Words Crush Wednesday – John Steinbeck Edition

I’m a perfectionist. It irritates the crap out of me. My pantry cupboard bears witness to this: all of the canned food is in order, labels facing forward. The rice dare not be put on the beans shelf. The baking ingredients have their own shelf, don’t mix them with the grains. I mean obviously. My husband thinks it’s hilarious (can’t say I blame him) and he frequently turns the labels around, just to irritate me. It works. The truth is that perfection is a myth, it’s unrealistic and the pursuit of it takes away the pleasure of the moment. I’m learning to let it go, because if you’re constantly chasing something that doesn’t exist, you’ll never appreciate what you have. Having said that, my pantry cupboard is still immaculate.

John Steinbeck 1

Please check out the lovely, talented Rebirth of Lisa for more quotes.

Monthly Mystery Munchies #16: Herby, Fully Loaded Chicken Wraps with Zesty Sour Cream

Chicken wraps 1

This month I was a tad nervous to suggest this theme to the lovely Ann from Grubbs n Critters. Was it too easy? Not challenging enough? We’ve definitely been pushing our boundaries, happily so, but I felt like doing something that wasn’t time consuming, that I could whip up and serve immediately. My suggestion? Wraps with meat and a dressing/sauce. That was it. Ann gladly accepted, having bought some wraps a few days prior. It was meant to be. I love it when a cooking plan comes together!

Chicken wraps 2

Yes, I said it, “herby, fully loaded wraps”. I kind of threw everything in my fridge into this meal: chicken, butternut, mushrooms, red onion, garlic and then some more garlic, mustard, coriander, Italian parsley, basil, honey, lemon, sour cream… errthang went in. I’m a sucker for fresh herbs. I try to use them as often as possible. There’s just something really cool about cooking stuff and throwing it in a wrap. Love it. I have basil, parsley, limes and lemons in my garden. Picking it makes me feel like I’m on a farm, all organic and fresh. Then I hear hooters and dogs barking, and I remember that nope, I actually live in a city. Still, it’s wonderful to use what I have in the garden. I’d really like a bacon tree. That would be ideal. Strangely, I can’t find any.

Chicken wraps 3

I’m psyched to see what Ann’s come up with this month. No doubt, it’ll be amaze. She has some great stories on her blog, fabulous recipes, and hilarious jokes. Please hop over to her blog and check it all out.

A little less conversation, a little more food action… here we go… all wrapped up:

Chicken Wraps with Zesty Sour Cream

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies for the chicken:

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon (about 4 tablespoons)
1 handful flatleaf Italian parsley
1 handful basil leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Supplies for the veggies:

500g butternut, cubed
250g mushrooms, sliced
200g baby spinach leaves
1 red onion, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil

Supplies for the sour cream dressing:

250ml sour cream
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 handful coriander
1 tablespooon parmesan per wrap, for sprinkling
8 wraps

Making it happen:

Blitz all the chicken ingredients and pour over the chicken breasts. Bake at 180C for 30 – 35 minutes until cooked.

Meanwhile, steam or boil the butternut until cooked, about 6-10 minutes. Fry the mushrooms and onion on medium heat until cooked, about 5 minutes. Mix in the cooked butternut, and the baby spinach leaves and stir well until all the veg are full mixed.

Blitz the first seven our cream ingredients until fully mixed. Cook the wrap per instructions, and then spoon some veggie mixture into the centre of the wrap. Layer the chicken on top, scatter some reserved parsley and coriander, drizzle with sour cream and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of parmesan over everything. Fold the wrap and serve.  

 

 

Wordscrush Wednesday – Rumi Edition

This year has been about  evolving, growing, exploring, trying new things. It’s been fun. It’s been exciting. It’s been challenging. I used to adore hiking, but because of my worsening rheumatoid arthritis, my feet (and everything else) have been in too poor a state to tackle mountain trails. But, with a recent upswing (for which I largely credit yoga and healthy eating), last Sunday I went on my first hike in years. It was fucking incredible. I loved it. I ached for days, in fact, today is the first day I don’t want to cry every time I stand up!

We arrived at this waterfall (see below), and the beauty, the peace, overwhelmed me. It made me conscious that I’ve left my comfort zone this year, and as scary as it can sometimes be, it’s invigorating to push myself and see what I’m capable of.

Waterfall Rumi 1

For more awesome Wordscrush Wednesday quotes, please venture over to Rebirth of Lisa.

Monthly Mystery Munchies #15: Mini Tartlets with Rosemary-Infused Grapefruit and Lime Curd, and Homemade Custard

Grapfruit tarts 1

Figs, lime, and rosemary. These were the three ingredients Ann chose for this month’s Monthly Mystery Munchies. However, she was kind enough to give me some leeway when I couldn’t source fresh figs. I settled on grapefruit, because I’ve never cooked with it. The second instruction: it can’t be in a main course. This thrilled me, because I’ve been jonesing to get my bake on for a while, but I needed a good excuse. So, now that I have afore-mentioned excuse, why not make pastry? Cool, good idea. Why stop there, you ask? Indeed, I agree. Homemade custard. It’s too easy. I mean, I couldn’t believe how easy it was, and how absolutely delicious it tasted. See, I’m obsessed with custard. I blame my gran. She used to give me one (two) bowls every Sunday after lunch. “Don’t tell your mother”. Bless her heart.

Custard 2

This month, we have mini tartlets with grapefruit and lime curd, infused with rosemary, and drizzled with custard. I’m so ready for this! Ann and I are clearly on the same wavelength, as she made figs, rosemary and lime-drizzled scones with lime curd. How. Freaking. Delicious! Also, she very recently emigrated to Holland, and she’s still waiting for all her kitchen equipment to arrive. She’s only been there for a few weeks, during which time she, her husband (Silver Bullet) and their kids moved from their temp base at her in-laws into their own house. She’s got both kids into school. She’s furnishing the house from scratch, and she’s looking for a new job. No biggie, right? Pffft! I am incredibly impressed that, in the midst of all this chaos, she managed to do this blog post. Major kudos! Ann is tremendously dedicated to our monthly cooking challenge, come rain or shine, Thailand or Holland, work stress or… work stress. Please head over to Grubbs n Critters and check out her blog.

I’ve broken this recipe into two parts: grapefruit curd and pastry, and custard, for your convenience, in case you only want to print out one of them. Here ya go…

Rosemary-Infused Grapefruit and Lime Tartlets

For the curd:

1 cup strained fresh grapefruit juice (about 2 grapefruits)
Zest of ½ grapefruit
Juice of ½ lime (3 tablespoons)
Zest of ½ lime
1 cup white sugar
8 strained egg yolks
½ cup butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 sprigs rosemary, each about 3 inches long

Pour the strained grapefruit juice, lime juice, grapefruit and lime zest, strained egg yolks, and sugar into a pot.
On medium heat, simmer until thickened, about 5-7 minutes, stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon every minute.
Once thickened, remove from the heat and strain to remove any cooked egg pieces.
Mix in the butter, stirring until melted. Add the rosemary, and allow to set, about 1 hour.

For the pastry:

2 cups flour
2 ½ sticks salted COLD butter
½ cup ice cold water

Put two ice cubes into a cup and add tap water, enough to make 1/2 cup including ice cubes. Wait until the ice cubes have just melted.

Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces.
Sift the flour into your food processor fitted with blades. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and pulse until mixed, about 10 pulses. Add the rest of the butter, pulsing until the dough forms a rough ball. Do not over-pulse it, make sure that once it’s formed a rough ball, you stop pulsing.

On a floured work surface, roll the dough out and form into a rectangle. Place one piece of plastic wrap until the dough, and one piece over it, and, using a rolling pin, roll until flattened into a large rectangular piece.

Remove the plastic wrap and turn the dough over onto your floured counter. Fold the dough down by a third, then, at the bottom piece, up by a third. Then roll the dough over from the left-hand side, until it’s all rolled up. Form into a square, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

To make the tartlets:

Remove the pastry from the fridge and, on a floured surface, roll it out with a rolling pin, quite thinly. Measure how much pastry you will need to fill each tartlet cup, covering the bottom and sides. Cut out enough pastry then press the pastry into the bottom, then work it up the sides.

Remove the rosemary from the curd and set aside. Fill two-thirds of the tartlet cup with grapefruit curd, then top with one piece of grapefruit, and wedge in some rosemary.

Bake at 180°C for 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Heat your custard, either in a pot or microwave, and pour over the tartlet.

Homemade Vanilla Custard

250ml cream
250ml milk
1 ½ tablespoons cornflour
3 tablespoons castor sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, mix the egg yolks, castor sugar and cornflour until well mixed. Set aside.

Pour the cream and milk into a pot and simmer gently over low heat until it’s hot but not boiling.
Very slowly, pour the hot milk and cream into the cornflour bowl, stirring with a whisk as you pour. Make sure you do this slooooowly.
Once it’s all mixed, add the vanilla to the custard mixture, and wipe the bottom of the pot.
Return the custard mixture to the pot and simmer gently, stirring with a wooden spoon until thickened.

(You can reheat the custard in a pot over low heat, or in the microwave.)

 

Words Crush Wednesday – Truman Capote Edition

Mindless can be good. Losing yourself in something happy, that yields positive results, that encourages creativity, that allows you to relax and disconnect from stress, is tremendously important to mental and emotional well-being. So, here’s to getting mindless! (I mean, having a glass of wine while you’re cooking is good too…)

Truman Capote 1

Lose yourself in more quotes by visiting Rebirth of Lisa here.

Crazy About… Kale and Spinach Soup

Kale soup 3

All hail kale! This recipe is the perfect fit for healthy and easy, and it happens to be winter, which is an excellent excuse for soup! Superfoods? Check. Budget-friendly? Check. Ridiculously low in calories? Check check. I’m so down for this! Instead of only using kale, I added spinach, onions, leeks, celery, broccoli, tomatoes, chickpeas, butter beans and chilli flakes. Sound good? It is! You can serve this yummy soup as a starter or main, for lunch or dinner. Here ya go…

Kale and Spinach Soup

  • Time: 25 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Supplies:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 stems celery, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 leeks, sliced
200g baby kale, chopped
300g spinach, chopped
300g broccoli
1 x 410g whole peeled tomatoes
1 x 410g butter beans
1 x 410g chickpeas
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups vegetable stock
Greek yoghurt (optional)

Making It Happen:

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and fry the onion, celery, garlic and leeks for 5 minutes until soft.

Stir in the spinach and kale, season with salt and simmer for 2 minutes.

Pour in the vegetable stock, tomatoes, broccoli and chilli flakes. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the spinach and kale have thoroughly wilted and the broccoli is soft.

Blitz in a food processor or using a handheld blender. Return to the pot and add the beans and chickpeas, simmering for 1 minute.

Add lemon juice and stir well. Serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt.