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

 

 

 

 




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

 

 




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