Monthly Archives: July 2011

Marjoram! where’ve you been all my life?

I’m obsessed! Marjoram has taken over my life… I’m finding ways of getting it into all sorts of dishes these last few weeks and I’m loving it… I can’t have enough of marjoram, and thyme, and oregano and I can’t believe for the first 40 years of my life I only looked for basil and coriander in the herb section of the supermarket… with a bit of bay and a tiny bit of parsley (bleugh) and ignoring mint totally (BLEUGH).

And now I’m growing my own to keep with up with the amounts I need; it’s like a drug. A perfumed, lemony, herbaceous, aromatic and healthy drug, I’m chopping with abandon…!

Uses for marjoram leaves this week: tossed with leaves and a classic lemon vinaigrette for a crunchy almost-spring salad; chopped up with thyme, salt, a little chilli and butter and smeared under the skin of roasting chicken; sprinkled over a freshly cooked tomato, red onion & bocconcini pizza; sauced up with its aromatic herby friends – basil, coriander, thyme and oregano – garlic and butter and tossed through home-made linguine; garnishing a bowl of wintry Jerusalem artichoke soup; and my favourite: finishing off my easy-peasy & cheap one-pot chicken braise… delish. And now to the recipe!

Mel’s easy-peasy & cheap one-pot chicken braise – Serves 4 (with potential leftovers for pasta!)

 8 chicken drumsticks (free-range at least)

Olive oil

2 brown onions

4 cloves garlic

2 tins cherry tomatoes

A cup of chicken stock

Salt & pepper

Fresh herbs: handful marjoram, oregano, thyme

Dried herbs: 2 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Brown off the chicken drumsticks with a good glug of olive oil in an oven-proof casserole dish* (with lid & wide enough to fit chicken in one layer if possible). Remove.

Peel then halve onions & finely slice, add to hot pot and stir. Strip thyme leaves from stalks and add to the onions. Peel and crush the garlic, add to the pot and cook, stirring, on medium heat until the onions are soft but not brown.

Add chicken back to the pot, pour in the tomatoes and enough stock to almost cover the chicken, sprinkle a good pinch of salt, grind some pepper and add the bay leaves. Turn heat up and watch until it’s almost boiling, then pop lid on and place in oven for an hour.

With 20 minutes to go, take the lid off to let the liquid reduce a little.

Remove from the oven, pick the leaves from the marjoram and oregano, chop them up and sprinkle over the finished chicken. Serve immediately.

Best eaten with buttery boiled potatoes and garlicky broccoli.

*Best by far is to cook this in cast-iron – I’ve got a big Le Creuset and a small cheapie version from Aldi and they both cook up a storm… worth investing in (or not!).

dear dear marjoram, grow quickly please

Linguine and herbs

serves 6

 500g fresh linguine

1 tablespoon cooking salt

225 g butter

8 small cloves garlic

Small bunch basil to yield 1/3 cup

Bunch coriander to yield 1/3 cup

3 or 4 sprigs thyme to yield 2 tablespoons

3 or 4 sprigs marjoram to yield 2 tablespoons

3 or 4 sprigs oregano to yield 2 tablespoons

Small bunch parsley to yield 2 tablespoons

2 tablespoons black olives

Flaked salt & black pepper

 Fill a large stockpot with water and heat on high. Meanwhile wash & carefully dry the herbs, then pick the leaves if needed, discarding the stems. Finely chop herbs. Slice the olives & finely chop the garlic.

Melt the butter in the saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and cook gently for a couple of minutes. Stir in the herbs.

When the water is boiling add the pasta & cooking salt, stir, put lid back on and when boiling again cook for 3 minutes until ‘al dente’. Drain the pasta and transfer to back into the stockpot. Add the butter mixture to the stockpot and toss carefully. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with black olive slices and serve into the serving bowls.

(Adapted from Alice Waters’ ‘The Art of Simple Food)

yum yum pigs bum.

Categories: Food, Garden | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday: cooking with four-year-old Ava

A cup of Earl Grey and an Anzac biscuit, perfect

It’s a beautiful sunny day out there but there’s a frrrrreezing cold wind… Steve has sneaked away for forty winks and Olly has finally gone down too. Ava not so! She’s bouncing off the walls after allowing me to while away some time on the laptop. Now she wants action! How to amuse her quietly and let the others have their siestas? Let’s bake biscuits!

Ava rolls Anzac biscuits

Whilst it’s not Anzac Day here (not even close – 25th April?) I never need an excuse to make Anzac biscuits. And un-Australian as it may be – apologies to those purists out there – we add some orange zest. Because we’ve some fantastic oranges in the fruit bowl and we feel like it.

Ava is funny, she keeps bending down to hide her head under the table: she’s sneaking bits of raw oat & flour mixture and doesn’t want me to see… I tell her that the more she leaves now, the more biscuits we get to eat later but I think she likes the game of subterfuge… She loves rolling the little spheres of goo in her hands and asks me every time if the ball’s the right size. She lines them up neatly to one side of the baking tray, all rubbing together, and doesn’t really understand that they’ll all spread. They’re all different sizes, but I tell her that’s ok: some will be chewy and some crispy, but all will be delicious!

The smell of the orange zest wafts out of the oven mingling with the toasty biscuit/ Golden Syrup yumminess, mmmmm.

Best thing about these bikkies? They only take 15 minutes or so to cook! Just enough time to clean up and pop the kettle on.

Anzac biscuits done!

Ava’s Orange Anzac Biscuits

 1 cup rolled oats

1 cup plain flour

1 cup raw sugar (or white, or half brown, half white)

¾ cup desiccated coconut

125g butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 tablespoon boiling water

1 orange

 Preheat oven to 150°C.

 Combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and golden syrup over a gently heat. Mix the bicarb soda with boiling water, add to melted butter mixture and add this to the dry ingredients. Finely zest the orange and add the zest to the mixture. Stir until combined.

 Take a teaspoonful of mixture at a time and roll into small balls. Place these on a lightly greased oven tray and allow room to spread. Cook for about 15 -20 mins, until lovely and golden. Allow to cool on the trays and then eat!

Makes about 30. Try not to eat all in one setting like we did.

Proof of the Anzac is in the eating...

Categories: Family, Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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