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.

Rustic steak and mushroom pie

Rustic steak and mushroom pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets shortcrust pastry
  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 800g beef rump steak (with most fat removed), diced
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 cup liquid vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup red wine (I used Jacob’s Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2009)
  • 2 tabs salt-reduced gravy powder (roast beef flavour, or similar)
  • 1 tab cornflour
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° C (fan-forced) or 200° C (convection).
  2. Grease and flour a pie dish. If using frozen pastry, put the sheets out to thaw.
  3. Place a sheet of shortcrust pasty in the dish. Fill in any gaps with the second pastry sheet.
  4. Trim the pastry in the dish, leaving a 2 cm overhang.
  5. Cover with baking paper, and use either pastry beads or rice to weigh down the pastry.
  6. Blind bake the pastry for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
  7. Dice the onion and fry in a pan until soft and clear.
  8. Add the meat and wine to the pan. Cook until just brown, then add the mushrooms.
  9. Allow meat to cook for a further 2 minutes at low heat, stirring occasionally.
  10. Without draining the pan, scoop out the meat, mushrooms and onion and set aside.
  11. In the same pan, add gravy powder to the remaining liquid and stir.
  12. Add vegetable stock gradually, stirring constantly, until desired consistency is achieved.
  13. Taste and check if the gravy needs salt. Add pepper (and salt if required).
  14. If gravy is not thickening scoop some liquid from the pan to a cup, add the cornflour and stir until smooth. Return the liquid to the pan and stir well.
  15. Once gravy is thick, return the meat mixture to the pan and stir until combined.
  16. Pour the meat and gravy mixture into the pie crust.
  17. Place a puff pastry sheet on top of the pie (you may need 2 sheets to cover the pie).
  18. Trim edges and push them down with the prongs of a fork.
  19. Cut leftover puff pastry into 3 leaf shapes, and place in centre of pie to decorate.
  20. Use a skewer to make a hole in the middle of the pie for air to escape.
  21. Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  22. Allow pie to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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.

Shrimp scampi

Shrimp scampi

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 500g large tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 4 tabs butter
  • 2 tabs olive oil

  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 cup sauvignon blanc (or any white wine)
  • 1 lemon

  • 6 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 250g angel hair pasta

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Chopped fresh chives, to garnish

Method:

  1. Bring water to the boil; have it ready for pasta.
  2. Heat olive oil and melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add onion and garlic and cook for two or three minutes, or until onion is translucent.
  4. Add shrimp, then stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Squeeze in lemon juice. Add wine, hot sauce and salt and pepper. Stir and reduce heat to low.
  5. Throw angel hair pasta into the boiling water. Cook until al dente (just done) and drain.
  6. Remove skillet from heat; add pasta and toss.
  7. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if desired.
  8. Top with the parmesan and chives and serve immediately.

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 150g (5 oz) butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • A few drops of lemon juice
  • 4-5 tabs water
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 rashers of bacon, chopped
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup matured cheese, grated

Method:

  1. Sift flour and salt. Rub in butter. Add egg yolk, lemon juice and enough water to make a stiff dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead lightly. Roll out to fit flan tin. Line tin with pastry.
  2. Lightly fry onion and bacon until soft and golden; allow to cool.
  3. Place eggs, evaporated milk and seasonings in a bowl and beat well.
  4. Place onion and garlic in flan. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top.
  5. Pour the egg mixture carefully over the rest of the ingredients in the flan tin.
  6. Cook for 35-40 minutes in oven at 180°C, or until set.
  7. Serve hot or cold with a fresh green salad.

Note:  This recipe can be adapted by adding capsicum, spinach or semi-dried tomatoes.

(photo credit: celticblade via photopin cc)

Spinach and bacon parcels

Spinach bacon parcels

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 leaves of fresh silverbeet
  • 3-4 eggs
  • 500g bacon, diced small
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 1 cup fresh (or 1/2 cup dry) breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 sheets of frozen puff pastry

Method:

  1. Trim silverbeet off the stalks and wash well; shred and cook until collapsed; drain well.
  2. Remove rind and surplus fat from the bacon and cut up small. Cook in a saucepan until nice and brown.
  3. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until onion is clear. Allow to cool.
  4. Grate the cheese and put out pastry sheets to defrost. Prepare fresh breadcrumbs if using.
  5. Put breadcrumbs, cheese, and silverbeet into the saucepan with the bacon and stir; then add the eggs and seasonings and stir well. Mixture should be moist but not runny.
  6. Divide mixture into four portions and place each portion onto one side of the pastry square. Spread the mixture to within 2cms of the edge of pastry on two sides to form a triangle. Do not wet edges as puff pastry will seal better if not wet. Fold over and seal.
  7. Bake on greased trays in a hot oven until cooked.

Note:  These pastries are nice hot or cold, and can be made smaller for an entrée or snack.

(photo credit: penguincakes via photopin cc)