About a year ago, my sister made the astonishing decision to become a vegetarian. I remember when she first broke the news, I immediately thought tofu + steamed vegetables = boring, and wondered how quickly she’d get over it. But ever since then, she has admirably committed to life sans meat. Though she still eats seafood and the occasional bit of chicken, she’s maintained an inspiring vegetarian lifestyle with such ingenuity that has shut me up and taught me a thing or two about vegetarian cooking (follow her on Instagram).
Cheesy frittata, stuffed with spokes of asparagus, earthy mushrooms, and sweet onion
Now I’ve gotten used the idea, I’ve started cooking vegetarian whenever my sister comes over. My repertoire is hardly as inventive as hers, but one of my favourites has got to be this delicious oven-baked frittata (eggs!) filled with some of my favourite veggies (mushrooms! asparagus!), smothered in gruyere and parmesan cheeses (yes please!!). No wonder it tastes so good… =)
Gruyere and Vegetable Frittata
Gruyere and Vegetable Frittata
With asparagus, mushroom and caramelised onion
Golden mushrooms, asparagus and caramelised onion, ready for the cheese and egg
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 50g Butter
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed of woody ends
- 150g button mushrooms
- 12 large eggs
- 200g grated Gruyere cheese
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp salt
- White pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a non-stick baking tray (about 27cm x 15cm or thereabouts) and line the base with baking paper. Lay the asparagus stalks across the bottom, spacing them fairly evenly.
- In frypan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt, reduce heat to medium low and cook until onions stirring frequently until they have softened and caramelised (should take about 10-15 minutes). If you find the onion catching on the bottom of the pan, add 2 tablespoons of water and stir vigorously. It will sizzle quite spectacularly, but effectively prevents the onions from burning. Spoon the caramelised onions evenly over the asparagus.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the same pan. Over medium heat, add the butter and melt until it bubbles, then add the sliced mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Stirring frequently, fry the mushroom until browned (about 10 minutes). Spoon the mushrooms over the prepared onions and asparagus.
- Sprinkle two-thirds of the Gruyere cheese over the prepared vegetables (yes, it’s a lot of cheese)
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper (to taste), until frothy. Gently pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cheese then tap the baking tray lightly, to pop any air bubbles.
- Sprinkle over the remaining gruyere and parmesan cheese, then bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes until the egg has puffed up and has set, and cheese is golden.
- Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Run a dull knife around the edges to loosen the frittata from the tray. Slice into squares and transfer to a serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature with some warm, crusty bread.
Forgotten Pudding is a wonderfully unusual dessert. For a start, it’s not quite the traditional pudding of the sticky date variety that you’re used to. Rather, the star and foundation is a meringue layer that’s been slow-cooked, resulting in a marshmallow-y texture that’s still moist and creamy. Topped with whipped cream, vibrant berries and smears of tart passionfruit, it’s a wonderful summer dessert that pays homage to the classic Pavlova, but without the fear of failure (slow-cooking surely guarantees success!).
Forgtten pudding in all its glory!
Like the name suggests, part of the cooking process includes conveniently “forgetting” about the meringue in the oven to allow it to cook overnight. There’s no prodding or inserting of skewers to check if it’s done. You literally leave it to cook while you catch up on the more exciting things in life like sleep or the next episode of My Kitchen Rules (please don’t judge me).
The forgotten pudding is perfect for casual lunches, where people can help themselves to decorated squares.
Based on Nigella Lawson’s recipe
- butter (for greasing)
- 6 egg whites
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 125g caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 300 ml thickened cream
- 2 teaspoons caster sugar (extra)
- 4 Passionfruit
- 175 g blueberries
- 250 g strawberries
- Preheat the oven to 220°C. Butter a swiss roll tin and line with grease proof paper (allow the paper to hang generously, as it will help you transfer the pudding to a cutting board when it’s time to serve). Butter the paper for good measure to ensure the pudding unmoulds relatively easily.
- In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites with salt on medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking for a minute or two after each addition. Add the cream of tartar and vanilla, and continue whisking for 8-10 minutes until the whites are stiff and glossy and sugar has dissolved (check by rubbing a small amount of meringue between your fingertips – you shouldn’t be able to feel any sugar granules).
- Tip the meringue into the buttered tin and spread the meringue mixture to the edges, at an even thickness.
- Put in the oven, close the door, and bake for 15 minutes. Immediately switch off the oven and leave overnight (or 8 hours), without opening the door (don’t even think about peeking).
- Once the waiting time is up, lift the entire meringue by the edges of the baking paper insert and loosen the meringue base from the baking paper. It will be a bit sticky, but the paper should come off easily thanks to the generous greasing. Return the paper and meringue to the pan. Whisk the double cream until thick but still soft and spread over the base. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
- Remove the cream-covered pudding from the fridge.
- Thickly slice the strawberries and toss with the 2 teaspoons of caster sugar and allow them to sit for 5 minutes to release their juices.
- Scoop out the seeds and pulp of two of the passionfruit and gently swirl them over the cream. Scatter the blueberries and sliced strawberries over the passionfruit cream, drizzling any strawberry juice over the top. Scoop out the seeds and pulp of the remaining two passionfruit over the top of the berries.
- Carefully transfer the meringue to a large chopping board (again, lift by using the edges of the baking paper). Using a sharp knife, slice the pudding into 12 squares (3 x 4 sections) and arrange on a serving platter. Enjoy!
Making risotto can seem a little intimidating. With the constant stirring, the gradual addition of piping hot stock and knowing when it’s hit that al dente spot – just one slight glitch and all your wonderfully orchestrated efforts could easily lead to disaster.
Creamy Chicken Risotto
However, I find it’s in this methodical approach that makes it one of the most rewarding meals you could whip up for dinner. Who knew a bit of rice could be so fancy, and not to mention utterly delicious. As long as you prepare all your ingreients in advance, you’ve got the stock gently simmering and you’re happy to rhythmically give the rice a stir; it’s dare I say it, quite easy.
Happy Chinese New Year! Over the weekend, I had the privilege of hosting a small dinner with family and friends, giving me a great excuse to whip up something Chinese.
Though I have significant Chinese heritage, I’m not very experienced in traditional Asian cooking techniques. Don’t get me wrong: I love eating Chinese… for me it’s right up there with sleep-ins, massages and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. But I must admit I’ve always found cooking Chinese cuisine a little intimidating. Yes, that’s right… (an Australian bred) Chinese-Filipino woman scared of Chinese cooking.
Jam and Cream Lamington Sandwiches
Happy Australia Day! Whether you’re appreciating the great outdoors or just doing nothing at all, I hope your Australia Day is bonza.
To help you and your mates get into the Aussie spirit, try making these irresistible lamingtons. My husband absolutely adores these little butter cake bricks that have been soaked in dark chocolate, rolled in coconut flakes, and slathered with generous lashings of jam and cream.
Vanilla cake, covered in dark chocolate ganache, filled with fluffy whipped cream and raspberry pomegranate jam
I’ve used a vanilla butter cake as the basis of this lamington recipe. This denser and more textured variation provides stronger structural integrity that won’t easily crumble when dipped in the rich chocolate ganache.
Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed a joyful and safe holiday period. It’s been way too long since my last post, but the final quarter of 2012 was incredibly busy for us. We received some wonderful news (more on that later), moved house twice, and are now finally able to catch our breath as we find ourselves at the start of 2013!
If your holiday has been anything like mine, you would have experienced the entire month of December in a perpetual food-induced coma. With weekends and most work days filled with one celebratory function after the next, there’s been no shortage of gloriously decadent food. It’s only once the smoke from new years’ eve fireworks had cleared that I realised how tight my clothes were fitting! So naturally I began to crave for more nutritious and wholesome fare.
What better way to start 2013 than with a wholesome breakfast of good old baked beans on toast. Sure you can just crack open a can of beans, but like most things, its much healthier when it’s homemade, not to mention much yummier!
I admit the name “baked” beans is slightly misleading as no baking is involved. Instead, dried beans are soaked overnight, which isn’t terribly tricky, but does take some forward planning. Then you just chuck it in a pot with a some smoked ham (or that left-over Christmas ham) and leave to simmer. The final addition of flavour and spices gives it a delicious kick you won’t find in any can.
Lorne is a picture-perfect coastal town along the famous Great Ocean Road, just two hours from Melbourne. Serving as the halfway mark of our scenic drive to Port Campbell, my husband and I enjoyed a stopover at Lorne’s Bottle of Milk – a beach cafe icon, famous for phenomenal burgers and blissfully tasty chips.
A perfect day for the perfect chips
By doing the simple things exceptioinally well, the Bottle of Milk is on to a winner. Though they may only do burgers, chips and coffee, they’ve got all three down pat. Their burger menu is extensive – beef, chicken, pork, vegetarian and mini versions to keep the kiddies happy. Their chips come with an array of yummy home-made sauces. And last but not least, their coffee by Seven Seeds is exceptionally good, goes down strong and smooth and is a great complement to their milk bar style fare.
Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, Geelong was the first stop on our adventure to the Twelve Apostles. At the time, the only thing I knew about Geelong was that it had an AFL team. However, as we pulled into Pakington Street for some groceries and a quick bite to eat, we were about to discover a whole lot more than we anticipated about this thriving port city.
Welcome to Geelong!
We cruised into the mainstreet in our rental car on a sunny Saturday morning, to find it bustling with people doing their shopping, catching up over lazy brunch, or simply just kicking back and taking it easy. As busy at it was, we found the pace to be nowhere near as frantic as the Sydney suburban hubs we’re used to. In fact, everywhere we ventured, we noticed a distinctively relaxed vibe about the whole place. So much so that we suspected all these people were really tourists on holiday, just like we were. But on closer inspection we found the vast majority to be local Geelongites just going about their weekend, as per usual, with a laid-back and carefree attitude that was positively refreshing. I could really get use to this!
My husband and I recently visited Melbourne to celebrate my 2?th birthday. Though we had both been there before, our previous visits were either too short or work related, so we were excited to spend a week exploring one of Australia’s most famous cultural hubs.
Road Trip! On the way to the Twelve Apostles, via the Great Ocean Road, Victoria
We began our holiday with a trip along the famous Great Ocean Road to Port Campbell, a scenic four hour drive south-west of Melbourne. The drive itself provided a great start to our break – we both had just endured one the busiest periods at work so it was wonderful to simply sit and chat in the car for a few hours.
As the name suggests, dude food is mainly eaten by, well… blokes. Though I can’t speak for all men, I experience the male appetite by cooking for my dear husband. Thankfully he’s not fussy, but like most of the men I know, he’s partial to anything meaty, spicy or hearty that can be eaten by the handful (utensils not required).