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.