Monday, December 21, 2009

Easy Lemon Chicken

Mmm Lemon Chicken - it's like quintessential country NSW Chinese take away.

Gourmet Inspired Tip: I actually think the preserved lemons work better than fresh lemon with this dish as it gives it a very nice musky flavour. The preserved lemons I had included peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves in the preserves.


300 g chicken, sliced in the "fingers"
1 cup flour
1 egg beaten
5 wedges of preserved or fresh lemon
1/3 cup lemon juice (or use some of the preserve juice!)
2 cups frying oil


Dip the chicken pieces in the egg and coat with flour. Sprinkle lemon juice liberally on top.

Heat the oil in fry pan and shallow fry the chicken pieces for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and the chicken is cooked in the middle.

Squeeze the preserved lemon wedges on top and serve with wedges on the side. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Duck Ragu

More duck delight!

I love being able to buy duck at most gourmet shops now and even Coles! I had to get Confit Duck legs from Premium Quality Meats in North Sydney, but I think the salt curing just gave the ragu and the duck more flavour. I heart duck no matter what, so I think any duck would have done.

This is another il barretto inspired dish – yum!


2 duck legs

1 can whole peeled tomatoes

200 g porcini mushrooms (surprisingly I couldn’t find any, so I used oyster mushrooms instead)

½ cup chicken stock

½ cup red wine

1 onion, diced

1/3 cup cream

400 g fresh paperdelle pasta (enough for 2 people)


Heat olive oil in a deep fry pan and sauté onions until flavours are released. Add duck and quickly brown the sides.

Add canned tomatoes, red wine, chicken stock and mushrooms. Let simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes to reduce the liquid.

Add cream and stir through. Let cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, during which you can prepare the pasta.

Stir through pasta in the sauce, coating well. Serve, garnished with parsley.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Japanese Dinner Awesomeness (pictures to come!)

Great success with Japanese dinner on Sunday. Made Agedashi Tofu and Chirashi-zushi.

Gourmet Inspired Tip: For best results, you want soft silken tofu, but it can be a little difficult to manage. Do what you can to leech the water out of the pieces before cooking. As I was short on oil, I used about 1/2 cup of peanut oil in a small pan and shallow fried the pieces on both sides.

Agedashi Tofu


500 g silken tofu

2 cups Corn flour, enough to coat your tofu pieces

1 /4 cup dashi soup stock
1 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 tbs Japanese rice seasoning (I had Tamago Nori – egg and seaweed)
1 green onion, finely chopped
Sesame oil to taste
Soy sauce to taste
Frying oil (ie peanut or canola)


caCarefully slice your tofu into pieces about 1 cm x 2 cm thick. Wrap them in a paper towel or tea towel to leech out the moisture. Leave them for about 20 minutes and change the wrap at least once.

- Coat your tofu pieces liberally in corn flour.

- Heat oil in a frying pan to about 170 degrees. When the pan is hot enough, gently lower your tofu pieces into the hot oil and deep fry for about 3-4 minutes until the sides are just starting to brown. Remove and let cool on plate.

- Mix dashi soup stock and pour over fried tofu. Top with rice seasoning and green onions and finish with sesame oil and soy sauce. Serve immediately to enjoy that hot silken goodness.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blog Plug

This will probably be one of the few opportunities where I can relate work and food. I haven’t eaten here yet, but I have been working on a blog for Quality Hotel Cambridge and their chef has a pretty cheeky sense of humour. I have yet to try the food, but I do hear it’s great.

The blog will have stories and recipes, including this yummy sounding Coriander and Walnut Pesto. YuM!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spicy Corn Fritters

corn fritters

Gourmet Inspired Tip: Homage to the awesome food, atmosphere and music from the now shut Hopetoun Hotel, these are corn fritters with a bit of a kick. The key is to get your batter and corn mixture right. I prefer lots of fresh corn in mine so it’s nice and crunchy and not too oily.


2 cobs fresh corn, kernels removed

½ red capsicum, diced

Plenty of fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 cup flour

1 egg

½ cup water

1 tsp cumin

1 tbs paprika

Salt to taste

Canola or other non smoking oil to fry

Tabasco sauce to serve


Mix the flour, egg and water to create a batter. It should be very soft and doughy without being runny (add water slowly for best results).

Mix in the corn, parsley, capsicum, cumin and paprika and stir until well coated.

Turn your stove on high and in a non stick pan and add a thick layer of oil, sufficient to shallow fry. Let the pan heat up until the oil is very hot, but not smoking.

Spoon in corn batter and flatten. Let fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, being aware of spatter (I used a loosely covered lid to help limit the popping effect). Cool on paper towel. Serve with fresh salsa and plenty of tabasco.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Halloween Hi jinx

For Halloween, I hosted a dinner party...Dinner for the Dead with the following menu:
Slaughter of the Sea
- consisted of water crackers with Wattle Valleys Chunky Red Capsicum, cashew and parmesan dip, topped with headless sardines. They are a taste sensation!

Severed Limbs of Poultry
- chicken wings and drumsticks made with garlic, spring onions, oyster sauce, soy sauce and Chinese Brown Candy sugar. Bloody Mashed Potatoes
- This was a revelation. Make mash per usual then add one tin of pureed beetroot. It gives it a very bright magenta colouring but the beetroot actually really enhances the taste of the mash and gives it a "refreshing" taste.

Bunnicula Strikes Again
- Just a salad with a dressing made from sweet chili sauce, lemon juice, vinegar and some sugar.
And of course Bloody Marys!

But best of all, my friend went to Coles to "construct" a dessert - Cake Cannibalism!

The eyes and eyebrows are jelly candies, the teeth are bananas lollies and there's bits of jelly to simulate blood. What an absolutely amazing idea!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fail - Mongolian Lamb :(

Had delicious Mongolian Lamb Hot Pot at Golden Century two weeks ago and I thought I could do something similar. I looked up a Mongolian Beef Recipe and figured I could do something similar in the hot pot.

I ended up with some nicely cooked lamb and leek stew...nothing that tasted like Mongolian sauce though. Oh well. Lamb is still always delicious.

I’ll let you know when I get it right! In the meantime, head to Golden Century for unbeatable hot pot lamb! Yummo!

Monday, October 26, 2009

My quest for the perfect cuppa - and Portuguese Cafe Tarts

Since I've started this new job, I've been on the hunt for the perfect cuppa. But right now, I'm stuck in the faceless masses of average joe's amidst Town Hall, where eveyrone uses Grinders or Lavazza or heaven forbid - Vittoria - beans. Coffee in the CBD doesn't seem to have any real personality or distinction...much like the people caught in the morning rush...

Sigh...give me Surry Hills...where you could tell the creatives from the journos from the designers...and you didn't have a problem picking that one good cafe in the was the one with the longest line!

If anyone knows good coffee in the Town Hall area of Sydney CBD, please let me know! In the meantime, enjoy this Portuguese Cafe Tart recipe.

Portugues Cafe Tarts (Coffee Tarts)

Gourmet Inspired Tip: Who doesn't love a good coffee dessert and who doesn't absolutely adore Portuguese tarts? I thought I would marry these two passions of mine and create some Portuguese Coffee Tarts.

I didn't have a muffin tin, so I used the oven safe tea cups again, but they turned out amazingly well with the puff pastry - if you like that extra bit of puff.


4 x 10 cm rounds of puff pastry
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup milk
2 egg yolks
1 shot of espresso or strong coffee
2 tbs corn flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs brown sugar


Grease a muffin tin (or in my case, tea cup) and cover with puff pastry sheets to form 4 good bowls. Refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. While the oven is heating, combine sugar and water in a saucepan and stir slowly over low heat until sugar dissolves and becomes syrupy. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, combine your corn flour, milk and egg yolks and whisk until well combined. Add sugar mixture and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly. Return mixture to stove and heat slowly until mixture thickens to a good custard consistency. Add espresso and stir until well combined.

Remove pastry cups and pour custard mixture into bases. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry just starts to brown. Remove from oven and let the custard settle back into the bases.

Spread brown sugar on a piece of aluminium foil and dry in oven for 1-2 minutes to remove moisture. Gently tap the tarts out of their containers and then sprinkle the tops with brown sugar. Place under hot grill or broiler, or use a blow torch, to quickly caramelise the tops. Serve.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My version of Duck a l'Orange

Kylie Kwong eat your heart out. :)


Gourmet Inspired Tip: I was super excited last month to discover that Coles now carries duck. I know most butchers have always had duck, but I think it's a pretty significant sign where home cooking's headed when you can buy delicious duck at Coles. Maybe it's MasterChef or the economic downturn having people becoming more adventurous with their domestic cuisine, but duck is no longer just for the gourmet professionals.

Sure they cost $15 for two fillets but I was pretty keen to try to it out - it didn't turn out to be crispy skin duck like Kylie's but I was still pretty excited to have made a decent duck dish at home.

Duck a l'Orange


The Duck

2 duck breast fillets
1 tbs rosemary
1 tbs tarragon
1/2 tsp pepper flakes
1 tsp sesame oil

The Sauce

1 1/2 cup orange juice
1 navel orange, rind removed
3 star anise
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp sugar


Rub rosemary, tarragon, pepper and oil into the skin of the duck fillets. Place duck pieces into steamer and steam for 12-15 minutes. until duck is just undercooked.

While the duck is steaming, preheat your broiler or oven to 250 degrees Celsius or higher. You can start making your sauce. Pour orange juice, cinnamon and sugar in saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the flame and simmer slowly, stirring occassionally to reduce the juice. When it starts to become syrupy, add the orange pieces and the star anise and simmer for an additional few minutes.

While your sauce is reducing and once the duck is done steaming, put it in an oven dish with any leftover juices and broil for about 5 minutes until the spices and skin are just starting to crisp. Remember to leave the oven door ajar. (I forgot and spent a good amount of time under the smoke detector with a magazine fanning smoke!)

Remove the duck from the broiler and let cool. Serve over rice and pour your orange sauce over the duck and rice for maximum flavour. :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

100 hits!

Haha, a small but significant milestone. The thing with blogging is that in some way, it’s like running your own online business. To get your message out there in the plethora of musings and ego trips you have to actively work on generating a buzz through the right networks. Forums, other blogs, have to spend time promoting yourself (or get a budget so someone else can do it for you!)

Anyway, to my 100 readers so far, thanks! Leave comments, love and feedback.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sushi Stack - cause nothing looks as impressive as stacked food

Gourmet Inspired Tip: I adapted this recipe from a picture my flatmate showed me of a sushi stack, I think it came from Women's Weekly Magazine. And my theory has always been that there's nothing as impressive as stacked food.

Taste wise, it's not really much...just a big sushi patty without some of the elegance and daintiness of more mini sized sushi (although my friend who never ever eats sushi actually tried it and thought it was pretty good...he loved the texture of the flying fish roe which he had never tried before). I guess this is just a general lesson that looks can be deceiving. That's the thing with cooking - there's the art part to it, but it ultimately comes down to taste. That's what they say on MasterChef, "it all comes down to the dish you cooked." Meanwhile, how many times have you been deceived by food that looks amazing but tastes like nothing much?

But I still think that there's nothing that looks more impressive than stacked food.

Sushi Stack


1 cup sushi rice
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 tbs rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
Pinch salt
1 tsp sesame oil
4 tbs flying fish roe (you can get this at an Asian supermarket)
1/2 cucumber, peeled into strips with a peeler
1/4 avocado, thinly sliced
2 piece of Nori (seaweed) trimmed to the size of a small ramekin
Sprinkle of sesame seeds


To make the sushi rice, wash and drain the rice until the water runs clear. Cook the rice, by bringing the water and rice to a boil and then covering and letting simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. You can prepare your other ingredients while the rice is cooking.

Mix vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and salt into a dressing. Pour over rice and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.

Let the rice mixture cool to a lukewarm temperature. (I stuck the rice in a bowl and put it in a cool fan forced oven.)

In a small ramekin, or other appropriately shaped mould, layer your ingredients, first with a base of rice, then a layer of flying fish roe, a layer of shaved cucumber and a layer of avocado. Top with a sheet of nori and finish with another layer of rice on top.

Flip your stack over onto a plate. Lift up the ramekin mould to reveal your stack. Top with sesame seeds and a couple of slivers of cucumber. Serve

Important: Contrary to instinct, serve your stack with fork and knife, not chopsticks! The layer of seaweed and cucumbers are difficult to cut through without a knife to help.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Garlic Prawns and Butterflies

Tomorrow is the first day at my new job and I have serious serious butterflies. I'm excited and nervous..and well actually really petrified. It's not the work part that's's the first impression bit...and I'll have to live with it for the rest of my time at this job. It's things like what if I accidentally use someone's personal cup?, what if I make an inappropriate joke? or just fall flat on my face...although that might not be so bad cause then at least people take pity and try to be nice.

When I was in Uni, my first day working as Assistant Technical Director for a production, I cut 15 pieces of wood 6 inches too short. Fortunately, no one, not even the Technical Director looking after me wanted to do the job, so I wasn't fired on the spot.

At least this time I won't be working with a table saw. Now how to cure the butterflies...

Gourmet Inspired Tip: So speaking of butterflies, last week to celebrate my new found employment, we went to dinner in Surry Hills to this amazing Japanese restaurant called Toko. And we ordered the Garlic Prawns. These weren't the sizzling kind you get at the pub, but they were beautifully "butterflied" and split down the middle, head, tail, shell and all. The meat was sweet, juicy and succulent and it wasn't overladen with oil. After a bit of deliberation, I tried to recreate this dish at home. My butterflying and splitting of the prawn wasn't quite as delicately done, but it was still pretty tasty. So these were the good butterflies.


Garlic "Butterfly" Prawns


10 Large uncooked prawns, heads, tails and shells on
2 tbs finely minced garlic (or garlic paste will be fine)
1/4 cup olive oil
Parsley, finely chopped to taste


Very carefully, using a fine and sharp knife, butterfly your prawns with the heads, tails and shells on. To do this, bend your prawn against its curve to "break" the shell a bit and help flatten it out. Then holding it belly side up, starting from the base of the tail, split your prawn lengthwise, between the swimmers, sawing the head in two. Make sure you cut all the way through the meat, but not the shell. Open your prawn and flatten it out, leaving it belly side up.

Lay your prawns out on a baking tray covered in baking paper. Mix oil and garlic paste together then evenly spoon the mixture out over the exposed meat of the prawns. Cover loosely and refrigerate for about 1 hour to let marinate.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Place your marinated prawns in the oven for 5-6 minutes. They should just be cooked.

Remove, sprinkle with parsley and serve. This is going to be a bit of a messy dish (even though it presents quite well) so make sure you've got some moist towellettes on hand!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Beef Stew

It's like 2 degrees outside...and supposed to be Spring. Seeing that this is my last week of "freedom", I figured I'd make a beef stew since it takes a long time. I'm also running pretty low on $$, even for budget gourmet, since this $200 I was expecting didn't come through. (I write this as an act of spite, of course). So with time and no money and freezing weather, the only logical conclusion is beef stew!


Gourmet Inspired Tip: I'm sure everyone knows this - you can't hurry stew. The longer the better. Seriously, if a recipe says 1 1/2 hours undisturbed, leave it for 2. Since I'm not married and have lived in 6 different places over the past 5 years (I've finally stayed in one spot for over 12 months last year) - I do not own something like a casserole dish - so I had to use a large metal saucepan instead. The trick I discovered, is to line your metal saucepan with baking paper on the bottom and another layer of paper over your cooking ingredients. The paper acts as a barrier against the intense heat of the metal to prevent scorching - and makes clean up a lot lot easier!

Hearty Beef Stew


500 g beef - cubed
1/2 cup flour
1 tbs paprika
1 parsnip, cubed
1 carrot, chopped
3 small onions, chopped roughly
4 potatoes, cut
250 ml red wine
Salt and pepper to taste

NB: We had some tops of some leek in the fridge, which worked really really nicely in the mix as well


Preheat oven to 180 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine flour and paprika and lightly coat each piece of beef.

In a casserole dish (or large pot with lid - lined with baking paper), layer your beef pieces on the bottom spacing evenly. Put vegetables on top and stir gently to mix, making sure all of your pieces stay within the confines of the baking paper walls if you've got it on the botoom. Pour in wine and water. Cover entire mixture with another piece of baking paper and put on lid.

Cook in oven for at least 2 hours. The longer the better. The extra 45 mins will do wonders to tenderise the meat.

Season to taste and serve.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Potage Parmentier "un-french" - (Julia Child rolls in her grave)

So upon watching the movie, Julie & Julia I decided I had to start reading the book. It's alright...a bit melodramatic for my tastes, but I guess that's what blog adaptations are meant to be, an overindulgence in metaphorical and lyrical description that you firmly believe to be witty and relatable, chock full of stream of consciousness and the favourite ellipsis...because everyone if given the chance will write like that. Otherwise you would just be writing "today I made potato soup." :)

Anyway, today I did make potato soup. I also read the opening chapter about Julie's first Julia Child recipe, "Potage Parmentier" and her description of making potato and leek soup. All you needed was potato, leek, butter, water, salt and pepper. That sounded easy enough.

There I was, using my fork to mash my soup, since I don't have a potato ricer and using anything electronic, according to the author was simply "un-french". So, I, unlike Julie, was not too above mashing soup with a f
ork in a desire to be as authentically French as possible.

We sit down to eat and it's good. Nice texture, aroma, some good flavour. Then my flatmate says, "you know what would be great with this, some chili. Maybe a little bit of garlic."

And she was absolutely right, the soup was missing that extra little kick. The thing with French food, sounds super sexy. Potage, escargot,'s all gourmet sounding and superb. But "authentic", fork mashing and all, tastes...well maybe a little bland for the modern palette. True foodies would probably kill me for saying it, but in an age where the best Thai take away is around the corner and the scent of curries wafts from every neighbour's home (and it's the good kind, not the kind that just hangs stale in the air)...our modern way of eating isn't really thrilled by the "authentic" delights of butter, mashed potato and leeks.

I'm probably not doing potage parmentier the right way. Julia Child, I'm sure is rolling over in her grave...Julie Powell probably is rolling her eyes too, (I didn't soak my potatoes in water to keep them from turning pink for starters).
I'm sure her soup was excellent and full of flavour - with real kick. But since I don't hold sacred the ancient pages of Mastering the Art of French Cooking nor is there Julia Child in my kitchen brandishing an imaginary wooden spoon, I look what was left over of the the soup, minced some garlic and threw in some chili flakes, added water and cooked for another 20 mins. And I got my kicks.

Potage Parmentier petit epice - Little spice potato soup...still mashed with a fork. Just a little bit "unfrench".

Potage Parmentier "petit epice" - Little spice potato soup


5 potatoes, sliced
1 leek, sliced and washed
50 g butter
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes or chili flakes
Salt and pepper to taste


Add potatoes and leek to about 1 litre of boiling water. Let simmer for about 30 minutes until soft. Stir gently, then add garlic, chili, salt and pepper and let simmer for another 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Using a fork, food mill, potato ricer or other non-electronic mashing aid, mash the soup until texture is quite smooth. (You still want to have some "bits" for that home cooked texture. Unless you're serving soup to my boyfriend...who doesn't believe in soup bits.). Stir in butter until creamy and well blended. Serve with cheese toast.

Hint: Okay, I admit it...I didn't really mash the whole thing with the fork. If you have a stick whizz, use that for a few seconds to do most of the mixing, but leave some untouched parts so you can finish it off with a fork for texture.

Please also note: Until further when it gets out of hand...I am making this blog a DoFollow blog but have the verification and moderation on. So leave thoughtful comments and you'll get backlinks. :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chinese Style Roast Pork, plus Julie & Julia

I watched the movie Julie & Julia yesterday, and it got me thinking...why do people set up blogs? Is it to "give yourself something to do" or is it a narcissistic indulgence, where everything can really be "me me me"? Julie Powell was one of the pioneers in everyday blogging culture, when there were maybe just 1000 of serious blogs in the world...not the millions out there now. Hard to imagine that was really just 7 years ago.

For me, I started this when I quit my job...I think it was to give me something to do. I quit rather suddenly, and as other people have pointed out, my job had really come to consume my life. Leaving left a rather large void in my day to day existence...especially when it came to writing. Cooking and blogging helped fill up "units of time"...and gave me some semblance of routine.

Next week, I start a new job. It's really only been 5 weeks and I don't feel like I've done much over that time. Certainly, I haven't really done that many recipes. I mean...Julie Powell did maybe 50 of her recipes in 5 weeks. It gave her readers something to go back to on a daily basis.

So...I'm going to try and give you something more. I THINK about food and cooking everyday. I talk about it a lot...but not to you. I sit there writing down notes and reading things about cooking to try and come up with my next concoction. I have no idea if it's much of a good read, but it should at least keep me more focused on this work, especially if I'm going to start working full time again. So, feel free to kick my metaphorical blogging a-- if you don't hear from me for a week (like last week).

Chinese style Roast Pork

Gourmet Inspired Tip: I made this last week to serve with Stephanie Alexander's French Onion Soup. A bit of an odd combination, but the pork and baby bak choy themselves are a great combination and work as a light entree. Alternatively, serve with rice for a good and simple main. Char siu (roast pork) sauce can usually be found in your local supermarket in the Asian section.


300 g pork fillet
1 packet red char siu sauce (about 100 g)
2 tbs honey
sesame oil to taste
1-2 tsp sesame seeds
2 baby bok choy
2 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
oyster sauce to taste


Cut pork into 4 pieces. Cover the pieces thoroughly with char siu sauce and marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Hint: if you wrap the pieces in foil, you can use the same piece of foil to grill the pork and keep more of the flavour.

Pre-heat grill to medium/high. Brush pork pieces with 1/2 the honey and sesame oil before grilling. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Grill each side for 10 minutes. Turn grill temperature up to high and brush pork pieces with remainder of oil and honey and grill for another 15 minutes or until pork is cooked through.

To cook the baby bok choy, boil approximately 1 litre of water. Separate the leaves and scald quickly in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Remove immediately.

Layer a bed of baby bok choy on plate and drizzle with oyster sauce. Place grilled pork on top and sprinkle with parsley to taste.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Smackin' ze chops - braised lamb chops with a rich zesty kick

Gourmet Inspired Tip: My boyfriend's mother offers her children (in a joking manner) a smack in the chops; "Can I get you anything else? A smack in the chops?" Consequently, we've picked it up in our usual banter. But I always wanted to create an enticing "smack in the chops" that you just couldn't say no to!

I've made a similar grape jelly and chili sauce with meatballs before but had never tried it with lamb. The flavour of chili with lamb in the rich thick sauce was sensational and I served it up with some "fancy chips" (I'll put that recipe up later) and wilted spinach. The only thing I think is that sauce was a little too thick this time around, but the extra 1/2 cups of stock should help that.

Can I get you anything else? How about some "smackin' ze chops"?


2 lamb forequarter chops
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs rosemary
1 tsp harissa or other Middle Eastern spices
1 cup grape jelly (about 250 ml) Australia has no grape jelly, so blackcurrant jam worked instead.
1 cup hot chili sauce (250 ml)
1 1/2 cups beef or chicken stock


Spread chili powder, rosemary and harissa evenly over chops. Refrigerate and marinate for at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. In a saucepan, heat the hot chili sauce, grape jelly and stock until well combined. Allow mixture to gently bubble on low heat while you prepare the chops.

Heat oil in frying pan. Sear chops on all sides to seal, about 1-2 minutes on each side.

In a baking dish, arrange your chops. Pour hot jelly mixture all over chops. You should have about 1-2 cm of liquid coming up the sides of the meat.

Cook in oven for 2-3 hours, until meat is falling off the bone. Add more stock if the sauce starts to look too thick.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sausage and Mushroom Stack

Thank you Briyah for being my guinea pig!


Gourmet Inspired Tip: Who doesn't love a good sausage link, but it may not scream elegance on the plate. Buying a single link of your favourite sausage for this recipe is an easy way to make a good gourmet impression. After all, there is nothing that looks quite as impressive as "stacked" food - if it's stacked well.

My first attempt at this didn't work as well as I hoped as the "pattie" formation didn't stay together. Throwing an egg into the
meat mixture, as indicated below, will help avoid the semi-lopsided contraption pictured.

Mushroom and Sausage stack

Serves 2


2 large portobella mushrooms, destemmed
2 tbs butter
200 g spinach leaves, washed
100 g zucchini, thinly sliced
100 g leek, sliced
200 g mushroom, chopped
1 sausage link, any flavour
50 g tinned water chestnuts
1 egg
Balsamic vinegar to taste
Coriander to dress


Preheat grill to high. Pat butter on the bottoms of the mushrooms and place under grill, tops down, butter side up. Let cook for 10-12 minutes.

While the mushrooms are cooking, in a food processor, combine the leek, chopped mushrooms and water chestnuts until well processed. Move to mixing bowl.

Using a knife, cut a hole in the sausage link and extract meat from the skin and add to mushroom leek mixture. Add egg, and use your hands to combine the meat and mixture until it is thoroughly mixed through. Shape into patties about the size of your portobella mushrooms. Fry in hot pan until meat is cooked, about 3-4 minutes.

In a colander, wilt the spinach leaves by slowly pouring about 2 cups of boiling over the leaves. Do the same for the zucchini slices to cook them slightly.

Remove mushrooms from grill and place on plate. Add a layer of wilted spinach leaves on top, then a layer of the zucchini slices. Pour balsamic vinegar over these layers to taste. Top off the veggie stack with your mushroom and sausage patties and add a sprig of coriander on top.

Hint: If you're still having issues making the patties stick, add some breadcrumbs or flour to the mixture.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Seafood Paella & Spanish Chicken Rice

This is a two part entry, enjoy!


Gourmet Inspired Tip: A few months back, my boyfriend gave me a fantastic paella recipe that I tweaked for some outstanding results. Really, when it comes to paella, it's all about the bottom crusty part of the rice, called socarrat. Really, the key to getting a really good caramelised crust is a good quality non-stick pan (I have a Scanpan) and a lid that's big enough to cover it.

Below are two recipes. The first is my original paella recipe featuring paprika dusted blu
e cod. I took out a lot of the non seafood elements of the original dish (chicken and chorizo) and replaced the green beans with peas for plating purposes.

The second recipe is what I call, "poor man's paella", which is basically chicken rice with vegetables. Again, t
he rice is done in the same style of the first paella to give it that great crusty bottom that is sure delight. Enjoy!

Seafood Paella


- 2 cups Spanish or Risotto rice
- 500 g Blue Cod fish, cut into cubes
- 1 tbs paprika
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 red capsicum, cut into cubes
- 200 g prawns
- 16 mussels, approx
- 5 1/2 cups chicken stock, heated

- 1 tsp saffron, for best results
- 1 tbs cayenne pepper, to taste
- 200 g peas or green beans
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup white wine, if desired


- Dust fish pieces in paprika and saute lightly in high quality non-stick pan until sealed. Remove from heat.
- Lightly saute prawns until sealed and remove
- In the non-stick pan, lightly fry onion, chili and garlic to release the flavours. Add dry rice and mix until rice is coated thoroughly.
- Spread rice evenly so it coats the bottom of the pan and layer fish pieces evenly on top, followed by the capsicum and peas. Add most of hot stock (save a little in case you need to add more liquid later) and follow with wine, if desired. Top with sealed prawns and let simmer on low for 10 minutes. DO NOT STIR.
- Add mussels one by one on top and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Mussels should begin to open an
d you'll notice the caramelised crust forming along the edges.
- Try to see if the rice is cooked. If it is still crunchy and there is no more liquid, add the leftover stock and cook for an additional 5 minutes. If you can, cover the entire pan with a lid or a bit of aluminium foil to help the rice cook.

Hint: Once you have the crust you're more than halfway there. It's better to start with too little liquid than too much and to add more at the end. Once you have the crust, it's just a matter of cooking the rice through.

Spanish Chicken Rice

Similiar to paella, but with cheaper ingredients. Again, if you can get the crust, the results will be desirable and impressive. Basically replace the cod pieces with chicken.


- 500 g chicken thigh fllet, diced
- 1 tbs paprika
- 1 red capsicum, cut into cubes
- 200 g green beans
- 5 1/2 cups stock, heated
- 1 tbs cayenne pepper, to taste
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup white wine, if desired
- 1 onion, minced


- Dust chicken pieces in paprika and saute lightly in high quality non-stick pan until sealed. Remove from heat.
- In the non-stick pan, lightly fry onion, chili and garlic to release the flavours. Add dry rice and mix until rice is coated thoroughly.
- Spread rice evenly so it coats the bottom of the pan and layer chicken pieces evenly on top, followed by the capsicum and green beans. Add most of hot stock (save a little in case you need to add more liquid later) and follow with wine, if desired. DO NOT STIR.
-Simmer for an additional 15 minutes. You'll notice the caramelised crust forming along the edges.
- Try to see if the rice is cooked. If it is still crunchy and there is no more liquid, add the leftover stock and cook for an additional 5 minutes. If you can, cover the entire pan with a lid or a bit of aluminium foil to help the rice cook.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Aussie Creme Brulee

It actually worked! Hurrah!

Gourmet Inspired Tip: I love creme brulee, and have always wanted to try making it. But after a bit of thinking and reading, I decided to give it an Aussie twist.

Aussie creme brulee is basically creme brulee with an Anzac bikkie base. It gives the dessert a little bit more substance, and I think the crumbly texture and sweetness of the bikkie really takes the custard and caramelised sugar flav
our to a new level.

I've been super stoked to try this idea and it actually worked the first time around, well base was a little soggy as I was overly excited and didn't think to "bake it blind" first. The method below rectifies my error, but even with the sogginess the flavours were definitely there.


Aussie Creme Brulee


- 400 ml pure cream
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar (raw or white)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups Anzac biscuits, crumbed (about 6 biscuits)
- 3-4 tbs butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch of salt


- Preheat oven to 180⁰C.
- In a mixing bowl, using your hands, mix the Anzac biscuit crumbs and the butter until the crumbs stick together.
- Layer the mixture evenly across the base of four small (5 oz) ramekins. I didn't have any, so I used short flat tea cups (pictured). Just make sure whatever you use is small and shorter than it is wide, as you will have to fill it to the brim with your custard. Cover the entire base and flatten it as much as you can, should be about 2 mm thick.
- Bake in oven for approximately 10 minutes, until the bases are set. Remove and let cool.
- In a pan or pot, heat the cream until it is hot but not boiling.
- In another mixing bowl, gently combine egg yolks and sugar, but do not whisk. Slowly add hot cream, stirring constantly until sugar and eggs are completely dissolved. Add vanilla and salt and mix thoroughly. Strain out any remaining solid bits.
- Pour custard into bases, filling the cups all the way to the top. (If you don't, it will be very difficult to caramelise the sugar on top at the end).
- Place cups in a deep baking dish and fill the dish with hot water so that it comes about halfway up the cups. Bake in oven (still at 180⁰C) for about 30-40 minutes until the custard is set.
- Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled.
- Sprinkle brown sugar on tray lined with baking paper and dry in oven for a few minutes. Remove and break up the clumps of sugar using a rollin pin or the base of a cup. Set aside.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle brown sugar generously on top of custards. Place under hot broiler for 3-4 minutes to caramelise the sugar. Alternatively, use a torch. Remove and serve. :)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quick creamy salad dressing

Mission tomorrow - make Aussie Creme Brulee!

In the meantime, here's a quick recipe for a simple creamy salad dressing.

Gourmet Inspired Tip: Old dry bread (obviously not mouldy) can get a second life as croutons in a simple "Caesar" Salad.
Mine was cos lettuce, egg, parmesan, bacon bits and week old sourdough as "croutons"


- 1/3 lemon, juiced
- 3 tbs mayonnaise
- 1 tbs brown vinegar
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1/2 tsp garlic


Mix all ingredients together and drizzle over "Caesar" type salad

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Honey glazed grilled turkey sandwich

$6 turkey steaks at Bi-Lo got me thinking…

A Gourmet Inspired Tip: Sandwiches are the classic lunch staple, from Subway to the gourmet gargantuans you can get at the deli. It is also one of the most popular bag lunch options but you might be uninspired by the dry lunch meat options. Not to mention the “soggy” sandwich dilemma when you finally arrive at work. Try this simple, delicious – and hopefully drier option.

This method works with chicken or turkey. If using chicken breast fillets, slice thin fillets about 1 cm thick.


- 200 grams chicken or turkey fillet, approximately 1 cm thick
- 3 tbs honey to taste
- At least 2 leaves of cos lettuce
- 1 tbs mayonnaise
- 2 slices crusted bread, sourdough works well since it is more resistant to sogginess

NB: By avoiding tomatoes, you’re decreasing the soggy factor


- Glaze the turkey or chicken fillets liberally with honey.
- Place under hot grill and grill each side for 2-3 minutes. Don’t overcook.
- Butter the bread. Make sure the cos lettuce is dry and place on both slices of bread. Spread mayonnaise on top of lettuce. The lettuce acts as a barrier to keep the mayonnaise from seeping through to the bread.
- Put chicken in between the pieces of lettuce. Hopefully, if packaged properly you’ll have a delicious gourmet sandwich, as if it had been freshly made.

Seafood Spaghetti with clam sauce - and how it all started

My boyfriend had recently taken me to a Surry Hills restaurant favourite, Il Baretto on Bourke Street where we were served an excellent dish of spaghetti and clams that was to die for (apparently called Spaghetti al vongole - thanks George!)

The next week, with $10 in my pocket, I trudged up to the local Coles thinking of how to scrounge up some decent ingredients for dinner – but all I could think about was that spectacular Il Baretto pasta. Clams of course, were not at Coles and would have cost too much if they were even there. But I did happen upon a tin of baby clams for $3.68. After some more considered thinking and smart buying, I went home and threw together a “gourmet inspired” seafood spaghetti with clam sauce.

And unlike at the restaurant, my boyfriend could help himself to seconds.

Seafood Spaghetti with clam sauce (inspired by Il Baretto’s that started it all)

Note: final ingredients and proportions are still being tried, but I would love your comments and feedback! Thanks

A Gourmet Inspired Tip: The clams in the original dish tasted amazing and fresh, but the perfectly cooked pasta stirred through what was a very simple sauce with the strong flavour of clams was what won me over.

The tin clams obviously don’t compare to the taste of fresh clams but they do manage to give the pasta that delicious clam flavour. To give the dish some substance and a “seafood feel”, basa fillets are cheap but they taste like nothing. A little bit of paprika married with the basa fish texture helps flush out the essence of the dish. Top with a couple of prawns if you feel like splurging. :)


- 250grams spaghetti
- 1/2 brown onion, finely sliced
- 1/2 red capsicum, finely sliced
- 1 basa fillets, cut into chunks
- 2 tbs paprika
- 1 tin baby clams
- Parsley to taste, finely chopped
- 3 tbs olive oil
- ½ cup white wine (cheap chardonnay works fine)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 5 cooked peeled Tiger prawns (optional)


- Follow instructions to cook pasta. Try and get it as “al dente” as possible, do not overcook.\
- Add the paprika and basa chunks into a small baggie and shake to lightly dust fish with paprika
- In a non stick pan, lightly fry the pieces of fish until they are slightly charred on the outside and almost cooked through. Remove from heat.
- In a sauce pan over medium heat, add the olive oil garlic and fry until garlic brown on the edges. Add onions and capsicum, cook until onions become translucent. Add baby clams and white wine. Turn down heat, cover and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Use the clam tin to add water if the liquid level gets low.
- Add cooked pasta and parsley and stir through, cooking it for another 1-2 minutes to ensure eveness of temperature. Remove from heat. Add the cooked basa chunks and tiger prawns if desired, cover and let sit for 1-2 minutes before serving.

HINT: Oil and salt in the water before it boils will help keep your pasta from sticking. (Thanks Kez!)

Thoughts? Comments? Am I completely insane? All feedback much appreciated thanks! x

Gourmet Inspired - leave the professional tricks to the professionals, let the professionals inspire us.

Introducing Gourmet Inspired

The professionals all agree, when it comes to gourmet restaurant quality meals, you have to get your ingredients right. This means, the freshest herbs, picked from your backyard, the best cuts of meat and of course, organic in-season produce from your local farmers’ market.

Garden? Farmers’ Market? HELLOOO???

I’m sorry, but the professional chefs may have the time to trawl through the markets and drop by the wharf to pick up the fresh catch of the day. But for the rest of us, “fresh” means the mad dash to the supermarket aisles in a suit straight after work, desperately trying to scrounge together the ingredients for tonight’s meal - if you manage to remember exactly when you bought that last carton of eggs. Organic means picking up the saran wrapped package with the green seal instead of none. Not to mention with today’s economy, exquisite cuts of meat may not be particularly wallet friendly.

But does that mean we can’t enjoy our favourite seafood pasta and tartine tarts at home?

Gourmet Inspired is a new way of looking at home cooking. We all know about home style roasts, spaghetti bolognaise and stir fry out of a packet. This collection of recipes has been developed to be simple and budget friendly, “inspired” by the tastes of your restaurant favourites, perfect for the amateur chefs in all of us.

Leave the professional tips and tricks to the professionals, but let the professionals inspire the rest of us.

Coming up: Seafood Spaghetti with clam sauce