Thursday, January 15, 2015

{Tandoori Chicken with Herb Yoghurt}

This is a killer dinner and if you are a little bit stepford like me and you love a meal plan then marinate the chicken a day or two before you want to eat it, you'll be happy you did.  Also like they used to in the 90's why not throw some leftover chicken on a pizza and once it comes out of the oven dollop on some of the herby yoghurt, its not cool but it would be quite retro and delicious.

...tandoori chicken

6-8 chicken thighs
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 x tbsp paprika
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 x tbsp grated ginger
3 cloves grated garlic
200g greek yoghurt

...herb yoghurt
200g greek yoghurt
handful mint leaves
handful coriander leaves
juice of half a lime
pinch of sea salt

Combine the chicken thighs with the rest of the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and leave in the fridge for a day or two, or at least overnight.

Preheat the oven to 250 and lay the chicken out in a single layer on a baking tray and cook for 20 minutes then reduce the heat to 120 and cook for a further 20 minutes.  Let the chicken rest for five minutes then slice and serve with rice and the herbed yoghurt (just combine all the yoghurt ingredients in a small bowl and give it a good stir).

Friday, December 19, 2014

{Spicy Potatoes + Peas}

If I ever want something from Jay like these in a size 38 preferably in time to wear to the "uncles" xmas day shindig because clearly if anyone will appreciate a sexy pair of shoes its them, then I make him this for dinner.  It's his absolutely favourite dinner and it could not be easier to pull together.  Thank god his favourite meal is not salmon en croute.

...the spicy spuds
800g potatoes peeled and diced
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 cloves garlic finely chopped 
1 tbsp ginger finely chopped 
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric 
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
freshly ground pepper 
25g butter
3 spring onions finely sliced 
1/2 cup peas (cooked in microwave for a minute or you could add to spuds for last few minutes)
2 fried free range eggs
greek yogurt 
a lemon or lime

Bring the diced potatoes to the boil in a large saucepan of salted water cook for 13 minutes then drain into a colander and let them sit and steam for a few minutes.

Pop the oil into a large frypan on medium heat, add the mustard seeds and once they start to pop add in the ginger, garlic, curry, turmeric and chilli flakes stir for a minute or two then drop in the butter and the cooked spuds season with s+p and cook for five minutes stirring often.

Serve with a sprinkling of sliced spring onions and peas (or sometimes I like to use diced cucumber) top with a lovely fried free range egg, a squeeze of lemon or lime and a dollop of greek yogurt. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

{Citrus Cake with Cardamom Syrup}

I cannot get my head around traditional xmas cake it is not something I ever want in my mouth.  I do love cake though and  always bring a cake to this festive picnic we have every year with our neighbours.  I came up with this syrup idea yesterday, I thought it, I baked it and I took it along to the park last night. It turned out to be a real christmas cracker of a cake.  A keeper.

She is pretty and sweet but also zesty and spicy with lovely little bursts of cardamom seed, not to mention as light as the clouds I gazed upon as I reclined on my picnic rug.  

So this is now officially my version of a xmas cake, a xmas cake for when it's 30 degrees and you are picnicking in a park surrounded by gumtrees.

...the cake
125g softened butter (plus extra for brushing the bundt tin)
2/3 cups caster sugar
a lemon, zested and juiced
an orange zested
a lime zested
2 x eggs
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
2/3 cups buttermilk

...the syrup
3/4 cup caster sugar
an orange zested and juiced
a lime juiced
3 slices of fresh ginger
4 x cardamom pods, crushed so the seeds can escape
thick dollop style cream to serve

Preheat oven to 180.  Brush a 20cm bundt tin generously with the extra butter.

Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, add in the zest of an orange a lemon and a lime, give it a mix then add in the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.

Juice the lemon you just zested into the buttermilk and give it a stir to combine.  Next fold the flour and buttermilk alternatively in batches into the butter gently and until just combined.

Pour batter into the bundt tin, even it out and give it a tap on the bench before popping it into the oven for 30 - 35 minutes.  Test with a skewer, cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning upside down onto a wire rack with baking paper underneath (for syrup drips).

While the cake is in the oven and towards the end of the baking time you can make the syrup by combining all the ingredients in a small saucepan, bring it to the boil stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Once it boils turn it down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes without stirring. Strain the syrup and pour it over the warm cake then arrange the candied orange zest and cardamom seeds from the syrup over the cake.  Serve with thick cream.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

{Mr Wolf Pizza Dough}

I've tried many pizza recipes over the years and was quite crap at the whole thing until I got my pizza stone.  Since then I've gotten a whole lot better at the home pizza making business and now I am killing it using Karen Martini's Mr Wolf pizza dough recipe thanks to my pal Rach.  

Also can I just say that I love that when I whip up a batch of this lovely dough I get to ferret away some lovely soft balls in the freezer making for a quick dinner after swimming lessons, in the time it takes me to whip off my bra and make a gin dinner is ready.  High five Karen, and Rach.

...the pizza 
800g flour
250g semolina
20g salt
2 sachets dry yeast (14g)
600ml mineral water / or tap water is just fine
50ml olive oil

Using a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the flour, semolina and salt into the bowl. Whisk the yeast, mineral water and oil in a separate bowl. Turn the mixer to slow, add the liquid all at once, and bring together to a soft dough. Once combined, turn the speed to medium and mix for six to eight minutes until you have a smooth, silky, springy dough.

Remove the hook and push the dough down into the bowl. Cover and allow to prove for 45 minutes in a warm spot.

Preheat oven to 220, pop your pizza stone in if you have one.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured bench and gently knead it with your hands, roll into a log shape and portion into balls as desired (6 or 8). Allow balls to rest for another 5 minutes under a clean tea towel.  Next roll or press out to desired thickness on baking paper. Add your favourite toppings and using the baking paper transfer it to your pizza stone and bake for 10-ish minutes, or until it looks done.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

{Spicy Crunchy Flatbread & Tuna Salad}

It is officially summer now and also officially the silly season. We drove out of the city today to find our small but perfectly formed christmas tree so as I sit here its lights are twinkling (flashing manically) and there is the smell of pine in the air (mingled with nachos) and a christmas movie on TV (that we've all seen a dozen times).  Summer naturally means salad, so here's a new one for you to try. It is so delicious, I think you'll really like it.

...the salad
2 large round flatbreads, rolled up tight and thinly sliced
1 x tsp cajun spice mix
2/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 x 185g tin of best quality tuna in olive oil or chilli oil

2 x lebanese cucumbers, halved longways and sliced
a punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup edamame beans
1/4 a red onion, finely sliced
3 shakes of tabasco
1 x tbsp red wine vinegar

juice of half a lemon
1 large handful of torn basil leaves
1 large handful of picked italian parsley leaves

sea salt + pepper
lemon wedges, to serve

Toss the sliced flatbread in the cajun spices and olive oil in a big frypan. Turn the heat up to medium high and cook for 2 - 5 minutes, or until the bread is starting to crisp and turn golden. Remove from the heat, add a generous sprinkle of sea salt and let them cool (and get crunchy).

I used frozen edamame beans so to prepare those you just add them to boiling salted water and cook for 5 minutes, then drain them and run them under cold water, then pop the beans out of the pods.

Mix the rest of the salad and dressing ingredients together in a large bowl or on a platter, season with salt and pepper and then top with the crunchy bread strips and serve with a lemon wedge.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

{My Granola}

I used to eat toast with peanut butter for breakfast everyday, then one day I got over it.  I tried some cereals and they mostly tasted like their boxes or had stuff in them I didn't like so I started to make my own.  I've been making granola for over a year now, every week I bake a new batch and I change up the nuts and fruit depending on what I feel like, or what I've got. I burnt a few batches in the beginning so you need to watch it, I would even recommend hovering nervously around the oven the first time you make it because your oven is different to mine and I'd hate for you to burn a batch, its a real pain in the ass. 

3 cups whole rolled oats
2 cups puffed rice
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup goji berries
1 cup nuts 
(almonds / macadamias / hazelnuts / pistachios)
1 cup dried fruit 
(sultanas / currants / dried blueberries / cranberries)

Preheat oven to 180.  Combine the oats, puffed rice, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and chia seeds in a large bowl, add in the salt, cinnamon, cardamom, maple syrup and olive oil and stir thoroughly to combine.

Tip out onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper, spread out and flatten it down with the back of a spoon.  Bake for 10 minutes then stir, bake for another 10 minutes then stir again, sprinkle over the nuts then bake for 5 more minutes so the granola is nicely toasted and the nuts are ever so slightly toasted.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool and become crunchy.

Once cool pop it into a lovely big jar, add in the goji berries and the dried fruit and shake to combine.  Eat with yoghurt and fresh fruit.  Feel good and healthy.

Monday, November 3, 2014

{Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream}

Oh my lord there are literally buckets of lollies everywhere, I've hidden some in the laundry waiting for the kids to forget about them, Halloween is to blame, don't get me wrong I do love it and afterall I am responsible for filling plenty of other little monsters buckets.  I was supposed to be a werewolf this year but one of the first kids to come to our house said (after yawning no less) "you're a puppy" ??!!  

Anywho the last thing we need right now is more sugar but I've been meaning to post these for a while.  My kids love my cupcakes, in fact everyones kids love my cupcakes, I feel like the pied piper when I produce a batch of these babies and they are so so easy.  Don't tell the boys that though, I'm not wanting to diminish my cupcake baking rock star status just yet.  

1 1/4 cups of self raising flour
2/3 cups caster sugar
125g softened butter
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

125g softened butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of icing sugar
food colouring
splash of milk as required

Preheat the oven to 180, pop paper cases into 12 holes of your cupcake / muffin baking tin. 

Pop all of the cupcake ingredients into the bowl of your electric mixer and beat on a low speed until combined then increase the speed to medium, high and beat for around 3 minutes or until completely smooth and pale in colour.

Spoon the mixture amongst the paper cases, I generally use two tablespoons to do this, one to pick up and one to scrape off.  Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until your cupcakes are golden and a skewer comes out clean.  Pop onto a rack and cool completely.

To make the vanilla buttercream beat the butter and vanilla in the mixer until very pale and creamy, add in icing sugar 1/2 a cup at at time and continue mixing til lovely and light and fluffy, colour the buttercream as you wish and if you feel it needs it add a few drops of milk to achieve your desired consistency.

Spread or pipe onto the cooled cupcakes. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

{Freekeh Salad with Cajun Chicken}

I went to the shops to get barley and broad beans and came home with freekeh and cucumber and this is what I made.  Watch this space for my barley broadbean idea because on a recent drive in the country and following a spot of pub lunch we stopped in at an apple orchard and I got me a lovely little pack of organic barley, once I get my hands on those pesky broad beans, well you know, there will be another salad recipe here! You can hardly wait I'm sure.

...the salad
1 cup of cracked freekeh 
2 x freerange chicken boobs
cajun spice blend (I just bought a jar from the market)
1/2 bunch mint, leaves picked
1 x cucumber, peeled, cored and diced
2 x sticks of celery diced
1/4 red onion thinly sliced
handful of toasted pine nuts
block of danish fetta, cubed

juice of a lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Rinse the cracked freekeh and then pop it in a saucepan along with 2 1/2 cups of water, 1 tsp of salt and 2 tsp's of olive oil, bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered for 15 minutes, then tip into a sieve, rinse with cold water and set aside to cool and drain.  Once cool pop the freekeh into your serving dish add in the mint, cucumber, pine nuts, celery, onion, and fetta, season with s+p and drizzle over 1 tbsp of olive oil, the lemon juice and give it a gentle mix.

Sprinkle the chicken generously with the cajun spices, put them between baking paper, and then bash to around 1 cm thick using a rolling pin.  Panfry them in a tbsp of olive oil over a medium to high heat, they should take around 3 - 5 minutes a side, remove from pan and pop onto some kitchen towel on a plate, sprinkle with sea salt and let them rest for five minutes before slicing into strips and serving on top of the freekeh salad.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

{Lentil + Mushroom Bolognese}

This is not, as it might appear a vegetarian recipe, but it easily could be, just leave out the pancetta and use a vegie stock.  It's based on my spag bol recipe but with a few changes, we've been eating more and more vegetarian dishes lately and I felt like creating something that had the same cosy vibe as a spag bol does but without the cow.  It turned out better than I thought it would, its really good actually as good as the original, the lentils are completely fabulous and using french puy lentils means they hold their shape which is cute, its also faster than the other version, well my version anyway as I let it simmer away for a few hours, actually writing this reminds me I should post my spag bol recipe as its taken years to get it just right.

...the sauce
1 brown onion, peeled, 
2 carrots, peeled, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
100g pancetta, chopped
4 large field mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
1 cup french puy lentils (rinsed)
400g tin of tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
400ml tomato passata 
parmesan cheese

Pop the olive oil into a large pot or high sided frypan and cook the pancetta, onion, carrot, celery until softened and starting to pick up some colour.  Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Next add in the bay leaves, thyme, lentils, stock and two kinds of tomatoes, reduce the heat to low cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45- 60 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Season with s+p.

Serve with spaghetti and parmesan shavings and a extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. (I also like a sprinkle of rocket or parsley.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

{Eggplant + Tomato Curry}

Heres a free kitchen tip for you, do not drop your jar of turmeric on the floor as you get it out of the pantry, and further more do not go on to clean it up with a wet sponge because you will create a lovely bright yellow paint that will hang on for dear life to any surface you happen to wipe it along.  Yeah don't try that.  It took me longer to clean up that than the curry took to cook. True story.  Oh and this is all about the extras don't skimp on the lime, yoghurt and coriander leaves they make it spesh.

...the curry
2 large eggplants, or 3 smaller ones, chopped into large dice
1 large onion, diced
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 x star anise
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
400g tin of tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of half a lime
greek yoghurt
coriander leaves
crispy shallots

Cook the diced onion in the olive oil til soft and golden, add the ginger and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the dry spices and cook stirring for another minute before adding in the eggplant.  Cook the eggplant, stirring occasionally for ten minutes until it becomes soft and is starting to pick up some colour.  Next pour in the tomatoes, and half a cup of water reduce the heat, cover and cook for half an hour.  Check the seasoning, add the lime juice and serve on rice with a wedge of lime, a dollop of greek yoghurt, coriander leaves and a sprinkling of crispy shallots.

Monday, October 13, 2014

{Red Lentil Dahl}

This is a nice little vegetarian dinner for two peeps.  Eating dahl just makes me feel good, great even, its like a bowl of magic.  I sometimes get a bit over cooking animals, we go whole weeks without it and its good you know.  Its good for our bodies and good for the environment, the house smells nicer and you feel lighter and bouncier. I'll never be a vegetarian due to the existence of bacon but I do appreciate a good vegetarian recipe and this is one of our favourites, its also dead cheap which is no bad thing.

...the dahl
100g red lentils
1/2 tsp turmeric
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
sea salt flakes serve
cooked rice
greek yoghurt
crispy fried shallots
coriander leaves

Rinse the lentils then cover them with a cm of cold water and bring them to a boil in a saucepan. Once the scum rises to the top, skim it off and add the turmeric. Turn it down to simmer while you make the tarka, take them off the heat once the water is absorbed and they are tender.

For the tarka, heat the oil and butter in a frying pan and add the cumin seeds. Once they darken, add the onion and cook until soft and colouring on the edges. Add the garlic and cook gently for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes, spices and a generous pinch of sea salt and cook until the tomatoes soften and the whole thing reduces into a paste and releases oil back into the pan, around 15 minutes.

Add in the cooked lentils, and gently simmer for another 5 minutes or so, or until the whole thing comes together. It should neither be too thick nor too watery. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding the juice of half a lemon. Serve with rice and topped with a dollop of yogurt some crispy fried shallots, and a sprinkle of fresh coriander leaves.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

{My Perfect Chocolate Cake}

First of all let me tell you that this is a compilation of a few different chocolate cakes, a bit of a frankencake if you will, but second of all I have to tell you it is the chocolate cake of my dreams.  I have baked plenty of dry and not chocolaty enough chocolate cakes to the point where I didn't even like chocolate cake and would despair every time one was requested.  

This was my last hoorah, I made it to celebrate fathers day and its perfect.  Its moist and chocolaty (and importantly stayed that way for days) and everyone including the neighbours loved it.  I feel so happy to have a chocolate cake recipe, sour cream chocolate cake with cream cheese icing you complete me.

1 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup water / or cold espresso
2 tsp's vanilla essence
250g butter, softened
1 1/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs

185g butter, softened
1 cup cream cheese, at room temp (very important)
115g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
Pinch sea salt

Preheat oven to 180.

Butter and flour two 22cm round cake tins, knocking out excess flour.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a small bowl whisk together sour cream, water and vanilla.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add some flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix well. Add some sour cream mixture. Mix well. Continue this process, ending with the flour mixture. Beat until the batter is smooth. Divide batter between prepared tins and smooth the tops, drop the tins on the bench a couple of times to get rid of any air bubbles.

Bake in the middle of oven 25 - 30 minutes until cooked.

Cool cakes in their pans on racks for 10 minutes. Then turn out onto racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting its really best to use an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese until really light and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and beat until combined. Place one cake on a large plate and spread with about 3/4 cup frosting. Put the second cake on top, then spread remaining frosting over the top and sides.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

{Roasted Pumpkin, Tomato and Chorizo Salad}

I'm all over a warm salad at this time of year, this is a favourite of mine in the warm salad department, its so pretty and colourful especially if you use a mix of different coloured heirloom baby tomatoes.  My local supermarket sells mixed punnets and they include red, yellow, orange and even purple, they are so sweet to look at and even sweeter to eat after roasting, lovely little bursts of warm tomatoey goodness. And you can't go wrong with chorizo, what salad is not improved by crispy chorizo.

...the salad
quarter to half a pumpkin (I like kent), cut into chunks
pinch chilli flakes
handful of fresh oregano (or basil) leaves
1 big red onion, sliced thickly
1 punnet baby tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 chorizo, sliced
2-3 handfuls baby spinach and rocket leaves
shaved parmesan

Preheat oven to 190.

Pop the pumpkin in a roasting dish and scatter over the chilli flakes, oregano and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over just enough olive oil to coat the pumpkin and toss gently to combine. Pop in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.  Next add the red onion, give it a toss to coat in the oil and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes then add the whole baby tomatoes, toss and bake for a final 10-15 minutes until everything is nicely roasted.

Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the chorizo slices for a couple of minutes each side until golden. Drain on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil.

Pop the salad leaves on a platter and then add the roasted vegetables and the chorizo, drizzle over the red wine vinegar and finish with the parmesan shavings.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

{Brown Rice, Tuna and Green Things Salad}

We have a new gelato shop in our neighbourhood and today we wandered over there with the kids for a try.  It was amazing, I am looking forward to daylight savings now and to more wandering there on a warm evenings. I had a coffee gelato which I always have but its my fav so why not, I don't mind having things over and over again if they are delicious. I drove Jay mad with ordering caesar salads every time we went out once upon a time before we had kids.  So anyways this salad is something I make over and over again, it started off as a Karen Martini recipe but I've tootooed with it a fair bit, it is filling, healthy and delicious, and makes for excellent lunchbox leftovers the next day too.

...the salad
2 cups of brown rice (I use 90 second sunrice to make it speedy)
2 handfuls of green beans, trimmed and cut into batons
40ml of extra virgin olive oil
20ml of sherry vinegar
juice of a lemon
1 tbsp of ground sumac
sea salt and pepper
185g tin of best quality tuna in olive oil, drained
handful of parsley leaves, chopped 
handful of mint leaves, chopped
(sometimes I add a handful of dill too)
1 cucumber, peeled cored and chopped
2 spring onions, finely sliced
3 soft boiled eggs at room temp or warm, sliced
handful pine nuts, toasted

Cook the brown rice, or pop the pack in the microwave for 90 seconds like I do.

Cook the beans in salted boiling water for 3 minutes, remove and then add the eggs to the boiling water and cook them for 5 minutes, remove them and leave them to cool before peeling and chopping.

Pile the warm rice onto a platter and dress it with the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and sumac, season with salt and pepper and stir through the tuna. Next add in the beans, herbs, pinenuts and spring onions, stir or toss with your hands then lastly add the eggs, and serve.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

{Jam Drops}

My little ones love these and they regularly feature as a lunchbox treat, I love that there is hardly any sugar in them, the jammy centres are sweet enough and they are simple and quick to bake with ingredients you most likely have in your pantry at any given moment.  You can also glam them up if you like by using a fancy jam like maybe a fig or peach, delish.

...the cookies
125g softened butter
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
185g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp milk
jar of lovely raspberry or strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 180. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Cream the butter, caster sugar and vanilla until pale. Add the flour, baking powder and milk and use a wooden spoon to mix the dry ingredients and milk into the butter mixture and make a soft dough.

Roll walnut sized balls and place on the baking tray about five centimetres apart. Flatten each ball then press a two centimetre wide indent in the centre of each with your finger or the end of your wooden spoon.

Bake in your preheated oven for 10 – 12 minutes or until lightly golden, remove from the oven and fill each indent with jam then bake for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Leave on the baking tray for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.