Lunch

8th July
2012
written by Nibblish

This tasty and healthy dish was inspired by my recent trip to Bali. Peanut sauce is one of the most popular local speciality, served with anything ranging from meats to vegetables. Chicken sate (or satay) is a wonderful alternative to a classic chicken kebab and also the perfect exotic addition to your next barbecue session!

Ingredients: Serves 4

Chicken skewers:
4 shallots
3 garlic cloves
25g root ginger
1-2 chillies
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp each ground turmeric
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground white pepper
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp tamarind paste (optional)
2 lime leaves , thinly sliced (optional)
500g chicken fillet, finely sliced
Wooden skewers, soaked in boiling water

Peanut sauce:
2 tablespoons oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 chillies
200g peanuts, unsalted & dry roasted
3 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
3 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp salt
250 ml hot water

Instructions:

1. Peel & finely chop shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies. Measure spices and place into a separate bowl.

2. Heat oil in a pan over a medium heat and fry the shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies for 1-2 minutes. Add a tablespoon of water to help soften, stir in the dry spices and fry for a minute.

3. Remove the pan from the heat, let the mixture cool down, then blend to a paste and add the tamarind paste and shredded lime leaves if using. Season with salt.

4. Place chicken strips in a bowl, pour marinade over it, combine well and thread 5 chicken pieces onto each skewer.

5. To prepare the peanut sauce heat the oil in a saucepan add chillies, garlic and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft. Add peanuts and roast for another minute.

6. Place the mixture in a food processor; add salt, sugar, hot water and process again to make a thick sauce. Add fish sauce to taste.

7. Grill on the barbecue or griddle pan for 8-10 mins or until slightly charred on both sides and cooked inside.


Serve with peanut sauce, pita bread and a fresh cucumber salad for a light summer lunch or alternatively garnish with fried shallots and serve with a side of steamed rice or Nasi Goreng for a more authentic Indonesian meal.

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14th August
2011
written by Nibblish

Chicken pies and pies in general are the perfect feel-good food. Rich and flavourful, it’s the perfect home-cooked meal for your friends and family. It’s also pretty quick and easy, especially when using ready-made pastry. Once you’ve tried this classic, you will find yourself try all sorts of tasty variations of your own!

Creamy chicken & bacon pie

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
300g chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 brown onion, roughly chopped
2 medium clove garlic, peeled and crushed
100g shortcut bacon, finely diced
½ leek, finely chopped
6 mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1/3 cup thyme sprigs
Salt and pepper, to taste
20g grated cheese (optional)
1-2 sheets shortcrust pastry
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten

Chicken & Mushroom pie recipe

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 200°C and heat the oil in a large frying pan. Place the chicken in the pan, season with salt & pepper and cook for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Cook in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan if necessary. Remove and set aside.

2. Add the bacon to the same pan and cook until lovely & crisp. Add the onion, garlic, leek to the pan and sauté for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown.


3. Add the flour and cook, stirring continuously for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the stock, then the milk. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened & creamy. Season to taste.

Chicken & Mushroom pie filling recipe

4. Grease a round baking tray and dust it with flour to make it non stick. Flip it over the puff pastry and cut around it to form the lid of the pie. Set aside. Repeat with the shortcrust pastry, but this time cut circles about 1.5cm from the edge of the tin.

5. Ease shortcrust pastry circle into pie the tin, spoon in the chicken mixture, sprinkle with a bit of grated cheese if you fancy it.

6. Top with the puff pastry. Cut a small cheminee on top to allow the steam to escape while cooking, press edges to seal, trim any excess pastry using a sharp knife and brush with the egg glaze.

7. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

Serve with a side of salad for a summer dish or with vegetable, mash and gravy for a heartier winter meal! If you don’t have short-crust pastry, you can simply use puff pastry for the pie base as well as the lid, it’s just not as traditional!

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10th April
2011
written by Nibblish

Croque Madame, or “crispy miss” is a tweaked version of the classic French “Croque Monsieur” more commonly referred to as “croque” in most French bistros. The addition of the fried egg and bechamel sauce on top turns it from a Monsieur to a Madam… it’s a sensational Sunday brunch option!

Croque Monsieur, croque Madame, French brunch

Ingredients: (serves 4)
8 slices sandwich bread
4 tbsp hot mustard
200g, freshly sliced ham
60g Gruyere cheese, finely sliced
4 tbsp butter, softened
40g Gruyere cheese, grated
2 tablespoons oil
4 eggs

Béchamel:
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1 pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Instructions:

1. Preheat the grill to 150 degrees and divide the sliced ham and cheese evenly into 4 portions. Spread the mustard on 4 slices of bread, cover with ham and with cheese. Place the remaining slices of bread on top of the cheese and spread the butter over the outside surfaces of the sandwiches.

2. To prepare the bechamel sauce, melt the butter into a small sauce pan and whisk in the flour until it forms a smooth paste. Gradually add the milk and continue whisking and cook until the sauce is smooth, and thickened. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

3. Place the sandwiches on an ungreased baking sheet and grill for about 3 minutes on each side, turn them over, cover with a layer of bechamel sauce and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and continue cooking until they are crispy and golden brown.

4. In the meantime, pre-heat oil in a large frying pan and fry the eggs. Place a fried egg on each sandwich and serve hot.

For a classic croque-monsieur, simply omit the bechamel sauce and fried egg!

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5th April
2011
written by Nibblish

This basic gnocchi recipe is really easy to follow and will give you the perfect, delicate, super soft and heavenly gnocchi which can be dressed in many different ways! A simple tomato sauce and grated cheese is a very delicious and authentic way to serve it, but you may prefer tossing it with other classic flavour combinations, such butter & sage, parm ham & ricotta, garlic & wild mushrooms, or peas & mint.

Potato gnocchi, gnocci

Ingredients: serves 4

Gnocchi
6-8 large potatoes
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup plain flour
1 pinch nutmeg, grated
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Classic Tomato Sauce
5 ripe tomatoes, chopped or 1 can diced tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 handful Basil, thinly sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Parmesan, freshly grated

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Instructions:

1. Boil potatoes in salted water for about 25 minutes or until tender, drain and let is cool down for 10 minutes or so. Peel and mash the flesh while still warm and place into a large mixing bowl. Fold in the egg yolks and the flour, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and gradually add a little more flour if the mixture is still too wet and sticky to form a ball.

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2. Divide the mixture in 4-6 portions, roll each piece into a sausage shape on a floured surface and cut each into thick slices.

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3. To shape the gnocchi, place it against the back of a fork, press in and down the length of the fork. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi, dust with a bit of flour and cover with a wet cloth for up to a couple of hours or until ready to cook.

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4. To prepare the sauce, pre-heat a splash of oil in a frying pan, add the garlic, onion and season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and cook gently for 5 minutes and stir in the chopped basil.

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5. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Boil the gnocchi in small batches in salted water for 2-3 minutes, scoop out with a slotted spoon as they start floating to the surface and continue until all remaining gnocchi have been cooked. Place the cooked gnocchi in the sauce and place in a baking tray. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

While a little fiddly, gnocchi can be really rewarding to make fresh as the soft little pillows will taste amazing, honestly nothing like the supermarket bought version! One last little tip, be careful not to add too much flour though as the more flour the firmer the gnocchi will be. Adding some salt to the water will prevent the gnocchi from sticking and disintegrating while cooking. When the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to moderate. Try and add small batches of gnocchi at a time to ensure the temperature remains stable. If you wish to freeze the gnocchi, do so before they’ve been cooked and start by laying them on a tray to prevent them from sticking together. Once frozen, you can stick them in a freezing bag to store.

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20th March
2011
written by Nibblish

Everyone loves sushi nowadays, but very few know how to prepare restaurant quality sushi at home, which is a shame given how crowded and expensive Japanese restaurants can be! Now, the good news is that making sushi at home is actually very easy and I can guarantee you will love it and it will become your favourite dish for dinner parties! The only difficult part is finding high quality sea food and sushi rice, so that it has the correct amount of starch needed to make the rice glossy and sticky, not mushy or dry. You can find this style of rice at most well-stocked grocery stores or Asian markets and sashimi fish from a good fishmonger.

Ingredients: (12-16 pieces)

200g fresh sashimi fish, such as salmon and/or tuna
2 cups sushi rice (also called japonica rice)
1/4 cup Japanese rice vinegar + extra to moisten your hands
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Wasabi
Soy sauce
Pickled Ginger

Instructions:

1. Soak the rice for 15 minutes in cold water and rinse several times until the final change of water runs almost clear. Steam the rinsed rice following the package’s directions.

2. Heat the vinegar, sugar and salt in a sauce pan over medium heat until fully dissolved, but without boiling the mixture. Take off the heat and let it cool.

3. When the rice has finished cooking, transfer it to a wooden bowl or at least non-metallic, as metal can react with vinegar and ruin flavours. Using a plastic or wooden spoon, cool down the rice by gently spreading it out and folding in the vinegar mixture gradually until evenly sticky and shiny.

4. To shape the sushi rice, dampen fingers and hands with a small amount of rice vinegar to make it non stick. Pick up about 2 to 3 tsp. rice in one hand and shape into a rectangle with rounded corners. Repeat the process until you’ve got enough sushi pieces. Dip your forefinger into wasabi and spread a small amount onto the rice.

5. Slice the fish into thin slices. Aim for an opposite angle to the veins and using a long sharp knife, cut straight across the width of the block at a 45 degrees angle, in one long stroke. Repeat with the rest of the fish.

6. To assemble the nigiri, pick up a slice of fish, place it on top of the sushi rice base in the palm of your hand. Press the sides and top to place fish firmly onto rice. Continue with the rest of the fish.
Place on a plate and serve with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.

Make sure you give it a fair go. While step 5 and 6 may be a bit tricky at first, you’ll feel much more confident by your second or third piece and the result will be really rewarding!

If you found this one easy and feel up for more, why not take a look at my California Roll instructions to make it a full sushi mix platter!

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20th March
2011
written by Nibblish

A California roll is a creative American twist on sushi. It’s really easy to make, can be great addition to a sushi platter, a fresh canapé idea for a party, but can also be saved in cling film for a healthy lunch!

Ingredients: ( 4 rolls)

2 cups sushi rice (also called japonica rice)
1/4 cup Japanese rice vinegar + extra to moisten your hands
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 sheets nori (seaweed sheets)
1 avocado, peeled, cut into thin slices
100g sashimi salmon, cut into strips
wasabi paste
pickled ginger
soy sauce

Instructions:

1. Soak the rice for 15 minutes in cold water and rinse several times until the final change of water runs almost clear. Steam the rinsed rice following the package’s directions.

2. Heat the vinegar, sugar and salt in a sauce pan over medium heat until fully dissolved, but without boiling the mixture. Take off the heat and let it cool.

3. When the rice has finished cooking, transfer it to a wooden bowl or at least non-metallic, as metal can react with vinegar and ruin flavours. Using a plastic or wooden spoon, cool down the rice by gently spreading it out and folding in the vinegar mixture gradually until evenly sticky and shiny.

4. Place a sheet of nori, shiny side down, onto a bamboo mat or sheet of baking paper. spread 3/4 cup of sushi rice mixture with wet hands, leaving a 3cm border uncovered at the end. Spread a small line of wasabi to one end and place a strip of avocado and fish. Roll up firmly, using the mat or baking paper as a guide, seal by moistening the uncovered strip using your finger.

5. Repeat with remaining nori and fillings. Cut each roll into 6 pieces. Serve with wasabi and soy sauce.

You can also replace the avocado with cucumber and the salmon with crab sticks for a change.
If you found this one easy and feel up for more, why not take a look at my Nigiri Sushi instructions to make it a full sushi mix platter!

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13th March
2011
written by Nibblish

A good quiche is an extremely simple and fast meal to make, but never fails to impress. It’s perfect for brunch, lunch, dinner, for a picnic or even as party food!

Ingredients: (serve 4 as a starter or 2 as a main)

1 sheet ready rolled shortcrust pastry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 rashers bacon, rind removed, finely chopped
1 tbsp coriander or parsley
1 large leek, washed and thinly sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 eggs and 1 egg yolk, beaten
1 cup milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 200°C and lightly grease and flour a round oven tray to make it non stick. Lay the pastry sheet, trim excess and prick the bottom with a fork to prevent it from bubbling as it bakes. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, coriander and bacon and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Add the leek and cook for another 5 minutes or until soft and slightly caramelized. Cool and sprinkle over cooked pastry.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 180°C. Whisk the eggs with the milk in a mixing bowl. Stir in half the cheese, grated nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Pour over bacon and leek, sprinkle the remaining cheese and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.


Let is rest for 5 minutes and serve with a green salad!
If you fancy of change, swap the bacon for salmon, and the leek for spinach, mushroom or asparagus.

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6th March
2011
written by Nibblish

Blue cheese is a great addition to a gourmet burger at home, but imagine if the cheese wasn’t on top but inside…the creamy cheese leaking of the burger as you bite into it. Absolutely delicious!

Ingredients (serves 2):

300g beef, freshly minced
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 bunch coriander, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper & sea salt flakes
2 tbsp Worcester sauce
1 egg
30g blue cheese
olive oil
2 soft bread buns

toppings
1/2 small onion, finely sliced
2 slices lettuce
1/2 tomato, finely sliced
4 cornichons or 1 large pickled gherkin, finely sliced

Sauce
2 tsp ketchup
2 tsp mayonnaise
1/2 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped
1/2 red chili, finely chopped

Extra Toppings
1 tsp Pesto (optional)
4 slices of Gruyere cheese (optional)
1/2 avocado, mashed (optional)
2 flat mushrooms (optional)

Intructions

1. Place mince into a large mixing bowl, add the egg, chopped onion, garlic, coriander, worcester sauce. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Shape a patty with a fourth of the mixture, place half of the blue cheese on top and place another thin patty on top of filling. Press lightly to seal. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until ready to cook.

2. Pre-heat oil in a large frying pan and cook the burgers for 3 mins on each side. Season with a pinch of salt & pepper.

3. To prepare the sauce, combine the ketchup and mayo, add the fresh chives and chili.

4. Cut the bread buns in half, spread a spoonful of sauce, slices tomatoes lettuce leaves on one side and cheese, cornichons and any other toppings on the other one. Place burger on top and serve immediately.

Make sure you choose the freshest ingredients for the best results, but don’t use lean beef as a bit of fat is better for juicy burgers!

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3rd March
2011
written by Nibblish

Filet is the most tender of all the types of steak and is also lean and healthy. It is often also the most expensive cut available, so you want to make sure you cook it to perfection! While searing is a good way to cook a filet, finishing it in the oven helps it cook more evenly. The garlic & parsley butter is a simple but elegant way to add an extra touch of je ne sais quoi!

Ingredients: (serves 4)

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 parsley bunch, finely chopped
100g butter, cubed
4 x 150g marbled fillet steaks
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

1. Remove the steak from the refrigerator and pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. To make the parsley butter, mix the parsley, garlic, and salt together, add the cubed butter to the parsley-garlic mixture.

2. Place the mixture into a plastic wrap, roll it tight and refrigerate.

3. Heat a frying pan on medium/high heat, season your steaks and grill for 2 minute on each side to seal the juices in.


4. Transfer to a hot baking tray and finish it in the oven for 5-6 minutes for medium rare.

5. Remove from the oven, place on a rack and cover with foil and leave in a warm place for up to 10 minutes. Serve it with a slice of garlic and parsley butter on top a side of Dauphinoise Potato Gratin. Click here for the recipe!


Any leftover butter can be held for at least a week in the refrigerator, or frozen for several weeks. It’s delicious with grilled prawns, pasta or crusty bread!


Re-cap: Top 5 secrets for the perfect steak:

1. Prepare it
Allow to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before cooking.
Brush your steak lightly with some olive oil, rather than the pan

2. Let it sizzle
The pan should be hot enough so that the steak sizzles as it first hits the heat.

3. Turn it once
Only flip the steak once to keep it tender.

4. Shorter on the other side
It won’t take as much to cook evenly through.

5. Let it rest
To seal in the flavour and juices, it’s very important to let the meat rest for a few minutes after cooking

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27th February
2011
written by Nibblish

A Potato Salad is the perfect accompaniment for barbecues and picnics, as it’s best served with meat, seafood and a green leaf salad…A real classic for summer!

Ingredients: (serves 6 people as a side)

12 small potatoes (such as desiree), peeled
4 bacon rashers, rind & excess fat trimmed, finely chopped
3 large tbsp whole egg mayonnaise
3 large tbsp sour cream
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 shallots, finely chopped
6 gherkins, finely chopped
2 tbsp carpers, finely chopped
1/2 bunch of dill, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper & sea salt flakes

Instructions:

1. Cut each potato into 4, place in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to boil and boil uncovered for 10 minutes or until tender when pierced with a stick. Drain and let it cool completely.
In the meantime, heat oil a small frying pan and cook the diced bacon until nice and brown.

2. Combine together the mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic into a mixing bowl. Top with the dill, gherkin, carpers, shallots and mix well. Taste and season with salt & pepper.

3. Gently toss in the potatoes and bacon bits and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.

You can store the potato salad in the fridge for a few days. You can also top it with pieces of hard boiled eggs if you’re serving it as a main!

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