:Summer loving: :Loving summer:

17 Oct

*Philosophising

Harking back to my philosophy on food, this recipe is a perfect example of how preparing delicious gourmet eats doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming.

I truly find it inspiriting when I try something that is equally effortless to make and impressive to the palette. In fact that’s the whole reason I started this blog; so I could share the recipes that get me excited about cooking & eating with my food-loving friends.

So here’s a dish I think everyone should try. I don’t care if you hate cooking, ‘don’t have time’, or just think it belongs in the ‘too hard basket’. Try it. And let me know what you think. I promise this dish will highly impress your wife, new girlfriend, in-laws, foodie mates or whoever else you’re aiming to wow.

After all, if you have a good recipe to follow, the hard work is already done. No excuses.

Ceviche de Sierra

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Miss Piggie does Mexican

10 Feb

If ‘Mexican’ means an Old El Paso meal-in-a-box to you, then you’re in for a treat.

There has been a Mexican food revolution here in Sydney, and it seems to only just be picking up the pace. With Mexican Cantinas popping up all over town (Northern beaches residents, try Mexicano in North Narrabeen; Surry Hills hipsters, if you haven’t already been, grab a bench seat and a margarita at El Loco or The Norfolk for equally tasty and innovative fare).

To the point – I was on my way home last night, flicking through my standard ‘spinster dinner’ favourites in my head (cooking for 1 is my least favourite activity) and feeling largely utterly uninspired when I came up with the brilliant idea of attempting to recreate the nouveau Mexican favourite – fish tacos.

Inspired Fish Tacos with Fiery Mango Salsa

Please note – I completely winged this recipe so I don’t have exact quantities, but I’m sure you can use your taste buds to work it out.

LMP's inspired fish tacoPlease excuse the photo, I was too hungry to bother with any more than a quick Instagram shot!

Tacos (serves 2)

  • Tortillas – mini sized ones are probably the best. Even better if you can get white corn tortillas – look for Mission brand of these at Coles or Woolworth’s
  • 1 fillet of flathead (or approximately 200g)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 cup Panko crumbs
  • 1/3 cup of Flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Wombok cabbage – thinly shredded
  • Mango chilli dressing (I found a great version of this in the salad section at Coles – it’s just a Coles branded one in a small bottle – give it a go, it’s really really tasty!)

NB. The mango chilli dressing isn’t essential but I recommend you try it if you can find it as it just adds a little bit of creaminess to the mix. Otherwise you could probably just use some Japanese mayo as a substitute.

Mango Salsa

  • 1 mango (depending on the number of people you’re serving – I only used 1 cheek and had the rest for dessert)
  • Sliced jalapeno peppers – (I bought a jar of Old El Paso ones) the amount you use is totally subjective. If you have a penchant for spice, load up, these add a beautiful salty flavour to contrast with the mango too.
  • Red onion – probably only need a quarter of an onion, but again it’s up to you
  • Coriander – one small bunch, finely chopped
  • Mint (optional) – I had some in the fridge so I decided to add it to the salsa for a bit more tropical flavouring.
  • Juice of ¼ of a lime, plus extra to serve

Cooking the fish

I recommend baking the fish – it’s easy and quick and you can put it in the oven and forget about it for 15 minutes whilst you prepare the salsa.

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and set aside.

Get your crumbing production line ready – spread the flour on a big round plate. Beat the eggs in a bowl big enough to fit the fillet of fish in. Put the panko crumbs in a bowl and add the paprika and cumin. Season with salt and pepper and mix the ingredients together evenly. Pour the crumb mixture onto a large flat plate.

Before crumbing the fish you might need to cut the flathead fillet in half lengthways so it’s easier to work with.

Place the fillets on the plate of flour and turn to coat. Shake off any excess flour to avoid a gluggy, floury taste when cooked.

Dip the fish in the egg mixture then lay on top of the panko crumb mixture. Turn to coat and lightly press the crumbs onto the fish to ensure they stick.

Place the fillets on the prepared tray. Spray with oil and bake for approx 15 minutes. You can tell the fish is ready when the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Mango Salsa

Combine all ingredients and stir to combine. Try your salsa and add more of any of the above ingredients to taste. Aim to make the mixture such that the mango is the dominant ingredient/flavour.

Lastly, heat your tortillas according to packet instructions.

Assembling your taco…

Lay your tortilla flat and add wombok. Top with fish (I flaked mine slightly so it spread easier) then top with the mango chilli dressing, a generous serve of mango salsa and a good squeeze of lime juice. Fold and eat!!!

Buenos días amigos.

Miss Piggie x

PS. I’m working on something a little darker and sweeter for my next installation. Watch this space!

Here’s to Ladies who Lunch

17 Jan zucchini and feta tart

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started this post. To be honest, I’ve been feeling quite nervous about it…Now I know how Thorpey felt before his big comeback swim.

What? Too dramatic?

Ok so I may be slightly exaggerating, however now that a few people have kindly reminded me that I haven’t posted anything in a good few (5) months, I’m really feeling the pressure to perform, so go easy on me will ya?

A lot of little things went amiss in my life in the haze of the pre-Christmas rush and silly season celebrations – sleep, exercise, cooking, writing… In retrospect, I now realize it’s all the things that keep me sane.

So between the mixed platter of crazy busy times, sprinkled with the post-hiatus ‘intimidation’, topped off with a generous ‘Jamie Oliver’ dollop of sheer laziness, Little Miss Piggie has been neglected and, it appears, abandoned! BUT, we’re now in 2012, and I’m predicting this year to be unsurpassably sensational!

::I don’t really buy into the whole ‘New Year’s Resolution’ philosophy…

To be frank, I’m not into setting myself up for failure. I think goals are great, imperative in fact, but I don’t really like the idea of having one per year, or a year to do it – far too limiting & sooo cliché, in my opinion ;)

In lieu of the gratuitous ‘New Year’s Resolution’, I prefer to write a list of things I would like to achieve (often ludicrously overambitious) – not necessarily within the year, just in general. You know the aspirations you have swirling in the back of your mind, but can rarely garner to courage to verbalise? Well, that’s my list. I start a new one every year in the back of my diary and add to it as new aspirations transpire. The beginning of the list is usually carried over from the previous years’…but I try not to get too hung up on them. It’s more for inspiration than a ‘To do’ list.

The reason I’m boring you with my idealistic theories is because my 2012 list is topped with the encouragement to ‘WRITE MORE’ which means I am going to try to pay a little more love and attention to Little Miss Piggie, not just this year, but for as long as she lives. So let’s see how I go!

::Ladies who Lunch

Way back in December 2011 I hosted a lunch for a few close girlfriends. We were blessed with a beautiful day in an otherwise June-like week of weather, so we dined on the deck, drank gluttonously (or maybe that was just me), and eagerly discussed ways to become eternal ‘Ladies who lunch’. In all, the afternoon was a raging success! How very modest of me!

As a result I have come up with a ‘Ladies who Lunch’ menu – one to add to the endless array discoverable on Google. This could really be used for any summer lunch or soiree, and the individual elements are obviously delicious enough to be served alone.

{TO DRINK}

{Posh summer punch}

Seriously delicious, even if a wee bit potent! Adapted from the cookbook Delicious More. Please.

What you’ll need

20120116-215756.jpg

Posh Summer Punch

1 bottle of dry white wine

1 bottle of champagne

1/4 cup castor sugar

2 ripe peaches or nectarines

1 red apple, cut into thin wedges

1 orange, halved and thinly sliced

A handful of frozen raspberries

Seeds of 1 pomegranate

Handful of mint leaves

1 cup of vodka or gin

Soda water, to serve (optional)

Method

Combine wine and sugar in a large jug and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the champagne, fruit, mint and vodka or gin, then stir gently to combine. Leave at room temperature for up to 2 hours (or as long as possible) to infuse.

Top with soda water to taste and serve punch over ice.

{ENTREE)

{Zucchini and feta tart}

Incredibly easy and tasty. A bit of a surprise hit really. Adapted from Gourmet Traveller.

Zucchini and feta tart

Ingredients

Serves 6-8

250 gm frozen butter puff pastry (or enough to)

2-3 zucchini, thinly sliced on a mandolin

150 g  feta, coarsely crumbled – GT recipe suggests Bulgarian sheep feta, however just used Danish feta and it was fine

150g fresh ricotta

¼ cup coarsely chopped dill

1 lemon, finely grated rind only

1 clove garlic, crushed

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C. Remove pastry from freezer and allow to defrost enough to work with. Be careful not to leave it too long or the pastry will become too soft and sticky to work with. Use enough pastry to line a lightly greased 11.5cm x 34cm loose-bottomed, fluted tart tin, folding in any excess.
  2. Once you have lined the tin with pastry, cover the pastry with baking paper and weigh it down with pastry weights or rice and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake for a further 5 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside until needed.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the sliced zucchini, crumbled feta, dill, lemon rind and garlic in a bowl and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. You can also add a touch of olive oil if you like.
  4. Once tart base has cooled slightly, spread with a thin layer of ricotta
  5. Layer the zucchini mixture on top of the ricotta and bake for 15 minutes or until golden.
  6. Serve tart warm or at room temperature as an entrée.

{MAIN}

{Prosciutto-wrapped salmon with saffron and herb rice recipe}

Adapted from deliciousmagazine.co.uk

Whilst this didn’t make an appearance at lunch, I have been promising it forever and cooked it over Christmas for another impressed crowd, hence I thought it fitting to include in the ultimate summer lunch menu. Just to make it clear, I’m not blowing my own trumpet here; this recipe really is the ‘little black dress’ of dinner party recipes. Foolproof I tell ya! That’s why I’ve been so hesitant to give it away!

Ingredients

Serves 6-8

350ml fresh chicken stock

½ tsp saffron (optional – I personally don’t think it’s necessary)

25g butter

50g shallots, finely chopped

175g long grain rice

¼ tsp salt

3 tbs chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, tarragon and chives

Finely grated zest of ½ lemon and

2 tsp lemon juice

2 x 550g thick pieces of skinned salmon fillet, taken from a large fish

8-10 slices thin prosciutto

4 fresh bay leaves

2 tbsp olive oil

Kitchen string

Method

  1. Put the stock and saffron (if using) into a pan, bring to the boil and keep hot over a low heat. Melt the butter in a small pan, add the shallots and fry gently until soft. Stir in the rice, stock and salt and bring to the boil. Stir, cover, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Uncover and fork through the chopped herbs, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6 and put a large non-stick baking sheet into the oven to heat up. Trim the salmon fillets to the same size, then season on both sides with salt and freshly ground pepper. Spoon the rice mixture in an even layer over 1 salmon fillet and press down well. Cover with the other salmon fillet.
  4. Wrapping the salmon. NB. This can be a little tricky. You may find an easier way to do this, however this is my suggested method
    • Lay a piece of baking paper on a board
    • Cut 4-6 pieces of kitchen string long enough to wrap around the salmon and secure. Lay kitchen string at intervals along the board.
    • Place 2 prosciutto slices on the board (over the top of kitchen string) with the ends slightly overlapping to make 1 long strip. Arrange next to this, another 2 slices, slightly overlapping as before. Repeat with the remaining prosciutto.
    • Lay the salmon down the centre of the prosciutto sheet and bring up the slices to enclose the salmon, pressing down gently.

    Note – use as much prosciutto as you see fit. I tend to go a little lighter on with the prosciutto as the saltiness can be overpowering, however it’s up to you.

  5. Arrange the bay leaves on top. Tie string at intervals to secure (refer to picture above if you’re unsure.
  6. Carefully slide the salmon parcel onto the hot baking tray. Drizzle with the olive oil and a little lemon juice and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes for just cooked salmon, or a little longer if you prefer.
  7. Remove the salmon from the oven, cover and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice thickly and serve with a simple garden salad or fennel and blood orange salad

{DESSERT}

{Eton mess with pomegranate and strawberries}

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s ’30 Minute Meals’

Jamie's Eton Mess

Ingredients

400g strawberries

1 Pomegranate

1 heaped tbsp golden caster sugar

1 orange

2 tsp vanilla paste or extract

Splash of Pimm’s, Cointreau or even champagne!

250g Greek yoghurt (alternatively you can use half and half of Greek yoghurt and double cream/whipped thickened cream for a little added naughtiness)

1 x 8 pack of meringue nests (purchase from the supermarket)

Couple of sprigs of fresh mint

Method

  1. Slice the strawberries and put them into a bowl with the sugar. Grate over the orange zest, and then squeeze in the juice from ½ the orange. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla paste or extract, then mash and mix everything together with a fork.
  2. Halve the pomegranate and squeeze the juice & a few seeds from one half into the bowl. Add a good splash of whichever alcohol you’re using and mix again. Leave to infuse for 10-15 mins
  3. Dollop 2 tablespoons of yoghurt/cream on a platter and spread out, add the strawberry mixture, then crumble over half the meringue nests, mix to achieve a marbled effect. Repeat the process, starting with the yoghurt/cream mix, adding layers of strawberries and meringue. Mix again, then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and torn mint leaves and take to the table with the rest of the meringue nests – crumble these over just before you serving.

Note – I topped the Eton Mess with a few slices of nectarine I had leftover from the punch – it was divine!

That’s it guys and gals. I’d love to hear what recipes you’ve used for a summer lunch or dinner party!

Lastly, thanks to my lovely friends and family who have encouraged me to get back online and share some more anecdotes and recipes. It means a lot to hear that you enjoy reading LittleMissPiggie! Best wishes for a marvellous and tasty 2012.

Miss Piggie x

Dessert for the baking averse!

9 Aug

To be honest, I had no plans to share this recipe with you so you’ll have to forgive me for my vague instructions.

I’ve been sitting on it for a little while, unsure about whether it was worthy. The truth is, I was concerned that it’s so basic it might kill my street cred. Contrarily, its simplicity was the thing that compelled me to share it with you. Well, that and the fact that I realised the aforementioned street cred was likely a figment of my imagination!

I don’t even have much to say about it (for once). I often make crumble when I’m in the mood for dessert but don’t feel like going to the shops for ingredients. This just happened to be what was in my cupboard and freezer at the time, and just so happened to be the nicest crumble I’ve made to date – win!

Peachy raspberry crumble

(Serves 4-6)

  • Frozen raspberries

    A really yummy and unbelievably simple after dinner treat

  • Tinned peaches
  • ¾ cup oats or untoasted muesli ( i like using muesli because it adds a bit of extra flavour and crunch)
  • 1 cup Wholemeal plain flour
  • Handful of slivered almonds (optional)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup Brown sugar
  • ½ cup of butter – cubed
  • Extra butter for baking
  • REALLY good vanilla ice cream (preferably the posh stuff speckled with vanilla seeds if you can justify it*)

Note: You can use ramekins or big baking dish, depending on how many people you’re cooking for. I made these in individual ramekins.

It’s worthwhile taking the butter out of the fridge 30mins or so before needed so it’s a little easier to work with.

Method

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Add butter and mix it through the dry ingredients using your fingers until the mixture resembles clumpy, pebbled crumbs.

Layer peach slices in ramekins or baking dish. Use your judgement as to the amount you use – I probably filled the ramekins 2/3 of the way with the fruit . Add raspberries so they are fairly evenly dotted amongst the lovely bright orange peaches. If you’re using ramekins I would add approx 5 or 6 per serving. For bigger dishes, it depends on the size, but use your common sense as to how many to add!

You can put it together up to this point and set the ramekins/baking dish aside until dinner is finito!

When you’re ready to get your bake on, pour the crumble mixture over the peaches and raspberries. I read one recipe that suggested you mix a spoonful through the fruit for a bit of added texture before covering the top with the crumble. Again, it is up to you how much you use. I just added the crumble mix ‘til it reached the top of the ramekin.

Then…for a touch of added wickedness, thinly slice 4-6 pieces of butter (like you would a slice of cheese) and lay one piece on top of the crumble in each ramekin. If you’re using a baking dish, evenly spread butter over the top (maybe 6 slices all up).

Bake for approx 30-40 mins until tantalisingly golden brown. Remove from oven and leave to cool for a few minutes, before serving with posh vanilla bean ice cream or some naughty double cream!

* I’m a bit precious when it comes to ice cream…I don’t eat it that often, so if I’m going to indulge, I do it properly!

‘Til next time fellow food lovers,

Miss Piggie aka La Petite Cochon :)

Bun-Bo-Yum-Bo

24 Jul

Ca va mes amis?

I’m sorry – I have been seriously neglectful of late! Between a trip to the snow, a few late nights in the office and some busy weekends I’ve been eating far more take away than I care to admit!

I even missed Bastille Day! I was planning to get all Frenchy, reinvent Little Miss Piggie as ‘Le Petit Cochon’ and whip up my favourite French fare to share with you but instead I was busy drinking red wine and playing board games in front of the fire in country Victoria! Do you blame me?!

Fortunately the recipe I plan to share with you today requires very little effort and time and the dividends you get from this baby make it a worthwhile investment (banker chat, no big deal, I wonder If the Fin Review needs a food writer?!)

A bit of background… I work in Surry Hills, which feels like the epicentre of Sydney’s food scene. This has its benefits and its drawbacks. I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain, but when you have such a plethora of options and are particularly bad at decision-making (as I am), this happens to pose a serious problem!!!

So it seems strange that of all the places at which we could eat, we often end up at The Naughty Chef; a dingy-looking, funky-smelling Vietnamese café on Elizabeth St.

The drawcard? Bun-Bo-Xao.

I was introduced to this Vietnamese salad early this year by a work colleague and have been chowing it down at every chance ever since (usually every Friday lunchtime!)

In fact, I got over waiting for Friday lunchtimes to come around and decided try to recreate it myself ‘a la maison’…

I recommend you try The Naughty Chef’s bun-bo-xao if you get the chance, but if not, try mine…ok, so I can’t quite claim this as my recipe, it’s more a Luke Nguyen / Naughty Chef hybrid, facilitated by moi!). It’s super easy, deliriously delicious and I’m going to take a punt and say it’s pretty healthy too(if that’s what your into!!)- three big ticks from me!!!

Not quite Porgie’s Bun-Bo-Xao

  • 500g sirloin or rump steak
  • 3 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp finely chopped lemongrass (I’ve used lemongrass from a jar before when the real deal wasn’t available)
  • 2tbs olive oil
  • 400g thin rice vermicelli
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Handful of mint leaves, torn
  • 4 tbs chopped coriander
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, julienned
  • Half a red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 lemon, quartered

Nuoc Cham20110724-042801.jpg

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 chillies, finely chopped
  • 5 – 7 tbsp fish sauce (to taste)
  • 7 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Pour the fish sauce, crushed garlic and lemongrass over the steak. Cover and marinate in the fridge until ready to cook.

Make the nuoc cham by grinding garlic and chillies in a mortar and pestle until it resembles a thick paste.Combine the fish sauce, sugar, water and lemon juice in a separate bowl and stir thoroughly until sugar has dissolved. Add garlic & chilli paste and mix. Set aside.

Soak the noodles in boiling water for a couple of minutes. When soft, drain and rinse with cold water then chop up with kitchen scissors. Once drained, separate the noodles, vegetables and herbs between 4 large bowls.

Heat oil in frying pan over high heat until very hot. Place whole steak/s in and sear. Cook to your liking – I prefer it to be on the rarer side! Once cooked, allow to rest for a few minutes then thinly slice the meat and divide amongst the bowls.

Pour over some nuoc cham (adding more to taste if you wish) and serve with a wedge of lemon and a sprinkling of fried onion and crushed peanuts.

Yum…now I’m hungry for Naughty Chef! This is a perfect recipe for a fresh lunch or light dinner!

Next up – I’m searching for a good winter recipe to share with you – I’ve been reprimanded by my younger brother for not having gotten around to this already – sorry master! So in his words, I’m going to ‘fix that’!!!

Also – I’m heading home to the beautiful North Coast in a few weeks and hoping to pop in to my favourite local – Harvest Café at Newrybar for a meal! Stay tuned for a review!

Little Miss Piggie xx

Duck, consider yourself conquered

6 Jul

What I learnt from another blogger

I read a beautiful blog today. It was about nothing and everything all at once. Just the musings of a girl in love; with her man and her life. I wanna be like that! Heart on my sleeve, dream-chasing and unafraid of what judging eyes will see and surmise.

It has inspired me to be more passionate in, and about, my everyday life. I think (correction: I know) I take a lot of things for granted – beautiful, loyal and inspiring friends, a seriously awesome relationship with a lad I am grounded, humbled and awed by every day (though from time to time I unintentionally sabotage that serious awesomeness – sorry babe) AND to top it all off, an amazing family who I don’t see enough but am always thinking of.

Celebrate your life my friends! You only live it once, and no one else is going to celebrate it for you, unless of course you have Mother Teresa tendencies, and if you do I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be reading this blog!

In the meantime, I’m going to celebrate a dish which has its origins in imperial China and is now considered a national treasure – Peking Duck!

I won’t go on about it (OK, I will), but the crispy skinned duck pancakes were nothing short of sensational – FACT.

This is one of those meals where, mid-mouthful, you feel compelled to shake your head & mumble ‘mmmmmm, this’ssooogood’, all the while attempting to chew/swallow and avoid losing any of the delicious mouthful!

Another myth-defying fact – it was easy! So easy for me actually, as I arrived home from work to find the bird cooking away in the oven, ready for a basting! (One more fact – I did not single-handedly create this goodness. I’d say it was more of a joint effort, with more input from the aforementioned amazing lad than me!)

In all seriousness, I think it’s fair to say that the most challenging thing about recreating this Chinese favourite was sourcing the duck and remembering to take it out of the freezer.

Before I unveil the winning recipe, I have one more confession – we didn’t make the pancakes. Why would you when you can buy a pack of 100 frozen pancakes for $8!? In saying that, I’m sure there are plenty of great, simple Chinese pancake recipes getting around online if you can’t find any at your local Asian grocer or you don’t have one nearby.

Crispy skinned duck pancakes

(Taken from Olive magazine)

Ingredients

  • 1 duck

Marinade

  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder

To serve

  • shredded cucumber
  • shredded spring onion
  • hoisin sauce (add 1tbl of water and a squeeze of lemon juice if you like)
  • pancakes (buy fresh or frozen from an Asian grocer)

Heat the oven to 150C/fan 130C.

Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl.

Trim or pull away any fat from the inside of the duck, then prick all over with a skewer. Put on a rack over a large roasting tin and pour over a kettleful of boiling water – this helps the skin go nice and crispy. Discard the water, then put the duck back on its rack in the tray and cook for 2 hours.

Turn up the oven to 190C/fan 170C and roast the duck for a further 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, brush with the marinade and cook for another 10 minutes. Brush again (using the rest of the marinade) and put back for 5-10 minutes until nicely glazed – you will really notice the difference at this point.

Rest before carving and serve on a big plate with the pancakes, cucumber, spring onion and hoisin sauce!

The best thing about this is that you can make a meal of it or enjoy with a few friends over a vino and a natter.

Til next time,

Miss Piggie xx

You can make friends with salad!

16 Jun

Hey peeps, just thought I’d drop in with a quick post-long-weekend-post…I thought some of you might need a touch of inspiration to keep you going through the week! Or not! I probably shouldn’t assume everyone behaves the way I do in the midst of a long weekend [eating-wise of course], though to be fair, I am pretty confident a large number of my lovely readers are my dear friends, and that being the case I know they will be feeling much the same this week as I am!

I’m going to try to keep this short.

Porgie’s quinoa, pomegranate and feta mash-up

Taken from JOE M500

So the story goes, I had my own little ‘invention test cook-off what’s-in-the-box pantry party’ last night, and the outcome was nothing short of a gastronomic masterpiece – well, that’s probably a slight exaggeration but I’m doing my best to tempt you to try it!

We were planning to have fish for dinner and unofficial house rules state that I am the salad mastermind whilst the man of the house is the butcher/poissonnier.

 

Thanks to the weekend’s festivities, I wasn’t really in the mood to labour over a recipe so I got creative with the goodies in my pantry and this was the result.

  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa [pronounced keen-wah, which is good to know if you’re going looking for it in a fancy pants deli…trust me, I’ve gone searching for ‘kwin-O-ah’ before and I’m pretty sure I gave the snobby deli foodies a good laugh]
  • I stick of celery, sliced on a slight angle
  • A handful of toasted walnuts
  • A bit of crumbled feta – i crumble it finely so it goes throughout the whole salad, that way you don’t end up with too much [I can see heads rolling right now – yes, there is such a thing as TOO MUCH feta – main offenders, you know who you are!]
  • Chopped mint – add as much/little as you like
  • Handful of torn rocket, which just adds a bit more greenery to the salad without being too overpowering

Dressing

  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • Salt & pepper

Make as much or little of this as you like – 3 parts olive oil, 1 part lemon juice and add garlic, salt & pepper to taste.

Wash quinoa and cook according to packet instructions  [this usually takes about 15 mins]. Chop/bash/toast/crumble/tear ingredients whilst the quinoa is cooking.

Don’t forget to make the dressing – combine and mix dressing ingredients.

Combine salad ingredients with quinoa in a large bowl, reserving a handful of pomegranate seeds to sprinkle on top of the salad.

I usually pour approximately half the dressing over the salad then mix it in and taste it, adding more if I think it needs it – there’s nothing worse than drowning a beautiful fresh salad in too much dressing.

For those of you who haven’t eaten or cooked quinoa before, don’t be turned off by its hippy, wholefood reputation. This stuff is amazing, chuck out your white jasmine rice – you don’t need it anymore! Quinoa is apparently really high in fibre and protein and is super versatile. I have a couple of other cracking quinoa recipes up my sleeve so buy a big bag of it!

Pomegranate is another ingredient touted as the ‘antioxidant superpower’. I’ve always thought they are quite expensive, but these days a pomegranate is cheaper than a punnet of tomatoes, and it’s such a good addition to a plain-ish salad. Those little morsels bursting in your mouth…unbeatable. They’re like Pop Rocks for adults, but even better!

To get the seeds out, half the pomegranate then bash the skin side with a wooden spoon over a big bowl. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re wearing an apron or stainable clothes at this point because the pomegranate juice tends to splatter everywhere*.

And a quick update on what’s to come…

On where i’m at with Pig vs Duck Round 2 – I had every intention to roast a duck for Peking Pancakes on my work-free Monday, but when i got round to shopping for ingredients [Monday] I realised that it was harder to source a whole, unfrozen duck on a public holiday than expected…oops. It is coming though!

I’ve also realised that my weekly blogging intentions may have been slightly ambitious! Sorry for the random, unpredictable posts, I’ve got so many great recipes that i’m dying to share, but not enough time to embellish a blog-worthy story around each of them…and where’s the fun in blogging if you’re not telling a story?

I’ve started a little ‘blog calendar’ to help me with this – at the moment it reads 1. duck, 2. salmon [my mystery dish], 3. Bun bo xao [a recent obsession], and then maybe something for the sweeties :)

I’ve had a few suggestions and requests which will have to go in there somewhere too… I’m hoping they might be accompanied by a guest post!

Ooh, one more thing – I spent the long weekend in Bowral, Southern Highlands of NSW – what a beautiful spot! If anyone is going down there, I highly recommend you make a booking at Onesta Cucina in Bowral. We ate there, albeit dubiously, on a recommendation from locals, and were very pleasantly surprised! In saying that, our doubts were hardly warranted [in typical Gen Y fashion, we were convinced it couldn’t be too good because we couldn’t find a website]! Anyway, big tick from myself and the rest of the group!

Stay tuned piglets!

Miss Piggie x

*If only everyone had a kitchen like Jamie Oliver…how good would it be to cook without having to clean up after you enjoy the meal you made with every pot, pan and utensil in your kitchen! In my dream kitchen, I’ll be able to exit and shut the doors post meal whilst the suds pour out of the walls and the monster brushes appear from nowhere for a wash, polish and blow dry! Just like a big kitchen car wash! Oohyeah!

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