Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spicy Chickpea Patties, Hummus and Flatbreads



It’s fair to say that if I’m not participating in the act of eating I am contemplating my next meal.  My wise friend Daniel Swindells said to me after a comprehensive conversation about his meal plan for his shift at work: “structure is crucial”.  I don’t know if it’s normal or whether I associate myself with people who are also food fanatics, but it seems perfectly reasonable to map out your working day primarily around lunch and the snacks in between, doesn’t it?
It’s this passion for food which drives most of my days.  Even when bursting at the seams I find myself thinking forward “Hmmm what’s in the fridge...oooh this would be yum if I pick up some...”.  I just love it. 


With the winter months in full force though, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to bother going to the supermarket.  I thrive at the fruit and vegetable markets every weekend and generally I use this bounty as my staples for the week.  So on a lazy night I ponder what can be done with two lone cans of chickpeas – the only canned goods to be seen.  Ready Steady Cook pays off and what I came up with was nutritious, scrumptious, and made with a few solid cupboard staples.
 
PATTIES
2 can chickpeas drained – set ½ can aside
1 onion finely diced
1 clove garlic grated
½ cup natural yoghurt
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbspn cumin powder
½ tspn cayenne pepper
Handful fresh coriander/parsley chopped
Salt/pepper
 
1.    Pulse chickpeas in food processor until roughly chopped. Put into a bowl and add all remaining ingredients. Stir until well-combined
2.    Roll into patties (size of your choice) and place on a tray with  greaseproof paper into the fridge for around 20 minutes

 
Meanwhile while these are setting you can get onto your homemade Hummus and Flatbreads
 
HUMMUS
Remaining ½ can of chickpeas
¼ cup oil
Juice of 1-2 lemons
Clove garlic grated
 
1.    Blend all ingredients together well.  Add more oil/lemon juice to get desired consistency.  I added ¼ block of feta because it was in the fridge which was an epic add-on.  Leave out of the fridge
 
FLATBREADS
250g self raising flour
1 tbspn salt
1 tbspn baking powder
250g natural yoghurt
 
1.    Using a blender (or by hand) combine all ingredients till you have a dough – don’t over do it in the blender, just combine
2.    Kneed for about a minute adding more flour if needed
3.    Divide into 6 equal pieces and roll out to a side plate size approx.  Using greaseproof paper to separate them to stop sticking
 
Once done here fry the patties in oil for 4-5 minutes on each side or till golden brown.
 
Alternately cook the flatbread on a DRY, high heat for a few minutes on each side or until they are lightly charring and puffing.
 
Im a huge platter fan and like eating with my fingers so serve this all up on a platter and ENJOY
 
 
Just a side note - once again the meat no meat debate arose between Mel and I so the next night I had all the same but added smoked salmon and avocado.  It was divine – it could definitely go down as a brunch option, add a poached egg = lush.  So if you have a ‘must-have-meat’ policy in your household I would highly recommend giving this add-on option a try.  So many nutty, fresh, spicy flavors you won’t regret it. 


 

 

 

 
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Monday, July 21, 2014

New Bread And Sniff It Logo!

With two authors on the Bread And Sniff It website and after just having passed our four year anniversary, we thought it was time for a change.

With the help of the wonderful Stacey Bancroft, author of The Blushing Teacup, dear friend, and design extraordinaire we have a new logo!

We wanted to change the logo to something that represents both Zen and myself. We have also added simple menu items at the top of the page to help you find your way around the site.

What do you think of the changes? We want to hear from you!


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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Good Chef Bad Chef - North African Couscous Soup



Have you ever watched the show, Good Chef Bad Chef?

I have and I love it.

Two chefs, both who love food, one who makes a "bad chef" recipe and then other who makes a "good chef" recipe.

I LOVE BAD CHEF.  He reminds me of myself. Let's cook it in butter, let's use oil and refined sugar and all those delicious things. I understand about clean eating, paleo, organic ingredients and whatever other latest health food craze is abuzz. But if I have to choose between a brownie made of dark chocolate or one made with cacao, black beans or sweet potato puree, I know what I am going to choose.

I distinctly remember the day I watched Bad chef make this recipe. Bad chef has his own name of course, but I am too lazy to google search it right now, so today he is just Bad Chef. It was a north african inspired lamb soup, that used couscous to thicken it. It was everything I love about morrocan food, spices, heat, fresh herbs, yoghurt drizzled on top.

When I made it a few weeks ago I inhaled it and labelled it the best soup I have ever had. Always a big call. Even my son loved it.

Try it out when you next have a cold, or are cold, or hungry, or bored. Just cook it....immediately.

North African Couscous Soup (adapted from here)

Ingredients

250 g lamb pieces, (i used a lambd leg steak)
½ cup couscous
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed with salt
1 tsp ginger, grated
½ cup fresh coriander, chopped
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. all spice
1 tsp. chilli powder
1 tsp. sweet paprika
400 g crushed tomatoes
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tbsp. honey
100g chickpeas (I used canned ones)
1 lemon, zested
800 ml chicken stock
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil

To Serve
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
½ cup mint, chopped
½ cup parsley, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
yoghurt
 
Method
 
  1. Heat some oil in a large soup pot and brown your lamb pieces. I cut into small half centimetre chunks.
  2. Add spices (ground coriander, cumin, all spice, chili powder, paprika and salt and pepper, and cook until spices become fragrant.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, fresh chilies, lemon zest and honey. Fry until the onion is soft.
  4. Add stock, canned tomato, chickpeas bring to the boil.  Once boiling reduce heat to a slow simmer and cook for a further hour or until the lamb is tender.
  5. Remove pan from the heat and stin through the spinach, mint, parsley and lemon juice. (i would add the lemon juice slowly till it reaches the acidity you like.
  6. Add the couscous and let sit for at least 3 mins so that the couscous swells, this will thicken the soup for you.
  7. Serve drizzled with yoghurt, and if you like add flatbread with garlic butter.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Winter Warmers: Mushroom Soup



Soup, it’s something we all look forward to in the chilly winter months and really the possibilities can be as endless as your imagination.  Delicious hearty soups can be made with vegetables you find in your fridge and canned foods in your pantry, not to mention the sometimes forgotten noodle soup options which can be delicious, quick and often low in fat.

Mushroom soup is not something I’ve considered an option before but on a rushed morning a couple of weeks ago I had a personal moment of weakness and brought a pre-made soup from the deli for lunch.  Don’t get me wrong, by no means am I a food snob, or guru, I just get a bit sketched out reading all the extra ingredients and ‘flavouring’ that go into what should be a simple vegetable soup.  As it turns out, my moment of weakness turned into an absolute moment of clarity.  I love mushroom soup.

Immediately I research mushroom soup recipes and ask Mel how she makes hers as I remember she made it once in our flat in Melbourne (secretly I thought it looked rank and didn’t try it).  Taking ideas from here and there I come up with this and I tell you what, it’s glorious.  Not exactly healthy once you’ve added all the naughty bits on top but winter is about the delectable naughties.  You wouldn’t usually sit down with a big bowl of steamy soup any other time of the year, so don’t sweat the small stuff and lap it up (with lots of buttered bread!)

2 tbspn butter
1 tspn flour
Lug olive oil
1 red onion finely chopped
1 tbspn thyme
2 minced garlic cloves
1 cup milk
5-6 Portobello mushrooms cleaned/sliced
400g button mushrooms cleaned/sliced
1 litre stock
1 handful parsley chopped

1. Melt butter first then add flour and continually stir to cook out the flour and make a paste (this is called a roux).  Add olive oil then onion, thyme, garlic and milk and cook on low continually stirring till onions are clear and the ingredients have combined to a nice thick sauce

2. Add all of the mushrooms and cook down on a medium heat for around 10 minutes

3. Add the stock and season.  Bring to boil then turn down and leave to simmer stirring occasionally for 20 minutes

4. I like a chunky soup so blitz half and leave the other half as is.  Return to the pot, add chopped parsley a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and your good to go

This earthy, rich creamy soup is luscious as is but to take it to the next level (I’m all about the next level) I fried off some bacon bits, added a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.  Serve with toast or indulge in a fresh loaf and you’ve reached that next level for sure.


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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

VIDEO POST: White Bread Rolls

Have you ever done something and knew that all of your close friends are going to make so much fun of you when you did it?

Well four years ago I started this blog, with dreams of world food domination and that very first post, gave me a sick feeling. Some people were supportive, but most just used it as another opportunity to make fun of me.  For those who don't know my friends, that just means they love me.

For a while now I have wanted to make a video recipe.  And this year, with Zen now helping to ease the pressure of having to post all the time, I thought why not try it.

What has resulted is the video below. It's not perfect, it needs work, I am not a video editing, sound person guru.  But I am very proud that I set myself a challenge and completed it. Check it out below, and please leave comments on the video. Tell me what you love, tell me what you hate, tell me that you never want to speak to me ever again.

 


Ingredients

500g Bread Flour
7g packet of dry yeast
1.5 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp salt
3 tbls Olive oil
300ml lukewarm water

Method

Check out the video it's only 5 mins of your time.

This recipe was adapted from BBC Good Food
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Stuffed Pork Meatballs


Everybody loves meatballs! Covered in rich tomato and roasted capsicum sauce with overboard amounts of parmesan and garlic bread to mop up the rest, it’s a winter winner.
 
Meatballs are a simple and relatively quick dish. 2 pans. 1 bowl. Minimal time spent watching/stirring/disturbing...the longest process is rolling the meatballs but if you have yourself a glass of wine and some sweet tunes it’s very therapeutic.  
 
It's taken me a while to master the meatball. With the tendency to become dry easily or break up in the sauce there is a fine line to perfection. As Mel mentioned in her recent post practice does make perfect and I've found that baking the meatballs in the oven cooks them perfectly keeping in moisture, shape and sealing in the beautiful flavours.  The anchovies and roasted capsicums take this sauce from amazing to outstanding!
 
I have to admit that the idea for the feta stuffed balls came from a recent MKR episode. But that’s the beauty of cooking and what I absolutely love. Being inspired by others and knowing that you can create and recreate anything you desire.  I'm always asking my fellow food lovers if they have anything to share with me, Mum for old family favourites, reading cookbooks and watching food TV (you either love it or hate it).  Its all inspiration for future meals.  So remember to always be the master of your domain with the knowledge that even a kitchen fail can be one step closer to perfection. 

Enjoy!!
 
Meatballs
500g minced pork (lamb or beef)
Clove garlic
1/4 onion very finely diced
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
Salt/pepper
Feta/pitted olives (optional)
 
Sauce
3 cloves garlic
3/4 onion finely diced
1/2 chilli
3-4 anchovies
3/4 cup diced roasted capsicums
1 tablespoon oregano
2 tbspn balsamic
2 tins chopped tomatoes

METHOD
 
1. Mix meatball ingredients together. Divide into halves; halve again, then each ¼ into 4 balls to make 12. Roll meatballs with wet hands and poke a hole with your thumb in the middle for a small piece of feta or a pitted olive

 
2. Place these on a lined baking tray, rub with olive oil and into a preheated 180c oven for 15 mins (if you’re indulging in garlic bread this is good timing for this to go in too)
 
3. For the sauce heat a large frying pan with olive oil. Finely dice onion garlic and chilli. Fry onion till soft, add garlic, chilli, anchovies and capsicums. Add tinned tomatoes and balsamic 5 mins later, bring to the boil, season to taste then simmer
 
4. At this stage the meatballs should be done. Place them in the pan and wrap them up in the juices and let simmer, jiggling the pan occasionally. These should take another 10 - 15 mins which is perfect timing for cooking your spaghetti and making a side salad
 
5. Once plated, sprinkle with parmesan and chopped flat leaf parsley or finely sliced basil leaves.
 
 Absolutely delecta-ball



 

 

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Chicken in a Creamy Mushroom and Herb Sauce



Cook Meter: Intermediate
Cook Meter: $$ (if you don't have the herbs)
 
 
Running with our winter theme, there is something I love about a sauce that slowly simmers away. Pairing it with a silky mash it instantly takes me back to winters as a child, rugged up by the fire and that heavy feeling in your stomach knowing that you will be delightfully full for hours to come.

In an effort to always create a sauce reduced and thick enough that it slathers the meat rather than runs off it, I have been prone to overcook the protein, especially chicken. It wasn't until recently that I have perfected the art of getting a beautiful sauce without having rubbery chicken.  

I guess this just comes from years of practice. Those of you that love to cook are probably thinking, duh... didn't you know that. But no, unfortunately I did not.  The simple trick is browning your chicken first, take it out of the pan, and set it aside. Then continue making your sauce with the pan juices.



 I love cooking in the same way I love the IT industry.  If you are willing to, there is always something to learn. Maybe that's why Nanas are the most amazing cooks, they have had years to perfect their recipes, to fine tune the flavours.

After making this recipe I think I have finally got it right, so I hope you enjoy.

Chicken in a Creamy Mushroom and Herb Sauce

Ingredients

Oil and Butter to coat pan.
4 Chicken thigh Fillets
Flour to coat the chicken
1 brown onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
a handful basil leaves
1/2 white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup thickened cream

Method

  1.  Melt about a teaspoon of butter and olive oil in a pan, and turn the pan to a medium to high heat, and brown your chicken.
  2. Remove from the fry pan and then using the pan juices saute the onion, and garlic until the onion becomes translucent.
  3. Add mushrooms, rosemary, and thyme and cook for about 2-3 minutes until the mushrooms start to brown.
  4. Add the white wine and let it fry off until the alcohol has evaporated, and then add the stock and cream.
  5. Simmer the sauce until it has thickened, then put the chicken back into the pan and simmer until the chicken has cooked.
  6. At the end toss through the basil leaves and serve with mashed potato.
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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Woodman's Axe - Mackay, Queensland

Symptoms:
Brain is not functioning
Eyes are barely open
Only capable of monosyllabic words or grunts

Diagnosis:
Coffee Addiction


Sound familiar? This is me and my husband every morning.  Before we get our caffeine fix. I literally cannot function without a coffee and too long and I start to get a little shaky and withdrawal headaches. OK so that doesn't sound healthy does it?  But nothing smells more delicious to me first thing than a pot of freshly brewed coffee or the smell of coffee grounds.

So when we moved from Melbourne to Mackay and discovered that there was not a single place in town that consistently made good coffee I was devastated.  Note the emphasis on consistent. It's one thing to get a good coffee from a cafe every 3 months. But if I am going to frequent a restaurant, I want them to get it right, every single time I walk in there, no matter who made the coffee.



This was until Woodman's Axe opened.

Woodman's Axe which has two locations in Mackay is that place where coffee addicts/snobs feel welcome. They are as passionate about coffee as I am, and you can see that they are more than mere baristas they are artists.

Even though I live near the city store I actually drive out to the Northern Beaches store frequently, as they are open on Sundays and have a larger cabinet food selection.  Usually I will takeaway and go down to the local beach and have a wee picnic.


This Mothers Day however, it was a wet weather day, so we rugged up and dined in. You would think that cabinet food was easy, but Woodman Axe takes a simple sandwich or tart and makes a statement.  It is always enjoyable and I have yet to select something that I did not like.

First out was a Violet Crumble Muffin.  Just how a muffin should be, moist with a white chocolate icing and oozing choc chips on the inside. Probably not the best thing to give your 16 month old for lunch, but who cares, just spoil yourself.


Next was the corn and zucchini fritters with rosemary infused pancetta and avocado salsa.  This was my favourite of the day, crispy texture, with gooey avocado salsa, salty pancetta and sweet bursts of corn in every mouthful. Freaking amazing, I am even going to attempt to make something like this myself at home. Inspiring!


OK so we made pigs of ourselves and then ordered two more things. The chicken and basil pesto tart I have had before and knew we wouldn't go wrong.  This is also a favourite with my son, who loves the punchy basil flavour and the soft pastry.


Lastly a Salmon, Egg and Avocado Bagel, which we also enjoyed but was not my favourite. Not that it was bad mind you.  More like the second place sprinter in the 100m finals. Still classified a winner, but outshone by number one spot.


But the true star of this entire show is the coffee, I would say I have had over 50 coffees from both the store in the city and the Northern beaches cafe. Made by 6 different people and not once was my milk scalded or my coffee bitter.  The house coffee is delicious but a little too fruity to my tastes, but they regularly have guest blends and other bean options to keep your palate interested.

I rate Woodman's Axe the best coffee and lunch/brunch spot in town.  So check it out as soon as you can.



Woodman's Axe Espresso on Urbanspoon
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Monday, May 26, 2014

Cooking for pals. Asian Tofu Soba Noodle Salad.

Cooking for friends is an all time favourite of mine.  Sweet beats in the background, wine in hand, for womankind its when all the best gossip goes down, whilst cooking!  Usually this is a really quick salad, but when your in full cruise mode rolling in the red wine and laughter its a very casual recipe.  With just a flick of the pan here and there you don't need to stress about the finer details.  Its a throw together meal but with no love lost in flavours.

Tofu - seriously underrated.  And lets be honest most things fried are glorious.  This salad is fresh, intense in flavour and most importantly, delicious.  You could serve it up to a tofu hater and I can guarantee they would not complain.  Alternatively you could make it with fish on the side, slliced rare beef or lamb...its very versatile.  As cooking and chilling on a Saturday night with your GF should be!




1 x packet of soba noodles cooked el dente
Head of broccoli cut into small florets steamed
A couple of capsicums diced
Chopped herbs (basil and coriander are best)

Tofu:
Firm tofu diced and coated in:
Cornflour/salt/pepper/chilli flakes - use what dried herbs you want if chilli is not your forte

3/4 cup of toasted seeds (pumpkin/sunflower/sesame)
Toasted peanuts

Dressing:
1/4 cup Cider vinegar
2 tspn Sesame oil
2 tspn Fish sauce
2 tspn sweet soy sauce
2 tspn sweet thai chilli sauce
1 tspn Brown sugar
Finely grated clove garlic & ginger

Cook noodles and drain under cold water.
Fry tofu in oil - I like to do it for quite a while.  The longer. The crunchier. The better.
Mix the dressing to your taste.
Toss together cooked noodles/salad/herbs/tofu/seeds & nuts and then the dressing.

BOOM.  Flavour bomb.  Enjoy, relax cos now its time to finish off all the red wine you can find, laugh out loud, and dance around the lounge with the music on maximum volume.  If that's what your into....
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Italian Chicken Casserole

Cook Meter: Intermediate
Cost Meter:  $



The colder months are now creeping towards us. The days are shorter, and the winter blankets have come out of storage.  This time calls for casseroles, soups, and hearty recipes that snuggle our souls and keep us warm. One pot wonders are underrated.  All the ingredients simmering together creating a depth of flavour that you just do not get with other recipes.

For this recipe, I used drumsticks as they are a cheap cut of chicken, but feel free to use any sort of chicken pieces, make sure they have the bone in for that added flavour. 

As for the cheese, Zen put it perfectly when I showed her a picture, "That cheese does it for me, big time!"

Ingredients

1kg of chicken pieces (drumsticks)
2 400g canned tomatoes
1/2 red onion sliced
2 cloves of garlic finely diced
100g of tasty cheese cut into squares
Fresh basil leaves

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees.  And place ovenproof saucepan on a high heat.
  2. Brown the drumsticks all over and then take them out of the pan.
  3. Use those chicken juices and fry the onion for two minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and sautee for a further minute.
  5. Add the tins of tomato and then place the chicken drumsticks into the tomato sauce.  Depending on the size of your dish your tomato sauce may not cover the chicken drumsticks completely.  If it doesn't this is fine just remember to turn your chicken throughout the cooking process. 
  6. Place in the oven, and cook for 1.5 hours, or until the chicken begins to pull away from the bone. 
  7. When the chicken is 10 minutes away from being cooked place the cubes of cheese into the dish so they become slightly melted. 
  8. Finish of the dish by sprinkling with basil leaves. 
  9. Serve with a crusty bread to mop up the sauce, or couscous.
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