25 March 2016

4.09 Spotlight #4: Olive Oil

I hope you’re enjoying the recipes so far, but this week I'm doing another (unsolicited) Spotlight video.

Most people who cook have a specific ingredient that they absolutely cannot do without, and mine just happens to be olive oil. In this video I'll discuss the different varieties, how they're made, and when each one should be used. Plus, there is a BONUS recipe for my Rocket Pesto Pasta!

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/l_am_6DsWlI.

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

I'm also still taking recipe requests for the rest of the season, so let me know if there's something you'd like to see!

20 March 2016

4.08 Beef Wellington – Advanced – Meat & Poultry

I have to confess that I’m a little excited this week. The request for this recipe came from Nicko’s Kitchen, which is a pretty big name on the YouTube food scene. This is basically the equivalent of a busker being approached by a world-famous artist and being asked to perform for them. Well, not exactly, but close enough!

For those of you who don’t know him, Nicko runs the super-popular YouTube Channel Nicko’s Kitchen. We’re talking about millions of views, over a million subscribers, over one-and-a-half million ‘Likes’ on Facebook, over ten thousand followers on Twitter, and almost eighteen thousand followers on Instagram. This is essentially celebrity status.

Unfortunately, this makes cooking for Nicko much more daunting, as he undoubtedly has a ton of experience when it comes to food. Still, I’m always up for a challenge!

Back to the recipe at hand, some of you may not be familiar with Beef Wellington. Traditionally, it’s a seared beef fillet smothered with paté, wrapped in a herb crepe, then wrapped again in pastry and baked until medium-rare (or less).

There’s already a slew of different versions, so here’s my interpretation.

800g-1kg beef eye fillet, trimmed of fat
300g swiss brown mushrooms, blended until minced
4 savoy cabbage leaves, large
30g unsalted butter
Hot English mustard
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Shortcrust pastry OR puff pastry

Okay, so as you see there’s no paté or crepes in the above ingredients. Personally, I think you don’t NEED to cover a big chunk of meat with a paste made out of livers! You don’t NEED to wrap something with a crepe if you’re then going to wrap it in pastry anyway! In this rare instance I’ve decided to take the slightly healthier route, and replaced these superfluous elements with vegetables instead.

As I’ve mentioned on a few occasions previously, I prefer swiss brown mushrooms in almost all cases. As usual, if you can’t find them (or don’t want them), feel free to use portabello mushrooms, field mushrooms, or button mushrooms. And to clarify, when I say ‘minced’, I mean it’s basically a chunky paste (sounds appetising, right? Don't worry, it tastes awesome by the time you're finished!).

The same goes for the savoy cabbage. If you use a different type of cabbage, just make sure that the leaves are big enough, and that the stems aren’t too chunky.

I haven’t given a precise measurement for the mustard or olive oil, and that’s because it’s sort of up to your own judgment; maybe you want to use a little less oil, or maybe you can’t handle too much mustard? If I had to choose a number, I’d say approx. 2 tbsp of each should be sufficient for the recipe.

The type of pastry you use is also up to you. Buy it, make it yourself, whatever! Just make sure you have enough to wrap up everything up at the end. For the purposes of this recipe, I used the same shortcrust pastry that I used for my Steak and Stout Pie recipe a few months ago. If you don't make your own pastry, then this could be considered an Intermediate recipe, rather than Advanced.


1. Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F) and line a baking tray with some baking paper.

2. Sprinkle some salt, pepper and olive oil over the beef fillet and rub until coated all over.

3. Place the fillet into a pan over medium-high heat and sear on all sides for 2-3 minutes each, then remove from the pan and place aside to cool.

4. Leave the pan on the heat, and place in the butter along with some more olive oil until melted and sizzling.

5. Add the minced mushrooms to the pan along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper and fry until browned and all liquid has evaporated, then remove from the pan and place aside to cool. (It’s worth mentioning that the juices released by the mushrooms will deglaze the pan, so any part of the beef fillet that you’re worried will be burnt on to the pan should be lifted and incorporated into the mushrooms.)

6. Bring a pot of water to the boil, then add the cabbage leaves and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the stalks are soft and pliable. Drain the cabbage and place aside to cool.

7. Once the beef, mushrooms and cabbage have cooled, move on to Step 8. (This is the assembly part, so I’ll add lots of photos to make it easier for you!)

8. Brush the fillet with some mustard until coated as desired.

9. Place two cabbage leaves flat on the bench, with the ends overlapping.

10. Spoon the mushroom onto the cabbage leaves in a shape similar to the fillet.

11. Place the fillet onto the mushrooms.

12. Place the remaining cabbage leaves over the fillet and tuck underneath to seal it in.

13. Place the cabbage parcel onto your pastry and wrap tightly, ensuring everything is sealed.

14. Transfer the wellington to the baking tray and brush with some beaten egg. (This will make it look nice and shiny.)

15. Slice a few slits into the top of the pastry. (This will allow any steam to escape, and it gives a nice rustic look too.)

16. Bake for 40-60 minutes to get your desired result. (For Rare-Medium Rare: 40 minutes, for Medium-Well Done: 50 minutes, and for Well Done: 60 minutes. I cooked mine to Well Done in order to gauge cooking times just to make it easier for you. It was a shame to do that to such an awesome fillet, but it still tasted great anyway!)

17. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for approx. 10 minutes.

18. Slice thickly, and serve!

Serves 6-10 (some people may want a second helping.)

A video of this recipe is also available at - https://youtu.be/44LULR3fSQM.

If you have a recipe to request, it's not too late! Please send me an email and I'll see what I can do.

12 March 2016

4.07 Golden Syrup Mudcake – Intermediate – Baking & Desserts

This recipe was inspired by a request from my friend Kate, who loves pretty much every type of baked good (aside from things like quiche, which she complains is “too eggy”).

She wanted something decadent using any combination of cake, chocolate and caramel. Keeping in mind that this recipe is meant to be something she can replicate on her own, I did the best I could to bring together all the elements she wanted into something that's fairly simple.

I have noticed that people living in countries outside of UK and Australia aren’t very familiar with golden syrup. This syrup is made by boiling down sugar cane juice until it turns thick and… well… golden. I think if you’re looking for an alternative, you could probably substitute brown rice syrup or dark corn syrup – and maybe even honey – but don’t quote me on that as I haven’t tested it! Something like maple syrup is probably too thin and would make the batter too runny.

It’s worth noting that while I’ve called this a mudcake, it’s not quite as dense as most mudcakes seem to be. Although, it is quite rich!


2 cups self-raising flour
1 ½ cups light brown sugar
½ cup golden syrup
½ cup milk
200g unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla essence/extract/paste
½ tbsp pink salt flakes

All of these ingredients are fairly standard for baking, except possibly the pink salt flakes. Half a tablespoon of salt might seem like quite a lot for a dessert – indeed, it’s probably quite a lot for a savoury dish! – but it cuts through the sweetness a bit. Think of salted caramel, it’s similar. Also, pink salt isn’t quite so “salty” as regular salt as it contains a number of other minerals. If you can’t find this, just use 1 tsp of regular salt instead.


1. Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F) and line the bottom and sides of a 20cm cake tin with baking paper. (TIP: Use a tin with high sides, and line with baking paper even higher. This cake has a long bake time when this recipe is followed exactly and the high paper sides can provide some protection to stop the top from browning too much. Also, you’ll want the high sides for when you add the topping to the cake!)

2. Place the milk and syrup into a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir together until the syrup has dissolved into the milk. (TIP: Do not let it come to a boil as the milk could split and you have to start again – learned THAT the hard way!)

3. Remove the milk and syrup from the heat and place aside to cool for approx. 5 minutes.

4. Place the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt flakes into a large mixing bowl and beat together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

5. Add in 1 egg and beat until incorporated.

6. Sift in ½ cup of flour and beat until incorporated.

7. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 until all eggs and flour are incorporated.

8. Pour in the cooled milk and syrup mixture and beat until smooth and velvety.

9. Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin and bake it for 65-75 minutes, or until a skewer can be inserted and removed clean. (Yes, this is a long bake! This is because it’s all in a single tin. If you want to use this cake for something other than what I’ve done with it, then you can split it between 2-3 tins instead and bake for 20-40 minutes instead.)

10. Remove the cake from the oven and place aside to start on Part B of the recipe while it’s still hot.


300ml pure/single cream
300g dark chocolate
2 tbsp golden syrup

This is just a basic chocolate ganache which I’ve made in previous videos, however this time I’ve added golden syrup too. I’ve done this for two reasons:- (1) it adds to the golden syrup flavour of the cake, and; (2) it makes the ganache nice and shiny, which looks good!

Keep in mind that you don’t have to do this part if you don’t want to. You have a perfectly good cake from Part A that you can use in whatever way you choose. But hopefully you’ll give this a try because it’s such a small amount of effort!


1. Place the chocolate and syrup into a jug.

2. Warm the cream in a saucepan over-medium high heat until it just starts to bubble slightly.

3. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and syrup, allow it to sit for a minute to soften the chocolate, then mix together until everything is melted together and smooth.

4. Use a thick skewer to poke lots of holes in the top of the warm cake. (You can just pierce the surface if you like, but feel free to poke the skewer all the way down to the bottom of the cake.)

5. Pour the warm ganache over the warm cake and leave to soak overnight. (You can leave it for just a couple of hours if you can’t wait, but I would STRONGLY suggest that you leave it overnight.)

6. If the ganache is firm, move on to Step 7. Otherwise, place the cake into the fridge until the ganache is firm before moving on to Step 7.

7. Remove the cake from the tin and unwrap the baking paper.

8. Decorate as desired, then serve with some whipped cream or icecream and maybe some fresh berries. (I simply added a few more sprinkles of pink salt flakes to decorate, but that’s probably not to everyone’s taste.)

Serves 1-12 (being realistic!)

A video of this recipe is also available at - https://youtu.be/FfMVPDKe-Jg.

If you have a recipe to request, it's not too late! Please send me an email and I'll see what I can do.

5 March 2016

4.06 Pork Cutlets w/ Creamy Mustard Gnocchi – Low-Fuss – Meat & Poultry

So, this recipe was requested by a lady who has supported my love of cooking for several years and was one of the people who eventually convinced me to start this blog. No, she isn’t my mother; she’s my flatmate’s mother! Her name is Jen, and she’s possibly the nicest person you could ever hope to meet.

I made this dish for her a couple of years ago when she had come to visit us, and she really liked it. I’m actually really pleased that this was one of the requests I received, as I make it several times a year and had been waiting for the chance to share it.

In all honesty, I basically stole this recipe from one of Nigella Lawson’s cooking shows (“Nigella Express”, Ep. 1) but seeing as Nigella admits that she stole it from a pub in Normandy anyway, it’s all good! I make mine a little differently, but that’s just a matter of taste.

It may sound odd, but I see Nigella as a sort of “kitchen mother”, as she probably my biggest influence when it comes to food. Her first TV series “Nigella Bites” started airing in Australia in 2000 when I was 15 years old, and I’ve been a fan ever since. If you’ve never heard of her, or just never really bothered looking, I highly recommend you swing by her official website to take a look.

6 pork cutlets, trimmed of fat
300ml premium apple cider, at room temperature
300ml pure or single cream
500g potato gnocchi
2 tbsp seeded mustard
Salt and pepper
Grated parmesan (for serving, optional)

Nigella’s version of the recipe calls for pork chops, and for quite some time this was how I did it. Recently I switched to pork cutlets instead because they seem to have more meat. I’ve also tried it with pork scotch fillet steaks, but there’s just something really satisfying about gnawing on a bone.

If you have a favourite apple cider, just use that. My tastebuds can be a bit particular sometimes (especially when it comes to alcohol), so I always go for a premium cider like Rekordelig or Kopparberg. Basically, if you can taste the apples, then use it.

For those who haven’t had it before, seeded mustard is tangy with a bit of sweetness. I think the seeds are probably only there for aesthetic appeal, so you could probably get away with using any sort of tangy-but-sweet mustard, such as Dijon.

The parmesan cheese was definitely not in Nigella’s recipe but, as I’ve said in the past, eating any sort of pasta dish without parmesan just feels odd to me.


1. Heat some oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. (Just a plain oil like rice bran or canola, and only maybe a tablespoon or so.)

2. Place the cutlets in a single layer and fry for 5 minutes on each side. (You do not need to add any seasoning at this stage. Nigella usually whacks the heck out of her pork chops with a rolling pin to make them thinner to cook faster, but I’ve never seen any need for this personally.)

3. Remove the cutlets from the pan, wrap them in some foil, then place aside until needed.

4. Pour the cider into the pan (still on medium-high heat) and stir for approx. 30 seconds to deglaze and burn off some of the alcohol.

5. Add the mustard and stir until combined.

6. Add the cream along with a pinch of salt and pepper and stir until combined.

7. When the sauce begins to bubble, turn it down to a medium heat to simmer and reduce, stirring occasionally. (This will take approx. 5 minutes, so move on to Step 8 as soon as you turn down the heat.)

8. While waiting for the sauce to reduce, bring a large-ish pot of salted water to the boil. (This also takes approx. 5 minutes… imagine that!)

9. Once the sauce has reduced, return the cutlets to the pan (along with any juices) and return it to medium-high heat to simmer for around a minute or so.

10. Place the gnocchi into the boiling water.

11. Turn the pork chops and allow to simmer for another minute or so on the other side, then remove from the pan, but leave the pan on the heat.

12. The gnocchi should now be cooked (they will have floated to the surface), so strain them and add to the pan.

13. Stir the gnocchi through the sauce over the heat until coated and sauce has reduced further.

14. Divide the gnocchi between the serving plates, then sprinkle over some pepper and parmesan cheese. (If you aren’t using parmesan, add some salt instead.)

15. Place one or two cutlets on each plate, spoon over some of the remaining sauce, and serve. (Maybe with a simple garden salad on the side if you can be bothered.)

Serves 3-6

A video of this recipe is also available at - https://youtu.be/HDU1nB9t2Vc.

If you have a recipe to request, it's not too late! Please send me an email and I'll see what I can do.