Sneaky Sauce…

14 5 18 081I have to say, I’m actually pretty lucky with the vegetable consumption of my little bear cubs.  They do seem to have a preference for things beginning with ‘c’: cucumber, capsicum, celery, carrots and believe it or not, cabbage, I don’t know if this is coincidence or if the universe is trying to tell me something, I’m just going to roll with it and keep feeding it to them as, if there’s one thing I’ve learned with little bears, things change in the blink of an eye…

This sneaky sauce is based on a Tasty Junior recipe I saw one night and to be honest my initial thought was it would be most useful in upping the vege intake of hubby bear, but regardless of who needs to have the smuggled veg this is really tasty and super easy to use.  I just freeze it in 2 cup quantities and use instead of tinned tomatoes and tomato paste in everything from nachos to curry to spaghetti bolognaise.  I see no reason why you couldn’t also use it on a pizza base or even on sausages though I haven’t tried it like that myself.  Give it a go and let me know how it works!

 

INGREDIENTS

4 large carrots, diced

4 large celery ribs (leaves included), diced

1 large red/yellow/orange capsicum (bell pepper), diced

2 large onions, diced

2 large garlic cloves, diced

2 x 400g tins of tomatoes in juice

280g tomato paste

2 Cups of bone broth

1 heaped teaspoon of salt

Grind of black pepper

1 heaped teaspoon of dried oregano

1 heaped teaspoon of dried basil

1 heaped teaspoon of ground paprika

1 tablespoon coconut oil

 

DIRECTIONS

Sauté the carrots in the coconut oil in a large heavy based pan over a medium heat until they start to caramelise.  It’s really worth doing this slowly and not over a high heat as this is what dials up the natural sugars in the veges.  Once the carrots have started to brown and soften add in the onions and the garlic and continue to sauté for a few more minutes then add in the capsicum and celery and sauté for another few minutes.

 

Transfer your veges to your slow cooker and add in the rest of the ingredients, top up with water to fully cover your veges if you need to, then pop on the lid and leave it on low for ~8 hours or high for ~4.  I lurve things that just take care of themselves!!

 

Once you’re ready to get hands on with your sauce again, let it cool completely and then blitz till smooth.  I use a stick immersion blender and you would never know what the component parts of the dish were… sneaky 🙂

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WHITEBAIT FRITTERS

whitebait-fritters

Summer is coming, I can smell it!  There is something very summery about fritters, not too sure what it is as I am up for pan fried food at any time in the year, but make it into a fritter and all of a sudden you’re talking Summer to me.  One of our neighbours had very kindly given us some whitebait, so this weekend just past we flung open the sliding doors and enjoyed whitebait fritters and salad with a mighty fine Riesling and a side of sawdust from the tree that Hubby Bear had just chopped down.  Magic.

INGREDIENTS

200g whitebait

3 eggs, lightly beaten

Pinch of salt

Teaspoon of coconut oil (give or take) for frying

Fresh lemon wedges for squeezing – mandatory!

DIRECTIONS

Heat a heavy bottomed fry pan (I have a cast iron le crueset pan and I swear by it) over a medium/slightly high heat.  Add the coconut oil and when it’s completely melted test the temperate with a small dollop of your mixture.  You want it to sizzle excitingly the second it hits the pan, if it doesn’t the pan is not hot enough and your fritters will be flabby, no one likes a flabby fritter.

Pan fry heaped tablespoon amounts of the mixture for approx. a minute each side or until golden brown, crispy and set.

Serve with wedges of lemon and a gloriously crunchy and colourful salad.  Aioli is also really good with these if you’re that way inclined.

Lamb Loin Fillets with Caponata

lamb loin

Well here is effort number two with the Silver Fern Farms product Italian styles.

INGREDIENTS

2 lamb loin fillets, again like with the steak, hubby bear ate one and Baby Bear and I shared the other one, but for normal adults I’d allow one each

1 teaspoon coconut oil

½ brown onion, finely chopped

1 medium aubergine, cut into chunks

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Small bunch of fresh thyme sprigs, leaves stripped

1 tin of crushed tomatoes in juice

1 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, do try to get the good stuff, cheap ones often have all sorts of nasty additives in them

1 Tablespoon of olives

1 Tablespoon of capers, if you can get the ones preserved in salt do, just give them a really good rinse before using

Salt and freshly ground pepper

At least 2 Cups of shredded greens, I used baby kale and cavalo nero

Optional: Splish of extra virgin olive oil and Tablespoon toasted pine nuts
DIRECTIONS

Make the caponata first as it needs to cook for a while.  Heat a medium sized sauce pan over a gentle heat and sauté the onion in the coconut oil for about 5 minutes or until soft.  Add in the aubergine, cinnamon, thyme, tomatoes vinegar, olives, capers, salt and pepper and bring to the boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer for approx. 30 mins or until thick and stew-like.

Meanwhile bring you lamb loins out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature uncovered on a plate (I believe they call this blooming, sounds fancy so I thought I’d throw it in!). Heat a heavy based fry pan over a medium heat until searingly hot then add in the fillets.  For medium rare cook on each side for 4 minutes.  Then rest for another 10 minutes before plating up.  While the meat is resting wilt the greens in the hot pan with any of the juices that came out of the meat then dress with the olive oil and pine nuts.

Plate up and enjoy!

Silver Fern Farms Porterhouse Steak with Vege Mish Mash

silver fern farms steak

I was lucky enough to be able to trial a couple of different cuts of the Silver Fern Farms meat selection.  Hubby Bear had quite a bit of say in which cuts we chose (aka he chose them), but I must admit this was a good choice.  I still have the lamb loin fillets left to cook so stay posted to see how they turn out!!

I wanted to do something quite simple that would let the flavour of the meat come to the fore and I think this was a success, there was certainly nothing left on anybody’s plate at the end of the meal and in Baby Bear No. 1’s case that is pretty rare…  She would rather filch food off my plate than finish her own even though it’s exactly the same.  Nothing quite like the grass on the other side of the fence 😉

INGREDIENTS

2 x porterhouse steaks, Hubby Bear can polish one of these off by himself, but Baby Bear No. 1 and I need to share as her tummy is still little and mine is currently being squashed mercilessly

½ head of broccoli, chopped into florets

1 Cup of sliced button mushrooms, white or brown

½ brown onion, finely sliced

½ red capsicum, roughly sliced

1 Tablespoon coconut aminos

DIRECTIONS

Take the meat out of the fridge and let it come to room temperate (~10 minutes on the bench should do OK).

Combine the onions, mushrooms and aminos in a large saucepan over a medium heat and cook until softened, stirring occasionally.  Next add the broccoli and cook until just starting to soften.  While it’s still al dente and brilliantly green throw in the capsicum and stir to coat everything together.  Capsicum is wonderfully high in vitamin C so you don’t want to destroy that by too much cooking.  Take the pan off the heat and leave the lid off so it doesn’t keep cooking too much.

Heat a heavy based fry pan over a medium heat until hot then add in the steaks.  Leave to sear for ~4 minutes each side (and just leave them alone while they’re cooking, don’t poke them!!) for medium rare (I had to cook mine for a bit longer, poo to pregnancy dietary requirements) then leave to rest for ~10 minutes to let the fibres relax and the juices redistribute through the meat.  Then plate up and enjoy.  We did 🙂

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BACON, GREENS AND MUSHROOM FRITTATA

frittata

You know how some nights you get home and you just want dinner to be sorted?  The house looks like a whirlwind has been through it, you’ve got loads of washing to put through, Baby Bear wants you to read ‘Munch Crunch What’s For Lunch’ for the thousandth time (no? is that one just me?) and you just want to do things as quickly as you can.

Well drum roll please for my go to easy to do, the frittata!  Veges, bacon and eggs, it’s got all the essentials in it and most of the time is spent just leaving it to do it’s thing in the oven, got to love it.

Apart from the bacon, eggs, milk, salt and pepper, you can pretty much add in whatever.  It’s one of those awesome ‘use up what you’ve got’ dishes that always seem to turn out great.  This is also great with any roasted pumpkin, kumara (sweet potato), yams or beetroot you might have left over.  Go wild, I dare you 😉

INGREDIENTS

5 large eggs, please make them free range if you can, you will definitely see/taste the difference

½ Cup of almond milk

Good pinch of salt and grinding of black pepper

1 Cup sliced button mushrooms

2 Cups shredded greens, we used baby kale and cavolo nero for this one because that’s what we’ve got in the garden at the moment, but it’s also great with broccoli, silverbeet etc.

150 – 200g diced shoulder bacon, again please make this free range if you can, piggies who aren’t free range farmed have a horrible, horrible life and you don’t want to be putting the end product of that into your body

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat your oven to 180 C.

Sauté your bacon, greens and mushrooms in a heavy based pan over a medium heat, keeping it moving so it doesn’t catch anywhere.  There’s really no need to add anything to the pan for this as you get some fat rendering from the bacon and there’s plenty of moisture in the greens and mushrooms.  Once your bacon is just cooked through, your greens are wilted and mushrooms softened, transfer to your baking dish.  I use a silicone cake pan as it cooks well and is super easy to get out, but you can really use whatever you want, just remember the deeper the mixture in the dish, the longer it will take to cook right through.

Next comes your eggy mix.  Combine your eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a bowl or wide jug and beat well to combine.  Tip evenly over the veges and bacon in the pan and give a gently jiggle to distribute everything.  Then pop into the oven to cook for approx. 20 minutes.  However, as mentioned, time to cook will depend on the depth of your mixture in the pan.  You really don’t want to overcook this, so do keep an eye on it.  It’s done when the top is golden and there’s no wibble wobble if you shake the pan.

We had this with a super simple avocado and capsicum salad last night, as Baby Bear number 1 would say “tasty!”

frittata 2

Paleo Picnic Chicken

picnic chicken

From where we live, if the wind is blowing in the right direction, the aroma of KFC wafts over from the restaurant a block away (if the wind is blowing in the other direction you can hear the cows from the park which is preferable, though thankfully you can’t smell the cows…).   Now there is nothing I can think of that would induce me to buy KFC, but it sure does smell good.

As I’ve mentioned we’re enjoying a stunning summer here in this part of the world and living next to a beautiful park as we do, meals not eaten as picnics are wasted opportunities.  Solution; Paleo Picnic Chicken!  I’m pretty sure that chickens aren’t constructed the way they are for the sole purpose that chicken legs make the perfect picnic comestible, but it has worked out nicely that way.

Whenever I bake chicken or pork chops I brine them before hand for at least an hour in the fridge (preferably overnight) as it really makes a difference in keeping them moist and not letting them dry out during cooking, but if you don’t want to do this step don’t worry about it.

Now it’s just Baby Bear and me at the moment as Hubby Bear is away, so quants below are adjusted down from what I’d normally cook to cover dinner and then lunch for the whole family.  This is probably the smallest amount of the seasoning I would make but feel free to scale as you feel would suit your needs.

INGREDIENTS

4 chicken legs (drumstick part not thigh) with skin on and brined in enough water to completely cover them and in which you’ve dissolved a Tablespoon of salt.  Take them out of the brine and pat them dry with kitchen towels just before you season

¼ Cup of coconut flour

½ tsp of salt

1 tsp of Dijon mustard

1 tsp of paprika

½ tsp of seasame oil

Optional – 1 Tbs coconut oil for the pan

DIRECTIONS

Pre heat the oven to 180 C.

Mix all ingredients baring the chicken in a wide shallow dish until completely combined.  Roll the chicken in the seasoning pressing in gently to ensure they’re all evenly and totally coated.

Add the coconut oil to the roasting dish and put into the oven to melt and for the dish to warm up.  When the dish is warm and the oil is liquid take out of the oven and place the chicken legs in ensuring you have sufficient space between them to allow even cooking.

Bake until cooked through (approx. 50 minutes), browned, crispy and delicious.

We had these with a big green salad and some parsley, mint and oregano aioli, in the park, with the cows.  Unfortunately at that distance you can smell the cows…

Chicken fajitas

chicken fajita

I was a little taken back when I finished typing this recipe out and realized that with ingredients and directions we were at 2 pages!  Trust me, there might be a few elements, but it’s actually a doddle to make.  Now as I’ve mentioned before, we like tasty food, but we’re really not into spicy food.  If chilli is your thing go ahead and add as much as you want!

INGREDIENTS

Chicken Mix

½ an onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 double chicken breast, skin off and sliced into strips

1 pottle of tomato paste

1 cup of sliced button mushrooms

1 heaped cup of shredded silverbeet or spinach

2 heaped teaspoons of ground cumin

1 heaped teaspoon of ground coriander

1 teaspoon of paprika

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

1 teaspoon of coconut oil

Tortillas

¾ cup of tapioca flour

3 Tablespoons of coconut flour

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

Pinch of salt

1 cup of full fat coconut milk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon of coconut oil

To Serve

2 Cups of shredded lettuce

2 shredded carrots

1 large avocado, lightly smashed and sprinkled with the juice from half lime

DIRECTIONS

Get the chicken mixture going first.  Melt the coconut oil in a large, heavy based pan over a medium heat, add the onion and garlic and sauté until smelling deliciously savoury and turning translucent.  Add in the spices and tomato paste to the pan and sauté for another minute or so, trust me; you’ll smell the difference this makes in coaxing the flavour out!  Then add in the chicken, the mushrooms and the silverbeet, stir to combine, place on the lid, turn the head down and leave to come to a gentle simmer while you make the tortillas and salady stuff.  About 10 minutes before you’re ready to put everything together take the lid off the pan and give everything a good stir.  Leave the lid off as it continues to simmer to try and ensure any sauce is thick, rather than watery.

To fry the tortillas you really need a very heavy based frypan.  I have a cast iron le Cruset fry pan that is amazing.  Whatever you’re using, put it on your hob over a medium heat to build up the heat in the pan rather than whacking it onto a high heat, you don’t want to scorch or burn anything.  While that’s getting cranking, combine all the other ingredients in a large jug and whisk to combine.  You’re looking for the consistency of thick cream, you may find you need to add a little water to get there, but if you do please go cautiously, you can always add more, but you can’t take any out!!

Once your batter is ready and your pan is hot add some of your coconut oil to the pan and swirl it round to coat.  Now be prepared for the first one to be a bit pants.  For some reason the first pancake, the first pikelet, the first tortilla never turns out particularly well.  I just consider it to be the cooks treat, it mightn’t look particularly good, but that’s got nothing to do with the way it tastes!!  OK so now you’re prepared for the first one to look like a rumpled old tissue, we’re good to get going.  Pour roughly a ¼ – 1/3 of a cup of batter into the pan and tilt slightly to distribute evenly.  Wait until you can see little bubbles forming in the batter and the edges beginning to turn slightly browned, then gently slide your spatula under and quickly flip over to do the other side.  I find in my pan it’s usually about a minute each side, but you’ll find what works for you with your pan and hob.  Stack the tortillas on kitchen paper while you’re cooking the rest. Repeat until you’ve used all your batter.  Though, you don’t have to cook this all in one go either.  The quantities listed for this recipe makes enough for us for dinner and then lunch the next day, so if I’ve cooked this on a Friday or Saturday night, I’ll save half the batter and cook it up fresh for lunch the next day.

Assembly time!!  I like to just serve everything separate and let people help themselves to the different elements to create their own fajita.

baby bear's baby fajita

baby bear’s baby fajita