Latest Posts

Indian Spiced Crab with crispy wafers

Christmas canapé inspiration…this is great with mini papdums.

freespiritfood

This makes a delicious canapé served with crispy thin wafers or mini pappadums on the side. Also be perfect on betel leaves if you can source them. Buying the pre-packed  crabmeat makes this a very quick and easy recipe to make. I made this recipe up on Christmas Day and it received good reviews from the family so thought I would share…unfortunately no end product photos!

Prep time: 5 minutes  Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
1 x 400g/500g tub of crab meat (available from seafood shops or supermarkets in Australia) – fork through crab meat to break chunks up
1 onion finely diced
1 tablespoon of ginger and garlic paste (2 cloves garlic and equivalent ginger ground to a fine paste)
2 sprigs of curry leaves removed from stalk
1/2 cinammon stick (preferably cinnamon bark)
1/2 teaspoon cummin powder
1 red chilli finely diced (can be omitted)
1 tspn black…

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Divine food in the eternal city at Da Enzo

This was a true foodie experience. It was definitely worth waiting for about twenty minutes to be squeezed in to a table at Da Enzo in the Trastevere part of Rome. Went there on the basis of glowing reviews on a number of blogs, crossing the Tiber from where we staying near the Spanish Steps, queuing in the light rain on a nippy autumn day in Rome. We were absolutely rewarded for our efforts and I couldn’t recommend trying it out yourself when next in Rome.

The restaurant is tucked into a tiny “hole in the wall” down an atmospheric laneway, it was Friday lunchtime and the other restaurants around were pretty empty but Da Enzo was heaving with lots of locals and some savvy tourists. Its reputation for serving authentic, Roman cuisine (cucina Romano) in true Roman family style has grown and grown over the years.

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After being shown to our table with rickety chairs and paper tablecloths by a member of the family, we pondered the menu and daily specials. Our neighbours to our right spoke English and told us they were regulars and “everything is delicious”. It was also great to see a menu in Rome that had items that were different from every other Trattoria in town. Driven by seasonality and freshness, with an emphasis on “biologica” – organic produce, today’s menu featured autumnal goodies such as artichokes, chicory and freshly caught “Soleil” (fish)..

We chose to sample the Carciofi ala Romano (artichokes Roman style), Burrata (Soft string cheese), Trippa ala Romano(tripe in tomato sauce and the Tiramasu which was calling for us from the display cabinet across the small room!

The artichoke was steamed and dressed with a zingy, minty olive oil and lemon juice concoction that brilliantly complimented its artichokeness. Tucked away in the middle of the artichoke globe was a little bit of mint leaf stuffing which added to the taste sensation. Who knew artichokes and fresh mint were such firm friends? Da Enzo and many Romans obviously do.

The fresh Burrata salad was a mean in itself with a huge pile of it served on a plate with the freshest cherry tomatoes tag at tasted lime tomato and fresh basil leaves. I have tasted Burrata on a number of occasions before but nothing to compare with this salty, sweet, stringy medley which was presented by Da Enzo. Along with the freshest bread and olive oil with herbs, the Burrata was almost a meal in itself.

However, I could not resist the Trippa Ala Romano, cooked to melt in the mouth tenderness in a delicious tomato sauce with pecorino, I think this dish would convince many people that offal is far from awful!

And for the encore, the Tiramisu was a celebration of fresh cream and rich, real chocolate with the biscuits subtly flavoured with liquer ….an absolute sweet treat to end a sensational meal.

So great finding this little gem of slow food, home cooking in Rome.

Website: http://www.daenzoal29.com

La Pentolaccia lives up to rave reviews!

Went to La Pentolaccia on the recommendation of a seasoned Rome resident on my first night back in the eternal city in 6 years. Having not stayed on this side of Rome (near Termini) before the recommendation was welcome as were the rave reviews on Yelp and Trip advisor. 

Down a cute little street, Via Flavia, just off Via Settembre in Sallustiano, La Pentolaccia is a great local restaurant that you always want to find as a tourist in Rome. Great service from friendly, professional and slightly bossy waiters; fabulous menu boasting dishes made with fresh, seasonal produce and a wonderful Roman vibe.

We had delicious grilled octopus and prawn rocket salad with an eyewateringly good freshly made horseradish dip on the side, followed by Osso bucco with delicious marrow and lobster fettuccine. The lobster fettuccine actually had large pieces of lobster claw in it and was presented in a fish formation! Followed with fresh berries and ice cream. 

Solid wine list which the helpful owner?/waiter Vincenzo helped us with. 

All in all a great first night out, all for less than €90 for the 2 of us. Definitely a great place to eat if you are on this side of Roma! 

Dates to die for: Bateel Dubai

My friend Norma took me to the Bateel date shops in Dubai Mall yesterday. Tasted the caramelised macadamia and candied orange peel filled dates and they are so delicious! Couldn’t resist buying a box for future consumption. Wondering if we can get these in Australia?

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Turmeric Spiced Brussels Sprouts

I love Brussel sprouts…this looks very interesting!

Surreyfarms. A serene haven in the foothills of Northern California

Brussels sprouts have garnered a new wave of popularity in recent years. For decades it seems brussels sprouts were given a bad rap sheet, mainly because of the way they were cooked – usually steamed or boiled and then seasoned with salt and pepper or a cheese sauce 😝. It’s no wonder these vegetables were relagated to the “yuk 😝” pile. But Mom always made brussels sprouts sautéd with a few Indian spices that transformed the little brussels sprouts into a delicious dish. 

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Vietnamese Style Beef Salad with Fresh Herbs and Mix Greens, Sweet Lime Dressing

Dinner tonight ..looks spicy, delicious and healthy!

eddy's kitchen

Asian salads are the best in the world.  The reason I love Asian salads so much is because they are interesting and the dressings are so fresh.  My favourite part is the tangy, fresh, strong flavoured dressings used in Vietnamese salads.  Also you cannot find mayo, cheeses, and olive oil, just plain old shocking freshness to hit your taste bud senses.  I love it!

Key Points:

  • Put fresh herbs in cold water for a few hours to regain the hydration
  • Keep the seed of hot chilli if you like it spicy
  • Use regular arugula if you can’t find the Vietnamese variety
  • Optional: try the slow-cook beef sous vide method to do the steak

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Cardamom …warm, sweet and spicy!

Cardamom A fragrantly warm winter spice – I love it and the cardamom season is getting into full swing in my house where two of our top seasonal favourites flavoured with freshly ground cardamom are: Winter Fruit & Spice Cake and The BEST Gingerbread Biscuits

via Sugar & Spice & All Things Nice — An Edible Landscape

Beef Mishikaki – looks yummy!

Been away from home for quite some time and these my mouth watering,honey balsamic beef Mshikaki was my way of welcoming myself back into the kitchen. I was feeling tired,jet lagged and starving.8 hours seated on a plane has never been a cup of tea,we all know how disappointing plane food can be. Long story […]

via HONEY BALSMIC BEEF MSHIKAKI  — We Men Should Cook

Thai Isaan Cuisine

I loved the Isaan cuisine of Thailand which I discovered while travelling in the north of Thailand back in the 90s. This article gave me a flashback. There used to be a great Thai Isaac place at Eastgardens in Sydney…wonder if it’s still there?!

Isan food offers much of the best eating in Thailand. Less celebrated globally but hugely popular locally. Although Isan food is less common outside of Thailand, inside the country it can be found everywhere. There are a few qualities and ingredients that seem to dominate: chili peppers, lime, peanuts, dried shrimp, fresh fruits and vegetables, […]

via Isan Cuisines — Thai Regional Foods

Vietnamese crab with tamarind sauce

This looks delicious – thanks Chica Andaluza!

I love reading cookery books, mainly to inspire rather than follow slavishly. Except when it’s a style of cooking that’s new to me or a cake recipe which generally needs the proportions of ingredients to be reproduced in balance with each other to achieve a good rise. I’ve had time recently to catch up on […]

via Vietnamese crab with tamarind sauce — Chica Andaluza

Black Pepper Prawn Curry

The sharpness of  black pepper, bite of the green chill and sweetness of the prawns are all melded together in buttery goodness, along with ginger, garlic, curry leaves in this simple curry.

Take the time to make the prawn stock as it really adds another dimension nod depth of flavour to the dish.

Prep time: 30 minutes (incl making stock) Cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:
12-16 King prawns
2 cups water
2 cloves garlic, 2-3 small pieces ginger for stock
1 onion halved, then thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic and equal ginger, pounded to a paste
1.5 tablespoons ground black pepper (best freshly ground in spice grinder)
handful of curry leaves (fresh best but dried ok)
2-3 small green chillies sliced lengthwise – can omit, or deseed
100g butter
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt
Chopped  coriander and slithers of ginger for garnish

Method
1. Peel and devein prawns, leave tails on, reserve shells for stock.

2. Place prawn shells in pot and cover with water, add ginger and garlic, bring to a boil then simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until water is reduced to about 3/4 of a cup. Drain and reserve stock.

3. In the meantime, slice onions, grind pepper and pound ginger and garlic for paste.

4. Heat vegetable oil over medium heat, then add curry leaves and fry gently until fragrant, then add onions and cook slowly until transparent.

5. Add pepper and butter and mix through onion until butter is melted.

6. Add green chillies and then prawns. Stir to coat prawns in opinion mixture, then add 3/4 cup of prawn stock. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until prawns are cooked through and stock is reduced and a thickish sauce is created.

7 Taste to see if extra salt is needed.

8 Garnish with coriander and slithers of ginger. Serve with fluffy basmati rice.

Durban-style Lamb and potato curry

Made this old favourite for dinner last night! Never tire of it.

Source: Durban-style Lamb and potato curry

Balinese Pork

Might be putting in a request for this scrumptious dish this week!

freespiritfood

This is one of my partner Adrian’s favourite dishes to cook. The original recipe is from a great little book, The Food of Bali – authentic recipes from the Island of the Gods written by Heinz van Holzen and Lother Arsana. We bought it in Ubud on one of our regular visits during the years that we rented a little villa in Jalan Bisma. This Balinese pork recipe transports us back to the smells of the kitchens of Ubud with its traditional ingredients of sweet soy, lemongrass, ginger, garlic and chilli all slow cooked to imbue the pork with a sweet, spicy flavour. We have adjusted the original recipe to adding lemongrass and using spring onions rather than the traditional shallots which are more difficult to find.

Authentic recipes from the Island of the Gods by Heinz Van Holzen and Lother Arsana Authentic recipes from the Island of the Gods by Heinz Van Holzen and Lother Arsana

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Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour

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Jackfruit, carrot and green bean curry

Growing up in South Africa we would often pass fruit sellers on the road selling these giant fruit. Although they look similar to stinky durian, jackfruit are not smelly and their fleshy texture is a great addition to vegetable curries. Full of great vitamins including Compex B vitamins and Vitamin A, jackfruit is great for your fibre intake. The humble jackfruit is becoming increasingly popular as a meat substitute for vegans and vegetarians, with it’s fibrous texture being used to replicate pulled pork and other meats. It is used in many Asian countries including  in Indonesian soups and curries – which I have enjoyed in Bali. Recently I discovered frozen green  jackfruit in an Indian grocery store in Sydney and made up this curry which was delicious! So, seek out frozen or canned green jackfruit in brine and try  it out!

Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes
Ingredients:

150g frozen jackfruit pieces
1 small carrot diced
100g Green Beans cut into pieces
1 onion finely diced
2 teaspoons ginger and garlic paste
3 green chillies sliced in half
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
Handful of curry leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cummin powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
3 tablespoons vegetable or coconut oil
2/3 can coconut cream (about 300 mls)
Salt to taste
Coriander chopped for garnish

Method
1. Heat oil over medium heat in a saucepan or pot that has a lid. Add cinnamon stick, cumin seeds and curry leaves and heat until fragrant.
2. Add onions and mustard seeds and cook until onion is soft and transparent.
3. Add ginger and garlic and cook through for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add turmeric, cummin and chilli powder and mix through ensuring spices don’t burn.

5. Add carrots and jackfruit pieces and coat in spice and onion mixture.
6. Add coconut milk and simmer gently for 15 minutes, adding water if curry is drying out too much.
7. Add green beans and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
8. Taste for seasoning and add salt to taste.
9. Garnish with coriander and serve with basmati rice.

 

Indian Hunters style Roast Leg of Lamb

Made this for dinner last night served with roast Brussel sprouts, roast potatoes and baby spinach salad.

freespiritfood

This is my version of the traditional Jungli Maas – the roast meat cooked by hunters using game. The original version of this recipe does not include ginger, garlic or curry leaves but I’ve adjusted the recipe to add further depth to the flavours. Delicious with a cooling cucumber and tomato kachumber salad or a green salad, and roast potatoes – even better as leftovers the next day. Don’t be scared off by the number of chillies they provide flavour rather than too much heat unless of course you decide to eat them which I wouldn’t advise for any other than those with serious chilli tolerance. The juices left in the pan are rich, spicy and delicious in moderation. Ghee is essential.

Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 2.5-3 hours
Ingredients:

1 2-2.5 kg leg of lamb, with bone in, that will fit in your largest casserole dish with a lid or get…

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Snapper in Indian “Crazy Water” Broth

As the says get warmer in Sydney, this is a great light but spicy fish dish!

freespiritfood

This dish is based on the Italian inspired recipes by Marcella Hazan and Neil Perry for “fish in crazy water”. Having previously made and enjoyed Neil Perry’s recipe, I had found the original light broth reminiscent of the texture of the South Indian soup known as Rasam that often accompanies meals. This version is of my own creation and includes the distinct aniseed flavour of star anise and the fruity sweet-sour flavour of tamarind. You can also easily play around with the combination of herbs and spices to suit your palette. This dish is perfect to serve with blanched spinach for a light and healthy dinner.

Prep time: 15 minutes  Cooking time: 55 minutes

Ingredients:
2 large snapper fillets with skin on
3 large, very ripe tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
3 red chillies
1/2 tspn sea salt
small handful coriander leaves
small handful mint leaves
1.5 tsp tamarind concentrate or…

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Singapore-style Poached Chicken and Chicken Rice

Made this tonight using reduced quantities and 2 chicken maryland pieces with skin on. Can’t go much wrong really!

freespiritfood

This recipe is inspired by the delicious chicken rice we had at Loy Kee Restaurant in Singapore recently. It seemed to me that it couldn’t be that difficult to replicate the tender and delicious poached chicken at home so I did a bit of reading and compared a number of recipes to come up with this easy to make version. Whist there are few different components involved if you want to have an authentic chicken rice meal with sauces and bok choy, none of it is difficult or complicated.

I also found that the leftover chicken was delicious for a shredded spicy chicken salad like the one we made at Spirit House Cooking School when we visited Yandina, Queensland about  a year ago. You can find my version here Simple shredded chicken salad

In fact, I would now use this method to make delicious poached chicken just on it’s own…

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Best Chicken Rice at Loy Kee, Singapore

Feel like eating poached chicken tonight…

freespiritfood

After extensive research into where to get the best chicken rice in Singapore, we settled on Loy Kee in Balestier Road. Established in 1953, Loy Kee has been dishing up the famed Hainan chicken rice for more than sixty years to loyal fans. A bonus is that Loy Kee opens at 9.30am so it’s perfect for a late breakfast or brunch.

Best chicken rice served up in restaurant surrounds at Loy Kee Best chicken rice served up in restaurant surrounds at Loy Kee

It is also a great option if you don’t feel like eating at a Hawker’s Centre with table service, menus and atmospheric surrounds.
The menu features special sets with bok Choy, beautiful satiny chicken broth, 3 delicious sauces – ginger, light chilli and soy, the chicken rice itself and either poached or roast chicken. We chose to try both versions of chicken to taste the contrast and loved both.

Poached chicken special set with delicious sauces and bok choy Poached chicken special set with delicious sauces and bok…

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South African Indian Boneless Chicken Curry

A staple in any South African Indian family, my version includes a dollop of yoghurt towards the end which makes for a creamier sauce. This is perfect served just with a salad and rice for a very tasty but healthy meal.

Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes
Ingredients:

4 medium size chicken thigh fillets, any fat removed and cut into bite-size pieces
2 tspoons ginger and garlic paste (4 cloves garlic and equal amount ginger pounded into a paste)
1 brown onion, cut in half, then finely sliced
1 tomato cut into chunks
2 pieces cinnamon bark or 1 quill
Handful of fresh curry leaves
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
3 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cummin powder
1 tesapoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons Vegetable oil
1 tablespoon plain yoghurt
1.5 cup water or chicken stock
Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped for garnish

Method:

1. Heat oil in heavy based pot over medium heat, and then add cinnamon bark, cummin seeds, cardamom pods and curry leaves.

2. When spices are fragrant, add onions and cook slowly until translucent.

3. Add ginger and garlic paste and mix through.

4. Add cummin powder, turmeric powder and chilli powder. Stir until fragrant but be careful not to burn.

5. Add chicken pieces stirring until chicken is sealed and beginning to change colour.

6. Add salt, tomato pieces and water to just cover chicken.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked and liquid is reduced.

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7. Add a dollop of yoghurt and mix through. Bring back to simmer for 5 minutes.

8. Taste to see if extra salt needed. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serves 2 as main dish

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Chicken and Mushroom Meatballs with cummin and chilli

Chicken and mushrooms have always been best friends, so I thought why not combine them in meatballs? The addition of chilli, coriander and cummin adds a zing! I had never used mushrooms into meatballs before but it worked really well, adding texture and “meatiness” to the fine chicken mince. These would be good as a starter with a sweet chilli dipping sauce or with salad for dinner. I served them for a late dinner alongside Butterflied Prawns with garlic and chilli and the Caramelised Brussel Sprout and Spinach Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes  Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients
400g chicken mince
4 button mushrooms very finely diced
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 onion finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of ginger and garlic paste (2 cloves garlic and equal amount ginger pounded to paste)
1-2 red chillies chopped finely
1 teaspoon cummin powder
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Method
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Combine all ingredients,except the olive oil, mix thoroughly check mixture is not too “sticky”. Add more breadcrumbs if needed. Mixture should easily roll into balls without sticking.


Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Roll mixture into medium sized balls and place on baking trip.
Brush the tops of the meatballs lightly with olive oil to help them brown and crisp up through the cooking process.


Cook for 20-25 minutes until golden. Check to see that the chicken is fully cooked, and leave for longer if required.
Makes about 20 meatballs.

Some quick tips:
I use disoposable gloves so I can mix the ingredients thoroughly and then roll into balls.

I also microwave a small portion of the mixture for 30 seconds or so to taste the mixture. This helps determine if you need more salt or spices.