Just falafs

[Recipe 1] ROAST EGGPLANT, FARRO and CHICKPEA LAYERED SALAD with TAHINI SAUCE transforms into
[Recipe 2] FALAFEL with FARRO and CHICKPEAS

Happy New Year! We’ve popped out the other side of the silly season feeling pretty darn relaxed, having recently returned from a cracker of a holiday in beautiful Apollo Bay with friends.
How’s the weather?! My heart goes out to Northern hemisphere relatives and readers, suffering through their bone-chilling cold snap. Melbourne is facing the opposite extreme, with the mercury hovering around 43°C (109°F) all week. YUK! We’re on school holidays and have been hitting the local beach daily, straight after breakfast, to loll in the water for an hour or two before heading home for crafting, movies and reading with the curtains drawn.
Dinner for us during a heat-wave is a no-brainer – salad! I whipped up this Roast eggplant (aubergine), farro and chickpea layered salad to take to a potluck dinner a while ago. The top layer is the classic Middle Eastern combination of roast eggplant, fresh cherry tomatoes, parsley and creamy tahini sauce; nestled on a bed of chickpeas and nutty faro. Delicious! Loving farro at the moment. We’re bored with quinoa; and have been alternating between farro and freekeh. Both are absolutely bursting with nutrients. Farro (AKA emmer, the Hebrew word for mother) is an ancient variety of wheat, not dissimilar in flavour to barley, with more protein than brown rice. My salad features cracked farro as it’s easier to cook and less chewy than full-grain.
Regular readers will know that this blog is about preparing two meals from one; so half the farro salad (minus the top vegetable layer) is set aside to be put to use in falafel. I’ve always added grain to my falafel, usually burghul (bulger) and most recently freekeh; and farro is equally delicious. By making use of the reserved salad components, the falafel groundwork is done; namely the chickpea and farro preparation, onion slicing and parsley chopping. The mixture is simply tipped into your food processor with 4 extra ingredients, rolled into balls, fried, and voila! Lovely moist falafel with a crispy coating; on your table in no time.
Notes: I bought a falafel scoop recently and was all set to extol the virtues of it in this post, but on my second test and tweak of these recipes I hand-rolled the falafel and have decided I prefer less-uniform, homely little balls, as do my boys.
Pickled turnips are a must with falafel. They cut through the creaminess of the tahini sauce adding a lovely burst of zing. Michelle’s recipe is great (I posted a picture of mine, using Michelle’s recipe, here); but you can buy them at your local Middle Eastern takeaway if you’re pushed for time.
Footnote: So thrilled to have this salad shared on thekitchn as part of their farro feature post! Thanks so much.

Farro, eggplant and chickpea saladFarro and chickpea salad with tahini sauce[Recipe 1] Roast eggplant, farro and chickpea layered salad with tahini sauce

Ingredients (serves 8 people for 2 meals; ie salad for 8 plus falafel for 8):
250g (9 oz) dried chickpeas (garbanzos), soaked overnight (or canned, see notes)
2½ cups (500g) cracked farro

1 large red (purple/Spanish) onion, quartered and very thinly sliced
3 cups chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for scattering
Note: you’ll be reserving half of the above ingredients for the falafel

1 lemon, juiced (approx. ¼ cup juice) 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly-cracked black pepper
2 medium eggplants (aubergines), thickly sliced
Salt, extra, for sprinkling on eggplant

2 tablespoons olive oil, for brushing on eggplant
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Double quantity tahini sauce (you’ll be reserving a portion to serve with the falafel)

Drain soaked chickpeas, place into a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 40–50 minutes until just tender. Take care not to overcook them as they should retain a bit of bite. Drain again and place in a large bowl.
Meanwhile, place the farro in a large saucepan of water, bring to the boil and simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Drain, rinse and drain again; pushing down with the back of a fork to extract excess water. Spread cooked farro out on a tray to dry for ten minutes. Add to the chickpeas. Allow to cool, then stir through the red onion and parsley.
♦ Reserve ½ of the undressed chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley (about 6 cups) for the Falafel with farro and chickpeas.
Place lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and salt in a screw-top jar and shake well until combined. Drizzle over the remaining chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley; add pepper, and toss gently. Arrange on a large platter.
To prepare eggplant, preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Season eggplant slices with the extra salt. Set aside for ten minutes. Rinse slices with water, pat dry with a clean tea towel and brush with olive oil. Place on a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast for 30 minutes. Chop roughly and arrange on top of the dressed chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley; followed by the chopped tomatoes. Drizzle with tahini sauce, and scatter with extra parsley.
♦ Return any unused tahini sauce to the fridge for serving with the the Falafel with farro and chickpeas.

  • Components for salad can be prepared a day ahead. Farro, chickpeas, red onion and parsley can be mixed together (remember to decant half this mixture and set aside for the falafel). Lemon dressing, tahini sauce and roasted eggplants should be stored in separate containers in the fridge. A couple of hours before serving the salad, stir through lemon dressing and arrange eggplant chunks and halved tomatoes on top. Drizzle tahini sauce and scatter extra parsley over the salad at the table.
  • 250g (9 oz) dried chickpeas (garbanzos) yields approximately 3 cups cooked chickpeas. You can replace the cooked chickpeas in this recipe with 2 x 400g (15 oz) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed.
    Note: 1 x 400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, yields 1½ cups cooked chickpeas.
  • Cracked farro is available in specialty food stores, Mediterranean grocers and health food stores. In Australia, it can be purchased online from Mount Zero and Oasis. If unavailable, replace with pearled farro and increase cooking time to 30 minutes.
  • Reserved undressed chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley (for falafel) can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Leftover salad is great for lunch!

Falafel with farro and chickpeas

[Recipe 2] Falafel with farro and chickpeas

Ingredients (serves 6–8):
♦ 
6 cups reserved undressed chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt

½ cup besan flour
Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
To serve:
♦ Reserved tahini sauce
Pickled turnip, store-bought (or try Michelle’s easy recipe)
Tomato and cucumber salad
4 pita or lavash breads, store-bought (or try Sawsan’s fabulous pita recipe)

♦ Place reserved undressed chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley into food processor. Add garlic, cumin, salt and flour. Process until mixture starts to round over, forming a ball. Add a little more flour if mixture appears too wet. Take care not to over-mix; a bit of texture is good.
If your processor is too small to handle the full quantity of mixture; process in 2 batches with 3 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ cup besan flour in each. Refrigerate mixture for at least 1 hour, then use your hands to roll approximately 48 walnut-sized balls.
Pour oil into a deep-sided frying pan, to a height of about 1cm and heat. Test whether the oil is ready by dropping a few breadcrumbs in the pan. They should sizzle as soon as they hit the oil. Cook falafel in batches, for 3 minutes each side, until dark golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Spread each pita or lavash bread with tahini sauce, scatter with pickled turnip and follow with tomato and cucumber salad. Top with 4 or 5 falafel. Roll up and enjoy!

  • Yield: If hand-rolling, you’ll end up with 48 walnut-sized balls. With a falafel scoop, mixture will yield 24 flat falafal. 
  • Fussy kid tip: Children may prefer shredded lettuce, plain Greek yogurt and grated carrot with their falafel. Kid-friendly hummus and Beetroot hummus are also lovely accompaniments.
  • Pickled turnip is available at Middle Eastern grocery stores. You may find your local Middle Eastern takeaway will sell you a small container (thanks Manakish)! 
  • Besan flour (or gram flour) is made from ground chickpeas (garbanzos) and is available at Middle Eastern grocery stores, Indian and Pakistani grocers and select health food stores. It can be used in veggie burgers, rice balls and pakoras; is gluten-free, high in protein and much tastier than plain flour.
  • Leftover falafel can be eaten cold the next day, or lightly warmed in a hot oven, covered with foil. Don’t be tempted to microwave them as they’ll very unattractively fall apart!

Poultry in motion

[Recipe 1] CHICKEN, ALMOND and ZUCCHINI PATTIES transform into
[Recipe 2] CHICKEN MEATBALL and NOODLE SOUP

I think I’ll launch head-first into the recipes this week. I’m absolutely pooped, and for once my brain is empty of chit-chat. Did I mention we have a newish cat, Moe (named after Moe from the Three Stooges)? We rescued him from the Greensborough Cat Protection Society, and he’s lovely. He’s such a good sport with our boys, tolerating endless tummy rubs and being wheeled around in home-made carts. The only negative about him is his daily 5.30am loud wakeup miaowing. Ouch. Although I would kill for an extra 90 minutes slumber, I’ve turned this ritual into a positive. The rest of the house manages to sleep ’til 7am, giving me a blissful 1½ hours of ‘me time’ every morning to blog and cruise Pinterest with a warm cat on my lap. I’m doing just that, as we speak!
Wow, I still managed some chit-chat, even in my sleep-deprived state. Now, onto the recipes… this week I’m sharing two fab chicken dishes. First up is Chicken, almond and zucchini patties. These are super easy to make, cheap and cheerful, and my boys love them. By making a large batch of the chicken mince mixture, you can set some aside and make chicken meatballs to use in a lip-smacking Chicken meatball and noodle soup for a second meal.
A word of warning – my 6-year old was quite freaked out by the ‘weird white balls’ in the soup, so the second time I tested the recipe I browned the balls before plunging them into the hot stock, and he was quite satisfied. You can choose your method, but cooking the raw meatballs in the stock is quicker, and more authentic. The husband and I prefer them done this way as the flavour is more delicate, but you may find that your kids will be happier with ‘proper brown balls’.
Ciao for now. Moe is hollering for his breakfast and I need a second coffee. Have a lovely week. xx

Moe-the-cat!Chook, zucchini almond patties[Recipe 1] Chicken, almond and zucchini patties

Ingredients (serves 4 for 3 meals; ie. 2 batches of patties and 1 batch of meatballs):
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
1 leek, white part only, halved lengthwise, cut into long strips and sliced finely
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1½ kilos (3 lb) minced (ground) chicken
3cm (1¼”) piece ginger, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons very finely-chopped lemongrass stalk, white part only
3 medium zucchini (500g/1 lb), grated, squeezed to remove excess liquid
250g (9 oz) almond meal
3 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon sea salt
Peanut or vegetable oil, extra, for frying patties
To serve with patties:
Sweet chilli sauce
Green beans with toasted pine nuts

Heat oil in a small saucepan and fry the leek and garlic over a medium heat for 3 minutes. Process cooked leek, 500g (1 lb) of the chicken mince, ginger, lemongrass, zucchini, almond meal, eggs and salt until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl, add the remaining chicken mince and mix well.
Divide mixture into three portions of approx. 800g (1¾ lb) each.
Shape 2 portions into 8 patties each (total of 16 patties). Reserve one portion of 8 patties for tonight’s dinner. Freeze the other portion of 8 patties for another meal.
Roll the third portion of chicken mince into about 36 walnut-sized balls, with lightly-floured hands (use gluten-free flour if required).
♦ Reserve the chicken meatballs for the Chicken meatball noodle soup.
Note: The mixture is quite soft and sticky, but it firms up nicely when cooked; and makes for lovely light-textured patties and meatballs.
For tonight’s patties, heat extra oil in a large non-stick frying pan and cook patties on a low–medium heat for 6–8 minutes each side, until golden brown and cooked through.
Serve patties with sweet chilli sauce and green beans with toasted pine-nuts.

  • Uncooked chicken patties and chicken meatballs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge. Pat dry with kitchen paper before using, to soak up excess moisture.
  • This recipe makes two batches of patties, and one batch of meatballs. You could of course choose to make 3 batches of patties or meatballs instead!
  • For a change, the patties can be served in soft rolls with chilli slaw or sliced avocado and mayo.
  • Grated lemongrass can be purchased frozen from Asian stores. I keep a large block in my freezer and hack off a chunk when required.

Chicken meatball noodle soup

[Recipe 2] Chicken meatball and noodle soup

Ingredients (serves 6, leftovers are great for lunch):
200g (7 oz) thin fresh egg noodles
2 litres chicken stock, home-made or store-bought
1–2 tablespoons fish sauce (to taste)
4 star anise
4 kaffir lime leaves
2 teaspoons sesame oil
♦ 800g (1¾ lb) portion reserved chicken meatballs
1 bunch bok choy (or choy sum), leaves only, very finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), to serve
3 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced, to serve

Place noodles in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water and set aside for 5 minutes to soften. Drain. Divide noodles amongst 6 deep serving bowls (or 4 bowls and 2 plastic containers if you’re saving 2 portions for the following day’s lunch).
Place stock in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add fish sauce, star anise, kaffir lime leaves and sesame oil. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 5 minutes, covered.
Carefully place half the reserved raw meatballs into the hot stock. Simmer gently for 6–8 minutes, until cooked through.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked meatballs to 3 of the serving bowls. Repeat with remaining meatballs.
Note: if liked, meatballs can be browned in a lightly-oiled frying pan before adding to the stock. See my notes in the introduction.
Remove and discard star anise and lime leaves.
Add bok choy to the stock and simmer for a further 2–3 minutes. Season to taste – if you’ve used store-bought stock, it may be salty enough.
Ladle hot stock over the noodles and meatballs, and serve with scattered coriander and chopped spring onions.

  • Dried star anise is available from the spice section of supermarkets, and Asian food stores.
  • Kaffir lime leaves can be purchased fresh or frozen from Asian stores. 
  • 1 small red birdseye chilli, finely sliced, can be added to adult serves.

Mash hits

[Recipe 1] SWEET POTATO and TUNA CROQUETTES with GREEN GODDESS SAUCE transform into
[Recipe 2] MINI SHEPHERD’S PIES with SWEET POTATO TOPPING
……………..

I’m sitting here, mug of hot cocoa in hand, blogging and Pinteresting to my heart’s content. The lovely husband is away on his annual man’s weekend. This years’ theme was Japanese so they’re ploughing through episodes of The Samurai and Gigantor, chugging sake in front of an open fire. I sent him on his way with a load of Tsukune (teriyaki chicken meatballs) and Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad with miso dressing.*
I spent the afternoon with some beautiful lady friends (partners/wives of the men’s weekend gang), kids and dogs; chatting, eating and drinking wine. The boys and I feel very well-nourished. Thanks JC!
Now, onto cooking… this week’s recipes (and rather gaudy photos) feature mash! Mash is fantastic and it’s always worth making more than you need as you can use it in countless ways. Leftover potato mash is perfect for korokke (Japanese potato croquettes), mashed pumpkin can be hidden in chocolate muffins and sweet potato mash forms the base for gorgeous Sweet potato and tuna croquettes. The only tricky bit with these croquettes is the double-crumbing, a technique I stole from the Dutch. This makes for the most beautiful crispy croquettes, and the crunchy layer protects the molten cheesy filling.
I’m all for my boys enjoying vegetables in many configurations, so the occasional deep-fried treat is fine by me. These croquettes are excellent dunked into classic Green Goddess sauce – a concoction traditionally made with sour cream, tarragon and parsley. Personally, I find blended tarragon and parsley can taste a bit like lawn clippings; so I prefer a mixture of dill and mint. I also use yogurt in place of sour cream.
Reserve half the sweet potato mash to use as topping for Mini shepherd’s pies. You can use just about any meat-based sauce, stew or ragu as the base – I’ve listed my suggestions in the recipe. We especially love Bolognaise shepherd’s pies. They make a fab change from pasta, and my kids will hoover anything mini-sized. How cute are the Le Creuset mini baking dishes?? I borrowed them from my lovely neighbour, who has an enviable excellently-stocked kitchen. Thanks Tracey!
*I know I’m the quintessential 1950s housewife cooking for my man, but we fell into gender-stereotypical roles pretty quickly in our relationship I’m afraid. I love to cook (no, really)! He doesn’t, but is happy cleaning, fixing stuff and doing the gardening. I figure as long as the boys witness me cleaning the loo and their dad occasionally cooking, they’ll grow up to be well-balanced young men. Thankfully both our boys love cooking, something I’m very happy about!

Sweet potato and tuna croquettes[Recipe 1] Sweet potato and tuna croquettes with Green Goddess sauce

Ingredients for the mash (serves 4 for 2 meals):
650g (1½ lb) peeled, chopped, mashing potatoes (desiree, sebago, spunta, idaho or coliban)

650g (1½ lb) peeled, chopped, orange sweet potatoes
1 large garlic clove, crushed
tablespoons (approx. 30g) butter, chopped
⅓ cup (80ml) milk
¾ cup (75g) finely grated vintage cheddar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra ingredients for the croquettes (serves 4, makes 16 croquettes):
45g (1½ oz) almond meal
2 spring onions, green ends only, finely chopped (approx. ¼ cup)
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1 x 185g (6 oz) can tuna in olive oil, drained
1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour, for dusting

4 eggs, beaten
2 cups dry breadcrumbs
Vegetable or sunflower oil for deep-frying
Green Goddess sauce, to serve

Place potatoes and sweet potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 15–20 minutes, until soft. Drain and return potatoes to pan. Add the garlic, butter, milk, cheese, salt and pepper and mash well.
♦ Reserve half the mash (600g/2 heaped cups) for the mini shepherd’s pies with sweet potato topping.
To the reminder of the mash add the almond meal, spring onions, sweet chilli sauce, lemon rind and tuna and mix well. Refrigerate mixture for at least one hour (and up to 1 day), to allow it to firm up.
Roll about 16 little sausage-shaped logs from the mixture. 
Double-coat the croquettes. Spread 1 cup of breadcrumbs out on a plate. Dredge each croquette in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip into egg and coat well with the breadcrumbs. Refrigerate the croquettes for at least 15 minutes to help the coating adhere.
Repeat the entire coating process, using the second cup of breadcrumbs, so that each croquette gets two coats of flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Your hands will be a mess, but it’s worth the effort!
Deep-fry the croquettes in two batches at 180°C (350ºF) for 2–3 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t be tempted to cook them for longer, as they’ll start to split.
If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test whether the oil is ready by dropping a few breadcrumb lumps in the pot. They should sizzle as soon as they hit the oil.
Drain croquettes on kitchen paper and serve immediately, with Green goddess sauce.

  • Croquettes can be made in advance and stored uncooked in the fridge for up to 1 day.
  • Croquettes are best eaten immediately. They don’t stand up to re-heating in the oven as they lose their beautiful crispiness.
  • I’m not normally one to spruik multi-Nationals, however, Aldi’s ‘White Mill’ dry bread crumbs are magnificent! They contain rye, oats, barley, wheat bran, oat bran, linseeds, sesame seeds, amaranth and quinoa! And they’re made in Australia.
Mini shepherd's pies

[Recipe 2] Mini shepherd’s pies with sweet potato topping

Ingredients (serves 4):
800g (1.8 lb) bolognaise sauce (or lamb ragu or beef and guinness stew or chilli con carne)
♦ 2 heaped cups (600g) reserved sweet potato mash
1 egg, whisked

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Divide bolognaise (or ragu, stew or chilli con carne) amongst four 5cm (2″) deep 1 cup capacity lightly-oiled ovenproof dishes or ramekens.
♦ Spread evenly with reserved sweet potato mash and roughen the surface with a fork.
You’ll need about half a cup of mash for each mini shepherd’s pie. Brush tops lightly with egg.
Place shepherd’s pies on a baking tray. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, or until tops are golden.
Serve with a green salad.

It’s the veal thing

[Recipe 1] DUTCH VEAL ROLLS (blinde vinken) and BRAISED RED CABBAGE with APPLE (rode kool met appeltjes) transforms into
[Recipe 2] SWEDISH MEATBALLS with CRANBERRY and GOJI BERRY JAM
……………..
Reuban sandwich
“If it smells like someone let a wicked fart loose in your kitchen, you’re on the right track.”
I intended to make my own fermented sauerkraut for this post, but when I came across that particular comment whilst browsing food blogs, I chickened out. That, and reference to possible contamination by pesky microbes had me dishing up Braised red cabbage with apple (rode kool met appeltjes) instead. While not strictly sauerkraut as it’s not fermented; it comes pretty close in flavour. It’s my own take on my dad’s recipe – the cabbage is simmered in chicken stock with fresh apple, Dijon mustard and spices, and is quite delicious! You’ll find so many ways to use the leftovers during the week – this little picture shows our lunch at work on Thursday, photographed on a cutting mat (see tips/ingredients below the main recipe).
Braised red cabbage is the perfect accompaniment to Dutch veal rolls (blinde vinken). The name translates literally as ‘blind finches’, a classic quirky Dutchism. They’re lovely spiced logs of minced veal and pork, traditionally wrapped in paper-thin slice of veal, but I prefer to use pancetta. I also like to add grated apple (firm pear works well too). They’re simmered in stock and my boys LOVE them as they’re basically fancy sausages.
Cranberry and goji berry jam on sourdoughBy making double the quantity of Dutch veal roll mixture, you can serve up Swedish meatballs later in the week (or later in the month if you choose to freeze them)! Unsuspecting family members will have no idea this is the same mince mixture, rolled into balls. I’ve served them up Ikea-style (minus the horse meat); with mashed potatoes and home-made Cranberry and goji berry jam (I’d love to make Swedish lingonberry jam, but where on earth can one buy lingonberries in Australia)? I threw the goji berries in on a whim and they added a lovely tartness to the sauce. Goji berries are packed full of protein and vitamins, in fact they apparently contain 500 times more vitamin C than oranges! After much experimenting, I’ve found that simple is best with this jam. No need for vinegar, onion or wine. It’s gently sweetened with maple syrup and has a nice burst of zing from the ginger and lemon zest. Delicious! Recipe link is here. We spent 5 days at Apollo Bay Music Festival last week, and this jam went down a treat on sourdough smeared with White Castello cheese (pictured).
So, we didn’t miss the sauerkraut at all, but one day I’ll work up the courage to whip up a batch. Has anyone made it? If so I’d LOVE to know if it was a success, and if the resulting putrid-smelling kitchen was worth it.

Blinde vinken (Dutch veal rolls)[Recipe 1] Dutch veal rolls (blinde vinken) and braised red cabbage with apple (rode kool met appeltjes)

Ingredients for braised red cabbage with apple (makes 4 cups):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red (purple/Spanish) onion, finely chopped
2 large green apples, peeled and chopped into small pieces
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 small head red cabbage, shredded, inner core discarded
1¾ cups (435ml) store-bought or home-made chicken stock, plus extra ¼ cup if required
½ cup (125ml) apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon marjoram

2 tablespoons brown sugar
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Ingredients for Dutch veal rolls (serves 4 for 2 meals):

4 slices wholemeal bread, crusts removed, cut into pieces
½ cup (125ml) milk
500g (1 lb) minced (ground) humanely-farmed veal
500g (1 lb) minced (ground) free range pork
½ cup chopped parsley
1 small red (purple/Spanish) onion, very finely chopped
1 large green apple, peeled and grated

½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon marjoram
2 eggs, lightly whisked
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
100g (3.5 oz) thinly sliced pancetta
Olive oil, for frying, extra

1 cup (250ml) store-bought or home-made chicken stock, or veal stock
Pan-fried kipfler potatoes, to serve

For the braised red cabbage with apple (this can be made up to 3 days in advance):
Heat oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Fry onion and apple for 5–8 minutes, until onion is soft and transparent and apple begins to turn golden brown.
Add mustard seeds. Cook for for 1-2 minutes. Add cabbage, stock, vinegar, mustard, cloves, marjoram and brown sugar. Simmer over a low–medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add a splash more stock if it is drying out. Season.
Set aside until required. Braised red cabbage can be served cold or re-heated gently on the stovetop. It improves with age so is best made at least the day before.
For the Dutch veal rolls (these can be made up to 3 days in advance, or frozen):
Soak bread in milk for 5 minutes, and gently squeeze out.
Place minced meat, parsley, onion, apple, spices and eggs in a large bowl. Add the squeezed-out bread. Mix well and season.
Divide mixture in half (approx. 650g/1.4 lb), and reserve one portion for the Swedish meatballs.
Roll the remaining veal mixture into eight log shapes. Wrap each in pancetta.
Heat olive oil in a large non-stick frypan. Add veal rolls and gently fry until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Cook in two batches if required, and return to the pan when cooked. Pour in stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 8–10 minutes. Turn the veal rolls over and simmer for a further 8 minutes.
Remove veal rolls from the pan and keep warm on a plate covered with foil. Bring pan juices to the boil and simmer until reduced by half. Drain in a fine mesh sieve. Set aside strained juices and reheat when required.
Serve the veal rolls and pan juices with braised red cabbage and pan-fried kipflers or thickly-sliced rye bread.

  • Uncooked Dutch veal rolls can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 1 month. Place baking paper between the layers. Defrost overnight in the fridge. Drain on kitchen paper to absorb excess moisture before cooking.
  • Braised red cabbage can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. The flavour improves with time.
  • Braised red cabbage is fabulous in a Reuben-style sandwich (pictured in the intro text) with Edam cheese, pastrami and Dijonnaise (2 teaspoons Dijon mustard mixed with 2 tablespoons mayonnaise). 
  • Braised red cabbage is also delicious served with pork schnitzels, Slow-cooked beef brisket, Pulled pork or served up Dutch-style, nestled on a bed of endive and potato mash with a big fat rookwust sausage resting on top (my Dad’s specialty).
  • If you don’t have the time or inclination, you can buy ‘kapusta czerwona’ (braised Polish red cabbage) by the jar at European delicatessens – the flavour is very similar to Dutch braised cabbage. Warm gently on the stove-top.

Swedish meatballs (Ikea style)

[Recipe 2] Swedish meatballs with cranberry and goji berry jam

Ingredients (serves 4):
Half quantity (approx. 650g/1.4 lb) reserved Dutch veal roll mixture
2 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
2 cups store-bought or home-made chicken stock
150ml (5 fl oz) cream (I use light cooking cream)
Creamy parmesan mashed potatoes, to serve
Cranberry and goji berry jam, to serve

Steamed green beans, to serve
Chopped fresh dill, to serve

Roll mixture into 20–25 walnut-sized balls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes if time permits.
Heat olive oil in a large non-stick frypan. Add meatballs and brown well on all sides, about 8 minutes. Cook in two batches, transferring to a plate lined with kitchen paper.
Add flour to pan, and cook, stirring for about one minute. Gradually pour in stock and cream and bring to the boil. Return meatballs to the pan. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through.
Serve meatballs and their sauce with Creamy parmesan mashed potatoes and Cranberry and goji berry jam, with a side of steamed green beans. Scatter with chopped dill.

  • Meatballs can be frozen, raw, for up to 3 months. Place baking paper between the layers. Defrost overnight in the fridge. Drain on kitchen paper to absorb excess moisture before cooking.
  • If you don’t have a deep-sided non-stick pan; cook the meatballs in a shallow-sided non-stick pan first; and transfer them to a deeper pan for cooking in the sauce.
  • The Cranberry and goji berry jam is beautiful served with sourdough bread, spread thickly with White Castello cheese (pictured in the intro text).
  • Dried wild goji berries are available from health food stores or online from Loving Earth.
  • I always buy 300ml (10 fl oz) tubs of cream, and freeze the leftover 150ml (5 fl oz) cream in its tub. Nearly all my recipes that contain cream use 150ml. Allow the cream to defrost in the fridge overnight and use it for this recipe again or for:
    Caramelised onion and goat’s cheese tart or
    Chicken and leek pot pie or
    Creamy pumpkin fettuccine with toasted walnuts or
    Sticky date pudding with toasted hazelnuts or
    Roasted red capsicum and fresh herb tart

Of rice and men

[Recipe 1] MARION’S BROWN RICE, MIXED NUT and GINGER SALAD transforms into
[Recipe 2] GOLDEN RICE BALLS with CHUNKY PEANUT and COCONUT SAUCE
……………..
The ‘men’ part of my post title pertains to the husband and his man friends, who are out reclaiming their youth tonight at Iggy and the Stooges, and the Beasts of Bourbon. He’ll no doubt be clunking down our hallway at some revolting hour.
I, on the other hand, am a lady of good health and virtue. I offer you this wholesome brown rice, mixed nut and ginger salad. It’s full of flavour and texture, with a good wallop of zing from the ginger; and whenever I bring it to a BBQ, as I did a couple of weeks ago, the recipe is always requested. It’s one of ‘those’ recipes. I’m sure you all have one. It’s my mother-in-law Marion’s specialty and she has been making it for years. It nearly always features on the table at family gatherings (along with Marion’s mysterious ‘24 hour salad’).
The recipe makes enough for 6, plus planned-overs to reserve (undressed, minus the capsicum) for a batch of fantastic, golden rice balls with chunky peanut and coconut sauce. My 8-year old loves these in wraps with chilli slaw.
Hope you all have a beautiful Easter.

Brown rice, ginger and mixed nut salad[Recipe 1] Marion’s brown rice, mixed nut and ginger salad

Ingredients (serves 4–6 for two meals, ie. salad serves 6, rice balls serve 4):
3 cups (600g) uncooked medium-grain brown rice
6 spring onions (scallions), sliced
150g (5¼ oz) raisins
100g (3½ oz) walnuts, roasted and roughly chopped
75g (2½ oz) cashews, roasted and roughly chopped
9 small cloves garlic, very finely chopped
7½ cm (3”) piece ginger, grated and chopped (equivalent to 3 tablespoons)
½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small red capsicum (bell pepper), thinly sliced (for salad only)
1 small yellow capsicum (bell pepper), thinly sliced (for salad only)
Dressing (for salad only):
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce (gluten-free, if required)
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Place rice in a large saucepan. Add 5–6 litres (5–6 quarts) cold water. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 35–40 minutes, until cooked and not too chewy.
Remove rice from heat. Rinse, and drain well. Refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight.
Add spring onions, raisins, toasted walnuts, toasted cashews, garlic, ginger and parsley. Season to taste, and mix well.
Reserve ⅓ of the undressed brown rice salad (4 cups) for the Golden rice balls.
Make the dressing by whisking ingredients together. Pour over remaining brown rice salad, add capsicum and toss together. Serve.

  • 3 cups uncooked brown rice yields 9 cups cooked rice.
  • Cooked brown rice can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
  • Planned-overs (undressed salad) can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, so you can make the rice balls later in the week.
  • If you’d prefer to make the salad alone, you can play around with quantities. It’s hard to go wrong – just give it a taste and adjust the dressing up or down accordingly.
  • Fussy kid tip: reserve a cup of cooked brown rice, a tablespoon of finely chopped roasted nuts and a tiny splash of dressing; add cooked corn kernels and peas, and even a small drained can of tuna, and the kids will be happy. You’ll find kids will hoover the rice balls though, no adjustment necessary!

Brown rice balls with chunky peanut sauce

[Recipe 2] Golden rice balls with chunky peanut and coconut sauce

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 cups reserved undressed brown rice salad
125g (4½ oz) tofu
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
1 egg, lightly whisked
½ cup (75g) atta flour
Peanut oil for deep frying
Chunky peanut and coconut sauce, to serve
Chilli slaw with crispy noodles, to serve (optional)

Place reserved undressed brown rice salad in a large bowl.
Add tofu, chilli sauce, egg and flour and mix well with your hands. Form mixture into golfball-sized balls.
Refrigerate for at least one hour.
Heat the peanut oil in a deep saucepan. Deep-fry the rice balls in two batches at 180°C (350ºF) for approximately 3 minutes, until golden brown. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test whether the oil is ready by dropping a few pieces of cooked rice in the pot. They should sizzle as soon as they hit the oil.
Drain rice balls on kitchen paper and serve immediately with chunky peanut and coconut sauce and Chilli slaw with crispy noodles (or a simple green salad).
Makes approx. 20–22 rice balls.

  • These balls are extra crunchy and delicious when deep-fried, but if you have an aversion to deep-frying, they can also be shallow-fried in ¼–½  cup of peanut oil. Roll the balls around in the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs, to ensure they brown evenly.
  • Atta flour is a traditional wholemeal Indian flour made from durum wheat, with visible fine bran particles. It is available from large supermarkets, Indian and Pakistani grocers. In this recipe it can be replaced with dry breadcrumbs if unavailable.
  • If peanut sauce doesn’t float your boat, the rice balls are also lovely served with chilli mayo.

Bean me up

[Recipe 1] CANNELLINI BEAN, CHORIZO and SWEET POTATO SALAD
transforms into

[Recipe 2] SPICED BEAN BURGERS with CHIPOTLE MAYO 
……………..
Happy belated New Year! We’ve just returned from a beautiful week on the Mornington Peninsula – will post snapshots soon.
In the meantime, here are a couple of easy Summery recipes we chowed down on last weekend. The Cannellini bean, chorizo and sweet potato salad was a cinch to whip up and pretty damn nice! We served it up at a BBQ, along with a platter of chilli prawns and lots of wedges of lime.
You can use canned beans for the salad, but if you have the time, cooking dried beans is always worth the effort methinks.
Reserve half the salad (minus the chorizo and dressing – see the ♦ orange diamonds for details), and you can whip up some beaut Spiced bean burgers with chipotle mayo for dinner the next day.
I love transforming salads into patties or fritters.
 A few regular favourites of ours are these:
Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad > Sweet potato, quinoa and salmon cakes.
Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad > Corn, pea and quinoa fritters.
Roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad > Spiced pumpkin and cashew patties.
The salads are all perfect to serve up at a BBQ or dinner party. Then, after a successful night of entertaining, when you’re just too pooped to cook the next day, you’ll open your fridge door and voila! an (almost) ready-made dinner will be sitting there.
The thing with these salads is that they’re mostly adult-friendly. The patties and fritters made from the reserved salads however, will be positively hoovered by kids. My boys will eat almost anything fritterised or pattied. And you can hide all manner of extra goodies in them too… oat bran, wheatgerm, LSA and/or extra vegies.
Have a lovely week. We’re adopting a kitten on Saturday (bit excited)!
Footnote: Thanks Rate your burn for including these recipes in your “15 healthy recipes for sweet potatoes” roundup!

White bean and chorizo salad[Recipe 1] Cannellini bean, chorizo and sweet potato salad

Ingredients (serves 4–6 for 2 meals):
2 orange sweet potatoes (about 700g/1½ lb), peeled, cut into 2cm cubes

1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 x 400g (15 oz) cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained, rinsed (or cooked dried beans – see notes below recipe)
1 medium salad (white) onion, quartered, finely chopped
I cup fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped, plus extra to serve
1 small chorizo sausage* (150g/5 oz), casing removed, halved lengthwise, sliced
Cracked black pepper, extra, to serve

Dressing:
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon white wine (or white balsamic) vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon smoked paprika (pimentón), or sweet paprika if unavailable

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato with the olive oil until well-coated. Place sweet potato onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Season. Roast for 20–25 minutes or until tender.
Mix sweet potato, beans, onion and coriander together.
♦ Reserve half of the sweet potato and bean mixture (about 4½ cups) for the Spiced bean burgers.
Make the dressing by placing the ingredients in a screw-top jar. Shake until combined.
Heat oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat and fry chorizo slices until crispy. Drain on kitchen paper.
Add chorizo slices to the remaining sweet potato and bean mixture (for tonight’s salad). Drizzle with the dressing and toss gently. Serve, scattered with extra coriander and pepper.

  • You can use cooked dried beans instead of canned beans. You’ll need a total of 450g (just under 1 lb) dried cannellini (white kidney) beans for this recipe. When cooked this is equivalent to 4 cans beans, drained. FYI, 2 cans beans, drained, is equivalent to approximately 225g (½ lb) cooked dried beans. Soak dried beans overnight, drain and rinse. Cook in boiling water until tender, about 30–45 minutes. Drain, rinse and cool. Cooking dried beans is not as time-consuming as it may seem – I often cook mine in the morning while we’re having breakfast, so they’re ready to use at dinner time. 
  • *Be sure to use good-quality dried salami-style chorizo, not fresh ‘sausage-style’.
  • Planned-overs (undressed sweet potato and bean mixture) can be frozen for up to 3 months; so you can make the bean burgers another time. You can also store the mixture in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Bean burger with chipotle mayo

[Recipe 2] Spiced bean burgers with chipotle mayo

Ingredients (serves 4–6):
♦ Half reserved undressed sweet potato and bean mixture (about 4½ cups)

1 small red birsdeye chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped (optional)
½ cup dried breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil for frying
Nice buns and lettuce, to serve
Chipotle mayo, to serve

♦ Mash the reserved undressed sweet potato and bean mixture with a potato masher.
Add the chilli (if using), breadcrumbs, cumin and egg and mix well.
Shape the mixture into 6 burgers. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat and fry for 2–3 minutes each side until golden brown.
Serve in buns with lettuce and chipotle mayo.

  • Uncooked burgers can be frozen for 3 months, between layers of baking paper. Defrost overnight in the fridge.
  • Chipotles are smoke dried jalapeños. Chipotle chilli powder (for the mayo) is available at specialty food stores and Spanish grocers. In Australia, it’s available online at Oasis and Fireworks foods

Great balls of fire

[Recipe 1] LAMB, PUMPKIN and LEMON KÖFTES transform into
[Recipe 2] SPICED LAMB MEATBALL and LENTIL TAGINE 
……………..
Hi all. Hope you had an excellent weekend. We went to a garage sale, attended two Christmas gatherings and set up the Christmas tree; so ours was full and fun.
I’m sitting here, wine in hand, feeling pretty great actually. We have a system in place (us old people like routines), where one night a week the husband heads back to the studio (ie. the place where we work) and gets out his easel and canvases for a painting session, while I sit here blogging to my heart’s content. I LOVE it. I write my weekly blog post, sort out recipes and fuel my Pinterest addiction; and he releases his creative juices. Bliss.
So… onto this week’s recipes… these two have been stuffed in my bulging recipe file for ages, and I was inspired to finally share them after reading Ali’s fab post recently. We had friends over for a simple BBQ a couple of weekends ago and lamb köftes (Middle Eastern football-shaped meatballs) were our glamorous replacement for hamburgers. They go down beautifully with adults and kids too. I like mine with pumpkin added and a dash of lemon rind for zing. You can plug them with almost any vegies though – I’ve made them in the past with grated carrot and even beetroot!
The accompanying tahini sauce takes seconds to make – the perfect task for young helpers. The 5-minute lentil and tomato salad is also a breeze to whip up. The harissa is optional, but I’m a harissa junkie, so I use it whenever I can. We recently discovered pilpel harissa in our local supermarket and it’s fantastic. Super spicy and intense.
The bonus with this köfte recipe is that you’ll end up with enough mixture to serve up a fantastic spiced lamb meatball and lentil tagine later. The meatballs freeze beautifully, so you can whip them out for a quick mid-week meal.
PS. The origin of the word köfte is the Persian word کوفته  (kufteh) meaning ‘mashed’. Just thought you’d like to know.

Lamb koftes with tahini sauce[Recipe 1] Lamb, pumpkin and lemon köftes

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 red (purple/Spanish) onions, very finely chopped
3 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 kilo (2 lb) minced (ground) lamb
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind
200g (7 oz) butternut pumpkin (butternut squash), grated and chopped
4 large eggs, lightly whisked
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to garnish
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
Harissa, to serve (optional)

Store-bought pita breads, to serve (or try Sawsan’s fab recipe)
Tahini sauce, to serve
5-minute lentil and tomato salad, to serve

Heat oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 3 minutes. Add the ground spices and cook for 1–2 minutes until aromatic. Allow to cool slightly.
Add cooled spiced onion to the minced lamb in a large bowl; along with the lemon rind, pumpkin, eggs, parsley and breadcrumbs. Moosh thoroughly with your hands.
♦ Reserve half the spiced lamb and pumpkin mixture (850g/1¾ lb or 3 tightly-packed cups) for the Spiced lamb meatball and lentil tagine.
Prepare your köftes. Divide the mixture into 14 portions and shape each into a football-shaped log. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a low heat. Add the köftes and cook, turning occasionally, for 8 minutes or until cooked through. Köftes can also be cooked, over a low heat, on the BBQ.
Place koftes on a large platter and serve with harissa (if using), pita breads, tahini sauce, and 5-minute lentil and tomato salad.

  • It’s very important that your onion and pumpkin are chopped as finely as possible, or your köftes and meatballs will be crumbly.
  • You can of course use the köfte mixture to make a double quantity of köftes, or double quantity of meatballs, as preferred.
  • Harissa is a North African hot chilli sauce, available at specialty food stores, Middle Eastern grocers and select supermarkets.
  • Uncooked lamb and pumpkin köftes and meatballs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen with baking paper between the layers, for up to 3 months.

Lamb meatball tagine with couscous

[Recipe 2] Spiced lamb meatball and lentil tagine

Ingredients (serves 4):
♦ 850g/1¾ lb (3 tightly-packed cups) reserved spiced lamb and pumpkin mixture

1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
2 teaspoons tomato paste/concentrate
700ml (24 fl oz) tomato passata (tomato puree)
400g (14 oz) can lentils, drained and rinsed (or 1 cup cooked lentils – see notes below recipe)
1 cinnamon stick
⅛ teaspoon ground chilli powder (or more – to taste)
Salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve
Half a preserved lemon (skin only), rinsed and finely chopped (optional)
Greek-style natural yogurt, to serve
1¼ cups instant couscous

♦ Roll the reserved spiced lamb and pumpkin mixture into approximately 26 small meatballs (use 1 tablespoon of mixture for each ball).
Refrigerate for half an hour if time permits. 
Heat oil in a large non-stick saucepan over medium heat, and fry meatballs in two batches, until browned all over, about 3 minutes. Remove meatballs, and place on kitchen paper.
Place ½ cup water, tomato paste, passata, lentils, cinnamon and chilli into a large heavy-based saucepan and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 15 minutes, or until thickened. Stir occasionally. Add meatballs to the sauce and simmer for ten minutes, covered, until cooked through. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. 
Season to taste.
Meanwhile, prepare couscous. Bring 2 cups of water to the boil. Stir in the couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes, until water is absorbed. Fluff up with a fork.
Serve meatball tagine over couscous, scattered with parsley and preserved lemon (if using), with a good blob of yogurt on the side.

  • Left-over tomato paste can be frozen in teaspoon or tablespoon lumps, individually-wrapped in cling film; ready to plop into your next pasta dish.
  • Freeze leftover parsley stalks, and use in sweet tomato pasta sauce or home-made chicken stock.
  • 400g (14 oz) can lentils, drained, will yield 1 heaped cup cooked lentils. For 1 heaped cup cooked lentils, cook ½ cup dry lentils in boiling water for 45 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse. I often cook up a load of lentils, and freeze them in 1 cup portions to use when required.

Grain fed

[Recipe 1] SWEET POTATO, QUINOA and EDAMAME SALAD with MISO DRESSING transforms into 
[Recipe 2] SWEET POTATO, QUINOA and SALMON CAKES
……………..
Happy Halloween folks! Are any of you doing anything special on the 31st? My boys are Trick or Treating this year, for the very first time, and they’re SO excited. We also decorated a batch of gumnuts and made little skeleton heads and spooky screaming spiders with pipe-cleaner legs. The elves are for the Christmas tree (love getting in early with Christmas decorating). Their little hats are the pointy bits from inside an egg carton, stuck on with our trusty hot glue gun.
Here’s an orange and black recipe to celebrate Halloween. We’re a bit obsessed with quinoa at the moment (like the rest of the world). My lovely gluten-intolerant brother-in-law looked after our boys one night last week, so I made him (and us!) this Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad with miso dressing. It’s a conglomeration of my Roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad and Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad and it’s pretty damn yummy.
The sweet potato, edamame, black sesame seed combo is lovely – I often serve up that combination on sushi rice with grilled fish. We love edamame and they’re such a kid-friendly vegetable, with all that squeezing and popping.
The sweet potato, quinoa and salmon cakes, made with a planned-over portion of the salad, are devoured by my boys. This recipe is a great way to stretch out a small portion of salmon, which is expensive, and also not a very sustainable fish. I use egg rings to make perfect little circles, but feel free to make them without – they’ll just be more free-form and fritterish. I’ve used both methods, and they work equally well.
Footnote: Thanks EatSmart for featuring these recipes on your blog!

Halloween GumnutsQuinoa, sweet potato and edamame salad[Recipe 1] Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad with miso dressing

Ingredients (serves 4–6 for two meals, ie. salad serves 6, salmon cakes serve 4):
2 heaped tablespoons (45g) white miso paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 orange sweet potatoes (about 750g/1½ lb), peeled, cut into 2cm cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
800g (28 oz) frozen unshelled edamame, or 400g (14 oz/2 cups) frozen shelled edamame
2¼ cups (450g) white quinoa
3 cups coriander (cilantro), chopped, plus extra to serve
¼ cup black sesame seeds (or white, if unavailable), toasted
Miso dressing (for salad only):
2 heaped tablespoons (45g) white miso paste, extra
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce (gluten-free or regular)
Small piece ginger, grated and chopped, about 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon (15ml) water
1 tablespoon (15ml) rice wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Mix 2 heaped tablespoons miso paste and olive oil together to form a paste. Toss with the sweet potato in a large bowl, until well-coated. Place sweet potato onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Season. Roast for 20 minutes or until tender. Set aside.
If using unshelled edamame, squeeze the beans from their pods. Blanch shelled edamame in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and allow to cool. Add edamame to the roasted sweet potato.
Combine quinoa and 3 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stand, covered, for ten minutes or until water has been absorbed. Spread quinoa out on a tray and set aside for ten minutes to dry. Add to the sweet potato and edamame, along with the coriander and sesame seeds.
♦ Reserve ⅓ of the undressed Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad (about 4 cups) for the Sweet potato and quinoa fritters.
Meanwhile, make miso dressing. Place dressing ingredients in a small saucepan and warm over a low heat, stirring, until miso and honey are dissolved (1–2 minutes). Set aside to cool. Drizzle dressing over the remaining salad, and toss gently. Scatter with extra sesame seeds and extra coriander.

  • Black sesame seeds are simply white sesame seeds, unhulled. They contain about 60% more calcium than hulled sesame seeds, and have a lovely strong, nutty flavour. They’re available at Asian food stores. If you can’t find them, they can be easily replaced with white sesame seeds. You can toast them yourself, or cheat and buy them pre-toasted.
  • White miso paste is available from Asian food stores.
  • Contrary to my heading, quinoa isn’t actually a grain, but a seed. It’s commonly referred to as a grain though – Coles even label their variety as ‘Organic white grain quinoa’. It’s gluten-free and is readily available from health food stores, and from the health section of large supermarkets.
  • Edamame are young soybeans, salted and boiled in their pods. They’re readily available from Asian food stores, and are usually sold frozen. As they’re already cooked, they need only be defrosted or lightly blanched before serving. They’re eaten by squeezing (or popping!) the soy beans out of the pods with your fingers. They’re very popular as bar snacks in Japan. *sigh*
    I always sigh when I mention Japan. *sigh*
  • You can prepare the salad one day ahead. Store the prepared quinoa and dressing in separate containers. Store the cooked sweet potato and podded edamame together. Prepare the coriander and assemble the salad close to serving time.
  • Undressed salad, reserved for the fritters, can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Quinoa sweet potato cakes[Recipe 2] Sweet potato, quinoa and salmon cakes

Ingredients (serves 4, makes 12–14 cakes):
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
½ cup (75g) plain (all-purpose) flour (gluten-free or regular)

½ teaspoon salt
4 cups reserved undressed Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad
1 large salmon fillet (about 350g/12 oz), skinned and finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives or spring onions (green part only)
4 tablespoons olive oil, for frying
Chilli mayo, to serve

Lightly whisk eggs and chilli sauce. Gradually add flour and salt and whisk to combine.
With a potato masher, roughly ‘crush’ the reserved undressed Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad. Break up the sweet potato chunks, as these help to bind the cakes.
Add the egg mixture, chopped salmon and chives (or spring onions), and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate until required.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Place four oiled egg rings into the pan and fill each with about ½ cup fritter mixture. Flatten lightly with a spatula. Fry about 3 minutes, carefully remove the egg ring, and turn cakes over to cook the other side. Cakes should be golden and firm to touch.
You can also make free-form cakes without egg rings, by using ½ cup mixture for each fat little cake (approx. 8cm/3″ x 1.5cm/½” high). Don’t make them too thin or they won’t hold together.
Repeat with remaining mixture. Cakes can be served at room temperature or kept warm in a low oven until you’re ready to serve.
Serve quinoa cakes with a simple green salad and chilli mayo.

Loafing around

[Recipe 1] BEEF and PUMPKIN MEATLOAF transforms into
[Recipe 2] OVEN-BAKED BURGERS with THE LOT
……………..
Daggy dinner alert! Meatloaf!
We secretly love meatloaf. It’s right up there with tuna casserole in the retro dinner department, but honestly it’s really good. Leftover meatloaf is soooo tasty too, sliced thinly in sandwiches, with chunky relish and rocket (arugula). It’s great for picnics and lunch on the go. My boys just love it.
Make double the beef and pumpkin mixture and you can conjure up some fab oven-baked burgers with the lot* to have later in the week. These are perfect for a quick weeknight dinner and they’re roasted so they’re less fatty than fried burgers.
The burger recipe makes 6 patties. You can freeze the two unused ones, uncooked. I love having spare burgers in the freezer for the kids, for those nights when the husband and I are craving a big fat steak.
I know the ingredients list looks a bit long and spooky, but it is so easy to put together, I promise. Everything is basically thrown into a big bowl and mooshed up.
The mixture is full of hidden pumpkin and grated carrot. You can trick it up and experiment with it too. Over the years I’ve replaced the 2 cups of grated pumpkin with cooked lentils, tiny cauliflower florets, grated zucchini (courgette)… you name it!
You can of course use the mixture to make two meatloaves instead, or indeed two batches of burgers. Both freeze really well uncooked.
*Is ‘burger with the lot’ an Australian expression? I’m not sure. In old-fashioned burger places here, it refers to a hamburger containing all the available fillings; which can often mean it will include pineapple, a fried egg and sliced beetroot!

Beef and pumpkin meatloaf[Recipe 1] Beef and pumpkin meatloaf

1 large red (purple/Spanish) onion, very finely chopped
½ tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon sea salt + freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce

1 kilo (2 lb) minced (ground) beef
500g (1 lb) minced (ground) pork
2 large carrots, finely grated
200g (7 oz) peeled butternut pumpkin (butternut squash), grated (equal to 1½ cups)
1½ cups dry bread crumbs
1½ cups chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Easy spiced tomato chutney (or store-bought chutney), to serve 
GLAZE:
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Heat oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin seeds and cook for 2 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
With a hand-held whisk, lightly beat the eggs, salt, pepper, milk, Dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce and sweet chilli sauce until combined.
Add to the minced beef and pork in a large bowl, along with the carrot, pumpkin, breadcrumbs, parsley and the cooked onion and garlic. Mix thoroughly with your hands.
Reserve half the mixture (1¼ kilos or 4 tightly-packed cups) for the oven-baked burgers with the lot.
Press remaining mixture into a lightly-oiled loaf pan, and turn out onto a tray lined with baking paper. You can pat the mixture into a free-form shape if you prefer, but I find using a loaf tin as a mold works beautifully.
Make the glaze by mixing the ingredients in a small bowl. Brush all over the meatloaf.
Bake for 60–70 minutes, until lovely and crisp on the outside and cooked through.
Allow to rest for ten minutes. Cut into thick slices and serve with steamed vegetables or salad, and tomato chutney.
One meatloaf yields 8 thick slices.

  • Cooked beef and pumpkin meatloaf can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge and should be used within three days. Uncooked meatloaf can be frozen, whole (in a loaf tin to retain its’ shape), for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge and cook per instructions. Glaze just before cooking.

The ultimate burger. With hidden veggies.

[Recipe 2] Oven-baked burgers with the lot

4 soft wholemeal (wholewheat) buns, warmed in oven, toasted, or lightly char-grilled
♦ 1¼ kilos (4 tightly-packed cups) reserved beef and pumpkin meatloaf mixture
Olive oil, for brushing (or olive oil spray)
Easy spiced tomato chutney (or store-bought chutney), to serve
CHOOSE YOUR EXTRAS:
Lettuce
Sliced cheese
Sliced tomato
Whole cornichons or sliced pickles
Sliced avocado
Thinly sliced red (purple/Spanish) onion or caramelised red onion jam

Preheat oven to 220°C (425ºF).
Shape reserved beef and pumpkin meatloaf mixture into 6 patties. Freeze two for later!
Place onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush or spray patties lightly with olive oil.
Roast patties for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
Layer burgers and your chosen extras on each bun base. Pop the tops on and serve.
Makes 4 (plus two extra patties for freezing!)

  • Uncooked patties can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge and should be used within three days, or they can be frozen, with baking paper between the layers, for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge and bake per instructions.

A star is corn

[Recipe 1] ROAST CORN, QUINOA and PEA SALAD transforms into 
[Recipe 2] CORN, PEA and QUINOA FRITTERS
……………..
This Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad is an absolute ripper; zingy and zesty and perfect for Spring. I’ve based the recipe on one our friends Eileesh and Michael made for us last Summer. They barbecued their corn, but the weather isn’t quite warm enough for me to lift the BBQ lid yet (or clean the damn thing!), so I’ve roasted my corn in the oven instead. Eileesh and Michael’s salad featured roasted red pepper, which was fantastic; but I’ve swapped it for fresh peas as they looked so pretty at the market AND I reckon corn and peas are the perfect marriage.
You can serve the salad as is, or alongside chargrilled lamb, chicken or fresh tuna. It’s easy to modify for children and even babies – see tips below the recipe.
Reserve a portion of the salad (undressed) and you can make a batch of fabulous Corn, pea and quinoa fritters for dinner the following night. My boys adore these, and so do we! Ciao for now.

Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad[Recipe 1] Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad

Ingredients (serves 4–6 for 2 meals; ie. salad for 6, fritters for 4):
500g (1 lb) white quinoa, rinsed and drained

6 corn cobs, silk and husks removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
400g (14 oz) fresh podded peas (start with 1 kilo/2¼ lb unpodded)
3 cups coriander (cilantro), chopped
3 cups flat-leaf parsley, chopped
(Note: you’ll be reserving ⅓ of the above undressed salad ingredients for Recipe 2 below)

Lime chilli dressing:
½ cup lime juice (from 3–4 limes)
3 teaspoons lime zest, chopped

2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey, warmed slightly

½ teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Place corn cobs onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, and cut the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife. Transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, blanch the peas in boiling water for 3–4 minutes, drain and add to the corn.
Combine quinoa and 3 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stand, covered, for ten minutes or until water has been absorbed. Spread quinoa out on a tray and set aside for ten minutes to dry. Add to the corn kernels and peas, along with the coriander and parsley.
♦ Reserve ⅓ of the undressed Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad (about 6 cups) for the Corn, pea and quinoa fritters (recipe 2).
To make the lime chilli dressing, place dressing ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake well until combined. Drizzle dressing over the remaining salad and toss gently.
Salad serves 6 (or 8 as a side).

  • Quinoa is a gluten-free South American seed, available from health food stores and from the health section of large supermarkets. It’s very high in protein and has a lovely nutty flavour.
  • You can use 400g (14 oz) frozen peas instead of fresh podded peas. Blanch in boiling water for 1–2 minutes.
  • You can prepare the salad one day ahead. Store the prepared quinoa and dressing in separate containers. Store the cooked corn and peas together. Herbs should be prepared and added close to serving time.
  • Leftover salad is fab for lunch!
  • Undressed salad, reserved for the fritters, can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Baby tip: Before adding the dressing and herbs, you can puree a portion of corn, peas and quinoa, for babies over 8 months old. 
  • Fussy kid tip: To modify the salad for kids, stir a small can of drained tuna, and 1 tablespoon of egg mayonnaise through 1 or 2 cups of dressed or undressed (as preferred) salad. You can even add a chopped boiled egg. Voila! Healthy, kid-friendly tuna salad. 

Corn, pea and quinoa fritters[Recipe 2] Corn, pea and quinoa fritters

Ingredients (serves 4, makes 16–18 fritters):
1 cup (150g) plain (all-purpose) flour (gluten-free or regular)

1½ teaspoons salt
3 eggs, separated
½ cup (125ml) milk
♦ 6 cups reserved undressed Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad
3 spring onions (scallions), white parts only, thinly sliced (reserve green parts for serving)
Olive oil for shallow frying
Sliced avocado or guacamole, to serve

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk the egg yolks and milk in a separate bowl and gradually add to the dry ingredients, whisking until smooth.
♦ Add the reserved undressed Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad, and the spring onion whites, and stir well.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and fold into the fritter mix.
Heat 1–2 tablespoons olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Use a heaped ¼ cup of batter per fritter, and flatten lightly with a spatula. Fry 4 fritters at a time for about 2 minutes each side, until golden and firm to touch. If your stovetop is large enough to accommodate them, you can use two frying pans at a time.
Repeat with remaining batter. Fritters can be kept warm in a low oven, lightly covered with foil, until you’re ready to serve.
Serve fritters topped with sliced avocado or guacamole. Scatter with chopped green ends of spring onions.

Rowdy, with a chance of meatballs [2]

Sophia Loren Cookbook cover[Recipe 1] BEEF, PORK and RICOTTA MEATBALLS transform into
[Recipe 3] LASAGNARONI
……………..
Have been spending way too much time faffing around on Pinterest lately. It’s a glorious time-waster, but where else would I have discovered this photo of Sophia Loren? It’s from her 1971 Cookbook, In Cucina Con Amore (In the Kitchen with Love), which I covet so badly.
The photo segues quite nicely into an Italian-inspired dish don’t you think? This is the third recipe to use reserved portions of beef, pork and ricotta meatballs and sweet tomato pasta sauce. It’s a fab cheesey lasagna-like macaroni dish, which I’ve named Lasagnaroni. My boys positively hoover it, and the whole family have minutes of fun playing Find the meatball.
If you’re feeling creative go ahead and bestow your own fancy name upon it, for everyone’s amusement. We like Soccer balls in the mud or Monster eyeballs in the swamp. Buon Appetito.

Macaroni cheese with meatballs

[Recipe 3] Lasagnaroni with meatballs

Ingredients (serves 4-6):
2 tablespoons olive oil
♦ 1 quantity (approx. 600g/1.3 lb) beef, pork and ricotta meatballs
♦ 1⅓ cups (600g) sweet tomato pasta sauce (or store-bought)
400g (14 oz) dried macaroni (or short-cut bucatini)
1 cup frozen peas (or fresh, shelled – see notes in recipe)
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon (15g/½ oz) butter
2 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
1¼ cups (310ml) milk
1 cup (100g) grated Gruyère cheese
½ cup (50g) grated mozzarella, for scattering
½ tablespoon olive oil, extra, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Lightly oil a large casserole dish and set aside.
Place remaining olive oil into a large non-stick frypan.
Add beef, pork and ricotta meatballs and brown well on all sides.
Pour in sweet tomato pasta sauce and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cook macaroni in boiling water until al dente. Don’t overcook it as it will continue to soften in the oven. Add frozen peas for the last 2 minutes boiling time (fresh peas will need about 4–5 minutes). Drain macaroni and peas and set aside.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour, and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Gradually add the milk, stirring continuously. Return to the heat and stir for about 3–4 minutes until thickened. Add Gruyère and mix well.
Place half the cooked macaroni and peas into the prepared casserole dish. Pour over meatballs and tomato pasta sauce. Season.
Layer the remaining macaroni and peas on top. Pour the Gruyère sauce over the top, and scatter with grated mozzarella. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes, until golden. Stand for 5 minutes before serving.

  • I love Gruyère and nearly always have it in the fridge. If unavailable it can easily be replaced with grated extra tasty cheese.
  • Leftovers can be taken to work for lunch, or to school in a thermos. Microwave or reheat in a low oven, covered in foil.
  • If you don’t have a deep-sided non-stick pan; cook the meatballs in a shallow-sided non-stick pan first; and transfer them to a deeper pan for cooking in the sauce.

A yen for chicken balls

[Recipe 1] TSUKUNE (Japanese teriyaki chicken meatballs) transforms into
[Recipe 2] TERIYAKI NOODLES with BOK CHOY and CHICKEN MEATBALLS
……………..

Tsukune (Japanese teriyaki chicken meatballs)
are ace. Their flavour casts me back to Tokyo a few years ago, where the husband and I had a regular nightly pilgrimage to local izakayas for skewered yakitori chicken and other tasty morsels. *sigh*
I’ve played around with the ingredients and measurements in this recipe a lot, but the original recipe was given to me by my lovely lady friend Janet, who always has a bowl of tsukune at her gatherings. They’re perfect party nibbles as you can make them well in advance, bung them in the freezer, and defrost them the night before they’re required. They don’t need fancy plating – pop them in a bowl with a pot of toothpicks and watch them disappear. I have some waiting in the freezer as we speak, for my son’s upcoming 5th birthday party.
Be sure to reserve a portion of tsukune and sticky glaze (see the orange diamonds in the recipe for quantities) and you can conjure up a super tasty, very quick dinner later, Teriyaki noodles with bok choy and chicken meatballs. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, my 8-year old rates this recipe a 10, along with bolognaise, lamb nut rice and ‘curry’ (butter chicken if he was forced to nominate a particular one).

Tsukune (Japanese teriyaki chicken balls)

[Recipe 1] Tsukune (Japanese teriyaki chicken meatballs)

Ingredients (makes 60 balls; ie. 3 portions of 20 balls + 3 portions of teriyaki glaze):
1 tablespoon peanut (or vegetable) oil
1 leek, white part only, halved lengthwise, cut into long strips and sliced finely
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1½ kilos (3 lb) minced (ground) chicken
3 teaspoons sesame oil
2½ cm (1”) piece ginger, finely chopped (about 1½ tablespoons)
1 large carrot, finely grated (on zester holes)
1 large egg, beaten
6 spring onions (scallions), white parts only, thinly sliced (reserve dark green parts for serving)
½ cup (75g) sesame seeds, toasted
3 heaped tablespoons white miso paste
3 tablespoons corn flour (cornstarch)
Peanut (or vegetable) oil, extra, for frying
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, extra, for serving
Sticky teriyaki glaze:
½ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup mirin
¾ cup firmly packed (150g) brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt (preferably fine sea salt)

Make the mixture:
Heat oil in a small saucepan and fry the leek and garlic over a medium heat for 3 minutes. The leek shouldn’t be completely soft, just aromatic. Transfer to a very large bowl.
Add the chicken, sesame oil, ginger, carrot, egg, spring onions, toasted sesame seeds, miso paste and corn flour. Mix well.
Roll the tsukune mixture into walnut-sized balls. Use lightly-floured hands as the mixture is quite soft and sticky (they firm up beautifully on frying though)! Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight if time permits.
Fry the balls:
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Fry the tsukune in batches until browned all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer them to a large bowl as you go. If your stove-top is wide enough, you can have two frypans going at once to expedite proceedings.
Reserve ⅓ of the cooked tsukune (about 20 balls or 500g/1 lb) for the Teriyaki noodles with bok choy and chicken meatballs.
Make the glaze:
Meanwhile, make the sticky teriyaki glaze by combining the ingredients in a small bowl.
Reserve ⅓ of the sticky teriyaki glaze (⅔ cup) and set aside for the Teriyaki noodles with bok choy and chicken meatballs.
Simmer the balls:
Return the remaining tsukune to the frypan(s) and add the remaining sticky glaze. Bring to the boil, turn down heat, and simmer, continuously stirring, until lovely and sticky and glistening, about 10 minutes. You may need to do do this in two batches, using half the glaze for each batch, if you’re working with one frypan only. The tsukune should be quite saucy – don’t reduce the sauce too much or they’ll dry out.
Serve:
Arrange tsukune on a platter or in a serving bowl, scattered with extra toasted sesame seeds and chopped green ends of spring onions. Serve with toothpicks.

  • This recipe makes a huge serve of tsukune, about 60 balls in total, essentially three serves of 20 balls and three serves of sticky teriyaki glaze. You’ll be reserving one serve (20 balls and ⅔ cup sticky glaze) for Recipe 2. The remaining two serves (40 balls and 1⅓ cups sticky glaze) will feed about 10–15 people as finger food. You can easily make a smaller overall quantity by using ⅓ or ⅔ of the listed ingredients (most ingredients are in multiples of 3). Even with a smaller batch, one egg is fine, just use a small egg!
  • If time permits, the chicken mixture can be prepared the night before and refrigerated.
  • Tsukune are fab served as part of a DIY bento box, or as a light Summer dinner. Add cooked sushi rice on the side, a small bowl of pickled ginger and steamed asparagus or Asian mixed-leaf salad
  • Cooked, glazed (or unglazed) tsukune can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge. They can be lightly warmed in a microwave before serving, or served at room temperature.
  • Reserved sticky teriyaki glaze can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.
  • Miso paste is available refrigerated from Asian grocers. Use the leftover paste to make Roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad!
  • You can toast your own sesame seeds, or cheat and buy them pre-toasted from Asian and Middle Eastern food stores.

Tsukune noodle stir-fry

[Recipe 2] Teriyaki noodles with bok choy and chicken meatballs

Ingredients (serves 4):
600g (1⅓ lb) fresh hokkien noodles

1 tablespoon peanut (or vegetable) oil
1 medium carrot, chopped into small match-sticks
1 small red capsicum (bell pepper), thinly sliced
♦ 1 serve (⅔ cup) reserved sticky teriyaki glaze
♦ 1 serve (500g/1 lb) reserved cooked tsukune (about 20 balls)
1 bunch bok choy, washed and very well dried, leaves trimmed and thinly sliced
Toasted sesame seeds, to serve
1 small red birdseye chilli, de-seeded, finely sliced, to serve (optional for kids)
Spring onions (scallions), finely sliced, to serve

Place noodles in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water. Stand for 2 minutes. Separate noodles with a fork. Drain in a large colander and set aside.
Heat oil in a wok over high heat until just smoking. Add carrot and capsicum, and stir-fry for 1–2 minutes. Remove from wok.
Add reserved sticky teriyaki glaze and reserved cooked tsukune. Simmer on a high heat for 6 minutes until sauce is reduced and thickened, and tsukune are warmed through and glistening.
Stir through prepared noodles and bok choy and toss over medium heat for 1–2 minutes until noodles are heated through and bok choy has wilted. Return carrot and capsicum to the wok. Divide amongst four bowls, scatter with sesame seeds, chilli and spring onions and serve immediately.

  • You can vary this recipe easily by replacing the bok choy with chopped baby spinach; or by adding bean shoots or steamed broccoli florets.

The frying Dutchman

[Recipe 1] VEAL OSSO BUCO transforms into
[Recipe 2] DUTCH VEAL CROQUETTES
……………..
A couple of weeks ago, on the road to Bendigo for my mum’s 70th birthday with a car-load of fellow Dutch folks, we passed a hand-painted sign on the side of the Calder highway and a collective shriek rang out in the car: ‘DUTCH KROKETS $5’.
I skidded to a halt and we just about bolted inside. Jos and Coby Jansen, the proprietors of the tiny Junction Hotel (built in 1874) in Ravenswood, have a menu of house-made Dutch specialities including poffertjes (tiny pancakes), uitsmijters (soft bread, ham and a fried egg) and Krokets.
Dutch veal croquettes (Hollandse kalfs kroketten) are one of my favourite Dutch fast-food treats. My dad often cranked up the deep fryer to make a batch for lunch. There are food vans all over Holland selling the ubiquitous Broodje Kroket – a soft white roll stuffed with French mustard and a crunchy deep-fried log, containing the most delicious molten, creamy, meaty filling. In Amsterdam krokets can be bought warm from little vending machines, nestled individually on squares of kitchen paper.
Coby from the Junction Hotel was lovely enough to share her kroket recipe with me; which I’ve modified slightly to make for a more chunky, meaty filling. Also, instead of making them from scratch, I first made a beautiful (even if I do say so myself) Veal Osso Buco, which we scoffed for dinner with a mound of creamy parmesan mashed potatoes. The addition of orange zest to the Osso Buco intensifies the flavour and cuts through the richness, alleviating the need for a zesty accompaniment like gremolata.
By saving a couple of chunks of the Osso Buco, (see the orange diamonds in the recipe for details); you can whip up a batch of Dutch veal croquettes easily. Oh my gawd they’re so good. The only tricky bit is the double-breading but this is important for the crisp-factor, and also to ensure they don’t split open during cooking.
Eet smakelijk iedereen (eat well everyone)!

Dutch krokets sign

Veal Osso Buco[Recipe 1] Veal Osso Buco

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1½ kilos (3 lb) humanely-farmed veal shanks, osso buco-style (cut into thick 2½ cm/1-inch slices)
3 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra
2 brown onions, finely chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped into small pieces
2 sticks celery, thinly sliced
75g (2½ oz) bacon, fat removed, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup (250ml) red wine
400g (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1½ cups (375ml) beef stock
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
Salt and freshly-cracked pepper
Creamy parmesan mashed potatoes, to serve
Chopped flat-leaf parsley to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Place veal shank pieces and flour in a large plastic bag. Toss to coat, and shake off excess flour.
Heat oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook veal in batches (adding a splash more oil when required) for 3 minutes each side until well-browned. Transfer to a plate.
Add onion, carrot, celery and bacon to the pot, and 1 tablespoon more oil if required. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes or until vegetables start to soften. Stir occasionally. Add garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes, uncovered, stirring regularly. Return veal to the pot. Add wine, bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes.
Transfer vegetables, veal and juices to a large oven-proof, flame-proof pot.
Combine tomatoes, stock, orange zest, oregano and tomato paste. Pour over veal and vegetables. Season.
Cover tightly with foil (or a lid, with foil underneath) and cook in pre-heated oven for 1½ hours. Test to see whether veal is tender. If not, return to the oven for a further 15 minutes and check again. The meat should be falling off the bones.
If there is a bit too much liquid, place pan on the stove-top and simmer, uncovered, for a further ten minutes.
Reserve 2–3 cooked veal pieces for the Dutch veal croquettes. You’ll need about 1½ cups/350g (¾ lb) of actual meat, so roughly break it away from the bones and plonk it in a cup (or weigh it) to make sure you reserve enough!
Serve osso buco on a bed of creamy parmesan mashed potatoes, scattered with parsley.

  • Osso Buco can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge and should be used within three days; or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Leftover pan juices from stews like this can be blended and turned into a lovely rich soup for lunch. Add a bit of leftover shredded meat and vegie chunks after blending.
  • When using store-bought stock, I love Moredough Kitchens variety (available from independent food stores, delis and butchers all over Australia). It’s real stock, sealed in a pouch, with nothing yucky added. Definitely worth the expense. The veal stock is fab. And no, they didn’t pay me for my testimonial! I find supermarket chicken stock is mostly fine (I prefer Campbells), but supermarket beef stock is too overpowering and caramel-ish in a dish like osso buco. Moredough stock has a more subtle, home-made flavour.

Dutch veal croquettes

[Recipe 2] Dutch veal croquettes (Hollandse kalfs kroketten)

Ingredients (serves 4, makes 12 croquettes):
60 grams (2 oz/½ stick) butter
½ cup (75g) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 eschalot (shallot/scallion), finely chopped
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock, store-bought or home-made
1 cup (250ml) milk
1 sachet (10g/3 teaspoons) powdered gelatin*
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2–4 pieces reserved veal osso buco, finely chopped (about 1½ cups/350g/¾ lb)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, very finely chopped
Vegetable or sunflower oil for deep-frying
French mustard, to serve
Coating:
1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour extra, for dusting (plus extra if required)
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup dry breadcrumbs

Make a roux by melting the butter in a small saucepan. Gently stir fry the eschalot until soft. Gradually stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until a paste forms.
Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in the stock. Simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring thoroughly, until the sauce is smooth and thick.
Add gelatin, nutmeg and mustard to the saucepan, stirring.
Add reserved, chopped Veal Osso Buco.
Season, and stir through parsley. Mix together thoroughly then transfer to a container with a lid and allow to cool completely, in the fridge.
Roll about 12 little sausage-shaped logs from the mixture, each about 3½cm (1½-inch) thick and about 7½cm (3-inch) long.
Double-coat the croquettes. Dredge each croquette in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip into egg and coat well with the breadcrumbs. Refrigerate the croquettes for at least 15 minutes to help the coating adhere. Repeat the entire coating process so that each croquette gets two coats of flour, egg and breadcrumbs.
Deep-fry the croquettes in two batches at 180°C (350ºF) for approximately 3 minutes, until golden brown. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test whether the oil is ready by dropping a few breadcrumb lumps in the pot. They should sizzle as soon as they hit the oil.
Drain croquettes on kitchen paper and serve immediately, slathered with French mustard.

  • Dutch veal croquettes can be frozen, uncooked. Deep-fry from frozen for 4 minutes.
  • Croquettes are best eaten immediately. They don’t stand up to re-heating in the oven as they lose their beautiful crispiness. Believe me, I’ve tried!
  • Croquettes are excellent for a party. Double the quantity and make bite-sized croquette balls (‘bitterballen’ in Dutch). Deep-fry for 2–3 minutes, and serve on toothpicks with French mustard.
  • I’ve used powdered gelatin as it’s more readily available (and it removes the temptation for me to visit the Essential Ingredient where I always manage to empty my wallet). I reckon it’s worth using gelatin leaves when making delicate desserts like panna cotta, but for rustic croquettes, powdered gelatine is absolutely fine. If you insist on using gelatin leaves though, 1 sachet (8g/3 teaspoons) powdered gelatin is roughly equivalent to four gelatin leaves.

Rowdy, with a chance of meatballs

Dish for rings and jewelry[Recipe 1] BEEF, PORK and RICOTTA MEATBALLS transforms into
[Recipe 2] OVEN-BAKED TOMATO, SPINACH and MEATBALL RISOTTO

……………..
Nothing elicits a louder YUM from my boys at dinnertime than meatballs. These are lovely and light with the addition of ricotta. You’ll end up with four lots of beef, pork and ricotta meatballs with this recipe, so you can bung the rest in the freezer and defrost when required.
The trick with meatballs is to work the mixture with your hands first. The heat from your hands will soften the fat and help the mixture come together, preventing your meatballs from falling apart during frying. I take off my rings for this gross task, and place them in my little crying onion dish.
Recipe two is a fab Oven-baked tomato, spinach and meatball risotto, using reserved beef, pork and ricotta meatballs. Look for the orange diamonds in the recipe for hints on how many meatballs to set aside for this dish. This baked risotto is super-quick to make as there is virtually no stirring required. I know risotto purists will scoff, but I love a no-stir risotto. I’d much rather have a nice glass of red while my dinner cooks itself.

Meatballs with tomato pasta sauce

[Recipe 1] Beef, pork and ricotta meatballs

Ingredients (makes 100 meatballs; serves 4 for 4 meals):
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for frying meatballs
3 brown onions, very finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 kilo (2 lb) minced (ground) beef
500g (1 lb) minced (ground) pork
125g (4.5 oz) Parmesan cheese, finely grated
250g (½ lb) fresh ricotta
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3 eggs, beaten
1½ cups (125g) fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
1½ teaspoons salt
For tonight’s dinner:
1⅓ cups (600g) tomato pasta sauce (store-bought or home-made)
400g (14 oz) dried spaghetti
Extra grated Parmesan cheese, to serve 

Heat olive oil in a non-stick frypan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Place into a large bowl and allow to cool. Add minced meat, Parmesan, ricotta, parsley, eggs, breadcrumbs and salt. Using your hands, mix and squash the mixture together until well combined.
Using your hands, roll level tablespoons of the mixture into balls. Divide meatballs into 4 lots (approx. 650g/1.4 lb or approx. 25 meatballs for each lot), placing baking paper between each layer. Freeze or refrigerate until required.
Reserve one quantity (approx. 600g/1.3 lb) of beef, pork and ricotta meatballs for the tomato and basil risotto with meatballs.
Heat extra olive oil in a large non-stick frypan, over medium heat.
Fry tonight’s meatballs in two batches until browned and just cooked, approximately 8 minutes. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Wipe pan clean and pour in tomato pasta sauce. Add meatballs. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in boiling water until al dente. Drain.
Serve meatballs and tomato sauce warm, over spaghetti, scattered with Parmesan cheese.

  • Humanely-farmed veal can be used in place of pork.
  • Uncooked meatballs can be frozen for up to 3 months. Place baking paper between the layers. Defrost overnight in the fridge and drain on kitchen paper.
  • To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, remove the crusts from day-old sourdough bread and coarsely chop. Whiz in a food processor. Fresh breadcrumbs can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Instead of 4 lots of meatballs, use the mixture for 3 lots of meatballs and 1 lot of burgers. Simply shape 1 portion of the mixture into 4 or 6 patties and freeze until required. These burgers are delicious cooked on the BBQ. Serve in hamburger buns with lettuce, tasty cheese and tomato relish or caramelised red onion jam.
  • 
If you don’t have a deep-sided non-stick pan; cook the meatballs in a shallow-sided non-stick pan first; and transfer them to a deeper pan for cooking in the sauce.

Baked risotto with meatballs

[Recipe 2] Oven-baked tomato, spinach and meatball risotto

Ingredients (serves 4):
2 tablespoons olive oil
♦ 1 quantity (approx. 600g/1.3 lb) beef, pork and ricotta meatballs
1 small red (purple/Spanish) onion, chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped (approx. 5mm/1/4-inch cubes)
1½ cups (315g) arborio rice
400g (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock (store-bought or home-made)
3 cups (100g) baby spinach leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese to serve
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick frypan, over medium heat.
Fry meatballs in two batches until browned and just cooked, approximately 8 minutes. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in an oven-proof (preferably cast iron) pot, on the stove-top. Add onion and carrot and cook for 5 minutes, until onion is softened.
Add rice and cook for a further 2–3 minutes, stirring, until grains are well-coated. Add tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil. Remove from stove-top. Cover pot, and transfer to the oven.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pot from oven and gently stir in cooked meatballs, spinach salt and pepper. Return pot to oven and cook for a further 10–15 minutes or until liquid is mostly absorbed, spinach is wilted and rice is tender.
Serve, scattered with Parmesan and parsley.

Dill-icious

[Recipe 1] FLATHEAD FILLETS with CANNELLINI MASH and DILL GREMOLATA
transforms into

[Recipe 2] PANKO-CRUMBED SALMON CAKES
……………..
How was your weekend? Mine was ace. My sister and I celebrated my mum’s 70th with an overnight stay in Bendigo, so we could see the Grace Kelly exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery. Mum was a young girl in Holland when Grace married Prince Rainier, and kept a scrapbook full of pictures of Her Serene Highness. The exhibition was gorgeous. If you have a free weekend before June 17th, I highly recommend it. Grace’s late 60s and 70s frocks by Mark Bohan (for Christian Dior) were works of art. One in particular had such a towering head-piece it necessitated Grace sitting on the floor of a van to be transported to her soiree! Loved spending quality time with my mum and step-dad; and with my sister too, without four little boys under-foot (my sis also has two sons). We actually managed to conduct more than one uninterrupted, meaningful conversation. Amazing! Now for some dinner…
These two recipes are a fab way to have your recommended two fish meals a week. First up is Flathead fillets with cannellini mash and dill gremolata. Adding cannellini beans to potato mash makes for a lovely creamy mash; high in fibre, protein and B Vitamins. It’s an ace way to add legumes to your diet. Set aside a couple of cups of the mash and some dill gremolata (see orange diamonds for exact quantities to reserve); and you can make scrumptious Panko-crumbed salmon cakes later in the week. Have a most excellent Easter or Passover folks.

Flathead fillets with cannellini bean mash and dill gremolata

[Recipe 1] Flathead fillets with cannellini mash and dill gremolata

4 x 120g (4 oz) flathead (or other firm white fish) fillets
½ cup plain (all-purpose) flour for dusting
1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
DILL GREMOLATA
1 tablespoon lemon zest, chopped
½ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped dill
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
CANNELLINI MASH
1¼ kilos (2½ lb) peeled, chopped, mashing potatoes (see suggestions below recipe)
1 garlic clove extra, crushed
1 tablespoon (15g/½ oz) butter, chopped
½ cup (125ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 x 400g (15 oz) cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil, extra

Place flathead fillets in a plastic bag with the flour. Seal the bag with your hand, and shake gently to coat. Remove flathead fillets, shaking off excess flour. Refrigerate, covered, until required.
Make the dill gremolata by combining the lemon zest, parsley, dill and 2 cloves garlic.
Reserve 4 tablespoons dill gremolata for the panko-crumbed salmon cakes.
Set aside the remainder.
Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until soft. Drain and return potatoes to pan. Add the extra garlic, butter, milk, salt and pepper to the potatoes and mash well.
Blend beans and olive oil with a stick blender (or food processor) until smooth. Stir the pureed beans through the potato mash. Cover the saucepan and set aside.
Reserve 2½ cups cannellini mash (about 625g) for the panko-crumbed salmon cakes.
Heat oil and pan-fry the flathead fillets for about 2 to 3 minutes each side, until light golden.
Reheat tonight’s cannellini mash in the saucepan, on a low heat, adding a dash of extra milk if required.
Place a mound of warm cannellini mash on each plate. Top with flathead fillets and scatter with dill gremolata. Serve with steamed broccollini or asparagus; and wedges of lemon.

  • Planned-overs (reserved mash and dill gremolata) can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge and should be used within two days.
  • Perfect mashing potatoes include desiree, sebago, spunta, marilyn, dutch cream, idaho and coliban.  
  • You can use any firm-fleshed white fish for this dish – try whiting or bream (both are sustainable, as is flathead).

Panko-crumbed salmon cakes

[Recipe 2] Panko-crumbed salmon cakes

2 x 180g (6 oz) cans boneless salmon (pink or red), drained, flaked
♦ 2½ cups (about 625g) reserved cannellini mash
4 tablespoons reserved dill gremolata
1 carrot, grated (on fine zester holes)
¾ cup dry breadcrumbs
½ cup plain (all-purpose) flour for dusting
2 large eggs, beaten
1½ cups panko crumbs
Olive oil for shallow frying

Combine the reserved cannellini mash and reserved dill gremolata in a large bowl.
Add salmon, carrot and dry breadcrumbs. Mix well. Divide and shape mixture into 10 cakes.
Dust cakes in flour, shaking off the excess. Dip into egg and coat well with the panko crumbs.
Refrigerate cakes for at least 30 minutes. Fry in two batches in hot shallow oil until crisp and golden, about 4–5 minutes each side. Drain on kitchen paper.
Serve hot with crusty bread, a simple green salad (or Asian herb and mixed leaf salad), tartare sauce (store-bought or home-made) and lemon wedges.
Makes 10

  • Panko are Japanese bread crumbs. They’re lighter and crispier than Western bread crumbs and are available in Asian grocers and many supermarkets. Replace with cornflake crumbs or dry breadcrumbs if unavailable.
  • Leftover salmon cakes are excellent in lunchboxes. I occasionally make a few tiny ones just for this purpose.
  • FUSSY CHILD TIP: I make smaller fish cakes for the kids, served in little dinner rolls with mayo. You can omit the dill gremolata from small children’s salmon cakes and add plain chopped parsley instead.

Honey, I shrank the burgers

[Recipe 1] SCOTCH EGGS transform into
[Recipe 2] MINI BURGERS with HIDDEN VEGGIES
……………..
This week Scotch eggs morph into tiny Mini burgers. Scotch eggs have long featured on my ‘kooky UK meals to try’ list (along with Toad in the Hole, Spotted Dick and Bubble and Squeak), and a couple of months ago I gave them a burl. Delicious! As we’re coming up to Easter, I figured now was the perfect time to share them.
Scotch eggs are traditionally coated in sausage meat, but I just can’t bring myself to deep-fry a ball of sausage (easier to just rip my arteries out); so I use a mixture of beef and pork mince, which has more flavour, more iron and much less fat! I also throw in some mustard and onion for extra bite.
I’ve experimented with this recipe quite a bit, and although scotch eggs *can* be baked (lightly oiled at 200°C/390ºF for 25 minutes); they’re really much yummier deep-fried, with that lovely crunchy golden coating. I’m not at all adverse to the occasional deep-fried treat!
Double-crumbing is a technique I learned from the Dutch, and it makes for an extra crispy crust, whilst ensuring the scotch eggs don’t split open during cooking.
By making double the beef/pork mixture for the scotch eggs you can whip up a batch of gorgeous little Mini burgers with hidden veggies later. Look for the ♦ orange diamonds within the recipe, for instructions on how much beef/pork mixture to reserve for the burgers.
My beautiful friend, and Japanese culture junkie, Janet, introduced me to the tiny burger snacks at the ubiquitous Breadtop, an Asian bread/pastry chain popping up all over Australia. The bun itself is like a cross between brioche and a puff of air, and it holds a tiny cold hamburger patty, a smear of tomato sauce, a minuscule slice of cheese and a tiny leaf of lettuce. That’s it! Gone in two mouthfuls, but absolutely delicious. You can so easily make them yourself for the kids lunchboxes. Freeze the patties and little buns separately (you can buy the buns in bags of eight at Breadtop, or in bulk from Costco); defrost them overnight, and assemble in the morning. Two per child should suffice. Such a lovely change from boring sandwiches! They’re also perfect for kid’s birthdays, and adult parties (add a teaspoon of fennel seeds with the onion to ramp up the flavour).

Scotch eggs. Via One Equals Two

[Recipe 1] Scotch eggs

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals; ie. 6 scotch eggs + 12 mini burgers):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, very finely chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
500g (1 lb) minced (ground) beef
500g (1 lb) minced (ground) pork
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried, if unavailable)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled

¼ cup plain (all-purpose) flour, for coating
3 eggs, extra, beaten, for coating
1¼ cups dry breadcrumbs, extra, for coating
I litre (34 fl oz) vegetable or peanut oil for deep-frying
Easy spiced tomato chutney (or store-bought chutney), to serve

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 4–5 minutes, until soft. Drain on kitchen paper and allow to cool.
In a large bowl, mix together the cooked onion, mustard, beef, pork, thyme, salt, pepper, ½ cup breadcrumbs and 1 beaten egg. Process until well combined; or mix and mash with your hands.
♦ Reserve half the beef/pork mixture (about 2 cups or 600g/1¼ lb) for the mini burgers.

Divide the remainder of the beef/pork mixture into 6 even portions, patting each piece into a flat oval shape, the size of your palm.
Coat each of the 6 peeled, hard-boiled eggs in flour. Wrap each floured egg evenly in a portion of beef/pork mixture, making sure they are smooth and completely covered.
 Dip each mince-coated egg into the extra beaten egg, then roll gently in breadcrumbs until well-coated. Double-coat by repeating the egg and breadcrumb stages. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, reserving a couple of eggy breadcrumb lumps for testing the oil temperature.
Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Heat vegetable oil in a deep saucepan on the stovetop until it reaches 180°C (350ºF). If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test whether the oil is ready by dropping a breadcrumb lump in the pot. It should sizzle as soon as it hits the oil.
Deep-fry the scotch eggs (in two batches if necessary) for approximately 4–5 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
Remove scotch eggs with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Place on a tray lined with baking paper paper and bake in the hot oven for 7 minutes (this will ensure meat is cooked through).
Serve warm or at room temperature with Easy spiced tomato chutney and a green salad or Green beans and toasted pine-nuts (pictured).

Mini burgers. Via One Equals Two

[Recipe 2] Mini burgers with hidden veggies

Ingredients (serves 4, makes 12 little patties):
1 medium carrot, grated on fine zester holes
1 small zucchini (courgette), grated, chopped, liquid squeezed out with your hands

2 tablespoons oat bran (or wheatgerm)
♦ 2 cups (about 600g/1¼ lb) reserved beef/pork mixture
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

To serve:
12 mini buns or dinner rolls
Butter or baby cos (romaine) lettuce
Thinly sliced cheddar cheese
Tomato sauce (ketchup)

Put carrot, zucchini and oat bran into a large bowl.
Add reserved beef/pork mixture.
Season. Mix and mash it all together well with your hands. Shape mixture into twelve tiny patties, about 5 cm (2″) diameter. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat extra oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry mini burgers until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes each side. Drain on kitchen paper.
Serve mini burgers in little buns with lettuce, sliced cheese and tomato sauce.

  • Cooked patties, and little buns, can be frozen with baking paper between the layers, for up to 3 months. Defrost as required, for lunchboxes.
  • Patties can also be frozen uncooked, for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge.
  • As these patties are tiny, it’s very important to ensure the onion, carrot and zucchini are chopped and/or grated into very small pieces or your burgers will fall apart when cooked. The tiny zester holes on your grater are perfect for carrot. I grate zucchini on the normal grater holes though as it gets too watery. Give the mound of grated zucchini a good extra chop afterwards to make the pieces smaller.
  • You can use this mixture to make four large patties instead of mini burgers. Pop them in the freezer for a quick mid-week dinner.

Miso hungry

[Recipe 1] ROASTED PUMPKIN and MIXED SEED SALAD transforms into
[Recipe 2] SPICED PUMPKIN and CASHEW PATTIES
……………..
This Roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad was inspired by a dish my cousin Katja (hi Kat!) brought over on Christmas Day. Katja’s gorgeous salad was dressed with wholegrain mustard and balsamic vinegar. I’ve made mine a tad Japanese, with a gingery miso dressing.
I love roasted pumpkin salads. They’re great on the day they’re made though, but often a bit mushy the next day, and not so appetising. I transformed this salad into Spiced pumpkin and cashew patties a couple of days later and it took on a whole new life. Look for theorange diamonds within the recipe, for instructions on how much salad you’ll need to reserve for the patties.
Oh, and if you’re hosting a BBQ and need to cater for vegetarians, the salad and patties can be made at once. Lightly fry the patties on the flat section of the BBQ. Cold leftover patties are beautiful served for lunch, in a salad-stuffed roll. Yummmmm.

Roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad

[Recipe 1] Roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad

Ingredients (serves 4–6 for 2 meals):
2 kilos (4 lb) butternut pumpkin, peeled, de-seeded, cut into
2–3cm thick pieces
2 tablespoons peanut oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons pepitas (hulled pumpkin kernels), toasted
2 tablespoons sunflower kernels, toasted
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon poppy seeds, toasted
1 cup chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves, plus extra for serving
Miso dressing:
¼ cup (60g) white miso paste
2 tablespoons (30g) honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Small piece ginger, grated and chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon (15ml) water
1 tablespoon (15ml) Japanese rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Toss pumpkin and oil in a large bowl, until well-coated.
Place pumpkin on two baking trays lined with baking paper. Season. Roast pumpkin, turning once, for 20–30 minutes or until tender and light golden brown. Swap trays half-way through cooking if using two oven shelves. Set pumpkin aside to cool.
Meanwhile, make miso dressing. Place miso paste, honey, soy sauce, ginger and water in a small saucepan and warm, over a low heat, stirring, until miso and honey are dissolved (about 1–2 minutes). Stir in rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. Set aside to cool.
Place roasted pumpkin in a large bowl, add toasted seeds, coriander and dressing and toss gently to coat.
Reserve 3 cups (about 550–600g) roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad for the Spiced pumpkin patties.
Scatter salad with extra with coriander.

  • You can turn this salad into a main meal by serving it with brown rice or fresh tuna (preferably Skipjack tuna, as it’s more sustainable than Yellowfin). You’ll need a 120g (4 oz) tuna fillet per person. Brush the tops of the tuna with some of the miso dressing, and bake in a 200°C (390ºF) oven for about 20 minutes, until just cooked. You can cook these in your already-heated oven while the pumpkin is cooling.
  • Miso paste is found in Asian Grocers and health food shops. Store miso paste in a sealed container in the fridge. It has a very long storage life, but over time the flavour will deteriorate, so use it up within a couple of months. Mix a tablespoon of miso into a cup of hot water and sprinkle with chopped chives for an individual, super-easy, serve of soup.
  • Japanese rice wine vinegar is readily available from large Supermarkets and Asian food stores.
  • Fussy kid tip: For children who won’t touch pumpkin, roast some potato chunks and thick carrot slices for them at the same time as the pumpkin. Serve with tuna fillets (see tip above).

Spiced pumpkin, chickpea and cashew patties

[Recipe 2] Spiced pumpkin and cashew patties

Ingredients (serves 4–6):
400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed; or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
½ cup (75g) unsalted cashews, toasted, and roughly chopped
3 spring onions (scallions), green parts only, chopped
1 egg, lightly whisked
1½ cups (185g) dried breadcrumbs, plus extra if required
2 tablespoons (30ml) sweet chilli sauce, plus extra to serve
3 cups (about 550–600g) reserved roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad
2 tablespoons peanut oil
To serve with patties:
Sweet chilli sauce
Asian mixed leaf salad (pictured), or simple green salad

Place chickpeas, cashews, spring onions, egg, breadcrumbs and chilli sauce in a large bowl.
Add reserved roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad.
Mix and mash it all together well with your hands, adding more bread crumbs if the mixture feels too wet.

Shape mixture into twelve patties. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry Pumpkin and cashew patties until golden brown, about 4 minutes each side. Drain on kitchen paper.
Serve Spiced pumpkin and cashew patties with a simple green salad or Asian mixed leaf salad; and sweet chilli sauce on the side.

  • Leftover ginger can be grated and frozen in 1-tablespoon blobs, wrapped in cling film; ready to use when required.
  • Fussy kid tip: Moosh up 2 or 3 of the patties and add a small 95g (3 oz) can of drained tuna. Mix well and re-shape into patties. Prepare as above. You’ll be surprised how these patties will be inhaled by even the fussiest of children!

Rice and easy

[Recipe 1] NO-STIR CHICKEN and ROAST PUMPKIN RISOTTO transforms into
[Recipe 2] CRISPY RISOTTO BALLS
……………..
We’re back from a week on the Mornington Peninsula. All that beach-going and relaxation was rather nice; although I did manage to scorch a large hot pink triangle on my chest region (after forgetting the sun screen on that one darn spot). The 7 year old said it made me look like a super hero. The 4 year old required a trip to hospital after being stung by a bee on his foot, which blew up like a balloon. He consequently spent most of his beach days being dragged around in a blow-up boat. So… we’re home and exhausted.
Time for an easy recipe methinks. Hello No-stir chicken and roast pumpkin risotto. A mum from my son’s school (hi Gab!) got me hip to the no-stir method. Risotto purists should avert their gaze. Instead of ladling incremental amounts of hot stock, and stirring and checking every 5 minutes; you can be grating the Parmesan and chopping the parsley while it practically cooks itself. Excellent!
Reserve some of the risotto as planned-overs (look for the orange diamonds within the recipe) and whip up a batch of scrumptious Crispy risotto balls the next day.
PS. Had to share my beautiful vintage happy flower fabric, a pressie from my friend Meagan. One day it will become an apron or skirt, but for now it makes a spiffy tablecloth!

Vintage flower fabricNo-stir chicken and roast pumpkin risotto. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 1] No-stir chicken and roast pumpkin risotto

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1 tablespoon olive oil
350g (12 oz) peeled, de-seeded butternut pumpkin, chopped into 1cm (½“) cubes (start with 500g/1 lb unpeeled pumpkin)
2 tablespoons olive oil, extra
4 skinless chicken thigh fillets (about 500g/1 lb), chopped into 1cm (½-inch) cubes
2 small brown onions, finely diced
3 cups (650g) arborio or carnaroli rice
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup fresh corn kernels (cut from 1 large cob/ear)
8 cups (2 litres) chicken stock, store-bought or home-made
1 cup frozen peas (or fresh podded peas – see notes)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (100g) grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Toss the pumpkin cubes in 1 tablespoon olive oil and roast for 20–25 minutes until cooked through. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the extra olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the chicken and onion over a medium heat for 5 minutes, until onion is soft and chicken is cooked through.
Add the rice and garlic and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for 2–3 minutes.
Add the corn kernels and 4 cups of stock. Stir once, cover, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until stock is absorbed. Sneak a peek after 8 minutes, to make sure it isn’t sticking.
Add peas and remaining stock. Return to the boil and simmer, covered, for a further 10 minutes. Gently stir through the roast pumpkin, Parmesan and parsley. Season well with salt and pepper.
Reserve 5 cups (about 1.2 kilos) chicken and roast pumpkin risotto for the crispy risotto balls.
Serve risotto, scattered with extra parsley.

  • Planned-overs (reserved risotto) can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Fresh peas can be used, instead of frozen. Add these with the corn kernels.

  • Roast some extra pumpkin with a couple of quartered red onions and you’ll have an instant salad for dinner (or lunch) tomorrow. Toss with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing; and scatter with cracked black pepper and basil leaves.
  • Freeze leftover parsley stalks, and use in sweet tomato pasta sauce or home-made chicken stock.

Crispy risotto balls. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 2] Crispy risotto balls

Ingredients (serves 4, makes 25–30 balls):
♦ 5 cups (about 1.2 kilos) reserved chicken and roast pumpkin risotto
¾ cup dry breadcrumbs, plus 2 cups extra for coating
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup olive oil for shallow frying
Sea salt
Chilli mayo or sriracha mayo, to serve

Place reserved chicken and roast pumpkin risotto into a large bowl. Break up risotto roughly with a knife, add ¾ cup breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly.
Shape mixture into about 25–30 golfball-sized balls. Dip into beaten egg; then lightly roll in the extra breadcrumbs. Refrigerate up to 4 hours, until required.
Heat oil in a deep frying pan until shimmering. Fry risotto balls in 3–4 batches until crisp and golden, about 4 minutes. Roll the balls around in the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs, to ensure they brown evenly. Drain on paper towel.
Sprinkle with salt, and serve hot with chilli mayo or sriracha mayo, and a simple green salad. Yum.

  • You’ll need sriracha chili sauce for sriracha mayo, which is available at Asian food stores. The authentic version, made by Huy Fong Foods in California, is available in Australia at USA Foods.

Life is a crabaret

[Recipe 1] UDON NOODLE, SPINACH and SESAME SALAD transforms into
[Recipe 2] CRAB FRITTERS with CUCUMBER SALAD
……………..

Udon noodle, spinach and sesame salad
is one of our favourite light Summer dinners. The boys love slurping up the slippery noodles – my 4-year old describes this act as ‘food rushing into my face’. So cute. Chopsticks and a large jug of iced green tea (or iced brown Heineken) are the only table accoutrements you’ll need.
Reserve the specified portion of noodles and spinach, and some of the ponzu dressing, as planned-overs (see the orange diamonds within the recipe); and you can create fab Crab fritters with cucumber salad later in the week. These fritters are adored by my boys, especially when I refer to them as ‘crabby patties’ (if you’re a Spongebob fan – and who isn’t – you’ll know what I mean).

Udon noodle and sesame salad

[Recipe 1] Udon noodle, spinach and sesame salad

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
540g (just over 1 lb – the nearest pack size will be fine) dried udon noodles
150g (5 oz) baby spinach leaves, chopped
1 small continental cucumber, cut into spears
1 avocado, sliced
2 x 125g (4 oz) cans tuna slices in oil, drained (or 2 x 185g/6 oz cans tuna chunks in olive oil, drained, flaked)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
Pink pickled ginger, chopped, to serve
Ponzu dressing (note: you’ll be reserving 3 tbs for the cucumber salad in recipe 2):
100ml (3½ fl oz) Japanese rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons (30ml) soy sauce
1 tablespoon (15ml) lime juice
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Cook noodles in boiling water until tender (about ten minutes, or according to packet instructions). Add spinach to saucepan in last three minutes of boiling time. Drain. Refresh under cold water. Drain again.
Reserve 2 cups (about 375g/¾ lb) cooked noodles and spinach for the crab fritters.
Meanwhile, make ponzu dressing. Place all ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake until combined.
Reserve 3 tablespoons (45ml) ponzu dressing for the cucumber salad
.
Place remaining noodles and spinach (about 1 kilo/2 lb) in a large bowl. Add remaining ponzu dressing and toss gently.
Divide noodles between four bowls. Arrange cucumber spears, avocado and tuna slices on top. Scatter with toasted sesame seeds and pickled ginger.

  • Refrigerate and use Recipe 1 planned-overs within 3 days.
  • You can easily vary the udon noodle salad toppings, although the toasted sesame seeds are a must! Lightly steamed asparagus is a lovely addition, as is leftover roasted sweet potato. I often replace the canned tuna slices with char-grilled (charbroiled) fresh tuna or salmon.
  • Japanese rice wine vinegar and pickled ginger are readily available from large Supermarkets and Asian food stores.
  • You can toast your own sesame seeds, or cheat and buy them pre-roasted from Asian food stores.

Udon noodle crab cakes

[Recipe 2] Crab fritters with cucumber salad

Ingredients (serves 4):
3 eggs
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
♦ 2 cups (about 375g/¾ lb) reserved cooked noodles and spinach, roughly chopped

1 cup dried breadcrumbs
2 x 170g (6 oz) cans crab meat, well drained (or 250g/½ lb fresh crab meat, chopped)
3 spring onions, green ends only, chopped
½ cup chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
¼ cup peanut oil for shallow frying
Chilli mayo, to serve

Cucumber salad:
1 continental cucumber, very finely sliced
¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
¼ cup chopped coriander (coriander) leaves, extra

♦ 3 tablespoons (45ml) reserved ponzu dressing

Whisk eggs, fish sauce and chilli sauce together in a large bowl.
Add reserved cooked noodles and spinach
. Stir in breadcrumbs, crab meat, spring onions and coriander. Shape mixture into 10–12 fritters. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, if time permits.
Fry crab fritters in two batches in hot shallow oil, for 2–3 minutes each side, until golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
Meanwhile, make the salad by placing cucumber, chilli flakes and extra coriander in a bowl.
Add reserved ponzu dressing. Toss to combine.
Serve crab fritters with chilli mayo and cucumber salad.

  • Crab fritters are best eaten immediately.
  • Chilli mayo is super easy to make and goes beautifully with these crab fritters. My 7-year old prepares this, while I’m preparing the fritters.
  • Peanut oil is best for shallow and deep frying, because of its high smoke point (the ability to sustain high heat without smoking); however you can also use vegetable oil.
  • My boys love their crab fritters in soft round rolls with lettuce, thinly sliced avocado and chilli mayo.