28 October 2014

Thai Chicken with Crunchy Asian Slaw

This is a great speedy supper for the longer lighter, though not quite warmer days. I’ve still had the heat pump on  & been snuggled in my big fluffy, cosy dressing gown this past weekend so a little hit of heat from the chilli & sriracha was most definitely welcome.  In fact writing this now I’m all snuggled & cosy under the heat pump. We’ve just had Labour weekend here, which is the kind of unofficial official start of the summer season, traditionally the weekend to plant tomatoes in time for a summer crop. 

Testament to the chilliness…this is the prime directly under the heat pump spot…

However there seems to be some wires crossed somewhere & it still somewhat not very summer like. We’ve yet to have more than the odd day of balmy evenings, not that that will stop us getting the BBQ out!  There’s been BBQing in the wind & rain as we defy mother nature.  Handily the BBQ doubles as an outdoor heater so we’re all good there.

Light, a little sweet, a little aromatic & with a spicy kick this chicken packs a punch with sweet chilli sauce, sriracha, kaffir lime, lemongrass & fresh ginger.  I’ve been buying up ginger at every opportunity as new season ginger has just arrived here.  Quite different from the usual dried specimens on offer; it’s light & bright & a little shiny. I’m just going to keep buying it & freezing it. You can then just grate it whenever you need it to add a little zing to all sorts.

Thai Chicken with Crunchy Asian Slaw, adapted just a little from Healthy Food Guide

For the chicken
4 skinless chicken breasts
4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce*
2 tbsp sriracha
1-2 stalks lemongrass smashed & finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger
2 kaffir lime leaves, stem removed & very finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt

*I like Culley’s - good kiwi stuff!

For the slaw
¼ red cabbage, thinly sliced on mandoline or with very sharp knife
¼ white cabbage, thinly sliced on mandoline or with very sharp knife
2 carrots, grated or do it in a moment in food processor*
2 spring onions, chopped
1 red or green chilli sliced, seeded or not depending on how much heat you like
6 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp brown sugar
Salt & pepper

2 cups cooked white rice**
Coriander leaves & chilli

*Again my nifty Russell Hobbs lent a hand here, that little bowl on top is just the ticket to quickly get grated carrots in seconds.

**For perfect rice go here, seriously perfect every time.


Score each chicken breast. Mix all the marinade ingredients together & pour over the chicken.  Give it a bit off massage to make sure it is well coated & pop in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight if organised!

For the slaw place the cabbage, carrots, spring onion & chilli in a bowl & mix together.  Pour over the rice wine vinegar, lime juice, sugar & toss everything together.  Taste & season with salt & pepper.

You can grill chicken on the BBQ or on a griddle pan or even pop it in the oven.  To grill, cook for 10 minutes or so until cooked through & the juices run clear.  To oven bake pop in a 180C/350F oven for 15-20 minute, again until cooked through & the juices run clear.

Serve the chicken with the rice & slaw & scatter over some coriander & sliced chillies.

For all things Russell Hobbs head here.


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


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


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.


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


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


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.

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