Top Food Blogs

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Chicken Pesto Lasagne

Must be my " chicken week " as I made another favourite Chicken Pesto Lasagna. Probably better in summer as you can take advantage of the beautiful fresh basil that is seasonal. I think you will find there isn't a problem finding it now. I like to make my own pesto, but if you don't feel inclined you may use a store bought one. I am not sure where this recipe originally came from as I have been making it for so long, but as with all lasagnas there is many a variation on the original idea.
The tomato sauce or passata is a lovely addition as it cuts through the creamy sauce. A little green salad would be nice with it, or leave it as a dish by itself.
Lasagna sheets come as dried or fresh and cooked and chilled from the refrigerator section, or shelf at the supermarket. They do soak up a lot of liquid to cook, so make sure the sheets are well covered with the béchamel sauce.

1 packet of Lasagna sheets either fresh or dried
4 chicken breasts or 8 thigh fillets you could also use chicken strips.
250 grams mozzarella, grated
100 grams shredded parmesan

1 bunch fresh basil leaves or about 1 1/2 cups leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
3 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 cup Rylstone olive oil or similar
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese


1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup plain flour
2 cups milk
1 chicken stock  cube
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Tomato Passata see Veal Parmigana recipe

You will need a food processor for the pesto. Alternatively a hand blander might do the trick. All in together and drizzle the olive oil in as you blend it.

For the béchamel, melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux a thick paste. Warm the milk, if you add cold milk you will get lumps ! Crush the stock cube and add to the warm milk and stir.
Gradually add the milk to the roux and stir as the sauce thickens. Add the pepper and nutmeg.
Lastly add the pesto to the béchamel and set aside.

Cut the chicken into strips about 11/2 pieces and poach them, until just cooked.
Spread a thin layer of the béchamel on the bottom of a dish. Cover this with a layer of lasagna sheets,
pesto bechamel sauce and cover with a layer of the chicken and sprinkle with mozzarella.
Continue layering, finishing with a layer of lasagna sheets, bechamel and parmesan.
Cover with foil and  cook in a 175 oven for 30 minutes or until cooked. You may take the foil off for the last 10 minutes. Serve on a bed of the tomato passata with a sprinkling of parmesan.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Chicken and Green Olive Enchiladas

I have just returned from my sister Philippa's 50th Birthday, which we celebrated in style at the fabulous Il Centro at Eagle Street Pier in Brisbane.  A lovely group of girls, daughters, sisters, sisters in laws and mother with life long friends. The sun was shining, the weather was glorious and it was a wonderfully memorable day.  The food is always beautiful and  the service impeccable .  The event didn't end there we moved across to Mr & Mrs G's and continued on into the evening.
I also managed to get a copy of Marcia Georges cookbook Greek by Heritage Italian by Heart. The book shares with readers the recipes from her parents restaurants and all that have made  Marcia and Andy Georges Il Centro famous for 21 years. All royalties go to  Cancer and Bowel Research Trust and you can get the book on line.
Well after wining and dining in Brisbane for a few days, I came home to a hoard of hungry boys staying here, Rugby again and 21st birthdays. Always a challenge to fill them up, they requested Mexican ! They love it and it does seem to do the trick, for a few hours at least. I decided to do these Chicken and Green Olive Enchiladas. A meal I haven't cooked for years. A long way from the absolutely stunning Sand Crab Lasagna of Il Centro, but far more affordable when feeding a crowd of young men.

1-2 kilos of chicken thighs
6 cups chicken stock
3-4 tablespoon Rylstone Olive Oil
1 cup stuffed green olives sliced
2 cups finely chopped onions
1 large fresh tomato or 2 small ones chopped
3 tablespoons chopped garlic or about 3 cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons chilli powder ( you can add up to 5, or you may find it is better to start with only 1 and increase once the chicken is cooked
3 tablespoons plain flour
500 grams shredded pizza cheese 

Place the chicken thighs and the 6 cups of stock in a large saucepan and simmer until cooked. This should take about 20 minutes. Cool the chicken in the stock.
Shred the chicken coarsely and transfer to a large bowl.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a fry pan over a medium heat. Add 1 cup of the chopped onion, tomato, garlic cumin and cinnamon. Cook until onion and tomato are quite tender, stirring occasionally. This may take 10 minutes. Add the chilli powder and flour and stir for about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the 6 cups of stock a little at a time to incorporate the roux. Increase the heat and simmer until reduced to about 3 cups, stirring occasionally. All of these steps can be done the day before or the morning of.
Mix 1 cup of the sauce into the chicken.
Spread a thin layer of the sauce in the baking dish you are going to cook them in. You can line them all up in 1 or 2 big ceramic baking dishes or individual dishes, if you choose.
Arrange the tortillas on a work surface and place about 3 tablespoons of cheese in the centre of each, followed by1 tablespoon of the chopped onion and about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of chicken along the top .
Roll up as tightly as you can and place seam side down in your baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Preheat the oven to 175C.
When finished pour remaining sauce over them and sprinkle with more of the grated cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake a further 10 minutes or until sauce bubbles.
Remove the foil and let rest for another 5- 10 minutes as they are very hot, before serving
Serve with sour cream and watch them disappear.

Tortillas, Olives Shredded Chicken and Chopped Onion

A small amount of sauce in the bottom of your baking dish

Place cheese onion olives and chicken in the centre of the tortilla.

Finished enchiladas.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Footy Fever Food

Tonight is a big night for all those die hard sports fans. Yes, they will be going to, or watching the footy on a big screen somewhere.  Both codes of football, Rugby Union, Western Force vs British Lions in Perth and Rugby League the State of Origin in Sydney and both games are televised. So girls, not a big night for you I am afraid, unless you have succumbed to the fever . Many of you are fans as I am. Being married to an ex union player and having two sons who play one doesn't have much choice. Extra exciting for us because my god son Angus is playing for the Western Force. So girls don't fight it, have the boys and the girls over to watch the game and make a night of it.
If you can't beat them join them, you will have fun I promise! We have had so many fun nights with Rugby viewing and dinners.
Easy, inexpensive, and a big crowd pleaser, The Nachos and Tex Mex.
I always make it for a casual TV dinner and you can make as many trays as you need and as you go. Delicious and filling and loved by all ages. Give it a go and add all the trimmings. Make some beef and some chicken. All or most of the ingredients are store bought so not a lot of work !
I usually start this well ahead and make shredded beef. If you have a pressure cooker this is pretty quick.
If not the meat takes about 2 hours to get to the falling apart stage.
Buy a cut of meat like blade,chuck or gravy beef. Trim some of the fat and place into a saucepan and cover with water. Cook for about 30 minutes and when the liquid has reduced add some beef stock.
Continue cooking for another 30 minutes add more stock and a couple of good splashes of Worcestershire sauce. As the meat cooks the liquid reduces , you must watch it as it can easily catch and burn dry. When there is very little liquid left add some chilli sauce  and begin to shred the meat until the mixture is quite dry. The seasoning is  up to your taste. If you can't be bothered with this buy a chicken, shred it and mix with some bottled salsa if you are feeling lazy. Alternatively buy some mince and cook it with a packet taco seasoning.


One layer of Jalapeno Bean Dip El Paso
One layer of Avocado mashed with lemon and pepper.
One carton of Sour Cream mixed with one packet of Taco Seasoning mix.
One layer of diced tomatoes
One layer of chopped shallots.
Cover with grated cheese a store bought mix is good.
Surround with corn chips and serve.


Allowing for one large oven tray. One can of refried beans will probably do 2 trays as will the salsa and sour cream.

1 can Refried beans ( my favourite is Amy's Organic) 
Shredded beef or chicken
1 packet Corn chips
Salsa medium or hot ( to your taste )
Chilli Sauce  (Fountain make a good one but make sure it isn't a sweet chilli used for Thai food
Sour Cream

Spread the oven trays or dishes with a layer of the refried beans.
Next layer the corn chips on top spreading them out so they are mostly covered.
Layer the shredded beef or chicken over the corn chips.
Top with a little salsa, not too much or the whole dish will be too soggy.
Add chopped shallots.
Sprinkle with cheese to cover most of the tray.
Put into a 175C oven and cook until the cheese is melted but watch it, so it doesn't burn.
Remove from the oven and dollop with chilli sauce and sour cream.
Mash the avocado with some of the salsa and place in the centre of the tray.
Sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander.

Serve hot, with paper napkins and plates if you like and a corona with a slice of lime. If you want to be fancy make some margaritas. Yum. Enjoy the footy.