For Drinks/Starters/Snacks

mixed crostini

COMMENTS: This is not so much of a recipe as a brunch idea. For Father's Day brunch this year I served this mixed crostini on a large board in the centre of the table for 10 adults (with some yoghurt, berries and rhubarb cups to start and lots of champagne and orange juice). The great thing about the crostini was that it was all made in advance (as it is mostly at room temperature) and everyone could take as much as they wanted.

METHOD: For the crostini slice your baguette, brush with olive oil and either bake, grill or char-grill. I made 4 different toppings:

1. Guacamole, roasted baby tomatoes & (very) crispy bacon - I love Nigella's Moonblush tomatoes http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598178,  and you could use the guacamole recipe below (scroll down) or mix avocados, lime juice, coriander, salt and chilli flakes.

2. Wild mushrooms with thyme and goats cheese - you could use this Wild Mushroom mix (scroll down) & your favourite goats cheese http://www.ilove2cook.net/61598178

3. Smoked Salmon, cream cheese & dill

4. Egg & Asparagus - I mixed 6 hard boiled eggs with 2 spring onions, sour cream, chives, parsley, salt and pepper


edamame with chilli salt

COMMENTS: A tasty, healthy snack from Donna Hay 'Fresh and Light' for your Friday night bubbles with the girls! Perfect for impromptu visits too (I cook the edamame straight out of freezer).

METHOD: Cook 400g thawed edamame (baby soy beans) in a large saucepan of generously salted water over high heat for 2-3 minutes or until tender and drain. Place 2 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes and one tablespoon sea salt flakes in a mortar and pestle and grind to combine. Toss through the cooked edamame and serve.

MANGO & GINGER LASSI

COMMENTS: This lassi (Indian yoghurt based drink) from Jan 2013 "delicious" is a perfect quick dessert for the whole family.

SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS:
3 large mangoes, roughly chopped
1.5 cups (390g) natural yoghurt
1.5 cups (375ml) milk
1/3 cup (75g) sugar
3cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 cups ice cubes
6 mint sprigs to serve

METHOD:
Place mangoes, yoghurt, milk, sugar, ginger, cardamom and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl & stir to combine. Place half the mango mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. Add 1 cup ice and blend until ice is finely crushed. Divide lassi among 3 glasses.
Repeat with remaining mango mixture and remaining 1 cup of ice. Garnish with mint sprigs to serve.

WATERMELON DAIQUIRI

COMMENTS:
You just have to love Nigella. She has the BEST ideas for making things simple.  Here the idea of cutting up watermelon into cubes and freezing it in advance so that you can have a delicious frozen daiquiri whenever your heart desires it in a few moments is just BRILLIANT!

MAKES 2 DAIQUIRS

INGREDIENTS :
100mls Bacardi (or to taste)
juice of 1 good-sized lime
1 heaped tablespoon icing sugar
approx. 10 * 5cm cubes frozen watermelon

METHOD:
Blend all ingredients in blender and serve in cocktail glasses and get ready to make some more!

ROAST BEETROOT DIP

COMMENTS: If you like beetroot, this gloriously purple dip from Michael Moore's "Blood Sugar" is an absolute winner. I love it with cheese, especially goats cheese on little toasts and it is fabulous in your salad wrap at lunch time or on a burger. Possibilities are endless!

SERVES 6 AS PART OF A MEZZE PLATTER

INGREDIENTS:
470gs medium sized beetroot, washed & trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 bunch fresh thyme
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons low-fat natural yoghurt
salt & pepper to taste
100g whole almonds

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 180*C.  
Place beetroot bulbs into a roasting dish & rub with olive oil and scatter over thyme leaves. Cover tightly with aluminium foil and roast in oven for 1 hour or until beetroot is soft. Remove & cool completely.
Peel and chop the roasted beetroot. Place in the food processor with the other ingredients. Process until smooth and season to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

POTTED TROUT WITH DILL CUCUMBERS

COMMENTS:
This recipe comes from Matt Kemp of Montpellier in Sydney via the Feb issue of Gourmet Traveller. The recipe includes details to make the dill cucumbers however it felt like hard work to me so I just bought a jar! The leftover trout was delicious on bread rolls for lunch.

SERVES 6-8

INGREDIENTS:
1 fennel bulb
1 litre fish stock
1 rainbow trout (about 350g)
125g smoked rainbow trout, flaked
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 tablespoon finely chopped dill
1/2 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
juice of 1 lemon
jar of dill cucumbers to serve
crusty bread to serve

METHOD:
Coarsely chop half the fennel and bring to the boil with the fish stock in a large wide saucepan over medium heat. Add fresh trout, simmer for 1 minute, remove from heat, cover and set aside until cool enough to handle (1 hour). Drain trout, (discard fennel), coarsely flake flesh (discard skin and bones) and place in a large bowl with the smoked trout. Finely dice the remaining fennel and add to trout with creme fraiche, dill, mustard and lemon juice. Stir gently to combine, season to taste, spoon into serving dish and serve with dill cucumbers and crusty bread.
 

PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED FIGS

COMMENTS:
This recipe comes thanks to  Kirsty, a  mum at my daughter's school, who brought these to a Mum's lunch. They were a MASSIVE hit then and every time I have served them since it has been the same result. So simple but the fresh, quality produce and combination of flavours makes this a winner. Not a precise recipe so adapt as you like.

INGREDIENTS:
thin slices of good quality prosciutto or Spanish Serrano
figs, cut into fine wedges
soft blue cheese - either mild or strong depending on taste
caramalised walnuts (or I use vanilla glazed walnuts from Fourth Village)

METHOD:
Place a caramalised walnut with a small piece of soft blue cheese and a fig slice. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around them and place end down onto a plate to serve. Continue until all ingredients used.

GUACAMOLE

COMMENTS:
This guacamole by Neil Perry for Good Living is a bit different because it uses a mortar and pestle to prepare.  Neil says if your mortar is attractive you should serve the guacamole in it with a bowl of corn chips.

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 small red onion
3 jalapeno chillies, seeds removed
1/2 bunch coriander, leaves only
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
3 ripe avocados
juice of 2 limes
8 cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
corn chips, to serve

METHOD:
Finely chop the onion, chillies and coriander leaves. Place in a mortar with a generous amount of sea salt and pound with a pestle until you have a rough paste.

Peel, stone and halve the avocados and add to the mortar, pounding until they start to mash. Add the lime juice and a good grind of pepper and fold through. Add the cherry tomatoes and fold through gently.


WHITE BEAN DIP

COMMENTS: This dip from Michael Moore's "Blood Sugar" is wonderful as part of a mezze platter but I also serve it more chunky as a mash with dinner. I used a can of butter beans which I always have handy in my cupboard.

SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups cooked white beans
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons lemon juice
125mls chicken stock
100g low-fat feta, crumbled
salt

METHOD:
1.Heat beans with garlic, bay leaf, lemon juice and stock in a saucepan for 10 minutes until soft. Strain and discard liquid. Cool a little before processing until completely smooth.
2.Add feta and salt and process again until smooth.
3.Taste and add a little more salt or lemon juice if required. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

SALMON BALL WITH WASABI & LIMES

COMMENTS:
This recipe is from my friend Jude. It is perfect for a summer evening with drinks. You butter some wasabi on the toast, then some salmon and then give it a squeeze of lime. Just delicious! You use the packet of smoked salmon fillet found near the smoked salmon slices in Coles/Woolies.

INGREDIENTS:
1 smoked salmon fillet
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 tablespoon lime juice
salt and pepper

To serve:
Wasabi paste
lime wedges
toasted baguette slices

METHOD:
In a bowl break up the salmon with a fork and mix in the cream cheese, lime juice and salt and pepper. Shape it into a ball.  Serve on a wooden board/platter with lines of wasabi paste, lime wedges and toasted baguette slices.

OLIVE AND AVOCADO SALSA

COMMENTS:
Thanks to Denise for this deliciously fresh and chunky salsa. Serve in a gorgeously bright bowl with a spoon!  Denise says it is also good on Turkish toast for brekkie.

INGREDIENTS:
1 large punnet of green olives, preferably without pips
2 avocados
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
1 bunch fresh basil
olive oil
Salt and pepper

METHOD:
Chop olives, tomatoes and avocados fairly roughly and combine in a large bowl. Break a good handful of basil leaves roughly and stir through. Pour olive oil liberally over so it is glossy and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with corn chips or toasted Turkish bread cut to cracker size.

SAUSAGE, EGG, PARSLEY

COMMENTS: This snack from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 'Three Good Things on a Plate' is just perfect for the morning after or for your hungry teenagers. You can make the sausages and eggs ahead to make it easy if you have people over. I served mine on toast.

SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS:
3-4 cooked & cooled sausages
2 slices of good quality bread
finely chopped flat-leaf parsley to serve

Eye Mayonnaise
3 large eggs at room temperature
2-3 tablespoons whole-egg mayonnaise

METHOD:
Begin by boiling the eggs for the egg mayonnaise. Bring a large pan of water to the boil over medium-high heat. Add the eggs, return to a brisk simmer and cook for 7 minutes. Immediately drain and hold the pan of eggs under cold running water to stop them cooking. When cool enough to handle, peel the eggs, then roughly chop and place in a bowl. When the eggs are completely cool, add mayonnaise and mix well. Taste and season. Set aside.
Halve the sausages lengthways then cut into slices. Fold the sausage slices into the egg mayonnaise.
To serve, spread the sausage and egg mixture over each slice of bread. Scatter generously with parsley and serve.

CHEESE PLATTER

COMMENTS: Rachel C created this stunning cheese platter, photographed by Denise, at a bonfire picnic in a paddock. A good chunk of your favourite cheddar and blue accompanied by some walnuts, some dried figs, some slices of pear drizzled with honey & chives and some crackers. Serve on your most gorgeous cheese board - mine is an old French wine cask top from Dirty Janes Emporium in Bowral. http://dirtyjanes.com/

WHISKEY MAC

COMMENTS: The Whiskey Mac or Whiskey MacDonald is a cocktail made of 2 parts Green Ginger Wine and 1 part Whiskey. It will warm your cockles on a cold night. It can be made into a hot toddy by adding some boiling water.

CORN FRITTERS

COMMENTS:
I served these corn fritters from "Marie Claire Season" with two different toppings - avocado & coriander salsa and roasted prosciutto & cherry tomatoes. I made the fritters and salsa and roasted the prosciutto and tomatoes the day before and served them at room temperature.

MAKES 24

INGREDIENTS:
125g plain all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
125ml milk
4 corn cobs
1/2 red capsicum
4 spring onions
90g coriander chopped
4 tablespoons vegetable oil

To serve:
avocado & coriander chopped & mixed with lime juice
roasted cherry tomatoes & prosciutto

METHOD:
Sift the flour, baking powder and paprika into a large bowl, stir in the sugar and salt, then make a well in the centre. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Gradually add the liquid ingredients to the dry, stirring to make a stiff, lump free batter. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. 
Using a sharp knife, cut the corn kernels away from the cobs and put the kernels in a large bowl. Add the capsicum, spring onions and coriander. Toss to combine. Carefully fold the vegetables through the batter.
Heat oil in a fry pan and drop heaped teaspoonfuls of the batter into the pan. When the batter bubbles, flip and cook for a few minutes on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.

DILL PANCAKES WITH SMOKED SALMON

COMMENTS:
These little pancakes from "Marie Claire Season" can be made the day in advance and stored in an airtight container. I served them at room temperature.

MAKES 24

INGREDIENTS:
200g plain all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
250mls milk
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon finely chopped dill
1 tablespoon lemon juice
100g creme fraiche
12 slices of smoked salmon, cut in half
dill spigs, to serve

METHOD:
To make the pancake batter, sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Stir in the baking powder, then make a well in the centre. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and milk together. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk together thoroughly. Stir in the lemon zest and dill. Allow the batter to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and grease the surface with a little of the butter. Using 1 tablespoon at a time, drop spoonfuls of batter into the hot pan and cook until the top of the pancake begins to bubble. Flip the pancakes over and cook for a further minute, then remove to a plate, stacking the pancakes to keep them warm. Repeat with the remaining batter - you should have about 24 small pancakes.
Fold the lemon juice through the creme fraiche and season with a little freshly ground pepper. 
Top the pancakes with smoked salmon, a dollop of the lemony creme fraiche, a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper and a sprig of dill.

EASY OCEAN TROUT DIP

COMMENTS:
This tasty dip takes about 1 minute to prepare using a fillet of hot smoked trout which you mash together with 100g of Wasabi Cream and a splash of lime juice using a folk. I use the Wasabi Cream from Brilliant Foods which is divine and available at most good deli's.

SALMON RILLETTES WITH LITTLE TOASTS

COMMENTS:
These little toasts come from Gary Mehigan's book "Comfort Food". The salmon and toasts are prepared in advance and assembled just before your guests arrive. I didn't put the butter on the bread and just toasted them under the grill and they were golden. I served them with salmon roe on top which looked very pretty. Gary says you can also use the salmon mixture as a dip with crackers. Watch the toasts in the oven or you will be starting over!!

MAKES 20

INGREDIENTS:
1 sourdough baguette thinly sliced on the diagonal
80g unsalted butter, melted
1 * 200g salmon fillet, skinned & boned then cut into 5mm dice
1/2 shallot, finely diced
finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
freshly ground white pepper
80g creme fraiche or sour cream
100g smoked salmon
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
salmon roe to serve

METHOD:
1. Preheat fan forced oven to 180* C.

2. Brush the bread lightly with melted butter, then bake on a baking tray for 8 minutes or until golden and crisp. Set aside.

3. Mix the salmon, shallot, lemon zest, juice and a pinch of pepper. Leave to stand for 5 minutes. Mix in the smoked salmon, creme fraiche and chives.

4. Place a tablespoonful of the salmon mixture onto each of the little toasts and top with a little salmon roe. Serve with a glass of champagne.




SMOKED SALMON TERRINE WITH APPLE, CUCUMBER & CAPER RELISH

COMMENTS: My friend Wendy D made this for us at an Australia Day celebration. It looked sensational and was delicious especially when topped with the relish. It comes from a magazine probably a Gourmet Traveller but I can't tell. Start this recipe a day before serving so it has time to set.

SERVES 8-10

TERRINE

INGREDIENTS:
450g smoked salmon pieces
100g full fat cream cheese
2 tablespoons chopped dill fronds, plus extra to serve
300g creme fraiche or quark
juice of 1 lemon
pinch of hot cayenne pepper
400g smoked salmon slices

METHOD:
Place the salmon pieces, cream cheese and dill in a food processor and process until just combined.  Transfer to a bowl and stir through the creme fraiche or quark. Add the lemon juice and cayenne pepper to the mix then gently fold them through.
Line the base and sides of a terrine dish or loaf tin with Glad wrap (a little water sprinkled inside helps it cling), leaving enough overhang to wrap over the terrine later. Arrange the salmon slices over the base and sides of the dish/tin saving some for the top. Spoon in the mousse filling then cover with the remaining salmon. Cover with the overhang film then chill overnight or for at least 8 hours.  Lift out of the dish then invert onto a plate. Top with dill sprigs then serve with the relish and whatever bread/lavosh/ biscuits you like.

RELISH
INGREDIENTS:
2 green apples, peeled, cored & diced
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 telegraph cucumber, peeled, deseed & diced into 5mm pieces
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
2 tablespoons grated horseradish
black pepper

METHOD:
Sprinkle the apples with the vinegar to prevent browning. Chop the capers to form a fine paste. Mix the apples, capers, cucumber, chives and horseradish together then season with freshly ground black pepper.



MELON, PECORINO & PROSCIUTTO SALAD

COMMENTS:
This is a very light and fresh starter using that winning combination of melon and cured meat. I am completely OBSESSED with Spanish Jamon so I used that instead of Prosciutto. I couldn't find pecorino pepato (pecorino studded with peppercorns) so I used plain pecorino.

SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS:
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup vincotto (substitute balsamic glaze)
1/2 honeydew melon
1/2 rockmelon
12 slices prosciutto, torn
125g shaved pecorino pepato 
mint leaves, to serve

METHOD:
Combine chilli, oil and vincotto in a bowl and season. Set aside.
Cut the melons into thin slices and arrange on serving plates with the prosciutto. Scatter with the pecorino and mint and drizzle with the chilli dressing.

COCONUTTY CRAB CAKES

COMMENTS:
These delicious little cakes by Nigella in Delicious Nov '11 issue can be used as a pre-dinner nibble or make them a little bigger and serve them on a salad for entree. They don't have egg or mayo to bind them so it is really important you let them set in the fridge otherwise they will fall apart. Stick to the recipe.  I buy tubs of fresh cooked crabmeat from the local fish monger.

MAKES 14 (little cakes)

INGREDIENTS:
200g cooked crabmeat
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon chopped fresh red jalapeno or long red chilli
2 tablespoons rice vinegar, plus extra to serve
sunflower oil, to shallow fry
micro-herbs to serve

METHOD:
Place the crabmeat in a bowl and remove any bits of shell. Add the flour and coconut and stir to combine.  Add the chilli, coriander and rice vinegar and mix well, then pat the mixture down in the bowl to form a compact layer at the bottom. Cover and leave in the fridge for 1 hour to set.

Heat 2cm sunflower oil in a frypan over medium-high heat.

Take the crab mixture out of the fridge and scoop out tablespoonfuls of the mixture, using a tablespoon with a rounded bowl shape, pressing the mixture into the spoon, then easing it out into the hot oil.  You'll only be able to make 4 or 5 at a time as the 1st crab cake to go down will need to be turned over just about the time you've added the 4th or 5th.  Cook for 1 minute or until the cakes are crisp, golden and warmed through.  Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.

Garnish with micro-herbs and serve with a little rice vinegar sprinkled over as you eat them.

ZUCCHINI FRITTERS WITH SMOKED SALMON & CREME FRAICHE

COMMENTS:
This Zucchini fritters recipe from Neil Perry's Good Food is simple to prepare and can be prepared in advance and served at room temperature.  I make small fritters and top them with smoked salmon and creme fraiche and serve them with drinks. This makes about 15 fritters.

INGREDIENTS:
250g zucchini, trimmed & coursely grated
1 small red onion, finely chopped
sea salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 egg
3 tablespoons plain flour
100g soft feta cheese
1 small handful mint leaved, chopped
1 small handful dill, chopped
freshly ground pepper
creme fraiche
extra dill

METHOD:
Fry the onion and a pinch of salt in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat until soft and lightly caramelized. Add the zucchini and saute, stirring until it is soft.  Set aside to cool.

Whisk the egg and flour together in a large bowl until smooth.  Add the feta, zucchini mixture, herbs and a little salt and pepper and mix until well combined.  Heat the remaining oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Drop heaped teaspoons of the mixture into the pan and fry until golden on both sides and cooked through.

Transfer to a plate with some paper towel paper to cool. When ready to serve, top each little fritter with smoked salmon, a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprig of dill.

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Jude | Reply 20.11.2011 20.31

Hey Sam...love the new look of the page...hope it hasn't been like that for ages...I have been a little zoned out the last couple of weeks. Jx

Rina | Reply 23.10.2011 23.40

Hi Sam..Just back from a RWC drinks party where I brought along your Salmon Balls/Lime wedges & wasabi. Perfect nibble, so easy and visually gorgeous on a balmy

Kate Jerogin | Reply 20.10.2011 17.48

Hi Sam,
I am having people over on Sunday and will try the zucchini fritters with smoked salmon.Thank you,
Kate X

Bronwyn | Reply 30.09.2011 10.07

Can't tell you how happy I am about this!. I have done your proscuitto, blue cheese and caramelised walnuts to death!. Needed more of your recipes xx

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Latest comments

17.05 | 21:12

very nice

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18.02 | 07:27

i would like a small turkey breast and turkey neck recipe - not dietic

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30.07 | 18:59

Excellent salad recipes and not time consuming to prepare ,Ursula

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14.01 | 23:22

Hi Sam, I would love to receive updates for your fabulous blog. Keep up the great work!

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