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.