Saturday, 20 July 2013

Paella done on the Barbecue

Paella is one of those dishes that you can have on cold winter's night to warm the soul or on a hot summer's night with friends/family. No matter what time of year, there is always time for Paella. You can cook Paella in most large heavy based saucepans, but the best and traditional way is done in a Paella pan.

Paella pans can range from small to extremely large. The one shown on the right is a 40cm diameter Paella pan. Obviously the bigger the pan, the bigger the cooker you need. You want to make sure the pan is heated evenly, otherwise the whole Paella wont be cooked. I don't have a big enough cook top or gas burner to cover the whole pan. I used our barbecue as the cook top and it worked perfectly.

Paella is more or less a seafood risotto. You can use basically any seafood for a Paella, just remember to use fish that are local and sustainable. A great website for sustainable seafood within Australia is - This website lists available Australian seafood and the impact it has on the environment and the impact on the fish. Choose seafood that is sustainable and say no to overfishing, destructive fishing gear and poor aquaculture practices.

Paella is great party food, granted it takes time to prepare and cook, but the end result is well worth it. Paella is best served outdoors with a beer in hand with friends/family.

Serves 4-6

What you need:
125ml white wine
2 red onions, finely chopped
12-16 mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed
125ml olive oil
1 rasher bacon, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic
1 red capsicum, seeded and finely chopped
1 tomato, peeled and chopped
90g chorizo, thinly sliced
pinch cayenne pepper
225g paella or short-grain rice
500ml chicken stock
85g peas
12 prawns, peeled and de-veined, tails left intact
2 squid tubes, cut into rings
115g white fish fillets, skinned and cut into pieces
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

How to:
1) Heat wine and two-thirds of the onion in a saucepan. Add the mussels, cover and gently shake the pan for 5 minutes over high heat. Remove from the heat, discard any mussels that did not open and drain, reserving the liquid. Heat the oil in a large heavy based frying pan (or Paella pan), add the remaining onion, bacon, garlic and capsicum, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomato, chorizo and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the reserved liquid, then add the rice and stir again.

2) Stir stock into the rice mixture. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and gently simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes without stirring.

3) Put the peas, prawns, squid and fish on top of the rice. Push them in, cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, turning the seafood over halfway through cooking time, until the rice is tender and the seafood is cooked through. Add the mussels for the last 5 minutes to heat through. If the rice is not quite cooked, add extra stock and cook for a few more minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Chilli Caramel Sauce

I don't mind chillies at all. I don't like those hot dishes that are so hot, it is so unbearable to eat. Just a couple little facts about the glorious chilli. Many people believe that it is the seeds in the chilli that make it hot. Sorry to burst your bubble but they aren't the part of the chilli which makes it hot.

What gives chillies their heat is a chemical called Capsaicin. It is found primarily in the membrane of the chilli. The common misconception that the seeds are the hottest part is due to the membrane being more prominent around the seed.

The heat of a chilli is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Just to give you an idea, an ordinary regular Capsicum is 0 SHU, a Jalapeño is between 3500 - 8000 SHU and the small Thai chilli (photo to the right - home grown) is between 50,000 - 100,000 SHU. HOT!

There is so many ways to use chillies. I have made home made hot sauce, yes with the Thai chillies. It is made from garlic, vinegar salt and chillies - very simple, very hot. You only need a couple drops to make a meal turn hot. Today I made a Chilli Caramel Sauce. Sweet, sticky, citrus and a mild hint of heat! I saw it on Masterchef's master-class and thought I would give it a go. My version is slightly different and not as hot.

It goes well with chicken, white fish and crustaceans. It would also be a nice side sauce to a bit of steak. Another simple easy recipe to follow.

Makes approx 250ml

What you need:
250g palm sugar
4 long red chillies, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup of water

How to:
1) Place sugar and water into a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook for about 7-8 minutes or until golden and sticky. Add lime juice and chilli, stir to combine. Put sauce in a glass jar and allow to cool before placing lid on jar.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Tabouli with Quinoa

This year our flat leaf parsley has just gone wild! Even now that it is winter and the frosts are covering the ground, they are still growing really well. Flat Leaf Parsley is a source of antioxidants, folic acid, vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin A. 

Not only is Parsley a great decoration for the plate, but there is so many different ways to use it. You can use it as a sauce, in salad or even in savoury muffins. At home we have so much of the stuff, I decided to make Tabouli (Lebanese Parsley Salad). It is easy and very quick to make. Instead of putting burghul in it, I substitute this with the ancient grain, Quinoa.

Quinoa was first used around 3000 years ago by the Andean people in South America. It is also known by many people as a Superfood with a good source of dietary fibre and phosphorus. Quinoa is also high in magnesium and iron. For those who are lactose intolerant, Quinoa is a source of calcium. 

With this simple Tabouli recipe, you are getting a great source of your daily dietary needs and its very tasty! You can also use this Tabouli recipe in burgers instead of the lettuce. So many ways to use it, just let your mind run crazy!!!

Serves 8

What you need:
1/3 cup Quinoa
2/3 cup water
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 lemon juice
4 cups chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil

How to:
1) Boil water in a small saucepan. When boiling add Quinoa, turn heat down to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain Quinoa and allow to cool.

2) Add all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Serve. EASY!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Home Made Pasta

Pasta is pretty good when bought from the shop, but have you ever tried home made pasta? Once you try it, you will never buy pasta from the shop again. The first time I tried to make home made pasta, I used a rolling pin. Good job to those Italian mamma's for doing it from dawn to dusk with nothing but their hands and muscles!

An essential tool for home made pasta is definitely a pasta machine. From here, depending on what type of pasta machine you buy, you can get attachments and accessories for all kinds of pasta. I cook a lot of fettuccine. Most pasta machines come standard with a fettuccine cutter. If you don't have any attachments, don't worry. You can still make lasagne and handkerchief pasta. You can also use an every day-to-day sharp knife to cut ribbon pasta or uneven fettuccine.

A basic rule to remember is 100g of plain flour to 1 egg and a pinch of salt. This ratio will feed one person. You can always add more flour if the dough is too wet or sticky. Even better, you can always add colour and flavour. For mother's day one year, my nephew and myself made pink pasta just for nanny. Just add a couple drop of food dye to the pasta mixture to make colourful pasta. This is awesome fun with kids.

For more grown up flavoured pasta, you can add, but not limited to, spinach (blended until purée), beetroot juice or even squid/cuttlefish ink. Squid/cuttlefish ink can be expensive. It has a faint taste of squid but not too overpowering. Basically any flavour you can think of, you can add to pasta. Just a tip, if you add more liquid, add a little bit more flour. The pasta will be over sticky and become a pain to get to that silky smooth texture of home made pasta if you don't add that extra flour.

Home made pasta doesn't triple in size like bought pasta and takes about a quarter of the time to cook. So cook it at the last minute. Don't forget, the pasta is the star of a pasta dish so don't overload it with the sauce. I have been told in the past to never put oil in the water while cooking pasta. I found that my pasta stuck together in large clumps. I was watching Masterchef one night and an Italian cook, who has been cooking for over 50 years, put olive oil in his water. I haven't looked back. I will always now put a glug of olive oil in my boiling water to help preventing the pasta sticking. When you drain your pasta, you then toss the pasta in the saucepan with the sauce and serve right away. YUM!

Serves 1 person - times the recipe by the number of people

What you need:
100g Plain Flour
1 Egg
Pinch of Salt
Water and Olive Oil - for cooking

How to:
1) Place flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour and crack the egg in the middle.

2) Mix ingredients together with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together.

3) On a floured service, need the dough until it comes together in a smooth ball. If the mixture is too wet and sticky, add more flour to compensate.

4) Once the dough is in a smooth ball, wrap in plastic and set aside for about 30 minutes (I personally don't refrigerate it as it becomes hard to roll out).

5) Once rested, follow the instructions on your pasta machine to make amazing pasta.

6) Boil a large pot of water with a glug of olive oil. Slowly add your uncooked pasta and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Strain, add to sauce and serve.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Orange Blossom Turkish Delight

I love Turkish Delight, so I thought I would try and cook some myself. When I think Turkish Delight, I think of glucose syrup, which is used in a lot of lolly recipes. But no, there was no pure glucose syrup in this Turkish Delight. 

There aren't too many ingredients in Turkish Delight, but the time it takes to cook is long. Make sure you have a whole week end to do this. I also thought it would be a pain to wash all of the gear when finished. Surprisingly  with a little hot water makes life real easy. The flavour and reward of accomplishment when the final product presents its self is amazing. This sticky, sweet, melt in your mouth little square is surely a delight, Turkish Delight.

Serves 50 little squares

What you need:
1kg granulated sugar
1.1 litres cold water
1 tsp lemon juice
150g cornflour
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 tbsp orange blossom water red and yellow food colouring (mix to make orange)
sunflower oil, for brushing
85g icing sugar

How to:
1) Place the sugar, 375ml of the water and the lemon juice in a large, heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, bring to the boil and boil until the mixture reaches 115 degrees C on a sugar thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat.

2) Blend 115g of the cornflour, the cream of tartar and 250ml of the water in a large heatproof bowl until smooth. Bring the remaining water to the boil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and stir it into the cornflour mixture in the bowl. Return the mixture to the pan, place over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly with a balloon whisk, until the mixture thickens and bubbles.

3) Gradually add the hot syrup, stirring constantly. Bring to the boil and boil gently, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon, for about 1.5 hours, or until the mixture is pale golden. Stir in the orange blossom and enough orange food colouring to tint the mixture pale orange. Pour into a 23cm square cake pan lightly brushed with oil and set aside for 12 hours.

4) Combine the icing sugar and the remaining cornflour in a shallow dish. Cut the Turkish Delight into approx 2.5cm squares using an oiled knife and toss in the sugar mixture. Store in a sealed container with the remaining sugar mixture sprinkled over.

Welcome to my food blog


Welcome to my food blog. I am not a professional chef but I love to cook. I will try to cook anything. Please feel free to browse my blog and check out what I have been up to in the kitchen.