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Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

Chicken and Egg

Chicken and Egg

I’ll be the first to admit, I am a gadget junkie.  This weekend I stepped inside the mall and stepped out with an electric groom tool and a soft serve ice cream maker.  It really didn’t matter that even the salesman tried to dissuade me to get the groom tool or that I had previously bought two ice cream makers (which I had each used once).  My desire to have a soft serve ice cream party during the summer (only six months away) was enough to cloud my normally better judgement.  The truth is, most of the gadgets would be lucky to be used twice… Like my coconut grater, express pizza oven, and smoker (oh actually, that was only used once!).

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Raspberry and Cream Cheese Brioche

Raspberry and Cream Cheese Brioche

We were once asked to fill out a questionnaire at work that was meant to assess our strengths and weaknesses.  The survey had over 150 questions and we were meant to share our results with our group when done.  After the 10th question, I gave up, there was simply no way I was going to sit through the remaining 140.  I decided instead to ask my husband what he thought my strengths were, and what areas I could improve on.

“On the positive side,” he said “you are resourceful, always wanting to learn new things and you get along well with others.”

“But…” I asked.

“Well, you’re impatient” he told me.  “Impatient?? I’m not impatient!” I protested.

“You are – you can’t even sit down long enough to fill out a survey!” he answered.

Point taken.

When I want something, I want it right NOW.  The smallest hint of delay can frustrate and exasperate me.

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White Chicken Adobo

White Chicken Adobo

I remember the exchange of emails just like it was yesterday.  A couple of Filipina friends exploring the possibility of starting a cooking club that would promote Filipino food.  We talked about designing a banner and spent a few days coming up with an “introduction” to our club.  We talked about having monthly themes which we would then post our own version of on our blogs.  So in November 2009 a group of three friends decided to officially kick off the the Kulinarya Cooking Club.  I’m proud to say that twenty dishes later, the group still continues to celebrate the wonderful flavours of the Philippines. In fact, the group today numbers over 50 members!

This month, Kulinarya does “White Food”, chosen by Adora from Adora’s Box and Diona from Tita Flips.

I’ve chosen to share my version of one of the Philippine’s well known and most loved dishes…adobo.   Now,  you must realize that Filipinos take their adobo very seriously.  Almost everyone seems to think that their version is the best.  Well,  this version is sure to rival the best of the best.  Seriously.

A more common version of adobo is cooked with vinegar and soy, this recipe eliminates the soy sauce, which makes it the “white” version of adobo.  Adobo is essentially a stew, usually made with chicken and pork, where the meat is simmered over and the dish is finished by pan frying the meat before serving.  Quite different from  most stews where the meat is seared and then simmered over a long time.  As for me, I’ve pan fried the meat before and after simmering – a little extra step but I do love the resulting crispiness of the chicken skin in this recipe.

Adobong Puti (White Chicken Adobo)

Serves 4

  • 8 chicken thighs, de-boned (with skin on)
  • 6 tablespoons oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 125 ml white vinegar
  • 6 pieces black pepper corns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt  to taste
  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large pan. When hot, add the chicken in batches to brown the skin, around 3 minutes. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan.
  2. Remove the chicken pieces and take out some of the oil in the pan and put the pan back on the heat.
  3. Add the garlic and saute, then add the white vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaves and chicken. Allow the vinegar to come to a boil then add enough water to cover the chicken, around 500 to 750 ml.
  4. Allow the chicken to simmer, around 30 minutes until cooked. When done, remove the chicken from the pan and allow the sauce to simmer further until the sauce thickens to almost a syrup, around 20 minutes. When ready to serve the chicken, heat the rest of the oil in a separate pan and crisp the skin once more. Serve the sauce on the side and some white rice.

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Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

I had a friend who was visiting for a few days and I found out that she had stopped eating meat since the last time I saw her.  On a whim, I told her that I too would give up meat.   If you read my blog, you’ll notice that I’ve always loved cooking/eating meat and there are a considerable number of recipes penned here.  So while the decision to do this was initially born out of curiosity to see if I could last a few days, I knew lasting more than a week wasn’t going to be easy.  I don’t know how long this will last – a few more weeks?  Months perhaps?  Forever?  I’m not really sure but for the meantime, I’m starting to enjoy the challenge of making tasty and meatless dinners.

This is one of those meatless dishes that I could happily eat everyday.  Think layers of creamy pumpkin puree and ricotta in between sheets of homemade pasta – believe me – it’s enough to convert any carnivore.

A little note about the recipe – it’s very simple to put together – unless you’re like me where you want to complicate things and make your own pasta (it’s worth it though) – but if you’re pressed for time, use store bought lasagna sheets.  Also, the pumpkin puree is delicious as a side dish too.

“I’m vegetarian!” I told proudly told a  work colleague during drinks one day.

“Since when?”  he asked.

“Wait a second,” another friend interrupted.  “Didn’t you just put that pate in your mouth?”  She asked.

“Ahh… actually I still eat chicken… and sesafood.” I clarified.

Vegetarian… almost.

Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna with Sage, Hazelnuts and Burnt Butter Sauce

Serves 4

  • 1 kilo Pumpkin
  • 150 grams unsalted butter plus 50 grams butter
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 400 grams ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 recipe pasta (see here)
  • 100 grams parmesan cheese
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 20 grams toasted hazelnuts
  1. To make the pumpkin puree, peel the pumpkin and diced into 2 inch cubes. Heat the 150 grams of butter in a pan and add the pumpkin once the butter is melted. Add the vanilla bean and scraped seeds and cook the pumpkin until soft enough that you can cut it with a spoon, around 20 minutes. Stir the pumpkin once in a while to make sure that the pumpkin doesn’t catch to the bottom of the pan. Once the pumpkin is soft enough, blend or process the pumpkin until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Mix the ricotta, egg and nutmeg together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside
  3. Grease a baking pan with some olive oil and lay sheets of cooked pasta to cover the bottom of the pan. Layer a third of the pumpkin puree and top with more of the lasagna sheets.
  4. Top with a third of the ricotta mixture and the cover again with more lasagna sheets.
  5. Now add half of the remaining pumpkin puree and cover with the lasagna sheets. Add half of the remaining ricotta and again, more lasagna sheets. Finally, spread the remaining pumpkin puree and on top of this add the rest of the ricotta. Top with parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake the lasagna in a pre-heated oven at 180c (fan forced) for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown.
  7. Heat the remaining butter along in a small sauce pan until it goes nutty brown. Add the sage leaves and to crisp them up. Top with the toasted hazelnuts.
Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

On another note, the Council of Italian Restaurants Association (CIRA) has just posted their latest class schedule for June/July/August.  If you are interested in attending any of their classes, email cira@cira.com.au or follow @italcira on twitter for more details.

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Chinese Roast Pork Belly

Chinese Roast Pork Belly

I once challenged my husband (then boyfriend) to a food contest. We were planning a dinner and I told him that we both should come up with our own menu and get my Mom to judge which was better. He had very simple tastes (then) and I since I would pour over food magazines during my spare time – it was a no brainer who would win. I can’t even remember what his menu was (nor could I remember mine) – but I do remember how excited he seemed and how serious he was taking the challenge. I took one look at his “entry” and in a moment of kindness I decided that I would let him win. I liked that he tried hard and was I excited to see him passionate about food (for once). When he wasn’t looking I snuck to where my Mom was and told her that we were having a competition on who could make a better menu and whatever happened – to please say that he had a better menu.

I regret doing this now.

He has never let me forget that he won the menu challenge. No matter how many times I tell him it was rigged, he insists that he won.

To this day we have these menu competitions. The last one was about a month ago when we had dinner at Duke’s Bistro in Darlinghurst.  One dish we shared were these slow cooked beef ribs with mustard sauce, daikon and some shiso served with mandarin pancakes – like how you would serve peking duck. We both loved the idea of the pancakes and thought wrapping something other than peking duck was genius.  “Can you come up with something better?”  He asked.

“Challenge accepted.”  I told him.

On pieces of paper we wrote what we thought would go best with the pancakes…

Can you guess whose idea the roast pork belly was?

Chinese Roast Pork Belly

Chinese Roast Pork Belly

Easy Crispy Chinese Roast Pork Belly

This is the first part of two. The dish is served with some Mandarin pancakes, spring onions, and cucumbers. I’ve used sriracha sauce although a spicy Chinese mustard sauce would also work well. The secret to the crispy skin is to make sure it is completely dry before roasting. To ensure the meat is moist, roasting over a pan of water does the trick. I’ll post the Mandarin Pancake recipe next.

  • 600 grams pork belly
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon five spice powder
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  1. Score the pork belly lengthways (or ask your butcher to score the skin for you). Place the pork belly skin side up, on a plate and on top of the kitchen sink. Boil around three cups of water and pour this over the pork belly. Pat the pork belly dry and place on a plate in the refrigerator for an hour or two.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the paste by mixing the salt, five spice, garlic and caster sugar – using a mortar and pestle or food processor until the mixture resembles a rich dark brown paste.
  3. Once the pork is ready, place this on a chopping board, skin side down, and cut through the flesh, making sure not to cut through the skin. You will need to rub the spice paste all over the flesh, including the crevices and sides. Make sure not to rub any paste on the skin.
  4. Place the pork belly on a rack and place this back into the refrigerator to allow the skin to dry, at least four hours, or overnight.
  5. To cook the meat, remove the pork belly from the refrigerator. Bring the oven to 220 c (fan forced). Fill a deep baking tray around half way with water and place a wire rack over this. This will keep the pork flesh moist while the skin crisps up. Place the tray and rack in the oven and put the pork belly (skin side up) on top of the rack. Roast the pork for 20 minutes at this temperature and then drop the temperature to 180 c for 30 minutes. Finally, take the temperature up to 230 c for 15 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and rest for around 10 minutes. Cut into serving pieces and serve with Mandarin pancakes.
Chinese Roast Pork Belly and Mandarin Pancakes

Chinese Roast Pork Belly and Mandarin Pancakes

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Onion Spanakopita (Braised Onion Pie)

Onion Spanakopita (Braised Onion Pie)

“Why can’t you help out more with the housework?”  I screamed at my husband early on Saturday.

I must have shocked him at six in the morning but I was tired and grumpy and the dogs were whimpering for a walk and I wanted him, for once, to take care of it.

“Where is this coming from?” he asked.  “I’m always walking the dogs, cooking and washing and YOU need to do your share!”  I told him.

Now, I know that arguing with your husband at six a.m. isn’t the best of ideas and no arguments get resolved so early in the morning, but I wouldn’t back down.  So back and forth we went about who was going to walk the dogs and why I thought he wasn’t “sharing the burden” (yes, those were my words) and how he thought I was crazy for bringing this up so early in the morning and after twenty minutes we never really got to any resolution.

Instead of dwelling on our fight, I decided to take my mind off things and bake this beautiful Braised Onion Pie which I saw from the cookbook of Gary Mehigan and George Colombaris called “Your Place or Mine”  The recipe is George’s take on his Mum’s Spanakopita, a Greek pie made with spinach and feta.  Instead of the spinach, George makes onions the star of this dish.  The dish is made with caramelized onions, shallots, garlic, leeks, ricotta and a beautiful crumbly Greek feta.

Onion Spanakopita

Onion Spanakopita

A word of caution, there is a lot of onions to go through with this dish.  I normally refrigerate my onions prior to slicing them which, at least for me, helps to prevent my crying while I slice them.  But on that morning, there were lots of tears.

It was worth it though.  I started cooking at 10:00 am and at 10:30 my husband took the dogs for a walk.  At 11:30 he came back and watered the plants…. at 12 noon he took the trash out.

Something was going on.  Could it be the smell of the sweet caramelized onions making him sorry?  Was he trying to make amends so he could have some lunch?

As we sat down for lunch I asked him why he was being so nice.

“I knew you were upset, I saw you crying and wanted to make it up to you.” he said.

Crying? Should I admit that it was the onions?

Or maybe wait for him to read this post… 🙂

Onion Spanakopita (Braised Onion Pie)

Onion Spanakopita (Braised Onion Pie)

Onion Spanakopita (Braised Onion Pie)

From Your Place or Mine? Gary Mehigan & George Calombaris

  • 150 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 400 grams firm ricotta cheese
  • 400 grams feta, crumbled
  • 18 sheets filo pastry
  • 200 ml butter
  • sea salt flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil over high heat in a heavy based sauce pan. Add the onions, shallots, garlic, leeks, picked thyme sprigs and bay leaves and cook out for around 5 minutes over high heat. Turn the heat down to low and cook the mixture gently until the onions are caramelized, this will take around 45 minutes. Make sure to stir frequently to prevent the onions from catching the bottom of the pan and burning.
  2. Allow the onion mixture to cool and remove the bay leaves. Mix in the ricotta and crumbled feta.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 170c fan-forced.
  4. Cut the sheets of filo to fit a baking tray (I used a baking tray measuring 30cm by 24 cm) and lay the sheets on top of some greaseproof or baking paper and then cover with a damp cloth to prevent drying and cracking. Take one sheet of filo and butter the bottom of the tray. Spread a layer of the filo and brush some butter to cover and then layer another sheet of filo and brush some more butter to cover. Repeat this with six more sheets, brushing some butter each time.
  5. Place half of the onion mixture on the filo sheets and spread evenly. Next, cover with three more buttered sheets of filo and then the remaining onion mixture. Finally, place another seven sheets of buttered filo (make sure you butter the last sheet).
  6. Bake the pie in a pre-heated oven for 45 minutes and serve warm. If you are making the pie in advance, you can reheat the pie in a 180c oven for 15 minutes.

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Prawn Dumplings with XO Sauce

Prawn Dumplings with XO Sauce

A year ago I attempted to make har gow and failed miserably.  It might have been because I used wheat flour instead of wheat starch and the resulting dough was so sticky that I had to throw the “ball of glue” away.  The experience was enough to turn me away from trying to make them for a very long time.  That is until I had a monumental craving for these dumplings. Cravings so intense that I had har-gau for lunch, FIVE straight days.  I would go to one of the nearby yum cha places and order take-away.  By the third day it was not only getting expensive – it was also getting slightly embarrassing to arrive at the restaurant and have the waiter smile knowingly, and then signal the lady in the dumpling cart to bring the har gow for me.

By the fourth day I felt like an addict trying to hide a bad craving.  My husband called at 11:30 asking whether I wanted to have Japanese for lunch.  My heart being set on the dumplings,  “I can’t, I have an important meeting that I need to prepare for.” I told him.

By the fifth day I had to admit that things were getting out of hand and vowed to try my hand at making them again.

So here’s the result.  If you are thinking of having a go at making these crystal prawn dumplings, this is a great place to start.  This version of har gow is delicious – just like the ones in the yum cha place.

Here’s the thing – after having them for five days straight and then making them on my own on the sixth day, I’ve suddenly gotten over my craving.

My husband however, is a different story.

He can’t get enough of them.

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