isn’t one to freeze. You can if you want, but the texture will change. Add some water when reheating if you’d like to try it.

Be inspired~

Lisa

The Weekly Cook Up: Marinades


Marinating meat is a great way to not only save time, but to inject lots of awesome flavour into a week-night meal.

This week I’m going to share with you three really awesome marinades, which can be used on chicken, beef and lamb which will have your family raving not only about the great flavours, but also the tenderness of the meat.

Marinading meat is so convenient because you can do your weekly/fortnightly or monthly shop and marinate whatever meats you wish before popping them in the freezer. Once thawed, all that is left to do is cook it, and because it will be bursting with flavour, a simple salad or side of vegies is the only accompaniement required.

Don’t know much about marinating? Well, you’ll see from the below recipes that there are generally three main ingredients in each – acid (like lemon juice), oils and seasonings (herbs, spices, salt and pepper etc). The oils and the acids help tenderise the meat and break down the fibres to allow the seasonings to penetrate their great flavour. Once you get hold of a few good marinating recipes and start to understand what flavours work – then you’ll be making up your own before you know it!

Greek-style marinade

  • Half a cup of olive oil
  • The juice of a whole lemon
  • 1 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 a tsp of sea salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbs of dried oregano

This marinade is great for chicken thighs or lamb chops, which can then be grilled on a hot pan or on the barbecue.

You could also spread it over a whole chicken or on maryland pieces (which is the cut with the thigh and leg bone, joined together) before roasting in a medium  oven (about 180 to 200 degrees C – cooking times depend on the size of your whole bird, but marylands should take about 45 minutes).

But this is most ideal on a leg of lamb before roasting, or ask you butcher to butterfly the leg – which means he’ll remove the bone, leaving a nice flat piece of meat. Marinate it, and then cook it on the barbecue. It’s just amazing!

 Spicy Asian Marinade

  • 2cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 a red chilli, finely chopped (remove seeds to reduce spice)
  • 1/2 a green chilli, finely chopped (remove seeds to reduce spice)
  • 5 tbs of soy sauce
  • 2 tbs of fish sauce
  • 1/4 of a cup of peanut oil
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • The juice of half a lime

This marinade is ideal for chicken and beef. Chicken strips can be marinated and stir-fryed with some Asian greens, or beef steaks will soak up these beautiful flavours before being cooked medium to rare on a barbecue and used in a Asian beef salad. It’s also great for meats you want to skewer and then barbecue. Beware though, it is quite spicy – so not one for the kids.

Moroccan marinade

  • 1/2 a cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs of Moroccan spice blend/seasoning
  • 1 tsp of lemon zest
  • 1/2 a tsp of sea salt
  • 1/2 a tsp of black pepper

This marinade is very versatile and is great for all cuts of chicken, is fabulous on lamb chops or back strap (cooked medium on the barbecue) or on tender cuts of beef.

Method and tips for all marinades

Combine all ingredients and whisk well. All these marinades yield enough for 1 to 1.5 kilograms of meat. The best way to marinade it to place meat in a freezer bag, add marinade and seal the bag, ensuring all the air is out. Toss, turn and massage the meat in the bag (having the bag sealed prior to doing this exercise saves your hands from getting all dirty, but ensures the meat and marinade is well combined). Ensure you use a large enough freezer bag for your quantity of meat.

Freeze for up to three months. To thaw – place the frozen meat in the fridge the night before you need it. This is the most hygienic way of thawing meat.

You can marinate the meat on the same day as you plan to use it, but the flavour won’t be as good. However, as long as the meat has at least 2 hours in the fridge, it will still be delicious.

This really is the simplest and easiest process to inject wonderful flavour. So, no more boring lamb chops or roast chickens. Inject some flavour – your family will thank you!

Any questions about marinating? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.

And before I forget – Uforic Food now has its very own Facebook page. Visit it here and don’t forget to ‘like’ us!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

The Weekly Cook Up – Chicken noodle soup


I don’t know what the weather is like in your part of the world, but here it’s delivering mostly sunny days, but the evenings have inherited that true winter chill we haven’t felt for a while here in southern Australia.

While this is a cue for most people to pull out their fluffy ugg boots, cardigans and to curl up and watch TV with a nice warm blanket over your lap – for me, it’s also about cooking really yummy soups. Mostly, I take them to work for lunch, because I generally have a decent appetite at dinner time and really want something substantial. However, this chicken soup is a true meal.

With cooler weather comes colds and flues, and if you haven’t heard, chicken soup has wonderful medicinal, anti-inflamatory properties. All the more reason to get into the kitchen this weekend and cook up a nice big batch. This recipe will give you four to six large serves. It’s healthy, warming and completely delish!

Most of us have a long weekend ahead (Happy Easter, by the way!!) so now is a great time to get in the kitchen and do some cook ups. Don’t forget to check out these other fabulous recipes which will help you fill your freezer.

Delicious Dal

Braised pork chops with apples and cabbage

Ginger and coriander curry

Chicken Soup

The broth
– 1 whole free-range chicken
– 3 stalks of celery – roughly chopped (include top leaves for extra flavour)
– 3 carrots – roughly chopped
– 3 large red onions, unpeeled, roughly chopped
– 1 handful of fresh parsley
– 2 leeks (use only white parts) roughly chopped
– 3 cloves of garlic – whole with skin on
– 6 peppercorns
– 2 bay leaves
– A few good pinches of sea salt (to taste)
– I stalk of lemon grass – bruised (optional)
The soup
– 3 stalks of celery, washed and diced
– 2 leeks, washed and diced (use only the white part)
– 1 packet of vermicelli noodles
– The flesh of a whole cooked chicken (cooked using the broth above)
– 3 tablespoons of soy sauce (or to taste)
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
 
Combine all ingredients for the broth in a large stock pot and pour over enough cold water to cover all the vegetables and to ensure the chicken is submerged.
Cover and simmer very gently for about 1 hour.
Remove from heat, retrieve the chicken and set aside.
Strain the liquid into a clean bowl, pressing the vegetables to extract the flavour. Transfer back into the saucepan and allow to cool.  Discard the cooked vegies.
 
Meanwhile, once the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull it apart with your hands, discarding the skin and bones, and separate the tender flesh into chunks. Set these aside for later.
Once the broth has cooled, scoop away any fat or impurities that have risen to the top and discard them. This leaves a beautiful, clean broth. An easy way to do this is to pop the cooled broth into the fridge overnight. The next day the fat and impurities will have formed a skin on top, making it even easier to skim and discard.
 
Bring the broth back up to the boil and add the remaining soup ingredients. Simmer until the noodles are cooked through, which sound only take a few minutes. Before serving, check for seasoning. I find this needs quite a bit of salt to bring out all the subtle flavours – so make sure you taste it and adjust to your tastes.
 
Serve in big bowls, with some nice, crusty bread.
Alternatively, if you’d like to freeze this for later use, pour into containers, label and freeze for up to three months. This can be reheated easily in the microwave and makes perfect lunches to take to work.
 
What kinds of soups do you look forward to eating in winter? I’m always looking for new ones to try!
Stay tuned for even more soups as the weather gets cooler!
 
Be Inspired~
Lisa
 

The Mondayitis cure: chargrilled squid salad


It’s Monday afternoon and you’ve got no idea what to cook for dinner tonight … this chargrilled squid salad is the answer.

If you don’t have the ingredients at home – then you only need to stop by two sections of the supermarket to get everything you need. You’ll be in and through the check-out in no more than 10 minutes. I think this is crucial because the supermarket pit-stop on weekdays, for me anyway, is one I dread. I just want to get home and start cooking and relaxing!

The flavours here are fresh and yummy, and the avocado really gives it a comforting creaminess – without the guilt!

CHARGRILLED SQUID SALAD

  • 300gm of squid tubes, cleaned
  • Olive oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • the juice of ½ a lime
  • 2 very ripe avocados
  • 1-2 fresh red chillies, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of chopped coriander
  • ½ a red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • juice of 2 limes

Method

Squeeze the avocados out of their skins into a bowl, removing the stones. Add most of the chilli and coriander, the onion, tomato and lime juice. Mix everything up with a spoon, hacking up any bigger bits of avocado as you go. Have a taste to check the balance, and season with salt and pepper.

Put a griddle pan on a high heat to get nice and hot. For the squid tubes put the knife in the tube and cut through the side, open it out then lightly score every ½cm in a criss-cross fashion with a blunt knife. This means the squid will curl up and absorb extra flavour.

Season the squid with a pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil then toss to coat. Add it to the hot griddle, scored-side down, for 1 to 2 minutes. Use tongs to turn the squid over once it has nice char marks. Give it a minute on the other side until it curls up then immediately transfer to a bowl. While the squid is still piping hot, add a really good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, the lime juice and another small pinch of salt and pepper.

Spoon the avocado salad onto a platter. Cut the squid into bite-sized chunks. Pile the squid over the salad and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Scatter over the reserved coriander and chilli.

This dish looks so pretty. I know it’s Monday, but why not light some candles, pour some wine and sit down with you partner and pretend it’s the weekend!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Baba ghanouj – Eggplant dip


Eggplant is in season and so it’s time to start thinking of some creative ways of serving it.

A lot of people don’t really like eggplant, or aubergine as it is known is some places, all that much. I used to be one of them. It can be bitter if not treated to a nice sprinkling of sea salt, and if you under-cook it, it’s gonna have a funny, squeaky texture.

How do I like it best? Well, while I do love it in curries because its spongy flesh really soaks up all the flavours – You can’t go past it in a dip known as Baba ghanouj.

It is an Arab dish and in some parts is served as an appetizer while in others they like it as a side-dish or salad.

With eggplants plentiful, why not give this recipe a go. This one is inspired by SBS Food Safari – the Lebanese episode. It’s creamy, delicious and very good for you!

Baba Ghanoush

 

  • 2-3 medium sized eggplant
  • 1½ tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika

Method:

Grill whole eggplant over a gas flame, turning with tongs until the skin is evenly toasted. Soak in cold water for about 10 min to cool.

When cool, completely peel the eggplants and drain for 15-20 min. Place into a food processor with tahini, lemon, garlic and salt and process again until well combined and creamy.

Place the mixture in a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a little paprika.

The recipe suggested finishing at the end with a chopped tomato and some parsley. Feel free to add it if you have it on hand.

Remember to also taste the dip before you serve it – the lemon, salt and tahini may need tweaking to suit your tastes.

I’ve also had some trouble in the past actually finding tahini. I always find it in the health food section at the supermarket. I’m sure you can get it from health food shops too. It’s basically a sesame seed paste – very strong in flavour – but very yummy 🙂

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Masterclass Lesson #3: Chilli mud crab


I have wanted to try chilli mud crab ever since my dad raved about how amazing it is.

I’ve seen it cooked on TV – and apparently it’s normal and quite traditional for the sauce to consist in-part – of tomato sauce.

The recipe we learnt during the masterclass was no different – and my God it tasted incredible. I really like hot food – but not so hot that you can’t taste the flavours. The heat in this recipe is absolutely perfect. In saying that, if you aren’t a fan of a bit of heat – this isn’t one for you.

Our teacher – Executive Chef of Oakdene Vineyard Marty Chichester gave us some great tips on how to prepare the crab – like popping it in the freezer for 20 minutes to ensure it is “asleep” before removing the claws, the top part of the shell and getting rid of the very creepy-looking “dead man’s fingers”. Eewww they look yuck!! You also remove the brown meat – but like the lobster – don’t be tempted to wash it under water. It ruins the flavour. Just clean it up as best as you can, and then go ahead and cook it.

I think the most vital part of the crab is the claws – that’s where most of the yummy white flesh is. Make sure you crack the claws with the back of a heavy knife – but not so much that it cracks into little pieces. Just enough to let the flavours of the sauce in.

So, once you have made all your preparations – you’re ready to cook

Chilli Mud Crab

 

  • 2 mud crabs
  • 3 Tbs of olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 banana chillies – chopped into chunky rounds
  • 2 Tbs of ginger chopped julienne
  • 1/2 a cup of tomato sauce
  • 1/4 of a cup of sweet chilli sauce
  • 1/2 a cup of water
  • 3 tbs of hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 a cup of spring onion, sliced
  • 1/2 a cup of a mix between Vietnamese mint and coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbs of coriander root, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs of fish sauce
  • 3 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • 30 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Method

Heat the oil in a wok, then add the garlic, chilli, ginger and coriander root. Cook until it’s fragrant.

Add crabs and toss all together.

Add tomato sauce, chilli sauce, water, hoi sin sauce, fish sauce, sugar and salt.

Stir to combine all ingredients and bring it to the boil.

Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the spring onions, cherry tomatoes and herbs and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Serve immediately.

 At the masterclass we served this with jasmine rice. It was perfect because it soaked up the beautiful, tangy and spicy sauce. We also made an apple salad. It perfectly complimented the crab, and was really fresh and sweet.

See you tomorrow for the apple salad recipe!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Masterclass lesson #2: Lobster with garlic butter


The main course we cooked at the chef masterclass with Marty Chichester meant I got to not only cook, but eat an entire lobster – all to myself!! Talk about a very special treat.

The meat was delicate and perfectly cooked (not thanks to my skills – but to very good instruction) – and the garlic butter complemented the sweetness of the flesh. We also cooked chilli mud crab (which I know is one of my dad’s favourite dishes – I’m sure he’ll be thrilled that I now know how to cook it!)

But, more about the crab tomorrow.

As we all know, lobster is really expensive – so you want to make sure you know what you’re doing. I think you’d be heartbroken if you served it, and it was rubbery and tasted like rubbish.

Marty gave us some great tips about cooking lobster:

– Put your live, uncooked lobster in the freezer for 20 minutes before you cook it. This puts the lobster to “sleep”. Apparently they kick and make a big miss if you pop them in boiling water while they’re still alive. Let’s face it – it’s cruel. Putting them in the freezer is the most humane way of cooking them.

– Cook a medium to large-sized lobster in boiling water for about 7 minutes. At the end of the 7 minutes, plunge it into a sink filled with ice water. This brings the temperature right down, stopping the cooking process. This will not cook the lobster all the way through – just enough for it to hold together when you cut it in half, lengthways. You finish the cooking after adding your flavourings, in an oven or under a griller. This ensures you don’t over cook the lobster and make it rubbery.

– After you have cut your lobster lengthways – you have to clean out the innards (or mustard, as some people call it – I’m guessing because of the colour). You can eat it – but I have no desire to. Now you really do need to get in with your hands and scoop it out – you could use a spoon, but I don’t think it would work that well. Marty said that no matter how tempted you are, don’t wash the lobster. Like with the oysters I wrote about yesterday, it washes away all the great flavours. You also need to remove the waste tract which goes through the tail. It looks much like the vein in a prawn – just bigger.

Now that the yucky stuff is done the fun stuff begins. It was great to learn all the above tips. It was all the things I was so nervous about. But, now I know I can tackle a lobster with confidence – and I’m sure the recipes will flow now. Well, I might have to save up to buy a lobster – but I think now that I have some idea of what I am doing, it’ll be a worthwhile investment.

Grilled Lobster with Garlic and Herb Butter

  • 2 whole live lobsters – about 600 to 800gm each
  • 150gm of unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 a bunch of parsley
  • 2 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 tsp of capers, chopped
  • A squeeze of lemon juice

Method

Mix chopped ingredients into the softened butter and then put to one side.

Put the live lobsters in the freezer for 20 mins (as stated above).

Plunge the lobster into boiling water for 7 minutes. Once the time is up, place into ice water.

Once cooled, cut the lobster lengthways through the middle and then clean out the waste from the head as well as the waste tract (as stated above).

The flesh should look rare – so quite white on the outside parts near the shell, but quite translucent towards the middle. This is what you want to ensure the lobster isn’t overcooked under the grill.

Season well with salt and pepper and then smother the flesh liberally with the butter mixture. This will protect the flesh from the heat of the grill and allow the butter, garlic and herbs to seep into the flesh. This can be done in advance, with the rest of the process to be completed when ready to serve.

Place under a grill and cook until lightly browned in colour. This should take only 3 or 4 minutes. Transfer to a 180-degree oven for 4 to 5 minutes, until cooked through and tender.

Serve immediately.

I have to admit, I did eat the whole lobster – so with two lobsters for this recipe, it serves two. But for an entree serve – half per person would be plenty. Tomorrow I’ll share with you a brilliant crispy apple salad – and of course, the delicious chilli crab.

I just can’t wait to get my hands on another lobster and make this again. Soooo yum!!

If you’re feeling inspired to do a masterclass, why not check out the Oakdene Vineyard website and find out about Marty’s masterclasses. You won’t be disapointed 🙂

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Masterclass lesson #1: Decadent oysters


On Tuesday night I was treated to a cooking Master Class with one of Victoria’s best executive chefs – Marty Chichester from the Bellarine Peninsula’s Oakdene Vinyards restaurant – a multi-award winning venue that last year won the National Award for the Best Restaurant in a Winery.

I have to admit that I was so nervous going into the Masterclass. The menu included oysters, lobster, mud crab and pannacotta – all things I had little or no experience with cooking. The last time I did crab – it really wasn’t great and I wasn’t sure how to clean it. I’ve never attempted lobster before, simply because it’s just so expensive and with my inexperience – I didn’t want to risk ruining it.

As for the oysters – well I’m sad to say, I don’t really like them. I WANT to like them – but I just don’t.

However, my apparent dislike for them didn’t stop me from wanting to try serving them in different ways.

Marty gave us a demonstration of all the dishes before we went ahead – and after getting started on the pannacotta and popping it in the fridge – we started on our oysters. Marty showed us three ways to serve them – each very different.

Sadly, I’m still not a huge fan of oysters – but these three recipes are absolutely extraordinary nonetheless and any lover of oysters is going to want to give these ideas a go.

Firstly we had the watermelon and chilli granita. Secondly, Marty showed us how to make a Welsh Rarebit sauce, which is much like a mustardy mornay – and finally (and my favourite) marinated cucumber spaghetti with Avruga caviar. All these toppings wouldn’t only be useful for oysters. I could see the Welsh Rarebit served over prawns and the cooling, tangy cucumber spaghetti would have endless applications – as a side salad with something spicy would be perfect – or on top of a nicely fried piece of fish, like salmon or tuna.

One of the key things I learned about preparing oysters is that you should never rinse them, because it washes away all the great flavours of the sea. Marty said that if you want to get rid of some of the liquid – then just to dab them gently with some paper towel. He also said it was critical to buy them from a reputable fish monger and use them the same day you buy them. Fresh is best, of course.

Oysters with marinated cucumber spaghetti, Welsh rarebit and watermelon and chilli granita

Oysters with marinated cucumber spaghetti and Avruga caviar

  • 1 continental cucumber
  • 4 tbs of chardonnay wine vinegar
  • A pinch of salt
  • A Pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp of fresh dill
  • Avruga caviar to serve

Method:

Peel the cucumber and cut julienne, discarding the seeds.

Mix the rest of the ingredients (except the caviar) with the cucumber in a bowl. Cover and leave in the fridge for 1 hour to marinate.

To serve, place a teaspoon of the cucumber mix on top of each oyster and top with half a teaspoon of the caviar.

As for the next filling – Marty said this would also be great on some toasted sourdough bread. Once you taste it, you’ll realise it has many applications. I personally think it would be delicious on steak 🙂

Oysters with Welsh Rarebit Sauce

  • 60gm of unsalted butter
  • 75gm of plain flour
  • 375ml of apple cider
  • 375gm of mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbs of dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 egg yolks
  • Sea salt and ground white pepper to taste

Method:

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and cook out for 1 minute.

Slowly add the cider and cook for two minutes, making a veloute (the term velouté is from the French adjectival form of velour, meaning velvety).

Remove from the heat and add the mustard, Worcestershire and egg yolks, whisking until smooth.’Add the grated cheese and whisk until smooth.

Season with salt and pepper and cool for 3 hours.

Put a teaspoon of the sauce onto each oyster – then grill under a hot grill until it is browned.

My attempt at this dish, as you can see centered in the image above, wasn’t as grilled as Marty suggests. In my defence – I was terrified of burning it and looking like a goose!

The next option is a granita. Marty said he made this because he always had lots of leftover watermelon offcuts from making another dish. Hating to throw things away, he came up with this lovely dish. I enjoyed this one the most because the granita is frozen, making the oyster beautiful and cold – as it should be.

Watermelon and Chilli Granita

  • 1 litre of watermelon flesh (no peel)
  • 1 tbs of soyabean chilli paste (available at Asian grocery stores)
  • 1 tsp of tabasco sauce

Method:

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Taste and correct seasoning, if required. Transfer into a tray (the liquid should be no more than 1 inch deep – using a larger tray, if required) and freeze for at least four hours or overnight.

Using a fork, scrape the froze granita so it forms a light, fine ice and transfer to a container after each scraping.

Serve a teaspoon of granita on top of each oyster.

I think this dish would be amazing on a hot summers day – so cooling and refreshing – with a hit of warmth from the chilli paste and tabasco to tickle the tastebuds.

Watching chefs cook on TV is great fun for me – but this was one of the best experiences ever. If you live in the Geelong region, jump onto the Oakdene website and find out about Marty’s masterclasses. I promise that no matter your cooking ability – you will love it.

Tomorrow I’ll share with you the great tips I learnt about cooking lobster/crayfish. I couldn’t believe how easy, yet impressive it is!

Hopefully this inspires you to go and have a cooking class – or even just get into your kitchen and have a go at something new.

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Corn with chilli and lime butter


Imagine this – Deliciously sweet corn, charred lightly from the barbeque with a combination of sweet, buttery and zingy flavours filling your mouth as you take your first bite. That’s what you can look forward to when you try this recipe.

This was another dish I decided to do for the dinner party on Saturday night (read more about it, and the menu here).

I wanted to cook a lot of different bits and pieces (as you can see by the plate above) – and other than mixing butter with chilli and lime and par-cooking the corn before chucking it on the barbecue – this was fast, easy, sexy and most importantly – very tasty. 

 

Corn with Chilli and Lime Butter

  • 4 corn cobs, husks and silks removed (I cut them in half – but you don’t have to)
  • 100g butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • The zest of a whole lime and 1 tsp of juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  •  Method

    Place corn in a microwave safe container with a few tablespoons of water. Cover with cling film and cook for 7 minutes, or until just tender.

    Meanwhile, combine the butter with the rest of the ingredients. Taste for seasoning and then lay the butter mixture onto some cling film. Roll into a sausage shape and place in the fridge to set.

    You can set the corn aside until you are ready to start cooking.

    Once you are ready, pop the corn on the grill part of the barbecue and turn them until they start to get some nice colour. Remember, the corn is already cooked – so you are just wanting it to get brown (and a little black – but not too much) and pick up the flavours from the barbecue. This will only take a few minutes.

    Remove the corn to a serving platter. Unwrap the butter and cut off knobs and pop one on each corn cob. The heat from the corn will melt the butter. Serve immediately.

     

    Personally, I love corn so much I’d seriously consider this as a lunch dish. You could even freeze the leftover butter, meaning next time you want to make it, all you need to do it cook and grill the corn. It doesn’t get much easier than that. The only bad thing about this dish is you need a heavy-duty tooth pic to get the corn out of your teeth – but it’s worth it!

    Be Inspired~

    Lisa

     

     

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