Monday 29 April 2013

Banana Cake with Orange & Maple Sauce

I had my grandparents come for lunch on Easter Sunday. I roasted a chicken on the weber, which was less than successful. I timed it as suggested in the book but it was not cooked. So we jointed the chicken and put the pieces back in the weber. However since it had already cooked for quite some time I really should have replaced the foil as after a while it caught fire! I did get the chicken out and put the fire out but it was a bit exciting and gave a rather smoky flavour to the chicken. It wasn't a bad flavour but it wasn't exactly what I was going for.

For dessert I made this Banana Cake with Orange & Maple Sauce. It was very good.  I poured the sauce over the cake in the tin and let it soak in. I made custard in my thermomix for the first time to go with it. My grandmother was impressed, it was the first time she had seem the thermomix in action. It was awesome custard too. 


70 g sugar
50 g flour
2 eggs
500 g milk 
1 tsp vanilla 

Sugar & flour - 20 sec/sp 9
Add remaining ingredients 7 min/90 C/sp 4


Thursday 25 April 2013

Saffron & zucchini risotto with prawns

I made this for Good Friday, so quite some time ago now. I have been cooking quite a bit lately but just haven't been writing up the posts.  Things have been rather stressful lately both personally and at work and, to be honest, the last things I have really felt like doing is coming home and writing up blog posts. However I am on holidays at the moment so at least one part of the stress has eased and I hope to get some of the back log of posts up.

I have no religious affiliation so there really isn't any need for the seafood on Good Friday thing but even so it was a way of getting me to eat some seafood. Although I will admit that it wasn't really much in the way for seafood. I found the recipe for over on, although I didn't really follow it that much. Well, I did sort of but I didn't do the prawns as suggested. I just gave them a quick fry off rather than worrying about the rest. Yes, lazy I know.

I made the risotto in the thermomix. I am finding that I am starting to use it more now than I have previously. Although I am sure there are still plenty of things that I am doing by hand that I could use the thermomix to do. I am sure I will get the hang of using it more and more. I followed the basic risotto recipe that I did before and it turned out beautifully. 

It was all very nice but I am not sure that I would make it again. I like the colour that saffron gives to food but I am not overly fond of the taste and since zucchini has little taste of its own I think that I would have to add something with a bit more zing. Although I suppose that is what the prawns were supposed to do. Oh well, I made it and I can move on to something else seafood.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Delicious April 2013 - Warm Moroccan Carrot Salad

So, I really struggled to find something to make from this issue. There really wasn't anything that jumped out and grabbed me. No, that isn't exactly true, there just wasn't a lot that grabbed me enough to insisted that I make it immediately.

The chocolate & halva tiramisu on the cover looks really good but I don't have anywhere to buy halva. I know that I could probably make it but since I am trying to avoid too much in the way of sweets I decided that it wasn't really worth it. Plus I find it difficult to scale down tiramisu recipes much for some reason. 

I also marked the Fish kofta with eggplant salad as a possibility. It sounded like something different and a bit unusual. The eggplant was roasted and combined with tomato, red onion, herbs, a lemon & olive oil dressing plus pomegranate seeds and pomegranate molasses. I love roasted eggplant. I don't have a gas cook top so cannot blacken the skin over that but I recently purchased a weber bbq so could definitely do it on that and get that smoky flavour to it. The salad has fresh coriander, parsley and mint. If you have been reading for a while you will know how I feel about coriander. I have used small amounts recently and I would probably put a small amount in this and increase the parsley to compensate. Again if you have been reading for a while you will know how I feel about fish too. I am on a bit of a mission to get more into my diet since it is so very good for you. I do like salmon and it is full of the omega 3's that are good for you but it would be nice to increase the repertoire a bit. I will get around to making this but I need to wait for a time when I can get some good fish. 

I really wanted to make Jamie Oliver's Pork Belly Buns however it was part of his "Party Pleasers" feature which meant that the recipe serves 20. That is a massive amount of servings. When you have a recipe like that scaling it back too far just doesn't work. I did think about just halving it and freezing any leftovers for later use but sometimes I have a tendency to forget about leftovers in the freezer until they get to a point of not being edible any more. So unless I have friends over then this recipe will just have to remain unmade. 

I did have a recipe for Jerk Chicken with Red Onion Flatbread marked to make. I did in fact make the jerk chicken but I was too lazy to make the flatbread. The recipe did suggest that if you didn't want to make the flatbread you could just use bought naan but I didn't get to the supermarket to buy that either. The chicken was good, although I did find the actual flavours rather overwhelming. However that could have been my fault since the recipe recommends marinading for 4 hours or overnight and, through circumstances, mine ended up marinading for 2 nights. So I am sure that would have had an effect on the intensity of the flavour. I am sure that if I had cooked it after the first night it wouldn't have been so strong. I had previously made Jamie Oliver's jerk pork belly that I loved and it was nowhere near as strong so perhaps I will give the chicken another try at some stage. 

I ended up making the Warm Moroccan Carrot Salad from Kepos Street Kitchen. I did make a few alterations to the recipe though. The original recipe called for 2 bunches of dutch carrots. I didn't have them. Purchasing at the supermarket is not an option as they are always soft and floppy, clearly beyond their best. I have never found them at our local markets either. I haven't grown any carrots for a while now so perhaps I will get some in the garden this year. So instead I used a couple of regular carrots and added some zucchini as well. I didn't have any fresh green chillis nor did I have any fresh red chillis so I used a bit of chilli paste. I didn't have, and don't really like, goat's cheese so I used feta cheese instead. I really enjoyed this a lot. It was so full of flavour and it went really well with the bbq Moroccan lamb flaps (belly/ribs) that I made that night. Well, I say made but I really should say cooked the pre-rubbed flaps that I got from my local butcher but so much flavour that I will definitely get them again. 

Warm Moroccan Carrot & Zucchini Salad

2 carrots, peeled (if needed) and cut into batons, 
2 zucchini, cut into batons 
olive oil 
1 tsp chilli paste (or to taste) 
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp honey (I just poured some in) 
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sumac (I don't have a very good one at the moment so used more) 
crumbed feta

Blanch carrots and zucchini until just starting to soften. Heat oil in pan and add carrots and zucchini and toss until coated. Add chilli paste and garlic and toss until fragrant. Add honey and cook until starting to caramelise and then season. Cool slightly and serve topped with crumbled feta. 

Monday 15 April 2013

Quinoa, chicken, date & grape salad

I bought my second copy of the New Zealand magazine Dish last month. For the most part it is similar to Delicious but it does also include some tutorials on techniques. I think this is great. Not only do you get some awesome recipes but you also learn new skills. The article/tutorial in this issue is about preparation of sashimi. It includes details on the best fish to use, the best knives to use and how to care for them and then it goes through the techniques. If I liked fish and could get actual fresh fish then it would be really good for me. :-) It is still really interesting though. 

There are a number of things similar to Delicious including the recipe book reviews, new foods, promotions of local goods and produce. One difference that I think is great is that instead of just a letters page they have a "Dish Snaps" sections where readers take photos of the meals they have made from Dish magazines. There is a prize, just like with readers letters (emails) in Delicious however since it is a foodie magazine the photos of people's creations are a terrific way to do it. 

I find that there is a great range of recipes in the magazines. The first issue that I bought was one of the winter issues. The range of winter dishes in it was wonderful. I made a few of them, one didn't work out as planned but still tasted really good. I really couldn't decide what to make from this issue. I, of course, wanted to make heaps of things but then there is heaps of things that I want to make from all over the place. I must have 100 or 200 recipes bookmarked to make. Some of them will never get made but they are there if I want them. There is over 100 issues of Delicious magazine that 99% have recipes to make marked. There are recipes that I have saved over on that I want to make and there are also a bunch of cook books that have even more recipes. 

The one section I was looking at was Grill Master since I recently bought myself a new barbecue. There is a number of recipes which also include side dishes to go with them. I was looking at making the Italian burger which is made with veal mince patties that have all the usual things in them plus toasted & ground fennel seeds. While cooking a slice of mozzarella on top to melt and then served on a toasted bun with rocket, tomato and pesto. The recipe for the pesto is also given. Along with the burgers a side of a Caramelised carrot, corn and coriander salad. I have said before that I don't like coriander but I will admit that I have "gone to the dark side" and am eating small amounts of it. I wouldn't use the whole amount recommended in the recipe but I would use a small amount. The carrots are also done on the bbq so a test out all round. 

What I did end up going with for my first recipe was the Quinoa, chicken, date, red grape & hazelnut salad. I didn't have hazelnuts but did toast a few macadamia nuts and used those. It was a very good lunch time dish although I did find that the combination of the dates and grapes made it a bit sweet for me. I think if I was to make it again I would use one or the other but not both and add some extra greens into it. For the dressing, like most other dressings, I didn't use all the oil in the recipe. I also didn't put all of the dressing on. I find that most recipes have too much dressing and it would be swimming if all of it was used.

Quinoa, chicken, date & grape salad


500 g free range boneless, skinless, trimmed, chicken thighs 
1 c quinoa 
2 c vegetable or chicken stock
300 g green beans, ends trimmed, halved 
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced 
6 fresh dates, roughly sliced 
big bunch of red seedless grapes, halved 
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted & skinned


1 cloves garlic, crushed 
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
1 tsp salt  
2 tbsp olive oil

Place in a jar with some freshly ground black pepper & give it a good shake. 


Season chicken with salt & pepper & cook over a medium heat until golden and cooked through. Set aside until cool, then slice. 
Bring stock to boil and then add quinoa and simmer for around 10 minutes. Cool and drain.  
Blanch beans and then refresh in cold water and drain. 
Combine all the ingredients, refrigerate for an hour or so for it to let flavours combine. 

Thursday 11 April 2013

Harissa cabbage with olives & feta

I made this quick side dish some time ago now. I had it with some steak, mashed potato and steamed beans. 

It was a great way to give excellent flavour to sautéed cabbage. It could have used a bit more harissa paste in the mix but it was still really good. 

Harissa cabbage with olives & feta

1/4 cabbage, finely sliced 
2 - 3 tsp harissa paste 
handful pitted kalamata olives 
Feta, cubed or crumbled

Heat some oil in a pan over medium-low heat. 
Add cabbage and cook until starting to soften. 
Add harissa paste and mix through cabbage. 
Continue to cook until cabbage is soft. 
Stir in olives and feta and serve. 

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Nashi, beetroot & feta salad

A quick little post for a quick side salad. It, of course, contains beetroot. You may have noticed how much I love beetroot. I got the idea for this side dish from a Jamie Oliver recipe but added my own twist to it. Jamie's version used regular pears but I decided to try it with nashi instead. I really enjoyed it. It was so refreshing with that slightly earthy beetroot flavour. I will definitely make this one again. 

Nashi, beetroot & feta salad

Serves 2

1/2 nashi, julienne 
1/2 medium beetroot, julienne
olive oil
raspberry vinegar
crumbled feta

Combine all ingredients. Place in the fridge to let flavours combine. 

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Cooks Club Challenge - Spiced lemon chicken

Over on Taste forums this past month there was a new Cook's Club challenge. The three chosen recipes looked really good. I only ended up making one of them though. 

The recipe that I did end up making was the Spiced Orange Roast Chicken. I didn't have any oranges but did have plenty of lemons so I decided to use them.  I made half the recipe, as I usually do, and the only change was substituting the orange for lemon. It was a really good recipe. I think that, for me, the orange would have made it too sweet. The lemon added a wonderful tang to the dish. The coriander, cumin and tumeric. I think a little pinch of cayenne would have added another dimension to it as well. I served it with rice and steamed zucchini. A very successful meal from the challenge. I can't wait to have a go at this month's challenge which has just been posted over on the forums. 

Monday 1 April 2013

Chorizo, tomato & olive pasta

Almost every one of my quick throw together meals involve pasta. It is easy to boil some pasta and make a quick sauce. If I am really tired or it is really late I usually have a bottle of sauce in the cupboard but I try not to do that often. I have a few really easy ones. The first is some garlic oil, torn fresh basil and parmesan, it is something from Nigella. Another is a can of tuna, lemon, capers and either torn spinach or rocket. 

This one I just threw together from things that I had in the fridge. 

1/2 chorizo, chopped
handful of cherry tomatoes
6 olives, halved 
1 tbsp capers, chopped 
Cooked spaghetti

Cook chorizo over a medium heat until browned. Add tomatoes and cook until the skins on the tomatoes start to break. Add capers and olives and toss until heated through. Toss through pasta and serve. 

You could add parmesan or herbs if you wish. I was too tired to think of that on the night.