Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Eggplant Salad with Chilli and Garlic

It has been a particularly busy few weeks lately.  Topped off by my Father's health scare and recent stay in hospital which is a 40 minute drive away.  I am so grateful that hubby stepped in and cooked for a few nights, taking the washing off the line and even pouring me a lovely  bath one evening.

It is also wonderful to have the creativity of someone else cooking in your kitchen.  One night I was so fortunate to come home to fettucine marinara with a gorgeous white wine, cream and garlic sauce adorning a delectable range of seafood.  Another evening hubby surprised me with crisp fried chicken, ratatouille from home grown vegetables and the freshest salad with avocado you have ever seen created in Autumn.

Plus pork belly, hubby cooks a crunchy pork belly "Can you hear the crunch" we joke as we bite into the crisp pork belly crackling.

Even the teenagers rose to the occasion and quickly swept and cleaned the spare room when we had an unexpected person sleep over.

Enough waffling, it just reminds me of how much I appreciate my family and sometimes from the worst situations, some highlights and delightful surprises unexpectedly arise ...

Hence, here is the simplest and quickest eggplant salad you can ever make.  It is delicious as well as pretty.  Perfect for when you have a limited time in which to cook.


Eggplant Salad with Chilli and Garlic

4 long eggplant, (I used yellow ones), sliced into 5mm rounds
2 long red chillies, finely chopped (remove the seeds if you don't like it hot)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and freshly cracked black pepper
About 1/2 cup olive oil for frying
Additional 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil

Heat a large frying pan to a medium high heat.  Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil, swirl to coat and lay eggplant slices carefully on top to fry.  After 2 minutes turn and cook the other side, adding more olive oil if required.  Cook another 2 minutes then remove and place on serving tray.
Sprinkle with a little garlic, chilli, salt and pepper.
Repeat in batches until all are cooked, layering on top with the remaining garlic chilli and seasonings. Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil and serve at once or cool to room temperature.

These can be refrigerated overnight, covered, but bring to room temperature before serving.


P.S.  My father has recovered well and is thankfully resting at home.

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Monday, 11 May 2015

Supplí with Pepper cheese

This dish originates in Rome and I have put my own twist to this classic antipasto dish.

There were 2 cups of cooked long grain rice in the fridge and I remember this classic dish from many years ago and reinvented it with what I had available.  I last cooked this when we lived in Sydney so it was a delight to offer my family again.

Although it was a warm and sunny day the nights are getting cooler.
Just perfect for warming food.

Cooked Supplí with melted pepper cheese in the middle.

Supplí with Pepper Cheese

2 cups cold, cooked long grain rice
1/3 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
2 eggs
salt and white pepper to taste
1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup dried breadcrumbs
1cm cubes of pepper cheese (approx 150 grams)

Breadcrumbs, preferably dried, for dipping Supplí balls into before frying them.

Vegetable oil for deep frying

In a medium bowl combine the rice with the parmesan, eggs, dried breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Mix well then pour over the melted butter and stir until it is well incorporated.
Scoop a tablespoon into one hand, flatten and top with a cube of pepper cheese.  Add another tablespoon of rice on top and squeeze into  a ball.
Roll in breadcrumbs and place on a plate ready for deep frying.
When all are ready heat your oil in a deep sided saucepan until a bread cube dropped into the oil sizzles - about 180 Celsius.
Fry in batches for 3 - 4 minutes until lightly browned.
Remove with a slotted spoon and place on absorbent paper to drain.

These can be served with a home made pasta sauce, or as part of an antipasto platter, or simply, because you love to surprise your family.

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Friday, 1 May 2015

May Garden Share Collective

It has been such a warm Autumn in the mid north coast of New South Wales.  We were lucky to escape the strong rain and wind that Dungog, Newcastle and Sydney recently experienced but have had enough rain that we rarely need to water our plants.

I am still picking the odd dragonfruit (pitaya) but this is the last one
(as my neighbours picked the other one on top of the fence).

There are over 100 avocadoes on the big secondo avocado tree.
These are lush and full of flavour.

Ever present lettuce are always delightful to grow and have on hand for salads and sandwiches. 

It is a great time of year to grow rocket as it doesn't shoot to seed too quickly in this weather.

Zucchinis bursting with flavour and delicious flowers to fry as well.

I was so excited last year when there were 5 custard apples on the tree.
This year there are over 30, can you imagine my excitement!?

I  am including echinacea as a herb, although it is a pretty flower as well.

The 4 jalapeno bushes are still producing flowers and fruit.
I do love a hot chilli.

We pick the capsicum green before they can be invaded by pests.

Fancy a leek?

My little kaffir lime tree is finally starting to grow enough so that I can pick a few leaves occasionally

Green pawpaw grow beautifully in our climate.
Pawpaw need a male and female plant to produce fruit but readily grow from seed.

As do papaya, the rounder cousin to the pawpaw.
This green, soon to be red papaya is self fertile, producing both male and female flowers.

Luscious red pomegranates, bursting with flavour.

Oranges, slowly ripening. 

This is a Fejoia which grows on a tree.

Ruby red grapefruit, grown successfully as a dwarf tree.

The snake beans are having a second round.
A good dose of fertiliser ensured that these vines kept producing for months.

These are the highlights of my May garden as part of the Garden Share Collective hosted by Liz.
Please, browse through the other Garden Share Collective members gardens.

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Honey Syrup Cake

Most of you know that I keep bees.  Hubby and I share this fascinating hobby.
Our honey is delightfully fresh and flavour some.
It could be classified as organic due to our stringent conditions and that the inside of the bee hives are coated with beeswax rather than painted.  As well as using no chemicals and the absence of nearby farms.  I will look into certification after Winter when the bees are less active.

I recently asked a few friends what we should call our honey and I laughed at the answers.
You see, over time I have had quite a few stings to my head resulting in a swollen face or head.  Sometimes it is my hand that becomes enlarged and of course all of my friends tell me to take care.
Here are some of their responses to naming our honey business;

Anyway, here is an amazing honey cake recipe courtesy of Guy Grossi from "Love Italy" which will become one of your favourite recipes as well after you make it.

Honey Syrup Cake
Torta di Miele

3/4 cup (180ml) olive oil
1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup (140g) natural yoghurt
1/2 cup (180g) honey
2 cups (300g) self raising flour, sifted   (N.B. I add 2 extra teaspoons sifted baking powder)

Honey Syrup
25g unsalted butter
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 170˚C.  Grease and flour a 25cm spring form cake tin.
Whisk together the olive oil and sugar in an electric mixer.  Add the eggs and whisk for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is creamy, then whisk in the yoghurt and honey.
Fold in the sifted flour by and until just combined, be careful not to over mix otherwise the cooked cake will be heavy.
Spoon the cake batter into the tin and bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in to the centre comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and place on  wire rack.  Leave to cook in the tin for 10 minutes.
For the honey syrup, place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Leave to cool for 5 minutes.
Make holes all over the top of the cake using a wooden skewer then brush over the honey syrup. Serve at room temperature.

Doesn't this cake sound good for you?  It keeps for about 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature.
Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx