Stir frying is a general term used to describe a Chinese cooking technique (chǎo) which involves heating a small amount of oil in a wok before adding spices then frying meat and/or vegetables while tossing the ingredients swiftly together. The term was first penned by Buwei Yang Chao in her book How to Cook and Eat Chinese and has since become a conventional description of many other Asian dishes using a similar style of cooking.
I love the tastes and spices in Chinese cooking and I particularly enjoy the light and fresh flavour of this recipe. Its good to have as a side dish but is also delicious on its own.
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
Sliced cuttlefish balls (optional)
about 1 cup chopped Chinese broccoli
about 1 cup chopped zucchini
about 1 cup chopped carrot
about 1 tsp fish sauce
about 2 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
6 tablespoons water
- In a small bowl, combine the Shaoxing wine, sugar, water, cornstarch and fish sauce
- Heat the wok and add the oil. Add the ginger and stir fry until aromatic.
- Add the cuttlefish and swiftly stir fry until cooked. Add the remaining vegetables and stir quickly.
- Add the sauce into the wok and stir until the sauce thickens.
- Transfer the vegetables into a dish and serve immediately.
For last night’s New Year’s Eve dinner, I decided to make Mixed Paella. The Paella is a rice dish that originates from Valencia, Spain. Although many forms of the dish exist, there are three types which are generally more well known, namely the Seafood Paella, Valencian Paella and the Mixed Paella.
The Mixed Paella is comprised of a mixture of seafood, meat, rice and vegetables. It’s a very delicious, festive and colourful dish. Ideal for celebrating the new year 🙂
The Paella is traditionally cooked in a paellera (a flat round pan with two handles) over an open fire and is served directly from the pan. If you don’t own a paellera, you can use a similar kind of flat pan which should also work fine.
To make this Mixed Paella you’ll need:
12 fresh tiger prawns
2 cups water
2 skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into serving pieces
4 chorizo sausages, cubed
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 green capsicum, chopped
1/2 red capsicum, chopped
3 cups medium grain rice
6 cups chicken or fish stock
1 can peeled tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped.
1 tsp saffron
Salt and pepper
1 medium lemon, sliced.
- Clean the mussels then place in a large pan with 1/2 cup of water. Steam until the shells open discarding any that remain closed. Set aside.
- Place the crabs and 1 1/2 cups or so of water in a separate pan and boil until cooked. Set aside.
- In your paellera (or your alternative cooking/serving pan) heat about 4 Tbs olive oil and brown the chicken. Set aside and keep warm.
- In the same pan, cook the chorizo. Transfer to a plate when cooked and keep warm.
- Add the prawns and cook for several minutes until the colour changes. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil.
- Sauté the garlic and onion.
- Add the chopped capsicum, tomato, rice and paprika. Stir until combined then reduce the heat to medium low.
- Add the saffron and 2 cups of the stock. Stir the rice until combined.
- Add the chicken and chorizo along with another 2 cups of the stock. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the remaining stock and simmer for a further 10 minutes or until the stock is absorbed. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir in half the prawns.
- Quarter one crab and stir into the rice. Keep the other for garnishing.
- Arrange the crab, prawns and mussels on top of the rice.
- Turn off the heat and cover with a clean tea towel or with foil. Set aside for about 15-20 minutes.
- Garnish the dish with a few pieces of sliced lemon before serving.
It’s been a while since my last post as I have not had a lot of time (or to be honest, inclination) to blog over the past year. I had considered the idea of giving up food blogging altogether, but as it’s not generally my nature to give up something I have started, I decided that all it and I needed was a break from each other. I think occasionally, I need to take some time away from my passion in order to maintain my interest in it.
At any rate, here I am, back writing about one of my favorite topics. I’m also in the process of importing much of the content from an older blog into this new wordpress one. I don’t believe this recipe was transitioned, but as it is one of my favorite fish recipes, I will re-post it instead.
I don’t eat enough fish because I have very carnivore tastes. It usually takes a good slab of steak sizzling on the grill or lamb cutlets cooking over a barbecue to make my taste buds sing.
Although I don’t usually prefer fish if meat is an alternative, I really enjoy the delicate taste of salmon. This recipe for honey mustard salmon is super easy to prepare and is deliciously succulent. Although my taste buds never burst into spontaneous song when I eat fish, it does hum a tune for this lovely salmon.
4 Salmon cutlets
Approx 2 Tbs dijon mustard
Appox 2 Tbs honey
Approx 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 medium lemon
Salt and pepper
- Combine the mustard, honey and olive oil.
- Zest the lemon and add the zest and juice to the honey, mustard and oil.
- Rub salt and pepper into the salmon cutlets then add to the marinade. Refridgerate at least 30 mins.
- Preheat oven to about 200 degrees celsius and bake the salmon for about 15 mins or until golden and flaky.
Serve with steamed or stir-fried vegetables.
The Pavlova was created in honor of the Russian ballet dancer Anna Matveyevna Pavlova after she toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920’s. She was a renowned dancer, lauded for her grace and beauty. During the peak of her popularity many chefs would create desserts in her honor to coincide with her visits to their countries. Not surprisingly, these desserts would generally be light and airy to reflect her dancing style – eg. meringue based desserts, lights cakes and jellies.
The traditional Pavlova is one such dessert. However, there is some uncertainty as to whether it was first created in New Zealand or Australia. Anna Pavlova toured New Zealand in 1926 and Australia in 1929. Some food writers claim that before her 1926 visit, a recipe had been published in New Zealand for a fruit filled meringue pie. A chef in the hotel she had been staying in apparently used this recipe but created the augmented base after being inspired by her ballet tutu. However, in 1935, a hotel chef Herbert Sachse from Western Australia apparently claimed that he created the modern Pavlova after building upon a recipe for a Meringue Cake which he saw in the Women’s Mirror Magazine April 2, 1935 edition. This recipe was submitted by a contributor from New Zealand. It appears though, that Sachse was the one who actually named the new recipe Pavlova after he noted that the dessert was “as light as Pavlova”*. Consequently, the modern day Pavlova is an iconic dessert claimed by both countries and is a national dessert for both.
As its namesake suggests, it is incredibly light. It’s a lovely dessert, particularly on a warm summer day. Today is also Australia Day and to honor this special day, I thought I would make this traditional Australian dessert. Ahhh…a restful day off, a cold drink and a slice of Pavlova….all I need now is to find a nice spot “under the shade of a coolabah tree”* and there’s little else I could ask for.
To make the Pavlova you’ll need:
1 Tbs cornflour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar
400ml thickened cream
1 punnet strawberries
1 punnet blueberries.
1/2 cup strawberry jam.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
- Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating to a stiff peak. Add the vinegar then mix in the cornflour and vanilla essence.
- Line a cookie sheet with baking paper and pour in the meringue.
- Reduce the oven to 100 degrees and bake the meringue for about 1 hour. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly when the meringue is baked – leave it to cool completely.
- Carefully transfer the cooled meringue onto a serving platter.
- Whip the cream using an electric beater and pour over the cooled meringue base.
- Top with the sliced fruits.
- Heat the jam for a few seconds in a microwave then glaze the fruits with the melted jam.
What is deliciously light, chewy, and can almost always guarantee a smile no matter how long or grey the day may be? What else but theMacaron ? The Lindt Chocolate Bar serves delicious macarons. I love to sink into one of their comfortable chairs with a coffee and macaron as the stress of the day is slowly replaced with contentment.
The macaron was arguably introduced to mainstream Sydney by superstar patissier Adriano Zumbo during his appearances in Master Chef Australia. Since then, his inner city cafe has become a mecca for foodies, pastry lovers and macaron seekers of all kinds.
The modern macaron that Adriano Zumbo introduced was developed by Pierre Desfontaines from the French pâtisserie Ladurée *. It consists of two almond meringue shells filled with buttercream, ganache or jam filling. When I first considered making them from scratch, I decided to reconsider that notion and examine it. They are notoriously difficult to make and require a lot of patience and perseverance. The thought of making these delicate brightly colored biscuits intimidated me. What if I put in all this effort only to have a batch of cracked, deflated cookies? Is it really worth the time and energy? Why bother making them when I can buy them from someone who knows how to make them already? But there the turning point lay – if I let this fear of failure stop me from trying to learn how to master the macaron, then I will spend the rest of my life never knowing this skill. The macaron loomed in my mind, a neon tinted fancy mockingly bwaking chicken…chicken.. ch-ch-chicken! I made up my mind. It was time to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
To make the macarons you’ll need:
3 cups sifted icing sugar
3 cups ground almonds
5 egg whites (aged)
1/3 cup caster sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
Flavouring and food colouring
125g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
Approx 100 ml heavy cream
- Separate the yolks from the whites and leave the egg whites in the fridge to age for at least 24 hours.
- Using an electric blender, grind the almond and powered sugar together until very fine.
- Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and keep whisking until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and continue whisking until the sugar has dissolved.
- Stir in your preferred coloring and flavouring.
- Fold the almond and sugar mixture into the egg whites. Fold carefully, making sure the mixture is fully incorporated.
- Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round 5mm nozzle. Pipe 2cm rounds onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Set meringue aside to dry for about 45 mins (this helps to reduce cracking)
- Preheat the oven to 150 degrees celsius and bake the macarons for about 15 mins or until firm when lightly tapped.
- Allow the macarons to cool on the tray. The macarons should lift from the baking paper easily, but if the bottoms are a little sticky, use a sharp knife to lift them.
- To make the ganache filling, heat the cream and pour it over the chocolate. Mix gently until the chocolate melts. Keep stirring until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. Allow it to cool until the mixture thickens.
- Match up similarly sized macaron shells. Spoon the ganache into a pastry bag and pipe onto one half of the macaron shells before topping with the other macaron shell.
This cake is simple to make and the result is quite lovely. It was something of an experiment, and as an early attempt the results were not exactly as I had envisaged. Still, I think with practice (or if made by a more practiced cook) it has the potential to be quite beautiful. I have decided that this will be a keeper. Consequently, there may be wreath cakes sporadically gracing my family’s table throughout the year before next Christmas hehe.
You can make it with a whole ring cake or with cupcakes. Personally, I prefer using cupcakes and in this instance I used chocolate cupcakes. To make the cupcakes, you’ll need:
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
100g milk chocolate
125g softened butter
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
I opted for cream cheese frosting and for this you’ll need:
125g softened butter
250g cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted icing sugar
Green icing coloring
For the leaves and berries I used:
250g white chocolate
Several bunches of mint leaves.
Green food coloring
- Wash and dry the mint leaves.
- Melt the white chocolate and stir in the green coloring.
- Brush the white chocolate over the mint leaves or dip one side into the melted chocolate. Place on a tray lined with baking paper and allow the chocolate to set.
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celscius and grease muffin pans.
- Combine the water and milk chocolate over low heat, stirring until the chocolate has melted. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
- Beat the sugar and butter until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Sift the flours and cocoa together. Gradually add into the sugar, butter and egg mixture, stirring until just combined.
- Stir in the melted chocolate and spoon into the prepared muffin pans.
- Bake for about 20 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
- To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. Stir in several drops of green coloring and mix well.
- Spoon the frosting into a pastry bag and pipe onto the cupcakes using a large star tip.
- Arrange the cupcakes to form a circle then place additional cupcakes to make a second, inner circle.
- Gently peel off the leaves from the hardened chocolate.
- Arrange the chocolate leaves and jaffas on top of the cupcakes
You can also place chocolate cake truffles in the center of the wreath if you prefer. To make the cake truffles:
- Process the unused cupcakes in a food processor until fine crumbs form.
- Pour the cake crumbs into a large mixing bowl and spoon several tablespoons of the remaining frosting until the mixture forms a dough.
- Roll the mixture into balls and then toss in cocoa powder or dip into melted chocolate. Place the balls in the center of the wreath.