Birthdays are FUN

Tomorrow is Zachie’s 5th birthday so we had a party for him on the weekend and it was a rip roaring success. He was in heaven seeing all his friends in the one place, declared they’re all his BEST FRIENDS! I went the traditional route of pass the parcel and hide and seek but for the most part the kids just played and had fun.


On the menu there were funfetti cup cakes  which I have made before and my helpers do love to put the 100’s & 1000’s on them. A fruit platter with Truck watermelon, Little Sausages in pita bread, and slow roasted lamb souvlaki with Baba ganoush and Tzatziki. Jelly Oranges & a Prime Mover Road Train birthday cake!

Truck Watermelon

Just like my Mummy used to make :)

Just like my Mummy used to make 🙂

I wanted to be able to prepare almost everything but I thought it would be fun for the kids to be able to make their own little souvlaki. So I roasted two mini lamb legs and served them with some roasted potatoes and all the bits that go with them.

Needless to say I got a mouthful, hubby reported it was all fantastic! 😀

Slow Roasted Lamb

You will need

2 mini lamb roasts (or 1 big one)

2 large cloves of garlic, sliced

50 g butter

handful of fresh oregano, chopped

Juice of 2 lemons

Olive oil

Salt & Pepper

250 mls of water

4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into medium chunks.

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Make a couple of incisions in the lamb and slot in some of the garlic, put the lamb into your roasting pan and season, sprinkle over the oregano, remaining garlic and pour over the lemon juice, olive oil and add the water to the bottom of the pan. Put the butter in knobs over the lamb and roast for 15 mins on each side.

Then turn the oven down to 160 degrees Celsius, add the potatoes to the pan and toss in the juices and cover and bake for at least 2 & 1/2 hours or until done. You want the lamb to literally fall off the bone and be able to break it up with a fork.

Baba Ganoush

This is really too easy for words, once you’ve made it a couple of times I think you can play around with the quantities and be guided by your tastes. I used 3 medium size eggplants to make enough for 20 people.

You will need:

3 medium eggplants

1 large clove of garlic

1/2 cup tahini

400 mls natural yoghurt

Juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil

smokey paprika

Place the eggplants over the gas burner on your stove and allow them to “Cook” for 10 mins on each side or until they start to collapse in on themselves. It’s important to keep an eye on them though. Once they’re charred all over remove from the heat and place in a plastic bag and allow to sweat for 10 mins.

Then carefully remove the skin from the eggplant, you need to make sure that none of the charred skin remains otherwise your dip will taste burnt rather than smokey. Set the eggplant aside.

In a mortar and pestle crush your garlic with 2 tsp of salt, then add some of the eggplant (this depends on the size of your mortar) you can fork it as well, but you want it chunky and not completely smooth. Transfer the mix to a large bowl and add the tahini, yoghurt, any remaining eggplant and lemon juice.

Mix well and pour into your serving dish/bowl. Make a little well in the centre and pour over some olive oil and sprinkle with a small amount of paprika.

Prime Mover Birthday Cake


Stuffed Eggplants

Yummy hey? Now this is a little fiddly, but oh my goodness they’re delicious and worth it. I am deliriously happy as this was my second attempt at these tasty little morsels, this time with meat & hubby loved them! They’re great because you can make them and then stick it in the fridge and leave it there for a day or so, or even freeze them and then take them out in the morning and stick in the oven when you get home from work etc.

You will need:

8 Lebanese eggplants (they’re the long skinny ones)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

500g lamb mince

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed.

1 Litre of tomato passata or 3 tins of crushed tomatoes

1 heaped tsp smokey paprika + 1/2 tsp extra

1 heaped tsp ground cumin  + 1/2 tsp extra

small handful of finely chopped parsley

200g danish feta

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 brown onion diced.

Cut the eggplants in half & scoop out the flesh leaving the skins intact. Set the flesh aside. Place the skins in a large pot of boiling salted water and ensure that they remain submerged under the water. (a smaller saucepan lid on top of them works)

Dice the remaining eggplant flesh and pan fry in extra virgin olive oil with the garlic & onion until golden and tender, add the mince and ensure that you break up any lumps, continue to saute until golden brown. Add the spices & salt & pepper, then 500ml of the tomato passata and stir to combine.

Drain the eggplant skins and set aside to cool slightly.

In another saucepan add some garlic, olive oil 1/2 tsp paprika & cumin with salt & pepper to taste, and the remaining tomato passata, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 mins, check taste for seasoning.

Take a large oven proof dish and pour the tomato sauce onto the base of the dish, fill the skins with the stuffing and place in the tomato sauce – nestle in close together but don’t over fill them too much. Once they’re all done, sprinkle with any remaining meat sauce, parsley and top with crumbled feta.

Cook in the oven for 30 -40 mins at 180 degrees celsius or 350 farenheit. Serve with crusty bread & a green salad.

You can easily omit the mince meat if you’re vegetarian and add some finely diced celery & or mushrooms at the same time as you pan fry the eggplant.

Easy Sunday Breakfast

Weekends are the times when we’ll have something a bit gourmet for breakfast, and that might be both days or just Sundays when Hubby has worked Saturday, so this morning I had some Lebanese sausages that needed to be used up so I did a bit of a Moroccan – Halal Twist on Bacon & Eggs. Quantities are dependant on how many you want to feed & how hungry you are. There were 4 spare snags so that’s what I used and the Lebanese sausages from Istanbul Halal Butchers on Sydney Rd are about 1/2 the size of a normal sausage, obviously you can use any type of sausage you fancy.

You will need:

1/2 a brown onion diced.

Lug of Olive Oil

2/3 of a 400g tin of crushed tomatoes.

1/2 tsp ground cumin & paprika

3 eggs

Salt & Pepper to taste

4 small sausages

2 crusty ciabatta rolls

Gently fry the onions in olive oil in a frying pan, add the sausages & shake them around to brown all over, add the crushed tomatoes & spices stirring well. Simmer for 8 mins or until the juices have reduced to become thick, crack the eggs around the pan, if you have a lid for your frying pan put it on the pan and cook for 3 mins or so depending on how you like your eggs cooked. Check the sauce for seasoning & serve with crusty bread and a sprinkling of chopped parsley if you’re feeling posh!

Naturally coffee & orange juice are required accompaniments 😀

Veal Shanks with Onions & Preserved Lemon

My Mum is having people for dinner on Saturday night and she asked me to cook for her. I had made her some Osso Bucco a couple of weekends ago and they loved it so we were intending to make the same again, but then on Saturday night I cooked the Cauliflower & Carrot Tajine (the one with Lamb but this time we did it vegetarian) and she decided she wanted me to do a Moroccan Feast, they’d already purchased enough Osso Bucco aka Veal Shanks for 10 people so I thought I need to come up with a way to cook them that’s Moroccan Inspired & this is what I came up with. Serves 10.

You will need

10 pieces of Osso Bucco

6 medium to large brown onions, sliced

6 large cloves of garlic

2 1/2 preserved lemons (1/4 per person)

1 Tbsp ground cumin

2 heaped tsp smokey paprika

handful of lemon thyme

4 bay leaves

Salt & Pepper

Olive Oil

Flour for Dusting

500 ml vegetable stock plus extra water if required.

You will need either a large roasting pan with deep sides, a large cast iron pot or something similar ideally with a tight-fitting lid. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Dust the osso bucco with flour and set aside, heat a large frying pan or cast iron saucepan, add about 2 Tbsp olive oil and brown the meat on each side, you will need to do this in batches of about 3 or so depending on the size of the pieces of meat.

Set the browned pieces of meat aside as they’re done in a bowl so you can retain the juices and add to the dish with the stock. Once all the meat is browned add some extra olive oil and fry the onions, garlic, spices, pepper & thyme. Cook for about 5 mins add the meat back into the pan and cover with stock, divide the preserved lemon into quarters and tuck in and around the meat. Don’t add any salt at this stage as there will be salt from the preserved lemons and it’s better to need to add more at the end than it be too salty.

Ensure everything is covered with liquid and cover with lid or a couple of layers of tin foil and place in oven and cook for at least an hour before moving the pieces of meat around, return to oven and cook for another hour or more, until the meat comes away from the bone.  I have made this in advance and will skim the fat once it’s cooled. The flavours will develop over night so you will end up with a lovely rich casserole. Re heat in the oven for about 30 – 40 mins ensure you remove the stalks of the thyme prior to serving. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste.

We are going to serve this with crusty bread and a Carrot & Cauliflower tajine. You could serve it with Mashed Potatoes, Polenta or Couscous.

RDO Dinner – Chicken Kebabs

Today was Hubby’s RDO so we’ve had a very relaxing day together, sleeping in, snoozing in the afternoon and general fun with Daddy. The best thing about an RDO is it extends the weekend so with the aim of maintaining the relaxed atmosphere we love a BBQ to complete that feeling. Tonight we made one of our favourite meals, this is something we have at least once a week through summer and will be a fantastic addition to your repertoire. Oh & if you have a little rascal like us you can put them to work with the “Squishing” of the marinade into the chicken. If they’re a bit older you can get them to thread the meat onto the kebabs.

Chermoula Chicken Kebabs – Makes 8 kebabs

600g Chicken Thighs diced & fatty bits removed

Chermoula Marinade

Handful of flat leaf Italian Parsley & Coriander, chopped

2 tsp Ground Cumin

2 tsp Paprika

2 large Garlic cloves, diced

Zest & juice of 1 lemon

Salt & Pepper

3 Tbsp Olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and allow to marinate for at least 30 mins, ideally for 2 or more hours.

Prior to cooking, thread meat onto either bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water or metal skewers. BBQ for approx 5-7 mins on each side or until golden brown & cooked through.

Tonight we served ours with bread, a tomato & cucumber salad, black olives & hot homemade chips. We also have it with Rice, but these make a fantastic addition to any BBQ in fact you could triple your chermoula mix and use it to marinate BBQ Chops, chicken wings or chicken spare ribs as part of a platter.

Lamb & Eggplant Meat Balls

500gms Lamb Mince
400gms Eggplant finely diced
2 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup chopped italian parsley
1/3 cup chopped mint
Rind of 1 lemon grated
Sea Salt & Freshly Ground pepper
Olive oil.

Salt the egg plant for at least 10 minutes, rinse and dice, spread onto an oven tray and drizzle with olive oil, roast until golden (approx 20 mins at 180 degrees celcius) You will need to move them about a bit too.

Put all the other ingredients into a bowl, once the eggplant is ready allow it to cool slightly and add to the mix. Mix it all together and shape into balls. The recipe said to use a non stick frying pan – which is definitely a good idea as the mix is quite soft and they will stick. Pan fry gently in olive oil to colour and then transfer to an oven tray and bake to finish.

If you are planning ahead, you could pan fry them and then set aside till you need them and finish them off in the oven.

The Original recipe comes from Donna Hay Seasons cookbook, but she used beef mince & includes 200gms of Feta. We’ve found after making them several times that with the feta they’re very very salty, almost too salty to eat so I’ve decided to leave out the feta which also makes them less messy to make. If you decide to include the feta then please make sure you rinse the eggplant really well and perhaps don’t bother adding an extra salt.

If you are planning on making them to serve at a party then I would recommend rolling the mix in breadcrumbs prior to cooking as it helps to hold them together & serve them with some minted yoghart labne.

They’re a hit with everyone and great served with Rice & salad or in a bread roll.