Category Archives: The Weekly Cook Up

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

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 Р2 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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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: 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: Apple, date and pecan cake


This cake is so yummy – it’s moist, full of flavour and dangerously sweet.

It’s a great recipe to get the kids involved – they’ll absolutely love licking the bowl!

The original recipe for this came from a great blog called Root&Blossom. It’s a family recipe of this blogger – and I am soooo glad she shared it! Make sure you check it out.

I made a few changes – I used different apples¬†(because I could not get one Granny Smith apple¬†at the shop!!)¬†and added dates and pecans – simply because I can’t manage to follow any recipe without making a change or two – plus I LOVE dates¬†ūüôā When I make it again, I will wait to get the green variety – I think the tartness of them would be better than the Red Delicious ones I ended up using. Up to you though.

The thing that attracted me to this recipe was not only the combination of flavours – but how simple and easy the directions are! Check it out:

APPLE, DATE AND PECAN CAKE

 

  • ¬Ĺ cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean, deseeded
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 4 tbs of hot water
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of baking soda
  • 5 cups of diced Red Delicious or Granny Smith apples
  • 1/2 a cup of pitted dates, diced
  • 1 cup of¬†chopped pecans

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius. Mix the first 9 ingredients, add apples and nuts, mix thoroughly.

Grease a ceramic or glass baking dish with some butter. Pour in the batter and bake for 45 minutes.ÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅ

 Frosting:

  • 1/2¬†a cup of butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¬ľ tsp salt
  • 6 tbs of milk
  • 2 ¬Ĺ cups¬†icing sugar

 Bring the butter, brown sugar, salt and milk to the boil and simmer gently for 2 minutes. Allow to cool for 20 minutes and then add the icing sugar.

Smear on top of the cake and then serve.

¬†For regular readers of Uforic Food – you’ll know all about my claim to be a shocking baker.

However, news I recently received, and based on the success of my recent baking attempts, means this may not be entirely true!

It turns out the new owner of my former house kept burning everything too and that’s because … the oven was broken! That’s right, no thermostat whatsoever! No wonder everything was burning on the bottom!

I plan to now fearlessly bake like no other woman has baked before! Very inspired!

Thanks again to Root&Blossom¬†for this awesome recipe! Cook it up this weekend and send your family off to work and school with a very yummy snack. They’ll be the envy of everyone!

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

%d bloggers like this: