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 cooking oil
  • 2-3 cups sliced zucchini
  • 1-2 green peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2-3 cups diced eggplant
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 3 cups chopped and peeled tomatoes, substitute canned for fresh in the winter
  • 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 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


Cauliflower Rice

I heard my favourite radio DJ’s talking about how great Cauliflower Rice was; I nodded in agreement as I drove to work. Polly had not heard of this and asked “How do you make rice from cauliflower?”

There are two the techniques for making cauliflower rice. You can either use a grater traditionally used for cheese, or a food processor with the grate blade to blitz it into small pieces.  With both techniques you’re aiming for little pieces.

One you have your cauliflower rice, it’s super easy to cook! Simply sauté in a large pan over a medium heat with 1 tablespoon of oil. Use the lid to cover so the cauliflower steams and becomes tender.  Cook for 5-8 minutes stirring occasionally, then season to your taste.

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Late last year the cauliflower rice ‘fad’ hit the news and I climbed onboard that train with many others. It’s light and fluffy, like couscous, but totally healthy – and very simple to make.

I have discovered subsequently leftover uncooked ‘rice’ freezes beautifully – I whipped up some Cheesy Cauliflower Waffles from leftovers a couple of months ago.

Not only is this a super healthy alternative to traditional rice, it is much quicker to cook – and the kids love it 🙂

Happy cooking xx


Eggplant Parmesan

I discovered eggplant last year, and when it is not so ridiculously priced ($5.00 each!) I make sure to pick one up with my fruit & vegetable shopping. I have found them to be a vegetable that I can use to ‘make something quick and tasty from nothing’ if you know what I mean?

Eggplants, or ‘Aubergines’ if you feel like being fancy and French! are considered a fruit – and is related to the tomato and the potato. It is used in many different cuisines, including curries and one of my favourites chutney.  I made a very tasty chutney last year:  Chutney Anyone? So Easy & So Delish!

Eggplant is often stewed and I have made my version of the French ratatouille which is diced onions, tomatoes courgettes, capsicums with garlic, marjoram and basil all piled into a pan and cooked! Very simple and really good with a poach egg on top for a quick and easy breakfast.

This recipe does take a little prep time, however is well worth it. It makes a nice side dish to a steak, or grilled chicken breast and is equally happy being the centre of attention – the main course for a happy vegetarian 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into circles about 1cm thick
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup Italian or whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 cups chunky marinara sauce
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c
  2. Pour milk into a shallow bowl and bread crumbs onto a plate. Dip each slice of eggplant in the milk, moistening each side. Then press on to bread crumbs making sure both sides are thoroughly coated. Place slices on a baking sheeted tray and bake until tender: about 25 minutes.
  3. Spoon some marinara sauce, about 1/4 cup, onto the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Add a layer of eggplant slices and cover with more sauce. Sprinkle some mozzarella over the sauce, then repeat the layering until your’ve reached the end of your eggplant slices. Top the slices with the last of the sauce and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake uncovered for about 40 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and let the eggplant set for about 10 minutes before serving.

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If you are feeling adventurous try my Ratatouille dish out. Delicious vegetables that will please any palate!

Happy cooking xx

 


‘Quark?’ I hear you say – what on earth is that? Quark means ‘curd’ in German and is thought to have originated in Central Europe–in fact it has been made since the Iron Age!

Quark is a fresh, white cheese, very similar to Ricotta. It can be used in baking for both savoury and sweet pies, mousse and cheesecakes. It is also a good low-fat replacement for butter in scrambled eggs. The flavour is mild and milky; not surprising when you learn that it is made from pasteurised milk which has a starter culture added to it then some rennet to form the curd. It is then hung in cheesecloth to drain some of the whey off.

I discovered Quark last weekend at my favourite food store Farro Fresh on the North Shore here in Auckland. I love Farro because the store showcases the very best and finest of New Zealand food, which means you can always find something new and delicious to try. IMG_0203.png

I chatted to the maker of this Quark who was in the store demonstrating the product.

The Cheese Barn can be found on the Hauraki Plains of New Zealand in a little town called Matatoki. They specialise in certified organic cheeses and yoghurt’s that are gluten-free, have no artificial additives, antibiotics, growth hormones and no chemical sprays.

The ‘chief tester’ and I tried a little piece of this No-Bake Lemon Quark Cheesecake in the store and we loved it! I bought several tubs of the Quark and could not wait for the long weekend to make one for dessert 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 80-100g plain biscuits
  • 50g melted butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 200g soft cream cheese
  • 500g quark
  • Zest of 2 lemons & juice of 3 lemons
  • 3-3 1/2 tsp gelatin
  1. Crush the biscuits, mix in the butter and the press not a 20cm spring form tin.
  2. Whisk the cream cheese, quark and icing sugar in a large bowl, and then fold in  the zest.
  3. Soak the gelatine in the lemon juice, then melt on a low heat.
  4. Beat into the cheese mix – until smooth. Spoon in to the biscuit base.
  5. Chill until set (approximately 3-4 hours) in the refrigerator.
  6. Serve with chopped pistachio’s, and a dollop of cream

Now if you can’t source Quark, you can use Ricotta for this recipe however I do recommend that you hunt the stuff down – it  has a smoother texture and a brighter flavour than ricotta.

I’m sold and will be restocking to ensure I can whip this cheesecake up again, and feel slightly guilt-free for eating dessert 🙂

Happy ‘Quark’ day xx

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No-Bake Lemon Quark Cheesecake