Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Plum and Soy Glazed Chicken Tenders with Stir Fried Noodles

I had an open jar of Mirabelle plum jelly that a house guest had given us over the summer, half a red pepper and some sesame seeds...salad season is pretty much over, so I went for the next best thing between that and heavy winter dishes...stir fry.

When combined with a bit of soy sauce, garlic and ginger, the plum jelly made a lovely sweet -  salty glaze for some chicken tenders. I used the red pepper, some snap peas, the sesame seeds and steam fried noodles as the base for the meal. All in all a success!

In a pot of lightly salted boiling water blanch a handful of snap peas, remove and set aside. Cook the steam fried noodles in the same water. When they are cooked, drain and set aside.

Start the glaze by cooking in a drizzle of sesame oil:

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

After a minute, or when you smell the garlic and ginger, add:

1/4 cup Mirabelle plum jelly

Cook over low heat, stirring until the jelly has melted down.


1 tablespoon soy sauce

Stir to combine and set aside.

In a hot pan, using vegetable oil, sear:

8 chicken tenders


the plum glaze
a pinch of chili flakes

Bring to a boil, turn the heat down and continue to cook until the chicken is fully cooked, turning a few times. As the glaze reduces it will coat the chicken.

While the chicken cooks, start the noodles by cooking:

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger


1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

After a minute, add:

1/2 sweet red pepper, thinly sliced
4 green onions, thinly sliced

After a minute, add:

a large handful of blanched snap peas

Continue to stir fry over high heat, stirring often for another couple of minutes.


3 cups cooked steam fried noodles
1 tablespoon lightly toasted sesame seeds

Cook for another minute, stirring or tossing to combine.

To serve, place the noodles and vegetables into a bowl, and top with the glazed chicken tenders. Pour any extra glaze over the chicken.

  • Any type of noodle can be used; I like steam fried. Rice can also be used if you prefer.
  • This is not a very 'saucy' dish...if you want more sauce multiply the glaze portion of the recipe and set some aside to add to the noodles.
  • Any jelly can be used, as I mentioned I had an open jar of Mirabelle plum jelly. 
  • Other vegetables to use with the noodles are baby bok choy, snow peas, grated carrot or mushrooms.
  • If you have no sesame seeds, they can either be omitted, or be replaced with cashews or peanuts.
  • Use the glaze when roasting pork tenderloin or chicken breasts.
  • Any extra noodles can be used as a salad for lunch. Add some more vegetables, and use the dressing from the post Mango and Tamarind Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Asian Slaw

Monday, 18 September 2017

Fish Sticks with Roasted Red Pepper Tartar Sauce

Homemade fish sticks have nothing in common with the fish sticks I grew up with...they are not uniformly rectangular in shape, they are not dry and they ARE full of flavour. They do take a bit more work to prepare, but then again, anything that takes work is usually worth the effort!

As I have mentioned before, tartar sauce is a must with fish in our house; this one is made from roasted red pepper mayo...slightly different, and quite delicious!

Before you start, roast a red pepper, and peel and seed it.

Roughly chop:

1/2 roasted red pepper

Put the pepper into the blender, and puree until smooth.


1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Puree to combine.

With the centre stopper of the lid removed, and the blender running, slowly add:

1/2 cup olive oil

Remove the mayonnaise from the blender; it is not as thick as mayonnaise usually is, this is more of a sauce consistency.

Stir in:

1/2 roasted red pepper, minced
salt and pepper to taste

To turn the red pepper mayo into tartar sauce, add:

1 tablespoon minced capers
1 tablespoon minced dill pickle
1 tablespoon minced green onion
Hot sauce, salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Cover and refrigerate the tartar sauce until it is time to serve the fish sticks.

Turn the oven on to 375F and have a baking sheet ready for the fish sticks. Set up a breading station: one bowl with seasoned flour, and second with seasoned egg wash and a third with seasoned breadcrumbs.

Pat the fish dry if it was frozen.

Cut the fish into pieces that are about 1" wide; do not worry about them all being a uniform shape.

I used:

2 basa fillets

Bread the fish by placing each piece into the flour, then the egg wash and then the breadcrumbs, pressing gently to make sure the breadcrumbs stick.

Place the breaded fish sticks onto the baking sheet.

Bake until the crumbs are crunchy and golden, and the fish is fully cooked, about 20 - 25 minutes.

I served my fish sticks with mixed greens, and roasted rosemary potatoes and corn on the cob. The tartar sauce can be put on the plate along with the fish, or passed at the table.

  • To make the mayonnaise thicker, add another egg yolk and another teaspoon of Dijon mustard. 
  • A quicker way of making the mayonnaise is to use purchased mayonnaise and stir in the pureed roasted red pepper (store bought or roasted at home).
  • To roast and peel the peppers, I have added a link with all the information you need: How to roast peppers
  • The tartar sauce can be made a day or two ahead.
  • I use fresh breadcrumbs when breading. I freeze my bread ends and stale bread, and when I have a large amount I throw them into the food processor and make breadcrumbs. I store these in the freezer, and they are very handy to have. Panko or purchaed breadcrumbs can be used instead.
  • Chopped herbs such as parsley, thyme or dill; spices such as cayenne pepper; fresh garlic or green onions; lemon zest can all be added to the breadcrumbs for extra flavour. 
  • As the fish fillets are not an even thickness throughout I usually place two of the thinner pieces on top of each other and bread as one fish stick. This evens out the cooking time.
  • The fish can be cut and breaded earlier on in the day; it can also be breaded and frozen. Cook from frozen as defrosting will make the crumbs soggy.
  • Any firm fish can be used...halibut, cod, salmon to name a few.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Baked Risotto Balls

Making risotto balls is a great way to use leftover risotto, which is what I did with the extra leek risotto from a meal I made in August. I formed the risotto into balls, stuffed with baby bocconcini, and froze them until I was ready to use them.

That day arrived, and after defrosting the risotto balls it was as simple as breading and baking them!

Using cold risotto, form it into rough balls about 2" in diameter.

Count out the same number of baby bocconcini balls.

Press the risotto ball flat, and place a bocconcini ball in the centre, as shown.

Enclose the bocconcini with the risotto, and re-shape into a ball.

Using cold water to wet your hands and prevent the rice from sticking, gently press and shape the ball, making sure that the sticky rice holds together.

At this point you can freeze the risotto balls, as I did, or just chill them really well before moving onto the next step...

Set up a breading line, with seasoned flour, followed by beaten egg and then breadcrumbs.

Roll the chilled risotto balls in the flour, then dip them into the egg and lastly, roll them in the breadcrumbs to completely cover them, gently pressing to make sure the crumbs adhere.

Turn the oven on to 400F to heat up, and lightly grease a baking dish.

Place the breaded risotto balls into the greased baking dish and drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Bake until the centre is hot, the crumbs are golden and crunchy, about 30 - 45 minutes. The time depends on the size of your risotto balls.

Remove from the oven and serve...if any of the bocconcini has leaked out, just scoop the gooey melted cheese up and add it to the plate! I served mine with a chicken breast that was stuffed with goat cheese and roasted red pepper, and covered with capicolla.

  • The size of these risotto balls can be varied; try making them as small as 1/2" and serving them as a canape, accompanied by a dip.
  • If you make them ahead and freeze them, defrost before breading and baking. 
  • If you do not choose to freeze them, make the balls ahead of baking so that they can be well chilled.
  • The cheese in the centre is optional; it can be replaced with any other cheese of your choice or completely omitted.
  • I baked these, as I am not a fan of deep frying, and baking is a healthier option, but they can be deep or shallow fried if you prefer.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Pinenut and Rosemary Crusted Basa Fillets with Crispy Fried Capers

The crunchy crust on the Basa fillets was made from breadcrumbs (no more left in the freezer now), pinenuts, fresh rosemary and garlic, giving texture to the firm white fish, as well as a punch of flavour. I used up the last of the capers, draining and shallow frying them to make a garnish, and adding the reserved juice to some mayonnaise to make a quick sauce for the fish and fingerling potatoes.

To make the crust, place the following into a food processor:

3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons pinenuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Process until crumbly, then add in:

1 teaspoon sundried tomato oil

Process to combine. Set aside until needed.

Turn the oven on to heat up to 350F, and line an ovenproof baking dish with parchment paper. Pat your fish dry with paper towel, and place onto the parchment paper.

Divide the crust between the two fillets and gently press to adhere.

Place into the oven to bake.

While the fish is baking, drain 2 tablespoons capers, reserving the liquid. Heat a small pot of vegetable oil until it is hot enough to shallow fry, around 350F, or if you don't have a thermometer it should spatter if a drop of water is flicked into it.

Have a plate with paper towel ready for the fried capers.

Carefully add the capers to the oil, and fry until crispy, and popped open.

Remove the fried capers, and place onto the paper towel to drain and cool.

To make the caper mayonnaise, mix together:

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 - 3 teaspoons of reserved caper liquid
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

When the fish is cooked, the crust will be crispy and golden, the flesh of the fish firm.

It should take about 20 minutes, depending on the size of your fillets.

Remove from the oven.

To serve, place a fish fillet on each plate and garnish with a sprinkle of fried capers. Place a dollop of the mayonnaise on the plate, or pass it at the table. I served this with grilled red peppers and zucchini, and some boiled fingerling potatoes.

  • The crust can be made ahead; you can also make a larger amount and freeze it for another time.
  • Any nuts or herbs can be used; try adding spices such as cayenne pepper or smoked paprika.
  • When frying the capers be sure that the oil is hot enough, or they will soak up the oil, instead of instantly crisping and popping open. 
  • Be very careful; add them carefully, do not drop them from up high! The oil will bubble up so do not get too close to it.
  • Remove the capers from the oil as soon as they are crispy, and drain. They only take a couple of minutes at the most to fry.
  • The crispy capers can be used as a garnish for salads, seafood pasta dishes, on bagels with smoked salmon.
  • The amount of reserved caper liquid you add to the mayonnaise depends on your taste; I added 3 teaspoons. This was a nice variation on tartar sauce...smooth, tart and creamy.
  • Lemon juice can be used instead of caper liquid, making a lemon mayonnaise...add a bit of zest as well to increase the lemon flavour.
  • Any firm fish can be used...salmon, cod, halibut to name a few choices.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart - with a Soft Poached Egg

All I can say is yum! what a great way to use up that asparagus!!!

The asparagus was the reason for making this tart...originally I was going to use it in an omelette, then a quiche and then I had this idea. Maybe you could call it an inside out quiche; a crisp shortcrust shell, filled with creamy goat cheese, sundried tomatoes and basil, topped with asparagus and baked.  Topped off with a soft poached egg and served with a mixed green salad...perfect for lunch, brunch or dinner.

To start off, line a 10" rectangular tart shell with shortcrust pastry. Chill well, prick the bottom with a fork, and blind bake. Cool completely.

The pastry recipe can be found in the post Goat Cheese Tart with Grape Tomatoes and Fresh Basil.

To make the filling, mix together:

6 ounces soft goat cheese
4 ounces ricotta cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

When well combined, mix in:

1 egg yolk
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil

Mix in:

2 tablespoons minced sundried tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Spread the filling into the baked and cooled tart shell.

Blanch, drain and cool:

16 spears asparagus

Trim the asparagus to fit across the tart shell, as shown. Thinly slice the trimmed ends, and scatter them between the spears.

Sprinkle the tart with:

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Bake at 375F until the filling is slightly puffed, and set. The asparagus and Parmesan will start to get golden around the edges of the tart, about 40 - 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving. While the tart is resting, softly poach the eggs if you are serving them with the tart.

Serve the tart as is, accompanied by a tossed green salad...perfect for a light lunch or dinner...

....or top each piece with a softly poached egg...perfect for brunch or lunch.

Whenever you choose to serve this, it can be adapted by adding or omitting the egg. If you love softly poached eggs, with the runny yolk providing a sauce, then go ahead and enjoy! A beautiful contrast to the crisp pastry and creamy goat cheese filling.

  • The pastry recipe makes enough for 3 tarts shells, so go ahead and freeze the two extra pieces. Having pastry in the freezer is always handy...the pastry I used for this was in the freezer.
  • Purchased tart shells can also be used.
  • I used ricotta to cut the tartness and richness of the goat cheese, but feel free to use all goat cheese if you wish.
  • This can be made into more of a breakfast / brunch item by adding bacon, prosciutto or pancetta. Cook the bacon or pancetta until slightly crisp, drain excess fat off and then place on the tart underneath the asparagus. You can also cook it and serve it on the side.
  • I like to poach my eggs in a pot of water; if you haven't done them this way before, or have problems cooking them, follow this link for some helpful tips:
Egg Poaching Tips and Tricks

  • Most of this recipe can be prepared ahead...the tart shell can be lined, chilled and blind baked the day before. The filling can be mixed the day before, and the asparagus can be blanched and trimmed ahead of time.  Then it's just a case of assemble and bake.