Monthly Archives: September 2015

Penne pasta with brussels sprouts

penne pasta with brussels sprouts

It’s really happening. I’m going to run a marathon. In two days (at the time of writing). If I stop to listen, there is an electric hum pulsing around my body, generated by an amalgam of trepidation and excitement about Sunday’s event. I’m about to embark on something that has been a goal of mine for many years. And that feels good. Like something worthwhile. Like the stuff that life is about. Putting yourself on the line and chasing your dreams. To help in my quest, this week in the lead up to the big race, I’m stuffing carbs into my mouth left right and centre. Toast, porridge, bananas, dates, honey, pasta, rice, vegetables and the occasional snake. Yep. Who knew. Apparently snakes (jelly sweets) are a good source of glucose to help fill my cells with glycogen to burn while I’m running. I’ll try anything once if it’ll help get me across the finishing line. Preferably on two legs. My favourite source of fuel is still pasta though and this penne pasta with brussels sprouts will convert even the most staunch dislikers of these miniature cabbage like vegetables into new admirers.

penne pasta with brussels sprouts penne pasta with brussels sprouts

I’ve always fallen into the category of one of those strange people who enjoys eating brussels sprouts. At Christmas, I’d be one of only a few family members who would happily pile a small mound of the little edible green balls onto my plate. As I’ve grown older, I’ve experimented with sprouts, moving away from the simple method of boiling them. I’ve roasted them along with beetroot and the served the resulting medley with crisp bacon and a mapley Dijon dressing. I’ve shredded them to compose a salad with kale, parmesan, lemon and almonds. And I’ve braised them with lemon juice and cream a la Molly Wizenburg. And Molly’s lovely recipe for cream braised brussels sprouts was the inspiration for this pasta dish.

penne pasta with brussels sprouts penne pasta with brussels sprouts

Using the marathon as an excuse, a very good one I might add, we are staying in the city for the weekend. Running long distances seriously takes it out of me and after my longer training runs of 25km plus, I’ve almost needed an afternoon nap. Thea has prevented such luxuries from happening. But hopefully, in the city, in our hotel room, after a warm shower and a big plate of food, I might be able to have a little sleep, before celebrating my victory with a glass of champagne. I need to visualise after the event as much as I do running the course, because I feel that ultimately it will help spur me on to the end.

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I have also asked Ma and Pa, who have been so wonderful this week in cheerily finishing all the high carb meals that I have prepared (we are still living with them since the tree fell on our house) and will be looking after Thea for the weekend while I’m away, to come and watch me cross the finish line. I knownseeing their faces, plus Mark and Thea’s, in the crowd, will give me the boost I’ll need to get me across that line. More than that though. I feel that I would be doing them a disservice, as well as Thea who has accompanied me on many training sessions and Mark who has looked after our tiny wonder every Sunday while I’ve been off on my longer runs, if I don’t cross the finish at a fraction more than a walking pace. Everyone has been so instrumental in getting me this far and I owe it to them out of gratitude.

penne pasta with brussels sprouts

At the moment I’m unsure about whether marathon running will become a regular part of my life or just a one time goal. Getting to this point has filled a big part of the year, from our little holiday on the Central Coast in June when I ran the Bay to Bay half marathon to our now long weekend in Sydney for the full event, not forgetting all of the scheduled runs in between. It’s really fulfilling to have something to work towards and seeing yourself improve, if only in tiny increments. I like the idea of being a runner, able to put on trainers and fill my lungs with fresh air and get my pulse racing with speed and ease. It feels good. And you see the world from a different viewpoint; houses you’ve never noticed, flowers you’ve taken for granted, hills that always seem easy in a car. The nuances of your surroundings come at you in new and interesting way. So maybe I will continue with my running. Especially if it means I can eat more dinners like this penne pasta with Brussels sprouts. Watch this space.

penne pasta with brussels sproutspenne pasta with brussels sprouts

Penne pasta with brussels sprouts

Inspired by a recipe by Molly Wizenberg

  • 12 brussels sprouts
  • 25g butter
  • 1 cup cream
  • juice of a lemon
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • grating of nutmeg
  • 8 rashers streaky bacon, cut into batons
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup parmesan, finely grated
  • penne pasta

Begin by cutting the ends off the sprouts and discarding any loose outer leaves and then chopping them in half.

Melt the butter over a moderate heat in a large flat bottomed pan and then place the sprouts flat side down in the pan and leave them undisturbed to brown for 5-8 minutes. Flip and then cook for about another 5 minutes on the other side.

When the sprouts are browned on both sides, sprinkle them liberally with salt, pepper and nutmeg, add the cream. Bring it to a gentle simmer, then turn the heat down to its lowest setting, put the lid on the pan and leave the sprouts to cook for about 10 minutes. You want them to be soft but still with a bit of bite and not falling apart. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice.

In a new pan, fry the bacon until crisp and then add to the sprouts. In the same pan that you fried the bacon, with the residual oil, cook the garlic, then also add it to the sprouts along with the parmesan cheese. You can now move to the next step, or leave the sprout mixture in the pan and bath small children, even relax with a glass of wine and proceed to assembling dinner when you are good and ready.

When you are ready for dinner, cook the pasta and when it’s done, to the magical el dente state, about 10 minutes, drain it, but keep a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water aside. Add it together with the pasta to the sprout mixture. Turn the heat back on under the sprout pan, stir and let everything heat through together. This step helps the lovely earthy creamy sauce stick to the pasta. Decant into bowls and eat.

Like this recipe? Then you might like my spaghetti carbonara recipe.

Baked lime chicken burritos


lime chicken burritos

Thursday dinners always seem to be Mexican in our house and this week it was something a little bit different from the normal tacos and quesadillas. I made baked lime chicken burritos. The inspiration for them came from a third birthday party a few weeks ago. This Mr. Three’s parents certainly set the bar high for the rest of us mums and dads in terms of how to throw a kid’s party. Upon walking through the front door we were greeted by dozens of little black felt capes, red stars emblazoned with everyone’s initials on the back, hung ready for their new owners to wear. The centrepiece of the celebration was a spectacular bright red fire engine cake, complete with Oreo cookie wheels, liquorice hose reel and chocolate wafer racks. That was for the littles though. For the grown ups there was delicious shredded chicken burritos.

lime chicken burritos

Before heading to the party I donned my trainers and earphones and headed out for an hours run. I’m still clocking up the miles in preparation for the Sydney marathon, now only a couple of weeks away. Hopefully I’m getting fitter. Some days my legs feel like jelly from the get go. One thing all the exercise does do though is give me an appetite, so despite having breakfast I was still hungry when I arrived at the party and very excited to hear that chicken burritos were going to be served. What fascinated me was the texture of the chicken, like angel hair, apparently shredded in a food processor. Genius. It packs into the tortilla so much better than pieces of chicken because it can be squashed down with the other obligatory burrito ingredients: Sour cream, guacamole, lettuce and grated cheese.

lime chicken burritos lime chicken burritos

So with my new insight of how to shred chicken fantastically fine, I set about cooking some to shred for dinner. Poaching is a great way of cooking poultry it as it helps to keep it moist, so that’s the road I decided to head down. Poaching chicken in milk along with some loosely Mexican inspired flavourings. When it was done (and had cooled), I will admit that I was more excited than I should have been to whizz it in the processor. The resulting chicken resembled fairy floss and was zingy with lime. It would be perfect wrapped up in lettuce leaves along with some strips of carrot and avocado, maybe some red cabbage for extra colour and a dousing of chilli sauce. Or served a top corn chips with some finely diced tomato (seeds removed) and red onion as little tostada appetisers. The chicken could even be poached in coconut milk and then served, strained poaching broth and all, with glass noodles, baby corn and coriander.

lime chicken burritos

This citrus spiked shredded chicken was folded into tortillas along with charred capsicum and onion, which were then packed into dish and baked. Enough for lunch and dinner, to keep my growling tummy tamed. Thea was quite content while all this was happeneing in the kitchen, wearing her super T cape and flying round the lounge. I hope I can come up with such lovely ideas, both to feed and entertain, when Miss 2 turns 3. For now though, I’m just happy with fairy floss chicken. And Thea is happy with her cape.

lime chicken burritos

 

Baked lime chicken burritos

Enough for 6 burritos

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 200 ml milk
  • 1/2 red capsicum
  • 1/2 green capsicum
  • 1 red onion
  • 1-2 cups grated cheese like Cheddar or parmesan
  • 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • pinch chilli flakes, optional
  • tortillas, I used flour ones
  • guacamole to serve, optional

Place the chicken, lime zest and juice, milk, garlic, pepper, salt and milk in an oven proof dish and bake for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

While the chicken is cooling, fry the capsicum and onion in some oil over a medium heat until the edges are nicely browned.

When the chicken is cool, cut it into 4 pieces and pulse it in a food processor until its finely shredded. Be careful not to over do this stage and make chicken puree.

To assemble the burritos, place a spoonful of chicken, some strips of capsicum and onion and a handful of grated cheese in a tortilla and roll. Place the filled tortilla roll in a baking dish and repeat with the remaining ingredients.

When all the tortillas are in the baking dish, pour over the chopped tomatoes, sprinkle over a few chilli flakes and top with as much extra grated cheese as you like.

Bake for 20-30 minutes at 180C until the cheese has melted and is golden and the tortillas are crisp.

Like the idea of poaching chicken in milk? Then you’ll love this recipe

Easy chicken vindaloo recipe

easy chicken vindaloo recipe

How do you celebrate father’s day with your dad when you’re in one country and he’s in another. A 24 hour fight between you. Well, I’ll tell you what I did. I cooked my dad his favourite meal. A spicy pungent Indian curry. And ate it in his honour. I think he would have liked my easy chicken vindaloo recipe. And I hope he likes the honesty and the good intentions that this post was written with, which is dedicated to him.

easy chicken vindaloo recipe

It must be hard being a dad and having your only child live so far away. Even harder when said child forgets English father’s day, in June, Australian father’s day being in September. There was a time when I didn’t send my dad father’s day cards at all, owing to a turbulent series of events during my teenage years. But as I grow older, I have come to see that people simply try to make the best of life. The best of their choices. Whatever may have come to pass, I am his daughter, he is my father and there is an unending bond between us.

easy chicken vindaloo recipe

If I think back to my childhood, it was a fun one. My dad would always be the one to encourage me to do adventurous things. Riding down rapids in a little blue and yellow inflatable boat at a river that we always used to visit. Jumping the big waves in the sea at Newquay until I had turned blue from the cold. Hanging from the beams in our house and when I could no longer hold on falling on to the bean bag that he had placed below. Sitting on his lap and steering the car up our steep driveway turning the wheel round the tree at the top my grandma protesting loudly in the back. Picking up large spiders trapped in the bath with my bare hands and returning them back outside. He instilled in me a sense of fearlessness, a spirit to just do things and make ideas happen. He made me believe that I could do anything that I set my mind to.

easy chicken vindaloo recipe

I’m sure that he is partly responsible for my passion for food too. You see my dad loves to eat. He’s one of those people for whom food is not just fuel for the body, it’s pleasure, it stimulates the senses, brings people together. The enjoyment of food for him is living life to its fullest. Thinking of him is thinking about Sunday roasts with every side and condiment available, a pub lunch of gammon and chips with pineapple AND a fried egg (you’re supposed to have one or the other), a full english breakfast, porridge, toast and a pot of tea, Chinese spare ribs, Greek lamb kleftiko, duck a l’orange and crepes Suzette flambéed at the table, asparagus and hollandaise sauce, bread and butter pudding with custard and ice cream, gooseberry fool. And of course, Indian curries.

easy chicken vindaloo recipe

Every Friday when I was wee, mum, dad and I and another family of three would go out for an Indian meal. Papadums, mango chutney, lime pickle, raita, samosas, bajees, naan bread, korma, malaya, tikka, jalfrezi, pilau, saag, gobi and of course vindaloo, are all words I could say probably before I could read. The restaurant that we went to was called Ali’s, run by Marge and Ali. When they returned to India to visit family, they used to bring back gifts for us. That’s how much we ate there.

easy chicken vindaloo recipe

So whatever has passed between us, I know that my dad still instinctively understands me like no other. He gave me some of the most important beliefs and values that I have. To chase after your dreams and not to stop until you achieve them, to dive head first into challenges without fear, to always entertain a sense of adventure and take the path less traveled. A dad who can do this, who can give you these qualities, has done a remarkable job. The hurt that was caused is in the past and the future is full of possibility. I think that food has a way of transcending words, so despite the fact that he can’t taste my easy chicken vindaloo recipe, hopefully the symbolic gesture of making it for him will convey my sentiments. Happy father’s day dad. I love you x

Easy chicken vindaloo recipe

Adapted from a recipe my Madhur Jafrey

  • 2 onions
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 2 inch piece ginger
  • 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 11/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 – 1tsp cayenne pepper **add as little or as much as you like to suit your chilli palate
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 2 tbsp ghee, butter or oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 120ml apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 large chicken, jointed or 4 small chicken breasts, diced

In a food processor, blitz the onion, garlic and ginger and then add the turmeric, garam masala, **cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin and coriander and mix again until everything is well combined.

In a couple of tablespoons of ghee (I love Pepe Saya‘s), fry the mustard and fennel seeds until that start to pop and then add the curry paste that you have just made.

Fry for a couple of minutes before adding about three tablespoons of water and putting a lid on the pot and leaving the curry paste to slowly simmer for about 20 minutes to cook out the spices. Stir from time to time.

After the 20 minutes is up, add the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and salt, stir to combine, then submerge the chicken pieces in the sauce and cook for about 30-40 minutes until the chicken is cooked.

At this point, to get the most flavour from this easy chicken vindaloo recipe, once the curry has cooled, store it in the fridge overnight and then gently reheat the next day. Serve with rice and any veggies that you fancy, but broccoli or cauliflower would work well.

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