Thai coconut chicken and noodle salad

Thai chicken noodle salad

 

Even though I enjoy cooking and count it as one of my hobbies/passions I, like everyone else, have days where I just really don’t feel like cooking. Whether it has been a long day at work, my neck is playing up (which has been the case for the last few weeks), or it is just a stinking hot day (which we get quite a few of here in Perth), there are days where I just don’t want to spend much time (if any) in the kitchen.

So I love finding recipes like this one that are full of flavour but require very little time or effort in the kitchen. This is a great recipe for summer when it is hot and you don’t want to warm the house up by using the oven/stove top for too long (you can use the bbq instead if you want). You can even ‘cheat’ and use bought roast/bbq chicken or leftover chicken. I have made this recipe both ways and it was just as tasty with bought roast/bbq chicken as it was marinading and cooking the chicken myself. Although the marinaded chicken is beautifully moist and tender.

I have adapted the recipe to add some green vegetables, but you can omit them or replace them with any you prefer. I also like adding a small amount of the coconut milk to the dressing, however this wasn’t in the original recipe and you can omit it if you prefer.

This is a great, flavoursome recipe. Filling while also being light and refreshing. Best of all, it takes hardly any time or effort to make. 

Click here for the recipe

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Meat free Monday – Mushroom Quinotto

mushroom quinotto 3

Risotto is one of my favourite dishes, especially in winter. I actually find the process of cooking a risotto (the repetitive action of adding the stock and stirring) quite relaxing, almost meditative. However, because Jerome doesn’t like risotto, I rarely cook it at home anymore and I usually only get to eat it at restaurants.

I was looking for a recipe to cook at a friend’s house this week for a cooking/DVD night when I found this recipe for mushroom quinotto. Although the method of cooking is quite different, the end result is reminiscent of a risotto, although the nutty quinoa adds a completely different flavour.

As usual, I changed the recipe quite a bit. My friend doesn’t like parmesan so we used goat’s cheese instead. I love mushrooms so I doubled the amount of mushrooms as well as adding in baby spinach for some more green. We also found we needed to add more liquid so we added some chicken stock as well.

The end result was surprising, satisfying and delicious. It was also great the next day for lunch. The creamy goat’s cheese went really well with the nutty quinoa. I will definitely be making it again.

Click here for the recipe

Prawn linguine

prawn linguine

My weekends at the moment are filled with Christmas baking and I find that when I am spending a lot of time baking sweet things I often forget to eat properly. I am so surrounded with the sweet smells (and tastes, as I have to check for quality!) of baking that I don’t always eat properly. Plus with all of my (limited) kitchen benches taken up with baked goods at different stages of the cooking process, it can be a hassle to clear it all away to prepare lunch or dinner.

So this weekend, before I started baking, I made a big batch of prawn linguine to last me for the weekend. I love prawns however Jerome doesn’t like them, so I rarely cook with them anymore. However he is currently away visiting his family for Christmas, so I can make as many prawn dishes as I want! The other night while I was trying to find something on TV, I saw this recipe on Better Homes and Gardens and it was exactly what I was looking for. It is quick and easy to make but delicious. I cut back on the amount of oil to make it lighter (I used more of the pasta cooking water instead to help the sauce come together) and added extra prawns. It was great reheated the next day as well. Make sure you have all your ingredients ready to go before you start, as this cooks in a flash.

Click here for the recipe

My failed cookbook challenge and a meat free Monday recipe – Mushrooms and Pearl Barley with Macadamia Bread Sauce

The books I have bought in the last 6 months
The books I have bought in the last 6 months

I have a confession to make. In April this year I set myself the challenge of not buying a new cookbook until I had cooked a recipe from five of my current cookbooks. It was going quite well for a few months and I also discovered the huge cookbook collection at the library next to my work, so I could borrow and look through as many cookbooks as I wanted, without buying them.

Then a couple of things happened. First, I went to France in June, and told myself a couple of very small regional cookbooks in French didn’t count as they were “souvenirs”. But that was only the beginning.

Then I went to the Perth Good Food and Wine Show in July, and I just couldn’t resist the chance to meet the cooks/chefs there and get a book personally signed (I owned some that I could get signed, but there were a few I didn’t have). Plus there were a few books on sale at the show (I mean, $10.00 instead of $50.00! What would you do?). And you never know what might happen, a few words with Maggie Beer about music/singing while she was signing my book (thanks Mum) and the next thing you know, she is calling up “Sarah who sings” to cook with her on-stage an hour later, and sending me home with a big box of her products!

Thanks Maggie!
Thanks Maggie!

I bought a few books over the next few months (always on sale), and then came the Margaret River Gourmet Escape a couple of weeks ago, where there was the opportunity to meet more incredibly inspiring and creative chefs, including Heston Blumenthal (who’s book I actually won in a competition a few months back, or I would have been buying one of his books too – you should have seen how excited I was when I found out I’d won a cookbook! Then actually getting it signed by Heston!!!).

So I have to admit that I failed my challenge completely. But I do now have another eleven signed cookbooks in my collection, more inspiration and hundreds of new recipes to try, as well as the memories of meeting these amazing Australian and international cooks and chefs that inspire me.

But moving on, it is time to try again. I think I have bought enough cookbooks to last me quite a while, so let’s see if I can cook through five of them before I even think about buying another cookbook. I can do this. After all, it’s almost Christmas and it doesn’t count if it’s a present…right?

So back to cooking. This is the recipe that convinced me to buy The Blue Ducks cookbook. By 5pm on the Saturday at the Gourmet Escape, I was starting to fade after a day in the sun, but looking through this book again (which was the last book signing of the day), I gave in and bought it. This recipe for Mushrooms and Pearl Barley with Macadamia Bread Sauce just jumped out at me and I had to try it. I have since found the recipe is on the SBS website here. But having discovered other recipes in the book I also want to try, I have no regrets.

I’m not sure about the bread sauce, I found it a bit too heavy and if I was to make it again, I would thin it down even more. But I liked using pearl barley instead of rice or couscous for a change, it was very filling and had a nice nutty flavour. I think I’ll try using it more in salads for work lunches.

pearl barley and mushrooms

Click here for the recipe

Stuffed butternut pumpkin with quinoa and goats’ cheese

Pumpkin stuffed with quinoa and goats' cheese

This was supposed to be my meat free Monday post last night, however by the time I got home from work (and the gym) and made dinner, I just didn’t feel like sitting in front of the computer. I curled up on the couch and read a book instead. So here it is, a day late.

Late last week and over the weekend I was celebrating my birthday.  After some lovely meals  (most of them at cafes and restaurants, except lunch with my family where my Mum cooked us lunch and baked me a cake) with my family and friends, not to mention a lot of baking over the past few weekends, I was in need of some simple, savoury (and hopefully a bit healthier) home cooking. A while ago I saw a recipe for stuffed butternut pumpkin with quinoa which I wanted to try, however I couldn’t find the recipe this weekend. So instead I set out to make my own. I was home alone Saturday night, so if it didn’t turn out there was only me to be disappointed and have to eat it!

I was really happy with the result. I was a bit worried about using mint and basil as I made it (they are two of my favourite herbs and it seemed like a good idea at the start), but they actually went really well in this dish. The goats’ cheese became a deliciously oozy, almost like a thick cheese sauce, and the quinoa added a nice nuttiness and texture. If you want some crunch you could add some pine nuts or breadcrumbs to the mix, but I was happy with it like this. Definitely a dish I will be making again. Jerome tried the other half the next night and enjoyed it as well.

If you are cooking quinoa, make sure you rinse it really well (until the water runs clear) before cooking. I have cooked it before without rinsing and it is very bitter. It makes a big difference to the final result! Also, while you are cooking it, why not make extra and use the rest to make a salad for lunches or light dinners? I cooked double the quinoa and to the extra I added more of the herbs and goats’ cheese, along with some roasted cauliflower and zucchini which I cooked at the same time as the pumpkin (though they didn’t take as long). It made a great lunch the next day.

Click here for the recipe

The Great Australian Bake Off Technical Challenge – Week 7 Breakfast Croissants

Croissants

Well it has taken quite a few weeks but I have finally recovered from a nasty illness. Apologies for my absence, but I haven’t been well enough to cook let alone blog. But I’m feeling a lot better so it is time to start catching up on the cooking, baking and blogging.

Week 7 of The Great Australian Bake Off (GABO) had the bakers making croissants. Traditionally croissants take a couple of days to make, however this simplified recipe only required half a day (about 4 hours). The results aren’t quite the same, but they were certainly recognisable as croissants and between rehearsals and work, I don’t have time to try the more traditional recipe at the moment. I made both full sized croissants and some smaller ones from the leftover dough. I think my larger ones needed a few more minutes in the oven, however the smaller ones were perfect…although I think the recipe needs a pinch of salt (I used unsalted butter).

Jerome’s verdict? Not bad for a first attempt.

However, they aren’t something I am going to make very often. Not because of the time involved, as most of that is waiting time when you can do other things, but because it is too dangerous having that many freshly cooked croissants in my house waiting to be eaten!

Just one more GABO challenge to go – La Religieuse

Click here for the recipe