Monday, May 21, 2018

Kashmiri Lamb Korma

It was a miserable day, weather wise, and I had a curry planned on the menu so it was already a win win in my books.

The curry chosen for tonight wasn't a hot and spicy dish but rather a thick creamy mild comforting one.  Korma just means a mild curry. Yet, it is actually a very rich stew in which the meat, chicken or vegetables and nuts are braised in cream, yogurt or coconut milk. 

Kashmir is the northernmost geographical region in Indian. It borders Pakistan, Afganistan and China, the Tibetan region. Kashmir has its own special and traditional foods influenced by the climatic conditions and customs. Rich and redolent with the flavour of the spices used –cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, saffron, etc. Kashmiri food can be the simple meal of a family, or a 36-course wedding banquet called Wazawan. The staple diet of every Kashmiri is rice, the most preferred being the dense, slightly sticky grained Kashmir variety, which is prized in the Valley. Mutton, chicken or fish are of prime importance in Kashmiri meal and everyday cooking often combines vegetable and meat in the same dish.

Once again another curry made from scratch - no jar in sight.  The combination of spices was easy and not over complicated.  Cooked slowly the lamb was beautiful and tender, all most melt in your mouth.  Enveloped with a thick creamy sauce this recipe may not be completely authentic but with lots of spice and herbs, this delicious korma packs a punch of flavour which we all enjoyed.

Kashmiri Lamb Korma
(recipe adapted from

Serves: 4

60 grams ghee or butter
3 brown onions, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 cinnamon stick
8 black peppercorns, crushed
6 whole cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 kilogram lamb shoulder, cut into 3cm pieces
2 cups water
1 cup natural yoghurt
freshly ground black pepper
80 grams ground almond meal
additional water if required
toasted flaked almonds, to garnish
chopped coriander, to garnish

Heat the ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until lightly golden.

Add the turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, peppercorns, cloves, cumin, garlic, ginger, coriander seeds, chilli and paprika and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until aromatic.

Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until tomatoes are pulpy.

Add the lamb, stirring until completely covered with the tomato mixture.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the water and mix well.  Allow mixture to come back to a simmer.

Add the yoghurt and bring to a simmer, ensuring that you mix the yoghurt through completely.  Season with salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours or until lamb is very tender and sauce thickens slightly.


Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius.

Transfer to a large casserole and cook, covered in the oven for 2 hours, stirring occasionally or until lamb is very tender and sauce thickens slightly.

Add almond meal and mix through well.  If too thick add a little water.

Spoon lamb into a serving bowl and sprinkle with flaked almonds.

Serve with steamed rice, if desired, and coriander.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe).

Sunday, May 20, 2018

"Royal Engagement" Roast Chicken aka The Perfect Roast Chicken

Well everyone in the world knows what took place yesterday ... the Royal Wedding!   The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was held in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in the United Kingdom.  

It was a beautiful event fully televised and I thoroughly enjoyed spending most of my Saturday infront of the tv.  Growing up, like most girls, there is always the dream that I would grow up and meet my Prince Charming, be swept off my feet and live life like a princess! So while I pottered around doing my usual "Princessy" things such as putting the groceries away, cleaning, cooking and menu prepping I watched on in awe (and I guess a little jealousy) an event that will change history.  

Sunday, as most of you know, is family roast dinner day at the House of Murry (now seriously how regal does that sound?) and when possible I ensure that we do sit down for a roast dinner.  Giving the Royal Celebrations this week I thought we would have the "Engagement Chicken" that Meghan Markle cooked for Prince Harry the night that he proposed.  

In an interview from People November 2017 it was revealed that Prince Harry got down on one knee to propose while the couple was at home making roast chicken, the origin of the dish was from famous celebrity chef  and host of the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten — and it’s one of Meghan’s go-to recipes.  Ina Garten couldn’t be more pleased that her recipe is now part of the royal couple’s love story.

This recipe has been around for quite sometime despite it's new found fame.  The original recipe which I followed was published on Food Network in 1999 however since gaining celebrity status it has been revamped and can be found here.

The roast chicken itself is quite a plain dish when you read the recipe.  It's quite simple and easy to prepare.  However the decadent flavours from the thyme, lemon and garlic lacing the tender juicy meat which are cooked on a bed of roasted fennel, onions and carrots that are enveloped in the stunning chicken flavours contradict the simplicity of what you read.

Needless to say if it was good enough for Meghan's Prince would be good enough for mine and our loyal subjects?

Yes it was definitely was......

"Royal Engagement" Roast Chicken aka Perfect Roast Chicken
(Recipe sourced Ina Garten: Food Network)

Serves: 6 - 8

2 kilogram roasting chicken
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 large bunch fresh thyme, plus additional 20 sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic.

Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil.

Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes.

Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables (or get one of your royal followers to do it for you LOL).  Accompany with other vegetables as desired.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Stir Fry Lamb Strips with Carrot, Mushrooms and Broccoli

One thing we don't cook enough with is Lamb.  It's one of those meats here in Australia that you can get a cheap leg or shoulder of lamb but all the other cuts are really expensive. We love lamb, especially a roast, but it's not on the menu very often.  Which is s shame.

I'd recently asked our son what he fancied for dinner and he replied "a lamb stir fry would be really nice Mam - we haven't had one of those for a long time". I thought this was an interesting answer but to be honest it's nothing out of the ordinary for anyone in our family to request something outside the norm.

I came across a new butchers,  Australian Butchers Store, near work (I normally buy all our meat over in Clayton) and I must say I was a little excited about this.   In fact I was pretty impressed with the butchers.  Having only opened recently it was my first chance to go in there and have a look around.  Needless to say the ban on my buying any meat for our freezer went out the window as I came home armed with lots of bargains which included lamb strips.

Using my old friend Google I started looking for a stir fry recipe to cook using the lamb strips.  this was a harder challenge than I thought.  There are actually not that many Asian recipes using lamb.  I finally came across a recipe that sounded really nice.  I hadn't noticed what site it was on but I started reading the recipe and thought to myself this sounds pretty good.  I will cook this and then I read on further only to start laughing at the serving suggestion given.... and couldn't stop laughing. 

Serving Suggestions
Serve with rice or potatoes or fill a pitta bread or tortilla wrap with the stir-fry.

To my surprise the recipe was actually on the Irish Food Board which I guess explains the potatoes??  Please if you are Irish do not take offence to this post - I thought the comment was magic.  I actually cooked this recipes (although I did adapt slightly) but served ours with rice noodles.  It was absolutely delicious and enjoyed by everyone.

The meat and vegetables were tender and laced with the sweetness of the hoisin sauce and traces of the Chinese five spice.  It was a simple dish but bold at the same time.  I would defintely suggest you give this Asian number a go.

Stir Fry Lamb Strips with Carrot, Mushrooms and Broccoli
(Recipe adapted from Bord Bia)

Serves: 6

200 grams dry thick rice noodles
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1/2 teaspoons Five Spice Powder
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons rice wine
freshly ground black pepper to taste
900 grams lean lamb strips
2 tablespoon oil
2 carrots thinly sliced
1 onion, sliced
200 grams button mushrooms, sliced
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
4 tablespoons hoisin sauce

Cook rice noodles as per packet instructions.  Drain and set aside.

Combine the garlic, ginger, five spice, soy sauce, rice wine and pepper together in a medium bowl.  Add in the lamb strips and mix well to combine.  Allow to stand for at least 30 minutes or longer if time permits.  

Heat half the oil in a wok or frying pan. Then add in the vegetables and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the wok. Stir-fry the lamb in 2 batches.

Return the vegetables to the wok, add back in the cooked lamb and stir in the hoisin sauce. Mix well together.

Place noodles on a a large serving platter and top with lamb stir fry.  Serve immediately.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Meatball Tomato and Mozzeralla Tray Bake

It's that time of year again - football season and winter.   When meals need to be quick and easy due to weeknight footy training, not to mention Saturday is game day and then there is always our social life to fit in.  

So it officially started this weekend for us.  Two football matches on Saturday (one in Carrum Downs and the other in Hastings).  Needless to say Saturday was busy until around 2pm. Saturday Night we went out for dinner with our beautiful friends, Tanya and Pete, whom we actually met through football.  We were all being "restaurant Guinea Pigs" as I had chosen a restaurant that none of us had been to before.

We had some amazing flavours at the Sun Wah last night - definitely had the taste buds jumping.  Everything on the menu sounded delicious so we all settled for the "Our Chef Degustation Menu".  Eight courses of amazing flavours and the presentation - wow it was magnificent.  This was the second time we had sat down for a Degustation feast - the first time was at Ten Minutes By Tractor.  I have to say we really enjoyed our first experience of a Degustation menu at the beautiful restaurant and winery in Main Ridge so needless to say I was definitely eager to see how the Chinese laid it our.  Our feast at the Sun Wah was as follows:

Amuse Bouche
Duck & Pork Croquette w. black truffle mayo

First Course
Ginger pear scallops, crispy pork belly, golden pearl sago, chilli jam

Second Course
Blue swimmer crab dumpling, Yarra Valley salmon caviar, clear consomme

Third Course
Twice cooked lamb rib, chilli jam, coriander

Fourth Course
Hopkins River grass fed eye fillet, eggplant, snake green beans, snow peas, mushrooms. teriyaki jus
Served with Special Fried Rice

Fifth Course
Roast Peking duck, steamed crepe, pickles, cucumber, hoi sin

Sixth Course
48° poached salmon, black bean, soy dressing with
dry fried spicy green beans

Seventh Course
Stuffed chicken w. minced prawns and mandarin jus

Eighth Course
Indulgence sharing dessert platter

Followed By Coffee and Tea
and Petit Fours 

Tonight's dinner truly had to be worthy of a king to match up with the food we ate last night.  LOL I am only kidding - tonight's dinner needed to be the perfect homemade meal.  A balanced meat and vegetable dish with lots of flavours.  This is a dish I have made a few times and it always goes down a treat.  Not only is it really easy, a fabulous one pot wonder, it is quick and manages to disappear.

Meatball Tomato and Mozzeralla Tray Bake
(Recipe adpated from Weight Watchers Australia)

Serves: 4
Smart Points per serve: 9

500 grams lean beef mince
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon rind, finely grated
2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
1/2 cup fresh wholegrain breadcrumbs (approx 2 slices)
1 egg
freshly ground black pepper
1 medium red capsicum, chopped
2 medium zucchini, chopped
cooking spray
400 grams canned cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoons baby capers, rinsed, drained
100 grams bocconcini, torn
1/2 bunch fresh basil, leaves

Preheat oven to 200°C or 180°C fan-forced.

Combine mince, shallots, parsley, rind, chilli flakes, breadcrumbs and egg in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.  Roll level tablespoons of mixture into 24 meatballs.

Place meatballs, capsicum and zucchini in a large baking dish. Lightly spray with cooking spray and bake for 15 minutes or until meatballs have browned.

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, paste, garlic and capers in a bowl.

Add tomato mixture to meatballs and stir to combine. Top with bocconcini and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese has melted and meatballs are cooked through.

Serve sprinkled with basil.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Monday, April 30, 2018

Pomegranate and Spinach Salad

By the end of summer I am personally sick of salad.  Although I try and make salads as interesting as possible.  Some of my favourite salads would have to be Roast Pumpkin, Beetroot and Bocconcini Salad with Guiness Dressing or Roast Pumpkin Salad and of course, the Crunchy Asian Salad.  However, there comes a point where I just cannot eat salad anymore.

Saying this, you are not going to believe the salad on the plate tonight.  This would have to be the most jam packed flavoursome salad that only has 3 ingredients...... yep go figure.  Bold spinach combined with the sweetness of thinly sliced red onion.  Scattered with fresh pomegranate tendrils.

The hardest thing about making this salad is removing the tendrils from the pomegranate. The easiest way I have found is to cut the top off and make slits down the sides of the pomegranate.  Then open it like a flower, turn upside down and tap with a wooden spoon.  Here is an instructional video.  Once you have done it a few times you will have mastered the art of doing this without too much mess.

It's actually one of our daughter's favourites and takes this for lunch at school quite often.  I like it drizzled with balsamic vinegar to add another element.  In all seriousness you will love this. 

Pomegranate and Spinach Salad

Serves: 4

500 grams baby spinach leaves, rinsed and patted dry
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
tendrils of 1 pomegranate

On a large platter or bowl layer the spinach and red onion.  Toss together if you wish.

Sprinkle with pomegranate tendrils.

Serve immediately.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe).

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Slightly Chewy Anzac Biscuit

Our daughter asked if I was making Anzac Biscuits again this year.  It always amazes me that something that I may only do or cook once a year is requested with the perfect timing from not only her but from the family.   They know that I have my traditions (as quirky as some of them are) and my beliefs which they let me run with even if it means eating different foods like Faggods and Mushy Peas and Welsh Cakes on St David's Day or only eating seafood on Good Friday and I thank them humbly for letting me do my thing!  Anzac Day is the only day that I bake Anzac Biscuits. 

An Anzac biscuit is a sweet biscuit, popular in Australia and New Zealand, made using rolled oats, flour, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda, boiling water, and (optionally) desiccated coconut. Anzac biscuits have long been associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) established in World War I. The biscuits were sent by wives and women's groups to soldiers abroad because the ingredients do not spoil easily and the biscuits kept well during naval transportation.

Everyone loves an Anzac biscuit - everyone has a treasured recipe also.  This recipe is very close to the traditional version we all know and love, but with slightly higher amounts of coconut, golden syrup and butter, the end result is more chewy than crumbly.  Personally I prefer a crumbly crisp Anzac Biscuit but these pleased the crew.

Slightly Chewy Anzac Biscuit
(Recipe sourced from Delicious)

Makes: 24

1¼ cups rolled oats
1 ¼ cups desiccated coconut
1 cup plain flour
150 grams unsalted butter
¼ cup golden syrup
1 cup raw sugar
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Combine the oats, coconut, flour and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Place the butter, golden syrup and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until butter melts. Bring to a simmer and cook for a further 1-2 minutes until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, cool slightly, then add the bicarb soda and 1 tbs water. Stir to combine, then pour over the oat mixture.

Using a wooden spoon, combine butter and oat mixture.

Using 1 tbs mixture each, roll into 24 equal-sized balls. Divide between two baking paper-lined baking trays, leaving 3cm between each.

Flatten biscuits slightly, then bake for 10-12 minutes until the top tray is slightly golden. Swap trays and cook for a further 6-8 minutes until all biscuits are golden.

Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Creamy Garlic, Chilli and Coriander Prawns

What's that one meal that you always order when you go to a bistro (or the pub as we like to call it here in Australia)?  While many people always swear by good ol' Chicken Parmigiana (well this meal covers most of my family), a burger if they are on the menu or even a nice piece of juicy steak.  For me however it's creamy garlic prawns served with rice and sometimes if I am feeling naughty I also get some chips - I always asked for extra garlic sauce however.

There is something about the way that the bistro's cook garlic prawns - it's totally different than that of the Asian cuisines.  And while the thought of prawns, garlic and rice does sound like something you would get in a Chinese restaurant this style of dish is totally the opposite. The thought of the thick creamy garlic laced sauce, normally laced with chopped parsley, is making my mouth salivate right now.

Creamy garlic has to be one of my favourite sauces to have with prawns or chicken. While it's normally quite bold in flavour it is subtle enough to compliment seafood and poultry.  I do believe given the chance I could just about eat it on anything.

Tonight we jazzed it up a little, maybe incorporating a few more Asian ingredients, but wanted it still to be thick and creamy.  The prawns were marinated in garlic, chilli, spring onion, salt, pepper and a little oil prior to cooking.

Creamy Garlic, Chilli and Coriander Prawns

Serves: 2

500 grams raw king prawns, cleaned and rinsed
2 - 4 cloves garlic, crush, depending on taste
1 tablespoons chilli flakes, more or less depending on taste
1 spring onion, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
250 grams light thickened cream
1 tablespoon corn flour
1/2 bunch finely chopped coriander

Pat dry prawns and place in a bowl.  Add garlic, chilli, spring onion, salt and pepper to taste, and olive oil.   Mix well.  Allow to stand for 30 minutes or longer if possible.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat.  Add prawns and stir fry for 1 minutes or until prawns start to turn pink in colour.

In a small jug mix cream and cornflour together.  Add to prawns and cook, stirring continuously, for 2 to 3 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken.  Mix through coriander.

Serve immediately, with steamed rice if desired.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Chicken Lazone

I was looking for another chicken dish - the last new chicken recipe I cooked was definitely going to be a hard act to follow.  After cooking "Marry Me Chicken" and getting the rave reviews and requests for repeat servings from the family I have to say I was a little worried attempting another new chicken recipe.  But OMG!!! Damn Delicious you are so right - I have found another magnificent chicken recipe.  And this meal was devoured also.   Let's face it any dish with a creamy sauce is already on the track of being a winner.

Quite a different way of making this creamy sauced dish I have to admit however it was definitely not hard and was made without limited effort no to mention another quick to prepare meal for a mid week feast.

Instead of putting the herbs in with the cream sauce they are all mixed together with some olive oil to create an intense rub for the chicken.  Combining this is all done in a snap lock bag so there is also not much mess especially on your hands.  Then you simply pan fry the chicken add the cream sauce ingredients pop in the oven while you cook the other vegetables and voila your meal is done and ready for the hungry hoards.

Talk about flavoursome - the mix of smoky paprika, garlic, cayenne pepper, basil and oregano is one of my new favourites especially when smothered in a creamy sauce.  Due to the combination of the herbs the cream sauce had a tingle of smokiness and heat with each mouthful but it definately complimented the spiciness of the chicken breasts.

I really liked this dish - in fact I am finding it hard to make judgement on which is my favourite.  The two dishes Chicken Lazone and Marry Me Chicken are both delicious!  One is spicy and creamy the other is creamy and somewhat a rustic Italian style dish.  What can I say?  I am torn I really am?  I would love to hear what you think?

Chicken Lazone
(Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious)

Serves: 6

4 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 skinless chicken breasts, approx 150 grams each, fat trimmed
2 tablespoon olive oil
coking spray
4 tablespoons reduced fat butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups skim milk
2 cups reduced fat thickened cream
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Combine paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano and basil in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

In a large ziploc bag, add chicken, olive oil and paprika mixture, shaking to coat thoroughly.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook, flipping once, until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes on each side.

Once cooked remove chicken fillets from the frying pan and place in a large casserole dish in a single layer.  Repeat with remaining chicken fillets.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the skillet. Add garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Gradually stir through the milk and cream until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

In a small bowl or jug mix together the water and cornflour.  Quickly stir into cream mixture.

Pour cream mixture over the chicken fillets and place in oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the cream mixture is bubbling.

Remove from oven and serve immediately with chicken, garnished parsley, if desired.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Tuscan Roast Pork

I mentioned that I received a beautiful cookbook from my gorgeous friend Bernie for my birthday when we cooked Rioja Chicken a little while ago and to be honest the book hasn't made it to the bookshelf yet - in fact it hasn't left the kitchen.  The cookbook is ABC's Delicious - Love To Eat and if you get a chance to get a copy I would encourage you to do so.  It is one of the better cookbooks I have read and used in such a long time.

This is the second time that we have cooked the Tuscan Pork.  The recipe as written has two components - one being the pork and the other being Mustard Fruits.  I am going to confess to having only cooked the pork as I do not believe that any of the family would try let alone enjoy the Mustard Fruits so I haven't even bothered with making them.  If anyone would like the recipe though please contact me and I can email it to you.

The fascinating thing about this recipe which actually goes against everything that I have learnt about cooking pork is that the whole piece of pork belly is marinated including the much treasured skin or the crackle.  Every other recipe will state you must keep the skin dry, do not get the skin wet, pat down with paper towel to ensure it's dry, it won't crisp up if the skin is wet, etc.  Well not this recipe... and it does crisp up producing a fantastic rosemary and fennel infused crackle.

Marinading the pork belly doesn't come any easier than this either.  A combination of fresh rosemary and fennel seeds mixed with olive oil and lemon seasoned with salt - it is simply that easy.  As decadent as this sounds it is one of the easiest marinades but it's by far one of the tastiest.  You can definitely not match the flavour of fresh rosemary or the slight aniseed flavour of the fennel.   Yet together they taste amazing.

We adore the flavours of this pork belly recipe.  Is it our favourite?  Yes definitely.

Tuscan Roast Pork
(Recipe adapted from Delicious - Love To Eat)

Serves: 6 - 8

2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil

Ensure pork rind is scored to your liking.

Combine rosemary, fennel, lemon zest, salt and oil in a bowl then rub all over the pork. 

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Prior to cooking remove pork belly from fridge and sit at room temperature for approx 30 minutes to take the chill of the pork.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

Place the pork, skin side up, on a roasting rack over a roasting pan.  Fill pan with 2cm water.  Roast pork for 30 minutes.

Reduce heat to 180 degrees Celsius and cook for a further 2 hours, topping up water if necessary.  Remove from the oven and site aside to rest, loosely covered with foil.

Slice pork and serve.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Raspberry and Chocolate Croissant Pudding

When I decided to have the family over for Easter lunch I had already planned on using a frozen apple pie as dessert.  Upon removing from the freezer I realised that it had been crushed and was not looking to great to serve up to the family.  This now posed the question - what are we going to do for dessert?  What ever it was going to be I knew that it had to be quick and easy to prepare as time was ticking and our guests would be arriving soon.

Opening our freezer lid (we have an awesome Haier 519L chest freezer - a little overkill but it well used in our household) I immediately saw some croissants and thought I know I can do something with these!  Then I remembered a croissant pudding that I made many moons ago which went down a treat.

While this pudding is very similar to a bread and butter pudding - using same technique but I have to admit replacing the bread with croissants added a texture and sweeter taste to the dish than that of bread.  The custard was light and velvety which soaked beautifully into the delicate french pastries.  This all coupled with a scattering of raspberries and melted chocolate pieces was, to be honest, heavenly.

Not to mention, even with frozen croissants, it was prepared in 15 minutes and ready to put in the oven when required.  The original recipe called for white chocolate but a substitution was made due to not having that ingredient in the house.  I also added vanilla bean paste to the custard mixture to give it a little more decadence.

Served warm with ice cream and thick dollop cream (yes I know drool) this pudding got the tick of approval from all of the family... my father-in-law ate two serves even after admitting that he doesn't like bread and butter pudding.  Thumbs up I say.

Raspberry and Chocolate Croissant Pudding
(Recipe adapted from

Serves: 6 - 8

6 croissants
20 grams butter
1/4 cup raspberry jam
100 grams milk chocolate baking chips
100 grams frozen raspberries
8 eggs, lightly whisked
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup thickened cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 cup caster sugar

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. 

Lightly grease an 8 cup capacity ovenproof dish.

Use a small serrated knife to split each croissant in half. Lightly spread the cut side of each croissant with a little butter. Spread the jam over the butter. Arrange the croissants, chocolate and raspberries in the prepared dish.

Whisk the egg, milk, cream, vanilla and sugar in a large jug until well combined. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the croissants. Set aside for 15 mins to soak.

Place the dish into a larger roasting pan and pour enough boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake for 35-40 mins or until custard is just set. 

Set aside for 10 mins to cool slightly before serving.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Marry Me Chicken aka Sicilian Chicken

So are you as intrigued with the name of this dish as I was?  As soon as I came across a recipe called "Marry Me Chicken" I guessed that it was obviously good and did some more investigation.

Tradition, as it is told, is that there are two dishes that are guaranteed to lead you to the alter!  Far fetched I know but the first dish, "Engagement Chicken", is a roast chicken  and the second is "Marry Me Chicken", which is a creamy casserole.  And before you ask, yes there are so many different recipes for both dishes.  I was reading and reading for a long time before I settled on the recipe I was going to cook.

A quick history lesson regarding the both dishes.  Starting with Engagement Chicken - this was  developed by a fashion editor at Glamour Magazine, following a trip to Italy. Afterwards the recipe was given to co-worker to prepare for her boyfriend and soon afterwards, the couple was engaged. The recipe made the rounds in the office and three other women in the office were offered marriage proposals soon after making the dish for their boyfriends.  The recipe featured in Glamour Magazine later on after it was dubbed "Engagement Chicken". Soon afterwards the magazine began receiving letters from women claiming that their boyfriends proposed shortly after being served the dish. The magazine claims 70 couples have married after the women served their boyfriends the dish.

Now for the story of Marry Me Chicken is not to different. Instead of using a whole chicken this recipe calls for skin on chicken thighs or pieces which are fried until crispy. According to the article I was reading Delish editors started devouring these crispy chicken thighs soaked in a savory sun-dried tomato-thyme cream sauce, people started blurting out "I'd marry you for that chicken" and "OH MY GOD THAT'S MARRIAGE MATERIAL."

So what I can make of my own google investigation?  It is obvious that people have heard of Ina's Engagement Roast Chicken and Marry Me Chicken - I clearly did not have a clue!  Secondly they are both obviously renounced for their flavours and the after effects of serving either dishes to partners according to the romantics among us.

The romantic in me decided to try cooking the Marry Me Chicken even though I did not expect this dish to cause anything incredible to occur (this year hubby and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary).

I didn't have a whole chook nor did I have any skin on chicken thighs so I substituted chicken breast fillets cut into 4 large pieces other than that I followed the recipe.  The smell during the cooking process was magnificent and I have to admit that I was actually looking forward to eating this dish myself.

As mentioned before, these chicken pieces enveloped in a creamy sun dried tomatoes and thyme sauce were magic.  Actually like nothing I have tasted before.  The chicken was tender and juicy.  The sauce thick and creamy.  It was everything in just one dish. 

I wanted to marry myself LOL!!  

Marry Me Chicken or Sicilian Chicken
(Recipe adapted from

Serves: 4

cooking spray
4 chicken breast fillet, quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup light thickened cream
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper. Sear until golden, 3 - 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate.

To the same frying pan, add garlic, thyme, and crushed red pepper flakes and let cook until fragrant, approximately 1 minute. Add chicken stock, cream, sun-dried tomatoes, and Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. 

Bring to a simmer, then return chicken to skillet and bake for 15 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked through.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Thai Red Curry Paste ~ Thịy n̂ảphrik kæng s̄ī dæng

Tonight I decided that we would do a "Fakeaway" night at home... this generally consists of homemade pizza or burgers or any items you would normally go out to eat or order in. It's a fun way to prep and eat food and generally the whole family gets involved. Fakeaway tonight was Thai and it was decided that we would have two curries, rice, poppadoms and roti bread.

The two curries we decided on were Red Chicken Curry and Green Chicken Curry. I had already made the Thai Green Curry Paste ~ Kæng k̄heīywh̄wān thịy and it was in the freezer.  So all I needed to do was make the Thai Red Curry Paste.

As I always insist making your own curry pastes are very easy and taste a lot nicer than those in the jars with no preservatives and additives.  They keep generally for around a week sealed in a container in the fridge or frozen they will last up to several months.  Once you make your first paste you will be making more and more - trust me.....

Anyway so Red Curry Paste yes it has chillies in the recipe but this is not a hot Thai Curry - needless to say my kids like this one.  

This recipe is simple and I mean really simple - by using a food processor it's ready in 10 minutes.  While it's not an authentic recipe using all the correct ingredients it has the same beautiful flavour and texture.

The base is red chilies, garlic, ginger, and shallot.  With the addition of a magnificent combination of spices, fish sauce and coconut cream and the acidity of lime juice - it all smells nice before the paste is even made.

Everything in at once, a quick whirl in the food processor and you have perfect and vibrant paste ready to use in a curry or however you like.  Paste will taste very strong at this point but will mellow when you use it.

Thai Red Curry Paste ~ Thịy n̂ảphrik kæng s̄ī dæng
(Recipe sourced from The Curry Kitchen Cookbook)

Makes approximately 1 cup

1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, pale part only, roughly chopped
1 - 2 red chillies
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large piece galangal or ginger, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground corinader
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons chilli powder
3 tablespoons thick coconut cream
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Place all the ingredients in a food processor , blender or mortar and process well until smooth.

If you want a thinner sauce add a little more coconut milk.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Rioja Chicken

My beautiful friend Bernadette gave me an absolute stunner of a cookbook for my birthday, ABC's Delicious - Love To Eat, and I think I have already read it from front to back a couple of times now.  It's a book covering several cuisines from around the world.  The book's layout is clear and pictures of each dish are enticing and well taken.

I have to be honest, as you can all probably imagine, I am addicted to actual cookbooks.  While the internet makes it very easy to find a recipe, explore new opportunities and pinpoint certain ingredients or cuisines there is nothing like sitting down and flicking through a cookbook - reading the instructions and drooling at the pictures.  I have a bookshelf full of cookbooks - I'm talking about 200+ as I just love them.

Another this I also enjoy is sitting down to a Sunday Roast dinner.  The Sunday Roast is a big thing for me as it's a time when all the family are together.  We are normally all home either relaxing (maybe even recovering from a big weekend) or getting prepared for the new week ahead but we are together.  That's always been very important to me.  It's also something that my parents ensured happened every week extending their hospitality to my aunties and uncles, along with their many friends.  I remember Sunday afternoons with 20 or more people at the table as my father loved being surrounded by people and it was always a case of the more the merrier in the Davies household.

While flicking through the new cookbook I stopped immediately when I cam across this recipe for Rioja Chicken. Rioja (pronounced Ree-OH-hah) is a Spanish style Roast Chicken.  The picture looked amazing and as soon as I read the recipe I knew that was what we were having for our Sunday Roast.  While I knew it wasn't going to be a traditional roast it sounded delicious and my eyes were just fixed on the picture.

A combination of smokey chorizo, garlic, red wine and chillies made this an exotic but well balanced flavour sauce and the chicken was melt in your mouth.  Cooking it covered for 1 hour definitely sealed in the juices along with the flavours.  The sauce was thick and very rich but not overpowering.

I managed to find a bottle of Rioja in Liquourland, which I was surprised about,  If you love the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon but the fruitiness of Grenache then you'll love Rioja .  It's made from Trempanillo grapes, popular here in Australia but originating in Spain.  If you cannot find Rioja then substitute it for what red wine you have.

Served with some roasted hassleback potatoes and steamed vegetables this Spanish take on a roast chicken was perfect.

Rioja Chicken
(Recipe adapted from Delicious - Love To Eat Cookbook)

Serves: 8
SmartPoints per Serve: 14

2.2 kilogram whole chicken
freshly ground black pepper
2 onions, sliced
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
300 grams chorizo, casings removed and chopped finely
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups Rioja or other red wine
2 x 400 grams cans diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons brown sugar
4 bay leaves
4 small dried chillies
1 x 400 gram can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Ensure chicken is rinsed thoroughly and pat dry with kitchen towel. Season with salt and pepper.

Spray a heavy based casserole dish or oven safe frying pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook for 2 - 3 minutes until softened and golden (not browned). Add chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes or until starting to crisp.

Add stock, wine, tomatoes, brown sugar, bay leaves and chilli. Stir to combine.

Place the chicken, breast side up, on top of the sauce mixture. Cover with a lid or foil and place in the oven. Cook for 1 hour 15 minutes then carefully remove from oven. Remove lid or foil and brush chicken with some of the sauce.

Return chicken to the oven and cook, uncovered, for a further 45 minutes to an hour or until juice runs clear. Remove from oven.

Transfer chicken to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Set aside.

Place the casserole dish or frying pan full of sauce over a medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 5 minutes until sauce has reduced and thickened. Add chickpeas and stir through to heat.

Place chicken back on top of sauce and serve immediately.