Category Archives: Entrees
It’s so freezing outside that I thought I should share with you a soup recipe that has become one of my all-time favourites. I adore leeks and seeing as they are in season, now is an ideal time to whip this up. I really didn’t like the idea of chickpeas in soup at first – but although it only has a few ingredients, the flavour is amazing. I originally saw this made on a Jamie Oliver cooking show way back when. I’ve made it my own and no longer need the recipe to guide me. Everyone I have served it to has been impressed 🙂
So – introducing …
Leek and Chickpea Soup
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 4 leeks
- 3 desiree potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
- 2 cans of chickpeas, drained and well rinsed
- 1.5 – 2 litres of chicken stock
- Parmesan cheese (to serve, but optional)
Cut leeks down the middle, discarding the tough green part at the top, and clean thoroughly under running water. Chop fairly finely.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add leeks and a few good pinches of salt. The salt will not only add flavour, but allow the leeks to wilt, without colouring. This should take about five minutes over a medium heat – ensure you keep an eye on it and stir regularly.
Add the potatoes, along with the chickpeas and cook until heated through. Add stock at this point – enough to generously cover the mixture.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, or until potato cubes are tender.
Remove from heat and using a stick mixer (or blender), blitz the ingredients, but leave some chunky bits.
Blitzing ensures the soup is beautiful and creamy, but leaving some chunky bits of chickpea and leek means there is really nice texture too. However, feel free to blitz to a smooth consistency if that’s what you prefer.
Bring back to the simmer – now you can judge whether more stock needs to be added. Just add more until the texture is to your liking. Make sure you have a taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve drizzled with some olive oil and shavings of parmesan cheese.
This soup really is a meal in a bowl and also makes a fantastic lunch. You can freeze it too, if you want – but I find this one disappears out of the fridge pretty quickly!
My Groovy Kitchen Tunes track for this warm, nutty soup would have to be Dark Storm, by The Jezebels. Its title is reflective of our weather here in Victoria at the moment, but there’s something warming and hopeful about it at the same time. Curl up on the couch tonight in front of the TV, pop a blanket over you and enjoy this soup and just think, the weekend is nearly here!! Sounds like a perfect Wednesday night to me 🙂
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 fiancée 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 – 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 – it 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
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.
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!
- 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 – cooking 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.
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!
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.
It’s Monday afternoon and you’ve got no idea what to cook for dinner tonight … this chargrilled squid salad is the answer.
If you don’t have the ingredients at home – then you only need to stop by two sections of the supermarket to get everything you need. You’ll be in and through the check-out in no more than 10 minutes. I think this is crucial because the supermarket pit-stop on weekdays, for me anyway, is one I dread. I just want to get home and start cooking and relaxing!
The flavours here are fresh and yummy, and the avocado really gives it a comforting creaminess – without the guilt!
CHARGRILLED SQUID SALAD
- 300gm of squid tubes, cleaned
- Olive oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- the juice of ½ a lime
- 2 very ripe avocados
- 1-2 fresh red chillies, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup of chopped coriander
- ½ a red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tomato, chopped
- juice of 2 limes
Squeeze the avocados out of their skins into a bowl, removing the stones. Add most of the chilli and coriander, the onion, tomato and lime juice. Mix everything up with a spoon, hacking up any bigger bits of avocado as you go. Have a taste to check the balance, and season with salt and pepper.
Put a griddle pan on a high heat to get nice and hot. For the squid tubes put the knife in the tube and cut through the side, open it out then lightly score every ½cm in a criss-cross fashion with a blunt knife. This means the squid will curl up and absorb extra flavour.
Season the squid with a pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil then toss to coat. Add it to the hot griddle, scored-side down, for 1 to 2 minutes. Use tongs to turn the squid over once it has nice char marks. Give it a minute on the other side until it curls up then immediately transfer to a bowl. While the squid is still piping hot, add a really good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, the lime juice and another small pinch of salt and pepper.
Spoon the avocado salad onto a platter. Cut the squid into bite-sized chunks. Pile the squid over the salad and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Scatter over the reserved coriander and chilli.
This dish looks so pretty. I know it’s Monday, but why not light some candles, pour some wine and sit down with you partner and pretend it’s the weekend!
Eggplant is in season and so it’s time to start thinking of some creative ways of serving it.
A lot of people don’t really like eggplant, or aubergine as it is known is some places, all that much. I used to be one of them. It can be bitter if not treated to a nice sprinkling of sea salt, and if you under-cook it, it’s gonna have a funny, squeaky texture.
How do I like it best? Well, while I do love it in curries because its spongy flesh really soaks up all the flavours – You can’t go past it in a dip known as Baba ghanouj.
It is an Arab dish and in some parts is served as an appetizer while in others they like it as a side-dish or salad.
With eggplants plentiful, why not give this recipe a go. This one is inspired by SBS Food Safari – the Lebanese episode. It’s creamy, delicious and very good for you!
- 2-3 medium sized eggplant
- 1½ tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp paprika
Grill whole eggplant over a gas flame, turning with tongs until the skin is evenly toasted. Soak in cold water for about 10 min to cool.
When cool, completely peel the eggplants and drain for 15-20 min. Place into a food processor with tahini, lemon, garlic and salt and process again until well combined and creamy.
Place the mixture in a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a little paprika.
The recipe suggested finishing at the end with a chopped tomato and some parsley. Feel free to add it if you have it on hand.
Remember to also taste the dip before you serve it – the lemon, salt and tahini may need tweaking to suit your tastes.
I’ve also had some trouble in the past actually finding tahini. I always find it in the health food section at the supermarket. I’m sure you can get it from health food shops too. It’s basically a sesame seed paste – very strong in flavour – but very yummy 🙂