17 January 2018

Tataki beef salad with ponzu

Salads, they're a staple of summer.  Hot days, light foods.  And BBQ, another summer staple.  So when the two get together we're talking serious summer chemistry.  Chicken caesar salad is definitely a popular go-to in the warm meat salad category.  But personally I prefer a warm beef salad.

Tataki is a type of cooking where the meat/fish is more or less just seared, then sliced up.  So essentially it's close to a sashimi salad - the meat is not cooked through (you can cook your meat more, if you prefer, but if you like rare meat, this will be right up your alley!).  

As a dish, it was sort of like eating deconstructed sushi, which I loved!  I'm not normally a fan of brown rice, but with some ponzu dressing (or just good ol' soy sauce), it was awesome.  

1 cup brown rice
1 tsp oil (I used sesame)
2 cups water

300 g beef rump steak
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar 
1/2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp sweet chili sauce
1/2 tsp oil (I used sesame) 

10 cm cucumber, halved and sliced
1/2 capsicum, finely sliced
2 radishes, finely sliced
50 g mesclun lettuce (or chopped up cos)

ponzu dressing, to drizzle *

Serves 2-3

  1. Boil water in kettle.  Put rice and oil in saucepan (one with a lid) and stir to coat.  Once water boils add to rice and stir.  Keep stirring until water level has reduced almost to the level of the rice.  Turn element to low, cover saucepan with a paper towel and firmly put lid on.  Leave simmering for 20 minutes then turn off.  Keep covered until you're ready to eat (this will stay hot for another good 20 minutes.  
  2. Place beef into bowl with mariniade ingredients (I like to do this earlier in the day, so the flavours have plenty of time to meld - if you do this, cover and pop into the fridge).  
  3. Prepare salad.  
  4. Heat pan for beef (or BBQ plate).  Sear and cook for about 2 minutes on each side.  Remove and rest for 5 minutes.  Slice against the grain and serve alongside rice and atop salad.  Drizzle the whole with ponzu * (you can make this yourself, or you could just use a little soy mixed with a dash of lemon/lime and brown sugar).  

19 December 2017

Send your salad to the Med

I've recently been given a copy of Chelsea Winter's new cookbook 'Eat'.  It is full of great recipes - most of them easy to make, and easy to tweak (to suit more simple tastes, or tarted up for an occasion).  Adaptability, my cup of tea.  

It's the festive season which, in the Antipodes, means BBQs and pre-Christmas gatherings.  We were invited to a pre-Christmas dinner over the weekend, for which we were asked to bring a salad.  I have a couple of good go-to salads (this kumara one is a goodie!!), but felt like I needed to try something new.  This Mediterranean-inspired one was perfect - light, but filling, and extremely tasty (even more so the next day!).  I changed a few things, to suit what I had in the fridge, and that's the beauty of a salad.  

Happy summer, buon appetito!!  

400 g cherry tomatoes (just shy of two little punnets)
1 bulb garlic, not peeled or separated
2 tsp dry oregano 
olive oil
1/2 cup pinenuts, toasted 
1 cup bulghur wheat (or quinoa would work well)
1/2 red onion, finely chopped 
1 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (I used basil, mint, thyme and chives)
150 g feta, in small chunks (I used a basil reduced salt one, but up to you)
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthways and sliced
1 capsicum, chopped into 1 cm pieces 
NB: Chelsea used olives rather than zucchini and capsicum - up to your tastes

3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dry dill (I used tarragon) 
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
  1. Heat oven to 180 fan-bake.  Put garlic bulb on roasting try and drizzle with oil and sprinkle with dried oregano.  I kept the cherry tomatoes raw, but you could roast them too, if you liked (drizzle and sprinkle them too, plus a little sugar).  Either way, slice them up (halves for roasting, quarters for raw).  Toast for about 30 minutes.   
  2. Toast pine nuts in a dry pan.  They take a while to get going, but keep them moving 'cause once they start to toast they will burn really quickly.  I like to do a large batch and keep the excess in a jar once they're cooled down (save having to do the toasting each time you want to use toasted pine nuts).  
  3. Put bulghur and zucchini into a large glass or ceramic bowl and cover with about 3 cups of water.  Stir then leave for a good ten-fifteen minutes to soak.  When it's ready the wheat should be a little soft but with a nice firm bite to it (not soggy).  Pour into a sieve to drain.  
  4. Put all dressing ingredients into a glass jug, or a medium bowl.  Cut base off the roasted garlic bulb and squeeze garlic cloves into the dressing mix (they'll be soft).  Mash up and stir to combine.  
  5. Combine everything together in a large serving bowl.  Drizzle with dressing and top with feta.  

23 November 2017

Lemongrass + ginger BBQ chicken

This tasty marinated chicken is (a slight adaptation) from Chelsea Winter's latest book, Eat.  Yum!!  Would work as kebabs, or chopped smaller for in tacos...  

500 g chicken breast (or thigh)
4 stalks lemongrass (hard end removed), bashed and finely chopped
good dash oil (I used sesame) 
2-3 tbsp finely grated ginger root
1 clove grated/minced garlic
1 tbsp fish sauce 
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 cup fresh coriander
zest + juice of 1 lime
1-2 makrut (kaffir) lime leaves (stem removed), finely chopped
ground black pepper
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce 

Serves 4

  1. Cut chicken into chunks (either bite-sized, or slightly larger).  Place in bowl with all other ingredients.  Marinate for a few hours (or overnight, if you're onto it enough to have your dinner planned the day before!).  
  2. Cook on hot BBQ or in hot pan (probably need to do this in batches).  
  3. Serve with salad (we had roast kumara/green salad, and asparagus).  

16 November 2017

katsu round 2

Does anyone else remember The Samurai Pizza Cats?  Talking about katsu makes me think of that show.  Anyway... 

Crumbed food is good.  I mean, who doesn't enjoy a piece of crumbed fish or chicken?  And especially with panko crumbs - the crumb is always so light and crunchy.  Last week I made tori katsu and used it for burgers (which, by the way, were AWESOME!).  So, this week we decided to break out the crumb again - using the same katsu sauce as last week (in fact, it was what was leftover in the fridge - a batch will keep for a few weeks in a jar in the fridge.  Handy!).  

This time however we served our crumbed chicken with brown rice, a spring salad (included blanched asparagus and plenty of fresh mint) and a little extra katsu sauce on the side.  The other differences - a) I added seeds to the crumb (poppy and sesame); and b) rather than dredging the chicken in flour and egg before crumbing, I just marinated it in the katsu sauce and then, when ready to cook, crumbed.  Yum!!  

14 November 2017

Chipotle chicken skewers with spring couscous salad

This was a really tasty (and quick and easy) chicken dish.  I loved the veges in the couscous salad too - still a little bit crunchy, which is perfect (I like my veges a little less- then more-cooked).  The Culley's Chipotle Sauce which I used was medium-spicy - kind of like a mixture of BBQ sauce and tobasco.  Really yum!!  But if you prefer your dishes to be a little less spicy then sub the chipotle sauce for a smokey BBQ sauce (Whitlocks is a good one), maybe with a little paprika powder mixed in.  

300 g chicken (thigh or breast) 
1-2 tbsp chipotle sauce
1/4 tsp salt
6 bamboo skewers (optional - you could just panfry the bite-sized chunks of marinated chicken without kebabing them) 

1 zucchini, quartered, chopped into 1 cm pieces 
6 spears asparagus, woody ends removed and cut into 2 cm morsels 
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup stock (I used chicken) 
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup couscous
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
2 tbsp fresh herbs (I used basil, mint and parsley), chopped up
50 g feta cheese

75 g natural unsweetened yoghurt
1-2 tsp chipotle sauce
  1. Soak skewers in water for 10 minutes, if using them.  
  2. Cut chicken into bite-sized chunks and marinate in chipotle and salt.  Thread onto skewers (or just leave in marinade bowl, if not skewering).  Cover and place in the fridge until you need it.  
  3. Put zucchini and asparagus in a large bowl.  Cover with boiling water and leave for a few minutes to cook.  I drained the water after about 5 minutes and poured over a fresh lot - they're done when the asparagus is bright green and the veges tender, but firm.  
  4. Bring stock and salt to the boil.  Remove from heat, stir in couscous and cover.  Leave covered for 5 minutes, to allow the couscous to cook.  
  5. Heat frypan to cook chicken.  Cook until cooked through (no surprises there!) and starting to brown/blacken on the outside.  
  6. Mix couscous with the drained greens, add in lemon juice and zest, herbs, tomatoes and feta. 
  7. Serve with chipotle yoghurt, if desired.   

09 November 2017

Tori katsu burgers

 I've come across chicken katsu before - in recipes and in Japanese restaurants.  I always thought it was a special way of cooking/crumbing the chicken.  So yesterday, trawling through some recipe sites (looking for some mid-week inspiration!), I came across chicken katsu burgers and I thought - "YES!  That will do admirably!".  And so I discovered that katsu is both the crumbed chicken (torikatsu) AND the sauce served with the chicken (tonkatsu sauce).  Ah ha!!  

So, it's basically a BBQ-style tomato-based sauce.  It was really easy to make and keeps well in the fridge for some time.  The batch I made was enough for drizzling over 5 torikatsu burgers, with enough leftover for probably another 5 burgers.  We reckon this sauce would also be fantastic with roasted pork, or even good ol' steak and chips.  Maybe with salmon?  Give it a try and see what you think...

1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp finely grated ginger (I used a microplane for this and the garlic)
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely grated
1/4 tsp ground allspice (I was out of this so used mixed spice)
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan.  Stir over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes, until thickening.  Set aside until you need it (can be used cold or heated back through).   
For the burgers themselves I used mezzo breads from Volare (local specialty baker), but whatever burger buns you fancy will do (the photo with the black brioches was from Nadia Lim's MyFoodBag - I forgot to take a decent photo of our burgers before we got hungry and ate them!!).  I liked the fact that the mezzo were light and quite slim.  A bulky bun with crumbed anything can be a bit too much sometimes.  But up to you.  And toasted buns - yes please for me, but again - up to the individual.  

The tori katsu - I cut into 2cm chunks and marinated 500 g of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (trimmed of fat and chewy sinewy bits).  The marinade was just a couple of tbsp each of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar, with a couple tbsp grated fresh ginger.  When ready to cook, shake piece of chicken off, dredge in flour, then egg, then panko crumbs, and cook in pan of hot melted butter.  

Build your burgers by smearing some good thick mayo on one half of the bun, pile with coleslaw (ours had grated carrot, red cabbage, beetroot, chopped spinach, spring onions and red onion) and tori katsu, then drizzle with the katsu sauce and top with remaining half of bun.  Yum!!  Sounds labour intensive, but it really wasn't - get the sauce done earlier, and you can even buy some coleslaw from the deli, if time is short.  

29 September 2017

Next level burgers

Burgers are awesome.  I'm a big fan, especially of a good ol' homemade hamburger with beetroot, cheese and BBQ sauce.  Or a crumbed fish burger, yum!  There are 4 things that make, or break, a burger - tasty homemade patties (or fish, chicken, falafel) - plenty of herbs/spices, yum; good buns; fresh salad; and the sauce.  Oh, the sauce.  It's key.  

Chelsea Winter has just released her latest cookbook - Eat.  It has a recipe for Crunchy Buffalo Chicken Burgers with a Blue Cheese Sauce, which I am keen as to make.  They sound amazing!  In the meantime however, I thought I'd share a couple of her other burger sauces which will just take your burger experience to the next level of amazingness!  

Secret sauce for best-ever cheeseburger

3/4 cup mayo (Best Foods or Pams American are good)
2 tbsp onion, finely chopped
3 gherkins, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper, to taste

Avocado-basil mayo, for sublime chicken burgers (ooh, with bacon!)

1/2 cup mayo (as above)
1 ripe avocado, mashed
2 handfuls fresh basil leaves, torn up
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste