Tag Archives: avocado

Lamb and Chickpea Kofta with Kale and Tahini Salad

DSC_0155

As a rule of thumb I will only make kofta with freshly ground lamb mince. For this you will need to visit a respected butcher. The spices to flavour the meat are important. I use Middle Eastern flavours – cinnamon, all spice, and nutmeg. To heighten these spices I add smoked paprika and lemon zest.

Now, not traditional to a kofta mix, but something I think works a treat, are chickpeas. These need to be blended to a rough crumb and combined with chopped parsley and onion to the free-range lamb mince.

Kofta can be cooked in a fry pan, but for a taste that is hard to beat I cook them on the barbecue – rather slowly in fact. This gives them a chance to cook through properly without getting too dark in colour on the outside. This batch took 20 odd minutes to cook. That leaves plenty of time for laying the table, which if at all possible, setting a table in the garden and eating them out side only adds to the experience of this satisfying meal.

 

DSC_0129DSC_0143

 

A subtly spiced lamb kofta (not the prettiest of foods) needs two things. A good salad; enter kale. And a good sauce; enter tahini.

When crisp sprightly leaves of kale are shredded and steamed they soften and relax and suddenly the kale is vibrant and green with a milder flavour than when served raw. It’s delicious alongside these homemade kofta. Although the salad and kofta are good companions there is no reason why either one couldn’t be made as a dish on it’s own.

Tahini offers it’s versatility in this recipe as both a sauce and a salad dressing. It might be known that tahini – ground sesame seed paste – loves lemon juice, and garlic for that matter, and when combined with the simple pairings of salt and pepper makes a flavour worthy of both these dishes.

And then thee’s the grilled bread, it is optional, yet I find it hard to resist.

DSC_0146DSC_0152

Kale and tahini salad with Lamb and chickpea kofta

Ingredients 

For the kofta

500g lamb freshly ground free-range lamb mince

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground all spice

1/2 tsp nutmeg

3/4 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp white pepper

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed (use a 400g can of chickpeas and reserve the remaining chickpeas for the salad)

1/3 cup roughly chopped parsley

1 small onion, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

For the salad

4 cups firmly packed shredded kale

Remaining chickpeas (use what’s left of the can from the kofta)

1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

2-3 small avocados (or 1 large)

For the dressing and sauce

3 tbsp tahini paste

1 large lemon, juiced

1 small clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp chopped parsley

Large pinch salt and cracked black pepper

To serve

Grilled pita bread or sliced tomatoes

For the kofta, place the lamb mince, spices, seasoning and lemon zest in a large bowl.

Place the chickpeas in a food processor and blitz to a small crumb, add to the mince. Put the onion, garlic and parsley in the food processor and chop finely, add to the mince. Use your hands to mix the kofta till well combined. Take small handfuls of kofta mince and shape using the palm of your hand into small sausage like cylinders. Place on a tray and set aside out of the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, steam the shredded kale for 2 minutes, rinse briefly under cold water to cool then squeeze the excess water from the kale, place in a large salad bowl. Add the remaining drained and rinsed chickpeas, sliced avocado and toasted sunflower seeds (make sure they’re cold).

For the tahini dressing, place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine. Check the seasoning and consistency, if the tahini dressing is too thick add a dash of hot water or a little extra lemon juice.

Pre heat a barbecue or a frypan (use a little oil if using a fry pan). Cook the kofta on a medium to low heat so the meat cooks slowly and cooks all the way through, turn regularly to ensure even cooking.  This can take 20 odd minutes on a low barbecue or if using a fry pan maybe 12 – 15 minutes.

Just before serving, take a few tbsp of tahini sauce and dress the salad, toss to combine. Serve the kofta with the remaining tahini sauce. To accompany the meal you might add some grilled pita bread or sliced tomatoes – this is optional.

Chocolate, Avocado and Macadamia Nut Brownie

DSC_0087

When I first started out as an apprentice chef (all those years ago) I would of never considered combing avocado and chocolate. No Way! I would of screwed my nose up and shouted “don’t be ridiculous”. But these days, I’m excited by the idea.

Last year I experimented with chocolate and beetroot and found this combination to be earthy and tasty, and right. I feel much the same about combing avocado with chocolate; there’s an earthiness, and richness, and a depth to the taste; it’s perfect baked into a brownie. It’s fun.

DSC_0035

DSC_0040

DSC_0044

A pinch of sea salt can do marvellous things when used with chocolate. I added some to the avocado, which was then folded through the melted chocolate and this gives the chocolate that salted kick. It takes the edge away from the sugar and balances the chocolate in a most alluring way.

Macadamia nuts are native to Australia and I find myself using them in everything. I love them in this brownie. You might consider hazelnuts or walnuts, but macadamias have a creamy nuttiness that work so humbly beside the avocado.

Generally speaking, I like my brownie pretty fudge like, you know, almost under cooked. The brownie I’ve photographed needed five minutes less – damn phone ringing – 18-minutes would be perfect for fudge-like brownie, 22-25 minutes for those who like it cooked through.

 

DSC_0074

DSC_0090

Because I’m mad about bitter chocolate, when the brownie came out of the oven, I grated some Venezuelan 100% cocoa chocolate on top. I also dusted it with cocoa, this was probably an over kill.

My five year old can longer tell me she doesn’t like avocado because, ha, she ate it in this brownie and never knew the difference! I will forever use this an an example that she REALLY DOES like avocado.

Chocolate, Avocado and Macadamia Nut Brownie – makes 15 pieces

Ingredients 

200g 70% cocoa chocolate

125g butter

2 eggs

150g ( 2/3 cup) caster sugar

150g (1 cup) plain flour

1 large avocado

1/4 cup milk

pinch sea salt

80g (1/2 cup) macadamia nuts

To serve – optional

Dutch cocoa for dusting

 

Pre heat oven to 170C. Line a 30cm by 20cm tray with baking paper.

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a medium bowl with the butter. Place the bowl over a shallow pot of simmering water and allow the chocolate to melt. Remove from the heat, stir till smooth and well combined. Set aside.

Meanwhile, place the eggs and sugar in a bowl and whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes till light and fluffy.

Place the avocado flesh, milk and sea salt in a food processor and blitz till smooth (if you don’t have a food processor you could mash the avocado with a fork, add the milk after it’s mashed and try to get it as smooth as possible).

Add the pureed avocado to the warm melted chocolate and stir to combine. Add the chocolate and avocado to the eggs and sugar and fold gently. Sift the flour onto the chocolate mix, add the chopped macadamias and fold till just combined. Pour into the lined tray, and evenly smooth out the batter, Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes – if you like it soft and gooey, or 22-25 minutes – if you like it a little firmer.

Cool in the tin for 5 minutes. It’s optional at this point to grate some extra chocolate on top (whilst it’s still warm). Remove brownie from tin and cool on a wire rack. Cut into desired pieces, and dust with cocoa, or sprinkle with sea salt, if you wish. Store in an air tight container for 3 days.

Backed ricotta salad with black rice and corn

P1040561

 

The Blue Mountains, two hours west of Sydney, has always held a special place in my heart, and it will continue to do so as I had the great pleasure of marrying my spunky husband there last weekend. For those of you who have had the experience of getting married, you’d know how absolutely time consuming planning a wedding is. We survived.

To my husband, I love you. Welcome back to life.

The past weeks I’ve been planning some recipes I’d share when I finally gained my time back. This wasn’t one of them. But you know, inspiration comes from many places.

My brother, also a chef, cooked us a wonderful wedding breakfast the morning after. Apart from the homemade tomato and currant chutney with habanero chilli, that he lovingly bottled and gifted for our small, intimate family wedding, there was eight hour slow-cooked double smoked ham, fresh croissants, silky scrambled eggs, cheeses, marinated olives, crispy pastizzi, and the most delicious baked ricotta.

 

P1040547

 

So, the inspiration for this salad comes from my adoring brother. Thanks Dan.

Ricotta is versatile and when baked becomes firm and sweet, the soft cheese being completely transformed. Add flavour with lemon zest and smoked paprika, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper. Herbs are also a wonderful thing when baking ricotta, especially if you are fortunate enough to snip them fresh from the back garden or potted balcony. Try some fresh thyme, dill, or bay leaf. Rubbing the tray with oil before placing the ricotta down ensures a crisp layer will caramelise during baking and gives colour and flavour to the once white ricotta.

 

P1040580

 

A quick word on black rice. If you haven’t yet tried it, run, run now to the supermarket and grab yourself a box of this gorgeous staple. Also called the forbidden rice it’s deep purple colour when cooked is just as irresistible as it’s flavour, which I’m not sure how to describe other than delicious. Black rice has a similar cooking time to brown. Try serving it with your next casserole or curry, you won’t be disappointed. I like it in this salad for its flavour, colour and texture.

 

P1040558

 

I wanted a dressing with a little spice. Cumin and dried chilli are cooked with the corn and fresh coriander. A glug of extra virgin olive oil and the juice from the zested lemon is added with salt and pepper. It works. Though lime would be equally good and in hind sight I’ll do that next time. Lime zest and lime juice.

I used Frisee lettuce , because I love it’s shape, and it’s bitter flavour. Be sure to only use the lighter inner leaves and if you don’t like bitter lettuce, baby spinach or some peppery rocket would be divine. Let the other ingredients shine through and only use a handful of greenery.

 

P1040561

 

Baked ricotta salad with black rice and corn

This recipe will serve 4 as a starter

Ingredients

1/2 cup black rice

300g fresh ricotta

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 tsp hot smoked paprika

2 cobs corn

1/2 tsp dried chilli

1 tbsp cumin

1/2 bunch coriander, chopped

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

1 avocado, sliced

Inner leaves of frisee lettuce or handful baby rocket or baby spinach

 

Place black rice in a medium pot, cover with plenty of water, bring to the boil and cook for 25-30 minutes, drain and lightly rinse, set aside to cool.

 

Pre heat oven to 200C. Grease the bottom of a small baking tray with oil, add ricotta and press firmly into a small rectangle. Sprinkle with lemon zest, smoked paprika, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 25-30minutes. Set aside to cool.

 

Remove the kernels from the two cobs of corn. Heat a medium fry pan with a little extra virgin oil and cook corn gently for 5 minutes, add a little water during cooking to help steam the corn. Add chilli, cumin and chopped coriander, cook for 1 minute. Turn off the heat add juice of 1 lemon and 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, season with sea salt and black pepper, set aside to cool.

 

Peel and slice avocado into small wedges. When all ingredients have cooled, place a handful of frisee lettuce in a large bowl, add black rice, cooked corn, and crumble baked ricotta into large chunks, toss gently to combine. Add sliced avocado and gently toss, divide between four plates or serve on a platter for guests to help themselves.