Well, there’s a first time for everything… and I do believe that this is the first deep-fried recipe to make its way onto Gather & Graze. Karaage Chicken (a Japanese dish) has lately become a family favourite, particularly when made into burgers with brioche-style milk buns, lettuce leaves and a dollop or two of chilli-kissed mayonnaise to bring it all together. Continue reading →
Cacciatore, meaning ‘hunter’ in Italian, is also the name given to a wonderful winter-warming stew. It’s a well-loved Italian classic, with many variations to explore. Capsicum (peppers, for my American friends) and/or mushrooms are quite often added and I have no doubt that there’s a debate to be had over whether to choose red or white wine. Continue reading →
Finding the right balance of flavours when creating Asian dishes at home can sometimes be a challenge. So when this dish hit the spot with each and every member of the family, I figured it was definitely worthy of featuring on Gather and Graze. The amount of chilli is just enough to tingle on the tongue, without making eyes water and noses run… and the sauce generously coats the chicken and vegetables, without leaving a puddle of liquid on the bottom of the bowl. The two slightly unusual ingredients, Kecap Manisand Sambal Oelek, can be found in most good Asian grocery stores and in many everyday supermarkets here in Australia. I hope this is also the case for those who live overseas as well. Continue reading →
Feeling refreshed and recuperated after our long summer break, the boys are now back at school and my mind can finally refocus a little on my dear Gather and Graze. I hope you’ve all been well over the past few months and may I (somewhat belatedly) wish each and every one of you a very Happy New Year.
This recipe has been a popular one with our family through the summer time, though I can certainly picture us eating it year round, as the flavour is simply too good to set aside as a seasonal dish. Continue reading →
A quick little post to share a delicious, yet fast and easy chicken dish that we enjoyed a couple of nights ago. So much to love about sticky, finger-licking chicken thigh fillets that take only a few moments to prep and about half an hour to cook! These will be fabulous when the kids go back to school in a couple of week’s time and I’m looking for those fast mid-week meals once again! Continue reading →
The partnership between Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi is one that I find truly inspirational. They both seem to have an intuition for creating beautifully balanced food, that delivers in not only flavour and texture, but visually as well. The fact that their friendship is stronger than politics (one being of Palestinian background and the other Israeli) is also something to be celebrated and admired. Continue reading →
Our evenings have begun to cool off. Evidence that Autumn is well and truly on it’s way. Rain in it’s various shapes and forms has been welcomed, regardless of whether it bucketed down like there was no tomorrow or drizzled finely in silver threads (as it’s doing right now). It’s brought a shade of green back to the landscape that is so much more pleasing to the eye than the brittle straw-brown that we’re all too used to in this part of the country. Summer has been harsh, as usual, yet we’ve made it through and slip fluidly into the delights of Autumn, without even a second thought.
During this change of seasons (welcomed perhaps in both hemispheres), a warm appetiser such as the one to follow can be a truly wonderful thing. Full of flavour and the perfect size for nibbling on between sips of chilled white wine. Or beer… they would certainly go well with a pale ale as well.
My offering for Angie’s Fiesta Friday extravaganza this week are these scrumptious Thai-infused appetisers – the perfect party food to share with friends at The Novice Gardener… or nibblies for a family of four on a cool drizzly afternoon!
75g/¾ Cup (Seaweed or Plain) Rice Crackers (crushed in the food processor)
1 Large Clove of Garlic (finely chopped)
1 Thumb-size Piece of Fresh Ginger (finely grated)
2 Shallots/Scallions (finely chopped)
2 Tablespoons Fresh Coriander (finely chopped)
1 Small Red Chilli (finely chopped and seeds removed)
1 Free-Range Egg White
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
¼ Teaspoon Sesame Oil
A few good grindings of Black Pepper
¼ Teaspoon Sea Salt
Vegetable Oil (for frying)
Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and using a spoon (or your hands) mix until well combined. Roll mixture into balls (approximately 3cm in diameter).
Place enough oil into a medium-sized frying pan to be able to shallow fry and place the pan over medium heat.
When the oil is hot enough, fry the chicken meatballs in batches, turning them all the time for even cooking. When they are golden brown (and cooked through), remove to a plate lined with some absorbent paper to sit for a few minutes.
Serve while warm/hot with some sweet chilli sauce for dipping.
Notes on Cooking:
The crushed rice crackers can always be substituted with bread crumbs (panko would be my preference).
If you are open to it, food inspiration flies at you from all four corners of the globe. It enables you to explore far-flung locations in one of the most beautiful ways possible… by discovering what nourishes and brings happiness to the people who live there. To understand what warms their hearts and puts smiles on their faces. The multiculturalism that exists here in Australia is something I respect whole-heartedly and I seem to naturally find myself cooking a wide variety of cuisines because of it. Continue reading →
The school which my children attend has a wonderful canteen that offers an extensive array of healthy and delicious lunch options. Though a couple of days ago when I stopped by to chat with the lovely lady who runs the canteen, she mentioned that there were 3 items on their menu that she would love to see removed, due to them being overly processed and shipped in, packed frozen in boxes ready for re-heating.
She asked whether I might help by coming up with a couple of home-made replacements that we could get the kids to sample over the next two weeks, with a view to adding them permanently to the menu when school goes back next year.
So this week, I’ve started playing around with a recipe for home-made Chicken Sausage Rolls, packed with a flavoursome range of veggies, to keep those dear little bodies and minds as healthy as possible. My fingers are crossed that the kids will all give them the thumbs up when we pass around some samples at lunchtime next week! I’ll be sure to let you know if they are a success… or if it’s back to the drawing board.
Chicken & Vegetable Sausage Rolls | Gather and Graze
Egg Wash (1 Free-Range Egg beaten together with 1 Tablespoon Milk)
Sesame Seeds (optional)
In a food processor (or by hand), very finely chop the onion, garlic, carrot and leek. Place into a large mixing bowl with the chicken, breadcrumbs, egg, herbs and seasonings and mix until well combined. Separate mixture into roughly 6 portions.
Cut each sheet of puff pastry in half and using hands, form a long sausage of mixture lengthways down the middle of each piece of pastry. Roll the pastry around the sausage mixture and use a little egg wash to help seal the seam. Cut each roll into about 6 smaller rolls and then place them (seam-side down) on baking trays lined with baking paper/parchment. Allow the un-cooked sausage rolls to rest in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
At this stage, pre-heat your oven to 200°C.
Just before placing in the oven, cut a couple of slits in the top of each roll (to avoid filling bursting from each end) and brush with a little egg wash. Bake at 200ºC for the first 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 180°C for a further 15 minutes, or until golden brown and fully cooked through.
The onion, garlic and leek can be gently fried in a little olive oil and then cooled before adding to the rest of the ingredients. I find that this isn’t necessary if all vegetables are very finely chopped – a simple task with a food processor.
A variety of other vegetables could be added to this recipe – I’ll be trying some grated zucchini/courgette next time in lieu of the leek.
If the mixture feels too sticky, add another tablespoon or two of breadcrumbs.
This is one of our favourite family dinners – a dish that everyone finds appealing and that can easily be adapted for seasonal changes and whims. Shown in the photo above is how this meal usually finds it’s way to our table – with the olive oil, Vino Cotto, garlic and juice from tomatoes coming together to form a wonderful, light sauce to spoon over the top. Continue reading →
‘Gather and Graze’ is not about preparing elaborate, complicated meals – that was never my intention. Mostly it’s about sharing food, recipes and ideas that bring both happiness and nourishment to our own small family. It is also published in the unwavering hope that it will reach those people teetering on the verge of discovering how wonderfully simple cooking can be… Continue reading →
A few weeks ago when my children and I were unwell, I went searching for the ultimate in health-promoting, comforting and most importantly… delicious-tasting soups. It was a given that it had to be based around chicken, but when I came across this rather lovely recipe featuring leeks, garlic, lemon and a little pasta, I knew that I’d found exactly what I was looking for! It is a recipe that I’ve adapted (ever so slightly) from one of my favourite Neil Perry cookbooks, called ‘The Food I Love’.
I’m absolutely kicking myself that I didn’t discover this soup years ago… all those years that have passed when we could have been indulging and restoring ourselves through the colder months of the year. Therefore, starting immediately is our belated, but now completely embraced tradition of chicken soup to warm the body and soul.
100g Orzo/Risoni Pasta (or any other small pasta shape)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Leeks (washed and sliced finely)
2 Cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
1 Litre Good Quality Chicken Stock
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
Sea Salt and Black Pepper
Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese to serve (optional)
A Handful of Chopped Flat-Leaf Parsley (optional)
The first two steps of this recipe can be done well ahead of time if you like and then placed in the fridge until you’re ready to start cooking the leeks/garlic.
Fill a medium-sized saucepan with water and add the peppercorns, star anise, bay leaf (or any other herbs, spices or aromatics that you desire). Bring to the boil and then turn off the heat completely. Place your chicken breast(s) into the pot with the poaching liquid and leave for about 2 hours. Remove to a bowl to cool, before shredding.
While the chicken is poaching, place a small saucepan filled with water on the stove and once again, bring to a rolling boil. Add some sea salt and then the orzo pasta, giving a quick stir to make sure none is stuck together and then cook until al dente (tender, but with a slight bite). When ready, drain the orzo and rinse gently with cold water. Set aside for later.
About half an hour before you want to serve dinner, place a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, along with the chopped leeks, garlic and a little sea salt. Allow to sweat for about 10 minutes or so, until the leek has softened. Then add the chicken stock, lemon zest and juice (depending on the size and type of lemon, you may wish to add half of the juice at first and then taste to see if more is required) and simmer for another 10 minutes.
At this point it’s up to you to decide whether to puree the soup or not. With one of my children averse to the sight of cooked vegetables in any soups or stews, I decided that a couple of minutes of whizzing the soup with a stick blender was the only way that he might enjoy it. It worked!
Now add the shredded chicken and orzo into the soup and stir gently to combine. When the chicken and orzo are warmed through, the soup is ready to serve.
This soup is lovely as it is, or perfect with some finely-grated parmesan cheese and some chopped flat-leaf parsley scattered on top… with some crusty bread on the side too!
Recipe slightly adapted from Neil Perry’s ‘The Food I Love’ cookbook
Once a week, I meet up with some friends (other parents from my children’s school) for a morning coffee at a little local pub/cafe. It can often be quite an eclectic group, comprising of Japanese, Swedish, American, Ni-Vanuatu and of course a few Australians added to the mix. Spending time amongst this small but diverse array of nationalities, I most love the fact that there’s often such interesting and varied perspectives as we sit and chat about all manner of things. It reaffirms for me that we can learn so much from each other and that in doing so, the world somehow doesn’t feel quite so vast anymore.
With that said… my Japanese friend, who comes along to sip coffee each week, is the reason for this post. She is as passionate about cooking and food as I am and over the years that I’ve known her, she has imparted not only much knowledge about life in Japan, but also (to my delight and great interest) knowledge about Japanese food. A week ago, she ever so kindly brought me a gift of some small purple-skinned Japanese sweet potatoes to try. I baked them in the oven as instructed and was amazed at how different in flavour they were from any sweet potato I’d tasted before. Much sweeter than what I was used to, but with my penchant for sweet things, they were savoured and devoured without a hint of hesitation. I’ll be looking out for them in future…
The following recipe, inspired by this lovely lady, has been readily welcomed into our home. It’s simple to prepare, beautifully aromatic in the kitchen and so full of flavour.
Watashi no yūjin arigatō! xx
Chicken Teriyaki with Udon Noodles | Gather and Graze
Your choice of: Broccoli, Asian Greens, Snow Peas or Green Beans
In a small saucepan, combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake, raw sugar, garlic and ginger. Place the pan over medium to high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to ensure the sugar has dissolved. Once bubbling, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until slightly syrupy. Be sure to taste as you go, to ensure a sauce well balanced in flavour. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain the sauce to remove the chunks of garlic and ginger.
In a glass or ceramic bowl, marinate the chicken thigh fillets with the cooled Teriyaki sauce, cover and refrigerate for several hours (if time permits).
I prefer to bring all meat to room temperature before I cook it, so approximately one hour before I plan to start cooking I’ll remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Please feel free to make your own decision regarding this step.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil for the noodles. Depending on the noodles, these will usually take about 10 minutes to cook. Use your own judgement (after reading the next two steps) as to when you should put the noodles in to cook.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and gently fry the chicken pieces (being sure to reserve the marinade). Feel free to brush a little more of the marinade onto the chicken pieces as they cook. Once done, remove the chicken from the pan to rest somewhere warm for a few minutes while you finish off the sauce.
Pour the remaining sauce that the chicken was marinating in, into the frypan and bring to a boil, allowing it to simmer and reduce for about 5 minutes. I like to add the broccoli (or other green veggies) in with the sauce while it simmers – though please feel free to steam or boil them separately to your liking and serve on the side or toss through with the noodles and chicken at the last minute.
To serve, slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces and combine with the noodles, extra sauce and vegetables in a large serving bowl.
I initially tried using normal soy sauce in this recipe and it was way too salty. Very strongly recommend that you purchase a salt-reduced soy sauce.
The Sake I use is neither the cheapest or the most expensive on the shelf. Perhaps have a chat with your local Japanese or Korean grocer as to their recommendations…
Great also served with rice, instead of the noodles.
Works beautifully with beef, salmon/other fish or even mixed vegetables.