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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Easy Peasy Chicken Pies



Living in the Middle East, I obviously eat a lot of Middle Eastern food which is delish! However, sometimes I crave comfort food that feels very Australian. Growing up we would almost always have a pie at some stage over the weekend. I love a good meat pie or a potato pie but every now and then I'd go all out and have a chicken pie! My local bakery growing up was called Hill Top Bakery and to this day I have never found a place that does doughnuts, slices, pies or meringues as good as Hill Top! I think the bakery has since closed down but I will always have fond memories of that place. I wish I could take Sadie there for a lamington after school.... I digress!

I found this recipe on line and it really appealed to me because it seemed so comforting and cosy but best of all it seemed like a healthy pie! These individual chicken pies are full of chicken (obviously!) and lots of vegies and best of all they don't have a fattening creamy sauce. I was worried that the pies would taste dry without the creamy goodness, but they were absolutely scrumptious and not once did I feel guilty! The pies only require a little disc of golden puff pastry on top and I think serving the pies alongside some green leaves cancels out the pastry... doesn't it?!?!

The recipe below serves 4 however, I halved the ingredients so as not to temp myself with seconds! The recipe called for chicken thighs which I'm not a huge fan of so I used chicken breast.

If you do not have individual pie dishes you can easily make one large pie in an oven safe dish and the cooking time remains the same.

I think this dish would be perfect for a Sunday lunch with friends. Or in my case a Friday lunch with friends as here in the Middle East our weekends are Fridays/Saturday with Fridays feeling more like a Sunday... confused yet?!

Enjoy
x

Ingredients
4 chicken breasts cut into 2cm pieces
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
300g mushrooms, chopped
4 green onions (shallots), thinly sliced
1/2 cup frozen peas (I actually used a mix of frozen vegies to give the dish more colour and taste)
1/4 cup grated tasty cheese
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed cut into four 15cm circles
1 egg, lightly beaten
salad to serve (optional)

Method

Toss chicken pieces in flour, shaking off excess. Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium. Cook chicken in batches, until golden. Remove from pan. Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, until mushrooms soften and liquid evaporates.


Preheat oven to 220C. Combine chicken, mushrooms, green onion, peas and cheese in a bowl. Season to taste (don't be shy with the salt, this dish needs a fair amount!). Divide chicken mixture between four 11cm pie dishes or individual ramekins.




Brush edge of pie dishes with water. Cover with pastry and press around edge of each ramekin to seal. Brush tops with egg. Bake pies for 20 minutes, or until pastry is golden.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce






I absolutely love Italian food! When Matt, Sadie and I moved to Abu Dhabi we were excited to try out all the different Italian restaurants. One that became a firm favourite was an eatery called Biella. They served good fast Italian cuisine and at a great price so it was a place we frequented often. When we moved to Doha in November I was pleasantly surprised to find that Biella had 2 restaurants in town!


My favourite dish at Biella is Spagehtti Al Pomodoro, basically a fresh tomato sauce tossed in with some spaghetti. However, the Biella here in Doha doesn't use fresh tomatoes (canned only) and it is was a true disspointment to discover. So yesterday while I was wondering what to cook for dinner I decided to make my own version and let me tell you I will never be ordering that dish from Biella again! The sauce is really easy to make and is a nice light healthy dish for supper.


I think Matt was slightly concerned that he wasn't receiving any kind of meat with his meal last night but once he finished my pasta dish he said it was amazing and would definitely recommend me serving at our next dinner party! I could not have asked for a better compliment from my carnivore husband!


Ingredients


6 Roma Tomatoes (I used 10 as the tomatoes at the supermarket yesterday were tiny!)
10 basil leaves (I had to make do with dried basil as there was no fresh basil available)
1 garlic clove
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
400g fresh pasta (fresh pasta is best used here rather than dried)




Preheat oven to 200 degrees (400 F). Put the tomatoes on a baking tray and roast until the skins are beginning to blacken all over. This took approximately 1 hour in my oven.





Put the whole tomatoes including the charred skin and any juices into a food processor or blender with basil, oil, garlic, sugar & balsamic vinegar. Blend to form a thick sauce, thinning the mixture with a little warm water if necessary. Toss the sauce through warm fresh pasta and serve with grated parmesan cheese.


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Matt's Birthday Cake!




Tomorrow is my gorgeous husbands birthday and I promised him that I would make him a chocolate cake from scratch! The reason it has to be from scratch and not from a box or a bakery is due to the following:

In a few days Matt and I will have been together for 5 years. We met at a friends wedding in Vanuatu and the instant I met him I knew he was the man I was going to marry. There was no other option for me than to make sure that he felt the same way! As they say a way to a mans heart is through his stomach! So this weekend marks the anniversary of my infamous BBQ! My friend Gaby (the Bride whose wedding we met at) and I decided that we were going to host a BBQ at my house and invite Matt along. Gaby’s and Matt's respective birthday are 2 days apart so I decided what a nice idea it would be to bake a chocolate cake! Truth be told I just couldn't be bothered making it from scratch so made one from a packet however, Matt was none the wiser...or so I thought. And there I was trying to win this man over by taking full credit for the moist, rich chocolate cake when all I did was serve him a plate full of delicious lies. It wasn't until about a year later that Matt told me that he had seen the empty cake box in the rubbish bin and knew full well I hadn't made it from scratch!!

Since that day I haven't made Matt a birthday cake as we have always gone out to celebrate. However, this year I did it! I made a birthday cake from scratch! And I have been so selfless in this act because I haven't even been able to eat any of the cake. I have made this cake for Matt to take to work tomorrow to share with his staff. If this is not the act of a Domestic Goddess then I don't know what is!

So in honor of the worlds most amazing husband and father...I give you my Chocolate Cake!

Happy Birthday Matt, I love being your wife and being the mother of our beautiful Lady Sadie and I hope to make hundreds more birthday cakes for you...all from scratch!

Ingredients

250g softened unsalted butter
225g (1 cup) caster sugar
3 lightly beaten eggs
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract (the best you can afford)
4 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
150g (1 1/4 cups) self-raising flour


Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Grease and line a 23cm (9 in) spring-form tin. Beat butter and caster sugar in a mixing bowl or electric mixer. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla. Continue mixing and gradually fold in the cocoa and self-raising flour. 


Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. 


 Turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool. When the cake has cooled, transfer it to a serving plate and decorate with icing.



Chocolate Butter Cream Icing

250g unsalted, softened butter
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/3 cup milk
1 cup dark cocoa powder

Using an electric beater, beat the butter until white as possible. Beat in the sugar and milk alternately, beginning and ending with sugar. Fold in the icing sugar and cocoa and beat until smooth and creamy.



The result, a rich, moist chocolate cake made from scratch but most importantly made from love!



Monday, 22 March 2010

Chicken Sang Choy Bow





I grew up on Chinese food as my Dad is addicted to it! We would have both types of chinese food  every week; either eat in or take away. Our favourite Chinese restaurant is Lee's Fortuna Court for those who live in Sydney. Everyone knows my Dad at Lee's. He has ordered pretty much the same dishes for as long as I can remember. 

My parents have travelled extensively throughout China a number of times. I remember my Dad calling me on his first visit to tell me that even though the food in China was good it was never as good as Lee's. My husband and I have lived in Melbourne, Abu Dhabi and now Doha and we have tried to find a restaurant as good as Lee's but unfortunately never have! Although that has never deterred my Dad from trying different Chinese restaurants wherever he travels! 

So tonight in honor of the man I adore I decided to make Chicken Sang Choy Bow. It is very easy to make and takes no time at all. It is also a great light meal for those summer nights when you never feel like anything too heavy. This obviously would also be a great appetizer option for a dinner party especially an Asian themed dinner party.

The meal was delicious and definitely something that I will make again and again. I'm not quite sure if it's up to Lee's standards but it will hold up well in the Derrig household!


Ingredients
1 large iceberg lettuce
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 green onions (spring onions, scallions, shallots) finely sliced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
500g chicken mince (you could also use duck, pork or mince)
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
230g can water chestnuts, drained & chopped
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves




Method


Select six lettuce leaves and trim if necessary with scissors to make large cups. Place in a large bowl filled with iced water to crispin.




Heal oil in a wok on high. Stir-fry green onion and ginger for 1-2 minutes.




Add chicken mince and cook for about 5 minutes, until colour changes. Add hoisin, soy sauce, sesame oil and water chestnuts and continue to stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes. Finally stir through coriander and serve immediately.






And the result...


Apologies for the poor quality of photos. These were taken with my iPhone as my SLR needed to be recharged!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Marinated Grilled Lamb Chops

Whenever I go grocery shopping, I always have my trusty list in hand. However, without doubt, I always throw things into the trolley that look appetizing and think to myself that I will eventually make something out of said ingredient. It so happened that late last night I was cleaning out my freezer and there at the back were some lamb chops that were screaming to be marinated! I remember buying the chops a couple of weeks ago because they were Australian, looked to be really good quality and were well priced. But when I got them home I threw them in the freezer and forgot about them!


I put the chops in the fridge to defrost over night and went to bed thinking of a new marinade I could make instead of the normal store bought BBQ marinade that I normally use.


So this morning, while listening to Sadie chatting happily to herself while slurping up her cereal, I thought what is a better duo than lamb and mint! When you make a lamb roast you invariably have a jar of mint sauce on the table. So I googled mint marinade and there were many different options, so I took what I liked best about these recipes and meshed them together to make my own.  


Now to my two side dishes. We are a one car family at the moment as we await the arrival of my much missed 4WD from Abu Dhabi. So while Matt had the car today I had to rely on whatever was in the house for sides. Luckily I had some potatoes and fresh rosemary and some frozen beans; easy! What could go better with lamb than roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlic beans?


I will confess that tonight I used dried mint as I didn't have any fresh mint leaves however I am a big advocate for "fresh is best" but I do keep many dried herbs in my cupboard for just in case emergencies!


Dinner tonight was a taste sensation! There was not much talking tonight at the dinner table as Matt, Sadie and I devoured the delicious, juicy tender meat. And I now know this recipe will become a family favourite and frequently requested dish. I'm hopeful that Sadie will love it so much that she will want to learn how to make it one day for her own family as I have learnt from my mum.


Roasted Rosemary Potatoes


7 x baby chat potatoes
2 x sprigs of fresh rosemary
Sea Salt
Olive oil




On a baking tray place your potatoes and top with rosemary. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt. Bake in a hot oven (200 degrees celcius) for approximately 40 minutes or until the potatoes are a golden colour and a knife can pierce through easily.


Marinated Grilled Lamb Chops


4 x lamb chops
2 x garlic cloves minced
2 x table spoons rosemary chopped
2 x table spoons mint leaves chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper



To marinade, place chops in a large mixing bowl. Combine garlic, rosemary and mint and sprinkle over the chops. Pour the wine over the chops and season with sea salt and black pepper. Let the chops marinate for at least 2 hours. I do suggest either marinating all day or over night. The longer you marinate the more tender and juicy your meat will be.


Allow your grill pan to become smoking hot. Place your chops on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes on either side. The lamb will be on the rarer side however, you could grill longer if you prefer your meat more well done.

The garlic beans were super easy. Place beans in a microwave safe container and add some minced garlic and water. Microwave according to packet instructions. They do taste better if you also add some butter but we are watching our weight in the Derrig household so I omitted the butter tonight.



Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Home Made Pizzas

My previous recipes were ones that I had done a thousand times before so there was no real challenge for me. However, today, I set out to make pizzas from scratch and yes it was challenging and scary! And I probably won't be making pizza dough from scratch ever again!

I love pizza and not the Pizza Hut kind but more the gourmet pizza with simple toppings, no fuss but still utterly delicious!

About 10 years ago my friend Sarah and I went back-packing throughout Europe. One of our first stops was Italy. Naples was our first city - the home of Pizza! With our trusty Lonely Planet guide in hand, Sarah and I found in the tiny cobbled streets of Naples.... the pizzeria who claimed to have invented pizza! Well this was our lucky day. We both ordered our own; I think from memory mine was a margherita and I can't remember what Sarah ordered. Nonetheless,  I do remember we were both bitterly disappointed. The bases were too gooey and the toppings too watery. However we didn't give up on our quest to find the perfect pizza. There is a Pizza Hut equivalent in Italy and I remember it being called Spizico Pizza (however I could be wrong!). Anyway, Spizzico Pizza has been, to date, the best pizza I have ever had! I think Sarah and I ate there for lunch pretty much everyday!!! My favourite topping was potato and so today I tried to recreate the taste of a Spizzico Pizza.

I admit that my pizza toppings were delicious however my pizza base was a little too dry and a little too thin and crispy for my liking. I'm not entirely sure where I went wrong. Did I knead the dough too much? Was there not enough dough to go around? Who knows but I am adamant that I will never make pizza dough again! In future I will buy pre-made pizza bases and make my own toppings as they were truly delicious!

So below I have listed my recipes for Pizza Patate (not misspelt, it's Italian) and Pizza Margherita. If anyone tries this pizza dough recipe and has some success, please let me know how you did it!!


Basic Pizza Dough


15g dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
4 tablespoons warm water
2 cups plain flour (plus extra for kneading)
1 egg
2 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 tsp sea salt
A splash of olive oil


Place the dried yeast into a small bowl and add the sugar and water. Lightly stir to combine. Set aside for 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture starts to froth.




Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the egg, milk, sea salt and yeast mixture. Gradually work the ingredients together to form a stiff dough.



Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Oil a large bowl with a little olive oil and put the dough in it. Rub a little oil over the dough before covering it with a damp cloth. Put the bowl in a warm place for 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.




Divide the dough in half and roll it out on a floured surface. Put the dough into two oiled baking trays and add your toppings.




Margherita Topping


400g tin Roma (plum) tomatoes
250g cheese of your choice (I used a mix of mozzarella, bocconcini & parmesan)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (400f). Drain and finely chop the tin of tomatoes. Put the tomatoes in a saucepan with olive oil and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes are no longer watery. Allow to cool.  




Spread the tomato evenly over your pizza base. Season with a little sea salt and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with cheese and continue to bake until the cheese has melted. 




Potato Topping


4 medium sized potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary (fresh is best!)
Sea salt 


Peel and finely slice the potatoes. 




Arrange the slices over your pizza base and drizzle liberally with extra virgin olive oil. Scatter with rosemary and sprinkle with sea salt. 




Bake for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and crispy.


Saturday, 13 March 2010

Potato Salad




Ok, so tonight we have been invited to a BBQ in our compound. Our neighbours are Pakistani/French and Afsheen is an amazing cook.  I was excited at all the new things I was going to try tonight. However, this afternoon after popping around to see if she needed any help I found out that a Pakistani/French BBQ is the same as an Aussie BBQ...lots of steaks, hamburgers and sausages however, instead of copious amounts of wine and beer it will be copious amounts of juice!

As a thank you gift to our hosts I have decided to make my all time favourite potato salad. 

This recipe is a beauty because it doesn't have the heavy calorie laden creamy dressing that so many potato salads have. In fact this version is nice and healthy and chock full of fabulous herbs and flavours like dill, lemon and parsley. 

It is dead easy to make and the result is a delicious, tangy, hearty salad that brings to mind the joys of Spring! The smell in your kitchen while chopping the dill and parsley will make your mouth water!

The original recipe called for large potatoes however, I have used chat (baby) potatoes in my version as they are cute, easy to prepare and I think have a slightly sweeter taste.

Oh and the best thing about this salad...if there are any left overs it tastes great in a crusty bread roll with some ham or chicken!

Enjoy!


Ingredients

14 chat (baby) potatoes 
1 bunch of dill
1/2 bunch of flat leaf (italian) parsley
1/2 cup of good olive oil (buy the best that you can afford)
The zest and juice of 1 lemon



Simple fresh ingredients



METHOD

Place the potatoes in cold salted water, bring to the boil, once the water is boiling cover with a lid. Turn off the heat and let the potatoes rest for 1/2 hour. This will cook the potatoes without making them soggy and water logged.


While the potatoes are resting, prepare your dressing. In a mixing bowl combine spring onions, parsley, dill, lemon zest and juice, and finally olive oil. I also like to season my dressing with salt and pepper but this is up to you.



Drain the potatoes and add to your dressing. Toss gently and arrange in serving dish. 



 The result...a delicious side dish fit for BBQ, picnic, girlie lunch or anything else that tickles your fancy!