Tag Archives: home made

Pumpkin bread

Pumpkin Bread with cream cheese frostingThis morning, a lonely butternut pumpkin half was staring back at me from the fruit and veggie crisper. It had been long abandoned, purchased last weekend during our usual fruit and vegetable shop, probably picked up with some mysterious culinary challenge in mind. It had seen better days.

‘What to do?’, I wondered…

After roasting the pumpkin (wrapped in foil for 35 minutes at 175 C) and scooping it out, I decided to try my hand at Simply Recipes pumpkin bread.

It was a delicious success. Especially when topped with lemony cream cheese frosting. Because you don’t really need an excuse for cream cheese frosting, ever.


Roasted pork belly for Chinese New Year

Roasted pork belly

Roasted pork belly

Roasted pork belly

My recipe was originally published on The Food Pornographer

For this recipe, I purchased two pieces of corn fed pork belly from Wing Hong Butcher in Northbridge that weighed about 4 kg (raw weight) in total.


  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 star anise
  • 8 cloves
  • half an onion
  • 4 sticks cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup gula melaka or brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I used some pear cider vinegar)
  • A splash of mushroom soy
  • 2 tb sugar

At least one day before you plan to eat the pork

Part one: marinade

  1. Blitz the onion and garlic in a food processor until pureed. Stir in sauces and sugars.
  2. Place the mixture in a shallow baking dish large enough to hold the pork. Add the whole spices.
  3. Pierce the pork all over the flesh side with a small knife to allow the flavours to penetrate. Place pork flesh side down into marinade. Try to avoid getting the marinade on the skin side.
  4. Allow to marinade for at least six to eight hours.

Roasted pork belly

Part two: slow cooking

  1. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees celsius.
  2. Remove the baking dish from the fridge, and cover well with foil.
  3. Do not uncover during cooking. Check after 45 minutes to ensure there’s plenty of liquid in the dish – add a little water if it’s looking dry.
  4. Bake for a total 90 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.
  5. Place paper towel on top of the skin, weigh it down (I used two 2.5kg weights from J’s weights set over a baking tray!) and leave the pork in the fridge overnight.

Roasted pork belly

The day of cooking and feasting

Part three: roasting

  1. Remove the weights and paper towel, rub a little vegetable oil and salt into the skin.
  2. Allow the pork to come to closer to room temperature as you preheat the oven preheat to 250 degrees celsius.
  3. Place the pork on a rack in a baking tray, and cook it in the oven for approximately 40 minutes until the skin begins to crisp up. It should start to bubble. If you feel you need more time to achieve better skin, go ahead. Different ovens may need more or less time.
  4. Once you feel satisfied with crispness of the skin, turn the oven down to 160 degrees celsius and cook the pork for an additional 45 minutes.
  5. Rest the pork for an hour before serving. Slice it up using a sharp knife or cleaver and serve. Thank me later.

Carving the pork belly

I started chopping the pork using one of Mum’s knives before realising I would need something heftier… My brother stepped in a gave the cleaver a tone before I got back to work.

Roasted pork belly

Thanks to J for the photos – my hands were full :)

Peanut biscuits for Chinese New Year


Gong hei fat choy!

As a kid, the wafting smell of roasted peanuts and the whirring of the food processor meant one thing. Peanut biscuits. 

My grandma would pull up a chair, hand me a chopstick, and I’d watch with awe as she mixed together sandy-looking ground peanuts, plain flour, sugar, oil and salt into a pliable dough. It was always even better than play dough.

Together, we’d roll small balls of the soft dough between our palms, placing them on baking trays lined with greasproof paper.

Then, wielding my chopstick, I would gleefully prod belly buttons into each plump biscuit, leaving a perfect circle in the centre of each sweet morsel.

Peanut biscuits for Chinese New YearMost families get together for a ‘reunion dinner’ on the eve of the lunar new year. 

Being big fans of homophones, many of the foods eaten and shared friends and family are symbolic – presented and eaten to ensure prosperity and good fortune in the year ahead.

Making peanut biscuits for Chinese New Year

From left: The perfect sandy texture.
You’ll know the mix is perfect when it looks like this.

Peanut biscuits
Recipe via Billy, A Table For Two!

Makes about 30 – 40 biscuits


  • 300g peanuts, fried/roasted and ground until fine
  • 200g castor sugar
  • 250g plain flour
  • about 200ml of canola oil (or other neutral flavoured oil) 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg beaten, for glazing


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and lay out 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. Roast the peanuts by frying them in a frying pan (dry, no oil). Grind the roasted peanuts till fine in a food processor. They’ll need to be quite sandy in texture – it’ll look  clumpy in the bowl of the mixer, but don’t worry. 
  3. Place ground peanuts in a large mixing bowl with the flour, salt and sugar. Mix together until well combined and lump free.
  4. Drizzle half of the oil into the bowl and combine the mixture with a clean hand, kneading gently.
  5. Keep adding a little more oil at a time. You’ll need to keep kneading to ensure the sugar melts and that the mix is soft and pliable, but firm enough that it doesn’t stick to your hands. 
  6. The mix is ready when you can roll the dough into smooth balls that don’t crack. If your mix is still too dry, add a little more oil and mix again.
  7. Take a heaped teaspoonfuls of the mix and roll into small balls. Place on baking sheets. of the mixture into your palm, and roll them into small balls. Place them on the baking sheets.
  8. Take a chopstick, poke a ‘belly button’ into each biscuit, and glaze with beaten egg.
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Making peanut biscuits for Chinese New Year

Use a chopstick to create a ‘belly button’ indent in each biscuit.

These golden biscuits are probably supposed to resemble gold ingots, or oranges. Or so I assume, as I’ve read that the word for oranges also sounds like the word fortune in Chinese. And I think adding the chopstick action kind of makes these look like mini-navel oranges…sort of.

My grandma always used to make dozens and dozens of these every year for Chinese New Year, ready for visiting friends and family, neighbours and greedy grandchildren (that’s me).

They’re delicious with a cup of tea, and good at any time of year.

Zucchini Slice

Every summer I hit a bit of a cooking slump. It’s hot. Unbearably hot, and the last thing I want to do is stand around in the kitchen, tending to the stove. 

Simple mix and bake recipes are perfect for the seasonally affected cook, particularly when they make great use of one of summer’s most prolific vegetables – the humble zucchini.

I picked up three huge beasts for a dollar at the Subiaco markets – making this not only a delicious meal, but also a total bargain.

Zucchini slice


  • 375g zucchini, grated
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 rashers bacon finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 cup cheese grated (I used a mix of vintage cheddar and parmesan)
  • 1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup of oil
  • 5 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 180 Celsius.
  2. Combine zucchini, corn, onion, bacon, flour, oil and eggs thoroughly in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour into a lined rectangular baking dish. I like to use my pyrex lasagna dish which I line with baking paper.
  4. Bake for 35-40 mins until golden and set.
  5. Allow to cool slightly before cutting.

Notes about leftovers and freezing…

The leftovers make a perfect cold lunch or, if you’re in the mood to stock your freezer, you can double the recipe, and make one for dinner and one for later!

Just remove the freezer-bound slice after baking for about 20 minutes. Cool, and freeze. Defrost overnight in the fridge, and reheat at 180 celsius for about 20 – 30 minutes, depending on how ferocious your oven is!


Korean Fried Chicken: The other KFC

This weekend I made some Korean Fried Chicken. The other KFC.

I was inspired to make these after watching Maangchi’s awesome KFC video on youtube. But upon realising mid-recipe that I didn’t have the required Korean chili paste, I decided to improvise with a non-spicy version of crunchy crispy wing goodness.

Making this chicken was also a reason to use some of the Doenjang we have sitting in the fridge.

Sticky soy Korean Fried Chicken

Makes 10 pieces (enough for two small portions, or one hungry person)


Chicken marinade and coating

  • 5 chicken wings
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp Doenjang (Korean fermented bean paste)
  • A splash of light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • Oil for shallow frying
  1. Rinse chicken wings and chop at joints into three sections, discarding wing tips.
  2. Place wing pieces in a medium bowl and add salt, Doenjang, a dash of soy sauce, and oyster sauce. Mix well, leave covered in fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Heat oil in a deep pan (I use my cast iron dutch oven for this).
  4. Add potato starch to wings – mix thoroughly with your hands, it’ll be sticky and look like a mess, but fear not!
  5. When oil is hot (test by dropping some coating in the oil, it should sizzle), add wings (do this in two batches if your pan is too small).
  6. Fry once until the outer layer of chicken cooks but before the chicken browns – this will take about 7 – 10 minutes (depending on how big your chicken pieces are).
  7. Don’t worry if it seems like you’re losing a lot of the coating, or if they’re sticking to the base of your pan. It will all come good!
  8. Remove and place over a colander/strainer over a bowl. Turn off the heat, and rest chicken for about 3 – 5 minutes.
  9. Reheat oil, once hot again, return chicken to pan and let the wings fry again until well browned and crispy. Drain, and set aside on paper towel.

Sticky soy sauce


  • 1 tb Doenjang
  • 2 tb oyster sauce
  • 4 tb honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • Salt or light soy to taste
  • A little vegetable oil
  1. Take a small saute pan or frypan and heat a little oil. Add garlic and fry until golden.
  2. Add sauces, honey and vinegar.
  3. Heat until bubbly. Remove from heat.
  4. Take cooked crispy wings and toss around in the pan, coating them in the sticky soy sauce.


These wings were fantastic with a light drizzle of Sriracha chili sauce over the top. But you can omit that if it’s not your thing.


Carrot bumper crop

When we returned from our holidays, one of the first household tasks J took on was garden maintenance. There was lawn to mow, grapevines to prune, and about a dozen carrots to unearth!

But other than vowing to eat a carrot each, with every lunch and dinner that week, what were we going to do with this beautiful crop?

Pickled carrots!

We found an easy recipe from David Lebovitz‘s blog, and set to work.

We bought some pickling jars from IKEA (not listed online, but they were about $3 each). I thought these were a good option, as the seals for the jar are food grade silicone, not rubber – much more long lasting, and easily sterilised in boiling water!

We got peeling and blanching, and set to work making the brine.

I threw in some herbs (fennel seeds, from fennel we grew last summer, and fresh bay leaves from our garden) and added a few crushed cloves of garlic.

The result? Slightly crunchy, sweet and sour carrots with a hint of aniseed flavour. Perfect for hot weather packed lunches (I’m going to bring some to work today in my salad!) and a tasty, straight from the jar snack, if that’s how you roll.

Saturday Spanish

J unearthed over a dozen Ruby Lou potatoes on Saturday, so I decided to put them to good use, and found a recipe that would really highlight their flavour.

After working on a uni assignment all day, I was pretty exhausted. Something easy was in order, and preferably something that would go down well with a nice glass of wine.

I made a Tortilla de patatas (potato omelette), using a recipe I had been meaning to try from the Food Safari cookbook. I decided to add some fresh thyme from our garden too, because I love how it pairs with potatoes.

Tortilla de Patatas
Recipe by Paula Baspino, from the Food Safari Cookbook by Maeve O’Meara


  • 250ml (1 cup) olive oil
  • 4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 6 eggs
  • About six sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt
  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the potatoes until almost soft, stirring from time to time so that they don’t burn on the bottom of the pan. Drain the potatoes in a colander to get rid of the excess oil. The potatoes should be soft but not crisp. Remove oil from pan. 
  2. Beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt. Add the potatoes, mix well and check seasoning. 
  3. Heat the frying pan on a moderate heat. Pour in the potatoes and eggs and shake the frying pan from time to time so that the omelette doesn’t stick to the bottom. Tear the thyme leaves off the stalks and sprinkle over the omelette.
  4. Once the bottom of the omelette has set turn the omelette by placing either a flat plate on the frying pan and quickly turning over. Gently slide the omelette back into the frying pan and continue cooking, once again shaking the pan from time to time so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. 
  5. When omelette has set slide out of pan onto a plate to serve.

We ate the tortilla with chorizo, fried until crispy with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice, and roasted cauliflower, which I dusted with smoked paprika.

Simple food, but totally delicious.