Mince, Asian, Pork

Ken Hom’s Spicy Sichuan Noodles

Serves: 2 – 4

Ken Hom is a pretty impressive guy and everything of his I have ever cooked has been just as impressive.

This is a man that doesn’t put his name to anything that isn’t but awesome.

We don’t hear a lot about Ken Hom in  Australia and he is fairly retired now I gather; though growing up with an American mother, I heard plenty about him and know his style well.

This particular recipe is as wonderful as it is quick to prepare.

It is that wonderful, spicy dish you get in a Taiwanese restaurant that you wish you had the time and knowledge to recreate. Part of this is achieved by keep the dice of your spring onions as small as you can; delicate ingredients, wonderful taste.

The only caveat is around the use of the chilli oil, which – if you have used chilli oil before – you will know can be quite a thumper of an ingredient. I haven’ adjusted the original recipe though we halved the chilli oil and were happy for doing so.

Blow your socks off however you will.

Oh, there is a second caveat.

We didn’t deep-fry the pork mince and frankly, I don’t think you should either. I don’t doubt Mr Hom’s recipe, though if you aren’t a kitchen used to splashing around liters of oil and deep frying meat, I wouldn’t start here. Pan fry your mince in a bit of oil like we did and enjoy.

And so I have adjusted the recipe to reflect this.

This is a cracker of a mid-week dinner and you should get onto cooking it as soon as you can.

Ingredients

250gm pork mince
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
5 tbsp finely chopped spring onions
2 tbsp sesame paste or peanut butter
2 tbsp (light) soy sauce
2 tbsp chilli oil (we used 1)
1 tsp salt
250ml chicken stock
350gm fresh Chinese thin egg noodles or dry Chinese thin egg noodles
1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, roasted and ground
1 red hot chili, seeds removed and finely chopped for garnish

Method

  1. Combine the pork, soy sauce and salt and mix well. Heat a wok until it is hot, add 1 tbsp of oil and fry the pork mixture until browned, working to break it up. Set aside.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil to the wok, reheat and add the garlic, ginger and spring onions and stir fry for 30-seconds. Add the sesame paste (or peanut butter), soy sauce, chilli oil, salt and chicken stock and simmer for 4 minutes,
  3. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the packet instructions. Drain and divide into individual bowls. Ladle on the sauce, garnish with fried pork, Sichuan peppercorns and chopped chilli.
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Asian, Mince, Pork, Thai

Pad ka prao (minced pork, fried egg and rice)

Serves: 2

Read the ingredients and don’t over think it.

This is Monday done: street-style Thai.

Ingredients

1 tbsp sunflower oil
500gm pork mince
3 cloves garlic
3 birds eye chillies
1 small brown onion
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp kecap manis
1 tbsp oyster sauce
5 sprigs Thai basil leaves
2 eggs
Jasmine rice to serve

Method

  1. Cook the rice and set aside.
  2. De-seed the chillies and finely chop with the garlic and onion.
  3. Heat the oil in a medium-hot wok and fry the garlic, chillies and onion for 2 minutes. Add the pork and break up, working through until almost cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, fry the eggs until they have a slightly crispy base.
  5. Back to the pork, add the fish sauce, soy sauce, kecap manis and oyster sauce and stir through; reduce the sauces slightly and add the basil leaves. Stir and remove from the heat.
  6. Serve on rice with the fried egg on top.
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Dessert, Vegetarian

Maple Walnut Ice Cream

Serves: 6 – 8

We are still on the homemade ice cream train and after a very successful strawberry ice cream with a side of balsamic strawberries, we are much closer to a favourite I used to make when I was a kid.

(My parents also had an ice cream machine.)

Maple and walnut.

(I used to make honey and walnut.)

It is a sweet ice cream though that is the point: the boys of course, absolutely love it.

Serve it however and with whatever you want. This is the American dream.

Ingredients

1 ½ cup walnut halves
¾ cup maple syrup
1 ⅓ cup heavy cream
1 ¼ cup whole milk
5 large egg yolks, beaten
¼ salt

Method

  1. Over a medium heat, toast the walnuts in a fry pan, stirring and toasting for about 5 minutes until they are fragrant and turning golden. Set aside to cool and chop.
  2. Put the maple syrup in a large saucepan and bring to a boil and then simmer until reduced to ½ cup: 8 – 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cream, milk and salt to the pan and stir.
  4. Drizzle a cup of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Add another cup and then return to the saucepan and continue to cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Do not boil.
  5. Strain through a fine mesh into a bowl and cover with glad wrap. Refrigerate until completely cold.
  6. Process the chilled mixture according to your machine’s instructions and add the walnuts during the last minutes of churning.
  7. Enjoy.
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Italian, Pasta, Vegetarian

Penne Pasta in Creamy Vodka Tomato Sauce with Mushroom (Pink Sauce)

Serves: 4

We live in Cammeray in Sydney and there has been this hole-in-the-wall pizza joint here since I was a kid catching the school-bus past many, many years ago.

Brick facade, large pizza-oven style window out the front, dark inside.

Until we moved to Cammeray, I had never been into the pizza place though I had always wanted to. Old-school pizza places are the best.

Our first meal there was memorable and for all the right reasons.

And it turns out that the place has been there since I was a kid, run by this Italian who cooked pizzas every night for 40 years or something.

Sadly, he passed away a year ago, though he left the restaurant to his nephew, who, when we arrived, was still finding his feet: cash only, several items on the menu not available, the poor guy cooking and serving and cleaning up.

But wow, his pizza and homemade pasta was just awesome.

And $50 with no corkage.

A real win.

Half-a-dozen visits since and he has found his feet, though the important elements remain. A dark, cosy, pizza restaurant with locals handing over cash for excellent pizzas. There is a second guy in the kitchen and a young girl taking orders and delivering the pasta.

We have mixed it up every time we have been there and last time we had a pasta similar to this one; mushroom spaghetti in a pink sauce: essentially half cream, half tomato.

I didn’t ask for the recipe though I found this one online and it is pretty much on the money.

Ensure you cook the alcohol off and you are left with a really wonderful dinner: pretty much what you would expect from a local, 40-year-old pizza joint that only cooks 6 pizzas and a rotation of the same number of pastas.

Do this some Saturday night and put your feet up.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can tomatoes (400gm)
¾ cup vodka
½ tsp chilli flakes
Handful fresh basil, torn
½ tsp dried oregano
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup cream
¾ tsp salt
500gm penne (we used spaghetti)
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and then add the onion and garlic and slowly saute until the onion softens. Add the tomatoes, vodka, chilli flakes, basil and oregano. Break up the tomatoes if necessary.
  2. Bring the mixture to a medium-heat and then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the mushrooms and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cream and salt and continue to simmer ensuring that the alcohol is cooked out. Season.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta, drain and add to the sauce. Mix through and season again if necessary.
  5. Serve with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
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Asian, Seafood, Thai

Red Thai Salmon Curry

Serves: 4

This is a doozy of a recipe and one that could easily become a weekday staple.

Just make sure you visit your local Asian grocer for a quality, Thai red curry paste.

I added the vermicelli noodles though you could just as easily serve it on rice.

Seriously, as simple as it is, this is one moorish dish.

Don’t delay.

Ingredients

1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 onion, sliced
250ml reduced-fat coconut milk
500gm skinless salmon fillet, cut into 3cm pieces
200gm pack trimmed green bean
Half a pack of vermicelli noodles, cooked
Coriander leaves

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and then add the curry paste. Cook for a minute or two until fragrant.
  2. Add the onion and cook gently until softened; 5 – 10 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and then add the salmon and beans.
  3. Add the vermicelli noodles (if using) and let simmer for 5 minutes or until the fish flakes easily and the beans are tender.
  4. Serve with coriander.
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Greek, Seafood, Stew

Greek Fisherman’s Stew

Serves: 6

Wow, this is a gorgeous stew and on every level.

It tastes amazing, it is simple to prep and it’s healthy enough. Mopped up with some crusty bread, we loved every bit of it.

I’d go as far as to say this could become one of your favourites.

There is literally nothing not to like. Just make sure you season well.

Surprise yourself with this 10/10.

Ingredients

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 small head fennel, diced
½ tsp red chilli flakes
2 large ripe, truss tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 tsp sea salt (plus extra to season at the end)
Freshly cracked pepper
1 cup dry white wine
250gm potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 kg firm white fish, cut into 3cm pieces (we used Pink Ling)
12 basil leaves, torn
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp harissa paste (or hot sauce)
Crusty bread to serve

Method

  1. Warm the oil in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until soft though not brown. Add the fennel and cook for a few minutes until softened. Stir in the chilli flakes and then add the tomatoes and salt and cook on medium for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and 2 ½ cups boiling water, bring to the simmer and cook for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Check the seasoning and add the lemon juice.
  3. Add the fish pieces and simmer on low until the fish is just cooked through; another 5 or so minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise with the harissa paste (or hot sauce).
  5. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the basil to wilt it.
  6. Serve with a good dollop of the spiced mayonnaise and some crusty bread. And a good glass of cold vino of course.
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Dessert

Rich Chocolate Ice Cream with Peanut Butter

Makes: 1.5 liters

So, we’re on the ice cream train with the recent acquisition of a proper ice cream maker.

And so where do you start?

Personally, I think that Rum and Raisin or Pistachio are the creme da la creme though I am dismissed by Nat and the boys as being old and old-fashioned.

Which meant opening the floor to alternative ideas.

The boys adamantly want a Coke Sorbet which we might try; though that left Nat’s suggestion of chocolate and peanut butter the sole entry and winner on our first bout of ice cream making.

And here it is.

She is a rich one this one and if you paired it with some salted caramel, you would be sent to sweet heaven.

As an accompaniment to a dessert fitting of such an extraordinarily rich and opulent ice cream, this is definitely a recipe you should try.

I guess I can do my Rum and Raisin late at night when everyone is asleep.

Ingredients

Rich chocolate ice cream
2 cups heavy cream
1 ½ cups whole milk
7 large egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp salt
200gm bittersweet chocolate (70% or above), chopped
2 tsp vanilla extract

Peanut Butter
6 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
¾ cup icing sugar
¾ cup crunchy peanut butter
3 tbsp heavy cream

Method

    1. For the chocolate ice cream: in a heavy saucepan, combine the cream and milk. Warm over a medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until you have a simmer.
    2. Separately, in a heatproof bowl over a water bath, combine the egg yolks, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Whisk vigorously until the mixture doubles in size: 2 minutes or so.
    3. Remove the cream mixture from the heat. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about 1 cup of the cream mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour the combined mixture back into the remaining cream mixture, whisking constantly and heat over a medium heat; add the chopped chocolate and vanilla to the saucepan and stir until the chocolate is melted and combined. Cook until it forms a custard thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, ensuring it does not boil.
    4. Pour the custard through a fine sieve into a bowl and cool.
    5. For the peanut butter: in a bowl, combine the butter, icing sugar, peanut butter and cream. Using an electric beater on medium, beat for 5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
    6. Churn the rich chocolate ice cream until almost done. Pour the peanut butter mixture in just before setting and allow to churn.
    7. Kaboom.
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