Butterfly Salad – using up your leftovers

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Christmas has come and gone as too has New Years Eve and we’ve had lots of left overs in the fridge. Our kids are spending almost every day in the pool and that will definitely be the case for the next week as we head into a week of between 30 & 40 degrees Celsius. I decided yesterday the best way to ensure they eat dinner was to feed them by the pool so I made up a salad of diced cucumber, tomatoes, feta & lettuce dressed with a little balsamic vinegar, sliced some yellow & red capsicums (bell peppers) and cooked up some of the leftover veggies in the fridge like asparagus, add to that some BBQ sausages & lamb chops from the night before and voila you have a salad which was demolished quick smart! Although the asparagus was fed to Daddy 😀 all round though a colourful tasty combination.

Dinosaur Salad

We were watching Peppa Pig the other day, Sophia loves her and every time she says Peppa Pig she snorts like a pig which is hilarious – to me anyway 🙂 – So Peppa’s brother George wouldn’t eat his salad which Grandpa Pig had grown in his own garden, so Grandpa Pig tore up the pieces of lettuce and made a dinosaur with it and cucumber & tomatoes.

Soph & Zachie thought it was great and tonight we had a go at it as well. I have found that a sure fire way to get the kids to eat is to get them involved in making the food. Tonight was no different. Zachie had grazed all day so wolfed down this salad followed by a bowl of weetbix, another great alternative to dinner when you know if they don’t eat something they’ll be up through the night!

Now I do have to confess that I have no issue at all with getting either of our kids to eat salad, they love it and would quite possibly eat only salad, some nights it’s a fight for who gets the most.

My dear friend gave me her wonderful garden salad recipe and it’s a staple in our house even through winter, I love salad in preference to vegies any day as does Hubby, which is probably where the kids get it from as well.

If you struggle to get your kids to eat salads or vegetables or just want to make it a bit more fun, this could be the way… stay tuned for a Semi Trailer styled salad soon.

Dee’s delicious Salad

You will need for 2 adults & 2 kids

1 tomato diced

1 decent sized Lebanese cucumber peeled, forked & quartered

4-6 coz lettuce leaves, rinsed and chopped

100gms of danish fetta, crumbled

dash of balsamic vinegar

Combine the ingredients in a salad bowl, mix well and serve. We do also add avocado &/or olives on occasion too.

Sweet Corn

Corn, we love the stuff – you know it’s in so many things in many different forms, but we like corn au naturale or popped as in popcorn. Autumn in Melbourne is gorgeous – no doubt about it, the mornings are cool & crisp and days for the most part a glorious sunshine, although having said that undoubtedly the weather will change in the next 10 mins and then change again as most Melburnians know. Autumn is also bring us a change in what’s available and in season at the market, corn is on that list! Yay!! For a list of seasonal fruit & vegetables click here.

Fresh corn is one of those things that you can use in a lot of other things like fried rice, corn jacks, on the barbeque, in salads, the possibilities are almost endless, we as I said like ours plain and simple.

I usually cut our cobs in half and everyone gets a half each as I’d usually serve it with other things as well, but tonight Sophia kept opening the fridge and pointing to the corn with a bit of an err err (she’s still on one to two words at 1 & 1/2 years of age) she’s definitely able to get across to us what she wants.

So corn on it’s own is what they had for dinner. Husk your corn and remove as much of the silk as you can, place them in a pot that is large enough to fit them in, cover with water and bring to the boil, boil for about 5-8 mins. Don’t add any salt to the water as this causes the corn kernels to go tough, you can add it later if you like.

That’s it.. simple, quick and easy and for kids it’s really a meal in its self. You can of course add butter, salt & pepper, even Lime juice which comes highly recommended.(thanks Liesel) pretty much anything else you fancy.

Summer Salads

So firstly I have to apologise for the lack of posts over the last 2 months, if you’re following me on facebook then you will have had a few updates with ideas, but I haven’t really had time to sit down and write out the recipes I’ve trialed & developed as I have gone back to work and while technically it’s part time, the co ordination has taken some negotiating as anyone with small children will know.

Anyway, I am back and I will be making time for at least 1 post a week, I figure I can definitely handle that and hopefully more. So given we in Melbourne have been having some warmish weather – although as I am typing a cool change is coming through with large rain droplets & that gorgeous smell that comes with rain on a summer day and blowing away the heat.

Hubby has had a 4 day weekend this week so we’ve been having salads for lunch. Zachie wanted to try some snow peas and I have been thinking of a way I can include these in a meal as we aren’t really a stir fry family, here is my version of Salad Nicoise.

You will need

1 Large tin of Tuna, drained.
handful of Snow Peas trimmed
1-2 diced tomatoes
8 baby Cos lettuce leaves
1 small green or red capsicum
4 hard boiled eggs

For the Dressing you will need

1/4 cup extra virgin Olive Oil
1 small clove of garlic
3 anchovies
1-2 Tbsp vinegar

Slice the snow peas into small pieces & blanched in lightly salted boiling water, leave them in for a minute and then drain and refresh in iced water to stop the cooking process. Put the eggs on to boil – approx 7 mins depending on whether you prefer them hard or soft.
In a morter & pestle crush the garlic, add salt & pepper to taste & the anchovies, mash it all together and add the olive oil with enough vinegar to taste, adjust the seasoning as required & set aside.

In another bowl mix break up the tuna, add the sliced capsicum, tomatoes & lettuce & snow peas pour over the dressing and mix well & place onto or into your serving bowl or platter. Peel the eggs and cut into halves or quarters, arrange over the salad and season lightly.

Serve with Crusty bread if desired.

Yesterday we also made a tuna salad, but had avocado & cucumber in it, it was equally delicious!

Lemon Oil, Pesto Oil, Harissa

So cutting right to the chase, these are very simple and lovely gifts to give for Christmas, when you’re invited for dinner or keep for yourself, they’re quite simple & easy to make, you just need to ensure your bottles are clean & sterilised and slightly warm before you fill them.

Lemon Oil

Lemon Rind from 1 lemon

500 mls Good quality olive oil

Wash the lemon thoroughly and remove the rind with a potato peeler, ensuring there is no pith on the rind, warm the olive oil to 180 degrees with the lemon rind in the pan. Allow to cook slightly and pour into a bottle or jar. Allow to steep for a week, then drain to remove the rind and re bottle. Keep in a cool dark place.

Pesto Oil

Handful of Basil stems

2-3 cloves of garlic

Rind of parmesan cheese.

500 mls good quality olive oil

Wash the stalks of the basil & place into a saucepan with the cloves of garlic & parmesan rind, add the olive oil & bring to 180 degrees, allow to steep and when it’s cooled slightly pour into a large jar and place in a dark cupboard, leave for a week. Then drain and re bottle into sterilised bottles.

Harissa

This is a tear inducing chilli paste that’s native to Morocco, so of course it’s well loved in our house, but not by me, because I don’t do chilli, at least not with this much punch. You will need preserved lemons to make this so if you haven’t already had a go at making them  either buy some, or get on it and a month or so you will be able to make the harissa.

You will need:

15 large red chillies

1 head of garlic

2 preserved lemons

1 Heaped Tbsp Ground Cumin

Olive oil

I would recommend you wear rubber gloves before you start this. Remove the stalks from the chillies, if you want to you can remove the seeds as well, but it’s not necessary, do bear in mind though that with the seeds it’s going to be even more potent.

Peel the garlic & rinse the 2 preserve lemons, in the bowl of a food processor place all the ingredients except for the olive oil. Puree until the ingredients begin to combine, start pouring in the olive oil, you want a chunky consistency, not completely smooth, taste for seasoning, although you shouldn’t need any extra salt as the preserved lemons should have enough residual salt. Add at least a heaped Tablespoon of ground Cumin at this stage. Place into small sterilised jars & cover with a layer of Olive Oil, store in the refrigerator & use in moderation unless you want your socks knocked off!

Serve with bread, your tajines, as part of an antipasto platter or as a dip.

Moroccan style beans with tomatoes aka baked beans

So we have had a week of no red meat which has gone really well, and I haven’t missed it at all, I don’t think Hafid has either. It’s been a bit more challenging from a what to cook view-point but that’s always good.

I have also had to take into consideration that beans mean gas and with a toddler that’s not always a good thing, so I cooked the kids pasta (which they devour) and they then proceeded to devour the beans as well. Hafid & I love this dish, it’s quick, easy, tasty & very good for you. You can serve it as dinner, a side dish with Rice, Polenta or Potatoes (but don’t tell H I told you that) we have it with crusty bread to mop up all the sauce and you could have sausages, steak or something similar with it if you like.

I should probably provide a warning with this recipe due to the effects of beans on one’s digestive system 🙂 but really it’s worth the risk! Oh & I don’t think you’ll eat canned baked beans again because these have FLAVOUR!

You will need:

1 medium brown onion, finely diced

2 tins of crushed tomatoes, pureed

1 clove of garlic, crushed

2 tins of cannelli beans, rinsed

1/2 preserved lemon, rinsed but keep the flesh intact

1tsp ground cumin

1tsp smokey paprika

Salt & Pepper to taste

Olive oil

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil and saute the onions, garlic & spices until the onions are translucent. Don’t add the salt or pepper at this stage. When I used tinned tomatoes I always add some water to the tin to get all the tomatoes, add that water to the tomatoes when you puree them. Add the pureed tomatoes and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 mins or until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the beans & preserved lemon stirring to combine and again bring to a simmer. Cook for another 10 -15 mins. Taste the beans & check for seasoning, you probably won’t need to add any extra salt as the salt from the preserved lemon should be enough.

Pour/ladle the beans onto a serving plate & serve with crusty bread – go Moroccan and get into it and eat with your hands using the bread as a spoon.

 

The Perfect Roast Spud

I think this is one of the things that tests a home cook/chef – how do you achieve the perfect roast potato? One that is lovely and crispy on the outside and fluffy perfection on the inside – a bit like the perfect chip..

In my opinion its something that can often elude us, this recipe is pretty much fail safe and can be done with your roast or on their own in on a baking tray.

You will need the following:

Medium size potatoes such as Golden delights as they’re a good all-rounder, any variety of potato will work though. Generally I would allow 1-2 spuds per person.

Olive oil & Salt.

Peel your potatoes making sure they are all roughly the same size. Place in a large saucepan of cold water with a bit more than a pinch of salt. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Boil for approx 10 mins. In the mean time preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Drain the potatoes, keeping them in the saucepan. Once you’ve drained them put the lid on the sauce pan and hold it with oven mitt or a dry tea towel and shake the saucepan vigorously for 3 or 4 shakes in an up and down motion. This should be enough to rough up the edges of the potatoes.

Pour some olive oil on an oven tray and tip the potatoes onto the tray, turn them over so they’re coated in the oil, sprinkle with a little salt and bake in the oven until they’re golden brown. You will need to turn them every so often as each side turns golden and depending on the size of potatoes will depend on the cooking time, it should take roughly 30 – 40 mins if you’re using small to medium sized spuds.

Serve with your favourite roast or steak, whatever takes your fancy!