Traditional Greek dolmades

My husband loves dolmades, but none are quite so satisfying as those made using his YiaYia’s recipe, which she was kind enough to share! These dolmades are so much tastier then any I’ve had from a restaurant or store, and healthy too.

Traditional Greek dolmades
(photo credit: Tania.Paz via photopin cc)

Ingredients:

  • 500g mince
  • 1 1/2 cups rice (uncooked)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3 spring onions
  • 3 dill leaves
  • 2 parsley leaves
  • Handful of mint
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grape vine leaves
  • Olive oil

Method:

  1. Rinse the rice in a sieve to remove excess starch, then place in a bowl with the cup of water to soak.
  2. Wash and finely chop the spring onions, removing the roots.
  3. In a saucepan, bring a tablespoon of oil to medium heat and cook the onions.
  4. Add the mince and stir. While this is cooking, wash and finely chop the dill, parsley and mint.
  5. Once the mince has browned, add the rice and water. Stir.
  6. Add all other ingredients and stir. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Test and make sure the rice is soft, then remove the saucepan from the heat and stir.
  8. Cover the saucepan and allow to sit for 30 minutes (off heat) to allow the liquid to absorb.
  9. The rice should now be very soft, and the mince a good consistency.
  10. Roll the dolmades, using 1-2 tablespoons of mince depending on the size of the vine leaf.
  11. Use a saucepan with a strainer in it for cooking the dolmades. Put a small amount of water in the pan and cover the strainer with lettuce leaves. Lay in circular layers. When you are half way sprinkle a small amount olive oil over them. Do this again once you’ve finished laying all dolmades.
    Traditional Greek dolmades
    (photo credit: The Shifted Librarian via photopin cc)
  12. Place a plate on top of the layers and pour 1 cup of water over plate.
  13. Once water boils put on low with lid on for 30 minutes.
  14. Allow to cool for 30 minutes, then serve.

Note:  For a flavour boost, soak the rice in 1 cup of beef stock instead of water.

Slow cooked chicken and pumpkin curry

The weather is getting quite fresh in Queensland – winter is drawing nearer and the air is cool and crisp. I really love this time of year because it’s the perfect time to cook hearty comfort food, such as this delicious chicken and pumpkin curry.

Slow cooked chicken and pumpkin curry

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1/4 Jap pumpkin (also known as Kent pumpkin)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tab ginger paste*
  • 1 tab lemongrass paste*
  • 3 tabs yellow curry powder
  • 1 tab garlic powder
  • 1 tab onion powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tabs fresh lime juice
  • 1 x 398ml can light coconut milk
  • 1 red chili (optional)**

Method:

  1. Remove the chili top, and finely chop the chili.
  2. Pour the chicken stock and coconut milk into your slow cooker.
  3. Add the salt, ginger, lemongrass, curry powder, onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric and chili.
  4. Stir until all ingredients are combined.
  5. Peel the pumpkin piece, cut it into medium cubes and add it to the slow cooker.
  6. Cut the chicken into large cubes and add it also.
  7. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.
  8. Prior to serving, add the lime juice and stir in thoroughly.
  9. Serve with rice.

* If you prefer to prepare your own ingredients, you can instead use one tsp freshly grated ginger and 1 tab chopped lemongrass. I find that I have less waste when using the pastes, and it also cuts down the prep time. I use the Gourmet Garden brand which they sell at most grocery stores.

** The chili adds heat to this dish. To reduce the heat you can remove the seeds before chopping it, or you can increase the heat by adding more chili.

Slow cooked Thai red curry beef

When I first started hosting dinner parties, I would spend the majority of the night in the kitchen instead of mingling with my friends. Now, whenever possible, I’ll use my slow cooker instead – prepping the meal in the morning and leaving it to simmer all day. Come sunset I can eat, drink and party with my friends… much more fun!

Sadly, the photos in this post were taken the following day, using what little was left over, so it’s mostly sauce with a few chunks of meat in it. I promise it looks much more appetising when first served!

Slow cooked Thai red curry beef

Serves 5-6

Ingredients:

  • 1kg beef skirt steak (or similar stewing meat)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 1 tab brown sugar
  • 3 tabs red curry paste
  • 2 tabs fish sauce
  • 2 tabs fresh lime juice
  • 1 x 398ml can light coconut milk
  • 1 tab sriracha sauce, or to taste
  • 2 tabs all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves

Method:

  1. Dice the beef into large cubes.
  2. Bring a large non-stick skillet to medium-high heat. Cook the beef, stirring occasionally, until just browned (roughly 8-10 minutes).
    Skirt steak browning in skillet
  3. Drain the beef and place it in a 4L electric slow cooker; sprinkle with salt.
  4. Return pan to medium-high heat, then add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes or until tender; spoon onion mixture over beef.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine beef stock, sugar, curry paste, fish sauce, lime juice, coconut milk and sriracha. Pour mixture over the beef and onion; cover and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours.
  6. Spoon 2 tabs of the liquid from the slow cooker into a cup, and whisk in flour until smooth; return mixture to slower cooker and stir in.
  7. Add baby spinach and stir; cover and cook on LOW for 15 minutes or until sauce thickens.

Chocolate chilli cheesecake (no-bake)

Chocolate chilli cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cups chocolate biscuit crumbs
  • 80g butter, melted
  • 500g Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
  • 400g can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • 2 tabs instant coffee
  • 1 tsp powdered gelatine
  • 100g milk chocolate melts, melted and cooled slightly
  • 100g milk Lindt Excellence dark chocolate with chilli, melted and cooled slightly
  • ½ cup thickened cream, softly whipped
  • Extra chocolate or cocoa powder, to decorate

Method:

  1. Grease a 20cm springform pan.
  2. Combine biscuit crumbs and butter; then press mixture into the base of the pan and refrigerate.
  3. Beat the cream cheese, condensed milk and spices with an electric mixer until just combined.
  4. Dissolve the coffee in the water, followed by the gelatine powder. Stir until completely dissolved.
  5. Add the melted chocolate and gelatine/coffee to the cream cheese mixture; beat until smooth.
  6. Gently fold through the cream.
  7. Pour the mixture over the prepared base. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until set.
  8. Grate chocolate over the top to decorate, or dust with cocoa powder. Slice and serve.

Jalapeño chicken soup with lime

Jalapeño chicken soup with lime

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 500g chicken breasts
  • 2 jalapeños (or 3 if you like it hot!)
  • ½ small red onion
  • 2 x 400g cans white beans (I use cannellini beans)
  • 1 cup of salsa verde (see the recipe)
  • 3 limes
  • Sour cream for serving
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, to garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. Bring the chicken broth and water to a boil in a large pot. Add the raw chicken breasts to the hot liquid; cover and cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat but leave the lid on so that the chicken continues cooking. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and check to make sure there is no pink in the centre of the chicken breasts. Remove the cooked chicken from the hot liquid and set aside to cool.
  2. To remove any unwanted chicken fat in the broth, pour the liquid through a fine sieve, then return the liquid to the pot.
  3. If you are making the salsa verde, do this now (see the recipe).
  4. Mince the jalapeño and onion in a food processor. Once finely chopped, add it to the pot of chicken broth, along with the white beans and salsa verde. Cover and leave it to simmer over medium heat.
  5. Use two forks to shred the cooled chicken breasts, then return them to the pot.
  6. Stir the soup, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  7. Just before serving, squeeze the juice of one lime into the pot.
  8. Cut the remaining limes into wedges for serving.
  9. Serve the soup with a dollop of sour cream and fresh cilantro, with a side of lime wedges.