Tag Archives: Olive oil

Spring Socialising

It’s hard to believe it’s November already. For me, November heralds the start of the party season and the count-down to Christmas. As your calendar starts to fill up, it’s handy to have some tasty recipes for entertaining.

I actually “borrowed” this recipe from a friend who recently purchased a thermomix. Now I love my kitchen gadgets, but haven’t been able to make the commitment to purchase one, but I’ve heard they are fantastic and she was excited to be experimenting with new recipes. I’ve added my own twist to the ingredients and come up with the below version (no thermomix required). I used a store-cupboard standby with the roasted peppers, but you could roast your own fresh red capsicum if you desire. If you would like a chunkier version of this dip, process the ingredients without the cashews first, then add the cashews and pulse the food processor until you achieve your desired texture. If your dip is a little to thick, you could add a bit of the drained oil that the tomatoes came in to help in getting the desired texture.

Serve your dip with your favourite accompaniments – crackers or vegetable crudités.

What I was cooking this time last year: Passionfruit and Strawberry Gum Bavarian

Cashew and Tomato Dip

Ingredients:

  • 100g semi-sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 birds eye chilli
  • 50g roasted red peppers or roasted red capsicum, drained
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 120g raw unsalted cashews
  • 30g parmesan cheese

Method

  • Add the tomatoes, peppers, cashews, garlic, chilli, lemon juice and parmesan cheese to your food processor or thermomix bowl.

Cashews, tomato, pepper, chilli, garlic, cheese, ingredients

  • Blend until you have achieved your desired texture.
  • Transfer your dip to a bowl and serve (or refrigerate until ready to serve). Enjoy.

Cashew and tomato dip

What is your favourite stand-by recipe when friends drop by? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Capsicum, Cashews, Cheese, Dip, Lemon, Nuts, Recipes, Savoury, Tomato, Vegetarian

Picnic in the park

I was meeting friends in Centennial Park today for a baby shower picnic, and was responsible for bringing dips. I wanted to bring one of my favourite dips, tzatziki. After researching different recipes, it seems the secret with this dip is to keep things simple. I was thinking of experimenting with the addition of spices, but the only things that seem to be added are a generous amount of salt and pepper, and either mint or dill. I went with adding both herbs, and some lemon zest and lemon infused olive oil for an extra citrus kick.

The raw garlic actually adds a bit of heat to the dip, so taste as you go when adding the garlic and pepper. Some recipes ask you to peel the cucumber and / or scoop out the seeds, I didn’t but instead allowed the yoghurt and grated cucumber to drain to remove some of the excess liquid. Suspend your strainer over a bowl to allow the liquid to drip through.

Serve this dip with your favourite crackers, or vegetable crudités (I used celery and carrot sticks) or as part of a Middle-Eastern inspired feast.

What I was cooking this time last year: Asian Marinated Salmon

Tzatziki Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup natural greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 cucumber
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I used lemon infused)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely crushed
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • Grate the cucumber and add to a suspended strainer.
  • Add the yoghurt to the grated cucumber in the strainer and set aside for the excess liquid to drip through.

Yoghurt and cucumber straining

  • Set aside the draining yoghurt and grated cucumber for half-an-hour while you prepare your vegetable crudités.
  • Discard the liquid and add the yoghurt and grated cucumber to the blow.
  • Grate the lemon zest and finely mince the garlic and add to the bowl.
  • Add the finely chopped mint, dill, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Tzatziki ingredients

  • Mix with a spoon until everything is combined.
  • Transfer your dip to a bowl and serve (or refrigerate until ready to serve). Enjoy.

Tzatziki dip celery carrot crudité

What is your favourite dip? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Dip, Herbs, Lemon, Recipes, Savoury, Vegetarian

Beetroot blast

Beetroot are in abundance at the moment, and are the inspiration for this recipe. Ingredients that compliment beetroot include cumin, walnuts and feta, which produce a vibrantly coloured purple dip – what’s not to love. This recipe makes quite a large batch, so feel free to halve if you aren’t cooking for a crowd or don’t want to be eating it for the next week.

To toast and grind your cumin seeds, cook them without any oil in a fry pan over a low to medium heat – be careful to keep the spices moving so they toast evenly and only cook until lightly toasted and the aroma is released, don’t let the spices burn, then grind to get maximum flavour into your dip. The cumin seeds can be ground in a blender, coffee grinder or a with a pestle and mortar.

Serve your dip with your favourite biscuits or rice crackers, and / or vegetable crudités.

What I was cooking this time last year: Chocolate Beetroot Cake

Beetroot dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of beetroot, approximately 1 kg
  • 200g feta
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 50g toasted walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • Turn the oven on to 180°C.
  • Peel the beetroot and chop into pieces.

Beetroot

  • Lay beetroot pieces on a baking tray, add the garlic cloves (with skins intact).

Beetroot pieces garlic

  • Put the beetroot into the oven to start roasting while you prepare the walnuts.
  • Put the walnuts in a heat proof dish and put in the oven for 10 minutes or so, until the nuts are toasted and fragrant.
  • Set aside the walnuts to cool.
  • Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan until fragrant, stirring occasionally to ensure they cook evenly.

Toasting cumin seeds

  • Grind the cumin seeds.
  • Roast the beetroot until it is tender, then remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Add the roast beetroot, feta, ground cumin, peeled garlic cloves, walnuts, lemon zest and juice and olive oil to your food processor bowl or blender.

Beetroot feta

  • Blend until smooth and everything is combined.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and blend to combine.
  • Transfer your dip to a bowl and serve (or refrigerate until ready to serve). Enjoy.

Beetroot dip

What is your favourite dip? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Beetroot, Cheese, Dip, Recipes, Savoury, Spices, Vegetarian

Mediterranean inspiration

Classic mediterranean flavours include oregano, lemon, garlic and olive oil. I have combined all of these flavours in Mediterranean Inspired Baby Octopus.

Mediterranean Flavours

Octopus has gained a reputation as being tough and chewy. Octopus is best cooked very slowly for a long time or very quickly over a high heat, anything else in-between will result in a tough and chewy dish. Octopus shrinks a lot once cooked, so bulk up your quantity of raw seafood to allow for the shrinkage factor. Most octopus purchased from a shop comes cleaned and ready to go, check with your fish monger if unsure. You could chop your baby octopus into pieces before adding to the marinade or leave them whole.

A trick I learnt about a while ago is to add some bicarb soda to the marinade to help tenderise the octopus. I have also heard of kiwi fruit or pawpaw being used to tenderise, but I haven’t experimented with these options so can’t provide insights on how well they work.

I recommend using normal olive oil in this dish, this type of oil is better for cooking with. Save your good quality extra virgin olive oil for dressings, drizzling or other uses not subjected to high temperatures.

You could cook these baby octopus on a barbecue, because it has been wet and miserable in Sydney, I have cooked mine in a very hot fry pan. Because of their unusual shape, you will need to turn them multiple times so they cook through. They could be served as part of a mezze platter or with a greek salad.

Mediterranean Inspired Baby Octopus

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg baby octopus
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 3 – 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon bicarb soda

Method

  • Finely chop the garlic, rosemary and oregano, pick the thyme leaves and add to a bowl.
  • Zest the lemons, add zest to the bowl with herbs.
  • Add the chilli, bicarb soda and olive oil to the bowl. Stir to combine.

Zest and herbs

  • Wash the baby octopus and pat try with paper towel.
  • Add the baby octopus to the bowl and stir to coat in the marinade.
  • Cover the bowl of octopus and put in the fridge to marinade. Leave for an hour or more, preferably overnight.

Marinading Baby Octopus

  • Heat the barbecue or fry pan to a high heat.
  • Cook the octopus in a single layer, in batches if required. Turn once the octopus is opaque and getting a little charred or brown.

Baby Octopus cooking

  • Transfer to a serving plate, accompany with wedges of the zested lemon. Sprinkle with salt. Your baby octopus is ready to serve. Enjoy.

Baby Octopus

What is your favourite Asian inspired recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Herbs, Lemon, Recipes, Savoury, Seafood

Sage and butter bean dip

Getting back to my new year resolution to focus on healthy eating (after last weeks’ cheesecake detour), I wanted to share with you a recipe for dip. This makes a refreshing change from hummus.

Sage is known for its’ antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and has quite a distinctive flavour. The taste of fresh sage and fried sage are different and I used both in this dip to add an extra depth of flavour. I currently have an abundance of sage thanks to two plants growing on my kitchen windowsill, but feel free to experiment with whatever herbs you have available.

Extra virgin olive oil does not withstand high temperatures well, but is delicious on salad or used in dips where it is not heated. Regular olive oil can be used for frying or cooking.

If you don’t have a food processor, you could make this dip by mashing the ingredients together with a fork, just make sure to finely chop the garlic.

Depending on how healthy you are trying to be, this dip is great served with corn chips, vegetable chips, vegetable crudités, or even pita or flat bread ‘chips’.

Pita chips: Take your favourite flat bread, it could be Lebanese bread, pita, or your favourite wrap. For a gluten-free option, use a gluten-free wrap or flat bread. Cut the bread into chip size triangles and spread on a baking tray. If you want to crank up the flavour of your flat bread chips, spray your cut bread with a little olive oil spray, sprinkle with salt  or feel free to experiment with other flavour combinations. Cook in a low 150°C oven until crisp and dry, tossing occasionally to prevent those chips on the outsides from burning and to let the chips crisp evenly. Cool completely and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Sage and butter bean dip

Ingredients

  • 40 sage leaves, or to taste
  • 1 small lemon, zested and juiced
  • 400g tin of butter beans
  • 50mls olive oil for frying
  • 50mls extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • Salt, to taste

Method

  • Heat the olive oil and fry 2 of the sage leaves until crisp.

Sage leaves frying

  • Remove from the oil and drain the fried sage leaves on paper towel.
  • Drain the butter beans to remove the liquid and add to a food processor bowl.
  • Add the fried sage leaves, the fresh sage leaves, lemon zest and juice, salt and garlic to the food processor bowl.
  • Add the remaining sage infused olive oil you used to fry the sage leaves and the extra virgin olive oil to the food processor.

Sage dip ingredients

  • Blitz the ingredients until you have a smooth dip.
  • Transfer your dip to a bowl and serve with your favourite accompaniments. Enjoy.

Sage and butter bean dip

What is your favourite dip? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Dip, Herbs, Lemon, Recipes, Savoury, Vegetarian

Hey pesto

Last Saturday morning I discovered a new farmers market at Bondi Public School (5 Wellington Street  Bondi NSW 2026). It was only the second week the market had been running, so there wasn’t a heap of stalls competing for attention, but the stalls that were there had excellent produce. There were fresh pastas, a mushroom guy, cherries, a few fruit and veggie stalls and a very reasonably priced flower and potted herbs stall. I hope it continues to grow in popularity and more stalls are attracted along. I couldn’t walk past the enormous bunches of basil being sold by one of the stalls, with roots intact. I love the smell of a fresh bunch of basil, and it inspired me to make a batch of pesto.

DSC05855

There are unlimited variations on the pesto theme, I have made a pistachio and lemon pesto, but you could substitute walnut oil and walnuts, or any other flavoured oils, nuts or herbs to come up with new twists on the classic.

You will never want to reach for the supermarket shelf version after you make your own pesto and see how easy and delicious it is. I tip with pesto that I have found very handy, is that it freezes really well, so when basil is at a good price I make a large batch and freeze any leftovers I’m not using straight away in small containers, ready to defrost and use as needed in the future. If you don’t have a food processor, you could use a pestle and mortar or even finely chop the ingredients minus the oils, then add to the oils.

If you are not sure what to do with your pesto once you have made it, the options are enormous, some examples that spring to mind include tossing it through pasta, added in a sandwich, mixed in with scrambled eggs or used to make a potato salad.

Pistachio and Lemon Pesto

Ingredients

  • 50g shelled pistachios
  • 1 large bunch of basil
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons of pistachio oil
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon infused olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1 small lemon

Method

  • Heat oven to 180°C and toast your pistachios for 10 minutes.
  • Allow the pistachios to cool.
  • Pick your basil leaves and add to your food processor bowl (don’t worry if some of the younger tender stalks make their way into the bowl).

Pistachios and basil

  • Add the pistachios, garlic, parmesan, pistachio oil, lemon olive oil, lemon juice and zest to the food processor bowl.
  • Blitz the food processor until everything is just combined. Your pesto is ready to use or transfer to containers for later use. Enjoy.

Pistachio and Lemon Pesto

What is your favourite use for herbs? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Cheese, Dip, Lemon, Pasta, Pistachio, Recipes, Savoury, Vegetarian