Annie Smither’s Chicken Cordon Bleu

Serves: 4

We were in Queenstown, NZ this year for my birthday.

(If you haven’t visited Queenstown, it really does need to be on your bucketlist: some of the best restaurants we have eaten at, great bars, amazing vineyards, incredible drives and apparently skiing if you are so inclined.)

One of the most memorable meals was at a restaurant called Rata by Josh Emmet. A beautiful, contemporary restaurant, engaged service, incredibly good food and $45 (!!) for three courses. We simply couldn’t believe it.

Not complete with running an amazing restaurant or having three Michelin Stars to his name, Josh Emmet is also an accomplished cookbook writer and his book ‘The Recipe.’ would have to be one of the best cookbooks I have ever purchased.

The book is a collection of the world’s classic recipes as cooked by the “world’s best chefs”: Gordon Ramsay, Neil Perry, Ken Hom, Christine Manfield, you name it.

It is one of those cookbooks with such beautiful photography where you can happily spend the afternoon with a bottle of wine with your partner, earmarking all the dishes you’re going to cook and dreaming of the wonderful meals coming up.

(If it wasn’t clear, buy this book!)

So… dish #1 – cooked by my very culinarily-capable wife – was Annie Smither’s Chicken Cordon Bleu.

And it was spectacular. Old school, new school spectacular.

Old school in that ham and cheese in a crumbed chicken breast is a bit our parent’s generation of Saturday night cooking. But wow, it was so good.

New school in that our parent’s didn’t cook it: they cooked it from frozen. Or if they did cook it (which they didn’t), they didn’t cook it like this.

This is honest, wonderful, cooking. On all levels.

Cheese oozing. Ham and mustard. A contemporary breadcrumb.

Make it one of those Sunday nights where you make an outrageous potato gratin. Open a Pinot. Put the kids to bed.

And don’t think of Monday.

Ingredients

A little butter, for greasing
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp Dijon mustard
4 tsp chopped fresh chives
4 very thin slices lean cooked leg ham
4 very thin slices Swiss cheese (or grated Gruyère)
1/2 cup plus 1 tsp all-purpose plain flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
1/4 cup fine, fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp paprika

Method

Preheat the oven to 190c. Grease a baking dish with butter.

Split the chicken breasts horizontally to give two flatter pieces. Place each between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and use a meat mallet or rolling pin to flatten each chicken breast to a thickness of 5mm.

Spread each chicken breast with 1/2 tsp mustard and sprinkle each with 1 tsp chives. Cut ham and cheese slices to fit the chicken and top each chicken breast with ham and a cheese slice. Roll up, tucking the ends inside.

Place the flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. In a shallow bowl, combine the egg and milk, beating slightly.

Place breadcrumbs in another shallow dish. Coat chicken rolls in turn with flour, then egg mixture, then roll in crumbs. Place in the baking dish and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle.

Chicken and Lime Salad

Serves: 2

At a certain point over the Christmas/New Year break, all of us yearn for a culinary breather.

An end to the eggnog, ham and Champagne. A meal that isn’t 1,200+ calories (before the wine!).

Which is where – thankfully – this clever salad comes in.

Repent and enjoy.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, poached and thinly sliced
1 Lebanese cucumber, diced
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
Juice of two small limes
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp palm sugar
Chopped coriander
Lime wedges

Method

  1. Mix together the lime juice, chilli, fish sauce, oil and palm sugar and correct the flavours.
  2. Mix together the cucumber and tomatoes and arrange on plates. Arrange the sliced chicken over the vegetables.
  3. Spoon over the dressing, garnish with the coriander and serve with the lime wedges.

Ajoy Joshi’s Chicken Dhaniwal

Serves: 4

Ajoy Joshi is the genius behind Nilgiris, a bit of an Indian institution on the Lower North Shore of Sydney.

He also runs a smaller, quite intimate restaurant – Tellicherry – which serves wonderfully contemporary Indian cuisine. Small plate after small plate and even more wonderfully, completely BYO.

It is one of our favourite restaurants and a real treat on the few nights a week it is open.

Anyway, I recently hit the big 40 and Nat organised the best present of all: a long lunch (my favourite), Indian (my favourite) and 30 of my best friends (my favourites):

And she convinced Tellicherry to open especially for it!

As we left – after a cracking meal with cracking service – Mr Joshi gave me a copy of his cookbook (Regional Indian Cooking) – and the next night we did our first curry.

Hands down, it was one of the best curries we have cooked. (It reminded us of the amazing Christine Mansfield 100 Almond Curry.)

In the boy, Ajoy says: “I first tried this dish at the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi. I knew instantly that if I ever wrote a book, this recipe would definitely be in it.”

No question.

Enjoy!

(And here is to being 40. The new 30, right?)

Ingredients

1kg chicken thighs, cut into pieces
2 brown cardamom pods
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
3 whole cloves
5 green cardamom pods, crushed
2.5cm piece cinnamon stick
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt, whisked until smooth
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Steamed Basmati Rice to serve

Method

  1. In a saucepan, combine chicken, brown cardamom, turmeric and water. Place over a low heat, bring to simmer and cook until the chicken is almost tender, almost 20 minutes. Remove chicken from stock and set aside. Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve and reserve.
  1. In a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat oil over a medium-low heat. Add onions and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are dark golden brown, 20 – 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.
  2. Reheat oil remaining in pan over medium heat. Add cloves, green cardamom, cinnamon, yogurt and garlic. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens: 10 – 15 minutes. Sauce may appear curdled at this stage, but will be fine after further cooking.
  3. Add chicken to sauce in pan and cook, stirring, until sauce coats chicken. Add 1/4 cup reserved stock and cook over low heat until chicken is cooked through and tender: about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in fried onions, coriander and pepper. Serve immediately.

Greek Chicken Meatballs and Yogurt Dill Sauce

Serves: 4 

By Nat Beerworth

Rob didn’t read this recipe correctly and so served us up about 1,000 calories each. We were both keeled over from being so full, marveling at our shrunken stomachs and how little we need (on day 3 of diet) to get full. Then I read the actual recipe and realised we had been served enough for a small family per person.

Regardless it is a great dish. I have adjusted the numbers so you don’t need to worry about blowing the calories when you make this.

I am a dill lover, hopefully you are too.

Ingredients

500g lean ground chicken
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup whole grain panko
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup finely chopped red onions
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sauce
3/4 cups plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1/3 cup finely chopped dill
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
To serve
1 cucumber, cut into thick slices, quartered
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley or dill for garnish

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients for meatballs, with the exception of olive oil, in a bowl and mix, using hands is best. Form into 16 small meatballs.
  2. Add oil to a large skillet over medium heat, add meatballs and cook through and brown on both sides. Meatballs may need to be made in two batches, depending on skillet size.
  3. Meanwhile, mix together all ingredients for sauce. Add meatballs to a platter with crumbled feta and cucumber pieces to serve. Sprinkle with fresh parsley or dill.
  4. Serve sauce on the side or spoon over meatballs.

Yields: 16 meatballs | Serving Size: 4 meatballs | Calories: 320

 

Hot chicken sliders

Serves: 4 (if not having the buns, otherwise 8)

By Nat Beerworth

Robert and I decided to do a relatively shot-gun style wedding with only about 6 months notice, which in the world of weddings is basically like getting married next week. With the 6 month lead time involving holidaying to Hong Kong, Vanuatu and Bali it left little time for weddin-shreddin. We doubled down when we were at home and embraced a 300 calorie meal lifestyle. This diet consisted of: Not eating anything before 12pm, eating a 300 calorie lunch, a 300 calorie dinner and a few vodkas sprinkled in between.

We learnt that there is a whole new world out there – a 300 calorie world.

This is one of my favouries, I think we cooked it 3 times (which in the Beerworth household is not usually allowed).

Enjoy.

 

Ingredients

4 boneless and skinless chicken breast (cut in 1/2 to make 8 pieces)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 egg
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 teaspoons vinegar based hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs, pulsed in a food processor
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons coconut sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
8 whole wheat slider buns (we didn’t use these which meant we could have TWO sliders each)
1 large pickle, sliced in to 8 circles (one slice for each slider)
Instructions

 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray; set aside.
  2. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and hot sauce. Place the flour in a second bowl, and the panko in a third bowl. Dip the chicken pieces in the flour, then the egg mixture, and last the panko, making sure the chicken is coated on all sides.
  4. Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown and chicken is firm and cooked through.
  5. While the chicken is baking, mix together the olive oil, cayenne, coconut sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, and paprika.
  6. Remove the chicken from the oven and brush the chicken and the inside of the slider buns (if using) with the oil and spice mixture.
  7. Place each piece of cooked chicken on to a bun (is using), top with pickles. Serve.

Serving Size: 2 slider | Calories: 287 | Total Fat: 8 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Trans Fat: 0 g | Carbohydrates: 34 g | Fiber: 2 g | Sugar: 5 g | Protein: 20 g | Cholesterol: 62 mg | Sodium: 376 mg | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 7 |

 

 

Neil Perry’s Roast Duck with Cherries

Serves: 4

We don’t cook duck enough. None of us do.

Because every time we cook it. And eat it. We tell each other just how much we love it.

And how far too little we cook it.

We then promise to cook it much more.

And then we don’t.

And the cycle repeats.

In this Neil Perry recipe, I have omitted how to roast the duck; Neil’s recipe asks for two whole ducks, though you can just as easily get duck marylands – even duck confit – from good supermarkets.

The trick is to shred the duck, removing any fat and skin.

This recipe – we called ‘Duck and Cherries’ – was course #3 of #6 we served at our Long Lunch/Short Wedding and many guests said it was the standout:

The cherry sauce can be made beforehand and reheated with the duck. Serve with a salad of baby leaves and a garnish of finely chopped parsley and this would be a wonderful starter or main at any dinner party.

No question, it is a quacker cracker.

Ingredients

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter
500gm cherries, pitted (fresh or frozen, which we used)
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Balsamic vinegar
Baby leaves
Continental parsley, finely chopped

Method

  1. Place a pan over a medium heat and add the oil and butter and cook until foaming; add the cherries, sugar and salt and cook for about 15 minutes until soft and fragrant. Remove from the heat and give a really good grind of pepper.
  2. Places heap of the shredded duck meat onto each plate. Spoon over the cherry sauce, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and add another grind of pepper. Garnish with the parsley.
  3. Serve with baby leaves at the side.

Jamie Oliver’s Sesame Butterflied Chicken

Serves: 2

This is a magic dish and sans the chicken, it would make an amazing, healthy salad.

The magic is the sauce: yoghurt, peanut butter, ginger and lime juice. Plus more lime and soy for the slaw.

We were really surprised at just how tasty this dish was and I commend it to your run sheet for next week’s dinners.

Ingredients

100gm fine rice noodles
2 skinless chicken breasts
Vegetable oil
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1/2 Chinese cabbage, finely shredded
200gm sugar snap peas, finely sliced
1 red chilli, finely sliced
2 limes
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp yoghurt
2 cm piece of ginger, finely grated
2 tsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Method

  1. In a bowl, cover the noodles with boiling water until they are rehydrated. Drain and set aside, ensuring they do not stick.
  2. Slice into the chicken breasts and open them out like a book. Rub with 1 tsp of vegetable oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat a pan over a medium-heat and cook the chicken. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Combine the spring onions, Chinese cabbage, sugar snap peas and chilli in a bowl. Dress with the juice of 1 lime and the soy sauce.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the peanut butter with the yoghurt, grated ginger and the juice of the remaining lime. Season.
  5. Slice the chicken and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
  6. Divide the noodles between bowls, add the slaw, the sliced chicken and the peanut sauce.