Burmese Chicken Curry

Serves: 6

This is down the line a wonderful, aromatic and quite light curry.

It’s also moorish.

And it is simple to make.

Process the marinade, cook with the chicken, add the bay leaves, cinnamon and stock and reduce.

Simple.

To keep it healthy, substitute some cauliflower rice and you have a cracking weekday dinner.

And what a treat on a Monday night. Something to really look forward to on a cold, rainy Covid Monday which at the time of writing this up, we have plenty more of to go.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1kg chopped chicken thigh
3 tbsp light soy
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
600ml chicken stock

Method

  1. Process together the soy, turmeric, some salt and pepper, one of the onions, 3 cloves of the garlic, the ginger and the chilli powder. Pour over the chicken.
  2. Heat the oil, fry the remaining onion and garlic until transparent and then add the chicken and dry for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon and stir in the stock.
  4. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and then cover and simmer for an hour or until tender.
  5. Thicken the sauce by boiling, uncovered, at the end of the meal.
  6. Cauliflower rice – or the real deal if it’s that sort of night – and a glass of Pinot and you’re in business!

Ranch, Iceberg Lettuce Salad

Serves: 4 – 6

As soon as Covid hit Sydney, we purchased a Kamado BBQ.

They’re brilliant and I cannot recommend enough.

An ancient form of cooking in a ceramic egg, the heat retention is extraordinary. A pile of charcoal can last several BBQs.

You can cook at 60c, smoking away for a day or take it up to 450c to blast a tomahawk steak in literally minutes.

We’ve cooked pizzas and slapped naan on the roof. We’ve done amazing skewers of chicken tikka. Slow cooked ribs, slow cooked pork shoulder. Lordy.

It takes practice and I recommend one of the many WiFi/Bluetooth heat thermometers, though the theatre, the fun and of course, the incredible flavours make this a very good – and long-term – investment.

Being us, we have recreated a number of memorable meals we have had out. And being Covid, with so many of our favourite restaurants – and countries – closed, we had no choice.

One of our favourite Sydney restaurants is Gowings in the QT.

It is just a great dining room. Warm, buzzing, swift service, down-the-line great mains and great sides.

Nat served this salad from Gowings on one of our Kamado nights and it won the show.

It looks the part, it pairs perfectly with a steak, grilled chicken or a pork schnitzel: and you can prepare it ahead of time.

A bit of extra effort makes the restaurant. And restaurant-quality this is.

Ingredients

1 cup Greek yoghurt
1 garlic clove, grated
2 tbsp chopped spring onions or chives
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp vegetable stock powder (you can grate or chop a stock cube)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp yellow or Dijon mustard
6 rashes streaky bacon, cubed
Iceberg lettuce or 3x cos lettuce

Method

  1. Fry bacon until crispy.
  2. Whisk all dressing ingredients in a bowl to combine.
  3. Cut lettuce into 4-6 pieces and lay on a flat plate.
  4. Sprinkle bacon and dressing on top of lettuce.

Lamb Curry Kofte with Ginger Pilaf and Curry-leaf oil

Serves: 4

Don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t a great, great curry and rice.

Because it is.

So much so that even with recent meals at Sydney’s excellent Indu restaurant; Malabah and Dhakshin at Crows Nest, both institutions… you really just can’t beat an amazing home-cooked curry.

Indeed, following the Covid Crisis in Sydney, we really have changed our take on the restaurants that are worth it.

Cheap and cheerful pizza and Thai, yes, though anything in the mid-range that we can equal and beat, why do it?

Because this curry is so warm, so aromatic, you simply could not imagine a world where you had it served at any Indian restaurant in Sydney.

They could do it, though they don’t.

The curry leaves flash-fried in the ghee are just amazing.

So is the pilaf.

One of the very best I have ever had. Not exaggerating.

We have always loved a home-cooked long-lunch or a cracking dinner: three months locked up have accelerated this.

Paired with a beautifully, sublime curry like this Ajoy Joshi Chicken Curry or this Christine Mansfield 100 Almond Curry, people’s head’s will explode.

Restaurants have buzz, so pour your wine freely, turn up the music and make that same buzz.

Dining out just got a lot more homely.

P.S. Fresh turmeric can be found at any good fruit and veg shop.

Ingredients

Curry

2 tbsp ghee
2 red onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 cup each (firmly packed) coriander and mint
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 tsp finely grated fresh turmeric
3 long green chillies, chopped
2 long green chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp finely grated ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250hm thick plain Greek yoghurt
3 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp ground garam masala
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 c chicken stock
600gm minced lamb
Juice 1/2 lemon (to taste)

Ginger Pilaf

1 tbsp ghee
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 tsp finely grated fresh turmeric
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
3 c chicken stock
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

Curry-leaf oil

2 tbsp ghee
1 long green chilli, de-seeded and thinly sliced
2-3 fresh curry leaf sprigs

Method

Curry

  1. Heat ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onions and sauté until soft.. Add the fennel seeds for a minute. (10 minutes.)
  2. Process the whole coriander, mint, turmeric, the chopped chillies, half the ginger and half the garlic in a food processor to a paste. Add the yoghurt and sautéed onion and process until smooth. Return to the pan with half the spices and stir until fragrant (3 mins). Add stock, bring to a simmer and cook for the flavours to infuse (8 mins).
  3. Combine the lamb mince, finely chopped coriander and finely chopped chilli, remaining ginger, garlic and spices and season. Roll into golf ball-sized balls and add to the curry mixture. Simmer, turning the meatballs, until the sauce thickens. (You want a reasonably thick sauce.) Add the lemon juice and season to taste.

Pilaf

  1. For the pilaf, heat ghee in a saucepan over a medium heat; add the onion, ginger, turmeric and garlic and sauté until tender. Add rice, stir to coat, add the stock, season to taste and bring to the boil stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook without 9for 15 minutes.

  1. Remove from the heat, remove lid, place a clean tea towel over pan a replace lid. Stand for 10 minutes, then add lemon rind and juice and fluff with a fork.

Curry-leaf oil

  1. Heat ghee in a small saucepan over a medium heat; add the chilli and cook until starting to become crisp (1 – 2 minutes). Add the curry leaves and remove from the heat.

  1. Serve the meatballs with the ginger pilaf and drizzled with curry-leaf oil.

Rick Stein’s Lightly Curried Crab Mayonnaise with Lamb’s Lettuce

Serves: 4

We’ve booked our first holiday since the the government announced we could travel within the state: Rick Stein’s Bannisters at Port Stephens.

And we’re excited for plenty of reasons.

It is out first holiday since February. And we love holidays.

It’s Bannisters. We have loved staying at the two Bannisters at Mollymook and based on recommendations from friends, Port Stephens is just excellent.

We’re leaving the kids in Sydney. Love ya kiddies, though don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

And finally… Rick Stein. Enough said.

Obviously, first thing we did after booking the room was to book the restaurant. Because you just can’t beat Rick Stein at his best: fresh seafood, simplicity, from Indian to French.

So, for lunch today we chose a Rick Stein theme and kicked off with this number.

I was a little suspicious because a quick scan of the ingredients tells you it is possibly a little too simple, though the incredible simplicity is the point.

As we ate it, we couldn’t stop talking about just how wonderful it was. How simple, how French.

You could do a whole lot worse than whipping this up as a quick Saturday lunch. Or as a starter to a longer weekend lunch.

Ingredients

3 – 4 truss tomatoes
5 tbsp whole egg mayonnaise
1/2 tsp mild curry powder
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
500gm fresh white crabmeat
50gm lamb’s lettuce (I used Cos though much closer substitute is baby spinach)
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Fresh wholemeal bread, to serve

Method

  1. Skin the tomatoes by plunging them into boiling water for 20 seconds. As soon as the skins split, remove and cover with cold water to prevent further cooking. Peel off the skins, slice off the top and bottom and slice thinly.
  1. Put the mayonnaise in a bowl and stir in the curry powder, lemon juice and Tabasco. Fold this mixture lightly through the crab meat and season with a little salt.
  1. Overlap a few slices of tomato into the centre of 4 small plates and season them lightly with salt. Spoon some of the crab mayonnaise on top. Toss the lamb’s lettuce (or substitute) with the olive oil and a small pinch of salt and pile alongside.
  1. A crack of pepper and serve with some wholemeal bread.
Pork and Leek Sausages

Pork and Leek Sausages

Makes: 20 sausages

There certainly are a lot of corners to the Internet and sausagemaking.org is definitely one of them.

A very friendly, passionate one.

The forums aren’t updated particularly regularly, though enough that when I visit there are new recipes. And when one is added, there is plenty of advice.

Like the use of rusk in sausages. Where apparently, all pros use it.

Not as a wartime filler, though as a necessary accompaniment to any good sausage. Moisture retention and all that. You can buy rusk from the supermarket in biscuit form and food process it to dust.

Experience has also told me that pork sausages made from pork shoulder alone are not moist enough and you must add fat. 20% of the meat weight: so 1kg pork shoulder, 200gm pork fat which any good butcher can provide. (Or cut it from a pork belly.)

Adding rusk and the fat to these sausages was the revelation.

We are officially butchers.

And wow, aren’t these pork and leek sausages a great way to reach that distinction.

Ingredients

1kg pork shoulder
200gm pork fat
200gm leek
125ml water
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp sage (dried)
1/2 tsp ginger (we used fresh, though powdered is fine of course)

Method

  1. Cut the pork and pork fat into 3cm pieces.
  2. Cut the leek into 1cm cylinders and slowly cook in olive oil and some salt until soft.
  3. Combine the ingredients, mince and stuff into sausage casings.

Southwestern Chicken Sausage

Makes: 20 sausages

The continuing Covid Crisis means dipping back into the more complex stuff like a naan bread Nat made on our Komado last week and learning how to make sushi.

Though making sausages from scratch remains one of our favourite weekend afternoon tricks and this past weekend, we made two crackers.

This sausage – a chicken sausage – was just wonderful.

If you don’t have a sausage making device or even a mincer, `you could just food process it all and pan-fry them up as patties.

Though if you have a KitchenAid, the mincing and sausage extensions are a lot of fun and sausage casings can be found at most good butchers.

We have had a lot of hit and miss when it comes to making our own sausages and the key observation from this recipe: polenta (or grits). They hold in the moisture, they give you texture, they make these sausages commercial grade.

Though add in the fun of making them, the freshness, owning the ingredients and the bragging rights… and you are onto a good thing.

Ingredients

1.4kg chicken thigh (meat and fat)
80gm polenta (or grits)
340ml chicken stock
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chilli powder
200gm Jalapeño chillies
1 red capsicum
2 tbsp fresh coriander

Method

  1. Roast the Jalapeño chillies in the oven until charred; remove the charred skins and roughly chop.
  2. Cook the polenta in the chicken stock until soft. 40 minutes or so.
  3. Chop the chicken into 3cm pieces and combine with all the ingredients.
  4. Mince and stuff into sausage casings.

Matt Preston’s Best Ever Tomato Sauce (Ketchup) recipe

Makes: 2x 750ml bottles

There is an argument for not cooking the staples: bread, pasta, ketchup.

Until you do.

Example one? A pita bread Nat cooked a few months back for a Lebanese dinner we cooked. A texture, a taste in superior, pale comparison to the stuff we get in the bread aisle.

Example two? A good friend Kieran, locked down in isolation though with the skills and technology to make crumpets… did so. Not only was it easy he said, though again… the texture and taste where so vastly better than the stuff at Coles that he now refuses to look at them at Coles.

And then there is this example from Nat. Ketchup.

True, we are a family that makes it own sausages and so perhaps it isn’t to much of a jump to make our own ketchup. Except that as per paragraph one of this blog, it wasn’t until we made our own ketchup that we knew why you should.

This ketchup by Matt Preston has a warmth and depth you just cannot find in a store-bought ketchup. With a good sausage (and I am a believer that ketchup should be exclusively used for sausages, hamburgers and meatloaf only and definitely not chips), it is the equal hero with the sausage.

So good, Nat has made three batches which have been delivered in empty gin and vodka bottles to neighbours, parents and sisters. (We have discovered that access to suitable bottling has not been at all an issue in this lockdown!)

Not only because it’s isolation and you’re looking for something to do… make your own ketchup because it’s like the homemade pasta, freshly-baked crumpets of condiments.

Ingredients

2.5kg ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
10 Whole Cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups (clear) white malt vinegar

Method

  1. Put the chopped tomato + onion, cloves, berries, paprika, garlic, cinnamon and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil. Simmer, uncovered, stirring every now and then, until the tomato breaks down and is tender. It takes about 1 hour. 
  2. Add the sugar and vinegar. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for a further hour and 15 minutes or until mixture reduces, thickens and is of a saucy consistency. Adjust seasoning.
  3. Strain mixture through a coarse sieve into a large bowl, in batches, pressing down strongly to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids or use as a relish. Pour hot mixture into (Vodka, Gin or Tequilla) bottles. Store in the fridge.
Breakfast on safari

Chakalaka Beans

Serves: 4

Last year for my 40th, Nat took me on an incredible trip through South Africa.

Cape Town, two incredible safaris and two days in Johannesburg, which – despite its reputation for crime and slime – is simply a privelege to visit.

I really did leave a little piece of my heart in ZA and I cannot wait to go back.

One of the clear, defining characteristics of South Africa is the food (and wine). It is sensational.

And so inexpensive.

We fell in love. Not only with some of the world’s best restaurants, though with the extraordinary $4 toasted, gourmet sandwiches at a tiny, private airport we transitted through, cheese and wine throughout Stellenbosch and savoury cookies and cured meats served with wine at the end of every safari.

To that end, the food on both our safaris was superb. Sure, these were 6-star safaris, though the passion of the chefs, the quality of the ingredients, endless snacks and refills: elephants on both sides of the safari equation.

Our first safari was at a private reserve called Kings Camp. And on our second last day, rather than taking us back to camp for the usually excessive and truly impressive three-course breakfast, we had breakfast on safari.

Excessive sure, though in the bush.

So much stood out including the experience itself. Easily one of the best breakfasts of my life. (The chef typed it up for us!)

Thanks babe. You were right and ZA was the best thing I have done.

Enjoy this breakfast recipe, one of dozens they served that morning and one we both absolutely loved. On toast with a poached egg, lordy.

Ingredients

50ml canola oil
30gm chopped fresh ginger
30gm chopped fresh garlic
20gm chopped chilli peppers
200gm chopped onions
500gm tomatoes, roughly chopped
100gm green peppers, roughly chopped
100gm red peppers, roughly chopped
50gm leaves masala
200gm grated carrot
1 tin baked beans, in tomato sauce
1 tin butter beans
200ml vegetable stock
10gm fresh coriander

Method

  1. Fry ginger, garlic, chillis and onion in the oil (until soft).
  2. Add the leaf masala.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add peppers and carrots and cook for 10 minutes (or until soft). Add beans and cook for 5 minutes or until sauce thickens again.
  5. Remove from the heat and add coriander. Check seasoning.
  6. “Enjoy”.
Sicilian Roast Chicken - As good as it gets

Nonna’s Rice-Stuffed Chicken

Serves: 4 – 6

This recipe by Mattel Tine of Bar Carolina in Melbourne, is a brilliant example of Sicilian home cooking.

One of the best chicken dishes ever. Blow-away good.

Cooked by Nat last Sunday night, this was just genius. I literally sat back and watched and wow, was I impressed.

With all of the fresh herbs and the lemon, it is such an aromatic dish. The risotto – especially the risotto dumplings – are amazing. And despite my misgivings about roast potatoes, they just work in this dish.

Line this up for Sunday night. Open a Pinot. Dim the lights, put on some music and enjoy the Covid lockup in style.

Ingredients

1.8kg chicken
100ml olive oil
1 cup each courses chopped flat-leaf parsley, rosemary and sage
Juice of two lemons
5 roasting potatoes, peeled and quartered

Rice Stuffing

60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300gm ( 1 1/2 cups) quality risotto rice
600ml chicken stock
80gm (1 cup) Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, finely grated
50gm (1/2 cup) fine breadcrumbs
1 egg
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp each finely chopped oregano and flat-leaf parsley

Method

  1. For rice stuffing, heat oil in a casserole over low-medium heat. Add onion and garlic and stir until translucent and aromatic (4 – 6 minutes). Add rice and stir (1 minute, then add chicken stock and cook stirring continuously, until rice has absorbed the liquid and is al dente (6 – 8 minutes; you want the rice to be undercooked).
  2. Spread the rice over a tray to cool (15 minutes). Add remaining ingredients and mix well to combine.
  3. Preheat over to 200C. Stuff rice stuffing into chicken cavity to fill completely, then roll remaining stuffing into walnut-sized balls.
  4. Combine oil, herbs and lemon juice in a bowl. Season to taste. Place the chicken in the baking dish and then place the potatoes and dumplings around the chicken. Brush the chicken all over with the herb dressing. Pour 5mm of water into the pan and roast until the chicken is cooked through (1 1/2 hours). Set aside to rest (30 minutes) then carve and serve.

P.S. This post is dedicated to Alexa Donovan. I’ve known her since she was born, I’ve watched her grow up into a wonderful, thoughtful young woman, she has babysat my three kids plenty of times… and she can cook. (And cooks (or at least reads) this blog. I’ll see if she can do a guest post!)

Lemon & Mint Eggplant Tagine with Almond Couscous (or Cauliflower Rice)

Serves: 4

This year, all of us in the RobbyDog family are observing Meat Free Monday.

Better for the environment and surely better for us. (We’re on a major diet post a major Christmas diet!)

Prior to this dish, I had never had a vegetarian tagine though Lordy, I wish I had!

It is simple.

It tastes wonderful.

It is super-low calorie at 361 calories.

And it is so filling. Like, you’re stuffed so much so that I had to double-check the servings to make sure I wasn’t eating for two.

(I wasn’t!)

We also switched out the couscous and almonds for cauliflower rice, saving a pile of calories in the process: definitely sub 300-calories which is our twice-daily meal target.

Finally, we added a chilli to the yoghurt which is a necessary addition of spice.

Every time we jump into a diet, we can’t stop fawning over how wonderful vegetables are on all the levels described above. We look a bit silly.

Hopefully, by adding many great vegetarian dishes to our repertoire over the next few months of shredding, we won’t forget.

Meat Free Monday is a pretty good way to start.

Ingredients

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped + 1 crushed
1 tbsp harissa
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
200ml vegetable stock
400gm can chopped tomato
1 large eggplant, trimmed and diced
Zest of 1 small lemon
400gm can of butter beans, drained
175gm whole meal couscous
40gm toasted flaked almond
150gm low fat Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp chopped mind
1 red chilli, chopped with seeds

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and softly fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Stir ion the harissa, cumin and cinnamon, cook briefly and add the stock and tomatoes.
  2. Add the eggplant and lemon and then cover the pan and cook gently for 15 – 20 minutes until the eggplant are tender. Add the butter beans and warm through.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the yoghurt, additional garlic, mint and chill=i.
  4. Cook the couscous and then stir in the almonds. Alternatively, prepare cauliflower rice.
  5. Serve the tagine on the couscous (or cauliflower rice) with the yoghurt drizzled over.