Dinner

Steak with crispy couscous

A paprika and garlic steak with crispy bacon couscous, green beans and tomatoes

What meat-eating person doesn’t love a steak? I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, pretend to know anything much about the cooking of the ‘perfect steak’, but I do enjoy eating it all the same. Steak is a fantastic hot-weather food. For me, it alludes to summer breezes, beaches, dining outside and BBQs. Those things usually go alongside holidays and good times.

A paprika and garlic steak with crispy bacon couscous, green beans and tomatoes

I have been making this dish recently, which has become a fast favourite due to its speedy preparation and flavour-bomb tastes. A one-pan dish (excepting the dish you ‘cook’ the couscous in), it is light on labour and on the washing up!

I also always keep a bag of frozen green beans and bacon in the freezer. Along with a few pantry staples, the only fresh ingredients on the list for this dish are steak and tomatoes. Simple!

A paprika and garlic steak with crispy bacon couscous, green beans and tomatoes

Steak with crispy couscous

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 400g beef steak
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 2 rashers bacon
  • 1 ½ cups green beans
  • 3 tomatoes

Directions

  1. Put a griddle pan on high and heat the olive oil.
  2. Rub the steak with paprika, garlic salt and pepper.
  3. Fry the steak 5 mins on the first side, 3 min on the other. Remove steak from the griddle pan and wrap in foil to rest.
  4. Boil the kettle, and add 1 cup boiling water to a bowl with the stock cube. Stir to dissolve. Add the couscous, stir and cover for 10 mins.
  5. Cook the bacon on the pan until crispy, and then add the green beans and tomatoes until softened, jammy and a little blistered.
  6. Once the couscous is cooked, fluff it up with a fork and add to your griddle pan. Do not stir for 5 mins or so, so that the bottom of the couscous becomes crispy and golden.
  7. Slice the steak into thin slices and serve on top of your crispy couscous.

Baked risoni with corn, tomatoes and zucchini

A baked cheesy risoni dish with spring time vegetables

If I could eat pasta for dinner every day, I would do just that! I blogged about a slow-cooked zucchini pasta bake here and homemade ravioli here.

I decided to try something different with my sauce for this recipe, and it is so easy! Simply stir the sauce ingredients together straight in the baking tray, before adding the pasta and vegetables. I have chosen veggies that are in season and readily available, but you could use whatever you fancy or have in your kitchen.

Baking the risoni in the eggy sauce gives it a rather pudding-like texture with a pleasing crunchy topping. A lovely dish full of springtime flavours!

A baked cheesy risoni dish with spring time vegetables

Baked risoni with corn, tomatoes and zucchini

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 tomatoes, halved
  • 1 zucchini, shaved into thin slices
  • 500g dry risoni
  • 1 egg
  • 500g creamed cottage cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 15g grated parmesan
  • Fresh basil, to serve

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius.
  2. Heat a griddle pan and chargrill the corn, tomatoes (face down) and zucchini for 5-10 minutes until softened.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the risoni in salted boiling water according to packet instructions.
  4. Grease a deep roasting tray and break the egg into it. Add the cottage cheese and mix well. Add cooked risoni and vegetables and stir to mix well.
  5. Top with a layer of finely grated parmesan and bake for 20 -25 mins until golden and crusty on top. Sprinkle a few leaves of fresh basil on top to serve.

Baked salmon & leek risotto

Flaky baked salmon in a one-pot leek risotto

My husband actually has a food blog buried in his past. Not in his long-ago past, but he no longer updates it. And on it, he shared a recipe for a baked risotto. It was his specialty recipe. As soon as he discovered how to bake risotto, rather than loyally stand at the stove stirring, he has never looked back. For a lazy weeknight, the baked risotto option is definitely a winning method that I support.

Flaky baked salmon in a one-pot leek risotto

I have rejuvenated my husband’s recipe with different flavours. Salmon and leek, a classic combination. And this recipe is packed with springtime vegetables. It is nice to know that you are sitting down to a well-balanced meal. No sides required

This recipe uses one-pot, is super simple to prepare, and then just let the oven do its thing. Enjoy!

Flaky baked salmon in a one-pot leek risotto

Baked salmon & leek risotto

  • Servings: 2-3
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Ingredients

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 leek, halved and sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 salmon fillets, skin off
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • Knob butter
  • Lemon juice, to finish
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated parmesan, to serve

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in an ovenproof heavy based casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius.
  2. Fry the leek, carrot and zucchini for 5 minutes in the casserole dish until vegetables have softened.
  3. Add the rice and mustard and stir to coat the rice evenly with the oil.
  4. Add stock and allow to boil. Cover with the lid and bake in the oven for 20 mins or until the liquid has all been absorbed.
  5. Meanwhile, place salmon fillets on a greased baking tray, season and bake for 12 mins or until cooked through.
  6. Remove from the oven and flake the cooked salmon over the risotto. Stir through with the peas, butter and lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with grated parmesan.

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.