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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Four Simple Salads for Christmas

It is only 10 days to go and we are all planning the meal for our Xmas day. Turkey, ham, seafood and do we do hot or cold? A lot of Australians choose to have a cold meal if they eat during the day, slightly more relaxed because of the hot weather. When I say cold, meats just out of the oven at room temp and served with salads instead of hot vegetables.
There are so many beautiful fruits in season at the moment and of course a wide array of vegetables.
You don't have to go without either and can combine the two into salads, or perhaps we should say accompaniments to the main meal. Those who love their vegetables won't miss out. Give them a gorgeous dressing, which can be made well ahead.
I will endeavour to put up some more salads in the coming days !

Potato and Blue Cheese Salad

Small baby chat potatoes perhaps a kilo or just work out at least 2 per person, cut in half
8 bacon slices
1 cup crumbled blue cheese your favourite or a good Roquefort
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon seeded mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup sour cream

 Cook potatoes in boiling in salted water until just tender. Drain and cut in half. this can be done the day before and kept in the fridge.
Whisk oil, vinegar, shallots and parsley, mustard, sour cream and honey together and season with salt and pepper.
Add the dressing to the warm potato.
Chop the bacon into small pieces or cook whole until crisp, drain and crumble.
Mound the potato onto your serving platter and scatter with bacon, blue cheese and chopped chives

Nectarine and Feta Salad

1 pkt Baby spinach leaves
250 grams soft feta cheese
2 nectarines
slivered toasted almonds
black sea salt or if unable to find use black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon honey
Rylstone olive oil

Mix the honey and olive oil in a jar and set aside.
Wash and cut the nectarines into quarters and then again into eights
Simply break off the feta into largish chunks
Toss the lot onto your serving plate, sprinkle with the slivered almonds and black sea salt and drizzle over the dressing at serving time. Easy…….

Tomato, Asparagus and Cress Salad with Haloumi

 2 bunches fresh asparagus steamed
150 grams fried haloumi
1/2  Red onion finely sliced
Salad greens and 1/2 bunch watercress
3-4 chopped tomatoes
white balsamic condiment
Fresh sea salt 
Rylstone olive oil

After steaming the asparagus, cut into 2 or 3 pieces. Fry the haloumi in a little olive oil and drain on paper towel. Put the asparagus onion and tomatoes in a bowl and toss with white balsamic condiment.
Arrange this on a mix of salad greens and cress and scatter the fried haloumi on top. Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt.

 Caramelised Sweet Potato and Fig Salad

 4 small sweet potatoes cut into wedges and roasted
75 grams toasted pine nuts
baby spinach and rocket mix salad  ( you can buy these leaves already packaged )
1/2 bunch watercress
4 ripe figs, cut into eighths
100 grams shaved parmesan cheese
Balsamic glaze
brown sugar

Toss the sweet potato pieces in the oil and balsamic glaze in a plastic bag.
Place into a roasting pan and sprinkle with brown sugar. Roast until just tender turning over during cooking time. Set aside to cool.
Put the cut figs into a bowl and sprinkle with olive oil and cracked pepper.
Place the salad greens and cress onto a serving platter and top with the sweet potato and cut figs.
Scatter with the toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan and drizzle all with balsamic glaze and a little olive oil.

All of these can be increased in quantity, for a big crowd.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Gingerbread Christmas Biscuits

I just love all the delectable food items on sale at Christmas time. Does it allow one to indulge, just because its Xmas ?
I can't answer that question for all of you,  but for me its a good excuse .
There are so many tempting delights in the shops. Panforte, chocolates, rum balls, muscatels, little biscuits in a variety of Christmas shapes, glace fruit, puddings of all sorts and everything is packaged so beautifully to entice the purchaser.
Jacqui and I have just done our annual day chopping and marinading for the Christmas cakes.
I have made some tomato relish and hope to do some chutney, given the time.
I love a gingerbread cookie and although readily available, often at great expense, I decided to make some myself, this year. Sprinkle with icing sugar or ice and decorate.
Not having a Christmas tree cookie cutter on hand, I used a star instead. Of course you can use a gingerbread man, heart or any shape you desire.
These are a lovely fun thing to make with small children.

125 grams butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup
1 egg
3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup self raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
11/2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 175C
Place the butter and the brown sugar into a saucepan on the stovetop and melt, making sure the sugar is  totally dissolved. Put aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl mix the egg and golden syrup into the melted butter mixture .
Sift the flour, bicarb and spices into the butter mixture to form a dough. If you feel you need to add a little extra flour do so at this point but gradually. The mixture needs to sit for an hour before using.
Place a piece of baking paper over the dough and roll to approx 5 cm thick and cut into your desired shape.
Place on baking paper lined trays into the oven for about 10 mins.
When cool sprinkle with icing sugar, or make an icing using just icing sugar and a little milk so it is slightly runny and easy to use.


Saturday, 23 November 2013

Keema Spicy Minced Meat

A great little dish to feed hungry children. It doesn't take long to make, is very tasty and it can be a fun meal. When I was a child there was a dish called Savoury Mince , which I guess was a drier version of a bolognese sauce, perhaps adapted by Aussies. I always loved it the next day on toast for breakfast.
Well this is similar but far tastier and you have it with naan bread or chapatis or even a wrap.
It is Indian in origin and whilst I would like to think the savoury mince had its origins here we didn't eat Indian food then. A curry was made with Keens Curry Powder  and was enough to turn you off curries for life, particularly bad if it was added to a béchamel sauce.
We have become very sophisticated in our tastes since then and embrace all of these flavours.
Put less chilli in it if you are serving it to little children, but it is good to introduce them to a bit of spice, gradually. Easily adaptable and quantities increased if needed.

1/2 kilo beef mince
1 onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1 cup peas  ( optional )
canola oil

For serving

1/2 cup plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons chopped mint and coriander
mango chutney
naan, chapati or flat bread

Heat the oil in a fry pan and sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Add the mince and stir and turn until just browned. Add the ginger, cumin, coriander, and turmeric, and continue to fry as you mix the spices in. Add the salt and yoghurt and mix in as it cooks. If using the peas add now. Lastly add the coriander. Depending on the mince you use i.e. the fat content you may want to add some more yoghurt. Cook for another 10 minutes on a gentle heat. Adjust the seasoning.
Serve in a bowl on a platter with the condiments.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Tandoori Turkey Burgers with Mango Salsa and Minted Chutney

I am having a turkey moment. I am not sure if its because it is nearly Xmas when we traditionally eat it,  because I have been trying middle eastern recipes using turkey, or because its a very lean meat to eat.
A little of all of the above, I think !
If you don't wish to use turkey mince you can use chicken mince of course. My son loves these burgers but he prefers them with chicken.
They are very easy to make and are delicious the next day as well. A kilo of mince will make quite a few approx 8-10 large  plump burger patties or more if you flatten them a little.
You could also make them into small meatballs and serve them as finger food for a party. Mix some chutney or pickle through the yoghurt as an alternative dipping sauce.
The lime pickle I used is actually a condiment and you could use a little lime juice, instead. If you are using turkey, I like a little sweetener in it, so use a mango chutney or any kind of sweet chutney you may serve with an Indian meal.

1 kilo turkey mince
2 tablespoons Tandoori  Paste mix like Pataks
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1 small onion very finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sweet lime pickle or another  Indian chutney
1 large egg
canola oil for frying
burger buns

Salsa for 6 burgers

1 fat mango cheek diced
1 small red onion finely diced
1 cucumber deseeded and finely diced
1 tomato finely diced
4 tablespoons chopped coriander
1/2 small red chilli finely diced

Minted Yoghurt

1 cup plain yoghurt I use Greek as its thicker
4 tablespoons finely chopped mint

Cos lettuce leaves

Mix the mince in a large bowl with all the other ingredients and set aside to infuse the flavours, for at least 2 hours.
Meanwhile chop and mix all the ingredients for the salsa and also set aside.
Mix the yoghurt with the chopped mint and set aside
Remove the turkey mince from the fridge and shape into large patties pressing the ingredients firmly together.
All of the above steps can be done well ahead of time.
Heat the oil in a shallow pan and fry the burgers turning carefully so they don't break. If they are quite thick they will require about 10 minutes each side.
Toast the burger buns slightly nearing the end of the cooking time of the patties.

Assemble by spreading a thin layer of the yoghurt mixture on the toasted bun and then an even amount of the salsa. This stops the salsa from spilling out of the bun. Top with the meat pattie and more yoghurt, more salsa if liked and finally the lettuce leaves.
You could also add extra pickle or chutney if liked. Enjoy!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Spicy Tomato Relish

We just had another beautiful week end at the coast with a great bunch of friends. I went crazy and cooked quite a few dishes out of the Jerusalem cookbook by Ottolenghi. These cookbooks are so good. Put one on your Xmas list if you don't have any. Refreshingly different from the normal, but then I have always loved Middle Eastern  and Jewish food. Really interesting salads and meat dishes, wonderful pulses and grains with spices, delicious! A lot of it not expensive either, but beautiful fresh ingredients and perfect for a big crowd. There are lots of sauces and condiments in them too, a lot based on garlic and lemon.
I am a huge relish, sauce and condiment fan. Maybe I need to write a new recipe book, just for sauces and relishes.
I particularly love making them at Xmas time and this tomato relish is a favourite. They are a great hostess gift or simply lovely to bring out to smarten up the barbequed meat or spread on a yummy sandwich, or fabulous on the morning after bacon and egg roll. Pretty good on a cheese platter with some cheddar or on some toast under a poached egg. Also fabulous to have with pies, sausage rolls or on a burger. Use your imagination ! Far more glamorous than the Aussie tomato sauce from a bottle. The following recipe is as always adaptable. You could add some chillies if you prefer it spicy hot. Start small, maybe 2 and taste as you go.

1 kilo red tomatoes
500 grams onion chopped
4 cloves garlic crushed
400 grams white sugar
500 mls white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds

Chop the onions and garlic and sauté in a little olive oil, in the saucepan you are going to cook the relish. Chop the tomatoes into large dice and add to the onion, garlic mixture with the white wine vinegar. Add the sugar and stir through and bring to a gentle simmer. Finally add the cumin, Worcestershire sauce and yellow mustard seeds. Simmer gently on the stove top, stirring about very ten minutes. As the mixture thickens and reduces it will spit as you stir so be careful. It takes approximately an hour to cook. It should be quite thick.
Spoon into sterilised jars.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Falafel, Chorizo, Feta and Pea Parcels with Minted Yoghurt Sauce

Last week end we had the pleasure of staying with some our Queensland friends at Peregin Beach, for the annual big chill weekend.
It is always very boozy, with lots of laughter and fabulous food. We kicked the weekend off with Geralds amazing paella and Angelas delicious sauces for our ice cream dessert.
Saturday night we ate at Pitchfork, always a very pleasurable dining experience. This is where I got the inspiration for this dish. Probably totally off the mark from their recipe, but similar and everyone enjoyed it.
I am thoroughly enjoying my Ottolenghi cookbooks and the new one Jerusalem. I guess this reminds me a bit of these flavours.
Falafel can be bought ready made at any good deli or Thomas Dux or a middle eastern shop. I also have on hand, the boxes of falafel mix from my jaunts to middle eastern areas of Sydney. They are very simple, just add water and leave for 1 hour and mould into balls to cook. I then of course mashed them up to use in these parcels !!! If you want you could use a combination of chickpeas and fava beans, maybe a cup of each, and tinned is fine, if you don't want to do the soaking of dried beans.
It won't have the crunch as you bite into it though. You can play around with quantities and flavours, but this to me is delicious. You can make them as big or small as you like. Great finger food for a party.

1 cup frozen peas
125 grams feta
6 falafel balls cooked and then broken up
1 chorizo chopped into small dice and cooked
1 big handful of chopped fresh mint
phyllo pastry
4 tablespoons melted butter

150 grams Greek yoghurt
1 small glove garlic
2 good handfuls of fresh mint
salt to taste

Quite simply, everything needs to be cooked and cooled prior to assembly, except of course the mint and feta. So mix the peas, chorizo, falafel balls, mint and feta in a bowl.
If you haven't used phyllo pastry before follow the instructions on the packet, but do make sure you cover the pastry sheets with a damp towel, or they will dry out.
I used 2 sheets layered and buttered. Then cut them into three long pieces, so got 3 parcels out of that.
Place a spoon of the mixture on each piece and fold in the sides and roll or fold. Alternatively, you could fold into triangles like the Greek spinach triangles.
Place on oven trays until the pastry is cooked and golden. This also depends on your oven temp. Approx 20-30 minutes.  Whilst they are cooking , blend all of the ingredients for the sauce in a processor or with a hand mixer.  Serve the sauce on the side with a salad, or just on their own with the sauce.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Orange Jaipur Tea Pannacotta with Caramelised Fruit

Okay I admit I might have gone a little crazy about these pannacottas! Whilst shopping the other day I found this new tea by Lipton and thought how lovely it would be in a pannacotta. I was right, absolutely beautiful subtle , sublime flavour and light. I love a light desert, I am sure I have said this before. I think these types of desserts are a perfect end to a meal, sweet touch and not too heavy.
Lipton have put out this delightful range of teas. Summer fruits, with rose hip, hibiscus and sweet blackberry. Forest fruit, peach and mango, passion and raspberry and the one I used Orange Jaipur from the discovery collection.
Experiment with any of these, it is the easiest dessert to make and always goes down a treat.
I used pineapple and banana for my caramelised fruit.
Please don't use gelatine powder, leaves are now readily available.

400 mls cream
150 mls full cream milk
3 gelatine leaves McKenzie's from the supermarket or good delis have other brands
1/2 cup sugar
3  orange Jaipur tea bags
1 tablespoon fine orange zest
3 pieces of palm sugar grated
1 tablespoon butter
chopped pineapple and banana

Heat the cream and milk with the sugar on the stove top. When the sugar is dissolved add the tea bags and bring to the boil and turn down. The tea will infuse in the cream mixture and if you push gently on the bags the flavour and colour will release, leave to steep for as long as you feel necessary.  Add the orange zest. Meanwhile place the gelatine leaves in cold water and for 5-7 minutes approximately and then remove and discard the water, squeezing gently in your hands to remove excess liquid. Put the gelatine into the hot cream tea mixture and whisk to dissolve.
Grease small ramekins and fill evenly.
Ramekins of about 150 ml capacity are a great size. Place into refrigerator for 4 hours to set.
Melt the butter in a fry pan on the stove and add the grated palm sugar and dissolve and let brown a little. Add the banana  pieces first and cook gently till they change colour around the edges. Remove and set aside, add the pineapple. It will release some juice as it heats and is a little harder to caramelise but is still beautiful. Remove and gently toss with the banana. Some passionfruit would be lovely added at this point.
When ready run a sharp knife around the edge of each ramekin and place a plate over the top and invert giving it a firm shake. It should release quite well. Serve with the caramelised fruit.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Chicken Masala

After my last post of the yellow rice, I then had to make a curry to go with it . I already had the chicken thighs, or you could use breast fillets if you prefer. The thighs are moister, so if using fillets don't over cook them. This is an exceptionally easy curry, maybe not as easy as one from a jar but much tastier I think. The Indians would throw their hands up in horror because I don't use ghee or peanut oil. I just use the Rylstone all the time and it works for me. I know the chefs love the Organic but for me it's the Crooked River for everyday use.

1 kilo thigh fillets, chopped keeping pieces fairly large
Rylstone Olive Oil
1 chopped onion
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
2 teaspoons crushed ginger
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon chilli powder ( if you like it hotter add more )
1 tin crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup roughly of chopped coriander
1/4 cup roughly of chopped mint

I used a wok for my curry, but a saucepan or frypan is fine too
Half cook the chicken in the oil and remove and set aside. Next fry the ginger, garlic and onion in the oil. Add the mustard seeds, chilli and garam masala and stir through the herbs.
Add the tomatoes next stir until combined and then add the cream and stir through.
Return the chicken to the pan and cook stirring occasionally. Add the chopped herbs in the last few minutes of cooking.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Festive Yellow Sri Lankan Rice

Everyone seems to be a little scared of cooking rice. If we do it the old fashioned way in a pot of boiling water, it must be watched. Overcooked rice is really not good. I have many memories of soggy rice from my childhood. Of course now lots of people have rice cookers and microwave rice cookers.
I personally don't have either, but always do it in the microwave, in a casserole dish that can go to the table. A never fail method and if you get distracted it doesn't matter cause it turns itself off.
The water must only come to the joint of your thumb over the rice. This usually means if you have a cup of rice its a cup and half of water, 2 cups of rice 2 and half cups of water.
Place into the microwave for 10 minutes on high, beautiful rice very time. Give it a go.
The other method is the absorption method which many people swear by and its pretty good too.
This is how I cooked this rice, a delicious delicately spiced alternative to plain rice when serving curries. You could add some chopped chicken into it whilst cooking for a complete meal, and toss through some sultanas and toasted almonds at the end just before serving. Serve it with some lamb cutlets or sausages with a salsa for a family meal.
This is probably not the exact method all Sri Lankans use but like all cooks everyone has their own slant on it.

2 cups basmati rice washed and drained thoroughly
Rylstone Olive Oil
1 onion finely sliced
6 cardamon pods
6  black peppercorns
2 cloves
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
2 curry leaves
2 teaspoons salt
375 ml  Carnation light and creamy coconut flavoured evaporated milk which has 92% less saturated fat. Alternatively you can use coconut milk.
1 1/2 cups water

In a large pot with a tight fitting lid, cook the sliced onions in a good splash of olive oil. Cook them until they change colour slightly. Then add cardamon pods, peppercorns, cloves, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fry for a minute mixing through the onion.
Add some more oil at this stage if your pot is too dry. Add the rice, turmeric salt and curry leaves and fry in the oil coating the rice and spices. Finally add the coconut milk and water and bring to the boil.
Then turn it down to very low and put the lid on tightly. If you feel the lid isn't as tight a it should be put some foil over the top and press down at the sides to stop any air escaping.
Cook for 15 minutes use a timer and don't peek, no lid lifting required !
Take off heat immediately cooked and fork through. Beautiful fluffy spiced rice.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Fettuccine with Chicken Mustard Cream and Macadamia Nuts

Do not have a fit about the cream in this recipe. There isn't a lot !
Monday night, not much in the fridge, everyone eating at different times, what to cook ?.
I happened to have the remains of a cooked chicken and some macadamia nuts and a meagre lot of vegetables.I always have a bottle of wine and parmesan on hand so I set about making this dish.
Very light and very tasty. You could use any type of pasta, a short penne or fusilli, if you prefer.

Rylstone Olive Oil
2 shallots chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 small onion chopped
200 ml white wine
300 ml chicken stock
1 small capsicum chopped
1 tablespoon grain mustard
4 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts
150 ml cream
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
300 grams chopped cooked chicken 
200 grams grated parmesan
500 grams fettucine

Cook the macadamia nuts in a little oil to brown and set aside.
Put a large pasta pot on to boil. Cook the pasta according to instructions ie dried or fresh.
Chop shallots, onion and garlic and fry gently on olive oil in a pan on top of stove.
Add the white wine and reduce by half.
Add the stock and chicken pieces. You can use cooked or uncooked chicken. Of course if using uncooked you must insure it gets adequate cooking time. Simmer gently until stock is reduced by half.
Add the cream, chopped capsicum, tarragon and grain mustard. Stir gently and the sauce will thicken slightly. Check seasoning and adjust if needed. Toss the toasted nuts through just before serving.
Serve with  grated parmesan .
If you find there isn't enough of the sauce for you add extra stock and cream. Depending on your pasta
it really soaks up the sauce.
Also use pine nuts if you prefer.

Monday, 26 August 2013

South East Asian Fillet of Beef

Last week my sister Gilli and I went out on another shopping trip to Auburn. So many delights to be tried and goodies to bring home. The different foods on offer are fabulous as they cater to the multi cultural inhabitants of the area. Indian, Nepalese,Turkish, Lebanese and Korean.
Really helpful shop keepers and all so cheap compared to what we pay normally.
I am planning some day shopping and eating expeditions to the area, so keep looking, coming soon.! Purchases from my trip inspired me to do this easy family dish, that I used to teach in my cooking classes. A different slant on the old roast beef and with a side of spicy red lentils, some mint flavoured yoghurt and nann, you are transported to world of asian cuisine.
If you wish you could change the red lentils for some spicy roast potatoes. Or alternatively you could just serve with some Basmati rice and a dollop of a great chutney. I bought a sweet lime one from the Indian supermarket that sold so many different varieties.
I asked the young man working there what was his favourite, as I was having trouble choosing. His reply with a laugh was "Mango". I decided to be a little more adventurous !

1 fillet of beef, rump or topside. Approx 2 kilos will feed six.

olive oil
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger or a 5cm piece finely chopped
2 chopped shallots
1 red chilli, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon minced chill
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
small handful finely chopped fresh coriander
half stick finely chopped lemongrass or 2 teaspoons minced lemongrass
juice of a fresh lime

Preheat oven to 180 C
Sear the piece of beef in the roasting pan you are going to use on top of the stove, in the olive oil.
Mix the chopped garlic, ginger, coriander, shallots and chilli into the soy sauce. Pour over the beef. Next pour the coconut milk, lime juice, lemongrass and extra coriander if desired.
Cook the beef for 40 minutes which will still have it pink inside. If you wish to cook it longer cover the pan with foil.. When cooked remove from the pan and set aside to rest.
Add a little more coconut milk to the pan to thicken the juices and make a gravy.
Slice and serve on a bed of lentils with accompaniments.

Beef served on a bed of red lentils with basmati rice and minted yoghurt

Discovered this organic fresh lime juice, a great alternative if you have no fresh limes on hand.
My choice from the  huge array of chutneys and pickles at the Indian Grocery in Auburn
 Rajasthani Sweet Lime Pickle.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Braised Beef Short Ribs

I have been swanning up and down the coast the last 2 weeks with my friend Louise and whilst we have made some fabulous food, I have neglected to photograph it or write about it. Apologies to all, I think with the weather being so beautiful I was lulled into thinking I was on Xmas holidays or something.
This dish is so yummy and gets many many comments of high praise. It is not me, however but the slow cook in the Asian master stock. Kylie Kwong and Neil Perry are masters of these beautiful stocks and it is this that makes the meat so delicious. The cheaper cuts of meat lend themselves very well to the long slow cook. I have done this with beef brisket, pork neck, and beef cheek.
The beef ribs are available at any good butcher, however you may have to ask for them to be cut. Asian butchers have them all the time and as is always the way, they are half the price.
Start this the day before. All the work is done leaving more time to chat to your dinner guests.
There is a lot of fat on them so trim them as much as you can, before cooking them.
After they have cooked slowly for around 3 hours let them cool. Then trim as much fat from them as you can, strain the stock and place them back into the stock for heating at serving time.
It seems like a lot of work, but it is well worth it and you have less work on the night.
I cooked for 10 and used approximately 5 kilos of ribs.

The following is for 1.5 kilos beef short ribs, just increase the spices and flour, and cover with more stock and shao xing wine

1 tablespoons ground fennel
1tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoons smokey paprika
1-2 tablespoons chilli powder
4 tablespoons plain flour
2 cups chicken stock plus 3 extra cups water
1 cup shao xing wine
1/2 cup light soy
4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 onion roughly chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup rock sugar
1 star anise
2 good pieces dried manadarin or orange peel
4 chopped shallots

Mix the fennel, coriander paprika and chilli powder together with the flour.
Spray the ribs lightly with oil and coat them in the spices and flour mixture. The easiest way to do this is to place them in a plastic bag with the flour and spice mix and shake it around
Heat a couple of tablespoons olive oil in a heavy casserole pot. Brown the ribs on all sides and remove from the pot.
Lightly fry the garlic and onion in the pot and scrape up any remnants of the spices.
Add the stock, shao xing wine, soy sauce, cinnamon stick, mandarin peel, rock sugar star anise and chopped shallots and bring to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes to infuse the flavours.
Place the ribs into the simmering stock and cover. Braise for 2 1/2 hours -3 hours. If some of the ribs are small they will break up and the meat will come away from the bone.
Follow the instructions above, removing the fat when cool and removing the meat from the bone and keeping in large chunks if possible. I then place them in a shallow baking dish and cover with the strained stock and cover the pan with foil so they gently reheat. If you bring them to the boil in a fast moving stock they may really fall to pieces.
I served them on a bed of creamed mash with some of the stock poured over with some garlic beans and french shallots sautéed in shao xing wine and rock sugar till caramelised.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Mince and Ricotta Pie

This dish is a simple family meal, a winter warmer. It is a variation on Cottage Pie, Moussaka  or Lasagna if you like, and appeals to all ages. It is quite simply a ragu with a cheese topping. I served it with a green salad and garlic bread.
You could really use lamb mince or beef mince, I used beef for this recipe.
The secret is in the ragu, a slow cook and it has to be tasty.

1 kg mince
2 tablespoons Rylstone Olive Oil
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 carrot grated
1 celery stalk finely chopped
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups ricotta
2 eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese
 a good tablespoon finely chopped oregano

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Heat the olive oil in a fry pan and saute the onion and garlic for a minute. Add the celery and cook another 3 minutes. Add the mince and cook until it has browned. Add the carrot, tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and stock. Simmer until it has reduced slightly approx 10 minutes and add the wine. If you don't have any wine you can add extra stock or water.  I like to continue coking for about an hour at this stage, if it becomes too dry add extra water .
When the meat has absorbed a lot of the liquid, check the seasoning. If using stock always be careful of the salt content.
Place the ricotta, cheeses, eggs and oregano into a bowl and mix. You may add extra salt and pepper at this stage if required.
Spoon the mince into a appox 6 cup casserole dish and top with the ricotta and cheese mixture.
Cook for around 15-20 minutes, until cheese is golden. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Miso Glazed Blue Eye Cod with Ginger Risotto

Thursday night, compliments of my son James and The Versatile Gent, I dined at Ocean Room in the overseas passenger terminal. Luckily for us there wasn't a cruise ship in the terminal, as we were seated right at the window, looking straight across at the Opera House. Stunning view and evening.
What a fabulous dining experience ! The staff were so attentive and smiling without being snooty. We started with a glass of Bollinger as we perused our 12 course degustation menu.
It really was outstanding, the food, the wines and the service. Japanese fusion food, a taste sensation and an art. Every dish was a talking point in itself and each got better as we went along.
We dined on wagyu beef with grilled tofu, dashi consommé and lime chilli soy, autumn vegetable collection with a house made anchovy and garlic broth. Simmering pork belly, quinoa crusted prawns oh the list goes on. My favourite of the 12 dishes was a grilled sweet miso cod.
I don't have the recipe from Ocean Room, but decided to give it a try. Not bad at all, the family were certainly delighted with the result. Not quite as good for me, but not too bad all the same.
Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning made from fermented rice, barley or soybean. It is quite readily available in the Asian section of your supermarket or at an Asian supermarket. Mirin and rice wine vinegar are also quite readily available.
I served it on a bed of julienned salad vegetables with an orange miso dressing.

2 pieces Blue Eye Cod
1 1/2 tablespoons white miso
2 tablespoons mirin ( Japanese wine )
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar.
This amount is enough for 2 large pieces of cod if you have more just increase 1 tablespoon of each of the ingredients per piece of fish. I also cut the fish into smaller chunky pieces.
Mix the marinade and spread over the fish and set aside for 1/2 an hour.

1 cup Arborio rice
4 -6 cups chicken stock kept simmering beside your risotto pan.
2 cloves garlic chopped finely
1 onion chopped finely
2-3 inch piece of fresh ginger finely chopped
1/2 cup mirin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large knob butter

Orange Miso Dressing

1 tablespoon white miso
4 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons grated orange rind.

Make the salad dressing and set aside. Prepare the salad vegetables. I used carrot, cucumber, radish and capsicum and a lettuce mix.

Preheat the oven to 175C

The risotto takes about 20 minutes. The fish can be put in the oven about 12 minutes before the risotto is ready.
In a frypan saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil, until translucent, being careful not to burn it.
Add the rice and toss around the pan with the onion and garlic.
Slowly add a cup of stock at a time, stir through and wait until it is fully absorbed. Add the next cup with the chopped garlic stir through and continue adding a cup of the simmering stock at a time waiting until each is fully absorbed. You may add extra ginger if you like. Nearing the end add the mirin with the last of the stock. Add the knob of butter just before serving. The risotto should be a little sweet. If you think the mirin isn't doing it add a little extra.

As the risotto is getting near to being cooked, place the pieces of cod on baking paper and place in the oven, for about 10-12 minutes.

Dress the salad with some of the orange miso dressing.
Place a pile of salad on a plate and place the fish on top and a spoon of the risotto beside it . Drizzle the fish with a little of the orange miso dressing too !!

My version of miso cod
Rhubarb Cocktail from Ocean Room

Wagyu flat iron steak, Tasmanian pepper jus, quinoa crusted prawn, Americaine cream, agedashi taro potato
 Vegetables served with the anchovy and oil dip sitting on top of the oil burner to keep it warm !

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Osso Bucco

We have just had an incredibly wet week of staying indoors and feeling like we would never see the sun again.
Rugby continues to dominate our lives as the British Lions are still here and won't be here for another 12 years. Brisbane and Melbourne have been full of fun and frivolity in the past weeks. Fans dressed in crazy funny outfits and now its Sydney's turn to host the last game, on Saturday.
One game all, in the test series it promises to be very exciting.
Get a crowd around and watch it on TV if you don't have tickets. An osso bucco is a great dish to make and it can all be done the day before and reheated just before serving.
Beef osso bucco, seems to be more readily available at the moment, rather  than veal.
I definitely prefer veal to beef, I feel it takes on much more flavour and is more tender. The beef needs to be cooked a little longer and never seems as succulent to me, but IF you can't get veal try it with the beef as I had to the other night. Veal is often available frozen, so perhaps defeats the purpose. If you can get it fresh, use veal which is the traditional Milanese recipe. It is really quite delectable.

1-2 kilo veal or beef osso bucco or buy it as 2 pieces each person
2 tins diced tomatoes
3 finely chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
250 mls red wine
600 mls chicken stock or to cover the osso bucco
2 finely chopped carrots
2 sticks finely chopped celery
3 sprigs fresh lemon thyme.
8-10 tablespoons vegetable oil
50 grams plain flour approx depending how much veal you are using
fresh parsley
lemon zest

Preheat the oven 180C.
Choose a large casserole with a lid and only have the veal on the bottom with one layer on top. If you don't have a casserole large enough use two smaller ones.
Put all of the veal pieces together with the flour in a plastic bag and shake until the veal is coated with the flour.
Heat the oil in a fry pan and brown the veal on both sides. Remove and set aside.
In the casserole dish heat some more oil and soften the carrots, celery, onion and garlic.
Place the veal on top in  a layer.
Heat the wine in the fry pan you cooked the veal and scrape off any of the reside of veal left from the browning.
Add this wine to the casserole with the tomatoes and stock and thyme. The meat should be covered so add more stock if it isn't.
Place int your preheated oven and cook for 2 1/2 hours.
Traditionally it is served with a risotto milanese and gremolata or gremolada.
This is a mixture of chopped parsley, lemon zest and garlic and I think it  adds a great contrast to the creamy texture of the sauce, but some do find it a little too sharp.
Up to you, try it I am sure you will love it.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Chicken Pesto Lasagne

Must be my " chicken week " as I made another favourite Chicken Pesto Lasagna. Probably better in summer as you can take advantage of the beautiful fresh basil that is seasonal. I think you will find there isn't a problem finding it now. I like to make my own pesto, but if you don't feel inclined you may use a store bought one. I am not sure where this recipe originally came from as I have been making it for so long, but as with all lasagnas there is many a variation on the original idea.
The tomato sauce or passata is a lovely addition as it cuts through the creamy sauce. A little green salad would be nice with it, or leave it as a dish by itself.
Lasagna sheets come as dried or fresh and cooked and chilled from the refrigerator section, or shelf at the supermarket. They do soak up a lot of liquid to cook, so make sure the sheets are well covered with the béchamel sauce.

1 packet of Lasagna sheets either fresh or dried
4 chicken breasts or 8 thigh fillets you could also use chicken strips.
250 grams mozzarella, grated
100 grams shredded parmesan

1 bunch fresh basil leaves or about 1 1/2 cups leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
3 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 cup Rylstone olive oil or similar
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese


1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup plain flour
2 cups milk
1 chicken stock  cube
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Tomato Passata see Veal Parmigana recipe

You will need a food processor for the pesto. Alternatively a hand blander might do the trick. All in together and drizzle the olive oil in as you blend it.

For the béchamel, melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux a thick paste. Warm the milk, if you add cold milk you will get lumps ! Crush the stock cube and add to the warm milk and stir.
Gradually add the milk to the roux and stir as the sauce thickens. Add the pepper and nutmeg.
Lastly add the pesto to the béchamel and set aside.

Cut the chicken into strips about 11/2 pieces and poach them, until just cooked.
Spread a thin layer of the béchamel on the bottom of a dish. Cover this with a layer of lasagna sheets,
pesto bechamel sauce and cover with a layer of the chicken and sprinkle with mozzarella.
Continue layering, finishing with a layer of lasagna sheets, bechamel and parmesan.
Cover with foil and  cook in a 175 oven for 30 minutes or until cooked. You may take the foil off for the last 10 minutes. Serve on a bed of the tomato passata with a sprinkling of parmesan.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Chicken and Green Olive Enchiladas

I have just returned from my sister Philippa's 50th Birthday, which we celebrated in style at the fabulous Il Centro at Eagle Street Pier in Brisbane.  A lovely group of girls, daughters, sisters, sisters in laws and mother with life long friends. The sun was shining, the weather was glorious and it was a wonderfully memorable day.  The food is always beautiful and  the service impeccable .  The event didn't end there we moved across to Mr & Mrs G's and continued on into the evening.
I also managed to get a copy of Marcia Georges cookbook Greek by Heritage Italian by Heart. The book shares with readers the recipes from her parents restaurants and all that have made  Marcia and Andy Georges Il Centro famous for 21 years. All royalties go to  Cancer and Bowel Research Trust and you can get the book on line.
Well after wining and dining in Brisbane for a few days, I came home to a hoard of hungry boys staying here, Rugby again and 21st birthdays. Always a challenge to fill them up, they requested Mexican ! They love it and it does seem to do the trick, for a few hours at least. I decided to do these Chicken and Green Olive Enchiladas. A meal I haven't cooked for years. A long way from the absolutely stunning Sand Crab Lasagna of Il Centro, but far more affordable when feeding a crowd of young men.

1-2 kilos of chicken thighs
6 cups chicken stock
3-4 tablespoon Rylstone Olive Oil
1 cup stuffed green olives sliced
2 cups finely chopped onions
1 large fresh tomato or 2 small ones chopped
3 tablespoons chopped garlic or about 3 cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons chilli powder ( you can add up to 5, or you may find it is better to start with only 1 and increase once the chicken is cooked
3 tablespoons plain flour
500 grams shredded pizza cheese 

Place the chicken thighs and the 6 cups of stock in a large saucepan and simmer until cooked. This should take about 20 minutes. Cool the chicken in the stock.
Shred the chicken coarsely and transfer to a large bowl.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a fry pan over a medium heat. Add 1 cup of the chopped onion, tomato, garlic cumin and cinnamon. Cook until onion and tomato are quite tender, stirring occasionally. This may take 10 minutes. Add the chilli powder and flour and stir for about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the 6 cups of stock a little at a time to incorporate the roux. Increase the heat and simmer until reduced to about 3 cups, stirring occasionally. All of these steps can be done the day before or the morning of.
Mix 1 cup of the sauce into the chicken.
Spread a thin layer of the sauce in the baking dish you are going to cook them in. You can line them all up in 1 or 2 big ceramic baking dishes or individual dishes, if you choose.
Arrange the tortillas on a work surface and place about 3 tablespoons of cheese in the centre of each, followed by1 tablespoon of the chopped onion and about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of chicken along the top .
Roll up as tightly as you can and place seam side down in your baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Preheat the oven to 175C.
When finished pour remaining sauce over them and sprinkle with more of the grated cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake a further 10 minutes or until sauce bubbles.
Remove the foil and let rest for another 5- 10 minutes as they are very hot, before serving
Serve with sour cream and watch them disappear.

Tortillas, Olives Shredded Chicken and Chopped Onion

A small amount of sauce in the bottom of your baking dish

Place cheese onion olives and chicken in the centre of the tortilla.

Finished enchiladas.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Footy Fever Food

Tonight is a big night for all those die hard sports fans. Yes, they will be going to, or watching the footy on a big screen somewhere.  Both codes of football, Rugby Union, Western Force vs British Lions in Perth and Rugby League the State of Origin in Sydney and both games are televised. So girls, not a big night for you I am afraid, unless you have succumbed to the fever . Many of you are fans as I am. Being married to an ex union player and having two sons who play one doesn't have much choice. Extra exciting for us because my god son Angus is playing for the Western Force. So girls don't fight it, have the boys and the girls over to watch the game and make a night of it.
If you can't beat them join them, you will have fun I promise! We have had so many fun nights with Rugby viewing and dinners.
Easy, inexpensive, and a big crowd pleaser, The Nachos and Tex Mex.
I always make it for a casual TV dinner and you can make as many trays as you need and as you go. Delicious and filling and loved by all ages. Give it a go and add all the trimmings. Make some beef and some chicken. All or most of the ingredients are store bought so not a lot of work !
I usually start this well ahead and make shredded beef. If you have a pressure cooker this is pretty quick.
If not the meat takes about 2 hours to get to the falling apart stage.
Buy a cut of meat like blade,chuck or gravy beef. Trim some of the fat and place into a saucepan and cover with water. Cook for about 30 minutes and when the liquid has reduced add some beef stock.
Continue cooking for another 30 minutes add more stock and a couple of good splashes of Worcestershire sauce. As the meat cooks the liquid reduces , you must watch it as it can easily catch and burn dry. When there is very little liquid left add some chilli sauce  and begin to shred the meat until the mixture is quite dry. The seasoning is  up to your taste. If you can't be bothered with this buy a chicken, shred it and mix with some bottled salsa if you are feeling lazy. Alternatively buy some mince and cook it with a packet taco seasoning.


One layer of Jalapeno Bean Dip El Paso
One layer of Avocado mashed with lemon and pepper.
One carton of Sour Cream mixed with one packet of Taco Seasoning mix.
One layer of diced tomatoes
One layer of chopped shallots.
Cover with grated cheese a store bought mix is good.
Surround with corn chips and serve.


Allowing for one large oven tray. One can of refried beans will probably do 2 trays as will the salsa and sour cream.

1 can Refried beans ( my favourite is Amy's Organic) 
Shredded beef or chicken
1 packet Corn chips
Salsa medium or hot ( to your taste )
Chilli Sauce  (Fountain make a good one but make sure it isn't a sweet chilli used for Thai food
Sour Cream

Spread the oven trays or dishes with a layer of the refried beans.
Next layer the corn chips on top spreading them out so they are mostly covered.
Layer the shredded beef or chicken over the corn chips.
Top with a little salsa, not too much or the whole dish will be too soggy.
Add chopped shallots.
Sprinkle with cheese to cover most of the tray.
Put into a 175C oven and cook until the cheese is melted but watch it, so it doesn't burn.
Remove from the oven and dollop with chilli sauce and sour cream.
Mash the avocado with some of the salsa and place in the centre of the tray.
Sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander.

Serve hot, with paper napkins and plates if you like and a corona with a slice of lime. If you want to be fancy make some margaritas. Yum. Enjoy the footy.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Coconut and Date Cake

This is one of my Grandmothers cakes. The cake and biscuit tin were constantly being replenished.
As a farmers wife, it would have been a favourite at the afternoon tea table.  All those hard working, hungry men who start work so early in the morning and seem to need continual feeding.  It is a good staple family or lunch box, morning or afternoon tea cake. Nothing fancy and very simple.
I do find with a lot of these old fashioned cakes they don't rise a lot. That is fine because they do taste delicious.
It is best eaten warm with butter. If you choose to make it a little more fancy, then ice it with a thick buttery lemon or orange icing. It is also delicious with a really thick creamy yoghurt.

1 1/2 cup chopped dates
125 grams butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/4 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 cup desiccated coconut

Chop the dates in half and place 1 cup in a bowl with the sugar. Leave 1/2 cup chopped dates till later.
Put the butter and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Pour over the dates and sugar and mix well.
Cool slightly and add the beaten egg.
Fold in the sifted flour and bicarb soda, and coconut.

Line a loaf tin with glad bake or grease well. Pour the mixture into the tin and finally scatter over the remaining 1/2 cup dates. They will sink into the mixture, hopefully, not too far down.
Bake at a moderate 160-175 depending on your  oven for about 40 minutes.
Turn it out to cool slightly.
Put the kettle on to boil. Make a pot of tea.
Slice the cake. Spread with lashings of butter and enjoy with your cup of tea. Yum !

Monday, 20 May 2013

Want Food Tours to Thailand

I am just finishing off the details for the next Thailand tour. The last one was such fun and we all learnt so much. To the great amusement of our spouses and family we have already managed to have a reunion dinner ! The group consisted of 11 girls  and they all feel they have made new life long friends,  joined by the interest and love of food. The common threads of our small world were there too and amazingly there were many connections from our past lives to these new friends. As they say three degrees of separation..... From the frenetic energy of Bangkok to the ancient slower paced city of Chiang Mai, we shared many taste sensations, weird and wonderful and learnt about the cuisine and culture of this wonderful country.

The size of the group is small minimum of 6 maximum of 12 people. There is free time for shopping beauty treatments and lazing by the pool. This tour is perhaps more orientated to the females, however if a group of couples would like to go, please contact me as I feel a little golf could be enjoyed whilst the girls pursue other activities. It is so much fun, this experience, made all the more pleasant by the gorgeous amiable Thai people who are perhaps the loveliest in the world. They are constantly smiling, have an amazing sense of humour and make everything seem so effortless !
Come and join this fabulous, fun filled culinary adventure, with some friends

Some of the lovely comments from my group....

You have enriched my life with all the experiences we have faced in the past 10 days.... Karen

I cannot imagine life without some of the things we have done ...... Jane

Your research was spot on and the organisation perfect and smooth. Thank you so much for the most memorable trip.... Tomoko

Want Food Tours A fabulous culinary and cultural experience.......Fi

Wonderful fantastic memories with dear friends, divine food...... Judy

Everyday was so exciting! Cooking schools were fantastic. Amazing taste sensations and I quite possibly would have never tried some of the food we had.........Pru

The mutual horror and delight at some unknown organism in the food markets. The frenzied cacophony of chatter and laughter in the van everyday... Pam

The whole experience has been fantastic and beyond expectation. Loved every moment of it... Ange

Meeting new people and sharing so many funny times...... Shelley

The markets, restaurants, shopping, cooking schools and day trips have been full of such good times I will never forget....... Kate

For a full itinerary any questions or booking form, please feel free to email at .
I am now taking bookings for September 2013 Tour departing 6th-16th
and March 2014.



















Cost  $2700 twin share
         $3457 single in a twin room

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Chilli Chicken Soup

This soup is a meal in its self. It makes a large quantity and is better the next day. For those of you who were ardent fans of Seinfeld, you may remember the Soup Nazi. A New York soup stand vendor who had people queuing for his fabulous food. However he was a cantankerous man and refused to serve anyone who annoyed him or didn't follow the ordering procedure and he frequently ejected people from the queue. This character and his soup were the inspiration for this recipe. It is almost like a Mexican minestrone, rich and hearty. I always serve it with a big dollop of sour cream, some fresh coriander and corn chips.

2 onions
4 cloves garlic
4 chicken breasts (you could also use a ready cooked chicken )
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 carrots peeled and cut in discs and cut again in half
1 small capsicum, diced
1 can kidney beans
1 can corn kernels or 1cup of frozen kernels
2 tins tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
10 cups water
 freshly chopped coriander
freshly chopped parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons ground chilli or fresh chillies
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
canola oil

Fry the chopped onions and garlic in a little oil, till opaque. Remove and in the same pot saute the chicken pieces until cooked. Chop the chicken and return to the pot, with the onions and garlic. Add the stock and all of the other chopped ingredients. Add as much chilli as you think you would like, but I use at least 2.
Bring the pot to the boil and turn down and simmer for 2-3 hours. Stir the pot at least every 20 minutes, to stop the chicken catching on the bottom of the pot. The soup will reduce, thicken and become dark
when it is done. Serve it with a sour cream, chopped coriander and a side of corn chips.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Middle Eastern Lamb Shanks with Coriander Pesto

We love our lamb shanks. Once given to the dog they weren't regarded as anything special. To my knowledge they were not even sold separately. Now they are a culinary must for a winter dinner. Slow cooked, meat falling off the bone, unctuous, glossy and full off flavour. Whilst they should be, they are not an incredibly cheap meal as they once would have been. Paying by weight there is often more bone than meat. You will need at least one for each person, maybe one and a half to two for men.
The dish can be prepared a day ahead and as is the case with all casserole type dishes it is often better the next day. Particularly yummy, if you have any left over take the meat off the bone and serve it with pasta perhaps a wide ribbon pasta, for another meal.
I have made shanks in many ways, with orange and dates and tomatoes. I taught this for many years in my cooking classes and it is by far my favourite. Spicy and sweet and full of flavour. The following amounts will feed 8-10 people.

150 ml canola oil
10 lamb shanks
2 onions, chopped
large bunch coriander
1 heaped teaspoon turmeric
30 grams  ground coriander
30 grams ground cumin
2 red chillies
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup fresh ginger grated
2 pinches saffron
1/4 cup honey
2 cloves garlic sliced
150 ml white wine
chicken stock
approx 20 dried apricots.

Coriander Pesto

2 bunches coriander
2 cloves garlic
150 grams walnuts
2 green chillies
150 grams grated parmesan

Place all of ground cumin, coriander, chillies, honey and fresh coriander into a food processor and blend. Heat the oil in a large pot and brown the shanks. Remove from pan and set aside. Fry the chopped onion in the pan and add the blended spices and honey mixture to the onion, with the garlic turmeric, ginger, cinnamon sticks and saffron and continue fry.
Add the stock and wine and stir. Return the shanks to the pot making sure all the shanks are covered.
Bake in a slow oven for 2 1/2 hours. If you want to do it a little faster, turn the oven to 200C and cook for 1 1/2 hours. When cooked remove the shanks, pour the liquid into a saucepan and simmer.
Leave to cool and skim the fat off. Strain the sauce and reduce slightly.
Add the apricots and simmer  gently. Add the coriander pesto and 2 tablespoons butter. If your guests may not want the extra chilli leave out the coriander pesto and serve it as a side, just add the butter.
Serve the shanks on a bed of cubed sweet potato roasted with onion. Pour the sauce over and drizzle with mint yoghurt and preserved lemon. I served the dish with risoni and sweet potato last night!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Beef and Guiness Pie

Now the weather is getting a little cooler we tend to think of warming meals. The great Aussie beef pie comes to mind always a favourite and staple at any sporting match and hopefully on a grander scale at the kitchen table. There are some really good pies out there to buy moist fabulous fillings.
Byron Gourmet Pie company makes a delicious pie with fillings like Mexican, Ratatouille  Thai Chicken and of course a Steak. Not being readily available at the time,  I decided to make my own variety. Seriously you can really put any filling into a pie. For some reason everyone loves a meal in pastry and you can make it look very smart with little decorations on the pie top.  Don't fret about the pastry these are easy ! A ramekin with a pastry lid. This recipe made 4 pies, but make more of the meat mixture and keep for another meal. This is very hearty and has a rich luscious sauce. The meat is very tender, helped along by the Guinness !

1 kilo chuck steak
2 cups beef stock
400 ml of Guinness beer
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic crushed
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
fresh thyme
salt and pepper
1 egg
1 packet frozen puff pastry
4 x 250 ml ramekins

Chop the steak into cubes. Place into a plastic bag with the flour and shake until the meat is totally covered in flour. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish and brown the meat. Remove from the pan.
Fry the onion and garlic until translucent. Return the meat to the pan with the stock, beer, tomatoes,
sugar, thyme salt and pepper. Make sure the meat is covered with the liquid, and the pot has a lid on it.
Simmer on the stove top, for approximately 2 hours. The sauce will be really rich and glossy. Stir the meat every 20 minutes to stop it catching on the bottom.
When cooked set aside to cool. This step can be done well ahead.
Remove the frozen pastry from the freezer and let thaw. It is easier to work with if it is still slightly frozen.
Cut a piece of pastry about an inch bigger all round than the ramekin, and grease the edge of the dish.
Place equal amounts of the meet mixture into the dishes and cover with the pastry lid, pressing it firmly into the edge of the dish, with the flat side of a fork prongs. Make a small air hole in the lid, brush with beaten egg and place on a tray in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden. Warning they are very hot so let them sit awhile before serving or warn your guests !
I served them with some ginger sweet potato mash and some cherry tomatoes cooked gently in balsamic vinegar in a frypan on top of the stove. Garlic beans would be lovely as well.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Pork Fritters with Sweet Chilli Sauce

My son James decided to cook dinner two nights ago using his brand new slow cooker. I had a very large piece of pork here which he cooked Kylie Kwong style in an Asian master stock. The result was delicious, but we did have enough pork left for another meal.
Rather than have it with a salad or reheated with vegetables, I decided to make the meat into fritters.
My grandmother and mother in turn always did this with leftover meat when I was young. I fished out the old cook book and there was the fritter batter recipe. Lamb or beef would also be equally delicious.
Two schools of thought on the meat, some chop it up and some slice it. I grew up with the slice method, but I am sure it doesn't matter a bit. The end result is yummy, filling and comforting. Serve it with the salad or vegetables and a sweet chilli sauce, or a really good relish.

2 cups Plain flour
2 teaspoons  baking powder
3/4 cup milk
pinch of salt
3 eggs

Sliced  leftover cooked meat of your choice. I had about 10 slices but put smaller bits together, to make decent sized fritters.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Beat eggs and milk together. Make a well int he centre of the flour and pour egg mixture into middle in a steady stream. Gradually incorporate the flour into the egg, beating into a smooth batter. You could also put the flour into a food processor, add the egg and milk mixture and blend to a smooth batter.
It is better for the mixture to stand a couple of hours before use, but an hour at least please.
Dip the pieces of meat into the batter and coat well.
Use a shallow fry pan and a small amount of oil. Heat the oil and fry the fritters 3-4 at a time until golden. Remove and drain on absorbent paper and serve immediately.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Green Tea and Five Flower Pannacotta

This beautiful dessert is so incredibly easy. You can experiment with many flavours or tea infusions. Traditionally Italian in origin it simply means boiled cream.
On our trip to Thailand we had the most fabulous meal at the Issaya Siamese Club. Memorable for many reasons, not only the food but the location and the amazing staff.
It is set  a little on the outskirts of the city in a large Thai mansion with garden and terraces. The chef Ian Kittichai who apprenticed at Claudes in Sydney, offers traditional Thai dishes with an international twist. The dining area is surrounded by an aromatic garden full of herbs, which are used in the kitchen.
The entire meal was superb. We chose the banquet amazing slow braised ribs and massamun lamb shanks, gorgeous canapés, all  presented in the most delightful array of baskets and dishes
The finale of the meal was a jasmine pannacotta, which was to die for. I love deserts like this, very light and sweet enough to finish off the spicy and intense flavours of the mains.
I chose to make one for my son's birthday dinner on my return. I didn't have any jasmine tea but did have this beautiful, green tea with strawberries, sunflower petal, rose petal, cornflower blossom and lemon. It was just as lovely and I am sure you could experiment with many different teas, that are on the market these days. Probably find an infusion you love and try it, I am sure it won't disappoint.
Coincidentally Neil Perry had a jasmine pannacotta in last Saturdays paper. he uses eggs and I haven't in this recipe.

400 mls Cream
200 mls Coconut milk ( use light if you are having the guilt's ) or use 150 mils milk
4  good quality Gelatine leaves
120 grams castor sugar
3 tea bags of your favourite infusion.
For decoration I used toasted shredded coconut.

Place the gelatine leaves in a bowl of water until softened. Put the cream and coconut milk into a saucepan to simmer gently. As it warms add the sugar and the tea bags and simmer gently for about 5 mins. Turn off the heat and remove the tea bags, being very careful not to break them. If this happens you will have to strain the tea out. Squeeze the gelatine leaves out and discard the water. Put the leaves into the cream mixture and whisk continuously until dissolved.
Lightly grease small moulds or ramekins and pour equal amounts into each. This should make 6 pannacotta. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
To remove them from the moulds run the dish under hot water, run a very sharp knife around the edge and turn upside down onto your serving plate.
I garnished with the toasted coconut, simply toasted in the oven on a baking tray. It doesn't take long , so stay close. Serve with berries or a fruit coulis.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Want Food Tour of Thailand

The hand painted walls ofthe Golden Buddha Temple

I have just returned from my inaugural food tour of Thailand. I was joined by a group of 10 wonderful girls who embraced the tour enthusiastically in every way from market tours, food sampling, cooking classes, shopping, dining and drinking.
This lady cooked the best roast duck and pork in the market

Hard at work grating the fresh coconut
Lots of fun at cooking class

Sampling some dumplings at the markets
Stunning in the sun hat after a stroll in the herb garden

We sampled food through the local markets with our wonderful guide Sam. Breakfast one morning was in Nang Leong a 100 year old market, that no foreigners had previously ventured too. Whilst they seemed to be quite alarmed at the sight of 11 chatty girls descending on their territory, that were very welcoming and eager to let us sample their fare. They even put on a little show as they deftly prepared tiny pork dumplings at super fast speed, as we ooohed an arrred, at their skill. We ate duck and congee for breakfast washed down with a milky coffee followed by a sweet coconut custard steamed in a banana leaf. The next market Or Tor Kor is the 4th biggest fresh food market in the world. The market is so clean and as always the presentation stunning. Produce here is mostly organic and amongst the best in the country.
These rose apples were delicious
Fresh fruit and vegetables, chilli pastes, beautiful herbs, fresh meat and seafood. Frustrated again, that I didn't have a kitchen to prepare these goodies in, I had to be content with lots of sampling. Anything that we chose, our guide would buy for us to sample and he suggested lots more local tidbits we were not familiar with as well.
Afternoon was spent in a cooking class, in a gorgeous Thai house surrounded by a beautiful herb garden. We watched and then cooked 4 dishes and ate them all of course. Lots of laughter and chat as we prepared these very simple tasty dishes. We grated fresh coconut and made the cream we cooked with, so delicious.
One day we toured through the 3 communities of Thailand China and little India, stopping to eat  at the best local restaurants serving the cuisine of each area. We returned home more than satisfied and in awe of all the food we would never try, without assistance from a local. As I have mentioned before, the Thais eat everything. They would be quite shocked to see how much of an animal we waste, and what insects and creatures we don't eat.
We also visited the beautiful oriental style house of Jim Thompson and the Jarm Village where the biggest Khmer community in Bangkok live.
Three days in Chiang Mai was a welcome respite after the frenetic pace of Bangkok.
We enjoyed massages, body scrubs and facials in the beautiful spa at the Rati Lanna .

Cooking classes with Yui, in her home was a fabulous real experience for us all.  She certainly makes it all seem so simple as she chattered away about different rices available in Thailand, when to use coconut milk and coconut cream, her life tales and her future ventures .
We ate in one of America's first ladies favourite restaurants, The Gallery on the Ping River.
After dinner we had some hilarious experiences in the famous Chiang Mai night markets battering for bags and pashminas, whilst tuk tuk drivers looked on with great amusement! Would have loved to know what they were saying !
Just a small sample of the orchids available
We toured the Warorot markets, the biggest market in the north. Tourists involved in the daily hustle of trade. Sensual aromas wafted by as we sampled lots of dried food and admired the stunning fresh flowers at such ridiculously low prices.
Roast duck and crackling mmmmm
looking forward to Jim Thompson House
Some of the group ready for our last dinner

Jasmine Pannacotta

Some of us chose to go to the Elephant refuge which was an amazing, up close experience.
Returning to Bangkok was like coming home. Lots of shopping to finish and more beauty treatments to be had, and tailored garments to collect.
The stunning dinner at Issaya Siamese Club was an unforgettable meal for us all.
So many memories, so much food, new friends and a lot of frivolity !
I will be taking a tour to Thailand again later in the year for anyone who may be interested in this life time experience. Please don't hesitate to contact me at