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.

    

Thyme Tomato Chilli Mussels

Come on baby light my fire…

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For a working couple that loves to eat, mid-week meals need to be all about convenience and oodles of flavour. What if I told you this recipe is ridiculously easy, packs a real punch of flavours and can even light your fire mid-week! Yes, you read that right – Mussels are not only full of flavour but also a natural aphrodisiac. So come on baby!

This combination of mussels with plenty of garlic, parsley, tomatoes and white wine was inspired by the Venetian soup zuppa de peoci. I have added some rosemary and thyme to elevate the flavours of this dish further.

You can simply serve the mussels in the tomato broth or make them a bit more substantial by adding pasta or make them utterly indulgent by serving the mussels pasta with a side of crusty sourdough bread.

So think no more, read the recipe below and light your fire mid-week.

Ingredients: 12  Serves: 4

Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • One kg mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 400 gms of crushed canned tomatoes
  • 125 ml of white wine (I used a reisling)
  • Three to four pods of garlic, coarsely sliced
  • One medium brown onion, finely sliced
  • One to two red chillies, finely chopped
  • Half a cup of continental parsley (leaves and stems), finely chopped
  • One teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
  • Four to five sprigs of thyme
  • 250 gms pasta, cooked al dente
  • Four tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season

Heat extra virgin olive oil in a pan. Add garlic and cook until aromatic. Now add the onions, parsley stems and red chillies, cook until the onions are translucent. 

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Add crushed tomatoes, followed by white wine, thyme and dried rosemary. Cook until the wine has evaporated and the sauce slightly reduced. Then add the fresh parsley and season with salt as required.

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Finally add the mussels, lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook until the mussels have opened. To serve simply scoop the mussels and tomato broth over the pasta and serve alongside some crusty bread. 

Enjoy this utterly simple yet simply flavourful dish and come on baby light my fire.

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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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Quattro Fungi and Toasted Pine Nuts Risotto

Your little dose of aphrodisiac…

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Food in my view is an all-encompassing experience, engaging all your senses, giving you a sense of euphoria! Add Friday to this mix and it is reason enough to celebrate.
 
My ideal Friday is coming home to my wonderful kitchen and cooking an easy but equally delicious and indulgent meal for Ji and I. What better a way to unwind! Cooking  on a Friday night may feel like climbing the Everest for some but believe me once you start enjoying the cooking experience as much as the eating experience, your life will never be the same again.
 
On my way home from work last Friday I was tossing up what to cook for dinner. I knew I had two luscious globes of broccoli in the fridge, but my mind and belly felt like something a little more indulgent. The chill in the Melbourne air  also called for some rich, decadent, flavour packed comfort food. 
 
Contrary to my popular choice of comfort food this meal is all about celebrating the humble yet gastronomically glamorous Italian food! I chose to make a mushroom risotto, a perfect dish to spice up your night in. Mushrooms belong to the family of natural aphrodisiacs, add a glass of wine and company of your better half to the mix – that’s what nirvana feels like!
 
Ingredients: 13  Cooking time: 60 minutes
Serves: 4
  • 1.5 cups of brown arborio rice or medium grain rice
  • 500ml of white wine (I used a chardonnay)
  • One cup each of assorted mushrooms (I used dried shiitake and fresh oyster, Swiss brown & button mushrooms)
  • One medium-sized onion chopped
  • Six to eight pods of garlic finely chopped ( there is no such thing as too much garlic)
  • One cube of vegetable or chicken stock (I used Massel vegetable stock cube)
  • Five tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1.5 litres of water
  • Salt to taste
  • Tablespoon of butter (optional)
For the garnish
  • Handful of toasted pine nuts
  • Finely chopped continental parsley
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Start by preparing the mushrooms. Slice the swiss  brown and button mushrooms (prior to slicing them remove the stem). Add one cup of hot water to the dried shiitake mushrooms and soak them for about 10 to 15 minutes until soft. Strain the shiitake mushrooms, don’t throw the water away as we will use it for stock (this stock is key in bringing out the flavour). If you have dried porcini mushrooms its even better, prepare them in the same way as the shiitake mushrooms.

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In a saucepan add olive oil followed by onion and garlic. Cook the onions for 10 – 12 minutes on medium heat, until they are lightly browned. Now add the vegetable or chicken stock cube, this should be easily available at your local supermarket. Stir the onion mix until the stock cube is nicely incorporated.

Add 1.5 cups of uncooked rice, I used medium grain brown rice.  Coat the rice with the onion garlic mix and cook for five to seven minutes on a medium heat. Brown rice in my view is a great option because of the great nutty flavour and crunch. Plus face it brown rice will be slightly kinder to your waistline than white rice.

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Time to get naughty!! Add 500ml of white wine to the rice, I used a Bethany Chardonnay.  Keep stirring until the wine reduces. Brown rice requires a lot of liquid to cook, so add stock of the shiitake mushroom and three cups of water (approximately 750ml of water). Keep stirring. 

The key to a creamy risotto is either lots of cream and butter a.k.a calories or a woman/man with a good arm that can keep stirring. When the water has reduced add the remaining water, cover the saucepan with a lid and cook the rice for 30 – 40 minutes on medium heat.

Check the rice to see if it’s cooked, remember brown rice tends to be crunchy and  holds it form better than white rice.  So don’t fret if the rice is still visibly separate, nobody likes a gluggy sloppy risotto! 

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Add the mushrooms, cover the lid and cook the risotto for another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt as desired. To make the risotto glisten you can add a spoon of butter and give it a good stir, this is optional!

Garnish this bad boy with toasted pine nuts, fresh parsley and grated parmesan. Serve hot and let your Friday night in sizzle with this lip smackingly delicious beauty!!!

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