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Scruptious corn – a side dish that sings!


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

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

Corn with tomato and chilli

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

Method

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

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

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

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

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

Check it out!

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Leek and chickpea soup


It’s so freezing outside that I thought I should share with you a soup recipe that has become one of my all-time favourites. I adore leeks and seeing as they are in season, now is an ideal time to whip this up. I really didn’t like the idea of chickpeas in soup at first – but although it only has a few ingredients, the flavour is amazing. I originally saw this made on a Jamie Oliver cooking show way back when. I’ve made it my own and no longer need the recipe to guide me. Everyone I have served it to has been impressed 🙂

So – introducing …

 Leek and Chickpea Soup

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 leeks
  • 3 desiree potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 cans of chickpeas, drained and well rinsed
  • 1.5 – 2 litres of chicken stock
  • Parmesan cheese (to serve, but optional)

Cut leeks down the middle, discarding the tough green part at the top, and clean thoroughly under running water. Chop fairly finely.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add leeks and a few good pinches of salt. The salt will not only add flavour, but allow the leeks to wilt, without colouring. This should take about five minutes over a medium heat – ensure you keep an eye on it and stir regularly.

Add the potatoes, along with the chickpeas and cook until heated through. Add stock at this point – enough to generously cover the mixture.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, or until potato cubes are tender.

Remove from heat and using a stick mixer (or blender), blitz the ingredients, but leave some chunky bits.

Blitzing ensures the soup is beautiful and creamy, but leaving some chunky bits of chickpea and leek means there is really nice texture too. However, feel free to blitz to a smooth consistency if that’s what you prefer.

Bring back to the simmer – now you can judge whether more stock needs to be added. Just add more until the texture is to your liking. Make sure you have a taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve drizzled with some olive oil and shavings of parmesan cheese.

This soup really is a meal in a bowl and also makes a fantastic lunch. You can freeze it too, if you want – but I find this one disappears out of the fridge pretty quickly!

My Groovy Kitchen Tunes track for this warm, nutty soup would have to be Dark Storm, by The Jezebels. Its title is reflective of our weather here in Victoria at the moment, but there’s something warming and hopeful about it at the same time. Curl up on the couch tonight in front of the TV, pop a blanket over you and enjoy this soup and just think, the weekend is nearly here!! Sounds like a perfect Wednesday night to me 🙂

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


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

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

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

And finally, the subject of today’s post:

BRUSSEL SPROUTS!

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

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

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

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

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

YUCK!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Infused oils – a fast track to flavour


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We all know that meals can be time intensive, and during the week – we need all the ideas we can to get dinner done quick. So, I have a great trick that’s going to cut down the time you spend with your chopping board.

Infusing oil with different flavours, including garlic, chilli, rosemary and even ginger – is a great way to add flavours to your salads, sauces and marinades without having to chop anything up. Perfect! This is a concept the express cooking queen, Nigella is very fond of.

You can buy infused oils at the supermarket, but why not do it yourself when the process really doesn’t take that long, expect for the need to leave the oil and your flavourings to steep for a week.

You can do different combinations, depending on what food you like.

In the case of garlic oil, place about 500ml of olive oil in a saucepan, over a low heat. While it warms, break up a bulb of garlic and hit the cloves with the flat part of your knife. This will break the cloves and allow them to release their flavour.

Once the oil is warm, but not hot, add the garlic to the oil and switch off the heat. It’s important not to over heat the oil, as it takes away its natural flavour.

Transfer the oil into a sterilised, dry jar and pop it in the fridge for a week. This will make the oil go thick and cloudy.

After a week, remove the jar from the fridge and allow the oil to come to room temperature.

Strain the garlic from the oil and place it in a sterilized jar or bottle with an air-tight lid. Store in a cool, dark place in the pantry and use when desired. Keep for up to two months.

This garlic oil is very basic, but you can add more flavours, like chilli. Just cut 4 whole green or red chillies in half, and add them to the oil at the same time as you add the garlic. You could also do herb infused oil.

Mix and match however you like – and you will be very pleased to not have to peel and finely diced garlic cloves when all you want to do is get a tasty meal on the table, fast!

Have you used infused oils before? What kind of flavour combinations have you found work well for you? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Creamy mashed potato – just how it should be


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

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

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

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

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

Creamy Mashed Potato

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

Method

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

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

 Uforic Food now has its very own Facebook page. Visit it here and don’t forget to ‘like’ us!

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

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 🙂 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

 

  • ½ 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.

 Frosting:

  • 1/2 a cup of butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ÂĽ tsp salt
  • 6 tbs of milk
  • 2 ½ 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~

Delicious Dal


I’m not really in to vegetarian food – but this dal is really something else. It’s filling, comforting and full of beautiful flavour and spice. You get all of this, and it’s quick and easy too.

Dal is the Indian word for pulses, as well as the finished dish. Chickpeas and other beans are also popular for this style of curry.

This dal is very mild – so if you like heat – add more chilli to taste.

RED LENTIL DAL

  • 3/4 cup of red lentils
  • 3 cups of water
  • 3 thick slices of ginger
  • 1/2 a tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tbs of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 a tsp of whole grain mustard
  • 1 tsp of ground cummin
  • 1 tbs of coriander root, finely shopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 of a cup of coriander, roughly chopped

Method

Put the lentils, ginger, turmeric and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the lentils are tender. Stir occasionally to ensure they don’t stick.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan add the onion, garlic, mustard and a good pinch of salt and pepper and cook over a medium heat for five minutes. Add the cummin, coriander root and chilli and cook for two minutes.

Add the cooked lentils to the frying pan and stir through. Add a little more water at this point, if the mixture is looking dry. It should be like a thick soup.

Reduce the heat, simmering gently for 5 minutes, then add the lemon juice and fresh coriander. Serve with some nice naan bread or pappadums.

This makes a lovely lunch dish. I take it to work and have it with a nice dollop of natural yogurt. It also freezes nicely too.

Enjoy~

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 

Baba ghanouj – Eggplant dip


Eggplant is in season and so it’s time to start thinking of some creative ways of serving it.

A lot of people don’t really like eggplant, or aubergine as it is known is some places, all that much. I used to be one of them. It can be bitter if not treated to a nice sprinkling of sea salt, and if you under-cook it, it’s gonna have a funny, squeaky texture.

How do I like it best? Well, while I do love it in curries because its spongy flesh really soaks up all the flavours – You can’t go past it in a dip known as Baba ghanouj.

It is an Arab dish and in some parts is served as an appetizer while in others they like it as a side-dish or salad.

With eggplants plentiful, why not give this recipe a go. This one is inspired by SBS Food Safari – the Lebanese episode. It’s creamy, delicious and very good for you!

Baba Ghanoush

 

  • 2-3 medium sized eggplant
  • 1½ tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika

Method:

Grill whole eggplant over a gas flame, turning with tongs until the skin is evenly toasted. Soak in cold water for about 10 min to cool.

When cool, completely peel the eggplants and drain for 15-20 min. Place into a food processor with tahini, lemon, garlic and salt and process again until well combined and creamy.

Place the mixture in a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a little paprika.

The recipe suggested finishing at the end with a chopped tomato and some parsley. Feel free to add it if you have it on hand.

Remember to also taste the dip before you serve it – the lemon, salt and tahini may need tweaking to suit your tastes.

I’ve also had some trouble in the past actually finding tahini. I always find it in the health food section at the supermarket. I’m sure you can get it from health food shops too. It’s basically a sesame seed paste – very strong in flavour – but very yummy 🙂

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Cous cous – Perry style


Today, I am feeling nervous and excited – because today is the day one of my Christmas presents comes to fruition – to have a cooking masterclass with one of the Geelong region’s best chefs. I am sooo excited to be cooking lobster, oysters and mud crab. Not only that, but I’ll get to eat the food, with matching wines, as well. It’s going to be the most incredible experience. I can’t wait!

In the coming days I’ll be blogging about the experience, everything I learned, and I’ll be taking some photos too! Hope I can make the food taste wonderful and look sexy. I’d be mortified if I burn something, or chop my finger off!!

But, in the meantime, here’s a recipe from another great Masterchef – Neil Perry.

Cous cous is one of those things I am just soooo happy I discovered.

I was always a bit scared of it, for some reason. It looked complicated to make. Not only that, it looks like sand on a plate. Not exactly appetising.

However, when my brother gave me a Neil Perry cookbook a few years ago, I was flicking through and he had a really simple way of preparing it. I thought, if Neil reckons it’s a good idea – so do I.

So, this is how Neil does basic cous cous – it’s a great accompaniment with stews and casseroles. I mean I am a rice girl at heart – but cous cous is right up there for me.

Cous Cous – Perry style

  • 100gm of butter
  • 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
  • 400ml of boiling water
  • 2 1/4 cups of cous cous

Method:

Combine the butter olive oil and boiling water in a large mixing bowl. Once the butter has melted in the water, while stirring – add the cous cous. Leave until the cous cous has absorbed the liquid, then fluff it gently with a fork.

Put the cous cous in a steamer, which you’ve lined with a clean tea towel. Put over a saucepan of fast-boiling water and steam for 20 minutes.

This makes enough cous cous to serve 4 to 6 people. But – here’s a very important tip. Use a white, or light-coloured tea towel. I once used a blue one, and it turned the cous cous blue! Needless to say, I had to throw it away. You can also use some muslin cloth, if you have it handy.

This is a good base recipe to add other flavours. So, get creative.

Be back soon to blog about the Masterclass. Woo hoo!!

Be Inspired – because I know I will be!

Lisa~

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