As a recipe writer and owner of many cookbooks, I know the importance of an accurate recipe. I have come across many in books that just don't work, often resulting unfairly in the home cook faulting themself. My recipes are designed to ensure new and experienced cooks will have a simple and successful time in the kitchen. Having diligently tested, tweaked and improved these recipes over the years in my catering and cafe kitchens, the recipes are reliable and guaranteed to give results that taste great.
These are practical and resourceful recipes (the home economist coming out in me!), using common ingredients and sensible quantities. I am a big believer in cup measures for the home cook as they are quick, inexpensive and easy to use and not every kitchen has accurate scales, so where possible they are my preferred measures for solid and dry ingredients.
This pate recipe features in my new book, Apricots and Apron Strings. A simple and delicious recipe that is sure to impress.
450g chicken livers
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
¾ cup port
250g butter, diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trim any fat and membrane from livers and rinse well. Drain and pat dry with absorbent paper.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook onion, garlic and thyme for 3-4 minutes or until softened and fragrant. Remove and set aside. Heat pan again and cook livers in 2 batches (adding more oil if needed), for 4-5 minutes or until lightly browned (do not overcook or the pate will be grainy). Add to onions. Add port to hot pan and cook until reduced by half. Add to livers and mix to combine.
Place half the liver mixture into a food processor with half the butter and process for 2-3 minutes or until smooth. Transfer to a large clean bowl and repeat with remaining mixture. Season with salt and pepper and mix well to combine.
Spoon pate into individual ramekins (or a loaf pan lined with cling wrap to give a sliceable log) and refrigerate until firm. Serve with water crackers, Melba toast, fresh or toasted baguette.
Serves 8 as an entree / makes 800g.
A deliciously creamy tart of baked mascarpone custard with dates. The perfect dessert to finish an Italian meal, something just a little different.
215g pkt (1 cup firmly packed) pitted dates
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 ½ cups plain flour
1/4 cup icing sugar mixture
125g butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
1 egg yolk
2 tbs chilled water
To prepare pastry, place flour, icing sugar and butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and water and process until the dough begins to come together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Wrap with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place dates, water and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, for 5-7 minutes or until dates begin to soften and break down. Allow to cool.
On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry out to a 34cm disk, approx 4mm thick. Use to line the base and sides of a 26cm (base measurement) fluted tart tin with removable base. Neaten edges and prick the base evenly with a fork. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 15 minutes further.
Cover pastry with baking paper and half fill with pastry weights or rice. Bake in a preheated 200oC oven for 12 minutes. Remove paper and weights. Bake for a further 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 160°C.
Use an electric beater to beat caster sugar, eggs and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl for 3 minutes or until thick and pale. Add mascapone and mix until smooth.
Spread prepared tart case with the cooled dates, cover with mascarpone mixture and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden and just set. Allow to cool and then chill.
Serve cold with a dusting of icing sugar, with some double cream on the side.