Cooking with Lee Lee – Cumin Spiced Lamb Burgers with Uyghur Style Salsa

This blog will start with a bit of geography that I felt was necessary in order for me to write this recipe. I’ve taken inspiration from a Uyghur restaurant that I visited a few months ago.

Originating from Western China, specifically in the sparse Region of Xinjiang, Uyghur food has strong Turkic influences. Geographically it’s situated between Kazakhstan and Mongolia. The region is often referred to as Chinese Turkestan and the cuisine is predominately halal, featuring mutton, goat, camel, fresh vegetables and dairy.

Uyghur food is one that peaks my interests because it’s not as well-known as other Chinese cuisines but the flavors are just as intense and just as delicious. Their choice of food sources being so far inland is rather limited and their range of signature dishes is not as impressive in size as other regions in China, but they do what they can with what they have and boy do they impress with flavors.

This is my recipe spin on a classic Uyghur dish, traditionally lamb meat served on skewers and char-grilled with a light salad, I’ve decided to take the main components and serve it as a burger instead.

Cumin Spiced Lamb Burgers with Uyghur Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

500g Lamb mince

1 brown onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp Cumin seeds

2 tbsp Coriander seeds

2 tbsp Fennel Seeds

1 egg

4 slices of Gruyere Cheese

1 Lebanese cucumber, half grated and the other half seeded and diced into small cubes

200mL Greek Yoghurt

3 tbsp Olive Oil

Juice of half a lemon

2 tomatoes, seeded and diced into small cubes

1 cup of fresh dill, roughly chopped

4 wholemeal burger buns, toasted

Method:

  1. Combine all the spices and dry toast them in a fry pan until fragrant. This should only take a minute or two. Give the fry pan a shake every now and then and this will keep the spices from burning easily. Transfer the spices to a mortar and pestle and pound until the seeds are no longer whole. Of course you can skip the pounding and just buy ground seeds.
  2. In a mixing bowl, add lamb mince, salt and pepper, toasted spices, brown onion and the egg. Combine well with your hands, this way you’ll incorporate all the flavors better. Get your hands dirty , you wont regret it. =) Then shape the mince mixture into round patties. The mince mixture should make at least 5 patties. I always do a test patty just in case I need to add more spices or more seasoning. Cover the patties and set them aside in the fridge for extra marinating time.
  3. For the tzatziki, add the grated cucumber, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to the Greek yoghurt and mix well. Set aside in the fridge until serving time.
  4. For the Uyghur salsa, simply toss together the diced cucumbers, tomato and dill. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Back to the burger patties, heat a large fry pan until hot, add a drizzle of olive oil followed by the meat. Cook on the one side for 3-4 minutes. Using a spatula, flatten the patties as they tend to shrink with heat. Flip the burgers over to the other side and add a slice of cheese on each patty. Cook for 2 minutes or until cheese has completely melted.
  6. To serve, build from the bottom of the bun. Start with a spread of tzatziki, lettuce, Uyghur salsa, burger patty with cheese and an extra dollop of tzatziki before placing the top of the bun on the burger.

This one is sure to impress, a quick and easy recipe for your next Spring BBQ or get together. Maximum flavor and minimum work, this recipe is my go-to for impromptu lunches that calls for foolproof perfection.

Do you have a go-to recipe that always impresses?

Hope you’ve enjoyed Cooking With Lee Lee. If you have any questions about the recipe or if you’ve tried my recipe and want to share your thoughts, please leave me a comment.

Worth every single calorie!

Love Lee Lee =)

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Cooking with Lee Lee – Creamy Chicken and Leek Pie

Creamy Chicken and Leek Pie

Pies are the ultimate comfort food and nothing beats a hearty chicken and leek pie. Growing up, frozen party pies were the norm in our household because my mum refused to cook. I say REFUSED because she can cook, she just doesn’t want to do it so she didn’t have to clean the kitchen afterward. So frozen meat pies were the way to go and it was a case of, “I didn’t know any better!”.

The first time I had a homemade chicken and leek pie, it was like the first night in a new house. It seemed oddly familiar and yet I’d never been there before. It was the perfect balance of textures, flavors and ingredients, I didn’t want to change anything about it. I knew that it was love at first bite.

My first attempt at making my own chicken and leek pies was on my 26th birthday, which also happened to coincide with about five “Pie Face” joints popping up around Melbourne overnight. I thought I’d give them a run for their money.  There was a birthday party and instead of baking a cake, I baked a pie for my guests.

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Makes: 12 individual small pies*

Ingredients

4 chicken thighs, cubed

4 rashers of bacon, rind removed, roughly chopped

1 leek, halved length-ways and cut into 1cm strips

250g button mushrooms, sliced

1 tsp olive oil

2 tsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup of chicken stock

1/2 cup of milk

1/4 cup of plain flour

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup of grated tasty cheese

6 sheets of pre-made frozen puff pastry, cut 4 rounds of pastry per sheet, save the excess for patching.

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp of milk for glazing

sesame seeds to garnish

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or deep frying pan. Add the chicken meat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the chicken is browned all over. Using a slotted spoon remove the chicken and keep to one side.
  2. In the same pan add the bacon, finely sliced leek and the button mushrooms. Cook for 3 minutes stirring occasionally until the leeks are softened. Remove and keep to one side with the chicken.
  3. Add the butter to the pan and melt over a medium heat, add the flour and stir well to incorporate all the flour into the butter. You should have a really thick paste. Using a hand whisk, slowly add the hot chicken stock and milk, whisking all the time until a smooth, creamy gravy is created, cook for 3 minutes, again stirring from time to time. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken, leek and bacon mix and creamy gravy. Allow to cool.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  6. Generously grease 15inch individual pie trays and line with a round of pastry. Pastry should be hanging over the side of the tray. Add the filling and sprinkle the cheese on evenly. Using a pastry brush, dampen the edges of the pastry lining with beaten egg, then cover with the pastry lid and crimp the edges to seal. Brush generously with beaten egg and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Using a sharp knife cut a small hole into the center of the lid to allow the steam to escape during cooking.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling bubbling.

I love eating the small/mini pies, it was my favorite thing to do as a child. I would squeeze tomato sauce in the center of the party pie, take tiny bites around the edges of the pie, take the lid off and put it back onto the pie with the sauce on the underside, slide the lid off leaving tomato sauce on the meat and then eat the lid. I would then fold the remainder of the pie up into a dumpling/calzone shape and suck the meat sauce out of one corner before eating the whole thing. I did this with every mini pie and I still do it on occasions. I almost always burnt my finger tips and the top of my mouth when I did this.

Do you have any weird habits when it comes to eating pies? Or any other food? Send me a comment, let’s hear it.

*I doubled my quantities in the ingredients department so I was able to make an extra one individual large pie.

Hope you’ve enjoyed Cooking With Lee Lee. If you have any questions about the recipe or if you’ve tried my recipe and want to share your thoughts, please leave me a comment. Happy baking everyone.

It’s definitely worth every calorie!

Love Lee Lee =)

Cooking With Lee Lee – Broccoli Farfalla

Broccoli Farfalla

I am such a huge fan of broccoli. Everything about the broccoli appeals to me, the shape, the colour, the taste and the wonderful ways you can utilise it in your cooking.

This recipe is one that I came up with one afternoon when I was feeling somewhere in between, “yeah, I could eat” and “starting to feel famished”. I only had a few ingredients to work with and so I started with just a small broccoli, 1/4 of a bag of penne and some chicken stock. I boiled the broccoli in the stock until it was soft enough to mash. Then I prepared the pasta as instructed on the packaging and combined it with the smashed broccoli, seasoned with salt and pepper and bon appetit.

The result wasn’t life altering but it wasn’t bad for a healthy snack that got me be back down to, “I’ll eat it if it’s in front of me but I probably don’t need it”, which is a good thing considering, there really was nothing left to eat.

Since then, this simple recipe has evolved and is tasting better than ever. It can also be eaten cold so it’s great for picnics. Check out the new and improved version just below.

***

Ingredients

  • 1 decent sized broccoli, discard the end of the stalk, cut the rest of the stalk into small chunks and separate the florets.
  • 1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of Farfalle pasta
  • 1/2L water
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 5 medium-sized button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of fresh basil, hand torn
  • 1 cup spinach packed tightly, washed
  • 1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 birds eye chilli, seeds discarded, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

Method

1. Bring the stock to boiling point and add broccoli. Cook until soft and tender. This should take about 10-15 minutes. Using a potato masher, press the broccoli into the stock until broccoli becomes a course pulp.

2. At the same time, boil the water for the pasta with a generous pinch of salt. I find this always helps the water to boil quicker. Add the pasta to boiling water and wait for the water to get back to boiling point. Then turn the heat down to low or a simmer and allow the pasta to cook for another 7 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Drain and refresh with cold water.

3.While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a fry pan and add garlic and chilli. Fry for a few seconds, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn, then add the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms start to brown, add the basil and the wine and allow the flavors to infuse the mushrooms for a further 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the spinach.

4. In the same pan as the mushrooms and spinach, add the pasta, broccoli mash and Parmesan cheese. Combine well with tongs. Salt and pepper as desired, although you’ll find that you probably wont need much salt as there’s salt content in the stock and the cheese. Lastly, drizzle with a good quality virgin olive oil before serving.

Tips

Alternatively you could use feta cheese instead of the Parmesan. If you’d prefer this as a cold dish for picnics or as a packed lunch then I would recommend the former rather than the latter. Once Parmesan has been heated and left cold, it tends to have a funny texture. You could also, leave the cheese out of the last step and just add it in when you’re ready to consume, then you can use either. Pecorino cheese will also work well with this dish.

This can also be made into a non-vegetarian dish. Just fry off some roughly chopped prosciutto with the chilli and garlic and then add the mushrooms and ta-daaa, you have yourself a tasty meat version.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed Cooking With Lee Lee. If you have any questions about the recipe or if you’ve tried my recipe and want to share your thoughts, please leave me a comment.

It’s definitely worth every calorie!

Love Lee Lee =)

Finally Live!!

Well this is super exciting!

Welcome to my beautiful life of food glorious food.

Join me as I explore my relationship with food, the highs and the lows of new recipes, the exciting and wonderful discoveries in unexpected places, the memories that a particular dish can trigger and most of all the love of it all.

Enjoy and remember to always share your Nom Noms =)