Thursday, 16 May 2019

Salt and Pepper Wok Fried Pork Slices

This is a super quick mid week meal to cook and it is so full of flavour.
Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to have an old and dear friend come to work for a coffee.  After she left a representative from a company we haven't dealt with before arrived at 4.20pm, I usually close at 4.30pm but we needed to discuss her company's products.   When I left, after 5pm I went directly to a local supermarket which was luckily on the way home and ran into a lady I haven't seen for nearly 10 years.  Hence, I didn't arrive home until well after 6pm so it was a challenge to get dinner on the table quickly.

On with the rice in the rice cooker, out with the pork rashers (those strips you get from pork belly) luckily they were rindless or else I would have removed the rind.  I sliced them into 1cm strips then 2.5cm slices.  The rice cooker beeped so I removed the cooked basmati rice to a double greaseproof lined tray to cool - this is a neat trick if you don't have time to refrigerate your rice before frying and one my eldest son taught me.

A quick chop of garlic, onion, spring onion, chilli, lap cheong and bacon ensued for both the pork and the fried rice dishes.
Then the pork was fried firstly and placed in a warm oven whilst I fried the rice.  I must share my fried rice recipe with you another time, it is foolproof.  Then some freshly rinsed bok choy was stir fried with garlic, oyster sauce, sesame oil and vegetable stock.
We like to eat well, even when pushed for time.
This recipe is adapted from Adam Liaw's cookbook 'Asian After Work'.


Salt and Pepper Wok Fried Pork Slices

650g pork rashers or pork belly
4 teaspoons sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red chilli, sliced
1 Spring onion chopped
1 1/2  tspn salt
1  tspn pepper
handful of coriander leaves for garnish

Slice the pork rashers, or pork belly roughly into slices 1cm thick x 2.5cm.

Heat your wok, or non stick saucepan over high heat, when ready add 2 teaspoons sesame oil and cook half of the pork, stirring continuously until it is lightly browned on all sides.   Remove pork to a plate and repeat with the remaining sesame oil and pork slices.  Place the browned pork with the first cooked pork.
Lower the wok heat and add the garlic, chilli and spring onion and cook until the garlic is just lightly browned.  Pour off the drained juices from the plate and return the dry pork to the pan.  Add the salt and pepper to taste and toss until well combined.
Serve onto a warmed platter and scatter with coriander leaves.


Do you have quick dishes on stand by for when time is short?
Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Chilli and Capsicum Jam / Relish - Full Flavoured

It's Monday morning, again.  After a busy weekend of
shopping, socialising, gardening and cooking.  This
weekend was incredibly full and I was frantically
melting wax from last week's honey extraction before
leaving for work.  Upon leaving I absentmindedly
reversed into the driveway in my 4 wheel drive and
felt resistance, thinking that I had reversed up the
kerb rather than the driveway it took me a full
30 seconds to remember that today was
bin collection morning.

Yes, you guessed it, I reversed into the incredibly 
full recycling bin and scattered it's entire contents 
down our driveway and halfway in front of the 
neighbour's house as well.

What a way to start the day!  Luckily I had a young man with me and we both burst out
laughing and proceeded to start picking up the scattered plastic juice bottles, glass bottles,
cans and miscellaneous recycling debris.    It was so funny, we continued to laugh through
the entire process, then put the bin back in place before washing up and starting out for work.

Okay, it's the second time I have done it, but that's over a 9 year period.

On Saturday afternoon I decided to make a chilli jam as we have picked so many red chillies during the last week.    We also have picked kilos of baby capsicum in  various red, yellow and black colours.  It seemed obvious to combine the two in a relish/jam suitable to accompany savoury dishes.

Yes, I did wear latex gloves, I learned that lesson many years ago when I first made a chilli sauce.  That very first time I didn't bother wearing latex gloves and my fingers were pink and stung for 3 days afterwards, so please wear gloves whilst you are deseeding and chopping chillies.


Chilli and Capsicum Jam

  • Makes about 3 (250g) jars of jam
  • 600 g chillies, preferably red
  • 450 red pepper, capsicum
  • 1 kg white sugar
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons salt

  1. Deseed about half of the chillies, please wear latex or rubber gloves.  
  2. Deseed and chop the capsicums, roughly chopped them. 
  3. Place into food processor in batches and pulse until they are finely chopped
  4. but the seeds are still whole.  
  5. The above process will take 45 minutes - 1 hour.
Whilst you are still chopping then place the sugar and vinegars into 
a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.  
Cook for about 20 minutes, you want it to thicken slightly.
  1. Add the salt, chillies and capsicums then simmer for another 
  2. 30 to 45 minutes. Make the test with a cold saucer placed in the freezer.
  3. When you put a teaspoon onto the plate and let it sit for 2 minutes 
  4. it should crinkle and leave fine lines.  Then it is done.  
  5. If not cook for another 10 - 15 minutes.

  1. Whilst it is cooking, sterilise the jars. Wash them and place the jars into 
  2. a cold oven and turn it to 150C for 15 minutes.   It is important to keep the jars hot to prevent them from breaking when you fill them with the hot jam.   Pour boiling water over the lids and leave a few minutes just before they are 
  3. needed.

  4. When jam is done,  carefully pour the hot jam into the warm jars. 
  5. Add the lids, and seal.  This sauce will last for at least 1 year, once 
  6. opened, store in the refrigerator where it will last many months.


Please tell me, do you like a hot chilli sauce rather than a sweet
one and
have you ever knocked over a full rubbish bin?

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Monday, 25 March 2019

Asian Pork and Noodle Soup

Autumn is finally here but the weather still thinks that it should be Summer.  Personally I am looking forward to cooler days when you can put a pot of soup on to warm you up, or a delicious slow cooked pull apart Meat dish that scents the whole house with it's seductive aromas.  

In the meantime I have to be content with quick cooking soups that do not heat up the house.  After I photographed this dish I reasoned that the picture looks like something a teenager would concoct after a long day of study with 2 minute noodles.    However, I assure you that this was not the case.

                                                                                                                        To complete the meal we had some freshly picked Dragonfruit (Pitaya) that grows rampantly along one side fence.   Prior to this year our Dragonfruit have always ripened in January, these ones are a bonus.                                            
There were a few ants running on the outside of the uncut fruit, these dispersed when I shook the Pitaya gently, but the small black seeds swam like running ants before my eyes, it was quite disconcerting.


Asian Pork and Noodle Soup

1 1/2 cup light soy sauce
700ml water
1 green shallot finely sliced
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped ginger (2cm knob)
1 clove chopped garlic
2 star anise
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon five spice
700g pork shoulder, loin, scotch fillet or pork belly chopped into 2cm cubes
1 bok choy or 1 bunch gai larn
2 dried whole chillies
Boiled eggs
1 packet thin hokkein noodles

Bring the stock ingredients to a boil then reduce to a simmer and add the chopped pork, cover and cook for 1 hour, testing for tenderness.  Add the bok choy and chillies then simmer for another 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl prepare noodles as per packet instructions.

Place noodles into serving bowls, add 1 or 2 boiled egg halves and pour over the soup.
I had some oven baked pork crackling so added that as well.

Have you ever eaten Dragonfruit?  Do you like It? 
It seems to be an unknown fruit outside of Asia.

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Cucumber with Chilli, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper

Whenever I visit family I always learn something new.
Whether it is exciting new dishes, different methods of preparation or presentation. 
Sometimes it is the simplest of dishes that you can adapt to everyday dining that really impress you.

Recreating one of the simplest of dishes is still one of life's pleasures if it is welcomed and embraced by all.   This cucumber dish is one of those that is thrown together at the last minute before being added to a table already filled with antipasto, freshly sliced pecorino, olives, pasta, carne, insalata, other contorno and red wine.

Over time I have realised that some people do not like you to be able to recreate the dish they cooked as well as how they cooked it themselves.  These people will leave out crucial steps or important ingredients which leaves you puzzled when you cook it at home as to why it is different to theirs, which is why it is so important to "watch" a new dish being created.

This cucumber dish with chilli, olive oil, salt and pepper really needs no explanation at all.
Share it with your next meal however and experience the surprise of your guests when they realise how delicious this simple dish tastes.

Cucumber with Chilli, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper.
Cetriolo con Peperoncino, Oloio d'olia, Sale e Pepe

1 cucumber, washed and dried
1 - 2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
fine sea salt - to taste
freshly cracked black pepper - to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Halve the cucumber in the middle.  Slice lengthwise each half into strips about 5mm thick.  Then slice into strips.
Arrange on a plate and sprinkle with the chilli flakes.
Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.


Do you like simple salad dishes and do you always add chilli to a dish when possible?

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Lobster and Prawn Tomato Linguine

Last weekend I was advised on Friday night that the two youngsters at home were going to Newcastle for the weekend and that hubby and I would have two nights dining, alone.  I was so excited which you would totally understand if you are usually cooking for between 2 - 6 adults.

So I pushed the 1 kilo of beef rump that had just been purchased to the back of the fridge and happily withdrew 2 cryovaced barramundi fillets for Friday night's dinner instead.  3 of the 4 young adults that periodically stay with us do not like fish, although they love oysters, prawns, lobster, squid and scallops so eating fish at home is quite a treat for hubby and myself.

Served with home made hollandaise sauce (so I could save some for eggs benedict the next morning), a fresh crispy salad and home made chips it was divine, and peaceful.

I heard afterwards that the youngsters had a great time in Newcastle as well, catching up with their friends, playing basketball, soccer and healthy outdoor activities for much of the time.  Surprisingly.

On Saturday it was as if we had a smorgasbord of opportunities for dinner but I opted to cook lobster linguine, filling our bowls with prawns as well.  This is a delightful, luxurious and decadent dish that makes you feel special.  Cook it and trust me, you will feel the same way.

I will try to replicate faithfully this amazing 'Dinner for 2'.
Serve it simply with some crusty bread, any salads you make will be ignored.

By the way, Mother's birthday present, aka the cute Ragdoll is now known as Kimba.


Lobster and Prawn Linguine

12 green prawns, tail on and deveined
Olive oil
4 green lobster tails
2 shallots (or half a white onion), chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
400ml can tomato pieces
125ml tomato passata
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Continental (Italian) parsley
Dried Linguine
More chopped fresh parsley for decoration
Crusty bread for a side dish

Mix the green prawns with 1 chopped clove garlic.
Remove the lobster from the shell and chop into 4cm slices.
Firstly heat your frypan to medium high heat, add a little olive oil and fry the prawns for about 4 minutes until they are just cooked, turning occasionally.  Remove and place in a bowl whilst you cook the rest.
Heat up a little olive oil in your frypan and cook the shallots for a minute before adding the remaining 2 cloves garlic and fry for 1 more minute.   Add the chopped lobster chunks and fry on each side, approximately 5 minutes you just want to seal in their flavour, not to cook them through.  Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.
Pour over the chopped tomato pieces, passata and water.   Bring to a simmer, do not boil or you can make the lobster pieces tough.  When simmering add the parsley, salt and pepper and continue at a low simmer for 20 minutes stirring gently, occasionally.
Whilst it is simmering place a saucepan of water to come to the boil and cook the linguine for approximately 10 minutes or as per packet instructions.  
Pour the cooked prawns back in the tomato mixture and cook until heated through, 3 - 4 minutes.  Taste and adjust the seasoning if required. 
Drain the linguine, reserving a little of the cooking water if needed to thin the sauce.  Pour the linguine over the tomato sauce and gently mix, adding a little pasta cooking water if needed.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve the lobster and prawn linguine in the pan onto a place mat directly onto the table.

The lobster tails cooking in white wine, shallots and garlic.

A nice glass of red wine, accompanied by the crusty bread loaf and dinner for 2 is served.

As mentioned, don't bother with a salad, you will be too busy enjoying this linguine.

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Monday, 4 February 2019

Cream Cheese Cake

These past few weeks have been so busy.  Back to work after summer holidays, weekend catch-ups with friends, my mother's cataract operation as well as the search for the perfect pussy cat have all been time draining.   My Father wanted an adult cat so we fostered a one year old cat who then spent the next 5 days hiding under the leather recliners in the lounge room.  He wasn't right for them and the previous people who had him were happy to have him returned to them.  We looked at another older cat but he was also a little scared and by then Mum and I realised we had to get a kitten.  I saw on facebook there was a gorgeous 3 month old Ragdoll boy available.

It was a  5 hour round journey to go and pick up this gorgeous little cat but the whole family has fallen in love with him.  My father was totally surprised and my Mother is already under his spell.  I informed Mum that he was a 'people's cat' and needed to be around people so he couldn't be put in the laundry at night like their previous cats.  Last night, at 1am apparently Puss (as yet nameless) wanted to sleep on Mum's pillow with her, and heeding my warning, she put him outside her bedroom door, shutting the door and letting him have the run of the rest of the house.    This is one of the most adorable cats that ever existed.

My sister in law recently gifted me some blocks of Philadelphia cream cheese and I remembered seeing this gorgeous cake on a friend's website which I had filed for future use.  It is simple to make when you are short on time, inspiration and energy.  Perfect for post-cat searching days.

Thank you Angie for sharing this beautiful Gateau au fromage .

I will share with you the new pussy cat's name as soon as he has been named.


Weekend Cream Cheese Cake

500 g cream cheese
100 g white sugar
4 eggs, separated
100 g of cornstarch
1 tsp of vanilla extract

Crack the eggs, separating the whites from the yolks and placing the yolks into your mixing bowl.
Whisk the yolks with the sugar and vanilla extract until it is creamy and starts to whiten.
Add the cornstarch, mix lightly, then add the cream cheese and beat for 2 minutes, until well combined and fluffy.
 Set aside into a large bowl.  Clean and dry your mixing bowl then add the egg whites and beat approximately 4 minutes until stiff.
Gently fold the whites into the cheese mixture.
Preheat oven to 200 ° C.
Grease and flour the mold of 20 cm cake pan.
Pour the mixture place into the middle of your oven and bake for 20 to 25 min.


Are you a cat person or a dog person?  What would you name this little cutie?

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Ga Kho Vietnamese Caramelised Chicken

We have had the best Summer Holiday, visiting family and friends in South Australia and driving through the most beautiful countryside including Shepparton, Bendigo, Dubbo, Halls Gap, Port MacDonnell and Mount Gambier.

Our family made sure we ate magnificently whilst we were away. From the beautiful flake cooked in Port MacDonnell to the perfectly barbecued beef eye fillet in Mount Gambier, also Fagoli (bean soup), vegetable + meatball lasagne as well as the surprisingly good Chinese we had in Hay we certainly ate well every step of our journey.   Hubby stated that the vanilla slice he had in Halls Gap was the best he had eaten since childhood.  Slow, cooked lunches on lazy vacation days are incredible and always well remembered.  Arriving home though, I was craving some nice Asian food.

So we enjoyed an amazing and full flavoured Ga Kho with Thai basil rice and broccolini in oyster sauce.  The Ga Kho (Vietnamese Caramelised Chicken) recipe comes from The Ravenous Couple.

I cooked this dish with chicken thigh fillets as they are quick and always tender.
You could use chicken thigh cutlets or drumsticks but increase the cooking time to 30 minutes and check they are cooked before taking off the heat.


  Caramelised Chicken - Ga Kho
  • 1 kilo chicken thigh fillets
  • 2 tbs fish sauce for marinade
  • 1 tbs brown sugar for marinade
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 tbs grated/finely minced ginger
  • 2 shallots minced (you can substitute a small onion)
  • 2 jalapenos thinly sliced (or other hot chillies)
  • 2 shallots (green onions) sliced in 1 cm slices
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • sesame seeds for garnish
Marinade the chicken with 2 tbs of fish sauce and 1 tbs brown sugar for about at least1/2 hr, 2 hours is better. Whilst it is marinating in the fridge, in a small bowl make the sauce by combining 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup water, rice vinegar, and fish sauce and mix until dissolve. Add the ginger, shallots, and garlic and set aside.

Heat a large pan on high with cooking oil and add the chicken. Allow to sear without touching them for a minute or so and then pour in about 1/4 of the sauce. Try not to move around the chicken as you want the chicken to sear and caramelise. The sauce will start to thicken and the chicken will brown after a few minutes. Check to see if it's nicely caramelised, then turn the pieces of chicken over and pour in the rest of the sauce. Continue to cook until sauce is reduced to a nice thick consistency (approx 15- 20 minutes) and just before you turn off the heat, toss in the chillies and spring onions. Transfer to serving platter and generously top with sesame seeds and fresh cracked pepper.


Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx