Archive for January, 2011
French toasts are actually called “Pain Perdu” in France, which suggests that this recipe was originally created to use off bread that has gone hard. While it may not sound so glamorous, the truth is that it doesn’t work as well with freshly baked bread, which can’t take as much soaking without losing its shape!
Ingredients (2 serves)
1 Egg + 1 yolk
3 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp flour
¾ cup milk
½ tsp nutmeg, grated
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
6 slices of white loaf or baguette, ideally left out for a couple of hours to dry
Sugar, lemon, strawberries, ricotta and maple syrup to serve
1. Beat the eggs and gradually whisk in the sugar, flour, milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt.
2. Pre-heat a large non-stick frying pan with a splash of olive oil. In the meantime, soak the first batch of bread on both sides until dump throughout, which should take around 10 seconds if it’s white toasts but up to 2 minutes if you’re using baguette. Cook the bread in the hot pan on both sides for 1-2 minutes until golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the bread.
3. Sprinkle with white sugar and serve hot with a wedge of lemon, strawberries, ricotta and maple syrup.
The traditional way to eat Pain Perdu is to top it with a sprinkle of sugar and a squeeze of lemon, but I also like to serve it with ricotta, fresh fruit and maple syrup on the side to make it a bit more interesting!
This has to be my favorite soup in the world and also the most often requested recipe amongst my friends! Be aware though that this is an easier & quicker “modern” version of an old classic. As you may know, cooking Pho Bo the traditional way can be a very long cooking process and might take quite a few trials and errors to get the taste right. So I have decided to skip making the broth from scratch and use instead good quality pho stock cubes and beef flavour paste that you can find in Asian grocery stores. The trick is to focus instead on adding a lot of fresh herbs, spices and meat to make it really special! It’s reasonably quick and actually tastes better than any other homemade pho I have tried…I even managed to convert my mum (who was born in Saigon) not to bother with the old family recipe!
Ingredients: (4 people)
3 tbsp instant beef flavour paste (gia vi nau pho)
2 cubes of pho soup seasoning (Vien gia vi pho)
4 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
4 lemons, 3 juiced and 1 cut into 4 wedges
4 tbsp fish sauce
400g lean beef brisket or fillet, very thinly sliced
1 large pack of flat rice noodles
1 large onion, sliced
300g bean sprouts
1 small bunch of Asian/Thai basil, washed and sliced
1 small bunch of coriander, washed and roughly chopped
4-5 spring onions, washed and finely sliced
2 red chili, seeds removed and finely sliced
1. Bring a large pan of water to boil (8 cups), then turn down the heat and stir in your beef paste and 1 of your two seasoning cubes. After a couple of minutes, add the sliced onion, star anise, cinnamon sticks and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Add the lemon juiced and fish sauce and cook for another 10 minutes on the lowest heat.
3. In the meantime, bring a separate large pan of water to boil, add your remaining seasoning cube in the water and cook your rice noodles following the instructions on the packet (usually 6 to 7 minutes). Steam the bean sprouts for same amount of time.
4. Equally divide the noodles, bean sprouts and spring onions between the bowls.
5. When you’re ready to serve, bring your broth back to a boil and cook the raw beef slices for a couple of seconds to medium rare before serving.
6. Add the beef pieces to each bowl, cover with hot broth and garnish with 1 lemon wedge and a small amount of herbs and chili.
Place the remaining herbs & chili on the table for each guest to top up to taste!
If you want to stick to a more traditional flavour, you may want to swap the coriander for mint. I personally tend to prefer it with coriander. You may also want to buy your beef at the butcher as they may be able to slice it paper-thin for you.
Fei Jai is relatively new and also very easy to miss spot in the busy dining scene of Potts point’s challis street, but I would really urge you to look up for it and give it a go! I normally tend to avoid traditional Chinese cuisine which I find a bit too oily and heavy for my liking, but the chef at Fei Jai managed to add a really fresh and fragrant modern spin to all traditional Cantonese dishes giving it a whole new flavour. The crab omelette is heavenly light and luscious with it’s creamy folded egg whites and big chunks of blue swimmer crab meat. The pork pancakes are delicious with simple, clean flavours and fresh ingredients.The fish is beautifully poached and soft. Even the sweet & sour pork is surprisingly light & crisp with a delicate tangy flavor from the big chunks of pineapple and lychees. Loved every single dish. I will definitely be back…for the unbeatable crab omelette but also to try everything else on the menu!
The service was a bit rushed and impersonal towards the end but mainly as it got busier through the night. Value wise, it will definitely come across as a bit exy if you compare it to your typical Chinese restaurant, but then again I find it totally justified given the quality of the food and products used.
Overall, I would probably give it a 7.5/10 Nibbles!
31 Challis Ave
NSW australia 2011
+61 2 8668 4424
In the lead up to Australia day, I thought I would try make one of the most iconic Aussie food myself. You wouldn’t think a Frenchie like me would be able to produce a decent traditional pie, but I’ve quite a bit of experience eating pies back in the UK and more recently at Harry De Wheels down at Woolloomooloo! Mmm… ‘Tiger’…
Ingredients (4 pies)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large brown onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
500g lean beef mince
1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
5 mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp cornflour
3/4 cup beef stock
1/3 cup tomato sauce
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp barbecue sauce
1 tsp Vegemite
4 sheets frozen, ready-rolled shortcrust or puff pastry
1 egg yolk
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Heat oil in a heavy bottom saucepan over high heat and cook the onion and garlic until soft. Add mince and cook until browned, which should take about 4-5 minutes.
2. Add cornflour to the meat and stir in the stock, sauces and Vegemite. When it starts boiling again, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 8 minutes or until thick. Let it cool down.
3. Preheat oven to 220°C. Grease and flour 4 individual round pans to make it non stick.
Cut 4 large circles of pastry, just enough to cover the bases and go slightly over the sides of the pans and prick several times with a fork. if you don’t have enough space to cut the top circles out of the remaining pastry, knead the remaining dough back into a ball and roll it out flat again on a lightly floured surface. Use one of the pans to shape and cut of the top circles.
4. Fill each base with a fourth of the mince mixture. Brush rims with water and place the top circles over the meat. Press hard to seal the sides and trim the excess of pastry. Brush with the egg yolk.
5. Season with salt & pepper and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden.
You may want to serve it with mash, mushy peas, gravy and a side salad! Feel free to be creative and try swap mince meat for chunky steak, add a bit cheese or more mushrooms.
The ANZAC biscuits originated from World War I and were created and sent by wives to soldiers abroad because the ingredients do not spoil easily and the biscuits kept well during naval transportation. They still tend to be sold as a fundraising item for the RSA. What surprises me most about Anzac Biscuits? How tasty a biscuit with no egg can be!
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
3/4 cup plain flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1.5 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 pinch of salt
2 tbs boiling water
1 tbs golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g butter, cubed, melted
1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Spread the macadamia nuts over a non stick baking tray and place in the oven for 8 minutes or until lightly toasted. Let it cool and crunch into rough pieces.
2. Mix the flour, ginger into a large bowl, macadamia nuts, rolled oats, sugar and coconut into a large bowl. Mix the boiling water, golden syrup and bicarbonate of soda in a separate jug, let it froth up and add the butter in. Let the mixture cool slightly stir it into the other mixture and combine with a wooden spoon.
3. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper. Shape the mixture into 10-12 small bowls and flatten each one before placing it on the tray. Leave at least 2 cm between each.
4. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool down on the tray for 20 minutes before transferring it to a serving plate.
Anzac biscuits are best served with a nice cup of tea or coffee. if you have any leftover, store the biscuits in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks, or probably even longer but you surely won’t have any left by then!
I wanted to make a special cake for Tom’s 31st birthday, something a bit exciting but also personalized to his taste. I decided to go for a classic New York cheese cake which you can’t beat, but then topped it with caramel sauce & roasted macadamia nuts and also added an extra layer of chocolate and banana between the base and the filling. And as a final touch I decorated it with hard caramel swirls. However, if you don’t want to wait for the next birthday to try this recipe or if it all looks a bit too much to you, you can also use the base and filling sections of the recipe and skip the extra steps for a simple New York cheese cake!
Ingredients (6 slices)
45ml butter, melted
70g digestive biscuits, broken into crumbs
1tsp white sugar
1/2 banana, sliced (optional)
70g chocolate, melted (optional)
2x 250g philadelphia cheese, cut into medium pieces and left at room temperature for 1h
125g caster sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
1 egg + 1 yolk
150 ml sour cream
1 cup of sugar
6 tbsp butter
1/2 cup whipped cream
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, roasted in the oven for 7 minutes and roughly crushed
1. Start with the base. Pre-heat the oven at 180C. Melt the butter in a small pan, use a small amount to line the baking tray, stir in the biscuit crumbs and sugar and mix until evenly moist. Add a bit of flour on the buttered baking tray to make it non stick, press the mixture flat into the bottom of the baking tray and cook for 10 minutes or until nicely golden. Let it cool down for a few minutes and add a layer of sliced banana and melted chocolate if you fancy it.
2. In the meantime, get started with the filling. Beat the cream cheese for about 2 minutes, until soft and creamy, gradually add the sugar, flour, pinch of salt and wisk for another 2 minutes scraping down the sides regularly. Add vanilla extracts, lemon zest, lemon juice and stir in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the sour cream and continue whisking until nice, smooth and airy.
3. Pour the mixture onto the base and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 110C and bake for another 35 minutes. Turn off the oven and let it cool in the oven for 40 minutes.
4. For the topping, make sure you have all the ingredients ready as you will have to work fast. Be also careful not to burn yourself with the caramelized sugar as it’s much hotter than boiled water! Be also aware that you will need a large pan to do this as the hot mixture tends to foam considerably when the cream gets added in. Ok, so place the sugar in a large non stick pan on high heat. As the sugar begins to melt on the sides, stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. As soon as the sugar comes to boil, stir in the sugar. Once the butter has fully melted, take off the heat, wait for 5 seconds and add the cream to the pan and continue whisking until the foam reduces down and the mixture is nice and smooth. Let it cool down for 30 minutes or so.
5. Once the topping is cool and thick, pour it oven the cake and sprinkle the roasted macadamia nuts on top and refrigerate for a good hour to set.
If you’re tempted to try the caramel swirls, bring sugar to melt and drizzle the liquid using a spoon to draw the shape over a piece of baking paper. Let it cool for a minute until hard, pick it carefully with a knife, place in the refrigerator and put on the cake just before serving or it will melt.
I actually brought mine to the restaurant where we went to celebrate Tom’s birthday! Did you know that most restaurants would allow you to bring a birthday cake in for a small fee per head? But if you decide to bake one instead of buying it, the pressure is on to make something impressive!
Flapjacks are incredibly easy and quick to make. Oat is also the main ingredient, so I like to think of it as a reasonably healthy treat to have as a mid morning snack with a cuppa! Some like it crunchy, but I prefer it chewy…Here is a great version…with nice choc’ banana twist!
Ingredients: (16 flapjacks)
250g organic rolled oat
80g raw brown sugar
5 tbsp golden maple sirup
1 tbsp salt
1 banana, mashed
75g chocolate, melted
3 tbsp milk
1 handful of unsalted nuts, crushed
1. Melt the butter in a large non stick saucepan over a very low heat. Add sugar and sirup and mix well.
2. Stir in the oats, add the banana and the pinch of salt.
3. Spread the mixture over a sheet of baking paper in a baking tray and press flat. Place in the oven and cook for 15 min at 220 degrees or until it turns golden brown. Leave it to cool.
4. In the meantime, prepare the melted chocolate in a pan by adding chocolate chunks and milk on low temperature. Dip Half of your flapjacks in chocolate and sprinkle the crushed nuts over it, so that you can still hold it without touching the chocolate (see top picture). Place in the fridge for an hour or to allow for the chocolate to set hard.
Store in a air tight box in the fridge for up to a week and bring half of it to your work colleagues. For an even healthier version, you an replace part of the butter with margarine!
I couldn’t guarantee that my chick-corn soup truly holds any medicinal properties…but it’s certainly really tasty, nutritious and comforting and I crave it every time I am feeling a little bit poorly! Although it’s probably just a good excuse to have it on a regular basis!
Ingredients (4-5 serves)
4 cobs of sweet corn
1 white onion, finely diced
2/3 spring onions, finely sliced
3cm knob ginger, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
2 tbs vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup Shao Hsing wine
7-8 cups reduced salt chicken stock
1 can of creamed corn
2 chicken breast, cut into thin slices
3 tbsp coriander, chopped
3 tbs light soy sauce
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp sea salt
1. Start by removing the corn kernels from the cobs, using a sharp knife as per below.
2. Pre-heat the vegetable oil into a large heavy-based non stick saucepan and cook the onion, half of the spring onion, garlic, ginger for a couple of minutes. Add the wine and let it reduce for another couple of minutes. Add the corn and cook for a further minute, add the creamed corn and then stock. Let it simmer for 45 minutes on medium heat.
3. Remove impurities from the surface, add the chicken to poach in the soup, season with soy sauce & coriander and let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Stir in the egg for a few seconds.
4. Serve into large bowls and garnish with a few leaves of coriander, remaining spring onions.
Feel free to top it up with a few bits of red chili if you fancy…!
Once you’ve tried this recipe at home, you will never order gyoza from the restaurant ever again! It’s really fun to make, super tasty and it looks very impressive too!
Ingredients: (30 dumplings)
200g Pork mince meat (lean)
6 uncooked prawns, deveined & chopped
2 tbsp spring onions, finely chopped
2 tsp ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
2 tbsp chinese shao hsing wine
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
30 gyoza wrappers
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp coriander, chopped
4 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
4 tbsp spring onions, finely sliced
4 tbsp mal vinegar
1 red chili chopped
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1. Start with the filling. Combine all the listed gyoza ingredients (except the vegetable oil and wrappers!) in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 mins.
2. Place a teaspoon of the mixture in the centre of each wrapper and shape as per below:
– Wet the edge of the wrapper with one finger
– Fold the wrapper in half and bring the edges to stick together
– Pinch the bottom edge closed and fold the edge 4-5 times to the top
3. Steam for 10 mins, and set aside. In the meantime, mix all dressing ingredients together.
4. pre-heat vegetable oil in a large non stick pan and pan fry the gyoza until nice and golden brown.
Place on a serving plate and dizzle with the dressing!
If you want to prepare the gyoza ahead, stop at the steaming stage and refrigerate or freeze as is and pan fry before eating. I would actually suggest that you make enough to freeze some extra too as you can just pan fry it from frozen on a lazy night!
Here is a little tuna mix I like to make on Sunday night for lunch during the week.
It’s cheap, tasty, healthy and really versatile. You can have it as a sandwich filling for a big lunch, on crackers or in a wrap for a lighter version, as a veg stick dip if you’re trying to be super healthy. It’s packed in protein, you won’t get bored of it and it also lasts for days in the fridge.
Ingredients: (serves 4 lunches)
1 large can of tuna
1 small can of sweetcorn
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1/2 white onion, finely diced
1small chili, finely chopped
A handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
4/5 tbsp of thousand island sauce
salt & pepper
1. Drain and flake the tuna into a large bowl
2. Add your drained sweetcorn, spring onion, onion, sauce and mix well
3. Add fresh herbs, chili and season with salt and pepper.
You can also switch the thousand island dressing for salad cream or mayo, the coriander for dill or basil, chili for Jelapenos, onions for shallots…So you can pretty much make it as long as you have a can of una in the pantry!