It Just Has To Be Delicious

Ricotta Pancakes

ricotta pancakes

I love a pancake, and I am always on the lookout for new pancake recipes. This one creates quite a thick batter and the amounts given are for one big one or two smaller ones. This one has no wheat flour, it is made with coconut flour and ricotta with some psyllium husk to make it light and fluffy. I topped mine with some frozen berries that I heated with a little water, a scoop of coconut yoghurt, honey and a sprinkle of granola.

Recipe – mix all the ingredients up in a jug or bowl:
60g ricotta (or coconut yoghurt)
1 egg (or egg replacer, aquafaba, or leave it out)
1 dessertspoon of psyllium husk
1 dessertspoon of coconut flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 dessertspoon of shredded coconut (optional)
a little water or soy milk

Heat a little oil in a frying pan (I use vegetable or groundnut oil), then scoop the batter into the pan (it will be too thick to pour). Smooth it out with a spatula and heat on low to medium heat for approx 5 minutes before flipping over and cooking for another 5 minutes.

ricotta pancakes 2
ricotta pancakes 3

It looks quite thick but the inside is soft and light. Topping options are endless including nutella, strawberries, peaches, nuts, honey, agave syrup, yoghurt, and cream.

Satay

There are many satay recipes around and it is difficult to find a really authentic one, so I have decided to share my favourite satay recipe. These skewers taste lovely, especially if you cook them on the barbecue. The recipe takes time, and you need to allow time for marinating, but the end result is well worth it.

satay

If you are a busy person and you look at my recipe and think “blimey, I can’t do all that”, then make your way to Mr Weezee – he has two shops, one at Booragoon and one on Stirling Highway. Satay is his speciality – he supplies most of the restaurants in Perth, and you can buy chicken or beef satay either on sticks (12 sticks for $10) or as a pack of meat, fresh or frozen along with a pot of satay sauce. It is one of those things that I always keep in the freezer now for a good tasty dinner in super quick time. With the packs of meat, you just stir fry them with your favourite veggies. Here’s a tip, if you decide to make the trip to Mr Weezee on Stirling Highway, there is a wonderful cafe next door called Elixir.
Okay so here is the recipe – you will need a device to grind some ingredients to a paste. I have a Braun Multiquick, but there are plenty of other similar utensils.

braun

Satay Recipe
1.5 Kg meat (beef or chicken work best)
Grind the following to a paste:
6 stalks of lemon grass (remove the fibrous outer layers – just use the white middles)
10 shallots or 2 red onions
4 cloves garlic
1cm galangal (use an extra cm ginger if you can’t get galangal)
1cm ginger
1.5 tablespoons turmeric
2 tablespoons caster sugar (brown if you have it)
1 teaspoon salt

Chop the meat into thin strips (you can do chunks if you prefer, but they will take longer to cook) and marinate in the paste in the refrigerator overnight. Make sure you mix it well so that the marinade really penetrates the meat.
Soak some bamboo skewers in water (this stops them from burning), then thread the strips of meat onto the skewers like thick ribbons.
Cook on a barbecue or under a hot grill – the timing depends on how thick your chunks of meat are, after a few minutes cut one of the pieces of meat to see how it is doing. Serve with satay sauce (see below), cucumber, onion and rice.

Satay Sauce Recipe
Grind the following ingredients to a paste:
4 stalks of lemon grass (again, discard the fibrous outer layers, just use the soft white inner core)
1 cm galangal (if you can’t find galangal just use an extra cm ginger)
1cm ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon chilli paste (this is usually sufficient – add more or less depending on your taste)

You also need:
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
300g toasted peanuts coarsely ground
1 cup water
a quarter of a cup of thick tamarind juice (you can buy this in jars in asian supermarkets, but if you really can’t find it use lemon juice to add sourness to the sauce)
2 tablespoons sugar
palm sugar or honey if you need it to be sweeter
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a pot and fry the paste until it smells fragrant. Add all the other ingredients and cook until thick. Taste it as you go and add more salt, sugar,and tamarind if necessary to season to your taste.
ENJOY

Kakiage

I love tempura – the light batter and the soft veggies are such a great contrast. You can make your own dipping sauce for these kakiage, but I prefer to serve them with a nice thick homemade mayonnaise. Mine are a bit smaller than the traditional round ones that you see at sushi bars, but they cook fairly quickly and are great to be prepared in advance and then reheated in a hot oven for 10 minutes.

kakiage

Ingredients:
You can use any veggies, but I chose a combination of sweetcorn, broccoli, carrot and onion. This recipe makes 6 kakiage (plus a tester).

1 Onion thinly sliced
2 Small carrots cut into matchstick size pieces
1 Portion of kernels cut from the cob of one ear of corn (remove husk and silk first)
5 florets of broccoli cut into small pieces
8 tablespoons of plain flour
2 tablespoons of corn flour
1 teaspoon of salt
200mls of cold water (preferably from the fridge)
Enough vegetable oil to fill a small saucepan about a third full.

Method:
1. While the saucepan of oil is heating, prepare the vegetables and place them in a bowl.
2. In a separate bowl or jug, mix the batter ingredients – salt, flour, cornflour and water. Don’t overmix the batter – a few small lumps will be okay.
3. Add the batter to the vegetables and mix well.
4. Check that the oil is ready by dropping a very small droplet of batter into the pan. If it fizzes and rises up, the temperature is probably right.
5. Using a very large metal spoon or heat resistant spatula, scoop up a large spoonful of the batter/veg mixture. Carefully slide it off the spoon and into the oil. It might look like it won’t hold together, but it will – don’t worry.
6. After 3-4 minutes, flip the kakiage and cook for another 3-4 minutes on the other side. The kakiage won’t go really dark, but some of the veggies may look a little brown, The onion strands should be lovely and crispy.
7. Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately.
8. Alternatively place in a an oven dish and cover with foil. When you are ready to serve, warm them up in the oven for 10 minutes at 190 deg C.
9. Serve with mayonnaise, or tentsuyu sauce with grated daikon.

Other good veggies for this recipe are potato, sweet potato, green beans, eggplant, squash, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccolini, spring onion. I would always recommend using onion because it adds so much flavour and gives some nice raggedy crispy edges.

Shepherd’s Pie

shep 1
shep 2

Shepherd’s Pie is one of those lovely warming winter dishes, nice tasty lamb mince with a mashed potato topping, finished off in the oven and served with veggies of your choice.
On the day that I made these 3 batches for the freezer, the supermarket had most of the ingredients I needed in a ‘bargain bucket’, and other than being a little misshapen or ripe, there was nothing wrong with them, hence the large quantities. I’ll give you the recipe here for 500g of mince which will serve at least 5 people and potentially 6 if you pack it with extra veggies. You can make one huge pie or split it into 3 portions as I have done.
Traditionally it does not contain zucchini or swede, but add whatever you like to make your own version.
If you are vegan you can use vegan mince and vegan cheese.

Ingredients:
500g lamb mince, rinsed. (If it is very fatty you may wish to boil it first for a few minutes to get rid of excess fat then rinse in a sieve with boiling water.)
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 sticks of celery diced
1 dried or fresh chilli (optional)
2 carrots diced
1 small swede peeled and diced (optional)
1 small zucchini/courgette diced (optional)
5 large ripe tomatoes diced (peel them if you feel so inclined)
a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
a lamb stock cube
1 tablespoon of Worcester sauce
Half a tablespoon of Soy sauce
a bunch of chopped chives (optional)
1 tablespoon of mixed herbs (fresh or dried)
2 bay leaves
200g of potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons of butter or spread
a little milk (optional)
40g approx of grated cheddar cheese (optional)
salt and pepper

1. In a large deep pan, heat approx 3 tablespoons of olive oil and add the lamb mince. Stir fry until it gets some colour and then add the onion, carrots, celery, swede, zucchini and chilli.
2. Fry until they begin to soften. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in some salted water in a large saucepan until they are soft enough to mash (takes about 10 minutes depending on the size of the dice).
3. To the lamb mixture add the tomatoes, fresh and tinned, herbs, Worcester and soy sauces, and crumble the stock cube in to the mixture. Rinse the tomato can with water and add, it if it needs thinning out a little.
4. Cook for approx 20 minutes, and taste. Add salt and pepper as necessary.
5. Drain the potatoes (leave a little water in the pan), return to the pan and mash with the addition of the butter, milk, part of the cheese and some salt and pepper to season.
6. Put the lamb mixture in an ovenproof dish and cover with mash. Top the mash with some cheese (as much or as little as you like).
7. At this point the pie can cool and be frozen for later use. If you are eating it now, pop it into an oven at 170 – 180 deg C for about 15-20 minutes until the cheese browns and bubbles. If reheating from frozen, thaw first (if you have time) for at least 2 hours, then reheat in an oven at 170-180 deg C for about 40 minutes. Cooking directly from frozen works but will take longer and a lower temperature is recommended to heat it through slowly before turning the heat up to 180 for the last 15 minutes.
8. Serve with a side of veggies such as peas, broccoli, spinach.
Optional other ingredients: Mushrooms, Eggplant, Button squash, Tomato paste, Sweet potato mash.

shep 3

Those of you who know me will know that I love a curry. This vietnamese chicken and sweet potato curry is one of my favourites – once all of the ingredients are prepared, you just chuck them in the pot and leave it to cook. Once the sweet potato is soft, it is ready to serve. It also benefits from the addition of a small amount of caramel – sweetness is very good for relieving hot raw spices, and if I am cooking a curry that tastes too hot, I will generally add a teaspoon of sugar, leave it for a few minutes and then taste again.
Vegans can adapt this curry by using vegan fish sauce and chicken substitute.

viet cc

I got this recipe from Ghillie Basan’s Vietnamese cook book, but I have added a few tweaks of my own.

Recipe
One and a half tablespoons curry powder (I use Indian Madras curry powder – if you feel really adventurous you can make your own)
One and a half tablespoons garam masala
1 tablespoon turmeric
500g chicken skinned – thighs are juicier, but I like to mix thigh and breast meat (If you are vegan you can replace the chicken with Tofurkey chick’n pieces)
One and a half tablespoons brown sugar (any type)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 shallots (or half a red onion) chopped finely
2 garlic cloves chopped or crushed
4cm galangal (if you can’t find it, use ginger), peeled and grated (it will be mushy when grated)
2 lemon grass stalks (remove the outer fibrous leaves, cut the end off to reveal the white middle, keep about 3cm intact, and make 4 long slits in the other part then bash with a mallet or flat heavy knife blade to release the flavour)
2 teaspoons chilli paste (sambal oelek – or use a large dried red chilli)
1 medium to large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons fish sauce (use vietnamese nuoc mam if you can find it) If you are vegan use vegan fish sauce
600ml coconut milk
small bunch coriander chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix the curry powder, garam masala and turmeric in a large bowl. Add the chicken and mix to coat with the dry spices.
2. Heat the sugar on a low heat with one and a half tablespoons of water, after a while it should dissolve and turn golden. Remove from the heat.
3. Heat a large wok and add the sesame oil. Stir fry the shallots (or onion) with the garlic, galangal and lemon grass until they smell fragrant and lovely. Stir in the chilli paste.
4. Now add the chicken with all of the dry spice mix (don’t leave any behind) – stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
5. Add the coconut milk, mix well. Then add the caramel, fish sauce and sweet potato. Rinse out the caramel saucepan with 150ml water, and add it to the curry.
6. Bring to the boil and then simmer until the chicken is cooked and the sweet potato is tender.
7. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the coriander. Remove the lemon grass stalks before serving.

Pasta Sauce

I like to make pasta sauces in advance – they are a great way of using up leftover vegetables, and can be really economic to make if you have a supermarket that offers misshapen or odd veggies at a lower price e.g. The Odd Bunch. If you have children, they won’t notice how many veggies are in the sauce because it will taste so good and also be very nutritious. My sauces tend to be red or green and both go really well with pasta. The red sauce is tomato based and great for meatballs (or Bolognese if you add mince to it), but it is equally nice on its own. The green sauce goes really nicely with fish and pasta, I tend to add some cooked salmon or crab to the green sauce and serve it with a nice penne or fusilli pasta.

red sauce

FOR THE RED SAUCE
2 stalks of celery chopped (leftover celery freezes really well, chop it up and place portions into zip seal bags)
1 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 fresh red chilli chopped (or a teaspoon of chilli paste)
1 jar of passata
2 teaspoons of vegetable stock powder
Mixed herbs (dried, fresh or in a tube) – use whichever herbs you like, I used a large teaspoon of mixed dried herbs
Salt and pepper to season
Optional: tomato paste, sun dried tomatoes, capers, olives, roasted capsicum in a jar – this is great for using up all of those half used jars in the fridge.
Any veggies, for the sauce in the picture I used: 1 zucchini, 1 sweet potato, 3 large mushrooms, and half a red capsicum. You can also use eggplant, squash, carrots, cauliflower, swede, fresh tomatoes – anything that you have lying around will work. Chop all of the veggies into small pieces and keep the hard veg separate from the softer veg as it will take longer to cook.

METHOD
Using approx 2-3 tablespoons of oil (olive or vegetable), fry the onion, celery, chilli and garlic for a minute.
Add the hard vegetables e.g. carrot, swede, sweet potato, zucchini, squash.
After approx 5 minutes, add the soft vegetables and the passata. Add the herbs, vegetable stock powder and seasonings and continue to cook until all of the vegetables are soft and a little mushy.
Using a stick blender or food processor, whizz up the vegetables into a smooth sauce. When dividing portions for the freezer, 500ml of sauce is a good portion size for two people. Taste and adjust the seasoning to suit your taste.

FOR THE GREEN SAUCE
2 stalks of celery chopped (leftover celery freezes really well, chop it up and place portions into zip seal bags)
1 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 teaspoons of vegetable stock powder
3 tablespoons of yoghurt, coconut cream, cashew cream, sour cream, ricotta or coconut yoghurt
Mixed herbs (dried, fresh or in a tube) – use whichever herbs you like, I used a large teaspoon of mixed dried herbs
Salt and pepper to season
Any green veggies, for the sauce in the picture I used: 1 zucchini, 1 head of broccoli, 1 large mushroom (okay it’s not green but I wanted to use it up), and a bunch of broccolini. You can also use kale, spinach, swede, green capsicum, yellow capsicum, cauliflower, green cabbage – again, anything that you have lying around that is predominantly green or yellow will work. Chop all of the veggies into small pieces and keep the hard veg separate from the softer veg as it will take longer to cook. You can also use any edible stems and leaves, just chop the stems a bit smaller e.g. broccoli stems.

METHOD
Using approx 2-3 tablespoons of oil (olive or vegetable), fry the onion, celery, chilli and garlic for a minute.
Add the hard vegetables e.g. zucchini, swede, broccoli.
After approx 5 minutes, add the soft vegetables. Add the herbs, vegetable stock powder and seasonings and continue to cook until all of the vegetables are soft and a little mushy.
Add the yoghurt, cream or ricotta. You may also need to add some water if the consistency is too thick.
Using a stick blender or food processor, whizz up the vegetables into a smooth sauce. When dividing portions for the freezer, 500ml of sauce is a good portion size for two people. Taste and adjust the seasoning to suit your taste.
If you wish to cook crab pasta for example, heat the sauce, prepare the pasta in a separate pot. When the pasta is almost cooked add approx 100g of cooked crab per person to the sauce, heat through for a few minutes, then drain the pasta and combine the sauce with the pasta.

green sauce

Meatballs

Home made meatballs are so versatile and freezable, and once made ahead they are perfect for a quick midweek dinner with some pasta sauce and pasta, and the best thing is that if you make them yourself, you know exactly what goes into them. If you need gluten free or dairy free meatballs, beware of buying them in a supermarket because some manufacturers add milk, flour, and gluten containing breadcrumbs.

meatballs

Here’s the recipe that we use, and this quantity makes approximately 40 meatballs. We portion them up for the freezer by wrapping 8 in cling film and then placing them in a zip seal bag. We get 4 dinners out of approx 1 kg of meat, so that’s 125g of meat per person per meal which equates to 4 golf ball sized meatballs per person. If that’s too much or not enough for you, feel free to divide it up into larger portions or smaller portions to suit your family. If you want to be super swish you can weigh the finished mixture (makes sure you
note the weight of the empty bowl first), then you can weigh each meatball to make sure they are even.

Ingredients
1kg of minced meat (we vary ours but tend to mix two meats e.g. 500g of 5 star beef and 500g 3 star pork – this ensures that there is enough fat in them, but feel free to make them ‘leaner’ if you need, or use other minces such as turkey, chicken, veal, lamb etc.)
1 large onion, grated or whizzed up in a food processor (if you fry up the mashed onion first, this will release some of the water and make for a more manageable mixture, but you don’t have to).
2 slices of bread whizzed up into breadcrumbs (we prefer wholemeal, you can also use gluten free bread)
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons of your favourite mustard – Dijon is a good choice
2 teaspoons of vegetable stock powder
Some herbs – dried mixed, minced in a tube, or fresh chopped such as parsley, basil etc.
Salt and pepper – approx half a teaspoon of each
Optional extras – if you want a spicier meatball you can add chilli, paprika, cumin, coriander, turmeric. If you can eat dairy, you can also add grated parmesan to the mixture.
You can also add a dash of nutmeg or some tomato paste if you like a tomatoey flavour.

Method
Mix everything together in a large bowl until all of the ingredients are nicely combined then shape into golf ball size balls.

Cooking
When you are ready to cook them, brown them in a little oil first in a frying pan, then add the sauce of your choice. Start your pasta cooking in a separate pot, and by the time the pasta is cooked (approx 12 minutes), the meatballs should be cooked through. Cut one in half to make sure. Obviously larger meatballs will take longer. Garnish with parmesan and black pepper (you can also buy good vegan parmesan if you prefer dairy-free).

Jambalaya

Jambalaya is one of those fairly quick one-pot meals which is really good for using up leftovers. It is basically a rice dish with paprika and chorizo, tinned tomatoes, various vegetables and either chicken or prawns or both. The joy of jambalaya is that you can flavour it however you like – if you want it to be a bit warm, add a chilli (or chilli paste) and/or some tabasco. You can also add sun-dried tomatoes,carrot, zucchini, fire roasted red pepper strips or any other pickles that you may have in the fridge.

jamb

This is my standard recipe, but please feel free to adapt it to your taste.
1 large onion, sliced or chopped how you like it
1 red chilli finely sliced
1 cup approx of rice
1 chorizo sliced
4 mushrooms
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 stock cube (once you have added the tomatoes, you can make up the stock cube or powder in the empty can)
1 tablespoon paprika
half a stick of celery sliced
half a capsicum (any colour) sliced
a few sun dried tomatoes sliced
8 raw tiger prawns chopped or sliced

1. Boil the kettle. Fry the onion, chilli and chorizo slices (in a large high-sided pan or wok) in a little olive oil for a few minutes, add the capsicum and celery plus any other hard veg that you are including.
2. Sprinkle with paprika and stir fry for a few minutes.
3. Add the rice and stir it around for about 30 seconds. Add the tinned tomatoes. Dissolve the stock cube in the empty tomato tin with some boiling water (this will capture any left over tomato juice). When you hold the can, be careful because it may be very hot where it conducts the heat of the water – add the stock to the pan.
4. Stir well – the rice will begin to cook and absorb the liquid. Now add the mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes.
5. It should take approx 12 minutes to cook depending on your rice, taste the rice as you go along to see how it is doing.
6. When the rice is almost done, add the prawns – they should only take a few minutes to turn opaque.
7. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. When you serve it, the rice should be cooked, and there should be a small amount of rich tomato gravy. I like mine sprinkled with deep fried onions (you can buy these ready made from your asian supermarket).

vbs

One of my favourite dishes in Perth’s Viet Hoa is the beef skewers with wine and herbs. It took me a while to find a marinade that recreated them perfectly, but here it is:

Recipe
750g beef fillet
3 cloves garlic crushed
1 stalk lemon grass
1 small red chilli finely chopped
1 teaspoon caster sugar (brown is better)
1 tablespoon fish sauce (get vietnamese nuoc mam if you can)
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Put the beef in the freezer while you make the marinade.
You can chop the lemon grass if you like, but I prefer to slice the very end off, so you can see the white middle, and cut long slits down the length of the stalk, but leaving about an inch intact at the top. Then you can bash the bulbous bottom end with a mallet or a flat heavy knife to release the flavour, but the stalk remains in one piece that you can remove it easily at the end of marinading or cooking.
Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl.
Slice the beef very thinly and marinate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight (cover the bowl with cling film).
Thread the beef onto skewers and cook on a hot barbecue or griddle. If you like you can sprinkle them with sesame seeds before cooking, and serve with coriander leaves.
Enjoy.

I made this dish after being totally inspired by the black bean beef dish served by Peach Garden at Singapore’s Changi airport (terminal 1). This simple dish was possibly the best meal at an airport that I have ever tasted, and I came home ready to make my own version. Sadly Peach Garden is no longer at Changi, but they do have several branches around Singapore.

bbb

I added mushrooms to my version and used both red and green capsicum peppers. It
wasn’t quite as perfect as the Peach Garden version, but it was definitely very very tasty and I will be making it again. The dish is very quick to make once that you have your prep done, so get everything ready first, make sure your rice is nearly ready, and then create your lovely beef dish. I have tried to keep the salt to a minimum because the light soy and the black bean sauce will have salt in them already – but please taste before serving and adjust the seasoning.
This recipe serves two with lots of nice sauce:

Approx 250 – 300g of good rump steak trimmed and cut into thin strips (I bought a 350g pack, but trimmed all of the fat off)
Half a tablespoon of cornflour
1 tablespoon of shao xing rice wine (widely available in asian shops, but you can substitute with sherry)
1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
Half a large red capsicum
Half a large green capsicum
One medium onion
2-3 large brown mushrooms
2 garlic cloves
4 cm root ginger grated
4 tablespoons black bean sauce
2 teaspoons sugar (preferably brown)
80mls chicken stock (try to use low salt variety)
Half a teaspoon of sesame oil

1. Mix together the cornflour, shao xing rice wine and light soy sauce in a bowl. Marinate the beef in this mixture for at least 10 minutes, but up to half an hour if you are organised.
2. Cut the onion and capsicums into bite sized chunks. Slice the mushrooms.
3. Make the sauce by mixing the stock, sesame oil, black bean sauce and sugar.
4. Fry the beef quickly in a few tablespoons of peanut or sunflower oil to brown it – just a few minutes. Remove the beef and keep it nearby on a plate.
5. Now put the onion, garlic, and ginger in the pan and stir fry for a few minutes. Add the capsisums and mushrooms and continue to stir fry over a fairly high heat for another 4-5 minutes.
6. Now add the sauce and the beef to the pan and stir fry for a further 3 minutes to heat through. Season to taste.
7. Serve with boiled or fried rice. You can garnish the beef with sliced spring onions if you like.

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