Saturday, December 31, 2011

Boeuf Bourguignon Pies

And so it's the end of 2011, and the time where we look back on the year that was, and set high expectations on the year ahead. My year in brief:
  • I finally purchased my first home, and am slowly becoming accustomed to the responsibilities that come with that
  • I became an uncle to the most gorgeous little girl in the world, Princess Aurora
  • I went to Singapore and Borneo, got to put up my feet and relax, and see some dear friends that i miss all the time
  • I felt recognized for my work (my day job) and felt like I'm finally making a difference in my workplace
  • I got to meet the Iron Chefs! And better still, so did my dad. 
There was sadness and disappointment in 2011, as there is every year. But i choose not to dwell on these things, and i look forward to another year of new horizons. I hope everyone who reads this can also see some good that has come out of the past 12 months, and if they cannot, let me know i can help make 2012 a year you'll look back on with a smile.

As to 2012 for me, who knows? I want to achieve many things, and i think that these should be the subject of another recipe, and another post.

For now: Happy New Year, and below is the recipe i made for pot luck NYE dinner.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dry Beef Hor Fun

Ahh Singapore, how you now seem like a distant memory. Realizing I'm meant to go back to work tomorrow, this is the first time since high school that I've just feel like doing ANYTHING but going back to work. And so i look fondly upon just a few months ago, relaxing in Borneo and living it up in Singapore. 

So i know that hor fun seems to traditionally be served as a wet noodle dish; in fact I've seen variations of a thickened sauce that is pale in colour, but I've also seen variations that have a literal, runny, transparent broth with them! However, this version, which is a bit harder to find, is my favorite: dry beef hor fun! This version here is not quite as good as what i had over in Singapore, which was my favorite meal for the entire trip! But it seems to be hard to find recipes for this dry style on the Internet. Never mind, it's still delicious!

Stay tuned for one last post for 2011 (maybe 2... I'm hungry!) and I'll see you all again next year before the Mayan gods come get us.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Eggnog Cheesecake with Praline

Merry Christmas world!

My favorite Christmas memories:
  • When i was young, we did not have Christmas stockings, but rather, Christmas SACKS! Running to the living room and rifling through a great hulking sack of presents from Santa was the best feeling in the Universe to a kid.
  • Every year, Christmas lunch would be different. One of my favorite memories was playing Celebrity Heads, and the random hints my grandfather would give. For example, 'the block' was his hint for Barbie. How? Well, the 'block' referred to a block of land my Aunt and Uncle own. It has a fence. That fence has barbed wire. Barbed... Barbie.. get it? O_o
  • Christmas with my strange Uncle the accordion player. Him cracking it out and belting some tunes, and always bringing the most random Christmas presents. Giant fly swats? Transformer bugs? That's only the beginning!
  • The night before Christmas. Perhaps the thing i miss most now that all of the kids have flown the coop. But sitting together, excited, filled with trepidation, as we watch Christmas movies and listen out for Santa.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Apple Muffins with Maple Glaze & a Word on Christmas Birthdays

So, I've probably mentioned this several hundred times already over the course of this blog, but Christmas season is an especially busy season in my family. It begins with my birthday in early December, and ramps up quickly to my Father's birthday on Christmas eve and my sister's birthday on Christmas day. And let's face it, when your born so close to to the biggest Australian holiday of the year, you can tend to feel a lil bit forgotten. So before we get on to our Christmas feasting, let me take a couple of paragraphs to indulge in discussing two members of my family.

My father, Peter, shares as great a passion for food as i do, and recently he's taking more and more leaps in the kitchen and churning out dishes that are absolutely fantastic. His tangy pork curry is the most delicious curry I've ever tasted, bar none. I won't divulge his secret recipe here... yet! In some ways dad is the realist of the family, and we've always made jokes about his notorious thrift. But lets face it, together my parents brought up three kids, all of whom are successful! And when i look back at the mounds of presents i got every year on every occasion, the food we ate, the houses we lived in, i realise that the only thrift my dad ever really showed was personal sacrifices he made for the sake of his children. Thanks Dad!

My sister, Melinda, is the eldest of three siblings, and has blazed the path for my second sister and myself. First to move out of home! First to get married! First to have a baby! And she's done it all so easily, as though it were no trouble at all. With strong convictions, and a flair for some unusual inventions (orange lemon cordial anyone?) my sister is also a great cook; my favorite is her Asian style pork neck (ooh and cold chicken with chili sauce). But she's also a great mum, a great hostess, a great nurse, and has that rare gift of actually listening to you when you need someone there.

So, here's to two members of my family, who although their birthdays may get caught up in the Christmas storm, are never forgotten in my mind or heart.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Grilled Chilli Chicken on Mango Salad and Coconut Rice

Happy holidays everyone! Christmas is only three days away, which means i have to get my fill of non-christmassy foods on my own before I'm drowning in pork, turkey and that general sense of lethargy that a full tummy brings! So here i present: Grilled chilli chicken on mango salad and coconut rice! A winning combination of sweetness, creaminess and spice.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ben & Jerry's Style Strawberry Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's is slowly making an inception across Australia! I noticed the other day that it's now stocked at Caltex service stations, and also at the deli down the road from me!

As the rest of Australia falls in love with the creamy confectionery, i have my own secret weapon - home made ice cream! The reason i say my recipes at Ben & Jerry's style are the way the custards are made. Traditionally, an ice cream custard is make by bringing up egg yolks to a certain temperature and then mixing in the egg whites. With this style, not so! It's much easier. There is no preheating involved in this style of ice cream, and I'm yet to experience any shortfalls in taste or texture as a result.

This particular ice-cream celebrates the deliciousness of summer strawberries, sweet and slightly tart, cutting through the rich creaminess of the ice cream. 

Grilled Vegetable and Haloumi Salad

Summertime, and i can feel a theme coming on! With long work hours, late sunlight, and back to cooking for one, salads are becoming an imperative this summer season! To me, a good salad is about fresh ingredients, with one highlight yummy addition. That addition might be cheese, it might be bread, it might be meat. It doesn't matter, but it's the drawcard of the dish to me! In this instance it's haloumi.

For the first few times i tried to make grilled haloumi i was so disappointed. Gone was the melty, salty goodness i'd experienced at Greek restaurants, and in it's place was a squeaky (yes squeaky!!) rubbery mass. The key is in long cooking; really cook your haloumi until it's starting to lose it's shape. If it's still a nice brick, she ain't ready yet!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Blackberry Frozen Yoghurt

Summer lovin' is all about getting reacquainted with my icecream machine! But hey, we're (trying to be) on a health kick here so lets bring on the frozen yoghurt! I was really happy to find how well this recipe worked out- it was so creamy and delicious it really wiped the floor of those supermarket frozen yoghurts. My guess is that it comes down to ingredients - using good quality yoghurt as the base is a must!

Grilled Duck Salad with Goats Cheese & Cranberries

I'm back! I've finally gotten used to my new kitchen (namely: not burning things) and now it's time for summer fun! First up is a salad that is sure to impress. Duck works so well in a salad as the slightly fatty meat contrasts so well with the tartness of a dressing, the pepperiness of greens, and the rich saltiness of the goats cheese. Don't be phased by cooking duck; by following some simple rules it's very easy to cook. The name of the game is to render out the fat without making the meat tough: your best weapon here is a stove and oven.


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