Autumn has begun wet and chilly. Lots of rain and cold winds – and muddy sports grounds! Days like these you crave big warm flavours and a cosy room to savour them in. And the kids come home from training damp, dirty and ravenous so they need something hearty and filling.
This dish is the current house favourite. I don’t know if this really is a Mexican recipe, but it is rich and full of flavour, and very easy to whip up.
- 4 red capsicums
- Olive oil
- 8 generous chicken thigh fillets
- 3 T plain flour
- Salt and pepper to season
- 1 t chilli flakes (adjust for your hotness preference!)
- 1 t ground cumin
- 2 t sweet paprika
- 2 t dried oregano
- 2 T tomato paste
- 400 g can diced tomatoes
- 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
- 2 c chicken stock
- 3 T flat parsley, chopped
Preheat oven to 200C.
Lightly oil oven tray. Roast capsicums for about 35 minutes or until starting to blacken. Transfer to a bowl and cover, and set aside to cool. Remove skin and seeds, then slice flesh.
Dust chicken in the flour and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large lightly oiled frying pan over a medium heat. Once hot, add chicken in batches, cooking each batch for about 3-4 minutes or until sealed. Transfer to a casserole dish.
Add spices, oregano, tomatoes and tomato paste and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven to low, and cook for a further 20 minutes or until sauce thickens. Fold in capsicum and parsley. Serve on rice with steamed green vegetables.
Adapted from “Pollo rojo”, in Better Homes and Gardens, May 2010, p109.
I love tandoori. It has to be one of the best inventions of Indian food (and there are so many). So many thing taste good with tandoor, and it is also so easy to prepare – even when you make your own paste.
I found this tandoori paste recipe on http://refashionista.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/recipe-all-purpose-tandoori-paste/, and it is quick and incredibly delicious.
Tandoori Paste Recipe
- 1 t saffron strands
- 2 T boiling water
- 2.5 T fresh garlic, finely crushed
- 1/4 c fresh ginger, finely grated
- 2 T lime juice
- 1 t chili powder
- 1/8 t cayenne powder (you can play with the chili and cayenne depending on heat tolerances)
- 2 t paprika
- 1/2 t ground cumin
- 1 T garam masala
- 2 t salt
Soak the saffron strands in boiling water for 10 minutes. Combine with remaining ingredients, and grind using mortar & pestle (or small blender) until smooth.
Chicken and Broccoli Tandoori
I wouldn’t claim that this is an authentic recipe! but it is fresh, healthy, tasty and quick!
- 1 large double chicken breast, cubed
- 3/4 c Greek style yoghurt
- 3 T tandoori paste
- 1 med onion, diced
- 1 med head of broccoli, cut into florets
- 150 g green beans, chopped
- olive oil for sauteeing
- 3 T fresh basil, finely chopped
Place chicken, yoghurt and paste in bowl and leave to marinate for at least 2 hours.
Saute onions in a large pot until just becoming translucent. Add vegetables and saute for further 2 minutes. Add chicken and cook on low heat, stirring frequently. Add water if necessary. Keep tabs on the chicken because the breast meat cooks quickly and will dry out even though it has been marinated. Add basil just before turning off the heat. Serve immediately with steamed rice.
My mother discovered Chinatown when I was about 10. We hadn’t been in Sydney very long at that point, and Chinatown was the most amazing place to a little girl from Bloomington Indiana. I loved going there. My mom and I would wander around the stores jam packed full of food and dishes and clothes and toys – all of it completely different from anything we’d even seen before. The supermarkets were the best: small and cramped, but stacked high with all sorts of new and interesting foods to try. Sometimes as we would gaze wonderingly at some unknown ingredient, a shopkeeper would come up to us and give us an on-the-spot lesson in how to cook with whatever we were looking at. Thus began a long tradition of Chinese-inspired and wok cooked meals. I still have the first wok that she bought back then.
This was around the same time that she gave up eating red meat; the first stage in a series of dietary shifts that I refer to as the little ‘b’ bohemian phase of our family food tradition. The main meat that we ate then was chicken. Most meals were vegetarian, and sometimes we would have fish, but chicken featured often. We had quite a repertoire of chicken meals, but much of the time we would just stir fry chicken and vegetables.
This recipe was my Mom’s favourite way to cook chicken because it is delicious and so easy. Everyone who knew her has had this chicken – she made it a lot. I haven’t cooked this recipe in many years. I couldn’t – who would have thought the memories brought by a recipe could evoke such strong emotions? I must admit that I shed a tear when I made it. I cooked it in the matching pot that she gave me, as she did, and served it with a huge green salad.
A real walk down memory lane and an important reminder that there are far more imporant legacies than houses and money!
- 1 chicken (1.8 – 2.0 kg) I used a Coles Brand RSPCA chicken
- 5 T water
- 4 star anise
- 1 T sesame oil
- 6 T light soy sauce
- 1 T honey
- 1 t grated fresh ginger
- 2 T fresh lemon juice
- 1 t 5 spice powder
Pour water into a large roasting pot and place chicken in breast side down. Spread all other ingredients over the chicken.
Place uncovered in oven at 100C. Cook for 3 hours, basting every30-40 minutes. Turn heat up to 170C and cook until chicken is cooked. Baste frequently. Cooked slowly and breast side down, the white meat will be tender and juicy, and won’t overcook.
Serve with stir fried vegetables or lots of fresh green salad.
This is a wonderfully simple dish. Ideal mid-week meal. Very easy, very healthy, and very tasty.
- 2 chicken breast fillets, halved horizontally
- 8 fresh sage leaves, or 1 t dried sage
- 100 g thinly sliced pancetta (or bacon)
- 2 T olive oil
- 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 400 g can lentils, drained and rinsed
- 150 g baby spinach leaves
- ¼ c fresh mint, chopped
Place 2 sage leaves (or a sprinkle of dried) along the length of each piece of chicken. Top with pancetta and secure with toothpicks.
Heat oil in frying pan over medium-low heat. Cook chicken for 3-5 minutes each side until cooked. Be careful not to overcook, breast meat dries and toughens very quickly. You can cook pancetta side down for longer as the pancetta will help to maintain moisture. Transfer to a plate.
Using the pan from the chicken, stir in spring onion, garlic and cook until just soft. Add lentils, spinach and mint, and cook until spinach wilts. Divide lentil mixture between plates and top with chicken. I serve with green vegetables and rice.
Recipe adapted from Australian Good Taste July 2012.
I have a friend who is Chinese, and who knows all the best places to buy Chinese barbecue pork. If you happen to pop by on a day when he has brought some home he will always share. There is no pretense of incorporating it into a meal, he’ll just pull it out and you all, dig in and bliss out.
Barbecue pork is one of my favourite Chinese dishes and the only other place that I tend to have it is at yum cha – which I don’t do often enough! A key ingredient in this pork dish is Char Siu sauce, which is used to marinate the meat.
I have stolen the Char Siu marinade idea to use with chicken to make a super fast super easy and super tasty meal – usually served on a soccer training night, when the older sprog comes home cold, ravenous and impatient.
You can make home made char siu sauce, but because I am going for super quick, I usually cheat and buy the sauce.
- peanut oil for stir frying
- 850 g chicken thighs, cut into thirds
- 120 g Char Siu sauce
- 1 t five spice powder
- 7 shallots, chopped
- 1/3 bunch corinder leaves, finely chopped
- juice 1/2 lemon
Place chicken, sauce, five spice powder and shallots into bowl to marinate for minimum of 30 minutes.
Heat oil in wok or large non-stick frying pan, and add chicken mixture. Cook on high heat until meat changes colour, then reduce heat to finish cooking. Add coriander and lemon juice when you reduce the heat. Serve on rice or rice noodles, with steamed greens on the side.
When the weather cools down, and especially at night, salads tend to lose their appeal in favour of more hearty warm dishes. The thought of crisp light cold lettuce just doesn’t grab you like it did on a hot summer night in January (or June depending on which hemisphere you are living in!).
This salad is a great blend of light and crisp, with warm and hearty mixed in. This recipe serves 4.
- 300 g poached chicken breast, sliced thinly *
- 3/4 red capsicum, roasted **
- 4 c freshly cooked brown rice (works best if still warm)
- 1 carrot, julienned and steamed til just cooked
- handful snowpeas, blanched
- handful continental parsley
- 3 T good quality egg mayonnaise
- 2 T balsamic vinegar
- 1 T fresh basil, finely chopped
- 10-12 pecans, cut into 3 lengthways
- 3 T pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1/2 sm lettuce, torn
Divide lettuce amongst the plates to create a bed. Combine rice, capsicum, carrot, snow peas, mayonnaise, balsamic, parsley (reserving some for garnish) and basil in a bowl. Divide rice mixture over the lettuce beds. Place chicken slices over the rice. Sprinkle pecans and pumpkin seeds over, and top with remaining parsley.
* Poaching brew
I poach about a 3/4 to 1 kg of chicken breasts as a time, so I can use for multiple meals.
- 1 litre chicken stock (or water)
- 1 t tumeric
- 4-5 leaves fresh basil
- 1/3 fresh red capsicum
- 10-12 peppercorns
Place stock mixture over high heat. Add chicken once it is close to a boil, turn heat down to simmer. Cook until just cooked. Chicken breasts are easily overcooked. Leave in liquid until ready to use. Can be poached a day ahead. If doing so, slice chicken and then very gently reheat in a bit of the stock. Strain before adding to salad.
** Roasting capsicums
I do about 3 capsicums at a time. Thinly coat roasting tray with olive oil. Slice 3 cloves of garlic and spread over tray. De-seed capsicum and cut each one lengthways into about 10-12 lengths. Roast on high heat until soft. If desired, remove skin once cool.
These sausage rolls were a surprise winner at home. Wal and the sprogs really LOVED them.
I was tired and in need of a quick filling meal and didn’t have any brilliant ideas springing to mind. So I went to my ‘inspiration folder’ where I keep notes and recipes gathered from friends, magazines, newspapers and any other source that grabs my attention. In there I found the perfect inspiration to match my energy levels and the contents of my pantry.
This recipe is adapted from Australian Good Food, July 2010, p129.
- 1 T butter
- 1 large leek, finely sliced
- 1/2 sm red onion, finely diced
- 500g chicken mince
- 2 sm carrots, grated
- 1/3 red capsicum,finely chopped
- 2 T tomato sauce
- 1/2 t dried basil
- 3 sheets puff pastry, thawed
- 1 egg
- 1 T poppy seeds
Line 3 pastry trays, and preheat oven to 180C. Lightly saute leek in the butter, set aside in large bowl. Add mince, onion, carrots, capsicum, tomato sauce and basil to bowl and mix well.
Cut pastry sheets in half. Divide chicken mixture into 6 portions. Spread a portion along the length of a cut sheet of pastry to create the sausage. Fold pastry over the mince and press the pastry together to seal. Cut the pastry roll into three equal portions and place on baking tray. Repeat with remaining mince mixture and pastry.
Baste each sausage roll with the egg, and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
Cook for 30-35 minutes, until puffed and golden.
I served the sausage rolls for dinner with salad and vegetables on the side, but they could also be used for appetisers. If planning to do so, I would cut each pastry roll into 4 pieces rather than 3.
This afternoon the sprogs demanded chicken curry for dinner. Soccer training was looming and so another late meal was on the cards, so they knew they would want something warm and filling.
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 2 cm ginger
- 1 1/2 t cumin
- 1 t ground coriander
- 1 t tumeric
- 5 T olive oil
- 8 chicken drumsticks, skin removed
- 400 ml coconut milk
- 3/4 c desiccated coconut
- 3 T almond meal
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 1 t salt
- 3/4 c water
- 1/2 c milk
- 1 T tamarind paste
- 1 T brown sugar
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 head broccoli, chopped into florets
In a mortar and pestle grind garlic, onion, ginger, cumin, coriander, tumeric and 2 T oil into a rough paste.
Using a heavy based pot, saute paste in remaining oil for 2 minutes. Add chicken and saute gently until all pieces are browned. Add remaining ingredients except for broccoli and simmer gently for 40 minutes. Add broccoli about 5 minutes before serving, and raise heat to medium.
Serve with steamed jasmine rice. Serves 4.
This recipe adapted from Australian Good Taste January 2012, p77.
Soccer is a very big deal in our house, and so the end of summer is heralded with great joy in anticipation of the soccer season. The games really are fun to watch, but for Wal and me, the soccer season also represents long treks out to the middle of nowhere at the crack of dawn on freezing cold winter mornings, and multiple training sessions each week, running well into the evening. This means that several nights per week I need to come up with a warm healthy and filling meal very quickly to feed our cold ravenous soccer player and team manager Wal.
This recipe is very quick but extremely healthy and satisfying. It works best with a homemade chicken stock, but store bought will still give a good result. I have fed this soup to kids that don’t eat vegetables, and who gag at the mention of cottage cheese, and they have eaten every bite!
- 2 large chicken thighs, chopped
- 1 onion, finely cubed
- 2 T peanut oil
- 1 T sesame oil
- 3 T soy sauce
- 1 T freshly grated ginger
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 large zucchini, cut into small cubes
- 4 c chicken stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- generous handful fresh spinach
- generous handful fresh flat leaf parsley
- chinese egg (or rice) noodles and cottage cheese to serve
Saute chicken, onion and celery in oils and soy sauce. Add ginger. Add a little stock if needed. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining stock and zucchini, and season to taste. Add water if more liquid is required. Cook for 15-20 minutes. While soup is cooking boil water for noodles and cook until just tender. When noodles are close to cooked, add spinach and parsley to soup, put a lid on the pot and turn the heat off. When noodles are ready, serve with the soup, adding a tablespoon of cottage cheese to the bowl before ladelling in the soup.
A reliable staple in my grandmother’s repertoire was chicken casserole. She had lots of versions of the recipe, but she made it so often that she didn’t need to use one. When she was in a hurry she would use a can of soup, or a dried onion soup mix, but she would usually make it from scratch. This dish can be served with pasta, potatoes or rice. With the sprogs’ endless craving for pasta it is rare that we are allowed anything else. The only thing better is Bohemian dumplings – but that is a recipe for another day.
- 2 onions
- butter or oil to saute
- 1.5 kg boneless chicken thighs, chopped into 2 cm pieces
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 8-10 mushrooms, sliced
- 1 T flour
- 1/2 green capsicum, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 2 c chicken stock
- 1 t dried basil
- 1/2 t dried sage
- 1 t finely chopped fresh oregano
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- salt and pepper to taste
Saute onions in butter or oil til becoming translucent. Add chicken, celery and mushrooms. Saute until chicken begins to colour and stir in flour. Add remaining ingredients and bake in low to moderate oven until fully cooked and starting to thicken. This recipe also works well in a slow cooker.