Monday, June 29, 2009

Slow-Roasted Greek Lamb

Slow-Roasted Greek Lamb (w Roasted root vegetables)

1.2kg leg of lamb cut into sizeable chunks
3 cloves garlic quartered
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tbsp thyme
homemade stock from stubs vegetables and lamb bones
2 tbsp lemon juice
Stock: lamb lower leg bone, bay leaves, vegeta stock cube, extra vegetables.
Root Vegetables:1 potato, sliced in chip wedges
1 parsnip halved lengthways
1 small sweet potato scrubbed but skin left on, sliced in chip wedges
Olive oil & Salt and pepper
Lamb pan juices skimmed of lard
1 tbsp plain flour
1 cup (250ml) water

Mint sauce:
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup malt vinegar or white vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons raw sugar

1. Put the bone part of the leg (fibular) into a saucepan with water to cover, a vegeta vegetable stock cube, one carrot chopped, some bay leaves, thyme sprigs and pepper. Add extras like half onions and celery. Simmer for an hour, skimming off fat from surface. While this is preparing, open the wine and accompany this with fresh bread dipped in caramelised balsamic vinegar and olive oil for entree.
Slow Roasted Greek Lamb

1. Preheat oven to 220c/425f. 1
2. Line an oven baking dish or pan with two layers of foil allowing extra over the sides so you can seal it like a package. Place the lamb chunks within.
3. Make slits in the chunks of lamb with a small knife and push in slivers of garlic. Massage olive oil over the flesh to coat so the spices stick, and then sprinkle with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme.
4. Add 2 tbsp lemon juice and ¼ cup homemade stock. Close the foil to seal in all juices and then wrap again in foil to ensure that it is well sealed.
5. Roast lamb in 220C oven 30 minutes. Reduce temperature to moderate (110C-140C); roast lamb, covered tightly, brushing occasionally with pan juices, further 3 hours or until lamb is extremely tender.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables.

Roast Root vegetables

1. Boil potato and sweet potato in water for 5mins.
2. Drain and toss with other root vegetables in a bowl with olive oil, brown sugar, salt and pepper then add to a baking pan.
3. When lamb has about 1 hour left to roast, place in oven; roast, uncovered, until browned and caramelised.

1. Transfer lamb to serving dish; cover to keep warm.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved lamb juices in a saucepan and stir in flour.
3. Cook, stirring, until mixture is well browned. Gradually stir in remaining lamb juices and the water; stir until gravy boils and thickens.

Mint Sauce
1. Rinse young, healthy mint leaves, strip from the stems, and chop into fine pieces. I usually process most of the leaves with a handheld mixer, with a little of the vinegar, leaving some aside to chop by hand. The processed leaves will be very fine, and infuse a fine flavor, while those done by hand are a little coarser and will be more decoratively visible in the sauce.
2. Bring vinegar and water to a simmer in a small saucepan, add sugar and chopped leaves. Simmer for about 20 minutes to infuse. Add more sugar or add a little water to taste, depending on how strong or how sweet you want the sauce.

Give each diner a chunk of lamb, served with a colourful array of roasted roots and steamed broccoli on the side. Allow self serving of mint and gravy on table.

A good wine served with this dish is Brokenwood Shiraz.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rachel's Homemade Hummous

2 cans garbanzo beans (chick peas)
3 cloves Australian garlic (less pesticides, looks purple and white)
2 tbsp Tahini
pinch of salt
2 medium lemons
sweet or smoky paprika depending on your mood
Good quality Australian locally made Olive Oil (support your local producers)

1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in saucepan on medium heat and saute 1/2 the garlic, crushed
2. After a minute add the drained beans and retain one cans juices.
3. Cook beans for 5mins and be rough, they will eventually be mashed.
4. Add the can juices and tahini. Stir and squash beans. Cook for 10mins.
5. Add pinch of salt and juice of 1 lemon
6. Remove from heat. Use a handheld stick mixer or food processor to make most of the beans into a paste. Leave some half or whole for texture.
7. Add remaining crushed garlic, lemon and a pinch of paprika and mix well.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and paprika spinkle, use lebanese bread toasted and fresh locally grown foods from the garden like peppers, carrots, celery, blanched green beans or blanched broccoli.

NB: I often add 1 chopped dried Kashmiri Chilli for a bit of bite!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sunday Roast: Kangaroo

Kangaroo: The Sustainable Australian Meat

Farming some native species may be one of the best ways to protect our environment for future generations. Tim Flannery, biological scientist at Macquarie University and author of The Future Eaters, and The Weather Makers, argues there are good environmental, as well as nutritional, reasons for eating kangaroo.

Environmental points
It costs the Australian environment nothing to produce kangaroo meat. In comparison, seven kilograms of soil are used to produce one kilogram of wheat. Animals are killed in the production of even a vegetarian's food supply. Whole ecosystems are lost when forests are cleared to plant crops and toxic pesticides for maintaining crops also cause animal deaths. The kangaroo meat industry is sustainable and does not threaten kangaroo populations. Since the arrival of Europeans, kangaroos have thrived because of increased grasslands, better water supply through dams and bores and reduced dingo numbers, the kangaroo's main predator. Kangaroo numbers are so great that some farmers consider the animals a pest. Ironically, the industry that was established to control kangaroo numbers has only succeeded in taking a sustainable yield, despite killing up to 20% of the total population in certain years. The kangaroo meat industry only harvests non endangered species. Farming wild animals is less cruel than raising domesticated animals for meat. Kangaroos do not suffer the stress of live trucking and abattoirs. Instead they live freely in the wild until they are killed instantly by professional shooters.

Kangaroos do not produce Methane gas (a dangerous greenhouse gas that is much more potent than carbon dioxide) whereas cattle do produce high amounts that significantly contribute to the overall greenhouse gas emissons of the planet. Dr George Wilson of Australian Wildlife Services states: "Kangaroos have different flora in their guts. Basically they operate on a different system. They have a pseudo rumen and it operates with different flora. Cattle have a full rumen and the flora that they have, the micro-organisms, when they start digesting the cellulose and lignin it produces methane. Steps that can be taken to reduce methane are a much more effective way of addressing greenhouse gas problems than focusing on carbon dioxide."
You'll find the full transcript at

Nutritional points
Kangaroo meat is low fat (under 2%), most of which is polyunsaturated and only has 98 calories per 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving. Kangaroo meat is also free from chemicals, hormones and pesticides.

The way kangaroo meat is aged can also have a huge impact on taste.
Young meat with 1 to 3 weeks from killing can have a subtle flavour making it indistinguishable from quality beef while a very intense gamey flavor will develop with well aged meat – up to 3 months when stored under oil. If you prefer the light gamey flavor, then I suggest you purchase frozen kangaroo as this stops the ageing process. I picked up a frozen rump from Tracey's Quality Meats Cronulla by Southern Game Meat.

Kangaroo Roast (with Creamy Polenta & Red Earth Mash)
1 kangaroo rump not over 500 grams
good quality olive oil
1 pinch fennel seeds
1 pinch salt
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp semi-dried thyme from the garden
Fresh cracked black pepper (Australian bush pepper is the best)
150g Yellow Polenta
400ml Water
400ml Milk (or milk substitute such as Soy or Rice milk)
Extra dash of milk for mash
1 Large Sweet Potato
1 White potato
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
2 tsp margarine (ProActive is good to lower cholesterol and is plant based)
2 tbsp pecorino pepato grated
2 tsp fresh rosemary chopped
Fresh Rocket
Caramelised Balsamic Vinegar
Marinated grilled Artichokes in vinegar

Kangaroo Rump
1. Marinate rump in olive oil, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, half the semi-dried thyme, salt and black pepper for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the rest of the meal.

2. Heat up a heavy bottomed stainless steel pan. If the pan is not hot enough the meat will become tough giving it a strong, unpleasant flavour.

3. Place the meat into the hot frying pan without any additional oil and sear for about 3 minutes on both sides. Remove the meat from the pan and place in a preheated oven (220°C ), for approximately 15 minutes. Check to see if this is done well enough to your taste - it will be medium-rare to rare. NB: Kangaroo is best cooked no more than medium, so if you want to cook it some more, watch it closely so that it does not overcook and become tough.

4. Remove kangaroo from the oven and allow it to stand covered in foil in a warm place for the same amount of time that it was cooked. NB: Kangaroo meat expands quickly when subjected to lots of heat. It needs time to settle and return to shape. The heat on the outside of the meat is enough to cook the inside of the meat to perfection.
NB: Kangaroo meat can also be cooked on a very hot barbecue.

5. After resting the meat, slice the kangaroo fillet across the grain, which is the final step in maintaining the tenderness.

Creamy Polenta

1. Bring 400ml Milk and 400ml Water to the boil

2. Add Polenta in a thin stream whisking all the while

3. Simmer for 50min stirring often

4. Before serving add 1tsp margarine, salt, pepper, grated pecorino pepato, rosemary and remaining thyme.

Red Earth Mash

1. Boil water in a saucepan and cook the potato and sweet potato with vegetable stock powder until soft

2. Drain water and mash potato with 1 tsp margarine, salt and pepper and a dash of milk. Leave a little chunky to contrast with the creamy polenta.

Place Kangaroo fillets on top of the polenta and mash with some juices.

Serve with fresh rocket and artichokes drizzled with caramelised balsamic vinegar.

Add extra salad ingredients as desired; I used cucumber and a bit of red pepper from the fridge to add some more colour. When I have my own farm I will choose vegies that are in season from tha garden, so it will be whatever is available! In winter courgettes and beans are good to grow and these would also be lovely seared and baked with the Kangaroo.

(Note: Other Aussie seasonings are rated to work well with kangaroo - such as native wattleseeds and quandong paste. Some others reccomended by Benjamin Christie are: Australian Wildfire Spice, Red Desert Dust, Wylde thyme, Yakajirri or Alpine Pepper are all good for a range of flavors from Vic Cherikoff.). However, many of these are expensive and you can make your meal more sustainable, and grow your own.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


A nice weekend at Cronulla by the ocean led me to cook a seafood inspired Paella.
Daniel and I walked down to the local seafood shop 'Michael's' and purchased fresh prawns and mussels. Exciting!

I had already purchased some Saffron threads last week from the Markets in chinatown and I had brought with me the other ingredients so later in the day the cooking began.

I have been doing some research on Spanish Valencian cusine and I found one rule about Paella that I though I must follow; you MUST make your own stock. So, I started that as soon as I got home so I could warm up the house with lovely aromas and start creating the most delicious flavoursome stock for my Paella. The rest of the night went beautifully.......

Mixed Seafood Paella 'Paella Mixta'
Rachel's Recipie

For Stock: Seafood, chicken drumsticks, onions, garlic, tomato, celery, carrot, parsley, bay leaves. NB: Extras I added in: 1 star anise, 1 chilli, salt and pepper.
1 cup Calasparra Paella Rice
4 cloves garlic
1/2 brown onion
1 bunch parsely
1 chicken breast, cut in strips
6 prawns uncooked, shelled, de-headed
6 mussels
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 pinch saffron threads
1 tsp smokey paprika
Green beans
1/2 Red Pepper chopped in small strips
1/2 Green Pepper chopped in small strips
4 Sweet corn halved
1 Carrot sliced in thin strips
2 medium very ripe truss tomatoes
4 very small ripe truss tomatoes

The Stock

1. Fill a saucepan with 2L of water
2. Add ingredients and simmer for a few hours. It may reduce down to less than the required amount of stock for the Paella so you will need to top it up occasionally if you dont use a lid.

Garnish Preparation:
Place the small truss tomatoes and Chilli Peppers in garlic and olive oil and roast in a medium oven while cooking the Paella.
Paella Mixta
1.Heat olive oil in a paellera.
2. Sear chicken strips with chopped onion and some smokey paprika
3. Add prawns and sear with chicken
4. Add garlic and sauté until brown.
5. Add chopped tomatoes and sauté.
6. Add chopped bell peppers, sweet corn, a few green beans and finely sliced carrots. Sauté until vegetables are tender.

7. Add rice. Braise rice until covered with sofrito*.
8. Add broth in ladlefuls until almost covering mixture. Add cumin seeds.
9. Add salt to taste.
10. Add saffron
11. Simmer until rice is almost cooked.
12. Place mussels and green beans over top of Paella.
13. Continue simmering until rice is finished cooking.
14. Garnish with roasted truss tomatoes, red chilli peppers and parsley .

* Sofrito is the Spanish word for a well cooked and fragrant sauce that is usually sauteed onions, garlic and tomatoes.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Indian Night In

Since we have been living in Westmead, I have been increasingly interested and experimental with Indian Cooking. I first became really interested in Indian food after going to my wonderful friend Jyoti's home in highschool. Jyoti's Parents Ravi and Gita run a catering business alongside other businesses and are amazing people, always welcoming me into their home to try their exciting and spicy food. Jyoti's Grandma 'Ba also brings a lot to their home, cooking spicy samosas and indian sweets, and always wants to feed me. She doesnt speak much english but speaks to me in food and gestures and smiles, I love her! Jot's family always seem so relaxed in their family home, around their lazy susan on the dinner table, passing vegetarian curries and homemade yoghurt towards me with contented smiles on their faces.

Jyoti's mum, Gita, makes a wonderful indian soup that goes with dinner, and I am hoping to visit and learn how to make it sometime soon.

In the meantime, I have been experimenting creating my own recipies that I change to enhance my favourite flavours and lowly introduce other subtle ones. One thing always present at an Indian meal is the traditional Indian Roti bread - probably the most difficult thing to make. I have tried this and will enjoy perfecting the technique!

The most common thing I make is spicy curries with fresh sides on Basmati rice. I was making this so often that it was more of a 'normal' meal, rather than a novelty. Though now that I am really enjoying sharing my cooking on here I decided to post an Indian meal, and this weekend I cooked two wonderful curries.

Tamarind Lamb Madras and Gudrati Dhal
(with steamed vegetables, fresh tomato salsa, raita, & puppodums)

200g diced lean lamb
1 400g can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tamarind paste
1 carrot
1 brown onion
4 cloves garlic
400ml vegetable stock
5 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 small butternut pumpkin
1/2 cauliflower
1/2 cup red dhal lentils (soaked overnight)
1/2 cup yellow hyderabai dhal lentils (soaked overnight)
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp homemade madras curry paste (from Jyoti's parents*)
handful fresh green beans
2 ripe cold truss tomatoes
1 bunch of coriander
1 cucumber
250ml fresh natural yoghurt
Fresh butter lettuce
Basmati Rice (______) (I have tried most brands and this is the most aromatic).

* Jyotis Dad, Ravi, reccomends Pataks; his brother owns the company and he reccomends it as good quality.

Tamarind Lamb MadrasMethod:
1. Saute 1/2 chopped brown onion and 2 garlic cloves in saucepan with some olive oil
2. Sear lamb in same pan with black mustard seeds, fennel seeds, curry paste and coriander powder.
3. Add carrot, chopped tomatoes, 3 tbsp tomato paste, 200ml vegetable stock, and simmer.
4. Add Tamarind Paste and stir to melt and dissolve.
5. Simmer for 1 hour on medium-low heat for best results - the lamb will be very soft.

Gudrati Dhal
1. Wash lentils and cover with water twice the depth of the lentils, 200ml vegetable stock, and bring to boil.
2. In a separate pan, saute 1/2 chopped brown onion and 2 cloves garlic with 1 tsp fenugreek seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds and 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds.
3. Add pan mixture to lentils with diced pumpkin, 2 tbsp tomato paste, cumin and turmeric powder. Simmer continuously until ready to serve all dishes. It should be done by then - the lentils soft and the pumpkin disintegrating into the sauce to create a warm fluffy dhal.

Tomato Salsa
1. Chop fresh cold tomatoes and coriander and 1/2 the cucumber
2. Mix and put in small bowl for serving.
1. Chop other 1/2 of cucumber
2. Add to a small bowl of fresh natural yoghurt for serving

1. Heat 1cm olive oil in frypan
2. Fry each puppodum till browned and dry on paper towel
3. Serve on dark platter for contrast

Serve all dishes on the table with steaming hot basmati rice and also some fresh green lettuce.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sisters make scrumptious Spanish

My lovely golden haired sister is like me in so many ways but is also so very different. We decided to cook two very different dishes, that are both spanish and therefore similar, but different in texture, taste and colour. The best thing about them is that they compliment each other beautifully.

Spanish Stuffed Peppers with Aubergine Rolls
Peppers inspired by a Spanish Tapas restuarant in Glebe:, and Aubergine Rolls inspired by the following recipe: By Julie Melrose and Rachel Melrose.
Stuffed Peppers:
Two red peppers with four knobs on bottom so they stand up
1 can of cannelini beans
1 cup couscous
1 brown onion chopped finely
1 very ripe small truss tomato chopped finely
2 sticks celery sliced finely
1 small carrot chopped finely
Cumin seeds
Coriander seeds
5 Saffron threads (or 1/2 tsp powder)
Salt and cracked black pepper

Tomato Salsa:
4 very ripe truss tomatoes
2 cloves Australian garlic
2 handfuls fresh basil
1 roasted dried red jalapeno pepper
Salt and cracked black pepper
Olive Oil

Aubergine Rolls:
1 large Aubergine sliced lengthways
100g feta cheese
100g Ricotta cheese
Toasted pine nuts
1 handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Cracked black pepper
Olive Oil

1 carrot
1 zucchini
Fresh lettuce

Stuffed Peppers

1. Prepare couscous by boiling water in pan and adding couscous, stir for 3min, then cover and set aside to absorb.

2. Prepare brown rice by washing rice and then bringing to boil under water twice the depth of the rice. After 10mins of boiling, add saffron, cover and set aside to complete the absorption method.

3. Heat olive oil and then saute onion.

4. Add celery, carrot, cumin and coriander seeds. Cook for 10 mins on medium heat till soft (approx 10-15min)

5. Add chopped tomato and cannelini beans. Season with salt and cracked black pepper.

6. Use a fork to separate and 'fluff up' the couscous. Combine couscous with the mixture. Also combine brown rice with the mixture.

7. Cut tops off peppers and set aside. Remove seeds and wash. Blanch and then spoon in the white bean, rice and couscous mixture.

8. Put on tray in 180ºC oven with thickly sliced sides of zucchini and carrot. Roast until peppers start to char.

Tomato Salsa
1. Heat olive oil in saucepan and fry chopped truss tomatoes until they turn a yellow-caramel colour on the frying side. Add garlic and chopped jalapeno and cook for 3min. Roughly chop tomato with wooden spoon while cooking, and add some hot water to allow a sauce. Simmer until Peppers and Aubergines are done. Add fresh chopped basil at last minute.

Aubergine Rolls

1. Scatter salt on eggplant slices and set aside to extract bitter juices.
2. Toast pine nuts in a sandwish toaster or oven grill with chopped garlic.

3. Place eggplant slices in oven under grill to brown with some olive oil

4. In a large bowl mix ricotta, feta, toasted pine nuts, garlic, parsley and cracked black pepper

6. Spoon into Aubergine slices and roll up. Pin together with a toothpick. Put back in oven for 10mins.

To Serve:
Place Salsa on plate, then Stuffed Pepper on top. Surround with Aubergine Rolls and roasted vegetable sides. Garnish with fresh basil and lettuce.

All parts of this overall dish will come together best with a sister or friend at your side. It is a lovely assemblage of two different recipes being prepared simultaneously to create a lovely textured spanish meal.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pear, Persimmon and a plethora of other fruits Bread

Happy Sunday

Today I woke up and had a nice walk through the park to the little store to buy some wholemeal flour. I was set out to bake a wholesome loaf of fruit bread this morning so I can also take some to work next week to share.

I have been going to the markets at Chinatown in Sydney City every Thursday now, and a friend from work pointed out persimmons to me. I have had them once before and I remembered they have a slightly sweet cinnamon taste when just ripe. However, at the markets they are commonly named 'Fugi/Persimmons' because they are hard to tell apart. They have similar properties so I bought three plump colourful 'Hachiya' ones (elongated and sweeter than round ones) to inspire me to bake something.

I also bought a dozen small green and red pears, walnuts, cranberries and bananas.

By Today, I have one banana left that is very overripe, and the persimmons are very ripe also. I decided to bake some bread (that is more like cake because it has no yeast) with these lovely fruits full of vitamins and complimentary flavours.

Todays Cake:
"Pear, persimmon & plethora of other fruits bread"

3 tablespoons of hot water
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or margarine
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
½ cup chopped persimmon (approx. 1 ½ overly ripe persimmons or 'fugis')
½ cup banana purée
½ cup chopped ripe pear
Handful of dried figs and dried cranberries 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups wholemeal plain flour
1 cup walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 160’C degrees.
2. Soak chopped figs and cranberries in 2 tablespoons of hot water.
3. Grease an approx 23x12cm loaf pan or square cake pan. Line the bottom with a piece of baking paper.
4. In a large bowl, beat vegetable oil (or margarine) and honey together.
5. Add egg and mix well.
6. Stir in chopped fruits, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla essence.

7. Stir in flour and salt.
8. Add bicarbonate of soda to 1 tablespoon of hot water, stir to mix, and then add to the mixture. 9. Stir in chopped nuts.
10. Spread mixture into pan evenly and sprinkle with additional walnuts, cranberries and cinnamon
5. Bake for 30min or until toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Optional: Grill top for a couple of minutes to brown the nuts and caramelise the crust
Serve with thick Natural Organic Yoghurt