Pork and Prawn Wontons with Black Vinegar and Chilli Oil

I’ve been making this recipe since I was probably about 3. Like many kids who grow up in families who love to cook, you start with the most basic of cooking skills and build from there. From mixing the filling to forming the dumplings and cooking them, it’s the first recipe I remember my mother teaching me… and probably the last one I will forget . Over time, this recipe has evolved and that’s the beauty of it; once you understand the base recipe, you can customise it to your taste. Add chilli, XO, Chinese five spice, add mushrooms to the mix, like most great Chinese recipes, they’re open to a little free will and imagination.

Boil them, steam them or fry them, they’re a sure fire crowd pleaser. Click here to watch me make them while guest playing guest host on Studio 10, Australia’s favourite breakfast television show!

Ingredients

3 stalks shallots (scallions), green part finely chopped

1/2 bunch coriander, very thoroughly washed, stalks and roots very finely chopped, reserve leaves for garnish

1 thumb sized piece ginger, finely grated

1/2 small tin water chestnuts, coarsely chopped

150g green prawn meat, coarsely chopped

500g pork mince (nothing too lean as you need the fat content to make these babies succulent)

2 tbsp Kecap Manis

1 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tsp ground white pepper

Salt to taste

1 packet wonton wrappers

Dressing

1 tbsp Kecap Manis

2 tbsp Chinkiang Chinese black vinegar

1 tsp Lau Gan Ma chilli flakes in oil (from any Asian grocer)

Method

In a clean mixing bowl, combine the chopped shallots, coriander, grated ginger, chopped chestnuts, prawns and pork mince. Add the seasoning ingredients and mix well to combine.

Heat a small frypan with some vegetable oil to a medium high heat and fry off a teaspoon of mixture to check the seasoning. Once you have adjusted the dumpling mixture to your liking, you’re ready to make a batch!

Assemble the wontons by filling each wonton with about one teaspoon of mixture and sealing two adjacent sides with water to form a triangle. Make sure the edges are completely sealed to avoid unfortunate explosions if you fry, and to keep all the flavour and juiciness where it should be. If you want to get fancy, wet the two longest corners of the triangle and squeeze them together to make a tortellini shape (as pictured). Continue until all the mixture has been used up (though I love using this dumpling filling recipe as meatballs, or in a stir fry, too).

Heat a pan of water and place an oiled bamboo steamer on top. Steam the dumplings for 10 minutes or until the mixture is cooked through and the pastry is tender). While the dumplings are steaming, mix the dressing ingredients to taste. Dress the wontons in a bowl and then transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with more sauce and the reserved coriander leaves. 

Sticky Rice Lotus Parcels aka. Lo Mai Gai

Lo Mai Gai Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaves

I grew up going to Yum Cha every Sunday as a kid. Growing up in the very Anglo suburbs of Sydney, it was one of the traditions we had during the week where I felt we connected to our Chinese culture - unsurprisingly, it’s always about food. One of my favourite dishes is this one, little packages of sticky, fragrant lotus-scented rice, and succulent chicken and all kinds of other savoury, umami goodies packed within. Mum used to buy a few extra so we could take them to school, obviously I was THAT kid with the weird lunches (and proud of it, to this day).

Moving to Melbourne recently, the amount of Chinese grocers that stock these to take home and steam yourself are fewer and far between than Sydney, so I decided to learn how to make them myself. There are a heap of great recipes out there, and this one is an amalgam of a couple of the best, with a few amends of my own. These are great to make in a batch to store in the freezer, the perfect little savoury parcel of comfort food…and I can definitely vouch for the fact that they make a sustainably-packaged lunchbox all star.

For ingredients like dried lotus leaves, glutinous rice and any condiments your local supermarket doesn’t have (these days, the Asian grocery aisle is packed full of the staples you need), you can find them at any good Asian grocery store.

Makes about 8 parcels

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups glutinous rice

4 dried lotus leaves

6 dried shiitake mushrooms

1/4 cup dried shrimp

For the marinated chicken

2 chicken thighs

1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (available in the Asian grocery aisle at the supermarket)

1 tbsp light soy

1 tbsp dark soy

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder

The rest

1 thumb sized piece ginger, finely sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 heaped tbsp mushroom XO

2 lap cheong (cured Chinese sausage, found in the Asian aisle at most supermarkets), sliced into 1cm pieces

Sesame oil

For the seasoning sauce

1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tsp light soy

1 tbsp cornstarch

Vegetable oil

Salt flakes

White pepper, ground

Method

Rinse the rice thoroughly and then place in a rice cooker and cover with one knuckle of water, cover and cook. Cut the lotus leaves in quarters and soak in hot water for about 45 minutes, to soften. Soak the mushrooms and shrimp in separate bowls for half an hour in warm water. While the rice, leaves, mushrooms and shrimp are doing their thing, cut the chicken thighs into cubes, around 3cm. Place in a clean bowl and add the rice wine, soy sauces, oyster sauce and five spice and stir thoroughly, to combine. Set aside to marinate for 15-20 minutes. When the mushrooms and shrimp are soft, squeeze any excess moisture from them and give them a rough chop. Reserve about a cup of the combined mushroom/shrimp soaking water for later.

In a heavy based pan or wok on medium to high heat. Add about a teaspoon of vegetable oil, then add the chopped lap cheong and shrimp. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and bubbling, then remove from pan and set aside. Add another good slug of vegetable oil to the pan, then add the ginger and garlic, and stir fry briefly, to allow the flavours to infuse into the oil. Add the chicken and stir fry for 3 minutes (it will be ‘just’ cooked for now, but they will finish cooking once steamed in their parcels). Add the mushroom XO and a few drops of sesame oil, then stir to combine, then pour in the cup of reserved mushroom/shrimp water. Add the seasoning sauce ingredients; shaoxing, oyster and soy sauces, and stir to combine. Dissolve the cornstarch in a tablespoon of water and whisk into the sauce, to thicken. Add the lap cheong and shrimp mixture back to the pan, season with white pepper to taste and set aside (the mixture should be salty enough from the sauces).

Next, prepare the rice. Drain the sauce from the filling mixture and pour it into the rice, combine well.

When ready to assemble, trim the hard stem part of the lotus leaves to allow the parcels to fold easily. Place about a third of a cup or so of rice into the centre and flatten out to make a bed for your filling. Place a spoonful of the filling on top. Cover with about the same amount of rice, then fold in the two opposite sides of the parcel, then the other two, to form a sealed parcel. Flip over, so the edges are underneath, and set aside. Continue until all parcels are made; you should be able to make about 8 or so parcels or more, if you go smaller.

Steam the parcels for 20 minutes in a bamboo steamer, and they’re ready to eat! You can also cool them after steaming and store them in the freezer. Throw them straight into a steamer straight from frozen for 20-25 minutes when you’re ready to eat.

Chinese-style Egg White Omelette with Prawns, Chilli and Mushroom Floss

Chinese Eggwhite Omelette with Prawn, Caviar and Mushroom Floss

I fell back in love with egg white omelettes recently because there are only so many meringues you can make when the yolks are being used for custard or mayo (hellooooo holiday season!). The upside is, that egg whites are high in protein, low in fat and make for some super fluffy omelettes and scrambles aside, if you don’t want to head to Pavlova Town.

This recipe was inspired by an amazing brunch dish served by the very talented chef duo of Jemma Whiteman and Mike Eggert at their restaurant pop up Pinbone in Sydney’s Woollahra; a light, yet complex and indulgent combo of Chinese-style omelette - golden and crunchy on the edges and base, fluffy and cloud-like on top; capped with prawns, mushroom floss (more on this later), and because I was feeling extra, some Yarra Valley golden caviar as well.

Despite looking fancy, it’s actually a very quick and simple dish to make; and a total winner on your next brunch table. Perfect on its own, but also fantastic with a bowl of steamed rice on the side.

Ingredients

Serves 2 as a decent breakfast, or 4 as part of a brunch meal.

1/2 long red chilli, finely sliced

1 thumb sized piece of ginger, smashed

1 garlic clove, smashed

6 -8 large king prawns, peeled, deveined and halved lengthways.

1 shallot (scallion), green part finely sliced

4 egg whites

Mushroom floss (a flavour bomb of umami, made by dehydrating mushrooms - there are also meat versions available at most Asian grocers; pork floss being the most commonly available). This is a garnish and not completely necessary, though highly recommended.

Trout roe (again, not crucial, but it amps up the luxe factor)

Vegetable oil

Salt

White Pepper, finely ground

Method

Heat a small, non stick frying pan to a medium-high heat. Once hot, and add a teaspoon of vegetable oil and the chillis. Fry for around a minute, then remove the chillis from the pan and set aside. Add a little more oil to the pan, then throw in the ginger and garlic, and stir fry for a minute, to allow their flavours to infuse the oil. Add in the prawn meat, allowing it to lightly colour before flipping. Cook for about 2 minutes, until they’re almost fully opaque, but not quite- you don’t want them cooked all the way through, as they will continue to cook once placed in the omelette. Remove the prawns, and set aside. Discard the garlic and ginger. Remove the pan from heat for a moment.

In a blender, place the egg whites, a good pinch of salt and white pepper and blitz for about 30 seconds, until frothy. Going back to the stove, place the frying pan on medium high heat. Once hot, add a generous slug of vegetable oil. This is what will make the edges go golden and crispy, so don’t be afraid to use more than you think you should (this dish is very low in fat, you can stand to use a little more oil in the cooking for the right result). Once the oil starts to shimmer, carefully pour in the egg whites. The edges should start to bubble crisp. You can use a spatula to loosen the edges if you get a little paranoid of sticking.

Once the omelette is almost set in the middle, gently arrange the prawns on top. Allow the omelette to set for another 30 seconds or so (you don’t want it to be fully cooked solid). Using a spatula, gently ease the omelette onto a serving plate. Garnish with the spring onions, the fried chili, mushroom floss and caviar. Add a few drops of olive oil and an extra pinch of salt flakes to finish, and serve immediately.

Carrot and Miso Soup

Pumpkin MIso Soup Melissa Leong Fooderati

A super easy, turbo-charged veggie soup to add to your repertoire. Simply switch out the chicken stock for vegetable stock and the butter for olive oil for a hearty, healthy, vegan staple.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons vegetable oil 

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 brown onions, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt 

1 teaspoon ground white pepper 

2 tablespoons white miso paste

10 carrots, peeled, topped, tailed and cut into chunks

Enough rich chicken or vegetable stock to cover solids (about 1.5L)

50g butter (substitute with olive oil to make this vegan)

2 tablespoons good quality EVO (I love Alto Olives)

Method

In a large saucepan, heat the 3 tablespoons of oil over low heat. Add the garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and, stir to combine and bring the heat up to medium. Sauté until the onions are translucent, but haven't taken on colour. Add the carrots and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add in the miso paste and then pour in enough stock to cover the vegetables. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook until the vegetables collapse under the pressure of a spoon. Carefully remove the pot from the stove, add the butter and then and using a stick blender, blitz until smooth. Taste to season and serve with a drizzle of green herb oil, yoghurt and fried garlic crumbs.



Ù Tridd: The Pasta From Puglia You Need To Know

Ù Tridd Puglia Pasta

My mother Vincenza is a bit of a legend. She cooks food that seems so simple, yet is layered and nuanced and cooked with so much soul. This is a recipe from her mother Rose, it’s called ù tridd. It’s essentially a hand torn southern style pasta, laced with fresh parsley; similar to stracci (which literally translates into ‘rags’ or ‘tatters’).

Of course, you can swap out the water for stock or add garlic and more herbs to add another dimension of flavour, but then again, why mess with an OG Italian Nonna recipe? The origins of this recipe are from the Tatolli family’s town of Molfetta, which is part of the Puglia region of Southern Italy. As such, this recipe is rooted in humble ingredients; you won’t find rich butter, cream, truffles or other luxury ingredients here. Clean and simple, this is a case study in soul food.

Ingredients

The pasta

3 cups fine semolina

3 cups Tipo 00 pasta flour (plain flour will suffice if needed)

4 eggs

1 handful continental parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 - 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (as needed)

Extra flour to roll out

The broth

2 veal shins (you can also use lamb shanks or beef ossobuco)

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 celery stalks, peeled and roughly chopped

1 large brown onion, peeled and quartered

1 few sprigs of fresh parsley

500ml tomato sugo

Salt and pepper to taste

Finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve

Method

For the pasta, in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, add the semolina, flour and eggs and turn the mixer on a low setting. When combined, add the parsley and continue to mix until combined. Gradually add water until the dough comes together. Continue mixing until the dough is no longer sticky and has become soft and pliable. Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface and roll the dough into a log roughly 50cm long and 20cm wide. Cut sections around 3cm and pass them through a pasta roller several times so that the dough is smooth and uniform in thickness (around setting 3-4). Set aside to dry for at least 2 hours on wooden dowels… a clothes drying rack will also suffice! Once dry, tear the pasta sheets unto small pieces around the size of your pinky thumbprint. The beauty of this dish is that you don’t have to be too careful, just make sure the pieces are roughly the same size. Set aside to continue to dry out until ready to use. This pasta can be completely dried out and stored for later use.

For the broth, bring a heavy based saucepan or pot to a medium high heat and add a good slug of olive oil. When the pan is hot, sear the shanks until lightly browned on all sides. Throw in the carrots, celery and onion and parsley and stir to combine. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the onion starts to go translucent. Pour in the sugo and then top with enough water to cover the shanks. Bring to the boil, season liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then reduce to a low heat, cover and simmer for 90 minutes. Skim any fat if necessary. Season again to taste at the end. When the shanks are falling apart, strain the liquid from the solids. Reserve the meat, lightly shred, then set aside.

To serve, bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Once boiling, throw in a good handful of the pasta per person and cook for 4-5 minutes or until tender. Strain and refresh in cold water. In a separate pot, bring the deliciously meaty tomato broth to the boil. Add the cooked pasta and the shredded meat. Season to taste, then serve immediately, topped with finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, or any sharp, hard Italian cheese, some freshly cracked black pepper and chopped parsley, if desired.

Rapid Fire Apple Crumble...For One!

Super Fast Apple Crumble For One

A lot of recipes are made for more than one...which is fine, but there are times where a perfectly formed meal for one is just the ticket. This super fast dessert came about because solo movie nights sometimes need to be a little extra. This deliciously cute apple crumble is gluten free, refined sugar free and super fast and easy to make, so instead of popcorn, try this!

Ingredients

Filling 

1 apple (I used a pink lady)

1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

1 tsp Australian honey

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch cinnamon

Crumble

3 tbs almond meal

1 small knob cold butter

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch cinnamon

Method

Preheat oven to 200c. Core and chop the apple into 1 inch cubes and transfer to a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients for the filling and toss to combine. Transfer to a small ramekin so that the ingredients fit snugly, adding 2 tablespoons of water. In a separate bowl, combine the almond meal and butter and using a rubbing technique, use your fingers to rub the butter into the almond meal to form a crumb. Add the salt and cinnamon and then top the apple mixture with the crumble. Reduce the oven to 180c and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden and the apple is tender. Serve with coconut yoghurt and a drizzle of maple syrup if desired. 

A Vegan Chinese Hot Pot

IMG_9588.jpg

Ok, so by now we all know that even the most dedicated of meat eaters should probably eat a few more vegetables...not only for health, but also for sustainability of agriculture. That aside, they're bloody delicious when treated with a little love. Here's probably the simplest recipe I've ever posted, it's a Chinese-style hot pot that's full of flavour, texture and is super good for you as well, lots of protein, healthy carbohydrates and good fats to keep you full. 

Serves 1 hungry person or 2 as part of a meal

Ingredients

1/2 small brown onion, finely sliced

1/4 large sweet potato, washed and chopped into 1 inch cubes*

1 heaped tablespoon, mushroom XO sauce (from the Asian grocery aisle at most supermarkets)

100g firm tofu, chopped into 1 inch cubes (about a third of a packet, as a guide)

1/2 cup vegetable stock

1 handful fresh green or butter beans, trimmed

2 tablespoons pickled mushrooms (optional)

1-2 sprigs green peppercorns (you could use a teaspoon of dried Sichuan peppercorns instead)

Method

Preheat an oven to 200c. In a heavy based frying pan on a medium heat, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil with the onions and stir fry for 1-2 minutes until translucent. Throw in the sweet potato and turn up the heat to lightly brown the edges of the sweet potato for 2-3 minutes. Add the XO and turn down the heat, coating everything evenly. Throw in the tofu and gently stir to combine. Add a pinch of salt flakes and the stock and bring the hot pot to a simmer. Add the beans, pickled mushrooms and peppercorns, stir briefly to combine season, to taste.

Pour the hot pot into a small cast iron dish or any heavy casserole pot that 'just' fits the ingredients (you don't want a heap of space, because you want the liquid to bubble, not evaporate completely). If it's looking a little dry, top with more stock but do not cover completely. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is crispy and golden and the liquid has reduced to a sauce consistency. Carefully remove and set aside until cool enough to serve. Serve with brown rice, noodles or a super fresh cabbage salad.  

*Basically, you want everything to be roughly the same size so everything cooks evenly. Bite-sized pieces are roughly what you want to go for!

Warm Peach Pudding

Baked Peach Pudding Fooderati

Everybody needs a simple, please everybody pudding you can quickly throw together when entertaining, or just because. This baked pudding is part cake, part cobbler, with golden, almost crunchy bits on the outside and fabulously crumbly and cakey on the inside. And the best bit is you can use any fresh or tinned fruit you like. You could even swirl a few spoons of your favourite jam in, instead! 

Batter

125g butter, softened 

125g caster sugar

2 large free range eggs

125g self raising flour 

Pinch of salt 

Syrup

2 tablespoons brown sugar 

120ml water

1 vanilla pod

Fruit of choice, I used 3 large fresh peaches, but you could you can use almost any fruit you like. Stone fruit, citrus, pears or poached quinces work well. 

Method 

Preheat oven to 180c. Meanwhile, combine the butter, sugar and eggs in a stand mixer and whisk until thick and glossy. Sift in flour gradually and combine thoroughly. 

Thoroughly combine the syrup ingredients in a saucepan, add the fruit and poach over a medium heat for 5 minutes, tossing the fruit around so that it is evenly covered in the syrup. Transfer most of the poached fruit and a spoonful of the syrup to a lightly greased and floured baking dish. Spoon the batter over the top of the fruit and shake the pan a little bit so that everything settles evenly. Add the rest of the fruit on top, nestling it in a little. 

Bake for 30 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes before serving. Serve warm with whipped cream, custard or ice cream. 

Simple Spiced Carrot & Pumpkin Soup

Spiced Carrot and Pumpkin Soup.jpg

In life, quick and easy rarely equates to good, but in this case, that rule doesn't apply. As the weather mercifully cools, it's time to add to your soup arsenal...and this warming and aromatic spiced carrot and pumpkin soup is a great one to add to your hit list. 

Ingredients

3 tablespoons vegetable oil 

2 tablespoons coriander seed

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 brown onions, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt 

1 teaspoon ground white pepper 

1 tablespoon brown sugar 

1 teaspoon five spice powder

10 carrots, unpeeled, tops removed, cut into chunks

1/2 Jap pumpkin, skin and seeds removed, cut into chunks

Enough rich chicken or vegetable stock to cover solids (about 1.5L)

50g butter 

2 tablespoons good quality EVO (I love Alto Olives)

Method

In a large saucepan, heat the 3 tablespoons of oil over low heat, then add the coriander seeds and toast until aromatic. Add the garlic, onion, salt, pepper, sugar and five spice, stir to combine and bring the heat up to medium. Sauté until the onions are translucent, but haven't taken on colour. Add the carrot and pumpkin, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Pour in enough stock to cover the vegetables and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the vegetables collapse under the pressure of a spoon. Carefully remove the pot from the stove and using a stick blender, blitz until smooth. Taste to season and serve with a drizzle of olive oil. 

Mama Vincenza's Italian stuffed squid

Calamari al forno.jpg

On a recent trip to South Australia to visit my in-laws, I managed to consume heroic amounts of food cooked by my incredible Italian mother-in-law, because Italians know no other way than to feed family. Vincenza's family is from Molfetta, part of the region of Puglia (the bit that forms the heel of the boot) in southern Italy and the region is known for its incredible seafood produce. In true Italian home cook style, the recipes she cooked were passed down from her mother, and mostly exist in the heart, instead of on paper. Vincenza's stuffed squid is a dish my husband Joe has drawn inspiration from over the years, and it is truly one of the most simple, delicious things you can learn to cook when it comes to squid. She calls it 'calamari al forno', I call it delicious.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/4 small bunch of Continental parsley, leaves picked

4 cloves garlic, finely sliced

2 tbs olive oil

1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1/2 cup rice crumbs

50g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finely grated

The juice of half a lemon (reserve the zest)

4 large eggs

8 medium (or 4 large) squid tubes, cleaned

1 brown onion, finely sliced

1 large jar passata (680g) 

Black pepper and salt, to taste

Method

Preheat an oven to 160c. In a deep baking tray or casserole dish, evenly spread about a third of parsley leaves and garlic slices along with the olive oil in the base of the dish. In a clean mixing bowl, combine the crumbs, cheese, lemon juice, eggs and the rest of the parsley and garlic into a bowl and mix well to combine. The mixture should resemble a soft, pliable dough. Add a little water or more breadcrumbs to achieve the consistency if needed. Season well with salt and pepper. This egg and crumb mixture also works well as a bread dumpling/meat-free alternative to meatballs when cooked in tomato sauce. 

Fill each squid tube with the breadcrumb mixture (it will expand when cooked, so take care not to overstuff), then place in the baking tray. Continue until all the squid tubes are stuffed. Scatter the sliced onion and the reserved lemon zest over the top of the squid, then pour the passata over the top of the squid, adding a little water to the mixture if required, to ensure the squid are more or less covered. This will prevent the squid from drying out while cooking, but reduce into a rich sauce by the time it's done. Season with more black pepper and salt. 

Bake in the oven for one hour, then remove and allow to cool and garnish with more parsley and lemon zest before serving. This dish serves as an excellent antipasti, served cold the next day, sliced and dressed in olive oil and lemon juice. 

 

Sweet Potato Chocolate Cake!

As seen on Everyday Gourmet Season 8 with Justine Schofield.  Watch the segment HERE!

As seen on Everyday Gourmet Season 8 with Justine Schofield. Watch the segment HERE!

Say what? Yes, the secret ingredient in this chocolately, fudgy little number is SWEET POTATO! So what does it do? Well, instead of using regular flour and heaps of refined sugar, sweet potatoes add natural sweetness, a rich texture and a heap of vitamins, minerals and beneficial fibre to this cake...so you can have your goodness and eat it too! 

A tweaked version of my friend and nutritionist Tara Leong's recipe, it's super simple, as well as gluten (if you use gluten free baking powder) and dairy free. As she would note, however...just because it's healthy doesn't mean you should eat the whole thing! Nutrient dense foods also come with a decent serve of calories, so enjoy it with a little moderation! 

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato, roasted in its skin and slightly cooled (around 1kg)

85g dark chocolate

3 free range eggs

1 1/2 cups coconut sugar (brown sugar also works)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup olive oil

1/2 cup raw cacao powder (not cocoa powder...you want that bitter chocolately kick!)

1 1/2 tsp gluten free baking powder (regular is also fine if this isn't a crucial dietary)

3 tsp cinnamon

A good pinch of sea salt

200g almond meal

Raw chocolate glaze

1 cup raw cacao powder

1 cup water

6 tbsp runny honey or maple syrup (raw cacao can be bitter, so you can add more to taste)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup olive oil

Method

Preheat your oven to 180c, then grease and line a 23cm springform or a deep loaf tin with baking paper. Slice the cooked sweet potato in half and scoop out the flesh, transferring it into a bowl. Mash the sweet potato roughly and set aside. Bring a small saucepan half filled with water to the boil. Once boiling, place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl and carefully place on top of the saucepan. Once melted, remove from heat and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and oil, then slowly add the sweet potato, melted chocolate and mix until just combined. Sift in the cocoa, baking powder, then add the cinnamon and salt. Lastly, fold in the almond meal in thirds until everything is incorporated. Transfer the contents of the cake to the lined baking tin and bake for 65 minutes or until a toothpick when inserted in the centre, comes out clean (as it is a very fudgy cake and not all sweet potatoes are the same size, it can sometimes take a little longer, just keep cooking until the toothpick comes out clean!). Once baked, remove from oven and set aside to completely cool before icing. 

For the ganache, combine the cacao powder, water, maple syrup (you ca also use honey or rice malt syrup), vanilla and cinnamon over a medium high heat, whisking until the mixture thickens. If the mixture is already very thick, add a little water to loosen it, a tablespoon at a time. Once thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove the ganache from heat and vigorously whisk in the olive oil until smooth and glossy. For a mirror glaze finish, add in an extra tablespoon or two of iced water at the end and whisk vigorously again until combined. Once the cake is cool, remove it from the tin, then glaze and decorate. 

 

Chicken, Ginger, Sweetcorn & Egg Drop Soup

As seen on Everyday Gourmet with Justine Schofield Season 8 

As seen on Everyday Gourmet with Justine Schofield Season 8 

There are certain dishes you need to learn when you move out of home and start cooking for yourself. I would highly advise 1. A good hangover cure (mine's a 3 cheese toastie with heaps of black pepper and Dijon mustard), 2. Something to impress any guest (a cracking roast chicken is a solid submission), 3. A mid-week no-brainer (my braised lentils with bacon as seen in Good Food)...and 4. A sick-remedy cure-all. 

While I've painstakingly perfected my Jewish Chicken Soup, I've evolved my mum's chicken and sweetcorn soup over the years for maximum ease (handy when you're the sick patient in question), speed (takes about 15 minutes all up) and deliciousness (even less than that to slurp down). It is, also ideal as a quick and healthy snack even if you're not ailing. 

Watch the how-to below!

Makes 4 serves

Ingredients

8 cups chicken or vegetable stock (bonus points if you make it yourself!)

4 chicken thighs, skin off

1 thumb sized knob of ginger, peeled and finely sliced

1 x 410g tin creamed corn

1 x 125g tin corn kernels

1 egg, lightly whisked

Sea salt flakes

White pepper

1 stalk spring onion (scallion), finely chopped into rounds

Sesame oil

Method

In a large pot, add the stock and ginger, then bring to a boil. Carefully add the chicken thighs and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Carefully remove the thighs and allow to cool slightly before handling, then coarsely chop, or shred the meat. Return the chicken pieces to the stock, then add the creamed corn and corn kernels. Bring the soup back to the boil and when it has reached a rolling boil, slowly pour in the egg mixture a little ribbon at a time, gently stirring through the soup as you go (the egg flowers will form while gently moving around the soup - too slow and you'll have a rubbery clump, too fast and you'll just have a cloudy soup). Continue until all the egg is poured into the soup. Season to taste with salt and white pepper, then remove the soup from heat to cool slightly before serving.

To serve, garnish with more white pepper, a few drops of sesame oil and the chopped spring onions. Feel the life flooding back into your body!

4 Ingredient No Bake Coconut Crack Bars

Coconut Crack Bars.jpg

A new year rolls around, as does the guilt for potentially overdoing it between Christmas and New Years, even though it's probably worth the argument that it's really what you eat between New Years and Christmas that's more important. 

But anyway, I digress. Once the sugar high from all your favourite end of year desserts comes to an end (personally, I'm a pavlova and trifle girl), here's a slightly more virtuous afternoon tea accompaniment that's vegan as well as gluten, refined sugar and dairy free...but be warned, they are called Crack Bars for a reason. There is zero baking involved and the base recipe is just 4 ingredients (I don't count salt), which you can add your favourite toppings or ingredients like pepitas and raw chocolate (pictured), cacao nibs, dried fruit, etc. Enjoy! 

Ingredients

1 cup dessicated coconut

1/4 cup maple syrup (honey will work, but isn't vegan if that matters)

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 pinch sea salt

Optional: a handful of pepitas, raw chocolate to drizzle. 

Method

Place the dessicated coconut into a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the melted coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dessicated coconut, along with a good pinch of sea salt and combine well. At this stage, you can add any additional  ingredients you like, for example, a handful of chopped nuts, cacao nibs, pepitas, or dried fruit.

Line a shallow baking tray with baking paper and press the mixture into a level rectangle shape, alternatively you can use silicon ice cube moulds. Freeze the pressed mixture for 10-20 minutes until set, then slice into portions, or pop out of the mould, if using. If you want to drizzle a little melted chocolate (raw or otherwise, I don't discriminate), this is when you'd do that (and let's be honest, when is a little extra chocolate a bad idea?).

Store refrigerated. 

 

 

Dan Dan Noodles

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I truly believe I have a separate stomach for dumplings and noodles. Not so much for cake, but definitely for savoury things of the Asian persuasion. One of my favourite quick lunches in Melbourne is Le Ho Fook's take on Dan Dan Noodles...a dish from Sichuan origins, with a recipe that is notoriously fought over for whose is better and/or more authentic. This is by no means the most legit version you will find out there, but it's a faithful enough representation that's easy to pull off at home without too much trouble, with delicious results. Enjoy! 

Ingredients:

Noodle sauce

3 tbsp tahini

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp light soy

1 tbsp Chinese black vinegar

2 tbsp Lao Gan Ma chilli flakes in oil

1 tbsp Mushroom XO sauce

1 bird's eye chilli, finely chopped

2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and blitzed

1 tbsp mild chilli flakes

1/2 tsp Japanese togarishi powder

1/2 tsp ground white pepper

Castor sugar, to taste

125ml chicken or vegetable stock, added as needed

Seasoned mince

1 large thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

500g pork mince (not too lean!)

2 tbsp Shaoxing Chinese cooking wine

1 tbsp dark soy

3-4 tbsp ya cai (Sichuan pickles, from Asian grocers and regular supermarkets), finely chopped

The rest

Guan Miao dried noodles (or fresh medium width lo mien noodles, from Asian grocers)

1 bunch bok choy, blanched and refreshed

2-3 stalks spring onion (scallions), finely chopped into trounds

1 small Lebanese cucumber, julienned

Japanese togarashi powder

For the noodle sauce, combine all ingredients except for the stock and mix well. Add the stock, a  little at a time, until you reach a smooth, spoon-coating texture (like runny honey). Season to taste with sugar, salt or chilli, but it should be spicy and numbing. 

For the mince, add vegetable oil, ginger and garlic to a pan on medium high heat and continually move the ginger and garlic around to minimise it sticking to the pan. Once fragrant (about 1 minute), add the mince and brown in batches if necessary. Add Shaoxing wine and soy and season to taste. Transfer the mince to a bowl and stir fry the pickles in a little more vegetable oil for 1-2 minutes. Combine with the mince and set aside to cool. 

When ready to eat, bring a large pot of water to the boil and add the noodles. Cook until al dente, then drain and refresh in cold water. Transfer to a large bowl and spoon over enough noodle dressing to coat the noodles. Transfer into bowls and add the blanched bok choy. Top with the mince and garnish with the spring onions, cucumber, togarashi...you can add some fried shallots or peanuts for extra crunch, too.

 

Beef Rendang Meat Pies

Almost every culture in the world has a meat pie and this is another one to add to your delicious repertoire. #BringBackTheClassics

Makes: About 8 party pies

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 4 hours 20 minutes

Level of difficulty: medium

Ingredients

Rendang paste
1 tbs coriander seeds
2 thumb-sized pieces of fresh turmeric
1 generous knob of galangal, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 red eschallots, peeled and halved
3 bird's eye chillis (de-seeded if you prefer a milder heat)
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, coarsely chopped
1/2 stalk of lemongrass, coarsely chopped
2 green shallots (scallions), topped and tailed
1 tsp white mustard seeds
½ cinnamon stick
1 candlenut

The rest
500 g beef oyster blade, chopped into bite sized chunks (beef chuck, lamb neck or shanks also work well)
270 ml tin coconut cream
1 tbs kecap manis

Salt

White pepper

4 sheets short crust pastry

¼ milk for glazing

Crispy chilli oil, or your favourite sauce, to serve

Method

Preheat an oven to 180˚C. Blitz the paste ingredients in the blender or food processor until you achieve a rough paste (add a small amount of water to the paste if it has issues combining). In a heavy based pot on a medium heat, add a slug of olive oil and stir fry the paste for 2-3 minutes, until aromatic. Stir the mixture continuously to prevent it catching on the bottom. Remove the paste from the pot and set aside while you brown the meat. 

Add a little more oil, then in batches, brown the meat on all sides. Once all the meat is browned, return all of the meat to the pot, along with the paste and stir to combine. Add in the coconut cream and ketchup manis and combine well. Bring the curry to a simmer, taste and season with salt and ground white pepper and place the lid on the pot. Place the pot in oven and reduce the temperature to 120˚C for 4 hours.

When the time is up, remove the pot from the oven and check the meat. The meat should be soft enough to break apart with a spoon. When the meat is done, place the pot on the stove on high heat with the lid on for 15-20 minutes to reduce the sauce and thicken the texture. Once thickened, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, then set aside to cool. Refrigerate overnight if possible.

When you’re ready to make your pies, preheat the oven to 200˚C. Thaw the pastry and cut it to fit the base and sides of your pie moulds. For party pies, a deep muffin tray works well. Fill each pastry case with the rendang and top with a pastry lid. Use a fork to crimp the edges to seal, then glaze with milk. Cook for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden. Set aside to cool slightly, then serve.

Note

Make the rendang a day ahead and refrigerate it…it’ll be easier to work with while slightly cold, and next day stews always taste better!

SBS cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55–60 g, unless specified.

 Photography, styling and food preparation by Melissa Leong

Feeling nostalgic? We want you! For the month of November, SBS Food is asking food lovers far and wide to get creative by putting a multicultural twist or your creative spin on an Australian classic... Welcome to #BringBackTheClassics - enter now!

Tom Yum Sausage Rolls

Adding a Thai twist to one of Australia’s favourite meaty pastries, lemongrass and ginger add zing, while the shrimp paste and coriander adds to that savour flavour we all love. Best of all, you already know this recipe…just add (tom) YUM!

Makes: About 16 rolls 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Chilling/freezing time: 20 minutes

Level of difficulty: easy

Ingredients

 500 g pork and veal mince

2 tbsp tom yum paste

1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped

1 brown onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 stick celery, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp potato starch

½ tsp ground white pepper

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, partially thawed

1 egg

Nuoc cham (or if you’re feeling super Aussie, sweet chilli) sauce, to serve

Method

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mince, tom yum paste, carrot, onion, celery, garlic, potato starch and white pepper and mix well with clean hands to combine until everything is emulsified. Throwing the mixture vigorously against the side of the bowl or on a clean bench top will help. Work quickly, keeping the mixture as cool as possible, then cover and refrigerate until needed. When you are ready to assemble, place a sheet of thawed puff pastry onto a clean surface and cut in half, lengthways.

Remove the sausage mixture from the fridge and roll a log about 2.5cm in thickness and place it lengthways onto the pastry, closer to one edge. Carefully roll the pastry, making sure the filling is snug to the pastry with no gaps, and seal the edge where the pastry meets with egg yolk. Set aside in freezer to allow the mixture to firm up.

Repeat until you have used all of the filling. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200˚C. Remove the sausage roll logs from the freezer and allow them to thaw slightly. Cut into desired size, brush with remaining egg yolk and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Set aside to cool slightly, then watch them disappear!

Note

Tom yum paste can be found in the Asian aisle of most major supermarkets and Asian grocery stores. Because the paste is very salty, there’s no real need to season with additional salt. These sausage rolls work really from frozen to the oven, so make a batch ahead of time and just pop them in the oven when unexpected hungry visitors come calling.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

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Instagram is a wonderful thing for inspiration. It's also terrible for creating unrealistic expectations about everything from diet to body image, but that's a conversation for another time. A dear friend and chef Sharon Salloum from Sydney's Almond Bar (if you haven't been, you really should) recently posted a vegan chocolate mousse she had made. Being a chef and then running into health issues is never ideal, but it happens more than you think. Having to change what we eat out of necessity does create an opportunity to explore new things however, and while I could never EVER be vegan, that isn't to say that recipes that don't involve animal products can't be delicious. Case in point, this extremely rich and velvety chocolate mousse. Chances are you already have most of these ingredients at home anyway, so why no, eh?

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 ripe avocado

1/2 frozen banana

2 tbs cacao powder

1 tbs vanilla protein powder (I used Tropeaka Lean Protein, but this isn't a sponsored post)

1 tsp maple syrup or rice malt syrup (you could use raw honey for a vegetarian option if you don't want to go fully fledged vegan)

1 pinch sea salt

1 tbs coconut yoghurt or almond milk (optional, if the ingredients get a bit too thick to blend)

Cacao nibs and other fun things, for garnish

Method

Throw all your mousse ingredients into a high speed blender. Blitz until smooth (here's a recipe where 'rustic' chunks of avo probably aren't so appealing). The frozen banana means the mousse is pretty much ready to eat out of the blender, but I recommend decanting it into a bowl and chilling it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes or until ready to eat. Garnish with your favourite toppings and a little extra pinch of sea salt. 

 

Good Food.com.au: Lentils with Bacon, Chilli Oil and Fried Shallots

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It can be so tempting these days when you're feeling lazy and hungry, to pick up the phone, tap on an app and order delivery. It's not bad, and there are definitely times where the convenience of take out can really save you. There is something to be said though, for developing an arsenal of super fast recipes that you can whip up at a few minute's notice, and let's be frank, are probably a lot healthier and more satisfying than take out. 

Good Food Story September 2017

I was recently asked for Good Food what I'd do with a tin of lentils... so here 'tis! It takes about 10 minutes from go to whoah and is full of protein, fibre and of course, a tonne of flavour. 

Ingredients

1/2 brown onion, peeled and finely diced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 rasher bacon, diced

1 tin lentils, drained and washed

1 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt

1 teaspoon chilli flakes in oil

Fried shallots for garnish

Coriander leaves for garnish

In a frying pan on medium heat, sweat the onion, bacon and garlic in a little olive oil for 2 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the lentils and stir to combine everything. Pour in the stock, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 5 minutes or until the stock has mostly evaporated. Set aside to cool slightly. On a serving plate, spread the yoghurt over the base, the spoon over the lentils. Top with the fried shallots and chilli oil and coriander leaves and serve.

Stinging Nettle Soup

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Green things are making an appearance in vegetable town...spring has mercifully rolled around and what a glorious thing that is for the litany of new season vegetables to have at your cooking disposal. Over the weekend, a friend dropped off a box of incredible spring vegetables from a Victorian producer that supplies his restaurant, and among the emerald harvest, a huge bunch of stinging nettles. 

I love a produce box challenge, because it really lays out the gauntlet for testing your cooking skills...or failing that, your research ability. Stinging nettles are one of those ingredients that make a miraculous transformation from shitty weed to verdant edible without too much trouble or expense. Have some latex gloves handy to avoid the burn, but here's a classic nettle soup recipe you can test out...whether yours are found at the farmer's market...or your next nature walk (just be sure to wash thoroughly and go slightly off the track if there are dogs around!).

Ingredients

50g butter

1 brown onion, peeled and chopped

1/2 leek, thoroughly washed and chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

4-5 medium potatoes, washed, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes

1 bunch spinach or kale leaves (optional)

1 bunch stinging nettles, washed and any woody stems removed

2-3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and pepper

Method

In a large pot on a medium heat, add the butter and once melted, add the onion, leek, carrot and potato. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until the vegetables have softened but haven't taken on any colour. Add in 1/2 each of the greens and nettle leaves and sauté until slightly wilted. Add stock and season with salt, then simmer for 15-20minutes or until the potato is is cooked through. Add in the remaining greens and nettles (reserving some greens till the end will ensure a more vibrant green soup). Carefully remove the soup from heat and using a stick blender, blitz until smooth. 

Return the soup to the heat and reduce to your desired consistency and season to taste. Serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche. 

Marmalade and Ricotta Teacake

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When I lived in rural Tasmania for two years, I had the great fortune of living for part of that time on an organic sheep dairy. Owned by my dear mate Nicole Gilliver, her mother Diane Rae and their amazing family, Grandvewe Cheeses is situated in Birchs Bay, located an hour south of Hobart overlooking Bruny Island. 

One of the perks of being mates with a cheesemaker...is obviously access to cheesy delights...including recently, a huge wedge of sheep milk ricotta. With zero preservatives, the shelf life of produce like this is extremely short, and without wanting to waste it, I decided to bake what I didn't use into a ricotta cake. Add to this a couple of tablespoons of my mother in law's excellent home grown cumquat and blood orange marmalade, this cake was made with a whole lotta love. 

It's a not-too-sweet, citrusy slice is great as an afternoon tea accompaniment and is even better served with a dollop of yoghurt or creme fraiche. 

Ingredients

250g fresh ricotta

2/3 cups caster sugar

2 large organic eggs

100g butter, melted

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup almond meal

1 1/2 cups self raising flour, sifted

1 pinch salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbs marmalade

Icing sugar, for dusting

Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche, to serve

Method

Preheat an oven to 180c. In a food processor, add the ricotta, sugar and eggs and blitz until smooth. Pour in the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and orange juice and pulse again, to combine. In a clean mixing bowl, add the almond meal, flour, salt and cinnamon and stir to combine. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, about a third at a time, until combined.

Line a 20cm spring form tin with baking paper and pour the batter into the tin. Shake to level and then carefully swirl in the marmalade, then even out the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before releasing the cake from the springform, and rest on a rack until cool. Dust with icing sugar and serve with yoghurt or creme fraiche.