Sunday, 10 December 2017

Probably Not-That-Authentic Seafood Paella

Sooo.... kids really take a toll on my ability to blog. I can't believe it's been nearly 18 months since my last post. I have given birth to another human being since then. And in the intervening time, 95% of my cooking has been repeating things I already knew. There's just not much time to do anything else!

However, on some weekends we've had a chance to get a little fancier, and this weekend I had a real craving for paella, spurred on by a cool Spanish rice variety I bought a few weeks ago. So I cribbed from this receipe but changed it to be much less seafood-heavy. It's now actually doable in under an hour, without all that seafood prep! Still tastes excellent, too. This serves four people with salad or vegetables on the side.


  • 1/2 cup (125ml) dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • olive oil
  • 2 brown onions, finely chopped
  • 2 red capsicums (raw and chopped or roasted, peeled and torn)
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 - 1 chorizo sausage
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, halved, seeded, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons mild Spanish paprika
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) medium grain rice (such as calrose)
  • 2 cups (500ml) chicken stock
  • 500 - 750g marinara mix
  • 1/2 - 1 cup (150g) frozen peas
  • chopped parsley
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

I need to dig out my decent camera! My phone
doesn't really do it justice. Anyway, note the crispy
crunchy tasty base. It was amazing.
Heat the wine and saffron over a low heat until just coming to a simmer, then stir and turn off the heat, reserving for later. In a paella pan or a large, deep frying pan, fry the brown onions and raw capsicum (if using), for five minutes, until the onion is soft and beginning to go gold. Add the garlic and chorizo and fry for a further thirty seconds. Add the onion, paprika, and rice, and stir together. Add the reserved saffron wine, and chicken stock, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes over a medium heat.

Stir in the marinara mix and frozen peas, cover, and cook for a further five minutes, turning the mix a little to get it all cooked through. Resist the urge to unstick the rice at the bottom of the pan, so that you get those authentic paella crunchy bits. Scatter over chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges.


I'm hoping in 2018 I can post here a little more. I have a funny plan for the first couple of months which I'm looking forward to sharing, along with more "fancy
 recipes from the weekend. We'll see... best-laid plans of mice and men...!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Chicken Enchiladas

Wow, it's completely apropos that my last post... SIX MONTHS AGO... was complaining about juggling work and daycare. I literally have no time at all between waking at 6 (if I'm lucky!), breakfast, nappy bag, changing baby, feeding baby, cycling baby to daycare, cycling on to work, shower, work eight solid hours, cycle home via daycare, empty dishwasher, cook dinner, refill dishwasher, put baby to bed, then crash back to bed at 9pm. I've taken to making my dinners in advance at the weekend, so that the "cook dinner" part of that deluge is just a 5-10 minute reheat and serve. That means a lot of repeated, tried-and-tested recipes, and a lot of pretty boring staple food, like beef stew or lasagne.

I was at a friend's birthday party / pot luck, and another friend wanted to know more about the food I was preparing: huevos rancheros. I explained what I was up to, and she asked me if it was on my blog. I said yes... but I haven't been updating it recently. We had leftover refried beans and I said I'd probably make some enchiladas to go with; so here is the recipe, for my friend who wanted to know what exactly I DO with leftover refried beans :)


  • a medium roast chicken (ready-roast from the supermarket is fine)
  • two red peppers (capsica)
  • a large brown onion
  • four cloves of garlic
  • 1 flat tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tsp chilli flakes (to taste)
  • a cup or so of tomato salsa
  • 8 tortillas
  • cheddar, colby, or monteray jack cheese
  • 3 spring onions
  • sour cream

Strip the meat off the chicken, roughly chop, and reserve. If the chicken came with stuffing, feel free to eat it, or chop it in, too. Dice the red peppers; halve, and finely slice the onion. Fry them together in a little oil for 10-15 minutes over a low heat until extremely sweet and tender. 

(Or, you could roast a chicken whole, surrounded by halved onions and red peppers, then dice everything up afterwards. Your call!)

Crush the garlic into the red pepper and onions, and fry for another minute, then add the cumin, cocoa, and chilli, if using; fry for another minute, until fragrant. Stir in the diced chicken, and half of the salsa.

Spoon the mixture into the tortillas, rolling them up and pushing them together in a deep roasting tray. Scatter grated cheese and finely diced spring onions over the top. You can cover and refrigerate it at this stage, and it'll keep in the fridge for a few days.

Bake at 180C for about 15 minutes (or 20 from the fridge), until the cheese has melted and the edges of the tortillas are just beginning to crisp.

Serve hot, with the rest of the salsa, sour cream or guacamole, and refried beans, if you like :)

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Quick(er) Zucchini and Potato Fritters

Juggling work and the daycare drop-off is tiring, and when I get home I'm less than inspired to cook. I have tried saving myself some hassle by ordering a vegetable box online, but was really disappointed with the first one I tried. Even though it's the middle of summer, I was given loads of potatoes, onions, and carrots, and only small amounts of interesting veg. (What do you do with eight mushrooms? EIGHT!)

Amongst my kilogram of potatoes was a single zucchini. What to do, what to do... fritters! But I couldn't face cooking the potatoes, mashing them, etc etc. And I vaguely recalled totally failing to make a swiss dish involving frying raw potatoes. So I figured someone else must have gone through this before. And someone had! So here's something loosely based on their ideas -- the main thing to mimic was thoroughly squeezing the liquid out of the potato (not so much the zucchini, surprisingly) before you start.

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 zucchini
  • 4 spring onions
  • 50-75g feta cheese
  • 1-2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • a handful of finely-chopped herbs, especially mint and parsley
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Grate the potatoes using a tower grater. Put in a colander or sieve and squeeze the liquid out: I find using my hands is the best way to do it. Shred the zucchini in the same way. Finely dice the spring onions and crumble the feta cheese. Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Fry dollops of the mixture in olive oil, pushing down with a spatula to make them no more than 1cm thick, so the potato cooks well; fry 3-4 minutes each side, until golden and cooked through.

Carrot and Apple Salad

Somehow we ended up with a couple of kilograms of carrots and apples hanging around the fridge, and I remembered this classic salad combination. It's fast, fresh, crunchy, and it even keeps for a week in the fridge. I also like it in a sandwich, particularly with blue cheese, although I imagine cheddar would work well, too.


  • 2-3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 4 carrots
  • 1-2 sharp apples
  • a handful of raisins
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Dry-fry the sesame seeds until they are golden and fragrant. Shred the carrots using a tower grater. You can shred the apple too, but I prefer it finely diced or julienned, and find the salad is less soggy that way. Combine the lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, salt and olive oil, and crush in the garlic clove, then whisk together until emulsified. Toss the carrots, apples, raisins, sesame seeds and dressing together; serve cold or at room temperature.

Sunday, 31 January 2016


It's the day before I start my little boy in daycare and go back to the office full-time. How to prepare? Cook the entire week's dinners, of course! Since I find the flavours develop in the fridge and it's easy to mix and match what I want, I made three different kinds of curry, and sealed them up in tupperware. None of them were particularly amazing -- Rick Stein's aloo gobi is rubbish compared to mine --- but I did take a little time out to make parathas for the first time. Skipping chapatis: go straight to the flaky version!

I was a bit nervous because the only time I made decent naan, I did it by accident. So I expected these to come out terribly. Fortunately, they are really really easy, and they came out totally deliciously! They also were easy to make ahead and then fry quickly just before serving. I bet they would freeze perfectly as well. I think next time I make them I will enlist a helper, and then the process would be really fast. Otherwise you're constantly switching back and forth between rolling (floury) and brushing (buttery) and everything gets a little sticky. The following quantity serves four people with curries.


  • 250g chapati flour (finely milled wholewheat flour), or half wholemeal, half plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp melted butter, plus ~5 tbsp for brushing
  • 120-150ml warm water

In a bowl, mix the flour with the salt, then add the melted butter and 120ml of the water. Mix together, adding a little more water if needed, until you have a soft but not sticky dough. Knead in the bowl for a minute then cover and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Set out a ramekin of the ~5tbsp melted butter with a pastry brush, a ramekin of plain flour and a rolling pin, plenty of kitchen paper (great for mopping up butter spills), and a plate with a wet tea towel to cover your parathas as you make them. Lightly flour a surface and the rolling pin, and give yourself plenty of room. (mis-en-place is super important here!)

Divide the dough in half, then each half in half again, and again, to make eight pieces. Roll out a piece of dough to a circle about 13cm in diameter. Brush the top thinly with butter, dust over a little flour, then fold in half over the butter to form a half-moon. Repeat the brushing, sprinkling, and folding again, to form a triangle. Roll the triangle out so that each side is about 13cm long. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Heat a heavy-based frying pan and fry each piece of dough 1-2 minutes each side; they should become golden, slightly singed, and puff up a little as they cook. If you like you can brush the sides with yet more butter as you do this! (I didn't, and they were still yum.) Remove them to a warmed plate, cover with a (dry) tea towel,
and serve as soon as you can.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Spiralized Pasta with Butternut Squash

A spiralizer take on our family favourite! Learning from my previous spiralizer experiences, I cooked the sauce until it was completely dry, in a frying pan that seemed way too big for it. I spiralized three courgettes on the tagliatelle setting, and added them once the sauce was dry. After a few minutes, they suddenly collapsed and let out all of their water, which rehydrated the sauce enough to coat the "pasta". I served it immediately, topped with grated parmesan, and the whole meal was fantastic!

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Spiralizer Week: Day Four: Ginger Egg Drop Soup

This was the evening of another exercise class and I knew that the very simple soup we had in mind was just not going to cut it. So I beefed it up with some extra ingredients, while keeping the rest mostly the same. I was really unsure about adding vinegar to a soup, but it worked *really* well. In fact I can't quite believe how smooth and tasty this dish was. Of course it helped that I had made a really great chicken stock with the chicken carcass I had left from jointing a chicken earlier in the week. I think that is crucial for any non-puréed soup. The photo really doesn't do this soup justice!


  • a thumb of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 tbsp dried wakame
  • 4-5 spring onions, shredded
  • 1/3 tsp chilli flakes
  • 4 tsp sherry or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 3 cups really good chicken stock
  • 2 large eggs, gently beaten
  • two chicken thighs or a chicken breast, cooked, shredded
  • two grilled corn-on-the-cobs, kernels cut
  • 1 zucchini, spiralized into thin noodles
Fry the ginger gently until golden and beginning to crisp, then add the wakame, spring onions, chilli flakes, vinegar, soy sauce and chicken stock. Let it come to a simmer and cook for a few minutes, then add in the eggs, stirring as they cook. Add in the shredded chicken, corn kernels, and zucchini, and bring back up to temperature. Serve!