Monday, August 22, 2016

Chicken Fried Rice

Today I'm going to share with you a much loved recipe. This one packs a lot of flavour and comes together easily. Most of the work involved actually is prepping the veggies. And yes, this fried rice has more than its fair share of veggies, which makes it quite nutritious. If you've never made fried rice at home before, I urge you to try it out. You'll ditch the take-out version for the home made one instantly.

What I also like about this fried rice is you can pretty much use whatever you have on hand. You can switch up the veggies. I almost always use onion, spring onion, capsicum and carrot. I also add zucchini, snow peas, cabbage and baby corn if I have any of them on hand. The same is the case with the protein. Almost always I use a little bacon for flavour and some egg. Then I either use prawns, shredded chicken and sometimes even ham depending on what I have available at the time. So like you see, this fried rice is one of those meals you can put together almost any day of the week, even when your grocery run is due the next day. Apart from cooking the rice, it comes together in one pan - I now use my wok and love it.

This is the quickest way I find to get this on the plate. Soak my rice and when the rice is soaking and cooking, I prep my protien and veggies. When everything is ready, the final dish takes about 10 minutes tops to put together. Its one of my favourite quick and easy weeknight meal options. I tend to add a lot of vegetables and I like it that way, you could drop the quantity of vegetables to suit your liking. This is just a guide to making this fried rice and the quantities are suggestions. Go with what you think you'll enjoy and adjust to your liking.



Chicken Fried Rice
Serves 3 (as mains)

1 cup basmati rice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 birdseye chilly (optional - we enjoy hot food but you can leave it out if you dont)
3 spring onions
1 red pepper
2 carrots
6-8 green beans
A handful of finely sliced cabbage (about a cups worth)
2 eggs
3 rashers of bacon (I used streaky bacon)
A cup of shredded chicken (you could used poached, roast, or rotisserie chicken)
A couple of tablespoons of oil (vegetable, olive or sunflower or any other cooking oil of your choice)
1 tsp sesame oil
Salt, to taste
Lemon/ sour lime juice, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Approx. 1 tbsp soy sauce (I use salt reduced soy)
1 tsp rice wine vinegar

Rinse the rice a couple of times and drain. Soak in fresh water at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes.

Bring a pot of water to the boil (just like you would for pasta). Add a spoon of salt to the water and carefully add the rice. Cook the rice till almost done (al dente). Don't cook the rice through as it will turn mushy once you add it to the wok.

Drain the cook rice and using a fork lightly loosen the grains and leave to cool.

In the meanwhile, clean and chop all your vegetables. I like to chop mine in like sized pieces. You could julienne everything or slice it on the diagonal into little chunks. (I will try and get a picture of the chopped up veggies when I make this next, I was in a hurry this time and forgot.)

Dice the bacon rashers and keep aside.

Keep all your ingredients handy. The trick to cooking a delicious fried rice is to cook it on a high heat and cook it quickly.

Heat your wok or pan. Add a little cooking oil to the pan. Crack 2 eggs in a bowl, add a little salt and lightly whisk. Now either make a plain omlette and cut into chunks or a plain scramble. Take the egg off the pan and keep aside.

Next step is to fry off the bacon. Add a little oil if needed and tip the cut bacon into the work and let it cook a little and add some flavor to the pan. Dont cook till crisp. You just want the ends to start changing to a light brown. Now add the garlic and chilly and saute till it gets fragrant.

Add the sesame oil and then tip in the diced pepper and the rest of the veggies and stir fry on high heat till they cook off a little. You still want them to have a little bite.

Add the chopped spring onions.

Add a light sprinkle of salt and some freshly cracked black pepper.

Add the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar and stir to let it coat the veggies. Please adjust the sauce to suit your liking.

Tip in the chicken and egg and stir well to incorporate.

At this stage add the rice to the wok and gently mix everything but mix thoroughly. I use a spatula and a pair of chopsticks to do this.

Once the rice has warmed through, serve hot and top with finely sliced spring onion greens to garnish and if you're feeling particularly adventurous, some finely sliced fresh chilly.

Enjoy piping hot.

**Leftovers warm up really well the next day too.






Wednesday, August 3, 2016

2-minute Chocolate Chip Mug Cake ... bonus SRC post

So like I promised on SRC reveal day here, here is the bonus post from my assigned blog.

We recently moved houses and while I didn't have a microwave in the previous place, this place came with a microwave. I've have wanted to add a few microwave recipes on the blog for some time now, but I really didn't want to buy one to do this. Now microwave cooking is not my method of choice. But I believe that anyone should be able to enjoy home made food. I know that there are folks out there that don't own an oven so here's how you can make small portions of cake at home without an oven. I have shared one recipe before for a 2 minute chocolate mug cake. We enjoyed it a lot. And looks like you did too. It is one of the most popular posts on the blog. I know, right? Who would've thought that a humble microwave cake recipe would be this popular. Certainly not me. So while I was looking at posts on Burnt Apple, I spotted this 2-minute mug cake recipe.

Now this may come as a little bit of a surprise to you, but this was also meant to be a chocolate cake recipe. The original recipe uses chocolate chips and I followed the recipe to the letter but I didn't end up with a chocolate cake but something more like a layered cake. The top was a plain sponge but as you dig in you see little specks of chocolate from the chocolate chips and right at the base of the mug you will find this ooey-gooey molten chocolate. Totally not intentional, but pretty darn amazing. Also, did I mention that this is like an instant cake fix. That's the part I really love. Another plus is the portion control. These are individual serves, so you really can't go overboard. I was very pleased with this happy little accident. I think I might have to look for a few more such recipes.




2-minute Chocolate Chip Mug Cake

(This makes one portion. Feel free to double the recipe to make two portions.)

3 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp chocolate chips


Place all the ingredients in a microwave safe mug.

Stir the mix till smooth.

Microwave on high for 90 seconds. (This was the recommendation of the original recipe. I had to keep mine in for another 60 seconds. Every microwave is different, so please check at the 90 seconds mark and use 30 second increments, if needed.)

The cake will be scalding hot. Let it stand for 2-3 minutes before eating.

For a slightly more indulgent treat, serve with a scoop of ice cream or with some whipped cream.

Enjoy!


The deeper your spoon goes, the more chocolate you find :)





Sunday, July 31, 2016

SRC: Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Hello everyone and welcome to our August installment of the Secret Recipe Club.  This month I was assigned Traci's blog, Burnt Apple. What a fun adventure looking through her blog was. She has so many recipes I want to try; and so many ingredients I've never worked with before. A lot of her recipes are healthier versions because Traci strongly believes in using whole foods and natural sweeteners, from what I've seen. That being said, it doesn't mean she doesn't have some fun recipes in there - check out these Bacon Cheddar Fries, Baked Churros, Crispy Cinnamon Raisin French Toast and this Baked Blueberry French Toast. I'm hoping to try these out sometime soon. But after a month of packing, moving, unpacking and settling in, while working full time. I needed something comforting and super simple. Something warm would be a bonus, because we are smack bang in the middle of winter. So, I decided to try out her Healthy Hot Cocoa Mix for reveal day. But that's not all. I have a bonus recipe, yup I made a second treat from Traci's blog that I will share later in the week.

So back to this mix. You wouldn't believe how easy this was. 3 ingredients in a bowl, mix everything together and store. Then you simply store as needed. Traci used a healthier sweetener for her mix, but I used her basic version, using what I had on hand, which is why I'm calling it simply a Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix. I'm thinking this would make a fantastic present for Christmas, all dressed up - atleast for those of you who have a wintery Christmas. As for me and my husband, we are going to enjoy this right now. **slurrp**




Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup sugar (I will cut this down to 3/4 cup next time) (Adjust to your liking)
1 tbsp cornstarch

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl thoroughly.



Store in an airtight container.

To use, simply place 2 tbsp of the mix in a mug and top off with milk.

Either heat in the microwave for 60 seconds and then in 30 second increments till it is hot enough for you. Or simply heat in a saucepan on the stovetop on a low heat, till it is hot enough for you.

... and ofcourse, every hot chocolate is better with some marshmallows :)



Don't forget to check out what other bloggers in Group A have whipped up for this reveal!


Sunday, July 3, 2016

SRC: Carrot, Cumin & Tomato Soup

Okay, so it's time for the July edition of SRC. The last month has just whizzed by. Its been a huge whirlwind of activity. We've had to hunt and finalize another place to move into as our current lease is almost done. That, along with a full time job that sometimes feels more than a full time job has taken over the last month. I haven't had time to do much else. But I did do this assignment for today's reveal. And it was so very good.

For this month's SRC assignment I had Karen's blog, Lavender and Lovage. If you haven't visited Karen's blog yet, you should, you really should. Karen is a freelance writer and recipe developer who toggles between Yorkshire and France. These influences on her food is evident. Her blog is gorgeous and she has one of the most delicious recipe lists I've come across. I literally wanted to make every second recipe I saw, if not every single one. I was torn between these perfect Scotch Eggs, these super comforting Beer Battered Fish and Chips and this gorgeous Dark Sticky Double Gingerbread. I still intend trying all of these but I needed something that was not too fussy, but was still delicious and comforting. So when I saw Karen's recipe for the Carrot, Cumin and Tomato Soup, I knew I had found a winner. I had the carrots and tomatoes on hand. All I had to do was pick up a little cream and croutons of some sort. I got some bagel crisps and they were beyond perfect. This soup is so easy to make and with just a few basic ingredients, its hard to believe how delicious and hearty it turned out. Thanks Karen, this is a soup I know I will make often.

I stuck with the original recipe, except I halved it, since I was cooking for just the two of us .The only tiny change I made was I used fresh coriander leaves as a garnish instead of the parsley used in the original recipe.


 

Carrot, Cumin & Tomato Soup
Serves 3-4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 carrots, diced
4 tomatoes, sliced
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 litre of vegetable / chicken stock
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
A couple of tbsps. cream, to top of the soup bowl (optional)
Fresh coriander leaves, for garnish
Bagel crisps, or any other croutons of your choice

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic and onion and stir fry till the onions have softened and slightly browned.

Add the cumin powder, tomatoes and carrot and saute for a minute.

Cover the pot and let it all cook for about 5 minutes till the tomatoes get a little mushy and the cumin is nice and fragrant.

Add the hot stock and stir well.

Season with salt and pepper.

Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 30 minutes or till the carrots are cooked through and are nice and tender.

Let it cool a little and then carefully blitz the soup using an immersion blender or a regular blender.

Serve up with some croutons and garnish with a drizzle of about a tablespoon of cream and fresh coriander leaves.

Enjoy!!!


Don't forget to check out what the other blogger's in Group A whipped up for today's reveal.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

SRC: Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Hello all! Welcome to the June edition of the SRC. Is it really June already? Wow! This year seems to be flying by at record speed. But it is always exciting, prepping and posting for reveal day. This month I was assigned Laura's blog "Mother Would Know". This month things were a tad different for me. I knew which recipe I was going to make in less than five minutes after I received my assignment. I think for me that's a new record. How did that come about? I saw a recipe that I'd wanted to try for a very long time about 4-5 years ago. It was almost an obsession. But due to non availability of the core ingredient, I had to focus on other recipes instead. A lot has changed since then. We moved to a different country on another continent and are thrilled to call it home. This lovely land comes with so much diversity, it threw open a whole plethora of ingredients to play with.

It all started when during one episode of Masterchef Australia, I saw a participant make an avocado chocolate mousse. Since then I've always wanted to try it out. So when I saw Laura's recipe for Avocado Chocolate Mousse, I knew I had found the one. Previously I had no access to avocados. Now I do, so that was one hurdle less for me. I pretty much had the rest of the ingredients in at hand so it was an easy choice for me. I am also very eager to try a few other recipes from Laura's blog, like these Individual Strawberry Shortcake Biscuits, these delicious Cronuts, these indulgent Nutella Espresso Cookies, an intriguing Apricot Hamantaschen and her Granita.

For now, lets talk about this Avocado Chocolate Mousse shall we. My husband is a big fan of chocolate mousse - a great big one! This version is quick and easy to make and has a fantastic texture just like the original version and can be served up almost immediately. This recipe is fantastic if you want to whip up a delectable dessert for last minute company. Or if you don't care for the egg in a mousse. Yes, you heard me. This is an eggless chocolate mousse. I added a little brandy at the very end and mixed it through for an adult version of the dessert. But you can leave it out if you are going to be serving it to children. Or go wild and think of the number of variations you could come up with by substituting the brandy with your favorite liqueur.




Avocado Chocolate Mousse
Serves 4

1 ripe avocado
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (the original recipe calls for light but I didn't have any)
2 tbsp semi sweet chocolate, melted
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 pinches of salt
1/2 cup heavy / whipping cream
1 tbsp brandy

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a bigger bowl of simmering water. The small bowl should sit snugly over the bigger bowl of water but not make contact with the water. (This is what they call the double boiler method.)

Whip the cream in a separate bowl till stiff peaks form.

In another bowl mix the avocado, cocoa powder, sugar, melted chocolate, milk, vanilla and salt. Use an immersion blender and blitz till you are left with a smooth, luscious pudding-like consistency.

Gently fold the cream through the chocolate mix till incorporated well. Do not overwork the mix or you will loose all the lightness in the cream.

At this stage, I added the brandy and gently folded through.

Cover and refrigerate. You could also portion out the mousse into individual portions and cover the bowls and refrigerate.

Since most of the ingredients used are at a cooler temperature anyway, you should be able to serve this mousse very soon.

Top with berries of your choice, if desired.


Monday, May 30, 2016

The best Baked Cheesecake ever

Those of you who follow my blog posts will know that my recipe titles which are normally my post titles usually never make lofty claims. This time it just had to be done. I believe, yes, truly believe that I have come across the best cheesecake recipe.

Let's go back to where it all began, shall we! My husband and I were sitting one evening and watching the latest season of Masterchef Australia (one of my favourite food shows) and it happened to be a Masterclass episode. I'm so stoked they brought back the Masterclass episodes this year. I felt quite cheated out of them last year. Anyway, Matt Preston was making a baked cheesecake. We love cheesecake in our house. So we were very keen to check this masterclass out. Long story short, we loved the way his cheesecake turned out and decided that we would try it sometime soon.

Now I didn't know how soon "soon" would actually be. I figured it would be a while before I got a chance to make one of them. Turned out, my husband had other plans. The following Saturday while I was at work (yes, unfortunately I do work some weekends), he actually went to the shops and picked out all the ingredients for the cake and had it prepped by the time I got home from work. We popped it in to bake and then in the fridge to set. After dinner that day we were both anxious to see how it turned out. It was HEAVENLY. Soft, creamy, beautifully flavoured with a fantastic crust. We we both very, very pleased with the way this cheesecake turned out and I can happily say that this will now be my go-to recipe for a baked Cheesecake. Thank you Matt Preston! and thank you Masterchef Australia!



Baked Cheesecake

For the base - 
1 packet of Granita biscuits (250g pack) (if you can't find Granita biscuits, you can use Digestive biscuits instead)
60g sugar
75 g butter, melted

For the filling - 
750g cream cheese, at room temperature
230g or 1 cup caster sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
300ml double cream

Preheat the oven to 175ÂșC.

Line a 23cm spring form cake tin with baking paper.

Double wrap the outside of the cake tin with extra wide aluminium foil. This is to make the tin water tight to ensure that water from the little water bath you will create for the cake, doesn't seep into the cake.

For the base, blitz the biscuits in a food processor till you get crumbs. Add the sugar and blitz again for a couple of seconds till its mixes well. Add the unsalted butter and blitz again to combine.

At this stage, your base mix should resemble coarse wet sand.

Press the mix into the bottom of the prepared cake tin, spreading it out with the back of a large wooden spoon to even it out.

Bake for 10 minutes till lightly brown and set.



Remove the tin from the oven and set aside to cool. This base should be completely cooled before you add the filling.

For the filling, place the cream cheese in a stand mixer and using a padding attachment beat till smooth and creamy.

Add the sugar and beat till the sugar has completely dissolved.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition and make sure the egg is fully incorporated in the mix before adding the next one.

Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract and salt and mix until well combined.

Now add the cream and mix until well combined.



Pour the mix over the cooled base. Set the cake tin in the middle of a larger roasting tray or larger baking dish. You want to ensure your roasting tray / baking dish has high sides. Set this on the middle rack of the oven.



Carefully, fill the roasting tray with boiling water upto a 2 cm height and bake till the cake has set and the top is a little golden brown. This should take about 65 minutes.

Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside the oven to cool with the oven door closed.

Then take the cheesecake and leave to cool completely.

Cover it and pop it into the fridge to cool a little and set further.

Serve with fresh berries if desired. But even by itself, the cake is so good you'll be glad you baked it.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I'm finally back to blogging! If you've been wondering where I've been over the last few weeks, I've been right here but I've had my laptop die on me. It was a real task recovering the data on it and getting back to doing this. But thanks to my wonderful husband, I've recovered most of it. And now finally have access to it. Still don't have my trusty laptop, but the family computer works fine for now.

So to ease back into the flow of things, this will be a quick post. The recipe also is a quick one, super simple to make. Infact, you can barely even call it a recipe, but the results are so very good, I will go ahead and post it here to share with you. If you haven't tried out sweet potato fries yet, trust me, you really should. Even my beloved husband, who doesn't care much for the sweet potato (he calls it a sweet mush / baby food), loved it and actually requests for these fries every once in a while.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind here. You could peel the potatoes, but I leave the skin on. Just give it a good wash and scrub and you are good to go. Also, size of the fries will make a difference. The thicker you cut it, the longer it will take to cook. The thicker sized fries will still be soft and fluffy. If you are like me and love a little crunch in your life,  cut the fries thin. It cooks quicker and caramelises a little and is super delicious, not to mention perfectly crunchy.

This fries are a much more healthy version that the regular potato fries and are great either as a snack or as a side to a big roast dinner or holiday meal too.



Sweet Potato Fries

1 large sweet potato, washed
Salt, to taste
Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste
A drizzle of olive oil (about 1 tbsp)

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Cut the sweet potato into fries.

Drizzle a little olive oil on a baking tray.

Place the sweet potato, salt and pepper on the tray and toss to make sure everything is well coated. You can add a little more olive oil if needed.

Arrange the potato pieces in a single layer.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning the pieces once at the halfway mark.

Keep an eye on your oven from time to time. It may not need as long in your oven. Also this time will depend on the size of the pieces. So keep an eye on it the first time you make this.

When it is done to your liking, take it out of the oven.

Serve hot and enjoy!