What makes food taste better than good?

There are things you can do that makes food taste better. I mean, better than normal.

Slow cooking, for one thing. Having someone else cook for you. MSG and salt. Being hungry – have you ever noticed that everything tastes AMAZING when you’re starving?

I’m personally of the opinion that eating with your hands goes firmly on that list. Think about it! How good are burgers, or pizza? Picnics! Hotdogs! CAKE, BECAUSE CUTLERY BE DAMNED.

Of course, Mexican and it’s various subsidiaries fall into this category too. It’s fun on three levels:

  1. Most of the names are ridiculous to pronounce. Quesadilla what?
  2. Eating with your hands is pretty much mandatory
  3. You get to make it up as you go! Personally, I like cheese and hate guac.

The other thing that’s awesome about Mexican, is that it’s stupidly quick and, if you make it yourself, fresh. Done in 30 minutes or less, this dish wastes absolutely no time getting on your dinner table, leaving you with more time for the important stuff. Like stuffing your face.

Coriander chicken with pico de gallo

Adapted from Good Taste

3 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp sea salt flakes
2/3 cup chopped fresh coriander
4 garlic cloves
2 fresh jalapeño chillies, finely chopped
80ml lime juice
2 tbs olive oil
800g chicken breasts
4 tomatoes, seeded, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
Tortillas, warmed

Place cumin, ground coriander, oregano, salt, 1/2 cup chopped coriander, 3 garlic cloves and half the chili in a mortar or blender, and blitz until it forms a paste.

IMG_6018

Add half of the olive oil and lime juice. Season with pepper to taste. Pour the marinade into a bowl, then add the chicken, rubbing the marinade in well. Set aside for 10 minutes.

IMG_6019

Toss together the tomato, onion and what’s left of the garlic, coriander, chili, lime juice and oil in a bowl; set aside.

Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan on high, then add the chicken and cook for a few minutes each side until cooked through. Slice thinly, then serve with the tortillas and pico de gallo.

IMG_6021

IMG_6022

I might be wrong, so please correct me if I am, but I’m pretty sure you could even blitz up the marinade, coat the chicken and then throw it into ziploc bags to be frozen.

Did I just make this super easy dinner even easier? Uh, I think I did. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Advertisements

Semplice Italiana

When I first moved out of home, I didn’t really know how to cook.

I struck a deal with my housemate that he’d drive me to and from work, if I did the cooking. Sounded like a pretty sweet deal to me! Except for the whole cooking thing, due to the not knowing how. That was a pickle. So, I walked into a supermarket, I picked up a food magazine and chose an appropriately show-offish recipe. I labored over that meal for hours (I had zero knife skills), and at the end of it all, narrowly avoided giving my new housemates food poisoning with semi-raw chicken. Uh, whoops. Sorry team!

Let this be a lesson for all of you: Don’t run before you can walk. Basics are basics for a bloody good reason.

Less food poisoning, mostly.

Even now, I find myself realising that while there are many things I can do (yay me!), I know very little about the basics. They’re worth knowing.

So here we are, at Italian. Namely, carbonara. Turns out, it’s nothing like that gluggy, clumped together mess that you get served in all of those restaurants along the cappuccino strip in Fremantle. It’s silky, delicate, and actually cream free, if you do it right. Today’s recipe isn’t super traditional, there is cream in the mix, but there’s nothing wrong with breaking from tradition. If you want the whole experience, try this.

If you’re a champion multi-tasker, you can have this on the table in less than 20 minutes. Eat that, Jamie Oliver!

Spaghetti Carbonara

From Delicious Magazine

400g pasta of your choice
1 tbs olive oil
200g bacon or pancetta, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 eggs, plus 1 extra yolk
100ml thickened cream
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra to serve
2 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to instructions.

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a pan, and cook the bacon or pancetta for a couple of minutes, stirring. Toss in the garlic and stir for a further 30 seconds, then set aside.

Whisk together the eggs, extra yolk, parmesan and cream and season with salt and pepper. Drain the pasta, return to the pan and then quickly pour over the egg mixture.

IMG_6644

Toss together with the bacon and parsley, and serve.

IMG_6651

Advice for those playing at home: Keep the sauce off the heat when you’re mixing it with the pasta. If you cook the sauce too much, you end up with scrambled eggs, and that’s just not cricket.

Learning to juggle

I take my hat off to multi taskers. I know there’s supposed to be a female genetic requirement for me to be able to juggle several things at once, but I can’t.

First of all, I can’t juggle. It’s far to advanced for my very basic coordination levels. I barely manage patting my head and rubbing my tummy. Second, I have a short attention span, and a goldfish-like short term memory. I get distracted by the second task, then forget the first one all together. Cue things burning, overflowing and just generally going to crap. I’m not kidding, I wanted to add roasted tomatoes to this recipe. Put them in the oven, set about preparing the rest of the meal. Promptly forgot about the tomatoes.

This happened.

I threw out the baking dish.

So when I stumbled upon a recipe that is both delicious and healthy, I couldn’t help but give it a whirl. There is no way to lose with this recipe. It’s steak. It’s salad. It’s yummy. It’s sneakily good for you. It’s easy. It’s fast. IT’S EVERYTHING I COULD EVER ASK FOR. I find straight-up salads so unsatisfying, so if there’s a way you can make one that fills me up, I tip my hat to you. Use it to trick your men folk! Children! Ok, perhaps chorizo isn’t terribly good for you, but given the rest is, I figure it balances out… Right? Guys?

Balsamic Beef & Chickpea Salad

From Donna Hay

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon horseradish cream
2 1/1 tablespoons olive oil
2 chorizo, sliced
800g beef fillet steak
400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
100g baby spinach leaveds
1 cup mint leaves

Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, horseradish and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat half a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the chorizo and cook until golden, a couple of minutes each side. Set aside on kitchen paper.

Season the steak on both sides and cook, turning frequently, for 15 minutes or cooked to your liking. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, then slice.

Add the chickpeas to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes until golden.

Toss together the chickpeas, chorizo, spinach and mint. Add balsamic dressing and toss to coat.

Serve with sliced steak on top of salad.