Tag Archives: everyday cooking

Recipe: Baked Cauliflower

This is a very simple recipe, from a book called Reds, Whites, and Greens, by Faith Willunger As you might have gathered from the title, it’s a book of Italian things to do with vegetables.  I’m yet to find a bad recipe in this book, which I will be reviewing in the near future.  This recipe is lovely and fresh tasting, and gives cauliflower a zing I had not previously thought possible.  It’s like a light version of cauliflower cheese.  Only nicer.

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1 head of cauliflower, purple if possible
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 bunch parsley, flat leaf if possible
50g parmesan
salt, pepper

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Recipe: Lemony Garlicky Fractal Broccoli with Pasta

I wanted to call this creamy lemony garlicky floral fractal broccoli with pasta, but I thought that might be a tad long.   I haven’t cooked or eaten Romanesco Broccoli before, and the recipes I had all seemed to involve cutting it up small or mashing it, which may taste nice, but does seem to miss the point.  If you have something that looks as spectacular as this broccoli does, it seems rather a pity to pulverise it.  This recipe is lovely and fresh, and has almost a floral taste to it, which surprised me – I think it’s probably from the lemon, but a little bit of it is from the fractal broccoli too.  After all, broccoli is a flower…

Your Shopping List:

extra virgin olive oil
3 small leeks
4-5 small peppers (I used Italian sweet frying peppers, which have a lot of flavour and sweetness but no heat)
6 cloves of garlic
2 heads of broccoli romanesco
zest and juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup white wine
salt, pepper
125g fresh ricotta (not the stuff from a tub)
75g pine nuts, toasted
500g pasts (I used giant rotelle – any big, ridged pasta would do, though)
75g parmesan, grated
1/3 cup fresh mint, sliced
(Vegan / dairy-free variation below)

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Recipe: Pasta Carbonara, my way

My father’s family is from the Basilicata region of Italy, and even after moving to Australia, my Nonna and Nonno would make their own sausage every year.  I think one of my great-uncles kept pigs, or maybe just one pig each year, who was the source of said sausages. I never enquired. Nonna’s sausages were big, cured, salami-like things that would hang from the garage roof or from a hook in our pantry for weeks or months without going off.  They were fairly highly spiced, I think with chilli and fennel seed, but I could be making that up, and you had to slice them thickly and cook them to render the big chunks of fat before eating them.

Pasta carbonara, in my family, was made with chunks of this sausage, and not  with ham – if there was no sausage, my mother would use ham or bacon and add paprika to the dish, because the important thing about carbonara was that it had to be spicy.  If it was not spicy, we were told, it was not proper carbonara.  We never put cream in the recipe, either – it was all held together with eggs, ideally from Nonno’s chooks.  Nonna’s sausage and mum’s carbonara were two of my favourite foods as a child, and I was terribly disappointed the first time I ordered carbonara at a restaurant and got this weird, bland, creamy thing with ham.  Not the same thing at all.

The recipe is not my mother’s, though it started there.  It has since evolved to fit the ingredients I can get, with a few ideas from Rachel Ray thrown in.  It goes without saying that my carbonara does not taste anything like the carbonara you get at restaurants, though it is clearly a related dish.

I maintain that this is the only true and authentic way to make pasta carbonara.

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250g spicy soppressa or Calabrese salami, whole, not sliced
2 bunches flat-leaf parsley
150g parmesan cheese, grated (the real stuff, please)
6 cloves of garlic
1 cup white wine
4 eggs
400g pasta (penne or penne rigate are my favourite kind for this)
black pepper
3 big tomatoes
2 capsicums
lettuce or cucumber
balsamic or red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil

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Recipe: Choc-Chip Cookies for Scientists who have had a Very Bad Day

One of my very nicest postdocs just discovered that the freezer had defrosted, taking all her experiments with it. Her partner, another particularly delightful postdoc, had a Bad Grant Day.  And one of the PhD students came into my office asking the sort of questions about my job that suggest that her write-up is not going well.  Altogether a No Good, Very Bad Science Day.

It will come as no surprise to you that my response to distressed scientists (to distressed anyone, really) is to feed them.  Besides, my lab is full of deserving scientists who could use more chocolate in their lives…

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75g butter, softened
60ml canola oil (1/4 cup, if you are going metric)
100g caster sugar
110g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
100g rolled oats
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
180g good quality dark chocolate, chopped.  I mean it!  70% cocoa or more, please – choc chips just will not have the same effect.

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Recipe: Three Roasted Vegetable Soups

Three recipes in one post today, because it’s the same (very easy!) method, but with markedly different flavours.  I’ve given recipes for a very simple but delicious pumpkin soup, a subtly perfumed beetroot soup and a creamy Jerusalem artichoke soup, but you could use this method to make a soup out of any root vegetable you liked (though you would need to change the roasting times and the seasoning accordingly).  Myself, I think it’s crying out for a good sweet-spicy roast carrot incarnation, perhaps with maple syrup and ginger, but three soups is enough for one evening!  Don’t be tempted to buy stock.  The stock recipe below takes all of 5 minutes of hands-on cooking time and it will taste far better than anything you could buy at the supermarket.  And your soups deserve a good stock.  Trust me.

Roast Pumpkin Soup

Your Shopping List…

olive oil
800g pumpkin (buy 1kg, because you’ll lose some of the weight in seeds and skin)
2 brown onions
rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper

1 large carrot
1 large onion
2 celery sticks
2 roma tomatoes
5 large sprigs of parsley.  Or more.
1 bay leaf
1 sage leaf
1 small sprig rosemary
pinch of saffron

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Recipe: Arroz con Pollo with Peas

This recipe is adapted from Andrea Chesman’s book Serving Up the Harvest.  I’ve made this recipe with snow peas, sugar snap peas, green beans or broadbeans supplementing or replacing the peas, and I often add paprika, chilli, oregano, thyme, or whatever other vaguely Spanish herbs and spices seem good to me.  It’s an, easy, tasty and healthy supper dish that makes a nice lunch the next day.

Your Shopping List…

2 cups basmati rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock (homemade if you have it)
1/2 cup dry sherry (though I’ve used marsala on occasion)
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tbsp olive oil
500g boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1 inch cubes
1 onion, diced
1 fresh chilli, or see my suggestion above regarding dried herbs and spices
4 crushed garlic cloves (but I won’t tell if you use more)
2 cups fresh peas, frozen peas or a combination of these with snow or sugar snap peas, or broadbeans
2 roasted red peppers, sliced (or more! fire-roasted peppers are particularly good here)
20 pimiento-stuffed green olives, sliced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper

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Review: Serving Up the Harvest, by Andrea Chesman

I bought this book a few years ago, when I discovered the wonderful world of vegetable boxes delivered to your door and was trying to work out what to do with all those brassicas (cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts are fine in moderation, but when you get all of them in the same box, it’s another matter).

(By the way, isn’t the cover gorgeous?  So colourful and cheerful! Lovely!)

Anyway, this book did not entirely solve my vegetable box problems, but it did make a good start on the problem… while being instrumental in creating a new one…

Chesman’s target audience is, I think, the kitchen gardener.  The one who put too many zucchini plants in the ground last year and couldn’t give them away.  Or maybe the one who never realised just how much silverbeet you get from one plant.  And let’s not forget the one who didn’t know that Jerusalem artichokes were that prolific (she says with feeling).  Her recipes therefore assume that you have a lot of a particular ingredient and are trying to figure out what to do with it all.

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