Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Slow Cooked Thai Beef Coconut Curry

As winter approaches the nights getting cooler and day light savings is just about to leave Victoria for another year it signals it's nearly slow cooker season..... I know that there is no ruling on what time of the year that you can use your slow cooker - however my five (yes I own five) seem to get a work out during the colder months.

Curry is one of the best things to cook in a slow cooker in my opinion - two reasons.  One the flavour has more time to develop and the beef (or the meat) becomes so wonderfully tender due to the slow cooking process.

This recipe I found on a Facebook page "Slow Cooker Recipes 4 Families" and immediately knew we would love the flavours.  A little tweaking to suit us and voila - a mild curry with a hint of Thai flavourings that we all enjoyed.  I hope you do too.

Slow Cooked Thai Beef Coconut Curry
(Recipe Adapted from Tricia King on Facebook Slow Cooker Recipes 4 Families)

Serves: 8
ProPoints per Serve: 8

1 tablespoon oil
2 large onions, diced
1 teaspoon crushed ginger
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1kg of gravy beef, diced
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons crushed chilli
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup beef stock
freshly ground black pepper
2 cans of Lite coconut milk
4 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
1 red capsicum, large dice
1 green capsicum, large dice

Add oil to a large frying pan and place on medium heat.  Fry onion, garlic and ginger till soft. Add beef and cooked until browned. 

Add turmeric, cumin, coriander, fish sauce chilli, sugar and stock.  Stir well and season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Place the beef mixture in the slow cooker vessel.  Add carrots.

Stir through the coconut milk and cook on high for 4 - 5 hours and on low for 8 hours.

Add capsicum to curry when you have approximately 1 hour remaining on your cooking time

Serve with steamed rice (4ppts for 1/2 cup) and garnished with chopped coriander, if desired.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Redcurrant Rosemary and Thyme Lamb Shanks

I know Summer has only just left us here in Australia and technically it's not even winter but I was fancying lamb shanks in a super yummy sauce obviously accompanied by a "comfort food" size serving of creamy mashed potatoes... and guess what - I got it.

Laced with redcurrant and fresh herbs the flavour that developed after slow cooking for 8 hours was magnificent.  The lamb, as you can see, just fell of the bone and was so tender.

Not much more to say really except for ... YUMMO!!

Redcurrant Rosemary and Thyme Lamb Shanks
Serves: 6
ProPoints per serve: 12
6 x 300 gram lamb shanks, all visible fat removed
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons oil
1 bunch fresh rosemary, stalks removed
1 bunch fresh thyme, stalks removed
2 onions, diced
6 carrots, large cut
100 grams redcurrant jelly
8 cups hot water
2 tablespoons beef stock powder
4 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons cold water

Season lamb shanks with salt and freshly ground pepper.

In a large frying pan heat oil.  Brown 2 lamb shanks on all sides and place in slow cooker bowl.  Repeat with remaining shanks.

Cover with rosemary and thyme followed by the onions and carrots.

In a large jug mix together the jelly, hot water and stock powder.  Pour over lamb shanks.

Cook on low for 6 - 8 hours or until the lamb is tender and almost falling off the bone.

Removes shanks and vegetables from the slow cooker bowl and place in a large serving dish, reserving the sauce.  Cover with foil and keep warm.

Place remaining sauce in a saucepan.  Mix together cornflour and cold water.  Stir through sauce and cook, stirring, over medium heat until sauce thickens.  Pour over lamb shanks and serve.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Zucchini, Bacon and Thyme Slice

There are so many Zucchini Slice recipes available all with their own little twist or that one extra ingredient but I guess it's a case of each to their own taste buds. 

I love this recipe for two big reasons....

Number One - it's super easy.  All mixed together in one bowl and then baked in the oven.  No extra pots or pans just a food processor or a hand grater... that's your choice. 

Number Two - my family love it.... vegetables and all.  LOL!!! 

The fact it is jam packed with vegetables and is wonderfully laced with thyme and a hint of garlic makes it a wonderful treat for breakfast, lunch or after school snack either hot or cold.  Although I haven't as yet served this for dinner I wouldn't hesitate to do so accompanying it with a nice garden salad.  And I have to be perfectly honest with you I NEED to double the recipe to ensure I get at least one piece.

Zucchini, Bacon and Thyme Slice
Serves: 12
ProPoints per Serve: 3
2 zucchini, coarsely grated
1 carrot, peeled, coarsely grated
1 small red capsicum, seeded, finely chopped
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh thyme or 2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, crushed
250 grams Weight Watchers bacon, finely chopped
1 cup 50% reduced fat grated tasty cheese
1 cup self-raising flour
4 eggs, lightly whisked
1/4 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly ground black pepper 

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 20cm x 30cm lamington pan and line the base and 2 long sides with baking paper.

Place the zucchini, carrot, capsicum, spring onion, thyme, garlic, bacon, cheese and flour in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the egg, milk and oil and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for 40 mins or until firm to the touch. Set aside to cool slightly. Cut into 12 squares.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

South West Chilli

There was a moment where I swear we must have all woken up after a siesta with the taste of Mexico because there seems to quite a few dishes being cooked in the House of Murray with the Tex Mex flavours.  Don't get me wrong we LOVE it... Mexican food can be so simple to prepare yet so complex in flavours always making the taste buds dance. 
While I cannot take credit for this recipe - it's not a "hand me down" family recipe full of secret ingredients - it's actually a combination of internet researched (yes thank God for Google again) recipes and flavours that we like.  I must say that researching Chilli came up with some interesting information.  Many bloggers, especially those located in the Southern USA have their own take on what makes the best chilli - is it the heat?  Is it the texture? Beans or no Beans?  As you can imagine there are many, and I mean many, versions of this dish all differing slightly but all sounding delicious.
My favourite Chilli making tip that I stumbled across is to toss a grating of bitter chocolate into chili to give it body and mellow the flavours however I did not do that on this recipe.
I do agree with this tip - for maximum flavour, cool chilli and refrigerate overnight so flavours will develop.  It's similar to the fact that curry always tastes better the next day.
This is just a perfect meal in a bowl but if you wish you could serve with steamed rice, mashed potato or even boiled pasta.  It's great by itself though and you will be wanting seconds so no real need to fill up on the carbs!!

South West Chilli

Serves: 12
ProPoints per Serve: 8
cooking spray
1 kilogram lean beef mince
2 large onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon dried ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chilli powder or to taste
2 x 700 gram jars Passata or tomato puree
2 x 440g tins diced tomatoes
4 cups beef stock
freshly-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons honey
2 x 440 g cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 green capsicums, diced
2 red capsicums, diced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, spray with cooking spray and sauté ground beef, onion, and garlic until the meat is browned.
Add cumin, oregano, chili powder, Passata, tomatoes, and beef stock. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, approximately 3 to 4 hours, stirring often. Additional beef broth, water, or wine may be added as needed.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add honey, beans, capsicum and corn.  Continue to simmer another 30 minutes, testing and adjust seasoning to taste if required.

Serve topped with 1 tablespoon of reduced fat sour cream (additional 1 ProPoint) and 15 grams grated 50% reduced fat tasty cheese (additional 1 ProPoint).

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Tex Mex Chicken Schnitzel

A few weeks ago to my surprise I won two tickets to The Testing Grounds where they do cooking demonstrations as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival called Outdoor Essentials.  The Chef of the Day was Mr Paul Wilson who would display his culinary techniques and knowledge.  The package I would also provided me with two copies of his new cookbook Cantina, Recipes from a Mexican Kitchen, which I have to say has recipes in it that made my mouth water from the day I received them in the mail. .    I decided to take Alex, my 13 year old daughter who has already decided that she wants to be a Food Scientist when she grows up!! Yep she's already decided.
Alex and I had such a lovely day in the city - it was a girly day, an adventure, something that the two of us girls for some reason rarely do but both always desire to spend mother and daughter time.
In such a small space of time, Paul Wilson cooked 3 amazing dishes, passed around foods for us to taste and smell, answered questions and just made everything look so perfectly easy.  We were then treated to one of the dishes he cooked for lunch.  After lunch Alex and I took the opportunity to get a photo taken with this remarkable chef... whom then inspired our Mexican infused dinner later in the evening.
Tex Mex Chicken Schnitzel, in my opinion takes Schnitzels to another level.  I must admit I am not a fan of a plain Chicken Schnitzel nor can I say I really enjoy Chicken Parmigiana unless they are 100% homemade.  The mixture of homemade taco seasoning and panko breadcrumbs forms a crunchy coating with enough flavours just to serve on it's own.  However, served with a fresh crunchy coleslaw and Oven Baked Spiced Sweet Potato Chips this meal was complete and enjoyed by one and all.

Tex Mex Chicken Schnitzel
(recipe adapted from WW 6 Ingredients Cookbook)

Serves: 4
ProPoints per Serve: 9 using Homemade Taco Seasoning
ProPoints per Serve: 10 using Packet Taco Seasoning
4 tablespoons plain flour
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water
100 grams panko breadcrumbs
60 grams homemade taco seasoning or 2 x 30 gram packets Taco Seasoning Mix
4 x 220 gram skinless chicken breast fillets
2 tablespoons canola oil

Place flour on a plate.  Whisk egg with water in a shallow bowl.  Combine breadcrumbs and seasoning on a plate.

Place a chicken fillet in between baking paper and place on chopping board.  Using a mallet or rolling pin pound the chicken until the whole fillet is an even thickness.  Repeat with remaining chicken fillets.

Coat each chicken fillet in flour, then egg mixture and breadcrumb mixture.  Place on a plate.

Heat oil in a large non stick frying pan over medium heat.  Add chicken fillets in pairs, and cook for 3 - 4 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through.

Serve with Coleslaw and Oven Baked Spiced Sweet Potato Chips if desired.