03 August 2017

K-lime glaze

Highly fragrant, a little sweet and sticky, and the perfect glaze for salmon, prawns, chicken kebabs... 

6 makrut (K-lime) leaves, central stem removed, finely chopped
2 tbsp coconut sugar, or brown sugar
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
2 tsp hot sauce (I used some harissa as had no hot sauce)
1 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (or white)
1 tsp sesame oil 
1/2 cup water
  1. Combine all ingredients in small saucepan.  Bring to boil, stirring.  Simmer for 2-3 minutes until starting to thicken slightly.  Makes about 1 cup.  
NB: From Nadia Lim's 'Dinnertime Goodness'.  

cheesy, with a chance of meatballs

These meatballs were taaaaassssty!!  They were a perfect hearty meal for everyone from us adults right down to Miss 2, and the boys in between.  This recipe made a truckload of food (I reckon we could have easily fed 6-7 adults, so froze half of it for an easy meal another night.  Mr 4 really enjoyed helping to make and mix the meatball mixture too, so a good one for kids in the kitchen.  

500 g beef mince 
2 tbsp paprika/ground cumin/ground coriander etc - (I used a Louisiana Creole spice mix with those spices, plus onion and garlic)
1/2 tsp salt 
2 eggs 
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs 
1 tbsp tomato sauce 
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
grated cheese, to top

1 onion, finely diced 
1 tbsp spice mix used in meatballs 
1 tsp salt 
70 g tomato paste 
2 stalks celery, finely chopped 
1 cup green veges, finely chopped (we used some broccoli and bok choy)
1/2 cup red wine (or stock)
1/2 cup stock (beef, chicken, vege...) 
1 tomato, diced (I used a couple tbsp of relish instead)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 

rice, to serve
  1. Mix all meatball ingredients together, except cheese.  Set aside until needed (Mr 4 and I made these in the morning, covered the bowl and put them in the fridge for the day). 
  2. When ready to get dinner going: roll meatballs and fry in large pan (one that can go under the grill, if possible) until browned all over but not cooked through.  Remove from pan and set aside. 
  3. Get rice cooking.  
  4. Fry onion in pan.  Add spices, salt, tomato paste, veges and red wine.  Stir for about a minute, then add other sauce ingredients.  Add meatballs back to the pan and simmer for about 5 minutes (at this point you can either carry on, or remove from heat and set aside again, until you're almost ready to eat - so this can, up to this point, be prepared earlier in the day - you'd just need to gently heat through again later).  
  5. Top with cheese and grill for 3-5 minutes, until browning and bubbling.  
  6. Serve on rice with a dollop of sour cream.  

Scrumptious Thai chicken salad

I love coconut in food.  It's a flavour which, I think, both works well with other flavours and as a stand-alone ingredient.  This salad uses both - the coconut milk which is mixed with various other Thai-inspired flavours and the shredded coconut, toasted and forming a major part of the overall meal.  

I found this little harbinger of delight was a recipe found in Chelsea Winter's cookbook 'Scrumptious'.  We altered it a trifle (I had run out of lemongrass, so used some makrut lime leaves instead, and we heated the shredded chicken back through in the sauce it had been poached in, making the overall dish not entirely cold).  Also, we used pinenuts, as Mr 12 is allergic to peanuts, but you could use peanuts, or cashews.  

350 - 500 g chicken breasts (I used 2 large) 
1/2 onion, diced 
1 tbsp sesame (or peanut) oil 
2 tbsp grated ginger 
2 makrut lime leaves, central steam removed and finely sliced (or pound and chop one stalk of lemongrass) 
2 tbsp ground cumin 
400 ml coconut milk

3/4 cup shredded coconut 
1/2 - 3/4 cup pinenuts (or peanuts, cashews...) 
100 g vermicelli noodles 
2 cups chopped bok choy (or pak choy, spinach etc) 
2 carrots, grated 
2 stalks celery, finely chopped 

1 cup coriander, chopped (leaves and stalks) 
1 red chili, finely chopped (optional) 

1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce 
2 tbsp lime juice 
1 clove garlic, crushed 
1/2 tsp sesame oil 
  1. Heat oil in pot over medium heat.  Cook onion, ginger, lime leaves and cumin for a few minutes until fragrant.  
  2. Add the coconut milk and chicken, increase heat and bring to simmer.  Simmer gently for about 8 minutes, turning chicken occasionally, until chicken is cooked through.  Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl with a lid (the chicken and the sauce).  Put in the fridge until needed (this part can be done up to 2 days in advance).  
  3. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a bowl.  Set aside.  
  4. Toast the nuts and shredded coconut in a dry pan.  Set aside when lightly browned.  
  5. Put the noodles and bok choy in a large bowl.  Cover with boiling water and leave for a few minutes until cooked.  Stir to separate the noodles, then drain.  
  6. Bring chicken out and shred.  Return, with the sauce, to a pot and heat through.  
  7. Mix other salad ingredients and coconut/nuts with the noodles.  Serve salad, topped with chicken and garnish with a little extra coriander.  

Chermoula fish

I came across this recipe earlier in the week, in an email from Mindfood.  Their recipes always sound beautiful and would undoubtedly be very tasty, but to be honest I usually just find them a bit too fussy for a weekday meal (after work, who can be bothered with tricky?).  This one however struck me as relatively straightforward.  And it was a fish recipe, perfect for a light, but tasty, Monday-meal.  

Chermoula is a marinade used extensively in North African cooking (particularly those areas along the Mediterranean).  It is traditionally used to season seafood, but can be used as a flavour-base for other meats or vegetables.  This marinade doesn't used cumin, but cumin is, along with coriander, a typical ingredient in chermoula. 

I used a combination of hoki (it was on special) and tarakihi for our meal.  But any firm white fish would do nicely.  Gurnard would be excellent!  

4 fillets of fish (roughly 700 g) 
500 g potatoes, cut into quarters lengthways
1 tbsp butter 
1 red onion, sliced
1 capsicum, cut into thick slices
1-2 tbsp grated ginger 
300 g tomatoes, cut into chunks 
1 cup chicken stock 
1/2 cup large green olives (Delmaine do ones in a jar which worked well)
1-2 limes, cut into thick slices (or 1 tbsp preserved lemon)
crusty bread, to serve (optional) 
coriander leaves, to garnish 

1 cup coriander 
1/2 cup parsley 
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic 
1 tbsp red wine vinegar (or apple cider)
salt and pepper
  1. Place chermoula ingredients in food processor  and process until all cut up and becoming smooth (I left a few bigger pieces in mine).  
  2. Cut fish into chunks.  Combine with chermoula in a bowl.  Set aside.  
  3. Steam potatoes until tender.  
  4. Heat butter in large pan/pot (it must have a tight-fitting lid), or a tagine (I don't have one, so used a large heavy pot).  Add onion and capsicum and cook for about 5 minutes, til softened.  
  5. Add ginger and tomatoes and cook for further two minutes.  Remove from heat and set tomato-onion mixture in a bowl.  
  6. Arrange potatoes in bottom of pot.  Spoon over half the tomato mixture.  Top with chermoula fish and second half of tomatoes.  Pour oven stock.  Scatter with olives and lime.  
  7. Cover pot with sheet of baking paper and tight-fitting lid (or your tagine's lid) and simmer gently for 10 minutes.  
  8. Serve with warm crusty bread (I used some par-baked dinner rolls).  

NB: Most supermarkets carry pre-mixed Ras el Hanout these days too - I have one in the pantry from Mrs Rogers Premium range, bought at our local Countdown.  

31 July 2017

The Queen of Tarts

Pastry.  I love pastry.  To be even more specific, I love to eat things made from pastry.  Pies.  Danishes.  Tarts.  Yum.  

Over the weekend I spent a day at The Food Show in Auckland, and saw some fantastic cooking demos by some of our coolest celebrity chefs.  It got me thinking back to past years at the show, and I remembered a tasty, but very quick, tart whipped up by Ray McVinnie, using mushrooms, pastry and butter (ok and a couple more ingredients, but you got the basics right there!).  

So, without further ado, here it is, as Frankie and I created it, yesterday for lunch...

Serves 2-3 (depending how hungry you are) 

2 sheets flaky puff pastry (I was using the pre-rolled Edmonds) 
1 egg 
sesame seeds 
c. 10-12 button mushrooms, sliced about 1/2 cm thick
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced or chopped fine
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp dried tarragon 
salt and pepper 
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius.  
  2. Beat egg in a small bowl.  Brush 1.5 cm around edge of pastry with egg.  Fold over, creating a border.  Brush tops of border with more egg.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.  
  3. Prick bottom of tart (within the border) - this will stop that pastry rising when cooking.  Place in oven for a few minutes, just to start cooking the area where the mushrooms will be - don't leave it for too long, 'cause you don't want the border cooked too much before you top the tart.  
  4. Remove from oven and top with a layer of mushrooms.  Mix together butter, onion, garlic, parsley, tarragon, salt and pepper.  Drizzle over the mushrooms.  Sprinkle with a few more sesame seeds.  
  5. Return to oven for 5 minutes.  Remove when nicely browned.  

27 July 2017

Hulk's signature dish

If Hulk were to take on cooking, I reckon this would be his signature dish.  It's hearty, rich in flavour and, as with Hulk, has more than one personality involved.  This dish is essentially a sausage casserole, but mixed with a pasta bake and a lasagna.  That's right - sausage casserole pasta bake lasagna - boom!!  

As with most casseroles (and indeed, most dishes I make), there are several places where you can switch things in or out, depending on your tastes and what you have (or don't have) in the fridge.  This is adapted from Chelsea Winter's recipe in Scrumptious (thanks Janelle!!).  

500 g pumpkin + kumara (I used butternut and orange kumara, chopped into 2cm chunks)
2 tbsp EVOO 
salt and pepper
smoked paprika
8-10 sausages (I used our local butcher's beefys) 
1 large onion, sliced
4 - 5 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 cups chopped spinach (or 2 zucchini, grated)
1 tbsp dried oregano 
2 x 400 g tins tomatoes 
1 cup beef stock (fresh - if you use powdered, add a little extra water and no extra salt)
1/2 cup red wine (or another 1/2 cup stock)
1/2 cup tomato paste (I used half-and-half pizza sauce and BBQ sauce, 'cause I'd run out)
250 g dried pasta (penne, macaroni...) 
1.5 cups cheese sauce (however you like to make it) - or 200 g creme fraiche (sprinkle some grated chedder cheese on top, if you use creme fraiche)
1 cup freshly grated parmasan cheese
  1. Toss the pumkin/kumara with oil, salt and pepper, and paprika.  Roast in oven at about 180 degrees celcius for about 20 minutes.  
  2. Cook pasta as per instructions on the packet, to al dente.  
  3. While veges are roasting, chop sausages into 5 or 6 pieces each.  Melt some butter in a large frypan and brown all over.  Remove from pan and set aside.  
  4. Melt a little more butter, cook onion until softening.  Add garlic, spinach and oregano.  Cook for a couple more minutes.  
  5. Put sausages back into pan and add tomatoes, stock, wine, tomato paste.  Stir and bring to rapid simmer.  Simmer away for about 15 or so minutes, until sauce is thickened.  
  6. Make your cheese sauce, if using.  
  7. Mix roasted veges, cooked pasta and sausage saucey mixture together in a large lasagna dish (I had to use one large and a small one too).  Pour cheese sauce over all.  Grate parmasan on top.  
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden in colour.  You could grill for a minute at end too, to get that really sweet golden top.  
  9. Serve on its own or with some stramed greens.  This is so yum!  
Serves about 10 adults.  

30 June 2017

Thai tastiness

I love Thai food.  These little 'cakes' (mini patties, really) convey all the flavours of the South-East that we love, in a quick, easy and versatile bite.  They make for a tasty midweek meal or a fantastic tapas option - I'm thinking perfect for watching the All Blacks take on the Lions tomorrow night!?  

350g pork mince (or chicken or turkey)
1.5 tsp Thai green curry paste
2 makrut leaves*, central stem removed and thinly sliced
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp sweet chili sauce
1 egg
1/2 cup panko crumbs
2 spring onions, white and green part thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp finely grated ginger (I use a microplane)
1 clove grated/minced garlic
juice of 1 lime/lemon
2 tsp soy sauce
1.5 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp fish sauce
  1. Mix together all first batch of ingredients and set aside until ready to form into little patties and fry (I made the mixture earlier in the day and kept it in the fridge). 
  2. Mix together second lot of ingredients, for the dressing.  Keep in fridge until you're ready for it. 
  3. Melt butter in large frypan and cook patties until browned on both sides.  
  4. Serve with dressing as a dipping sauce (tapas style!) or with coconut rice, winter slaw and toasted sesame/pinenuts, drizzled with the dressing (awesome meal!!).  
Makes enough for 4, as a meal with rice etc.  For the coconut rice I cooked 1 cup of rice in 1 cup coconut milk and 1/2 cup water.  Once boiling turn down to low and cover with lid.  After 20 minutes turn off and keep covered until ready to serve (can sit there steaming away for a good half hour).  

For the slaw we finely chopped coriander, bok choy and a carrot, then stirred through a couple of tablespoons of the dressing.  Yum!!  

NB: * makrut leaves = kaffir leaves.  Makrut (pronounced mah-krut) is the Thai word used to describe the bumpy-skinned lime otherwise referred to in many Western countries as the kaffir lime.  Given that word's place in many countries' vernaculars as a racial slur, there is a push to use the Thai name instead.  Given this lime's leaves are often seen in Thai cuisine, this makes complete sense to me.  So, same leave, different name.