Thursday, 30 November 2017


This is the sort of meal you can make when you don't feel like cooking for hours or if you don't have the time. It's quick, healthy and delicious. I have just invented this recipe tonight. I was going to do a much longer version but got lazy and couldn't be bothered! It's a version of Shakshuka from the Middle East or Huevos al Plato from Spain. Both of them very traditional recipes. Everybody has got their own versions. I wanted to serve it with a bean salad.


2 x 400 g tins chickpeas
400g jar spaghetti sauce - I used Calabrese tonight, but any one with a tomato base could be used.
200 g Serrano Jamon - you can also use prosciutto, but you can get Serrano in Aldi for AU$3.99
4 eggs
1 curly lettuce or any other type
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Put the chickpeas on a strainer and rinse. 
Rinse the lettuce and set apart. 
Heat a non-stick frypan and add the Serrano. 
Cook both sides until crispy. Make sure you don't burn it. 
Remove from pan and keep on a small plate. 
Add a bit of olive oil to the frypan and add the chickpeas . 
Fry for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then. 
Add the spaghetti sauce. Put a small amount of water in the jar, shake it with the lid on and add to the chickpeas. 
Cook for about 5 minutes. 
Make for small holes in the pan with a wooden spoon and crack one egg on each one. 
Cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Do not overcook.

To serve, put lettuce on a plate and dress with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Put the chickpeas and egg next to the lettuce and add crunchy bits of serrano on top of both the lettuce and the chickpeas. 

Serves 2

If you cook the traditional one, it will have more complexity of flavours, but this one turned out quite nicely.


This salad is nicer when the eggplant is still warm. The combination with the tomato salsa dressing is just awesome. From 'Simple Chinese cooking'.

You can prepare the tomato dressing early in the day and let it marinade until you need it.  Do not put it in the fridge, though. The tomatoes are going to lose their flavour.


2 medium-sized eggplants
1 Tbsp sea salt
vegetable oil for deep-frying
2 Tbsp finely sliced spring onions
pinch of Sichuan pepper and salt

Tomato dressing
4 small tomatoes, diced
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely sliced spring onions
1/4 cup finely chopped coriander leaves
2 Tbsp malt vinegar
1 Tbsp white sugar
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Trim the eggplants and slice them into 1.5 cm rounds. Place the slices on a tray in one even layer, sprinkle with salt on both sides and let it stand for 45 minutes.
Pat dry with kitchen paper to remove any bitter juices.

Meanwhile, tomake the dressing, combine all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

You can use normal tomatoes as per recipe, but I like it better with a mixture of small tomatoes, especially if they are on special.

Heat the oil in a hot wok until the surface seems to shimmer slightly. Add the eggplant and deep-fry for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and tender.
Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Arrange the fried eggplant on a platter and top with the Tomato dressing. Sprinkle with spring onions and Sichuan pepper and salt and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6 as part of a banquet
You can have it as a vegetarian main dish or as a side dish. You can also cook the eggplant beforehand and leave it on kitchen paper. Make sure the eggplant is cooked properly and it is soft inside. Just before serving put it in the microwave for a couple of minutes or warm it in the oven. 


This is a very quick and simple Chinese dish. It is very tasty and a good way to eat tofu, especially if you are not that keen on its taste. The tofu takes on the flavours of the sauce and it's really yummy. Make sure you use silken tofu for this recipe, though. From 'Simple Chinese Cooking'.


300g silken tofu
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
200g pork mince
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1/3 cup Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 Tbsp white sugar
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp ground Sichuan pepper and salt
1/3 cup water
2 tsp malt vinegar
1/2 tsp chilli oil
1 cup finely shredded iceberg lettuce
1 tomato, finely sliced
2 Tbsp finely sliced spring onions
pinch Sichuan pepper and salt, extra

Gently remove the tofu from packet and invert onto a plate. 
Carefully cut into 20 cubes by cutting lengthways into 4 equal slices, then widthways into 5.
Heat oil in a hot wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly. Add pork, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute.
Add wine, sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and Sichuan pepper and salt and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
Pour in water and stir-fry for a further 30 seconds.
Carefully slide tofu into wok with vinegar and chilli oil, gently separating tofu as it falls into pork mixture.
Reduce and simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes or until pork is cooked through.

All in all, preparation and cooking, doesn't take much. About 20 - 25 minutes.The first time I cooked it, I followed the recipe, but found it too salty. This time I have halved the amount of Sichuan pepper and salt. I also used brown sugar instead of white.

Spoon braised tofu into a shallow bowl and top with lettuce and tomato. 
Garnish with spring onions and sprinkle with extra Sichuan pepper and salt.

Serves 4-6 as part of a banquet

Monday, 27 November 2017


This very simple Burmese recipe is just delicious. I have made it for many years, and it always turns out great. I only used 1/2 a teaspoon of chilli (not the 1 1/2 teaspoons from recipe!!) .... and still found it a bit too hot for my liking. I use any kind of white fish available to make the koftas. This time I added about 300 g of prawn meat to the mince. I replaced the anchovy sauce with fish sauce and used a mixture of olive and sesame oil. Also, I used a tin of chopped tomatoes instead of the fresh ones. If you have good fish stock available, use it instead of the water. It gives more flavour to the sauce. 😀 From 'The complete Asian Cookbook'.


Fish koftas
1 kg fish fillets
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 slices white bread, soaked in hot water and squeezed dry
1 tsp anchovy paste or sauce, optional

1/4 cup sesame oil
3 medium onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp ground turmeric
1-2 tsp chilli powder, optional
1 tsp paprika, optional
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried shrimp paste (ngapi) 
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 Tbsp lemon juice

With a sharp knife remove skin from fish. Finely mince fish taking care to remove bones. (To do this without a mincer, cut fillets in thin slices lengthways, then chop finely across). Put minced fish in a large bowl, add remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly with the hands. Shape the mixture into walnut size balls or koftas (this quantity should make 24 balls).

I used a food processor to mince the fish fillets, together with the rest of the ingredients, to make the koftas. I find that if I wet my hands a bit, the mince doesn't stick to my hands as much. The koftas should be the size of a walnut. Try to make them earlier and leave them covered in the fridge for about 30 minutes or more before adding them to the sauce.

Curry: Heat oil in large frying pan and fry onion, garlic and ginger until soft and golden. Add turmeric, remove from heat and add chilli powder and paprika (if used), tomato and salt. (In Burmese cooking the amount of chilli used would be enough to give a red colour to the gravy, but the paprika is suggested here as a substitute for a portion of it, with chilli used to suit individual tastes.)
Wrap dried shrimp paste in aluminium foil and cook uncer the griller for a few minutes on each side. Unwrap, dissolve in the water and add to the gravy. Cook gravy until tomato is soft and pulpy. If gravy seems too reduced, add a little hot water. There should be enough gravy to almost cover the fish koftas. 
Gently put the fish koftas in the gravy and simmer over a moderate heat until they are cooked, about 20 minutes. Shake pan gently from time to time. Do not stir until fish is cooked and firm or the koftas might break.
Stir in the chopped coriander leaves and lemon juice and cook 5 minutes longer.
Serve with white rice and Balachaung (optional).

Sometimes, if I don't have the time to prepare the koftas, I make the curry and then put fish fillets cut into bite size pieces directly in the sauce and let them simmer for about 5 minutes or until cooked. Mullet (not my favourite fish) is one type of fish that goes well with this recipe.

Friday, 24 November 2017


Love asparagus, and when they are in season, you can buy them quite cheaply - $1 a bunch! This recipe is yummy! From the cookbook 'Fresh + Fast'.

This pork recipe is a version of two recipes, one from Jamie Oliver and the other is a traditional Italian recipe called Saltimbocca a la Romana. My recipe is a mixture of the two.



4-6 pork scotch fillets (or 1 pork fillet butterflied and cut into small portions)
6 garlic tooth, finely sliced
15 sage leaves (if they are small, less if they are big)
15 - 20 g butter
150 ml white wine
salt and pepper
olive oil

Season the fillets with salt and pepper and fry them in a non-stick frypan with a bit of olive oil. When lightly brown transfer to an ovenproof serving dish and keep in the oven (while the asparagus are cooking).

Add the butter to the frypan and when melted, add the garlic and the sage. Make sure you stir the garlic so that it doesn't burn. Cook until lightly brown. Add the wine and cook until it has reduced by half.

Pour on top of the pork fillets and serve immediately.

Serves 2



32 asparagus spears
2 Tbs olive oil
10 mint leaves
a handful of Italian parsley leaves
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
50 g Bulgarian feta cheese (or any feta)


Preheat grill to 200C.
Trim the asparagus of any woody stems, brush with the oil and season with freshly ground black pepper.
Place the stems in a single layer on a baking tray and roast turning occasionally for about 10 minutes or until tender and slightly darkened.
Season with sea salt.
Arrange on a serving platter with the mint and parsley leaves.
Crumble the feta cheese over the top.
To finish, combine the lemon juice and zest and spoon over the asparagus.

Serves 4


I decided to make this cold soup because I bought 2 punnets of strawberries at half-price, $1.25 each!! They also had baby cucumbers and cherry tomatoes on special. I had never tried this recipe before, but have made Gazpacho many times. I have changed the recipe a bit. From 'Home Cooking'.

Gazpacho is a very traditional summer cold soup from the south of the Spain. Every family have their own recipe, and basically the ingredients are the same, but some people vary their quantities. It is very healthy and delicious. No cooking is necessary. 

2 x 250g punnets strawberries, hulled
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red capsicum, chopped
2 Lebanese cucumbers, seeds removed, chopped
1 small bunch Italian parsley
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 cup tomato juice or 200g cherry tomatoes (plus 200 ml water)
Salt and pepper 
a pinch of brown sugar
Thinly sliced jamon or prosciutto and croutons, to serve

Reserve 2 strawberries for garnish.
Place the remaining strawberries in a glass or ceramic bowl with the garlic, onion, capsicum, cucumber, parsley, vinegar, oil and either the tomato juice or the fresh tomatoes and water (whatever you are using).

Use a stick blender to puree the strawberry mixture until smooth. (Alternatively, puree in batches in a blender).
(Make sure you blend it very well. I used a hand blender and it took me about 15 minutes to get it to the right consistency.) 

Cover and stand for 2-3 hours to allow the flavours to develop.
(I used fresh tomatoes instead of tomato juice. Add some water instead. It's very important to let the vegetables rest, and always tastes  better the following day.)

Pass the soup through a sieve into a clean bowl, pressing down with the back of a spoon to extract as much juice as possible and discarding the solids.
(Normally, with the traditional gazpacho, I don't strain it, but I did with this one because the seeds from the strawberries made it not too nice to eat.)
Season and chill the soup for at least 30 minutes.

Cook the jamon and make the croutons - see below. Finely slice the reserved 2 strawberries. Ladle the chilled soup into bowls and drizzle with extra oil.

Serve garnished with the sliced strawberries, croutons and the crunchy jamon or prosciutto.

Serves 4

I made my own. Cut the crusts from 2 slices of wholemeal bread (I used soy and linseed) and then cut the bread into very small cubes. Put in a bowl with a splash of oil, salt and pepper or if you prefer some focaccia spices or similar. Mix well together, put them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and put it under a preheated grill for about 1-2 minutes. You should check it as they burn very easily. Turn over halfway. Remove from oven and let them cool down. Once they are cold, you can store the croutons in a plastic container and use them later or even the following day.

Jamon or prosciutto
I put the Serrano on a hot non-stick frypan and let it cook for about 1 minute each side. Remove and put on a plate and let it cool. I prefer it crunchy for this recipe. Cut into small pieces and serve it on top of gazpacho with croutons, the strawberries and some finely chopped cucumber (optional) for a bit of texture.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017


This is a scrumptious salad I only make when the peaches are in season and cheap. It could go very well as part of a Christmas banquet. From the book Fresh + Fast.

This time I have used white peaches, but it works very well with yellow ones too, or even a mixture of both. I have also used rocket and baby spinach and bocconcini.


4 small ripe peaches
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar or finishing vinegar
1 buffalo mozzarella cheese or bocconcini
100g (2 1/4 cups) baby rocket leaves
250g leg ham, finely sliced off the bone
40g (1/3 cup) pecans, roughly chopped


Halve the peaches and remove the skin before slicing them into a bowl. (I don't bother to peel them!!)

Tear the mozzarella into bite-size pieces. Arrange the rocket on a serving platter and top with the leg ham and mozzarella. Add the peaches and pecans. 
Add the olive oil and season lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar.
Serves 4


This is the first time I have made this cake. It is not your 'traditional' cake but I really liked it. It is not too sweet and goes really well with the mascarpone. Nice for morning or afternoon tea. Put splash of maple syrup or date syrup on the mascarpone and you'll bring it to a higher level 😁. From 'Love to cook'

I used brown sugar instead of caster sugar, and it gave the cake this darker colour when cooked.

1 1/2 cups (225g) plain flour
3/4 cup (120g) wholemeal or spelt flour
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups (310ml) fruity extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 small pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1cm pieces (to give 2 cups)
2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1/4 cup (35g) currants
Mascarpone, to serve
Maple syrup, to serve (optional)

Preheat oven to 180C.
Grease a 26cm, 3cm deep loose bottom tart pan. 
(I didn't have a tart pan so I used a normal loose-bottom cake pan. Make sure you put the cake pan on top of a baking dish covered with oven-proof paper. Otherwise, you will have some oil leaking from the cake all over the oven!!!)

Stir together flours into a bowl. Add sugar and baking powder.
Beat eggs, olive oil and vanilla, then add to the flour mixture, stirring to combine.
Gently fold through pear, rosemary, and currants (with any soaking liquor, if using). 
(I soaked the currants in Marsala, but only the time it took me to get the rest of the ingredients ready - about 30 min. They recommend to soak them overnight with Marsala or brandy!)

Spoon batter into tart pan, then bake for 55 minutes or until cake is golden and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Serve warm or at room temperature with mascarpone mixed with a bit of maple syrup (if using).

Serves 6-8

Monday, 20 November 2017


I make this recipe about twice a month. It's so simple and yet so moreish!! It takes the same time to cook so I put the chicken and potatoes in a fan-forced oven, but in different baking dishes. 😋😍💛 From the cookbooks 'Crisp' & 'Fresh + Fast'.


3 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 tsp thyme (fresh better)
salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, garlic and thyme in a large bowl. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat the pieces in the mixture, then marinate in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

I usually don't have time to marinate the chicken for two hours, so I just put the marinade on the chicken and straight in the oven. It's really good!
Put the chicken in a ceramic baking tray roast them in a preheated oven until cooked, about 45 minutes.

Turn over the chicken after 30 minutes. 
Serve with the potatoes.

Serves 4


These potatoes are to die for!! I could eat them everyday!

1 kg washed new potatoes
olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
6 fresh rosemary sprigs
Sea salt flakes

Preheat oven to 180C fan-forced.
Put the potatoes in a large pan of cold water and bring to the boil. When the water is boiling, cover the pan with a lid and remove from the heat.
Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then drain.

If you have the time, let the potatoes cool in the strainer for about 20 minutes after they have been boiled. The steam evaporates and that helps the potatoes to crisp more easily. I use a pestle to smash them once they have been boiled. That also helps to make them crispier.
Put the boiled potatoes on a baking tray and with the back of a large spoon or a pestle, lightly crush each potato until it just begins to split.

Drizzle the potatoes with the olive oil and lemon juice, then add the rosemary and a generous sprinkle of sea salt.
Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

Turn over the potatoes half-way while they are cooking.
Serves 6

Make sure you pour some of the juices on top of the chicken. It's so tasty you want to lick your fingers.....

Sunday, 19 November 2017


This is a weekend recipe as it takes a bit to cook, especially if you are making your own shortcrust pastry. It is delicious!😋 If you make your own pastry you need to plan ahead, as it takes about one and a half hours of resting. To tell you the truth, this is the second time I make it, the first time I used bought pastry and this time I made it myself. I can tell you the difference is just amazing. It went from being a very good recipe to being an amazing one !! It's worth the effort.

I cooked the vegetables earlier in the day and then I reheated them while preheating the oven for the pastry.

1 small eggplant
1 red capsicum, halved, seeds removed
2 small zucchini
1 red onion
1 small sweet potato, peeled
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100 ml olive oil
1 x 375 g block shortcut pastry (or make your own - recipe below)
300 g ricotta
2 eggs
1/2 (50g) grated parmesan
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

If you are making your own pastry, do this first (see recipe here)
Preheat oven to 190C.
Grease a 30cm x 11cm loose-bottomed, rectangular tart pan.
Cut the eggplant, capsicum, zucchini, onion and sweet potato into 2cm chunks. 
Place in a bowl with the garlic and olive oil, and toss to coat in the oil.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through and slightly charred, then set aside.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface.
Line the prepared pan with the pasty, then line that with baking paper.
Fill with pastry weights or rice and blind bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the weights and paper.
Meanwhile, beat together the ricotta, eggs, Parmesan and rosemary.
Fill the pre-baked tart shell with the ricotta mixture and place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until set.
Top with the roasted vegetables, then return to the oven for 5 minutes to warm through.

Garnish with the extra rosemary, if desired.

Serves 4

Saturday, 18 November 2017


This pasta dish is full of Mediterranean flavours and it takes only 30 minutes to make. Love it! From the cookbook 'Lunch'. 


500g farfalle or any other small pasta
500g tuna steaks
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 ripe roma (plump) tomatoes, finely chopped
3 Tbsp capers
small jar of anchovy fillets, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup olives, seeds removed and roughly chopped (optional)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp chopped chervil or parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of rapidly boiling water until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, make the tomato mixture. Put all ingredients in a work processor and chop. Do not overdo it.

I love anchovies and olives and sometimes crave for them, and it certainly adds more flavour to the dish, but you don't have to use them. If you do, add a cup of deseeded olives and a jar of anchovies, chopped roughly to the tomato and capers. I use parsley instead of chervil.

Drain pasta and return to the pan. Add some olive oil and mix.

Season the tuna steaks with salt and pepper and then coat the tuna on both sides with the crushed garlic.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan and cook the tuna over high heat until medium-rare.

Remove from the pan and leave for 5 minutes before cutting into thin slices.
Put the pasta onto a serving bowl. Add the tomato mix, and lime juice to the pasta.

Add the tuna (with any juices) and toss together.

Serve immediately.
Serves 4-6

The trick to the dish is to cook the tuna properly. DO NOT OVERCOOK IT!! I remember when growing up in Catalonia, one of my grandmothers (who was a very good cook) use to make a fresh tuna dish and I hated it!! Tuna was very cheap then, believe it or not. I now know why I despised it so much: she cooked the tuna until it resembled a shoe sole!! When cooked properly, it melts in your mouth and it is DELICIOUS!!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017


This is a very simple and delicious recipe from Neil Perry. I have varied the actual recipe and made it a lot easier. I used deboned chicken thighs instead of chicken breast. They both work very well. Sometimes, I also add some truffle oil or any other flavoured oil I have in the pantry to the greens. Just delicious!


150 g lemongrass and ginger butter (see below)
600 g chicken breast fillets or thigh fillets, cut thinly
1 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

steamed Asian greens, to serve
sesame oil, garlic oil, chilli oil and light soy sauce, to serve

Lemongrass and ginger butter
2 Tbsp thinly sliced lemongrass, white part only
1 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 French shallots, peeled and diced
juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp caster sugar
100 g diced unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

To make the butter, blend the lemongrass in a food processor until very fine, then add the ginger, garlic and shallots and blend again.
Combine the remaining ingredients, except the butter, with the lemongrass and ginger mixture and blend until a smooth paste forms. 
Transfer the paste to a mixing bowl and fold through the butter. Check for seasoning.

Put the Asian greens in a steamer and cook to your liking. I usually steam them for about 10 minutes.
Put 1/3 of the butter in a frying pan. When the butter has almost melted, add the chicken and stir well. 
Cook until the chicken is lightly browned and cooked through.
Serve with steamed Asian greens with a splash of the oils and soy sauce.

Serves 3-4
The steam greens are just delicious with only some flavoured oil and soy sauce or tamari. Put some water to boil in a steamer and cook the vegetables at the same time you cook the chicken. It takes about 10 - 12 minutes only. 

Lemongrass and ginger butter: This quantity allows you to make this recipe THREE times. I just keep it in the fridge in a jar for when I want to use it or you can also freeze it.