Thursday, October 29, 2015

Simple Chicken (Crock) Pot Roast

I should have done this dish more often as it is easy and yummy, Just put the chicken in the crock pot and forget about it for 4 or 5 hours and have a great meal afterwards. I did this last week - inspired by John Grisham's The Appeal that I'm reading at the moment. I must be a bit hungry when I read to the bit that they went to the Trial Lawyers Convention and ate roast chicken and broccoli, albeit cold in the novel it still sounded quite yummy. So I went out to buy a whole chicken for my roast chicken venture.

For 2, you'll need:

Roast Chicken
1kg whole chicken, giblet removed
Salt & pepper
1 medium onion whole, peeled

Rub the chicken inside out with salt and pepper, pop the onion in the cavity and brown the skin on all sides in a hot pan with a little bit of oil. Place a deep dish upside down in the crock pot (slow cooker), put the chicken on top of the dish and cook on low for 4 or 5 hours ( the cooking time depends on your slow cooker.

When the chicken's done - rest it on a cutting board and cover with foil. Save the cooking juice for gravy but skim the fat off as much as you can.

2 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cup chicken cooking juice, if the juice is not enough, add water to make up to this
Salt & pepper to taste

Gravy is basically velouté sauce in my book but when I fry flour in butter, I like it to be a bit darker than blonde. Add the juice gradually and keep stirring until the sauce thickens. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or so. Taste the sauce and add more salt & pepper if needed.

Cut up the chicken and serve with boiled potatoes, carrots and of course, broccoli. Pour gravy on top, eat with or without cranberry jelly.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Nourish is a coffee shop on the ground floor of Ormiston Hospital in Botany. I know this little gem (the coffee shop not the hospital) a few years back when Bob had to undergo the gastroscopy at Ormiston, While waiting for the procedure, I made myself comfortable with a cup of mochaccino and a plate of club sandwich in the coffee shop with my kindle.

The hospital is a private surgery hospital so the place is quite nice and clean. It's more like office building rather than hospital, equipped with a convenient store and a nice coffee shop. That's why I know Nourish. They also cater to the hospital patients so Bob had no complaints when he came to and was fed with nice looking cafe food not just hospital food.

Since then Nourish is my meeting place with a girlfriend who lives in the City but has to come out to Botany for her hair cut every six weeks or so. It's sort of halfway between my home and hers. The interior is white and grey and they always have gorgeous centre-piece flower arrangement in a less-is-more kind of way. The staff is very friendly and welcoming, the food is good and the price is very, very  reasonable. They also do good coffee and it does not take long to get served - that's my kind of place to meet friends and enjoy coffee and food.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Simple Burger

Bob likes homemade burgers and I grudgingly make them from time to time. I try to avoid cooking them when the weather is not good (and we cannot open the doors and windows). Not that I don't like them but because I have to scrub the range hood the next day. Anyway, my burger recipe is very simple (just like Heston Blumethal's:) - you need only salt and pepper for your beef patties (no breadcrumbs, onions or ketchup please!)

For 2 you'll need:
250 gram of prime beef mince
1/8 tablespoon of salt
2 or 3 rounds of freshly ground pepper
A bit of oil for frying
2 good quality rolls (whole meal from Bakers' Delight will be good), toast
Cheese slices
Fresh tomatoes, sliced  (chopped Cherry tomatoes are sweet and yummy)
Mayonnaise (I use Japanese Kewpie)
Caramelised onions (optional)

Add salt and pepper to the mince, use your hand to mix it lightly just to combine. Shape the mince into 2 patties, about 1.5 cm thick. Fry the patties in a hot pan, put 1 teaspoon of oil on the patties instead of in the pan. Fry until nicely brown on both side, flip them often so they don't get burned but cooked through. You can fry onion slices in the same pan to go on top of the patties if you'd like.

Place the patties on the bread, topped with cheese slice(s), tomato slice(s) and a little bit of mayonnaise.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hobie Diary : Diva on her Divan

Time flies - Hobie is now 8 months and has transformed from a cutie kitten into a cutie little queen. She is 3.5 kgs and does not grow as much or as fast as the first few months. She also masters the cat flap and her proud Daddy cannot stop smiling.

She is also obsessed with moths and this summer she is going to have fun. I have seen her hook a blow fly from the air with her claws and played with it until it stopped moving and then ate it. Bonnie is also good at getting these flies if they fly low enough - and she is more clean with the killing.

Hobie is also getting to that tweeny age and sometimes she does not come to bed until late (or early hours in the morning) - just stays outside and parties with moths. Somebody is kind enough to switch on the in-deck lights for her almost every night.

Comes daytime this little darling needs to have a nap and her favourite spot for her beauty sleep is on the sheepskin that we put on top of the blanket box at the end of the bed. The Diva, indeed.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Chilli Concarne with White Beans

Long, long time ago when I was young, my mother had to soak (small) kidney beans overnight for this dish. Now we have canned beans - ready to cook, no more soaking. I think canned red beans are still quite firm and a bit chewy. suitable for long cooking. I like white beans (Cannellini), they are a lot softer and quicker to cook. They are also a bit bland so you can be a bit heavy handed with seasoning.

For 2, you'll need:

250 grams Premium Beef Mince
2-3 rashers bacon, chopped
350 gram can Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped or minced
1 - 2 tablespoon Marsala or Port
Oil for frying
2-3 tablespoons Sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 oregano
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
Chilli Powder

Mix the dry ingredient from salt down to pepper in a small jar and set aside.

Fry bacon in an iron casserole until crispy, remove from the casserole and drain on paper towel. In the same casserole, fry onion and garlic until fragrant, add mince and brown for a few minutes then add Marsala. Add beans, shopped tomatoes - bring to the boil and place lid on. Decrease the heat to low and let it simmer for half an hour or so.

Add ketchup and dry seasoning and a bit of bacon. Taste and add more salt, chilli powder and sugar if needed. Let it boil for a few minutes and remove from heat. Serve warm garnished with sour cream and crispy bacon and don't forget some garlic bread (and brush your teeth well after eating this:)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Jenji Kohan's Weeds

I have heard about Weeds for such a long time but because its half an hour per episode format, I just brushed it off as another sitcom/soapy TV series. We went on to see Breaking Bad and learned that Vince Gilligan sort of mentioned that if he had known about Weeds he would not have gone ahead with Breaking Bad (I'm glad he had not known about it, otherwise we would have missed one of the most brilliant TV series - on par with The Wire and Mad Men, with different flavour, of course).

Back to Weeds - we were sort of interested a bit in Weeds when Vince Gilligan referred to it but not enough to watch it. However, everything changed after we finished watching the 3 seasons of Jenji's Orange is the New Black. Jenji has a very wicked humour and is a brilliant writer. We love OTNB and thought anything created by the same creator could not go wrong so we sat and watched 8 seasons of Weeds, 2 episodes at a time over the past months.

Half an hour format is difficult to cram everything in for an Episode but Jenji carried it out swimmingly. A lot of people might have known what it's all about by the series' name. Yes, it's all about marijuana and Nancy, a widow in an affluent neighbourhood who had to sell it in order to support her family after her husband died unexpectedly at young age. Marijuana trades took her and her young family on a ride of roller coasters of life throughout  8 seasons. Her sons also engaged in criminal activities along the ride from childhood to manhood. We could not expect what would happen next. Jenji also introduced us to two hapless men, one Nancy's pot headed accountant and another her brother in law. One was so unlovable character through and through while another grew on you and you just couldn't help love him too in the end. Several famous guest stars appeared in the series as well, for example Snoop Dogg, Mary-Kate Olsen, Carrie Fisher and Alanis Morissette. I am not Miss Morissette's fan as a musician but I applauded her acting in Season 4 & 5.

Some call it a dark comedy but it's not that dark really, just a bit grey. It's quite hilarious and colourful at times. Season 6 was slow to start with but it picked up towards the end of the season. Breaking Bad is much darker and more violent. A lot of people compare Weeds to Breaking Bad - true, they both are all about so called 'drug' and middle class so called 'criminals' but at the same time they are different. Their screening overlapped at some point  (Weeds 2005-2012 and Breaking Bad 2008-2013) and the creators paid homage to each other. Weeds is much lighter but nonetheless fun - it will not disappoint. Just imagine Jenji Kohan's and Vince Gilligan's collaboration - will be very interesting.

Note: The picture above is from

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Espresso Pannacotta

Again, I have been caught up with work and social things that I did not blog early in the week. It does not mean I didn't have time - I did have some spare time but I just wanted to sit back and not lift my fingers. Apologies for my idleness (does it sound better than laziness?)

My lovely friend in Belgium just sent me her mother's recipe for Sabayon. Very kind of her and I think it might be beyond me at the moment but I will try, I promise.

For the time being, I can just make this quick and easy pudding - not really a last minute dish as it needs to set in the fridge for a couple of hours. If you have an espresso machine at home, use it to brew a shot of espresso. The result is miles better than an instant or a plunger version.

For 2 you'll need:
3/4 cup full cream
1 shot of espresso (about 45 mil)
1 teaspoon gelatin powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons thickened cream or lightly whipped cream
1 teaspoon sweetened condensed milk (optional)

Brew one shot of medium to strong espresso and leave to cool down to touch and transfer to a jug. Sprinkle gelatin powder in the coffee a leave for 10 minutes. Place full cream and sugar in a saucepan and heat up until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour hot cream into the espresso mixture and stir until all gelatin is dissolved. Divide the mixture into 2 moulds. Leave to cool down before refrigerating for a couple of hours.

Serve cold with whipped cream - I add sweetened condensed milk to thickened cream. It reminds me of my Thai Cafe con Leche. Yum, yum in a grown up way.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Udon in Miso Soup

Long, long time ago when I still had to commute to the city - I frequented this little cosy cafe where it served this yummy soup in Winter. It's Gloria's Cafe on Anzac Ave where you ate at the same table as the University students, lecturers, bankers and former All Blacks. I have heard that Gloria's is still there after all these years so they must have done something right!

It might not be the same recipe that I make but the results have not been too bad over the years. It's quick and easy to make.

For 2 you'll need:
250 grams Udon noodles (it comes in vacuum pack of 500 grams from Countdown - if it's too difficult to find, no worries, just use 2 packs of instant yellow noodles, cooked and drained), soaked in boiling water for a few minutes until soft and drained
200 grams Chicken, cooked and shredded
4 pieces of Fried Tofu Triangles, each cut in 4
3 sachets of Instant Miso soup Paste
1 litre Chicken Stock
1/2 Red Capsicum, sliced
1 Carrot, sliced
1 cup of chopped Greens; bok choi, kale, spinach
1 Spring Onion, chopped - for garnish

Add stock into a cast iron casserole and bring to the boil - add chicken and carrot. When the carrot is soft, add the greens. Add miso soup paste, stir well then add tofu and udon or cooked yellow noodles. Add more water and Kikkoman sauce if needed. Divide into the bowls and garnish with chopped spring onion. Serve hot.