Chicken & Chorizo Taco’s

Chicken & Chorizo Taco's

Gone are the days in the Em’s Food kitchen for Old El Paso Taco kits.  I have discovered a far more healthy and exciting option to feed the hoards.  Again, this is a recipe that uses fresh ingredients and good old pantry staples but does not by any means lack in the flavour department.  These were gold medal winning, champion taco’s that will be on the family favourite list for sure!

 

Prep time:  25  Minutes               Cooking time:  20 Minutes                 $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

500gm of chicken mince

2 chorizo sausages, skin removed and discarded and finely diced

2 tbs of Em’s Mexican Spice Blend, see link below

1 cup of water

1 tbs of tomato paste

1/2 tsp of sugar

12 Corn tortillas (wheat are also fine)

1 cup of sour cream

1 large or 2 small, ripe avocado’s halved, peeled and thinly sliced

Coriander sprigs and lime wedges to serve

 

For the Salsa:

 

400gm tin of super sweet corn, drained and rinsed

400gm tin of black beans, drained and rinsed

2 large, ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

1/2 a red onion, very finely diced

3 tbs of finely chopped coriander

1 green chilli, finely diced (seeds removed optional)

1 tbs of extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lime

Sea salt and pepper

 

Em’s Mexican Spice Blend:

Mexican Spice Blend

 

Heat a large frypan to nice and hot and add the diced chorizo.  Cook for a few minutes until the fat and oil is released and then add the chicken mince.  Use a wooden spoon to break it up, nice and finely and fry until cooked through before adding the spice mix.  Fry for a minute until aromatic and then add the water, tomato paste and sugar.  Season with salt and pepper and mix to combine.  Simmer until thickened and then cover with a lid to keep warm.

 

To make the salsa, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well to combine.  Place in a serving bowl and set aside.

 

Heat a griddle pan or BBQ to nice and hot and cook the tortilla’s for approximately 20 seconds on each side.

 

To assemble a taco, place a small dollop of sour cream on a tortilla and use the back of the spoon to spread it around.  Top with the Chorizo mixture, a good helping of salsa and a couple of slices of avocado.  Top with coriander sprigs and serve with lime wedges.  This is a great meal to share in the centre of the table.




Green Tea Beef Yakitori with Seasoned Rice & Radish Salad

Green Tea Yakitori Beef with Seasoned Rice & Radish Salad

Holy schamoly these simple, Japanese inspired Green Tea marinated skewers were the absolute gear.  My Husband LOVED this meal as it was so tasty, really healthy and just……delicious.  Dinner does not need to be boring.  With a few pantry ingredients you can take a plain old beef skewer and turn it into something awe inspiring that doesn’t pull too hard on the purse strings and will make you the star of the Family, if you weren’t that already!

 

Prep time:  20  Minutes         Marinating time:  At least 1 hour          Cooking time:  20  Minutes          $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

800 gms of beef, diced into 2cm chunks   (I used scotch fillet but rump or porterhouse would also be good.  Whatever is on special!)

1/2 cup of light soy sauce

2 tbs of sweet chilli sauce

1 lemon grass stem, finely chopped (use a small hand blender, grater or processor)

3cm piece of ginger, grated

2 tbs of finely chopped coriander

1 tsp of chilli oil (optional)

2 tsp of loose leaf green tea (or two tea bags sliced open and tea removed)

4 tbs of pickled ginger, to serve

 

For the Seasoned Rice:

 

1.5 cups of Jasmine rice

2 cups of water

1 tsp of grated ginger

Sea salt and pepper

2 tbs of toasted sesame seeds (some reserved for garnish)

2 spring onions, finely sliced (some reserved for garnish)

1 sheet of nori, quartered lengthways and thinly sliced (some reserved for garnish)

 

For the Radish salad:

 

4-5 radishes, thinly sliced with a mandolin or fine slicing attachment

A handful of snow pea sprouts, ends removed and leaves finely chopped

2 spring onions, finely sliced

2 tbs of store bought ponzu dressing*

 

Soak 8 wooden skewers in a sink or bowl of cold water for 10 minutes, this will prevent them from burning on the BBQ.

 

In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the soy, chilli sauce, chilli oil, green tea, coriander, ginger and lemon grass.  Add the beef and toss to coat.  Marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour but the longer the better.  Once marinated, thread the beef on to the skewers, making sure they are nice and tight and pour over the remaining marinade.

 

Place the rice, water, ginger and a generous pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 12 minutes.  Remove from the heat and leave the lid on for 5-10 minutes.

 

Finely slice the radishes and then finely julienne the slices so you have tiny match sticks of radish.  You can do this in piles to save time.  Place the radish in the bowl with the snow pea sprouts and spring onions.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine just before serving.

 

Heat a BBQ plate or grill to nice and hot.  Sear the beef skewers for a couple of minutes on each side until nice and caramelised and then pour over the remaining marinade.  The beef should be cooked for about 8 minutes in total for medium rare.  Remove from the BBQ and set aside to rest.

 

Remove the lid from the rice and add the spring onion, sesame seeds and Nori strips, reserving some of each of these items for garnish.  Season with salt and pepper and use a fork to fluff and mix the rice.

 

To serve, spoon the rice mixture into a small ramekin and invert on to each plate.  Add a nice little pile of the radish salad and top with two of the beef skewers.  Sprinkle over the remaining spring onion, sesame seeds and nori strips and drizzle over any leftover juices from the meat.  Pop a nice little pile of pickled ginger on each plate and listen to the groans of pure delight from your dinner table guests!

 

*Ponzu dressing can be found in the Asian section of most big supermarkets.  It is quite easy to make so if you can’t find it, google Ponzu Dressing to find an easy recipe.

 

Leftover Nori?  You may want to cook this……

Teriyaki Salmon with Asian Mushrooms & Ginger Rice

 

 

 

 




Lamb Shank Rogan Josh

Lamb Shank Rogan Josh

I understand that people are often put off by a long ingredient list.  What I have come to realise, cooking dishes like this from scratch is that once you have the ingredients, you can make so many dishes inspired by India, The Middle East, Lebanon etc etc and it really only takes minutes to make.  The difference between the made-from-scratch approach to spooning something out of a jar is, in my eyes, most satisfying as you know what you are feeding yourself and your family, it is far healthier and I think if you were to add it up, it would be cheaper.  A little spice goes a long way and the flavour of these slow cooked, tender spiced lamb shanks was so darn good.  Not to mention the scent of your kitchen as these babies bubble away on the stove for hours.  So, don’t be put off by the long list but rather be inspired, give it a go and I can guarantee, you will be hard pressed to go back to curry in a jar.

This dish can be done in the slow cooker if that is your preference.  Brown the meat and make the sauce as per directions below, transfer to the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

 

Prep time:  30  Minutes              Cooking time:  3.5 Hours             $$   Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

4 lamb shanks, excess fat trimmed if you so desire

1 tbs of ghee (1 tbs of butter and 1 tbs of oil to substitute)

2 brown onions, halved and sliced thinly top to bottom

2 cinnamon sticks

7  cardamom pods

1 tsp of fennel seeds

1 tsp of cumin seeds

2 bay leaves

3 garlic cloves, finely minced

3cm piece of ginger, finely grated

1 tsp of chilli powder

2 tsp of ground cumin

2 tsp of ground coriander

2 tbs of tomato paste

2 x 400gm tins of tomatoes

1 tbs of garam masala

4 tbsp of yoghurt

2 tsp of sugar

Sea salt and cracked pepper

1/2 a bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

2 tbs of chopped mint

Greek yoghurt, coriander sprigs, poppadoms  and chopped roasted almonds to serve

Brown rice & peas to serve

 

Heat a large,  heavy based pot and add a little oil.  Season the lamb shanks on both sides and brown in the pot until golden on all sides.  remove and set aside.  Lower the heat of the pot and add the ghee.  Fry the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and bay leaves for approximately 1-2 minutes until aromatic, being careful not to burn the spices.  Add the onions to the pot with a good pinch of salt and allow them to cook down until golden and soft.  Add the garlic and ginger and continue to fry for a couple of minutes before adding the chilli powder, ground cumin and coriander.  Once aromatic, add the tomato paste, stirring to combine before pouring in the tomatoes.  Season with sugar, a little more salt and pepper and then stir through the yoghurt.  If it looks a little curdled, don’t be alarmed as the sauce will come together while cooking.

 

Return the lamb shanks to the pot, making sure they are fully immersed in the liquid.  tear off a sheet of baking paper and lay it on the mixture before placing a tight fitting lid on.  Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 2.5-3 Hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is falling off the bone.  Sprinkle over the garam masala and coriander, stirring gently in a folding motion to combine, just before serving.

 

Place the yoghurt and mint in a small bowl, season and stir to combine.

 

I love serving curries with a combination of nutty brown rice mixed with sweet baby peas.  I cook my rice according to packet instructions, using the absorption method and give the baby peas a few minutes in the microwave, in a bowl with a tablespoon of water, covered with cling wrap.  Once the rice has rested and the peas are cooked and drained, I stir the peas through the rice with a knob of butter and a little salt and pepper.

 

To serve the curry, divide rice between four serving plates.  Top with a lamb shank, spoon over the sauce and place a generous dollop of yoghurt on top.  Garnish with roasted almonds and coriander sprigs and serve with poppadoms.

 

Wondering what else to do with your spices?  Click on the link below to see what else is on the Em’s Food spice route….

Em’s Food For Friends

 

 

 

 




Smoked Paprika Chicken with Quinoa Salad & Avocado Cream

Smoked Paprika Chicken with Quinoa Salad & Avocado Cream

Not sure what takes centre stage in this recipe.  The smokey, sticky chicken thighs, cooked to perfection on the Barbecue.  The nutty quinoa salad with gloriously sweet summer tomatoes and tangy olives or the silky avocado cream that bought the whole dish together.  This was a winner chicken dinner, perfect for a summers evening that in my eyes, ticked every box.

 

Prep time:  35 minutes         Marinating time:  Minimum 1 hour       Cooking time:  35  Minutes      $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

For the Chicken:

 

8 chicken thigh fillets, trimmed of any excess fat

1/4 cup of olive oil

2 tbs of smoked paprika

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

2 tbs of lemon thyme (substitute normal thyme or leave out)

1 tbs of honey

Sea salt and cracked pepper

2 tbs of finely chopped flat leaf parsley to serve

 

For the Salad:

 

1 cup of quinoa, cooked according to packet instructions

1 punnet of assorted baby tomatoes, halved

1 cup of pitted kalamata olives

1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced top to bottom

2 handfuls of baby rocket leaves

2 tbs of finely chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tbs of olive oil

2 tbs of red wine vinegar

1 tsp of dijon mustard

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 tsp of caster sugar

Sea salt and cracked pepper

 

For the Avocado Cream:

 

1 large, ripe avocado

2 tbs of greek yoghurt

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

A handful of mint leaves

1-2 tbs of water

Salt & Pepper

 

In a small mixing bowl, place the olive oil, paprika, lemon juice, lemon thyme, honey and salt and pepper and whisk to combine.  Place the chicken thighs in a shallow dish and pour over the marinade, spreading it around so that all of the chicken is coated.  Refrigerate for at least one hour before cooking.

 

In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, tomatoes, olives, rocket, onion and chopped parsley and set aside.  In a small bowl whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, dijon and sugar and season with a little salt and pepper.  Set aside and pour the dressing over the salad just before serving.

 

Scoop out the avocado flesh into a small food processor or nutri ninja and add the yoghurt, mint, lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Blitz to combine, adding a little water if the mixture is too thick.  Once smooth and creamy, set aside.

 

Heat a BBQ plate to nice and hot and cook the chicken for approximately 10 minutes, either side.  If the chicken is looking quite charred, reduce the heat and pull the hood of the Barbie down, if you don’t have a hood on your Barbie then you can finish the chicken  in a 180° oven for about 10-15 minutes.

 

To plate the dish, put a nice dollop of avocado cream on the centre of the plate and use the back of the spoon to spread it around in a circular motion.  Divide the salad between the plates, making a nice pile and top with a couple of chicken thighs and a sprinkling of parsley.  Pour over any pan juices from the chicken thighs and serve.

 

Leftover Mint?  You may want to cook this…..

Sweet & Sour Pork Spare Ribs with Cucumber & Mint Salsa

 

 




Linguine with Roasted Summer Veg

Linguine with Roasted Summer Veg

I love a simple pasta and especially when the bulk of the ingredients come from my own garden. My summer veg are in abundance right now so it is a no brainer that I incorporate them in to as many recipes as I can and I often find that roasting them brings out an amazing sweetness and intensity of flavour that is not present when frying or steaming.  This was a really easy, healthy dish that the whole family will love.

If you wish to make this a vegetarian meal, leave out the anchovy fillets and season with salt and pepper to your liking.

 

Prep time:  15  Minutes            Cooking time:  30 Minutes              $  Low budget

 

Serves 4

 

500gm of linguine

1 punnet of assorted heirloom baby tomatoes, halved

2 zucchini, halved and sliced into 1.5cm chunks

1 red onion, peeled and cut in to wedges

1 yellow capsicum, cut into chunks

1 tsp of chilli flakes

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Sea salt and pepper

4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 cup of pitted kalamata olives, halved

2 handfuls of baby rocket leaves

1 cup of basil leaves

Freshly grated parmesan and lemon wedges to serve

 

Pre heat the oven to 200°C

 

Place the zucchini, tomatoes, capsicum and red onion in a large lined baking tray.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle over the chilli flakes and lemon zest, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.  Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the veggies are golden and tender.

 

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the linguine according to packet instructions.

 

Heat a fry pan and add enough olive oil to cover the base of the pan.  Add the anchovy fillets and garlic slices and cook for a minute or two until aromatic, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Remove the veggies from the oven and add them to the pan with the olives and fry for a few minutes.

 

Drain the pasta, reserving half a cup of pasta liquid.  Toss the rocket and basil leaves through the veg mixture and add the linguine to the pan with the pasta liquid.  Drizzle over a little more olive oil and give the linguine a good toss before serving with freshly grated parmesan and lemon wedges.

 

 




Thai Red Curry Paste

Thai Red Curry Paste

Being the busy little bees that we are these days, it is so much easier to just open a jar or tin of Red Curry Paste and be done with it.  But if you can spare 5 minutes it is actually so easy to make and tastes so much better…… fresher.  I have to admit, if I was really going to give this paste the authenticity it deserves, I would have pounded everything in my mortar and pestle but I find it much easier and less time consuming to just bung it in the food processor.  At least I know what is in it!

 

Prep time:  15 Minutes               Makes:  1.5 cups (enough for 2 large curries)

 

20 dried red chillies, halved and seeds discarded, soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes

4 tsp of coriander seeds

2 stalks of lemon grass, white part only and roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves

4cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped (I can never get galangal, which is the norm)

2 tsp of coriander seeds

1 tsp of black peppercorns

6 Kaffir lime leaves, spine removed and discarded

3 french shallots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 long red chillies, seeds removed for less heat

1 bunch of coriander stems and roots, washed thoroughly

1 cube or 1.5 tsp of shrimp paste, crumbled

Juice of 1/2 a lime

2 tsp of brown sugar

1 tbs of fish sauce

1 tbs of water (if needed)

 

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until you have a fine paste.  If it is having trouble getting around the processor then just add a little water.  Paste is suitable to freeze for up to 3 months and can be kept in the fridge for 1 week.

 

 




Beef & Eggplant Tagine with Pistachio Crumble

Beef & Eggplant Tagine with Pistachio Crumble

You may have realised by now that I am a huge fan of Middle Eastern inspired food.  I say ‘inspired’ as the recipes are probably not authentic however, I do believe they have the quintessential flavours of the region.  The pistachio, preserved lemon and coriander crumble that I added to the dish made for a sensational garnish and elevated the flavour to new heights, putting an Em’s Food spin on an already tasty creation.  If you are a fan of a cracking Tagine, then I think you will love this one!

 

Prep time:  30  Minutes              Cooking time:  2.5-3 Hours                 $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

Oil for frying

800gm of chuck steak, cut into 3cm cubes

1 eggplant, cut into 3cm cubes

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2cm piece of ginger, grated

1 large brown onion, halved and sliced

1 tsp of allspice

1 tsp of chilli flakes

2 tsp of ground cumin

2 tsp of ground coriander

A pinch of saffron threads

1 cup of beef stock

400gm tin of diced tomatoes

1 tsp of honey

1/2 cup of pitted green olives

1/2 bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

Sea salt and cracked pepper

4 tbs of greek yoghurt

Cous cous to serve

 

For the Crumble:

 

3 wedges of preserved lemon, flesh removed and discarded

1/4 cup of toasted pistachios, roughly chopped

1/2 cup of coriander leaves

 

Pre heat the oven to 180°C.  Place the allspice, chilli flakes, ground coriander and cumin in a small bowl with a good pinch of salt and mix to combine.  Place the eggplant chunks in a lined baking tray and drizzle with a little oil.  Sprinkle over 1 heaped teaspoon of the spice mix and toss well to coat the eggplant.  Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes until golden.  Remove and set aside.

 

Heat a heavy based pan and add a little oil.  Cook the beef, in batches until golden, remove from the pan and set aside.  In the same pan, add a little more oil if necessary and lightly fry the onion until just starting to soften.  Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute before adding the remaining spices and saffron threads to the pan.  Mix well and then pour in the stock, tomatoes and honey, season with salt and pepper and add the beef back to the pan, stirring to combine.  Bring to the boil then lower the heat to a simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally.  To keep the moisture in, I like to lay a sheet of baking paper on top of the mixture before placing the lid on.

 

After 1.5 hours, remove the lid and check that the beef is tender.  If so, add the eggplant and olives to the Tagine and gently fold them through.  If the beef is still a little tough, it may need another 30 minutes with the lid on.  If the beef is tender allow the sauce to simmer with the lid off, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes.  Stir the coriander through just before serving.

 

Finely dice the preserved lemon and finely chop the coriander.  Mix them together with the chopped pistachios in a small bowl.

 

To serve, divide cous cous between 4 serving bowls and top with the Beef Tagine.  Dollop on the yoghurt and sprinkle over the crumble.  Serve with steamed greens.

 

Leftover preserved lemons?  You may want to make this……

http://emsfoodforfriends.com.au/king-prawn-and-preserved-lemon-bruschetta/

 




Classic Potato Bake

Classic Potato Bake

Who doesn’t love a potato bake?  My kids have been begging me to make this for a while now as it is not something we indulge in very often.  Why?  Because when I make a potato bake it is the real deal, no skinny alternatives, just cream and cheese (with loads of herbs and a bit of white wine thrown in for good measure).  It is pure indulgence, hence moderation is advised.  One thing is for sure, only having it every now and then makes it a whole lot more special.

 

Prep time:  25 Minutes             Cooking time:  Approximately 1 Hour               $  Low Budget

 

Serves 6

 

Oil for frying

5 large brushed potatoes, peeled

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 large brown onion, peeled, halved and sliced thinly

6 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and stalks discarded, finely chopped

2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves removed and stalks discarded, finely chopped

1/2 cup of dry white wine

300ml of pure cream

1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup of grated tasty cheese

Sea salt and cracked pepper

Rosemary leaves and sweet paprika for garnish

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C

 

Place the potatoes in a large pot of water and bring to the boil.  Boil for approximately 15 minutes, drain and allow to cool slightly before cutting into slices about half a centimetre in thickness.

 

Heat a frypan and add a little oil.  Fry the onion on a medium heat until soft and then add the garlic and herbs.  Fry for a minute or so until aromatic and then pour in the wine.  Allow the wine to reduce by half and then pour in the cream.  Season generously with salt and pepper, stir to combine and allow to simmer for approximately 5 minutes.

 

Layer the potato in a medium sized baking tray.  When you get through about half of the potatoes, pour half of the onion mixture over the top.  Repeat with the remaining potatoes and onion mixture.  Scatter over the parmesan and tasty cheese, sprinkle with rosemary and paprika and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until golden.  You can also check that it is ready by piercing the centre with a skewer to check that the potato is cooked through.  Serve with your favourite barbecued meat or roast and a lovely fresh salad.

 

 




Greek Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Kipfler Potatoes

Greek Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Kipfler Potatoes

Woah.  This dish was stunning.  The most tender, juicy lamb, floating in a fragrant, Greek inspired sauce laden with gorgeous, waxy Kipfler potatoes.  Dotted with a  few briny Kalamata olives and a dollop of luscious Greek yoghurt this was restaurant quality, for sure.

This dish could absolutely be done in the slow cooker but if I am honest, the oven worked superbly.  The potatoes had a lovely golden hue and the lamb developed a flavour packed crust that won’t be achieved in the slow cooker, unless you choose to finish it off in the oven for 30 minutes.  If using the slow cooker, brown your meat first and cook on low for 8 hours.  If you are not going to finish in the oven then you may want to reduce your liquid content to 1 cup of stock.

 

Prep time:  25  Minutes                     Cooking time:  3.5  Hours                   $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 6

 

1.4kg Lamb shoulder, bone in

5 cloves of garlic, finely minced

Grated rind of 1 lemon

2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

1 tbs of dried Rigani (normal dried oregano will do)*

2 tbs of finely chopped dill

1kg of Kipfler potatoes, cut in half diagonally (or thirds depending on size.  You could also use whole baby potatoes)

1 cup of dry white wine

2 cups of chicken stock

700ml of tomato passata

Juice of 1/2  a lemon

Sea salt and cracked pepper

1 tsp of sugar

24 Kalamata olives (I used pip in for deeper flavour)

1 cup of greek yoghurt, to serve

Finely chopped dill for garnish

 

Preheat the oven to 160°C

 

Heat a large, heavy based and oven proof pan and add a little oil.  Season the lamb shoulder generously and brown on both sides until nice and golden.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

 

In the same pan, add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick and pour in the wine.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape any lamb bits from the bottom of the pan and then pour in the stock and passata.  Season with a little salt, pepper and sugar, stir and bring to a simmer.

 

Meanwhile, place the garlic, dried oregano, lemon rind and chopped dill in a bowl and mix to combine.  Place the lamb shoulder in the pan, leaving the top of the meat above the sauce and place the herb mixture on top of the lamb, pressing it down with the back of a spoon.  Dot the potatoes around the lamb shoulder, leaving them half exposed (so they go nice and brown on top), place a lid on the pan and place in the oven for 2.5 hours, checking periodically.

 

After 2.5 hours scatter the olives around the lamb, drizzle over the lemon juice and bake with the lid off for a further 30-40 minutes or until the lamb and potatoes are nice and golden and the lamb falls from the bone when pried apart with two forks.

 

To serve the lamb, use a knife to divide the lamb into 6 largish chunks, removing the bones if need be.  Divide the lamb and potatoes between 6 serving plates and then spoon over the sauce and olives.  Top each plate with a dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkle of fresh dill.  Serve with steamed greens or a Greek inspired salad.  Gia Mas!!

 

*Rigani is Greek dried oregano, still on its stalks.  It can be found in specialty food shops….

 

Leftover dill?  You may wish to cook this……

Asparagus and Dill Frittata with Smoked Salmon

 

 




Lemongrass Beef & Noodle Stir Fry

Lemongrass Beef & Noodle Stir Fry

Remember when Stir Fry’s became fashionable?  Like back in the late 80’s early 90’s?  Prior to that they were definitely a dish that for most people was consumed at the local Chinese/Thai restaurant.  For some reason, I recall loading them with 100’s of ingredients and what should have been a simple task, was actually quite a chore.  We used to throw everything in the wok at one time, the meat would be undercooked and the veggie’s overcooked and it would come out looking a bit like prison slop.  Perhaps that was only me and my lack of understanding on how to actually cook a stir fry but over the years, I truly feel I have mastered the method and the ingredients.  Cooking a stir fry is a production line of sorts, albeit an enjoyable one and the end result, particularly of this dish, made me realise just how far I have come.  It was bang on.

 

Prep time:  25  Minutes      Marinating time:  Minimum 15 Minutes        Cooking time:  15  Minutes        $$ Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

Oil for frying  (peanut, rice bran, sunflower)

500gm of beef fillet cut into strips  (you may use a cheaper cut like rump if you like)

2 stalks of lemongrass, white part only

3cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

4 tbs of fish sauce

Juice of 1 lime

11/2 tbs of brown sugar

400gm pack of flat rice stick noodles

150gm of snow peas, tops removed and thinly sliced

3 spring onions, white part sliced into 2cm batons, green part thinly sliced diagonally

1 large carrot, peeled and finely julienned

2 long red chillies (seeds removed optional), thinly sliced

1/2 cup of mint leaves

1/2 cup of Thai basil leaves

1 cup of coriander leaves

2 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded

1/2 cup of toasted peanuts, roughly chopped

 

Place the lemongrass, ginger and garlic in a small food processor and blitz until you have a fine paste.  Combine the paste with the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar and mix well until the sugar has dissolved.  Place half the marinade in a bowl with the beef strips and stir to combine.  Set the remaining marinade aside and allow the beef to marinate for at least 15 minutes.

 

In a small bowl combine the coriander, green spring onion, Thai basil, mint and kaffir lime leaves.  Pour over cold water and add a couple of ice cubes.  Set aside and drain just before serving.

 

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the rice noodles for approximately 6-8 minutes or until just tender.  Drain and run under cold water before adding to the wok at a later stage.

 

While the noodles are cooking, heat a large wok to nice and hot and add a little oil.  Stir fry the beef, in small batches until caramelised (2-3 minutes), stirring continuously and moving around the wok all the time.  Repeat with the remaining beef and set aside.

 

Add a little more oil to the wok and stir fry the white part of the spring onion for approximately 1 minute before adding the snow peas and carrot.  Return the beef to the wok and add the noodles, remaining marinade and half of the chilli and then use a couple of large spoons or spatula’s to toss everything together.

 

To serve, divide the beef and noodles between 4 serving bowls and top with a generous handful of the herb mixture.  Scatter over the remaining chilli slices and toasted peanuts and serve.

 

Leftover Lime Leaves?  You might want to cook this………

Lime Leaf Chicken with Coconut, Ginger and Snow Pea Rice

 

 




Lemon & Oregano Chicken & Pumpkin Tray Bake

Lemon & Oregano Chicken & Pumpkin Tray Bake

If somebody tells me they can’t cook, I think it is a big load of codswallop (is that even a word?).  How much skill do you need to whack a few ingredients on a tray and pop it in the oven?  None.  If you are a person that lacks confidence in the kitchen, then a tray bake is the perfect place to start.  The oven does the cooking while you sit back with a glass of wine and watch the process.  However the oven won’t be hailed as the masterchef……you will!

 

Prep time:  15  Minutes              Cooking time:  35  Minutes                $$  Medium budget

 

Serves 4-6

 

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

8 chicken thigh cutlets, skin on and bone in

1/2 a small Japanese pumpkin, skin on and cut into 8 wedges

2 tsp of dried oregano

1 tsp of dried chilli flakes

Grated rind of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lemon

8 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves removed and stalks discarded

8 small truss tomatoes, cut the truss into pairs

1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts

4 handfuls of baby rocket

1/4 cup of good quality Balsamic vinegar (I use Mazetti 4 leaf brand, it is really good)

100gm of feta, crumbled

Sea salt and pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

 

Line a large baking tray (I use the grill tray out of the oven) with baking paper.  Place the chicken on the tray, skin side up and dot the pumpkin around it.  Drizzle over a decent lug of olive oil and then season with salt, pepper, chilli flakes, dried oregano, fresh oregano and lemon zest, trying to get the majority on the chicken and pumpkin and less on the actual baking paper.  Squeeze over the lemon juice and drizzle with half of the balsamic vinegar before placing in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.

 

At the 20 minute mark, place the tomatoes on the baking tray and drizzle with a little more oil.  Don’t be too precious about where they go, this is the equivalent of Jackson Pollock cooking.  Pop the tray back in the oven for a further 15 minutes or until the tomatoes are starting to blister.

 

While the chicken is in the oven, place the rocket in a bowl and drizzle with a little oil, the remaining balsamic and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to combine and set aside.

 

To serve, divide the rocket between four serving plates and top with the chicken, pumpkin and tomatoes.  Scrape up any leftover bits on the tray and place it on top.  Sprinkle over the pine nuts and fetta and drizzle over any remaining dressing from the rocket.

 

Leftover oregano?  You might want to cook this……

http://emsfoodforfriends.com.au/greek-fish-skewers-chargrilled-veg-tzatziki/

 




Lentil, Kale & Ricotta Lasagne

Lentil, Kale & Ricotta Lasagne

When I informed my family I was making a lasagne out of lentils, kale and ricotta, you could only imagine their reaction.  One of pure horror at the thought of their favourite Italian classic minus the meat.  I waited with baited breath as they took their first mouthful, knowing full well that their reaction would be one of shock, then delight, then praise.  They loved it.  I am quite certain that if I offered them a choice they would go back to the classic as they are conditioned to believing that for a meal to be complete, it must include meat.  However, this scrumptious vegetarian alternative is proof that a meal really just needs a good balance of flavours and textures to satisfy even the harshest critics.

 

Prep time:  35  Minutes             Cooking time:  1 Hour 15 Minutes               $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 6-8 (depending on serving size)

 

For the Lentils:

 

Olive oil for frying

3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 large brown onion, diced

1 tsp of chilli flakes

2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped, stalks discarded

8 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and finely chopped, stalks discarded

2 fresh bay leaves

2 x 400gm tins of brown lentils, drained

1 cup of dry red wine

2 x 400gm tins of diced tomatoes

1 bag of chopped kale or 1/2 a bunch of kale, shredded

4 tbs of tomato paste

1 tsp of sugar

Sea salt and cracked pepper

1 packet of Latina fresh lasagne sheets

1/2 cup of grated parmesan for sprinkling

1/2 cup  of grated mozzarella for sprinkling

 

For the Ricotta:

 

500gm of ricotta

1 cup of milk

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup of grated parmesan

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Sea salt and pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C

 

Heat a large fry pan and add a little olive oil.  Fry the onion for a couple of minutes until soft and then add the garlic, chilli flakes, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves.  Add the lentils to the pan with the red wine, stir to combine and allow to simmer until the wine has reduced by half before pouring in the tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar.  Stir until the tomato paste is mixed in, season well with salt and pepper and simmer for approximately 15 minutes until the sauce is nice and thick.  Once nice and thick, stir the kale through the mixture and allow to wilt but not too much as it will continue to cook in the oven.  Remove the bay leaves before assembling the lasagne.  This can be made ahead and assembled later if you wish.

 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, milk, egg yolks, lemon rind, lemon juice and salt and pepper.  Use a whisk to make sure there are no large lumps of ricotta and the mixture is thick and smooth.

 

To assemble the lasagne, lightly oil the base of a medium sized lasagne dish.  Place a layer of lasagne sheets on the bottom (you may need to cut them to size) and cover with one third of the lentil mixture.  Top with more lasagne and spread over one third of the ricotta mixture before topping with another layer of lasagne sheets.  You should end up with 3 layers of lentils and 3 layers of ricotta with the final layer being the ricotta mixture.  Sprinkle the parmesan and mozzarella over the top of the final ricotta layer and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.  After removing from the oven, cover lightly with foil and allow to rest for about 10 minutes, this will make it easier to serve.  Serve with as crisp green salad or steamed greens of your preference.

 

Leftover rosemary and thyme?  You might like to cook this…….

Lamb & Rosemary Meatball & Cannellini Bean Hotpot

 




Mexican Chicken with Braised Black Beans

Mexican Chicken with Braised Black Beans

This was Em’s Mexican food at its finest.  Grilled and spiced barbecued chicken on a bed of creamy braised black beans, laced with corn, fresh tomatoes and coriander.  The cheesy corn tortillas were the perfect accompaniment to scoop up the flavour packed beans and soak up all the juicy goodness.  The spice blend is one I keep in the pantry and is in the ‘Basics’ section of the website but to save you from flipping back and forth I will pop it in the recipe.  Because I am nice 🙂

 

Prep time:  25  Minutes              Cooking time:  25  Minutes + Minimum 1 Hour Marinating            $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

For the Spice Blend:

 

2 tbs of sweet paprika

1 tbs of ground cumin

1 tbs of ground chillies  (less if you prefer it less spicy)

1 tbs of garlic powder

1 tbs of onion powder

1 tbs of dried oregano

1 tsp of ground black pepper

1 tsp of sea salt

1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp of ground cloves

 

Place all the spices in a screw top jar and give a really good shake until combined.  It really is that simple amigos!

 

For the Chicken:

 

4 x 150gm chicken breast fillets, scored lightly on the diagonal about 1cm apart

1/4 cup of olive oil

2 tbs of Mexican spice blend

Juice of 2 limes

4 tbs of sour cream

Green chilli slices and coriander sprigs for garnish

8 corn tortillas

1 cup of grated tasty cheese

 

For the Beans:

 

Olive oil for frying

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 red onion, peeled and diced

1 green capsicum, diced

1 punnet of mixed grape tomatoes

1 tbs of Mexican Spice Blend

2 x 400gm tins of black beans, 1 drained

1 cup of chicken stock

1 fresh corn cob

1/2 a bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Sea salt and cracked pepper

 

Place the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl and whisk to combine.  Lay the chicken in a shallow dish and pour over the marinade.  Give it a bit of a toss to make sure the chicken is completely coated, cover and marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight if you wish.

 

Heat a large frypan and add a little oil.  Fry the onion until soft and then add the garlic, tomatoes and capsicum.  When the capsicum is beginning to tenderise, add the spice blend and stir until aromatic before adding the beans.  I like to add one undrained as the starch in the juices of the beans help to make them nice and creamy.  Pour in the stock, season with a little salt and pepper and stir to combine.  Allow the mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally for approximately 20 minutes.

 

Heat a BBQ grill or plate (or a fry pan) until nice and hot.  Grill the corn until starting to char on one part of the Barbecue.  On the other, grill the chicken on both sides for approximately 8 minutes or until cooked through.  If you have a hood on the Barbie this will help the chicken to cook all the way through.  If not, once charred (but not burnt) remove from the Barbecue and place in a 180° oven for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a couple of minutes before slicing the chicken on the score marks just before serving.

 

To cook the tortillas, place a small handful of cheese on one and top with another.  Place on the BBQ grill (or a frypan) and cook either side until starting to brown for 2-3 minutes.  Pop on a plate and cover with a tea towel or piece of foil to keep warm

 

Hold the corn upright and run your knife down the sides to remove the kernels.  Add the corn to the beans along with the coriander and lime juice and stir through.

 

To serve, divide the beans between the plates and top with a sliced breast fillet.  Spoon over any pan juices and top with a dollop of sour cream, coriander sprigs and sliced green chilli.  Serve with the tortillas.

 

Em’s Mexican Spice Blend is perfect for this dish:

http://emsfoodforfriends.com.au/mexican-chicken-tortilla-lasagne-with-avocado-salsa/

 




Wasabi Pea Pork with Pea & Radish Salad

Wasabi Pea Pork with Pea & Radish Salad

I have a little obsession with Japanese inspired food at the moment.  I just love the fresh, clean and zesty flavours of wasabi and pickled ginger and I am also a tad partial to crumbed meat.  You may not think it is the healthiest option but if your oil is at the right temperature then most of the oil will stay in the pan and not be soaked up by the crumbs.  I decided to try something a little different and use Wasabi Peas as the main crumbing agent, mixed with some Panko Crumbs.   A fresh mixed pea, edamame and radish salad was all this dish needed to freshen it right up and a zesty wasabi & pickled ginger dressing really bought out those Japanese flavours that fuel my obsession.  I was super happy with the outcome and so were the Test Kitchen Dummies, they loved it!

 

Prep time:  30  Minutes              Cooking time:  25  Minutes                 $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

For the Pork:

 

Oil for frying (rice bran, peanut or canola)

8 thin pork loin steaks or leg steaks*

100gm of wasabi peas*, blitzed to breadcrumb consistency in a food processor

1/2 a cup of panko crumbs

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tbs of milk

1/2 cup of plain flour, seasoned with sea salt and pepper

 

For the Salad:

 

200gm of sugar snap peas, topped and side string removed

200gm of snow peas, topped and side string removed, then halved diagonally

1 cup of frozen shelled edamame beans

2 large radish, thinly sliced

1 cup of bean sprouts

3 spring onions, white part thinly shredded top to bottom, green tops finely sliced and set aside for garnish

1 tbs of sesame seeds for garnish

 

For the Dressing:

 

1 tbs of pickled ginger, finely chopped

2 tbs of sesame oil

1/4 cup of tamari* or light soy sauce

2 tbs of mirin

1 tsp of wasabi paste

 

To crumb the pork, mix the wasabi peas and panko crumbs together on a flat plate so they are combined.  Place the egg in a shallow bowl and place the seasoned flour on another flat plate.  To save on washing up, I line the plates with baking paper so any leftovers can just be wrapped up and placed in the bin.

 

Use one hand to dust the pork lightly in the flour, then dip it in the egg mixture, making sure it is completely coated and then place it in the crumbs.  Pat down quite firmly on both sides so that you have a nice thick, even coating of crumbs.  Pop it on a plate and the proceed with the remaining pork.  Once crumbed, pop the pork in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

 

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the edamame beans for approximately five minutes.  When they are about a minute out from being cooked, add the snow peas and sugar snap peas.  Blanche for 1 minute before draining and running under cold water to stop the cooking process.  Place the edamame, peas, bean sprouts, radish and spring onions in a large bowl and toss to combine.  Set aside.

 

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until the wasabi has completely dissolved.  Set aside.

 

Heat a large frypan and add enough oil to cover the base of the pan.  Use a few crumbs to test the heat of the oil.  If they start sizzling straight away, the oil is hot enough.  Cook the pork in batches on both sides until nice and crispy and golden (approx 4-5 minutes either side).  Remove and place on a rack to drain slightly while you cook the remaining pork.  You can keep warm in a low oven if you like.

 

Spoon half the dressing over the salad before serving and toss to coat.  To serve, divide the salad between four serving plates and top with two pieces of pork.  Spoon over the remaining dressing and garnish with sesame seeds and the sliced spring onions.  Enjoy!

 

*Wasabi Peas can be hard to find in the supermarket but most of them have them.  If in doubt, ask someone.  The rest of the ingredients, including Tamari which is Japanese soy sauce can be found in the Asian section of the supermarket.  Coles have a new cut of thin pork loin steaks, they are perfect for this dish as they are lovely and tender but if you can’t get that particular cut, the leg steak will be fine.

 

Leftover wasabi & pickled ginger?  You might like to try this one…..

Wasabi Tuna Skewers with Soba Noodle Salad

 

 

 




Spaghetti with Parsley, Roast Almond & Sundried Tomato Pesto

Spaghetti with Parsley, Roast Almond & Sundried Tomato Pesto

It has come to my attention that you can pretty much do what you like with a pesto as long as it has the key ingredients of herbs for freshness, nuts for crunch, good olive oil and a smattering of parmesan.  The addition of sun dried tomatoes took this one to the next level giving it a zesty sweetness and the roasted almonds really kicked the nuttiness up a notch.  For a really simple meal, this would be good  on its own, wrapped around silky strands of spaghetti.  However, never content with just the basics, I added chorizo, mushroom and red onion…….just because!

Leftover pesto will keep in the fridge for up to one week.

 

Prep time:  20 Minutes                  Cooking time:  15  Minutes                $  Low Budget

 

Serves 4

 

400-500gm of spaghetti (depending on the size of your eaters)

2 chorizo sausages, diced

4 large portobello mushrooms, diced

1 red onion, peeled, halved and sliced top to botoom

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 bunch of continental parsley, stems removed and discarded and roughly chopped

1/2 a cup of pasta water

Finely grated parmesan and lemon wedges to serve

 

For the Pesto:

 

1 tsp of chilli flakes (optional)

1/2 a bunch of continental parsley, stems removed and discarded

1/2 cup of basil leaves

1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes

2 garlic cloves

1/3 cup of roasted almonds

1/3 cup of parmesan cheese

1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil + extra if needed

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Sea salt and cracked pepper

 

Place the herbs, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, almonds, parmesan, lemon juice and olive oil in your food processor and season with salt and pepper. Blitz until you have a nice, paste like consistency, using a spatula to scrape down the sides at various intervals.  Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

 

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta for approximately 12 minutes or until al dente`.  (it should still be slightly firm in the centre.

 

Heat a large frypan and fry the chorizo until golden.  Remove the chorizo and add the onion, adding a little oil if necessary and when it is just starting to soften add the mushrooms.  Continue to fry until soft and add the chorizo back to the pan with the juice of 1/2 a lemon.   This will help to deglaze the pan and lift all of the flavour from the bottom.  Reduce the heat to low.

 

Drain the pasta and reserve 1/2 a cup of the water.  Put the pasta back in the large pot and add 3-4 tablespoons of the pesto along with the pasta water, chorizo mixture and the fresh chopped parsley.  Toss well to combine over a low heat.

 

To serve, divide between bowls and sprinkle over parmesan cheese.  Serve with lemon wedges if you so desire.




Salmon, Fennel & Cauliflower Tray Bake

Salmon, Fennel & Cauliflower Tray Bake

They say that people in the Mediterranean live longer because of their diet, largely comprising of fish, vegetables and good olive oil.  I actually believe this can also be attributed to the fact that they don’t stress about the preparation of their meals.  This Mediterranean Salmon inspired beauty was just that.  Low stress with a few key ingredients, a tray and an oven.  A time poor, diet conscious persons dream,  low in carbs and protein packed without compromising on flavour. Woohooo!!

 

Prep time:  20  Minutes                Cooking time:  35-40  Minutes                $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

4 x 150gm Salmon fillets, skinned and boned

1/2 a small cauliflower, cut into florets

2 baby or 1 large fennel bulb, cut into wedges

1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges

1 large lemon, zest grated and then cut into wedges

1 tsp of chilli flakes

4 fresh bay leaves, scrunched in your hand to release the oils

16 kalamata olives (I prefer to use seeds in for max flavour when baking)

4 sprigs of fresh dill, finely chopped

1/2 cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

 

Line a large baking tray (I used the grill tray out of my oven) with baking paper.  To prevent juices getting on the tray I place two sheets of baking paper back to back and then fold sharply a couple of times before opening out into one large sheet.  Place the fennel wedges, cauliflower, red onion and bay leaves on the tray.  Drizzle with half of the olive oil and toss to coat.  Sprinkle over half of the lemon zest, the chilli flakes, half the dill and season with salt and pepper.  Squeeze the lemon wedges, reserving two for the salmon, over the vegetables and dot them around the tray.  Place the tray in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the veggies are starting to soften and become golden on the edges.

 

While the veggies are cooking, drizzle a little oil over the salmon and sprinkle with the remaining lemon zest.  When the veggies are done, drizzle the salmon with the remaining lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.  You don’t want to do this too early as it actually starts the cooking process with the salmon, drawing out moisture.  Place the salmon on top of the vegetables, scatter over the olives and bake for a further 15 minutes.

 

To serve, divide the vegetables between four serving plates and top with the salmon fillets.  Drizzle over any remaining olive oil and garnish with the remaining fresh dill.  Serve with a crisp green salad or steamed beans.

 

Leftover Fennel?  Perhaps you might like to cook this one for dinner tomorrow night…..

Quinoa Crumbed Pork Schnitty with Pea Puree & Radish & Fennel Salad

 

 

 




Turmeric Chicken Roti Wraps with Cucumber Salsa

Turmeric, Ginger & Honey Chicken Roti Wraps

2017 has been a huge year of travel for me, which means a huge year of eating.  Not that I am complaining as I adore travelling and as you know, I adore food.  It also gives me inspiration to eat a little on the lighter side when I get home as it is not just my travel bags that need unpacking.  I had been thinking of this dish for a while and it evolved into a simple meal that is perfect for busy week nights.  The marinade takes minutes so it would be a good one to do on a Sunday as you can marinate over night. Then all you have to do is come home after work on Monday and just whip up a few salad items and grill the chicken on the BBQ.  You could also return from work, marinate for an hour and help the kids with their homework etc.  Did I mention that it was a taste sensation too?

 

Prep time:  25  Minutes               Cooking time:  25 Minutes                 $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

6-8 thigh fillets

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 tbs of ground turmeric

1/2 tsp of chilli powder (optional)

1 tbs of grated ginger

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tbs of honey

Sea salt and pepper

1 large carrot, peeled and finely julienned or grated*

1 small bag of rocket

1 cup of greek yoghurt

8 Roti wraps

 

For the Cucumber Salsa:

 

1-2 cucumbers, halved, deseeded and finely chopped

1/2 a red onion, finely diced

1/2 cup of mint leaves, finely chopped

1/2 cup of coriander leaves, finely chopped

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Sea salt and pepper

 

Place the thigh fillets between 2 large sheets of cling wrap and bash lightly with a rolling pin to even out the thickness.  Cut each fillet into 2-3 pieces (depending on their size) so that they will fit nicely, single file in a wrap.  Place them in a shallow dish to marinate.

 

In a bowl combine the oil, turmeric, ginger, chilli, lemon and honey and season with salt and pepper.  Use a whisk to combine and if the honey is a little stiff, just give it 10-20 seconds in the microwave to dissolve.  Pour the marinade over the chicken thighs and use tongs or a spoon to coat evenly.  Marinate for at least 1 hour.

 

To make the salsa,  place all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well to combine.

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Heat a BBQ grill or a frypan to nice and hot.  Sear the chicken on both sides and then turn the heat down a little and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes on each side.  Transfer to a lined baking tray and place in the oven to keep warm for 10 minutes.  I often do this with chicken, just to ensure that it is cooked all the way through.

 

Prepare the roti bread as per packet instructions.  I like to do the lightly oiled pan method as it makes the roti nice and chewy.

 

This is the perfect dish to set up on an island bench or in the middle of the table so everyone can make their own.  To assemble, spread a dollop of yoghurt down the middle of a roti.  Top with rocket, shredded carrot, chicken and salsa and tuck in!

 

*I have a sensational tool for shredding carrot that looks just like a potato peeler but has little serrated edges on it.  You can buy them for under $10 in most kitchen ware shops.

 

Leftover mint or coriander?  Perhaps you should consider this for tomorrow nights dinner…..

Chicken, Preserved Lemon & Green Olive Meatballs with Fetta, Mint & Pistachio Crumble

 




Kung Pao Chicken with Chinese Broccoli

Kung Pao Chicken

If you are time poor then a stir fry is the perfect option for a speedy mid week dinner.  This Kung Pao Chicken certainly ticked the boxes for me…….loaded flavour, quick and healthy.  Again, I have stepped away from tradition but only slightly, with the addition of Chinese Broccoli to round the meal out nutritionally.  Loved this one!

You could marinate the chicken in the morning if you wanted to whip this up in the evening.  Otherwise, marinate the chicken, pour a glass of wine and chat to the family for half an hour.  Also, don’t be alarmed by the chilli in this recipe.  The whole chillies provide a lovely smokey flavour as do the peppercorns.  If you like you can leave out the red chilli but I think it all adds to the flavour.

 

Prep time:  20  Minutes            Cooking & Marinating time:  45  Minutes           $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

For the Marinade:

 

2 Chicken breast fillets, sliced thinly

1 tbs of Shaoxing wine  (Chinese rice wine)

2 tsp of sesame oil

1 tbs of soy sauce

2 tsp of cornflour

 

For the Stir Fry:

 

Oil for frying (peanut, sunflower or any low smoke point oil)

3 garlic cloves, finely minced

3cm piece of ginger, finely grated

2 tsp of corn flour

2 tbs of soy sauce

2 tbs of rice wine vinegar

2 tsp of sugar

1/4 cup of chicken stock

1 tbs of Szechuan peppercorns, lightly toasted in a dry pan then ground in a mortar and pestle

8 dried red chillies

1 long red chilli, sliced

4 spring onions, sliced into 3cm batons (Green ends reserved for garnish and sliced diagonally)

1 cup of unsalted peanuts, toasted in a dry pan

1 bunch of Chinese broccoli, stems sliced into 3cm batons and leaves rolled up and shredded

Steamed Jasmine rice to serve

 

Combine the cornflour, shoaxing wine, sesame oil and soy in a bowl and mix well to combine.  Toss the chicken strips in the marinade and set aside for half an hour.

 

Combine the cornflour, soy, rice wine vinegar, chicken stock and sugar in a small bowl or jug and whisk to combine.  Set aside.

 

Heat a wok to nice and hot and add a little oil.  Drain the marinade from the chicken and set aside for later.  Fry the chicken in batches until golden and cooked through.  Set aside.

 

Add a little more oil to the wok and fry the garlic, ginger, chilli and dried chillies for 1 minute before adding the chicken back to the wok.  Continue stirring, sprinkle in the Szechuan peppercorns and toss before adding the peanuts, spring onions and chinese broccoli.  When the broccoli and spring onions are a lovely bright green colour, pour in the leftover marinade and the sauce mixture, tossing all the time until the sauce goes from a dull sheen to a glossy sheen.  This means that the cornflour has cooked.

 

Divide the stir fry over steamed Jasmine rice and garnish with spring onion tops.

 

 

 

 




Beef & Pork Rissoles with ‘Loaded’ Gravy

Beef & Pork Rissoles with 'Loaded' Gravy

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but I am rather a big fan of food.  All food.  However, given the opportunity, it is the old fashioned classics that I really love, particularly when I bring them up to date with a whopping makeover.  Rissoles were a staple when I was a kid but truth be known, they were never my favourite.  My Mum was an inspirational cook but there was only so much you could do with a bit of mince and gravy back in the day.  That being the case,  it was high time for an Em’s Food challenge.  Bringing these babies out of the 60’s and loading them up with some serious 2017 flavour. I’ll let you be the judge but my Husband said they were the best Rissoles he had ever had.  #recipesuccess 🙂

Just a tip……to speed up the process of chopping herbs and garlic, get yourself a ring-pull chopper.  They can be found at most kitchen shops and range in price.  I have one from Tupperware that was $60 and one from Robin’s Kitchen that was $10, they are both good.  Perfect for herbs, aromatics and nuts and they save loads of time.

 

Prep time:  25  Minutes              Cooking time:  40  minutes           $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4  (with leftovers…..awesome on sandwiches)

 

1kg of Beef & Pork mince (Coles has it already combined)

3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves removed and stalks discarded and finely chopped

6 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and stalks discarded and finely chopped

1 tsp of dried oregano

1 tbs of dijon mustard

1 tbs of tomato paste

1 tbs of Worcestershire sauce

1 egg

1/2 cup of breadcrumbs

Sea salt and pepper

Thyme leaves for garnish

Sweet Potato or Potato mash to serve

 

For the Gravy:

 

1 tbs of plain flour

1/2 cup of red wine

11/2 cups of beef stock

6 slices of pancetta, roughly chopped

1 red onion, halved and sliced

2 large portobello mushrooms, halved and sliced

1 sprig of rosemary, leaves removed and stalks discarded, finely chopped

3 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and stalks discarded, finely chopped

1 tbs of balsamic vinegar

1 tsp of Parisienne browning essence (optional)*

 

In a large mixing bowl combine the mince, garlic, herbs, mustard, tomato paste, Worcestershire, egg, breadcrumbs and salt and pepper with your hands for best results.  Rinse your hands and while they are wet, shape the mixture into 8 even sized rissoles, really working them between your hands so they are nice and firm.  Place them on a tray and refrigerate for 20 minutes if you have time.  This helps the mixture to bind.  If not, they will still be fine, just a little more delicate to handle.

 

Heat a large frying pan and add a little oil.  Fry the rissoles on both sides until golden, being careful when flipping so they don’t break apart.  Once golden, remove and set aside on a plate while you make the gravy.

 

Add a little more oil to the pan and fry the onion, pancetta, mushrooms, rosemary and thyme until the onion has softened and the pancetta is nice and caramelised.  Sprinkle over the flour and stir to combine, cooking the flour for 1-2 minutes.  Pour in the red wine, beef stock and balsamic vinegar and stir while the mixture starts to thicken and comes to a simmer.  Once simmering, place the rissoles back in the pan and scoop the sauce over so they are coated.  Cook on one side for 8 minutes, adding a little stock or water if the gravy becomes too thick.  Turn over and cook for a further 8 minutes, again coating the top of the rissoles with the sauce.  Keep an eye on the gravy and continue to add a little more water stock or water (you shouldn’t need much as you want the gravy to be lovely, luscious and thick).

 

Serve the rissoles on a bed of your favourite mash.  Spoon over the gravy and scatter over a few thyme leaves.  Steamed greens on the side are a winner!

 

*Parisienne essence can be found in the cake baking section of the supermarket.  It has been around for many moons and gives your gravy a lovely rich colour but does not effect the flavour.  It is totally optional……

 

 

 

 

 




Sumac Lamb Cutlets with Roasted Beetroot and ‘Superblend’ Salad

Sumac Lamb Cutlets with Roasted Beetroot and 'Superblend' Salad

I always get a tad excited when I find something new in the supermarket.  The McKenzie’s Super Blend mix of Freekeh, lentils & Beans sounded pretty interesting to me so I thought I would give it a whirl.  It was awesome!  Loads of goodness in one packet that were the perfect vehicle for Middle Eastern inspired flavours.  Sumac spiced lamb cutlets, grilled to perfection on a roasted beetroot and red onion salad, chock full of fresh mint, parsley and toasted pine nuts.  Perfect!

This is not a sponsored post, although it probably should be!  Just a tip for the lamb……if cutlets are not within your budget then you could most definitely use lamb rump which tends to be cheaper.  Or, you could do as I do and buy them when they are on special.

 

Prep time:  20  minutes              Cooking time:  40  Minutes (marinating time 1 hour)                $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

10-12 lamb cutlets (depending on size of cutlets and eaters)

11/2 tbs of sumac

1/4 cup of olive oil

Grated rind of 1 lemon

Sea salt and pepper

1 cup of Greek Yoghurt

 

For the Salad:

 

1 cup of McKenzie’s Superblend ‘Fibre’, cooked according to packet instructions (found in the soup mix area of the supermarket)

2 large or 4 small fresh beetroot, peeled and sliced into wedges

1 red onion, peeled, halved and sliced into wedges

2 tbs of olive oil (for drizzling)

1 tsp of ground cumin

Sea salt and pepper

1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts

2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1 heaped tsp of good quality honey

1 cup of parsley leaves

1/2 a cup of mint leaves

 

In a small bowl combine 1 tbs of the sumac, olive oil, lemon rind and salt and pepper.  Pour the marinade over the lamb cutlets in a shallow dish, making sure they are evenly coated.  Marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight if you wish.

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Place the beetroot and red onion in a lined shallow baking tray.  Drizzle with oil, sprinkle over the ground cumin and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until the beetroot is tender when pierced with a knife.

 

Place the cooked Superblend in a large bowl with the beetroot, red onion, parsley, mint and two thirds of the pine nuts.  Toss to combine and set aside, ready to dress just before serving.

 

Combine the Extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and honey in a bowl.  You may want to zap it in the microwave for 30 seconds to dissolve the honey and it is also rather nice pouring a hot dressing over the salad

 

Combine the yoghurt and remaining sumac together and set aside.

 

Pre heat a BBQ or griddle pan to nice and hot.  Cook the lamb on both sides for 3-4 minutes for medium rare.  Allow to rest while you plate the salad.

 

Place a heaped tablespoon of the sumac yoghurt on each plate and use the back of your spoon to spread it out in a circular motion.  Dress the salad, tossing to combine and divide the salad between the plates, piling on top of the yoghurt and then place the cutlets on top.  Scatter over the remaining pine nuts, drizzle over a little olive oil and serve.

 




Roasted Vegetable, Lentil & Green ‘Kale” Curry

Roasted Vegetable, Lentil & Green 'Kale' Curry

Inspired by a Donna Hay recipe this Roasted Vegetable and Lentil curry was a masterstroke!  For those that are not a fan of kale, no fear…..it is hidden in the curry paste and if you are worried about the no-meat factor,  seriously not an issue.  I live with meat lovers and even they were impressed by the ‘meatiness’ of this baby.  This was one hell of a tasty curry……healthy, hearty and down right gorgeous 🙂

There is enough curry paste in this recipe for 2 meals.  I freeze my leftover paste in Zip Lock bags for later use.

 

Prep time:  30  Minutes                Cooking time:  1 Hour              $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

For the Curry Paste:

 

2 tsp of cumin seeds

3 tsp of coriander seeds

4 long green chillies (seeds removed for less heat)

3 cloves of garlic

6 cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped roughly

8 kaffir lime leaves

2 stalks of lemongrass, white part only and thinly sliced

1 bunch of coriander, roots, stems and leaves very thoroughly washed as a lot of grit can be caught in the stems

3 tbs of peanut oil (veg oil will do)

1 tsp of shrimp paste, crumbled

11/2 tbs of brown sugar

4 green onions, roughly chopped

2 cups of chopped kale

 

For the Curry:

 

Oil for frying

1 brown onion, peeled, halved and sliced top to bottom

200gm of Jap pumpkin, cut into 2cm pieces

1 eggplant, cut into 2cm pieces

1/2 small cauliflower, cut into florets

200gm of green beans, ends removed and sliced diagonally into batons

400gm tin of brown lentils

2 french eschalots, finely sliced (you can use store bought fried shallots if you wish)

1/4 cup of sliced almonds, lightly toasted in a dry pan

1 cup of coriander leaves

400gm tin of coconut cream

2 tbs of fish sauce

1 tbs of brown sugar

Juice of 1/2 a lime

Steamed rice and lime wedges to serve

 

Place the kale in a small bowl and cover with boiling water for 2 minutes or until bright green in colour.  Drain and run under cold water before squeezing in your hands to get rid of any excess water.

 

Place the kale and the rest of the curry paste ingredients in a food processor.  Blitz until you have a nice pasty consistency.

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Place the cauliflower, eggplant and pumpkin pieces in a large, lined baking tray and drizzle with a little oil.  Take 1 tbs of curry paste and using your hands, toss the vegetables in the curry paste until evenly coated.  Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden.

 

To fry the eschalots, pour enough oil (I used rice bran) into a small pan to cover the base.  When it is nice and hot, add the sliced eschalots and fry, stirring every now and then, until golden.  Remove from the pan and drain on paper towel.

 

Heat a large frypan or wok and add a little oil.  Fry the onion until soft and then add 2 large tablespoons of the curry paste.  Fry for 1-2 minutes until aromatic and then pour in the coconut cream and lentils and stir to combine.  Bring to a simmer and add the fish sauce, lime juice and brown sugar.  Stir and a have a taste, you want the perfect balance of hot, sour, sweet and salty, so adjust any seasoning to your liking.  Place the roasted vegetables in the curry and simmer for 5 minutes before adding the green beans and two thirds of the coriander leaves.  Cook the beans for a few minutes, careful not to overcook as you want the beans to be a nice bright green colour and still slightly crunchy.

 

Serve the curry over steamed Jasmine rice.  Top with the fried eschallots, toasted almonds and a smattering of coriander leaves.  serve with lime wedges.




Hungarian Beef & Mushroom Stew with Spiced Pumpkin

Hungarian Beef & Mushroom Stew with Spiced Pumpkin

I have made  Hungarian Goulash before and it was delicious but I really wanted to add a few ingredients that are not so traditional.  The result was a meltingly tender beef and mushroom stew with oven roasted spiced pumpkin.  The pumpkin took this dish to another level as the sweetness really complimented the spices in the stew.  Topped with sour cream,  dill pickle and a smattering of parsley, this was a perfect winter meal.

A slow cooker could definitely be used for this dish.  Brown your meat first for extra flavour, halve the amount of stock and add an extra tablespoon of tomato paste to thicken.  Cook for 6 hours on low.

 

Prep time:  30  Minutes          Cooking time:  3 Hours              $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4-5

 

2tbs of oil for frying

800gm of gravy beef cut into 3cm chunks

1 large brown onion, halved and sliced top to bottom

3 cloves of garlic finely minced

250gm of Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced

1 tbs of caraway seeds

1 tbs of sweet paprika

1/2 cup of dry red wine

1 cup of beef stock

2 x 400gm tins of diced tomatoes

2 tbs of tomato paste

2 fresh bay leaves

1 tsp of sugar

Sea salt and cracked pepper

4 tbs of Sour cream

2 dill pickles, finely chopped

1/2 cup of flat leaf parsley, finely shredded

 

For the Pumpkin:

 

1/2 a Jap pumpkin, sliced into 8 wedges, skin removed

Olive oil for drizzling

1 tbs of sweet paprika

Sea salt and pepper

 

Heat a large, oven proof pan and add a little oil.  Season the beef with salt and pepper and fry in batches until golden.  Remove the beef from the pan and add a little more oil if needed.  Lightly fry the onion until soft and then add the garlic.  Fry for a minute or until fragrant and then add the caraway seeds, paprika and bay leaves.  Stir until aromatic and then pour in the wine and stock.   Use a wooden spoon to scrape all the flavour from the bottom of the pan and allow to simmer for 5 minutes before adding the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and the sliced mushrooms.  Stir to combine and then place the beef back in the pan.  Season with a little salt and pepper and cover with a sheet of baking paper and a tight fitting lid.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for approximately 2 hours, stirring occasionally until the beef is meltingly tender.

 

Pre heat the oven to 200°C.  Place the pumpkin in a lined baking tray and drizzle with oil.  Sprinkle over the paprika and season with salt and pepper before tossing with your hands so that the pumpkin pieces are evenly coated in the paprika.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and tender.

 

While the pumpkin is cooking, remove the lid from the stew and allow the sauce to reduce on a low simmer.

 

To serve, divide the roasted pumpkin between 4 serving bowls and ladle over the stew.  Place a dollop of sour cream on top and scatter over the pickles and parsley.  Serve with steamed greens and crusty bread if you so desire.

 




Asian Style Osso Bucco

Asian Style Osso Buco

I have a few favourite chefs that inspire me but none more so than Valli Little of Delicious fame.  I have all of her cookbooks and they are a constant source of inspiration to me.  I like to think of myself as a bit of a Valli Little because our cooking styles are so similar, however, Delicious magazine is yet to knock on my door (there is always hope). Whenever I cook one of Valli’s dishes, I try to tweak them slightly, not because hers aren’t good enough but because I feel I should attempt to make them differ slightly as I am posting them on my own website.  This dish was a stand out.  An old Italian classic given an Asian make over and a darn good one at that!

 

You could do this in the slow cooker.  Brown the meat first, cover with a piece of baking paper (this helps to keep the moisture in) and cook on low for 6 hours.

 

Prep time:  25 Minutes                 Cooking time:  2.5 Hours                  $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

Oil for frying (peanut, rice bran, sunflower)

4 large Osso Buco

1/4 cup of plain flour

1tsp of Chinese 5 Spice

1/2 tsp of salt

1 large brown onion, halved and sliced top to bottom

3cm piece of ginger, grated

3 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 long red chilli, finely sliced (seeds removed for less heat)

3 strips of orange rind, finely julienned

3 star anise

1 cinnamon quill

1 tbs of brown sugar

1/2 cup of soy sauce

1 tbs of char sui sauce

1 tbs of tomato paste

750ml of beef stock

Juice of 1/2 a lime

Steamed rice to serve

 

For the Topper:

 

1 lebanese cucumber, peeled into thin strips, seeds discarded

2 spring onions, sliced into 4cm batons and finely julienned

1 cup of coriander leaves

1/2 cup of mint leaves

1/2 cup of Thai basil (optional but yum)

Juice of 1/2 a lime

 

Pre heat the oven to 170°C.

 

Combine the flour, salt and Chinese 5 spice on a flat plate and coat the beef on both sides (and the edges), shaking off any excess and reserving the leftover flour.

 

Heat a large casserole and add the oil.  Fry the beef on both sides until golden and set aside.  In the same pan, add a little more oil if necessary and lightly fry the onion until soft.  Add the ginger, garlic and chilli and fry for a minute or two until aromatic.  Add the orange rind, star anise, cinnamon stick, sugar, soy, char sui sauce, tomato paste, stock and reserved flour to the pan and stir to combine.  Return the meat to the pan and spoon over the sauce, making sure the meat is covered.  Bring to a simmer and tear off a sheet of baking paper and lay it over the mixture, tucking the sides in so it is nice and snug.  This helps to keep the moisture in.  Bake it in the oven for approximately 2 hours, turning the meat periodically until it is falling off the bone.

 

In a bowl, combine the cucumber strips, spring onion, chilli and herbs and cover with cold water and place in the fridge so the mixture is nice and crunchy.  Drain the water just before serving and squeeze over the lime juice.

 

To serve, divide rice between serving bowls and top with the Osso Bucco.  Spoon over the sauce and top with a generous pile of the salad topper.

 

Left over Thai Basil?  You may want to cook this…….

 

Thai Basil, Beef & Cashew Stir Fry

 

 

 

 

 




Southern Fried Chicken Burger with Maple Bacon, Slaw & Spicy Mayo

Southern Fried Chicken Burger with Maple Bacon, Slaw & Spicy Mayo

Holy Schamoly. Best. Burger. Ever.  Big call, but I kid you not this was even better than it looks and it looks pretty darn good.  Move over KFC, there is a new chicken burger on the block and it puts your pathetic excuse of dry chicken, limp lettuce and sugary bun to shame!  Great footy food too….

 

Prep time:  30  Minutes          Marinating time:  1 Hour (at least)       Cooking time:  25  Minutes        $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 6

 

Oil for deep frying  (I used Rice Bran Oil)

3 chicken breast fillets

300ml of butter milk

1.5 cups of plain flour

1 tsp of garlic powder

1 tsp of onion powder

1 tsp of dried oregano

1 tsp of paprika

1/2 tsp of ground black pepper

1/2-1 tsp of cayenne pepper (1 if you like it spicy)

Sea salt

6 long, streaky bacon rashers, halved (you could use normal bacon or short rindless)

1/4 cup of maple syrup

4 dill pickles, thinly sliced lengthways

4 slices of tasty cheese

6 large white rolls with sesame seeds

 

For the Slaw:

 

1/4 of a red cabbage, very thinly shredded

1 large carrot, finely julienned or grated

2 spring onions, sliced into 4cm batons, then finely julienned

2 tbs of dill pickle juice

 

For the Spicy Mayo:

 

1 cup of whole egg mayonnaise

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp of paprika

Sea salt and pepper

 

 

Place a large sheet of baking paper on your bread board.  Place a breast fillet on the paper and holding the breast with the palm of your hand, run your knife through the fillet so you have two even, flattish halves.  Repeat with the remaining fillets and then lay them flat on the paper.  Tear off another sheet of paper and lay it over the top.  Grab a rolling pin and give them a good pounding so they are an even thickness.

 

Place the fillets in a shallow baking dish and pour over the buttermilk.  Cover and pop in the fridge for at least an hour.

 

To prepare the slaw, combine the carrot, cabbage and spring onion in a large bowl and toss with your fingers.  Cover and place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the burger.  Just before serving, spoon over the pickle juice and toss to combine.

 

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper.  Refrigerate for later use.

 

Place another sheet of baking paper in a shallow oven tray and combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, cayenne, paprika, pepper and salt.

 

Preheat the oven to 160°C.  Lay the bacon slices across a wire rack on a lined baking tray.  Brush the top side with maple syrup and bake in the oven for 5 minutes before turning and basting again.  Repeat the process, brushing every 5 minutes and turning for 20 minutes or until the bacon is glazed and crispy.

 

Heat the oil in a wok or deep fryer until nice and hot.  You can test this by putting a sprinkling of the flour mixture in and if it sizzles right away it is ready.  Remove the chicken from the fridge and using a pair of tongs, lift a chicken piece from the butter milk, allowing any excess to drain.  Place it in the flour mixture and using your hand or tongs, evenly coat the breast fillet on both sides.  Place the chicken in the wok, in batches and allow to cook for approximately 5 minutes or until golden and crispy.  Place  on a rack and keep warm in the oven while repeating with the other chicken pieces.

 

Heat a BBQ or griddle pan and toast the buns, on the cut side until golden.

 

To assemble the burger, lay a slice of cheese on the base of the bun and top with a good handful of slaw.  Lay a breast fillet on the slaw and top with bacon slices, pickles and finally a generous dollop of spicy mayo.  pop the top on and tuck in.  You may need a few serviettes 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Nepalese Meatball Curry with Turmeric Rice & Peas

Nepalese Meatball Curry with Turmeric Rice & Peas

I am forever on the hunt for new curries to make and it appears there is no shortage of variations.  When I was cleaning out my cookbook shelf (no surprise they are a huge weakness of mine), I came across an old Woman’s Weekly ‘Winter Favourites’ book and this recipe immediately stood out.  I was interested to see what made a curry ‘Nepalese’ and it would seem that they are pretty keen on Fenugreek.  I have not cooked with Fenugreek very often (if at all, that would explain the unopened packet of seeds in my spice tub) and when I looked it up, it was described as a ‘tangy, bitter, burnt-sugar’ flavour.  Hmmmmm, interesting.  I felt I didn’t have anything to lose, so decided to cook it anyway.  I can’t honestly say that I tasted what was described but I do wonder what the difference would be, had it been left out.  I can say, it was a cracking curry and one I will definitely make again.

As with most of my recipes, I like to make sure the whole dish packs a flavour punch, hence the Turmeric rice.  You could just serve this with plain rice but for the sake of 5 minutes preparation and a few spices, it is totally worth it.

 

Prep time:  25  Minutes             Cooking time:  40  Minutes             $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

500gm of Lamb mince

5cm piece of ginger, grated (half for meatballs, half for sauce)

4 garlic cloves, finely minced (half for meatballs, half for sauce)

1 tsp of ground cumin

1/2 tsp of ground turmeric

1 bunch of coriander roots and stems, rinsed thoroughly to remove any grit and finely chopped

1/2 cup of breadcrumbs

1 egg

Sea salt and cracked pepper

 

For the Sauce:

 

1 tbs of oil & 20gms of butter  or 1 tbs of Ghee for frying

Half the ginger and garlic prepared for the meatballs

1 large brown onion, peeled, halved and sliced top to bottom

2 tsp of ground cumin

1 tsp of fenugreek seeds, or ground fenugreek

1 tsp of yellow mustard seeds

1 tsp of chilli flakes (optional)

1 tsp of turmeric

1 cup of beef stock

2 x 400gm tins of diced tomatoes

A squeeze of lemon

1/2 tsp of sugar

Sea salt and cracked pepper

1 cup of coriander leaves, chopped

Coriander sprigs, Greek yoghurt and poppadoms to serve

 

For the Turmeric Rice:

1/2 tbs of Ghee or 10gm of butter and 1/2 tbs of oil for frying

1/2 a small brown onion or 2 French eschallot, finely diced

1 tsp of cumin seeds

5 green cardamom pods, bruised with your knife

3 cloves

1/2 tsp of Turmeric

1 cup of basmati rice

11/2 cups of water

11/2 cups of frozen peas

Sea salt and cracked pepper

 

In a large bowl place all of the ingredients for the meatballs.  Use your hands to combine, making sure everything is evenly dispersed throughout the mince.  Wet your hands and roll meatballs, approximately the size of a golf ball.  Set aside while you make the sauce.

 

Heat a large pan and add the ghee.  Once bubbling, add the onion and fry for around 5 minutes on a moderate heat until soft.  Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute or so and then sprinkle over the fenugreek and mustard seeds.  When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the cumin, turmeric and chilli flakes.  Stir and fry for a minute before pouring in the stock and lemon juice. Scrape the base of the pan to lift any spice residue and then add the tomatoes, sugar and season with salt and pepper.  Stir to combine and once simmering, gently place the meatballs in the sauce.  Simmer, with the lid off for approximately 10 minutes before turning the meatballs over.  Simmer for another 10 minutes.  If you think the curry is looking a little dry, add a touch of water.  Stir the coriander leaves in just before serving.

 

Heat a large saucepan and add the ghee.  Fry the eschallot (or onion) for a few minutes until soft and then add the cumin seeds, cardamom pods and cloves.  When aromatic, add the rice and turmeric and stir for one minute, coating the grains with the ghee.  Pour in the water, season well with salt and pepper, stir and then bring to a simmer.  Once simmering place on a tight fitting lid and cook for 12 minutes.  After 12 minutes, remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes to steam, keeping the lid firmly in place.  Place the peas in a microwave safe bowl with a tablespoon of water.  Cover with cling wrap and cook in the microwave, on high for 4-5 minutes or until the peas are just cooked.  Drain the peas and remove the lid from the rice and stir the peas through, fluffing the rice at the same time.

 

Divide the rice between serving bowls and spoon the curry over the top.  Whack a nice dollop of yoghurt and a few coriander sprigs on top and serve with poppadoms.

 

 

 




Chargrilled Beef & Crunchy Noodle Salad with Hot & Sour Dressing

Chargrilled Beef & Crunchy Noodle Salad with Hot & Sour Dressing

So we are in the heart of Winter and you may have noticed that I have been cooking a fair bit of Winter stodge as that is what I tend to crave in the cooler months.   I did feel however, that I needed to break that up a tad and not only eat something a little less stodgy but to mix it up on the website a little for those in the Northern Hemisphere who are currently in the throws of a heat wave (pfffft).  I think this Asian crunchy noodle salad will appeal to those from all corners of the Globe, Summer or Winter.  Fresh, super crunchy and with those ever-present, gloriously aromatic flavours of Asia, this salad was yum!

If you would like a little less crunch in the salad (as it is pretty crunchy), this would be really nice with soft, flat rice or glass noodles.

 

Prep time:  20  Minutes           Cooking time:  15  Minutes            $$ Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

Oil for deep frying (peanut, rice bran, canola)

4 x 150gm Scotch fillet steaks (rump, fillet or sirloin will also be fine and you could even stretch 3)

200gm of Asian egg noodles (or 4 portions),

1 cucumber, halved, deseeded and sliced (you can deseed by running a teaspoon right down the middle)

2 cups of bean sprouts

1 cup of mint leaves

1 cup of coriander leaves

3 kaffir lime leaves, spine removed, rolled and very finely shredded

1 small red onion, halved and finely sliced top to bottom

 

For the Hot and Sour Dressing

 

Juice of 2-3 limes (depending on juiciness)

2 tbs of fish sauce

1.5 tbs of brown sugar

1 lemon grass, white part only and very finely sliced

1 small clove of garlic, finely minced

1 long or 2 small red chillies, finely sliced (deseeded if you like less heat)

 

Place the cucumber, bean sprouts, mint leaves, coriander leaves, kaffir lime leaves and red onion in a large bowl and toss with your fingers to combine.  Set aside.

 

In small bowl, combine the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, lemon grass, garlic and chilli until the sugar has dissolved.

 

Heat a wok and place enough oil to cover about 1.5 inches of the base of the wok.  When the oil is nice and hot (you can test this by putting a small piece of dried noodle in and if it bubbles immediately, it is hot enough), roughly break the noodles into smaller pieces and fry, in batches until puffed and golden.  Drain on a plate lined with paper towel.

 

Heat a griddle pan to smoking hot.  Rub a little oil over the steaks and season with salt and pepper.  Chargrill for approximately 4 minutes each side for medium rare.  Set aside to rest for 5 minutes before thinly slicing and tossing through the salad mixture.  Spoon over about half of the dressing and toss again to coat.

 

Divide the crunchy noodles between four serving bowls and top with a generous mound of the salad.  Spoon over the remaining dressing and serve.

 

 

 




Moroccan Chicken, Prune & Almond Tagine

Moroccan Chicken, Prune & Almond Tagine

I love Moroccan or Middle Eastern inspired dishes.  They deliver on every level….hearty, sweet, savoury and really easy, one pot cooking.  This dish was no exception.  Tender chicken pieces, skin on and bone in, nestled in a subtly spiced, tomato based sauce with pops of sweetness and crunch.  Topped with a preserved lemon and  herb infused yoghurt and resting on a bed of Cous Cous, this was a fabulous, healthy meal for the family.

 

Prep time:  25  Minutes            Cooking time:  1 Hour           $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

Oil for frying

4 chicken thighs and 4 chicken legs

2 heaped tbs of Ras el Hanout (see Em’s food recipe below)

2cm piece of ginger, grated

3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 large brown onion, halved and sliced top to bottom

1 cup of chicken stock

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

2 x 400gm tins of diced tomato

1 tbs of tomato paste

12 pitted prunes

1/2 cup of roasted almonds

1 cup of coriander leaves

Sea salt and Pepper

Cous cous to serve

Coriander sprigs for garnish

 

For the Yoghurt

 

1 cup of greek yoghurt

2 wedges of preserved lemon, flesh removed and discarded and skin finely chopped

1/2 cup of mint leaves, finely chopped

1/2 cup of coriander leaves, finely chopped

Cracked pepper

 

Heat a large frypan and add a little oil.  Place the chicken pieces on a piece of baking paper and season  the chicken pieces with a little salt and sprinkle over 1 tbs of the Ras el Hanout spice blend.   Use your hands to rub the spice blend into the chicken pieces so they are nice and evenly coated and then brown them in the pan until golden.  Remove the chicken and set aside. Don’t forget to wash your hands…..

 

In the same pan, add a little more oil if need be and then lightly fry the onion until soft before adding the garlic and ginger.  fry for a further minute and then sprinkle over the remaining Ras el Hanout.  Fry until aromatic and then add the lemon juice and stock, using  a wooden spoon to scrape the spices from the bottom of the pan.  Pour in the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir well to combine.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and then add the chicken (and any juices) back to the pan.  Cover with a sheet of baking paper and a tight fitting lid and simmer for approximately 40-45 minutes, turning the chicken periodically.

 

Remove the baking paper and lid from the pan and add the prunes and roasted almonds.  Stir to combine and continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened and the chicken is coming away from the bone.

 

To make the yoghurt, place all of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine.

 

Just before serving, add the coriander leaves to the chicken and stir through.

 

Divide cous cous between four serving bowls and top each with a chicken thigh and leg.  Spoon over the sauce, making sure everyone gets a few prunes and almonds.  Place a generous dollop of the yoghurt on top and garnish with the coriander sprigs.  Serve with steamed greens or a green salad.

Ras El Hanout

 




French Toast with Berry Compote, Yoghurt & Toasted Almonds

French Toast with Berry Compote, Yoghurt & Toasted Almonds

For many years I was not a breakfast person and most definitely not a ‘French Toast’ breakfast person.  In recent years I have come to adore this ‘most important meal of the day’.  The reasons for this is that as I have gotten older (dare I say it……40’s) I have become more conscious of my health, started exercising more (which makes me super hungry) and eating a lot better.  No longer do I have the pleasure of eating what ever I like, when I like and donning the swim suit with confidence.  Not to mention the muffin top that was more Texan in appearance than just the stock standard type and let’s face it……I love life and I want to stick around to enjoy every little bit of it (even if with a slight yellow tinge to my complexion due to overindulgence of my other greatest love, wine).  For me, this recipe ticks every box.  Healthy, not too sweet but a real show stopper on the plate.  Full of goodness, it will make your guests swoon with delight and did I mention that it is really easy to make?

 

Prep time:  15  Minutes                  Cooking time:  20  Minutes                 $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

20gm of butter, for frying

8 x 1.5cm thick slices of good quality sourdough

2 eggs

1/4 cup of milk

1 punnet of blueberries

1 punnet of raspberries

1 punnet of strawberries, hulled and halved

1/2 cup of water

2 tsp of caster sugar

4 tbs of Greek yoghurt

1/2 cup of toasted slivered almonds

Good quality honey for drizzling

Mint leaves for garnish

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

 

Place half the blueberries, raspberries and all of the strawberries in a saucepan with the water and sugar.  Stir until the sugar has dissolved and allow to simmer for approximately 10-15 minutes or until the berries start to break down and the sauce thickens slightly.  It will thicken more on standing.  Just before serving, add the rest of the blueberries and stir through the mixture to warm but reserve the raspberries for garnish.  The raspberries break down really quickly in the compote and look smashing on top.

 

In a shallow bowl, whisk the the eggs and milk together.  Heat a large heavy based fry pan and add the butter.  Dip the bread slices in the egg mixture and press down on either side so that the bread really soaks the mixture up and fry on either side for 4-5 minutes or until golden.  You may need to do this in batches so place the first batch on a rack and put it in the oven to keep warm.

 

To serve, place the toast in an overlapping fashion in the centre of the plate.  Divide the berry compote over the toast and place a tablespoon of yoghurt on top.  Scatter over the toasted almonds and drizzle over the honey (use as much or as little as you like, depending on how sweet you like it) and top with fresh raspberries and mint leaves.  Delish!

 

 




Hoi Sin Duck, Asian Mushroom & Egg Noodle Soup

Hoi Sin Duck & Asian Mushroom & Egg Noodle Soup

I would have to say, Duck is probably my favourite meat.  I think the reason why is that we don’t have it very often, so it is a bit of a treat.  I love Duck of any variety and in any cuisine, however Asian style is the true winning cuisine for Duck, in my eyes.  A hint of Chinese 5 Spice and a slow roast, basting occasionally with rich Hoi Sin sauce was a beautiful combination with a light, fragrant broth, delicate Asian mushrooms and crisp fresh greens.  Such a simple meal but by no means simple in flavour.

Duck is a rich meat so 3 breasts would definitely feed 4 people, however use 4 if you are a bit of a glutton like me.

 

Prep time:  15  Minutes                  Cooking time:  50 Minutes              $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

3-4 duck breasts

2 tsp of Chinese 5 spice

2/3 cup of Hoi Sin sauce

1 tsp of sea salt

2 litres of chicken stock

3/4 cup of light soy sauce

5cm piece of ginger, sliced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and bruised with the flat of your knife

2 spring onions, halved

2 punnets of mixed Asian mushrooms*, small mushrooms kept whole, larger ones sliced in half

1 bunch of choy sum, cut into 4cm batons, rinsed

4 portions of Asian egg noodles

2 spring onions, finely sliced

Chilli oil or sauce of your preference for garnish (optional)

 

Preheat the oven to 150°C and place a baking tray in the oven to warm up.

 

Place the stock, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and spring onion in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.  Reduce to a simmer and allow the broth to infuse on a low heat while you cook the duck.

 

Pat the duck breast dry with paper towel and lightly score the skin at 1cm intervals, being careful not to slice into the flesh.  Combine the 5 spice and sea salt in a small bowl and grind the salt and spice together with your finger tips, before dusting both sides of the duck breast with the mixture, making sure they are evenly coated.

 

Heat a heavy based pan until nice and smoking hot and place the breast, skin side down in the pan.  Allow them to cook for 4 minutes then turn and cook on the other side for 1 minute before removing from the pan and placing on the warmed baking tray, skin side up.  You may want to lay a piece of baking paper underneath (save on washing up).  Use a basting brush and brush Hoi Sin sauce on both sides of the duck breast before placing in the oven for 45 minutes.  Baste the duck with another generous layer of Hoi Sin every 15 minutes before removing from the oven and allowing it to rest for 5 minutes before carving.

 

Cook the Noodles according to packet instructions.  Drain and divide between the serving bowls.

 

Use a slotted spoon to remove the ginger, garlic and spring onion from the broth and discard.  Pop the shiitake mushrooms in the broth and simmer for 2-3 minutes before removing with a slotted spoon and placing with the more delicate mushrooms on top of the noodles *(the more delicate varieties like Oyster and Enoki don’t require cooking.  The residual heat of the broth will tenderise them once it is poured over).

 

Slice the duck breast on the scored skin lines and arrange over the noodles.

 

Place the choy sum in the simmering broth and allow to wilt for 1-2 minutes before removing with tongs and placing on the noodles.  Bring the broth to a fairly rapid boil so it is nice and hot before ladling over the noodles, duck and vegetables.  Top with spring onion and serve with chilli oil or sauce if you like, it adds a nice bit of warmth to the dish if you are a chilli lover such as myself.

 




Raw Vegan Balls

Raw Vegan Balls

So I had a wee visit to the Hairdressers and my Hairdresser is awesome.  Not only does she do a great job on my hair but she always feeds me.  She made me a seriously good cup of coffee and with it came this little ball of pure, healthy joy.  Now I am not a sweet tooth but she assured me that I would love everything about this little ball and that it not only tasted amazing but that there was absolutely nothing in it I could or would feel guilty about.  Pffffttt.  A-MAZING!  They came straight out of the freezer and this little sweet, chocolate tasting, snickers-like-nut-crunch ball was the best thing since sliced bread in my opinion.  You must make them for your kids, neighbours, relo’s, the school cake stall and so on.  I believe I owe a lady called Cathy a big fat round of applause as she shared this recipe with my Hairdresser, who shared this recipe with me and now I am lovingly going to share it with you.  With a couple of Em’s Food tweaks of course.

 

Prep time:  20  Minutes             $$  Medium Budget

 

Makes 14 (and a bit, which is the cooks treat of course)

 

11/2 cups of Mejool Dates*  (pips removed)

1 cup of pitted prunes

1 cup of roasted almonds

1/2 – 1 tsp of vanilla extract (depends how much vanilla you like, I used 1 tsp)

2 tbs of cocoa powder

1/4 cup of pepitas

1/4 cup of chia seeds

1/4 cup of coconut oil

11/2 cups of unsweetened desiccated coconut for rolling

 

Place all of the ingredients (except the coconut for rolling) in a food processor and blitz until you have a rough, breadcrumb-like consistency.

 

To make the balls, wet your hands and scoop out a tablespoon of the mixture.  Rotate them in your palms so they are nice and tight and then roll them in the coconut.  Place them on a lined baking tray and pop them in the freezer for 1 hour.  Once they are set you can transfer them to a container or freezer bag and keep them stored in the freezer for up to 3 months, however, they will not last that long. Trust me.

 

*Mejool Dates are available at Coles, Woolies, Health Food Shops and Gourmet Deli’s.  If you can’t get them you may use normal  dates but soak them in hot water for 10 minutes before draining the water before use.

 




Greek Lamb Stifado with Cauliflower & Fennel Bake

Greek Lamb Stifado with Cauliflower & Fennel Bake

Good Thor, I love Greek food.  Tender lamb chunks and whole baby onions, slowly cooked in cinnamon and red wine had the whole house smelling like a dream.  It just so happened I had some fennel and cauliflower lying around the veggie crisper so a Greek inspired bake to go with the lamb seemed like an excellent option.  It did not disappoint, what a combo!  Lucky for you, you get two recipes for the price of one today.  If you are time poor or don’t want to use the cauliflower and fennel bake option, this dish would be gorgeous with rice, pasta or mashed potato.  It is a winner though and it will be your loss, I have to say.

This could be done in your slow cooker on low for 6 hours or until the lamb is meltingly tender.  Don’t forget to brown the lamb and onions and reduce the stock to 1 cup.

 

Prep time:  30 Minutes                 Cooking time:  3 Hours                 $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 6-8 (depending on the size of your eaters!)

 

Oil for frying

1.4kg boned lamb shoulder, cut into 3cm chunks

12 baby onions, tops removed and skin peeled (leave the bottom in tact so the onions stay together)

4 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 tbs of dried oregano

2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped

3 bay leaves

2 cinnamon sticks

2 tbs of red wine vinegar

2 cups of good red wine

11/2 cups of chicken stock

2 x 400gm tins of diced tomatoes

3 tbs of tomato paste

1/3 cup of currants

Sea salt and cracked pepper

100gm of Fetta, crumbled

1 tbs of finely chopped parsley

1 tbs of finely chopped dill

Grated rind of 1/2 a lemon

Pita breads and steamed greens to serve

 

For the Cauliflower and Fennel Bake:

 

1/2 a head of cauliflower, florets separated

1 large fennel bulb, tops removed, halved and cut into wedges

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Grated rind of 1/2 a lemon

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tbs of finely chopped parsley

1 tbs of finely chopped dill

250ml of pure cream

1/2 cup of finely grated parmesan

Sea salt and pepper

 

Heat a large heavy based pan and add a little oil.  Fry the onions, tossing them around the pan until golden.  Remove from the pan and then add the lamb, in batches until nice and brown and caramelised.  Once all of the lamb is cooked, add it and the onions back to the pan with the garlic, rosemary, oregano, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks.  Fry for a couple of minutes and then pour in the red wine vinegar and wine.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan and allow the wine to reduce by half before adding the stock, tomatoes and tomato paste.  Season with salt and pepper and stir well to combine before bringing the mixture to a simmer.  Cover with a sheet of baking paper and top with a tight fitting lid and allow to simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Add the currants to the lamb about 30 minutes before serving.

 

Preheat the oven to 160°C.  While the lamb is cooking, place the cauliflower and fennel in a microwave safe bowl.  Add a couple of tablespoons of water and microwave on high for 4-5 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.  Drain the water away and place them in a shallow baking dish.  Combine the garlic, lemon juice and rind, dill, parsley, cream and salt and pepper in a small bowl and pour over the top of the vegetables.  Scatter over the parmesan cheese and bake in a low oven for approximately 50 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

 

To make the garnish for the lamb, crumble the feta into a small bowl and combine with the dill, parsley and lemon rind.

 

To serve, divide the cauliflower bake between serving bowls and spoon the Stifado along side, making sure everyone gets an equal portion of the deliciously sweet onions.  Sprinkle the feta mixture over the top and serve with flatbreads and steamed greens if you so desire.

 

 

 

 




Beef, Mushroom & Mustard Pie

Beef, Mushroom & Mustard Pie

Well wasn’t this just a simple little bundle of flavour packed goodness.  Hearty, succulent beef chunks, slow cooked with earthy portobello’s, big chunks of sweet carrot and a rich gravy, laden with seeded mustard.  Let us not forget the golden, butter puff topper that soaked up all the gravy with every tasty morsel.  This was literally……easy as Pie!

You could definitely cook this in the slow cooker for around 6 hours on low.  Don’t forget to brown the beef first and reduce the stock  to 1 cup.  You can also make one big pie but I love serving dishes like this individually.  You can buy ramekins like this at most department stores and kitchen shops.

 

Prep time:  20  Minutes            Cooking time:  2.5  Hours             $  Low Budget

 

Serves 4

 

Olive oil for frying

1kg of chuck steak, cut into largish 3cm chunks

2 tbs of plain flour

1 large brown onion, halved and sliced

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into decent sized chunks

250gm of portobello mushrooms, halved and thickly sliced

8 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and stalks discarded

200ml of good red wine

11/2 cups of beef stock

2 tbs of seeded mustard

2-4 sheets of butter puff pastry (2 if using a large casserole, 4 if individual)

2 free range egg yolks, beaten

Sea salt and cracked pepper

Steamed greens to serve

 

Place the flour on a plate and season generously with salt and pepper.  Place the beef chunks on the flour and toss with your fingers to coat, shaking off any excess flour.

 

Heat a large frypan and add the oil (a couple of good tablespoons should do to start).  Fry the beef chunks in batches, until really golden and caramelised as this will definitely add to the flavour of the pie.  When all of the beef is cooked add it back to the pan with the onion, thyme, carrots, mushrooms and red wine.  Allow the wine to reduce a little before adding the stock and mustard and stir well to combine.  Allow the mixture to come back to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Tear off a piece of baking paper and place it on top of the beef.  Tuck the sides down so it is nice and snug and then place on a tight fitting lid.  Simmer for approximately 1.5 hours or until the beef is meltingly tender, stirring occasionally.

 

Preheat the oven to 220°C.  Remove the lid from the beef and if it looks a little thin, allow the mixture to reduce for another 10 minutes with the lid off.  Have a taste of the gravy and adjust any seasoning if needed.

 

Place a ramekins upside down on a sheet of pastry and run your knife around, about 1cm from the edge.  This way you can crimp around the edge of the pastry and tuck the sides down.  Divide the beef mixture between the ramekins or spoon into a large pie dish and top with the pastry.  You can use the leftover pastry to decorate the top of the pie or make little extra rounds to dip in to the pie.  Brush the top of the pastry generously with the egg wash and use the tip of your knife to puncture the pastry in 3 or 4 places.  This allows the steam to escape.  Bake in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or until golden and bubbling.  Serve with a side of steamed greens.

 

 

 




Potato, Grilled Corn & Ham Hock Chowder

Potato, Grilled Corn & Ham Hock Chowder

We don’t eat an enormous amount of potatoes in our house so when I came home from our recent trip to Vietnam to discover a whole bag of them in the pantry that our house sitters had left, I just knew I couldn’t let them go to waste.  I was also absolutely fanging for some good, hearty winter stodge after dining on noodles, rice and spring rolls for 3 weeks.  I got me a ham hock, some corn cobs and a few other ingredients and found myself in creative cooking mode.  I just love it when that happens and the creation is worthy of sharing!

This soup does take a little time but to break it up, you could do it as a two step process by making the stock in the morning or the night before.  You may also have more ham stock than you need.  I popped the leftover stock in a ziplock bag and froze it.  It would be a great base for Pea & Ham soup, Minestrone or a risotto.

 

Prep time:  30  Minutes             Cooking time:  2.5 Hours                $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 6 with leftovers

 

1 kg of potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

1 large extra potato, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes (this will accompany the garnish but is optional)

1 large ham hock

2 carrots, roughly chopped

2 celery stalks, roughly chopped

1 large onion, quartered and skin left on

2 sprigs of fresh parsley

1 tsp of peppercorns

2 tsp of sea salt

2 litres of water

2 fresh corn cobs, husks removed

1 bunch of chives, finely chopped

200ml of pure cream

Sea salt and pepper

 

Place the ham hock, carrots, celery, onion, parsley, salt and peppercorns in a large saucepan and cover with 2 litres of water.  If you need to add a little more water, that is fine as you want the hock to be fully submerged.  As I mentioned above, the stock can be frozen for later use.  Bring the pot to the boil and reduce the heat to a simmer for approximately 2 hours or until the ham is coming away from the bone.

 

While the stock is cooking, heat a griddle pan or BBQ grill and grill the corn on all sides until cooked through and lightly charred. Set aside to cool until you can hold the cob with your hand.  Placing the base of the corn on your chopping board, run your knife down the sides of the corn, as close to the cob as you can so that the corn comes off in little bunches.  Keep aside one cup of the cooked corn for garnish.

 

Once the hock is cooked, remove it from the stock and set aside to cool slightly before shredding the meat with a pair of tongs (or your hands like me) and discarding any skin and the bones.  Reserve one cup of the shredded meat for garnish.  Drain the stock into a large bowl using a sieve and discard the vegetables.  Return half the stock to the pan and add the potatoes.  Bring to the boil for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are well and truly cooked when pierced with a knife.  Use a stick blender or food processor to process the potatoes until silky smooth.  Bring the soup back to a simmer and add stock, a little at a time until you have a nice, thick and smooth consistency.  Add the corn, ham meat and the cream to the soup and stir to combine.  Have a taste and adjust any seasoning if necessary.

 

Heat a small non stick fry pan and add a little oil.  Fry the extra potato cubes until golden on all sides and then add the reserved corn and ham meat to the fry pan to heat through.  Toss the mixture with half of the chives just before serving.

 

To serve, divide the soup between large bowls and top with a generous tablespoon of the potato, ham and corn mixture.  Scatter over the remaining chives and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil before grinding on a final sprinkling of pepper.  Serve with crusty bread if you so desire……

 

 

 




Quick Mushroom, Rocket & Goat’s Cheese Pizza

Quick Mushroom, Rocket & Goat's Cheese Pizza

My Son is a Chef’s apprentice and as his apprenticeship roll’s along, I get increasingly more nervous about cooking for him.  He came for lunch the other day and with limited time and few ingredients I set about creating something that would hopefully live up to his ‘Mum’s cooking’ expectations.  Mushroom & Goat’s Cheese Pizza was the result and I have to say I was fairly chuffed when he declared it a winner!  This would make an awesome midweek meal or Sunday supper, when you are either time poor or just can’t be bothered.

 

Prep time:  5  Minutes                Cooking time:  15  Minutes              $  Low Budget

 

Serves 4

 

Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

4 Greek Pita breads

2 cups of Pizza cheese or mozzarella

300gm of field, flat or portobello mushrooms, sliced

1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced

8 thyme sprigs, leaves removed from stalks and stalks discarded

1 tsp of chilli flakes

grated rind of 1 lemon

2 tbs of pine nuts

100gm go soft Goat’s cheese

4 Handfuls of rocket

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

2 tbs of balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and cracked pepper

 

Pre heat the oven to 220°C.

 

Drizzle the flatbreads with a little extra virgin olive oil.  Divide the pizza cheese evenly over the flatbreads and scatter over the mushrooms, onion and thyme leaves.  Grate the lemon rind over the pizzas and sprinkle with chilli flakes and pine nuts before seasoning with a little salt and pepper.  Divide the Goat’s cheese into 4 even portions and crumble over the top.

 

Place the pizza’s in the preheated oven on lined baking trays for approximately 15 minutes.  The time may vary, depending on your oven so keep an eye on them and remove the pizza’s once golden and bubbling.

 

Place a good drizzle of extra virgin, the balsamic vinegar and the lemon juice in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Mix to combine and then toss the rocket leaves in the dressing.  Take a handful of the rocket and pile it on each pizza before serving.




Indian Spiced Roast Chicken & Potatoes

Indian Spiced Roast Chicken & Potatoes

Well this just put the spin on plain old Roast Chicken!  Don’t get me wrong, roast chook would have to be one of my all time fave’s  however, sometimes even the staples need a little life put back in them.  Lightly spiced, tender and super easy the only thing required for this delight is a little marinating time.  The longer the better as this chicken was sublimely tender and finger lickin’ good!

 

Prep time:  20  Minutes          Marinating time:  Min 4 Hours         Cooking time:  50  Minutes         $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

Olive oil for drizzling

8 Chicken thigh cutlets, skin on and bone in

16 baby potatoes, halved (4 halves per person)

3cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbs of ground cumin

1 tbs of ground coriander

1 tsp of turmeric

1/2 tsp of chilli powder (optional)

1 tsp of sea salt

2/3 cup of plain Greek yoghurt

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

4 tbs of greek yoghurt to serve

1 cup of coriander leaves

1 red chilli, finely sliced (optional)

Steamed greens (I used a mix of broccolini, beans and baby peas)

Lemon wedges to serve

 

Combine the ginger, garlic, salt and dry spices in a small bowl and mix to combine.  It will look a little like bread crumbs.  Take half of the spice mix and place it in a large bowl with the yoghurt and lemon juice and stir well to combine.   Pop the thigh fillets in and if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, use them to make sure the marinade is rubbed right into all the little nooks and crannies of the chicken thighs.  Cover and marinate for at least four hours or overnight if you prefer (great one to do on a Sunday night, ready for Monday night dinner).

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

 

Pop the potatoes in a pot of salted water and bring to the boil.  Boil for 15 minutes or until just tender, drain well and add a good lug of olive oil and the remaining spice mix.  Pour them into a large, lined baking tray and make sure you scoop out all of the spice mix.  Again, use your hands to rub the mix right into the spuds.

 

Add the thigh fillets to the baking tray, skin side up and nestling them in between the potatoes so that everything in the pan becomes nice and crispy and drizzle over a little more oil.  Bake the chicken and potatoes for 50 minutes, turning the potatoes once or twice.  The chicken is cooked in the centre when the juices run clear if you pop a skewer in the thickest part of the thigh.

 

Remove the chicken and potatoes from the oven and allow it to rest while you steam the greens of your choice.  Divide the greens among four serving plates and top with the thigh fillets.  Place the potatoes around the plate and give the remaining pan juices a stir before drizzling them over the chicken and potatoes.  Top with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and scatter over the coriander leaves and chilli slices and serve with a wedge of lemon.

 




Sweet & Sour Pork Spare Ribs with Cucumber & Mint Salsa

Sweet & Sour Pork Spare Ribs with Cucumber & Mint Salsa

I reckon these babies, Pork Spare Ribs,  are the unsung hero of the meat department.  Luckily the restaurants don’t seem to have cottoned on so they are still well within budget (unlike pork belly and lamb shanks) and are really easy to cook with.  I’m calling this ‘Sweet & Sour’ instead of ‘Char Sui’ pork as I really wanted to sharpen up the dish, not only in the marinade but with the cooling and zesty cucumber and mint salsa that I paired it with.  A fragrant spring onion and ginger rice gave this meal another depth of flavour that took it from standard yum to super yum!

To save time if you have to go to work, marinate the spare ribs in the morning or even the night before.  The longer they marinate, the better the flavour.

 

Prep time:  25  Minutes          Cooking time:  1 Hour + at least 1 Hour marinating time                $$ Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

8-12 pork spare ribs (depending on size and look for nice lean ones)

3 tbs of char sui sauce

2 tbs of soy

1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar

2 tbs of Sriracha chilli sauce (found in the Asian section of the supermarket)

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbs of palm or brown sugar

1 spring onion, finely sliced diagonally  and lime wedges for garnish

 

For the Cucumber Salsa:

 

2 lebanese cucumbers, deseeded and finely chopped

1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1/2 cup of mint leaves, finely chopped

1/2 cup of coriander leaves, finely chopped

1 tbs of rice wine vinegar

1 tbs of caster sugar

 

For the Rice:

 

11/2 cups of Jasmine rice

21/2 cups of water

Sea salt

1 tbs of finely grated ginger

1 tsp of sesame oil

2 spring onions, finely sliced

 

In a bowl, with a whisk combine the char sui sauce, soy, vinegar, lime juice, sugar and chilli sauce.  Place the ribs in a shallow baking dish and pour over the marinade.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C.  Use a pair of tongs and lift the spare ribs out of the marinade and place them in a baking dish lined with baking paper.  Pop them in the oven and baste them with the marinade every 10 or so minutes, turning them each time you baste, for 1 hour until the ribs are golden and sticky.

 

While the ribs are cooking, place the cucumber, chilli, mint, coriander, vinegar and sugar in a bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Set aside.

 

Place the spring onion garnish in a bowl of iced water for maximum crispiness and a lovely curly effect.

 

Place the rice and water in a saucepan with a generous sprinkling of salt and the ginger.  Bring the rice to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid for 12 minutes.  After 12 minutes, remove the lid very briefly and add the spring onion.  Don’t worry about stirring it through at this stage as you don’t want the steam to escape.  After five minutes, add the sesame oil and fluff the rice with a fork, stirring through the spring onion at the same time.

 

To plate the dish, use a ramekin to spoon the rice into and then invert it onto the serving plates.  Arrange the spare ribs around the rice and spoon over the cucumber mixture.  Drizzle over any remaining pan juices, top with the spring onion and serve with the lime wedges (sorry forgot to put those on the plate when photographing the dish, but it gave it a nice citrus lift!)

 

 




Chicken Involtini with Roast Tomato & Zucchini Salad

Chicken Involtini with Roast Tomato & Zucchini Salad

With both kids having left home for the time being, it means that quite often I am home alone.  I’ve always enjoyed my own company, particularly as my thoughts are often in the food department, which I find rather satisfying (weirdo!).  I came up with this delicious recipe the other night when Hubby was at a work dinner.  I often have bits of chicken etc in the freezer and I had the other ingredients already in the house (bonus!).  I have never made Chicken Involtini before as the recipes that I have perused always look like a bit of hard work.  Tying string or pricking with tooth picks, who can be bothered?  I did however get to thinking and decided I really wanted a stuffed chicken breast so I decided to use a poaching method.  Worked an absolute treat, chicken was super moist, the bocconcini stayed inside it and I still got the lovely caramelised finish after frying it off in a little butter and oil.  Paired with a simple salad it was a really easy meal, one that I just have to share with you!

 

Prep time:  25 Minutes                       Cooking time:  25  Minutes                    $$   Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

20gm of butter and olive oil for frying

4 x 150gm chicken breast fillets

4 bocconcini balls, sliced

8 sun dried tomato halves

8 basil leaves

Sea salt and pepper

Chopped parsley or micro herbs for garnish

 

For the Salad:

 

1 punnet of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (I use the yellow and red Perino brand from Coles)

2 zucchini’s, halved lengthways and sliced into 1cm chunks

1/2 tsp of chilli flakes

Zest of 1 lemon

1 bag of baby rocket

1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Sea salt and pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Place the zucchini and tomatoes on a lined baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over the lemon rind, chilli flakes and salt and pepper.  Toss to coat and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

 

In a small bowl, combine the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper with a whisk then set aside.

 

While the vegetables are cooking, fill a large saucepan about half way up with water and bring to the boil.

 

Place the breast fillets on a cutting board.  If the tenderloin is in tact, remove it and set aside for another use.  Hold the breast fillet with the flat of your palm and run the knife along the side of the breast fillet, being careful not to cut all the way through.  Flip the chicken open and repeat with the remainder.  Cover the fillets with a large piece of cling wrap and beat with a rolling pin so that they are of an even thickness all the way through, approximately 1cm thick.  Lay two basil leaves, two sun dried tomatoes and one ball of bocconcini, sliced, down the centre of each breast and season with salt and pepper.  Tear off four large pieces of cling wrap and roll each chicken breast, nice and tight.  Place on a piece of cling wrap and roll it up, nice and tight, making sure the ends are tucked in during the process, so that no water can get in.  You may wish to use another piece as a bit of insurance.  Repeat with the remaining breast fillets.

 

Reduce the water in the pot to a simmer and place the chicken parcels in the water.  Cover with a lid and simmer for about 12 minutes, until the chicken is almost cooked through.

 

Heat a frypan and add the butter and oil.  Remove the chicken from the pot using a pair of tongs and cut the cling wrap away with a pair of scissors.  The chicken should be nice and sealed after being in the water bath.  Place the chicken in the pan, seam side down first and fry on each side until golden.  Use a spoon to baste the chicken with the butter and oil while it is cooking.

 

Divide the rocket and roasted veggies between four plates and scatter over half the pine nuts and drizzle over half the dressing.  Place the chicken on a board and slice on the diagonal about 1.5cm apart.  Top the salad with chicken slices and sprinkle over the remaining pine nuts and dressing.  Top with a smattering of baby herbs or chopped fresh parsley.

 

 




Spicy BBQ Beef Short Ribs with Beer Battered Onion Rings

My Friends at Burleigh Brewing Company on the Gold Coast again asked me to come up with a recipe for their award winning no carb beer, Big Head.  Yep you heard me correctly.  NO CARB…….Yipppeeee!!  The first of its kind in Australia, this beer is a stand out in my book and not just because Burleigh Brewing are my friends. It is because this is the first low carb beer I have tasted that actually tastes like a beer.  Clean and crisp and with that classic lager flavour, I just new it could stand up to some pretty bold flavours in the food pairing department.  It also had me thinking of some mighty fine pub grub and this is where the inspiration for this recipe came from.  Tender, sweet and spicy beef short ribs were slow cooked in a home made BBQ sauce resting on a bed of sweet potato mash (low carb of course).  I did feel that a few carbs were fine as we were drinking a no carb beer, so what better way to top off the dish than with some glorious, super crispy Big Head battered onion rings?  I nearly died and went to Heaven.

 

Prep time:  40  Minutes     Cooking time:  2.5 Hours + Minimum 2 Hours Marinating time       $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

1.2kg of Beef Short Ribs  (ask your butcher to prepare them)

1 tbs of mustard powder

1 tbs of dried oregano

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Zest of 1 orange

1/4 cup of brown sugar

Sea salt and cracked pepper

Sweet potato mash to serve (you could also have normal potato mash)*

Micro herbs or chopped fresh parsley for garnish

 

For the BBQ Sauce:

 

400ml of tomato puree

2 cloves of garlic

2 dried Ancho chilli, soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes*

1 tbs of worcestershire sauce

Juice of 1 orange

1/3 cup of brown sugar

1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar

2 sprigs of fresh oregano, stalks discarded (just run your fingers down the stalk to remove the leaves)

4 sprigs of fresh thyme, stalks discarded (as above)

A dash of tobasco sauce

Sea salt and cracked pepper

 

For the Onion Rings:

 

1 large brown onion, sliced into 1cm rounds then use your fingers to seperate

3/4 cup of plain flour, sifted

1 tbs of corn flour, sifted

1 cup of Big Head Lager  (any beer will substitute)

1 tbs of chopped fresh parsley

Sea salt and cracked pepper

Rice bran oil for frying (vegetable or canola will substitute)

 

To prepare the ribs, combine the mustard powder, oregano, orange zest, garlic and brown sugar in a bowl and season generously with salt and pepper.  Use your finger tips to rub all of the ingredients together.  Lay the ribs on a couple of large sheets of foil and rub the mix into both sides of the ribs.  Seal the foil and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Remove the ribs from the fridge and keeping them wrapped in the foil, place them on a baking tray and place in the oven for 1 hour.

 

While the ribs are cooking, place all of the ingredients for the BBQ sauce in a food processor or Nutri Ninja and blitz until smooth.  Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to reduce for approximately 20 minutes.

 

Open the ribs after 1 hour and brush both sides with the BBQ sauce.  Do this step every 15 minutes for another hour and then open the foil.  Turn the oven up to 200°C and baste the ribs every 10 minutes for 30 minutes or until you have a nice thick coating on the ribs and the meat is nice and tender.  Keep any remaining sauce nice and warm for drizzling when serving.

 

To make the onion rings, whisk the sifted flour, parsley,  beer and salt and pepper together until you have a nice thick, smooth batter.  Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan or deep fryer.  I use a saucepan as I find I don’t need to use as much oil.  Pour in enough oil to come up about an inch from the bottom.  You can test the oil temperature by dropping a little batter in the bottom,  if it sizzles and floats to the top straight away, the oil is ready.  You want your oil nice and hot (about 180°C) for perfect frying,  that way most of the oil stays in the pot and leaves you with super crispy onion rings.  Place the onion rings in the batter and make sure they are evenly coated.  Drop them in the oil (you will need to do in batches) and when they are golden and crispy, remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and place on a baking tray lined with a rack.  Keep them warm in the oven while you cook the remaining onion rings.

 

Divide your mash between four serving plates and top with the ribs.  Drizzle over a little sauce and top with the crispy onion rings.  Scatter over your preferred garnish and serve with a side of steamed greens.

 

*Ancho chillies can be found in specialty food stores or online (see link below).  You could substitute 3-4 dried red chillies and a 1/2tsp of smoked paprika to bring out the smokey flavour but they are easily found on the internet and the depth of flavour is worth it.  Because the  BBQ sauce was quite sweet, as was the sweet potato mash, I popped half a tsp of smoked paprika in my mash to cut through some of that sweetness.  It gave it a really nice flavour but this is completely optional.

 

http://www.herbies.com.au/shop/herbs-and-spices/chillies/chilli-ancho-whole-30g/




Chicken & Roasted Eggplant Thai Yellow Curry

Chicken & Roasted Eggplant Thai Yellow Curry

Just when I think I have run out of Curry inspiration, a little lightbulb goes off in my food obsessed brain and I come up with a corker.  Not blowing smoke at all, as there are hundreds of variations of Thai Yellow Chicken Curry that I am sure, are equally as good as this one.  There is a little surprise in this one though, that I am yet to witness elsewhere.  Baby eggplant, rubbed in the curry paste and baked until golden.  The reason for this?  Through the roof flavour but also, the eggplant holds together so beautifully once it has been baked.  I also made my own crispy shallots (super easy) as I read the back of the packaged ones and they are cooked in palm oil.  I happen to like Orang-utans so try and avoid palm oil where possible as it is the logging of their forests and the millions of palm oil plantations taking over that are the biggest threat to their survival.  A little bit of the Greenie coming out in me, but hey!  Every little bit helps.

 

Prep time:  20  Minutes                    Cooking time:  30  Minutes              $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

700gm of chicken thigh fillets, cut into largish chunks

4 baby eggplant, halved lengthways

4 tbs of Em’s Thai Yellow Curry Paste   (See link below or use a store bought variety…nowhere near as good 😉

1 brown onion, peeled, halved and sliced top to bottom

200gm of snow peas, tops removed and sliced diagonally

400gm tin of coconut cream

2 tbs of fish sauce

1 tbs of brown sugar

Juice of 1/2 a lime

1 red chilli, finely sliced diagonally (optional)

1 cup of roughly chopped coriander leaves

3 kaffir lime leaves, rolled and sliced very thinly

3 eschalots, peeled and thinly sliced

Peanut oil for frying (any low smoke point oil will do)

Steamed rice, coriander sprigs and lime wedges to serve

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C

 

Place the eggplant on a lined baking tray and rub one tablespoon of the curry paste into it so that they are all coated evenly.  Place in the oven and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes until golden.

 

Heat a large pan or wok and add a little oil.  Once hot, fry the onion until just starting to soften and then add the remaining curry paste.  Fry for 1-2 minutes or until aromatic and then add the chicken.  Toss to coat and when the chicken starts to turn opaque, pour in the coconut cream.  Stir to combine and once simmering, pop a lid on and allow the chicken to cook for 15 minutes.  Remove the lid and add the fish sauce, lime juice and brown sugar and stir to combine.  Simmer with the lid off for a further 10 minutes.

 

While the curry is cooking, place enough oil in a small saucepan or pan to cover the bottom by about 1.5cm.  You want the oil nice and hot so that the eschalots crisp up quickly.  You can test the oil by placing a piece of eschalot in and if starts bubbling rapidly right away, the oil is ready.  Fry the eschalots in two batches until nice and golden, remove with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on a plate lined with paper towel.

 

Remove the eggplant from the oven and add it to the curry with the snow peas.  Allow to simmer for a few minutes until the snow peas are a gorgeous, bright green colour before stirring through the chopped coriander.

 

Divide the curry in bowls with steamed rice, giving each person two halves of the eggplant.  Garnish with crispy shallots, coriander sprigs, a sprinkle of kaffir lime leaf and lime wedges if you so desire.

 

Thai Yellow Curry Paste

 




Thai Yellow Curry Paste

Thai Yellow Curry Paste

The more I cook, the more I want to make things from scratch. A. Because I know exactly what I am putting in it, and B.  It is so easy.  This fresh, mild and aromatic Thai Yellow Curry Paste can be used in Curries, Laksa or as a rub on chicken, fish or pork.  Another advantage……if you make enough it can be frozen for future meals.  No need for jars or tins with goodness knows what in them,  this is the real deal!!

 

Prep time:  10  Minutes               $$  Medium Budget

 

Makes approximately 1 cup

 

2 lemon grass stalks, white part only and finely chopped

4 Asian eschalots, peeled and roughly chopped (you could use a red onion if unavailable)

4cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

6 long red chillies, seeds removed from 3 and roughly chopped

5 coriander roots, washed thoroughly to remove any grit

6 kaffir lime leaves, rolled and sliced

Juice of 1 lime

1 tsp of ground turmeric

1 block of shrimp paste, crumbled (11/2 tsp if you have it in a jar and if you can’t stand the smell, peg your nose)

2 tbs of peanut oil

 

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until you have a fine paste.  Paste will keep covered in the fridge for up to 5 days and in the freezer for 3 months.

 

 

 

 

 




Apple, Chai & Ricotta Muffins with Apple Dukkah

Apple, Chai & Ricotta Muffins with Apple Dukkah

Like most of the baking on my website, these Muffins were not my idea (wish they were though!).  They came straight out of the latest edition of Delicious Magazine, which is a regular source of inspiration for me.  These were gorgeously fragrant and light and the whipped ricotta and honey topper sprinkled with toasted walnuts, sesame seeds, cinnamon and dried apple was simply a master stroke.  I did actually change it up a bit and replaced the cashews in the recipe with walnuts and I added extra buttermilk and oil to really moisten these babies up.  Thanks @deliciousaus, you and your contributors are my heroes!

 

I bought these groovy little cafe style muffin cases at Coles in the cake section.  I like using muffin cases as it means you don’t need to worry about greasing a muffin pan.  If you prefer, lightly grease a muffin tray before filling with the mixture.

 

Prep time:  20  Minutes                      Cooking time:  20  Minutes                    $$  Medium Budget

 

Makes 12

 

2 cups of self raising flour, sifted

3/4 cup of caster sugar

1 tsp of ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp of ground ginger

1/2 tsp of ground cloves

1/2 tsp of ground cardamom

1 egg

2/3 cup of buttermilk

1/3 cup of sunflower oil (you could use vegetable)

1/2 cup of smooth ricotta

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1/2 cup of dried apple, finely chopped

 

For the Topper:

 

11/2 cups of smooth ricotta (you will need 500gm all up)

2 tbs of good runny honey

2 tbs of toasted sesame seeds

1/2 cup of toasted walnuts, chopped finely

1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon

1/2 cup of dried apple, finely chopped

 

Pre heat the oven to 200°C.

 

In a large mixing bowl combine the sifted flour, sugar, spices and dried apple.  In a measuring jug or smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk and oil.  Add it to the dry mixture and fold through the mixture lightly before folding through 1/2 a cup of ricotta and the vanilla extract.

 

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases or lightly greased pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the centre.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before topping with the ricotta.

 

To make the ricotta, mix the ricotta and honey together with a whisk until light and fluffy.  Combine the toasted nuts, sesame seeds, dried apple and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

 

I placed the ricotta in a sandwich sized zip lock bag,  cut a tiny bit off the corner and piped the mixture onto the muffins but you can just dollop on with a spoon if you prefer.  Sprinkle over the Dukkah mixture and serve.  I liked these chilled as the ricotta set beautifully but they could be served at room temperature……

 

 

 

 

 




Italian Sausage, Wild Mushroom & Chianti Risotto

Italian Sausage, Wild Mushroom & Chianti Risotto

Don’t be fooled by the fancy title of this dish as really, the dish couldn’t be more simple.  Butcher quality Italian pork sausages were the inspiration and what better pairing than the earthy flavour of a combination of dried and fresh mushrooms.  A rich, red wine stock base and a smattering of my favourite veg of the moment, curly kale.  This is comfort food at its finest, so pour yourself a glass of red, whack on some crooning tunes and let’s get cooking.

Any red wine will do, I just happened to pick up a bottle of really good Chianti at Aldi at an enormous cost of $5.99.  It went down a treat with the Risotto as well as in it.  One more thing…..don’t be afraid of Risotto.  It is one of my favourite meals to cook as there is something really therapeutic about stirring and watching those little grains of goodness absorbing the liquid.  Just keep your heat nice and low and enjoy the process……

 

Prep time:  25  Minutes                  Cooking time:   25 Minutes                   $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

40gm of butter

2 tbs of olive oil

6 small or 4 large good quality Italian pork sausages

1 brown onion, very finely diced

2 celery stalks, very finely diced

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

6 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and stalks discarded

20gm of dried mixed mushrooms*

1 punnet of swiss brown mushrooms, sliced

11/2 cups of arborio rice

1 cup of red wine

1 cup of mushroom liquid

3 cups of beef stock

1 bag of chopped kale or 1/2 a bunch, finely shredded

1/2 cup of grated parmesan

Sea salt and cracked pepper

Chopped parsley or Micro herbs for garnish

Extra grated parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to serve

 

Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with boiling water.  Allow to stand for approximately 15 minutes, then drain through a sieve (to retain any grit) and reserve 1 cup of the liquid.  Roughly chop the soaked mushrooms.

 

Heat a large heavy based pot or pan and add half the butter and the olive oil.  When the butter has melted and is sizzling, add the onion and fry until soft before adding the celery, garlic, mushrooms and thyme leaves.  Keep the heat fairly moderate and while the onion etc is continuing to cook, cut the knot off the end of the sausages (if there is one) and pull the meat out of the sausage casing in little mini meatball pieces and add them to the pan.  Once all the sausage meat is in the pan continue to cook until they are nice and browned all over.

 

Add the rice to the pan and stir it through the other ingredients so that all the little grains are coated in the oil.  Add the wine to the pan, keeping the heat medium and stir occasionally, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid.  Once it is almost absorbed continue with the mushroom liquid and then the stock, stirring occasionally to prevent it sticking on the bottom.  The rice will take about 20 minutes to absorb the liquid and be cooked through.  You want the rice to still have a little bit of bite in the centre and not be too stodgy.

 

Once the liquid is almost completely absorbed, add the kale, parmesan and the remaining butter and season with salt and pepper.  Pop a lid on and reduce the heat to low…… you just want to wilt the kale enough for it to be stirred through the rice.

 

Divide the risotto between four serving bowls, sprinkle over the extra parmesan, drizzle over a little olive oil and top with chopped parsley or micro herbs. Tutti a Tavola a Mangiere!!

 

*Coles and Woolworths often stock dried Porcini or Mixed Wild Mushrooms in the fruit and veg section.  They are also available in gourmet food shops and of course, online…..

 

 




Quinoa Crumbed Pork Schnitty with Pea Puree & Radish & Fennel Salad

Quinoa Crumbed Pork Schnitty with Pea Puree & Radish & Fennel Salad

You must all realise by now that I like to take humble staples and turn them into something good.  Well this took the humble old Pork Schnitty to something GREAT!  The unique nutty flavour of quinoa flakes replaced the boring old breadcrumb.   The smooth, sweet and creamy pea puree replaced age old mash (no fear, I still love a good old mash) and the radish and fennel salad?  Well that super combo dressed in a light buttermilk and dill dressing took the withered old salad to dashing new heights!  This was a triumph!

Quinoa flakes can border on the expensive but I reckon you can probably get 4 x schnitzel dinners out of a bag.  It costs about $7.00 a bag but if you break it down it turns out to be less than $2 per dinner, which in the whole grand scheme of things is not too bad.  I have to say, it really did taste fantastic and to me it was worth every cent.  If you simply can’t justify it, you are welcome to use whatever breadcrumbs you like. The flakes can be found in the health food section of the supermarket.

 

Prep time:  30 Minutes                Cooking time:  20  Minutes                $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

Oil for frying (I used rice bran)

700gm of Pork leg steak (or pork sizzle steak)

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tbs of milk

1 heaped tablespoon of plain flour

11/2 cups of quinoa flakes

Grated rind of 1 lemon

1 tsp of chilli flakes (optional)

Sea salt and cracked pepper

Baby watercress and sorrel for garnish (totally optional, a sprinkling of finely chopped dill is fine)

 

For the Puree:

 

500gm of baby peas

2 tbs of chicken stock

20gm of butter

100ml of pure cream

1 sprig of mint, leaves removed and stalks discarded

A squeeze of lemon

Sea salt & cracked pepper

 

For the Salad

 

1 baby Fennel bulb, thinly sliced with a mandolin of food processor

4 radishes, thinly sliced with a mandolin or food processor (I managed to get my hands on some funky purple ones at Coles)

1/2 a red onion, finely sliced

2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup of buttermilk

1 heaped tsp of dijon mustard

1 tbs of white wine vinegar

1/2 tsp of caster sugar

A squeeze of lemon

Sea salt and pepper

1 tbs of finely chopped dill

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

 

To crumb the pork, set yourself up an assembly line.  Place the plain flour on one plate and season with salt and pepper, have your whisked egg and milk in a shallow bowl and then place your quinoa flakes on another plate.  To reduce washing up, I place a piece of baking paper on the plates and that way all I have to do is scrunch that up and put it in the bin when I am done.  Grate the lemon rind over the quinoa flakes and add the chilli.  Toss the flakes lightly with your fingers to combine.  If the pork is a little too thick, give it a little tap with a meat mallet or rolling pin before crumbing.  Place a piece of pork in the flour and lightly coat both sides, shaking to get rid of any excess.  Dip it in the egg and then press it into the crumbs so that you have a nice even coating.  Pop on a tray and repeat with the remaining pork.  Place it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the meal.

 

To make the pea puree, place the peas, mint, stock and butter in a saucepan and place a lid on.  Bring to a simmer and allow the peas to steam for approximately 5 minutes or until just warmed through.  Pour the pea mixture into a Nutri Ninja, food processor or blender and add the cream and a good sprinkling of sea salt and pepper.  Blend until super smooth and then use a spatula to transfer back to the saucepan, so that it can be reheated just before serving.

 

Place the thinly sliced fennel, radish and onion in a bowl and cover with ice cold water for a few minutes to really crisp things up.  In another small bowl combine the buttermilk, olive oil, dijon mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, dill and salt and pepper and whisk until emulsified and smooth.  Drain the salad veggies well and then dress with half of the dressing, tossing to combine.

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Heat a large frypan and add enough oil to cover the base of the pan by about 0.5cm. Fry the schnitzels on both sides for 3-4 minutes or until nice and golden and crispy.  Place them on a lined baking tray with a rack and pop them in the oven for a few minutes so they stay crispy.

 

To serve, reheat the pea puree for a couple of minutes, stirring continuously until hot.  Place a generous dollop or two on each plate and use the back of your spoon to flatten it out in a nice circular motion.  Pop a schnitzel or two on top and then use your fingers to pile a nice helping of the salad on top.  Drizzle over the remaining dressing and a good lug of Extra Virgin.  Scatter over the micro herbs or chopped fresh dill and serve……

 

Leftover Buttermilk?  Consider this…..

 

Warm Salmon Salad with Herby Buttermilk Dressing

 

 

 

 




Miso & Ginger Soba Noodle Soup with Poached Chicken, Shiitake & Broccolini

Miso & Ginger Soba Noodle Soup with Poached Chicken, Shiitake & Broccolini

So, we returned from a trip camping around Tasmania where we pretty much ate the state.  With my new muffin top I actually resembled Tasmania from the waist down to my toes so I was fairly keen to indulge in some healthy, clean food.  Not that the food we ate was unhealthy, there was just an abundance of it and of course an abundance of beer and wine to wash it down.  I also don’t have three largish meals a day, cheese every evening or a dozen sublime Bruny Island or Lease 65 oysters before every evening meal, but hey?  When in Tassie……

 

This soup ticked every box.  A clean, clear but packed full of flavour broth with buckwheat soba noodles, lean poached chicken breast, earthy shiitake mushrooms and crisp broccolini.   To give it a little flavour boost I topped it with a dollop of Donna Hay’s Chilli Jam, a smattering of spring onion, micro herbs (my new favourite thing) and a drizzle of chilli oil.  It was absolutely delicious.  Who says healthy needs to be boring?

 

Prep time:  20  Minutes             Cooking time:  30 Minutes               $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

3 chicken breast fillets, trimmed of tenderloins and any fat (pop the tenderloins in the freezer for a stir fry)

1 packet of buckwheat soba noodles

1 litre of chicken stock

1 litre of water

3 tbs of white miso paste

1/3 cup of light soy sauce

1/4 cup of mirin

3cm piece of ginger, sliced with a peeler and then finely julienned

1 punnet of shiitake mushrooms, small let whole and larger sliced

1 bunch of broccolini, sliced in half lengthways and then halved crossways

2 spring onions, finely sliced

Micro herbs for garnish (these are totally optional, a few coriander leaves scattered on top are fine)

4 tbs of Chilli Jam (store bought is fine, Em’s Food recipe below)

Chilli oil for drizzling (optional)

 

Place the stock, water, miso paste, soy sauce, mirin and ginger in a large pot and whisk while bringing to the boil, to dissolve the miso paste.  Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and place the chicken breast fillets in the broth for approximately 12 minutes or until cooked through the centre.  Place them on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.  Add the shiitake and cook for approximately 4-5 minutes or until tender and remove with a slotted spoon.  Place them on the plate with the breast fillets.

 

Place the broccolini in a bowl and cover with boiling water for about 3-4 minutes, until bright green but still crunchy.

 

Cook the Soba noodles in the broth for approximately 4-5 minutes or until just tender.  They will continue to cook in the broth once plated.  Use a pair of tongs to remove the noodles from the broth and divide between four serving bowls.

 

Place the chicken on a chopping board and slice on the diagonal about 1.5cm thick.  Arrange the chicken in a fan like fashion on one side of the bowl.  Divide the shiitake mushrooms between the serving bowls, down the centre and then place the broccolini strips on the other side of the bowl.  Make sure the broth has come back to the boil before ladling over then top with spring onion, chilli jam and herbs.  Drizzle over a little chilli oil and serve.

 

Donna Hay’s Asian Chilli Jam

 

 

 

 




Casarecce with Kale & Walnut Pesto, Grilled Zucchini & Goat’s Fetta

Casarecce with Kale & Walnut Pesto, Grilled Zucchini & Goat's Fetta

Pasta in our house is an absolute staple and we certainly have our favourites.  However I have to continuously come up with new ideas to share with you guys and that is a challenge that I relish.  I thought it was time to use a different style of pasta as I am a lover of slippery spaghetti or linguine strands and I have to say this Casarecce was a delight!  The little tubes that clung on to every morsel of the rich Kale and Walnut Pesto were deceptively filling and equally satisfying.  Topped with thin slivers of chargrilled Zucchini and a smattering of Goat’s Fetta, this was really yum.  Perfect vegetarian fare, super easy and deliciously healthy.

 

Prep time:  30  Minutes          Cooking time:  20  Minutes              $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

500gm of Casarecce pasta (you may use whatever pasta you prefer)

1/2 a bunch of Kale, leaves removed and stalks discarded (or put aside for another use)

1/2 a bunch of basil, stalks discarded

2 garlic cloves

2/3 cup of toasted walnuts (1/3 set aside for garnish)

1/2 tsp of chilli flakes (optional)

1/2 cup of sundries tomato strips

1/2 cup of grated parmesan

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 cup of reserved pasta water

Sea salt & cracked pepper

2 large zucchini’s, sliced with a vegetable peeler into long thin strips

100gm of crumbled Goat’s fetta

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

 

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.  Blanch the kale leaves in the boiling water for about 30 seconds, remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and  run under a cold water to stop the cooking process.  Once cooled, squeeze out any excess water with your hands and roughly chop.  Make sure the pot of water is still boiling and add the Casarecce.  Cook the pasta for approximately 12 minutes or until al dente`.  Once cooked, drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.

 

While the pasta is cooking place the kale, basil, garlic, chilli flakes, sundries tomato strips, half the walnuts and parmesan cheese into a food processor and season well with salt and pepper.  Squeeze in the lemon juice and turn on the processor.  Add the olive oil in a nice steady stream until you have a nice pasty, pesto consistency.

 

Heat a griddle pan to nice and hot.  Cook the slivers of zucchini on both sides, in batches until nice and charred.  It doesn’t take long if your pan is hot and there is no need to add oil.  The natural sugars in the zucchini will ensure a nice charred finish.  Remove from the pan and place on a plate, drizzle over a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cover with foil to keep warm.

 

Add 3-4 tablespoons of the pesto to the drained pasta over heat and pour in the pasta water.  The starchy water will help to make a sauce that will coat the pasta really well.  Any leftover pesto will keep in the fridge for about 5 days or can be frozen for another meal.

 

Divide the pasta between 4 serving bowls and top with the slivers of zucchini.  Sprinkle over the Goat’s fetta and remaining walnuts and finish with a nice drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.




Sicilian Spaghetti with Cauliflower, Anchovies, Pine Nuts & Currants

Sicilian Spaghetti with Cauliflower, Anchovies, Pine Nuts & Currants

I am always looking for new ways with pasta as it is something we eat at least once a week.  I love all pasta but it is really nice to come across a dish (thanks Rick Stein) that is true to its origins and has that real authentic feel (and taste) to it.  The sweet, earthy and salty combination of the cauliflower, anchovies and currants gave it the perfect balance of flavours and the toasted pine nuts gave it the perfect texture.  So too did the gorgeous toasted breadcrumbs that stuck to every silky strand of spaghetti, bulking up the dish and adding another level of flavour.  This was beautiful.

 

Prep time:  2o  Minutes              Cooking time:  30  Minutes                $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

500gm of spaghetti, cooked according to packet instructions (about 11 minutes for al dente`)

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

350gm of cauliflower, cut into florets

6 anchovy fillets, chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 small brown onion, finely diced

A pinch of saffron threads

1/2 tsp of chilli flakes

2 pieces of day old bread, crusts removed (any will do but I used light rye)

1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup of currants

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Sea salt and cracked pepper

2 tbs of chopped flat leaf parsley

Fresh parmesan and lemon wedges to serve

 

Place the cauliflower florets in a saucepan and cover with water.  Season with a little salt and bring to the boil for about 6-8 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender when pierced with a knife.  Drain, reserving the cauliflower water.

 

Cut the bread into chunks and place in a small food processor.  Blitz until you have coarse breadcrumbs.  Heat a frypan and add half of the oil.  Fry the crumbs for around 8-10 minutes or until golden.  Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.

 

Using the same pan, add a little more oil and fry the onion until soft before adding the garlic, anchovies and chilli flakes.  Continue to cook until the anchovies have broken down and then add the cauliflower, saffron, lemon juice and the cauliflower water.  Simmer for about 5-6 minutes and then use a potato masher to gently mash the cauliflower so that it resembles a thick but slightly chunky sauce.  Add the pine nuts and currants to the sauce.

 

Add a little more cauliflower water if the sauce is too thick and once you have drained the pasta, add 2/3rds of the breadcrumbs and 1/2 of the parsley to the sauce.  Season with salt and pepper and place the spaghetti to the pan and then toss with a pair of tongs until well combined.  I like to add another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil at this point, just to bind it altogether.

 

Divide the pasta between 4 serving bowls and sprinkle over the remaining breadcrumbs and parsley.  Top with a smattering of freshly grated parmesan and serve with lemon wedges.




South Indian Lamb Curry

South Indian Lamb Curry

It is absolutely no secret how much I adore a good Lamb Curry and it amazes me how many variations there are.  This is an Em’s Food version that has the ever present traditional blend of delicious spices as well as peppery curry leaves, fragrant bay and coconut cream that are reminiscent of the South Indian Curry variety.  Let us not forget to mention the large chunks of slow cooked lamb shoulder that literally melted in your mouth, the crunchy toasted almond topper, and the cooling yoghurt that completed this curry Nirvana.  Sheesh, my mouth is watering.

To keep the price down, I buy a boned shoulder roast, trim the excess fat and cut it into largish chunks.  You would be surprised at the mark up on meat if someone has to prep it for you and I often find the dice is way too small.  I want a mouthful of lamb, not a morsel!

 

Prep time:  30  Minutes                    Cooking time:  2-2.5  Hours                  $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4-6

11/2 tbs of ghee* or 1 tbs of butter and 1 tbs of olive oil

800gm of diced lamb shoulder  (the larger the chunks the better in my book)

1 brown onion, halved and sliced top to bottom

4cm piece of ginger, grated

3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves, stalks removed and discarded

3 fresh bay leaves

7 cardamom pods, bruised with the flat of your knife

11/2 tsp of fennel seeds

1 cinnamon stick

2 tsp of turmeric

1/2-1 tsp of chilli powder (depending on your fire rating)

1 tbs of ground coriander

1 tbs of ground cumin

400gm tin of cherry tomatoes (diced are fine if you can’t get them)

1 cup of water

250ml of coconut cream

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 tsp of sugar

Sea salt and Cracked Pepper

1 bag of baby spinach

1/2 a bunch of coriander, leaves and stalks roughly chopped, some reserved for garnish

Greek yoghurt for dolloping

1/4 cup of toasted slivered Almonds

 

Poppadoms & brown or white basmati rice to serve

 

Heat a large heavy based pot and melt the Ghee or butter and olive oil until bubbling.  Add the onion and fry for 4-5 minutes until soft.  Add the curry leaves, bay leaves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and fennel seeds to the pan and fry until aromatic, approximately 1-2 minutes.  Add the ginger, garlic and lamb pieces and fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously until the lamb is  lightly browned.  Add the turmeric, chilli, coriander and cumin and again, stir to coat the lamb in all the spices.  Your kitchen should be smelling pretty awesome by now.

 

Pour the water, lemon juice and tomatoes into the pot, season with salt, pepper and sugar and mix to combine.  Tear off a piece of baking paper and tuck it down, right on top of the lamb.  This will stop any steam escaping and keep the lamb meltingly tender.  Place a lid on and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer for approximately 1.5 – 2 hours, stirring periodically.  The lamb is ready when it pulls apart really easily.

 

Remove the lid and baking paper and stir through the coconut cream.  Continue simmering with the lid off for a further 30 minutes before stirring through the baby spinach and coriander and allowing it to wilt for a minute or so.

 

Serve the curry with rice and top with a dollop of yoghurt, a sprinkling of slivered almonds, the remaining coriander leaves and poppadoms.

 

*Ghee is a clarified butter that can be found in the Indian section of the supermarket.  It gives your curries the most amazing flavour!




Spanish Style Stuffed Peppers with Chorizo & Cous Cous

Spanish Style Stuffed Peppers

I can claim this one as a made-from-scratch, 100% Em’s Food brain inspired recipe.  I put a fair bit of thought into the dish as I really wanted it to carry those gorgeous Spanish flavours of Chorizo and Smoked Paprika.  It was super simple to make as Cous Cous is ready in five minutes and I used my trusty Nutri-Ninja to whizz up the sauce so that all I had to do was reduce it slightly and cook off the red wine that it was laced with.  These were really good!

For this recipe I used the little sweet baby peppers that are available at both Coles and Woolworths.  The reason being is that I wanted to use yellow capsicum as I find them sweeter than red or green and the colour is so awesome but they were unavailable.  If you can’t get the mini variety, by all means use any type of capsicum.  They will taste equally divine and probably be quite significantly cheaper.  It just so happened that the mini peppers were on sale that day too…….Wooohoooo!  Winner!!

 

Prep time:  20  Minutes        Cooking Time:    45  Minutes           $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

4 packets of tri coloured Mini Peppers or 4 large Capsicums

1 cup of wholegrain cous cous (normal is fine)

1 cup of boiling water

Sea salt & Pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

2 Chorizo sausages, diced

1 red onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 tsp of smoked paprika

1/2 tsp of chilli flakes

Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon

8 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and stalks discarded

1 cup of frozen baby peas

2 tbs of chopped fresh parsley

100gm of Fetta, crumbled

Baby watercress or chopped parsley for garnish

 

For the Sauce:

 

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp of smoked paprika

1/2 tsp of dried oregano

1 tbs of red wine vinegar

1 cup of red wine

2 x 400gm tin of diced tomatoes

1 tsp of sugar

Sea salt & pepper

 

Pre heat the oven to 180°C.  To prepare the capsicums, slice the top off and run your knife tip around the interior of the capsicum and then use your fingers to pull out the seeds and veins.  If the bottom of the capsicum is uneven and won’t sit straight, just slice a little off the bottom to even them up.  If you happen to slice a little too much off and there is a hole in the bottom, don’t panic as they will be sitting in the sauce.  If you are using large capsicums, place them in a lined baking tray and drizzle the inside with a little olive oil.  Bake them in the oven for approximately 15 minutes to soften slightly.  I found the baby ones did not need any pre cooking and I like a little crunch anyway.  Allow to cool slightly before stuffing.

 

Place the cous cous in a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and pour the boiling water over the top.  Cover with cling wrap and set aside for 5 minutes.  When all of the liquid is absorbed, fluff the cous cous with a fork and set aside.

 

Place the garlic, smoked paprika, oregano, red wine vinegar, red wine and tomatoes in a blender or food processor.  Season with salt and pepper and whizz until you have a smooth sauce.  Set aside.

 

Heat a frypan until nice and hot and add the chorizo.  Fry until it has rendered out the oils and is nice and golden and then add the onion and garlic.  Fry for a few minutes until the onion has softened and then add the thyme leaves, smoked paprika and chilli flakes.  Fry for a further 60 seconds or so and then add the lemon juice and rind.  Once the lemon juice has evaporated, add the baby peas and fry until they have just defrosted and are nice and green in colour.  Add the mixture to the cous cous along with the chopped parsley and mix well to combine.

 

In the same pan that you cooked the chorizo in, add the tomato sauce.  Bring it to a simmer and allow it to reduce for about 5-7 minutes until nice and thickened.  This will also get rid of the raw wine flavour.

 

I used individual ramekins for this dish but by all means use a large casserole if that is all you have.  Pour the sauce into the bottom of the ramekins or casserole.  Use a spoon to divide the Chorizo mixture between the peppers, patting the mixture down with the back of the spoon so they are nice and tightly stuffed.  Place enough mixture in so that it is piled nice and high on top before carefully nestling them in the sauce.  Sprinkle over the feta cheese and bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until the tops and fetta are nice and golden.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the baby cress or chopped parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  Serve with a nice green salad.




Thai Chicken Larb Salad

Thai Chicken Larb Salad

So it was 40°C here the other day and I was not in the mood for slaving over a hot stove.  Hubby was going to be home late so I needed a dish that he could eat later (as there was no way I was going to wait), that wouldn’t wilt from the dressing and would be as nice for him as it was for me.  Clearly I am wife of the year and this meal was just the ticket.  I can’t tell you how much I loved this dish.  It was so fresh and light but full of the fresh, punchy Asian flavours that I absolutely adore.  Have I told you lately just how much I love food?

By the way, the leftovers were sublime the next day.  You will be the envy of the office with this baby in your lunch box.

 

Prep time:  20 Minutes             Cooking time:  10 Minutes             $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

Oil for frying

800gm of lean chicken mince (preferably free range)

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

3cm piece of ginger, finely minced

1 stalk of lemon grass, finely sliced and then chopped (you could use a food processor to mince the aromatics)

1 green chilli, sliced (seeds removed if you don’t like it too spicy)

4 kaffir lime leaves,  centre spine removed then rolled in a bunch and finely sliced

3 tbs of fish sauce

Juice of 2 limes

1/2 a red onion, halved and finely sliced top to bottom

11/2 tbs of caster sugar

1 bag of bean shoots

1 cup coriander leaves

1/2 cup of mint leaves

1/2 cup of thai basil leaves (double the mint if you can’t get thai basil)

1/2 cup of toasted granulated peanuts

1 sweet crunch lettuce (available at woolies but iceberg will do), core removed and leaves separated

Lime wedges to serve

 

If using an iceberg lettuce, remove the core by banging the base of the lettuce, quite firmly on the bench.  This will loosen the core and it should just pull out.  Run cold water into the base of the lettuce, this will make it much easier to seperate the leaves.  If using the sweet crunch (my new favourite lettuce), just cut the bottom off and the leaves will pull away really easily, more like a cos lettuce.  Rinse the lettuce well and then place in the fridge while you cook the meal.  This will ensure a super crunchy lettuce cup.

 

Heat a wok to nice and hot and add a little oil.  Fry the chicken mince in a couple of batches, using a wooden spoon to break it up during the cooking process until it is starting to turn golden and is cooked through.  Once all the mince is cooked, place the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chilli slices to the wok (you may need a little more oil) and fry for 1-2 minutes before adding the mince back to the wok.  Toss to combine and then remove from the heat and allow to cool while you prepare the salad.  You may want to give it a stir now and then to release the heat.

 

In a small bowl, whisk the fish sauce, lime juice, caster sugar and kaffir lime leaves until the sugar has dissolved.  Just before serving,  add the sliced onion and pour the dressing over the mince then toss well to break up the onion and coat the mince.

 

In another bowl, combine the bean shoots and herbs and toss.

 

I would serve this platter style like the photo.  To assemble, place a little mince in the bottom of the lettuce cup, top with the bean shoots and herbs and sprinkle over peanuts.  Serve with an extra squeeze of lime……

 

If you have leftover Thai herbs, you may want to consider cooking these dishes:

 

http://emsfoodforfriends.com.au/thai-basil-beef-stir-fry/

 

Quick Beef Pho

 

 

http://emsfoodforfriends.com.au/green-curry-turkey-balls-with-mixed-peas-noodles-asian-herb-salad/

 

 




‘The Godfather’ Burger with Zucchini Parmesan Chips

'The Godfather' with Zucchini Parmesan Chips

Gourmet Burgers are all the rage at the moment with Burger joints popping up all over the place.  The thing is, I like my burger to be healthy, not oozing with orange coloured cheese, fatty bacon and limp lettuce.  This Italian inspired burger was the absolute gear, made with fresh ingredients but still comprising of that Burger ‘Wow’ factor.  Juicy beef patty, homemade pesto, aioli and a simple salad were the makings of a great burger but the thick slices of fresh mozzarella wrapped in basil leaves and thin slices of prosciutto made it a burger fit for a Mafia Boss. Bellissimo (finger tip kiss!)

 

Prep time:  20  Minutes                    Cooking time:  30  Minutes                $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

500gm beef mince  (I like to use regular for burgers, stops the patty drying out)

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 tsp of dried oregano

1 tbs of worcestershire sauce

1 heaped tsp of dijon mustard

1 tbs of tomato paste

1 egg, whisked

Sea salt and Pepper

4 Ciabatta rolls, halved crossways

4 tbs of aioli (I use Taylors brand, nice whole egg aioli or make your own if you prefer)

4 tbs of homemade pesto (see link below for Em’s Food recipe)

Baby gem lettuce leaves

2 tomatoes, sliced

1 small red onion, sliced

 

For the Mozzarella parcels:

 

8 slices of thin prosciutto

1 whole buffalo mozzarella, sliced into 1/2cm thick rounds (plain mozzarella would be fine also)

8 basil leaves

 

For the Zucchini Parmesan Chips:

 

2 large zucchini, sliced into thick chips

1 egg, whisked

1 cup of panko crumbs

1/2 cup of finely grated parmesan

Sea salt and pepper

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C

 

Place the bread crumbs and parmesan in a shallow bowl and season with a little salt and pepper.  Dip the zucchini  batons in egg and then coat with the breadcrumb mix before placing on a lined baking tray in a single layer.  Drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden.

 

Place the mince in a large bowl with the garlic, oregano, worcestershire sauce, dijon, tomato paste and egg.  Season well with salt and pepper and use your hands to combine the mince well and then form into 4 equal sized patties.  Place them on a lined baking tray and use an egg flip to flatten down so they are approximately 1.5cm thick.  Pop in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

 

To make the mozzarella parcels, lay one piece of prosciutto on a board and place a slice of mozzarella in the centre.  Lay a couple of basil leaves on top of the cheese and fold the edges of the prosciutto in.  Turn it upside down onto another piece of prosciutto (in the opposite direction to the first piece, like a cross), so that the seam side is sealed.  Fold in the edges of the second slice and pat it down to seal it.  Repeat with the remaining prosciutto etc.

 

Heat a BBQ plate to nice and hot (you can cook this in a pan) and cook the beef patties on both sides for approximately 5 minutes.  Set aside to rest and then cook the prosciutto parcels, seam side down first.  They will only take a few minutes either side but are ready when you can just see the cheese starting to ooze.

 

Place the buns on a grill for a few minutes until lightly charred on both sides.

 

To assemble the burger, place a nice dollop of aioli on the base of the bun.  Top with lettuce, tomato and onion slices.  Place the meat patty, mozzarella parcel and a dollop of pesto on before topping with the bun.  Serve with the zucchini chips and get ready to enter ‘Burger Heaven’.

 

For Em’s Food pesto, check the link below. You may use store bought and I might forgive you……

 

Basil Pesto

 




Sticky Pork Meatballs with Glass Noodle Salad

Sticky Pork Meatballs with Glass Noodle Salad

This was a triumphant little dish that I came up with, using pretty much what I had in the fridge. Not having kids in the house at the moment means that I need to get a tad more creative, otherwise I will be throwing out a whole heap of fresh food.  This was delightfully simple to make, budget friendly and healthy.  The perfect summer midweek meal.

 

Prep time:   30  Minutes            Cooking time:  20  Minutes                 $$  Medium Budget

 

Serves 4

 

Peanut oil for frying  (veg, canola, rice bran are a good substitute)

500gm lean pork mince

2 tbs of red curry paste

A handful of coriander stalks, finely chopped

2cm piece of ginger, grated

1 clove of garlic, finely minced

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup of bread crumbs

2 tbs of fish sauce

1/4 cup of light soy sauce

1 tbs of honey

Juice of 1/2 a lime

Zest of 1 lime

1/4 cup of granulated peanuts, toasted in a dry pan

1 red chilli, sliced (optional)

1 cup of coriander leaves for garnish

 

For the salad:

 

200gm of rice vermicelli noodles, soaked in cold water for 15 minutes

1 carrot, finely julienned*

1 cucumber, halved, deseeded and finely sliced diagonally

2 radishes, halved and finely sliced

2 tbs of rice wine vinegar

Juice of 1/2 a lime

1 tbs of caster sugar

 

Place the pork mince, curry paste, coriander stalks, garlic, ginger, egg and breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl and use your hands to combine.  Dampen your hands and use them to roll golf ball size meatballs.  Heat a large frypan and add a little oil.  Fry the meatballs on both sides until golden (you may need to do this in batches).  Remove the meatballs from the pan and set aside.

 

In the same pan, add the fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, lime zest and honey.  Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.  Place the meatballs back in the pan and use a spoon to coat the meatballs.  Allow to simmer for approximately 10 minutes, basting or turning the meatballs occasionally.  Once cooked through, remove the meatballs from the heat and allow to cool slightly before serving.

 

In another bowl, combine the rice wine vinegar, caster sugar and lime juice with a fork or whisk until the sugar has dissolved.  Place the carrot, cucumber and radish in the bowl and toss the vegetables to coat.

 

Drain the noodles and then cover with boiling water for approximately 30 seconds, drain again and run under cold water.

 

To serve, divide the noodles between four serving bowls.  For nice presentation, place them to one side and then divide the salad between the bowls on the other side.  Place the meatballs on top and spoon over the sticky sauce.  Garnish with the peanuts, chilli and coriander leaves.

 

You may be wondering how I get my carrot julienne so fine.  I have a wonder tool that looks a lot like a flat peeler but has a little serrated edge on it.  You can by them at most kitchen shops or online and they are very reasonably priced.  I use mine all the time and it really takes a lot of the hard work out of the equation, fantastic for presentation too. Check the link below……

 

https://www.house.com.au/baccarat-cuisinepro-y-julienne-peeler