31 July 2015

2.09 Prawn & Shitake Dumplings w/ Pickled Vegetable Salad – Low-Fuss – Sides & Starters

Who doesn’t love dumplings? This is the one that I make when the mood takes me. You don’t have to make the salad to go with it (Low-Fuss is about doing as little as possible), but I find that they work well together.

Don’t be fooled by the number of steps or ingredients in these recipes, they are actually very, very simple.


200g raw peeled prawns
200g shitake mushrooms
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 spring onion, sliced
1 tsp rice wine
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornflour/cornstarch
½ tsp sesame oil
Gow Gee wrappers

I prefer these dumplings steamed, but you can also fry them after steaming to get a bit of extra texture.

Unlike my San Choy Bow recipe from earlier in the season, go for the fresh shitake mushrooms in this.

Use whatever dumpling wrappers you want, I just use Gow Gees because they’re round and fit into my dumpling-crimper.


1. Place mushrooms in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, then place into a mixing bowl and set aside.

2. Place prawns into food processor and pulse until minced, then add to the mushrooms and mix well.

3. Add the garlic, ginger, spring onion, rice wine, soy sauce, cornflour and sesame oil and mix until combined.

4. Place a spoonful of filling in the middle of a dumpling wrapper, wet the edges and fold over to seal. (As I said, I use a plastic dumpling crimper because it’s just easier, but you can do this by hand, it just might not look as neat.)

5. Repeat Step 5 as many times as you need to, then place the dumplings aside until it is time to steam them.

6. Place a steamer tray over a pan of simmering water. (I use a bamboo steamer basket, but I used to use a metal steamer and the result was just as good.)

7. Arrange the dumplings on a plate that has been lightly greased with some oil, then place into the steamer, cover, and steam for 5-10 minutes. (You may need to do this in batches. You should be able to tell when they are cooked as the dumplings will become slightly translucent and the prawn will have an orange colour.)

8. Either serve as is, or fry them in some oil until crispy. (Deep fry or shallow fry, it’s up to you. Just be careful when you add them to the oil, as any leftover moisture will make the oil spit and it could get messy and/or painful.)

Can make up to 20 (or more).


1 large carrot
1 large cucumber
½ white radish (Daikon)
¼ cup chopped mint leaves
¼ cup chopped coriander leaves
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp fish sauce
Sesame seeds (to garnish)

When I first made this I was just looking for something that would counterpoint the prawn dumplings, and I think I succeeded.

If you don’t want to make this, then I understand. Not everybody has the same tastes!


1. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the carrot lengthways until you have turned the whole carrot into ribbons. (Not really sure how else to describe it.)

2. Repeat the process with the radish and the cucumber, then place all of them into a bowl. (Stop shaving the cucumber when you get to the core as it is mostly just seeds and water.)

3. Toss together until distributed, then add the chopped herbs.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and fish sauce until the sugar has dissolved.

5. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and herbs, and toss together until everything is coated. Cover with cling film, and place aside for 5-10 minutes. (This is the best time to steam the dumplings.)

6. Pour the salad through a sieve and drain away as much of the liquid as possible. (If you want, save the dressing as a dipping sauce for the dumplings!)

7. Place onto a plate (with the dumplings), sprinkle some sesame seeds over the top, and serve.

Serving sizes are at your own discretion.

A video of the full recipe is also available - https://youtu.be/xCZ0emavLc4.

24 July 2015

2.08 Spotlight #2: Meringue (a.k.a. If You Like It Then You Better Put Meringue On It)

I hope you’re enjoying the recipes so far, but alas the time has come once again for another Spotlight.

This month, I will show you the different types of meringue and how they are made, as well as some information as to their difference uses. There’s probably more variety than you think. Plus, a BONUS Pavlova recipe!

If you feel that you can sit this one out, I will be back with another recipe next week. For everyone else, please watch the video at https://youtu.be/eBa-Xm80Paw.

If anyone would like to share their own tips, or even if you just have a question, please do not hesitate to email me.

17 July 2015

2.07 Raspberry Soufflé w/ White Chocolate Ice Cream & Almond Praline

If you’re throwing a dinner party and want to end on a high note (or just try to seem a bit posh), then a soufflé is probably the way to go. To complement the flavours (as well as up the ‘wow factor’) I think my ice cream and praline accompaniments work quite well.

You may think there’s a degree of difficulty (and snobbery) when it comes to making soufflé, but that’s not necessarily correct. I have listed the recipe as ‘advanced’, but this is more so due to the dish as a whole. The soufflé itself is probably ‘intermediate’ at most.


While it may seem a bit pedantic to make your own ice cream, this is an ‘advanced’ dish, so why the heck not?

This is a fairly simple recipe, and it’s even better as you will not require an ice cream maker for it.

Of course you can just use a store-bought ice cream instead, because most people probably can’t be bothered to make it!

200ml milk
600ml cream
5 egg yolks
¼ cup glucose syrup
½ cup caster sugar
200g white chocolate
Pinch of salt

As with all of my recipes that will list milk, I will always mean full cream milk. You won’t get the same results with lite or skim milk, and don’t even get me started on soy/coconut/rice/almond/whatever milk as that’s completely not what I’m going for here!

In regards to the cream, I mean just plain pure or single cream, not double cream or something with thickeners.

Adding glucose syrup ensures a smaller ice crystal in the finished product, which basically means a lighter and softer texture. Since I don’t use an ice cream maker, I need all the assistance I can get with this. In America, you will probably find this called corn syrup.

Use the best white chocolate you can get here. If you have a favourite brand, then go for it! I would also request that you go for ‘eating’ chocolate rather than ‘cooking’ chocolate, as the flavour and quality is much better.


1. Place the milk and 1/3 of the cream (200ml) into a saucepan over medium-low heat until almost simmering, then remove from the heat. (Put the rest of the cream back into the fridge for later in the recipe.)

2. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, glucose and salt until pale and thick.

3. Whisk a small splash of warm milk/cream mixture into the egg mixture, then slowly whisk in the rest until combined.

4. Pour everything back into pot, place over a medium-low heat and allow to cook while stirring constantly until the custard coats the spatula. (TIP: You want a pouring custard consistency, as opposed to something thick like crème patissiere.)

5. In a large jug, pour the custard over the chocolate through a sieve and leave for 5 minutes, then stir until combined and smooth.

6. Allow the mixture to cool, then cover and place into the fridge for at least 2 hours or until chilled.

7. With a handheld mixer, whisk the remaining cream (400ml) to soft peaks, then fold it gently into the chilled custard until fully combined.

8. Transfer into a container with a tight-fitting lid and place into the freezer for 1½-2 hours. (NO LONGER THAN THIS OTHERWISE IT WILL FREEZE COMPLETELY!)

9. Remove the semi-frozen ice cream from the freezer and whip it up with an electric mixer for 30-60 seconds, then return to the freezer to freeze completely.

10. The ice cream is now ready to serve. (TIP: I would recommend that you remove it from the freezer approx. 15 minutes before serving for the optimum texture. Also, use a wet scoop as opposed to a warmed scoop; this will allow you to get a more visually appealing scoop, assuming that you into that sort of thing. And let’s face it, if you’re thinking of making this, then you probably are!)

Makes up to 2 litres.

A video of this part of the recipe is also available - https://youtu.be/PISH5KhsOcc.


I’ll admit that this probably doesn’t really contribute anything important to the dish, but if you want a little something extra, this does nicely.

If you don’t want this, then I’d recommend some crushed Amoretti biscuits instead.

On the other hand, this shows that I may have FINALLY managed to sort out my toffee shortcomings (for those of you who know me, there’s a reason why my profiteroles are always dipped in chocolate).

1 cup caster sugar
½ cup flaked almonds
2 tbsp water
1 tsp cream of tartar

So, it turns out that the thing that was always missing from my toffees was cream of tartar, and it was my mother who finally let me into this secret. Thanks Mum!

Also, ‘cream of tartar’ is a misleading name. It isn’t creamy, nor is it a plaque build-up on your teeth, but actually a chemical powder that is a by-product of winemaking. It has a number of cooking uses, most notably in stabilising whipped eggwhites or cream, but in this case I’m using it to prevent the crystallisation of sugar in my toffee syrup. I still don’t understand where the name comes from, but I guess ‘potassium bitartrate’ or ‘potassium hydrogen tartrate’ don’t sound as food friendly?


1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a tray with baking paper.

2. Scatter the almonds over the paper as evenly as you can, then bake them for approx. 5 minutes or until golden and toasted. Place aside until needed, but leave it on the tray.

3. In a small saucepan, heat the sugar, water and cream of tartar over a medium heat until bubbling.

4. Allow to bubble until it changes to an amber colour, then remove it from the heat.

5. Pour the syrup over the toasted almonds, place another sheet of baking paper over it and smooth out gently. (Be very careful! Sugar syrups are blisteringly hot.)

6. Allow to cool, then peel off the top layer of baking paper, and break the praline into shards and/or crush to a powder. (I usually do both for presentation purposes.)

7. Serve with ice cream or use to decorate cakes, pastries, etc.

A video of this part of the recipe is also available - https://youtu.be/YvMQ_iOEUrE.


The star of the show! As mentioned above, this is actually much easier than you probably think it is. They key is having the right equipment for the job.

It’s also important to realise that they won’t always rise as much as you want them to. Sometimes they’ll almost double, while other times they’ll barely get above the rim of the ramekin. At least they’ll always taste good!

350g raspberries
5 large eggwhites
½ cup caster sugar
1/3 cup self-raising flour
75g unsalted butter, cubed
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp lemon juice
Melted butter, extra
Caster sugar, extra
Icing sugar, for dusting

You can use either fresh or frozen raspberries for this recipe. I’ll usually buy fresh raspberries and store them in the freezer anyway.

Busted! Using self-raising flour in a soufflé! Well, why not? You want it to rise, don’t you? *shrug*


1. Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F).

2. Brush 4-6 ramekins with the additional melted butter in an upwards motion, then add a teaspoon of the extra caster sugar, turning until coated evenly, then shake out the excess. (The number of ramekins won’t always be the same. Some eggs are bigger than others, as are ramekins, plus sometimes the weather can play a factor in how much air you can beat into the eggwhites, or the amount of air that gets knocked out when mixing in the soufflé base sometimes varies, plus several other factors. I’ve always gotten at least 4 serves out of this recipe.)

3. In a saucepan, heat the raspberries, half of the sugar (1/4 cup), water and lemon juice over a medium-high heat until the juices release and begin to bubble.

4. Pour through a sieve into a jug or bowl and press out as much juice as you can, then place aside until needed. (Discard the seeds, you don’t really want or need them.)

5. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, then add the flour (to make roux), and stir together until it becomes a light golden-brown colour.

6. Whisk in the raspberry mixture and continue whisking until combined, then place aside to cool for around half an hour. (It can get quite thick as it cools, but don’t stress too much about this.)

7. Beat the eggwhites to soft peaks in a stand mixer, then add remaining caster sugar (1/4 cup) a bit at a time (while mixing) until it reaches stiff peaks. (you can probably use a handheld mixer for this, but I find stand mixers do a better job.)

8. Mix a dollop of the meringue mixture into the raspberry base to lighten it, then gently fold the two mixtures together until fully combined. (The rougher you are, the more air you’ll knock out, which means your soufflés won’t rise as much.)

9. Using a spatula, fill the prepared ramekins with the soufflé mixture all the way to the top, then smooth it over.

10. Wet your index finger in some water and run it around the inside top edge of the ramekins to make a border.

11. Place the filled ramekins onto a tray and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

12. Remove, dust with icing sugar, and serve immediately along with some ice cream (and praline).

Serves at least 4.

A video of this part of the recipe is also available - https://youtu.be/N22w9-59rrQ.

10 July 2015

2.06 Chicken Scaloppine – Intermediate – Meat & Poultry

I have used the dish's traditional spelling (you will also see it as scallopine, scallopini, etc.), however I’m not sure how traditional this is. Please keep in mind that I never claimed to be a food purist. Although I’m half-Italian, I was never really taught how to cook authentically or made privy to any secret family recipes. I just make it up as I go along!

Maybe we should refer to this as the ‘half-traditional’ version? Or, if you simply cannot bear to even associate it with the name Scaloppine, just call it ‘Chicken Fillets w/ Creamy Mushroom & White Wine Sauce’. Spoilsport!

3 large chicken breast fillets
300g mushrooms, sliced
100ml dry white wine
2 cups thickened or double cream
1 cup plain white flour
6 sprigs fresh thyme
Olive oil (for frying)
Salt and pepper

This recipe was used as part of a dinner party I held in which each part of the meal highlighted a particular herb (this one was thyme). If you can’t get fresh thyme, then just use a generous tablespoon of dried thyme. Alternatively, you can also use lemon thyme.

I use Swiss Brown mushrooms for this, but you could use field mushrooms, portabella or button mushrooms instead.

Use whatever dry white wine you have around. Just make sure it isn’t chilled as you’ll be pouring it into a hot pan and that never ends well!


1. In a large bowl, combine the flour with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper.

2. Slice the chicken fillets in half lengthways. (Try to keep them as even as possible. If you can get a butcher who will do this for you, or find a place that already sells them like this, then that would be just fine.)

3. With a meat mallet, flatten each piece of chicken until it is roughly ½ cm (or 1/5 inch) thick. (TIP: If you’ve never done this before, try not to hit it too hard, and start at the thickest point.)

4. Dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour and place aside until ready to cook.

5. Pour some oil into a large pan and place on a high heat.

6. Fry the chicken for approx. 1 minute on each side, then remove from the pan and place aside. (This is just to seal it, the chicken will cook fully in the sauce later.)

7. Reduce heat to medium-high and add mushrooms to the hot pan (add extra oil if necessary). Fry until browned and most of the liquid has evaporated. (Don’t get too freaked out by any flour stuck to the bottom of the pan, this will both add flavour and help the sauce to thicken.)

8.  Add the white wine and allow to bubble away for at least a minute. (This should deglaze the pan.)

9. Add the cream and thyme and reduce to a low heat.

10. Return the chicken to the pan and loosely cover with foil. (If you want to be fancy and make a cartouche out of baking paper, that is totally up to you. I have been known to do this quite often!)

11. Simmer covered for 20-25 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. (The sauce will thicken more as it cools.)

12. Serve with rice, mashed potatoes, or polenta, and something green.

Serves 3-6, depending on how generous you are with the chicken.

A video of this recipe is also available - https://youtu.be/BjlYJoqdKGw.

3 July 2015

2.05 Tiramisu – Low-Fuss – Baking & Desserts

I have marked this recipe as ‘Low-Fuss’, and this may strike some of you as odd. For some reason, people tend to think of Tiramisu as something fiddly or difficult, but if you aren’t baking your own sponge fingers or using raw eggs anywhere, then it’s really not much effort at all. Especially when you cheat a bit!

It’s actually so lazy that my mother’s side of the family may disown me altogether. Or praise me for my creativity. You can never tell, Italians can be pretty unpredictable.

There is some piping involved, however, and some of you may consider that “fussy” (but it really isn’t).

Sponge finger biscuits (Savioardi)
500g mascarpone cheese
1 cup boiling water
1 cup thick vanilla custard
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup coffee liqueur
2 tbsp instant espresso coffee granules
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste/extract/essence
Chocolate shavings (to serve)

The number of sponge fingers really depends on the size of your serving platter, for this is a freestanding Tiramisu. Usually about 20 should be enough.

You can use whatever coffee liqueur you prefer. I have tried this with Kahlua, Tia Maria, Galliano Ristretto, and even Baileys and Frangelico is fine for a twist now and then.

If you don’t want the coffee flavour to be too strong, then use normal instant coffee instead of espresso. I also don’t think there’s an issue if you use decaf instant coffee.

If you already know how to get chocolate shavings, then that’s great. Otherwise, you may get some advice in the video recipe. Or, just grate some chocolate or smash up a few Flake bars. (That’s right Cadbury, I just advertised for you! Now, where’s my money?)


1. In a bowl, stir together the instant coffee, caster sugar, coffee liqueur and boiling water, then place aside to cool until ready to assemble the Tiramisu (at least 10-15 minutes).

2. In another bowl, mix together the mascarpone, custard, vanilla and icing sugar until combined, then beat with an electric mixer until thick. (Try not to overmix or the mascarpone will curdle, and that is extremely difficult to recover from.)

3. Transfer mascarpone mixture to a piping bag.

4. Pipe two parallel lines of the mascarpone mixture along the centre of your serving plate.

5. Take a sponge finger and completely submerge in the coffee mixture for 3-4 seconds, then shake off any excess. (You do not want it to get completely soggy at this point, and the more of the coffee each biscuit soaks up leaves less for the rest!)

6. Place the soaked sponge finger onto the platter so that it intersects the lines of mascarpone mixture. (And therefore, it will stay in place.)

7. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 until you have covered the lines of mascarpone.

8. Pipe some more of the mascarpone over the surface of the layer of sponge fingers in the same way as you piped it onto the platter, however this time you want to try to cover as much of the surface as possible. (5-6 lines should do it.)

9. Repeat Steps 5-8 as necessary.

10. Once you have used the last of the mascarpone, this will be the top layer. (You can try to make it look as pretty as you want, but it's not necessary.)

11. Scatter over the chocolate shavings. (This will hide anything that isn’t pretty. If you’re using Frangelico instead of coffee liqueur, some roasted crushed hazelnuts would be nice too.)

12. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the biscuits to soften further. (If you're strapped for time (or just can't control yourself), you can serve it after only 30 mins of refrigeration, but I would recommend you leave it overnight.)

I would usually do 2 layers of 10 biscuits. So, basically that’s 5-10 serves. Get it?

A video of this recipe is also available - https://youtu.be/u4JPJPTXZ5U.