Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

I've loved this noodle soup since I was small thanks to a restaurant not far from my school, I have to admit I still haven’t gotten it right. The best Taiwanese beef noodle locally now in Brisbane is from Yang Mama in Sunnybank.

1kg gravy beef/any casserole cut
2 cloves of garlic
3 cm knob of ginger
2 tbsp of bean paste (I used chilli bean paste today, DH complained it was too spicy)
1 star anise
5 cloves
1 cinnamon
2 cups of beef stock
2 carrots cut into large pieces
1 lobak (chinese turnip) cut into large pieces
Yang Chun noodles (flat wheat noodles) 1 bundle per serve
1 bunch of pickled salted mustard greens, finely chopped
Chilli paste (optional)
Salt and pepper

1.          Boil the beef, herbs and spices with the stock in a large pot on low heat until the beef is tender. I used my pressure cooker which only took 10 minutes.
2.          Add in the carrots and turnips and cook till they’re softened. (Another 10 minutes in the pressure cooker). Add salt and pepper to taste.
3.          In a separate pot, cook the noodles in boiling water.
4.          Drain and rinse the starch away with cold water.
5.          Place drained noodles at the bottom of the bowl.
6.          Ladle over the beef stew.
7.          Serve with the pickled mustard greens and chilli paste.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!

We're having an easy quiet Christmas this year with just the two of us and the animals. Merry Christmas to all! Have a blessed time with your family and wishing you a very Happy New Year!

The recipe is here. Last year's rumballs.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Stained Glass Christmas Cake

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

This is Belinda Jeffrey’s recipe published in the Dec/Jan edition of Delicious magazine. It has hardly any cake, just decadently full of fruits and nuts. The orange and lemon zests give it a fresh lift. You can put in any permutations of dried fruits and nuts as long as the combined weight is 810g. I used apricots and cranberries instead of glace cherries, I think I’ll try some glace ginger next time.

125g Brazil nuts
125g pecans
250g pitted dates, chopped
125g glace pineapple, cut into 1 cm pieces
125g red glace cherries
60g glace peaches, chopped
1tbsp Grand Marnier or cognac
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 1 orange
½ cup (75g) plain flour, sifted
¾ tsp baking powder
A small pinch of salt
3 eggs
90g caster sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
40g unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup apricot jam

1.          Preheat oven to 140C.
2.          Grease and line a 21x11x6cm loaf pan.
3.          Placed all the fruits in a bowl with the alcohol, mix in the nuts and zests.
4.          Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy.
5.          Add in the sifted flour, baking powder and salt.
6.          Add in the cooled melted butter.
7.          Combine the batter with the fruits and nuts.
8.          Spoon batter into the loaf pan and level the top with the back of a spoon.
9.          Bake for 1 ½ hours or until skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. (only took 1 hr and 10 minutes in my oven)
10.      Place on wire rack and allow cake to cool completely in the pan.
11.      To serve, warm the apricot jam with a couple of spoonfuls for water in the microwave and brush over the top of the cake.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Mango Blueberry Cake

I baked this for a friend’s birthday. The recipe was pinched from an old school friend,  Angie, whose cooking talent I never knew of when we were in school 20 years ago. I modified the recipe just slightly, and used mango instead of tinned peaches, just because I bought a box of mangoes yesterday.

125g unsalted butter, softened
125g castor sugar
2 eggs
250g self raising flour
100g Greek yoghurt
150g buttermilk
1 mango, sliced
½ cup frozen/fresh blueberries

1.          Preheat oven to 170C.
2.          Cream butter and castor sugar till light and fluffy.
3.          Add eggs, one at a time, beat.
4.          Sift flour into butter cream mixture.
5.          Gently fold the yoghurt and buttermilk in.
6.          Grease and line a round cake tin (20cm/8 inches diameter)
7.          Spread half the batter into the tin.
8.          Place a layer of mango slices on the batter, and sprinkle half the blueberries.
9.          Spread the other half of the cake batter on top of that.
10.       Carefully decorate the top with the mango slices and blueberries.
11.       Bake in 170C oven for 1 hour, taking care not to burn the top (protect it by using a foil tent if required).

Friday, 18 November 2011

Smashed Roast Potato Salad

It is salad season again down here in the Southern Hemispheric summer. I lose my appetite in the heat, a cold and refreshing salad is a welcomed sight on the dinner table. 

Ingredients (serves 4)
8 baby chat potatoes, left unpeeled, washed
1 stalk of spring onion, finely chopped
1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
2 strips of bacon, diced
¼ red onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp seeded mustard
2 tbsp of whole egg mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp of olive oil

1.          Toss potatoes lightly in olive oil.
2.          Roast the potatoes in the oven for 20-30 minutes. You can parboil the potatoes to reduce the oven time.
3.          In the last 10 minutes, sprinkle the bacon pieces around the potatoes in the oven.
4.          Smash the potatoes slightly with a potato masher while they’re still hot once out of the oven.
5.          Add everything else in and toss.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Simple Spring Vegetable Stir Fry

I love spring. You get to eat lots of nice spring vegetables and fruits. I love stone fruits and mangoes. Anyone else sick of the boring apples and oranges? I cooked this to show case the fresh asparagus I bought.

1 bunch of asparagus, chopped into 4 cm lengths
5 leaves of Wombok, cut into 2 cm slices
1 carrot, thinly sliced
½ red capsicum, thinly sliced
A small handful of dried shrimp (optional)
2 tbsp of oyster sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp of cooking oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1.          Heat the cooking oil in the wok/saucepan.
2.          Saute the garlic and the dried shrimp.
3.          Add the vegetables in this sequence, carrots, capsicum, wombok, then the asparagus.
4.          Add in the oyster sauce, sesame oil and ¼ cup of water, it only takes less than 10 minutes to cook.
5.          Add salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Easy One Pot Rice

This meal is dead easy, and only one pot to wash up later on, and it only takes 20-30 minutes especially if you own a rice cooker. I like Chinese mustard green, it does have a bitter taste, my husband said why would anyone want to eat this vege? It is an acquired taste I must admit. You can substitute it with green beans, other greens, diced pumpkin, or omit the vegetables altogether if you’re a bad boy/girl. If you don't have any roast pork on hand, simply substitute it with diced chicken (raw is OK as long as it's cut small or it won't cook completely) or any other leftover meat in the fridge.

2 cups of jasmine rice
2 cups of chicken stock
2 cm of ginger, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 chinese sausages, sliced
200g of readymade roast pork 
4 dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrate in water for 15 minutes, cut into quarters
5 pieces of wood ears (dried black fungus), rehydrate in water, then thinly sliced
50g of dried shrimp, washed
3 bunches of Gai Choy (Chinese mustard greens), roughly chopped
2 tbsp of light soy sauce (substitute with gluten free soy sauce if you need)
1 tsp of sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1.          You’ll need a rice cooker, if you cook it on the stove you run the risk of burning the bottom.
2.          Pretty much dump all the ingredients into the rice cooker, leaving the vegetables last to sit on top of the rice.
3.          Press the cook button and wait for it!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Coming Up in November

Hello dear blog readers! I’ve sort of lost my baking mojo at the moment, and in the past two weeks really weren’t physically up to doing any elaborate cooking. I’m hoping my kitchen will get more usage this month apart from making the easy quick meals to feed the family, you know, like heating up frozen pizzas, mixing up salads to go with Woolies roast chicken, getting the kids to grill readymade chicken skewers and flip burgers. The kids are learning to cook though LOL! They even made burritos and spaghetti bolognaise. School term is almost finished so there might not be a lot of baking this month.

I haven’t introduced the newest member of our family. Here he is with his favourite toy dog.

Messy boy has been eating in bed.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween Treats

There's no recipe here because I used packet mix. I didn't think the neighbourhood kids know how to appreciate gourmet cookies or cupcakes made from scratch anyway.

Chocolate cupcakes decorated with chocolate ganache, chocolate sprinkles, coloured choc chips and licorice strips.

Double chocolate cat cookies.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


Kedgeree is an Anglo-Indian breakfast dish.  I was inspired to try cooking it after I had the best kedgeree at The Chelsea Bistro at The Barracks, Brisbane. I didn’t go to the trouble of home-smoking any fish of course. It is actually quite easy to make, a bit like an Indian fried rice.

Ingredients (serves 5)
250g of smoked trout/cod (I used hot smoked salmon in mine)
4 hard boiled egg, cut into quarters
1 ½ cups of cooked basmati rice
1 carrot, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp of black mustard seeds
1 tsp of crushed cardamom
2 tsp of curry powder
1 tsp of tumeric powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
½ cup fish/vegetable stock
2 tsbp cooking oil
Few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
Salt to taste

1.          Heat the oil in a large pan.
2.          Sauté onion and garlic.
3.          Add the mustard seeds and cardamom until the mustard seeds “pop”.
4.          Add all the spice powders.
5.          Add carrots and celery next.
6.          Add a bit of stock if too dry.
7.          Add in the rice, make sure you break up any lumps.
8.          Add the stock and stir well.
9.          Next, add the tomatoes and salt to taste.
10.      Turn the heat off and sitr in the fish, eggs and parsley.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Mango Lychees Trifle

This is a refreshing summer trifle.  This is one of our favourite at Christmas time when mangoes are in abundance.

Ingredient (serves 6)
¾  cup custard
½ cup whipped cream
1 packet of pineapple flavoured jelly
½ mango, diced into 2cm cubes
12 lychees, peeled and deseeded (use canned if fresh ones are not available)
½ sponge cake, cut into 3 cm cubes
splashes of alcohol eg. Malibu, I used Madeira in these ones
3 strawberries halves as garnish

1.          Make the jelly the night before.
2.          To assemble, first place a layer of cake, splash on the alcohol, sprinkle the fruits, pour a layer of custard, then scoop in a tbsp of whipped cream.
3.          Repeat the layering.
4.          Top with the strawberries.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Buttermilk Dates Scones

We have some leftover cream and buttermilk, what to do?

Easy answer, freshly baked warm buttermilk dates scones with big lashings of strawberry jam and a dollop of whipped cream. Yum!

2 ½ cup self raising flour
30g butter
1 tbsp castor sugar
100g of chopped dates
1 ¼ cup buttermilk
Extra flour for dusting the bench top

1.          Preheat oven to 200°C.
2.          Put the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
3.          Use your fingertips to work the butter into the flour to resemble breadcrumbs.
4.          Make a well in the middle.
5.          Pour the buttermilk in the well.
6.          Use a knife to cut the buttermilk through the flour, add in the dates.
7.          When it is fairly well mixed, dust the bench top with flour.
8.          Knead the dough lightly on the floured bench, just enough to hold it together. Do not overmix.
9.          Pat it down to2cm thickness.
10.      Use a 58mm diameter cookie cutter to press out the shapes.
11.      Place them on a tray together just touching the sides.
12.      Brush the top with a little milk.
13.      Bake for 15 minutes.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Sesame Oil, Ginger and Chinese Wine Chicken Braise 麻油鸡/姜酒鸡

This is a dish that is usually served to women in the post childbirth period to provide “heat” to the womb for healing. It doesn’t stop me eating this anytime I feel like it though. I used Shao Xing wine for this, but I’ve used sweet sherry, a touch of brandy, or Chinese rose wine as substitute.

5 cm chunk of ginger, skinned, smashed with the back of the knife
5 cloves of garlic, smashed
600g of chicken thigh fillet, cut into 3cm cubes
1 can of button mushrooms
5 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked and cut in half
1 cup of Shao Xing wine
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp of sesame oil
1 tbsp of light soy sauce (substitute with gluten free soy sauce for coeliacs)
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp tapioca starch, mixed with 1 tbsp of water to make a paste
Salt and pepper to taste

1.          Heat cooking oil in a deep saucepan.
2.          Sauté the ginger and garlic.
3.          Add the chicken and sauté.
4.          Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, wine and sesame oil.
5.          Add the mushrooms.
6.          Simmer with the lid on for about 15minutes until the chicken is cooked.
7.          Stir in the tapioca paste, and simmer until the sauce thickens.
8.          Add salt and pepper to taste.
9.          Serve with steamed rice.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Pumpkin Salad

We attended a friend’s housewarming BBQ on the weekend and were asked to bring a salad. This is what I made.

200g pumpkin, cut into 3-4 cm chunks about 1 cm thick
10 stalks of asparagus
100g baby spinach
½ red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup of pepitas, toasted
400g canned chickpeas
Parmesan shavings
A handful of chopped parsley
10ml white wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
20ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1.          Soak the cut onions in the white vinegar and sugar.
2.          Grill the asparagus (takes only 1-2 minutes on each side) and the pumpkin.
3.          Drain the chickpeas and the onion, reserve the white vinegar.
4.          Toss the spinach, asparagus and pumpkin with the chickpeas and half of the toasted pepitas.
5.          Mix the olive oil, the while vinegar, balsamic vinegar and parsley until it emulsifies.
6.          Pour over salad, toss.
7.          Sprinkle the rest of the pepitas on top and the Parmesan shavings.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Birthday Noodle (Seh Jit Mee or Lam Mee) 生日面/淋麵

My family hails from Penang, Malaysia where this dish originated from; this noodle dish is a family tradition. I used to look forward to this every year. It is a hawker dish that you seldom see outside of Penang. Thankfully it is very easy to cook, basically boiling a soup and blanching everything in it. (Hence quite a low fat dish too, bonus!) Well it was my birthday yesterday, mum not being here, I had to make this for myself didn't I?

Ingredients (serves 4)
200g Hokkein noodles, blanch for about 5 minutes
200g Rice vermicelli noodles, soaked in cold water, then blanch for 5 minutes
100g Fresh bean sprouts, blanch for 2 minutes
100g Chinese greens, blanch for 5 minutes
100g garlic chives, blanch for 2 minutes
300g fresh prawns, shelled (reserve the heads and shells) and deveined, blanch for 5 minutes
200g pork neck/fillet
200g chicken breast
3 cloves of garlic
3 eggs, beaten lightly
2 tbsp of soy sauce
2 tbsp tapioca starch
2 tbsp cooking oil
3 cups water
Salt and pepper

1 fresh chilli, sliced (optional)
4 sprigs of spring onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp of fried shallots

1.          Sauté prawn heads and shells with a tbsp of oil in a large soup pot.
2.          Add water and garlic and bring to the boil.
3.          Turn the heat down to a simmer; add the pork neck (whole strip) and the chicken breast.
4.          I blanch everything in the soup instead of using a separate pot of boiling water.
5.          In a flat pan, heat a tbsp of oil and make a thin omelette with the beaten eggs. Slice the omelette into thin strips when cooled.
6.          When the pork and chicken are cooked, fish them out of the soup, cooled, and slice thinly.
7.          Lay out all the blanched ingredients on a platter.
8.          Remove the prawn shells from the soup and skim all the impurities.
9.          Make a paste with the tapioca flour with a little water, add into the soup and add soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
10.      Boil it for a little while till it thickens slightly.
11.      To serve, put the noodles and vermicelli in the bowls, add the veges, then the meat, eggs, the garnishes.
12.      Lastly scoop some thickened soup over and enjoy!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Savoury Muffins

This is my trustworthy savoury muffin recipe. Actually the recipe came from an ex-colleague called Alex. Whenever I bake these, I often wonder where he is and what he’s doing these days.

Ingredients (makes 10 medium size muffins)

¼ cup vegetable oil
¾ milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups self raising flour
½ onion, sliced
½ cup diced capsicum
½ cup diced ham/bacon
½ cup grated cheese

1.          Preheat oven to 180°C.
2.          Simply mix all the ingredients together.
3.          Spoon into muffin tin.
4.          Bake in oven for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Coming Up in October

Apologies for neglecting the blog for a while. We went away for a week's holiday at Hervey Bay. See the whale watching photos below. I've also not been feeling the best, hence the slackness in cooking and blogging. I hope I'll be up to cooking a bit more in the next month or so. The DH and the boys have been doing some of the cooking lately, but not many of them presentable enough for food blogging.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Assam Prawns (Tamarind Prawns)

This is another nostalgic Mum’s dish, although she never gave me the recipe, me thinks she’s reluctant to spill the secret. My version is close but not the same. Alas, until she spills, I'll just have to keep trying.

1 dozen large green prawns, unshelled
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ onion, finely sliced
2 tbsp tamarind paste
½ cup hot water
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp thick dark soy sauce (substitute GF as required)
1 tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp cooking oil


1.          Soak the tamarind paste in the hot water, pass through a sieve to get rid of the seeds and pulp. Add all the other seasonings. Marinate the prawns for an hour.
2.          Heat wok and oil. Make sure it is very hot.
3.          Add in the prawns (without the marinade but reserve it for later), cook until the shells are crisp.
4.          Add the onion and garlic to sauté.
5.          Then add the reserved marinate.
6.          Cook for another 5 minutes until the sauce is slightly reduced.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Healthy Apple Loaf

This is a healthy version, good for your conscience. Unlike a lot of health food, this doesn’t taste like bird food, it is actually nice.

1 cup wholemeal self raising flour
¾ cup self raising flour
¼ vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup buttermilk
2 large apples, grated
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
¾ cup brown sugar
Optional ½ cup frozen raspberry (I forgot to put them in today)

1.          Preheat oven to 170°C.
2.          Mix all dry ingredients together.
3.          Add eggs, oil, grated apples and buttermilk.
4.          Mix till even.
5.          Spread into a loaf pan and bake for 35 minutes.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Cold Tofu with Sauce and Herbs

This is an extremely simple dish, it is my favourite tofu dish, but I’m a big tofu fan, I can eat a whole tub of this in one go. It is low fat and vegetarian, and so refreshing on a hot day. The sauce came from my Dad’s repertoire.

1 box of silken tofu (alternatively use those round Japanese tofu)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp ginger oil
1 tsp sesame oil
Drizzle of chilli oil
Handful of fried shallots
1 chilli, chopped (optional)
3 sprigs of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
2 stalks of spring onion, roughly chopped

1.          Tip the tofu onto a serving plate, drain off the water.
2.          Make 2 cuts along the long side of the rectangle, and 4 cuts along the short side, but keep tofu in its rectangular shape for presentation.
3.          Mix all the sauces together and pour it over the tofu.
4.          If you prefer to eat this warm, you can steam it for 5 mins or microwave it for 1.5 minutes on high.
5.          Top with the chopped herbs and fried shallots.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Mui Choy Braised Pork Belly 梅菜扣肉

I’ve been craving this dish from home for a while. After sampling the ones in the eateries around here I was still not satisfied as they all tasted different from mum’s. Hence I went on a mission to cook my own. I have to say this dish needs an acquired taste if you're not familiar with Chinese preserved vegetables. Mui Choy is preserved mustard leaves, they can be found in Chinese grocery shops, there are two versions, a sweet type and a salty type. I used both in mine as I’ve previously used only the salty version only and found it too salty. I cooked this in the pressure cooker, you can cook it on the stove or in a slow cooker.

100g sweet Mui Choy, finely chopped
150g salty Mui Choy, finely chopped
3 cm piece of ginger, smashed
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
500g of pork belly, cut into 3 cm wide strips
2 tbs cooking oil
1 cup water
50g rock sugar

1.          Wash and rinse the Mui Choy carefully to make sure you get rid of the excess salt and grits.
2.          Heat the oil in the pan and sear the pork belly strips well.
3.          Then sauté the ginger and garlic.
4.          Get rid of any excess oil.
5.          Put the Mui Choy in and place the pork on top.
6.          Cover with water and break the rock sugar up and sprinkle on top.
7.          There is no need to add salt as the Mui Choy is salty.
8.          Cook for 30 minutes in the pressure cooker on high pressure. You will need at least 1 hour of slow braising on the stove (make sure it doesn’t dry up and burn the bottom). Slice the pork into bite sizes for serving.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Banana Walnut Cake

This is a quick mix cake. Good for using up leftover bananas that had been sitting there for a few days. You can make it in a loaf pan and call it a banana bread, although it is rather cakey.

1 ½ cups self raising flour
½ cup wholemeal flour
2 eggs
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup chopped walnuts
3 bananas, mashed

1.          Preheat oven to 170°C.
2.          Mix all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
3.          Add eggs, bananas, oil and buttermilk.
4.          Stir till evenly mixed.
5.          Pour into a loaf pan or Bundt tin.
6.          Bake in 170°C oven for 30 minutes.

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