Category Archives: February

Monday night dinner, fast and fresh

These are the kind of dinners I like to cook. You know the ones? It’s Monday night. Fridge is near empty after the weekend. Too tired to go shopping. What to cook? Enter Minced chicken with Thai basil. And it’s low-fat!

It turns out my fridge was emptier than I first thought. The basil I had bought on the weekend had seen better days so I substituted it for some of that herb in a tube stuff. No harm done. The lettuce I bought seemed to be flood affected and was in no way going to form the perfect little cups it was supposed to (a la san choy bow style). So in the end I formed a kind of warm salad.

Minced chicken with Thai basil

Minced chicken with Thai basil

The lettuce is a crucial ingredient, don’t be tempted to replace it or leave it out. The combination of fish sauce, oyster sauce and kecap manis makes the mix really salty and the lettuce somehow cuts through that. It also benefits from the addition of the (optional) jasmine rice. I stirred it through the chicken mince mixture which helped bulk out the meal.

Of all people, B4 proclaimed dinner “yum”. I was shocked as he is always the first to complain when there is visible green things in his dinner (in this case, thinly slice kaffir lime leaves). He must have been hungry!

This is a cheap, quick, family friendly meal. Try it.

X Bree

 

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Filed under February, low fat, Monday night

A delicious breakfast

I am so thankful to have such a wonderfully supportive family.

When I first toyed with the idea of starting a blog, they were the ones who encouraged me to take a leap of faith, providing me with the confidence I needed to get started.

However, when my older sister asked me to cater her boardroom breakfast last Friday morning, my initial gut reaction was to say “no”. But if there is one thing I have learnt since starting this blog, it is that every time I post something here I am forcing myself out of my comfort zone. And that is why I actually said “yes”!

For the purposes of keeping it simple but still delicious, I ventured a little bit outside of “February” in order to come up with my menu. Please forgive me for breaking “the rules”.

A Delicious Breakfast

A Delicious Breakfast

Here it  is :

I spent Thursday shopping and preparing for Friday morning. The omelette’s and fruit salad I would need to make fresh on Friday morning before delivery, however the rest I made in advance.

This was the first time I had cooked rhubarb. I was a little bit nervous. I found that the rhubarb needed to be cooked twice as long as what the recipe said. In the end, it didn’t hold its shape well, but it was sweet and cinnamony with a jammy consistency. Allowing the flavours to infuse overnight certainly didn’t do any harm. 

The bircher muesli was simple. Combine the oats with the freshly squeezed oj. Add the yoghurt and grated apple in the morning and spoon into the jam jars. I cannot believe how creamy and lush the end result was, with only the use of greek yoghurt. It tasted far naughtier! As for the sweet dukkah. Yum! Yum! Yum! I still have a little secret stash and have been trying to find excuses to sprinkle it on everything! You must try it. Even if you don’t make the bircher muesli. Sprinkle it on yoghurt, fresh fruit, poached fruit. Put a spoonful onto sweet muffins before you bake them. Whatever you can find. It is just so yummy. This will become a staple in my pantry.

For the fruit salad I just went out and bought the best seasonal fruit I could find – green grapes, red paw paw, raspberries, blueberries, passionfruit, pineapple, yellow nectarines, bananas, freshly squeezed orange juice. The result? Summer in a cup. I served it with more of the plain greek yoghurt and of course, sweet dukkah. The secret was to select perfectly ripe fruit. I am one of those weird people who sniff my fruit before I buy it. It has to have the smell of what you’re buying. If it doesn’t, don’t bother.

Ginger and almond slice

Ginger and almond slice

The ginger and almond slice was very easy. Except…I am currently without a mixer. My last one smoked up before Christmas and since then I have been avoiding all recipes that include “cream butter and sugar”. I don’t know what I was thinking when I emailed the confirmed menu through to my sister, but once I read the recipe properly and saw those four words “cream butter and sugar”, I panicked! So with nothing to lose (I had all the ingredients and I wasn’t about to change recipes) I made it in my food processor with the pastry blade. Surprise, surprise it turned out great. It rose like it should. It browned like it should. It tasted oh so good. Chewy, gingery goodness.

I can’t remember the last time I voluntarily got up at 4:30am in the morning. In actual fact I was awake at 3:30am! I was excited and nervous. I was about to cook something I had never cooked before for eight strangers. That’s how much confidence I had in the recipes in delicious. magazine.

I cooked the individual potato and chive omelette in muffin pans which meant they cooked quickly but would still be warm when I got to the venue. I sliced all the fruit and placed it in a bowl, ready for gentle tossing when I arrived.

Individual potato and chive breakfast omelette served with smoked salmon and crème fraiche

Individual potato and chive breakfast omelette served with smoked salmon and crème fraiche

In some kind of miracle I packed my esky, without actually forgetting anything, and headed off to Chelmer at 6:00am.

When I arrived I quickly assembled everything and presented it on the boardroom table, leaving quickly before all the guests arrived.

Success!

If there is one thing I learned out of this exercise it is to push myself more often this year. Say yes more often. When my gut says no (because it could be too hard or because I might fail or embarrass myself), say yes and just do my best. Because my best can be good enough!

X Bree

What is your favourite special breakfast recipe?

When was the last time you forced yourself out of your comfort zone and achieved success?

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Filed under February, ground rules

When one little thing ruins a perfectly good plan

Hello friends,

It’s funny how one little thing can ruin a perfectly good plan.

There I was on Wednesday, all ready to make the February 2010 cover recipe, Bill Granger’s cumin-spiced lamb with fresh mango chutney, for dinner. I’d carefully chopped the green chilli, ginger and garlic as finely as I could. I’d measured out the garam masala and turmeric and squeezed the lime juice. I mixed it all together to make a delicious marinade. So far so good.

Off to the fridge I went to get out my lamb cutlets. When I opened the plastic, I knew straight away – rotten!! Now I don’t know about you, but lamb cutlets are a luxury in my house. My kids love them! But with a $30/kg + price tag, they are a rarity. I was foul! Furious!

In a frenzy I rummaged through my handbag to find the receipt. Having only bought them on Monday, I was hoping that for one time in my life I had somehow kept it. Yes! Next, a phone call to the store manager to voice my anger and request a refund or return. No problem she says. Just bring it back as soon as you can. Next, a quick phone call to Mr Picky Palette and a plea to him to visit the big red supermarket chain and replace them for me. Yes dear.

By now, it was too late. B2 and B4’s dinner cries were reaching a crescendo! What to do? So I bailed on the idea of cooking the lamb cutlets as planned. I was out of time and out of lamb! Dinner was saved by a frozen salmon fillet and a few salad items hiding in the fridge. Kids were fed! Phew…

Mr Picky Palette arrived home soon after. Replacement lamb cutlets were put in the freezer to be served another day.

X Bree

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Dinner and dessert: a day of cooking highs and lows

It was a usual kind of Tuesday. In the morning, B2 and B4 took a drive with me to visit my mum. We came home mid afternoon so I could begin dinner preparations.

Recipe number two is Smoked salmon & pea risoni with coriander mojo. 

delicious. magazine Feb 2007: Issue 57, p 80

Smoked salmon & pea risoni with coriander mojo

Smoked salmon & pea risoni with coriander mojo

Now for a confession. Back in 2007 I actually made this recipe. At the time it ticked all the boxes, so I was happy to be able to make it again under the excuse of my delicious year.

It’s not a cheap meal, as anyone who lingers over the hot and cold smoked salmon section of the supermarket hoping for specials and mark-downs, will know. I actually paid $9.99 for 150g of hot smoked salmon. The recipe called for two 175g portions. I ended up buying two 150g portions (costing $19.98 – don’t tell Mr Picky Palette!) and it was plenty.

The highs? It was delicious! As delicious as I remember it being. Serve it at room temperature. It has that delicious zing that the combination of garlic, lemon, fresh herbs and chilli give a dish. Mr Picky Palette announced he wanted more (his way of complimenting me), but I reminded him of his comment to me when I started this blog “I better not get fat while you do this!” You won’t if you don’t have seconds dear. It also made a lot of food. The recipe serves 4 – 6 but that is 4 – 6 good size serves. Yay for leftovers!

The lows? Sitting on the floor spoon-feeding B2 and B4 whilst bribing them with the promise of being able to watch ABC3 as I shoved each mouthful into them. Initially, upon seeing what was for dinner, B4 ran screaming from the room yelling “I’m never eating dinner ever, ever, ever again!” (as you do when you’re 4 and your mother serves you green stuff). B2’s initial response was more promising “Mmmm yummy prawns”. Yep, not prawns mate! He then proceeded to NOT eat it until I sat him on my lap and clapped like a crazed woman every time he took a small mouthful. Yay! That lasted for two spoonfuls. Not yay!

So grownups, if you like hot smoked salmon, you like coriander, you like pasta, you like a quick dinner, make it! Thanks to the interweb thingo, you can find the recipe here.

I’ll save the highs and lows of dessert for another time…

X Bree

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Getting fishy with Rick Stein

When you think Rick Stein, you automatically think seafood. He really is the godfather of seafood in my eyes.

Ever since I developed my passion for all things food, Rick Stein has been a big part of this love affair. A kind of foodie crush, but not in a kissy kissy kind of way. More like a relationship of respect for his ability to cook something just plucked from the ocean and transform it into something delicious with a few simple ingredients.

So recipe number one (drum roll please) is Chargrilled snapper with mango, prawn & chilli salsa. Yum right? Well here is where it all went wrong…

  1. Usually excellent local fishmonger didn’t have the delicious snapper with skin-on that I was looking for. Very average alternative fish selected. My mistake!
  2. I should have known right from the start that Mr Picky Palette would protest eating a meal that included both sweet (mango) and savoury (avocado). In principle, in my opinion, this would be a fabulous pairing, especially with the inclusion of chilli (we are big fans!). However, my mistake was selecting a rather average mango. Had it been one of those luscious, juicy, ripe ones that they use in those large supermarket chain ads proclaiming “we’re the freshest supermarket in the whole world” then it would have transformed the dish into that beautiful combination of sweet and savoury that actually works. Needless to say, Mr Picky Palette’s feedback on this recipe is not printable! It went along the lines of “don’t ever make that again”.

The salsa recipe calls for cooked green prawns. Huh? Don’t ya just mean cooked prawns? Anyway, I bought green prawns and cooked them in a good knob of butter and a pinch of salt and they were a delicious addition to the salsa. You could easily just buy your prawns cooked and slice them thickly.

In summary, this is a simple, quick and healthy recipe which I will definately attempt again with a few minor adjustments and more chilli!

Chargrilled snapper with a mango, prawn & chilli salsa

Chargrilled snapper with a mango, prawn & chilli salsa

Chargrilled snapper with a mango, prawn & chilli salsa

delicious. magazine Jan/Feb 2002: Issue 2, p 62

Serves 4

4 x 175g pieces of uncooked snapper fillet*

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Coriander sprigs, to garnish

Salsa

2 large medium-hot red chillies

100g peeled, cooked green prawns, thickly sliced

4 spring onions, thinly sliced

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

1 ripe but firm avocado, peeled, cut into small dice

1/2 ripe but firm mango, peeled, cut into small dice

Juice of 1 lime

A pinch of salt

If you are using a barbecue, light it 30-40 minutes before you want to cook the fish. For the salsa, cut the chillies in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds with teh tip of a small knife but leave the ribs behind to give the salsa a little more heat. Cut them crossways into thin slices. Then simply mix all the ingredients together.

If you are not cooking the fish on a barbeque, put chargill over a high heat or preheat the grill to high. Brush the snapper fillets on both sides with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Cut each into 3, slightly on the diagonal.

Cook snapper either skin-side down on barbeque, or skin-side up under grill, for 3-4 minutes.

T0 serve, spoon salsa on to 4 plates and arrange the strips of fish on top. Drizzle a little oil around the edge of the plate and garnish with coriander.

* Alternative fish: Red or grey mullet, bream, John Dory

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And so it begins with a goodbye…

 

My collection of twelve "February's", ready for my first month of delicious cooking

My collection of twelve “February’s”, ready for my first month of delicious cooking

Today I farewelled Jamie and Donna, Bill and Kylie, David, Madhur and Thomasina, and a whole bunch of ‘old friends’ to make room for my delicious year. That’s right. I’ve packed up my rather large recipe book collection to make room for the 123 issues of delicious. magazine that have been lying low in my garage for the past 11 years.

I have set myself a very serious foodie challenge for 2013: 365 days of delicious cooking from my delicious. magazine collection. But as with all random/crazy/ “what was I thinking” challenges, I have set myself some ground rules:

  1. Every cover recipe must be cooked (No exceptions. Even if it involves eggplant…ugghh!)
  2. I must attempt one recipe a day. I’m a realist – I won’t be cooking three course brekky’s when my kids are very happy eating cereal and toast. But if I spy a yummy brekky recipe, it shall be cooked, and you shall hear all about it.
  3. As new issues arrive, they too shall be cooked from.

In order to keep it seasonal and relevant, I will be collating my magazine collection by month and cook from all the February’s in February, March’s in March and so on. Given that most of the issues include a December/ January combined issue I will feature the Christmas-type recipes in December and save the rest for January. Now there is something to look forward to.

Now to keep things interesting, I will include a food rating from the most feared food critic in Australia. No, not Matt Preston, but my dear husband, Mr Picky Pallete (MPP). From time to time I will also include an out-of-the-mouth-of-babes score from my two darling sons to be known as B2 and B4. As most parents know, kids are hard to please. And its even harder to get kids to try new things.

Are you with me?

I hope that along the way I might inspire you to try out a recipe or two or dust off your old recipe collection that has been sitting idle for a decade or more. If nothing else, I hope I either make you drool while you are reading this or have you banging at my door (or filling up my inbox) with demands for dinner invitations.

Let the games begin.

Stayed tuned for recipe number one – an encounter with a foodie crush of mine, Rick Stein. We all know what that means…seafood!!!

X Bree

Who is your favourite chef – celebrity or other?

What is the one cookbook that has been sitting on your shelf gathering dust that that you might try to cook from this week?

Four 46L containers no securely hold my significant cookbook collection. See you in 12 months!

Four 46L containers now securely hold my significant cookbook collection. See you in 12 months!

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15/01/2013 · 9:38 am