Sunday, 8 December 2013

Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini - a recipe by Rachael Ray 

  • Salt
  • small head cauliflower
  • 250 grams extra-wide egg noodles
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 250 grams assorted fresh mushrooms or white mushrooms, sliced
  • cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • large or 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry (I didn't use this as I didn't have any)
  • cups chicken stock
  • cup cream
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg (I didn't use this, whoops)
  • to 4 cups shredded Poached Chicken Breasts, (recipe follows)
  • cup panko breadcrumbs
  • cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  • whole bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (I used 2 skinless, boneless breasts)
  • tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • cloves garlic, smashed (I used 4)
  • large bay leaves (I only had 1 so just used that)
  • carrots, coarsely chopped (I didn't have any)
  • 1 Lemon, sliced into quarters
  • Herb bundle (I used rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano)
  • Salt

Put the chicken in a very large stockpot or divide between 2 pots if necessary. Add the peppercorns, garlic, bay leaves, carrots, lemons and herb bundle and sprinkle with salt. Add enough water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook at a rolling simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the chicken from the liquid and let cool. Strain the stock.  Shred the meat using your hands or 2 forks.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a pot and season with salt. Add the cauliflower, cover and steam until just tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain and cut into florets. 

Meanwhile, bring another pot of salted water to a boil and cook the noodles to just shy of al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain

Heat 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender and browned. 

Add the garlic and shallots and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Deglaze with the sherry, stirring and scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Whisk in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for a few minutes, then stir in the cream. Season with salt, pepper and a few grates of nutmeg

Combine the cauliflower, noodles, chicken and sauce. Transfer to a casserole dish

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in small pan, then drizzle over the panko in a bowl and toss to combine. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the casserole. Bake until hot, bubbling and golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley. Divide among plates. 

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Recipe: Sticky chicken drumsticks

This poor blog post has been loitering about in draft form for weeks. Poor neglected blog. Anyway, these chicken drumsticks are yummy and very easy. They're economical too, which always is helpful in the aftermath of Christmas. 

Sticky Chicken Drumsticks: a recipe my me

You will need:
Chicken drumsticks (my pack had 8 but use however many you have/want)
Soy sauce
Kecap Manis (sweet soy sauce)
Chilli flakes
Ginger, sliced
Garlic, chopped anyway you like
Spring onions, sliced
Thai herbs such as coriander or thai basil

1. Mix your marinade ingredients together - I don't measure, I just pour. A good few slugs of soy, a squeeze each of the kecap manis and honey, a shake of chilli flakes. I also added about a 1/4 cup of water. Place the chicken drums in a bag or a bowl and pour the marinade over, cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour, preferably longer if you can. 

2. Slice a thumb sized knob of ginger, the spring onions and get the herbs washed and ready to use. 

3. Place the marinated chicken drums into a baking dish, cover with the sliced ginger, spring onions and herbs. Cover with foil and bake for as long as you need until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. 

Recipe: roast chicken with kale and spinach gratin, with roasted kumara

Roast chicken with kale and spinach gratin, with roasted kumara

First, make the roasted garlic that you'll add to the kale and spinach gratin. To roast garlic take a whole bulb of garlic, slice the top 1/3 off until you can see the individual heads are revealed. Place the garlic onto a sheet of foil and cover with a generous splosh to olive oil, some salt and pepper. Fold the foil up to make a pouch and bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 30 - 35 minutes. The garlic will be soft and easy to squeeze out after this time. Reserve until you're ready to use it. 

I was watching Rachael Ray recently and she made this recipe with swiss chard, which I think is what we call silverbeet. I decided I could probably do it with the kale and spinach I had in my refrigerator. Here's the link to Rachael's recipe but I have made some modifications.  
  • 2 1/4-2 1/2 pounds Swiss chard or rainbow chard (3-4 large bundles) – for a quick shortcut, substitute 4 boxes spinach (10 ounces each), defrosted and wrung dry
  • Salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk (We have lite (2%) so I used that)
  • Pepper
  • Nutmeg (I didn't use this)
  • 1 bulb roasted garlic, cloves squeezed from skins and pasted
  • 2 cups Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly shredded (I didn't have any so I used grated tasty cheese)
Serves 4

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Stem the chard (I used a mix of kale and spinach), leaving the leaves whole. Wash them well before use. Salt the boiling water, add the chard and wilt – the pot will be packed at first.

Boil the chard for 10 minutes, then drain it in a colander and run it under cool water. Let the chard drain once again and squeeze out the excess liquid in a clean kitchen towel (I wasn't prepared to lose a towel so I used my hands and squeezed hard). Chop.

Meanwhile, heat the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, cook 1 minute, then whisk in the milk. Season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg (I didn't because I didn't have any). Stir in the roasted garlic paste. Thicken the sauce to coat the back of a spoon and adjust the seasonings, to taste.

Layer half of the greens in a medium casserole (8-10” long). Top with half of the b├ęchamel sauce and half of the cheese. Repeat the layers, ending with cheese. Bake for 15 minutes and serve.

I served this with some roasted orange kumara (sweet potato for anyone who doesn't live in New Zealand). 

We also had some roast chicken - a lazy roast chicken choice tonight, but a very yummy one.

Yum! This was definitely a hit in my house. I'll happily eat kale again, I might try it without a creamy sauce next time too.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Hot toddy

The best cure in the world for a cold. Lemon, honey, ginger...and scotch! When I was younger my mum would make this for me with an aspirin added. I'm a little dubious about adding an aspirin to this already head clearing concoction so I'll keep it as is. Fingers crossed it clears the cold out of me...

Juice of a lemon
A knob of grated ginger
A squeeze of lemon
A good slug of scotch (whisky)
Boiling water

Mix all in a mug, stir and enjoy.

And, just for fun - something which has perked me right up - my newly lobster coloured husband. You're welcome. 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Recipe: Raspberry Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Every Friday at school we take turns putting on morning tea once a term. 4 people are randomly allocated a week and you make a couple of things to bring. In the past I've made a few Jo Seager recipes from her Cook School Recipes book (particularly the white chocolate caramel oat cake which was a winner) and they've all gone down well. Today I decided to try and be organised for this week and get my baking done in advance. So I turned to my favourite Jo Seager and consulted the 'filling the tins' baking section. These raspberry cheesecake swirl brownies jumped out at me. I remember when I worked at Moore Wilson's Fresh and there was a brownie we sold that was pretty much this exact recipe, and it was absolutely delicious. I've always assumed it must be really hard because it looks and tastes so good, so I'd never bothered to attempt it. However, it isn't that hard. It's pretty straight forward and really impressive. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did when we sampled a piece (strictly for quality control purposes).

Recipe: Raspberry Cheesecake Swirl Brownies from Jo Seager's The Cook School Recipes.

For the brownie:

4 eggs
2 cups caster sugar
150gm butter
375gm dark chocolate melts
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (I used frozen and din't thaw them)

For the cheesecake:

250gm tub regular cream cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup icing sugar
3 tablespoons flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Line a 23cm x 23cm brownie tin with baking paper.
  2. To make the brownies beat the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl until pale and creamy. 
  3. In a microwave or over a pot of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth. 
  4. Add the egg and sugar mixture then mix in the flour, baking powder, cocoa and vanilla.
  5. In a separate bowl beat all the cheesecake ingredients together, until smooth.
  6. Spoon the chocolate and cheesecake mixtures alternately into the prepared tin and dot the raspberries on top. Gently with a knife swirl the mixtures together to create a marbled effect.
  7. Bake for approximately 1 hour until the brownie appears to be set on top. It will still be quite moist and fudgy if checked in the centre with a skewer. 
  8. Allow to cool at least 2 hours in the tin before carefully lifting out. Then slice and dust with icing sugar. Jo say's this should be cut into 24 pieces and I'd agree, smaller is better (although my husband ate at least 2 large pieces). This is very very rich. 

I had all my ingredients at room temperature except the cream cheese which I'd forgotten to take out of the fridge. The result was a lumpy cheesecake mixture which didn't affect the finished product but was a bit concerning before I found out it was ok when I cut into the brownies. Phew. But, obviously, room temp for everything would be ideal.

I will keep the brownies in an airtight container in the fridge. They will last just fine for a week if kept refrigerated.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Recipe: Baked Enchiladas with a Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Coriander-Lime Chicken filling

I'm a Pinterest addict. I admit it freely. Those endless images of delicious recipes is like a drug to me... I can happily while an hour away pinning things onto my 'deliciousness' board. Sometimes I decide to actually make something from my board, and this is one of those times. But seriously, I need to remember to take photos of my recipes. This one was especially delicious, so I'm really annoyed at myself for not snapping as I cooked.

Recipe: Baked Enchiladas with a Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Coriander-Lime Chicken filling

I based the filling of my enchiladas off this recipe from

Sweet potato and black bean filling

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried thyme
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 onion, finely diced
1 red pepper (capsicum), diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans, drained (I used black beans with chopped jalepenos)
Fresh coriander, chopped
Spring onions (scallions) chopped
Half a can of enchilada sauce (I used Las Palmas red sauce, medium)

Put everything into a large oven safe dish and mix around. Pour over half a can of enchilada sauce. Cover with foil and place into the oven (bake, 180 degrees Celsius) for 1.5 - 2 hours until it's all soft and mashable. Squash the sweet potato down with a fork a bit. Set aside and get to work on the chicken.

Coriander-Lime Chicken (this is a recipe by moi)

200 - 250 grams chicken tenderloins
1 tbsp Mexican seasoning
Chopped coriander to taste
The juice of 1/2 a lime
Enchilada sauce - aprox 1/4 - 1/3 cup (I used Las Palmas red sauce, medium)

Heat your fry pan and add a dash or a spray of oil. Add the chicken and allow to brown. Sprinkle some of the mexican seasoning on the chicken. Turn when brown on underside and continue to cook. Add a splash of the enchilada sauce and the coriander. Squeeze half a lime over the chicken. Remove from the heat and shred / chop into smaller pieces.

Assemble the enchiladas

Sour cream (I used light)
Enchilada sauce

Take a tortilla and place a generous amount of the sweet potato filling in the middle, top with a few pieces of the chicken and roll up. Place into a large oven safe dish. Repeat until you either have no more tortillas or no more space in your dish! I reached no more space but still had some filling and tortillas left so I made some to put in the freezer. My dish held 6 enchiladas.

Finally I poured the remainder of the enchilada sauce into a jug and added a cup of light sour cream. I gave these a good mix together and poured the lot over the rolled enchiladas in the dish, spreading it around to ensure the top was covered. I covered the dish with foil and placed into the oven, which was preheated to fan bake at 200 degrees Celsius. I cooked the dish for 20 minutes and then removed the foil and cooked for a further 20 minutes uncovered.

Here is a picture of enchiladas I didn't make, but look a lot like the ones I did (minus the salsa)

This is yummy alone or would also be delicious with some salsa or salad on the side. My husband really enjoyed the left overs for lunch the next day. You can top the enchiladas with cheese if you want to, but I decided mine didn't need it.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Recipe: Jerk Chicken with Pineapple-Coriander Rice

Jerk Chicken

Chicken thighs (bone out and skin off)
Jerk seasoning - I use Walkerswood jerk seasoning 'hot and spicy'
Bbq sauce

In a bowl or a resealable bag place chicken thighs, 1 - 2 tbs jerk seasoning and a few squirts of bbq sauce. Massage into the chicken and set aside for 1 hour or more to marinate. 

When you're ready to cook place the marinated chicken thighs into an oven dish and fan bake uncovered at 200 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes or until cooked. You don't want the chicken to dry out so do cover it if it looks like it's getting a bit crispy on top. 

Pineapple-Coriander rice

1 cup rice (I use basmati)
Jerk seasoning
1 small tin of crushed pineapple in natural juice, drained but retain the juice
Coriander, finely chopped (coriander is also known as cilantro)
Chicken stock (low salt)

Squirt some oil into a medium saucepan and turn your stove to medium heat. Place 1 tsp of the jerk seasoning and the rice into the saucepan, stirring around and allowing it to toast until the rice is golden brown and the spices are fragrant. Add the chicken stock and pineapple juice you reserved from the tinned pineapple. You will need 2 cups of liquid altogether. Add the tin of drained pineapple and the chopped coriander. Allow the rice to come to the boil, give it a couple of stirs and then reduce the heat to low and place the lid on. Set your timer for 12 minutes. When your timer bings take the pot off the stove and allow the rice to continue to steam for a further 12 - 15 minutes. Resist taking the lid off to check!! Fluff your rice up with a fork before serving, taste test for salt and add if needed. You can sprinkle some more chopped coriander on top if desired. 

Monday, 7 October 2013

My Thai food obsession continues

Thai Red Curry

On Thursday night my husband was out for a work dinner. I took the opportunity to make up a new recipe (although upon further investigation it seems others have done similar recipes) using thai red curry paste, coconut cream and chicken breasts. I didn't want to do the usual cooking style for red curry (in a pot) so I decided to see if it would work in the oven. I placed the red curry and coconut cream in a jug and gave it a good stir. I placed the chicken breasts in an oven dish, poured the coconut curry mixture over the top and placed the whole lot, uncovered in the oven (preheated to bake, 200 degrees). After 20 minutes I turned the chicken and basted it with the surrounding sauce. After a further 20 I checked the chicken and it was done. The results were good! The chicken was really moist and the sauce was delicious. I had the red curry on its own with a piece of roti I may or may not have forgotten I was heating up in the oven. Fun fact: roti becomes flakey pastry when left to crisp up in the oven.... yeah, don't do this.

Thai Red Curry Pizzas

I had some left over chicken in red curry sauce from Thursday night so I decided to use it up in a red curry pizza. Unusual I know, but surprisingly delicious! I spread some of the curry sauce on the bases, then layered up sliced cooked chicken breast (from the curry), finely sliced red peppers, coriander, spring onion, fresh chilli. Then I poured a tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce into a ramekin and thinned it with a bit of water and drizzled this over the pizzas. Finally I finished everything off with some grated cheese. I popped the pizzas in the oven on fan bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes until everything was piping hot and the cheese was melted. Yummy!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Recipe: Pad Thai

I love pad thai. Love. Love. LOVE! I ate it all over Thailand on our honeymoon and it's my most favourite take-away choice. However I've never had much luck making it at home. The first recipe I tried was an easy cheats pad thai which tasted like very nice fried noodles but nothing like pad thai. Last week we went to the Sunday market by Te Papa and I saw a woman selling all kinds of curry pastes and sauces. I bought a tom yum paste, some tamarind sauce and a red curry paste. The tamarind is something I've never cooked with but I know is a vital pad thai ingredient. So I went to the supermarket to grab all the ingredients I needed and based my recipe off this one.

Pad Thai: a recipe tweaked by me but inspired by the one linked above.

Serves 2 - 3

120g 2-3mm wide flat rice sticks
60ml fish sauce
60ml tamarind water (you can use tamarind concentrate/sauce, thinned with a little water)
60g palm sugar
Fresh chilli, chopped, to taste
80ml groundnut or vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (I used 4)
200gm skinnless chicken breast, finely sliced
2 large eggs, ready cracked
100g beansprouts (mung beans)
2 - 3 spring onions (scallions), sliced diagonally
Fresh coriander (cilantro), to taste50g roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
Lime wedges, chilli, fish sauce and sugar, to garnish
Soak the rice sticks in hot water for about 10 mins until they are pliable. You'll know they are ready when you can wrap a strand around your finger. Drain and set aside.

Make the sauce by combining the fish sauce, tamarind and palm sugar in a small pan. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar and taste – add more of any of the ingredients as you wish. Strain if you've used tamarind paste as there will be some tamarind pulp and bits of seed left behind which aren't lovely to eat. Set aside until you're ready to use.

Make sure the ingredients are all ready for you to grab as you'll be working fast from now on. 

Put a wok (I used a fry pan) on a high heat and add half the oil. Add the garlic and whites of the spring onion, stir fry for a few seconds, then add the noodles and a splash of water. Stir fry until they're drying out, then add the sauce. Fry until they are almost soft enough to eat (they should be slightly chewy).

Push the noodles to the side of the wok and add the rest of the oil. Fry the chicken until it is beginning to colour, then push to the side and add the eggs. When the eggs are starting to set on the bottom, scramble.

Stir through the noodles, and add the beansprouts, fresh chilli, green part of the spring onions, coriander and peanuts. Stir fry until well combined, then serve with the garnishes for people to add as they wish.

I found this ended up to be just right for my taste. My husband was a lot less keen and felt it was too heavy on the fish sauce. Which he told me, after I'd been in the kitchen quite a while making this for our dinner and subsequently ended up with an ear bashing. Which I later apologised for but not until I'd dissolved into giggles hearing him blasting protest songs from his man cave (where he'd holed up in protest of free speech.) 

Pad thai is a very subjective dish so do tweak it to your own taste (and maybe your husbands?!) Make sure you taste as you go along so you can adjust and balance the sweet, salty and spicy flavours. You don't want to end up with a stand off as we did in this house.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Restaurant Review: Hippopotamus

My wonderful husband surprised me with a night at the Museum Hotel and dinner at Hippo. It was spectacular. We had visited twice before but it had been a couple of years between visits. In fact, our last visit was the night we got engaged so it was quite the blast from the past!

We started with a cocktail in the bar before we were seated. There was a small but well formed cocktail list and we enjoyed ours. 

Shortly after being seated the sommelier pushed a champagne trolley to our table and asked if we'd like some champagne or a champagne cocktail. We went for the champagne cocktail, which he made in front of us and was delicious. 

Our orders were taken and bread was offered shortly after that. I had a nice walnut roll. My entree was the special of the day, a 46 degree salmon that was meltingly lovely. My husband had the pork shoulder which was wrapped in filo pastry. He seemed to enjoy it too.

My main was the fillet of beef which came with braised short rib and a very tender braised beef cheek. It was yummy but very rich, I only managed half before sending it to my husband. He had the venison which was served with beetroot and was exceptional, definitely the dish of the night. We also ordered a side of truffled chips but we didn't eat many as the mains were enough. 

We asked the sommelier to choose our wines to match each dish and he did an excellent job. He explained each wine before pouring and each one worked beautifully with each course. We didn't have pudding as were too full.

This is not an everyday place (unless you can afford it!) but perfect for those extra special occasions. We look forward to coming back in another few years.