Middle-Eastern Steak Sandwiches with Moorish Potato Salad

I made these for dinner a couple of weeks ago. I had a couple of cos lettuces from mum’s garden and a bunch of cucumbers from my trip to the market to use. It makes me feel like a domesticated housewife when I decide meals based on ‘what we’ve got to use up’, but it makes sense really and I’m sure that’s how it works in commercial kitchens too. Anyway, I settled on a middle eastern style turkish bread sandwich with thinly sliced minute steaks, natural yoghurt and caramelised onions.

The potato salad was a recipe I spotted in a magazine by Chef Matt Stone who operates the Greenhouse restaurant in the inner-city, which is a very hip, eco-friendly and decidedly alternative restaurant which has been receiving lots of buzz lately. The recipe looked good and it kind of paired with the steak sandwich idea, so I decided to do both. It’s sort of got a burger and fries vibe I guess.

The sandwiches were goooood! I ended up using sour cream instead of yoghurt but I think either would work well. The onions really made it. The potato salad was also delicious, but I have to admit the last thing I wanted after working through that sandwich was more carbs. The potato salad was good for lunch the next day though with leftover sour cream.

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Thai Green Curry with Chicken and Vegetables

I only had to cook for myself tonight and felt like something easy. I had a few veggies to use up and I spotted some green curry paste in the fridge and a chicken breast in the freezer – a done deal. I whacked on the rice cooker, and cut up the chicken and set it to marinating in a few spoonfuls of curry paste whilst I prepared the other ingredients. I had a baby zucchini and a few hungarian wax peppers which mum had given me from her garden so they went in, along with capsicums, broccoli and red onion.

I sealed the chicken in a hot pan and added the onions to soften a bit. Then I poured in a bit of water and the zucchini. After simmering for a couple of minutes I threw in the softer vegetables and stirred in about 200ml of coconut cream/milk. A couple of minutes later it was ready to serve with a big squeeze of lime juice and steamed jasmine rise.

Published in: on February 8, 2012 at 10:31 pm  Comments (3)  
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Chicken Pesto Penne

Pesto is a great option for flavouring pasta when you feel like something light, flavoursome and healthy. The main ingredient is basil so it’s good for using up excess basil leaves from the garden during summer. The best thing about it is that everything except the pasta is raw – so you get the full nutritional value of all those green leaves, chopped nuts and garlic. A generous amount of fresh parmesan cheese provides the salty flavour that really makes this dish work. I also like to add a bit of chicken for protein but it isn’t really needed. The recipe I’ve taken to using is very basic and rather traditional. The final flavour will ultimately depend on the quality of the ingredients you  use and the type of basil.

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Published in: on January 23, 2012 at 10:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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I had to cook dinner for one tonight, and what’s easier than nachos? I topped some plain corn chips with a hearty beef and bean sauce, added some hot salsa, cheese, spring onions, and my very own hand-picked olives. I also made a frozen margarita which is currently giving me a healthy buzz. Don’t you judge me.


Published in: on November 30, 2011 at 9:38 pm  Comments (2)  
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Barbecue Meatloaf

Meatloaf is about as pedestrian as it gets. It brings to mind images of boring British roasts or cheap American diners. My mother has a Woman’s Weekly cookbook from the 60’s and I’m willing to bet there are several meatloaf recipes in there. It’s just not something you generally see in the glossy pages of modern cookbooks or magazines. But you know what? I happen to like the humble meatloaf. It’s warm, homely and comforting. And that’s good enough for me.

The recipe I use is from a family cookbook compiled by kindergarten mums in the small country town of Ceduna, South Australia where I grew up. The meatloaf itself is pretty standard, but the magic is in the barbecue sauce that it’s cooked in. It has a surprising depth of flavours and it keeps the meat deliciously moist. Seriously, it’s good.

But you’re more interested in the potato, aren’t you. Well me too. It’s called a hasselback potato, and I first came across the idea for these amazing things right here. They’re the Swedish version of a baked potato and are only slightly more difficult to make. The concept is simple; thin cuts along the potato (but not all the way through) cause it to fan out when baked so that the edges are crispy but the centre remains soft. I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen these before or thought of doing it myself. I stuffed a tiny slice of garlic into each cut and sprinkled some paprika over the top to give them a bit more flavour. I love the rustic elegance of these potatoes and the contrast of crunchy and soft. They are so good – I insist you try them.

The carrots were roasted whole and unpeeled with a simple red wine vinegar glaze. It was an experiment, but they turned out beautifully, far exceeding my expectations. I will make carrots like this again for sure. The beans were simply sauteed with garlic and lemon juice like I usually do. Altogether it was a really enjoyable meal.

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Published in: on October 1, 2011 at 12:02 am  Comments (3)  
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Pad Thai

I posted a recipe for Pad Thai when I first started this blog, but I think it deserves a re-post. I made a few slight changes to the recipe this time and I opted for tofu instead of meat (both options are in the recipe). It was actually my first time cooking with tofu and I think I’m a new fan. I don’t much like the flavour of tofu, despite its reputation for being tasteless; but the flavours in this dish are strong enough to cover up any subtle hints of bean curd.

I consider myself something of a Pad Thai aficionado. I was lucky enough to experience a month of travelling through Thailand when I was younger. It was a totally different type of cuisine to what I was used to, but I fell in love with it immediately. Pad Thai is a very common dish in Thailand (it literally means noodles cooked Thai style) and can be found everywhere from restaurants to street vendors. Needless to say, I ate a lot of it whilst over there.

Thai cuisine has become quite popular in Australia, but I haven’t been impressed with any of the Pad Thai versions I’ve bought here, unfortunately. They’re always bland, overcooked and a complete injustice to the fabulous flavours of Thailand. The recipe I’ve taken to using is very authentic and flavoursome, and nothing like what you would get at a western Thai restaurant. If you’ve had Pad Thai before and weren’t too fussed, I highly recommend you give this a go. Once you’ve made it a couple of times you’ll get a feel for it and will be able to whip this up without having to look at a recipe. Plus it’s healthy!

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Published in: on September 26, 2011 at 4:47 pm  Comments (6)  
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Friday Night Pizza

Friday night is a great night for pizza. I am lucky enough to live close to a good pizza joint, but at $22-29 each it’s a bit hard to justify. More often than not I prefer my own pizzas anyway. Not only do you get to choose exactly what you put on them, but they just taste fresher.

I have only gotten into cooking with yeast fairly recently, after overcoming my fears. Pizza dough is a great place to start because it is very simple and forgiving. I tried several pizza dough recipes before finding one that I love. The recipe is from a professional pizza maker and it yields a large batch. I like to roll out all the bases and freeze half of them for later. You could always buy pre-made bases if you want to save some time, but you will likely pay more than they’re worth (it’s basically just flour and water!).

I topped the first pizza with sliced pan-seared chicken, cherry tomatoes, onion, mushrooms and capsicum. When it was cooked I drizzled some sour cream over the top and added a few baby corriander leaves from the garden.

The second pizza had hot pepperoni, mushrooms, onion and capsicum with mozzarella cheese.

I highly recommend making your own pizza bases – you won’t go back once you do. Also, put the cheese on first so you get more attractive pizzas, and don’t  overdo it with the toppings.

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Published in: on September 24, 2011 at 11:52 pm  Comments (5)  
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Barbecue Chicken Open-Sandwich

For those who have been reading my blog from the very start, you may recognise this. It’s one of my favourite ‘quick dinners’ and was the subject of my very first recipe post. Looking back at earlier posts I am pretty amazed at how much better my photos have become. I’m still using a cheap point-and-shoot but I pay a bit more attention to lighting and composition now. I didn’t want this yummy recipe to be stuck in time with a bad photo, so I thought I should re-post it. Click here for the original pic!

You can eat it like I do with caramelised onion, roasted red peppers and baby spinach, heaped on top of crusty garlic bread. Or you could use the chicken some other way, like skewers perhaps.

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Published in: on September 15, 2011 at 11:16 pm  Comments (2)  
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Curried Pasta Salad

This is a very simple and easy to make pasta salad with a tangy light curry flavour. I just used what I had in the fridge, which was red capsicum, purple heirloom carrots, spring onions and corriander. You can use anything you want to give it a little freshness and crunch. Snow peas, celery and cherry tomatoes are all good.

To make dressing for 500g of pasta, combine:

  • 1/2 cup locally-sourced olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp good quality curry powder

Toss together with cold pasta and finely sliced vegetables. You may wish to double the quantity of dressing or halve the pasta for a stronger flavour. The flavours will improve the second day. Store covered in the fridge to prevent drying out.

Published in: on September 4, 2011 at 4:54 pm  Comments (2)  
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Spicy Paprika Pasta

I came up with this pasta dish a while back, during a bit of experimentation, and I fell in love with it. It’s probably not as original as I would have liked to think, but it is a bit different to your typical red pasta sauce. It’s slightly creamy, with a hint of spiciness and the smoky flavours of paprika. The paprika is very mild so most of the spice comes from thin slices of hot pepperoni. I usually add chicken as well for the protein and texture; it doesn’t add much flavour-wise.

The vital ingredient however, is Dolmio Spicy Peppers pasta sauce. I’ve raved before about my love of this particular pasta sauce. It’s so versatile; it’s fantastic with a little cream in a pasta sauce, good in mexican food, and it’s even great for pizza bases. It’s not really cheating if you just use it as a base, right?

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Published in: on August 23, 2011 at 1:39 am  Comments (6)  
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