Beef stuffed eggplants

Stuffing vegetables is a very common practice in all of the Mediterranean. Eggplants, capsicums, zucchini, tomatoes or even vine leaves can be stuffed with a meat or rice filling and then baked in the oven. They make a wonderful side dish and can be enjoyed all year round, using whichever vegetable is in season at the time.

Beef stuffed eggplants

My favourite vegetable to enjoy stuffed with beef are eggplants, which are currently in season in Melbourne. Eggplants contain bitter substances which must be drawn out before you cook them. This is done by a process known as degorging, where you cut the eggplant open, sprinkle it with salt and then wait for liquid containing the bitter substances to form on the surface- this liquid is then rinsed away and the eggplants are patted dry.

The filling for these eggplants is basically a meatball mixture, with the addition of the pulp from the inside of the eggplants. As always, the filling tastes better if you make your own fresh breadcrumbs. All you need to do is toast some old bread (in this instance I used wholemeal multigrain bread), roughly tear it up then process it in a food processor until you’ve got breadcrumbs.

Makes 8 serves


4 large eggplants, washed and stems cut off


Olive oil

800g minced beef

2 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten

1 red onion, peeled and finely diced

1 cup freshly-made breadcrumbs

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup parsley, chopped

Freshly-ground black pepper

2/3 cup tomato and herb sauce


1. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways. Then using a knife, remove the pulp from the middle of each eggplant half, leaving the shells about 1cm thick. Take care not to cut through the shells as you don’t want any of the filling to fall out. Reserve the pulp.


2. Sprinkle salt over the 8 eggplant shells, then place them in a colander in your sink to allow the bitterness to be drawn out (this may take an hour or so).

3. While the eggplants are degorging, prepare the filling. Begin by roughly dicing the eggplant pulp.


4. Next, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan, then add the eggplant pulp and gently sauté it until it becomes golden and tender. Remove it from the heat.


5. Preheat your oven to 190°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper and lightly drizzle it with olive oil.


6. In a large bowl, add the minced beef, eggs, red onion, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley and the cooked pulp. Season with freshly-ground black pepper, then stir it well to combine.


7. Once the bitter liquid has formed on the surface of the eggplant shells, rinse it off then gently pat them dry with some paper towel.

8. Evenly fill each eggplant shell with the beef mixture, pressing it down with a fork. Place the filled eggplants in the baking tray in a single layer.


9. Spoon about one tablespoon or so of sauce over each of the eggplants. If you like you can also sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese over the sauce.


10. Cover the tray with foil and bake at 190°C for 45 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake them for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot.


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



I’m quite proud of my Tiramisù recipe; it’s always a winner with my family and friends and makes for an impressive finish to any dinner party. There’s no denying that Tiramisù is a rich dessert and thus I only make it once or twice per year. I use slim savoiardi biscuits so that the portions are not too large when I serve it.


A proper Tiramisù is made with mascarpone and espresso coffee- not cream cheese and instant coffee! You also need some alcohol in the coffee mixture; I personally use marsala and French brandy but some other people use things like Tia Maria or Kahlua- the choice is up to you but I find marsala and brandy work really well together.

Tiramisù ingredients

It’s absolutely imperative that you make Tiramisù a day or two ahead of time. It tastes so much better and everything will set nicely if you do- otherwise the mascarpone mixture can be a bit runny. I like to serve Tiramisù with a couple of fresh strawberries when they’re in season.

This recipe will make one large tray of Tiramisù. I use a 35x24x5cm glass tray.


450ml espresso coffee

125ml marsala

50ml brandy

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

300g savoiardi biscuits (buy the slim-sized ones)

5 large free-range eggs, separated

100g caster sugar

500g mascarpone

100g dark chocolate, grated

Cocoa powder


1. In a large bowl, pour in the coffee, marsala, brandy and vanilla essence and give it a stir.

2. Using an electric beater, beat the egg yolks and caster sugar in a separate bowl until light and fluffy. Then gently fold in the mascarpone using a spatula.

3. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold into the mascarpone mixture.


4. Dust the base of the glass tray with some cocoa powder and then sprinkle over some of the grated dark chocolate.


5. Now quickly dip some of the savoiardi biscuits, one by one, in the coffee mixture. Ensure that you wet both sides of each biscuit but don’t over soak them or they will crumble.


6. After quickly dipping each biscuit in the coffee mixture arrange them neatly in the tray. You may have to break a few of the biscuits so that they fit.


7. Now spread some of the mascarpone mixture evenly over the biscuit layer.


8. Now dust the mascarpone layer with cocoa powder and sprinkle over some more grated dark chocolate.

9. Then add another layer of biscuits that have been dipped in the coffee mixture, then spread the remainder of the mascarpone mixture on top and then dust the top with more cocoa powder and the remaining grated dark chocolate.

10. Cover the tray tightly with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.

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

Vegan sweet potato gnocchi

I fondly remember making gnocchi when I was little with my mum. I remember starting off with just rolling the gnocchi for her into logs, then as I got older I learnt how to cut and curl them as well. It wasn’t until this year though that I started making them entirely by myself- I never really understood how to get the ratio of potatoes to flour right as mum would always make enough for about 20 people!

I’m using sweet potatoes in this recipe and I’m not using eggs. Without eggs gnocchi are softer and a bit more delicate to work with; with eggs they’re firmer and hold their shape better when they cook but are also heavier. I’ve opted for the no-eggs option so that more people can use this recipe. These gnocchi go well with a meat sauce as well as with a simple tomato and herb sauce. You could also make these using purple sweet potatoes- the colour is quite dramatic!

Sweet potato gnocchi

The trick with gnocchi is to let the potatoes cool completely down after you’ve passed them through a potato ricer. When they’re cool they take less flour so they’ll be lighter to eat. You also need to keep flouring them as you go so that they don’t stick together.

Serves 4


1.5kg sweet potatoes

650g ’00’ flour, plus extra for rolling out the gnocchi

1 teaspoon salt


1. Place the sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover them with water. Bring to the boil, covered, then slightly remove the lid and allow to boil until tender. (Alternatively, you could cook the potatoes in the microwave- I’m told it takes about 6 minutes or so).

2. Once cooked, drain out the water and return the potatoes to the pan and cover with a lid. It’s important to keep them hot as it’ll make it easier to peel them. One by one, take a potato out of the pan and peel off the skin using a knife.

3. Place the peeled potato into a potato ricer and push it through.


4. Repeat with the remaining peeled potatoes.

5. Add the salt and mix through using a fork. Now let the mixture cool completely down.


6. Once the potatoes are cool, add the flour and mix it evenly through (I used a fork in the beginning and then kneaded it with my hands). You may need a little more or a little less flour than the quantity I have given, depending on how moist the potatoes are. Sweet potatoes are a lot softer than normal potatoes so I found that I needed a lot more flour than expected. You want the dough to be somewhat firm but not too hard, otherwise the gnocchi will be far too heavy.


7. Take a handful of the dough and place it on a floured board. Using both hands, roll the dough out into a log shape, then sprinkle it with a little flour.


8. Repeat the process with the remainder of the dough, ensuring that you keep adding flour to the board and that you sprinkle each log with flour so that it doesn’t become sticky.

9. Using a sharp knife, cut each log into small pieces, about 1 inch long.


10. Then flour a gnocchi board and 2 trays.


11. One by one, roll each piece of dough up the gnocchi board and let them fall onto the floured trays. If you don’t have a gnocchi board, you could do this using a fork.


The aim is to get a pattern on one side and a small cavity on the other side (as below). The cavity helps the gnocchi hold more sauce and doing this step also makes them look prettier!


12. Once you’ve curled all of the gnocchi, sprinkle them all with a little more flour.


13. Cook the gnocchi immediately in a large saucepan filled with salted boiling water. You’ll need to cook them in a few batches. Once they float to the surface they’re cooked; remove them from the boiling water using a slotted spoon. Place them in bowls and coat with a sauce of your choice, then serve immediately.


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