Monthly Archives: October 2012

Mexican quesadillas

Following the excellent advice of comedian Jim Gaffigan, instead of giving these a more descriptive name, I think Mexican quesadillas works well.

“My favorite food is Mexican food, I used to be a waiter in a Mexican restaurant in Indiana. Now that’s where you go for Mexican.

Mexican food’s great, but it’s essentially all the same ingredients, so there’s a way you’d have to deal with all these stupid questions. “What is nachos?” “…Nachos? It’s tortilla with cheese, meat, and vegetables.” “Oh, well then what is a burrito?” “Tortilla with cheese, meat, and vegetables.” “Well then what is a tostada?” “Tortilla with cheese, meat, and vegetables.” “Well then what i-” “Look, it’s all the same shit! Why don’t you say a spanish word and I’ll bring you something.”

Mexican food is great, but it is all the same, it’s almost a conspiracy. It’s almost like they had a meeting 200 years ago in Mexico City and one guy stood up and he was like, “Hey, the reason I got everyone here is pretty simple, I figured we could rename this one entree seven times and sell it to the North Americans. The French said it would be a good idea.” “Who’s in on it?” Then some guy in the back was like, “Wouldn’t that be dishonest?” “Well, if you’re quiet we’ll name one of the entrees after you, what’s your name?” “My name’s Chimichanga.”

-Jim Gaffigan

http://www.comedycentral.com/video-clips/pymif1/comedy-central-presents-bottled-water

Love that guy.

This is a super simple dish that can be made as a wrap or as a quesadilla. I recommend having it as a wrap if you want to bring it with you to work or uni since it’ll be fresh and if you’re staying at home, toss it in a frying pan and make it into a quesadilla. This recipe is for one but you can easily double, or triple it.

Mexican quesadilla:

Tortillas (I used sun-dried tomato flavour)
1 can Mexe-beans, (though you’ll only use a few tablespoons)
1/4 cup tasty cheese
1/3 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced
Cos lettuce, chopped

You can also add ingredients like sour cream, tomatoes or meat but I chose to keep it super simple.

Place all the ingredients in the tortilla, either roll it up like a burrito or fold the tortilla in half, warm up in a frying pan and enjoy as a quesadilla.

 

Enjoy,

A

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Guest Post – Super Easy Breakfast Tarts

Living with two girls who turn out to be fantastic cooks has its apparent advantages. I can no longer count on two hands how many times I’ve wandered into the girls’ apartment to smell something amazing being baked/cooked/fried/prepared, roughly ten seconds before platters of food get shoved in my face accompanied with inquisitive stares that scream “what do you think? (and don’t you dare say anything bad about it!)”. Despite this pressure, these girls know how to cook and I can’t remember ever having anything bad to say about any of their creations. There’s definitely nothing more amazing than coming home after an epic night bartending and seeing an aluminium (sorry Allie, ‘aluminum’) foil-wrapped plate full of goodies waiting to be heated up and consumed at record pace. So I can’t really have anything to complain about right?

Unfortunately, skilled as Allie and Kahina are, there is one hugely embarrassing downside. Any time I attempt to create something of my own, it’s inevitably followed by ‘so-you’re-really-going-to-try-putting-those-ingredients-together’ stares, and two pairs of waiting eyes watching to see what my next culinary disaster will yield.

Take for example the last time Kahina made crepes. She is a genuine whizz when it comes to these things, I’m pretty sure making crepes is as inherent to French DNA as making pastries or appreciating fine wine. Anyway, Kahina was making us all breakfast and I, attempting to get in the spirit of things said “why don’t I try making my own?”. Cue raised eyebrows. Five minutes later what can only be described as a crepe batter explosion is all over the pan and surrounding benches and Kahina and Allie in stitches as I try to repair the damage to my breakfast. Crepes 1, Ciaran 0.

So my latest experiment was also something of a disaster. Both the girls were out and I figured I’d try to quickly cook up something before running off to Uni. We had a fair amount of puff pastry and some eggs left in the fridge from a previous cooking adventure, and having seen something about baked eggs in puff pastry on Masterchef, I thought I’d give it a go. What could possibly go wrong? Allie came home as I was finishing removing them from the oven and immediately I got the “omg-what-were-you-thinking-it’s-just-eggs-and-pastry” looks. Needless to say it was extremely embarrassing and yielded weeks of “Ciaran and his egg tarts” jokes. But this time I was intent on proving I could do something with the idea, and came up with these awesome breakfast tarts. I’ve seen variations of them at cafés all over the place and they’re just so easy that anybody can whip them up in a matter of minutes to impress even the most intense and critical foodie. Enjoy!

Ciaran

Ingredients – Makes 4 medium sized Breakfast Tarts

2 Sheets Puff Pastry

6 Eggs

2 Rashers Middle Bacon

1 Tomato (Alternately you can use Cherry Tomatoes)

100gms Button Mushrooms

Rocket to Garnish

Salt

Pepper

Butter

Sauce of your choice

Method:

Try to use a muffin tin or something similar. Fortunately I managed to use the girls pie tins which turned out to be perfectly sized for these tarts. Take the puff pastry out of the freezer and leave to defrost. Fry the bacon until crispy and then leave it on the side. Slice the mushrooms thinly, cook in a pot until soft and then set aside in the pot. Grease the muffin/pie tin with butter and then arrange the puff pastry so that you make a small bowl in the tin to hold the eggs. Add one full egg and then more egg white if required to fill the pastry bowl you’ve made. This can vary depending on the size of the bowl but be mindful the pastry and the egg will rise so try not to overdo it. The bacon can be cut up a number of ways, I tried to break it into pieces so it was all through the tart but I’ve seen it done as a long single piece so its really up to you! Toss a few of the mushrooms into each of the tarts. Dice the tomato and throw a few pieces in as well. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Bake the tarts at 180 degrees for about 15-20mins and take care not to overcook them as they’ll dry through the centre. The yolk should be just turning that lighter yellow when you take them out to rest for 5 minutes. Overturn the tins and gently remove the tarts. They may take some encouragement so I found it easier to run a knife around the edge first to make sure you get them out cleanly. Serve each tart with a little Rocket on top to give them a little extra colour and flavour. Add salt, pepper and sauce to taste.

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Stuffed chicken with goat’s cheese and spinach

Stuffing meat is a somewhat controversial subject.

I’m an American so I really have no problem with it. You’ll notice that most meat stuffed dishes originated in the US of A. I originally thought Chicken Cordon Bleu came from France (sorry Kahina) but it turns out, it’s an American creation. First referenced in the NY Times in 1967.

Other countries seem to be okay with stuffing their meat, however apparently Belgium is not one of those places. One of my Belgian friends recently told me she had never eaten stuffed chicken until she came to Australia.

One of my favourite pubs in the Rocks actually serves stuffed burgers, which are pretty awesome. The most awesome part, they’re stuffed with more meat.

One comes with a beef burger stuffed with pork and is possibly even topped with bacon, the other is beef stuffed with chorizo and mozzarella. A cannibalistic explosion of happiness.

While I do like stuffed meat occasionally, and this stuffed chicken is pretty damn good, I don’t think I could ever go so far as these atrocities.

Anyone remember the HIMYM episode where Ted makes a tur-turkey-key.

 

And did you know that stuffing a duck inside a chicken inside a turkey is a real thing? Oh Paula Deen. Only in America.

You can rest assured that this meal will cause you way less traumatisation than three different types of birds shoved inside each other. It’s a simple stuffed chicken with goat’s cheese and spinach dish, it takes a little bit of time (around 40 minutes) but it’s very simple and extremely tasty. Plus it’s a great leftover food for tomorrow’s lunch.

Stuffed chicken with goat’s cheese and spinach

Serves 4

Takes about 40 minutes

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
2 cups of spinach, chopped
½ cup goat’s cheese, softened
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced
Some kind of Italian or Mediterranean seasoning, I just used Gourmet Garden’s Parsley and Garlic mix
400g couscous

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Mix together the spinach, goat’s cheese, minced garlic and salt and pepper. With a paring knife slice a pocket into the side of each chicken breast. Stuff the goat’s cheese and spinach mixture into each chicken breast. Drizzle some olive oil on the top, season with salt and add the seasoning.

Simply make a small pocket with a paring knife and stuff with your favourite ingredients.

Heat a large skillet on high heat for 5 minutes. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 3-4 minutes or until golden on the bottom. Turn over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer to a baking dish and put the chicken breasts in the oven until they are cooked through, about 15 minutes. While the chicken is in the oven make the couscous according to the package directions. When the chicken is cooked let sit for a few minutes and then plate with the couscous.

Enjoy!

A

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Mexican Style Rice Salad

Chorizo is a great ingredient that I never really started using until I came to Australia. For some reason I seem to encounter it a lot more here than I ever did in the States. When you get it from the supermarket it’s usually pretty inexpensive if you don’t use too much. I’d have to say my favourite chorizo recipe is creamy pesto pasta with sliced chorizo and roasted cherry tomatoes (a simple but delicious recipe my boyfriend and I came up with). But this easy salad is a close second and it keeps really well for work-day lunches.

Mexican Style Rice Salad
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 6
Recipe from Coles

2 cups Long Grain rice, boiled until tender, rinsed and cooled
2 chorizo sausages, sliced into half circles
250g punnet grape tomatoes, halved
310g can corn kernels, drained
1 large ripe avocado, peeled, chopped
1/4 cup coriander, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Dressing:
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice 1 lime

1. Cook chorizo in a frying pan for 3-4 minutes until slightly browned. Add tomatoes, cook 2 minutes to warm through.

2. Combine rice, chorizo and tomato, corn, avocado, coriander and chives together in a large bowl.

3. Combine dressing ingredients and toss through salad. Season well with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Enjoy,

A

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Pasta with chilli garlic prawns and rocket

Many people have specific food phobias. Usually they’re based on bad experiences. Something along the lines of: I ate them before drinking way too much and saw them again at 2 in the morning in a very different form, I ate them when I broke up with my boyfriend and now they make me sad, I can’t eat them because they smell like old socks…you know, the usual.

Or sometimes it’s an unexplainable phenomenon.

Personally, I hate cucumber.

I know, I know, cucumbers don’t taste like anything, how can you hate them? Trust me, I’ve heard it.

But they do taste like something! Weird, slimy, icky something.

Thus, I avoid cucumbers, but I really have no valid reason.

Luckily, this dish has no cucumbers, but it does have ingredients that succeeded in making my roommate and boyfriend squirm.

My roommate doesn’t eat spaghetti. It’s one of those bad experience stories that I will spare you from so you don’t swear off spaghetti as well. And, my boyfriend hates prawns with all their googly eyes and creepy antennae attached.

So I decided to make spaghetti with chilli garlic prawns for our Sunday night dinner. Was I being mean on purpose? Well, of course not, how could you ever think that?

Okay, maybe a little.

In all seriousness, I actually amended the recipe so that they would both be able to eat in peace. We switched the spaghetti for fettuccine and I peeled all the prawns for my boyfriend. And we had a great dinner. Win win.

Pasta with chilli garlic prawns and rocket
Serves 4

Ingredients:

A dozen large green prawns
Lemon zest from one lemon
Lemon juice from one lemon
1 bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped
A pinch of dried oregano
A handful of Thai basil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 ½ cups rocket
400g fettuccine
Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven on the grill or broil setting. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and arrange them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place them in the oven and roast them until they are tender, about 20 minutes.

Peel the shrimp, (as you like, if you like to peel them while you’re eating, you can, or you can peel everything but the tail, or you can peel the lot). Put them in a bowl and toss with the chopped chilli, half the lemon zest, oregano, Thai basil leaves and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Put the pasta in a bowl of boiling, salted water and cook according to the package directions.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the shrimp in a single layer and sear on one side for two minutes.

Flip and sear another minute or two until the shrimp is cooked through. Add the tomatoes to the skillet.

When you drain the pasta, reserve ½ cup of the pasta water and toss with the shrimp and tomato mixture. Squeeze some lemon juice in. Season with salt and pepper and mix with the cooked pasta and rocket.

Serve with parmesan cheese.

 

Enjoy,

A

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