Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a fancy (and hard name to say) French provincial stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice.

This vegetable stew is tasty and substantial, and carefully  seasoned just before it finishes cooking brings out the flavours.

Ingredients for 8 servings:

  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced or crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 cups sliced zucchini
  • 1-2 green peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2-3 cups diced eggplant
  • 1/4 cup light Olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped and peeled tomatoes, substitute canned for fresh in the winter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or dried basil or oregano
  • salt, pepper and sugar
  • chopped parsley

Take a large frying pan and fry the onions and garlic in oil until just coloured very slightly.

Add the zucchini and peppers. Cook over a moderate heat, turning the vegetables,  from time to time, for about 5-10 minutes.

Remove vegetables from the pan and brown the eggplant in the second measure of oil. Add the partly cooked vegetables, along with the tomatoes.

Cover pan with a lid, after adding basil or oregano. Cook over a low heat for about 30 minutes, then season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

**I add a dash of black sauce for a little bit of heat

**If serving hot, thicken with a little cornflour paste

**Quantities of vegetables may vary, and zucchini, peppers or eggplant can be left out (not all of them though :))

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Now I love Ratatouille as a side dish with grilled or poached chicken…last nights supper below.

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And it makes a super delicious breakfast with a poached egg – that’s my breakfast sorted for tomorrow!

Super tasty with a grilled sausage, poached fish, or room temperature as a salad. Give it a try especially now when eggplants are so inexpensive – $.99 cents at my local green grocer this weekend.

If you enjoyed this eggplant dish try Eggplant Parmesan – another favourite!

Happy healthy cooking xx

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Fresh Fish with Chargrilled Eggplant & Zucchini and a Red Pepper Dressing

Fresh Fish with Chargrilled Eggplant & Zucchini and a Red Pepper Dressing

I’m not really a big fish eater which means I don’t spend much time thinking about cooking it either, much to my husband’s disappointment.

We have a local Fish & Chip store which makes great fresh snapper and chips; not greasy, not too much, just right. Perhaps once a fortnight we might have this as a Friday night escape from cooking for me? and I count this as my ‘fish night’.

So when my company ‘team building offsite’ was announced and the rumours starting flying about at work that it was at the local Seafood cooking school; I would be fibbing if I did not say I had to fake my enthusiasm 🙂

We had walked through the Seafood Market which houses the cooking school some months earlier and the smell of thousands of fish did nothing for me! I had never had a hankering to spend the day in a seafood cooking school!

With some trepidation of what was to come I joined my work colleagues on the bus and headed to the event; I guess it was a day out of the office at the very least -right?

It turns out I had nothing too much to be concerned about as we filed into a classroom and took our seats. The chef took his place at the cooking benchin front of us, with large mirros behind him so we could all see the cooking bench and his very quick  movements as his knife flew across the vegetables with deft skills.

Wwe were to make a quick and easy entrée and main fish dish apparently and would do this in groups later on.  He spent the session interacting with us all with such enthusiasm and passion for the subject matter, sharing funny stories and cooking techniques, I nearly forgot we were about to handle prawns and fresh fish!

Anyway the main fish meal was so quick and easy to put together, and delicious! I wanted to share it with you as a weekday option for a family dinner. I’ll add the entrée  later on today.

Ingredients: Serves 4

  • 4 x 160gram portions of fresh fish – fillets
  • 10 black, fitted Kalamata olives
  • 10 green olives, whole
  • 1 large eggplant, thinly sliced lengthways
  • 1 large zucchini, thinly sliced lengthways
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 1 red capsicum, thinly diced
  • 60ml lemon infused olive oil ( plain olive oil will work if you don’t have the infused kind)
  • 40ml white wine vinegar
  • 90grams feta cheese
  • Parsley for garnish
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh bread to serve

Firstly prepare the fish by cutting into similar sized medallions, and then set aside in a dish with a splash of olive oil. Season with salt & pepper.

Put the Kalamata and green olives in a sauté pan or oven-proof dish. Splash with a little olive oil and sear them quickly before putting into s hot oven to roast.

Coat the thinly sliced eggplant and zucchini with a little olive oil, and season with salt & pepper. Chargrill on a medium hot grill and until branded, and coloured!

Whilst the vegetables are grilling, add a splash of olive oil to a pan on a medium heat; then add the fish medallions.

Red Pepper Dressing

Take the red pepper previously prepared, lemon infused olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon zest and juice and mix well. Season with salt & pepper. So easy!

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Layer the plate with the chargrilled eggplant and zucchini and fresh fish; crumble the feta cheese over. Drizzle with the red pepper dressing and garnish with the roasted olives and a sprinkling a chopped parsley. Squeeze some lemon juice over the dish and serve with fresh crusty bread!

A little note for people like me who don’t cook fish often enough to be an expert: Here’s how to tell if fish is done: use a fork and prick into the thickest portion of the fish at a 45-degree angle. The gently twist the fork and  pull up some of the fish. Undercooked fish resists flaking and is translucent.

You can rustle up this fish dinner in less than 25 minutes which is perfect for a weekday meal. Its healthy, and tasty so ticks plenty of boxes. Do give it a go and let me know how the family enjoyed it.

Happy fishing xx

 

Blueberry Balsamic Dressing

Every salad needs a good dressing, and personally I like a variety of dressings on hand to spice up a plate.

This dressing makes use of the seasonal blueberry, and is really delicious. A small disclaimer that it does have a bit of a kick so the kids may not love it – reduce the quantity of dijon mustard if you prefer less kick yourself. Food is made to enjoy so taste and adjust to suit your palette.

Blueberry Balsamic Dressing

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt ( I use pink Himalayan)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil (but use olive oil if you don’t have this)

In a food processor or blender, combine all dressing ingredients except for the oil. Blend until the blueberries are completely pureed, then drizzle in the oil with the blender still going. Once the dressing is emulsified you’re done!

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Happy dressing xx

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Fresh Blueberry & Mixed Greens Salad with Blueberry Balsamic Dressing

The weather is too warm for hot vegetables with the evening meal but after a few months of salads you start craving them regardless of the heat!

I have to say that a lettuce salad can get a bit boring after a few months of summer, and I try to make them a bit more glamourous with interesting additions that not only taste good but brighten the plate up.

When my girlfriend said ‘make a green salad and I’ll put the barbecue on, I decided to rise to the challenge of making something a little more exciting than the standard ‘green salad’ – she loves her fruit so that was my inspiration for this salad.

With fruit so plentiful over the summer, and berries especially delicious right now, I out together a simple and interesting Fresh Blueberry & Mixed Greens Salad.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large cup of fresh blueberries
  • 1 bag of spring mixed salad greens
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mandarin segments
  • 1/4 cup diced cranberries
  • 2-4 tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds

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Blueberry Balsamic Dressing

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt ( I use pink Himalayan)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil (but use olive oil if you don’t have this)

In a food processor or blender, combine all dressing ingredients except for the oil. Blend until the blueberries are completely pureed, then drizzle in the oil with the blender still going. Once the dressing is emulsified you’re done!

Wash and dry your salad greens. Combine with cucumber and berries, diced cranberries and sunflower seeds. Leave the mandarin segments off until you are ready to serve; dress with mandarin segments when the barbecued steak is ready!

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What makes this salad is the fresh fruit; my girlfriend loved it, and the kids will love it too!

Happy summer salad days xx

Christmas Mincemeat Tarts

Now I know that Christmas is all but over; except I’m on a well-deserved break from work and felt like baking some tarts!

To be honest, I had bought a packet of shop-made tarts before Christmas and thought to myself as I helped myself to one, I really should have made these; let’s face it, they are so jolly easy to put together and home-made always tastes better than baking from the supermarket.

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And since the bought tarts were gone,  I headed to the kitchen to make a batch!

I grabbed a packet of sweet short crust pastry from the freezer, and while that defrosted, hunted in the refrigerator for my mincemeat. I usually have jars of all sorts of ‘fixings’ such as home-made raspberry sauce, chocolate sauce and a range of dressings. I knew there was a jar of this good stuff in there somewhere 🙂

Dust your bench lightly with flour and roll out a sheet of pastry so it is a little thinner than it started out like. Use a pastry cutter so the pastry just fits into the pan nicely – top a tablespoon of mincemeat in the pastry and top with a smaller circle of pastry. I cut-out hearts in mine just for fun.

Bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Dust with icing sugar and let cool long enough that you don’t burn your mouth with the hot filling!

Happy baking xx