Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cheesecake Brownies

My sister Hayley's family birthday dinner is tomorrow evening and we're having her favorites. Does this mean decadent roast duck with crisp skin and succulent pink meat? Or maybe, juicy chunks of crystal lobster grilled with garlic butter? Alas, no. We're talking cocktail frankfurts, nuggets, party pies and sausage rolls. Do i care? Hell no! I'm looking forward to it! I was tasked with making one of the desserts, so i decided to trace back to what my sister loved when we were kids, the cakes, slices, trifles and cookies that my mum used to make. Thinking through them, there was one clear stand out: cheesecake brownies.

Whoever thought of cheesecake brownies is clearly a person of high genius: How can one obtain, in a single mouthful, the gooey rich chocolatey goodness of a brownie, with the tangy, creamy soul of cheesecake? Mix them together!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Luke Nguyen's Lemongrass Chilli Chicken - Ga Xao Xa Ot

Luke Nguyen seems to be a bit of a cultural sensation in Australia at the moment. On the back of a SBS television series and co-authoring the cookbook Secrets of the Red Lantern, Luke has also recently appeared twice on the Master Chef series.

I'd always been interested in his recipes when flicking through the beautiful Red Lantern cookbook but it wasn't until he made a chilli crab variant on Master Chef that i started actively hunting down his recipes. Luckily many can be found on the SBS website for his televsion show Luke Nguyen's Vietnam.

This is probably one of the simpler dishes that i have seen from Luke's repertoire to date. Juicy bites of chicken saturated in the pungeant aromas and balanced tastes of fish sauce, sugar, lemon grass, chilli and garlic. Rather than adding chicken stock to make the sauce, Luke used young coconut juice which keeps the dish tasting quite clean: unfortunately i had to use the canned variety of coconut juice.

Please note that i have not stayed completely faithful to the original recipe. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Murg Makhani - Butter Chicken

I used to love Indian cuisine. I still do, but once upon a time it was miles ahead of any other food as my favorite food to eat. But there was one dish i wasn't a fan of: butter chicken. It was the dish for fussy people, chunks of chicken in what tasted like spiced tomato soup (in fact, some recipes call for tomato soup as the core ingredient). Since then, i have found places that do a good butter chicken. Though it's still not my favorite curry, the recipe below is delicious!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pastel De Tres Leches

This Friday my workplace is holding a 'Mexican Fiesta' themed cocktail drinks, complete with mariachi band, which i have the dubious honor of organizing. Despite my protests for authenticity, the evening will be catered for with nachos and mini burritos. However i did my own research, and came across, for the umpteenth time, the recipe for tres leches or 3 milk cake.

Let me say, this cake is amazing! The three milks involved are evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and regular whole milk- with a good bit of cream for measure. This is not a cake for: a) people with heart conditions b) people who are lactose intolerant c) people who do not care much for sweets! It is rich, heavy, and utterly delicious.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lamb Harira

So I am on to my fourth weekly soup recipe, and this time i thought i'd try something with a bit more Eastern influence: Harira. A Moroccan soup of complex flavours, it is the soup traditionally used to break the Muslim Ramadan fast. The version i've cooked below is lamb harira however you can omit the lamb and make an equally delicious vegetarian dish.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Chicken & Pearl Barley Soup

Sometimes, when the dreary weather sets in, you want some good old chicken soup like mama used to make. Or something like that. This soup is full of healthy veges and barley, served up in a warming chicken broth with chunks of tender chicken. Yum! Soul food.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Whenever my dad eats a meal, it's a running joke in the family that the quality of the food is judged by the amount of times in a row he says 'yum'. Well this dish got a 'yummo, yummo, yummo' so i'm happy to say it turned out pretty good!

Moussaka is a Greek dish, essentially an eggplant and lamb lasagne without the pasta. It's a very warming and comforting food, perfect for a rainy Autumn evening.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Crepe Suzette

Every Monday night my immediate family (and partners) comes together for dinner. In the past my mum almost always cooked, but now that i'm living at home i'm trying to take over the reins! Well, as much as i can. Tonight i made dessert, and decided to go with an old classic: crepe suzette.

Crepe suzette is really a very simple dish; it is simply crepes with a rich orange caramel sauce. However it is delicious, and you're likely to have most of the ingredients sitting around your house. For this recipe i actually made 21 crepes, enough for 7 people. Cut the entire recipe in half if cooking for a smaller group.

Ingredients (Serves 7)


  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 900ml milk
  • 8 eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 60gm butter

Orange Sauce

  • Juice and zest of 8 large oranges
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 80gm butter



Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl.

Add the eggs and slowly whisk in the milk until the consistency of thick cream is achieved; you may not need all the milk.
Melt the butter until bubbling and whisk through the flour mixture with salt until well combined.

Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat and lightly spray with cooking oil.
Add one ladle of the mixture to the pan and turn the pan so that a large, thin circle of batter covers the base of the pan.

Cook until the edges of the crepe begin to turn up, and then flip. If the crepe is not golden on the flipped side, up the heat.

Cook on the other side briefly for 30 seconds or so then transfer to a plate.
Fold the crepe into quarters.

Repeat for remaining batter, lightly spraying pan with cooking oil each time.


Heat a large frying pan to medium heat and add sugar.

Stir sugar until dissolved and caramelized.

Add the orange juice carefully and continue to simmer, stirring until the orange and caramel are combined.
Add the butter and stir through until melted.

Add the crepes to the pan, ensuring each is coated in the sauce.

Drizzle 1/2 cup brandy and 1/2 cup grand marnier over the crepes and carefully light with a match to flambe.
Don't worry if you can't get the crepes to light, i didn't! The other option is to keep the alcohol in a ladle and light the ladle, pouring the flaming liquid over the crepes.
Serve the crepes covered in sauce and with a scoop of icecream.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Smoked Ham & Chestnut Soup

For soup recipe number 3, i decided to revisit (and change up) a recipe i made a few years ago, for chestnut soup. This version is similar in it's creation to split pea and ham soup, however the nutty sweetness of the chestnuts really brings this soup into a completely different dimension. The combination of smokey ham and sweet chestnuts is a great match, and creates a complex flavor base, and a great starter for a winter dinner party. For me, it's lunch! 

A note on chestnuts: i don't think i took the easiest route in shelling them. It took, literally, hours to shell 1kg of chestnuts, and would have been longer without the help of a reluctant assistant (thanks mum!). So don't take the way that i shell them as gospel.


  • 1 kg fresh chestnuts or 500gm chestnut puree
  • 1 smoked ham hock (approx 400gm)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1/2 head celery
  • 2 cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Shell the chestnuts by cutting a slit into them and peeling off the shell.

Place the chestnuts in a medium saucepan and just cover with water.
Bring the water to the boil and cook until chestnuts are tender throughout
Leave the chestnuts to cook until you are able to handle them, and remove the fibrous outside.

Place the chestnuts in a blender and puree with enough water to create a thick paste.

Coarsely chop all of the vegetables.
In a large stockpot, add the pasley, celery, tomato, cloves, carrots and the ham hock.
Barely cover with water and bring to the boil.

Reduce to a bare simmer and let cook for 2 hours.
Remove the ham hock and when cool enough, flake the meat from the bone, discarding the skin and set aside meat.

Drain the stock from the vegetables, keeping both.
Add some of the vegetables to bulk out the soup and about 1.5 litres of stock.
Puree until smooth.
Mix through the shredded ham, saving some for garnish.
Serve the soup hot, with ham garnish and cracked pepper.


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