Hot Dogs

You know how sometimes, you just feel like a hot dog or four? It’s nice when you can cycle down to the shops and get the ingredients to fulfil that craving right away. I never buy hot dogs – they’re not all that readily available as fast food, being much more of an American thing. I have no idea what Americans put in their hot dogs, so perhaps it would be best to term this an Australian hot dog.

So, hop down to the shops and get yourself some frankfurts. May I suggest that you don’t get the super cheap Bi-Lo frankfurts, as we did, because they had a bit of an ikky chemical aftertaste, which hit only after you’d consumed them and they were making the exciting trip through your digestive system.

Once you’ve made the decision on frankfurts, grab some hot dog buns, bacon, onion and cheese, and head home again.

Boil the frankfurts, and while they’re heating, fry the bacon and onion together. Grate some cheese. Slice the buns in half and assemble the hot dogs thus: frankfurt, onion, strip of bacon and grated cheese. Put the assembled hot dogs on a tray and pop them under the grill until the cheese is melted and the bun is crispy. Decorate artistically with swirls of tomato sauce, and eat immediately.

Zucchini and Carrot Slice

I love quiche, but can rarely be bothered to make pastry to accompany it, so an egg slice is a nice easy compromise. This is the first recipe in here that I’ve invented myself, judging amounts roughly from the times I’ve made similar dishes from recipes. It worked out perfectly – extremely simple, incredibly fast to make (the perfect weeknight dinner) not overly oily, light, fluffy, and a lovely mixture of vegetables. I’m still taking it to work for lunch.

2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup grated carrot
1 onion, diced
kernels from one raw cob of corn
1 cup grated cheese
5 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup self-raising flour

Pre heat the oven to 180C.

Mix all the ingredients firmly in a large bowl. Lightly grease, if necessary, a rectangular tin, and pour the eggy mixture in.

Bake for about 35 minutes.

Angela's Stolen Pork Spare Ribs

This is another recipe from Angela (stolen from her ex-husband) which she said I had to try as it produced the most amazingly tender ribs. I don’t actually like pork much – I like ham and bacon, but don’t enjoy pork roast or chops at all. But I remember enjoying spare ribs when I was younger, so I thought I’d give it a try. The butcher had a special on when I made this, so I actually bought 2 kilos of spare ribs, which would have comfortably served 6 people. Angela was right – they’re gorgeously tender, and I enjoyed the sweet tanginess of the sauce. I’d had enough of pork by the end of the night, but they were delicious regardless.

2 kilos of pork spare ribs
1 cup tomato sauce (ketchup)
a few dashes tobasco sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 teaspoons mustard powder (
I used wholegrain mustard)
1/4 cup honey

Put the ribs in a large pot, cover them with water, and boil them gently for 1 1/2 hours. Your kitchen, and in fact your entire house, will begin to smell like pork.

Drain the ribs well, allow to cool, and trim off any excess fat.

Preheat the oven to 190C. In a large bowl, mix together the tomato sauce, tobasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and honey. Very lightly grease a large baking tray.

Dip each rib in the sauce, and coat well. When all the ribs are packed onto the baking tray, drizzle any excess sauce over the ribs.

Bake for 20 minutes, and serve immediately. There you have it – gorgeously crispy and tender ribs.

Cream and Bacon Gnocchi

This recipe is from the lovely and delightful Angela. I was a little unsure about it, especially when I plopped the gluggy from-a-packet gnocchi into the sauce, but I suppose a certain glugginess is in the nature of gnocchi, and it went well with the creaminess of the sauce. It’s a very simple and tasty recipe – definitely in the comfort food category.

olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 onion, diced
6 rashers bacon, diced
3 tablespoons sundried tomato pesto
200ml light cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
500g gnocchi

Heat some oil in a large frying pan, and fry the garlic, onion and bacon until golden. Add the pesto, cream and parmesan cheese, and simmer for a few minutes, until it reduces a little.

Cook the gnocchi in boiling salted water, following the instructions on the packet, until just tender. Drain, and pour the gnocchi into the frying pan with the sance, and stir until coated. Serve immediately.

Broccoli Upside Down Cake

This is one of Clotilde’s recipes, and very delicious it is too. I must say, when I look at the above picture, I don’t find it looks particularly appetising – I prefer my broccoli crisply steamed – but I assure you that it tastes beautiful. The polenta based cake is crisp on the bottom, and the delicious tang of cottage cheese in the mixture goes very well with the broccoli. I was also a little doubtful about the raisins, but they also go nicely with the other ingredients. It’s also very convenient to slice and take to work for lunch, which is always a bonus. I followed the recipe exactly, but shall reproduce it below for convenience’s sake.

one head of broccoli
200 g (3/4 cup) cottage cheese
125 g (1/2 cup) plain yogurt
2 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup polenta
1/2 cup wholemeal or plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
a handful of raisins
a handful of walnuts, toasted and chopped
salt, pepper

Wash the broccoli and cut it into florets. Bring some salted water to a boil in a large saucepan, add in the broccoli and let simmer for 8 minutes, until cooked but not limp. Drain and run cold water on it to stop the cooking. Set aside in a colander to drain thoroughly while you take the next steps.

Preheat the oven to 180°F (360°F). Grease a 20 cm (8-inch) cake pan, unless it’s nonstick.

In a medium mixing-bowl, whisk together the cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs and oil, and sprinkle on salt and pepper. In another medium mixing-bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour and baking powder. Fold the liquid mixture into the dry mixture until just combined (the batter will be thick). Do not overmix, it’s fine if it’s still a little lumpy.

Arrange the cooked broccoli at the bottom of the cake pan. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle on the walnuts and raisins. Pour the batter evenly over the broccoli, and smooth it out a bit with a spatula.

Put into the oven to bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden and crispy. Let rest on the counter for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the pan to loosen the cornmeal crust, cover the pan with a serving plate, and flip quickly (protect your hands with a kitchen towel of course) so the cake lands, broccoli-side up, on the plate.

Cut in wedges, preferably with caution and a sharp knife, so as not to smoosh the broccoli. Serve warm, at room-temperature or cold. Reheat leftovers for ten minutes in the oven if you wish to revive the crispiness of the crust.

Roast Garlic Pasta

This is a delicious recipe from The Daily Bread, which I’ve altered a little, and renamed. It’s a very garlicky pasta dish, and is also fairly oily – in a lovely way, but it mightn’t suit delicate stomachs. Good both warm and cold, this is a wonderfully versatile dish. I can foresee it appearing in many dinner menus in the future.

1/2 cup olive oil
1 head of garlic – excess paper removed
500g small pasta
1 bunch fresh basil
200g bacon
200g Tasmanian feta cheese
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
1 punnet cherry tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 160C. Put the head of garlic in a small heatproof pot – I used a big coffee mug – and pour the olive oil over the top. Bake for about an hour, until it’s golden and soft.

While the garlic’s baking, chop the bacon into small bits and fry until nicely crisp. Set aside. Slice the sundried tomatoes into small pieces, chop the cherry tomatoes into quarters, and roughly chop the basil.

When the garlic is nearly ready, cook the pasta until tender. Pour into a large mixing bowl.

When the garlic is baked, remove it from the oil. Squeeze the soft baked garlic from its cases – it may be easier to slip the cloves free with a fork. Pour the oil over the pasta – if you want the pasta to be less oily, don’t pour the entire amount on. Add the bacon, sundried and cherry tomatoes, and basil. Mix well. Crumble the feta cheese over the pasta, and mix in. Add pepper to taste, and eat immediately.

Leek and Ham Cannelloni

This is the first time I’ve attempted to make cannelloni, and I decided to try after reading a recipe of Rick Stein’s, which this recipe has been rather loosely adapted from. It’s an easy recipe, using fresh lasagne sheets to roll up the filling – very cheesy and satisfying. It is fiddly, wrapping up each individual little roll, and I’ve found it’s much easier with two people – one to dollop on the filling, and the other to roll up the pasta and put it in the tray.

3 leeks, thinly sliced
1 capsicum, chopped into small pieces
A few handfuls of mushrooms, sliced
200g of ham, cut into strips
A handful of fresh oregano, chopped (or a few good shakes of dried herbs – oregano, basil and chilli are good)
About 250g of ricotta or aged cheddar
Salt and pepper
1 pack of fresh lasagne sheets
Bottled tomato pasta sauce
Extra cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 200C. In a large saucepan, melt a little butter, then saute the leeks, capsicum, mushrooms and ham for about 10 minutes, or until it’s reduced down. At this stage, if there’s a little excess liquid, pour it off. Season well, to your taste, and then take off the heat. Stir in the cheese. We used cheddar, but Rick Stein uses ricotta, which would probably give them quite a different texture.

While the leek mixture is cooking, put the lasagne sheets in a deep tray, and soak in boiling water for 5 minutes. Just before you’re reading to begin rolling the cannelloni, transfer the pasta to a plate, tearing the sheets in half. If they begin to stick together while you’re making the pasta, pour a little hot water over them.

Oil a large tray with sides to bake the cannelloni on, and then pour in a reasonable amount of bottled pasta sauce, spreading it evenly around.

In order to prepare the cannelloni, you’ll need the plate with the lasagne sheets, a plate to roll the canneloni on, the leek mixture, and your oiled and tomatoed tray. Tear the lasagne sheets in half. Grab each half-sheet on at a time, and place on your spare plate. Spoon some of the leek mixture along one edge, and roll up the sheet, placing it in the tray. Continue, until you’ve filled your tray, used up all your lasagne sheets, or run out of leek mixture.

Pour a little more pasta sauce into the tray, and spread it generously over the cannelloni. Sprinkle over a little extra cheese, and bake for 20 minutes. Delicious.

Variations are endless, as you can use practically anything for the filling, and change the flavour quite dramatically if you use different cheeses.