Saturday, January 3, 2015

BLT Salad

If you want to impress your friends, make them this. I mean, who doesn't love a good BLT? Especially when you're dealing with a festive season hangover. It's a great one for sharing and soaking up some of last night's vino.

I made this in order to use up some leftover roast chicken and baguette from Christmas Day, but it turned out to be such a winner that I think it might just become a Boxing Day tradition. It's not exactly calorie-friendly, but hey, you can't be good all the time. 


1 cos lettuce, roughly chopped
1 avocado, diced
6 rashers streaky bacon, roughly diced
1/4  leftover roast or BBQ chicken (optional)
1/2 punnet kumatoes, halved
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
1/2 baguette or French stick, cut into 2cm cubes


2 tbsp whole egg mayo
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt and cracked pepper

Heat a large frypan over medium-high heat (no oil) and fry the bacon until crispy, then remove from the pan and drain on paper towel, but don't discard the fat! This is where it gets good... Return the pan with the bacon fat to the heat, and throw in the diced baguette, frying until golden and crispy all over. Yes.

Next grab yourself a wooden serving board or large platter and scatter over the lettuce, tomatoes and avocado. Shred the chicken (if you're using it) and scatter over the salad, along with the bacon bits, croutons and hard-boiled eggs. Drizzle over as much dressing as you would like, and get stuck in!

Serves 4.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Quinoa salad with chicken, feta and dill

I've been attempting to clean up my diet lately, what with summer finally arriving and the threat of bikini-related outings looming over me... I'm usually good for a few days and then all like, PIZZA.

Clearly I was riding the health train when I whipped this up, and the results were delicious! Even better still the next day for lunch, and I've since decided that dill is my new favourite herb. Totally and completely underrated.

For this recipe I pretty much just grabbed everything green from the fridge, cooked some quinoa and chicken and threw it all together in a bowl without a great deal of thought, so there's no need to be getting all caught up with precise measurements or exact ingredients here. And for my vegetarian friends out there, this would be just as delicious without the chicken.

1 cup quinoa
4 chicken tenderloins
1/2 head broccoli, cut into florets
2 spring onions, finely sliced
40g low fat feta cheese, crumbled
10 almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
Heaped tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Heaped tablespoon chopped dill
Big handful of baby spinach
Juice of one lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
Salt and pepper

Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions, then transfer it to a serving bowl. While it's still hot, mix the broccoli florets through so the steam cooks it slightly. Set that aside to cool while you prepare the other ingredients.

Marinate the chicken with a tablespoon of olive oil, lemon pepper and chilli flakes, grill on the barbeque for a few minutes on each side until perfectly tender, then chop into bite size pieces. You can also use a grill or frying pan if you don't have a BBQ.

After the chicken is cooked, add it to the quinoa along with the herbs, spinach, feta and almonds and give it a good mix. For the dressing, simply whisk the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil with lemon juice, add a light splash of red wine vinegar and salt and pepper. Pour over the salad, mix well and you're done.

Enjoy! This recipe makes 4 decent serves.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Secret Sandwiches

Everyone has that one food they secretly love, but would never eat in front of others, right? Or am I just a weirdo? For me, it was always noodles that raised my anxiety levels, but thankfully I was able to get over that particular eccentricity and can now be seen happily slurping away in public without a care in the world. 

Now I have a new aversion. An aversion of the curried variety. That's right, the humble curried egg sandwich is probably one of my favourite things to eat, but there's no way in hell you'll catch me eating one outside of the house. 

And I know I'm not the only one out there  just visit the lunchroom in any office building after a catered meeting and you're bound to find a few straggling sandwiches kicking about, and 9 times out of 10 they're the curried egg ones that get left behind. It would appear nobody is super keen on sharing spicy egg breath with their colleagues. Plus, well... boiled eggs do smell kind of gross as a general rule.

Aversions aside, there's no reason why you can't get your fix at home! Carry on, I say.

Here's how I make mine:

2 hard boiled eggs*
1 tbsp FULL FAT mayonnaise 
1 (heaped) tsp curry powder
Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Mash the eggs with a fork, add the mayo, curry powder and season to taste. Stir it all together and serve it between two slices of super fresh bread, with some finely shredded iceberg lettuce. And, if you're feeling devilish, there's no reason to not smear one side of your bread with a good dollop of extra mayo. Go on, no-one's looking.

*For perfect hard boiled eggs every time, place your eggs in a pot of cold water and bring it up to the boil. Ensure the eggs are completely submerged. As soon as the water begins to boil, set a timer for 10 minutes and let them bubble away. When time is up, pour out the boiling water and cover the eggs with cold water.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Breakfast Faves

Oh, how I love a good cafe breakfast. Especially on the weekend. Or any day. Whatever. 

Being a creature of habit, but also fortunate enough to live in one of Melbourne's most happening suburbs, I don't ever have to venture very far from home for a delicious plate of, well... anything. But for the purpose of this post we'll be focusing on the glory that is: B R E A K F A S T. 

Fitzroy and Collingwood are (in my opinion) home to some of the best cafes Melbourne has to offer, and today I'd like to pay homage to some of my tried and true favourites, and maybe throw some newbies in for good measure. Here goes.

1. Bluebird Espresso, Johnston Street Collingwood. 

My absolute favourite! These guys just never get it wrong. Coffee by Proud Mary and food from heaven. You can even BYO a beer to go with your breakfast. I mean... need I say more?

2. Industry Beans, Rose Street Fitzroy

Most definitely my second favourite breakfast haunt, featuring possibly the best scrambled eggs known to man. And don't even get me started on the smashed av with green tea salt. 

3. Proud Mary, Oxford Street Collingwood

What can I say.... the food is incredible, but really, it's all about the coffee here for me. It's just, well, the best.

4. Addict Food and Coffee, Johnston Street Fitzroy

This new guy on the block is proving to be quite the place to be, with top-notch beans from Padre and a compact little menu featuring some interesting choices. The corn fritters are pretty damn special, as is the house-toasted muesli.

5. Bebida, Smith Street Fitzroy

Bebida seems to be overlooked as a breakfast venue sometimes, but I've always found it to be quite the pleasant retreat from the crazy weekend crowds and queues. I can always get a table, and the menu is interesting and totally delicious  plus I just can't go past anything with jalapenos, so...

6. Ici, Napier Street Fitzroy

Ici has been around forever but recently changed owners. So of course I was keen to find out how the new guys were running things, given my affection for this very cute, longstanding local. 

Thankfully, Ici is still doing things right. The coffee is superb and the menu small, but quirky. Nothing like a couple of soft-boiled eggs with Vegemite soldiers to get you going in the morning. 

So there you have it! My top six picks for Fitzroy / Collingwood. What do you think? Have I missed anyone's favourite?

Friday, June 6, 2014

For the Freezer: Chicken Wontons

We all have days when we just can't be arsed with cooking, and it's generally on those days when we reach for the take-out menu. Wouldn't it be nice to have a healthier alternative? Yes, I think so.

Personally I'm a big fan of the freezer, and love to have a big cook-up day every month or so and make a whole batch of different goodies to freeze, in anticipation of lazy days ahead. Wontons are a definite favourite at our place, but not being a massive fan of pork I tend to opt for chicken. This recipe will work fine with either protein though, so go with whichever you prefer. 

Versatile little suckers; you can deep-fry or steam them as a starter or cheeky snack, or pop a few into an asian-style broth to jazz up a soup.

500g free range chicken (or pork) mince
1/2 tsp minced or finely grated ginger
1 tsp chilli garlic sauce
100g water chestnuts, finely chopped
1 tbsp coriander stalks, washed and finely chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp white pepper
270g (pack of 40) wonton skins

You'll also need a small bowl of water on hand, a plastic container suitable for use in the freezer and some baking paper.

To make the filling, simply combine all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl, and give it a really good scrunch up with your hands. Don't mess about with a wooden spoon or anything –  just get right in there and get dirty. 

First step, take a teaspoon of the chicken mix, and place it in the centre of a wonton skin.

Dip your finger in the water and slightly wet two sides, then fold it over to form a triangle. Carefully push out any air so it doesn't burst when you cook it.

Turn the triangle so the top point is facing you, wet one of the end points, then fold and squash the ends together.

Then flip the top point up, so it forms a little boat shape, like so:

Repeat this process until you run out of wonton skins, then layer them up in a plastic container, with baking paper in between each layer so they don't stick. I like to freeze mine in layers of 10, as I tend to make soup most of the time for myself and Mr B, and five each works out nicely.

Stored correctly, these will last for a month or so in the freezer, if you can resist eating them all at once!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Carrot, Chickpea and Ginger Soup

Soup, soup, soupy soup. Yep, more soup. Don't you just love it? What better way to use up old-ish veggies hanging around the fridge. I know I've said it before, but you know, soup.

This recipe came about one afternoon last week, when I was in one of those 'not braving the supermarket' moods, and needed to come up with something tasty for dinner. The fridge was a barren wasteland, bar a few sad-looking carrots, so soup was really the only option. Yet with the addition of just a few simple pantry staples, voila! One delicious, healthy and totally thrifty dinner was served.

1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger, finely grated
2 sticks celery, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 potato, peeled and roughly chopped
400g (1 tin) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1L chicken or vegetable stock
Sea salt and cracked pepper
Olive oil
Chilli flakes (optional)

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, and saute the onion, garlic, ginger and celery until softened and fragrant. Add the carrots, potato and chickpeas, stirring briefly, then add the stock and season well with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and allow to simmer for about an hour.

Once the vegetables are cooked through, use a stick blender to puree the soup to a smooth consistency. Check and adjust the seasoning if required, then serve garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of chilli flakes.