Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Risoni Pasta with Charred Cauliflower, Peas and Pancetta

This is a simple warm pasta salad flavoured with fresh flat leafed parsley, thyme and good thickened cream.

I love easy weeknight dinners that have all the benefits of a labour intensive meal. This pasta is perfect for spring afternoons with a bottle of wine.

Serves 2
2/3 cup risoni pasta
½ cup peas
¼ small cauliflower
 150g pancetta
¼ small red onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
½ tsp fresh thyme
3 tbsp thickened cream
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Bring water to boil and cook risoni pasta as directed on the packaging. Usually 5 – 7 minutes.

Chop cauliflower into small pieces and coat in olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook in a frypan on high heat, turning only once the bottom is charred. Continue to do so until all sides have a nice dark brown charring. Add peas and reduce heat to medium. Add 1/3 cup of water and let reduce.

Once the water has reduced and the peas are a bright green, add cream and mix well. Set aside.

In a separate pan, lightly fry pancetta and add to cauliflower. To finish, combine risoni, cauliflower mix, red onion, parsley and thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Chorizo Tapas Four Ways

A spiced chickpea and chorizo salad with cumin and cardamom
Hot sauce baked potatoes rubbed in chorizo oil and roasted garlic
Sticky and sweet vinaigrette glazed chorizo on salted avocado mash
Baked field mushroom stuffed with panko breadcrumbs, chorizo and topped with anchovy oil

Tapas is derived from the word tapa - ‘to cover’. Today it is used to encourage conversation while dining. If everyone else is anything like me, eating can be over in 5 minutes. Yum Cha is very similar in tradition. It is translated to ‘drink tea’. Originally it was a time to sit with friends, socialise and drink tea. The food was eventually the focus, much like in Spain.

Originally tapas started as a piece of bread or cured meat used to cover sherry at a bar, to prevent fruit flies from getting into the sherry. It eventually grew to cheese and a plethora small eats. People also believe it was a plate placed on top of the glass to deter people from noticing the terrible wine.

Either way, it takes its form of modern day tapas.

 Maybe there is something to be said about moderation, enjoyment, pleasure and a removal of guilt?  

Serves 2
A spiced chickpea and chorizo salad
½ cup chickpeas
½ chorizo
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp cardamom
¼ tsp nutmeg
 Flat leafed parsley, finely chopped.
½ lemon, juiced

Hot sauce baked potatoes
2 cream delight potatoes
\2 tbsp hot sauce
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp chorizo oil (from frying)

Glazed chorizo on salted avocado mash
1 avocado
1 chorizo
¼ cup water
¼ cup white vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp course sea salt

Baked and stuffed field mushrooms
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ chorizo
1 medium field mushroom
1 tbsp anchovy oil

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Start by cutting then boiling potatoes for 7 minutes. Dice 2 chorizo and fry on medium heat until browned and oil is released. Finely chop garlic and add to a baking dish with potatoes, hot sauce and chorizo oil. Coat well and bake in oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes, or until crisp and browned.

With remaining oil from chorizo, fry panko breadcrumbs and add chopped chorizo. Remove the stalk from field mushroom and add fill with panko mix. Cook in oven for 10 minutes.

In a pot bring water, vinegar and sugar to the boil. Reduce heat and let the vinaigrette reduce to half. Mash avocado and salt and plate. Reheat chorizo and coat in vinaigrette. Serve on avocado mash.

 Mix chickpeas, finely chopped flat leafed parsley, herbs and add lemon juice. Add chorizo and mixed well.

Serve with a good bottle of sherry.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tempura Broccolini with Goats Cheese, Flaked Almonds and Lemon Juice

When you can’t sleep night after night, most normal people have an ambien or read. I lie in bed playing 5 foods – a game where I take 5 ingredients and create a recipe. Debatably a sad state of affairs yes, BUT I have had some of my most interesting recipes thought up in bed.

The latest 5 foods instalment, an anchovy infused tempura broccolini topped with flaked almonds and goats cheese, finished with lemon juice. Almost 5, right?

When you’re frying, be sure to cook the bush of the broccolini well so you’re not left with half cooked tempura batter.

The recipe can be very intense with so many rich ingredients, so adding lemon juice adds a freshness. 


Serves 2
1 bunch broccolini
1tbsp anchovy oil (from preserved anchovies)
125g tempura flour
180ml water
50 goats cheese
4 tbsp flaked almonds
½ juice of small lemon
¾ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper


Mix tempura batter, water and anchovy oil until well combined and smooth. Pre-heat olive oil in a small pan on medium heat.

Add broccolini to tempura batter and coat well. Add to the pan and fry 3 -5 minutes on each side. Be sure to use a paper towel to remove all excess oil when you remove from pan.

Plate up, top with feta, flaked almonds and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Chicken Maryland Roasted in Honey, Balsamic Glaze and Sea Salt

Chicken marylands (the leg with thigh and drumstick) are the best portions of chicken for roasting. The thigh meat and the drumstick are juicy and full of flavour. This recipe is so simple and big in flavour. I wanted to take sweet and savoury to the roast. The chicken starts with butter placed between the skin and the meat, then rubbed with balsamic glaze, honey, sea salt and cracked pepper.

Serves 2

2 chicken marylands
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp balsamic glaze
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.  

Start by using your fingers to separate the skin and the meat by running your fingers under the skin of the maryland. Be careful not to separate the sides of the chicken; the butter needs to stay as concealed as possible to cook the meat and skin from inside.

Rub the outside of skin with honey, balsamic glaze and finish with salt and pepper. Place in oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes, depending on the strength of your oven.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Kale with Flaked Almonds and Persian Feta

Kale, flaked almond and Persian feta with an olive oil, honey and lemon dressing.

Kale takes its roots from the ancient Romans and Greeks where it was grown in gardens. It found its way to America in the 1600’s and has since undergone a huge renaissance worldwide.

I only discovered kale last year and I have never looked back. I saw my friend Anna massaging her kale – she explained that it was to remove bitterness and soften the taste. She made a beautiful salad with kale and strawberries and I died. Its health benefits match its marvellous taste and you could endlessly reinvent what you eat. It’s becoming more readily available in Australia too, which is great because there’s about a 10 year lag between us and the rest of the world usually.

Kale holds a great amount of fibre  which flushes out toxins and DNA harming chemicals. It contains high amounts of vitamins A, C and K (for healthy blood), as well as being a strong source of minerals such as manganese and calcium. Carotenoids are a powerful antioxidant that supports and strengthens the immune and reproductive systems. It also contains cancer fighting nutrients.

Always buy organic if you can, the soil will shape the taste and nutrient content of your kale. If you can’t buy organic, wash your greens in water with 1 or 2 tablespoons white vinegar – it removes all of the chemicals produce is sprayed with.

Also – keep the stem – it is tasty and contains all the good stuff!

I chose to keep it simple and healthy, with the exception of feta cheese. A great salad to have with meat, fish or even on its own.


Serves 2
4 cups kale
150g flaked almonds
50g Persian feta
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
½ lemon, juiced.

Clean kale as needed and chop as desired. With your fingertips massage the kale until it turns a deep green. Plate up layering with kale, feta and flaked almonds.

In a bowl, combine olive oil, honey and lemon juice. Be sure to mix well to combine flavours.

Pour over salad and serve. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Crispy Five Spice and Sichuan Peppercorn Pork Belly

Rick Stein has some amazing recipes and this has to be one of my favourites. This is hands down better than 80% of what is considered ‘authentic Chinese’ when eating out, which is questionable in quality, in many ways. The test is actually in the crackling; if you don’t get it right, forget the whole dish. Roasting pork belly like this is amazing on multiple levels. The pork belly is already marbled with beautiful layers of fat, so there is no need for additional oils. The meat, if cooked to the right temperature will be a little firm on the outside and will have a melt-in-your-mouth center. You actually have to use a tray to catch all of the excess fat. But don’t let that turn you off.

Again, FEMALE PORK ONLY. Male pork does not have the best smell about it. Always check with the butcher. I have found myself over the past month or so bombed with an ‘anti pork movement’ online, warning people of the dirtiness of the meat, relative to other meat options. Also it is believed pigs are 'quite close' in intelligence to humans. We could go on fine combing every eating choice we make, but what’s the point?  Most vegetarians relapse on bacon.

There is an old Chinese belief that anything with 4 legs on the ground and a back facing the sun is edible. I don’t agree with it completely, but let’s face it; it’s a resolutely resourceful idea.  


Serves five to six
1.5kg female pork belly (bone removed)
1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 tsp black peppercorns
4 tbsp sea salt (2 for crackling)
2 tsp five spice powder
2 tsp caster sugar


Score skin of the pork belly, without hitting flesh in 1cm intervals. Pour boiling water over the skin and leave to drain. Dry meat with a paper towel.

Dry roast both peppers on a medium heat to release the aromatic flavours. In a mortar and pestle, pound all of the dry ingredients into a powder. Turn pork belly upside down and cover flesh well with powered rub. Set aside for 60 minute to allow the flavours to amalgamate.

Preheat oven at 230 degrees Celsius. Turn pork belly skin side up and rub 2 tbsp sea salt into the scores. This helps absorb excess moisture and makes for better crackling. Place pork on a rack, with a tray underneath to catch all excess fat. Blast bake for 30 minutes then reduce heat to 160 degrees, cooking for 30 minutes per 500g. Turn the pork half way into baking for evenly crisp crackle.

Chop and serve with Chinese vegetables and oyster sauce. . 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Caramelised Pork Belly Sliders

Beautiful bite sized buns made with Kylie Kwong’s Braised Pork Belly.

Quite a few years ago when I went travelling with some friends to Singapore and Japan I found a pair of thick framed glasses (when they were all the rage) that I wore for the hell of it. I was, without any hesitation nicknamed Kylie Kwong; partially in part because of sexual preference but mostly because in some strange way, I LOOKED LIKE HER. Raging, thick framed beauty cooking up a storm in the tiny kitchen of a hostel in Tokyo. So following in tradition, many years later I’ve taken one of Kwong’s best family recipes and used them to make the ultimate pork belly bun.

This two pronged recipe is quite lengthy, so I will break up the Ingredients into two parts; Kwong’s caramelised pork belly and my slider put together, which takes NO time at all.

Some of these ingredients may be hard to find, but between an Asian grocer and a more metropolitan supermarket you will find all the ingredients. ALWAYS ask the butcher for female pork belly. Male pork tends to have a pungent smell that is quite distinct and over powering at times.

Serves six

Kwong’s Caramelised Pork Belly

600gm female pork belly cut into 2.5cm cubes
1 cup brown sugar
3 limes, juice only
2 tbsp fish sauce

Red braising stock
2½ cups Shaoxing wine
1½ cups organic tamari
1 cup brown sugar
6garlic cloves, coarsely crushed
90 gm(18cm piece) ginger, thinly sliced
4spring onions, trimmed and halved lengthways
5star anise
2cinnamon quills
3pieces of orange rind, removed with a peeler
1 tsp sesame oil

Pork Belly Sliders
6 plain white buns
1 cucumber
1 bunch coriander/cilantro
Sliced pork belly


Start by boiling your pork belly to remove all impurities, then running under cold water. This only requires a 5 – 10 minute boil. Next, combine red braising stock and bring to the boil, then let sit and infuse for 30 minutes. When infused, add pork belly and simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours until tender. To make caramel, combine brown sugar and 250 ml water and simmer for 20 minutes until caramel forms. Soon after add lime juice and fish sauce. Slice pork belly and drizzle with caramel.

Steam buns as directed on packet. While buns are steaming, slice cucumber length ways. Place a slice of pork belly on the bun with cucumber and coriander and finish with a drizzle of caramel 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Banana Tarte Tatin

A little left of field with a little bastardisation, this banana tarte tatin is amazing. I have adapted this recipe from the traditional French classic, Apple Tatin. Made with a lot of love, butter and sugar you’re in for an easy treat. I used store bought individual fillo pastry sheets, coating with butter between layers too. Serve hot with ice cream and topped with cinnamon.

Serves five to six
3 large bananas
5 tbsp salted butter
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp orange zest
½ tsp cinnamon
2 – 3 sheets individual fillo pastry sheets
Butter for coating


Start by melting butter, adding orange zest and cinnamon. Follow quickly with sugar and cook until a beautiful caramel forms. Halve bananas length ways then again, sideways. Place flat side up in a pie dish, then pour caramel over bananas. Add layer by layer of the fillo pastry, coating with melted butter between every layer. Be sure not to confuse regular fillo pastry sheets, which may be thicker and contain many micro layers. The regular is fine too.

Cook in preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes. Let cool outside of oven for 5 minutes, then using a knife separate edges of the tarte tatin from the pie dish. Placing a flat plate over the top, turn the bowl over and let sit until it falls nicely onto the fillo pastry.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Reinvented Chilli, Salt and Pepper Prawn

I’ve been cooking with a lot of seafood lately and loving every mouthful. Seafood in Australia is something to be so thankful for. Although we import a lot, we also take pride in having some of the freshest and cleanest seafood in the world. Much of the farmed seafood available in countries with larger populations and consumption patterns is subject to harmful chemicals that are not regulated. The farming process is equally as toxic with the heavy use of industrial strength cleaning products to maintain farming equipment. The unfortunate truth about this is that a lot of these chemicals too, end up in seafood that we are consuming. The real evil however, is the disclosure and transparency measures in place. Many governments have very little regulation about what can and cannot be withheld from consumers and the danger is immeasurable.  A lot of heavy metals (mercury, antibiotics and pesticides) can be found in fish without a lot of omega three.

When buying your seafood, always buy fresh if you can and ask where the seafood is coming from. Ensure you are doing your part for sustainable fishing and avoiding seafood that is mass farmed. Pre-packaged seafood that is often bought frozen is imported and not always tested for quality and toxicity. FRESH, FRESH FRESH.

I made a chilli, salt and pepper prawn with a few extras from around Asia. All of the ingredients are readily available in supermarkets.

Serves two
6 large king prawns
3 medium radishes, finely sliced
1 sheet of seaweed, finely sliced
1 large red bullet chill, diced
¼ cup fried onions
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp white pepper

Start by deveining the prawns. I like to keep as much of the shell on for crunch, so I pierce the back and remove the vein. In  wok or hot pan, heat vegetable oil and add chopped chilli. Toss for a few moments then add prawns, salt and pepper. Don’t turn too much, as you want to achieve crispness on the skin of the prawns. After 3 – 4 minutes add thinly sliced radish and cook for another 3 minutes, tossing quickly. Remove from heat and add friend onions and seaweed. Serve with rice and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Peanut Butter, Char Siu and Sweet Chilli Oven Baked Ribs

Oh yes, the name says it all. You will be licking your fingers for a very long time. These ribs HAVE to be eaten with your hands and nothing else. I’ve always loved ribs; American ribs, Chinese ribs, Aussie BBQ’d ribs.

My recipe combines the best of the lot. Char siu, a beautiful Chinese way of preparing meat (traditionally pork), is a beautiful sauce that translates roughly to forked roast – the words don’t make much sense to me but the taste does. Combining this with peanut butter and sweet chilli sauce smashes all your preconceived notions of food porn. These are really simple to prepare and all the ingredients (including char siu sauce) are readily available at most grocers.

Serves two
500g pork ribs
¼ cup char siu sauce
¼ cup crunchy peanut butter
1/3 cup sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp canola oil  

Start by boiling off the ribs to remove all impurities in the pork. Preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius. In a bowl combine all sauces and oil, leaving aside a good dollop of the sweet chilli sauce to later coat the ribs. Using your hands, rub the ribs and be sure to cover well. The sauce won’t be very workable so be prepared to get sticky. Place on oven proof paper and pour remaining chilli sauce over the ribs. Bake for 1 hour. .

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Marty's Meatballs

This is one of my favourite things to cook, but every time I make it, it changes. It’s really never the same each time, but I’m going to post my last make so I finally have something captured. Meatballs are a two pronged endeavour; purists would argue less is more, and others would argue that more is the end of the story. I like more. But granted, there is a time and a place. On a winter’s night I want heat, I want texture, I want spice and I want complex.

Meatballs have been prepared all over the world for many years and there are records in the Ancient Roman cookbook Apicius that make reference to meatballs.

Serves four - five
For the meatballs
500g beef mince
2 eggs
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
½ large onion
½ large field mushroom
2 large cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp black pepper
4 cloves, crushed
1 tsp nutmeg
3 ground bay leaves
1 tbsp ground mustard
1 tsp salt
½ teaspoon chilli flakes

For the Sauce
2 cans whole, peeled tomatoes
3 large vine ripened tomatoes, diced
½ cup red wine
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, diced
1.5 large field mushrooms, diced lengthways
Olive oil for cooking
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp cumin
½ chilli flakes
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Start by finely dicing all of the meatball ingredients and combine, using your hands to meld the mixture. Roll into small balls and let sit in refrigerator.

In a pan, heat olive oil and fry meatballs off on medium to high heat, browning evenly, then set aside. Add more olive oil to the pan and add garlic, onions and mushrooms to brown. After cooking for 3 -5 minutes, remove from pan and add a dollop of red wine to deglaze. Let the alcohol cook out of the wine to leave behind the grapey nodes. Add tomatoes, both fresh and canned and then add back garlic, onions and mushrooms. Add the herbs and cook for 5 – 10 minutes, adding and adjusting herbs, salt and pepper to taste. It is a matter of trial and error until you reach your desired taste.

Bake in the oven with meatballs for 40 – 60 minutes at 180 degrees. Serve with pasta, as desired. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Smoked Salmon and Pickle Sandwich

A beautiful smoked salmon rye bread sandwich with pickles, salad and mayonnaise. A perfect open sandwich for a luncheon with friends and family.

I love sandwiches with endless amounts of salad, mayo and some form of meat. Salad sandwiches always remind me of primary school and lunch with friends. You need sweet and savoury, and you need crunch and you need a power packing punch of taste! Served open plate

Serves two
4 slices of rye bread
100g smoked salmon
Handful of mixed salad leaves
8 cornichons
6 slices beetroot
2 slices cheese
Bunch of snowpea sprouts
3 tbsp mayonnaise


On a plate, or small chopping board, plate each slice of the bread as you please. The first for me was mayonnaise, greens, sprouts, beets and then salt and pepper. The second is butter (if you like) and salmon.