Roast Vegetable Quinoa Salad

I’d had a naughty few days and needed a healthy pick me up. I saw a similar version of this salad online somewhere and just adapted the recipe to use up what I had in the fridge. I had some sweet potato, heaps of fresh coriander and some ricotta. The only thing I bought was the punnet of cherry tomatoes because the idea of using roast cherry tomatoes was too appealing to pass up. It was a very filling salad, but you never feel heavy after eating something like this. Oh and I LOVE olives. I usually buy them in jars, and this week at ALDI I found they had jars of olives for about half the price of the local supermarket! YAY! So I bought a few jars and have been enjoying my little snack for a few days now.

So as far as the roast vegetables go, all I roasted was tomatoes and sweet potato. Some other options could be parsnip, beetroot, brussel sprouts, pumpkin, artichoke or capsicum. Its totally up to you and your fridge! I also saw a recipe during the week that had roast parsnip, artichoke and beetroot, and they sautéed tofu in soy sauce and added it to the salad. That sounded delicious!

Roast Vegetable Quinoa Salad

(Serves 4, Prep time 10mins, Cooking time 25mins)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of uncooked Quinoa

1 punnet of cherry tomatoes

1/2 a large sweet potato cubed

1/2 cup of pitted olives (any kind)

1/4 of chopped chopped coriander/cilantro

1/2 cup of light ricotta cheese

Fresh squeezed lime juice and salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Spray a little olive oil cooking spray onto a baking trap and add the cubed sweet potato and cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on top and bake for about 20minutes qt 200C. The tomatoes are ready when the skins start to break.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa in a rice cooker with three cups of water.
  3. When the quinoa and vegetables are done, combine in a large bowl with half the coriander, half the ricotta, the olives, lime juice and salt and pepper.
  4. place the rest of the coriander and ricotta on top for serving. You could also fancy it up with a couple of wedges of lime!

 

 

 

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Beef and Veggie Pasties

I make pasties about once a month or so usually when I have run out of fresh vegetables but still have some frozen. I always have some beef mince and puff pastry in the freezer so its an easy option that’s pretty fast to make, very delicious, and very popular!

Beef and Veggie Pasties

Prep time 15mins, cooking time 25mins

Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed

3oog beef mince

1 medium brown onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley

1 cup of frozen peas, corn and carrot

1/2 cup of diced fresh vegetables such as potato or mushroom

1/4 cup barbeque sauce

2 tbs tomato paste

3/4 cup beef stock

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Get two large baking trays/cookie sheets and place a sheet of baking paper on each.

place a little olive oil into a medium saucepan, when hot add the garlic and onion and cook until the onion is soft. Add the beef mince and cook through.

Meanwhile in a large mixing bowl combine the remaining ingredients except the pastry!

When the beef is cooked add the bowl full of saucy vegetables and parsley to the beef, stir to combine and bring to a simmer for 5minutes or until some of the liquid has reduced. Set aside for 10minutes and allow to cool.

Cut each puff pastry sheet in half so you have 6 strips of pastry. Place one strip at a time on a baking tray, and add about half a cup of the cooling beef mixture on one end of the strip. Fold the other end of the strip over the beef mixture so the edges of the pastry touch. fold over the edges, about 1/2 cm in, and then tap down with a fork.

Repeat this process with the other 5 strips of pastry, three pasties to a baking tray. Poke the tops of the pasties with a fork a couple of times. This stops the pasties from puffing up too much while baking.

Place in the oven and bake for 20-25minutes or until golden brown and crispy on top.

Eat your pasties with some tomato sauce and a salad. Or if you really have nothing else in the fridge just eat it by itself and then go shopping the next morning ;).

 

 

 

Thai Fish Curry with Sticky Rice

Thai Fish Curry with Sticky Rice

I haven’t posted anything for ages! We have had a few good meals but the camera hasn’t been around, or I’ve been lacking in time due to study/work/sleep etc. Craig has been asking for fish curry for a while and tonight turned out to be the night. I lost one of my cookbooks in a move recently (if anyone has my Modern Asian book let me know!) and so tonight’s curry resulted in an amalgamation of several recipes found via google. We really loved the curry, it had a nice kick too it, but wasn’t too hot, was really tasty, fresh, very fast and worked perfectly with our favourite sticky rice.

It only takes about half an hour to cook, so its a great option for a midweek dinner. Let me know what you think!

Thai Fish Curry

(Prep time 10mins, cooking time 20mins, serves 6)

Ingredients:

Curry Sauce

1/2 cup fresh coriander stems and leaves, chopped

1 can good-quality coconut milk

4 green onions, sliced (including green stem)

1 thumb-size piece galangal or ginger, grated

4 cloves garlic

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tsp chilli powder (plus or minus depending on how hot you like your curry)

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp brown sugar (or more to taste)

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp shrimp paste (from an Asian grocer, if you don’t have any you can replace it with an extra tbs of fish sauce)

1 fresh red chilli or1  tsp of dried chilli flakes

Curry

1 large fillet of firm white fish ( I used Ling because it was on special at the supermarket!) – see note.

2 cups of fresh vegetables. I use sweet potato, red capsicum and green beans.

A handful of fresh coriander and lemon wedges for serving .

Sticky Rice

3 cups of glutinous/sushi rice and lots of water – see note

Method

  1. Put your three cups of rice into a mixing bowl and cover with water, stir until the water becomes cloudy and drain. Repeat this process and the third time keep the rice in the water and allow it to soak for 20 or so minutes. As long as you can. If you don’t have time that’s okay, your rice just wont be as sticky.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C
  3. Put all the ingredients required in the curry sauce into a food processor and pulse until it forms a smooth sauce.
  4. Place the fish fillet in some aluminium foil and cook in the oven for 8-10minutes.
  5. While the fish is cooking, put the sauce into a large pot or wok and bring to the boil. At this stage, drain the rice and add it to the rice cooker with three cups of water. Start cooking the rice!
  6. Reduce to a simmer and add the fresh vegetables.
  7. Remove the fish from the oven transfer to a bowl and break the the fish into small pieces.
  8. Add the fish to the curry sauce and vegetables keep on very low heat until you are ready to serve it/until the rice is ready.
  9. Serve with the fresh coriander and a lemon wedge.

Note: You can find glutinous rice, or sushi rice at Asian grocers for about the same price at regular medium or long grain rice. If you don’t have any you can pretty much you any kind of rice, it just wont be as sticky.

You can easily swap the fish for chicken, prawns or keep it as a vegetarian curry. If you want your fish in larger pieces cube it pre cooked and add it to the sauce about five minutes after adding the vegetables. Cook for a further five minutes and the fish should be ready.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

For my birthday I received the Jamie Oliver 30 minute meals book. It is unlikely that I will ever actually do one of the complete meals, but there are plenty of great recipes to try. One of the first ones that stood out to me was the Cauliflower macaroni. It looked tasty and had very cheap ingredients. Considering it was part of a 30minute meal I’d say it takes about 25minutes to prepare and cook, with plenty of time for some chatting (or desert making) in the process. It tasted great, and I’d say its  good way to hide vegetables. Who doesn’t love Mac and Cheese!? The crunchy was my favourite and you could do it with or without the bacon. The original recipe had pancetta instead of the bacon, I didn’t have any and I have a freezer full of bacon which worked great instead. Also, I swapped creme fraiche for sour cream, which is pretty similar. It is so easy to buy sour cream here, and not so easy or cheap to buy creme fraiche.

I hope you try this one. Its super easy, delicious, and cheap. Oh and it makes enough to feed about 5,000 people (…8)

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

(time: 25mins, feeds: 8)

Ingredients

6 rashers of bacon

1 large head of cauliflower

500g dried macaroni

250g cheddar cheese grated

4 thick slices of old bread

a few sprigs of fresh rosemary

2 cloves of garlic crushed

250g sour cream

Salt and Pepper and olive oil

Method

Preheat oven to 220c

Place a large pot of salted water onto the stove and bring to the boil.

Place the rashers of bacon in a large baking dish (big enough for the finished mac and cheese) and place in the hot oven. Allow to crisp up.

While the bacon is cooking, trim the cauliflower of the leaves and stalk and roughly chop into medium sized florets. Add the pasta and cauliflower to the pot of boiling water. Return to the boil and cook until the pasta is cooked but  still a  little on the firm side. Drain the pasta and cauliflower and keep a few cups of the pasta water for later.

By this stage the bacon should be done. Remove the bacon from the oven and then the baking dish and set aside. Keep the oven on. Put the cauliflower and macaroni into the baking dish.

In a food processor combine the bread, rosemary, garlic, cooked bacon and a little olive oil. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Add the cheese and the sour cream to the pasta with about a cup of the pasta water and mix through with some salt and pepper to taste. Add a little more pasta water if you think you need to cook your pasta a little more, or add less water if you pasta is fully cooked. Once combined, pour the breadcrumbs over the top and spread evenly.

Put the cauliflower mac and cheese in the oven and bake for 8-10minutes or until the breadcrumbs on top are nicley browned and crispy and the macaroni and cheese is bubbling.

Serve while still hot!

Leek and Zucchini Slice

Sometimes you just feel like something simple and healthy and thats how I was feeling today. I wanted lots of flavour without all the carbs, and I wanted some vegetables.

This recipe has been altered to fit leek into it and it came from an ancient recipe book I found at my mums house. Both my mum and mother in law make a great Zucchini slice, so hopefully this one is up to their level!

Leek and Zucchini Slice

(Prep time 15mins, cooking time 45mins, serves 6)

Ingredients

2 medium sized zucchinis grated

1 medium leek finely sliced

3 rashers of bacon finely diced

1 large brown onion finely diced

1 lightly packed cup of tasty (cheddar) cheese grated

3/4 cup self raising flour

4 medium eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C

Add the onion leek and bacon to a lightly oiled frying pan on medium heat and cook until the onion and leek are soft but not browned, about 5-7minutes. Once soft, remove from the heat and allow a few minutes for t to cool.

In a bowl combine the grated zucchini (squeeze some of the excess liquid from the zucchini with your hands first), cheese, flour, onion, leek and bacon mixture and salt and pepper. Once combined, add the egg and oil and mix well.

Line a 18x28cm oven proof dish with baking paper and pour the mixture into the dish. Spread evenly and put into the hot oven.

Bake for 45minutes or until nicely browned on top.

Serve hot or cold!

Little Quinoa and Tuna Patties

This recipe is super healthy…. So initially I was turned off it (haha). However I had some quinoa in the cupboard (after my aunt Jessie talked up the ‘super grain’ so much) and this recipe looked about as tasty as quinoa gets! I found the recipe on pinterest this morning (http://pinterest.com/pin/13581236346823678/) and made it for dinner tonight. Clearly my time on pinterest was not wasted!! The original recipe was a little different but I had to make it appeal to Craig who LOVES tuna. I’m glad I added the tuna and the zucchini, because the patties turned out really tasty and I will definitely be making them again. I ate them with a baked sweet potato salad with a little BBQ sauce, Craig put his and the salad into a tortilla and made a burrito. Someone out there let me know if you can get your kids to eat them!

Little Quinoa and Tuna Patties

(prep time: 10minutes, cooking time: 20minutes, makes 18) 

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, room temperature

4 large eggs, beaten

1/3 cup finely chopped coriander (cilantro)

1 onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 425g tin of tuna in springwater

1/2 a medium zucchini grated

1 cup whole-grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method

Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the tuna, grated zucchini, coriander, onion, cheese, and garlic. Add the bread crumbs, stir, and let stand for a few minutes. Form mixture into 18 1-inch thick patties. (Add more breadcrumbs if the mixture is too wet; add water if too dry.) Mixture can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Working in batches, add patties, cover, and cook until bottoms are deeply browned, about 7 to 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium if there is no browning after 10 minutes and continue to cook until patties are browned. Flip patties with a spatula and cook the second sides until golden, about 7 minutes. Remove from skillet and cool on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining patties.

Sweet Potato and Haloumi Quiche

The name of this recipe is a sweet potato and haloumi quiche, but really its a sweet potato, spinach, red onion, mustard, ham and haloumi quiche, but that was just too long! When Craig and I were dating he made a quiche similar to this one and I was so impressed I married him! Since that time this quiche has evolved by incorporating lots of ideas mostly found in various Donna Hay magazines. However Craig can still claim the sauteed onion and seeded mustard base, and that is one of my favourite parts!

Sweet Potato and Haloumi Quiche

(preparation time 20min, cooking time 50minutes, serves 6)

Ingredients

1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry (thawed)

1 tbs olive oil

2 tsp seeded mustard

½ medium red onion thinly sliced

70g baby spinach stems removed

200g sweet potato thinly sliced

50g shaved ham

4 eggs

1 ½ cup milk

2 tbs melted butter

1 cup grated cheese

½ cup self raising flour

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Spray a 24cm quiche dish with cooking spray. Place puff pastry sheet on dish and press to shape into the dish. Poke holes with a fork into the pastry case to prevent the case form puffing up too much when you dry bake it. Place the pastry case into the oven and dry bake in the oven for 10minutes.

2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add onion and seeded mustard, stir fry until the onion is soft. Add the onion and mustard mixture to the base of the puff pastry case once dry baked.

3. meanwhile, place the sliced sweet potato in a microwaveable bowl with a few tablespoons of water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for a couple of minutes on high to soften the sweet potato.

4. Place a thin layer of ham on top of the onion and mustard mix followed by the spinach and then sweet potato. repeat this one more tiome so you have two layers of each (except the onion). Place the sliced haloumi on top of the last layer of sweet potato.

5. Whisk together the egg, milk, butter, flour and a little salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Fold in the cheese and slowly pour the mixture over the layered spinach, sweet potato and haloumi. You will find that the cheese tends to stay on top but this means that a nice cheesy crust forms.

6. Bake the quiche in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden. Allow it to cool a little before cutting into it. You can eat it hot or cold, both are great! Serve with a salad or some steamed vegetables.

Bus Station Keftas

Craig bought me a North African and Middle Eastern recipe book for Christmas this year, I have only tried a few recipes so far but this one has been a stand out! According to the book this is the kind of dish that is sold at bus and train stations throughout North Africa and the Middle East. It is cooked on the spot and eaten straight from the pan.

Its a really easy dish to make and the only item that is hard to find is a Moroccan spice blend called ras el hanout. I found it online from spice bazaar and it cost me $4 for a pack. Sounds expensive but you only use one teaspoon. I have made it about five times and haven’t used half the pack yet. Because ras el hanout is a mixture of many different spices there isn’t really an easy way to replace it with something else (unless you make it up yourself).

Bus Station Kefta

Serves 4

Ingredients

225g minced (ground) lamb

1 onion finely chopped

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

5 eggs

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Bunch of flat leaf parsley chopped

2 tsp olive oil

400g can of chopped tomatoes

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp ral el hanout

Small bunch of fresh coriander roughly chpped

Salt and ground black pepper

Crusty bread to serve

Method

1. In a bowl, knead the minced lamb with onions, breadcrumbs, one egg, cinnamon, chopped parsley and salt and pepper until well mixed. Lift the mixture in your hand and slap it down into the bowl several times.

2. Take a small amount of mixture and shape it into a small ball, about the size of a walnut. Repeat with the remaining mixture to make about 12 balls.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy frying pan. fry the meatballs until nicely browned. Turning them occasionally so they cook evenly.

4. Stir the tomatoes, sugar, ras el hanout and most of the chopped coriander into the pan. Bring to the boil, cook for a few minutes to reduce the liquid and roll the balls around in the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Make room in the pan for the remaining eggs in the pan and crack them into the spaces between the meatballs. Cover the pan, reduce the heat and cook for about three minutes, or until the eggs are just set.

6. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped coriander and serve in the pan with chunks of bread to use as scoops.

Note: I didn’t have any fresh coriander, and no time to get any so I just used a little extra parsley and added half a teaspoon of ground coriander into the sauce. Also I was making it for a large family dinner and so I tripled the recipe, and cooked it in a large casserole dish. Which meant that after I cooked the meatballs in the pan I combined it all in the casserole dish and put it in the oven at 200C, the eggs took about 5-8 minutes to cook in the oven.

Fresh Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli

After 6 LONG days in a row at work, today was the start of my weekend (two days late) and what better way to spend it than eating delicious food! I was looking to make some fresh pasta and had some ricotta and spinach in the fridge so that is what I googled! I came across this great recipe by Food Nouveau http://foodnouveau.com/2011/04/20/recipes/making-fresh-homemade-pasta-spicy-spinach-ricotta-ravioli-with-light-tomato-sauce/, and I am so glad I made it because it was healthy, delicious and really fun to make. It did take a while, probably about 2 hours in total including the rest time for the pasta, but it was definitely worth it!

Hopefully you will be able to make it on your weekend, whatever day of the week that may be!

 

Fresh Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Light Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

Makes about 32 ravioli, enough for 4 to 6 servings.

Pasta

Sea salt

150g baby spinach

1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)

1 large egg

Filling

300g fresh ricotta cheese

50g prosciutto, finely diced

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil

1 small hot red chilli, very finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

Sauce

10 large ripe vine tomatoes

6 garlic cloves, finely minced

3tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

2 tsp sea salt

3 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil

Freshly ground black pepper

Shaved parmesan cheese to serve

Method:

To make the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add baby spinach and cook until wilted and tender, about 3 minutes. Drain in a sieve and run under cold water to cool. Squeeze water from spinach just until damp and then finely chop.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and pinch salt. Mound flour mixture and form a well in the centre. Add spinach and egg to the well. Using a fork, gently break up yolk and slowly incorporate flour from inside rim of well. Continue until liquid is absorbed, then knead in bowl until dough forms a complete mass. It will still look floury and the vibrant green color of spinach will not come through yet. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes more, sprinkling more flour as the dough becomes sticky again.

Once you’re done kneading, wrap the dough tightly in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes, or for a couple of hours in the refrigerator. The resting period is really important so don’t skip it!

To roll the pasta: Divide pasta dough into 4 pieces. Cover 3 pieces with plastic wrap (as it dries out very quickly). Flatten dough so that it will fit through the rollers of a hand-cranked pasta machine set at the widest setting. Feed the pasta into the machine at this setting for 3 to 4 times, folding, flouring the exterior and turning pasta until it’s smooth. Keep on rolling pasta through machine, decreasing the setting one notch at a time (do not fold or turn pasta) until pasta sheet is about 2mm thick, for me this is setting number 4.

Flour both sides of rolled pasta sheet and cut out 7cm pasta rounds (I used a scone cutter). Make sure each round is well floured and keep flat on a plate covered with plastic wrap while you roll out the next 3 pasta sheets.

Note: After cutting out rounds in a pasta sheet, you’ll be left with quite a lot of trimming. Brush off excess flour, knead it back together in your hands (like a ball of play-dough), then flatten it and put it back in the pasta-rolling machine, rolling it just once per notch, until you’ve reached the desired thickness again. You’ll be able to cut out at least 4-5 more rounds from this smaller sheet.

Keep your pasta rounds well floured, tightly covered in plastic wrap while you quickly mix the filling together.

To make the filling: Mix everything together.

To make the ravioli: Cover two baking sheets with baking paper.

Place 1 heaped teaspoon of filling in the centre of a pasta round. Pick up the pasta round in one hand, and wet its edges with cold water using one finger or a pastry brush (careful not to wet with too much water). Cover with a second round, pressing edges to seal, making sure no air bubble remains inside. Repeat for all ravioli. Keep ravioli flat on a baking sheet, making sure they don’t overlap. Cover with plastic wrap.

To make the sauce: Dice the tomatoes and finely chop the spring onion. In a large pan over medium heat, fry the garlic in 3tbs of the olive oil for a minute or two until cooked, but not yet coloured. Add the red pepper flakes followed by the diced tomato, spring onion and salt. Allow the tomatoes to slowly simmer and soften until they form a sauce. Add the chopped basil, several cranks of black pepper  to finish. Heat back up, then take it off the heat and reserve until ready to serve.

Putting it all together: Bring a large pot of salted water to a low boil; avoid a rolling boil, which may cause the pasta to open up. Gently reheat the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally. Warm up serving bowls in the oven.

In batches of 12 to 14, cook ravioli in the boiling water until tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer ravioli to serving bowls. Spoon sauce over ravioli, garnish with shaved parmesan and serve immediately.

Because there is only Craig and I , I just used half of the pasta for the ravioli and then made the rest of it into fettuccine with the pasta cutter. I’m going to freeze the pasta for later in the week! However, if you want to freeze any ravioli or just the pasta itself, cut it how ever you want it and place it in a zip lock bag in the freezer. It will last for a few months.


Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup

One of the best things about being at university was the cheap Chinese place that sold chicken and sweet corn soup for $2.50 a bowl. For my friend Sarah and I, that was a pretty sweet deal in winter. Recently I have been craving some of that soup and the canned stuff is just not the same. I had a day off work today so set some time aside to make it and it turns out it it is probably the easiest soup I have ever made!

I ended up making a combination of a few different recipes that I looked at online and here was the final result:

 

Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup

(Serves 6, 10 mins prep time, 35 mins cooking time)

 

Ingredients:

1 medium sized chicken breast (or two thighs) skin off

2 cans of creamed corn

6 cups (1.5L) of salt reduced chicken stock

2 tbs light soy sauce

1 tsp fresh ginger

2 eggs lightly beaten

2 tbs corn flour combined with 2 tbs water

1 tsp sesame oil (optional really)

salt and pepper

Spring onion as a garnish

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C

Trim chicken, place on a sheet of aluminium foil, season with sesame oil and a little salt and pepper. Wrap in foil, place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes (until cooked through).

While the chicken is cooking, combine the cans of creamed corn, chicken stock, soy sauce and ginger in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to simmer.

Once simmering, slowly pour in the egg mixture, stirring as you go, this will cook the egg in thin strands.

Add the corn flour mixture to thicken the soup, simmer for a few more minutes then set aside.

Once the chicken is cooked, allow it to cool a little then tear into thin strips, add the chicken to the soup and heat through.

Divide soup into individual bowls and add the spring onion as a garnish before serving.

 

This soup is seriously delicious!

 

Note: You can use any kind of chicken for this for example BBQ chicken from the night before torn into strips, you can cut up your chicken finely and then pan fry, steam or poach etc. Essentially you just want about 400g of shredded cooked chicken. I just think that you get the juiciest chicken by cooking it in the oven in foil and you can do other things while it’s cooking!

Enjoy!