Something beginning with C.

Passionfruit came my way this week and as I sliced into the first one, reaching for a teaspoon to scrape out the gooey insides, my taste buds were gearing up for the tarty-sweet-tangy explosion to take  me back to being a kid,  hopping the fence into next doors’ yard when no-one was looking to grab some of these big golden orbs from the vine hanging on the white lattice fence.

The anticipation, the excitement, the danger! And the sour!

Sound familiar?

Instead what I got was a mouthful of sweet, sweet passionfruit pulp that wouldn’t know sour if it brushed it’s teeth with a lemon.
Nor are they golden in colour but a vibrant purple so prepare for some gratuitous passionfruit pics.


Mum and Dad travel an hour to a market to get these, now that’s commitment to good fruit. They’re a relatively new strain appropriately called ‘Sweethearts.’
(The passionfruit, not my parents. Although they are sweet people).

And that is how passionfruit came my way this week.

Clafoutis. That begins with C and is pronounced clah – foo – tea. For the uninitiated a  clafoutis is a French style of pan baked dessert. A simple sweet  batter that can be flavoured with almost any kind of fruits (I’ve had blueberry on a couple of different restaurant menus). Cherry is arguably the most ‘traditional’. Try this one.

Passionfruit and Coconut Clafoutis

3 large eggs
4 tablespoons raw castor sugar
80g almond meal
50g desiccated coconut
100ml milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
8 passionfruit – 4 pulped and 4 juiced.

Pre-heat oven to 170*. Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla and passionfruit juice until thick and fluffy. Fold in dry ingredients and finish by beating the milk and passionfruit pulp in.
passionfruit3Grease your baking apparatus* with a little butter and add the mixture. I baked my little ones for 10 minutes then took them out, sprinkled a little extra sugar and coconut on top and returned them to the oven for another 5 minutes. Let them cool for about 20 mins, remove and serve whilst still warm with some crème fraiche and extra passionfruit pulp.
Passionfruit5*This recipe will make 12 little teeny ones or 1 large one. Or 2 medium size or whatever size non – stick baking pans you have at hand. Just don’t make them too thick. No more than about an inch otherwise you’ll start having troubles.

What Kid Did

Kid helped pulping the passionfruit. Then she was measuring ingredients, beating with the electric beater and pouring the mix into the trays.
Passionfruit1It’s still after-school snack time so all we  need now is a cool refreshing drink.

Passionfruit Mint Mule Slushy

Passionfruit, ginger beer, mint, vanilla and ice.
Blend the ice, vanilla and ginger beer until it’s like a slushy. Fold in the passionfruit pulp and torn mint leaves.
Serve immediately.
So kid and I made the drinks together then had a great afternoon picnic together in the lounge room.

There were so many passionfruit that we took the rest, scraped out the guts and froze it for next time. Semi-fredo perhaps? Sorbet anyone? Or just served over some good vanilla ice cream like Mum does.

Whenever you need to fill a bag or piping bag with something liquid, stick the bag in a cup or jug and drape the edges over the rim. You are now free to use 2 hands.

There are stories in any professional kitchen you enter about the apprentice who, upon being asked to strain the stock for the first time, pours the stock down the sink and proudly announces ‘Here’s ya bones, chef.’ Amongst others.

I had a similar experience where a kitchen hand was asked to scoop out the passionfruit and came back 1/2 an hour later with a bowl of passionfruit shells and the pulp in the bin. This stuff actually happens…

Starting from scratch. ( Beam me up, Roti ? )

Today my Mum walked all the way over to my work on her lunch break just to bring me some lychees.
‘Because these ones are really yummy and I have too many of them.’
I love my Mum. (and Dad.)

Coincidentally G.F is coming for dinner.
I’ve been wondering throughout the day what I’ll be making.

The lychees helped make my mind up.
Lychees feature heavily in Sth-east Asian cuisine, in salads, drinks and particularly Thai red duck curry.

We’re NOT making that.
We are however making a G.F friendly dahl and because she doesn’t do rice much lately, we’re gonna give roti bread a go.
My new job is near an Indian supermarket so I went on a little excursion.

The lychees have been assigned to a yummy Lassi to accompany instead. ( As it turns out G.F doesn’t like lychees, but Kid and I do. Winning.)


Dahl is any of a variety of curry based on either lentils, peas or other legumes.
Dried mung beans are another example. The lentils or peas are themselves sometimes called dahl.

Yellow Toor Dahl w/ greens beans. Serves 4-6
Spice Blend – 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds ( these are missing from the photo), 1 cinnamon quill, 12 cardomon pods, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns all toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle or spice blender then sieved.
Add 1 tablespoon ground turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon ground clove, 1 teaspoon raw sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt. I’ve also added some saffron, it’s not necessary though.
Yellow Toor Beans – 2 cups – dried
Green beans – about 400gm
1 medium brown onion
2 celery sticks
6 garlic cloves
bay leaves – 4 fresh
fresh coriander – about 1/2 a bunch – washed and picked
1 lemon
Spice blend.
Heat a little oil or ghee in a thick based pot. Sweat the onions and celery, then add the garlic and cook until soft. Add the spices and sauté gently until aromatic. Add the toor, stock, coconut cream, bay leaves and a little salt. Add a cup of water too and simmer gently for about 40 mins or until the toor are just soft. Now the green beans go in for about 5 mins. Turn the heat off, add some chopped coriander and lemon juice and let sit until you’re ready to serve.

Roti bread is a flat, unleavened bread made using ( in this instance ) atta flour. Atta is fine ground wholemeal flour with any husk removed via a fine sieving process.
Roti turns up in a few different cuisines, namely sub – continental, Sth East Asian, Sth Pacific and even Sth American.
2 cups Atta flour
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive or ghee
Combine the flour, salt and water to form a dough. Move this to a lightly floured bench and knead for a solid ten minutes. Brush with a little oil or ghee and leave to rest for an hour at least.
I didn’t have an hour so mine were good but a little lacklustre.
Pre – heat a solid based pan.
Next cut the dough into 10 even sized portions and roll each one out to about 20cm diameter.
Even is more important than round. Sprinkle a little flour in the pan, if it goes brown, you are ready. Place the rolled out dough in the pan for a couple of minutes either side. It should puff up. Press it back down gently with a tea towel to protect your hand. Remove from the pan and brush liberally with ghee or olive oil. Repeat, stacking them as they come off. Keep them covered with a warm damp cloth until ready to serve.

What Kid Did

Kid helped with a lovely little salad of cucumber (a little salt on your cucumber goes a long way), mint, spring onions, tomato  and lemon.
Roti6Kid made and rolled the roti dough.
I had a moment when I had to go and calm down because they weren’t round OR even.
Really? So what. We’re meant to be having fun here. Right?!
Occupational hazard. Soz Kid. You do a great job.

One thing you learn pretty quickly when you become a head chef is that not everybody is as excited about what you’re doing as you are.

Kid also toasted the spices in a fry pan,  peeled and pipped the lychees for the lassi, which she’d never done before, picked some coriander and set the table. After dinner we all played a geography quiz game at Kid’s insistence.

Pretty sure I won 😉

Lassi- lychees, natural yoghurt, milk. It’s pretty much a smoothie.
It shouldn’t need sweetening if the fruit is ripe.
Otherwise you can add some cardomon and a little salt for a more savoury version.

What Else?
That’s enough, surely.
I’m pretty happy that there’s heaps of dahl left for after work.
Next time I’ll take a little more time with the roti.
Cooking them on electric probably didn’t help.
The salad is a great contrast here, very fresh.
Lentils, mung, or split peas will all work as well here but cooking times may vary.

Thanks for the lychees mum.

Vegeramalamadingdong! (The Post Katy Perry Post)

We’ve been away. I’m sure someone noticed. Road trip and hiking for me and G.F, holidays for Kid and family, new job for me, etc….

Vegerama1We just haven’t had time to be here.
Oh and somewhere in there I turned 40. Yay!


Last night we went to Katy Perry. Holy Wow!
I’ve been to loads of gigs in my life but never the full Popstar experience.
There was me and Kid and Kid’s BFF. Show was great. What a good fun night.


We ate Fish and Chips, icy poles, lollies, chocolate, popcorn and as we were leaving I decided we’d need a late night ice-cream. Because, that’s why.
I asked Kid the best thing about her family holiday?
‘The gelati shop.’ Of course.
We need vegetables.
Along the way on our road trip we were often left with less than inspiring choices for vegetarians so G.F and I would just order chips, vegetables and gravy. ( What’s that? The vegetarian police are knocking at the door? Well we did eat gravy.)

Go. Away.

So I thought I’d recreate something similar. A nostalgia dinner of sorts.
Roast  Vegetables, Greens and Vego Gravy
Potatoes, Pumpkin, Carrots, Sweet Potato or whatever.
Chop and apply a little olive oil and salt. Roast on 180*c until everything is cooked nicely.
Greens –
Broccoli, Beans, Peas or whatever.
Simmer gently in lightly salted water until just tender. Beans first, then peas, then broccoli. Drain and serve.

Vego Gravy
2 medium carrots
1 large onion
5 cloves garlic
1 cup red wine
100  ml light soy
3 cups veg stock/water
a pinch of thyme or rosemary or sage.

Slice the vegetables thinly and sauté in a pan until really soft. It’s good to get some colour on them too, for flavour. Make sure they’re really soft and caramelised. Add the red wine and simmer gently until the wine has all but disappeared. Add soy and repeat. Add stock and simmer gently for 3-4 minutes. Puree in a food processor or with a bar mix or vitamiser.
You won’t need to add salt. There is plenty in the soy and on the vegetables already. Pepper or sliced sauté mushrooms will give you that authentic rural bistro feel.
Serve liberally over your vegetables.
Vegerama7We also had vegetarian sausages. Because, that’s why.

What Kid Did
Kid was up until after midnight on a school night so after the beans were picked and the table set I let her roam free. On the couch.
Well done Kid.
Baby, you’re a firework!

The Wash up
Awesome, nutritional, yummy dinner that left us all flopped on the couch Al Bundy style afterwards. Just the effect I was hoping for.
If vegetarian isn’t important to you, use beef or chicken stock. You’ll find my chicken stock recipe in the tags list. Serve liberally over your favourite roast.
Carrots are naturally very sweet once you get them cooking. It is also the carrots that will determine the consistency of your gravy.

Get cooking 🙂


D.I.Y – or don’t. Masa Harina por favor.

This week we received a gift from a friend.

If you don’t know ( I didn’t) this is a tortilla press and some special Sth American corn flour for making tortillas. My friend (Kid’s mum actually) had a little trouble with this so I’ve accepted the challenge.

DIY Tortillas.

2 cups masa harina flour – available on-line and in specialty stores
1.5 cups hot water
1 DIY Tortilla press
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until well formed. It will be sticky. Tip it onto a bench with plenty more masa and knead until you’ve got a nice dough.DIY2

Its good  to let the dough rest for at least an hour to relax. In the mean time we made fillings for the tortillas. We used the masa harina to coat some chicken and made a vegetable slaw.
Masa Harina Chicken

2-3 chicken tenderloins per person
masa harina flour
lemon zest
picked and chopped coriander
cumin powder
cinnamon powder
turmeric powder
egg wash and flour for dusting
Flatten the chicken as you coat it with the palm of your hand so it will cook evenly. Gently sauté in a light olive oil until golden brown and drain on kitchen towel. Sprinkle with a little salt.

For the Vegie Slaw I sliced some vegetables – zucchini, capsicum, carrots and spring onions and Kid dressed them with some whole egg mayo, lemon juice and coriander.

Back to the tortillas. The amount of dough we had gave us about 15 tortillas. Some were lost to experimentation with the press and cooking and tasting. We rolled the dough into a cylinder to make it easier to portion.
You don’t need much dough for each, too thick and they are clunky to eat.


Place some baking paper on the press and then the dough, then some more paper. Press down on the handle until the dough is flat. It’s a bit like a play-dough set really,  it oozes out the sides a bit.
Turn the dough and press again, do this  a couple of times to get an even thickness.

Pre-heat a non stick fry pan to bursting. I found that peeling off one side of paper and placing it face down in the pan and then removing the other piece of paper worked best. This way you don’t need to touch the rolled out dough. About a minute either side is all you need. Repeat until you have a pile of golden tortillas ready for dinner.
Slice the chicken, put everything in the middle of the table and DIY.


What Kid Did

A good one for Kid involvement this week, especially considering that this was new to both of us. We had fun working out the press together. Kid made the dough in the food processor and then I showed her how to knead dough on the bench using the ‘fold and turn’ technique.
My dad actually showed me how to do that many years ago.
Before I became a chef even.

Kid pressed some tortillas, washed the coriander and made the salad. Then Kid surprised me with her knowledge of the crumbing process (for the chicken). I forget  sometimes that she also lives in a big busy house and gets to help out there too.
The problem with crumbing is that sometimes you end up with crumbed fingers.
Kid agreed. We learnt that the answer to this is the ‘wet hand, dry hand’ method.


You basically nominate a wet hand and a dry hand. Wet only ever touches wet and dry only ever touches dry and there should be no crumbed fingers. Use the flour and the crumb (masa harina in this case) to handle the food instead of your fingers.
I can crumb food on an industrial scale this way and finish with clean hands.

The Wash Up
Great dinner. Everything worked well together taste-wise and we had an excellent afternoon together playing with the dough, the press and the crumbing, listening to Katy Perry all the while. Music in the background adds good rhythm to the process. There was also some embarrassing dad dancing in the kitchen!
There were loads of vibrant colours from the masa harina and the vegetables.
I added a little chilli sauce to my tacos because that’s what I like.
Would I do the tortillas again? Sure. On a day when time is no concern.
Otherwise you can buy ready made ones without much trouble.
The chicken was a winner though and we’ll be keeping that up our sleeves for sure.
Masa harina is gluten free by a happy coincidence too.

What is Masa Harina?
It’s a coarse flour made from a dough made from corn.  It is used in Spanish and Sth American cooking. Check the link. But don’t forget to come back 🙂

What Kid Did (chocolate banana brownie)

I had it suggested to me by someone close today that this blog could do with a little more focus on what kid’s doing rather than my attempts at story telling. Or as well as maybe.

I have to agree. It’s what we’re about after all. Getting Kid involved.

The thing is this.

This is what I’m working with. I live in a dinky flat in inner city Brisbane.
I love it here, don’t get me wrong. We live in a beautiful suburb with a great outlook and many conveniences but this is essentially a bachelor pad and the kitchen is made for one.

The view from the office

The view from the office

So this brings with it it’s own set of challenges at dinner time and having room to do fun stuff.
I’m working on it.
There are probably some of you out there doing more with less.
I have a plan for a small table to replace the ‘pantry’ so Kid has somewhere to work. Currently she sits at the living room table to pick herbs or is squished into the corner to mix stuff.
It gets pretty crowded and sometimes I have to put the chef back in my mouth “not like that, you’re doing it wrong %$£! No, sorry, you’re not doing it wrong Kid. There’s no such thing, perhaps you could try this way instead”.
I get a little cabin fever sometimes.

I have visions of a granite bench top with a kitchen aid and other whirly gigs. Room to work side by side or to roll a pizza base or make pasta. One day.

Instead we’re going to require some patience and a little creative ingenuity. I think kid will like baking.

Chocolate – Banana Brownie
200gm dark cooking chocolate – the best your budget allows
100gm unsalted butter
2 large very ripe bananas
200gm almond meal – toasted is best
1 large egg
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup raw sugar – white or brown will work. Up to your own preference
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder


Place the butter and broken up chocolate in a bowl and melt them together*. Peel and smoosh the banana and process it with the egg and sugar. Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl and fold until combined. Pour into a baking tray lined w/ baking paper. Cook @ 180* for 15 mins. Use a skewer to test it. It should still be a little soft in the middle. Serve hot with ice-cream, berries, chocolate sauce, chocolate flakes or any combination of those things. Eat it cold the next day w/ a pot of tea.

*You can do this in a microwave or in a bowl over a pot of boiling water. When I was an apprentice our Pastry teacher would show us just to do it in the microwave. When we went to the restaurant part of our training I did this and got told off by a small, angry chef. So I used a double boiler when he was around. For this, I used the microwave. Just do it gently, in 30 second increments otherwise the chocolate may burn.

What Kid Did
Kid peeled and  mashed the banana. She cracked the egg and blitzed them together in the processor and then used a spatula to scrape out all of the mixture into a bowl and mixed all the ingredients together. Then Kid poured the mixture into the baking tray. I took it from there. A hot oven is still a step or two away. Kid also wrote down the ingredients for this recipe as we went along.

The next day I made the mistake of sending  Kid to school with this in her lunch box as a treat. It’s full of nuts of course and nuts are banned in schools around here. Just absentmindedness, I’m usually on the ball with that.
I have a friend who sends her boy to a school where eggs are banned.
The nuts in this make it gluten free for those who are that way inclined.
It was great letting Kid do a little more than pick herbs and stir things, she had fun and was stoked when we told the dinner guests that Kid made the dessert.

Onwards and upwards Kid.

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