15 December 2016

summer lovin' (with lamb steaks and couscous)

KB has been away for work this week, so I've been left to fend for myself gastronomically (cue the world's smallest violin, please).  My Mum is a teacher, in the last week of the schoolyear (think crazy busy, no time to stop and complete domestic tasks such as making herself a meal).  It seemed sensible to team up, to ensure we both got a few good meals under our belts.  So, Mum bought supplies and I turned chef for the week.  This was the pick o' the week - nothing complicated, but bursting with fresh flavours (fennel, citrus, mint - I LOVE summer!!) and seasonal goodies.  We used lamb, but beef or venison would also work really well.  We had rump steak, but again - whatever you have will do, so long as it's going to be tender (so, for example, I probably wouldn't use a cut that is going to need slow cooking).  This will serve 4.  Buon Natale, it's almost Christmas!! 

Warm pear salsa
1 pear, diced 1 cm
1/4 red onion, finely diced
2 x little packs raisins (about 25g)
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds + ground coriander mix
1 1/2 tsp vinegar (I used cider)
2 tbsp water

300 g steaks (or however much will be sufficient for 4 people)
2 tbsp fennel seeds + ground coriander mix
salt and ground pepper
drizzle olive oil 

Couscous salad
1 cup chicken stock 
3/4 cup couscous (the little stuff, not Israeli) 
1/2 capsicum, diced
1/2 Lebanese cucumber (or third telegraph), diced
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp mint leaves, roughly chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon
  1. Rub seasoning into steaks with a little oil, set aside to marinate - if you can do this several hours earlier, even better!  
  2. Combine salsa ingredients in a small pot.  Bring to simmer then turn down to low heat and cook for 10 minutes or so, until pears are soft.  
  3. Prepare all veges for couscous.  
  4. Bring chicken stock to the boil in medium pot.  Stir in the couscous, cover and remove from heat.  Leave for 5 minutes.
  5. While couscous is being left heat butter in fry pan (or on BBQ hotplate) and, when hot, add steaks.  Cook for a couple of minutes on each side (for rare), or a little longer, depending on how you like your meat cooked.  Remove from heat and set aside to rest for a few minutes.  
  6. Fluff couscous with a form and add veges.  Combine and spoon onto plates.  Cut steaks into thick slices and place on top, topping the whole lot off with a couple of spoons of salsa.  
NB: If you wanted a little more, I'd recommend frying up some in-season asparagus with this! 

07 December 2016

tikka tikka kebab train

Summer's here (sorry for all you Northern Hemisphereans).  This means sun's out guns out, pour a chilled rosé, and fire up that barbee!  I stumbled across this super-tasty idea for a kebab the other day, love the idea of a tikka marinade and drizzle!  We enjoyed ours with haloumi and chicken, but prawns would also work really well here, or maybe some little lamb meatballs?  Makes 9 skewers

200 haloumi, cut into 18 cubes
9 button mushrooms, halved
enough chicken breast for 18 cubes
2 zucchinis, cut into thick slices (18 being the ideal number)
18 pieces of red capsicum, 18 of yellow
9 BBQ skewers (soak in water for a bit, they won't burn then on barbee)
knob butter
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 tsp freshly grated ginger root
4 tsp curry powder
1 cup natural yoghurt
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
handful chopped coriander leaves, to garnish 
  1. Heat butter in pan, sauté garlic, ginger and curry powder for about 30 seconds, until aromatic.  Remove from heat.  
  2. Mix yoghurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Stir in spice mixture.  
  3. Pour half the marinade into a larger bowl, put half to be used as a drizzle into the fridge.  Mix haloumi, mushrooms, zucchini and chicken with the marinade.  Cover and chill in fridge for at least 20 minutes.  
  4. Thread haloumi, chicken and veges onto skewers (there should be anough for 2 pieces of each thing on each skewer).  
  5. Cook on heated BBQ until chicken all cooked through.  If you are going to bake them in the oven, preheat to 220 degrees celcius on fanbake - heat the tray you'll sit them on too - and bake for about 15 minutes or so.  
  6. Mix coriander into remaining sauce (thin out with a little water, if needed) and drizzle over top of kebabs.  Great with some BBQed asparagus and a couple of new potatoes.    

NB: Above photo courtesy of www.wearewhatweeat.co.nz 

Insalata a-go-go

Salads are fantastic, because they're really quick and easy to throw together, they look stunning on the table and they're super tasty.  They can be tweaked throughout the year to suit the climate, what's available in the garden, and the whim of the eater.  

Everyone has their go-to salad - my Mum makes a fabulous layered south-west salad, reminiscent of her time in the Carolinas and Texas; my Ma-in-law makes a wicked one using all sorts of chopped up leaves (including mint and beetroot, amazing!!); our friend Mel makes this one.  She brought it to a BBQ recently and OMG, this is my new go-to.  Stealing it.  Mine.  It was awesome on the night of the barbee, it was even better 2 and three days later.  We've already made another batch.  And this weekend, what's on the menu for a Saturday barbee?  Yep, this salad.  It's that good.  And crazy easy - cook some kumara and potato, squeeze some orange juice, and chop up a few bits and bobs.  Done!  

This will make enough to take to a BBQ - halve amounts if just wanting to make for 4/5 people.  

1 kg diced cooked kumara (I like orange) and potato
1 cup small florets broccoli
1 cup chopped dates
2 stalks sliced celery
2 sliced spring onions
flesh of two chunkily-cut up oranges
1 cup mayonnaise (I used Pams American Mayo, which is like Best Foods - basically a thick mayo is ideal)
1/4 cup orange juice (I used a little more...)
2 tsp curry powder
nuts/seeds/fresh herbs, to garnish
  1. Cook kumara/potato (you could just use kumara if you like, we just didn't quite have enough in the pantry) until cooked but not mushy.  Before you drain, throw the broccoli in the boiling water, to blanch.  Drain, pour veges into bowl. 
  2. Add dates, celery, spring onions and orange to bowl.  
  3. Mix mayo, juice and curry together.  Pour over salad and combine.  
  4. Chill until ready to use.  When ready to eat, sprinkle with some nuts/seeds and chopped fresh herbs.     

30 November 2016

pie time mexicana

We had burritos for dinner a few nights ago (yep, that's pretty much wraps), but made enough mince to feed a small mexican army.  So, after a couple of days having mince on toast, I thought hmmmm, pie time?  These were a really tasty midweek meal, and went down a treat with the kids (with some T sauce), as well as us bigger people (I liked sour cream with mine!).  

Nacho mince (however much you have leftover)
Sheets of flaky puff pastry (I used 3)
Leftover steamed vege (if you have some in the fridge, this was a good way to sneak some more veges into our daughter's dinner)

  1. Cut the sheets into quarters, fit them into muffin trays (if you have metal trays, probably a good idea to grease them first).  I left the excess sitting over the edges, to fold back over the tops later.  
  2. Fill with nacho mince/veges/ whatever.  Place a piece of cheese on top. 
  3. Fold excess back over, pinch together.  
  4. Bake at 150 degrees celcius for about 20 minutes (until they're golden and the pastry isn't soggy).  
  5. Serve with sour cream, avocado and (you guessed it!) salsa!!  Or a side salad :) 

20 November 2016

salmon salsa, za'atar chicken with jeweled rice

I love it when the seasons turn toward summer - there is so much fresh produce becoming available locally (and growing in the garden), and that combined with more sun and outside time just gives me more energy and interest in cooking.  So, when my Mum got a My Food Bag delivered, I was keen to give a few of the recipes it contained a go - win win - I got to try something new with some cool new ingredients, and Mum got her meals prepared for a few days.  

The thing I liked about the dishes in Mum's bag was that you could easily add/remove/swap elements of a dish, to tailor it to your taste.  This is what I did, so that KB and I were enjoying some of the flavours of the meals too.  So... here're some of the tasty new dishes we have sampled over the past few days...

salmon salsa

No - the salsa doesn't have chunks of salmon in it.  But chunks of salmon are served on a bed of salsa.  This was such a tasty way to use up some of the veges in the fridge.  We used Aoraki smoked salmon (bought at Pak n Save, for those in NZ) - it was chunks, rather than thinly sliced, and had been smoked in oak with rum and brown sugar.  OMG.  I could have easily eaten the entire pack on its own, but it was delicious combined with roasties, fresh asparagus, caramelised fennel and salsa.  This will make enough for 2 people, but you can easily adjust the amounts for 1, or more.  

smoked salmon (you could even smoke your own?!)
asparagus (enough for 2) 
half fennel bulb
1 potato
1 small kumara 
1 carrot
oil and butter
salt and pepper
salsa ingredients (we used red capsicum, yellow tomatoes, apple, cucumber, red onion, fresh coriander)
balsamic vinegar
avocado, slices on the side

  1. Prepare salsa - dice ingredients up into a nice, chunky mix.  Stir through a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. 
  2. Cut up potato and kumara into rounds, cut carrot in half, then in half again long ways.  Roast at 180 degrees celcius until cooked.  
  3. Remove greens and core from fennel, slice longways.  Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Roast for about 20 minutes - the fennel will start to release its own sugars and caramelise a little.  Remove, set aside (this is good either hot, or cold - prepare a whole bulb's worth and keep what you don't use in the fridge).  
  4. BBQ or pan fry asparagus in butter.  
  5. Plate it up - roasties, salsa, salmon, fennel.  Asparagus and avocado on the sides.  Your plate will be completely clean within minutes!  
za'atar chicken with jeweled rice

Za'atar is a middle eastern spice mix, so aromatic and tasty.  You can find pre-prepared ones in specialty stores, or some supermarkets (the Simon Gault Moroccan spice blend is pretty close, and can easily be used in this recipe).  But if you look online you'll find lots of easy to make variations.  I used Simon's blend, with some extra sesame seeds to bring it into line with an actual za'atar blend.  

Pomegranates seeds - they look so beautiful and are so full of goodness - fiber, vits C and K, potassium, anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac qualities...  To remove the seeds, cut the pomegranate in half from top to bottom.  Between squeezing a little and tapping the outside of the fruit over a bowl, most of the seeds will likely pop out.  Those which don't I flick out with a knife.  You don't want the pith - it's really bitter.  

1 tsp butter
half red onion
3 baby carrot, or 1 normal carrot
1 tsp za'atar mix
1/2 cup basmati rice
3/4 cup stock
salt and pepper
1 tbsp sultanas (or golden raisins) 
seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
2 radishes
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 chicken breasts
3 tbsp za'atar mix
4 tbsp natural greek yoghurt
  1. Heat butter and a drizzle of oil in a medium pot on medium heat. Cook onion and baby carrots for 2–3 minutes, until softened. Add first measure of za’atar spice mix and cook a further 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in rice, stock/water and salt into pot with carrots and bring to the boil. 
  2. As soon as rice boils, cover with a lid and reduce to lowest heat to cook for 12 minutes. Turn off heat, quickly add golden raisins and cover again. Leave to steam, covered, for 8 minutes. Do not lift lid again during cooking. While rice cooks, de-seed pomegranate. 
  3. Heat butter or oil in pan.  Coat chicken with second measure of za'atar mix and pan-fry until cooked through.  
  4. Remove pan from heat, cover with foil, and allow to rest for a few minutes.  While chicken rests, finely chop spinach and grate radishes. Add to pot with cooked rice, along with pomegranate seeds and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. 
  5. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt, mixed with lemon zest.

07 November 2016

Ota ika

Ota ika, cerviche, poisson cru, kinilaw, poke, phla hoi chell, kelaguen, sashimi... Raw fish dishes abound the world over.  I've been lucky to try several different kinds, in several different places, over the years.  My fav however is the good ol' polynesian variety of a traditional cerviche - ota ika.  Ota ika is the national dish of Tonga, but is a familiar site and flavour to those living in, and visiting, Samoa, Tahiti and various other countries throughout the Pacific.  

As with many dishes, ota ika is based around 'cooking' (actually curing, there's no cooking involved for raw fish) the fish in citrus juice.  Coconut milk is usually used as well.  Having tried ota ika in Tonga a few years ago, and here and there in NZ and Aus, it has become a frequent addition to our home cooking.  KB whipped a batch up last night, and here's what was used...

1 fillet fish (we used trevally) 
juice of 3 lemons (we'd have used 4 limes, but had a surfeit of lemons, so...)
half tin coconut cream (so about 1 cup) thinned out with coconut water
diced capsicum, cucumber, red onion
big handful fresh herbs (we used coriander this time)

  1. Cube fish into small bite-sized pieces.  Marinate in lemon juice for a couple of hours in fridge. 
  2. Mix through all other ingredients.  Allow to sit and marinate for a further hour (less is fine, but the longer the better).  
  3. This served 2 adults a large bowlful each.  So would easily serve 4, as an appetiser, or side.  

21 October 2016

Insalata caprese

Super fancy name eh?  But don't let it fool you into thinking fancy-must-have-a-million-ingredients-bugger-that - it needs 5 ingredients, total.  And that includes dressing it!  I hadn't made, or eaten, a capri salad for years, then about a week or so ago Harry came back from staying at his Grandad's full of enthusiasm for a salad they'd eaten - "And it had whole slices of mozzarella!!".  So, we got the necessities and threw one together.  

For a traditional capri salad you need: 

mozzarella di buffala (fresh mozzarella)
fresh basil leaves
tomatoes, sliced
olive oil and balsamic , to drizzle 

  1. Slice mozzarella into well, slices.  Do the same with tomatoes.  Arrange on plate/platter with basil.  
  2. Drizzle with oil and vinegar, or with a baslsamic glaze if you prefer.  A little freshly ground salt and pepper is nice too.  
For our insalata we added a few more bits and bobs in - chunks of cucumber and capsicum, we used halved cherry toms too, rather than slices of a larger tomato.  In the photo the whole lot has been mixed with the balsamic and oil too, which is why the mozzarella is no longer the lovely while it had been.  Tasted the same, just doesn't look quite as impressive on the plate.  

Gonna party like it's 1999

Finn went to a birthday party last weekend -his first at a mate's house.  Tammy had made a plethora of nibbles and party food (you can NEVER have too much party food, especially kids' party food!), and amongst the cheerios, asparagus rolls, fruit kebabs and mini pies were something I'd never seen before, but as soon as I saw them I recognised Tammy's work as being genius - mini american hotdogs!!  If you've seen/made these before, then bear with me, but I was like 'whoa, best idea EVER!'.  

So...  par-cooked dinner rolls (the pack had 12, so as many packs as you need hotdogs)
cheerios (enough for one per roll, plus a few extra, 'cause they're great solo)
tomato sauce
mustard (american style in squeezey bottle will work best)

I don't think you really need me to give you a step-by-step methodology, so will leave it here, except to say don't cook the rolls as much as you would if using as dinner rolls - you want them to be soft rather than golden crusty.  See also the following link, for some more cool ideas - fairy bread V2.0!!  

07 October 2016

salsa salsa salsa!!

I've waxed lyrical about salsa before.  It's just one of the tastiest, most versatile accompaniments around.  We're all pretty used to having salsa with mexican dishes, but it's not necessarily something you would think of otherwise.  KB loves salsa, so throws one together fairly often.  Last night it was the crowning glory on a tasty piece of salmon.  We've also had some recently with chops, and I love salsa on top of curry.  Last nights was a combo of capsicum, cherry toms, cucumber, apple, green chili, red onion and gherkin.  So, enliven your dinner, salsa it up!  

Tornado potatoes

I saw a video on facebook the other day, for these really cool-looking potatoes, so when we had some family over for Sunday-night dinner we gave them a try.  They were YUM!!  We did them largely as directed by the video, but next time I think I'll try some with garlic too (and maybe a little less parmesan).  Harry suggested trying them using mozzarella and bacon too, which could be awesome!!!!  

So, if you're looking for a fun alternative to the humble roast potato...  

potatoes (one per person)
BBQ skewers 
herbs/spices/grated parmesan 

  1. Spear potatoes on skewers.  Carefully cut on angle, into middle, to form a spiral (see video if you'd like a visual description). 
  2. Spread spirals, so there's space between rings. 
  3. Brush with butter.  Coat with spices and cheese.
  4. Bake until golden and crispy.     

21 September 2016

We don't carry guns, we carry cookies

Said comedian Gabriel Iglesias, on travelling like a rapper, just without the heavy artillery.  I can kind of relate.  Not that I see myself as rolling deep, cruising with a posse of coolness, but as a parent I can relate to travelling like a rapper - the quantity of stuff you travel with, the amount of ammo (food) and the ofttimes circusness of it all.  

Everyone loves biscuits.  Well, at least I presume everyone does.  I've met people (both adults and, amazingly, children) who don't like lollies.  Or chocolate.  Ice cream.  Fizzy drinks.  But never, to my knowledge, have I met someone who would really rather not have a biscuit.  The great thing about a biscuit is that, as Sandra Lee said, [They] are the sweetest little bit of comfort food - they are bite-sized and personal".  There's one to suit pretty much everyone.  The classic choc-chips, afghans, Anzacs, florentines, hokey-pokey, gingerbread, shortbread, yo-yos - the list is probably endless.  

So, I got an email the other day from Chelsea Sugar, with a recipe for the good ol' choc chip.  Time to get my bake on.  I swapped out the chips for a couple of good-sized handfuls of M&Ms, just 'cause I like the colour, and the kids love the 'dog biscuits', as they call them (not sure where that started, or why, but....).  

So, fill your cookie coffers with this little treat - school holiday treat?  I made about 36-40 biscuits from this.  

125 butter, softened
1/2 cup soft brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup sugar (or caster sugar) 
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg 
1 3/4 cups SR flour 
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 cup choc chips (or M&Ms nom nom nom )
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius (or 160 if fan-forced).  Line or grease biscuit trays (I needed 3).  
  2. Beat butter, sugars and vanilla until pale and creamy.  Add egg and beat until mixed.  
  3. Add flour and salt, mix until combined.  Stir in chocolate.  
  4. Roll out small teaspoon-sized balls (or bigger, for bigger biscuits) and place on baking trays.  Press down lightly with fork.  
  5. Bake for 12 minutes.    

20 September 2016

Fried in butter, tastes like summer

Green beans.  Bok choi.  Asparagus.  Zucchini slices (ok, it's a trifle early for those).  They're all green, they all taste great, and they all..... Love Being Fried In Butter.  Not heavily, or for a long time, just enough to coat them a little and cook them a tad.  I love the taste of butter, hence this recommendation for your spring/summer greens.  Steaming is a far healthier option, and what we actually do a lot of the time.  But sometimes you don't want the purest, healthiest option.  You want a semi-ok option, which tastes great, and isn't going to take away your vege's nutritional value.  Here it is.  

We had beans the other night, alongside kumara mash, baked salmon and salsa (see photo), and the taste was just fantastic.  It reminded me of greens cooked (with butter) on the BBQ in summer.  Hence this post. 

The salsa was another element which really invoked that spectre of impending summer - not a traditional salsa, but one which uses ingredients currently incoming and fresh.  Diced up capsicum (we used both red and yellow, for colour), halved cherry toms, diced cucumber and diced apple (rose variety in this one, but I reckon granny smith would also be wicked!).  Plenty of herbs, and bam, awesome flavour!  

So get thinking about what's in the markets at the moment, fresh vege-wise.  Salsas can enliven any meal (steak, chicken, fish) and can use virtually whatever firm fruit/vege you wish - mango, peach and nectarine also work really well, come summer).  And butter.  Good ol' butter - I promise it'll feel like a BBQ on the deck in no time.  

06 September 2016

Like a bat outta hell I'll be gone when the morning comes

This meatloaf will be gone when the morning comes because it's so damned tasty, leftovers just aren't an option (unless there are only two of you eating it, in which case, yes there may be - this recipe serves 6-8 adults, with side veges).  

KB came across this recipe in the latest Waikato edition of Nourish.  We'd been talking about making a meatloaf, and this seemed to take our humble standard to a whole new level.  It was incredibly tasty, though I don't know that the bacon was really needed - the loaf and sauce were so full on, the bacon was kind of superfluous.  But it probably kept the loaf from drying out in cooking, so....up to you whether you leave that in the recipe, or discard it.  I'm in two minds...  Actually no - next time I'll use the bacon, but then rather than eat it with the meatloaf, I'll save it to chop up and put into a mac cheese, or a BLT, the next day.  Bingo.  Anyhoo peeps, this is a delicious crowd-pleaser, and made the best meatloaf sandwiches too - enjoy!!

1 tbsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped (FC)
1 carrot, FC
1 celery stalk, FC
2 cloves garlic, FC
1 cup FC mushrooms
1/2 cup rolled oats/oatmeal
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup buttermilk (I used normal milk, with lemon juice squeezed in a few minutes prior to using) 
1/4 cup tomato sauce  
1 tsp Dijon mustard (wholegrain or American would be fine too)
1 kg mince (we used 500g each of beef and pork)
salt and pepper
250 g streaky bacon (we used Magills - OMG amazing, but to be honest, probably won't both next time - would rather eat the bacon as a separate meal!)

BBQ Bourbon Sauce
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce 
3 tbsp Dijon mustard 
1/4 cup brown sugar 
2 tbsp maple syrup 
1/4 cup cider vinegar 
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
1/2 cup bourbon 
juice of half an orange
2 tsp Italian seasoning (or garlic salt, or something along those lines)

  1. Place all sauce ingredients into a small pot and simmer for 20 minutes, until thick. 
  2. Heat the butter in a large pan, saute the onion, celery, carrot and garlic for 5 minutes until the veges are soft.  Add mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and put aside in a large bowl.  
  3. Add remaining loaf ingredients (except bacon) into bowl and mix thoroughly.  Line a large loaf tin (or use a silicone one) - roughly 15 x 25 cm - and press meatloaf mixture into it.  Poke some holes in the top of the loaf.  Pour 1/4 of the sauce over the meat and bake at 180°C for 30 minutes.  
  4. Transfer loaf to a roasting dish, arrange bacon over the top.  Brush with more sauce and bake for further 30 minutes.  
  5. Serve with mash and greens and a drizzle of the sauce.  

26 August 2016

Roasted and raw

Fish is a staple in our house.  It's perfect when you feel like a light meal, but need more than an egg on toast.  And it's our go-to for a quick, healthy and filling meal when getting dinner ready is a bit later (like after rugby training and the like).  We're lucky in that our local Pak n Save has a fantastic fresh fish department.  So, grab some fish (gurnard is my fav, but go for hoki, snapper, terakihi... whatever you can lay your hands on, that you like), couple it with some oven chips (home made, or frozen - Watties beer battered steak cut are pretty awesome) and some steamed vege and boom, you've got dinner.  And it probably took about 15 minutes to cook and throw together.  

However, sometimes a green salad, or steamed veges just get a bit boring.  So, if you're looking for something a little different, try something like this...  It's roasted, it's raw, it's awesome!  (Feel free to change the veges used, to reflect what's in season - for example, in summer we'd use some zucchini).  

1 large carrot, chopped into sticks
several florets broccoli (enough for each person)
2 tbsp butter 
1 capsicum, cut into small pieces 
half celery stick, chopped up 
handful sprouts (mung bean, snow pea, whatever) 
herbs, nuts (optional) 
dollop mayonnaise (we used Pams American, but whichever whole egg mayo you like)
dash worcester sauce
tsp satay sauce (we had some in the fridge, but no biggie if you don't)
tbsp BBQ sauce (Whitlocks do a great one) 
  1. Steam or boil the carrots and broccoli lightly.  Heat the butter in a roasting pan, add the steamed veges and roast.  
  2. Mix up the sauce ingredients.  
  3. Mix roasted and raw veges together, stir through the sauce.  
  4. Sprinkle with sprouts, herbs, nuts and serve with fish and chips.  YUM!! 

26 July 2016

Sweet and sour power

I came across this recipe on another foodie blog yesterday.  It was titled Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken.  Healthy because the chicken was shallow- rather than deep-fried.  I'm not convinced that this makes the meal overly healthy, given it still contains a truckload of sugar.  However, it was very quick and easy to make, contains veges (and you could easily add more in), and was incredibly tasty.  I will definitely be making it again.  This fed 4 people, and you'll likely find you have some sauce leftover, which could be thrown into a lasagna sauce, or some kind of curry, or...  So - I totally recommend this meal, but enjoy it for it's ease and taste, not for its health benefits.  ;) 

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
1/3 cup cornflour 
oil/butter for frying
1 capsicum (I used red), chopped
cup of greens - I used combination of peas and very finely chopped broccoli
1/2 onion, diced
pineapple chunks, optional

1 cup sugar 
1 cup apple cider vinegar
juice of 2-3 limes
4 tbsp soy sauce
italian seasoning
2 large clove garlic, crushed or finely diced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 tbsp cornflour + 4 tbsp water
  1. Start by preparing the sauce - bring all sauce ingredients, except the cornflour and water, to the boil in a small saucepan.  Lower heat and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Whisk together the cornflour and water, until cornflour is dissolved, and stir into sauce, stirring until thickened.  Either remove from heat, or keep on a low heat (depending how far in advance you're making the sauce - I made it earlier in the day, then reheated it when we cooked the chicken and ate).  
  2. Put some rice on, so it's ready when the chicken's ready.  
  3. Put chicken pieces and cornflour into a large ziplock bag.  Seal and shake, to coat the chicken.  Heat oil/butter in a large pan, add coated chicken and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add capsicum, onion and greens (you could use a green capsicum, if you don't have, or don't feel like, other greens).  Continue to cook until chicken browning and cooked through.  
  4. Add sauce to chicken, stir through and serve with rice or roti.  Top with a few pieces of pineapple.  

25 July 2016

Pavlova - need I say more?

Pavlova is a kiwi icon, as much a part of our national psyche as jandals, rugby and the buzzy bee.  It's featured on stamps, for goodness sake, and no Christmas season would be complete without at least one serving (and leftovers for breakfast, if you're really lucky).  

My Mum has always made a kick-ass pav.  I've never actually gotten around to making one (leave it to the expert, is my excuse), but while watching Mum whip a couple up on Sunday (she was making them for her fellow staff at school, best morning tea shout EVER) I thought that perhaps it was time I wrote out her recipe, and shared the love with you all.  Recipes abound in NZ, but they're all a variation on the theme of meringue, cream and awesomeness.  

6 egg whites (I'd use the yolks for an omelette, or as a treat for our dog)
2 cups sugar
4 heaped dessert spoons cornflour
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp vinegar
1/4 cup boiling water
whipped cream and fruit/chocolate for topping
  1. Beat all together until thick.  Arrange on lined baking tray. 
  2. Bake at 180 degrees celcius for 12 minutes then reduce to 120 and bake for further 48 minutes.  
  3. Remove from oven, and when cool dress the pav.   

05 July 2016

Creamy garlic parmesan chicken

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on a recipe for what was basically a creamy chicken casserole, on Damn Delicious.  Basic or otherwise, it did indeed look and sound damn delicious, so I saved it with the promise to try it one day soon. 

That one day was yesterday.  We whipped it up last night, teamed with some steamed greens.  It was delicious!  I made a couple of minor amendments, mainly to do with the amount of time the sauce was in the oven (so as not to end up with little or no sauce!), and added a couple of extras.  Next time I think I'll try using coconut cream in place of the half and half.  And maybe use a little more stock, so there's a little more sauce.  

Buon appetito!  

4-6 chicken thighs (I used skinless, boneless) 
1 tbsp Italian seasoning (Simon Gault's is really nice)
salt and pepper
3 tbsp butter
2-3 cups baby spinach, chopped up
500 g potatoes, chopped into large bite-size pieces
handful fresh parsley or coriander, chopped up

1/4 cup butter
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed 
2 tbsp flour
1 cup (or more) fresh chicken stock (powdered at a pinch, but it is a lot saltier) 
2 tsp dried oregano (or thyme, basil...) 
1/4 cup milk 
1/4 cup cream 
1/2 - 1 cup grated parmesan 

sesame seeds
lime wedges 
  1. Season chicken with seasoning and salt and pepper, preferably a couple of hours before you intend to start cooking.  
  2. Melt 2 tbsp butter in pan and sear chicken on both sides.  Place into greased casserole dish.  Surround with potatoes.  
  3. Melt 1 tbsp butter in pan and saute spinach for a minute, until wilted.  Sprinkle over the chicken.  Do the same with fresh herbs.  
  4. Place in the oven at 200 degrees celcius and bake for about 15-20 minutes.  
  5. To make the sauce melt the butter in a pot.  Saute garlic for a half minute then stir in flour.  Add stock and stir until beginning to thicken.  
  6. Add milk, cream and cheese, stir until smooth and remove from heat.  
  7. Remove chicken from the oven and pour sauce over, covering all completely.  Sprinkle with seeds and return to the oven (reduced to 150) for a further 15-20 minutes.  
  8. Squeeze lime over servings once plated and serve with greens. 

16 June 2016

One-pot fusion chicken

This recipe came to me, via my Mum (thanks, really yum!), from Donna Hay.  It's part of her TV Series 'Fast, Fresh, Simple'.  She calls it her 'one-pot chinese chicken'.  I've gone with fusion purely because it also reminded me of ingredients and the subsequent aromas elicited by south-east asian cuisine.  Anyhoo, the fast, fresh, simple is absolutely correct.  This dish quick to throw together; it was highly fragrant of fresh herbs and spices (and the awesome smell of fresh chicken stock warming through!); and it was easy.  We used a red chilli - it's what I had available and let's be honest - more colour.  I'll be making this one again, but next time I might try it with thin strips of schnitzel or lamb...and with a good squeeze of lime.    
Come to think of it, it would also be really good with prawn and fish, with a little coconut cream added in as well.  The possibilities are close to endless! 

2-3 cups chicken stock
large thumb ginger, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 spring onion, thinly sliced diagonally 
1 long chilli, thinly sliced 
1 cup rice
3-4 chicken thighs - meat cut into chunks off bone
1 cup coriander leaves 
1/2 cup peanuts, crushed slightly
soy sauce and lime, to serve

  1. Put stock into large pot (with a lid) along with ginger, garlic, spring onion and chilli.  Bring to the boil.  
  2. Once boiling add rice.  Stir once, so rice is spread evenly.  
  3. Place chicken pieces on top of rice.  Turn down to lowest heat and cover with lid.  
  4. Cook for 20 minutes, or until liquid absorbed.  Add more stock, if liquid absorbs too quickly.  
  5. Serve topped with coriander and peanuts, drizzle with soy and lime to taste.  

31 May 2016

enter, the fabulous baker boys

The fabulous baker boys.  Not the 1989 Michelle Pfeiffer film.  Two men in the kitchen, making bread.  Awesome!  Everyone loves the smell of freshly baked bread, and what better way for a young man to learn to make it, than with his Dad?  I'm very lucky to have an other half who genuinely loves being in the kitchen.  It makes for a much more interesting meal repertoire, and it means there's another male for the young males of the household to learn from.  And men do tend to cook in a different way that women - more shooting from the hip, wild west style.  Throw it in, stir it up, see what happens.  Then add a little more (especially if it's chocolate chips, or chilli).  

Anyhoo, moving on.  Bread.  It's arguably one of the more important foods in the world.  Right up there with rice and potatoes as a staple in most cultures.  There are a myriad of different types - a seemingly endless array of flavours, shapes, ingredients and uses.  As a side, a holdall (think tortillas), for dunking, for a food ol' sandwich.  For breakfast, for lunch, with dinner - heck, even desserts can include bread!  

Bread fills an spot socially as well, significant beyond its importance as a basic foodstuff.  It plays essential roles in both religious rituals and secular culture.  Its prominence in daily life can be seen reflected in language - it appears linguistically everywhere from proverbs ("know on which side your bread is buttered") to slang ("dough" for money), and even in the basic etymology of words ("company" - from Latin com 'with' + panis 'bread').  

This particular bread recipe comes from my lovely South African sister-in-law Cindy.  She showed the boys how to make it and cook it on the BBQ when we were on a holiday at the beach earlier this year.  It made a beautiful tasting bread, and was incredibly versitile - the first had some herbs through it; the second Kyle and Cindy made in balls, pushed together on the baking tray, to make an easy-pull-apart bread, with each piece stuffed with garlic, herbs and cheese; the third (made by Harry and Kyle just over the weekend) was made into two smaller loaves, spiced with cumin seeds and dried oregano.  Next time I think cumin seeds and dried rosemary are on the cards... 

1.5kg flour (high grade, if you have it) - this makes a lot of bread, half will make enough for most situations
8 g active yeast (make sure this is fresh, or not been sitting for toooooo long in the pantry)
500 ml warm water
3/4 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt 
spices etc, if using 
  1. Put flour and salt in large bowl. 
  2. Fill cup with warm water, dissolve sugar in it then add yeast. 
  3. Once yeast has sunk to the bottom and begun to froth, mix with the flour.  
  4. Knead (in the bowl, or on a floured/oiled surface) for 15-20 minutes (it's a good idea to have a couple of you to share this job!)  Oil your hands, so they don't stick to the dough as it forms.  Add more water as necessary. 
  5. Clean bowl, lightly oil and place the ball of dough back in it.  Cover with a teatowel and place somewhere warm to rise (I go with the hot water cupboard, or in the oven - turn it on for a few minutes before you need it, then turn off).   Leave it for about an hour.
  6. Once risen you can either bake (180 degrees celcius for about 25-30 minutes), or repeat steps 4 and 5 first.  
  7. You'll know it's ready to take out of the oven (or BBQ) when you can start to smell it.  It should be a nice golden colour too.  You can brush the top with egg/milk prior to cooking, but it won't matter if you don't.