Ideas

A few ideas and comments on recipes are below - maybe it's a recipe from one of Australia's great food magazines or a favourite cookbook, a product on our list, or simply something seasonal.

Cookbooks can be purchased through Yarra Valley Provender, either at retail price or retail plus $5.00 if my supplier does not stock it.

  • Simon Johnson Eggplant Bruschetta - delicious with tomato or cheese on a baguette or crackers. For a breakfast treat, toast some sourdough, spread with SJ Eggplant Bruschetta and top with a poached egg and a sprinkle of greenery (chives, parsley, spinach)

  • Made for each other: To dress up a pumpkin risotto (elementi), drizzle slices of proscuitto with elementi fig glaze and quickly grill. Serve on top of the risotto with a good dollop of goat curd and a splash of extra virgin olive oil.

  • Aioli (Simon Johnson): let me count the ways to use this! Using all the spring garden greens: pan fry some chinese greens or siliverbeet, steam some asparagus, pan fry some torn bread in luscious spanish olive oil (or bake in the oven), Plate up and drizzle with aioli. Add meat (steak or pork chop goes well) if feeling carniverous.

  • Mix cubed turkish delight into cream for topping pavlova or mixing into Eton Mess (try orange turkish delight with apricots, rose with rhubarb ....)

  • Brush lamb racks with balsamic glaze, sprinkle with rosemary and leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Roast for ~ 30 minutes.

  • Perfection is Guiseppe White Truffle Honey drizzled over a twice-cooked blue cheese souffle with salad leaves and roasted hazelnuts (see Philip Johnson's cookbook, Eating In)

  • What to do with those zucchinis? For any of these recipes, please email me! Pasta with zucchini sauce (Neil Perry), Zucchini cake (a 20 year old magazine cutting): uses 1kg of zucchini and freezes really well; Roasted zucchini (Silver Spoon) - a great make-ahead dish; Stephanie Alexander's Bread and Butter pickles: great with a combination of dark green and yellow zucchini

  • Tuna with Coconut and Chile relish - when I find the recipe I'll tell you why I put it here!

  • Lebanese flat bread, lightly sprayed with olive oil on the base, spread with black olive tapenade on the top, sprinkled with Sea Salt, cut into triangles or other shapes with the pizza wheel and baked in a moderate oven for 10 minutes. Also great if brushed with oil and sprinkled with dukkah. Stores well.

  • Eggplant Parmigana,  Roasted Duck Ragu  and Yoghurt semifreddo with watermelon and cherries (we substituted strawberries) from Karen Martini's "Where the heart is" was a real hit. The balsamic dressing on dessert was considered optional by some, but the Iranian Fairy Floss was indispensable.

  • Roast lamb - on a bed of diced onion, tinned tomatoes and Christine Manfield's Harissa.

  • Christine Manfield's Preserved Lemons also are a treat with baked potatoes and roasted capers. And a roast chicken - put them under the skin (or over and drizzle with oil)

  • Gary Rhodes' Keep it Simple Asparagus: After cooking the asparagus, put in a saute pan with a little of the cooking water, some butter (Isigny) and some Simon Johnson Seeded Mustard. Gently simmer rolling asparagus in the sauce. This was served with his paprika-roasted chicken, another excellent recipe.

  • A great brunch dish. Push slices of bread into muffin tins (or use hollowed out English Muffins). Line with proscuitto, some spinach leaves and crack an egg into the centre. Sprinkle over grated Heidi Gruyere cheese, and bake for about 15 minutes at 180C.

  • Croque Monsieur. Use great bread, sliced thickly, spread both insides with Simon Johnson or Marcel Recorbet Mustard, layer with free range ham and some Heidi Gruyere. Butter both outsides liberally and pan fry. Slice into three and wrap in butchers paper to serve. Great to make ahead and leave in the fridge or freezer ready to fry- just let them soften a little before trying to prise off each sandwich.

  • Rabbit Cacciatore. Such an easy dish - as per the recipe in The Silver Spoon.

  • Grilled lamb chops that have been marinaded in Peter Watson Moroccan spice mix with lemon juice and oil. Cook very quickly over high heat. Or, chicken pieces dipped in the dry Chicken rub mix that is Southern Mediterranean inspired and then grilled.

  • Black figs:  Simply make a cross in the top of the fig, insert a wedge of great English Stilton (try Cornwall Bishop or Colston Basset), wrap the fig in thinly sliced proscuitto, and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. Drizzle with Simon Johnson Balsamic Glaze on the plate and serve.

  • Quarter (or cut into eighths) an eggplant and place in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with olive oil and bake about 45 minutes. Add about half a jar or Goan Cuisine Eggplant Kasundi, mix and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Serve as a side dish (great with roast pork), scrape the flesh from the skins and use on bruschetta, or mix with yoghurt or hummus for a great dip. Why not use 2 or 3 eggplants and have it ready for all sorts of uses?

  • Karen Martini's "Where the heart is" is full of easy, flavourful recipes. Try the lamb shanks with pearl barley (Il Saraceno organic) and lentils (Simon Johnson green) for a great variation on the traditional lamb shank broth.

  • Duck boulangere with hazelnut-rosemary spinach from Gary Rhodes "Spring into Summer" or "Cookery Year."  - use maryland pieces rather than legs. The spinach is fantastic!

  • Kylie Kowng's 'Heart and Soul' off the shelf after not using it for some time. Her sizzling beef is so easy, and served with chinese greens and rice.

  • Yamato Ray Soy Sauce, Organic Miso, Sushi Vinegar, Ginger Vinegar and Wasabi Oil.

  • Poached quinces in red wine (Neil Perry's The Food I Love) and the aroma floating through the house of quince and vanilla bean is superb. Two large quinces will fill one Fowlers No 31 jar.

  • Fig bruschetta - a sourdough roll, sliced and grilled, topped with some roquefort, fig quarters and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, quickly grilled to warm the fig. Perfect with sherry.

  • Greg and Lucy Malouf's Saha and a friends abundance of eggplants was the inspiration. Sweet and Sour Eggplant Salad was a great hit - the pomegranate molasses added a really special flavour.

  • Eton Mess seems to be a pretty perfect way of using fresh, frozen or slightly crushed berries. Firstly, crush some meringue, then simply mix with whipped cream (or softened ice-cream) and berries of your choice. Great for a family dessert, but always gets rave reviews when served to guests too!

  • Asparagus - cooked quickly and dunked into a soft-boiled free-range duck egg, barbequed and drizzled with balsamic vinegar, wrapped in proscuitto and baked in the oven, or stir-fried with some lamb, snow peas and an Asian sauce

  • Pumpkin - melt a little butter and mix with freshly sliced chilli, light soy sauce, lime juice, freshly grated ginger, palm sugar, and crushed garlic. Pour over peeled and sliced (5mm) pumpkin, add water or chicken stock to just cover and bake for 40min at 190C. Serve as is, or drain and grill lightly. Great as a side dish or added to a warm salad.

  • Breakfast starter. In a medium sized, interesting glass (say, a v-shaped one), put a layer of yoghurt (plain or flavoured), then a layer of RealGoodFood Organic Toasted Cereal, then another layer of yoghurt. Top with a little fruit depending on what's in the garden or freezer, eg, blueberries, raspberries, poached rhubarb, or chopped pineapple mixed with passionfruit.

  •  Possenti Roaring Lady sauce - toss it through warmed pasta with a few olives and a shaving of Reggiano.

  • Neil Perry's Lamb Cutlets with Lemongrass and Ginger and Barbequed Salad  with Maggie Beer's verjuice was used on the veggies.

  • Spicery’s Pork fillet in orange sauce. Taking just over an hour from start to finish, the combination of orange, onions, sherry and pork was terrific (the spice was coriander seed and we used pork steaks). With rice and home grown green beans, just delicious!

  • Simon Johnson tartlet cases filled with whatever you can find in the fridge or pantry. Using some goats cheese, cream cheese or marinated fetta as a base, why not add red onion marmalade; halved cherry tomatoes and fresh basil; a few sauteed mushrooms or some pitted olives or olive tapenade before heating for a few minutes. Cold tarts using smoked trout or salmon work well too. Easy to prepare for a party, but equally easy to make just two or three for Valentine's Day. Unused tartlet cases freeze really well.

  • Christine Manfield's Stir cookbook has many terrific recipes such as Blue eye coated with Sambal Bajak and drizzled with lime juice. Cooked twice - once in banana leaf and once in foil, and served to different guests. Both times got a great response.

  • Christine Manfield Spicy Satay Paste. Simply marinate some green prawns in the paste and BBQ.

  • Peter Watson's marinades and spice mixes are a menu-saver. The Sarawak Chix Marinade is great for chicken, and the Seafood BBQ Marinade is great for, yes, seafood! the Jamaican West Indian BBQ marinade and it packs a punch. Roll pork, chicken or fish slices or fillets in one of the curry mixes for a change of flavour in a stir fry. You make like to mix the curry mix with flour if medium hot is preferred!

  • Valrohna Sauce au chocolat:  Simply heat and serve over ice-cream (or a banana split), or use to make a decadent hot chocolate or milk shake.

  • Maggie Beer's roast chicken with garlic and verjuice from Maggie's Table is simply stunning. Naturally we use Maggie Beer's verjuice.  We needed to cook the chicken longer than the recipe suggested. The beans below would have made a great accompaniment!

  • Beans: Lightly fry fresh bread crumbs (or Japanese dry bread crumbs) in butter and oil until crisp. Cook greens (beans, broccoli) in salted boiling water until al dente. Refresh under cold water if serving as a salad. Just before serving, mix vegetables, bread crumbs, a spoonful or two of olive tapenade, toasted almond flakes and some diced preserved lemon.

  • Curried Prawn Noodles – rice noodles, prawns, onions and some chinese greens – flavoured with Goan Cuisine Xacuti Paste, which gave a mellow interesting flavour. This paste also works wonderfully well with coconut cream in a vegetable curry.

  • Chicken rubbed with Peter Watson Zataar with thyme before roasting

  • Creme Brulee with fresh vanilla beans, caramelised with demerrera sugar using a blow torch.  The trick with caramelising the sugar is to stop just before you think it's ready as the sugar will keep melting for a few more moments.

  • Use Inaudi porcini mushrooms, their soaking liquid, a leek, garlic and a touch of cream to make an impromptu sauce for some frozen mushroom ravioli

  • A quick thumbs up for the butter-cream-sage pasta sauce, which coated beetroot ravioli beautifully, from Gordon Ramsey's Secrets.

  • From Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons "Moroccan Chicken with tomatoes and saffron-honey jam" and "Simple Greek Lamb" are both highly recommended - delicious and worked just like the recipes suggested.

  • Chicken braised with turmeric and harissa, from the June 2003 issue of Gourmet Traveller. But what harissa? And the verdict - definitely a recipe to remember. The chicken is marinated in Christine Manfield's harissa overnight, and therefore takes only a short time to cook the next day. The resultant sauce was rich, almost sweet and with just a touch of heat.