15 June 2017

Risotto takes a holiday

Risotto lives in Italy, but sometimes likes to take a holiday.  Sometimes he heads to Spain and calls himself Paella (the Costa del Sol is a favourite spot).  A few years back he took a trip to Mexico, where the locals nicknamed him Chimichanga.  He's even done the odd world cruise, under the moniker Pilaf.  But this time Risotto decided to take a trip somewhere new, somewhere exotic.  India, where he called himself Biryani.  

Biryani, a word of Persian origin, is a mixed rice dish which was developed by Muslims living on the Indian subcontinent during medieval times.  Nowadays you'll find variations of biryani as a part of cuisines throughout the Arab world and South-East Asia (as well as India, of course!).  This recipe is derived from Annabel Langbein's collaborative website 'We Are What We Eat' and it was tasty!  The smell as well, as it cooked, was heavenly!  

1 cup plain, unsweetened yoghurt (I used Gopala full cream, delish!!)
2 tsp curry powder
1 lemon - finely grated zest AND juice
1/2 cup (or a little more) chopped coriander
1 tsp each salt and pepper
500 g skinless, boneless chicken thighs, chopped into 2 cm chunks

1.5 cups basmati rice 
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 tbsp ginger, finely grated
2 tsp ground turmeric
salt and pepper

1 tbsp butter
1 cup frozen peas
2.5 cups chicken stock

extra coriander, sliced almonds - to serve
  1. Mix together all marinade ingredients, stir chicken through and put in fridge (covered) for an hour or so (half an hour will be fine too, but I prefer to prep earlier in the day, so mine sat in the fridge for about 5 hours).  
  2. Rinse rice in sieve (I think this is to rinse off some of the starch?).  Mix rinsed rice with garlic, ginger, turmeric, salty and pepper.  
  3. Melt butter in large frypan or pot.  When sizzling layer half the rice mixture, peas, chicken + marinade, followed by the remaining rice.  
  4. Pour over stock and bring to the boil.  Once boiling cover and reduce heat to low for 20 minutes.  
  5. If liquid not reduced after 20 minutes, remove cover and increase heat - let it burble away until reduced to a risottoy-looking meal.  
  6. Serve with coriander and almonds, and a little extra yoghurt, if you like.  
NB: Photo credit must go to Annabel Langbein's food photographer - I forgot to take one! 

14 June 2017

When the moon hits your eye, like a big shepherd's pie, it's amore...

Monday night.  Hunger is high.  Desire to do cook is low.  Who you gonna call?  Mince (busters).  Mince to the rescue!  

Monday afternoon, to be precise.  I decided to make a large pot of bolognese mince, figuring we could do any number of things with it when it came to dinnertime, with relatively little effort (as by dinnertime Mondayitis has usually set in).  We could have spaghetti bolognese, make a lasagna, eat with rice (or nachos!!), make a shepherd's pie...  

That's when it hit me - we had some hash browns in the freezer too.  Easiest meal EVER for the kids (and we actually made one for us too) - upside-down shepherd's pie, with a sour creamy cheesy top.  

The key to the mince is to secret as many veges as you can into it - this batch had the usual onion, tomato and garlic, but also grated carrot, grated beetroot, finely chopped celery and some diced mushrooms.  Throw a later of peas in when making up the pie and you've got a vegeful meal for little ones and big ones alike.  

  1. Make batch of mince (about 500 g mince will do, bulked up with whatever vege you like.  I like to cook ours with a combo of tomatoes (frozen from summer, or a tin), chicken stock (a good cup), worcestershire and BBQ sauces and tomato paste.  
  2. Place a layer of frozen hash browns on bottom of dish you're going to use (a lasagna dish works well).  Scatter a later of peas over this, followed by a good layer of mince.  
  3. Mix together grated cheese and sour cream.  Spread this over mince.  Scatter with a little more grated cheese (to fill any gaps).  Sprinkle with seeds (I used chia and sunflower).  
  4. Bake for about 30 mins (or until golden and bubbling) in oven at 180 degrees celcius (160 fan-forced).  
NB: Finely chopped broccoli would also work really well in this - just scatter along with the frozen peas.  

30 May 2017

smokey pumpkin zuppa zuppa

Pumpkin soup is awesome.  Soup, in general, is awesome - pea and ham, vege, chicken, chicken noodle, chicken and corn, minestrone, leek and potato (oh yum, one of my all time favs, especially with some bacon in it!!), chicken-peanut-blackbean (now that's got to be an upcoming post, it's amazing)...  But pumpkin soup is a personal fav - my grandma, Fran, would make it every time we went there for lunch.  Or dinner.  Sometimes for afternoon tea...  For years it was her thing - there was always some freshly-made pumpkin soup and toast in the offing.  Now, ordinarily I like to make a fairly traditional pumpkin soup as my base, and then add some curry paste (usually green, or laksa) and coconut cream.  Yum!  However, I've been on a bit of a paprika kick lately, so when I saw an Annabel Langbein recipe for a smokey pumpkin soup I thought I'd give it a go (with a few amendments, to suit what I had in the kitchen).  Buon appetito!!  

1.5 kg pumpkin/kumara (I about 1.2 pumpkin and two medium orange kumara)
1 - 2 onions
12 button mushrooms (they were desperate to be eaten!!)
olive oil
1 tbsp each paprika, ground cumin, fennel seeds
1.5 L chicken stock (this made for quite a thin soup, so perhaps 1 L if you want it thicker)
2 tbsp harissa (I like Julie Le Clerc's for Sabato - can buy this is kitchen stores, some supys)
salt and pepper, to taste  
  1. Cut pumpkin and kumara into chunks.  Cut onions in half and remove paper.  remove ends of mushroom stems.  Place all on roasting tray, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with spices.  Roast for about 40 minutes at 200 degrees celcius (until cooked through and starting to go golden).  
  2. Put veges and stock in large stock pot.  Heat through gently.  Add harissa and salt and pepper.  Blitz with wand, or in food processor.  Heat again until hot enough to eat.  
  3. Serve with dinner rolls, toast with butter, little garlic breads...or refried leftover yorkshire puddings (oh yeah!!!!).   

11 May 2017

Bang bang!!

Satay would be one of my favourite flavours.  Love it with skewered kebabs, as a pizza base sauce, as a curry sauce, on a burger...  The list probably would go on indefinitely.  If it's savoury and can have sauce with it, it'll probably taste awesome with some satay.  However, one more or less key ingredient of the traditional satay are peanuts.  All well and good, unless you're allergic to peanuts.  My stepson is one such, no peanut butter for him.  Luckily for Harry tho, we live in a world today of seemingly endless flavours, products and semi-traditional fusions.  Enter cashew butter (or try almond butter, or hazlenut, walnut...).  We wanted to try a recipe for bang bang chicken (a popular street-food dish in China, apparantly so-named for the manner in which the meat is tenderised, using a stick or hammer to hit/bang it), so decided to give it a go with cashew butter.  It worked, the satay had a fantastic flavour.  This was such a good mid-week dish 'cause it didn't take long to make.  And in fact, I poached the chicken earlier in the day, so there was even one step less.  So, if you enjoy satay, this is for you!!  

Serves 3 

1 cup jasmine rice
1.5 cups water (boiling)
1 tsp sesame oil 
 
300 g chicken breasts
1.5 cups cold water
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp finely grated ginger (I used microplane)
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp nut butter (peanut, cashew, whatever)
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup water

2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted (on low, slow but steady, in a dry pan)
iceberg lettuce/bok choi/spinach, shredded
1/2 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1/2 small cucumber, cut into sticks 
50 g mung bean sprouts
  1. Put chicken into pot with cold water, soy and sesame oil (as grouped above).  Cover with a lid and bring to a gentle boil on medium heat.  Once boiling, turn off the heat and leave, still covered, for 15 minutes.  After that remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool (once cool, shred it!).  Save the liquid, as you'll almost certainly need more than 1/4 cup liquid for the satay sauce.  
  2. Combine rice and oil in pot and place on high heat.  Add boiling water and stir well.  Once water level is more or less the same as the rice, reduce heat to low, cover pot with a paper towel and snug-fitting lid.  Leave for 20 minutes, then remove from heat.  Do not take the lid off until you are ready to serve (the rice will keep nice and warm for at least another 20 minutes after you remove from heat).  
  3. Combine all satay ingredients in a pot.  Keep mixing them until you have a nice, smooth sauce.  I like my sauces to be fairly runny, so I added about another 1/2 cup of liquid from my chicken poaching.  
  4. To serve - you can serve the chicken, the rice, and the veges up on separate platters and people can help themselves (remember the sesame seeds!!), or as we did, in individual bowls.  I did rice, veges, chicken, sauce, seeds and sprouts.  Delicious!!!!


04 May 2017

Sayadiah (Arabian fish with rice)

Yesterday we decided that fish was on the menu for dinner.  So then I got to thinking, well what will we have with it?  Chips and salad is always a good go to.  But yesterday I just didn't fancy it.  I felt like a curry, but not a thai-style curry, with lots of sauce.  I felt like rice.  So, I turned to Dr Google and gave it 'fish + rice + harissa' (we had a fresh jar of Sabato harissa in the fridge), and a number of links came up for various middle-eastern/north African dishes.  This one, on a blog called The Spice Adventuress, was for a dish (typical to coastal Yemen) called Sayadiah - fish with rice.  Perfect!  We made a few alterations to the Spice Adventuress' dish - fennel seeds in place of cardamom, added shredded spinach leaves and toasted sliced almonds to the rice, doubled the tomatoes used - but wow, what a fantastically flavoured dish.  I wasn't too sure how it was going to turn out, but it ended being an incredibly moreish plate, which we both looked forward to for lunch the following day.  Besseha!!

Serves 4 

400 g firm white fish (I used 4 fillets of gurnard, so would use probably 2 large tarakihi or snapper)
2 tbsp harissa paste (it's straight-forward to make your own, of buy a good-qual one like above)
salt 
butter - 3 lots, one for fish, one for sauce, one for rice
1 red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic (or 1 large clove), finely diced
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 chili, chopped (hot or not, up to you)
4 tomatoes, skin removed and chopped (or we used 2 tomatoes and a couple handfuls cherry toms) 
1 zucchini, chopped into small pieces (optional, depending on season)
1 cup long-grain rice (basmati or jasmine)
2 cups boiling water
paper towel
handful spinach leave, shredded (or baby leaves)
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
  1. Cut fish into bite-sized pieces.  Coat with harissa and stir through some salt.  Cover and place in the fridge for at least an hour, to marinate.  
  2. Saute onion, garlic, ginger and fennel in some melted butter.  Add other spices to pan and stir before adding in the tomatoes and zucchini.  Let whole lot burble away until liquid is reduced.  We did not reduce it down completely, but left some liquid in the sauce, as we prefer a runnier sauce with rice.  Up to you though.  Set aside.  
  3. Melt butter in pot you'll use for rice.  Coat rice in melted butter and stir through some salt and pepper.  With element on high, add boiling water and stir.  Continue to stir until water has reduced down as far as the level of the rice.  Once the water and rice are at same level in the pot, reduce heat to low, place paper towel over pot and put pot lid on.  Leave for 20 minutes then remove from heat.  This rice can sit for a good 20 minutes with the lid on, without needing reheating or anything.  Stir through the spinach and almond just prior to serving.  
  4. Return sauce to low heat, to warm back through (depending on whether you've cooked the sauce at same time as the rice, or done that step earlier in the day, as I did).  
  5. Fry fish in butter.  
  6. Serve fish on sauce on rice, sprinkled with coriander.  



20 April 2017

Chili, with a twist

Vegetarian chili.  It's been done before, heaps and heaps.  Even I've made a vegetarian chili, using lots of black and kidney beans.  But this one was something really different - kumara, black bean and quinoa.  So it was super-filling, really hearty and was great alongside some snapper last night AND after a run this morning.  And KB had for lunch today (yep, it was a winner with the man of the house too).  Versatile meal - good for brekky, lunch and dinner!!  I'll definitely be making this one through winter.  In fact, might even make up a batch to take away for the long weekend...  

1 red onion, finely diced
1/2 capsicum (or 1 whole long skinny capsicum), finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced (I actually grated the ginger and garlic with a microplane)
400-500 g orange 
2 tbsp chili spice mix (I used Simon Gault's Mexican)  
2 zucchini, cut in half lengthways and then sliced 1 cm on angle
salt and pepper
1/4 cup white quinoa
400 g tin tomatoes
400 g tine black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups stock (I used chicken, but vege stock if you're making this for a vegetarian)
sour cream, to serve
  1. Fry onion, capsicum, garlic and ginger in butter for a few minutes, until softened. 
  2. Add all other ingredients (except the sour cream) and cook on low-medium heat until kumara and quinoa are cooked and liquid reduced.  We cooked ours for about 25 minutes, the kumara was cooked but still firm, which was really nice.  
  3. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, alongside some fish or on its own as a very tasty, filling, healthy meal.  

11 April 2017

Spanish harlem

I love Spanish food.  The spices, the fresh vegetables, and the versatility - you could swap out chicken for prawns, zucchini and capsicum for broccoli and frozen corn kernels - whatever's to hand really.  This was a very warming casserole, perfect for a cooler autumn evening with a red wine :) 

This will serve 3-4 people.  

1 large tomato, roughly chopped
1/2 capsicum, diced 2 cm
300 g chicken thighs 
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp each smoked paprika, sweet paprika, ground coriander and thyme/sage
salt + pepper 
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 zucchini, diced 
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce 
2 spring onions, sliced
25 g pine nuts, toasted
400 g potatoes (+ milk and butter, if you mash 'em like ours)  
  1. Chop up potatoes into bite-sized pieces and either put in oven to roast, or in boiling water to cook for mashing.  
  2. Heat large fry pan with butter and cook chicken for about 4 minutes, turning to brown all over.  Add onion, spices and cook for further minute. 
  3. Reduce heat to low-medium, add stock, tomato and capsicum.  Simmer for about 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through and sauce reduced slightly.  
  4. Add zucchini and Worcestershire.  Mash spud.  Serve with spring onions and pinenuts.