Category Archives: chicken

The Weekly Cook Up – Roast chicken with the best crispy skin EVER!


As much as we are told that eating chicken skin is bad … isn’t the skin just the yummiest bit?

Provided it’s cooked right and lovely and crispy, the skin is something people fight over – just like really good pork crackling.

But, like crackling, perfectly crispy skin can be a bit of a challenge to achieve.

The trick is to bring the chicken to room temperature before roasting, and to ensure the skin is really dry by patting it with some kitchen towel. Where did I learn this? Neil Perry, of course ūüôā This dish is inspired by a recipe of his on the Rockpool website. The chicken is flavoured with lemon and thyme and served with his beautiful aoli – which you can buy in the fresh food section at the supermarket. YUM! I also roasted potato, parsnip, swede and carrots making this an amazing one-pan dish.

Crispy-skinned roast chicken with lemon, thyme and roast potatoes

  • 1 x 1.6 ‚Äď 1.8kg chicken
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • A few knobs of butter
  • ¬Ĺ bunch thyme
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 carrots, washed, cut in half and then sliced lengthways
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into rough pieces
  • 3 potatoes, washed and cut into rough pieces
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes

Method

An hour before you begin cooking take the chicken out of the fridge and pat dry with paper towel. Place the thyme and lemon inside the chicken cavity. Drizzle all over with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat you oven to 220¬įc.

Heat a roasting pan in the oven. Add enough olive oil to barely cover the tray and a few knobs of butter, then add all of your vegetables except the tomatoes and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, toss well and place the pan in the oven. Cook the vegetables for about 20 minutes ‚Äď they should be just starting to brown.

Remove the tray from the oven and add the cherry tomatoes and whole garlic cloves. Place the chicken face up into the pan and return to the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. I found I needed to cook my chicken for an extra 10 minutes, as it was still a little pink.

Remove from the oven, lightly cover with foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving. This step is really important as it allows all the juices to calm down from the cooking, making it lovely and moist.


Cut the chicken into quarters, and serve with the roasted vegies and Neil Perry’s fresh aoli on top. Some crusty sourdough bread is perfect too ūüôā

My dog, Angel, got the leftovers. After a good feed, he was feeling pretty tired ūüôā

As for a groovy tune to go with this delicious Sunday roast – I’d suggest this track by the Freelance Whalers. I came across this song on the Offspring soundtrack. I am totally addicted to this show and thought the music was amazing too! It’s kind of chilled and yet has this really cool rhythm to it. I think I love this song too, because it’s called Hannah, which is my favourite name ūüôā Hope you enjoy it as much as I do – although the video clip is a little weird ūüôā

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Butter Chicken – the weeknight version


Butter chicken is one of those curries that won’t scare those opposed to heat and is great for kids. Not a chilli in site!

While curries are a bit famous for taking a very long time to cook – this version is actually quite quick (on the table within 40 minutes, including preparation) and doesn’t require going to the supermarket to purchase 10 different kinds of spice.

It’s a bit of a cheats version – but don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for that! This uses a store-brought mild curry paste. Some brands of these are better than others. I find Sharwood to be superior and the flavour is really fantastic. It’s all fine to spend a bit of time on the weekend grinding up your own curry paste, but it’s not something for during week.

You’ll notice that the quantities are enough to feed a small army – and that’s because I was cooking it not only for our dinner, but also as additional meals for my dad to put in his freezer.

So, why not cook a large batch – serve it up for dinner, then pop the rest in an air-tight container for the freezer. It’ll give you a night off when you can’t face cooking.

Butter Chicken

  • 3 heaped tbs of mild curry paste (Sharwood is my prefered supermarket variety – but there are fabulous ones at Indian supermarkets)
  • 2 large red onions, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2cm nob of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs of dried ground coriander
  • 2 tbs of tomato paste (this is a key ingredient, not only for flavour, but colour as well)
  • 2 kg of chicken thigh fillets, chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 500ml of thickened cream
  • 1/2 a cup of water
  • 1 large handful of chopped, fresh coriander (optional)

Method


In a large, heavy-based saucepan add the paste, onion, garlic, ginger, tomato paste and dried coriander and cook until the spices become fragrant, about five minutes. If they start to burn and catch on the bottom of the pan, add a little water.

Add the chicken and cook over a medium heat, stirring regularly, until the chicken’s juices start to loosen the mix. This will take 5-10 minutes. Add the water and the cream and stir well. Allow to simmer over a low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the curry is a lovely, rich orangey colour. Add the coriander, if using. and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with basmati rice and pappadums or naan bread, if you have it handy!

My Groovy Kitchen Tunes track choice for the cooking of this recipe would have to be something warm and comforting, just like this dish. As soon as this song comes on, I can’t help but smile, which is how I feel when I put the first fork full of butter chicken in my mouth. The Temper Trap is my new absolute favourite band right now, in and out of the kitchen! Their album Conditions was a big feature of the playlist at our engagement party in May. Their incredible Рas is this song РFader. Have a listen!

Creamy mushroom and asparagus risotto


This was the first risotto recipe I ever made, and while I have done many more since, this delicious combination has stood the test of time.

My first attempt was back when I was a 23-year-old¬†sub-editor working the 3pm to 12am shift at a¬†daily newspaper in a¬†country town in New South Wales. Boredom¬†and loneliness¬†was often an issue for me, so I used to entertain myself by cooking up heaps of different dishes. I didn’t have to worry about feeding someone else and what their likes and dislikes were. I didn’t have to¬†stress if the dish took forever, I was on my time, no¬†hungry people (other than my tummy) hovering around.¬†As a tribute to my solitude, I went a little crazy with my culinary experiments. The best part for me was¬†that if one of my far-fetched dishes turned into an inedible mess, I would be the only one going to bed hungry.

So, I headed to the shop, brought a packet of alborio¬†rice, and looked at the back of the packet to find this very recipe (which I have since adapted). I then proceeded to walk around and around the supermarket, finding the bits and pieces I needed. One thing I discovered about myself¬†during this lonely phase¬†(I learnt a lot, actually)¬†was that without a little direction – I get totally lost and distracted in supermarkets. I used to go¬†from the freezer section to the deli and then up to the biscuit isle, before realising I forgot the parsley in the fruit and veg section. I’d then think; “ice-cream, would be nice …”¬† so off I’d go to the other end of the shop.

¬†My fianc√©e would attest that I’m not much better when accompanied by someone willing to carry my basket of goodies – but I do try to stay focused!

Anyway, I digress Р back to the risotto.

I cut up all my ingredients (something I recommend doing when cooking any dish for the first time, especially when using a new technique Рit keeps things a little more organised and helps with timing) and I got underway. I added rice and wine and stock and stirred it round and round as I did so. I got a little bored with the stirring, so I phoned a friend, holding the phone with one hand and my wodden spoon with the other. We had a good old chat! 

In the finish, it came out ok. Although it was a bit dry, and it got stuck to the bottom of the pan.

But I pressed ahead and served my little experiment into a nice bowl. I then took up my position on my old, uncomfortable futon couch, in my¬†holey, but very comfy PJs you would never let a boy see you in for how unsexy they were. All this was completed with a nice drop of wine in my very best coffee mug, perched on the floor beside me. Upon the first bite, I discovered I had produced a meal that was, well,¬†quite uncooked. Ok, it was crunchy. I obviously hadn’t persisted long enough with the ladelling¬†of stock and stirring of rice.

But, the flavours were all there – it was just the texture that was wrong. I did eat it all too. I was hungry and it was too cold and too late to head out for Maccas.

I bet you aren’t keen to try this recipe now – but you really should. Honestly! Learn from my mistakes and you’ll do as well as my second attempt – which turned out fabulously well!

Tips to perfect risotto:

  • Taste the rice before you decide it’s ready, and continue to ladel and stir until you get the right texture, which is soft with the subtlest bite to the rice – it should be creamy and loose.
  • Heat your stock in a pot beside your risotto pan – it takes less time for the rice to absorb hot stock then cold, making it much, much quicker.
  • Use a non-stick¬†frypan – trust me, this is a good idea!
  • Cook¬†the risotto at a high heat and don’t stop stirring! The stirring releases the starch from the rice, making the risotto creamy.
  • Always check your seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • The other trick I discovered was that it’s worth getting someone to give you a hand with the stirring¬†– this means employing a spouse, friend, teenager etc to do this for you. Best idea ever!

Creamy mushroom and asparagus risotto

  • Tandoori Chicken Risotto
  • 600gm of chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup of pancetta, diced
  • 200gm¬†of alborio rice
  • 1/2 a bottle of white wine
  • 4¬†portabelo mushrooms (or whichever ones you like), sliced
  • 1 litre of chicken stock (you will probably use¬†less than this, but best to have it on hand)
  • 3 bunches of asparagus, trim away the woody bit, leaving the spears
  • 2 handfuls of grated parmesan (a good quality one)
  • 3 tbs of thickened cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Put the chicken stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil before turning right down.

Heat a little olive oil in a non-stick pan and cook the onion over a low heat, until it is beginning to soften. Add the panchetta and cook for a further two minutes or so.

Turn up the heat and add your chicken. Cook for about five minutes, then add the alborio rice.

Stir so that all the grains are coated and really hot, but don’t burn them. Add all the wine. It will bubble a lot¬†(if it doesn’t, your stove isn’t hot enough). Stir until the wine has absorbed.¬†

At this point, start ladelling your stock in. Put one ladel full of stock in at a time and stir each until it has absorbed into the rice before adding the next. This will take about 20 to 30 minutes. Ensuring your stock is hot before adding it will quicken the process.

After about 10 minutes (so the rice should be half-cooked) add the mushroom and asparagus.

¬†The only way to tell that it’s ready it to taste it, as mentioned previously. Make sure the risotto is nice and lose and creamy – it shouldn’t be dry and stodgy.

Finish with the cheese and cream. Once you have stirred it through, you might like to add a touch more stock, as the cheese can thicken the risotto.  

Whether you have tried cooking risotto before or not – this is a great recipe and I promise, as long as you taste and stir, it will be lovely, creamy and comforting! Why not make it the next time you have an afternoon free, your next anniversary dinner when the kids are elsewhere or for your next dinner party.

This recipe really isn’t one to freeze. You can if you want, but the texture will change. Add some water when reheating if you’d like to try it.

Be inspired~

Lisa

The Weekly Cook Up: Marinades


Marinating meat is a great way to not only save time, but to inject lots of awesome flavour into a week-night meal.

This week I’m going to share with you three really awesome marinades, which can be used on chicken, beef and lamb which will have your family raving not only about the great flavours, but also the tenderness of the meat.

Marinading meat is so convenient because you can do your weekly/fortnightly or monthly shop and marinate whatever meats you wish before popping them in the freezer. Once thawed, all that is left to do is cook it, and because it will be bursting with flavour, a simple salad or side of vegies is the only accompaniement required.

Don’t know much about marinating?¬†Well, you’ll see from the below¬†recipes that there are generally three main ingredients in each – acid (like lemon juice), oils and seasonings (herbs, spices, salt and pepper etc). The oils and the acids help tenderise¬†the meat and break down the fibres to allow the seasonings to penetrate their great flavour. Once you get hold of a few good marinating recipes and start to understand what flavours work – then you’ll be making up your own before you know it!

Greek-style marinade

  • Half a cup of olive oil
  • The juice of a whole lemon
  • 1 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 a tsp of sea salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbs¬†of dried oregano

This marinade is great for chicken thighs or lamb chops, which can then be grilled on a hot pan or on the barbecue.

You could also spread it over a whole chicken or on maryland pieces (which is the cut with the thigh and leg bone, joined together) before roasting in a medium  oven (about 180 to 200 degrees C Рcooking times depend on the size of your whole bird, but marylands should take about 45 minutes).

But this is most ideal on a leg of lamb before roasting, or ask you butcher to butterfly the leg – which means he’ll remove the bone, leaving a nice flat piece of meat. Marinate it, and then cook it on the barbecue. It’s just amazing!

 Spicy Asian Marinade

  • 2cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 a¬†red chilli, finely chopped (remove seeds to reduce spice)
  • 1/2 a green chilli, finely chopped (remove seeds to reduce spice)
  • 5 tbs of soy sauce
  • 2 tbs of fish sauce
  • 1/4 of a cup of peanut oil
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • The juice of half a lime

This marinade is ideal for chicken and beef. Chicken strips can be marinated and stir-fryed¬†with some Asian greens, or beef steaks will soak up these beautiful flavours before being cooked medium to rare on a barbecue and used in a Asian beef salad. It’s also great for meats you want to skewer and then barbecue. Beware though, it is quite spicy – so not one for the kids.

Moroccan marinade

  • 1/2 a cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs¬†of Moroccan spice blend/seasoning
  • 1 tsp of lemon zest
  • 1/2 a tsp of sea salt
  • 1/2 a tsp of black pepper

This marinade is very versatile and is great for all cuts of chicken, is fabulous on lamb chops or back strap (cooked medium on the barbecue) or on tender cuts of beef.

Method and tips for all marinades

Combine all ingredients and whisk well. All these marinades yield enough for 1 to 1.5 kilograms of meat. The best way to marinade it to place meat in a freezer bag, add marinade and seal the bag, ensuring all the air is out. Toss, turn and massage the meat in the bag (having the bag sealed prior to doing this exercise saves your hands from getting all dirty, but ensures the meat and marinade is well combined). Ensure you use a large enough freezer bag for your quantity of meat.

Freeze for up to three months. To thaw – place the frozen meat in the fridge the night before you need it. This is the most hygienic way of thawing meat.

You can marinate the meat on the same day as you plan to use it, but the flavour won’t be as good. However, as long as the meat has at least 2 hours in the fridge, it will still be delicious.

This really is the simplest and easiest process to inject wonderful flavour. So, no more boring lamb chops or roast chickens. Inject some flavour – your family will thank you!

Any questions about marinating? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.

And before I forget – Uforic Food now has its very own Facebook page. Visit¬†it here¬†and don’t forget to ‘like’ us!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

The Weekly Cook Up – Chicken noodle soup


I don’t know what the weather is like in your part of the world, but here it’s delivering mostly sunny days, but the evenings have inherited that true winter chill we haven’t felt for a while here in southern Australia.

While this is a cue for most people to pull out their fluffy ugg¬†boots, cardigans and to curl up and watch TV with a nice warm blanket over your lap – for me, it’s also about cooking really yummy soups. Mostly, I take them to work for lunch, because I generally have a decent appetite at dinner time and really want something substantial. However, this chicken soup is a true meal.

With cooler weather comes colds and flues, and if you haven’t heard, chicken soup has wonderful medicinal, anti-inflamatory¬†properties. All the more reason to get into the kitchen this weekend and cook up a nice big batch. This recipe will give you four to six large serves. It’s healthy, warming and completely delish!

Most of us have a long weekend ahead (Happy Easter, by the way!!) so now is a great time to get in the kitchen and do some cook ups. Don’t forget to check out these other fabulous recipes which will help you fill your freezer.

Delicious Dal

Braised pork chops with apples and cabbage

Ginger and coriander curry

Chicken Soup

The broth
– 1 whole free-range chicken
– 3 stalks of celery – roughly chopped (include top leaves for extra flavour)
–¬†3 carrots – roughly chopped
–¬†3 large¬†red onions, unpeeled, roughly chopped
–¬†1 handful of fresh parsley
– 2 leeks (use only white parts) roughly chopped
– 3 cloves of garlic – whole with skin on
– 6 peppercorns
–¬†2 bay leaves
– A few good pinches of sea salt (to taste)
– I stalk of lemon grass – bruised (optional)
The soup
– 3 stalks of celery, washed and diced
– 2 leeks, washed and diced (use only the white part)
– 1 packet of vermicelli noodles
– The flesh of a whole cooked chicken (cooked using the broth above)
– 3 tablespoons of soy sauce (or to taste)
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
 
Combine all ingredients for the broth in a large stock pot and pour over enough cold water to cover all the vegetables and to ensure the chicken is submerged.
Cover and simmer very gently for about 1 hour.
Remove from heat, retrieve the chicken and set aside.
Strain the liquid into a clean bowl, pressing the vegetables to extract the flavour. Transfer back into the saucepan and allow to cool.  Discard the cooked vegies.
 
Meanwhile, once the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull it apart with your hands, discarding the skin and bones, and separate the tender flesh into chunks. Set these aside for later.
Once the broth has cooled, scoop away any fat or impurities that have risen to the top and discard them. This leaves a beautiful, clean broth. An easy way to do this is to pop the cooled broth into the fridge overnight. The next day the fat and impurities will have formed a skin on top, making it even easier to skim and discard.
 
Bring the broth back up to the boil and add the remaining soup ingredients. Simmer until the noodles are cooked through, which sound only take a few minutes. Before serving, check for seasoning. I find this needs quite a bit of salt to bring out all the subtle flavours – so make sure you taste it and adjust to your tastes.
 
Serve in big bowls, with some nice, crusty bread.
Alternatively, if you’d like to freeze this for later use, pour into containers, label and freeze for up to three months. This can be reheated easily in the microwave and makes perfect lunches to take to work.
 
What kinds of soups do you look forward to eating in winter? I’m always looking for new ones to try!
Stay tuned for even more soups as the weather gets cooler!
 
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 Рpeople 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: 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 Рbut 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 ūüôā

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 Рminus the stress!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

And while we wait … the best fried rice ever


It’s been a few days between recipes, and so I thought I’d share with you one that was inspired by the amazing Kylie Kwong. I watched her make this fried rice on her cooking show and it made me sooo¬†hungry!!! I also loved it because it was so simple – she doesn’t add everything under the sun like sweet corn and peas (eewww so bad in fried rice!!) and little pieces of capsicum and carrots. Now Kylie’s didn’t have bacon in it – but I love it in fried rice – so I added it. I changed a few other bits and pieces as well.

I used to battle with making this dish because the rice would always go gluggy. Here are a few tips:

  • Cook your rice the night before. Fluff it with a fork and¬†refrigerate
  • I find jasmine rice is too starchy – so I use basmati (I know, not authentic, but it works and it’s better for you!)
  • When you take the rice out of the fridge, don’t just bung it in the wok¬†– separate¬†it with a fork, or use your fingers.
  • Make sure your wok is hot and don’t keep the rice in there long – it really only needs to fry slightly and reheat.

 

The very best fried rice

  • 6 free range eggs
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped¬†
  • 6¬†tbs of light soy sauce
  • 1 tbs finely diced ginger
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 4¬†rashers of middle bacon, rind removed and diced
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 4 cups of cooked basmatic rice
  • Method

    Cook your rice (I use basmati, as mentioned above), fluff it with a fork and leave it to cool completely in the fridge.

    Place the oil in a hot wok and fry off the bacon, until it is just about to go crisp. Add red onions and let them soften.

    Meanwhile, place the eggs in a bowl with spring onions, half the soy sauce and ginger and lightly beat with a fork to combine.

    Pour in the egg mixture and leave to cook for 10 seconds before folding eggs over onto itself with a spatula and lightly scrambling for about 1 minute or until almost cooked through. Please don’t fully cook the eggs at this point, otherwise they will be tough later.

    Add rice and extra soy sauce and stir-fry for about 1 1/2 minutes, using a spatula to break up the egg into smaller pieces.  It really nicely starts to coat the rice and it tastes amazing! Make sure you taste it as this point and see if it needs any more soy. I like quite a bit in this so I do get a bit heavy-handed!

    I served this with some marinated chicken. I just used some soy, sweet chilli sauce and a touch of rice wine vinegar and fresh, finely sliced red chilli, coated it and fried it in the wok.

    Such a quick, easy weekday meal which you will love.

    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 Рclick 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¬įC. 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 ūüôā

    Be Inspired~

    Lisa

    Roasted lemon and garlic drumsticks


    Following yesterday’s post about freezing meals, I thought I’d share with you this recipe, which was emailed to me by a reader of Uforic Food.

    She said she freezes these roasted drumsticks regularly Рand that they are great to whip out of the freezer and re-heat when guests come over unexpectedly. She said the key is that the drumsticks stay moist because of the buttery sauce you pour over them at the end.

    Last night was the big cook-up for my dad, and as a dedicated subscriber to this very blog – I’m sure he’ll let us know what he thought of this dish, once he has a chance to try it ūüôā (love you dad!! XX) I had a nibble on one before I packed them into containers, and I have to say, they were very delicious ūüôā Thanks to Kristy for putting forward this recipe for everyone to try – I will certainly be making them again!

    Roast Lemon and Garlic Drumsticks 

    • 12 chicken drumsticks
    • 3 tbs of olive oil
    • the zest of 1 lemon, grated
    • 3tbs of butter
    • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
    • 1 handful of fresh parsley

    Method:

    Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees (c). Place the drumsticks into a shallow baking dish, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the olive oil and add the lemon zest. Toss the drumsticks, using your clean hands, through the mixture.

    Place in the oven and cook for 40 minutes.

    Once the drumsticks are cooked through, remove them from the oven and cover with foil to keep warm. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a pan over a low heat and add the juice of half a lemon, along with the garlic. Do not let the garlic burns. After a minute of gentle cooking, add the parsley and some salt and pepper, to taste, right at the end.

    Turn off the heat, place drumsticks on a serving platter, or in freezer containers, and drizzle over the buttery sauce.

    There you have it. These should freeze well for up to three months.

    To reheat, preferably thaw out first, then reheat by tossing them around in a frying pan, over a medium heat. However, you can just pop them in the microwave.

    These would be great served with my warm potato salad and some crusty bread.

    If you have any other recipes that are good for freezing and would like to share them with everyone, just like Kristy did¬†– email it to me – I’d love to pop it on¬†Uforic Food¬†… lisa.foreman_media@yahoo.com.au

    Be Inspired~

    Lisa

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