Tortilla Soup

Cinco de Mayo is fast approaching so we all need to up our game and move beyond tacos and burritos as a celebration of Central and South American cuisine. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Mexico to commemorate the victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla. It is not the day that marks their independence as a nation, that’s September 16th. Rather, it celebrates the Mexican Resistance’s victory over a superior French force backed by Napoleon. It’s a symbolic victory and not even a National Holiday in Mexico.

The day has since been hijacked by the alcohol industry as a ploy to celebrate Hispanic culture outside of Mexico. Mexican culture is so much more that cerveza (beer) and margaritas. There is a diverse cuisine that has regional flavours and techniques suited to their climatic conditions. A vibrant street food scene has been taken by their chefs to the world of haute cuisine with three restaurants in the 2017 World’s 50 Best Restaurants serving Mexican food.

Pati Jinich, Mexico’s version of Jamie Oliver, says that everyone needs to have their own version of Tortilla Soup. I agree. I discovered this dish more than 20 years ago when I was living in South Florida, USA. It’s a great way to make use of leftover tortillas and tomatoes that have ripened from salad to cooking stage. It’s a light soup that has the ability to be refreshing on a summer evening and warming for a winter’s lunch.

Tortilla soup email

Tortilla soup is refreshing on a summers day or a hearty winter warmer.

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April 2018 Recipe Redux: Vietnamese Chargrilled Pork Neck Skewers

It’s that time of the month my friends for the Recipe Redux Challenge. Drum roll please….it’s spring in the Northern Hemisphere and Picnic Day is April 23, so get ready to eat al fresco. Show us the healthy recipes you like to bring on a picnic – or serve outside.

Every Sunday we eat al fresco. Since our kids sailed as their summer sport, whose season spans 8 months, we had a lot of meals on the water. Sailing goes all day so we would pack up for an adventure every Sunday morning. And if there were regettas then the adventures spanned over a weekend or a whole week. I became adept at creating food that could be eaten with wet hands while being highly nutritious to keep us all going during a long day on and in the water.bah min style

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February 2018 Recipe Redux : Nan-E Babari

It’s that time of the month my friends for the Recipe Redux Challenge. Drum roll please….Bake Some Bread. Turn on your ovens! Be it tried and true traditional yeast bread, or one of the new trendy protein-added breads, show us what you’re baking.

Bwahahaha.

Seriously, it’s summer in Australia. It’s like 38 degrees (nearly 100 F) and my house does not have air conditioning. The last thing I’m going to do is turn on the oven. That’s one excuse. The other is that I happen to live less than 100 m from two of the best bakeries in Sydney. I am spoilt for choice with Maggio’s Italian Bakery and Victoire Boulangerie serving up my daily bread. I don’t have to bake bread. Other than cinnamon scrolls, you can’t get a decent cinnamon scroll in this country so I make my own but that’s a story for another time.

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Just some of the delicacies at my local bakery. Lucky me I have two to choose from!

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Mango Scallops

One of Stuart’s favourite dishes is scallops. I, on the other hand, are not so much of a fan. It works for us because that means there’s more for him and scallops are best served seared, so it doesn’t take long to pull together a spectacular meal. You could say it’s a win-win.

Mango Scallops on the grill

Seared scallops with mango are a great addition to a seafood barbecue.

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Chocolatey Macadamia Nut Brownies: A Valentine’s Day Treat

Stuart and I were wandering through the Northside Produce Market last weekend making our mandatory stop at Black Star Pastry. Christopher Thé’s well known Sydney patisserie serves up not only the most photographed cake in the world, it’s also a mighty fine bakery. Black Star is so popular and have such loyal customers, I’m surprised that they still do the local markets. Every month I hold my breath hoping that they will still have their stall in the back corner of the market. Happy that they still come over this side of the Sydney Harbour bridge, but surprised none the less.

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The most photographed cake in the world is not Migraine-friendly but my macadamia nut brownies are.

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South American Roast Chicken

Summer and barbecued chicken go hand in hand. The open flame was made for bird on the bone, to keep it moist and succulent. Flattening, or butterflying, the chicken aids in keeping it moist by greatly reducing the cooking time. Another trick that I learned was place a hefty salt rub under the skin. This in effect brines the meat, keeping the juices locked in by the laws of chemistry.

Deconstructed Southwestern Chicken

Deconstructed South American Roast Chicken and sides.  Pop it on the barbecue and serve with warm tortillas and your best guacamole for a light summer’s meal.

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Tagliata: Italian Steak and Cannellini Beans

When I think about Italian food my mind moves first to pasta and then pizza. I rarely ever think of steak. In Italy though tagliata is a staple; a lightly seasoned steak, grilled to perfection and served thinly sliced. This flavoursome dish centers around the quality meat. I like a nice thick scotch fillet, but it works well with the more economical flank or skirt steak. Purists use only a bit of salt, but I like a bit of pepper and rub a clove of smashed garlic over the surface. Migraine-sufferers should avoid the traditional brushing with rosemary during grilling if they want the dish to be trigger-free. If you feel the steak needs some heavy herb flavour, a bunch of marjoram will add a nice lift. Grill rare to medium, thinly slice and it’s ready for some side dishes.

Italian steak

Tagliata over Italian style refried beans is my go to 30 minute pantry to plate summer meal.

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January 2018 Recipe ReDux: Every Migraineur Needs a Meat Grinder

Welcome to a new feature; the Recipe ReDux. I am so proud to have been accepted into this community of dietitian and health professionals who write about healthy food choices. The great thing about this community is that all the writers are vetted to ensure their work is underpinned with peer-reviewed scientific literature, making it a one stop shop for your health minded recipes.

Once a month we are served up a challenge to redux, latin for brought back, a recipe into a more healthy version. For me this is a natural fit, as just about every recipe I come across I have to redux to make it Migraine-friendly. Sometimes I feel like my entire cooking career is adjusting and redoing favourites so that they don’t make Stuart sick. At least now I have a bit of an outlet for them 😁.

This month’s challenge is to share a healthy recipe highlighting a favorite kitchen tool, gadget, or gizmo that you received over the holidays, or an old tried and true appliance. My kitchen is very small so I don’t have a lot of space for appliances. I have to be very judicious in my kitchen gadgets. Needless to say I couldn’t justify anything new this year. So I’m going with one of the must have appliances for every household with a migraine sufferer (that’s one in four in case you were wondering)….a meat grinder. Keep on reading!


Lamingtons

Ah, the humble lamington; stale sponge soaked in chocolate sauce then coated in coconut. Made by CWAs and Scouts for fundraisers across Australia and loved by all. This iconic treat is always served in this house on Australia Day. Since we’re a week out it’s time to make the sponge 😉

lamington tandem dipping

My mom, Pat, and I making Lamingtons. It isn’t often that I get to cook with her any more as this year marks 20 since I moved to Australia. I taught her how to make these so watch out Riverlanding.

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Roasted Tomato Sauce

One of my favourite things to do with tomatoes that are a bit overripe is to turn them into a roasted tomato sauce. It’s the original tray bake as far as I’m concerned. You simply throw some tomatos, onion, garlic and red capiscum on a baking tray and whack it in the oven. The roasting caramelized all the natural sugars and you end up with a smoky sweet sauce.

This roasted tomato sauce is incredibly versatile. Use it in any recipe that calls for some passata. It also makes a great base for tortilla soup, just add equal parts of homemade chicken stock and garnish with strips of fried tortillas.

Better yet, it freezes really well, so make up batches when tomatoes are at their best. Enjoy my friends.Roasted Tomato Sauce recipe image

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