Category Archives: casseroles

The Weekly Cook Up: Morrocan Beef Tagine


Moroccan food, in my book, is absolutely gorgeous. This tagine is no different because it’s filled with delicate flavours, amazing freshness and the pangs of yumminess that come from lemon and olives.

I admit, there are a few ingredients in this dish – but that’s why it’s a Weekly Cook Up recipe. It needs a little love and time to ensure you are left with a succulent, tender and flavourful dish.

I generally get annoyed when people call dishes like this a tagine – when they didn’t actually use a tagine to cook it in. I mean, that’s the whole point! So, I apologise to myself right now. I am calling this a tagine, because the flavours deserve that title. I didn’t have mine handy because we were house-sitting for my brother and his girl while they were off sunning themselves in warmer places of Australia. Also, this is a large batch, which will serve 6 to 8 to allow for freezing, so it wouldn’t probably fit in a tagine anyway. Feel free to halve the quantities and break out your tagine, if you have one. They are definitely a worthwhile investment.

You will see below that the first component of the recipe involves making a chermoula. This is like the equivalent of a curry paste – but in this case the consistency is more like a watery salsa. This is a critical step in making this dish as it’s where you start to build the flavour base. Keep in mind when making this dish that you really need to marinade the meat for about two hours after adding the chermoula.

Beef Tagine with Lemon, Olives and Coriander

Chermoula

  • 6 tomatoes, finely diced
  • 3 tbs of fresh coriander root, finely chopped
  • the zest of a whole lemon
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large green chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 cm of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp of Moroccan spice paste (I used Dave Bittons – but there are others available in the spice section at the supermarket)

The tagine

  • 2 kg of chuck steak – trimmed of excess fat (but leave a bit on for tenderness and flavour). Cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 2 potatoes (I didn’t peel them, but you can if you prefer) cut into wedges
  • 1/2 a cup of water
  • 1 cup of green pitted olives (you can use kalamata, if you like)
  • 4 tbs of chopped, fresh coriander

Method

Combine all the ingredients for the chermoula.

Place half the chermoula in a bowl with the meat. Mix thoroughly and seal both bowls with cling film and place in the fridge for an hour – 2 if possible to allow the flavours to meld and marinate.

 Take the meat and chermoula out of the fridge and set aside. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a large, heavy-based pan and add the onion, cooking over a medium heat until nice and soft.

Add the meat, the remaining chermoula as well as the tomatoes, potatoes and water.

Bring to the boil, cover and simmer over a very low heat for about two hours, or until the meat is lovely and tender. Add the olives, allow to heat through for a minute or two. Add the fresh coriander, then serve.

Serve with cous cous and some nice crusty bread.

This dish has amazing layers of flavour that will dance in your mouth. The soft, fluffy cous cous soaks up the juices perfectly. This really is an awesome dish.

As for my music recommendation – One Republic was definitely a feature of my playlist while I was making this. Make sure you look up their albums – but one of my favourite songs is called Lullaby. It’s a song about home, about feeling safe and content. Have a listen below. It’s a really beautiful song.

The tagine will freeze well for up to three months. Seeing as it’s the Queens Birthday long weekend, why not spend some time whipping up some dishes like this to freeze to make your life easier when work and life gets crazy again! Check out The Weekly Cook Up for more inspiration. Other than cooking – what are your plans this long weekend? I’m working at my brother and dad’s shop, and relaxing with my finacee. No doubt there’ll be some cooking going on too 🙂

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The Weekly Cook Up – Irish Stew


Irish stew is a casserole that has been the key to keeping hungry people’s tummies warm and full for a very long time.

It’s simple to make, with few ingredients and is ideal for your slow cooker. The first time I ever ate it was at an Irish pub in my hometown of Geelong – and once I’d had it, I couldn’t wait to re-create it. So, this is my version of a very, very famous stew. There’s no spice and kids are sure to like its  gravy flavour. Irish stew also only has meat, carrot and potato, so no need to negotiate with them to eat anything too fancy, weird-looking or green, for that matter.

This freezes extremely well, so why not whip up a batch this weekend.

Irish Stew

  • 1kg lamb four-quarter chops, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1/2 a cup of flour, which has been seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled a cut into large chunks
  • 3 large deseree potatoes, peeled and sliced into large chunks
  • Enough beef stock to cover everything (about 1 litre)
  • 1 tsp of fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 tbs of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Method

Place the flour, salt and pepper in a zip lock bag and added the cubes of lamb. Close the bag and toss to coat the lamb with flour.

Heat some oil in a large, heavy based casserole and cook the lamb in batches until it is sealed and brown on the outside. Set the lamb aside.

Add a little more oil to the pan and cook the onion until it is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the lamb back into the pan, along with all remaining ingredients.

Bring to the boil, cover and reduce heat to very low. Simmer for two hours, checking and stirring occasionally. At the end of the cooking time the sauce should be nice and thick and the vegies and meat nice and tender.

If using a slow cooker, add all ingredients to the ceramic dish and cook on high for 3 hours, or on low for 5.

Serve with some nice crusty bread and a big glass of your favourite red wine.

 

The Weekly Cook Up: Spezzatino di manzo (Italian beef stew)


My mother-in-law-to-be whipped this up for dinner on Monday night, and it was so super tasty, I just had to share it with you.

It does take more than 2 hours to cook – but the meat was so tender and succulent and the pancetta and wine added so much beautiful flavour. What can I say, I just loved every mouthful – and I’m not just saying that to get brownie points with my future in-laws 🙂

I know most of us don’t have time to do this on a weeknight – but it’s a perfect weekend meal, and with a fancy name like Spezzatino di manzo – your friends are sure to be impressed if you served this up at your next dinner party. It’s also an ideal recipe for The Weekly Cook Up, because it can be cooked and frozen in preparation to take the pressure off later in the week when time is more precious.

Spezzatino di Manzo (Italian Beef Stew)

  •  1/2 a cup of plain flour
  • 1.5kg of chuck steak, cut into 5cm pieces
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 100gm of pancetta, cubed
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 400gm tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups of beef stock
  • 1 tbs of chopped, fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbs of chopped, fresh sage (or 1 tsp of dried)
  • 2 tbs of capers, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 cup of flat leaf parsley, chopped

Method

Place flour in a large freezer bag and season with salt and pepper. Add beef and shake to coat.

Heat 1 tbs of oil in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium to high heat and brown the meat, in batches, until it’s all browned and sealed. Set aside.

Add a little more oil to the pan and fry the pancetta, carrot, celery, onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until soft.

Turn up the heat and stir in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove the nice, flavourful brown bits at the bottom.

Stir in the beef, tomato, stock, rosemary and sage and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour and 20 minutes. After this cooking time, remove the lid for a further 40 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken.

Finally stir through the capers and parsley and check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with some yummy, creamy mashed potato.

Be inspired~

Lisa

The Weekly Cook Up: Australian fusion food


Aussie food to me is all about fusion. Australia is a multicultural extravaganza of flavours from across the world, reflecting our population – people who have come together from all over the world to call this beautiful country home.

In the 1950s you might have said Australian cuisine was about meat pies, fish and chips, snags on the barbie, the Sunday roast  … and, of course, let’s not forget Vegemite!

But since then our pallets have been wowed by the fabulous flavours of countries like Italy, China, India and more recently, the wonder that is African food.

As you walk down the streets of any of Australia’s beautiful states and territories, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to world cuisine – and then there are those restaurants which classify themselves as “Modern Australian”.

It is this term which I think really encompasses what Aussie food is all about in 2011. It’s about flavours and techniques from across the world coming together to compliment and enhance the things we love and do well here, like seafood, lamb and chicken and an array of fresh produce.

I also think it’s important to embrace indigenous culture and flavours and bush herbs such as lemon myrtle, which is a feature of my recipe, have become really popular.

World famous chef Rick Stein’s pursuit to find Australia’s Top Food Blogger and the country’s ultimate dish inspired me to create this recipe. It embraces our wonderful produce, and the flavours and techniques from all over the world which has influenced our cuisine so much.

Rick Stein Food Odyssey Live On Stage

The chicken in this recipe is succulent and infused with the flavours of basil and lemon myrtle. The potatoes are crispy and delicious, just like you’d expect from a perfectly cooked Sunday roast. The sausages give a really authentic Aussie touch, with a Balkan twist, and the beans don’t only add colour, but a crispy freshness. When brought together, it’s un unpretentious dish that is fragrant, moist and bursting with flavour.

In a nutshell – it’s the kind of food everyone just loves to eat.

BAKED FUSION CHICKEN

Serves 6-8

Marinade:

  • 16 organic chicken drumsticks (you could also use maryland or thighs, if you like)
  • 2 tbs of basil pesto
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp of lemon myrtle
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbs of olive oil

Combine all of the marinade ingredients. Massage into the chicken, cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Remaining ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 6 small, skinless pork sausages (also called chevaps, which are actually Balkan), broken into bite-sized pieces
  • 8 mushrooms, halved
  • 4 whole cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 large handful of beans, trimmed
  • 1/3 of a cup of water
  • 1 tbs of flour

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees celsius (200 for fan forced). In a baking dish, combine the marinated chicken, red onion, potatoes, sausage pieces, mushrooms and garlic with a few good glugs of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Toss with your hands so the marinade coats all the ingredients.

 Bake for 50 minutes, checking after 35 minutes to see how it’s progressing.

After an hour, add the tomatoes and beans and stir through. Try to ensure the potatoes are mostly at the top, so they don’t go soggy in the juices, letting them to go golden and crispy. Taste the sauce to check for seasoning and add more, if required. Bake for a further 15 minutes – enough to cook the beans and tomatoes, but so the tomatoes hold their shape. 

Serve onto plates, but leave most of the juices in the pan. Place the pan on your stove-top and bring to a gentle boil. Mix the flour and water in a small bowl and add to the simmering juices. Whisk until the sauce starts to thicken. Once a good consistency, spoon over the chicken. Garnish with chopped parsley.

I think this dish doesn’t only reflect the flavours that have been brought to Australia over the past 60 years – but it also reflects the kind of food Australians like to eat every day- food packed with flavour, but without fuss and pretension.

I hope this dish is something my Food Hero, Rick Stein would love! I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

The Weekly Cook Up – Braised pork chops with apple and cabbage


Apple, cabbage and pork are all best friends and so I thought, why not put them together in a braise?

The result? Clean, beautiful flavours and an all-round comforting meal. It’s easy to eat – therefore making it an ideal dish for a house full of sick people. I’m the only one feeling 100% – everyone else is carrying a head-cold and terrible cough. So, I wanted to cook up something that would sooth their throats and warm their tummies without anything too overwhelming – like the usual punchy spices you normally find in my comfort food.

I worked in my brother’s shop last weekend and the cabbages all looked gorgeously inspiring on display – so much so that I really wanted to make them a feature of a recipe. I had some pork loin chops in the freezer which needed using up – and I had been pondering for a while what to do with them. As I was staking the apples gently on the shelf, I knew the three would be a tasty match. It’s nice for me to have this knowledge of what flavours work – it really makes me confident to experiment and create my own dishes.

The apples give sweetness, mellowed by the cabbage, onions and leek – the chicken stock adds depth and the vinegar and red current jelly add a really nice complexity to the flavours.

The delicate flavours would probably something you could put in front of your children – but because I am without little tackers myself, I haven’t road-tested it on any.

It also freezes well – so I made sure there was enough to make a meal for my dad. My dad doesn’t cook, so I make meals and freeze them for him so he doesn’t have to rely on expensive take-away and horrid pre-made supermarket food. Hopefully this makes me a nice daughter 🙂

BRAISED PORK WITH APPLE AND CABBAGE 

 

  • 2 tbs of butter
  • 1 tbs of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely shopped
  • 1 leek, cut down the middle, wash and finely slice into half moons
  • 5 tbs of white vinegar
  • 4 tbs of red current jelly
  • 6 large pork loin chops
  • 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 a tsp of dried fennel (or you can use fresh, if you have it)
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
  • Half a chinese cabbage, remove the tough white bits and chop across, from top to bottom, discarding the tough, white bit at the bottom
  • 1 large granny smith apple (or 2 small) peeled, cored and cut into segments
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

In a large, heavy-based casserole dish (which has a lid and is able to be used both in the oven and on a stove) heat the butter and oil gently over a medium flame. Add the onion and a few good pinches of salt and sweat for 2 minutes.

Add the leek, vinegar and red current jelly and cook for a further 4 minutes, until it’s nice and soft – but don’t let it gain any colour.

Lay out your pork chops on a chopping board or plate and season both sides with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

In a frying pan, over a medium to high heat, add some more olive oil and fry the chops in batches to brown them. Make sure the fat layer is on, and turn them on their side to brown up the fat. This is critical as this process enhances the flavour of the pork.

Once done, pop them into the casserole dish with the onion and leek mixture.

Add the stock, cabbage, fennel and potatoes to the casserole and stir. Poke the pork until it’s all mostly covered in the stock (feel free to add a little more, if the tide looks a little bit low).

Bring it to the boil on top of the stove. Once boiling gently, pop on the casserole lid and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add the apple segments and check the sauce for seasoning – adjust to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook for a further 30 to 45 minutes, or until the chops are tender and the apple and potatoes are cooked through.

To plate up, I used shallow bowls as the liquid is really soupy. I removed the fat strip from the pork and discarded it, along with the bone, and cut the meat into strips. Ladel the sauce, making sure everyone (this serves 4) get some apple, cabbage and potato. I then topped the soup broth with the pork meat and some sauted brocollini.

The reason I have started writing this column is because I am hoping to inspire busy people like you to set some time aside in the kitchen on the weekend to prepare at least one meal ahead for the week. I hope this recipe has helped you on your way to a much more relaxed weekday meal. Even if you decide not to freeze it for later in the week – it’d make a fabulous Sunday dinner, which is what this was for me.

Be Insired~

Lisa

 

The Weekly Cook Up: Curry with ginger and coriander


The Weekly Cook Up is a new column I plan to bring you every Friday right around 3pm when you are seriously having a think about your weekend menu.

The aim of the Weekly Cook Up is to inspire busy people like yourselves to set some time aside in the kitchen on the weekend to prepare at least one meal ahead for the week. If you’re really keen, you could cook up a few dishes, it’s totally up to you!

The thing is, we are all flat out busy – it’s just the way life is. It doesn’t matter if you have a husband or wife and kids, a hungry boyfriend or girlfriend at home or your extended family living with you. Even if it’s only yourself you have to feed – whether cooking is your thing or not, it can be a real drag to get motivated during the week.

That’s nothing to feel bad about – we all get like that. But the bad thing is it drives us to constantly eat out – not for a nice occasion, but because we all need to eat. Or lots of people find themselves buying expensive take-away or pre-made crap at the supermarket.

We live in a world where we are surrounded by cooking shows where the contestants stress out to create this (mostly) amazing food. I don’t know about you, but while these shows do inspire people to cook, I think they also make some of us feel a bit guilty for not putting a meal like that on the table after a busy day at work or with the kids, or however you spend your time.

That expectation is ridiculous and if you feel that way – then stop! If you are a regular reader of Uforic Food, you’ll know that my friend Ruza and I have our applications in to represent Victoria in season 3 of My Kitchen Rules. But I am more than happy to admit that I don’t cook like they do everyday. What they do is what I call “special occasion cooking”. Life’s just too busy to do that sort of stuff all the time and as much as I love to cook – I don’t even want to.

The weekly Cook Up will bring you recipes that may require a little more preparation or cooking time – but will be the sorts of things you can cook and freeze in batches like curries, soups, casseroles and other yummy, comforting, delicious food. I know you and your family are going to enjoy eating these dishes a whole lot more than going out for dinner just for a feed or eating expensive and unhealthy take-away more often than you should.

There is a place in all our lives for eating out and take-aways – but I think it’s important to eat home-made, healthy food. I think with a bit of planning and a hint of inspiration – you’ll be cooking up a storm and everyone will be happier, healthier, less stressed and best of all – you’ll save some money too!

That’s why I have chosen Fridays to post the Weekly Cook Up – most of us get a few days off each week, hopefully your partner is home too and can look after the kids – while you get into the kitchen and prepare one or a few meals for the week ahead. Turn the music up – pour yourself a glass of wine or crack open and beer and enjoy yourself!

Sound good? I hope you are all nodding in agreement 🙂

The biggest pleasure for me comes in the form of comfort food – and so I am going to kick of Uforic Food’s Weekly Cook Up with a fabulous curry, which I made last night. I made it up from ingredients that inspired me at the supermarket and in the pantry and it turned out great. I used chicken thigh fillets for this, but you could also use some chuck steak and simmer slowly for 1.5 – 2 hours. If you feel like it, mess around with the spices and make it your own.

CURRY WITH GINGER AND CORIANDER

 

  • 1 tbs of butter
  • 2 tbs of olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely diced (you can do this is a food processor, if you like, just make sure you don’t turn it to mush)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced (or pop in the processor, if using)
  • 3cm knob of ginger, finely diced (or in processor, but remove skin and chop into chucks first)
  • 1/4 of a cup of fresh curry leaves (I found them in the fruit and veg section at the supermarket)
  • 1 tbs of finely chopped coriander root
  • 1 tsp or ground coriander
  • 2 tsp of ground cummin
  • 1 tsp of ground turmeric
  • 1/2 a tsp of ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp of ground paprika
  • 2 tsp of garam masala
  • 1/2 a tsp of chilli flakes (remove if cooking if kids, or ramp up if you like it hot – you could add fresh chilli too, if you have it)
  • 700gm of chicken thigh fillets, cut into large chunks (or chuck steak)
  • 1 400gm can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 a tsp of sugar
  • 3/4 of a cup of chicken stock (or beef stock, if using steak)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 of a cup of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Method:

Heat the oil and butter in a large, heavy-based pan and cook the onion, ginger, garlic and coriander root with a few good pinches of salt, until they begin to soften. Make sure they don’t take on any colour. You want them to sweat and the salt with help with this.

Add all the spices and cook for a further three minutes, stirring to ensure they don’t burn. This releases their flavours and they will become lovely and fragrant.

Add the chicken/beef and turn it up to a medium heat. Toss it through the spices and cook for about 5 minutes until the outside changes colour. This means the meat is nicely sealed.

Add the chopped tomatoes, sugar and chicken/beef stock and bring it up to a boil. Taste the sauce at this point and see if it needs some salt and pepper. I’m sure it will.

Turn the temperature right down and simmer, uncovered, for about 45 minutes if using chicken, or simmer covered for 1.5 hours (checking regularly) if you are using beef. Taste the beef at the end of that cooking time to see if it’s tender. If not, cooking for another 15 minutes and test again. It’s very important if cooking this with beef that you make sure it’s cooking nice and slowly, otherwise the meat will go tough.

Stir through the fresh coriander and serve with some basmati rice and natural yogurt.

This really did turn out beautiful and fragrant and would be fine young children – just don’t add the chilli flakes. If it’s adults only and you’d like a bit of a chilli hit – I reckon a whole red chilli would do the trick nicely.

This makes enough to serve 4 quite generously. Feel free to double the recipe and then freeze it in air-tight containers for up to three months. If you’re on your own, you can buy containers large enough to fit one meal in. I do this for my dad. I always cook the rice for him, put it in the bottom of the container and then put the curry on top. This is a great option if you work nights and need to take your dinner to work.

If you’ve done it in a batch for four – I’d recommend that you freeze the curry only – and then make your rice fresh.

To make great rice, do 1 part rice to 1 1/2 parts water. If you are serving four, you’ll need a mug-sized cup of uncooked rice to 1 1/2 mug-sized cups of water. Cook it in the microwave on high for 12 minutes. I promise you won’t go wrong!

To make my rice a little more interesting, I added a teaspoon of chicken stock powder, a knob of butter and a teaspoon of turmeric – to make it yellow. It was yum!

To re-heat – it’s ideal if you can put the frozen food in the fridge the night before you plan to eat it. Once thawed, if you have made a family-sized batch, you can pop it into a saucepan and slowly reheat. If you can’t be bothered with that – the microwave is fine. Heat on high for 2 minutes. Check and stir, and continue until it’s hot enough.

Meals for one, which include the rice as part of the frozen meal, will need to be heated in the microwave, as stated above.

So this week I challenge you to get into your kitchen and do a bit of a cook up. You might like to use this recipe, or another one that you know freezes well. It will be the start of fabulous weekday meals – minus the stress!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Chorizo and chickpea stew


This recipe is fabulous, not only because it’s a fast, quick and easy one-pot wonder, but it’s also bursting with flavour.

Chorizo is a priority ingredient in my cooking at the moment – I mean I love it – but Matt loves it more. He’s always wanting a risotto, but with chorizo in it. Then there’s pasta, with chorizo in it – even chorizo on homemade pizza. I think he was Spanish in a previous life!

The great thing about chorizo is that it’s a great way to inject instant flavour into a dish – it’s packed with paprika and other spices, and as you gently fry it in olive oil – you can see the oil turn red and beautiful.

That’s why this recipe works with so few ingredients – because the star of the dish is bursting with sumptuous flavour.

I have taken this one from Nigella’s latest book – Nigella Kitchen. I was very excited when it finally arrived from Amazon and after seeing her whip this up as part of the TV series, and because of Matt’s love for chorizo – I thought I’d make it the first recipe I’d try. Of course, I made a few changes – because I just can’t help myself.

Chorizo and Chickpea stew

 

Me looking like a goofy happy person with my new book

 

  • 4tbs of olive oil
  • 2 chorizo sausages, sliced into rounds (This is the centrepiece of the dish, so make sure you use a good quality one, I used Istra from the Daylesfod region of Victoria – their smallgoods are amazing!)
  • 1 tsp ground cummin
  •  1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  •  1 400gm tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  •  2 400gm cans of diced tomatoes (preferably organic)
  •  1 cup of chicken stock (maybe a little more, if the consistency seems too dry)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 handful of chopped, fresh coriander
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • A dollop of natural yogurt, to serve (optional)

Method:

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add the chorizo and cook until the oil start to turn redish. This means the sausage is releasing its flavours.

Add the cumin and stir for one minute. Raise the heat and add the red wine vinegar. Allow to cook for a minute or two, allowing the vinegar to reduce slightly.

Add the chickpeas, tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce and leave to simmer for 5 minutes or so. Taste at this point for seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste. If, at this point the dish is looking a little dry, add a little more chicken stock, or water.

Now, mix through the coriander and lemon juice and serve immediately.

To serve: I cooked some simple cous cous (I will share my best basic cous cous recipe with you tomorrow, so stay tuned for that) – and added a dollop of natural yogurt to each plate. This really adds another dimention to the overall flavours. This will serve 4 people.

This is quite different to Nigella’s recipe – she used sherry rather than red wine vinegar. I just didn’t have any on hand. She also put in some dried apricots when she added the tomatoes. However, I’m not a fan of dried fruit, so I left them out. But, you’re welcome to add them, if you like.

After watching the series and having a good look through the book – I can’t wait to try more of these recipes! I’ll let you know how I go 🙂

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Chicken with rataouille and risoni


This recipe is fantastic because it’s very balanced – it has protein, veg and carbs – and best of all, it’s absolutely delicious and freezes extremely well.

I’m really wanting to inspire busy people to cook at the moment – setting aside a day a fortnight, or even a month, to have a big cook up and fill the freezer with yummy dishes. Not only will it reduce the stress in your life, but it will also ensure you and your family are eating good, healthy food, that won’t break the bank.

I had some really awesome comments on my post on freezing food the other day – click here to read the post and the tips and tricks Uforic Food readers offered on how to do it successfully.

This post set records for readership on this blog, so I figure it’s the sort of thing people are really interested in. I know I am seeing as I am trying to cook meals for my dad and stack his fridge with yummy goodness!

So, this recipe is one of the ones I cooked the other night (I found it on taste.com.au) – because it’s very much ideal for freezing, and because it’s such a complete meal, you don’t have to worry about trying to think of something to go with it which will freeze well.

Chicken with Rataouille and Risoni

 

  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • 2 large zucchinis, thickly sliced
  • 1 red capsicum, halved, thickly sliced
  • A good drizzle of olive oil
  • 8 large chicken drumsticks
  • 2 cups Italian tomato pasta sauce (or you could make my marinara sauce, click here for the recipe)
  • 1/3 cup dried risoni pasta
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped

Method

Preheat oven to 240°C. Place eggplant, zucchini and capsicum in a large roasting pan. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and some salt and pepper and use your hands to toss the vegies and ensure all the vegies are lightly coated. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until light golden.

Meanwhile, heat a heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Add a little olive oil and cook the drumsticks in batches, turning occasionally, for 5 minutes or until light golden (you could use thigh fillets as well, if you like). Return all chicken to saucepan. Add pasta sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in risoni. Cook, covered, for a further 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Do keep an eye on it to make sure the risoni doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Stir in roast vegetables and basil. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve or transfer to containers for freezing.

This recipe is so easy and simple, but the roasting of the vegetables really adds a lovely depth of flavour. I know some people would like to use breast chicken for this. However, I really urge you not to, I think it would really take away from the flavour.

If you have a recipe that you’d like to share – email me at lisa.foreman_media@yahoo.com.au . I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Be Inspired~

Lisa

A French inspiration: Boeuff Bourguignon


My mother’s maiden name – Le Raye – is a sure-fire clue that I have at least some French blood coursing through my veins.
As a nation that speaks such a beautiful language, has a deep appreciation for art, culture, wine … and, of course, food – I have always felt rather proud of this fact.
In saying that, French cooking is a tough business. There are often many steps in the process of re-creating this wonderful cuisine – so much technique and preciseness required. Non of this is really my strong point. I’m more slap and dash, trial and error – a slosh of this and a drop or two of that. I cook by building flavour as I go – adding a bit of this and that, having a taste and then adding something else wherever the dish falls short. I’m always thinking of the balance of the salty, sweet, sour and heat components of a dish and modifying as the cooking journey progresses.

So after finally watching the very famous movie, Julie and Julia – and of course as a tribute to my French heritage, I thought I’d give the famous Boeuff Bourguignon a go. Matt’s mum recommended a few recipes she had done in the past – and I had also seen it made on the French episode of Food Safari by Guillaume Brahimi. So, in typical Lisa style – a did a combination of all three. It was rich, had great depth and beautiful flavour. Very happy with my French crusade indeed! If you’ve never tried French cooking before, and even if you have, I promise this gem of a recipe will be a big hit and worth the effort.

Boeuff Bourguignon 

  •  1.5kg of chuck steak, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 30gm of butter
  • 2 tbs of oil
  • 12 small onions, peeled but kept whole
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stick of celery, diced
  • 3 rashers of middle bacon, diced
  • 10 small button mushroom, remove stalks but leave whole
  • 2tbs of brandy
  • 2 cups of dry red wine
  • 1 cup of port
  • 1/2 a cup of beef stock
  • 1/2 a cup of tomato puree
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 a cup of  water
  • 2 tablespoons of corn flour

Method:

Heat butter and oil in a large, heavy based casserole, which is suitable for the stove top.

Fry the meat in batches until it is browned. Set aside.

Fry the small, whole onions until they are becoming caramalised on the outside – set aside also.

Fry the bacon (use a little more butter and oil if required) until it is becoming browned, then add the carrot and celery. Add a pinch of salt and cook until softened – about five minutes.

Return beef and onions to the pan and then add the brandy over a high heat, to cook out the alcohol. You can flame it, if you like – just don’t burn down your kitchen!! 🙂

Add the wine and port and allow this to simmer for a few minutes before adding the whole baby mushrooms to the pan.

Cover and simmer over a low heat for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally.

Stir cornflour into the water and add to the pan, stirring as you go. Continue to stir as it comes back to the boil to avoid any lumps. It should thicken.

Serve with buttery mashed potatoes and some crusty bread to soak up the juices.

There you have it – an amalgamation of three recipes and I have to say, I was chuffed with how it turned out. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of whole onions – but it’s a major feature of the dish – so I went with it. It turns out that they tasted beautiful – they had taken up all the flavours of the sauce and had no sharp, oniony flavour about them.

I actually decided to turn mine off and the end of the 1.5 hour cooking process and once it cooled, popped it in the fridge overnight. I think this really improved the flavours as everything had a chance to meld. I re-heated it slowly on the stove and then once hot, completed the thickening process before serving.

Bon Appetite~

Lisa~

The final day of The Inspiration Challenge – Tagine Chicken


Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the final recipe in The Inspiration Challenge – which was for me to share with you 30 Recipes in 30 Days – during the month of November.

As I prepare to share with you the final recipe in the challenge (which I think is the most exciting of the lot!), I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has followed along for the past 30 days and encouraged me during this journey. November has been a record-breaking month for this blog – with more people visiting then I ever could have imagined! Incredible!

However, November has not been a dull month for me by any stretch of the imagination and, I honestly admit, that posting these 30 recipes has been a massive challenge. But the journey has taken me, and hopefully you, on a great journey – we have visited Italy with dishes including yummy mussel pasta, lamb ragu, pollo alla caciatora, marinara sauce and the most popular recipe on the whole blog for the month, I am very proud to say – was Matt’s meatlovers pasta . It has even been replicated and credited on other blogs too! Well done Matt!

We have also been to many other parts of the globe for flavour inspiration including India with chicken madras and Tandoori chicken risotto. There’s also been some great tips on how to brew your own stock make the best roast lamb and make perfectly crispy roast potatoes .

However, I know the most touching thing for me is my mum’s constant commentary on how proud she is that I have taken this blog on a journey of my teenage years, when I used to cook most of my family’s dinners. I have written about how watching my mum cook growing up has inspired me and I have shared with you some of the recipes she used to make including beautiful, yet simple sweet pastries, called Matchsticks, leek and potato soup, baked potatoes – Darwin style and baked barramundi.

While it has been fun going down memory lane – today I wanted to bring you a recipe that has excited me sooo much. It’s called Tagine Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives. You can check out how to make your own preserved lemon here – or you can buy it from any good gourmet food shop.

I have been wanting to buy a tagine – which is a Moroccan cooking utensil – for ages now. I finally got one a few weekends ago and it was only $15!! Make sure you buy just a plain terracotta one, and not a decorative one – as these are not meant for cooking.

It is important to prepare your tagine before you use it. I soaked mine in the sink overnight (the base and the lid) and then I put it on the cooktop, over a very low heat and filled it with water, salt and a few bay leaves. I brought it to the boil (which took ages!!) – and then tipped out the water. This is the process of “seasoning” the tagine – like you do with a wok. If you use your tagine regularly, you probably don’t need to soak or season it again. However, if you only use it every few months, I think it would be worth doing this before you use it each time – it helps prevent cracking when the tagine comes into contact with heat.

It’s also very important to cook anything in the tagine under a very low heat – it’s not designed for frying, but slow cooking.

Now that I have given you some tips about your tagine (you can find a lot more advice on the web too, if you Google it) – onto the recipe. This is the second most popular dish in Morocco, behind cous cous. I was inspired to make it after watching Food Safari – all I could think about after watching the episode about Moroccan food was that I had to go out and get a tagine!! Check out more of the recipes from this episode here.

I found with this recipe that I had to cook it for double the amount of time then then suggested 45 minutes – that the 1 cup of liquid should be about half a cup, as the tagine overflowed!! I also think it needs a little less preserved lemon for the finishing garnish. It’s a very tart flavour – but I think with a little less, it would have been perfect!

I really hope you give it a try!!!

Tagine Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives

Chermoula Marinade

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 preserved lemon, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • ½ birds eye chilli
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, stems and leaves
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in a little water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves, torn in half

Other ingredients

  •  1 whole chicken, size 10 or 12
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 150g pitted green olives
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 preserved lemon, cut into 6 segments.

Method:

Marinade
Process all ingredients together in a food processor until finely chopped and thoroughly combined. Leave for 30 minutes before using. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to seven days.

Wash and dry the chicken and remove backbone, wing tips and any excess fat. Cut into pieces. Rub all over with ½ of the chermoula marinade and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.

Combine the tomato and onion with a little more chermoula and spread into the base of the tajine (this will prevent the chicken from burning on the bottom).Arrange chicken pieces in the centre of the tajine on top of tomato mixture. Coat potato wedges with chermoula and arrange around chicken. Top with onion slices, then tomato slices and olives in between the potato wedges.

Mix chopped coriander with remaining chermoula and water. Pour over mixture. Decorate top with preserved lemon wedges.

Cover tajine with lid and cook on a very low gas heat for 45 minutes. Do not stir or lift the lid during the cooking process.

Serve with couscous.

As mentioned earlier – I needed to cook my tagine longer, and when I make it again, I will be reducing the amount of liquid and preserved lemon. However, this is the original recipe and you can modify as I have advised if you like.

Despite that – this tagine recipe was sooo delicious. I really enjoyed it – it was something quite different to things I have made before – which is exactly what had me so excited to try it in the first place!

I really hope you run out and buy a tagine, if you don’t already have one, and give this a try. I can’t wait to use mine again and try out heaps more Moroccan recipes!

While this is the end of The Challenge – it’s by no means the end of Uforic Food. In fact, it’s just the beginning! I have so many great ideas for future posts – so many more recipes and an idea to get you more involved as well. So stay tuned!

Thanks again for all your support and encouragement – I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. I would really love it if you could share your thoughts on The Inspiration Challenge with me in the comments section below. What was your favourite recipe? Did you try any?

I know you have all been a bit bombarded with my foodie ramblings for the past month, so I’m going to give it a rest for a least the next couple of days.

So, until next time.

Be Inspired~

Lisa

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