Browsing Tag


Ramblings of a Suburban Urbanite

Strange BBQ beasts, and Moroccan Chicken Pie

April 15, 2014

chicken bastilla ingredients***This is a sponsored post courtesy of Steggles and Digital Parents Collective. All ideas are my own and recipe is mine, all mine***

I ate some amazing food in Morocco. Mounds of marinated olives, breads that defy definition and lots and lots of cous cous. In fact, it was where the term ‘Cous Cous Pants’ was coined but we need not go into that here.

They also have roadside BBQs called meshwe but I’m sad to say I never sampled the food…. want to know why?

It’s a tad shameful to be honest.

Our bus would pull up next to a roadside meshwe, nestled on the side of a mountain surrounded by lush greenery, manned by a swarthy, sweaty man toiling over hot coals with rivulets of perspiration running down his face and often no hairs left upon his forearms, but the thought of burning hair or man sweat seasoning my BBQ’d meat was not the problem.

The problem was that I dug in my heels in agriculture class at high school.

chicken bastillaWTF, Where is this going? I hear you cry……

You see, although I was never a vegetarian and I was happy as a pig in proverbial to dissect as frog, I was not so keen on agriculture class or as it’s affectionately referred to – Ag.

Rhymes with gag.

I got myself excused on the day they branded pigs, and I think I bunked the day they docked sheep tails, and then I promptly forgot that sheep have tails.

Cut back to Morocco – there I was standing in front of what was probably the best lamb BBQ I was ever going to nosh in my life, but I was certain that poor, flayed, long-tailed creature was a dog.

I couldn’t do it. As mouth-watering as the aroma that tickled my nostrils may well have been I walked away; I ate some fruit, bread and olives and got back on the bus with a rumbling tummy thinking how delicious BBQ dog smelled.

Another thing I wished I’d tried was squab bastille, or pigeon as it’s more commonly known. I’d heard so much about the famed pie, but in all of my Moroccan adventure I never saw anyone eating anything other than tagine and cous cous.

I don’t often think to use chicken mince, but when Steggles offered to send me some of their über lean minced breast and thigh to try I knew I’d be able to pull something outta the bag.

It boasts being a lean source of protein and carries ye olde Heart Tick of approval and Coles is selling two 500g packs for a tenner (except WA for some reason. Sorry Perth), so it’s cheap as chips.chicken bastilla

Chicken Bastilla with Moroccan Carrot Salad.

Serves 4-6

What you will need :

For the pie – 

  • 1 kilo chicken mince
  • 2 small or one medium leek, white part only
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 1/2 cup each of parsley and coriander
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • a good grind of fresh black pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  • 11 sheets filo pastry
  • olive oil spray, or melted butter
  • icing sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling and dusting

For the salad – 

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup pinenuts
  • 2 tablespoons crystallised ginger, chopped
  • 2 lemons, juice and rind finely grated
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • a handful of chopped coriander

What you will need to do :

Pop a little olive oil into a large frypan over a medium heat and fry off your garlic until it’s fragrant. Toss in your leek and give it a good sweat.

Next, add your chicken mince ensuring you have enough heat so as to cook it fast, cooking off the juice as you go and not stew it.

Ensure you keep stirring well until your chook is browned off. Chuck in your cumin and cinnamon, stir.

Next up add your almonds and sultanas, lemon zest and herbs giving it all shimmy.

chicken bastillaAdd your stock and then throw in your beaten eggs ensuring you stir it up like a Bob Marley song.

Preheat your oven to 200C.

Next, lightly spray or butter your pie dish. I use olive oil spray because I’m lazy and it’s easy. There, I said it.

Lay one piece of filo across ways in your dish, and then lay another the other way, forming a cross. Spray lightly with oil, dust with a little icing sugar and cinnamon (sounds weird, but trust me!).

chicken bastilla filo pastryRepeat until your have 5 layers (10 pieces – 2 pieces per layer, know what I mean?) and then pop your mince in.

Gently fold each bit piece by piece until you have just a couple of bits left then place your remaining sheet over the top sop it looks tidy. Fold up your last pieces and crinkle them around the edges and do a final spray and dust.

Toss her in the oven and leave her then until golden brown and crunchy, about 30-40 minutes depending on your oven.

For the salad, lightly steam the carrots until they are just al dente and toss together with the remaining ingredients.



chicken bastilla and moroccan carrot saladChicken mince is a cracker for fussy eaters because the flavour is fairly innocuous. It would work it’s butt off with my San Choy Bow recipe, or my Curried Mince.

If you need some more minced chook inspo, check out the Stegglers ideas.

Steggles are also offering a motza gift pact to one lucky reader of my choice. All you have to do is leave a comment on either Facebook or this post of what you would like me to make with chicken mince. I will make your request and send you on through a prize pack.

Not bad, eh?chicken bastilla

  • The motza Steggles gift pack includes:

o   2 Cooler bags

o   a couple of aprons

o   4 caps

o    a couple of Picnic Blankets

o   Footy and Frisbees

o   Recipe Cards


Cook Once, Feed All COVER_lr

Cook Once, Feed All is about making your life easier whilst preparing nutritious and quick food for your family. Hailed by Mouths of Mums as the ‘must have recipe book for all families’, this book is a collection of family friendly recipes, all accompanied by stories from my life.

To order your hardcopy of Cook Once, Feed All head to the Holsby Shop right now.

If you like what you’re reading why not like my Facebook page now or subscribe via email, to be sure to always keep up with the Holsbys.





Dinner, Dinner, Food for Big People, Food for Little People, Lunch, Lunch, Ramblings of a Suburban Urbanite, Snacks and other goodies, Snacks and other goodies

Recipe Rewind – 5 beauties from before you were watching.

March 11, 2014

When I first started this shebanglang I went hell for leather and posted every day or so. I remember getting up at 5.30 am all pumped to ping some love in your in-box before you got up (all three of you).

I was alternating between food and thought pieces and I was cooking and thinking my ass off all day every day because I was so excited to have the outlet.

Admittedly, I couldn’t sleep for shit at that time because I was 500 weeks pregnant with a baby elephant who prided herself on sleeping directly on my bladder, but at least I was productive…. and let’s face it, shooting my mouth off is more my style that cleaning like a tornado as some up-duffers do.

I busted out some of my bestest, most go-to, week-day, bang-em-out meals in the first couple of months when only my best friend, my Nana and my Mum was reading.

I’ve thought a couple of times how much of a big fat waste it was so I’m going to treat y’all to the recipe rewind.

Admittedly, my photography was pretty bloody awful when I started, but I’m not ashamed.

Hell, I’ve shown you a photo of my arse, and my cans, so what’s a crappy picture of food between friends, am I right?

I can guarantee that although the images may be dogs, these meals are still on high rotation at the Holsby Bar and Grill, and you should totes get on the bandwagon, yo.

fish and misoFive Spice Fish with Miso Broth

Anyone that eats at my table with regularity has eaten this numerous times. It takes me 10 minutes to from board to bowl, so maybe it’ll take you 20 minutes the first time and you’ll just get speedier after that.

My kids eat this happily, I just give less soupy juice because they’re hopeless and will wear that stuff.

Curried Mince

nana and grandpaThis little ripper has been handed down throughout my family. My grandparents eats this, my uncles eat this, their kids and partners, and my brother and mother, and, and, and,….you get the picture. Speaking of pictures, this recipe comes with my crinklies, Nana and Grandpa’s, love story.

Sticky Mustard & Marmalade Pork with Pears

This rocks. Nowadays, if I’m not using a fillet, I’ll get chops with the skin on. I’ll chop that tasty pork fat and skin off and roast it with a liberal sprinkle of salt and crackle that baby right on up and serve with it.

Everything is better with crackling.

squid and chorizo pasta

Chorizo and Squid Spaghetti

Spicy chorizo simply loves to be married with seafood…. particularly squid. Add some hard core pasta carb action and this is such a delicious meal.

squid and chorizo pasta

5 Minute, 5 Ingredient Lime Pie

I simply had to give you a cracking dessert in the list. You think I would leave you high and dry after dinner???

Not my style.

If you have NO TIME to make dessert, make this baby your biatch, because it couldn’t be simpler or faster, and just quietly, it’s yummy enough to be impressive to boot.


Cook Once, Feed All COVER_lr

Cook Once, Feed All is about making your life easier whilst preparing nutritious and quick food for your family. Hailed by Mouths of Mums as the ‘must have recipe book for all families’, this book is a collection of family friendly recipes, all accompanied by stories from my life.

To order your hardcopy of Cook Once, Feed All head to the Holsby Shop right now and receive both the hard copy, and the ebook, plus my new mini ebook A Bit On The Side.

If you like what you’re reading why not like my Facebook page now or subscribe via email, to be sure to always keep up with the Holsbys.

Dinner, Dinner, Food for Big People, Food for Little People

Middle Eastern inspired BBQ lamb fillet with broccoli tabbouli

January 28, 2013

lamb and broccoli tabbouli ingredientsI’m not entirely sure how lamb became the unofficial meat of Australia Day. One would be more inclined to think it should be sausages, but some very clever advertising from the lamb industry has rendered them the star of many bbqs on the day that we celebrate the ‘discovery’ of Australia.

I use inverted commas because, of course, Australia was discovered a few times before this official date, and let’s not even go there on the fact that it didn’t really need to be discovered at all because a very noble people already owned the land and had done for a very long time……but I digress. This is a recipe, not a political statement.

Back to clever advertising, I reckon the Sam Kekovich lamb ads are great. This year is not my favourite but after working in advertising (audio side) and seeing a gazillion crapola ads, clever writing stands out of the pack. I often have a giggle at the Australia Day ads that’ve been released annually since 2006.

If you’re not from around these here parts….check it out. This was the first one, and there’s one every year….this year the old boy even gets his Gang Nam on whilst trying to recover from Lambnesia!

This recipe was supposed to be up in time for Australia Day but we’ve had a little blip in our schedule this week and things have not run as smoothly as the corporation would have liked……thankfully, this lamb can be eaten any day of the week, any week of the month, any month of the…..yeah, that.
This rub works on lamb chops too, and to be totally honest I’ve actually put it on chicken and fish also. It’s a super simple Middle Eastern inspired crust.

Broccoli tabbouli is a new discovery for me. My trainer was talking it up recently and the idea piqued my interest no end. I like broccoli, I like tabbouli – what’s not to love, right?
It’s incredibly good for you, and although I used freekeh, which I just adore the nutty taste of, you could use quinoa, or burghul, or cous cous or whatever.

Yield : 4 plus leftover salad, which rocks with tuna FYI

What you will need :

  • 500g lamb loin
  • 2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • a head of broccoli, wizzed in the food processor until finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup freekah, or burghul
  • half a bunch of mint, chopped finely
  • half a bunch of parsley, chopped finely
  • 1/2 large red capsicum, chopped
  • a couple of sweet grilled pieces of capsicum, grill your own or from a jar (optional)
  • a punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 spanish onion, finely chopped
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • good quality olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons hummus
  • 3 tablespoons Greek style natural yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon harissa or chili sambal (optional)
  • sumac and/or dukkah to serve

What you will do :

Cook your freekah according to packet instructions.
Place all of your spices into a clean plastic bag (ensure it has no wholes because that would suck), and mix them together. Toss your meat into the bag and give it a good shake around making sure all of the meat is covered.

Pop your meat on the BBQ or under the grill, or whatever. Just cook it good. I’m a medium rare kind of lamb girl, so I do about 5 – 7 minutes per side depending on how thick the piece is.

Chuck all of your salad ingredients into a big bowl, including your drained freekah, and toss with the olive oil and lemon juice.

Mix your hummus and yoghurt together, adding chili if that’s your bag. Drizzle on top and spinkle with your sumac or dukkah. I used both because I like bags of flavour.

Plate it all up and devour. Yum.

D Man liked this wrapped up in a pita bread….I think the tabbouli was a tad tricky (judging by the state of my floor), but mixed with the hummus sauce in a wrap changed the consistency to something more manageable.

Do you have a friend that needs healthy, affordable ideas for feeding their family?

Flick this recipe over to them, maybe they’ll love it!!

middle eastern lamb and broccoli tabouli

Dinner, Food for Big People, Lunch

Get Your Quack On……Asian Duck and Pumpkin Salad

August 31, 2012

Holy snapping duck shit….did you realise that Winter is almost over?
Thank Christ for that, right? It’s been freezing in our new house. Top of my To Do List is get a shit-hot gas heater for next winter.
After writing my winter to do list and crossing the first three off in lightening speed I got a tad complacent and forgot all about it. Well, shit, mates, I nearly missed the boat but I’m going to sneak it in today, although today is not technically a recipe day.
You know what, it’s my blog, and I’ll mix it up if I want to….and you’ll actually thank me because this duck recipe that my mum gave me is all that.

I really love when you find a recipe that is simple, yet impressive enough to serve at a dinner party, or heaven forbid, a dinner date. I had those once.
This duck got me lucky.
Lucky duck.

I don’t really have any quippy duck tales to share with you. I guess the most interesting duck fact I have is that when I was growing up I lived next-door to this super-kooky, eccentric lady named Helen. She lived with her dear ol’ toothless Ma, and the pair of spinsters were co-mums to 300+ quackers….. In suburbia. Little bit noisy, little bit smelly.

I personally think Helen may have been a touch quackers herself, but, regardless, she was very lovely. She used to let me watch the little ducklings hatch and I would adopt a duckling a month as they fast grew from those sweet, little fluffy ducklings into grown ups.

She didn’t eat the ducks. In fact, I have no idea what she did with her ducks. I must remember to ask my Mum.

When I buy a duck and it’s just for the two of us, I tend to split it up the backbone and cut it with kitchen scissors so I can freeze half. I did that today, because I want to make a nice rich, duck ragout to throw over some pasta, another day.
This recipe will feed four, and everyone will love your arse for cooking it…..and you can be all smug because only you will know it was a piece of cake.

Yield : 4 serves

You will need :

1 x 2.5 kg duck
sea salt and ground pepper
small bunch of mint, chopped

For the roast pumpkin :
1-2 dried chillis, crumbled
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt and pepper
1 large butternut pumpkin, quartered

For the dressing :
zest and juice of 1-2 limes
olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 fresh chilli, finely chopped (deseeded if you want a little less heat)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
5 shallots, white parts trimmed and julienned, green ends finely chopped
a large bunch fresh coriander, leaves picked and stalks finely chopped

Preheat over to 180C
Wash duck and pat dry, then rub inside and out with salt and pepper. Place on a rack in a baking tray and roast for about 2.5 hrs, turning over now and then. Halfway through, drain away a lot of the fat.
If you’re only doing half the duck, it’s about 1 and a bit hours. Keep an eye on it.

In a pestle and mortar, bash up your dried chills and coriander seeds and add the ground cinnamon and a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Scoop the seeds out of the pumpkin and save to one side.
Cut the pumpkin into wedges, place on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle over the ground spices and give pumpkin a good toss, spreading pieces in one layer. When the duck has been in for an hour and fifteen minutes, pop the pumpkin into the oven as well.
Meanwhile, rinse the pumpkin seeds, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Toast in a dry frying pan until crisp. I really like pumpkin seeds so I often throw a handful of pepitas in when I do this bit. They kind of puff up and add another texture, and we love texture.

To make the dressing, put the lime juice and zest into a bowl, add the same amount of olive oil, plus sesame oil and soy sauce. Stir in the sugar, chilli, garlic, coriander stalks and green shallot ends. Taste and adjust the sweet and sourness of the dressing.

When the duck is nice and crispy and the pumpkin is soft and sticky (keep an eye on the pumpkin, sometimes it cooks faster). Take both pans out. Using 2 forks, shred the meat off the bone and put into a large bowl. While duck and pumpkin are still warm, toss with toasted seeds, half the coriander leaves, half the mint and half the white onion slices. Pour on the dressing and toss together with gentle, fairy fingers.
Serve sprinkled with the rest of the coriander, mint and onion.

If you enjoyed this post, subscribe now to ensure you always keep up with the Holsbys.

Dinner, Dinner, Food for Big People, Food for Little People

In Protest of Deprivation…..Chorizo and Squid Spaghetti

August 23, 2012

As I’ve mentioned before I go to a Mums’n’ Bubs bootcamp (Yummy Mummys – shameless plug) for a regular arsekicking  workout with my torturer  trainer, Yazalicious.
Every week Yaz sends out an email to everyone welcoming newcomers (totally sucking them in and letting them think she’s not going to smash them mercilessly) and giving tips on health and nutrition. It’s very informative.
One week recently she suggested that everyone take a small step towards their health goals and give up just one thing.

Just one thing? How hard could that be, right?

You wouldn’t do a blanket thing like sugar, because that’s way too full on, but perhaps you could give up chocolate?
My arse.

Ice cream?
Absolutely not.

Weeeeell, maybe.

Get f*&ked. I’d rather die.

I thought about it for weeks. Yes, I really do want to lose my baby pouchy belly, but I don’t want to actually have to deprive myself of food I love!???!!!
That’s a foul thing in my mind.

I decided I really didn’t want to give up anything that I wanted to eat……and then I realised all of the things I eat that I don’t want to eat- AKA D Man’s food.
I don’t want to eat his soggy half chewed toast, or dropped pieces of pasta. I really don’t.
Nor do I want to finish his rejected meals, share his snacks or nibble his crusts.
Why do I?
Part laziness (can’t be arsed to walk to the bin), partly habit, and a large part of seefood addiction I have (not a typo – See Food and Eat It is a very real disorder).

I vowed I would give up his food. I had steely resolve. I told Yaz, because the first step is admitting the problem and telling people who care that you’ll change – AND MEANING IT.
Well, I meant it.
I was so proud of myself because I lasted one whole day.

Anyway, Yazalicious reads this blog so she knows what I eat……she said to me today,

“You’re fine to eat what you want, but for this hour YOU. ARE. MINE.”

It was kinda hot.

So as retaliation for her thinly veiled threat, I thumb my nose at her with a tribute to pig fat and carbohydrates. Bring that shizzle on, oink, oink.
She’ll totally make me pay in a pound of sweat so if you don’t hear from me, please send flowers to St George Hospital.

Yield : 4 serves

You will need :

  • 1 cured chorizo, sliced
  • 1 squid hood, scored and cut into pieces
  • 1 small spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 red capsicum, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • a handful chopped parsley
  • a packet of dried spaghetti

Salad for serving

Pop a saucepan of water on the stove for your pasta. Salt the water.

Over a low heat, place chorizo into a heavy bottomed fry pan without oil. The fat will render out and be delicious to cook our onions in. Oink.
Turn once, ensuring it has a little bit of golden colour.
Remove and place on kitchen roll to absorb any excess fat. Yaz would want it that way.

Pop your pasta into the pan. Cook as much as you think you need. I almost always make too much….you’d think I could cook pasta by now, huh?

Throw your onion into the pan and when translucent add your garlic and fennel seeds. Toss in your capsicum, tinned tomatoes and wine and simmer for 5 minutes.
Chuck in your squid, and parsley and stir for a further 5 minutes. Add about  1/3 cup of your pasta water to the pan. Toss your chorizo back in, season and throw your cooked pasta in.
Toss and serve with a big yummy green salad. I find that a salad with shaved fennel goes beautifully with this pasta.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to subscribe via email to ensure you can always keep up with the Holsbys!!

Dinner, Dinner, Food for Big People, Food for Little People

Little Balls and Mini Lamb Kofte with Hummus and Freekeh Tabouli

August 10, 2012

We tried swimming lessons for six months with varying degrees of trauma.
It would appear that although D Man loves splash-splashing in pools, shallow oceans and the bath, he is not a big fan of being submerged and released, sucking lung-fulls of water in a luke-warm pool with 10 other kids, mostly also whinging. I was more gung-ho about it than Mister H, who eventually made me realise that he was not exactly busting any world records in the 50m butterfly so perhaps we should stop and wait a year or so.

One thing my son is very adept at is ball sports.
It appears that he has cracking co-ordination (we can fairly safely say he did not get that from me!), so we enrolled him into a football, or wootbore as he calls it, based activity.

I personally cannot participate in team sports because a) I’m a spazz, and b) I’m a terrible sport. I hate losing and get the shits royally, and no one, but no one likes a bad sport. I stick to solo exercise.
Anyhoo, I was talking about my progeny’s brilliance, not my own short comings….

Our first class of Junior Kickers was certainly less than awe inspiring and I thought, as I watched these well-behaved, amenable children, that maybe this would go the way of the swimming lessons.
D Man would zone out, wander off or downright chuck a wobbly when they tried to gently coerce him into sitting on the blue mat of compliance.
I wanted this to work. I want D Man to grow up to be David Beckham without the skirt wearing or chav accent, so we had a little Backyard Wootbore Bootcamp.
We donned the uniform, did little drills, we kicked that little soccer ball and sat on my blue yoga mat until I was slightly more confident that my boy would be dazzling at his second class……and the following day at Kickers, I was the proudest mum in the world.
We’re a far cry from Beckham, but he had fun, comprehended beautifully and made his Mama beam with joy.

I made these lamb kofte for dinner that night…..and D Man hated them, but I thought they were yummy. My Turkish buddy, Semih, loves these so I don’t care what the little ball kicker thinks. D Man is a huge humus fan, though, so hummus and cheese sarnis have been a go-go for lunches this week.

Freekeh is roasted green wheat and it’s a yummy alternative to the common starches like pasta, rice or potatoes. It has butt loads of vitamins and minerals and is much higher in nutrients than mature wheat. I can’t quite nail the absorption method of fricken’ freekeh so I always end up draining off a little liquid. If you know something I don’t, lemme know, peeps. If you can’t find it, or want to cook this with pantry contents, you could substitute burghul, or cous cous or even brown rice. Just make it up as you go along……God knows, I do.

Yield : 2 adults and one toddler who didn’t eat it.

You will need :

For the kofte –

500g lamb mince
1 small onion, or 1/2  medium, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons pine nuts
salt and pepper

For the hummus –

1 tin chick peas
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoon natural Greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon cumin
juice of 1 lemon
1 large clove garlic, crushed
pinch of salt

For the freekeh salad –

2/3 cup freekeh
1/2 red capsicum, chopped into chunks
2 chopped tomatoes
1 lebanese cucumber, chopped
1/2 spanish onion, chopped
the remainder of your bunches of parsley and mint
a slug of olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper

For the koftes, place the onion into a small frying pan and cook until just translucent. Add your garlic and pine nuts and cook for two minutes.
Throw into a bowl with remaining ingredients and mix well with your hands.
Roll tablespoon fulls into small balls and cook on the BBQ or on the stove.

For the hummus, throw all of your ingredients into a food processor and add 30ml-ish of water. Blitz, test and adjust if needed.

For salad, pop your freekeh into 2 cups of boiling water with a pinch of salt and whack the lid on for 25 minutes or until tender. (Drain if you need, I do!)
Throw remaining ingredients into a bowl, add cooked freekeh and dress with oil and lemon. Season to taste.

To serve, make a smear of hummus, add a pile of salad, chuck on some balls and away you go. Eat with Lebanese bread if you so desire. I toasted some up with dukkah and olive oil.
Lip smacking good.

Dinner, Dinner, Food for Big People, Food for Little People

More for the Peasants – Sausages and French Lentils

May 5, 2012

There were many times during my childhood that we were not entirely cashed up. My Mama was a single mother but regardless of the funds situation she was always very aware of our nutrition and food. I was one of those ‘celery and cream cheese in the lunch box’ kids and although now I see it’s given me the tools to make better food choices as an adult, I was super jealous of the fun packs of Twisties other kids had. No one ever wants to swap celery and cream cheese. Now I give Dexter healthy snacks and lentils…….the apple does not fall far from the tree, it seems!

Lentils featured pretty highly on our family table, and I was always super embarrassed when Mum busted out Lentil Bolognaise for my friends. There are many tales of our school buddies coming for dinner and furrowing their brows at the plate and asking ‘What the hell is that?’. I guess not every family ate stinking lentil Bolognaise.

That said, now I have a very healthy respect for the musical fruit and we eat lentils quite regularly. They’re low fat, low GI and an awesome source protein…..not to mention versatile and tasty. I do not, however, mess with Bolognaise. Some things are sacrosanct. When you’re cooking lentils, don’t salt them until they’re tender and cooked. If you salt too early they turn into hard little bullets, and no one wants to eat bullets!

We love a sausage in my house, and the secret is a fine quality one from a good butcher. If you find a good sausage maker, hang onto them for dear life. The difference between a good sausage and an ordinary sausage is so very vast. I love a pork and fennel sauso with this meal but on this occasion I’ve used a good Italian sausage.

Yeild – 2 adult and 2 toddler serves

You will need – 

  • as many sausages as everyone wants
  • 1 cup Du Puy lentils (or just green or brown if that what you have)
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1.5 cups stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 handfuls parsley, chopped
  • a glug of good olive oil
In a heavy based saucepan, heat a little olive oil and cook your onions until they’re translucent. Add your carrot and celery and give it a little sweat. Add your lentils and stir through the vegetables. Add your stock and bay leaves, and enough boiling water to just cover the lentils. Pop a lid on your saucepan and have a cup of tea.
Check the lentils occasionally. The water will absorb, which is good, add a little more if needed – you don’t want it to be soupy though. Cook your sausages, and when your lentils are tender, turn them off, add your parsley and a glug of olive oil. Season to taste and serve it up and speak all night in a French accent.
Left over lentils are great thrown through a salad with fetta and celery hearts the next day if that floats your boat.

Dinner, Food for Little People

Chish and Fips – Good for them (but they’ll never know).

April 11, 2012

I have a word of advise for y’all. Don’t ever babysit your friend’s goldfish, especially one that’s referred to like a beloved dog.

I’m not suggesting it’s impossible to love a fish, Daryl Hannah was totally hot in Splash, but this fat, orange goldfish was no mermaid.

We had some friends that owned a fish named Pablo. They really loved that damned fish. They swore blind that Pablo responded to them, remembered them and loved them as much as they loved him. They would regale us with tales of things Pablo did, just like smitten parents.

Then they went away…….and asked us to babysit Pablo.

My cat, Pants was super curious about Pablo in his big, round, exotic looking bowl and we sent them a photo of Pants with his paws up on the table that Pablo’s aquatic home was perched on as a joke.

The Pablo was found floating one morning and although I’m certain he died of natural causes (possibly fright, almost natural, right?), the finger of doubt will always be pointed at poor, old Pants.

They took the news better than I thought they would, but I remember the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I broke in to them gently.

Although we were technically babysitting, it was a trial for possible adoption when our friends left the country in a couple of weeks.

I guess answered that question, huh?

This is a really fast throw-together meal, the only thing is, you’ll need to get your ‘chips’ in the oven in enough time to get a little crispy. I start this half an hour before dinner-time but my oven is a cracker. Basically, if you cut your potatoes into shoestrings, they don’t take long to get a little crunch. Leave the skin on your potato. There’s goodness in the skin so it’s best left where it is.

You’ve seen me use LSA (linseed, sunflower and almond meal) before. It’s a great source of Omega 3, so teamed with fish it’s positively brain food for our little peeps.

Yield : 2 toddler serves. If making for grown-ups also, just adjust amounts accordingly.

You’ll need about 2 tablespoons of LSA and one teaspoon of lemon pepper per fillet.

You will need -

  • 1 small firm fish fillet. Barramundi, salmon or even ling work well
  • 1 small potato, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons LSA
  • teaspoon of lemon zest
  • pinch of lemon pepper
  • vegetables to serve

Pop your oven onto 190C. Cut your potato into shoestrings and place on baking paper. Toss with a touch of olive oil and pop in oven for 20 minutes or until brown, turning once.

Pop your vegetables du jour in the steamer….

Cut your fish into one centimetre pieces. On a plate, toss your LSA and zest and lemon pepper together and roll your fish in it ensuring it is all well covered. Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan on a medium high heat and quickly cook them for three minutes or so each side until just cooked through and a little crispy.

Pop it all on a plate and serve with a little squeeze of lemon if your kids is into it. D Man would suck a lemon all day if permitted so he’s a fan.

If you’re making this for grown-ups, it’s really delicious when served with my quick tartare sauce.

You will need :

  •  1 tablespoon of creamy, natural yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon good quality mayonnaise
  • 1 gherkin, if you have it
  •  A few capers, chopped
  •  Salt and pepper

What to do :

Toss it all together and stir

Voila. A really quick meal that is 500 times better for you than the take-away version.



Dinner, Food for Big People

Dinner in a Flash – Five Spice Fish with Miso Broth

April 4, 2012

As much as I love casually whipping up an 8 course meal at the end of a busy day, in full make-up and evening gown, naturally, sometimes as the sun is sinking and the wee ones are off to bed the very last thing you can think of is cooking.

The very first thing you think of, however, is wine. Well, it’s been a long 8.5 months, my old friend, but soon we shall requaint. I’m certainly not anti having a glass of wine during pregnancy, but I personally cannot stomach it as the acid, oh, the acid, I experience is greater than the desire for the fruit of the vine….anyway, I digress. Pour yourself a wine, love. You’ve had a long day, and this simple little meal can be thrown together before you finish that glass and pour yourself another inch, or two….or, who’s counting anyway?

I’ve used snapper in this instance, but any white fish will work. I’ve not tried it with salmon, but to be honest, I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. I recently even fed this to D Man. He loved the miso soaked soba noodles and vegetables and devoured the fish. I didn’t let him tackle the broth, however, the floor is too far beyond this monstrous belly at present to want to clean it up! I always have white miso paste in my fridge. It’s super handy and tasty for all sorts of things – marinades, sauces, and soups – and it’s good for you. Win/win. We can chat more about miso at a later date. Oh, I can regale you with tales of miso…..

Soba noodles are a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat. They’re also another staple in my cupboard. Stick with me and I’ll dazzle you with my soba noodle salad one day, I’m sure. They can be found in the Asian aisle of your friendly supermarket, or at an Asian grocer.

For the vegetables in this, use what you have. If you don’t have what I’ve listed in the recipe, just make it up. Cabbage is good, beans are good, cauliflower would work, spring onions? Sure. This is an easy throw together meal.

So, ready for dinner? Let’s rock.

Yield : 2 adults

For fish -

  • 2 fillets white fish
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour
  • 2 pinches sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, use white if you have it. I love cooking with white pepper.
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
  • Asian fried onions to serve

For broth -

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy
  • 1 teaspoon stock powder (I use Massel Vegetable stock powder, if you want to use real stock, go forth)
  • 2 level tablespoons miso paste
  • 1 bunch of soba noodles (a packet consists of three ‘bunches’)
  • 1 chilli, chopped, if you dig chilli. If not, omit.
  • a handful of broccoli florets
  • 1 carrot, cut into sticks or whatever shape makes you happy.
  • 1 stick of celery
  • a handful of snow peas
  • a bunch of Asian greens. I like gai larn AKA Chinese broccoli. I think bok choy is boring but it’s a personal thing.
  • a handful of chopped capsicum
  • a handful of chopped coriander to serve

So, you combine the flour, salt and pepper and spice on a plate. Taste it. Does it taste balanced to you? Play with it if you need to. Flap your fish around in it until it’s coated. Pop a pot on the stove with your water in it, add garlic, stock powder, and chilli. Set that to infuse.

Get your fish pan on a medium high heat, and heat a little bit of oil. Throw your sturdy vegetables into the pot, broccoli, carrot, capsicum. Chuck your fish in the pan and keep an eye on it. Add the rest of the vegetables to soup and pop in your soba noodles. They need three minutes only to soften by which time your veges should be cooked lightly but retain a little crunch.

Turn the heat off your broth. Turn your fish, take care not to overcook it, and stir your miso paste into your soup.

Rest your fish as you spoon your broth into the bowl, place fish on top, garnish with coriander and fried onions. Pour yourself that inch.

Enjoy, my friends. This is my kind of comfort food.

Dinner, Food for Little People

Treat ‘Em Green…..5 Minute Pesto

March 25, 2012

So, for the record – I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here. I don’t propose to be Neil Perry or Kylie Kwong. What I am endeavouring to do is give food inspiration to busy and tired people. Healthy, tasty, quick. That’s the key.

Let me preface this recipe by saying I love pesto.

I don’t love it because it’s versatile, and can be stirred through mayo to dress a salad or smear on a sandwich, and I don’t love it because it keeps nicely when refrigerated or frozen. I love it because D Man loves it and it takes 5 minutes to prepare. By the time the water for the pasta has boiled my pesto is ready and we’re good to dine, in a messy green fashion. This can be dolloped onto grilled fish or chicken, or stirred through freshly boiled potatoes with a squeeze of lemon. Basically, take what’s in the fridge and fancy it up with green stuff. Works on kids and husbands.

Traditionally, pesto is basil with a few other bits thrown in for excitement, but I’ve discovered that with enough basil and parmesan you can disguise most green vegetables so it’s a brilliant way to get in some sneaky veg. Raw food is incredibly important for the human body so I often don’t bother cooking what I blitz, although if you wanted to blanch quickly, that works too. If you’re all freaky on wheat there are many alternatives available at the supermarket these days – quinoa, rice and corn is a great combo that has fabulous nutritional qualities. D Man can spot it, however, at 20 paces and gives me the Mafioso stare down if I try to feed it to him…..that said, I can do a sneaky half and half if he’s not watching. Cooking times are different though so beware of the crunchy penne dilemma and be sure to read cooking instructions.

Now, I’m writing this as a toddler meal, but on busy weeknights I’ve most certainly been known to buy some good quality spinach and ricotta ravioli and crisp up some pancetta and serve this to us tall people for dinner. It’s seriously so fast and easy….and most importantly, yummy.

NOTE : If basil is too expensive or strong tasting for your bub, you can substitute parsley. The added bonus of this is a monster iron hit, too.

Time : 5 minutes

Yeild : 4 toddler serves or 2 adult and 1 toddler serve

Can be frozen in portions in freezer for a couple of weeks. Then it’s even easier than easy!

  • 2 big handfuls fresh, yummy basil
  • 1 handful or rocket or baby spinach
  • 50g good quality parmesan
  • 30g nuts – pine nuts, almonds and walnuts work for me
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Small handful of choice of veg – sugar snap peas, broccoli, zucchini combo
  • 90ml good olive oil
  • Penne to serve

Place all ingredients into a mini food processor, or blender or container to blitz with hand held Kitchen Wizz thing. Basically, smoosh it all together until it forms a paste. You want it to be luscious, not gluggy so add a little water, if needed, until it’s like a thick sauce.

Meanwhile, boil your pasta. At the last minute I also throw into my pasta water some cubed carrots and cauliflower as this gets devoured when green.

Drain pasta, add a couple of spoons of pesto and serve. You can also add tinned tuna, cooked chicken, cherry tomatoes or whatever you have for variety on the theme.