Category Archives: Side dishes

Scruptious corn – a side dish that sings!


The meat component of most dinners is normally the feature of a dish – and the side-dish is something that just goes along for the ride.

However, this corn, tomato and chilli dish is that good, that it is the perfect foundation. Simple add some grilled meat, and you have a dinner full of great flavour, that took no time at all to put together!

Corn with tomato and chilli

  • 4 corn cobs, husks removed and kernels cut from the cob
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1   400gm can of chopped canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 a cup of chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Remove the outer husks from the corn cobs. Stand the cob on its end, and using a sharp knife, cut the kernels away from the cob.

In a large frypan, add some olive oil, the onion, garlic and chilli with a pinch of salt and fry gently, over a medium heat. Fry for 3 minutes, then add the corn.

Add the canned tomatoes and stock and simmer over a medium heat for 15 minutes, or until the corn is tender.

Serve with some grilled meat of your choice. I did a rolled loin of lamb. It was absolutely delicious 🙂

As for a groovy tune – I highly recommend this rocking track my the Kaiser Chiefs. I got into this English indie rock band after the AFL started using this song for their footy promos. Love it!.

Check it out!

Fabulous side dish: Smashed potatoes


Side dishes are a real challenge for me, and I think for a lot of people. You know the main thing you’d like to cook – some simply grilled fish, a nice roast chicken or even a steak – but I’m always asking myself “but what are we going to have with it??”

So, I’ve been road testing a few side dish ideas, and this one is awesome 🙂 Smashing the potatoes gives great texture, and I made this with bacon and spring onions – all great friends of the humble potato. This isn’t a pretty dish, but it’s full of flavour, simple and will compliment many different dishes. I love mashed and baked potatoes – but this is a nice change.

SMASHED POTATOES

  • 4 deseree potatoes
  • 3 rashers of bacon, sliced into chunks
  • 2 spring onion stalks, chopped
  • 2 knobs of butter
  • a little olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Score the potatoes with a knife and cook in the microwave for 7 minutes, or until soft and tender.

Place a non-stick pan over a high heat and add enough olive oil to cover the pan. Place the potato on a plate and using a fork, smash it until it had broken up, but it still chunky. Add the potato to the hot pan, using a spatula to press it down.

Scatter the bacon on top and place small pieces of the butter across the top of the potato and bacon. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Cook until the potato is golden at the bottom, then use the spatula to turn the potato and bacon over, to allow it to brown on the other side. The potato will break apart as you do this. Don’t stress, that’s what’s supposed to happen.

Once the bacon is cooked and parts of the potato are crispy – it’s ready to serve with your favourite meal.

Hope you enjoy this recipe. As I said, it’s not pretty, but mostly importantly, it’s yummy, relatively quick and something a bit different.

What kinds of side dishes do you normally cook? Are you sometimes left stumped for ideas? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Mystery solved!! Why kids (and adults) won’t eat vegies


When I was consulting my expert about what vegetables are in season for this blog post, I dreaded to mention the one at the top of the list. This poor little guy has such bad PR, I thought all my readers would be driven away – perhaps forever!

But, if everyone could look past their childhood nightmares and give this little vegie of goodness the love it deserves – I promise you and your kids are very, very likely to enjoy them (I won’t say definitely, because there are no guarantees in life!).

In fact, I know many people who HATE a plethora of vegetables. More commonly: Cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin, beans, peas (I admit, this is the only real vegetable I don’t like), spinach/silverbeet …

And finally, the subject of today’s post:

BRUSSEL SPROUTS!

I know most of you are making a face at your computer screen right now and are tempted to just click the ‘close’ button and think of happier things, like chocolate … but please, read on, especially if you are a parent who is trying to get your kids to eat any sort of vegetable, even the ones you know you don’t even like … like Brussel sprouts.

I actually don’t think I know anyone who loves these little green balls – other than myself and my mum. The rest of my family happily eat them – but mum and I LOVE them … and do you know why?

Well, it’s all about how they are cooked! My mum had a real knack with cooking vegetables when we were kids (she still does!) – and this made our perception of them totally different to that of most of the kids I grew up with – and so many of the grown ups I know today.

I realised that it’s actually quite common for people to dislike or refuse to eat a whole range of vegies. I was surprised! But once I asked them why, a pattern started forming. Most people didn’t like vegies like Brussel spouts, brocoli and cauliflower because they thought of them as soggy and tasteless. This tells me that their issue has nothing much to do with the vegetables themselves.

It’s the cooking process that’s the problem, with most people I spoke to recalling how their mum’s boiled them forever in a pot of water on the stove, or had made the poor food do a few to many circles in the microwave. They were then plonked on the plate, with no love, care or attention (also known as seasoning). I mean look at this piece of broccoli as an example … who would want to eat this sorry-looking soggy thing? 

YUCK!!

But if you were served this … do you think you’d feel a bit differently about putting it in your mouth?

 Doesn’t this look so different to the first example?

Now if you aren’t a lover of these vegetables now, because you are used to boiled lumps of yuckiness – then I know even the latter version probably doesn’t look like a meal made in heaven. But I can tell you this now, with some love, in the form of sauteing these babies in a frying pan with some olive oil, pieces of bacon and some salt and freshly ground black pepper and a twist of lemon juice – you are VERY likely to enjoy every floweret of flavour they have to offer.

Don’t make your kids eat the same boiled crap you did when you were a kid. Just because it’s a side-dish and it’s healthy, it doesn’t deserve some care and attention before making it to the plate. It takes hardly any more time to inject a little flavour – and best of all – it’ll take less time to cook them too. A slight crunch and the bright, vibrant green colour is what you’re after, and it only takes 3 or 4 minutes to achieve it – not 10 or more in the microwave.

Now to share my mum’s trick with Brussel sprouts:

  • 15 Brussel sprouts
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of butter
  • freshly ground black pepper, and salt, to taste

Method:

Remove the outer leaves from the sprouts, especially if they look a bit discoloured. Remove the stalky bit at the bottom and then chop the sprout into three pieces.

In a medium saucepan, place the spouts, water and chicken stock over a high heat, until the water starts to steam and boil. Stir the Brussel sprouts around in the water a stock cube mixture. They will start to loosen and go bright green. Do this for about 4 or 5 minutes, or until the spouts are tender BUT NOT OVERCOOKED!! You won’t need to cook them for longer than 7 minutes.

Take the spouts off the heat, and add the butter, pepper and you can add some salt, if needed (the stock cube would have added some salt).

Serve with your favourite meat. I love these with a nice juicy steak. This cooking method also works well for broccoli too 🙂

I know there are a million recipes you’d rather try before you do this one – but I promise, it’s super yummy! I know the butter adds calories to what would otherwise be a healthy meal – but if you can’t get anyone to eat their vegies, a bit of butter to ensure they get all the vitamins and minerals of foods like Brussel sprouts and broccoli – then I reckon it’s worth it. This is the method my mum used to get my brother and I to LOVE our vegies. I know she was really on to something here!

Do you think you’ll give this a go with your kids, and for some vegies you don’t like? What things have you tried before to make vegies more yummy? Leave your comments below. I’m sure there’s plenty of people who would love your tips too!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Creamy mashed potato – just how it should be


Think mashed potato is boring? Done the right way, it’s anything but!

I know a lot of people who grew up with sloppy, lumpy horrible mash served with so many meals that it became the most undersirable thing on the plate. Usually it was served this way because it was quick, easy and cheap.

But, I implore you – don’t put your kids through eating horrid mash every night! Cook it like this and I can promise you, there won’t be a morsel left on the plate.

Now I know, it’s got a lot of butter, cream and cheese and it’s totally unhealthy. But who cares! This shouldn’t be a side dish you make every night. It should be savoured for the odd meal here and there – served with lamb shanks or a delicious hearty casserole on a cold night.

Once you make this – you’ll never let old school mash pass your lips again!

Creamy Mashed Potato

  • 4 or 5 large deseree potatoes
  • about 25 to 35 gms of sofened butter
  • about 1/4 of a cup of full cream milk
  • 3 tbs of cream
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Peel, wash and chop your potatoes. Place them in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover them, along with a few good pinches of salt. Bring to the boil and simmer until potatoes are tender.

Drain the water away and using a metal whisk, break up the potatoes (make sure they are still piping hot when you start this – the texture won’t be right if they are cold). Add the butter and milk and start to whisk. It’s a bit of tough work at the start, but the whisking makes the potato light and lump-free. Add the cream, and a little more milk if the mash is too thick and whisk until combined and smooth. Add your parmesan, salt and pepper and mix well again. Make sure you taste it at this point. Add more butter, salt, etc, dependent on your tastes, but it should taste buttery, creamy and delicious.

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Stay tuned for Friday’s The Weekly Cook Up where we’ll be talking marinades!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

A skill for life – teach your kids to cook


When I first moved from Darwin to Victoria to go to university – I was stunned by the number of people who couldn’t cook for themselves – at all!

Even though we got to eat in the cafeteria five nights a week as part of living on campus – that still left two meals where we had to fend for ourselves.

Moving away from home hadn’t removed my love for cooking, and so I used to muscle my way into our communal kitchen, around the other students making two-minute noodles, mugs of milo and spaghetti jaffles, to cook up various dishes which I enjoyed.

These weekly cook-ups turned into make-shift cooking classes – with my housemates quizzing me on the most basic of things – like cooking pasta and rice … which I will get to in just a moment.

My housemates thought the fact I knew how to cook a descent meal for myself was really impressive! I mean this wasn’t fine dining food – just a few casseroles and stuff like that. I even cooked everyone a roast one weekend. Everyone loved it, appreciated it and thought I was so skillful.

But really, I wasn’t skillful. My mother, knowingly or not, had taught me how to be self-sufficient.

It boggles my mind that parents are sending their young adults out into the world – with no cooking skills at all!

The parents of many of my housemates had also overlooked other skills too – like teaching their nest-leavers how to use a washing machine. I conducted many lessons in this regard too. This included explaining that jumping in the washing machine and pushing all the clothes down so you can do three week’s washing in one load was a pretty ineffective way of getting clothes clean. But, let’s focus on the cooking skills for now.

This week, if you have teenage kids at home – why not put some time aside to teach them a few basic skills. If you have already done this – then well done! Just remember, unless they are passionate about cooking, they don’t need to be the next Junior Masterchef . However, as much as you may or may not like it, they are going to move out one day and they will need to know how to feed themselves.

Being able to drive to Maccas is not an adequate skill to ensure your young person’s survival in the big wide world.

So, without further ado, let’s start with how to cook rice.

Even for people who do know how to cook – making perfect fluffy rice can be an elusive talent!

So, here are some tips and tricks to think about. This recipe serves four generous portions. If you have leftovers – you can always make my awesome fried rice recipe.

PERFECT FLUFFY RICE

  • 1 mug-sized cups of uncooked basmati rice
  • 1  1/2 mug-sized cups of water.

Method:

Place the rice and the water in a large, microwave-proof bowl, uncovered.

Place in the microwave and cook, on high, for 12 minutes. The cooking time may vary depending on your microwave.

Once cooked – all the liquid should have been absorbed into the rice. Use a fork to fluff up the rice and serve with your favourite curry, casserole etc.

Some Variations

Once you have the basic principle down – you can start adding some other flavours and textures.

You can use cold chicken stock, instead of water, and a knob of butter to add flavour.

Or, you can make saffron rice by using the chicken stock, butter and popping in a good pinch of saffron before you place the rice in the microwave. It will make the rice look amazing and the delicate flavours of the saffron really make rice something special.

A good way to educate kids that are big or small about cooking – is to let them help you in the kitchen. Empower them, make it fun. Who cares if they make a mess or don’t do it right the first time. As long as they aren’t getting burnt or chopping their fingers off – the most important thing is you are giving them the gift of a skill for life!

Stay tuned to Uforic Food for even more teen-friendly recipes you can share with the young people in your house. Even if they rebel and leave home only able to reheat baked beans – you will always know you gave it your best shot!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

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