Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lamb Kebabs

I love lamb, well, I love to eat lamb. Sure the animals are cute when they are prancing happily around a field, but to be honest, I prefer them on my plate. Sadly though I can't really afford to be much of a lamb-eater. I love a good rack of lamb, but mince is more in my price range. Thankfully though we have an awesome supplier at my local farmers market where I can pick up delicious, and affordable, good quality lamb mince. So I still get my fix.

My absolute favourite way of eating lamb mince at the moment is in a kebab, and this recipe is the ultimate. You can play around with spices and herbs that you  like, but I've discovered that this combination works so well that I've settled on it, so I definitely had to include it on my blog. The kebabs are super easy to whip up and the flavours work so well together; I especially love the small zing you get from the inclusion of ginger, and the freshness from the mint. Thank you little lambies, from the bottom of my tummy.


400g lamb mince
1 small onion (or half a large one) finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt


Firstly, if you are using bamboo skewers soak them for at least an hour,  unless you are like me and are forgetful and/or don't mind burnt skewers.

Next, mix all of the ingredients until well combined.

Lightly oil your hands then pick up golf ball sized portions of the mixture and shape them onto each skewer. You can either shape them onto the skewer directly, or you can create little sausages then thread the skewer though them. Whatever you find easiest.

Grill until browned and just cooked through, this will take just a few minutes on each side.

Serve with a cucumber and yoghurt dipping sauce. This is easily created by mixing some Greek yoghurt with chopped cucumber (seeded and peeled if the skin is tough), a pinch of salt, and chopped coriander.

Makes 6 kebabs.                

Friday, March 18, 2011

Iced Berry Parfait

I'm a big fan of eating local produce when possible. I'd love to have my own garden someday, but for the moment I make do with a few planter boxes and make use of the community gardens. Thankfully we also have a  local Farmers Market  here every Sunday, where I can pick up things which we don't grow at the community garden. Plus it's fun to have a nosey at all the cool local things available (the $2.50 pizza slices from The Tin Kitchen are a delicious draw-card too).

I was at the market last week and the Waimate Berry Fruit and Vege stall totally caught my eye, it was brimming with punnets of raspberries. But while it was the raspberries that drew me in, it was actually the Karaka blackberrries that ended up in my shopping bag. I knew they'd be perfect for this kind of dish as they are a great palate cleanser. But I think any type of berries would work well in this recipe so I'm going to head back to the market this week and get some raspberries and give them a go. The parfait has a really light texture to it and goes really well with extra whipped cream. I love when you can create something really decadent with only a few simple ingredients and a few simple steps.

Btw if you are a fan of your local Farmers Market and want to give them some support  you can vote for  them and/or nominate your favourite producer (or stallholder) at

Iced Berry Parfait


3/4 cup sugar
200-250g berries of your choice (fresh or frozen, both would work fine)
3 egg yolks
1 gelatine sheet
190ml cream, softly whipped
1 and 1/2 tablespoons cold water
1 and 1/2 teaspoons kirsch


Add the sugar and berries to a saucepan (Preferably a heavy-bottomed one). Heat slowly until the sugar dissolves, then bring mixture to the boil and cook for 2 minutes.

Puree the mixture then pass it through a fine sieve to remove any seeds (or skin).

Whisk the egg yolks until they are pale and creamy. Pour on the berry purée and whisk until you get a stiff smooth mousse.

Place the gelatine sheet in a small saucepan with the cold water. Don't turn the element on. Leave it until it softens. Once soft, warm it very briefly (and gently) over the lowest heat until it dissolves.

Add this to the berry mousse.

Fold the mousse into the softly whipped cream and kirsch.

Divide into 4-6 pudding moulds, or a terrine dish. Just be sure to lightly oil the moulds first.


Serves 4-6

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bengal Beef Curry

This week's favourite recipe comes courtesy of a cookbook that my boyfriend recently bought for me. I first scoffed at the book, it's called "Hellbent For Cooking" and is a collection of recipes contributed by members of heavy metal bands.

And while I am a fan of heavy metal, and cooking, I thought it was too much of a gimmick to be of any worth. Well that was until I read the list of recipes and tried some out for myself. There are some really great dishes, with some equally fun names, and it is scattered with tonnes of band trivia which helps keep things interesting. Even the layout and graphic design is appealing. So now it sits proudly next to my copy of "Joy of Cooking". 

The main thing that I like about the book is that the recipes  come from all over the world. One of the dishes that I particularly like is this one, the Bengal Beef Curry, submitted by Vetis Monarch of Weapon. It's so ridiculously easy to make and is amazingly tasty, plus it leaves hardly any dishes to wash up afterwards (bonus!). Also, you might want to note that even though the recipe suggests leaving the meat and potatoes to marinate for four hours, I have been pressed for time and only had it marinate for half an hour, and it still tasted fantastic, so I still recommend you give it a go if you aren't able to leave it that long. Also feel free to reduce the amount of chilli powder if you don't like things too spicy, it will still be flavoursome.

Recipe adapted from Hellbent for Cooking:

  • 900g beef (I like to use boneless beef cut into cubes, but bone-in is fine too) 
  • 3-4 potatoes
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped (you can use a whole one, it's fine)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 whole cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp salt


Add the onion, oil and spices to a mortar and pestle or blender. Combine until they become a paste.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into medium sized cubes.

Place the potatoes and beef into a large bowl. Mix in the spice paste and make sure to coat everything. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for a couple of hours. The suggested marinating time is 4 hours.

Pour all the ingredients into a large pot. Add a cup of water. Stir slowly over a high heat until the mixture starts to boil.

Stir well then turn the heat down to medium low. Cover the pot and cook for 50 minutes - an hour, or until meat is tender and potatoes are cooked.

Serve with basmati rice.

Serves 6

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Chocolate Bread

When I was a kid I used to love eating chocolate sandwiches. Literally a chocolate sandwich; pieces of milk chocolate wrapped up in slices of white bread. Fancy aye? To be honest, I still think it's yum. So when I stumbled upon this recipe I knew I had to give it a go, it was like the holy grail of chocolate sandwiches. There is even melted chocolate in the dough. It's so easy to make too,  if you can make bread then you can make this. The bread dough is patted out and then chopped chocolate is sprinkled on top and then it's rolled into a log. So when eaten fresh, the swirls of chocolate are all gooey and fudge-like. The slices are also yum when lightly toasted. Either way, I love it served with generous dollops of sweetened mascarpone cheese. Next time I might try sprinkling some chopped nuts into the centre as I think it'd be a fun and yummy addition.

Recipe adapted from Leanne Kitchen's "The Baker"


2 1/2 teaspoons active dried yeast
55g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
375g (3 cups) strong flour
30g (1/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
50g unsalted butter (if using salted butter just leave out the salt above)
185g chopped dark chocolate
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
mascarpone, sweetened to taste with icing sugar

Pour 3/4 cup (185ml) of warm water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast, and a pinch of sugar, on top. Leave this to sit for about 10 minutes or until foamy.

In another bowl; combine the caster sugar, flour, cocoa powder and salt. I like to use a whisk to get rid of any lumps. Set this aside.

Melt together the butter and half of the chocolate. Then stir in the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined. Now add this mixture and the yeast mixture, to the bowl of dry ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon then turn out onto a lightly floured bench and knead for about 10 minutes, or until a smooth elastic dough is formed.

Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, coat its surface with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp clean tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm spot for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.

Knock back the dough (punch it lightly). On a lightly floured surface use your hands to press it out until it is about 1cm thick (it's best to aim for a square or rectangle shape). Scatter the surface with the remaining chocolate. Roll the dough into a log.

Lift the log onto a greased baking tray, cover with a damp tea towel and let it rise for an hour (or until doubled in size).

Bake for 40-50 minutes at 180 Celsius, or until light brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the base.

It's yummiest when served at room temperature.
After the first day I reckon it is best eaten lightly toasted so that the chocolate in the centre softens. Yum! The bread can even be frozen in an airtight container for up to 6 weeks.