Mini eggplant pizzas

eggplant pizzas

I adore eggplant and pizza, so what could be better then combining the two? That’s a rhetorical question… because obviously nothing! The great thing about this recipe is that it’s vegetarian and gluten-free, so really it’ll make everyone happy. You can just use the ingredients in your fridge for the topping – spinach, mushroom, capsicum, etc… I personally love the combination of sour cherry tomatoes with salty black olives. Of course cheese is a must; haloumi, goats cheese, mozzarella, cheddar – the options are endless! Let me know what you top your eggplant pizzas with!

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced
  • olive oil, for brushing
  • 1/4 jar passata sauce
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, chopped into quarters
  • 1/2 jar black pitted olives, sliced in halves
  • mozzarella cheese, grated
  • basil, torn

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Arrange the sliced eggplants onto a tray and brush with olive oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Remove the baked eggplant from the oven. Spread 1 teaspoon of passata sauce over each eggplant then arrange cherry tomatoes, olives, cheese and basil. Place eggplant back in the oven and cook until cheese has melted. Enjoy hot, hot, hot!!

Happy cooking, love Jem x

Homemade ravioli with spinach and ricotta

  

Nothing beats that melt in the mouth beautiful fresh pasta taste. I know I’ve posted a spinach and ricotta ravioli recipe a couple of years back now but this is my “new and improved” and it’s damn delicious… As you can see from the above picture I don’t own a pasta rack so my washing line just had to do haha. This recipe is great for dinner parties or a weekend evening dish for your other half.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 4 eggs

Filling

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 800g ricotta cheese
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 2 egg yolks
  • salt and pepper

Sauce 

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 brown onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 jar passata
  • salt and pepper

Serves 6

Method

To make the dough use your hands to shape the flour into a circular mound and make a well in the centre. Place the eggs in the well and use a fork to lightly whisk. Use your fingertips to gradually blend a little flour into the egg mixture. Working with your fingertips, continue to gradually draw the flour into the centre (being careful the egg mixture does not run out of the well) until the mixture forms a dough. To check if the dough is the right consistency, press a clean, dry finger into the centre of the dough. If it comes out clean without being sticky, it is the right consistency. If not, knead in a little more flour and test again.

Lightly flour the surface if necessary. Firmly knead the dough by using the heel of your hand to firmly push down into it and then away from you. Lift the dough with your fingertips and fold it back on itself towards you. Turn the dough a half turn and repeat. Continue kneading the dough for 6-7 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and set aside for an hour.

To make the filling heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the spinach and toss for 1-2 minutes or just until wilted, then drain well. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much water as possible. Finely chop the spinach, then place in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and stir to combine well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the passata, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and stir for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the passata, salt and pepper and simmer. Reheat just before serving.

Divide the pasta dough into 4 portions, then working with one piece at a time flatten the dough firmly with the heel of your hand on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the pasta several times through the widest setting on a pasta machine and continue feeding it through reducing the settings one notch at time until you come to the second last setting. The pasta should feel silky and smooth. Use a wine glass to cut even circular shapes in the dough.

Start adding a teaspoon of filling to each circle of dough (making sure you don’t add too much filling or the ravioli won’t hold). Wet the outside with a little bit of egg so the dough sticks together. Place another circle dough on the top and press the sides then fork around the edge until the pasta is firmly stuck together.

To cook, carefully drop the ravioli into a large saucepan of lightly salted boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes or until al dente, then pour into a colander and drain well. Transfer the ravioli to a large serving dish, spoon over the hot passata, and top with grated Parmesan. ONE WORD: YUM!

Happy cooking, love Jem x

Mini baked cheesecakes

cheesecake

Do you love cheese and cake? How about combining the two and creating a mouth watering, lick-the-plate kind of dessert… These mini baked cheesecakes are a mixture of a cheesecake and custard tart, and they are damn delicious! They are the perfect dinner party dessert as you can whip them up the night before, store in the fridge and then serve with delicious fruit and of course ice-cream! I’m sure you won’t be able to stop at just one though…

Ingredients

  • 250g plain sweet biscuits
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 500g packets cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can passion fruit pulp and fresh strawberries to serve

Method

Preheat oven to 160°C and line a cupcake tin with baking paper/two cupcake cases.

Crush biscuits until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add butter and mix thoroughly until combined. Press mixture into base of cupcake cases. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Mix the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, vanilla and lemon rind until smooth, then add the eggs. Pour evenly in to each cupcake case. Bake for 30 minutes or until just set. Allow to cool then remove the cheesecakes from cupcake cases and refrigerate overnight.

Serve the cheesecakes with passion fruit pulp, fresh strawberries and a dollop of vanilla bean ice-cream.

Happy baking, love Jem x

Chocolate cheesecake slice

choc cheesecake slice

This no bake cheesecake is packed full of cheese, chocolate and cream – my three favorite c words. I won’t lie, it’s far from healthy but damn does it taste amazing. Besides it’s hump day, treat yourself! The base is crumbly and the top has a chocolate mousse texture and taste to it. This dessert is super simple to make and I vouch the whole family/office/squad will love (unless they’re crazy of course). So go on, get yo fine ass off the sofa tonight and make this devious dessert…then maybe go for a jog in the morning – it’s all about balance though right?

Ingredients

  • 150g arrowroot biscuits, crushed
  • 80g butter, melted
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 120ml whipping cream
  • 150g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 250g cream cheese

Serves 8

Method

Mix the biscuits and butter together with 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Place baking paper in a cake tin and the press down biscuit crumb and refrigerate until hard.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the cooled melted chocolate, then the cocoa powder. Mix well and set aside.

Beat the cream cheese and remaining sugar together. Fold into the cream chocolate mixture and mix until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Spread the mixture on top of the crushed biscuits. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to set and then serve cold with strawberries – YUM!

Happy cooking, love Jem x

Via Napoli – review

zucchini seafood gnocchi

628 Crown St, Surry Hills

Brace yourselves food lovers, Via Napoli is the spot to be (well in the inner city that is).

I recently spent a beautiful evening with my family at Via Napoli and my pallet has been craving the delicious Italian food ever since. We arrived on a Saturday night without a booking (I wouldn’t recommend this though), and were lucky enough to get a table in the packed restaurant. As soon as you walk in you are greeted by warm, friendly Italian staff. This dining experience reminded me of Europe in terms of the authenticity of the waiters, the generous and gorgeous servings, and the hustle and bustle.

The menu is absolutely divine, which made it very hard to choose our dishes to share. We started with the ‘Cuppitiello di fiori di zucca ripieni’ – Zucchini flowers stuffed with buffalo ricotta and pepper. These were by far the best zucchini flowers I’ve demolished – the outside crispy and inside oozing with hot, decadent cheese.

Our next dish was the ‘Grigliata mista di pesce’ – Scampi, prawns and octopus marinated in lemon, olive oil, garlic, and fresh parsley. And oh my lord was every piece of seafood on this beautiful looking board cooked to absolute perfection! The portions were generous (which is everyone’s dream when ordering seafood) and the balance of the marinade, with the crunch of fresh roquette in ones mouth was divine. If you’re a seafood lover, I highly recommend this dish!

The last sharing dish, but certainly not least was the ‘Gnocchi alla sorrentina’ – Homemade gnocchi served with a Neapolitan sauce with melted buffalo mozzarella. Do I need to write anything else? Seriously though this dish will put the best chefs in Italy to shame! Each morsel is a little bite of heaven. The potato is cooked perfectly, the sauce is so fresh you can taste each tomato, and it’s just all round a little orgasm in ones mouth to be completely honest!

The dishes are all very reasonably priced (especially for Sydney), and the overall dining experience makes you feel like you’ve been teleported to Rome. Did I mention they have metre long pizzas too? You should definitely make a booking, especially dining Thursday – Sunday. They have Via Napoli restaurants in Lane Cove and Hunters Hill too.

I rate Via Napoli 5/5.

Happy eating, love Jem x

Cheese, tomato and oregano muffins

cheese muffins

What to bake when you don’t feel like something sweet? Cheese, sun-dried tomato and oregano muffins of course! These little balls of heaven are my new favourite snack; and perfect for brekkie on the go, afternoon tea or for work/school lunches. Using buttermilk instead of regular milk really gives the muffins a soft moist texture. This is a simple recipe and takes no time at all to cook, and hey they taste delicious warm or cold. Spinach and capsicum would also work great with this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 200ml buttermilk
  • 3 tbl olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and diced
  • handful of cheddar cheese, for sprinkling

Makes 10

Method

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Lightly spray a muffin tray with oil or place muffin cases inside.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and oregano together into a large bowl. Stir in cheese.

In a jug combine egg, buttermilk and olive oil.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Add milk and mix lightly until just combined.

Spoon mixture evenly into prepared muffin tray/cases and sprinkle with extra cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked when tested with a knife. Cool in tray for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

Happy baking, love Jem x