Category Archives: Starters

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Tangy Chicken Nibbles with Blue Cheese Dip

A great starter and one that I have been making for years and love with a passion. If blue cheese is not something you like use a fine grated strong cheese in its place.  

Ingredients

1kg chicken wings or chicken nibbles

3 tsp paprikaTangy-Chicken-Wings-web

2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

1 tsp sea salt

½ tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

Tangy Chicken Wing Sauce

1 tbsp of good olive oil

5 tbsp tomato sauce of choice

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp Tabasco

1 teasp. Dijon style mustard

Juice of ½ a lemon

Blue Cheese Dip

75g blue cheese, mashed

100ml Greek style natural yoghurt

Cut the wing tips off each chicken wing and discard.  Then cut each wing in half through the main joint.  In a large bowl mix together the paprika, black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper and fresh thyme.  Add in the chicken wings and toss until coated the spices.

Heat the oven to 200˚C (400˚F).

Mix together the tomato sauce, oil, honey, Tabasco, mustard and lemon juice.

Cover and rest for 30 minutes and then add the sauce and mix well to coat evenly.

Line a large roasting tin with tin foil then spread the wings over the foil.  Place in the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes, turning the wings half way through.

Mix the blue cheese into the yoghurt and serve with the wings, celery sticks and a green salad.

Scallops and Mushrooms with Passion Fruit Vinaigrette

scallops-mushrooms-2-webScallops and Mushrooms with Passion Fruit Vinaigrette served on Parsnip Purée.

Combined recipes serves 4 as a starter.

This is a wonderful time of the year, harvest season and New Zealand grown passion fruit are one of my loved produce.

The first thing we have to make is the passion fruit vinaigrette as it develops while its resting.

If you like you can use pulp from whole passion fruits with the pips in for added crunch and texture. I like the vinaigrette this way. If you don’t them, the seeds then place the pulp from the fruit in a fine sieve over a bowl and with the back of  teaspoon pass the pulp through the sieve into the bowl.

Passion Fruit Vinaigrette

Ingredients

3/4 cup passion fruit juice, strained, no seeds or with seeds as above.
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Zest from one lime
1/3 runny honey
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme. Lemon thyme is great
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 cup olive oil

Method

Mix passion fruit juice, mustard, honey, zest, vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper in a blender or whisk briskly. If you are including the seeds whisk only. Do not combine in a blender.

Slowly drizzle in the olive oil whisking until all of the oil has been added and the ingredients have emulsified, come together.

Taste for seasoning and adjust as required. 

Parsnip Puree

This can be made just before the scallops. Its a classic and well worth the energy to prepare as a bed for the final dish.

Ingredients 

200 g parsnip, finely sliced
300 ml full cream milk
1 bay leaf
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method 

In a medium sized pot over a medium heat add the milk, parsnip and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. When the parsnip is cooked, about ten minutes transfer parsnip and half the milk into a blender, pulse a few time, season with sea salt & freshly ground pepper, then add extra virgin olive oil and pulse. Leave to rest in warm place. 

Scallops with Mushrooms 

12 large or 16 small scallops
160 g chanterelle  or small brown button mushrooms
3 tsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup Passion Fruit Vinaigrette 

Rinse the scallops and dry them thoroughly. Place them between two layers of paper towels, pat dry, and repeat with fresh towels. It’s very important to make sure the scallops are completly dry so when they hit the heat they will caramelise and develop great colour. If they are too damp they will poach in the oil and butter. Set aside. 

Brush the mushrooms with a pastry brush to remove any earthy bits that may be clinging to them. This is the best way to clean them, for they will retain all of their earthy flavour.  

Delicately trim off the earthy bottoms off the mushroom stems, retaining as much of each mushroom as possible. Slice the largest mushrooms in half. 

Heat 1 tsp of olive oil on a medium high heat in a large,  heavy-bottomed skillet or frypan. Add the mushrooms and sauté over high heat, stirring very gently. Cook for about 3 minutes until they begin to release their juices. Add a pinch of salt and grind in some black pepper, stir and set aside in a warm bowl with all the juices from the skillet. Give the skillet a quick wipe, no need to wash. 

Assemble the minced garlic and chopped parsley on a small plate next to the stove.

Heat the remaining 2 tsp of olive oil in the heavy-bottomed frying pan. When it;s hot but not smoking add the butter. Let it melt, combine with the oil and then add the scallops.  

Allow the scallops to sear over high heat for one minute, not much longer. Do not disturb them while they are cooking as we want them to develop wonderful colour.

Flip them over after 1 minute, they should have a nice golden brown colour on the side tat was on the heat. Cook the same was for one minute. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds to allow the garlic to release a sweet flavour. We don’t want to cook the garlic on heat for too long.

Add the cooked mushrooms and allow them to heat through for another minute. Turn off the heat and.

Add the chopped parsley and Passion Fruit Vinaigrette and stir to combine, gently. We want to ensure the vinaigrette coats all of the ingredients but not stiring it to a point where the mushrooms break apart.
On warmed plates spread a heaped tbsp of the still warm parsnip purée. Arrange portions of the scallops on top of the parsnip purée. When all of the plates are prepared spread and drizzle the rest of the mushrooms and juices over the plates.

Serve immediately, accompanied by a side salad of diced fresh tomatoes and mixed salad greens that have been seasoned with some fresh chopped basil and olive oil.

Mixed Seafood Salad with Avocado Lime Dressing

Seafood-Salad-Avocado-webIngredients 

Serves 2 

4 raw scallops, patted very dry

4 large cooked shrimps, tail on

4 cooked mussels

Salt and fresh ground pepper

1-2 tbsp oil, I use olive oil 

1 tomato sliced in quarters with pulp/seeds removed and sliced into small cubes, divided

1 small cucumber sliced and diced into small cubes, divided 

Dressing 

Makes 2 serves 

1 ripe avocado
2 tbsp fresh lime juice

2 – 3 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil

1/2 tsp minced garlic

½ tsp ground cumin.

 

Method 

Make the dressing/base by mashing up 1 ripe avocado and then add the rest of the dressing ingredients and whisk till smooth. You don’t want it too runny. 

Heat some oil in a skillet over medium high heat and add the scallops, cook for 1 minute then turn. Add the cooked shrimps and mussels, cook for 1 minute, turning once. Remove from the heat and lightly season with salt and pepper. 

On two warm plates place 1 tbsp of the avocado dressing in the centre of each and with the back of the teaspoon flatten it out into a small circle.

On one side of the circle place the divided cucumber and tomato then arrange the seafood over the place dressing and serve straight away.

Easy Chicken Liver Pate

Chic-Liver-Pate-1-webMaking pâté sounds intimidating, but it’s honestly one of the quickest and easiest restaurant dishes to make at home and you can serve this fancy treat without breaking the bank. Plate it up on tasting spoons for smaller portions with pickled red onions and thyme leaves to garnish. 

I used Bostock’s Organic Free Range Chicken in this recipe and what wonderful flavour. 

Ingredients 

100g (8 oz) butter

1 cup of milk

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped

400g (1 lb.) chicken livers, trimmed and cut in half

1/4 cup of Madeira or Sherry

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 bay leaf 

Method 

Remove and discard any sinew or unpleasant-looking parts. In a bowl, soak the livers in the milk for 2 hours. Drain well. 

Melt 100g (4 oz) or half of the butter in a pan over a medium heat, then add the onion and fry until softened, but not colored. 

Add the garlic, bay leaf, thyme and chicken livers and fry the livers until golden-brown all over and cooked through, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Add the Madeira to the pan and boil until reduced to a couple of tablespoons. Remove the bay leaf and place the liver mixture and 5og (2 oz) of the remaining butter into a food processor and blend until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Chic-Liver-Pate-2-web

Place the puree into six 100g (4-oz) ramekins or 1 serving terrine and smooth the top. Melt the remaining butter and pour on top of each ramekin or serving terrine, then refrigerate until set. (Approximately 30 to 40 minutes)

Honey Lemon Glazed Chicken Thighs

Chicken-thigh-honey-webServes 4 

Ingredients  

4 boneless in chicken thighs, skin on 

1/2 cup honey

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 cloves of garlic minced

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp Dijon mustard 

Method  

Combine all of the ingredients except the chicken in a small pot over a low heat and stir until its warm and well combined. Do not boil. 

Once combined remove from the heat and rest for a few minutes. 

Place the chicken thighs in a small baking dish and brush with the slightly warm baste on all sides. Rest for 5 minutes and baste again. Pour any of the baste that is left over the thighs, cover and place in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. 

Remove from the fridge 20 minutes before cooking. 

Pre-heat oven to 170 C. 

Cook covered in the oven for 20 minutes and then baste with the juices in the dish and cook for another 10 minutes uncovered. 

Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes. Slice each thigh and place on a warm plate. Drizzle the liquid over each thigh and serve with your choice of seasonal fresh sides. 

The chicken can also be serve cooled on fresh salad greens.

Canter Valley Turkey Stuffed Eggplant

stuffed-eplant-1Eggplant, well what can I say, I love it. In Sicily its right up at the top of the list of vegetables that are eaten. This recipe is great as a Sunday brunch with salad or as a side when you are doing a BBQ. 

Ingredients 

Serves 8 

4 eggplants

2 cups shredded cold turkey meat
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
6 tbsp freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
4 tbsp ricotta cheese
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 egg, separated
1/4  tsp each of dried rosemary,
thyme and oregano
2 tbsp chopped oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup chicken stock 

Method 

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C, (390 F). 

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, leaving the stems attached. Score the flesh in a criss cross fashion out 5mm deep with a sharp knife, making sure you do not cut through the skin. Rub the cut surfaces with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. 

Set the eggplant halves, cut-side-down, on paper towels and allow moisture to drain for 15 minutes. Eggplant has quite a lot of moisture in it and doing this removes some of it. 

Brush the cut surfaces of the eggplant halves with the olive oil and place them, cut-side-down on baking paper on a large flat tray and bake for 15 minutes. The eggplants will not cook completely through, the skin and flesh will just be softened. Cool for 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C (400 F). 

With a tablespoon gently scoop the pulp from the partially cooked eggplants leaving about 5mm of flesh on the skins. Set the skin shells aside for later use. 

Place the flesh in a food processor and add 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano cheese, the ricotta cheese, the remaining salt, pepper, egg yolk, tomato paste, dried rosemary, thyme, oregano, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. Process lightly by pulsing until the ingredients are just mixed, about 30 seconds. 

Mix in the cold turkey with a spoon them whip the egg white in a small bowl with a hand mixer or whisk until stiff. Fold into the eggplant mixture with a rubber spatula. 

Fill the eggplant skins with the mixture, mounding it slightly. 

Place in a baking dish large enough to hold the 8 halves and pour the chicken stock around them. Sprinkle the stuffed eggplant halves with the remaining Parmigiano cheese and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. 

Grate a little Parmigiano cheese over each half and cool for 5 minutes and then serve with a fresh seasonal green salad of your choice.

Canter Valley Turkey Meatballs With Sicilian Sauce

cheese-meatballsIngredients  

400g (1lb) Canter Valley Turkey mince
½ onion chopped finely
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs, gluten free if required
1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
2 tbsp grated carrot
1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 -3 tbsp olive or coconut oil
200g (1/2lb) mozzarella, the dryer the better, diced into small chunks  

Sauce  

1 400g (12oz) can diced Italian tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup stock (broth)
1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme
Salt and pepper to season  

½ cup chopped Italian parsley 

Method 

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the meatballs except the oil. Using your hands, mix throughout, but gently.  I use my thumb when I am mixing as it allows me to push the ingredients into the mix to make sure its all mixed evenly.  

Lightly oil the palms of the hands, and shape into medium sized, 3-4 cm meatballs.  Push back any mozzarella pieces that poke through the meat – they can melt and burn.  

Heat a medium sized frying pan large enough to hold the meatballs.  If this is not available, work in batches.  Sauté meatballs over medium-high heat, turning as you cook, to brown all sides.  When browned, lower heat and cook, covered, for ten minutes turning frequently. Remove from the heat, leave the meatballs in the pan and set aside. 

Sauce  

In a pot over a medium-high heat combine all the ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and reduce be half. Once reduced pour over the meat balls and combine to coat the meat all over. Place over heat and simmer for ten minutes, turning often. 

Serve the meatballs over rice or pasta and top with the remaining sauce and garnished with parsley.

Grilled Honey Mustard Turkey Skewers

Turkey-Breast-Skewer-webSkewers are a great way to serve a snack, brunch or a meal. The skewers can be cooked and then served in many different ways. 

As they are, in a wrap, as a topping for a fresh salad and the options go on.

 Ingredients

1kg Canter Valley Turkey Breast diced into 25mm (1 inch) cubes
1/2 cup olive oil
5 tbsp honey
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
juice of 1 lemon
1tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

 Method

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients well except the turkey. Rest for 30 minutes. 

Add the cubed turkey and combine well so the cubes are evenly coater and allow the turkey to marinade, covered for 2-4 hours in the fridge. Stir once or twice. 

While the turkey is resting in the fridge soak wooden skewers in water for 1-2 hours so that they don’t burn when you cook the turkey. 

Remove the turkey from the fridge 30 minutes before you want to cook it. 

Thread the turkey cubes onto the skewers and place on a baking tray lined with foil. 

Pre-heat your oven grill (broiler) or BBQ grill on high. 

Brush some more marinade over and place them under a hot oven grill or on the BBQ. Cook for about 5-6 minutes per side. Baste once with the marinade before turning over. Baste them again once you’ve turned them over and then once more before taking them out. 

Ensure that the turkey is cooked all the way through and that they are sticky and golden. 

Serve as they are with a salad on the side or strip them off the skewers and top them on a salad. You can also serve them in a wrap with your choice of salad ingredients.

Easy Sweet Potato Frattata

frittata-sweet-webIngredients 

6 eggs

1 – 1/2 cups grass fed cows milk

100g (3oz) chedder style cheese, grated

3 strips of streaky smoked bacon, diced

200g (6oz) of sweet potato, peeled and chopped

few handfuls of spinach, about 1 cup, washed and patted dry

2 tsp fresh thyme, lightly chopped

Salt and Pepper to season

2 tbsp Olive or coconut oil 

Method 

Preheat oven to 180C (350F) 

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and milk and season with salt and black pepper. 

Over a medium heat add oil to a heavy, oven safe skillet and add the bacon and sweet potato. Lightly fry until sweet potato pieces are slightly tender and golden and bacon is cooked. 

Reduce the heat, add the spinach and thyme and cook for a further 3 minutes until spinach is slightly wilted. 

Pour egg mixture over top and then sprinkle with the grated cheese. 

Bake until the mixture is set and the cheese has melted and is golden, about 20 minutes. 

Serve with a side salad.

Easy Chicken Bites

Chick-bites-webChicken breast seasoned with sage and Italian seasoning, rolled in prosciutto, then skewered.

Makes about 30-36 

Ingredients 

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
12 strips prosciutto or streaky bacon
120g (4oz) cream cheese, room temperature
6 basil leaves, chopped

1 tbsp fresh thyme, leaves removed from the stalk and chopped
3 parsley sprigs, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced 

Method 

Preheat your oven to 175C (350F)

In a medium bowl mix together your whipped cream cheese, thyme, basil, parsley, salt, pepper and garlic.

Spread the cream cheese mixture on each piece of bacon and then cut into thirds. Then wrap 1 piece of chicken with the piece of bacon. It will only wrap around one time, secure with a skewer.

Place on a flat baking tray lined with parchment paper, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the bacon is crispy and the chicken is cooked through.

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