Monday, January 09, 2012


I know I should be posting something very healthy in the spirit of New Year, when we’re all promising ourselves we’ll eat better, go to the gym more... 
So maybe I'll do that next week. Instead I’m including a chocolate cake in the first two weeks of January (avert your eyes if this bothers you). This is a meal I've cooked on Boxing Day for the past two years. Incredibly easy, it's a standby option all summer long when I can't think what else to serve. The salad components and the salsa can be made a day in advance. And marinating the lamb the night before also takes a great deal of hassle out of the process. Get your butcher to butterfly a 2.5kg-3kg leg of lamb. Marinate with: 1 tbsp of sea salt, 1/2 a cup of balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup olive oil stirred together, and pepper.
Rub with the salt and then the vinegar/oil mix and season with ground pepper and place in the fridge overnight.
Beetroot, Pumpkin and Goat’s Cheese Salad
(Serves 7-8)
4 large beetroot
500g butternut pumpkin, cut into bit size pieces
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup walnut halves
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
A couple of bunches of wild rocket (enough to scatter over the bottom of a platter)
approx 160g goat’s cheese 
sea salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180c. Slice off the ends of the beetroot and place unpeeled in a roasting tin with 1 cup of water. Cover with foil and bake for an hour or until a knife passes through easily. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Place the pumpkin on a baking tray and drizzle with 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Toss with your hands until coated, and roast for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through and golden.
Peel the skins off the beetroot - they should come away easily. Slice in to eighths or sixteenths, depending on their size. 
Layer a platter with rocket and scatter the beetroot, pumpkin and walnuts evenly. Mix the vinegar, 1 tbsp of olive oil and mustard seeds and whisk or stir. Toss the salad with the dressing and season. Crumble the goat’s cheese over the top and serve.

Tomato, Almond and Chilli Salsa
Based on Neil Perry’s recipe in The Food I Love

6 garlic cloves
2 tsp sea salt
3 long red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
2/3 cup of slivered almonds toasted
4 large vine ripened tomatoes deseeded and diced
4 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
a splash of red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
ground pepper
Pound the garlic with half of the sea salt in a mortar with a pestle, followed by the chilli. Add the toasted almonds and pound until crushed, then add the tomato and remaining sea salt and gently crush. Add the parsley, red wine vinegar, and stir through. Add the olive oil and pepper. (Makes 3 cups.)

Butterflied Lamb
The next day, preheat the oven to 200C*. Add the lamb, skin side down on a roasting rack. Cook for 20 minutes and then turn over and cook for another 20 minutes. Depending on your oven, the lamb should be pink, just cooked through and ready to rest for 15 minutes before carving up.
* You can do this on a hot bbq, but I refer you to Neil Perry’s The Food I Love for that method.
Serve everything buffet style. We had this with baked potatoes, steamed broccolini with a squeeze of lemon, and salad leaves; radicchio and endive, tossed with a little red wine vinegar and olive oil, and scatter with parsley and dill. 

No fuss Chocolate Cake
1 cup of self raising flour
pinch of salt
2 tbsp Dutch cocoa
1 cup of caster sugar
1/2 cup of milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
100g unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 180C. Sift the flour and cocoa together. Add sifted caster sugar and salt. Throw in milk, eggs and vanilla essence. Beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Then melt the butter. Slowly add the butter as you go, beating for another 2 minutes until the batter is light and fluffy.
Grease a 20cm diameter spring-form cake tin. Pour the batter in, and bake for 20-30 minutes. Test with a skewer.
Dust with icing sugar, and decorate as you wish. Serve hot or cold, with cream or ice cream. 

Wishing you all a peaceful and successful 2012.