Fabulous Fava Bean Hummus

Had this delicious Fava bean hummus at Nomad restaurant in Surry Hills in Sydney last night. The hummus is served with vivid green parsley oil and crispy split and fried Fava beans on top. It is a visually spectacular dish filled with flavour and texture.

Fava bean hummus at Nomad Restaurant, Surry Hills Sydney

Making it at home would indeed be a “labour of love“ as Stephanie Mary says in her blog on My Tiny Laguna Kitchen. Her recipe looks great but the double peeling of the Fava beans is the time consuming part.

But it would make for a stunning starter especially if paired with yummy wood fired flatbread like it is at Nomad.

Wood fired flatbread at Nomad Restaurant Sydney

And here’s a link to making the bright green parsley oil from Delicious.com.au

Parsley oil recipe from delicious.com.au

Some inspiration for the future or if you are lucky like us, back to Nomad for more!

Certainly was a great way to start to what was a delicious dinner.

Spicy Southern Thai pork rib dry curry

A shortcut recipe for a Southern Thai Pork ribs curry with a zesty, spicy, sweet, sour Thai curry sauce…yum.

I was looking for dinner ideas yesterday and stumbled upon a recipe for this traditional Southern Thai “dry curry”, called this because it doesn’t have coconut milk in it. Now this is a new delicious discovery!

Shortcut Recipe

The traditional Thai dry curry recipe involves making the hot spice paste from scratch, which looked quite involved ..probably worth it if a larger amount and all the fresh ingredients required are available.

To bypass making the paste from scratch, but try to achieve the flavours outlined in the original recipe, I decided to use a bought red curry paste as a base and add additional ingredients such as turmeric, lemongrass, lime zest, fresh chillies and garlic pounding these to a paste first and then adding the bought curry paste.

The resulting paste worked really well. This is the only hard work you will have to do as the rest is just simmering it all together for about an 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Using lean pork ribs with very little fat also meant that the end result wasn’t overly oily/fatty.

My additional ingredients

I also added small eschallots and chopped green beans which are optional but the sweetness of the onions and crunch of the green beans went well with the succulent, lip smacking ribs!

This will be going on a family favourites list!

  • Ingredients
  • 1 large rack of “American style” pork ribs, ask the butcher to cut in half vertically. (About 600g)
  • 12 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 stick lemongrass
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 6 fresh red chillies
  • Knob of fresh ginger (about equal to quantity of garlic)
  • 1.5 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp,paste (optional)
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 7 heaped teaspoons of bought Thai red curry paste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon of cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 cups of water

Method:

1. Cut all the ribs into individual pieces slicing between them.

2. Slice 1/2 the stick of lemongrass, chop up 3 chillies, ginger, garlic and put into a mortar and pestle. Add the lime zest and pound all the ingredients until a paste forms.

3. Add the turmeric powder to the paste and mix through.

4. Add the bought curry paste and shrimp,paste and pound/mix together with your paste to amalgamate.

5. Heat oil in a heavy based pot (which has a lid), add curry paste and the 3 other chillies (left whole with stems removed). Stir fry paste until it is fragrant.

6. Add 1/2 cup or so of water to loosen up the paste, then add pork ribs and stir to coat ribs in sauce stirring continuously so ribs don’t stick and paste doesn’t burn. Add additional water if necessary. You just want the meat to “seal” rather than brown.

7. Add kaffir lime leaves, rest of water, fish sauce, black pepper, white pepper, sugar and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 40 minutes.

8. Add eschallots, lime juice and stir.

9. After another 15-20 minutes, check curry is not sticking, see if your meat is tender. Add green beans, and a bit more water if necessary.

10. Cook for 5-8 minutes until green beans are just tender. Sauce should be well reduced and you will see the oil separating slightly on the sides. You want the sauce to be coating the ribs!

11. Garnish with finely sliced lime leaves, chopped coriander and serve with jasmine rice, and an empty bowl on the side for your rib bones!

Bang Bang Chicken Salad

Bang bang chicken is a spicy shredded Chinese chicken salad that we first tasted at the humble but iconic “Chinese Noodle Restaurant” in the Prince Centre in Sydney’s Chinatown. As well as their delicious handmade noodles, their shredded chicken salad is always on one of our menu choices when we visit. It’s been a family favourite since the early 90’s!

Over the years I have also tried to recreate it at home. It’s a great weeknight dinner which can be served with lettuce cups, steamed greens and some jasmine rice if you like, or just delicious on it’s own.

It has the name “bang, bang” because it was traditionally banged with batons to loosen the chicken fibres before shredding. I use a mallet to do this and it works a treat!

Add chopped steamed green beans and lots of cucumber to add a bit more bulk to it as a meal in itself! It’s a great for lunch the next day too.

  • Ingredients
  • 2-3 poached chicken thigh fillets
  • Glad wrap and a meat mallet
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese chilli oil (I use Chiu Chow style)
  • 2 teaspoons Szechuan pepper crushed
  • 1 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger pounded to a paste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese Chinkiang vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced spring onions
  • 1 cucumber sliced and cut into chunks

Method:

1. Place glad wrap over poached chicken laid flat on a chopping board. Use mallet to lightly flatten, then shred into long strips into a bowl.

2. Whizz or pound Szechuan pepper in a spice grinder to a (not too fine) powder, place in bowl, mix with sesame oil, vinegar, chilli oil, sugar and soy sauce.

3. Add spring onion to chicken, then dress, mix well, taste to see if you want to add extra chilli oil or Szechuan pepper, or soy sauce if not salty enough.

4. I add the cucumber last and lightly toss.

Delicious #Koi desserts

We were spoilt with these beautiful artisan desserts at a lovely Sunday lunch we went to yesterday.

One of the other guests thoughtfully went to Koi Dessert Bar in Chippendale, Sydney to pick up these delicious treats that were perfectly complimented with a divine fruit platter. The Basqu cheesecakes were my favourite.

Desserts from Koi
Scrumptious summer fruit platter

A perfect ending to a long, lazy Sunday lunch…or anytime.

Koi Dessert Bar also has in-house dessert degustation menus and experiences that look amazing too.

Pork Larb with Green Beans #larb #salad

This classic Thai inspired salad is a great weekday summer dinner that is very tasty.

Thai inspired Pork Larb Salad

We are currently using herbs from pots in our courtyard that are thriving through the Sydney summer. Mint, coriander, chilies and basil are essential for this recipe and luckily close to hand at the moment.

I serve this with lettuce cups and some jasmine rice making for a quick but satisfying lunch or dinner. Also perfect for leftovers for lunch the next day.

Ingredients:

  • Ingredients
  • 500g lean pork mince
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic finely sliced
  • 2 tbspoons Vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 red chillies finely chopped (and 2 left whole optional)
  • 1 small red onion finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 1 small Lebanese cucumber cut into sticks
  • 4-5 lettuce leaves trimmed to create cups
  • Lettuce trimmings
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh green beans

Method:

1. Slice onions and garlic and set aside

2. Trim lettuce to create cups, place in freezer to crisp up, keep trimmings to add to salad.

3. Chop chillies, coriander and make cucumber sticks. (do not chop basil and mint as these are better torn and scattered into the salad at the last minute)

4. Squeeze lime juice and set aside.

5. Blanch green beans until just tender if using fresh green beans.

5. Heat vegetable oil in a wok, add sesame oil, add garlic and fry till just golden.

6. Add pork mince (and whole chillies if using) fry until browned. (I put the whole chillies in as they are there for extra spice if required for chilli heads without making the whole salad too hot to handle)

6. Add fish sauce, 1/2 the lime juice, pepper, sugar, chillies and stir through, then add green beans and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes until beans are heated through. Add some water here if required but not too much as you don’t want too much liquid.

7. Add all other ingredients to wok, including rest of lime juice, and tearing in mint and basil leaves. Gently toss. Taste to see if balance is how you like it, as you can always splash in more fish sauce or lime juice….or chop up one of the whole chillies if not spicy enough for you.

8. Serve with lettuce cups and jasmine rice.

Perfect retreat in Paradise #arcadiaretreat #rarotonga

We had a wonderful and very relaxing 12 days soaking up the tranquility at Arcadia Retreat at Arorangi in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. Arcadia has 3 villas, a beautiful pool and gardens and is just 200m from the beach. At night you can hear the sound of the ocean and in the morning you awake to beautiful sunrises over the hills of Rarotonga. Absolute bliss.

The beautiful pool at Arcadia Retreat, Rarotonga
View from the balcony at Villa Ta’i at Arcadia Retreat, Cook Islands

Villa Ta’i in which we stayed was beautifully decorated and spotlessly clean with 2 bedrooms, well equipped kitchen and access to a barbecue in the gazebo near the resort style pool. Arcadia Retreat has stunning views to the hills on Rarotonga and beautifully maintained tropical gardens.

Main bedroom at Villa Ta’i with doors opening out to large balcony.

Our Villa had very comfortable beds, good shower, a big balcony and lots of different areas to lounge, read and relax. Ceiling fans throughout the Villa and breezes from the hills kept the house cool and comfortable throughout our stay over December and January. There are only 3 villas available to stay in, so numbers of other guests are kept to a minimum. I would highly recommend this as a great option to staying in a busy resort.

Sunrise at Arcadia Retreat, Rarotonga (view from Villa Ta’i at Arcadia Retreat Rarotonga)

Maxine and Neil were helpful and friendly hosts who assisted with maps and tips to set us up for our stay. Arcadia Retreat is also conveniently located near a Vodafone hot spot so once you have purchased your wifi pass from the local Kavera supermarket internet access is very good. Although we spent most of the time exploring, snorkelling, swimming reading books and lazing by the pool.

Beautifully maintained tropical gardens at Arcadia Retreat
Arorangi Beach, 200m from Arcadia Retreat

We hired a car for our stay so we were able to trip around the island and enjoy lunches at some lovely restaurants and sunset drinks at Shipwreck Hut, a laidback and rustic beach bar, which is just a ten minute beautiful beach walk away.

Sunset at Shipwreck Hut, Arorangi Beach, Rarotonga
Great island sunsets and humour at Rarotonga beach bar: Shipwreck Hut.
Walking back to Arcadia Retreat from Shipwreck Hut beach bar. No need to drive!

Arcadia Retreat is also very close to Pacific Fish and Chip Shop which serves delicious fresh fish grilled or fried.

Pacific Fish and Chip Shop, best fish and chips in Rarotonga
Perfect peaceful retreat in paradise

Book often and book early so as not to miss out on a great accommodation option in Raro.Arcadia Retreat