Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Donna Hay's potato salad from Modern Classics 1.

There is always a divide between people who like creamy potato salad and people who like an olive oil based dressed potato salad. I'm going to have to stand square in the middle because I personally love ALL potato salads. Ok maybe not the ones that have pineapple in them... ew. I don't have a specific preference if its creamy or not... having potato salad means the beginning of summer to me. It reminds me of Christmas day, beach BBQ's, hot summer days by the pool, eating off paper plates using plastic forks and always being surrounded by friends and family. It's such a gathering's food that I sometimes make it for the two of us and indulge in it the next day enjoying my huge bowl of carbs telling myself it's all ok because potato is technically a vegetable so I'm being health conscious.. right??

This specific time I made potato salad it wasn't to stuff myself but we had friends over for dinner and our little oven heats the entire apartment up when you turn it on and on hot days it turns into a sauna so anything other than boiled potatoes was out of the question. I decided to make Donna Hay's potato salad from Modern Classics 1. It is a creamy version so if you hate the creamy version probably stop reading now but if you like them or sit in the middle like me, keep reading because this is a simple and devilishly naughty but divine potato salad. It wont win any health awards let me tell you but mmmm yum!

The recipe says boil the potatoes whole then slice them but as normal I didn't read the recipe properly until I had cut all my potatoes and then it was too late so I cut them first then boiled them which seemed to work ok too. I also added a splash of vinegar to the dressing as I couldn't help myself and I love a good little tang on a dressing.

I served this potato salad with Jamie Oliver's Beer Butt Chicken I blogged about earlier (yes this post is LONG over due.. Im very sorry about that) and I also apologise about the lack of photo's... hunger always wins!

I would definitely make this again if friends were over but if your not a fan of creamy based salads this one is unfortunately not for you. I on the other hand, LOVED IT!

Donna Hay potato salad modern classics 1

Potato salad.

serves 4 -as a side dish
recipe adapted from Donna Hay's Modern Classics 1

1kg potatoes, washed
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
3 spring onions, finely chopped

dressing:
1/2 cup whole egg mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
splash of white wine vinegar
pinch of salt and pepper

- Cook potatoes in boiling water until they are cooked through and soft (keep checking them as time will vary depending on the size of your potatoes). Drain. Refrigerate them until cool then cut into desired shapes. I sliced mine thickly to match the picture in the cookbook but this is where you can get creative.

- Make the dressing: combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix well. Taste and see if you need more seasoning or vinegar to your taste.

- Combine the cooled potatoes, parsley, spring onions and dressing together in a large bowl.

- Keep chilled if not serving straight away or serve it and enjoy!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Devil's Double Choc Malt Cookies from Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food.

Ok Just going to say it.

How good is my photo?!?

I can't take total credit for it. I had help from a lovely little one who is much better at this sort of thing than me and she supplied the flowers to cheer me up. How beautiful are they??? I love them.

Last week I was asked by my big sister to bake a cake for 30 people for Sunday lunch. Yes, I said 30. You read it correct the first time. Of course I said I'd do it... who can ever say no to their big sister?! If you're the youngest (like me) you adore your older sister from when you first sat outside her bedroom door watching her put her make-up on thinking that all you ever wanted to be when you grew up was exactly like her. So yes was an easy answer when she asked.

I'm sure you've all heard about my tiny oven so how was I meant to bake a cake for 30 people in it you ask? I had a plan to make two cakes. And my plan also consisted of a lovely little lady to come and help me bake all afternoon.

We made a dark chocolate mud cake and a white chocolate mud cake (I will blog about these cakes in a future post... I promise there is more to come and much more frequently). But it totally wasn't fair of us to bake all afternoon and not actually end up eat anything deliciously home-baked and naughty so it was a completely logical idea when we decided to make cookies.

Early that morning when I went to the supermarket to get ingredients (oh by the way... Chocolate is super expensive!?! Cadbury what happened!) I also added ingredients onto the list for these decadent cookies from Jamie Oliver's new book Comfort Food (by the way this book is BEAUTIFUL!) which I had been eye-ing off for a while and what better excuse than now to make them. I needed to pick up a few ingredients I'd never made cookies with before; Horlicks which is a powdered malt drink and condensed milk. I've used condensed milk a heap of times before but not in a cookies so I was super keen to see how these would turn out.

The cookie dough was a tough one to stir... my lovely helper ended up with a blister on her finger :( but totally worth it (I think) :) they were fudgy, rich, malty and just like every home baked cookie should be... chewy in the centre. They made you want a hot cup of tea or cold glass of milk. YUM. And they were a melt and mix recipe which I LOVE! it meant the hand held mixer didn't have to come out of the box and the clean up was super easy.

I defiantly recommend you give these a go - they have smashed up Maltesers inside them... how can these taste bad?! You can also freeze the raw cookie dough so you can bake them in small batches so you always have freshly baked cookies only 15 minutes away.

You will be super impressed with yourself after making these. Make ice cream sandwiches with them for a cheeky little dessert when you have friends over or just have them as a decadent afternoon tea treat. mmmm think I'll go and get myself one after all this talking about them.

And a quick but BIG THANKYOU to my little baking helper over the weekend! You are amazing!!

Devil's Double Choc Malt Cookies from Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food.

Makes 24

50g unsalted butter
200g quality dark chocolate (70%)
1 x 395g tin of condensed milk
25g ground almonds
2 heaped tsp Horlicks
200g self raising flour
100g Maltesers
50g white chocolate (chopped or chips)

- Melt together the butter and dark chocolate on a low heat until smooth.

- Remove from the heat and add the condensed milk, ground almonds and the Horlicks, mix well. Add the sifted flour and a pinch of salt and give it a good hard stir. This is where you'll need to give it a bit of elbow grease and use those tuck shop lady arms :)

- Place in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes (no longer!).

- While the mixture is still pliable, smash the Maltesers and add them to the mix along with your white chocolate. Mix it all together, making sure all the goodies are distributed evenly.

- Preheat your oven to 170 C or 325 F.

- Divide the mixture into 24 evenly sized balls - roughly a little bit smaller than a golf ball (we got 23 out of the mixture). Place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper and squash the tops (you can freeze them at this point if you want ).

- Bake cookies for about 12 minutes or until they are chewy in the centre and firm on the edges.

ENJOY! and make you self a lovely cuppa to have with them :)

Monday, 13 October 2014

Jamie Oliver's Beer Butt Chicken from Jamie's America.

Has anyone stuck a can of beer up a chickens bottom before?

Yes a chook you buy from the grocery store, not a live one. I hope no one has ever or will ever do it to a poor live chicken. I'm talking about BBQ Beer-Butt Chicken.

I had friends over the other week and it was the perfect excuse to give this ago. I always think that a whole chicken cooking for just two people is a little extravagant so when we have people over I get a little excited and cook too much food. I know that people will disagree with that statement because there is SOOO much you can do with left over chicken but thats just how I feel... or we leave it for a special occasion like a Sunday dinner.

It was a warm night when we decided to have visitors so cooking the chicken outside on the BBQ was perfect because it meant the oven didn't have to go on for a long period of time and bake us all in our tiny apartment. I chose to use a recipe from Jamie's America Cookbook (yes by Jamie Oliver - my weakness). It was super simple and didn't make that much mess (in the kitchen that is). You make a spice rub in a mortar and pestle and rub it all over the chicken then drink half of the can of beer (not hard to do) then stick it up its bottom and place it on a preheated BBQ. Cook for one and a half hours and yum!

And this time I didn't serve raw chicken. It was well and truly cooked. But... we were so hungry by the time it came to eat I got no photo's of the cooked chicken, just of it as I placed it on the BBQ. Sorry folks but it just means I have to do it again to get you that lovely picture.

I was worried the chicken would have been a little over cooked because it stayed on the BBQ a little longer than is should have but it was still yum. I was told by our dinner guests and Tristan that it wasn't dry at all but maybe they were being polite :) I also made two salads to go with the chicken but if I start on them too in the post I might be half way to a novel so I will save them for next time.

The only thing with the chicken was... I thought the can of beer would be empty when we took the chook off the BBQ but it was still half full. My thinking was that the BBQ heats the beer and it boils and evaporates into the chicken as it cooks and in the end all the beer is gone but it wasn't. I have never made this until then so I could be completely wrong. The recipe says nothing about the can being empty or full after so no idea if I actually did it right but it still worked if you ask me.

Mmmm. Chicken. Good.

Jamie Oliver's Beer Butt Chicken from Jamie's America.

Serves 4

1 large whole chicken (about 1.5kg)
1x 473ml larger (I used a can of Stella)

Spice rub:
1 heaped tsp fennel seeds
1 level tsp cumin seeds
1 level tsp smoked paprika
1 heaped tsp brown sugar
1 level tsp mild chilli powder (I used 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper instead)
Salt and Pepper
3 tbsp olive oil

- Preheat your BBQ to 200 C or 400 F.

- In a mortar and pestle smash up the fennel and cumin seeds. Add the paprika, brown sugar, chilli powder, salt and pepper and give it a good mix. Finally stir in the olive oil, you should have a nice paste now. Drizzle and rub this all over the chicken, giving it a good massage.

- Open your can of beer. Drink and enjoy half of it. Place the chicken on top of the can so it looks like it's sitting on it (Can look a little rude about now) then place it on the BBQ hot plate.

- I used a gas BBQ (please forgive me Dj Bbq) and had the grill side turned on but had the chicken on the hot plate side so there wasn't direct heat straight underneath but heat all around it.

- Cook it for 1 hour and 30 minutes until the meat pulls away from the bone and the juices run clear. 

- Once cooked, remove the can from it's bottom with tongs. Be careful because it's very hot!

- Serve with salads or roast veggies. Enjoy!

I served this with Donna Hay's Potato Salad from Classics 1 and a Quinoa and Butternut squash Salad from It's all Good By Gwyneth Paltrow. 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Thai green chicken skewers with ginger quinoa from Donna Hay's cookbook Fresh and Light.

Have you ever eaten anything so spicy that you felt like your tongue was swollen and your tummy was burning?

I should have followed the recipe.

Here I am getting cocky again and boy did I regret that choice. Instead of two tablespoons of curry paste it was more like three... and I knew this stuff was hot. Somehow this completely slipped my mind and turned into a dinner that blew my taste buds away with so much spice.

Trying to be healthy and incorporating "super" foods into my diet lately I went with a different/light variation of a Thai green chicken curry which used quinoa instead of rice. I made the Thai green chicken skewers with ginger quinoa from Donna Hay's book Fresh and Light.

The quinoa was so delicious but the little bit of refreshing heat fresh ginger gives off it didn't help the burning on my tongue from the curry sauce. I had to cover my dinner in plain yoghurt but the flavours were really fresh and delicious once my mouth had started to cool down and I could taste again. It was such a lovely light change from the normal green chicken curry we make at home and it made me feel healthier :)

I added some steamed bok-choi to add a vegetable to the dish. The recipe could easily feed 4 but I'm always a little scared that maybe some people are smaller eaters than me and Tristan so what happens if I'm hungry after?! this is why we always have so many left overs and freezer lunches because I'm scared of going hungry... hmm think I'm a little crazy... please keep reading this crazy girl's food blog even if I am crazy! 

It's quick to prepare and doesn't make that much mess which is exactly the kind of recipes I love.

You can find the recipe on Donna Hay's website here.

I used one of those small can's of coconut cream (I think they are about 160ml) instead of just using the 60ml specified in the recipe, it gave more sauce for the skewers and quinoa plus I hate having half a can of anything sitting in the fridge going to waste. Also please don't make the mistake like I did and use a really hot curry paste - unless of course you LOVE hot things then by all means blow your socks off just offer your guests yoghurt as a condiment. If you know it's a hot paste be careful how much you use so you can enjoy it without having to slather plain yoghurt over it to extinguish your burning mouth. 

I will definitely make this again but either use less of the same curry paste I used or a different brand and hope that doesn't blow my socks off too.

Give this a go for a light summer change! ...just watch the amount of curry paste you put in...

Thai green chicken skewers with ginger quinoa from Donna Hay's book Fresh and Light.

p.s. Donna Hay's photo looks much better so definitely click on the recipe link above to see how the professions make it look. hmmm...still dreaming of that fancy camera and fluorescent lights and some crockery to spruce things up... I'm just always so hungry when it's time for dinner... I guess patience is a virtue.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Soba Noodle Salad with broccoli, chicken and toasted nori by Karen Martini.

Oh my goodness it's Sunday already!!??

It's been a beautiful weekend of weather and what more to celebrate summer on it's way than salads!!

I love a good salad. I'd been eye-ing off this recipe for ages but always went past it because of the sauce it used which I could never find in the super market and the fact that it used cooked roast chicken. I don't know how often you have left over roast chicken in your house but I don't have it often so the leftovers are always minimal.

But you know... who's going to stop me from roasting a couple of chicken breasts and shredding them especially for the salad. It's not hard work. Turn the oven on, place 2 chicken breast on a baking tray with some olive oil, salt and pepper and cook for 45 min. Done.

SO with no more excuses I finally made the soba noodle salad with broccoli, chicken and toasted nori from Karen Martini's Feasting cookbook that I'd been wanting to make for ages. Actually there are so many dishes in the book that I want to make but the book is set out as huge feasts and all of the dishes feed alot of people. Yes I know I can cut the down and halve them but it's hard when I'm menu planning for the week to grab a book that has all these beautiful large feasts in it when I'm looking for a quick midweek meal. But I was wrong about this book. I was pleasantly surprised that the recipe I chose was easy and didn't take that long, it was a perfect midweek meal with leftovers for lunch the following day (the nori sheets went a little soft but the flavours were maybe even better).

The recipe calls for ponzu... yeh I didn't know what that was either so I googled it while grocery shopping and it doesn't seem like it would be too hard to find in a well stocked supermarket but the one I go to is being renovated at the moment so is not so great. But here's hoping it gets better! When I couldn't find ponzu on the shelves I googled how to make it and I came across a few recipes that required reduced master stock and other fancy ingredients only available form asian grocery stores and nothing could help me in my supermarket dilema. Then I found a simple version here. What did I have to loose? If it tasted bad then I wouldn't use it and we'd make something else up instead and if it did then I could feel like a ponzu genius.

I felt like a ponzu genius.

The whole salad was super yummy. It impressed me so much how all the flavours worked together and how fresh and delicious it all tasted. YUM. I will definitely do this again soon now that I know how easy and tasty it is. Plus I feel that it's pretty healthy too... correct me if I'm not though.

It felt healthy anyway :)

A great recipe for when you have the girls over because you can have it already to go then add the nori sheets and dress it right before you serve and there is no excess cooking while people are over. And you can fell healthy eating it so the ice cream after doesn't make you feel too guilty :)

Soba Noodle Salad with broccoli, chicken and toasted nori

serves 4
recipe adapted from Karen Martini's cookbook 'Feasting' - find original recipe on here

2 chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt & pepper
(or 400g leftover roast chicken, shredded)


300g dried soba noodles
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tsp sesame oil
60ml soy sauce
30ml rice wine vinegar
30ml cup lime juice
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 heaped tsp jarred grated ginger
5 spring onions, finely sliced
1 sheet of toasted nori, roughly ripped into shreds

- Preheat your oven to 200 C or 400 F.
- Drizzle olive oil over chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray and bake for 30-45 minute or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and cover with foil to keep in the juices.
- Go and do something else fun for a little while so it can cool down a little (or prep everything else so it's all ready to do).

- Combine the sesame seeds, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil and ginger in a large bowl (your will eventually put everything in this bowl - the bigger the better).

- Cook the soba noodles according to packet instructions (mine took about 3-4 minutes), drain and refresh under cold water.

- Cook the broccoli for 2 minutes and then drain, rinsing under cold water.

- Shred the chicken breasts with two forks. 

- Place chicken, noodles, broccoli, spring onions into the bowl with all the sauces and top with nori.

- Serve cold or at room temperature.