Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lemon & Pepper Chicken Burger with Garlic Mayonnaise

Well, it is May already, hasn't the year gone fast?  I decide that I should work on a special theme each month to cook something that I always want to make or something I have never done before.  In that case, I can challenge myself as well as extending my knowledge of cooking skills.  My theme for May is "Chicken." Chicken is so versatile that it can be stewed, baked, poached, steamed, smoked, grilled, crumbled, stir-fried as well as currying, make into meatballs and patties, roasting whole or being chopped and cooked into pasta or baked in pieces into crusty pie.  This chicken burger is a low sodium recipe as lemon and pepper with garlic are enough to bring the favour for this meal.  Add some bacon if you wish.  I have never made mayonnaise before (because of the fat content I'm worrying about) and I think it's worth the effort to do it if you are having it moderately.  It tastes much better than the bottle one sell in the store.

How about my sweet dessert and cake?  It is too dangerous to talk about chocolate, caramel, cream, butter and sugar for a month, I will post some of them in between when I find some good recipes.

Lemon & Pepper Chicken Burger with Garlic Mayonnaise
(serve 4)

250g chicken mince
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 piece of stale bread
1 teaspoon lemon rind, grated
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon sour cream
4 burger buns
rocker leaves

Garlic Mayonnaise:
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon garlic mince
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
extra cracked black pepper


  1. Place the chicken in a mixing bowl, add the onion, lemon rind, pepper and sour cream.  Soak the bread with some water and chop into pieces, add into the chicken mince and mix until thoroughly combined.  You can add a bit of salt to the mince if you want.  Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions.
  2. Heat oil in pan, pan fry the patties on both sides until cooked.  Serve the patties with buttered buns with rocket leaves and mayonnaise and extra pepper. 
  3. To make the mayonnaise,  place the egg yolk, garlic, mustard, lemon juice and 1/2 of the oil in a food processor bowl.  Gradually add a bit more oil to the mixture until it reaches a thick consistency, season with sugar and salt.  If you don't eat raw egg, cook the sauce on top of a double saucepan over simmering water.  Do not allow water to touch base of bowl or top saucepan, whisk mixture constantly until it is warm enough, add more water if it becomes too thick.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Pizza with Brocconcini, Chorizo and Rocket

There is a new gourmet pizza take away opened in our town a while ago. Unlike the others, it has load of toppings and some of them are quite interesting such as pizza dressed with hollandaise sauce, pizza topped with pear, blue cheese and walnut.  I love their roasted capsicum, it makes such a different compared to the others.  The image of pizza being cheap take away has started to change and the others are following to have new menu with more gourmet ingredients to compete with the market.  Bocconcini has been a popular cheese, it has been used in TV cooking show and cooking magazines.  It is a fresh soft cheese of the Mozzarella family with 15.2g of fat and 280mg of sodium per 100g which is less than some of the other cheese.  No wonder it becomes popular!  On a lazy weekend,  why not make some pizza and get the kids to help you putting whatever toppings they like?

Pizza with Brocconini, Chorizo and Rocket 

For the pizza dough:
220g high protein plain flour, sieved
1 teaspoon dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
160ml warm water or a little more
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the toppings:
pizza sauce (I use BBQ flavour)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
3 brocconcini, thickly sliced
1 chorizo, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
garlic minced
roasted capsicum
black olive, pitted
shredded mozzarella cheese
rocket leaves

  1. Place flour and salt into a mixing bowl.  Dissolve yeast in a little lukewarm water than stir in remaining water.
  2. Make a the centre of the flour, place liquid into well and stir to form dough.  Remove dough from bowl and knead by hand for about 5 minutes.
  3. Place dough in a clean bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place (oven is a good place) until doubled in size.
  4. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface.  Make pizza according to your liking of thickness.  I make 1 large and 1 small thin pan pizzas.
  5. For the toppings: grease the pizza pan, spread the pizza sauce over the base.  Arrange the pizza with cheese, chorizo, onion, tomato, olive, capsicum, garlic then sprinkle with some mozzarella.  cheese and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake in a 180c oven for about 20-25 minutes.  Top with rocket leaves before serving.
Note:  As I don't have the baker's hand in kneading dough, I put all the ingredients into the bread maker starting from the liquid ingredient to dry ingredient and putting the yeast last.  (no need to dissolve in water)  After it is kneaded and rest, I then roll out the dough to make pizza base.

Cupcakes with Dots & Bows

I wanted to try cake decoration using sugar pastry a long time ago.  Then I find this beautiful book written by Peggy Porschen, "Cake Chic" featuring step-by-step guides to decorate gorgeous mini cakes, cup cakes to stunning multi-tiered cakes.  I decide to start on small cake with half of the recipes so that I won't feel so bad if it doesn't turn out alright.  I use ready-rolled icing instead of liquid fondant and with my fingers crossed, the cakes look good, taste good.  Of course, there is still things to improve on, and I will keep trying....

These little cakes are ideal for weddings, baby showers or birthday.

Cupcakes with Dots & Bows
(make 5)

For the cake:
100g salted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
2 medium eggs, beaten
100g self-raising flour
finely grated zest of 1 lemon

For lemon syrup:
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
25g sugar
1/3 tablespoon Limoncello liqeuer (I didn't put in as I hadn't got it)

For the icing:
100g ready-rolled white icing
50g ready-rolled white icing mix with a little pink colouring
silver balls


  1. Preheat oven to 180c.
  2. Place the butter, sugar and lemon zest in an electric mixer and beat until pale and fluffy.  Add one egg at a time until the mixture is well combined and finally add in the sifted flour.
  3. Fill the paper cases about two-thirds full with a spoon.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cake is cooked.  Cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Prick the top of the cake with a toothpick, using a pastry brush, soak it with the syrup.  Cool cake on wire rack.
  5. For lemon syrup: place the juice and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Remove from the heat and allow it to cool.  Once cool, stir in the liqueur and the flavour will develop overnight.
  6. Roll the white icing onto the baking paper, sprinkle some cornflour over the rolling pin and roll out the icing until 2mm thick and cut it into 10 strips about 1.5cm wide and 10cm long.  (I divide the icing into 2x50g and roll it in two lots)  Cover any unused icing to prevent drying.
  7. Take one strip at a time, pinch it together in the middle and at both ends.  Roll out some more paste to the same thickness as before and cut it into 5 strips each 1cm wide and 3cm long.  Wrap one strip around the centre of each bow. 
  8. For the bow tails, pinch one strip in the centre, then fold the tails over so that they are forming a V-shape and cut the ends off the strips at an angel.  Place the bows and tails together.
  9. Roll the pink icing as 6, use a round cuter that about the same size as the cup cake to cut 3 rounds. Re-roll the left-over white icing and make 2 more rounds as the pink one.
  10. Place the pink icing on top of the cake, while the icing is still soft, stick on the bows and decorate with silver balls.  Use the left-over icing and roll into tiny balls for the dots. 

roll out icing
bows and tails
cake with syrup
finishing product

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Home Crumbed Fish & Chips

We had visitors recently and we took them to the fish market.  We enjoyed a day out with some fresh local seafood.  Yesterday,  I found these flatheads in my freezer that I had to get rid of.  So, I thought why not make some fish & chips!  With the kids cheering "fish & chips" at the back,  I managed to fillet 5 whole fish by myself.  My fingers were a bit sore afterward but the home crumbed fish definitely tasted much better than the pre-packaged one from the supermarket.  Then my daughter started the conversation with her brother telling him the story about her friend who went to New Zealand; she particularly go the fish & chips store because she wanted to say "fush en chups" in an New Zealand accent.......and my kids sat at the dinner table talk and talk for over an hour even the fish & chips were gone a long time ago.

Home Crumbled Fish & Chips
(serve 4)

4-5 pieces of fish fillets
1 cup breadcrumb
1 tablespoon garlic and herb salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup plain flour
10 small washed baby potato
salt and pepper


  1. Marinate the fish with salt and pepper for about 30 minutes.
  2. Wash the potato, do not need to peel the skin.  Cut into thin strips and place onto the paper lined baking tray.  Drizzle some oil, salt and pepper then toss through the chips.  Bake in moderate oven for about 30 minutes or until it is cooked.  Toss through the chip a few times in between.  
  3. Mix the garlic and herb salt to the breadcrumb.  Coat the fish with flour then egg and breadcrumb.
  4. Heat enough oil in the frypan, pan fry the fish until crispy and cook.  Turn the heat down if it gets to hot to avoid burning.  Drain excess oil with kitchen paper.
  5. Serve the fish with chips and your favourite sauce.
Here are the photos of what we have at the fish market....

Saturday, April 23, 2011

ANZAC Biscuits

This year's ANZAC Day falls in with Easter Monday so we are having 5 days off from Easter Friday to Tuesday.  Many people have taken the opportunity to go for holidays and the weather is beautiful from where I live.  The beachside is crowded with visitors and they are enjoying our sunny and clean beaches.  ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Crops) Day is a national holiday, I usually sleep in and let the fighter jet wakes me up when it flies over my roof or I will take the kids to the ANZAC March, march with the school team early in the morning.  School kids would wear their grandparents badges, proudly waving the Aussie flags and march along the street with the war veterans and people from the local communities.  We'll ended the ceremony at the memorial park after the speeches from army officers, retired soldiers, councillor and students to show our respect for those who serve our country.  Lest not forget.  Then we'll enjoy the rest of day with some ANZAC biscuits.  During WWI,  housewives and mothers made these biscuits and sent to the soldiers in the trenches to show their support and love.  It is my favourite biscuit.    

ANZAC Biscuits

125g butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup almond kenels, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup sultanas (optional)


  1. Melt butter and golden syrup is a saucepan over low heat.  Add the bicarbonate soda mixed with boiling water into the butter sauce.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Pour the melted mixture into the centre and mix to a moist but firm consistency.  Divide the mixture into two lots.  One lot mix with almonds and the other lot mix with sultanas.
  3. Drop teaspoon full of mixture onto a paper lined baking tray.  Bake in slow oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool a few minute on baking tray before removing to a wire cooling tray. 

Chicken and Vegetable Lasagne with Warm Potato Salad

It's mid-autumn already!  I guess everyone would love to have something nice and warm for dinner.  For those people who have not made lasagne, you may wonder if you need to cook the pasta before hand.  I was one of those people until my friend, Pam taught me how to make this yummy dish.  There's still a lot of work whether you make it from fresh or instant sheet.  I prefer to use instant one before it has a long shelf life but it takes longer to cook.  Pam's original recipe uses beef only and I have changed it to chicken and adding more vegetable to fool my kids.  The kids love the cheese sauce and I make it with plain flour which takes a while to prepare. You can use cornflour instead but the texture is a bit different.  Although it's hard work to make lasagne, you always have easy meal the next day with the left over or it is a rather easy meal to serve up to 12 people at once.
Chicken and Vegetable Lasagne with Warm Potato Salad
(make 12)

6 sheets of Instant Lasagne
550g chicken mince
700g pasta cooking sauce
1 can of 400g diced tomato
5 tablespoons tomato paste
2 carrot, peeled and diced
1 onion, chopped finely
1 zucchini, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 red capsicum, finely chopped
4-5 button mushroom, finely chopped
5-6 brocoli florets, chopped
1/2 cup corn kernel
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1/4 teaspoon of basil
1/4 teaspoon of oregano
3 teaspoons salt

For the Cheese Sauce:
50g butter
1 1/2 cup plain flour
6 cups milk
1 cup shredded cheese
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 teaspoon salt
extra shredded cheese
extra nutmeg

Warm Potato Salad:
(serve 4 only)

6 small washed potatoes, cut into half or quarters
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
Rocket leaves
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon of mixed nuts (pine nuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
pinch of salt


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan, cook chicken till it is nearly cook, break up the big lumps of mince.  Add in garlic and onion, stir for a while than add in the rest of the vegetable and keep stirring until the vegetable starts to soften.
  2. Pour in the pasta sauce, tined tomato, add tomato pasta, herbs, white wine and let it simmers for 20 minutes until the sauce thicken.  Season with salt and pepper.  The sauce should be quite thick but not dry, simmer for longer if needed.
  3. While the meat sauce is cooking, prepare the cheese sauce in a medium saucepan.  Heat butter in pan, add in flour into 2 lots.  Then add in a little bit of milk several time to form a rather smooth paste.  Try to remove lumps if possible.  Add in the rest of the milk, nutmeg, cheese and let it simmer until the sauce becomes heavy and thick.  Season with salt and pepper.  The sauce should thicken more once it is cooled down.  If you drop some of the sauce onto the surface with a spoon and it sits there, the sauce is thick enough.  If not, you have to add more flour to thicken the sauce.  A quick fix is to add some cornflour mix with a little water to thicken it at the stove.
  4. Spread 1/3 of the meat sauce onto the baking tray, then place the lasagne sheets over the meat sauce.  Break the sheet into pieces to fill in any gaps.  The first layer is done.
  5. For the second layer, spread another 1/3 of the meat sauce over the pan, then spread 1/2 of the cheese sauce over the meat sauce and cover it with another lasagne sheets.  This finishes the second layer.
  6. For the last layer, spread the remaining meat sauce over the pan, then spread the rest of the white sauce over.  Sprinkle some shredded cheese and more nutmeg over the top.
  7. Bake in a 180c preheat oven for about an hour.  To test if the lasagne is done, inset a knife through the pasta, if the knife gets through easily then the pasta is cooked.   
  8. Let the lasagne cool for a while before serving, a hot lasagne is very meshy.  Let it cool completely before putting into the fridge or freeze.  A day old lasagne tastes better than the fresh one as the flavour develops.
  9. For the salad, place the potato onto a grease lined baking tray.  Toss through with olive oil, salt and paprika.  Bake in a 180c oven for 30 minutes or until the potato is cooked.  Mix the nuts, mustard, oil and salt with the rocket leaves.  Toss through with warm potato and serve it with the lasagne.
Note: If you are using cornflour instead of plain flour, mixing some water to make a paste with a cup of cornflour then stir it into the warm milk. Keep stirring and let it simmer but not boil until it feels heavy and becomes thick.  Add more cornflour mix if needed.
first layer
                                                         second layer
                                                            top layer
                                           hot lasagne straight from the oven

Friday, April 22, 2011

White Chocolate Easter Mud Cake

Apart from Easter Bunny and chocolate eggs, I always enjoy the celebration of Easter.  Every year kids school follows the christian tradition making pan cake for Lent, 40 days before Easter, to begin the annual commemoration of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.  They have mass on Ash Wednesday, the Father would made a cross onto everyone's forehand with ash and the church puts up a large cross laid with purple cloth to represent Jesus, the Royal King.  We brought palm leaves for assembly for Palm Sunday to mark Jesus entered Jerusalem and have another mass for Easter Friday before the school breaks.  The bigger kids would visit their buddies from lower grade and give them some Easter eggs for presents.  At home, kids will have Easter Bunny visiting them on Saturday night and they will find some eggs in their basket on Sunday morning.   So, a white mud cake would be a good idea to celebration this festival, don't you think?  Happy Easter!

White Chocolate Easter Mud Cake

180g white cooking chocolate, break into pieces
300g butter, chopped
2 1/4 cups caster chopped (cut down to 2 cups if you don't want it too sweet)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/3 cup plain flour
1 1/3 cup self-raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, beaten

white chocolate ganache
1/2 cup cream
360g white chocolate, break into pieces

100g dark cooking chocolate
a block of milk cooking chocolate
Easter eggs
hundred thousands


  1. Preheat oven to 160c/140c fan forced.  Line a deep 22cm round cake pan with baking paper.
  2. Stir chocolate, butter, sugar and milk in a large saucepan over low heat until smooth, let cool for 15 minutes.
  3. Sift flour into a mixing bowl, make a well in the middle, whisk in 1/3 of the egg and 1/3 of the chocolate mixture.  Then repeat the process for the rest of the egg and chocolate mixture and add in vanilla essence.  Remove any lumps if possible.
  4. Pour mixture into pan and bake for 2 hours.  Turn the cake onto the cake rake after 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, make white chocolate ganache.  Bring cream to the boil in a small saucepan, remove from heat; add chocolate and stir until smooth.  Refrigerate and stir occasionally until spreadable. It takes about 30 minutes.
  6. When the cake is completely cooled, cut the top bit with a sharp knife to get a flat top.  Spread the ganache around the side and top of the cake.
  7. For decoration, melt dark chocolate in a microwave safe bowl on medium heat for 40 seconds, repeat the process until the chocolate melted.  Spread the chocolate onto a piece of baking paper.  Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, then use a small round cutter to cut a few chocolate rounds.  Decorate the rounds on the edge of the cake.  You may have to put the chocolate into the fridge to harden again.
  8. Use a vegetable peeler, peel the block of milk chocolate from the short edge.  Curl the chocolate strips into rounds and decorate on top of the cake.  Place the Easter eggs inside of the chocolate ring and decorate it with some little chicken.
Note:  This cake is very heavy as it is made with such an amount of butter, sugar and chocolate.  Only a small serve will satisfy your sweet tooth.  It will turn hard if you keep it in the fridge, leave it out at room temperature for about 15 minutes or wait till the cake is soft enough to serve.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Eating the way to be environmental friendly and I have reached 50 posts

The TV was on and I got capture by the talk show talking about vegan diet and a trendy fast food outlet using meats from outdoor raised farm animal in America.  In the show, a professor commented that it would be possible to have outdoor raised farm animal to supply human consumption if we consume less but better quality of meat.  I have heard of hens have been kept in the barn listening to Mozart's music to help them lay tasty egg, and farmers gives the pigs massage for tender meat in Japan.   It had discussed in Australia that consuming less red meat would help the o-zone layer as cows and lambs generate gas.  I could never be a strict vegetarian but I would be happy to know that the animals come from my dinner have been treated nicely with good health and I only consume sufficient amount for my wellbeing.  Isn't chicken used to be kept in the barn and run freely in the old days?  Isn't grass the natural food that cow eats?

One day, I was discussing with the kids about what sort of life their generation would be.  In my last generation, my grandparents could only provide simple life for my parents with sufficient amount of food to eat.  In my generation, my parents provide me with not only enough food but good quality of education.  However, we also create a lot of problems with the mass production and industrialisation.  Our health and natural environment have been threatened.  So in their new generation, it is not going to be more fancy product, people should go back to the basis and think "green".  It is great to see the supermarket stocking more organic, free range and hormone free products.  Some of the prices are quite competitive that does not only providing us with more choices but with better quality of food.  (or we are going back to the basis where food should be)

I have started a little vegetable patch growing vegetables and herbs.  I could never dream of growing my veggies as I was growing up from the city.  Thanks to the rain and warm weather, the seeds sprout quickly and it is such a reward looking them grow from little green shoots, to bigger leaves, then having flower and fruit.  I would like to praise for the food that I have are wholesome and kind.  Thanks for the technology, I can drop down my journey of cooking and it has reached 50 posts already.       

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Baking Tips for Scones, Muffins, Cakes, Biscuits and Puddings

Over the years I have been living in Australia, Australian's Women's Weekly has been my guide providing useful information in recipes and cooking techniques.  I have found some useful information from one if its cookbook, "Mix" featuring classic to modern recipes in cakes, muffins, biscuits and puddings.  As I don't have baking recipes hand-down from grandmother as such, I have so much failure in baking that nearly put me off from baking.  It's only the sweet tooth keeps me to learn and search for better recipes and cooking technique.  I am not the best cook but I enjoy cooking as I believe food can bring people together.  If I find more useful information in the future, I will add more into this page.  If you know your oven, there will be more success, too.  Happy Baking!

Baking Tips

Scones - scones need a light touch, a cool kitchen and cold hands.  The quicker mixing the liquid into the dry ingredients, the lighter the scones.  When the recipes says using a knife to "cut" the liquid through the dry ingredients means don't stir.  Use the knife quickly and lightly draw the knife through the flour, so the dry ingredients are moistened as lightly as possible to prevent overworking which causes tough scones.

For soft scones, bake in a cake pan and for crunchy scones, use an oven tray.  It is cooked if it sounds hollow when tapped firmly on the top with fingers

Muffins and Friands - muffins become stodgy if the mixture is over mixed because it uses less oil.  For light muffins, barely mix the liquid into the dry ingredients and take no notice of the lumps.  Friands are made by egg white and almond meal, it is simple to make but it is best to be eaten on the day they're made.  To test if it is cooked, press lightly on to the top and if it feels springy, it is ready.

Cakes - cake should be mixed with electric beaters starting from low speed then increase to medium when the mixture is combined.  To test the cake is cooked, inset a skewer into the cake.  If it comes out clean, the cake is ready.  Generally, I always beat butter and sugar first till light and fluffy, then add in eggs and followed by the rest of dry ingredients.  Some cake recipes use melted butter and beat everything together such as cake using cooking chocolate.  For featherlight cakes such as sponge cake and chiffon cake, you need to separate eggs and beat the egg yolks and egg whites in different lots.  To remove bubbles from the cake mixture, gently tap the cake pan onto the bench.

Biscuits and Slices- if the mixture is not over beaten, biscuits should have the right shape and texture.  The longer the biscuits in the oven, the crunchy they are.  To test if a biscuit is cooked, push it gently with your finger, it is ready if it moves without breaking while it is still on the oven tray.  Biscuits will harden once they are cooled down.  Always cool slices in the pan before cutting into shapes.

Puddings - puddings can be boiled, steamed or baked, some come with self-saucing, some serve with separate sauce and some serve cold.

  1. Boiled puddings are made with ingredients that take a long time to cook and it would not turn out well if the water ceases to boil.  Drop the pudding into boiling water if it is in a cloth or place boiling water 1/2 filled the saucepan if it is in a basin.  Keep a supply of boiling water to replace any water that has evaporated and do not lift the lid often.
  2. Steamed puddings are for light spongy puddings.  Puddings should be covered by lids or baking paper.  Water must be kept gently boiling all the time and half way up the side of the basin.  Do not remove the lid any more than necessary.  Otherwise, the pudding may turn heavy and uncooked.
  3. Baked pudding are milk puddings require slow and gentle cooking.  It is important to keep the oven at the right temperature.  Some puddings require to stand the dish in a large roasting tin of water.

Note: Further information on puddings are gathered from The CWA (Country Women's Association) Cookbook, 70 Years in the Kitchen

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Coffee Cream Caramel

I haven't made cream caramel for a long time, probably a few years.  It is not hard to make, there is just a lot of washing up to do afterward.  When my kids asks me what I am cooking, I says cream caramel, and they both cheers.  Coffee Cream Caramel is my favourite, I actually much prefer it than Cream Brulee.  The custard is so so smooth......yum!  If you have the time and get a helper to do the dishes for you, why not make some Cream Caramel for dessert?

Coffee Cream Caramel
(make 8)


1 cup sugar
1 cup water

6 eggs
1/4 cup castor sugar
1 3/4 cup milk
300 ml lite thickened cream
1 teaspoon coffee powder
2 tablespoon hot water
1 tablespoon Kahlua


  1. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, stir until sugar is dissolved and bring to the boil.  Boil rapidly without stirring for 5 minutes or until mixture starts to turn brown.  (If over cook, you could burn the sugar)  Pour the caramel into 8 ramekins to coat the base evenly.
  2. Lightly whisk eggs, sugar together in bowl.  Combine coffee powder with hot water and coffee liqueur then add into the egg mixture.
  3. Combine milk and cream in a saucepan, bring to the boil.  Leave the heat and gradually whisk into egg mixture.  Pour custard through a fine strainer over the caramel to remove any tiny specks of eggs.  Pour the custard into the ramekins.
  4. Place the ramekins in baking dish with boiling water to come 1/2 way of the dish.  Bake in moderately slow oven for about 40 minutes or until the custard is set.
  5. Remove from water, let it cool to room temperature before refrigerating overnight.  Turn onto serving plate when ready to eat.  We have it straight after when the caramel is cool, can't wait till the next day.     
Note: This recipe is adopted and modified from the cookbook "French Cooking Made Easy" published by the Australian Women's Weekly.

Hong Kong Style Baked Pork Chops and Rice

My post of Baked Portuguese Chicken and Rice has become a popular post.  So I think you may like to read another popular dish from Hong Kong's cafe that also has the western influence, the Baked Pork Chops and Rice.  This dish takes me back to the memory of my senior high school day in Hong Kong.  We had extended lessons 2 or 3 days a week in the afternoon to prepare for the open senior test.  My lunch money was enough to order a set lunch that included soup of the day, a hot meal and a drink.  I loved the company having lunch with my friends.  We talked about the movies stars, study, fashion, lots of giggles....and the Baked Pork Chops and Rice was my favourite dish.  I like the crusty rice at the side and the combination of the egg, cheese mixed with the tomato sauce is so tasty.  I have added more vegetable into the dish and I find the closest taste that link to my memory is to use a tin of tomato soup for the sauce.            

Hong Kong Style Baked Pork Chops and Rice
(serve 4-6)

6 pieces of pork loin chops
6 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup baby peas
1/4 cup corn kernels
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup plain flour mixed with 1 cup water for batter
salt and pepper

For the sauce:
1 teaspoon garlic mince
1 small carrot, sliced
1/2 cup onion, cut into 1cm x 1cm cube
1/2 cup green capsicum, cut into 1cm x 1cm cube
1 tin of 415g tomato soup
shredded cheese


  1. Marinate pork chops with salt and pepper for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a wok or a large pan, add beaten eggs, diced carrot, onion, and corn.  Stir for half a minute, then add the cooked rice and keep stirring until it is well mix.  Season with salt, pepper and sugar.  Place the cooked rice into a casserole dish.
  3. Dip the pork chops into the batter and fry into hot pan with sufficient oil. Cook until both sides are browning but not fully cook.  Lay the chops on top of the fried rice.
  4. Heat a little oil in pan, add garlic, onion, carrot and capsicum and stir for a minute.  Then add a tin of tomato soup and turn the heat down.  Let it simmers for a few minutes.  Pour the sauce over the rice and sprinkle some cheese over the top.
  5. Bake the pork chops and rice in a 230c preheated oven for 20 minutes or the cheese is getting brown.  Cover it with the lid, turn the oven down to 180c.  Bake for a further 30 minutes until the sauce is well absorbed into the rice and the vegetable is tender.   

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pork Burgers with Caramelised Onion and Crumbed Mushroom Salad

I tried the crumbed mushroom salad when I was dinning at a steak house a while ago.  It was served as a vegetarian meal and I was quite surprise how nice it tasted. (only if you like mushroom)  The restaurant used button mushroom and I gave it a change using portabello, the giant mushroom.  The mushroom is very meaty so you don't need a lot of it.  It goes nicely with the pine nuts and salad.  What a way to have the fungus!  And the burger, I don't think burger franchise will make enough money if they don't sell pork burger in Hong Kong.  Many Chinese prefer pork than beef in their diet but you can hardly find a place selling pork burger in Australia.  You can see the cultural differences from that point of view. 

Pork Burgers with Caramelised Onion and Crumbed Mushroom Salad
(serve 4)

4 burger buns
250g pork mince
1 slice of stale bread
1 large onion
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon corn flour
freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra sugar
BBQ sauce

Crumbed Mushroom Salad:
2 portabello mushroom, thickly sliced
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon parmesan cheese powder
80g leafy mix
1/4 red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon pine nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper


  1. Cut the bun and spread with butter. Set aside.
  2. Soak the stale bread with some water and mesh into the mince.  Add in 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, salt, soy sauce, sugar, corn flour and pepper.  Mix well with your hand to form 4 patties and crumb them with breadcrumb.
  3. Mix the cheese powder into 1/2 cup breadcrumb and crumb the mushroom with egg then set aside.
  4. Heat enough oil in pan and cook the petties and mushroom until cooked and golden colour.  
  5. Then cook the rest of the onion, sliced till it is soft.  Add the balsamic vinegar and extra sugar to it until it is caramelised.
  6. Put some leafy mix at the base of the bun, top with the meat patties, caramelised onion and BBQ sauce. 
  7. Mix the olive oil and vinegar with salt and pepper.  Pour over to the mushroom salad.  Serve the burgers with salad.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Prawn and Avocado Salad with Lebanese Bread

I got the idea of making this dish from the little cookbook "15 minutes gourmet" comes along with the March issue of the Australian Good Taste magazine.  I like the idea of using lebanese bread for the crouton.  It's a good way to use up the bread instead of making wrap.  I add in avocado and melted mozzarella cheese to the recipe to replace the bocconcini.  It is a warm salad with an autumn feel and it only take 15 minutes to prepare.

Prawn and Avocado Salad with Lebanese Bread

1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
1 piece Lebanese bread
2 tomatoes
dried oregano
olive oil
minced garlic
10-12 raw prawns
80g leafy mix
1/4 red onion, sliced
1 avocado
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Italian Dressing:
1/4 cup vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
dried oregano
dried basil
pinch of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 220c.  Spread the mustard over the bread and tear into pieces and place on the lined baking tray.  Bake for 5 minutes or until crisp.
  2. Cut the tomato into wedges and sprinkled with dried oregano, garlic and olive oil.  Bake it in a separate tray with the bread together.
  3. Heat oil in pan and pan fry the prawn till cooked.  Set aside.
  4. Roughly mesh the avocado in a microwave safe bowl and add in mozzarella cheese, microwave it on high for 30 seconds or until the cheese melted.  Mix it with the cooked prawn immediately.
  5. Put the leafy mix into a salad bowl, add in onion, tomato, prawns and the italian dressing.  Arrange the lebanese bread along the side of the bowl.

Ginger Scones

This is the best scone I have made so far, the texture is soft and not sticky.  It is as good as the scone you get from the Ginger Factory.  I combine the recipe from the CWA Cookbook and the recipe from the packet of glazed ginger.  I am not sure whether it is the soda water making this scone so soft or the use of the mixer creating a light dough.  I give some to my sister as she likes scones, otherwise I may eat the whole lot.

Ginger Scones
(make 8)

2 cups self-raising flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup lite cream
1/4 cup soda water
1 tablespoon castor sugar
2 tablespoons ginger cordial
2 heaps tablespoon glazed ginger, chopped
pinch of salt
egg wash (1 tablespoon of egg and 1 tablespoon of milk)

whipped cream
ginger marmalade


  1. Combine flour into the mixing bowl with sugar and salt.  Add the beaten egg, cream, cordial, soda water and glazed ginger.
  2. Use the dough hook for the mixer, mix with low speed till a soft dough is formed.  Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface, sprinkle some flour on top and flatten it to about 2cm thick.  
  3. Use a scone cutter to into 8 scones and glaze with egg wash.  Place the scones on a paper lined baking tray and bake at 220c for 12-15 minutes.  The scone is cooked if it sounds hollow when tap on top.  Serve with whipped cream and ginger marmalade.

Ginger Scones 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rocky Road

The school fete finally comes, I have just bought the armbands for the kids for the rides.  They have been checking out the show bags and thinking how much money they should spend for the night.  It is the biggest fund raising of the year and the children just love it.  Besides the rides, there are stores selling goodies fitted into a jar for $1, cake and sweet store, arts and crafts, plants, second-hand clothing and toys, international foods, BBQ and ice-cream.  This year, my daughter makes some Rocky Road for the sweet store.  She learns making chocolate sweet at school and it is very easy to make.  You can remember the recipe straight away.  We cut it and put it into a large container in the fridge and pack it into small bags on the day of the fete.  I put in some speckled easter eggs into the bag to match the Easter theme.  Let's hope the weather is good for the night and we sure will have lots of fun.

Rocky Road

Milk Chocolate and/or dark chocolate, glazed cherries or chewy lollies such as snakes (chopped) and marshmallow

Lay a piece of baking paper onto a baking tray.  Gently mix together the cherries, lollies and marshmallow.  Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl under medium heat,  heat for 30 seconds then heat for 20 seconds a few times until the chocolate is melted.  Pour the chocolate over the marshmallow mix and stir with a spoon until it is all well mixed.  Refrigerate before cut into chucks.

Note: Switch to white chocolate for white Rocky Road.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chicken Wraps with Avocado and Salsa

There are many types of bread in the market that can be used for wraps.  Although I am not a shopper that is sensitive to things like perservatives, colouring or MSG, I would like to choose a product which is both natural, healthy and tasty.  If you read the labels of the wraps, many of them contains perservatives and soy.  I would not choose that product for my kids, at least not all the time.  I don't quite understand why the manufacturer uses soy flour to make bread, isn't bread made from wheat flour?  Maybe it helps to improve the texture of the bread.  It would be different if the bread is specified for people with a sensitive diet such as gluten free.  For ordinary people like me, I would have consumed a lot of soy from hidden product such as bread and cracker plus the normal amount I am taking from soy milk, tofu and soy sauce.  I am not sure if taking too much soy would be bad for you but I would like to choose bread that are made without soy.  Vitastic's Sorj Wraps is the brand I recommend as it does not have perservatives and soy.  It is thin and it does not crack when you roll it up.  However, it does mould quickly, keep in the fridge and toast the left over bread for dip.

Chicken Wraps with Avocado and Salsa
(serve 2)

2 sheets of Vitastic White Sorj Wraps
3/4 cup chicken pieces
baby cobbs lettuce
1/2 avocado
Salsa sauce (store brought)
shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Heat oil in pan and cook chicken until cook.
  2. Lay the wrap onto the chopping board.  Place the lettuce onto the wrap, followed by avocado, chicken, cheese and salsa sauce.  Roll the wrap and cut it into half and serve it with green salad.