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Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer

Every Friday, the fine folk over at The Daily Post issue a weekly photo challenge. This weeks challenge is Summer.

Summer. Where you live, summer might be arriving soon, or (if you’re in the southern hemisphere), a fleeting memory. But what signifies summer to you? 

Summer to me is about two things. Food and the outdoors. Lets explore food here and the outdoors on my enviro blog!

Summer fruits are divine. Who can pass up blueberries, raspberries and mangoes? In this household, we adore summer fruits with pancakes and tend to eat them quite frequently. Hmmm, pancakes!

Salads are a gorgeous summer meal. Light but healthy, they typify summer for me. Here, a quiche accompanies a light salad (left) and a grilled chicken salad with mango (right) is sure to tempt.

As summer draws to a close and the mango season has run its course, figs come into the spotlight. I’ve loved featuring figs in my cooking this year with a delicious fig poached in galliano dessert (left) and this gorgeous fig and goats cheese tart (right).

Ahhhh summer…. how I miss you and lament your absence as I steel myself for winters bite!

For my regular readers, the photo on my enviro blog The Environmental Rhi-Source are different from the post here!

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2012 in Weekly Photo Challenge

 

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Chicken and Mango Salad

I made this salad once before, quite some time ago. I posted briefly about the magnificence of this dish at the time, but after some reflection, I realised that my post just did not give the dish anywhere near enough justice. The recipe was originally posted by The Gourmet Goddess and this is my adapatation of her wonderful creation.

[  Serves: 3  |  Time: 30m + overnight marinade time  |  Cost: $8 – 10  ]

Ingredients

Marinade

2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
1 clove Garlic
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
Splash Lime Juice

300 g free ranged chicken breast

Salad

3 serves of rocket (roughly handful per person)
2 tomatoes, cut into sixths
1 Lebanese cucumber
½ red capsicum
½ ripe mango
handful mixed herb leaves (we used parsley and basil)

Dressing

1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons Fish Sauce
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Generous amount of fresh pepper

Method

  1. In a container, mix all the marinade ingredients. Slice the chicken in long thin strips and place into the marinade. Use the containers lid to seal it. Shake to mix ingredients every few hours. Allow several hours to infuse – over night is best.
  2. Carefully place the chicken on a hot grill pan or BBQ, turning after a few minutes. Remove from heat when cooked.
  3. Assemble the salad as a tossed salad, and place aside in a bowl. Rip the herb leaves by hand, and mix through the salad.  Slice the mango and remove the flesh from the skin. Try to maintain long thin wedges of mango to mix through your dish upon serving.
  4. Mix the dressing ingredients in a small jug, whisking to ensure it is mixed well.
  5. Spread the salad generously on a serving platter. Place layers of chicken and mango over the salad as desired, and finish with a drizzle of dressing.

Observations

  • So easy, so delicious! There are so many variations you can do with this dish, and I am sure they would all be a crowd pleaser!
  • Ethical Note: We have used free ranged chickens yet again. If everyone changed just one chicken dish to free ranged every week, more animals would be spared a cruel, painful existence. Besides the ethical effect of choosing free ranged meats, it tastes so much better!
  • Diabetes Note: Sooooo yummy and so good! Banana’s and sugary things like syrups usually set my BGLs sky high, but the amounts in this dish are tiny. Just the same, go sparingly, but enjoy the flavour 🙂
 
 

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Happy Birthday!

Today is my birthday, and I will be 41. To celebrate, the day was spent in happy occupation with my family and friends. I awoke early to go for a walk with Joe. Its the first time we have had opportunity to go for our daily walk in weeks; weather, morning sickness and then baby loss all conspired to ensure we turned into couch potatoes over the summer. Nevertheless, today was a wonderfully sunny day, and the walk was enjoyable. When we returned home, I had a very yummy breaky treat waiting for me. Brittany had made us a short stack of pancakes with mango, ice cream and maple syrup! I am fairly sure, though, that my diabetes educator and dietician would not approve, but oh my!! They were good!

Joe has been a busy beaver, squirrelling money away and has totally spoiled and surprised me with a new computer chair. Oh wow – such luxury!! Leather, gas lift, padded, roller luxury! So much comfort. I feel very lucky. Brittany also was exceptionally generous with her birthday love, and bought me the most gorgeous dinner set ever. The eight place dinner set consists of an entrée plate, dinner plate, and deep bowls. It also has two serving platters that are just so sexy. I am SO very happy with this dinner set and cant wait to bring you lots of photos of divine food on it! 🙂

I was lucky to catch up with a friend for lunch at a the Henry Rous Tavern here in town. I had a chicken burger with mint garlic yoghurt sauce that was sublime. Really an awesome selection of flavours that although simple, really worked wonderfully. I may have had an apple cider or two with lunch which just went down so well on such a hot day. Later, the heat got the best of us and we ventured to a local beach for some fun in the surf. I thorougly enjoyed spending quality time with Joe as the huge waves pushed and pulled us every which direction.

I share my birthday with quite a few friends, and as is our custom the last several years, we go out for dinner at a mutually convenient time to celebrate Matt’s & my birthday (6th) and Joe’s birthday (13th). This year that day falls on a Wednesday, and we are going to a local Mexican restaurant. The choice of nights left me kinda free to enjoy something quick, easy and yummy at home tonight. Our shopping day isn’t for another day or two, and our fresh vegetable delivery isn’t until tomorrow so the cupboard is a little bare. Traditionally, we would have a vegetarian dish on Monday’s, but as there was some things defrosted in the fridge that didn’t get cooked last night, we decided this week meat free will be Tuesday. That left us to enjoy an old fashion fry up (another common dish that we rarely have due to my diabetes). Tonight’s dinner featured pork sausages with apple, sage and rosemary, onions, tomatoes and eggs. Such simple things that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.

Dessert was a little bit of cheating, as it was something I made last week for the murder mystery party (our actual birthday party) but have decided not to serve now, as they are a little fiddly to eat. Even given the difficulties in eating them and the messy fingers, they are delicious! The recipe for these frozen choc covered bananas is below.

Ingredients

½ cup cooking chocolate

½ cup smooth peanut butter

3 bananas cut into bite size pieces

desecrated coconut

toothpicks

Methods

  1. Create a double boiler by placing a metal bowl over a pot filled with boiling water. Keep the water on a slow simmer and melt the chocolate and peanut butter in the bowl until melted and running.
  2. Using a skewer to secure the banana, drizzle the chocolate mixture evenly over the banana pieces. Place it upright on a baking paper covered tray. Once all bananas are coated, you can sprinkle with coconut, insert a toothpick for easy handling later and freeze.

Observations

  • Be very very careful not to over heat the chocolate mixture, as the burnt taste will ruin your dish.
  • Try not to dip your banana directly into the chocolate, as it will make the banana difficult to handle.
  • As an experiment, I mixed the coconut into the chocolate for one batch. The one on the left is of that batch, while the one on the right is of the standard directions above. I think I actually like the coconut in the chocolate better!
  • It makes it a LOT easier if you use slightly under ripe bananas. Once they get ripe, they are softer, and much more difficult to work with.
 
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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Roast Chicken with Mango

Christmas before last, Joe’s grandmother gave us a Portable Bench Top Convection Oven (PCO). As we are quite concious about our power consumption, we choose to use the PCO over the  (non convection / non fan forced) stove oven more often than not. It has been one of the best presents we have gotten, and is in line with our “footprint reduction” targets. I’ve cooked all manner of things in there, but despite the awesome roast picture on the box, have never been able to make a good roast dinner in it. The vegetables often dry out, don’t cook evenly or are under cooked and the meat is usually falling off the bone, making it difficult to serve. I’ve searched the interwebs on several occasions for a good PCO recipe for the perfect roast without success. Through several attempts of trial and error, I finally nailed it! Here is my take on a perfect roast.

Ingredients

1 free ranged chicken (We used a size 18 today, but generally use a much smaller size, perhaps a 12)

2 large potatoes

½ butternut pumpkin

½ large sweet potato

1 mango

salt, pepper, parsley

Method

  1. Place a good 200mls of water in the bottom of the PCO. This will create a bit of moisture during the cooking phase to stop the chicken from drying out. Put a wired rack into the bottom, ensuring the water doesn’t come up as high as the rack.
  2. Dress the chicken by removing any excess fat and skin around the neck. Score the mango and use the diced flesh from one mango cheek to stuff between the flesh of the breast and the skin. Place the dressed chicken onto the centre of the rack. Retain the rest of the mango and the seed until later.
  3. Cut the vegetables into quite large chunks. Place them haphazardly around the chicken as seen in the photo above. Make sure there is still sufficient room to allow for air flow.
  4. Put the lid onto the PCO and set the temperature to 200°C and the timer for 30 minutes. When the timer sounds, rotate the vegetables to ensure that the vegetables at the bottom have a chance to brown by being closer to the top. Use the retained mango seed (or cheek flesh if you haven’t used it in a stuffing – see note below) to squeeze fresh pulp and juice over the outside of the chicken and drizzle it over the vegetables. Ensure there is enough water still in the bottom of the POC and add another cup if needed. Cook for a further 30 minutes.
  5. Check that the chicken is ready by pushing a long pronged fork into the breast. If the juices run clear, then it is ready. Remove the chicken from the PCO and allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting to serve. Serve with the roasted vegetables for a delicious meal!

Observations

  • I ran out of breadcrumbs today, and couldn’t stuff the chicken as I normally would do. Stuffing is easy to make, and if you have the ingredients on hand, it would be an awesome addition to this meal. To make a stuffing for this dish, I would combine 1-2 cups of bread crumbs, the flesh from the remaining mango cheek, salt, pepper, parsley, sage, rosemary and a little garlic to make a firm stuffing mixture. I would also be tempted to add some dried cranberries or some nut – possibly hazelnut. Be careful with the herbs; you still want the sweetness of the mango to be evident.
  • The size of the vegetables seems to be important in the cooking process. Don’t be tempted to cut the vegetables smaller, as this will cause them to dry out fast. Use the photo above as a guide, keeping in mind that this is a size 18 bird!
  • It is vital that the water in the bottom of the PCO does not dry out. Once it dries out, or there is insufficient steam, the meat and vegetables will dry out.
  • I opted not to make a gravy today, so that we could enjoy the flavours of this dish. I did consider doing a jus for it with the liquids in the bottom of the PCO, and in hindsight, this would have been a good addition. If you find that your chicken is a little dry, this would be a good option.
  • If you use a smaller bird, you may need to finish the vegetables while the bird rests. As a rule of thumb, check the bird every 15  minutes to ensure it isn’t drying out / over cooking.
  • Id like to apologise for not having a “completed” picture for this dish… we kinda got distracted and devoured it before any of us realised I had missed the photo.
  • Diabetics Note: I added some potato and sweet potato for carb content to this meal, but it wasnt enough to lift it to 3 exchanges. The addition of stuffing would possibly be enough to meet the carb requirement for this dish.
  • In our household, we only ever consumer free ranged chicken. I wont use this post to educate about the evils of mass produced caged birds, however, I highly recommend doing your homework on this topic and remember; you are what you eat. Free ranged chicken is definitely a more expensive option when compared to the mass produced caged birds that are mostly available, however, we have combated this expense by eating chicken a little less often. This choice was not only a healthier option for us, but it was also much better on our ethical conciousness. The ethical debate aside, free ranged chicken tastes SO MUCH better than any other available poultry option!
 

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