Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mustardy chicken with roast vegies

This dinner gets rave reviews from hubby and kids, and has made my 7 year old son addicted to mustard (after school yesterday he had fresh bread spread only with mustard!). It is a recipe from the CSIRO Wellbeing Diet, a very popular book in Australia right now. I like the recipes, though I disagree with their suggestion for a very high consumption of red meat. I do eat red meat myself, but they recommend too much for my liking.

The chicken breasts covered with chopped tomato are baked (45 min at 180C) in a covered dish with 1/2 c chicken stock, 1/4 c white wine, 1 tablespoon mustard, garlic, and zest & juice from one lemon. In the same oven I bake cubed potato and pumpkin, tossed with olive oil and chopped rosemary. After baking, the mustardy juices from the chicken are quite thin, and I thicken them with a butter/flour roux. Served with a green salad.

Luscious tomato and capsicum soup

Another recipe from Jamie Oliver's "Happy Days with the Naked Chef" inspired by a tray of bought tomatoes and some of our own from the garden. Two capsicums are sauteed with lots of garlic. All the tomatoes are pureed in a food processor then added to the pan along with vegetable stock and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Cooked until rich and thick... and because we had some cream leftover from a dinner party, I added that in for a special treat. It looks very creamy in the picture, and indeed it was amazingly flavourful, served with nice bread and a salad. The recipe suggested putting pesto on top as well, but with the cream that seemed like too much.

Leftovers for lunch

Mmmmm leftovers. Stir-fried green beans with tofu. Stir-fried eggplant with lots of sesame oil. And a fresh salad from New Recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant: dress 4 cups grated carrot and lots of chopped fresh mint with 3 tablespoons canola oil, 3 tablespoon lemon juice, and dried coriander. Fresh and light.

Frozen strawberry yogurt

This frozen yogurt is from Jamie Oliver's cookbook Happy Days with the Naked Chef. I love his cookbooks ... he seems to be focussing on both kids and nutrition more lately which is great. Very simple recipe: 300 g frozen fruit + 500 g yogurt + honey to taste... whiz in food processor. The benefit of having the fruit frozen is that it has a slushy half-frozen texture right away. Hence an acceptable ice-cream substitute after walking the kids home from school past the grocery store which sells ice-cream. Here I have made it with frozen strawberries and a rich Jalna premium-dreamy-creamy vanilla custard yogurt and homemade strawberry jam for extra oomph. After a bowlful each, we popped the rest into the freezer for later treats.
I have some frozen raspberries in the freezer right now which are calling out to be made into frozen yogurt. I also would love to try this with frozen peaches or mango.

Brown rice pie

This rice pie is the one fool-proof way I can get brown rice and beans into my children... I guess the trick is all the cheese, eggs, and yogurt, as well as pinenuts. Alongside is a salad of silverbeet (called Swiss chard in USA I believe) with red capsicum and avocadoes. The silverbeet needs a "strong" salad dressing (lots of mustard or balsamic vinegar) because of the leafy flavour when raw. This salad was inspired by the cafe at my old workplace years and years ago... very finely shredded silverbeet with red onion and red capsicum slivers... very nice on a roll with roast beef.

Lunch salad

I often have these pre-packaged Mediterranean chickpea burgers for lunch. They have a lot of carrots and chickpeas, and are sweet and filling. Here I made it into a salad with baby rocket, sprouts, red capsicum, tomatoes, and the miniature beetroots we grow in our garden.

Hubby's favorite salad

I adapted this salad from the Fit for Life cookbook by Marilyn Diamond. I don't agree with a lot of her nutritional ideas, but she has great salad ideas. The salad dressing is quite yummy:
4 T canola or light olive oil
1 T sesame oil
2 teas rice vinegar
1/2 teas honey
2 T soy sauce
2 T lemon juice
fresh ginger: as much as possible
This makes enough salad dressing for about 1kg of fresh green beans, lightly steamed, and a couple of red capsicums, sliced thinly. I usually marinate the vegetables for a couple of hours in the dressing, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Ta-dah... happy hubby.


Every week this summer I have been buying a tray of stone fruit from our fantastic fruit and vegetable shop Wiffen's. This week we got half nectarines and half peaches. The peaches have been consistently better, though, and usually I've been getting peaches only to meet the demand for the "furry ones". I love peaches in my breakfast gemisch of fruit, yogurt, honey, muesli, and Brazil nuts.

The subject of peaches came up recently among some friends, and everyone else was moaning about their poor quality. But our family was surprised... we have had superb peaches this summer!! Except... the previous week I went to a different fruit and vegetable shop and indeed, I got TERRIBLE peaches and I resolved to always go to Wiffen's !!! The peaches were grainy and flavourless, and I decided that I'd have to make a pie with them. It was the most beautiful-looking pie I'd ever made... and then my husband dropped it on the ground, shattering it into a mess of peaches and glass shards. Sigh. I had to rein in my temper, however, as I have wrecked 5 of his coffeemakers in the decade of our marriage.

Salad nicoise for summer guests

This is a lovely dish to make in the summertime. I use good-quality Italian-style tinned tuna (in olive oil of course!). I drain the oil from the canned tuna to use in the vinaigrette, adding extra virgin olive oil to make 5 tablespoons, then adding 2 tablespoons lemon juice, garlic, a spoonful of mustard, and salt and pepper (thanks to Jamie Oliver for teaching me the universal ratio of 5:2 oil to liquid... works for all salad dressings, whether the liquid is lemon juice or vinegar or whatever). The baby rocket (arugula) was first tossed in a little of this vinaigrette and then laid down as a base. On top: boiled potatoes, the tuna, tomatoes, and boiled eggs. Usually I would also add briefly cooked green beans. Serve with gorgeous bread. Delish.

Pesto pasta with zucchini and chickpeas

Ooooh this was yummy. And it was a clean out the refridgerator special. While the pasta was cooking, I sauteed zucchini with lots of garlic, then added chickpeas and deseeded tomatoes. Usually I don't fuss about taking out the seeds in the tomatoes, but this time I wanted a fairly thick rich saute. Then I added salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil to finish. The pasta was drained and tossed with pesto, and served alongside the saute with grated grana padano cheese.