Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Chilli Chicken with Cucumber – Jan 31st 2006

First of all I should say how happy I am that after 1 WHOLE WEEK I finally have my home internet connection up & running again – it was finally established that a new modem was required. So sorry for the bombardment of posts, they have been patiently waiting to be added in, hope you enjoy!

Tonight’s dinner was a quickie as we have netball on Tuesdays so a) cant afford to stuff our faces on a feast or would not be possible to move off the couch & play & b) no time to prepare such luscious dishes anyway. This one was from the Sep table magazine, nothing difficult, just a different mix of the usual ingredients. Have to say that again the end result was really quite nice, light, refreshing & should give us plenty of bounce on the court tonight for our 9.45pm VERY LATE game – Go Nances!

Chilli Chicken with Cucumber

2 skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 red chillies, deseeded & finely chopped
2 teaspoons peanut oil
2 spring onions, sliced diagonally
2 lebanese cucumbers, halved, seeds scooped out & cut in strips
¼ cup chopped coriander leaves
1 tablespoon lime juice
Cooked Hokkien noodles

Place chicken, chillies & oil in a bowl, mix & stand for 15 minutes. Place a wok on high heat & stir fry chicken in batches for 1-2 minutes each until browned & tender. Place in a bowl.

Reheat wok & stir fry spring onions for 1 minute. Return chicken to wok & toss until heated.

Remove from heat & add cucumbers, coriander, lime juice & noodles, toss to combine & serve.

Thats finally it for a couple of days!

Fragrant Green Chicken Curry – Sunday 28th Jan 06

Sunday night I cooked up a curry from Jamie Oliver’s original ‘The Naked Chef’ cookbook, the flavours were very fresh & it was very simple to make. I have cooked various curries from his different cookbooks & they are all fantastic so this is another winner to add to the collection. He suggested serving with his chunky coconut, tomato, cucumber & lime relish which I sort of did apart from the fact that I could not buy coconut anywhere yesterday so it was minus the coconut. I have since been told that coconuts are too old at the moment, will have to try & remember - no coconuts in January!!! Still it was nice to have something fresh to serve on the side. Sorry the photo once again doesnt do the curry justice, I find curries generally arent that photographic at any time (for me the amateur photographer anyway).

Fragrant Green Chicken Curry

4 skinless chicken breasts, each cut into 5 pieces
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
1 handful chopped pistachio nuts

Green Curry Paste

6 spring onions, washed & trimmed
4-6 medium green chillies, deseeded & finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon fresh root ginger, peeled & finely chopped
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, pounded or crushed
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt & pepper to taste
Handful of lime leaves, torn
2 lemon grass stalks, trimmed back & finely chopped
2 good handfuls fresh basil on the stalk
3 good handfuls fresh coriander on the stalk
3 tablespoons olive oil
zest & juice of 4 limes

Put all the curry paste ingredients in a food processor and whiz to a smooth green paste. Marinate the chicken in a little of the paste for 30 minutes, then add a little oil & chicken pieces to a hot pan. Fry for 4 minutes, thenad the remainder of the paste. Stir in the coconut milk, bring to the boil & simmer for 8 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Season to taste.

Sprinkle with the pistachios & some coriander leaves & serve with steamed rice

Roasted Duck breast Salad – Dinner Jan 26 2006 Australia Day

Sorry its not lamb! Duck however would have to be one of my fave foods & most of the time you can whip up somehting absolutely yummy that makes you look like a star in the kitchen & it only takes you 5 minites to prepare, like this next one. For dinner I cooked up this duck salad from Marie Claires ‘Luscious’, it was really really good & seriously only took abt 5 minutes to prepare & not much longer to cook & throw together

Roasted Duck Breast Salad

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon chinese 5 spice
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 boneless duck breasts, skin on
½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
100g mixed lettuce
2 mangoes, peeled, seeded & sliced
2 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
2 tablespoons Chinese Black vinegar

Preheat the oven to 180c (350f/Gas 4). In a small bowl combine. Sugar, five spice & salt. Lightly score the skin of the breasts in a crisscross pattern, then rub the sugar mixture into the duck skin.

Heat a non stick frying pan over high heat & sear the duck, skin side down for a few minutes, or until crisp – the skin will go quite dark as the sugar caramelises. Put the duck, skin side up, on a rack set over a baking tray & roast for 15 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven, cover with foil & allow the duck to rest for a few minutes.
Roughly grin the peppercorns in a mortar & pestle. Arrange salad leaves, mango & spring onions on 4 serving plates, Finely slice the duck breasts & arrange over the salad. Drizzle the duck with the vinegar & sprinkle with the ground peppercorns

Choc Banana Bread – Australia Day 26th Jan 2006

I had a bunch of very overripe bananas to use up thanks to all of the recent scorchers so the second treat I cooked up was some chocolate banana bread from Bill Grangers ‘Bills Food’, this was amazing, esp when still hot from the oven & the chocolate all oozy, yum. You can see in the photos how high the loaf rose & all of the chunky banana pieces & melty chocolate, mmmm, cant beleive I gave this one away after only 1/2 a piece (only half as I'd already scoffed 2 huge choc chip cookies)

Choc Banana Bread

250g (2 cups) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
125g (4 ½ oz) unsalted butter, softened
250 g (1 cup) caster sugar
4 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
175g (1 cup) good quality dark or milk chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180c (350f/gas 4). Sift the flour & baking powder into a large bowl. Mix the butter, sugar, bananas, eggs, vanilla extract & chocolate chips in a separate bowl. Add to the dry ingredients & stir to combine, being careful not to overmix.

Pour the batter into a non-stick or lightly greased & floured 19 x 11cm loaf tin & bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until bread is cooked when tested with a skewer. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Chocolate Chip Cookies – Australia Day Jan 26 2006

Today we had another scorcher so my plans to go to the Hanging Rock Races were unfortunately cancelled. Woke up & felt like baking so thought I would whip up some treats & take them over to Michaels parents, they have a pool which was just the thing for us to cool down in.

Luckily downstairs at our place stays nice & cool so having the oven on all morning didnt heat things up too badly

The first thing I made were some gorgeous chocolate chip cookies from Marie Claire ‘Cooking’. Very simple to make, the brown sugar & coconut adding lots to the flavour, the photo doesnt do them justice, here’s the recipe

Chocolate Chip cookies

125g (4oz) butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup plain flour
1 cup SR Flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
250g (8oz) chopped chocolate (I used Nestle dark)

Place butter, vanilla & sugar in a bowl & beat until creamy. Beat egg into mixture & then stir through flours, coconut & chocolate. Roll 2 tablespoons of mixture a ta time into balls, place balls on lined baking trays & flatten slightly. Bake in a preheated 190c (375f) oven for 15 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool on trays. Makes 20

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Margaret River March 2004 Randon Travel Note 5

A couple of years ago Michael & I had the pleasure of spending a week in Margaret River. We stayed at a friends beach house in Dunsborough which was fantastic, it was right on the beach so every morning when we woke up we literally stepped out the back door & onto the beach for a long walk & swim before heading off to the wineries. We usually visited 3 or 4 a day & some of our favourites were:

Vasse Felix, though I'm disapointed we didn’t get a chance to have lunch here as its supposed to be great. Their wines never dissapoint & I still re order now
Clairoult, where we had a magnificent lunch on the Al fresco deck
Voyager, though this is one of the larger wineries, the dutch style gardens are gorgeous & worth checking out
Flying Fish, which was quite a unique little winery
Leeuwin Estate, set in beautiful grounds
Wise, Had a superb lunch here with possibly the best views in the whole of the Margaret river - check out the view in the photo
Wildwood Winery in Yallingup - another beautiful boutique winery with a few good drops
Pierro, Caves Road, Willyabrup, another one where a few purchases were made

The day we did a mini bus tour so we could all enjoy the tasting we were always the last on the bus taking a lot longer than the others, we were trying it all & buying most of it too while the others seemed to be just in it for fun!

After a day at the wineries it was then relax time, so we would stock up on bbq supplies & some good local produce, cheese, etc
We would then fire up the barbie which as you can see from the photo was no easy task (it took Michael hours before the girls stepped in to help out) but a lot of fun, there is always something so comforting abt a fire! After eating we settled down to our books or a game ready for the next day to begin, cant think of a more perfect holiday myself, sun, beaches, great wine & food, what more could a gal ask for?
Also the scenery of the whole area was spectacular, from the ripe green grapefields to the sandy red roads & beaches it was quite a unique part of the world which I hope to visit again some day

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sui Sha Ya - Random Travel Notes no 4

Having had a fantastic tepinyaki meal in Brisbane on the weekend brought back fond memories of my favourite restaurant in The Hague. Michael & I lived there for abt 18 mnths from abt Nov 01 - Apr 03 & during that we time we were lucky to be able to do a lot of travel throughout Europe.

Our favourite restaurant by far was Sui Sha Ya in Scheveningen, we went there abt once a month & every time we had visitors in town this is the place we took them out. The tepinyaki was fantastic & heaps of food at a pretty good price too, there are several menus to choose from with all staring with miso soup, then a 'Japanese Hors D'oeuvre' usually some sushi rolls or rare thin sliced beef & salad, followed by zuchini, onion & mushroom on the grill. Next is a selection of seafood & or meat depending on your choice of menu, I almost always had the combo which included prawns, duck, Seawolf (fish), Rib Eye & some more bee all cooked to perfection!

With this also came a salad which no one was much bothered with, had to save room for the best bits. And of course accompanying this was the fried rice cooked on the grill with the egg that was flicked at us all with amazing speed to see who could catch it in their mouth the best. Many cheers for all were heard at this stage, the chefs here were very friendly & great entertainers, have a look at some of the phots of us there on various visits.

The prawn heads you can see in the photo were always cooked to a crisp & presented to each of us at the end, despite being told how delicious they were I never could bring myself to try them - what a wus you say!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Fish & Salsa Monday 23rd Jan 2006

Well the holidays over & I'm back on my cleanse though I have relaxed the rules a bit & am not ever going to cook a dull recipe from that book again!

Tonight I cooked up some lovely blue eye on the grill which I season & brushed with olive oil first. And I served the fish with with mixed lettuce & a gorgeously fresh salsa of coriander, tomato, spring onion, a dried chilli that I managed to grow myself, some cucumber my mum grew for me, lime juice, olive il & seasoning.

it was very light & fresh with the chilli giving it a nice kick & the coriander lending an nice asian flavour to the whole dish.

Flying Food Sunday 22nd Jan 2006

Flying home from a weekend in Brisbane last night I couldnt resist taking a photo of my plane food. Its amazing how unappetising they make these meals look, this was mustard chicken with potoato & veg, a bread roll, butter & a mars bar. I know you wont believe it but it tasted a lot better than it looked & lets face it the meal is always one way of helping the flight go a bit quicker so I always try it out.

Despite this pic here which is the only one I took, I ate many a very lovely meal in Brisbane, one of them being a fantastic tepinyaki of lobster, scallops, moreton bay bugs & steak.

Also for brekky Saturday morning went to a nice little cafe in the Cleveland shops & as well as serving some tasty food I was very impressed with the fact that they did a big brekky of eggs, bacon, mushies, tomato & toast or turkish bread in 3 different sizes. What a fantastic idea, my eyes are always bigger than my stomach & I have to have a bit of everything so always end up with a huge brekky that I can only eat half of, this way the portions were as you chose (I had the small) so I managed to eat it all, yum.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

News Years Resoltion - Liver Cleansing Diet!

Well after a week & a bit of complete excess which followed from a month of Christmas lunches, dinners, parties & you name its, the pants were feeling a bit tight so I thought it was absolutely neccessary to start the New year off with the Liver Cleansing diet.

I started on 2nd Jan as I first had begin the new year well so went to my mums for dinner & had some lovely peirogi to start with followed by a Roast beef, can you get more comfort food than that, was delicious & nice way to start off 2006, good food, wine & with the family.

Anyway the diet is suppsoed to go for 8 weeks & we will see how I go. There will def be a break on the weekend of 20th Jan as I'm flying up to Brisbane for a girls weekend. On day 4 now & feeling much lighter already & the food is not too bad apart from the fact that I have to cut out all dairy, red meat & of course anything that contains sugar, white flour, etc! Oh well sure it will all taste even better than I remember after depriving myself for a few weeks. The diet has one saving grace, I am still allowed 4 glasses of wine a week, yippee, am really looking forward to Friday night now.

The photo is of some Banana & walnut muffins which I made from the book, they really arent too bad though not good enough to share the recipe thats for sure. Will not bother to share all the gory food I have to eat unless one of the recipes takes me by surpirse so see you back when I am in the real world again all cleansed & ready to destroy all my hard work

Bye for now