Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Green Mango Salad with BBQ prawns

We have lived in our wonderful tropical home in Mackay for 5 years now. In the back corner of our garden we have a beautiful Mango tree, which fruits around this time of year. I however, the queen of allergies, have been unable to eat mango for years after an unfortunate "hive" incident. So we would pack up whatever we could of our mangos and give them away.

Recently I found out that I am not allergic to mangoes anymore (apparently you can grow out of allergies, who knew?) and so this year when our mango trees decided to ripen I wanted to make the most of it.

Green mango (unripe mango) has been used in Thai Salad dishes for a long time, it's sour tang is fantastic and goes well with Prawns or seafood. Before making this salad, test the sourness of your mango.  I have made the dressing very sweet to compensate for the sourness of my mango. You can even substitute some of the mango for red cabbage if your not a fan of the sour taste.

1 green mango
1/2 small red cabbage
1 carrot
1/2 long red chilli
handful of coriander and mint leaves
100g cashew nuts
20g red onion

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar


  1. Simple really julienne all of the vegetables, chop the cashews and herbs and mix well.
  2. Just before serving the salad dress and toss, to make sure it coats the salad well.
  3. Serve with BBQ prawns.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Thai Beef Salad

If your looking for a healthy Thai alternative with plenty of crunch and all the flavour to boot look no further.  At the moment this is one of my favourite recipes and I recently had friends over for dinner who raved about the intensity of flavours and freshness of this dish.

My idea of hosting an enjoyable dinner with friends means that I too get go socialise in the drinks, conversation and laughter.  I prepare the vegetables, dressing and peanuts in advance so that once guests arrive all  is left is searing the meat, preparing the noodles then assembling all of the elements. 

Summer to me is all about salads, grilled meat and fresh seafood.  Its easy though to get sick of the common green salad - often untouched at BBQs.  Dare to explore and you'll be pleasantly surprised what you can come up with! A couple of nights ago I went foraging into the depths of the veggie bin and in the end produced a salad of raw silver beet, steamed broccoli and asparagus, capsicums, peas from their pods, spring onions and blueberries. That with dressed in home made honey and balsamic vinaigrette alongside roasted pork was delicious.  This Thai Salad has the same principal.  Add as many veggies as you like, use chicken, fish or prawns or make it Vegetarian.  In the end the zesty complex flavours of the dressing with the meat, salad and vermicelli noodles is next level flavour bomb and you will have impressed your guests with something that is simple yet satisfying.


Vegetables - 1/2 cup each of Julienne:
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
Spring onions sliced
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 cup of bean sprouts

1 x rump steak (500gm = 3 serves)
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
1 pack vermicelli noodles boil for 3-5 minutes.  Drain and keep cool.

3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoon Fish Sauce
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Oyster Sauce
2 tablespoons fresh Lime or Lemon Juice
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 teaspoon of palm sugar or raw sugar

Handful coriander
1/2 cup of chopped peanuts & sesame seeds toasted

  1. Rub rump with fish oil and Chinese herb spice and set aside to marinate
  2. Prepare all your vegetables, mix in a bowl and set aside
  3. Toast your peanuts and sesame seeds at the same time and set aside
  4. Place all dressing ingredients into jar and shake till combined.  Chill in fridge
  5. Cook rump to your liking. I like to keep it nice and rare as it will be sliced to serve.  Make sure you rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing about 0.5cm thickness
  6. Cook noodles according to packet instructions, drain really well (you may need to pat it down with serviettes to draw the moisture out). Spread on the dish you will be serving on
  7. Top the noodles with the veggie mix and toss lightly
  8. Add cooked, sliced meat on top
  9. Pour over dressing
  10. Sprinkle with toasted nuts/seeds and coriander ands serve.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Goodbye to Winter Osso Bucco

Not that we ever really experience a true winter in Mackay but this week truly was a farewell to winter. Which means no more slow cooker, and hello to bbqs and salads.

We cooked our last winter type meal on Sunday and had this beautiful Osso Bucco dish. The osso bucco, gives the sauce the thickness you will never get with other cuts of meat. A rich tomato sauce that you can spoon over mashed potatoes or scoop up with bread and butter.

Osso Bucco adapted from Julie Goodwin's recipes

4 pieces Osso Bucco
1 brown onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks of celery diced
2 large cloves of garlic
1 tbsp tomato paste
1.5 cups white wine
1.5 cups of beef or veal stock
1 can diced tomatoes
4 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
2 bay leaves


  1. Heat oil and 20 grams of butter in a heavy bottomed casserole dish.  Flour the Osso Bucco and brown on all sides and then remove from heat. Meanwhile heat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.
  2. Fry the onion for five minutes until soft and then add the carrot, garlic and celery and cook for a further two to three minutes. 
  3. Add herbs, bay leaves, wine , stock, and canned tomatoes.
  4. Place osso bucco back in the dish and make sure the meat is covered. place lid on the dish and put into the oven. 
  5. Cook for 1 hour, turn meat and cook for another 1.5 hours. At this point check the meat, you want it to come away from the bone but still have some texture. You may need to cook for a further 30mins at this point.
  6. Serve with fresh green beans and a pumpkin and potato mash.
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pork San Choy Bau

With Summer just around the corner there have been more salads around in my house.  San Choy Bau is a delicious, healthy way of eating Chinese food.  Every time I make this dish its always different.  It's entirely dependant on what's in the fridge and to me cooking should be versatile and creative.  I have fun with cooking and I love to build on my internal food data base.  Always learning.

I first tried San Coy Bau in Melbourne.  Most know Victoria Street in Melbourne for the famous Queen Victoria Markets. These markets have been the hub of the Melbourne foodie scene for over a century and if you have been there you will know all about it.  If you haven't its highly recommended and used to be a highlight of my weekends for years. Be prepared for lots of hustle (literally), bustle, people of all walks, fragrant wafts and food you may have never seen before. Most of all take with you a pal to help carry all your beautiful produce home in return for a delicious fresh lunch.   But I digress...at the opposite end of Victoria Street past Fitzroy and on the edge of Richmond you will find a flurry of Asian foodstores and restaurants.  Now when I say restaurant I mean a couple of plastic tables, a few kids running around a woman that's potentially the great grandmother sitting in the corner playing cards.  This to me is where you find the goods.  Authentic people making authentic no fuss cuisine with all the right trimmings.  You will find each restaurant battling for the best Pho in town.  And oh how I tried them all!  But that's another blog!  So before I digress yet again here is my recipe for Pork San Choy Bau.  Its a go back meal for sure and great for having friends or family over if your wanting that casual eat with your fingers vibe. 


1 iceberg lettuce
500g lean pork mince
1 tbspn peanut oil
1 small green onion finely diced
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 cm piece of ginger grated
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tspn chinese 5 spice
good pinch cayenne pepper
2 tspn cornflour

  1. Trim the lettuce to create cups and soak the lettuce cups in cold water in the fridge to ensure the leaves are crisp
  2. Heat wok or pan over a high heat. Add the oil, onion, ginger and garlic and cook for 20 seconds
  3. Next add the pork mince and fry until it breaks up, approx. 2 to 3 minutes. Add the soy, oyster sauce, sesame oil, cayenne pepper and cook a further 30 seconds. Add the corn flour and cook mixing consistently for about about 5 minutes until everything thickens.  If it gets too thick you can add a bit of water to thin it out
  4. Divide the pork mince mixture between the lettuce cups
This is often served with rice and I like any of the following to add on top of the mince, Its up to you!
Fresh diced chilli
Bean sprouts
Sliced spring onions
Diced cucumber and tomato with lemon juice
Julienne carrots, cabbage or beans
Fresh coriander, basil or Vietnamese mint



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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Back to Basics: Pizza Dough

One of my favourite things to do with my family on a Saturday night is a big night in.  We make homemade pizzas, have a picnic on the floor and hopefully watch some sport. This weekend was an All black versus Wallabies test match. Which means matching all black jumpers (the ONLY time Nick allows us to wear matching anything...Sigh), trying to teach my son the haka and watching Nick pace backwards and forwards in front of the television, or if the game is really close, leaving the house with five minutes to go because he can't handle the pressure.

I have been making this Masterchef pizza dough recipe for years now. I try new ones every now and again but always come back to this one due to how easy it is, and the way it crisps up in the oven. 

We use ceramic pizza stones to cook them, which helps to distribute the heat evenly across the base. And use range of toppings depending on what is in the fridge and how we are feeling that day. Give this recipe a go, it is made alot easier if you have a mixer with a knead attachment. 

Masterchef Pizza Dough Recipe


400ml lukewarm water 
14g fresh yeast or 1 x 7g sachet of dried yeast 
15g caster sugar 
700g "00" flour, plus extra for dusting 
30g table salt 
60ml extra virgin olive oil 
50ml milk


  1. Add a small amount of water to the yeast and sugar and mix together and wait till bubble start to form. 
  2. Place flour into a mixer with a knead attachment and make a well. 
  3. Add the rest of the water to the yeast mixture and pour into the mixer.
  4. Start mixing the dough and when it starts to come together add the oil and milk.
  5. Knead for about five minutes until it starts to look smooth and then turn out onto a floured surface. 
  6. Place into an oiled bowl cover with a tea towel and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes. 
  7. Divide into 120g portions knead until smooth and place aside covered with a tea towel for a further 30 minutes. 
  8. Roll out your bases, we like a thin crust in our household. 
  9. Once rolled to shape, prick all over the base with a fork (this prevents the big air bubbles in the base) and then flip over and add your favourite toppings. 
  10. Tonight we had a tomato base with sopresso salami, boccocini, cheese, basil and chili flakes. 
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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Jamie Oliver Fish Pie

Here is the fish pie recipe that I mentioned last week that I cook regularly from the Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food Cookbook. I love it because it is packed full of flavour without overpowering the fish and I don't have to make a white sauce to go with it!  Jamie advised that if you would like a creamier option to add 2 tablespoons of crème fraiche to the fish mixture. I didn't have any so added thickened cream instead.

By the way, I never know how to take a pretty picture of fish pie, the photos just do not do it justice!

sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 kg potatoes
1 carrot
2 sticks celery
150 g good-quality Cheddar cheese
1 lemon
½ fresh red chilli
4 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
300 g salmon fillets, skin off and bones removed
300 g undyed smoked haddock fillets, from sustainable sources, ask your fishmonger, skin off and bones removed (I couldn't get smoked fish so we went without)
125 g raw peeled king prawns
olive oil

Optional (and I didn't use either of these)
1 good handful spinach, chopped, optional
2 ripe tomatoes, quartered, optional

  1. Bring the oven to 200 degree celcuis and boil a large pot of salted water for your potatoes.
  2. Peel potatoes, chop, add to the water and cook for 12-15 minutes until soft.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, grate celery, carrot, lemon rind, chili and cheese, add finely chopped parsley into a large casserole dish.
  4. Chop up seafood into 1-2cm chunks and mix with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.
  5. Add thicken cream or crème fraiche and stir everything together in the casserole dish

  6. By this point your potatoes should be soft, drain from water and mash with some butter, milk, salt and pepper.
  7. Place on top of fish mixture and spread evenly.
  8. Put into the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are crispy and the fish mixture is cooked underneath.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Recipe Book Review: Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food

Walking into a cookbook section of the bookstore can be one of the most overwhelming experiences ever.  It's hard making a decision on a quick flick through the book, while the bookstore owner eyes you wearily, making sure you aren't secretly jotting down recipes to avoid paying hard cash.

I have a plethora of cookbooks in my kitchen.  I sit in my lounge on Sunday afternoon looking at them, asking them to bring me inspiration to the everyday boredom of weekday cooking. I must admit however that I have only really cooked from about 5 of the 30 or so cookbooks that I have.

So how do you know if a cookbook is "good" or not. Well it really depends on your taste, but this cookbook would have to be the one that I use most frequently in my house.  It's accessible for all cooks, especially beginners. The recipes aren't too complicated, the ingredients are easy to find. 

Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food cookbook is based on the premise that food should be easy, approachable and fun. It's the kind of book you would give to your child when they move out of home. Claiming to teach you how to cook in just 24 hours, I believe it does just that.  Jamie encourages you to learn a recipe out of the book and teach it to 3 other people. Creating a world wide food community of handing down recipes.

It's filled with classics, no complicated techniques, in fact recipes that you should be able to get first time every time. Every recipe has an image, I am one of those people who will not cook a recipe if I cannot see the finished product, and you can usually purchase this book on special for around $20- $30 dollars if you know where to look.

With simple classics like spaghetti bolognaise and Jamie's curry sauce, something a little more special with the Parmesan Chicken Breasts. This book is the perfect starter for those that want to begin their recipe collection.

He also has many "buildable" or alternative recipes, where he takes a base and then makes small changes to show you variations.

My next post I will be an adaption of Jamie's Fish Pie from the Ministry of Food. So make sure you check it out.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Chicken Soup for the Soul

I'm going to put it out there...my Mum is the best cook I know.  Hands down.  I bet she's better than yours! Now with that said and done I think we can all agree that Mums have the ability to do most things exceptionally well. Living at home growing up if I was told we were having sausages and mash I would groan.  The cheek! Now I relish the thought of Mums home cooked meals.  I welcome that simple delicious food.  Casseroles, chops, roasts and cakes....There is something that parents do.  Maybe its the years of practice or maybe its the love they put in (I'm going with the love).  Whatever it is they make good things great and I have no doubts that everyone reading this has some favorite family recipes.  My dream, and I do work on it, is to have that panache.  Make something out of nothing.  Make nothing into everything.  Make mouths water and to make the soul smile a little.

This recipe is a classic chicken soup that does that.  The beauty is in its simplicity and to be honest when I first made it I thought "what could I do to make this better".  Trust me though, if your going for that home cooked warm inside feeling then this is that soup.  Passed onto me by a great Mum it has the seal of goodness I've been talking about.  So give it a try before the summer months creep in.  And if you have any family favourites you think we might not know about let us know!  We love trying new things.

3 cloves garlic
1 onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 litre chicken stock
2 skinless chicken breasts
1 potato
1 kumara
1 carrot
1 cup chopped spinach
1/2 cup orzo


Chop the onion and garlic and cut the carrot, potato and kumara into 2cm dice.

Gently fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes until soft. Add the carrot, potato and kumara and fry for 10 minutes or so. 

Add the stock and pepper and bring to the boil. 

Add the whole chicken breasts to the pot and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.  Remove the chicken from the pot and leave to cool for a few minutes. 

Add the pasta to the pot and bring back to the boil. 

Shred the chicken breasts and add the back into the pot. Continue cooking until the pasta is done then add the spinach (this will cook in a couple of minutes)

Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper. Serve with crusty bread
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Monday, September 8, 2014

Apple Pie Show Stopper

Ive always loved a good home made apple crumble.  It was a family favorite growing up. Most recently though I've done a full conversion to the apple pie. Your taking a huge step into indulgent city (aka waist line killer) but its 100% worth it I think!  Ive made this pie twice now - both times on a ridiculously large scale.  Both times people walked away sinfully pleasured by the buttery caramely creamy goodness. But hey I think these are a few a rules that should always be lived by in life:
  1. you can never have to much dessert
  2. you can totally eat dessert for breakfast (so make that dessert BIG - its like an excuse...)
  3. you should never do things by halves
Here is the recipe which I urge you to try.  Youll make some fans for sure:

1 packet sweet short pastry (you can make your own but this whole process is quite long and I find packet pastry just as good) 

1kg granny smith apples
½ cup soft unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup soft light brown sugar
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 pinch of salt
¼ cup water
cinnamon (to taste) 

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Happy Father's Day

Happy Fathers day to all those wonderful Dad's out there. And a special thought to those whose father's have passed and cannot share this day with them.

What did you do this Father's day? I spent the day with my wonderful husband and son at the beach having a picnic, and skyping our own Fathers in New Zealand.

Our family only does gifts for birthdays and Christmas. For the rest of the year, we do food, glorious food. So I asked he hubby what he wants for dinner and of course he chooses roast chicken with all the trimmings. For us all the trimmings entails Roast Chicken, bacon and herb stuffing, duck fat potatoes, steamed greens and honey carrots drizzled with homemade gravy.

Check out my recipe for our family Roast below and let me know what you think.  Roast recipes are such a personal favourite, nobody does it better than your own mother, or grandmother.  I am getting there slowly. Check out my recipe below.

Roast Chicken with Bacon and Herb stuffing

The key to the perfect chicken is buying the best quality chook that you can afford. Quality produce makes all the difference however this has never stopped me from buying a budget chook on quick sale and still making a fantastic roast.

Firstly prepare your Bacon and Herb Stuffing


1 brown onion, finely diced
4 shortcut rashers of bacon
75g butter
4 pieces of bread (stale is better but doesn't really matter)
1 tbsp mixed herbs

  1. Fry onion and butter on a medium heat, until butter melts and onions soften.
  2. Add bacon and fry for a further 2 minutes
  3. Put bread into a food processor and pulse until it reaches a thick breadcrumb consistency
  4. Combine the bread and mixed herbs with the ingredients in the fry pan and cook for a further 5 mins.
  5. Place aside to cool and then stuff into the chicken.
Then place your chicken into an 180 degree Celsius oven. It needs to cook approximately 25-30 minutes per 500 grams depending on your oven.  I usually check the chicken at the 20 minutes per 500 gram point.  Baste the chicken with the oils that release themselves during the cooking process, this ensures a crispy skin.

To test whether the chicken is cooked slice into the chicken between the breast and thigh, if the juices run clear it is ready.  Leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Duck Fat Potatoes

Perfect crunchy roast potatoes are my husbands favourite thing in the world.  Cooking them in duck fat takes your average roast potato to a whole new level.  The key to perfect roast potatoes is the type of potato that you use.  Desiree is the perfect all rounder potato and what I choose to use when making roasties.

Also you will soon see that there are alot of steps and effort to be put into these potatoes.  The more love and attention you put in the better they will be.


Desiree potatoes (I usually use 6 large potatoes for two of us, once again it is my hubby's favourite food
1 tbsp of duck fat per 500g of potatoes
Sea Salt Flakes and pepper

  1. Be prepared duck fat potatoes take about an hour to cook in the oven.
  2. Peel potatoes and cut into your desired potato size.
  3. Plus into a pot of cold water and bring to the boil.  Boil for a further five minutes.
  4. Take potatoes off the heat and drain.
  5. Add duck fat, sea salt, pepper and shake in the pot with the lid on.  Try and shake vigorously. The goal is for the potatoes to break up a bit, this is what makes them crunchy.
  6. Place into a separate dish and into the oven.  This helps the roasties to not become soggy.
  7. Check them and turn every 15 minutes depending on your oven, and shake around in the bottom of the dish so they are continuously coated in the duck fat.
  8. When you take your chicken out of the oven to rest, crank the oven up to 200 degrees and allow them to crisp up for 5-10 minutes, but keep an eye on them as there is a fine line between crunchy perfect and burnt bottoms.

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