Sunday, 29 March 2015

Chicken liver pate

Chicken livers are polarising. Like oysters and Kim Kardashian, you either love or hate. There is no middle ground. No shoulder shrug and a mumbled "whatever". No "take it or leave it". I love them, most especially because they make pate.

As a 15 year old in the early 1980s, I had a Saturday morning job at Woolies. My dad would come a few minutes earlier to pick me up so that he could go to this deli in the shopping centre and buy a wedge of their chicken liver pate. Home we'd go and he would cook mounds of toast and the whole family would slather on butter and this pate and that would be lunch.

I also blame my dad for my love of oysters but I've already written about that in this blog. Then again, I blame my dad for my love of wine and men in the military. Not such a bad thing!

I buy my chicken livers at Coles, about $5 for packet. Worryingly you will find them next to the dog food in the meat section. Please do not be put off by that.


4 tablespoons butter (not that softened stuff, the proper stuff, in alfoil)
3 rashers rindless bacon, chopped roughly
350g chicken livers, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons brandy (or make it 4 if you're game)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (must be fresh, trust me on this)
salt and freshly ground pepper
juice of ½ lemon
Topping: melted butter, few pinches of thyme leaves


Heat butter in a frypan and fry bacon until it starts to crisp.

Add chicken livers to pan and cook over high heat until livers are browned but still pink in the middle, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic at the last minute.

Transfer to a blender and add all remaining ingredients. Blend until very smooth. I like to put it into individual ramekins or small bowls, just looks cuter. You can chuck the whole lot into a big bowl if you prefer.

Melt the extra butter,  throw in the thyme leaves then very slowly (over the back of a spoon if you want) pour over the pate. You want just enough to cover it.

Stick them in the fridge for about 4 hours. Serve with pita bread crisps (too easy to make - just buy supermarket pita break, rip it up into cracker-size pieces, throw on a baking tray and pop in a hot oven for 5 minutes or so) or regular crackers. Make it part of a cheese platter with pistachio nuts, muscatels and fresh strawberries.

Or do what I do - cook toast, liberally spread with butter then top with the pate. YUM!

Pate will keep in the fridge for five days, just pop a bit of Glad Wrap over it.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Moroccan corn fritters

Anyone who knows me and knows this blog knows that I'm not much one for "inventing" recipes. I'm a follower, and proud of it. I take recipes from professionals and cook them faithfully, and only after a few goes do I start mucking around with the ingredients and process.

This one came about because I was looking for something different to go with the magnificent Angus beef steaks I'd bought my husband and myself for dinner. It was meant to start as corn fritters, and be stacked with the steaks, wilted spinach, grilled asparagus and red wine jus. That all went out the window when Alan rang to say we had been invited to dinner with the chair of his board and could I be ready in 40 minutes. I had the batter ready to go and knew it wouldn't last the night so I quickly added the Moroccan elements, fried them up, kept covered overnight and served for breakfast this morning.

This recipe made 10. We ate them all this morning with cups of Yorkshire Gold tea. I seriously recommend you do so too.


400g tin corn kernels, drained and rinsed
1 zucchini, grated with moisture squeezzed out
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
2 eggs
½ teaspoon Moroccan spices seasoning (from the spices shelf at your supermarket)
¼ ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying (I used rice bran oil - you want a high smoke point)
To serve: sliced avocado, sour cream, toasted pine nuts, extra ground cinnamon


Mix all ingredients in a large bowl (obviously not the oil, nor the ingredients marked "to serve"). It should be a bit wet, sloppy and look a funny browny colour. Do not be put off.

Heat a good whack of oil (you want at last half a centimetre) in a heavy-based frypan and then add a tablespoon of the batter. You can cook a few in the pan at the same time. Give them about 3 minutes then flip them over. You want to be seeing that golden-brown crispy frying look. The smell should knock you off your feet with desire.

After another few minutes on the flip side, take them out and drain on paper towels.

Let them cool for about 5 minutes then pop on sliced avocado, sour cream, more cinnamon and sprinkle pine nuts around as you would confetti.

Hint: don't feel compelled to copy me and drink Yorkshire Gold tea with these. You have every authority to open a bottle of pinot noir or even crack a pale ale. Even if it is breakfast time.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Moroccan potato salad

Across the road from where I work in George Street, Brisbane, is quite possibly the most fabulous Moroccan restaurant I know, called Ben's Alibi, named equally after its owner and its location next to the Law Courts. The flavours are strong and traditional, the servings are generous and the customer service makes you feel like family. Do yourself a favour etc etc.

Hence I've found myself in local book stores buying a few Moroccan recipe books, and also in Woolies buying cinnamon and pine nuts in bulk!

Found this recipe on the Food Network website and gave it a run on Sunday when my family was over. Naturally I changed a few things, which I've included below. It was superb. My dad, who is dedicated to mum's mayonnaise and mint flakes version, had three helpings and declared it a winner. Now that's testament. I was glad to have a potato salad sans mayo. Try it with some bbq lamb or grilled fish. The pic is from the website but I didn't serve it with all that lettuce. It wasn't necessary and crowded out the beautiful colours.


For the dressing:
1 tablespoom dijon mustard
100 ml honey (less is ok, you be the judge)
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped (to be honest though, I put a whack of that Gourmet Garden garlic tube stuff in and it was fine!)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Olive oil - up to 200 ml

For the salad:
12 black pitted Kalamata olives
12 ptted green olives
1 small red onion
3 spring onions
8-10 cherry tomatoes, quartered (yep that makes 'em pretty small but be fearless)
½ cucumber, chopped quite small, with the seeds scraped out
A good handful of both coriander and curly parsley, roughly chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon toasted cumin seeds, ground up in a mortar & pestle (it will smell divine)
3-4 potaotes (depending on size) peeled, boiled and sliced into chunks
Toasted pine nuts - be generous, I used an entire small packet


Do the potaotes first. While they are cooking, chop everything up. Makes it easier.

For the dressing, mix all ingredients in a jar, put on lid and shake well. Take care when making dressing, and keep tasting it along the way to get the right balance of flavouors. Pretend you're on MKR and Manu is watching you.

For the salad, mix the olives, onions, tomaotes and cucumber together. Toss half the dressing through it and let infuse.

In a big bowl, add the potatoes, herbs, lemon juice and zest and cumin. Mix well, then throw in the other bowl of stuff that has the olives in it. Pour over remaining dressing then scatter pine nuts over the top.

Then get it on the table!