These recipes were created for Cancer Council's Girls' Night In.
Is a catch up with your favourite girls long overdue? How about catching up for a good cause? Cancer Council’s Girls’ Night In is all about getting your favourite gals together during October and raising money to help beat women’s cancers. And here are some tasty goodies that you can serve up to your friends at your event that can be prepped quickly or made ahead of time. Think Sweet Potato & Black Pepper Bhajis With Pickled Ginger Yogurt; Gooey Baked Brie With Pesto; Cherry Tomato and Bocconcini Boats; Rockmelon, Prosciutto and Basil and for dessert Minted Fruit Salad With Yuzu. Plus plenty of good conversation of course!
I wanted the dishes to include some healthy options but not punishing because there's no fun in that – so there are some treats for special occasions in these recipes as well. Our Cancer Council’s Girls’ Night In centred around food (of course) but other ideas can include clothes swaps, games nights, movie nights or pamper nights. For us, just give us good company, food and that's all we need.
Cancer is of course a subject that touches many. Every day in Australia around 50 women are diagnosed with a breast or gynaecological cancer. Mr NQN's beloved aunt Sisko went through it and thankfully came through it fine but not everyone does. And that's not an acceptable amount for the families and friends that have lost someone.
I'm lucky enough to have super supportive and generous girlfriends. As soon as I registered to host a Cancer Council Girls’ Night In, Belinda offered her place or Alyson's. We ended up having it at Alyson's place which is a beautiful waterfront apartment in Pyrmont. While I was prepping she popped out to buy a few things knowing that I didn't have time to get them.
There were seven of us plus Belinda's daughter Mia. Belinda offered to kick off the donations and organise others to do the same, as she's great at that, Queen Viv turned up after a tough few weeks at work and even though she is on a strict budget gave generously, Louise came along bearing flowers for Alyson and donated unprompted and Cheryl brought her own dips as she thought I might like to try some and Debra washed and cleaned up afterwards. As they say, I could not have done it without all of these fabulous women and Cancer Council’s Girls’ Night In was the perfect excuse to get everyone together.
Baked brie with pesto
I didn't have a lot of prep time so I wanted to make recipes that could be done quickly and easily. I made the Sweet Potato & Black Pepper Bhajis With Pickled Ginger Yogurt ahead of time so that they just needed a quick bake in the oven. The Baked Brie with Pesto went in first and can I say that this was the unqualified hit of the evening. I usually put garlic or chilli jam with it but since I had some pesto from the Cherry Tomato and Bocconcini Boats I used that and it was so good I'll do it time and time again.
Minted fruit salad with yuzu
The Rockmelon, Prosciutto and Basil offered something fresh and savoury sweet. And while we're usually all about chocolate, I decided to make a fruit salad made with fresh blueberries, figs and strawberries. It had a little drizzle of yuzu syrup and a fresh mint chiffonade on top. I'm not usually a fruit salad eater but this was super tasty and when I got home Mr NQN got sad puppy eyes when he realised that he missed out on his favourite dish of fruit salad!
So this October get your girlfriends together and host your own Cancer Council Girls’ Night In. Register to host online and you’ll receive a free Girls’ Night in host kit (with loads of great tips and cute resources to make your event super easy to organise). Don’t forget to ask your friends to donate to attend your event - even a donation of $10 can help pay for an Information Pack to help a woman cope after surgery. $100 can help provide accommodation for a woman who needs to travel and stay away from home to access treatment.
So tell me Dear Reader, has cancer touched you in any way? What sort of activities do you do with your besties? What does your ideal Cancer Council Girls’ Night In involve?
My Cancer Council Girls’ Night In recipe ideas
Sweet Potato & Black Pepper Bhajis With Pickled Ginger Yogurt
At the risk of sounding boastful these are really tasty and well worth making. You can do these ahead of time and warm them up in the oven before serving them.
- 500g/1.1lbs. sweet potato, peeled and grated
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 5-6 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons cornflour/fine cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
- 1.5 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup natural yogurt
- 1 teaspoon pickled ginger, finely chopped
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 200C/400F and line three baking trays with parchment. Mix the sweet potato, onion, olive oil, cornflour, garlic, black pepper and salt in a bowl.
Step 2 - Make small circles of the mix and bake for 22 minutes. Carefully turn over with an eggflip and bake for another 5-10 minutes until they can hold together. Mix the pickled ginger with the yogurt and serve the bhajis with these.
Cherry Tomato and Bocconcini Boats
I added some pesto to these appetisers to give them more of a pop of flavour! They're very easy to put together and can be done in less than 10 minutes!
- 250g/8.8ozs. punnet cherry tomatoes
- 375g/13.25ozs. bucket bocconcini (or around 10, it depends on the size of cherry tomatoes and the bocconcini)
- Large basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons basil pesto
Step 1 - Halve the cherry tomatoes and then cut the bocconcini into thirds. Place a basil leaf on the bottom and dip the bocconcini into the pesto and then top with half a cherry tomato.
Baked Brie With Pesto
You know the part where you groan with pleasure as you see someone ladle some melted cheese onto a piece of baguette? Very little beats melted cheese but when swirled through with pesto it becomes the hit of the evening.
- 250g/8.8ozs. wheel brie
- 1 generous tablespoon basil pesto
- 1 small baguette, sliced
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 165C/330C. Place brie in a coccotte or a ceramic baking dish (a large ramekin with high sides will also do). Top with pesto and bake for 10-15 minutes until the brie is completely melted. Serve with sliced baguette.
Rockmelon, Prosciutto and Basil
This is pure spring or summer in a plate. Thin slices of prosciutto are wrapped around sweet, juicy melon with a basil leaf tucked in. This is simple but tasty entertaining.
- 1 Rockmelon (not too big)
- 250g/8.8ozs. thinly sliced prosciutto
- About 12 large basil leaves
Step 1 - Deseed and slice the rockmelon and remove the skin. Wrap each piece of rockmelon with a slice of prosciutto and tuck in a basil leaf.
Minted Fruit Salad With Yuzu
I must admit I'm not really a fruit salad lover but with this one, I picked some of my favourite fruit and just added a few drops of yuzu syrup on top and finely sliced mint leaves.
- 200g/7ozs. punnet fresh blueberries
- 200g/7ozs. fresh strawberries
- 3 fresh figs
- 5 large mint leaves
- 3 teaspoons yuzu syrup*
Yuzu syrup is available from Japanese grocery stores. If you can't find this mix 1 tablespoon sifted icing sugar with 1 tablespoon mandarin or orange juice
Step 1 - Cut the calyx from the strawberries and quarter them. Cut the figs into six slices and place the figs, strawberries and blueberries in a bowl. Finely chop the mint leaves and add the yuzu syrup to the bowl and gently toss. Divide into six bowls.
Cucumber, Mint and Lime water
I call this "spa water" because spas often serve water flavoured with fruit and this one has cucumber, mint and lime. And a little tip: place clean vase pebbles at the bottom of a drink dispenser so that when it runs low, the fruit will not clog the dispenser and it will still flow freely until the end.
- 1 small cucumber, sliced
- 1 small lime, sliced
- 1/2 bunch mint
Step 1 - Fill a jug or a water dispenser with water and then add cucumber, lime and mint. Leave on the table so that people can help themselves.
_ A healthy diet and weight is important to reduce your cancer risk, which is why I have tried to feature fruit and vegetables in a number of my recipes for my Cancer Council Girls’ Night In. For more details on Cancer Council’s recommendations for healthy eating, see here: http://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/nutrition-and-physical-activity/_