Greek chicken with glazed quinoa and feta salad

Greek chicken with glazed quinoa and feta salad
Serves:
4
Time: 50 minutes
Difficulty: Easy to medium

There’s something about cinnamon that awakens the senses. For me, it brings back fond memories of Europe – from revelling in tongue-tingling sangria in Spain to licking the plate of my moussaka in Greece. Yes, I associate cinnamon with travel. And because travel is my number one favourite thing to do, cinnamon has to be my number one favourite spice.

Combining the ingredients of cinnamon, all spice and oregano is usually associated with red meat, but it works just as well with chicken too. Enjoy this dish as a delicious, but innocuous to the arteries mid-week dinner.

Ingredients

For the chicken:
3 good sized chicken breasts cut into approx. 3cm wide strips
2 tsps cinnamon
2 tsps all spice
2 tsps dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For the salad:
1 can baby beetroots, quartered
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 red capsicum, cut into 2-3cm pieces
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1 cup white quinoa
2 cups liquid – either water or chicken stock (I like using chicken stock for a more intense flavour)
50gm Greek feta, cut or crumbled into small cubes
½ tbsp honey
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil – for the quinoa
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil – for the vegies
2 garlic cloves, crushed whole
2 springs rosemary (this is optional, but I like adding it to the quinoa for a deeper flavour)

Method

Step 1: In a fine mesh strainer, rinse the quinoa thoroughly with cool water and drain well. Heat the teaspoon of oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add the quinoa. Toast for about 1 minute. Stir in the liquid, garlic and rosemary sprigs. Bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to low and cook covered for 15 minutes. Then take off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, covered. Fluff with a fork, removing the now leafless woody sprigs.

Step 2: Meanwhile, while the quinoa is cooking, slice the chicken. Place the pieces in a deep bowl and combine with the cinnamon, all spice, oregano, salt, pepper and oil. Mix well and set aside to marinate for a few minutes.

Step 3: While the chicken marinates, chop the vegies. In a medium non-stick frypan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Drop the vegies in, tossing thoroughly for 2 minutes. Add the salt and pepper. Continue to stir fry.

Step 4: While the vegies are cooking, heat a large non-stick frypan over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in batches (I usually do 2 batches) for about 3-4 minutes each side or until golden brown.

Step 5: After the vegies have been cooking on medium-high for about 10 minutes, stir in the balsamic vinegar and honey, then lower the heat to medium. Continue to stir for another 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes glazed and sticky (I usually keep cooking it until my chicken is done).

Step 6: In a medium bowl, layer first the quinoa, then the glazed vegies, followed by the chicken, and finally the feta. Pour over the leftover liquid glaze from the saucepan, and enjoy!

Brunch at Bruschetteria 102, 102 Albion St, Surry Hills NSW

Bruschetteria 102

Bruschetteria 102

www.facebook.com/pages/Bruschetteria-102/114052148635719

We visited Bruschetteria one sunny Saturday morning for brunch. As its name suggests, this modest cafe specialises in bruschetta and has a variety of options to choose from – whether you’d like to dine for breakfast, lunch or something in-between.

The place is distinctly Italian, from the coffees that have a taste and aroma reminding me of Rome to the staff with thick accents. Like so many of the cafes in Surry Hills, it’s set in a house-like structure. The front of the cafe is marked with a vintage suitcase – a chalkboard is propped up against it, declaring the house specials. Beyond the white picket fence is a small patio with artificial green lawn and a mismatch of iron, wicker and timber tables and chairs. An oversized wooden serving board is plastered to the front wall – announcing that we have reached our destination of Bruschetteria 102. Inside is even more quirky with more mismatched tables and chairs, rustic pitchers and fruit bowls, paper cup light shades (yes actual paper cups), and my favourite – a life-size black and white 1950s picture of Elvis.

We chose to sit at a lop-sided table at the very front and were treated with friendly and warm service. I ordered from the lunch menu, choosing the prosciutto, Italian cheese and pear bruschetta, along with my usual skinny cap. My partner in crime ordered the bacon and eggs bruschetta from the breakfast menu and a long black.

Our coffees arrived in mismatched cups and saucers (if there was a theme, mismatched would be it), accompanied with collectable souvenir teaspoons – an endearing touch I thought. My coffee was good, once I got past the 2cm high foam. And like I said earlier, it had the taste of Italy.

Bruschetteria 2

Our waitress then brought us some special bruschetta cutting knives and the meals themselves came shortly after on rustic serving boards. I really enjoyed my meal – it was fresh and honest tasting, the sweetness of the pear cutting through the saltiness of the prosciutto and cheese. The drizzle of olive oil topped it off perfectly. Tom happily gobbled his up too – the bacon was nice and crispy and the scrambled eggs soft and golden.  

We discovered that Bruschetteria is also open for dinner on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. They do a four course Italian menu for $40 per person – something Tom and I will be back for in the not too distant future.

Bruschetteria 102 on Urbanspoon

Mejico – 105 Pitt Street, Sydney

 

Mejico1

mejico.com.au

This is a new bright and colourful gem to the streets of Sydney’s CBD. And by bright and colourful, I mean literally – as soon as I walked in, I was confronted by an array of colour. In the front section is a cosy bar, where you can sit and have a cocktail while you wait for your table. But a word of warning, we went on a Tuesday night for dinner at around 7pm, and it was frantically busy, so I can’t even imagine what it would be like on a Friday night! At the time of posting this, the place had only been open for a couple of weeks, so its bright and sparkly newness may die down over time.

The restaurant itself is long and narrow – to the left is a long table and beyond that, a seating bar, both of which to share with other patrons. Behind the seating bar, you can see the chefs working away behind smoky windows. Individual tables are also dotted across the restaurant. Gorgeous vintage candlesticks and pitchers, thick off-white candles, and spiky cactus plants line the middle of the long table. Above are giant bell-shaped lightshades. Painted on the left wall is a large swirling black cactus-like image that is also strangely phallic. Neon pink seems to be the colour of choice – the front feature walls, chairs, cardboard menus, and guys’ uniform t-shirts were all marked by this colour.  In fact, the guys’ pink and white striped t-shirts reminded me of American candy striper volunteers. Taking in all of the surroundings, the place has a decidedly soft pink haze to it. 

Mejico2

We sat down to our table which had its own mortar and pestle. Next to that were water glasses that resembled oversized shot glasses – a thoughtful touch considering the sizeable list of tequilas available. From the menu we chose a selection to share, including fresh guacamole dip and banana chips, chorizo, lamb shoulder tacos, smoked pork belly tacos, Portobello mushrooms with sweet potato croquetas, and glazed pork ribs. To drink, I chose the Picante Espana Tempranillo Syrah – only wines from Spain and South America made the cut for this wine list. The beer list was mainly Mexican, including a chilli beer. My wine was sweet, but tangy and very well balanced, I really enjoyed it.

When the waitress came over to deliver our fresh guacamole, I discovered that the mortar and pestle wasn’t just there for pure decoration. Our waitress proceeded to bash the ingredients together right there in front of us using the mortar and pestle. I love quirky and different things, so for me this was the highlight of the night. We watched as she scooped the avocado out of their skins, and mixed in coriander, Spanish onion, lime juice, Serrano chilli and pistachio nuts.  The result was a beautifully spiced and chunky guacamole dip. The long banana chips were perfect for the dip, but I wish there had been more. The chorizo had a delicious smoky flavour – it was diced into small cubes and combined with small black Mexican beans and a hint of cream. This was also served with banana chips as well as lime wedges and a delightful paprika salt.

Mejico4  Mejico3 

The lamb tacos were beautiful – rich in flavour, soft and melt in your mouth – served with a mint-infused mayonnaise.  I preferred these to the pork belly tacos (served with a black bean hummus), but they were good too if you like pork belly. I can’t have too much of it myself as I find it too greasy. The pork ribs were nice, but not the best I’ve had. The basting sauce had a good sticky sweetness to it, but I felt the meat could have been softer. It was served with polenta chips, which I really enjoyed. The Portobello mushrooms and sweet potato croquetas were pleasant, especially with the manchengo cheese, black bean puree and tomatillo salsa, but I didn’t think there was enough seasoning to the dish, making it a little bland.

I would definitely come back here; the food was overall enjoyable and while there were some (minor) flaws, you can really taste the freshness in the food. The atmosphere is fun, cheeky and retro making it a fabulous destination for dinner and drinks with a group of friends who like to drink. This isn’t the same old Mexican place either; it takes the experience to another level, making Mejico well differentiated from the rest.

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