Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wednesday - Crispy chicken with soba noodle salad

I felt I had been cooking heavy meals so wanted to try something lighter. I had some Dukkha sitting in the cupboard that I had bought on a recent trip to Kangaroo Valley that I wanted to use as it is so delicious (the photo in my profile was taken at the cellar door where I bought it. If you are heading to Kangaroo Valley you MUST visit Yarwawa Estate. Well worth the bumpy and long drive). I had a look around my fridge and found some parmesan and soon realised that I had the makings of a coating for crispy chicken. Some julienne carrot and snow peas along with some soba noodles make for a fresh salad topped of with a dressing made with the juice of a fresh lime ( another side note, we can’t wait until our lime tree is fruiting as Luke paid $1.10 for one lime!!! ).

Maybe not the best winter warmer but tasty for a lunch time picnic or summer dinner.

1 glass of good quality white wine
Small dish of very good quality extra virgin olive oil
Small dish of dukkha
Small pieces of good quality bread

Crispy Chicken
300g chicken breast cut into thin strips or pieces
½ Cup plain flour
4-5 good sized teaspoons of Dukkha. If you don’t have Dukkha you can use finely crushed nuts such as walnuts and almonds and add a little bit of seasoning.
¼ cup finely shredded parmesan
1 egg whisked

1 bundle of thick soba noodles. The brand I use comes in a pack of three bundles.
½ cut into thin batons
Handful of snow peas cut into thin strips
1 tsp sesame seeds

Juice of 1 lime
½ teaspoon seaseme oil
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated ginger

With glass of wine in hand dip bread in EVOO then into the dukkha. Drink, eat and enjoy. Now start dinner.

In a medium sized bowl combine flour, dukkha and parmesan
Set up a production line close ( to eliminate mess ) in the following order:
Chopping board with chicken, bowl with whisked egg, bowl of flour mix clean plate for coated chicken.
Coat a piece of chicken well in egg then in flour mix. Ensure the chicken is covered well.
Repeat for the rest of the chicken.
Place coated chicken in a lightly oiled hot pan ensuring no pieces are overlapping. If you don’t have a large enough pan you may need to do this in a couple of batches.

Cook until the pieces are golden brown. This should not take long if your pieces are nice and thin. Watch the chicken so the coating does not burn. You don’t want to over cook the chicken either as it will dry out and become chewy with the coating.
Once all pieces are cooked place on a plate with some baking paper.

In a pot of boiling water cook soba noodles until tender ( much faster than regular pasta ).

While waiting for the soba to cook you can make the dressing.

Add the dressing ingredients into a bowl and whisk well. Done! Be sure to taste it as you may wish to add other flavours such as chilli sauce or even a drop of Tabasco for a kick.

30 seconds before they are ready add in snow peas and carrot to blanch.
Drain pasta and veggies and put it back in the pot.
Pour on dressing ( leave about 1 tbsp ) and toss gently ( anything too vigourous will make the snow peas fall apart )

To serve put salad on a plate and top with chicken. Drizzle the remaining dressing on the chicken.
Finally sprinkle sesame seeds over plate.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday - Steak and Mash

Steak and mash is an Aussie favourite. Every pub serves it but goodness they can vary! From dry, tasteless bookends to juicy sweet meals with the works.

Tonight I wanted to cook a steak and mash that was just a little bit different than normal.

I marinated the steak for over an hour before cooking (on the stove, couldn’t be bothered to take the cover of the BBQ ). I made my mash with sweet potato with a few naughty add-ins. And, to top it off, I attempted my first ever red wine sauce.
Overall the different textures and the acidity of the sauce made for a tasty dish.

Give it a go!

Steak. I had one 400g piece for 2.
Splash sweet chilli sauce
Splash Soy Sauce

2 big handfuls of sweet potato cut into large pieces
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp butter
Little splash of thickened crème

Red wine sauce
1 cup red wine
1 good-sized tbsp butter
¼ thickened crème
4 cherry tomatoes cut in half.

Soak steak in marinade and cover for at least one hour.

Boil sweet potato until tender and drain.
Mash with crème, butter and parmesan

In a small pot bring red wine to the boil.
After about 1 minute add in butter and crème.
Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes, mixing to ensure it doesn’t catch.
Add in tomatoes and continue to simmer.

Cook steak to your liking.

To serve put a dollop of mash on a plate, the steak then the tomatoes. Finally drizzle the sauce all over.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Pantry Full

Tonight I made another wonton soup. We only shop every two weeks so the challenge was to make something with the basics left in the cupboard. So wonton soup was the answer and it was also a great chance to use up all the wrappers I had from earlier in the week ( despite the fact that they only cost $1.50 ).

The dish was great so more on that another day. However, it got me thinking that I should share what my cupboard basics are… those basic things I keep on hand for the Sunday when you need to create something from nothing.

Here are my top 10 pantry items that I am never without:

1. French onion soup mix – great for a simple stew or gravy base. I buy a few sachets at a time so there is always some there.
2. Chicken stock
3. Gravox – sometimes I will use this in a stew to thicken it a little
4. If you don’t use a lot of herbs buy mixes such as ‘Italian Herbs’
5. Soy sauce
6. Sweet Chilli Sauce
7. Miso Paste
8. 2 minute Noodles
9. Tomato soup
10. Hoisin Sauce

If there is anything you keep on hand, let me know!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Last Saturday -Wonton Noodle Soup

Have you ever tried a Wonton Noodle Soup? If not, you must! They are hot with little bursts of delicious flavour. A favourite of mine is from a place called Happy Chef in Newtown. The broth is really gingery with just a few veggies and chicken. The wontons are also the best I have ever tried! Not the neatest dish to each as you slurp up the delicious soft rice noodles (a plus for Happy Chef as most other places offer them with egg noodles) and negotiate the piping hot wontons from the bowl to your mouth, but well worth it. I also love the way that you are given a little bowl of soy and chilli sauce so you can add to you liking.
I have a made a couple batches of my own wontons which I fill with a 50/50 mix of beef mince and sausage mince ( I have not yet tried with prawns as Luke is not a fan, besides Dad says mine are delicious! Shux Dad ).

The other day while having a look around 101cookbooks I stumbled across a recipe for Pea Dumplings and I thought these would be a perfect wonton for my soup!
So on Saturday night after a visit to Thomas Dux (who knew they sold wonton wrappers?) I was off to the kitchen and whizzing away and to my delight it worked! Luke enjoyed them so much he asked that I make them again this week! (Not so common for Luke to be that excited about one of my meals, spoilt boy really!)


See for ingredients for wontons. I made ¼ of the batch to feed 2 people.

2 Eggs whisked

Broth ( enough for 4 ):
2 Litres of good quality chicken stock ( for this one I use something like a pre-packaged Campbell’s and add a little powder for extra flavour )
2 carrots cut into chunky pieces
2 bunches of baby Bok Choy chopped into chunky slices ( use the whole vegatble not just the leaves! )
3 good sized tsp of ginger ( I used a jar today as I had non fresh )
1 good sized tsp garlic
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ finly sliced spring onions
couple of drops of fish sauce
pinch of salt
If you like chilli add some in too!

1 handful of softened rice noodles

Add all broth ingredients into a stock pot and bring to the boil. Now reduce it to a simmer and put the lid on while you make the wontons.

To make wontons follow the instructions on Below are my tips.
1. I put all ingredients in the mixer at once. Just means fewer things to clean.
2. Use a piece of baking paper underneath your wrappers when filling. Again allows for ease of cleaning.
3. I learnt how to fold my wrappers differently, the steps are below.
4. I boil mine rather than steam. This can be done in the stock pot so less cleaning up!

With the whisked egg spread a little on the edges of the wrapper. (This acts as a glue to help the edges stick together)
To ‘wrap them‘; fold wrappers in half to form a triangle.
Press edges down to ensure no air pockets are left (if air is trapped they will float so will not give you a clear indication of when they are cooked)
Now get two corners and over lay them. See picture for more detail.

Shortly before serving place wontons into broth.
You will know when they are ready when they float to the top.

If you like, with the leftover egg you can make an egg pancake by frying it up in a frypan.
Cut it into thin trips and when serving place a few in the bowl.

To serve put the softened rice noodles in the bottom of a bowl and ladle some broth and veggies on top.
Finally, place 4- 6 (depending on how hungry you are!) wontons on the very top.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday – Sweet potato dumplings with soba noodles served in miso. For one!

I don’t know many people who enjoy cooking for one. The quantities are tricky and often you just can’t be bothered. Today I received a call at work from Luke telling me he had a work do so wouldn’t be home for dinner. So, rather than ordering take away I decided to use this opportunity to try out something new (that he might not like!).
I didn’t want to go to the shops so thought about what I might have in the cupboard.
Miso soup paste, soba noodles and some left over wontons wrappers from my wonton noodle soup (yet to be added from the other night, it is coming I promise!).
It resulted in a beautiful mild soup with tasty sweet potato dumplings that burst with flavour. Another fun one to eat while you try get those slippery noodles from the bowl to your mouth!
I only just finished eating it and was so excited to share it I got typing!

Please do give it a go and let me know what you think.

A few notes before you start though…
I have a mild white miso. It comes in a packet of little sachets for single serve.
I use a thicker soba noodle as I prefer the texture and they don’t go gluggy so quickly.
I also baked my sweet potato for a richer flavour, if you are more pressed for time you can cook it in the microwave or on the stove.
Obviously, if you want to make this for more than one, multiply the recipe by the amount of people you plan to feed.


2 handfuls of sweet potato in thin cubes
Generous tea spoon ricotta
Drizzle of oil
4- 6 wonton wrappers

Just enough soba noodles to fill your tummy

One sachet white miso
Little splash of soy
Small amount of finely sliced spring onions
2 cups water

To make dumplings:
Pre heat oven to 200 degrees ( non fan forced )
Place sweet potato onto a lined baking tray and lightly over in oil and salt.
Bake for 30 mins (or until cooked )
Once cooked remove from oven and put it into a mixing bowl.
Add ricotta and with a potato masher (or you might like to put it into a food processor but I didn’t want to have to clean it ! ) mash until ingredients are well mixed. ( a little bit lumpy is ok ! )
Spoon mixture into the centre of the wrappers
Fold wrappers in half and press edges well

To make soup:
Boil water
Add in miso paste and mix well
Add in soy to taste and spring onions
Reduce heat to a simmer

To cook noodles and dumplings:
In a pot of boiling water put in noodles and dumplings
Cook for 3-4 mins.

To serve:
Put noodles and dumplings in the bowl and cover with soup… THAT EASY!!

I hope you enjoy.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Friday - Meatballs

I love, love, love meatballs! On Friday I felt like trying something different so along with the beef mince, egg and breadcrumbs (which I realised the next morning turned out to be bran… not recommended) I added some shredded Parmesan, Tasty and a few generous teaspoons of Ricotta. With a few extra herbs it made for a nice smooooth mix.

The best thing though about meatballs is how easy it is to adjust to your liking. The sauce is as simple as opening a jar of your favourite pasta sauce and adding just a couple of extras.

Give it a go one night when you are in the mood for spag bol but up are for something different!

300g Beef mince (beef or lamb is best for this tomato based sauce, chicken mince is a better option for a creamy sauce)
¼ packet or 1/5 cup fresh breadcrumbs
¼ cup tasty cheese
¼ parmesan cheese
2 good-sized teaspoon of ricotta
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp BBQ sauce
1 onions roughly chopped
Tiny splash of soy sauce
2 tsp Italian herbs

1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce. We use a red wine and garlic variety.
1 tsp Italian herbs

Enough cooked pasta for 4 (enough to have the next day!)

Sprinkle of parsley to garnish

Mix all meatball ingredients until mixture is smooth.
Roll into small balls and in a hot saucepan sear the meatballs (you may need to do this in one or two batches depending on your saucepan)
When all are cooked on the outside add in pasta sauce, and Italian herbs
Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally so that the mix does not catch on saucepan

After about 30 mins add in cooked pasta and simmer for 10 mins.

Serve with some Parmesan and parsley


New Skills

A few months ago I enrolled my Mum and myself into a ‘Cupcakes with Flair’ course to be held at Baulkham Hills Tafe. Saturday was the day that out skills were tested, so with all the enthusiasm we could muster for a Saturday morning we headed to the kitchen come class room to see what we could learn.

4 hours later and we had 12 patty cakes finely decorated with different techniques. We leant how to perfectly reduce chocolate, master a glossy ganache and pipe to perfection.

Only time will tell how much I actually learnt from this class…

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A new camera

Well, I can be quite the impulse buyer. The impulse this week led me to buy a brand new Olympus E 420 digital SLR! I have very little photography skills past those required to point and shoot my little Olympus compact. Regardless of this I am extremely excited by my new toy and am impressed by what I have seen from it so far. This cool camera isn't just for me though, it is also for all of you. With it I plan to take mouth-watering pictures of my dinners so that you have a better idea of what the end result should look like. My first attempt was with tonight's stir-fry and I apologise for its lack of design finesse. But please do keep an eye out as I post more and I would love your feedback or suggestions on how I can improve my skills.

Thursday – Chicken citrus stir-fry with rice served on an egg net

I don’t know about the rest of your but I have been watching Master Chef and it has left me feeling rather inspired to just give It a go.
So, with the wind of inspiration in me, today I set out to make a stir-fry that was different to all the others I have made.

To make the egg nets you will need one egg whisked well.
In a hot flat based saucepan finely drizzle the egg to form a cross hatched pattern.
When the egg is just cooked remove from pan with a flat spatula.
Place on a plate while you make the Stir Fry

300 g chicken cut into flat pieces
1 carrot cut into small cubes
½ cup corn kernels
¼ finely sliced snow peas
¼ cup finely slices spring onion
¼ Capsicum finely sliced
1 lemon
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp garlic
2 tsp brown sugar
¾ cup boiled rice

2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp sweet chili sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp brown sugar

In a hot fry pan or wok cook chicken in garlic until lightly brown
Add carrot in and cook for 2 mins until it begins to soften (I prefer it a little crunchy but Luke likes soft carrot so I oblige)
Squeeze in juice of one lemon & soy sauce and stir well.
Now add in the sweet chilli sauce and brown sugar
Cook on a low heat while you make to sauce

The sauce could not be easier. Whisk the 4 ingredients together with a fork! Too easy!

1 minute before serving add in corn, spring onion, capsicum and snow peas. These are all veggies that don’t like to be over cooked.

To serve, put half cup of rice on each plate (I wanted to go all out so used a half cup measure that was lightly oiled to mould the rice into shape) to one side of the egg net.
Serve up the stir-fry then drizzle the dressing over the whole dish. Add a piece of mint to the rice and there we have it, chicken citrus stir-fry.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday - Dinner Out, Cha Plu

Well tonight we were very very slack and had dinner out.
If you walk 10 mins through Russell Lea you come across a quiet Thai place called Cha Plu. This fashionably decorated restaurant offers tasty meals at good prices. We have eaten in twice now and had take away two times also. The meals are all delicious with fresh produce, tender meats and well-presented plates. Tonight we had the Massamun beef and the Thai fried rice. The beef was amazing, full of fragrant pieces of tender pink meat that simply melted in our mouths. Unlike many version of this dish it was not served with soggy potato chucks, rather one roasted whole potato. The fried rice was full of fresh veggies with tones of snow peas, broccoli and other crunchy pieces.
The take away (with free delivery!) comes in brown paper bags with the menu attached. The menu however is a decent piece of design unlike the thousand others that we receive in the post each week.
All in all we give this place a 9/10 and a highly recommended. We will most definitely be back!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kitchen Loves - Mixmaster

Like many people lately I was hit with the baking bug. While I longed for a Kitchenaid Mixmaster I was blessed with something even better. This Christmas my Nana gave me something very precious. Her original Kenwood Mixmaster. This beast is in amazing condition considering it is over 35 years old! With all original pieces such as dough hook and splash cover it even comes with the original instruction book.
I fired it up tonight for the first time. While the cake was awful (my first ever attempt at a sponge) the Kenwood was amazing. It whirred up like it was brand new and beat the egg/sugar mixture to perfection.
So, anyone in the market for a Mixmaster ( a must really for any good kitchen ) don't think you have to spend big and buy a new one. A good condition second hand one will do just as good a job (even if it isn’t a shiny red sculpture!).

Tuesday - Beef stew with dumplings

Tonight I went for a winter warmer. My Mum makes an awesome stew with amazing dumplings (she also makes golden syrup dumplings which I might share one day ) which were always sure to please the ever growing crowds.

So, inspired by Mum's Kitchen here is my take on a Beef Stew with Dumplings.

*It may look like allot of ingredients but it is all stuff you will probably find in the fridge and cupboard. I like to think that stew is one of those meals you can pull together when all else fails.

300g steak cut into chunky cubes (we buy whatever is on special... it will be stewed for a while so pick a cut that takes well to hot & wet conditions :-p)
splash of oil
1/2 cup seasoned plain flour
handful pumpkin cut into large cubes
half a carrot cut into thick rounds
1 onion cut into thick chunks
1 large, very ripe tomato
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup hot chicken stock (I make mine from a powder so make it on the strong side)
slosh of red wine vinegar
larger slosh of white wine (something we always have in the fridge for some strange reason)
salt and pepper
sprinkle of 'Italian Herbs' (rosemary, basil, parsley etc would all work)
1/4 cup tomato paste

1 cup self raising flour
1 tbsp herbs
100 ml water (I used sparkling mineral water for something different)
30 g melted butter

Cover beef well in seasoned flour
In a hot, deep oiled saucepan seal beef until brown
Add in onion and cook a little
Slosh some red wine vinegar and white wine over beef and stir until union is soft
Add the rest of stew ingredients except for the can of tomatoes
Reduce heat a little and season
Allow to simmer while you make the dumplings. At this stage you want the contents to be just covered by liquid so if you are using a large pot you may need to add a little more stock.
Stew for around 20 mins

To make dumplings combine flour, salt, pepper, herbs and water and mix. The dough should be a little crumbly at this stage.

Pour in butter and mix until the dough is well combined and a little bit sticky. You may wish to add a little more water to find the right consistency.

Back to the stew and add the can of tomatoes and stir
Roll the dough into 3cm balls. You will know if the dough is not right if it sticks to your hands. If it does and a little more flour.
It should make around 12 dumplings.
Place the dumplings in the stew.
All the ingredients and dumplings should be just covered by liquid. Use a little more stock or hot water to do this if more liquid is required.
Stew for about 30 mins stirring VERY gently a couple of times. Be sure not to break up the dumplings when stiring. All you really need to do is stop the stew from catching to the bottom of the pot.

3 dumplings and some stew is enough for 1.

Serves 4.


Monday, May 11, 2009

A pretty garden

In January I made the move of living with my parents to living with my handsome and clever boyfriend of 2 years, Luke. We found a beautiful 2 bedroom apartment within a 1 minute walk of Five Dock Bay. It was one of many that we applied for and were offered but even though it was the most expensive we knew it had to be ours for as long as the landlord permits.

A big plus for this place was that it was 1 of a small block of four, ground floor and it had a huge patio and a garden. A GARDEN!!!!

So, a couple of weeks ago we had the folks over and worked on our small but beautiful garden.

One thing Luke wanted was a lime tree so we were off to Bunnings and found ourselves 3 funky blue glazed pots.

Hardgraves provided us with a lime a lemon and a orange along with some basil and mint.

3 weeks on and I am able to cook with my basil and mint! There is nothing like growing your own herbs. I water my plants and feed them with Powerfeed and they reward me with beautiful lush foliage. Anyone can grow herbs and I highly recommend you do!

p.s. this photo was taken just after we did the garden. It has all grown bigger since then and looks beautiful!

Kitchen Loves - Anolon

I have many things in my kitchen that I love but my set of Anolon pots has to be a massive favourite. I recieved the set for Christmas and since I moved into my own place I don't know what I would do without it. I have a six piece set which Mum bought from Peters of Kensington who offered it at a fantastic price. If you go to David Jones be prepared to pay over $200 per item. They are nice and heavy, have rubber grip handles and wipe clean! No need to leave in the sink to 'Soak '.
They are an investment item but well worth it. With a long warrenty they are pots to last you a life time!

Family Lunch - Apple, Sausage and Maple Salad

This is another attributed to Heidi at It is based on her Brussels spouts salad which I tried one night for dinner. Not everyone is a fan of sprouts so when I decided to make this one for a family lunch at Mum and Dad's place I made some adjustments. If you are after something a bit more special or different than a regular coleslaw or something similarly ordinary give this one a crack! Even the kids will like this one so no need to make one for the grown ups and the little ones.

1 lemon
2 red apples de-cored cut into cubes ( I used green apples the first time and found they were a little bitter for this recipe but can work )
3 sausages. Plain beef are great for this as the sauce is yummy but I have made it with chicken which worked well too.
2 cloves crushed garlic
3/4 cup fake maple syrup ( Cottees etc )
1 bag baby spinach leaves
cup of crushed nuts. I use 50/50 roasted cashews and walnuts.

Soak apples in juice of 1 lemon. If the juice does not cover the apples fill the bowl with water so that the apples are only just covered. Cover bowl.
Lightly cook sausages to the point that you can easily slice them without them falling apart. It is essential that you don't over cook them at this stage as they will go rubbery later. Cooking them on the BBQ gives a lovely flavour to the dish.
Cut sausages into 1cm thick slices.
Heat oil and garlic in a large skillet or wok.
Add sausage and cook for 1 minute.
Drain apples and ad to sausage mix. Cook for 1 min.
Pour maple syrup into skillet and coat contents well.
Add nuts and mix.
When sausage is cooked and apple is going soft put half the bag of spinach into the skillet and mix quickly.
Put the remaining spinach in the bottom of a large salad bowl and pour sausage and apple mix in. Best served warm.


Update: Sausages can be substituted with Tofu. While I am not a Tofu fan those of you who are will know how to cook it up.

Monday -Thai style pumpkin and sweet potato soup

You will soon realise that I am not huge on exact measurements. I make most meals for two sometimes with the intention of having enough leftover for one for lunch.

Tonight I decided to make my pumpkin soup which I had made twice before. The original recipe came from which is a favourite of mine. Heidi Swanson is an American based all round clever person who creates mouth watering vegetarian and vegan recipes. I first made it for my Mum and Dad and enjoyed it so much thought it was time to take home. Second time round I didn't have enough pumpkin to make a whole soup so used some sweet potato. The mistake I made that time was that I used too much chilli powder when roasting the veggies. It resulted is a tasty but far too hot soup.

So, tonight I decided to try again, this time sans chilli powder. I hope you enjoy.

3 handfuls of sweet potato cubes
3 handfuls of pumpkin cubes ( I used butternut tonight but each time have used whatever was in the fridge )
1 can light coconut milk or cream
olive oil
rock salt
sweet chilli sauce to taste ( I used about 2 tsp tonight and it had a good amount of heat )

Pre heat oven to 210 degrees Celsius

Spread sweet potato and pumpkin cubes on an over tray with baking paper.
Coat veggies in generous amounts of oil, sat and pepper.
Bake in hot over for approx 1 hour. The veggies will be ready when they are almost to the point of falling apart and lovely and sticky.
In a blender put roasted veggies and coconut milk and puree. Add sweet chilli sauce to taste.

This makes a lovely bright orange soup that is very thick ,creamy with tiny pieces of pepper and caramelised veggies.


The first post!

Well here it is, my very first blog entry!
So what is it all about you ask? Here at Rosey's Dinners I want to share my successful dinners and my not so successful dinners. I want to share my favorite cook books and where my inspiration comes from. Keep posted and you are bound to find something for dinner!