Nasi Goreng

This week I’ve decided to post a veggie friendly recipe. Recently, I’ve been eating a lot of vegetarian meals and discovered a whole new side of cooking. Lots of people think that just because a dish has no meat that it’s somehow lacking. I’ve found that to be completely untrue. Not only do you get great taste, but you’re just as filled up as with any meat you may eat. This particular dish is Indonesian inspired from Jamie’s book. It’s not too complicated, but with lots of great tastes!

The two basic aspects of the dish are rice and egg. This is complimented by some pickled cucumber on the side. I started off by cooking some Basmati rice. Once that was done, I chopped up some onion, garlic and ginger. I followed the recipe closely, but left out the chilli peppers. Added all this to a pan  and cooked for a few minutes. I added the cooked rice and some coriander stalks, sugar snap peas and small bits of broccoli. The last step was to add some fish sauce and kecap manis (which I didn’t have so I mixed brown sugar with soy sauce). This gave the dish that nice brown colour.

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While the rice was cooking, I quickly made the pickle with some coriander, rice wine vinegar, lime and fine white sugar.

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The last step was just to fry an egg and to add some green onion and chilli sauce on top.

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That’s it! All super simple stuff and you have enough to feed about 4 people. The pickle was a great touch to the dish and complimented the slight sweetness of the rice. There are just so many flavours in this dish, from sweet, to sour, to spicy. This would also make an excellent side to some pork if you want. But, there’s really no need to add anything to it because it already has great flavour and is enough to fill you up. It’s also very easy to make so if you don’t have a lot of time, but want a nice home cooked meal then this is a great choice. See you again soon!

 

Hummingbird Cake

Ok, so it’s been a while since my last post. Things like holidays, papers for school, all got in the way. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t cook. I’ve done a lot of cooking over the past little while and I will be sharing the recipes with you over the next couple of weeks.

To start start off the year, I’m going to post a dessert recipe. While I am not too familiar with baking, I’ve decided that it’s time to get more involved in that world. There’s a lot more precision, but the pay off is usually worth the effort. So here is my first attempt at a layered cake from Jamie Oliver’s book; a Hummingbird Cake.

So I started by mashing 4 very ripe bananas. I used a few frozen ones and one un-frozen.

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Next, I added some canned pineapple, olive oil, eggs and vanilla extract to the bowl.

In a separate bowl, I prepared 350 grams of self-raising flour, 350g fine white sugar, a bit of cinnamon and a pinch of salt. I added the dry mixture to the wet one and added some chopped pecans.

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At this point, I was ready to put together my cakes. I poured the batter into two round tins. I baked them for around 40 minutes (maybe a few extra minutes), until they were spongy in the middle.

Meanwhile, I prepared the icing which consisted of icing sugar, butter, cream cheese and lime juice.

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One last thing left to prepare was the brittle that goes on top. This was just some icing sugar with a splash of water and pecans. I swirled it in a pan until golden. This was probably the one thing I did not get in this recipe. The brittle turned out softer than expected and I could not crush it properly. Instead, it was soft and chewy. It tasted good, but I think it was supposed to be harder so that it could be crushed into a powder.

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All that was left was to put the icing on the cake, along with the “brittle” and some lime zest.

This is definitely not the prettiest cake, but man was it good. The cake was nice and moist, while the icing was amazing. The brittle wasn’t how it was supposed to be in terms of consistency, but it was still tasty. Overall, not a bad first cake. I liked the pineapple in the batter, which gave it a little extra taste. I will definitely make this again some time, and will hopefully get the brittle right!

Jamie’s Black Cod…or Pollock

One thing that I really like, but don’t do very often is marinated fish. This Black Cod (I used Pollock) was the perfect opportunity to try something new. I didn’t quite have all the right ingredients for this one, but it was still an amazing dish.

Like any marinated dish, you have to start by making the marinade and putting it in the fridge to settle. Unfortunately, I forgot about this until the day of, so I only managed to put it in the fridge for a couple of hours. The marinade was made up of honey, miso paste, soy sauce, sake (I used dry white wine), rice wine vinegar and sesame oil.

Once I was ready to cook, I had to make a pickle to accent the fish. This was made up of radishes, chillies, spring or green onions, pickled ginger and its liquor, white wine vinegar and fresh coriander. Although the fish is obviously the main aspect of this dish, the pickle really makes it pop.

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After that, it was simply a matter of putting the fish on a pan for a few minutes and finishing it in the oven for 5-6 minutes at very high heat.

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In the end, I finished it with some more coriander leaves and extra virgin olive oil on top. Jamie also suggested to try it with some steamed greens. I didn’t have any on hand, so I just ate it on its own. Jamie’s recipe also said to try and blacken the edges of the fish a bit, but I always find my oven never quite burns things the way he might like. Nevertheless, this simple recipe was as good as any in his book. This was full of amazing flavours because of the marinade and the pickle. If you don’t like ginger, this may not be the recipe for you, but I thought it was amazing and very simple. This would be a great dish to serve for a large group because it does not take much effort and it can be very easily increased. I would also recommend serving with plain white rice, so as to not detract from the amazing flavours already in the dish!

Katsu Curry

Keeping with the theme of “easier” recipes, I decided to make Katsu Curry. It’s not very time consuming and didn’t require any tricky cooking techniques. That said, it was still a very flavourful dish that was very filling. It’s essentially a different way to fry deep dry chicken, but with a healthier side.

First thing was to make the marinade. This was a simple marinade with curry powder, salt, garlic and topped with buttermilk. I left it in the fridge overnight, but this only needs to be done for 2 hours according to the book.

Once the chicken is ready, you can make the sauce. This involves onion, garlic, ginger and carrot. I was also supposed to add coriander stalks, but I decided to skip that all together. I fried up all those ingredients along with garam masala, curry powder and turmeric for about 15 minutes. Then I added some flour, mango chutney and 800 ml of water and left it for another 15 minutes.

In the meantime, I did 2 things: prepared the chicken for frying and made the rice. I used panko breadcrumbs for the crunchy chicken. For the rice, I used some creamed coconut for flavour. I thought this was a nice touch that added a great aroma to the dish.

Then it was time to fry the chicken. In a large pot, I placed 2 breasts at a time in vegetable oil and fried them for about 8 minutes. I had a feeling that the breasts I had were a bit big, so I finished them in the oven for another 15 minutes.

Jamie suggested topping the dish with some fresh coriander, a red chilli and red onion. I happened to have none of those things…But either way, it was still a great dish. It was a really simple dish to make and required about an hour’s worth of work. In all I made 4 servings. What I liked most is probably the crunchiness of the chicken accented by the sauce. Although some may find the taste of curry to be too strong, this dish hides it a lot more so that even those that usually avoid curry can enjoy this dish. This can also be made a bit more spicy very easily and won’t affect the taste because it can be offset by the rice. Have fun with this one!

Greek Egg and Chips

Now that I’ve made Jamie Oliver’s “Perfect Chips” recipe, I decided it was time to do the other recipe in his book that involved the same frying process. Knowing how to make the chips made things go quickly and the results were amazing. Greek egg and chips are very versatile and amazing. This recipe also has very limited ingredients, which is always something I like to see.

There are three main ingredients in this dish: potatoes, eggs and onion. If you go back to my post from June 2015 called “Jamie’s Fish and Chips” there is a detailed account of how I made the chips. This recipe was very similar, but instead of blanching the potatoes in oil, I had to parboil them in water. As you can see below, there is nothing complicated or tricky about the recipe. Simple fresh ingredients are always best.

While the potatoes were going, I fried up the onion and then let it sit off the heat until the chips were nice and brown. The last step was just to add the potatoes to the pan on high heat and whisk the egg. I mixed it all up for about a minute and it was done.

To top it all off I just added parsley, salt, and some malt vinegar.

This was a pretty simple dish to make, especially since I used almost the same frying technique before. However, don’t let the limited ingredients fool you, it was full of flavour! Not only that, it’s a very versatile dish that can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can also be a cool side for something, but is very filling on its own. If you don’t have a lot of time, then this is a great recipe. In all it took about an hour to do and it was all very easy!

Vegetable Lasagne with Homemade Pasta Dough

So it’s been a while again since my last post, but today I am bringing you my most epic post yet! Some of the recipes I’ve done so far have been labour intensive and others have been pretty easy. This definitely falls in the former category. In total, this was about a 5 hour process, but in the end it was all worth it. The lasagne was made extra special by the fact that I also made my own dough! So have fun reading, because this is gonna be a bit of a long post.

Let’s start with what Jamie calls the “Royal Pasta Dough”. I’ve never made pasta dough before, so this was a first. I started off by mixing fine white flour and semolina together in a bowl. Then it required me to separate 12 eggs and dump then in with a bit of water and extra virgin olive oil. The kneading process took about 5-6 minutes and I added a little bit of extra water to get it to the correct consistency. I put it in plastic wrap for 30 minutes, at which point I started on the filling.

The filling starts with cutting up some egg plant and squash and roasting it in the oven for about 50 minutes. I tossed the squash in coriander, chilli powder, salt, pepper and a bit of oil. The egg plant just needs some salt and pepper and again, a bit of oil.

The next step was starting the veg sauce. Onion, celery and carrots are the base. Chop all that up with some rosemary leaves and cook for 15 minutes. Then add wine to cook away. Next is adding canned tomatoes, (previously dried) mushrooms and some water. Last step happens when the egg plant is done. I crushed the garlic over the egg plant, added balsamic vinegar and then added all that to the pot to cook for 10 more minutes.

Once the squash was done, I just mashed it up and had it ready to go. One last veg to go in was spinach. I used a combination of frozen and fresh spinach, which I sauteed for a few minutes until soft. This left me with a couple of major steps still to go….

At this time the dough was ready to be rolled. I never used a pasta maker before, so it took a little getting used to it. But eventually, I was rolling the pasta smoothly. This is again a bit of a laborious process, because the dough had to be separated into 4 pieces and rolled about 5-8 times for each piece. I went with a thickness which I thought would be good for the lasagne and I might experiment with rolling it a bit thinner or thicker in the future, but overall it was all even and smooth. As you see as well, the layers of dough are only at the bottom and then at the top once everything was in. This makes you taste filling and not just dough.

Last step before putting it all together was making a white sauce. This is just flour, milk, butter and cheese. Nothing fancy here, but I only had enough ingredients to make one sauce, so I couldn’t mess it up like I have in the past. Luckily, I know now to go very slow and did it in one go.

Finally it came time to put this thing together. As you can see, I am using a massive 4 quart oval dish. This was just the right size for this project. I started off by spreading a layer of the veg sauce, then added little “bombs” of spinach, squash and ricotta cheese. I added some white sauce and parmesan cheese to complete one layer. I repeated this 2 more times and then folded over the dough. I finished it off by pouring over the rest of the sauce and some more parm cheese. After about 4 hours of work I was ready to bake! I popped it in the oven for  about 50 minutes at 375 degrees.

The final product was absolutely amazing. It’s not like any lasagne I’ve ever tasted. There were so many different flavours and you could taste each one. The dough was very nice and soft and not overpowering. Everything about it just felt special because I knew how much work went into making it.

I invited over my family and everyone had a nice sized piece. In all, I would say it gave us about 12 good sized pieces. This is one of those great recipes you can do if you need to feed a lot of people and have a bit of time. This is definitely something that can be done quickly, but the results are worth the trouble. If you’re worried about the cost, it was probably about $25 dollars worth of food. That comes to about $2 a piece, which is well worth it for me. I hope you enjoyed seeing the process as much as I did. I will definitely make this again!

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Satay

Here is another great summer recipe because it’s light and pretty easy to make. You can make it on the bbq or if you’re like me and only have a coal fired grill, then you can just use a small cast iron one inside. Either way, the results will be great.

The most important step to making the chicken satay is the marinade. I start by toasting curry powder, cumin and turmeric. The recipe called for 2 chillies, but I only used one. I took that along with garlic and ginger and tossed it in a blender with the spices and fresh coriander. Then I added soy sauce, crunchy peanut butter and green bits of the onion. Finally, I added lime zest and juice and to loosen it up, I added some water. Once that was done, I cut 8 chicken thighs into 4 pieces each and tossed them in the sauce. I put them on 4 skewers and at that point, most of the work was done.

The book said that it’s preferable to put the chicken in the fridge overnight, but 2 hours was the minimum, so that’s what I did. Turns out, I made a bit of a mistake by using all of the marinade instead of saving some for dipping, but it really doesn’t make much of a difference. You just end up with more sauce on the chicken itself. When I was ready to cook, I fired up my small grill and let them chicken cook for 15-20 minutes until each side was done.

I finished it by adding coriander, some onion, lime, peanuts and pineapple on the side. The sides made this dish taste even better because of the perfect combination of sweet and savoury. These weren’t very spicy, but I can easily see adding a bit of heat may be a great choice.

If you like this type of Middle-Eastern inspired food, then I highly recommend this dish. It’s very easy to make and makes 4 decent sized servings. It’s a great summer dish because it involves very little work and isn’t a heavy meal, while being very filling.