On Writing, Tech, and Other Loquacities

The collected works of Lana Brindley: writer, speaker, blogger


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Chicken and Chorizo Risotto

PhotobucketI’ve been making risotto a fair bit recently, and my partner has been taking the leftovers in to work. This has corresponded in an increased request rate for the recipe (or slightly less tasty-smelling lunches, I imagine!). To satisfy the requirement, I went looking for this recipe on the old slowfoodadventures blog but couldn’t find the original writeup. Luckily, the photos exist, so I shall attempt to make some sense of them for you, and for the hungry co-workers 😉

 

 

 

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Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta

PhotobucketHey, I’m back! The new kitchen is unpacked and fully functional (finally!), and so I would like to present a brand new recipe for you. Not all pasta sauces need to be very liquid. This one is a roasted sauce, with the focus on the cherry tomatoes. I used a few different varieties here, but just pick whatever you like the look of. If you can find (or have growing) some different coloured tomatoes, that’s fantastic. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you using diced ordinary tomatoes, but you will lose some of the wonderful texture that comes through with the blackened skin. If you do use big tomatoes, consider throwing in a punnet of cherry tomatoes as well to try and mitigate that. The chorizo adds a lovely flavour, and the sour cream lightens the whole dish.

As I was cooking this dish, I was thinking about variations, and here’s just a couple that I dreamed up:

Vegetarian: leave out the chorizo and add some zucchini, and yellow and orange capsicum with the tomatoes. You could also steam some broccoli florets and add them in at the very end. Leave out the sour cream and the cheese on top, and it would work as a vegan dish too.

Chicken: use half the chorizo, and add some diced chicken thighs. Cook the chorizo with the garlic and paprika, take it out, and then cook the chicken in the pan before deglazing. Then add the chicken in at the very end (don’t roast it).

Salad: Let the pasta and the sauce cool once they’re cooked, and stir everything together cold. Sour cream can stay or go, but stir some parmesan through, and throw in a handful of pine nuts. Slap it all into a plastic container and pack the picnic basket!

Very much a spring dish! Some crusty Italian bread on the side, a sprinkling of parmesan, and a glass of red. Imagine sitting out on the verandah, watching the sun go down, with some pasta in a bowl on your lap, and a glass of wine in hand. It doesn’t get much better than that!

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Beef and Red Wine Pot Pies

PhotobucketNothing can beat a pot pie on a cold winter’s night, and these are fabulously warming. Easy to make too, as long as you have a little time up your sleeve. I’m a big fan of putting these on in the late afternoon, and letting them simmer while you run around like a mad thing, until – voila! – you pull them out of the oven ready to eat.

Beef and red wine are popular partners, and it’s easy to see why – they complement each other perfectly. Add some garlic and fresh herbs into the mix and it’s really quite difficult to go wrong with it. You can do a whole range of things with these. I’ve only just developed this recipe, but I’m tempted to add carrots to it, baby carrots would be just divine. You could also top them with mashed potatoes (a la Shepherd’s or Cottage Pie) and some grated cheese, and brown them off in the oven. They would also work really well as a fully-encased large pie, too.

I’ve made this one twice now, and both times I’ve kept it fairly chunky, although you need to be guided by your ramekins. I’ve possibly made them too chunky for my little tiny ramekins, but I haven’t had too many complaints yet 😉

Try them, see how you go with it, don’t be afraid to experiment. And remember to let me know how it turns out!

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Chicken Chasseur

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Happy Bastille Day! In honour of this auspicious occasion, I was planning a boeuf bourgignon, but I’ve cooked so many heavy meals this week that I was begged to do something different. So, keeping in theme, I present for you … Chicken Chasseur. ‘Chasseur’ is a French sauce, the chief ingredient of which is mushrooms. The basic sauce is based on a roux of butter, flour, and white wine. It has quite a delicate flavour, yet very filling, and the lighter tastes of thyme and garlic come through really nicely.

Serve it over rice with a glass of white wine. Just delicious!

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Osso Bucco

PhotobucketOsso Bucco is an Italian dish that is currently quite popular, although the modern versions vary quite a bit from the traditional. Even within the current vogue, though, there is a huge amount of variation from recipe to recipe. I rarely make it the same way twice. This is probably as close to a ‘traditional’ version as I get though.

The term Osso Bucco can be literally translated from the Italian to mean (I am told, and I’m happy to be corrected by any Italian speakers out there!) ‘hole bone’. It is either veal or beef, and it is cut from the leg, which leaves a single large bone in the centre of the cut, filled with marrow. Veal osso bucco can be hard to find, although some butchers will stock it on request. I have – just once – been lucky enough to find it on the shelf in Coles, which surprised me enormously, and of course I snapped it up. This time, I got some yearling, so it’s a little more tender than the beef ones you buy normally, but without the delicate flavour you get from veal. Accordingly, I cooked it with beef stock, and went heavy-handed on the chilli and other flavours. A veal cut would require quite a lot more of a light touch!

In terms of variations, you can literally do just about anything. I’ve done versions with bacon, pancetta, a thick beefy gravy without tomato, and with all sorts of variations in the vegetables. I haven’t specified vegetables in this recipe, just throw in whatever you have. Traditionally, it would be carrot and celery. I’m not a fan of celery in this type of thing though, so I’ve left it out. Leek and capsicum is always a lovely combination in this type of cooking, though, at least to my mind.  Try it according to the recipe the first time if you’re unsure, and then just go nuts and throw in whatever you like the look of.

Don’t forget to drop your comments in at the bottom of the post, either, and let me know how you go with it. What did you hate? What did you love? What did you change? What will you be trying again next weekend?

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Lamb Roast Dinner

PhotobucketLamb Roast – is there anything much more Australian than this on a Sunday night? Served with roast potatoes (‘crunchy taters’, if you live in our house), kent pumpkin, sweet potato, baby carrots, and lashings of gravy. Awesome.

It took me many years to get the timings right on my roasts. I was constantly serving burnt potatoes with bloody meat, or dried out meat with underdone spuds. But, my hard work is your gain, and I’ve tried to be as detailed as I can on timings in this recipe. Of course, it all depends on a few factors, but the main one is the size of the cut of meat you have. This one is 2.5kg lamb leg. There are many sources out there that say an hour per kilo, and they’re right if you want a completely cooked through lamb leg. In my opinion, however, lamb should never be cooked right through, but left with a little pinkness. And therein lies the rub: a roast is such a huge chunk of meat that when it’s still red in the middle against the bone, it’s cooked through at the very edges. The trick is to get it red at the bone, but not too red. Daunted yet? Don’t be. If you’re worried, grab a 2.5kg lamb leg from your butcher and follow my timings precisely. Once you have that down pat, start experimenting with smaller or bigger.

Interestingly enough, there’s a story in our household about my partner attempting to cook a lamb roast in an electric oven, starting with him trying to ‘light’ it (thinking it was gas). So, if you’re really stuck – try just turning the knob first, before you get the matches out 😉

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Banana Bread

PhotobucketMy partner adores banana bread, but it’s horribly expensive to buy (out here, anyway – perhaps it’s different elsewhere), so for the past few months I’ve been working on a recipe for it. This was originally based on a Delicious magazine recipe. But, like always, it didn’t stay that way for long. In fact, I’m not entirely certain it even started that way, now I think about it.

As a diabetic I tend to shy away from these things, they’re generally very high in sugar, and the low sugar ones are dry, flavourless, and tough. This one, however, uses only half a cup of sugar (which is still not great, but it’s not as bad as some!). What makes it truly awesome though is the yoghurt and the buttermilk for lightness, and the pureed apple for a lovely sweet tang.

Buttermilk is almost like a magic ingredient in baking. It reacts chemically with the baking powder (either added, or the baking powder in self-raising flour) and creates a fabulous light and fluffy texture. I use buttermilk almost exclusively in my baking now – don’t even dream of making a chocolate cake without buttermilk! And it freezes well too: once you have the carton, use what you need in the recipe, and then just throw the carton in to the freezer for next time. You can also use it for crumbing meat, so it’s not just for sweet dishes.

The final product of this recipe, however, is a very light, crumbly bread. The dominant flavours are the banana and the cinnamon. It’s not overly sweet, relying on the fruit (particularly the apple) to add the sweetness rather than the added sugar. Just lovely warm from the oven, or the next day toasted with butter. You can also wrap the slices individually in glad wrap and pop them in the freezer for later.

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Chicken and Bacon Pasta

PhotobucketThis one is a wonderful weeknight meal. Easy and fast to prepare, filling, it makes heaps, and everyone eats it (in our house, anyway!). This is a creamy version. Although I normally make it sans cream, if I have some cream in the fridge left over from other things (sour cream works well, but pure cream is best. You can also use thickened or dollop cream with success) I’ll throw it in to use it up. Other variations, like most pastas, are legion. Use prosciutto in place of the bacon; add capsicum, snow peas, shallots, and baby corn for a vegie hit; mix chopped camembert through it at the last minute for something a little different.

I prefer to serve this on top of the fresh filled pastas – I’ve used a beef ravioli this time – but it’s just as good on ordinary dried pasta. Pick a large pasta shape – big shells or fat spirals – to hold in the sauce, which is very chunky. If you want it to look fantastic as well (if you’re making it for a dinner party, or you’re seriously trying to impress that new partner) then choose a tri-colour or other colourful pasta to really liven it up. Garnish with a little parmesan and a sprig of basil (if yours hasn’t died in the frost, yet, like mine!) and it will impress any gourmand!

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Mediterranean Braised Chicken

PhotobucketI have my friend Julie to thank for this recipe – at least in its initial form. It, like all my favourites, has morphed over time. The flavour in this recipe comes primarily from the rosemary, garlic, and the white wine, so be careful not to scrimp on them. I believe that this recipe could also benefit from the addition of a handful of black olives, but I’m not a big fan of them, so I leave them out. Another great winter recipe, this is one is a lot quicker and easier than some. I’ve used my Römertopf (clay baking dish) to cook it this time, but it works just as well in a ceramic baking dish. Just cover it with foil and use a slightly higher temperature.

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Chicken Leek and Bacon Pies

DSCN1997This is a recipe that I’ve been slowly changing over the years. It started out as a basic chicken and leek pie from a long-lost recipe book, and gradually changed – with bacon, cheese, and white wine being added. It transformed from a large pie to individual pot pies somewhere along its journey through the years, too. There’s just so much you can do with this recipe, so feel free to experiment. It’s a light creamy sauce, ideally suited to poultry. Try duck or turkey, or even fish. You could also use up a pre-bought barbecue chook in this recipe. Leave the bacon in, take it out, replace it with diced ham or prosciutto for a slightly different flavour. You can add all sorts of vegetables to it besides the leek – carrots and peas would both work well. You could easily make a vegetarian version by replacing the meat with potato, and adding whatever else takes your fancy. Click through for my current version.

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