road trip recovery nachos

nachos

I am living in post-holiday denial. Our bags are unpacked, the washing is done, the fridge has been replenished.  But I am still humming the holiday rhythm of lazy coffees, lunches with a view and no housework. A reality check tomorrow is inevitable. Until then, we shall have nachos and chocolate ice cream for dinner and pretend we have spent the day by the beach.

Nachos

  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1 red capsicum, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • smoked paprika, to taste
  • 1tb chipotle in adobo sauce (don’t fret if you don’t have this)*
  • 1 tin chopped/crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tin kidney beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 tin refried beans

Saute the onion in some olive oil until soft. Add the garlic, capsicum, celery and paprika and continue cooking until soft and fragrant. Add the adobo chilli sauce if you have it. Add the tinned tomatoes, fill the empty tin with water and add that too. Add the beans and stir well. Season to taste and cook while stirring over a simmer until it thickens slightly.

Serves 6 with whatever trimmings you like.

I like our nachos spooned over sweet potato chips, baked tortilla pieces or decent bought corn chips. A light scattering of cheese, melted, and topped with guacamole, home made tomato salsa and some thick yoghurt is perfect. The nacho mix freezes well and makes the easiest, quickest meal in a flash.

*tinned chipotles chilis come in a rich, smoky sauce. This adobo sauce has much less heat than the chili but still imparts the fantastic spiced, smoky flavour of the chipotle. I use half chopped chipotle and half sauce to give the heat and flavour I like but adjust this as you wish.

 

harissa yoghurt chicken & vegetable couscous

harissachick

The 2 nights per week that my husband is not at work allow me to take a bit longer in the kitchen. Sunday and Monday evenings are when I do my meal prep for the following week and make sure my fridge and freezer are stocked. I also like to to take a bit more time making dinner on these nights. Being able to create something in the kitchen is one of the things that keep me sane so I really look forward to these evenings.

Saying that, this baked chicken dish is not complicated and I threw it together with what was in my fridge and pantry. I made a richly-flavoured marinade with yoghurt, spices and roast red capsicum, poured it over some chicken thighs and baked them for 20 minutes while I made the vegetable couscous. I used the roast capsicum you can find in jars in the supermarket. I always have a jar of these in my fridge – they are an easy and welcome addition to many salads, couscous, tagines, etc.

We had this delicious dish with a spinach salad and you could also add some flatbread if you wished.

harissa yoghurt chicken

  • 1c yoghurt
  • 1 roast red capsicum, peeled, deseeded
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice (or finely diced preserved lemon)
  • 1.5tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • coriander, see note*
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2tb olive oil

Preheat your oven to 200’C. Puree the yoghurt, capsicum, spices, lemon and salt in a blender or processor until smooth. Heat the olive oil in a pan over med-high heat and cook the chicken thighs, skin down, until the skin is golden. Transfer them to a baking dish leaving any remaining oil and rendered chicken fat in the pan. Pour over the yoghurt marinade and place in the oven for 20 minutes. (It may seem like a lot of sauce but any excess is delicious poured over the couscous.)

Meanwhile, using the fat left in the pan, sauté some vegetables of your choosing until golden and cooked through. Season well. For 6 portions,  I used..

  • 1 capsicum, sliced
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced
  • 1 spanish onion, sliced
  • handful of mushrooms, sliced
  • handful of green beans
  • handful of pine nuts (flaked almonds would also work well)

Then add 1 c of couscous and 2 c of water or stock, place a lid on the pan (or foil securely) and leave to cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove the lid, stir well, replace the lid and turn off the heat. Allow to finish steaming for a couple of minutes then fluff with a fork. Add some chopped parsley, coriander or spinach and some diced fresh date or some raisins if you wish.

Make It Easy On Yourself: blend the yoghurt marinade and dice the vegetables for the couscous the day before. And remember to keep a jar of roast capsicum in the fridge!

*Note: I also added some coriander stalks I had left from a previous dish. You could add a teaspoon of ground coriander or leave the coriander out entirely.

tomato baked chicken thighs with gremolata stuffing

stuffing

This is one of those dishes that has you high-fiving yourself in the kitchen with how freakin’ delicious it is. A zesty stuffing inspired by the lemon and parsley of gremolata is rolled up in chicken thighs and prosciutto. Simple enough for a school night dinner but fancy enough to be dressed up for dinner with friends. The amount of stuffing specified below would also be glorious stuffed into a whole chicken and roasted with lemon and garlic.

 tomato baked chicken thighs with gremolata crumb stuffing

  • 6 chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, free range if possible
  • 6 rashers prosciutto or streaky bacon
  • 300g passata
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/4c pine nuts
  • some thyme or sage
  • 1c breadcrumbs, fresh
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 lemon, zest of
  • small handful parsley, chopped
  • 100g goats cheese (I used goat feta)
  • small handful grated parmesan
  • olive oil
  • salt pepper

rawchickrolls

Firstly, make the stuffing. Over medium heat, sauté the onion, garlic and thyme or sage in some olive oil until cooked through and fragrant. Turn off the heat, add the breadcrumbs and stir well. Place into a bowl and add the lemon zest, parsley and egg. Mix well. Crumble the goat cheese through and season with salt and pepper.                             Take the chicken thighs and slightly flatten each one by either gently using a meat mallet or slicing and opening the thicker parts of the thigh. Place a rasher of bacon or prosciutto on your chopping board and put a flattened chicken thigh along it. Season lightly. Put 1/6th of the stuffing down the middle of the thigh and roll up. Repeat with the remaining chicken and stuffing. In a lightly oiled pan over medium heat, gently brown the tops of the chicken rolls and place snugly into a deep baking dish. Pour the passata over the chicken and place into the oven at 190’C. Bake for 20 mins, sprinkle a handful of grated parmesan over the top and bake for a further 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

bakedchickstuffedchick

We had this for dinner with a sharply-dressed green salad tossed through warmed cannelini beans and roast zucchini. Some creamy polenta or sweet potato mash would not be remiss with this delicious meal. There were 2 lovely little chicken rolls left and I served them cold and sliced over a roast vegetable and couscous salad.

Get Ahead: Prepare the chicken the day before and have it ready to pop into the oven for dinner.

 

mushroom barley risotto, roast tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella

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We have some absolutely gorgeous buffalo mozzarella in our fridge this week. The mozzarella comes from a local buffalo farm that we were lucky enough to visit recently. I was amazed at how social the buffalo were, congregating near us to say hello, and how graceful their gait.

This meal was born from a desire to showcase this lovely cheese without relying on my default dish of eggplant parmigiana. Pearl barley has a slight chewiness when cooked and is a delicious alternative to arborio rice. I encourage you to experiment with other additions to this risotto. Chorizo and tomato or bacon and pumpkin would be fantastic substitutions for the mushrooms.

mushroom barley risotto

  • splash of olive oil, knob of butter
  • 6 cloves garlic, diced
  • 6 sprigs of thyme, leaves of
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 doz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1.5 litres stock of your choice (I used cold chicken stock)
  • 2c pearl barley
  • 2/3 c grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
  • a knob of butter
  • 2 balls buffalo mozzarella
  • 2 punnets cherry tomatoes, roasted
  • basil or parsley to serve

In a large pot, saute the onion, garlic and thyme leaves in the olive oil and butter until cooked through and fragrant. Add mushrooms, cook until golden brown. Add the pearl barley, stir through. Add the stock. Cook on a simmer for 15-20 minutes while stirring every now and then. When barley is soft and stock has reduced, remove the pot form the stove and stir through the parmesan and the second knob of butter. Add salt and pepper as desired. Serve, topped with extra parmesan, the roast tomatoes,herbs and torn mozzarella. Serves 6.

 

roast chicken in milk with garlic, sage, lemon, cinnamon

sagemilkchicken

This is just a lovely dish that I cannot recommend enough. Chicken legs are cooked in a milk, fragrant with zest, garlic and spice. Add creamed corn and roast potatoes and this is roast chicken heaven.

chicken cooked in milk

  • 4 chicken marylands (drumstick/thigh)
  • 1 lemon, peeled zest of
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 6 cloves of garlic, squashed a little
  • 4-6 sprigs sage, leaves from
  • 2 c full cream milk
  • salt, olive oil

In a hot pan, brown the chicken legs till golden. Pop into a baking dish with the lemon zest, cinnamon, garlic, sage leaves and milk. Cover with foil, bake at 190’C for 20 mins, discard foil, baste, cook 15 mins more. Remove from oven. Drain off milk into a pot. Reduce over med-high while stirring until curds develop (see white lumps in photo?) and the milk is saucy. Pour sauce over chicken before serving.
Serve with creamed corn or polenta and some roast vegetables. You’re welcome. 🙂

pulled pork belly, sweet potato skins and avocado

sweetpotpp

There are few things more satisfying to cook and eat than pulled pork. Requiring little effort to get into the oven and yielding to the gentle prod of a fork when done, slow-roasted pork is juicy, smoky, spicy deliciousness. Throw it into a soft bun with coleslaw or toast it in a quesadilla with cheese and pickles. We loved it with black beans, sweet potato and guacamole.

Many pulled pork recipes ask for chipotle and piquillo chilies which are not always easily found. It is not uncommon to see up to a cup of sugar listed as an ingredient. The recipe below is made from things I always have on hand and goes lightly on the added sugar.

porkbellyforkedpork

pulled pork belly

  • 750g pork belly, skin on
  • 1tb fennel seeds
  • 1tb cumin seeds
  • 1tb smoked paprika
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 5 semi-dried tomatoes
  • 1tb rice malt syrup or maple syrup
  • 1tb apple cider vinegar
  • 1 leek or large onion, finely sliced

Oven at 200’C. In a food processor, blend the spices, garlic, tomatoes, syrup and vinegar with a little water to make a paste. Rub all over the pork belly with a good amount of salt. Spread the sliced leek or onion over the bottom of a baking or roasting dish and place the pork on top. Pour half a cup of water in the bottom of the dish. Place in the oven and turn the heat down to 130’C. Roast for 30 minutes then cover with foil. Continue cooking for 5-6 hours until pork falls apart when prodded with a fork. Pull pork apart with 2 forks while still warm. Chop up the skin and mix through the meat. I froze half of my pulled pork.

sweet potato skins

Roast 2 halved smallish sweet potatoes at 200’c for 45-60 minutes, flesh side down. Scoop out the soft flesh and reserve it for another meal (I made gnocchi with mine). Drain and rinse a tin of black beans and mix them with diced onion, tomato and grated cheese. Fill the 4 potato skins with the bean mix, top with pulled pork and pop back into the oven for 10 minutes or until warmed through. Top with avocado puree and coriander.

mushroom ricotta quinoa bake with hot smoked salmon

quinoabake

I do a bake of some sort every couple of weeks.  I love the simplicity of a “one bowl & bake” dinner and the resulting ready-made lunch for the next day. Pasta and rice are obvious choices for this dish but I used quinoa for our dinner last week. You could just as easily use brown rice, freekeh or couscous. Don’t have ricotta? Use sour cream or cream cheese instead. Some bacon, anchovies or chorizo sauteed with the mushrooms would be delicious if you choose. Like most of my recipes, this one is so easily adapted to what you have in your fridge or cupboard so make this meal work for you.

mushroom ricotta quinoa bake

  • 2c cooked quinoa (from about 1c raw)
  • 300g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 sprigs lemon thyme (or chopped parsley or basil)
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 2 big handfuls kale or spinach
  • 1c frozen peas
  • handful of olives
  • 250g ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • about 1/3c grated parmesan (or cheddar)
  • salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 180’c. Saute the mushrooms on high heat in some olive oil until golden and cooked through. Add the garlic, thyme and zucchini and cook until aromatic. Season well. Throw in the spinach and peas and stir over the heat until the spinach is wilted and peas are hot. Tip this mushroom mix into a large bowl and add the cooked quinoa and the olives. Leave to cool a little and adjust the seasoning. Whisk the ricotta and eggs  together and add to the quinoa mixture. Mix until combined. Place mix into a 20cm baking dish, sprinkle with 2 pinches of parmesan and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the remaining parmesan and crisp green salad. We enjoyed this bake all warm and cheesy for dinner and then the next day with hot smoked salmon and a lemon mustard vinaigrette.

lazy braised lentils, ham hock, mozzarella & pesto

hocklentils

This is comfort food in its purest form.  A humble pork hock is slowly cooked in a hearty tomato sauce and finished with lentils and herbs.  Unchallenging to cook and soothing to eat, this simple dish offers delicious variations to enjoy for a warming breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Honestly, the only non-negotiables here are a daggy bag of dried lentils, a bacon or ham hock and tinned tomatoes. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. I had mushrooms and half a bunch of parsley in my fridge but you could just as easily use carrot, celery, thyme, bay or basil. Don’t have a leftover fennel stalk like I did? Don’t worry. Simply throw whatever you have in a pot and let this delicious braise become oh-so-much-greater than the sum of its parts.

Lazy lentils, tomato, fennel & pork hock

  • 2tb olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, diced finely
  • 10-12 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced finely
  • 1 fennel stalk, sliced finely
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2t smoked paprika
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 bacon or ham hock
  • 2 tins diced tomato
  • 4 tins water
  • 500g dry lentils (I used the pretty French-style lentils)
  • 1/4 bunch parsley, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large deep pot that has a lid. Saute the onion, mushrooms, fennel and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add the spices and cook, while stirring, until they are also smelling fantastic. Add the hock and the tinned tomatoes. Using one of the empty tomato tins, add 4 tins of water. Cover with a lid. Simmer very gently until the pork meat is falling off the bone, roughly 2 hours. Remove the hock from the sauce and pull the meat from the bone into bite-size pieces. Add back into the sauce with the lentils and herbs and simmer for 20-30 minutes until lentils are cooked.

Note that I haven’t mentioned adding salt – don’t. The hock is sufficiently salty that you will want to taste the final product before adjusting the seasoning.

What I did next: this dish yields 6-8 hearty serves. I froze 2 serves for a future awesome easy meal. I divided the remaining cooled pork and lentils in half. I put one half into an oven-proof dish and sliced a 125g ball of mozzarella on top. I baked this @ 180’C for 15-20 minutes until the lentils were hot and the mozzarella was gooey. I drizzled pesto on top and served it with a green salad for dinner. We had the other half for breakfast a couple of days later – baked for the same amount of time but topped with 2 eggs, fresh chilli and herbs and served with bread. Delicious!

Instead of finishing the pork and lentils in the oven, you could quite easily heat them in a pot and serve them scattered with toasted breadcrumbs and crumbled parmesan or fresh ricotta and gremolata.

Kate xx

 

spice essentials and chicken with yoghurt, prunes and coriander

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I had a huge spring clean recently and culled my pantry with all the zeal of Martha Stewart on steroids. Amongst some forgotten treasures (ooh, chestnut cream!) and some obscure, barely used ingredients (asafoetida, anyone?), I was appalled by my stockpile of unused spices. Little jars and bags accumulated through the discovery of new dishes but which had sadly lost their magic and fragrance. So I threw out my dusty little collection and replaced them with fresh jars of the spices I use again and again.

My favourite ones are…

fennel seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, black pepper, smoked paprika, coriander seeds, star anise, ground cinnamon, whole nutmeg and cloves.

With these little lovelies, I can flavour Moroccan or Indian dishes, brew a pot of chai tea, make a Chinese master stock or enhance my baking.

Making use of 3 of my essentials, tonight’s dinner was deliciously spiced chicken in a fragrant broth.

Spiced Chicken, Yoghurt, Prunes, Coriander

  • 6 chicken thighs, preferably bone in, skin optional
  • ½ lemon, zest and juice of
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • a thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled
  • ½ bunch coriander, chopped
  • 1 tb olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced finely
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • a knob of butter
  • 1/3 c prunes or dates, chopped
  • 1 red capsicum, sliced into strips
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 2c chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½-1c yoghurt (or coconut cream)
  • 1/4 c toasted almonds or pine nuts

Blend the lemon, garlic, ginger and coriander to a paste in a food processor. Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a deep pot on medium heat. Add the onions, cover with a lid and cook until soft (about 10 minutes).

Add the butter, spices and a big pinch of salt and cook while stirring until fragrant. Push the onions to one side and add the chicken, skin side down. Cook the chicken thighs until golden brown. Turn over, season with salt and pepper and add the coriander paste and the stock. Stir well. Add the prunes (or dates), the capsicum and sweet potato. Simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes or until the sweet potato is cooked through and the chicken is tender. Turn the heat off and stir through the yoghurt.

Serve with fresh coriander, the toasted nuts and an extra dollop of yoghurt if desired.

Make it your own: add a tin of chickpeas when you add the yoghurt for a more robust meal and great leftovers.  I particularly like this dish with wholemeal couscous and wilted spinach but steamed brown rice, barley or quinoa would also be delicious. If you can’t find chicken thighs with the bone in, use marylands, drumsticks or a mix of thighs and drumsticks.

 

 

call me converted (cauliflower pizza)

caulipizzaphoto

Cauliflower pizza is the pizza you have when you’re not having pizza. Because, let’s be honest, it doesn’t bear much more than a passing resemblance to a thin and crispy margarita. It does, however, deserve to be appreciated for its own deliciousness.

A cauliflower pizza carries your favourite toppings beautifully and offers a rich, golden base, crispy around the edges. And if you are trying to eat more vegetables or get your wee ones to eat them, this is the perfect nutrient-dense meal for a quick week-night dinner. The base can be mixed the night before, ready to be baked when you get home from a busy day.

Cauliflower Pizza

Makes 2 large single-serve pizzas.

  • 260g (2c) riced cauliflower, cooked, cooled
  • 60g ( ½c) almond meal
  • 15g ( ¼c) nutritional yeast flakes or ¼ c grated parmesan
  • 1                 egg
  • fresh thyme leaves or dried oregano
  • salt flakes and black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Spread out into 2 circles approx. 16cm diameter. Bake in an oven at 200’C for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Top with desired toppings and place back in the oven to heat through, another 5 or 10 minutes.

My favourite toppings? Per pizza – 2tsp tomato paste, roast eggplant, Sicilian olives, marinated mushrooms or red capsicum, anchovies, feta.