I’ve said it before, I can’t get enough of Middle Eastern flavours. Each bite feels like I’ve been teleported back in time to an age long ago. And in the beauty of it- these flavours are still used and cooked to this day. Recipes are handed down from generation to generation and special secrets are added along the way. The spices are just as beautiful and vibrant and the flavours never disappoint.
Here’s my own take on Stuffed Capsicums. You can always use Zucchinis or tomatoes. This is one I’ll be passing down to my children and I they no doubt will pass the recipe along to their families too.
6-8 fresh Capsicums (a variety of colours looks pretty)
500g Organic Beef Mince
1 cup of Basmati and Wild Rice combined.
3 Tbsp Pine Nuts fried in a little butter
3 Tbsp Olive Pil
2 Large Onions finely chopped
4-6 Cloves of Garlic crushed
100 g Fresh Tomatoes crushed or canned (organic is best)
1 Grated Carrot
¼ tsp Tumeric
½ tsp Cumin
1 tsp Paprika
Salt and Pepper
Handful chopped fresh Coriander
Small handful chopped fresh Parsley
½ cup Chicken Broth
400g can chopped Tomatoes
2 cups of Chicken Stock (or as much as required to cover the vegetables half way up.)
Dash of Cumin
Dash of Paprika
2 cloves of Garlic crushed
Preheat oven to 185c
Cook rice according to packet instructions. Rinse. Set aside to cool
Slice the tops of the capsicums off and reserve to use later as a lid
Cut out the inner seeds and white flesh
Char around the outsides of all capsicums giving some nice black bits. (Adds a great flavour)
Heat oil in a pan
Cook onions and garlic
Once they look translucent add your spices and cook through
Add the beef and brown nicely
In a bowl mix the meat mixture with the rice, stock, pine nuts and fresh herbs.
In a deep dish fill each capsicum leaving 1cm for filling to expand then place the capsicum lids on top
Combine tomato broth ingredients and mix well.
Drizzle all over the Capsicums, filling it up to half way. Add some filtered water if you need to.
Cover with foil and cook for 40-50minutes until nice and soft.
I’ve been kicking myself for the past few years. I can count the amount of times I’ve cooked this dish on one hand. Don’t let that change your mind about trying this recipe. I should of cooked it A WHOLE LOT more! And I intend to. I’m not lying when I say, it’s the best lamb I have EVER tasted! It falls apart, it melts in your mouth and the flavours. My oh my! I’ve really made this dish my own. Don’t be scared to play around with it to create your own special version of this stunning recipe.
Okay, Let’s do this!!
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small brown onion, chopped
1/3 cup fresh coriander leaves
1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons mild paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Organic Lamb shoulder (nice and large)
2 Red Onions quartered
2 Fresh quinces quartered
5 Fresh whole figs or 8 dried
Small handful of Apricots
Manuka or Raw Honey
Butter for frying
Preheat oven to 150c
Blend all Chermoula ingredients in a processor. Cut small incisions all over the lamb. Smother the lamb shoulder in the paste. Allow it to marinate overnight.
Using a large Dutch Oven add a few tablespoons of olive oil.
Brown the onions and quince. Once brown transfer to a plate.
Brown the outside of the lamb all over to seal in the flavours. Place onions, quince, apricots, figs all around the lamb. Fill the oven with filtered water up to 1/3 of the way. Making sure it’s not covering your lamb.
Drizzle with honey all over.
Place in oven and cook for 1 hour.
Take out, baste the lamb in its juices. Add a little more water if it looks dry. (Mine never does, I’m sure you’re on the right track.)
Drizzle a little more honey and cook until your liking.
Take out if the over, keep covered.
Fry a handful of almonds in butter until browned.
Scatter almonds, pomegranate seeds and some parsley and corriander leaves.
In my household I continuously have an internal debate over how to get a full amount of fruit and veggies into my babies bellies. My take on a Minestrone Soup has been a crowd pleaser in our home and ticks off so many vegetables it has me feeling all the warm and comforting feels as I watch everyone slurp it up!
2 brown onions diced
2 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
3 celery stalks sliced
2 large carrots diced
1 large sweet potato diced
3 (or 2 large) zucchini’s diced
3 tins of organic crushed tomatoes
A few stalks of kale shredded (or beans, spinach)
2 litres of my vegetable broth
250g peeled button mushrooms
2 400g tins of Cannelloni Beans (washed)
2 sprigs of rosemary roughly chopped
Parmesan cheese to serve
Salt and pepper to taste
Fry onions and garlic with Rosemary for 3 minutes.
Add carrots and celery for 3 minutes.
Transfer all ingredients (except beans) into a slow cooker and cook on a slow setting until done.
Too with more filtered water if too thick.
Once done add your washed beans for another 20 minutes.
Serve with Parmesan on top and fresh crusty Sourdough.
After some investigating, I finally found the best Sourdough Cinnamon Scroll recipe, with my own few little tweaks of course. Simple process, over night ferment, no stand mixer or a second rise, they turn out fluffy and super yummy (oh, and addictive!)
Prep Time – 20 mins Cook Time – 35 mins Fermenting Time – 12 hrs (Overnight)
Mix the dough 12 hours before you plan to bake: (I did mine at 8pm) Use a cheese grater to grate the cold butter into a mixing bowl. Add the flour and use a bench scraper to ‘cut’ the butter into the flour. Add the sourdough starter discard, milk, lemon and honey. Mix with a spatula until the ingredients are well incorporated. Cover the bowl and let rest on the counter for 12 hours.
MAKE SURE YOU DON’T add the salt, baking soda or baking powder. This will be added right before rolling out the dough
THE NEXT MORNING (8am – depending on your 12 hours)
Preheat oven to 190°. Grease lightly with butter a large cast iron skillet (Baking Tray would also work).
Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, set aside. Melt butter to also set aside
Mix the salt, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl with a fork until there are no visible lumps. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the dough and mix it in with your hands. Generouslyflour your bench and turn the dough onto it. Flour the top of the dough. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 30cm x 50cm rectangle.
Coat the top of the dough with the melted butter and spread cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the surface leaving a couple centimetres bare along the edges. Starting on one side, roll the dough into a log shape. Use the bench-scraper to cut the log into 12 pieces. (approx. 4cm) Place the portions in the cast iron skillet, leaving space in between each piece to expand.
Bake the cinnamon rolls for 30-40 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with icing sugar while hot.
If you’re anything like my husband in ‘iso life’, you have tried, or at least thought about trying to make sourdough from scratch. We have done this whole process a few years ago, but this time round I’m feeling we’ve had more successes then fails. Through the countless youtube tutorials and a few very clever home bakers we have followed and watched the different processes we have found this is the best and easiest way to get the loaf we are happy with!
With the little extra time you might have on your hands, why not make your starter from scratch, it is an easy process that just requires a little bit of effort and love. Now, there are so many starter recipes out there, and every chef is putting up their own, but to save the hassle the one that worked for us is as follows;
Day 1 – In a glass jar mix 1/2 Cup of good white flour with 1/2 cup of filtered water (make sure there are no clumps). Leave covered for 24 hours
Day 2 – You might start to see bubbles, either way, stir your starter for air to incorporate into it. Scrape down your sides and leave for another 24 hours
Day 3 – Check to see if you start to see any activity, it should start to be bubbly, it may have also risen over night, and smell fruity (these are good signs, it means that your starter is active). From now on you are going to start the process of discard and feed.
Once your starter it active, with a nice fruity tangy smell, you need to name it (James named his Gus) and care for it like you would any other member of the family. Your starter needs to be fed everyday, as well as allowed to poop (discard). As your starter is naturally fermenting it will grow after each time you feed it.
You are going to discard most of it except for about 2 tablespoons worth. See the end of this post for ideas to do with your discard.
Each day it is to be fed with equal parts flour and water. I usually do 50g flour and 50g filtered water (I have just started to also split the flour – White 25g and Rye 25g. I like the starter it makes with this combination)
Once you have an active, happy and healthy starter, you are ready to start making Sourdough. After a feed, you want it to double in size before using it for your sourdough.
Now that we have doing this with our starter for about a month, we are now getting a much more active starter, and therefore better sourdough then when we first started.
The ‘everyday’ Sourdough Bread
James has trialled so many different sourdough bread recipes and techniques, until he has put together the ‘can’t go wrong’, everyday recipe that works (usually) every-time. Every recipe will give you percentages of this, that and the other, however, if you follow the steps below, you can’t go wrong!
You are going to start with 100g of your active sourdough starter and dissolve it into 350g of filtered water. (To know that your starter is active, you can do the ‘float test’. This is where you put a table spoon of your starter in a glass of water to see if it floats. If it does, your starter is active and ready to use.
Use your hands to break up you starter into the water
Feed your starter again to replace what you have removed. 50g flour, 50g filtered water
Once you have done this, you will add 450g of good bakers white flour and 50g rye flour. Mix all these ingredients together into a soggy mess. It will be quite sticky, but that is how you want it.
This means that for this recipe you are working with 90% White flour and 10% Rye, with 70% Hydration (Once you have perfect using this recipe, you can trial with different flours and percentages of both flour and hydration).
Leave your soggy mess for 45mins covered with a tea towel. Once you come back to it, it will be much easier to work with and less sticky.
After the 45 mins is up, you are going to add 10g salt and 25g more of filtered water. You are going to fold all ingredients together, 30 secs.
Leave for 30 mins covered with a tea towel Now you are going to do a series of ‘stretch and folds’. This is going to accumulate 2 hours, plus an extra hour rest time.
Stretch and Fold #1
Leave 30 mins
Stretch and Fold #2
Leave 30 mins
Stretch and Fold #3
Leave 30 mins
Stretch and Fold #4
Leave for an hour
Once your stretch and folds are over and your dough has rested in the bowl for an hour, you are going to do your first ‘shape’ – here you want to create some tension on the outer surface of the dough. This is harder to explain, and comes better with practice. Place your dough on your bench top with no flour. Shape the dough using your bench scraper. Before I had once i used my hands, but trust me you will want to invest in a Bench Scraper. During this process you will shape it into a ball to leave rest again.
Leave your dough ball bench rest for 30 mins (again cover with your tea towel after a small dusting of flour so it doesn’t stick.
Once 30 mins is up you are going to do a second shape, again creating some surface tension. Using your bench scraper (or hands) form your dough into a tight ball to the place into a proofing bowl/basket to proof in the fridge overnight. In the morning;
Turn on your oven to its hottest temp with your Dutch Oven heating up with your oven. Once it is heated take out your dough from the fridge and place into the Dutch Oven on come parchment paper.
Score your dough and garnish as desired.
Place the lid on the Dutch Oven and cook covered for 20 mins. Then remove the lid to cook for a further 20 mins. (Now your oven might be different, so you might need to trial timing, you may prefer to leave it just a little longer then this like we usually do.
Pull out of the oven and let sit to cool for at least 30 mins before you cut into it (if you can resist). Enjoy you first bite with nothing on it to enjoy the taste your sourdough from scratch!
Once you have perfected your every day loaf, why not try different flour quantities and hydration. Try spelt, wholemeal or something else. Add seeds in your dough or on top. Try including turmeric, or olives, or sun-dried tomatoes. This is the fun part, improvising with the recipe.
Also, give @thesourdoughstory a follow on instagram for James’ fails, wins and everything in between.
Excess Starter Recipes
As you are feeding your starter everyday, you are also needing to discard some of it as mentioned above (every living thing also needs to poop). There are so many things you can do with your discard if you are not wanting to throw it into the bin or compost. As we trial each recipe I will add them to my blog for easy go to’s!
We would also love to see your breads and sourdough recipes, so please tag us so we can see.
Boy oh boy I sure do love a good lasagna. the classic beef, chicken, vegetarian and one of the most decadent to date was Jamie Oliver’s Duck Lasagna! It was everything warming, silky smooth and the flavours were off the charts good. BUT it takes 4 hours to make! Something I’ve made only twice as a special celabratory meal. In 2010 I had the brilliant opportunity to travel through Italy with my girlfriend. We ate our way around the country for 3 weeks. And my goodness we came rolling home a little wiser on the culinary delights of Italian cooking. So I started cooking the Romans famously known lasagna, however I was still adding the classic Aussie beef. Fast forward a few years later and I met James, he was working with a lovely Italian lady. She invited us over for a party and naturally served us huge lasagna’s. They tasted just like the ones back in Tuscany. Light and delicate. How is a good lasagna supposed to look on a plate? Actually like a hot mess! Not thick and clumpy, not hard. Oozy and once it hits your mouth it’s almost as if you don’t need to even chew. Different parts of Italy make lasagna slightly differently. But in my humble opinion the way I’ve perfected mine is the best (like most nonnas ha!). If you want the best lasagna you need to make your own lasagna sheets. Now, please don’t be scared! We’ve shown quite a few people how to make pasta now and they are surprised at how simple it really is!
So folks, this is as authentic as an Italian Lasagna can get (except I’m a mother so I add as many vegetables as possible and broth…. I love watching my children chow down on veggies they normally don’t eat).
800g grass fed, free range any red mince meat. Pork, Veal.
800g grass fed, free range beef mince.
5 Garlic cloves. (only buy fresh garlic thats Australian grown. Why? (Click here and see why…)
2 Celery Stalks
(Now add anything else that might be about to turn or you’ve been dying to feed your kids… eggplant, broccoli, mushrooms etc)
4 cans of Italian crushed Tomatoes (buy the ones from Italy)
ALTERNATIVELY: If you can’t find any of these fresh herbs or they aren’t in season and a little pricey, you can use your oils.
2 drops of Oregano
2 drops of Basil
2-3 drops of Rosemary
150g Pitted Olives
3 bay leaves
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 190 degrees.
Blitz the veggies to almost a pulp except the onion.
Dice the onions.
Add a tablespoon of butter and Olive Oil to a large saucepan. Allow to melt.
Add Onions and cook until transparent.
Add the crushed garlic, cook for 2 minutes.
Add the blitzed up veggies and cook until darkened in colour.
Place the meat into the saucepan. Allow to brown.
Now add the tins of Italian Tomatoes, Broth, Red wine, Fresh Herbs, Dried herbs, Olives and the juice if you are using them.
Bring to the boil.
Bring it back, cover and simmer for 3 hour hours.
Once cooled add a little more fresh herbs so keep it vibrant in colours.
This is now ready to use for Bolognese or Lasagna. It makes a huge quantity for the freezer.
Bechamél Sauce is the easiest thing in the world to make. Really you can find any easy recipe anywhere. James is a wizz at making the stuff. He says the perfect amount of nutmeg makes for a brilliant lasagna!
To layer the lasagna use any size tray, we like to use lots of the disposable foil trays so it’s portioned perfectly and an easy pre made meal for those who are in need! No washing up necessary.
What you want to do is begin with a layer of meat sauce, pasta sheet, Béchamel and a good grating of cheddar and Parmesan Reggiano. Layer 3 times and top with the cheeses.
Cook until golden and bubbly on the outside.
* note: this will make you multiple lasagnas. They freeze brilliantly for someone in need of for those busy sports evenings 😉
p.s – Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter for all things essential oils; more recipes, ideas, and tips.
Alrighty, this is a winner of an idea. You can place the paste in a jar and throw a ribbon around it… or maybe not even go that far. And BOOM, a delicious homemade gift! Or keep it in the fridge for a week to use. Alternatively, this is my favourite. Freeze it up in your ice cube trays! That is the perfect portion to add into the pan to make a fast curry. I have made curry’s a lot more involved and they have been out of this world but for a weeknight meal, who has the time! Below are a few of my top picks. Remember this is a quick meal and perfect for the winter go to’s! I haven’t been able to find any recipe or play on a few that beats Jamie Olivers Red Curry. Look it up and add this to your curry repertoire.
Green Curry Paste
2-4 Large green chillies (the little ones are super hot!).
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 small Brown Onion
1 tbs Garlic
Small Bunch of Coriander leaves including their stalks
2 tsp grated Lime peel
Juice of 1 Lime
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground Coriander
1 tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp Lemongrass
1 tsp peeled Ginger
2 tsp Fish Sauce
1 tsp ground Tumeric
1 tsp oil
Yellow Curry Paste
I once made this paste for friends with 40 dried chillies!!!! Oh my, I nearly died when we cooked with it. So let’s say a few less and you might get the kids on board also.
10 small dried red Chilli’s. Soak chillies in a bowl for 3 minutes.
A good pinch of Salt
4 cloves of Garlic
1 lemongrass stalk. Peel off the outer layer and cut off the hard ends.
6 inch piece of Ginger, peeled, roughly chopped.
2 tsp of Fish Sauce
2 tbps Curry Powder
1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Tumeric
1 tsp Cumin
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of water.
Blitz Everything, adding a little more oil, salt, juice, chilli to taste. Play around with each recipe and make it your own!