Mexican Sun-dried Tomato and Garlic Chicken

Imagine juicy chicken pieces lightly coated in a sticky sauce infused with honey, garlic and sun-dried tomato, finished with a squeeze of fresh lime juice…need I say more? Make this and treat yourself to some fresh Mexican flavours tonight- especially when served with some soft tortillas, fresh salsa and spicy rice!  Pair it with a refreshing margarita if you are feeling fancy… Delicioso!SONY DSC

Ingredients

For the chicken marinade:

  • 8 chicken drumsticks, de-boned
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil

For the sauce:

  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomato
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • runny honey, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • juice from a fresh lime

Method

  1.  Marinate the chicken. In a bowl, combine together the marinade ingredients with the chicken. Leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, pan-fry the chicken pieces in some oil until golden on all sides (the chicken is not fully cooked at this stage). Remove the chicken onto a plate.
  3. Over medium heat, add the 1 teaspoon of minced garlic into the pan and fry until aromatic. Deglaze the pan with white wine and add in the sun-dried tomato. Taste and season the sauce with some honey and salt.
  4. Return the chicken to the pan. Cover and cook over low heat until chicken is cooked through and the sauce has reduced. Re-check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Squeeze over fresh lime juice and serve immediately!

Salt-Crust Baked Whole Fish with Lemon and Thyme

Here’s an idea for your next fishing trip where you have (hopefully) caught a big, handsome fish- bake it in a salt-crust with fresh lemon and thyme!

The beauty of making a salt crust is that it will not only season the fish, but will seal in the moisture, keeping the flesh succulent and tender.  The belly is stuffed with fresh lemon, thyme and bay leaves to impart a wonderful aroma and to eliminate any fishiness. To add even more fragrance, the salt crust is mixed with fresh lemon zest, dried oregano and thyme!

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Simply served drizzled with some olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon and some black pepper, this makes one wonderful meal to be shared with family and friends! Just one word of warning: beware of the amazing flavour explosion when you break open the crust!

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Ingredients

For the fish:

  • 1 fresh whole fish, gutted
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 dried bay leaf

For the salt-crust:

  • Salt, enough to cover the fish entirely
  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • 2-3 tsp dried oregano
  • 2-3 tsp dried thyme

For the dressing:

  • Juice of one lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Prepare the fish: Stuff the belly of the fish with the lemon slices, bay leaf and fresh thyme. Wrap the tail and head with some foil.
  3. Prepare the salt crust: Mix the lemon zest, dried thyme and oregano with the salt. Add enough water to the salt so that is begins to clump together.
  4. Cover a baking tray large enough to fit the fish with foil. Lay a layer of the salt mixture in the bottom of the tray. Place the fish on top and cover the fish with the rest of the salt mixture, patting down with your hands so that the body of the fish is covered entirely with the salt. Wrap the head and tail of the fish with foil to keep it from burning.
  5. Bake until the fish is cooked (times will vary depending on the size of the fish). Once done leave it to cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Prepare the dressing: Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve, break open and discard the salt crust. Remove the skin of the fish as it may be too salty. Drizzle over the dressing and serve immediately!

Spanish Surf & Turf

This is not your usual surf and turf- who says that is must be steak and prawns? Let me take you to Spain with my special twist: mussels and meatballs in saffron sauce!

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Plump, juicy mussels and moist, flavoursome pork meatballs are en-robed in a golden saffron sauce. The sauce is rich with the flavour of the sea and the meatiness of the pork juices, along with the aroma of fresh thyme and bay leaves. A sprinkling of a diced ripe tomato and some zesty lemon juice adds the final bright notes to the dish!

The key these tender and juicy meatballs is the addition of moistened bread and not to over-mix the mince mixture. Along with some fresh chives, thyme, garlic, dried oregano, wholegrain mustard, and grated Parmesan, they are little spheres of deliciousness that burst in your mouth!

I recommend that you serve this with plenty of crusty bread, rice or even pasta to savour that amazing sauce – you wouldn’t want to leave a drop behind!

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Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • 25g fresh white bread, crusts removed and bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1-2 tbsp milk, as needed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • approx. 15g Parmesan, grated
  • approx. 1/4 cup minced fresh chives
  • 5g salt
  • 1-2 tsp wholegrain mustard, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1  egg yolk
  • some fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • some ground black pepper, to taste
  • some runny honey, to taste
  • 200g pork mince

For the broth:

  • 10 fresh mussels
  • 1 snapper head
  • some dry white wine
  • a few springs of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a small pinch of saffron
  • some sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • some runny honey, to taste
  • some fresh lemon juice or apple vinegar, to taste
  • 1 tbsp flour roux
  • 1 tomato, seeded and cut into small cubes
  • some fresh parsley, to garnish

Method

  1. Steam mussels until just opened. Remove the meat from the shell and reserve the mussel juices. Discard the shells.
  2. Heat some oil in a frying pan and pan-fry the snapper head until golden on both sides. De-glaze the pan with white wine and add in the bay leaves, some fresh thyme, saffron and a little water. Simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Reserve the stock and discard the snapper head and aromatics.
  3. In a bowl combine bread with 1 tablespoon of the milk and let stand until bread is completely moist, about 10 minutes. Mash with a spoon to make sure there are no dry spots; if there are dry spots add the rest of the milk.
  4. In a mixing bowl or food processor, combine together all of the meatball ingredients until thoroughly combined. Avoid mixing any more than necessary.
  5. Using wet hands. shape meatball mixture into 8-10 balls.
  6. Over medium-high heat, pan-fry meatballs until golden on all sides. De-glaze the pan with white wine. Add in fresh thyme and simmer until reduced and meatballs are cooked.
  7. Transfer the meatballs onto a plate. Add to the frying pan the reserved fish stock and mussel juices. Taste and adjust seasoning with some salt, black pepper, lemon juice/ apple vinegar and honey as necessary.
  8. Whisk in the flour roux cook gently until sauce is thickened. Return the meatballs and mussels to the pan to re-heat. Stir in the chopped tomato.
  9. Garnish with some fresh parsley and serve immediately.

What To Do with Fresh Lemons Part II: Mediterranean Snapper

After making my Ultimate Lemon Chicken last night, I still had three huge lemons left. So here’s part two of what to do when life gives you lemons- Mediterranean Snapper! SONY DSC

Just take three fresh lemons, one whole snapper, some green olives, marinated sun-dried tomatoes, a bunch of flat Italian parsley and a bottle of crisp Sauvignon Blanc– there you have my delicious Mediterranean Snapper! Feel transported to Greece eating this dish…see for yourself!

Ingredients

  • 1 large whole snapper, cleaned, head removed and scored with a sharp knife three times on each side
  • flour for dredging
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup green olives, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips
  • 3 large lemons (2 zested and segmented)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, plus extra to garnish
  • sea salt and raw sugar, to taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Dredge snapper in flour on both sides and shake off excess. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan large enough to hold the snapper over medium-high heat until just smoking. Lay snapper carefully in the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides.
  2. Transfer the snapper into a ceramic casserole dish. To the frying pan, add olives, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest and segments, juice from the remaining lemon, and wine. Bring to a boil and season with salt and sugar to taste. Mix in fresh parsley.
  3. Pour the sauce over snapper and bake in the oven until just cooked through, approximately 10-15 minutes depending on thickness. Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes.
  4. Garnish with extra parsley and serve immediately.

The Ultimate Lemon Chicken

What to do when life gives you lemons- especially huge juicy, zesty ones? My ultimate lemony, garlicky and herb-y chicken recipe, of course!

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Fresh citrus notes permeates the whole dish as fresh lemon zest is used both in the luscious sauce and marinade. Moist chicken thigh cutlets are marinaded in a mixture of French wholegrain mustard, oregano and thyme, then pan-fried until the skin is crispy in garlic-infused oil. A dash of runny honey right at the end balances the sourness of lemon juice perfectly!

Be sure to serve it with plenty of rice or mashed potatoes for that wonderful lemony sauce! Bon appétit!

Ingredients
  • 10 chicken drumsticks, de-boned
  • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest (1 teaspoon for rub and 2 teaspoons for sauce)
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (1 tbsp for rub, 1 tbsp for cooking)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • runny honey, to taste
  • sea salt, to taste
Method
  1. Make rub for chicken. Combine mustard, 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest, oregano, thyme, salt and 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a small bowl. Use fingers to coat chicken on both sides with the mustard rub.
  2. In another bowl combine remaining lemon zest (2 teaspoons), lemon juice and the chicken stock. Set aside.
  3. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic then cook about 1 minute or until you can smell toasted garlic and the garlic has browned around the edges. Remove and discard the garlic, but leave the oil.
  4. Add chicken, skin-side down into the hot garlic-infused oil and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until the skin has turned golden brown. Flip over and cook until chicken is cooked through. Transfer chicken cutlets on to a plate and cover with aluminium foil.
  5. To the frying pan, add the lemon juice mixture. Bring to a gentle simmer for a few minutes.
  6. In a small bowl, use your fingers to mix butter and flour together, making a dry, crumbly paste. Whisk the flour and butter into the sauce. The sauce will thicken slightly and look glossy.
  7. Add some honey and salt (if required) to balance the flavour of the sauce.
  8. Pour lemon sauce over the chicken cutlets and serve immediately.

Get the Grill on for Yum-Yum Mussels!

It’s summer here in sunny Auckland and, for me, nothing beats getting the grill on for a feast of fresh seafood and smoky vegetables!

Grilled mussels are always popular but accompanied with this amazing Yum-Yum sauce makes it spectacular! It only takes minutes to make and is creamy, tangy and sweet with a hint of chili kick- you’ll want to put it on everything!

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Ingredients

  • 10 cooked mussels in half shell
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1-2 tsp malt vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • A dash of chilli powder
  1. Combine mayonnaise, tomato sauce, sugar, vingear/lemon juice, paprika, garlic powder and chili powder to make the Yum Yum sauce. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  2. Top each mussel with the sauce and place under the grill until the sauce is bubbling hot. Serve immediately.

The Non-French Onion Soup

It’s a new year and it’s out with the old and in with the new! This decidedly Non-French Onion Soup re-invents the old tried-and-true recipe in a Japanese kitchen!

What is so special about this Onion Soup?

First of all, it is flavoured with a light but flavourful Japanese dashi stock that allows the sweet flavour of caramelized onions to really shine. A few dried porcini mushrooms are also added to give a deep, earthy savoriness to the broth. Finally, a few dashes of tart balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice mix) completes the soup with a kick of spice, citrus and tartness!

Served with some crunchy rice crackers, this soup is wonderfully satisfying yet will not weigh you down- perfect for the warm summer months!

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Ingredients

  • 3 brown onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 600ml dashi stock
  • 6 slices of dried porcini mushrooms
  • a few drops of balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • 1 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in a little water (optional)
  • some shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice mix), to serve
  • some rice crackers, to serve

Method

  1. In a saucepan with a little vegetable oil, slowly cook down the onion with the garlic and salt until very soft and caramelized. After approximately 15 minutes of cooking, add in the bay leaf and fresh thyme. Be sure to stir the mixture from time to time.
  2. In the meanwhile, soak the dried porcini mushrooms in the dashi stock
  3. When the onions have caramelized (after approximately 30 minutes of cooking), pour in the dashi stock and porcini mushrooms. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the bay leaf and thyme. Add in balsamic vinegar to taste.
  5. Whisk in the cornstarch solution to lightly thicken the soup (optional)
  6. Serve hot with shichimi togarashi and some rice crackers on the side.

Here’s to a New Year like this Strawberry Salad!

Wishing you a HAPPY NEW YEAR, my friends!

I am welcoming in the new year with this scrumptious Strawberry Salad that embodies all I am wishing for: a Healthy, Fresh start filled with Sweet moments, Vibrant experiences and new Gastronomic DelightsSONY DSC

Without a doubt this has become my favourite salads of all time! Ripe sweet strawberries and cherry tomatoes, cool crunchy cucumber and fragrant basil with a tart balsamic reduction is simply heaven on a plate!

Ingredients

  • 6 ripe strawberries, halved
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • Approximately 6cm cucumber, thinly sliced and seeds removed
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Approximately 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Flaky sea salt and black pepper
  • Light olive oil
  1. To make the balsamic reduction, bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan and turn down to a simmer until reduced to a syrupy consistency. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Arrange strawberries, tomatoes, cucumber and basil on a plate. Drizzle over the balsamic reduction ans olive oil. Season well with salt and black pepper. Enjoy!

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Perk-up Smoked Chicken with a Miso-Alfredo Sauce!

Sure, smoked chicken tastes perfectly fine on it’s own but it’s just a bit plain and not very exciting at all…

It’s time for my mighty Miso-Alfredo Sauce to the rescue!

The strong flavour of the smoked chicken can really stand up to the creamy sauce flavoured with salty-sweet white miso paste and nutty Parmesan cheese. The miso takes Alfredo sauce to the next level by adding a depth of flavour that is quite hard to describe but is absolutely delicious! Be sure to serve this with plenty of rice or pasta (or orzo if you want both)

Smoked chicken has never tasted so good! Mission accomplished!

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Ingredients

  • 1 smoked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp white miso paste mixed with 1 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk or cream
  • 1-2 tsp cornflour dissolved in a little water, if required
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 green onions, finely sliced
  •  sugar, to taste
  • salt and white pepper, to taste
  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan and whisk in miso paste. When combined, add the evaporated milk or cream. Season with sugar, salt and white pepper to taste. If you would like a thicker sauce, whisk in the cornflour and cook over low heat until thickened.
  2. Add in smoked chicken and cook over low heat until chicken is warmed though.
  3. Scatter over green onions and serve immediately.

Caramelized Roasted Grapes with Rosemary

If you haven’t tried roasting grapes yet- do so now! I guarantee that you would thank me afterwards (or not, since you simply couldn’t get enough of it…)

Roasting transforms fresh grapes into soft, sweet, sticky gems with warm caramel notes…simply delicious! The addition of fresh sprigs of rosemary softly perfumes the grapes, adding to the depth of flavour.

Since this was just an experiment I am regretting that I only made a small batch, hence I strongly recommend that you double the amounts I have given below because I next time I surely will!

How about making a batch of these yummy gems to accompany your cheese and crackers? Topping off sliced baguette with ricotta and and a drizzle of honey? As a side to your roast chicken? Or even in a fresh salad of wild rice, pears and almonds with balsamic dressing? The possibilities are endless!

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Ingredients:

  • A small bunch of seedless grapes
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (or thyme)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt

Method

  1.  Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Line a small baking try with baking paper.
  2. Toss the onion slices, grapes and rosemary in a little oil so that they will not burn during baking. Layer them in the baking tray, sprinkle over some salt and loosely cover with foil.
  3. Bake until the grapes and onion are soft and caramelized, approximately 1 hour. Stir the mixture a few times during baking. Remove the rosemary sprigs when serving.