Prawn linguine

Something special for those special occasions…

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. I woke up to a beautiful present, he bought me flowers, came home early from work, settled the babies for the night and finally as I went to bed I found a beautiful Swarovski bracelet on my pillow. Yes, I know he’s a keeper! I really hit the jackpot when I married him.

 Earlier we would have gone out to dinner, wined and dined till the wee hours of the morning. Now that wouldn’t go down too well with our eight month old boy and his furbling. Needless to say then our stay at home dinner had to be something special.

One of my husband’s favourite dishes is my prawn linguine. A touch of wine, a touch of chilli, loads of garlic and of course succulent prawns. What’s not to love? So if you are looking to celebrate something special in the comfort of your own home then this is the dish for you.

  
Ingredients: 10  cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One packet of linguine pasta
  • 400 gms of prawns, shelled and deveined 
  • Three ripe truss tomatoes, chopped
  • Half a bunch of continental parsley, chopped
  • Three to four pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • 250ml of white wine ( I used a riesling)
  • Five tablespoons of olive oil
  • One teaspoon of red chilli flakes
  • Salt to season
  • Cracked black pepper to garnish

Cook pasta as per packet instructions until al dente. In another pot heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a pot. Add garlic and chilli flakes, cook until aromatic.

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Now add tomatoes, parsley (some some for garnish). Cook tomatoes until slightly soft. Then add white wine, lemon juice and let the sauce simmer for three to four minutes on a low heat.

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Add the prawns and mix well. Season with salt. Once the prawns start to change colour and start getting orange add the pasta. Toss the pasta well to ensure the sauce evenly coats the pasta. Finally add remaining olive oil, you can use more olive oil if the pasta looks dry.

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Your lip smackingly delicious prawn linguine is ready to serve. It’s best enjoyed with a garnish of cracked pepper, a wedge of lemon and of course more wine.

    

Savoury Crepes with a Crisp Baby Cos Lettuce Salad

Like Paris, Crepes are always a good idea…

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I have been living away from home now for the past eight years. Nothing can ever replace Bombay or India in my life, but Australia is surely feeling more like home with each passing year. It is such a wonderful country! Full of natural beauty, laid back lifestyle, wonderful people and a melting pot of different cultures. Honestly, it would be hard to define who is a real Aussie because everyone here has their roots from another country. This is what makes Australia a truly magical place.

Imagine the food scene in a country where people from different origins live together in harmony! I could take a culinary cruise around the world all in a days time just by choosing what and where to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Moreover living in Melbourne which is the art, food and culture Mecca of Australia, I have had the privilege of eating beautiful food and meeting wonderful people from different countries.

Speaking of meeting people from other countries, I met some wonderful French expatriates whilst working with a French company and we are now really good friends. The connection was in some ways quite instant because the French love their food as much as I love mine! From social gatherings to serious work meetings talking about food seemed to navigate through every conversation seamlessly. Although I am yet to find out why French women don’t get fat!

Today’s recipe is a shoutout to all the wonderful Frenchies in my life. I love that you take your food seriously and make it look just as beautiful as you make it tasty. While I may not eat Foie gras or Pâté, I love hearing you gush about it. I look forward to many more culinary adventures with you, but for now I just want to thank you for introducing me to Crepes. My world has never been the same again!

Ingredients: 25  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2

For the Crepes
  • 250 gms of plain flour
  • 500 ml of milk 
  • Two free-range eggs
  • Two tablespoons of melted butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • Oil for cooking
For the Sauce
  • One leek (white part only), finely chopped
  • Four to five pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • 125 gms of grated Parmesan cheese
  • Three tablespoons of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 300 ml of light cooking cream
  • 100 ml of white wine (I used a Riesling)
  • Two tablespoons of butter
  • Salt to season
For the Topping
  • Three strips of bacon (for the non vegetarian topping)
  • One medium-sized brown onion, finely sliced
  • One teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves
  • Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of cracked pepper
For the Salad
  • One bunch of baby cos lettuce
  • Quarter teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • One tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • One teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • One teaspoon lemon juice
  • Toasted black sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

To make the crepes mix all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk thoroughly. The batter should be thin and smooth. 

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Spray a medium, non-stick frying pan with oil. Heat over medium heat. Pour approximately 2.5 tablespoons of batter into pan. Swirl to cover base. Cook for two to three minutes or until light golden. Turn over and cook for one minute. Transfer to a plate. Cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.

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To make the sauce, melt butter in a pan. Add garlic and cook until aromatic. Now add the leeks and cook until soft.

Increase the heat to high and add the white wine. Cook until the sauce has reduced and the wine smell has evaporated.

Now add chopped parsley, cream and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt as required and let the sauce simmer on a low heat for another three to four minutes.

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To make the toppings, cook the bacon until crispy and cut it in cubes. For the vegetarian topping if using an oven pre heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius.  Combine the onion slices, rosemary and olive oil and bake until the onion slices are golden brown. If cooking on a gas stove top, heat olive oil in a pan. Add the onions and rosemary, cook on a medium heat until onions are golden and caramelised.

To make the salad, wash the lettuce bunch thoroughly, break the leaves and assemble on a plate. Combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Taste the dressing and increase the quantity of either ingredient depending on your taste. Pour the dressing on the lettuce and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

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To assemble the Crepes, place crepes on a warming serving plate. Add one to two tablespoons of the leek sauce in the middle and roll the crepe by folding both sides towards the centre and turn it over. Repeat the same for the remaining crepes. Drizzle remaining sauce on top of the crepes, garnish with the desired topping and serve alongside the chilled and crisp baby cos salad.

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Chicken Momos

You will definitely want more more…

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Thanks to social media the world has become such a small place. Connecting with people has never been easier. Today’s reader recipe is from a dear friend Sarah, we got acquainted through Instagram and share extremely similar passions – family (including our pets), food and fashion to name a few. I had been pestering Sarah to share her culinary masterpiece, her Chicken Momo recipe for ages because every time she uploaded a picture on Instagram it had me and the whole Instagram community drooling. So without further ado, find Sarah’s lip smackingly delicious Chicken Momos recipe below.

SARAH’S STORY

“Momos like any traditional dish, has been passed down to us generation by generation. Every household has a different recipe, here is mine.”

Ingredients: 14    Cooking time: 20 minutes

For the filling:
  • Half kilo ground chicken (use thigh meat as it is juicier), can be substituted for any protein of your choice
  • Two onions finely chopped
  • Two to three inches of ginger peeled and made into a paste or finely minced
  • Few cloves of finely minced garlic (this is not authentic but I like the flavor of garlic)
  • 0.5 cup of vegetable oil (especially for the chicken momos as chicken has hardly any fat. This will produce juicier momos)
  • 1 bunch coriander finely minced stems and all (again this is my personal preference)
  • Salt to taste
For the dough
  • 3 to 4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • Water as needed to make a firm dough
For the Achar (Pickle)
  • Handful of dry red Indian chillies or as per taste
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 10 to 12 cloves of garlic
  • Salt to taste

Mix the all-purpose flour and salt well. Add water as needed and knead like you would dough for rotis or pooris. Knead till the dough is firm and there are no flour visible on your kneading bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest while you start on your filling

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Another option – Look for white dumpling wrapper in the freezer section of the Asian Grocery Store. They are stacked high and packed together. You can use this to make it a bit easier but nothing tastes like homemade momo wrapper. If you buy the frozen wrapper, make sure to let it thaw in your fridge and keep it covered with a wet paper towel as you make your momos as they tend to dry quickly

For the filling, add the ground chicken, chopped onions, ginger paste, garlic if using, and chopped coriander in a big mixing bowl. Add salt to taste as well as the oil and mix well

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Take a small amount of filling on a plate and microwave for a few minutes. Taste for salt, adjust accordingly

Divide the dough into smaller portions and roll them like a long log. Cut them to small pieces and make round balls out of them like you would for pooris. Coat them in reserved flour and roll into small round wrapper

Add the filling in the center of the wrapper. This depends on the size of your wrapper. Start with a tablespoon and adjust according. Crimp and fold into any desired shape (You can watch videos on youtube to learn how to fold dumplings – Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Momos can be folded the same way). I just crimp and fold. The key thing is the shape doesn’t matter, as long as the momos are sealed shut properly as they cook with steam. So make sure that your momos are crimped shut.

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Arrange the momos in a greased steamer (I spray cooking oil spray in mine) making sure that they are not touching one another. I use a dumpling steamer so I add water to bottom of the steamer, half way through and bring it to a rolling boil.

Add the steamers with the momos on top. Close the lid. Put the timer for 20 minutes. We like to eat the momos when they are steaming hot and straight out of the steamer, so we time everything accordingly, like the achars and stuff.  

To make the Achar, begin by boiling the dry red chillies in water for at least 20 minutes (So that your tummy won’t hurt). Let them cool

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius or if you have gas stove or grill you can simply char your tomatoes and garlic in the grill or over gas, If not cut the tomatoes into halves. Grease a oven tray lined with foil with oil. Add tomatoes to the tray. Cook for about 20 minutes till the tomatoes are nicely roasted. Add the garlic and cook for another 10 minutes or till nicely roasted.

In a blender, add the boiled chillies, the roasted tomatoes and garlic, and salt. Blitz, taste for salt, adjust accordingly. Your simple Achar is ready.

I hope you enjoy Sarah’s lip smackingly delicious Chicken Momo recipe!

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Roasted Pumpkin and Tomato Linguine

Yet another glamourous vegetarian meal…

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Being an avid foodie I love eating delicious food, but also pushing the boundaries when cooking. Professionally I work in human resources where everything is done procedurally by the book, so I find my creative outlet through cooking. I love trying different herbs, spices, vegetables to create my culinary masterpieces. Coincidentally the results are always, well almost always very rewarding.

My dream is to someday own an all vegetarian restaurant, showcasing vegetarian dishes from around the world. The key to delicious vegetarian meals is always using fresh produce that is in season. Another important tip is know your herbs and spices and the only way to learn all about them is by incorporating them in your everyday cooking.

Today’s recipe is about showcasing the delicious pumpkin we currently have in season in Melbourne. Nothing says winter like a warm hearty pumpkin soup, but today we are stepping the humble pumpkin up a notch with a lip smackingly delicious linguine. 

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Ingredients: 19  Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One packet of linguine pasta
  • Half a butternut pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cubed
  • Three truss tomatoes, cubed
  • Eight to ten kalamata olives, pitted and diced
  • One red onion, finely sliced
  • Five to six pods of garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped
  • One tablespoon smoked paprika powder
  • One teaspoon red chilli powder
  • One teaspoon of cumin powder
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Six to eight sprigs of fresh rosemary 
  • Six to eight sprigs of fresh oregano 
  • One tablespoon of fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Two teaspoons vinegar
For the garnish (optional)
  • Four eggs
  • Two tablespoons of goats cheese
  • Two teaspoons toasted black sesame seeds
  • Fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

In a baking dish add the pumpkin, tomatoes, olives, onion and garlic. Sprinkle the spices and tear up the fresh herbs, if you don’t have access to fresh herbs you can use dried rosemary and oregano (one tablespoon each approximately). Add a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, season with salt and pepper as desired and toss all the ingredients. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender.

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Cook the pasta as per packet instructions. Once the veggies and the pasta are cooked, toss the linguine thoroughly and ensure the pasta is coated with the ingredients evenly.

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For the garnish I have used a poached egg, which gives this dish another flavour element and combined with the other ingredients it becomes a lip smackingly delicious sauce. To poach an egg, start by individually cracking the eggs in small bowls. Next bring water to a boil in a deep saucepan. Add vinegar, lower the heat and slide each egg one by one into the water. Depending on your pan a really runny poached egg will take two to three minutes and a medium poached egg will take about five to six minutes.

To assemble the dish plate the linguine. Place the poached egg on top and finally garnish with goats cheese, parsley and toasted black sesame seeds.

Your lip smackingly delicious Roasted Pumpkin and Tomato Linguine is ready to serve. Try this dish for your next pasta night and be sure to impress family and friends.

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Cream of Leek and Broccoli Soup with Rosemary Oil

A warm soup, a cold evening is a match made in heaven…

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I must be the only weirdo who truly loves winter. Honestly, what’s not to love? You can overdose on carbs, drink hot chocolate endlessly, eat a piece of cake with your cup of tea without feeling guilty and if you pack on a few pounds you can cover it all up under that trench coat without a worry!

Apart from all the indulgence, there’s one more way to enjoy the winter chill and that is by trying and testing different soup concoctions. Soups are the perfect winter warmer and they are so incredibly versatile! There are smooth and creamy soups, chunky soups, soups with meat, soups with vegetables, soups with pasta, soups with lentils, the list is never-ending.

Recently I had a craving for the classic potato and leek soup, which screams comfort in every bite. So the other night while I was all set on making potato and leek soup, little did I know it was not meant to be that night! I was out of potatoes! The problem with being a foodie is once an idea germinates in your head it is impossible to settle for something else. Potato or no potato, I was determined to make a soup that was as good as potato and leek soup without potatoes. Lo and behold I found a beautiful lush green broccoli head in my fridge. I know you are wondering, how can broccoli ever replace potatoes in a potato and leek soup? Take my word for it, very easily!!!

To quote my husband “it’s the best soup I have ever eaten, I was shocked at how good it was” I believe him considering he went back for thirds.

Ingredients: 13  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

For the soup
  • One leek pale section only, sliced
  • Three pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One large head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • One massel vegetable stock cube
  • Four cups of water 
  • 300 ml of fat reduced cream
  • One teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • One tablespoon of butter
  • Salt to season
For rosemary infused oil
  • Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Four stems of fresh rosemary leaves (approx 4 inches long)

Heat olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek and stir continuously, cook for five to seven minutes until soft. Now add garlic and cook for a minute or two, until aromatic.

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Add the broccoli florets, lemon juice and stock cube to the leek mixture. Stir until the stock cube has disintegrated. Now add four cups of water, followed by the dried rosemary leaves and season with salt as required. Cover the saucepan with a lid and let the soup simmer until the broccoli is tender.

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Once the broccoli is tender, add cream and stir it through. Lower the heat, cover the saucepan and let the soup simmer for another five to seven minutes. Finally with a stick blender, blend the soup until smooth.

To make the rosemary oil, heat extra virgin olive oil on a low heat. Add rosemary leaves and temper for about five to seven minutes. Remove from heat and let the oil cool to room temperature.

Garnish the soup with rosemary oil and cracked pepper. Serve this lip smackingly delicious winter warmer with a side of char grilled sourdough bread.

Enjoy!

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Smashed Peas with Poached Eggs and Avocado

Smashed avocado is so yesterday…Smashed Peas are here to stay…

As a devout foodie I can tell you nothing, absolutely nothing is more important than breakfast. Particularly on a Saturday morning after a wonderful sleep in, what could be better than a delicious breakfast plate waiting for you. My husband and I love surprising each other with breakfast in bed every now and then, believe me it’s a great old trick among others to keep that spark alive.

The other day we were still laying in bed at 11:00am, after all it was a Saturday. I said to my husband you know what I had a dream, where you brought me this delicious plate of green goodness for breakfast. He indulged me and asked what was on the plate, without any hesitation I began to describe – avocado, peas, fresh herbs, eggs and toast with lots of butter. Ha! yes I do recall my food dreams vividly, after all that’s how I get most of my cooking inspiration. Anyway so my husband just chuckled and continued to play on his phone and for some reason I fell back to sleep.

The next thing I know I was woken up by my dream, but this time it was a reality. My plate of green goodness was right in front of me and behind it all was my gorgeous husband. I know right – LUCKY ME!

Today’s breakfast/brunch is my dream on a plate. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Ingredients: 8   Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2

  • Four free range eggs
  • One avocado, sliced
  • Two cups of frozen peas
  • 10-12 fresh mint leaves
  • One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • A nice loaf of sourdough bread
  • Half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to season

Everywhere around Melbourne, smashed avocado seems to be a raging breakfast sensation. I say honey your days are over because smashed peas are here to stay! This recipe is built on a bed of smashed peas flavoured with mint, extra virgin olive oil and lemon – a combination that will simply knock your jocks off. LOL!

Steam the peas for about five to seven minutes, until soft. In a bowl add the steamed peas, fresh mint leaves, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive, juice of half a lemon and salt as per taste. Using a stick blender coarsely blend all the ingredients. Your smashed mint peas are ready!

For poached eggs – the first step for perfect poached eggs is to use the freshest eggs. The next step is to get yourself a wide casserole type pan and bring water to a boil. Add one teaspoon of vinegar and a pinch of salt. Once the water has boiled let it simmer. Crack each egg in a small bowl drop them in the pan one by one, you’ll see them begin to cook immediately. Depending on your pan, a really soft poached egg should take around 2 minutes and a soft to firm one will need 4 minutes (it depends on the size of the eggs and whether you’re using them straight from the fridge). To check whether they’re done, remove one carefully from the pan with a slotted spoon and give it a gentle shake. If it feels too soft (use your instincts), put it back and give the eggs a little longer in the water to firm up. Once the eggs are cooked remove them on to kitchen paper and dry off.

While the eggs are poaching get your toasts ready, it is essential to use really good bread with this recipe because life is too short to eat bad bread.

To plate up – make a bed of smashed peas, surround it with avocado slices, top it up with toast and poached eggs. I added some of the leftover smashed peas on the top too, because I just can’t get enough. Finally season with some cracked pepper, dig in and get ready to fall in a food coma.