Blog Archives

Unplugged and getting back to basics


Have you ever felt the need in this crazy, busy technological world to just unplug and get away from it all?

I didn’t realise I was going to take a break – but before I knew it – that’s what I was doing. No writing, no stalking Facebook and Twitter. It felt good. To just cook and not write down all the ingredients along the way while worrying about whether the meal would be “blog-worthy” or not.

It was nice to get back to just cooking every night for Matt and I. The other thing when you write a blog as frequently as I was is the capacity to repeat recipes is decreased. You can’t exactly cook the same risotto over and over and keep blogging about it. You’ve always got to be trying something new and experimenting. While I love to do this – I just wanted to cook old favourites for a while. So, I did.

And I amused myself doing other things – like going out and having the most amazing dinner for my birthday (thanks to Matt) and going for walks on the beach. Here are some photos of my adventures while I have been silent in the online world.

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But I have missed writing here … and so I’m back to write about the food I love to cook and eat. But, there will be a few changes.

I’m going to post awesomely delicious recipes every Saturday morning to inspire you ahead of the weekend. But, I’m not going to push myself to post more than that. Sometimes our lives are just too full of computers and phones and not enough about the raw basics, like cooking, gardening, walking along the beach and just reading a good book. I have done all those things during my unexpected break – and it makes me a happier person. Unplugged = destressed = a happier me. That’s important.

Writing about food has always been so therapeutic to me – I don’t want it to start feeling like work again. My blog is about sharing food stories, great and yummy recipes and connecting with people. I don’t want to forget that again.

Do you think unplugging from the vertual world is important? Does being online all the time overwhelm you? How do you go about disconnecting and how did you feel about not being online? Was it easy, or was it hard to be out of touch? Leave your comments below. It would be great to hear about other people’s experiences.

It’s great to be back and I can’t wait to share an epic recipe I road-tested during my break – Rick Stein’s Massaman Curry from his recent Eastern Odyssey series. It was a labour of love – but worth the effort. Look out for it on Saturday. See you then!

Cooking – not only cures hunger, but enriches the soul


Over the past few months I’ve been trying to figure out what makes cooking such a challenge for people. Why don’t more people love compiling the evening meal as much as I do?

So, I asked a few of my friends on Facebook about what makes cooking challenging for them. Most of them said it was time that made it hard to get a meal on the table. Others said it was the financial stress of having to cook for a large family. Other said recipes had too many ingredients or were too hard to follow. All very useful things to know for a food blogger like me.

But, while I can create and write simple recipes that taste great and are good on the bank balance, I was wondering what I could do to change the mindset that cooking is just a means to an end – something that has to be done.

I’ve decided, it’s all about how you feel when you cook. Busy schedules, screaming kids – all while dealing with hot pots and timers and everything else that goes along with cooking. Yeah, that sounds terrible to me too!

So, I came up with a recipe to help you think of cooking as not only a means of feeding your hunger, but feeding your soul:

1. Turn the TV off, and turn your favourite tunes on.

 One of my pet hates when I am trying to cook is having the TV mind-numbingly blaring in the background. I always cooked with the TV on growing up – then I brought a house that’s kitchen was a totally separate room from the rest of the house. Well, it was my little haven of happiness. I’d have my music on, and dance around the kitchen adding a dash of this and a drizzle of that to whatever I was cooking. I know most houses are open plan – but why not turn the TV off for a while and enjoy some music. It will do your creativity a world of good, it’ll reduce stress, plus it’s unhealthy to have the idiot box on ALL the time.

2. Ask your parner /housemate / friend to sit with you while you cook, or even lend a hand!

One thing my fiancée and I love to do is spend time together while we cook. Sometimes I cook, sometimes he cooks. Sometimes I chop and he stirs. You get the drift. If we had kids, they’d probably be there too looking on and making racket. But hey, at least you’re together and communicating, and there’s nothing better for the soul then that!

3. Be confident!!

Many people see cooking as being hard, and therefore not enjoyable. I can understand that! If you watch Masterchef or My Kitchen Rules – no wonder most of us are getting a complex that our food isn’t special enough or fancy enough or it doesn’t have enough ingredients. Well, I’m here to tell you that most of the stuff that they cook on those shows doesn’t have a place in anyone’s kitchen 90 per cent of the time. Unless you are a lady or man of leisure with a whole lot of money and a stack of time on your hands, then that sort of cooking is a unrealisitic expectation to put on home cooks. As long as it tastes good and makes you happy, that’s all that matters. In saying that, I think those “four ingredient” recipes are kind of dumb – but there’s a happy medium to everything.

4. Keep your bench tidy

The most stressful part of cooking for me, really is the clean up. I hate it! So, I have a plastic bag on the bench where I throw all my rubbish, and I cook with the dishwasher open so I can turf stuff in there when I’m done using it. After I have chopped stuff up, I wash my board and give the bench a wipe. It’s actually really easy and saves sooo much cleaning up later on. In saying that, don’t sweat it too much. When I make something new and complicated, there’s mess and jars and stuff all over the place (including the odd bit of vegie peel on the floor). The trick is, don’t make stressful recipes or new things when you are short on time and patience. Be kind to yourself!

5. Remember that cooking is about love and generosity

Change your mnindset by thinking about cooking not as a chore, but as a way of showing your love for yourself and for your family. For me, my love for food stems from the satisfaction I get from having people together, in one place – enjoying each other’s company. What better way to do that then to share food? The other thing I love about cooking is the generosity of it – and the way you can be so creative and artistic all at the same time. But what is so special for me is that cooking is the way I open my heart to people – it’s the way I feel most comfortable in showing the people I care about just how much they mean to me. If the one thing you can do everyday to show the people close to you that you love them is to cook for them, then I think that’s great. It won’t always be met with a thank you – but when it comes to food, most people appreciate the effort. And, if you live alone and cook for one – think of it as your treat to yourself. I used to do that when I lived alone and could cook WHATEVER I liked, with no complaints 🙂 Fabulous!

Have a think about these tips and if you do nothing else – cook with music on. For me the two go hand in hand. Sometimes it’ll be Kings of Leon, other times Paramore – at the moment, it’s this awesome song by a great band called Stateless. It’s chilled, relaxing and very cool!

Now because I think music and cooking are a recipe for happiness, I’m going to share with you what I think are the most inspiring tracks when it comes to cooking in all my future posts!

But in the mean time, if you normally cook with music, what’s flicking through on your Ipod at the moment? Share your inspiring tunes in the comments section below!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

 

Happy Birthday Uforic Food!


Today is Uforic Food’s first birthday, and as you can see, it’s the start of something new!

As a birthday present, the blog has received a complete makeover! What do you think?

Personally, I love it! 🙂

Over the past 12 months I have learnt a whole lot about blogging. I have posted more than 100 times and have a bunch of dedicated followers, who I thank so much for joining the Uforic Food community and the journey so far.

In the last year you have watched me dish out 30 Recipes in 30 Days – which was an awesome challenge – as well as share countless stories about my love for food, how it has grown over time and some of my family’s secret recipes.

But knowing that this big milestone was approaching, I have taken the time to think about where Uforic Food is going.

I decided the most important thing to me is to inspire people to cook, despite the fact that life is busy and hectic and crazy and there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I want to help you be a success in the kitchen.

Uforic Food is all about fabulous flavour and simplicity wherever possible. Let’s have fun cooking, instead of it being a chore. They’ll be no whacky concepts or ingredients you can’t understand. I won’t write recipes that make you have to buy 10 different kinds of sauce that are only going to sit in the cupboard because you have no other use for them.

My aim is to help you feel confident about cooking and therefore it’s all about being creative. There is nothing more rewarding then being able to go to the fridge, freezer and pantry – see what you have and make something out of it – without a recipe to go by, simply because you understand what flavours work well together. That kind of knowledge is true inspiration – not reading and following a recipe to the letter.

The recipes I write here, and the ones that will be featured in the cook book I am now writing (very exciting!!), won’t be created with the expectation that you are going to follow them step by step, measuring everything accurately along the way.

They’re a guide, surrounded by lots of other tips, tricks and food knowledge – to inspire you to chop and change, add flavours you like and have fun with it. Make it your own!

Many people dread cooking, do it out of necessity and buy take-aways and pre-packaged stuff from the supermarket because cooking is just too overwhelming, time consuming and difficult. But, I promise you, sign up to the new-look Uforic Food and in no time you’ll be dancing around the kitchen, adding a dash of this and a dollop of that and having a fabulous time cooking meals for you and your family.

The Weekly Cook Up will continue on Fridays, which delivers recipes ideal for cooking when you have a little more time up your sleeve, but that are suitable for freezing in batches to be thawed and eaten during the week when life is crazy and you only have enough energy to dial for pizza. Trust me, the time you invest on a weekend to cook a few dishes for later in the week will become your saving grace, not only when it comes to time, but for your health, as well as your hip pocket.

On Saturday l’ll bring you some awesome tips on not only how to feed your hunger, but enrich your soul through cooking. It’s a post I’m really proud of and hope you check it out. They’ll even be music too!

But until then, why not use one of the trusty links above to share this with your friends on Twitter or Facebook. Think of it not only as a birthday gesture to Uforic Food, but a great way to inspire your friends.

Again, thank you for following me on my foodie journey so far … and if you’re new to Uforic Food, welcome and please feel free to look through all the recipes already on offer. I’m really looking forward to connecting with you 🙂

 

 

Lisa

 P.S I would like to also thank my dearest friend and technology guru AJ (follow him on Twitter @BLKMGK01 or visit his awesome site for cool young professionals here). I know we didn’t get to do everything we had planned – but that just means there’s even more excitement to come!

I would also like to thank Adcell Group for designing the awesome new header and the very stylish Uforic Food logo. I love it!

Nigella Lawson – whacky but wonderful


As you can guess from the title of this blog entry, I’m a bit of a fan of Nigella. In fact, she is my number one food hero.

She’s inspiring in the kitchen, doesn’t make you feel guilty for using tinned tomatoes or lemon juice out of a bottle – and always has a yummy short cut to make everyone’s lives just that much easier. What’s not to love?

However, Nigella has become famous for her overzealous use of adjectives and while it seems to annoy the hell out of some people – I find it extremely amusing!

Here are just a few examples of her wordiness, which I came across in just one episode of Nigella Kitchen:

On black olives in a bowl of spaghetti – “I just love how they look like teddy bear’s noses”.

Really? Not too sure that I can ever get a nose out of an olive – but each to their own, I guess.

On biscuit crumbs in a flan tin – “This case of golden crumbs looks like a fairytale crown”.

I think she has a slightly overactive imagination in this case:

And she really seems to have a liking for mini chorizo sausages referring to them as – “…my plumptious beauties”.

I’m not sure “plumptious” is even a word – but Nigella said it, so I guess it is now!!

Nigella may be a little crazy, but I respect the fact she takes a pan of pasta to bed (not even bothering to transfer it to a more manageable bowl) and that as she seductively opens her curtains in the morning, you get a glimpse of a jar of honey and a bottle of tobasco sauce on her bedside table! Now that’s dedication to food!

I’m always fascinated by her endless supply of crazy kitchen devices – not to mention the fact she has a whole entire trunk FULL of cookie cutters – in every shape and size you could ever imagine!

Some of her other devices include:

A brick covered in foil to hold down her quesadillas as they seductively sizzle on the griddle pan (like my attempt at using adjectives, Nigella style?).

A special ring pool opener – to ensure no manicure is harmed during the making of any meal.

The infamous rocking herb chopper – I always wanted one of these – and actually got one for Christmas. I haven’t used it yet – but I’m looking forward to pretending to be the voluptuous Nigella herself when I break it out for the first time.

A stand out Nigella quote for me would be this one – very inspirational, especially for those of us hell-bent on stacking on more flab around our waists:

“There are many eating opportunities in the world and I aim to celebrate as many of them as possible”.

I’m so with you on that one, sister!

And finally, I love how this woman is so down to earth, she even has her own spin on the old-school chip sandwich. In saying that, her version has a twist of lemon … very sophisticated!

“Get some flat bread, lay it out in front of you, slather it with some hommus and put a couple of handfuls of hot chips on top. Sprinkle with coarse salt, a squeeze of lemon, fold it into a package and apply to face “.

Crazy? Yes. Funny? Definitely. Delicious? Absolutely!

Whether you are a Nigella lover or hater – share some of the wordiest things you have heard her say, or the strangest implement you have seen her use in the comments section below. I know there is heaps more than the few I listed above!

P.S – Happy Birthday to my awesome dad, who provides endless inspiration for this blog, and spends so much of his time talking it up to all the customers at his fruit, vegetable and gourmet food store, Anglesea Fruitz (read more about this inspiring foodie heaven here). A girl couldn’t ask for a more amazing and supportive dad!! Love you so much!! XXX

The way to a man’s heart …


Are you superstitious? I have to admit, I am. I won’t walk under ladders, and I’ll never own a completely black cat … after all, the superstitions attached could be true, and, call me crazy, but I just don’t think the possible consequences are worth the risk!

 As far as being a romantic – well that’s me down to a tea too. I’m the kind of girl who always wanted to find the kind of love you read about in fiction or see in romantic movies – the kind of love where you can’t imagine a life without the person who makes up your other half. I know, it’s a cringe-worthy ideal for the non-romantic. But for me, it’s been a goal in life.

So when I read a blog about a very yummy sounding cake, with a very sweet story behind it, I thought I’d give it a try.  I published the recipe for said cake during my last blog post, and what can I say, I have been a very busy girl since!!! hence my lack of posting over the last two weeks or so.

The original cake was called Apple, Pecan and Date cake – but that name is no longer appropriate. It’s now called The Love Cake – and this is why.

I was blog surfing one day and came across the awesome blog called Root&Blossom, written by a lovely lady called Lena. She posted the recipe for this amazing cake, which I decided to try, and adapt slightly. This is what she wrote about this apple cake:

“It’s been over two years since I’ve made this cake! The last time I made this  I gave it to a boy for his birthday. That boy then proceeded to ask me out and then later married me. I always gave my mom a hard time about how this old family recipe ends with saying, “your hubby will love it!” But I guess I don’t have room to talk anymore, but I’m okay with that!” – Lena at Root&Blossom

Being both a romantic and lover of food – and knowing that my nearest and dearest has a sweet tooth and would love the caramel-like icing that covers this delicious dessert, I knew it was perfect! So, I made it – and said boyfriend couldn’t get enough of it!!

Something else totally amazing happened too …

Now I’m not saying the proposal was all down to the cake … but I’m sure it didn’t hinder the situation either!

Lena asked me in the comments section when I posted the recipe whether my boy liked it … I’d have to say YES!!!!!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

P.S For those of you who have been wondering about our My Kitchen Rules pursuit following the making of our audition video in March – we have some very exciting news. Ruza and I both got calls yesterday and are still being considered for the show! For confidentiality reasons, we aren’t allowed to say too much more – but we are super excited and just have to hope we make it further into the process and hopefully get picked!!! Wish us luck and thanks for all your support to date 🙂

The Weekly Cook Up: Australian fusion food


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rick Stein Food Odyssey Live On Stage

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

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

BAKED FUSION CHICKEN

Serves 6-8

Marinade:

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

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

Remaining ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Get your recipe published and spread the spirit of sharing


I’ve been thinking that Christmas is all about sharing – so I came up with this awesome idea! I was hoping you guys would get into the spirit of sharing too – by sending me your favourite recipe or food photo, or both – so that I can publish them – with your byline of course – on Uforic Food.

Not everyone has a food blog to share the things they like to cook – and so I’d be happy to help you get your favourite recipes out there! Even if you do have a blog – I’d love to be able to post your recipe and promote your site too. This blogging caper is all about getting our knowledge and thoughts out there, after all.

So, when you have a spare minute – why not pop into the kitchen, whip up that dish which most inspires you, photograph it and flick it to me in an email (see below for the address) – so that I can then share it with my lovely readers! It might be a recipe your mum taught you, something you ate in a restaurant and then re-created at home – or something you made up out of the ingredients you had left in the pantry or fridge that worked so well you now make it time and again. Or, maybe it’s a photograph you took of a meal you had at a restaurant or a friend’s house. Don’t forget to send me the story behind the photo – what you liked about the dish, the place where you ate it – that sort of thing.

Or, you could print out one of the recipes from The Inspiration Challenge – cook it, photograph it – and send it through!

My awesome friend AJ did just that … and sent this great photo:

Chicken and Bacon in a White Wine sauce, by AJ

 

He also made a very funny video to accompany it: View it here

Of course, my recipes are there to inspire you, they aren’t meant to be hard and fast rules – so feel free to mix them up, change them to suit you and let us all know why you like your version.

If you can’t remember the recipe from The Inspiration Challenge – here’s a reminder:

Day 1: Tandoori Chicken Risotto

Day 2: Chicken in a Bacon and White Wine Sauce

Day 3: Baked Barramundi with Tomato and Lemon

Day 4: Marinara Sauce

Day 5: Chicken Madras Curry

Day 6: Baked Potatoes – Darwin Style

Day 7: Choc Chip Cookies

Day 8: Pollo alla Cacciatora

Day 9: Leek and Potato Soup

Day 10: Slow Roasted Pork with Chorizo and Cannellini Beans

Day 11: Sobo Noodle Salad

Day 12: Stock

Day 13: Trio of Dips

Day 14: Greek-style Roast Lamb

Day 15: Lamb Ragu

Day 16: Steamed Baby Snapper with Asian Flavours

Day 17: Matt’s Meatlovers Pasta

Day 18: Leek and Chickpea Soup

Day 19: Preserved Lemons

Day 20: Mechoui (marinated lamb backstrap)

Day 21: Strawberries in Balsamic Vinegar

Day 22: Tomato Salad

Day 23: Mango, Ginger and Lime Cocktail

Day 24: Mussels in a white wine, bacon and garlic sauce with tomato

Day 25: Lamb Shanks

Day 26: Matchsticks

Day 27: Festive Turkey

Day 28: Perfect Roast Potatoes

Day 29: Garlic and Chilli Prawns

Day 30: Tagine Chicken

Wow, that’s one big list of recipes. I really hope that you share your recipes and photos – email them to me at lisa.foreman_media@yahoo.com.au and I’ll post them up. If you want to do it anonymously, that’s fine – just let me know when you email me.

Really excited about this – I have no doubt it’s going to be a very inspiring experience.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

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