Recipe: Pumpkin, ginger & lemongrass soup

I love soup and pumpkin soup has been among my favourites forever. Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Its sweetness, accentuated by roasting it instead of just boiling it, pairs well with the zing of ginger, lemongrass and lime juice.

This recipe is gluten-free and can be made vegan/vegetarian by using vegetable broth and omitting the fish sauce. It’s low in fat (if you don’t add the optional coconut milk) and protein. You can add some cooked chicken or boiled eggs to bump up the protein content.

Pumpkin, ginger & lemongrass soup

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 small pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion
  • 3-cm piece of ginger
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • 4 coriander stalks
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • salt to taste
  • juice of 1 lime

To serve

  • coriander leaves
  • fresh chilli (optional)
  • splash of coconut milk (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C (150°C fan-forced).
  2. Peel, seed and cube pumpkin. Place on a baking tray and roast for 40 minutes.
  3. While the pumpkin cooks, chop onion, ginger, lemongrass and coriander stalks.
  4. Heat coconut oil in a pot at low temperature. Add the onion, ginger, lemongrass and coriander stalks and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
  5. When pumpkin is ready, place in a blender or food processor along with the aromatics, broth, fish sauce and lime juice.
  6. Process to desired consistency, adding more broth or water if desired. Adjust seasoning and serve garnished with coriander leaves and sliced chilli. Add a splash of coconut milk if you wish.

Recipe: One pan lamb chops with vegetables and chimichurri

Lamb and chimichurri are common items in Argentinian menus. Although they do a lot of asado (BBQ), lamb is more often eaten slow-cooked by open fire. I wanted this recipe to capture the essence of Argentinian food without sacrificing practicality. These lamb chops with chimichurri can be easily made on a weeknight with ingredients that are easy to get.

Following the “meat and 3 veg” tradition, I used romanesco, carrots and kale for this recipe. Feel free to use whatever vegetables you have handy that are suitable for roasting, for example: cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, Brussel sprouts, celeriac, parsnips, swedes, turnips, green beans, radishes, etc.

One additional note: the chimichurri recipe will make more than enough, keep the leftover sauce in a glass jar in the fridge and use it later. Besides meat, you can drizzle it on baked potatoes, bread, salads, etc.

One pan lamb chops with vegetables and chimichurri

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: easy
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Chops and veggies

  • 1 kg lamb chops (loin or chump)
  • 2 small-medium heads of romanesco, cauliflower or broccoli
  • 5-6 medium carrots
  • 1 small bunch of kale or other dark leafy green

Chimichurri

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 red capsicum, minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions

  1. Prepare the chimichurri by mixing all ingredients. Let it sit at room temperature for flavours to marry.
  2. Preheat oven to 220°C (200°C fan-forced).
  3. Chop vegetables in large chunks and place in a roasting pan (you can line it with baking paper for easier clean-up). Season lamb chops with salt and pepper on both sides and place them on top of the vegetables.
  4. Roast for 20-30, flipping the chops midway through.
  5. Serve purist-style (vegetables with chops and sauce on the side) or rebel-style (vegetables with chops on top, drizzled with sauce).

Recipe: My mum’s pollo con piña (pineapple chicken)

Mum is a great cook. Pollo con piña (pineapple chicken) was one of her go-to meals, possibly the one she made the most often. We had it for dinner on regular weekdays and also on special occasions, such as my dad’s birthday.

I have to confess that at some stage of my life I got tired of eating this dish. However, I’ve been away from home long enough for me to miss it. Last time I visited my family I asked mum for the recipe. Of course, she gave me general directions with no quantities nor times. I’m still amazed that the dish tasted the same every single time. I decided to give it a shot given that it’s dad’s birthday month and I like to do something every year to remember him.

Notes on ingredients: mum uses regular soy sauce and ketchup (tomato sauce), potato starch and pineapple in syrup. I used tamari, sugar-free tomato sauce from Richard’s Country Kitchen, tapioca starch and pineapple in juice. From memory, my version is pretty close to the original and a little healthier.

My mum's pollo con piña

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 chicken thighs or drumsticks
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp + 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1/2 tsp + 1 tsp tapioca starch
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 pineapple in juice slices + 2 tbsp of the juice
  • 250g snow peas
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 6 green onions, white and light green part only

To serve


Directions

  1. Marinate chicken with garlic, 1/2 tsp tamari and 1/2 tsp potato starch.
  2. Wash vegetables, pull off stems of snow peas, slice capsicum and cut green onions in pieces 6-8cm long.
  3. Brown chicken on all sides.
  4. Lower heat, add remaining tamari, tomato sauce and pineapple juice, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Add capsicum, snow peas, green onion and pineapple and remaining 1 tsp tapioca starch dissolved in 2 cold water.
  6. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
  7. Serve with rice or cauliflower rice.

Chilli con carne

Recipe: Chilli con carne

There are a million recipes to make chilli con carne and I can’t say mine is better nor more authentic (I’m Peruvian, not Mexican! nor American!) but I can definitely say it is pretty tasty.

Once again I’ve used Feather and Bone’s fabulous organic mince with organs (super food!) to make it extra nutritious.

You can serve it in any of the traditional ways: with rice, in nachos, topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, etc. I like to serve it with vegetables (e.g. steamed or roasted broccoli and/or cauliflower), topped with coriander, avocado and a squeeze of lime juice. However you decide to serve it, I hope you enjoy it.

Chilli con carne

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp ghee or olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 500 g organic beef mince with organs (or regular beef mince)
  • 1 tbsp chipotles in adobo
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked black or red beans
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat ghee or olive oil in a pot.
  2. Add onion, garlic, cumin, coriander and smoked paprika. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add mince and break down with a spoon, allowing it to brown.
  4. Add chipotles in adobo, tomatoes, beans and stock.
  5. Add oregano by rubbing it between your hands to break the leaves. Season with salt and pepper, stir.
  6. Cover pot and simmer for 30 minutes.
  7. Uncover pot and continue cooking for another 15 minutes or so, to allow chilli to thicken.
  8. Garnish with coriander and serve with veggies, avocado and a squeeze of lime juice.

chicken wings

Recipe: Asian baked chicken wings

I realise Asian baked chicken wings is not a very descriptive dish name but bear with me. This recipe was inspired by a Peruvian dish called “chicharrón de pollo”. As you may or may not know, there has been a large influx of Chinese migrants in Perú, particularly between the late 1800s and the early 1900s.

I tweaked the recipe to use chicken wings instead of breast and baked instead of fried. The wings have enough fat (and there’s a bit of sesame oil in the marinade) so they don’t need to be fried. Serve it with steamed or stir-fried vegetables of your choice.

Asian baked chicken wings

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Wings

  • 6 chicken wings (600-700 g)
  • 1 tsp tamari
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp cooking rice wine
  • 1/2 tsp five spice powder
  • 1/2 tsp rice or tapioca starch

Dipping sauce

  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp five spice powder
  • juice of 1 lime

To serve

  • steamed or stir-fried vegetables

Directions

  1. Place wings in a bowl and marinate with the rest of ingredients. Leave at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. While chicken marinates, preheat oven to 220°C (200°C fan-forced).
  3. Place wings on a tray and bake for 20 minutes or until fully cooked.
  4. Make dipping sauce ingredients by mixing all ingredients.
  5. Serve wings with vegetables and dipping sauce on the side.

Recipe: Salmon with roasted Brussel sprouts, fennel and pesto

This is an easy recipe that combines some of my favourite things: crispy skin salmon, Brussel sprouts and pesto. This is a meal packed with healthy fats, including omega-3 from the salmon and monounsaturated fats from the extra-virgin olive oil. This dish is gluten-free and low in carbs. Feel free to swap the vegetables for your favourite ones or whatever you have available.

I used Pecorino cheese (made from sheep’s milk) instead of Parmigiano Reggiano because I prefer its sharp taste, but you can use regular Parmesan. I also left out the garlic – I prefer using roasted garlic instead of raw in sauces but wanted to keep this recipe as simple as possible. You will have leftover pesto to enjoy with your morning eggs.

Salmon with roasted Brussel sprouts, fennel and pesto

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Salmon and vegetables

  • 3 salmon fillets
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 600 gr Brussel sprouts
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pesto

  • 1 bunch basil
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 30g grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).
  2. Trim and halve Brussel sprouts, trim and slice fennel. Place vegetables on a tray and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  3. While the vegetables cook, place washed basil leaves, pine nuts, cheese, lemon juice and olive oil in a food processor. Process to desired texture. Check seasoning, add salt if needed and several grinds of black pepper.
  4. Heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan. Place the salmon fillets skin side down, season flesh with salt and pepper. Let cook for 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness.
  5. Flip fillets using a spatula and cook for another 2-3 minutes, depending on thickness.
  6. Serve fillets skin side up to preserve crispness or skin side down with a dollop of pesto on top for colour contrast. Serve roasted vegetables on the side, seasoned with salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Recipe: Supercharged Bolognese

This Supercharged Bolognese might look like a regular Bolognese but it’s got a secret ingredient to make it extra nutritious: Feather and Bone’s organic beef mince with organs. You can use your own mince + organ meat blend, of course.

Flavour comes, mostly, from the speck (also from Feather and Bone – you can use bacon instead), classic soffritto veggies (onion, garlic, celery and carrot) and red wine (you can use beef broth instead). The other flavour booster most Bolognese recipes don’t include is dried porcini, which adds to the umaminess of the dish. In Perú, ragú-style dishes are always made with dried mushrooms because they are included by default in the bay leaves bags that can be found at the herbs & spices section of the supermarket (this is called hongos y laurel). Finding dried mushrooms can be a bit more challenging in Australia but not impossible! – they’re available in most superkmarkets (and certainly specialty food stores), you just need to be patient to find them.

Most people serve Bolognese with spaghetti, but I prefer to serve it with vegetables for extra nutrition. I served them on top of sautéed Russian kale.

Supercharged Bolognese

Other suggestions include:

  • Higher carb:
    • roasted root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, swedes, celeriac, pumpkin
    • vegetable “noodles” made from parsnip, celeriac, sweet potato, pumpkin
    • mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, parsnips, celeriac, swedes or a combination
    • polenta
    • rice, quinoa or a combination (pro tip: add lupin flakes for extra fibre and protein)
  • Lower carb:
    • roasted or steamed broccoli and/or cauliflower
    • sautéed kale or cabbage
    • roasted Brussel sprouts
    • roasted zucchini, eggplant and capsicum
    • vegetable “noodles” made from zucchini
    • kelp or shirataki noodles

Finally, I prefer using Pecorino Romano instead of Parmesan (or Parmigiano Reggiano) but you can use whichever hard cheese you prefer.

Supercharged Bolognese

  • Servings: 4 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Bolognese

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 500gr beef mince with organs
  • 200gr speck or bacon, cut in stripes
  • 10gr dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, white part finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine or beef broth
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
  • small handful of basil leaves, thinly sliced

To serve

  • your choice of vegetables or regular pasta substitute (see suggestions above)
  • freshly grated Pecorino Romano or other hard cheese

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pot or pan. Brown mince and speck/bacon.
  2. While meat cooks, place mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with hot water. When soft (5-8 minutes), drain but don’t discard the water. Chop mushrooms finely.
  3. Once meat is cooked, add onion, garlic, carrot, celery and leek. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add wine/broth and stir until almost fully evaporated.
  5. Add mushrooms and their water, tomatoes, bay leaf, season with 1 tsp salt and greshly ground pepper. Lower heat and cover cooking vessel. Cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Turn off heat, check seasoning and stir in basil.
  7. Serve sauce over vegetables with freshly grated cheese on top.

Recipe: Arctic thyme lamb meatballs with roasted swede mash

I made these lamb meatballs using one of the wonderful Icelandic sea salts I reviewed recently. This artisanal salt is made by mixing Saltverk flaky sea salt with Wild Icelandic Arctic thyme, a plant that grows on gravel soils and in dry heath lands. According to the manufacturer, it pairs well with meat, especially Icelandic lamb.

I did not have access to Icelandic lamb but I figured grass-fed Australian lamb would make a fair substitute. I kept the recipe simple to highlight the flavour of the Arctic thyme sea salt. I chose swedes for the mash as this is one of the few vegetables traditionally used in Icelandic cuisine. The dish does take a bit of time to make if you roast the swedes like I did, but you can shorten the cooking time by steaming them instead.

Arctic thyme lamb meatballs with roasted swede mash

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: easy
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Meatballs


Mash

  • 4 large swedes
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp sea salt

To serve

  • Mixed greens
  • Fresh parsley or chives, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).
  2. Peel and cut swedes in large cubes. Place on a baking tray with 1 tbsp unsalted butter. Bake until tender, about 1 hour (stir the butter once it has melted).
  3. While the swedes cook, mix meatball ingredients and form golf-sized balls. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper or foil.
  4. When the swedes are cooked, remove from oven and rise temperature to 200°C (180°C fan-forced).
  5. Place meatballs in oven and cook for 15-20 minutes.
  6. While the meatballs cook, place swedes in food processor with the rest of the butter and salt. Process until smooth.
  7. Serve meatballs and mash with wilted greens, garnish with parsley or chives.

Recipe: Sudado de pescado (Peruvian steamed fish)

Sudado de pescado can be considered a soup or a stew. I guess it depends on how you serve it: with boiled cassava or with boiled cassava and rice. The verb sudar means “to sweat”… in this context, it means the fish is steamed on top of a bed of onions and tomatoes with a delicious broth.

One of the broth ingredients is chicha de jora, a fermented beverage made from malted maize (corn), commonly used in Peruvian cuisine. It is also served as a drink in many towns in the highlands to children and adults, despite its alcoholic content. Back in the day, the fermentation was kickstarted by chewing the corn kernels and spitting them in a bucket. Thankfully, these days it’s made through a more modern and hygienic process. Taste-wise, it’s similar to apple cider vinegar and plain kombucha. You can buy it from Latin food shops such as Tienda Latina in Ashfield.

Chicha de jora

Sudado de pescado was one of dad’s favourite dishes. I didn’t appreciate it until mum started making it with scallops. The addition of seafood elevates the dish to another level. I asked her for the recipe and she wrote down a paragraph with instructions but no quantities (for a change!). I think I got my version pretty close; dad would have approved.

As you can see below, sudado de pescado is a very simple and healthy dish to make, provided you have the ingredients at hand. I have indicated substitutions and ingredients that can be omitted.

Sudado de pescado

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 white fish fillets
  • 12 scallops (optional)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red onion in thick slices
  • 2 tomatoes in thick slices
  • 1 tbsp ají panca paste (or other red chilli paste, preferably smoked)
  • 1 tbsp ají amarillo paste (or other yellow chilli paste)
  • 3/4 cup chicha de jora (or plain kombucha or a combination of apple cider vinegar and white wine)
  • 1/4 cup fish stock
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) pisco (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 500g frozen cassava, to serve
  • rice or cauliflower rice, to serve (optional)
  • fresh chilli, to serve
  • coriander leaves, to serve

Directions

  1. Boil cassava until tender (25-30 minutes).
  2. While the cassava is cooking, heat oil in a large saucepan at medium heat. Add garlic, onion, tomatoes, ají panca and ají amarillo. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add chicha de jora, stock and pisco (if using) to the saucepan. Place fish on top of vegetables and scallops on top of fish. Season with salt and pepper. Turn down heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain cassava.
  5. Serve sudado with boiled cassava and rice/cauliflower rice (if desired). Garnish with fresh chilli and coriander.

Recipe: Peruvian spiced chicken

I would love to say this is a recipe for pollo a la brasa but that would be a terrible lie. First, I did not use charcoal to cook it and second, traditional pollo a la brasa can be made with no other seasoning than salt and pepper. That’s why I’m calling it Peruvian spiced chicken instead.

A couple of notes about ingredients:

  1. Peruvian dark beer (a.k.a. “malta”) is a bit sweeter than most dark beers here in Australia. I used O’Brien brown ale, which is not only delicious and gluten-free but also similar in taste to Peruvian malta. Feel free to use any dark beer you like.
  2. Ají panca is a dried red Peruvian chilli. In Perú you can buy it whole, ground or in paste. In Australia is more common to find the paste, which can be purchased online or in stores such as Fiji Market in Newtown and Tierras Latinas in Ashfield. I like the brand I bring from home every time I visit, which unfortunately is not available here (pictured below). If you can’t find it (or can’t be bothered), use any chilli paste you like… but don’t call it Peruvian chicken ;).

Finally, Peruvians would typically serve this chicken with chips and “salad” (maybe some iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato). I recommend serving it with your favourite vegetables or a nice salad, for example, this one.

Peruvian spiced chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1/4 cup dark beer (O’Brien gluten-free dark ale recommended)
  • 2 tbsp ají panca paste (or other red chilli paste)
  • 2 tbsp tamari (or other gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/5 tsp rosemary salt (or 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp dried rosemary)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

  1. Mix all marinade ingredients and spread on and in chicken. Let marinate in the fridge for 3-12 hours.
  2. Take chicken out of the fridge and preheat oven to 215°C (185-195°C fan-forced).
  3. Place chicken in cast iron pot or roasting pan and roast for 70-90 minutes. Time will vary depending on the actual temperature of your oven and size of the chicken. Use a brush to baste chicken with the cooking juices approximately at the 45-50 minute mark
  4. Turn off oven and leave chicken inside for another 5-10 minutes.
  5. Serve with vegetables.