I went through a few bizarre food phases as a child, a memorable one of which was an obsession with cold rice pudding. I remember sometimes eating the full tub for dinner while watching TV on Sunday night! Here is a deliciously comforting and easy to make rice pudding using coconut for a fragrant twist!
Ingredients: (serves 4)
100g short grain rice
1 vanilla bean, cut open
1/2 cup caster sugar
400ml coconut milk
A few strawberries, washed and sliced
1. Rinse the rice, place in a saucepan with sugar, vanilla bean, coconut milk and regular milk and bring to the boil.
2. Reduce heat to very low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking. Remove and discard the vanilla bean, season with a pinch of salt to bring the sweetness out and set aside to cool before placing it in the fridge.
3. Serve the coconut rice at room temperature topped with fresh strawberries or shavings of fresh mango and a few sprinkles of shredded coconut.
It’s also the perfect gluten-free dessert for your next dinner party! Make sure you use short-grain rice when making rice pudding so that the texture of the grain will stays soft when cool, which is better for a creamier result!
This cider braised pork belly is pure heaven on a plate – the poaching step is all about making the meat as moist and succulent as possible, while frying it up on the day ensures the skin is crisp to perfection! Reducing the cider broth to a delicate jus works wonders to bring all the rich and earthy flavours together. It takes a bit of planning to get started the day before, but each step is super easy and the end result is truly michelin star quality!
1 brown onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
4 sprig fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
500ml good-quality cider
1l fresh chicken stock
1-1.5kg piece unscored boneless pork belly
1. Heat the oven to 160C. Place onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves and thyme in an oven proof casserole. Cover with stock, cider and bring to the boil. Slide the pork into the liquid making sure it’s totally submerged, cover with a lid and place in the oven for 3 hours.
2. Once cooked leave the pork to cool for a bit in the stock. Line a flat baking tray with cling film, carefully lift the pork, get rid of any bits of veg & herbs and place it skin down onto the tray. Cover with another flat tray or dish, weigh it down with something heavy place in the fridge overnight. This step is really important to ensure the pork’s skin is perfectly clean, flat – ready to be trimmed and crisped up the next day. Strain the cooking liquid into a jug cover and place in the fridge to chill.
(on the day)
3. Pour the braising juices (now jelly) into a saucepan and reduce down by two-thirds until thicker and syrupy.
4. Place pork on a clean board, skin-side upwards. Get a sharp knife and trim off any uneven edges so that you have a neat sheet of meat and cut into equal pieces. Heat oil in a large frying pan and reduce to medium heat. Sizzle the pork skin side down for 5 mins until the skin is perfectly crispy and flip it over for another couple of minutes until warm and browned all over.
Serve with cauliflower mash, mustard cabbage or any other earthy/wintery sides and drizzle the jus next to the pork on the plate. I also like to sprinkle a few bits of fried chorizo over it for extra texture!
Definitely give this dish a go for your next dinner party, pork belly is a very affordable cut of meat too, so no need to spend a fortune to impress!
Crispy duck is a legendary chinese classic. While the traditional way to prepare Chinese crispy duck takes forever, it’s certainly not the only way to achieve a delicious Peking style crispy duck at home. Here is a dead easy recipe to prepare the best peking style crispy duck within a couple of hours – so easy in fact that I decided to add the extra challenge of making my own pancakes…
1 whole duck 1.5 – 2kg, rinsed and dried well
3-4 tbsp salt
1-2 tbsp Chinese Five Spice
4 cm piece of ginger
3-4 spring onions
2 red chilis
275g plain flour
250ml water, just boiled
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Extra flour for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. To prepare the duck, rub it inside and out with a lot of salt and then just all over with five spice. Grate some fresh ginger to rub the cavity and place more five spice and the leftover ginger into the duck’s cavity to flavour.
2. Place duck in a tray and roast in the hot oven for 1-1½ hours, or until cooked through. Spoon regularly the excess fat over the skin to baste.
3. If you decide to make your own pancakes – now is the time start making your dough. In a large bowl, pour all of the flour and gradually add in the hot water, mixing constantly. Place the dough onto a dusted work surface and knead it for 5-10 minutes and leave it to rest for 30 minutes, covered with a damp cloth.
4. Finely slice the cucumber, spring onion and chili and place on a tray.
5. Back to your dough. Dust a bit of flour over your work surface, stretch and knead the dough for another 5 minutes or until smooth. Roll it into a long sausage, and chop it into 18 equal pieces. Roll each portion back into a small ball.
6. Check your bird – if the skin isn’t quite crispy enough, turn the temperature up to 220°C. Pour the excess duck fat out of the tray and spoon a little over the duck skin to baste it one last time. Place into the hot oven for 10-20 minutes or until the skin is really crispy.
7. Back to your pancakes – the traditional method is to make two pancakes at a time. Take two of the balls, dip one side of one ball into sesame oil and place on top of the other ball. With a rolling pin, roll the 2 pancakes simultaneously into a 15 cm disk. Place the double pancake into a frying pan over gentle heat for a few minutes until dry and cooked. Allow to cool, and peel the two pancakes apart. If you’re struggling with the traditional method, just do one at a time!
8. Remove duck from the oven and leave to cool and rest for 5-10 minutes. Shred the meat off the bones using a fork or your fingers, place on a serving tray with the crispy skin. Serve the meat with warm pancakes, cucumber, spring onion and plum sauce. Et voila!
If making your own pancakes is a bit too much for you, skip steps 3, 5 & 7, buy pre-made ones and reheat in a steamer or microwave! As a gluten-free variant, make gluten free savoury pancakes with gluten-free flour, eggs, water, milk and butter!
A “Poule Au Pot” is a classic French dish originally made popular by Henri IV, whose ambition was for every family in his kingdom to be able to afford to eat this dish every Sunday. It is traditionally served with the carved poached meat and vegetables on a platter and the chicken broth in a bowl on the side, but I prefer to bring all the elements back to the pot and serve it as a hearty soup.
1 whole organic chicken, washed
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
2 onions, chopped
2L chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 small bunch of parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
2 leeks, washed and sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste
1) Place carrots, celery, onions, parsley and bay leaves in a large non-stick pan. Season with Salt & pepper. Place the chicken over the vegetables, pour in stock and add enough water to cover the chicken (I took the below photo before adding the extra water). Simmer on medium heat for 1.5 hour or until the chicken is soft and fully cooked through.
2) Remove the chicken from the pan leave it to cool down on the side. Bring the broth back to high heat and allow to reduce for 15 minutes. In the meantime, tear the cooked chicken into long chunks.
4) Once the broth has reduced by a third, throw the chicken back in the pan, add the leeks and simmer for another 10 minutes.
5) Remove the bay leaves and serve in warm bowls with a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
For something a bit more substantial, add potatoes at the same time as the carrots and green peas as you add the leeks. This soup is delicious, nutritious and super healthy too!
This is a variation of a Quatre-quart, which is a traditional French cake from the region of Brittany. It translates to “four-quarters”, meaning 1/4 of the recipe is flour, 1/4 sugar, 1/4 butter, and 1/4 eggs. My mum’s personal twist was to add apples to it, probably to make it a bit healthier as she used to make it most weekends for us growing up…served with a glass of milk, this cake is pure comfort food and an instant burst of childhood memories!
4 large eggs
250g butter, softened
250g or 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
250g or 1 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla essence
4 apples, peeled, cored & sliced
1 tbsp baking soda
1 pinch of salt
1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Separate the egg whites from the yolks into two bowls.
2) Whisk the egg yolks with sugar in a large bowl until pale and thick. Add the butter, vanilla essence, baking powder beating continuously. Gradually add flour and continue mixing until the mixture is smooth.
3) Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm peaks form. Gently, fold stiffed egg whites into the batter.
4) Arrange some of the apple slices in neat circles on the bottom of a non stick cake pan. Chop the remaining apple slices and mix in the batter.
5) Pour batter over the apple slices and cook for an hour or until pick inserted in center comes out clean. Make sure you check as it can sometimes take a little it longer with the apples added to the mixture.
You can also try a more classic “Quatre quart” recipe, skipping the apples and replacing the vanilla essence with lemon juice.
This is a simple Nasi Goreng recipe I learned at a cooking class on my last trip to Bali.
The reason why I like it so much? Because it tastes really authentic, while a simplified version of the more complex recipes I have seen before. This means that you don’t have to get too many new spices and exotic ingredients to re-create it a home. In fact, this recipe is best improvised to use up overnight rice!
2-3 tsp vegetable oil
100g chicken, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp red chilli, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 cup steamed rice, cold
3 tbsp soy sauce
1tsp Worcester sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
1tsp fish sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
Small handful of coriander, chopped
2 tbsp Fried shallots
½ cup Chinese cabbage, shredded (optional)
2 eggs, lightly beaten (optional)
1. If you’re not using left over rice, start by cooking the rice following packet instruction. Drain, cool to room temperature and place in the fridge for an hour or so. Note that it’s important to use cold cooked rice as freshly cooked rice is too soft and will absorb the oil.
2. Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. Fry the chicken for 2-3 minutes or until nice and brown. Season with salt & pepper.
3. Add the shallots, garlic and toss around for a couple of minutes. Add the chili, turmeric, and spring onion and fry for another minute.
4. Add the rice, mix and toss well. Add the Soy sauce, Worcester, ketchup and fish sauce. Season to taste.
5. Garnish with fried shallots and fresh coriander.
I didn’t include shredded cabbage or eggs omelette in mine, as I was serving it as a side to my chicken sate, but definitely add it in for a more substantial stand alone dish!
This tasty and healthy dish was inspired by my recent trip to Bali. Peanut sauce is one of the most popular local speciality, served with anything ranging from meats to vegetables. Chicken sate (or satay) is a wonderful alternative to a classic chicken kebab and also the perfect exotic addition to your next barbecue session!
Ingredients: Serves 4
3 garlic cloves
25g root ginger
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp each ground turmeric
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground white pepper
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp tamarind paste (optional)
2 lime leaves , thinly sliced (optional)
500g chicken fillet, finely sliced
Wooden skewers, soaked in boiling water
2 tablespoons oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
200g peanuts, unsalted & dry roasted
3 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
3 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp salt
250 ml hot water
1. Peel & finely chop shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies. Measure spices and place into a separate bowl.
2. Heat oil in a pan over a medium heat and fry the shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies for 1-2 minutes. Add a tablespoon of water to help soften, stir in the dry spices and fry for a minute.
3. Remove the pan from the heat, let the mixture cool down, then blend to a paste and add the tamarind paste and shredded lime leaves if using. Season with salt.
4. Place chicken strips in a bowl, pour marinade over it, combine well and thread 5 chicken pieces onto each skewer.
5. To prepare the peanut sauce heat the oil in a saucepan add chillies, garlic and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft. Add peanuts and roast for another minute.
6. Place the mixture in a food processor; add salt, sugar, hot water and process again to make a thick sauce. Add fish sauce to taste.
7. Grill on the barbecue or griddle pan for 8-10 mins or until slightly charred on both sides and cooked inside.
Serve with peanut sauce, pita bread and a fresh cucumber salad for a light summer lunch or alternatively garnish with fried shallots and serve with a side of steamed rice or Nasi Goreng for a more authentic Indonesian meal.
Chicken pies and pies in general are the perfect feel-good food. Rich and flavourful, it’s the perfect home-cooked meal for your friends and family. It’s also pretty quick and easy, especially when using ready-made pastry. Once you’ve tried this classic, you will find yourself try all sorts of tasty variations of your own!
1 tbsp olive oil
300g chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 brown onion, roughly chopped
2 medium clove garlic, peeled and crushed
100g shortcut bacon, finely diced
½ leek, finely chopped
6 mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1/3 cup thyme sprigs
Salt and pepper, to taste
20g grated cheese (optional)
1-2 sheets shortcrust pastry
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
1. Preheat oven to 200°C and heat the oil in a large frying pan. Place the chicken in the pan, season with salt & pepper and cook for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Cook in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan if necessary. Remove and set aside.
2. Add the bacon to the same pan and cook until lovely & crisp. Add the onion, garlic, leek to the pan and sauté for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown.
3. Add the flour and cook, stirring continuously for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the stock, then the milk. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened & creamy. Season to taste.
4. Grease a round baking tray and dust it with flour to make it non stick. Flip it over the puff pastry and cut around it to form the lid of the pie. Set aside. Repeat with the shortcrust pastry, but this time cut circles about 1.5cm from the edge of the tin.
5. Ease shortcrust pastry circle into pie the tin, spoon in the chicken mixture, sprinkle with a bit of grated cheese if you fancy it.
6. Top with the puff pastry. Cut a small cheminee on top to allow the steam to escape while cooking, press edges to seal, trim any excess pastry using a sharp knife and brush with the egg glaze.
7. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.
Serve with a side of salad for a summer dish or with vegetable, mash and gravy for a heartier winter meal! If you don’t have short-crust pastry, you can simply use puff pastry for the pie base as well as the lid, it’s just not as traditional!
Fancy cooking something French and really special? Try this iconic French dish of beef, stewed with lovely vegetables and herbs in wine which are then strained off, reduced and thickened to create a densely flavoured, smooth and silky sauce. Yes, if you’re feeling lazy, you could technically skip the sauce straining steps, but then it would just end up being a lovely stew, not a true boeuf Bourguignon! I personally think the extra step makes all the difference!
Ingredients (4 people)
200g bacon, solid chunk cut into lardons
800g braising steak, cut into cubes
2 tbsp flour
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
12 shallots, peeled and sliced
3 cups red wine (ideally Bordeaux)
2-3 cups beef stock (enough to cover)
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, mashed
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
200g mushroom, quartered
50g unsalted butter
salt & fresh ground pepper
Potatoes, roasted or mashed (to serve)
Crusty bread (to serve)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan, sauté the lardons for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly browned and set aside on a plate.
2. Coat the pieces of beef in flour, season with salt and pepper, and brown on all sides in the bacon fat and olive oil. Set aside with the bacon. Again, in the same oil/fat, sauté the shallots, garlic and the carrot until softened. Set aside with the meat.
3. Deglaze the frying pan with the wine, pour it into an oven-proof casserole along with the meat, lardons, shallots, garlic, carrots and add enough stock to almost cover the mix. Stir in the tomato paste and add the parsley, sage and half the thyme. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove, cover and place in the oven. Reduce heat to 120 degrees and simmer slowly for 3 hours to 4 hours, or until a fork pierces the meat easily.
4. In the meantime, start preparing the mushrooms. Heat a spoonful of butter and a spoonful of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. As soon as the foam begins, add the mushrooms and a sprig of thyme, season with salt and pepper, toss and sauté for about five minutes until brown and set aside until ready to use. You may also want to start preparing the side of potato at this stage.
5. When the stew meat is tender, remove all solids from the sauce by draining through a sieve set over a saucepan. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole, discarding the bits of carrot, shallots and herbs which remain in the sieve.
6. Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two. You should be left with about 2-3 cups of rich, dark sauce, thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If the sauce is too thin, stir in a spoonful of flour and boil it down to reduce to the right thickness. If it’s too thick, add a bit of stock.Taste for seasoning before serving.
7. Pour the sauce over the side and garnish with fresh parsley to serve.
If serving later, simply allow the casserole to cool before placing it in the refrigerator. Place over medium heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally stirring the meat with the sauce.
The first time I had Pavlova, or even heard of it as a matter of fact, was 3 years ago as I was celebrating my first Australian Christmas. And I have to say, good on ya Aussies! It may be dead simple, but it’s bloody tasty!
Ingredients: (serves 6)
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp cornstach
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup thickened cream
3-4 kiwis, peeled and sliced
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
100g fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 small bunch of fresh mint (to serve)
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Whisk the egg-whites with cream of tartar in a large bowl using an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating constantly until fully dissolved and the mixture looks thick and glossy. Finish the last spoon of sugar with the cornstarch. Fold in the vanilla extract.
2. Draw one large 24cm or 6 small circles on a sheet of baking paper and place it on a baking tray. Spoon meringue onto the circle on the baking paper and shape it into a circle, using the pencil mark as a guide.
3. Reduce oven to 100°C and bake for 90 minutes or until dry and crisp. Turn off the oven, open the door slightly and let the pavlova cool completely to avoid it to sink during cooling. In the meantime, whip the cream until thick and rich.
4. Slide pavlova onto a serving plate, cover with cream, top with sliced fruit and a sprig of mint. Serve.
I like to make little individual pavlovas instead of a large one because it tends to be a bit crispier and also looks really elegant on the plates. You can prepare the meringue base a couple days ahead and store it in an airtight container and put it together in 5 minutes just before serving!