Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pan-Fried Tuna with Salsa Verde Over Mashed Potato

Today was a beautiful sunny day on the Gold Coast and so I went down to the marina for lunch at the fish and chip shop that overlooks The Spit.  Whilst waiting for my food I looked around the fresh seafood section and saw fresh tuna which I couldn't resist buying.  So for dinner I made pan-fried tuna with a salsa verde.

The salsa verde can be made in advance which makes this dish a great meal for when you have guests over.  It's very important to let the fish rest for a good few minutes before serving.

Pan-Fried Tuna with Salsa Verde

For salsa verde:
 - 3 tsp drained capers
 - 6 anchovies
 - 1 tbsp mint
 - 3-4 tbsp flat leaf parsley
 - 1/2 lemon, juice
 - 1 clove garlic, crushed
 - 5 - 6 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
 - pinch of salt
 - 1/4 long green chilli
 - 1 tbsp dijon mustard
For tuna
 - tuna steak
 - salt and pepper for seasoning
 - 1 tsp olive oil

1.  For the salsa verde, chop parsley, mint, chilli, anchovies and capers semi-coarsely.  Add lemon juice, mustard, EVOO, crushed garlic and salt and mix thoroughly.

2.  Season the tuna steak with salt and pepper.  Heat a pan on very high heat with a very little olive oil (if using a grill plate/pan oil the steaks) and add the tuna steak.  For a well done tuna steak cook on one side until it has changed colour nearly half way up the steak, turn and wait till the steak has completely changed colour on the edges.  Leave the steak on for 1-2 minutes longer on each side and then allow it to rest off the heat for 4-5minutes.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Leek and Goat Cheese Tart

I was inspired to make this tart from Huey (from Huey's Cooking Adventures).  You can use just leeks but I chose to use a combination of onion and leek.

Leek and Goat Cheese Tarts
 - 1 large leek
 - 1/2 onion
 - 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry
 - soft goat cheese (preferably with a rind)
 - pepper and salt
 - 1 egg yolk
 - 1tsp milk
 - 15g butter

1.  Preheat oven to 180C.  Slice onion finely.  Slice leek in half, wash well and slice finely.
2.  Melt butter in a pan on medium-low heat and add the leeks and onions.  As you are sauteing rather than frying, use a low heat and stir.  Saute until the onions and leeks are translucent.  Add a lot of pepper and season with salt.  Take off the heat
3.  Cut the puff pastry into quarters.  Spoon the leek mixture into the middle of each pastry and flatten it down.  Add a few slices of goat cheese on top of the leek mixture.
4.  Lightly beat the egg yolk and milk and use it to generously coat the outside of the pastries. (see photo)
5.  Place into oven for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry has turned golden and puffy.  Serve.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Asian Style Warm Chicken and Banana Blossom Salad

Banana blossoms are the large deep pink coloured specimens that hang at the end of a banana bunch (see image right, this photo is from it also has a little more info on the banana blossom).  I've only seen them fresh in a vietnamese green grocer on Victoria Street, Richmond in Melbourne, however they are sold canned at most Asian grocers.  I discovered these artichoke like vegetables whilst watching a cooking show about 5 years ago.  Not long after I went to Cookie on Swanston Street, Melbourne and saw banana blossom and chicken salad.  It was served in a VERY spicy vinaigrette but so delicious!

This salad is much nicer served warm.  If you don't have banana blossom, you can still make this salad, however it does add a really interesting texture to the salad.

Asian Style Warm Chicken and Banana Blossom Salad

 - 1/2 a yellow or red capsicum, julienned
 - 1/2 a bunch of coriander, chopped
 - 1/2 a bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
 - 3 kaffir lime leaves, julienned thinly
 - 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
 - 1 can banana blossoms, drained, coarsely cut
 - handful of fried onion or shallots (available from asian grocers)
 - handful of mint, chopped
 - 50g roasted cashews, chopped (or peanuts)
 - 5 chicken tenderloins
 - 1 tbsp kecap manis (indonesian sweet soy sauce)
- 1/2 a packet (approx. 100g) mung bean noodles
 - 4 green onions, chopped finely
 - 1/2 long mild red chilli

 - 3 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
 - 1 tsp brown sugar
 - 1 tsp rice vinegar
 - 1/2 tsp chinese cooking wine
 - 2 tbsp soy sauce
 - 1 tsp Hoi Sin BBQ sauce
 - 1 tbsp Kecap Manis
 - 1 tsp mirin
 - 3-5 drops fish sauce
 - 1-2 tsp Sambal Oeleck (chilli paste)
 - 3 tbsp water

1.  Prepare all the vegetables, nuts and herbs and place in large bowl.

2.  Place noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Let rest for 5 minutes, drain and add to salad bowl.

3.  Heat frying pan on a high heat with a little oil and add chicken, drizzle with kecap manis.  Cook for only a few minutes on either side so the chicken is soft.  Take the chicken off the heat and shred coarsely,  add to the salad bowl.

4.  Add all the ingredients for the sauce to a small saucepan and place over low heat, stir constantly.  Ensure not to use fresh peanut butter as it will not bind well.  Once all the ingredients have mixed together take it off the heat.

5.  Mix the sauce into the salad straightaway.  Serve sprinkled with extra fried onions :)

Nana's Gazpacho

This is my nana, Esther's, recipe.  Dad and I LOVE this soup.  I think we always have seconds!  Such an easy soup to make and perfect for summer.


 - 1 large cucumber, peeled
 - 1 small onion, peeled
 - 1/2 green capsicum
 - 2 sticks celery
 - 2 cans tomato, peeled
 - 2 cloves garlic, crushed
 - 1 1/2 cups tomato juice
 - 1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
 - 1 tbsp olive oil
 - 1-3 tsp tobasco (depending on how spicy you like it)
 - 1/2 bunch coriander
 - 1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
 - salt
 - pepper

1.  Place all ingredients into a processor and blend.  Alternatively cut the vegetables and place all ingredients in a saucepan and use a hand blender.

2.  Place soup in fridge for at least 3 hours before serving.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Russian Eggs

I woke up on my last full day in Melbourne with a bizarre craving for caviar.  I have no idea why or what made me think of this salty delicacy.  However, coincidently, later that day I conveniently overhead mum talking to my grandma, Gaba, about where to buy caviar.  And so after telling mum about my craving she spoilt me and took me to the russian deli on Koornang Rd (Russian Tidbits).  For lunch we indulged in fresh french baguette, good quality butter and caviar.  YUM!

Later that day I remembered about russian eggs, a hors d'oeuvres that was often served at russian parties and always very popular.  This recipe doesn't have exact measurements so just ensure that you try the yolk mixture to see if anything is missing and that it isn't dry.

Russian Eggs

 - 6 eggs, hard boiled, peeled
 - 2 tbsp mayonaise
 - pinch of salt
 - 1/2 tsp paprika
 - 6 tsp red caviar

1.  Cut the eggs in half lengthways and gently scoop out the yolk into a bowl, placing the egg whites aside for later.

2.  Mash the egg yolks and add mayonnaise, paprika and salt.

3.  Very gently place the yolk mixture back into the egg whites.

4.  Add half a tsp of red caviar to the top of each egg (as shown in the photo).  Enjoy!

Banana and Yoghurt Muffins

These muffins are so moist!! They have a very different consistency to your usual muffin.  These muffins don't look particularly amazing however they taste delicious!   This recipe is from  I changed the recipe a little and added cinnamon and used plain flour rather than self raising and tweaked some of the measurements so there wasn't as much oil used.

Banana and Yoghurt Muffins
Makes 15

 - 2 bananas, peeled and mashed (preferably older as they have more flavour and are easier to mash)
 - 1 egg
 - 1 cup yoghurt (I used natural no fat yoghurt)
 - 1/2 cup vegetable oil
 - 1/2 cup white sugar
 - 1 tsp cinnamon
 - 1 1/2 cups flour
 - 1 tsp bicarb soda

1.  Preheat oven to 180C.

2.  In a  bowl mix mashed banana, egg, oil and yoghurt into a smooth mixture.

3.  Add sugar and cinnamon, mix.

4.  Add flour and bicarb, half at a time, mix until just combined.

5.  Place mixture into muffin tin or silicone muffin holders, filling only till 3/4 full.

6.  Place in oven and bake for 25 minutes, test with a skewer.  Take muffins out of oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before eating.  Enjoy!

Lamb Stew

This stew is mum's recipe.  I've never made a stew before and was surprised at just how easy it is to make.  You can use any vegetables for this stew.  It's important to use good quality lamb.  I went to the butcher and asked him for non fatty lamb good for stewing and he cut me up a lovely piece of lamb but I forgot to ask him what cut it was!! Mum used lamb shoulder for this stew.

Lamb Stew

 - 500g lamb for stewing
 - 3 tsp moroccan spice mix (African spice mix can be substituted)
 - 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
 - 1.5 onions, cut in half, sliced
 - 2 cups chicken stock
 - 1 can diced tomatoes
 - 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
 - 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
 - 1/4 cauliflower, cut into small chunks
 - 3/4 cup of lentils
 - 1 tsp paprika
 - 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, powdered
 - 1/2 tsp mixed herbs

1.  Brown half the lamb on a very hot, oiled frying pan.  Add half the moroccan spices to the meat.  Repeat with the other half of the lamb.  Place browned lamb into the bottom of a casserole dish or large saucepan.

2. Throw in the onion and garlic into the original frying pan and brown. Once brown add to the casserole dish.

3.  Pour in chicken stock and tomatoes.   Stir and place over the lowest heat, with a closed lid for 40 minutes.

4.  Add lentils, cauliflower, carrot and potato.  Sprinkle with paprika, cumin, mixed herbs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir gently, cover and return to low heat for 50 minutes.
(Note: if the sauce is has not thickened after 40 minutes, thicken it by taking a few tbsp of the liquid and dissolving 1 tbsp flour and adding it to the stew.)

5.  Serve sprinkled with fresh herbs.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fettuccine with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

This is another simple but delicious dish great for a quick dinner. I recommend using a large frying pan to make the mushroom sauce so not to overcrowd the mushrooms and ensuring they brown, rather than saute. This results in the mushrooms having a beautiful golden colour and the water not being released from the mushrooms

Fettuccine with Creamy Mushroom Sauce
- 2 1cm cubes of butter
- 1 onion
- 6 button mushrooms, sliced very thinly
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp italian herbs
- 3 tbsp cream
- salt and pepper to season

1. Cut onion in half and slice thinly. Over a medium heat melt a little butter and add the onions. Cook until onions are golden.

2. Add the rest of the butter mushrooms and brown until golden.

3. Add paprika and italian herbs and stir.

4. Add cream, stir and reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve mixed with freshly cooked fettuccine. Enjoy

Mixed Berry Tart

As per usual, I was craving something sweet after dinner. I had left over pastry sheets in my freezer from when I made the Spinach Ricotta and Feta Pies and so I made this easy but impressive looking tart. This is great and easy to make if you have unexpected guests or like me you crave a dessert. I love frozen berries, as they are reasonably cheap and are available all year round - I always have some in my freezer and recommend it.

Note that using the square pastry with pastry border enables you to make any type of fruit pie. Cut up some fruit very thinly, place on the pastry and dust with sugar, brush the pastry and bake :).

Mixed Berry Tart

- 1/2 orange
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- small individual packets of frozen berries
- few drops of vanilla essence
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry (I used Palmer's)
- milk for brushing
- sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Squeeze juice of half an orange into a saucepan and add sugar. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.

2. Add frozen berries, vanilla essence and cinnamon; mix and bring to the boil and then let it simmer on medium heat. Simmer for 10 minutes until majority of the liquid has evaporated.

3. Cut a 15cm square out of the pastry. Cut 1cm wide 15cm strips of pastry for the border. Arrange the strips around the square (refer to photo right ). Arrange the pastry on a lined baking tray. Add the berries into the centre of the pastry.

4. Wash the outside of the pastry with milk and sprinkle with caster sugar.

5. Place the tray in the oven for 15 minutes or until the pastry has puffed and golden.

6. *Optional* Whip fresh cream with vanilla essence and serve on top of the hot pastry. Enjoy :)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chinese Chicken and Corn Soup

On Thursday, Nick and I drove down to Byron Bay. Last time we were down there we both became obsessed with the Byron Bay Kebabs which we would eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. You would think we would be sick of them after constantly eating them for 5 days but we both have been craving the juicy marinated beef, fresh salads, flavoursome sauces and the toasted pita bread ever since. And so we went on a half day roadtrip to Byron Bay and indulged in the kebabs on the beach. On the way back we stopped at The Spit in the Gold Coast. This is an area along the marina, at the end of which is a hotspot for fishermen and tourists. Here we watched the sunset over the water, see photo, and worked up an appetite for dinner.

I had left over pieces of chicken tenderloins and was craving soup for dinner so I made this asian style soup. A perfect way to end the day. I'm sure this isn't the correct way of making this soup but none the less it tasted delicious. Use homemade chicken soup if you have it, as it really does make a difference to the taste. I recommend using Real Stock rather than stock cubes if you don't have homemade.

Chinese Chicken and Corn Soup
Serves 2

- 1.5 cups chicken stock
- 1 small can of creamed corn
- 1 small can of sweet corn
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- piece of fresh grated ginger (approx 2/3 size of your thumb)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 chicken tenderloins, cooked and shredded (any cooked chicken can be used)
- 2 green onions, green part only, sliced finely

1. Bring chicken stock to the boil.

2. Add creamed corn, corn, soy and ginger and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Reduce the heat to very low. Have the egg in a small bowl and using a whisk in the soup slowly drizzle the egg into the soup from a 15cm height.

4. Add chicken and green onions and bring to the boil. Take it off the heat and serve. Enjoy

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Exotic Fruit Salad

I made this salad using canned fruit as I was craving fruit salad but couldn't find many exotic fruit at the green grocer. It turned out surprisingly good. Simone came over that night for dinner and brought over some other canned fruit that we added to the salad. This is a lovely and refreshing dessert, which looks and tastes great!

Exotic Fruit Salad

- 1 can lychees
- half fresh paw paw
- 1 can jackfruit
- small punet of strawberries
- 1 can of mango cheeks (use fresh mango if it's available)
- 1 can of logans
- 1 can of pineapple chunks
- 2 sprigs of mint
- 2 teaspoons of sugar

1. Wash and cut paw paw and strawberries into chunks, add to serving bowl

2. Open lychee can and drain syrup into a saucepan. Place the lychees into the serving bowl.

3. Drain the logans and pineapple chunks and add to serving bowl.

4. Drain mango cheeks and jackfruit. Slice them into thin strips and add to the bowl.

5. In the saucepan with the lychee syrup, add the sugar and finely chopped mint. Put it over a very low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the salad and place in the fridge for an hour. Enjoy

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Banana in Coconut Milk

It's been a while since I made anything with coconut and I had a ripe banana that had to be eaten so I decided to make this very simple thai dessert. This is the perfect quick dessert for a cold evening.

Banana in Coconut Milk


- 1 small can of coconut milk (light preferably)
- 1 very ripe banana
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon


1. Dissolve sugar, salt and cinnamon in the coconut milk over medium heat.

2. Slice the banana length ways and into 4-5cm pieces

3. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the bananas and simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes, ensuring the bananas aren't overcooked and fall apart. Serve :)

Parmesan Risotto with a Balsamic Reduction

I was just writing up the recipe for the mushroom risotto and began craving risotto for dinner. I had no mushrooms left so I decided to make parmesan risotto with a balsamic reduction. All the ingredients in this recipe are common ingredients you will find in the kitchen so it's a good dish to make when there's nothing in the pantry.

Parmesan Risotto with Balsamic Reduction

- 1 onion, thinly diced
- 2tsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 cups arborio rice
- 1/4 cups white wine
- 500ml chicken stock
- 1.5/4 cups parmesan
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar


1. Pour stock in a saucepan, bring it to the boil and then keep it on a very low heat to ensure it stays hot.

2. Heat 1tsp of butter and olive oil and add the onions. Fry until they are slightly golden. Add rice and stir for 2 minutes.

3. Add white wine. Stir continuously but gently until all the liquid has evaporated.

4. Add one ladle of the stock to the saucepan and stir continuously until all the liquid evaporates then add another ladle of stock.

5. Repeat step 4 for 20-35 minutes. Taste the rice to test if it is al dente. If the stock runs out, use hot water.

6. Once the rice is al dente add the parmesan, 1tsp butter, salt and pepper and then take it off the heat. Let the rice stand for 3-4 minutes before serving.

7. To make the balsamic reduction, pour the balsamic vinegar into a pan and put on medium-low heat and keep swirling the pan so that the vinegar doesn't burn. COntinue doing so until the vinegar begins to become slightly thicker and has large bubbles. Note that the vinegar will thicken once it cools down slightly.

8. Serve the risotto with the balsamic reduction drizzled over it.

Mushroom Risotto

Simone came over for dinner last week and I made risotto as she has never tried it before. Simone brought over pumpkin soup which was delicious! (see photo below)

Risotto isn't overly difficult to make, just need patience. Using a few dried porcini mushrooms really enhances the flavour of the risotto, but if you don't have them, like me, the risotto is still tasty.

Mushroom Risotto

- 350-400g tray of fresh white mushrooms, washed and sliced very thinly (squeeze a little lemon juice over them)
- 1 onion, diced finely
- 60g butter
- handfull of fresh parsley or coriander, finely chopped
- 900ml chicken stock (I used Real Stock)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1.5 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 3 tbsp grated parmesan


1. Pour stock in a saucepan, bring it to the boil and then keep it on a very low heat to ensure it stays hot.

2. In a large saucepan place 20g of the butter. Stir in the mushrooms and cook them on medium heat until they give up their juices and begin to brown slightly. Remove the mushrooms into a side bowl.

3. Heat another 20g of butter and olive oil and add the onions. Fry until they are slightly golden. Add rice and stir for 2 minutes.

4. Add the mushrooms and white wine. Stir continuously gently until all the liquid has evaporated.

5. Add one ladle of the stock to the saucepan and stir continuously until all the liquid evaporates.

6. Repeat step 5 for 20-35 minutes. Taste the rice to test if it is al dente. If the stock runs out, use hot water.

7. Once the rice is al dente add the parmesan, 20g butter and pepper and then take it off the heat.

8. Let the rice stand for 3-4 minutes before serving. Enjoy

Monday, May 10, 2010

Veal Marsala with Creamy Mushroom Sauce and Potato Mash

Veal is one of my favourite meats but I have never cooked with it but rather ordered it out at restaurants. This is the first time I cooked the veal and it turned out tender and flavoursome. Note that veal doesn't need a lot of different flavours, it doesn't freeze well and it only needs a few minutes on each side to cook through, any longer and it will become tough.

Veal Marsala
- 2 veal, schnitzel or 4 escalopes
- 50g of flour
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- 4 tablespoons marsala
- 4 tablespoons stock (i used chicken real stock)
- 40g butter

1. Spread flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the veal in the flour.

2. Heat the pan. Add butter. Once the foam of the butter subsides, place the veal onto the pan. Cook for a few minutes on each side and remove from pan.

3. Turn down the heat to medium heat. Add the marsala and stock to the pan. Scrape the meat and flour residue from the pan and let the sauce cook for 3 -4 minutes.

4. Pour the sauce over the meat and serve.

Butter Chicken

Nick was up in the Gold Coast a few weeks ago and one night Simone and her friend from Melbourne, Neetu, came over for dinner. I decided to make butter chicken for dinner. Nick and I are obsessed (to say the least) with butter chicken from a local Indian restaurant near Nick called Indian Palace. Just thinking of it is making my mouth water.

This recipe is from a magazine article which I have kept from about 8 years - finally I have made it. The sauce is not as thick and creamy as from Indian Palace but it does have some wonderful flavours. (To bruise the cardamon pods, press on them with a knife until the outer layer splits.)

Butter Chicken
- 750g diced chicken breast (or thigh fillets)
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2tsp garam masala
- 2tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 2 tsp paprika
- 140g yoghurt
- 80g butter (I used about 50g)
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 410g can tomato puree (I used canned chopped tomatoes as I didn't have puree, however I do recommend using the puree)
- 180ml chicken stock
- 5 cardamon pods
- 1 cinnamon sticks
- 250ml cream

1. Marinate the chicken in a bowl with garlic, garam masala, coriander, cumin, chilli powder, paprika and yoghurt for at least 3 hours.

2. Melt butter in a saucepan and add marinated chicken. Stir for 10 minutes

3. Add bruised cardamon pods, vinegar, chicken stock, cinnamon, tomato puree and tomato paste and mix well. Bring to the boil and then simmer it for 30 minutes (or until the sauce starts to thicken slightly).

4. Stir in the cream and let it cook for another 5-10 minutes.

5. Serve on rice with naan or chapati bread for dipping. Enjoy :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Homemade Gnocchi

I spent an entire day last week making an unreasonably large amount of fresh gnoochi. I would recommend only making this recipe if you have a few hours to spare and you have a mouli (a hand operated grater). I don't have a mouli and so I spent a very long time mashing up the potatoes, first with a potato masher and then with a fork to ensure no lumps - highly unrecommended process which is boring, slow and tiring.

I eventually made the gnoochi and froze majority of it. Don't do it! They freeze together and form a blob of gnoochi dough which have to be re-rolled and cut into shape again.

This recipe, however does make very light fluffy gnocchi, which are delicious. This recipe comes from Alex Herbert, the head chef and owner of Bird Cow Fish in New South Wales.

Potato Gnocchi

- 1.5kg desiree potatoes (pink skin with yellow flesh)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp grated parmesan
- 125g plain flour
-salt and pepper

1. Place unpeeled potatoes with cold water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to medium and let the potatoes simmer for 30 minutes. (Use a skewer to check if they're cooked completely but avoid doing this too often so that the potatoes don't become water logged)

2. Take potatoes out of the water and wrap in a tea towel. Leave for 10 minutes for the potatoes to dry properly.

3. Peel potatoes (best way is cutting the potatoes in half and the skin should peel off very easily) and pass them through a mouli grater. Place the grated potatoes, eggs, salt, pepper and parmesan and mix gently. Sieve the flour into the bowl and gently fold. (I highly recommend sifting the flour as this aerates the flour and makes the gnocchi light and fluffy.

4. Flour a cutting board and place about 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture and roll out into a sausage shape with a thickness of about 1.5cm. Cut each sausage into 2cm pieces and roll in flour.

5. Cook the gnocchi in boiling salted water for 3 - 5 minutes.

I made a four cheese sauce to serve with the gnocchi however I didn't record the amounts but it was made from butter, milk, blue cheese, parmesan, tasty, Kraft cheddar cheese (best cheese for sauces as it melts into a homogenous mixture - thanks Nick), salt, pepper, oregano and cream.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chicken Satay Skewers

Two friends, Simone and Sam came over for dinner the other night. One thing about living by myself that I don't like, is eating dinners alone and so Simone and I try to have at least one dinner together a week. This time I made chicken satay skewers served on rice. My pots are very low quality and therefore rice doesn't cook very well in them (last time was a bit of a disaster) and so Simone brought over her rice cooker. Sam brought his mum's coleslaw which was delicious! Dinner was followed with creme caramel, the recipe is in the post below.

The recipe for the satay sauce is not very accurate as I made it up as I went along and completely forgot to write down the amounts. So if making it, dont be afraid to add more or less of certain ingredients to your liking. I made the satay sauce before dinner and warmed it up on the stove at dinner adding a little water to thin it out a bit.

Chicken Satay Skewers

- 500g chicken breast one minute steaks
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- wooden skewers

Satay Sauce
- oil for frying
- 1 clove of crushed garlic
- 2 baby onions or 1 small brown onion or 4 shallots
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter
- 1 small can of light coconut milk (165ml)
- 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon kecap manis
- juice of a 1/4 lemon or 1/2 lime


1. Cut lengthways each chicken steak into three pieces and skewer them onto the wooden sticks.

2. Mix crushed garlic cloves, fish sauce and ginger and rub onto the chicken skewers. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

3. For the sauce, cut the onions very finely (you don't want the onion to give any texture to the sauce but rather just flavour). Add the garlic and onion to a pan over medium heat. Stir regularly.

4. Cool till onion is lightly golden and then add the brown sugar. Caramelise the onion for 5 minutes and then add the peanut butter, coconut milk, soy sauce, kecap manis and juice of lemon or lime. Stir until the peanut butter has melted and all the ingredients have been incorporated. Take off heat.

5. To cook the chicken skewers, heat a large heavy based frying pan and olive oil on medium-high heat. Place the skewers on the hot pan and seal the chicken for a minute on each side. Continue to cook for a few more minutes until the chicken is just cooked. (The best way to do so, is ensuring the sides of the skewers, not exposed to the frying pan, is no longer pink. Wait a minute after this moment)

6. Serve the chicken skewers with a generous amount of the satay sauce poured over.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Auntie Debbie's Creme Caramel

This recipe was given to me by my aunty Debbie. She made it for dessert once when I was visiting Perth and it was so delicious I had to get the recipe off her, however I had never had the chance to make it though. I came across the recipe when I was looking through my recipe book and a few friends were coming around for dinner so I made it for dessert.

This dessert is light and very morish. Note that the pot in which you make the caramel needs to be soaked overnight with water and dishwasher powder. The caramel will come off very easily, if not soaked it takes a lot of scrubbing! Make sure you cool the milk for the custard, otherwise the eggs will be cooked by the milk.

Debbie's Creme Caramel

- 200g caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 6 eggs
- 1L of milk
- 150g caster sugar
- few drops of vanilla essence

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC

2. Place sugar (200g) and water in a pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally until all the sugar is melted and turns to a slightly golden colour.

3. Pour caramel over the bottom of a round pan. Don't be to worried if the caramel doesn't cover the entire pan before it sets as during the cooking process the caramel will even out

4. Pour milk with vanilla essence in a pot over medium heat until it boils. Take off heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

5. Beat eggs with the sugar with an electric hand mixer until just combined. Pour milk into the egg mixture and whisk well.

6. Pour the egg mixture through a sieve into the tin

7. Place the tin into a cold water bath and place into the oven for 1 hour.

8. Cool. Turn the mould out onto a plate and serve. Enjoy :)

Asian Style Steamed Snapper

I made this snapper dish for dinner tonight. I was at work all day and was tired and hungry when I came home and this meal was quick and easy to make and tastes and looks great. In the past I have always made this dish with whole snapper and with white wine rather than soy sauce and cooking rice wine. The great thing about this dish is that not all the ingredients are necessary and many can be substituted. I was only cooking for one but the recipe can easily be doubled and the exact amounts of each ingredient aren't essential.

Steamed Asian Snapper

- 125g snapper fillet
- 1/4 hot red chilli, sliced thinly
- 1cm cube of fresh ginger, sliced thinly
- small clove of garlic, sliced thinly
- 1 coriander root, sliced
- 1/4 lemon (half slice thinly and other half used for lemon juice)
- 3 sprigs of coriander
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cooking rice wine
- salt and pepper
- one teaspoon olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 180ºC

2. Prepare all ingredients as stated in the ingredients above. Place in the middle of a sheet of aluminium sheet evenly, half the chilli, ginger, garlic, coriander root, sliced lemon, coriander.

3. Place fillet on top of the ingredients. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Squeeze lemon juice over the snapper. Place the rest of the ingredients over the snapper.

4. Fold the aluminium foil over the snapper, so that the steam from the wine and soy sauce steams the fish.

5. Place in oven for 25-30 minutes.

6. Serve with coconut rice. Enjoy

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Apple and Sultana Pie

I was feeling like making something sweet and fruity and the only fruit I had were apples and oranges and so I decided to make apple pie. The pastry recipe is from Donny Hay's cooking book 'Seasons' however I have halved the amount. This is such a simple pie to make and has only a few ingredients.

Apple and Sultana Pie
Serves 4


- 85g plain flour
- 1/2 tablespoon caster sugar
- a pinch of bicarb powder
- 60g butter
- 25g cold water
- 4 apples, peeled, cored and cut into cubes (I used red delicious however it will taste better with tart green apples)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 35g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- handfull of sultanas (less or more is ok)
- a few drops of vanilla essence

- 1 tablespoon milk for brushing
- extra caster sugar for sprinkling


1. Preheat oven to 180ºC

2. For the pastry, combine flour, bicarb and sugar in a bowl. Add cubed butter and use hand mixer to combine until it resembles breadcrumbs.

3. Gradually add the water whilst beating the mixture with the hand mixer until a smooth dough is formed.

4. Place the dough in cling wrap and into the fridge for 30 minutes.

5. For the filling, place the apple and lemon juice into a fry pan on medium heat and close for 10 minutes.

6. Take it off the heat and mix in gently the sultanas, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla essence.

7. Roll out the dough with extra flour. Place over the apple mixture in the fry pan. Ensure the dough covers all of the filling. Brush the dough with milk and sprinkle with caster sugar.

8. Place in oven for 35-45 minutes, until the pastry is cooked. Serve with fresh cream.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spinach,Ricotta and Feta Pie

This spinach pie is without question my favourite pie! Mum would make this pie late at night when I was young and I remember helping her put the egg wash over the pies before they went into the oven. Often I would stay up in bed waiting for the pies to finish cooking so I could have a little bit when they were still hot from the oven. I still remember the anticipation and excitement I felt when I knew mum was making it. This pie is my ultimate comfort food and brings back lots of memories.

I made 6 pies at home a few days ago and froze majority of them. They freeze well and are a great meal when there's nothing to eat in the house. Up north, here in the Gold Coast, there is no spinach except baby spinach leaves (and even they are rare to find), so I used a mixture of silver beet and baby spinach leaves.

Spinach, Ricotta and Feta Pie

- 1 big bunch of spinach (or silver beet)
- 1 bunch of spring onion
- 1 bunch of dill
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons rice
- 2 pieces of greek feta (bought fresh from supermarket deli)
- 200g fresh ricotta
- 6 frozen puff pastry sheets (I used Pampers)
- handfull of coriander and parsley (optional)


1. Wash spinach leaves thoroughly. Place leaves and a little bit of the stalk in a colander and add salt. Squash the spinach with your hands and leave to drain for 15 minutes. Take out the puff pastry from the freezer and leave to thaw at room temperature.

2. Preheat oven to 200ºC.

3. Meanwhile in a large bowl add broken up ricotta and feta, 4 eggs, rice, oil, sliced dill, spring onion, parsley and coriander. Squeeze out all the water from the spinach leaves and add to bowl. Mix thoroughly.

4. Lay out one piece of puff pastry and add approximately 3-4 large tablespoons of the filling into the middle of the pastry. Fold the pastry into thirds so that a rectangular pastry is formed (refer to photo). Using a fork close down the ends of the pastry. Repeat this for all the pastry sheets.

5. Place on a baking tray a few cm apart and brush with egg white wash.

6. Place in 200ºC oven for 10 minutes and then turn the heat down to 180ºC and cook for another 30 minutes.

7. Take the pies out of the oven and let them cool a little bit before eating. Enjoy

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Mixed Berry Sauce

Panna cotta - my FAVOURITE dessert! I still remember the first time I tried the creamy, gelatinous dessert in Bologna. Ever since then I have ordered panna cotta for dessert when ever it is on the menu. My favourite (and I think my family will agree) was in Sienna from a local ice cream shop. The panna cotta was light and creamy and not to gelatinous - my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I remember the first time I made panna cotta, many years ago and learnt that milk and cream boils and overflows very fast if it isn't watched. This is probably my signature recipe among family and friends.

There's a few things to watch out on when making the dish - the best way to scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean is to split the bean and using the blunt side of the knife, slide along the bean. When beating the cream I usually ensure that the cream is thick enough to hold its form, this allows to use a small amount of gelatine.

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Mixed Berry Sauce

Panna Cotta
- 600ml pouring cream
- 90g caster sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 sheets of leaf gelatine (5 grams each)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mixed Berry Sauce
- 500g Frozen Mixed Berries
- Juice of 1 orange
- 4 tablespoons of sugar

1. Add 300ml of cream, sugar, scraped vanilla seeds and vanilla bean and stir and bring just to the boil. Remove the vanilla bean and set aside to cool.

2. Place gelatine leaves in cold water for 3 minutes and squeeze out gelatine. Place gelatine in the vanilla cream mixture and stir, using a hand whisk, till the gelatine dissolves. Place the mixture over a bowl of cold water and gently whisk till thickens and cools down.

3. In a separate bowl add the remaining 300ml of cream and vanilla essence and whisk till soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream bit by bit into the vanilla cream mixture.

4. Place the mixture into moulds that have been greased lightly with oil. Place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

5. For the berry sauce, place orange juice and sugar into a saucepan and heat until sugar had completely dissolved. Add frozen berries (you could use fresh berries or a mixture of both fresh and frozen). Let it cook for 10-15 minutes. Cool at room temperature.

6. Serve Panna cotta out of the moulds drizzled with the berry sauce. Enjoy!

Breaky with Sam

A few weeks back I met up with a friend in Melbourne and we went for breakfast in Camberwell at Georges Cafe. It was early and we were the only patrons at the cafe and therefore the service was quick. We both ordered soy lattes, which weren't very good - the coffee was burnt and the milk too hot. However the food made up for it. Sam ordered buttermilk pancakes stack with lemon syrup and icecream. They were fluffy and light and the lemon syrup was just the right balance of sweetness and bitterness. YUM! I ordered the bircher muesli which was excellent. The muesli was moist and soft and was served with banana, berries, yoghurt and lightly caramelised almonds. However the food was overpriced for the quality.

It was a lovely breakfast with good company.

Georges Restaurant Bar Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 9, 2010


Nick and I spent last week in Byron Bay for the Blues and Roots festival - Bluesfest. It was AMAZING! Spending most of the days at the festival we had little choice but to eat the greasy fast food from the stalls. So once we returned to the Gold Coast we were both craving a home cooked meal and so I cooked dahl.

This recipe is great when you haven't been to the supermarket for a while as all the ingredients don't go off easily. It's very quick and easy to make and makes a hearty meal.

I find it much easier for this recipe to prepare all the ingredients before starting to cook and therefore in the ingredients I have written what to do with the ingredients prior to cooking. I soaked the lentils and dhal for a few hours in cold water but this is not necessary as it only makes the pulses cook quicker.

Variations - this dish can be made using just red lentils or add four bean mix.
- substitute potatoes for pumpkin or sweet potato
- add a few spinach leaves at the end
- use chicken or onion stock instead of vegetable stock

- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic
- 2 bay leaf
- 1-2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons of curry powder
- 2/3 cup of red lentils
- 1/3 cup of chana dhal (split chickpeas, available at supermarkets)
- small tin of coconut milk
- vegetable stock cube
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 potatoes, chopped into small cubes
- salt

1. Slice onion thinly. Fry the onions, garlic and bay leaf in olive oil till lightly golden.

2. Add ginger and curry powder and fry on medium heat for 5 minutes

3. Add lentils and chana dahl and fry for 3 minutes, stirring continuously

4. Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water and add to the pan along with the coconut milk and potatoes and stir.

5. Leave the dhal to cook on low heat for 50-60 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn't stick to the pan. If the dahl isn't cooked add slightly more boiling water and cook for 10-15 minutes covered. Add salt if needed, some stock cubes are very salty and therefore the dahl won't need extra salt.

6. Serve with plain yoghurt and naan bread.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Gedera - Sri Lankan Restaurant

Before I moved to the Gold Coast, Nick and I discovered a little Sri Lankan restaurant next to Monash University, Caufield called Gedera. It is a popular take away place for students and locals alike, most likely due to their large serves, delicious food and cheap prices. The staff are friendly and are passionate about the food they make. The first time we went here, all the dishes were explained to us and particular dishes were recommended.

On Wednesdays and Saturdays, Hoppers are available. Hoppers aren't as I had first thought, grasshoppers but are actually very thin bowl shaped pancakes. The first time we went here I tried the string hoppers biriyani - a stirfry of sliced hoppers with vegetables, beef and spices. The food is all fresh and made to order (even though there is an empty hot food display at the counter).

Last night Nick and I went for a quick dinner to Gedera and both ordered Roti Chanai, Nick's with chicken and mine with lamb. The dish came with roti, dry coconut relish, dhal and lamb/chicken (see photo above). The lamb was so tender and had a really flavoursome sauce. The coconut relish matched perfectly!!

For dessert we had wattalapam, a typical Sri Lankan coconut, eggy custard with a distinctive palm sugar taste. Last night it was particularly tasty.

This is a great restaurant for a quick, delicious and cheap meal!

17 Derby Rd
Caulfield East VIC

Gedera on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dino's Deli Breaky

I arrived in Melbourne late last night and this morning went out for breaky with Nick and the family. We went to Dino's Deli on Chapel Street. Last time I was in Melbourne I went here with friends for tapas and throughly enjoyed myself. The restaurant is split into several rooms, all with different themes - there's the 'library' with a brandy cabinet and books drawn onto the wall; the wine room surrounded by empty bottles of stunning wines and a red room. Even though the restaurant was full, it still felt very intimate. The drink menu has an extensive list of wines, brandys and liquors. The food menu has a page dedicated to explanation of the different pigs and the history of each breed used for Jamon.

The same waiter that served us last time served us today. We suspect that he is the owner. It was excellent service and the drinks and food all came quickly.

I had a soy latte before breakfast and it was one of the best coffees, if not the best coffee, I've had in a long time. The coffees came out all the same temperature, noticed by Nick, even though one was soy and the other normal milk; and the froth was thick and creamy.

Dad ordered a non-alcoholic 'Bloody Gazpacho' made from tomatoes, fresh chilli, basil, garlic and worcestershire sauce. It tasted really great! Mum, Rachel and I all ordered Spanish Toast (just like French Toast) with Arrope and Poached Fruit. The arrope is a sweet Spanish kompot of sweet potato, pears, apples and cinnamon with a lovely texture to it, which matched perfectly with the toast. Last time I was at Dino's we ordered a French cheese which was served with the arrope.

Nick ordered eggs florentine and I have to say they were the best eggs florentine I have EVER had!!! Everything about it was just perfect. I think I might go back tomorrow morning and order myself one of these. Even though the menu didn't have porridge, dad ordered it. Our waiter said he has it made for him for breakfast and therefore the chef was able to make it. I didn't try any however dad did say that it was one of the best porridges he's had in Melbourne.

Highly recomment this restaurant for breakfast, dinner or after dinner drinks and tapas!
Dino's Deli on Urbanspoon

Simone & Katia's Miso Salmon

The other night a friend, Simone, that lives around the corner came over for dinner. She brought over some lovely salmon steaks which we marinated in the left over sweet miso sauce I made for the eggplants (see Nasu Dengaku post below). We grilled the salmon and served it with sushi rice and salad - YUM! Ensure you rest the salmon for the same amount of time it was in the grill. This ensures the salmon cooks through.

Simone brought over logans and jelly. I love jelly!!! This one was no exception - the mango jelly crystals were from the asian grocers and Simone had put lychees in it before it set.

Sweet Miso Salmon

Sweet Miso Marinade
- 1/2 cup red miso paste
- 1 cup dashi
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoon mirin
- 3-4 teaspoons flour or 2 teaspoons of corn starch

- 2 salmon steaks with skin on

1. Use a double boiler to make the sauce. Dissolve sugar and mirin and then add all the miso and use a whisk to mix.

2. Gradually add the dashi, whisking until it is all completely dissolved and mixed.

3. Add the flour and whisk to ensure no lumps. Take off the heat and let cool and thicken.

4. I cut the salmon steaks in half long-ways so they cook evenly. Marinate the salmon in the miso sauce for 15 minutes.

5. Place in hot grill, skin side up. I cooked mine for about 5 minutes but the time will vary depending on your grill. As soon as the skins starts becoming crispy take the salmon out and rest it on a plate for the same time that you cooked it for.

6. Serve with sushi rice (available dry at supermarkets) and salad. You can also serve it with any remaining sauce that wasn't used for the marinade.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mums' Russian Pancakes

Mum makes these delicious cottage cheese pancakes all the time. She would make them for us for supper. Friends who were lucky enough to try them, would always ask to be re-invited when the next batch were made. They really are that good!! They are a traditional russian dish called 'Tvorozhniki'.

Since I moved out I've been craving them so I decided to make them tonight. Of course they are not the same as mum's however they still are yummy. I put in 2 eggs which would have been fine with about twice as much cottage cheese so I added plain yoghurt. If you want to make the recipe the traditional way the best way would be to place only one egg instead of two and no yoghurt or alternatively you can use only yoghurt.

Serves 2-3

- 200 grams cottage cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon plain yoghurt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3-4 tablespoons flour
- sultanas (optional)
- oil or butter or margarine for frying


1. Beat eggs lightly in a bowl. Add cottage cheese and yoghurt and mix.

2. Add vanilla extract and sugar - mix.

3. Add one spoonful of flour at a time and mix. You may need to use slightly more or less flour depending on the consistency of the cottage cheese and yoghurt. You want the mixture to be not very runny but also not doughy.

4. If using, add sultanas and mix

5. Heat oil on frying pan on medium-high. Place one tablespoon of the mixture onto the frying pan - depending on the size of your frying pan you can do a few. Wait till you see slight bubbling at the sides of the pancakes and then turn them over.

6. Serve with cream or yoghurt, jam or fresh fruit