I hope you enjoy the food!!!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chocolate Wheat Bix Slice

I remember my Mum making this slice for us when we were kids.  It was always a favourite.  Forty odd years on, and it is still a favourite.  As I write about it today, I will be lucky if there is any left over by the end of today!!!  (I only made it on Sunday!!)  Thanks goodness the little convection oven can make slices!!!  This slice is just so easy to make - and you usually have all the ingredients on hand too!!

Chocolate Wheat Bix Slice

1 cup self raising flour
4 wheat bix (crushed)
1 1/2 tbs cocoa
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup coconut
125g butter, melted

Chocolate Icing
1 cup icing sugar
2 tbs cocoa
few drops vanilla essence
20g butter, melted
1 tbs milk (plus extra if needed)

Coconut, extra

Preheat oven to 180C.

Mix all ingredients, including the melted butter, in a bowl.

Press the mixture firmly into a slice tin

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until goden around the edges.

Remove from oven and make the icing.  Place the icing sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and butter in a bowl.  Mix together, then add 1 tablespoon of milk, adding more if necessary to form a smooth paste.

While the slice is still hot place the chocolate icing over the top of the slice.  Spread it out so the heat of the slice makes spreading it easier.  Coat the top of the slice with the icing, garnish with extra coconut, then leave to cool completely.

Cut into squares.

See if you can start a family tradition with this slice - let's see if we can keep it going another 40 years!!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Beef Fillet with Raspberry Sauce

Recently when I went to the Food and Wine show I received a cookbook as a gift for taking out a subscription with Delicious Magazine.  Another cookbook!!! - like I need any more!!  Really though, can a girl ever have too many cookbooks??  I think not!  I was really pleased with this one though because it was Valli Little's Quick Smart Cook.  I love Valli Little's cookbooks - she has beautiful looking inventive food, and the best part is that they are usually incredibly easy.

As I flipped though the book the other day looking for inspiration a picture for beef fillet with raspberry sauce caught my eye.  The list of ingredients was simple - not many steps involved - looked like a winner.  So if you are looking for simplicity, but with incredible flavour - give this one a go.

Beef Fillet with Raspberry Sauce, Garlic Potato Mash and Beans

Serves 4

1 tbs olive oil
10g unsalted butter
4 x 180g beef fillet (or scotch fillet) steaks
1 cup red win
2 tbs caster sugar
250g raspberries
1 cup beef stock
300ml sour cream
potatoes - for mash
4 cloves whole, peeled garlic
green beans to serve

Peel potatoes, place in saucepan with enough water to cover.  Add salt and the cloves of garlic.  Bring to the boil, and simmer for approximately 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.  Once the potatoes are cooked, drain well.  Mash the potatoes and the cloves of garlic well.  Add the remaining sour cream, season with salt and pepper.

Place the oil and butter in a frypan over high heat.  Season the steaks with salt and freshly ground black pepper - cook for 2-3 minutes each side until browned and cooked medium-rare (or until done to your liking).  Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with foil to keep warm while you make the sauce.

Return the pan to medium heat and add the red wine, sugar and most of the raspberries (reserving about 1/2 cup for garnish).  Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until the fruit has broken down.  Add the stock and cook for 3-4 minutes until syrupy.  Whisk in 3 tbs of sour cream and season to taste.  Strain the sauce, discarding the solids, and return to the pan.  Add any beef resting juices and the reserved berries to the pan and stir until heated through.

Serve the steaks on the potato mash, and with steamed green beans.  Drizzle over the raspberry sauce.

This was a really lovely dish, the sauce had great flavour.  I used frozen raspberries, but the recipe suggests that you could also try blueberries or redcurrants when in season.  Just adjust the sugar to taste.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ocean Trout with Minted Broad Bean Salad, Basil Fried Tomato and Couscous

I remember the very first time I made this dish.  It was a long time ago, we had just headed out of "babydom" and I made a "date night" for us - set a little table - just the two of us in front of the fire.  Ahh romance!  Maybe it was the romance of no "babies" around while we ate, or maybe it was the fire - but that meal seemed to have so much more impact than last night's meal did.  Perhaps I have spoiled Mr. CCC - he now is fed so well that a good meal is the norm - back then I don't think I had the time to devote to making special meals all the time, and when they occurred they were that much more appreciated.

I enjoyed last night's dinner, even if it was ho hum for Mr. CCC.  Any meal that has seafood is a good meal with me.  Yesterday, guided by the lovely Irene at Seafood @ Hornsby I decided to go with a whole Ocean Trout, as opposed to individual pieces of salmon.  The cost savings were quite significant - $25 for the whole fish as opposed to around $40 for individual pieces of salmon.  What I had Irene do was butterfly the fish and remove the main bone line.  We still had a few small bones, but the majority were gone.  Onto the recipes...

Ocean Trout
Approximate weight 1.2 kg (before cleaning)

Olive oil
3 cloves crushed garlic
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Simply rub the garlic, salt and pepper and olive oil on both sides of the fish.  Barbeque over medium high heat for approximately 4 minutes each side.  How simple is that!!!

Minted Broad Bean Salad
Serves 4

500g pack of frozen broad beans, shelled * (see picture)
3/4 cup shredded fresh mint
3 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs wholegrain honey mustard
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Place the broad beans in a saucepan of salted boiling water, and cook for 5 minutes.  Drain and cool under running cold water.  Remove the skins from the beans.  Combine the beans with the mint, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard and salt & pepper.

Broad beans require quite a lot of work to get to the lovely little green seeds that are inside.  First of all if you are buying them fresh, you will need to remove the seeds from the outer pod.  

Then you need to remove the "skin" layer from the 
seed - you do this by pinching a small slit in the
skin, then gently pushing the green inner seed
out through the hole.

Believe me, it is well worth doing this - it gives 
them an entirely different flavour.

Once you have tasted the finished product you will have forgotten about how long it took you to shell the beans!!!  It was all worth it.

Basil Fried Tomato and Couscous

1 cup couscous
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
150g baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs olive oil
3 ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced 
1/2 cup shredded basil

Balsamic Glaze * to serve
50g butter

Place the chicken stock in a saucepan, and bring to the boil.  Remove from the heat - add the couscous.  Place the lid on the saucepan, leave for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, add the butter, and fluff with a fork.

Press the tomato slices into the shredded basil (both sides).

Heat the oil in a frypan over medium heat.  Cook the tomato for 
3 minutes each side, or until they are golden.

To serve place the spinach leaves on a serving plate.  Top with the couscous.  Top with the tomatoes, then sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and balsamic glaze.

* you will find the balsamic glaze recipe in the condiments section - "Special Balsamic Sauce".

Even though it seems this is quite a difficult (ie many components) meal - it really is very easy - the hardest part is shelling the broad beans.  Once you have the ingredients chopped etc - it is all smooth sailing.  This is a great entertaining dish as you can prepare the broad bean salad and the couscous ahead, then all you have to do is cook the tomatoes and the fish.

Now, back to the romance department - there was a little love in the air last night.......

Guess who - don't sue!!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Banana Bread

I know I have banged on about flawed recipes before - but here is another one!!

As you know my oven is out of action.  Why does it take so long to order some hinges and re-glue the glass?  They haven't even ordered the parts yet - and they are not going to re-glue until next week - hello, you have had it for two weeks!!! - Don't you know there are people out there waiting for my oven required recipes!!!.

Sorry, not complaining about service companies here I am complaining about flawed recipes....

Anyway saw this recipe for Banana Bread and even though the oven was out of action I thought, I can't let those bananas go to waste - will attempt this in my little convection oven!  I have learnt over time that when "baking" in it I have to adjust the temperate by a good 20 degrees - so with that thought in mind I adjusted the temperature - to 130 degrees C?!!? Oh well, it is a printed recipe - they must be right. Right??  Now, I know that I didn't have the correct pan that they were asking for - but in the scheme of things it's depth was really the only thing lacking, so I can only blame myself for the overflow (which by the way was yummy, crispy, crunchy and almost like banana toffee!!).  I will give you the recipe as it was printed in the MasterChef Magazine - try it at 150 degrees if you will!!

Banana Bread with Honeyed Ricotta

1 2/3 cups self raising flour
1 tsp bicarb soda
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 over ripe bananas, mashed
2 tbs greek style yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups walnuts, roasted, halved
150g ricotta
1/2 cup honey

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.  Grease and line the base and sides of an 8cm x 11cm x 30cm (6 cup) loaf pan with baking paper.  Sift flour, bicarb soda, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp salt into a bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar on high speed until thick and pale.  Reduce speed to low-medium and gradually add oil in a thin steady stream.  Add bananas, yoghurt and vanilla, and beat until well combined.  Add flour mixture and three quarters of the walnuts and stir until combined.  Pour batter into prepared pan and scatter with remaining walnuts.  Bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes in pan, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, combine ricotta and 2 tbs honey in a bowl.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 tsp cinnamon.  Place 4 tbs honey in a small pan and warm slightly.

Drizzle banana bread with warm honey.  Thickly slice and serve with honeyed ricotta.

Now please try this - perhaps it was just my crappy little convection oven - perhaps this is not a flawed recipe at all!!!

I will tell you though, that the flavour of the cake was really, really good, even though it was a little undercooked in the centre.  It made a great dessert.  I didn't make the ricotta - so I can't comment on that - but it was definitely worth giving another try (when I have my real oven back!!).

One thing that I can produce OK in the convection oven is the caramel slice that you will find the recipe for in the baking section.  I can't keep it up the them - they love it, and are already asking for more!

Peri Peri Chicken Burgers

If you are looking for something quick, easy, and healthy for a meal, how about Peri Peri Chicken Burgers?

The other night people were in and out, I was not sure how many were eating so I decided to get some chicken breasts and some rolls and make chicken burgers.  "The Darlings" don't like spicy - so I didn't marinate theirs in the perir peri sauce - but it still made for an easy dinner.

Peri Peri Chicken Burgers

Serves 4

1 double chicken breast, sliced in half horizontally
2 tbs Peri Peri Sauce * see photo
3 cloves of crushed garlic
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 bunch coriander leaves, chopped
freshly ground pepper

Combine all the above ingredients in a bowl, add the chicken pieces and marinate for at least an hour.

To cook, you can either pan fry (which is what I did) or you can char grill on the BBQ.

To serve, top the bun with Perinaise (see photo), lettuce, tomato, avocado, and pickled cucumbers.  Add sauce of choice - sweet chilli of course, and enjoy!!!

Pickled Cucumbers

1 cucumber, shaved into ribbons
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 red chilli, finely diced
1 tbs caster sugar

Place the rice wine vinegar, sugar and chilli in a bowl.

To shave the cucumber into ribbons, use a vegetable peeler.  Add the cucumber to the vinegar mixture.  Marinate for as long as you marinate the chicken.

How's that for a simple dinner?

Food has been a bit of a non event in this house this week - must still be in a funk about my oven!!!  Every time I think of a recipe I have to remind myself - No Oven!!!  I attempted to make sweet potato rosti last night - they looked nothing like the photo, and were a bit of a disaster - so won't even bother sharing that recipe!!

I am trying to get myself out of the funk tonight - have just been shopping and have multiple choices for dinner tonight - will see what I feel like cooking when I get all the groceries away!! (probably nothing!!)

Dear Readers do you ever get in food funks?  How do you get out of it?  Me .... I am hoping someone comes up with a website that tells me what to we are having, plans it all, buys it all (and cooks it all!!!!) LOL - wouldn't that be great!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pad See Ew

With my oven still out of action I have to look at different options for making the dinner quick and easy when we get in from sport.  I saw this recipe in the latest issue of Good Taste - they have a section in there this month on Family Thai recipes.  They all look really good - some more spicier than others though.  This noodle dish was a good one as it wasn't too spicy.

Pad See Ew is a noodle dish that is made with broad, flat rice noodles, also commonly referred to as "river noodles".  You will find street hawkers making and serving this dish throughout Thailand - to the Thai this is one of their "comfort foods".  "Ew" is the Thai word for soy sauce - so this dish is literally "stir fried soy sauce".  There is no chili added to the dish - this is usually done by personal preference after serving, by adding chilli sauce.

Here is the recipe as printed in this month's Good Taste Magazine.

Pad See Ew

Serves 4

450g pkt fresh rice noodles
2 tbs ketchap manis
1 tbs oyster sauce
1 tbs light soy sauce
1 1/2 tbs peanut oil
350g beef fillet, thinly sliced *
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 bunch gain lan (chinese broccoli), cut into 3cm lengths
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 cup bean sprouts, trimmed

Pierce the noodle packet with a knife, and place in the microwave for approximately 1-2 minutes, or until the noodles have loosened.

Combine the ketchap manis, oyster sauce, and soy sauce in a small bowl.

Heat 1/3 third of the oil in a wok over high heat.  Stir fry half the beef for 2 minutes, or until browned.  Repeat with the remaining meat (making sure to reheat the wok between batches).

Heat the remaining oil in the wok.  Stir fry the garlic for 1 minute, or until aromatic.  Ad the gai lan and stir fry for 2-3 minutes.  Add the noodles, ketchap manis mixture, beef, egg and pepper.  Cook, tossing for 2 minutes, or until the egg is cooked and the sauce thickens.  Top with the bean sprouts.

* to slice the beef as thinly as possible place it in the freezer for 2 hours before cutting - this will give you lovely even thin slices.

To make this dish really quick and easy - just have all the ingredients prepared before hand, and you can literally just throw this dish together in a few minutes when you are ready!!

Now of course I modified this dish to suit us - I added more beef, and used porterhouse (it was on special!!)  I also added more noodles, and a few more vegetables - I am loving endamame at the moment - I know not Thai - but good for you!! To add a little more flavour - and give it that lovely smoky, authentic flavour I cooked the beef in sesame oil.  It just gives it a that little bit more depth of flavour.

It's true - it was a very comforting dish - soft, sweet, easy to eat and made you feel good inside!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


We are lucky enough to have an organic fresh food market locally each Thursday.  Not only can we buy organic fruit and vegetables, but there are food stalls as well - Indian vegetarian food, gluten free pies and pastries, but by far the most popular is the gozleme stand.  Here the turkish ladies, come rain, hail or shine stand for hours in their veils, working tirelessly making gozleme after gozleme.  Often times you can wait for around 20 minutes for a fresh gozleme hot off the griddle!!

So what is a gozleme?  Just in case you have been living under a rock and haven't had the chance to try one - they are a wonderful hot bread/crepe/pastry concoction that is filled with spinach and feta cheese, or mince with spinach and feta, or mushrooms and spinach and feta, cooked until golden on the griddle and then served with lashings of lemon juice!  Yum!!!

I have attempted to make these in the past, and was not overly impressed with the results - I tried to cook them on the hotplate on the BBQ, so that I could cook more than one at a time - but I think my "bread" lacked consistency.  I had made a dough that had self raising flour and yoghurt.  As I have been experimenting with pizza dough lately I decided to give the old gozleme another go.  This time I made a "pizza" type dough - and the results were so much better.  Now I know that you don't commonly see gozleme with "sausage" in them, but I had some leftover sausages in the fridge so I decided to make little mini meatballs with the sausage meat and incorporate them with the spinach and feta - I must say I really liked the taste.

So here is my recipe for Gozleme

Makes approximately 6

3 cups of pizza/bread flour
2 tsp salt
7g sachet dried yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water
200g baby spinach
200g feta cheese
olive oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges to serve
* meat of choice (if you wish) - either mince or sausage that has been cooked

Grease a large glass bowl with olive oil.  Set aside.  In another large bowl combine the flour and salt.  In a smaller bowl combine the yeast and sugar with the warm water and whisk to dissolve.  Leave this mixture to sit in a warm place for approximately 10 minutes, or until it is bubbly.  Make a well in the flour mixture, and slowly add the water and yeast mixture.  Use a spoon to gradually combine the liquid into the flour.  When it is nearly all combined, use your hands to mix the dough further.  Once all the flour has been incorporated, turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead for approximately 10-15 minutres, or until the dough is lovely and smooth and elastic.  You may need to add a little more flour as you are kneading, but try and keep it to a minimum.  When the dough is ready, place it in the oiled bowl, cover with a piece of plastic wrap that has also been lightly oiled, and leave the dough for approximately 1 hour in a warm place, or until the dough has doubled.  You can leave for longer if you like.

When you are ready to make the gozleme, divide the dough into 6 pieces.  On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out into an oblong shape, making sure that the dough is nice and thin (but not too thin!!).

On the bottom half of the oblong place your filling ingredients - here I put my *"sausage" meatballs then, topped them with baby spinach, and sprinkled with the crumbled feta cheese.  Here you can place as much as you like in the gozleme, but remember not too, too much!!  Fold over the top half of the oblong and gently squeeze the edges together to form a nice parcel.  Lightly paint the top of the gozleme with olive oil.

In a frypan that has been heated over medium heat gently place the oiled side of the gozleme onto the frypan.  Cook for approximately 4-5 minutes, or until the gozleme is golden on that side.  While the gozleme is still in the pan lightly brush the other side with olive oil, and then flip over.  Cook the other side for 4-5 minutes, or until it is golden.  It is OK to press down on the gozleme as it is cooking!!

Remove from the pan and cut into six pieces.  Serve with wedges of lemon, and lots of paper serviettes!!!

Forget the sausage sizzles, I wish they would all be replaced with gozleme stands!!  I would far sooner have one of these after the rugby on a Saturday!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lumpia and Korean Style Sizzling Beef

Recently we took "The Darlings" out to the local Korean Restaurant.  They absolutely loved the food (well all but those dreaded vegetables!!)  The meat had a lovely sweetness to it that they really took to.  So when I saw this recipe for Korean Style Beef in the current issue of Good Food, I thought I would just have to give it a go!

I decided to have an "Asian Style" themed meal so to go with the steak, I decided to make Lumpia as an entree.

So what are Lumpia?  They are similar to spring rolls, and are very popular in Indonesia and the Philippines.

My Little Junior MasterChef decided to help me make them.  They are a great dish to get the kids involved in.  Even though he saw all the ingredients (including the vegetables) he still loved them!!!


Makes approx. 18

1 tbs peanut oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 tsp finely grated ginger
250g chicken mince
200g green prawn meat, finely chopped
1 /1/2 cups finely shredded wombok cabbage
2/3 cup bean sprouts, trimmed
2 tbs soy sauce
white pepper
frozen spring roll wrappers, just thawed
peanut oil, extra, to deep fry

Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat until smoking.  Stir fry the garlic and ginger for 1 minute, or until aromatic.  Add the chicken mince and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, for 4-5 minutes or until the mince changes colour.  Add the prawns and cabbage, and stir fry for 2 minutes, or until the prawns change colour.  Add bean sprouts and soy sauce.  Stir fry until the liquid evaporates.  Season with white pepper.  Set aside to cool.

Place 1 spring roll wrapper on a clean work surface.  Place 2 teaspoon fulls of the chicken mixture diagonally across 1 corner of the wrapper.  Brush the opposite corner with water.  Fold in the sides and roll up to enclose the filling.  Now here is the tip!!!  I actually had to "double wrap" the rolls as the "skin" started to break up - but the result was that we had a lovely crispy roll.  Repeat until all the filling is gone!!

Add enough oil to a large heavy based saucepan.  I actually didn't "deep fry" them - I put in only about 2cm of oil, and just turned them frequently - do whichever way works best for you.  Anyway, heat the oil over medium high heat (until a cube of bread turns golden brown in 15 seconds).  Add several spring rolls to the oil, and cook, turning occasionally, for 2 minutes, or until crisp and golden.  Be careful not to let the oil get too hot, or the outside will brown too quickly.

Repeat until all spring rolls are cooked.

Serve with sweet and sour sauce and sweet chilli sauce.

Now because the main dish was all meat - I decided that my little carnivores would require more than the stipulated serving of 600g of steak for 4 people.  I think I ended up with between 1kg and 1.2kg of steak, so because of this I decided to double the sauce mixture.  This was a mistake - it was actually too syrupy and it didn't give the steak a chance to "caramelise" in the pan.  So when you make this - if you adjust the meat - don't adjust the liquid!!

I will give you the recipe as it is printed in the magazine.

Korean Style Sizzling Beef

Serves 4

600g beef rump steak, trimmed *
1/3 cup salt reduced soy sauce
1/3 cup mirin
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 tbs sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs vegetable oil
5 green onions (shallots) cut into 5cm lengths, sliced lengthways
1 tbs sesame seeds, toasted

Slice the beef as thinly as possible **.  Mix together soy sauce, mirin, garlic, sugar and sesame oil in a large bowl.  Add the sliced beef, season with freshly ground black pepper and toss to combine.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan on high heat.  Stir fry the beef in two batches for 2-3 minutes, until browned.  Add two thirds of the green onion and stir fry for 1 minute, until just cooked.  Remove from heat and stir through sesame seeds.  Scatter over remaining green onions.

Serve with steamed rice.

* I used Porterhouse steak.  Use the best possible steak that you can afford - the results are so much better if you use a better cut of steak.  

**  To slice the steak as thinly as possible, place the steak in the freezer for 1-2 hours before slicing.

Stay tuned - after our little trip to Asia we visited the Mediterranean for some Turkish Gozleme!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fideos with Chicken, Prawn and Chorizo

I must say I was intrigued with the name of this recipe when I saw it - Chorizo & Prawn Fideos.  I looked over the ingredient list - nothing strange and exotic here - so I did as any foodie would do - did a little "googling" and found out that fideos have been around for a very long time.  Fideos are a form of pasta that is eaten throughout the Mediterranean, and in particular Spain.   It is used in the making of "dry soups" and paella based dishes.  They are a long thin shape and similar to vermicelli.  In a "dry soup" they are browned, then liquid is added, the dish is then cooked until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, leaving you with a "dry soup"!  Interesting concept - is it sloppy pasta or a soup with little liquid???

I decided to change the recipe slightly so that I ended up with a paella based pasta dish.  It was really good, sometimes paella can be tricky, the rice can be over, or under cooked - but with the pasta - perfect results - and all the flavour of the rice based dish.  So here is my version of the recipe that I found.

Fideos with Chicken, Prawn and Chorizo

Serves 5-6

1 kg greens prawns (approx 24 prawns), peeled, leaving tails intact
2 chorizo sausages, halved lengthways, thickly sliced
4 chicken thighs, fat removed, cut into 2 cm strips
1 red onion, halved, thinly sliced
4 cloves crushed garlic
2 tsp sweet hungarian paprika
350g thin dried spaghetti, broken into thirds
1 cup passata (tomato pasta sauce)
4 cups (1 L) chicken stock
2 dried bay leaves
1 cup frozen peas

Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the chorizo and red onion.  Cook stirring for 3 minutes, then add the garlic, the peas and the chicken, continue cooking for approximately another 5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked.  

Add the paprika and the spaghetti, stir to coat.  Add the passata, the stock, and the bay leaves.  Simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente and the liquid is absorbed.

When the pasta is almost cooked - at around the 10 + minutes stage, heat a small frypan over medium high heat - add a little olive oil and cook the prawns quickly, until they change colour, and are cooked through.  Remove from the frypan.

When the pasta is cooked, add the prawns to the pasta, and stir through.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

The result - well I thought it was really good, with great flavour!  "The Darlings" didn't care for the chorizo too much - but they more than made up for it with the garlic bread - so they were happy.  This is a great entertaining meal - one big plate that everyone can share, add some garlic bread, a glass of wine and you have a feast!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dukkah Crusted Chicken with Quinoa Salad

I have been tempted to try Quinoa (pronounced "keen-wa") for quite some time.

When I was doing a nutrition course they talked about it quite a lot.  You see, it is one of those "ancient grains" - apparently known as the "gold of the Incas.  It a fabulous grain to add to your diet for many reasons.  The first and foremost is that it contains all nine essential amino acids that our body requires on a daily basis, this makes it a complete protein which means it is a great addition to the diet of people following a vegan diet.  Quinoa also contains manganese, and is a good source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus, which makes it very useful for people who suffer from migraines, diabetes and atherosclerosis (plaque build up in your arteries).  So why wouldn't you include it in your diet???

Now seemed as good a time as any to give this so called "wonder" grain a go.  So what is it like exactly?  Well I think it is like a cross between couscous (yes, I know couscous isn't a grain!!) and burghul.  Not as nutty and firm as burghul, but not quite as soft and fluffy as couscous.  I urge you to give it a try and see for yourself what you think.

I found this recipe in the current edition of Super Food Ideas.  It looked like a relatively easy, healthy meal, so I decided to give it a go.  I did make some modifications (as usual) to the recipe though - here is my version!

Dukkah Crusted Chicken with Quinoa Salad

Serves 5

1 cup quinoa, rinsed (oops I didn't!!)
2 medium carrots, peeled, diced
2 double chicken breasts, each halved horizontally
1 box (45g) Pistachio Dukkah
the juice of 1 orange
1/3 cup finely shopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely shredded mint
1 clove of crushed garlic
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 tsp olive oil

Place the quinoa in a saucepan, cover with 2 cups of cold water.  Bring to the boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low, and simmer covered for 10 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed, and the quinoa is tender.

Meanwhile, place a small amount of olive oil in a pan, add carrot, garlic and peas, and cook, stirring for approximately 5 minutes, or until just tender.  Transfer to a bowl.

Place the dukkah on a plate and press the chicken breasts into the mixture.  (Note: I actually probably only coated 5 of the chicken pieces with the dukkah - didn't think "the Darlings" would like it - the pack was just enough for the 5 pieces!)

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a frypan over medium high heat.  Cook the chicken until golden and cooked through.

Add the quinoa to the carrot mixture, then add the parsley, mint, orange juice and olive oil.  Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Mix well.

Serve the chicken with the salad, and I added a mix of different types of cherry tomatoes.

The result - yes, I will definitely try quinoa again - I really liked it. I think it will make a welcome addition to the salad table in the coming months!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken

I recently read an article that Matt Preston wrote talking about flawed recipes.   I was surprised that they openly admit that some of the recipes that are printed in recipes books are wrong, he says flawed - but let's call a spade a spade and call it as it is - the recipes are wrong!!  Finally I feel better, perhaps it's not me, perhaps there is actually something that hasn't been transcribed as it should be.

The case in point was last night's recipe - I read the whole recipe - even the tip at the bottom.  The only thing I did was double the amount of meat - really, 600g of chicken for 5 people - 4 of them growing boys!!  So I bought 2 double breasts - which gave me approximately 1.2kg of meat.  So one would tend to believe that if you have double the meat, then double the sauce ingredients - right??  Well that's what I did.  The flavour was good - but it was too runny.  Perhaps I failed in the "tip" section?

 The "Tip" said - and I quote ** "It's important to cook the caramel until it is a deep amber colour.  If it's removed from the heat too soon, it will be runny and won't coat the chicken well."

Well I thought I left it there long enough - any longer and I could see me having a pan full of burnt toffee!!  Dear Readers I will leave it up to you - do try this as it is easy, and the flavours are great (even if the sauce is a little runny). You never know you may get perfect results!!

I will give you the recipe exactly as it is written in the current issue of Good Food

Traditional Caramel Chicken

Serves 4

2tbs fish sauce
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
600g chicken breast fillet, cut into 2.5cm pieces
200g snow peas, trimmed, halved diagonally
1 red onion, cut into wedges
1 birdseye chilli, sliced, to serve
3 cups steamed rice (from 1 cup raw), to serve

Mix the fish sauce and 1/2 cup of water in a bowl.

Place sugar and 1/3 cup water in a frying pan on medium heat.  Cook, swirling occasionally, until sugar dissolves.  Bring to the boil and cook, swirling occasionally, for 5-8 minutes, until a deep amber colour (remember the tip!! **).  Remove from the heat.  Slowly add fish sauce mixture.  Swirl pan to combine.

Add garlic and chicken.  Season well with freshly ground black pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes, until the chicken is almost cooked through.  Add the snow peas and onion and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thickens.

Serve with rice and sliced chilli.

You may notice in the picture small little flecks of brown stuff - I didn't use sliced garlic - just the crushed stuff from the bottle - hence the flecks!!

I am sorry to say Dear Readers that there may not be many baking recipes coming forth from here for a while.  My oven is out of action.  Has anyone ever had the glass come away from their oven door?  Well mine did!  So now it's off to the workshop - I have the carcass of the oven - but no door!  They tell me it could take 2 weeks or more to get it back!!!  What is a girl to do?  It's like having your right (or left for me) arm amputated!!  Luckily I got that pork belly cooked the other night!!!!  I will now have to rethink the menu for the rest of the week and plan accordingly.  Perhaps the oven just wanted a break - its has been working hard lately!!  I guess we can all sympathise with that can't we??

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Slow Roasted Pork Belly and Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble

Don't you just love pork belly?  It seems that now matter how you cook it, it is always good.  The males in this house start drooling as soon as I even say the word pork belly!!

I found a recipe in August's Good Food Magazine - it looked really easy - just took a little bit of prep and a lot of cooking.  Now this is definitely a weekend dish - you need to rub the spices into the skin and leave it for several hours, plus it takes around 3 hours in the oven - so it's not a dish you can whip up on quickly a weeknight!!

Slow Roasted Pork Belly

Serves 6

1 tsp cumin seeds
3 star anise
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 1/2 tbs sea salt
1.5kg piece pork belly, skin on, scored
12 eschalots, peeled
12 cloves garlic, whole

Coarsely grind the cumin seeds, star anise, fennel seeds and the salt in a mortar and pestle.  Rub the spice mixture into the skin of the pork.  If possible do this several hours ahead of time - leave in the fridge.  This helps draw out excess moisture and produces a really crisp crackling.

When you are ready to bake.  Preheat the oven to 140C (fan).  Place the pork, skin side down in a heavy based roasting pan.  Roast for 2 hours.  

After the 2 hours, increase the oven temperature to 220C (fan).  Turn the pork over so that the skin is facing up.   Add the eschalots and garlic to the roasting pan.  Roast, basting regularly with the pan juices for another 30 minutes, or until the skin is lovely and crispy. **

Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes.

While the meat is resting make the gravy.


1/3 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock

To make the gravy, heat the baking dish over medium heat.  Add the white wine, scraping the sediment from the bottom of the pan.  Simmer until reduced by two thirds.  Crush the eschalots and garlic and pour in the chicken stock.  Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes, or until reduced by half.

** At this time if you are making roast potatoes add them to the oven.  Roasted Kipfler potatoes are really good.  Kipfler potatoes are lovely golden fleshed, waxy potatoes.  Simply peel, toss in a little olive oil and crushed garlic, then roast for 30 minutes.  

Another good addition is some baked apples.  Peel and core 3 granny smith apples, make 3 individual squares of foil place an apple in each square.  To the apple add several knobs of butter, and 1 dessertspoon of brown sugar and a small handful of sultanas.  Wrap tightly and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Now after this lovely roast dinner you just have to have dessert right?  What could be better than a Rhubarb Crumble??

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble

Serves 6

1 bunch of rhubarb, leaves removed, cut into small segments
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 punnet of strawberries, hulled and cut in half
2tbs caster sugar, extra


150g butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1/3 brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon

Place the rhubarb pieces in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle over the sugar and leave for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C (fan).  Cover the rhubarb and bake for 20 minutes, or until he rhubarb starts to soften slightly.  Add the strawberries and extra caster sugar, mix well and bake for a further 10 minutes.

While the rhubarb and strawberries are cooking make the crumble mixture.

Add all crumble ingredients to a bowl.  Using your fingertips gently rub the butter between the tips of your thumbs and fingers, so that the butter flattens and combines with the flour.  While rubbing, lift your fingers above the bowl to allow air to cool the butter.  Make sure you work quickly to prevent the butter from melting too much.

Place the crumble mixture on top of the cooked fruit.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until the crumble is lovely and golden.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Baking the rhubarb as opposed to stewing it results in a lovely rich rhubarb flavour.

ps - I think I am going to have to sack my food stylists - they didn't style this dish too well did they???

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Seafood Platter

Last night we had a veritable feast!  I decided that we would have a seafood platter.  I have been wanting to try out the Ginger Chilli Shallot sauce that Peter Kuruvita made on MasterChef for a while, so I decided to incorporate it into a platter.  This was to be a seafood platter with a twist though - nothing fried!

So how did I do it?  Well we certainly had crumbed fish and calamari - but I baked it all!!

First of all a trip to my local fish shop was in order.  Here I was given a biology lesson - shown the difference between female and male blue swimmer crabs, and told that the females have the better flavour!!  You need to look on the underside.  The females have a rounded section, and the males a triangular section.  Thanks Irene!  I had them cut the crab into 4 pieces for me.

Irene also advised me to get the sashimi grade of calamari as it was so tender that it needed very little, if any cooking.  The only problem here was that I had the clean it myself!!

It wasn't that hard, just a little messy.  First pull the head and tentacles from the main body.  Cut the tentacles from the head, just below the eyes.  You can eat the tentacles! At the top of the main body (inside) there is a hard clear long piece of cartilage, gently pull from the body.  Wash out the tube, make sure you have all the "innards" out.   If the squid has a spotted membrane type skin, pull it off.  Dry well with paper towels.

Cut into either strips, or rings.

Enough of that - onto the recipes!

The Calamari I cut into strips and crumbed it with panko crumbs.  Panko crumbs are available at Asian Grocery stores.  The beauty of these crumbs is that they are already quite crunchy so they need little cooking.  I crumbed the usual way, seasoned flour, egg wash, then the panko crumbs.

Lay the crumbed calamari onto a baking tray that that been lined with baking paper and sprayed with garlic olive oil spray.  Spray the crumbed calamari with the garlic spray.

The fish I used was Basa (a type of cod) but any firm fish will do.  I cut it into finger shaped pieces and crumbed it in a mixture of the panko crumbs and crushed cornflakes.  Crumbed and sprayed as above.

The fish I cooked at 220C for 10-15 minutes, or until golden.  The calamari was 5-10 minutes.

To accompany the fish and calamari I made the following Tartare Sauce.

Tartare Sauce

1/2 cup whole egg mayonnaise (I used Praise Whole Egg, Light Mayonnaise)
2 tbs greek style yoghurt
1 tbs capers, rinsed, finely chopped
4 cornichons, finely chopped (baby cucumbers)
1 tsp finely chopped dill
1 tsp finely chopped chives

Combine all ingredients in a bowl - season to taste with salt and pepper.

Now onto the piece de resistance!!

Ginger Chilli Shallot Sauce

3 long red chillis, tops removed, cut in half
3 cloves garlic
3 knobs of ginger, skin removed, roughly chopped (a knob is the size of your thumb)
bunch of coriander, including roots, washed, roughly chopped
2 shallots (green onions) roughly chopped
300ml light soy sauce
300ml mirin
250ml sweet chilli sauce
125ml white wine
100ml sesame oil

Place all the ingredients in a food processor, process until all ingredients are finely chopped.

This sauce will keep for 3-6 weeks in the fridge.

I used this sauce with green prawns and the blue swimmer crab.  It is also good with chicken.

I put the crab pieces in a large frypan and poured over a liberal amount of the sauce.  Put the lid on the frypan and let simmer for approximately 2 minutes, or until the crab starts to change colour.  I then added my peeled green prawns and cooked for a further 2 minutes, or until the prawns changed colour.  Serve immediately!

What a feast!  So how's that for a healthy seafood platter??  What about the fries?  Well we had oven fries - the kind with the beer batter are the crunchiest!!!

Four Ingredient Pasta

Sometimes you have to produce a meal out of nowhere.  You may have planned something, but the circumstances change and you are left wondering what you can now have.

The other day Mr. CCC took me out to lunch - we had my favourite - Bibimbap!!  Needless to say afterwards we didn't feel like too much for dinner.  So the dukkah crusted chicken with quinoa salad was put on the back burner, and something quick and easy was needed for "the Darlings".

If you have three basic ingredients on hand, you are well on the way to making a dinner that even the fussiest of kids will love.

So what is the fourth ingredient?  You can add whatever meat you have on hand - ham, a BBQ chook, or even tuna!!

Four Ingredient Pasta

Serves 6

500g macaroni
415g can tomato soup
1 x BBQ chicken, meat removed from the bones 
150g grated cheese

Preheat oven to 180 C.

Cook macaroni in boiling salted water, according to packet directions.  Drain.  Add the can of tomato soup, and chicken meat.  Mix well to combine all ingredients.  Place pasta mixture in a greased casserole dish.  Sprinkle grated cheese on top.  Bake in oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden.

How easy was that???  How cheap was it to make?  With the pasta at around 59c and the soup less than $1  I say it has got to be one of the cheapest meals ever!!!  The kids love it - I think because the tomato soup is a little sweet, as opposed to regular pasta sauce.  Whatever the reason, all the people that I have told about this recipe say their kids love it too!!

Keep these basic ingredients on hand and you will never be at a loss for a meal again!!!