a food stylist's blog

Cooking courses and food tours in SW France

Last year Ian and I, working together as Snap + Stir launched our first app Midweek Meals which was very exciting. We were lucky enough to be asked to collaborate on this venture with a good friend and even better (or should I say genius) creative director of Sodus, a boutique design studio in Sydney who were launching a new brand called Handmag, a platform for apps based on magazines for the hand.

The idea was to offer anyone with a smart phone (starting with the iPhone and then following that all smart phones) or iPad instant access to more than 50 fabulous, easy and delicious recipes suitable for midweek dinners at the swipe of a finger. How often have you found yourself on the train or bus home, or even walking down the street, trying hard to think of what to eat for dinner tonight? Because everyone is time poor these days it’s so easy and tempting to pick up a takeaway or heat up a ready meal, we wanted to show just how easy it can be to cook something tasty without spending an age in the kitchen after a long day at work.

All the recipes can be on the table within 30 minutes whilst some are even quicker – under 20 and even 15 minutes. Not only that you will be eating something healthier than you would if you took a more convenient option. The only way to know exactly what we are eating is to cook as much as we can from scratch and although it is inevitable that you will be using some processed products, many of the recipes on the app use fresh ingredients with plenty of vegetables, fish, chicken and pulses, as well as some meat dishes.

There is a good selection of meat free dishes for veggies and one or two vegan dishes. There are recipes ideal for summer whilst others will help keep you warm in the winter. Every recipe has been beautifully photographed by Ian Wallace, celebrated food photographer, which will inspire you to cook yourself something yummy every night of the week. Here are a few of the dishes two wet your appetite and if you’d like to purchase the app at a very reasonable Aud $ 1.99. You can click on the link at the bottom of this page.

 Pork asparagus and walnut salad

Pork asparagus and walnut salad

Photo Ian Wallace

Pork fillet, asparagus, baby spinach and walnuts combine with a tangy orange dressing in this lovely warm summer salad.

Serves: 4

grated zest and juice 1 orange

1 tsp ground cumin

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

500 g pork fillet

3 bunches asparagus, trimmed and halved

100 g salad mache or rocket

50 g walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

1 tbsp whole grain mustard

salt and pepper

 spray oil, for cooking

Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan forced and line a baking tray with baking paper. Combine the orange zest, cumin and plenty of salt and pepper in a bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the pork fillet and rub the mix all over the pork.

Preheat a frying pan and fry the pork for 2-3 minutes until browned on all sides. Transfer to the prepared try and bake for 15 minutes. Wrap loosely in foil and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the asparagus spears in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes until tender. Using a small balloon whisk, whisk together the orange juice, remaining oil, mustard and some salt and pepper. Cut the pork fillet into slices and arrange on warmed plates with the asparagus, salad leaves and walnuts. Drizzle over the dressing and serve.

Tandoori chicken with cashew nut rice

Tandoori chicken with cashew nut rice

Photo Ian Wallace

Your own homemade tandoori chicken in under 30 minutes – far healthier than anything from your local takeaway.

 Serves: 4

8 skinless chicken thigh fillets

200 g natural yogurt

1 tbsp bought tandoori spice paste

2 crushed garlic cloves

2 tsp grated root ginger

2 tsp lemon juice, plus extra to serve

cashew nut rice

2 tbsp vegetable oil

125 g cashew nuts

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 tsp cumin seeds

6 cardamom pods, bashed

6 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick, lightly bashed

350 g cooked basmati rice

pinch saffron strands

50 g raisins

salt and pepper

coriander leaves, to garnish

Place the chicken thigh fillets in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients and some salt and pepper. Stir well and set aside until required (if you have time marinate the chicken for as long as possible).

Cook the cashew rice. Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan and stir-fry the cashew nuts over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

 Add the onion, whole spices and a pinch salt to the oil and fry gently for 10 minutes. Add the rice, stir to coat with the oil and add a splash of water. Scatter the saffron strands over the rice, cover and cook very gently for 5 minutes until the rice is heated through. Remove from the heat, stir in the raisins and cashew nuts, cover and leave to sit for a further 5 minutes.

 Heat the grill to high. Arrange the chicken thighs on a rack over a foil-lined grill pan and cook for 5-6 minutes each side until charred and cooked through. Squeeze over some lemon juice and serve with the rice, garnished with coriander leaves.

 Herb crusted cod with peas

Herb crusted cod with peas

Photo Ian Wallace

A crispy crust with Parmesan, lemon and herbs sits atop cod fillets. They are oven roasted and served with fresh peas and a green salad.
Serves 4

50g sliced bread

1 tbsp chopped fresh basil, plus a few small leaves to garnish

2 tsp chopped fresh thyme

2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

grated zest 1 lemon

1 egg white, lightly beaten

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

500g vine ripened cherry tomatoes

4 x skinless cod fillets, about 175 g each

350 g frozen peas

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

 rocket salad, to serve

 Pre-heat the oven to 200c/fan-forced 180c and line a roasting tin with baking paper. Place the bread in a food processor and blend to make rough crumbs. Place crumbs in a bowl and add the herbs, cheese, lemon zest, egg and some salt and pepper.

 Brush the tops of each cod fillet with a olive oil and press crumb mixture on top of fish. Transfer to the prepared baking tray and arrange the cherry tomatoes around the fish. Bake for about 10 minutes until fish is cooked through and the topping is golden. Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil and rest for 5 minutes.

 Meanwhile, cook the peas in a saucepan of lightly salted, boiling water for 2-3 minutes until cooked, return to the pan and stir in the remaining oil and balsamic vinegar and a few basil leaves. Divide between warmed plates, top with the fish and tomatoes and serve with a rocket salad.

Japanese mushroom noodle soup

Photo Ian Wallace

Photo Ian Wallace

Soba noodles, mushrooms, tofu, sugar snaps and seaweed all add a wonderfully flavour to this delicate Japanese soup.

 Serves: 4

200g dried soba noodles

2 sachets instant dashi stock (or veggie stock if preferred)

1.5 litres boiling water

75 ml salt reduced soy sauce

3 tbs Mirin

350g mixed mushrooms, trimmed and wiped clean

250g silken tofu, drained and diced

150g sugar snaps, trimmed and halved

50g enoki mushrooms

1 sheet nori seaweed, cut into strips

 seven spice seasoning, to serve

 Cook the noodles according to packet instructions, drain well in a large sieve, refresh under cold water and set aside until required.

Combine the dashi stock, water, soy sauce and Mirin in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently, covered over a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the mixed mushrooms, cover and simmer gently for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the tofu, sugar snaps and enoki mushrooms and cook for 1 minute.

 Meanwhile, boil a full kettle of water. Place the noodles still in the sieve over the sink and pour over the boiling water. Shake off excess water and divide between serving bowls. Spoon over the soup and serve sprinkled with the seaweed and Japanese seven spice.

 Autumn pasta with beetroot and goat cheese

Photo Ian Wallace

Photo Ian Wallace

 Beetroot, goat cheese, pecan nuts and rocket are stirred through freshly cooked pasta.

 Serves: 4

 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, sliced

500 g pre-cooked beetroot

400 g fusilli or other dried pasta

200 g goat feta or goat cheese, crumbled

60 g pecan nuts, toasted and roughly chopped

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

a handful rocket leaves, to serve

 grated Pecorino, to serve

 Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onions and garlic for 10 minutes until golden but not browned. Add the beetroot and cook gently for 3 minutes until heated through. Season to taste.

 Meanwhile, plunge the pasta into a large bowl of lightly salted boiling water, return to the boil and cook for 10-12 minutes until al dente. Drain pasta and add 4 tablespoons of the cooking liquid to the beetroot.

 Spoon the pasta into bowls and serve topped with the beetroot, goat feta, pecans and parsley. Drizzle over a little more oil and serve topped with a few rocket leaves and grated Pecorino.

https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/snap+stir/id692174352?mt=8

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