Author: fourplates35

!My food journey began when I had my first child, Tate. Being a new mother, everything had to be fresh and healthy and, in the process, I started cleaning up my diet also. I was the fussiest eater in my childhood (and my mum would vouch for this) so it seemed unbelievable to everybody who knew me that I started cooking and really experimenting with flavours and complicated techniques. I have really blossomed since the birth of my second child, Harper, and we live by my 80/20 rule, 80% red wine....just kidding... 80% fresh, clean food and 20% for naughtiness. I have also become a bit of a fitness junkie and I visit the gym 4 times a week - fitness and healthy food go hand-in-hand for me. My focus is on simple, healthy cooking and sometimes pushing my techniques to a new level. Everyone has a budget for food, and therefore I always try to buy what's on special. I shop for fruit and veggies at least 1-2 times a week, and protein once or twice every 2 weeks. I freeze practically everything, labelling and portioning as I go. I could not survive without my deep freeze. 80 % of what I cook can be frozen which frees up my time. My pantry is always stocked with staples and a large array of spices needed to create many dishes. Just counted my spices today - about 50! Why do I need that many? I probably don't, but some random recipe will require it and the flavour will change without it. Most of my spices only cost around $1 a packet, so are not a big outlay if you build up slowly. My style of cooking is quite asian (to my husbands dismay, he's a meat and 3 veg) as I find that cuisine so fresh, full of flavour and quite healthy. I don't follow any specific diet and I have no allergies, I just like to explore all the amazing recipes and ways of eating out there. Anyway, enjoy my blog, start cooking and I hope to inspire you with my food journey!!

Thai Chicken Burgers with Vegetable Pickle

IMG_1459I’m a sucker when it comes to burgers and this one didn’t disappoint. Using my Thai Curry Paste I marinated the chicken thighs for a couple of hours then cooked on the char grill. The burger is actually smaller than it looks, I found cute little Brioche Buns at Coles, which I now use for all my burgers – just the right size. If I had the time, I would love to make my own buns. I’ve included the Vegetable Pickle recipe which can be done in the morning and will last a week in the fridge. You don’t have to make a burger, skewers would be great or even rice paper rolls – Yum!


Thai Chicken Burgers with Vegetable Pickle

Serves 2-4


Ingredients

500g chicken thigh

2-3 tablespoons of Thai Curry Paste or store-bought Yellow Curry Paste

1-2 tablespoons of oil

Vegetable Pickle

1 carrot, julienned

1 Lebanese cucumber, seeds removed and cut into batons ( I had baby cucumbers which I just halved)

100ml rice vinegar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

To Serve

 fresh chilli, coriander, baby spinach and rocket, sweet chilli mayo and bread rolls.


Method

  1. Marinate chicken thigh in the curry paste and oil, at least 30 minutes or even better overnight. Can be frozen at this stage.
  2. For the vegetable pickle, place the vinegar, sugar, salt and 125ml of water into a small saucepan and heat until sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and cool.
  3. Place the carrot and cucumber into a jar and pour over the cooled pickling liquid, let marinate in the fridge for at least an hour before using. Will last up to a week.
  4. Cook your chicken on the BBQ or fry pan, when ready serve on the brioche bread rolls with some Kewpie mayo mixed with sweet chilli sauce, fresh coriander, fresh chilli if you like, the vegetable pickle and baby spinach and rocket.

Notes

The vegetable pickle is beautiful with a Thai noodle salad, rice paper rolls or Banh Mi. You can also add slices of chilli  and garlic  to the pickle, but the pickle will only last 2 days.

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Thai Beef Salad

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 Everyone has their own method for doing a Thai Beef Salad and this is mine. This Thai Beef Salad is gluten-free, dairy free and grain free. I’ve listed  just the basic salad ingredients,  you could also add finely sliced capsicum, julienned carrots, snow pea sprouts, bean sprouts, rice noodles and fresh chilli. All can be prepared ahead and will take 15 mins to cook.


Thai Beef Salad


( serves 2-4 )

Ingredients

Juice of 2 limes*

2 cm pice of ginger, grated on a micro plane or pound in a mortar and pestle *

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 tablespoon  palm sugar or soft brown sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon soy sauce **

Pinch of white pepper

500 g rump, porterhouse or scotch fillet steak

100-200grams mixed lettuce leaves

1 cucumber, sliced into ribbons

1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tablespoon mint, coriander and Thai basil, roughly shredded

1 tablespoon unsalted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

 


Method

  1. Mix the lime juice, ginger, garlic, sugar, oil, fish sauce, soy and white pepper in a jar and shake to combine.
  2. Take 2 tablespoons of dressing and marinate the steak for at least an hour or overnight.
  3. Start arranging the salad, place mixed lettuce, cucumber ribbons, cherry tomatoes, mint, coriander, Thai basil on a large platter.
  4. Heat a BBQ or fry pan over high heat, cook steak to your liking, rest the steak, then slice across the grain into thin ribbons.
  5. Scatter the steak over your salad, pour over the reserved dressing, garnish with peanuts and fresh chilli.

*I have these items stored in freezer. Grate ginger straight from freezer and microwave limes at 30 sec increments till defrosted.

** can use Tamari, just halve the quantity.

Pork Gyozas

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I have been using this same recipe for years, simple ingredients – equals simple flavours! You can cook them like Gyozas (pan fry one side and then steam at the end), steam, boil, add to soup or broth, or deep fry for something naughty. I’ve tried them every way and they are delicious! The recipe is very adaptable if you wish to add chilli or use chicken mince, prawn or a mix, just be adventurous. They can be frozen once assembled and will last in the freezer for 2-3 months. Just thaw in the fridge overnight before cooking.

Lastly serve them with a Japanese Soy Dipping Sauce or if deep fried Okanami Sauce and Japanese Mayo – oh so very sinful!


Pork Gyozas


Ingredients

500 g pork mince

1/2   wombok (Chinese cabbage), core removed from each leaf and finely shredded

3 green onions/shallots/spring onion, white removed and finely chopped

2 garlic clove, crushed

4 teaspoon light soy sauce

4 teaspoon shoaxing wine

2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon caster sugar

Pinch of ground white pepper

48 gyoza or gowgee wrapper, 2 packets

2 – 4 teaspoon peanut oil

1/4 cup (60ml) water

Japanese soy sauce, to serve


  1. Combine the pork, wombok, green onion, garlic, soy sauce, sake, sesame oil, caster sugar and pepper in a medium bowl, mix all together with your hands.
  2. Place gyoza wrapper, about 6 at a time on a clean surface, put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each one, wetting the edges as you go, fold over to make a half moon and pleat the edges together. Its a bit fiddly the first time, but you will get the hang of it. Repeat this process until all filling is used. If you have filling left over, it can be frozen. You can also freeze the gyozas at this stage, make sure they dont touch each other and separate the layers with baking paper.
  3. Heat the peanut oil in a large frying pan over high heat until just smoking. Remove from heat. Arrange dumplings over the base of the frying pan. Return to the heat and cook for 2 minutes or until the base of the dumplings are golden. Sprinkle water evenly over the gyozas. Cook, covered, for 3-4 minutes or until gyozas are cooked through and the water evaporates. Remove from heat and set aside for 2 minutes.Place on a serving platter. Serve immediately with soy sauce or a Japanese dipping sauce.

Japanese Quinoa Patties

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Here’s a quick healthy lunch that can be made ahead and frozen, ready to reheat when the pangs of hunger strike! They are low in calories, high in protein, low carbs, gluten free and most importantly – super tasty! This recipe will make a large enough batch that you can freeze half and have the rest in the fridge. They go great with any type of noodle, leafy salad or even a wrap or burger. They will last 1 month in the freezer and 2-3 days in the fridge.


Japanese Quinoa Patties


Ingredients

2 tablespoons soy sauce *

2 tablespoons oyster sauce*

1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

2 cm piece (knob) ginger, grated using a micro plane

2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped

1/4 cup coriander, finely chopped

1/4 cup cornflour

100 g kale or baby spinach, finely chopped

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa

500 g chicken mince


  1. Place soy, oyster, chilli, ginger, garlic, coriander and cornflour into a large bowl, mix thoroughly to ensure cornflour is absorbed and there is no lumps.  Add the kale or baby spinach, lightly beaten egg, cooked quinoa and chicken mince, stir all ingredients until well combined.
  2. The mixture will be quite wet, that is why they are so moist once cooked.You can store the mixture in the fridge until ready to cook.
  3. To cook, heat a large sized fry pan over med heat, spray with oil and using two spoons, scoop the mixture up and using the other spoon push the mixture off into the frypan and just lightly push the pattie down with the back of your spoon. They will take about 3 minutes each side, depending on the thickness of your patties, continue this process with the rest of your mixture, place in a pre heated oven to keep warm or cool in the fridge and then freeze between sheets of baking paper.

 *Ayam brand offer gluten free soy and oyster sauce. You could use Tamari also, just adjust the quantity.

Thai Curry and Homemade Paste

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I’ve struggled with a name for this curry paste, so I’m just going generic “Thai Curry “. Its the colour of a yellow curry, with flavours of a green curry and a laksa mixed in. Ive kept the paste very mild in the heat department, so if you like it hot,  double the chilli’s or use a couple of birds eyes. I use this paste for fish cakes, roast chicken, chicken meatballs, pork and quinoa patties and soups. The paste will last 3 weeks in the fridge and 2-3 months in the freezer.


Thai Curry Paste

( makes about 1 cup )


Ingredients

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

2 teaspoons shrimp paste

12 dried long red chillies, soaked in boiling water for 30 mins or fresh, roughly chopped

5 cm piece of galangal, peeled and roughly chopped*

300g asian shallots or golden shallots

2 tablespoons oil

4 lemongrass stems, white part only, smashed and chopped*

12 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped

100 g coriander , roots and leaves, roughly chopped*

6 kaffir lime leaves, chopped*

zest of 1 lime*

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons ground tumeric

1 teaspoon paprika


 Method
  1. Dry roast the coriander and cumin seeds over medium heat, shaking the pan constantly, 2-3 minutes.Place the toasted spices and peppercorns into a mortar and pestle, pound until finely broken down.
  2. Wrap the shrimp paste in a small piece of foil and place under the grill, about 3 mins, turning twice. You will be able to smell it.
  3. Place ground spices, shrimp paste and chopped chilli’s into a food processor , pulse a couple if times. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until a paste forms. You will need to scrape down the sides every 30 secs.
  4. Store in jars with a layer of oil on top.

* I buy all these ingredients in bulk or when on special and store them in my freezer.


Thai Curry

( serves 4-6 )


Ingredients

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1 onion, sliced

2 to 3 tablespoons of homemade curry paste

500 g chicken breast or thigh, chopped

400 ml coconut cream or milk

500 ml chicken stock or water

6 kaffir lime leaves, left whole

200 to 300 g vegetables of choice

15 g thai basil, roughly torn

2 tablespoons fish sauce

Juice of 1 lime

1 to 2 tablespoons of soft brown sugar

Garnish with roasted peanuts, shredded kaffir lime, thai basil and sliced fresh chilli

Brown Rice to serve


 Method
  1. Place a large wok over medium heat and fry off the onion in the peanut oil until translucent, add the curry paste and continue cooking until fragrant.
  2. Pour in coconut cream/milk, stock and kaffir lime leaves, increase heat and bring to the boil, reduce heat to med, add chicken and vegetables and summer until cooked.
  3. Lastly add basil, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar, adjust to suit taste.
  4. Serve with brown rice and garnishes.

Protein Bliss Balls

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Now I know there is a thousand  Bliss Ball recipes out there, now there is a thousand and one – ha! These little beauties are very high in protein, high in good fats and  low in refined sugar. They are adaptable with any nuts, seeds or dried fruits, just substitute the same quantities. You don’t even have to roll into balls, just press into a lined baking tray and place in the freezer, slice once frozen. They will last 2 weeks in the fridge and 2 months in the freezer.


Protein Bliss Balls

30 balls


Ingredients

300 g pitted dates

80 g roasted walnuts/cashews or Brazil nuts

100 g roasted almonds

2 tablespoons linseeds, chia, sunflower and pepita

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoon tahini or peanut butter

2 tablespoons raw cacao powder

3 tablespoons protein powder (whey protein isolate-plain)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Desiccated coconut to roll

 


  1.  Blitz the dates until crumbly, add nuts and seeds, blitz until mixed thoroughly.
  2. Melt coconut, honey and tahini or peanut butter in microwave, pour into mixture, pulse to combine. Add raw cacao, protein powder and vanilla. Blitz until the mixture starts to come together.Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and cover with desiccated coconut, store in fridge or freezer.

Banana Peanut Butter Bread

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Can this bread get any better- healthy, gluten free, paleo ( if using almond butter), dairy free, refined sugar free and with the added  yumminess of peanut butter, banana, pecans and honey!

It can be made in a  mini muffin, loaf or cake tin. I recommend storing it in the freezer, only so you don’t consume the whole loaf in one day – hehe.

Don’t be fooled by it being healthy, it is high in fat, good fats that is…


Banana Peanut Butter Bread


Ingredients

Wet

3 large bananas, mashed

1/4 cup honey or maple syrup

3 eggs

1/2 cup peanut butter or any nut butter

Dry

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bi carb soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt (omit the salt if using peanut butter)

Crumble

4 tablespoons coconut oil

1-2 tablespoons coconut sugar*

2 tablespoons almond meal

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped or any nut you prefer


Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175c. Prepare your tin with oil and baking paper.
  2. Combine all wet ingredients together in a large bowl and lightly whisk.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir, pour into prepared tin.
  4. Mix crumble ingredients in a small bowl using your hands, sprinkle over the top of the cake batter. Cook in oven for 40-50 minutes (that’s for a loaf tin) for muffins, check after 15 minutes, then every 5 minutes till done. You can usually smell the cake when its close to being ready. Leave in the tin to cool, then gently lift out using the paper, its really soft and moist.

* Coconut sugar can be found in the sugar section of your local supermarket or at health food stores.

This recipe was adapted from Paleomg.com .

Spice Rubbed Pork Loin and Brown Rice Quinoa mix with Apple Mint Salsa

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I love cooking with pork loin, it is low in fat, high in protein and provides a rich source of B vitamins and selenium.  Serve it up with some brown rice/quinoa mix and some roast vegetables, and you have a well-balanced, healthy meal. It’s gluten free and can be made paleo.  This recipe is quick and easy to prepare – and even easier to cook. The spiciness of the pork balances so well with the tangy apple mint salsa. You can add the spices to the pork the day before and also make the Apple Mint Salsa.  The pork works well with roast carrot, pumpkin or sweet potato and a nice dollop of greek yoghurt!  It can be eaten hot or cold.


Spice Rubbed Pork Loin and Brown Rice Quinoa mix with Apple Mint Salsa


Ingredients

Spice Rub

1/2 teaspoon cummin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

5 cloves, ground in a mortar and pestle

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle

400-600g pork loin fillet, halved

Apple Mint Salsa*

1/2 cup mint leaves, finely chopped

2 green apples, peeled and finely diced

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

 

1 cup dry brown rice quinoa mix, cooked in chicken stock

roasted carrot, pumpkin or sweet potato

1/4 cup greek yoghurt


Method

  1. Pre heat oven to 180c, fan forced. Roast your choice of vegetable to serve.
  2. Combine all the spices in a freezer bag with salt and pepper, place in the pork and shake the bag. Set aside until ready to cook.
  3. Place all the apple mint salsa ingredients in a container and place in the fridge to infuse.
  4. To cook the pork, place an oven proof fry pan over high heat and seal the pork loin till nice and caramelized, 3-5 minutes. Then place in the oven for 12-15 minutes, depending if you like it medium or well done. Remember it will continue cooking whilst resting. Once cooked to your liking set aside under some foil and rest for 10 minutes whilst you prepare your salad.
  5. Re-heat the quinoa if prepared earlier, add a squeeze of lemon juice and a dash of oil, place on plates, top with roasted vegetables. Carve your rested pork, fan over the quinoa and vegetables, top with apple mint salsa and a dollop of greek yoghurt.

*recipe from Donna Hay Cookbook.

 

Marinated Lamb Skewers with Haloumi and Grape Tomatoes

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On a bit of a Tapas roll this weekend, creating and making some awesome finger food. A lot of my creations come from what I’ve got in the fridge – lamb, haloumi, grape tomatoes and greek yoghurt!

Just marinate the lamb overnight in rosemary, garlic, lemon juice and rice bran oil, prepare the tomato and haloumi, thread all the ingredients onto the skewers and place in fridge until ready to cook.

Cook on the  BBQ or just pan fry till golden and delicious!


Marinated Lamb Skewers with Haloumi and Grape Tomatoes


Ingredients

400-500g lamb leg steak, diced into 2 cm pieces

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped or 1/2 tablespoon of dried rosemary

4 garlic cloves, smashed with a back of a knife and roughly chopped

juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoon rice bran oil, olive oil or grapeseed oil

180g Haloumi, sliced then cut into squares

1 punnet of grape or cherry tomatoes halved

bamboo skewers, short or long

Yoghurt Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup greek yoghurt

1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano or 1 teaspoon of fresh chopped oregano

1 garlic clove, cruched

dash of lemon juice and salt & pepper


Method

  1. Combine the lamb, rosemary, garlic, lemon juice and oil in a container, season and marinate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Make the dipping sauce ahead of time to enable the flavours to be absorbed. Whisk all dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl, place in fridge till ready to use. Will last 3-4 days.
  3. To assemble the skewers, thread the haloumi on very slowly, (turning the skewer as you go, learn’t the hard way and mine kept breaking) then a piece of lamb, more haloumi, half a tomato, lamb, haloumi and tomato.
  4. Repeat this process until all ingredients are used, cook immediately on a fry pan/bbq or place in fridge till ready.
  5. Serve with dipping sauce as finger food or as a meal with  flatbread and salad.

Momofuku Style Pork Steam Bun

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I have always wanted to try these little pillows of goodness ever since my brother had told me of eating them in New York, I think he paid $8 for 2 tiny ones. With this recipe you will be able to stretch the dollar A LOT further.

The sweet fluffy buns, succulent juicy pork and the freshness  of the pickles will leave you wanting more and more and more….I do have to mention that I cheated on the buns and bought a pre packaged Banh Bao Flour Mix from my local asian supermarket, I didn’t even know they made it pre packaged like this – heaven sent!  The hard work isn’t done for you though, you will still have to knead the dough, let it rest and knead again and roll out. The buns can be made and steamed ahead of time, store in the fridge for 1 day or in the freezer for 2 months. I was lucky enough to have some Pork Belly already poached sitting in the freezer, just defrosted it, sliced into pieces and shallow fried-done! You could also use Char Sui Pork or Peking Duck.

This recipe would have to be one of my favourites, right up there with the Twice Cooked Pork Belly with Citrus Caramel Dressing.


Momofuku Style Pork Steam Buns


Ingredients

1 package of pre mix Banh Bao flour mixture*

1.5 kg Pork Belly, poached in masterstock, sliced into 5cm pieces

1/2 jar hoisin sauce

1 spring onion, finely julienned or sliced

Cucumber Pickle

2 lebanese cucumbers, thickly sliced

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 tablespoon salt


Method

  1. To pickle cucumbers, add the salt, sugar and cucumbers to a container or jar, shake to cover and place in the fridge for at least an hour. Its amazing, as the salt and sugar draw all the moisture from the cucumbers and the jar fills up with a beautiful sweet/salty liquid. They will last 1 month in the fridge.
  2. Start the pork buns per packet instructions. I decided to shape mine like envelopes (momofuku style) I have made them the traditional way before and I found this way alot easier “always like easier”. It makes about 12-16 buns. Divide your dough up, roll into circles about 1/2 cm thick, place onto a piece of baking paper, spray the bun and using a chopstick, fold the bun over the chopstick and then remove. First time I did these they stuck together, so the oil should prevent this from happening. Place buns into  a large steamer, be sure not to place them too closely together as they will expand . Buns should take about 10 minutes. Cover the cooked buns with a tea towel and continue with the rest.
  3. Heat enough oil in a large frypan or wok to shallow fry the pork belly, will take about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towel.
  4. To assemble, brush the buns with hoisin, layer with  the pork belly, pickled cucumber and  garnish with spring onion.