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Cardamom Cream Cake

Doesn’t this look good? Might do some baking tomorrow!

MyYellowApron

IMG_2010While my blogger friends are all over displaying these fabulous desserts for Valentine’s day, I was indecisive about what/how to bake. Oh! The pressure. I almost zeroed down on baking a Red Velvet Cake and nothing says Valentine’s day like Red Velvet Desserts. Right? But then I decided against it. I am going to reserve baking a decadent red velvet cake for the late summer/early fall time and I would love to share a funny story behind my first time baking a red velvet cake.

Now coming back to what-to-bake, I thought of trying this recipe that I had stumbled across a few months back in New York Times – Cardamom Cake. First I thought I would follow the recipe to the T, but the control freak that I’m, I ended up modifying a bit here and a bit there to give it a personal touch. The outcome was great however. The taste of…

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Indian brunch with potato curry, dhal, roti and coconut sambal

Quick Coconut Sambal

This sambal is a delicious spicy, sweet accompaniment to all sorts of Indian meals. Traditionally made with freshly grated coconut, I just use desiccated coconut which I first “rehydrate” a bit by soaking in coconut milk(from a can). If you are a coconut fan, then you will find this pretty more-ish.

Very nice as a side as part of an Indian brunch with Mild Potato CurryRed Lentil Dhal and  Wholemeal Roti

Prep time: 30 minutes  No Cooking required

Ingredients:
1.5 cups desiccated coconut
1 cup coconut milk for soaking
1 green chilli chopped
1 small eschallot or spring onion chopped
1/2 a finger length of ginger chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt

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Method
Soak desiccated coconut in coconut milk for 25 minutes or so
Drain coconut milk from desiccated coconut, pressing down well, reserve coconut milk
Put rest of ingredients into a food processor or spice grinder and blend to a coarse paste, add a teaspoon of the coconut milk to loosen slightly and whizz briefly.
Serve

Mild potato curry

Mild Potato Curry

This mild potato curry is quick and easy to make. Recently on a rainy Sydney day we were in the mood for an Indian breakfast, or more accurately brunch, so I made this accompanied by my Red Lentil DhalEasy Wholemeal Roti and Coconut Sambal. The resulting meal took us straight back to the streets of India  where these types of vegetarian combinations are favourites for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

This Potato Curry is also a good staple side dish that can be whipped up quickly and is particularly nice with grilled fish.

Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
2 medium size potatoes peeled and cut into smallish cubes
1 onion diced
1 tomato cut into large chunks
8 curry leaves (optional)
2 cloves garlic and same amount of ginger crushed into paste
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cummin powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup of water
coriander to garnish

Method
Boil potatoes first for 10 minutes in salted water(1/2 tspn salt) to which you have added 1/2 teaspoon of the turmeric powder. The potatoes should be almost cooked, but not too soft and they will be a beautiful golden colour from the turmeric in the water.

Drain potatoes in a colander and set aside.

Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan and add cinnamon stick, cummin seeds, curry leaves if using and mustard seeds and fry until mustard seeds start to pop. Be careful not to burn, remove from heat if necessary and add onions.

Cook onions over medium heat until transparent, add ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute.

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Add to tomato, chilli powder, 1/2 teaspoon, turmeric 1/2 teaspoon salt, cummin powder and mix through until spices just start to change colour, add potatoes and gently coat with onion spice mixture then add water and simmer until reduced and potatoes are tender and almost breaking up (about 5 minutes).

Garnish with coriander and serve.

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Indian breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner!

n with salted black bean sauce

Steamed Pumpkin with salted black bean sauce

This dish is inspired by Australian celebrity chef Neil Perry’s Spice Temple cookbook which features the recipes from his well known Sydney restaurant. Spice Temple features spicy regional Chinese cooking inspired by Neil Perry’s travels and his love of Chinese food.

The combination of the sweet steamed pumpkin with the salty black bean sauce and slight spiciness added by the dried chillies makes for a great vegetarian side dish. It’s a perfect accompaniment to pork, like the Crispy Asian Pork Belly Salad, or would be nice with grilled lamb cutlets too.

The Chinese ingredients in this recipe are worth adding to your pantry if you don’t already have them as they are commonly used in other Chinese dishes, especially Sichuan dishes.

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The black beans used here are not to be confused with normal canned black beans which are not fermented. Rather theses are salted and fermented black beans that form the basis of the salty seasoning used in Chinese dishes such as “beef in black bean sauce”. Don’t use readymade black bean sauce which is available in jars, but seek out the dried salted beans which come in plastic packets and found in Asian grocery shops.  That way you know exactly what’s going in your sauce and can control the saltiness and texture of the finished product.

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Salted black beans, Shaoxiang wine and Chiankiang black vinegar

The Chinese ingredients in this recipe are worth adding to your pantry if you don’t already have them as they are commonly used in other Chinese dishes, especially Sichuan dishes and will keep for months.

Note: the difference in the cooking time below will be due to how long your pumpkin takes to steam to tender. Different types of pumpkin and stage of ripeness will affect the time.

Prep time: 5 minutes  Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
Ingredients:

1/4 piece, about 500g peeled pumpkin chopped into medium size pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic and same amount of ginger crushed
3 tablespoons salted black beans
2-3 dried chillies
2-3 teaspoons white sugar (depends on tasting for salty sweet balance)
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon Chiankiang black vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
coriander or sliced Spring onions to garnish

Method
Steam pumpkin for 25-35 minutes until tender. I use a steamer basket over a wok.

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Steaming pumpkin

About 20 minutes into steaming, heat oil in seperate pan over medium heat.

Add dried chillies – broken in half, ginger and garlic paste and fry until just changing colour
Add black beans and stir fry gently until you can smell their “salty fragrance”
Add the sugar, Shaoxiang wine and simmer gently until the liquid has almost evaporated

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Pour in stock, soy sauce, black vinegar and simmer for 8-10 minutes until black beans have plumped up, some of them may have burst a bit, and the sauce will be thickened. mix through sesame oil.

Put pumpkin in serving dish or platter, pour sauce over the top and scatter with coriander or spring onions.

 

 

Crispy Asian Roast Pork Belly Salad

Crispy Asian Roast Pork Belly Salad

This is a delicious way to eat pork belly with crunchy crackling and moist roast pork tinged with the flavours of Asia – soy sauce, coriander, chilli, and hints of black vinegar. All it really needs is some steamed greens and jasmine rice on the side for a complete meal. It would also be a very good pre-prepared dish made for sharing or as part of a buffet.

i have read many very different techniques for getting crunchy crackling but I just stick to the simple method of keeping the pork uncovered in the fridge for an hour or two and then drying with a cloth and rubbing the scored skin with generous amounts of salt before putting into oven. (Seems to work every time for me.)

And, as most of the prep and cooking time is just drying out the pork in the fridge and then roasting in the oven, you can get on and do other things without too much fuss.

Prep time: 2.5 hours  Cooking time:2 hours
Ingredients:

750g boneless pork belly, with skin scored both ways into cross-hatch
2 tablespoons soy sauce for marinade
2 tablespoons salt

Salad
half a bunch coriander chopped
1 red chilli finely chopped
1 eschallot or half a red onion very finely sliced
2 tablespoons Chiangkiang black vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Method
Dry out pork belly uncovered in fridge for at least 1 hour or even overnight
Put soy sauce on a plate or in a flat dish and carefully place pork, flesh-side down on top of sauce, taking care not to get any soy sauce on the skin – leave to marinate for an hour

Heat oven to 200 degrees celcius

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Pork marinating in soy sauce

Remove from marinade and carefully place on baking paper lined baking dish/oven tray.

Wipe skin once more then rub salt thoroughly into skin and in between scoring

Place pork in oven, and cook at 200 degrees celcius for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 170 degrees and cook for a further 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn heat to maximum using the top grilling element to grill the pork until crackling starts to crisp up, about 10-15 minutes. Keep a close eye on the pork at this point as the skin can burn easily.

Meanwhile, chop coriander and chillies and slice onion finely,and set aside.

Remove from oven and rest about 25 minutes until medium warm, then cut into cubes, trying to keep crackling and meat connected where possible.

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Crispy roasted pork belly

Mix herbs, onions and chillies with black vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil.

Cut pork into cubes along the scored “lines”

Layer the pork with the herbs mixture, drizzling the dressing over the pork.

Serve with steamed greens and jasmine rice. I also like steamed pumpkin with salted black bean sauce with it and I promise to post that recipe soon.

Serves 2-3 with other accompaniments.

image Crispy Asian Pork Belly Salad with steamed greens and pumpkin[/caption

Indian spicy mint and coriander pesto/chutney

Indian Spicy Mint and Coriander Chutney

This crunchy, spicy mint and coriander chutney, which is almost like a pesto, goes brilliantly with grilled meats, prawns and fish. It is a great accompaniment for any Indian meal, Aussie BBQ or just spread on toast! I have also used it as a chutney with cheese and biscuits.

Easy and quick to make, it will keep well in the fridge for up to a week. Best to bring to room temperature before serving.

Traditionally made by roasting and then grinding the peanuts, I cheat and use super-crunchy peanut butter which works very well to bind the herbs into a pesto like texture.

Prep time: 10 minutes  Cooking time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:
1 bunch mint – leaves removed from stalks and washed well
1 bunch coriander – with roots removed, washed well and chopped into large pieces
1-2 red chillies chopped into large pieces
2 cloves garlic and equal amount of ginger crushed to a paste
1 medium onion finely diced
1 medium ripe tomato finely diced
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cummin seeds
1 stick cinnamon
2 tablespoons super-crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Method:
Whizz coriander, mint and chillies in a food processor until finely chopped

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Mint, coriander and chilli chopped finely in a food processor

Heat oil in non-stick frying pan, add cinnamon, cummin seeds and mustard seeds and cook until mustard seeds pop, but be careful not to burn

Add onions and cook slowly over medium-low heat until translucent

Add ginger and garlic paste, tomatoes and a pinch of salt and fry with onions until soft and slightly caramelised

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d garlic with onions and spices

Add mint, coriander and chilli mixture and heat through

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Add mint, coriander and chilli to tomato onion mixture

Just as leaves start to change colour, add peanut butter and mix through as it starts to melt, cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat

Allow to cool slightly so peanut butter firms up again, then serve warm or at room temperature as an accompaniment.

 

Portuguese pork and clam stew with roasted capsicum sauce

Portuguese pork and clam stew with roasted capsicum sauce

We used to have this dish at the Petersham Portuguese Chicken Shop and Restaurant in Sydney before it burnt down in a terrible fire. I have never made it at home but thought I’d try it out for something a bit different. I did a bit of research on the Internet and checked a variety of recipes, some with and without the capsicum paste, before deciding on this version. The stew comes from the Alentejan region of Portugal and is usually served with fried potatoes but can be served with crusty bread or plain rice.

Marinating the pork in the milk and wine overnight tenderises the pork and gives it a lovely almost silky texture when cooked. The roasted capsicum paste can be made the day before as well if you want and adds a sweetness and a subtle spiciness that compliments the natural saltiness of the clams. The clams can be replaced by cockles but purging them by soaking in water is important to remove any grit.

So, please note the time required for marinating the pork and purging the clams below.

Marinating time: 8 hours or preferably overnight
Purge clams: 2 hours soaking in water to remove any grit
Prep time: 10 minutes  Cooking time: 1. 5 hours (including roasting capsicum)

Ingredients:
Roast Capsicum Sauce:
2 medium size red capsicums
8 cloves of garlic unpeeled

Pork Marinade
500g pork belly rind removed and cut into 2.5cm cubes
1 cup milk
1/2 cup wine
2 bay leaves
1/2 tspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 tspoon salt

Stew:
4 eschallots thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic crushed
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup vermouth or dry sherry
1/2 cup capsicum paste
1-1.5 cup chicken stock or water
1 kg of clams soaked in water for 2 hours, washed and drained
1/2 bunch of thyme tied with kitchen string
500g marinated pork belly removed from marinade and patted dry on kitchen towel
chopped parsley to garnish

Method
Marinate pork belly pieces in milk, white wine, peppercorns, salt and bay leaves mixture overnight or at least 8 hours

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Marinate pork overnight

Cover clams with cold water and soak for 2 hours, changing water a few times to remove grit

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Drain clams after soaking for 2 hours in water

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celcius and roast whole capsicums and unpeeled garlic cloves sprayed with olive oil until capsicum blisters and starts to blacken, after 25 minutes raise heat to maximum to blacken capsicum if necessary, turn capsicums through roasting process. Remove from oven and place capsicums, not garlic, in a plastic bag and tie a knot in it. The heat from the capsicums will create a little steam bag and make the skins peel off easily when you take them out. Skin, reseed and chop the capsicum flesh. Peel and chop garlic. Blitz capsicum and garlic in a small food processor to create a paste.

Heat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Heat half the oil in an non-stick frying pan and fry pork pieces on high heat to brown on all sides. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel.

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Fry pork to brown

Heat other half of the oil in a heavy based casserole pot, then add eschallots and garlic and cook slowly until onions are translucent.

Add pork and 1/2 cup capsicum paste, vermouth or sherry to onion mixture in pot and place in oven, uncovered for 30 minutes.

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Stew pork in oven for 30 minutes uncovered

Add clams, stock and thyme. Cover pot and put back in oven for 15-20 minutes or until clams open.

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Add clams, stock and thyme

Remove thyme, garnish with parsley and serve with potatoes, rice or bread and a crisp, green salad.

Serves 4

Okra, corn and tomato fry

Okra, corn and tomato fry

If you don’t like or haven’t tried okra because of it’s reputation for being slimy, then this recipe will surprise. Dry frying the sliced okra before sautéeing  with tomato, onion, garlic and corn removes the slime and produces a tasty vegetarian side dish that is healthy and a delicious side dish served with green salad leaves and grilled pork or fish. Okra is full of fibre, antioxidants and vitamin K.

Prep time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 2o minutes

Ingredients:
1 onion thinly sliced
1 large tomato chopped
2 cloves of garlic crushed
10-12 medium size okra , washed, dried, stalk cut off and sliced lengthwise in half
200g of canned  corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or Cajun spice
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves stripped from stalk
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
finely chopped parsley to garnish
Optional: baby spinach leaves or lettuce to serve with

Method
Heat non-stick fry pan over a high heat, add okra cut side down until it browns and the sticky gel emitted dries up. Cook on cut side only. Remove from pan and set aside. (You will need to was pan before using again).

Heat oil in pan then add onions and cook slowly until translucent
Add crushed garlic and sautée for 1 minute
Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper or just the Cajun spice if using latter, and mix through onion and garlic
Add tomatoes and thyme and a splash of water and cook until tomatoes just start to break up (5 minutes)
Add okra and corn kernels and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring gently from time to time to prevent sticking

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Add okra, then corn to tomato and onion mixture

Taste okra to see if it needs additional cooking time, should be still slightly crunchy.
Garnish with parsley, serve on bed of spinach or lettuce with grilled fish or pork cutlets

Homemade Borlotti baked beans

Homemade Borlotti Baked Beans

My six year old neighbour Martin is coming over for lunch today. A few months ago Martin popped in to say hi and I had just taken my homemade baked beans out of the oven. Martin was astounded to find out that baked beans don’t just come out of a can. He was even more intrigued when I showed him the actual raw beans. “They are like nuts”, he said. I gave Martin a small taste of the freshly cooked beans and he loved them. Since then whenever I see him he talks about the baked beans,so I thought it only appropriate that I should make a batch for lunch.

Whilst they take time to make, due to having to soak the beans, then twice cook them, the results are so much better than using beans out of a can and the cooking process gives you the opportunity to use herbs and spices to your taste in the sauce.

I use Borlotti beans for this recipe, but you can also use white beans or cannellini beans. Cooking the beans with a ham hock adds a smoky sweetness, but is not essential.

Prep time: 8 hours soaking + 10 minutes  Cooking time: 3-4 hours

Ingredients

Soaking:
2 cups dried Borlotti beans
water to cover

Boiling
soaked Borlotti beans
water to cover
1 small ham hock
1 onion studded with 4-6 cloves

Baking
1 onion finely diced
3 cloves garlic finely diced
Shredded ham from hock
2 bay leaves
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tbspns tomato paste
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves stripped from stalks
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tabLespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tspoon salt (or to taste)
2 tspns crushed black pepper

Method
Soak beans overnight or for at least 8 hours covered in plenty of cold water
Drain beans and place in large soup or casserole pot
Cover with water, at least 10cm above beans
Add ham hock and onion studded with cloves
Bring to a boil then cook on a slow bubbling boil for 1-1.5hours or until beans are just tender (length of time depends on freshness of beans so check to see if they are cooked earlier or need longer. Mine cooked really quickly this time so broke up a bit, but were still fine in end dish)
Beans should be tender but still holding their shape, a few might break up
Remove ham hock and shred meat, removing skin and gelatinous bits
Drain in a colander and set aside

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Boiled and drained Borlotti beans

Preheat oven to 150 degrees celcius
In a large casserole pot that has a tight fitting lid, heat oil, then add onions and cook slowly until transparent
Add garlic and shredded ham bits and cook until garlic looks golden
Add beans, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, tomato paste, worcestshire sauce, sugar, salt, pepper and and thyme and bring to a boil
Cover with lid, then carefully place in oven
Check after half an hour and remove lid if it is looking too watery
Bake in oven for 2-2.5 hours until sauce has thickened

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Boiled and drained Borlotti beans

Serve on toast for breakfast, lunch or dinner – delicious with avocado slices and a squeeze of lemon

"Amazing" chicken Marylands with tomato, thyme, garlic and eschallots

Amazing Chicken Maryland with tomato, thyme, garlic, and eschallots

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chicken marylands with tomato, thyme, garlic, eschallots and chilli ready for oven

The combination of these classic ingredients cooked slowly in the oven creates a succulent chicken dish that is healthy and full of flavour. Of course, I can’t resist adding some chilli for a bit of a kick but it is just as lovely without. You can also add large cubes of potato which absorb the juices as they cook. (You might need to add a bit more stock during the cooking if you use potatoes.)

Served with a simple green salad and some crunchy bread to mop up the juices, “amazing chicken”, as our family calls it, is a great staple for weeknight dinners or as a main dish for casual lunches.

Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 1hr-1.5hrs
Ingredients:
4 chicken marylands or 6 chicken thigh fillets
6 cloves of garlic
1 large tomato cut in large chunks
2 red chillies sliced in half(optional)
8 eschallots
Half a bunch of thyme, leaves stripped off stalks
Salt and crushed black pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
1/2 cup dry white wine
3-4 tablespoons Olive oil
Parsley to garnish

Method:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius
Heat oil in large frying pan and brown chicken marylands on both sides to a golden brown colour

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fry chicken marylands until golden brown

Remove chicken and place in a flat,deep casserole dish in one layer
Add eschallots and cloves of garlic to frying pan and fry to create a caramelised finish to eschallots and garlic cloves
Remove from oil and spread over chicken in casserole dish
Add tomato, chilli, if using, and thyme leaves to chicken
Sprinkle liberally with salt and black pepper
Pour over stock and white wine
Place dish in oven uncovered to cook until chicken is tender, onions and garlic cloves are cooked and liquid is well reduced.(at least 1 hour)
Turn up oven to max or to top grill for about 5-10 minutes, to further brown and crisp up the top of the chicken
Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes or so before serving with salad and crunchy bread to mop up juices

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Make sure you have crunchy bread to mop up the amazing chicken juices

Serves 4

Featured Image -- 1922

Persian Layered Rice Pilaf

This layered rice pilaf from foodieonboard.com looks different and delicious! Must try it sometime.

Foodie On Board

 

Persian Layered Rice Pilaf Persian Layered Rice Pilaf

It’s a birthday cake…it’s a cheesecake…it’s…what is it???  Well, it’s a Persian Layered Rice Pilaf and I’ve had my eyes on this recipe for over a year now. I finally had the occasion to make it last weekend and I’m happy to say it was a success.  The cookbook I found it in had no photograph, but the description sounded so lovely that I had to try it. It is a very unusual dish and I guarantee your guests will be intrigued and more than a little bit impressed! You could pile each of the pilafs individually on a large platter or layer them, like I did and then sprinkle them with chopped pistachios.  It makes a beautiful accompaniment to grilled or roasted meats, or kabobs.  The recipe comes from Mollie Katzen’s, Vegetable Heaven.

Ingredients:

 3 cups basmati rice, rinsed and drained

5…

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Salmon En Croute with fennel, chilli and dill butter

Salmon En Croute with fennel, dill and chilli butter

This recipe is inspired by Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver who both have very different versions of the classic Salmon en Croute. According to my google search the term “en Croute” refers to food cooked in pastry in the oven, most commonly salmon or beef. For the Salmon En Croute, Rick Stein in his recipe book Seafood Cookbook uses a butter with currants and mace spiced butter filling, whereas Jamie Oliver uses a spinach and watercress creme fraiche filling. As I decided to make this after I had already done the grocery shopping, I thought I’d try a filling with ingredients I had which I knew would go well with salmon.

The resulting pastry parcel with a homemade fennel, dill and chilli butter was absolutely delicious seved with a homemade kale,carrot and red cabbage coleslaw with avocado and tomatoes.

It was easy to make using store bought frozen pastry and you could just experiment with the type of flavoured butter filling you’d like. I would recommend using some substantial ingredients, like the thin fennel slices I added, to introduce some additional texture to the filling.

These parcels would be excellent with a crisp green salad and/some roast potatoes. Be aware of the size of the salmon fillets you use, as this quickly becomes a very filling meal. In fact we couldn’t finish our serves so next time I would probably just cut one large salmon fillet in half and make individual portions to serve 2, or use 2 large salmon fillets to make 4 individual parcels.

It’s advisable to let the parcels rest for at least 10 minutes after taking out of the oven – this lets the juices stay in the fish. This is a dish that would be just as impressive for a formal dinner, as it would be as a delicious buffet item or just lukewarm at a picnic!

Prep time: 15 minutes  Chilling time: 1/2 hour  Cooking time: 25-35 minutes
Ingredients:

2 medium size boneless salmon fillets, skin removed
2 square sheets of stone bought (Pampas) puff pastry
1 small bulb fennel, tips and fronds removed, and very thinly sliced
1 medium size red chilli chopped (optional)
handful of dill leaves finely chopped
50g of unsalted butter softened but not melted
salt and pepper
1 egg beaten to use as egg wash
1 sprig continental parsley leaves roughly chopped

Method

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Stuff salmon pockets with herbed butter

  1. Take 2 square sheets of puff pastry out of the freezer and packaging to defrost for about 10 minutes
  2. Blend 2/3 of the fennel with the chopped chilli in a spice grinder or blender until a rough, textured paste forms (not too fine)
  3. Mix paste well with softened butter, add chopped dill and ground pepper to your taste
  4. Pat salmon fillets dry with paper towel and make a deep slit in the thickest part of each fillet trying to make each “pocket” as deep as possible without cutting through to the other end
  5. Lay rest of thinly sliced fennel, fill pocket with herbed butter, and add a few parsley leaves before pressing salmon closed.
  6. Place each salmon topside down in centre of puff pastry, brush edges with egg wash then turn over long edges and gently seal creating a long “seam”.
  7. Turn over with “seam” on the bottom, trim short edges close to edge of filletand press with a fork to seal.image
  8. Make decorative topping with leftover pastry and use a teaspoon to create a fish scale pattern across the parcel.
  9. Place parcels in freezer for 1/2 hour or fridge for an hour
  10. Put a large baking tray in oven and pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celcius
  11. Remove parcels from freezer/fridge and brush with beaten egg all over

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12. Carefully remove hot baking tray from oven and cover with greaseproof paper, place parcels on top, Bake in oven for 25 -35 minutes, if pastry is browning too quickly cover with a tent of foil.

13. Remove from oven, allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving with salads and sauces of your choice

Fish Briyani with tomato chutney and turmeric rice

Fish Briyani with Tomato Chutney & Turmeric Rice

This Fish Briyani is based on a recipe from my Aunty Vimala who inspired my interest in cooking when I was young. I can still vividly recall the enticing smells of spices cooking and the delicious flavour combinations that came from her kitchen. I wrote this recipe down, taking notes as she made it, when I last visited South Africa in 1997.

The spicy tomato chutney, fresh herbs, sweet caramelised onions and lightly fried fish combine to create a more-ish, layered fish dish that is delicious on its own or with youghurt, mango or mint chutney and pickles to the side.

This is a lovely dish to serve as part of a buffet lunch or dinner as it is actually nicer warm, rather than piping hot, and even better the next day.

Don’t put off by the number of steps and spices, it really is a matter of making each of the components seperately and then combining into the completed layered dish. Once you’ve done the prep it’s just a matter of putting it in the oven and because it can be prepared even a day ahead and reheated in the microwave it is excellent for entertaining.

Preparation time: 30-35 minutes Cooking time: 60 minutes
Ingredients:

700g firm white boneless fish fillets like snapper or flathead, cut into medium size pieces (I used small flathead fillets in this recipe)
1 1/4 cups basmati rice par-boiled with 1/4 tspn turmeric to make it golden in colour

2 medium size brown onions sliced thinly
3 medium size ripe tomatoes chopped
5 cloves garlic chopped roughly
Large Knob (equal to amount of garlic)of ginger peeled
2 sprigs of curry leaves
2-4 small green chillies chopped finely
4 tablespoons coriander leaves and same amount of mint leaves chopped
1.5 cups chicken stock
5 tablespoons or so vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of butter

Dry Spices – (see quantities in method below)
Chilli powder, cummin powder, turmeric, fennel powder, cinnamon sticks, cummin seeds, fennel seeds, salt, sugar

Method:

1. Crush ginger and garlic together in a mortar and pestle.

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Marinating fish fillets for briyani

2. Marinate fish fillets, for half an hour, at least with 1/2 tspn chilli powder, 1/2 tspn turmeric, 1/2 tspn cummin powder, 1/4 tspn fennel powder, 1/2 tspn crushed ginger and garlic, pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.

3. Par boil basmati rice with 1/4 tspn turmeric, strain and set aside. Make sure rice is only half cooked or it will turn gluggy when cooked in oven.

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Par boiled basmati rice cooked with turmeric

4. Make tomato chutney: Heat oil over medium heat in heavy based pot, add 1-2 cinnamon sticks, 1 tspn cummin seeds, 1 tspn fennel seeds, curry leaves from both sprigs and fry until fragrant; add 3/4 of the sliced onions and fry gently until translucent, add 1/2 tspn chilli powder, 1/2 tspoon fennel powder, 1/2 tspn turmeric powder, 1/2 tspn salt, 1 tsp. sugar, add green chillies and rest of the ginger and garlic and sautée gently for 1 minute being careful not to burn spices, add tomatoes and 1 cup of chicken stock and simmer for 20-25 minutes until tomatoes degenerate and stock evaporates and oil starts to reappear. The resulting chutneys should be moist but not watery. Taste to see if extra salt is needed.

5. Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius

5. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in pan and fry fish fillets for 1 minute on each side to “seal” – remove from oil and drain on paper towel.

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Lightly fried “sealed” fish fillets

6. Chop coriander and mint roughly

7. Assembly: coat medium size ovenproof dish with 1 tablespoon of oil, put a thin layer of rice on the bottom, put a thin layer of tomato chutney over rice(remove cinnamon sticks from chutney), sprinkle 1/2 of fresh herbs over the tomato chutney, place all the fish gently on top of the chutney, put remaining chutney over fish trying to spread evenly across dish, sprinkle remaining mint and coriander on fish, add remaining rice to cover fish. Using a spoon sprinkle 1/4 cup of stock over rice. Cover dish with foil or lid and place in oven for 35-40 minutes. Check on dish to add more stock if rice is drying out too much. Ten minutes before the end, add little “dollops” of butter across surface of rice, cover again before placing in oven for last ten minutes.

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Layer rice, chutney, fresh herbs and fish

8. Fry remaining sliced onion in oil or butter until golden brown and lightly caramelised, drain on paper towel.

9. Remove dish from oven, sprinkle with onion and herbs for coriander and mint for garnish. Allow to rest for 10-30 minutes.

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Fish Briyani garnished with fried onions and fresh coriander and mint

10. Serve as a feature dish in a buffet with yoghurt raita, salads, pickles and chutneys of your choice.

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Fish Briyani with tomato chutney and turmeric rice

Serves 3-4 depending on size of serves

Fresh mussels in Thai style broth

Mussels in Thai Broth

An easy, healthy and delicious main courses or starter – can be served with crispy bread rolls or jasmine rice. Make sure you use fresh mussels. It’s all the better made using homemade Thai prawn stock(see recipe below) but bought fish or chicken stock will do if you are short on time.

Prep time: 10 minutes  Cooking time: 10 minutes
Ingredients:
1 kg of mussels, beards removed (do not use any broken mussels)
1 small brown onion finely diced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 pieces ginger/fresh galangal finely chopped
1-2 hot red chillies chopped
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
6 coriander stalks and roots cleaned and chopped, leaves reserved for garnish
thai basil for garnish
750 ml prawn or fish stock
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Method:
Heat oil in large pot that has a tight fitting lid
Add onions, garlic, ginger and chillies and sautéed over medium heat until onions are translucent
Add coriander, stock, fish sauce and sugar
Add mussels, fit on lid and bring stock to boil.
Shake pan and check after 3-4 minutes, once mussels are open, garnish with coriander and basil leaves, and serve in deep bowls with soupy stock. (Throw out any mussels that don’t open)

Homemade Thai Prawn Stock
Ingredients
Heads and shells of 12 prawns
4-5 small pieces of galangal
2 pieces about 1 finger length of ginger
1 stalk lemongrass chopped
1 brown onion cut into quarters
4-5 coriander roots cleaned of any soil
3 cloves garlic
3 litres water

Method
Put all ingredients into stock pot and bring to a rolling boil
Simmer for an hour-1.5 hours
Strain to remove solids
freeze unused portions for use as a base in Thai soups and Curries

Crispy Pork Belly, turmeric dressing, cauliflower and dukkah spice

14 Top Ubud Restaurants & Warungs

We’ve just arrived home in Sydney from Ubud after a wonderful 2 weeks there. I thought I’d share our favourite restaurants from this trip, including some old favourites and new finds while it was all fresh in my mind.

When we travel we like eating like the locals do, whilst also trying out the gastronomical stars. This trip to Ubud we did just that, eating at some great local warungs and places like Mozaic, Hujane Local and Spice Gastrocafe. We also tried on this trip to go to a few places that are off the beaten track of the main Ubud streets, so this is quite an eclectic mix!

Here’s an overview of  our favourite places for breakfast, lunch and dinner:

Melting Wok
Our absolute favourite place for dinner. There is also always a warm welcome from owner Geraldine and the team at Melting Wok who excel at great service and being hospitable. Geraldine is French and her husband Phillipe is Laotian and these cultural influences are evident in the  delicious main courses and desserts. The menu is small and simple, featuring the legendary stir fries and light coconut based curries with fresh herbs that have a unique fragrant Laotian flavour. Desserts include chocolate fondue, creme caramel and my favourite, the coco crepes with brown sugar and coconut cream. I could not write up Melting Wok without mentioning the stand out Mojitos which at IDR55,00(AUD $5.50) are an absolute steal. Great value for money dining overall with great fresh food and excellent service. Hugely popular restaurant with local expats and tourists so make sure you book ahead to guarantee a table.

Made’s Warung
In the ricefields behind Penestanan, follow the path which starts next to Bubu’s Warung on Jalan Penestanan Kelod and then turn right. Made’s Warung is up some stairs in a beautiful garden setting. The menu features Balinese, Indonesian and International favourites all freshly cooked. The Soto Ayam(chicken soup)!here is an absolute standout and the chicken with honey and chilli is a great take on sweet and sour chicken. Servings are very generous and the food is delicious. Warung prices so you will be pushing to spend more than AUD$15-20 unless you drink a lot of Bintang at $3.50 for a large bottle!

Kafe
Kafe is an Ubud institution, and a focal point for the Yoga Barn set. Serving delicious organic food, Kafe’s menu features soups, sandwiches,   Small plates and main courses. The rice paper sping rolls, kitchri, Indian plate, Ayam Rica Rica, and Soto Ayam are all excellent and the list of drinks includes Indian style lassis as well as fresh juices, coconut water and smoothies. In Jalan Hanoman.

Soma
Relatively new on the Ubud scene, SOMA is in Jalan Gootama in a Balinese courtyard setting, with tables set in the shade of frangipani trees and bamboo plants. The menu has a mixture of raw and cooked, healthy organic goodies. SOMA is all about healthy cooking, so if it’s not raw the food is created using slow cooking techniques. My “live” porridge with fresh fruits was absolutely delicious as are the fresh fruit juices. Good healthy lunch and dinner options and excellent for vegans and vegetarians. Service is a bit slow but worth the wait for the ambience and menu options.

Yellow Flower Cafe
Yellow Flower Cafe is tucked away in the Penestanan ricefields, on the walk between Penestanan and Bintang supermarket. If you are coming from the Campuhan end then follow the path from the stairs next to Bintang and if going from Penstanan, the path starts near the “taxi stand” opposite the real estate office. It is a quintesentially hippie cafe, frequented by the yogis staying in the ricefields. Run by a local Balinese family, the Cafe is great for breakfast with items like – Feta,Avocado and Tomato toast, on crispy baguette, which I suspect comes from the nearby Kue bakery in Penestanan; fantastic pancakes with bananas, coconut and strawberries and excellent egg shasuka which are eggs poached in a tomatoey ratatouille type sauce. Once again great frsh fruit juices, smoothies and Balinese “Jammu” or medicinal drinks.

Kue Bakery and cafe
There are 2 Kue bakeries in Ubud, one on Jalan Raya Ubud just down from Jalan Sugriwa and the other smaller outlet on Jalan Penestanan Kelod. If you need a fix of fresh croissants, crispy baguette or to indulge your sweet tooth with a cake or dessert, then Kue is definitley your answer when visiting Ubud. Everything is organic and freshly baked each morning and both bakeries operate as Cafes as well with sandwiches and organic wraps.

Wayan’s Juice Bar
On Jalan Penestanan Kelod, next to Warung Mendez, this is Boost Juice, Balinese style! The kitchen is more like a storeroom for the fruit, vegetables and herbs used in the juices. There is a huge list of combinations of fruit and vegetable juices, all made to order. My favourites include the banana, pineapple and passionfruit and the Beetroot, carrot, lime and  ginger! Delicious 🤗

Hujan Locale
Will Meryck’s Ubud restaurant offers a smorgasbord of regional Indonesia dishes in an elegantly colonial style restaurant in Jalan Sri Wedari. Using ingredients sourced through their partnership with local farmers and suppliers, the dishes range from tasty appetisers such as crispy pig’s ears through to stir-fries and curries, as well as dedicated vegetarian and gluten free menus.  Quality of food and service is excellent as one would expect from a Will Meryck establishment.
Smorgasbord of Indonesian delights

Mozaic
Mozaic restaurant is one of Ubud’s finest dining experiences and has won numerous awards to attest to this. The restaurant is very elegant and features dining in an tropical garden setting – very romantic at night. Chris Salans and his team use French and European cooking methods to create imaginative and divinely delicious dishes, each inspired by one key Indonesian ingredient. Mozaic offers set course menus of 6 or 8 courses and prices are high by Bali standards, but I recommend at least one visit as a true gastronomical adventure. Mozaic also has a lounge bar for cocktails and snacks.
See the review of our New Year’s Eve dinner.

Spice
Spice is Mozaic’s Chris Salan’s latest Ubud offering which he is calling a gastro-cafe. If you can’t make it to Mozaic, and even if you can, make sure you try out the fabulous more casual dining offer at Spice, on Jlan Raya Ubud. The menu features small plates as well as as more substantial mains and a daily specials menu. We tried gorgeous vegetarian dumplings; crispy pork belly with turmeric sauce, cauliflower and dukka, green salad and a very authentic Malaysian prawn laksa. The wine list is good, and wines are available by the glass. like Mozaic, each of the dishes incorporates local herbs,spices and sambals in a creative and thoughtful manner. The attention to detail in presentation and great fit-out make for a very pleasant casual dining venue as you watch the action of Ubud’s Main Street through the glass frontage. Must visit!

Warung Saya
Always a very eclectic experience at this tiny Warung, with only 4 tables, now relocated from Jalan Gootama to Jalan Sugriwa in the centre of Ubud. The owner Amir is a one man band, for taking reservations, serving the food, cooking it and entertaining guests with his loyal miniature poodle, Princess by his side. As well as being a fabulous cook, Amir designs dog costumes and Princess is usually decked to the nines! Bookings are essential and Amir usually requests food orders are placed ahead of your arrival by email so he can prepare ahead and cut down what can be otherwise a long waiting time while he cooks your dinner from scratch. The food is really delicious, and I always enjoy the Indian inspired dishes such as the Mysore Chicken. The fried tofu is to die for as is the stunning grilled eggplant served with yoghurt and tomato chutney. Amir is not a fan of hot chilli, so the dishes are delicately spiced. I’m not sure how he manages to do it all on his own but it is always feels like you are in his home and he is cooking for special guests.

Warung Mendez
Specialising  in Javanese food, Warung Mendez in addition to tasty appetisers such as their corn and spring onion fritters, battered tempeh, and lumpiah(spring rolls); soups such as Rawon, rice dishes like Nasi Goreng; Warung Mendez also serves special dishes like BBQ leg of goat and Beef ribs marinated with herbs and spices and served with rice and Lawar (green vegetables with coconut and spices). The meat dishes are perfectly slow cooked over coals and are redolent of smoky spicy flavours. The accompanying sambals and the green papaya salad are perfect accompaniments to the bbqed meats. Would highly recommend the special Gado Gado which is topped with fried tofu, a poached egg and delicious peanut sauce. Never tasted a Gado Gado like it before. Located in Jalan Penestanan Kelod. Warung Mendez Lunch Review

Bubu’s Warung
Down the road from Warung Mendez, Bubu’s Warung allot feels like an Australian cafe with chalkboard messages explaining the provenance of the ingredients as being fresh from the markets each day, and a light airy setting which is quite minimalist. This could be the influence of Bubu’s son Kadek who lives and works in Australia. The family run Warung is cheap and cheerful with wholesome, good food prepared by Bubu herself. Menu is a mix of local and international favourites. Balinese special dishes must be ordered 24 hour ahead. The service is excellent.

Warung Ibu Suna
For an authentic Babi Guling experience, outside the famed Ibu Oka which is now filled with bus loads of tourists, I’d recommend you venture up Jalan Sangingan to Ibu Suna, which is on your left hand side as you head out of Ubud, just before the turn to Kedewatan village. Most local warungs serving Babi Guling only open until that day’s pig/s has been finished so I’d recommend you factor in Babi Guling at Ibu Suna for brunch and go before 12.30 or you might find it is closed. The Babi Guling here is served traditionally with crispy crackling, tender white meat, bits of crispy fried innards(which you can skip), a spicy lawar(green ferns and coconut), hot chilli sambal and rice. Ibu Suna’s version gets top marks and is understandably very popular with locals.  A real Babi Guling experience

Chef Dewa explaining the herbs and spices to be used in our Balinese cooking class

Review: Bali Asli Fishing and Cooking Class experience

This is the second cooking class experience that I have done through Bali Asli, which is based up in the hills of East Bali overlooking Mt Agung.

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The Jungkung, traditional Balinese fishing boat, that took us out for our fishing experience.

This time we chose the Fishing Experience package that combines a morning boat trip departing at 8am from White Sand Beach, near Jasri village and out into the surrounding bay. We were picked up from Turtle Bay Hideaway and driven right down to White Sand beach where a local fisherman was waiting for us with his Jungkung(traditional Balinese outrigger fishing boat). We were pushed out into the water by a number of other fisherman and soon were speeding along to our first fishing spot as the sun climbed higher into the sky over the glistening waters.

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Great views out to island outcrops and back to the shore in the waters off Jasri, East Bali

We were given substantial hand reels and bait to use in our endeavours to catch fish, but despite trying a number of spots we only managed to catch one small fish which we threw back. The currents were really strong, swirling the waters in the bay, which our local expert told us was “no good” for fishing. The local fishermen go out at 5am – early bird …and all that!

The boat trip itself was really enjoyable as we got great views back to the shore and close up to some of the island outcrops. Lovely way to start the day.

Afterwards we were driven up through some of the towns of East Bali, like Amlapura, with beautiful gardens and spotless streets winding up the hills to the stunning location of Bali Asli, which is owned and run by Australian expat Penelope Williams.

There we were greeted with a cooling drink and morning tea goodies including Sumping (steamed coconut custard cakes with ripe jackfruit) and Nangke Goreng (battered, fried jackfruit fritters) – both delicious. This was to get our energy up for the pounding of the Bumbu Bali (spice paste), mouldings of chicken satays, wrapping of fish and tofu in banana leaves, mixing of salad and stir frying of Nasi Goreng which was to come!

Dewa, one of the senior chefs at Bali Asli restaurant, first sat us down and explained the various herbs and spices we would be using, before taking us on a short tour of the garden where much of the restaurants herbs and vegetables are grown.

We were then allocated our own work area and guided through the making of each dish with very helpful tips and a few tricks e.g how to make little banana boats and “money bags” for grilling of the fish and steaming of the tofu.

The cooking class itself goes for about 2 hours but the time flies and we were very pleased with ourselves when we sat down to eat all the delicious dishes we had cooked around 1pm.

Whilst I had done the same menu when I last visited Bali Asli, I still learnt a lot this time again, and as there were only 2 of us in the class this time we received much more personal attention.

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Pesah Be Pasih – spiced fish fillet in banana leaf parcel

The cooking experiences at Bali Asli are just that – total experiences, combining a great insight into Balinese tradition and culture with excellent advice, guidance through the step by step process for each dish, and the opportunity for personal hands-on practice, rather than just watching an instructor making everything.

On both occasions that I have participated I have thoroughly enjoyed the “immersion” experience (See review of Balinese Village Cooking Class Experience)and the beautiful drive up and back from Bali Asli with its stunning views across the green valleys and ricefields to Mt Agung.

For more information, visit: http://www.baliasli.com.au

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Stunning views from Bali Asli, Karangasem, East Bali to Mt Agung

View of sunrise from Villa Mandala at Turtle Bay Hideaway, Jasri, East Bali

Review: Bali bliss at Turtle Bay Hideaway, Jasri

I haven’t included accommodation reviews here before , but I am making an exception to share the very special experience that we recently had at Turtle Bay Hideaway in Jasri, East Bali.

The trip  to Turtle Bay in Jasri, East Bali takes around 2.5 hours from Ubud.

Admittedly, we stopped on the way for delicious Kambing(goat) satays at a buzzing warung(local restaurant/food stall) called PakseBali Kebangankku just outside of the town of Klungkung. Our long time driver and friend Wayan Suta told us that the goat satays here are renowned throughout the island and they certainly were a tasty brunch feast, straight from the charcoal grill to the plate with a delicious homemade satay sauce. The accompanying soup was rich and filled with chunks of tender goat meat and spices.

The drive to Jasri is on good roads throughout and takes you through some stunning Bali vistasacross ricefields and plantations and out to the ocean.

Having done extensive research to find a small, quiet resort near the ocean, without the artificial trappings or sky high prices of the five star resorts in Bali, we had decided to try the Eco-hotel Turtle Bay Hideaway, created by US expat owner Emerald Starr who has lived in Bali for 30 years.

We were warmly welcomed at the reception area and escorted through a beautiful, lush garden to Villa Mandala which is situated in the lower half of one of the 3 joglo style tribal houses, brought by Emerald from Sulawesi, that are strategically placed along the property for optimal ocean views and maximum privacy.

We actually caught our breaths seeing the 180 degree view of the ocean from the front of the villa. The ocean is literally at the end of an expanse of lawn and you can even see it lying in the massive King size bed inside. The large oceanside infinity swimming pool is positioned between the 2 larger  villas, with the 3rd “honeymoon” villa featuring it’s own smaller, private pool by the ocean.Our villa was very tastefully decorated, with a beautiful indoor/outdoor bathroom and excellent shower, and surrounded on each side for privacy by the lush garden plantings.

Our  welcoming host explained the lie of the land to us, including the fact that there is no restaurant so all meals are served at the villa as room service, or at a choice of dining locations along the seafront or in the gardens. As the meals are prepared using freshly procured ingredients from local fishermen and Turtle Bay’s own organic garden, a few hours notice needs to be given for the preparation of meals and breakfast is ordered the night before. Unlike many “breakfast included” villas in Bali, there is a wide range of choices too.

For our first meal we chose papaya salad, fishcakes and a light coconut based fish curry. The menu includes Asian inspired and western favourites. Whilst not extensive there are more than enough choices to satisfy individual tastes.

Our breakfasts were filled with the best tasting tropical fruits, freshly made crepes and eggs or omelettes. A highlight for me was drinking the juice of a young coconut and then eating the sweet, soft flesh with a spoon!

The Thai Tom Yam Goong soup was very authentic with lots of fresh prawns as well as galangal and kaffir lime leaves. It was obvious that the deliciously flavoured clear broth had been made using homemade fish stock.

The Prawns with Balinese sauce, the Ayam Goreng nuggets made with chicken breast, and the Orange Cake with Vanilla Ice-cream were all great picks on the menu. Our only disappointment was that we didn’t get to try the banana and chocolate pie for dessert.

We found with all the food we ordered that the freshness of the ingredients shone through.  It is organic, home style cooking that goes perfectly with the natural setting. Prices of food and drinks were extremely good value for money too.

There are a number of activities that can be organised from the resort, but we chose only to leave to explore the neighbouring village and to visit the Uforia organic chocolate factory next door.(of course,we taste tested about 12 different types and bought bars of all our favourites!) You cannot swim in the ocean at Turtle Bay, but the once undiscovered and now very popular, White Sand Beach is 10 minutes away drive and is a gorgeous swimming spot. We were just as happy lolling in the pool.

Turtle Bay only accommodates 12-14 guests in total so the experience is very personalised. The manager Made and his team are friendly, polite, caring and provide excellent service with all meals delivered right on time and the rooms kept spotlessly clean.

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View of sunrise from Villa Mandala at Turtle Bay Hideaway, Jasri, East Bali

Our days at Turtle Bay were totally relaxing – reading, swimming, yoga on the verandah overlooking the ocean, great massages and going to sleep with the sound of the waves crashing on the sea wall. We were lucky to get clear skies at night and be able to see the night sky fill up with brightly shining stars and to wake up to magnicent sunrises over the ocean.The immensity of the ocean and sky fill in the days much better than any manmade entertainment. Mind you, the WiFi service is good too.

I would highly recommend the beautiful Turtle Bay Hideaway if you are seeking a blissful Bali Oceanside retreat, without the hoopla of Seminyak or Nusa Dua, at a very affordable price.

 

 

Seared Freshwater Sulawesi Yabbies, Radish puree, Ginger flower, chargrilled watermelon and Black Truffle

Review: New Year’s Foodie Nirvana at Mozaic Restaurant Ubud, Bali

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Tray of fresh herbs and spices featured in menu

Our special treat for New Year’s Eve 2015 was to book in to the acclaimed, award-winning Moziac Restaurant in Ubud for their special seven course degustation.

Chef Chris Salans opened Mozaic in 2001 bringing together the indigenous flavours of Indonesian herbs, spices and vegetables with first class imported ingredients such as wagyu beef, black truffles, foie gras all prepared with sophisticated French and European cooking techniques.

The resulting menus and dishes have earned Chris Salans and his team a list of awards as long as your arm, not to mention, calls for a Michelin Star from Mozaic’s international diners.

As you can imagine, our expectations were set very high as we stepped through the beautiful wooden doors into the Mozaic Lounge for a pre-dinner aperitif and complimentary appetiser. We were brought an appetiser of a light as air tiny profiterole filled with a luscious savoury, truffle infused custard.

Our host explained the wine pairing menu with dinner which we decided to go with, and we were very well rewarded , as each of the wines complimented the complex flavours of each of the courses perfectly.

We entered the atmospheric garden pavilion surrounded by beautiful tropical plants and festive new year decorations to be seated for dinner. Divine setting!

One of the best initiatives is the tray of fresh spices that is brought to each table and as each course is presented, the waiters explain which of the spices and herbs are used in each dish. With many of the ingredients unique to Indonesia, this is a great way for diners to touch and smell them and understand more about what they are about to enjoy.

Each course is inspired by a theme of the local flavour featured e.g torch ginger flower or kaffir lime.

Our seven course eating odyssey began with a complimentary amuse Bouche of sweet lobster with a light cucumber and lime foam. It was an delicious introduction to the greater things to come.

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It would be too difficult to try to explain each of the courses in detail so instead all I will do is post my photographs with the menu titles and short descriptions.

I can only recommend that if you are going to Ubud that you visit Mozaic for a truly amazing dining experience. At $170-350 per head depending on your wine choices, it is by no means cheap but it is in comparison to what you would pay in any major city for the same quality of food, ambience and service.

Foodie Nirvana indeed!

For restaurant information visit http://www.mozaic-bali.com

Dabu Dabu (Indonesian sambal)
Fresh chilled oysters with Dabu Dabu Relish and Russian Sturgeon Caviar

Kecicang(Torch Ginger Flower)
Seared Freshwater Sulawesi Yabbies, Radish puree, Ginger flower, chargrilled watermelon and Black Truffle

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Seared Freshwater Sulawesi Yabbies, Radish puree, Ginger flower, chargrilled watermelon and Black Truffle

Sereh(Lemongrass)
Duo of chilled and smoked Foie Gras with apples and lemongrass

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Duo of chilled and smoked Foie Gras with apples and lemongrass

Tempe (Fermented soy bean)
Stockyard Wagyu Beef, Fermented soy bean and Fresh Winter Black Truffle Crumble

Kemangi (Lemon Basil)
Balinese Lemon Basil and Celery Sorbet with Ciroc vodka

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Balinese Lemon Basil and Celery Sorbet with Ciroc vodka

Pala(Fresh Nutmeg)

A.O.C. Vacherin Cheese with Fresh nutmeg Pericarp and reduction

Jeruk Purut (Kaffir Lime)
Kaffir Lime Clay with Valrhona Chocolate and Kaffir Lime Sorbet

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Review: Smorgasbord of Indonesian specialities at Hujan Locale

Hujan  Locale in Ubud is the latest offering in Australian chef and entrepreneur Will Meryck’s “chain” of contemporary Asian restaurants in Bali, including Sarong and Mama San in Seminyak.

Tucked away in Jalan Sri Wedari, off the main street – Jalan Raya Ubud, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a Singapore ore Vietnam colonial interior, featuring a mix of wood, bamboo, tiles and even a chandelier.

The warm, inviting interior is filled with diners the night we visit. Bookings are highly advisable. We asked for a table upstairs which gets the through breeze and views over the street to one side and a Balinese family compound on the other.

The menu features a diversity of dishes inspired by the various regions of the Indonesian archipelago with most ingredients supplied by local farmers. It is a smorgasbord of Indonesian delights and uncompromising in it’s inclusion of chilli and spices, so would not recommend if you don’t like spicy food.

We choose the Pig Ear’s served with sambal spiced aioli and a crackling and the Gorengan or “fried platter” to start with. Admittedly, this was probably a wrong combination as both dishes feature deep frying but the tomato chilli sambal, lemon, green chillies and aioli provide fresh,spicy flavours.

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Crispy Pig’s Ears with crackling and sambal aioli

Our favourites were the corn fritters and fried tempeh with bites of fresh green chilli in-between which is as the locals do! The serving size of the starters is very generous and the Gorengan Platter which also features delicious lumpiah (Spring rolls) and average curry puffs could be further refined for a smaller and more focussed offering. I found the Pig’s Ears interesting but rather chewy and flavourless on their own but okay dipped in the aioli.

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Gorengan platter with fresh green chillies and tomato chilli sambal

The mains we ordered, on the other hand, were really delicious! We had the Kari Kambing Aceh – slow cooked Sumatran Lamb Curry (with Australian lamb) with roti canai, the Karangasem Sambal Udang – prawn sambal and Pelecing Kunkung – stir fried water spinach.

The lamb cooked in a rich sauce with star anise, cardamom and  curry leaves was “melt in your mouth” perfect. The roti canai was not of the soft, fluffy variety that we are accustomed to but crispy, still providing a good medium to dip into the curry sauce.

The prawns are cooked with the heads off but shells and tails still on. The shells come off easily and are delicious to chew on, the prawns themselves are perfectly cooked, tender and sweet cooked protected in their shells but still redolent of the spicy sambal sauce.

The Pelecing Kankung, stir fried water spinach features spicy chilli and hints of sambal belacan(shrimp paste) with roasted peanuts scattered on top, is a perfect green accompaniment to the other two dishes.

The overall experience of Hujan Locale was very pleasant and a good way to get a sense of the smorgasbord of tastes available in Indonesian regional specialities. Once again we were too full to try the desserts.

KL fast food stall

2015 in review

Here’s the completed “Year in Review” post!

Happy New Year!! As we start the new year I thought I’d reflect on the first six months of my Free Spirit Food blog. It’s certainly been very interesting starting this blogging journey and I was amazed to receive my “annual report” from WordPress telling me that there had been almost 5,000 views since June 2015 – apparently almost the equivalent of four full New York subway trains!

My aim when I started was to get to 100 followers by the end of the year and as we enter the new year I would like to say thank you to the 105 people who find my recipes and reviews of interest. Some of you are friends and family, but the majority of you are from around Australia and the world with very informative, interesting and beautiful blogs of your own.

I wanted to say a special thank you to my most loyal supporters and give their great blogs a plug:

From the family table
What’s Bec Cooking
My little space in the sun
Delights of the Algarve
Arpita’s Travelogue

I also thought you might be interested in the top 5 most popular posts from Free Spirit Food in 2015.

  1. Roasted eggplant with cummin and yoghurt
Roasted eggplant

Roasted eggplant with cummin and yoghurt

2. Pulled pork with garlic, thyme and chilli

Pulled pork

3. Lamb and potato curry

Lamb and potato curry with rice and red lentil dhal

4.Durban style mince and pea samosas with spring roll pastry

Durban-style mince and pea Samosas

Durban-style mince and pea samosas with spring roll pastry

5.Review: Pau Sat: Satay Street in Singapore

Lau pa Sat Market Building

Beautiful colonial architecture of Lau Pa Sat hawker centre, originally a wet market

And that’s the wrap of 2015!

Looking forward to another year of great foodie and travel adventures which began with an amazing seven course meal at Mozaic restaurant in Ubud last night.