Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Vietnamese Style Savoury Crepes (Bahn Tom) and Cucumber Relish (ขนมเบื้องญวนกับอาจาด )

We like Vietnamese food but one problem we have had when we eat out at Vietnamese restaurants here is that they often use peanut oil for cooking and Bob has developed nut intolerance in the last 4 or 5 years so we (or I – to be precise), have to try to cook Vietnamese food at home and omit nuts in the recipes.

This is one of the dishes that I can cook quite OK (after a few disasters in the beginning). The recipe is adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly’s Easy Vietnamese-Style Cookery. This portion should be enough for 4 medium size crepes.

½ Cup rice flour
¼ cup corn flour
½ tsp Turmeric
½ tsp sugar
2 Spring Onions, thinly sliced
1 ¼ cup coconut milk (or 1 cup coconut milk and ¼-1/2 cup Soda Water for extra crispy crepes)
2 eggs
1-2 tsps Fish Sauce
Mix all ingredients together and set aside.
1 Carrot, grated
50 grams mushrooms
15 frozen tiger prawns, thawed
2 cups bean sprouts
3-4 Tbsps chopped coriander leaves
1 Tsp fish sauce or 1 tbsp soy sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

Use a wok on medium high heat, cook prawn quickly with a little bit of oil until just cooked. Add fish sauce or soy sauce. Set aside in a mixing bowl. Cook carrot and mushrooms separately and briefly, using the same wok. Mix carrot, mushrooms into the cooked prawns – leave out the vegetable juices (from cooking). If you do not want to waste the juices, you can mix these in the batter.

Heat a nice clean non-stick wok/pan on medium high heat. Add a little bit of oil and wipe off the excess. When the wok is hot, add ¼ crepe mixture into the pan, tilt the wok/pan quickly until the base is covered. Wait until the edge comes away from the wok and add a little bit more oil (under the crepe). Cook until the underside is golden brown. Place ½ prawn mixture in the lower half of the crepe, add a handful of bean sprouts and fold the crepe over. Serve warm with cucumber relish.

Note: Someone has suggested that we should add a bit of soda water in the batter to make the crepes crispier. Maybe next time I’ll do that.


Cucumber Relish (A-jad)
1 cup of peeled and sliced (1/2 cm thick)cucumber
1 shallot or ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
1-2 Red or green chillies, sliced diagonally
1/4 cup water
2 tbsps sugar
2  tbsps white vinegar
¼ tsp salt

Dissolve sugar in water in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. Add salt and vinegar, stir until combined. Leave to cool completely. It is best to make this in advance so you can refrigerate it as it is best served cold.

Pour the vinegar syrup over cucumber, shallot and chillies just before serving.

Note: This cucumber relish is good as a salad with many Thai dishes

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Experiment with Lighting


Bonnie is a subject of Bob’s experiment with lighting.


From the front.

Side way with ears down.


Side way with ears up.


Errr...are we finished yet?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cherry Blossoms

In spring the cherry trees that line some of Franklin’s roads would be in bloom. This picture was taken in early spring in October. This year, though; the blossoms didn’t stay long because of strong winds. One minute they were there, and nek minnit....voom...they were gone with the wind.

They were beautiful albeit for a very short period. And although they might not be as full on as in Japan but we had our “Mini- Hanami” for a few days driving pass those trees with blossoms. I have stolen this picture from Bob’s Flickr. To see more of his photographs you can visit his Flickr page here

Friday, November 25, 2011

Man Slaw

The aftermath -  Bob’s help with spicy slaw.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Blackened Fish and Spicy Slaw

I have adapted my Cajun seasoning & slaw dressing recipes from the original Ruby Le Bois’s Cajun & Creole Cuisine Cookbook.

Cajun Seasoning
1 tsp Garlic Salt (or Chicken Stock Powder)
2 tsps Paprika
¼ tsp Chilli powder (hot)
¼ tsp Dried Oregano
Pinch of sugar
Black pepper

Put all ingredients in a small jar and shake – if there is any left over, it will keep for weeks.  Rub the mixture on both sides of the fish (we use about 4-500 grams or 3 snapper fillets). Heat you frying pan without oil on medium high heat. Pour a little bit of oil on the fish before pan frying them – add a little bit more oil if you need to. When both sides are cooked and well brown, add little cubes of butter on the fish, wait a few seconds for the butter to melt before plating.

Spicy Slaw Dressing
2 tbs good quality mayo
1 tbs sour cream
¼ tsp Dijon mustard
A dash or two of Sri Racha Chilli Sauce or Tabasco Sauce
A squeeze of half lime or small lemon
Black Pepper

Mix the above together until well combined – this will be your dressing for coleslaw. We use ¼ savoy cabbage (sliced), 1 carrot (grated) and 1 spring onion (diagonally sliced’ very thinly) with this dressing.

Bon Appétit

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Meditation AM/PM

Bonita Barkin’ Bonz was meditating in the morning light....


Meditation in the afternoon light had gone a bit too far for Pastel Paradox Pipz....(we nearly had a well-done cat:)

On sunny days like this, these critters will smell quite nice after basking in the sun for a while and then Pipi will put her cat spit perfume back on.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Barb's Royal Winton Chintz Collection

My friend Barb collects old china - Royal Winton Chintz - in ‘Sunshine’ pattern. Her collection seems to be growing everyday and she must have about a hundred pieces of them by now.

This ‘Sunshine’ pattern is one of many chintz designs Royal Winton mass produced in early 1900’s. You can read more about it here  and Treasure Hunt with Alan Carter here

These are only a few from her collection. Very pretty – aren’t they?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pineapple Spiral - How To Do It


When you see pineapples in supermarkets or green grocers – have you ever  been thinking that you want to buy one but the idea of having to remove the skin and black eyes puts you off  (oh..well, canned pineapples are a lot easier)? In Thailand you can buy pineapples that have the skin and black eyes removed which is very convenient. I had never done this myself until recently – I mean a few years ago - when New Zealand has allowed imports of pineapples from Asia. It will get easier with practice.


This is how we remove the skin and  eyes from a pineapple in Thailand (and also in many parts of Asia, I believe). You will need two very sharp knives for this process.


Cut both ends off.


Remove the skin with big knife – not too deep though. The eyes will be there but we will take them out later.


Just find the spiral lines on the pineapple after the skin is removed and cut the eyes out one by one (or two at a time) diagonally with the smaller knife so you do not waste too much fruit flesh.


We have our pineapples cold with spicy salt and sugar:


1 teaspoon salt (we use Himalayan Harvest’s Mineral Salt)
4 tablespoons white sugar
 ¼ - ½ teaspoon of chilli flakes
Combine all of the above in a glass jar and shake – spoon out as you need as the left over can keep for weeks. If you are in industrial & adventurous mood, you can use one or two fresh red mince chillies instead of the flakes.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Airbus 330-200

These is one of the seats in Airbus 330-200, the aircraft I was on from Sydney back to Auckland. Qantas flies this bird to LA from here.


The seat is nice and comfy but there is no storage. They replace seat pockets with personal entertainment screens. You have to put everything up in the overhead locker. You cannot even put your handbag under the seat in front of you as there is no room.


It was raining a bit in Sydney but when I arrived in Auckland it was warm and sunny at the end of September.

Thursday, November 17, 2011



I like to have nice table setting when we entertain at home.  The above was for Sunday brunch with friends.


This one was when I had the girls from the gym over for lunch.


Chinese theme dinner with friends. Bob questions my colour sense sometime.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tracey’s Tomato Chutney


I got this recipe from our dear friend, Tracey (remember her Beef Tataki?) She brought several jars around a couple of years ago and Bob could not get enough of it back then so he asked Trace for recipe. This chutney is good in your sandwich, with cheese and crackers, whipped up with sour cream to make a dip, on top of Brie en Croute and so on. 

Here's the Tomato Chutney recipe:
1.5 kg tomatoes, blanched, skinned and quartered
4 onions, quartered
2 tablespoons salt
2 cups brown sugar
2 1/4 cups Malt Vinegar
3 or 4 chilies
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons plain flour
1/4 cup malt vinegar

Put tomatoes and onions into a non-metallic bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and leave for 12 hours.  Drain off liquid formed.  Put tomatoes, onions, brown sugar, first measure of vinegar and chillies into a preserving pan.  Boil gently for 1 1/2 hours, stirring frequently.  Mix mustard, curry, flour and second measure of vinegar to a smooth paste.  Stir into relish.  Boil for 5 minutes.  Pack into sterilized jars.  Makes approx 4 x 350 ml jars.

I cut my onions much smaller. I use fresh tomatoes in summer when they are cheap and put a few kilos in the freezer so I can use them when the fresh ones are expensive. This is quite piquant - you have to adjust the amount of chillies if you do not want it too spicy and use mild curry powder instead of the hot one.