mushroom soup

Meat free Mondays doesn’t have to be boring nor tasteless. With a few simple ingredients and beautiful fresh produce, you can enjoy a flavourful vegetarian dish, without feeling you have missed out on life.
By building a strong foundation, adding the right spices and umami for richness, you can create a sensational meal.
Mushrooms are a rich, low calorie source of protein, fiber and antioxidants and may reduce the risk of developing serious health conditions, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
This soup has a strong, earthy taste and smell with beautiful umami flavour from the shitake mushrooms and soy sauce. It is creamy and comforting with a complex texture.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
2 leeks, halved and sliced
2t garlic, crushed
250g button mushrooms, sliced, halved & quartered
150g shitake mushrooms, halved, sliced & quartered
200g brown mushrooms, sliced
1/3C soy sauce
6 thyme stalks, leaves only + extra for garnish
3C chicken stock
1t paprika
1/2t smoked paprika
1/2C cream
2T olive oil
2T butter
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
creme fraiche, optional

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and butter and sauté the onion until glossy. Add the leeks & garlic and cook for a further two minutes while stirring.
Add the mushrooms, stir to coat and then add the paprika and cook for two minutes while stirring.
Pour the stock and soy sauce into the pot followed by the thyme.
Stir and bring the mixture to the boil. Turn the temperature down to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until the mushrooms are fork tender.
Remove the pot from the heat and using a stick blender, puree only half of the soup. Taste and season with salt & black pepper.
Return the pot to the heat and stir in the cream. Cook for 5 more minutes on a low heat.
Stir the chopped parsley through the soup.

Serve warm with a dollop of creme fraiche, additional black pepper and thyme leaves.

braised beef short rib with mushrooms

I am very passionate about stews and casseroles so generally look for any excuse to cook another rich, hearty one pot. (Not that i ever need an excuse to cook anything!)
Good quality meat is the perfect start to any good stew or casserole followed, of course, by fresh vegetables and drinkable red wine. I always buy good quality boxed red wine and keep it in my pantry. It lasts much longer than bottled red wine, making it cost effective.
These dishes need a lot of love and patience, which is all worth it once you lift the lid and sniff the wonderful aroma of slow cooked meat, garlic, herbs and red wine.
Short rib is a fairly inexpensive cut of meat and is beautiful served on its own in portions or pulled in a beefy BBQ sauce or use the pulled meat for a short rib pie in a puff crust.
If this kind of food does not do something for your soul, i really am not sure what will.

ingredients | serves 6 | a little effort
2kg beef short rib (portioned by your butcher)
5T plain flour
200g bacon, diced
1 punnet (250g) button mushrooms, halved
3 stalks rosemary, leaves only
1 garlic head, halved
2 medium carrots, grated
3 leeks, diced
1 large white onion, chopped
3 celery ribs, diced
2T tomato paste
1t salt
1t black pepper
3T olive oil plus extra for browning meat
2T butter
600ml drinkable red wine
2C beef stock
1T brown sugar

how to do it
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
Dredge the meat in the flour and shake off any excess. Heat about four tablespoons of olive oil in a large oven proof skillet and brown the meat in batches until it has a beautifully coloured crust. Set aside.
Add the bacon to the skillet and cook until browned and crispy. Set aside.
In the same skillet, melt the three tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter. Sauté the chopped onion until glossy. Add the garlic and press it down, releasing the garlic flavour into skillet.
Add the grated carrot, diced leeks & celery and stir. Add the tomato paste and allow this to cook for about one minute.
Add the brown sugar, salt & pepper and stir to combine.
Pour the red wine into the skillet and allow to cook for about five minutes. Now pour the stock into the pot, add the bacon and the short rib and bring the mixture to the boil.
Cover the skillet with a tight fitting lid or tin foil and carefully place in into the preheated oven to cook for 2.5 – 3 hours until the short rib is soft and almost falling off the bone. Meanwhile, heat butter and olive oil in a pan and fry the mushrooms until just cooked. Set aside.

If you prefer a smooth sauce like i do, remove the meat from the skillet and strain the sauce through a sieve. Press the garlic out into the sauce. Pour the sauce back into the skillet and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce until thickened. Add the meat and mushrooms to the skillet and gently simmer for about five minutes to heat through.
Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve with smooth, garlicky mashed potatoes.

If you prefer to keep the sauce in its natural form, simply remove the garlic head, press the garlic out into the sauce and do not strain. Follow steps as above.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x

dinner for one – creamy chicken pasta

i sometimes have to cook for myself only and this can prove to be quite challenging. however, since i do some meal prep when i have the opportunity, things are simplified. whenever i buy chicken breast, i buy in bulk. this way i can cook a meal for lunch or dinner and roast the remaining breasts for future meals. and this is exactly how it played out last night. i had thawed a chicken breast overnight and turned it into a very easy, delicious pasta. my favourite staple.

ingredients | serves 2
1 cooked chicken breast, sliced or chopped
linguine pasta, cooked according to package instructions
4tbs butter
drizzle olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2c mushrooms, sliced
1tsp fresh thyme leaves (or dry if you don’t have fresh thyme)
1/4c white wine
1/2c chicken stock
1/2c cream
black pepper
pinch chilli flakes
fresh parsley, torn
parmesan cheese
truffle oil (optional)

in a skillet, heat the butter & olive oil and sauté the onion & garlic together until translucent. add the mushrooms to the onion mixture, stir through and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. add the white wine and reduce by half. add the thyme leaves, chilli flakes, chicken & chicken stock and cook until reduced by a little more than half. taste and season with salt & pepper.
(meanwhile, cook the pasta.)
stir the cream through the mushroom mixture and reduce until thickened. add 1/2 (half) a ladle of the pasta water to the chicken & mushroom mixture and stir through. tip the drained pasta into the mixture and mix through until combined.
top with the fresh parsley and grated or shaved parmesan and a few drops of truffle oil.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x

truffled mushroom & ricotta strudel

pastry is another of my secret love affairs and this one really made me smile. if you love mushrooms, cheese and the nutty taste of truffle then this is definitely a recipe you need to try. it is easy and will most certainly wow your guests. as a side dish it will pair really well with almost any meat dish, especially steak and served on its own i will add a fresh green salad to it. beautifully golden with loads of filling oozing out. flaky, cheesy, garlicky goodness.

ingredients |
1 roll puff pastry, room temperature
1 egg, beaten
2tbs olive oil
4tbs butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g mushrooms, sliced & quartered (i used black and button mushrooms)
130g ricotta cheese
1tbs fresh thyme leaves
good pinch of salt
black pepper
few drops truffle oil
handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped

preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
heat butter & oil in a large skillet. sauté the onion & garlic until glossy – about 3 minutes. add the mushrooms and fry until just cooked. add the thyme to the skillet, stir through and cook for about two minutes. season with salt & pepper and drizzle a few drops of truffle oil over the mixture. gently stir the parsley through. tip the mixture into a colander and leave to drain excess moisture while cooling down.
on a floured surface, roll out pastry. using a spatula, spoon and spread the ricotta cheese over the middle of the pastry. season with a pinch of salt & black pepper.
spoon the cooled mushroom mixture over the ricotta. gently roll the pastry over, creating a log and ensure the seam is at the bottom. pinch the sides to close and seal.
using a sharp knife, make diamond shaped incisions in the pastry without cutting all the way through. brush the pastry with the beaten egg. place the strudel into the oven and bake for about 25 – 30 minutes or until nicely browned and flaky.
leave to cool for about 6 minutes before cutting.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x

Creamy paprika chicken pancakes

Pancakes are so easy to make and the batter can be made a day ahead, saving you time. Every day life is a rat-race and especially with children so having the ability to whip up a quick, tasty meal that also the kids will love, is an important factor for many parents out there!! All elements can be made ahead to be baked the next day. And the marinara sauce freezes really well! Too lazy to make marinara sauce? The store bought kind works just as well!!
You can prepare the whole dish and leave it in the fridge until the next day. Then simply top it with the sauce & cheese and bake.

Ingredients (Makes 5 large pancakes)
Pancake batter
1 C Flour
1 C Milk
2 Eggs
1/4 Tsp salt
1 Tsp Baking powder
Sift the dry ingredients together. Add the milk and eggs and mix well with a hand held blender.
Heat a little oil in a shallow pan and spray pan with non-stick spray. Pour approximately 1/4 C of the batter into the pan and swirl to coat pan. Cook for about 3 minutes. Turn and cook for a further 30 seconds. Turn out onto a plate and repeat.
For the filling
2 Tbs Olive oil
2 Tbs Butter
2 Chicken breasts, cut into blocks
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 Shallot onion, chopped
125g Button mushrooms, sliced
2 Tsp Paprika
1/2 Tsp Red pepper flakes (optional)
Black pepper
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
50ml Cream
5 Tbs Creme fraiche
2 C grated cheddar cheese (1 Cup is for the topping)
Coat chicken with the paprika. Heat oil & butter in a pan, saute onion garlic for 2 minutes and add chicken. Cook for 2 minutes and add mushrooms, pepper flakes, salt & pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the cream and parsley, stir through and simmer for 2 minutes. Set aside.
Marinara Sauce
1 Small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
Tsp Dried oregano
1 Can chopped tomato
5 Whole tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbs Brown sugar
1/2 Tsp salt
Black pepper
1/4 Tsp chili flakes
Fresh basil leaves, torn
Saute onion & garlic in a little olive oil until translucent. Add the canned tomato and fresh tomato, brown sugar, oregano, salt, pepper and chilli flakes, and simmer for approximately half hour. Add the basil leaves and stir through. Using your hand held blender, blend until just smooth.

Preheat oven to 190 degrees. Butter an ovenproof dish.
Coat half the pancake with 1 Tbs creme fraiche. Spoon filling on top followed by grated cheese. Roll neatly and place into an ovenproof dish. Repeat with the remaining pancakes and filling. Pour half of the marinara sauce over the pancakes. (Freeze the rest for next time!)
Top with the grated cheddar cheese and bake for 15 minutes.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x