Healthy

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.






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

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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!

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

As seen on Everyday Gourmet with Justine Schofield and Melissa Leong

As seen on Everyday Gourmet with Justine Schofield and Melissa Leong

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. 

 

 

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. 


 

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.

Stinging Nettle Soup

Nettle Soup.jpg

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. 

Fast and Furious Raid-The-Fridge Leftovers Fried 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

Nobody in the history or cooking rice, ever makes exactly the amount they need. There are always leftovers, which are perfect for making fried rice. I love this dish because it makes short work of throwing together a hot and delicious meal and is a resourceful way of using up leftovers and elevating vegetables that are perhaps past their prime, to new heights. This is a great meal for anytime of the day, from a quick and nutritious snack, to a full-on feast. Add it to your mid week arsenal! 

Serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as part of a feast

Ingredients

2 rashers middle bacon, rind removed, coarsely chopped

1 thumb sized piece ginger, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 stalks shallot (scallion), trimmed and finely chopped

2-3 cups day old boiled/rice cooker rice

1 cup leftover veggies, chopped into 1cm pieces (leftover roasted veg like carrots and Brussels sprouts are great, as are frozen peas or tinned corn)

1 tablespoon kecap manis

1 tablespoon Lau Gan Ma chilli flakes in oil

2 free range eggs, lightly whisked with a fork

Salt and white pepper

A handful fresh beansprouts, to garnish

Method

In a hot wok, add the bacon and stir fry until golden. Add in the ginger, garlic and shallot and stir fry until translucent, but not browned. Throw in the rice and use the spatula to break it up to remove any clumps, then stir fry for 2-3 minutes to allow the rice to take on the flavours and reheat.

Throw in the vegetables, then the kecap manis and chilli flakes in oil (to taste). Bring the wok back up to a high heat, then, in a gradual ribbon, pour in the egg, tossing/stir frying the ingredients constantly, to evenly distribute the egg throughout the rice. The egg will cook very quickly and will continue to cook off the heat from the residual heat in the wok, so it’s important not to overcook. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat. Serve with fresh beansprouts and more chilli oil on top. 

To make this dish more substantial, or to use up any leftovers, you could also add in leftover cooked meat such as roasted chicken or pork, or tofu.

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. 

(sorta) Chinese Chicken Stew

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One of my favourite places to eat in Melbourne is Dainty Sichuan Hot Pot. There is nothing much better on a cold winter's night than sitting in front of a bubbling yin yang pot of aromatic stock, dipping your favourite meats and vegetables into the boiling broth, then slurping the flavour-laden soupy goodness at the end. My go-to broth at Dainty is spicy chicken; it's chock full of numbing Sichuan pepper, herbal ginseng and a tonne of chilli. I love it so much that I decided to use it as a basis of inspiration to make my (sorta) Chinese chicken stew. It's warming, aromatic, as spicy as you like it, and with the addition of fistfuls of Asian mushrooms and tofu, it's a comforting and substantial meal that will make your house smell brilliant and your belly happy. 

The process involves roasting and then stewing. Why the extra step? More flavour, la! While it's true that you could probably throw the chicken in and cook it down without the roasting step, all those roasty chilli flavours and caramelised chicken skin give a greater depth of flavour in the overall dish, plus you kind of get two recipes for one if you stop at the roasted chicken, so what's not to love?

Ingredients

For the Chinese roast chicken part

1 large brown onion, peeled and sliced into 1.5cm rounds

1 free range, organic chicken (you get what you pay for)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 thumb sized piece ginger, smashed

4-5 cloves garlic, smashed

2 star anise

1 tablespoon chilli flakes

1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns

1 teaspoon pink peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon white pepper, ground

2 long, red chillis, chopped in half, widthways

4-5 cloves, whole

For the stew

1 thumb sized piece ginger, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 bunch coriander, trimmed and chopped (stems and leaves) - reserve some leaves for garnish

3 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon Thai fermented chilli paste (or anything with a heap of dried shrimp and chilli in it)

1 tablespoons Lau Gan Ma chilli flakes in oil

2 teaspoons kecap manis

3 cups mixed Asian mushrooms (I like a combo of black fungus, shittake, enoki and shimeji)

1/2 block firm tofu, cubed into 1.5cm pieces

Steamed rice, to serve

Method

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Preheat an oven to 200c. In a baking tray, place the onion slices evenly in the centre, as this will act as a trivet for your chicken (as well as add flavour). Thoroughly wash the chicken, pat the skin dry with paper towel and place the chicken on top of the onions. Pour over the vegetable and sesame oils and rub the entire outside of the skin, to evenly coat. Place the ginger and one star anise in the cavity and the garlic in the roasting tray. 

Sprinkle the chilli flakes and peppers, over the chicken, rubbing all over, to evenly coat. Throw in the remaining anise, fresh chilli and cloves into the baking tray and roast for 25-30 minutes, breast side up, until the skin is golden. Flip the chicken, continue to roast for 10-15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 170c and continue to roast for a further 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. You could stop here, and you'd have a pretty cracking Chinese-spiced roast chicken, but we'll crack on, shall we?

In a casserole dish or heavy based pot on a medium heat, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and the chopped ginger, garlic and coriander. Fry for 1 minute until aromatic, then add in the chicken stock. Once cool enough to handle, chop the chicken into pieces, discarding the central frame (leave the rest of the bones in, I think it gives the stew a better flavour but if you wish, you can remove the skin and meat from the frame and throw that in, sans bones).

Bring a kettle to the boil and pour about half a cup of boiling water into the roasting tray and use a spatula to scrape all the baked on flavours from the sides. Pour all of this spicy, chickeny goodness, along with any chunks of roasted onion and chilli, into the pot.* Place the roasted chicken pieces into the stock, along with the chilli paste (I'm obsessed with this one), chilli oil and kecap manis. Bring to the pot to a simmer, stir to combine and season to taste. After 5-10 minutes, add in the mushrooms and tofu, stir to combine, then reduce the heat and continue to simmer to reduce the stock to a thick, stewy consistency. Season to taste, then set aside to cool slightly. 

Serve with steamed rice, or if you like, mix the rice and the stew together, then serve. Garnish with fresh coriander. This will, as with any soup, stew or curry, taste better the next day. 

*This step will not only add a greater depth of flavour to your stew, but get you a head start on clean up. 

 

Pozole Verde

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Every now and again, I become obsessed with a certain dish I'm introduced to. Case in point, Melbourne restaurant Mamasita's hugely underrated menu item, pozole. For the uninitiated, it's essentially a spicy Mexican soupy stew, usually made with maize grits (hominy), meat (chicken or pork) and flavoured with jalapeños, garlic, coriander and served, poured over shredded lettuce, avocado and radishes - so it's kind of like a soup and a salad in one bowl.

Mamasita's pozole sits there on the menu, largely overlooked in preference for more sexy and conspicuously Mexican dishes such as their delightful tacos de lengua (ox tongue tacos), but that's our loss. It's rich, soothing, spicy and basically the perfect warming soup for the cooler months, that maintains that bright, spicy, savoury, earthy flavour profile we love about Mexican cuisine. 

Here is an admittedly not-so-authentic (however delicious) version of pozole verde (this dish also comes in a red, or rojo version, aromatic with ancho and arbol chillies). It's at once light, bright and spicy flavours, but also rich and comforting. 

Ingredients

1 organic chicken

1 brown onion, peeled and roughly chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 lime

2 green capsicums

2 fresh jalapeño chillis, tops trimmed

2 long green chillis, tops trimmed

1 tablespoon of chipotle in adobo (any good Latin or gourmet grocer will stock this)

1 x 400g tin cannelini beans, washed and drained (a substitute for hominy, mainly to thicken)

2 bunches coriander, washed thoroughly

1 tbs pickled jalapeños, drained

200g  tin tomatillos (if you can't get these, just use more cooking liquid from the chicken)

1/2 a ripe avocado, sliced just before serving

1/4 head of iceberg lettuce, shredded

3 red radishes, mandolined into thin slices, set aside in a bowl of water

1-2 tbs Greek yoghurt

A handful good quality tortilla chips (or you can fry corn tortillas in a little oil). I like the ones by La Tortilleria

Sea salt

Black pepper

Olive oil

Method

Wash the chicken inside and out, pat dry and set aside. In a large, heavy based pot on a medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil, then the chopped onions and garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the onion begins to turn translucent. Add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and oregano and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Add the chicken and enough water to cover it. Cut the lime in half, squeeze in the juice and throw in the squeezed fruit. Cover with a lid and bring the water to the boil. Remove the lid and reduce to a simmer, skimming any scum from the surface regularly.

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Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 180c and line an oven tray with baking paper. Cut the top off each green capsicum and discard, along with the seeds. Place the capsicums cut side down on the tray, along with the green chillis. Feel free to throw in any random green vegetables as well - we added peas and cavolo nero. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and salt and the chipotle in adobo and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are soft but have still retained their greenness. 

While the vegetables are cooking, place the drained beans onto a baking paper-lined baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and salt, place them in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Remove the green vegetables from the oven and place them into a blender along with the coriander (reserving a few leaves for garnish), pickled jalapeños and tomatillos. Blitz into a smooth paste, adding a little stock from the cooking chicken to thin out the puree. Season with salt to taste, then set aside to cool. 

Turn the oven up to 200c and once the chicken joints start to feel loose when you tug at them (about 45 minutes), carefully remove the chicken from the pot and place it on a baking paper-lined tray. Season with salt (and a little chipotle in adobo if you like), and roast for 15 minutes or until the skin is golden. Sift out and discard the limes.

Remove the chicken from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes and then carefully shred the meat. Set aside the bones to make stock (waste, not, want not). Reserve some of the shredded chicken for serving, then add the rest of the chicken meat, skin and cartilage back to the pot with the cooking liquid. Add the roasted cannelini beans, then using a stick blender, carefully blitz the stock, chicken and beans into a smooth puree. Bring to the boil and reduce, if you want a thicker soup consistency. Otherwise, add the green puree to the blended chicken soup and stir well to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, assemble the reserved shredded chicken, lettuce and sliced avocado in a soup bowl. Pour the hot pozole on top, and garnish with radishes, coriander leaves, a dollop of yoghurt and the tortilla chips. Serve immediately. 

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.

THE BEST Turmeric Latte

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Let me start by saying that I am NOT an advocate of jumping on the superfood bandwagon. There are of course, ingredients that we know are better or worse for us, and as a food writer, identifying trends or the prevalence of a theme, ingredient or technique is part of the job and what makes something newsworthy (deservedly or not..ahem *cloud eggs*). 

Lately, turmeric has become a huge point of fascination in the western world, though anyone of Indian or South East Asian background might find it comical that this fantastic rhizome has reached 'superfood' status...we knew that already!

Whether fresh or dried, then powdered, this golden-hued wonder can be used in curry pastes, skincare preparations (a mixture of honey, greek yoghurt and turmeric powder makes a GREAT face mask) and gives rice a fragrant scent and a vibrant hue. Its benefits can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways, including soothing inflammation in the body (from arthritis to skin irritation), as a potent antioxidant as well as being anti-bacterial, anti-fungal. Turmeric also has a positive impact on cholesterol (any excuse to validate duck fat in my diet) and aids in digestion and gut health. 

This turmeric recipe is an excellent thing to make and store in your fridge as a paste - add a teaspoon of it to boiling water with a little honey to drink as a tea, brew it with almond milk as a latte, add it to your morning oats, you can even use it as a curry paste! PSA: speaking from personal experience, I would highly advocate wearing black when you cook with turmeric - it stains like crazy.

 

Ingredients

3-4 pieces of fresh turmeric (about 50g)

1 large knob of fresh ginger, peeled (about 40g)

1 cinnamon quill (or 2 tsp ground)

1 tbs whole black peppercorns

4-5 green cardamom pods

1 tbs ground ginger

1 whole nutmeg (or 1 tsp ground nutmeg)

4-5 whole cloves (or 1/2 tsp ground)

1 tbs honey

3 tbs melted coconut oil

A pinch sea salt

Method

In a high speed blender or Thermomix, add the fresh turmeric, ginger along with the spices. Blitz on high to form a uniform paste (if you don't have a blender, a mortal and pestle is a great old school way to get the job done). Transfer the paste to a small saucepan and add 1 cup water, stirring to combine. Heat on medium low and bring to a simmer. Simmer the mixture for 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove the saucepan from heat, stir in the honey, coconut oil and salt. Store in a sterilised jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. 


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.