Friday, January 20, 2012

Granola Get up and go!

Consuming Granola (like roasted muesli) for breakfast will give you a great start to the day! It has incredible textures and crunch with a load of ingredients packed full of punch. This breakfast/snack recipe will give you loads of energy and help improve digestion.
Once you make granola in your own kitchen, you will be hook line and sinker.

Our Get up and go! Granola
Our recipe makes about 1KG;

65 ml sunflower oil
270g rolled oats
120g bran
170 g sunflower seeds
120g sultanas or raisins (you could do 60g raisins 60g sultanas)
160g dates
120g dried apricots
120g hazelnuts
120g walnuts
120g wheatgerm
80g Flax seed flakes (optional)
170g honey
*we have also add roasted macadamia nuts on occassions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees
Over low heat pour oil and honey into pan. Let honey melt completely
Place oats, bran and sunflower into a bowl. Remove pan from heat and add honey to bowl mixing well. Spoon mixture out onto large baking tray
Roast mixture for about 20-25 mins, turning mixture and spreading again three or four times to ensure even roasting and no burning, then leave to cool
Roast the hazelnuts until golden brown (about 8-10 mins). Once roasted leave to cool and then roughly chop, along with the walnuts, apricots and dates
Once mixture has cooled, mix all ingredients together, place into a dry air tight container - will last up to 1 month

**some ideas when serving granola;
 - Granola can be served with milk and your choice of fruit. We love blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and another great combo poached (or raw) sliced pears or apple

 - Granola can also be served with yoghurt - plain greek yoghurt or your choice of flavour, served with fruit

 - Granola can also be served with a berry coulis

Our Mixed Berry Coulis Recipe;

450g Mixed berries (frozen are just as good and cheaper)
70g Fruit fructose (maybe less, you decide)
a squeeze fresh lemon juice
2 tbs water

Berries in pan before turning to coulis/jam
Over low heat place all ingredients into a non stick pan and cover with lid for 10 mins
Check after 10 mins to make sure consistency is firm - if not allow to simmer with lid off for a few more mins
If you prefer no seeds, then the next step is to strain the mixture through a sieve (sieve will collect seeds and you can collect the coulis into a bowl)
Transfer the hot coulis into a sterilized jar and seal it up with tight fitting lid
Once opened, keep in the fridge
Can also be used as a great topping on ice-cream, pancakes or as a syrup in milkshakes

Berry coulis
***to sterilize jars, bottles simply by boiling water in a large pot, place the jar or bottles into water ensuring they are fully immersed. Also add the lids allowing them to float separately. Let them boil for 30 mins, then carefully remove them with tongs, tip upside down on clean tea towel to allow to dry (or place onto baking tray and allow them to heat dry in oven for ten minutes) then add your mixture to sterilized jar and you're done! Really easy.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cooking Tip / Chopping onions without tears

Each Thursday we will be posting cooking tips to ensure your time in the kitchen is spent with smiles rather than tears or frustrations! Speaking of tears, we cant think of a better first post than this "Conquering the devil in the kitchen - the onion". I'm sure all of you would agree that at one time or another onion has got the better of you! How many of you have peeled and sliced an onion wearing swimming goggles? Don't laugh, it works! My husband wears them well...that is, he did, until I showed him a technique I'm going to share with you now...Most importantly, you MUST have a VERY SHARP knife;

Peel onion and cut in half vertically

Slice the half onion thinly from top
 to bottom of the onion
As per photo slice off the non root end

You should have gorgeous even cut sliced
 pieces of onion

Slice the other half of the onion thinly from top to bottom without cutting all the way through at the root end

Make sure you don't cut through the root (top end)
Cut vertical slices 5mm apart
from one side to the other  
Cut horizontal slices thinly across the onion
the root end

Finally cut the onion across the slices, dicing the onion
as you go

discard root end

fine diced from one half and sliced from the other half

Cool huh? We guarantee no tears if you do this method properly!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Beef noodle soup with rice noodles from Luke Nguyens Vietnam

Many of us LOVE going out for Pho. This particular dish is becoming increasingly popular in our hometown of Melbourne, Victoria. We are really looking forward to preparing this dish in our own home and wanted to share with you a link to Luke Nguyens "how to make Pho bo" from Luke Nguyens Vietnam series. We are HUGE fans of Luke's and have been following his show for a few years now.  His style is so exciting, bringing together traditional Vietnamese food and rich culture. We also hope to visit his Sydney restaurant "Red Lantern" in the near future. 

After watching this link we are sure you will gain confidence in approaching this delicate dish.

Vietnamese dipping sauce Nuoc cham

We found a brilliant Vietnamese sauce base in a cook book we are now the proud owners of - Rick Stein's far eastern odyssey. This sauce is traditionally Vietnamese and provides an amazing depth of flavour to so many dishes as below - including our very own recipe using king prawns.

Vietnamese dipping sauce Nuoc cham

2 tbs fresh lime juice (big juicy lime)
2 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp fresh ginger very finely chopped (skin off)
1/2 red chilli (large and seeded for mild spice) or 1 red chilli (small for hot spice)
1 garlic clove (Asian) very finely chopped 

Combine all of the ingredients together with 2 tbs water (optional), then place in dipping saucers to serve.

This is the size to aim for when preparing your ingredients
A favourite recipe we love to prepare using the Nuoc cham as a base to our marinade is our very own recipe - Kristy's Fragrant Vietnamese prawns! This dish came about last year when we were planning a lunch at our place with family. We love the colours of Asia and wanted to showcase this in our array of food for the afternoon! Secondly, a seafood dish was a must along with wonderful textures and incredible flavours of course!

Colour and Flavour for Kristy's Fragrant Prawns dish

Kristy's Fragrant Vietnamese Prawns

**Prepare Nuoc cham sauce as above and use this as your base marinade for this dish
18 King Prawns (shelled with tails left on)
1- 2 fat lemongrass stalk cored, halved and very finely chopped
 **use only the bottom half and discard the thin top part. Make sure you finely chop otherwise will taste woody & unpleasant in texture
1/2 cup very finely chopped coriander
1/4 cup very finely chopped mint
1/4 cup Vietnamese basil
1 tsp cracked black pepper (no salt needed as salt already contained in fish sauce)

Place Nuoc cham into large bowl. Add to this the prawns and toss around with your "clean" hands or use latex gloves for even better hygiene
Add remaining ingredients and toss through with hands
Taste test and add more flavour if so desired (we LOVE garlic and chilli, so I usually add another chopped clove on top of the garlic already used in the Nuoc cham sauce and a little more chilli)
Admire the incredible colours, smells and tastes, then cover with cling wrap and place into refrigerator for 1 hour
To cook Prawns;
Option 1 Thread individually onto skewers (be sure to soak skewers in cold water for 30 mins prior, to avoid burning) BBQ over medium to high heat for 5-6 mins (maybe less) until cooked through (prawns should be translucent and moist) turning frequently until cooked through
Option 2 Cook in pan over medium to high flame for 1-2 mins turning frequently until cooked through (prawns should be translucent and moist)

Nuoc cham also works brilliantly as a topping sauce for Rick Steins  "Baguette sandwich of char grilled beef marinated in soy, lemongrass and chilli"

Rick Steins "Baguette sandwich of char-grilled beef
 marinated in soy, lemongrass and chilli"
This recipe we enjoyed borrowing and changing slightly from Rick Stein's far eastern odyssey and we highly recommend you give it a go! This has become a favourite in our home across summer.

400g piece of beef topside, trimmed of all fat
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 fat stalks lemongrass, core and finely chop
20g crushed garlic
100g shallots, finely chopped
4 tbs dark soy sauce
2 tbs palm sugar
2 red bird's eye chillies finely chopped (seeded also for milder spice)

To serve:
1/2 cucumber grated length ways
1 small green mango (weighing about 450g or opt for a green pawpaw same amount and slice with mandolin - we used the pawpaw as green mangoes were not available at our Asian grocer)
4 tsp fish sauce
4 tsp lime juice
12 small par-baked mini baguettes 

Thinly slice beef and then cut into strips, 2.5cm wide. Put the black pepper, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and half the soy sauce into food processor and process into a smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the rest of the soy sauce, the sugar, chilli and beef. Leave to marinate for 1 hour. Cover 24 bamboo skewers, about 18com long, with cold water and leave them to soak alongside the beef.
For the salad, cut the cucumber in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon, then, using a potato peeler, cut it lengthways into thin strips. Peel the green mango (or green pawpaw) and finely shred it. Mix them together in a bowl and leave in the fridge until needed.
Bake the bread according to the packet instructions if necessary (we bought ours from Vietnamese bakery and had them cold)
To cook, weave 2 strips of beef onto each bamboo skewer.
Light your BBQ - if coal wait until the coals have turned a light colour and grill the beef skewers for 1- 1/12 minutes on each side until nicely browned on the outside, but still moist and juicy in the centre.
Mix the fish sauce and lime juice in the green mango or green pawpaw and cucumber salad.
Split open the bread rolls, place 2 skewers of beef inside and slide the meat off into the roll. Add some of the green mango or pawpaw salad and a drizzle of Nuoc cham sauce

We look forward to hearing about your experiences making these dishes.


Monday, January 16, 2012


We visited the Melbourne Vietnamese Lunar Festival on Sunday in Victoria St, Richmond - this festival also coinciding with the start Chinese New Year Festivities.

If any event should represent the heart and soul of our great city - this was it. It was an example of what the modern day Australia has become. It is something, we, as Australians should be proud of.

The day showcased a wonderful & thriving Melbourne-based Vietnamese community and the richness it's culture brings to our young country.

In 1976 - just after the Vietnam War - there were only 382 recorded Vietnamese immigrants in Victoria. These few were mostly made up of orphans from the war, Vietnamese wives of Aussie servicemen and a few tertiary students. Today over 58,000 Victorians are Vietnamese born. We love what they have brought to this country - the wonderful food and culture full of so much color &  incredible flavor!

We walked Victoria street bouncing off thousands of people as well as zigzagging our way to each of the amazing Vietnamese street-food stalls. The air was full of the smells of Vietnam with fragrant BBQ'd offerings at every turn - we couldn't see the stalls through the thick crowd - we only needed to follow our noses to find the next offering.

The constants of Vietnamese food were all around us, the waft of fresh BBQ, the ever-present pungent aroma of fish sauce & shrimp paste, freshly cut & brightly colored salads used to accompany the marinated pork, prawn and chicken skewers, stuffed squid & BBQ'd quail. The Vegetarian offer was prevalent also with freshly cooked Vietnamese pancakes served with minty-leafy greens for wrapping and sweet dipping sauce. It was also hard to walk past the many stalls serving delicious bowls of Pho, quickly assembled - so clean and fresh! Fresh fruit and sugar cane thirst quenchers were also available and very enjoyable.



Pork & Chicken

Corn. Chicken Satay



Vegetarian Pancake

Rice cakes with egg

Sugar Cane
Enter the year of the dragon!
Enter year of the little pup - Kingston

Small & Big kids enjoying snow cones and fairy floss

Sweet little girl enjoying the festivities