22 October 2014

Shaved Melon, Fennel & Olive Salad




So I am still in the midst of my 4 weeks of healthy living.  Actually bang smack in the middle as just now heading in to week 3, so just over the half way mark.  It has actually flown by & feeling great! It is just good to get back in to some of the good habits.  The good news is I’ve still been able to have treats! That is thanks to Snack Packs.  5 tasty little snacks delivered to work each Monday morning, different each week so we have variety, good for you & very treat like.  It is now quite the treat to receive that little parcel each Monday morning not knowing what delights it is going to contain!  It also means I’m not buying up crackers & hummus & nuts in the weekly shop & usually buying too many that all get scoffed.

        
This week we’ve got mint condition & apricot coconut Amazeballs…they are really quite amazing. Plus grain crackers with almond butter, a cashew & apricot energy bar & the crusher; a mix of dried apricots, dark chocolate & walnuts. Snacks & treats well & truly sorted for the week.

Much as we’re on a somewhat healthier kick I still need variety & need to veer off the regime now & then with a few experiments & this salad was just the ticket for something a little different. A little sweet & a little crunchy & refreshing on one of the first sunny days of the almost summer season.

Shaved Melon, Fennel & Olive Salad, from Bon Appettite

Ingredients

1 tbsp fresh orange juice
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1 gala or honeydew melon, rind & seeds removed, shaved on a mandoline
1 fennel bulb, shaved on a mandolin
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
2 tbsp roughly chopped fennel fronds
¼ cup brined green olives, very coarsely chopped


Directions

Whisk together the orange & lemon juice along with the olive oil in a large bowl.  Season with salt & pepper & add the melon, fennel & olives. Toss to combine & coat in the dressing.  Scatter over the orange zest & fennel fronds , drizzle with a little olive oil  & serve immediately.


Bright, fresh, a little salty from the olives & a little sweet from the melon...a quite delightful addition to the salad repertoire.






Enjoy!

12 October 2014

Lemon & Rosemary Chicken with Fennel & Cabbage Slaw




Not really sure where the last few weeks have gone.  I have been cooking & eating, but just enjoying rather than photographing every concoction hence the lack of posting here on Toast. Sometimes it is good just to enjoy rather than be thinking about every meal being a blog post.  There’s been some wonderful seafood including quite spectacular Vietnamese scallops with soy, garlic & lemongrass dipping sauce & prawns with a spicy mango & tomato dipping sauce.  Plus a wonderfully spicy Thai green curry & a Mexican fiesta; guacamole of course, spicy grilled prawns to start & then chilli & honey BBQ racks of lamb washed down with some quite delicious Mexican Mojitos.




Not to mention a couple of ladies lunches...including Ladies Lunch at Soul.  Sadly by the time you read this you will have missed Ladies Lunch at Soul & will just have to wait until next September!  Sorry!  However you should really head down there any sunny day for a lazy lunch.  The perfect spot by the water where the food is delicious & service always fantastic.




And after all that Spring is really here, well finally really here this weekend.  It’s felt like a long time coming.  A little tease every now & then over the last few weeks with a random sunny day before the southerlies return to blow us away with their icy gusts & rain, lots of rain!  But this weekend, it’s warm, the days are longer & the BBQ is getting it’s first proper work out of the season.

And with Spring here & Summer fast approaching time for a little healthier living.  No diet per se just cutting out the should be treats that seem to have become the norm & a little less wine, well for a few weeks anyway!



Fortunately my gym BodyTech has put together a programme that will keep me on track for the next 4 weeks, well 3 more we’re already one week down, & kick me back on track.  In a nutshell for the next 4 weeks, super slow weights 3 times a week, lots of water & some very tasty, healthy meals.  The only thing really cut out is the wine.  For me I just needed a few weeks structured & planned out to get me back on track post all those winter indulgences.  The one treat for me is no cardio! Yes you heard right this one’s really all about converting fat to muscle to make me a leaner & more efficient me.  I have done it before & it works, promise. But any excuse for no cardio works for me.



Like I said no diet per say; no one food group is cut out so that works for me. I just can’t do the no diet, no carbs no sugar no fat paleo Atkins no taste no joy or whatever the latest trend is on what we shouldn’t be doing.  I’d rather do what we should be doing.  This is just tasty, healthy fresh food. More common sense eating than anything else.  Last week included couscous salads & Mexican beef & bean pies for lunches & dinners included stir fired honey chicken, baked fish with potato & watercress salad & this bright, tasty super healthy chicken; lemon & rosemary chicken with fennel & cabbage slaw.

Lemon & Rosemary Chicken with Fennel & Cabbage Slaw, adapted slightly from Healthy Food Guide

Ingredients

2 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
Pinch chilli flakes
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
4 x 120g skinless chicken breast fillets
2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
Fennel frond, optional
1/4 small red cabbage, trimmed, finely shredded
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Cooking oil spray
1/4 cup salt-reduced chicken stock
Juice of half a lemon
Salt & pepper


Directions

Pre heat oven to 180C/350F

Place the  rosemary, chilli flakes, lemon zest & olive oil on a plate, season with salt & pepper & mix together. Press each side of the chicken breasts in the mixture to coat & place in a baking tray. Pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. It will depend on the thickness of the chicken breasts so just check on them.  When ready the juices will rub clear.

While the chicken is cooking make the slaw. Place the fennel, fennel fronds, cabbage & parsley in a bowl & mix to combine. In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil & a little salt & pepper. Drizzle over slaw & toss to combine.

Remove the chicken from the oven & cover with foil to keep warm while you make the sauce, well more of a drizzle really. Place any juices from the baking tray in a small frying pan & add the chicken stock & lemon juice. Bring to a simmer & let it heat through for a moment or 2.

To serve place the slaw on plates, top with the chicken & drizzle with the sauce.




Enjoy!

29 September 2014

Thai Salmon Fish Cakes





A little spice, a little coconut, a little ginger & kaffir lime – the flavours of Thailand & they are perfect for brightening up a healthy flavourful dinner.  A few more of which are required as Summer is fast approaching. Spring is here & most of the office is kick starting Spring with some healthy living.  Measurements are being taken & goals logged.  There’s even a little healthy competition to keep everyone on track over the next few weeks.

Nadia Lim’s Good Food Cook Book has become a bit of a go to for me for fast, healthy, full of flavour dinners.  These Thai salmon cakes are bursting with the flavours of Thailand; packed full of chilli, ginger, kaffir lime & coconut cream.  I love them all, I add chilli to just about everything, like hit of ginger & love anything coconut; however for me it is the kaffir limes that add that quintessentially Thai flavour & burst of taste than nothing else comes even close to matching. Shiny & bright green there is nothing quite like their scent & taste.  Just rub the leaves between your fingers & they release their aroma, intensely limey but so much more.  Much more fragrant & much more pungent. Like lime on crack really.  


These salmon cakes are quick to whip up & gave my new toy another work out. Pretty much everything gets thrown in to the food processor & then you roll them in to little patties & coat in panko bread crumbs for a golden crispy finish.

*Top tip for kaffir lime leaves...grab them when you see them & freeze them.  Frozen kaffir lime leaves will keep anywhere from several months to a year in the freezer & even better you can use them right from frozen, no thawing required.

Thai Salmon Cakes with Basil Chilli Mayo, from Nadia Lim’s Good Food Cook Book

Serves 6 as canapé or make them larger & you have a few speedy dinners worth.

Ingredients

Salmon Cakes

450g salmon fillet, skin off, pin boned & cut in to cubes
¼ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground chilli
¼ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp brown sugar
2-3 kaffir lime leaves, central stem removed & very finely chopped
1.5cm piece of ginger, peeled & chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbsp coconut cream
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 red chilli, chopped
3 spring onion, chopped
Pinch of salt
1-1.5 cups panko bread crumbs
¼ cup rice bran or vegetable oil

Basil Chilli Mayo
1/3 cup mayo
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
20 basil leaves, finely chopped

To Serve
Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced
1 red chilli, thinly sliced
1 lime, cut in to wedges



Directions

For the salmon cakes place all the ingredients except the panko crumbs & oil in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until just combined in to a thick paste. For canapés roll heaped teaspoons of the mixture in to balls & for lunches or dinners large tablespoons.  Place the panko crumbs on a plate & roll the balls gently in the crumbs to coat well.  Lightly flatten each ball in to a little patty & set aside until ready to fry.

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan on a medium heat & cook the salmon cakes in batches for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden, crisp & cooked through. Add more oil as needed.



For the mayo just mix all the ingredients together.

For canapés top each salmon cake with a slice of cucumber & a dollop of mayo.  For the larger cakes just serve with cucumber & mayo on the side.  Scatter over chilli  & serve with lime wedges.



*Even better these can by fried in advance & then just crisped up in the oven for a speedy supper.



For all things Russell Hobbs head over here.

And full disclosure my shiny new food processor was very generously given to me by Russell Hobbs.
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