Category Archives: Eats

Recipe: Grain-free fig & hazelnut granola

grain-free fig hazelnut granola
My favourite of all the breakfast options is always eggs. Boiled, fried, scrambled or poached; I don’t discriminate. My other half though, well, he likes eggs but his heart has always belonged to sweet breakfasts. Pre our own paleolithic era, a creamy bowl of oats topped with fruit & honey or a thick slice of banana bread smothered with ricotta would do him just nicely thank you very much.

Almost every week since we started living life grain & dairy-free, I put together a batch of granola so we’ve always got a speedy breakfast on hand that satisfies any yearnings for the days of old. The beauty of granola is that you can easily customise it to whatever is in the pantry & you’ve got plenty of wriggle room to substitute or supplement for your own cravings or food requirements.

Our Healthful Pantry order this month included organic hazelnuts & dried figs so I was inspired to put this combo together. Hazelnuts, honey & cacao almost had me tasting Nutella. Almost.

This isn’t an everyday food but it’s an indulgence I like to have once or twice a week on days where I haven’t trained before breakfast & won’t be eating another nut-based meal/snack throughout the day.

I store this in a sealed container in the fridge & it usually lasts us 5-6 serves, depending on how much ‘accidentally’ gets stuck to the spoon after stirring (& consequently ends up in my mouth).

Grain-free fig & hazelnut granola

  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 8 dried figs
  • handful or 2 sunflower seeds
  • handful or 2 cacao nibs
  • shake of ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 tblsp raw honey
  • 1-2 tblsp coconut oil

Preheat your oven to 150°C (300°F) & line a large tray with baking paper (you don’t have to but you’ll thank yourself when you’re trying to wash the tray later tonight!)

Blitz the hazelnuts & almonds in a food processor for a few seconds, or until they’re roughly chopped (or chop them by hand if it’s early/late & you’re overly kind to your neighbours) & tip them onto your baking tray.

Thinly slice the figs & toss them, along with the coconut flakes, seeds, nibs & cinnamon, on to the tray mixing them in with the nuts.

Drizzle your coconut oil & honey (warm them if they’re a bit solidified) over the lot & mix it through a little to evenly distribute.

Bake at 150 degrees for 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes or so, trying not to burn your tongue on the spoon when you inevitably succumb to the toasty aroma.

Once it’s looking all golden and delicious, remove from the oven & let it cool down for a bit before tipping it into a container for storage.

Fig & hazelnut granola - Grain-free & paleo

We love to eat our granola topped with sliced banana, a handful of blueberries & a hearty drizzle of coconut milk. Depending on your relationship with dairy, feel free to involve some full-fat plain yogurt or whatever you’d normally put with crunchy breakfast-y goodness.

Just between you & me though, it’s also quite delicious eaten plain, by the handful, straight from the fridge.

Week of eats: 16 Feb 2014

Every Sunday, I plan out & shop for the majority of our meals for the week ahead. Here’s the best-of last week.

To kick things off on this rainy Sunday evening, as promised here’s the Creamy Chicken & Tomato Pasta from Let’s Eat Paleo by The Merrymaker Sisters. I added in some zucchini & served it with sweet potato noodles & it was super tasty. Quick & easy to put together, this dish has already made the menu again for this week.

Creamy Chicken & Tomato Pasta

The recipe was for four people so we both enjoyed leftovers for lunch the next day. A few cherry tomatoes, a handful of baby spinach & a sprinkle of some leftover pomegranate seeds & it was the second best lunch I had all week.

Leftover Creamy Chicken & Salad

While I put together the Creamy Chicken & Tomato Pasta dish, I let a pot of Chocolate Chili simmer ready for a speedy heat & eat dinner the next night. A day in the fridge to sit and flavour-mingle is the key to getting the most deliciousness out of a dish like this I reckon! This recipe is available online but I totally recommend Well Fed 1, the cookbook this is also in. (And FYI, the leftovers of this one took out favourite lunch of the week)

Chocolate Chili

Breakfast seems to be the biggest gripe new-to-paleo people post about online: “How do I do breakfast without Pop-Tarts, Coco-Pops & Wonderbread?” Behold the whatever-is-in-the-fridge scramble: sliced up leftover tomato-y meatballs, a handful of kale & 2 eggs scrambled with a plop of coconut milk. I’d have that over some sugar-laden cereal any day!

Kale & Meatball Scramble

One of the best cookbooks of last year would have to be Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi. We’ve made a lot of awesome dishes out of it & I was surprised we hadn’t given this particular recipe a spin yet. Braised Eggs with Lamb, Tahini & Sumac was an absolute ripper of a dish which Michael could not get enough of. Toasted pine nuts & pistachios tangled with spiced-up mince & roasted tomatoes, topped with eggs: Sold.

Braised eggs with lamb

Finally, although Valentine’s Day is a bit of a non-event in this household, I couldn’t resist making a chocolatey extravaganza for dessert on Friday night. This Coconut & Chocolate Tart was simple to put together & when topped with some figs & crushed macadamias, went down a charm with my Valentine. (Pro tip: drizzle coconut butter on top… Yeahhhh)

Coconut & Chocolate tart

Hope you’ve got some delicious things planned for dinner at your place this week!

Review: Let’s Eat Paleo by The Merrymaker Sisters

I’m a cookbook fiend but in an already tightly-stuffed apartment, there’s only so many books a girl can keep in stock.

Enter, the e-book. Now normally, I do like my cookbooks to be a touch splattered with the dinners of days gone by. But, for The Merrymaker Sisters and their cute new e-book, Let’s Eat Paleo, I’ll try & keep the mess to a minimum (garlic-scented iPhone anyone?)

Let's Eat Paleo

Let’s Eat Paleo provides an easy introduction for those new to paleo life & a refreshing approach to daily dino chow for those already in the know. And if you like your paleo treat eats, The Merrymaker Sisters oblige with a variety of sweets including tarts, smoothies, cakes & brownies.

Having made a few recipes from The Merrymaker back catalogue, I was excited to see which delights had made the cut for the 50 paleo recipes included in the PDF. While there’s plenty of new additions, my favourite recipe from the girls – the De-Snicker-licious Raw Cake – deservedly makes an appearance, as does the Spinach & Leek Meache which I keep meaning to whip out. It’s got Sunday night supper written all over it!

De-snicker-licious cake

The bottom half of this extravaganza I made last year is the De-Snicker-Licious Raw Cake – it lived up to its name!

Other recipes I can’t wait to crack out include Sweet Potato & Kale Pancakes, Raw Bircher Muesli, Mustard & Chive Scones, Lamb Korma in the Slow Cooker and Shepherd’s Pie in a Capsicum (why did I not think of this!?). I’ve also got the Creamy Chicken & Tomato Pasta plotted into the meal planner this week – stay tuned for my verdict & happy snaps later in the week.

In addition to the recipes, there’s an inspiring intro which focuses on the paleo lifestyle, not just the paleo diet. It’s obvious from the blog & Instagram feed The Merrymaker Sisters maintain that they’re active little vegemites who know there’s more to maintaining health & wellbeing than running endless kilometres on the treaddie! It’s so great to see this attitude being spread by young Aussie women.

If you want some fun foodspiration, a way to support young local talent or just a handy little e-cookbook, Let’s Eat Paleo is a splatter-proof investment.

Things I Love Thursday: 12 Sep

Here’s what’s been floating my boat this week 🙂

  • Researching all things Paleo! This meal planning template was a particularly useful find.
  • Pinterest funnies, especially this:

  •  Celebrating the birthday of my best friend since forever on the weekend. Friendship established 1992 & still going strong!
    Nina's birthday

    Here we are as chubby-faced primary schoolers 🙂

  • LOVE GRIT! Is it a tough workout? Here’s my post-GRIT face… Pooped!post grit
  • This Paleo Pizookie recipe with this banana ice cream recipe… Decadent but still a tick in the technical paleo book!

Paleo pizookie

  • And on banana ice cream: OMG!? I’d seen this article from The Kitchn before but just thought it was a bit of a beat up, or that I’d need some fancy-schmancy Thermomix-style blender. Ahhh no! It is pure magic! I shared the recipe with a workmate & he’s now using it as a bribery tool with his toddler. Bribery with just a frozen, blended banana – so simple! Just make it. You’ll see.

21 ways to get from paleo to delicious

The internet is rife with all manner of paleo resources – the good, the bad, the delicious and the downright ridiculously devilish (Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind, I’m looking at you).

Even though the guidelines of paleo eating may sound restrictive, there’s so much you can do beyond a slab of meat & a pile of steamed greens. I thought I’d put together this little slideshow of some of our paleo meals from the last few weeks to stoke the fires of creativity & point out some great paleo websites I’ve discovered along the way.

One more thing we crack on, I’ve read a lot around the traps about this way of eating being known for an over-reliance on meat. Long before starting to align our eating with paleo, we had enjoyed a tradition of a weekly “Meat Free Monday” dinner where vegetarian food was the no-excuses order of the evening. Interestingly given this criticism of paleo, we’ve continued this tradition without too much of a battle and I’ve included a few of these meals below.

The next chapter: Hello Paleo!

There’s change afoot in our household.

For the last 3 weeks, we’ve been eating to Paleo rules. That is:

  • Lots of vegetables & fruit
  • Plenty of meat & eggs & seafood too
  • A good dose of nuts & other healthy fats

Sounds good right?

Well, there’s only a slight catch. Excluded from paleo eating are:

  • Dairy
  • Legumes
  • Grains
  • Sugar (mostly refined – some occasional honey & real maple syrup are cool)

So, other than for a couple of celebrations where we indulged a little, we’ve binned the tinned chickpeas, left the dairy farmers in the lurch and kept the bag rice buried in the top of the pantry.

“But for what incredible benefit would you now avoid blue cheese??”, I hear you cry. Well, we’ve been really surprised at the benefits of eating this way and, to be honest, how easy it’s been to stick to.

For the last few years, I’ve had a gluten intolerance so that’s kinda helped us get used to the no grains bit a little but, don’t get me wrong, we did have brown rice, polenta and oats queued up, along with tins upon tins of cannelini & kidney beans, lentils & corn kernels.

Like I’m sure many young women do, I’ve always tried to stick to low-calorie options, squirming whenever more than a quarter of an avocado came my way & trying to think happy thoughts when chowing into fat-free tuna in springwater with cucumber on paper-thin 60-calorie wraps.

It feels positively wild putting 150 grams of chicken and half an avocado in a hearty salad at lunch time but you know what, it fills me up so much more than the traditional low calorie, low fat diets we are normally pushed towards for optimal health. I no longer snack between breakfast & lunch. I have a pre-gym snack before I leave work in the afternoon & a recovery mini-meal post-gym. And then it’s dinner time. We haven’t given up the two squares of quality dark chocolate after dinner but beyond that, we’re paleo all the way, baby!

We’ve lost a couple of kilos, actually feel hungry by meal times but never hangry (a major issue for me previously!) and, this is purely our experience, but we’re finding our tastebuds have been totally re-invigorated.

This is merely the beginning – we started out thinking we’d stick to it for a month & see how things went but now, after 3 weeks, I can’t think of eating any other way.

I’ll post more about our paleo adventures here. Don’t worry, it’s not all zucchini and beef: there’s some seriously indulgent things you can do with a bag of almonds, a handful of dates and an avocado.

You might have heard of caveman style eating? This is it. Forget all processed “food”; if it needs more than a quick steam or a sizzle in the pan to become edible, there’s a very good chance it ain’t paleo, sister. If you want to read more about the whole deal, hit up paleo gurus Robb WolfStupid Easy Paleo or Eat Drink Paleo for more information.  

Weekend in pictures: 19-21 July

Dinosaur craft. That was the biggest revelation of last week for me. After stumbling across this dino clutch bag DIY and this dino serving dish DIY, just about all I could focus on this weekend was accumulating all the pieces to get happy with dino-DIY! My friend Lee and I are tackling the dish on Sunday – excitement!!

Me & my DIY dinosaur

There were non-dino related activities too – a girl & her man have gotta eat, right?! Friday night incorporated this awesome skinny apple crumble. Without fresh cranberries available, I used some sliced up Medjool dates (& cut the honey back a bit). And to pump up the crumble topping, I stirred in a scoop of pumpkin seeds. Served up with a scoop of ice cream, M was in heaven.

Skinny Apple Crumble

After a heavy GRIT session on Saturday morning, I headed out to do the aforementioned dino shopping, but not before a coffee pitstop at local favourite Rolador. It’s nearly always a decent wait for whatever you order, whether you’re dining in or ordering from the side roller door, but given it’s always good it’s worth settling in for (good time for a scour through Pinterest, I say!)

Rolador cafe

The other great purchases of the weekend were these two Women’s Weekly cookbooks: Pressure Cooking & The Big Book Of Beautiful Biscuits. OMG. When I saw Beautiful Biscuits there was no way I was leaving without it. It’s the ‘vintage edition’ and my mum has the original.

New Women's Weekly cookbooks

Growing up, this was the book Mum would pull out when she had to ‘bring a plate’ or whip out a slice for a function. The slice I always, always wanted her to make was the below. A peanut butter, chocolate major deliciousness! While we got it once or twice, it was serious ‘treat food’ & looking at the ingredients as an adult, I can see why!

Beautiful biscuits kid dream

Funnily enough, when asked which recipe from the book he’d like me to make first, M suggested the below coconut chocolate slice… which was Mum’s go-to slice! I can definitely see why – delicious, easy & an ingredients list full of kitchen basics. And while I don’t wish to upset the ladies of the Women’s Weekly test kitchen, I did hack the icing slightly with great return. Instead of the suggested icing sugar/milk/cocoa topping, I mixed half a tin of light coconut cream (leftover from Friday night’s pressure cooked Massaman) and half a block of dark chocolate over a low heat for an icing of coconutty, ganachey goodness!

Beautiful biscuits slice

Sunday morning was all about brunch and coffees on the sunny deck at The Locale. I thought I hated their coffee but M suggested I try my latte with full cream milk, rather than my usual skim order… Lo & behold, it was great! There’s a few places around town that I don’t love for coffee so I can’t wait to taste test them with the milk switch – I think there must just be a skinny milk doing the rounds that’s a bit funk!

Locale coffee

After breakfast we hit the farmer’s markets & then finished off the rest of the groceries before hitting the carwash. It was a DIY car wash but it felt machine-y when you can sit inside to watch the suds run down the windows!

carwash

We decided to old-school it up for Sunday lunch & cooked up a chook & roasted vegies for a proper feast. After some initial browning, the chicken was done in the pressure cooker (with a recipe from my new book) in just 25 minutes! It was beautifully juicy and for less than halfa, I’ll definitely be doing it again! I made a chilli lime sauce to drizzle the chicken, which was stuffed with lemon, oregano & garlic. The vegies consisted of squash, garlic & brussels sprouts with a hearty drizzle of caramelised balsamic vinegar to finish.

Sunday roast

The final image of the weekend though goes to these beautiful dusky lilac roses which smell so delightful. Fresh from the farmer’s markets, I can’t think of a better way to spend $10!

Roses

Pan-Roasted Chicken With Lemon-Garlic Green Beans

Pan-roasted Chicken & Lemon Garlic Vegetables

While I love strong flavours, saucy dishes and recipes with 37 different ingredients, sometimes a one-pan wonder of chicken and potatoes is just what the evening needs. Especially after a vicious vertical run. Well, it could’ve been more vicious in length (3.9km, not too shabby!) but it made up for it in verticality? climb – check out that terrain map!

Hill run

Screenshot from MapMyRun iPhone app

After following a Pinterest link to a recipe that didn’t sound as delicious as it’s picture and then hopefully clicking on to another pretty picture, I found this recipe  for Pan-Roasted Chicken with Lemon-Garlic Green Beans.

lemons

The housemate offered up his chicken breasts for the greater good and we picked up some good-lookin’ green beans, red spuds & lemons from the supermarket.

beans

We missed out on making our usual trek to the local farmer’s markets on the weekend as we were in downtown Lithgow  for Team Frog‘s go-kart race – a race which they won, might I proudly add! We also befriended a whole herd of goats and a pony.

Lithgow

The sights of Lithgow: The goat, the horse & the grass

If you’re looking for a bang-it-in-the-oven one-pan-wonder, this chicken dinner is your winner. While I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter, you could quite easily mix it up depending on what is floating around in the crisper. We likened it to the slightly healthier version of Nigella’s Spanish Chicken which The Lad & I simply adore & most definitely should make again soon.

beans & potatoes

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Lemon-Garlic Green Beans

Slightly Adapted from Real Simple

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • ~6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lemons, 1 thinly sliced, 1 juiced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • generous sprinkling of salt & pepper
  • 3-4 good handfuls of green beans
  • ~8 small red potatoes, quartered (I used slightly bigger spuds & so only used about 4 and just cut them into small wedges)
  • ~700g chicken breast – we had two very large skinless, boneless breasts so I just sliced those up into tenders

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 230 degrees Celsius. Coat a large baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil & arrange the lemon slices in a single layer in the bottom.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the remaining oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper; add the green beans and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the green beans and arrange them on top of the lemon slices. Add the potatoes to the same olive-oil mixture and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, arrange the potatoes along the inside edge of the dish or skillet on top of the green beans. Place the chicken in the same bowl with the olive-oil mixture and coat thoroughly.
  3. Once coated, place the chicken on top of the beans & pour any of the remaining olive oil mixture over the chicken.
  4. Roast for 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through & the potatoes have softened in the centre & browned slightly on the edges.

Pan-roasted Chicken & Lemon-Garlic Green Beans

This is an easy week night dinner that takes minimal preparation & delivers low-key deliciousness for big & small eaters alike. It’s going to take a pretty fussy eater to decline this one!

Quinoa, Corn & Broccoli Pilaf

Quinoa Corn Brocolli Pilaf - close

I know it’s rather trendy to say but I quite like quinoa. We’ve been on the bandwagon for a while but I don’t mind the rush of people that seem to now be joining the fanclub – it means there are more and more interesting quinoa recipes popping up all over the place.

Quinoa broccoli pilaf

We saw this one in the paper last weekend & and again in Good Taste magazine & again online at Taste.com.au. Good Taste magazine is one of my favourites & it often makes its way into the basket at Woolies. This issue has a chorizo, chicken & potato pie on the cover… Hellooo!

Good Taste Magazine

While we always shop with a list, the farmer’s markets often have a few somethin-somethin’s that we can’t refuse. Like fresh chorizo for example. Hot, spicy chorizo!

Chorizo

So although this was supposed to be a vegetarian recipe, and would definitely taste great as such, we whacked in this sucker, sliced & diced. And he lived up to his spicy name! There was sweat people!

Corn

Other than the addition of the chorizo, we made a couple of alterations to the recipe, one of which included the cooking of the corn. The recipe called for chargrilling which I’m sure would be a whole load of tasty, but we were hungry & wanted to get the food, in the belly, pronto. We boiled three cobs until slightly tender & then sliced the kernels off for a speedy pan fry, along with the chorizo & some yellow capsicum, which was all then added into the other pan the quinoa was simmering along in.

Capsicum Chorizo

We shopped with the recipe in mind but this dish could lend itself to an assortment of flavours & could be a good way to use up leftover meat or lost-in-fridge bits like almost-over asparagus or beans.


Anywhoodle, see below for the recipe & give it a go: follow it straight up if you’re a quinoa newbie or go wild with variants if you’re a bit more sure of the ropes.

Quinoa Pilaf dish

Quinoa, Corn & Broccoli Pilaf

Adapted from Taste.com.au

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 150g (1 cup) quinoa, rinsed, drained
  • 500ml (2 cups) water
  • 300g broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 2 large corncobs, husks removed
  • 1 yellow capsicum, diced (optional)
  • 1 chorizo, diced (optional)
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh coriander
  • Low-fat natural yoghurt, to serve
  • Fresh coriander leaves, to serve
Method

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic, ginger and spices. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in quinoa. Add water and stir. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and place broccoli on top. Cover and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, lightly boil/steam your corn cobs until just tender. Set aside to cool & then cut down the corncob to remove the kernels.
  3. In a hot pan, saute the chorizo, capsicum and corn until the corn is lightly browned in places and the chorizo is a little sizzled around the edges.
  4. Add saute mix and chopped coriander to quinoa mixture and combine.
  5. To serve, top with yoghurt and coriander leaves.

Chicken, Fennel & Olive Tagine

Chicken Fennel & Olive Tagine

The Lad had been wanting to cook something with fennel bulbs for ages & when I came across this recipe on Bon Appetit Magazine’s website, we were both keen to give it a whirl.

Our tagine is tucked away in the designated kitchen appliance corner of the storage room until we move to our new still-being-built unit. (Which hopefully won’t be too much longer if the sunshine can keep on keeping on! It’s lookin’ good!) So it kind of isn’t a Chicken, Fennel & Olive Tagine, more just a Chicken, Fennel & Olive Stew, but it was downright delicious regardless.

Fennel browning

I hadn’t cooked with fresh fennel before, only the dried herby stuff, and it was far more subtle in flavour than I expected.

The only alterations we made to the recipe as it is here, were to use dried chilli flakes rather than cayenne pepper (again due to the cayenne being boxed away for a near-future kitchen) and a little less chicken (4 thighs rather than 6).

Chicken Fennel & Olive Tagine - stewing

We also went a little over on the olives… We love our olives! (Especially the marinated olives at East End Enoteca where we had the most amazing meal I’ve ever had in the Hunter. A must go!)

Coriander

This post’s gratuitous photo of the greens

Dished up with brown rice and an extra coriander sprinkle, this was a quick cooking, delicious way of trying out fennel cooking for the first time. I think this recipe will definitely be making some reappearances in both our temporary and near-future kitchens.

Chicken Fennel & Olive Tagine

Cauliflower Pizza Base

Cauliflower Pizza Base 1

Oooohh pizzaaa! While my mouth thinks there is nothing better than the cheesey, often meaty, delicious shamble that makes up a pizza, unfortunately my belly strongly disagrees. The ol’ stomach doesn’t seem to munch down wheaty goodness quite like it used to & within an hour or two of eating such carby delights, the digestive complaints start, mostly by way of bloat, loud rumbles & swishy-wishyness.

So when I saw this Cauliflower Pizza Base doing the rounds on Pinterest, I thought it might be a tummy-friendly go-er. The Lad thought it sounded terrible. In his opinion, there was no way that cauliflower could ever replace flour & yeast in a pizza base without tasting a whole lot like, well, cauliflower. I do enjoy the occasional floret of cauliflower when it is dished up to me but, I had similar doubts to The Lad – could mushed cauliflower make a pizza base?

Cauliflower Pizza Base 2

The answer, my friends, is a resounding, man-approved YES! And we’ve made it twice since my first foray (I waited til I was cooking & dining alone for the first effort but, after seeing my fridged leftovers, he happily lapped up a slice)

Cauliflower Pizza Base 3

I followed this recipe pretty much to the letter but I only grated (no food processors here!) & nuked (2.5 mins was plenty) the one required cup of cauliflower per base. Also, since the first run, I’ve tried baking the base  both with a little oil & without. With the oil was a little greasy – like a take away pizza – & without the oil was fine & definitely not too dry. I’d recommend going without – the base stays moist enough & the cheese makes it all go nice & golden anyway.

Cauliflower Pizza Base Raw

The base: pre-bake

For the topping, I used Iowa Girl’s Spicy Sausage & Sundried Tomato Goat Cheese Pizza as my inspiration. I used the world’s best pizza topping – chorizo, naturally – diced as the sausage.

Cauliflower Pizza Base Topping

Meats, cheeses & greens – oh my!

It was deeeelicious. This is definitely worth trying out regardless of whether or not your belly can handle wheat! It’s a great way of sneaking extra vegies into your meals and it’s a helluva lot easier & speedier than waiting for standard from-scratch dough to rise. The whole pizza can go from fridge to plate in half-an-hour: while the base has its initial bake, get cookin’ on your toppings & it’s seriously ready in no time at all.

Cauliflower Pizza Base 5

Sesame Orange Chicken

Chinese food is a funny thing. The food I thought of as “Chinese” when I was growing up included spring rolls, beef in black bean sauce and anything else in the bain marie at the local bowling club’s all-you-can-eat.

Scorpions… Crunchy.

When I was in China though, the food was a whole other level of delicious & there wasn’t a soggy dim sim in sight. Peking duck, garlicky choy and every sauced up animal part you could imagine was on offer. While scorpion, testicles & starfish weren’t the most delicious options, they certainly opened up a new world of what Chinese food really has to offer.

Testicles. Yep, testicles.

The discovery of Shanghai cuisine was another highlight – hello to one of my favourite restaurants, New Shanghai. Once you go Xiao Long Bao, you won’t go back.

So given this excitement for what lies beyond the bain marie, it’s taken me a long time to come back for Westernised Chinese food. It’s actually taken me pretty much until this recipe – Sesame Orange Chicken – to attempt to cook it, let alone eat it.

I never deep fry at home (for a combination of health, taste & excessive oil usage reasons) so I ditched the batter end of this recipe & just opted for a good cornflour dredge instead.

Other than that and the addition of some greens though, our stab at Sesame Orange Chicken went pretty much to the letter.

The first time we made it (with lightly steamed beans for the greens), the sauce gathered up so quickly that what should’ve been sticky orange deliciousness turned into a bit of a glug-fest (albeit a very flavoursome one!)

Round One: Glug fest

With the Lad keen to give it another chance, Sesame Orange Chicken made this week’s menu in the hope we could do the recipe justice. This time, instead of the 2 tablespoons of cornflour in the sauce mix, we opted for 2 teaspoons worth. And we added in extra orange zest this round – if you’re going to be a bear, you may as well be a grizzly! This. Was. A. Winner. (A winner winner chicken dinner, if you will!)

Yummmm

The sauce was a ladle-able puddle of sweet yet tangy syrupy goodness. For greens, we went for some almost-faded broccoli (which chirped up nicely in some icy water) and the whole deal was dished out on a bed of white rice.

Sesame Orange Chicken, adapted from Blogchef.net

Chicken
2 chicken breasts sliced into bite-sized chunks & seasoned with salt & pepper
enough cornflour to fairly decently coat the chicken pieces
peanut oil for shallow pan frying
steamed greens

Sauce
¼ cup tomato sauce
¼ cup honey
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
½ cup water
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon sesame oil
the juice of ½ orange
zest of one orange
sprinkle of garlic powder
sesame seeds

Step 1: Dredge chicken in cornflour & pan fry. Remove from pan when browned & cooked through.
Step 2: In a bowl whisk together sauce ingredients and pour into the wok to cook until thickened and bubbly.
Step 3: Add chicken & steamed greens back to the pan & heat together until everything is coated in syrupy sauce.
Step 4: Load up your bowl and say it with me “Oooooh yeahhh”.