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29 August 2009

Broken Camera

Unfortunately our camera has broken - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Last night it did not work. We're going to buy another one, but have not yet had a chance. Apologies for the last of photos - quite honestly it is shame because some of these recent dishes looked lovely (even if I do say so myself).

I have however just now remembered that our video camera takes still shots, so I'll have a go at taking photos using that when I made lunch for Renee and Todd tomorrow - this really is the perfect weekend for me, lots of cooking for my friends!

Relaxing Friday Night Feast

Last night we had our friends Alana and Ben over for dinner. Alana and Ben have pretty hectic schedule (Alana being an event manager and Ben being a Qantas engineer) so this dinner was planned quite some time ago - but as a result I was extremely excited because I had long been thinking about what I would make for them!

As it was a Friday night, I wanted to cook something that would be easy enough to do after work. So, I came up with the following menu.

Lemon and Lime Prawns
Fragrant Lemon Spiced Chicken
Almond and Herb Couscous
Golden Chocolate Tarts

I also made a very simple spinach, avocado and pistachio salad with lime juice dressing. But I have not added that as it was really very simple.

No photos unfortunately - camera is broken and we need to buy a new one.

We had such a lovely time with Alana and Ben - ending with Ben smashing Mark at Wii tennis. Just a lovely way to spend a night with friends - good food, conversation and company.

Lemon and Lime Prawns

I purchased some black limes some time ago. I have used them in a casserole, but wanted to try pulverising them and sprinkling them over prawns or chicken.

Black limes are whole sun-dried limes of 2.5-4cm in diameter. They are have a delicious, citrus sticky pith in the centre.

So, yesterday, I took two black limes and ground them in my mortar and pestle with about 1 teaspoon black pepper and salt until well ground. I had a bit of a taste and decided that something more was needed. I had been trying to avoid lemon myrtle since I use it so often, but it really did seem like that was exactly what was needed. And I wasn't wrong, Just a small amount of lemon myrtle was perfect.

This is another dish that I will be repeating!

Ingredients (serves 4 as a starter)

20 green prawns peeled
2 black limes
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon myrtle
Olive oil to fry
Mayonnaise to serve (see post from 22 February 2009)


Grind the limes, pepper and salt in a mortar and pestle until well ground and combined. Add lemon myrtle. Place prawns and spice mix in a plastic bag and squish to coat prawns in spices. Preheat olive oil in a fry pan. Cook prawns for a few minutes on each side until cooked through. Serve with mayonnaise as a starter.

Fragrant Lemon Spiced Chicken

I asked Alana what sort of food she was into at the moment - and she replied that she is not too keen on too much heat. Taking this into consideration, I wanted to make a really fragrant, but mild curry chicken dish. Personally, I think when you add too much chilli it overpowers the rest of the food and you cannot appreciate the all the other subtle flavours. This is particularly true when you are making something that contains many herbs and spices. If you are adding a lot of different flavours you want to be able to taste the subtlety of each without the heat overtaking the dish.

I was really happy with how this dish turned out. I think we will having this one again this week. My inspiration for this dish was the cover recipe on 'Delicious' magazine this month - but as normal, I made a few changes and now it is actually quite different...

Again, this was very easy to prepare - just marinate the chicken in advance and pop in the oven to cook before serving straight from the oven.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 lemon zest removed and set aside, white pith removed and the flesh cut into slices
1/3 cup olive oil
4cm fresh ginger finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon medium curry powder (I used Herbies brand - delicious!)
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons tumeric
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Pinch dried chilli
2 onions finely sliced
3 cloves garlic crushed
1 tablespoon white poppy seeds
4 chicken breasts trimmed
Greek yoghurt mixed with lemon zest (you'll need a zest an extra lemon) and 1/3 bunch mint finely chopped to serve


Place the oil, ginger, dry spices and tomato paste in a bowl. Add 200ml water and whisk to combine. Add lemon zest, lemon slices, onion, garlic and white poppy seeds and stir to combine.

Put chicken and marinade in a plastic zip lock bag, seal the bag (releasing as much air as possible) and squish to mix the ingredients well. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place the chicken and marinade in a casserole dish with a lid. Cook for 40-50 minutes. Serve with yoghurt, couscous and a green salad (I made a spinach, avocado and pistachio salad).

Herb and Almond Couscous

I think in a previous blog I mentioned that Mark one day announced that he no longer like couscous and never wants to eat it again. Well despite that, couscous just seemed like the perfect accompaniment to this dish, so I decided to give it another go with him - and I seem to have changed his mind about it! He now says that he meant polenta not couscous.

As I was cooking on a Friday night I wanted to ensure that the meal was easy - and couscous is so much easier than rice, and so much easier to flavour.

We'll definitely be having it more often from now on.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 1/2 cups chicken stock boiling
Knob of butter
2 tablespoons toasted almonds
1 bunch parsley finely chopped
2/3 bunch mint finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Drizzle of olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon


Place the couscous in a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling chicken stock, add butter and cover with glad wrap. Leave for 5-10 minutes or until stock is absorbed.

Use a fork to mix through the almonds, herbs and cumin. Stir through lemon juice and add olive oil to taste.

Golden Chocolate Tarts

I was watching Jamie Oliver one day and he made these delicious looking chocolate tarts. They looked gorgeous and were very easy - so I decided to give them a go, but added a few extra little touches of my own...

Jamie Oliver used orange zest to flavour the pastry. I decided to raid my spice containers and used cinnamon instead. Wattleseed or allspice may also be nice (something to try next time). He also did not add any additional flavourings to the chocolate. At the moment I have a lot of golden syrup in the pantry. It seems a number of times I have purchased it with the intention of making something, and then have not. So I decided to add it to the chocolate and it added a really delicious caramel flavour. I really like golden syrup, it reminds me of eating homemade pikelets.

I used mini cupcake tins for these - if using normal sized cupcake tins, the quantities may need to be increased.

The pastry is a bit fiddly, but generally these are easy and can be made in advance.
No photo unfortunately due to the broken camera...

Ingredients (makes 10-12)

1 sheet puff pastry thawed
30g butter melted
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
100ml thickened cream
75g dark cooking chocolate
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons golden syrup


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Grease 12 holes of a mini cupcake tray. Brush the pastry with the melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Roll the pastry sheet up into a roll (like a Swiss roll) tightly so that the sugar are swirled through the pastry. Cut the roll into 1cm slices. Press down through the middle of each slice so that a flat dish is formed with the sugar and cinnamon swirled throughout. Roll each so they are about 1mm thick (ensure there are no holes). Line each cupcake hole with a pastry disk. Fill each with scrunched up baking paper and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden (you'll notice that some of the butter and sugar will caramelise - this is exactly what you want). Allow to cool.

Meanwhile place the cream in a glass bowl and microwave on high for a minute or so until just below boiling point. Break the chocolate into pieces and add to the hot cream. Mix until the chocolate has melted. Add the pinch of salt and the golden syrup. Fill pastry cases with chocolate and refrigerate until set.