Austral-icious Part Deux – The Pav

Who came up with the pav – Australia or New Zealand? — dont think we will ever know.  What I do know is that I am Australian, and I make a bloody good pav!  Dont hate the player, hate the game….. Viva la Pav


Mini Pav’s

Serves 16

  • 6 eggwhites
  • 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
  • Pinch pinch cream of tartar
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • Fruit to top (strawberries, blueberries, peaches etc)
  • Preheat oven to 250F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

    Using an electric mixer, beat eggwhites until stiff peaks form. Add caster sugar. Beat for 10 minutes or until sugar has dissolved. Add cream of tartar. Beat for 1 minute.

    Either using a piping bag and large spoon, create 18 individual size pavs – approximately 3-4 inches across and 3 inches high

    Bake for 1 hour or until firm. Turn off oven. Allow to cool in oven with door slightly ajar.

    Using an electric mixer, beat cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Place pavlovas on a serving plate. Top with cream mixture and fruit.

    mini-pavlova from the side 


    January 26th is Australia Day, so I thought I would celebrate the Motherland’s Birthday with some mini-pavlovas and vegetarian sausage rolls.

    vegetarian sauage roll from the end 

    I’d never tried making sausage rolls before, but I have to say they turned out tasty-good … and they smelt exactly like the sausage rolls I remembered from way-back

    Vegetarian Sausage Rolls

    Serves 8

    • 2 packets Gimme Lean Sausage Style
    • 3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
    • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 medium onion, finely dieced and sauteed until translucent
    • 1/2 tablespoon dried italian herbs
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
    • 1 package pepperidge farm puff pastry sheets (2 sheets per box), thawed
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 tablespoon salt
    • 1/4 tablespoon pepper

    In a bowl, mix together the Gimme Lean Sausage Style, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, onion, italian herbs, parsley, pepper and salt (youre going to have to use your hands!).  I left mine to hangout overnight to allow the flavours to combine.

    Preheat oven to 400F.  Cut pastry sheet in half and place 1/4 of the sausage mixture down the centre.  Fold over each side and put seam-side down.  Repeat 3 more times.  Cut each long roll in half and lightly score across the top.  Brush with beaten egg and cook in over at 400F for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.

    Some like it…caliente!

    Best. Tortilla. Soup. Ever. Freezes great, hearty and if you go light on the cheese and tortilla chips – super healthy too!

    tortilla soup 

    Vegetarian tortilla soup

    Serves 10

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 large red peppers (aka capsicum) – medium dice
  • 2 medium onions – medium dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4-5 tablespoons ground cumin – depending on your taste
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chile peppers, drained
  • 4 (14 ounce) cans vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (11 ounce) can whole kernel corn
  • 1 (11 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 ounces tortilla chips
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 avocado – peeled, pitted and diced
  • Cilantro leaves (aka corriander)
  • 1 lime
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the peppers, onion, garlic, and cumin, and cook 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Mix in the tomatoes and chile peppers. Pour in the broth, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes.

    Mix corn and black beans into the soup, and continue cooking 5 minutes. Serve in bowls over equal amounts of tortilla chips. Top with cheese, avocado, cilantro and a squeeze of lime

    tortilla soup - closeup 2 

    ‘Take them to work’ Cupcakes

    I say this because if you keep them at home – you will eat them, and then destroy all your New Years Resolutions to eat right, be healthy — make the others unhealthy I say!

    bailey's cupcake - looking down 

    Okay – I had one, and the man had one…the rest are in the tupperware container and in the fridge ready for work, I’m keeping my New Years Resolution!

    Take them to work cupcakes

    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 2/3 cup castor sugar (or superfine sugar)
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 teaspoons Baileys Irish Cream
    • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (or all-purpose flour)
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 cup milk (or soymilk – I used soymilk and they came out perfect!)

    Preheat oven to 350 F and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

    Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and Baileys. 

    Add flour and baking soda to egg/butter mixture, stirring gently stir to combine.  Add milk and beat on low speed until all ingredients are combined.  

    Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled you can frost with the Baileys Frosting.  

    Baileys Frosting

    • 8oz cold cream cheese
    • 5 tbsp butter, room temperature
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 tsp Baileys Irish Cream
    • 2 tsp brewed coffee, cooled
    • 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
    • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

    Beat the cream cheese and butter together, once combined add vanilla, cocoa, Baileys and coffee.  Stir in powdered sugar and decorate those cupcakes!

    I dusted mine with a little extra cocoa.

    plate full of bailey's cupcakes 

    You had me at ‘fried cheese’ …

    Without a doubt – my favourite salad in the entire world.  You can add all sorts of things to this – peppers (aka capsicum), chili’s, mix it up with some cilantro (aka fresh coriander) or roasted butternut squash (aka pumpkin)— the sky is the limit!  Just don’t make the same mistake I did when I tried to make this the first time…havarti is not the same as haloumi (havarti will melt!)

    Haloumi with Lentil Salad 3 

    Make the lentil salad an hour or so before grilling the haloumi — this will allow the lentils to soak up the yummy flavours — tastes great the next day too! 

    Haloumi and lentil salad

    Serves four

    • 2 x 400g cans brown lentils, drained, rinsed
    • 1/2 – 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (depends on how much you like onion)
    • 1 English cucumber, halved, sliced (about 1 cup total)
    • 3tomatoes, chopped (or 1 cup of cherry tomatoes)
    • 3/4 cup mint leaves, shredded
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 250g block haloumi cheese
    • 2 tablespoons plain flour
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • Salt and pepper to season

    Combine lentils, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, mint, lemon juice and oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix to combine.  Allow this to hang out for an hour if you can, if you cant — its still good!

    Cut haloumi lengthways into about 8 slices. Pat-dry with paper towels. Dust lightly with flour and shake off excess.

    Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Cook haloumi, in batches, for 2 minutes each side, or until golden.  Drain

    Top the salad with the haloumi — done!

    Haloumi with Lentil Salad 

    Mushrooms and Barley and Bears – Oh My!

    My Dad told me about this fantastic, hearty winter soup recipe he had made after seeing it on tv.  Barley in soup always reminds me of my Nanny – she used to put pearl barley in her veggie soup and we would eat that soup, along with some homemade cornish pasties she had bought from church almost every Sunday in the Winter time when we would visit. 

    I made a huge batch of this soup and froze half for easy week night meals — and it reheated no worries!

    soup with toast


    Mushroom Barley Soup

    Serves 4

    • 7 ounces pearl barley, cooked (simmer) in 7 cups of water for 1 hour
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 large onion, medium dice
    • 2 garlic cloves, small dice
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
    • 1oz dried porcini – soaked overnight in 500 ml hot water
    • 18oz assorted mushrooms  – such as shitake, cremini, white  button or portobello
    • 1.4 cup sherry
    • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
    • Salt and pepper to season
    • Chopped parsley to serve

    Cook the pearl barley in the 7 cups of water for approximately 1 hour, strain.  Once the barley has been cooked, melt the butter and saute onion until soft.  Add garlic, rosemary, thyme, and chopped mushrooms and saute until soft. Strain porcini, reserving liquid.  Chop the porcini mushrooms and add to the pan, along with precooked barley, stock, reserved porcini liquid and sherry.

    Cook for approx 20 minutes and season with salt and pepper.

    Serve topped with chopped parsley.

    toast and soup  

    Swordfish with Spiced Lemon Rice and Arugala (aka Rocket)

    This recipe is an ode to George Clooney, well, really its the only cultural reference I could think of that somewhat related to Swordfish, but an ode nonetheless! George, call me …

    Swordfish is a freaky looking fish with a massive spear like protrusion on its face (I know, its sounding like good eats already – right?).  After watching The Perfect Storm I had a new-found respect for how these Swordfish steaks make it to my plate, so if you make this tasty dish, be sure to treat your Swordfish with love.

    I found this recipe in an Australian food magazine called ‘Delicious’ (April 2008) and this recipe has become a staple in our household because its so simple to make and super tasty.  It also sends temperamental bunnies running from the room due to the smell, so be forewarned to expect some bunny-related destruction as retribution.

    plated swordfish and lemon rice
    Swordfish with Spiced Lemon Rice and Arugala (aka Rocket)

    Serves 4

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 large brown onion, finely diced
    • 2 teaspoons ground tumeric
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • Grated zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
    • 1 1/2 cups of jasmine rice  – you can use brown rice (I did this week), but you will likely need to add more stock
    • 3 cups chicken stock – you can use veggie stock too
    • 2lbs Swordfish steaks – you can cut this into 1-2 inch cubes and skewer, or just cut into 1 inch strips
    • 2 cups baby arugala (aka rocket)
    • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (aka coriander leaves)
    • Salt and pepper to season

    Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan, add the onion, lemon zest and spices and saute on medium heat until the onion is soft (about 5 minutes).  Add the rice and saute for another minute, then add the stock, bring to a boil cover and simmer for 10 minutes (if you use brown rice, it will take 30 minutes or so) until rice is tender.  Remove from heat, add lemon juice and cilantro and set aside.

    Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Brush your swordfish pieces with the remaining tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper.  Add to grill/grill pan and cook for 2 minutes on all 4 sides.  Serve with rice and arugala.

    swordfish and lemon rice

    Mmmm tasty!  Reheats really well too!

    Viva La Chickpea

    The words ‘lentil’ and ‘legumes’ used to make me shudder – all I would think was ‘no flavour’.  Boy was I wrong (but dont tell my husband that, I am always right you see…).  So this New Year will be a year of broadened horizons, and I am starting by embracing the chickpea (aka garbanzo bean) – high in protein and full of stuff thats good for you – this dish makes a delicious non-meat meal! 

    But dont ask me what came first – the chicken or the chickpea … somet hings are meant to remain a mystery…

    Spiced and Roasted Eggplant, Chickpeas and Peppers with Yoghurt Sauce

     closeup of yogurt sauce

    Spiced and Roasted Eggplant, Chickpeas and Peppers
    Serves 4

    • 4 cups eggplant – chunky bite-size dice
    • 1 large red onion – bite-size wedges
    • 1 large red or yellow pepper – bite-size wedges
    • 1 15oz can of chickpeas – drained, rinsed and patted dry
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons chilli powder
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to season

    Preheat your oven to 450F.  Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix to combine – I like to use a bowl with a lid, just add and shake and youre done!  Spread out evenly on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, turning once.  Increase heat to 500F and cook for a further 10 minutes until roasty-toasty deliciousness!

    Yoghurt Sauce

    • 1/2 cup nonfat plain yoghurt – such as strained Greek Yoghurt
    • 2 small tomatoes roughly choped
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

    Throw everything in a bowl and mix!

    I like to serve this with a mini whole-wheat pita bread – its delicious eaten ‘taco style’.  Hearty and healthy – what can be better!  Even the man liked it – I was shocked, the buns of course ran from the room… little fuss pots

    Creamy Mushroom Pasta

    If I could only have one vegetable, it would have to be the mushroom — so versatile!  Chop and saute, stuff and bake, the possibilities are endless.  I always have mushies in my fridge- I store them in a paper bag to stop them from getting sweaty.  Nobody likes their mushies getting hot and heavy in the fridge!

    I found a recipie for Rigatoni with Creamy Mushroom Sauce and decided to give it a whirl, below is my take on it.  I can never find chives, and when I do, its always in those little herb plastic containers and you just know its been sitting out for a week…so if you can’t find chives or balk at having to pay $4.00 for some grass-like stems, use finely sliced spring onions instead.  This was a very tasty recipie — however I did find that it didnt reheat that well, or perhaps it was because I always end up heating things to 6 billion degrees in the microwave!

    creamy mushroom pasta 

    Creamy Mushroom Pasta
    Serves 4

  • 1lb pasta – such as penne, spaghettit or rigatoni
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large shallots finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1 pound sliced mushrooms – such as portobello, white button, shiitake
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock  – though just as tasty with veggie stock
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives – or you can use the green part of a spring onion, just slice it really finely
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Heat the oil in a large frypan (aka skillet) over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft, about 2 minutes.

    While the onion is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally – this should take about 8 to 10 minutes.

    While the pasta is bubbling away in the water, add the mushrooms to the frypan, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally – this should take about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn the heat to high. Add the wine and cook for 3 minutes until all the liquid evaporates. Add the stock and simmer until liquid is slightly reduced. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the mascarpone cheese. Stir until creamy. Drain the pasta and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the mushroom mixture and the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss well to coat pasta and garnish with the chopped chives. Serve immediately.

    Fish Tacos — Mmm Delish!

    The mystique of a ‘fish taco’ is something that has intrigued me ever since I moved to the USA.  Well, moreover because it sounded kinda gross.  But then I thought peanut butter and chocolate together sounded gross.  Lets face it, I didn’t know any better – thankfully, I have since been redeemed.

    I was watching the Food Network one day (no, not Rachel Ray…) and saw Tyler Florence’s ‘The Ultimate Fish Tacos’ , and well, figuring I am always willing to try the ‘Ultimate’  version of anything (particularly booze aka alcohol) I would give them a go. I have made these a few times and have tweaked the recipe to my tastes, below is my take. The verdict — DELISH! 

    fish taco assembled 

    Be forewarned, all the bits and pieces take time – either have a bunch of people help you, or prepare the chipotle mayo the day before, and the salsa the day of — no point being too tired to eat your tasty tacos!

     Chipotle Mayo

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 5 chipotles in adobo, plus 3 tablespoons of adobo sauce (I like it spicy, cut it back to 3 chipotles if you like it mild)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper — for seasoning
  • Throw all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth – refrigerate until you are ready to eat.

    chipotle mayo 

    Mango Salsa 

  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 mangoes, medium dice
  • 5 red radishes, medium dice
  • 1 small red onion, small dice
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Salt and pepper — for seasoning
  • Prepare a couple hours beforehand if possible, simply add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix!

    Mango and Radish salsa 

    The Fish

    Here’s a tip — Trader Joes has Mahi Mahi for about $5.00 a lb, its in the frozen food section.  I’ve also used fresh Flounder – but at $24.00 a lb at Whole Foods, it makes some expensive fish tacos!!

  • 2 pounds mahi mahi (skinned, boned and cleaned) cut into 1-ounce strips
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil, for frying (about 3/4 of a cup)
  • Salt and pepper – for seasoning
  • Step 1. Get 3 medium sized dishes – on dish No. 1 add the flour and season with pepper and salt.  On dish No. 2 add the eggs and water.  One dish No. 3 add the breadcrumbs — you now have a breading station! 

    I find the easiest is to have dish No. 1 the furthest away from the pan, that way once you finish crumbing in dish No. 3 you can plonk them straight into the oil.

    Step 2. Now heat the oil – medium to high heat (you want it to be about 375F).  If you dont have a thermometer (like me) just drop a small piece of crumbed fish in and see if it bubbles around the edges, if its not bubbling, crank up the heat!

    Step 3. Now that you have your oil heating and your breading station all set up, cut the pieces of fish into strips about 1 inch wide (depending on your tastes) strips. Dust the pieces of fish in flour, then transfer them to the egg, coating, and then to the breadcrumbs. Once all the fish is breaded deep-fry in small batches until golden brown, draining on paper towel to remove excess oil. Keep warm until ready to serve.

    fish for fish tacos 

     Additional Taco Accompaniments

  • 1/2 head savoy cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 bunch cilantro, leaves picked
  • 3 limes, cut into wedges for garnish
  • 16 small flour tortillas  – I like to toast each side of the tortillas for extra flavour, simply add to a heated pan (no oil) until toasty
  • the spread for fish tacos 

    Throw it all in a tortilla, squeeze a lime edge over it and tuck in.  Mmmmmmm getting hungry just thinking about ’em – is it bad to lick my computer monitor????

    fish taco closeup