Monthly Archives: August 2012

Salsa Verde (Italian Green Sauce)

This recipe is not about the salmon but what is on top of the salmon. This is also the recipe I used to go with the Fresh Chicken Tacos. I’ve made this a couple of times now and always wonder why I don’t make it often. It is easy and tastes good on just about anything. The great thing about this base recipe is that it can doubled or quadrupled if needed.

I first came across this recipe in Jamie Oliver’s “30 minute meals” cookbook. I love it because no chopping is required. All that needs doing is putting all the ingredients into either a mini food processor (I found my large food processor was too large for the amount I was making) or using a handheld bar mix to blitz it up into all its greeny goodness.

Serves 2

1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 bunch fresh mint
1 clove garlic
1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 heaped tsp capers
2 cornichons (mini gherkins)
1 tbs olive oil
a grind of salt and a grind of pepper

Pick off the parsley and mint leaves and add this to either a food processor or container if using a bar mix.

Mix.

Serve with any meat or vegetables.

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Fresh Chicken Tacos

Who doesn’t love a taco? With the boom of Burrito Bars that seem to be overtaking my town of Brisbane I wanted to have a go at making my own Mexican food at home. I wanted to do everything from scratch. The tortilla, the spice mix for the chicken and a tasty salsa. I dug around in my recipe books, and poked around on-line until I came across a recipe from Donna Hay for Chicken Tacos.

I didn’t like the fussiness of her tortilla recipe though. Rubbing butter into flour? There’s got to be an easier way. And so my search continued. I finally came across The Homesick Texan website and her Flour Tortilla recipe. Much easier, and who better to take tortilla making advice from than a Texan!

I kept to Donna’s recipe for the spice mix that would cover the chicken except for the onion salt which I didn’t have. Next time I’ll kick up the chili factor as my “Mexican Ground Chili” mix was not spicy enough. As all things chili though you should really just add however much you want.

Makes 8 Tacos

For the taco insides:

4x200g chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder (next time I’d bump this up to 1 tsp)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
vegetable oil (I used avocado oil)
Various accompaniments: salsa verde, shredded cheese, avocado, sour cream, or whatever else you’d like.

The Tortilla’s

2 cups flour (plus extra for dusting)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
3/4 – 1 cup warm milk

First make the tortilla dough as it needs time to rest.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and oil with a fork until well combined. To this mixture slowly add in the warm milk until a sticky ball is formed. The original recipe called for 3/4 cup of milk but I used almost a cup.

Dust some flour over a surface (I used my kitchen bench, but you could use a chopping board) and knead the dough for 2 minutes. Once needed the dough should feel firm and soft.

Put the dough into a bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel for 20 minutes. Once the dough as rested, divide it into 8 equal portions, rolling them into balls in your hands. Put them on a plate and cover them with a damp cloth, this time for 10 minutes.

Once completely rested, take one ball at a time and on a sheet of baking paper press it down flat into a 10cm circle. Then, use a rolling-pin to roll it out as thin as you can. Don’t worry about making them a perfect circle as it makes them all the more charming. Continue to roll out the rest of the dough and cover with a damp cloth until ready to cook.

To cook, heat up a heavy based or cast iron skillet (I used my normal heavy based fry pan with spray oil to keep them from sticking) and cook the tortilla’s for 30 seconds on each side. The first side should be like the photo above, and should also puff up a bit. Don’t worry if once flipped the other side doesn’t look the same. Mine didn’t look evenly browned on the other side, instead having lonesome brown blotches, but they still tasted as they should.

Once cooked you can keep them wrapped up in a dry tea towel under ready to assemble and eat.

While the tortilla’s are resting, get the chicken spice mixture ready and let the chicken marinate in it for around 10 minutes. Once the tortilla’s are resting for the second 10 minutes put the chicken on a medium heat to start cooking. They should around 5 minutes each side, but if you’re not sure they are cooked slice into the thickest part of the thigh to check.

Once cooked, let the chicken rest on a chopping board for 5 minutes covered in foil (and in the meantime start cooking up the tortilla’s) and then slice up ready to stick onto the tortilla’s.

Assemble with your favourite condiments and gulp down!

The verdict from Richard was pretty adamant. His first remark was, “Awesome dude food”, followed by spilling half of it on his shirt, and then a smile of contentment and a verdict of “best taco ever”. You can’t really get a better endorsement than that!

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Chicken in Garlic Sauce – Pollo En Salsa De Ajo

It was hard to take a super appetising photo of this dish but I promise you it tastes delicious. This was served with a wedge of the Tortilla. Again, it’s just a few ingredients tossed together but which has tasty results.

When doing a tour of Southern Spain we went to a Sherry distillery where I bought a 2 small bottles of sherry. I gave one to my Mum to use in her trifle at Christmas and kept the other for myself. I wasn’t really sure what to do with it (leaving the trifle making to Mum) until I found this recipe. Of course, it you can’t get to Spain to pick up a bottle, any other sherry should work just as well.

I think next time I make this I’ll add in a few more cloves of garlic as I think my cloves were too small and my belief is there can never be too much garlic.

Serves 4

1kg chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
1 tbs sweet paprika
2 tbs olive oil
8-10 garlic cloves (for me, this was a whole head of garlic, but next time I will use more)
60ml (1/4 cup) sherry
125ml chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 tbs chopped flat-leaf fresh parsley

Trim any excess fat from the chicken thighs and cut the thighs into thirds. Combine the chicken with the paprika, as well as some salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to make sure every bit of chicken is covered in paprika.

Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat and cook the garlic cloves for a few minutes each side until tan in colour (not too dark) and then remove them from the pan. Heat the remaining oil and cook the chicken in batches (I did three) until browned on each side. Return all the chicken to the pan, add the sherry and boil for 1 minutes. Add in the chicken stock and the bay leaves. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

While the chicken is simmering, squeeze the garlic pulp from the skins, and in a pestle and mortar, or in a bowl with a spoon, mixed the parsley and garlic together to form a paste. Stir this into the chicken and cook, uncovered on medium for another 10 minutes.

I like my sauce a bit thicker, so after this 10 minutes I removed the chicken and reduced the sauce for a further 5 minutes before spooning it back over the chicken.

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Spanish Tortilla (Potato Omelette)

I first tried tortilla in a tapas bar in Granada when I did a tour of Southern Spain a few years ago when living in London, UK. I’ve wanted to try cooking it ever since. My first attempt was a few months ago when I hosted a BBQ and needed a yummy filling vegetarian option for my friend, Justine. This is my second attempt at it, and it was just as easy and yummy as the first time.

Please ignore my dirty stove top above! This dish involves a bit of chopping, and then putting everything into the one pan to cook together and for such few ingredients it is so so tasty!

Make sure to use a non-stick frying pan as it’s easier to then slide out onto a plate once cooked. This also stayed nice and warm in the pan, covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes.

Serves 8

500g potatoes, slice thinly (no need to peel them, I just cut off the unattractive bits)
60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
1/2 large brown onion, sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 tbs fresh parsley, finely chopped
6 eggs

Put the sliced potatoes into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil on a high heat and boil for 5 minutes. Drain them and set aside.

In a deep-sided non-stick fry pan heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent and the garlic no longer has its raw garlic smell, around 8 minutes).

Add the potatoes and parsley to the pan the stir the ingredients to combine, being careful not to break up the potato too much. Press the potato into a layer in the pan.

Whisk the egg with some salt and pepper and pour evenly over the potatoes. Cover with either a lid or aluminum foil and cook over a low-medium heat for 20 minutes. By this time the eggs should be set. You can then either leave this in its pan covered or serve straight away.

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One Bowl Chocolate Cake

Whenever there are birthdays in my team at work I always bring in the birthday cake, or whatever that person would like for their birthday morning tea. This time the request was for a chocolate cake. This is a super easy chocolate cake that only uses ONE bowl!

So I now think I’ve found my perfect vanilla cake recipe and now my perfect chocolate cake recipe. I’ll get the final verdict tomorrow for taste at the morning tea. I tasted some off-cuts though and they were tasty!

Serves 10

Cake
115g  unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Icing

125g unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tbs milk
1 tbs cocoa powder

Pre heat the oven to 160C. Place a piece of baking paper in the bottom of a loaf pan and spray the sides with oil spray.

In a large bowl cream the butter until smooth with a hand mixer. Add the brown and caster sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well, then the buttermilk and vanilla. The batter will look a bit lumpy but that’s okay.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together into the wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well-blended but not over-mixed. Scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. The tip here is to use a wooden skewer and not something metal, as even if the loaf is undercooked the metal skewer could still come out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for about 10 to 15 minutes, then remove it and place it back on the rack to cool completely.

For the icing, using a hand-mixer on high whip the butter until completely smooth and fluffy (around 1 minute). Sift in half the icing sugar 1 tbs of the milk and mix. Then add in the rest of the icing sugar and milk. At this stage I took some of the icing out (around 2 tbs) for the writing. For the remaining icing I added a tbs of cocoa and mixed that in. For the writing icing I added in a few drops of green food colouring before piping.

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Chicken Coconut Curry

I’m always looking to find new lunch ideas for work and needed a yummy curry recipe. I didn’t want anything spicy and I just so happened to have all the ingredients I needed to make this curry.

I ended up with a yummy creamy coconutty curry which only involved chopping up the chicken and onions and then throwing in a few spices and cracking open some cans and letting it all simmer in one pot.

Serves 6

1.3kg chicken (I used thighs because that’s what I had in the freezer)
1 tbs mustard seeds
2 tbs ground coriander
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
60ml olive oil
1 tbs coconut oil
2 tbs grated ginger
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 large onion, finely diced
400g can chopped or diced tomato
500ml coconut milk
1 lemon, juiced

Heat the coconut oil in a heavy-based pot or pan over a medium heat. Brown the chicken in batches and place on a plate.

Add the olive oil to the pan and once heated add in the mustard seeds. Once they start popping add in the chopped onions and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Add in the ginger and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes before adding in all the spices (coriander, cumin, paprika and turmeric) and cooking for another few minutes.

Pour in the tomatoes into the pot and simmer until it reduces to a thick sauce and add back in the chicken. Pour in 250ml water in and simmer for 20 minutes and then add in the coconut milk and simmer for another 20 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice and serve with basmati rice.

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Vanilla and Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake

I’ve been on a mission lately to find some great, fool-proof cake recipes as I’ve had many duds in the past. Mostly what happens is my cakes collapse or are dry. I finally found a lovely vanilla buttermilk recipe which I added lemon too, and also added on top a  lemon butter icing. I decided to try this recipe in a bundt pan.

I made this cake for a work morning tea (and we have a lot of them at my work!). I’m lucky that I have people at work who like to eat the things I bake. If I had to keep and eat it myself at home I would end up twice the size I am!

At the moment I only have a hand-held mixer to use when making cakes, and cookies etc. I am waiting for the day I get my Kitchenaid (Raspberry coloured) and have given Rich and my family notice I want it for my 30th birthday which is in March, 2014!

Serves 12

The Cake
250g (1 2/3 cup) self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
125g unsalted butter, softened and diced
275g (1 1/4 cup) caster sugar
80ml olive oil (extra virgin)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 lemons, zested
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
125ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk

Lemon Butter Icing
430g (2 2/3 cups) icing sugar
100g salted butter, softened
1 1/2 tbs verjuice*
2 lemons, zested and juiced

*Verjuice is unripe grape juice. If you don’t have it, it can be omitted.

Preheat the oven to 170C. Spray the bundt pan with oil to grease it which will help you remove it was cooked and cooled.

Sift the flour with the baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt into a bowl.

With an electric mixer (hand or stand) beat the butter, sugar, oil, vanilla and lemon zest on high for 3 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure to beat them in for 30 seconds after each egg. Add half of the flour mixture, and half of the buttermilk and mix on low speed until just combined. Add the remaining flour and buttermilk, scrape down the bowl and mix on low until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the bundt pan, tap the pan on the bench a few times to get rid of any air bubbles and flatten the top with a spoon or spatula.

Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 20 minutes, after 20 minutes cover the cake with foil and continue to bake for another 15 minutes (testing with a skewer and making sure it comes out clean – if not, cook for another 5 minutes or until cooked through).

Cool in the pan for 20 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack until completely cooled.

For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the butter, verjuice, lemon zest and lemon juice and stir until combined.

Move the cake onto a plate and pour or spoon the icing thickly over the cake.

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