Top Food Blogs

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Thai Salmon Cakes with Sweet Ginger and Chilli Sauce

Last year whilst staying at Peregian Beach, for our bi annual Big Chill Weekend with our Queensland friends, my gal pals and I , decided to stay on for a few extra days. Having eaten at the Spirit House at Yandina many times we were very keen to do a cooking course there. So Shelley, Angela, Fiona, Pip and I  spent the day with the Katrina Ryan, one of the cooking school chefs. She has worked alongside Neil Perry and was a fabulous teacher, we loved our day with her and came home very inspired! Make sure you do a course from the many on offer if you are having a holiday at Noosa.

We all purchased goodies from the shop after our class and I  bought the frozen curry pastes back to Sydney in a cooler bag . Delicious and so convenient, they come in individual sachets of Red, Green and Yellow pastes. This is what inspired me for the recipe. All of the ingredients I had in the pantry or fridge. Fresh fish is of course beautiful , but I was using what I had at hand.The sauce was made from a bottle of Buderim  Sweet Ginger Sauce, also from Queensland! There are many readily available chilli with ginger sauces you can substitute.

2  400 gram Tins Salmon
1 small red onion chopped
2 sachets of Spirit House Red Curry Paste or 60 grams of a bottled prepared Red Curry Paste
1 tablespoon Fish Sauce
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 egg
 ½ cup mashed potato for binding

Remove the salmon from the tin and place into a large mixing bowl. I also remove the black skin and the tiny row of bones you will find running through the middle of the salmon
Mix all of the ingredients together and form into rissoles or small cakes, Set aside in the fridge.You may crumb them if you wish, which I do if I have crumbs handy. When ready, fry them gently each side in a shallow pan with a little rice bran oil. I like to use this as it has a high smoking point.
Serve with the sauce. I served it with light salad of greens, cherry tomatoes, toasted almonds, lots of chopped mint and coriander and very thinly sliced orange quarters. Now it is getting colder you may like vegetables and mash.

1 tablespoon Chilli sauce from a bottle
3 tablespoons Sweet Ginger Sauce 
1 tablespoon Fish Sauce 

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Morning After Frittata

We have all said it and many times " there is no food in the house " or for the children we have all heard them say many times " there is nothing to eat " . Of course there is, just nothing instantly gratifying that perhaps comes out of a packet .
My 25 year old son James, came into the kitchen on Sunday morning and announced the fridge was emptier than his wallet after the day at the races ! Never one to shy away from cooking and perhaps aided by the fact he had a raging hangover, he proceeded to pull ingredients out and set to work!
He is a very good cook and from "nothing to eat"   he concocted this fabulous frittata. He has given me the recipe to share. Fixes a hangover in no time, he assures me!

5 Eggs
½ Sweet Potato
2 Bacon Rashers
7 Cherry Tomatoes
½ Cup Peas
2 Knobs of Butter

Boil the kettle and get a saucepan ready on the stove. Halve the tomatoes and set aside. Peel and dice the sweet potato into bite size chunks. Pour the water into the saucepan, add the sweet potato and continue to boil on high, till cooked.
Handful of Parsley
1 Tblsp of Caramelized Onion
1 Clove of Garlic
50g of Feta
Salt and Pepper


Turn the grill on high (or the oven to grill mode)
In a medium sized pan-fry the bacon until cooked but not crispy, and set aside.
Once the potato is tender, drain it and throw it into the pan with the bacon fat and add some S&P. Whilst the potato is frying give the bag of frozen peas a bang on the bench to loosen them up, after the potato has had a few minutes pour your peas on top of the potato, add a knob of butter and keep frying until cooked through. Set the potatoes and peas aside.
I used caramelized onion I found in the fridge. If you don’t have any, it’s easy to make, slice some onion, throw it into the pan, and add some balsamic vinegar and brown sugar – done. If you couldn’t be bothered some raw red onion will suffice.
Finely chop the parsley and the garlic clove. In the same pan you’ve been using melt another generous knob of butter, add the parsley and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the potato and pea mix, the tomatoes and the onion and give it a stir. Tear the bacon rashers up and throw them on top and let the ingredients cook for a moment while you prepare the eggs.
Crack 5 eggs into a bowl and whisk together, then pour straight into the pan over the ingredients. Now you have to let the frittata sit and cook, turn the heat down to medium and don’t stir it. You’ll notice it start to cook around the edges.
At this point I went for a forage in the fridge and found some Feta cheese, goats cheese would also be excellent but I’m guessing that’s not going to be in a lot of fridges. I crumbled the Feta into the pan (you could sprinkle any cheese in) and waited until the sides were cooked through. Now the sides will look cooked but you will notice the middle is still very runny, take the pan off the stove and put it under the grill, for 1- 5 minutes depending on the heat of your grill. This will finish off the middle of the frittata and melt your cheese. 

Monday, 14 May 2012

Chicken Spinach and Pancetta Ravioli in White Wine and Pea Sauce

Today I had a craving for pasta, which I really love. I found all of the ingredients in the cupboard or fridge except for the gow gee wrappers. These are now readily available at most supermarkets and come in packets of 30. I do have a pasta machine, but pushed for time these little beauties do just as well and taste not quite but nearly the same as pasta. They look like dumplings when finished.This mixture will make 40-45 pieces. Two packets of wrappers or one and half. Serves 4-6 people. You can play around with ingredients, I had all of this at hand and nothing is exact. Give it a try ! One thing I would say be careful with salt. The pancetta, chicken if bought cooked and stock, if using a cube are all salty ,so taste before adding any !  Really easy and very smart !

1 packet of gow gee wrappers ( round in shape )
100 grams of cooked chicken ( leftover barbequed chicken or buy a quarter cooked )
200 grams of chopped spinach or four large leaves ( silver beet is fine too )
100 grams of pancetta ( I used half pancetta and half speck, ham would be fine too )
30 grams grated parmesan and extra for serving
1 egg


1 clove garlic crushed
50 grams butter
5 tablespoons frozen peas
5 tablespoons chicken stock ( I used Campbell's  )
1/2 cup white wine
300 mls light cream

Steam the chopped spinach, drain and squeeze out any excess water. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Process until combined and set aside in the fridge for 1/2 hour. The mixture must be cool to work with or the gow gee wrapper will stretch or tear. You may chop all the ingredients, before adding the egg, but you would have to do it quite finely.
Now the work part...
Place a heaped teaspoon of the mixture in the middle of each wrapper. You can do about 6 at a time.
Fold in half, like the shape of a moon and moisten the edge with a small amount of water. This will help it to stick together. I do it with a washed finger you can use a small brush! Press firmly together and set aside,on a dish covered until ready to use. Try not to overlap them too much or they will stick together and the pastry will tear. Continue until you have all completed. You can make these well ahead.
Boil a large pot of salted water as you would for pasta. Whilst waiting for it to boil, make the sauce.

Saute the garlic in the butter add the chicken stock and frozen peas and simmer for a minute. Add the wine and cream , stirring and simmering gently for a minute or two. If you  cook it for longer the sauce will  reduce and thicken, you can add more stock or wine to thin it out. Turn off whilst cooking the ravioli.

Cook the ravioli in the boiling water until it rises to the top of the pot. It is exactly the same as any fresh pasta. It only takes a couple of minutes to cook. Turn on the sauce to heat whilst draining the pasta.
Serve on flat plates drizzle over the sauce and top with grated parmesan.


Saturday, 12 May 2012

Chicken and Leek Pie and Happy Mothers Day

I have just read an article in the paper by Richard Glover, about mothers and all the things we say to our children and I did have a chuckle. I am sure I've said everything he wrote including, ' Eat your greens they will make you big and strong " which really means, if you don't eat your greens you will eat biscuits and go totally hyper at about 8.25pm when I want to watch my show on TV. It did make me ponder the silly things I've said to my children over the years, in relation to food. ( and lots of other subjects )
At 25, 23 and 19 years old, my children like to remind me of these sayings and just quietly,I still say them !
"DON'T open those biscuits you will eat them ! ( looking at me askance, well isn't that why you bought them ? )  DON'T finish all the meat, your brother will want some when he gets home..... (well he isn't here now so too bad ! ) DON'T open that dip I am saving it in case the girls come over for a drink ( No one comes and the dip has to be thrown out 1 month later ) DON'T eat leftover pizza for breakfast it's not good for you ( why was it good for me last night, when you were going out and didn't want to cook ?) there are so many  more and we do have a laugh, I am sure you all have a lot more funny sayings ( would love to hear them ?? )
For all those gorgeous children,who may want to cook for their Mum for a change, this is an easy dish to prepare and she will be so impressed ! Happy Mothers Day to all X

6 chicken thigh fillets
1 large leek
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 bacon rashers
1 tablespoon plain flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4  - 1/2 cup cream
Fresh thyme, salt and pepper
Ready made puff pastry or homemade
Sesame seeds for decoration if desired
1 beaten egg for the wash

Preheat oven to 180 C
Wash  and chop the leek finely. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.
Chop the bacon coarsely.
In a fry pan, saute the bacon first, for a minute or two, stirring constantly, add the leeks and garlic and continue stirring for another minute. remove from the pan and set aside . Add the chicken pieces and cook until white and just cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside with the bacon and leeks, same dish is fine.
Add some butter, approx a tablespoon, allow to melt and stir in the flour and mix to a paste, add the stock and blend. Return chicken, bacon, leeks and garlic mix to the pan , add the cream and seasonings and simmer gently for a minute or two. You may add more stock at this point, if you feel the mixture is too dry, or alternatively, cook it for a little longer if you feel it is too wet. This will probably be different each time you cook it depending on the size of the thighs. Allow the mixture to cool completely before assembling the pie.
Arrange the defrosted pastry on the bottom of a greased pie dish or any oven proof dish and fill it with the chicken mixture. Top the mixture with a second sheet, making sure you seal the edges. Brush the top of the pie with an egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds,if using. Cook for 30-40 minutes until golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with mash and vegetables or a salad !

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Restaurants and Fab Finds

Last week, I had the pleasure of being invited to the soft opening of a new restaurant 414 or 4 Fourteen in Surry Hills. It has the Four in Hand and Paddington Arms boys at the helm, with Colin Fassnidge in the kitchen. It is a very cool space with a bar running through the centre, where you can sit and have a drink. Not far from the pub idea!
We didn't choose our meals, but sampled many yummy dishes. Keeping the tradition of  Four Food there was a few offal dishes on the menu. Normally not my favourite, I absolutely loved the Crumbed Pigs Tail with a Crab and Corn salad and Avocado Puree. The other entree, which I have been dreaming about, was a Pork Parfait and Quince Chutney sandwiched between a piece of crispy Tortilla on the bottom and a crispy skinned Chicken Wing on top ( just the meatiest part ) to die for! Not something most would do at home ! Mixed Grain salad was fabulous too.Mains were served in cast iron pots, centre of table to share. Desserts were gorgeous, and I am not a dessert girl. White Chocolate Sandwich with Vanilla Cucumber had us all talking. I would love to go back and try the Suckling Pig or Licorice " Beef and Bone ".
The staff were very attentive and knowledgeable. Wine list was broad, and we had some great reds! As I wasn't ordering, and by that stage I was trying to take in all the food, I can't tell you what they were. We did feel there should have been a wine under $59 on the list, however menu prices were very reasonable.

Also dined at Flying Fish, always beautiful. Love the position on the water at Jones Bay Wharf. The restaurant fit out is stunning, in a former maritime warehouse and the staff are so attentive. I had Line caught Snapper with White Sri Lankan Curry sauce, parsley mallum and date and tamarind. If you haven't been you must try it soon and watch him on TV.... Peter Kuruvita !

I found these little piping bags in Woolworths not long ago! My friends, with little girls who love making and decorating cupcakes, probably have everything associated with the art, you can buy. For those of us who haven't succumbed to the complete cake decorating set, try these. Not expensive, but you may find it's not your thing. I think it's fun, and it doesn't have to be cakes, what about canapes? Impress the guests with a very professional looking tray of canapes, mini tart shells or toasts with piped fillings . Only bound by imagination !

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Moist Date Slice

This slice is called many different names depending where it came from. It is known as Nanna's Slice, Fathers Favourite, Annie's Slice, Lexie's Slice, my friend Tor makes it with cherries, and Di makes it with apricots ! Obviously a winner!
It has obviously been around for ever, as it is in my Grandmothers cook book. It is very easy and yes you can use whatever dried fruit you have in the cupboard. I have used apricots and sultanas, currants, cherries, and mixed fruit, as an alternative.You could also try 1 cup fruit and 1/2 cups nuts!
Try a different combination each time you make it and see which one is your favourite.

1 cup coconut
1 cup self raising flour
1 cup soft brown sugar
125 gram butter
1 egg
1 1/2 cups chopped dates and raisins whole, about 3/4 cup each

Melt butter and sugar together in saucepan, stirring continuously. Set aside to cool slightly.
Place all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, add egg and mix in melted butter and sugar. Line a 11 x 7 inch tin with baking paper and spread evenly with mixture.Cook at 160C for 30 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Sweet Potato and Cumin Soup

This hearty soup is almost a meal in itself. Its thick and full of flavour and is slightly Indian in taste. I serve it with pappadums and a cucumber and coriander yoghurt . The recipe makes a lot, it can be made well ahead of time and is fine to freeze. If you would like it a thinner consistancy pour some cream or milk into it just before reheating to serve.

1/3 cup peanut oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 medium sized onion chopped
2 cm piece of ginger pelled and chopped or grated
1 small red chilli seeded and chopped or a teaspoon of minced chilli ( if you don't like chilli leave this out )
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
2 tomatoes chopped
2 large sweet potato approx 1 kilo peeled and chopped into rounds and halved or quartered
1 litre vegetable stock
1 cup yoghurt
1/2 cucumber peeled and seeded
handfulof chopped coriander

Don't worry too much about the chopping, as once cooked, it gets pureed and blended.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and when hot, add the ground spices and cumin seeds. Stir for a minute, the add onion,ginger,garlic and chilli if using. Stir this mixture for another couple of minutes .Add sweet potato, tomatoes, and celery. Toss through to coat with the spices. Reduce heat and stir frequently for 5 minutes
Add the vegetable stock and simmer until the sweet potato is soft.
Process in a food processor, blender or with a bamix until smooth. Return to saucepan to reheat. You may add more stock to adjust consistancy or add milk or cream.
I chop cucumber into small dice and add to yoghurt with chopped corainder.
Serve hot topped with yoghurt mixture and a plate of pappadums.