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 :)