Wednesday, 24 October 2012

rice with spicy pork & snake beans

It was back in August that I read an article about how you could live to 100 if you incorporated more pork in your diet. Then I kept hearing the radio ads in the car telling people to get some pork on their fork and before you know it, I was on the lookout for pork cuts each time I went to the supermarket. Two things: 1) I admit that I'm a bit of a health nut and love reading articles on health but unfortunately don't always follow through 2) Off the back of number one, I do try.

So this is one of many pork recipes which I'll share; it's a Thai style fried rice and it's really your all-in- dish; bit of carbs, bit of meat coupled with your vegies.

Heat 2 tbsps vegetable oil in a work and stir-fry 3 tbsps red curry paste for 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Add 375g sliced pork fillets and stir fry for 4-5 minutes. Add 250g cut green beans, 1 tbsp clear honey and stir-fry for another 5 minutes. Add 750g refrigerated cooked rice and 1.5 tbsp fish sauce and stir-fry for 4 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasoning if required.

The finished product.

The fascination with pork has even driven the boy to suggest making our own BBQ Pork (Asian style) though I did shut that one down when it was suggested and in the end bought some from the BBQ shop. Yes I might have preferred the ones you get at the BBQ shop but little would you know, the price of pork fillet is somewhat dear; it's actually much more cost effective to buy the ones already cooked at the shops. Anyhow, if this pork craze sticks, BBQ pork will make it to this blog!

Monday, 22 October 2012

20 minute apple tarts

You'll find this recipe in Dorie Greenspan's 'Baking - From my home to yours' and it's deifnitely one of the simplest dessert recipes out there. Just four ingredients, an oven and a mere 20 minutes plus maybe another 5 minutes prep time and you'll have your own home-made dessert. Let me show you how!

Start by taking 1 piece of puff pastry out of the freezer and let to defrost. Our apartment is quite warm and find that 15 minutes does the trick. Peel and core 2 green apples; slice in half and then divide again so you have 4 pieces per half a apple.  Using a large round cutter, cut out 4 circles out of the defrosted puff pastry. Assemble half an apple on each round of pastry. Top with 5g diced unsalted butter on each round and a sprinkling of demara sugar.

Bake at 190 degrees for 20 minutes. Apple tarts are ready when the puff pastry has turned a golden brown. Serve with a scoop of vanilla icecream.

On days when I'm a bit too lazy to cut up the rounds, what I do is make one giant apple tart with one slice of puff pastry and apple slices piled in the middle and then all the sides rolled in. Find it actually tastes better as you get a better apple to pastry ratio...yes that does exist! (plus you don't end up wasting the bits of pastry which you end up cutting out) Be fore-warned though that this apple tart does taste better with that dollop of vanilla ice cream; so make sure that's in the freezer before you get started!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

baked chicken wings in thick sauce

Had the opportunity to catch up with a few friends yesterday and one friend who I haven't seen in ages cause she's been overseas even commented that I don't seem to go out so much these days. Made me think for a moment and she's probably right; I suppose I have turned into somewhat of a homebody. Home-cooked meals, DVDs and a glass of cider has turned into one of my favourite past-times with the hubby. I do miss seeing friends though so hopefully we'll be opening up our home to a few dinner parties in the near future.

So yes, you'll probably see a few less restaurant posts on this blog but more home-cooked dinners which the boy and I insist on making happen most days. It gives us a routine, we eat better and there's the satisfaction of cooking a tasty dish together (and grudgingly I have to admit, the boy is turning into the better cook). Whilst I'll be following the recipe to the letter, the boy will improvise and create his own dishes but that's how we differ and complement each other.

For some tasty baked chicken wings, I have the answer for you in this recipe. In a clean plastic bag, make a marinade of 4 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp sugar and 2 tsp salt. Add 10 chicken wings & bind the bag. Leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Roll the bag from time to time to marinate the wings evenly. Preheat oven to 220 degrees and place the chicken wings in a baking tin and bake for approx. 20 minutes, turning the wings halfway.

For a truly 'Hong Kong style' of eating, smear the wings with honey and bake for  a few minutes more before serving. Love the sticky goodness of honey on soy sauce chicken wings.

So you might be wondering how two people can eat 10 chicken wings in the one meal...erm, here's the story and it's quite funny. The story is that we usually buy wings in kilos. Asked the boy one day if I should split the 1kg bags of wings we buy into two but when I told him that there would only be 5 chicken wings between the two of us, he stopped me from portioning them out, said he'd rather eat all of them. Thinking maybe we might need to start buying them by the wing so we don't get into our comfort zones and overeat!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

laduree @ sydney westfield

My love for Laduree means I have both their cookbooks, a book about their store (half of which I can't read because it's in another language), a Laduree shopping bag, a Laduree macaron keyring and of course a collection of Laduree photos from visiting the stores in Europe. Unfortunately I haven't quite made my way to the Sydney store to check it out so have to live vicariously through other food bloggers until I go. Was pretty chuffed though that mum remembered me and bought me a small box when she went; it was good half hour wait for her so looks like the queues haven't quite died down yet.

The signature Laduree bag in green.

4 macarons come in this pretty little pink box. And as you can imagine, I've eaten the macarons but kept both the box and bag. Couldn't quite bring myself to throw them out.

Flavours from left to right: Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Blackcurrant Violet & Coffee. My favourite being the Blackcurrant Violet which tastes like you're eating a dollop of blackcurrant jam.

So what do I think of Laduree's macarons? At $15 for a box of 4 macarons, it's a hefty price to pay but worth it (even if it's for that minute of bliss when you open up that box). Tastewise, the flavours are true to what they say they are which is not something I can say about other macarons where you end up just tasting a generic macaron shell. I continue to love everything about the brand; everything is just too pretty. Any gifts from the Laduree store for those who want to buy me something, they would be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

marion grasby's thai red curry

So this week is a week of quick/easy to make meals (life is a little busy this week) so thought I'd get around to posting my next installment from Marion's Kitchen - a real life saver when it comes to cooking quick weeknight dinners. I'm actually two-thirds of the way through Marion Grasby's Kitchen Selection after trying her 'Thai Red Curry'; just two more to go - Sang Choy Bow and her Singapore Noodles. Secretly waiting for the last two to go on sale so I hope they do so soon!

So here's the packet in case you're looking for it at the supermarket.

Follow the steps on the packet; the only things you'll need to add is a little bit of meat and about 2 cups of vegies.

Serve with rice.

And there you have it, a cooked meal in about 20 minutes! Four boxes of Marion's Kitchen later, I'm still a big fan. Will keep you posted on the last two when I get to them.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

adriano zumbo's rose V8

Continuing my last post on Adriano Zumbo, I need to share these pics of his Rose V8 which I ordered for a recent family get together. Without me needing embellish things, it was a cake of beauty (truly amazing) and too quickly gobbled up. You see - we're always buying cakes for our family get togethers and it's rare that we actually finish the whole cake (with everyone taking a little bit home usually) so for us to be finishing the whole cake, it's definitely saying something.

The cake of beauty - When I ordered it, I actually thought I was getting the Vanilla V8 but picking it up,  I was told it was the Rose V8. Had my doubts at the time whether the rose would be too overpowering but then have a look at how pretty the cake is.

The cake ready for the big reveal. Unfortunately the website didn't say what all the layers were so I've only got a few pics to show you what was inside the cake.

All 8 layers within. There's the distinct flavours of both rose and lychee.

Cake innards - 8 perfect layers.

And well, it was an afternoon of polaroid fun. I'm a big, big fan of polaroid cameras.

So mum has already requested for another Adriano Zumbo cake for dad's birthday coming up. There's the Happy Birthday! cake otherwise the Croquembouche - which one to choose? Though my birthday's coming up too so maybe one for each birthday sounds like a plan!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

zumbaron day - oct. 6th, 2012

For someone that's not usually a morning person, I made the exception for Zumbaron Day this year; promptly woke up by 7 to be in the queue at The Star store by 8am. Unfortunately there were a fair few more eager beavers than I'd hoped so where we were placed in the queue, it was still a good hour wait till we got to the counter when the doors opened. But you know what, Adriano was in the kitchen and whilst I didn't have my face pressed against the window (that would've been embarrassing), there was a slight spring in my step and the queue didn't seem so bad. Plus the boy and I made friends with the people that were behind us and they were just as excited as we were to be at our first Zumbaron Day.

A good ten minutes was sent perusing the 62 macaron flavours on the menu. Of the 62, 6 were only available at The Star store so that was a bit of a no-brainer; I'd be taking those for sure. And well, 10 minutes later, it became clear that I'd just order all the flavours; that way I wouldn't be missing out on any of them.  

So usually I'm the crazy one that takes all the photos but the boy couldn't help himself and whipped out his phone camera and took a few too. The macarons are so, so pretty! Almost too pretty to eat!

Here are the specialty macarons that were only available at The Star store (clockwise from top left): Custard fritter, Duck Pancake, Pork Belly & Fried Chicken.

And here are the other two (from left): Hamburger & Fried Doughnut.

Fried chicken macaron innards - and yes, it tasted exactly like chicken.

Didn't think Adriano could pull this one off by here you have it, a Duck Pancake macaron which tastes exactly like the real thing.

Pork Belly. Whilst in the queue, I actually watched them making this one. One very red macaron sandwiched with 2 pieces of pork belly in a bun. Baked in the oven so that the macaron turns into a sweet red sauce when you eat it.

Happy as ever; me with the Choc Mallow Pop.

We haven't quite got through the entire haul yet but find that they're keeping well in the fridge (you know what, I actually think they taste better after they've been sitting in the fridge for a bit - they keep firm and some strangely retain their crunch). My favourite to date is probably the salted caramel. The strangest one had to be the Kimchi thought there's still a Wasabi and ginger one to try. Happy Zumbaron Day!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

baked tomato pork chop rice

If you're looking for a recipe which doesn't require you to be 100% precise about following it to the letter, this might very well be the one for you. And to top things off, it's a near perfect rendition of Baked Pork Chop Rice you'd find out at your regular Chinese restaurant; homestyle.

Tenderise 5 pieces pork medallions (or pork chops to be a bit more authentic) and chop into slices, mix with marinade (equal parts sugar, oil, dark soy sauce, corn flour, sesame oil and chinese rice wine; approximately 1 tablespoon each). Set aside for 30 minutes. In a jug, mix together 2 eggs, salt and a tsp of oil. Heat 1 tsp of oil and stir fry 2 cups of day-old rice. Pour in the egg mixture and mix well. Keep stir-frying until dry and then pour into a baking dish.

Heat 1 tsp of oil, stir fry 4 chopped tomatoes and add 5 tbsp ketchup, 1 tbsp white vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar, 1/2 cup water. When the sauce is boiled, add 1 tbsp corn flour to thicken the sauce. Pour on top of the fried rice. 

Stir fry 1 chopped onion, fry pork medallions with medium heat until half cooked. Place on top of the fried rice. Bake at 200 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

The only thing I'd say is missing is the thick gluggy sauce you usually get if you have this at a Chinese restaurant. I actually don't mind this homestyle version!

Cutting up the pork medallions into slices helps speed up the cooking process. We cooked this on a weeknight and with weeknight cooking, speed is definitely the key. Three words for this recipe - yum, yum, yum!