Tag Archives: Cook

Jamie’s coconut buns with chicken stir-fry

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This is another recipe from one of Jamie Oliver’s latest books 15 Minute Meals. So far none of them have been close to the fifteen minute mark but they’re quite tasty nonetheless. After the success of Jamie’s seared tuna with jiggy jiggy greens I decided to give another recipe a go. This one stood out due to the lack of complicated ingredients and I was really curious to see how these coconut buns would come out. I simply followed the recipe and made the dough in a food processor and then steamed them and surprisingly they came out looking pretty profesh if I do say so myself.

However, I wasn’t a huge fan of the taste- I did use all the coconut milk but they didn’t have a very strong coconut taste. They were a bit bland and I didn’t feel like there was enough sauce to scrape up with the buns. When I make this recipe again I think I’ll do the chicken stir fry with Jamie’s coconut rice instead and see how that goes. Overall it was a good weeknight recipe and I loved the simple flavours of the stir fry.

I used an adapted version of Jamie’s recipe that stir fries the chicken and veggies instead of steaming them.

Coconut buns with stir fried chicken and veggies
Serves 4
See the recipe here

Ingredients:

For the coconut buns:
270g tin of light coconut milk
Use the empty coconut milk can to measure out two cans worth of self-raising flour

For the chicken:
1 tsp vegetable oil
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, thinly cut
100g mushrooms, I used shiitake and button
1 bunch of broccolini, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons oyster sauce, plus extra to serve
2 tablespoons lightly toasted sesame seeds
Lime wedges, to serve

Directions:

1. For the coconut buns: Pour the coconut milk into a food processor. Use the empty tin to measure out the self-raising flour, you’ll want two tins worth of flour. Add the flour and 1/2 tsp of salt to the food processor and process until a dough forms. Lightly knead the dough onto a lightly floured surface, then roll out small balls of dough. I was able to make about 9 small buns. If the dough is too sticky just add some more flour to your workspace and your hands.Place the dough into large muffin cases and place, in a single layer, into a steamer basket with a lid. Put the steamer over a pot of boiling water and steam for 10 minutes.

2. For the chicken: Place a wok over high heat and add the vegetable oil. When hot, add the chicken in pieces and stir until the chicken is browned, about 3 minutes.

3. Place the broccolini in a microwave-safe container and microwave for 50 seconds.

4. Add the broccolini and mushrooms to the wok with the chicken and stir for 1 minute. Add the oyster sauce and stir until the chicken and veggies are coated and heated through.

5. Serve the chicken and vegetable stir-fry with the coconut buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and squeeze a bit of lime juice over the top.

 

 

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Guest post: Super easy breakfast tarts

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Living with two girls who turn out to be fantastic cooks has its apparent advantages. I can no longer count on two hands how many times I’ve wandered into the girls’ apartment to smell something amazing being baked/cooked/fried/prepared, roughly ten seconds before platters of food get shoved in my face accompanied with inquisitive stares that scream “what do you think? (and don’t you dare say anything bad about it!)”. Despite this pressure, these girls know how to cook and I can’t remember ever having anything bad to say about any of their creations. There’s definitely nothing more amazing than coming home after an epic night bartending and seeing an aluminium (sorry Allie, ‘aluminum’) foil-wrapped plate full of goodies waiting to be heated up and consumed at record pace. So I can’t really have anything to complain about right?

Unfortunately, skilled as Allie and Kahina are, there is one hugely embarrassing downside. Any time I attempt to create something of my own, it’s inevitably followed by ‘so-you’re-really-going-to-try-putting-those-ingredients-together’ stares, and two pairs of waiting eyes watching to see what my next culinary disaster will yield.

Take for example the last time Kahina made crepes. She is a genuine whizz when it comes to these things, I’m pretty sure making crepes is as inherent to French DNA as making pastries or appreciating fine wine. Anyway, Kahina was making us all breakfast and I, attempting to get in the spirit of things said “why don’t I try making my own?”. Cue raised eyebrows. Five minutes later what can only be described as a crepe batter explosion is all over the pan and surrounding benches and Kahina and Allie in stitches as I try to repair the damage to my breakfast. Crepes 1, Ciaran 0.

So my latest experiment was also something of a disaster. Both the girls were out and I figured I’d try to quickly cook up something before running off to Uni. We had a fair amount of puff pastry and some eggs left in the fridge from a previous cooking adventure, and having seen something about baked eggs in puff pastry on Masterchef, I thought I’d give it a go. What could possibly go wrong? Allie came home as I was finishing removing them from the oven and immediately I got the “omg-what-were-you-thinking-it’s-just-eggs-and-pastry” looks. Needless to say it was extremely embarrassing and yielded weeks of “Ciaran and his egg tarts” jokes. But this time I was intent on proving I could do something with the idea, and came up with these awesome breakfast tarts. I’ve seen variations of them at cafés all over the place and they’re just so easy that anybody can whip them up in a matter of minutes to impress even the most intense and critical foodie. Enjoy!

Ciaran

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Ingredients – Makes 4 medium sized Breakfast Tarts

2 Sheets Puff Pastry

6 Eggs

2 Rashers Middle Bacon

1 Tomato (Alternately you can use Cherry Tomatoes)

100gms Button Mushrooms

Rocket to Garnish

Salt

Pepper

Butter

Sauce of your choice

Method:

Try to use a muffin tin or something similar. Fortunately I managed to use the girls pie tins which turned out to be perfectly sized for these tarts. Take the puff pastry out of the freezer and leave to defrost. Fry the bacon until crispy and then leave it on the side. Slice the mushrooms thinly, cook in a pot until soft and then set aside in the pot. Grease the muffin/pie tin with butter and then arrange the puff pastry so that you make a small bowl in the tin to hold the eggs. Add one full egg and then more egg white if required to fill the pastry bowl you’ve made. This can vary depending on the size of the bowl but be mindful the pastry and the egg will rise so try not to overdo it. The bacon can be cut up a number of ways, I tried to break it into pieces so it was all through the tart but I’ve seen it done as a long single piece so its really up to you! Toss a few of the mushrooms into each of the tarts. Dice the tomato and throw a few pieces in as well. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Bake the tarts at 180 degrees for about 15-20mins and take care not to overcook them as they’ll dry through the centre. The yolk should be just turning that lighter yellow when you take them out to rest for 5 minutes. Overturn the tins and gently remove the tarts. They may take some encouragement so I found it easier to run a knife around the edge first to make sure you get them out cleanly. Serve each tart with a little Rocket on top to give them a little extra colour and flavour. Add salt, pepper and sauce to taste.

 

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Stuffed chicken with goat’s cheese and spinach

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Stuffing meat is a somewhat controversial subject.

I’m an American so I really have no problem with it. You’ll notice that most meat stuffed dishes originated in the US of A. I originally thought Chicken Cordon Bleu came from France (sorry Kahina) but it turns out, it’s an American creation. First referenced in the NY Times in 1967.

Other countries seem to be okay with stuffing their meat, however apparently Belgium is not one of those places. One of my Belgian friends recently told me she had never eaten stuffed chicken until she came to Australia.

One of my favourite pubs in the Rocks actually serves stuffed burgers, which are pretty awesome. The most awesome part, they’re stuffed with more meat.

One comes with a beef burger stuffed with pork and is possibly even topped with bacon, the other is beef stuffed with chorizo and mozzarella. A cannibalistic explosion of happiness.

While I do like stuffed meat occasionally, and this stuffed chicken is pretty damn good, I don’t think I could ever go so far as these atrocities.

Anyone remember the HIMYM episode where Ted makes a tur-turkey-key.

And did you know that stuffing a duck inside a chicken inside a turkey is a real thing? Oh Paula Deen. Only in America.

You can rest assured that this meal will cause you way less traumatisation than three different types of birds shoved inside each other. It’s a simple stuffed chicken with goat’s cheese and spinach dish, it takes a little bit of time (around 40 minutes) but it’s very simple and extremely tasty. Plus it’s a great leftover food for tomorrow’s lunch.

Stuffed chicken with goat’s cheese and spinach

Serves 4

Takes about 40 minutes

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
2 cups of spinach, chopped
½ cup goat’s cheese, softened
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced
Some kind of Italian or Mediterranean seasoning, I just used Gourmet Garden’s Parsley and Garlic mix
400g couscous

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Mix together the spinach, goat’s cheese, minced garlic and salt and pepper. With a paring knife slice a pocket into the side of each chicken breast. Stuff the goat’s cheese and spinach mixture into each chicken breast. Drizzle some olive oil on the top, season with salt and add the seasoning.

Heat a large skillet on high heat for 5 minutes. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 3-4 minutes or until golden on the bottom. Turn over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer to a baking dish and put the chicken breasts in the oven until they are cooked through, about 15 minutes. While the chicken is in the oven make the couscous according to the package directions. When the chicken is cooked let sit for a few minutes and then plate with the couscous.

 

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Spinach, chicken and pecorino risoni

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Working in a bar/restaurant means nights with late hours, dinner at odd times and much less time to cook. Sometimes I’ll be super organized and cook something for lunch and bring extras to have after my shift, other times I’ll grab one of the $5 special meals on my way to work and eat before I start. And other times there may be a sneaky trip to Maccas or Pie Face.

One of the other challenges with working in hospitality is that when I do get a chance to cook, sometimes I go a little bit overboard. Sunday night dinners at Ciarans parent’s house tend to be one of those times. In the past I’ve made chicken schnitzel with mash and creamy jaeger sauce, meaty lasagna, beer braised chicken, a lot of heavy meals. So this time I was gently instructed, no red meat and no cream. Which actually wasn’t too much of a challenge. Delicious dinners definitely don’t need a bunch of cream or butter to taste great. I remembered this dish from a small dinner party my mum held ages ago and spent a while tracking down the recipe. It’s simple, fresh and keeps well for leftovers. The tomatoes may not keep as well, but they’re a fancy little accompaniment for a nice sit down dinner.

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Chicken, spinach and pecorino risoni

Serves 4

200g cooked warm risoni

400g shredded bbq chicken

1/2 cup finely grated percorino (also known as romano)

50g shredded baby spinach

1/2 cup basil leaves

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves of crushed garlic

Cook risoni and set aside in a warm pan. Shred a store bought bbq chicken. Add the chicken, pecorino, spinach and basil to the risoni. In a separate bowl combine the lemon juice, oil and garlic and toss through the pasta. Serve warm.

Recipe from Donna Hay Magazine

Tomatoes roasted with pesto

2 to 2 1/2 pounds large red tomatoes

3 tablespoons good olive oil

2 teaspoons dried oregano

kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup pesto (store bought or home made)

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

Core the tomatoes and then slice them across (not through the stem) arrange on a sheet pan.  Drizzle the tomatoes with the olive oil and sprinkle with the oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the pepper.

Bake the tomatoes for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven, spread each slice with the pesto, and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.  Return the tomatoes to the oven and continue baking for 7 to 10 minutes, until the parmesan cheese is melted and begins to brown. Using a flat metal spatula, put the tomatoes on a serving platter, sprinkle with extra salt, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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Scrambled egg muffins

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Some people are morning people. I am not one of them.

My morning routine takes about an hour and if it starts before 10am, I’m usually not in a good mood during it. And that long routine doesn’t even include making breakfast.

Another one of my resolutions is to start eating breakfast. I’m one of those people who will just grab the $5 coffee and croissant deal from the cafe downstairs while running to work, one of those people who eats some Cheez-its out of the box for breakfast because pouring cereal and milk is way too much work, one of those people that thinks cold pizza in the morning can most times be better than hot pizza (but not in Australia, sorry guys but pizza here kind of sucks), one of those people who constantly seems to have expired milk in the fridge…you get what I mean.

So breakfast is always a struggle. Though I still think Cheez-its or Goldfish make a great breakfast. Alas, I have tried to stop eating cheese flavoured crackers for brekkie and make sure I eat a suitable breakfast food at a suitable breakfast hour instead. And since I’m constantly running out the door in the morning, I wanted something I could make in advance and eat for a few days. Enter the scrambled egg muffin, a genius of good ingredients, portable size and awesome-ness! I realize making scrambled eggs takes all of fifteen minutes but then you have to wash and sit down and use a fork and it’s all just a massive process in my world. So I decided to take all of that and put it in the shape of a muffin and make lots so I could eat them ALL WEEK. Genius? Why, yes I think so.

Scrambled egg muffins
Makes 10
6 eggs
1/2 onion, diced
2 pieces streaky bacon, diced
1 cup spinach, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup reduced-fat tasty cheese
Salt, pepper and olive oil

Preheat your oven to about 170C. Chop the onion, bacon, spinach and mushrooms to have them ready. Saute the bacon and onion in a frying pan with a teaspoon of oil on medium high heat. After two minutes add the mushrooms. Saute until the bacon is a bit crispy and the onion and mushrooms are soft. Turn off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes so it doesn’t cook the egg right away. In a big bowl scramble the eggs together. Throw in the onion, bacon, spinach, mushrooms and cheese. In a muffin tin coated with cooking spray or with little muffin cups (like the ones in the picture). Spoon the mixture evenly between the muffin cups. Put them in the oven for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Enjoy!

These are quite small so I usually had two per morning but I think Ciaran could have had three per morning so it’s up to you. This is adapted from a recipe where the muffins were 133 calories each and this version just has more vegetables so the calorie count shouldn’t be too far off that.

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And that’s how I enjoy my morning.

Enjoy!

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New York Cheesecake

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Cheesecake is one of those things that can actually feed your soul. As dumb as that sounds I really believe it is impossible not to feel happier after eating a bite of perfectly creamy, delicious cheesecake.

The other day was one of those days where things seemed to be piling up and weighing down on my shoulders without reason or warning. To cure this and make that stress load feel a little lighter I decided to ditch studying for the day and bake a cheesecake instead. And it was a great idea.

The other day my roommate made a Japanese cheesecake which was a new experience for most of us, it was delicious but it wasn’t the kind of cheesecake I am used to.

It’s never good when eating cheesecake makes you yearn for even more cheesecake. Isn’t it supposed to be a very special treat that you have once every few months and have to savor and dream about until the time comes round again that you can justify eating heaps of sugar and cream cheese and biscuits?

I decided to ditch that common sense and instead declared it Cheesecake Week in Apartment 1834. And I headed off to the supermarket to buy my supplies.

As I’ve said before baking is never the cheapest option for a student but this recipe wasn’t too bad, I also was missing a few necessary tools but I made do with what I had and everything turned out fine.

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Recipe from Good Taste, May 2008:

New York Cheesecake

Preparation time: 30-40 minutes

Cooking time: 90 minutes

Ingredients (serves 10, supposedly, we managed to let 9 people get a taste of this so I guess that’s about right. )

1 250 gram packet of plain sweet biscuits ( I used Arnott’s Nice)

125 grams unsalted butter, melted

750 grams of cream cheese, at room temperature (Philadelphia cream cheese is undoubtedly the best kind to use for a cheesecake but since it was pretty expensive I used 500 grams of Philly cream cheese and 250 grams of a store brand lite cream cheese, I figured that as long as the majority was good quality it would be fine and it was)

215 grams (1 cup) caster sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp finely grated lemon rind

2 tablespoons plain flour

4 eggs

1 300ml container of sour cream (again I used a cheap store brand one to save a few bucks)

Instructions:

First of all, make sure all of your ingredients are on the counter on your workspace so that they will be room temperature when you use them.

Preheat oven to 160°C. (I was using a fan forced oven so I lowered it to about 145°C because apparently you’re supposed to do that). Grease the inside of a 23cm springform pan with butter or Pam.

Place the biscuits in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely crushed. (I don’t actually own a food processor so I just put the biscuits in two ziploc bags and pounded them with a frying pan until they turned into a ‘finely crushed’ powder. The act of destroying the biscuits with a frying pan was also extremely beneficial in making me feel better and more relaxed.)

Add the butter and process (or just stir with a spoon) until well combined. Transfer to the pan. Use a straight-sided glass to spread and press the biscuit mixture firmly over the base and side of the pan, leaving 1 cm at the top of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

Meanwhile, use an electric beater to beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon rind in a large bowl until just combined. (I also don’t own a grater, which I really should because it’s quite practical, but I decided not to spend the $4 at the grocery store out of principle, for some reason I thought it would be horrendous to spend an extra $4 on this cheesecake, anyway, I just used a sharp serrated bread knife and basically grated the rind off the lemon that way, it was pretty successful except for the fact that it took quite a while, I would probably recommend just buying a grater, the one at the supermarket was even on sale when I went, I don’t know what I was thinking.) But to get back to the recipe, beat the flour into the mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition until combined. (But make sure you don’t beat too much since you’re not supposed to overbeat the cream cheese or it’ll get too many airpockets.) Stir in the sour cream until just combined.

(You can tell I’m such a neat and organized chef.)

Pour the cream cheese mixture into the base. Place the pan on a baking tray and bake for 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours or until just set in the center. (It is actually a bit tricky to tell when your cheesecake is done but if the sides are firm and the middle is still a bit wobbly then it is done and will set while it is cooling off.)

Turn the oven off. Leave the cheesecake in the oven, with the door ajar, for 2 hours or until cooled completely (this will prevent the cheesecake from cracking). Place in the fridge for 4 hours to chill. (Though good luck keeping hungry roommates away for that long).

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Lighter coconut red curry shrimp

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My relationship with spicy foods has been a bit of a roller coaster. And just as I used to hate giant roller coasters with all of my being, my feelings were pretty similar towards spicy food.

Anything with chilli, jalapeno, wasabi…it was out of the question. I think there was a time when I was in New Mexico with my family and we went out to dinner to this nice authentic Mexican restaurant and I remember uncontrollably crying and sweating as I tried to eat my meal. I remember being offered quesadillas with honey to try and ease the pain though it did little against the mighty wrath of that dish. That was about the time I swore off anything spicy for a while.

However, nowadays my palate has been craving spicy foods and I don’t know what is going on. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been introduced to it in more ways and perhaps better ways. My boyfriend’s mother cooks quite a few Malaysian and Singaporean dishes which at first made me want to drink a whole gallon of milk to get me through but now I really quite enjoy. Last summer I also went out to have sushi with my family and my father mistakenly ordered one roll, I believe it was called the Volcano roll, which was basically a huge mound of wasabi with one or two tiny flecks of fish rolled in seaweed and rice. Not knowing what it was I simply popped it in my mouth and got my first wasabi head rush. It’s actually kind of cool the way it rushes through your nose and makes your head want to explode but then subsides quite quickly. It’s strangely addictive.

So now I’ve been adding more wasabi to my sushi, putting more chilli in my pho, I even made a little pilgrimage to find Sriracha sauce which isn’t commonly available here. And apparently spicy food is very good for your metabolism so that’s a win as well.

And after that whole rant about how I love spicy food, I will admit I didn’t even put all the red curry paste that is called for in this recipe since I was afraid it would be too much. What can I say, I may love spicy food now, but I’m still a bit of a chicken when it comes down to it.

Whether you make it spicy or mild this dish is actually very delicious and I highly recommend it.

Lighter coconut red curry shrimp
From Can you stay for dinner?

1 can (13.66 ounces) coconut milk

2 tablespoons Thai Kitchen® Red Curry Paste

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 cup fresh Thai basil, chopped roughly (optional)

1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce

Your choice of vegetables, I added 1 head of broccoli, 1 cup of sugar snap peas and about half a bag of shelled edamame

Directions:

Simmer coconut milk in large skillet over medium heat. Stir in curry paste and sugar until well blended; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes.

Stir in shrimp and vegetables. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Stir in basil and fish sauce.

Serve over either brown or jasmine rice.

Serves 4

Nutrition Information Per Serving (not including rice): 295 Calories, Fat 19g, Protein 21g, Carbohydrates 10g, Cholesterol 168mg, Sodium 1095mg, Fiber 1g

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