Indian Spiced Chicken with Yoghurt

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curry1food blog 048.jpgCurries can be a complicated thing, so it’s not often I find myself cooking one. Making a spice mix or paste from scratch is an arduous process and my impassioned distaste for anything pre packaged from a supermarket shelf means sometimes I go without, especially when idleness strikes.

curry2food blog 046.jpgThis week however, I received a wonderful gift from a friend. Handmade with love and care, she presented with a bottle of homemade indian spice mix. So here I am, attempting to do her efforts some justice.

curry3food blog 045.jpgThe addition of yoghurt in this recipe was one of the best decisions I made yesterday….not really sure what that says about me but anyway….the yoghurt lends a slight sour flavour to the curry adding another dimension, it was well worth the try. One important thing I did realise though, make the curry a day ahead. It is really amazing how much the flavours intensify the next day.

Feeds 4

YOU WILL NEED

  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 large carrots chopped into large chunks
  • 1 large onion roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • 1tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 dried chillies crumbled
  • 2TB ghee
  • 3TB Greek yoghurt
  • 1 cup water
  • 3TB indian spice mix (get recipe)
  • small handful of mint leaves
  • 1tsp sea salt
  • 2tsp sugar
  • 1tsp cornflour (optional)
  • 1/3 cup hot water (optional)

PROCESS

  1. Heat the ghee in a large pot on a medium to high heat, add the onions and cook until they soften and turn a golden brown.
  2. Stir in the chilli, garlic and ginger and fry until the garlic has softened, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the indian spice mix (get recipe) to the onions and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Make sure you keep stirring to prevent the spices burning.
  4. Add the chicken and carrots and turn up the heat. Stir well to make sure the chicken and carrots are well coated with the spices. Keep stirring for 5 minutes.
  5. Pour in the yoghurt and mix everything until well combined, stir for another 5 minutes.
  6. Add the water, salt and sugar and bring everything to a low simmer.
  7. Pop a lid on the pot and simmer on a low flame for about 30-40 minutes.
  8. Check the chicken and stir the curry every 10 minutes to prevent sticking. The curry should thicken a little after 20-30 minutes.
  9. If you prefer a thicker curry, stir cornflour and hot water together to make a thin paste then pour into the curry stirring for a few minutes until everything thickens.
  10. Once the chicken is cooked, taste and adjust the level of salt and sugar to suit you.
  11. Garnish with mint leaves.
  12. Serve with steamed rice and a cool cucumber salad (get recipe) on the side.

Indian Dry Spice Rub

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spice1food blog 053.jpgThis is a gift from a wonderful friend, something beautifully fragrant, vibrant in colour and richly textured with lip smacking goodness. Dry roast a few spoonfuls in a non stick frypan before using to release the intense combination of flavours.

spice4food blog 048.jpgI’ve used this as the foundation to an Indian inspired curry (get recipe), but it would also work well as a dry rub on meat or fish before grilling. The base notes are coriander, cumin and fennel, their earthiness pairs well with the cool tang of yoghurt, so add some yoghurt to the mix if you wish. Alternatively, you could add coconut milk to the spice mix transforming it into a rich curry.

makes approx 3/4 cup

YOU WILL NEED

  • 6TB cumin seeds
  • 10TB coriander seeds
  • 6TB fennel seeds
  • 1.5TB fenugreek seeds
  • 1.5TB peppercorns
  • 2tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1tsp tumeric powder
  • 1TB curry powder
  • 3 cloves
  • 1.5 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1tsp salt

PROCESS

  1. Lightly toast all the ingredients in a dry frypan for about 30 seconds on low heat stirring continuously so nothing burns.
  2. Set aside to cool before using a spice grinder to crush everything into a fine powder.
  3. Store in a sterilised air tight jar until needed.

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Goodbye Summer 02 / A Very Simple Cucumber Salad

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cuc1food blog 045.jpgThis salad is a smart way to beat the heat. It is light, cool and thirst quenching and makes a great way to say a not so fond farewell to summer.

YOU WILL NEED

  • 3 continental cucumbers
  • 1 brown/red onion
  • 1 small handful of mint shredded
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt

PROCESS

  1. Make the dressing by combining the water, vinegar and sugar in a small bowl. Stir together until all the sugar dissolves and set aside.
  2. Slice the cucumbers and onion finely and place into a bowl with the mint.
  3. Carefully pour the dressing over the cucumbers, add salt to taste and toss until everything is well combined.
  4. Cover and allow the flavours to develop over a few hours, then enjoy.

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Goodbye Summer 01 / Chargrilled Chinese 5 Spice Chicken with Pickled Cucumbers

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5sfood blog 050.jpgThis recipe is the first in a series which celebrates the end of summer. It is now officially THE END, however you wouldn’t begin to even suspect cooler weather around the corner given yet another week of heatwave.

5s3food blog 044.jpgSo here begins my send off….

5s1food blog 051.jpgI am forever grateful for summers wonderful bounty and it will always amaze me that the most cooling of fruit and veg is born of such intense heat, but it is time to part ways and say goodbye summer, your scorching wrath will not be missed. Be gone now!

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feeds 3-4

YOU WILL NEED

For the Dry Rub

  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chinese 5 spice powder
  • 2tsp sea salt
  • 1TB peanut oil

For the Salad

  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 600g chicken thigh fillets diced into bite size portions
  • 2TB rice wine vinegar
  • 1TB sugar
  • 2 telegraph cucumbers
  • 1 small red onion finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup garlic chives chopped
  • 1/2 cup mint torn
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 birdseye chillis chopped
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves very finely sliced

PROCESS

  1. Dry roast your peanuts in a non stick frying pan on a medium heat for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly to make sure they don’t burn. Set aside to cool.
  2. Mix the salt, pepper and 5 spice in a bowl and sprinkle half over the chicken pieces. Drizzle the peanut oil over the chicken, mix everything thoroughly and leave to marinade for a couple of hours or preferably overnight.
  3. Make the cucumber salad by slicing strips of cucumber lengthways. Place cucumber, onion, lime leaves, garlic, chilli, herbs into a bowl.
  4. Combine the vinegar and sugar to make the dressing and set aside.
  5. When ready to cook, pre heat a bbq or grill pan on medium flame. Thread some bamboo skewers through the chicken pieces and char grill on the bbq for 3 minutes each side. Place cooked chicken aside to rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Assemble the dish by drizzling the salad dressing over the cucumbers and tossing everything until the vegetables are well coated.
  7. Arrange vegetables on a platter, remove the chicken from the skewers and place on the salad. Scatter the roasted peanuts over everything. Serve with the leftover 5 spice mix on the side to sprinkle on the salad as you wish.

Spiced Chopped Salad with Borlotti Beans

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cs1food blog 044.jpgOk folks, so the last week was spent dreaming up beautifully crafted cupcakes, inventive barbeque feasts and funky ice cream combinations. Cue mother nature and all creativity came to a shattering halt, doused by yet another heatwave.  Those who know me well have come to realise I simply do not function when the mercury soars above 30C.

cs2food blog 047.jpgSunshine is not always happy happy joy joy around here. In these parts it has the ability to kill any lofty cooking goals. This last week has pretty much been cooking free due to lazyness, over ambition and mere blahness in this heat, but today I  stepped into the kitchen to reclaim my mental and physical space again.

cs3food blog 046.jpgThis salad is of the ‘whatever you have in the fridge’ variety. You can pretty much throw all your favourite summer vegetables together or simply use all those odds and ends laying about. Usually I also add parsley and a variety of seeds… pumpkin or sunflower seeds, or walnuts, but my pantry was a little bare, so I left them out this time.

So chop chop, get chopping and treat your body to a vegan dinner this evening. It’s fresh, it’s lemony, it’s sweet, it’s earthy, it’s crunchy and most of all, it’s easy. If you prefer a 100% raw version,  use the cumin seeds unroasted and leave out the borlotti beans.

feeds 2-3 as a main

YOU WILL NEED

  • 2 tomatoes diced
  • 1.5 cups green capsicum diced
  • 1.5 cups red capsicum diced
  • 1 large red onion diced
  • 4 radishes diced
  • 1 large carrot diced
  • 1.5 cups corn kernels
  • 1 cup borlotti beans rinsed and drained (I used a canned variety)
  • 1 cup cucumber diced
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup pepita seeds
  • a handful of any herbs you have on hand
  • 1 qty tahini and cumin dressing (get recipe)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • squeeze of lemon juice

PROCESS

  1. Assemble all the vegetables, seeds and herbs in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Pour the tahini dressing over the salad and toss until everything is combined.
  3. Taste for seasoning and add salt or lemon juice to taste.

Sweet Tahini Dressing with Roasted Cumin

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tc1food blog 045.jpgHere’s another variation of a simple tahini dressing. This time it’s spiced with some chilli and cumin adding warmth which balances the sweetness of the honey beautifully. With every mouthful you will get a hit of sweet followed by a gentle heat, very delicious indeed.🙂 This works really well as a salad dressing but you can also use it as a sauce alongside simple barbecued chicken or fish.

makes about 3/4 cup

YOU WILL NEED

  • 1TB honey
  • 1.5TB  lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 3.5TB tahini
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2tsp sea salt
  • 1 large dried chilli crushed

PROCESS

  1. Dry roast your cumin seeds in a non stick pan over a low to medium heat for about 1 minute. Keep stirring to make sure they don’t burn.
  2. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool.
  3. Use a mortar and pestle to crush the seeds into a fine powder.
  4. Place all the ingredients for the dressing into the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth.
  5. Taste and adjust the balance adding more salt or lemon juice to suit your palate.
  6. The dressing will keep in a sealed sterilised jar for up to a week in the fridge.

Stuffed Conchiglioni with Kumera + Ricotta

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shell1food blog 044.jpgIt’s been ages since I last made this dish, usually it’s one of those things reserved for a rather self indulgent weekend indoors during the winter months, but a voracious desire for a cheesy hit in summer had me reaching for these giant shells. Making this and doing it well is actually quite an involved process, in other words, if you are one with very little patience, steer clear. This is neither a one pot wonder nor is it a flash in the pan dinner.

shell2food blog 046.jpgFirstly you need to make a beautiful red sauce. I deviated from the norm this time with the addition of gochujang (Korean chilli paste) and some cream cheese. The mild earthy heat from the chilli paste really gives the sauce a rich piquancy and the cream cheese, well, the cream cheese just adds to the cheesyness.

shell3food blog 050.jpgOnce the sauce is perfecto, you move on to making a filling with beautifully scorched kumera (sweet potato) oozing with caramelly sweetness, balanced with fresh and light ricotta.

shell4food blog 053.jpgThe pasta shells are then cooked and cooled, stuffed, assembled, then baked. Now, I’ve come across a few similar recipes claiming it takes only half an hour, but trust me, you will need at least half a morning, however the reward is well worth it.

feeds 4-6

YOU WILL NEED

  • 250g conchiglioni (giant pasta shells)
  • 400g mozarella cheese shredded
  • handful of freshly grated parmesan

For the Sauce

  • 700ml tomato passata
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 TB (heaped) gochujang paste
  • 1TB thin cream
  • 2TB cream cheese
  • 1TB dried oregano
  • 1/2 bunch basil leaves torn
  • good pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tsp sugar

For the Filling

  • 700g ricotta cheese
  • 6 cups sweet potato cubed
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1TB olive oil
  • pinch of salt

PROCESS

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C and prepare the sweet potato. Toss the sweet potato with some olive oil and a good pinch of salt and arrange in a baking tray.
  2. Smash the garlic cloves with the back of a knife and place with the sweet potatoes. Bake for 45 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender.
  3. Make the sauce. Gently saute the onions and garlic on a low to medium heat until translucent, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Pour in the passata, add the rest of the sauce ingredients except the basil leaves and simmer on a gentle heat for 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens and turns a vibrant red. Taste for seasoning and adjust to suit your palate.
  5. When the sauce is done, stir through the fresh basil leaves and set the sauce aside.
  6. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook your pasta shells according to the directions on the packet.
  7. When the pasta is al dente, drain and set aside to cool.
  8. Meanwhile assemble the filling. Mash the sweet potato and roast garlic with a fork. Stir through the ricotta and season with salt to taste.
  9. Fill your cooled pasta shells with spoonfuls of the filling and assemble the first layer of shells on an oiled baking dish.
  10. Spoon the tomato sauce over the top and add a layer of mozzarella and parmesan.
  11. Layer the shells, sauce, parmesan and mozzarella until you have used up all your shells.
  12. Top with mozarella and bake for 50 minutes at 180C or until the cheese is golden brown.
  13. Serve with fresh green leaves.

Luscious Lemon Curd

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lc1038Lemon desserts don’t usually interest me much, but they make most of my friends very happy. So today I made a batch of lemon curd  to keep a few of them smiling. Having your own little jar of sunshine is such a wonderful indulgence🙂

lc2043Lemon curd doesn’t really have to be a complicated thing to create as some recipes would have you believe. I use this no fail recipe every time I make lemon curd, it’s a one pot wonder if you dare, go on, it won’t fail you if you take your time…

lc3042You can use the curd in different ways, most commonly as a spread on toast for breakfast, but I made a triple batch and will use some to fill muffins for a bright bite size surprise.

adapted from David Lebovitz Improved Lemon Curd

makes approximately 1 cup

YOU WILL NEED

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (approx 2-3 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6TB butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1tsp lemon rind

PROCESS

  1. Place the lemon juice, sugar, eggs, yolks, rind and salt into a small pot. Whisk everything together.
  2. Place the pot over a low heat and add the butter. Whisk the butter into the lemon and sugar mixture.
  3. Once the butter has melted, increase the heat to a medium flame and continue whisking constantly.
  4. The lemon and sugar mix will soon thicken. You will know it is ready as the curd will resemble a thick custard.
  5. Remove from the heat and strain into a sterilised glass jar. Store in the fridge for up to one week.

Sambal Tumis Telur (Quail Eggs in spice paste)

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egg1food blog 019When I was a little girl, my mum used to make this dish quite regularly, it remains to this day one of my favourites from childhood. This is comfort food at its simplest, hard boiled eggs dressed in a chilli spice paste made from dried shrimp often accompanied by coconut rice and steamed greens.

egg2food blog 015The base of this dish is sambal tumis, a robust sauce/spice paste that has this magical abillity to add great depth and complexity to the simplest of ingredients. It works particularly well with everyday ingredients like eggs, seafood and tofu. The main component of this fiery paste is chilli.

st5food blog 153The chilli can be used in either dried form or in combination with fresh birdseye chillis and blended with onions, garlic, shrimp paste and a few other things. My mums recipe calls for a large amount of oil but I think this is the case with most spice pastes, you simply deal with it and move on.

egg3food blog 017A few tips before you begin, firstly, open every single window and door of the house, the belachan (shrimp paste) is incredibly pungent and even more so when you add heat to it. Secondly, you will need patience on your side as there will be a lot of standing and stirring. Thirdly, pop outside quickly for some fresh air every now and then as the vapours released when cooking the chillis will have you sneezing repeatedly.

egg4food blog 018I think it is a better idea to make a large batch of the sambal. It is easier this way to separate the sambal into smaller portions and store it in the freezer, it keeps for longer and all you need to do is defrost it before using. You can store it in the fridge as well, just use a clean glass jar and store the sambal in oil. It should last several weeks.

feeds 4

YOU WILL NEED

  • 24 quail eggs, hard boiled
  • 6 chicken eggs, hard boiled
  • 2 large onions sliced into rings
  • 100g fried tofu diced into large cubes
  • small handful of spring onion slices to garnish
  • 1TB vegetable oil

For the sambal tumis

  • 15 dried chillis soaked for 20 minutes
  • 2 fresh birdseye chillis roughly chopped
  • 2 large onions chopped
  • 1 garlic bulb cloves seperated and chopped
  • 3 candlenuts
  • 5cm piece of toasted shrimp paste
  • 2TB tamarind
  • 3TB sugar
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

PROCESS

  1. Make the sambal tumis. Place all the ingredients (except the oil) for the sambal into a food processor and blend until you get a smooth paste. You can add a little water at this point and blend again if you like your paste ultra smooth.
  2. Heat the oil in a large wok. Fry off the sambal on a low heat until the paste turns a little darker. It should take 10-15 minutes.
  3. Keep stirring and watching the heat as the sambal will burn very easily. Cook the sambal on a very low heat stirring constantly for another 20 minutes.
  4. You will notice the paste bubble and spit and begin to thicken. Keep stirring for another 10 minutes. The chilli paste will begin to absorb the oil and the amount of oil should have at least halved.
  5. After a good 50 minutes or so of constant stirring, you can take it off the heat to cool. Store in a sterilised glass jar until needed.
  6. In the meantime, prepare the eggs and tofu by heating a little oil in a large frying pan and cooking the onions. Fry them on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes or until translucent.
  7. Add the eggs and tofu and stir through the onion mixture.
  8. Pour half a cup of the sambal tumis into the pan and stir fry until everything is well coated.
  9. Taste and adjust the levels of salt or sugar as you desire.
  10. Sprinkle fresh spring onion as a garnish and serve with coconut rice and some steamed Chinese greens.

Summer Fruit Salad with Sweet Lemon + Mint

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fs2food blog 033As far as easy days go, this recipe is the epitome….Don’t bother getting your measuring cups or scales out, there will be none of that business. There will be no weighing nor will there be any quantities. Just wing it…

fs1food blog 036You will need to peel some kiwi and chop it up, use a melon baller for cute, petite balls of watermelon and rockmelon, diamond slice a mango then scoop out the mango pieces. Oh, also, tear up some mint and throw that into the fray. The mint livens things up a little.

fs3food blog 035You will also need some home made lemon syrup (get recipe). I tend to have bottles of the stuff in my fridge, never know when it may come in handy😉 How much syrup you use is really up to you, taste things and see how you go. I also crushed up some mint leaves to release its oils. Pop them into some syrup to infuse but don’t forget to remove the leaves before you use the syrup.

fs4food blog 028Finally, toss everything together and enjoy🙂

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