chicken, cauliflower and white truffle pot pie

chicken cauliflower and white truffle pot pie

Chicken and leek on a whole new level.  Try this and there's no looking back ;-)

chicken, cauliflower and white truffle pot pie
Serves 2
You will need an 18x24cm rectangular enamel pie dish

500g chicken thigh (boneless), cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, white section only, finely sliced
150g bacon rashers, chopped
30g butter
6 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
1 tbsp plain flour
250ml chicken stock
60ml verjuice
100g cauliflower florets, lightly steamed
2 tbsp thickened cream
1 tsp white truffle oil
1 sheet shortcrust pastry (I used Carême Sour Cream Shortcrust Pastry)
1 egg, lightly whisked
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 180ºC.

Lay pastry on a flat surface.  Place pie tin, upside-down, on top of the pastry and use the edge of the tin as a guide to carefully cut a piece of pastry to fit on top of the pie.  Set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frypan over high heat.  Add chicken pieces and cook for 2-3 mins until browned.  Remove from pan, reduce heat to low.  Add butter and remaining oil then add leek and bacon and fry for 3-4 mins or until leek is soft.  Whisk in 1 tbsp flour then when combined add stock and verjuice and stir to combine.  Allow to simmer for 3-4 mins or until mixture has thickened.  Remove from heat, stir in chicken pieces, cauliflower florets, cream and truffle oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper then spoon mixture into pie dish. 

Top filling with the pre-cut piece of pastry, use a fork to press the edges down.  Brush the top with the whisked egg, then pop into the oven and bake for 20 mins.  Allow to sit for 5 mins at room temperature before serving.

passionfruit glazed asado with tropical slaw

passionfruit glazed asado

Sometimes I just nail a recipe first time.  Sometimes it takes a few attempts.  Usually if it takes more than three goes I'll scrap it - truth be told I just don't have the patience or attention span.  But there was something about beef and passionfruit combo that I just couldn't shake and I'm relieved that after 5 attempts I've finally got it right.  

Yup, this unique flavour combo has been re-incarnated many times.  The first 3 attempts as beef cheeks (not enough passionfruit, too much liquid in the braise, too little liquid in the braise.  You get the idea).  I was complaining to my bestie about how this recipe was sending me broke - with passionfruit at $2 a pop my relentless attempts to make it work were sending us broke.

Until she suggested tinned passionfruit.  GENIUS.  There is something about tinned fruit that weirds me out a bit, but unwilling to re-finance our house to buy more fresh passionfruit I thought I'd give it a go.  And I also decided to change the cut to asado, as a homage to my beautiful bestie and her Argentinian roots.

The tropical coleslaw really freshens this dish up, with the acidity from passionfruit and verjuice cutting through the sweet, fattiness of the ribs.

passionfruit glazed asado with tropical slaw
Serves 4

1.5 kg asado (beef short ribs), cubed (cut between the bones)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, quartered
1 head of garlic, sliced horizontally
25g ginger, julienned
140g tomato paste
170g tin passionfruit in syrup
1L chicken stock
1/3 cup brown sugar
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

TROPICAL SLAW
1/4 red cabbage
1/4 white cabbage
2 tbsp Kewpie mayonnaise
1 tsp caster sugar
Pulp from 2 fresh passionfruit
1 tbsp verjuice

Preheat a fan forced oven to 130ºC.

Toss beef cubes in oil, season generously with salt and pepper.  Heat a casserole dish over a high heat.  In batches, brown beef cubes.  Remove from pan.  Reduce heat to low.  Add onion, garlic and ginger and fry, stirring, for 2 mins.  Add tomato paste and stir to combine, cooking for a further 2 mins.  Add tinned passionfruit and syrup and chicken stock, then add browned beef cubes.  Turn heat back up to high and bring to a boil then place the lid on and pop into the oven for 2 hours or until beef is meltingly tender.

Remove beef pieces from the liquid, set aside.  Strain liquid through a fine sieve, discard solids.  Wipe down casserole dish then return strained braising liquid to the clean dish.  Whisk in brown sugar, than place over a high heat and bring to the boil.  Allow mixture to simmer, reducing down to about 1/3 of the volume.  Return meat to the reduced mixture, tossing gently to coat.

Increase oven temperature to 160ºC fan.

Line a baking tray with 2 layers of foil.  Spread the meat and the glaze evenly over the tray then pop into the oven for 40 mins, turning the meat at halfway.  

Meanwhile, to make the tropical slaw combine mayo, caster sugar, passionfruit pulp and verjuice in a small bowl, whisking to combine.  Toss together with the cabbage and serve with the glazed asado.

sobrasada lasagne

sobrasada lasagne

Tried this recipe out with an entire packet of 'Nduja last week, forgetting that it's basically 50% chilli.  Needless to say, I drank about 2L of milk with my 8x8cm square of lasagne and have been scared to take a dump every since.

Unless you have a mouth of steel, I'd highly recommend using sobrasada instead.  It's an insanely delicious, spreadable paprika-spiked chorizo that will give this otherwise vegetarian lasagne a big savoury kick in the pants without rendering your tastebuds unconscious.  

sobrasada lasagne
Serves 6-8

2 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
50g sobrasada (I used Salumi Australia brand)
140g tomato paste
800g tinned crushed tomatoes
3 fresh lasagne pasta sheets
700g sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1.5cm cubes
1 large eggplant, thinly sliced
2 large handfuls baby spinach leaves
60g Gruyere cheese, grated
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

BECHAMEL
75g butter
50g plain flour
750ml milk

To make bechamel heat butter in a medium sized saucepan over low heat.  Once melted, add flour and cook for 2-3 mins (keep stirring it, being careful not to let the mixture brown).  Slowly add the milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, whisking after each addition until all the milk has been added.  Allow to simmer for 20 mins to thicken, whisking occasionally to ensure the sauce doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

Preheat a fan forced oven to 150ºC.  Spread sweet potato cubes evenly over a baking tray, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper then bake for 30 mins or until soft.  Remove from oven then increase temperature to 180ºC fan.

Meanwhile, heat a chargrill pan to very, very hot.  Fry eggplant in batches for 1-2 mins on each side.  Set aside.

Heat remaining oil in a large frypan over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic and saute until onions are opaque.  Add sobrasada, breaking it up with a wooden spoon then stirring through the onion mixture.  Add tomato paste, stir to combine and fry for 2 mins before adding the crushed tomatoes.  Stir then allow to simmer for 10 mins.  Remove from heat.

To assemble the lasagne start with about 1/2 cup of tomato mixture in bottom of a large, ovenproof dish/pan.  Spread to coat the bottom them place a layer of pasta on top.  Spoon 1/3 of the bechamel sauce on top of the pasta sheet, then layer 1/2 the spinach leaves, 1/2 the grilled eggplant and 1/2 the roasted sweet potato.  Spoon over about 1 cup of the tomato mixture and spread gently, then top with a pasta sheet and repeat the bechamel and vegetable layering.  End with the last sheet of pasta, topped with remaining bechamel and sprinkled with cheese.  Season with salt and pepper then bake, covered with foil, for 20 mins, then remove foil and bake for a further 20 mins.  Allow to sit for 20 mins before serving.  

harissa honeyed salmon with garlic shoots

harissahoneyedsalmonwithgarlicshoots.jpg

Sometimes, when I'm really bored, I wander down to our local Asian grocery store and kill a few hours scanning the isles.  I mainly take the piss out of the hirarious lost-in-translation labels but I also have an expensive habit of buying weird and wonderful ingredients.  My intentions are good, but inevitably most are confined to life in the back of our pantry, never to see the light of day until a mega-pantry clean out comes around once every few years.

Thankfully these garlic shoots made it into an actual dish.  I'm so glad I took a chance on them, throwing them into my basket with really no idea what they were but blindly trusting that Google would have the answer to my curiosities.  They are super quick and easy to prepare, just fry in some chicken stock with a little extra something something (garlic and ginger) - their flavour is sweet, reminiscent of roasted onions, but with a bitey texture that goes perfectly with the sweet and spicy salmon.

I paired these with some thick, fresh rice noodles but it is also really nice for lunch the next day, cold with brown rice.  

harissa honeyed salmon with garlic shoots
Serves 2

2 Atlantic salmon fillets
25g butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 tsp harissa
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp finely chopped lemongrass (white section only)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 bunch garlic shoots (about 8 shoots)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
20g young ginger, finely chopped
2/3 cup chicken stock
Thick, fresh rice noodles, to serve

Preheat a fan forced oven to 190ºC.  

Combine butter, sugar and honey in a small saucepan.  Place over high heat, swirling regularly (do not stir with a spoon) until sugar has dissolved.  Remove from the heat, whisk in sun-dried tomato, harissa and olive oil.  

Pre-heat a non-stick frypan to high.  Cook fish, 1 min on each side.  Transfer fish to a foil-lined baking tray, then pour the glaze evenly over both fillets.  Pop into the oven for 8-10 mins or until cooked to your liking.

To prepare rice noodles, place into a large bowl, pour boiling water over the top to submerge, then allow to sit for 5 mins or until softened and warmed through.  Drain.

Meanwhile, heat chicken stock in a large frypan.  When bubbling, drop heat to low-medium, add garlic and ginger and allow to cook for 2 mins for flavours to infuse.  Add garlic shoots (you can also cut these up into smaller pieces for ease of cooking)  and cook for 2-3 mins or until softened. 

Serve baked salmon with rice noodles and garlic shoots.

boozey wagon wheel milkshake

boozey wagon wheel milkshake

I feel the need to start this post with a confession.  Something I'm not very proud of.  Something that puts my ancestors to shame.  I haven't always been this way but recent, dramatic lifestyle changes have turned me into a complete lightweight.  A Cadbury.  Actually, it wouldn't even take a glass and a half, just the half has me rosy-cheeked these days.  

Post pregnancy it didn't take long to build up my caffeine stamina, mainly due to an unhealthy dependancy on the old flat white as a result of baby aka. severe sleep deprivation.  Surprisingly though, the only bottle I've been hitting hard these days contains Aptamil Gold.

So I've whipped up this delectable drop as training for a friend's Hen's Night this weekend.  If there's nothing I love more than chocolate it's boozey chocolate.  Drink the Wagon Wheel! 

boozey wagon wheel milkshake
Makes 1

2 mini Arnott's Wagon Wheels, plus one to garnish 
1 cup milk
1 large scoop vanilla ice-cream
20ml Chambord
40ml vodka
1 tbsp Powidl (plum jam)
2 ice cubes
4 squares dark chocolate

Combine all ingredients, except dark chocolate, in a blender.  Blitz until very well combined.  

Melt dark chocolate in the microwave, drizzle down sides of a tall glass.  Pour in the milkshake and serve topped with extra Wagon Wheel.

bitsa soup

winter pumpkin lamb soup

This recipe was actually a bit of an accident.  When THBB (The Hungry Babushka Baby) was born my Mum came to stay with us for a few weeks.  I am so grateful this superstar woman, not only for the emotional support but also for helping me around the house (aka. doing everything) while I got my head around our new, little eating and pooping bundle of joy.  10 weeks later and I'm still enjoying my Mum's help, having finally finished the last of the dinners she cooked and stocked our freezer with.  

And that is how this recipe came about.  Having only 1 serving of pumpkin soup and 1 serve of lamb soup left, I asked THBH which he preferred for dinner.  I'll probably get in trouble for saying this (let's see - he says he reads all of my blog posts but this will be a test of his word) but my husband is rather indecisive, with every decision, no matter how small, made with such careful consideration you'd think the future of mankind depended upon it.  Myself, however, I tend to think on my feet so when I still didn't have an answer from him 5 minutes later (but to an impatient person like me seemed like about a week) I just thought "Screw it - I'll mix them both together".  I never anticipated it would be so damn tasty and I must confess, I was mainly motivated by the fact that there would be less washing up to do.  And there you have it - Bitsa Soup (bitsa this, bitsa that) was born!    

This is a really hearty, creamy soup that will fill you up on a freezing Winter night.  

bitsa soup 
Serves 6

1 tbsp rice bran oil
6 lamb forequarter chops
50g butter
2 leeks, sliced
4 rashers bacon, chopped
2 celery sticks, finely sliced
1kg butternut pumpkin, cubed
1 1/2L salt-reduced chicken stock
1 cup cream
250g soup mix (split peas, barley, lentils mix)
300g butter beans

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 160ºC.

Heat rice bran oil in a large frypan over high heat.  Cook lamb chops, two at a time, until well browned.  

Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add leek, bacon and celery and fry, stirring regularly, until leek has softened.  To the saucepan add browned chops pumpkin and chicken stock.  Cover with lid then pop into the oven for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized saucepan add soup mix and cover with 3/4 cup cold water.  Place over a low heat and slowly bring to the boil then cook for 2 mins, drain and set aside.

Remove lamb from soup mixture.  Pick off the meat, discarding any bones and set aside the meat.  Puree the mixture with a stick blender.  Season to taste then stir through cream, cooked soup mix, lamb pieces and beans and place pan over a low heat and cook until beans are soft before serving.

kaffir lime savoury rice pudding with burnt butter

kaffir lime savoury rice pudding burnt butter

This luxurious rice dish is SUPER decadent so you only need a tiny bit, which is a really good thing as there's so many calories in this baby you'd likely balloon out to the size of a house just by glancing sideways at it.  

A savoury rice pudding would be a really interesting talking point at your next dinner party (if people still do these anymore, or am I living in the 80's?).  As is, this is a really beautiful vegetarian dish, but if you wanted to luxe it up even more you could pop a few grilled scallops on top.  

The inspiration for this recipe came from my old mate John from Masterchef Australia.  There is NOTHING I enjoy more than watching someone monumentally f*ck up a risotto on Masterchef.  Really.  So my heart rate spiked when I heard that John was attempting an Asian inspired one.  I was literally about a micrometer from falling off the edge of my chair with the promise of what could be the best TV viewing of the century*.  For those who haven't watched it yet you should probably look away now because here comes the spoiler... he murdered it.  But not before crapping on for an hour about how his idea was doomed to failure (but that he was still going ahead with it anyway) because the creamy consistency would be impossible to achieve due to the lack of cheese - as we all know if an Asian person eats cheese the Earth will fall off it's axis (better delete my Prawn Cracker Nachos - the apocalypse is nigh).

Anyway, here I am to set the record straight with these delicately-perfumed, creamy grains, although I will take John's wise advice and steer clear of the Reggiano.  

 

*this was before I started watching Orange is the New Black.

kaffir lime savoury rice pudding with burnt butter
Serves 8 as an entree

400ml coconut cream
1L vegetable stock
8 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
1 lemongrass stalk, roughly chopped
1 tbsp finely grated ginger
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
450g arborio rice 
80g butter
1 tbsp olive oil
Juice from 1/2 lemon, plus 1 tbsp extra
1/2 tbsp skim milk powder
Sea salt

In a medium-sized saucepan combine coconut cream, vegetable stock, lime leaves, lemongrass and ginger.  Bring to the boil then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 mins for flavours to infuse.  Strain, discarding the solids and reserving the coconut broth.  Season with salt.    

Add coconut oil to a large frypan and melt over a medium heat.  Add onion and very gently sauté, stirring regularly, until the onions just become translucent (you don't want to get any colour on the onions for this recipe).  Add the rice and stir until all the grains are coated, then add the juice from 1/2 lemon and stir until absorbed.  Add coconut broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly and waiting for the rice to absorb all the liquid before the next addition.  After about 20 mins taste the rice - if it is soft, but still a little firm in the middle remove from the heat.  You should still have a little bit of the coconut broth left - keep this.  

To make the burnt butter, heat butter and olive oil in a small frypan over low-medium heat.  Whisk in the skim milk powder and continue to whisk, watching closely until the colour changes to a medium brown, at which point remove the frypan from the heat (the heat in the frypan will continue to cook the butter, taking it to the deep brown shade we want).  Whisk in the extra lemon juice.  

Divide the rice into 8 portions, then pour over burnt butter to serve.

prawn cracker nachos

prawn cracker nachos

I think my husband died on the inside a little bit when I told him we were having Asian nachos for dinner.  Don't get me wrong, I love Asian (hell, I even married one) but if I had to critique them there is one apparent fault - they don't eat cheese.  When one is trying to create an Asian nachos recipe this poses obvious problems for one.

After much deliberation and Googling of "why don't Asians eat cheese" (that's me, never shying away from the hard-hitting questions) I decided that nachos just isn't nachos without cheese, so I apologise in advance for bastardising your cuisine, Asian people. 

prawn cracker nachos
Serves 4 as a snack

500g pork mince
1 tbsp rice bran oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp kecap manis
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp Sriracha 
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic
40g ginger
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp crushed, roasted peanuts
3/4 cup grated tasty cheese
24 prawn crackers, plus about 2 extra, crushed, to serve

Preheat grill to 200ºC.

Heat rice bran oil in a large frypan over medium-high heat.  Add mince, breaking up any lumps with a fork, and stirring for about 3-4 mins or until browned.  Add sauces, garlic and ginger and stir for a further 2-3 mins to combine and heat through.  Remove from heat and stir through spring onions.  

Arrange prawn crackers on a baking tray lined with foil.  Top with mince mixture, then sprinkle cheese over the top in an even layer.  Pop under the grill for 1-2 mins or until cheese melts (you'll want to leave about 15cm distance between the tray and grill or the prawn crackers will burn!).  Sprinkle with bean sprouts, coriander, crushed peanuts and extra crushed prawn crackers to serve.

lemon muskmallow pie

lemon muskmallow pie

Last week I made an impulse supermarket checkout confectionary purchase.  I say that like I don't do this all the time (I do this all the time).  This time it was musk sticks because they were on sale and it reminded me that I have been meaning to create a musk stick-inspired dessert for ages.  

I went home and proceeded to binge eat the musk sticks.  ALL of them.  

With musk sticks on my mind I picked up another pack on the weekend and, miraculously, I was able to resist temptation this time.  If a lemon meringue pie, a musk stick and a marshmallow had a three-way this pie would be their love (triangle) child.  The tartness of the lemon curd is the perfect foil to the cloying sweetness of the musk marshmallow.  

lemon muskmallow pie
Serves 6-8
You will need a candy thermometer for this recipe

BASE
1 packet Malt o' Milk biscuits
90g unsalted butter, melted

LEMON CURD
Zest and juice from 2 lemons
2 eggs plus 2 extra yolks
165g caster sugar
80g cold unsalted butter

MUSKMALLOW
150g caster sugar
170ml glucose syrup
60ml water
8 musk sticks, roughly chopped
Pinch salt
2 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

To decorate:  extra musk sticks, thinly sliced into "stars", pink Persian fairy floss, edible glitter.

To make base, blitz biscuits in a food processor until a fine crumb.  Measure out 1 1/2 cups biscuit crumb and mix well with melted butter.  Place your tart tin on top of a baking tray (this will make it easier to move once filled).  Press into the base and sides of a 11 x 35cm rectangular, loose-bottom tart tin (use the bottom of a drinking glass to compact the crumb so it's pressed in pretty firmly).  Pop into fridge to cool.

To make the lemon curd, combine eggs and extra yolks and caster sugar in a medium sized saucepan and whisk until combined.  Put over a low heat, add butter, lemon juice and zest and continue to whisk (don't stop!) until the mixture has thickened.  Pass through a sieve, set aside.

To make muskmallow, in a small saucepan combine sugar, glucose syrup, water, salt and musk sticks.  Place over a high heat, bring to the boil, stirring every now and then, until the mixture reaches 115ºC.  

Meanwhile, place egg whites and cream of tartar in a bowl and use an electric beater to mix on medium speed until soft peaks form.  Set aside.

Once the syrup reaches 115ºC, very slowly pour roughly 2 tbsp into the egg whites (do not add more.  This is just to gently warm the egg - adding too much will cook it!).  Use one hand to very slowly pour the rest of the syrup into the egg, while the other hand beats the egg mixture on medium-high speed (if you have someone around to help pour the syrup while you beat the egg mixture this is a bit easier).  Once the syrup is completely incorporated, continue to beat the eggs until the mixture is thick and shiny - this will take about 8-10 minutes.  Set aside.

To assemble the tart, pour lemon curd into the chilled base then spoon muskmallow over the top.  Pop into the fridge for at least 4 hours to set.  Decorate with fairy floss, musk stick stars and edible glitter.

kanga yakitori

kangayakitori

As much as I have a reputation for being a bit daring in the kitchen, I do tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to meat (or for those who watch Masterchef, proteins).  For our dinners each week, on shopping autopilot I pick up the old faithfuls - chicken, beef, lamb, pork and seafood and throw in some veggies because I am convinced that they cancel out all the chocolate I eat.  My recipes begin with a very loose structure based on flavour parings and a rough idea of how to put it all together which I find is just enough prep to do grocery shopping but not so much that I can't flex a little if I spot something exciting and a new idea sparks.  

This method has always served me well, until two weeks ago when I was madly trying to pack for a holiday, rushing to last minute meetings with a client while juggling (not literally) a cranky pants baby I just didn't have time to develop recipes.  My weekly trip to the supermarket was a bit potluck.  Sometimes we need a bit of mild chaos to jolt us out of a mundane routine, and I'm so glad it did, as I scaled the isles of our local supermarket looking for beef cheeks I instead picked up a packet of kangaroo fillet.  Not having any bloody idea what to do with the things I threw caution to the wind and tossed them into the trolley anyway, excited by the prospect of cooking up a national icon (I'd much rather cuddle a koala than consume one).

Having never cooked skippy before, but remembering it was somewhat like venison, I concluded that some big, heavy-hitting flavours would be needed - soy, lemongrass, chilli.  This is a super easy recipe that can be prepared in advance for an easy mid-week meal or an impressive addition to your next BBQ.  It looks just like beef so it's not too confronting, and super low fat and quite a bit cheaper than beef fillet making it a really attractive option.  

Have you ever tried kangaroo?  What did you think?

kanga yakitori
Makes 16 skewers

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup salad oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 stalk lemongrass, white section only, finely chopped
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
2 tsp grated ginger
1 kg kangaroo fillets, very thinly sliced
Steamed white rice, to serve

Thread kangaroo slices onto skewers (if you are using bamboo skewers you will need to soak them in water for an hour or so beforehand to prevent burning while cooking).    

Combine all other ingredients except rice bran oil in a large, rectangular non-reactive (glass or plastic) container.  Roll skewers in mixture, to coat, then cover and place into fridge to marinate for around 4 hours.  Remove skewers from fridge and allow to come to room temperature about 20 mins before cooking.

Preheat your BBQ.  Cook skewers over a high heat for 3-4 mins or until cooked through.  Serve with rice.

rum-spiked pineapple tarte tatin with caramel yoghurt ice-cream

rum spiked pineapple tarte tatin

First, let me say that this post is not sponsored, consider it more a public service announcement, but I go absolutely bat-shit crazy for five:am yoghurt.  I won't stop there, oh no, let me tell you that the dark caramel flavour is LIFE. CHANGING.

Aside from eating my own body weight in the stuff, I have been thinking about what else to do with it.  I've whacked it into my super moist white chocolate agave muffins but now I'm going to the temperature extreme and going frozen (on the brink of Melbourne's coldest week on record, naturally.  All the cool kids eat ice-cream in the middle of Winter).   

rum-spiked pineapple tarte tatin with caramel yoghurt ice-cream
Serves 2 (with a bit of extra ice-cream for another time)
You will need to begin this recipe the day before

Half large pineapple, skin removed, cut into 1cm-thick slices then cut into wedges
1 sheet puff pastry, cut into 22cm circle (use a plate or cake pan as a guide)
70g caster sugar
40ml dark rum
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
30g butter, cubed

CARAMEL YOGHURT ICE-CREAM
6 egg yolks
120g raw caster sugar
200ml thickened cream
200ml full cream milk
250ml five:am dark caramel yoghurt
1 tsp sea salt flakes

To make caramel yoghurt ice-cream, in a large bowl combine yolks, raw caster sugar and salt.  Use an electric beater to beat until the mixture becomes pale and doubles in volume.  

Combine cream and milk in a medium-sized, heavy-based saucepan over low-medium heat.  Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, then remove from heat and slowly pour over the egg yolk mixture, whisking as you go.  Pass mixture through a fine sieve (discard any eggy bits caught in the sieve), then pour back into the saucepan.  

Prepare a large bowl with ice water.  You will need to place another, smaller bowl inside (you will be pouring the custard mixture into this bowl soon so make sure it's big enough!).  Place saucepan containing custard mixture over a low-medium heat and heat very slowly, using a spatula to continually scrape down the sides.  You'll need to get the mixture to 82ºC so use a kitchen thermometer and watch very, very closely (disregarding these instructions will result in sweet scrambled eggs.  Gross).  The SECOND your custard reaches 82ºC remove from heat, pour mixture into the bowl which is floating on iced water.  You want to stop the cooking process immediately - scrambled egg ice-cream is vomit-worthy (Heston might disagree with me here but I'm not feeling adventurous today).

Transfer the mixture to a chilled bowl of an ice-cream maker and churn for 25-30 mins or until thickened.  You might like to use the ice-cream like this but I prefer to pop it into the freezer for a few hours to harden up.

To make tarte tatin, preheat a fan-forced oven to 170ºC.  Combine caster sugar, rum and vanilla bean paste in an 18cm non-stick, oven-safe frypan then place over medium-high heat and cook until sugar has dissolved.  Add 350g of the pineapple wedges and carefully stir to coat.  Cook for a further 5 mins or until pineapple is soft and caramel is dark golden in colour.  Remove from heat, sprinkle over butter cubes.  Pop puff pastry circle on top (be careful to centre it) then use a wooden spoon to push the edges down into the caramel mixture (don't worry about making it neat.  If you are OCD like me this will be difficult, but trust me on this one, rustic is better for this dish!).  Pop into the oven and bake for 30 mins or until puff pastry is lovely and puffy and golden. 

Remove from oven and top with a generous scoop(s) of caramel yoghurt ice-cream.  

black tea and bourbon pork belly

black tea and bourbon pork belly

Hands up who's been watching Masterchef this year?  Regular readers, I'll spare you my annual (Maggie) Beer-Bashing and summarise in point-form my current musings:

-  Shannon Bennett is like the protective, older brother I never had.  Don't you just feel like if you had a Shannon Bennett in your life he'd totally be watching your back?  But not in a way like you'd want him to be your boyfriend because, let's face it, the guy looks like Grug, but definitely older brother material;

-  I'm getting one step closer to my long-suspected theory that Curtis Stone wears eyeliner and I'm starting to wonder what brand because even under immense pressure that shit just NEVER smudges.  I need makeup tips from Curtis Stone;

-  John:  please stop putting the contents of the entire pantry into your dishes.  It's a mystery BOX challenge, not a mystery PANTRY.  Also, I want to punch you in the face when you ignore the judges advice EVERY.  SINGLE.  WEEK;

-  Contestants in general:  please stop making dishes you've never made before, I'm tired of acting surprised when it doesn't work out, but also please do not make family dishes you've made a billion times because *yawn*.  Preferably make things you've made on average 2-3 times before, just enough to have perfected it but not enough that you have montage-worthy, tearful flashbacks to making it with your Nonna;

-  I'm totally Mrs Robinson-ing over Reynold right now.  The guy is totes adorbs and can make desserts.  Ladies, he MAKES DESSERTS.

black tea and bourbon pork belly
Serves 4

1.2kg pork belly
2 tbsp rice bran oil
1/2 cup honey
5 English Breakfast tea bags
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp bourbon 
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Brown rice, to serve
Steamed Asian greens, to serve

Cut pork belly lengthways into three, long strips of equal width.  From each strip, cut thin slices (about 1cm thick).  Season well with salt and pepper.

To make sauce, brew teabags in 2 cups boiling water for 5 mins.  Discard tea bags.  Put tea, honey, sugar and vinegar into a medium size saucepan.  Bring to the boil over a high heat, then reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer for about 20 mins or until the mixture has reduced down to 3/4 cup.  Stir through bourbon.

Meanwhile, heat rice bran oil in a large frypan over a high heat.  Lay pork belly strips in the pan in a single layer (you may need to do this in two batches).  Fry for about 5 mins each side (when the fat renders down it will sizzle and spit so you may want to use the pan lid as a shield - be careful!) or until the pork is well browned on both sides and the skin is super crispy.    Remove pork strips from pan and drain on absorbent towel.

Add fried pork strips to sauce, toss to coat then serve on top of brown rice and asian greens. 

steak frites with gruyere salt

steak frites gruyere salt

Every now and then I like to go back to basics and cook something really, really simple.  THBH appreciates the break from being my guinea pig, always welcoming something failproof like a lasagne or a perfectly-cooked steak.  I secretly love it too, but a little part of me feels like it's a wasted opportunity to try something new - this is how my mind works, every meal is a chance to be adventurous, to give the old creativity a bit of a workout (mind you, if I go to my favourite cafe I'll always order the exact same thing every time.  It seems my risk-taking only extends to my own kitchen and not other people's).  

Sometimes I can cater to both of our interests by taking something so beautifully simple and putting a tiny spin on it.  I was thinking about gruyere cheese, which is my absolute favourite cheese, hands down.  I don't think it's a co-incidence that it's Swiss and that it does happen to just agree with pretty much any flavour profile you can throw at it, typical Swiss, so non-confrontational.  Despite gruyere's easy-going nature though, there are some things it is just MADE for - steak and potato being two of them.  Gruyere on burgers is so overdone so I challenged myself to come up with another way to get these magical flavours to party together once more.  The divinely simple answer?  SALT.  

Hope you all enjoy this ridiculously simple yet absolutely tasty recipe - pomme frites and gruyere cheese, it's more European than Eurovision, but a lot less trashy.  

steak frites with gruyere salt
Serves 2

2 good-quality porterhouse or scotch fillet steaks
1 large sebago potato, peeled, julienned
3/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
1/3 cup sea salt flakes (I use Maldon)
Pepper
Oil, for deep frying

Remove steaks from fridge 1 hour before cooking.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

To make gruyere salt, preheat oven grill to the highest temperature possible.  You want that bad boy SUPER hot.  Line a baking tray with foil and evenly spread cheese on it.  Pop under the grill and watch it like a hawk, sit by your grill with some oven mitts in hand ready to go - you want to cheese to be crispy and golden in colour - a second more will result in burnt cheese, not tasty!  The SECOND it becomes golden in colour pull it out and set aside to cool.  Once cool, pour into a mini food processor and blitz to a fine crumb.  Mix with salt.

Cook steaks on a sizzling hot chargrill pan.  I'm not going to tell you how to do this, just do it the way you like it.  Rest steaks while you prepare the frites (fancy for fries).

Heat oil in deep fryer to 200ºC.  Cook frites in 2 batches.  They won't take long - about 3 mins or just until they are hard and crispy.  Drain on paper towel.

Serve steaks topped with frites and a generous sprinkle of gruyere salt.

edamame, pumpkin and deep fried salami winter salad

edamame pumpkin salami salad

Salads get a bit of a bum deal in cooler months, stepping aside to hearty stews and homely roasts.  Personally, I don't want to wait until the weather permits to enjoy a good salad, so I'm turning things around today with a WARM, Winter-friendly salad.  

I'm fulfilling a life-long dream by doing something I should have done long ago - deep-frying salami.  Yes, you read correctly - let's take something fat-laden and cook it in a bubbling, hot fat bath.  Actually, let's take this a step further by CRUMBING the salami first.  Yeah, carbs + fat = awesomeness.  When the crumbed discs hit the hot oil they puff up and after a few minutes you have golden, delicious meaty UFOs.  

This salad has it all - sweet, salty, creamy, texture, heat, umami-ness (why yes, I HAVE been watching Masterchef).  I will leave you with some words of advice though - you may want to make extra salami chips for snacking.  Don't say I didn't warn you...

edamame, pumpkin and deep fried salami winter salad
Serves 4

1.5 kg butternut pumpkin, halved lengthways, but into 1.5cm thick slices
500g frozen, prepared edamame beans (in pods), thawed to room temperature
80g chevre, crumbled
8 slices ciabatta
12 thin slices Hungarian (mild) salami
1 cup plain flour
1 egg whisked with a splash of milk
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tsp sea salt flakes
1 tbsp Kecap Manis
Oil for deep frying

Preheat a fan forced oven to 190ºC.  In a large bowl combine 1/4 cup oil, Kecap Manis, Cayenne pepper and salt.  Add pumpkin slices and toss to coat.  Arrange slices over a baking tray then pop into the oven for 40 mins, carefully flipping the slices over half way.

Meanwhile, peel edamame, discarding pods.  Set beans aside.

Preheat oil in deep fryer to 200ºC.  Press salami slices into flour to lightly coat, dusting off any excess.  Dip floured salami slices into egg wash, then into breadcrumbs, pressing down to make sure breadcrumbs stick and fully coat the slice.  Deep fry crumbed salami, 4 slices at a time, for around 2 mins or until puffy and golden.  Drain on paper towel.  Try not to devour these before you assemble the salad.

Once pumpkin is done, remove from oven (leave oven on).  Arrange ciabatta over baking tray, drizzle with a little extra olive oil then pop into the oven for 20 mins, turning after 10 mins.

To serve, arrange toasted ciabatta, roast pumpkin slices, edamame, chevre and fried salami on a plate. 

literal popcorn chicken with pickled corn

popcorn chicken pickled corn

Folks, this is popcorn chicken but not as you know it.  Whip up a batch of popcorn, smash it up into tiny crumbs (an awesome stress reliever) and then step aside humble breadcrumb, you've been replaced by something way more awesome.  

The popcorn crumb gives a super crunchy texture but lends a familiar, embracing flavour to the chicken wings.  These things are addictive - you've been warned.  I've also added cayenne pepper to the dusting flour for a spicy kick to compliment the sweet, crunchy pickled corn wheels.  That's right, don't expect a side of potato and gravy with these bad boys, instead I've taken sunny, happy corn cobs, hacked them into fun wheels and stuffed them into a jar with allspice, pepper and bay leaf to be transformed into briney, pickley goodness.

Having friends over this weekend?  Whip up a batch of these and you'll be the talk of the town, promise ;-)

literal popcorn chicken with pickled corn
Serves 6 as a snack
You will need to make the pickled corn at least 8 hours in advance

18 chicken wingettes
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
3 tbsp sesame oil
Sea salt flakes
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 egg whisked with a splash of milk
Oil, to deep fry

PICKLED CORN
2 corn cobs, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) thick slices
2 long, red chillies cut into 1cm thick slices
10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 cups white vinegar
6 tsp salt

To make the pickled corn, bring 4 cups water to the boil in a medium saucepan.  Reduce heat to low, add garlic and allow to simmer for 5 mins.  Add vinegar, salt and allspice, increase heat to high to bring back to the boil, stirring until salt has dissolved.  Remove from the heat.

Stuff into a sterilised jar the corn slices, chillies, cooked garlic cloves, peppercorns and bay leaves.  Pour over the pickling liquid so that all the vegetables are covered.  Seal with lid then pop into fridge for a minimum of 8 hours to allow the flavours to develop.

To make popcorn chicken, heat sesame oil in a medium saucepan over high heat.  Add a couple of corn kernels and pop on the lid.  Once you hear the kernels popping you know the oil is hot enough - throw in the rest of the kernels and pop the lid back on.  Listen carefully to the kernels popping.  Every 30 seconds or so give the pan a shake to ensure all kernels are popped evenly.  Once you hear the popping sound slow down (several seconds between pops), remove the pan from heat, taking off the lid, season with salt and then allow popcorn to cool down.

Once cool, crush popcorn into fine crumbs (you can use a food processor or pour the popcorn into a zip lock bag and smash it with a rolling pin).  Pour onto a deep plate.  

Combine flour and cayenne pepper.  Season generously with salt.  Dust chicken wingettes in flour, shaking off any excess.  Dip floured wingettes into egg mixture, then roll in crushed popcorn, pressing down gently to coat.  

Heat oil to 200ºC (using a deep fryer is safest).  Cook chicken wingettes in batches of 3 for 3-4 minutes.  Drain on paper towel and season with salt before serving with pickled corn.

thai green curry gnudi

thai green curry gnudi

I've managed to escape the clutches of my offspring for a split second so I'm typing at the speed of light to get this blog post out.  I would highly recommend this recipe for parents or other busy people as it can be prepared in stages (important when you need to drop everything and run to a screaming kid) and also is completely do-able with a Baby Bjorn strapped to your body.  I can't say the same for going to the toilet, unfortunately, a basic necessity which has become a bit of a luxury these days.

For those who haven't tried gnudi, it's basically the lesser-known cousin of gnocchi, the difference being gnudi is made from ricotta instead of potato.   Pronounced nudey, it's also way more amusing to say.  As THBH doesn't like ricotta (he needs help, I know) I'll fry up some chicken breast for his (zzz) and perhaps use up the extra gnudi (hee hee!) with some fried bacon and onion for lunch tomorrow.  Yup, I think these extra baby kilos are going to stick around for a while.

thai green curry gnudi
Serves 4
You will need to prepare this recipe the night before

500g good quality, firm ricotta cheese
1 stalk lemongrass, white section only finely chopped
30g ginger, peeled, finely grated
1 cup semolina
3 tbsp green thai curry paste
270ml coconut cream
250ml salt-reduced vegetable stock
100g snow peas, shredded
100g sugar snap peas, halved
1 long, red chilli, finely sliced
1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
Coriander leaves and lime cheeks, to serve

In a large bowl combine ricotta, lemongrass and ginger.  Mix very well to combine, you want the ricotta to be light and fluffy and no big chunks.  Roll ricotta mixture into 3cm balls.  Spread semolina over a baking tray and roll ricotta balls (gnudi) to coat, leaving them on the tray.  Pop into the fridge overnight (or minimum 8 hours).

Heat a medium frypan over medium-high heat.  Add green curry paste and cook, stirring, for 2-3 mins or until fragrant.  Add coconut cream and vegetable stock along with 1 cup water, bring to the boil then drop heat to low and allow to simmer for 8-10 mins.  

Meanwhile, bring a medium sized saucepan of salted water to the boil.  Cook gnudi for 3 mins (you may want to do this in 2-3 batches).  Remove with slotted spoon and divide among 4 bowls.

Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes.  Place snow peas and sugar snap peas in another, large bowl and pour over boiling water, allowing to sit for 2-3 mins.  Drain, then plunge into ice-cold water to blanch.  Drain.

To serve, divide thai green curry sauce over the gnudi.  Top with blanched peas, chilli, toasted coconut, coriander leaves and a squeeze of lime juice. 

mother's day spiced hot chocolate stirrers

spicedhotchocstirrers

Over the past two weeks I've spent a record-breaking amount of time in the kitchen.  Unfortunately it has not been on anything particularly exciting - mainly mixing formula, sterilising bottles and trying to eat a baked bean toasted sandwich with one hand (I upgraded to baked bean toasties after solely surviving on Babybel cheeses for an entire week).  

Apart from the lack of time, food and sleep, Mum life is the best.  Tomorrow will mark one month since I've had the job, and I'm no expert but I think I'm doing alright.  I've finally learnt to let go of my obsessive social-media-checking schedule and weaned myself off my to-do lists, which used to be a therapeutic hobby but now just results in stress as it takes me 3 hours to one-handedly type an email (not very productive).  

I've learnt how to be more gentle to myself and wash away the heavy demands (blogging schedule, alphabetised spice cupboard, changing my underwear once a day) that were once part of my old life, but have no place in my new job.  There's only 24 hours in a day, but when that baby start wailing there is no task more important than finding a way to make her happy again, even if it results in a third batch of burnt salted toffee.  

These pretty hot chocolate stirrers just need to be dunked in a big mug of hot milk and would make the perfect gift for your Mum tomorrow.  Happy Mother's Day to all the beautiful Mums out there xx

mother's day spiced hot chocolate stirrers
Makes 2 of each flavour
You will need 6 wooden teaspoons and 6 x 125ml capacity cube chocolate moulds (I used a silicon jumbo ice-cube tray from Kmart)

WHITE CHOCOLATE WITH SALTED TOFFEE
250g good quality white chocolate
1/2 cup caster sugar
20g butter
1 tsp sea salt flakes

Place the sugar in a medium sized saucepan.  Cook over a high heat - DO NOT STIR.  To ensure the sugar caramelises evenly just carefully swirl the saucepan.  Once all of the sugar melts, immediately remove from the heat, stir through the butter and salt.  Pour onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Pop into the fridge to set.  Once the toffee is hard, cover with another sheet of baking paper and use a rolling pin to crush the toffee (it should be like a breadcrumb consistency).  

Melt the white chocolate.  The easiest method is to break up the chocolate into even pieces, place the chocolate into a plastic or glass bowl, and microwave on MEDIUM for short bursts (20 seconds at a time).  At the end of each burst, use a plastic spatula to stir the chocolate.  Microwave in short bursts until all the chocolate is completely melted, being careful not to overcook (if it looks grainy, it's burnt - you have just committed crimes against chocolate.  Go directly to jail, do not pass GO).

Stir 1/4 cup of the toffee crumbs through the melted white chocolate.  Pour equal amounts of the chocolate into 2 chocolate moulds then insert spoon into each.  Allow to set in the fridge for 3-4 hours or until chocolate hardens again.  To remove chocolates from pan, carefully twist the spoon until the chocolate releases from the mould.  

MILK CHOCOLATE WITH STRAWBERRY
250g good quality milk chocolate
1 tbsp dehydrated strawberry powder (get it here)

Melt chocolate according to instructions above.  Stir through the strawberry powder.  Repeat the process above to make the chocolate stirrers. 

DARK CHOCOLATE WITH ORANGE AND SZECHUAN PEPPER
250g good quality dark chocolate
1 tbsp orange extract (I used this recipe to make my own)
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns, ground in a mortar and pestle

Melt chocolate according to instructions above.  Stir through the orange extract and pepper.  Repeat the process above to make the chocolate stirrers.

quinoa anzacs

quinoaanzacs

Thought I'd fly in today and blow away the tumbleweeds on this blog.  For those who have been playing along on Instagram and Facebook you would have already heard the super exciting news - two weeks ago THBH and I welcomed into the World our precious and ridiculously cute daughter, Marlo Anya (aka THBB - The Hungry Babushka Baby)!

I am underwhelmed to report that all the cliche things they say about parenthood are true.  Apologies to those who were waiting for some ground-breaking news in this department - I am tired beyond words, barely know what day of the week it is anymore and my most proud achievement in the last week is that I can now change a nappy in under 30 seconds (poonami nappies, give or take an extra 15 seconds).  It's tough, but every day gets a little easier, and we keep learning and fine-tuning until we finally have a square centimeter in our kitchen that isn't covered with bottles, boob milk and steralising equipment where I can attempt to bake something that I really should have "scheduled" about a week ago.  Oh well, if anyone is wanting to make gluten-free, vegan Anzac biscuits at 5pm on Anzac Day you've come to the right place.

Thanks for hanging in there while I navigate my new life and add yet another job title of Mum to the ever-growing CV.  Yes, yes if I was a legit, hardcore blogger I would have got my sh!t together and scheduled posts to tide you guys over but I have always felt uneasy creating content in advance, kind of like I'd be lying to you guys and putting up this Superwoman front while in reality I haven't got out of my pyjamas for three days straight and I'm sympathising with all the dairy cows out there.  I'm just here keeping it real, and if you're along for the ride I might just surprise you every now and then with a new blog post, and I promise it won't even be lactation cookies...

quinoa anzacs
Makes 18

1 cup rolled oats 
1 cup quinoa flour 
1/2 cup white quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar       
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp bicarb soda    
1/4 tsp sea salt    
2/3 cup (liquid) coconut oil   
1/4 cup water  
2 tbsp dark agave nectar

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 140ºC.

Mix oats, quinoa, flour, sugar, coconut, bicarb and salt in a large bowl.  Stir in the coconut oil, water and agave syrup until well blended.

Divide mixture into 18 golf-ball sized portions.  Roll into balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper (leave about 3cm between each ball).  Press balls down gently with a fork to flatten.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.  Let the biscuits cool on the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then transfer to the rack to cool completely.  

curry hummus fishcakes

curryhummusfishcakes

If nesting became an Olympic sport, I'm not going to lie, I'd be taking out the gold medal.  Things are getting a bit out of control at our house - our spice cupboard is alphabetised and short of ironing THBH's undies we've signed up for Netflix in a futile attempt to matchmake my arse and our couch.  So far it's taken me 4 days to watch Frozen (there are 3 year olds with a greater attention span than me - sad, but true).

Speaking of frozen, I've cleaned out our spare freezer - you know, the one in your garage that could very well contain half a cow from 3 years ago that you completely forgot about (but highly unlikely to contain forgotten ice-cream or anything actually useful when you're 38 weeks pregnant) and found some real gems including two random fish fillets, one of which I am confident is salmon and the other just a pot-luck white fish.  THBH currently abhors fish (despite happily ordering it from a fish and chip shop just last week) so I did what any self-respecting parent would do and disguised it in something he loves.  Unfortunately, my plan failed which resulted in me having fish cakes for lunch for the next 2 days and THBH eating Vegemite Saladas for dinner.  Them's the breaks!

curry hummus fishcakes
Makes 4

250g fillet Atlantic salmon, skin on
200g fillet mild, white fish, skin on
150g milk
2 dried bay leaves
80g hummus
300g potatoes, peeled, cubed
1 tbsp Kewpie (Japanese) mayonnaise
1/2 tsp lemon zest
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
1 cup plain flour
1 egg, lightly whisked
Fresh curry leaves
Rice bran oil, to fry
Lemon and tartare sauce, to serve

Place fish, skin side down, into a small saucepan.  Cover with milk and 150ml water, add bay leaves.  Cover, bring to the boil over a high heat then immediately drop heat to very low and allow to simmer for 5 mins before removing from heat and leaving to sit for 10 mins (covered) to gently poach.  Remove fish from poaching liquid, dry on paper towel and then use a fork to break up into large flakes (discard skin).

Put potatoes into a small saucepan, cover with boiling water then place over a high heat until water comes back to a boil, drop heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 mins or until potato is soft when poked with a fork.  Drain, then return to saucepan and cook over a very low heat to remove excess water.  Mash roughly with a fork then stir through hummus, mayo and lemon zest.  Season with salt and pepper.  Fold through fish flakes (be gentle as you want the fish flakes to stay large and not break up too much).  Divide mixture into 4 equal portions and form into 2cm-thick patties.  

Dust each patty with flour, dip in egg then roll in breadcrumbs.  Place onto a plate and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours (this will harden the patties and prevent them from crumbling apart when frying).

Pour oil into a deep saucepan (you want the oil to be about 2cm deep).  Heat over a high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, throw in about 3 curry leaf stalks (about 36 leaves) and cook for 2 mins to let curry flavours infuse into oil.  Add fishcakes and cook for about 5 mins on each side or until light golden in colour and heated through.  Drain on paper towel and serve with lemon and tartare sauce.

steak sandwich with kiwiberry chutney

steaksandwichkiwiberrychutney

If you're a regular reader of this blog you'll probably know that I'm totally OBSESSED with new and unusual ingredients.  Fellow foodies have been peppering my Instagram feed with heavily stylised pics of a curious, little fruit known as the kiwiberry, so I simply couldn't resist picking up a few punnets at the market this week to experiment.

Think of a teensy, little kiwifruit without the bodily hair.  That's right - the tantalising, tropical flavour of kiwi without the fuss of the fuzz, just pop it straight into your gob.  A little more tart than their hairier cousin, my idea was to work the berries into a tomato-based chutney with a hint of vanilla to compliment a big, beefy steak sandwich.

If you have any leftover chutney it would also work really well on a simple, ham sandwich.  Enjoy!

steak sandwich with kiwiberry chutney
Serves 2

2 scotch fillet steaks, at room temperature
1 ciabatta loaf
2 vine tomatoes, thickly sliced
Cos lettuce leaves
Gruyere cheese, sliced
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper

KIWIBERRY CHUTNEY
800g vine tomatoes, diced
250g kiwiberries, halved
1 brown onion, diced
70g caster sugar
1 tsp sea salt flakes
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod reserved
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Juice from 1 lemon

To make chutney, add all ingredients (including scraped vanilla pod) to a medium sized saucepan over a high heat.  Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to super low and allow to simmer, stirring regularly, for about 3 hours or until fruit breaks down and liquid evaporates.  Set aside.

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 80ºC.  Heat ciabatta in the oven until ready to serve.

Season steaks generously with salt and pepper.  Heat a chargrill pan to super hot.  Cook steaks to your liking, about 2-3 mins each side (for medium rare).  Remove from pan and allow to rest for 2 mins (save juices) before slicing very thinly and tossing steak strips in their juices.  

Cut ciabatta loaf in half widthways, then lengthways to make two sandwiches.  Spread the bottom layers of the bread generously with kiwiberry chutney then top with steak strips, cheese, lettuce and tomato finished with the top slice of ciabatta.