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Chicken, Pesto and Almond Sandwiches

1kg chicken breasts
1 cup basil pesto
1/4 cup almond flakes
100ml mayonnaise
mesclun salad leaves
2 loaves sandwich bread
Salt and pepper

Place chicken breasts in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add a dash of salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Let the chicken boil for 10mins, turn the heat off and let the chicken cook in the boiling water for a further 10mins. Take off the heat and let the chicken cool before finely shredding. Alternatively you can finely dice your chicken, stir-fry with a splash of oil and salt and pepper and then once cooked, process until it is a minced consistency.

Combine your chilled chicken with pesto, mayonnaise, flaked almonds and season with salt and pepper. Spread the chicken mix on one side of a piece of bread (take right to the corners). On the other piece of bread thinly spread mayonnaise and place pieces of mesclun. Sandwich the two pieces of bread together, cut the crusts and then either cut diagonally into two or four triangles.

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A few years ago I went over to my friend Bex’s house (it was for a Nutrimetics party actually, but that’s a story for another day) and because Bex is just so amazing she had put on a big spread of food and drink for everyone to enjoy, including this amazing dip! Ever since then I pretty much make it every time I have visitors over. It is so delicious as well as very simple to make, and relatively inexpensive.

Bex’s Feta Dip

200g feta
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 large red onion, diced
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper

In a large bowl mash up your feta with a fork. If it’s not mashing up very well, add the lemon juice. Add the lemon and combine until it starts to look much smoother. Add the red onion, combine and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a smaller bowl and serve with a knife for spreading, and either toasted pita bread or a thinly sliced baguette. Easy!

Tomato, Feta and Basil Tarts

3 sheets of puff pastry
2 tomatoes
1/2 bunch basil
200g feta
250ml cream
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 180ºC and grease a muffin tray.
Either cut out four circles of pastry (overlap them slightly to leave a little gap) out of each of the sheets of pastry or cut the sheet into four even squares and fold into the muffin tray. You don’t have to be too precious with puff pastry. Half fill each with the diced tomatoes, roughly chopped basil, crumbled feta and diced red onion. Whisk the cream and eggs together with salt and pepper and fill each of the tarts almost to the brim. Cook for about 20mins, or until golden. Decorate with a few basil leaves to make them look like they are really fancy, and serve.

1. Grand Gelato in Glebe. Gelato Blue in Newtown. Gelato Messina in Darlinghurst.
2. Crown Street. Every single thing on Crown St.
3. Camp Cove, Palm Beach and Redleaf Pool.
4. The sampling counters in Thomas Dux. I go there every day.
5. The crisp blue sky days of winter.
6. Markets (Glebe, Bondi Beach, Paddington and The Rocks in particular).
7. Fresh fruit and vegies from Paddy’s or the Eveleigh markets.
8. Centennial Park.
9. Indian from Maya Da Dhaba in Surry Hills.
10. That Sydney is en route to everywhere (visitors galore!).

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Tikka Masala

600g chicken diced chicken breast
2 brown onions, finely diced
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
1 red chili, finely chopped
small bunch of fresh coriander
cooking oil
knob of butter
1 tin diced tomatoes
1 tin coconut milk
3 tbsp flaked almonds
salt, pepper

Tikka Masala Paste

2 garlic cloves
1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 fresh red chili
1 tbsp desiccated coconut
2 tbsp almonds, chopped
small bunch of fresh coriander
1 tsp whole cumin
1 tsp whole coriander seeds

Start by toasting the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan, until golden and fragrant. Grind them in a pestle and mortar. Peel the garlic and ginger, and mix all ingredients in a food processor (or mortar and pestle if you are currently sans food processor like I am!) until you have a smooth paste.

 Heat a little bit of oil in a deep pan or pot, and fry the onion, ginger and coriander stalks on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the tikka masala paste and the chicken, and stir until the chicken is well coated in the paste. Add coconut milk and tomatoes, and about 300ml of water. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid and lower the heat. Cook for about 20 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper, to taste.Serve with rice, the coriander leaves, a dollop of natural yoghurt and flaked almonds.

Soup of the moment!

If you haven’t already purchased the Crown Street Cooks cookbook then you really MUST. Half the recipes are from chefs at well-known Surry Hills cafes and restaurants, while the other half are family favourites from the parents and grandparents of kids at Crown Street School. With stunning photographs, illustrations (drawn by one of the primary school’s students) and recipes such as Paella, Cafe Mint’s Breakfast CousCous,  Scottish Potato Scones and Sparkle’s Vanilla Cupcakes, it has quickly become one of my favourite cookbooks. Only $35, with all proceeds going to Crown St School and the Salvation Army. For more information including stockists, visit http://www.crownstreetcooks.com.au/

This particular soup, contributed by one of the Crown St School mums, has become a regular addition to the weekly meal plan…

Roast Tomato, Red Lentil & Cumin Soup

1.5kg roma tomatoes
2 heaped tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups red lentils, washed
2 small carrots
1 tbs tomato paste
Greek style yoghurt, to taste
Freshly chopped coriander, to serve

Prehead oven to 180*C. Cut tomatoes in half. Place cut-side up on a baking tray. Mix cumin with olive oil and spoon sparingly over tomatoes (reserve a third). Season with salt and pepper. Bake in oven for 45mins to 1 hour, until they are soft and juicy.

In a large saucepan, saute sliced red onion and garlic in leftover cumin oil. Add washed lentils add cook over low heat for 5mins. Add 1.5lt water and diced carrots and simmer for 30mins. Add tomatoes and tomato paste and puree with a stick blender. Heat through. To serve, ladle into bowls and too with a generous serve of Greek style youghurt. Sprinkle with coriander.

The cookbook recommends serving with Turkish bread, but I wouldn’t go overboard here- this soup is very filling!

Back to the Future

The name of a popular 80’s movie, but possibly more importantly, is the name of Irina Werning’s latest project and I absolutely love it! It’s amazing how much some people change or don’t really change at all. Here’s a few of my favourites….

To see more of Irina’s fabulous shots visit her website http://irinawerning.com/back-to-the-fut/back-to-the-future/