Monday, 14 October 2013


Here at Cook Castle, we have been embracing Brisbane's scorching weather and preparing ourselves for the summer onslaught. And as always, it starts with the food. The French provincial foodie of winter gives way to Malibu Tropicana cook-as-much-as-possible-on-the-bbq. So it's good cuts of meat or just-caught fish with some marinade or a spice-rub and tossed onto the heat. 

Our bbq has a gas wok attachment, so I slice up all manner of vegies and toss them about while the meat is cooking. Tonight we had red capsicum, green capsicum, fresh corn cut from the cob, green beans (they were just topped and tailed), broccolini, a handful of baby spinach and another handful of frozen edamame beans (which the manufacturer had thoughtfully taken out of the pod before freezing). When they were cooked, I stirred through some hoisin sauce and sprinkled toasted pine nuts on top. Easy, fab and yummy.

Which got me to thinking about other easy ways to add a bit of zing to vegies. Here's a few suggestions:

  • toss in lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper
  • sprinkle with fresh herbs like rosemary, coriander or basil
  • mix with a little soy sauce and sesame oil
  • drizzle with a little honey
  • grate a little low-fat cheese over them
  • grill with a spray of olive oil, a few garlic cloves, salt and pepper
  • add a quick splash of Tabasco sauce
  • stir-fry with a little oil and curry powder
  • toast slivered almonds in the oven and sprinkle on top
  • and when all else fails, there's always butter...

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Toasted coconut scallops

Alan and I had dinner at our local tavern during the week. They had just revamped their menu,  and Wednesday night was "two for one" so we would have been mad not to go. On the menu was "Toasted coconut, caramelised scallops, avocado and cherry tomato crush". It was sublime, absolute divinity. 

The avo was slightly spiced and mashed roughly, with chopped cherry tomatoes running through it, and these delicate scallops, about 12 in all, were sprinkled about and coated in these crisp coconut crumbs. So of course I had to come home, google it  and make my own. We had it last night and it was heaven. 

Here's the recipe for the scallop part. I'll leave it to you to mash your avo and chop the tomatoes. If it helps, I served the whole thing on baby spinach with a drizzle of balsamic and olive oil. I wish I had taken a picture.

Serves 2


1½ cups sweetened flaked coconut
2 cups boiling-hot water
¼ teaspoon cayenne or paprika
½ teaspoon salt
200g sea scallops, no shell or roe
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 egg lightly whisked
½ cup vegetable oil
lime wedges to serve


Preheat oven to 190⁰C

In a small bowl stir together coconut and water. Drain coconut in a sieve and pat dry.

On a baking sheet spread coconut in one layer and bake in middle of oven until pale golden, about 10-15 minutes. In a bowl stir together coconut, cayenne, and salt.

Pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. In two separate shallow bowls have ready flour and lightly beaten egg. Dredge scallops in flour, shaking off excess. Dip each scallop in egg, letting excess drip off, then coat well with coconut.

Heat a skillet over moderate heat, add the oil until it's pretty hot but not smoking and cook scallops until golden and just cooked through, no mor than 45-60 seconds each side.

Drain scallops on paper towels. Stack on top of avo mash, and serve with lime wedges.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Chocolate self-saucing pudding

It's really almost too far into spring to think about hot desserts but when I read this morning that a cooler change was imminent, I figured this stalwart could survive one more outing. Cooks by itself, really, and all you need to do is make sure you didn't serve a huge main meal, because you need lots of tummy space for this. 

My love and eternal devotion goes to Bill Granger for this. You'll find it in his "Bills' Food" book. 


125g Plain Flour
Pinch of Salt
120g caster sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
250ml milk - be brave and use full-fat
85g unsalted butter melted
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Double cream or crème fraiche to serve

185g soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
250 ml boiling water


Preheat the oven to 180°C

Sift the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and cocoa powder into a bowl.

Add the milk, butter, egg and vanilla extract and mix with beaters until combined.

Pour into four 250 ml (1 cup) greased pudding moulds.

To make the topping, stir the brown sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl to combine, then sprinkle it over the pudding batter.

Pour boiling water carefully over the puddings, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve with thick cream. What could be easier!