Pork San Choy Bau

Wraps have become a popular alternative to sandwiches in the past few years. Supermarkets and cafés offer a wide range and they make a satisfying and healthy lunch.

Start by spreading the wrap with homemade or bought mayonnaise or hummus, then put some protein such as cheese, ham, cold roast chicken, canned tuna or hard-boiled egg in a line down the middle, then whatever else you can find in the fridge – chutney, olives, cucumber, grated carrot, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, a few nuts. I don’t think I’ve ever made the same one twice.

This quick and tasty Chinese recipe uses lettuce cups instead of wraps and is perfect for a mid-week dinner or informal entertaining. Eat them with your fingers – which is a bit messy but the way they’re intended to be eaten – or with a knife and fork. Instead of lettuce cups you could serve the filling in ordinary bread wraps.

2 tsp vegetable oil
500g minced pork
1 chopped onion or 3 shallots
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbs fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
1 220g can water chestnuts, drained and sliced
¼ cup oyster sauce
¼ cup Thai sweet chilli sauce
¼ cup soy sauce
2 Tbs sesame oil
1-2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs Chinese cooking wine or sherry
2 Tbs lemon or lime juice
To serve:
1 iceberg lettuce, separated into cups
2 Tbs sesame seeds, lightly toasted
2 shredded spring onions

In a large frying pan heat the oil then add the pork, onion and garlic and stir fry for about 10 minutes over moderately high heat, until onions are soft and pork is broken up and starting to brown. Add ginger and water chestnuts and continue to cook for a couple of minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and stir until sauce has thickened and starting to caramelise.

Serve pork in the lettuce cups garnished with toasted sesame seeds and spring onions. The outside leaves of the lettuce are too large to use for this recipe, so keep them for another meal and use the smaller ones.

Serves 4

Variations:

  • Use beef or chicken mince instead of pork
  • Use Hoisin sauce instead of Oyster Sauce
  • If you don’t have any water chestnuts, leave them out

 

 

Egyptian Baked Fish with Tomatoes and Prawns

This tasty Egyptian recipe for fish was sent to me by Jane, a friend who lives in Vancouver. We met Jane and her husband while we were visiting my brother last year.

In the original recipe it says you can use a whole cleaned and gutted fish or fish steaks. I opted for the latter to avoid the bones. As with many tomato-based dishes, the leftovers were even better than the first time round.

6-8 thick firm white fish steaks or fillets (eg cod, halibut)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup sultanas or raisins
1 cup white wine
2 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup chopped parsley
1 x 400g can tomatoes
1 cup water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbs chopped fresh oregano or marjoram
12-16 whole cooked prawns (2 per person) shelled and deveined

Season fish with salt and pepper and drizzle with the lemon juice. Place sultanas and wine in a small bowl and leave to soak.

In a large frying pan heat the olive oil and cook the onion, leek, celery and garlic over moderate heat, stirring often, until soft but not brown. Add the parsley, tomatoes, seasoning, sugar and water. Drain the sultanas, keeping the fruit, and add the liquid to the tomato mixture. Simmer for 25 minutes or until the sauce has thickened, stirring often and crushing the tomatoes with the back of a spoon.

Meanwhile preheat oven to 200°C.  Oil a large shallow lasagne-type dish, tip in half the tomato sauce and spread out evenly. Arrange fish and lemon juice on top. Sprinkle the marjoram and the reserved sultanas evenly over the fish. Cover with remaining tomato sauce.

Bake for 30 minutes or until fish is cooked. Arrange prawns over the top for the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking and spoon some of the sauce over each one.

Serve with steamed rice.

Serves 6-8

Chicken Breast with Lemon and Capers

Looking for something tasty to serve mid-week? This easy recipe is one you will probably make again and again. It’s easy to halve the quantities if there are only two of you. Adding extra butter to the sauce at the end is very French and decadent, so if you’re worried about cholesterol by all means leave it out.

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/3 cup plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1¼ cups Panko breadcrumbs
60g Parmesan cheese, grated
25g butter
1 Tbs olive oil
½ cup dry white wine
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs drained capers
50g butter
2 Tbs finely chopped parsley

Hammer out the chicken breasts a bit with a meat mallet to an even thickness. If the breasts are huge, trim some off and keep for another meal – a stir-fry for example. Place seasoned flour, beaten eggs and Panko crumbs mixed with grated cheese in three separate shallow bowls. Coat each chicken breast first in the flour, then the beaten egg and lastly the crumb mixture, patting it on firmly.

Heat the 25g butter and olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the chicken for 5-7 minutes each side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Check with a sharp knife if you’re unsure. Remove chicken from pan and keep warm while you prepare the sauce.

Wipe out frying pan and add the wine and lemon juice. Cook for 2-3 minutes over moderately high heat, until reduced by about half. Add capers and the 50g butter cut into smaller bits, stirring constantly, until butter has barely melted. If sauce splits add a tablespoon of cold water and stir briskly until it emulsifies again. Add parsley, season to taste and spoon over the chicken. Serve with a green vegetable.

Serves 4

Indian Spiced Roast Lamb with Coriander Chutney

Somewhere towards the end of January I get cravings for a curry. Something spicy and a complete contrast to the food we tend to eat over the holiday period, with ham or turkey as the centrepiece.

As a change from the usual roast lamb with mint sauce, try this Indian-style spicy roast lamb. Serve the lamb with vegetables or skip the vegetables and serve it in wraps. Good for casual entertaining or teenage kids, where you can let everyone fill their own.

When it’s first made the coriander chutney is bright green. I made mine ahead and the colour changed, so it’s not so pretty in the photo.

Indian Spiced Roast Lamb with Coriander Chutney

1 leg of lamb
Spicy Marinade:
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp chilli flakes or powder
½ tsp ground turmeric
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp grated ginger
1 Tbs lemon or lime juice
1 Tbs oil
1 Tbs tomato paste
1/3 cup plain yoghurt
Coriander Chutney:
1 cup coriander leaves, tightly packed
3 spring onions, sliced
1 long fresh green chilli, seeds removed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbs lemon or lime juice
½ tsp ground cumin
Salt to taste
1 Tbs water, if needed
Garnish:
Coriander sprigs
Lemon wedges

Make slashes with a sharp knife all over the lamb. Place in a roasting pan. Place first 5 ingredients for Spicy Marinade in a small frying pan and stir over moderate heat until the spices smell fragrant. Place in a bowl, add remaining marinade ingredients and mix well. Spread all over the meat and rub in well. Leave lamb to marinate for a few hours at room temperature or loosely covered in the fridge overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Cover lamb with foil and roast for an hour and a half. Remove foil and roast for a further 30 minutes or until done to your liking. Remove from the oven and leave to rest, loosely covered with foil, for about 15 minutes, then carve thinly.

Place all ingredients for Coriander Chutney in food processor and process till chunky-smooth, stopping halfway to scrape down the sides. Add water if it’s too thick.

Serve lamb garnished with with coriander sprigs and lemon wedges with vegetables of your choice and the chutney. Or serve it in warm wraps with the chutney and some extra plain yoghurt and maybe some shredded lettuce or rocket.

Serves 8

Fish Fillets with Miso, Soba Noodles & Asparagus

This recipe Which came from a Coles supermarket magazine is quick, easy, tasty and healthy. What more could you want?

Fish Fillets with Miso, Soba Noodles & Asparagus

4 boneless, skinless, white fish fillets (about 150g each)
2 Tbs miso paste
3 Tbs orange or lemon juice
2 tsp honey
2 tsp soy sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
180g dried soba noodles
2 bunches asparagus, cut into 2
150g snow peas, sliced
2 tsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
2 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Place a large saucepan of water on to boil and turn the grill on high. Line a baking tray with foil, spray with oil and place the fish fillets on top. Mix miso paste, orange or lemon juice, honey and sauce sauce. Brush both sides of the fish with this mixture and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place fish under the gril and cook for 8-10 mins or until cooked.

Meanwhile cook noodles for a minute or two, then add the asparagus and snow peas and cook for another 2 mins or until vegetables and noodles are cooked. Drain well and mix in half the remaining miso sauce. Divide noodles and vegetables among 4 serving plates. Arrange fish on top and spoon over remaining miso sauce. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and spring onions.

Serves 4

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Tim Tams

This chocolate fudge cake has been our family’s birthday cake for decades. Twice it was promoted to the status of a three-tiered wedding cake – once covered with dark chocolate ganache and shaved chocolate and the second time with white chocolate ganache. It continues to be the preferred celebration cake in our family.

For the unenlightened, a Tim Tam consists of two layers of chocolate malted biscuit, separated by chocolate cream filling and coated with a thin layer of chocolate. These biscuits have become something of an Australian icon since their launch by Arnotts in 1963. Over the years new flavours and fillings have been introduced to keep up with modern trends. Tim Tams now come in dark or milk chocolate and with fillings such as salted caramel and peanut butter.

Matthew is a staunch Tim Tam fan so I decided to use them to decorate his birthday cake this year. Unfortunately white chocolate ends up rather yellow as you can see in the photo – but it tasted good! Make the cake the day before the birthday as it’s much easier to ice next day.

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Tim Tams

2/3 cup cocoa powder
½ cup hot water
125g butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1¾ cups self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup buttermilk (for substitute see below)
Pinch salt
Chocolate Ganache:
300ml thick cream
250g chocolate (dark, milk or white)
To decorate:
2 x 200g packets Tim Tams
1 packet Maltesers (optional)
3 Tbs cream and 50g white chocolate, melted, to drizzle over

In a small bowl, mix hot water with cocoa until smooth. Preheat oven to 180°. In a fan-forced oven it’s best to lower the temperature to 170ºC so cake doesn’t rise too fast. Grease a 20-22cm round cake tin and line the bottom with baking paper. Alternatively use two shallow sandwich tins and line them both.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla, lastly chocolate mixture and buttermilk alternately with sifted dry ingredients. Give the mixture a good beat for 30 seconds to remove any lumps. If preferred you can do all the creaming and mixing in a food processor.

Scrape mixture into cake tin and smooth the top. Bake for 35-45 mins in the centre of the oven, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Don’t overcook as you want the cake to be moist and fudgey. Two thinner cakes will take less time, around 25 mins. Cool 10 minutes in tin. Turn out and cool on a cake rack.

Make Chocolate Ganache – see below. Either ice cake just on the top and sides, or if you’ve cooked it in two sandwich tins use some of the ganache in the middle to stick them together. You can also cut one large cake in two horizontally with a serrated knife. If cake has risen into too much of a domed shape shave a bit off with a serrated knife and eat it for morning tea!

To ice cake in the middle as well as top and sides you need to make one and a half times the Ganache recipe. You need plenty to avoid cake crumbs coming off as you work and it’s very annoying to run out.

While the cake is perfectly nice without any adornment, if liked stick Tim Tams around the sides, cover the top with Maltesers and drizzle with melted and cooled white chocolate mixture. Cake keeps for 3-4 days in a tin.

Chocolate Ganache: Heat cream in a small saucepan until boiling then remove from the heat and add chocolate, broken into squares. Stir to dissolve then cool until thick enough to spread over cake.

Substitute: if you don’t have buttermilk use ½ cup plain yoghurt and ½ cup milk or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tsp vinegar and left to stand for an hour.

Serves 14


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Sticky Asian Lamb in a Slow Cooker

Our friend Juliette recently posted a recipe for Slow Cooked Sticky Asian Lamb on Facebook. It looked delicious so I saved it.

The recipe uses a whole leg of lamb, but the other day I was in the supermarket when they decided to mark down all their one kilo packs of forequarter lamb chops to $2 a packet. I couldn’t resist buying a few for the freezer as they were almost giving them away. I decided to make the Sticky Lamb using 2 kilos of chops instead of a leg. It was delicious and would makes a great dish for a large family or casual entertaining.

Sticky Asian Lamb in a Slow Cooker

1 whole leg of lamb, bone in, or 2kg lamb chops
1-2 Tbs oil
Sauce:
½ cup Kecap Manis (sweet soy sauce)
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
3 star anise
8 cm piece of ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
2 sticks lemongrass, cut into two and bruised with a meat hammer
4 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped
To serve:
1 packet rice noodles
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbs toasted sesame seeds
6 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
Asian greens such as Bok Choy, steamed

Trim meat, discarding any fat which is easy to remove. Heat oil in a large frying pan and fry meat all over until nicely browned and caramelised. If using chops you will need to do them in 2-3 batches. Place in slow cooker.

Mix all ingredients for the sauce and pour over the meat. If you’re using chops rather than a leg of lamb you will need to add a bit more liquid, so add a cup of water. Cover and cook for 5 to 6 hours on High. Every couple of hours turn meat over to make sure it’s well-covered with the sauce.

Remove meat from slow cooker when it’s very tender and falling off the bones. Using two forks shred the meat, discarding bones and lemongrass. If there’s a lot of fat in the sauce, put it in the freezer until the fat sets on top and can be easily removed and discarded.

Place sauce in a small saucepan and boil to reduce a bit. You want a thickish sticky sauce, but don’t over-do it or you will end up with too little. I didn’t need to reduce my sauce, but this will depend on your slow cooker because they vary a lot in temperature. I shredded the meat and put it back into the sauce in the slow cooker and left it there on Low for an hour, until I was ready to serve.

Cook noodles according to packet instructions, drain, season and add the sesame oil. Pile noodles onto a large serving platter or divide among individual plates. Top with the meat and sauce then garnish with sesame seeds and spring onions. Serve steamed greens in another dish and let people help themselves.

Serves 6-8

Julia’s Burgers with Beetroot Relish

I recently caught up with my friend Julia over a delicious lunch at The Palette Café. Inevitably the conversation got onto food and how we both love beetroot. I said we had grown some last year with mixed success. “Ah” said Julia “I have the solution”.

The trick is to soak the seeds overnight in tepid water and then plant the drained seeds in potting mix in cardboard toilet roll holders. Once they are up plant the seedlings, toilet roll holder and all, into the soil. Julia grows zucchini and pumpkin the same way.

Word went out that Matthew needed empty toilet roll holders and before you could say Jack Robinson friends and family all over town were coming to the rescue. It’s interesting to see how many some families go through in a week and how abstemious others are by comparison. On this subject Matthew quotes a statistic from his time in the Australian Army. Requirements were calculated on the basis of seven and a half squares per man per day. With a lot more women in the military these days they’ve no doubt had to throw those figures out the window.

While on the subject of beetroot Julia promised to send me her recipe for Veal Burgers with Beetroot Relish which she cut out of the local newspaper some time ago. If you don’t have veal use beef, pork or chicken mince. If you are unable to buy Tzatziki either make your own – there are plenty of recipes online – or just leave it out. The burgers are almost as good served with just the Beetroot Relish.

I used English mustard instead of Dijon in the relish and doubled the amount from half to one teaspoonful. The coarse (0.5cm) grating disc attachment on my Magimix made short work of grating the apples and beetroot.

The recipe says to leave the relish for 3 weeks to mature before using. I think we gave ours about 30 minutes! It was still scrumptious and there’s plenty left over for the next batch of burgers!

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Burgers
400g veal mince (or beef, pork, chicken)
2 Tbs semi-dried or dried tomatoes, finely chopped
2 Tbs pitted kalamata olives, finely chopped
2 Tbs finely chopped parsley
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste
To serve
2-3 zucchini cut into ribbons with vegetable peeler
1 Tbs olive oil
4 bread buns, split and toasted, or 4 pieces toasted baguette
Handful of baby spinach leaves
Few cherry tomatoes
1 small tub Tzatziki (bought)
1 Tbs chopped mint
Beetroot Relish (see recipe below)

Mix all ingredients for burgers and form into four patties. Cut zucchini into long ribbons and mix with the oil. Heat a barbecue, griddle pan or non-stick frying pan and cook the burgers for about 5 minutes each side or until done to your liking. Cook the zucchini strips on both sides on the same barbecue or in a second frying pan, until golden, then drain on paper towels.

Arrange a few spinach leaves on one half of the toasted buns or baguette, then the burgers. Garnish with tomatoes, zucchini ribbons and some Beetroot Relish. Mix the mint into the Tzatziki and serve separately.

Serves 4

Beetroot Relish
400g beetroots
200g green apples
1 Tbs oil
1 brown onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ cup white wine or cider vinegar
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp English mustard (or Dijon)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
2 whole cloves
5cm piece of orange rind, removed with a potato peeler

Place beetroots in a saucepan, cover with water, then cook for about 40 mins or until tender. Cool, peel, then grate coarsely. Peel and coarsely grate the apples.

Heat oil in a heavy-based saucepan and gently cook the onion and garlic until soft but not brown. Add the apple and remaining ingredients, except the grated beetroot and cook for 10 minutes or so, until cooked down. Then add the beetroot and continue to cook for about 30 minutes until thickened like a relish. You’re supposed to remove and discard the piece of orange rind, but I finely chopped it and mixed it back in.

Pour into clean sterilised jars and seal while hot. If possible, leave for 3 weeks to mature before using. To sterilise jars place them in the microwave on High for 2 minutes without the lids.

 

 

Sicilian Pasta with Eggplant, Pine Nuts and Raisins

I’m always on the lookout for tasty new ways to serve pasta.

As we discovered when we spent a week there last year, Sicilian cuisine uses a lot of eggplant, one of my favourite vegetables. In this traditional Sicilian recipe it’s combined with tomatoes, raisins, pine nuts and capers. Two photos this week – one in the pan and one on the plate.

Sicilian Pasta with Eggplant, Pine Nuts and Raisins

3 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ small red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
2 Tbs fresh marjoram or oregano, chopped (or 1 Tbs dried)
1 large eggplant (aubergine) cut into 2cm cubes
2 Tbs raisins
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbs capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
2 Tbs red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
½ cup water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g pasta (e.g penne, fusilli, rigatoni)
To serve:
2 Tbs pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 Tbs fresh chopped mint (or parsley)
Grated Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil

Heat 1 Tbs of the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion, garlic, chilli and marjoram until onion is soft, but not browned. Remove from pan. Add remaining 2 Tbs oil to the pan and cook the eggplant, stirring. When golden add raisins, tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar then return the onion mixture to the pan. Add the capers, vinegar and water, then simmer gently while you cook the pasta. If it gets too dry add a bit more water.

Cook pasta until al dente. Season the eggplant sauce, then mix into the pasta. Serve topped with the pine nuts, mint, grated cheese and a drizzle of oil.

Serves 2-3

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Bryony’s Beetroot Coleslaw

Bryony Hill came to our wedding, so we go back a long way. She lives in England in the county of Sussex where she writes, cooks, grows vegetables and keeps chickens. Bryony has written several books on subjects such as gardening, cooking and dogs and recently published My Gentleman Jim about her late husband Jimmy Hill, the famous and much-loved British football commentator.

Bryony recently posted her recipe for Beetroot Coleslaw on Facebook. I’m a big fan of beetroot, especially when it’s raw, so I made a note to make it as soon as we got back from our recent travels.

It goes very well with grilled or barbecued meats, keeps for a couple of days in the fridge and makes a great filler for sandwiches or wraps.

Of course the beetroot turns everything pink so I did consider renaming it Bryony’s Pink Slaw.

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3-4 beetroots, peeled
1 Lebanese cucumber
3 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 bulb fennel
1 kohlrabi
2-3 carrots, peeled
A handful of radishes
2 stalks celery
¼ cup light mayonnaise (preferably home-made)
¼ cup plain Greek yoghurt
Juice of ½ to 1 lemon, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Coarsely grate, thinly slice or shred all the vegetables and place in a large bowl. I used a large (5mm) grating disc on my Magimix for the beetroots and carrots, then the thin slicing disc for everything else. I thinly sliced the cucumber, then cut the slices in half.

Add mayonnaise, yoghurt, lemon juice and seasoning to taste. Add a bit more mayonnaise or yoghurt if necessary.

If you’re missing any of the vegetables (I didn’t have any kohlrabi) just leave it out or substitute something else such as white or red cabbage.

Serves 4-6