Friday, May 28, 2010

Potato & Leek Soup

The nights are getting colder so warm yourself up by making this creamy potato and leek soup!


¼ cup olive oil
1 brown onion, halved, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
4-5 medium (about 700g) peeled desiree, pink eye or pontiac potatoes, cut into 2cm cubes
2 leeks, pale section only, washed, dried, thinly sliced
1.25L (5 cups) salt reduced chicken stock
3 thick slices day-old white bread, crusts removed, cut into 2cm cubes
½ cup thickened cream
Pinch of salt
2 tbs finely chopped fresh chives

  1. Heat 1 tbs of the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until the onion softens. Add the potato and leek and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until leek softens. 
  2. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and gently boil, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until potato is soft. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.  
  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C. Place bread in a roasting pan. Drizzle with remaining oil and toss until bread is evenly coated. Toast in preheated oven, shaking pan occasionally, for 10 minutes or until crisp. Remove croutons from oven and set aside. 
  4. Transfer one-third of the potato mixture to the jug of a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a clean saucepan. Repeat in 2 more batches with the remaining potato mixture. 
  5. Place the soup over medium heat. Add the cream and stir to combine. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until hot. Taste and season with salt. 
  6.  Ladle the soup among serving bowls. Sprinkle with chives and top with croutons. Serve immediately.
Notes & Tips

This soup will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

To blend soups, use a stick blender, jug blender or food processor.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nonya Fried Rice

If you haven't figured it out by now, I like food and I like to eat. Which shouldn't come to anybody's surprise that I also like to watch cooking shows. However, I don't often cook what I watch on T.V. as most of the stuff that's cooked on the telly these days is too gourmet or fine dining for me. When I come home from an exhausting day at work, I don't want to necessarily be slaving away in the kitchen for 3 hours on a meal that will be eaten in 30 minutes and that doesn't taste nice reheated the next day for work. I tend to cook more easier, simpler, practical meals on a work night and occasionally on a weekend or a day off I might try a recipe that requires a bit more effort.

Watching Poh's Kitchen the other day, I saw her make a dish called Nonya Fried Rice. It looked quite easy to put together and the flavours of this Malaysian style fried rice intrigued me so much that I decided to give it a go and to my surprise I quite liked it (and so did hubby). There is a spicy prawn flavour as you eat the fried rice (that comes from both the dried shrimp and fresh prawns), with the refreshing and cool taste of the cucumber. The cucumber also adds a nice crunch and bite to the dish.

It's great to see Poh (the runner's up to season 1 Masterchef) have her own T.V. show and share some of her Malaysian recipes with the wider audience in Australia.


¼ cup vegetable oil
2 large red chillies, chopped and seeded
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 shallots, chopped
¾ cups dried shrimp, soaked in boiling water
10 green prawns, peeled deveined and cut into small pieces
1 ½ cups jasmine rice, cooked
2 tbs light soy
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp white pepper
2 eggs, beaten lightly
1 telegraph (long thin) cucumber, quartered lengthways, seeds sliced off and discarded (for maximum crunch) and then sliced diagonally - about 2 to 3 mm

  1. Pound the chilli, garlic and shallots to a paste in a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, chopping finely will be completely appropriate.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok till hot and add the paste and sauté till it is rich and aromatic. (If finely chopping the aromatics, add the garlic first to the wok, and cook briefly, then the shallots and chilli and stir fry till aromatic).
  3. Pound drained dried shrimp in mortar and pestle till shredded, or blitz in a food processor to a crumbly consistency. Add to the wok and stir fry till fragrant. Add prawns and stir fry till just cooked. Immediately add rice, soy, salt, sugar and white pepper.
  4. Cook till rice has separated, and tender.
  5. Make a well in the middle of the wok pushing rice to the sides. Tip in the egg and let it sit for a while so the bottom has a while to caramelise. With an eggflip turn it over on the other side till that is also nice and brown, then chop it with the eggflip so little pieces of it cook all the way through. Add the cucumber and give it all a final toss so everything is incorporated, checking for seasoning. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Notes & Tips

The trick to cooking great fried rice is to pre-cook the rice and put it in the fridge overnight spread out on a baking tray lined with a sheet of baking paper. This makes the grains stay separate and prevents the fried rice from getting stodgy when cooking.

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    Lemon Diva Cupcakes

    I finally had the chance today to make these Lemon Diva Cupcakes. The original recipe is from Julie Goodwin, winner of Masterchef season 1. I see why she won the cupcake challenge. These cupcakes are moist, fluffy and they do certainly pack a punch in terms of lemon flavour!

    Makes 12


    100g unsalted butter, softened
    ¾ cup caster sugar
    ½ tsp vanilla extract
    finely grated zest of 3 lemons
    2 eggs
    1 cups self raising flour
    ½ cup milk


    125g unsalted butter, softened
    2 cups icing sugar
    1½ tbs lemon juice


    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 12 hole medium muffin pan (1/3 cup capacity) with paper cases. Using electric beaters, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and creamy. Mix through the lemon zest.
    2. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. Gently fold through the flour and milk in two alternate batches. Divide the mixture evenly among the paper cases.
    3. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and springy when touched. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
    4. To make the icing, use electric beaters to beat the butter until light and creamy. Add the icing sugar a little at a time, beating constantly. Add half the lemon juice and beat until well combined. Add the remaining lemon juice a little at a time. Using a 1cm fluted nozzle, pipe the icing onto the cooled cupcakes.

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    Barbecued Lime & Mint Chicken Skewers

    These lime and mint chicken skewers are great to whip up for a BBQ. They're simple, tasty and full of citrus flavour from the limes.


    2 limes
    2 long fresh green chillies, halved, deseeded, finely chopped
    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    ¼ cup light olive oil
    ½ cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped
    1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
    800g chicken thigh fillets, fat trimmed, cut into 2cm pieces
    1-2 tbs water
    ½ cup bought tzatziki
    Fresh mint leaves, to serve
    Lime wedges, to serve

    1. Finely grate the rind of the limes. Juice the limes. Place the lime rind, lime juice, chilli, garlic, oil, coriander and chopped mint in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a glass or ceramic bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover and place in the fridge for 2 hours to marinate. 
    2.  Thread the chicken onto skewers. Brush with marinade. 
    3.  Preheat a barbecue grill or chargrill on high. Cook the skewers for 5 minutes each side or until cooked through.
    4.  Gradually add the water to the tzatziki until it reaches the consistency of thickened cream. Place the skewers on a serving plate. Top with mint leaves. Serve with lime wedges and tzatziki.

    Notes & Tips

    Soak bamboo skewers in cold water for 20 minutes for this recipe to prevent them from burning. Alternatively, use 12 metal skewers.
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