Silverbeet and ricotta ravioli with bacon crumb

Fresh homemade silverbeet and ricotta pasta with a crunchy savoury bacon crust

I am fortunate enough to have a KitchenAid. I received it as a gift for my wedding. It is my favourite kitchen appliance and sits proudly on my bench all of the time. My mother and mother-in-law always stare at it when they visit and ask me if I use it much. Ha! I find a use for it almost every day! It is always being useful and is so very beautiful, and that, to me, earns a space on my premium bench space.

As part of my KitchenAid kit, I have a pasta dough roller attachment. This is amazing! It makes the process of making fresh pasta a breeze. Although, I must agree with my husband that attempting a new recipe at 6pm on a Monday night, was not the best idea. Not when it had to fit in with bedtime for the little one. However, the process definitely paid off as this dish is spectacular!

Fresh homemade silverbeet and ricotta pasta with a crunchy savoury bacon crust

A twist on the classic spinach and ricotta, because silverbeet is something we get a lot of in our veg box and it makes a beautiful spinach alternative for this purpose. And a bacon crumb for texture and umami.

Even if you have a hand operated pasta machine, I promise this is not difficult at all! And totally worth the effort.

The pasta recipe is adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s basic pasta recipe, found in the Cook’s Companion

Fresh homemade silverbeet and ricotta pasta with a crunchy savoury bacon crust

Silverbeet and ricotta ravioli with bacon crumb

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

For the pasta:

  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs

For the filling:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 bunch silverbeet (just leaves), shredded
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 375g ricotta
  • Zest of a lemon
  • Salt and pepper

For the crust:

  • 1 rasher bacon
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to serve
  • Parmesan cheese, to serve

Directions

    Directions:

  1. To make the pasta, combine the flour, salt and eggs in a mixer with a dough attachment. Once it has come together into a ball, knead for a minute or two, adding a little extra flour if too sticky (it should be quite sticky). Then cover with plastic wrap and leave on the bench to rest for an hour.
  2. To make the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the silverbeet and spring onions on a medium heat until the silverbeet has wilted and is soft (approx. 10 mins).
  3. Take off the heat and stir through the lemon zest and ricotta.
  4. Divide the pasta dough into four and roll each amount out using a pasta roller to one of the thinnest settings (I used a KitchenAid attachment and rolled out to ‘7’). You may need to dust the pasta sheets with a little flour whilst rolling to ensure that it does not stick. Avoid using too much flour so that it does not clump when cooking the pasta.
  5. Lay your pasta sheets out on the bench, and place 1 tsp of filling along the bottom half of each sheet, leaving about 3 cm in between each dollop.
  6. Lightly brush the bottom edge of the pasta with water (not too much or it will get very sticky!) and in between each dollop of filling. Fold the pasta over and pat to seal the edges well. Cut using a knife or a crinkle cutter. When setting aside before cooking, lightly dust with flour once again to ensure that the ravioli do not stick to each other.
  7. To make the bacon crumb, fry the bacon in a frying pan. Once crispy, whizz in a food processor with the breadcrumbs.
  8. Cook the ravioli in a large pot of salted boiling water for 3 minutes or until floating.
  9. Serve the ravioli drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and grated parmesan cheese, and a sprinkling of the bacon crumb.

Spring chicken salad

A quinoa salad with spring greens, chicken and seeds

I must admit, I am not a salads person. I will never order salad when eating out, except if it is a shared dish and other more hearty dishes are also on the table. Unfortunately I have difficulty convincing myself that salads can be interesting and tasty, and filling.

 

However, I know that this is the wrong way to think about salads. And I made a spring chicken salad recently (recipe below) to help convince myself. And boy, I must make more salads for dinner! The recipe I’m sharing today was an experiment using spring greens and it tastes delicious! I’ve used a brown rice and quinoa mix, which is my new favourite carb. If you buy the microwavable pouches, they become a super easy option for lunch or dinner. Nutty and with texture, they make a great warm addition to a salad.

I added avocado and feta, for lusciousness. And a seed and za’atar rub on the chicken which gives crunch and flavour.

It makes plenty enough for four, but my husband and I were lucky to have leftovers.

A quinoa salad with spring greens, chicken and seeds

Spring chicken salad

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 500g chicken breast
  • 3tbs almond meal
  • 3tbs pumpkin and sunflower seeds, mixed
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbs sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp za’atar
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 100g snowpeas
  • 200g green beans
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas
  • 1 pouch microwavable quinoa & brown rice
  • 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 100g feta

Directions

  1. To make the rub for the chicken, mix almond meal, pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds, garlic, za’atar seasoning and salt and pepper in a mortar and pestle.
  2. Coat the chicken breasts with the rub, ensuring an even layer. Fry in a frying pan with a little olive oil for 10-15 mins until cooked through.
  3. Slice the green beans and snowpeas into small 2cm chunks and steam with the peas for 3 mins or until bright green and just blanched. Add to the salad bowl.
  4. Microwave the quinoa and brown rice, and add to the salad bowl.
  5. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small container, and drizzle over the salad.
  6. Crumble the feta over the salad. Toss the ingredients to ensure an everything is evenly distributed.
  7. Once the chicken has been cooked, slice and lay on the top of the salad.

Lemon quiche

A tangy lemony quiche with smoked salmon and capers

I have always been a Francophile. Ever since I can remember. Perhaps it all began with the children’s TV series Madeleine. I remember watching episodes when I was young, soaking in the faux French accents and absorbing the cartoonish Parisian landmarks.

In school I learnt French as a second language, all the way up to university. Since, I have visited France several times. I especially love French food. My birthday celebration this year involved dining at a French restaurant.

A tangy lemony quiche with smoked salmon and capers

To me, a quiche is the epitome of my childhood ideal of ‘French cuisine’. I have grown very fond of making a quiche in recent years, and once you have the hang of the pastry and timings, it is actually very simple to make one from scratch. And the flavour combinations are endless!

A tangy lemony quiche with smoked salmon and capers

Gardens are rife with lemons this time of year, and I wanted to hero it in my quiche recipe. This quiche is deliciously lemony and tangy, with some smoked salmon thrown in there for good measure. I am loving this milder weather and think this is the perfect light dinner for early Spring evenings, and could even be enough motivation to contemplate an outdoor picnic!

A tangy lemony quiche with smoked salmon and capers

Lemon quiche

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 240g plain flour
  • 160g unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup water

For the filling:

  • 1-2 lemons, sliced
  • 100g smoked salmon for cooking
  • 200g crème fraiche
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbs capers
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of one lemon

Directions

  1. To make the pastry, beat the butter and flour together in a mixer using a dough attachment. Add just enough water to bring the pastry together into a ball. As soon as the pastry comes together, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 mins or until needed.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200° Celsius. Grease a quiche flan with spray oil.
  3. Take the pastry out of the fridge, and sprinkle the worktop with flour. Roll out the pastry until it is big enough to cover the base of the quiche flan. Line the flan with pastry and trim the edges. Weigh down the pastry with baking paper and baking beads, and blind bake the pastry case for 20 mins in the oven.
  4. To make the filling, whisk the eggs and crème fraiche together. Season, and add capers, lemon zest and juice. Stir to combine.
  5. Remove the pastry from the oven and lower the heat to 160° Celsius. Remove the baking beads and baking paper. Line the pastry case with an even layer of the smoked salmon, and pour in the egg filling.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 mins. Add lemon slices on top of the half-set filling decoratively. Continue to bake for about another 10 mins or until filling is set.

 

 

Pork pasties with chilli, lime and coriander

A comforting pasty filled with pork mince, chilli, lime and coriander

I lived in the UK with my husband for a year. It was a wonderful time – we met lots of friends from all over the world, we travelled around Europe and never stopped learning new things. Also, we tried a lot of new foods!

A comforting pasty filled with pork mince, chilli, lime and coriander

We lived in Cambridge and we were often catching the train into London. When I made my pork pasties below, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the many trains we caught that year. The wafting smell of pastry coming from my kitchen brought back memories of waiting at a train platform, with a little Cornish pasties stand down the way. I’m not sure many would, but I admit the pasties always smelt inviting, no matter the time of day. Warm, flaky, juicy and with so many comforting flavours.

A comforting pasty filled with pork mince, chilli, lime and coriander

My pasty’s flavours are inspired by the ingredients we receive in our veg box each week; an Asian cooking box from CERES Fairfood. They make for a lovely winter’s lunch or a light dinner, with little in the way of preparation.

A comforting pasty filled with pork mince, chilli, lime and coriander

Pork pasties with chilli, lime and coriander

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 250g pork mince
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2cm ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 2 sheets store-bought puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius.
  2. Combine all the ingredients except for the puff pastry and egg in a mixing bowl.
  3. On a worktop, cut the pastry sheets in half lengthwise.
  4. Spoon in one quarter of the mixture onto one half of a pastry sheet (mentally divide the pastry sheet lengthwise). Spread it evenly along the half lengthwise.
  5. Fold the pastry over the filling and crimp the edges to seal. They can be baked flat, but I stood mine up with the crimped edge in the middle, because I thought they looked prettier this way.
  6. Place the pasties onto a greased baking tray.
  7. Brush the pasties with the beaten egg.
  8. Bake in an oven at 180° Celsius until golden (approx. 20 mins).
  9. Serve with a salad of lettuce, capsicum and cucumber topped with sprigs of fresh mint and coriander.

Creamy slow-cooked zucchini pasta bake

A creamy slow-cooked zucchini pasta bake

My go-to cookbook is the amazing The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander. Whenever I’m not sure what to do with a vegetable, particularly if I have a lot of something, I refer to the chapter in Stephanie’s book and pick out an always-delicious recipe. The other week we had a lot of zucchinis delivered in our vegetable box and I did just that.

A creamy slow-cooked zucchini pasta bake

This recipe is inspired by Stephanie Alexander’s Slow-cooked Zucchini. I love the idea of cooking zucchini for a long time to create a glossy and unctuous texture. It makes this simple ingredient so luxurious.

A creamy slow-cooked zucchini pasta bake

I decided to turn the zucchini into a creamy pasta bake, because how can you go wrong with a creamy pasta bake?

This is a great comfort food dish. I happened to make this dish on a night when bedtime for the little one was particularly trying, and dinner was eaten tag-team between my husband and I. This is the perfect dish for solo eating. Decadent, rich and luscious. Enjoy!

A creamy slow-cooked zucchini pasta bake

Creamy slow-cooked zucchini pasta bake

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 4-5 zucchinis, cut into 2cm chunks
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 250g fusilli
  • 20g parmesan, plus extra
  • 200g crème fraîche
  • 30g butter, melted
  • 50g breadcrumbs

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over a moderate heat and add zucchini and garlic. Lower heat and cover. Cook for 20 mins, stirring frequently until the zucchini has become squidgy and will mash easily.
  2. Mix the breadcrumbs with melted butter. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Mash the zucchini with a fork or potato masher, and add the lemon juice, chilli flakes and anchovy fillets. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Preheat the oven at 180° Celsius.
  5. Cook pasta according to packet instructions, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.
  6. Add ½-1 cup of pasta water to the zucchini mixture to loosen, along with the crème fraîche and parmesan. Add cooked pasta and stir.
  7. Put pasta mixture into a roasting tray and top with breadcrumb mixture. Grate an extra layer of parmesan over the top of the breadcrumbs.
  8. Cook in the oven at 180° Celsius for 15-20 mins until golden and crunchy.

 

Slow cooker creamy beef casserole with Brussels sprouts and mustard

Creamy, rich, indulgent beef casserole with mustard and nutty Brussels sprouts

There is something about having dinner bubbling away by noon that makes you feel like a boss for the rest of the day. It makes dinner hassle-free, and even the prep seems quicker earlier in the day. With a new baby in the house, and being the middle of winter, the slow cooker has become my best friend.

Creamy, rich, indulgent beef casserole with mustard and nutty Brussels sprouts

I wanted to create a slow cooker beef dish that would be the ultimate comfort meal. I make a lot of slow cooked beef dishes that involve tomatoes, but I wanted something richer, something creamier, and something that seemed more indulgent. However, this dish still has lots of veg and makes getting your ‘five-a-day’ easy.

So in addition to carrots, celery and mushrooms, a classic beef combination, I decided to go with the often overlooked Brussels sprout. I am a fairly recent convert myself. When I lived in Cambridge for a year I subscribed to a weekly veg box and received many many Brussels sprouts which necessitated learning how to cook them a variety of ways. And I realised that when cooked well they can be delicious! In this dish, the Brussels sprouts soak up the flavour of the mustard and provide a crunchy texture and a nutty depth of flavour to the casserole.

Creamy, rich, indulgent beef casserole with mustard and nutty Brussels sprouts

Serve with mashed potatoes and red wine, for a cosy supper on a cold night. I made this on a night when the wind was hammering at the windows and the rain was lashing down and it was wonderful.

Creamy, rich, indulgent beef casserole with mustard and nutty Brussels sprouts

Slow cooker creamy beef casserole with Brussels sprouts and mustard

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients

  • 1kg chuck steak, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbs plain flour
  • 1 cup beer
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into thick rounds
  • 2 celery sticks, cut into thick slices
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
  • Handful of parsley, to serve
  • 1 lemon, to serve
  • Mashed potato, to serve

Directions

  1. Heat oil in the base of the slow cooker set to ‘sear’ function. If you do not have this function, use a frying pan. Add the onion and sear the meat until all surfaces are browned.
  2. Add the flour and stir to evenly distribute and coat beef. Cook for 1 min.
  3. Add beer and stock, deglazing the base of the pan with the liquid. If using a frying pan, move beef to the slow cooker at this point.
  4. Add the garlic, carrots, celery and mustard.
  5. Set your slow cooker for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high.
  6. Add the Brussels sprouts and mushrooms 10 mins before the end of the cooking time.
  7. Once cooking is complete, add cream and stir. Serve with mashed potato. Garnish with parsley and a spritz of lemon juice.

 

Spiced Chicken Bake with Cauliflower and Almonds

Spiced chicken traybake with cauliflower and almonds that is easy and quick to prepare!

With a young baby in the house, early evenings are now very busy times. At 6pm our house is go-go-go! Bath time is happening and bedtime is approaching. So… dinner preparation has had to become super-slick. The less time required in the kitchen, the less multi-tasking for this tired mama!

Spiced chicken and cauliflower traybake that is easy and quick to prepare!

I wanted to create a dish that would eliminate the crazy from our evenings. Something that involves minimal effort to put together. Something that I can whack into the oven and forget about until my husband and I are ready to eat. Our ‘dinner time’ varies from one night to the next and it is nice to be able to sit down to eat together as soon as bub is asleep.

Spiced chicken traybake with cauliflower and almonds that is easy and quick to prepare!

I LOVE cauliflower. It is seriously one of my favourite vegetables. My all-time favourite dish growing up was a luscious cauliflower cheese to accompany a roast lamb. This, sadly, is one of the few ways I know how to cook this delightful vegetable. Given cauliflower is in season at the moment in Melbourne, I decided to try cooking it a different way. I have also been loving almonds in savoury dishes and thought that they would provide an interesting crunch. The overall effect is one of major scrumptiousness. I love this recipe – not only are we set up for a yummy dinner, but also a peaceful evening, and who can complain about that?

Spiced chicken traybake with cauliflower and almonds that is easy and quick to prepare!

Spiced Chicken Bake with Cauliflower and Almonds

  • Servings: 3
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Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt & pepper
  • ½ cup almonds, crushed
  • ½ tsp of chilli flakes
  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • ½ cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 6 black olives, pitted and sliced
  • ½ bunch coriander, coarsely chopped
  • Couscous, to serve
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 220° Celsius.
  2. Combine olive oil, garlic, ground coriander, cumin, lemon juice, salt, pepper, almonds and chilli flakes in a large bowl.
  3. Add the chicken drumsticks to the marinade and toss to ensure an even coating.
  4. Place the chicken in a roasting tray with the red onion and cauliflower.
  5. Bake in oven for 20 mins.
  6. Reduce heat to 180° C and baste with juices. Bake for a further 40 mins.
  7. Add olives to the roasting tray 10 mins prior to the end of the cooking time.
  8. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve with couscous and lemon wedges.

Roast Lamb Pie

A cosy winter Sunday lunch, roast lamb pie

Growing up, my mother’s specialty dish was a hearty roast lamb. It was by far the family favourite, preferred over pork, beef and chicken. I think my mum started cooking it because my father had grown up eating roast lamb every Sunday, cooked by my grandmother. When my grandmother passed away, my mum, her daughter-in-law, kept up the tradition. And of course, it was served with all the great British trimmings – mint sauce, gravy, potatoes, carrots, peas…

A cosy winter Sunday lunch, roast lamb pieA cosy winter Sunday lunch, roast lamb pie

I have for you here a reinvention, if you will. I called on my memories of roast lamb and the flavours that it entailed. My pie has potatoes, carrots, mint and peas! Reminiscent of old fashioned family Sunday dinners. A meal for a winter Sunday lunch, for family gathered around. To share a good bottle of red wine, and to spend the afternoon debating answers to the Sunday quiz.

A cosy winter Sunday lunch, roast lamb pieA cosy winter Sunday lunch, roast lamb pie

 

Roast Lamb Pie

  • Servings: Makes 2 pies; 4 serves per pie
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Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg lamb shoulder, bone on
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 red onion, cut into chunks
  • 4 rashers bacon, diced
  • 1 tbs plain flour
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 carrots, cut into thick rounds
  • 500g potatoes, washed, peeled and diced into 2 cm chunks
  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 handful of fresh mint, coarsely chopped
  • 1 sheet store-bought puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions

  1. Heat oil in slow cooker set to ‘sear’ mode (or use heavy bottomed saucepan on stove). Sear lamb until browned all over. Add red onion and bacon and stir.
  2. Add flour and stir for 1-2 minutes until juices are thickened.
  3. Add red wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Cook until liquid reduces by half. Transfer lamb to slow cooker.
  4. Add beef stock, garlic, herbs, tomato paste, carrots, potatoes and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Set slow cooker to ‘slow cook’ mode and cook for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low.
  6. Once ready, set slow cooker to ‘sear’ mode again and bubble until liquid thickens. Stir through peas and mint.
  7. Spray a pie dish with oil and preheat the oven to 180° Celsius.
  8. Spoon the pie filling into the dish and top with the pastry sheet, using a little oil to seal the edges. Prick several holes in the pastry with a fork and brush with beaten egg.
  9. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins until pastry is golden and puffed. Serve with fresh mint.