Vegie Bolognese

“Recently, in an attempt to have less meat in our diet, I’ve been trying to create vegetarian and vegan recipes that still satisfy me and pack a punch of flavour and texture.  My favourite would have to be mushroom parmigiana.  Right up there with the chicken version!  One dish we eat heaps of is Bolognese or Chilli con carne and I’ve started using half beef, half lentils to great effect.  I still wanted to do a vegan version, so started experimenting with this recipe.  My aim was to get a dish that felt like you were eating the original and still had heaps of complex flavours.  The fact that my carnivorous husband loves it means it must be a success. This is a good recipe for doing in bulk and freezing for later.  Enjoy!”

Ingredients

  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 stick of celery, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 tsp star anise powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 x 400g can of tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g can of lentils
  • 1 x 400g can of chick peas
  • 1 x 400g can of black or red beans
  • 400g mushrooms
  • 4 tbsp Kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup Barbecue sauce (optional)
  • 100g pecans, finely diced
Method
  1. Cook the carrot, onion, celery and garlic in a large frypan until soft.
  2. Add the tomato paste, star anise, cumin and paprika and cook off for a few minutes.
  3. Add the red wine and tomatoes then let it simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Put the mushrooms in a food processor until diced. You want to keep a bit of texture. Do the same with the chick peas.
  5. Put mushrooms, lentils, beans and chickpeas in a large stockpot or slow cooker.  Pour in the tomato and red wine mixture and combine.  Allow this to sit on low heat for at least an hour.  If the mixture gets too dry, add more red wine or vegetable stock.
  6. Add the kecap manis (or dark soy sauce) and balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you want a smokey flavour add the barbecue sauce.
  7. Stir in the pecans just before you serve for added texture.
  8. Serve with the pasta of your choice and parmesan cheese.

 

Parmesan Biscuits with Pesto Cream

“As a caterer I’m always looking for new tasty treats that are easy to prepare but pack a punch in the taste department.  These tasty little morsels certainly do that! The Parmesan biscuits are based on a recipe from a book called “Canape” by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Eric Treuille and the pesto cream was a combination of a few leftover ingredients I had in my fridge.  The combination of the salty richness of the biscuits and the creamy pesto topping is quite addictive and we ended up polishing off all of them in one sitting.  These will definitely become a staple on my catering menu from now on.  Enjoy!”

(Photo by Gary Corbett)

Ingredients

For the biscuits

  • 120g finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1 tsp Keens curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 90g chilled butter

For the pesto cream

  • 1 bunch basil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Juice and rind of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt
  • 200g cream cheese
  • Extra shaved Parmesan to garnish
  • Italian Parsley

Method

  1. Put the Parmesan cheese, flour, curry powder and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add the chilled butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.
  2. Remove to a bowl and knead together until all the ingredients have come together into a ball.
  3. Roll out between 2 sheets of baking paper to a thickness of 5mm and cut out small biscuits using a cookie cutter.
  4. Place on a lined baking tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 180 degrees C then leave to cool on a wire rack.
  6. For the pesto combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.
  7. Remove pesto from the food processor and add the cream cheese with 2-3 tbsp of the pesto mixture.  (You can freeze the remaining pesto for a later date)
  8. Put pesto cream in a piping bag and pipe a small mound onto each biscuit.
  9. Top with a small sprig of parsley and shaved Parmesan.

Hummus Chicken

“After a weekend of catering three different events with three completely different and rather complicated menus I thought it would be good to post my favourite simple stand-by recipe.  I came up with this recipe years ago when I started making hummus from scratch (when I realised it’s so much better than the store-bought varieties!).  I needed a dish that I could prepare in the morning and throw into the oven when I got home.  It’s also really easy to modify by substituting different vegetables such and capsicum or eggplant.  I sometimes do it in small ramekins for a more formal occasion but usually I just bring it to the table in the baking dish and let everyone dig in!  It may not look pretty but the flavours are sensational!  Enjoy!”

Hummus Ingredients

  • 2 x 400g tins of chick peas
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 6 tbsp tahini paste
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Rind of 1 lemon
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cup light olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat a small fry pan and add cumin seeds, stirring until they become fragrant.  Grind with a mortar and pestle until reduced to a powder.
  2. Add all ingredients to a food processor and blitz until smooth.  Add a small amount of water if it’s too thick and season to taste.

Hummus chicken ingredients

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 6 medium mushrooms
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 quantity of hummus
  • 850g chicken thighs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. Prepare all your ingredients.  Finely slice potatoes (I use a mandolin on the thinnest setting).  Slice onion into rings. Slice mushrooms.  Slice zucchini lengthwise into 4mm strips.  Cut chicken thighs into quarters.
  2. Grease a baking dish and put a layer of potato and red onion at the bottom.
  3. Follow this with a layer of mushrooms and cover with the zucchini.
  4. Spread some of the hummus (about a cup) over the zucchini in an even layer.
  5. Spread the chicken on top and cover with another layer of hummus.
  6. Finish with a layer of potato, season with salt and pepper and some Parmesan cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees c for 45-60 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and the topping is golden.
  8. Serve with a green salad, crusty bread to soak up the sauce and vegetables.