That Looks Yucky…!!!

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup (with broccoli, pesto and stilton cheese)

When I posted this on my fb food page last night, some woman I don’t even know commented that the soup “looked yucky!” – So, I would like to thank her for assisting me in naming this post but I would also like for her to categorically go and drop on her head somewhere – Oh! I’m being unusually polite! – she should just piss off – get off my food page and although I understand that you can’t fix stupid, surely she could do something about her severe case of butt ugly!!!

Anyhoo…some things don’t photograph well (like this woman) -I mean,  like this soup – but taste amazing (unlike this woman) – I mean, like this soup. This soup was greenish in colour due to the broccoli and pesto and tasted amazing – very creamy and rich and certainly not for those wishing to lose any weight in a hurry. It was incredibly filling and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

I have been making a few different types of soup lately and had it stuck in my head that I wanted a soup with gnocchi in it. I googled a few and wasn’t quite happy with any one particular recipe so I combined a few and made the rest up as I went along. Certainly different and my family lapped it up – loved it!

So here’s my yucky looking soup – actually the photo makes the soup look greener than it actually was but anyhow I don’t care – really impressed with myself here – so faaaaarrrrrkkkkk you ugly lady…

Not all pretty things are wonderful...

Not all pretty things are wonderful…

 

Ingredients

  •  skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup butter, divided
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1/3 cup plain  flour
  • 3-1/2 cups milk
  • 1-1/2 cups thickened cream
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable stock granules, like vegeta.
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 packet gnocchi (or you could make your own but I didn’t)
  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • 2 teaspoons pesto (home made is better but you could use a good quality bought one)
  • as much or as little Stilton Cheese as you like

Method

  • In a saucepan, brown chicken in 2 tablespoons butter. Remove and keep warm. In the same pan, saute the onion,  and garlic in remaining butter until tender.
  • Whisk in flour until blended; gradually stir in the milk, cream, stock granules and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add cheese.
  • Meanwhile cook gnocchi in another pot and add to the creamy soup. Cut broccolini into small pieces and steam (the stem and shred the head, if that makes sense – I wanted flecks of broccolini not chunks); and then add to the soup along with the pesto. Add the chicken. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until heated through (do not boil). 
  • Maybe it was the buttered bread I kept dunking into this that made me so full…OMG – It was good!!!

Queen Victoria Market

Asparagus and Leek Something or Other…

Yesterday was a beautiful warm and sunny day in Melbourne and called for a stroll through The Queen Victoria Market.

Many years ago I used to do all my food shopping there. My dad introduced me to his favourite butcher and my sister – in – law’s family owned a couple of the fish/seafood stalls so I was always guaranteed to get the best and freshest of everything. I had my trolley and never needed a list, buying what caught my eye. I loved doing this. Then along came a child (my child, not that I found one at the market) and full time work and those weekly visits came to an end.

Of course dad’s butcher is no longer there and my sister – in – law’s fam have sold up and retired.

Yesterday I had the need to get there and just soak up the atmosphere. Lots more sit down food/coffee areas but the stalls full of crappy Australiana are still there. We walked up and down every aisle, looking at every crappy T.Shirt, remote control toys for kids and the little battery operated yappy dogs that did flips (I had one of those when I was kid) and found my eyes welling up. My handsome man’s eyes were also teary and I was shocked to see him so emotional but it turns out his eyes were teary because of a man who obviously needed a lesson in personal hygiene and not from any type of nostalgia!

Strolling through the fruit and veg stalls were the guys competing for business, trying to out yell one another. Seriously, this one guy was about to burst the veins in his neck…indeed at one point I thought his head would explode…So, I stood, watched and waited but alas no joy! His head stayed intact!

They had the most beautiful smelling mangoes and awesome pomegranates as well as the freshest looking asparagus I have ever seen. I bought lots of each.

The pomegranates are gone already as I went on a bit of a Vodka kick when I got home (it was a hot day ok!!!) and squeezed the juice into my martini glass and banged out all those amazing little rubies with my rolling pin and added them to my glass and poured in my Vodka and sat outside in my small court yard and just went to Heaven for a while…mmmmmm….Vodka!

But this really is about the asparagus. I came home from work today and looked through the freezer (found puff pastry) so decided that the asparagus would go into this pie/quiche thingy. Full of the free range eggs I had bought and the baby leeks, the grated nutmeg and some wonderful cheese (blue cheese and parmesan) and cream and topped with sliced tomatoes from the organic section and served with a green salad…well, it was so good I made two of them so I could have some more tomorrow.

Oh, and I finally managed to track down the dark muscovado sugar I have been looking for so the ingredients for my Christmas cake a slowly coming together…Damn that Nigella and her must try Chocolate Christmas Cake with ingredients that are hard to come by…

Cheers people and now for the rest of my Pomegranate Vodka which has steeped nicely over night…thank you Melbourne for giving me a day off work tomorrow for a horse race 🙂

The Need for Peas

Chicken In a Creamy White Wine Sauce

So, after having Friday off work thanks to this dreaded cold, I went in yesterday…and suffered!

The kids were quiet as they could tell I wasn’t well and they don’t like it when I’m angry. In fact no one likes me when I’m angry! I did however, keep in 3 boys at lunch time because they made my headache worse. No abuse of power here I promise. They were supposed to be working in groups and these three decided it would be funny to pick on the kid in the group who can’t read very well…result…half of their lunch time gone! Don’t mess with me when I’m sick.

My afternoon meeting also didn’t go down very well either. We were working in groups doing what we call a moderation task. This is where we swap essays from kids and mark each other’s work and then compare marks…keeps the marking process honest. Well apparently I’m a tough marker and the teacher didn’t agree that his student deserved such a low grade. Three of us marked it and two of us gave it a fairly average score and the third teacher gave it a much higher score. I was signalled out for an explanation…no depth…no voice…poorly constructed paragraphs….blah! blah! blah!

This process is fine when you are moderating with people who are reasonable but it was clear that this teacher wanted to jump the table and put my head through the wall. It’s not the first time I’ve had ‘words’ with him and he doesn’t like me very much. Of course when I get on my high horse I can come across as, how did another teacher put it? oh yeah! Intimidating and scary…anyway he took offense and I probably should have stayed home. Once my partners in crime and I got back to the sanctuary of our office we let rip about him… “he’s such a dick!”… “doesn’t know his arse from his elbow!” … “I just wanna punch him!” … (we spend way too much time with kids!) In fact it got ridiculous (I think ‘soft cock’ was mentioned) and we found ourselves laughing so hard, we couldn’t get in our cars to drive home especially after I came out with “Yeah! I wanna punch him…in the dick…with one of these…because I don’t really wanna touch him…”

I stayed home today…shouldn’t really be near people!

What does all this have to do with chicken? Nothing really apart from it was the only thing I got right yesterday. Except that I was so hungry that for the first time I forgot to take a photo…and it looked so damn good!

Chicken thigh fillets fried in oil and butter, in large pan until golden. Add fresh thyme sprigs and white wine and cook down. Toss in capers and place lid on so chicken cooks well. Remove chicken when it’s done and set aside. Add cream and wholegrain mustard to the pan and combine well with the white wine. Reduce a little then return chicken thighs and spoon over all the yumminess. Serve with salad or vegetables. I had a major craving for peas so I made a whole bag (peas being the only thing I buy that’s frozen) as well as some steamed baby carrots and corn cobs all drenched in some of the French butter I had left. So delicious and so sorry I didn’t get a pic…

Off to the doctor now and then back to bed 🙂

Nothing Special!

Steak with fried Gnocchi

A lot of people post about great food they have had at a great place or about something new they have tried at home and don’t get me wrong, I do that too.

But tonight I’m too stuffed to be fancy. Last nights’ Parent/Teacher Interviews did me in. Having a 70th birthday party to go to straight after this talk fest with parents that finished at 7pm didn’t help. Today I dragged my arse into work looking haggard and after having spoken to 70 parents was not in a talkative mood…difficult when you are a teacher… apparently communication is a key part of my job!

I wanted to be curled up on my couch in my pjs watching the hail come down but I was teaching my Year 7 English class…well, not really teaching as every single kid had their faces plastered to the window watching the hail storm…not much teaching going on. I had no interest in the storm and so just sat in my not too comfy chair and thought about my dinner…steak, fried gnocchi and creamy mustard stuff poured over the top!

I love gnocchi done this way and I like my steak rare and usually like it cooked on a grill but tonight I wanted it just like my mother used to make – fried in a pan on high heat in loads of wonderful butter. My work here is done!

Later tonight I’m going to brew me some strong coffee and finish off that cake I brought home for myself from the birthday party last night – a sponge cake soused in frangelico, filled with nutella and topped with icing sugar – life is much better now!

In Love With Leeks

Potato and Leek Soup

Still Winter…Still Cold!

I really shouldn’t complain about winter in Melbourne. Yes, the air gets chilly…Yes, it rains…Yes, it gets dark early…but it NEVER reaches sub zero temperatures. In fact it hardly ever gets close to zero and it doesn’t snow! You could of course go to the snow resorts and do some snow stuff but as I grew up around the corner from the beach, I am more of a beach girl.

The fact that I like to pretend during winter that it is summer by turning up the central heating and dressing like I’m on a tropical island is a clear indicator that I’m not about to visit the snow resorts anytime soon. I have been to said resorts and it was really cold outside and the sky was an amazing blue but I stayed indoors by the open fire drinking wine for most of it!  Snow looks awesome but seeing it on the telly is quite enough for me.

All that aside, I don’t hate winter. My birthday is in winter. I love to wear boots. I love drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows. I love slow cooked comfort food. I cook more in winter than I do in summer. I love winter food, especially soup…pumpkin soup being one of my favourites. Potato and Leek soup comes in a close second best for me.

I worked out, as I was making potato and leek soup for dinner tonight, that I hadn’t made this for about 2 years. How do I know? I remember that I made it as a starter for guests one winter night (I remember meals by the company with whom it was shared)…also by the fact that these guests have never been invited back to our house as they are not very pleasant people…I was pleasant and hospitable, cooked a crankin’ meal but no dice…they ain’t comin’ back!

So, of course, the poor soup copped the blame and it has taken me 2 years to separate my distaste for those people with the soup. It’s like when you get food poisoning and you can’t eat whatever made you sick ever again. In light of this, I added some spices this time, so it’s not exactly the same soup…a new beginning…welcome back potato and leek soup 🙂

Potato and Leek Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 – 3 tbs olive or garlic oil
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 4 medium (about 700g) peeled desiree, pink eye or pontiac potatoes, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 2 leeks, pale section only, washed, dried, thinly sliced
  • 1.25L (5 cups) vegetable stock
  • pancetta
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) thickened cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbs finely chopped fresh parsley

Method

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until the onion softens. Add the potato and leek and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until leek softens.

Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and gently boil, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until potato is soft. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.

Transfer one-third of the potato mixture to the jug of a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a clean saucepan. Repeat in 2 more batches with the remaining potato mixture.

Finely chop pancetta and fry until crunchy. Tip out onto absorbant paper.

Place the soup over medium heat. Add the cream and stir to combine. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until hot. Taste and season with salt.

Ladle the soup among serving bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and top with fried and crunchy pancetta. Serve immediately.