This crispy pork mince stir fry is very loosely based on the Thai dish Pad Kra Pao, but now I have kids I tone it down a bit. I’m not cooking multiple meals if I don’t have to! They love this one…so delicious…

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (you can use less if you like)

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2-1 large red chilli (or more if you want it more authentic)

500g pork mince

1 packet silken tofu 250g ish

1-2 tablespoons fish sauce

2-3 tablespoons kecap manis

1/2 green Savoy cabbage, sliced (use any veg, wombok is great, red capsicum etc)

Fresh lime juice or lemon juice

1 bunch Thai basil, or coriander, to serve

Fried egg, jasmine rice, crispy chilli sauce to serve, optional

 

Heat a wok until very hot, add vegetable oil, swirl to coat, add garlic and chilli (these days it is only 1/2-1…it used to be 2-3) and stir for a few seconds only as it will burn quickly, then add pork mince all at once. I use 500g and it feeds 4 of us plus some leftover for lunch the next day. Stir a little to avoid sticking then leave it to brown a bit. Then break up with a wooden spoon. I like a flat-edged one, it is better for scraping. It needs to be hot enough so it doesn’t stew…it should be on the hottest burner.

If you can, get pork mince with some fat in it, from a butcher, it will taste much better and cook better too. Beware supermarket mince that looks like worms, I always find that turns out dry.

While mince is cooking bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and use a large spoon to slide tofu into water. Careful not to splash yourself. Turn off heat and leave to warm through while mince cooks.

Once the mince has lost its pink colour, add fish sauce, stir until it evaporates, then add kecap manis and cook until deeply golden brown. If it goes extra crispy that is extra delicious. Add cabbage or whatever veg you have on hand and stir through until just starting to soften but still green and a bit crisp. If you have a lot of veg you can put a lid on and let it steam for 30 seconds to a minute. If you add a lot of veg you’ll probably need to add extra fish sauce and kecap manis. 

Remove tofu from water with a slotted spoon to a bowl or the wok.

Taste, check seasoning, add lime or lemon and adjust salt/fish sauce/kecap manis as desired. Plunge herbs in a bowl of water to clean thoroughly, then shake off and roughly chop, stir through stir fry at last minute off the heat. Serve with jasmine rice and silken tofu.

 

We just had a beautiful weekend at our friends’ property in Fosterton NSW, about 3 hours north of Sydney. The last time we visited they cooked for us, so it was time for us to return the favour.

Here’s the menu, I cooked the spanakopita and osso buco, D cooked the pancakes, crumpets and nasi goreng. He’s a keeper.

Friday night- Spanakopita (which is a meal in its own right but…a long drive and ravenous children mean the addition of pork and ginger sausages from Feather and Bone https://featherandbone.com.au/

Saturday morning- Sourdough ricotta pancakes served with extra ricotta, lemon curd and maple syrup

Sat lunch- Nasi goreng with prawns and bok choy

D usually makes it with lap cheung (Chinese sausage…delicious!) but I forgot to pack it so we used the leftover sausages from the night before

Sat night- Osso buco, broccoli, crisp rosemary and garlic potato chips

I cooked 3 times what I normally would so we’d have enough for all 8 of us plus leftovers for lunch the next day, we still had a bit extra so the scraps went in the freezer for puppy treats for next time.

It was interesting trying out the gas oven. Hagar had made rugelach last time and noticed it took a while to bake so I allowed extra time (I started making dinner at 2pm) and had plenty of time to leisurely get dinner on and then left it to do its thing. The potatoes would normally take an hour, but took 2 hours to really crisp up. It will take me some time to figure out this new oven but it did make really nicely crisp potato chips!

Sun am- Sourdough crumpets with butter and local honey

We were fighting over them at the end, and D had made 22! Everbody adored them, they were so moreish.

Sun lunch- leftover spanakopita and osso buco plus a nice salad by Hagar (queen of salads) of all the crisp veg in the fridge plus feta

After all that food we needed a big walk so we took a stroll down to a neighbours farm and (with permission of course) the kids played on the hay bales. It’s pretty fun taking a running leap up onto a hay bale.

Ever fearful of running out of food (as if we could have!!) I had brought with me a tray of nutella brownies and a tray of lemon slice just in case anyone was hungry! The brownies got demolished by the kids, cramming them into their little mouths with gusto. I prefer the sweet tartness of the lemon bars…so I’m happy to have some leftover 🙂

 

Chewy on the outside, tender in the middle. These delicious friands are best served warm straight out of the oven, but will keep for several days…

Ingredients

180g salted butter, plus extra to grease

6 egg whites

240g pure icing sugar, sifted

120g almond meal (finely ground almonds)

75g plain flour

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest 

80g lemon curd

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C (not fan forced). if you only have fan-forced as an option, set it to 180C fan forced)
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan, you can let it go a little bit brown, it will add a nice nutty flavour. Don’t let it burn though.
  3. In a large bowl add egg whites and stir in sugar. Add melted butter in a thin stream whisking as you mix. Add almond meal, flour and lemon zest.
  4.  Grease a 12 hole friand tin (oval shaped), or muffin tin with extra melted butter and divide mixture evenly between holes. Mixture will be runny. Drop one teaspoon lemon curd into the centre of each friand.
  5.  Bake for 25 minutes, friands will be deeply golden. Use a butter knife of palette knife to run around the edge of each friand and remove gently to a cooling rack. Serve warm.

Tips

  • Icing sugar goes hard over time, buy fresh icing sugar to make sieving easy. Or give yourself extra time to sieve old lumpy icing sugar!
  • Almond meal goes rancid over time so store in the fridge or freezer and use within the best before date

References

I have been making these for years, but think I got the original quantities from the Australian Women’s Weekly website. 

The only thing my hands want to work on right now is this gorgeous kid mohair, silk and merino blend by Rosabella Yarn https://rosabellathreads.com.au/. I think it’s the combination of colour-play, texture and fun, inspired by one of my favourite knitwear designers, Stephen West, American born but now based in Amsterdam https://www.westknits.com/. His patterns are written very clearly and are always an enjoyable knit with a few interesting but simple techniques. This one is called Fantastitch and the fun comes from the colour play and the variation of pattern. It never gets boring!

The Rosabella fine kid fibre is grown, scoured and milled near Toowoomba in QLD, Australia. There aren’t many mills left in Australia so I like to support them whenever I can. The hand-dyed colours add a beautiful tonality that is more complex than a large scale commercially dyed wool.

I have only tried the Prima base so far, but am slightly addicted to its soft lustre and luscious hand-feel. The remainder of last years clip has been sent out to just a handful of yarn stores and I got mine from my friend Tash who owns https://handmakecreate.com.au/ and loves to support local producers.

I have spent the last 3 years helping other people pick colours for their projects, so it takes a special person to do the same for me. It’s like someone offering to make you a cup of tea…delightful!

These are *supposed* to be of equal size.Dave here. I’m doing some guest content on Tina’s blog to give her a kick into updating it herself.

Mister Seven’s standard breakfast order these days is “flatbread with cream cheese” – or, in the last couple of days, “flatbread with nothing on it,” because I guess he’s too good for cream cheese now? – and we’re almost out of pita breads from the shop, so today I decided to try my hand at making them.

The recipe here is from Chef John via Binging with Babish, and I didn’t change anything other than almost forgetting to add the salt, but the key question is whether they can be frozen and cooked later. A quick search suggests freezing the dough in balls after the first rise, then defrosting for 2-3 hours when needed and rolling them out – but that seems like a solution for a different problem than I have, which is how to make breakfast when I woke up ten minutes ago and the coffee machine is still warming up.

So here’s the experiment we’re doing: I’ve rolled out eight pitas (pitæ?), cooked one as a control (everyone approved, especially Mister Seven), and put the remaining ones in the freezer between sheets of baking paper. Tomorrow I’m pulling one straight out of the freezer and into the frying pan, no 2-3 hours of nothing.

Stay tuned.

 

Next day update

Freezing them turned out pretty well. Not quite as good as the fresh one, but it did puff up a bit after flipping a few times, and Mister Seven was happy with his breakfast. I put some Vegemite in a second one to throw into school lunches – this one didn’t puff up enough to have that pita pocket, but it was easy enough to tease apart with a knife.

 

 

Final update

So… satisfying…

The hunt for the ideal hot cross bun continues. I still miss my favourites from Davelle’s bakery in Epping, but I’ve moved house so it’s too far even for me to make the trip just for buns

I decided to have another crack at making them this Easter, and thought I’d try the Laucke sweet bun packet mix. It is a sweet bun packet mix so didn’t include the cross, which is fine as I find it is often a bit tough. I didn’t have very high expectations for the mix given the long list of ingredients on the label, but have tweaked it mostly in terms of method but added a few ingredients too:

1. I added 2 teaspoons of home ground mixed spice which I had on hand and added it to the flour.

2. I soaked 1 1/2 cups of dried fruit (currants, sultanas and a little mixed peel). It’s important to soak your fruit or it’ll make the buns dry as they soak up any liquid in the dough. Cover with boiling water and soak for a few hours or soak in cold water overnight. Drain.

N.B. As an alternative you could use cranberries or use choc chips.

Method

1. Add yeast to warm water to make sure it’s still active (it should start to froth up in 5-10 minutes). Add flour mix and spice to an electric mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, add the yeast liquid and mix on low speed until a dough forms. Swap to the dough hook and knead on medium speed for 8 minutes or until a small piece of dough stretched out forms a thin layer and doesn’t just break apart. This let’s you know the gluten has started to develop and this gives the bread its structure.

2. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, turn over in the oil and cover with oiled clingwrap. Place in fridge for 6 hours (or as long as you have, overnight would be fine). This retards the growth and develops flavour. The dough almost doubled in volume.

3. Dust a chopping board with flour, remove dough from bowl and  press out into an oblong like an A4 sheet of paper in portait. Lay drained soaked fruit on top and press in gently (it won’t go in much that’s ok). Roll up towards you starting at the furthest edge making small firm pressing turns to help enclose the fruit within the dough. Once rolled up, turn the log seam-side up and press out gently as before into portrait. Repeat the rolling again until the dough starts to stretch over the fruit and some of the fruit starts to pop out. Return dough to oiled bowl, cover and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

4. Cut dough into 8 pieces (this made quite large buns, you could easily make 10-12 buns) and shape into balls. Use flour as this is a bit messy. Try to enclose the fruit within the dough. Place buns on a baking paper lined tray with a little space between them as they will expand. Place tray inside a large clean plastic bag (like a small clean garbage bag), trap some air in there so the plastic doesn’t touch the buns and tuck ends under or tie up. Place on the stove top or another warm place. Place a pizza stone on the bottom level of the oven and preheat to 250C fan forced.

5. For the next 45 mins to 1 hour let buns double in volume inside the bag and oven should get really hot.

6. Remove tray of buns from bag and place in oven on the pizza stone, close door quickly. Reduce oven temperature to 200C fan forced. Quickly open the oven door and throw one cup of ice or 1/2 cup water onto the bottom of the oven underneath the tray of buns and quickly close the door. This creates steam in the oven which produces a nice crust and browning. Bake for 15-20 minutes until deeply golden.

7. While buns are baking make a glaze with 2 tablespoons white sugar, 1/3 cup water and a pinch of cinnamon. Bring to the boil in a saucepan, stir until sugar is dissolved then simmer for 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Brush warm glaze onto freshly baked buns. Allow buns to cool before cutting. They will be a little doughy straight out of the oven but are fine after cooling. 

Blood plums from Marrickville markets

Coat plums in sugar and leave covered overnight along with a muslin bag with some of the plum kernels in it.

I used Stephanie Alexander’s ratio of fruit to sugar. She uses 2kg plums, 1.25kg white sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Cut up plums, and set seeds to the side. Whack 10 of the seeds to crack them and place the kernels inside in a muslin bag. Place fruit and sugar in a large saucepan with a lid and leave overnight. The next day bring to the boil and skim froth. Add lemon juice and simmer for 30 minutes or until a teaspoon of jam sets on a cold saucer you’ve had sitting in the freezer. Remove jam from heat. Put muslin bag in a strainer over saucepan of jam and press with a large spoon to extract liquid. Ladle into hot, sterilised jars and seal.

N.B. The key to success is to use fresh fruit from the market, mostly ripe for good flavour and some still quite firm and tart. The under-ripe fruit has higher pectin levels which is what gives the jam its setting-ability. The kernels also add a lovely almond background flavour.
 
 

I have become obsessed with this cake, after testing it for the CWA challenge at work. It is a delicious and moist cake with the refreshing flavour of passionfruit to lighten it up. I have made a few changes to make it my own as the original had a tendency to crack. I bake mine at a lower temperature for longer which helps it not to crack as much, it still cracks a little, but settles back to almost flat with just a gentle dome. I’ve also cut the raising agent by replacing some of the self raising flour with plain flour.

Passionfruit Cake

(adapted from a CWA recipe)

Cake

250g butter, softened
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
3 eggs (room temperature), separated
200g self raising flour
100g plain flour
180ml (3/4 cup) buttermilk
1/4 cup passionfruit pulp

Passionfruit icing

1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon full cream milk
1 to 1 ½ tablespoons sieved passion fruit pulp

  1. Pre heat oven to 160C conventional. Grease a 20cm aluminium round cake pan with softened butter, line the base with a round of greased baking paper. Dust base and sides lightly with flour and firmly tap out any excess flour.
  2. Beat butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with a scraper paddle until light and fluffy, this can take 5-8 minutes. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time until combined.
  3. Add passionfruit pulp to buttermilk, combine sifted flours in a bowl. On low speed, add buttermilk and flour alternately to mixer bowl until just combined.
  4. Beat egg whites with a whisk until soft peaks form. Fold into cake mixture with a large kitchen spoon or spatula in two batches.
  5. Spread mixture into prepared pan, level the top and tap firmly on the bench. Bake in oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 or until cooked in the centre and golden on top. Stand for 5-10 minutes before turning onto a clean tea towel on a baking tray. Remove baking paper from base of cake if it has come out of the tin. Leave upside down to cool for 10 minutes if you want a flattish top. To invert, place a serving plate or baking tray on the cake and use the baking tray to support the cake. Hold together and carefully flip so the serving plate is on the bottom.
  6. For passionfruit icing, stir icing sugar, milk and enough passion fruit pulp to form a thick icing. Keep bowl of icing covered with cling wrap until ready to use so it doesn’t form a skin.
  7. Once cake has cooled, ice top with passionfruit icing. You can ice while warm but the icing will run down the sides of the cake.

N.B.
If you don’t have buttermilk you can replace it with 140ml full cream milk mixed with 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
This cake is really good straight out of the oven, and it looks quite pretty when the icing runs down the sides 🙂
 


This roast lamb shoulder was so delicious and easy.
Buy a deboned lamb shoulder, open it out and spread the inside with chopped capers, dijon, anchovies, lemon, olive oil, garlic and parsley, roll it up, tie with string. Roast at 230C for 30 minutes until golden and crispy then reduce heat to 160C for 30 minutes per kilo. Rest for at least 15-20 minutes. Recipe from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Meat book.

We had a stunning eggplant and pomegranate salad (recipe from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi) which went perfectly with the lamb.
Place eggplant over bbq or gas flame until charred, drain over colander, scrape flesh and mix with tahini, lemon, garlic, pomegranate molasses, parsley and a little water. Top with fresh pomegranate seeds.

My favourite comfort food – rabbit and pasta. The ragu is from Stephanie Alexander, it’s her ‘hare pasta sauce’ but made with rabbit.

The pasta is saffron linguine from Marrickville markets. Parsley, thyme and bay from the garden. The wine to deglaze the pan and relax the chef is a McLeish Estate cabernet sauvignon/merlot.