You can make friends with salad

The other week I invited my friends over to watch the bachelor in paradise and offered to make them dinner. When trying to work out what on earth I should make I realised we had a bunch of lemons and limes in the house that needed to be used so I did a google search for limes and corn and came across this delicious looking recipe for a mexican street corn salad.

When I visited Bali a few years ago my favourite thing to eat was spicy street corn and this recipe while different instantly reminded me of that experience so I had to give it ago. This salad was super easy and really tasty, in fact the girls I made it for liked it so much they both remade it for themselves the following week, if that is not #cookingwin then I don’t know what is.

Like always I did alter the recipe a bit. Because I am lazy I bought frozen corn rather than cutting it from the cob, and I used about 600 grams, I also used 1 whole red capcium and 1 whole green capcium while the reciepe only asks for 1/2 a red one. I also deicded to include some grilled chicken breast and used about 600 grams as well. I totally forgot to get a jalapeno which is a shame and somehow forgot about adding the avocado at the end – going to blame my friends for that one, was too busy talking to them and not thinking about the recipe 😛

I also chose to use yoghurt rather than sour cream and feta cheese rather than cotija cheese. I have actually never heard of cotija cheese and don’t actually think the coles in Canberra sells it .

corn 1

So I started off by cooking the chicken, once that was done I cooked the corn in the same pan so they would also get some of that flavour. I sprinkled some cumin and smoked paprika to the corn while it cooked and my goodness it smelled amazing. Once the corn was done I decided to lightly cook the capcium and onion as well, as I am not really a fan of raw onion. I also added a little of the spices to them while they were cooking.

Next I surprised myself a squeezed the limes into a bowl rather than directly to the mixture so I could scoop out the seeds #learning. I then decided to add the mayo, yogurt and spices into the same bowl and mixed all together before adding to the salad.

corn 2

Probably should have wiped the sides of the bowl before taking a picture ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

There was enough for 6 servings so I got to enjoy the salad again for lunch the next day. When I make it next time I think I will add a bit more corn, while there was a lot because of everything else I included it didn’t really remind me of street corn but was a crazy delicious meal!

Corn - plated

Not fal-awful at all

Not going to lie, I googled falafel puns. I actually feel like a MasterChef right now, I mean I made falafel from scratch! I mean turns out this is insanely simple to do but I will take my cooking wins wherever I find them.

I used a taste.com recipe but made a few changes along the way. Rather than edamame I used peas, simply because I like peas more than edamame, I also replaced the pistachios with almonds due to being allergic to pistachios. Also I used about 4 cloves of garlic not one because garlic is life.

This recipe was super easy to follow, I just chucked everything in the food processor and blended away. It said to add the lemon juice just as everything started to come together. I didn’t really know what that meant but stopped when it looked like the picture below.

Food processor

I did forget to mention above that I doubled this recipe as I was making dinner for a few people to eat while we watched the Bachelor in Paradise, so if you try to make this yourself your food processor may not look so full. I have no idea how much lemon juice I ended up using, roughly 3/4 of a large one. As I was squeezing it in a few seeds feel in the mixture, but I think I got them all out ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I also realised at this point I forgot to buy fresh mint, so I just sprinkled a little dried mint in, same difference right?

When everything was all mixed up I started to make little balls and place on the baking tray, they look really pretty but the mixture was super wet, at this point I was quite worried that I had messed it all up.

pre oven

I made 19 falafel balls in total, it was pretty difficult getting them to the same size due to how wet the mixture was. I also cooked them for 30 minutes in total, the recipe says 25-30 and they definitely needed the extra 5 minutes.

Cooked

As you can see they came out looking like weird healthy cookies but my goodness they were tasty!

plated

I chose to mix hummus with the yoghurt for the dressing, and someone also added harissa paste to yoghurt for their dressing both were delicious additions. The falafel had a really great lemony taste and they weren’t too dry.

What I learnt

  • I am a MasterChef 😛
  • Falafel is super easy to make
  • I should squeeze lemon juice into a cup before adding into a dish

Fully loaded

There is something so cathartic about baking, it really is one of my favourite hobbies. When looking for inspiration I always visit  averiecooks.com if you haven’t checked out her website before you are seriously missing out. However Averie doesn’t just post incredible recipes for cookies and cakes, but also has a large selection for mains as well. Earlier this week I just couldnt find anything to cook that actually interested me so I decided to browse through her collection and came across a seriously tasty looking dish, Loaded Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats.

Even though I decided to be lazy and skip a step by purchasing pre-shredded roast chicken, this meal still took me over an hour from prep to table, but it was definitely worth it. I think it was scooping out the zucchini that took the most time, the first one was especially hard, lucky these are loaded so no one noticed how demented it looked, I did get better and maybe faster the more I did though.

loaded 1

So I actually only made one mistake this time, I completely missed the step where it said to pre-cook the zucchini for 20 minutes before adding the rest of the fillings, oops. It wasn’t until I put the dish in the oven and went to check how long to cook for that I realised my mistake. I ended up just leaving it all in there for 25 minutes, I think the addition of cheese meant that the dish did not dry out.

loaded 3

I will admit that I was super nervous waiting for this to come out, I was scared that it would be both over and undercooked thanks to my mistake.

loaded cooked

When the dish finally came out I was super hungry and excited to give it a try. So excited and hungry in fact that I totally forgot I had guacamole and sour cream sitting in the fridge. I don’t think it was needed in the end anyway

loaded plate

Overall this was a big hit for everyone at home and I will definitely try more reciepes by Averie in the future.

What I learnt:

  • Read the whole recipe before I start cooking
  • Read it all again

Tart it up

So after a one month hiatus I am back and blogging. I did cook throughout february, making a very disappointing ‘spanish pork’ recipe found in the CRISO cookbook and another fail with a creamy pasta dish however I don’t actually remember enough about making them now to post. Turns out I am not as good at prioritizing my time to blog as I had originally hoped, however new month and new me and a new recipe.

Yesterday my boss kindly gave me a massive bag of tomatoes from his garden. Following from this I googled easy recipes with tomatoes and found a recipe on taste.com for an ‘Easy vegetable and ricotta tart’ and I can now confirm this recipe was both easy and delicious, although I did make a few changes.

The ingredients list for this tart were actually pretty vague such as: 2 x 145g tubs Mediterranean vegetables, drained and Mixed salad. I have no idea what they actually meant by the mediterranean vegetables and just grabbed some kalamata olives because I love them. The recipe also asked for 150g cream-cheese-stuffed bell peppers, drained but I decided that since there was enough fat already so I just grabbed a large green capcisum. I also didn’t end up using goats cheese because supermarkets don’t make it easy to find anything and settled on some feta instead ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

tart pre oven

Tart before it went in the oven

If you have ever cooked with filo pastry you will understand how annoying and fiddly it is. I did struggle a little putting the pastry together and ripped pretty much every sheet, I gave up up 7 sheets (recipe asked for 10). It wasn’t just the pastry where I totally ignored the quantities,  I used the whole capcium, and was quite rough with the amount of olives and tomatoes I added. For the ricotta I didn’t bother measuring anything out and just added a thin layer to the bottom of the tart. When everything came together it looked pretty good so I dont think this really mattered.

tart cooked

Cooked and ready to get in my belly

So apparently this tart feeds 6 people, but I cut it into 4 and had a slice for dinner. It was really really good, and as soon as I finish this post I am going to have a slice for lunch 🙂

tart on plate

This was definitely a success, and I think it will be a good base recipe to build off and try different toppings. Lets hope this is a sign that March will be a good cooking month.

Pomegranate chicken with almond couscous

For my first attempt at becoming a culinary master I found this recipe on the BBC good food website, pomegranate chicken with almond couscous.

I chose this for my first attempt in 2018 because there were only three steps in the method, not too many ingredients and most importantly I really love pomegranates.

I will put this out there now, a good reason as to why I have so many cooking fails is that I always make changes to any recipe I find, sometimes this is by accident because I forgot to pick up all the ingredients, and other times it’s because I just want to add elements I like and remove those I know I don’t really like. This recipe was no different. I chose not to include the chicken stock at all, rather I added a little margarine to the couscous and did not add anything extra to the chicken. I don’t mind using stock however I generally prefer to have it watered down as for me it just makes food taste too salty.  I also chose to go with harissa paste as opposed to tagine spice paste because I already had some. My final change was that I could not find flaked almonds in the cupboard (of course I ended up finding them after the meal) and so I just toasted whole almonds and added in some pine nuts too because why not. Oh and I forgot about the mint whoops!

I had trouble finding an actual pomegranate for this recipe, they were on sale at a few different supermarkets but had all sold out so I ended up buying a packet of the pomegranate seeds from Woolworths for $5!! A pomegranate normally costs about $2 so I was pretty outraged but it did end up saving a lot of time in the long run.

This recipe was actually pretty easy to follow, and it did taste pretty delicious however I made some mistakes along the way.

I started out with cooking the onion and the chicken, I then added the harissa into the pomegranate juice and mixed it around before adding it to the dish. At this point everything was looking and smelling good.

cooking1

I decided to cook the couscous not at the beginning like the recipe suggested. This turned out to be my downfall. I kept watch of the time and the dish, after simmering for about 9 minutes the dish was looking pretty perfect and I was excited that my first attempt at cooking in 2018 was going to be a success

2 edited

Look how thick and delicious that sauce is! Yum!

With a minute left of cooking according to the recipe I decided to add margarine to the couscous and fluff away. In my head I thought this would take a minute, in reality it took a bit longer. By the time the couscous was ready my dish had been over cooked and the sauce was gone.

3 edited

Thankfully I was not alone in the kitchen, and someone suggested that I add a little more pomegranate juice to the pan and cook for a minute so that I would have some sauce for the dish. This worked out okay but the final sauce was pretty runny.

The dish was still really tasty, while the chicken was over cooked and so a little chewy, the flavours were great. It was sweet and spicy at the same time, and the nuts helped bring a different texture to the dish which was really enjoyable. Overall I would say this dish was a relative success and I didn’t mess up too much to be completely disheartened so that’s always a plus!

edited 4