Category Archives: Main Meal

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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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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Tagliatelle with Garlic Butter, Prawns and Bacon

 When Richard is working either an afternoon or night shift I tend to make things for dinner that he wouldn’t like. I also tend to go for quick and easy to maximise my uninterrupted time in front of the TV. This time I chose to try a new recipe. A big bowl of pasta on a cold night, juicy prawns, crispy bacon and lots and lots of garlic. Perfect!

 To the recipe I found online at Taste.com.au I added in one shallot and an extra garlic clove. I also cooked a serving of pasta for two, and, um, ate it all.

Once everything was chopped up and the pasta cooked it took around 10 minutes until it was in the bowl ready to eat.

 Serves 2 (supposedly)

200 grams raw prawn meat
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 eschalot, finely chopped
1 rasher of bacon, chopped
115 grams tagliatelle (or any pasta of your choice)

Put a saucepan of water on to boil, and once boiled cook the pasta following the directions on the packet. Once cooked drain and keep aside.

Prepare the garlic butter mixture by placing the butter, lemon juice and garlic in a microwave safe container and microwaving for 20 seconds or until the butter has melted. If you don’t have a microwave, mash the butter, lemon juice and garlic up using a fork.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a frypan on a medium heat and saute the eschalot for around 5 minutes or until it just starts to change colour. Then add the bacon and cook a few more minutes until starting to crisp.

Remove the eschalot/bacon mixture and place on paper towel to drain.

Pour the butter mixture into the pan and then add in the prawn meat. Once cooked (should only take 3-4 minutes) add back in the eschalot/bacon mixture and add in the pasta. Mix it all up and serve in a big bowl. Inhale.

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Lamb Cutlets with Orange-Walnut Cous Cous

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Lamb is one of my favourite types of meat and lamb cutlets is the perfect vessel for it. Easy to eat, quick to cook and always so tender and sweet. I decided to pair the cutlets with a cous cous salad and roasted pumpkin (because that’s the only vegetable I had left in the fridge).

ImageThis was a quick and easy mid-week meal that involved a bit of chopping and putting together while the grill pan and oven did the rest. I was also trying to prove to Richard that a meal with meat didn’t have just tobe served with potato and with a challenge of “I don’t really like cous cous”.

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Serves 2

6 lamb cutlets
salt
pepper
olive oil
200g pumpkin, diced
3/4 cup cous cous
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
1 orange, segmented
1/2 spring onion, finely sliced

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Dice the pumpkin, season with salt and pepper and toss in olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes or until the edges start going brown.

Chop up the herbs, walnuts, slice the spring onion and segment the orange and put into a bowl together.

Season both sides of the lamb cutlets with salt, pepper and oil and grill in either a pan or grill-pan over a medium-high heat for around 4-6 minutes per side depending on how well you like them cooked.

While the lamb is cooking pour 3/4 cup of water into a saucepan with a splash of oil and bring to the boil with a lid on. Once boiling throw the cous cous in, stir it into the water, remove the saucepan from the heat and leave for 3 minutes covered. After 3 minutes remove the lid and fluff up with a fork. Mix it in with the chopped herb mixture.

Serve with the pumpkin and lamb cutlets over the cous cous.

Verdict from Richard: I really liked that cous cous. Success!

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