#Sweet.. #Cannelini Beans and #Peas

A delicious quick braise with garlic, onions, tomato, olive oil, white wine, lots of black pepper, a can of cannelini beans, some peas, a sprinkling of salt and parsley.

A tasty side and great as an accompaniment if you are trying to cut down carbs but want something a bit susbstantial!

Went well with roasted Brussel sprout and spinach salad.

Fried eggplant and pea curry

This curry is delicious with grilled lamb, fish or chicken or as a main served with dhal, rice and roti for a vegetarian meal.

Frying the eggplant pieces before putting the curry together makes the eggplant melt like butter in your mouth.

Prep time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes

1 large eggplant cut into cubes
1 onion diced finely
1 cup of frozen peas
1 tomato chopped into medium chunks
2 cloves garlic and same quantity of ginger pounded into a paste
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cummin powder
1 tsp cummin seeds
Handful of curry leaves
6-8 tablespoons of vegetable oil
Optional: 2-3 green chillies left whole but split down the middle (remove seeds for milder outcome)
½ cup of water
Handful of chopped coriander to garnish

Place eggplant cubes in a colander and sprinkle with salt, allow to sit for at least 30minutes. This allows draw some of the bitter juices from the eggplant rather than it all going into the curry sauce.

Drain eggplant and pat dry with paper towel before placing in a bowl. Add ½ teaspoon each of turmeric, chilli powder and cummin powder and mix well to coat.
Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat, then add eggplant in batches frying until golden on the outside but not overcooking. Drain eggplant on paper towel and set aside. Repeat until all your eggplant is fried. (The eggplant will absorb oil so you might need to add a tablespoon or so more to fry all the pieces.)

Once eggplant is all fried, wipe pan clean, then add another 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan and heat. Add curry leaves and cummin seeds to the pan and heat through to flavour oil.

Add onion and cook until transparent, then add garlic and ginger paste and fry for 2 minutes. Then add tomato, and the rest of the powered spices (i.e ½ tsp turmeric, ½ tsp chilli powder, ½ tsp cummin powder), the green chillies if using and ¼ cup of water. Cook for 5-8 minutes over medium heat until tomato starts breaking up, adding more water if needed to prevent mixture from sticking to pan.

Add in eggplant pieces and peas and gently mix through the spice mixture. Cook for 2 minutes until peas are cooked to your liking.
Remove from heat, garnish with coriander, serve and enjoy

Pan-fried Scallops on pea purée with crispy proscuitto

Red, white and green. These sweet scallops just pan-fried with a golden brown crust on the bright green pea purée topped with salty, red crispy proscuitto bits are a great Christmas starter or entree. The pea purée can be made ahead of time so it’s easy to assemble just before serving.

Prep time: 30 minutes cooking time: 20 minutes

Pea purée
2 small eschallots finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic finely sliced
2 cups frozen peas defrosted
1/2 cup chicken stock
50g butter or 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and finely crushed black pepper

16-24 scallops (4-6 per person)
Olive oil spray

4-6 slices very thin slices of proscuitto

Pea purée
Heat butter or oil over medium heat
Add eschallots and garlic and sauté gently until soft and transparent
Add defrosted peas and chicken stock, bring to gentle simmer
Cook for maximum 5-7 minutes until peas are tender but still bright green
Add salt and pepper to taste
Process with stick blender or in food processor until purée forms
Pass through a sieve to remove husks, leaving smooth creamy and bright green purée

Put proscuitto in non-stick frying pan and bring up to medium heat to allow fat to render slowly
Fry for 10 minutes or so until proscuitto is really crispy turning up heat slightly if needed but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn

Pat dry each scallop with paper towel
Heat a non-stick pan on high heat, then turn down heat slightly, spray very lightly with olive oil if necessary to ensure non-stick
Add scallops to pan in 2-3 batches
Pan fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden crust forms and scallops are cooked. If too much liquid comes out of scallops, remove scallops from pan, clean pan and then add scallops back to achieve golden colour

Spoon 2 tablespoons pea purée on individual plates
Spread purée with a spoon to form a “strip” on which to place scallops
Place 4-6 scallops on purée
Scatter with crispy proscuitto bits
Serve with a crisp white wine

Durban-style mince and pea Samosas with spring roll pastry

These crispy mince and pea pastry triangles are very different to the more commonly found “Indian” version which has a thick crusty pastry. I am not sure what the origin of this style of pastry is other than this is how they are made by the Indian community in Durban, South Africa and this is how I grew up eating them.

Back then in South Africa with larger households often with dedicated cooks,hours were spent making the crispy pastry from scratch and creating these delicious appetisers for special events or just afternoon tea. When we moved to Australia my mum, Tilly, found the ideal replacement pastry to be spring roll pastry initially found in Chinese and Asian specialty shops but now readily available in mainstream supermarkets.

Fillings can vary between fish, potato and peas, chicken mince curry…but my favouite remains the lamb mince and peas.

All my friends loved coming over to Tilly’s for her freshly made samosas and she has actually been called upon for lessons by some samosa addicts! Here’s the recipe with some hopefully helpful photos to help with the fiddliest part which is folding the triangles.

Prep Time: 1.5-2hours Cooking time: 15 minutes

400g lean lamb or beef mince
1 cup frozen peas
1 onion very finely diced
1.5 tsp ginger and garlic pounded into paste
1 tspn turmeric
1 tspn garam masala
1/2 tspn cummin powder
3/4 tspn chilli powder
1/2 tomato finely diced
Handful of coriander very finely chopped
1 piece cinnamon bark
1 tspn cummin seeds
Handful of fresh curry leaves
1.5 tbspn vegetable oil
1/2 cup water

1 pack spring roll pastry in square sheets
Pastry “glue: 2 tspns flour mixed with 3tspns water to make a thick flour glue in a seperate bowl.

Heat oil in a large saucepan, add cinnamon bark, cummin seeds and curry leaves and fry briefly until fragrant and curry leaves have spotte “spitting”
Add onions and fry until translucent
Add ginger and garlic, turmeric, garam masala, cummin powder, chilli powder and mix through onions and warm through
Add mince to brown and mix thoroughly with onions and spices, breaking up all lumps of mince using the back of a fork.
When mince is totally separated and browned, add tomato, salt and coriander.

Break up all lumps with the back of a fork as you mix through onion spice mixture, over medium heat.
Break up all lumps with the back of a fork as you mix through onion spice mixture, over medium heat.

Add water and Simmer over medium heat, stirring regularly for 35 minutes until mince is cooked and has absorbed the flavour of the spices…you are aiming quite a dry mixture with no “sauce” so limit the amount of water you add.

Add tomato, coriander and water to mince mixture and simmer for 35 minutes.
Add tomato, coriander and water to mince mixture and simmer for 35 minutes.

Add frozen peas and allow to defrost and par-cook for 3-4 minutes
Remove from heat and allow to cool totally,for at least an hour before using
At the same time remove spring roll pastry from freezer and bring to room temperature leaving sealed in packet

Allow lamb and pea filling to totally cool
Allow lamb and pea filling to totally cool

Making the pastry triangles

Make your pastry glue, remove the pastry from the packaging and place between slightly damp tea towels to the side of your board or preparation space
Take one sheet of pastry and cut into 3 equal strips

Cut spring roll pastry sheets into 3 equal strips
Cut spring roll pastry sheets into 3 equal strips

Place a teaspoon full of mixture within 4-5cm from the top edge, turn the top edge of the pastry turning the right corner over to the left edge, over the filling to create a triangular pocket where the newly created right corner is completely “closed so the filling can’t fall out.

Turn the right hand edge to the left edge, over the top of 1 tspn of filling, enclosing filling, pushing it all in if needed and creating a triangular pocket. Make sure your right corner here is enclosed ...no hole for filling to escape from!
Turn the right hand edge to the left edge, over the top of 1 tspn of filling, enclosing filling, pushing it all in if needed and creating a triangular pocket. Make sure your right corner here is enclosed …no hole for filling to escape from!

This is the most important step to get right because you will then easily be able to turn the triangle over and over until you get to the end and can seal up the pastry with your glue.

Different stages of
Different stages of “turning” the pastry with filling to get to end of the strip, use glue along the way as required.

If you do find gaps or pastry overlaps along the way, use your glue to seal up the edges to craete a fully enclosed triangle. Spring roll pastry is quite “hardy” so don’t be afraid of it and as they say practice makes perfect so if might take a few attempts before you get the hang of it. Makes 24-36 small samosas.

Ready for fridge or freezer, fry before serving
Ready for fridge or freezer, fry before serving

You can freeze the samosas or Refrigerate for an hour or so to allow glue to seal before shallow frying in vegetable oil over medium heat until golden brown on each side. If frying directly from frozen, then you will want to lowe the heat slightly to allow the filling to defrost and heat through. One golden brown, place on kitchen paper towel to absorb oil. They really need to be served hot and crispy for best enjoyment. Delicious dipped in plain yoghurt or spicy chilli sauce for extra bite!

Durban-style mince and pea samosas with spring roll pastry
Durban-style mince and pea samosas with spring roll pastry

Cauliflower and Pea Curry

A fabulous accompaniment for spicy lamb cutlets or just as good with red lentil dhal and some freshly cooked basmati rice. This classic Indian dish has many variations and this one is a simple South Indian flavoured version with curry leaves and cummin seeds.

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 25 minutes

Half a head of a small cauliflower cut into small florets
1 cup frozen peas
1 onion finely diced
1/2 tomato chopped
3 cloves garlic and equal amount of ginger ground together into paste
1 tbspn cummin seeds
1 cinnamon stick (preferably cinnamon bark)
1/2 tspn turmeric
1 tsp cummin powder
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tbspn vegetable oil
Handful of fresh curry leaves
Handful of coriander leaves chopped for garnish
Salt to taste

Heat oil in heavy based pot over medium heat
Add cinnamon bark, cummin seeds, curry leaves and heat until fragrant
Add onions and cook slowly over low-medium heat until transparent
Add ginger and garlic paste and mix through onions
Add cummin powder, turmeric and chilli powder and cook spices with onions for 1 minute taking care not to burn
Add tomato, mixing through onions and spices until heated through and starting to break up, add half a cup of water if necessary.
Add cauliflower and another half cup water and simmer over low heat until almost tender. (About 10-15 minutes)
Add salt to taste
Add peas and cook for 3-5 minutes until tender but still bright green
Garnish with chopped coriander
Serve with rice

Serves 4 as a main with rice or 6 as an accompaniment.