Healthy, Mexican, Poultry

Paprika Chicken with Pico de Gallo

Serves: 4

This Frank Camorra dish is a doozy.

Super simple, super healthy (haloumi aside I guess), super weekday cooking.

It is Monday night in a nutshell when you need a glimmer of hope – and possibly a vino – to know that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are within reach.

Save the calories for Friday night and start the week with a Mexican-style chicken breast.

(We used the leftover Pico de Gallo with some pan-fried tuna the next night, adding olives and chopped preserved lemons… two for one and another weekday win!)

Ingredients

1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 chicken breasts
4 large ripe tomatoes, diced
1 Spanish onion, finely diced
½ bunch coriander, leaf and stalk chopped
1 Jalapeno chilli, finely diced
2 limes, juiced
400gm haloumi cheese
Salt
Salad greens to serve

Method

  1. Mix the paprika and oil in a bowl; add the chicken and mix well until coated. Cover with clingwrap and leave to marinate for an hour.
  2. Add the tomatoes, onion, coriander, chilli and lime juice to a bowl and mix well.
  3. Heat the barbeque or grill. When hot, grill the chicken until well coloured on both sides and cooked through.
  4. Cut the haloumi into 4 eve slices and grill for a few minutes on each side. Cut into smaller pieces.
  5. Slice the chicken breasts in half and place on your plates. Place the cut haloumi around the chicken and then spoon the Pico de Gallo liberally over the chicken.
  6. Serve with the salad greens.
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Breakfast, Mexican, Pork

Baked Huevos Rancheros

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Far enough. We garnished with red chilli rather than green though the point is to garnish and dial it up as much as you can.

Serves: 4

You can’t beat a special weekend breakfast and our favourite is anything with a little spice, tomato and hopefully some chorizo.

This recipe is consistent with a few others I have typed up – beans, chilli, tomato and baked eggs – though that is simply consistent with how much we love this sort of start to a Sunday morning.

With a good coffee or ideally, a good Champagne, this fairly straightforward number will hopefully inspire you to kick-off next Sunday with a bang.

Ingredients

4 flour tortillas
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
200gm dried chorizo, chopped
400gm can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, chopped plus extra to serve
1 yellow capsicum, chopped
400gm can chopped tomatoes
4 eggs
Sour cream and coriander leaves to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Great 4 ramekins and carefully line with the tortillas.
  2. Heat the oil in a frypan over a low heat and add the onion. Cook for 10 minutes until soft and add the chorizo. Turn up the heat a bit and cook for 5 minutes until starting to crisp. Add the beans, chilli and capsicum and season. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook until the liquid has reduced and the consistency is thick.
  4. Divide among the tortilla cups, making small wells in the center of each.
  5. Break eggs into the wells. Bake for 20 minutes or until the eggs are just set.
  6. Serve with extra chilli, sour cream, coffee and Champagne.
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Lamb

Roast Lamb with Whipped Feta and Mustard Dressing

Serves: 4 – 6

You can’t really go wrong with roast lamb.

As soon as you carve it it, fingers appear to grab pieces and why not? Picking at food is never decorum though roast (or BBQ) lamb is an exception.

It is what roast lamb exists for.

This wonderfully simple dish puts the emphasis on the dressing rather than the roast lamb; no sticks of rosemary and garlic or anchovies here.

And that is just fine.

Accompany with an equally simple parsley and red onion salad and you have the basis of a wonderful dinner on the table.

If you’re lucky, lunch the next day too.

Ingredients

1 boned leg of lamb (around 1.5kg)
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
100gm feta
250gm plain yoghurt
1 heaped tbsp Dijon mustard
2 lemons
4 tsp sumac
½ bunch parsley, leaves torn
1 small red onion, finely sliced

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.
  2. Season the lamb and roast for 55 minutes; set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a food processor, process the feta, yoghurt, mustard, juice of 1 lemon and 2 tsp sumac until smooth.
  4. For the salad: peel, segment and dice the remaining lemon. In a bowl, combine diced lemon, parsley, onion and remaining sumac.
  5. Carve the lamb and serve drizzled with the feta and mustard dressing and the salad at the side.
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Beef, Mince

Italian Sloppy Joes

Serves: 4

As a child of an American mother, Sloppy Joes were something I grew up with.

Essentially mince on toast, spiced with a packet of mix usually from McCormicks, an American food company.

I’ve never had it any other way and every trip back to the States has included a hunt for a dozen packs to bring back home to Australia.

Sloppy Joes are a real American comfort food and served on a toasted bread roll, you really can’t ask for anything more comfortable.

I’d considered doing my own Sloppy Joes though like messing with a Big Mac, I feared messing with what I knew and loved best.

Until tonight….

This recipe is Sloppy Joes right down the line.

The ‘Italian’ twist ironically steers it closer to the packet mix version I have always had. Add a toasted bread roll and you’re home.

I guess it is just slightly spiced mince on toast and I know that in itself isn’t amazing.

I hope however that my boys come to love Sloppy Joes as much as I do and that it becomes part of their childhood like it was mine.

Ingredients

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped, plus 1 extra halved
500gm beef mince
350ml passata
1 cup beef stock
2 tbsp coarsely chopped oregano
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 large bread rolls, halved
2 buffalo mozzarella balls, thinly sliced

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a low heat and saute the onion and garlic until golden. Add the beef, breaking up and cook until browned and any liquid evaporated.
  2. Add the passata, stock, oregano, sugar, chilli flakes and fennel seeds, season to taste and simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened: an hour or so. Stir in the vinegar and season again to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat a grill to high and toast the rolls cut side up. Rub the toasted side with the garlic halves, top with the mozzarella cheese and grill until melted.
  4. Spoon the meat mixture over the toasted rolls and enjoy.
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Italian, Pasta, Pork

The Best Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves: 6

Where does one start?

Spaghetti Carbonara is that dish that divides more than any spaghetti dish. Cream or no cream?

Or mine is the best or that is the best?

This is the traditional or this one is even more traditional?

Or that Italians don’t even do Spaghetti Carbonara and it is an invention of the Americans: Italians don’t do pasta like this.

I don’t mind a cream-based Spaghetti Carbonara and how couldn’t you? Anything with pasta and cream – at its best – is amazing.

Though it isn’t traditional in the sense that I cannot find any pasta Italian cookbook of mine that asks for even a touch of cream.

Equally though, I can’t find a Carbonara in any of these books.

Which I think means that Carbonara definitely shouldn’t have cream though it probably isn’t an Italian invention either.

Which leaves us here: what is the best ‘traditional’ Carbonara recipe.

For 8 years straight until he was 18, for his birthday, my middle brother Adrian asked nothing else of me than that I cooked this pasta for his birthday.

This recipe was something my mother would do after a day on our boat and as kids, and it simply never failed to wow us.

After years and years of telling Nat this Carbonara was the best she would ever have, she finally let me make it.

And Nat – and the boys – agreed, this is simply the finest Carbonara that exists.

This truly is the best Spaghetti Carbonara you will ever cook.

And this is from someone that makes a point of ordering every time it is available.

THE BEST.

Ingredients

9 slices bacon, trimmed and julienne
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 tbsp butter
½ cup julienned ham (or prosciutto)
12 tbsp grated parmesan
6 eggs, beaten
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
Spaghetti

Method

  1. Brown the bacon and pour off any fat.
  2. Cook the spaghetti.
  3. Add the olive oil, butter and ham and saute for 5 minutes without browning.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan and beaten eggs, Place over the heat only to sufficiently to firm up the sauce.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the spaghetti.
  6. Serve with more grated spaghetti.
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Lamb, Mince

Thin-Crust Pide with Lamb Topping (Lahmacun)

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Mince, Turkish food and a thin pizza base. What could go wrong?

Serves: 4

Every so often, you come across a dish that hits it out of the park.

A dish that delivers far more than the brief.

A dish that makes you think wow.

No surprises, this is one of those dishes.

It is enormous. It is spectacular. And it gets better with practise, something you’ll love doing – over a few Saturday evening wines – knowing that each crust will get crisper, the lamb spicier, the bottle of red emptier.

The dough is easy so please don’t get put off by that: simply knead by hand and set aside and you’re home on that front. Double the lamb like we did and make it a meal.

The rather simple recipe is from the Turkish cookbook Anatolia.

The guys behind the book – and the dish – are from Efendy, an excellent Turkish restaurant in Balmain and one I highly recommend.

In the meantime, have a few wines next Saturday afternoon, cut-sort your plans for sushi or a salad and do it right.

This is 10/10 territory.

Lordy.

(We served the salad sprinkled on each cooked pide and would suggest you do too! Also, we have slightly adjusted the recipe, though only slightly.)

Ingredients

1 ⅓ cups flour
½ cup wholemeal flour to dust

Topping
2 tomatoes
1 red capsicum
75gm capsicum paste (salca)*
5 garlic cloves, chopped
½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped
2 tsp chilli flakes
200gm lamb mince (we used 500gm though as a starter, do 200gm)
Salt and freshly cracked pepper

*You might be able to find this at a supermarket, definitely at a deli but if not use roasted peppers in a jar

Red onion and Sumac Salad
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp sumac
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 300c or as hot as she goes.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the salt. Make a well in the center and slowly add ½ cup lukewarm water. Using your hands, mix to a firm dough adding a little extra water if necessary. Knead the dough for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
  3. Sprinkle some flour on a board, turn out the dough and divide into 4-even sized balls. Cover with a damp cloth to rest for 30-minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, score a shallow cross in the base of the tomatoes and cover in a bowl with boiling water. Leave until the skin starts the peel and remove and refresh. Slice, deseed and chop.
  5. Deseed the capsicum and chop.
  6. Place the tomato and capsicum in a food processor with the capsicum paste, garlic, parsley, chili flakes, 1 tsp cracked black pepper, 1 tsp salt and pulse to a coarse paste. Add to the lamb mince in a bowl and stir well to combine.
  7. In a fine sieve or similar, push out all the liquid in the lamb mixture. You want to remove as much liquid as possible.
  8. Dust 4 sheets of baking paper with wholemeal flour. Place a ball of dough on the floured work surface and roll out until 25cm round and thin. Place on a floured baking paper. Thinly spread the lamb mixture over the base, pressing in with your hands.
  9. Place the baking paper/round on a baking tray and cook for 10 – 12 minutes until the edges are crisp.
  10. Meanwhile, make the salad by combining the ingredients.
  11. Serve the pide with the salad sprinkled on top.
  12. Repeat with the 3 other pide.
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French, Healthy, Salad, Seafood

Roast Salmon, Bean and Potato Salad

Serves: 4

Salmon, green beans and potatoes pair beautifully and this classic and particularly simple Jamie Oliver number is yet another great example of why.

And it is even better cold the next day for lunch.

Pencil this in for next Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday night.

(Note: I have changed the name of the original recipe – it was just a bit too ‘Jamie’ – as well as adapting the ingredients and method slightly.)

Ingredients

4 x 200gm salmon fillets
Extra virgin olive oil
2 lemons, juiced and zested
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 clove of garlic, crushed
250ml fat-free natural yoghurt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
450gm baby potatoes, boiled, quartered and let to cool slightly
250gm green beans, cooked and left to cool slightly
1 bunch watercress
1 sprig fresh mint
1 sprig fresh basil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.
  2. Rub the salmon pieces with a little oil, lemon juice and zest (saving some for the dressings), salt and pepper. Place them on a piece of baking paper and bake on a baking tray in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Combine the crushed garlic and the yoghurt and season with salt and pepper, a little lemon juice and the cayenne pepper.
  4. Dress the potatoes and green beans in a little salt and pepper, lemon juice and zest and olive oil. Toss together with the watercress and herbs and divide among four bowls.
  5. Break the cooked salmon up and place on the dressed beans and potatoes. Serve with a spoonful of the yoghurt on-top.
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