beef rendang burger

rendangburger

Cricket-watching fuel...

beef rendang burger
Makes 4

600g beef mince
1 egg
1 tbsp coconut oil
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
4 x hamburger buns
Sliced tomato, to serve
Sliced cucumber, to serve
Sliced red onion, to serve

RENDANG PASTE
1/2 tbsp tamarind puree
2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
3 long, red chillies, roughly chopped
1 cup shredded coconut, lightly toasted
1 tbsp coriander seeds, lightly toasted
2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly toasted
40g fresh ginger
30g fresh galangal
30g fresh turmeric (*WARNING - use gloves, unless you like the Bart Simpson look!)
6 red eschalots, peeled
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 stalks lemongrass, inner white section only 
1/2 tbsp palm sugar

To make rendang paste, combine all ingredients in mini food processor (or blender) and blitz on high speed until a thick paste forms.  

In a large bowl combine mince with egg and 2 tbsp of the rendang paste (reserve excess paste for another recipe).  Season with salt and pepper.  Mix well using clean hands.  Divide into 4 equal portions, form into patties then pop into the fridge for about an hour to rest (this will help patties hold their shape when frying).  

Add coconut oil to a large frypan and melt over a high heat.  Reduce heat to low and add beef patties, cooking for 4 mins each side or until cooked through.  

To serve, assemble each burger with a patty, sliced tomato, sliced cucumber and red onion rings. 

pistachio crusted leg of lamb with espresso gravy

pistachiolambespressogravy

Hey everybody!  EXCITING NEWS - I'm officially on maternity leave which means my only job for the next 4 weeks is keeping your bellies full before I embark on a lifetime journey of keeping my child's belly full.  

I've been lurking in the background for the last 2 weeks, tidying up a few things on the blog.  I'm putting my obsessive "fixer-upping" down to selective nesting, but THBH probably wishes it would extend to cleaning the house - it looks like Hiroshima around here lately as things get dumped everywhere any anywhere with the intention of tidying up just as soon as I've edited this image/watched Bold and Beautiful/alphabetised my entire spice cupboard...

Meanwhile, I've been quietly observing the goings on in the foodie World and was quite happy to take a sideline on the whole "Flushing coffee up my bum daily cured my cancer.  Oh wait, no it didn't, I'm dead" and "Eating a truckload of kale every day cured my cancer.  Oh wait, no it didn't, I never had cancer in the first place".  I was happy to chime in on the Pete Evens bashing though, we all know I love a good Pete Evans bash.  There also seems to be no slowing down on the waffle obsession, with a bunch of recipe developers throwing random shit into a waffle iron to see what works and what doesn't.  Please excuse me while I go pour a bowl of cereal into my toaster #onestepahead #nextfoodiefad #darwinawards.

Sarcasm aside, I am happy to report that last night I had a breakthrough with a recipe I've been trying to perfect for a while.  On my third attempt (that's a lot for me, I have a very short attention span) I nailed this pistachio crusted leg of lamb, which seems simple but trust me, getting the meat super soft and the nut crust not burnt and just enough pan drippings to make a successful gravy is no walk in the park.  Gravy is my arch nemesis.

I hope you guys love this one as much as we did x

pistachio crusted leg of lamb with espresso gravy
Serves 4-6

2kg leg of lamb, bone in
3 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced into thin slithers
60g stale sourdough bread
90g pistachio kernels
A few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
2 onions, skin on, quartered
1 head garlic, skin on, halved horizontally
2 tbsp dijon mustard
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

ESPRESSO GRAVY
1 shot expresso
2 tbsp plain flour, sifted
Pan juices from roast (about 2 cups)

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 200ºC.  Stab lamb repeatedly with a small, sharp knife and insert garlic slithers into each puncture wound.  Pop lamb into a deep roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil then season generously with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30 mins then remove from oven, reduce heat to 100ºC fan.  Arrange onion wedges and garlic around the lamb, cover pan with about 6 layers of foil, ensuring edges are tucked in to form a seal.  Put lamb back into the oven and roast for a further 6 hours.  

Meanwhile, add sourdough, pistachios and parsley leaves to a food processor and blitz until a course crumb.  Season with salt and pepper.  Watch Bold and Beautiful, alphabetise your spice cupboard... hell, you've got a spare 6 hours, do whatever you want ;-)

Once lamb is done, remove from oven.  Increase heat to 150ºC fan.  Carefully take lamb out of the tray and discard onion and garlic.  Pour pan juices through a fine sieve into a jug.  Set aside.  Pop lamb back into the pan and spread with mustard.  Press pistachio mixture all over the surface of the lamb then return to oven to roast, uncovered, for a further 1 hour.

To make espresso gravy, carefully skim fat layer from the top of your pan juices.  Add to a large frypan and heat over low heat.  Whisk in the flour to create a roux, cooking until the flour becomes a light golden colour.  Gradually add the pan juices, whisking with each addition to ensure no lumps.  Once you have added all the pan juices, whisk in the espresso then season to taste, then allow to simmer on a low heat for a few minutes until sauce has thickened (if your gravy is lumpy you can strain it through a fine sieve at the end).  Keep warm.

Once lamb is done, remove from oven and allow to rest for about 20 mins before carving and serving with the espresso gravy.

walnut pesto tuna farfalle with crispy sage

walnutpestotunapastacrispysage

It's been a bit of a slow news week in the kitchen of The Hungry Babushka.  What started out as an epic menu with Crispy Cointreau Pork Belly Bao quickly descended into a run of crappy flavour combos and half-arsed presentation which I simply put down to being utterly exhausted and reaching my breaking point of trying to maintain life at the same pace as before, pushing aside the minor detail that I'm now just 6 weeks away from having a real, human baby.  By Wednesday I was begging THBH to take me out for fish and chips after I almost had a nervous breakdown after spending in excess of 2 hours and 300 shots trying (and failing) to make a beef rendeng burger look pretty for the camera.  A word of warning to any aspiring food stylists out there - burgers really are the Steve Buscemi's of the food world.

In the best interests of preserving my sanity, next week I'm taking off my Willy Wonka hat and taking some time out from recipe creation.  THBH, if you are reading this don't panic, I'm not going to let you starve to death.  I have decided to re-visit some of my favourite oldies and will be sharing them over on Instagram (@thehungrybabushka) and Facebook for you all.  Peace out and we'll see you on the flip side ;-) x

walnut pesto tuna farfalle with crispy sage
Serves 4

500g farfalle pasta
2 x 185g good-quality tuna chunks in spring water (I use Sirena), drained
250g punnet cherry tomatoes
2 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cloves garlic
2/3 cup rice bran oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
24 sage leaves
60g butter
3 tbsp rice bran oil
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 160ºC.  Line a baking tray with foil, pour tomatoes onto foil and drizzle with 1 tbsp rice bran oil.  Season with salt and pepper then bake for 10 mins or until just starting to collapse.  Leave in warm oven.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.  Cook pasta according to packet instructions, drain.  Set aside (keep warm).

To make walnut pesto, combine basil, walnuts and garlic in a mortar or mini food processor.  If using mortar and pestle, bash the crap out of the mixture until it is paste-like, then gradually stir through the olive oil.  If using a food processor, blitz basil, nuts and garlic until a paste then gradually add oil in a very slow and thin stream while the motor is running.  Stir through lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Heat butter and remaining 2 tbsp oil in a small frypan over medium heat.  Once the butter is frothing, throw in the sage leaves and toast for about 2 mins or until leaves start to curl and become crispy.  Remove from heat.

To serve, toss tuna chunks and pesto through pasta to coat.  Divide into three bowls with roasted cherry tomatoes and topped with crispy sage leaves.  Season with a little extra salt, if you like.

crispy cointreau pork belly bao

crispycointreauporkbellybao

One of the things they don't tell you about pregnancy is that your body starts preparing you for the joys of waking up all night BEFORE you've even had the baby.  

For a creative mind this is absolutely killer as you wake up at 3am for a wee (the 6th time since you went to bed) and you end up laying in bed, wide awake, thinking about bao puns until 5am.  

Wonderbao, Belly Bao, Bao Now and Bao Stop have all embraced the bao craze in Australia, it has even been deemed the Asian kebab, and if I wasn't heavily pregnant I sure as hell could smash several of these after a boozy night out (instead I just smashed several of these with a glass of ice-cold milk while watching Better Homes and Gardens).

crispy cointreau pork belly bao
Makes approx 8 
You will need to begin this recipe the night before

1kg piece pork belly
125ml Cointreau
150ml malt vinegar
250g brown sugar
5 cloves garlic, bruised
175g maple syrup
1 cinnamon stick
3 fresh bay leaves
Sea salt flakes
8 frozen bao buns (available from Asian supermarkets)
6 large iceberg lettuce leaves
1 large carrot, julienned
2 large Lebanese cubumbers, seeds removed, julienned
2 spring onions, julienned
1/2 cup coriander leaves

The night before: prepare pork by using a stanley knife (or super sharp kitchen knife) to score a cross-hatch pattern (cuts about 2cm apart) into the pork rind.  Be very careful not the press to hard - you don't want to cut down into the flesh, just enough pressure to score the surface.  Place the pork belly, skin side up, on top of a cooling rack and place into the sink.  Pour about 1L of boiling water all over the pork.  You should notice the cuts opening up - this is good!  Remove pork from sink, pat down with paper towel to dry thoroughly then pop the pork (still on the rack) into a deep roasting tray, making sure the skin side of the pork is up.  Sprinkle generously with sea salt flakes, ensuring the entire surface of the skin is covered, then pop into the fridge, uncovered, overnight (at least 12 hours).  The salt helps draw out all of the moisture from the skin and will give you an amazing, crispy crackling.

When you are ready to cook:  Preheat a fan-forced oven to 230ºC.  Brush salt off the pork, then use paper towel to pat the pork belly all over, making sure it is really dry.  Place pork, skin side up, in a deep roasting tray (you want the piece of pork to be nestled in without too much room around it so try and use the smallest size tray possible) and pop into the oven for 30 mins.

Meanwhile, combine Cointreau, vinegar, sugar, garlic, maple syrup, bay leaves and cinnamon stick in a medium-sized saucepan.  Heat over a high heat until boiling, then cook for a further 2-3 mins.  Remove from heat.  

Once pork is done, use tongs to carefully remove from the pan.  Pour the Cointreau mixture into the tray and then gently place the pork, skin side up, back into the tray.  The liquid should not touch the pork skin (if it looks like the liquid will be too deep and cover the skin, just pour less in.  Any liquid touching the skin will result in soggy skin and no lovely, crispy crackling - loserbao!).  Reduce oven temperature to 150ºC fan then carefully place tray back in oven and allow to cook for 2 hours.  

When you have about 30 mins of cooking time left:  Fill a large saucepan with steamer attachment 1/3 full with water and bring to the boil.  Line the steamer insert with lettuce leaves (this will stop the bao sticking and also help seal in moisture) and place frozen bao buns on top.  Cover with lid and allow to steam for 10-12 mins or until buns are light and fluffy.  

To serve, remove crispy pork skin from belly and use a cleaver to cut into smaller pieces.  Cut/shred pork flesh and mix together in a bowl with the crispy skin.  Add 1/2 cup of the Cointreau liquid from the roasting tray and toss to coat.  Stuff the steamed bao buns with pork, carrot, cucumber and spring onion and a sprinkle of coriander leaves.

broccoli and gruyere puff twists

broccoliandgruyerepufftwists.jpg

It's got broccoli, it's healthy...

broccoli and gruyere puff twists
Makes 48 sticks

4 puff pastry sheets, defrosted
100g broccoli florets (no big stalks), processed in food processor to resemble breadcrumbs
150g gruyere cheese, grated
1 tbsp currants
Zest from 1 lemon (use a microplane to get it super fine)
1 egg, lightly whisked
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat a fan forced oven to 190ºC.

Brush each pastry sheet lightly with egg wash.  Sprinkle broccoli crumbs, cheese, currants and lemon zest evenly over the four sheets.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place a piece of baking paper over each pastry sheet and use a rolling pin to very gently press the toppings into the pastry.  Remove baking paper.

Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut each pastry sheet into 12 even strips.  Twist each strip and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, making sure there is a bit of space between each twist as the pastry will puff up when baked (you may need to do this in batches, I used 4 baking trays).  

Bake for 12-15 mins or until golden and crispy.  Allow to cool to room temperature before serving as a very classy snack with some alcoholic beverages.

salted golden gaytime dulce de leche cheesecake

saltedgoldengaytimecheesecake

Somewhere in the depths of my iPhone, hidden away in the millions of reminders I make for myself is a little note called RECIPE with the little lightbulb emoji beside it.  Whenever a random food-related idea pops into my head I rush to this note and jot down whatever it is in my mind.  Some of the ideas have been sitting on the list for a while as I can't quite work out how to translate them into a recipe (eg. lemonade and goat's cheese, anyone?) and sometimes the ideas are just so friggin' do-able they never stay on the list for long.  Salted Golden Gaytime was one of those ideas.  

When developing this recipe I started off with a no-fail cheesecake base recipe that my family has been using for years.  The basics are all there - cream cheese, gelatin etc. but I started subbing in the bits and bobs I wanted like softened Golden Gaytime ice-creams and sea salt flakes.  I was going to leave it like this but when I tasted the mixture it still needed a bit more sweetness so I folded through a few tablespoons of dulce de leche and this multicultural little cheesecake was born.

I'd like to think I was witty enough to come up with this in time for Mardi Gras, but alas no, it was only an afterthought.  It's hard to have a Gaytime on your own.  

salted golden gaytime dulce de leche cheesecake
Serves 12

220g Malt-o-Milk biscuits
75g unsalted butter, melted
500g Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
4 Golden Gaytime ice-creams left out at room temperature for 10 mins, plus 3 extra to decorate
3 tbsp dulce de leche
2 tsp gelatine, dissolved in 60ml boiling water
1 cup whipped cream
1 tsp sea salt flakes

To make base, blitz biscuits in food processor until a fine crumb.  Add melted butter and blitz until combined.  Pour mixture into the bottom of a 22cm springform pan and use the bottom of a jar or drinking glass to compact the crumbs into an even layer.  Pop into fridge while you make the filling.

To make the filling, in a large bowl combine Philadelphia cream cheese, Gaytime ice-creams and dulce de leche.  Use an electric beater on high speed to beat until cream cheese is smooth.  It won't look super smooth like a normal cheesecake mixture due to the little bits of biscuit crumbs in the ice-cream, but keep keep beating away until you can't see any little white bits of cream cheese.  Stir through the gelatine mixture then when completely combined, fold through the whipped cream and sea salt flakes.  Spoon mixture on top of the biscuit base, smooth the top then pop into the fridge for at least 3 hours or set (preferably overnight, if you can wait that long).

To serve, cut up extra Golden Gaytimes into pieces (throw the sticks away) and serve on top of cheesecake slices.  

lemon salt chicken wings with carrot and toasted wild rice salad

lemonsaltchickenwingstoastedwildricesalad

While we were up in Brisbane I visited foodie heaven The Standard Market Co.  May I just say, this place is anything BUT standard.  With an endless selection of gourmet goodies at our fingertips, it takes a lot to excite a Melbourne foodie but when I enter the doors of this magical mecca I am pretty much reduced to repeating "Oh my God, Oh my God" over and over for the entire 3 hours I'm there before surrendering my credit card to pay for a grocery bill so high I get a call from AMEX to make sure my card hasn't been stolen.

This trip my bounty of treasures included:

Raw Materials Lemon Sea Salt
Valrhona Poudre De Cacao (cocoa powder, for those who aren't fluent in Wanker)
Chimbote Dulce De Leche
Giuliano Tartufi (truffle flavoured millefiore honey)
Some other tasty things that I've already devoured and long forgotten about

Things I resisted included Vegemite-flavoured macarons (it was Australia Day) and a miniscule jar of veal glace which reduced me to happy tears when I spotted it but I am still battling the irrepressible inner wog voice that says I could just make it myself.

Yesterday I decided to test out the lemon sea salt, using it to make a simple marinade of complimenting flavours of cumin and coriander seed.  The result was friggin' delicious and the refreshing and dead-easy salad was a great accompaniment.  Don't slack off and skip the toasted wild rice sprinkle, the nutty flavour really finishes the dish off nicely.

lemon salt chicken wings with carrot and toasted wild rice salad
Serves 4
You will need to begin this recipe the night before

1.2kg chicken wings
1/2 cup light olive oil
1 tbsp lemon sea salt (I used Raw Materials brand)
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic, squashed
1 1/2 cups plain flour
Oil, for deep frying

CARROT AND TOASTED WILD RICE SALAD
3 large carrots, peeled into thin strips
2/3 cup coriander leaves
2 tbsp black wild rice
1/4 cup rice bran oil
1/8 cup lime juice
Sea salt flakes

To make marinade, combine lemon sea salt, coriander and cumin seeds in a mortar.  Crush with the pestle until all ingredients are well ground up.  Pour into a large, non-reactive container (glass or plastic) then add olive oil and garlic and mix to combine.  Add chicken wings and toss well to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and pop into fridge to marinate for at least 12 hours.

Remove chicken from marinade, toss in flour to lightly coat, dusting off any excess flour.  Preheat oil in deep fryer to 210ºC.  In batches of 4 at a time, fry chicken wings for 3-4 mins or until golden and cooked through.  Drain on absorbent towel.

To make salad, whisk together rice bran oil, lime juice and a pinch of salt.  Combine carrot strips and coriander in a bowl, toss to mix.  Dress with half the dressing first, tasting and adding more if you like.

Heat a small frypan over high heat, then add rice and immediately drop heat to medium, stirring rice regularly until it becomes fragrant and starts to pop (about 2-3 mins).  Pour toasted rice into a mortar and crush with pestle until roughly ground. 

To serve, divide salad onto 4 plates.  Sprinkle with ground, toasted rice.  Serve with fried chicken wings.

maple carrot and pecan croquettes with smokey baconnaise

maplecarrotpecancroquettes

You guys know my feelings towards Pete Evans and his paleo posse.  It's just really shitting me to tears lately, I think I've become paleophobic.  Dairy free, sugar free, gluten free, nut free brownies... basically, it's just air.  Air brownies.  Dates are NOT chocolate - you're not fooling anybody.

So when you Google baconnaise it has an almost cult-like paleo following because of course we're using animal fat instead of processed fat, so I like to take this idea and f*ck it up really good and proper for them by pairing their beloved mayo-hybrid with white death panko-crumbed, deep-fried, white potatoey goodness.  Oh, and maple syrup.  Don't forget the maple syrup.

Bon appétit.

maple carrot and pecan croquettes with smokey baconnaise
Makes 12 croquettes

1.1kg potatoes, peeled, quartered
250g carrots, peeled, cut into 4cm long chunks
40g plain flour
60ml maple syrup
30g butter
80g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
80g panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs, whisked together with a splash of milk, plus one extra egg yolk
450g middle bacon rashers
60ml rice bran oil, plus extra for deep frying
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp white vinegar
Liquid smoke
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Add potato and carrot to a medium sized saucepan.  Cover with cold water and season with salt.  Bring to the boil, then allow to cook for 20-25 mins or until potato and carrot is soft.  Drain well.

Combine boiled potato, carrot, maple syrup and butter in a large bowl.  Use a stick blender to puree the ingredients, then stir though flour and pecans and season to taste.  Pop into the fridge for about 2 hours, uncovered, to harden.

Heat rice bran oil in a large frypan over high heat.  Add the bacon rashers and fry until super crispy.  Remove bacon from the pan (for this recipe we're only using the bacon fat, so feel free to save the bacon for something else or just eat it all like I did).  Strain the reserved bacon oil through a fine sieve then set aside to cool at room temperature.

To make smokey baconnaise, add onn egg yolk to a small bowl with lemon juice.  Whisk well to combine.  Very slowly, drizzle a tiny bit of the cooled bacon oil into the yolk, whisking really well until the oil has become completely incorporated into the yolk.  Slowly add oil, whisking well between each addition until the mixture becomes thick and creamy and all the oil has been added.  Whisk in the vinegar and about 4-5 drops of liquid smoke right at the end, then season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Preheat oil in deep fryer to 200ºC.

Remove the potato mixture from the fridge.  Use an ice-cream to form the mixture into 12 equal-sized balls.  Dip each ball into the egg wash, then roll in panko breadcrumbs.  Deep fry in batches, 3 croquettes at a time, for about 3-4 mins or until golden and heated through.  Drain on paper towel.

Serve croquettes with smokey baconnaise.

persian love salad

persianlovesalad

So it's no secret that desserts aren't really my forté.  When it comes to eating them, I am the authority on all things saccharine, but ask me to create something and although I will jump in with as much enthusiasm and creativity as I give any kitchen task (except dishes), instead of looking like a Bowdry creation it always ends up looking more like a Bower Bird one.

I probably should seek professional help about the amount of time I spend scrolling through Instagram accounts of dessert divas such as Anna Polyviou and Kirsten Tibballs but instead I will redirect my energies into something I can actually ace - savoury.

This dish was inspired by another one of my all-time girl crushes, teacher by weekday, baker by weekend - Katherine Sabbath.  Katherine's signature dessert would have to be her Persian Love Cake - do yourself a favour and go to the website to check out the description of this bad boy.  I'm not going to repeat it here, it's borderline pornographic and will probably result in diabetes just reading it.

I've paired together a classic combo of sweet beets and creamy feta but added in a few unsuspecting characters such as exotic rose water and punchy pickle juice.  I intended to serve this salad as an accompaniment to some grilled lamb chops but naturally it stole the limelight, so I left the poor chops out of the shot even though I do recommend serving some lamb as a side.

persian love salad
Serves 4

2 large, Lebanese cucumbers, sliced
6 whole, cooked beetroots, each cut into 8 wedges (you can use ones from a can)
1/2 small brown onion, finely sliced
2 pickles (gherkins), finely diced
120g Persian feta
1/2 cup oil from Persian feta jar
2 tbsp pickle juice (from pickle jar)
1 tsp rosewater
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
60g pistachios, roughly crushed

In a large bowl combine cucumber, beetroot, onion and pickles.  Toss to combine.

To make dressing, in a separate bowl combine feta, pickle juice, rosewater and half the oil.  Whisk well until the ingredients become emulsified.  Gradually add the remaining oil, whisking as you go.  Season with salt and pepper.

Pour dressing over the vegetables, tossing to coat.  Serve salad topped with crushed pistachios.

chicken and camomile broth with prawn and crab wontons

chickencamomilebrothprawnwontons

Sometimes the simplest meals are the best.  Back to basics with a super simple chicken stock recipe that can be adapted to any meal.  Here I've added some strong camomile tea which is a great partner to chicken flavours, not to mention super soothing on a cranky tummy (which mine always seems to be these days with my little womb raider on board).  

I like to use chicken necks when I make my stock as they release a lot of gelatin, resulting in a really flavoursome stock.  After a few hours in the fridge you'll notice that the stock has transformed into a wobbly jelly, don't freak out, this is a very, very good thing!  Once you heat the stock gently it will return to it's liquid, non-snot-like state and be the tastiest stock you've ever eaten, I promise ;-)

chicken and camomile broth with prawn and crab wontons
Serves 4
You will need to begin this recipe the night before

1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
8 camomile tea bags
20g fresh ginger, finely sliced
Juice of 1 lime
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
Chinese greens (I used 6 small bunches of bok choy)
Soy sauce, to serve
Small, red chilli, finely sliced, to serve

CHICKEN BROTH
2.6kg chicken necks
6 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
4 large carrots, coarsely chopped
2 large brown onions, unpeeled, quartered
2 leeks, white section only, thickly sliced
6 dried bay leaves
12 stalks parsley
8 stalks thyme
24 black peppercorns
2 tsps sea salt flakes

WONTONS
160g cooked sandcrab meat (from about 3 sandcrabs)
300g green prawns, peeled, deveined, flesh finely chopped (minced)
Wonton skins (about 40)
1 egg white
1 tsp finely zested lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp finely chopped chives
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper

To make broth, add chicken necks to a large saucepan and cover with 6L cold water.  Bring to the boil, using a fine sieve to skim off any scum that floats to the surface.  

Add celery, carrot, onion, leek, bay leaves, peppercorns and salt.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for about 4-6 hours.  You will need to skim the surface every 30 mins or so to remove scum.  

Create a bouquet garni by tying parsley stalks and thyme together in a tight bunch using kitchen string.  Add to the broth and continue to cook for an additional 30 mins.  

Strain broth through a sieve lined with muslin cloth.  Discard all solids and pour broth into an airtight container.  Refrigerate overnight.  In the morning you may notice that a thin film of fat has hardened on top of the soup.  Carefully scrape this off and discard, store broth in the fridge until ready to use.

To make the wontons, combine cooked crab meat and green prawn meat in a bowl with egg white and lemon zest and juice.  Mix well to combine, then stir through chives and season with salt and pepper.

To assemble the wontons, place 1 tsp of the seafood mixture into the centre of each wonton wrapper and fold into a nun's hat shape (a good video showing how to do this is here).  You should be able to make around 40 from the amount of filling made.

Meanwhile, steep camomile tea bags in 1L boiling water for 5 mins.  Remove tea bags, set aside tea.  To a large saucepan add 2L of the chicken broth, lemongrass and ginger.  Gently bring to the boil, covered, over a medium heat, then add the camomile tea and lime juice and bring back to the boil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook wontons in the broth, in batches of 10 at a time, for about 3-4 mins.  Throw in some Chinese greens in the last 2 mins of cooking, just enough to lightly cook through.  Serve broth with Chinese greens and wontons and a splash of soy sauce and chilli, if you like it hot!

chorizo oil prawn linguine

chorizooilprawnlinguine

Let's not beat around the bush here, quite simply, chorizo is the best thing ever.  I'm not going to make any ridiculous food bloggeresque claim here (eg. BETTER THAN SEX!!!  Come on, it's not 50 Shades of Deli Goods) because like any good thing it does have its downsides, for example, why take something so heavenly and wrap it in the finest, most irritatingly impossible to remove film of fine paper that takes what is seemingly a lifetime to pick off, that by the time you finally get to the insides you forgot what the point was.  Either that or you just roll with it and eat the paper.  A little bit of extra fibre never hurt anybody.

I wanted to find a way to add a bit of that celestial, smokey flavour to other dishes and some research (aka. Googling) turned up the idea of chorizo oil.  Basically, it's as simple as bathing some sliced chorizo in oil, popping it all into the oven and letting it bubble away for 20 mins or so to release the flavoursome chorizo oils.  Stand for around half an hour, strain into a bottle and TA DA - liquid gold.

I'm planning on using my extra oil to give my morning scrambled eggs a spicy kick in the pants.  What would you douse in chorizo oil?

chorizo oil prawn linguine
Serves 4

500g linguine pasta
800g green prawns, peeled (tail left on) and deveined
1/2 brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 long, red chilli, finely chopped
Juice and finely grated zest from 1/2 lemon
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Chopped flat leaf parsley and shaved parmesan, to serve

CHORIZO OIL
350g hot Spanish chorizo, sliced into 1cm thick rounds
500ml light olive oil

Preheat a fan forced oven to 160ºC.  Lay chorizo slices in the bottom of a deep roasting pan and cover with oil.  Choose a pan small enough that the chorizo are completely submerged but large enough so that they are in a single layer.  Pop into the oven for 20 mins.  When done, remove from oven and allow to stand at room temperature for half an hour before straining oil through a fine sieve.  Reserve 1 cup of the oil.  Pour the remaining oil into a steralised glass bottle or jar then let this sit for about an hour or two with no lid, just to let the oil cool down completely so that no condensation forms inside the bottle.  You can throw the chorizo slices into a pan and crisp up to use in other dishes, if you like, but for this recipe we'll just be needing the oil.

Cook linguine according to packet instructions.  Set aside.

Heat reserved cup of chorizo oil in a large  frypan over low heat.  Add onion, garlic, chilli and lemon zest and gently saute until onion is just soft.  Throw in the prawns and cook, stirring, until they just turn opaque (about 1-2 mins).  Add the lemon juice and cooked linguine and toss to coat the pasta well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper then serve with a generous amount of chopped parsley and shaved parmesan.

blueberry espresso toasted muesli

blueberryespressomuesli

In food blogging circles there's a bit of a hierarchy and when it comes to saccharine sweets The Sugar Hit is Queen Bee.  Yup, I've been totally fangirling over this chick for quite some time now so I was pretty chuffed to finally meet her last week and tried to keep my shit together, only managing to spill a Turkish coffee all over her but stopping short of asking her to autograph my boobies.

The Sugar Hit, or Sarah Coates as the real-World knows her, single-handedly (no pun intended) made hand-in-frame food photos a thing, a serious thing which, up until this point, I have avoided as I shoot without a tripod and holding a heavy camera while trying to pornographically pour maple syrup onto a stack of pancakes is not as easy as it seems.  I also bite my nails pretty bad.

This morning I decided to give it a go and I think for a first-time attempt I've not done a bad job, even managing to get a cheeky, little milk splash in.  Trés sexual.  

After reading about a company's attempt at blueberry coffee I've had this flavour pairing in the back of my mind.  I don't know about you but my mornings often start with fruit and always start with coffee, so I've taken the stress out of it for you and rolled them all into one tasty breakfast-hybrid for you.  

blueberry espresso toasted muesli
Makes about 12 serves

500g rolled oats
1 cup Rice Bubbles
40g whole hazelnuts
45g flaked coconut
160g brown sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp instant coffee
Fresh blueberries and/or strawberries, to serve
Milk, to serve

BLUEBERRY SYRUP
250g blueberries
1 cup caster sugar
Squeeze of lemon juice

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 150ºC.  Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Pop blueberries and caster sugar into a small, heavy based saucepan with 1 cup water and lemon juice.  Bring to the boil then reduce heat and allow to simmer about 20 mins or until slightly thickened.  Strain into a jog, reserving the liquid and discarding solids.  Return liquid to the saucepan then pop back over a low heat and simmer until it becomes syrupy.  You want to reduce down to 1/2 cup of syrup.  Set aside.

Combine oats, Rice Bubbles, hazelnuts and coconut in a large bowl.  Mix well.  

Add brown sugar to a medium sized, heavy based saucepan along with 2/3 cup water and pop over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then allowing to simmer for 1 min.  Remove from heat and whisk in cocoa powder, coconut oil, instant coffee and the blueberry syrup.  

Pour liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well with your hands to coat.  Divide mixture between two baking trays and pop into the oven for 30 mins.  Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving with additional fresh blueberries or strawberries and milk.

pork meatballs with sweet and sour peach

porkmeatballssweetsourpeach

As a food blogger, every now and then you come across a food that's absolutely impossible to make look good (eg. baby poo satay sauce or soup that looks like you stuck the entire Simpsons family into a blender, just to name a few).  This causes a bit of a problem because our job is to visually sell our recipes to you and that can be a seemingly impossible task when your dinner looks like a giant rabbit took multiple dumps in some regurgitated chutney.  You could just declare it "rustic" but I've always considered that to be a bit of a cop out.  Kind of like a shithouse paint job = shabby chic and burnt toast = charred.  

Ironically, like female comedians, the ugliest foods are often the most satisfying.  The only advice I have when working with these diva foods is to break down the dish into each of its elements and try to make the layout as visually striking as possible.  This acts as a bit of a diversion and spreads the focus all over (think Tori Spelling's boobs).

Fellow foodies, what buttaface foods do you find near-impossible to dolly up?

pork meatballs with sweet and sour peach
Serves 4-6

1kg pork mince
2 eggs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 brown onions, very finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp seeded mustard
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Plain flour, to dust
1/2 cup rice bran oil
Cooked brown rice, to serve
Finely chopped coriander leaves, to serve

SWEET AND SOUR PEACH
2 yellow peaches, peeled, seeds removed, diced
3 vine tomatoes, diced
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp tamarind puree
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

To make meatballs, combine all ingredients except oil and flour.  Mix well, use your hands, get in there - don't be afraid!  Divide into 24 even-sized portions and roll into balls then pop into fridge while you prepare the peach sauce.

For the sauce, heat oil in a medium sized saucepan over low-medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until onion has just become soft and opaque.  Make sure not to brown the onion.  Add all of the other ingredients and stir well to combine.  Bring to the boil then immediately reduce heat to low and allow to bubble away for about 25-20 mins or until the liquids have cooked off and sauce has thickened.  Set aside.

Remove meatballs from fridge.  Roll in flour, dusting off any excess.  Heat rice bran oil in a large frypan over low-medium heat.  In two batches, fry meatballs, turning often so that all sides are evenly browned, until cooked through (about 8-10 mins).  

Serve meatballs atop of a mountain of brown rice and topped with peace sauce and chopped coriander. 

brown sugar chipotle lamb with black garlic mash

brownsugarchipotlelamb

This week has been pretty frickin' inspiring for me.  On Wednesday night I was lucky to attend a talk at the Fitzroy Reading Room by food writer/God Richard Cornish.  Richard is a senior food writer for The Age Epicure and SMH Good Living, and if that's not enough, he's worked with some of the country's finest foodies including Frank Camorra (Movida) and Phillippa Grogan (Phillippa's).  

Now, let me just say that it takes a lot to recover from inviting a heavily pregnant woman to a talk where you're waving free wine and a 5kg hunk of jamón ibérico under her face for 2 hours straight, but as Richard spoke fervently about the chemistry of flavours my heart skipped a beat and I wondered if it could be that George Calombaris was about to be swiftly stepped aside as my all-time-favourite foodie-crush.  If there's nothing that gets me going more than food, it's talking about the science of food.

Which brings me to this very special recipe featuring one of my favourite ingredients EVER:  black garlic.  We all bang on about sweet, salty and if you really know your shit, umami, but I think one of the most essential qualities of an ingredient is recall.  Where have a tasted this before?  What does the smell remind me of?  When we can match-make two ingredients together it can have a very powerful impact, putting us right back to the first ever time we ripped open a butcher's paper parcel of steaming-hot chips doused in salt and vinegar and the tsunami of emotions that come with those precious memories.

The first time I ever smelt black garlic I was immediately transported back to the schoolyard, sitting on the cold, concrete floor and pigging out on an ant-sized fun pack of Burger Rings (seriously parents, what's fun about 4 measley Burger Rings?  Stop being so stingey on the snackage).  Black garlic is produced by popping whole heads of raw garlic into a special, fermenting oven where the temperature and humidity is carefully monitored for one month.  This process converts the sugars and amino acids naturally found in raw garlic into melanin, which transforms the cloves to a rather mysterious pitch black.  The flesh becomes soft and the skin paper thin but the flavour, OH THE FLAVOUR, can only be described as the perfect balance of savoury and sweet, think the lovechild of tamarind and aged balsamic vinegar.  It's absolutely no surprise that when we study the ingredients in Burger Rings that yeast extract, onion and garlic are right up there.

I've paired these pungent flavours with chipotle (for heat and smokiness), paprika (for heat and sweetness), brown sugar (for caramelisation) and just a tad of lemon juice to pull all of those big, bold flavours into line.

brown sugar chipotle lamb with black garlic mash
Serves 6
You will need to begin this recipe 8 hours before

2.3kg leg lamb
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chipotle chillies in adobo, finely chopped
2 tsp hot paprika
60g brown sugar
680g passata
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
10-12 cloves garlic, cut into thin slices
3 x brown onions, peeled, cut into wedges

BLACK GARLIC MASH
10 medium size potatoes, peeled, quartered
80g butter
1/3 cup thickened cream
4 cloves black garlic, mashed with a fork
Sea salt flakes

Preheat a fan forced oven to 200ºC.  In a large saucepan add chipotle, paprika, brown sugar, passata and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place over a high heat, bring to the boil then drop heat to low and allow to simmer, uncovered, for about 15 mins or until sauce thickens.  Remove from heat.

Use a small, sharp knife to repeatedly stab the lamb leg all over, poking a slither of garlic into each puncture wound.  Line a roasting tray with 3 layers of foil, pop the lamb on top and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and use your hands to massage it all in.  Pour 1/3 of the tomato mixture over the top of the lamb then pop into the oven for 30 mins.  

Remove lamb from oven.  Reduce heat to 100ºC (fan forced).  Place onion wedges around the lamb, pour 1 cup of boiling water into the bottom of the tray then layer three layers of foil over the top of the lamb and tuck in to create a seal.  Pop the lamb back into the oven for 6 hours, taking out every 2 hours to spoon more of the tomato mixture over the top, making sure the parcel is sealed tightly each time.  After 6 hours, remove foil and allow lamb to roast, uncovered, for a further hour.

Meanwhile, add potatoes to a large saucepan of cold water.  Season with a generous amount of salt.  Bring to the boil, then allow to cook for 25-30 mins or until potatoes are very soft when poked with a fork.  Drain immediately.  Return drained potatoes to the saucepan, add butter and mash very well (you can also use a stick blender or mouli if you want a smoother consistency but I kind of like a more rustic mash with this dish).  Stir through cream and black garlic, then season to taste with extra salt. 

Once lamb is finished, remove from oven and shred with two forks.  Serve on top of a generous dollop of black garlic mash, spoon over caramelised onions and juices from the bottom of the roasting pan.

big mac satay sauce

bigmacsataysauce

If you follow me on Instagram will know that last week I was more excited than Pete Evans over activated almonds about McDonalds making the BEST DECISION EVER to sell their Big Mac sauce separately.  On the side.  So you can put as much of it as you want on ANYTHING you want.  Does anyone get the sheer gravity of this?

At last check the 500ml, 1/200 Limited Edition bottle squeeze bottle selling on eBay was up to $23,100.  Before you scoff though, it's for a worthy cause, all proceeds go to the good folks at Ronald McDonald House Charities.  I also noticed that some lucky son-of-a-bitches were given a bottle for free, including one of my all-time favourite chefs Dan Hong, who I was only just raving about to someone a few weeks ago when I had found out about his infamous Cheeseburger Spring Roll (I only discover this now at the most sober point of my entire life.  Cruel world).

I also was fascinated to learn that a band of top chefs who will remain unnamed compete in a little competition between one another to create the ultimate McDonalds burger.  You see, when you are a top chef one does not simply GO to McDonalds and order a McChicken burger, I mean, would you trust a creepy, bushy red-haired pedophile clown to make your meal decisions for you if you were a billion-hatted or starred chef?  Or anybody for that matter?  For McDonalds non-afficianados I am about to let you in on a HUGE secret: when you next visit your favourite yellow arches, you can actually ask them to make your burger exactly the way you want it.  That's right, your eyes did not deceive you - if you want a Big Mac with one chicken patty, one beef patty, a steamed cheeseburger bun and hotcake syrup poured on top you just ask for that bad boy and they will make it for you.  YOU HAVE THE POWER.  And all this time you've been putting your own fries onto your Cheeseburger like a chump, imagine the time you could have saved.

Anyway, a glut of Big Mac sauce lead me to question what else one might do with it, other than slather it all over a Big Mac - boring.  I carefully studied the makeup of Big Mac sauce and worked out that the flavour profiles of most of the ingredients paired perfectly with the main ingredients of satay sauce, so there was only one thing left to do.  It was a big risk as I was sacrificing 6 x 25ml tubs, of which only 600 are released onto the Australian market.  I risked 1% of the World's Big Mac sauce, my entire stockpile, for this recipe so there was a lot riding on it.  Thankfully science didn't fail me and the flavours worked together beautifully.  If you can manage to get your hands on some of this truly special sauce I would highly recommend to give this one a go.

big mac satay sauce
Makes enough for about 8 serves

6 x 25ml tubs McDonalds Big Mac sauce
1 tbsp peanut
200g crunchy peanut butter
1 candlenut, finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 long, red chilli, finely chopped
270ml coconut milk
1 tbsp kecap manis
Juice of 1/2 lime
Grilled beef shish kebabs and steamed rice, to serve

Heat a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium heat.  Add peanut oil and heat, then add candlenut and coriander and fry for 30 seconds.  Add onion, garlic and chilli and fry for 2-3 mins or until the onion becomes soft.  

Reduce heat to low then add peanut butter, coconut milk and kecap manis.  Stir well to combine then place over a really low heat and bring to a gently simmer.  Remove from heat, add lime juice and Big Mac sauce and stir to combine.  Season with salt.  

Serve with grilled beef shish kebabs and steamed rice.

lamb kofta pockets with onion and lychee jam

lambkoftaonionandlycheejam

Fellow Aussies, entertain me for a moment here as I ask you some hard-hitting questions, one particular being on my mind lately - do you even MKR?  

My Facebook feed has become littered with My Kitchen Rules memes over the past week, and last night THBB (The Hungry Babushka Baby) decided to have a full-scale dance party inside my uterus at 11.30pm during which I found myself sitting up in bed, constructing my own MKR funnies.  For those who are interested, they were aimed squarely at South Australian "waiting-to-become-engaged-even-though-they've-been-boyfriend-and-girlfriend-since-they-were-like-five" couple Annie and Lloyd.  

I am of the firm belief that you are either on Camp MKR or Camp Masterchef and once you have pleaded an alliance to one you can't just switch over willy-nilly, no, this is serious business people - like trying to change religions.  Having been invited to audition for this season of Masterchef I became a Masterchef groupie by default which is quite a hefty obligation that involves bagging out MKR at every given opportunity.  Let's face it, Pete Evans doesn't exactly make it that difficult.

I realise by publicly ridiculing MKR I have pretty much obliterated any chance of being invited to be on the show which, to be honest, is fine by me as I don't think at any point of my life I've ever owned enough matching cutlery to host a dinner party for more than 4 people.  I'm quite content just conjuring up interesting new recipes for y'all and virtually inviting you to my place for dinner through this blog.  Unless they ever bring out a reality TV cooking show about trying to make dinner with a screaming baby on or around you, I'll be all over that $hit...

lamb kofta pockets with onion and lychee jam
Serves 6

600g lamb mince
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
6 soft pita pockets
A bunch of watercress
A few small mint leaves
100g feta, crumbled

ONION AND LYCHEE JAM
1 tbsp olive oil
600g brown onions, sliced
400g lychees, peeled, seeds removed, roughly torn
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp dried thyme

To make onion and lychee jam, heat olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions, lychee and thyme and cook for 15-20 mins, stirring regularly, until onion has become soft.  Add brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 mins or until sugar has dissolved.  Add balsamic vinegar and 1/2 cup water, increase heat to high and bring to the boil.  Once bubbling, drop heat to low and allow to simmer for 5 mins or until the mixture has thickened and become a jam-like consistency.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

To make koftas, combine mince, garlic and spices in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper then mix well (use your hands - get in there!).  Divide mixture into 6 even portions, then use your hands to form each portion into an egg-like shape.  

Brush a char-grill pan (or BBQ) with oil and heat over high heat.  You don't want to start cooking the koftas until your pan is screaming hot.  Once super hot, add the koftas and cook, turning every few mins, for about 10 mins or until cooked through.  

Meanwhile, break off the small, tender stems of watercress and pop into a large bowl (discard any of the thicker centre stems).  Combine with mint leaves.  

Warm the pita pockets in the microwave or sandwich press according to packet instructions.  To combine, stuff each 1/2 pocket with one kofta (you can break these up a bit or pop them in whole) topped with a generous spoonful of onion and lychee jam, a sprinkle of feta then poke some watercress tendrils and mint leaves in the gaps.  Devour!

corn wheel salad with raspberry balsamic drizzle

cornwheelsalad

Yesterday was my first, official day back at my (paying) job and to be quite honest, after a week of lounging around in a rainforest it was just a bit tiring.  Team total and utter exhaustion with a 30-billion degree day here in Melbourne which can only result in one thing - salad dinner.

I kept this one super simple and just concentrated on what flavour and textural combinations would work together.  We ate this as a meal, however if your significant other thinks that dinner isn't complete without a hunk of animal, you could also serve it with a nice piece of grilled pork.

corn wheel salad with raspberry balsamic drizzle
Serves 2

2 cobs sweet corn, husks and silks removed and discarded
1 tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
50g butter, softened
1 small, red chilli very finely chopped
Zest of 1 lime (finely zested)
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 white corn tortillas, cut into 8 equal wedges
2-3 large handfuls baby spinach leaves

RASPBERRY BALSAMIC DRIZZLE
1/3 cup frozen raspberries
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven grill to 200ºC.

To make salad, cut corn cobs into slices about 2cm thick.  Combine butter, chilli, lime zest and salt and pepper in a bowl, mixing well.  Roll the edges of the corn slices in the butter generously.

Heat a chargrill pan over high heat.  Once piping hot, add the corn wheels (stand them up so that you're grilling the edges - it will take a bit of balance but it is doable!).  Turn every few minutes to get an even charr on the edges.  You'll want to be super careful at this point as little bits of corn around the edges have a tendency to *POP* really violently.  Just make sure you are wearing an apron to protect your clothing and that there are no small children around.  Once corn is charred, remove from pan and set aside.

Arrange tortilla wedges on a baking tray and pop under the grill for about 2-3 mins on each side (watch very closely as these burn quickly) or until lightly golden and crispy.  Remove from oven and set aside.

To make the drizzle, heat raspberries in the microwave for 2 mins on high.  Strain through a fine sieve, pushing the flesh through with a spatula and trying to extract as much liquid as possible.  Discard the seeds.  In a small container with a tight-fitting lid, combine oil, balsamic, raspberry juice and sugar.  Season with salt and pepper then pop the lid on and shake well to emulsify.  

To assemble the salad, arrange the baby spinach leaves and corn wheels on a large platter.  Drizzle the raspberry balsamic drizzle over the top (you may only end up using half the dressing you made - the rest will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days), top with toasted tortilla wedges and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.  

buttermilk and fig prosciutto-wrapped chicken with picked cauli

buttermilkchickenpickledcauli

The countdown is ON!  Just 7 sleeps until the wedding - that's right folks, this time next week I'm going to be faffing around getting my face slathered, my hair teased, curled and everything else completely unnatural to my stubborn, lifeless hair and will then probably spend the next 3 hours trying to get my pudgy, pregnant arse into control underwear.  

You may have noticed things have been a bit busy around here lately - I'm just loading you guys up with plenty of Hungry Babushka goodness before I disappear for a few weeks.  If you really miss me when I'm gone feel free to pop back as much as you want and reminisce on the good times we've had together HERE

Last week I got my Martha Stewart on and made a whole heap of stuff in advance to lighten the load a little bit this week.  I made lychee jam for this week's lamb dish (it was a fail, don't ask) and these delicious pickles, which I probably would have made a billion times over had I realised how friggin' easy it would be.  When I get back from our honeymoon watch out folks, imma gonna pickle ERRYTHINGS.

buttermilk and fig prosciutto-wrapped chicken with pickled cauli
Serves 2
You will need to begin this recipe about a few days before to make the pickled vege

500ml buttermilk
1 long, red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
1/4 cup fig jam
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
2 chicken breasts, tenderloin removed, cut in half lengthways to form long strips
8 slices prosciutto
2 tbsp olive oil
Pickled cauli and baby carrots (I used this awesome recipe but left out cucumber, spring onions, and beans and added baby carrot instead)

In a large, non-reactive container combine buttermilk, chilli and jam.  Season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine.  Nestle in the chicken strips, making sure they are all covered then cover container and pop into fridge to marinate overnight.

When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat a fan-forced oven to 175ºC.  Drain chicken from buttermilk mixture, pat dry with paper towel then wrap 2 slices of prosciutto tightly around the chicken strips.  The chicken will still be a tad wet and sticky, helping the prosciutto to stick.

Pop a baking rack on top of a baking tray and then lay prosciutto-wrapped chicken strips on top (this will allow the strips to cook and be crispy all around).  Bake for 15 mins to until prosciutto is crispy and chicken is cooked through.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 mins before serving with pickled carrots and cauli.

grilled swordfish with tomato olive salsa

swordfishtomatosalsa

After eating my own body weight in Reece's PC cup espresso brioche and butter pudding* yesterday I was pretty much in a complete food coma and spent the entire day planted on the couch with a snuggly, black wiener dog to keep me company.  

Feeling a little bit guilty, I arose at about 2pm and made this.  As I'm usually working during the day most of my cooking and photographing takes place at night (*GASP* yes, I use a flash for food photography).  I really enjoyed the complexities of working in different light and my thoughts wandered back to a conversation I had with our wedding photographer, Richard Grainger, last week about the downsides of the flash (for lighting, that is, though I doubt flashing at your own wedding would produce favourable results either).  I had never really thought about my lighting in this way before, only worshipping it as the enabler it is, allowing me to do the things I love at the only time of the day I actually have to do it.  

For the first time in months I tinkered with the settings on my trusty camera - when you have such a constant and reliable light source when people mention ISO you just assume they're talking about the International Organisation for Standardisation.  Opening up my images on Photoshop I went into autopilot, running through the stock standard makeover steps, but then I took a step back and compared the edited version to my original and noticed how flat and lifeless this new image was.  For the first time in a really long time my shot straight from the camera looked nicer.  

I don't pretend to be an expert on the matter of food photography, hell, I learnt how to do it from a downloaded version of "Digital SLR for Dummies".  I could probably do a course or watch more You Tube videos on the subject but I'm really enjoying the slow and steady approach, sometimes moments like yesterday spent experimenting result in the most rewarding learning processes.  

*the Reece's PB cup espresso brioche and butter pudding has been my most popular recipe on The Hungry Babushka to date, with skyrocketing traffic to this lil' blog.  BREAK THE MOFO INTERNETS!!!  OK, so maybe not quite break-the-internet worthy, but if you do have too many servings of it there is a good chance you will end up with an arse like Kim Kardashian's.

grilled swordfish with tomato olive salsa
Serves 2

2 swordfish fillets
1 middle rasher bacon, rind removed, finely chopped
250g punnet cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 tbsp olive tapenade
2 tbsp olive oil
A dozen basil leaves, shredded
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper

Heat a small, non-stick frypan cook over medium-high heat.  Fry bacon pieces until crispy (about 3-4 mins).  Drain on paper towel and allow to cool.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frypan over medium heat.  Season swordfish generously with salt and pepper then fry for around 4 mins each side or until cooked through (if you've never cooked swordfish before, do note that it is really different than other fish and feels a lot more firm when cooked.  Don't worry, you haven't overcooked it!).

Add remaining oil to tapenade and stir to combine.  In a bowl mix together cooled bacon, cherry tomatoes and basil, then dress with tapenade mixture.

Serve grilled swordfish fillets topped with a generous amount of the tomato olive salsa.

reece's pb cup espresso brioche and butter pudding

pbcupespressobriocheandbutterpudding

Some people dedicate songs to the people the love.  Others write stories or poetry.  Well, I'm dedicating something very dear to me - DESSERTS.  This recipe was created with a very special friend in mind, a person who has been there since the dawn of time, well not quite that long but playing in the school ground together, sporting our uber trendy legionnaires hats at the callow age of 6 seemed like that long ago now.  

Debbie, I don't think I could possibly top your Mum's blog post that made you cry.  I'm still pissed at you for not buying me that bridle I specifically allocated to you as your gift to me one Christmas (despite me not owning a horse and my parents having absolutely no intention of buying me one no matter how convincing my argument was for an eternally-mown back yard).  

When I think back to my earliest experiments in the kitchen you were a steady influence, from the time I made George's Marvellous Medicine and brought it to school in a Chinese takeaway container (it was swiftly confiscated) to experimental cocktails in our teenage years, which were likely just as dangerous and equally revolting looking as the aforementioned.  Nevertheless, crème de menthe, blue curaçao and Baileys cocktails never deterred me from pushing the boundaries in the kitchen - after all, what's the worst thing that could happen apart from a few wasted ingredients or projectile vomiting and getting stuck underneath a coffee table?

We've broken into an abandoned mental asylum on Good Friday in search of ghosts and I never thought I would be more petrified in my life, but now there's big, scary, adult things going on for both of us - you're moving a billion miles away and I'm about to push something out of my vagina the size of a watermelon and then be legally responsible for it for the next 18 years.  I can only hope like hell she doesn't spend her entire teenage years begging us for a miniature horse.  

For this I used the Reece's Peanut Butter Cups yourself and Howen so kindly gifted to us for Christmas this year.  Hand delivered all the way from the USA I felt they were deserving of something a bit more special than just being thrown into my gob.  

Thank you for being my friend xx

reece's pb cub espresso brioche and butter pudding
Serves 4-6 (it's super decadent, you've been warned)

4 small brioche rolls, each sliced into 4 (about the size of a tennis ball)
500ml milk
300ml thickened cream
4 eggs
50g caster sugar
2 shots espresso 
40g unsalted butter, softened
10 mini Reece's peanut butter cups, quartered (they will crumble a bit, that's OK)
2 tbsp demerara sugar
Vanilla ice-cream, to serve

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 160ºC.  Use butter to grease a 23x13cm loaf tin.  

Butter brioche slices on both sides.  Layer half the brioche slices into the base of the loaf tin.  Sprinkle with half the PB cup pieces.  Top with remaining brioche slices and PB cup pieces.  

Combine milk, cream, eggs, caster sugar and espresso in a large bowl then whisk well to combine.  Pour mixture over the brioche layers then sprinkle with demerara sugar.  Pop into the oven for 55-60 mins or until golden and crispy on top and egg mixture has cooked and set.

Serve piping hot with a generous scoop of vanilla ice-cream.