Easy Recipes

The Easiest Cake Recipe In The World: As Seen on Everyday Gourmet

As seen on Everyday Gourmet Season 8, with Justine Schofield on Channel 10.   Click here to watch the episode!

As seen on Everyday Gourmet Season 8, with Justine Schofield on Channel 10.

Click here to watch the episode!

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! 

The basic principle is EQUAL WEIGHTS of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. Only one egg in the house? Just weigh it and mix it with the same of the other three! Then add your favourite fruit (tinned, fresh, frozen, it doesn’t really matter! You can even add a swirl of your favourite jam, some extra cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or vanilla…. whatever you like, really!

Batter

125g butter, softened 

125g caster sugar

2 large free range eggs

125g self raising flour 

Pinch of salt 

1 tsp vanilla paste (optional)

Flavouring

Let’s do one with something seasonal: 1-2 pears, peeled, cored and quartered. 

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. Add in the vanilla and salt at the end and quickly combine. 

Place the pear pieces in a buttered and floured cake tin, then carefully pour the batter over the top and shake the pan a little bit so that everything settles evenly. 

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer when inserted into the centre, comes out clean. Let rest for a few minutes before serving. Serve warm, with whipped cream, custard or ice cream. 


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.


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!

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!

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!


Lentils with Bacon, Chilli Oil and Fried Shallots

As published in Good Food

As published in Good Food

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.

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. 


Hainanese Chicken Rice

As seen on Channel 10's The Cook's Pantry with chef Matt Sinclair

As seen on Channel 10's The Cook's Pantry with chef Matt Sinclair

If I had to choose a death row meal, this would, without a question, be it. The succulent chicken, richly aromatic rice and punchy ginger and scallion relish is all kinds of magic in one bite. I learned how to make this dish from my mother and it's not only time honoured in our family, but a love letter to our Singaporean heritage. Love it, as I do, served at room temperature with plenty of hot broth on the side, no matter what the weather. 

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 whole free range chicken (the quality shows in a dish like this)

1 bunch shallots (scallions)

1/2 bunch coriander, thoroughly washed

A couple of knobs of ginger (it will be used in 3 parts of this recipe, so make sure there’s lots)

1 head garlic (make sure the cloves aren’t too small)

White pepper

Sesame oil

Chinese five spice powder

2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed thoroughly about 3 times to remove as much starch as possible.

Table salt

To serve

Kecap manis

Sambal olek 

1 Lebanese cucmumber, sliced

2 vine ripened tomatoes, sliced

Method

In a colander, thoroughly scrub the chicken inside and out with a handful of salt (the secret to smooth Hainanese chicken skin is exfoliation!). Set the chicken aside to drain while you prepare the aromats.

Take a thumb sized knob of ginger, bash it lightly with the base of a knife handle, just to break it slightly. Do the same with 2-3 cloves garlic. Place the ginger and garlic inside the chicken cavity, along with 2 stalks of spring onion. Cut off and reserve a small piece of chicken skin from the neck to cook the rice with. Rub the outside of the chicken with a teaspoon of sesame oil and a good seasoning of salt and white pepper and place in a deep pot. Cover with water and bring to the boil with the lid off.

Boil for 30-40 minutes on a gentle, rolling boil and then turn the heat off, cover with a lid and allow the chicken to sit in the water for a further 30 minutes. Remove, the chicken (reserving the cooking liquid) and refresh in cold water. Set aside to cool to almost room temperature, then rub with a few more drops of sesame oil and a sprinkle of salt.

Bring the cooking water to the boil, add a generous amount of salt and reduce by one third - this consomme can be served with the dish, or cooled and used as an Chinese accented chicken stock for soups (stores well in the freezer).

Meanwhile, in a frypan on a medium-high heat, place the reserved piece of chicken skin and allow to render the fat out. Smash a thumb sized piece of ginger and 2 cloves of garlic, add the to the pan along with 1 shallot stalk. Stir fry for 1 minute or until aromatic and then add in the thoroughly rinsed rice. Stir fry the raw rice to coat it in the fat and the aromats. In a rice cooker, transfer the rice and aromats. Add enough water from the cooking chicken to reach the first knuckle of your finger, from the top of the rice. Place the lid on and set to cook. 

Meanwhile, prepare the shallot and garlic relish/sauce. Peel and coarsely grate 2 thumb sized pieces of ginger, and finely chop about 3-4 cloves garlic. Reserve about 2-3 stalks of shallots, then top and tail the rest and then finely slice into rounds. Reserve a few coriander leaves for garnish, trim off the roots, then finely chop the coriander stalks and leaves.

In a saucepan on a low-medium heat, add 2-3 tablespoons grape seed (or any neutral oil like canola or sunflower) and about half a dozen drops of sesame oil. Add the ginger, garlic, chopped shallots and chopped coriander and stir regularly until the greens soften, but do not take on any colour. Season generously with salt, a good pinch of five spice powder and white pepper, to taste. Stores well in the fridge in a sterilised jar for up to a week and is great on sandwiches or stir fries. 

Once the chicken has cooled, carefully chop it up, trying to keep the skin on each part as intact as possible (half the pleasure of this dish is the skin). Serve the chicken with the rice, shallot and ginger sauce, a drizzle of kecap manis and sambal olek on the side, as well as the cucumber and tomato slices. 

Pasta-free Lasagne with XO

Pasta free lasagne

My Italian mother-in-law would probably have a heart attack for calling something 'lasagne' that contains no pasta, but seeing as my husband made this particular recipe with me, we'll let it slide. We decided to replace the pasta sheets with layers of eggplant and zucchini on account of coming home from the Australian Financial Review Top 100 Restaurant Awards in Sydney after an epic 4 days of eating everything in sight (we went to Sokyo, Billy Kwong, Icebergs, The Dolphin, Hubert, Hubert again, Fratelli Paradiso, Automata, Ester and Din Tai Fung, just so you get the picture) and wanted to eat healthier without feeling like we were missing out on life.  Everything else about this dish is legit though, including the very handy Italian mama kitchen tip of using leftover charcuterie bits and pieces to add depth of flavour to sauces and stews (we used njduia). Add to that the not-very-Italian-mama tip of adding a little XO into sauces that aren't necessarily of Asian influence, and you have one rich, complex sauce that works well on pretty much anything. 

Ingredients

Red sauce

1 leek, washed and finely sliced

3 brown onions, peeled and finely sliced

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced

50g njduia (or any leftover pieces of salami, pancetta or bacon fat, finely chopped)

1/2 bottle of red wine

2 tins crushed tomatoes

1 strong tablespoon of XO paste

Salt &  pepper.

 

The rest

1 large eggplant, mandolined lengthways into 5mm sheets

2 large zucchinis, mandolined lengthways into 5mm sheets

200g fresh ricotta

1 handful parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 fennel bulb, sliced

Sea salt flakes

Freshly cracked black pepper

Olive oil

Method

Preheat an oven to 180c. For the red sauce, heat a large saucepan on a low to medium heat, then add a good slug of olive oil. Add the leeks, onion and garlic and cook until softened but the vegetables haven't taken on any colour. Take this opportunity to season the base. Add in the njduia (or chosen salumi) to the pan, burying it amongst the vegetables. It'll begin to break down and render the fat out. Once this happens, mix everything vigorously to combine. After another 2-3 minutes, add the wine. Cook over medium high heat until reduced by two thirds and the mixture is glossy and thick. Add the tinned tomatoes and stir to combine. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer the sauce until reduced by about half and starts to take on a thick spoon-coating texture. Season with salt, pepper and XO to taste (this gives the sauce an umami punch and an extra dimension of flavour), then remove from heat and carefully transfer to a heatproof blender. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender on it's highest setting. Blitz the mixture on high into a smooth puree, then set aside to cool slightly. 

Meanwhile, prepare the ricotta filling by combining the ricotta with the chopped parsley in a bowl, mixing well. If the mixture is too thick, add a little olive oil to the mix. Season well with salt and pepper, then set aside. 

Line a baking dish with baking paper. Spread a few spoonfuls of the red sauce into the dish, then top with a layer of eggplant. Top with an even layer of ricotta, then more red sauce, then a layer of zucchini. Continue to alternate layers of eggplant, red sauce, ricotta, and zucchini, finishing with ricotta on top. Lay the fennel slices on top and cover with a layer of baking paper. Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the baking paper, turn the oven up to 200c and continue to cook for a further 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly. 

Remove the lasagne from the oven and allow to cool and set before slicing, otherwise the whole thing will collapse. Serve the lasagne topped with Parmesan or pecorino, microplaned over the top, and a few basil leaves.

Gluten Free Gingernut Biscuit Berry Crumble

As seen on Channel 10's The Cook's Pantry

As seen on Channel 10's The Cook's Pantry

A lot of the food I cook for myself at home happens to err on the side of 'healthier'... simply because when I eat out, working on food shows or testing recipes, I'm not exactly going to not the pasta special, spit when judging cheese soufflé, or say no to the foie gras parfait.

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This berry crumble recipe came about one recent cold night when I felt like something warm and comforting without wanting to go OTT on the indulgence factor. I like to keep frozen berries on hand for smoothies, and quick snacks because they're a great way to get a sweet hit without reaching for the chocolate every time (not to mention, they're a great antioxidant and vitamin boost).

This recipe happens to be gluten free, but if that doesn't bother you, you can always substitute with your favourite sweet biscuits (milk arrowroot or shortbread would be ACE!). If you're dairy free, feel free to replace the butter with coconut oil, but work quickly with your hands, so it doesn't melt completely.

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Serves 1 sweet fiend or 2 normal people

Ingredients

3-4 gluten free biscuits

2 tbs almond meal

A good knob of butter

1 pinch ground cinnamon

1 pinch sea salt

1 cup frozen mixed berries

A drizzle of honey

Method

Preheat your oven to 180c. Place the biscuits inside a clean tea towel and using a rolling pin or a heavy saucepan, bash the biscuits up into uneven, crumbly chunks (you could use a food processor, but that'd be far too civilised and quite frankly, you want chunks of biscuit to exist, rather than a fine, uniform crumb). In a bowl, rub together the crushed biscuits, almond meal and butter with your fingers until it comes together as a coarse crumb. Add in the cinnamon and salt and lightly combine. 

Pour the berries into an oven proof ramekin. Drizzle with honey and top with the crumble mixture. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the top is golden and the berries are bubbling and juicy around the edges of the ramekin. Serve with Greek or coconut yoghurt...or a little double cream if you're feeling like taking it there.