Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Banana Smoothies x 2

When's the last time you have a banana?  I haven't eaten banana for 9 months after Cyclone Yasi hit Queensland in January this year.  Since I've been living in Australia, this is the second time that mother nature wipes out the banana crops affecting the prices of banana that make you really treasure this tropical fruit!  The first time was Cyclone Larry in 2006 that it took nearly 4 years for the price to go back to normal then this time Cyclone Yasi brought so much rain and plus more rain on the other parts of Queensland causing the devastated Queensland flood at the beginning of 2011.  If the government hasn't allowed the farmers to sell bananas that fall from the ground to keep the supply and prices down, we would not have bananas selling at the shop.  The highest price for the banana has gone up to $15 a kg and thank goodness it has now gone down to $3.

Many people have a tough year in 2011 and I hope that 2012 will bring us good health, peace and prosperity!  And of course, many more yummy recipes!  HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR!    

Tropical Banana Treat
1 banana, chopped
1/2 ripe mango, peeled and chopped
100ml fresh orange juice
1 passionfruit fruit, halved

Blend banana and mango with orange juice.  Pour into glass and add the passionfruit pulp and seeds and stir.

Banana and Berry Blast
1 banana, chopped
1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
100ml fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon honey

Blend fruit until smooth and pour into glass to serve chill.

Source: adopted and modified from the cookbook GI high-energy cookbook by Rachel Anne Hill

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Marmalade Glazed Ham and Christmas Feast

Merry Christmas and I hope everyone has a great time with their family and friends.

My challenge for this Christmas is to cook up a traditional feast to overcome my fear of cooking big chuck of meat.  I made this glazed ham and roast a whole stuffed turkey on Christmas Day.  I made the dessert of cream burlee and chocolate meringue terrine on Christmas Eve.  Then I started cooking at 6.30am on Christmas Day making the pumpkin pies, cooked the ham, roast vegetables, mashed potatoes, make the dips, make the fruit salad, heat up the bread rolls, cook the corns and finally roasting the turkey at 9.30am.  I get my kids to help me prepare the appetizer and the feast is all prepared by 12 noon.  My sisters also brought a lot of food along so we just sit and chat and eat the whole day!  And we have SO much left-over that could last for a couple of days or weeks!

So I've done it and I have less fear for cooking big chuck of meat.  My next challenge will be roasting rolled pork loin or leg of lamb.  Then I may claim myself as no fear in the kitchen!

Marmalade Glazed Ham

one leg of ham
whole cloves, to decorate
1 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
pineapple pieces


  1. Cut the rind about 10cm from shank end of leg.  Run your thumb around edge of rind just under the skin to remove rind.  Carefully pulling rind from widest edge of ham and continually to pull away from the fat up to the cut.  (I did that a day ahead and reserved the rind to cover the cut surface to keep it moist during storage)
  2. Score fat by making shallow cuts diagonally in both directions at 3cm intervals, carefully not cut through the fat.
  3. For the glaze: stir in the orange juice with the marmalade in a saucepan then add the sugar and stir till sugar is dissolved.
  4. Place the ham onto the baking dish, brush with half of the glaze.  Cover shank end with foil.  Place some pineapple at the bottom.  Roast, uncovered in a pre-heated 180c oven for 40 minutes.  Push a clove in centre of each diamond shape and roast a further 40 minutes or until brown all over, brush ham with remaining glaze during cooking.
  5. Cover ham with foil and rest before serving.  Serve hot or cold.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mini Cinnamon Donuts

When you have kids around home during holidays, you just have to keep supply them with food.  One day my son asks me to make him some pancake and I'm surprised as he often say no when I want to make it.  (That's the problem when he has a mum that cook a lot and being my guinea pig for taste testing, he eventually got sick of certain food) This time it's me that doesn't want to cook pancake, then he further request waffle and got me rejected again.  But I'm in the mood of making donuts!  My little donut maker has been neglected for so long that I decide to wake it up from its sleep and do some work for me!

I have been trying to add more fibre to our diet so I add in some wholemeal flour for the recipe.  I also add some colour sprinkles for a more festival looking.  The donuts taste the best when they are still warm and we eat so much that there isn't too much room left for lunch!

I'm going to celebrate Christmas this year with all my siblings.  As you get older, it is harder to gather with the whole family.  Christmas provides a very good reason to do so.  Merry Christmas to you all!

Mini Cinnamon Donuts
(make about 40)

1 1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup whole-meal self-raising flour
1 cup milk
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten

For coating:
caster sugar mixed with some ground cinnamon
melted butter or margarine
coloured sprinkles (optional)


  1. Preheat donut maker.  Prepare cinnamon sugar and melt butter. 
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together.  Then add the oil, eggs and milk, stir through mixture until well combine.  Add a little more milk if too thick.
  3. Fill each donut hole with a tablespoon of batter then close the unit.  Bake until the donuts are browned or spongy when press with finger.
  4. Remove donuts from the donut maker.  Dip each donut into butter then into cinnamon sugar. Sprinkle with some coloured sprinkles if you wish.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Corn Chowder, Sun-dried Tomato & Cashews Dip

After having a few hot days, the weather has cooled down and my daughter asks me to make her some soup.  It is only about 20 celsius with a bit of rain and wind but she puts on her tracksuit and keep complaining how COLD it is!  After all these Christmas party food, we need something light like this to help cleansing our system. 

When I went to one of the Christmas party, one of the mum brought in some homemade dip. She had been very generous telling me what she put in.  So I went home and tried to be a copy cat.  She said the dip could also be a salad dressing by adding some lemon juice to it.

The post man knocks on our door and I receive two Christmas parcels the other day, not to mention the greeting cards I have received.  I have to get myself writing some Christmas cards, getting the shopping done, etc. as Christmas is not far away.  I have got a whole turkey and a leg of ham for our Christmas lunch.  I haven't cooked anything that BIG before, and they both need the oven.  I may have to get up early to get these done so they'll be ready on time.  Let's hope there is no kitchen disaster on Christmas Day as there is no take-away open!

Corn Chowder
(serve 4)

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
3 small new potatoes, peeled and chopped
kernels from 2 ears of sweet corn
peas (optional)
4 cups water
1 cup low-fat milk
salt and pepper


  1. Pan fried onion with a little of oil in the saucepan.  Add the potatoes and carrot and continue to fry for a minute.  Add the water, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the kernels and milk to the saucepan and continue to simmer until potatoes are cooked.  Transfer the soup to the food processor or blender and process until smooth. 
  3. Return the soup to the saucepan, add some peas, season with salt and pepper.  If it's not thick and smooth enough, you can thicken it with a teaspoon of cornflour mixed with a tablespoon of water.

Sun-dried Tomato & Cashews Dip

1/2 cup salted cashews
1/2 capsicum, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
lemon juice
salt to taste
olive oil

Blend the cashews with capsicum, tomatoes and olive oil (I use the oil from the bottle of the tomatoes) until smooth, add in some lemon juice and salt.  Serve with crackers.

Thanks for visiting and supporting my blog. 

Wishing you a 

Merry Christmas and Have a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

White Christmas Crackles and Chocolate Bark

Living in the southern part of the world means that we are having Christmas in the hot summer!  Apart from traditional food such as turkey and pudding, we often celebrate Christmas with a BBQ.  It is the only time that we close our restaurant for 2 days, so our family would gather together and eat for the 2 whole day.  There is not much to do besides eating and drinking as most of the shops are closed on Christmas Day. Then the big sale will start on boxing day which is crazy to go to the shopping centres to find a car park space.  I'd prefer to stay home or go to the beach.  I do miss the cold weather as we have in Hong Kong for Christmas. The buildings in the Hong Kong city are decorated with neon Christmas lights and I'd like to wear thick coat, just to wondering around, just to breathe the cold air!  I haven't experienced a white Christmas yet, some people celebrate Christmas in July (that's our winter).  Maybe I'd do that one day, making snow man in July while saying Merry Christmas!  

Both of the White Christmas Crackles and Chocolate Bark are Christmas treats for the kids that don't need baking which is a lot easy to prepare for the summer time.  I like to close my eyes while biting onto the crackles and let the sweetness of the white chocolate infuses with the marshmallow rice crisps.  My son has chocolate all around his mouth after having the chocolate bark as it melts on his hands very quickly and gone messy!

White Christmas Crackles
(make 12)

2 cups rice bubbles
1 cup white marshmallows
50g butter
white chocolate, melted
coloured sprinkles


  1. Melt butter and marshmallows in a small saucepan under low heat until smooth.
  2. Pour the marshmallow mixture with the rice bubbles and stir well.  Spoon into patty cases and let it set for 10 minutes.
  3. Pour melted chocolate over the top and sprinkled with coloured sprinkles then top with smarties.  Keep in the fridge until all set.
Chocolate Bark

1 block of dark chocolate, melted
white chocolate, melted
roasted hazelnut, roughly chopped
coloured sprinkles
crunchie bar
mini marshmallow

  1. Crush the crunchie bar with a rolling pin. 
  2. Spread melted chocolate onto a baking try lined with foil or baking paper to a thin rectangular shape. Sprinkle with crushed crunchie bar, hazelnut, sprinkles, marshmallow and then drizzle with white chocolate and leave to set in the fridge.
  3. Cut chocolate bark into round, triangular or square shape.   
My daughter makes these sugar cookies and we decorate them together.   We should leave some to Santa on Christmas Eve!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rustic Caramelized Peach Tart

This peach tart is the front cover for the cookbook written by Maxine Clark.  I made her strawberry vanilla tart a few months ago when strawberry is in season.  I don't think that tin peach would taste the same as the fresh one so I wait till the peach season arrives to make this French style tart.  I chose to make the pastry using the cheat's rough puff pastry method by grating frozen butter onto the flour before folding.  The best part of this tart is the crispy buttery crust and the sugary caramelized peach syrup.  It's a simple form of tart that doesn't need any special tart tin but you need the skill to fold the pastry.  And I could tell you that it worths the effort!  I could image myself sitting at the veranda with red and white checkers tablecloth looking at the rural view from the French farm while sipping a cup of tea.  It's so simple and so good.  

Rustic Caramelized Peach Tart

250g plain flour
a pinch of salt
150g unsalted butter. frozen
150ml or a bit more iced water

4-6 ripe peaches
55g butter
juice of 1/2 lemon
150g caster sugar
whipped cream or creme fraiche, to serve


  1. For the pastry: Sift flour and salt in a mixing bowl.  Hold the butter in a tea towel (I use glad wrap) and quickly grate the butter into the flour.
  2. Stir the butter into the flour with a knife.  Pour in water and mix with knife again until a messy lump is form.  Add a bit more water if needed.
  3. Knead until it forms a streaky, lumpy ball.  Wrap with glad wrap and chill for 30 minutes until firm.
  4. Sprinkle some flour onto the kitchen bench or work on a piece of baking paper.  Unwrap the dough and roll out away from you into a long rectangle 3 times longer than it's wide with 1 cm thick.  Remove any excess flour on the surface with a brush.
  5. Lightly mark the pastry into 3 equal parts with knife then fold the 3rd closest to you over the middle and then fold the top third to cover the folded parts.
  6. Turn it anticlockwise 45 degree like a book shape, then mark at one edge with finger to indicate you have completed 1 roll, then repeat the rolling and folding once more.  Rewrap and chill for 15 minutes.
  7. Repeat rolling and folding twice more then wrap and chill for 30 minutes ( I chill for 15 mins) before rolling into shape.
  8. Roll out the pastry and cut into a circle with 28cm in diameter about the size of a large dinner plate over baking paper.  Twisting the pastry over itself to make the edge.  Press slightly to seal and transfer onto a baking tray and chill for a further 15 minutes.
  9. For the filling: Halve and pit the peaches and cut into chunky slices.  Heat butter in a saucepan the add the lemon juice and 1/2 sugar.  When the butter and sugar melted, add the peaches and toss gently.  Pile the peaches over the pastry with some butter sugar sauce and sprinkle the remaining sugar.  Bake at preheated oven at 230c for 20-25 minutes or until golden, puffed and caramelized. Serve with cream.
Source: adopted from the cookbook, Tart - sweet and savoury by Maxine Clark

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mini Cream Horns & Palmiers with Honey Cream

cream horns with honey cream and nutella cream

What a start off for the summer holiday with rain!  It has been raining for a few days and the kids are feeling bored staying indoor (they may not be that bored if I haven't restricted them to use computer for only 2 hours a day!) So we head into the kitchen and look for things to make.  We have some frozen puff pastry and cream, and I have these cream horn moulds and some very large strawberries. The first batches of the cream horns and palmiers were gone in a flash as we were so hungry and they tasted so delicious.  My daughter made her palmiers with white chocolate and caster sugar from the recipe she learnt at school and I put in nutella with whipped cream for the cream horns for something different.

Mini Cream Horns

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
thicken cream, whipped
icing sugar for dusting

Cut pastry into 12 strips about 2cm wide.  Lightly grease the mould, then starting rolling the pastry onto the mould starting from the points of tins.  Place horns on baking tray lined with baking paper and brush them with egg.  Bake in hot oven till puff up then reduce to moderate until horns are lightly browned and crisp.  Pipe in honey cream or nutella cream, dust with icing sugar and garnish with strawberries.

For honey cream and nutella cream: add 1/2 teaspoon of honey to 1/3 cup whipped cream and add 1 heap tablespoon of nutella to 1/2 cup whipped cream.

Palmiers with Honey Cream

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
raw sugar
ground nutmeg
honey cream

Sprinkle sugar and nutmeg evenly over the pastry, loosely roll one side at a time into the middle until both sides meet.  Sprinkle extra sugar onto the bottom of the pastry as you roll up so that both sides are coated with sugar.  Roll the pastry over to form a log shape. Cut pastry into 5mm thick pieces.  Place the cut side up with a V-shape onto the baking tray lined with baking paper.  Bake at hot oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with honey cream.

white chocolate palmiers
My daughter made this for her art project. Couldn't stop hugging it!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Easy Chicken and Potato Casserole

It has been a year since my mother-in-law visit me last December.  I am still trying to finish the food she left behind. (I'm not joking!) It's really the love for her to show that she cares about us but it could be quite a challenge for me to use her ingredients as we have different cooking skills.  I have a few packets of this Continental Spaghetti bolognese powder mix that she left behind and I have made several pasta dish from that already.  In fact, I hardly buy any powdered food like this as I reckon they are space food for the astronaut.  While I'm living on earth, I would prefer to make my own sauce or use the bottle/tin instead.  So I end up putting it into a casserole, my very own "space casserole."

I have tried many western style casserole but the only one that my husband will eat is the apricot-chicken that also use powdered food (French onion soup).  He just doesn't like the taste of canned tomato in casserole, so I put in his favourite tomato sauce (ketch-up) for this casserole recipe.  Even though it is not quite that typical kinds of a casserole, I finally got him to love casserole after all this trial and error.  Waiting for him to tell me what he thinks feel likes waiting for my report card.

Chicken and Potato Casserole
(serve 3 - 6)
6 chicken drumsticks
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 medium potato, chopped (about 2cm)
1/2 packet (25g) of the Continental Spaghetti Bolognese
1 teaspoon of garlic mince 
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 1/3-1 1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
a handful of frozen pea
a handful of shredded cheese

  1. Preheat the oven at 200c.
  2. Marinate chicken with salt and pepper and set aside for 20 minutes.  Then coat chicken with plain flour.  
  3. Heat oil in pan, pan fry chicken until the skin is evenly brown.  Set aside.
  4. Heat oil in casserole, stir in onion and then garlic.  Add in chicken, carrot and potato and stir for a few minutes with medium heat.  Then add the spaghetti bolognese powder mix, tomato sauce and water.  Keep stirring until it is well combined. 
  5. Finally add the peas and cheese.  Close the lid and bake in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour.  Take the lid off after 35 minutes and bake uncovered for the last 15-25 minutes.  If it gets too brown but the potato is still not cooked, cover it with the lid again and bake until it is cooked.
Note: Do not cut the potato too big as it will take longer time to cook.

It's always excited to put up the Christmas tree than put it away.  Some of our neighbours have their houses decorated with outdoor light and Christmas decoration.  We like to drive along and looking at them every year to pick our favourite one.  Besides the celebration of the born of Jesus, Christmas is also the time for giving, to show our love and care to our family and friends as well as to the needed.  I made this tea cosy for my daughter's friend as she wants to show the appreciation of her friendship.  We are having secret Santa this year for the kids, each kid will buy a present for a cousin (that is picked by random) and also receive a present from another cousin.  I hope this can be a tradition in my family and leave good memory for the kids.