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26 February 2009

Fish Cakes

These fish cakes are based on my mum's recipe, with my own special touches added. Sometimes I absolutely crave these fish cakes, tonight was an example of this.

Don't be tempted to put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender in order to combine. The end result is simply not as delicious and the texture becomes rubbery.

I tend to add a lot of garlic to these. If you are not a huge fan of garlic, simply add less. I do think it adds a delicious kick though. I also use lemon myrtle again. If you cannot find lemon myrtle in the spice section of your supermarket, try adding some finely chopped lemongrass.

Note that I have used white pepper in this recipe rather than black pepper. I think white pepper works better with the other flavours, but use whichever you have. I have also stipulated fresh breadcrumbs as well as store bought breadcrumbs. The reason for this is that fresh breadcrumbs work better in the actual fish mixture - they are not dry and therefore the fishcakes end up really light and moist. But I like store bought breadcrumbs on the outside as they crisp up during the cooking process. You can easily make fresh breadcrumbs by whizzing day old bread in a food processor. Any extra can be stored in the freezer until needed.

Mark likes to drizzle soy sauce over the fish cakes. You could also serve them with sweet chilli sauce. I like to eat them with white rice and steamed greens (because I need to get greens into every meal). I think the white rice allows the flavours to be properly enjoyed and appreciated. But eat them however you like!

Ingredients (makes 8 patties - serves 2)

1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 small onion grated
1-4 cloves garlic crushed
2 teaspoons ground lemon myrtle leaves
1/4 cup mint finely chopped
1/4 cup parsley finely chopped
Zest of 2 limes or zest of 1 lemon
210g tinned salmon, skin and bones removed
Salt and white pepper to taste
2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/2-2/3 cups store bought breadcrumbs
Oilve oil and butter for shallow frying


Toast the sesame seeds in a dry fry pan until lightly browned. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile combine grated onion, garlic, lemon myrtle, mint, parsley, zest, salmon, salt and pepper in a bowl and stir to combine. Add the egg and breadcrumbs and mix with clean hands.

The mixture should feel slightly wet and sticky but not too wet (sorry, I am not sure how to describe this. Basically it should pretty much stay together if rolled into a ball). Add more breadcrumbs if you think the mixture is too wet. Alternatively if it is too dry and crumbly, add a little olive oil or lemon juice.

If you have time, place the mixture in the fridge for an hour or so before cooking.

Form 1-2 tablespoons of mixture into patties and roll in store bought breadcrumbs.

Okay, now the frying. I like to cook them in a bit of olive oil and butter (a couple of tablespoons of oil and perhaps 1 and 1/2 of butter). If the pan gets too dry you may need to add more oil or butter. I then drain them well on paper towels.

Obviously food fried like this cannot be an everyday food. Alternatively you can fry in less oil (perhaps a pan sprayed with olive oil spray). Unfortunately they will not taste as good, but give it a go anyway. Another option is to roll them in a combination of corn flake crumbs and store bought bread crumbs (more corn flake crumbs than ordinary crumbs), spray with olive oil spray and bake in a hot oven. I find the corn flake crumbs have an almost fried like taste when I use this method for chicken schnitzel. I have never used this method for these fish cakes, but plan on giving it a go (so I will update the blog when I do). But for the moment, as an occasional treat, cook in the butter and oil!

25 February 2009

Comment on Tomato Chicken Rice Curry

Thanks Lani for your comment, I really appreciate it - you are my first!!

I am really glad that you enjoyed the meal!!

You should be able to get lemon myrtle from the supermarket, although it is hard to find, it's not usually with the other spices. It is usually in a container with a black lid away from the others (I'm not sure why). It is an Australian bush spice that tastes a lot like lemongrass.

Definitely add chilli - I don't really like chilli as I find it too overpowering, but anyone who loves it should add as much as they like.

Thanks again!

24 February 2009

Update to Spinach Chorizo and Haloumi Salad

Just a quick update on this recipe.

If you are serving as a main, add extra chorizo and perhaps extra tomatoes. I would suggest 4 sausages, perhaps more if you are feeding hungry people, or people with big appetites. Tomatoes are up to you.

I'm not great with quantities, I normally just throw things together. Therefore publishing how many people a recipe serves is quite a task. I also tend to over-cater and normally have far too much food. So I may be a little conservative in what I publish as an attempt to compensate for that tendency.

So stay with me while I work all of this out and look out for updates to quantities as I experiment and receive feedback.

And thanks to everyone who has been reading!

23 February 2009

Pomegranate and Avocado Salad

As I think I said in an earlier blog, pomegranates are one of my new favourite foods - they have a beautiful citrus tang and can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. Tonight I use the pomegranate seeds I did not use for the pavlova last night.

A lot of people have been asking me about pomegranates since I starting using them in my cooking recently. They are now available from supermarkets, although I have to say the quality is far superior when you buy them from fruit and vegetable shops (although they are a little more expensive).
To remove the seeds, while it is tempting to pretend you are Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson and bang the back of the pomegranate with a wooden spoon, I find doing this is slow and messy. I find it far easier and to cut the pomegranate in quarters, sock the quarters in water for a few minutes and then break apart and remove the seeds. Thanks Good Taste Magazine for this tip!

Okay, quantities. I made this salad in the quantities listed below for Mark and me for dinner tonight. But, I like to serve us a huge salad for dinner, with a smaller amount of meat. So, if serving with meat and other sides, it could probably serve 4 people.

I have used baby spinach (simply because it was what I had in the fridge and I love it), but you could use any mild tasting lettuce. I would not use anything too peppery or bitter though (such as rocket or radicchio) as the other flavours in the salad could be over-powered. (Although I may try this out just to check.)

Remember to taste your salad before serving. I tend to just throw things together, so some of my quantities may not work for you. I also know that people like things prepared in different ways. For example, my mum does not like too much salad dressing. I prefer a little more lemon juice than others might. So, I suggest adding a little less than I have suggested, and then adding more to taste.

I've used a whole avocado because I adore it, but if watching your weight, use less.

Stay tuned for a middle eastern inspired pomegranate and pistachio rice salad I am working on perfecting.


75-100g baby spinach
1/4 cup raw and shelled raw pistachios roughly chopped
1/2 lebanese cucumber chopped
1/2 bunch chives sliced
1/4 - 1/2 cup mint roughly chopped (add mint to taste - I like more mint)
Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
1 avocado sliced into cubes
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (quantity depends on how much dressing you prefer)
Juice of half a lemon
Salt to taste


Combine baby spinach, pistachios, cucumber, chives, mint, pomegranate seeds and avocado in a bowl. Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice and combine with remaining ingredients just prior to serving. Toss with clean hands. Add salt to taste.

22 February 2009


I am not someone who eats a lot of dessert. I don't crave chocolate, almost always skip dessert in restaurants and much prefer a cheese plate to ice cream. I am a 'savory' person through and through.

But there are some desserts that I do enjoy, on occasion, usually when we have guests. This pavlova is one of them.

The meringue recipe is from Sydney Food by Bill Grainger. It is an easy recipe, though it says to start the oven on 220 degrees and then drop it to 150 degrees (I think, the pages of the book stuck together and I can't quite read that part). I don't tend to do this as I find that the meringue browns. Instead I start the oven on a lower temperatue (usually about 140 degrees in a fan forced oven) and keep it in for longer.

Instead of normal cream, I like to use creme fraiche as I think its sour tang is a great contrast to the sweet meringue. Use whatever fruit you like. Pomegranates are my favourite at the moment. Passionfruit is what I normally use.

For the picture I only made a third of the recipe. Again, apologies for the poor quality, that is something I will have to practice! But thank you to Mark and Scott who took about 40 photos trying to take a really good one!

Ingredients (serves 8)

6 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 tablespoons arrowroot
2 teaspoons white vinegar
300g creme fraiche
1 pomegranate, seeds removed
125g blueberries


Preheat oven to 140 degrees. Place egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla into a clean, dry bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Add sugar in tablespoons, beating continuously until all sugar is added and meringue is glossy and thick. Stir in the cornflour, arrowroot and vinegar.

Line a baking tray with non-stick paper and spead meringue in a circle approximately 20cms in diameter.

Bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until the outside is firm (keep and eye on the meringue during the last 30 minues as oven temperatues differ). Let the meringue cool in the oven with the door slightly open.

Just prior to serving top the meringue with creme fraiche, pomegranate and blueberries.


One of my favourite things to make is mayonnaise. I find the whisking relaxing, not to mention that the final product is incredible. I usually make a small batch once a week and enjoy it with grilled chicken and avocado salad.

The taste of homemade mayonnaise is far superior to store bought mayonnaise. The only time I us store bought mayonnaise is when making Mum's chicken pie - and this is simply because the sweeter taste of store bought mayonnaise works better in that recipe.

Homemade mayonnaise is tangy and creamy. Everyone should have a go. I've heard people say that it is difficult to make, but this is not true. I make my mayonnaise by hand, as I said I find it relaxing, but also the only time mayonnaise has ever split while I was making it was when I used a food processor. You need to make a large batch if you use a food processor, as it is only Mark and me at home, I make small batches.

I have no idea where I read this recipe, there are many around. I have a feeling it is a combination of many I have read over time - but it works well for me.

Feel free to double the recipe below if you would like to make more. This makes just over half a cup. You may need to experiment with the quantities to ensure the taste is just how you like it.


1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 cup sunflower oil
Dijon mustard (extra - to taste)
Squeeze lemon juice
Salt and white pepper to taste


Place the egg yolk, dijon mustard and white wine vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk until combined. Add the sunflower oil one drop at a time, whisking continuously. Continue whisking until the ingredients are emulsified. The mixture should be rich and creamy. You will need to taste the mayonnaise at this point to work out what else it needs. It will be quite bland, so whisk in extra dijon mustard, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.


To make aioli, stir in half a clove to a full clove of fresh garlic. If you are not a huge garlic fan (unlike me) try roasting a head of garlic in the oven. Cut the top off a head of garlic, drizzle with oilve oil and wrap in foil and roast for 30-40 minutes. The garlic flesh will have lost its pungency and be delicious and sweet. Mash the flesh and stir into the mayonnaise to taste.

I also like to add lemon zest, lime zest, lemon myrtle and herbs like mint and basil to the mayonnaise/aioli depending on what I am serving it with. For example, mint aioli works beautifully with roast lamb.

I never use oilve oil when making mayonnaise as the flavour of olive oil is too rich and overpowering. However, if making aioli I do add a very small splash of oilve oil just at the end. It works well with the fresh garlic.

Have fun and experiment.

21 February 2009

Tomato Chicken Rice Curry

I was inspired by Bill Grainger to create this recipe when I found it in a different form in Simply Bill, one of the many Bill Grainger cookbooks that I own (actually one of the many cookbooks I own full stop). I added tomatoes,ginger and lemon myrtle to the original recipe and find that it is delicious. Lemon myrtle is my new favourite cooking ingredient. If you have not tried it, I highly recommend that you do. I would tend to add a bit more lemon myrtle to the curry than indicated below, but that is purely because I just adore the taste.

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 tablespoons curry powder
4 chicken breasts (or 8 thigh pieces), each cut into 3 pieces (if using thigh pieces, just cut in half)
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions
3 cloves garlic crushed
3cm piece ginger grated
2 x 400g tinned tomatoes
1½ cups basmati rice
3 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons lemon myrtle
Mixed steamed vegetables to serve


Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place curry power a bowl and toss chicken pieces to coat well.

Heat olive oil in a casserole dish (with a tight fitting lid) over medium heat. (if you do not have a casserole dish that can be used on the stove, just use a fry pan and transfer to a casserole dish to cook in the oven). Cook chicken in batches until browned. Remove and set aside.

Cook onion, garlic and ginger until soft (if the pan is a little dry, you may need to add a little extra oil). Add rice and cook until well coated and transparent (about 2 minutes). Return chicken to the dish. Add tomatoes and stock and stir to combine.

Cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Add lemon myrtle and return dish to the oven and cook for another 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the rice has absorbed all the liquid.

Serve with steamed greens.

I love taking the leftovers to work the next day. This is one that also freezes well after cooking.

Spinach, Haloumi and Chorizo Salad

I normally serve this salad when entertaining as part of a banquet. It mixes fabulously with roast beef. But, it is also hearty enough to be a meal on its own.

In the picture I have madeit for my husband Mark, and our friend Scott, with grilled chicken. I apologise for the quality of the photo. I have not quite mastered food photography yet!
Ingredients (serves 4 as a main meal, 6 as a side dish)

150g baby spinach washed and dried
2 punnets cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3-4 chorizo sausages chopped (quantity depends on whether you are serving as a side or a main)
1 packet (250g) haloumi cut into 1 cm strips.
2 tablespoons olive oil (extra)
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar


Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place the tomatoes in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for 20 minutes or until soft.

While the tomatoes are cooking, heat a fry pan and a small drizzle of olive oil over medium heat and cook the chorizo until crispy. Drain on absorbent paper and wipe the pan clean.

Place the extra olive oil, balsamic and sugar in a screw top jar and shake to combine.

Place the spinach in a serving bowl. Once the tomatoes are cooked and cooled slightly add the chorizo and tomatoes to the spinach. Immediately fry the haloumi in a little olive oil for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden. Cut into cubes and add to the spinach, chorizo and tomatoes.

Dress with the olive oil and balsamic dressing, mix lightly and serve immediately.

If serving as an accompaniment to steak, marinate the steak in a mixture of soy sauce and red wine vinegar prior to cooking. I find this gives the steak amazing additional flavour.

This is a fantastic salad to serve when entertaining. You can prepare the tomatoes, chorizo and dressing in advance and simply combine with the spinach and haloumi just before serving.

Mum's Chicken Pie

My mum is quite famous for her unique chicken pie recipe. My childhood friends would always talk about how delicious it is. Since I have started making it myself, my husband and friends just love it. I’ll admit it took me a while to make it exactly as she does (and mine still does taste slightly different) but the learning process was well worth it.

Treat the quantities as approximations only and add more or less of anything according to taste.

Mum and I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 carrots
1 large tin corn
2 cups frozen peas
1 onion grated
1 green apple grated
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons plain flour
1/3 cup milk
1 whole BBQ chicken, skin removed, meat shredded
2-4 tablespoons of mayonnaise (according to taste)
2 sheets store bought puff pastry
Powdered chicken stock to taste
1 egg beaten


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Grease a pie dish with oil spray or butter.

Cook the mixed vegetables until just tender. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Once melted, cook the onion and apple until soft. Add the flour and stir until the mixture thickens. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Add milk and cook until thickened. The mixture should be thick, but not runny. Let the mixture cool slightly (you can put the mixture in the fridge to speed up the cooling process). Stir in mayonnaise.

Ensure the chicken and mixed vegetables are cool, add to the mixture and stir until combined. Season to taste with salt, pepper and chicken stock.

Line the pie dish with one sheet puff pastry. Place the mixture in the pie dish and place the remaining sheet of puff pastry over the top and close. Glaze the top of the pie with the egg and cut air vents in the pastry.

Cook for 20 minutes, turning the pie if it cooks unevenly. After 20 minutes, lower the heat to 180 degrees and cook for another 20 minutes.

I like to prepare the pie in advance and store in the freezer, uncooked, to be enjoyed on busy evenings.

Add an additional 2 sheets of puff pastry and make 2 smaller pies using disposable pie dishes. Smaller pie dishes sold at supermarkets serve 2 people and the extra pie can be kept in the freezer for later. Perfect when you are cooking for 2.