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Cheats Chicken Biryani

16 Aug

This is a quick mid-week alternative to a proper biryani. Serves 4.

Here’s what you’ll need…

2 brown onions, sliced

2 teaspoons minced ginger

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or ghee

2 teaspoons garam masala

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon panch phoran (from your Indian grocer)

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

1 chopped tomato

2 cups chicken stock or water

salt

500 grams chicken thigh meat, cut up or whole

2 cups vegetables (your choice)

2 cups basmati rice

Slivered almonds, coriander, chutney/pickles, raita.

Here’s what you do…
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. In a large saucepan (with a tight fitting lid), heat the oil/ghee. Fry one onion, the garlic and ginger until it starts to turn golden brown. Add spices and cook for 2-3 minutes. Put the rice in the boiling water and stir, leave to boil for around 5 minutes. Just after you put the rice on, add chicken, tomato and stock/water and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add the vegetables and stir. Strain the rice (par-cooked), and layer it on top of the curry. Place the lid on the pot and turn the heat to low. Allow to cook for further 10-15 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. Try not to open the lid and let the steam out too many times! This will increase the cooking time needed! Alternatively, if your saucepan is oven-proof, you can place the whole thing, covered, in the oven at about 180 degrees celsius.

I like to garnish the top with a fried onion (sweet), some toasted slivered almonds (crunchy), a sprinkling of turmeric (pretty) or saffron infused ghee (expensive) and some coriander. But you could add raisins for sweetness, more or other toasted nuts, mint, chopped cucumber and tomato. Anything you fancy!

Serve with a dollop of fresh yoghurt or raita and some pickles and chutneys. We had ours with my Spicy Mango Jam.

This is not an authentic Biryani and my Mum will likely disapprove as her Biryani is highly superior! But it is ready in 30 minutes and can be made with pretty much any curry. Only two pots and a chopping board to wash up and you’ll have yummy leftovers for lunch.

two4six8! Sorry I started eating before I took a snap. I was soooo hungry!

P.S. A fellow blogger is hosting ‘Chicken Week’ on their blog – check out all the yummy recipes. There is a One Pot Chicken Dinner with olives and tomatoes that looks scrumptious (if curry isn’t your thing)!

Actually, this blog has advertised my post – isn’t that nice of them! chefdehomebadge_featuredbadge_transparent

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Vegemite Chicken

24 Jan
photo-8

two4six8 grew up on it.

On hot buttered toast. With cheddar and cucumber on toast (my sister in law’s brilliant invention), a spoonful in my bolognese. And my all time favourite… Honey and Vegemite on toast. Strange, but yum.

I know what you’re thinking. How cliché can you get this close to Australia Day? But honestly, this has nothing to do with kitsch patriotism. My friends will tell you I’m the last person to get excited about celebrating on January 26th. Don’t get me wrong, I love football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars as much as the next bloke. Or should I say, sheila? I usually just hide inside and then head down the beach to clean up after yobs so the turtles don’t have to choke on their rubbish. “Love ‘Straya – just not enough to give a shit about picking up after meself down the beach. That’s some other bloke’s job eh”. You beauty mate. Sorry for the neurotic whinge, I won’t get into politics. You’re not here for politics, you’re here for tasty chicken. Here’s how I got to the Vegemite chicken idea. In fact, it wasn’t me at all, it was a friend, but anyhow…

Last Sunday night after a boozy afternoon, I was at a Chinese restaurant in Brisbane’s China Town, greedily ploughing into a hot plate of Shantung chicken. Although I’ve eaten it a lot I’ve never known how it’s done. And I can never decide if I like the hot, crispy skinned chicken and sweet, sour sauce or the fried spinach garnish better. This blog does a fine job of explaining the dish. Now I know what to do with the bottle of black vinegar I bought randomly over a year ago. And now I know what that sweet, sour, slightly ferment-ish DELICIOUS flavour is that my mate Andy was puzzling over after eating it at the restaurant. He thought it tasted like Vegemite. Maybe. Can’t remember if he said it, or if I thought it, but I’ve been thinking about Vegemite chicken since Sunday. To my mind there had never been such a thing, but I was wrong. Of course it exists. There’s apparently a recipe for Vegemite chicken wings right on the back of the jar! There is nothing new under the sun, as the phrase goes (and so, often, does Andy). A simple google search has consistently annihilated any original culinary idea I’ve ever had, pretty much. Tempting as it was to bastardise the Shantung chicken recipe with the addition/substitution of Vegemite and claim it as my own, although reflecting the true colonial spirit of Australia Day (oops that was political, wasn’t it?) I decided to stick with my Aussie instincts in the use of this most cherished and familiar ingredient.

Here’s what I came up with… It was beautiful – sweet, salty, a little malty. I’m not convinced I’d choose it over Shantung chicken but hey, it was fun to invent something new! Well, new for me anyway.

You’ll need…

1 whole chicken, butterflied (I partially de-boned mine)

1 tablespoon Vegemite

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon boiling water

2 large sprigs rosemary

a knob of butter (unsalted or low salt preferably)

What you do…

Simply mix all the marinade ingredients in a jug/bowl and stir well to combine, ensuring the sugar and Vegemite have melted/dissolved thoroughly. Hide the rosemary under the bird or under the skin of the bird and then smother with marinade, rub with your hands to ensure even coverage. Cover with glad and refrigerate. As usual, at least an hour is ok or overnight if possible.

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Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Melt around 50 grams of butter. Baste the chicken lightly with butter. Cook for 20 minutes then reduce heat to 180 for about 40 minutes-1 hour depending on the size of your bird. Cover loosely with foil if the skin is burning.

Drain the juices from the pan. If you want to, strain off the chicken fat. Let the cooked chicken rest, covered with foil, for at least 10 minutes. Cut the chicken into pieces and serve with the pan juices.

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It puts a rose in every cheek 😉

Tortilla Soup or ‘Sopa Azteca’

22 Jan

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This soup isn’t bold and strong but rather mild and delicate, but I promise that after your third or fourth mouthful you’ll be absolutely loving it. There are a few ingredients in this soup that may be quite hard to find in some places – in particular, the pasilla chillies which are typically used to enhance the fragrance and texture of the soup. But it doesn’t matter if you don’t have them. Nor does it matter if you don’t have any enchilada sauce to add. It is nice the way I make it but if you conduct a basic google search for tortilla soup you will soon see that there are literally hundreds of different versions of this soup. It’s just the basic idea that I love. I’ve put a note on substitutions and variations on the theme at the bottom of this recipe.

Here’s what you’ll need

Serves 6 as an entree or 4 as a main

1 cup vegetable oil

6 small corn tortillas

1 dried pasilla chilli, stem and seeds removed, sliced

1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 litre chicken stock

1 small chicken breast or 6 chicken tenders

1 cup enchilada sauce

1 ripe avocado, diced

4 radishes, thinly sliced

1 tablespoons or around 50 grams mild crumbly feta, crumbled

1 lime, quartered

Steps…

1. Heat oil in a medium sized saucepan to a good frying temperature – around 185 celsius, 365 fahrenheit

2. Cut tortillas into 1 inch strips and fry in the hot oil. Drain on paper towel or in a colander. Set aside.

3. Tip out most of the oil except about 2 tablespoons. Fry the pasilla chillies for about 20 seconds. Drain on paper towel and when cooled crumble the chillies slightly to break them up. Set aside.

4. Gently fry the onion and garlic in the oil until translucent. Add chicken stock and enchilada sauce along with chicken. Simmer on low heat until chicken is cooked through – 10-20 minutes. Remove chicken from broth and shred or cut into pieces.

5. To serve, you can either put out all of the garnishes and let people serve themselves at the table, or divide the tortilla strips between shallow bowls and top with a small amount of each garnish. Pour two or three ladles of hot soup into the bowl and enjoy!

Substitutions…

Use mild cheddar instead of the feta. It goes melty and delicious. If you have a local deli that sells queso fresco – this is traditional and delicious.

Cooked black beans, kidney beans, or even leftover re-fried beans are tasty and could replace the chicken.

Any vegetable can be added to the soup – chayote/choko, capsicum, potato, zucchini or squash are all nice.

A sprinkle of cayenne pepper instead of the pasilla chilli would be fine if you don’t have a Mexican importer nearby.

Any other suggestions? Add them in the comments section! 

Stuffed Red Capsicum with Soy and Ginger Sauce

5 Feb

two4six8!

So you know those Sunday afternoons when you have no idea what’s for dinner and you’re really more in the mood for some light comic relief than cooking a meal? I promise if you watch any of the ‘Cooking with Dog’ video series on YouTube, you will find inspiration and probably have a giggle. You may be thinking “Cook with dog? What the…?” Well, relax, it’s not what you think (although at our house the jokes about this concept came on pretty thick and fast). Nobody does eccentricity quite like the Japanese! I got my idea for dinner tonight from this video. I wasn’t planning to blog this meal (that’s why the photo’s not crash hot), but it turned out so good I figured why not!? And really, you could stuff other vegetables like zucchini or eggplant too. There are lots of other yummy, easy Japanese recipes on ‘Cooking with Dog’.

I changed the ingredients a little but followed the method shown in the video. I’ll list the ingredients I used for my stuffing below because it turned out really yum. Also, I added lots of fresh, grated ginger to the sauce, because we love it and because we have colds.

To stuff 3 large peppers, cut into quarters, you’ll need…

3 chicken thigh fillets, minced

3 green onions, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups mixed dried Chinese mushrooms (you need to soak these in hot water first), finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

lots of cracked black pepper

generous pinch of salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

You could put all of the ingredients (except the chicken) in the food processor to save time and fuss.

We ate ours with some soba noodles and we’re looking forward to the cold leftovers tomorrow for lunch.

WOOF! Or more likely, YAP! You like button!

Barberry Rice Pilaf with Chicken

9 Jan

two4six8!

I met an Iranian woman recently who introduced me to barberries. They are a little, very sharp tasting berry used in pilaf dishes throughout the Middle East. They remind me of tangy pomegranate. I have made this pilaf of my own for years with currants, but I found the little red berries at my local Lebanese deli and thought I’d give them a whirl. The guy there told me to keep them in the fridge as they are semi-dried, but they keep for ages. They add such a yummy sourness. With the addition of a pan fried, sliced chicken breast, this pilaf makes a very satisfying meal. It is not heavy and is very healthy – barberries are crammed with vitamin C and the dish is low in fat. I have made it several times this summer. You can serve it hot, warm, cold – doesn’t matter. I hope you like it.

For a large bowl to serve 4, You will need…

 2 cups basmati rice

large pot of waterchicken/vegetable stock powder

4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

2 teaspoons cumin

2 fresh bay leavesblack pepper

1/2 cup barberries (or currants)

1/2 cup pistachios, flaked almonds, pine nuts (or a mix)

2 medium size red onions

1/4 cup fresh parsley (flat leaf or curly)

1/4 cup fresh mint

1/4 cup fresh coriander

2 chicken breasts

salt and pepper

juice of one lime or half a lemon

olive oil

Firstly…

Slice the onions into thin rings or half-rings and add to a hot pan with olive oil. Turn down the heat and stir occasionally until well caramelised – this will take up to 15 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, prepare the rice…

Add stock powder, cumin, smashed garlic cloves, bay leaves and ground black pepper to a large pot of water, add well rinsed Basmati rice, bring to the boil and boil until the rice is just tender – strain the rice while it is still ‘al dente’ as it will continue to cook for a while after it is strained (as it cools). Overcooked rice will wreck this dish.

Place the rice in a large, flat bowl or on a serving platter and toss through the barberries. Set aside to cool.

Secondly…

While the rice is cooling, toast the nuts in a dry pan over medium heat. As my funny sister in law says “I’m going to burn the pine nuts now” – whenever she cooks them! I swear at least 75% of the pine-nuts cooked in my house turn to little black nuggets and go straight to the bin. Don’t turn your back on your nuts!

You can chop them roughly or leave them whole. I don’t bother chopping except for pistachios. Set aside. Chop your herbs and set aside.

Thirdly…

When the rice is around room-temperature, toss in onions, nuts and herbs along with some salt and pepper to taste. I like to mix it gently with my hands.

For the chicken…

Gently beat chicken breasts with a rolling pin or meat pounder on the thickest part of the breast (for even cooking), dry with paper towel, season with salt and pepper (and sumac is nice if you have some), heat a little olive oil in a pan and fry the chicken breast for about 3 minutes each side (or until no longer pink in the middle). Remove to a chopping board and slice into thick slices. Toss with the lemon/lime juice and a few tablespoons of olive oil.

To serve…

Either toss the chicken breast with the lemony juices through the salad and serve from the bowl, or plate up piles of rice salad with some chicken breast on top and drizzle with lemony juices. Be sure to refrigerate promptly if you do not serve the chicken hot.

Without meat it is a nice side dish or salad.

Without meat it is a nice side dish or salad with some lemon and oil dressing.

 

 

 

 

Thai Style Salad Deluxe

7 Sep

two4six8!

I’m not going to bother with any long intro to this dish, all I will say is that I made it tonight, probably enough to serve 4 people and we polished off the lot. We seriously COULD NOT STOP.

You will have heard a million times, Thai food is all about the balance – sour, sweet, salty. You’ve got to get that right in this dressing but honestly, it’s not brain surgery.

This dish is a kind of hybrid salad! Paul always makes this beautiful glass noodle salad with shredded cos lettuce, herbs and prawns and I love to make Thai green mango salad when the fruit is in season. I yelped with excitement the other day at our Asian green grocers when I saw them there for the first time since last summer! Beautiful, slender, sour green mangoes. And thirdly, everyone’s favourite Thai salad – Larb – the one with the roasted rice powder and ground meat.The result is a bit of all these and boy was it amazing!

Like any salad you have full artistic license with this one – you just have to remember the sweet, sour, salty balance thing.  The star ingredient of ‘larb’ – the roasted rice powder, is not in this salad, I made little fried garlic slivers instead.

Here’s what you’ll need…

SALAD

2 Thai green mangoes (you want them very firm and green so they are tart and crunchy, not soft and floppy) See picture below!

3 spring onions

2 red chillies (optional)

about 2 cups bean thread noodles (cooked)

One baby cos lettuce (or 1/3 – 1/2 a big one)

coriander

mint

roasted peanuts

5-6 cloves garlic

fried shallots (from the Asian grocer)

12 cooked prawns

50-100 grams chicken mince

50-100 grams pork mince

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp sugar

DRESSING

juice one large lime (or 2-3 tbsps)

2-3 tbsps fish sauce

2 tbsps sugar (palm, white, raw, brown – doesn’t really matter)

1 tbsp thai chilli and soy bean paste (from Asian grocer)

A rule of thumb for this dressing is to use equal quantities of sour, salty, sweet – but you can make it to suit your taste. Just start with less and adjust gradually as you know fish sauce is mega salty!

Now that you’ve scrapped the idea of making this salad because the list of ingredients is soooo long, WAIT! You can make this without the three different meats and just pick one – or use none and serve it alongside grilled fish or meat. We bought prawns and then realised we had a leftover pork chop and some chicken breast so we used it all up. If you don’t have the chilli bean paste the dressing is beautiful without it.

Here’s what you do…

Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix well to allow sugar to fully dissolve. Set aside.

Soak your noodles in hot water according to packet directions, drain, cut into manageable lengths and set aside.

Slice the garlic and shallow fry it in a little oil until they just start to change colour – these will burn easily and remember they will continue to cook and darken in colour even once they have been removed from the hot oil. Drain on paper towel.

Slice the spring onions and chillies on the diagonal into thin slices.

Shred the cos lettuce (not too fine).

Peel the mangoes. Cut into thin strips** see below for notes on this**.

Place all the above ingredients in a large salad bowl.

Slice the prawns in half – add to the salad.

In a very hot pan with a little oil, fry minced pork and chicken with the 1 tbsp fish and the sugar until it is lightly coloured. Allow to cool slightly. Add to salad.

Roughly chop herbs (if you wanted to add thai basil or vietnamese mint you can) and add to the salad.

Toss all salad ingredients with the dressing until well mixed. Sprinkle with a handful of smashed roasted peanuts and some of the little fried shallots to serve.

Enjoy!

** You can cut the mangoes any way you like really but I do rough julienne strips the way a Thai friend of mine taught me to and it’s quite nifty and looks nice- you hold the mango so that it’s lengthways down the palm of your hand (i.e. where the stem would be is at the top of your middle finger), with a sharp pairing knife or short bladed knife cut incisions in the mango from top to bottom (they don’t have to o all the way through to the seed), then turn your knife so that the blade is perpendicular to the incisions you’ve just made and scrape off the strips. Confusing? Just slice off thin slices from each cheek and then slice into thin strips.

Firm, bright green mangoes are what you want. Most Asian green grocers should have them through Spring and Summer. You can skip the chillies if you don't like spicy.

Chicken Involtini with Crispy Sage and Roasted Cauliflower with Walnuts

24 Mar

two4six8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, so you may have seen this dish prepared lots of different ways with all sorts of crazy combos for the stuffing. I cooked this just last week but I thought it was ‘too easy’ and wasn’t going to post it, but here it is anyway.

I like to keep chicken involtini really simple so it’s quick and easy to make. Although, you can think of this recipe as a bit of a blank canvas and play with flavours depending on what’s in season and what you love. For example, I remember once buying beautiful bright yellow juicy, sweet capsicums, roasting them slowly, peeling off the skin and putting chunks of that in the middle of the rolled chicken breast. You could add whatever you like to the filling really, and the rolls certainly look pretty when you cut into them. Also, instead of bacon I’ve used prosciutto (I suppose I felt like spending a small fortune that day or maybe I was trying to impress someone) and when there’s just no pork you can lace anchovies across the top (and hope they stay atop)! Do whatever you want, basically.

I’ve put a suggestion for a sauce at the end of this recipe which goes really well with this dish if you have a bottle of cider and some onions lying around!

Here we go. For the chicken you’ll need…

2 large chicken breasts

2-3 tablespoons cream cheese or mozza

4 bacon rashers

2 bay leaves (optional)

salt and pepper

All you do is…

Butterfly open each breast (this lady will show you how http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ot46Cueod4s ). You may want to pound them a little to thin the meat if the breasts are thick. Lay them skin side down on a chopping board. Place a stick of cream cheese in the centre along with a bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.

Roll the chicken breast, tucking in the ends first and then rolling the sides, one over the other.

Remove the middle section of the bacon (the round bit) and wrap the strip around the chicken lengthways or widthways or both – it doesn’t really matter.

See…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secure the bacon in place with toothpicks. The chicken rolls are now ready to be fried in a pan for about 10 minutes to crisp the bacon, then be put into a moderate oven for about 10-15 minutes.

In a separate pan, melt about 2 tablespoons of butter and once hot and bubbling, throw in 10-12 sage leaves and fry them until they go crispy. Set the leaves aside on paper towel. Reserve the butter for the cauliflower side-dish.

For the Cauliflower you’ll need…

One whole cauliflower (washed, broken into small fleurettes)

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

3 cloves garlic (crushed)

salt and pepper

juice of half a lemon

the melted butter (reserved from sage)

Simply toss all ingredients in a bowl, then place in a large metal baking dish and cook in a 200 degree oven for about 30 minutes. It’s important to toss the cauliflower about every 10 minutes or so. You can finish it off under a hot grill for a little extra colour if you like (I do).

For the Cider Sauce…

Simply cook a sliced onion in some butter until soft and lightly golden, pour in three quarters of a stubby of apple cider (and drink the rest) and a splash of chicken stock if you have it. Season with salt and pepper and reduce by about half. Voila!