Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vietnamese Noodle Salad

I suppose I've said this before, but allow me to reiterate. Asian cuisine is not my forte! I am however, decidedly determined to change this. I tested out this noodle salad recipe on two of my favourite guinea pigs and both gave it a big thumbs up. I'm not a fan of cucumber and even I thought it was pretty amazing! The lemongrass dressing was delicious and zingy, and the best part of all was how super easy it was to make.


150g rice vermicelli noodles
1 small handful mint leaves, roughly torn
1 small handful coriander leaves, roughly torn
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 small unripe (green) mango, peeled and chopped
1/2 lebanese cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup crushed peanuts


2 limes, juice and grated zest
2 tbsp grated palm sugar
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 stem lemongrass (white part only), finely chopped
1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded

Place the noodles in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and allow to soak until tender. Drain, rinse under cold water and transfer to a serving bowl.

Next add in the cucumber, mint, coriander, onion, mango and half the peanuts and toss well to combine.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad, tossing to combine. Top with the remaining peanuts and some extra coriander and mint.

Serves 4.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Roast Chicken with Potatoes & Cherry Tomatoes

This might actually be a Jamie Oliver recipe, but seeing as it was my friend Ewan who cooked it for me first, i will give him the credit! And what a wonderful dish it is. The best part being that you throw it all in one baking tray and serve it in the same, allowing everyone to help themselves at the table.

6 free range chicken marylands
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
700g chat potatoes, skin on
8 sprigs rosemary
8 sprigs thyme
Olive oil
Sea salt & ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

In a mortar and pestle, crush half the rosemary and thyme along with some sea salt and pepper, then add a few tablespoons of olive oil to form a marinade. Rub all over the chicken, and leave it to soak up the flavours for a few minutes.

While this is happening, put your potatoes in a large saucepan of cold water, season with sea salt then bring to the boil and cook until tender. Prick the skins of the tomatoes, and drop them into the boiling water with the potatoes for about 30 seconds until the skins begin to peel back, then remove and plunge into cold water to stop them cooking. Drain the potatoes.

Heat a large frypan with a little olive oil, then fry the chicken, skin side down until it begins to colour up. Turn and seal on the other side, then transfer to a large roasting tray.

Remove the skins from the tomatoes, then scatter around the chicken in the baking tray. Add the cooked potatoes, crushing each one slightly with a fork. Season generously with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the remaining fresh rosemary leaves, and sprigs of thyme.

Roast for approximately 1 hour, until the chicken is tender and golden and the potatoes have crisped. Then simply place on the table and let everyone dig in!

Serves 6.

Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells

As you may or may not know I was once a long term vegetarian, and even though my days of meat deprivation are since long gone, there are a few staple recipes that I still love more than any meat dish - this being one of them! Something about cheesy baked pasta dishes seems to delight even the most dedicated carnivore. Be certain to make an ample amount - I have never had anyone turn down a second helping!

300g conchiglioni (large pasta shells)
500g fresh ricotta

1 bunch silverbeet or spinach, rinsed & stalks removed
1 cup (packed) grated parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, crushed

700g tomato puree

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried parsley

Olive oil

Sea salt & ground pepper

This is a relatively simple recipe, though you will need to dirty up a few pots and get everything going at once when you start... Firstly, preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

Next, bring a large pot of water to the boil, and cook the pasta shells until tender. Whilst your shells are bubbling away, place your rinsed spinach in a steamer or boiling water and cook until just softened and bright green.

In a mixing bowl, combine the fresh ricotta with 1/2 the parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Then, drain your cooked spinach, squeeze in a clean tea towel to remove any excess water (be careful not to burn yourself in the process!), chop finely and then add to the ricotta mix, stirring well to combine.

Grab a saucepan and heat some olive oil and fry off the garlic until fragrant. Pour in the tomato puree, and sprinkle in the dried herbs, along with salt and pepper to taste. Allow this to simmer for 5 minutes, then pour into a large baking dish.

Once your pasta shells are drained and cool enough to handle, simply fill each with a spoonful of the spinach and ricotta mix, and place in the baking dish with the tomato sauce. Repeat until you run out of ricotta, then sprinkle the whole lot with the remaining parmesan.

Bake the shells until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden brown and crisp. Serve with a simple garden salad and of course, a loaf of garlic bread.

Serves 6.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Leek & Potato Soup

Well the winter days are slowly coming to and end, which sadly means I am running out of soup weather! I thought I would squeeze in a couple more before summer rolls around... This potato and leek recipe is one of my absolute favourites, and it's so simple!

6 - 8 potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 onion, diced
3 leeks, washed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 litre chicken stock
1 cup cream
1 tbsp butter
Sea salt and cracked pepper

Melt the butter in a large heavy based saucepan, and saute the onion, garlic and leeks until softened. Add the potatoes, keeping them fairly even in the pot, then pour over the chicken stock, which should only just cover the potatoes.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are very tender. Season well with salt and pepper then mash the potatoes until you achieve a nice thick consistency. Pour in the cream and stir to combine, then it's ready to serve.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Asian Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Bearing in mind that Asian cookery is not my area of expertise, I have to say I was pretty happy with the way this soup turned out! Very fresh and light with lots of wonderful flavours going on. And best of all it's incredibly healthy! I make this soup at least once a week now.

1L salt reduced chicken stock
1 cup water
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, roughly sliced
2 inch piece ginger, roughly sliced
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 1 inch pieces
Cracked black pepper
1 skinless chicken breast (approx 200g)
1 bunch choy sum, cut into 2-3 inch lengths
1 handful snowpeas, halved
150g udon noodles
1 long red chilli, finely sliced for garnish

Pour the stock, water and soy sauce into a saucepan and add the garlic, ginger and lemongrass pieces. Season with pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the chicken breast and allow poach gently for 20 minutes, or until the breast is cooked through.

Meanwhile, place the noodles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside until noodles are tender and ready for use.

Once the chicken is cooked through, remove from the stock, allow to cool slightly then shred. Strain the stock to remove the garlic, ginger and lemongrass pieces.

To assemble the soup pile noodles in a large bowl, top with the fresh choy sum, snow peas and shredded chicken, then ladle over the hot stock. Garnish with fresh chilli and coriander.

Serves 2.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spaghetti Bolognaise

So much for the low carb dinners.... oh well, it was cold last night and i didn't want to have to leave the house, so spaghetti it was! And yes, i do realise that it is not spaghetti in my photo, but i much prefer spirals because they grip the sauce. Spiral bolognaise just doesn't have the same ring to it though...

Olive oil
500g lean beef mince
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tin (400g) diced tomatoes
700ml tomato puree
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp chilli flakes
Sea salt & cracked pepper
350g pasta (whichever type you prefer)
Percorino cheese to serve

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute the onions and garlic until tender. Add the mince, and using a wooden spoon break it up until it is lightly browned and there are no big lumps. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and tomato puree, mixing well.

Next add the herbs and season well with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for about 1/2 an hour.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta. When the sauce is ready, stir a big spoonful through the cooked pasta, then divide into serving bowls. Top with a good helping of extra sauce and some grated or shaved pecorino cheese. (You can swap the pecorino for parmesan or romano if you prefer it).

Serves 4.