Recipe: Vietnamese prawn and green papaya salad

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This is a delicious, light salad, full of flavour from the herbs, and a bit of heat from the chilli. Be careful of the kind of chillies you use – I chose some very hot ones recently, which made the salad almost inedible! Not my finest hour…

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250g cooked prawns, peeled, centre vein removed
1/2 telegraph cucumber
3 spring onions
Large bunch coriander, thai basil and vietnamese mint
1/3 cup roasted peanuts
1 long red chilli

Nuoc Mam Cham (dipping sauce/dressing)
(with thanks to Luke Nguyen)
3 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp white vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar)
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup water
2 cloves garlic
1 long red chilli
2 Tbsp lime juice

  1. For the Nuoc Mam Cham, combine fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and water in a small saucepan, stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to just below boiling. Remove from heat.
  2. Finely chop the garlic, and finely slice the chilli. Stir into the sauce along with the lime juice, and refrigerate until required (will keep refrigerated for a month)
  3. To make the salad, peel and deseed the papaya. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut the papaya flesh into julienne strips.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the papaya and prawns with some of the dressing.
  5. Arrange on a platter and top with fresh herbs, and finely sliced chilli and spring onions. Sprinkle over chopped peanuts and serve.

Recipe: Unbaked vanilla cheesecake with cherries


125 g crumbled malt biscuits
75 g butter, softened
300 g cream cheese
60 g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp lemon juice
250 ml cream, whipped
500 g fresh cherries, halved and stones removed
100 g sugar
100 ml vodka
100 ml lemon juice
250 ml cream, whipped to serve

  1. Line a 20cm springform baking tin with tinfoil.
  2. Put the biscuits and butter in a food processor and pulse until well combined
  3. Press the biscuit mixture into the bottom of the tin. Put into the fridge to set (approx 20 minutes)
  4. Using the food processor again, pulse together cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla extract and lemon juice until well combined and smooth
  5. Transfer to a bowl, and fold through whipped cream.
  6. Pour cheese mixture over the biscuit mix, and return to the fridge to set (approximately 3 hours or overnight)
  7. Put the cherries in a saucepan with the sugar, vodka and lemon juice. Bring to the boil and cook until cherries are beginning to soften.
  8. Remove cherries with a slotted spoon and set aside. Continue to boil juices until thick.
  9. Cool and add cherries back to the pan. Refrigerate until needed.
  10. To prepare the cheesecake to serve, remove the cake from the tin. Top with extra whipped cream and cherry compote. Garnish with a few fresh cherries and serve.

Recipe: Caponata


2 Tbsp olive oil
2 eggplants, tops removed, sliced into wedges
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
Pinch chilli flakes
1/2 cup white wine
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 Tbsp capers, drained
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Large handful basil leaves, torn
Extra virgin olive oil

  1. Heat olive oil over moderate heat.
  2. Add onions, garlic and chilli and saute until onions are soft
  3. Add eggplants, stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes
  4. Add white wine, allow to bubble up, then pour over tomatoes.
  5. Bring to the boil and cook, uncovered, until liquid has reduced and sauce is thick
  6. Stir through capers and balsamic vinegar. Cook for another 2 minutes to soften vinegar slightly.
  7. Season to taste, stir through basil and drizzle over extra virgin olive oil.

Recipe: Blueberry and Red Wine Sauce



1/4 cup olive oil
250g shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely diced
Sprig thyme
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
400ml cups red wine
400ml chicken or beef stock (depending on whether sauce is being served with red or white meat)
1 cup blueberries
1 Tbsp butter

  1. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan
  2. Cook shallots until soft and lightly browned
  3. Add garlic and thyme and continue to cook for another 3 minutes
  4. Add vinegar and boil until almost completely evaporated
  5. Add red wine and boil until reduced by two thirds
  6. Add stock and simmer until reduced by two thirds.
  7. Strain, discard solids and return sauce to the pan
  8. Add blueberries and cook until soft, about 5 minutes
  9. Stir through butter, then season to taste and serve hot.


Recipe: Gazpacho


2 cloves garlic, crushed
1kg ripe tomatoes
1/2 cucumber, peeled
1/2 red capsicum, seeds removed
100g stale bread, crusts removed
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar if you have it)
5-6 drops Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper

  1. In a blender or food processor, puree tomatoes, cucumber, red capsicum and bread until smooth
  2. Add garlic and olive oil and pulse until very smooth. Strain if necessary.
  3. Transfer to a large bowl and stir through vinegar, cumin and Tabasco Sauce and season to taste. Thin with water if texture is too thick.
  4. Chill until very cold.
  5. Serve drizzled with extra olive oil, and fresh crusty bread.


Recipe: Scallops with french style peas


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Fresh scallops (allow 5-6 per person)
1 Tbsp butter
4 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
500g frozen baby peas
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cos lettuce, finely shredded
150ml white wine
Handful parsley leaves, chopped

  1. Heat a frying pan to hot, sear scallops until cooked. Remove and set aside.
  2. Melt a knob of butter in the pan. Add chopped bacon and cook until bacon is crispy. Remove and drain on paper towel.
  3. Reduce heat and add finely diced onion and chopped garlic. Cook until onion is soft.
  4. Pour over white wine. Bring to a simmer, stirring to lift the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add frozen peas and shredded iceberg lettuce and simmer until lettuce is wilted and peas are just cooked (this shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes)
  6. Stir through parsley leaves and season to taste.
  7. Onto deep plates, ladle the peas and juices. Top with scallops and sprinkle with a little extra parsley. Serve.

Recipe: Strawberry and Lemon Trifle



500g fresh strawberries
2 Tbsp Cointreau (or other orange liqueur)
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 x vanilla sponge cake
2 x egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 tablespoons caster sugar
300ml cream
150ml milk
2 teaspoons cornflour, mixed to a paste with a little water
1 x lemon, zested
1/4 cup lemon honey
300ml cream extra, whipped until soft peaks form

  1. Slice strawberries. Mix with icing sugar and Cointreau, set aside for 30 minutes
  2. To make the custard, heat first portion of cream, milk and vanilla until just below boiling
  3. Beat together egg yolks and sugar until light in colour and fluffy
  4. Pour hot cream mixture into eggs, beating as you pour
  5. Return custard into a clean saucepan, heat slowly over low heat until custard coats the back of a spoon
  6. Mix in cornflour paste and heat gently until custard thickens
  7. Stir in lemon zest and lemon honey. Set aside to cool (do not refrigerate)
  8. Assemble trifle by lining the bottom of a trifle bowl with sponge cake. Tip over berries and their juices and spread evenly to cover. Pour over custard and refrigerate until set.
  9. Top with whipped cream and extra sliced fresh strawberries and serve. (You could also use the left over egg whites to make mini meringues and top the trifle with these)