Veal osso buco with saffron risotto

Osso buco is one of my favourite Italian dishes. It simply melts in your mouth but you have to be patient and slow cook it for hours. This one is veal which I believe is better than beef. It was slowed cooked for about 3 hours or so on a stove top with homemade passata and chicken stock. The saffron risotto compliments this dish nicely, it’s expensive but well worth it.IMG_5304

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.

Garlic Prawn Pasta

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This pasta dish is a Donna Hay recipe and is super quick and simple. The best part is you cook with spaghetti and the prawns cook whilst the spaghetti cooks so it’s basically ready in about 10 minutes. The worst part is peeling the prawns but hopefully you have somebody to delegate that too. I’ve made this a couple of times and it can be dry if you cook too much spaghetti so have extra olive oil or lemon juice at the ready.

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.

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.

Stuffed baby eggplants

These bite-sized baby eggplants are a great idea for starters when entertaining friends. The stuffing is garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley, parmesan cheese and an egg plus the insides of the eggplants that have been lightly fried in olive oil. Top with extra parmesan and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

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Kohlrabi

Cooking for me is about learning and experimenting with new ingredients, flavours and combinations. Sometimes this means getting inspiration from others, following recipes or sometimes going with my own ideas. When I saw this vegetable I didn’t even know what it but was curious as to what was underneath it’s purple and funny looking skin. It is actually a German turnip or cabbage and can be eaten raw or cooked. I baked it with truffle oil like any other hard vegetable. Without giving away the taste, I can say I will be buying this again.

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Take a chance in the kitchen and buy something you’ve never had before. You’ll be surprised at what you can find in your local fresh food shops. Happy 2015 everyone!

Squid ink risotto

In 2007 I was in Genoa and tasted squid ink spaghetti for the first time on a strong recommendation from my local hosts. Ever since I have always been curious about it, ordering it at every possibility. People think the ink will make the risotto super-fishy but that is not the case. Visually, this is special as no other dish is completely black and there is something mysterious about eating risotto with ink.
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Like all Italian dishes, minimal ingredients, an onion, garlic, chilli (optional) and squid. We substituted fish stock for chicken stock and cooked the squid separately with a splash of lemon, adding it to the risotto with about 5 minutes before it was ready. Serve immediately and garnish with fresh parsley.

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!