Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vegetable Soup

I've been out of action in the kitchen for a few days since I've been struck down with the flu. I felt a bit better today so I thought I'd make myself a simple yet nutritious meal to help kick start the immune system, so what better to make than vegetable soup? Packed full of nutrients, vitamins and anti-oxidants, this recipe is also super easy to make if you have a slow cooker. Just set and forget... a couple of hours later... a nice meal awaits :)
I added some chopped bacon to this soup since I had some left over in the fridge, but for a meat free version, just omit it from this recipe. I also added some chilli flakes for a bit of kick.

You can pretty much add to this soup any kind of vegetable, whatever is in season or whatever happens to be in your fridge.

This recipe is also freezer friendly. A handy tip I learnt was to put the soup into individual microwavable soup containers. That way you can very easily take it out of the freezer and put straight into the microwave. Yummy soup in a matter of minutes!


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
125g bacon, chopped (optional)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2-3 cups water
400g can diced roma tomatoes
1 tub tomato paste
¼ tsp chilli flakes (optional) 
⅓ cup dried risoni pasta (optional)
⅓ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped


  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, bacon and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. 
  2. Add all ingredients except the risoni and parsley into a slow cooker and stir to combine.
  3. Cover and cook on high for 2- 3 hours or on low for 4 to 6 hours.
  4. Stir in risoni pasta during the last hour of cooking. Alternatively, if making ahead, cook the risoni pasta separately and stir into the soup just before serving.
  5. Stir through parsley. Ladle soup into bowls. Serve with warm crusty bread.
Notes & Tips

To freeze: Store soup in an airtight container. Label, date and freeze for up to 3 months.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sichuan Beef Stir Fry

A simple stir-fry with typically hot, spicy, peppery Sichuan flavours. You can leave out the chilli oil and adjust the amount of chilli bean sauce in this recipe to suit how hot and spicy you want your dish to be :)

Serves 4 as part of a multi-course meal


400g lean beef
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1 tsp cornflour
3 celery stalks
1 small cucumber, halved lengthwise
3 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
1 tbsp ginger, cut into fine matchsticks
1 fresh red chilli, seeded and cut into matchsticks
2 tbsp chilli bean sauce or chilli sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chilli oil, optional
½ tsp ground Sichuan peppercorns


Cut the meat against the grain into strips and toss with the soy, rice wine and cornflour. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to marinate.

Meanwhile, de-string the celery, trim the ends and cut into five-centimetre lengths, then into matchsticks. Cut the cucumber into one-centimetre slices.

Heat the oil in a wok until hot and stir-fry the ginger, chilli and celery for 10 seconds.

Add the beef and cook over high heat for two minutes. Add the cucumber, chilli bean sauce and sugar tossing well for one minute. Add the sesame oil and chilli oil (if using). Scatter with ground Sichuan peppercorns and serve with jasmine rice.

Passionfruit Cupcakes with White Chocolate and Passionfruit Ganache

 I made these cupcakes as part of a birthday surprise for a friend and a nice morning tea snack.

You'll need approx. 5 passionfruits for this recipe.


Passionfruit Cakes (Yields 8)
30g butter, softened
½ cup caster sugar, sifted
2 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
¼ cup passionfruit pulp, strained

White Chocolate & Passionfruit Ganache
90mL thickened cream
180g white chocolate, broken into small pieces
1 tbs passionfruit pulp, strained
Sugar flowers, to decorate 


Preheat oven to 180°C. Beat butter with electric mixer until soft and fluffy, add eggs and beat until pale. Stir in sifted sugar and flour and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in passionfruit pulp. Spoon mixture into cupcake liners resting in muffin moulds until 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Turn cakes onto wire rack to cool. Top with ganache or other frosting and sugar flower. Allow to set.

To make ganache:
Warm cream and pulp in a saucepan over low heat, then stir in chocolate pieces until melted. Leave to cool, then refrigerate for at least 30mins - 1 hour. This allows the ganache to thicken, ready to be piped or spread over cupcakes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Chicken & Mushroom Fettuccine

Fast and easy pasta that's as kind to your taste buds as it is to your wallet! Try this dish tonight!


450g fettucine pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
650g chicken tenderloins/chicken thigh fillets
125g rindless bacon, diced
1 brown onion, diced
300g mushrooms, sliced
420g can chicken & mushroom soup
½ cup light thickened cream (or milk for a lighter version)
1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped


  1. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water, following packet directions, until tender. Drain pasta, reserving 2 tablespoons cooking water. Return pasta and water to the saucepan.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken. Cook for 4 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove to a plate. Cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining chicken, adding more oil if necessary. Cut chicken tenderloins diagonally into 3 pieces
  3. Add bacon to frying pan. Cook for 2 minutes. Add onions and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes or until mushrooms are golden. Add soup, cream and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until well combined. Add mushroom mixture, chicken and parsley to pasta. Toss to combine. Season with cracked black pepper. Serve.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Herb & Mozzarella Wrapped Veal

Recipe from Donna Hay's No Time to Cook, page 125

Serves 2


2 teaspoons oregano leaves
4 large slices pancetta
4x60g thin veal steaks
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
4 slices mozzarella


  1. Place pancetta on a board and top with a piece of veal. Sprinkle with thyme and oregano and place a slice of mozzarella on one end so that you can fold the pancetta and veal over to enclose the cheese.
  2. Place veal on a baking tray and cook under a preheated grill for 5-7 minutes or until veal is cooked and pancetta is crispy. Divide veal between plates. Serve with salad or balsamic carrots.

Balsamic Glazed Carrots

For a simply irresistible side, dish up these bright baby carrots that are bathed in a brown sugar-infused balsamic glaze.


2 bunches baby (Dutch) carrots
50g (1/4 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
15g butter, melted
1 tbs balsamic vinegar

  1. Trim stems from the carrots. Scrub to remove any dirt. Peel.
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C. Place the carrots in a glass or ceramic ovenproof baking dish.
  3. Combine the sugar, butter and vinegar in a small bowl. Pour over the carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
  4. Bake in oven, tossing occasionally, for 25 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
  5. Arrange on a serving platter. Drizzle over the glaze to serve.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009



¼ cup burghul (cracked wheat)
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
¼ cup mint leaves, chopped 
1 tomato, chopped
½ small red onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice


Place burghul in a small bowl. Cover with cold water. Stand for 15 minutes. Drain. Use the back of a large metal spoon to press out excess water. Transfer burghul to a large bowl. Add parsley, mint, tomato, onion, olive oil and lemon juice. Mix until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Buttermilk Pancakes

Nothing quite beats a sleep in on the weekend and fresh, fluffy pancakes! These are low in fat too!

Adapted from Super Food Ideas magazine, November 2003 issue, page 85

Makes approx. 20 pancakes


½ cup caster sugar
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups self-raising flour
2½ cups buttermilk
2 eggs
maple syrup, strawberries & whipped cream to serve

  1. Sift caster sugar, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and self-raising flour in a bowl. 
  2. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture
  3. Whisk buttermilk and eggs together in another bowl 
  4. Pour milk & egg mixture into the flour mixture. Whisk until batter is smooth. Stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Add some butter to 2 non-stick frying pans. Heat over medium heat.
  6. Pour approx. ¼ cup of batter into pan. Cook for 2 minutes or until bubbles form on surface. Turn. Cook a further 1 to 2 minutes or until cooked through. 
  7. Transfer pancakes to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
  8. Repeat with remaining batter, greasing pan between each batch. If you find the pan is getting too hot, reduce heat slightly.
  9. Serve pancakes with maple syrup, strawberries & whipped cream.
Notes & Tips

Buttermilk substitute: Place a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into 1 cup regular milk. Let stand for five to ten minutes. Then, use as much as your recipe calls for.

Using a medium-low heat allows the pancakes to cook slowly so they cook through to the centre and don't burn


To make blueberry pancakes:

Pour 2 tablespoons of the batter into the pan. Arrange a few blueberries over the surface of each pancake. Cook for 2 minutes or until bubbles appear on the surface. Turn and cook for 2 minutes or until golden. Repeat with remaining mixture

    Friday, October 9, 2009

    Linguine with Garlic Prawns & Chilli

    Quick, easy and tasty! What more could you want in a recipe? Try it and tell me if you like it :)

    Serves 2


    250g dried linguine pasta
    1 tbsp olive oil
    2 tbsp olive oil, extra
    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    1 fresh small red chilli, finely chopped
    10-12 medium green king prawns, peeled, tails left intact, deveined
    1 tbsp chopped fresh continental parsley

    1. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water, following packet directions, until al dente. Drain. Add 1 tbsp olive oil into the pasta and stir, to prevent the pasta from sticking to each other.
    2. Meanwhile, heat the extra olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes or until aromatic. Increase heat to medium, add the prawns and cook for a further 3-5 minutes or until the prawns curl, change colour and are just cooked through.
    3. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
    Notes & Tips

    Deseed the chilli if you prefer less spicyness in your pasta

    Monday, October 5, 2009

    Chinese Chestnut Sponge Cake

    I made this chestnut sponge cake as a birthday cake for my mum since she really likes chestnuts. 
    I wasn't able to source fresh chestnuts for this recipe so I used frozen instead- it was more convenient anyways since the chestnuts had been peeled already. The roasted chestnuts that I'm referring to in the recipe are the ready to eat ones that are packaged and usually found in Asian food shops. They add some sweetness to the chestnut filling but if you don't have any, just use 450g frozen chestnuts and add a bit more sugar when making the filling. Have a good long weekend!


    1x Chiffon cake base, cut into 2 even layers
    Click here for the Chiffon Cake Base recipe


    400g frozen chestnuts, peeled
    50g roasted peeled chestnuts
    ½ cup caster sugar
    ½ cup water (preferably water used in cooking chestnuts)
    ½ tsp vanilla essence
    1½ tbsp butter, melted
    2 tbsp milk


    3 tbsp icing sugar
    300ml thickend cream
    200g strawberries, thinly sliced
    10 roasted peeled chestnuts


    1. Place frozen chestnuts in a saucepan and add enough water to cover them. Cook until soft. Drain, reserving the water.
    2. In a bowl, combine sugar with chestnut water or plain water and stir until dissolved.
    3. Place chestnuts, sugar water, melted butter, vanilla essence and milk into a bowl of a food processor and mix until a smooth paste consistency forms.
    4. Whip thickened cream in a clean mixing bowl. Add in icing sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form.
    5. Spread a thin layer of whipped cream on one half of the cake layer.
    6. Spread a layer of chestnut filling onto cake layer with whipped cream. Place the other half of cake over the chestnut filling, then top again with some more whipped cream.
    7. Cover entire cake with whipped cream, then pile remaining chestnut filling on top of cake. (I forced the chestnut filling through a spoon with round slits to create the pile of strands seen in the photo. You can also use a potato masher too for the same effect).
    8. Place the remaining cream in a piping bag fitted with a 1cm fluted nozzle and pipe rosettes around the edge of cake.
    9. Arrange chestnuts around the cake, either in between the cream rosettes or on top of each second cream rosette. 
    10. Place sliced strawberries around the bottom edge of cake, with the pointy end facing up.
    11. Cut the cake into wedges to serve.

    Sunday, October 4, 2009

    Hainanese Chinese Rice

    Hubby and I ate Hainanese Chicken the other day at a restaurant which inspired me to try and make this dish at home. The effort was worth the time in the kitchen. This recipe will yield a nicely poached chicken infused with ginger and rice cooked in freshly made chicken stock served with fresh ginger & shallot sauce. Hubby wanted to go back for seconds, but since I had only made enough for two, I should double the recipe for next time!

    Serves 2

    Steamed Chicken

    2 Chicken Marylands
    1 spring onion, roughly chopped
    3cm piece ginger, grated
    1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
    1 tbsp shao xing wine
    2 tbsp light soy sauce
    ½ tsp sesame oil

    Chicken Stock (makes approx. 3 cups)

    2 chicken wings
    2 chicken breasts, skin removed, roughly chopped
    1 chicken carcass
    1½ cup chicken stock
    5cm piece ginger, thickly sliced
    4 spring onions, green part only, roughly chopped


    2 tbsp peanut oil
    Skin from one chicken breast
    Parson’s nose of chicken
    2 garlic cloves, grated
    2cm piece ginger, grated
    1 cup jasmine rice

    Chilli dipping sauce

    2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
    1 red banana chilli, roughly chopped
    1-2 tbsp caster sugar
    1 tsp white vinegar
    ½ tsp peanut oil

    Ginger and spring onion dipping sauce

    ¼ cup peanut oil
    3cm piece ginger, finely shredded
    2 spring onions, green part only, 3cm pieces, finely shredded


    1. For steamed chicken, fill a wok half way with water, place a wire rack on top, making sure water does not touch the rack. Place a shallow bowl with the chicken pieces, on top of the rack. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl to make a marinade. Place marinade over and around the chicken. Cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove meat from the bones or chop up if desired.

    2. For chicken stock, place all ingredients in a medium saucepan with just enough water to cover the chicken bones. Simmer over medium heat for 30-40 minutes. Strain, set aside stock.

    3. For the rice, heat peanut oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add skin and parsans nose, cook for 3-4 minutes, remove skin and parsans nose from the pan. Add garlic and ginger, cook for 2-3 minutes or until slightly golden. Stir through rice to coat in oil, add 2 cups of chicken stock. Bring to the boil, cook partially covered 5 minutes or until holes start to appear in the surface of the rice. Cover completely with the lid and turn heat down as low as possible. Cook a further 10 minutes. Remove the pan completely from the heat and leave to stand, a further 10 minutes. Season to taste.

    4. For chilli dipping sauce, pound garlic and chilli in a mortar and pestle until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, stir through remaining ingredients until well combined. Spoon into dipping dish, to serve.

    5. For ginger and spring onion dipping sauce, heat peanut oil in a small saucepan over high heat, place remaining ingredients in a medium bowl and carefully pour over the oil. Spoon into dipping dish, to serve.

    6. To serve, place chicken pieces/maryland on a plate, top with spring onion. Spoon rice on the side of plate. Serve with the chilli dipping sauce and ginger and spring onion sauce.

    Notes & Tips

    You'll need 1 whole chicken for this recipe.

    Thursday, October 1, 2009

    Coconut Prawns with Mango Mayonnaise

    Seafood fans will enjoy this recipe for freshly-fried prawns coated in a light crisp batter. The crisp batter in this dish is a little out of the ordinary - it includes coconut cream! So try these prawns with a twist!

    Serves 4


    ½ cup plain flour
    ¼ tsp caster sugar
    1 tbs coconut cream
    1 egg, beaten
    1cup panko breadcrumbs
    1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
    18 green prawns, peeled (tails intact), deveined
    Canola oil, to deep-fry

    Mango Mayonnaise

    1 ripe mango, flesh finely chopped
    Finely grated zest and juice of ½ lime, plus extra wedges to serve
    ½ cup (300g) whole-egg mayonnaise
    1 small red chilli, seeded, finely chopped

    1. For mango mayonnaise, place mango, lime juice and zest, mayonnaise and half the chilli in a food processor and whiz until smooth. Place in a serving dish and refrigerate until needed.
    2. Mix flour and sugar in a bowl and season. In another bowl, beat coconut cream and egg with a fork. In a third, mix crumbs and coconut. Dip prawns first in the flour, then the egg, then the coconut crumbs. Chill until needed.
    3. Half-fill a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan with oil and heat to 190°C (or test a cube of bread - it will turn golden in 30 seconds when oil is ready). Fry prawns, in batches, for 1-2 minutes until golden, turning if necessary. Drain on paper towel. Serve with mayonnaise, topped with remaining chilli.
    Notes & Tips

    Panko breadcrumbs can be found in Asian specialty stores. Substitute with dry breadcrumbs if none available.

    Teriyaki Salmon

    Presentation is an important part of Japanese cuisine, so adorn your sweet glazed salmon with easy-to-make shallot curls.


    55g (¼ cup) caster sugar
    60ml (¼ cup) soy sauce
    60ml (¼ cup) mirin seasoning
    4 (about 250g each) skinless salmon fillets, halved lengthways
    2 shallots, green section only, ends trimmed
    Peanut oil, to grease


    Place the sugar, soy sauce and mirin seasoning in a medium glass or ceramic bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the salmon and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 60 minutes to marinate, turning the salmon occasionally.

    Meanwhile, thinly slice the shallots lengthways. Transfer to a small airtight container of iced water. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or until the shallot curls.

    Preheat grill on high. Line a baking tray with foil. Brush the lined tray with oil to lightly grease. Drain salmon, reserving the marinade. Place the salmon on the prepared baking tray. Cook under grill, brushing the salmon occasionally with the reserved marinade, for 5 minutes or until the salmon is golden and just cooked through.
    Drain the shallot. Arrange the salmon on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the shallot curls to serve.

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