Wednesday, December 26, 2012

#blog12daysxmas Day 2 Pomegranate Chicken

For my #blog12daysxmas challenge I am going to be jumping around amongst my blogs as the fancy takes me.  For day 2 as food seems to have been uppermost in my mind for the last few days I am going to blog the recipe of the Pomegranate Chicken which I cooked last week. I love playing around with recipes and food and being on holidays gives me the opportunity to do more of it than when I am working in a full-time busy job.

So why pomegranate chicken? As always a number of triggers led to this dish. I had some chicken breasts that I wanted to cook and a friend sent me a recipe of a chicken salad she had made with pomegranate molasses.  What could I do with my chicken breasts that would have a pomegranate touch?  I read a bit of Claudia Roden for some Middle Eastern ideas and then I just started playing around with foods that I had in the kitchen.  If I may say so myself, the result was very yummy.  Well, it certainly was to me as it included so many of my favourite foods!


2 cups pomegranate & cranberry juice
1/2 cup baby lentils (French lentils)
4 chicken breasts
Olive oil
1 can chickpeas
Handful walnuts
1 green pepper
1 tsp Sumac
1 bunch coriander


Place the pomegranate and cranberry juice in a pan on the stove
Add lentils
Cover and bring to the boil
Reduce heat and leave simmering
Meanwhile roughly chop the chicken breasts
Flour the chicken pieces
Heat olive oil in frying pan
Quickly seal the chicken pieces in the oil and add to the simmering juice and lentils
Break up the walnuts and add
Add chickpeas and Sumac  and combine
Thinly slice the green pepper and add to the pan
Bring to the boil again and then reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of hours until all the flavours are absorbed and everything is tender
Roughly chop the bunch of coriander
Add half of it to the mixture about 10 minutes before serving and mix well
Sprinkle the rest of the fresh coriander on the chicken dish on serving.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


One of my very favourite dishes of all time is spanakopitta.  I have had it in many places and in many shapes and forms.  But the one I love most is the one(s) that has evolved in my kitchen over time.  Of course, it isn't the same every time as I might use silver beet instead of spinach, or frozen spinach instead of fresh.  Or I sprinkle the top with sesame seeds instead of poppy seeds or I leave the top plain.

Spanakopitta is delicious fresh from the oven, but is still yummy heated in the microwave the day after and is fine cold too. I have used the mixture here to make a large spanakopitta but, of course, the filling can be used to make individual spanakopittes for each person or spanakopitakia for nibbles.

I cooked spanakopitta for a friend the other night and she described it as "refreshing."  I hadn't really thought of it in conjunction with that word before but it certainly is so when served with a fresh tomato and cucumber salad dressed simply with olive oil and torn basil leaves. Hmmm, heaven on a stick, she might also have said!



375 gr ricotta
200gr fetta
Parmesan or other yellow cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp Sambal oelek
1 garlic clove
4 spring onions
1 packet of frozen spinach or 1 bunch fresh spinach
Phyllo pastry
Olive oil
Poppy seeds


Preheat the oven to 180c
Place the spinach in a microwavable bowl
Chop the spring onions roughly and add on top
Crush the garlic and add to the vegetables
Add Sambal oelek
Cover the bowl with greaseproof paper and cook in the microwave on high for about 5 minutes
Alternatively this can be cooked on the stovetop in the upper part of a steamer until the vegetables are tender
Meanwhile place the ricotta in a bowl
Crumble the fetta by hand on top and add a handful of grated Parmesan (or to taste)
Add the egg and stir to combine
When the vegetables are cooked add to the mixture and combine well
Using a pastry brush and olive oil line the bottom of a baking dish with about six layers of phyllo taking care to oil well between each layer
Add the cheese and spinach to the phyllo
Fold the phyllo over the mixture and cover with several layers of phyllo brushing with oil between each layer
Fold in the edges and oil the top layer
Sprinkle with poppy seeds
With a sharp knife cut the top of the pie into desired portions. DO NOT cut hrough the bottom of the pie
Cook for 45 minutes in 180c oven until top is crisp and golden
Leave to rest for 2-3 minutes after cooking
Then with a sharp knife cut the portions through to the bottom of the pie
Serve with salad.

Yummy Ricotta and Dill Nibbles


I have been making these ricotta and dill nibbles (or variants of same) for years.  It has been so long that I have no idea where I got the idea for them from. When I was trying to think of a savoury snack to take last night to the Collingwood Historical Society AGM, these suddenly came to mind.


375 gr ricotta
20 gr dill
1 egg
18 slices prosciutto
9 cherry tomatoes


Preheat oven to 180c
Chop dill roughly, discarding large stems
Place ricotta in bowl and add dill and egg
Stir to combine thoroughly
Cut each slice of prosciutto in half and use to line 18 small muffin tins by placing each half in the tin across each other
Add a heaped dessertspoon of the ricotta mixture to each muffin tin
Quarter the cherry tomatoes and place two quarters on top of the ricotta mixture in each tin
Cook in 180c oven for approximately 30 minutes
Makes 18 nibbles.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Abla's Lemon Chicken Drummettes

One of the pleasures that awaited me when I recently returned from California was that my friend Emerald was visiting from Singapore. A couple of days after my return I had a lovely breakfast with her at the Greengrocer in North Fitzroy. She came laden with lemons and my first reaction was to make lemon butter with them. However, finally today I used some of them to cook one of my variants of Abla's lemon chicken.  I am not sure what I will do with the rest but the lemon chicken is just wonderful! Maybe I will need to have the rest of the chicken for breakfast tomorrow? And the rest of the lemons?  Well, lemon butter is still a possibility.

I love both Abla's restaurant in Carlton and her cookbook, The Lebanese Kitchen. Abla's recipe is for chicken wings in garlic but I am never very good at sticking to recipes. I use them as a guide. I used little chicken drummettes instead of wings and I just used already prepared and purchased minced garlic from a jar. So the principle and the cooking methodology was Abla's but practically no ingredient remained the same! Well, that's how I like to cook: getting ideas from different sources and seeing what's at the shops.  So here is my recipe for Lemon Chicken Drummettes.


10 chicken drummettes
1 teaspoon coarse salt
250 ml lemon juice
1.5 tablespoons minced garlic (purchased prepared)


Preheat the oven to 220c
Place the chicken pieces in a single layer in a baking dish
Sprinkle salt over
Roast for approximately 30 minutes until browned
Meanwhile squeeze lemons and add minced garlic to resulting juice
Remove chicken from oven and pour over garlic and lemon mixture
Stir through
Cook for another 20 minutes.

These are great served with a green salad dressed with shaved Parmesan.

Festive Coriander Salmon Salad

I know that people do still seem to be a bit obsessed with pumpkins but Halloween and Thanksgiving have now passed for my U.S. friends and yesterday I noticed that the City of Yarra low key Christmas decorations had been put up in Queens Parade. Yesterday we were also having family discussions about Christmas celebrations.  So when I was thinking of making a salad for lunch today, Christmas was there in my consciousness.  This salad is a variant of one I often make and one which I like to take to Christmas events. Today I made Festive Coriander Salmon Salad.



210 gr canned pink salmon (in water)
6-8 mini Roma tomatoes
2 Lebanese cucumbers
1/2 bunch of coriander (cilantro)
1 clove of garlic crushed
1 tsp crushed ginger
1/2 tsp Sambal oelek
1/2 red pepper
Olive oil


Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise
Slice the cucumbers lengthways and chop into rough half circles
Roughly chop the coriander
Slice the red pepper into fine strips
Place salmon (including liquid), tomatoes, cucumbers, pepper and coriander in a bowl
Add garlic, ginger and Sambal oelek
Dribble some olive oil over
Toss salad to mix ingredients

This should serve two people for lunch. If you are sharing the meal with someone who thinks that bread is the staff of life, some multigrain bread with lashings of butter would go with it nicely.


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