Archive for the ‘Main meals’ Category

Coconut Quinoa Salad with Kale-Cashew Pesto

In Garden, Main meals, Salads on December 8, 2012 at 8:12 pm


I found the recipe for this salad here.

Now, I said I would be including more of my own adaptations and this one probably isn’t the best choice to begin with as I didn’t really need to adapt it at all – except for the pesto, and that was because I didn’t have any fresh cilantro. However, start with it I shall!

I didn’t really have any problems with the salad itself; it is dead simple. However, unlike the recipe, I did use normal quinoa (which assumably is white quinoa) and didn’t find it to be too bland! But each to their own. It did need a bit of time to sit before I could use it for the salad, just so that last bit of moisture to evaporate. I used some of the kale from my monster garden harvest. Before making the pesto, I toasted the coconut and cashews in the oven (in which I happened to be roasting some artichokes) for a bit of extra flavour. I used use coconut threads as opposed to flakes; less pretty, but cheaper and slightly more versatile.

While the tropical pesto from the original recipe looked amazing, I was quite happy to use up some more of my kale to make kale pesto. I’ve done it before with walnuts and been very happy with the result, as I was here. Toasting the nuts beforehand definitely makes a difference! I would say you’ll get a much better result than buying already roasted nuts.

All you need is:

generous bunch kale, approx. 2-3 cups, stems removed and roughly chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic, depending on their size and how much you love garlic!

2-3 cup cashews, preferably toasted

olive oil

dash lemon juice

salt and pepper, if desired

Chuck everything in your food processor and get keep processing until it reaches the consistency you want; you might want it chunky, you might prefer it smooth. Myself, I like it relatively smooth but with a few chunks remaining. The cashews seemed to take longer to process than the walnuts, so be patient! You can adjust the consistency by adding more olive oil, but try not to add too much. I also didn’t bother to add salt and pepper this time and it tasted fine, but obviously a small amount of salt and pepper never hurts!


Hare, Hare, Hare! And pie.

In Main meals, Pastry, Pie on August 6, 2012 at 3:33 am

I was lucky enough to be presented with another hare from my parents and decided to give cooking it another go. I more or less ended up doing the same two things with it that I did last time, but I definitely think this was a improvement! Though perhaps a bit more work. I got the recipe for civet of hare (or jugged hare) from this blog, which I will definitely look to in future if I find myself endowed with a hare or rabbit again. The recipe itself is seriously involved, but well worth the effort and packed full of flavour. Like last time, I didn’t find the meat to be tough at all, and despite the many steps in the recipe, I didn’t find it too hard to follow either. The only thing that I don’t think I fully nailed was the thickening part at the end, but it wasn’t really ruined like the recipe suggests is possible if that doesn’t quite work.

I’m afraid I didn’t really photograph the hare during the civey process, except for what the pot looked like just before marinating the meat for a night. Look at the beautiful colour! And that isn’t just from the red wine and brandy marinade…

After the civet, which I served to my friends, I wanted to find a different way to use the leftovers. I was torn between a recipe I’ve been wanting to try ages, which was for a hunter’s risotto, but also was craving a hare pie, similar to the one I made last time. In the end I decided I didn’t really have the meat called for in the risotto recipe, so went for pie again. How can you go wrong with pie? Besides, I’m getting rusty, I haven’t made one for a while. I also had a new pastry recipe and technique in mind – so decided to combine them with the leftover civet, without any other alterations.

The pastry recipe comes from 101 cookbooks, and the technique from here, via 101 cookbooks.

This was what the pie looked like before going into the oven. I am actually really excited about this new technique for making pastry (well, new to me anyway) and will definitely be using it in the future. It just makes the pastry so much stronger and easy to use, so is definitely worth the extra time. I will probably make a double batch to freeze next time I do it. I also like the rye flour variation suggested by 101 cookbooks, I thought it would compliment the hare well. However, I ended up with more pastry than I expected and got really excited, so I used my giant pie dish (which never happens) but unfortunately didn’t quite have as much hare as I thought, which is why the shape is a perhaps a bit odd. There was also a bit too much liquid in the civet, so I really had to wait until the pie had cooled completely before it could really be eaten. The photos at the top were actually taken the following morning, which is why the colour is somewhat bleached out. It made a lovely, rich, hearty breakfast. I have put half of it in the freezer, so I can treat myself with it later. All up, can’t wait until I can have another round with some hare! This is what the pie looked like out of the oven:



Saffron Series III: arancine di riso

In Cheese, Egg, Main meals, Rice on August 1, 2012 at 12:24 pm


Continuing with my saffron posts, here is a recipe for a delicious snack/main meal which is very similar to a post I made a while back about suppli, except that here we have the Sicilian variation arancine.

According to Maxine Clark; “These crisp balls, stuffed with leftover meat ragu (or in my case, cheese) are eaten as street food in Sicily. However, when made cocktail snack size, they are perfect to serve with drinks. Unlike making a true risotto, you want to overcook the rice to make it really stick together. The mixture should be very thick before it is cooled and can be made with leftover risotto.”


75g butter

1 onion, finely chopped

150 ml dry white wine

275 risotto rice

900 ml vegetable or chicken stock

8 saffron threads or 1/4 tsp powdered saffron

25g parmesan cheese

1 small egg

250g meat ragu or cheese or some other filling

salt and pepper

oil, for deep frying


100g plain flour

2 large eggs, beaten

125g dired white breadcrumbs


deep fryer


Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan and add the onion. Cook gently for 10 minutes until soft and golden but not browned. Pour in the wine and boil hard until reduced and almost disappeared. Stir in the rice and coat with the butter and wine. Add a ladle of stock and add the saffron and simmer, stirring until absorbed. Continue adding the stock until all the stock has been absorbed. The rice should be very tender, thick and golden.

Taste and season well and stir in the parmesan. Lightly whisk the egg and beat in the risotto. Spread out on a plate and let cool completely, about an hour. Take 1 tablespoon cold risotto, and with damp hands spread out onto one palm. Mound a small teaspoon of filling in the centre. Take another tablespoon of risotto and enclose filling. Roll and smooth between hands to form a perfect ball. Alternatively, make a cone shape with a rounded end. Continue until all the risotto and filling has been used.

To make coating, put the flour on a plate, the beaten egg in a shallow dish and the breadcrumbs in another. Roll the arancine in the flour, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs until evenly coated. At this stage, they can be covered and left in the refrigerator for up to a day.

Het up oil or fat in a deep fryer to 180 degrees. Fry a few arancine at a time until coating is golden, around 3-5 minutes (mine were a bit quicker). Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. However, I have eaten them cold and they were also fine…depends on how fussy you are!

Saffron Series II: Saffron Risotto/ risotto allo zafferano

In Cheese, Main meals, Rice on July 29, 2012 at 9:55 am

As promised, here is the second of my saffron posts. I made this for lunch today to take to share with friends at uni. The recipe came from my risotto bible, Maxine Clark’s ‘Risotto with vegetables, seafood, meat and more.’ If you are a fan of risotto and haven’t yet seen it (which I find hard to believe) then you definitely should! Risotto isn’t that hard to make if you know how to do it, and all it takes is good quality ingredients for meal for an average meal to be turned into a sumptuous risotto. Clark’s recipe for saffron risotto was very simple, but it was truly divine – especially on a wet and windy Auckland afternoon/evening!



1 – 1.5 litres hot vegetable stock or light chicken stock

125 g butter

1 onion finely chopped

(I also always add 2 cloves of chopped garlic, or smoked garlic if I have it)

500g risotto rice (your choice, I always go with arborio)

150ml dry white wine (I just use a generous wine glass rather than measuring)

1/4 tsp ground saffron or 16 saffron threads

75g grated parmesan

salt and pepper


Put the stock in a saucepan and keep at a gentle simmer. Melt half the butter in a large, heavy saucepan and add the chopped onion and garlic, if using. Cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes, so the onions are soft, golden and translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir until well coated with butter and heated through. Pour in the wine and stir until it had reduced down and almost disappeared.

Add the stock, one ladle at a time, stirring until the liquid has almost dissolved between each addition. Add the saffron after the first ladle. The risotto should be kept at a bare simmer throughout, don’t let the rice dry out! Continue cooking until the rice is tender and creamy, but the grains are still firm to the bite.

Taste and season well with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining butter and add all the parmesan. Cover and let rest for a few minutes before serving, and add a little bit more stock to loosen it if you think it is necessary.