best beef burger

This one’s a winner. For the best burger around, look no further.
Family celebrations, noise and chaos, good food, a few Portuguese/Afrikaans swear words, sneaky sips of granny’s Tia Maria and dreams of buying an island where all our extended family retire to… These are a few of my favourite things.

My big cousin Slade was over for a visit from South Africa and he kindly shared this recipe with me. I haven’t laughed that much in a long time. And Mrs Ball’s Chutney! Many memories from when I was younger are defined by boerewors and braai’s and always a bottle of Mrs Balls. Thank goodness that local shops here in Oz have a South African section that sells it. If you’ve never tried it… well, it’s the best balls in town!

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Ingredients:

serves 4-6 people

  • burger buns
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 2 stalks of spring onions
  • 1/2 yellow capsicum
  • Mince and BBQ Spice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 red cabbage (finely chopped)
  • 2 carrots (finely chopped)
  • cheddar cheese
  • 100g rocket
  • 8 gherkins
  • honey mustard mayo
  • tangy mayo
  • Mrs Ball’s Chutney

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Method:
Finely chop the spring onion and yellow pepper and mix into 500g of lean beef mince, along with 1 egg.
Sprinkle in a heaped teaspoon of Mince and BBQ Spice. Mix well.
Shape into large flat patties (about the size of your palm) and cook on a medium heat in a frying pan. (Cooking time takes about 4-5min each side of the patty)
While the patties are cooking, finely chop up the red cabbage and carrot, adding a table spoon of mayonnaise (or yoghurt for a healthier version) and a teaspoon of BBQ spice. Mix well.
Spread the mustard and mayo mixture onto the base of your bun and then layer on some rocket and sliced gherkins.

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chargrilled

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Birthday’s are for CELEBRATING! It was my aunt’s birthday this past week and to celebrate her all round coolness, I cooked a lunch for her and a few friends. Theme?

hot, sexy, smoky and straight off the chargrill.

With these words in mind, I created a wholesome warm winter salad:

Chargrilled chicken and chorizo, tossed into paprika spiced pearl cous-cous with roasted med veg and fresh mint.

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Photo by Paul Stone

Serves 4-6 people

Preheat oven to 200’C

  • 400g chicken breast

(preferably marinated over night in olive oil, rosemary and garlic)

  • 2 chorizo sausages, sliced
  • 2 cups pearl cous-cous
  • 1 large red capsicum
  • punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 2 red onions
  • handful kalamata olives
  • small block feta cheese
  • handful toasted almond slivers
  • mint, parsley, garlic, chilli
  • paprika, salt and pepper

Method:

  • Chop the onion and capsicum into rough chunks, place in a baking tray with the whole cherry tomatoes, drizzle over some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and roast in the oven at 200’C for about 20min.
  • Start cooking the pearl cos-cous with seasoning and a dash of paprika (follow the instructions on the packet)
  • In the griddle pan fry up the chorizo sausages with sliced chilli and garlic (cut 4 cloves of garlic into quarters). Once cooked, set aside.
  • Turn up the heat and when your griddle pan is nice and hot, sear the chicken breast until they turn a golden colour and are marked with chargrill lines. Place in a baking tray.
  • Take out your veggies and lower the heat to 180’C. Place the seared chicken into the oven and leave there for about 10min, or until cooked (depending on its thickness). This is the best way to keep your chicken juicy and tender!
  • While your chicken is cooking, grab a large flat serving platter and pour in the cous-cous. Layer it with veggies and chorizo.
  • Let the chicken rest for a minute or two and then slice into large pieces, placing it onto the veggies.
  • Crumble in the feta, scatter over the olives and sprinkle in the fresh herbs.
  • Drizzle of olive oil and balsamic, season to taste, crusty fresh bread and BHAM! Every birthday girl’s dream come true.

Jamie’s Italian

This is the place where it all began! I like to think that Mr Jamie and I share a kitchen – it’s a kitchen full of pots and pans, sliced chilli and roast garlic, chargrilled steak cooked ‘al Mattone,’ Italian swear words, Kahlua drenched tiramisu, hand made bocconcini, the best prosciutto, constantly smelling of Sausage Ragu or dark chocolate fudge brownies or red onion or flame cooked chicken. Late-night, after close-down dancing to Michael Jackson in the office, fake tattoos (an attempt to fit in with the other chefs), cut fingers, coffee and more coffee and ultimately one of the most incredible years of my life. It all began three years ago when I arrived at Jamie’s Italian, Sydney, bright eyed and hopeful, flirted with the manager and convinced him that I was the Naked Chef’s number-one fan and promptly got hired as a waitress at one if the busiest, passion filled, master food restaurant’s in Sydney.

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To everyone I’ve had the pleasure of working with (and to my big bosses and head chefs): Thank you for letting me into the kitchen. Thank you for (mostly) answering all my questions, thank you for giving me, and Ceire’s Kitchen, a chance!

Here’s to the next thirty years working with Jamie Oliver!

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winter salad

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It’s winter and it’s cold outside, but that ain’t going to stop me from eating one of the best foods in the world: salad. I’ve got tomato, eggplant and rocket in the garden, capsicum and feta in the fridge. Standing next to the oven is one of the warmest places in my house, so an excuse to use it is gladly welcomed. You might think that roasted vegetables on cold leafy greens wouldn’t work, but believe you me it works a treat and some recipes coming over the next few weeks will show you just how!

Ingredients:
serves 4
Preheat oven 200’C
  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • 1 large red capsicum
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 lebanese eggplants
  • sprinkle of herbs (whatever is going: thyme/rosemary/oregano)
  • 200g rocket and baby spinach
  • small block feta
  • handful pan roasted sunflower seeds
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Method:
  • Slice the tomatoes into quarters, de-seed capsicum and cut into similar sized pieces.
  • Slice the eggplants into 1cm thick round pieces.
  • Put all veg in a baking tray, drizzle over 2 tablespoons of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle in the herbs. Roast for 20-30 min.
  • Layer veg over leafy greens, sprinkle in feta and toasted seeds.
  • Enjoy with a glass of shiraz and a roast chicken!

hazelnut praline

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Even though I like to think of myself as the Salad Queen who is super passionate about home grown vegetables and has the hope of starting a salad revolution by changing the world one carrot at a time…. Truth is: we all need to cut ourselves some slack and indulge in the ‘less holier foods. Right?

Last week at cooking school we learnt how to make hazelnut and almond praline which was the base of our profiterole cakes! (Profiterole is what the fancy French call choux à la crème and it’s basically a choux pastry ball filled with sweetened vanilla cream. Otherwise known as heaven in your mouth – your hips will love it too.)

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I saw a cool YouTube video where The Food Busker makes an Affogato using a hazelnut praline. As it’s a way easier desert than choux pastry – I though I would post a link to his video and the praline recipe below!

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 3 TBS water
  • 50 g toasted nuts (almonds and hazelnuts)
  • a small squeeze of lemon juice

Method:

  • Place the sugar, lemon juice and water in a pot, on medium heat.
  • As the pot heats up, swirl it a little, making sure all the sugar crystals are covered by the water.
  • Cook until it starts to colour around the edges. Swirl the pot to stop the sugar burning and gather up any unmelted sugar crystals (about 6-8 minutes.)
  • Don’t stir the pot!
  • Watch it carefully and when it turns a dark golden brown, add the nuts
  • Pour quickly onto a tray prepared with baking paper and careful – it sets very fast!
  • Spread it thinly and evenly. DO NOT TOUCH!
  • Let it cool completely before breaking into shards, to top off your Affogato!

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