Bring A Thing 2 - Thing Harder

I really wanted to have this up in time for the long weekend - so I could use the conceit of 'having a long weekend get together? Maybe you could BRING THESE THINGS!!!! But then I found out that it wasn't even a long weekend in Queensland and I lost the will to blog/live. 

Then I ate some leftover poached chicken dipped in mayonnaise and felt much better, so here it is. Not long weekend, but maybe you'll find these recipes useful for your winter solstice gathering on June 20. Only 6 more shopping days to go people! 

Fig, Rocket and Feta Salad with Hazelnuts and Caramelised Balsamic

 All these photos are by me lol

All these photos are by me lol

If it's possible for a salad to be lux, this one is pretty bloody lux. I made it for my best mate's birthday dinner and got exactly the amount of compliments about it that I wanted (heaps). Probably only make this one in fig season (late summer-autumn? Google it) if you don't wanna pay like six bucks a fig. If I could eat figs all year round though I would - they're my favourite fruit (bougie bitch). Rocket works so well with any dried fruit cause it's so bitter - then chuck some dill, fetta and hazlenuts on that baby and you've got a lot of fancy flavours working together. Suddenly you're a genius and everyone loves you.

HERE'S THE RECIPE USE IT WISELY

'Bahn Mi' with Ginger Poached Chicken, Cucumber Salad, Spicy Carrot, and Wombok Mayo Salad.

I was a vegetarian for about 5 years, and for 3 of those I was vegan. I broke my vegetarianism on June 4, 2013 at the Madrid airport. We'd been delayed for 8 hours. I'd been smoking upwards of a pack of cigs a day for the month I'd been in Europe (they're real cheap ok) and going cold turkey was fucking hard when all I had to distract me was the bad YA novel I'd bought with my last ten euros,cause it was the only English book in the shop.

I was freaking out that I was gonna miss my connecting flight back to Brisbane. Then an airport worker came over and put something in my hand. A five dollar voucher for Starbucks. I walked straight up to the counter and bought a chicken lettuce and mayo sandwich and felt cvery slightly better. That combo of cold chicken and mayo is so comforting to me - white trash as hell, sure - but comforting. 

This 'Bahn mi' is my attempt to make chicken and mayo a little bit more interesting. I put bahn mi in quotes cause even though it's  'asian-ish stuff in a bun' (what most Western places mean when they say bahn mi) these flavours are a mishmash of chinese, japanese and thai mostly more than vietnamese. 

I brought these to a couple of friends houses, and I just put everything in tupperware containers and assembled the bahn mi there. Slightly higher maintenance than some of the recipes below, but worth it. 

 Check out the recipe HERE

Spicy Pumpkin, Mint and Feta Filos

I use the word 'Spicy' very loosely here. In that there is 'some chilli' in there. These are really good when you have to throw something together for a 'bring a plate' with quite a few people, especially if it's a standing up party. Mine kind of exploded in the middle (I think because of the steam? There wasn't time to get the coroner in) but still tasted really good. 

Come out to the coast, we'll get together, have some laughs... (recipe) 

Miso mushroom and Dates on Toast

I lifted this flavour combination pretty much wholesale from my new favourite cookbook purchase, 'Savour' by Peter Gordon. Except he used eggplant instead of mushrooms, which I only like when it's cooked properly like in great Chinese dishes and I had no confidence in my ability to do that. You're gonna be like 'Miso! Feta!??? yogurt!???' but miso just provides the nicest salty-savoury flavour you can put it with heaps of stuff that you don't necessarily associate with Japanese food. I'm promising ya that these flavour combos work - but you don't have to believe me. Plenty of chicken and mayo for us all to enjoy. 

Enough jokes, here's the recipe. 

Work Work Work Work Work Work (lunch)

You know how you always say you’re gonna cook all your work lunches for the week on Sunday, and save heaps of money? Yeah well imagine if you did that ever. Here’s a series of recipes that I think are good straight-from-the-takeaway-container-that-still-kinda-smells-like-last-weeks-panneer. They go well with sitting at your desk and dreaming about all the things you'd say if you weren't so passive aggressive. 

Probably the best salad

 Food Styling Is My Passion

Food Styling Is My Passion

I hate whenever recipes describe something as ‘delicious AND guilt free’ or like ‘you won’t BELIEVE it’s healthy’ – cause usually they’re talking about stuff with heaps of weird fake-sugar chemicals or under-salted microwave meals. Also if something is delicious you can’t feel guilty about eating it that’s the rule. But this salad, with honey and nuts and a bit of chili, tastes good (not as good as a grilled cheese but better than a can of tuna) and is relatively healthy. You could probably eat it for at least 3 days before you started really wanting a chicken burger.  

This recipe is very easy and you probably could have made it up for yourself – but I know sometimes it’s hard to think of a lunch idea that won't make you feel like shit, so here it is.

Ingredients:

¼ of a big pumpkin
2 cans of Butterbeans
300g Brussels Sprouts, halved
1 cup of nuts, roughly chopped (I used Brazil Nuts, but walnuts, pecans or cashews would work fine too)
Half a red onion, finely diced
200 grams of Rocket
1 Sprig Rosemary
Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Sumac  (you could use Dried Chili if you want more heat/don’t want to buy sumac)
3 tablespoons of honey
Half a lime
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 108 degrees. Cut the pumpkin into bite sized-ish pieces.

In a baking tray, coat the pumpkin, nuts and Brussels sprouts in the honey, sumac or dried chili, rosemary and a big glug of olive oil together until everything is evenly covered. Bake for about 30 minutes – checking after 20 if you cut your pumpkin fairly small.

When the pumpkin is soft, take the tray out of the oven and leave it to cool.

Drain the butterbeans, then add to the cooled pumpkin and nut mixture. Mix the rocket and onion through, and finish with a squeeze of lime and salt and pepper to taste. 

‘Spicy’ Noodles.

 Shit photo/dirty bowl by me! Sorry it's so shit. I started following an instagram account called 'the art of plating' so I assume I'll absorb something from that eventually

Shit photo/dirty bowl by me! Sorry it's so shit. I started following an instagram account called 'the art of plating' so I assume I'll absorb something from that eventually

This is pretty much a direct rip of the ‘Asian ragus’ from the Lucky Peach Cookbook – I just made it a bit easier and removed some ingredients. I had a lot of trouble finding Asian blackbeans (I went to one shop, couldn’t see them immediately, gave up) so just used the Mexican tinned ones and they were fine. Look harder than me though.

I reckon this should keep comfortably and still be delicious for 3 -4 days. I was still eating mine after 7, but I’m disgusting. 

Ingredients:

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped/crushed

1 Brown Onion, finely diced

250g mushrooms, roughly chopped

½ wombok cabbage, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons crushed ginger

1 leek, cut horizontally into 1cm circles

1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek (crushed chillies, sometimes with other stuff. They should have it in the ‘Asian’ section of your 'local supermarket'  – I started buying this cause I wanted to learn how to use chilli but whenever I cut it up my hands burn for hours. It’s good in everything)

Vegetable Oil

Soy Sauce                                

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

400g canned black beans

4 shallots, roughly chopped

Handful of bean sprouts (optional)

4 ‘cakes’ of ramen noodles (I don’t know what the serving sizes are called, but like 4X what’s normally in one packet of mi goreng. The plain ones usually come in 3-4 packs so you’ll work it out.)

Heat a splash of oil in a wok/frypan, add the onion and sauté for a couple of minutes until it starts to get soft. Add the ginger, garlic and leek and sauté for another couple of minutes.

Add the sambal oelek and the cabbage – put in a few big splashes of soy sauce and the hoisin and fry until the cabbage is cooked.

Cook the ramen to instructions (generally you pour boiling water over it, then cover for about 3 minutes).

When the ramen is cooked, add it to the wok with the mushrooms and black beans. I like to cook mine quite hot for a while, because I like when the noodles get a bit charred and that burnt soy sauce taste comes through, but just keep tasting and see when you think they’re cooked.

Add more soy sauce of hoisin as you go for taste.

To serve, top with bean sprouts and shallots for crunch. If you’re packing it in tupperware container to reheat, the bean sprouts will get soggy, so decide if you want to leave them off/bring them to work in a ziplock bag to add at the end.