Wednesday, July 18, 2012

chocolate tim tam hedgehog*

serves 10 – 12

Tim Tams are THE best chocolate biscuits (cookies) in Australia, and possibly the world. If you can’t get access to Tim Tams, substitute in your favourite chocolate biscuit or even something plain like a digestive.

100g (3 1/2oz) butter

100g (3 1/2oz) dark chocolate

1 packet Tim Tams (200g / 7oz)

Line a 24cm x 12 cm (approx 9 1/2in x 5in) loaf pan with baking paper or foil.

Place butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat until only just melted. If it starts to sizzle it will be too hot - so allow it to cool down before proceeding.

Break chocolate into small pieces and add to the butter. Allow to stand for a few minutes and then stir until chocolate is melted though. It may need another quick turn on the heat to get the chocolate to melt.

Cut Tim Tams into chunks about the size of a dice. Stir through chocolate mixture and scrape everything into the prepared tin.

Smooth the top and refrigerate until set - about 30 minutes or so.

*note: This recipe needs longer than 10 minutes before you can serve. The active cooking time is only 10 minutes though so I’ve let it sneak in.

pan fried salmon with broccolini & seared lemon

serves 4

Broccolini is like a baby version of broccoli. The stems are lovely and tender, a little like a cross between asparagus and broccoli and just bursting with green goodness. Regular broccoli or asparagus would also work well.

The secret to this dish is cooking the lemons with the fish. The heat caramelised the surface and helps to release the juices leaving you with an instant sauce to squeeze over your fish.

3 bunches broccolini (or 2 heads broccoli)

juice and zest of 1 lemon

4 salmon fillets, (approx 200g / 7oz) each

4 lemon halves, extra

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Cook broccolini for 3 - 4 minutes or until just tender. Drain and toss

through lemon juice, zest and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Season and keep warm.

Preheat a large frying pan or BBQ to medium high. Rub salmon generously with extra olive oil and season well.

Cook salmon skin side down for 3 - 4 minutes. Turn and add lemon halves to the pan cut side down. Sear on the other side for another 3 - 4 minutes or until cooked to your liking.

Divide broccolini between four plates. Top each with a piece of salmon and serve with lemon halves on the side.

Minimalist pesto

This method is minimalist in that it doesn’t need any special equipment like a food processor. If you do have a food processor or a mortar and pestle by all means use them.

Brilliant on sandwiches or dolluped in soups. Very good mates with anything tomatoey. Also lovely with avocado on toast. Drizzle with some more oil and keep in the fridge for up to a week.

1 large bunch basil, leaves picked

1 clove garlic, peeled & finely chopped

1 handful pinenuts

2 large handfuls grated parmesan

extra virgin olive oil

Wash and dry your basil then place in a clean plastic bag. Pound with your fist or a meat mallet until the leaves are bruised – this help release the basil aroma and makes it easer to chop in the next step.

Place bruised basil, garlic and pinenuts on a large chopping board.

Chop and keep on chopping until everything is finely chopped and starting to look like gremolata. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir through enough olive oil to make a rough paste.

Stir through cheese. Taste and season.

pea & pasta soup with bacon

This is my take on the classic ham and pea soup.

Frozen peas are a life saver when you’re in the mood for something green and the larder is empty. Peas are one of those vegetables that start to lose their natural sweetness and flavour as soon as they are picked so unless you have access to peas straight from the plant, frozen will generally taste better.

I’ve used bacon instead of ham and served it in chunks on top but you could skip the bacon and use vegetable stock if you wanted a vegetarian soup.

4 rashers bacon

4 cups chicken stock

1/2 packet frozen peas (250g or 1/2lb)

200g or 7oz macaroni or other small pasta

1/2 bunch chives, chopped, optional

Cook bacon under a broiler or overhead grill until brown and crispy.

Meanwhile bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Add peas and pasta and boil for about 8 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.

Stir through chives, if using. Taste and season.

Serve soup topped with bacon pieces.

crostini with buffalo mozzarella, peppers & basil

serves 4 as a starter

The success of this starter is all in the cheese. If you can’t find the freshest buffalo mozzarella, don’t be tempted to use stringy, ordinary mozzarella or boccincini. The best substitute would be a fresh goats cheese or even some humble ricotta.

You can roast the peppers yourself, but I find that the jars of pre-prepared roast peppers or capsicum are perfectly fine if you’re short of time.

8 thin slices baguette

1 large ball bufffalo mozzarella, torn into chunks

roasted & peeled red pepper (capsicum), finely sliced

a few fresh basil leaves

Toast baguette slices lightly on one side.

Layer each round with mozzarella chunks, top with a few slices of pepper (capsicum) and a basil leaf or two.

crostini with smoked salmon & sour cream

serves 4 as a starter

This is one of those effortless starters that feels a little bit special but can be made in a flash from ingredients from your supermarket.

If you don’t have access to capers, chopped chives or parsley would work well. It’s more about getting some visual greenery and freshness.

Baguettes are lovely for crostini but I’ve also used crackers or larger slices of sourdough cut into small, bite sized pieces.

8 thin slices baguette

100g (3 oz) smoked salmon, sliced

sour cream


lemon cheeks, to serve

Toast baguette slices lightly on one side.

Layer each round with smoked salmon, top with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with a few capers and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Warm butter beans with rosemary & garlic

serves 4 as a starter

You can either serve this as bruschetta with the beans dished up on toast

that has been rubbed with the cut side of a clove of garlic. Alternatively,

serve the beans in the middle of the table with bread on the side so your

guests can help themselves.

I’ve made this with cannellini beans and butter beans and I have a slight

preference for the slightly larger, firmer butter beans. Borlotti beans would

also work well as would chickpeas.

1 can butter beans (400g /14oz), drained

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled & finely sliced

2 small sprigs rosemary, leaves picked

pinch chilli flakes, optional

Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat and add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add remaining ingredients and stir fry beans until they are golden and warmed through.

Season well and serve with a drizzle of peppery extra virgin olive oil.

Rainbow Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

Adapted from A Spoonful of Ginger by Nina Simonds

Makes 6 servings


14 ounces firm tofu, cut into ½ inch slabs

½ pound whole wheat spaghetti

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 cups grated carrots

1½ cups grated cucumbers, seeds and skin removed

1½ cups grated red cabbage

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced into thin strips

1 yellow pepper, cored seeded, and sliced into thin strips


2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

½ tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon hot chili paste, or more to taste

½ cup smooth peanut butter

¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

¼ cup water


1. Wrap the tofu slabs in paper towels or a cotton towel and place a heavy weight, such as a cast-iron skillet, on top. Let stand for 30 minutes to press out the excess water, then cut the tofu into matchstick-size shreds about 2 inches long.

2. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil, add the spaghetti, and cook until just tender. Drain in a colander, toss with the sesame oil, and arrange on a platter.

3. Arrange the carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts, red and yellow pepper strips, and tofu in mounds or separate concentric circles on the serving platter with the noodles.

4. To prepare the Spicy Peanut Dressing: In a food processor fitted with a steel blade or a blender, chop the ginger and garlic until fine. Add the remaining ingredients in descending order, ending with the water. Process until smooth. The sauce should have the consistency of heavy cream. If it is too thick, add more water; if too thin, add more peanut butter. Pour the sauce into a serving container, and offer the vegetables and sauce to each diner to mix as desired.

Per Serving: Calories 430; Total Fat 21 g; Sat Fat 3.5 g; Protein 18 g; Carbs 46 g; Fiber 9 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 530 mg.

Spicy Garlic Broccoli with Pine Nuts

Adapted from A Spoonful of Ginger by Nina Simonds

Makes 6 servings


1½ pounds broccoli

¼ cup pine nuts

1½ teaspoons canola or corn oil

1½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon hot chili paste or ¾ teaspoon crushed dried chilies

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2½ tablespoons rice wine or sake, mixed with 2 tablespoons water


1 tablespoon reduced sodium-soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar


1. Trim the ends of the broccoli, separate the florets, peel the outer skin of the stem and cut it on the diagonal into 1-inch lengths.

2. Toast the pine nuts until golden in a 300°F oven, turning them occasionally so that they cook evenly for about 20 minutes.

3. Heat a wok or large skillet, add the oils, and heat until hot, about 20 seconds. Add the chili paste or crushed chilies and garlic, and stir-fry, tossing with a slotted spoon over medium heat until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Turn the heat to high.

4. Add the stem sections of the broccoli and stir-fry. Pour in the rice wine and water and cook, tossing, about 30 seconds, then cover and cook about 1½ to 2 minutes, until the stems are just tender. Add the florets and toss over high heat, cooking for about 1½ minutes or until just tender.

5. Add the premixed sauce and toss lightly for 15 seconds. Add the toasted pine nuts and stir-fry a few seconds to combine the ingredients. Scoop the ingredients into a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Per Serving: Calories 90; Total Fat 6 g; Sat Fat 1 g; Protein 4 g; Carbs 8 g; Fiber 4 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 125 mg.

Hot & Sour Salmon with Greens

Adapted from A Spoonful of Ginger by Nina Simonds

Makes 6 servings


2½ pounds baby bok choy or bok choy, stem ends and leaf

tips trimmed

8 whole scallions, ends trimmed, cut into thin slices

on the diagonal

¼ cup fresh ginger cut into very thin julienne shreds

6 salmon steaks, about 6 ounces each

3 cups cooked brown rice


3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon minced garlic


1. Trim the tough outer leaves from the bok choy and discard. Rinse the stalks and leaves and drain. Cut the stalks in half lengthwise. Cut the halves diagonally into 2-inch sections. In a bowl, toss the scallions and ginger with the bok choy sections. Arrange on a heatproof platter.

2. Mix the ingredients of the dressing and pour into a serving bowl.

3. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the salmon steaks on top of the greens. Pour into a roasting pan several inches of water and heat until boiling. Carefully place the platter of salmon and vegetables on top of a rack or steamer tray in the roasting pan. Cover the top of the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Bake 7 to 9 minutes, or until the fish is cooked.

4. Serve the salmon from the heat-proof platter or arrange the steamed vegetables and salmon on serving plates. Spoon the dressing on top and serve with brown rice.

Per Serving: Calories 430; Total Fat 14 g; Sat Fat 2 g; Protein 44 g; Carbs 32 g; Fiber 4 g; Cholesterol 105 mg; Sodium 480 mg.

Oven-Roasted Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Adapted from Fresh and Fast Vegetarian by Marie Simmons

Makes 4 servings


4 large Portobello mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed and reserved

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup chopped onion

1 cup coarse bread crumbs from lightly toasted whole wheat bread

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 tablespoons oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained, blotted dry, and chopped

1 garlic clove, grated

¼ teaspoon coarse salt

Freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Finely chop the mushroom stems.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium skillet until it is hot enough to sizzle a piece of onion. Add the onion and chopped mushroom stems and cook, stirring, over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the bread crumbs, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic and cook, stirring, until the crumbs are heated through, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

3. Brush the tops and bottoms of the mushroom caps with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle on both sides with a pinch salt and a grinding of black pepper. Place on a baking sheet, rounded sides up, add ¼ cup water and roast for 10 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the oven. Turn the caps over, fill with the crumb mixture, dividing it evenly, and roast until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes more. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Per Serving: Calories 190; Total Fat 15 g; Sat Fat 2 g; Protein 3 g; Carbs 12 g; Fiber 2 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 200 mg.

Curried Lentils with Walnuts, Spinach & Cherry Tomatoes

Adapted from Fresh and Fast Vegetarian by Marie Simmons

Makes 4 servings


1 cup brown lentils

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 garlic clove, grated

2 bags (5–6 ounces each) baby spinach (8–10 cups packed), rinsed and drained

1 cup small cherry or grape tomatoes, stems removed

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup plain yogurt


1. Bring a medium saucepan half full of water to a boil. Add the lentils and cook, uncovered, until tender but not mushy, 18 to 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet until hot enough to sizzle a piece of onion. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the cooked lentils, spinach, tomatoes and mint and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat the walnuts in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring, until toasted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the walnuts over the lentils and serve with the yogurt to spoon over the top.

Per Serving: Calories 400; Total Fat 17 g; Sat Fat 2 g; Protein 18 g; Carbs 47 g; Fiber 20 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 150 mg.

Shredded Tuscan Kale, Tomato & Avocado Salad

Adapted from Fresh and Fast Vegetarian by Marie Simmons

Makes 4 servings


1 small bunch (about 10 ounces) Tuscan kale,* washed and dried

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon coarse salt


1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice

1 ripe tomato, cut into ¼-inch dice with seeds and juice

½ cup diced (¼ inch) red onion

1 teaspoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper, plus more to taste

1 small garlic clove, grated

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon coarse salt

¼ cup unsalted roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or roasted sunflower seeds


1. To prepare the kale, cut along both sides of the stem of each leaf with a sharp knife or pull the ruffled leaves away from the stems with your hands. Discard the stems. Gather a bunch of the long kale leaves together on the cutting board and slice into thin (¹⁄8-inch) crosswise slices. You should have 4 to 6 cups lightly packed.

2. Combine the kale, lime juice, oil, and salt in a large bowl. Rub the ingredients together with your hands (as though giving the kale a massage) until the leaves wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.

3. To make the salsa: Combine the avocado, tomato, red onion, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice, oil, and salt and stir to blend.

4. Add the salsa to the kale and toss to combine. Sprinkle the salad with the pepitas. Serve at room temperature.

Per Serving: Calories 240; Total Fat 19 g; Sat Fat 3 g; Protein 6 g; Carbs 16 g; Fiber 6 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 220 mg.

*Tuscan kale is also known as lacinato kale, black kale, and dinosaur kale.

Carrot, Sweet Potato & Ginger Soup

Adapted from Fresh and Fast Vegetarian by Marie Simmons

Makes about 10 cups


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound carrots, cut into ½-inch slices

1 pound sweet potatoes, scrubbed, skins left on, cut into ½-inch cubes

1 bunch scallions (white and green parts), sliced

½ cup chopped celery

1 garlic clove, grated

1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger

1 teaspoon coarse salt

4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper, or to taste

6 ounces baby bok choy, stem ends trimmed, cut into ½-inch slices


1. Heat the oil in a soup pot until it is hot enough to sizzle a piece of vegetable. Add the carrots, sweet potatoes, scallions, celery, garlic, ginger, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat until lightly browned and softened, about 10 minutes. Add 6 cups water and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

2. Ladle out about 2 cups of the solid vegetables and set aside. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot. If you don’t have an immersion blender, let the soup cool slightly, transfer it to a blender or food processor, in batches if necessary, and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pot.

3. Add the reserved vegetables, lime juice, and jalapeño. Bring the soup to a boil. Stir in the bok choy and cook for 30 seconds. Taste and season with up 1/2 teaspoon salt. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro.

Per Serving (1 cup): Calories 90; Total Fat 3 g; Sat Fat 0 g; Protein 2 g; Carbs 15 g; Fiber 3 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 270 mg.

Yogurt Panna Cotta with Cranberry Pear Sauce

by Kate Sherwood

Makes 8 servings


1 cup low-fat (1%) milk

¼ cup sugar

1 envelope plain powdered gelatin

2 tablespoons cold water

1 large container (16-18 ounces) fat-free Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 recipe cranberry pear sauce (see below)


1. In a large saucepan, heat the milk with the sugar over

low heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved,

about 3 minutes. Remove fromt he heat.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the gelatin with the water and let stand for 2 minutes.

3. Whisk the gelatin into the warm milk and let cool.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt and vanilla extract. Whisk in the milk.

5. Pour 1/ 3 cup of the mixture into each of 8 serving glasses.

6. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Serve with the cranberry pear sauce.


1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

2 ripe pears, pealed, cored and diced

¼ cup sugar

1 cup water


1. Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Transfer to a heat-proof bowl and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Per Serving: Calories 120; Total Fat 0 g; Sat Fat 0 g; Protein 7 g; Carbs 32 g; Fiber 2 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 40 mg.

*Frozen vanilla yogurt can be substituted for the panna cotta recipe (as pictured).

Pearl Barley with Spinach Pesto

by Kate Sherwood

Makes 8 servings


1½ cups pearl barley

1 clove garlic

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

½ cup grated parmesan

4 cups baby spinach

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup edamame


1. Boil the barley in plenty of water until al dente (chewy but not raw in the center), about 30 minutes. While the barley is cooking, make the pesto.

2. Pulse the garlic, pine nuts, cheese, spinach, oil, salt and pepper in a food processor until finely chopped.

3. Reserve ½ cup cooking water.

4. Toss the edamame into the pot with the barley then drain and return them to pot.

5. Stir ¼ cup of cooking water into the pesto.

6. Stir the pesto into the barley and edamame. Add more water if needed to loosen.

Per Serving: Calories 260; Total Fat 12 g; Sat Fat 2.5 g; Protein 7 g; Carbs 32 g; Fiber 6 g; Cholesterol 5 mg; Sodium 280 mg.