Thursday, December 17, 2015

Mediterranean Salad

As the days warm up, I find myself thinking about having a salad for lunch more and more. I usually take a packed salad to work for lunch, which is why I need my salad to be more than a salad. I need to keep going through the rest of my work day. I have found that when I opt for a salad over other options for lunch, I feel refreshed and ready to go through the remainder of the day. I'm always on the lookout for new combinations and flavours.

This (sort of) Mediterranean Salad came together thanks to a colleague who put me on to the wonderful combination of roasted peppers, grilled eggplant and feta. She was putting together a sandwich for lunch using these lovelies and I thought to myself, I could make this into a salad and see how it works out. So on my way home, I stopped by my local Coles and went straight to their deli section and picked up some Danish feta and grilled eggplant. I have yet to work out how to make this eggplant at home. While I strongly believe that made from scratch is way better than store bought, sometimes you need to be open to using a store bought shortcut, especially when you haven't made anything for lunch and need something real quick. Enter, store bought fire roasted peppers; another thing I want to make at home. I have made this at home in the past (you can see the post here) and need to whip up another batch.

Back to the salad. It essentially is made up of veggies, the condiments mentioned above and feta - that's it! No dressing or anything. The best part is you wont even miss the dressing. The feta is soft, creamy, sharp and salty, so it takes the salad to a whole new level. Feel free to add or take away from this salad and make it your own. I have made this salad a few times and both, my husband and I love it. I made it with and without olives, so feel free to use them, or not. Also, toasted pine nuts on the salad would be divine. I don't know why I didn't think of that sooner, but I fully intend adding them to the salad when I make it next. This salad would make a wonderful addition to any barbecue as well.



Mediterranean Salad

A couple of handfuls of Salad leaves (I use the 4 leaf mix from Cole's)
1 fresh tomato, cut into chunks
Sliced cucumber (about 1/2 cups worth)
A few slivers of thinly sliced red onion
2-3 slices grilled eggplant, roughly chopped
A few slices roasted peppers, roughly chopped
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Danish feta, to taste

Place all the ingredients except the feta in a bowl and toss together.

Crumble the feta over the salad and lightly toss.

Serve.

** This salad also makes a lovely veg. sandwich.

Disclaimer: I haven't been compensated for this post either monetarily or in kind. I just happen to shop at Coles and that's why the mention.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

SRC: Thai Inspired Chicken Patties with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce

I'm glad to have you join me today. This is the last SRC reveal for 2015 and how this year has flown by. It's hard to believe that December is here. Its my favorite time of the year. Christmas decorations are starting to appear all over the place. Christmas carols have started playing. Bloggers have started holiday baking and cooking. Everything starts feeling festive. Shoppers are going nuts in most stores. There just is such a buzz this time of the year you cannot replicate at any other time. Have you started your Christmas planning, decorating and shopping yet? I'd love to hear about it.

For this month's SRC reveal, I was assigned Andrea's lovely blog Adventures In All Things Food. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through it. Andrea and her family have moved from the city to her husband's family farm and blogs not just about recipes and the food she cooks, but about life on the farm as well. I loved reading about it. I don't think I ever mentioned this before, but my husband has always dreamt of working the land. So these posts felt really special. I was spoiled for choice this month. She has so many delicious recipes, both sweet and savory. I had a hard time narrowing it down. I can't wait to try out her Gyoza, Tiramisu Cheesecake, Roasted Vegetable Tart, Pea and Leek Risotto and her Cherry Pie Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies, to name a few :)

For the reveal I decided to try out her Thai Inspired Chicken Patties. There is so much to love in this recipe. For starters you use ground meat. You sneak some veggies into the patties and you could tell the kids that these are Christmas confetti patties, with the green from the zucchini and reddish orange of the carrots speckling the patties. They are full of flavour and yes, please remember to serve it up with some sweet chilli sauce. That is a combination you will love. These patties will be a part of my weeknight dinner rotation. I stuck to the recipe but used just 1lb ground chicken instead of 1 1/2lb. since thats all I had. And used lemon juice instead of lime zest.

Thanks Andrea, for a lovely recipe.



Thai Inspired Chicken Patties

1lb. Ground chicken meat
1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup zucchini, grated
1 carrot, grated
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 red/green chilli (I used birdseye because we like our food hot)
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Sweet Chilli sauce, for dipping
Salt, to taste

Sprinkle some salt on the grated zucchini and keep aside for about 5 minutes. Drain all the liquid and place in a large bowl.

Mix with all the other ingredients except the sweet chilli sauce.

Heat a griddle pan or the grill.

Lightly spray with some oil.

Form the mix into patties about 1/2 inch thick and sear both sides about a couple of minutes.

Place on a baking sheet and finish off in a 350º oven for about 5 minutes or till they cook through.

Serve with the sweet chilli sauce and a large salad.





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Sunday, November 29, 2015

SRC - Holiday Treats: Cayenne Truffles

This month the fun gang at the Secret Recipe Club have decided to do a themed reveal in the run up to Christmas - yup we're rounding up some amazing holiday treats. I almost missed out on this fun little event, but Sarah - our super awesome leader, kindly let me join in. I was assigned Camilla's blog - Culinary Adventures with Camilla. I've known Camilla as a blogger for a few years now - lovely lady with an amazing blog. She has two wonderful little helpers that make an appearance from time to time.

I decided to try out her Cayenne Truffles for this weeks reveal. It is a simple recipe to make with some stunning results. But if you live in Australia, be warned, do not make it on the hottest day of the season, like I did. I had a little trouble forming them because of the weather, so they may not look as good as her's did, but they were so tasty. The cayenne is not overpowering, but subtle and best of all, I was really pleased that I can now say I've made truffles at home. Thanks Camilla for a lovely recipe.



Cayenne Truffles
Yields: Approx 2.5-3 dozen truffles

8oz good quality bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1-2 pinches of cayenne powder
Unsweetened cocoa powder, to roll the truffles in

Chop the chocolate into small pieces.

In a small heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer.

Take off the heat, add the chocolate and the cayenne pepper to the pan and let it sit for about a minute or so and then stir together till everything has melted and mixed well.

Pour into a shallow bowl and refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Scoop out small truffle sized balls and place them on a plate and refrigerate till they firm up, about 15 minutes.

Take about 2-3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder in a little plate.

Roll the truffle mix into balls and toss them in the cocoa powder and ensure they cover the truffles well.

Refrigerate and enjoy!!!



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Beef Puffs

Today I have a yummy little snack to share with you. Back in Bombay and in Goa, these puffs are legendary. You find loads of variants of the puff with a variety of the fillings - chicken, veg, mutton etc. They are pretty easy to find, though finding a good one might not be too easy. My favourites all came from stores in Bandra, namely my college haunt - Andora's Cafe, Hearsch's Bakery and a more pricey Candies. So eventually, when I learned to make my own at home, I was really excited. Back in Bombay I always made the puff pastry from scratch and it always turned out well. I hope to make it again someday and share the recipe here.

Here in Sydney, I was thrilled to find I could buy frozen puff pastry. That meant it was now possible to enjoy these little puffs with a fraction of the effort and time involved. Now don't get me wrong. I am all about cooking and baking from scratch, but everyone needs to be open to a few shortcuts every now and then, especially when life gets hectic. So today, we are going to use the store bought frozen version. That covers the pastry. For a tasty filling I use my Beef mince recipe, but leave out the potatoes. Also you need to make sure that the liquid has cooked out so that you don't have a runny filling. A runny filling will only result in a soggy pastry.

Now it's just a matter of assembling the puffs. I cut up each thawed sheet of pastry into 6 portions and place the filling on one side keeping away from the edge. Run a finger dipped in water along the edges and fold over to seal. Apply an egg wash and bake. You can make these in a larger batch and refrigerate them. Just bring them to room temperature and heat them up on a pan or in the oven and you can sit down to a nice little snack. Very often, I have these with some tomato ketchup and I can safely say, nothing beats it.



Beef Puffs

Beef mince (each puff requires a spoon of filling)
Frozen puff pastry sheets, as many as you need (Each sheet yields 6 pieces)
1 egg, for the egg wash

Preheat the oven to 220ºC (follow the package instructions if you're using puff pastry).

Place the thawed puff pastry sheet on a flat work surface and cut into 6 potions. Place a spoon of the filling on one side of each puff staying away from the edges like so -


Keep a little bowl of water near your work surface. Dip a finger in the water and run on the edges of each puff.

Flip the empty half over onto the side with the filling and seal the edges. Place it on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Crack an egg in another bowl and beat lightly. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg wash over the puffs. This gives it a lovely golden brown glaze.


Bake for 15-20 minutes or till golden brown.

Enjoy them warm.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sriracha Chinese Cucumber Salad

Every now and then I love a little snack. Yes, I snack between meals Dad. My Dad would be horrified that I still do. He is a strong believer that food should be restricted to meal time, unless you were at a party or something. However, I love my snacks. I've always tried to cook / bake from scratch and now I want to try and take that one step ahead and eat clean. It will take some getting used to, but I think it definitely is do-able and I hope to take that to my snacks as well. Does this mean you'll stop seeing desserts, bakes and other slightly indulgent food on my blog. Most definitely not. I will still do that, but will try and be more mindful of the kind of food I eat on a regular basis. Do you have any clean eating recipes that you love? I would love to try them out too. Leave me a comment and let me know :)

So back to this salad. I love cucumbers - continental, lebanese, baby cukes - all of them. One of my favourite ways to eat cucumber is straight up sprinkled with a tiny bit of salt. I usually serve some up with lunch or dinner. I wanted to try and change it up a little. So after a little looking around on the internet I came across this recipe. It was quick and easy and sounded delicious. I could definitely snack on some of this too. I'm very glad I stumbled across this recipe. 

I did this a tiny bit differently. I didn't drain out the liquid and to make it work as a fresh salad, toss salad in the dressing and serve immediately. If not, it will get soggy. You can make the dressing ahead of time and just chop the cucumber and toss it up just before serving.



Sriracha Chinese Cucumber Salad
Adapted from: Kirbie Cravings

1 continental cucumber, cut into batons
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 - 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sriracha sauce
1/2 tsp fresh coriander leaves and stalks, chopped
1/4 tsp red chilly flakes
Lemon / lime juice, to taste 

Mix all the ingredients except the cucumber pieces together in a bowl.

Add the cucumber pieces to the bowl and toss well.

Serve immediately.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Chaklis - Savoury Indian rice crakers

For quite a few months now, I've been yearning for some good Chaklis (Savoury Indian rice crackers). I have made them at home in Bombay using my late Mother-in-law's recipe and they are fantastic. I bought a couple of different packets from the Indian grocery stores here in Sydney, but it just never hits the spot. So why am I not making them here? I didn't have this - 


I know for those of you who haven't seen this before, it must look like something straight out of an alien space craft but just wait till you see what you can do with it. This is what it looks like on the inside - 


In some ways it is similar to a spritz cookie press. You slide in a plate from the assortment on the right into the barrel. For this recipe I used the one with the single star shaped perforation. Place your dough in the barrel and top it with the spiral press. All you do it rotate the lever on the top and that lowers the press and presses out the dough through the perforation. If that doesn't make sense yet, don't worry, it will shortly.

My dear blogging friend Manu of Manu's Menu had posted some recipes featuring this press. So I asked her where she got her's from and she very kindly directed me to the shops in Harris Park. So last weekend that's where we went and finally bought one. I've hunted for this press for so long here and am so thrilled that I now have one. No more buying those unsatisfying packets of cruchy, but still hard like stone chaklis from the store for me. 

The very next morning, we set out making a batch of chaklis. The dough comes together quick and easy and makes a decent sized batch. Stored in an airtight container should give us something to much on for atleast a week with a cup of afternoon tea. And that thought makes me very happy indeed.



Chaklis

3 cup rice flour (fine)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup ghee
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp. red chilly powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
Oil for deep frying

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and rub the ghee into the flour till everything is well mixed.

Gradually add little water to knead to a dough.



Heat the oil. Test with a tiny pea sized piece of dough. When added to the oil, it should rise to the surface quickly. If it browns really fast, the oil is too hot and needs to be cooled a little. If it settles to the bottom, the oil is not hot enough and needs to be heated a little more. 

The oil temperature is important, if its too hot, the chaklis will brown but stay raw on the inside and if the oil is not hot enough, it tends to absorb a lot of oil and wont have the right texture.

Take portions of dough and add to the chakli press.

Shape the chaklis on some baking paper.


That's my wonderful husband cranking out the chaklis while I fry them, just incase you were wondering if that was my hand ;)

Carefully using a flat spatula, life the chaklis off the paper and place into the oil. Let it cook on medium flame till golden brown. Drain on some absorbent kitchen paper.

When it has cooled completely, store in an air tight container.

Enjoy!!!





Sunday, November 1, 2015

SRC: Brownie Pudding

For this month's SRC reveal, I was assigned Anna's blog, Cheese with Noodles. I love that name. It combines two of my favourite foods. Anna sounds like someone I could be great friends with. Apart from cooking up really yummy food, she loves indulging in her crafty hobbies like crochet, which we have in common and sewing, which I'm hoping to spend more time on soon. We share the love of gardening too. And she lives is Alaska. Oh how could I forget her pets - she has bunnies, cats and dogs, which could only mean that she is a super busy woman.

While looking for a recipe to make for this month's reveal, I narrowed it down to her Buttermilk Cheddar Chive Bread, a very interesting Fruit Pizza, these droolworthy Garlicky Bacon & Cheddar stuffed Burgers and this refreshing Greek Pasta Salad. However, when I saw this Brownie Pudding post, my mind was made up. I love pudding and I love Brownies, so I new I had to try this Brownie Pudding.

It was easy to put together and requires just a few pantry staples. My favourite part of this recipe was not having to wait for it to cool down. You can enjoy it warm with some Vanilla ice-cream, which is exactly what we did. These puddings have the most delicious crusty top that is beautifully chewy and a warm, gooey centre, perfection. I was thrilled, because until today I'd only seen gooey centres on the television and here I was sitting with an individual pudding with the perfect gooey centre. Thanks Anna for a lovely recipe.

I stuck to the original recipe, only I made them in individual ramekins and I agree with her on the portions. I made 3 individual portions, but 4 would have been much better. That's just something I'll have to  make note of for when I make this again.




Brownie Pudding

115g butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder + 1 tbsp
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream, to serve with (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Grease 3 individual ramekin bowls and set aside.

Beat the eggs and sugar, till thick and creamy, light yellow.

Sift the cocoa powder and flour together.

Add this to the eggs and sugar mix and mix together until combined.

Add the melted, cooled butter and again mix until just combined.

Pour the batter into prepared ramekin bowls or a larger bowl that has been greased.

Place these bowls in a water bath (A water bath is a larger baking dish filled with hot water that reaches about halfway the height of the bowls.)

Carefully place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes if you are making one large bowl. If you are making individual portions, like I did, bake for about 30-35 minutes.

Test by inserting a toothpick near the edge of the bowl. When it comes out mostly clean it is done. Don't overbake as you want to have the middle a little gooey.

Let it cool for about 15-20 minutes and serve with vanilla ice-cream, if desired.

Here's the pudding bowls, just out of the oven -



Just so you know, you too can get the perfect gooey centre :)


Don't forget to check what the other members of Group A posted - 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Country Pumpkin Muffins

One of my favourite seasons is Fall and stemming from that, I love all things Fall - the days getting cooler, the leaves turning colour, apples, pumpkins, Halloween, love it all. You see, right upto this time, I'd only every used a pumpkin to make a savoury side dish, I'd never used it for anything sweet. For years now, I've sat back and watched so very many blog posts from all across the globe using pumpkins for desserts and sweet bakes. I've always been curious to see what that would turn out like but strangely enough, not so curious as to actually try it out myself. Go figure, right! A while ago, while pumpkins were at the peak of their season, I bought myself a little Kent pumpkin to finally use in a sweet bake. I hadn't quite decided what I was going to make. I knew there would be plenty of inspiration on the internet. (Gosh, I really can't imagine life without the internet anymore - can anyone else relate to this or is that just me?) Anyway, so after staring at my pumpkin for a few days as it sat on the kitchen counter I came across this recipe for pumpkin muffins.

It was the perfect choice for me. I got to use the pumpkin in a sweet bake. And it made for the perfect breakfast on the go option, since I start work at 7 am now. (Gasp!) It keeps really well in the fridge  too. This batch actually kept for a little over a week. All I did was take out the one or two we needed at the time and popped in the microwave for a few seconds to get the chill off and I ended up with a nice, warm, moist, flavourful muffin. I was more than pleased with this recipe and I can safely say I'll be trying my hand at some more sweet recipes with pumpkin in the future. This recipe makes quite a few muffins. I made some in the muffin moulds and the rest I poured into a bundt pan and got a little cake out of it.

You will notice that the muffins look a little different. Well, I forgot to add stir in the fruit and nuts before pouring the batter in the pan so I just added a few to each muffic. The ones on top with the raisins and nuts visible clearly are those ones. That was the time I added the fruit and nuts to the batter and the muffins on the lowest row are made from that batter. I think I like the ones where I can see the raisins clearly better visually. So I've decided the next time I make these, I will stir in most of the fruit and nuts but reserve a few to place over each unbaked muffin so the look like they're studded with little jewels. :)

The original recipe calls for canned pumpkin. I can't find canned pumpkin at the local supermarket, so I used a whole Kent pumpkin and made my own puree.




Country Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from: Taste of Home
Makes about 26-28 muffins
(I got one dozen muffins and a little bundt cake)

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup water
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 raisins (the original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cup)
1 cup chopped pecans (the original recipe uses walnuts but I didn't have any)

To make the pumpkin puree - 
Cut the pumkin in quarters / wedges.

Don't worry about the skin. Leave it on for now. Its easier to take it off after baking.

Take out the seeds and membrane. You can roast the seeds to snack on. Discard the membrane.

Place the pumpkin skin side down on a lined baking tray and baked it in the oven at 180ºC for about 30-40 minutes or till the flesh of the pumpkin is tender. Test with a fork or a knife.

Let it cool. The skin just peels off. You may need to peel the skin off gently with a knife, but it comes off pretty easily.

Mash the flesh using a potato masher or you could puree it in a food processor, if you like. I just used the potato masher.

I used a smallish pumpkin and ended up using all the puree for this recipe, but any excess you may have can be frozen to use later.


To make the muffins - 

Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

In a large bowl, mix the sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin puree and water till combined.

In another bowl combine the dry ingredients, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spice powders and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin puree mix and blend well. Don't overmix.



Fold in the raisins and chopped nuts.



Spoon batter into a lined muffin pan.
Without the raisins & nuts ---- with them added on top --- a combination of both 

Bake for about 15 minutes or till done.

If you are baking the batter as a larger cake, it will take longer. My bundt cake baked for about 50 minutes.




Sunday, October 4, 2015

SRC: Gingerbread Milkshake

Is it too early to be starting with Holiday goodies? Is a milkshake even an appropriate holiday treat? Well the answer is 1) Its never too early to start trying out Holiday goodies and 2) Yes - especially when you live in a place that has a Summer Christmas.

This month for the SRC reveal, I was assigned Nicole's blog, Daily Dish Recipes. I've admired Nicole's blog for years and then somehow in the recent past I lost touch with it. I was so excited to learn that I was assigned her blog this month. Choosing a recipe to make for the reveal was not easy. After shortlisting a few, I was left with 23 recipes and after tossing to and fro between them for a few days I was no closer to picking one. The only thing that helped me decide this month was the weather Gods. We're smack bang in the middle of our first heat wave of the season, and we still have 2 months of Spring to go, Yikes!!! I needed to pick a recipe the would cool us down and would involve little or no cooking. I quickly looked through my shortlist and I was down to 2 recipes - Homemade Fruit Irish Cream Sodas and Gingerbread Milkshakes. I had pinned the Irish Cream Sodas to try a couple of years ago and I fully intend trying it out. But in the end, my love for Christmas won and I went with the Gingerbread Milkshakes. I wanted to have a nice cool drink to serve up around the holiday season. This milkshake was really delicious, I can see myself serving this at other times of the year too. There are just two components to this recipe, making the gingerbread syrup and then blending everything together. Making the syrup was really easy and my whole house smelled like Christmas. The flavours were beautiful, but I will make the syrup stronger the next time, that way I wont need to add too much and will be able to control the sweetness. But its an absolute winner of a recipe. Thank you Nicole :)  I halved the recipe and those are the quantities mentioned below. I made absolutely no changes (except leave out the whipped cream for the topping) and was very happy with the result.





Gingerbread Milkshake

For the syrup:
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For the milkshake:
30 ml milk
210 ml French Vanilla ice cream
Ground cinnamon, to sprinkle over

In a large saucepan, mix the water, sugar, ground ginger, vanilla and ground cinnamon and bring the mixture to a boil.

Once it has started boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and let the syrup simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Store in syrup in a jar as you will have syrup left over.

In a blender, mix 1-2 tbsp gingerbread syrup, the milk and the ice cream and blend well. Taste and add more syrup if needed and blend well.

Pour into glasses and spinkle ground cinnamon on top to pretty it up.

Serve up!

Don't forget to check out what the other Group A members have posted this month.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Chinese Sticky Pork Belly

Today, I'm bringing on some serious yum! I came across this recipe, went and bought the protein, made it and am posting about in all in a 2 day span, which in itself could be a record. (Mind you I still have atleast a dozen other recipes that are vying for your attention, they've been made and clicked and are just waiting to be posted). This one just had to be shared with you at the earliest. It is simple, doesn't take too long, but it is so tasty, it would be a crime to not share it with you.

I usually make my favourite pork curry and we enjoy it. Apart from that, I've only ever made these pan-fried pork chops and thats how long my pork recipe repertoire is. Now that's just wrong and needed to be fixed. You will see a few more pork recipes coming up. When I was on the lookout for some interesting ways to cook pork, I came across this recipe. I have heard so much about how good pork belly is and also how good a sticky Asian glaze can be, so obviously the two together had to be even better, right? I was so right. The original recipe calls for the pork to be cooked for 2 whole hours. While I've done this before when I didn't have access to my pressure cooker, I knew I wasn't going to slow cook it this time. I used my pressure cooker and in about 15-20 minutes achieved the same lovely tenderness. If you haven't tried using a pressure cooker before, you should. Maybe borrow it from a friend and see if it works for you. I use mine all the time. I use it to cook meat, boil dry beans (instead of buying canned ones), boiling potato and beetroot and so much more. I cannot imagine life without my pressure cooker. Oh wait, I did have to wait for a whole year before I got mine from back home and it wasn't fun. It just cuts down cooking time drastically and you save on gas/energy by cutting down on cooking time. That's a win-win in my book. I hope to share more pressure cooker recipes with you in future.

Back to the pork belly. There's beautiful flavour in the meat and the glaze is just a wonderful bonus. One thing I should mention is be very careful when the meat is in the pan, there is a lot of serious popping that goes on and you don't want to burn yourself. Frying the pork adds some lovely crunchy bits to the pork. So you end up with tender, succulent meat, crunchy bits and a sticky glaze. Yum!!! I served this pork up with a bowl of warm noodles and some stir fried Asian greens.




Chinese Sticky Pork Belly
Adapted from: Kitchen Sanctuary

1 kg pork belly
1 heaped tsp ginger paste
1 heaped tsp garlic paste
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (optional, but I find it adds lovely flavour)
1 tbsp sugar

For the glaze:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
A pinch of salt
A pinch of pepper
1" ginger, peeled and finely chopped 
2 red chillies, finely sliced (or to taste)
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce

Cut the pork belly into 4 quarters. Marinade with the ginger paste, garlic paste, salt, vinegars and sugar for 10-15 minutes.

Add 2 cups water and close the pressure cooker. Put the whistle / weight on and bring to a boil over high heat. After a whistle, reduce the heat to low and let it cook for about 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, take it off the heat and let the pressure drop naturally.

Carefully take the pork out. Cut into bite size pieces.



In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil and add the pork pieces, salt and pepper. Fry on a high heat till the pork starts turning golden brown. Be careful while frying the pork as it will pop and sputter while frying.

Mix the remaining glaze ingredients in a small bowl.


Pour the glaze over the pork and cook till the pork looks dark and sticky. Stir frequently. Do not leave unattended - you do not want the pork to burn.


Once the glaze has thickened, garnish with some finely sliced chilly and spring onions and serve with some noodles or rice and greens.



Enjoy!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

My first attempt at Classic Scones

So last weekend I decided I was going to try my hand at making some classic scones. I've always enjoyed the idea of a good scone with clotted cream and jam. I was a little apprehensive while making them, because I heard if you don't do them right, you are left with rocks. While I have made scones before, remember these Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Scones (they were fantastic) and these Chocolate Chip Scones (which were also good), I had never tried a good old classic vanilla scone recipe.

Turns out this time around, I didn't get them 100% correct. They didn't rise as much as they should have, but they were so tasty. We had the first couple with butter and orange marmalade, since I don't have access to clotted cream until I make my own. They were nice. The next day, my husband nibbled on one of the scones since he was a little peckish and discovered these made really good biscuits. Obviously I had to try one out. They were so good with a cup of hot tea; only slightly sweet, crusty on the outside but slightly crumbly at the same time. I think I know what I did wrong with this recipe. I replaced the self raising flour with all purpose flour and baking powder, but I don't think I added enough baking powder. Also the milk I added to the bowl wasn't as warm as it should have been. These are both minor issues that I can easily sort out in my next attempt and since I was left with just a tasty scone fail, I'm not giving up on this recipe just yet. I will try it out again.

For the benefit of those of you who would like to try the recipe out, I'm posting the original recipe here. Try it out and let me know how it works for you :)


Classic Scones
Recipe from: Casa Costello

350g self raising flour
85g cold butter (cut into little cubes)
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
75ml milk

In a large bowl, rub the butter into the flour till it has just combined. Don't overwork it (or the scones go hard).

Stir in the sugar.

Slightly warm the milk. It should be warm but not hot. Add vanilla and lemon juice to the milk.

Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the milk mixture. Stir in till just combined.

Roll into about 5cm thickness on a floured surface and using a 3" scone cutter (dusted in flour to prevent sticking), cut out. I got 9 scones. 

If you are going to re-roll the scrap dough and cut it out again, don't overmix the dough, it will result in hard scones. You will get about 9 scones from this recipe.

Cook for 12 minutes or until golden.

When slightly cooled, serve with cream and jam or butter. 

Note: The original recipe doesn't specify an baking temperature so I just preheated the oven to 180ºC and baked them but the baking time was almost 20 minutes. I will do a little more research on this before attempting it again.

If you have successfully baked scones before, I would love to try your recipe out sometime. Leave me a link in the comment section.

Here's what they look like just out of the oven.



Sunday, September 6, 2015

SRC: Spicy Herby Potatoes

It's time for another SRC reveal. I so look forward to these reveal days, it just never gets old. If you haven't heard of SRC or the Secret Recipe Club, read more about it here. This month I was assigned Helen's blog - Casa Costello. Helen is based in the UK. You won't believe how excited I was to learn that. I was eager to try a few classic British recipes and if you go over to Helen's blog, you will find her Ultimate Yorkshire Pudding Recipe, her take on Toad in the Hole, a healthy version of Fish Chips and Minted Peas and a whole section on Scones. I did try a basic scone recipe which I will share with you tomorrow. But for today's reveal my love for potatoes won. I found Helen's recipe for Spicy Herby Potatoes and knew I had to try it.

This recipe is not your average recipe for baked and spiced potatoes. One element I found very unique is the addition of butter after the potatoes have baked. And you know what, I am a big fan of this step now. Adding the butter later on lets you enjoy a lovely distinctly buttery flavour on these potatoes. It softens the flavour somehow. If you are looking for a tasty side dish to your Sunday roast or for any meal, try these out. You'll be happy you did.



Spicy Herby Potatoes

8-10 small to medium potatoes
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp red chilli powder 
1/2 tsp mixed herbs (I used dried herbs)
Salt to taste
A knob of butter (about a heaped tbsp worth)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Wash and scrub the potatoes. I left the skin on. If you are using baby potatoes, leave them whole. I used medium sized potatoes and I quartered some and halved the smaller ones. What you are looking for are even sized pieces of potatoes so that they cook uniformly.

Place them in a baking dish / roasting tray.

Drizzle the oil over them and sprinkle with the salt, chilli powder and herbs. You can adjust the amount of red chilli powder to suit your liking.

Toss the potatoes to coat them with the oil and spice blend well.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 50-60 minutes or till the potatoes are done.

Carefully take the foil off and add the butter to the dish. Toss to help the butter melt and to coat the potatoes with the melted butter.

Serve alongside some roast chicken or any protein of your choice.


Don't forget to check out what the other members of Group A whipped up for this month's SRC reveal.




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Monday, August 17, 2015

Vegan Chocolate Cranberry Zucchini Bread

If you have more zucchini than you know what to do with, yesterdays savoury Cheesy Garlic Zucchini Bread and this sweet option should give you a couple of options. It is amazing how versatile zucchini is. It lends itself to both sweet and savoury recipes really well.

I was happy to find a vegan bake recipe, because I have quite a few readers / followers that would love an eggless bake like this. That coupled with the fact that it is so easy to make, makes this a must try recipe. I was glad I tried this recipe and it is a keeper for sure. The bread is nice and moist, light and chocolatey.



Vegan Chocolate Cranberry Zucchini Bread
Recipe from: Popsugar

1 1/2 cups zucchini, grated
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp allspice powder
1 large ripe banana
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and lightly grease a lined loaf tin.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices and set aside.

In another bowl, mash the banana and mix in the sugar, oil and vanilla. Fold in the grated zucchini.

Stir in the dry ingredients while being careful not to over mix.

Fold in the cranberries.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Cheesy Garlic Zucchini Bread

Those of you who follow me on Facebook, know that I've been meaning for this post to go live for over week now. Well, I've finally gotten to it and let me tell you, it's worth the wait. Recently I picked up some zucchini at a bargain price from Paddy's market at Flemington and was eager to try something different from the zucchini fritters I usually make. Don't get me wrong, we still enjoy the fritters every time they are made, but I'd seen so many other recipes around, I was eager to try something new. I went through all my bookmarks and pins and after a little looking, I found 2 recipes that I was going to work with - one savoury and the other sweet. This is the savoury one.

From personal experience, I knew I could not go wrong with a recipe that had cheese and garlic in it. And I was right. This is an easy loaf recipe that is so flavourful. It goes well with a nice big bowl of soup. I found that this bread was best eaten slightly warm. I tried warming the required slices in the microwave as well as on a pan. Both work well. The pan gives you light toasty edges, which I personally find quite yummy. Not to mention, it looks pretty. I love the green flecks throughout the loaf. I followed the recipe to the letter with the exception of swapping the green onion for some chopped onion and was very happy with the result. The only thing I did differently was bake a whole loaf instead of mini loaves. This increased the baking time and when I make this recipe again, I'll make sure I have a mini loaf tin. I think they would be perfect in the smaller sizes. 



Cheesy Garlic Zucchini Bread
Recipe from: Emily Shares

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup zucchini, grated
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 onion, finely chopped (the original recipe calls for 1/4 cup finely chopped green onion)
2 tsp dry dill (or 1 tbsp fresh dill)
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
4 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. 

Line a loaf tin with parchment paper and spray with non-stick baking paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients - the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and garlic powder.

Then add the zucchini, cheese, onion and dill to the bowl and toss to coat them with the flour mix.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk and the cooled, melted butter.

Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and gently stir through until the ingredients are just moistened. The batter will still be lumpy and that's alright. Do not over mix the batter.

Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake for about 50-60 minutes or till a toothpick pierced through the center comes out clean.

If you choose to bake these as mini loaves, bake for 20-30 minutes or till a toothpick comes out clean.

And you have yourself a beautiful loaf of bread.


Stay tuned for the sweet loaf. Here's a little peek at what it looks like -



Friday, August 7, 2015

Wisconsin Cauliflower Soup

Let me start by saying this has got to be "the best way to eat cauliflower" and this is my favourite soup recipe so far, ever. That is high praise for a recipe that's as humble as this Wisconsin Cauliflower Soup.

I'd been seeing a lot of cauliflower puree's popping up all over the place and I was quite eager to try making some myself. That's what originally prompted me to buy a head of cauliflower. We happened to be at the Flemington markets that weekend and I came across the most gorgeous heads of cauliflower being sold by the the grower himself, a lovely gentleman. I got a pretty great deal on a beautiful head and I was extremely pleased. I was pleased because cauliflower happens to be on the slightly pricey side in Sydney. I paid a fraction of what the prices usually are.

Now let's talk about the soup. Surprisingly easy to make, I was a little apprehensive about how it would turn out. But I shouldn't have been. Once this soup was blitzed and finished off, we sat down to a nice bowl of it. Both, my husband and I were amazed at the flavour of this soup. The mustard does wonders for the flavour and you can't go wrong with a little cheese thrown in. I'm pretty sure that this will be one of our absolute favourite ways to enjoy cauliflower apart from these baked cauliflower poppers. I am so happy to have found another spectacular recipe and can't wait to share it with you. So if you aren't too crazy about cauliflower, or have a picky eater at home, try this recipe out and I'm pretty sure they will be converted.



Wisconsin Cauliflower Soup
Recipe from: Butter with a Side of Bread

2 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups water
400 ml chicken stock
1 head cauliflower, cut into chunks / florets (2 1/2 pounds)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Red Leicester cheese (original recipe uses sharp cheddar and Pepper Jack), grated

In a large saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the onion and cook till golden. This should take around ten minutes.

Whisk in the flour and salt. Cook this off for a couple of minutes, making sure that the flour does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Gradually stir in the milk, water and the chicken stock.

Add the cauliflower pieces and bring to a boil over high heat.

Cover and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes or till the cauliflower is tender.

Now, if you have an immersion blender, consider yourself lucky and use it to blend the soup. If you're like me and don't own one, don't worry. Use your regular blender and blitz the soup in batches, while keeping the middle portion of the cover open to let the steam escape. I use a tea towel to cover this opening to prevent splatter.

Blitz the soup till smooth and return the soup back to a saucepan.

Return to medium heat till it has heated through, stirring occasionally.

Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the mustard and the cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup of the red Leicester cheese, till smooth.

Serve the soup topped with some of the remaining Red Leicester cheese.

** A little freshly cracked black pepper on the top is also really nice.
**For a vegetarian version, use vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock.



Sunday, August 2, 2015

SRC: Sriracha Peanuts

This month I had the pleasure of being assigned, Mellissa's blog, A Fit and Spicy Life. That's one thing I really love about the Secret Recipe Club, each month you are introduced to a blog you are not necessarily familiar with. I had so much fun looking through Mellissa's blog. If you are a dog lover like me, you have got to go over and check out the doggie cuteness on her blog. And yeah, while you're there stay a little longer and check out her recipes. There's something for everyone.

There were two recipes that I was very eager to try. Strangely enough, they were very similar recipes - both munchies. I've been surrounded by sweet food. If you go to a supermarket here, you're bombarded by sweet stuff - cakes, cookies, pies, pastries and so much more. But it is practically impossible to find good savoury treats that are slightly on the spicier side. So when I saw these recipes for Spiced Pumpkin seeds and these Sriracha Peanuts, I was sold. So by now, you've figured that I chose to make the Sriracha Peanuts and I'm so very glad I did. These were super easy to make and they are so addictive, I had to put them in a container and tuck them away before I finished the whole lot. I made a few minute changes to the spice mix, but that's only because the blend called for in the original recipe, is not available in my part of the world. But the resulting peanuts are crunchy and tasty and I'm sure I'll be making many more variants, now that I've figured how to add a spicy glaze to nuts. Thanks Mellissa for the inspiration.



Sriracha Peanuts

2 cups salted peanuts
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp Sriracha sauce
1 tbsp Smokey barbecue sauce
1 tsp Cajun spice blend
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with a non stick spray.

Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl and stir to make sure all the peanuts are well coated with the sauces and spices.

Pour the nuts onto the lined baking sheet and spread so that they form an even single layer of nuts.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes till they're toasted. Carefully stir them through once at about the 10 minute mark.

Let the nuts cools completely.

You could either pack these up in an airtight container and nibble on it over the next few days, or serve them right up. If you put a bowl of these nuts in front of company, trust me, you will need to make a double batch and might still not have any left over.



Saturday, August 1, 2015

Chopped Thai Chicken Salad

Today's recipe is like most of the recipes I share here - quick, easy and of course, dee-licious. I love a good salad recipe. Here in Sydney, it seems like the coldest days of winter have passed. The days are now feeling more like Spring and we can once again enjoy a lovely salad for lunch.

For the last couple of days, I've been feeling like whipping up a salad with a different flair and so while looking online for inspiration, I came across an easy to make Thai salad recipe. I knew that this was the recipe I was looking for. How? you ask. Well, the latest season of Masterchef Australia (which ofcourse, is my favourite source of food inspiration) had a challenge dedicated to Thai food and a lot of the contestants whipped up their versions of a Thai salad. When I saw this recipe, it seemed like a good opportunity to try my hand at a Thai recipe :) I'm all for new experiences and new flavours and cuisines. And this recipe did not disappoint. It had lovely flavours, a range of textures and I was in love with it. Even my husband, who might not agree with all my opinions on food, loved this salad. So if you have a hankering for something a little more complex than a basic salad, try this recipe out. You'll be glad you did. The original recipe called for green papaya in the salad, but I didn't have any and just decided to leave it out.

So basically this salad is just what its name suggests, you chop up a bunch of ingredients, whip up this really yummy dressing, toss it together and sit back and enjoy a really scrumptious bowlful. :) This salad is definitely going to make an appearance atleast a few more times this spring and summer and every one from now on. Feel free to switch up the greens based on what you have. I used some leftover roasted chicken, which I chopped up roughly, but you could use some poached chicken or if you have leftovers of store-bought rotisserie chicken that would work too.

For a vegetarian version, leave out the fish sauce and the chicken and it would be just as good.



Chopped Thai Chicken Salad
Adapted from: Pinch of Yum

For the salad - 
1/2 cup shredded / chopped (cooked) chicken
1 cup finely chopped cabbage (like you cut for a cole slaw)
1 carrot, julienned
1/4 onion, finely sliced
2 spring onions, sliced
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1/4 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

For the dressing -
1 clove garlic, minced
1 - 2 hot chillies, finely chopped (to taste)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp fish sauce
2 heaping tbsp peanut butter

Toss all the salad ingredients in a bowl after keeping aside a little coriander and some peanuts for garnishing the salad.

In another bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the salad dressing until smooth and creamy. The original recipe suggests the use of a little water to thin down the dressing. I just added a little more lemon juice instead. Please note if you are using lemon juice, taste while you gradually add it. You don't want the dressing to be too sour,

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to coat the salad with the dressing. Sprinkle the reserved crushed peanuts and chopped coriander over the salad to garnish.

Enjoy!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Methi Namakpare ... savory fried crackers flavoured with fenugreek

Two namakpare recipes in two days ... strange right? Well, I just wanted to be on the safer side since the ones I made a couple of months ago didn't turn out too well. These are easy to make and I figured if I'm making one portion, I can just as easily make another one in almost the same time with just a tiny bit more effort. I figured that way I'd get atleast one good batch.

The first recipe that I shared with you yesterday for a basic Namakpare was fantastic. That being said, this recipe for the methi version is even better. I loved the slight hint of an Aachari (Indian spicy pickle) flavor that the methi lends to these snacks. It is amazing how adding just a few more ingredients can fancy up a humble snack recipe.

These little crackers turn out nice and crunchy. My husband and I loved the flavours so much, it was hard to stop. I will have to double or triple the batch size when I make this next.


Methi Namakpare

For the dough - 
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
1/4 cup water, approx.
Oil, for deep frying

For the spice coating -
2 tbsp Kasuri methi (Dried fenugreek leaves) 
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Amchur powder (dried mango powder)

In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt.

Rub the oil into the flour.

Add water gradually, as needed, to knead into a tight dough. Adding too much water will result in a soft dough and we don't want that.



The dough needs to be a stiff dough yet smooth. It will take a little kneading.



Cover and let the dough rest for about 15 minutes.



After 15 minutes, heat the oil for deep frying.

Take a couple of drops of oil on your hands and knead the dough a little.

Divide into 2-3 portions

Roll out into a flat disc about 1/8 of an inch thick.

Cut into diamond shapes. You can always re-roll the scraps.



Carefully place the diamond cuts in the hot oil. I usually place the cut pieces on the slotted spoon and carefully place it in the oil. 

Fry on medium low heat till the crackers are golden brown and then drain them out on a kitchen paper towel. 

Make sure the oil is not too hot, else the crackers will just brown and not cook through and wont be crispy.



In a small pan, heat the 1 tbsp oil for the spice coating.



Add the rest of the ingredients for the spice coating. 

Mix well. 

Take the fried crackers off the kitchen paper and place in a plate or a large bowl.

Drizzle all of the spice mix over it and gently mix through using your hands. Be as light handed as you can as you don't want to crush the crackers.



When everything has cooled completely, you can store it in an airtight container.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Namakpare ... Savory fried crackers

I can't tell you how glad I am to report that I can finally make a good batch of Namakpare. What is Namakpare? These little gems are delicious, savory deep fried crackers. This Indian treat is found on every Indian festival platter (like a cookie platter). In my household, we never made this at Christmas, but I've always enjoyed them and have always wanted to be able to make some at home.

I made some a while ago, and while they tasted right, the texture wasn't. They were not crunchy. You see they are meant to be crunchy and that's what makes them so addictive. I was a little disappointed with this version and that was the end of it.

Anyway, I forgot about them for a little while and then all of a sudden, out of the blue, I came across a recipe a couple of days ago when I was looking around online. I decided I had to try them out. I was missing Indian flavours and I figured, this would be a good opportunity to try out another recipe.

This recipe simply involves making a tight dough, roll out into a disc, cut into diamonds, deep fry, cool down and ... Enjoy! The ingredients required are also very basic ones. There is a good chance you will have all you need in your pantry. This recipe took me back home in a bite. The crackers taste fantastic, they are crunchy and so very yummy. Once completely cooled, you can store them in an airtight container. Enjoy them with a nice hot cup of tea.



Namakpare
Recipe from: Cooks Joy

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Salt, to taste
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
Water, as needed
Oil, for deep frying

Mix both flours, salt and cumin seeds.

Add ghee and rub it into the flour.

Using water slowly and gradually, knead into a tight dough. (You want the dough smooth but NOT soft.)


Cover and let the dough rest for an hour.


When you are ready to proceed, preheat oil for deep frying.

Divide the dough into 4 portions.

Working with one portion at a time (keep the rest covered so that it doesn't dry out), roll out to a disc about 1/8 inch thick.

Cut into diamond shapes. In India, they have a really cool cutter with multiple blades that makes the process much quicker. But if you don't have one, use a knife like I did. I forgot to take a picture of this step :(

Pictured above is a different dough (the one for methi namakpare .... recipe coming up soon), but the process is exactly the same.

You can always re-roll the scraps and cut them out.

Carefully place the cut pieces in the hot oil. I usually place the cut pieces in my slotted spoon and place the spoon in the oil and gently tip the pieces in. I find that's the only way I can keep from burning my hands.

Fry over a medium low heat. (This low frying ensures they cook through and get crispy later.)

When they are a nice golden brown, drain and set on some kitchen paper to get rid of any excess oil.


When completely cooled, store in an airtight container.


Note: 
Because you've used ghee while kneading the dough, you wont need to sprinkle flour to roll it out, the dough will not be sticky.

Fry it over a medium heat. Frying it over high heat will just brown the outside while the inside will still be doughy and won't crisp up.

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