Avocado on toast

A good breakfast doesn’t need to be complicated. With the right herbs and spices, a simple avocado smash with some fried mushrooms can be a cheap alternative to going out for breakfast. Here I’ve fried the mushrooms in olive oil, garlic, Italian spices, oregano and a good sprinkle of salt/pepper. Add a little water if the mushrooms are burning. For the avocado, add a little olive oil and salt/pepper for extra flavour.

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Fettuccine with pesto, potato & green beans

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The start of summer means the start of homemade basil pesto. Homemade pesto is a million times better than anything you will buy in the stores and is not very hard. I always make pesto with a mortar and pestle. It allows me to control the consistency and I like being able to see it all come together right in front of your eyes rather than whizzing everything in a blender. This recipe, like many others, is straight Italian Food Safari (Lucio Galletto) and adding potatoes and green beans is a nice variation to traditional basil pesto dishes.

Fried rice

Mastering rice without a rice cooker is somewhat difficult. This dish is a combination of Thai & Indonesian Fried Rice as I didn’t have all the ingredients for either. For me, that’s what cooking is all about. Experimenting and taking bits of pieces from various dishes to make your own. You’ll be surprised with what you can create without following a recipe exactly and often it will even be better than what you were meant to make.

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Lime & lemongrass chicken

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This is a great dish if you are keen to make a curry paste from scratch. There are only a few key ingredients and there isn’t much to putting it together. It’s quick and relatively straight forward. Like all chicken dishes, simmer until the chicken is cooked through and not for how long it says in the recipe. The quicker you cook the chicken, the tougher it will be so be patient.

Minestrone

The classic Italian soup and perfect for the winter months. I like to fry some pancetta first with an onion and garlic before adding the diced vegetables. Mix up your vegetables for variations. I always add cabbage towards the end for a few minutes along with a little bit of pasta. Be careful and don’t add too much pasta as it will expand and ruin the soup. If you have some parmesan cheese rind, throw that in whilst cooking. Italian’s don’t like to waste anything.

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Seafood paella

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Paella is something I have been meaning to try for a while. You simple fry an onion with some capsicum, add the rice and then all the seafood together with the stock and let it simmer for 45 minutes until cooked. Make sure you push the seafood into the rice so it cooks evenly. It couldn’t be easier. This one has a prawns, pippies, mussels, blue-eye cod and calamari. We substituted paprika for saffron. This goes against traditional recipes however it still gave the dish a slight red glow.

Butter chicken with mint yoghurt

Butter chicken has to be my favourite Indian cuisine. Rarely I make pastes from scratch but did on this occasion and it was surprisingly easy. For the tandoori paste, place all the spices in a bowl… add yoghurt and lime juice and you’re done. There is not much to make this. Coat the chicken with the paste, brown for 5 minutes each side, and then simmer with yoghurt and chicken stock (not coconut milk).

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Mixed mushroom risotto

I love cooking risotto because there are so many variations. This mix includes button, swiss and porcini mushrooms. Take your time with risotto, the slower it simmers, the better it tastes. Place your dried porcini mushrooms in boiling water to bring them back to life and use the liquid to cook the risotto along with your stock. Be careful with how much porcini liquid you use as it be quite over powering.

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Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with fresh parsley to serve.

Mussels from Brussels

Change of scenery when Belgian flavours took over my kitchen and palate thanks to a special guest appearance from a wonderful Belgian chef. The beauty of this dish is that you have two meals in one. The mussels were delicious as always, however, they were cooked in a vegetable broth that compliments them very well. We simmered the broth for 45 minutes with a mixture of shallots, onions, celery, leeks and carrots. Use your imagination to create your own flavours.

mussels from brussels!

Belgium’s best kept secret is best served with “frites”. Homemade of course. Use different types of potatoes to mix things up.

Bon appetit!