Category Archives: Mains

Satay Chilli Chicken

Satay Chilli Chicken | Gather and Graze

Finding the right balance of flavours when creating Asian dishes at home can sometimes be a challenge. So when this dish hit the spot with each and every member of the family, I figured it was definitely worthy of featuring on Gather and Graze. The amount of chilli is just enough to tingle on the tongue, without making eyes water and noses run… and the sauce generously coats the chicken and vegetables, without leaving a puddle of liquid on the bottom of the bowl. The two slightly unusual ingredients, Kecap Manis and Sambal Oelek, can be found in most good Asian grocery stores and in many everyday supermarkets here in Australia. I hope this is also the case for those who live overseas as well.

With a myriad of Asian food and flavours out there to be explored… I’m thinking that 2018 may well be my year for doing just that!

Satay Chilli Chicken | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 130g (½ Cup) Smooth Peanut Butter
  • 7 Tbsp Kecap Manis (Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce)
  • 4 tsp Sambal Oelek (Indonesian Hot Chilli Paste)
  • 500g (1lb) Thinly Sliced Boneless Chicken (either breast or thigh meat)
  • 3 Tbsp Peanut Oil
  • 2 Small Brown Onions (cut into wedges)
  • 1 Medium Zucchini/Courgette (sliced into batons)
  • 1 Medium Red Capsicum/Pepper (sliced)
  • Handful of Roasted Unsalted Peanuts (roughly chopped)
  • Handful of Fresh Coriander/Cilantro (roughly chopped)
  • Steamed Jasmine Rice (for 4 people) to serve

For the Marinade:

Stir together 65g (¼ Cup) of the Peanut Butter, 3 Tbsp of the Kecap Manis and 2 tsp of the Sambal Oelek in a medium-sized glass or ceramic mixing bowl. Add the sliced chicken and coat with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

For the Sauce:

In a separate small mixing bowl, combine the remaining 65g (¼ Cup) of Peanut Butter, 4 Tbsp of Kecap Manis and 2 tsp Of Sambal Oelek. Set aside for the moment.

Putting it all together:

My preference is to remove the chicken from the fridge about an hour before cooking, allowing it to come to room temperature.

Have all the vegetables and peanuts chopped/sliced and ready to go. The fresh coriander should also be chopped and placed in a small serving bowl.

Satay Chilli Chicken | Gather and Graze

Satay Chilli Chicken | Gather and Graze

Satay Chilli Chicken | Gather and Graze

Heat a large wok (or frying pan) to medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsp of the Peanut Oil to the pan. Add the chicken and stir-fry until browned… a little caramelisation is perfect! Remove from the wok to a bowl and set aside for the moment.

Add the extra tablespoon of Peanut Oil to the wok and stir fry the onion wedges for a couple of minutes, before adding in the capsicum and zucchini. Continue stir-frying for a couple more minutes until the vegetables are showing signs of just starting to soften a little.

Stir in the sauce, that had been prepared and set aside, and stir quickly to coat the vegetables in the wok. Place the chicken back in, along with the chopped peanuts and stir to combine. Transfer to a large serving bowl and sprinkle the top with a little of the chopped fresh coriander.

Satay Chilli Chicken | Gather and Graze

Serve without delay… along with a bowl of steamed jasmine rice and the remaining fresh coriander, for people to take as much or as little as they please.


  • For anyone with a Peanut/Nut Allergy please scroll down to the comments field to read Ron’s suggestions for possible substitutions for each of the peanut products (butter, oil and chopped nuts). Thanks Ron!


Kaffir Lime BBQ Chicken

Kaffir Lime BBQ Chicken | Gather and Graze

Feeling refreshed and recuperated after our long summer break, the boys are now back at school and my mind can finally refocus a little on my dear Gather and Graze. I hope you’ve all been well over the past few months and may I (somewhat belatedly) wish each and every one of you a very Happy New Year.

This recipe has been a popular one with our family through the summer time, though I can certainly picture us eating it year round, as the flavour is simply too good to set aside as a seasonal dish. Continue reading

Elizabeth David’s Lamb Boulangère

Lamb Boulangere | Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Potatoes | Gather and Graze

I must admit to being quite smitten by this particular lamb dish… only quite recently plucked from the pages of Elizabeth David’s fabulous book, ‘French Provincial Cooking’. My copy is a fairly cheap Penguin-published paperback, which I’ve flicked through occasionally over the years, but in fact, have never really made anything substantial from. Happy to say that this was put to rights about a month ago. Continue reading

Beef, Rosemary and Red Wine Pie

Beef, Rosemary and Red Wine Pie with Rough Puff Pastry | Gather and Graze

It’s doubtful that I’ll ever reach the stage where creating gels, foams or other Heston-esque kitchen creations becomes part of my everyday cooking repertoire… however now and then, there are days when I’m up for the challenge of preparing or cooking something that might have seemed a little daunting before. De-boning quail for Sandra’s Pan Fried Quail with Vincotto Glazed Grapes is a prime example… and then making my first ever Rough Puff Pastry to encase this delicious Beef, Rosemary and Red Wine Pie, on this past weekend is another. Continue reading

Leek and Fresh Herb Tart / Quiche

Leek and Fresh Herb Tart / Quiche | Recipe | Gather and Graze

Ideally you shouldn’t be reading this post for yet another month. You see… my excessively organised mind had quite liked the idea of my 100th Post (yes, that’s THIS one! 🙂 ) being posted on Gather and Graze’s 2nd Blogiversary (the 12th April). But here we are… well ahead of schedule… so I guess we’ll just have to celebrate twice! Continue reading

Hoisin Chicken

Hoisin Chicken | Gather and Graze

A quick little post to share a delicious, yet fast and easy chicken dish that we enjoyed a couple of nights ago. So much to love about sticky, finger-licking chicken thigh fillets that take only a few moments to prep and about half an hour to cook! These will be fabulous when the kids go back to school in a couple of week’s time and I’m looking for those fast mid-week meals once again!

Both adults and children alike enjoyed the hit of chilli, though feel free to reduce the amount of chilli sauce if you prefer a little less heat. Recipe inspired by and adapted from a Bill Granger recipe.

Hoisin Chicken | Gather and Graze

  • 80ml/⅓ Cup Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon (Chinese) Chilli & Garlic Sauce (or feel free to use a plain chilli sauce and add a couple of cloves of crushed garlic)
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Freshly-Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • 2 Teaspoons Fresh Ginger (Grated)
  • ½ Teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder
  • 1kg (Approx 8) Free-Range Chicken Thigh Fillets (trimmed of any excess fat)
  • 1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Seeds

In a large mixing bowl place the hoisin, chilli and soy sauces, the lemon juice, honey, ginger, garlic and Chinese Five Spice. Stir until well combined, then add the chicken and allow to marinate for about half an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and line a large baking tray with foil.

Place the chicken pieces onto the lined tray, spooning any sauce left in the bowl over the top of them and bake in the oven for about 30-35 minutes (or until cooked through). Remove to a serving dish and scatter with the toasted sesame seeds. Perfect on a summer’s evening, served with a crisp white, some steamed jasmine rice and a crunchy Asian-style cabbage salad… or some lightly steamed greens.

Hoisin Chicken | Gather and Graze

A Little Broadway Lasagne with Beef and Mushrooms

Beef and Mushroom Lasagne | Gather and Graze It’s not even my type of music, yet I find the soundtrack to the Broadway Musical ‘Jersey Boys’ strangely infectious. It’s one of 3 musicals that I’ve seen ‘live’ in New York and I have incredibly fond memories of it, mostly due to the fact that I saw it on a fabulous girl’s weekend with a dear friend from Australia who was also living in the USA at the time. Continue reading

Salmon and Prawns in Spicy Coconut Broth

Salmon and Prawns in Spicy Coconut Broth |

Yesterday afternoon I spent a very pleasant hour or so sorting (and at long last, filing!) an ever-growing pile of recipes that have been ripped out of cooking magazines over the years. Often there are only a few recipes inside that truly appeal, so with each move we’ve made around the country or world, I’ve found it difficult to justify the continual packing and unpacking of so many magazines… plus I’m loathe to stack them onto our bookshelves, which quite honestly deserve a finer quality of literature. For the most part though they are all recipes that I would still like to try out at some stage in the future and finally having them in some sort of order will make this much more achievable.

The following recipe was one of the first that I sorted. It was immediately placed to one side with intentions of making it sooner rather than later. In fact it was made much sooner than I’d anticipated – that very same night! So quick and easy to make, yet beautifully fragrant, light and healthful. The whole family enjoyed this one… I prepared a little steamed jasmine rice to have on the side, to soak up some of the delicious broth at the end. We’re already looking forward to the next time this lovely dish graces our table! It came from a Delicious Magazine… a Valli Little recipe, I think… I adapted it very slightly, in that I didn’t panfry the salmon and prawns separately (who wants to wash up an extra frypan?!) but instead poached the salmon and prawns in the broth… it worked beautifully.

Salmon and Prawns in Spicy Coconut Broth

  • 1 Tablespoon Sunflower Oil
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Laksa Paste (taste and add the extra tbsp if too mild)
  • 400ml Can Coconut Milk
  • 125ml/½ Cup Free-Range Chicken Stock
  • 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 4 Kaffir Lime Leaves (I used dried ones)
  • 4 Salmon Fillets (about 125g each)
  • 12 Raw Prawns (Peeled and Deveined, tails left intact) or Cooked Prawns if you prefer (which will just need warming in the broth for a minute or so before serving)
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Lime Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
  • 100g (approx 4-5 each) Snow Peas (Blanched for 2mins in boiling water, then drained)
  • Fresh Coriander/Cilantro Leaves (for Garnishing)

In a large deep frypan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the paste and stir for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Now add the coconut milk, stock, sugar and kaffir lime leaves. Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the salmon fillets to the broth and allow them to poach for 4-5 minutes (covering the pan with a lid). Then add the prawns and simmer for a further 2-3 minutes. Pour in the lime juice and fish sauce and remove from the heat as soon as the salmon and prawns are cooked to perfection.

Divide the seafood and snow peas among 4 shallow bowls and then pour over the broth and garnish with fresh coriander. Serve immediately as is, or with a side of steamed jasmine rice.

* In future I think I’ll toss the snow peas into the broth at the same time as the prawns, rather than boiling them separately in yet another saucepan… LOVE a one pot dish! 

** Purchase the best Laksa paste you can find – it’s worth it. Or even better, make your own if you have the time.

Seafood Filo Bonbons with Lemon Cream Sauce

Seafood Filo Bonbons with Lemon Cream Sauce | Gather and Graze

Some dishes remain etched in our minds… often linked to fond memories of the people who we ate them with or the places where we sat to savour and indulge in them. We may not cook them all the time… in fact years may trickle by before we find them on the table once again. In some ways comparable to beautiful, strong friendships that are created over the years. The ones that not only survive, despite the distance and life keeping us busy, but grow stronger… with no need of daily text messages or phone calls every week. The absolute joy of seeing these friends, after months or even years is like waking up on Christmas morning!

Seafood Filo Bonbons were something my mother used to make on occasions for grown-up Dinner Parties with their friends. They were usually served as an entrée/starter before the main meal came out. In the days where the table was beautifully laden with tablecloths, fine china and crystal glasses. Cutlery set out like soldiers either side of the plates… “always work from the outside in!”, my mother taught us well. I was but a child then… but would peep through the dining room door to look in wonder at the beautifully dressed ladies and the feast that they were all partaking in. There was such an element of excitement on Dinner Party nights… the sights and sounds and smells all tucked away, to this day (somewhat hazily, yet sweet) in my mind.

Over the years, we’ve had dinners of our own with friends… not quite the fancy, elegant dinner parties of the 70’s, but the more relaxed and casual versions of the 90’s and 00’s. Seafood Bonbons have made the occasional appearance with some of our dear friends too… and always to much delight and appreciation! On my table this week they featured as a main dish, with two bonbons per person instead of one. I hope you’ll enjoy them as well.

Seafood Filo Bonbons with Lemon Cream Sauce | Gather and Graze

For the Seafood Filo Bonbons:

  • 500ml/4 Cups Water
  • 300g Raw Prawn/Shrimp Meat (chopped in halves)
  • 300g Raw Scallops (chopped in halves)
  • 16 (Long) Chives
  • 1 Heaped Tablespoon Cream
  • 1 Clove of Garlic (Crushed)
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 16 Sheets of Filo Pastry (I use Antoniou brand, which are 28cm x 40cm)
  • 75g/5 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (Melted)

For the Lemon Cream Sauce:

  • 2 Free-Range Egg Yolks
  • 80ml/⅓ Cup Cream
  • 80ml/⅓ Cup Reserved Stock (from poaching the seafood)
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 30g Unsalted Butter (Softened and Diced)
  • 1 Tablespoon Chives (Chopped)
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Place the water into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the prawns and scallops, cook for 30 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon to a mixing bowl to cool down a little. If there is any excess water that has transferred to the bowl with the seafood, be sure to drain it out. Now add the chives to the saucepan and cook for 3 seconds, remove and also set aside for the moment. Reserve 80mls (⅓ Cup) of the cooking water/stock and set aside for making the sauce later on.

When the prawns and scallops have cooled a little, add the 1 tablespoon of cream, the crushed garlic, salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Seafood Filo Bonbons with Lemon Cream Sauce | Gather and Graze

Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC and line 2 large baking trays with parchment/baking paper.

Lay out one sheet of filo pastry on a clean board or bench top (with a short end closest to you) and using a pastry brush, brush on a light layer of melted butter. Place another sheet of filo on top and once again brush the top lightly with butter. Across the end closest to you, scoop an eighth of the seafood mixture to form a log shape, leaving a section on either side bare. If confused, please see my attempt at a diagram below…

Seafood Filo Bonbons with Lemon Cream Sauce |

Now lift the edge of the filo pastry closest to you and fold it over the mixture. Continue then to roll the pastry right up to the other end. Pinch in the sides to make a bonbon shape and tie the softened chives around either end (as per the photo below). Continue making the other 7 bonbons in the same manner and place on the prepared baking trays. Brush the tops with a little more melted butter.

Seafood Filo Bonbons with Lemon Cream Sauce | Gather and Graze

Slide the trays into the pre-heated oven and bake for approximately 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.

While the bonbons are baking in the oven, prepare the Lemon Cream Sauce so that it’s ready to serve as soon as the bonbons come out of the oven… In a small saucepan, combine the egg yolks, cream, reserved stock and lemon juice. Place over a gentle heat. Warm the mixture, though do not allow it to boil. Gradually add in the butter, piece by piece and stir until the sauce has thickened to a nice consistency. Add in the chopped chives and season well with salt and pepper.

Serve without delay! Place two filo bonbons per person onto a plate with some sauce carefully spooned around them. A fresh green salad (in summer) or some lightly steamed greens (in winter) would be the perfect sides to accompany this dish.

Seafood Filo Bonbons with Lemon Cream Sauce | Gather and Graze

* Very slightly adapted from a recipe in the Australian Women’s Weekly ‘Dinner Party Cookbook No. 2’

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs |

There are some dishes that I hesitate in posting, as I feel that they’re probably not exciting enough for my fellow bloggers and readers who I know cook to such a high level and have their own tried and tested recipes. However, part of the reason for creating this blog is to provide a go-to guide and resource for my two young boys, so that eventually when they leave the nest 😢 (or even before then perhaps… when they feel inspired to cook up something for dinner for their parents! Yes, I did stress that word ‘perhaps’!)… some of their favourites will be there to  find easily.

This is a dish that I cook reasonably regularly and it’s most definitely one that puts a smile on everyone’s faces! It comes from a well-used cookbook called ‘Apples for Jam’ by Tessa Kiros. The only changes I’ve made are slightly increasing the quantity of meat and upping the amount of spices. Though feel free to make your own decisions as to how fragrant you like your meatballs!

Spaghetti and Meatballs | Gather and Graze

For the Meatballs:

  • 50g (Day Old) Crustless White Bread (broken into small pieces)
  • 4 Tablespoons Milk
  • 250g Beef Mince
  • 250g Pork Mince
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Flat-Leaf Parsley (Finely Chopped)
  • ½ Small Red Onion or French Shallot (Coursely Grated)

(Plus 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil for frying the meatballs)

For the Sauce:

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic (Peeled and Smashed a bit)
  • 400g Tin Chopped Tomatoes
  • A few Basil Leaves (Torn)
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 250ml/1 Cup Boiling Water

To serve:

  • 300g Pasta (Spaghetti or Linguine…)
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Begin by making the meatballs… In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread and milk and use fingers to mush it together into something of a paste. Add all other ingredients and once again use hands to mix together until fully combined. Roll into small balls and set aside on a plate until the sauce has been started and you are ready to fry them up.

* Tip: I prefer to place my uncooked meatballs in the fridge for at least half an hour, as they seem to hold their shape a little better when frying.

To make the sauce, place the olive oil and smashed garlic into a medium-sized pot and place over low/medium heat. Heat until the garlic is gently frying and aromatic. Add the tinned tomatoes and basil, along with a grinding of pepper and a pinch of salt. Allow to simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.

Spaghetti and Meatballs |

At this point, start frying the meatballs in the extra oil in a large frying pan. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry until golden brown all over.

Spaghetti and Meatballs |

Now add 250mls (1 Cup) of boiling water to the pot with the sauce and stir combine. Add the cooked meatballs into the sauce and continue to cook on a gentle simmer (uncovered) for another 20-25 minutes, until the sauce has thickened beautifully. Be sure to check for seasoning and adjust if need be.

Have your pasta water boiling and ready to go. Cook the pasta until ‘al dente’, then place into a serving bowl. I like to coat the pasta with a small splash of olive oil (so that the strands don’t all stick together), before piling on top the meatballs and sauce.

Spaghetti and Meatballs |

Serve with some freshly grated parmesan on the side, a crisp green salad and some crusty bread for mopping up the sauce.

Spaghetti and Meatballs |

Dinner was happily eaten outside on this particular evening. A glass of red… or white (as is my preference going into the warmer months) complements this dish rather well too!

Spaghetti and Meatballs |

* Recipe from ‘Apples for Jam’ by Tessa Kiros

Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za’atar and Blood Orange à la Ottolenghi/Tamimi

Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za'atar and Blood Orange à la Ottolenghi/Tamini

The partnership between Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi is one that I find truly inspirational. They both seem to have an intuition for creating beautifully balanced food, that delivers in not only flavour and texture, but visually as well. The fact that their friendship is stronger than politics (one being of Palestinian background and the other Israeli) is also something to be celebrated and admired. Continue reading

Fatteh Bil Lahme | Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas and Yoghurt

Fatteh Bil Lahme | Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas and Yoghurt | Gather and Graze

Slow-cooked Lamb Shanks are one of the ultimate winter comfort foods, in my opinion. I’ve cooked them a number of ways over the years and enjoyed each and every one of them, but today it was a Middle-Eastern flavour I was craving, so decided to improvise and adapt on a range of recipes in a beloved cookbook of mine –  Claudia Roden’s ‘Arabesque’.

‘Fatteh’ / ‘Fatta’ is a general name for a range of dishes that have a layer of toasted flat-bread soaked in stock/sauce at the bottom and a layer of yoghurt on the top. Claudia gives a couple of versions in her book – one with poached chicken and another with stuffed eggplants. All well and good, but surely no match for melt-in-the-mouth lamb shanks!

This is by no means a mid-week, speedily-cooked dinner. It requires a long lazy weekend afternoon of hanging out in the kitchen… though there’s plenty of time once the shanks are on cooking, to read the paper or play boardgames with the kids.

I can’t stress enough how delightful this dish was to sit down to on a winter’s night.

Fatteh Bil Lahme | Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas and Yoghurt | Gather and Graze

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Onion (Thickly Sliced)
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic (Chopped)
  • 4-6 Free-Range Lamb Shanks
  • 2 x 400g Tins Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Allspice
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Pomegranate Molasses
  • 250g/1 Cup Natural Yoghurt
  • 2 Teaspoon(s) Crushed Dried Mint
  • 2 Cloves Garlic (Crushed)
  • 3 Thin Lebanese/Pitta Breads
  • 1 x 400g Tin Chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • Handful of Fresh Mint (Chopped)
  • 40g/4 Tablespoons Pine Nuts

In a large Dutch Oven (or a large deep saucepan with lid), cook the onion over medium heat in the olive oil (with a little salt) until softened. Add the chopped garlic and continue to cook for a minute or two more. Place the lamb shanks into the pot and brown slightly on all sides, before adding the tomatoes, spices, salt and pepper, pomegranate molasses and enough boiling water to just cover the shanks. Cover and simmer for approximately 2 – 2½ hours, until the lamb is practically falling off the bone. Take the lamb shanks from the pan and remove all meat from the bones.

While the lamb is braising, mix together the yoghurt, crushed garlic and dried mint with a pinch of salt and set it aside for later. It is best if this is at room temperature when you are ready to serve.

Toast the lebanese/pitta breads in the oven, or under the grill until crisp and light brown.

In a large serving dish, break up the toasted bread into pieces and scatter them across the bottom of the dish.

Fatteh Bil Lahme | Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas and Yoghurt | Gather and Graze

Spread the chickpeas over the top of the bread and then layer the shredded lamb over the top of this.

Fatteh Bil Lahme | Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas and Yoghurt | Gather and Graze

Scoop a number of ladlefuls of the tomato/onion sauce that the lamb was cooking in to fully coat all of the ingredients beneath.

Fatteh Bil Lahme | Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas and Yoghurt | Gather and Graze

Cover the dish with foil and place into a pre-heated 170°C oven for about 20 minutes until heated through.

While the dish is in the oven, toast the pine nuts carefully in a small frypan until golden. Set aside for the moment.

When you are ready to serve, pour the yoghurt over the top of the dish and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and fresh mint. Serve with plain basmati rice.

Fatteh Bil Lahme | Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas and Yoghurt | Gather and Graze

* Recipe from Claudia Roden’s ‘Arabesque’ Cookbook

Secret Aromatic Lamb Pilaf

Aromatic Lamb Pilaf, Gather and Graze

Do you have any secret family recipes? Ones that are so intrinsically special that you refuse to share them with anyone?

This wonderful Middle Eastern-style rice dish (or at least something rather similar) was presented to us one lovely evening, by friends who had invited our family to dinner. I was in absolute awe of the spices and flavours that came through with each and every mouthful and was quietly desperate to find out the recipe, to be able to cook it again… and again… in the future. This recipe would be an absolute keeper! Initially I thought the refusal to share said-recipe was a little joke (as you do… when dishes are appreciated by guests with such gusto), but alas our hostess was completely serious and only deigned to pass on the names of one or two extra ingredients that weren’t obvious from just looking at or tasting the dish.

So I’ve spent years adapting, researching and playing around in the kitchen trying to replicate what we tasted that evening… and I think it’s pretty close (though possibly only because the original is now very much a distant memory)!

Sharing favourite recipes and ideas is at the heart of Gather and Graze, so I certainly won’t be keeping this one a secret from you. 😉 Enjoy!

Aromatic Lamb Pilaf

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 small Onion (finely chopped)
  • 700g Minced Lamb
  • 1 Tablespoon Ras El Hanout *
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Mint
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • 450g/2 Cups Basmati Rice (rinsed well under cold water)
  • 40g/4 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
  • 40g/½ Cup Dried Barberries * (rehydrated in cold water for 10 mins and drained)
  • Pinch of Saffron Threads (soaked in 1 Tbsp hot water for 10 mins)
  • 2 Tablespoons Pomegranate Molasses *
  • 1 Litre/4 Cups (Heated) Free-Range Chicken Stock
  • Handful of Fresh Mint Leaves (Sliced finely)
  • 35g/4 Tablespoons Roasted Unsalted Pistachio Nuts (Chopped)

In a large heavy-based saucepan, gently sauté the onion in olive oil until softened (about 10 minutes). Raise the heat a little, add the minced lamb and fry until browned. Now stir in the Ras El Hanout, the dried mint and season well with salt and pepper. Add the rice and stir for a minute or two, to coat the grains. Tip in the pine nuts, barberries, saffron threads (along with the water the saffron was soaking in), pomegranate molasses and chicken stock. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer, before covering the pot with a lid. Allow to simmer away gently for about 15 – 20 minutes, until the liquid has all been absorbed and the rice is tender (adding a little more stock or hot water if necessary).

When ready to serve, scatter the top with chopped pistachios and fresh mint. See below for a few ideas on accompaniments to serve alongside the pilaf.

Aromatic Lamb Pilaf, Gather and Graze

Notes on Cooking:

  • Suggested accompaniments for the Lamb Pilaf: Thinly sliced tomatoes and red onion, sprinkled with sumac on top. Chunks of cucumber, tossed with yoghurt, crushed garlic, lemon juice and S&P. Lightly dressed salad of rocket leaves.
  • Ras El Hanout is a classic North African mixed spice, usually containing between 10 – 30 different spices. It’s name means ‘Head of the Shop’ and is usually the very best spice mix to be found in the Souk. Some of the main spices it contains are paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander seed, cardamom seed, turmeric, fennel seed, black peppercorns and allspice.
  • Barberries are a prized Iranian ingredient – known as zereshk in Persian. They add a wonderful tart flavour to meat dishes, salads and sauces and look like little jewels dotted throughout the dish. I found dried barberries here in Australia (through The Essential Ingredient and also noticed that Herbies sells them in small packs). Advice online is to rehydrate them in cold water for approx 10 mins before using, though must say that I didn’t notice much of a change in their texture until they finally went into the hot stock. If you are unable to find barberries, feel free to use currants or sultanas instead. 
  • Pomegranate molasses is a tangy syrup made up of boiled pomegranate juice and can be found in some supermarkets or in specialist Middle-Eastern grocery shops. It adds a beautiful sweet/sour taste when used fairly sparingly, a little like balsamic vinegar in Italian cuisine.

Grilled Fillets of Salmon with Compound Butter

Grilled Salmon, Compound Butter, Gather and Graze

We’re into the early days of summer here in Australia and the cicadas are now in constant song. Announcing to us that predictable warmth is finally here. Their distinctive sound transports my somewhat musing mind all too readily across to the South of France, where memories of their almost deafening din comes part and parcel with walks amongst idyllic coves filled with water of the most beautiful, crystal clarity to luxuriating au bord de la mer with a bottle of rosé and rustic Meditteranean fare. Unsurprisingly, food and wine are never far from my thoughts… The same goes for France.

Les Calanques, France, Gather and Graze

With the South of France being unattainable (and in winter) at present, we will settle for dining al fresco on our back deck, with the much loved barbeque doing a fabulous job of cooking our dinner. I can assure you that fresh fish, cooked to perfection, alongside a chilled glass of wine will taste delicious no matter where you are in the world… though if you close your eyes for a moment and let your mind relax, you just might be able to picture the beautiful little boats with Cassis written across their sterns and hear the clank of petanque boules in the park by the water’s edge.

Cassis, France, Gather and Graze

Petanque, France, Gather and Graze

Grilled Fillets of Salmon with Compound Butter

  • Servings: Enough for a Family of 4
  • Print

  • 2  Large Salmon Fillets (approx 600g in total)
  • Good Quality Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper

Flavoured/Compound Butter

  • 125g Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
  • 1 Clove Garlic (crushed)
  • Handful of Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley (finely chopped)
  • Zest and Juice of ½ a Lemon
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper

Place the salmon into a baking dish and rub a little olive oil, salt and pepper over each fillet and be sure to check that all bones have been removed (a small set of craft pliers is ideal for this purpose). I usually remove the salmon from the fridge about an hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature.

For the Compound Butter,  mix together all ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Roll into a log shape and wrap up in some baking paper/parchment. Place in the fridge, until ready to serve. Any left-over butter can be wrapped up in foil and frozen, ready for next time. I often double the quantity to have a good stash of flavoured butter on hand for adding to all manner of grilled meat and vegetables.

Pre-heat the BBQ (or oven) to 200°C.

Cook, skin-side down, for approximately 15-20 minutes (with the BBQ hood down), until cooked to your liking. Allow a resting period of 5-10 minutes before serving.

Perfect served on a bed of rice (see here for a few tips), with seasonal greens, along with a slice of the compound butter to gently melt away over the top of the salmon.

Cooking Notes:

  • A range of other herbs, spices and flavourings can be added to the butter to suit the meat or vegetable you plan to use this with.
  • I often use Ocean Trout instead of Salmon, depending on which looks best on the day.
  • Lovely with a glass of chilled rose wine!

Oven-Baked Italian Chicken

Oven-Baked Italian Chicken, Gather and Graze

This is one of our favourite family dinners – a dish that everyone finds appealing and that can easily be adapted for seasonal changes and whims. Shown in the photo above is how this meal usually finds it’s way to our table – with the olive oil, Vino Cotto, garlic and juice from tomatoes coming together to form a wonderful, light sauce to spoon over the top. Continue reading

Smoked Trout and Almond Linguine

Smoked Trout and Almond Linguine, Gather and Graze

With the slightly warmer weather enticing us to sit outside through to the early evening, it’s time again to bring out the nibbly platters. A little cheese, a few olives, some cured meats… all the things that go perfectly with a chilled glass of white or rosé! My current favourite is to include a fillet of smoked trout or salmon on the platter, from the ‘Eden Smokehouse’ (their beautiful smoked seafood products are available, I believe, throughout most of NSW and the ACT in Australia). Though I’m sure that in your part of the world, there will be something of a similar nature that will work just as well.

The other evening, I discovered that smoked trout also goes brilliantly tossed through with some pasta, and a few other simple ingredients. A quick, stylish dish, that requires minimal time cooking (something that will be much appreciated as it warms up even further throughout the summer months). The toasted almonds added at the very end, add a wonderful taste and texture to the dish, so be sure to have some on hand.

Smoke Trout and Almond Linguine | Gather and Graze

  • 400g Linguine (or other long pasta)
  • 15g/1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Garlic Cloves (finely sliced)
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon Wholegrain Mustard
  • 250ml/1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • 200g Fillet of Smoked Trout (or Salmon)
  • Handful of Chopped Italian Parsley (and/or Chives)
  • Large Handful of (Toasted) Slivered Almonds

Place a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta.

While you’re waiting for the water to come to the boil, place the cream, lemon zest and mustard into a small mixing bowl. Season with a little sea salt and black pepper, stir to combine and then set aside for the moment.

Flake the smoked trout and also set aside.

When the pasta water has come to the boil, stir in some sea salt and add the pasta, cooking until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, place a frypan over low/medium heat. Add the butter to the pan and when the butter has stopped foaming, add the garlic and fry gently for a couple of minutes. Now stir in the cream mixture and allow to simmer gently for about 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in the lemon juice and the flaked smoked trout and continue to cook for another minute or two, until the trout is warmed through. Check for seasoning and adjust with sea salt, pepper or lemon juice if required.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to the sauce, stirring gently to coat each strand.

Place into bowls or a serving dish and top with the fresh, chopped herbs and toasted almonds. Serve immediately.

Perfect with a glass of white wine and a loaf of crusty Italian bread on the side.

Smoked Trout and Almond Linguine, Gather and Graze

Pasta con Pollo e Funghi

Pasta Pollo Funghi | Chicken and Mushroom Pasta | Gather and Graze

‘Gather and Graze’ is not about preparing elaborate, complicated meals – that was never my intention. Mostly it’s about sharing food, recipes and ideas that bring both happiness and nourishment to our own small family. It is also published in the unwavering hope that it will reach those people teetering on the verge of discovering how wonderfully simple cooking can be… Continue reading

Comforting Chicken and Orzo Soup

Chicken Orzo Soup Gather and Graze

A few weeks ago when my children and I were unwell, I went searching for the ultimate in health-promoting, comforting and most importantly… delicious-tasting soups. It was a given that it had to be based around chicken, but when I came across this rather lovely recipe featuring leeks, garlic, lemon and a little pasta, I knew that I’d found exactly what I was looking for! It is a recipe that I’ve adapted (ever so slightly) from one of my favourite Neil Perry cookbooks, called ‘The Food I Love’.

I’m absolutely kicking myself that I didn’t discover this soup years ago… all those years that have passed when we could have been indulging and restoring ourselves through the colder months of the year. Therefore, starting immediately is our belated, but now completely embraced tradition of chicken soup to warm the body and soul.

Chicken & Orzo Soup | Gather and Graze

  • 300g Free-Range Chicken Breast(s)
  • 8 Peppercorns/1 Star Anise/1 Bay Leaf
  • 100g Orzo/Risoni Pasta (or any other small pasta shape)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Leeks (washed and sliced finely)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 Litre Good Quality Chicken Stock
  • Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese to serve (optional)
  • A Handful of Chopped Flat-Leaf Parsley (optional)

The first two steps of this recipe can be done well ahead of time if you like and then placed in the fridge until you’re ready to start cooking the leeks/garlic.

Fill a medium-sized saucepan with water and add the peppercorns, star anise, bay leaf (or any other herbs, spices or aromatics that you desire). Bring to the boil and then turn off the heat completely. Place your chicken breast(s) into the pot with the poaching liquid and leave for about 2 hours. Remove to a bowl to cool, before shredding.

While the chicken is poaching, place a small saucepan filled with water on the stove and once again, bring to a rolling boil. Add some sea salt and then the orzo pasta, giving a quick stir to make sure none is stuck together and then cook until al dente (tender, but with a slight bite). When ready, drain the orzo and rinse gently with cold water. Set aside for later.

About half an hour before you want to serve dinner, place a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, along with the chopped leeks, garlic and a little sea salt. Allow to sweat for about 10 minutes or so, until the leek has softened. Then add the chicken stock, lemon zest and juice (depending on the size and type of lemon, you may wish to add half of the juice at first and then taste to see if more is required) and simmer for another 10 minutes.

At this point it’s up to you to decide whether to puree the soup or not. With one of my children averse to the sight of cooked vegetables in any soups or stews, I decided that a couple of minutes of whizzing the soup with a stick blender was the only way that he might enjoy it. It worked!

Now add the shredded chicken and orzo into the soup and stir gently to combine. When the chicken and orzo are warmed through, the soup is ready to serve.

This soup is lovely as it is, or perfect with some finely-grated parmesan cheese and some chopped flat-leaf parsley scattered on top… with some crusty bread on the side too!

Chicken Orzo Soup Gather and Graze

* Recipe slightly adapted from Neil Perry’s ‘The Food I Love’ cookbook

My kind of Fast-Food: Home-Cooked Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara Gather and Graze

On nights like tonight, after baking batches of muffins and cookies for children’s end of term parties at school tomorrow, a quick, easy pasta dish for dinner was all I had time for. I love that this recipe is cooked in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta. It’s always a hit with the kids, especially when served with a little garlic bread on the side!

There are so many fabulous variations of Pasta Carbonara out there, but I still felt keen to document and share this particular version – it’s the one we’ve been cooking for years now and we still haven’t tired of it.

A quick post for a quick pasta!

Pasta Carbonara

  • Servings: 3-4 (enough for our family…)
  • Print

  • 300g (Dried) Pasta
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 200g Diced Speck (or Bacon)
  • ¼ cup White Wine
  • 2 Free-Range Egg Yolks
  • 100mls Pouring Cream
  • A large handful of Finely Grated Parmesan (or Grana Padano) Cheese
  • A sprinkling of Freshly Ground Nutmeg
  • A little Sea Salt and Pepper

Place a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a rolling boil. In a book I’m currently reading, ‘In Search of Total Perfection’, Heston Blumenthal recommends about 1 litre of water for every 100g of pasta.

While the water is coming to the boil, place the egg yolks, cream, parmesan, nutmeg and seasonings into a small mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Set this bowl aside for later on.

Once the water is boiling, add some salt (another Heston tip: add 10g of salt for every 100g of pasta) and give a quick stir before throwing in the pasta. Stir again gently to make sure none of the pasta is sticking together.

In a medium-sized frying pan over med-high heat, pour in the olive oil and when hot, add the speck. Fry until nice and golden. Turn the heat down a little and add the white wine, stirring to lift any little bits of speck stuck to the bottom of the pan. Allow the wine to simmer for a few minutes until syrupy and then turn off the heat.

Keep an eye on the pasta and strain it in a colander as soon as ‘al dente’ (tender, but with a slight bite). Add the drained pasta directly into the frying pan and toss briefly in the oil and speck until all of the pasta is coated. Remove the pan from the stove (so that the sauce doesn’t curdle from the eggs coming in to contact with too much heat) and stir in the egg/cream mixture. The sauce will thicken slightly with this gentle stirring. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve immediately.

Cooking Notes:

  • If you can find good quality Speck where you live, please give it a try! It has a slightly smoky flavour and a touch of juniper berry, that is really wonderful in this dish.

Butterflied Lamb with Yoghurt Dressing

Butterflied Lamb Yoghurt Dressing | Gather and Graze

A completely unexpected delight which has stemmed from creating this little blog has been opening up my ‘WordPress Reader’ each morning to discover what my newly-found blogging friends from around the world have been creating in their own kitchens.  Their musings, recipes and photos are at once delicious and provide more inspiration and encouragement than they can possibly imagine.  For this, I thank you all dearly!  You so frequently bring a smile to my face, illuminate light bulbs in my mind and bring calm to my heart in the knowledge that I’m not alone in this passion for all things food related.  It’s like discovering a family out there, that I never new I had!

Each and every day, I think about how best to feed my own family – my two children are no longer toddlers, not quite teenagers, but certainly young enough to have determined palates that on the odd occasion will knock a dish down with a single bite.  I do encourage them regularly to try new dishes and for the most part with considerable success, but I am forced to realise that my current reality of kitchen capers is not going to be as inspiring in it’s use of ingredients as I would necessarily like.  Progress is made slowly, but surely… and for that I must, for the time being, be grateful.  All in good time…

If I can encourage even a small number of families out there to give more thought as to how they nourish their children, I’ll be accomplishing what I set out to do…  It’s hard not to become despondent at times when you see what others are placing into their supermarket trolleys or see the number of people queuing up for the drive-through of fast food outlets.  I have a vivid and still quite sickening picture in my head of watching a toddler sit down, diagonally across from me, on a 9am internal flight within the USA and be handed a cheese-burger to eat (for his breakfast!?).  Apart from being offended by the unnatural smell wafting through the cabin at that time of morning, I also felt a deep sense of anger and incomprehension towards the mother – she was allowing her poor innocent child to grow up believing this to be normal.  I do realise that this child at least had something going into his stomach, which may not be a daily certainty for all the children of the world; but if getting up a little earlier to have breakfast at home wasn’t an option, perhaps a piece of fresh fruit or a granola/muesli bar from one of the other airport food outlets might have been a wiser choice.       

Cooking at home and from scratch needn’t be complicated, time-consuming or expensive. With a little forward-planning and an understanding of which ingredients work well together, we can move towards a much healthier and flavour-rich way of eating.  Our children deserve it…  We also owe it to ourselves…

Our family enjoyed the following dish over the weekend just gone – I was proud of our eldest child who drizzled some of the yoghurt dressing over his lamb (hooray!), though the youngest opted for some tomato sauce instead (thankfully not so much for the lamb, but for the roasted kipfler potatoes that he’s still not quite sure if he likes…)  C’est la vie!

Butterflied Lamb with Yoghurt Dressing

  • 1 Boneless/Butterflied Leg of Lamb
  • ¼ cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic (crushed)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons each of Fresh Rosemary and Thyme
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper

In a small mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic and herbs.  Season the lamb generously on both sides with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then rub all over with the marinade. Cover and place in the fridge for at least a few hours or if possible overnight.

Herbs | Gather and Graze

Greek Lamb | Gather and Graze

If, like me, you prefer to bring the lamb to room temperature before cooking, remove from the fridge approximately an hour in advance of when you wish to commence cooking.

Pre-heat the barbecue to about 220°C.  Grill the lamb for a few minutes on each side until nicely coloured, then turn down the heat to 180°C and continue cooking for another 15 – 20 minutes (depending on the size of your lamb), or until cooked to your liking.

Rest the meat for approximately 10 minutes, before slicing.

Serve with Yoghurt Dressing, roasted potatoes/veggies and some lightly-steamed greens.  A fresh salad and crusty bread would also be wonderful if you’re lucky enough to be heading into summer!

For the Yoghurt Dressing:

  • 250g/1 cup Full-Fat Greek Yoghurt
  • ½ cup Fresh Mint (Finely Chopped)
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper (to taste)

Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.  Cover and place in the fridge for an hour or two before serving to allow all the wonderful flavours to infuse the yoghurt.

Yoghurt Dressing | Gather and Graze

Butterflied Lamb Yoghurt Dressing | Gather and GrazeCooking Notes:

  • Other cuts of lamb will work equally well in this recipe – just be sure to adjust the cooking time to the thickness and cut of your meat.
  • The choice of herbs is interchangeable as well – though I find that when grilling on the barbecue – thyme and rosemary (along with the garlic) combine so incredibly well with lamb.