Category Archives: Slow cooked food

Chicken, Kale And Lemon Soup

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I make and freeze soups all the time.

During these colder months of the year, when I’m cooking a different pot of soup each week, I portion the left overs into small individual serves and have them on hand in the freezer for when I need good food fast.

At the moment I have a decent but small crop of kale growing in my urban garden, (it loves this cold weather) and this chicken and kale soup is a perfect way of using it up.

 

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I steered clear of potato as a thickener in this soup, instead, short grain risoni pasta is used to add body to the stock and a smoothness to the soup that I find irresistible.

A free range chicken will give the best results here. The stock will be flavoured from its bones and the chicken is then shredded and added back to the pureed soup.

Of course, as with all kale, there is a slight bitterness here that is then accentuated from the lemon, but this too is part of the charm of this particular soup. And with the help of the sour cream and brown sugar the queen of greens flavour is smoothed out, and a silky soup is left in its place.

 

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Kale, chicken and lemon soup

Ingredients 

1 bunch kale

2 medium brown onions, diced

2 large sticks celery, diced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

3 fresh bay leaves

1 tbsp chopped thyme

1.5kg free range whole chicken

1 whole lemon – wax free if you can

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

white pepper

Sea salt

2/3 cup risoni pasta

1 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

To serve

Chopped parsley

Extra virgin olive oil

Wash the kale and trim away the inner woody stalk. Shred into thin pieces.

Place the onions, celery, garlic, bay leaves, fresh thyme, chicken and the lemon in a large pot, add the chicken stock and add 2 litres of cold water, gently bring to the boil.

Skim off any impurities that bubble to the top, turn the heat down and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken and the lemon, and set aside to cool slightly.

Place the soup back on the heat, bring back to the boil, add the shredded kale and risoni pasta, and cook on a rapid heat for 12 minutes. Remove from heat.

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze and strain the juices into the soup. Add the brown sugar and sour cream and puree the soup till smooth. Check the seasoning.

Meanwhile, discard the skin from the chicken and shred the flesh into thin pieces.

Once the soup is blended and seasoned to your liking, add the shredded chicken back to it, warm it through and ladle into bowls. Garnish the soup with chopped parsley and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

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 .

 

 

 

French Ratatouille

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Ratatouille, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s a fancy French name for cooked provincial vegetables, consisting of eggplant, peppers, garlic and tomatoes. It’s one of my favourite dishes, yet I can forget to cook it for months at a time. How can this be?

What I love about this ratatouille recipe is everything is popped into one tray. You will need lots of extra virgin olive oil. But that’s not a bad thing. I recently heard Ottolenghi talking about how much virgin oil he uses when cooking eggplant. He advised, use lots, then use more. So don’t be shy.

The ratatouille vegetables are covered with foil and roasted in the oven. The flavours have no other choice than to blend together. This method also ensures the eggplant is soft, just the way properly cooked eggplant should be. The peppers and onions take on a sweetness from the tomatoes and finishing the dish with vinegar and brown sugar sharpens all those flavours. 

 

 

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By all means, you can replace the tinned tomatoes with fresh ones. If doing this, four would probably be enough. I had tinned on hand this particular day and as long as they are whole tinned, you can then squeeze the tomatoes in your hands and squash them to the desired consistency (this is actually quite fun).

There are times where I desire soft goats cheese. I like to crumble chunks of it into the warm ratatouille. It adds a creaminess that is irresistible with the tomatoes. You might consider giving this a try.

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The obvious first choice of serving ratatouille is with pasta. You can’t go wrong here. Toss 2/3 of the ratatouille through your al dente pasta, spoon into bowls then top with the remaining ratatouille, crumble over extra goats cheese, black pepper and fresh herbs.

Ratatouille makes an excellent side-dish that you might serve with fish, lamb or chicken. Or it can be eaten spread on toasted baguette as a light lunch.

When given a chance to lessen the dishes, I take it. I revel in it. One tray food, yes please!

 

One tray ratatouille 

Ingredients 

1 small eggplant

2 red onions, diced

1 red or green pepper (capsicum), diced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

5 whole tomatoes from a tin (with a little of the juice) or 3 fresh tomatoes chopped

lots of extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Black pepper

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or basil)

1 -2 tbsp sherry or balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp brown sugar

50-80g soft goats cheese

 

Pre heat oven to 200C.

Peel the eggplant and cut into 1cm dice, place in a large baking tray. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic. Squeeze the whole tomatoes, in the palm of your hand, onto the vegetables (or if using fresh ones, chop them into a rough dice). Drizzle with lots of extra virgin olive oil, season with sea salt and black pepper, sprinkle with rosemary and oregano and toss gently to combine.

Cover with foil and roast for about 45 minutes, or till eggplant is soft.

Remove from oven, add the vinegar and sugar, toss gently till sugar dissolves. Allow to cool slightly then sprinkle with goats cheese and fresh oregano (if desired).

French lentil casserole an alternative to meaty dishes

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French lentils, with their motley coloured blue skins, are an excellent choice for cooking. They require no soaking and hold their firmness well.

This peasant style French lentil casserole is one I like to cook because it’s wholesome, hearty, and a great alternative to meaty dishes. I’ve just finished working on a round of winter recipes for the magazine that were rich and decadent and used various cuts of meat that needed long and slow cooking.  Ben Dearnley, one of Sydney’s well known food photographers, shot the pics yesterday, so officially, it’s a wrap! It’s time to satisfy my hunger for some lighter vegetarian fair.

 

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Don’t underestimate the importance of fresh herbs in a casserole. These should be used in the cooking and the finishing of the dish. My dearest winter herbs – lemon thyme and fresh bay leaves – are put to work in this lentil rich dish as the corner stones of flavour and labour alongside a large red chilli, split down the middle, which is then simmered gently in the lentils for a peppery bite to the dish. Diced carrots, celery, onion and garlic are necessary casserole ingredients.

The other herb that i use time and again is parsley. Here, it’s roughly chopped and pounded in the mortar and pestle with red wine vinegar, for acidity, and extra virgin olive oil for a smooth grassy flavour. If I was not to show restraint, parsleys vibrant colour and flavour would possibly end up in every savoury dish i cooked. Yet, with an abundant amount growing in the garden I hardly see reason to hold back. I also encourage finishing this casserole with a wild rocket pesto. Rocket leaves can be blitzed with pine nuts, parmesan, lemon and extra virgin olive oil for excellent results and a dollop added to the finished meal.

 

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Once cooked, this casserole doubles as a soup base and can be extended with a good vegetable stock and some toasted sourdough. It freezes well so portion it up into small amounts and satisfy your vegetarian cravings at a later date, possibly as a remedy to over indulgence.

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French lentil casserole

Ingredients

2tbsp olive oil

1 red onion

2 sticks celery

2 carrots

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tbsp picked and chopped lemon thyme

3 fresh bay leaves, or two dried bay leaves if fresh unavailable.

1 large red chilli, split length ways

1 cup French lentils

1 litre vegetable stock

350g washed kipfler potatoes

2/3 cup roughly chopped parsley

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

 

Dice the onion, celery and carrots into 1cm dice. Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed casserole dish and add vegetables, cook gently for several minutes. Add garlic, herbs, and salt and cook a further 2 minutes.

 

Slice washed kipfler potatoes (skin on) into 1cm thick rounds. Add vegetable stock, lentils, kipfler potatoes and whole red chilli to the casserole dish, bring to the boil and cook gently for 15 minutes. Use a ladle to skim any excess scum that cooks out of the lentils. Cover with a lid and simmer a further 15-20 minutes. Check seasoning and set aside.

 

Place the roughly chopped parsley in a mortar and pestle, add red wine vinegar, sea salt, black pepper and extra virgin olive oil, pound till ingredients are well combined (you could also use a small food processor, or chop parsley by hand and mix together in a small bowl).

 

Add the parsley oil to the lentil casserole and stir to combine. Divide between bowls and eat.

 

 

 

Fennel and leek sourdough gratin

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I cooked this fennel and leek, sourdough gratin for my lunch last week after spotting some fat gorgeous bulbs of fennel at my local fruit store. I had half a loaf of wholemeal sourdough that needed using when it dawned on me it would be the perfect companion for the fennel.  When the gratin came out of the oven I drizzled it with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled over some chopped parsley – it sure beat a boring sandwich!

 

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Gratins are a wonderful invention and we can thank the French for them. The culinary term – gratin – takes an ingredient, bakes it in a shallow dish, then tops it with cheese, bread crumbs or cream, then it’s browned under a grill – marvellous!

Now, a good sourdough bread is important in this recipe. A white or a wholemeal may be used. I reckon rye bread would be pretty good too. Don’t waste the crusts, blitz them up also.

This gratin is just one way to enjoy the mild Mediterranean flavour of fennel. Fennel flavours soups, stews and sauces. It can be braised with wine and stock, shaved thinly and eaten raw in salads, wedges can be crumbed and fried – it’s just so versatile!

 

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I’ve also cooked this gratin with Tuscan cabbage instead of leeks and quite liked the bitter edge the cabbage delivered.  A generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil after the gratin comes out marries well with the wine and stock.

If you’re looking for a protein to serve alongside this fennel gratin, roast chicken is a good choice, as is a grilled fillet of white fish. Or try French lentils or chickpeas. Or simply do as I did and eat it on it’s own.

 

Fennel and leek sourdough gratin

Ingredients 

1 large bulb fennel

1 large leek

1/2 bunch thyme, picked and chopped

1/2 cup white wine

1 1/2 cups hot vegetable stock

1 punnet of grape or small cherry tomatoes

2 cups sourdough bread crumbs ( 2-3 slices sour dough bread)

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Butter for greasing

Chopped parsley to garnish

Pre heat oven to 200C. Grease a 32cm shallow dish with butter. Halve leek and wash well. Slice into thin pieces and scatter over the bottom of the dish. Cut fennel into 1cm rounds, remove any thick inner woody pieces that look tough. Scatter fennel over leeks, sprinkle with chopped thyme, sea salt and cracked black pepper. Heat vegetable stock to boiling. Pour white wine and hot stock over fennel, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 50 – 60minutes.

Meanwhile, take 2-3 slices of sourdough bread, crusts and all, cut into small chunks then place in the food processor and blitz to a chunky crumb.

Remove foil and turn oven up the oven to 220C. Scatter the grape tomatoes evenly over the fennel, top with bread crumbs and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes or till cheese is golden.

Once out of the oven, sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Slow cooked osso buco

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There’s no tricky technique involved when cooking osso buco. The steps are simple, the cooking is long and slow, and the end result is succulent meat that falls off the bone.

 

Osso bucco means bone with hole, and refers to the “cut of meat” used for this popular Italian dish. Thick slices are cut through the shinbone of veal or beef. I’ve used the more traditional veal in my recipe but have also cooked it with beef, which is just as delicious and a cheaper option to veal.

The combination of meat and bone means deep, rich flavours develop in the sauce. White wine can be substituted for the more robust red and two tins of crushed tomatoes will do the job if you don’t have passata (passata is also known as sugo, it’s a smooth, pureed tomato sauce). I’ve used rosemary and bay leaves for my herbs but feel free to substitute with fresh thyme or even fresh oregano.

 

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Although there’s rarely left overs from this dish, on the odd occasion that there are, osso buco makes a wonderful pasta sauce the next day. Pick the meat from the bone and slice into chunks and re heat in the sauce with a dash of water. Cook your favourite pasta shape to al dente and toss with the osso buco sauce.

For those of us in the middle of winter, I say ” turn the oven on, get a pot of osso buco cooking, and sit back and await the joy that is slow cooking”

 

Veal osso buco

 Ingredients

8 x pieces of veal osso buco

Plain flour to dust

Olive oil

6 French shallots (or 1 large red onion diced)

6 cloves garlic, halved

3 carrots

3 large sprigs rosemary

3 fresh bay leaves

1 cup red wine

1 x 700g bottle of tomato passata

1 cup beef stock

To serve

Mash potato

Steamed peas

 

Pre heat oven to 150C or 130C fan forced. Season veal with salt and pepper then lightly dust veal with flour. Heat an oven proof casserole dish with 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Seal veal in two batches till lightly coloured on all sides. Set veal aside on a tray.

Use the same pot with out washing it, heat 1 tbsp oil, add shallots, carrots, and garlic. Cook gently for 2 minutes. Add red wine, rosemary and bay leaves and reduce for 2 minutes.

Add beef stock, tomato passata and a large pinch of black pepper. Return veal to pan and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid, place in the oven and cook for 2 hours.

Serve osso bucco with mash potato and steamed peas.