Monthly Archives: November 2014

Ciceri e Tria – pasta and chickpeas!

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I was inspired to make this recipe at one of Vini’s sagra nights, where they celebrated Puglia’s rich cuisine and one of my favourite regions in Southern Italy. This pasta recipe has its origins from Arabia, a culture who at one time ruled the Apulia region and has become a symbol of Salento, Puglia. Ciceri means “chickpeas” in Latin and Tria means “pasta” in Arabic. I could not find a better dish to symbolise my love for the humble chickpea. So resilient, simple and honest!

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When preparing Ciceri e Tria, one needs a key ingredient – time! In Puglia they top the dish with fried pasta but on this occasion I leave the fried bits for next time. They say fried pasta was added to create a taste of meatiness and texture in the dish when times of meat was scarce. 

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I love fresh pasta and I think this dish deserves it but I am not the kind to make it. Instead I dash to Pasta Emilia where they make  fresh delicious pasta and so many varieties are at your reach. I wanted wide sheets of pasta, the Pappardelle caught my eye, I could see silky smooth sheets of pasta harmoniously wrapping the chickpeas and puree, yes that’s the one, I’ll take 2 bags please! I ran out feeling more determined that this dish was going to be as good as the history books pronounce, rich in culture and spirit. I only wonder if the Arabs in Puglia were as excited as me to see this dish come together.

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At times when I enjoy a recipe at a restaurant it sticks to my head, until I cook it. I mentally go over the experience to capture every detail. For this recipe I remember Vini added a delicious sweet chickpea puree that coated the pasta so well and had everyone around the table talking. Although the traditional recipe doesn’t call for a puree, this touch shows off this iconic dish with an elegant mouthfeel of chickpeas!

Recipe (serves 4)

  • 450g of fresh pappardelle pasta
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 fresh sage leaves
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 30g of fresh chilli, chopped

Chickpea stock

  • 400g of dried chickpeas
  • 2 medium plum tomatoes
  • 1 onion, with skin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, with skin
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • Bouque garnei of parsley stalks and 2 bay leaves

Chickpea puree

  • 5 tbsp of cooked chickpeas
  • cooked carrot, skinned
  • cooked tomato, skinned
  • salt and pepper to taste


Soak good quality chickpeas overnight. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Place them in a pot and cover with fresh water. Add the onion, bouquet garnei , carrot, celery, tomatoes and garlic. Bring water to a simmer, add the salt, cover the pan and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the chickpeas become very tender. Once chickpeas are ready pull pot off the heat and scoop 5 tablespoons of chickpeas, carrot and 1 tomato for puree. Blend to make a smooth puree, add salt and pepper to taste, set aside as it becomes the sauce to combine your pasta in.


Madras fish curry!


I am often hesitant to try Asian recipes and more so Indian cuisine. We often get consumed by flavours we grow up with or recognise as adults. But I say don’t be afraid to expand your cooking ability, dive into them, if they inspire your senses. I was inspired to make this recipe by a friend. The photo she shared of the dish, a Rick Stein Continue reading

Goats cheese stuffed peppers!

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If you stumble upon piquillo peppers, then grab them!  they are a variety of capsicum with a sweet taste but no heat. In Spain they are about 10 cm long, traditionally grown in Northern Spain near the town of Lodosa. Very rarely will you find this variety in Australia, so for this recipe you can use the long red capsicum and chop 1/4 off the top. In Spain they are often stuffed with seafood, bacalao (salted cod), minced meat or offal. Here I have chosen a less traditional recipe for it’s stunning simplicity and also the fact that it shows off the sweetness of the roasted capsicum.

Recipe (serves 4)

  • 4 long red peppers
  • 2 small red capsicum (for sauce)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tbsp double cream
  • 250g goats cheese
  • 3 tbsp toasted pine kernels
  • 1 tbsp of thyme


Preheat oven to 22o degrees. Place all 6 peppers in a baking tray, drizzle olive oil and roast them in the oven for 45 minute or until nicely charred. After roasting leave them to cool, then carefully peel them so as not to break the soft flesh. Chop 2 peppers for the sauce. Heat olive oil in a pan, add the onion and fry until soft. Add the garlic and chopped peppers stir until you can smell the garlic, then pour the cream. Transfer the sauce to a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chop the goats cheese, mix together with pine kernels, black pepper and thyme. Carefully stuff your peppers with the goats cheese mixture. Place the stuffed peppers in the oven for 10 minutes. With your creative spirit place the sauce on a plate then top it with your stunning stuffed peppers, enjoy!



Vini brings Puglia to Sydney!

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Puglia is a little more rustic than other parts of Italy. Its major cities like Bari, Lecce and Trani are less visited by tourists than, say, Milan or Rome. But Puglia’s cuisine and wine makes it a fabulous destination. Many Puglian dishes have their origins in “cucina povera”, making use of what’s available! A classic example is one of the region’s signature dishes, Ciceri e Tria and the reason I was determined to make it to Vini’s Tuesday Sagra dinner. A four course dinner that celebrates an Italian region, and on

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A local favourite near you, just like West Juliett!

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Cafes are finding ideal spaces in Sydney’s outer suburbs and turning them into local favourites with a buzz! I don’t often venture outside Surry Hills, but when I do, I convince myself it’s for a good reason. On this occasion it sure was! West Juliett a local favourite in Marrickville has become a hit for Sydney’s breakfast scene. This cafe serves up a tasty rustic fare, which draws the crowds. As soon as we manage to secure a table outside, we order the 12-hour Roasted Pork Salad and a Juliett Salad of Continue reading

Sunday night with a no fuss Silverbeet crusty pie!

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After spending most of the day outdoors enjoying the Sydney Spring weather, I am beat, so a simple but tasty dish is all I need to end the day! Today I was lucky to stumble on a baby silverbeet, their young leaves are sweet and can also be eaten in salads. The versatile Silverbeet (also known as Chard) is sure to be an easy means to a no fuss Sunday dinner. This robust vegetable is very popular in Mediterranean cuisine and it’s said the first varieties were traced back to Sicily. This humble vegetable is packed with earthy flavours so best to keep it simple. I like them on crusty pastry mixed with other seasonal green vegetables like beetroot leaves and zucchini. You can enhance the flavours with feta, pecorino cheese and plenty of olive oil.

Recipe (serves 2)

  • 1/2 bunch of baby silverbeet
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp of young celery leaves
  • 1 brown onion, sliced
  • i clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced
  • 4 tbsp of chopped parsley
  • 4 tbsp beetroot leaves, chopped
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 150g of feta
  • 50g of pecorino
  • salt and black pepper

Tart pastry

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 100g of cold butter, in cubes
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 tbsp of water


Breakdown the butter in the flour until it feels like breadcrumbs. Mix well into a ball and cover with glad wrap. Let it sit in the fridge for 1/2 hour. Bake the tart for 35 minutes until pastry is shiny and golden. It’s best to serve at room temperature, so let it rest for about 10 minutes. The vegetables should be sautéed in a pan until they begin to wilt.

A little taste of Japan at Devon cafe!

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The coffee is good at Devon cafe, sourced from Perth roaster, 5 Senses. They serve creative recipes like their Japanese inspired dish – miso cured salmon sprinkled with furikake, accompanied with a rice eel croquette, soft boiled eggs (onsen tamago), a little salad and a dollop of kewpie (Japanese mayonnaise)! Furikake is a dry Japanese seasoning often sprinkled on rice. It consists of a mixture of grounded dried fish, seaweed and sugar. There are other innovative dishes on their menu inspired by ingredients like Furikake. It shows their menu is well thought out and constantly inspired by good food. So if you stop for a coffee at Devon, expect to be swayed to stay by an eye catching dish!

Devon Cafe

76 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills
NSW 2010

(02) 9211 8777

Mon to Fri 6:30 am – 4:30 pm
Sat to Sun 8:00 am – 3:30 pm

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