Archive | March, 2013

Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Rocket Cakes

19 Mar


Well, well, well… B has had her annual trip down to Melbourne, and it was great to see her.

We ate many meals at restaurants… and in fact I think I am STILL full from going to The Abyssinian, but we did cook ourselves a few healthy meals. After seeing B’s quinoa stuffed squash, I was inspired to try some more quinoa recipes.

This recipe is a ripper if you want a healthy go-to meal for the week, to take as lunches, and to fill in busy night dinners. As it makes loads. It would also work well as a vegetarian option for a BBQ.

What you will need…


Sweet potato, quinoa, celery, carrot, onion, garlic, olive oil, rocket (arugula), egg, breadcrumbs, paprika, and lots of salt and pepper for seasoning.


We started by chopping up the sweet potato, you want the equivalent of two medium sized potatoes. They were steamed them until they were soft and then mashed in a large bowl, mixing in some chopped rocket at the end.


Then we chopped put the onions, celery, carrot and garlic and sautéed them until softened. We added in the garlic, quinoa, paprika and some water, and cooked it down. It reminded me of making a risotto, I may even try this recipe using stock instead of water next time. We cooked it until the quinoa was tender and the liquid was absorbed.


We whisked up egg with some salt and pepper… don’t hold back… it was great with a few good pinches of sea salt.


We mixed it all together along with the bread crumbs we made by roughly blitzing a couple of slices of rye bread in the blender.


After letting the the mix cool down a little and forming some patties, they went in to a hot oven and let them bake for around 35 minutes. They were a little crisped on the outside, and still soft on the inside.


Served on a bed of rocket, with some plain yoghurt and mint atop, delicious!

Our ingredients made about 18 patties, perfect for left overs.



1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion or equivalent, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups quinoa
2 1/2 cups of water
2 Tbs sweet paprika
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, diced and steamed
1 1/2 cups rocket (arugula), chopped roughly
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup rye or wholemeal bread crumbs (around two slices)
generous sea salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
Sauté the onions with the carrot and celery until soft, then add the garlic, quinoa, water and paprika and cook until quinoa is tender, and the liquid is well absorbed.Mash the steamed sweet potato with the rocket, and then add the quinoa mixture and all remaining ingredients.When cool enough to handle, make patties around the size of the palm of your hand, and place on a baking paper lined baking tray.Bake until the outside of the patty is a little crisped or browned, around 35-40 minutes.Serve with a dollop of plain yoghurt, a little mint, and a salad made of rocket.


Pork Roast with Winter Fruits and Port Sauce (Dinner Party – part 2)

7 Mar

No dinner party is complete without a showcase dish. And this pork roast was just that dish. Pork roast with a fruit stuffing, wrapped in bacon and drizzled with a port wine sauce.

Plated Roast

Don’t be intimidated by this recipe, as it looks far more difficult than it actually is. It’s not a super speedy recipe, but I think any of my dinner party guests would agree with me in saying that it was well worth the wait.

First I made the filling. Chop dried apricots and prunes into small squares. Add them to a small saucepan with some of the port and cover. Let it simmer for five minutes and then sit off the heat for another 10 minutes to absorb the liquid, all the while covered.


In a large skillet or dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and shallot to the butter and saute until softened, about five minutes. Then add the chopped apple, along with some salt and pepper and let it cook for another five minutes, until the apple is tender.

apples and onions.1

Add the port and fruit mixture to the onion and apple mixture and mix thoroughly. Let this mixture cool before stuffing it into the pork roast.

Fruit stuffing

I bought a very large boneless pork loin roast and cut it into three manageable chunks. Then cut a pocket through the middle of the roast – slicing a 1 1/2 inch slice through the center of the roast lengthwise, then cutting a slit up and down to make a cross shape which made the pocket expandable.

Pork loin roast

Pork pocket

I salted and peppered the roast on all sides and once the stuffing was cool, I stuffed it into the pocket I had just made. I got in there with my spoon and got as much stuffing as I could fit into each of the pieces. Be aware that it is a little messy and the filling won’t all stay inside. Save the leftover stuffing for later to make a sauce to pour over the top.


Once the roast is stuffed, place it fat side down in the baking dish (do as I say, not as you can see I did in my photos) and lay a few slices of bacon across the roast. Bacon makes most things better! Especially pork.

Pork squared

Place the roast into a preheated oven. It starts off quite hot – up to 500° F/260° C for 20 minutes, before it’s turned down to 325° F/160° C. Make sure you place the pan into the center of the oven, or you too may have smoke billowing through your house.

Let it roast for about 1 1/2 hours before checking it with a meat thermometer.

After pulling it out of the oven, let it rest under a foil tent for 15 minutes before slicing it up. This allows the juices to redistribute themselves throughout the meat, so you can avoid having a dry roast.


While the roast is resting, you can proceed with the directions in the recipe for the sauce OR you can do as I did and just pour the rest of the bottle of port into the sauce pan with the leftover stuffing and let it cook down and thicken up a bit. It is wonderful poured over the slices of pork roast. I dished it up into a gravy boat and placed it on the table for people to add as desired.

Once the pork has rested for at least 15 minutes, you can carve the roast into thick slices and place on a large serving platter and serve to your very hungry dinner guests.


Kate, the master carver

Pork Roast with Winter Fruits and Port Sauce
(adapted from Gourmet | December 2008)
by Ruth Cousineau
Yield: Makes 8 servings

For stuffing:

1/4 pound California dried apricots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 pound pitted prunes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2/3 cup ruby Port
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tart apple such as Granny Smith, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For roast:

1 (6-pound) pork loin roast, at room temperature 1 hour
9 or 10 bacon slices

For port sauce (optional):

1/2 cup ruby Port
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups water, divided
2 teaspoons arrowroot

Make stuffing:

Simmer apricots, prunes, and Port in a small heavy saucepan, covered, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.

Cook onion and shallot in butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add apple and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until apple is just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in apricot mixture and cool.

Stuff and roast pork:

Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in middle.

Make a pocket in center of roast by making a horizontal 1 1/2-inch-wide cut into 1 end of roast with a long thin knife, repeating from opposite end so pocket runs all the way through. Then make a vertical cut through center (forming a cross) to widen pocket. Push about 1 cup stuffing into pocket using a long-handled wooden spoon (you may need to stuff from both sides if roast is long). Reserve remaining stuffing for sauce.

Season roast with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and put in a large flameproof roasting pan. Wrap with bacon,  tucking ends under roast. Roast pork 20 minutes, then reduce oven to 325°F and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted 2 inches into center of roast registers 155°F, 1 1/2 hours total.

Transfer roast to a cutting board, reserving pan, and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 15 to 20 minutes. (Temperature of meat will rise to about 160°F; meat will be slightly pink.)

Make sauce (optional):

Skim fat from pan drippings and reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons fat. Straddle pan across 2 burners and add Port to drippings, then deglaze pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.

Cook shallot in reserved fat in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in pan juices, 1 1/4 cups water, and reserved fruit stuffing and bring to a simmer. Whisk together arrowroot and remaining 1/4 cup water until smooth, then whisk into sauce with any juices from cutting board.

Simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Carve roast into thick slices, serve with sauce.

Thanks again to Kyle Krohn for the great photos!!

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