Spicy Chicken Tagine & Ferrero Centerpiece!


I know I've just literally come back from a holiday just days ago, and I should be tired and couldn't be bothered to cook especially after feasting on too much good food for 10 days while we were away - but surprisingly my new tagine has been motivating me. As for my other chores, yes I have been slacking and really cannot be bothered cleaning and washing. But that's another story.

Tonight I decided to cook a Spicy Chicken Tagine. The chicken pieces were marinated with garlic, chilli, lemon, paprika, turmeric, cumin and coriander and salt and pepper to taste and left to marinade in the fridge overnight. The next day, I heated some olive oil in the tagine and cooked the chicken with the lid closed (occasionally turn the chicken repeatedly) and in the last 15 minutes add some chicken stock so the base of the tagine does not burn.


Unfortunately my tagine burnt anyway, lol. Thankfully it's a Scanpan so it washes off very easily. Go Scanpan!

So I served the Spicy Chicken with another plate of Lemon Chicken and Cous Cous and Steamed Vegetables. Successfully fed 5 people tonight, me and hubby, and bro in law, and another bro in law and sis in law. All came over for dinner and movie afterwards.


We also sat and admired the Ferrero Rocher by BKH Christmas Centerpiece which I have won through Penny's blog. I've never really won anything before, so I was very happy just to win it. Little did I know, someone on Twitter looked it up and found out that it was worth $375 and it was a limited edition thing and I think I now own 1 out of only 50 of these things? Correct me if I'm getting way ahead of myself here? Haha. Anyway - when I received the box the base of this centerpiece actually broke and I had to superglue it together in order to make this centerpiece stand up properly with lights. Superglue fixes everything!


I also made a Banana Cake from four very browning bananas leftover from my housesitters who did not eat the fruit supply I left them, lol. It's all good though, those bananas made really moist and rich cake. Very happy with my cake today! This pic don't show much, but trust me - it was very moist and very yummy. I used my "Best Ever Banana Bread Recipe" click on the title to see recipe.

Hope you guys are having a wonderful holiday. HAPPY NEW YEAR! xoxo


Moroccan Lamb Tagine and Cruise Photos!


I have to admit it feels good to be home... BUT I didn't like the cleaning and vacuuming and the washing, as for the cooking.. I don't mind it as much, hehe. It does feel good to cook up food that makes my kitchen smell good.

First night back, I was too lazy to cook anything fancy since we only just got home at 4.00pm and spent the afternoon opening Christmas presents, making a mess, and then I had to tidy up the mess. So I whipped up some fettucine with pasta sauce (not even meat or anything since my pantry / freezer was pretty much empty!) and sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top. That was it. We filled our tummies and went to bed.

The next day though, it felt good to sleep in (we are on holidays until the 9th of Jan) and slowly do other house chores and edit more photos and slowly make my way to the supermarkets to do grocery shopping. My first stop was the butcher - stocked up on all the meat I can carry, haha. Then off to Coles to pick up some ingredients I needed to use my new "toy" - a Christmas present I got from our Kris Kringle - a brand new Scanpan Tagine!!


First dish that came to mind was this Morrocan Lamb dish. Served with cous cous! My mouth was watering... I had to cook it. It was delicious. The flavors are amazingly absorbed into the lamb in such a short cooking time. Also, this dish must be served with cous cous. It will not taste the same with rice. The flavors of cous cous and its grainy texture compliments the lamb tagine beautifully.


Ingredients:

Spice Mix
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder

Spice Paste
1 1/2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 large brown onion, roughly chopped
1 tbsp chilli paste
Stalks from a bunch of coriander, finely chopped
1 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Lamb Tagine
1kg lamb chump chops, diced
3 tbsp olive oil
450g carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 onion, sliced
1 cup of frozen green peas
1 red capsicum, sliced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
4 baby potatoes, peeled and diced
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
75g dried apricots
2 tbsp honey
3/4 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Coriander leaves for garnish

Method:
Heat olive oil in large tagine and cook lamb until just browning. Season well with salt and pepper. Remove from tagine and set aside.

Cook spice paste in the remaining juices in the tagine from the lamb for 1-2 minutes. Add spice mix and return lamb into tagine. Stir lamb into spice paste and spice mix thoroughly until meat is well covered.

Add carrots, onion, peas, capsicum, sweet potatoes, potatoes, tomatoes and dried apricots into the tagine. Stirfry for approx. 5-7 mins. Add honey and chicken stock and season well with salt and pepper. Cover with the heavy ceramic tagine lid and let it simmer. Open lid and stir every 10 minutes. Cook for approx. 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook cous cous according to packet directions.

Serve lamb tagine while still hot, garnish with coriander leaves.


CRUISE HOLIDAY PHOTOS:
Photos from my recent cruise trip have been uploaded on my Flickr account. Check out the photos here.

Greetings from Sydney!

Hello everyone,

I am writing this blog entry from the Qantas Club Lounge @ Sydney Airport. We have about an hour to our boarding time before we fly back to our home in Melbourne.

Our cruise vacation was indeed incredible. When I get home I will have about 32GB worth of photos and videos to sort before deciding what to do with them. Do I upload photos onto Flickr? Or Facebook? Or do I blog about each day, which will be very difficult with so many photos and videos to share!

Basically our trip consists of a lot of eating, yes the food onboard the Rhapsody of the Seas cruise ship was abundant and we were never hungry and we had all the options of going to a daily buffet or dine in style or room service or snack by the poolside... food was everywhere.

We also did a lot of snorkeling at some of the most beautiful islands I have ever seen. We snorkeled at the Isle of Pines, New Caledonia followed by Mystery Island, Vanuatu and Lifou, Loyalty Islands. Our day trip at Noumea, New Caledonia was a River Kayaking Expedition in the morning followed by exploring the town and some shopping in the afternoon.

We also spent a lot of time in the Broadway Melodies Theatre onboard the cruise ship. We watched every evening show - the production shows were world class, amazing dancers and singers and the stage props were beautiful. I was in awe, lol. Other nights they had guest performers - singers, talented musicians, illusionists and jugglers.. and a very talented acrobatics/ballet/dancers duo called "Art Motion"... they were AMAZING!! Unfortunately photography and videography wasn't allowed in the theatre so you'll just have to take my word for it. During the day, we also spent more time in the theatre watching afternoon movies, lol. Movies are what me and hubby love to do if we were at home, so we were glad we could relax and do that.

Other activities include - Bingo, Pool Parties, Trivia, Poker at the Casino, Backstage Tour at the theatre, Christmas Caroling at the Centrum, other pool activities, Love & Marriage Game Show, "The Quest" game, and also dancing at the Viking Crown Lounge where it turns into a pretty happening nightclub after 11pm nightly.

I have so much to share - please stay tuned for photos sometime tomorrow when I get back to Melbourne :)

Birthday / Christmas Party Weekend in Sydney .. and a special surprise!

Hello everyone! I know I said I might be "MIA" for a while but the cruise is still 4 days away and I've just had a pretty exciting weekend I would like to share with all of you! Apologies for the quality of the photos in this post - they are not as "fancy" or as "vibrant" as my usual photos taken with my DSLR... and that's because all photos in this post were taken with my BlackBerry Torch mobile phone.

This post will not be my usual Kimba's Kitchen blog post anyway, so I won't be posting it up on FoodBuzz or anything. Just something I would love to share with all of you :)

So, my little "adventure" started on Thursday night. My workmates and I went straight to the Melbourne airport after work to catch a 7.45pm flight to Sydney. We got to the airport at 6pm so we went to the Irish pub for a drink and early dinner.

I had the "Twice Cooked Pork Belly with roasted Egg Plant". The pork belly was delicious but for some reason the eggplant was even more oily than the pork belly! I have to admit I would've preferred the pork belly cooked three times with a crispy skin.. but oh well. Moving on.. :)

So we arrived in our hotel in Sydney, the Harbourview North Sydney hotel at about 9.15pm and we had another round of drinks at the bar at the lobby before going up to our individual rooms to have a good rest before a big day the next day.

This was my spectacular view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from my hotel room!

The "see through bathrooms" kinda made me giggle, lol.

Friday morning, rise and shine! It was my birthday! And this was what I had to wake up to! It felt incredible, I had a good sleep because the bed was very comfy, the only thing missing was my hubby... but that part of the story is still yet to come, hehe.

Breakfast was nice and early at 7.30am. It was the usual hotel buffet styled breakfast. Was good :)

And then we went into the conference rooms in the same hotel and had our annual company conference / training for the whole day. The sessions were quite interesting! It went really quick :)


We also had an extravagant buffet lunch! Lunch was amazing, the food was like.. dinner! Roast turkey, boeuf bourguignon, calamari, mashed potatoes, variety of salads, etc etc. Desserts were also incredible we had chocolate mousse, pavlova, cheesecakes, etc etc.. but I was too full for dessert by then. I couldn't risk falling asleep in the afternoon sessions of the conference!

Finally, it was time to party. Our Christmas Party was held at The Deck, Restaurant at Luna Park. We had the Sonar Function Room all to ourselves and all I can say is - the FOOD was incredible and the service was really good and we had a fantastic night!

Each table had a selection of food to share. Our first entree was a Poached Salmon and Fresh Herb Roulade with a Honey Mustard, Dill Dressing - was superb!!

Freshly Shucked Oysters with Wakame Seaweed and Ponzu Dressing - I love oysters so I had no complaints! These were fantastic and fresh and some people didn't like oysters so I got to have TWO!

Pressed Confit Duck and Shitake Mushroom Terrine and Onion Marmalade - this was surprisingly good, I'm not a big fan of meat being presented as a "sandwich" lol but this was surprisingly moist and had full duck flavors. The onion marmalade was a great accompaniment too.

And the Panzanella - Italian Bread Salad, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Onions, Fresh Basil, Olives and Red Wine Vinegrette - just a refreshing taste to go with all the other entrees :)

Moving on to mains - we had the Stuffed Roast Chicken with Caramelized Onion, Zucchini, Pine Nuts and Raisins. The chicken was a bit dry.. boo.

But the Seafood Paella was incredible!! It had prawns, squid, Spring Bay mussels, chicken, confit pork belly and chorizo with saffron rice. It was one of the best paellas I have ever tasted.

Followed by the Zaatar Crusted Barramundi Fillet with a Bulghur Wheat Salad and Tahini Yoghurt Sauce.

And a Slow Roast Gippsland Sirloin with Watercress and Vinegared Onion Salad and Port Wine Jus. So tender! By then, we were all getting quite full! And all the mains were served with green salad and shoestring fries!

Desserts were: Flourless Chocolate Cake, Pistachio Praline and Whipped Cream, Lemon Delicious Pudding and Crispy Ginger Wafers, and Savarin with Passionfruit Curd and Fresh Strawberries.

I didn't even get to eat desserts because we were already up and dancing, haha.

And a selection of perfectly aged Australian and European cheeses, fruits, quince paste, oatcakes, and lavosh crisp breads to finish. Whoa we were spoilt!

And here's the part of the "special surprise"... :)

After the Christmas Party, a bunch of us were headed to our "after party" at a nightclub. As we were getting out of the cab and walking towards the nightclub, guess who showed up! HUBBY!! Hubby was supposed to fly back to Melbourne after being in Tasmania for work all week, but instead he's decided to fly to SYDNEY to surprise me for my birthday!! Oh it was an incredible night, I got to spend my birthday with hubby after all and he got to meet all my workmates and we had a great night and it was just such a lovely, wonderful surprise!!

The next day, Saturday, we had buffet breakfast at the hotel again and checked out at 11am and went straight to Sydney airport and caught a 1.15pm flight back to Melbourne.

As soon as hubby and I hopped off the plane, we drove straight to the Pakenham Play Centre to celebrate our nephew's 2nd birthday. He and I share the same birthdate, so the whole family was there to celebrate his birthday followed by a birthday dinner at Sage Restaurant in Berwick afterwards.

So, once again, a series of restaurant dinners... (I'm starting to get a bit lazy, this post is getting too long, so please bear with me as I start to make this really quick, lol)

I had the Garlic Prawns, it was really good, except there wasn't enough sauce!! I like my Garlic Prawns with lots of sauce thank you!

Hubby had the Braised Lamb Shanks, he was extremely happy with it except for the mashed potatoes weren't anything fancy.. but the shanks were definitely a winner!

Sister in law had a wonderful Prawn and Mango salad.

Brother in law had Grilled Lamb Skewers. Other family members were sitting too far so I didn't bother taking other pictures, lol.

After dinner, I went home and crashed. 13 straight hours of sleep. Bliss!!

Sunday morning, we went to church as usual and then had a relaxing Sunday afternoon...

And then on Sunday night, we went to Shanika's in Berwick for a dinner gathering of the music team. There were about 18 of us and we were all going to have a Set Menu. Hubby, however had only 45 minutes to stay at dinner as he had to rush to the airport to catch another flight back to Tasmania for work, so he ordered a main separately.

Hubby ordered the Pork Ribs... mmmm.. makes me hungry just looking at this again.

The rest of us, had Garlic Breads to start with...

Followed by Crumbed Calamari for Entree..

We had 3 pasta dishes as mains...

But I only got the chance to photograph two pasta dishes...

The VEGETARIAN dish was very fancy!!

And we finished with a very delicious plate of dessert.. each! Brandy snaps, Profitteroles and Chocolate Mousse in a White Chocolate cup! 

I think I have definitely over-indulged this weekend. I'm going to starve myself the rest of the week now, and then continue my eating fest when we board our cruise ship on Saturday!



Guest Post: Red Velvet Cake by FriedWontons4u

I am very pleased to introduce you to my dear friend, Shao from FriedWontons4U.com. She's a wonderful food blogger with artistic photography styles AND she's a sweetheart on Twitter. If you're not following her already, make sure you check her out! Thank you, Shao for sharing this wonderful recipe :)


As much as I talk and tweet about craving sweets late at night, when it comes to satisfying my sweet tooth I am quite picky.  I prefer sorbets over ice cream. I’m not a big fan of chocolate. I enjoy cakes with light fluffy cream over rich frosting. I only like pies with a crumb topping. To sum it all up: picky, picky, picky.  Yet regardless of all these preferences, when it comes to Red Velvet Cake, all of that doesn’t matter. 
It’s  chocolatey and covered in layers of rich cream cheese frosting. Red Velvet Cake is an American southern classic. It’s usually presented as a three layer cake with frosting in between each layers and spread on top. In more contemporary forms, it has been transformed into cupcakes, whoppie pies, and cookies.  Originally beetroot, instead of red food coloring, was used to “dyed” the cake a rich red hue.  It’s simple to bake and highly addictive to eat.

Now when I say simple to bake, I should be honest and confess to you the silly mistake I made when making this cake. While trying to do two things at once, catching up on a TV show and baking, I accidently added 16 ounces of granulated sugar instead of powder sugar into the frosting mix. DO NOT make this mistake unless you prefer crunchy frosting.
The original recipe calls for the cake to be baked in two 9 inch round cake pans. I decided to take a more contemporary approach to it. I baked the whole batter in an 8 inch by 8 inch square cake pan, crumble the cake into big chunks, and served it in a glass with frosting in between each layers. You can also turn this batter into cupcakes simply by baking it in a cupcake pan. No matter how you present it, you can’t go wrong. It’s one of my favorite desserts and I hope it will be yours as well.


Red Velvet Cake
From Cooks Illustrated Magazine
Serves 12
For the Cake:
11 ¼ ounces unbleached all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
Pinch table salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder (Do not use Dutch processed cocoa. It will not rise proper or give you the correct red coloring)
2 tablespoons or 1 ounce bottle red food coloring
12 tablespoons unsalted butter that has been softened
10 ½ ounces granulated sugar
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
16 tablespoons unsalted butter that has been softened
16 ounces confectioners’ sugar
16 ounces cream cheese that has been soften
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch table salt
Cake Directions:
Make sure your oven racks are in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix the ingredients until they are well incorporated.
In a large measuring cup, add the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and eggs. Whisk the ingredients until combined.
In a small bowl, add the cocoa powder and food coloring. Mix until it forms a smooth paste.

In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, add the softened butter and sugar. Mix on medium high speed until the ingredients are fluffy and smooth. Scrape down the bowl as necessary to insecure the mixtures are well combined. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add one third of the flour, baking soda, and salt mixture.  Mix on medium high until incorporated.

Add half of the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and egg mixture. Mix on low speed until combined.
Scrape the bowl down, whisk more on low, and make sure everything is combined.

Repeat with the other half of the flour, baking soda, and salt mixture. Mix on medium high. Add the remaining buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and egg mixture. Mix on low. Add the rest of the flour, baking soda, and salt mixture.  Mix well on medium high. Make sure you are scraping down your mixing bowl as you mix.
Finally add the cocoa and food coloring paste. Mix on medium high.

When everything is mixed, remove the mixing bowl from the mixer.  With a rubber spatula, give the batter a final stir to check that everything is well incorporated.
Before you pour the batter into your baking pans, make sure your pans are well greased with butter and are lightly floured.  This recipe was made to be baked in two 9 inch cake pans, but you can also bake it in a large sheet pan or cupcake pans.
Pour the batter into your pans. It should take between 25 to 30 minutes to bake. If you are using a large sheet pan or cupcake pan, check the cake at 20 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the cake and if it comes out clean it’s ready.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn them out into a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes before frosting.
Frosting Directions:
In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, add the softened butter and sugar. Mix on medium high speed until the ingredients are fluffy and smooth. This should take 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the cream cheese in small pieces to the mixture as it mixes. Make sure to scrape down the bowl and mix until all the cream cheese are added and well incorporated.
Add the vanilla extract and salt. Mix well.
Set the frosting aside and store in the refrigerator until ready to be used.
To frost the cake, if you baked it in two cake pans, add the frosting on top of one layer, place the second cake on top, and layer it with more frosting on top and on the side of the cake. If you baked it in cupcake pans, just pipe or spread the frosting on top. To serve it in a cup as pictured in this post, just break the cake up in large bite size pieces, place a layer of cake in the cup, top it with frosting, add another layer, add more frosting, top it off with more cake, and add more frosting.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Mushroom and Carrots


I bought a couple of lamb shanks recently but wasn't sure if I had red wine in my pantry to cook the "proper" lamb shanks. I did not have red wine, so I basically whipped up a spontaneous mixture of flavors to cook these beautiful lamb shanks in a flavorsome stew with whatever I had in my kitchen.

The ingredients were:
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 5 large cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 4 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • 1 tbsp tarragon
  • 1 tsp chilli paste
  • 1 tbsp chicken stock powder
  • Pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
In a large pot, heat the olive oil and cook the garlic and red onions until just browning. Add the mushrooms, carrots, rosemary, tarragon, chilli paste, tomato sauce, soy sauce and pepper to taste. Add 3 cups of water and bring pot to a gentle simmer. Add the lamb shanks and let it slowly cook on the stove at medium heat for approx. 2-3 hours.

By the time it's ready, the lamb should fall off the bone as it is cooked to very tender, and the sauce thickens.

Serve with freshly steamed vegetables and a bed of garlic mashed potatoes.

There wasn't any red wine though.. hhmmm feel free to discard this recipe, lol.

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies



Peppermint Choc Chip is my favorite ice-cream flavor in the world. So I thought, why not Peppermint Choc Chip Cookies with green coloring and everything. This is a bit of a "cheat" recipe because it's Betty Crocker.. BUT who cares! I still had to mix the cookie dough, and I still had to spoon cookie dough onto a baking sheet, and I still had to bake the cookies for 10 minutes! This is brilliant.. except I need people to help me eat again. I have way too many yummy gooey cookies now, and I really shouldn't eat them all.

INGREDIENTS:
 1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
6 to 8 drops green food color
1 egg
1 cup creme de menthe baking chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks

DIRECTIONS:
Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, extract, food color and egg until soft dough forms. Stir in creme de menthe baking chips and chocolate chunks.

Using small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Serve warm or cool completely. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

 

I made a little video to say "hello"... my first time showing my face on video. A bit shy... lol.

Also, please support our dear foodie friend Rebecca from Chow and Chatter who has developed an iPhone Recipe App. Watch her on YouTube talking about her app here and download the app from iTunes for only $0.99 here!

A Poem for December

Hey everyone! Sorry I have been away the past few days, life has been hectic. I will get around to visiting your blogs and returning comments very soon.. and also blogging a new exciting recipe that will get you drooling, I can almost guarantee!

But in the mean time, I'd like to share a little "spontaneous poem" I wrote for the month of December. It is my favorite month of the year for many reasons, and I am so excited that it's here! It goes a little something like this....

I love you December
I will always remember
When I walked down the aisle
When I was born so fragile
When Enoch took me as his wife
When I celebrate another year of my life
When I got given a wedding ring
And then a birthday present the next evening
When I get to go on holiday
And celebrate Jesus' birthday
Exchanging gifts with the family
Not to mention the Christmas turkey
Yes, I love you December
Much, much more than I love November...

Hehe.


Lots of love,
Kim