Linguine with stinging nettles and chorizo

linguine with stinging nettles and chorizo on a plate

Market ingredient: Stinging nettles
Difficulty: The dish itself is REALLY easy, but handling the nettles can be troublesome
Deliciousness: Simple flavours
Did The Beard like it? “If I didn’t know they were stinging nettles, I’d have thought it was spinach.

I was really excited this week. I was on to a jackpot of an ingredient. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that the intention of this blog was to push myself to cook with ingredients that I’ve never used before or do so rarely. It’s not often that you actually come across an ingredient that you’ve literally never used or never tried and this was one of those weeks. Not only was I shocked that someone was actually selling stinging nettles, but there were in fact 2 stalls selling them. Radtown.

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Moussaka

Baked moussaka and red cabbage salad

Market ingredient: Eggplants
Difficulty: Fairly easy – can just take some time
Deliciousness: Lovely
Did The Beard’s friend like it? “Delightful”

As the winter seems to draw to a close (although whether we actually had a winter this year is somewhat debatable), I felt that it was only appropriate to try and bust out some final heart-warming and cosy dishes. Moussaka is something that I’ve always thought about cooking but, for some reason, never have. It’s a deliciously comforting dish most commonly associated with Greek cuisine. Although word on the street is that it’s actually Phoenician in origin, but I’ll let the Lebanese and Greeks fight it out for ownership titles on this one.

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Chinese braised beef cheeks

chinese braised beef cheeks

Market ingredient: Linga Longa Beef Cheeks
Difficulty: Requires 10 hrs of cooking time
Deliciousness: Intensely rich
Did The Beard like it? “I can feel it making me fat”.

It’s nice to find something at Eveleigh Markets again that I’ve never actually cooked before. The amazing butcher from Linga Longa Farm (the same guy that does those amazing Cattleman’s cut of beef) had some incredible looking beef cheeks. I LOVE this cut of meat when out at restaurants: so rich and intense, full of meaty meaty flavour.

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Roast chicken with Pernod & oranges

tray of roast chicken

Market ingredient: Thirlmere free-range chicken
Difficulty: Such an easy roast
Deliciousness: OOOOO yeah
Did The Beard like it? Almost as good as Mum’s (seems to be a reoccuring theme here?)

You know why I love middle eastern cooking? Actually, there are numerous reasons, from the one-pot-cooking of tagines and stews, to the heady combinations of spices, to the use of fruit in savoury dishes. So many dates, plums, prunes, figs and citrus. And then there’s the use of aniseed flavours. Delicious, delicious aniseed. Fennel, fennel seeds, aniseed tea (try it). And then there is arak. For the uninitiated, arak is an intensely aniseed flavoured liquor that The Beard’s family friends and relos used make. And sweet baby jesus, this stuff is intense. Mental note to self – you’re supposed to drink it watered down. Not as a straight shot. Dad and I learnt the hard way when The Beard rocked up to my parent’s place with a 2L Southern Comfort flagon filled with the stuff. But that’s another story…

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BBQ lemon thyme scotch fillet

bbq lemon thyme scotch fillet

Market ingredient: Scotch fillet
Difficulty: SO easy
Deliciousness: Zingy
Did The Beard like it? It would have been awesome if he hadn’t over-cooked the steak 😉

A super quick one this week. A way to make a mid-week steak dinner just a little fancier. This week’s market purchase was some delicious thick-cut scotch fillet. I’d never seen these cuts before, but they’re called a Cattleman’s Cut – basically scotch fillet with the bone still attached. Beautifully marbled and perfect for BBQing.

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BBQ whole snapper with fennel, lemon & tarragon

whole stuffed snapper ready to be barbequed

Market ingredient: Snapper
Difficulty: REALLY REALLY simple
Deliciousness: YUM
Did The Beard like it? Loved it.

Since returning from travels, I have had cravings for seafood. Between Tunisia, Sicily and Malta, The Beard and I consumed more seafood than I think I have in my entire life. At any of the coastal cities and villages of these places, you could get such fresh & beautiful fish (and generally for ridiculously cheap prices as well) and all I could think of for the past week was the delicious simplicity of the way the nations of the med cook their seafood. Unfortunately, there are no fishmongers at Eveleigh, so we had to make 2 markets trips yesterday; one to Eveleigh and one to Sydney Fish Market.

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Spiced rice-stuffed marrows

hollowed marrows stuffed with rice

Market ingredient: Marrows
Difficulty: Easy, just needed to cook longer
Deliciousness: OK
Did The Beard like it? Meh

Sometimes you have a bit of a dud week. Where what you think is going to be an awesome dish turns out to be kind of average. And this was that week. I ummed and ahhed about whether to even write this post, but I figured that everyone has their off week, right? Everything I cook can’t always be awesome 😉

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Lemongrass & ginger lamb ribs

Lemongrass & ginger lamb ribs on a white plate

Market ingredient: Lamb ribs
Difficulty: SUPER easy
Deliciousness: Nice, but really rich
Did The Beard like it? “Awesome”

Being back at Eveleigh Markets and back in the kitchen post-holiday has been somewhat therapeutic. As much as I adore eating out, it gets a little tiring after a while, when all you feel like is a salad, or some sort of delicious home-cooked meal. Cruising around the med, the cuisine that I did miss was SE Asian. The flavours are so crisp and fresh, and I just longed for them after eating mound of couscous after mound of couscous, followed by pizza, pasta then a week full of pastizzis (and yes, I can hear the collective cry of “1st world problems”). Lamb is not something I tend to mix with Vietnamese-esque flavours and I’m not really sure why. I have always stuck with beef or pork, but seeing these huge racks of lamb ribs, it felt like a good opportunity to give it a burl.

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Beef, mushroom & spinach lasagne

beef, mushroom and spinach lasagne

Market ingredient: Pasta Gallery Fresh Lasagne sheets (although the mushies, spinach and basil were also from the markets)
Difficulty: Easy but bechamel takes a lot of love
Deliciousness: Hearty
Did The Beard like it? It’s apparently his favourite lasagne (just don’t tell his Mum)

So, it’s a bit of an excited blog post for 2 reasons:

  1. I’ve finally opened up some fantastic box lights that were given to me by Stevie-from-across-the-road’s wonderful wife-to-be, the divine Miss H. Miss H is a spectacular designer and photographer. Not only does she take better photos of food than I could ever hope to take (my iphone isn’t really helping my cause much either) but she is also ridiculously generous. When she told me she had two box lights just sitting under her desk at work and they were mine if I wanted them, I was tres excited. So this is my first crack at banishing yellow-lit food from this blog.
  2. The Beard and I are in the middle of planning a big holiday to North Africa / Sicily / Malta. Those that know me know that I’m a bit of an Italian-want-to-be and have a bit of a romantic notion of that country. I’ve just spent the entire weekend reading up on Sicily, where we are going to be spending 2 out of the 4 weeks away. After picking up some of Pasta Gallery’s Fresh Lasagne sheets this week, it seemed only appropriate that we finish the weekend out with some hearty Italian fare.

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Buffalo osso buco

Buffalo osso buco served with mashed potato

Market ingredient: Buffalo shin
Difficulty: Simple, but cooking takes a while
Deliciousness: Yummo
Did The Beard like it? “Good comfort food, although I wouldn’t have known it was Buffalo if you didn’t tell me.”

I get really excited when I discover a new stall at Eveleigh. Really, really excited. I know my way around the market like the back of my hand; where each grower or farmer sets up stall, who to go to for my coffee, who has the best radishes and which is my preferred florist. However, about a month ago I completely flipped out when I discovered the buffalo mozzarella of AusBuff Stuff. These guys are such lovely people and rear buffalo mainly for their dairy. Not only do they have fantastic mozzarella, but amazingly awesome buffalo milk gelato. True story. And it’s delicious. Even though their buffalo are raised for their dairy products, AusBuff Stuff does use some of the animals for their meat. Buffalo is generally a really lean meat, so is best when cooked rare. However, like most beasts, some cuts are tougher than others and require slower cooking.

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