Category Archives: Lunches

A soup and another award nomination!

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The wonderful summer break is about to come to a close after weeks of sun and surf, boating and seafood, and fun times with friends.  The kids return to school next Wednesday, and  I dread the return to routine (although it’s a pretty shoddy semblance of routine that’s followed in our house!) that must come with the return to reality. But it has been a lovely start to the year.

2013 Summer Break

Adding to my sense of well being receiving another nomination for blog award!  Always very exciting and validating. It’s a funny thing, but each award nomination I have received has come while I have been having fun at the coast.  I must go down there more often…!

Because this is actually my second time nominated for the Versatile Blogger award, I thought that rather than formally accept it, I would like to share some thoughts on the blog / blogger who nominated me.

The nomination came from Feed the piglet… . I have followed this blog for some time now.  I have to confess that I started to follow it because I couldn’t resist the name, but there are lots of lovely and healthy recipes to be found, entertaining tales and really fabulous photos. I go to this blog often when I am seeking inspiration.  The recipes are generally easy with ingredients that you have to hand or are easy to obtain, but often have something a bit different in them – some unusual or unexpected combinations of flavours.

I have added a number of his recipes to my ‘must make’ list – next is the Eggplant and Mushroom Pate, which looks mouth wateringly good.  The other day I made the Leek and Parsley soup (version 2), and it was delicious.  What really grabbed me was the idea of combining the soup with melted brie on toast.

Leek and Parsley Soup

Recipe, (as slightly modified from Feed the piglet…)

  • olive oil for sauteeing
  • 2 large leeks, trimmed and washed well
  • 200 g salad potatoes, washed
  • 1 stalk celery and 1 zucchini, chopped (not in the original but I needed to use up!)
  • 700 ml water
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 1/2 t chilli powder / flakes (I omitted this so that my little one would eat it)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • single cream to serve

Saute the leeks, potatoes and celery for about 15 minutes on a low heat, then turn heat up to medium.  Add zucchini and cook for another 5 minutes. Add water, stock cubes, chilli, bay leaf and about half the parsley.  Bring to the boil, and cook until all vegetables are fully cooked.

Remove from heat.  Take bay leaf out and blend the soup til smooth. Taste to see if any salt or additional parsley are required.  Blend again if necessary, and return to pan. Re-heat to serve.   Add the cream to thin the soup if necessary – the cream is optional, it tastes lovely without too.

I served with the brie on toasted ciabatta and the combination was magic!

So thank you to Feed the piglet, for the nomination and the inspiration!

Haloumi Pecan Salad

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One of the best things about having the Christmas holiday season during the summer heat is that after a day or two of serious indulgence you start to yearn for a big cool crunchy salad. I haven’t decided whether this compensates for the lack of snow, but it does make it a bit easier to curb that excess!

Haloumi Pecan Salad

This salad is great as a side dish or a main meal.  I only use bacon in it when it is the main, but it is an optional extra.

Recipe

  • 150g peppery rocket / baby spinach mix
  • 1/2 small red onion very finely sliced
  • 75g pecans, roughly chopped
  • seeds from half a pomegranate
  • 100g haloumi
  • 2 rashers bacon, chopped (optional)

Dressing

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 t honey
  • 1 t seeded mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place the greens into a large flat bowl.  Fry bacon until just crisp and spread over the greens with the onion. Cut pomegranate in half.  Pull the outer  skin away and gently tease the seeds away from the inside pith. Layer seeds and pecans over the salad, reserving some for garnish.

Mix dressing ingredients together and set aside until needed.

Once all other ingredients are prepared, it is time to prepare the haloumi.  I have found a new brand of haloumi that I love. This is saltier than other brands that I know but it has a lovely flavour and texture. As with any haloumi, you need to serve it as soon as it’s cooked or it will toughen (although if you do find it has toughened up before you are ready to serve, you can zap it quickly in the microwave to soften it up again).

Haloumi Alambra

Cut the haloumi into 1/2cm thick slices.  Fry in dry non-stick frypan on medium high heat until beginning to brown. Flip over and cook until the second side begins to brown.  The second side will cook more quickly.  Remove from heat immediately and cut into 1cm wide strips. Add to salad.

Give the salad a quick toss with just enough dressing to moisten, garnish with pecans and pomegranate, and serve immediately. For a main meal I serve with lebanese bread that has been lightly oiled, sprinkled with herbs and crisped in the oven. Delish!

Haloumi Pecan Salad2

Hand-moulded Sushi

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Sunday was Father’s Day.  Father’s Day means that Wal got woken up nice and early by his two loving kids. They jumped up and down on him, read him stories and gave him lots of cuddles. I spent that time at the other end of the house reading a book – really enjoying the attention being poured upon Dad.

I wasn’t surprised when Wal suggested a trip to the fish markets to buy some sushimi.  I decided to treat him to some sushi for a bit of a change.

A big platter of sushi, a glass of white wine, and a sunny backyard – perfect Father’s Dad afternoon.

Recipe Steps

Sushi

  • 2 c prepared sushi rice
  • 225 g sashimi tuna, sliced thinly (it it crucial that you buy only the freshest sashimi grade fish)
  • 2 t wasabi
  • 1/2 c prepared dipping sauce
  • medium bowl with cold water with 1 T rice vinegar

Sushi Vinegar

  • 1/2 c rice vinegar
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 t salt

Mix ingredients together and set aside until required.

Dipping sauce

  • 1/2 c light soy sauce
  • 1/2 t sesame oil
  • 1/2 t finely grated orange zest
  • 5 cm length spring onion, very finely chopped

Mix all ingredients together and set aside until required.

Sushi rice

I generally use only Australian produced rice, and so the sushi rice I use is SunRice Japanese-style sushi rice. Cook rice as per instructions (I use the absorption method).

Once cooked, spread rice in a large flat bottomed non-metal bowl. Using a paddle or spatula slice through the rice repeatedly to break up the clumps and to make it cool more quickly. As you do this, gradually add sushi vinegar to the rice. You may not need all the vinegar, you don’t want the rice to become too wet or mushy.

Moulding the sushi

Once the rice is cooled and ready you need to mould it into shape.

Dip your fingers into the water bowl and shake off the excess water. Pick up about a tablespoon of rice and gently squeeze into a rectangular shape with rounded edges. Next, pick up a slice of fish, and gently press onto the rice. The rice is very sticky so the fish will stay in place. If desired you can spread a small amount of wasabi along the centre of the fish before pressing it, wasabi side down, onto the rice. Otherwise, you can have wasabi on the plate to add as the sushi is eaten.

Serve on one large communal platter, or on individual platters, with wasabi and a small bowl of dipping sauce on the side.

Sushi preparation adapted from Cooking Class Japanese / Australian Women’s Weekly. Sydney: Network Distribution Co., c2001.

Broccoli Potato Soup

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On soccer nights I must have a filing and nutricious meal for the budding soccer star, but one that isn’t too heavy.  I feed him before he goes and then give him more when he gets home.  So he needs to be able to play sport after eating, and he eats right before bed because he comes home so late.  For this reason I often try to make a meat free option.  I was inspired to make a potato-based soup by a recipe I found on petit4chocolatier, where I often find ispiration.

Recipe

  • 3 T butter
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 200 g button mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 750 g  potatoes
  • 1 large head broccoli, chopped
  • handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 t dried mixed herbs
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1.5 L vegetable (or chicken) stock
  • 3/4 c milk
  • 3/4 c sour cream
  • handful grated tasty cheese

In a large saucepan, saute onion, mushrooms and celery.  Once cooked, add remaining vegetables, herbs, soy sauce and stock. Add water if soup is too thick.  Once all vegetables are cooked through, turn heat off and cool enough to blend.  Blend in batches with a bit of the milk and sour cream in each batch.  Return to pan, add cheese and heat gently.  Serve with hot bread.

Corned Beef

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For many people the idea of boiled meat is completely unappetising.  Particularly if you boil that meat with onion, carrots, potatoes and cabbage.  For those of us with Eastern European heritage it can be quite an acceptable thing to eat for dinner as long as the vegetables (especially the cabbage) haven’t turned to sludge due to excessive cooking. In fact I remember loving the corned beef dinners my dad, Prof, used to make when we were kids, but I realise it just isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

However, the much maligned corned beef can also be a fabulous option for lunches.

Wal has a physical job and doesn’t have access to shops where he works, so he needs to take a substantial lunch with him every day, and the sprogs, especially the soccer mad son, need something filling enough to get them to the end of a school day.  And they all demand variety.  Vegemite sandwiches every day just won’t do.

So every few months I will do corned beef.  One brisket will make 3 to 4 days worth of lunches and Wal and the sprogs love it.

Recipe

  • 3-4 kg corned beef brisket
  • 1 t peppercorns
  • 1 t mixed dried herbs
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 bay leaves

Place brisket in heavy based pot, and just cover with water. Add herbs.

Simmer for 3 to 4 hours (needs about an hour per kg). Strain.

Let’s face it, it still isn’t looking super appetising but it does taste good.

Slice finely when ready to make fabulous packed lunches, and remember, if this lunch is going to sit in a wrapper for hours until lunchtime, go easy on the tomatoes!