Warning: Content may make you feel hungry.

- Borscht
- Dhal
- Chocolate Truffles
- Zucchini Slice
- Cantonese Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry
- Quesadilla
- Boeuf Borguignon
- Pimms Cup
- Swordfish Tagine
- Pad Thai
- Roast Chicken
- Tamagoyaki
- Mapodofu
- Tabouleh
- Spaghetti Meatballs
- Omu-rice
- Rice

19 January 2013


6 medium-sized beetroots
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
8 cups of water

3 old medium sized potatoes

3 small brown onions, cut into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon of frying oil
1 teaspoon of smoked sweet paprika

2 lemon's juice
1 tablespoon of sugar
Stock or bullion

1. Wash and trim the beetroots. Place the whole beetroots in a large pot and cover with the water. Add the bay leaves and salt and boil for about 40-60 minutes, or until the beetroots are soft enough to eat and yield to the edge of a spoon when poked.
2. When the beetroots are almost cooked, cut up the onions so they are ready for the next step.
3. Place a big bowl in the sink with a colander in it. Strain the beetroots into the bowl and retain the water.
4. Wash the potatoes and peel if desired. (Personally I can never be arsed peeling potatoes and I don't think the result suffers). Cut the potatoes into cubes and place them in a medium sized pot. Cover the potatoes with water, add a couple of big pinches of salt, and boil them for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.
5. Return the large pot to the stove, add the frying oil and onions, and cook until the onions are translucent. Add paprika and stir to coat. Add the beetroot water to the pot and bring it to heat (but don't simmer it).
6. While the onions and potatoes are cooking, rinse your beetroots under cold water, or place ice cubes amonst them to make then cool enough to handle. Rub the skins off using your thumbs and discard the skins in the compost. Cut the beetroots into cubes. Return the cubed beetroot to the pot with the beetroot water. Add the lemon juice and sugar. Taste and season accordingly - personally I like to chuck a fake beef stock cube in there to darken up the flavour, make it a little more savoury and salty.
7. Strain the boiled potatoes. To serve, select a bowl suitable for soup, spoon the beetroot mixture in first. Place the boiled potatoes on top of the beetroot soup (it looks impressive for colour contrast) and put a liberal helping of dill over the top for aroma, flavour and garnishing purposes. I sometimes put a little curl of lemon zest here and there on it too.

* Although it's not compulsory, I think that this recipe hinges on the dill. If you don't have dill, I'd probably make something else instead.
* If you wish to make it ahead of time, make the beetroot soup, but don't do the potatoes until you intend to serve the soup.
*If you're not a vegan, sour cream is the best on this soup. Yummy yummy...
*When seasoning the soup, be aware that salt and pepper granules will accumulate on the bottom, giving you a weird sandy sensation when you touch the bottom with the spoon. If you can't deal with it, go easy on the grinder.
*I've always thought that picked green pepper corns would be pretty good in this dish, but I've never had an opportunity to try them.


This recipe is one of the first recipes I learned to make. It's originally from my Mum's Woman's Weekly cookbook, but I've adapted it a bit over the years. OK, it might not be the most authentic recipe ever, but it works, it's tasty, and the lentils just collapse in your mouth. Very easy to veganate. It's not super spicy (hello, Woman's Weekly), so if you want to make it a bit more zingy, spicy, whaevery, get in there and change it. Also, if you wanted to add other vegetables to it, I'm sure you could get away with carrot, pumpkins, beans, that kind of malarky - but I kind of like it just plain, myself.

2 1/2 cups (500g) of brown lentils
30g butter or oil
2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
2 small fresh red chilis, finely chopped
1/2 inch of grated ginger
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of garam masala
1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom (or 6 green cardamom pods)
1/2 a star ainise
2 small cloves of garlic, finely chopped
6 cups (1 1/2 litres) of stock
1 teaspoon of ground tumeric

1. Place the lentils in a large bowl. Cover them with water and stand them overnight.
2. Drain the soaked lentils. Chop your onions and chilis, grate your ginger. Melt the butter in a very large saucepan, add the onions and cook until the onions are soft and translucent.
3. Add the chilis, ginger, coriander, cumin, garam masala, caramom and anise. Stir to coat the onions. Mince the garlic, and add to the pot. Stir once or twice. Do not let the garlic brown.
4. Stir in the lentils, and coat them in the spices. Add the stock and tumeric. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and then simmer for at least 50 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the mixture is thick to stir.
5. Serve with papadams, rice and a pickle of some description. If you feel possessed by the garnish demon, red chili slices, fresh coriander leaves or a blob of yoghurt are all very nice.

*Dhal can be made a day ahead. It keeps best in an airtight environment in the refrigerator.
*Dhal freezes well, and makes a good lazy night dinner. Try to freeze it in smaller portions so it doesn't take forever to defrost.
*See that up there? That's a green chili. Just deal with it, guys.

18 November 2012

Chocolate Truffles

So, I'm not doing a very good job of being a consistent blogger, eh? So feck it, I'm going to settle for being an occasional blogger. Quality over quantity. Yeh.

Anyway, we've moved up to Pascoe Vale (Melbourne for those of you who aren't in the know), a house with just the two of us, and we've been cooking like demons. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy cooking - from sharehousing (and the associated kitchen carnage) and being in Japan (with the world's tiniest kitchen) - I'm now getting back into the swing of things. 

A couple of things I should mention is that I've gone vegan. Just for the minute. I really needed to shift some weight, and the easiest thing I have found for that is to just go vegan. No willpower required. Anything that isn't made of plants is no longer considered food. You don't need to invent food intolerances or put people's nose out of joint by telling them that you don't want to partake in the shit that they're stuffing in their cakehole. 

"Nah, sorry, I'm vegan."

Discussion over.
I will probably relent and eat whatever's put in front of me at Christmas time (simply because I value my life too much to tell my mother what to do in the kitchen) but I've already found that the veganism is working to shake off that annoying bit of flab - I'm down to 63kg and I reckon I could probably lose another two or three, and be fighting weight for the Thrall recording in January. And I might eat a steak for the occasion for that little bit of extra iron zing come recording day.

Anyway, today's recipe is vegan. Chocolate truffles. Here's the kicker - not all dark chocolate is free of milk solids, so you have to READ the ingredients. Coles cheapo brand is vegan, but it's way too sweet for my taste. Lindt 70% and 85% are vegan, but too expensive. The best option I've found is the Whittaker's Dark, which is tasty and not too pricey.

375g dark chocolate
3/4 cup of coconut CREAM (not milk)
A few drops of vanilla essence
Maple syrup (to taste)
1 cup of desiccated coconut
Extra desiccated coconut for dusting the outside


1. Melt chocolate over a very, very low heat. Use a double boiler if you're that way inclined. 
2. When the chocolate is completely melted, get the coconut cream out of the cupboard. Do not shake! Open the can of coconut cream and take only the solid coconut mass from the top of the can. Add to the chocolate slowly, stirring constantly over the low heat until completely combined.
3. Add vanilla essence and maple syrup to taste. Take it off the heat and transfer it to a bowl. Add the desiccated coconut and stir it through. Place in the fridge overnight.
4. Break up the chocolate mixture with a fork to aerate it. It will look like nice, peaty dirt. 
5. Get a piece of baking paper and sprinkle the nice chocolate dirt looking stuff in a line. Then fold over the baking paper, and roll it into a log. Now it looks like a chocolate poo. Sprinkle the chocolate poo in coconut, and then cut it into two-inch long servings. Dip the ends in coconut. Now it's ready to serve.

*Keeps well in the fridge.
*You can do jaffa flavour if you use orange essence.
*I also made nutty ones with almond meal and almond essence. Just switch out the coconut with the almond meal.
*If you bugger up and make them too sweet, you can add a bit of cocoa to cut the sweetness.

*If you bugger up and make them too wet, you can put in more coconut, almond meal or whatever dry ingredient you're using for the binding to lighten them up. Cocoa can also be used to correct a mixture that is overly wet. Taste often and use your judgement.

01 December 2010

Zucchini Slice

Zucchini slice is one of those things everyone makes at some point in time, and if you learn a good recipe, you'll keep going back. And if you get a bad recipe, you'll never make it again because bad zucchini slice is boring as batshit, and good zucchini slice is hot shit. It's fast, easy to make, impressive, and an excellent lunch box stuffer. I originally got this recipe from Matt Young, and then hybridised it with a recipe from Stephanie Alexander. Both the original recipes are pretty heavy on the oil, but my version is completely oil bereft (though I give you the option of adding some if you so desire at one point). You can use a mandolin if you have one for slicing the onions and zucchini, but I don't have one, so I just use an ordinary grater on a course grade. This slice can be easily vegetarianised, but I don't think I could no-egg it, so vegans, read on for something else...

Some grated cheese - aged cheddar of parmesan are optimal
Three thickly sliced big delicious tomatoes
500-600g zucchini (about four little ones or three medium sized ones)
Two rashers of bacon
One large brown onion
Two garlic cloves, cut into small pieces
A hand-full of fresh baby spinach leaves
A teaspoon of oregano
Some fresh basil leaves
Lashings of freshly ground black pepper
3 large free range eggs (if you use cage eggs,
you'll be consigned to the seventh level of Danté's inferno - the phlegethon, to be exact, for your violent wickedness)
150g of self-raising flour

1. Turn on the oven to 180ºc. Grate the cheese into a small bowl. Find a nice medium sized baking tray. Line it with baking paper. Use about three quarters of the tomato slices to line the bottom of the pan, reserving the most attractive and complete slices of the tomatoes for later in the recipe. Leave evenly spaced gaps between them. Set the cheese and baking tray aside.
2. Wash your zucchinis and then grate them into a large cake basin. Bigger the better. Slice the bacon and add to the zucchini. Slice your onion into slender segments and add to the bowl. Oregano, baby spinach leaves, basil leaves and pepper - bung 'em all in.
3. Crack the eggs into a little glass or cup to check for freshness. Add one by one to the zucchini basin. Mix all ingredients thoroughly, coating your vegetables in the eggy goo. If there is not enough eggy goo to cover all the ingredients in a fine film of eggyness, you may wish to add another egg or a little olive oil to help coat the ingredients.
4. Add the self-raising flour. Combine quickly and thoroughly, and then tip the zucchini mixture into the prepared baking tray. Decorate the top of the slice with the remaining tomato slices. Sprinkle cheese over the top and pop in the oven for 30 minutes. When the 30 minutes are up, cool in the tray for a few minutes before lifting on to a board and cutting into large squares. Serve hot or cold.

* Vegetarians: Omit bacon and cheese, if you like.
*Other successful ingredients in this slice have been broccoli, carrot slices, cooked spuds, salami slices, mushrooms, kalamata olives and semi-dried tomatoes.
*If you up the vegetable content, add more eggs and flour. I've made big ones with up to five eggs and a cup of self-raising.
*If the pan is wide and flat, it will crisp up more. You can cook bigger ones for a good while longer. The browned bits on top and on the bottom are supremely yummy.
*I thought decorating it with nice basil leaves on top would look nice. Wrong! The basil leaves just incinerated themselves. However, salami slices up the yummy factor and work well on the top of the slice too.

17 January 2010

Just for Hiroshi

Recipe blog: updated.

Avocado on toast.

1 ripe avocado.
2 slices of bread.
Chipotle tabasco.

1. Slice avocado in half from length-wise with a sharp kitchen knife. Drive the heel of the knife into the seed, and use a sideways, jar-opening action to loosen the seed. Discard the seed. Score the flesh with your knife to make little tiny diamonds.
2. Place bread into toasting device of your choice. Toast under a high heat until browned, but not blackened.
3. Remove toasted bread from toasting device, and spread the avocado over the surface. Sprinkle with tabasco sauce. Eat immediately, with big bites for maximum enjoyment.

14 August 2009

Cantonese Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry

Another vegetarian dish? Have I gone off the meat? Well, maybe, but only because of too much all-you-can-eat barbecue, table cooking nonsense (Yakiniku" Korean barbecue, and "Jingis Khan," Mongolian barbecue are very big over here).
So, to mix it up a bit I cook vegetarian quite a bit at the moment.

Anyway, "Cantonese," I hear you think, "the bland glue sauce cuisine?" Yup, love that stuff. It takes me back to simple meals of Cashew Chicken, or Sweet and Sour Pork balls, Black Bean Beef, or Honey Chicken at the Chinese Restaurant in Huonville that was in the service station (which was later the subject of an arson attack that I went to school with the perpetrators). If you don't go too fry crazy or batter mad, this style of food isn't too bad for you, but fried food is all a little carcinogenic due to the high cooking temperatures , so don't eat it too often. Mix up your cooking styles - steamed, baked, raw, stewed, or in a soup, a little bit of everything is best. And please, don't forget to wash your vegetables for stir fries, nothing tastes worse than gritty bok choy.


2 thin leeks, chopped into 3 cm lengths, up to but not including the green bits at the top
2 sticks of celery, angle chopped into 0.5-1cm slices
1 medium carrot, peeled and angle chopped into 0.5-1cm slices
1 golf ball sized lump of fresh ginger, julienned into matchstick sized pieces

Clouds ear or maitake mushrooms, sliced
Deep fried tofu squares, either made yourself or supermarket bought (for instructions on how to deep fry tofu, please refer to my Pad Thai recipe)

8 or so baby corn spears, cut in half
Half a yellow capsicum, julienned
8 or so whole green Japanese shishito peppers with the stems cut off
3 baby bok choy, the base cut off and the leaves separated

Oil for frying (blended vegetable, canola, peanut oil, but not olive oil)

1 heaped tablespoon of potato starch or corn flour
1 teaspoon of ground white pepper
1/4 of a teaspoon of ground ginger
10g sachet of dashi no moto powder
1/2 cup of hot water
1 tablespoon of sherry or Chinese rice wine

1. Put your rice on to cook.

2. Prepare vegetables, by cutting them as specified above. Put the slower cooking vegetables listed at the start of the ingredients together in one bowl and the faster cooking vegetables listed together at the end in another bowl.

3. Put starch, pepper, ginger and dashi in a bowl and combine them well. Heat your water (ie: boil kettle). Do not combine the water and dry ingredients yet.

4. When your rice is finished cooking, put the oil in a pan or wok and heat it until glistening. You don't want it full on, but you want it pretty damn hot. Watch the oil... if it's smoking, you'd be better off turning the heat down a little. Add the first bowl of slower cooking vegetables to the pan, and toss them about, coating them in the oil for about a minute.

5. Add the mushrooms and cook for about a minute, add the tofu and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir constantly.

6. Add the water and sherry to the starch and seasonings mix, and blend thoroughly. Add the fast cooking vegetables and the sauce simultaneously. Stir, coating the vegetables in the sauce.

7. Whilst your last vegetables are cooking, serve your rice in small bowls. Once your bok choy has wilted, slide your vegetable stir fry into a serving dish, and serve immediately, with soy sauce or oyster sauce to taste.

And hopefully, if you're lucky like me, your husband might say "this is delicious, it's just what I was craving."

- If you have no access to fancy mushrooms or Japanese vegetables, please substitute normal button mushrooms and half a green capsicum, julienned

28 July 2009


First post in a very long time. Did I mention that my Tom and I got married recently? Or that we are in Japan teaching English (again!) You might like to have a read of my other blog if you'd like to hear more about that kind of stuff.

The only way to propagate good habits is to do good things regularly. So, here we are! At the start of a new post for Em's Recipes. And a vegetarian one at that!

Mexican food is great. You should eat more of it.

Of course, most food that is served outside of Mexico isn't really faithful to it's Mexican ancestors. It's more the Tex-Mex variety that has become our global juggernaut. If you'd like to know how to discern Tex-Mex from Mex, it's quite simple. Cheese is terribly uncommon in Mexico. If it's full of cheese, it's Tex-Mex.

In The US, Mexican food's dirt cheap and readily available from numerous Mexican eateries. Not so in Australia! Even though it is still made with cheap cuts of meat, beans, rice, spices and flour, Mexican restaurants in Australia are usually terribly expensive - and for no good reason, usually, (unless you go to Blue Corn in St Kilda, which is a delightful eatery that I recommend heartily, that does tend to use more deluxe ingredients in its version of Mexican.)

A lot of Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes are just permutations on the idea of sloppy sandwiches, chips and sloppy dips, and slop on rice. As my lovely American friends Glenn and Krista have reminded me on occasion - "it's Mexican food, it's not meant to be pretty!"

Just briefly, for those of you not well acquainted with Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes:

Tortillas - Mexican flat breads made from either corn or wheat flour. A very simple, unleavened bread - ostensibly flour and water - pressed into flat round shapes, and then cooked on a flat hot-plate until not sloppy. Used to hold slop.

Salsa - a red tomato sauce made with onion and spices. Sometimes salsas are made with fruit or other ingredients. Tomatoes are not essential.

Salsa verde - a green sauce, often made with green tomatoes or tomatillos.

Burritos - Large flour tortillas wrapped around beans, salsa, and/or whatnot.

Yukatan Burritos - Large flour tortillas, rolled up into a cigar shape with beans, salsa and/or whatnot on the inside, then lined up next to each other, smothered in salsa, grated cheese over the top, stuck in an oven and baked.

Enchiladas - Corn tortillas rolled into a cigar shape with salsa, beans and/or whatnot on the inside, then lined up next to each other, topped with salsa and cheese.

Enfrijoladas - Corn tortillas, folded in half, sandwiching some beans, salsa, and/or whatnot, that are then fried until crunchy on the outside.

Chimichanga - Burritos, folded in a square shape around some meat and then deep fried - the meat is usually stewed until it is very tender and flaky before being used in a Chimichanga. Originally from New Mexico, as I understand.

Chilaquiles - Corn tortilla pieces marinated in chile, layered with a filling, sauce and cheese, and baked in a casserole - kind of like Mexican lasagna!

Tostadas - Tortillas, fried flat, topped with beans, salsa, and/or whatnot. Cut up and made into corn chips in Tex-Mex to make Nachos.

Tacos - Corn tortillas, baked in a "C" shape, used to make a big mess when you're a kid.

Soft tacos - Soft tortillas, rolled up around some kind of beans, salsa and/or whatnot.

Quesadilla - Two tortillas, lying flat to make a sandwich. Usually the sandwich has cheese in it, though you might like to put beans, salsa and/or whatnot in it. It is then fried or grilled to melt the cheese. A Mexican cheese toasty!

However you wish to procure your corn or flour tortilla for this recipe is up to you - frozen, fresh, or home-made - but tortillas will be required. Of course, frozen is the least desirable option, and home-made is the best, but really, don't chose not to make this recipe because you don't have time to make your own tortillas. It's yummy no matter what!


12 flour tortillas
Refried beans
Grated Cheese
Fresh lime
Fresh coriander leaves
Chili sauce


1. Grab yourself a tortilla and a butter knife. Use the butter knife to spread some of your refried beans on to the surface, leaving a little bit around the edge so it doesn't get to messy when you heat it in the pan. Sprinkle on some of your grated cheese. Tasty will do, though if your fancy, you might like to try something else, like gouda, or philadelphia, or whatever. Pop another tortilla on top and press down a little. Repeat these steps until you've made yourself 6 delicious little sandwiches.

2. Heat a heavy fry pan, cast iron if available, to a low, melting, not burning heat. Add a tiny, little, bit of oil to the pan to prevent sticking. Pop one of your tortilla sandwich type things in the pan, and pop a lid over it. When the first side is browned nicely, flip it over. I find it takes about 1-2 minutes a side.

3. Cut into four equal segments, pie chart style. Serve with coriander leaves sprinkled over the top, and a lime wedge to squeeze over it and some chili sauce to add to taste. Serve immediately whilst the cheese is still lovely and melty.

*You don't necessarily have to use refried beans. You can use whatnot... for instance, tonight I made spinach and cheese quesadillas. Whatever you think might work...