Cookbook 169: Lazy Fare

I backed Lazy Fare by Jane Cornes Maclean on Pozible, I love the idea of a cookbook that provides delicious and easy dishes to make. I didn’t know at the time that Jane was a “Award winning writer, ex Gourmet Traveller state editor and self confessed lazy person” (same link as above), which is definitely an added bonus. My correspondence with Jane has been lovely so far, she offered to send me another book to potentially gift to one of my readers, and I’m not really sure how many fans I have (I know of maybe 3), so I declined the kind offer.

The cookbook is a collection of recipes and thoughts on food in all sorts of ways, working in the industry, travelling with food, origins and spread of dishes and ingredients, seasonality and more. I cooked three dishes, one with home grown beetroot, and each was delicious. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. There were some mistakes, and they are totally my responsibility. I’ll mention them as I go along. Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it as a purchase.

Carpaccio of Beetroot (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 100g walnut pieces
  • 500g raw, unpeeled beetroot
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 150g soft goat cheese, refrigerated
  • Flake salt and freshly ground black pepper to serve

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C
  2. Spread walnuts in a single layer on a baking tray and toast until golden brown – about 8 minutes. Remove from the tray and allow to cool a little.
  3. Boil whole, unpeeled beetroot with roots and stringy bits intact for 45 minutes or until tender. (Keeping their bits on until after cooking stops them from bleeding out into the cooking water and helps them retain their deep red colour.)
  4. Allow beetroot to cool a little and then peel.
  5. Using a mandolin (carefully), slice the beetroot into very thin rounds. Arrange on a large platter.
  6. Drizzle with the pomegranate molasses and oil.
  7. Break off small pieces of the cheese and scatter over the beetroot.
  8. Roughly chop the walnuts and scatter over the dish with the chopped parsley.
  9. Sprinkle with the flake salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.

Notes on this recipe:

  • OMG this was so delicious. Very easy to make and delightful to eat with fresh crusty bread.
  • It’s a really great hot weather food, especially as you can prepare the nuts and beetroot ahead of time and come back to it later (like earlier in the morning).
  • Also, this would be a great entertaining dish, it looks so fancy and is very quick to assemble once everything is ready to go.

Roast Pumpkin Ravioli (serves 4 as a starter)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 250g roast butternut pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp smooth ricotta
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 100g grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 tsp cooking salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 pkt dumpling/wonton wrappers
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cooking salt, extra
  • 200g butter
  • handful of fresh sage leaves, stems removed

Method:

  1. In a heavy-based pan, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter and gently fry the onion until it is soft and beginning to turn golden – about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  3. Peel the skin from the roast pumpkin and remove any seeds or lacy bits remaining.
  4. In a bowl, mash together the pumpkin, cooked onion mixture, ricotta, lemon juice, nutmeg, half of the parmesan, the salt and some grinds of black pepper.
  5. Place a clean tea towel on your workbench, sprinkle with the flour (I used baking paper)
  6. Lay eight dumpling wrappers on the tea towel. Place a teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture into the middle of the wrapper, being sure to keep the filling away from the sides of the wrapper.
  7. In a cup, whisk the egg with a fork. Brush the edges of each wrapper with this egg wash.
  8. Now place another wrapper on top and, gently, press down around the pumpkin mixture, removing as much air as possible and sealing the ravioli. (Any air left inside will expand when cooking and may break open the ravioli)
  9. Line a tray with baking paper and arrange the completed ravioli on the paper, in a single layer and not touching each other. Top with another piece of baking paper.
  10. Lay another eight wrappers on the floured tea towel and repeat the process, laying the completed ravioli on the baking paper.
  11. At this stage you can freeze your ravioli on the tray for later use, emptying them into plastic bag once frozen.
  12. To cook the ravioli, bring a large pot of water to the boil, adding a teaspoon of cooking salt to the water.
  13. Gently add half of the ravioli and cook for 3 – 4 minutes. Once the ravioli rise to the top of the pan, give them another 30 seconds or so of cooking.
  14. With a slotted spoon, remove from the water and keep warm while you cook the remaining ravioli.
  15. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large heavy-based pan and cook on a low heat for 1 – 2 minutes until the butter foams and begins to turn golden brown.
  16. Stir sage leaves into the hot butter until they turn crisp – around 10 seconds. Remove from the heat
  17. Divide ravioli between four warmed plates
  18. Spoon over the golden brown butter and sage leaves
  19. Top with the remaining cheese
  20. Serve at once

Notes on this recipe:

  • The filling is SO delicious, and you might end up with some left over – which is great spread on bread, or added to any other starch.
  • I made the HUGE mistake of trying to cook too many at once, and they stuck together. I also didn’t serve it as suggested, so they had another opportunity to stick together. This doesn’t stop them tasting delicious though. All my fault.
  • I also didn’t have enough stove burners available to brown the butter properly, but that again didn’t stop them tasting good.
  • There are a lot of steps listed, but don’t be concerned about that. Jane’s written these out in a way that makes it easier to follow multiple steps than to just look at paragraphs of instructions.

A simple braised beef dinner (serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 400g casserole, chuck or braising steak
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking salt

Method:

  1. Place meat in one piece in a heavy-based saucepan that can just hold it in a single layer. It’s best if it fits snugly.
  2. Have the unpeeled garlic cloves and add them, skin and all, to the pan along with the wine, tomato paste and a few grinds of black pepper.
  3. If meat is not quite covered, add just enough cold water to fully cover. You shouldn’t need much – the idea is the minimise the cooking liquid. Do not add any salt.
  4. Bring to the boil, turn down to a gentle simmer and partially cover with a lid.
  5. Cook for 40 minutes.
  6. Remove meat from the braising liquid and slice. Keep warm.
  7. If the sauce is already thick and shiny, it’s ready to serve. If it’s still a bit watery, return sauce to the heat and simmer uncovered until reduced to a rich sauce.
  8. Remove the garlic (I skipped this step because I like garlic)
  9. Taste and add cooking salt – you may be surprised to find that you don’t need much.
  10. Return the meat to the sauce, warm through and serve.

Notes on this recipe:

  • We decided to add the other half of the onion from the pumpkin recipe to this, and left in the garlic. Because that’s how we rolled.
  • In the short essay immediately preceding this recipe, Jane talks about the importance of good quality meat, the difference from buying from a butcher versus buying from a major supermarket. We didn’t have time to get to a butcher so we bought our chuck steak from the supermarket, and it wasn’t as tender as it could have been (maybe if we cooked it for another 20 minutes). The dish was really tasty and I would definitely make it again.

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