Lemon Myrtle Tart with Wattleseed

Photo by Dom O'Donnell

Photo by Dom O'Donnell

Citrus sweets are THE BEST. Originally this was going to be a lemon meringue pie, to try and force a kind of childhood nostalgia. But by the end of the night I could not be fucked making meringue. You could do that, or just serve this with some cream or ice cream to balance out the citrus flavour. Still pretty good by itself. 

I like getting the whole roasted wattleseed and crushing them myself, because the smell and flavour is insane, but you can buy pre-ground instead. You can also buy lemon myrtle syrup a lot of places, I just make my own because Veronica gave me the leaves when we were at Witjuti Grub Nursery. 

You need to start the lemon curd at least a few hours before serving - preferably overnight. 

For the lemon curd bit

4 lemons, juice and rind only. Take the rind off with a fine grater. 
4 egg yolks
65 gms cornflour
175 gms caster sugar

Lemon Myrtle Syrup

6 dried lemon myrtle leaves
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup water

For the crust bit

200gms plain flour
100gms caster sugar
125gm cold unsated butter
2 tablespoons ground roasted wattleseed

Put the lemon juice and rind in a bowl over the saucepan of simmering  water. Combine the cornflour and about 1/4 of a cup of water together in a separate bowl (add more water if it goes weird) and then mix that into the lemon mixture.

Add 1 cup of boiling water and whisk quickly until it thickens up. Remove from heat and add egg yolks, sugar and butter, constantly whisking the mixture quickly. Refrigerate for an hour or so. 

Add the ingredients for the lemon myrtle syrup into a saucepan and cook on a medium heat until the sugar had dissolved. Leave to simmer on a low heat, tasting every now and then until it has the kind of lemon myrtle flavour you want, Stir quickly through the lemon curd, then put it back in the fridge.

If you've got a food processor, you can make the crust by processing all the ingredients together until they become a kind of loose dough. If not, you can grate the butter with a cheese grater into the flour and sugar and then mix it together with your hands/a fork. I like when there's still some buttery bits but that's not 'good pastry'. You just want it to all be sticking together.

Refrigerate the dough for about an hour, then either roll it out, or just press it into a tart tray. I've given up trying to make pastry that you can actually take out of the tray, so I always just commit to my tarts being messy and ugly to eat. If you know how to make proper shortcrust pastry then for the love of god do that. 

Blind bake the pastry for 15 minutes, or until it's golden brown. Then taking the baking paper off and bake for another 5 minutes. Leave to cool, then spoon the lemon curd into the pastry base. Sprinkle with ground wattleseed. And flowers if you're a huge wanker. 

Photo by Dom O'Donnell

Photo by Dom O'Donnell

 

 

Roasted Baby Vegetables

Photo by Dom O'Donnell

Photo by Dom O'Donnell

I’m sure you know how to roast vegetables, but a couple of tips are – put things in together than take a similar time to roast. So I roasted assorted baby beets (some golden, some purple, some odd shaped – its beet season and my mum picked these up from the markets cause she can get up early on a Saturday somehow), little baby kipfler potatoes, baby carrots, and fennel together (fennel obviously is quicker to cook but I wanted it to be more burn and carmelly so it was sweeter). All I seasoned it with was oil and some whole garlic cloves, roasted them at 180 for about 25 mins and then threw some chopped parsley through at the end.

I also roasted some zucchini and radishes together for 10 minutes using the same method. 

Photo by Josh Watson

Photo by Josh Watson

Vine Leaf Pie with Chermoula

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

I got the idea for this from Ottelengi's Plenty - staple favourite cookbook of middle-class middle-aged ladies and pretty much everyone else. His had parmesan and breadcrumbs on top, but I had really no idea what the flavours would be like so put Chermoula on mine (a kid of sweet North-African chutney) to make sure it was at least sort of delicious, and it turned out to be VERY delicious, which is cool. 

Chermoula Ingredients: 

3 zucchinis, cut into small cubes
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 capsicum, cut into thin slices
400g chopped tinned tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Splash of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey
Handful of raisins


Turn the stove on high and fry capsicum on high for one minute. Turn the stove down to medium and add the zuccini, garlic and onion and fry until the zucchini is soft. Add the spices and stir fry on high for 2 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes and raisins turn the heat down and let it simmer for 5 - 10 minutes. Finish with honey and vinegar, making sure you taste to get the right sweet/vinegar-y balance.

Vine Leaf Pie Ingredients:

300g packet vine leaves (you can get these from most European delis - of pick your own. I think you'd need about 20 fresh vine leaves for each pie) 
4 shallots, finely chopped
50g butter, melted
2 zucchinis, chopped into small cubes
4 tablespoons greek yoghurt
Handful of pine nuts
Half a bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
Half a bunch of dill, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of mint, roughly chopped
1 lemon
1 tablespoon rice flour


Fry zucchini until it's soft with a big splash of oil and the shallots and pine nuts. Leave to cool and then mix with the yoghurt, herbs, rice flour and a squeeze of lemon.

Brush (you can use your fingers, you don't need a pastry brush or anything) the bottom of your pie tins with butter, then lay out enough vine leaves to cover the bottom and edges of the tin, with some draping over the side (if you're using fresh vine leaves you'll need to blanch them in hot water first). Brush the vine leaves with butter, then spoon out the zucchini and yoghurt mixture on top. Fold the overhanging leaves over the filling, then cover the tops with more vine leaves. Brush the tops with butter, and put in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the vine leaves on top are crispy and dry. 

Top with the chermoula and serve. It will be pretty hard to cut up, but what can you do. 

 
 

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Fruit Salad with ginger & lime syrup

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

I feel a bit silly writing out a recipe for this cause it's just a fruit salad - but I didn't fully know how to make a syrup until recently, so maybe this will be useful.

I think this syrup would be delicious over a stone fruit salad - peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries. However even though it was STONE FRUIT SEASON when I made this my supermarket didn't have any except for a couple of plums. So I panicked and bought the weird assortment of fruits you see in this picture. 

Makes about a cup of syrup

Syrup ingredients: 
1 cup sugar
Half a cup of water
1 lime, zest cut off.
Thumb sized piece of ginger,
half thinly sliced, half crushed. 

Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan on high until boiling. Reduce the heat and add the ginger and lime zest and a couple of thin slices of lime. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes, or until it's a dark syrup-y consistency. 

Take out the whole slices of ginger if you don't want too-strong a ginger flavour. Leave to cool, then pour over your fruit salad. If the syrup gets too solid when it cools down, add a bit more boiling water and stir vigorously until it is liquid enough to pour. 

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Yemeni pancakes with savoury stuff and yoghurt sauce.

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

I really wanted to do some kind of savoury pancake, but I didn't want it to be boring. Enter, this recipe I found in the Honey & Co cookbook. They serve there's with a great kind of herby-paste, but I decided to go real Australian Bastardising Other Cultures Breakfast and serve mine with halloumi, asparagus, smoked salmon and yoghurt and herb sauce.  

Makes about 15 pancakes

Pancake ingredients: 
500g wholemeal plain flour
1 1/2 stale pita bread
2 teaspoons dried yeast
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar
700ml water


1 packet of halloumi, sliced thick of thin depending on what you like
20-ish asparagus spears
500g smoked salmon

Yoghurt Sauce Ingredients: 
200g Greek yoghurt
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1/2 cup chopped mint
Handful of dill leaves
Pepper
Splash of olive Oil
Juice of 1 lemon

 

Soak the pita bread in water for about 10-15 minutes until soft. Mush it up into a paste with your hands or a fork. Mix the pita bread and the rest of the pancake ingredients together, cover with gladwrap and leave in a warm area for at least 30 minutes, until the yeast has activated and the mixture gets bubbly.

Lightly toss the asparagus with oil, and roast at 180 degrees for 10 minutes

Heat a light layer of oil in a medium frypan. Spoon a ladle full of mixture and spread it out into a thin pancake. Cook until the top is covered with bubbles. Don't flip the pancake, instead put a lid or plate on top of the frypan for 1-2 minutes, until the top is steamed cooked and not wet to touch.

You can keep the pancakes on a plate covered with a tea-towel while you fry up the halloumi. 

Mix all the yoghurt sauce ingredients together. 

Serve the pancakes on a plate with smoked salmon, asparagus and halloumi, with the yoghurt sauce in a bowl so everyone can put their own pancakes together. 

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Photo by Savannah van der Niet

Probably the Best Salad

I hate whenever recipes describe something as ‘delicious AND guilt free’ or like ‘you won’t BELIEVE it’s healthy’ – cause usually they’re talking about stuff with heaps of weird fake-sugar chemicals or under-salted microwave meals. Also if something is delicious you can’t feel guilty about eating it that’s the rule. But this salad, with honey and nuts and a bit of chili, tastes good (not as good as a grilled cheese but better than a can of tuna) and is relatively healthy. You could probably eat it for at least 3 days before you started really wanting a chicken burger.  

Photo by me, food styling by me, sense of existential dread brought on by my entirely yellow house by god. 

Photo by me, food styling by me, sense of existential dread brought on by my entirely yellow house by god. 

This recipe is very easy and you probably could have made it up for yourself – but I know sometimes it’s hard to think of a lunch idea that won't make you feel like shit, so here it is.

Ingredients:

¼ of a big pumpkin
2 cans of Butterbeans
300g Brussels Sprouts, halved
1 cup of nuts, roughly chopped (I used Brazil Nuts, but walnuts, pecans or cashews would work fine too)
Half a red onion, finely diced
200 grams of Rocket
1 Sprig Rosemary
Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Sumac  (you could use Dried Chili if you want more heat/don’t want to buy sumac)
3 tablespoons of honey
Half a lime
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 108 degrees. Cut the pumpkin into bite sized-ish pieces.

In a baking tray, coat the pumpkin, nuts and Brussels sprouts in the honey, sumac or dried chili, rosemary and a big glug of olive oil together until everything is evenly covered. Bake for about 30 minutes – checking after 20 if you cut your pumpkin fairly small.

When the pumpkin is soft, take the tray out of the oven and leave it to cool.

Drain the butterbeans, then add to the cooled pumpkin and nut mixture. Mix the rocket and onion through, and finish with a squeeze of lime and salt and pepper to taste.

Total Fluke Roast Chicken

I don’t know how it happened, but this chicken was, as any judge on any cooking show might say ‘cooked to perfection’. Which is weird cause I (aka dumb chicken cooking rookie) bought the wrong part for roasting (Nigella says to ALWAYS use chicken thigh. I hope one day she’ll forgive me) so I was expecting it to be very dry. Brining it definitely helped, and resting it for 5 minutes before serving. Really though, it was just a total fluke that I checked it at the exact right minute (I was gonna leave it in for another 10!) when it was just done and tasty as hell. I sure took all the praise like I deserved it though

Serves 12-15.

Ingredients: 

1 kg Chicken Breast (you want to have at least half a breast for each person)
2 tablespoons Ground Cumin
2 tablespoons Ground Tumeric
2 tablespoons of Ground Coriander
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup Slivered Almonds, roasted
500g Greek Yoghurt
1/4 cup Tahini

Make a brine for the chicken by covering the peices water, then adding about 1/4 cup salt. Leave to sit in the fridge for 30 mins - 3 hours

When you're ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Take the chicken out of the brine and rub it with the ground spices, garlic. and olive oil so every piece is covered. Cook for 10-15 minutes until just cooked (try not to open the oven too much during this time). Cut the biggest piece in half to make sure it's cooked through. Leave to rest out of the oven for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Mix the yoghurt and tahini together. To serve, scatter the chicken with almonds and drizzle the tahini yoghurt sauce over if you want, otherwise just serve the sauce in a bowl. 
 

(Shoulda been) Soba Salad

If you look closely (or like, at all), you’ll notice that the noodles in these salads are definitely NOT soba. One is vermicelli (fine, gotta cater for my legit celiac friend Laurel) and one is Udon. NOT FINE. Udon noodles are great in soups or stir fries because they’re substantial and salty – not at all right for ‘delicate’ (as close as I ever get anyway) salads.

But when you’re rushing around the supermarket trying to get ready to feed 20 people, it’s very easy to pick up the wrong packet – and then what was I gonna do, walk back to the shops? In the middle of the day in summer? Nah. But please don’t make the same mistakes as me. For the love of god get the soba.

You could also definitely make your own sesame sauce (I’ve made one before with mirin, light soy, a little sugar and tahini that was pretty good) but the ready-made stuff is generally a much better consistency. It’d be worth going to a Japanese grocer to get the real deal (Genki Mart in Alderly is terrific if you’re in Brisbane) but the Kewpie brand one is available in most supermarkets.

Serves 12 + as a side

Ingredients:
2 packets soba noodles
4 shallots, finely sliced
2 Lebanese cucumbers
1 packet tomato medley (if the multi-coloured tomatoes aren't in season regular cherry tomatoes are fine)
Sesame-soy sauce (see above)
1 Carrot
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
Couple of handfuls of mixed lettuce leaves
thumb-sized peices of ginger
500g raw salmon fillets (should be about 2 - 3 fillets) 

Wrap the salmon fillets individually in baking paper with the ginger, a splash of soy sauce and half a teaspoon of butter for each fillet. Cook at 180 degrees for 5 - 10 minutes, until the salmon is just cooked. Leave to cool.

Cook the soba noodles in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Leave to cool completely. 

Cut the carrots into matchstick-sized 'julienne' pieces (you can grate them if you want, though it tastes different). Slice the cucumber in 1-2cm slices, then cut them in half into semi-circles. Cut the tomatoes in half (or smaller if you're using big tomatoes. 

Mix the cucumber, carrot, tomatoes, lettuce, shallots, soba, sesame seeds, and the sesame dressing of your choice together. Flake the cooked salmon over the top and serve.