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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

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

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

The Weekly Cook Up – Braised pork chops with apple and cabbage


Apple, cabbage and pork are all best friends and so I thought, why not put them together in a braise?

The result? Clean, beautiful flavours and an all-round comforting meal. It’s easy to eat – therefore making it an ideal dish for a house full of sick people. I’m the only one feeling 100% – everyone else is carrying a head-cold and terrible cough. So, I wanted to cook up something that would sooth their throats and warm their tummies without anything too overwhelming – like the usual punchy spices you normally find in my comfort food.

I worked in my brother’s shop last weekend and the cabbages all looked gorgeously inspiring on display – so much so that I really wanted to make them a feature of a recipe. I had some pork loin chops in the freezer which needed using up – and I had been pondering for a while what to do with them. As I was staking the apples gently on the shelf, I knew the three would be a tasty match. It’s nice for me to have this knowledge of what flavours work – it really makes me confident to experiment and create my own dishes.

The apples give sweetness, mellowed by the cabbage, onions and leek – the chicken stock adds depth and the vinegar and red current jelly add a really nice complexity to the flavours.

The delicate flavours would probably something you could put in front of your children – but because I am without little tackers myself, I haven’t road-tested it on any.

It also freezes well – so I made sure there was enough to make a meal for my dad. My dad doesn’t cook, so I make meals and freeze them for him so he doesn’t have to rely on expensive take-away and horrid pre-made supermarket food. Hopefully this makes me a nice daughter 🙂

BRAISED PORK WITH APPLE AND CABBAGE 

 

  • 2 tbs of butter
  • 1 tbs of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely shopped
  • 1 leek, cut down the middle, wash and finely slice into half moons
  • 5 tbs of white vinegar
  • 4 tbs of red current jelly
  • 6 large pork loin chops
  • 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 a tsp of dried fennel (or you can use fresh, if you have it)
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
  • Half a chinese cabbage, remove the tough white bits and chop across, from top to bottom, discarding the tough, white bit at the bottom
  • 1 large granny smith apple (or 2 small) peeled, cored and cut into segments
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

In a large, heavy-based casserole dish (which has a lid and is able to be used both in the oven and on a stove) heat the butter and oil gently over a medium flame. Add the onion and a few good pinches of salt and sweat for 2 minutes.

Add the leek, vinegar and red current jelly and cook for a further 4 minutes, until it’s nice and soft – but don’t let it gain any colour.

Lay out your pork chops on a chopping board or plate and season both sides with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

In a frying pan, over a medium to high heat, add some more olive oil and fry the chops in batches to brown them. Make sure the fat layer is on, and turn them on their side to brown up the fat. This is critical as this process enhances the flavour of the pork.

Once done, pop them into the casserole dish with the onion and leek mixture.

Add the stock, cabbage, fennel and potatoes to the casserole and stir. Poke the pork until it’s all mostly covered in the stock (feel free to add a little more, if the tide looks a little bit low).

Bring it to the boil on top of the stove. Once boiling gently, pop on the casserole lid and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add the apple segments and check the sauce for seasoning – adjust to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook for a further 30 to 45 minutes, or until the chops are tender and the apple and potatoes are cooked through.

To plate up, I used shallow bowls as the liquid is really soupy. I removed the fat strip from the pork and discarded it, along with the bone, and cut the meat into strips. Ladel the sauce, making sure everyone (this serves 4) get some apple, cabbage and potato. I then topped the soup broth with the pork meat and some sauted brocollini.

The reason I have started writing this column is because I am hoping to inspire busy people like you to set some time aside in the kitchen on the weekend to prepare at least one meal ahead for the week. I hope this recipe has helped you on your way to a much more relaxed weekday meal. Even if you decide not to freeze it for later in the week – it’d make a fabulous Sunday dinner, which is what this was for me.

Be Insired~

Lisa

 

Something light for hump day – avo, tomato and fetta salad


Welcome to Wednesday! By this stage we are immersed in the week and lots of us can’t be bothered cooking something complicated.

What do you like to cook mid-week? Do you have a go-to recipe which you call on when things are getting a little overwhelming? If you do have one, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below.

If you don’t have a recipe or two that you call on when you’re busy and fall back to take-aways or pre-made food – then this week I challenge you to find a recipe that you can whip up in 30 minutes or less. It’ll make life less stressful, be healthier for you and your family, and be so much kinder to your hip pocket.

I think mid-week is a time to have something quick, easy, light, but most of all – yummy.

This salad is ideal, and can be served with some simply grilled chicken. Put 3 chicken breasts, which you have cut into strips, into a bowl along with 2 crushed cloves of garlic, the zest and juice of half a lemon and some dried oregano and a good amount of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss to coat the chicken and cook in a hot frying pan or on a griddle pan, if you have one, until golden and cooked through.

But before you do that, whip up the salad:

AVOCADO, TOMATO AND FETTA SALAD

  • 2 handfuls of mixed lettuce leaves
  • 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 lebanese cucumber
  • 150gms of green, pitted olives
  • 1/3 of a cup of diced, soft fetta
  • 1 large avocado
  • 3 tbs of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs of olive oil (extra virgin, if you have it)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Wash and dry the lettuce leaves and put into a large serving bowl.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add to the bowl.

Cut the lebanese cucumber lengthways and deseed using a spoon. The seeds are really watery and bitter. Chop the cucumer thinly and add to your bowl.

Add the diced fetta and olives and toss everything together.

Once you are ready to serve, drizzle over the balsamic, olive oil and salt and pepper and toss gently.

Cut the avocado in half. Remove the nut in the middle by tapping it with your knife and turn it. It should some away from the flesh. Use a teaspoon to scoop out segments and put them on top of the salad.

Divide the salad between four plates, and top it with the grilled chicken, as described above, or whatever other meat you like. This makes the salad a really nice, refreshing meal.

Be Inspired~

Lisa 

Pizza dough made easy


That’s right people – you can make pizza dough without the hassle and it tastes amazing!! This is a recipe for the kind of person who would love to be cool enough to make their own pizza dough rather than using that sub-standard, pre-made rubbish – but is too scared to give it a try.

I was really nervous about this recipe – for two reasons. Firstly, I have never made pizza dough before and I thought a short-cut version without yeast and all the laborious processes that come with it probably wouldn’t work out that well. Secondly – pizza is Matt’s favourite food and if I buggered it up – I would ruin the weekly joy that is pizza night. That would mean that Matt would be sad … and that would be bad!!

Luckily, he was totally thrilled with the result – kindly announcing that I could make pizza, from scratch, for him every week! Lucky for me, it’s easy enough to do that I won’t mind whipping this up for him – making me a very nice girlfriend. YAY!

I must credit Gary and his blog roast potato for the inspiration behind this recipe. I subscribe to his blog and it’s fabulous – so you should check it out. Gary got this from Jamie Oliver’s 30-Minute Meals book – which is all about a “Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast”.

Now, it did not take me 30 minutes to make this pizza. It did take a little longer. But, with practice, I reckon I could do it … easy 🙂 That’s what you want in a weekday meal! Once you make the base, you can put whatever you like on it. I liked what Gary popped on his, as per Jamie’s instructions – but I changed a few things. You’ll also noticed that the cooking method for this pizza is a little different – partly cooked in a frying pan before being put in the oven. I was skeptical – but it worked!

I’m sure this is one meal you won’t have to fight with your kids over – get them involved, ask them what they want on it and let them help with putting the toppings on. They can also help by grating the cheese (depending on age), or maybe you can even get them to chop up some of the ingredients. I know kids and knives are dangerous, but as long as they are the right age, and you watch them and guide them the whole way, they’ll be so happy you gave them such a big responsibility.

PIZZA OF CHORIZO AND BABY BOCCONCINI

The pizza dough:

  • 1 1/2 mugs of self-raising flour
  • 1/2 a mug of tepid water
  • two good pinches of salt
  • 1 tbs of olive oil

Pizza sauce

  • 1/2 a can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp of basil pesto
  • A good pinch of paprika
  • 1 clove of garlic

Pizza toppings (or you can put on whatever you like)

  • 1 chorizo sausage, cut into rounds
  • 2 rashers of middle bacon, cut into strips
  • 7 balls of bocconcini cheese, cut in half (this cheese is baby mozzarella
  • A light sprinkling of dried oregano

Method:

Chop up all the ingredients for your pizza topping and have them in piles, ready to go. In a frying pan, cook the bacon and chorizo over a medium heat with some olive oil until they get a little colour. Set aside.

At this point – turn on your grill to preheat for later.

In a food processor, put the flour, olive oil and salt and then start the motor running. Add the water slowly, until it forms into a dough ball. I needed a little extra water then suggested to make this happen. All flour is different, which is why it is important to add it slowly, as you may actually need less water.

Lightly scatter some flour on your bench and then tip the dough out (the flour will stop it sticking to your table). Lightly knead the dough into a ball, and then roll out into a pizza shape. I rolled it to a nice thickness (you don’t want it to be too thick, because it will puff up when cooking), and then cut around the edges so that it would fit the frying pan that I have. You’ll need to pick your biggest frying pan. For me, this was a non-stick one – so I heated it to quite a high heat, and then added enough olive oil to cover the bottom and stop the dough from sticking.

But before you put the dough in the frying pan, it’s time to make the sauce.

Add all the ingredients for the pizza sauce to the food processor and whiz it until it’s a nice, smooth sauce. Set aside. (it is worth making the sauce and not using a pre-made one. This is just delicious!)

Now that you have everything ready to go, it’s time to put the dough in the frying pan. Make sure the pan is hot, but not smoking and that you have a thin layer of olive oil, to prevent sticking. Carefully lay the dough in the pan, and then smother the base with the sauce. You may have some leftover, which is fine. You don’t want it to be too wet.

Now for the toppings. Add the bacon and chorizo, sprinkle with oregano and some salt and freshly ground black pepper, and then dot the pizza with the bocconcini. Check the pizza base, using a spatula. Once it’s golden – it’s time to pop it under the grill. Make sure your frying pan can go under the grill (if it has plastic handles, the answer would be no). If it can’t, slide the pizza onto a pizza or baking tray – and then grill until the cheese is nice and melted and the edges of the pizza base are nice and crispy.

I know it’s a rather long instruction list and there’s a bit to do. I was a bit overwhelmed and so have tried to tell you how to do it in the easiest order possible. But, I know the next time I make this, it’s going to be sooo much easier, and quicker. If you can master this, you’ll be set! Mess around with the toppings and have fun with it!

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 – but 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 🙂

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 – minus the stress!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

%d bloggers like this: