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Thai Chicken Burgers with Korean Slaw

Image 1It’s the first weekend of Dry July, so in an effort to keep busy and eat clean, I decided to make a healthy dinner (as opposed to lazily getting takeout as I am often guilty of on a Friday night, bottle of wine in tow).

This recipe is from the “detox” menu plan in Gwyneth Paltrow’s “It’s All Good” cookbook. By the way, I’ve tried a few of her recipes now and I must say, I am digging them! I had mine bun-free as I had already indulged in pizza, chips and cake today (oops) but you can have them on a gluten-free bun. These burgers were, as my friend Lauren would say, absolutely deeelish!

Thai Chicken Burgers

Serves 4

  • 500g minced chicken breast
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely minced
  • 2/3 cups coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped – I used spring onions
  • 1 tsp very finely minced red chilli – I used 2 small hot chillies
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan rock salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbs neutral oil (like canola, grapeseed or safflower oil)

Thoroughly mix the chicken with the garlic, coriander, shallots, red chilli, fish sauce, salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 4 burgers (I made 8 smaller ones).

Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Rub each burger on both side with a bit of the oil and grill for about 8 minutes on the first side and another 5 minutes on the second, or until nicely marked and firm to the touch.

Korean Slaw

Makes 2 cups

  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil – Next time I would use only 1tbs, it was a tad oily for my liking
  • 2 tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded cos lettuce
  • 3 tbs finely diced red red onion
  • 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced – I used spring onion
  • 3 tbs roughly chopped coriander
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice and fish sauce in a large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and allow the slaw to sit for at least 10 minutes and as long as 6 hours before serving.

Easy as!

I hope you enjoy the burgers as much as I did, and that you have a happy and healthy weekend! Rest relax rejuvenate xx

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Mexican Beef Tacos with Chimichurri Corn and Green Goddess Slaw

IMG_2154On the weekend my girlfriends and I had a takeaway picnic lunch in the park – to take advantage of the beautiful winter’s day, and really so we could all be selfish and have whatever flavours we felt like that day. I opted for Chinese (steamed chicken with rice and greens and lots of chilli) and my friend had Mexican. The few bites I snuck in were yummo and thus became my inspiration for tonight’s dinner.

This is a mix and match of a few recipes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s “It’s All Good”. I took a few liberties and improvised a little with what I had in my fridge. Next time I may be a little lighter-handed on the oil and salt, but that’s my personal preference (and it’s a little healthier), though my dinner amigo thought it was just delicioso as is.

Mexican Beef Tacos with Chimichurri Corn and Green Goddess Slaw

Serves 4 hungry fiesta guests

Mexican Beef

Rub some rump steaks with olive oil and Mexican seasoning (cumin, oregano, garlic, paprika, chilli, pepper) then BBQ for a few minutes on each side. Remove from heat, cover and leave to rest whilst you make the sides.

Chimichuirri Corn

  • 4 fresh ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Himalayan rock salt
  • 2 tbs Chimichurri (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

Remove the kernels from the corncobs. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet set over high heat and immediately add the corn kernels and a large pinch of salt. Cook, stirring now and then, until the corn is softened and takes on a bit of char around the edges, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the Chimichurri and chilli flakes. Season to taste.

Chimichurri

  • 1 packed cup Italian parsley
  • 1/2 packed cup coriander
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Himalayan rock salt

Pulse everything together in a food processor (I use a powerful blender like a Vitamix). Let it sit for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Mexican Green Goddess Dressing

  • 2/3 cup Greek yoghurt – I use Chobani No Fat. It’s got heaps of protein, zero fat and low in sugar (and non of the yucky added sugars)
  • 1/4 cup coriander
  • 2 scallions, which and light green parts only
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 jalapeno – I used a whole one, I like spicy
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan rock salt

Combine all the ingredients in a powerful blender and blitz until completely smooth. This makes a lot of dressing. If you don’t use it all, it will keep well in a jar for up to a week.

Slaw

  • 1/2 red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1/2 green cabbage, finely shredded

Combine in a large bowl and top with Green Goddess Dressing. Keep some dressing to the side for your hombres who like a creamier salad.

Now assemble! Layer all ingredients onto heated tortillas. Top with salsa, Tabasco, chopped chillies, extra coriander, big squeeze of lime.. whatever you like! That’s what makes Mexican so much fun to eat!

¡Buen provecho!

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We Be MasterCheffin’

Picture of Kale Avocado and Walnut Salad, Gluten-Free Vegetarian Lasagne & Grilled Corn and Haloumi Salad

Lunch is served!

As I recall, our MasterChef dinners were the brainchild of:

  1. An attempt to pinch pennies in the midst of the GFC, rather than squandering our hard-earned cash on lavish dinners out (tsk tsk, how irresponsible.. as if we would!!)
  2. Our regard for ourselves as quite the culinarians (or at least an attempt to foster our budding interest in cooking, inspired by the at-the-time-popular TV show “MasterChef”)
  3. A great way for all the girls to catch up mid-week (the dinners were usually a Thursday night affair), eating healthy home-cooked meals, without the temptation of wine and cocktail menus.

What really happened was:

  1. We spent more money on the actual ingredients for our dishes than if we had just gone out to our favourite local $10-a-dish Japanese eatery
  2. We each ended up BYO’ing a bottle of wine, which made for a pretty dismal Friday at work and lead-in to the weekend
  3. We all overate until we felt sick (but of course still had room for the selection of desserts – what? It’s a different stomach!).

All in all, a recipe for a fantastic time!

The rules were simple: Bring a dish from our nominated food-destination. During our journey, we visited France, Mexico, Spain, Greece, Christmas-in-July, to name a few..

It’s been a while since our last MasterChef, so when our friend offered to host us for a luncheon for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, we all leapt at the opportunity.

The theme this time was “BBQ Potluck”.

I chose a simple side from Donna Hay’s “No Time To Cook” cookbook. It’s the perfect accompaniment to roasted meats, chicken or fish.

Onion & Garlic Butter Beans

Combine 40g butter and 1 tbs olive oil and cook over medium-high heat in a non-stick frying pan. Add 2 sliced onions and cook for 5 minutes until golden. Add 4 cloves sliced garlic and cook of 1 minute. Add a 400g can drained and rinsed white (cannellini) or butter beans and cook for 4 minutes or until heated through. Stir in 150g baby spinach leaves, salt and pepper and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.

This recipe serves 4, so I doubled it. I was very generous with the Parmesan. Deliciously cheesey and garlicky! Next time I will add some dried chilli flakes for some colour and kick!

Picture of butter beans cooking

Simple one-pot side dish. The house was filled with the aromas of garlic – yum!

Picture of butter beans served

Onion & Garlic Butter Beans

Everyone did a great job and we had a splendid time! Now we just have to keep doing it and not leave it for another year! I just wish I got to wake up to a fridge full of leftovers!

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Home-grown lettuce from the garden

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Grilled corn and haloumi

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Grilled Corn and Haloumi Salad

Marinated drumsticks and steaks

Marinated drumsticks and steaks

We Aussies love a BBQ

We Aussies love a BBQ

Table is set

Table is set!

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Red roses, red wine & an array of condiments

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Kale Avocado and Walnut Salad & Gluten-Free Vegetarian Lasagne

My plate. First of three.

My plate. First of three servings.

Egg-Free Passionfruit Contintental Cheesecake to finish - delish!

Egg-Free Passionfruit Continental Cheesecake to finish – delish!

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Super Green Sprout Salad

Picture of a green salad with sproutsWell, mine is loosely interpreted and has added tuna (sorry to all strict greenies out there!)

Picture of super green sprout salad and tunaSome days you just don’t want to cook dinner. Especially when it’s late and you’ve just come home from a long day at the office. Long day or not, I’m a huge fan of the “assembled dinner”. Call me lazy.

That, coupled with my prerogative to use up what’s in my fridge (who can be bothered to go to the shops at 8pm, plus you save money and don’t waste produce), led me to try out this recipe I found on the Loving Earth website. I had radishes (which I rarely, but in this instance conveniently stocked), 2 yet-to-be opened containers of raw sprouts that needed to be consumed before they turned nasty (the longer you keep them the higher risk they become for E. coli and Salmonella), along with a very ripe avo that was begging to be used ASAP.

I followed the recipe as close as I could using whatever I had in my fridge and pantry.

For the Salad

  • A big handful of mesculin greens – I used oak lettuce
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 can of chickpeas – I used the raw sprouts (crunchy combo including chickpeas, lentils, mung beans and other goodness)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley – I used mint instead
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 3 radishes
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber
  • 1 tbs sesame seeds
  • 2 tbs activated pumpkin seeds – I didn’t have any so left these out
  • 1 tbs activated buckwheat – I substituted with leftover grilled corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup activated almonds – I didn’t have any of these either so I left them out. I would use insecticide-free almonds soaked overnight. No need to dry before eating. Just rinse and pat dry
  • Fresh sprouts to garnish

Method

  1. Cut broccoli into florets and steam until just tender – I blanched, it’s so much easier and less clean-up! 
  2. Thinly slice radishes and cucumber and place in a large bowl
  3. Add leafy greens and chopped herbs along with chickpeas and broccoli
  4. Slice avocado into squares and carefully fold through the greens
  5. Roughly chop nuts and seeds

For the Dressing

  • 2 tbs tahini – I use Flannery’s own brand unhulled
  • 1 tbs white miso paste – I didn’t have any so substituted with tamari
  • 2 tbs water – I used 3 tbs hot water
  • pinch of salt – I omitted as tamari is already salty

Method

  1. Whisk all ingredients together, taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly – I added cracked pepper, and next time would add some crushed ginger and garlic
  2. Pour the dressing over the salad, mix gently to coat
  3. Before serving, sprinkle the salad with the chopped seed mix, and add a good dose of sprouts to the side – I didn’t have any alfalfa but you can see from the picture what they mean. Next time I would also add a good squeeze of lemon at the end to bring out some freshness

This recipe is relatively high in fat (heart-healthy fats though), so feel free to reduce the amount of avo or dressing you use and substitute with some protein. If tuna doesn’t float your boat, try some grilled chicken or turkey breast, or tempeh if you are a herbivore. I used tuna as I already had it in my pantry. If you add all the nuts and dressing, canned chickpeas and buckwheat, you probably don’t need the extra protein. It’s very filling (and protein-ful) already. This recipe yielded two big salads.

Quick, simple, lean and green! Bon appetit!

Feature salad image credit to: https://lovingearth.net/recipes/super-green-salad-sprouts
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It’s All Good

I suppose when I look back at it, I have always had an interest in food, with the curiosity and focus on nutrition developing as I got into my late 20’s. Perhaps it’s the Asian in me (the Chinese love food) or maybe it runs in my family (I still remember as if it were yesterday, the summers I used to spend with my family in Sydney when I was very young. My mom would spend countless hours looking at produce, and my dad and I used to laugh at how she could be fascinated by the dead fish out on display at the Fish Market). Little did I know that I too would develop the same fascination!

So, after much encouragement from my friends (thank you!!), I have finally stopped procrastinating and have started this blog. I hope that it will help me explore and develop my passion for food styling, and that it will inspire you to get into the kitchen, try new things, eat and live healthily and happily.

I tossed up whether my first post should be based on someone else’s work, namely Gwyneth Paltrow’s newly released cookbook “It’s All Good”, but given that my philosophy about food (there’s a brief explanation in the About section) is very much aligned to that of her’s and that the book was delivered to my desk just in the nick of time for the weekend (gotta love online shopping), it seemed only fitting (and practical) that I road-test some of the recipes.

It's All Good Cover

Things I like about the cookbook:-

  1. Her philosophy on food – simple, clean, healthy.. delicious!
  2. That it is beautifully printed in hardback and on scrumptious paper delightful to touch
  3. Most recipes are pictured – I like to see what the end result is supposed to look like
  4. The menu plans included in the back – body builder, detox, family-friendly, vegan, everyday – making easy, healthy and delicious food accessible to everyone
  5. The explanations accompanying the recipes – tells us why the recipe has been included, why it’s good for us and little tips for the cook

A slight inconvenience in the book is use of Imperial measurements but I found this was easily overcome with Convert Units (free iPhone app) and the use of my probably not-so-finely-attuned guesstimation skills, but that’s okay, it’s all part of the fun.

Lamb Tagine with Squash & Chickpeas

(that’s Lamb Tagine with Pumpkin & Chickpeas for us in the Southern Hemisphere)

There were a few reasons for choosing this dish:-

  1. It’s getting colder which invites the coziness of warming and heartier meals
  2. The man in my life loves lamb
  3. I was given a tagine at Christmas two years ago and I haven’t had the chance to use it (I swear I’m not lazy, we just haven’t had the correct stove until recently!)
  4. The recipe calls for a marinade that needs to be prepared in a powerful blender which is something I’ve been wanting to try

There’s only two of us and the recipe feeds 4 to 6, plus my tagine is quite small, so I halved the ingredients and scaled down the cooking time (75% should do it).

I also took some liberties with the ingredients and made substitutions with whatever I had in my pantry. Also, the cookbook calls for a crockpot in the oven to slow-cook this meal. I have used a stove-top tagine instead.

Let's get started!

Let’s get started!

The marinade

Blend the marinade ingredients

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Green gorgeousness

Get your hands dirty!

Moosh in the marinade – get your hands dirty! Cover and set in the fridge for at least 6 hours

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Tagine essentials

Take the lamb out to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Brown the meat for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour

Add in the chickpeas and pumpkin

Add chickpeas and pumpkin. Simmer for 1.5 hours

Bon appetit!

Et voila! Delicious, melt in your mouth lamb. Top with coriander and preserved lemon. Bon appetit!

Gwyn's version

Gwyn’s version – and the ingredients list (click to enlarge)

Traditionally, tagines are served with cous cous. I served mine with white quinoa – a gluten free alternative, together with an Israeli salad (cucumber, tomato, red onion, garlic, parsley, mint, lemon juice and olive oil), but you can use anything you like:- millet, brown rice or even some warm crusty bread.

A delicious success! We had no leftovers to pack for lunch.

Stay tuned for more recipe reviews!

Book cover image credit to:
The Book Depository http://www.bookdepository.com/Its-All-Good-Gwyneth-Paltrow/9780349400839
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