Mid Week Mince Madness

San Choy Bow

A crazy week! Holidays begin at 3:06 this Friday, so the race to get everything done at work by the end of term has left me feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

This week my daughter has decided that she would hound me to make one of her favourite meals.  She’s a great nagger because it worked…San Choy Bow for dinner just to stop the nagging…as well as because it’s delicious!


  • 1 iceberg lettuce
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 tspn sesame oil
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced diagonally
  • 500g pork mince and 500g chicken mince
  • 1 small carrot, peeled, julienned
  • 1 zucchini, julienned
  • 1 small red capsicum, deseeded, julienned
  • 1 small beetroot, sliced and julienned
  • 1/3 cup tsao xching wine (chinese cooking wine)
  • 1/3 cup Lee Kum Kee Panda brand Oyster Sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce


With core of lettuce facing down, bang core on a flat surface. This will make it easy to remove whole core by twisting and pulling out. Remove damaged outer leaves. Discard. Separate leaves and place in a large bowl of icy cold water. Refrigerate until required.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add green onions. Cook for 1 minute. Increase heat to high. Add pork and chicken mince. Cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until browned.

Add carrot, zucchini, capsicum and beetroot. Stir well. Combine all sauces in a jug. Add to mince mixture. Stir well. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat. Simmer for 2 minutes.

Drain lettuce leaves. Pat dry with paper towel. Place lettuce cups on platter. Spoon mince mixture into lettuce cups and serve.

Not Just Another Pasta Dish

Pasta with Anchovy Sauce

Don’t even think of the horrible hairy nondescript things they put on pizza (that my cat won’t even touch). Anchovies are wonderful and full of amazing flavour when melted into a great sauce and used in pasta.

My daughter who swears she would rather die than eat anchovies, went back for seconds and then took the left overs to school the next day for lunch.

This is a Nigella Lawson recipe but I used different pasta only because I used what I had in the pantry. It is important to use a thicker pasta so the ‘sauce’ coats everything. This is not really a sauce but a coating that is just amazing. I also topped this with Tallegio Cheese only because I had some and just love it but the recipe doesn’t call for it.


  • 2 large onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 12 anchovy fillets or 1 x 60g can (total weight) in olive oil
  • 15g butter
  • Tiniest pinch ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 125ml full-fat milk
  • 500g packet bigoli, bucatini, perciatelli or linguine or other long, robust pasta
  • 1 big bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped


  1. Finely chop the onions and garlic. To be honest, I’d do this in the processor every time. It’s not just that it’s easier, but that it makes the onion meld into the sauce so well later.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and cook the very finely chopped onion and garlic over a low heat until you have a soft, golden mush – about 10 minutes. Add the brown sugar (though white is fine too), stir it in and let the onion mixture cook for another minute or so.
  3. Remove the anchovies from the tin, and chop them very finely.  Add them to the onion mush, stirring until they begin to “melt”, then stir in the butter and the pinch of ground cloves, followed by a tablespoonful of water and when all is combined, gradually stir in the milk. When this has come together as a puree, take the pan off the heat.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in abundant salted water according to the packet instructions, removing a ladleful of cooking liquid just before you drain it.
  5. Tip the drained pasta into the anchovy and onion sauce and add the reserved cooking water to help lubricate the pasta. You may not need all of the water, so pour in gradually. Add some oil from the anchovy tin if you need it too. And, of course, if the pan isn’t big enough to take all the pasta, just put it back into the pan it was cooked in and pour the sauce over the top.
  6. Sprinkle over most of the parsley, just roughly chopped, thoroughly turning the pasta in the pan to coat each strand in the anchovy sauce. Remove to a warm bowl, sprinkle over the remaining parsley and take to the table.

Not your Ordinary Pizza

Satay Chicken Pizza

I’ve said it before, I’m not a fan of store bought pizza (except for the ones I got in Naples).

I do however, love making my own at home. I made 3 pizzas the other night. One for each of us. I’m posting my pizza today. The other two I have posted before.

I love pizza with satay sauce, chicken, just a little cheese, red onion and coriander…so very delicious.

The recipe for the dough I have published in a previous post titled Home made Pizza.

You could buy a really good ready made satay sauce or you could make your own. It’s up to you. This is a great recipe for a home made satay sauce that makes a large quantity and you can freeze what you don’t use for later use.

I sliced chicken thigh fillets and onions thinly and quickly fried them until they just began to colour. Then I spooned satay sauce over the pizza base (I put lots) topped with chicken and onions then added just a little cheese and topped with coriander. This only took 10 mins in a really hot oven. I added more coriander to the cooked pizza.

I really do love this pizza!

  • Homemade Satay Sauce
  • 15 shallots or 2 medium spanish onions, chopped
  • 20 dried red chillies, stalks discarded, deseeded, soaked in boiling water until soft and drained
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 cm galangal, chopped
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (pale part only and remove any dry outer layers)
  • 1 – 2 tbs tamarind paste
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 200ml vegetable oil
  • 1 litre water
  • 2 tbs lime juice
  • 500g salted, roasted, crushed peanuts

Homemade Satay Sauce

Using a mini food processor, blitz shallots, garlic, galangal, rehydrated chillies and lemongrass in small batches to achieve a fine paste. Please be patient and don’t be tempted to add water as this will make the paste difficult to caramelise. You can instead use a mortar and pestle but you must add only small amounts of the ingredients at a time, ensuring you have a fine paste before you add more ingredients. Set aside.

Heat oil in a heavy based saucepan or wok till medium heat and pour paste in. Stir fry, continuing to make sure bottom isn’t catching till there is very little steam rising from the sauce and you can definitely see it caramelising and smell it getting fragrant.

Add water and bring to boil. Add tamarind, lime, sugar, only one teaspoon of salt. Add half the amount of peanuts after adding water to the sauce. The other half added just before serving, for crunch.

Bring to boil again, remove from heat and set aside till required. You can make this a couple days ahead of time and keep in a glass jar in the fridge and then re-heat to serve.

Earth Tremors and Beef Skewers

Beef Skewers

Sometimes it’s so cold outside and so warm inside the house that you forget it’s winter. Well, I do anyway. Instead of turning the heating down, I’ve been known to change into a T.Shirt and light cotton pjs and walk around with bare feet.

Yep, bad! bad! bad!

On nights like these, I fire up the indoor grill plate and pretend BBQ just to make me feel like it really is Summer. The other night was just such a night. Our coldest and windiest day so far this Winter. It rained all day and we even experienced a 5.3 Earth Tremor (seriously, my partner and I didn’t feel a thing downstairs but upstairs my daughter’s room shook and she freaked out!).

Bad weather day indeed!

Pre Earth Tremor, we had a lovely dinner of beef skewers with salad and wraps…not much of a recipe required here.

Just know that it helped brighten up everyone’s dead of Winter gloom 🙂

Seafood Pie

Seafood Pie

I haven’t blogged for a while. I’ve cooked a lot but that’s about all the time I’ve had to spare. Mid year exams and reports are over now, so I will have to go through the last two weeks worth of food and start posting again.

One more week of work and a wonderful 2 week break from school begins! I’m so looking forward to this break. Term two is always a killer. It’s getting colder here too, so stews, casseroles, pies and soups are always on the go at my place.

When my daughter isn’t around, I get to indulge in the things I love to eat. She hates seafood! I love it!

Most people associate seafood with summer but I love a seafood pie. Prawns, Scallops and Calamari Rings in a thick white sauce with leeks, parsley and dill covered with a sheet of puff pastry.

I start off by making a bechamel sauce, adding grated nutmeg, salt and a little pepper. Once it has thickened I add the chopped parsley and dill, cover and leave until I am ready to use it.

Then I add butter and garlic oil to a large pan and add the finely sliced leeks and spring onions and saute. Next I add the seafood and saute until the seafood is half done. I tip this into a deep and wide pie dish and pour over the bechamel sauce, mixing everything together. I add a bit more dill over the top and cover the pie dish with puff pastry and brush the top with a mixture of egg and milk.

Place in a very hot preheated oven and wait for the pastry to puff up and turn a gorgeous golden colour. Spoon into wide bowls and enjoy with a glass of your favourite wine…That’s what I did last night and it was wonderful!

Saturday Mayhem

Sausage Rolls

Today I paid the price for having such a great day yesterday!

Yesterday we had been given the day off work to concentrate on writing our mid year reports. I had already completed 3 of my 5 classes and as my partner was home as well I thought I’d skip the report writing and go out and have a leisurely lunch at a great Vietnamese restaurant. I wasn’t going to get much done with both him and my daughter home anyway and as I would have the house to myself on Saturday I thought I was set…I thought…

So…let’s see…my mum was having a plant sale and no one had helped her set up, so out of the house early to help her out (what a good daughter)…then…off to see a house that we were interested in…then I had to look for a Bolero jacket for a wedding I’m going to in 2 weeks (I swear they were everywhere 2 weeks ago and now – NOTHING!)…then food shopping…my favourite thing to do!…BUT…not when some reverses into my car!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Having just just got our other car back yesterday after it had been smashed by the mechanic after a routine service, this was not what I needed…add another wasted hour to my day to check out damage and swap details!

Before the day could get any worse I took myself off to my favourite gourmet international deli/supermarket, where things are wonderful but extremely pricey. Never mind…I had many wonderful food loving moments and everything felt slightly better.

No gourmet dinner tonight but really felt like getting my hands dirty. So, I made sausage rolls. Squishing up the minced beef and pork with herbs, egg and sauces and downing a glass of red wine while doing it was messy but extremely satisfying.

Not an out of this world recipe but wonderful all the same. I’ve said it before…the simple things in life are always the best!

pork mince

beef mince

grated carrot

grated onion

salt & pepper


1 egg

tomato sauce (ketchup)

bbq sauce

worcestershire sauce

puff pastry

Squelch together well with your hands (the best part) and let sit for around 10 mins.

Cut each sheet of puff pastry in half and spread a decent amount of the prepared mixture along each. Roll and cut 3 slits along each roll. Brush with beaten egg or milk and place on baking trays. Bake in a very hot pre heated oven (200 degrees) for around 20 mins.

Cut them up and serve with tomato sauce. My daughter and I just like to eat them like this…nothing else with them…just scrummy sausage rolls!

Birthday Pavlova

Chocolate Pavlova

I have posted before about my love/hate affair with pavlova. Just so you know, we are all good now! I’ve made pavs quite a few times now and they have all been wonderful!

It was my birthday yesterday. Every year my partner asks me what kind of cake I would like for my birthday and I tell him and he hunts it down for me. Last year I had a craving for a Continental Cake – Italian style! It was awesome!

This year I left it really late to decide and my partner was starting to worry that there wouldn’t be cake (not so much worried that I wouldn’t have a cake for my birthday just more concerned that he was going to miss out on cake – he loves cake!)

Living in Australia means that we celebrate The Queen’s birthday and enjoy a long weekend…I’m not really a fan of The Royal Family but I do love a long weekend, so they can stay. The long weekend falls around my birthday and as luck would have it, this year, the public holiday fell on the 11th June (my birthday) so I got a day off work – Yay!

For some reason celebrating The Queen’s birthday made me think of Australia and when I think of Australia, I think Pavlova! It was a frosty morning followed by brilliant sunshine – a perfect Melbourne winters’ day – a perfect day for pavlova!

What I had in mind though was not a traditional ‘pav’, but a chocolate one – with raspberries and a drizzle of chocolate. So, I decided it was going to be chocolate ‘pav’ for my birthday. Not easy to find anywhere!

So, I made one!

Hope you like it!

The recipe for this is exactly the same as my earlier post for pavlova but you add 3 tablespoons sifted cocoa when folding in the vanilla extract and vinegar. I topped the pavlova with cream and raspberries and melted some chocolate and drizzled it over the top.

It was a very Happy Birthday indeed!!!

This is one of my favourite bloggers…love the cookie 🙂


I realized this week that I’ve never featured a basic chocolate chip cookie.  There have been many cookies, usually with other mix-ins like dried cherries, nuts or espresso powder. But a good-old fashioned chocolate chip cookie, nope.

A co-worker approached me earlier in the week. Many years ago, I made a batch of Martha Stewart chocolate chip cookies. They clearly made an impression on Shirley. She asked if I’d make a batch of these cookies for an upcoming vacation. How could I resist? Particularly after being reintroduced to this classic recipe in Martha’s newest cookbook, Martha’s American Food. It’s an especially beautiful cookbook, broken down by regions of the country. The photographs will make your mouth water. The cookies are found in the first section, the All-American collection.

A few notes about the recipe. These are so simple to put together. Even better, there are none of those fancy-hard-to-find…

View original post 285 more words

Choc Chip Cookies

Crunchy Cookies

On Tuesday night, my very handsome man answered a call from his mate. He wanted to drop by for coffee.

I went into meltdown as I hadn’t done ANY shopping and there was nothing to serve up with the coffee. This is where my pantry obsession comes in very handy. There may have not been any store bought stuff to serve up but my pantry was full of all the necessary ingredients to make, basically, whatever I wanted.

Of course this wasn’t the time for extravagance. This was just the right time for the simple but heart warming choc chip cookie. The house was filled with that wonderful baking aroma and the cookies were just about ready to come out of the oven when our guest knocked on the door.

I don’t need to tell you about the satisfaction one feels when a guest is overwhelmed about something as simple as a home baked cookie. Our friend has been in a bad way lately so to see him smile about a simple cookie was both heart warming and heart breaking.

It really is the simple things in life that matter to us most.


  • 150g softened butter
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate bits
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate bits
Preheat oven to 160°C. Line 2 baking trays with non-stick paper. Beat 150g softened butter, 1/2 cup caster sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract for 1-2 minutes or until smooth and well combined. Beat in 1 egg.
Stir in 1 3/4 cups plain flour in two batches. Stir in 1/2 cup dark choc bits and 1/2 cup milk choc bits until evenly distributed. Spoon tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on the lined trays. Press down slightly.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until light golden and cooked. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Home made Pizza

Pizza Heaven at Home

Well I’m back and feeling better! I still have a bad cough but am feeling up to cooking again so that’s a good sign.

A friend of mine posted her home made pizza on my facebook food page last weekend and it reminded me that I hadn’t made pizza at home for a very, very long time. Her pizza was topped with prawns and looked fantastic!

I made 3 pizzas last night…one for each of us as we all like different toppings. I’m not a fan of boxed pizza as they are usually greasy and they just never seem to get the base right for me.

When I was in Naples I went to a local pizza place recommended by a travel guide book and it didn’t disappoint. Just your basic Margarita but had the best pizza base I have ever had in my life. There is a place close to where I live that has come very close to this marvellous pizza base and because the pizzas are awesome it is very difficult to get a booking. It’s a small place run entirely by women and is 2 doors down from an independent theatre showing awesome movies. This is my favourite night out but we have to organise it way in advance to ensure we get a booking for pizza heaven before we see the film.

Did I replicate this pizza dough last night?…No!

But they were really nice pizzas all the same!

Ingredients for Pizza Dough

  • 375ml (1 1/2 cups) warm water
  • 2 tsp (7g/1 sachet) dried yeast
  • Pinch of caster sugar
  • 600g (4 cups) plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil, plus extra for brushing


Combine the water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes or until foamy. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture and oil. Use a round-bladed knife in a cutting motion to mix until the mixture is combined. Use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.

Brush a bowl lightly with oil. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in the prepared bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place to rise for 30 minutes or until dough doubles in size.

Our Toppings

Mine: garlic oil, tomato paste, creme fraiche, gorgonzola, ham, red onion, capers & mozzarella

My Daughter: garlic oil, tomato paste, ham, pineapple and mozzarella

My handsome man: garlic oil, tomato paste, red onion, ham, egg and mozzarella