Monthly Archives: June 2013

Lasagna

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Now that I am actually aware that several of my family members do read my blog, (thanks guys!), I feel like maybe I should make things a little more PG rated. Not that I’m censoring of course, my life is very PG and there isn’t a single drunk photo of my anywhere.

Except maybe Facebook.

But anyways, on to the story of this lasagna.

The first time I ate this lasagna, I had had a lot of….apple juice.

And that apple juice was making me very happy…and chatty…and giggly…and dance-y.

It was just magical apple juice all around.

And so, when I first ate this lasagna I thought it was the golden god of lasagnas. Seriously, it was a legit party in my mouth.

So, when I decided to make it again, I was a little wary. I didn’t have quite as much apple juice on hand and I thought the lasagna might taste a bit, well, different.

But gloriously, it did not.

Apple juice or no apple juice, this lasagna is the bomb.

So I suggest you make it.

Now.

This recipe comes from my dear friend Mariann Foll. All the way from Norway, thanks love.

Lasagna
Serves 4

Ingredients:
500 g minced beef
1 can chopped tomatoes
1-2 onions, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup water or milk
Salt, pepper, basil (fresh / dried)
Lasagna Sheets (about one 250g box of instant lasagna sheets will do)
250g cheddar cheese

For the White sauce:
2 tbsp butter / oil
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
4-5 tablespoons cheese
A little salt, pepper and dash of nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.

Saute the onions until soft and then add the meat. Continue to cook until the meat has mostly browned. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and water / milk. Simmer for 10 minutes, and season to taste.

Melt butter / heat oil, stir in the flour and dilute with milk while stirring rapidly. Cook on low heat while stirring. Let simmer for 5 minutes, add the cheese and season to taste.

In a casserole dish, add a layer of meat sauce, then the lasagne sheets and white sauce. Add one more layer of lasagna sheets, another layer of meat sauce and cover with cheese.

Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes – until the sheets are soft. Leave the lasagna for 10 minutes after baking, so it will “set up” a bit.

Served usually with a salad and garlic bread.

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Filed under Beef, Pasta and rice, Recipes

Haloumi with mushrooms and asparagus

For a while I really wasn’t sure what the fuss was over haloumi. Honestly I hadn’t even heard about it much before coming to Sydney. Over here though you can find it everywhere. I guess it has taken over the place of feta or goat’s cheese in salads across the city. To be honest, I just kept seeing the name everywhere and for ages I thought it was a type of mushroom…not a type of cheese. But turns out, it is a cheese and it is darn tasty. So I decided to cook some for myself. This recipe is probably best done on the grill, haloumi has a very high melting point which makes it ideal for grilling or frying, but I don’t own a grill so I pan-fried this salty little treat. I simply seasoned it with some lemon juice, salt and pepper and paired it with some steamed asparagus and sauteed mushrooms. Simple, easy, done. And it’s under 500 calories.

Enjoy!

Haloumi with mushrooms and asparagus
Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs lemon juice
Cracked black pepper
400g button mushrooms, quartered
250g haloumi, sliced
18 asparagus spears
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Method

1. Preheat grill pan or barbecue.
2. Combine oil, lemon juice and pepper in a small bowl. Toss through mushrooms and haloumi.
3. Place mushrooms and haloumi on grill pan or barbecue and cook, 5 to 7 minutes, turning regularly to prevent haloumi from burning.
4. Steam asparagus, 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Arrange mushrooms, haloumi and asparagus on serving plate and scatter on lemon zest and almonds.

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The ‘everything starts with C’ salad

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Okay not everything, but it’s pretty close.

Living so close to the CBD in Sydney there never seems to be a shortage of available pubs for lunch. And luckily for me and my student budget, most of them do $10 meals during lunch on Monday to Friday. Which is really quite generous and also makes a lot of sense, because who else is really going to be at a pub at 1:30 on a Tuesday?

Students.

But we love it. I have my old local, the Abercrombie,  my new local, the Paddington Inn, my local that’s a little bit further away, the Imperial, my local when I’m in the mood for food with a more Mexican flair, the Norfolk…and the list goes on.

At most of these pubs the $10 lunches are really nice as well, the other day I had a haloumi salad with chickpeas and cherry tomatoes. (I told you I was on a haloumi kick). At the Abercrombie you can get chicken schnitzel, a plate of nachos, tropical calamari salad and peri peri chicken. It’s not like they simply dredge up some food that they wouldn’t normally serve because it’s being sold at a cheaper price. We feel the love from the pubs offering these lunchtime specials, and clearly we love them right back.

Even though a $10 lunch in Sydney is a great deal, it can be even cheaper. When I was having lunch at the Norfolk a while ago I had a delicious Mexican Chicken Salad and made a note of the ingredients in my iPhone. And the other day when I was craving it again, I decided to just head to the grocery store, buy all the ingredients I had listed and re-create it myself. And I realized I could make it for only $4.16 a serve. So the next time you’re down at your local enjoying a great meal, whether you’ve scored a sweet $10 deal or are paying regular prices, just jot down the ingredients in your phone and try to re-make it at home. It’ll most likely be cheaper, healthier and it’s a great way to get inspiration for meals during the week.

Enjoy,

Allie

The ‘everything starts with C’ salad
Serves 6

1/2 red cabbage
1 medium carrot
1 can of sweet corn
1/2 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1 packet of Taco Seasoning
2 chicken breasts
50g of cashews
1 avocado
1 lime

Sprinkle about 1/4 of the taco seasoning over the raw chicken and rub it so it coats both breasts evenly. Cook the chicken on a pre-heated barbecue until cooked all the way through.

While the chicken is cooking, and don’t forget to check on it, cut the cabbage into small pieces. You can cut it length-ways into strips and then continue chopping until all the pieces are bite-size. Put the cabbage into a large salad bowl. Use a grater to grate the carrot into small pieces and add to the bowl. Drain the corn and add to the bowl. Add the cashews, cheese and diced avocado. Cut the lime in half, squeeze the juice over the salad and mix all the ingredients together. When the chicken is cooked cut it into strips and place it on top of the salad.

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Double-chocolate lamingtons

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These awesome lamingtons were made last Australia Day. It was really great to be able to celebrate Australia Day in Australia once again. Last year I was melting in the sun at Big Day Out and unfortunately didn’t really get up to very much ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi’ chanting. So this year I made sure to have a few Aussie beers, listen to Triple J’s Hottest 100 and of course buy a pack of the mandatory Australian flag temporary tattoos to plaster on my arms. Unfortunately I did have to work, which got in the way of my drinking celebrations, but only for a few hours.

When there’s celebrations, there must always be cake. So I decided to make lamingtons, something I believe to be classically Australian. Many people are unsure of Australia’s cuisine. Maybe unsure is the wrong word, but many people seem to lament the lack of purely Australian dishes. I always associated meat pies with Australia but turns out Britain seems to have claim to them. Pavlova is supposedly Australian but if there’s a Kiwi in the room when you mention it there might be a bit of a scuffle. I don’t think it matters if you have a dish that’s pure ‘Strayan. The main thing I love about Australian cuisine is just how diverse it is. We have dishes with Malaysian influences, Irish, British, Greek, Italian, you name it. Salt and pepper squid is found all over Australia, in Thai restaurants, Italian cafes, Belgian restaurants. They all do it differently and that’s what makes it great. Some might even say that these double-chocolate lamingtons aren’t pure Australian because of the extra cocoa added to make the sponge chocolatey. Some have even called it ‘sacrilegious.’ I think that’s going a little far seeing as the essence is still the same and it’s just giving it another influence, another twist. Australian cuisine is unique in the influences that have come from all over the world. In last week’s Good Food David Chang of Momofuku pretty much summed it up, “If any country can get away from asking, “What’s our tradition?” and say, “Let’s just eat good food,” it’s definitely Australia.”

Double-chocolate lamingtons
Recipe from Dan Lepard

Ingredients

300g castor sugar
50g cocoa
75ml milk
50g unsalted butter
50g dark chocolate
50ml sunflower oil
4 medium eggs
100ml low-fat natural yoghurt
3 tsp vanilla extract
175g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder

For the coating (makes 750ml)

15g cocoa
50ml cold milk
175ml boiling water
200g dark chocolate, finely chopped
450g icing sugar
1-2 250g bags coconut (that is, much more than you would think)

Method

1. Line the base of a deep, 20cm square cake tin with non-stick paper and heat the oven to 170C (150C fan-forced). Put the sugar and cocoa in a bowl and beat in the milk. Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan, and add to the sugar mix along with the oil. Beat in the eggs until smooth, stir in the yoghurt and vanilla, and mix in the flour and baking powder. Pour into the tin, cover with a slightly domed sheet of foil and bake for an hour. Lift off the foil for the last 15 minutes. Remove, cool in the tin and, while warm, cover with cling film to keep them moist.

2. For the coating, mix the cocoa and milk until smooth, whisk in the boiling water, then stir in the chocolate until melted. Whisk in the icing sugar until dissolved and pour into a deep, wide jug. Cut the cake into nine, dunk each piece in the coating and fish out with two forks. Roll in coconut and leave to set.

Note: Lepard advises putting foil over the cake because it helps the cake rise more evenly. You’ll have about 250 millilitres of coating left over – just the stuff, he says, for lamington milkshakes with ice-cream and coconut.

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Filed under Cakes and cupcakes, Desserts, Recipes

Coconut crusted chicken tenders

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Just in case you needed some weeknight meal inspiration this week, here are some delectable coconut crusted chicken tenders. Perfect for a simple dinner with a side salad and easy to take on the go for lunch the next day.

Enjoy!

Coconut Chicken Tenders

Recipe from Can you stay for dinner?

(serves 4)

  • 1 lb chicken tenderloins or chicken breasts, sliced into long, 1″ thick strips
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Create an assembly line for easy coating of each tenderloin: Place all chicken strips on one plate. Next to that, place flour in a wide, shallow bowl. Lightly whisk eggs in another wide, shallow bowl. Combine panko, coconut, salt, and pepper in a fourth and final wide, shallow bowl. Now, take one chicken strip and toss it in the flour, shaking off the excess. Then, dredge the floured strip in the egg bath. Next, gently toss the chicken strip in the panko/coconut mixture, pressing to coat on each side. Place the coated strip on a plate or cookie sheet until you have finished coating all of the chicken.

Next, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat on your stove top. Add one tablespoon oil, swirling to coat. Add half of the chicken strips in a single layer, leaving space between each one. Cook for about 3 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove the chicken to a foil lined baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Add the remaining one tablespoon oil to the pan and then the second half of the chicken strips and cook for 3 minutes per side. Remove that second batch and place on the baking sheet. Set it in the oven for 10 minutes, so that the chicken tenders can cook through.

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Cobb salad

Apparently there has long been a dispute over who first created the Cobb salad.

Whoever is running around trying to claim that they were the first to throw a bunch of meat and stuff with some lettuce together might have to find something else to do.

As always, I just threw all my favourite ingredients together: blue cheese, bacon, avocado, eggs, tomatoes, ham.

Maybe no one ever thought of putting blue cheese in a Cobb salad before… which clearly means I invented Cobb Salad 2.0! Or better yet the Allie Salad. Time to invade Wikipedia and record my fantastic discovery. Betcha that’s what the original Mr. Cobb said…well maybe not that he’d wiki it, but I bet he was gosh darn excited.

Ingredients:

2 romaine hearts, roughly chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
3 eggs, hardboiled and chopped
5 slices of bacon, crumbled
¼ lb of sliced ham, chopped
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
Your choice of dressing

Toss together and enjoy!

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Chorizo, haloumi and zucchini skewers

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I’m still not really sure how I got away with making this for dinner last night. Basically it is just a combination of all my favourite foods (that I’m still eating at the moment, due to New Year’s resolutions and all that nonsense…) put onto a stick. But Ciaran still went along with it and enjoyed it.

You know why? Because putting food on a stick always makes it awesomer. The only thing I can currently think of that wouldn’t work is cottage cheese. Not sure why that particular ingredient popped into my head, but it was the first thing that I couldn’t imagine eating on a stick.

Take, for example, the gallery I did for my internship at Yahoo!7 Lifestyle ‘Stuck on Stick Foods‘. Within the digital pages of this masterpiece you shall find foodie treasures such as…..(drumroll)

French toast on a stick

Cinnamon buns on a stick

Chocolate moustaches on a stick

Brie and jam tarts on sticks

Mini grilled cheese on a stick

Even pancakes and sausage on a stick

When you think about it, doesn’t corn get better on a stick, doesn’t cotton candy get less sticky and all over your face on a stick (well for most people) and don’t you just sometimes wish you could have your very own giant meatball on a stick? (Yeah, that’s in the gallery as well).

Some of my least favourites would have to be the fried milk on a stick…or possibly even the cake pops but that’s just because I haven’t mastered making those yet. They now sit among my foodie foes, along with omelettes and custard.

The moral of the stick story however, is that you should take your favourite vegetables and cheeses and meats and combine them in a lovely stick party on your plate. I served this with a side of arugula dressed in just a touch of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a bit of shaved parmesan but that last ingredient was purely for flair.

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Chorizo, haloumi and zucchini skewers
Serves 2
2 chorizo sausages, sliced
1 lemon, for juice and rind
180g haloumi cheese, cubed
1 medium size zucchini, sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
To serve: 2 cups arugula, squeeze of lemon juice, dash of salt and pepper and sprinkle of parmesan

This recipe can be done either on the barbecue or in a pan over medium heat. Cook the chorizo for 1 minute on each side, remove and set aside. Cook the zucchini for 2 minutes on each side, remove and set aside. Thread the chorizo, haloumi and zucchini onto 6 medium or 4 large skewers. Put them into the pan and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, the garlic and then hold the lemon over the pan and grate a bit of lemon zest over the top of the skewers.

Cook skewers, turning occasionally for 4 to 5 minutes or until the chorizo and haloumi are brown and heated through. Serve with arugula salad.

And if you have leftovers, like I did, simply add some sauteed mushrooms and orzo for a second weeknight meal.

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Filed under Lunch, Pasta and rice, Salad