Potato crusted lentil bake


IMG_8513This dish had a big response on social media. I simply took a photo and said this is the meal I make when I have run out of ingredients, haven’t been food shopping or I am trying to save money. All these statements are true. I have been serving this meal for almost thirty years. It has improved in taste over the years.

I used the orange lentils but I’m sure it would work with any colour lentils but it’s important for the lentil mix not to be to liquidy. It is great with a big green salad and works well for leftovers the next day. The original recipe came from a Woman’s Weekly cookbook and this is my version.

Ingredients

1 1/2cup of red lentils

5 medium potatoes

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 chopped onion

3 celery sticks chopped

2 medium carrots diced

2 cloves of garlic diced

I can of diced tomatoes

1 cup vegetable stock (maybe more, just add while cooking)

Spices, cumin, tumeric, dried coriander, chilli, salt and pepper

And some Ajvar (I have written about this before, it’s a roasted pepper and eggplant relish available everywhere. Here is a link to a home made version).

Method

Fry chopped onion, and garlic in a deep saucepan with olive oil.

Add diced carrot and celery and cook until just coloured a little.

Now add the lentils and make sure they are covered in oil. Add a little more oil if necessary.

Now add all the spices. Be creative if you feel like it and add a little more of something.

Pour vegetable stock over and stir.

Then add canned tomatoes and stir again. Let simmer and keep an eye on the mixture so it doesn’t get too dry. Top up with water or more stock as it thickens.

Meanwhile in the microwave place your potatoes with their skin pricked (this way they don’t explode!) Microwave until tender. Let cool and then slice into equal size pieces about 2cm thick.

Prepare an oven proof dish with a little olive oil so that the meal doesn’t stick to the sides.

When the lentil mixture is thick and tender, add a tablespoon of the Ajvar mix and stir, then pour into the dish. Place the potatoes on top in a layer. Now brush the top of potatoes with more Ajvar and oil.

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Bake in a moderate oven for around 45 minutes and slightly browned on the top.

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Roast pumkin, chicken, avocado, chickpea salad with Moroccan hummus dressing


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Even in March it is still very hot and humid in Brisbane. To be honest we have all had enough of summer by now! Still it’s a good excuse to put together a few last salads before the cooler weather arrives and what better combination than Roast Pumpkin, Chickpeas and Chicken? The great thing about this salad is it can be rolled inside pita bread for your lunch the next day too.

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Recipe

Ingredients

750 grams of Japanese pumpkin cut into wedges

three spring onions, chopped

1 firm avocado cut into small pieces

2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded

200 grams of mixed salad leaves

1/4 cup of olive oil

1/2 cup of hummus

cumin seeds

chopped parsley

salt and pepper

lemon wedges

Method

Cut Avocado into slices and set aside.

Place pumpkin wedges on a tray with a little olive oil and roast until brown and tender at 170 degrees. Cool in the fridge and then cut into smaller pieces.

Place chicken breasts in a fry pan with a little olive oil and fry until cooked through. Let cool and then shred into bite size pieces.

Drain chickpeas from the can in a colander and run fresh water through them.

Combine the roasted pumpkin, spring onion, feta, chickpeas and mixed salad in large bowl. Combine the vinegar and remaining oil and hummus and cumin seeds in a small bowl. When well combined  pour over the salad and toss through. Place shredded chicken and chopped parsley on top of the salad and sprinkle with a few more cumin seeds. Salt and Pepper to taste.

You can serve this with warm flat bread.

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A mini-holiday to Byron Bay


IMG_7867Sometimes it takes a quiet moment to realise how wonderful it is to live in Australia. Turn off your TV’s and radios and don’t read your social media. Just take a big breath and look around you. Green grass, blue ocean, bright skies, happy people with plenty to eat, what more could you want? I felt like this on our recent trip to Byron Bay and the hinterland.

We had been wanting to visit Harvest Café in Newrybar, up behind Byron for a while now and decided this was the perfect excuse to have a night away. Harvest is a great establishment with a long history. I was so lucky, I arrived and was greeted by the owner Tristan Grier. I had not reserved a table so there was going to be a bit of a wait. This was fine with me as I was going to have a look around the little township but then Tristan offered to give me a tour of the place and tell me some of the history!

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The wood fired oven was HUGE and Tristan told us about the renovations that had improved the baking facility and how the bricks were reused around the building. I have never seen such a big oven! Harvest bakes all it’s own bread in this oven. There is also a huge vegetable and herb garden that surrounds the restaurant and deli. They pride themselves in cooking, sourcing and running the restaurant as sustainably as possible.

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IMG_7823We enjoyed lunch. I ordered roasted carrots with mixed grains, roasted baby eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, miso and basil and Sid had Burrawong Chicken, roast corn, spring onions and pearl barley. Absolutely delicious.

IMG_7832IMG_7833IMG_7834After lunch we drove to our accommodation at Byron called Atlantic Byron Bay. I had struggled a bit with finding a place to stay in Byron Bay. Of course if you have oodles of money you can always find something but if you are looking for a place in the mid range it’s not always so easy. Little did I know what a visual treat I was in for!

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The place is absolutely beautiful and the décor is perfect for a beach holiday. There are several cottages and within those is your room. Each cottage has a shared dining room, living room and kitchen. So while you have the privacy of your own room you also have the opportunity to mix with other people and the space to go for a walk and read outside or inside. The kitchen is fully functional and you could easily cook up a great meal. I just loved the place. There is also an American Airstream that you can reserve. It sits in the garden and is the coolest silver caravan you have ever seen.

IMG_7861It is all in the details, the towels, the soaps, the cookbooks.

IMG_7856In the morning we walked to Byron Farmers Market and on the way stopped at Targa Cafe for breakfast.  I ordered coffee and fruit toast and both were fantastic. Really good coffee, which is always a blessing for me and those around me as I NEED a good coffee in the morning. Targa serves lunch and dinner and the staff were very friendly so I will be returning.

IMG_7883It was starting to warm up now so we pressed on to the Byron Bay Farmers markets. These markets are on Thursdays mornings. There was a wonderful array of produce, lots of things you don’t see all the time. Some things I have never seen like Cashew Apples, which are the fruit that surrounds the cashew nut. The bright colours of all the produce were so beautiful.

IMG_7922 IMG_7895 IMG_7896We should have brought our trolley as we ended up with way too much to carry and struggled back to the Atlantic. How I wished I could have stayed another day or two but that was not how it was meant to be, this time.

When I returned home I baked a new sort of brownie. Dark Chocolate and Salted Peanut Brownies. They were delicious and you might like to try the recipe.

IMG_8065The recipe is just the same as my original brownie and then you add 1 1/2 cups of salted peanuts.

Recipe

Ingredients

500 grams Milk or Dark Chocolate ( choose the best you can find, the highest cocoa value)

• 250 grams of unsalted butter

• 5 large eggs

• 1 cups of castor sugar

• 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

• 11/2 cup of almond meal

• 11/2 cups of salted peanuts grams of nuts

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Prepare the baking tin with baking paper. Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave or over double boiler until runny. Stir in vanilla essence and set aside to cool a little. Beat eggs and sugar until thick and stir in the chocolate mixture. Add the almond meal and then hand stir in the nuts. (or you can just decorate the top of the brownie)When mixture is well combined spread into the baking pan and bake for almost 30 mins. (My oven is hot so I take them out after 25 mins) The surface should be flaky in appearance. Take from the oven and put in the fridge to cool.  Best left overnight Cut and serve when cooled.

Enjoy!

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