All posts filed under “mains

Epic Post Xmas Lunch Feast – Part 1 – Entree

Well well, I’ve been sitting on this lunch feast for 3 months because of the mammoth task of cataloguing everything I cooked and prepared. The issue is if I sit on it any longer I’m going to absolutely forget what I actually did, curse my laziness for not actually taking notes when coming up with recipes. But it was still an awesomely fun, sun filled day! And good company with good food and drink is pretty much all you need in life really….well until you run out of money for the food I guess. This is also the first lifestyle type shoot I’ve done. It was ridiculously tricky trying to get the requisite shots whilst all the food was sitting there with hungry guests circling the table. But without time to style, think or plan very much, it was all a little haphazard, but a lot of lessons learnt for next time I think.

The main theme of the day was Pulled Pork Tacos so I went a little Mexican chic with everything else. Here are the starters.

  • Moscato Jug
  • Tortilla Chips with Pico De Gallo (Salsa Fresca) & Guacamole
  • Baked Corn with Lime Butter

Post Christmas Lunch Feast

Moscato Jug

large handful of mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)
large handful of mint
1/2 lime (sliced thin)
1 bottle of Moscato (Or Prosecco)
Lemonade to top up

Moscato is a lovely sweet, effervescent wine with a beautiful fruity aroma, perfect for light summer cocktails. But be careful because this is so easy to drink that in a blink of an eye the entire jug will be gone.

Lightly Mull the berries, mint and lime together, pour in the moscato and top up the jug with lemonade and copious amounts of ice. Mix well and serve.

Post Christmas Lunch Feast

Post Christmas Lunch Feast

Pico De Gallo (Salsa Fresca)

(yields 1 medium bowl)
1/2 medium spanish onion
1 jalapeño
1 handful coriander
3 medium tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

Finely dice the spanish onion and the jalapeno and add to a mixing bowl. Remove the seeds from the tomato, dice and add to the bowl. Finely chop the coriander and add to the mixture with the oil, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Post Christmas Lunch Feast


(yields 1 medium bowl)
2 ripe avocados
1/4 Spanish onion (finely diced)
1/2 tomato (seeds removed and finely diced)
juice of 1/2 lime
salt and pepper to taste

Remove the avocado flesh into a mixing bowl. Roughly mash with a fork, and then add onion, tomato, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Either serve immediately or cover with glad wrap to prevent oxidation.

Post Christmas Lunch Feast

Post Christmas Lunch Feast

Baked Corn with Lime Butter

4 corn cobs (cut in half)
2 tablespoons salted butter
zest of 1 lime
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 180C/356F

Soften the butter and add the lime zest. Cover each corn cob with the butter mixture. Then season with salt and pepper. Individually wrap each cob with foil. Then them all in a baking dish.

Bake for 20-30min or until corn is cooked through. This is a non-messy way of doing the corn because I was lazy and didn’t want to clean the grill pan. But if you don’t mind the mess and the cleanup then by all means grill or BBQ the corn to get a nice char flavour and then top with the lime butter.

Check out Part 2 – The Main Event

Pulled Pork Tacos with Apple Slaw, Pickles & Mustard Mayo

Pulled Pork Tacos

Roast Sweet Potatoes & Fresh Figs

Ah another sweet potato recipe you say? But how can you resist when it’s such a brilliant and versatile vegetable? The following is a recipe adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s masterpiece, Jerusalem. It mixes the eastern flavours of shallot/chilli with the sweetness of a western balsamic reduction. Although I don’t know why I was so surprised at this pairing, since the Chinese Black vinegar (Zhengjiang) is very alike to your supermarket Balsamic, so alike that in my household they’re interchangeable for dumpling sauces.

I chose to forgo actually making the Balsamic reduction in the original recipe, instead I cheated a little and used the 12 year old aged Balsamic I bought at an exorbitant price in Bologna last year. I didn’t even know that supermarket Balsamic wasn’t really real Balsamic until Anthony Bourdain told me. But in the end the difference is night and day, the aged Balsamic is more akin to Caramelised Balsamic except without the cloying sweetness and with a deeper richer flavour. My only regret was that I didn’t have the suitcase space or the money to bring more bottles back to Australia.

Roast Sweet Potatoes & Fresh Fig

Roast Sweet Potatoes & Fresh Figs

Serves 4

3-4 sweet potatoes (around 1kg in total) 5 tablespoon olive oil
6 stalks of Asian shallot (scallion/spring onion)
1 red chilli
6 fresh ripe figs
1 handful pinenuts (toasted)
Aged Balsamic (or Caramelised Balsamic/Balsamic glaze)
Salt & Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 240C/220F.

Wash the sweet potatoes and cut into long wedges. Mix with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt & pepper to taste. Arrange on a baking sheet and roast until soft but not mushy (Around 25min). Once done take them out of the oven and leave to cool.

Slice the shallots lengthways, and finely slice the chilli. In a pan heat the reminder of the oil on medium heat, fry the shallot and chilli for around 5min or until fragrant.

On a platter or each plate, arrange the sweet potatoes,  spoon over the shallot, chilli & oil. Tear the figs into rough quarters and dot amongst the wedges, drizzle over with balsamic and sprinkle with pinenuts.

You can also crumble over some soft goat’s cheese as well, but I find the punch of the chilli and shallot provides enough flavour without a strong cheese.


Roast Sweet Potato & Fresh Fig

Roast Sweet Potato & Fresh Fig

Pork Spare Ribs Braised in Coconut

It’s the first day of Summer here in the southern hemisphere and although Australia is notorious for it’s incredibly hot and caustic summers, it actually has been quite cool lately. Usually late spring harbours a foreshadowing of the heat to come but this year we’ve been given some uncharacteristic cold and wet November days. So while I’m sure BBQs and refreshing salads are to come, the current weather does tend to lend itself to some light South East Asian fare.

The following is another adapted recipe from Luke Nguyen’s The Songs of Sapa. It’s hearty but still light enough for a cooler summer’s day.

Pork Ribs Braised in Coconut Water

Pork Spare Ribs Braised in Coconut

(Serves 4)

750g pork spare ribs, cut into 2-3 cm chunks
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 small onion chopped
handful chopped shallot
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
300ml coconut water (juice)
2 teaspoons Sriracha chilli sauce
salt, pepper & oil
coriander & chopped chilli to serve

Combine in a bowl, 1 tablespoon garlic, shallot, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, pinch of salt and pepper with the ribs, cover, refrigerate and let marinate for at least 20min, the longer the more flavoursome. Leave it overnight if you wish.

In a wok or heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to cover the bottom. Fry the ribs in batches over medium heat until brown. Remove and drain on paper towel.

In a clean saucepan bring the coconut water to boil, add the pork ribs, remaining garlic, onion and chilli sauce. Simmer for 15-20min or until coconut water is reduced by two thirds.

Garnish with coriander and chilli and serve with rice.

Pork Ribs Braised in Coconut Water

Pork Ribs Braised in Coconut Water

Salmon Gravlax with Sweet Dill Mustard Sauce

When I think of Nordic cuisine these days I immediately think of Noma and the genius of Rene Redzepi. Which is a bit unfair to the great expanse of food in the region, however it’s inevitable given the invisibility of Nordic cuisine in Australia. I mean outside of IKEA, how many Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish or Icelandic restaurants have you been to? For me, that number is ZERO!

My theory goes that Nordic cuisine is intrinsically tied to the climate and seasonal produce of the region. It’s easy for us in Australia to have access to the ingredients to make an awesome Thai green curry for example, but Hákarl? Maybe not so easy…okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but then you try and recreate anything from the NOMA cookbook outside of…Denmark.

Luckily there are a few Nordic dishes which are easy and completely doable anywhere in the world, one is homemade gravlax, a type of cured Salmon. If you like smoked salmon then gravlax would be right down your alley. Served on some dark rye or crisp bread and you’re well on your way to your very own Smorgasbord.

Homemade Salmon Gravlax with Sweet Dill & Mustard Sauce


1 200g salmon fillet (with skin)
2 tablespoons salt
1.5 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons fresh dill (chopped finely)

Combine salt and sugar in the same bowl, mix thoroughly.
Place the salmon skin side down on a large piece of Clingfilm. Cover the salmon in the salt/sugar mixture. Then cover with the dill.
Wrap the salmon tightly with cling wrap. Put it on a tray with a plate on top to weigh it down.
Refrigerate for 3-4 days, turning the salmon over every day.
Once cured, slice thinly and serve on bread/crisp bread with the following mustard sauce and salt & cracked black pepper to taste.

Homemade Salmon Gravlax with Sweet Dill & Mustard Sauce

Sweet Dill Mustard Sauce

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh dill (chopped finely)

Mix the mustard, vinegar and sugar together until the sugar is well dissolved. Add the dill and mix well.

Homemade Salmon Gravlax with Sweet Dill & Mustard Sauce
Homemade Salmon Gravlax with Sweet Dill & Mustard Sauce
Homemade Salmon Gravlax with Sweet Dill & Mustard Sauce