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Easy Recipes Using Fresh Herbs

Chocolate Chilli Cake - Pastel de Chocolate y Chile - for Valentine's Day

200 g butter, chopped
200 g dark chocolate - at least 70%, chopped
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons plain flour, sifted

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 to 2 Cherry Chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 170˚C.

20 cm cake tin, or springform pan, greased and the base lined with baking paper

Stir together the butter and chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until melted.

Stir in the sugar and vanilla and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Gradually whisk in the eggs then fold in the flour, salt, cinnamon and chilli. Pour into prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the centre of the cake is set but not too firm.

Transfer to a rack and leave to cool completely in the tin.

Ganache Icing

250 g dark chocolate - at least 70%, chopped

1/3 cup cream

Stir together the butter and chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until melted.  Remove from heat, cool, stirring occasionally.  When cold, whip until thickened.  Spread over top and sides of cake.  Decorate with candy chillis.  Keeps for up to 3 days.

Parsley and Pistachio Pesto 

1 1/2 cups firmly packed Parsley leaves

1/4 cup roasted Pistachio nuts

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1/2 cup light extra virgin olive oil

60g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Salt and Pepper to taste


Place Parsley, nuts  and garlic into a food processor.  Pulse/ Process until almost smooth,  scraping down sides occasionally.  With the motor running, add the oil in  a slow stream. Process until all oil is combined.  Spoon Pesto mixture into a bowl, add the  Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

**If you want to jazz up your pesto, use roasted garlic instead. Cut the tops off whole garlic cloves, or a head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. Place in oven at 180C for about 30 minutes. Cool, then squeeze the garlic out of the cloves.  The paste will have a nutty, sweetish flavour.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Fill flat mushrooms with a mixture of crumbled feta, finely chopped oregano and crushed garlic.  

Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 220C until golden.  Serve with lemon wedges.


Herb Tart

Using your favourite shortcrust pastry, line a 30cm flan tin, bake and cool.

Filling

800 gms leeks - discard green tops, wash and thinly slice the white part

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

80 gms butter

2 cups fresh herbs, finely chopped - choose a combination of parsley, tarragon, thyme, basil, oregano - or your own favourite herbs.  Have a balance of mild, parsley, tarragon, chives, chervil, then add some stronger varieties, thyme, oregano, basil, sage, savory.

3 eggs

3 egg yolks

700 gms sour cream

2 cups freshly grated Parmesan 

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in a pan, add leeks and garlic, cook over low heat until softened.  Add the fresh herbs and stir. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool.  Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks and sour cream until well blended, then stir in the Parmesan.  Add the leeks to the cream mixture , season, and spread mixture into the pastry base.  Bake at 180C for about 50 minutes and until set and golden brown.  Serve with rocket salad.

Carrot and Coriander Soup

2 tsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 leek, chopped

6 large carrots, chopped

2 large zucchini , chopped

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

4 tabs chopped coriander

Warm the olive oil in a large pan, add the onion, garlic and leek and allow them to soften for a couple of minutes. Then add the carrots and zucchini. Stir, cover pan with a lid, turn down to simmer and cook for ten minutes. Add 1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Stir in the coriander and serve, or blend until smooth if preferred.

Crostini

Toss together quartered cherry tomatoes, chopped mint leaves, steamed broad beans, and sliced crispy chorizo.  Serve on toasted mini baguettes.

Margarita  Salsa

½ cup red onion, chopped

2 cup diced mangoes or peaches

1 to 2 tbs minced, seeded Jalapeno or other small Chilli

2 tbs fresh Coriander leaves, chopped

1 tbs fresh Mexican Tarragon leaves, finely chopped

3 tbs Tequila OR orange juice

2 tbs lime juice

1 tbs lime zest

Mix well, stand for at least ½ hour.  Serve at room temperature.

Delicious as a BBQ meat accompaniment or topping for baked potatoes.

Pasta with Sorrel and Lemon

Serves 2

100 gm Farfalle or pasta of choice

1/4 cup olive oil

25 gm ricotta cheese

Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tbs fresh parsley, chopped

1 tbs fresh mint, chopped

1 tbs fresh chives, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup sorrel leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Cook pasta according to directions.

 While pasta is cooking, put ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice, and herbs into a processor, drizzle in olive oil, pulse to just blend. Season with salt and pepper.

When the pasta is cooked set aside 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain and return to pot. Add the sorrel and cooking water if needed.

Serve topped with pine nuts.

Fiesta Salsa

4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

2 large cucumbers, diced

1 cup fresh corn kernels

1 green capsicum, diced

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 large avocado, diced

1 cherry chilli, finely chapped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

¼ cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup coriander, chopped

¼ cup parsley, chopped

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

Pepper and salt 

Coriander sprigs for garnish

Place all ingredients in a large glass or ceramic salad bowl and toss gently until well combined.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Serve as a side dish, or as is with lime wedges and organic corn chips.

White Bean Dip

400 gm cooked cannellini beans  OR

1 400gm can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 cloves finely chopped garlic

1 tbs finely chopped parsley

1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

Juice of 1 lemon

½ cup olive oil

sea salt flakes

Mash the beans in a bowl with a fork, until almost smooth.  Add juice and oil, combine.  Add the garlic, parsley and rosemary.  Mix together, and add salt to taste.  Chill and serve.

Five Herb Salsa Verde

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons minced parsley

3 tablespoons minced chives

3 tablespoons minced tarragon

2 tablespoons minced mint

2 tablespoons minced dill

1 small shallot, minced

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and finely chopped

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar  

Salt and Pepper

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a glass or ceramic bowl, season with pepper and salt.  Refrigerate overnight, bring to room temperature before serving.