All posts by Food from Michelle's kitchen

I live and work in Sydney, Australia. I'm a professional chef, food writer, and recipe developer.

Baked Rhubarb With Orange And Cloves

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Although rhubarb is readily available through autumn it’s often not till early winter that I get round to baking my first tray.

I keep it on hand in the fridge mainly to eat with breakfast, be it with porridge, yoghurt, or muesli. But it would be a crime against rhubarb to stop there. It’s such an interesting fruit to use in baking, that when I do have cooked rhubarb in the fridge, I often feel compelled to bake.

Sometimes I arrange batons of rhubarb across a butter milk cake – before it goes in the oven – or I fold it through and on top of muffins, and have even been known to layer it in the bottom of creme brûlées.

 

 

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The tartness of rhubarb is its defining appeal. And that tartness requires a certain amount of sweetness to tame its sour taste and soften its flavour. I use orange juice, brown sugar and cloves to do this.

As the rhubarb slowly cooks, covered in the oven, it half steams half poaches itself to tender pieces. When cooked just right rhubarb should hold its shape easily, yet still fall apart at the touch of a spoon.

So next time you’re out shopping and you see rhubarbs bright red stalks staring back at you, reach out, grab a bunch, come home, flick the oven on, and you too can discover the many possibilities with baked rhubarb.

 

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Baked rhubarb with orange and cloves

Ingredients 

1 bunch thick stemmed rhubarb

zest 1/2 an orange

1 orange juiced

1/4 cup brown sugar

8 cloves

Pre heat oven to 160C.

Trim the rhubarb of all its leaves, wash and cut into 6 cm lengths.

Lay the rhubarb neatly in a small baking tray.

Place the orange juice, orange zest, brown sugar and cloves in a small pan, stir over a medium heat till sugar dissolves, then pour the liquid over the rhubarb. Cover the tray tightly with foil and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes for thicker stalked rhubarb, less for thinner rhubarb.

Cool completely in the tray before transferring the rhubarb to a container, cover and store the rhubarb in the cooking syrup in the fridge for up to five days.

Mexican Pulled Chicken With Black Beans And Chipotle

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What will endear you to this recipe is its versatility to be served several different ways. I have three different meals that I tend to make from this one chicken recipe.

There’s the obvious way – served with rice. My pick is often with black rice (which isn’t black once cooked but rather a deep purple and the more wholesome of the choices). Of course it’s absolutely delicious with both brown and white as well. Any steamed green will add good balance here.

On other occasions it’s soft tacos. The pulled chicken piled into a soft tortilla and adorned with guacamole, sour cream and something green, be it coriander, spinach, or crisp iceberg lettuce. Now that’s a meal my children LOVE.

Both of those meals tend to leave me with left overs, so what better meal to turn the remainder chicken into than soup!

An easy option for soup using the leftovers: Cook diced celery and carrot slowly till soft, add vegetable or chicken stock, add a large spoon of the pulled chicken – beans and sauce included – and possibly some more tinned tomatoes, simmer it gently, eat it lovingly.

 

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Don’t be daunted here, you prepare pulled chicken in much the same way as you prepare pulled pork, pulled beef, and pulled lamb. The simple method of using two forks to gently pull apart the tender meat is effortless when the meat has been cooked long and slow.

Here, whole chicken thigh fillets are braised in a Mexican flavoured sauce of tomatoes, spices, and chipotle chilli, and finished with grated chocolate, in much the same way as Mexican mole would be (but far easier). The chicken is then ‘pulled’ before going back in the sauce.

Although the amount of  chocolate used is small it must be of a high cocoa content – the sweet stuff won’t do. I use chocolate made with 70% cocoa beans. The sauce takes on a richer taste with a subtle earthiness that matches gracefully with the black beans.

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Mexican pulled chicken with black beans and chipotle 

Ingredients 

700g free range chicken thigh fillet 

2 medium brown onions, sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 cup chicken stock

2 chipotle chillies in adobo sauce, chopped – see note

400g can whole peeled tomatoes

2 tbsp grated 70% cocoa chocolate

1/2 tbsp brown sugar

400g can black beans, drained and rinsed

Olive oil

To serve

Steamed rice ( black, brown or white)

Mashed avocado

sour cream

chopped coriander 

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1tbsp of olive oil in a heavy based pan with tight fitting lid, seal the chicken till lightly coloured on all sides.  Remove chicken and set aside.

Using the same pan (no need to wash it) heat another tbsp oil and cook the onions and garlic gently for 3 minutes. Add the oregano, cumin and cinnamon and stir till fragrant.

Place the chicken back in the pan, add the stock and chipotle chillies, and squeeze the tomatoes to break apart before adding to the sauce. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid, turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken and place in a flat tray. Using two forks pull the chicken into thin strips. Set aside.

Meanwhile, place the sauce back on the heat, add the chocolate, sugar and black beans and simmer for 15 minutes.

Place the pulled chicken back in the sauce, check the seasoning and serve with rice, avocado, chopped coriander and sour cream.

Note: Chipotle chillies in adobo sauce can be found in most green grocers, some Asian stores, delicatessens, or even order them on line. Once opened, store them in a air tight container in the fridge and use within three weeks. or try them in this great relish .

 

 

 

Roasted Brussel Sprout And Chickpea Salad With Garlic Yoghurt

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A dear friends Aunty who I lived with for six months in Brighton, the UK, (20 odd years ago now), would steam her brussels for hours on end.

On a Sunday morning (it was always a Sunday) she would begin the day by steaming the vegetables for the evening meal (gulp). The poor overcooked brussel sprouts would then sit all day on the stove top sweating in their pot till we all came home from the pub and she’d proceeded to heat them again before serving our Sunday roast with something I can only refer to as muck.

It was a crime against the vegetables and one that brussel sprouts never made a recovery from. That is till this year, when I pushed aside those horrid memories and took to roasting them.

 

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Suddenly there was reason to love this misrepresented vegetable. To write a recipe for it. To post it here on this food blog.

I urge anyone who has a brussel sprout phobia to fight back. To say ‘No’ to hating brussel sprouts, and ‘Yes’ to roasting them.

This quick and easy way of preparing them with za’atar, garlic, chickpeas and extra virgin olive oil is so delicious, and so simple, that it is side dish you will be sure to fall back on time-and-time-again.

It’s a side dish to serve with a roast, or a good steak, or any number of other vegetable dishes like creamy potatoes and baked pumpkin.

And what I really love about this dish is the whole cloves of garlic, roasted with the sprouts then skinned and chopped and folded through Greek yoghurt with mint if you fancy, the taste is strong yet subtle, creamy and rounded.

 

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Roasted brussel sprout and chickpea salad with garlic yoghurt 

600g brussel sprouts, washed and halved

400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp za’atar

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle at the end

4 cloves garlic, smashed but kept in their skin

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

1/2 cup Greek natural yoghurt

1 tbsp chopped mint

1tbsp lemon juice

Pre heat oven to 200C.

Cut the washed brussel sprouts in half and place in a large bowl. Add the drained chickpeas, za’atar, 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and sea salt and cracked pepper, toss till well coated.

Line a large tray with baking paper and spread the brussels over the tray. Roast for 30 minutes, or till roasted and caramalised looking.  Half way through cooking sprinkle the sprouts with 1 tbsp water to add moisture during the roasting process.

Set the sprouts aside and pick out the garlic, remove the skin and chop it to a fine paste, combine the garlic with the yoghurt, mint, lemon juice, 1 tbsp water, and season with sea salt and pepper.

Dollop the garlic yoghurt all over the brussel sprouts and serve warm.

Quinoa, Cinnamon And Chia Seed Bars

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It’s been a lot of years since I have eaten store-bought muesli bars. They have too much sugar for my liking and added preservatives that I just don’t care for. I prefer to make my own.

This simple recipe is adapted from one I wrote for Who Magazine last year.

Oats and quinoa flakes are combined with spices, dried fruit and nuts. It uses rice bran syrup as a natural alternative to highly processed sugar, and chia seeds soaked to a gel to help hold it all together during baking.

 

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Using rice bran syrup makes these quinoa and chia seed bars low Gi, and that’s a good thing! Low GI foods are digested slower, causing a lower rise in blood glucose levels making it a more sustainable energy source, which also keeps you fuller for longer.  Yay! 

For those of you with children who face the weekly ordeal of packing lunch boxes,(I have two of them that like to inspect the contents of their boxes each day), teach them good food doesn’t come from a packet and add these to their weekly routine.

For hikers and bushwalkers, these bars can quickly become a backpack staple, and one you’ll be happy to have near by when hitting those mountains.

And if you are the type of person to have breakfast on the run (not me, I am truly dedicated to this first meal of the day, and cannot leave home with out it) these bars would get you off to a good start.

Get baking!

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Quinoa and chia seed bars 

1 tbsp (Australian standard size: 20ml) black chia seeds

1/2 cup rice bran syrup

1/4 cup rice bran oil, or grape seed oil

2 tbsp honey

1/2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup quinoa flakes 

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1 1/2 cups trail mix (dried fruit and nut mix)

Pre heat oven to 175C

Place the chia seeds and 1/4 cup of cold water in  a small bowl, whisk and stand for 10 minutes till chia seeds turn to a thick gel.

Place the rice bran syrup, oil, honey (if using) and spices in a small saucepan, bring to the boil, turn off the heat and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the quinoa flakes, rolled oats, shredded coconut and trail mix.

Add the soaked chia seeds to the warm rice bran syrup and whisk to combine. Pour onto the quinoa and oat mixture and stir till well combined.

Line a 30cm shallow baking tray with baking paper. Place the quinoa mixture  into the lined tray and using a spatula press it firmly all over till it’s smooth and level.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly in the tray before cooling on a wire rack.  Once bars have cooled, use a sharp knife to cut bars to desired size. Store in an air tight container for up to one week.

Note: For a vegan version of these bars, leave out the 2 tbsp of honey.

(C) Copy right foodfrommichelleskitchen 2016 –  Quinoa and chia seed bars

 

 

 

 

Kale And Pickled Carrot Slaw With Green Tahini

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I have about half a dozen fantastic salads I’ve been eating over the summer that have all been on high rotation. There’s barely been a sandwich in sight!

And why not? Salads have become the staple that make me happy. They lessen the guilt of chocolate… cheese… and wine… The simpler the salad the better. Like this kale and quick pickled carrot salad.

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To be honest, a lot of the salads I make use tahini in the dressing (just quietly, I think I’m addicted!). I truly can’t stop eating tahini. I love that there’s always a jar in my pantry. I love that it’s a great source of calcium (among other nutritional benefits). I love that it goes so brilliantly with lemon, let alone when you blend it with lots of parsley too.

Oh, and I only buy the un-hulled tahini. The hull is left on during the processing leaving the nutrients in the tahini.  Basically it’s the wholegrain version.

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This fabulous kale coleslaw is simple and easy but does require a little preparation the day before. The quick pickled carrots may not be as quick as some would prefer. They need a day to pickle. But in comparison to the several weeks that my other pickled vegetables are left to mature, I think they can retain their title of ‘Quick’. Everything else is raw and can be shredded right before eating.

For those who like to dabble in leftovers, this green tahini coleslaw keeps in the fridge far better than one that’s dressed with mayonnaise. It’s fabulous the next day piled in a fresh piece of Lebanese bread, drizzled with chilli oil and lightly grilled.

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Kale and quick pickled carrot coleslaw with green tahini 

 

For the quick pickled carrots – start the day before – makes 750ml jar

3 cups thinly sliced (peeled) carrots – 2mm thick, use a mandoline if you have one

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp cumin seeds

10 whole black pepper corns

2cm piece fresh turmeric sliced, or substitute 1/2 tsp ground dried turmeric

  • Rinse a 750ml jar with boiling water. Place the sliced carrots in the jar.
  • Place the vinegar, sugar, salt, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, turmeric and 125ml water in a pot and bring to the boil. Cook on a rapid heat for 3 minutes.
  • Whilst hot, pour the pickling liquid into the jar over the carrots. Seal the lid, and leave to pickle on the bench for 24 hours. After 24 hours store the carrots in the fridge.

For the kale coleslaw 

2 cups of shredded kale

2 cups shredded white cabbage

1 large celery stick washed and sliced thinly on an angle

1/2 cup sliced pickled carrots, sliced into thin match sticks

Sesame seeds and chopped mint to garnish

For the dressing

1/3 cup un-hulled tahini

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup picked parsley leaves

1/4 cup water

Sea salt and white pepper

  • Combine the shredded kale, cabbage, celery and carrot.
  • Place all the ingredients for the green tahini dressing in a blender. Blitz for 45 seconds till well combined.
  • Pour the dressing over the kale and cabbage and toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds and roughly chopped mint.

 

(C) Copy right 2016 – Kale and quick pickled carrot coleslaw with green tahini

Creamy Black Rice With Ginger, Coconut And Mango

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I wouldn’t for a minute want you to think that this is a breakfast dish I eat regularly. It’s not. Most mornings it’s homemade muesli with yoghurt and fruit, or my latest obsession a green smoothie with chia seeds. But every now and then, when time and circumstances permit, I turn to this slightly exotic, utterly creamy, black rice.

In my kitchen black rice would usually find its way into salads, be used in a vegetable fritter, or be served under a spicy beef curry. So I admire it for finding it’s way to my breakfast table. The nutty wholesome flavour agrees with my tastebuds and funnily enough, unlike white rice, it’s rather soothing on the digestive system. Probably because it’s gluten free. 

I’ve used fresh ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves to delicately impart their flavours, and honey to sweeten at the end. On other occasions I have instead used vanilla bean and pure maple syrup (also delicious). And always coconut milk.

Slices of mango, now that they are in season, are sweet and tropical but not essential. The berries are though! These add a crucial sour taste and of course essential vitamins and antioxidants. And with all the antioxidants already contained within this gorgeously coloured black rice (which actually turns purple after cooking) you’ll be super charged with goodness for what ever the day ahead may bring. 

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Creamy black rice with ginger, coconut and mango

Ingredients

1/2 cup black rice

500ml water

400ml can organic coconut milk 

4 cardamon pods

2cm piece ginger, sliced

4 cloves

1/2 cinnamon stick, broken into smaller pieces

1 1/2 tbsp honey or pure maple syrup

To serve:

Sliced fresh mango

Blueberries

Toasted coconut chips – optional 

Place the rice in a medium-small saucepan, cover with 500ml water, bring to the boil, turn down the heat and cook for 25 minutes. By this stage nearly all the water will have evaporated but don’t drain or rinse the rice. Add the coconut milk and bring back to the boil.

Meanwhile, place the sliced ginger and cardamon pods in a small mortar and pestle and bruise lightly for the flavours to release. Add these to the rice along with the cloves and cinnamon. I don’t bother tying up my spices in muslin cloth as I don’t have a problem picking out the spices at the end. If this bothers you, maybe you might. Continue cooking the black rice on a gentle simmer for a further 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Once rice is cooked, remove what spices you can find and stir through the honey. Set aside to cool slightly before serving. In fact in hotter weather it’s nice when it’s served almost cold.

Divide the rice between bowls, top with blueberries (or any other fresh berry), sliced mango and toasted coconut chips. 

(C) Copy right 2016 – Creamy black rice with ginger, coconut and mango

Roasted Broccoli And Garlic Frittata With Pine Nuts And Thyme

 

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I guess I’m one of those lucky parents; my kids have always eaten broccoli. There possibly was some persuading in the beginning but I never had to hide it in their food, or tell them funny stories about eating their ‘trees’. It was, and still is, their most beloved vegetable.

And although my interest in vegetables – of all tastes and flavours –  is far greater than theirs, for me broccoli is a green I always want to see on my plate.  Strangely enough, it’s comfort food.

 

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You are probably familiar with the concept of roasting cauliflower. Its green cousin, – broccoli -can be prepared in exactly the same manner. The florets are sliced into large pieces drizzled with olive oil, salt pepper, maybe a spice, maybe a herb, and roasted in the oven for about 30 minutes.

After you’ve roasted a batch for this frittata, you really must roast another tray and serve it as a side dish on another occasion. We ate roasted broccoli with preserved lemon chicken and quinoa tabouleh a few nights ago and it was delicious.

For this frittata I’ve thrown in whole cloves of garlic to roast. The cloves are then squeezed and the cooked garlic puree (which softens in flavour) is whisked into the egg mixture. It’s fabulous.

Frittata is simple food. It’s dinner. It’s lunch. It’s even breakfast if you’re that way inclined. In fact, sandwiched between two pieces of bread it becomes picnic food too. Eggs are such an easy meal for any time of the day. I would be lost without them.

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Roasted broccoli and garlic frittata with pine nuts and thyme

Ingredients

350g broccoli (one large head stalks included)

4-5 cloves garlic

2 tbsp chopped thyme

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

6 free range eggs

200ml thickened cream 

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

Olive oil

Pre heat oven to 200C.

Slice the broccoli into1cm thick pieces and scatter it on a large tray (lined with baking paper if you wish). Sprinkle the broccoli with olive oil, chopped thyme, salt and pepper and whole cloves of garlic (skin and all). Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Turn the oven down to 175C.

When the garlic has cooled slightly squeeze it out of the cloves. Roughly chop it. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, chopped garlic, cream, salt and pepper.

Line a 23cm square tin with baking paper. Place the broccoli into the base of the tin and scatter over the toasted pine nuts. Pour the egg mixture over the broccoli and top with grated parmesan.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve warm or cold.

(C) Copy right 2016 – Roasted broccoli and garlic frittata with pine nuts and thyme