I have never been much of a rhubarb fan, not because I didn’t like it, it just didn’t ever register on my radar for some reason. So when Julian asked me to make it as an added fruit component to our breakfast table I did some investigation and then decided on this method. I don’t think it’s necessarily an original way to cook it, although most of our guests who like rhubarb have never baked it before, but it has to be the easiest recipe, 2 ingredients and then bung it in the oven. It can’t get simpler than that.
1 bunch of rhubarb, if they seem like small bunches get 2
Enough brown sugar to cover the rhubarb once it’s in the baking dish
Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Wash then string the rhubarb, a bit like stringing celery
Chop into approx 2cm lengths
Place in oven proof dish and then cover with brown sugar
Bake in the oven til it’s reduced, the sugar has dissolved and the rhubarb is soft.
This can take up to an hour depending on how much is in the dish and how deep the dish is
Check it every 20 mins or so and give it a stir
Rhubarb is quite tart so even though it may seem like a lot of sugar it won’t be too sweet when cooked. Once you’ve tried it you can adjust the amount of sugar next time to your taste. This has been a real winner on our brekkie table.
I first encountered this delicious dish of Nanata in the early 80’s when Min, the wonderful cook I was in partnership with, prepared it. She had come from a vibrant cooking family, both her parents loved food and preparing all sorts of delicious recipes and she had also worked in the Sydney fish markets with Italian providores so her knowledge of seafood was extensive. Nanata is very small whitebait and can look a bit off putting the first time you see them because they’re very tiny, only about a centimetre or 2 long. My kids used to say they looked like jelly with eyes! Possibly not the best introduction, I admit, to something that tastes so good.
One of the most popular dishes in New Zealand is called Whitebait Fritters and they are made with fish varying in size from the very small ones as described above through to the ones that are more the conventional whitebait size of 4 or 5 centimetres. Their recipes have just a few ingredients apart from the fish. Usually egg, sometimes just the whites, a little flour and milk to make the batter and that’s it. The stories I’ve heard from my NZ friends are that the whitebait is always fresh.
The Italian recipe has the tiny fish added to a light pancake batter with some aromatics like garlic and lemon thyme and then seasoned and lightly fried in oil.
I’ve modified this recipe so that instead of it being an Italian style it has an Asian flavour. I use rice flour and coconut cream for the batter instead of normal flour and milk and then use Asian aromatics. It is very popular with my family and friends and is a great snack, light lunch or supper meal.
200g Nanata (approx) you may not be able to buy it fresh but frozen is fine
200ml coconut cream
Enough rice flour to make a light batter
Handful finely chopped green spring onions
½ handful finely chopped coriander and ½ of mint
½ Jalapeno chilli, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic crushed
1 tsp finely grated ginger – optional
Zest of 1 lime
Salt & pepper to taste
1tbsp roasted coriander seeds – ground
Oil – peanut or grapeseed – for frying
Beat the egg and coconut cream together in a bowl and then add enough flour to achieve a pouring consistency, similar to pouring cream. If you need a little more liquid add water but just a little at a time so that you don’t wind up with too large a pancake mix for the amount of fish you have.
Add all the other ingredients and the Nanata and fold through so it’s combined well.
Heat the enough oil in a frypan to cover the bottom and when it’s shimmering add the mix a spoonful at a time til the pan’s full. Fry til golden then turn and cook other side. This will only take a few minutes, they need to be just cooked through. You may need to do this in batches as you need to have enough room in the pan to turn them easily.
When they’re all cooked serve with some lime wedges and a green salad.
There are a plethora of recipes out there for this delicious dish ranging from very posh, using salmon and quail’s eggs a la Gordon Ramsey (not traditional) through to very basic curried rice with poached smoked cod and boiled eggs. Its origin comes from the British Raj and was enjoyed as a breakfast dish in Victorian England. It was seen as a way of converting leftovers into a hearty meal eaten hot or cold. I have tried a number of different recipes and this one is an amalgam of them with some bits I’ve thrown in for good measure. Traditionally the fish is poached in milk with a few aromatics but I prefer a light court bouillon. That most probably harks back to when my Mum used to serve very yellow Haddock with boiled eggs. We used to call it paddock. As a child it was my least favourite meal and to this day any fish cooked with milk is avoided at all costs.
Basmati rice cooked with a pinch of saffron and a few sprigs of lemon thyme
300-400g poached smoked fish, can be cod, salmon or any other smoked fish you fancy
Or if you’re in a hurry just use your favourite sliced smoked salmon or trout straight from the pack without poaching it.
Poaching liquid – bay leaves, pepper corns, few sprigs lemon thyme and approx 700mls of water.
2 tbsp ghee or peanut or grape seed oil
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp dry roasted coriander seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle
1 onion, sliced
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp good curry powder
1 sprig fresh curry leaves, if available or 6 dried ones
3 lightly boiled eggs; boiled 5-7 minutes depending on their size, with the yolks still soft, peeled and quartered
Small punnet cherry tomatoes, cut in half if they’re a bit big
1 cup peas, if frozen boil for a minute or 2 to start the cooking process
1 tbsp butter
Juice of ½ a lemon
Salt and pepper
Big handful of chopped parsley
To make the poaching liquid bring the water (you can substitute milk!) with the other aromatic ingredients to the boil and lightly simmer for 20 minutes to infuse the flavour.
Then place your fish in it and gently poach til slightly under cooked. It will cook a little more once added to the rice and you don’t want over cooked fish. Allow the fish to cool enough to handle and remove the skin and any bones then break up into large chunks.
Cook the rice with the flavourings, either by the absorption method or in an electric rice cooker, both work well.
Heat the oil in a large-ish fry pan
Add the mustard seeds and when they start to pop add the onion, garlic, ginger, curry leaves and curry powder and fry on medium heat for a few minutes til the onions just start to become transparent.
Add the rice and peas and stir through and make sure it’s nice and hot before adding the last ingredients
Add the fish, tomatoes, butter, lemon juice, ground coriander seeds, salt and pepper to taste and stir through very gently then turn off the heat
Serve in the pan or on a warmed serving platter, sprinkle over the parsley and quartered eggs and serve with some finely chopped lime or lemon pickles if you have it. Not essential but a good accompaniment
This serves two hungry people or four as an entrée or light supper.
What can be said about oysters that hasn’t been said already? You either love them or hate them and most probably remember the first one you ever ate.
As a little kid for our Xmas holidays we used to stay with a number of other families at a group of cabins on the Bellingen River in northern NSW. Late one afternoon I went with my Dad in the tinny, down the river a bit towards the mouth, to an old partially submerged corrugated water tank with a very healthy crop of oysters growing on it. My Dad had a wet hessian sack which he proceeded to fill, every now and then opening one for himself. I kept asking if I could have one and he said I wouldn’t like them. I insisted I would and so he reluctantly gave me one. I must’ve been about 5 and I can still remember the smell of the sea, the smooth, slippery, creamy texture and the taste which was like no other I’d ever encountered. I was hooked, much to my father’s chagrin!
The only time I wasn’t able to bear them was during, and for 6 months after reading Mark Kurlansky’s book “The Big Oyster, a Molluscular History of New York”. Not sure why. Although I loved reading the book, at the time the thought of eating an oyster was an anathema to me.
There are so many ways to prepare them. Some would say the best is to have them with their liquor when just shucked. Oysters bought at the fish markets or providores are usually washed to remove any small pieces of shell but that also removes the liquor. My ideal way to serve them is to ask the oyster shucker not to wash them which you can do if they’re not too busy. Either way I squeeze a few drops only of lime juice and a few of balsamic vinegar on each one and a light grind of pepper. A very light touch with these ingredients is essential. Any more than that drowns the flavour of the oysters and you really need balance with these delightful molluscs. This is a very simple way to prep them and is always a winner.
This recipe comes from my darling and is a staple at our breakfast table. He first encountered it while living in London in the early 70’s and had it for lunch every week day with a salt beef sandwich and a pickled gherkin. Not only has it become a staple on our breakfast table it is easy to prepare and is enjoyed by all. The only time we don’t have it on is when I make corn fritters with avocado & tomato salsa – the recipe of which is on this blog – because they’re both fried and it seems a bit excessive to do both on the same day.
Makes approx 8 -10 (depending on how large you make them)
2 large unpeeled potatoes
2 med onions, peeled with root end left in tacked for ease of grating
2 tbsp self raising flour
Salt & pepper
Chopped chives approx 1cm lengths
Grate onion (be prepared to cry!) and potato onto an old tea towel (that isn’t a waffle weave as it tends to stick) then squeeze out all excess juice, as per photo. This takes out the part of the potato that is related to the deadly night shade family and gives a better taste.
Add the eggs, self raising flour, seasoning and chives and mix well
Heat enough good quality olive oil to generously cover the base of your frypan and when it starts to shimmer spoon the mix into the pan and gently fry till golden brown on both sides.
It’s best to keep the pan at a pretty low temperature so that the potato and flour have time to cook through thoroughly without burning the outside. This can take up to half and hour depending on the heat of your pan.
Drain on kitchen paper and serve with a very light dusting of sea salt crystals, Murray River if you have it cause it’s a pretty pink and we love it, or whichever one you love.
These would have to be the easiest thing in the world to make and most probably all good chefs would highly disapprove of them being called crepes but they are very thin and delicious. I don’t make these the traditional way so I imagine I’d fail the chef test for method too but what-the-hey they are light, taste great and everyone seems to enjoy them, in fact there are times when too many is still not enough!
1 egg, free range organic if possible
1 - 1 ½ cups of milk
Approx 2 – 2 ½ tbsp plain all purpose flour*
Oil for cooking
1 tbsp oil or cooled melted butter
* If you need it to be gluten free I’ve used both rice flour and gluten free flour with success.
This amount will make about 4-5 crepes in a 26 cm pan. If you need more double or triple the ingredients.
Place the egg and milk into a bowl and whisk till combined.
Add the flour and whisk till combined.
Add the oil
It will seem lumpy at first but try to whisk quickly and gently to remove as many as you can. If it looks too thick add a bit more milk, you don’t want it gluggy and if too thin more flour. It should be the consistency of pouring cream.
Allow to rest for 20 minutes, so that the gluten strands in the flour relax and the crepe is light and not leathery when cooked. Give it an occasional stir to remove lumps if needed without working it too hard.
Heat your pan so that when you pour in the oil it shimmers, which means the pan is hot enough
Pour in approx 1 tbsp of oil (I use olive but an all purpose vegetable is fine) tipping the pan as you do so that you make sure it covers the base of the pan evenly
Pour the mix into a jug as it’s easier to then pour into the pan
Pour in a few table spoons worth of mix and quickly swirl around the pan so the base is covered. You need to be careful not to put too much in or it will be too think and not as palatable.
Cook on the first side till it’s golden brown (a minute or so) then flip and cook for about half that time on the second side.
Repeat this until all the mix is cooked
These can be served with many things, bacon and maple syrup is my darling’s favourite but fruit & yogurt is another as is yogurt and the marinated prunes (the first recipe in this blog), smoked salmon or ocean trout with crème fraiche mixed with a little chopped dill and of course the traditional lemon juice, sugar and butter is always a winner.
It’s almost 6 months since I added a recipe to this blog which is an indication of how busy we’ve been. I’ve been asked for so many recipes and my new year’s resolution is to get a lot more up here for our guests and friends to use.
Some time ago our house was used as a location for a TV commercial and at the time we only had one room let so we explained to the guests they could go out for breakfast or have something from the catering truck which is what they chose. One of the dishes on offer was corn fritters and they were so delicious that they’ve become a regular on our menu. I need to give a big nod to Bill Granger as this is an adaptation of his recipe. Basically I’ve removed the heat component as the fritters are a real favourite with little ones, even babies. But if you want to add a bit of heat, do so by finely chopping up a bird’s eye chilli to your taste and mix it into the salsa.
3 medium cobs of very fresh sweet corn – kernels cut off
½ medium red onion – roughly chopped
½ bunch coriander (cilantro) – roughly chopped
1 egg – organic freerange if possible
3 heaped tbsp self raising flour
Salt – Murray River sea salt or your favourite
Black pepper – freshly ground
1 ripe avocado peeled, deseeded and diced
1 ripe tomato, deseeded and diced
1 lime, juiced
½ bunch coriander – chopped
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Place a handful of the corn kernels in a bowl and add all the other ingredients to your blender and whiz till well mixed. Add the blended ingredients to the bowl with the whole kernels and mix. If it seems a bit wet add a little more flour, it should be the consistency of pikelet mix.
Heat your non stick pan on medium to high heat, add your preferred vegetable oil – I use peanut - and when it’s shimmering drop the mix in spoonfuls to the pan so they’re not touching and cook for a few minutes each side. They don’t take long and need to be golden brown. Drain onto paper towelling and keep cooking in batches till all the mix is done. You can place them in a warm oven while you cook the next batch but they don’t take long to cook and stay warm so I don’t bother.
Place the avocado into your serving bowl and pour over the lime juice, add all the other ingredients and mix well. Serve as a snack or part of a bigger meal and enjoy.
This recipe is so simple and as is often the case, the simple ones are often the best. When I first started making this for our guest house breakfast table I used to include a little sugar and chopped herbs – thyme, rosemary, parsley, basil etc - fresh from our garden. However one morning we had 12 people around the table and I was running late so I just used the olive oil, salt and pepper and realised that if anything it tasted better without all the other stuff, so since then I’ve kept it simple. This is a delicious dish with just about anything and doesn’t need to be relegated to breakfasts. I use it when doing evening roasts and when cooled it’s great as an accompaniment for salads. When I wind up accumulating a reasonable quantity of left over’s I (never throw them out!) I make tomato soup which is really unctuous, I’ll include that recipe soon. Also the left over oil is so tasty and can be used for a number of things, even just to dip with fresh bread.
Tomatoes – vine ripened or Romas are great but any ripe tomato will do
Drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil
Salt – Murray River sea salt is great for this
Black pepper – freshly ground
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Cut the tomatoes in half length ways and cut out the stem, I do this for presentation and it does make a difference. Place them in a dish that fits them snugly and drizzle over the oil and then sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper.
Place them in the oven and cook for approximately 1 hour. The timing for this will vary depending on how big the tomatoes are so check them after 20 minutes and if you think they’re cooking too fast turn your oven down a little. I like the tomatoes to still be juicy, so that they’ve just started to collapse. As an alternative you can have your oven at a lower temperature and cook them for longer and they will end up like semi dried tomatoes which are also great but that’s really for different applications.
I first tasted gravlax when living in Denmark in the early 70’s and thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It’s definitely a special occasion dish and is traditionally made as a way of curing and preserving salmon. When I first returned to Australia I couldn’t easily buy super fresh salmon so I made this recipe with other fish such as tuna or king fish. The main thing is it needs to be a fairly firm fleshed fish. These days I generally use Petuna ocean trout which is grown in the pristine waters off Tasmania. I like using trout as it has a lightness to it, not quite as oily as salmon, while still having a good full flavour.
It is important to buy very fresh fish because in essence, while the fish is cured, it is raw … think sashimi with a delicious flavour. I always go to the Sydney fish market as I need to know it’s as fresh as it can possibly be. I buy a whole fish so I can see the clarity of its eyes, check its smell and the delicate pink colour of the gills. All these aspects are indicators of a winkingly fresh fish. Then I ask the guys to fillet it for me leaving the skin on and I keep the bones to use in a stock for later on. I don’t like to waste any of it.
The quantities for this recipe are approximate and for this one I bought a 2.2 kilo fish.
2 ocean trout fillets
2/3 cup sea salt crystals – Murray River sea salt is wonderful for this
2/3 cup castor sugar – superfine but not the cake icing sugar
1/4 cup ground black pepper
1/4 cup white pepper
1 large bunch of dill or 2 smaller ones – chopped finely
1 tbsp juniper berries – coarsely ground in a mortar and pestle
1 small nip of gin
Wash the fillets and place on a few layers of paper towel so they can be dried thoroughly then pin bone each fillet. This is a bit of a time consuming process but absolutely necessary otherwise you cannot slice the fish to serve. You can buy special pin boning tweezers from cooking shops but I have a small pair of pliers dedicated for this job which I bought at the 2 dollar shop and they work a treat. Also trim off the small fins on the flap of the fillets.
Add all the other ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Choose a dish that the fillets will lie flat in and spread 1/3 of the mix over the bottom of the dish. Place the first fillet skin side down on the mix then add the second 1/3 of the mix over the fillet. Now place the second fillet with the flesh side down onto the first fillet (so its skin side is up) and cover this with the final 1/3 of the mix.
Cover with cling film and then place another dish on top to weigh it down. The curing process is a combination of the mix and the weighing down so if you have two containers, one slightly smaller than the other, that’s perfect and if you think the top container doesn’t have enough weight you can place a stone or can on the container to give it more weight. I use a ceramic dish that weights 1.2 kilos and that seems to do the trick.
Place in the fridge and leave for at least 12 hours but 24 is better. It improves with age and will last for a week in the fridge, although ours seems to get eaten long before that! When you’re ready to serve, place the fillet, skin side down, on a chopping board. Start from the tail end and using a VERY sharp knife, slice down on an angle towards the tail and across the skin being careful not to slice through it. The slices need to be as thin as you can make them depending on the sharpness of your knife but approximately 1-2mm is best.
This can be served on rye bread, we tend to use sourdough from our local bakery, or on potato pikelets (a recipe I will add next time I prepare, so I can add images). It can be served with a sauce made from equal quantities of sugar, salt, pepper, chopped dill and Dijon mustard whizzed together in a blender which has a good quality oil drizzled in while blending to create the consistency of mayonnaise. As I said at the beginning, this is a special dish and worth the effort for that special occasion. I make it for our breakfasts at Tara when we have a full house and it’s always appreciated.
Baba Ganoush is one of those dips that can be bought in any number of Middle Eastern restaurants and in tubs at most supermarkets. So it may not seem necessary to make it but this recipe is simple and very delicious and since I’ve started making it I find on the odd occasions I buy a tub (when I’m feeling lazy) I’m always disappointed.
You can use a blender to puree all the ingredients together but I like to use a potato masher as it gives more texture to the dip. There are a number of ways you can roast your eggplant (aubergine) but the most important thing is to get a smokey flavour so either roasting it on the BBQ or over an open low flame on a gas stove is best. When it’s ready the skin will blacken and the inside will feel soft to the touch and ideally it shouldn’t split or the delicious juices will escape. If it does split it will make a bit of a mess on the stove top (a small price to pay for the flavour) but the flavour is still much better than roasting in the oven.
The measurements for this will vary depending on how big your eggplant is and/or how many you use. I tend to use a medium sized one and the most important thing is to make sure it’s nice and plump. If it has wrinkles or blemishes on the skin it is aging and won’t be as tasty. The measurements here are approximate and it’s good to taste as you go so you get the balance right for your own taste.
I whole eggplant
½ to 2/3 cup tahini
1 lemon juiced
1-2 garlic cloves finely crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch of sweet smokey paprika
If you are roasting over an open gas flame place a cake rack over the burner and place your eggplant on that. Turn it till all sides are cooked and then using tongs hold the stem end so that the base of the eggplant is on the rack and is cooked through. When it’s done it will give off a delicious smell.
Allow to cool so that it’s handle-able then peel over a bowl so you catch all the juices.
Roughly chop and then mash the eggplant with the potato masher, it will seem a bit lumpy at first but as you add the garlic, lemon juice, table spoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and tahini it will come together. So add these ingredients and once it’s at the consistency you like decant into a bowl for presentation, drizzle the other table spoon of extra virgin olive oil over the top with a pinch of sweet smokey paprika. Baba Ganoush will last for a few days in the fridge, that’s if it isn’t eaten within the first hour after you’ve prepared it. I often make this when BBQ-ing lamb or as a pre dinner snack.