After days of hot weather and salads I was ready for a change and decided on making a dutch style dinner of Rookwurst (a spicy dutch sausage) and a mixed vegetable mash (served with lots of mustard). This meal was a favourite of mine as a child and my children loved it too. The sausage if quite rich (fatty) and so you don’t need much, a whole sausage would feed 4 people, it’s also good in a pea and ham style soup. In Holland you can buy low fat and varieties with different flavours.
An easy to make meal of mashed vegetables flavoured with mustard and Rookwurst sausage.
1 Rookwurst dutch sausage
5 med sized potatoes peeled and cut into quarters
1 med sized zucchini (I used a yellow one)
Bunch spinach finely sliced
Creme fraiche or milk
Boil the potatoes and zucchini until just done and mash together with nob of butter and a dessert spoon of creme fraiche or milk or cream. Stir in the spinach and cook on low heat (keep stirring) until the spinach wilts. Add some seasonings and more butter if needed.
Simmer the sausage in water for 10 - 15 min (it's already cooked) until heated through.
I decided to cook this dish for my daughter & her friends to celebrate the 2014 Portarlington Mussel Festival. The sauce takes a while to prepare as it really needs to cook on a low heat for a couple of hours for the full flavour to develop. The recipe can be used with marinara mix or roasted eggplant, sometimes I add more vegetables (zucchini, spinach, kale or mushrooms) but today I wanted to present a simple red sauce. The sauce needs a good supply of bread to soak it up, believe me you will need it! Each time I make it I think I have made too much but it always disappears, a fresh garden salad is a perfect partner or a spinach & feta cheese pie.
Chorizo in red sauce waiting for the mussels
You’ll need plenty of crunchy bread to soak up the sauce
Sardines two ways, mussels in red sauce, salad and olive bread
Local mussels with spicy chorizo sausage in a red sauce - you must have a good loaf of bread - you will need it!
1 kg mussels cleaned
stock to steam mussels
1 spicy chorizo sausage
1 med fennel bulb
2 x 400gm tins cherry tomatoes (or fresh) seeded and skinned (put through a sieve)
1 med onion, shallots or spring onion greens, chopped roughly (optional)
1 med red capsicum roasted, skinned & chopped (or buy already prepared)
1 med zucchini (skin removed) chopped
Chillies if you like it hot (chorizo has some chilli)
2 whole but crushed garlic cloves
parsley and/or basil to taste
sprinkle of sugar if using canned tomatoes
Place onion, red capsicum, zucchini, ½ chorizo (with skin removed and cut in small chunks) and fennel into a large bowl of a food processor and process until a pulp like consistency is reached (you may need to add a splash of water or oil to help it along).
Place into a large pan (I use my wok) with a splash of olive oil and fry the mixture and garlic cloves over low heat for at least 30min (more is good but you have to watch it!) stirring often and adding some water or oil if it looks like sticking.
Add the tomatoes and continue to cook over low heat for another 30min or more if you have the time (the longer it cooks the better the taste).
Steam the prepared mussels in batches in a large saucepan with just water or flavour the water with whatever you like (I used star anise, lime, herbs and a splash of white wine). They only take a couple of minutes to cook (they start to open up).
Do not use damaged mussels and be careful as you remove them from the stock as they may let go of hot water (I don't want this liquid in the sauce which is why I cook them separately).
When cool enough to handle remove one of the shells (I find this an easier way to eat rather than pulling them apart while eating). Set aside.
Fry the remaining chorizo in thin slices and add to the red sauce.
Add salt, pepper, sugar and paprika to taste (maybe more chilli) & remove the garlic.
Add the mussels to the sauce and cook on low to warm them up.
Roughly chop loads of parsley and basil and sprinkle over the dish.
It’s so hot today (day 3 over 40*) I struggled to think about cooking dinner but after a rest and shower my enthusiasm returned and I made the zucchini slice I’ve been thinking about for days. This recipe is an old family favourite, it can be jiggled with depending on what is available in the garden and to particular tastes; vegetarians just omit the bacon and chorizo (or add spinach, corn, mushrooms or strong cheese). The slice uses up excess zucchini, is quite cheap and very easy to make. I use free range eggs -I am lucky to have a neighbour with free range chickens and serve the slice with a homemade tomato sauce and salad (Ezme chilli sauce would be lovely with it).
Today we picked a lot of lovely young zucchinis and I had to decide what to do with them, they are so good when fresh like this, a real treat. I decided to make an eggplant and zucchini parmigiana from the cooking class I did in Positano but with a few changes, instead of deep frying the eggplant I grilled it instead (zucchini too), oh and I added chillies too!
The dish (two different dishes in one really) worked really well, the eggplant was soft and fluffy which contrasted the firm zucchini, the refreshing tomato sauce contrasting well with the cheeses.
This dish delivers lots of textures and flavours- the sweet melty fresh mozzarella, basil, soft smokey eggplant & crunchy zucchini combine well with the tomato sauce.
3 firm eggplants or 6 small zucchini
240g mozzarella sliced & cubed (fresh if possible & dried out a bit)
10 - 20 basil leaves
1 clove garlic (clove crushed slightly)
6 tablespoons parmesan cheese grated (more if desired)
⅓ cup olive oil
400g ripe tomatoes
salt & pepper
chillies to taste
Peel & cut the eggplants into thick slices. Place the eggplants into a colander and sprinkle with salt, let stand for at least 30 min to 1 hour. Wash salt off and dry eggplants with paper towel (get as dry as possible). Using a pastry brush lightly coat eggplants with oil and season. Slice zucchinis into thick slices (lengthways), dress with olive oil and season. Grill the vegetables on a barbeque or grill plate until the eggplant is cooked and the zucchini still crisp.
Add the garlic clove to the oil on low heat and cook until browned slightly. Add tomatoes and chili (if using) and simmer for at least 30 minutes stirring frequently. Pass cooked sauce through a sieve to remove seeds and skins and add a pinch of salt.
Cut the mozzarella into small blocks and leave to dry out a bit (stops the dish becoming watery). Grate the parmesan cheese.
Oil a baking dish and place a layer of eggplant or zucchini (I did half of each) then a layer of tomato sauce, then torn basil leaves followed by the layer of cheeses. Repeat layers finishing with the tomato sauce and sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese.
Preheat the oven to 180*C and bake for about 30 to 40 min, or until bubbling and golden.
The dish is good served hot or at room temperature (antipasto).
This dish is adapted from a recipe I learned in a cooking class at the Ristorante Buca di Bacco in Positano, Italy.
I had a piece of pork fillet and decided to make a stir fry style dish with garden vegetables, usually I like a bit more colour and variety but decided to make do with what we had on hand. Our garlic, carrot, shallots, kale, zucchini and last season’s chillies from the garden were teamed up with ginger, rice noodles, a few mushrooms and condiments.
10 kale leaves washed, rib removed and finely sliced
5 small mushrooms sliced
2 small garlic cloves chopped finely
1 med carrot cut into slivers
3 small chillies chopped finely
Splash soya/honey sauce
Splash fish sauce
1 tbs sweet chilli sauce (I like lime, chilli & pomegranate piquant from Wildings)
2 tbs coriander roughly chopped
4 tbs rice or vegetable oil
Pre-cooked rice noodles (pre-soaked in hot water)
Use 2 tbs of oil and fry the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli until soft but not coloured. Add the pork slices and cook lightly. Remove the pork onion mixture from the wok. Fry the carrots and zucchini in the remaining oil until softening then add the kale, rice noodles and the pork. Stir fry the mixture until all ingredients are heated through and the kale is cooked. Add the chilli sauce, fish and soya sauce and coriander. Serve.
Have you tried these delightful noodles? No? then you must!
Half pkt quinoa elbow noodles
400 gram fungi (I used Swiss brown & shimeji)
3 tablespoons creme fraiche (add more if you like it creamy)
chopped parsley to taste salt/pepper
1 tablespoons butter (the more you use the better it tastes of course)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves whole but slightly crushed
Slice larger mushrooms into thick pieces and fry in butter and oil. Add bruised garlic. When the mushrooms are starting to colour remove garlic, and add the more delicate fungi. Cook gently until soft and add to cooked pasta with the creme fraiche and chopped parsley. Season with pepper/salt. You may like to add some chilli , it goes in everything here!