Saturday, 29 November 2014

Tomato Sauce with Carrots and Onions from My Berlin Kitchen.

So the other week when I was home alone for dinner I of course had to cook myself pasta. It's simple easy and why resist one of your favourite foods when there is no one eating but you?!

I picked up my favourite food memoir My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss who writes the blog 'The Wednesday Chef' (such a great blog! check it out!) because when I was reading this book practically every recipe she has in there I wanted to make that then and there but reading till 1am because you can't put it down then going to make a big bowl of pasta for yourself probably isn't the best idea so I've tagged the book like a crazy women and one recipe that I thought would be great for when I'm home alone was her Tomato Sauce with Carrots and Onions. It also was the only ingredients I had left in the fridge so it was fate I say.

Sounds simple you say? It is and that's whats so great about it. It comes with her family story abut her and her father and I remember when I still lived with my patents and my mum had her own version of a tomato sauce she made so it kind of hit home a little. Plus who always has a few carrots, onions and a can of tomatoes floating around their fridge and pantry right before payday? I always do.

Tomato Sauce with Carrots and Onions from My Berlin Kitchen.

Luisa gives you a tip when making this and thats - "to let the onion cook thoroughly in the olive oil before adding the rest of the ingredients. This mellows the sometimes metallic bite of the onion and adds sweetness to the sauce."

The basic recipe (adapted ever so slightly) is heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a small/medium pot, add a whole garlic clove and a diced brown onion and cook that for about 10 minutes or so until the onion has gone really soft. Then add your diced carrot and cook for a little longer. Add a can of diced tomatoes, a pinch of salt and chilli flakes and bring to a simmer. Cook your pasta until al dente, stir sauce and pasta together (fishing out the garlic clove) then serve with a generous serving of parmesan cheese.

So simple and tasty and definitely a great store cupboard/end of pay week staple!

Tomato Sauce with Carrots and Onions from My Berlin Kitchen.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Stuffed Cypriot Chicken from Jamie's 30 Minute Meals.

Does anyone else have the cookbook Jamie's 30 Minute Meals? The meals that are set out to make for a family of 4 or 6 are huge and there are so many components and the ingredient lists is HUGE! For two people this isn't really the book to use but if you are cooking a saturday night dinner for a group of friends or a mid week family dinner then I think it would be great. I always look through it though hoping for some inspiration and ideas and instead of making the entire meal I sometimes pick elements of the fast and choose them to cook with sometimes a simple salad or boiled potatoes. Doesn't sound too flashy but I do love a good boiled potato smothered in butter, pepper and salt.

Stuffed Cypriot Chicken from Jamies 30 Minute Meals

I'm a huge pasta fan (I'm sure f you've read my posts you'd know by now) but Tristan is a huge chicken and potatoes fan. A bit of Ying and Yang... but thats not to say he doesn't like pasta or I don't like chicken and potatoes we just have our weaknesses that always bring us back for seconds.

I love the idea of stuffed chicken breasts. My Aunty used to make this delicious stuffed chicken breast with cream cheese and as many different herbs she could find then sprinkle the outside with some paprika. She was an absolutely AMAZING cook and she loved every minute of being in the kitchen and feeding her loved ones. So when I saw the stuffed cypriot chicken in Jamie's 30 minute meals I had to give it a go but the rest of the feast I have saved for another day or when I have more mouths to feed at my table.
Stuffed Cypriot Chicken from Jamies 30 Minute Meals

For the stuffing I got the parsley, basil, sun dried tomatoes and garlic and placed them on a chopping board and gave everything a good chop. Crumbled over the feta and lemon zest and mixed everything through.

For the chicken I got two chicken breasts (I have adapted this recipe to feed two again) and on the underside of them I folded back the little flappy bit and cut a little pocket/slit into each one. It opened out kinda like a raw chicken book.

I then divided the filling between the two chicken breasts, folded the flap back over and pan fried them in olive oil, covering them in damp baking paper, towards the end I threw in some rosemary sprigs and cooked until they were cooked through. Yes I still have to cut my chicken breast in half to see if it's done or not so please don't worry if you have to to. I'd rather check then eat or serve raw chicken (and yes I have served raw chicken once before and I hope to never do it again) so if your unsure, check and don't stress!
Stuffed Cypriot Chicken from Jamies 30 Minute Meals

I served this with a simple green side salad and boiled potatoes. Not very exciting but simple, delicious and really all this tasty chicken needs. It already has so many flavours in it and the lemon zest really keep it fresh tasting and zingy. I would definitely make this again and I think it would make a great dinner option for a few people because you could prep the chicken breasts in advance and leave them in the fridge until your guests get hear. Perfect dinner party food!

Stuffed Cypriot Chicken

serves 2
recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals cookbook

a handful of fresh parsley
a handful of fresh basil leaves
4 jarred sun dried tomatoes in oil
extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper
2 small garlic cloves
60g feta cheese (approx.) 
zest of half a lemon
2 chicken breasts (I used skinless but you can used skin on if you like)
a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary

- Place your parsley, basil, sun dried tomatoes, 1 tsp oil, salt, pepper and garlic on a chopping board and give everything a really good chop, mixing it all together as you go. Crumble over feta and zest and mix it all through.

- Turn the chicken breasts skin side down (or the side that would have had the skin on it) and on the underside of them fold back the little flappy bit and cut a little pocket/slit into each one. It should open out kinda like a raw chicken book. Do this to both of them.

- Divide the filling between the two chicken breasts and fold over the flappy bit to incase all the goodies.

- Get a frying pan on medium heat and add a good glug of olive oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot place the chicken skin side down in the pan. Get a piece of baking paper and scrunch it under some water then place that over the top, like your tucking the chicken in to bed. 

- Cook for about 10 minutes or until golden on the side then carefully turn over using tongs. Add the rosemary to the pan and cook for about another 8-10 minutes. 

- Check your chicken is cooked through, you might need to cook it for a little longer if you have fat chicken breasts. Once cooked serve with a simple salad and boiled potatoes or the entire feast that Jamie serves it with (it does look pretty fancy and delicious).

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Donna Hay's chilli and eggplant pasta with parsley pesto

I wish I could say that I've been on a extended overseas trip or spend the past few weeks lazying on the beach or even come up with the next greatest invention.

But no.

I have felt unmotivated and not very hungry to cook and thats the utter truth. I'm sorry if my thousands of readers have missed my not so regular posts but I can only try and promise I will get better at posting but who knows?! maybe I will go on an exotic holiday somewhere far far away with no internet and then I actually have a real excuse! The only exotic things I'll be eating is what I cook up for myself in my little blue and white kitchen.

But on a more festive note... Who's excited for Christmas???? I am!!! Has anyone started Christmas baking or soaking fruit or even made their Christmas pudding or cake? I always wish we had a white Christmas where we got to all snuggle up in front of a fire and have warm roast lunches and play board games and drink hot chocolate and tea all day (or mulled wine). I guess if Christmas day was meant to be cold and not so nice weather it's great to plan a day inside or have snow fights outside but here in Australia Christmas days normally rain and it's muggy. Where is the lovely hot summers days we get in January?? maybe we should post-pone Christmas until January when the weather is more of a dry heat and not muggy and humid..hmmm. I guess ice cold summery cocktails by the pool, eating fresh seafood isn't really anything I should complain about hey?! Fingers crossed for sunshine this year!

Anywhooo... back on the blog posting front. The other say I made the chilli and eggplant pasta with parsley pesto from the new Donna Hay CHRISTMAS issue. (I'm such a fiend for Christmas magazines... gotta catch them all!) Super yummy and very easy! I adapted the recipe to feed two people but you could easily double or triple this for more people and it's a great new way of cooking eggplant. I'd never done it like this before but will defiantly do this again. It's go great with steak on the BBQ too!

First I cut the eggplant in half and then make a garlic, herby, chilli oil and brushed the cut side of the eggplant with the oil and baked it for about 20 minutes (the recipe says 15 but I'm finally getting to know my oven and everything normally takes a little longer than expected). Then I added some cherry tomatoes and baked it for a further 10 minutes (again the recipe says 5 minutes not 10). I then checked to see if the eggplant was cooked by poking it with a sharp pointed knife and if it went in and out easily... done! while the eggplant was cooking in the oven I made a sort of parsley pesto and cooked my pasta for about 10 minutes (or until al dente). Once the eggplant was ready and the pasta was cooked I tossed the pesto through the pasta and served up half an eggplant and some roasted tomatoes on the plate along with the pesto pasta. I was a little unsure about how this would all taste but BY GOLLY it was good! I didn't quite nail the presentation of this dish but the taste of of made up for it... really YUM! and easy too which is alway a bonus :)


Chilli and eggplant pasta with parsley pesto.

recipe adapted from Donna Hay magazine issue 78.
serves 2

1 clove of garlic, crushed
pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 medium sized eggplant, cut in half
200g cherry tomatoes
250g linguine (any pasta is good)
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

- Preheat oven to 200C or 400F.

- Combine crushed garlic, salt, pepper, chilli, lemon zest and only 2 tablespoons (40ml) of the olive oil in a small bowl. Rub or brush this mixture all over the cut side of the eggplant halves.

- Place the eggplant, cut side down on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 20 minutes.
(I always scrunch my baking paper under running water before so it's easier to fit in the tray and it also reduces the corners of the paper burning - Jamie Oliver tip)

- Meanwhile while the eggplant is in the oven baking make your pesto. Place parsley, mint, parmesan, remainder of the olive oil and lemon juice in a small food processor or mortar and pestle and process or smash until it becomes a sort of paste or the herbs are finely chopped.

- After the 20 minutes of baking add the cherry tomatoes to the tray and bake for a further 10 minutes.

- Cook your pasta for 8-10 minutes or until it is al dente then toss the hot pasta and pesto together.

- Serve all together and enjoy (the eggplant is super yummy scooped out and tossed through the pasta). 

Monday, 10 November 2014

Something a little different: Nostalgia.

Do you ever feel nostalgic about food? about a specific smell? Or even a lip gloss you used to use when you were in high school? Does it bring memories of your childhood or teenage years flooding back?

Or do you simply crave those memories and create that smell yourself?

Thats what I did tonight. Having a quarter life crisis at the moment and having a down day I wanted something that was home cooked that brought back memories of my mum's cooking when I was younger and had not a care in the world. It wasn't quite the same or even as good as her's but it filled our tiny apartment with the smell of my mum's cooking and it has given me a satisfied full tummy like when I was little. And I'm sure ever mum has their own version of chicken curry but nothing does it like your own mum's.

I remember asking for this curry for my birthday dinner one year catching my mum by surprise, normally I wanted to go out to the little Italian restaurant at the end of our street which served sizzling garlic prawns in little black pots. But I wanted mum's chicken curry.

So I thought tonight instead of sharing a recipe I've cooked from a book, I'd share my mum's chicken curry which always makes me feel like I'm home again. Given that I didn't have chicken and only turkey mince and no eggplant, only carrots and broccoli the photo looks a little different but the recipe is right. I know this won't bring the childhood memories back like it does for me but it's still a pretty damn good dinner, nostalgic or not.

What smell or home cooked meal takes you back to a place where it feels all warm and fuzzy?


My Mum's Chicken Curry.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 glove garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
500g chicken thighs, cut into rough pieces
2 tsp Keen's traditional curry powder (if it's not Keen's it wont taste the same)
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
400ml coconut cream
1 eggplant, roughly cubed

- Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and fry garlic and onion till golden and soft.

- Add eggplant and cook for a few minutes. Add chicken and cook until browned.

- Add curry powder, soy sauce, fish sauce,sesame oil, lemon juice and coconut milk. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes on low.

- Serve with steamed rice, tomato salsa (recipe below), cucumber cooler (recipe below) and poppadoms.

Tomato Salsa.

2 tomatoes, diced into 1cm cubes (roughly)
1/2 red onion, finely diced
pinch of salt and pepper
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

- Mix everything together and serve.

Cucumber Cooler.

1/2 cup light sour cream (or greek yoghurt)
1/2 continental cucumber, diced in 1cm pieces (roughly)
pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 tsp dried dill tips

- Mix everything together and serve.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Scallions (spring onions) and Parsley from It's all Good.

Quinoa. Who hasn't heard of this super food lately? it's everywhere! quinoa everything!!!

I am going to admit that when I first saw this ingredient everywhere I pronounced it 'Quin-oh-ah'. Yep, I was one of them. Until everyone told me it was actually pronounced 'Keen-wa'  I said it wrong for months. I then thought the ingredient was silly because of it's name. Then I tasted it. I was a convert. A super healthy grain that works well in salads and is a change from rice and pasta and also works well as a side and also filling out chicken patties or making veggie burgers from scratch. Plus you feel super healthy while you eat it knowing it's a superfood. Guilt free.

To go with the Beer Butt Chicken and Potato Salad I made the other week I also made the Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Scallions (spring onions) and Parsley from It's all Good by Gwyneth Paltrow & Julia Turshen. It was so fresh and healthy and really hit the spot as a side to the chicken. It was like the healthy opposite to the potato salad. I added some baby spinach leaves to it to add a little greenery and they worked well. I served it as a warm salad and it was really delicious.

I'm always a little hesitant when it comes to cooking things like quinoa and rice as I'm so used to making it in the microwave but since our microwave busted I am a stovetop girl now. It's not as scary as I thought it would be, it's actually really really easy. I followed the recipe for Perfectly cooked Quinoa and presto! Perfectly cooked Quinoa! Definitely have a go at cooking quinoa, it's easier than it seems.
Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Scallions (spring onions) and Parsley from It's all Good.

Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Scallions (spring onions) and Parsley from It's all Good.

serves 4 
(recipe adapted slightly)

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut roughly into 2cm cubes
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups of perfectly cooked quinoa (see recipe below)
3 spring onions 
3/4 cup chopped parsley
2 small handfuls of baby spinach leaves

- Preheat oven to 190C or 400F.

- Place butternut squash, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt on a baking tray and give it a good toss so that all the squash is covered in the oil.

- Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until soft.

- Whisk lemon juice with 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt. While the butternut squash is still warm but not piping hot, toss it in this lemon and oil mixture along with the quinoa, spring onions, parsley and baby spinach. 

- Taste and adjust seasoning and lemon juice if needed. Enjoy!

Perfectly Cooked Quinoa from It's all Good.

makes 3 cups
(recipe adapted into ml's)

1 cup quinoa
440ml water
big pinch sea salt

- Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh sieve.

- Place the quinoa, salt and water (cold) in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover with a lid or foil and cook for about 12-15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.

- Turn the heat off, place a dry piece of paper towel between the pot and lid (or your homemade foil lid) and let it sit for 5 minutes.

- Fluff with a fork and serve.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Yotam Ottolenghi's baked orzo with mozzarella and oregano from Plenty More.

We all know how much I love a good pasta bake right? Well have I found a winner for you!

Rich, tomatoey, vegetable-full, cheesy and full of flavour. Does it get any better than that?!

This months Delicious. magazine features an exclusive extract from UK Chef Yotam Ottolenghi's new vegetarian cookbook Plenty More. His previous vegetarian cookbook Plenty is such a fantastic cookbook even if your not a vegetarian because it has salad and side option which go great with any meat. It also has some great stews that most meat eaters will completely forget that there isn't any meat in the dish in the first place. This little snippet Delicious. has provided has made me want this new cookbook so badly (I might have to visit book depository after I finish this post). Plus this months (November 2014) issue of Delicious magazine is a gooden! definaly go out and pick one up. now. There is so many recipes in it getting you in the mood for summer and food which just makes you want to host a summer party. Plus this weather we're having at the moment in Sydney is pretty good too for wanted to host summer lunches with huge jugs of mocktails full to the bring of ice and fresh mint.

The recipe that caught my eye was the Baked Orzo with Mozzarella and oregano. Umm.... yum!

Yotam Ottolenghi's approach to cooking vegetables is to make them 'sing with flavour' and I have to agree. The few recipes I've made of his in the past really do show off how delicious vegetables are as the hero and not just the runner up on the side.

This pasta bake is a little fiddley in the fact that you need to fry the vegetables off separately then add them all back in the pan then pour everything into a oven safe dish to bake it. I kinda cheated in this section and used a oven proof dish to fry everything in then I didn't have as much washing up in the end.
Yotam Ottolenghi baked orzo with mozzarella and oregano from Plenty More

First I fried the cubed eggplant in some olive oil for about 8 minutes (yes I actually used a timer for this so I could kind of forget about it and come back and stir it every now and again while I chopped the rest of the goodies) then used a slotted spoon (or tongs) to take the eggplant out and let it drain on kitchen paper. Next I fried the carrots and celery for about 6 minutes and instead of taking them out of them pan I just added my onions and garlic and cooked it all for a further 5 minutes until they were soft.

I then added the orzo (which is also called risoni pasta) and tomato paste, gave it a good stir for a couple of minutes. Added the stock, fresh oregano, lemon zest and eggplant. I brought it to a boil then took it off the heat and added the mozzarella, parmesan, salt and pepper. At this point I should have poured everything into an oven proof dish but I was already using one so I just gave it all a good mix then arranged slices of tomatoes on top, sprinkled it with dried oregano, salt and pepper and baked it for 40 minutes at 200C (or 400F).

It then says cook until all the stock is absorbed but all my stock was pretty much absorbed before it went into the oven. I was a little worried I'd done it wrong and read the recipe wrong, again! But I re-read the recipe about 6 times and double checked the markings on my jug about 10 times and it all seemed right and it was a waiting game to see if it actually worked or not.

It worked!! YAY! It's going to be super hot when you take it out of the oven so let it sit for 5 minutes and then dig in! The cheese is stringy and vegetables full of flavour... this is also great cold the next day eaten straight out of the pot.

I defiantly recommend to give this a go if your a pasta bake lover like me. It brought back memories of my high school days and being surrounded by friends at my mums kitchen bench as we all devoured the easiest pasta bake known to 16 year old girls.

This will defiantly make an appearance again on our dinner table, it was freakin' delicious!

(I apologise for this photo... hunger 1 : dani 0)

Yotam Ottolenghi baked orzo with mozzarella and oregano from Plenty More

Yotam Ottolenghi's baked orzo with mozzarella and oregano from Plenty More.

serves 4
(recipe adapted slightly, excerpt taken from Delicious. magazine Nov 2014)

 100ml olive oil
1 large eggplant, cut into 2cm pieces
4 carrots, peeled, cut into 1.5cm pieces
4 celery stalks, cut into 1.5cm pieces
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
250g orzo (risoni) pasta
2 tsp tomato paste
375ml vegetable stock
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
120g mozzarella, cut into 1cm pieces
1/2 cup grated parmesan
3 tomatoes, cut into 1cm slices
1 tsp dried oregano

- Preheat oven to 200C or 400F.

- In a oven proof pot heat the oil on a medium heat and fry the eggplant for about 8 minutes, stirring now and then until golden. Remove from pan using a slotted spoon or tongs and drain on some kitchen towel.

- In the same pan (keeping the oil) fry the celery and carrots for about 6 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and good for a further 5 minutes until everything is soft.

- Add the orzo (risoni) and tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes giving it a good stir. Then add the stock, fresh oregano, lemon zest and eggplant. Bring to a boil.

- Remove from the heat and stir in the mozzarella, parmesan, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp grounf black pepper. Mix well.

- Arrange the sliced tomato over the top. Sprinkle with the dried oregano and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover (I used the lid to my pot but otherwise foil will be fine) and bake for 40 minutes or until pasta is cooked through.

- Let sit for 5 minutes before serving (or you'll burn the roof of your mouth off!).