Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Baked Turkey Caprese Roulade

This whole idea came about because there was some spinach and Basil Pesto in the fridge, as well as a handful of baby bocconcini. I wanted lasagne, but had no noodles...so I improvised and used turkey scallopini instead, and boy was it yummy.

The caprese is the combination of basil, tomato and bocconini, with a few twists!

The other bonus was that I also used up the  Basic Tomato Sauce that had been defrosted for another meal.

Not a classic summertime meal, but oh so yummy, and so worth having the oven on...


1/4 cup of spinach and Basil Pesto
1/4 cup finely chopped sundried tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Lay the turkey scallopini out on a tray, and lightly season with salt and pepper.

I used:

4 scallopini

Divide the sundried tomato and pesto mixture between the pieces of turkey, and spread it over the meat, leaving a small border around each.

Lay some halved baby bocconcini down the centre of each piece.

Roll each piece of turkey up, and place seam side down in an ovenproof dish that has a thin layer of Basic Tomato Sauce  on the bottom.

Pour the remaining Basic Tomato Sauce over and around the turkey rolls. I used about:

1 1/2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce altogether.

Sprinkle with:

1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup torn baby bocconcini

Bake at 350F until the sauce is bubbling, the cheese is melted and golden and it is hot in the middle.

This should take about 45 minutes.

Serve, along with pasta or crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

  • Baking the turkey rolls in tomato sauce helps to keep them moist. The pesto and cheese in the middle does the same thing.
  • If you do not have baby bocconcini, use regular ones; slice them. You can also use grated mozzarella, or any other nice melting cheese such as goat cheese, Swiss cheese, havarti or asiago.
  • The pesto I used was made with half spinach and half basil...that being said any type of pesto can be used. Tapenade could be used as well.
  • The roulades can be assembled ahead of time, and kept well wrapped, either in the fridge or freezer.
  • Instead of turkey scallopini, try thinly sliced chicken, beef, pork, veal or even cooked lasagne noodles if you want to keep this vegetarian.
  • The turkey roulades can be well chilled and then breaded and pan seared and finished off in the oven for a different result. You would have a crispy, crunchy outside and a gooey, cheesy inside. Serve the tomato sauce on the side.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Summer Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Smoked Flank Steak

I know it looks like I spent a long time on this salad, but in actual fact I literally just cut up things that were in the fridge and calling to be used. My husband was smoking flank steak for dinner and I said I would make a salad to have with it...

The orange had been zested for something else and needed to be eaten; the avocado half was left over from breakfast the day before; the toast was made from the stale loaf end on the counter; the cheese, beans and lettuce had just been bought and rounded out the salad.

The basil vinaigrette was made in order to use up some of the basil in the garden...I can only make and freeze so much Basil Pesto, and this dressing is quick and easy and tastes so good. It has a perfect balance of acidity, basil, heat from the mustard and sweetness.

Blanch and cool off with cold, running water:

1 Handful of green beans per person

Drain well.

Cut thin slices from a loaf of French bread, preferably stale.

Place on a tray under the broiler to toast. I turned them over when the first side was done, to have even crispiness!

Peel and thinly slice:

2 oranges ( or 1 per person)

To make the vinaigrette, place all the ingredients in the blender, and blend until smooth:

6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons grainy mustard
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste

To assemble the salad, toss some torn salad greens in a bit of the basil vinaigrette and place onto the plates. Toss the cooled grean beans in a bit of the dressing and add to the plate. Finish off the plate by adding the sliced orange, some sliced avocado, 2 pieces of the toast and a slice of Cambozola cheese.

Play around and be creative...the colours and textures allow you to do so, and it looks more impressive than if it was all tossed with the dressing and piled onto the plate!

Add the thinly sliced smoked flank steak, or whichever meat you choose to add, and dinner is served!

  • This salad came together quickly; by the time the beans were blanched and the toast was done, everything else was ready to go.
  • I used green leaf lettuce, but as with any green salad you can use whatever lettuce you have available. Baby kale or arugula will add tangy or slightly bitter flavours; spinach, romaine or mixed greens can also be used. Radicchio or butter lettuce could be used to create lettuce cups to hold some of the other ingredients if you like.
  • Green beans do not have to be blanched, we just prefer them this way. You could also use asparagus (grilled or blanched), snap peas or snow peas.
  • Use fresh berries, peaches or nectarines, grapes or grapefruit if you don't have any oranges.
  • Add other vegetables for colour and texture....grape tomatoes, sweet red peppers, boiled new potatoes tossed in the vinaigrette while still warm, cucumber slices.
  • The toast was added to give some crunch, and because I thought it would be nice to eat with the cheese....use croutons or toasted nuts instead.
  • Cheese is your choice, add your favourite, or omit it if you like. The creamy Cambozola was perfect for spreading on the toast, and a great complement to the sweet oranges and slightly spicy steak.
  • As I mentioned, use any meat you like, just slice it thinly.
  • The basil vinaigrette is so summery, I love to use it as much as I can. I have some chicken marinating in it for dinner tonight.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Rum Raisin Coffee Cake with Peaches and Almonds

Rum soaked raisins, flaked almonds and a sweet and juicy fresh peach went together nicely in this easy to make crumb cake...as I had no sour cream, buttermilk or yoghurt to use I added Balsamic vinegar to milk to sour it and used that instead. A good way to use the last couple of tablespoons of my peach infused Balsamic vinegar, and it added some peach flavour to the batter.

The other inspiration for the cake was the fact that I wanted to use the raisins in the cupboard...and of course, the fresh summer peaches!

Place 1/3 cup of  raisins in a bowl and soak in 2 tablespoons of rum and leave to steep for about an hour.

Start by turning the oven on to 350F, and lightly greasing a 9" X 13" baking dish.

First, sour the milk by combining it with the vinegar:

1 cup milk
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Leave it to stand and sour while you start the cake batter.

Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer:

2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar


4 ounces cold butter, cut into pieces

Mix on a low speed with the paddle attachment, until the consistency is that of breadcrumbs.


1/2 cup of the crumb mixture

Combine it with:

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Set aside.

To the remaining crumbs, add:

1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix to combine.

To the milk and vinegar, add:

1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk to combine.

With the mixer running on a low speed, gradually add the wet ingredients, stopping the mixer when the ingredients are just combined.

Add the soaking raisins, and any rum that has not been absorbed, to the batter. Stir in by hand.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and spread evenly.

Peel and slice:

1 peach

Place the peach slices on top of the batter.

Sprinkle the almond crumble evenly over the top of the peaches.

Bake until the cake is done (a skewer will come out clean) and the crumble is golden and crispy.

This took about 45 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool before cutting; serve with coffee or dress it up with whipped cream or ice cream and serve it for dessert!

  • This cake also makes a great breakfast cake, serve it instead of muffins. You can also bake the batter in muffin pans if you like. The baking time will be a lot shorter, probably around 18 - 20 minutes.
  • The longer the raisins are left to soak, the more rum they will absorb. Consider soaking them in the fridge overnight if you can.
  • Other dried fruit can be used; the raisins can also be omitted. I liked the chewiness they added to the cake.
  • The peach can be diced and mixed into the batter. Other fruit such as plums, apricots, nectarines, apples or pears will work as well.
  • The crumble ingredients can be changed...try using things such as toffee bits; chocolate chips; other types of nuts; coconut; different spices.
  • As I mentioned, I used milk that I added Balsamic vinegar to in order to sour it. Lemon juice can also be added to the milk for the same reason. If you have buttermilk, sour cream or yoghurt, use 1 cup of that instead. 
  • The cake can be frozen after it is baked. It can be eaten room temperature or warm.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Israeli Couscous and Grilled Vegetable Salad with Tuscan Sausage

Israeli couscous is not something I cook often, but whenever I do we really enjoy it, which makes me wonder why I don't cook it more?!

The reasons for this making this salad were a couple of corn cobs, a multitude of sweet peppers (literally), some asparagus and the fresh basil that is growing out of control in the garden...I can only make so much Basil Pesto!

I wanted to grill the vegetables and use them in a salad, with grilled sausage. It was then that I remembered the Israeli couscous. Even though it is pretty similar to using pasta, it has a lighter feel to it, so was a better choice for a hot evening.

Start by cooking the Israeli couscous in a pot of lightly salted, boiling water. You will need:

1 cup of couscous

When the Israeli couscous is cooked (check it the same way you would check pasta, by tasting to see how crunchy or soft the little balls of dough are), drain it and run it under cold water to cool it off and stop the cooking process. Set aside.

While the couscous is cooking and cooling, grill the vegetables and sausages. I used:

2 Tuscan sausages
1 corn cob
12 spears of asparagus
8 mini sweet peppers, seeded and cut in half

To assemble the salad, wait until the grilled vegetables have cooled enough to handle easily. Cut the corn kernels off the cob. Roughly chop or slice the peppers. Cut the asparagus into 1/2" pieces. Cut the sausages in half and then thinly slice them.

In a large bowl, place the cooled and drained Israeli couscous along with the grilled vegetables and:

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Dress with  olive oil and balsamic vinegar, taste and season with salt and pepper.

Mix gently to combine, and then add:

the sliced sausage
a generous handful of grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Serve the salad in bowls, topped with a bit more Parmesan if you choose.

  • The Israeli couscous can also be lightly toasted in olive oil, before adding the liquid, which should be hot. Liquids such as water, chicken or vegetable stock or a combination work.
  • The cooking liquid can also be flavoured with herbs, spices or citrus fruit slices.
  • Israeli couscous is similar to pasta in that it is easy to pair with a variety of meats, vegetables and sauces. It can be served hot or cold, as a main meal or as a side dish or salad.
  • Pasta or couscous can be substitutes for the Isareali couscous.
  • The grilled vegetables were crunchy and smoky, and the corn was so nice and sweet. The salad was full of colour, crunch and flavour. Use any vegetables you have on hand, grilled or fresh, or even leftover roasted vegetables.
  • Shredded spinach or baby kale would be a nice addition.
  • I did not add any cheese, as the Tuscan sausage had fairly large pieces of Asiago in it, but if I was making this again I would add feta cheese.
  • Grilled chicken, pork or beef can be used instead of the sausage...leftovers are perfect for a meal like this. Consider adding prawns or candied salmon.
  • The second corn cob and the other two sausages were grilled and set aside for another meal.
  • This is a perfect light lunch, picnic lunch or packed lunch for school or work...it can be made ahead, and everything is in one bowl.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Balsamic Cherry Chutney

Lots of beautiful, ripe, summer cherries...more than we can possibly eat, inspired this chutney.

I made enough to fill two canning jars, plus a bit extra for us to have with our dinner.

I made grilled chicken sandwhiches, topped with the cherry chutney and some soft goat cheese...a winning combination!

I kept the chutney simple, adding red onions, fresh thyme, a cinnamon stick and some cloves. I kept the amount of sugar to a minimum, as I am not a fan of very sweet chutneys, but this can be adjusted to suit your personal taste. The flavour of the cherries came through nicely, and added natural sweetness, while the balsamic vinegar added the tartness.

Start off by cooking the onions in a bit of olive oil until they start to soften. You will need:

2 cups thinly sliced red onions


1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves

When the sugar has dissolved, stir in:

1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar

Heat until the vinegar starts to boil.


4 cups pitted cherries
3 sprigs fresh thyme

Turn the heat down, and simmer until the cherries have softened, and the liquid is almost all gone. You should be left with a chunky, thick sauce. Remove the thyme sprigs, cinnamon stick and cloves, before canning.

  • Chutney is a combination of fruit, onions, spices, sugar and vinegar that are cooked together until thickened. This allows numerous combinations...
  • Most chutney recipes call for apple cider vinegar but I felt that the dark colour and richness of Balsamic vinegar would be a better choice with the cherries.
  • The juice that is released from the fruit is often enough liquid, together with the vinegar. If not, add some fruit juice that would be appropriate for the fruit you are using.
  • Substitute other fruit for all or part of the cherries...apples, rhubarb, peaches, plums, apricots, pears and feel free to try some combinations such as apple pear; rhubarb plum; apple peach; cherry pear.
  • Experiment with spices...ginger, fresh or dried; star anise; fennel seeds; mustard seeds to name a few.  Consider adding citrus zest.
  • Dried fruit can be added to chutneys, for extra sweetness and chewiness.
  • As I mentioned, I opted for less sugar that some people prefer. Start with less, and add more if you feel it is needed at the end.
  • Chutney is great to serve with cheese or roast meats; on sandwhiches;  use as a glaze when roasting a turkey or ham.