Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Creamy Bean and Avocado Wrap

Don't feel like hanging over a hot oven in this weather? Neither did I so a quick yummy wrap was on the menu. Use whatever you have on hand for the filling. I made coleslaw as there were bits and pieces hiding in the back of the fridge. You could use kidney or black beans as well.

serves 2
takes 20 minutes
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage, red/white or bit of both
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1/4 small fennel bulb, finely sliced (optional as it's going out of season)
  • 1 small red apple, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 can white beans, rinsed
  • 1-2 ripe avocados
  • 2 tsp spicy harissa paste or chopped up chilli - something to give the bean mixture a kick
  • 4 wholewheat wraps, or tortillas
  1. Finely chop the cabbage and coriander, grate the carrot & apple, slice the fennel, toss to combine with mayonnaise.
  2. Mash beans and avocado in another bowl with a potato masher or fork. Stir through some harissa paste to taste.
  3. To assemble the wraps, spread the bean-avocado mixture onto a wrap and top with the cabbage-carrot slaw. Roll up & enjoy!

Smoked Fish & Soft Boiled Egg Salad

Love smoked Warehou which I grabbed for this quick & easy salad served with Speedy Mayonnaise with the zest of one lemon added to give it a more lemony taste.

serves 2
takes 30 minutes
  • 6-8 baby new potatoes, skin scrubbed 
  • 1 large bunch of asparagus, woody ends snapped off, blanched 
  • 2 cups wild rocket leaves or baby spinach leaves
  • 4 free-range eggs, soft boiled. I like Jamie's method
  • 500grams smoked fish in chunks, skin and bones removed
  • 2 spring onions or red onion, finely sliced
  • Speedy Mayo or shop bought - I added the zest of one lemon
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • sea salt
  • Lemon zest for servng
  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC
  2. Scrub the potatoes, place into an oven dish and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and tender, then halve.
  3. Make up some Speedy Mayo or use shop bought. Add the zest of one lemon.
  4. Break the woody ends of the asparagus spears and blanch for 1-2 minutes in boiling, salted water, then plunge into cold water to retain the bright green colour.
  5. Wash the salad leaves, discarding any thick stalks.
  6. Boil the eggs for 5 minutes in salted water for a soft runny centre. Drain and place eggs into cold water, peel when slightly cooled and halve.
  7. To assemble, spread the rocket on a large platter. Mix the fish, potatoes and spring onion with the mayonnaise and add to platter.
  8. Scatter the asparagus spears over the top, then add the eggs, making sure the yolks face upwards. Grind over some freshly cracked pepper and grate over some lemon zest and enjoy!

Adapted from Cuisine issue #114

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Asparagus, Baby Spinach & Bocconcini Salad

Whipped up (or should that be tossed up??) this salad tonight to go with a simple seared Tuna steak. Adapted from Cuisine with a few short cuts thrown in it had us both fighting for the last bits on the plate...not a bad result for a salad!

  • 2-3 gloves of garlic
  • sea salt
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 large bunches of asparagus, woody ends snapped off, blanched
  • 1/4 fennel bulb, tough outer layer removed, sliced very thin
  • 3-4 cups baby spinach, washed
  • 4-6 balls of bocconcini, coarsely torn into chunks (or mozzarella or feta cheese)
  1. Place garlic, sprinkle of sea salt & crack of pepper, pine nuts, lemon juice, olive oil and half the parmesan cheese in a narrow bowl or jug and whizz with a hand held or wand mixer until everything is mixed. Make sure the pine nuts are all chopped up, add more oil if dressing is too thick but I prefer it thicker rather than runny. Set aside in the fridge.
  2. Prepare the salad - cook asparagus in salted boiling for about a minute, drain then blanch in cold water. When cooled sliced in half down the middle. Place into a large salad bowl along with the thinly sliced fennel, baby spinach and bocconcini.
  3. Pour over dressing, sprinkle over rest of the grated parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Kung Pao Chicken with Asian Greens

This is adapted from Mindfood Magazine and is a great weekday meal to whip up.

serves 4
takes 40 minutes
  • 800g free range chicken thigh fillets, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine or white wine
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tbsp water - mix together or you can use Chinese black vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp sesame oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (depends how hot you like it)
  • 2 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil or other suitable cooking oil
  • 4 spring onions, cut into 5cm pieces
  • 5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 bunches baby bok choy, sliced lengthways
  • toasted sesame seeds (optional)
  • 1/3 cup dried roasted peanuts (optional)
  • rice to serve
  1. Combine chicken, wine, vinegar mix, soy sauce, pepper, sesame
    oil, chilli flakes & garlic in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain chicken from marinade, reserving marinade. Add cornflour & chicken stock to marinade & mix together.
  3. Heat half the oil in a wok over a high heat and cook chicken in batches, searing on all sides. Remove and set aside (it should still be pink in the middle as you will add it back to the pan).
  4. Add spring onions & ginger to wok and stir fry for 1 minute. Return chicken, add marinade & stir fry for 3 minutes or until the sauce boils and thickens. Place in serving bowls.
  5. Add boy choy to wok and stir fry until just wilted.
  6. Serve with chicken, peanuts, rice and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Qǐng xiǎngyòng!

Spring Tart with Asparagus

Been waiting for spring to arrive and now asparagus is in the stores just waiting to be made into yummy things like this tart which comes from The French Market cookbook with some changes, Alisa style. The pastry is easy to make as you can do it in a food processor, but if you don't have time substitute with 1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry, like I've used in the first photo vs homemade pastry below. You can also buy caramelized onions but they are really easy to make if you have 30 minutes.

Ingredients for the pastry or 1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour (or all purpose)
  • 1/2 cup all natural plain yoghurt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
Method for the pastry
  1. In a food processor add all the above ingredients and mix together in short pulses until the dough starts to come together.
  2. Turn out onto a clean surface and knead lightly until it forms a ball. Add a little flour or few drops of water to reach a workable consistency.
  3. Flatten it into a thick disk or square, to match the shape of the tart you plan to make.
  4. Wrap in gladwrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight. Return to just below room temperature before using.
Ingredients for tart topping
  • Onion Jam: 2 tbsp olive oil; 3 large red or white onions, peeled, thinly sliced; 2-3 tbsp of honey
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bunches asparagus (I used thin ones)
  • half block feta
  • 1 lemon, zested 
  • freshly cracked pepper
  1. Heat oven to 200oC.
  2. To make the onion jam, put the olive oil, onions and honey in a saucepan over a high heat and stir well for a couple of minutes. Turn down the heat and let the onion mixture simmer for around 30 minutes stirring occasionally until the onions are very soft and remove from heat to cool.
  3. Roll out the dough to fit the size of your tart tin. You can do this between two baking sheets if it gets too sticky.
  4. Gently spread the onion jam over pastry and arrange asparagus decoratively on top of onions.
  5. Crumble big chunks of feta over the top.
  6. Bake until asparagus is roasted, feta has softened and crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  7. Serve with strips of lemon zest and freshly ground black pepper over the top. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Annabel's Speedy Mayo

Thank you Annabel Langbein - this recipe rocks. I hadn't been able to buy the Mayo I normally use (the one brand that uses free range eggs) but found myself needing some to bring my Spicy Fish Tacos to life. Never made Mayo before as I always thought it was complicated...I know, pouring oil slowly just seemed a bit of a drag to me. Now, I'm never buying it again!

takes 5 mins
makes 1 ½ cups
  • 2 free range large eggs
  • 3 - 5 tbsp lemon juice (I like mine zingy)
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard, I've also used Bush Honey Mustard which is great if you want a bit of texture and mild honey like taste
  • ½ tsp salt (I used Volcanic which has a unique taste & is packed with minerals)
  • a good pinch of white pepper
  • 1¼ cups neutral oil (I used Grapeseed)
  1. Place all ingredients in a narrow bowl or jug and whizz with a hand held or wand mixer (this is key – it won’t work in a food processor because it needs the speed of the wand to make it emulsify). 
  2. It will thicken at once to create a creamy mayonnaise. 
  3. Add ¼ cup more neutral oil if desired to create a thicker mayo or a little hot water to give a thinner consistency. 
  4. Mayo will keep for up to 2 weeks in a jar in the fridge. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Poor Man's Pesto

Traditional pesto calls for pine nuts & basil which can be expensive so I've swapped out a few ingredients. 

This recipe is great for using up those almost manky spinach leaves you have hanging around the bottom of the fridge or any type of green leaf vegetable such as kale, swiss chard or silverbeet. With the exception of baby spinach leaves I lightly steam my greens beforehand.

I've swapped out the pine nuts for walnuts but I've also used unsalted cashews with great success. I'm continuing experimenting with different types of nuts such as almonds, cashews, Macadamia, brazil & pecans. I always toast them slightly first as it helps to bring out the flavour, for example, walnuts can be bitter and toasting them brings out their sweet nutty flavour. I also try & buy nuts in their shells as they keep longer in the fridge plus you get the added bonus of cracking them open (I use a hammer!) for a bit of after work stress release.

makes enough for 3-4 people
takes 20 minutes
  • Packet of pasta, fresh or dried, cook following packet
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts, toasted. Depending on the type of nut used I sometimes increase the amount
  • Bunch of kale or leafy green, roughly chopped & steamed slightly, I normally end up with about 1 - 1 1/2 cups. Drain after steaming but you don't need to be too fussy about draining all the liquid, just add it into the blender. Sometimes, I blanch in cold water but I forgot to do this last night & didn't notice any difference. Just make sure you don't over cook the greens.
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil, start with less & add more if you want a smoother consistency
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (I love a garlicky pesto so add less if you aren't a fan)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • crack of sea salt & freshly cracked pepper
  1. Cook pasta according to packet instructions, drain & set aside.
  2. Lightly steam the roughly chopped leafy greens, drain until most of the water is gone and throw into a food processor.
  3. Toast the nuts either on a oven tray at 180oC or in a pot over medium-high heat until golden brown. Keep an eye on them! 
  4. Place the nuts, cheese, olive oil, garlic, lemon & seasoning into the processor & puree until smooth. Check to see if you need to add more parmesan, olive oil or seasoning.
  5. Into the drained pasta tip pesto in and mix until all the pasta is coated with the yummy pesto. Serve with some freshly cracked pepper & a bit more parmesan cheese. Enjoy!