Friday, March 2, 2012

Mediterranean Flavours / Greece

Most recently Melbourne celebrated Greek culture by hosting a festival in our city. This dish brings together some of the wonderful flavours we love from Greek cuisine.

'Flavours from our Mediterranean kitchen'
serves 4


600g lamb or beef mince
3 large red and green capsicums
2-3 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced 3mm-4mm
1 eggplant
2 large mushrooms
1/2 large brown onion or 1 small
2-3 cloves garlic
100 ml white wine
200ml Good quality vegetable stock
*if you don't have time to make your own,
then we suggest Maggie Beers Vegetable stock
3 TBS olive oil 
1 TSP mild organic chilli paste (we use 1 TBS)
1 TBS tomato paste
160 ml pasatta or 1 can of diced tomatoes
1-2 heaped TSP oregano fresh from your garden or market
1 heaped TBS parsley fresh from your garden or market
cracked black pepper

For the tzatziki;
1/4 cucumber finely sliced lengthways and then diced
170g Greek yoghurt
1/2 lemon (juice)

Brush capsicums with 1 tbs olive oil, season with salt and cracked pepper, and place into preheated oven 230 - 240 degrees. Roast until skin blisters and blackens.
Peel and thinly slice potatoes 3mm - 4mm and place into small baking tray, cover in vegetable stock liquid and place in oven for 10-5 mins. The potatoes should be tender but still firm enough to not turn mushy and break later when you add them to the mince sauce.
Begin your chopping.
Finely dice cucumber, place into bowl with yoghurt, add squeeze of lemon juice, mix, cover with cling wrap and place in refrigerator.
Slice rounds from eggplant then cut rounds into halves. Place the eggplant pieces into colander, sprinkle with salt and leave for 20 minutes.
Slice mushroom and put aside.
Finely dice garlic cloves and onion and place aside.
Once capsicums ready remove from oven, place in bowl, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate.
Once potatoes ready remove from oven, place clean tea towel over dish and place aside.
Begin cooking your sauce - In a pot (we use Le Creuset, expensive but well worth it!), sweat onion and garlic over low-medium heat. Onion should cook without colour as per photo. Add mince and turn up heat to med-high, breaking up the mince and mixing through onion and garlic. Once mince starts to turn brown from pink add white wine and remaining vegetable stock liquid from potatoes, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring. 
Bring sauce to a simmering temperature.
Add pinch pepper and taste. If you need more seasoning then add it.
Wash eggplants to remove salt, pat dry with absorbent paper.
Add tomato paste and chilli paste to mince and stir through.
Add eggplant to mince sauce and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Add passata or diced tomatoes, and mushrooms to sauce, stir though and turn to low heat.
Take capsicum from refrigerator, peel and remove skin and seeds as per photo. Add capsicum to blender and hit the pulse button 1 or 2 times. You want the capsicum chunky, not pureed. Once complete, place into sauce with oregano and parsley and potato. Stir through to warm potato and serve.

Serve with Tzatziki and some crusty bread.


*this dish is also great the next day

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Autumn / Embracing a new season brings new opportunities

Happy Autumn to everyone in the Southern Hemisphere and Happy Spring to those in the Northern Hemisphere. Our favourite seasons are Autumn and Spring. We love the vibrant rustic colours of Autumn and the blossoms and promise of new life that Springs brings us. We look forward to cooking some delicious dishes throughout Autumn, so stay tuned. Here is a favourite Autumn Poem to share with you all;

'Come, little leaves'

"Come, little leaves," said the wind one day,
"Come o'er the meadows with me and play;
Put on your dresses of red and gold,
For summer is gone and the days grow cold."
Soon as the leaves heard the wind's loud call,
Down they came fluttering, one and all;
Over the brown fields they danced and flew,
singing the glad little songs they knew.

By George Cooper

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Caramelised Pear Cake / Desserts

As we launch 'Stressed is Desserts spelled backwards" Sweet Monday desserts, we couldn't think of a better recipe to feature first, than this one! This cake is incredibly moist, luxurious and decadent. The pears goes back beautifully with the caramel, and as we are approaching Autumn/Winter here in the Southern hemisphere, pears are at their absolute best. The perfect dessert to share with neighbours, friends and family. Adrian Richardson (mentioned in an earlier post) is a renowned Melbourne celebrity chef - go to to find out more about Adrian and his La Luna Bistro.

Caramelised Pear Cake by Adrian Richardson
serves 8-10


2 pears, peeled, cored and cut into small dice
2 tbs brandy or rum
3 eggs
120g caster sugar
160g plain flour
1 tbs baking powder
140g unsalted butter, melted

Caramelised Pears

120g unsalted butter
400g caster sugar
5 pears, peeled, quartered and cored

Combine the diced pears and brandy or rum in a bowl and set aside. Thoroughly butter a kugelhopf tin.

We didn't have one so we used another round cake tin and it worked fine but without the gorgeous patterns of the kugelhopf tin, which does look very impressive!

Cut strips of baking paper about 10cm wide and lay them around the base of the tin, aiming to cover the base and reach a short way up the sides. This will prevent the pears from sticking to the tin.

To make the caramelised pears, melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the sugar and stir over medium heat until dissolved. Increase the temperature to medium-high heat and cook for 8-10 mins to a golden caramel (it's extremely important that you don't burn the caramel, it will taste bitter - so manage the temperature).

Carefully add the pear quarters (the caramel may splutter and spit, so be careful) and cook for 10-12 mins, tossing the pan gently to coat the pears in caramel - they will release their juices and stop the caramel from burning. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for a few moments. Lift the pears out of the caramel and arrange them overlapping around the base of the tin. Reserve the caramel.

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. To make the cake, beat the eggs and sugar until pale, thick and creamy. Sift on the flour and baking powder, then gently fold them into the eggs. Drizzle on the melted butter and fold it in. Gently fold in the diced pears and alcohol.

Spoon the batter into the tin to cover the caramelised pears, then drizzle the reserved caramel over the top. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean (we found the time took a little longer, but that could be because of the tin we used).

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 5-10mins (this is crucial! Don't try and rush this step! We didn't wait long enough and when we turned the tin upside down we had a little problem...the caramel hadn't set enough and the cake wasn't as stable as it should have been! Lesson learned), then invert it onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Carefully peel away the baking paper. Serve the cake with thickened cream - a must :)!

We found our cake to be very moist for a week!