at the table

Recipes, that's it.

chocolate salami — 24/07/2017

chocolate salami

There’s no meat in this. It’s basically chocolate, butter, broken up biscuits and whatever else you want to throw in such as, nuts, raisins, coconut etc. It’s great for summer because there’s no baking required and it’s so easy I get my 12 year old to make it.

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  • 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plain biscuits (cookies) broken into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 tablespoons of espresso coffee or coffee-type liquor such as Kahlua
  • ¼ cup white chocolate, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ cup confectioners sugar

Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips and butter in a heat-proof bowl set over barely simmering water. When it is completely smooth and melted, mix in biscuit pieces, vanilla essence and coffee or liquor. This is also the time to add any nuts or whatever else you might like to add. My son and I prefer to make it plain except for the addition of white chocolate but don’t make the mistake we made. Wait until the mixture has cooled down before adding the white chocolate, otherwise it will melt and then no one will know it’s there and then what’s the point?

Sprinkle the unsweetened cocoa on a sheet of wax paper. Scrape the mixture onto the wax paper and create a log by rolling the mixture (within the wax paper so you don’t get your hands dirty at all) back and forth. Twist the ends to seal. Place in the refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour. When you’re ready to serve, roll the log in confectioners sugar. If it’s too firm to cut, leave it at room temperature for about 20 minutes, then slice.

Makes about 8 servings.

 

grilled prawns on arugula with lemon vinaigrette — 20/07/2017

grilled prawns on arugula with lemon vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
  • pinch of cayenne
  • salt and cracked black pepper
  • 24 large prawns, peeled and deveined, with tails on
  • handful of green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 unhusked corn
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, preferably white balsamic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 cups arugula leaves
  • 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, torn

To marinate the prawns, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, basil, and cayenne in a glass or other non-reactive bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently toss the prawns through the marinade, cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.

Bring a medium saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil just over high heat. Add the green beans and cook until just crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.

Build a charcoal fire in an outdoor grill or pre-heat a gas grill. Grill the corn, covered, turning often, until the husks are charred, about 20 minutes. Husk the corn and remove the silks. Cut the corn off the cobs and set aside.

If using a charcoal grill, the coals should have burned down to medium-hot. If using a gas grill, adjust the heat to medium. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill the prawns, turning once, until firm and pink, 4 to 5 minutes.

Whisk together the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the arugula, green beans, tomatoes, corn and basil in a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Divide the salad evenly among 4 large plates with some grilled prawns on top. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Recipe from Art Smith, Back to the Table

 

Algerian eggplant — 07/07/2017

Algerian eggplant

Algerian eggplant

  • 2 medium eggplants (about 1 pound each)
  • salt
  • olive oil for frying
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 pinches of cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, or more to taste

Remove three vertical strips of skin from each eggplant, leaving it striped, then cut eggplants into ½-inch slices. Salt the slices and leave to drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Rinse well, squeeze gently, and pat dry with paper towels.

Heat about ¼ inch of oil in a skillet and fry the slices, a few at a time, over high heat until golden brown on both sides. Drain. Using the back of a fork, roughly mash the eggplant with the garlic and spices. Fry this mixture in the oil in skillet until all liquid evaporates, stirring often.  Don’t worry about the oiliness because when it’s done you drain the eggplant mixture in a colander. Stir lemon juice through and check for salt. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4

Recipe adapted from Paula Wolfert, Mediterranean Cooking

 

pavlova — 05/07/2017

pavlova

I am originally from Australia and I thought pavlova was too until I learnt that New Zealanders claim it as their invention. I don’t really care where the recipe comes from, I just know it’s one of my absolute favourite summer desserts.

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  • 8 large egg whites*
  •  salt
  • 1¾ cups superfine sugar
  • 1lb seasonal berries (such as strawberries, raspberries, etc)
  • 500ml whipping cream

Preheat oven 225F. Line two oven trays with parchment paper. Whisk egg whites and a pinch of salt in a mixer until they form stiff peaks. With the mixer still running, gradually add sugar and then turn to the highest setting. Continue to mix until mixture is stiff and glossy, about 8 minutes. Divide the mixture between the two trays and spread each one out into a circle, about 9-inches in diameter. Use the back of a spoon to spread and shape into whatever form you like. Keep in mind, pavlova will hold that shape even after it is baked. Bake for 1¼  hours, or until firm, then turn oven off and leave the pavlovas in until oven has cooled.

While the pavlovas are baking you can whip the cream and prepare the fruit. When ready to assemble, place one pavlova on a serving dish and cover with berries. Then sandwich the berries with the other pavlova and top with whipped cream and more berries.

Serves 12

*Be careful not to get any yolk in the egg whites. If you do, the whites won’t stiffen.

 

 

 

 

 

Tahitian vanilla ice cream (no eggs) — 30/06/2017

Tahitian vanilla ice cream (no eggs)

vanilla icecream

I used to think all vanilla was the same until I tried Tahitian vanilla. It makes particularly good ice cream flavouring. This recipe is for designed for an ice cream maker with the freezer bowl completely frozen before use.

  • 1 cup whole milk, well chilled
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons pure Tahitian vanilla extract (or standard vanilla if you can’t get Tahitian)

In a medium bowl, whisk the milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Turn ice cream machine on, pour mixture into freezer bowl through ingredient spout and let mix until thickened, about 25 – 30 minutes.

Makes about 10 servings

pita chips — 05/06/2017

pita chips

I never throw out pita (flat) bread just because it’s stale. Instead, I tear it up into a big bowl, drizzle olive oil, sprinkle paprika, onion powder, and salt. Toss it to combine then place on baking tray and bake in low oven until completely crunchy. Stores nicely in an airtight container.

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chimichurri — 27/05/2017

chimichurri

This Argentinian condiment is a recent discovery for me. I love how quick and simple it is to make and that you can serve it with meat, fish or vegetable.

  • 1 fat clove of garlic
  • 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded (or 2 teaspoons dried red chili flakes)
  • 2 bunches of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves (optional)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

All you do is process all the ingredients together until smooth. Alternatively, finely chop the garlic, herbs and chilli and then top with the olive oil.  Let stand for at least 20 minutes – at room temperature – before serving.

 

 

Niçoise salad with seared tuna — 25/05/2017

Niçoise salad with seared tuna

When I firsIMG_1870t made this salad, I misunderstood the recipe and mixed, finely chopped, anchovies into the dressing. Since I’m not fond of having a whole ‘furry’, salty anchovy in my mouth, this worked better for my taste. If you prefer the classic way of preparing this salad, then slice them into thin strips, and drape them over the eggs at the end.

  • 2 1-inch thick tuna steaks
  • ½ a head of lettuce, torn
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, sliced
  • 100g green beans, tailed and steamed or boiled until just tender
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • half red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 spring onions or 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 55g small, black olives, preferably Niçoise
  • 2 large, hard-boiled eggs, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • a handful of basil leaves, torn

DRESSING

  • 4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • salt

To sear the tuna, get a cast-iron pan very hot. Brush the fish with olive oil, a dash or two of soy sauce and a good sprinkle of black pepper. Grill each side for only 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. The centre should be pink and raw or the tuna will be tough and dry. Allow to rest while you prepare the salad.

Place lettuce, cucumber, steamed green beans, tomatoes, bell pepper, onions and olives in a large bowl. Combine dressing ingredients and whisk together. Add most of the dressing (reserve some to drizzle over eggs) to the salad and toss.

Slice the tuna and add to the salad, then top with eggs, herbs and pour the remaining dressing over the eggs.

Serves 2 (as a main dish)

rice salad with ginger lime dressing — 09/05/2017

rice salad with ginger lime dressing

Whenever I make this salad, I get asked for the recipe so here it is. It’s easy, healthy, delicious and a great way of using up leftovers and then throwing in whatever else you have in the fridge. I try to mix up the colours and textures of the ingredients and then top it with something crunchy like fried shallots or toasted almonds. You can serve it as a main meal if there’s enough stuff in it.  It is important to add the dressing while the rice still warm and serve the salad at room temperature. If you put it in the fridge first, the rice will become dry and the dressing will lose much of its flavour. You should also know that the measurements here are approximate because I never measure anything for this salad, I simply check it towards the end and adjust if necessary. It is important however, that you add a lot of fresh ginger and lime juice (lemon juice is okay but it’s not as good) and then top the whole thing with loads of fresh coriander leaves.

DRESSING

  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 fat garlic clove, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • salt and pepper

SALAD

  • 1 cup white or brown basmati rice
  • 1 cup fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • ¼ – ½ cup of any combination of various ingredients such as: any beans; any grilled and/or raw vegetable; corn; green onion; smoked salmon; tuna; shredded chicken; cooked egg; nuts; etc.

Boil or steam the rice and then place in a large salad bowl when done. Place dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Prepare the salad ingredients and add to the rice. Add dressing and gently mix to combine. Top with fried shallots and fresh coriander.

serves 2 – 4

 

 

 

 

potato gnocchi — 27/03/2017

potato gnocchi

My mother used to make the best gnocchi. Yes, I’m biased but what I loved about her gnocchi, is that she would make them a little firmer than usual by adding a little more flour. Her advice was to use older potatoes because they are not as watery as the newer ones. You want to avoid water when making gnocchi. In fact, some cooks suggest baking the potatoes instead of boiling, but I prefer to follow my mother’s tradition.

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  • 2¼ pounds Yukon gold potatoes (or other ‘floury’ type potato)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • salt
  • choice of sauce, to serve (simple tomato sauce works well, or butter and parmesan)

Boil or steam the potatoes in their skins until tender, about 25 minutes. Do not over cook. Drain and peel, preferably while still hot if you can handle it. Then mash with a potato ricer into a large bowl.

Stir in the flour, egg and a pinch of salt and knead only until it comes together. Place the dough onto a floured work surface and continue to knead until the mixture forms a smooth, firm dough. Do not overwork the dough. Also, you may need to add more flour as you knead but be careful because if there is too much flour, the gnocchi will be too hard.

Break off a chunk of dough and use the palm of your hands to roll it into a long sausage shape. Cut the roll into roughly 1 inch cylinders, separating them. With two fingers, roll each cylinder gently towards you on the board until they curl into a shell-like shape. You don’t have to do this, you could just boil them in their cylinder shape but they catch more sauce when they’re curled. Continue rolling, cutting and shaping until you have used up all the dough. You will need to keep sprinkling flour at regular intervals.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, in small batches, and remove with a slotted spoon when they rise to the surface. Put on a warm serving dish, spoon the sauce over the gnocchi and sprinkle some Parmesan. Serve at once.

Serves 4