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 

21 September 2017

Kung Pao Part Deux

Ok, so further to the kung pao of a couple week's back - we made it again but this time using smoked paprika in place of the cayenne pepper.  Boom, still amazing, but without the insane amount of spicy heat.  So there we go peeps - cayenne if you like it hot, paprika if you like it not.  Chī hǎo hē hǎo!

19 September 2017

Hulk smash! peas and broc

This is a sort of retake on the whole mushy peas arena.  It went with a recent Nadia Lim fish and chip meal, but I've added a couple of extra veges (might as well use up what is in the fridge!).  

This is enough for 2-3 people:

6 florets broccoli and 4 florets cauliflower (or just broccoli), roughly chopped up (stalk and all)
1/2 cup frozen peas 
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
good handful fresh mint, chopped up
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp butter
salt, herbs and spices of choice (I used salt, pepper and tarragon)

  1. Put all ingredients (except butter) in pot.  Put the lid on and steam for a few minutes until just cooked. 
  2. Drain excess water. 
  3. Add butter and salt/herbs and roughly mash.  Hulk smash!!  

14 September 2017

believe it or not - you're gonna love brussells

Brussell sprouts don't have the greatest rep.  I imagine if a poll were taken of vegetable-eating adults, probably 7-8/10 would say they don't like BS.  Why?  Because they're tasteless or, even worse, they taste the smell of boiled socks.  BS have always been boiled, within an inch of their lives.  So the result, not surprisingly, is a vegetable gone limp, devoid of flavour, and therefore not a welcome addition to any meal plan.  

However, I am one of the 2-3/10 who genuinely do enjoy BS.  Always have.  We didn't have them much as kids, as our parents hated them, but when we had them I loved them.  And now they are, dare I say it, enjoying something of a renaissance.  The age of the Brussell.  Any why is that?  Because we are slowly realising that, as with most foods, they can be cooked in more than one way (and, in fact, are absolutely fantastic raw - see Winter Slaw 2.0).  

Last night we had steak.  What do we have with it, we wondered.  Eventually (imagination was ebbing by evening) I settled on mushroom sauce and some form of potato (oh, well done me).  Fortunately KB had a little more imagination left and came up with this really really tasty twist on a good ol' roast vege salad - and it used brussells!  

1-2 beetroot
1 kumara (we used orange)
1/2 large red onion
6 brussell sprouts
half or more red capsicum
sour cream
hoisin sauce

  1. Chop beetroot and kumara in large bite-sized chunks, and onion in wedges - roast until cooked through.  Bring out and set aside to cool. 
  2. Finely slice brussells; dice capsicum, finely chop herbs.  
  3. Mix sour cream and hoisin (sorry, wasn't watching so not sure of exact amounts, but am thinking 125ml tub of SC and a tbsp or so of hoisin).  
  4. Fold all together and serve as a cold salad.  

06 September 2017

Schnitzel von Parmasan Crumb

Schnitzel - it's one of those meats which I sometimes just forget about.  You buy some, it sits in the freezer for ages, maybe ends up sliced up for a stir-fry.  But crumbed schnitzel is one of my favourite ways to have meat, it's awesome.  Don't know why we don't have it more often!  

This is crumbed schnitzel taken to the next level - with parmasan and herbs.  Yum!!  This crumb is also perfect for slices of chicken (homemade chicken tenders, anyone?).  

Herbs (I used Simon Gault's Italian seasoning)
Panko crumbs
Parmasan cheese
Beef schnitzel (or chicken, pork...) 
Potatoes (for mash or chips)
Veges or slaw

  1. Mix a little salt and herbs with your flour.  
  2. Finely grate parmasan onto your panko crumbs and mix together.  
  3. Whisk an egg (or two, depending on how much schnitzel you're crumbing) in a bowl.  
  4. Cut schnitzel into manageable-sized pieces (strips is great for kids, or palm-sized is good) and coat in herby flour.  Next dredge through egg.  Finally coat with panko-parmasan crumb.  
  5. Cook in hot pan with oil or butter.  
  6. Serve with oven chips (kumara maybe?) or mash and steamed veges or slaw.  Enjoy!!

05 September 2017

Patatas bravas - put 'em up!

Patatas bravas means fighting potatoes.  That's probably one of the funniest names for a dish I've ever heard, and I love it.  I mean just picture it - Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGregor as potatoes.  Brilliant.  It's a dish commonly served in bars throughout Spain, as a tapas dish - usually with a tomato-based sauce or an aioli.  This recipe sort of combines the two by mixing tomato and capsicum pesto with a mayonnaise.  The spices you use on the potatoes are really up to you, but for an authentic Spanish flavour I'd definitely be using paprika - its smokey flavour is perfect with the capsicum pesto and chorizo.  

We got our meal inspiration from the latest batch of recipes on My Food Bag - and the potatoes were served with fish and chorizo.  I was a bit skeptical about how fish would go with the strong flavours of the chorizo, paprika and capsicum pesto, but it just worked perfectly!  We used gurnard, but any white fish would do.  Chicken would also be really nice here - perhaps in a panko crumb?  

Serves 2 - 3 

2 large potatoes, chopped into 2cm chunks, or thin wedges
1 tbsp Spanish spices (I used a combo of smoked paprika and Simon Gault's Mexican blend)
butter/fat/oil for roasting

1 chorizo sausage 
1 onion, diced 
1 clove garlic, diced 
6 button mushrooms, diced 
half red capsicum, diced 
1 spring onion, finely sliced 

1 tbsp mayonnaise 
1 tbsp capsicum pesto (I used 'Mediterranean' Chunky Dip) 
1/2 tbsp tomato sauce 

2-3 fillets fish (1 per person) 

broccoli and carrots (or whichever veges you like), cut to steam
  1. Toss the potatoes with spices and oil/fat/butter.  Roast for about 20 - 30 minutes, until golden and crisping up.  
  2. While potatoes are cooking prepare veges.  Mix together the sauce ingredients.  
  3. Saute the chorizo, onion, garlic, mushrooms, capsicum and spring onion with some butter.  
  4. Steam broccoli and carrots. 
  5. When potatoes and other veges are almost done, cook your fish (again, I like to use butter).  We didn't flour or crumb ours, but you could if you wish.  
  6. Serve by layering potatoes with stirfry veges and drizzle the whole with sauce.  Top with fish and place steamed veges on the side.  

04 September 2017

Kung pao!!

Kung Pao!!  It sounds like something you'd hear in a Bruce Lee fight scene.  Named after Qing Dynasty official, Ding Baozhen, Kung Pao literally translates to 'Palace Guardian'.  A staple of Sichuan cuisine, it's now a spicy staple throughout Chinese restaurants worldwide.  

I made my own sichuan seasoning, using cumin seeds, salt, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper and ground ginger (roughly 1 tsp of salt and black pepper, 2 tsp of other ingredients).  It was really quite spicy - which I enjoyed, but it probably wouldn't be how I'd do it next time, as others found it a bit too much.  Next time I'd still make the seasoning but omit the cayenne, which is where the bulk of the heat came from.  The other ingredients in this dish, especially the hoisin sauce, make it so flavoursome that I really don't think the cayenne would be missed.  

You could make this with any meat you like, but chicken is an easy one, and looks great on the plate.  Another alternative, for a super-quick midweek meal, would be to serve the chicken with rice and steamed veges on the side.  Kung Pao!! 

Serves 2-3 

300 g chicken breast (one large one, give or take)
1 tsp sichuan spice mix (see above) 
1 tsp each of soy sauce, honey, sweet chili sauce, hoisin sauce and sesame seeds

1 pack singapore noodles (or ramen noodles) 
2 tsp soy sauce 
1 tsp honey
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp rice vinegar (or white, or cider)
1 tbsp hoisin sauce 
3/4 cup water
juice of 1/2 lemon 
1 spring onion, sliced - keep white and green separate 
1 tbsp ginger, finely grated 
2 cloves garlic, finely diced or minced
1 tsp sichuan spice 
1 carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
1 bok choy , thinly sliced (I used a few brussell sprouts, thinly sliced too)
4 tbsp peanuts/cashews, roughly chopped 
toasted sesame seeds, to serve 
coriander, to serve

  1. Slice the chicken breast into two steaks (place hand flat on the chicken and slice through the middle).  Mix together the marinade ingredients and add chicken to it.  Leave to marinate for as long as you like (I made this at lunchtime and put it in the fridge for a few hours).  
  2. Toast sesame seeds, set aside.  Prep all your stir fry ingredients - again, you can do this earlier in the evening, so then all you need to do is cook the chicken and through the meal together when you're ready to eat.  
  3. I used soft noodles (Trident Singapore Noodles, to be specific), so didn't need to cook them before adding them to the stir fry.  However, if you're using dried noodles, you'll need to pour some boiling water over them a couple of minutes before you want to add them.  
  4. Mix soy, honey, cornflour, vinegar, hoisin, water and lemon juice in a bowl - this will be your stir fry liquid - depending on the noodles you may not need all of it.  
  5. Fry chicken breast steaks in pan over medium heat.  Cook for about 4 minutes on each side, until cooked right through.  Remove from pan and set aside to rest for a few minutes.  
  6. Stir fry garlic, white of the spring onion and ginger in pan with a little butter or oil (sesame oil would be nice!).  Once turning golden add the carrots and a little of the liquid.  Fry for a few minutes.  Add bok choy/brussells and a little more liquid.  Add the noodles and a little more liquid.  Stir fry for a few minutes, adding the liquid bit by bit, as it is absorbed by the noodles (even though they're already soft, they seem to absorb quite a lot!).  Stir through the peanuts.  
  7. Slice chicken, to place on top of the noodles.  
  8. Plate it up and sprinkle with sesame seeds, green of the spring onion and coriander.  Enjoy!!