Category Archives: Recipes

scrummy paella

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A couple of weeks back a good friend of mine showed up on my door step with a whole lot of food she had left over from a TV shoot they had been filming up here. I was chuffed to find I’d scored several packets of Calasparra paella rice (the one in the lovely creme and red cloth sack) high quality saffron, black salt and a couple of kilos of chicken oysters ( the tasty little morsels on the back of the chook and don’t worry these had been in the freezer!). Consequently I have spent to past few weeks telling myself I must make  paella, so last weekend I did exactly that.

Make sure you gather a crowd, approx 8 mouths should do be able to polish it off without too much difficulty.

Here’s the recipe, but please use only the best ingredients, if you want to make a crowd pleasing paella. The rice is really important, you can usually buy Calasparra at a good deli.

Chicken & Pork Paella

1/2 cup olive oil

2 large brown onions, chopped

1 large red capsicum, chopped

1 large green capsicum, chopped

1 head garlic, halved

1 bunch thyme

3 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika

3 ripe tomatoes, chopped

generous pinch saffron threads soaked in 1/2 cup water

1 pork leg steak, chopped (include some of the fat for extra flavour)

500g chicken oyster or chicken thigh fillets, chopped

500g calasparra rice

2 litres homemade chicken stock

To start off you will need to make a soffrito – a combo of slow cooked onions and capsicum, this will be your flavour base, so please no rushing and no burning of the onions!!

Heat the oil in a paella pan, i used one of the black and white enamel ones. Add the onion, capsicum, garlic and strips the leaves off 8 sprigs of thyme, cook the oil over a medium heat for 15 minutes or until the onions are soft and golden brown. Add the smoked paprika, tomatoes and saffron threads with the soaking water and cook until the tomatoes skins soften (if you want to you can peel the tomatoes but i don’t cause life is too short).

Add the pork and chicken and cook until browned, dont rush this part. Check the pan to see if it has enough oil, you may need to add a bit more as you are looking to create a crunchy base for your paella, not a risotto, so you want to fry the rice then add the liquid and not stir it again.

Ok so now add the rice into the hot oil, fry the rice and stir it to ensure the rice grains are coated with the oil, then add the stock. Leave it now for about 20-30 minutes or until the rice is tender, cooking time will vary depending on the size of your element, ideally cook it on a barbecue or an open fire, I cooked mine over the wok burner and just kept on turning it. You may also need to add some extra liquid if its starts to dry out before the rice is cooked.

When the rice is cooked, cover the pan with foil and allow to stand for 5 minutes, this helps release the crunchy base from the bottom of the pan. Finish it off with some extra time leaves, a few pinches of smoked paprika, some black salt if you have any or sea salt if you don’t. Squeeze a bit of lemon over and take it to the table.

*Please note that the pic shown is the paella whilst it is still cooking, there should be no liquid visible once the rice is tender.

Served 5 adults and 6 kids with plenty of room for seconds

i’ve got a thing for flounder

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On a recent trip to Melbourne I order flounder, it was bloody delicious. So I was absolutely stoked when I came across three of them (yes just three, not a huge tub full) at Mullumbimby Farmers Market the other day . I bought all three and must confess to eating all three. My intention was to share them, but they were they were just too damn good. And they are not very common fish in these parts so I happily polished them all off without feeling the least bit guilty.

To be completely honest, I had never cooked flounder before so I kept it simple. I scaled them with a spoon,then scored the top of them with a knife, drizzled them with a little olive oil and generous sprinkle of sea salt and cracked pepper. I cooked them on a baking tray lined with baking paper under a hot grill and had the oven on at the same time on 250C. They took about 7-10 minutes and once they were done, I finished em off with a dob of organic butter and a squeeze of lemon (grown on my very own tree).

I accompanied Flounder 1 with my new favourite chopped salad – think lettuce, tuna, avocado, dill, tomato, capsicum and parsley (I’ll rave about those in a later post) Flounder 2 I teamed with a chopped potato salad – think yoghurt, mustard, dill, capers, mint and lemon sorrel Flounder 3 with another fancy pants salad.

I am now on a mission, fossicking for flounder, if you happen upon any be sure to let me know where you find em, or do yourself a favour and sample one. There is more to life than snapper, barra and flake.

break your fast with a googy egg or two

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My girls have been providing me and my friends tummy’s with wonderful health giving eggs for the last 2 years. They and their divine bright orange yolk treats will be truly missed as I am moving now to a backyard that cannot house them. Thankfully they are going to greener pastures and hopefully they will be able to roam free without causing too much havoc in their new garden.

If you don’t know the secret to a good boiled egg, let me share it with you. I have the talented Jamie Oliver to thank for helping me master the art. Have your googy eggs at room temp. Get the water boiling but not going berserk, add a pinch of salt, gently lower you precious eggs into the water. Allow 5 minutes for soft, 71/2 minutes for medium and 10 minutes for hard. Tuck into them straight away or else they will keep cooking in the shell.

Still one of the most satisfying and nourishing ways to start the day. Oh and its goes without saying – don’t forget the soldiers – oh and should i add? Soldiers just aint soldiers without some organic butter!!

Twice Cooked Mini Cheese Souffles

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As published in InStyle Magazine July 2011 – recipe and food styling by Jody Vassallo. Serves 8.

Ingredients:
Twice Cooked Mini Cheese Souffles:
melted butter for greasing
plain flour for dusting
85g butter
85g plain flour
grating of fresh nutmeg
400ml milk
150g gruyére cheese, finely grated + 50g extra for serving
6 eggs, separated
300ml pouring cream
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Instructions:
Preheat oven to 170˚C. Grease 8 (1/2 cup capacity) small non stick baking dishes or ramekins with butter and grease lightly with flour. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour, stirring for 2 minutes without allowing to colour. Remove from heat, adding grated nutmeg to the milk and slowly add the milk to the pan a third time, stirring continuously. Return to the heat and cook, stirring until the sauce boils and thickens. Add the cheese, stir until melted. Remove from heat, add egg yolks and combine. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a large clean bowl. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form in a separate bowl and fold into cheese mixture in 3 batches. Fill your buttered ramekin dishes 2/3 full with the mixture. Place them in the backing dish with enough water to come 1/2 way up the sides of the dishes and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Remove the ramekin dishes from the baking dish and allow to cool for one hour. Just before you are ready to serve, turn the oven up to 240˚C. Run a knife around the inside of each ramekin to loosen the soufflés. Remove them from the dishes and place upside down in separate, shallow oven proof serving dishes. Pour some of the cream over each soufflé and sprinkle a little gruyére on top. Bake for approx 7 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. Enjoy!

Unforgettable & Unusual Nutmeg Cake.

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Ingredients:
Nutmeg Cake
2 cups (250g) self raising flour
2 cups (500g) soft brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground coriander
150g butter
1 egg
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk
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Vanilla Marscapone
300g marscapone
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
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Instructions:
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line the base and sides of 20cm cake tin.
Sift the flour, cinnamon, allspice, coriander into a bowl, stir in the brown sugar.
Rub in the butter using your fingertips until the mixture resembles biscuits crumbs.
Press half of this mixture into the prepared tin.
Whisk together the egg, nutmeg and buttermilk and add to the remaining flour mixutre, this will be very thin.
Pour this mixture over the crumb base.
Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre.
Allow to stand in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool – I love this cake warm.
To make the cream combine the marscapone, brown sugar and vanilla bean paste in a small bowl, serve a dollop of the cream with a generous wedge of the nutmeg warm nutmeg cake.