The Grumpy Dumpling

Dumplings9The Grumpy Dumpling.
This is the name of my local dumpling house. Catchy huh!
It’s a great place to hang with loved ones, friends, kids or by yourself to gorge  on awesome house-made dumplings until you burst.

The  Grumpy’s  menu is suited to all comers and tastes. The hand folded dumplings come steamed, fried, pan fried or  in soup. Impeccable, friendly service is dolled out by the trolley load.
There are comfy seats, sweet tunes from local musos, screens and games for kids, the coldest of beers, ample dipping solutions on the tables, forks for the co-ordinatedly challenged, stays open late AND HAS MORE THAN ONE TOKEN VEGETARIAN DUMPLING ON OFFER.Dumplings

‘Wow!’ I hear you say. ‘You’re like, sooo lucky. I’d love to go there sometime’

Well, I’m sorry, you can’t.

I made it up.

Grumpy’s is my dream local dumpling joint. Sometimes the Doctor has severe dumpling urges and in sweet little Brisbane town you are lucky to find that one token vego gesture if any at all.

Maybe where you live there is a Grumpy’s? I’d like to hear about it.

So, if you haven’t guessed already, today Kid and I are filling the void by filling  some dumpling pastry. Vegetarian like, although carnivores will enjoy these as well.

Shiitake, Tofu and Garlic Sprout DumplingsDumplings3

Fresh shiitake mushrooms – 1 punnet, 4 dried shitake mushrooms, 1/2 a punnet silken tofu, 3-4 garlic sprouts.

Soak the dried mushrooms for 3-4hrs and drain well. Slice all the mushrooms and saute on a good heat with a light oil until they get a nice colour. Add the chopped garlic sprouts and cook a little longer. Cool and fold through the tofu. Silken tofu will smoosh easily. Wrap in dumpling pastry. To cook, brown one side in a pan with a little oil. Add water to cover them by 1/3 and put a lid on top. In 2-3 minutes you are ready. Makes about 30 dumplings.

Eggplant and Kim Chi WontonsDumplings4

1 small eggplant, 1/2 a cup kim-chi (we used a store bought), 2 spring onions.

Slice and grill the eggplant in a little oil. Chill. Drain the kim chi a little and chop along with the spring onions. Now chop the eggplant and mix it all together. Fold in wonton pastry and pan fry or deep fry until crispy. Steaming is good also. Makes about 20 wontons.

Pumpkin, Soy Bean and Coriander Gow GeeDumplings2

1 small piece of pumpkin, 1 tablespoon Korean bean paste, 1/2 cup chopped coriander.

Grate the pumpkin and sweat in a little oil in a fry pan until tender. Add the bean paste and coriander. Chill. Fold in some Gow-Gee pastry and steam. Makes 15-20 dumplings.Dumplings11

Soy, vinegar and chilli sauce to serve.Dumplings7

This way everyone can mix their own dipping sauce on their own plate. Use a light soy, find plum or apple vinegar and use your favourite chilli sauce if that’s what you like. Or use this recipe here. A little hoi-sin is a nice dipping option as well.

All of these ingredients or something similar are available in your local China Town, Asian grocers or even some supermarkets. Dumpling pastry is very easy to make too, just a little time-consuming, so don’t put extra pressure on yourself if you don’t need to. It’s basically just boiling water and flour. Wonton pastry has egg added. My recipes are just ideas. Each filling will go well in any dumpling pastry in any shape or cooking style.

What Kid DidDumplings8Kid pretty much rolled all of these dumplings. After an initial instruction and with the occasional follow-up, Kid had a good time being left to do these on her own. There was also help with picking herbs, grating pumpkin and mixing the fillings.Dumplings5 From the outset I made it clear that it doesn’t matter what they look like as long as the seems are secure. This is fun stuff for kids to do, particularly when they know they’ll be scoffing them very shortly.PicMonkey CollageI think she did an ace job, don’t you?Dumplings10We three sat around the kitchen bench, chatting whist waiting for each batch to cook. Well, those two sat while I cooked but you get the idea. A great communal activity and dumplings for dinner. Can’t go wrong!

Happy Cooking.

See you at Grumpy’s sometime 😉


MASH! Aah-aaahhhhhh!!!!

Potatoes7¶Saviour of the universe¶

Do you often find yourself with left-over mash in the fridge a couple of days after making it?

You went to all that trouble, and you were proud of that mash.
You don’t it want it to go to waste, right?

So, don’t.

Left-over Mash PotatoPotatoes6

Re-heat it with a little butter and milk and serve it as………….mash!
See here for more ideas on the serving of mash.

OR have a go at some of these.

*Skordalia – Great as a dip or with grilled seafood or chicken. Blend mash with a little garlic, olive oil and lemon until smooth and dippy.
*Potato cakes/hash – take mash, fold in an egg, flour, chopped herbs or onions, salt and pepper. Pan fry and serve with mayo and salad.
*Croquette – As above but include some chopped ham or chorizo, roll into balls and crumb them.Mash1*Potato and Leek Soup – sweat some leek and garlic, add the mash and enough stock or water to cover. Simmer for 10 minutes, blitz well and serve with some crusty bread and sour cream.
*Bubble and squeak – gather ALL the leftovers, give a good smoosh and grill in a little butter and oil. Breakfast of champs.
Mash2*Samosas – sweat some onion and garlic, your favourite curry spices, coconut and peas. Combine with mash and fold into puff triangles, brush with egg yolk and bake. Make big for dinner, make small for snacks 😉
*Stuff ravioli – fold a little ricotta, sage, garlic and lemon zest into some mash. Stuff ravioli. Serve with nutty butter.

Mash4*Potato and Rosemary Focaccia – don’t fret, you got this!
1 cup left over mash, 1 cup warm milk, 1 teaspoon dried yeast, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 4 cups plain flour.
Activate the yeast in the milk and all but the flour. Mix the flour in (a machine makes life easy here.) Knead, portion into 4 dough balls.Mash3 Prove for 30 minutes. Flatten out with your hands, drizzle with olive oil, chopped rosemary and sea salt.
Bake on 200*c for 15 minutes or grill in a pan until golden.
*Cottage Pie – Or Shepards pie, the only difference being that Shepards pie is lamb. Use the mash on top of a pie in place of pastry.
Brush the top with a little butter before baking for crispiness.

What Kids Can DoKimchi8
Kids can do anything. As long as you take the time to explain, demonstrate and then enable. And they’ll most likely remember for next time, saving you some time and effort. I feel like when we’re in the kitchen together in close proximity, working towards a common goal (awesome dinner!), we’ve already achieved something. Regardless of what ends up on our plates. Inclusivity is key.

Happy Cooking


I Can Mash Potato, I Can Do The Twist!

Potatoes1 Ever wonder how a chef makes mash at home?

Potatoes. Butter. Salt. That is all.

The potato used makes all the difference. The type of potato you use is up to you. Those big brown brushed spuds in the supermarkets are okay and maybe all that’s available. If you’ve got a good grocer, ask the guys there what’s the best that they’ve got for mashing. In fact I recommend this any time you cook a spud. There are hundreds of varieties in the world, each being suited to different cooking styles..

1.5kg potatoes – we’re using Sebago, Dutch Cream and Desiree
200g salted butter – diced and softened.
Wash, peel and chop the spuds into equal size pieces. Place in a pot and cover with cold water. The water will be cloudy. Drain the water off and repeat this process until you have clear water. Ensure that you’ve got at least 2 inches of water over the top  of the spuds. Add a tablespoon of salt to the water.Potatoes3Turn the heat up high. Bring to a good solid boil and then reduce the heat slightly so we’re at a steady rapid boil. They should take 35-40 minutes to cook, depending on size. Larger pieces are better.Potatoes6Drain well. Mash them well whilst still hot. Fold in the butter, check the seasoning. If your water was salty enough, you won’t need to  add salt.

Serve.Potatoes7The TwistDifferent flavours you might add to impress the folks at your table!
Cream cheese and chives, garlic and tarragon , finely dice shallots for what the Irish call ‘champ’, lemon zest and parsley, olive oil instead of butter, pesto, wilted spinach, dill, tahini, buttermilk, goats cheese… This list could go on.

What Kid DidPotatoes2Kid washed and peeled the spuds. Shelled some peas and stacked the dishwasher. I chopped and cooked the spuds then Kid mashed them and stirred in the butter. Imagine coming home a little later than normal, feeling a little rushed and being able to say ‘ Hey kids, you get the spuds on and I’ll get the other bits happening’. Everyone’s a winner. Don’t get too cocky though please, make sure what you’re asking of them is achievable and in line with their skill set.Potatoes5Why is my mash lumpy?
Either you didn’t rinse them properly or you didn’t cook them long enough or your just not finished mashing yet. Get that arm working! Investing in something called a moulis is well worthwhile if you make mash often.

Why is my mash like wallpaper glue?
You have either over-cooked the spuds or, most commonly, you didn’t mash them STRAIGHT AWAY. If you cook those spuds, drain them, then go off and have a shower, by the time you get back the starches in the potato will have begun to react unfavourably and you will have stodge. There is no way back from here I’m sorry. Cook. Drain. Mash.

And soon we’ll talk about what  to do with all that lovely left-over mash.

Happy Cooking!


Great ideas for great Pulled Pork

What’s with all the pulled pork everywhere these days?!

Pulled pork. Shredded Pork. Slow Roasted Shoulder. You can even buy little packets of it at the supermarket now (yeah but don’t!). It’s really easy, inexpensive and versatile to make yourself and  there’s often  heaps left over, so here’s a few tricks.

Bbq Pork Sliders  Sliders1
Small buns, crispy slaw, juicy pork, bbq sauce. A certain crowd pleaser. You can find our favourite bbq sauce recipe here and how to make the pork here.

Taco Dog – as above except served in a hotdog bun and we’ve added a little guacamole , chopped tomato, cheese and lettuce. Perfect for grand final days, pool parties or other celebrations where you need food that says fun!

Rice Paper Rolls – Duh!! Perhaps you’ve never made them. We’ll cover them one day in a warmer season. I’ve had lessons in Vietnam you know 🙂 We rolled up leftover slaw and pork with a little coriander. Served them with some hoi-sin and life was happy!Pulled Pork Rice Paper rolls
Banh-mi – another Vietnamese staple using beautiful pulled pork. Instead of bbq sauce we’ve added a little hoisin and sweet soy  to the pulled pork. Serve on a crusty roll (the best thing the French left behind in Vietnam) with cucumber, pickled carrots, green onions, coriander and hoi-sin. Fresh chilli gives it a good ‘Wow’, kids may beg to differ.

Noodley Soup. Ramen’s a good way to go but any kind of noodle soup will kindly accept some lovely, moist shredded pork into it’s hearty goodness. That’s a whole other post in itself

Fried Rice – A great way to use up left over pork AND rice. 2 cups leftover cooked rice, 1 cup shredded pork, 1 cup frozen peas – defrosted, 1 cup slivered broccoli, 1 cup chopped tomato, 1 bunch spring onions chopped, eggs. 1 tablespoon Dark soy, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, juice of 1 fresh lime, white pepper and coriander to finish.Fried Rice

In a hot pan add a little peanut oil then the rice and pork. Stir thoroughly, add the broccoli, peas, tomato and green onion. Finish with the remaining ingredients and serve with a fried egg on top.

Set into rissoles for the weekend bbq – whilst the pork is still warm and you’ve finished adding any sauce and seasonings to it, press it into a burger shaped mould on a sheet of grease-proof and chill. Re-heat when it’s time and  serve with salad and bbq potatoes. Be gentle or they may crumble.

Empanada – place inside some empanada pastry or use a convenience product like puff or filo and bake until crispy. Serve with a salsa of chopped tomato, coriander and roast capsicum.
Tomato, roasted pepper and coriander salsa

Croquettes – 2 cups cold mash potato, 1 cup shredded pork, 1 bunch chopped chives, 1 egg. Plus bread crumbs, milk and egg for coating. Mix the croquette ingredients with plenty of seasoning, shape and set in the fridge. Once set, you can crumb them, cook them and eat them. Eat them with garlic aioli even 🙂 

Dumplings/Ravioli – you could take either the Asian or Euro  path here. Fold the pork in some soft pastry, steam them and serve in an appropriate sauce.

Arancini – use last nights risotto or make some especially and chill. Fold some grated parmesan through the rice and form into golf balls. Stick your finger into the middle to form a hole and hollow out the middle a little. Stuff some chopped, pulled pork in there and mould the rice back into a round. Roll in fresh breadcrumbs and shallow fry.

Cooked in flat breads on the griddle pan – Serve with a little chipotle mayo.Pulled Pork Flat Breads

Pork ‘n’ Beans – 1 tin of white beans, 1 cup of pulled pork, 1 tin of crushed tomatoes, 1 small onion diced, garlic, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 2 fresh bay. Sauté onion, garlic and spices then add the remaining ingredients. Simmer until yummy. Finish with chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon. Serve at breaky instead of as your own fancy-pants baked beans. Pork'n'Beans

What Kids Can Do!

Kids can always be involved in what’s going on in the kitchen. The extent will vary. Sometimes Kid will even take her beans and prep them in front of the telly, which defeats the purpose of togetherness perhaps, but the beans get done and then we get back to the food. I’m always saying anything tactile – pastry rolling, folding and filling is awesome for kids (or grown-ups). Or a small task that they can own. A salad for example. ‘Here are all the ingredients and the dressing, I’d like you to make it look nice on this plate please’. And let go of it right there. Appreciate what they come up with. Ownership is a great part of learning, engaging and building confidence.                           Hbeachappleappy Cooking X


Pork Sliders and Lime Spiders.

Sliders1Sliders! They’re small, they’re burgers, they’re yum!

Spiders! They’re fizzy, they’re ice-creamy, they’re yum!

The Brisbane Show or ‘Ekka’ is in town. We aren’t going this year, instead we’re making fun carnival food at home.

The first time I’d heard of a slider was about 10 years ago. At Sizzler. Yep. Sizzler. Now they’re everywhere here, riding the wave of American street food and Southern bbq.

Nothing new about a small burger  here really except the name, and everywhere you look people are putting more and more way-out and crazy fillings in them. Fried seafood, fried chicken, kimchi, onion rings, chillies, sriracha, pork belly, brisket, fruits, pickles, chutneys, cheeses, slaws. You name it. Whatever.

We’re keeping ours fairly simple with some slow roasted pork shoulder, bbq sauce and slaw. And also lime spiders to go with.

Watch us putting our sliders and spiders together here

Pulled Pork

2kg Free range pork shoulder – boned and rolled
Salt and pepper
1/2 a cup Bbq sauce – we used our own home-made.

Score the skin, rub in salt and pepper then put in the oven on 90*c for 12 hours. Low and slow folks. Try and do it too quickly and you lose moisture and tense up the meat. It’s also really easy this way. Set and forget. Baste with the pan juices at least twice throughout the process where possible.Sliders2

When the 12 hrs is up, remove the pork from the oven. Test it by giving a good squeeze. If it feels a bit squishy with little resistance we are ready. Be prepared to get a little messy here. Drain the pan juices in to a bowl. Trim the skin away, trim away any fat. Using either forks or gloved hands, shred the pork gently, pulling  the muscles and then fibres away from each other.
Season well, add the bbq sauce and a little of the pan juices and mix well. Serve warm. This will keep well in the fridge for a good few days also and can easily be re-heated.

What Kid Did

Kid made our coleslaw.

2 cups chopped red cabbage, 1 cup shredded carrot, 1 cup shredded celeriac, 1 cup sliced spring onion, 1 small red onion sliced, 1/2 bunch flat parsley – picked and chopped, juice of  1 lemon and 1/2 a cup of  mayo or garlic aioli.Untitled

Use an adult  to chop and shred everything (or maybe you have a chopping machine kids can get involved with). Then let kids get their hands dirty mixing the slaw really well. Try and prepare this about an hour before serving and refrigerate. It will allow the dressing to mascerate, or soften, the vegetables just enough.20150817_110205

Lime Spiders – Rather than using any sort of violent green soft drink or cordial, we’ve used a decent brand of ‘traditional’ lemonade, fresh lime juice and a little fine zest. Add a big ball of vanilla bean ice-cream right before serving. This is the carnival version of a green smoothie 😉Sliders3

Everything was delicious, tasty and fresh. And a just a bit fun too.

Happy Cooking


Our Favourite Bbq Sauce Recipe.

This is our favourite bbq sauce recipe. You should make some and keep it in the fridge because you will like it. Then you can serve it on the food that matches. Pork chops for example. Burgers. Sausages. Or vegie sausages even. Where ever you might normally use bbq sauce.
Bbq Sauce.
1 kg really ripe tomatoes – blanched, peeled, smooshed. 1 cup balsamic, 1cup muscovado sugar, 1 onion, 4 garlic cloves – crushed, 1 teaspoon grated ginger, chipotle puree – 1 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 green apple – cored and chopped, 1 pinch of clove.
Saute the onion, garlic, ginger, clove, cumin  and apple in 1 tablespoon of oil until soft. Add sugar,  cook and stir until caramel. Add balsamic and reduce by 1/2. Add tomato pulp and a little salt and simmer gently for 40 mins, stirring occassionally. Puree well.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
The chipotle leaves a bit of spice, so use a little less if necessary. Keep in mind that used with plenty of crisp salad or slaw, the spice is negated somewhat.
That is all. Thanks.

Happy Cooking,



Ten Ways With Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise4As condiments go, it’s hard to go past a good mayonnaise when you need something quick and easy. Here’s a basic recipe for mayo (and instructional video!) along with a few ideas for making a compound mayo . That’s chef talk for “you’ve put stuff in it”  😀

Tangy Mayonnaise – 500ml oil (half canola and half light olive oil), 3 yolks, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 a lemon – juiced, 1 teaspoon white sugar, sea salt.

Watch this for a very home-made video demonstration.

Garlic Aioli – 500ml basic mayo, 8-10 garlic cloves – smashed, 100ml light olive oil, sea salt

Place your garlic cloves in a small saucepan, big enough that they just cover the bottom evenly. Cover with olive oil and simmer very gently for 25 mins. Avoid getting too much colour on the garlic. A light golden colour is plenty. Make sure the cloves are soft. Chill. Puree all together and fold through your mayo. Best scoffed with hot chips or crispy roast potatoes.Mayonnaise1Tuna and Caper Mayo – awesome for dressing a pasta salad with a little chopped avocado and tomato or for spreading over some toasted baguette or rice crackers

250ml basic mayo, 1 tin tuna in spring water, 1 tablespoon capers – rinsed and chopped, 1/2 a lemon – juiced, chopped parsley. Drain the tuna well and separate with a fork. Mix everything together and add a little salt and pepper if necessary.

Tartare Sauce– the classic fish and chip accompaniment. There is little more disappointing in life than ordering great F&C’s from your favourite chippy and being given factory made sauce.  Make your own, take your own 🙂

350ml basic mayo, 1 tablespoon washed capers, 2 tablespoons chopped cucumber pickle, 1 tablespoon chopped French shallot, juice from 1 lemon, 1/2 a bunch parsley, 1 tablespoon chopped dill. Salt and pepper. Blend all the ingredients except mayo until pasty. Fold through mayo, chill.Mayonnaise5Green Chilli Mayo – this one has featured on loads of menus in my kitchens. Think fried seafood, tempura vegetables, pan-fried tofu, chicken schnitzel. Or as a wicked slaw dressing.

250ml basic mayo,125g sour cream, 3 large green or jalepeno chillies, 2 limes, 1/2 a bunch coriander – washed and chopped, 2 spring onions – chopped. De-seed the chillies and slice. Place in a blender with the coriander, onions,  lime juice and a pinch of salt and blitz. Fold through the mayo and sour cream until well combined.

Vanilla and lime – Great with poached chicken and a little salad and with bbq baby octopus too. Or think bbq corn on the cob or a dollop in a seafood chowder.

250ml basic mayo, 1 vanilla bean – scraped, 2 small limes -zest and juice. Mix. Chill.Mayonnaise6Roast Lemon and Saffron Mayo –  Roasted lemons take on a whole new flavour and feel. Extra sweetness and conversely, extra sour due to the cooking of the rind and pith. The saffron takes this to a whole new level again with that unique earthiness. Serve with a whole baked fish or roast chicken.

500ml basic mayo. 2 large lemons, a pinch of sugar, 1/4 gram saffron. Cut the lemons across, rub with sugar and place face down on a baking tray. Drizzle with a little oil. Roast for 15 mins on 160*c. Cool and squeeze over the saffron. Add a little salt and let stand for 20 minutes. Mix with mayo.

Caramelised Onion Aioli – Savoury and sweet all in one go. Try with lamb or other grilled red meat. Serve on a dips platter with chopped vegetables or grilled bread. Or both.

250ml Garlic Aioli, 2 large Spanish onions – sliced, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 100ml balsamic vinegar, sea salt. Simmer the onions, balsamic and sugar gently for about 90 mins or until it starts to go a little tacky. Chill. Fold through mayo. Chill.Mayonnaise8Ricotta and Lemon Aioli – Great for sandwiches, grissini, crostata and vegetable sticks.

250ml basic mayo,  250g ricotta, 2 lemons finely zested, cracked pepper, sea salt.Blitz the ricotta until smooth. Fold everything together. Chill.

Chipotle Aioli -For the spicy food fanatic. Great on anything. Chipotle comes in a tin from delis and specialty shops and some supermarkets. Don’t confuse it with chipotle bbq sauce. It is not the same thing. At all. Use as a dip for corn chips or raw vegetables. Add to some pulled pork tacos. Now ya talkin’!

500ml garlic aioli, 1 small tin chipotle in adobe sauce – pureed. Combine well.Mayonnaise7Classic Cocktail, Thousand Island, Marie Rose. Whatever, that fat juicy prawn your dunking in it doesn’t care what its called.

350ml basic mayo, 150g sour cream, 2 tablespoons Worcester, 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup, juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon horseradish relish, sea salt. Mix it all well and refrigerate.

All of these ideas will work well with your favourite shop brand of mayo. Look for whole egg mayo where you can. But have a go at making your own sometime too. Go on!

Or try any of these additions – chopped boiled egg, tarragon and lemon, any style of mustard, spring onions, dill, grated celeriac, pureed corn, wasabi, pickled ginger, chopped kimchi, miso paste, peanut butter, mustard fruits, quince paste, pesto…..Or maybe you’ve got some ideas of your own?

*If you’re surprised or concerned at the amount of oil in mayonnaise, you should be more concerned by what goes into ‘low fat’ mayo.

What Kids Can DoMayonnaise2

Kids can get involved here by measuring ingredients, cracking and separating eggs, picking herbs, rinsing capers, pouring in the oil etc…Mayonnaise3

Let them have a go. The most important thing in training is to explain the process, demonstrate the process and then guide them through the first attempt. So perhaps you’ll make it ‘together’ this time and next time stand back a little. This all comes down to the capabilities of your own kids.

If it doesn’t go to plan, start again. You may lose a little oil and vinegar, but build a whole lot of confidence and trust with the kids.

Mayo vs Aioli. Aioli is a traditional French sauce being mayo w/ crushed raw garlic added to the process and served with boiled vegetables. Raw garlic can be a little   offensive to our humble antipodean palates so the confit garlic in the first recipe is a nice compromise. Some would argue that Aioli doesn’t use egg but is bound by garlic or even boiled potato. As far as the common vernacular is concerned however – mayo is aioli is mayo is aioli, if you know what I’m saying. Mayoli!?

Happy Cooking!


Butterfly Chai Chicken w/ Apple Cider Gravy (Do The Chicken Payback.)

ChaiChicken1Winter. Brrrr.
But also, mmmmmmmm.
Some flavours just scream winter. Roast chicken, parsnips, sage and apple cider leap to mind. And it is certainly winter in Australia at the mo. Even here in  ‘tropical’ Brisbane  we are suffering through single digit temperatures. ChaiChicken12Ours is a brown rice house by default. The are always exceptions to the rule of course – rice pudding for example. Or dining out. It’s great to see a few restaurants around my area with brown as an option now too. We are not a health blog as such, more an overall good eating and enjoying good food sort of folk. But I’m “down with brown” in the rice department if you know what I mean. For flavour and texture.  And fibre. “Gives your bowels something to chew on” I heard said recently. Hungry now?

You will be 🙂ChaiChicken2

Flat Chai Chicken.

ChaiChicken3De-bone your chicken – butterflying or spatch-cocking it’s called. I’ve made a  video here but no commentary. In hindsight, commentary would have been a  great idea. You can always ask the butcher (’cause we all support our local business and buy from the butcher, right?) to do this for you – de-bone the chicken, not provide commentary.

We’re using a griddle pan because we have one. A bbq is a great alternative or just a plain old frying pan will do.ChaiChicken4It’s important to use a constant medium heat. Season the chicken with olive oil and plenty of chai salt. Place skin side down in the pan. Chuck a knob of butter in. Cover with grease-proof paper and place a pan and a weight on top. You may think we will squeeze the juices out this way, but if you weight the bird from the start, you are just re-shaping it. The advantage here of course is saving time.ChaiChicken13After about 10  minutes, turn the bird over for just 5 minutes to sear the underside and turn over once again onto the skin. Put the weight back on. Our size 12 bird was done in 10 more minutes, 25 minutes in total. Remove from the pan and rest on a plate until ready to carve and serve.ChaiChicken5

What Kid Did

ChaiChicken6Chai Salt – Toast the spices in a warm pan until toasty and aromatic. Grind with 1/2 the sea salt until fine. Pass through a sieve to remove any large spice pieces. Fold in the remaining salt. You’ll only need one third of this mix, store the rest for a rainy day in an airtight container.

Parsnip gravy 
Ingredients – The bones from your chicken, 2 small parsnip, 1 small carrot, 1 brown onion, 5 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh sage, 1 tablespoon balsamic, 350ml cider, 350 ml stock, 50gm butter.ChaiChicken7HOW Roast the bones, veg, sage and butter on baking paper. Roast for 45 mins on 180* turning occasionally. Put the contents into a saucepan with balsamic vinegar. Reduce by 2/3’s. Add apple cider and reduce by half. Add stock. Simmer for 15 mins. Remove bones. Puree. Suck on bones. Mmmm…ChaiChicken8Bird Seed Rice -1/2 cup brown rice, 1/2 red rice,  1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup sesame seeds,  1 tablespoon cumin seeds, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds. 1/2 cup nuts. 100ml good olive oil, juice from I lemon, 1 bunch of parsley – chopped and picked.ChaiChicken9HOW  Simmer the rices together in lightly salted water for about 30-35 mins. Rinse and refresh. Toast the seeds and nuts all together on *140 for about 20 mins or until just toasty. Grind them a bit in a mortar and pestle. ChaiChicken10Combine rice, seeds, parsley, oil and lemon with a little salt and pepper. We used the chicken pan to re-heat the rice when it was time, letting it soak up all the lovely chicken juices.ChaiChicken11We added some hot buttered peas at Kid’s insistance , served everything piping hot and covered in our sweet, tasty gravy. Thumbs up all around!

The nutritional benefits of brown rice are discussed here if you’re interested. I like it because it tastes great and makes you feel good. Thanks to The World’s Healthiest Foods.

This post is named after a song by The Bees. Kid loves this song. Music can bring out the best in your cooking at times, give it a whirl.

Happy cooking,




Sugar And Rice And All Things Nice

Strawbs3Strawbs1Kisses sweeter than wine¶
Kid has never had rice pudding. She is 10, how did this happen? We had it all the time as kids. That sweet, sticky, lightly vanilla flavoured treat firmly implanted on my childhood psyche. Mum knows how to keep things simple.
I do too, just not on this occasion. I can be the proverbial kid in the lolly shop at my deli.  Saffron, rose-water, shaved coconut, spices and, given the boon season, strawberries.
I could smell the strawberries before I even entered the shop. Our local producers were smashed by a freak storm earlier in the year, they seem to have recovered somewhat. It worries me when supermarkets sell them for $2 a punnet mid-season. What are the farmers getting?
Screwed no doubt. Hit the weekend markets or pay the extra 2 bucks at the fruit shop peeps…Strawbs2
Saffron is a dear, sweet love of mine. It’s pricey, the most expensive spice in the world, but if you buy the good stuff and use it properly, you get good mileage.

Spiced Saffron Rice Pudding w/ Strawberries, Coconut and Rosewater.Strawbs9HOW?
Firstly rinse your rice under some cool water and strain. In a suitably sized saucepan toast the cardamom and cinnamon until fragrant. Add a little coconut, the saffron and vanilla and 1/2 a cup of water.Strawbs4 Place on the heat for a minute or two. The water will help the saffron to bleed. Now add your coconut milk and sugar. Warm gently and let simmer very slowly for 15 mins. Strain the spices out, return the liquid back to the pan. Stir in the rice and cook gently, stirring occasionally for 20-25 mins. The rice should be cooked and sitting in plenty of liquid. Stir in the yolks thoroughly, remove from heat and chill in the fridge for later.Strawbs6In the meantime. Toast your coconut in the oven on 140*c for 5 mins. It will burn very quickly if you forget it. Chop the strawberries as big or small as you like and toss with the rosewater. Rosewater is overpowering and unpleasant if you over do it. We are using an eye dropper to avoid this. Get it right and it’s a perfect match for ripe, sweet strawberries.Srawbs7What Kid DidStrawbs5Today I had kid ‘hulling’ the strawberries (chopping the tops off). Toasting coconut in the oven. Weighing ingredients. Straining the spices from the coconut milk. Measuring and mixing the rosewater. Stirring the rice on the stove and finally  helping to arrange our dessert in pretty glasses for you all to see.Strawbs8We layered the cold rice, strawberries and toasted coconut in the glasses. They look great huh?! It will look good and taste the same however you serve this. You could layer all the ingredients in a dish and serve from there or serve the strawberries and coconut over the rice in a bowl for each person.

And the result? Kid didn’t like this rice much. Loved the strawberries but left the rice. That’s okay. As I said I got a bit carried away and made it all a bit cheffy. It’s the saffron that’s largely the problem here. It has a particular flavour which I probably wouldn’t have liked at 10 either.  I’ll keep this one for when my adult friends come for dinner and make Kid a nice simple rice pudding next time.  Or just get Mum to make it instead.

<em>¶You know that little girl is mine…¶

Passionfruit Kisses

PassionfruitKisses1A little while ago Kid and I did some baking, made a few scones. We served some of those scones with a passionfruit curd. This passionfruit curd. These particular passionfruit came from a market at Caboolture, about an hour north of Brisbane.passionfruitThey are called ‘Sweethearts’ because they’re just so freakin’ sweet. Mum and Dad buy heaps for us so we like to have fun scooping out the guts and freezing it for just such an occasion. A blogging friend of mine called David has requested this recipe. It’s really quite simple. We are using something called the double boiler method. This involves cooking in a bowl or pot over another pot with simmering water in it. The steam generates a good soft heat, perfect for things like *chocolate or eggs. (*There is no chocolate here, sorry.)Passionfruit6

Place a saucepan of water on the stove and bring to the boil. Dice the butter into small cubes and refrigerate. In a stainless bowl that just fits in the top of your pot, place the sugar and eggs. Place over the pot and begin whisking. PassionfruitKisses2It’s important to not leave the yolks and sugar together for too long before cooking. The sugar will react with the yolks, reducing your chances of ‘fluffy’. Whisk vigorously for a few minutes. The gentle heat of the steam will cook your eggs and sugar at the same time as you adding air. Add the passionfruit pulp and continue to whisk until the mix is double in size. If it looks like going brown or sticking to the bowl, the water temp may be too high. PassionfruitKisses3Remove the bowl from the heat and straight away begin whisking in the butter a third at a time. Wait until all butter is incorporated before adding the next batch. Refrigerate with a lid or lightly greased baking paper on top to prevent a skin forming. Leave for a good few hours or overnight to set. Spread on whatever takes your fancy. We chose scones. Think about pancakes or waffles. With bacon even…PassionfruitKisses4It’s okay to use frozen pulp. We did, just not from the supermarket. Or if your pulp isn’t as naturally sweet as ours is you may need a little extra sugar.


From time to time I participate in a parenting panel on local radio. I get a kick out of it. Here we are discussing kids in restaurants amongst other topics.

Penny for your thoughts?


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