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29 March 2009

Poached Chicken Salad with Roast Beetroot and Tomato

So Mark came home a few days ago and informed me that he had had the best salad ever for lunch that day at a cafe in Pyrmont. Of course I wanted to re-create this meal for him (I was probably a little jealous he was so excited about the cooking of someone else!).
But I had been thinking about creating a roast beetroot salad, so this came as very good timing really.

The version that Mark had in Pyrmont contained goats cheese. I'm not a huge fan of goats cheese, but I love danish feta, so I have used feta in mine (I already had this in the fridge anyway) and goats cheese in Mark's.

This salad is not really something you whip up on a weeknight because I have actually cooked the tomatoes and beetroot for quite a long time, but it is well worth it for a lovely weekend meal.
See my post from 22 February 2009 for my homemade mayonnaise recipe. For the mayonnaise dressing used here, I added about a tablespoon olive oil, and extra white wine vinegar, as well as a bunch of chives. I also let it sit for half an hour or so in order for the flavour of the chives to penetrate the mayonnaise.

I don't have a decent photo of this one, but will put one up next time I make it.

Very happily for me, Mark said this was just as nice as the one he had at Pyrmont.

Ingredients (serves 2)

2 chicken breasts trimmed
1 quantity mayonnaise (see post from 22 February 2009, add extra white wine vinegar, olive oil and one bunch of chopped chives)
1 bunch baby beetroot (about 4 bulbs)
3 tomatoes
1 teaspoon sumac
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1/2 bunch endive leaves separated, washed and chopped in half
1/2 lebanese cucumber sliced
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
1 avocado diced
Goat's cheese or danish feta, as much or as little as you want, crumbled


Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Season with freshly ground pepper. Place the chicken in the boiling water and place the lid on the saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes, then take off the heat and set aside to cook through.

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees. Cut the tomatoes in half. Place in a baking tray, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with sumac and drizzle with olive oil. Clean and trim beetroot. Drizzle with oil, wrap in foil and place in the baking tray with the tomatoes. Roast for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, unwrap the beetroot and bake uncovered for another 30 minutes.

While the tomatoes and beetroot are cooking, place the pine nuts in a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

Place endive, cucumber, red onion, avocado and cheese in serving bowls. Slice the chicken and place on top. Cut the beetroot into quarters and add to the salad with the tomatoes and pine nuts. Drizzle with mayonnaise and serve immediately.

Delicious Beef Casserole

When I was young mum used to make delicious beef casserole that I loved. Since I became obsessed with my spice collection, I have been wanting to create casserole that I would love just as much. So last night, I perused my herb and spice collection, decided what flavours I would use, and set about trying to re-create those delicious flavours from my childhood. I have no idea if this is similar to the ingredients Mum used, but it was wonderful anyway.

Slow cook recipes are fantastic, I made this one last night, ready for an easy Monday night meal after what I knew would be a long and stressful day. And all the ingredients I have used in this recipe are fairly standard, pantry items (except perhaps for the anchovies)...or perhaps they are just standard for me? Regardless, I really enjoyed this meal and it was quite easy to prepare, just brown the meat, add the other ingredients and then leave it on the stove for a few hours.

I have use rump steak because the supermarket did not have much of a range. You could also use any cheaper cut of beef.
Don't be scared of the garlic. It becomes incredibly sweet and soft after being cooked for so long and loses its pungency.


600g rump steak trimmed of fat and cut into 5cm pieces
1/4 cup plain flour
Freshly ground black pepper
3-4 tablespoons olive oil (you may need a little extra if the pan becomes dry)
2 white onions roughly chopped
1 head garlic individual cloves peeled
45g tin anchovies
2 tablespoons worcheshire sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 cup water
2 teaspoons powdered chicken stock (I used chicken stock because that is what I had, you could use beef stock also)
1/4 cup fresh parsley roughly chopped
Zest of one lemon


Combine the beef, flour and pepper in a plastic bag and shake to combine. Heat a portion of the oil in a medium saucepan and brown the beef on each side. You'll need to brown the beef in batches to avoid crowding the pan. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside. Add extra oil as needed.

Heat remaining oil and add onion, garlic and anchovies. I used kitchen scissors to chop the anchovies while still in the tin and added them straight from the tin, along with the oil they were preserved in. You'll notice the anchovies will melt into the oil.

Return the beef to the pan, along with the worcheshire sauce, red wine vinegar, tomato paste, bay leaves, oregano, basil, water and powdered stock. Add additional freshly ground pepper. Stir to combine.

Cook over the lowest heat possible on your stove top for 2-2 1/2 hours, stirring every so often. I found that the longer I cooked this, the more tender the beef became.

Combine parsley and lemon zest. Sprinkle on top of meat just before serving,

Serve with baked potato or rice, and vegetables. I boiled our veges in some water and a little dried basil (another tip from my Mum).