Tamarind chicken

Here’s a bit of a different spin on sweet and sour chicken. Tamarind provides sourness but also the delicious aroma of dried fruit, while the tender free range chicken is contained in a crisp, double-fried alkaline batter.

Ingredients

600g Lilydale free range chicken thigh fillets

1 tbsp fish sauce

¼ tsp baking soda

2 egg whites

½ cup corn starch

salt, to season

750 ml vegetable oil for deep-frying

Tamarind sauce

2 tbsp tamarind puree

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tsp corn starch mixed with ½ cup water

To serve:

1 thick spring onion, thinly sliced

1 cup loosely packed coriander leaves

1 tomato, sliced

1 cucumber, sliced

Method

  1. Thinly slice the Lilydale free range thigh fillets into long strips about 1 cm wide. Combine with the fish sauce, baking soda, egg whites, corn starch, a good pinch of salt and about ¼ cup of water and mix to a thin batter. Set aside to stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan to 170C. Fry the chicken in batches for about 3 minutes each until lightly golden and just cooked. Set aside to drain on a wire rack while you fry the remaining batches. Allow the chicken to rest and cool for about 15 minutes while you make the tamarind sauce.
  3. For the tamarind sauce, combine the tamarind puree, vinegar, sugar and fish sauce together in a wok with ½ a cup of water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for a minute to dissolve the sugar, then drizzle in enough of the corn starch mixture to create a sauce thick enough to coat the chicken.
  4. Return the oil to the heat and heat to 200C. Fry the chicken again for a minute or two until golden and crisp. Toss through the sauce and transfer to a serving plate and serve with the
Christmas chicken with buttery sage stuffing and pickled cherries

If you’re wanting to avoid a mountain of leftover turkey and ham this Christmas, give this delicious roast chicken a try. It’s stuffed with a delicious Christmassy sage stuffing, basted with brown butter and honey and served with delicious pickled December cherries. It will serve between 4 and 6, but will serve even more if you have a few extra side dishes.  

Ingredients

1 whole Lilydale free range chicken, around 1.8kg

1 tsp dark soy sauce

salt and pepper, to season

120 g baby rocket

olive oil, to drizzle

2 cups cherries, halved and pitted

¼ cup red wine vinegar

Stuffing

5 slices wholemeal bread

1 large onion, finely diced

50 g butter

4 sage leaves, finely chopped

2 tbsp dried cranberries (optional)

½ cup chicken stock, or water

1 tsp salt

black pepper, to serve

Glaze

50 g butter

6 sage leaves

1 tsp honey

1 tsp soy sauce

Method

  1. Start with the stuffing. In a blender or food processor process the bread to coarse breadcrumbs. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add the butter and onion. Fry the onion for about 5 minutes until softened but not coloured. Remove from the heat and add the breadcrumbs, sage, cranberries, stock, salt and pepper and mix well.
  2. Heat your oven to 120C (fan). Stuff the stuffing into the cavity of the chicken. You don’t need to close it. Brush the chicken with the dark soy sauce and season the skin well with salt and pepper. Place a piece of baking paper in the base of a small oven dish (or ovenproof frying pan) and place the chicken on top. Roast for 90 minutes.
  3. While the chicken is roasting, season the cherries with salt and pepper and stir through the red wine vinegar. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. For the glaze, heat the butter in a small saucepan until it turns golden brown. Remove from the heat and stir through the sage leaves, honey and soy sauce.
  5. When the chicken has finished it’s 90 minutes of roasting, increase the oven to 220C. Brush the chicken with the glaze and roast for a further 15 minutes, brushing with the glaze every few minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and rest for 15 minutes. Reserve any juices in the base of the roasting dish to serve with the chicken.
  6. To serve, place the chicken on a serving plate. Toss the rocket with a little olive oil and arrange around the chicken like a Christmas wreath. Spoon the cherries over the rocket and serve with the roasting juices.
Basic all-in pavlova

I don’t want to oversell this too much but this recipe changes the pavlova game, and it does so only by making one very simple change – it uses icing sugar mixture instead of caster sugar.

Sugar stablises meringues, and the biggest problem with most pavlovas is that people don’t beat them long enough to dissolve the sugar (so therefore their meringue is not stable). This begs the question: why not just use a sugar like icing sugar that dissolves more easily?

I assumed that a solution so simple would have to have something wrong with it. But after a lot of research there seemed to be no reason at all why people haven’t been using icing sugar instead of caster sugar to make pavlovas other than just “it’s always been done that way”. And this is a common problem with classic recipes in that we often don’t want to break with tradition, even if it might make our lives that much easier.

For this pavlova you just dump the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix it at high speed for 8 minutes. It’s that easy.

Try it. I don’t reckon you’ll be going back to using caster sugar anytime soon. I certainly won’t be.

Ingredients

4 egg whites

300g icing sugar mixture

1 tsp cornflour

1/2 tsp cream of tartar (or 1 tsp white vinegar)

a pinch of salt 

To Serve

300ml thickened cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

fruits, to decorate

Method

  1. Heat your oven to 110˚C conventional. Add the egg whites, icing sugar, cornflour, cream of tartar and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat at high speed to a glossy stiff meringue. This will take about 8 minutes.
  2. Lay a piece of baking paper onto a baking sheet or pizza tray and dump the meringue onto the baking paper, spread slightly on top to form a 20cm circle with a slightly flat top. Bake the pavlova for 90 minutes and then turn off the oven, wedging the door open very slightly with a chopstick and allowing the pavlova to cool in the oven for a further 90 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool further.
  3. While the pavlova is baking, whisk the cream together with vanilla in a stand mixer to soft peaks. Transfer to a bowl and chill until ready to use.
  4. To transfer the pavlova to a serving plate place a light plate on top and flip the pavlova over onto the plate. Then peel off the baking paper and place your serving plate on the base of the pavlova, flipping it again. A dollop of cream on the base of the pavlova before you place the serving plate on it will keep the pavlova from sliding on the plate.
  5. Top the pavlova with the cream and decorate with your preferred fruits.

Tips

  • The acid from the cream of tartar (tartaric acid) also helps stabilise the meringue.
  • I don’t sweeten the cream for pavlova as the meringue itself is very sweet.
  • Some recipes call to cool the pavlova overnight in the oven, but low temperature Maillard reactions will actually brown the meringue, turning it a coffee colour. Cooling for an hour or two is fine to minimise cracking, and removing it from the oven then will keep your pavlova white.
Green vegetable colcannon

Ingredients

1.5 kg potatoes, unpeeled

1 cup milk or pouring cream

75 g butter, plus extra to serve

2 cups shredded cabbage

1 cup brussels sprouts, finely sliced

4 spring onions, sliced

½ bunch cavalo nero, leaves stripped from stalks

½ cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Heat your oven to 180C and roast the potatoes for 1 hour until soft.
  2. While the potatoes are roasting, heat a large frying pan and add half the butter. Add the cabbage and brussels sprouts and cook for about 5 minutes until wilted. Add the spring onions and cavalo nero and stir to wilt. Season well with salt.
  3. Scoop the flesh from the hot potatoes and pass through a potato ricer into a large pot. Add the milk or cream and remaining butter and beat to a smooth mash. Stir through the vegetables and parsley and season well with salt.
  4. Place the colcannon in a serving dish, make a well in the centre and add a little melted butter to serve.
Soy sauce chicken wings with cured eggs

Ingredients

1½ cups soy sauce

1½ cups dark soy sauce

1 brown onion, halved and with the skin on

1 thumb-sized knob of ginger, thickly sliced

2 star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

2 pieces black cardamom

1 tbsp fennel seeds

1 cup caster sugar

8 eggs

2 kg chicken mid-wings

2 thick spring onions

chilli sauce, to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Add all the ingredients except the eggs and chicken to a very large pot together with 1 litre of water. Bring the pot to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove 2 cups of the liquid to a separate bowl and cool to room temperature.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, prick a hole in the base of each egg with a needle and boil the eggs for 6 minutes and 30 seconds. Immediately remove to a bowl of iced water and cool completely. Place the eggs into a press-seal bag and pour over the reserved poaching liquid. Seal the bag and refrigerate for up to two days to cure the eggs. If you don’t want to cure the eggs, just soak the eggs in the liquid while you cook the chicken.
  3. Bring the poaching liquid in the pot to a rolling boil and add the chicken wings. Simmer on very low heat for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the chicken to cool in the liquid for a further 15 minutes. (If you aren’t planning on eating the chicken straight away, allow it too sit in the poaching liquid for longer as it will take on more flavour.)
  4. Ladle 2-3 cups of the poaching liquid into a separate saucepan and boil uncovered and reduce the volume by half. This will take about 15 minutes.
  5. Cut the spring onion into 5cm lengths, then cut lengthways into a fine julienne (both white and green parts). Place the spring onion into iced water to curl.
  6. Serve the chicken wings with the halved eggs and drizzle with the reduced poaching liquid. Serve with the spring onions and your preferred chilli sauce.
Mafaldine with peas, parsley and pecorino

Ingredients

¼ cup olive oil, plus extra

2 cloves garlic

½ a brown onion

2 cup frozen green peas

1 cup loosely packed baby spinach

½ cup picked parsley leaves

1 cup vegetable stock

1 cup freshly grated pecorino, plus extra to serve

500g dried mafaldine (or other long pasta)

Method

  1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the oil, garlic and onion and fry for about 5 minutes until the onion is fragrant and translucent. Add the peas, spinach and vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Transfer the vegetables to a blender and add the parmesan. Blend to a smooth puree with the parsley leaves. Taste the puree and adjust for seasoning.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and salt it for cooking the pasta. Cook the pasta according to packet directions but start checking it two minutes before the recommended cooking time has finished. When the pasta is al dente, drain it well (reserving about ¼ cup of the cooking water) and return it back to the pot on low heat (or a separate frying pan, if that is easier). Add the puree, reserved cooking water and drizzle in around ¼ cup of extra olive oil, tossing toss to coat. Serve the pasta with extra pecorino.
Steak frites with black garlic butter

Ingredients

2 very thick good quality fillet steaks, around 6cm thick

4 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

vegetable oil, for deep frying

salt and pepper, to season

watercress, to serve

6 sprigs thyme

25 g butter

olive oil

Black garlic butter (makes extra)

150g softened cultured butter

5 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 cloves garlic, grated

8 cloves black garlic

rind of ½ lemon, grated

6 anchovies, finely chopped

Method

  1. Microwave the potatoes for 10 minutes, then cool to room temperature. Chill in the fridge, then cut into thin chips and place on a tray lined with baking paper. Freeze for 2 hours until solid.
  2. For the black garlic butter blend all the ingredients together to a coarse mixture. I prefer to keep it soft the first time I use it, and the roll it into the log and freeze it for future use after that.
  3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan to about 180C. Fry the chips for about 5 minutes until golden brown. Season well with salt and pepper, and a few leaves of thyme.
  4. Season the steak well with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan until very hot and add a little oil. Fry the steak on both sides until browned, then add the separate 25 g of butter and thyme to the pan and baste the steak with the butter for a few minutes until cooked to rare (or otherwise to your liking). Rest well.
  5. Cover the steak with the softened black garlic butter, flash the butter with a blowtorch and serve with the chips, and watercress dressed simply with a little olive oil and lemon juice.
Oil-sprinkled noodles 油泼面

This is one of my most frequently cooked quick meals. Basic pantry ingredients, a few others that I usually have on hand anyway, and it’s all ready in 5 minutes. Delicious, too.

Ingredients

For one bowl of noodles:

120 g dried flat, wide wheat noodles (“hand pulled” or “knife cut” noodles work best)

1 pak choy, quartered

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp Chinkiang black vinegar

½ tsp mild Korean chilli powder

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp finely sliced spring onion

a good pinch of salt

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp roughly chopped coriander

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the noodles. Cook the noodles for about 6-7 minutes, or according to packet directions until softened but still al dente. Drain well and add to a serving bowl. Boil the pak choy for just 30 seconds and add to the bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except the oil and coriander directly on top of the noodles in the order listed.
  3. Place the vegetable oil in a small saucepan and heat until smoking. Pour over the noodles, then add the coriander and stir well to mix. Serve immediately.

Black label fudge

This is a great Father’s Day gift idea. Get your dad a bottle of whisky, use a bit of it to make some handmade fudge, and then gift the fudge together with the remainder of the whisky!

This recipe is sponsored by Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Whiskey.

Ingredients

200 g dark brown sugar

200 g caster sugar

395 g sweetened condensed milk

150 ml milk

50 g cultured butter

80 ml Johnnie Walker Black Label (2.53 standard drinks)

a few pinches of good sea salt

Method

 

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the salt and Johnnie Walker in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes (until the mixture reaches 114C).
  2. Remove from the heat and stir through the Johnnie Walker and a pinch of salt. Stand for 5 minutes, then beat the mixture with a spatula for about 10 minutes until it is no longer shiny and starting to firm.
  3. Transfer to a 20 cm square baking tray roughly lined with baking paper. Allow to cool either at room temperature or in the fridge, then cut into 2 cm squares. Sprinkle with a little more sea salt and serve.

 

 

Note

This is a soft fudge. If you like a firmer, grainer fudge you can heat it a little higher (117-118C) and beat it more as it cools down.

 

Yuenyeung fried rice

Yuenyeung fried rice is a two-tone mixture of egg fried rice topped with a while prawn “sauce” and a red chicken “sauce”. Popular in Hong Kong cha cha chaan teng cafes, it’s a simple dish with lots of flavour.

Ingredients

3 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 cup cold water

Egg fried rice

2 cups raw Jasmine rice

2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus 2 tbsp extra for frying

3 eggs

salt, to season

½ tsp MSG, to season (optional)

RED

2 chicken thigh fillets, cut into thin strips

1 tsp soy sauce

a pinch of white pepper

a pinch of salt

a pinch of bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp cornstarch

2 tbsp water

2 tbsp vegetable oil

½ brown onion, cut into wedges

1 tomato

Red sauce

4 tbsp tomato sauce (ketchup)

2 tbsp white vinegar

2 tsp sugar

1 tbsp soy sauce

300 ml chicken stock

WHITE

200 g raw, peeled prawns

a pinch of salt

a pinch of bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp cornstarch

2 tbsp water

2 tbsp vegetable oil

½ brown onion, diced into 1 cm cubes

½ cup frozen peas

White sauce

300 ml chicken stock

salt, to season

100 ml evaporated milk

Method

  1. Wash the rice and cover with water up to your first knuckle, cook the rice together with the vegetable oil. Separate the grains and place on a baking tray. Refrigerate uncovered overnight.
  2. Combine the chicken with the soy sauce, salt, pepper, bicarb, cornstarch and water and set aside for 30 minutes. Combine the ingredients for the red sauce in a separate bowl.
  3. Combine the prawns with the salt, bicarb, cornstarch and water and set aside for 10 minutes, then rinse under running water and pat dry.
  4. Start with the red sauce. Heat a wok over high heat and add the vegetable oil. Fry the chicken until lightly browned then remove from the wok. Add the onion and tomato and fry until the tomato softens. Add the red sauce and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the wok and thicken with enough of the cornstarch slurry to form a thick, silky sauce. Transfer to a saucepan to keep warm. Brush out the wok and return to the heat.
  5. Add the oil to the wok and fry the prawns until starting to turn opaque. Remove the prawns from the wok while still quite raw. Return the wok to the heat and add the onion. Fry for about 30 seconds then add the peas and stock and bring to a simmer. Season well with salt and thicken with enough of the cornstarch slurry to form a thick, silky sauce. Return the prawns to the sauce and stir in the evaporated milk. The prawns will cook through in the sauce. Transfer to a saucepan to keep warm.
  6. Beat the eggs and mix with the cold rice and stir with chopsticks to coat the grains. Add the oil to the wok and add the rice. Fry until the grains separate, and season with salt and MSG.
  7. Place the rice on a serving plate and cover half with the red sauce, and half with the white sauce.