Neil Perry’s Claypot Chicken Rice Recipe

Celebrity chef Neil Perry shares one of our favourite easy dinner ideas that’s perfect for weekend entertaining. The rice takes on all the flavours of the chicken and your choice of add-ins, and it makes great leftovers too.

Recipe and image from Simply Good Food by Neil Perry, Published by Murdoch Books, RRP: $49.99.

This is a cross between boiled and fried rice. The rice takes on great flavour and you can add any favourites to the dish such as dried shrimp, bacon, bamboo shoots or water chestnuts.

Serves 4, or 6-8 as part of a shared Asian banquet


400 g (2 cups) long-grain rice, washed
600 ml chicken stock
4 skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into small dice
1 Chinese sausage (lap cheong), sliced 6 dried black shiitake mushrooms, soaked, simmered until cooked, then quartered
4 cm piece fresh ginger, julienned
1 spring onion, green and white part, julienned

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1⁄2 teaspoon sesame oil
3 teaspoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
3 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon cornflour


1. Soak a small clay pot in water for 24 hours before using for the first time. Put the rice and stock in the clay pot, cover and cook over low heat with a heat diffuser if you have one for 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, mix together all the marinade ingredients and pour over the chicken, mixing well.

3. Spread the marinated chicken, Chinese sausage, mushrooms and ginger on top of the rice. Cover and cook for a further 10 minutes. Mix everything through the rice, sprinkle with the spring onions and serve.

Note: I like to mix in a beaten egg when I’m folding all the ingredients through the rice at the end. It gives the dish a luscious texture that I adore.


What’s your favourite easy chicken recipe?

Pete Evans Wants You To Eat Organic: Here’s Why

Eating organic is important to celebrity chef Pete Evans. So much so, that’s he’s a proud Australian Organic ambassador, and part of a campaign to educate Australians about how to purchase 100% honest organic products.

The simple mission of the One Logo Says It All campaign is to spread the message that when purchasing organic products, look for a certification logo before buying. There are over 14,000 products on our shelves today that are classified certified organic.  However, thousands more claim to be organic yet have not passed any testing or auditing.

SheSaid chats with Pete Evans to find out why organic is so important to him and where he shops for organic meat and produce.

Why is organic important to you?
Choosing organic is important to me because I’m passionate about nutrition and I’m a keen nature lover too, therefore organic produce and livestock is the only option for my family and I.  Organic produce is free of chemical pesticides and fertilisers, it hasn’t been irradiated and it’s non GMO, so it doesn’t propose the health risks that non organic does, and also the harmful chemicals used in non organic farming can contribute to the pollution of our precious water supply too.

Organic livestock is raised in a much more humane way and is fed a natural diet that’s free of grains, hormones and antibiotics, making it an ethical and nutrient dense option.  Also by supporting organic growers you’re choosing to be ‘wildlife’ and ‘environmentally’ friendly, because a more natural ecology is obtained through organic farming procedures.  And at the end of the day organic food just tastes a whole lot better, which is of course in my mind, ideal!

What do you say to people who think organic is too expensive?
Unfortunately organic food is often more expensive, so I advise people to buy wisely and invest in a healthier future.  I believe that choosing organic meat and poultry is crucial, and because you don’t need to actually eat a lot of it, when you balance out your budget and your plate by putting more vegetables on it instead of huge portions of meat, organic meat can actually be totally affordable.

And the fact that you can rest easy in the knowledge that you’re eating an animal that’s had a natural life, rather than an unhappy, forced fed, caged life of misery is a much healthier option mentally and physically.  As far as organic vegetables and fruit go, always buy seasonal and definitely check out local farmers markets or head out to organic community farms like Common2Us, that way you’re supporting your local community as well as getting a good deal and looking after your health!

Who are some of your favourite organic food producers?
I’m fortunate enough to be involved in an incredibly community minded, organic, grass roots store called B.U Organics and we’re very proud to support predominantly Australian grown organic produce.  We love Cleavers organic meat which comes from ecologically sustainable Australian farms. And Common2Us provides us with loads of delicious veggies and fruit, especially one of my favourites – organic kale and also both of my daughters’ favourites – organic strawberries.

What are you looking forward to cooking this summer?
We actually don’t do too much cooking over the summer months as we eat a lot of salads, ceviches, tartares, green smoothies and on special occasions, raw (sugar, wheat, gluten, dairy, grain-free) homemade desserts.  So I’m looking forward to lots of refreshing summer vegetables like celery, spinach, cucumbers, lettuces, beetroot, carrots and summer fruits like blueberries and strawberries.

Do you eat and buy organic food and products?

Read our interview with Therese Kerr on why organic food and skincare is so important to her.

Q&A with Celebrity Chef Ben O’Donoghue

The festive season is a time for celebrating, entertaining, cooking and of course, the dreaded cleaning-up. As a busy family man, celebrity chef and Fairy ambassador Ben O’Donoghue shares what’s on his Christmas menu this year, and his handy tips and tricks to help get you through this fun but busy time of year.

What are you cooking for Christmas this year?
A Bangalow pork ham from my butcher and loads of prawns and oysters – simple and fresh!

What are your best tips and tricks for stress-free entertaining over the holiday season?
For the food, develop a menu plan. Get everything you need ahead of time and also keep it simple.

For the enviable mess aftermath, make sure you have some Fairy Platinum in the cupboard, which cuts through grease in one wash.

What are your favourite summer ingredients?
Tomatoes, chillies, coriander and fish.

What are some foodie gift ideas that you’ll be gifting this Christmas?
Cookbooks and some quality produce, like good olive oil. Also, my new BBQ cookbook is out, Ben’s BBQ Bible, so all my relatives and friends will be receiving one this Christmas!

What’s coming up for you next year?
Hopefully we will get a TV show off the ground. My new restaurant, Billy Kart Kitchen in Brisbane has been keeping me busy but I will also look to start writing a new book.

What’s on your Christmas menu this year? Tell us in the comments!

Neil Perry’s Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce Recipe

Meatballs are one of our go-to beef mince recipes, but pick up some minced pork and a jar of chipotle chillies in adobo sauce and you’ll have classic meatballs with a Mexican twist thanks to celebrity chef Neil Perry. A delicious spin on your everyday spaghetti and meatballs.

Recipes and images from Simply Good Food by Neil Perry, Published by Murdoch Books, RRP: $49.99

Love these, look Italian, could only be Mexican when you taste them. The chipotle in adobo sauce is awesome to have around the kitchen. Add to any sauce for a fantastic smoky lift and I love them chopped through a vinaigrette for a salad. Serve these with tortillas for a fresh taco or serve them with rice or potatoes for a hearty tasty meal. If you really want to have a fab lunch, make a sandwich out of them. So damn good!

Makes about 18 meatballs


300 g minced (ground) beef
300 g minced (ground) pork
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
60 g (1 cup) fresh breadcrumbs
2 large eggs, organic, if possible
1 tablespoon milk
extra virgin olive oil
Manchego or pecorino cheese, to serve

4 ripe tomatoes
6 chipotle chillies in adobo sauce (see note)
2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
250 ml (1 cup) chicken stock


1. For the chipotle sauce, place the tomatoes, chillies and their sauce, garlic, cumin, oregano and salt in a blender. Add the stock and process until quite smooth.

2. For the meatballs, place the beef, pork, cumin, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and a grind of pepper in a bowl. Mix well, then stir in the breadcrumbs, eggs and milk. To check the seasoning, cook a small amount of mixture and taste it. Form the mince mixture into small walnut-sized balls.

3. Heat a large frying pan with a splash of olive oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs and brown gently for 2 minutes. Add the sauce and cook gently for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce starts to thicken. Reduce the heat to medium–low and cook, uncovered, until the sauce reduces to about half its original volume and coats the meatballs.

4. To serve, spoon the meatballs onto a serving plate and grate a little Manchego or pecorino over the top.

NOTE: Chipotle chillies are red jalapeños that have been smoked and dried. Adobo sauce is typically flavoured with spices such as paprika, bay leaves and oregano. The two are available together in tins at selected delis and Mexican food suppliers. 


What makes your meatballs the best? Share in the comments!

Real Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Matthew Evans’ authentic shepherd’s pie recipe from the beautiful OzHarvest Cookbook is a great way to use up leftover cooked lamb after a weekend roast.

Shepherds ate lamb and potato pie before there was such a thing as ‘Shepherd’s pie’. This is my version, using leftover roast or braised lamb. You could use beef, but then it would be a cottage pie – Matthew Evans.

Serves 5-6


40g of butter
3 onions, finely diced
3 small carrots, finely diced
4 celery sticks, finely diced
500g leftover cooked lamb, finely diced
125ml (1/2 cup) Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste or sauce (passata)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
1kg potatoes, cooked and mashed
Melted butter to brush


1. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the vegetables for 10 minutes without letting them colour too much.

2. Add the lamb and 250ml (1 cup) water and stir in all the remaining ingredients except the potato.

3. Simmer for about 1 ½ hours until everything is soft and cohesive. Longer is better than shorter here. The mixture should be wet, but not runny, so add a touch more water if dry, or simmer to reduce if too sloppy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C. Spread the lamb filling into a larger casserole dish. Spoon the mash over the top and run a fork over it to make bits that crisp up when cooked. Brush with melted butter. Bake for 20-30 minutes until lightly coloured and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

From the OzHarvest Cookbook. Australia’s most celebrated chefs share their favourite ‘food rescue’ recipes, including contributions from Matt Moran, Neil Perry, Maggie Beer, George Calombaris plus many more.

Q&A with Celebrity Chef Kylie Kwong

Owning a small business is not easy, so we’re getting behind the Shop Small – a Big Month for Small Business campaign. The campaign runs throughout November and encourages everyone to shop local and support the country’s small retailers.

Celebrity chef Kylie Kwong has been supporting local businesses and producers since she opened her Sydney restaurant Billy Kwong 13 years ago, and chats to SHESAID about why shopping small is so important for our communities, and shares her favourite local haunts and tips for small business operators.

What does Shop Small mean to you?
Shop Small to me is all about ‘the spirit of community’ – it is about looking after each other; it is about frequenting our precious local small businesses – supporting those who bring colour, character, personality and that wonderful person touch to our day-to-day live –  so we can in turn create a dynamic, nurturing and vibrant community together!

What are some of your favourite local haunts in Surry Hills?
Reuben Hill Cafe
121BC Enoteca
Crown Street Grocer
Barberia Hair Salon

Who are some of your favourite local producers that supply the restaurant?
Patrice Newell’s Biodynamic Garlic – Hunter Valley
Melanda Park NSW – Certified-Free Range Pork
Burrawong, South Coast – Free Range Ducks
Rod + Laurie Marr’s – Biodynamic Eggs – Oberon
Rainforest Foods – Davidson’s Plums + Macadamia Nuts – Northern NSW Riverland

It is these small, artisanal producers who give Billy Kwong its colour, versatility, character and unique flavour!

As a small business owner, what are your best tips for growing a small business?
Before you even consider opening the doors on your small business, you absolutely MUST do a business plan guided by an accountant or experienced business person; the commercial viability or lack of;  of the proposed business, will soon sort out where your passion sits!  It is not enough to have the creative vision and ideas for the business plan, you have to always work very closely with an accountant or business person so that your idea and vision is also commercially viable. Take good care of yourself so that you as the business owner can continue to grow your business based on steady and sound decision making.

What are you looking forward to cooking this summer?
I am really looking forward to going fishing with my brother and his family in the stunning waters around Akuna Bay and simply grilling our daily catch on the back of his boat! Simple, fresh, locally sourced, delicious.

 What are your favourite small businesses? Tell us in the comments!

French Women Don’t Get Fat Magical Breakfast Cream Recipe

One of the most popular French Women Don’t Get Fat recipes, this Magical Breakfast Cream is everything you want for breakfast: tasty, healthy and ready in just a few minutes. It’s also a delicious way to get a serve of calcium.

From the French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook by Mireille Guiliano.

Beware: this recipe is addictive. It’s also extremely easy and quick to make, and one can play and interchange so many ingredients. It is the perfect complete breakfast and will keep you from getting hungry until late lunch. Why do I call it Magical Breakfast Cream? Magical? Something that is a combination of tasty, easy, and so good for your well-being has to be magical, right?

Serves 1

Preparation Time: 10-15 Minutes


1/3 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey (or to taste)
2 tablespoons (20g) finely ground cereal (with no added sugar such as Shredded Wheat)*
2 teaspoons (5g) finely ground walnuts*


1. Mix yogurt and oil in a bowl. Add lemon juice and mix well then add the honey and mix well.  (It is important to add each ingredient one at a time, mixing well between additions to obtain a smooth, creamy texture.)

2. Add ground walnuts and cereal to the yogurt mixture and mix well.  Serve at once.

* You can finely grind the cereal and walnuts using a small food processor or mortar and pestle.

Mireille’s notes:
* You can do a week’s worth of grinding cereal/nut mixture and keep it refrigerated so in the morning it will take just an instant to mix together!

* Flaxseed oil is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, have no fear, you will not taste the oil in the fine creamy blend.

* I use Shredded Wheat cereal made from whole grain wheat, but you could add other wholegrain cereals which contain no added sugar.

What’s your favourite healthy breakfast recipe?

Q&A with Celebrity Chef Matt Moran

Celebrity chef and leading restaurateur, Matt Moran, ditches the chef whites and embarks on a foodie adventure, that sees him get down and dirty, discovering some of the best produce and farmers the east coast of Australia has to offer in his brand new series, Paddock to Plate, on Foxtel’s Lifestyle Channel.

After 20-odd years in the industry, the series sees Matt encounter a few food ‘firsts’ – milking a fresh water salmon; spit roasting a rare breed black pig; facing his fear of bees and sharks; truffle hunting; making goat cheese; cooking and tasting ostrich for the first time.

Matt reveals to SHE’SAID’ why his journey of discovery was not only exciting but at times, an emotional one.

Do you think country folk make better chefs/cooks because they have more of an affinity with the land and produce?
Nope! The reason being, I grew up on the land and everyone says to me ‘Geez Matt, you’re a good cook. You must have that romantic story to tell about cooking alongside your Grandmother and your mother…’ But no. I grew up eating meat and three veg. My Grandmother – who was the most beautiful woman in the world, God bless her soul – I reckon she used to put the lamb roast on the day before I got there and the Brussels sprouts on three days before! I tell people I think I started cooking so I could actually get a decent meal!

In an ideal world, do you think all apprentice chefs should do a similar journey to what you have just done to discover where fabulous produce comes from & the passion of the people behind it?
No! I want to keep it all to myself (laughs). My food knowledge is probably better than average, I’ve been in the industry for over 25 years, I live, breathe all things food but the amount I learnt every day, whether it was big or little things, was unbelievable. I had been using this produce for years and sometimes you take it for granted, you really do. Doing this show, sparked something in my brain, my love for food has skyrocketed since.

The series really takes you back to your country roots. Was there any emotional moments for you?
I’m a big, beefy, boofy guy but there really were some emotional moments for me. Lola and Mal Orr, digging potatoes out of the ground at 70 years of age (Episode 3, Wednesday November 20), fifth-generation potato farmers with an annual income of 25 grand, sitting on land worth absolutely millions and millions of dollars. They could sell it, put the money in the bank and live off the interest for rest of their lives. When I asked them why they did it, they said “Because we love it!” That makes you emotional.

Going back to the farm I was born on in Tamworth (Episode 7, Wednesday December 18), that made me emotional.

Cooking all this amazing food made me emotional. It’s a feel-good show.

Every episode there are mind-blowing stories. The real heroes are the people I meet. Incredibly passionate human beings who love what they do. It’s not about the money, it’s about producing the best thing they can. It brought tears to my eyes. Professionally, it was the best 3 months of my life. I feel blessed and am incredibly grateful I got to do it.

Although you’ve been a chef for 25 or so years, the series introduced a few food ‘firsts’ for you…what was the most memorable or surprising?
It was bucket list stuff! Digging for truffles! Getting abalone off the bottom of Bass Strait! Making Holy Goat cheese, it goes on and on! Riding a horse in the Snowy Mountains and cooking the crew bacon and eggs over an open fire on the Snowy River. None stand out more than the other. Every episode was incredible.

Why is it important for Australian’s to know where their food comes from?
People want to know. It’s not a trend or fad. People want to know what they’re eating, where it comes from, how it was grown, whether it’s sustainable, whether it’s been looked after, whether it’s been killed properly. Brands are becoming more popular. People recognise brands and know what’s what. People’s food knowledge has improved a lot in 20 years.

Do you think the large supermarket chains have a lot to answer for?
I can’t go there…but what you’re seeing now, are people being independent. People like Peel Valley Milk in Tamworth, when they got deregulated, owner and dairy farmer Malcolm mortgaged himself to the hilt and built himself a factory. He’s got this super breed of Jersey cows – you put a fork in his cream and it stands up! He pasteurises the milk himself, he bottles the milk himself and he goes out and sells it himself. You can buy it for the same price – or even cheaper – than what you can buy milk at Coles or Woolworths. I am telling you, you don’t taste milk like that anywhere else. It’s incredible, it really is.

How can the average Australian shop and cook more seasonally and locally?
Farmers markets. Talk to the people who are actually growing it and doing it. Learn about what you’re eating. Find out what’s the best. And the folk growing it also often know how to cook it too!

The perception of small artisan producers is that their produce is expensive. For families on a budget, how would you encourage them to support local farmers/businesses and utilise the produce in their weekly meal planning?
I don’t think they’re more expensive. You’re helping them. Farmers certainly aren’t greedy.

If you are on a budget, what are the ‘must have’ pantry or fridge items you need to splash out on to improve the taste of your cooking?
You need a good oil, good butter and good salt. Coming into summer and BBQs, start using secondary cuts. Don’t get lamb chops, get a leg or a shoulder, bone it out, marinate it and whack that on the BBQ. It’s going to taste better and it’s not going to break the bank.

Did this journey improve you as a chef?
I think it improved me as a person! (laughs) I love food and I have done a lot of reality shows – and don’t get me wrong, I am grateful beyond belief for what those shows have done for me and my profile which helped me make Paddock to Plate – I wanted to get back to cooking. I am a cook. The integrity of the produce, these beautiful people and it’s shot beautifully.

Will we be seeing anything from the series on plates at Aria or Chiswick?
Chiswick maybe. It’s not Aria food. I tried to keep the integrity of what we were doing. It’s simple food. Everyone can relate to it, get something out of it and be able to do it themselves.

You only covered the east coast of Australia…do you have plans to venture further afield?
I am a very ambitious person – everyone knows that! I wouldn’t have seven restaurants and businesses if I wasn’t ambitious. When we looked at doing this series, we thought if this is successful, we need to carve Australia up. We did Victoria and a little of NSW in the first series. There’s Tassie, South Australia, Western Australia, Far North Queensland  and the Outback all needing a series of their own.

How do you find the time to do everything you do?
I am very lucky. I have a very understanding family. I have amazing people who have been with me for 15 years and believe in what I do, which allows me to go off and do those things. It all regenerates back into the businesses. People say ‘Well, Matt if you’re not at Aria, who’s cooking?’ and I say ‘The same people who cook when I am there!’ I was filming this in two week stints. It’s my love and my passion.

Christmas is just around the corner…what do we need to be putting on our tables to support local producers? What products/dishes from the series are perfect for Christmas?
The Tamworth episode (episode 7, Wednesday December 18) is a bit of a Christmas episode. We used Quast Turkeys. I am a traditionalist. I love turkey and ham with all the trimmings for Christmas. I cook all day in the kitchen on Christmas Day. Those Quast Turkeys were some of the best turkeys I’ve tasted in my life!

Paddock to Plate, starts Wednesday November 6 at 8.30pm, The Lifestyle Channel on Foxtel. 

Karen Martini’s Twice-Cooked Duck with Prunes and Barley

We’ll be making Karen Martini’s roasted duck recipe from her new cookbook Everyday at dinner parties this summer. This might not be a quick dinner idea but if you’ve ever wanted to tackle duck this is the recipe to try. This show-stopping dish would be beautiful served family style.

Duck meat is rich and intense, and the perfect foil is the contrasting flavour of fruit. In this dish, slow-roasted prunes do the job beautifully. Cooking the duck twice gives you crisp skin while the flesh stays moist – Karen Martini.

Everyday by Karen Martini, published by Pan Macmillan, RRP $39.95

Serves: 4


2 x size 22 ducks (about 2.2 kg each)
3 tablespoons salt flakes
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons allspice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup pearl barley
1 fresh bay leaf
40 g salted butter

Star anice-spiced prunes

400 g large prunes
500 ml verjuice or apple juice
300 ml water
salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
2 fresh bay leaves
6 thyme sprigs
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C fan-forced (220°C conventional).

2. Grind the salt, pepper and allspice in a mortar and pestle. Add the olive oil and mix well.

3. Trim the neck and any excess fat from the cavity, then rub the salt mixture all over the ducks, inside and out. Prick all over with a small knife and place on a wire rack in a roasting tin. Roast on the middle shelf of the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and rest in a warm place for 20 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 230°C fan-forced (250°C conventional).

5. To make the spiced prunes, place the prunes in a baking dish that holds them snugly. Pour over the verjuice or apple juice and water, season generously and scatter over the bay leaves, thyme, cinnamon stick and star anise. Add the vinegar and cover the dish with baking paper then foil. Bake at the bottom of the oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 minutes until the prunes are swollen. Remove from the oven.

6. Pour the juices into a small saucepan and cook over medium–high heat until reduced by one-third and the sauce is slightly thicker.

7. Score the skin in two lines down the back of each duck. Turn over and fillet one side of the duck from the breast to the thigh and drumstick to the back of the duck so that you have a complete side. Twist and remove the thigh bone and transfer to a sheet of baking paper. Repeat with the other side of this duck and with the remaining duck.

8.Place the duck halves, skin side up, on a baking tray and roast for 15–20 minutes until crispy and hot. You may like to turn on your grill to crisp the duck even more.

9. Serve the prunes alongside the crispy duck, with the juices spooned over.

After cooking once, the ducks will keep for a couple of days in the fridge. The second roasting can be done just before you serve.

When you purchase the ducks, ask the butcher to pop the thigh bones out of the hip sockets and to remove the wishbones. This will make it easier to bone the ducks after cooking them.

The day before roasting, take the ducks out of their wrapping and sit them, uncovered, on a tray in the fridge to drain their juices and dry out the skin. Although this is optional, it will help you achieve a crispier skin. Before cooking, allow the ducks to come to room temperature.

What are your favourite duck recipes?


Karen Martini’s Baked Oysters with Bacon and Horseradish Cream

These sexy baked oysters with bacon and horseradish cream from Karen Martini’s gorgeous new cookbook Everyday would make an impressive first course for a dinner party or a canapé for summer parties.

These oysters are a refined nod to the Kilpatrick. The oysters gently warm through but stay bright and plump and keep their vibrant sea flavour – Karen Martini.

Everyday by Karen Martini, published by Pan Macmillan, RRP $39.95

Makes: 24


2 dozen oysters (plump Pacific oysters are great)
1.5 kg rock salt
120 ml cream
100 g parmesan cheese, finely grated
15-cm piece of fresh horseradish, peeled and finely grated, or 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
freshly ground black pepper
80 g unsalted butter, cut into dice, chilled
60 g fresh breadcrumbs
1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
4 slices of streaky bacon, fried until crisp
2 lemons, quartered, to serve


1. Set up the oysters on a baking tray, stabilising each oyster on a small pile of rock salt so they can be served straight from oven to table.

2. Preheat the oven grill to high.

3. Mix the cream, parmesan and horseradish in a bowl and season with pepper.

4. Top each oyster with half a tablespoon of the cream mixture, a tiny knob of butter and a grind of pepper. Combine the breadcrumbs and parsley and sprinkle over each oyster. Place under the grill for 3 minutes until golden (the oysters should not be fully cooked).

5. Before serving, break over the bacon and serve with the wedges of lemon.

Q&A with Karen Martini

You know the drill. Rushing through the door, late home from work, kids follow two steps behind you into the kitchen. You open the fridge and sigh as the ‘what’s for dinner mum?’ chorus begins. A quick survey of the fridge’s contents and it’s not looking good. Sounds like a job for Karen Martini.

Chef, restaurateur, TV presenter, recipe columnist and busy mum of two, Karen Martini knows your pain. She understands. She has penned five cookbooks, is the resident chef on Channel 7’s Better Homes and Gardens, judges others culinary skills on My Kitchen Rules and has rattled pans in various iconic restaurants including Melbourne’s Tansy’s, Melbourne Wine Room, Icebergs Dining Room & Bar in Sydney and her St Kilda pizzeria mr. wolf.

Taking a twist on the classics, Karen’s new cookbook Everyday will inspire you to come up with mealtime inspiration with more than 120 no-fuss recipe ideas for salads, pastas, pizzas, curries, roasts, one-pot dinners, puddings, cakes and even biscuits. It’s all about keeping it simple and delicious, of course.

Karen Martini tells SHE’SAID’ how she gets inspired in the kitchen and reveals how to get the ‘wow’ factor into an everyday, impromptu dinner party…even on a budget!

Tell me why every Australian kitchen needs a copy of your book Everyday?
My aim was to give super-quick ideas for stress-free cooking. I’ve tried to simplify the recipes but keeping them interesting. Sometimes things can get too tricky and it turns people off but they still want a good result, something exciting and delicious on the plate, with a bit of a twist they haven’t had before. It was also important to me to use accessible, every day ingredients that are familiar and easy to purchase. There are a few dishes in the book that can ‘challenge’ but the majority of the recipes are tried and true and the essence of what has kept me interested over the last few years when I’ve been busy and flat out!

The book is an insight into my head, I sometimes stand in my kitchen staring blankly into the fridge and pantry wondering what I can cook – just like everyone else! All of sudden I get inspiration and I go from a blank stare into cooking and making a dish. This book documents those moments.

What’s the best tip for getting yourself out of a cooking ‘rut’?
Spending time reading and refreshing your mind about food – with books like this! There are many great Australian cooks out there who are expressing their views and opinions which will get you starting to think about the way you look at a chicken thigh and how you don’t always just pan or stir fry it.

I think shopping in a different environment can also inspire. Take yourself out of the supermarket and go to a small green grocer or local farmer’s market. Even changing the supermarket you shop at – just breaking your routine can inspire! It’s a good place to start.

What’s the best way to deal with a family of fussy eaters – each with their own different ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’?
I’ve actually talked to a lot of people about this. A few have had good results by actually handing over my book and saying ‘OK…what looks good to you guys?’ And they (the kids) might pick something you wouldn’t even begin to think they’d like! Once you get them involved in the selection process, you’re on the road to having something else interesting for dinner!

If your children are young – it’s a hard thing. One of my daughters who is 5 is going through a ‘I’m not eating fish’ phase at the moment. And I’m like ‘Well, darling, this household eats fish twice a week so it’s going to be a long road for you!’ I just keep presenting it and I make sure there are a variety of salads, rice, pasta, cous cous or whatever it is, going as well, and I do always insist she at least tries it, because I don’t always buy the same fish. It’s persistence! Sometimes I think parents give up too quickly. You need to present something 20 times (sometimes) for them to get a grasp of it.

Family members always have their ‘favourite’ dishes – what’s the best way to persuade folk to try something ‘new’?
Sometimes something as simple as altering the environment like dining outside can switch things up. I’ve done that with my children – Amber is 5 and Estella is 7 – we did a BBQ outside recently and we don’t have an outdoor table yet so we had a picnic on the tiles outside because the grass is still growing too! We all sat cross-legged and they tried everything! It sounds kooky but it works in my household!

What are your family’s favourites?
My girls love the Slow-Baked Lamb shoulder with Horta-style salad (p.199), or I serve it with yoghurt, feta, Greek-style salad or a boiled barley side instead of potatoes or the pita bread. They love to assemble their own souvlaki style dishes. That is something that’s on the agenda at least once a week at the moment.

Spaghetti Bolognese was one that was requested to the point where I cooked it so much and I had as a ‘back up’ all the time, they don’t actually want it anymore! If you present what they love often they can make the decision to ‘move on’.

Roast chicken is another favourite. I am trying to get them onto light-style curries or dhal – they will have a little taste (I don’t make it hot, I take the chilli out but keep the spices in) they might not particularly like it but I always put a little taste of whatever the base sauce, gravy or dressing is on their plate. Sometimes they like it, sometimes they don’t but at least you’re trying to develop their palate. It’s a real headache when you have to cook different meals. I don’t do that anymore because my girls are old enough. You have to start thinking like that from 3 onwards but always making sure you’ve got the simple, staples on offer so they don’t go hungry!

You decide to host an impromptu weekday dinner party. What are your ‘go-to’ dishes that always impress?
A Thai-style fish curry like the Coconut Curry with Blue-Eye Trevalla (p.132), it’s quick because you put everything in the one pot, the flavours are amazing because of the Asian ingredients you add to the sauce. You can always substitute chicken too. I might do something a little ‘extra, extra’ if I come across an ingredient that’s special – like perhaps, Spicy Fried Quail with Sichuan Pepper (p.143). If clams are in season, I can’t go past Linguine alle Vongole (p.63). I will make a really big pot of pasta, pop it in the middle of the table with a salad, that could easily work for mid-week dinner party. The idea of not serving individually but putting a platter on the table keeps everything convivial and casual!

What are the biggest mistakes you can make planning an impromptu dinner party?
Picking too many dishes you’ve never attempted before! You need a staple dish in your repertoire that you know you can nail every time. Think about dishes you can prepare a little ahead of time so you’re not working away in the kitchen the whole time.

Can you get the ‘wow’ factor into a dinner party on a budget?

There are simple jelly recipes in the book like Berry Jelly (p.213) and Blueberry and Orange Jelly (p.213), anything turned out of a mould always gets a bit of a ‘wow’ when you present it! Always hone in on ingredients that are in season to keep costs down. Old favourites – like Sweet and Sour Chicken (p.147) – I have revamped in the book – I use chicken thighs which are inexpensive and you can feed a lot of people with that! I’ve also done a mince chapter – with a lot of different dishes. The Lebanese Lamb and Peas (p.179) is something I pull out occasionally and if you serve this up with steamed or Dirty Rice with Lentils (p.72), yoghurt and a shredded carrot salad, it can be a little exotic and fancy but you haven’t spent a fortune. I also love the Beef Kofta (p.176). Sometimes you need to apply a little more ‘skill’ when you’re cooking on a budget – in other words, making things from scratch like the kofta, pressing them onto the skewer yourself. I also love to deliver a fancy way to present dishes. You’re still using simple ingredients but you’re thinking about how you put it on the plate.

What food items should you always have in your pantry and fridge?
On my kitchen bench, there is never a lack of salt flakes rather than iodised table salt. I use flakes to finish dishes and whilst they’re cooking sometimes too. I find iodised table salt can be ‘too salty’ and it ‘burns’ the palate, in a way. The Australian Murray River salt – I use all the time – a little goes a long way.

Good olive oil is essential. Australia is making some fantastic olive oils and it makes everything taste better at the last minute! I always have a bowl of lemons kicking around and a selection of cheeses on the go – a chunk of parmesan, fresh ricotta or fresh goats cheese – you can apply them to so many dishes and change the dish entirely. Base spices like cumin, cinnamon or coriander are essential in your kitchen. I always have a zip lock bag of bay leaves, parsley and other herbs  in the fridge. If you can’t grow your own herbs – which are pretty easy to do in pots – keep a few in the fridge. Mint can transform a lot of dishes. In my freezer, I always have a bit of an ‘Asian section’. People sometimes find cooking Thai or Asian a little daunting because they have to go out and buy 27 ingredients but if you come to my house, you’ll always find in the freezer in little zip-lock bags, a little tub of shrimp paste, lemongrass, chillies, lime leaves, dried shrimp, curry leaves, galangal (Asian ginger).

Get Karen Martini’s easy panna cotta recipe here!

 Everyday by Karen Martini, RRP $39.99, is available now.

Karen Martini’s Vanilla and Rosemary Panna Cotta Recipe

This easy panna cotta recipe from Karen Martini’s latest cookbook Everyday is the perfect summer dessert to serve at holiday parties or relaxed get-togethers. The crunchy biscotti crumbled over the top provides great texture to the luscious custard-like dessert.

I am head over heels in love with this flavour combination. The scorched lemon syrup brings a bitter hint that is a perfect accent to the sweet richness of the panna cotta – Karen Martini.

Everyday by Karen Martini, published by Pan Macmillan, RRP $39.95.

Serves: 10


3 1/2 gold-strength gelatine sheets
750 ml cream
370 ml milk
120 g caster sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
2 rosemary sprigs
biscotti, to serve

Scorched Lemon Syrup

250 g caster sugar
zest and juice of 5 lemons (approximately 350 ml of juice) with the zest added to the juice


1. Soak the gelatine in very cold water for 1 minute.

2. Combine the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds and rosemary in a saucepan and warm over medium heat until just starting to simmer. Remove from the heat.

3. Drain the gelatine and squeeze out any water. Drop the gelatine into the cream mixture and stir well. Allow to stand for 5 minutes, then strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Pour into ten 120-ml plastic panna cotta moulds, fill to 1 cm below the top, cool, cover and chill in the fridge for 6 hours or overnight.

4. To make the lemon syrup, put the sugar into a heavy-based, scrupulously clean medium–large saucepan and heat over high heat, shaking the pan occasionally to help dissolve the sugar, for 8 minutes until a dark caramel.

5. Remove from the heat and carefully add the lemon juice and zest (the very hot caramel will splatter). Let the sizzle subside a little. Stir and return to the heat and

bring to a simmer, continuously stirring until the syrup residue on the bottom of the pan has been incorporated into the sauce. Take off the heat, pour into a clean jar and chill.

6. To turn out the panna cotta, tip each mould to one side to create an air pocket, rotate the mould and invert onto a plate. You should not need to dip in hot water. However, if you have trouble with getting them out with this method, dip the mould in boiling water for 30 seconds and they should slip out easily.

7. Spoon the cooled lemon syrup over and around the plate and serve sprinkled with crushed biscotti.



Silvia’s Cucina’s Fresh Pasta Squares with Ricotta + Vegetables

Italian food lover, blogger and actress Silvia Colloca shares her easy fresh pasta recipe – sagne a pezze – topped with a simple ricotta and vegetable sauce from her new cookbook Silvia’s Cucina.

This is a very popular dish in the mountainous villages of Abruzzo. My second cousins run a restaurant in Torricella, and they serve freshly made pasta squares in a simple but splendid tomato sauce, crowned with a generous dollop of cow’s-milk ricotta (full-cream and unpasteurised). This is my personal take on the classic dish, devised to celebrate the crisp sweetness of spring vegetables.

When Nonna Irene taught me to make sagne, she wasn’t her usual vague self about size and measures. She insisted  the squares must be an even 2.5 cm × 2.5 cm. Given that this is the only time she has ever advocated precision in the kitchen, I make it a point to follow her instructions to the letter.


Extract from the book ‘Silvia’s Cucina’ by Silvia Colloca, & photography by Chris Chen, published by Lantern, RRP $39.99 

Serves: 4


1 quantity of egg pasta dough , rolled into 2.5 mm thick sheets
coarse semolina, for dusting

Ricotta and vegetable sauce

3–4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 clove garlic, skin on, bashed with the back of a knife
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
2 zucchini (courgettes), thinly sliced
150 g broad beans with pods removed salt flakes
150 g full-cream ricotta finely grated zest of 1 lemon small mint leaves, to garnish freshly ground black pepper


1. Dust the pasta with semolina, then cut into 2.5 cm squares. Place them in one layer on a tea towel or wooden board generously dusted  with semolina.

2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.

3. For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat, add the garlic and spring onion and cook for 1–2 minutes  or until fragrant. Add the zucchini and and cook, tossing often, for 5–6 minutes or until golden. Turn off the heat.

4. When the water comes to a rolling boil, drop in the broad beans and cook for 1–2 minutes. Lift them out with a slotted  spoon and rinse them under cold water to arrest  the cooking. Peel off the skins and add them to the zucchini and season with salt.

5. Return the water to the boil, then gently drop in the pasta squares and cook for 1–2 minutes  or until nicely al dente.

6. Turn the heat back on under the zucchini and broad bean mixture and remove the garlic clove. Using a slotted spoon, take out the cooked pasta squares and add them to the pan, along with a little pasta cooking water. Toss the pasta through the vegetables for 1–2 minutes or until well coated with the sauce. Add a little more pasta cooking water if the sauce looks a bit dry.

7. Divide the pasta and vegetables among shallow bowls and top with a good dollop of ricotta and a drizzle of olive oil. Scatter over the lemon zest and mint leaves and finish with a grinding of pepper. Serve and enjoy!

Sagne a pezze are also quite wonderful dressed with roasted tomato sugo or Abruzzese-styl meat sauce.


Silvia’s Cucina’s Chocolate and Hazelnut Truffle Cake Recipe

Italian food lover, blogger and actress Silvia Colloca shares her flourless chocolate hazelnut truffle cake recipe from her new cookbook Silvia’s Cucina.

I feel beholden to this simple flourless cake. The moment I posted the recipe on the blog, back in June 2011, I knew something in my short-lived blogger life had changed. Comments started trickling in, and that trickle soon became a torrent! It seems that this traditional cake from Piemonte speaks a language that everybody is fluent in: chocolate. But to call this a chocolate cake doesn’t really do it justice.

There is so much more to it than that.

What makes this indulgent cake so alluring  is the addition  of Frangelico and coffee-spiked cocoa paste. This blissful blend somehow ‘chocifies’ the chocolate: it is chocolate to the power of 10. So if you love a gentle, sweet, milk-chocolate cake, torta gianduja is not for you. But if you are a true believer, a proud chocolate addict, read on . . . 


Extract from the book ‘Silvia’s Cucina’ by Silvia Colloca, & photography by Chris Chen, published by Lantern, RRP $39.99 

Serves: 8


150 g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
160 g dark 70% chocolate, broken into pieces, or dark chocolate chips
pinch of salt flakes
2½ tablespoons hot espresso coffee
2 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Frangelico or rum
4 eggs
250 g brown sugar
1 cup (100 g) hazelnut meal
1 handful of roasted, roughly chopped hazelnuts
whipped cream and fresh berries, to serve


1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Grease and line a 24 cm round cake tin with baking paper. (You could also use a smaller tin, in which case the cake will be higher.)

2. Melt the butter, chocolate and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). When melted, remove from the heat.

3. Whisk together the hot coffee and cocoa powder in a bowl until there  are no lumps. Stir in the vanilla and Frangelico or rum, then add to the melted chocolate and mix to combine.

4. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the brown sugar and beat with a whisk or hand-held electric beaters until creamy. Pour into the chocolate mixture,  then stir in the hazelnut meal and chopped hazelnuts.

5. Pour the batter into the tin. Bake for 45–55 minutes or until the edges are firm and the surface is cracked but feels soft in the middle. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 1 hour, then gently turn  out the cake and sit it on a cake stand.

6. Dust with cocoa powder and serve with whipped cream and your favourite  berries.

This cake tastes even better the next day. If making a day ahead , store it in its tin at room temperature, and garnish with cocoa powder, berries and cream just before serving.


Easy Dinner Recipes: Spicy Beef with Green Beans

My Kitchen Rules winners Dan and Steph have been trimming down – losing over 20kgs in 7 weeks combined! How did they do it? They’ve been on the Bodytrim system and they’re sharing one of their favourite Bodytrim recipes, a quick dinner idea that will become a favourite of yours too. Lean beef mince is stir-fried with crunchy green beans and aromatic spices and you have dinner on the table in less 30 minutes.

It tastes better and has a lot less fat than takeaway – and is quicker than calling home delivery! “It’s really yummy, and even better it is cheap to make and will feed the whole family!” says Steph.

Serves: 4-5 people

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes


500g lean beef mince
150g green beans, diagonally sliced into thirds
1 brown onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 red chillies, thinly sliced
2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
2 tbsp mild curry powder
½ cup beef stock
1 tbsp peanut oil


1. Heat frying pan over medium heat, add oil. Add garlic, chilli, coriander and curry powder, fry for one minute.

2. Add onion, cook for 1-2 minutes.

3. Add beef and brown well, stirring occasionally.

4. Once the beef is browned, add beef stock and green beans, reduce heat and gently simmer for 10-12 minutes. Serve.

What’s your favourite stir-fry recipe?

Thai Turkey Salad With Snake Beans And Avocado

My Kitchen Rules winners Sammy and Bella share an easy dinner recipe for a salad that’s bursting with delicious Thai flavours – and a great way to cook with healthy turkey!

Serves 4 

600g skinless turkey breast
½ bunch coriander
3 cloves garlic
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp extra light olive oil
1 bunch snake beans
1 avocado, ripe
1 lebanese cucumber
1 long red chilli
¼ cup cashew nuts, roasted
1 cup bean sprouts
½ bunch thai basil, leaves picked
2 Tbsp crispy shallots

For the passionfruit dressing
1/3 cup passionfruit pulp (about 3)
2 kaffir lime leaves
1/2 lime, juiced
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp ginger, freshly grated

1. Slice turkey breast into 1cm thick pieces. Thoroughly wash coriander, pick and reserve leaves. Roughly chop remaining roots and stems and place in a mortar and pestle along with garlic and salt. Pound into a smooth paste, then mix with olive oil and coat turkey generously. Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.

2. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Cut snake beans into 3cm batons and blanch for 30 seconds, then drain and allow to cool. Slice avocado and cucumber, chop chilli. Roast cashews until golden and fragrant. Allow to cool.

3. Place turkey under a hot grill and cook for about 3 minutes on either side, or until cooked through.

4. For the dressing, remove pulp from passionfruit. Remove stems from kaffir lime leaves and chop very finely. Whisk passionfruit pulp, kaffir lime, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and grated ginger until the sugar has dissolved. Check for seasoning to make sure there is enough saltiness, sweetness and acidity.

5. For the salad, mix snake beans, avocado, cucumber, chilli, cashew nuts, bean sprouts with half the dressing. Spread on a wide flat serving plate and top with turkey, basil and coriander leaves and a sprinkling of crispy shallots. Drizzle over remaining dressing and serve immediately.

What’s your favourite Thai recipe?

Banana Passionfruit Bread With Ricotta

My Kitchen Rules 2011 winners Sammy and Bella share their favourite banana bread recipe flavoured with fresh passionfruit, topped with creamy ricotta – it makes a delicious breakfast or morning tea treat!

Makes one loaf

265g wholemeal self-raising flour
40g plain flour
1tsp ground cinnamon
140g brown sugar
125ml milk
2 eggs, light beaten
50g butter, melted
1 over ripe banana
9 passion fruits
50g oats
50g shredded coconut
Spray olive oil
200g ricotta

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Spray a 11x21cm loaf pan with spray olive oil. Line the base and two opposite sides with non-stick baking paper, allowing it to overlap.

2. Sift the flours, cinnamon, and sugar into a large bowl. Place milk, eggs, melted butter, banana in a medium mixing bowl. Pass 6-7 of the passionfruits’ pulp through a sieve to remove seeds and place into bowl with wet ingredients and stir until well combined. If you still have lumps of banana, use a hand-mixer to break up large pieces.

3. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir, add oats and shredded coconut. Stir until well combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Sprinkle over some left over passionfruit seeds and shredded coconut.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

5. Cut into slices and toast. Garnish with a scoop of ricotta and some fresh passionfruit pulp.

What’s your favourite banana bread recipe?

Pulled Pork Sliders

Who doesn’t love sliders? My Kitchen Rules 2011 winners Sammy and Bella share a recipe for juicy pulled pork sliders served with a tangy passionfruit relish.

Serves 4, makes 8

750 pork neck or shoulder (boneless, skinless)
4 passionfruit
Extra virgin olive oil, for frying
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dried oregano

Passionfruit Relish
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 eschallots
2 cloves garlic
1 long red chilli
Roots and stems from ¼ bunch coriander
¾ cup passionfruit pulp (9 or 10 passionfruits)
½ cup white wine vinegar
2/4 cup raw sugar

8 small dinner rolls (or 4 large burger buns)
Shredded red cabbage, to serve
Coriander leaves, to serve

1. Cut the pork into 3cm thick steaks, across the grain. Remove pulp from 4 passionfruit and place in a bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, then pass through a sieve to extract the juice (discard the seeds). Marinate the pork in the passionfruit juice overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 160C. Heat a large heavy based oven proof saucepan to high with some olive oil. Remove pork from the marinade, then fry in batches until well caramelised on both sides. Set meat aside and deglaze the pan with vegetable stock and stir in tomato paste, oregano and any reserved passionfruit marinade. Return pork to the pot and cover with some baking paper (a cartouche). Cover with a tight fitting lid and bake in the oven for 4 or 5 hours, or until the meat is falling apart.

3. Once the pork has cooled slightly, it is ready to be pulled. You can do this by using 2 forks, but it’s quicker by hand. Put on a pair of dishwashing gloves to protect your hands from the heat, and gently use your fingers to shred the meat. Place back in the pot together with any cooking liquid, then place back on the stove and cook until the sauce has thickened (if needed). Season to taste.

4. In the meantime, make the relish. Finely chop the eschallots, garlic, chilli and coriander roots and stems. Place in a pot with olive oil and cook on low-medium until translucent and fragrant. Add passion fruit (seeds and pulp), sugar and vinegar and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and season to taste. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

5. To serve, toast the buns and place a generous amount of pulled pork inside. Top with shredded red cabbage and coriander leaves, then a dollop of relish. Serve immediately.

What’s your favourite burger recipe? Tell us in the comments!