Globe artichokes stuffed with garlic & parsley

Every year I look forward to when artichokes are in season. I think they’re one of the best tasting vegetables and it doesn’t take much effort to get an amazing side dish out of them. This dish can be made richer by also stuffing the artichokes with breadcrumbs and cheese but I like to cook them really simply with just a garlic and parsley stuffing (keeping things simple is often the best way to show off the true flavours of the star ingredient).

Stuffed artichokes

I remember having this dish in Trastevere and being blown away by the deep flavours and the delicate texture of the artichoke heart. When I eat them now a few years on I’m still taken back to that dish in that wonderful area of Rome.

Artichokes will only be in season for a little while longer so get your hands on some and give this easy yet oh so tasty dish a go!

Ingredients

5 large globe artichokes, stems removed & discarded

1 cup chopped parsley

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock

Olive oil

Salt & freshly-ground black pepper

Method

1. Thoroughly wash the artichokes in cold water to remove all dirt (at least 2-3 times).

2. Cut about 1 inch off the tops of the artichokes so that they’re all flat (the tops are quite hard and inedible) and remove any hard outer leaves.

3. Gently separate the leaves using your fingers to make room for the stuffing.

4. Using your fingers, evenly stuff the artichokes with the parsley and garlic.

5. In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the stock then place the stuffed artichokes inside, facing upwards. Ensure they all fit in one layer (ie- don’t put the artichokes on top of each other).

6. Season with a little salt and a generous amount of freshly-ground black pepper. Lightly drizzle with olive oil, then cover with a lid and allow the stock to come to a boil.

7. Once it boils, lower the heat and allow to simmer, covered, until the artichokes become tender (30-40 minutes). You’ll know they’re done when you can easily remove the outer leaves. Serve immediately.

Stuffed artichokes

*If you’d like to use this recipe, please reference this blog- thank you!

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Mulled wine with brandy

A few years ago I was lucky enough to be in Europe during winter time. Many of the major cities had the most beautiful markets dotted with stalls selling mulled wine. When temperatures drop below zero at night there’s nothing more comforting than wrapping your hands around a cup of the fragrant drink and letting it warm you up.

I think mulled wine is one of those drinks that allows you to be really creative- I like to add brandy and blood oranges rather than normal oranges. I believe you can also add other citrus fruits and there are probably other spices that would go well in this drink too. I often make this with honey instead of sugar and it tastes just as good.

It’s the perfect drink for a cosy night in or to serve at your next winter party!

Spiced mulled wine with brandy

Ingredients

Peel & juice of 2 small blood oranges

2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 star anise

1 teaspoon cinnamon

6 cloves

1 1/2 cups red wine

2 tablespoons brandy

Method

1. Put the peel and juice of the blood oranges into a small saucepan over medium heat, along with the brown sugar, star anise, cinnamon and cloves.

2. Pour in a few tablespoons of the red wine and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then allow to simmer until the mixture starts to thicken.

3. Add the remainder of the wine and the brandy, lower the heat and allow all of the flavours to blend together, for about 5 minutes. It’s important that the mixture doesn’t boil or you’ll destroy the alcohol.

4. Turn off the heat and strain into small glasses or cups. Serve immediately.

*If you like this recipe feel free to use it but please reference this blog- thank you!

Moroccan chickpea & barley salad

The draw card of Moroccan food for me is the extensive use of spices and the addition of nuts and fruit to dishes. This salad ticks all the boxes; the spices are balanced with the sweetness of apricots and the pistachios add wonderful colour and texture. It’s one of the tastiest dishes that I’ve come across this year; I always go back for seconds.Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Moroccan chickpea & barley salad

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

3/4 cup barley

3/4 cup vegetable stock

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for dressing

3 cups cooked chickpeas

1/3 cup shelled pistachios

8 dried apricots, diced

1/2 cup diced red onion

1/2 cup chopped parsley

Zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cardamon

Method

1. Rinse the barley in a sieve with cold water to remove any debris.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the barley and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Add the stock, water and salt, then cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Immediately reduce the heat and allow the barley to simmer, covered, until it is tender, stirring occasionally. If the liquid is absorbed before the barley is cooked then add 1/2-1 cup water and allow it to simmer further.

3. Once it’s cooked, strain the barley through a sieve and run cold water over it to cool it down, stirring with a spoon to speed up the cooling and strain out the water.

4. Spread the barley out onto a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Mix it with a spoon to ensure all the grains are well coated with oil.

5. In a bowl, add the cooked chickpeas, pistachios, apricots, red onion and parsley and mix well. Add the zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon and mix again. Then stir in the barley.

6. In a small bowl, mix together all of the spices. Add this mixture to the salad and stir it through well.

7. Allow the salad to marinate for up to an hour, then drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Moroccan chickpea & barley salad

 

 

Wholemeal stromboli filled with hot sopressa, grilled capsicums, mushrooms & bocconcini

Stromboli are like a pizza roll; you make the pizza dough as per normal, then you place the filling down the middle of the dough, cut the edges into strips and fold them up in a crisscross pattern. Once it’s baked you slice it up, which makes it a great finger food option for parties as well as being great for home.

You could vary this recipe by using different vegetables or substituting the sopressa for salami (or more vegetables). One thing to note though is that since the filling is encased by the dough it’s best to use cooked vegetables. I once made these with raw capsicums but found they didn’t cook enough so this time I grilled them first. I also would recommend lightly sauteing mushrooms if you’re using them.

Stromboli

Makes 1 stromboli

Ingredients

To make the dough:

1 cup wholemeal bread flour

1 cup white bread flour

2 teaspoons dry (active) yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup very warm water

Stromboli filling:

1/4 cup tomato and herb sauce

3 slices hot sopressa

100 grams of mushrooms of your choice, sliced

1 cup grilled capsicums, sliced

10 cherry-sized bocconcini

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon olive oil

Method

1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast and salt. Make a well and pour in the water, then mix, until you have a moist yet stiff dough. Cover with a piece of cling wrap and allow to double in size.

2. Once the dough has doubled in size, remove the cling wrap. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

3. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick fry pan over medium heat, then add the garlic. After about 15 seconds add the mushrooms and saute for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

4. Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Consolidate into a ball, then knead for a minute or so to expel as much of the air as possible. The dough needs to be dry rather than sticky so add more wholemeal flour to it as you knead it if necessary.

5. Line a pizza tray with baking paper then place the ball of dough in the center. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangular shape.

6. Spread the sauce down the center of the dough (but not right to the edge like I accidentally did-oops!), then arrange the sopressa, grilled capsicums, sauteed mushrooms and bocconcini on top.

Stromboli

7. Using a knife, cut each side of the dough into strips (about 2cm wide).

8. Fold up one of the ends, then fold the strips up into the center over the filling, one at a time from each side, to make a crisscross pattern (like in the photo below).

Stromboli

9. Once you reach the end, fold it over to ensure the filling won’t spill out.

10. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until it has formed a nice golden crust. Once it has cooled a little, slice it up thickly. Serve it with a green salad or enjoy alone as a snack.

Stromboli

*If you like this recipe feel free to use it but please reference this blog- thank you!

Dried fig & walnut wholemeal muffins

These muffins are full of wholesome ingredients which make them a very satisfying snack. They’re great with a cup of tea or to have on the go!

IMG_6320

Makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups wholemeal self-raising flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts

1 cup rolled oats

6 dried figs, roughly chopped

1/2 cup boiling water

1 teaspoon bi-carb soda

1 free-range egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup natural yogurt

1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce

Method

1. Preheat oven to 190°C. Spray a muffin tin with olive oil spray or line it with paper muffin cases.

2. Put the figs into a small bowl and cover with the boiling water. Allow to soften for 5 minutes, then stir in the bi-carb soda.

3. Meanwhile in a large bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, rolled oats, brown sugar and walnuts. Make a well in the center.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together the apple sauce, egg, oil and yogurt. Add to the dry ingredients along with the fig mixture and stir until just combined.

5. Spoon into the muffin tin and bake for 30 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

IMG_6325

*If you like this recipe feel free to use it but please reference this blog- thank you!

Tomato and herb sauce

I love this sauce for its simplicity and versatility. It’s great not only on pasta but I also use it on pizza bases, on top of stuffed eggplants or meatballs.

Always buy good quality canned tomatoes- I use a brand called ‘Carmelina’. They taste great and make me wonder why we spent all that time when we were young making sauce in the backyard (which FYI takes all day long and makes an epic mess- I don’t miss sauce day one bit) when these are so cheap and much more consistent in quality.

Anyway, these tomatoes are whole so you need to pass them through a food mill, along with the sauce that’s in the can. This handy device not only crushes the tomatoes but it also catches all the seeds.

This sauce naturally starts off with onion and garlic cooked in olive oil. As some people don’t like eating either of the two, I decided to chop them up into large pieces and then scoop them out at the end. This way you get the flavour but don’t have to eat bits of garlic and onion if you don’t like it. It’s not conventional but I don’t think it compromises the flavour much so why not? Naturally if they’re not a problem for you then crush the garlic and finely dice the onion and keep them in the sauce.

The herbs are really what make this sauce- I use dried oregano all year round and fresh basil in the summertime. If you have basil in the garden you can dry it out towards the end of summer so that you have some for the winter- before the plants start to flower pull them out and hang them upside down in a cool, dry space. Once they’ve dried out pull the leaves off (discard the branches) and store them in an airtight jar in the pantry.

Tomato and herb sauce

Ingredients

2 x 400 gram cans of peeled tomatoes

1 small onion, cut into 4 wedges

1 large clove garlic, cut into thirds

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil or about 1 dozen fresh basil leaves

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add the onion. After about one minute add the garlic and saute them for a few minutes, stirring often, taking care not to burn the garlic.

2. Attach the food mill to the saucepan and pass through the tomatoes with all the sauce that’s in the cans. Add the herbs, salt, sugar and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.

3. Allow the sauce to come to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If you don’t have a good saucepan it’s a good idea to invest in a simmer mat- place it over the gas and then sit your pan on top of it- they help diffuse the heat and are perfect for anything which requires a long period of simmering).

4. Using a large slotted spoon, fish out the garlic and onion pieces and discard. If you’re not going to use the sauce immediately, pour it into small containers and store it in the fridge (use it within a few days) or freeze it.