His Birthday Weekend – 2017

January 2017. It was a busy and interesting start to the year. After eating and drinking throughout the festive period, we headed to Adelaide to celebrate our father (my father-in-law)’s 70th birthday. We came back and moved to a new apartment and then we headed to Sydney separately. It was for business for my husband, and for me it was a kind of business/leisure/experimentation. Time flew and we realised that the weekend was truly the last weekend of this month.

I have enjoyed this crazy month, but the worst thing was that he had to have the business trip on his birthday. Yes I normally do a “Birthday Week” for me, but I thought it is fair to apply this concept to my poor husband this year.

Thursday: I baked his birthday cake.

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I tried to bake this one….

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/chocolate-mousse-cake/d12b92e5-d1ef-4fd7-8d62-1e4462047424?r=recipes/top10chocolatecakerecipes&c=1080a64b-a5e8-4567-a50c-265eeb0d4439/Top%2010%20chocolate%20cake%20recipes

Well, we just moved here and I haven’t made friends with the oven yet. It was cooked too long and the centre was not particularly “mousse”…. A recovery was made by the Coffee Mascarpone frosting. I added a magic ingredient – BRANDY!

We went shopping and bought a few things which he wanted. You know what? I did not buy anything for myself. All were for him! Then, we went to the Australia Day Function at Fraser’s but it was unfortunately cancelled. It was quite surreal to see that kind of thing in real time.

Friday: we unfortunately had to go to work, but a good thing was that it was already the weekend. His birthday cake was well received at his work (thanks to the magic ingredient), which was good to hear. For dinner, I cooked Crispy Salmon. Of course, we opened a bottle of red. We just enjoyed a relaxing dinner together which we had not had for a while.

Saturday: Today I was his responsible chauffeur. The destination was Swan Valley. The first stop was Riverbank Winery for his birthday lunch. It was a hot day so we decided to order a bottle of bubble called “White Diamond”. It was pretty nice and we bought 3 bottles. We visited a few wineries after that, and at Houghton (where he found his “Today’s Favourite”), the waiter recommended “Mann Winery” for sparkling wine. This winery only sells 1 think – sparkling, and opens only for 6 months from August. There was no doubt why we had never been there before. When we arrived there, the door was closed so we rang the bell as per the instructions on the entrance door. Mr Mann came out and let us in. the cellar door was a lovely small wooden hut and smelt like a mixture of wine and timber. I loved the smell!. It was not fancy or anything but we loved the authenticity. He told us about his family story: how this place and his wine were established. The sparkling itself was tasty. The colour is slightly pink. We purchased 6 bottles.

Sunday: Well…, the day did not go as well as we planned (e.g. unsuccessful breakfast at Leederville, traffic to the grocery shopping etc.), but we still had a relaxing day. Furthermore, for me, it was just nice to have a normal Sunday after our unusual days.

I hope he enjoyed his birthday weekend as much as I did.

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Happy New Year – 2017

Happy New Year. Wising everyone peace, health and a lot of joy throughout the year.

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Again I prepared Osechi. It takes time but it is very rewarding. Most of all, it is delicious…. I love Japanese traditional food.

Menu:

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Kohaku Namasu (pickled daikon and carrot)

Ebino Umani (prawns cooked in soy sauce, sake and mirin)

Gomame/Tazukuri (dried sardines caramelised with sugar and soy sauce)

Nishime (simmered vegetables)

Kurikinton (chestnuts and sweet potatoes paste)

Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette)

 

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Koya-dofu (simmered dried tofu)

Simmered Shiitake

Konbu Maki (rolled kelp)

Kuromame (Simmered black beans)

Ozoni (soup with mochi/rice cake)

Grilled Miso Marinaded Salmon

Although Osechi is traditionally meant to be eaten for 3 days from the new year’s day, it did not work like that for us. Most of them are gone now…. They were just so tasty and we (mostly I) kept nibbled them with a glass of white wine!

Well, after the festive season, my stomach certainly became bigger…. I reckon that it is time for me to restart my exercise habit….

How to enjoy Christmas

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Last year, I said that we enjoy Christmas, rather celebrate it. This year, I would like to write how we do that.

For me, enjoyment has to include good food, nice wine and wonderful company. I have already sorted my company out – my husband, the best company I could ever imagine.

So, for food and wine, this is what we got for Christmas. Please note that this is for 2 people.

List of Goodies:

5kg leg of ham

4 kg block of beef scotch fillet

3kg of frozen tiger prawns

A fillet of salmon with its head and flame

Some small goods (blue cheese, pecorino cheese, Italian prosciutto, hot Hungarian salami, chicken liver pate)

Some slices of smoky bacon

2 bottles of procecco

6 bottles of chardonnay – “ Floris” from Domain Naturalist, my current favourite

12 bottles of red – my husband’s choice

 

This is how we enjoyed:

The 23rd: Christmas lunch at work. Salmon Sashimi for a snack at home followed by my husband’s colleague’s house warming party. Her hummus was delicious!

Christmas Eve: Crispy grilled Salmon head and frame for lunch. After that, we went on a night movie picnic with our friends at UWA – PIAF movie (“Julieta” by Petro Almodovar) with Sushi Rolls (made by me) and some small goods with a bottle of procecco. I like Petro Almodovar movies, but we agreed that Julieta was not his best.

Christmas Day: We woke up and opened the Christmas presents. Smoky bacon and egg + salad for breakfast by my husband. After a walk at City Beach, a bottle of bubbles was opened with some cheese, pate and ham. I made Aji Salsa and Lupin Hummus for nibbling. We continued to drink and nibble. Dinner was my husband’s speciality – Roast Beef with gravy, with a side of salad. Desert was a slice of Christmas cake with vanilla ice cream. I baked the cake a month ago and had been feeding it with brandy and white chocolate port (Gralyn Estate, Margaret River). Look at this juicy cake! The cake recipe is from https://www.thehealthychef.com/2014/11/a-healthy-christmas-cake/

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Boxing Day: We woke up (still) full, but ate the left-over salad anyway. We went to swim at City Beach – it was still very rough but manageable. After a swim, a bottle of bubbles was opened with prawns. We continued to drink. Dinner was the left-over Roast Beef with gravy, with a side of salad followed by the Christmas cake with ice cream.

The 27th: I went to dance practice in the morning. Well done me! I came back and had some slices of hams and lupin hummus with a slice of bread. We went for walk to the city and had a glass of bubbles, while my “good” husband had a cup of coffee. While he was cooking for dinner, I watched “About Time” (by Richard Curtis) again with a couple glasses of “Floris”. I love this movie. Dinner was ham and tomato soup. It was delicious. According to my husband, we will go on a soup diet for the rest of the week. Good idea.

The left-over beef, salmon fillets and prawns are in the freezer, small goods are left in the fridge, and I have no doubt that they will be gone soon. The leg of ham would be the only actual “left-over”, but it can be used as a soup stock. Wines? Ha! It is not an issue.

Well…. I just realised that I wanted to write how I enjoy Christmas, but, this sounds like just a list of what we ate over Christmas…. I have to admit though, I had a wonderful time.

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas season. Now I have to work on Osechi for New Year.

Is Lupin a New Super Food? Lupin Hummus Recipe

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Since I came back from the Middle East last year, I have been really into Middle Eastern food. I have not cooked Middle Eastern food much at home, because chickpeas involves a long cooking process (soak overnight, cook long time, mush it etc… you know it!).

And then, one night in a café in Wembley, I was introduced to Lupin. The café is owned by a friend of ours and she showed it to us as her new product.

Lupin is a legume grain and is commonly used as livestock feed. Apparently, Western Australia produces a lot of Lupin. Due to its high nutritional value, it has been now introduced to us human beings.

Her café sells a 400g of Lupin flakes for $8 ish. She told me that it tastes like chickpeas, and can be used as its alternative. One big difference is how easy it is to deal with. It is already flaked so it involves none of the time consuming chickpea process.

So, this is my first Lupin recipe – Lupin Hummus. It is very easy and good if you need to bring things to a party.

Ingredients:

160ml Lupin Flakes

2 small cloves of Garlic –chopped

2.5 Tablespoons of Tahini

2 Tablespoons of White Vinegar

1.5 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice

2 pinches of Sea Salt

Olive Oil to drizzle

1 pinch of dried Oregano for garnish

Method:

  1. Put lupin flakes into a small saucepan filled with cold water (not included in the above ingredients)  and bring to boil. Simmer for a further 3 minutes. Drain and rinse the lupin a few times, and then drain off the water from the lupin very well. Place it into a bowl or a food processor if you have one.
  2. Add garlic, tahina, white vinegar, lemon juice and sea salt into the lupin. Mix together with a hand mixer (or a food processor) until it becomes smooth.
  3. Plate the Lupin Hummus. Drizzle olive oil over the hummus and garnish with oregano.

Salmon Misoni – Simmered Salmon in Miso Sauce

2016-11-26_09-40-54Misoni is a classic Japanese way to cook fish, simmering in miso sauce. In Japan, Mackerel (Saba in Japanese) is commonly used for Misoni. I use Salmon here because Mackerel in Australia is not as fatty as the Japanese one, and I believe that fatty fish matches this miso sauce more.

I use the tail side of Salmon in this recipe. This is just because the fillet can be soaked in the sauce completely while it is simmering and it looks more authentic (as we normally use a fillet of Mackerel – flatter!). But, as long as the fish is fresh, I think that the body side of Salmon would be nice as well.

The key for Misoni is a preparation for fish which is called “Shimofuri”. This is to clean fish and remove the fishy smell. When you do the preparation properly, the dish will not be fishy.

Ingredients – for 2 serves

2 fillets of Salmon – tail side

120ml Water

80ml Cooking Sake

1 Tablespoon of Mirin

1 Tablespoon of Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce

1cm cube of Ginger – cut into fine strips

1 Tablespoon of Miso

½ Spring Onion – finely chopped

 

Preparation – Shimofuri

  1. Boil a general quantity of water (not included in the above ingredients).
  2. Score a cross on the surface of salmon skin. Place the salmon fillets into a large bowl. Cover the salmon with aluminium foil.
  3. Pour boiled water in the bowl. The foil protects the salmon skin from the hot water (the skin is often torn by hot water)
  4. Remove the foil. Add cold water to the bowl to make the water temperature right, so that you can pick the salmon up by hand.
  5. If there is any blood on the salmon, clean it in the water.
  6. Once it is cleaned, remove the salmon from the bowl and dry it with paper towel gently. 

 

Method

  1. In a small saucepan, combine water, cooking sake, mirin, sugar, say sauce and ginger. Bring it to boil. Make sure that the sugar is dissolved completely.
  2. Place the prepared salmon fillets in the saucepan – skin side up.
  3. Once it is boiled again, reduce heat to medium – low. Remove scum if any.
  4. Add miso to it by dissolving it gently with some of the stewing liquid.
  5. Cover it with Otoshi-buta (a drop lid)*. Simmer for 5-8 minutes.
  6. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Leave it and let it cool down for about 20 minutes**.
  7. Remove the salmon fillets from the saucepan and plate them.
  8. Put the saucepan back to the heat.
  9. Bring the remaining sauce to boil. Reduce heat to medium once it is boiled. Keep cooking the sauce until it becomes thick and shiny. It will take about 3-5 minutes.
  10. Pour the sauce over the salmon. Garnish with spring onion. Serve while it is warm.

 

Note:

*Otoshi-buta / drop lid

Otoshi-buta is a lid which is smaller than the dimension of the saucepan. The lid floats on top of the liquid in a pan. Otoshi-buta helps heat to be distributed and flavour to be observed into each ingredient evenly. It also assists ingredients with holding in the position, so that they can keep their shapes. Otoshi-buta is commonly made by wood, but if you do not have one, you can substitute it with aluminium foil.

<How to make Otoshi-buta with aluminium foil>

Cut aluminium foil that covers a saucepan that you are using. Make a circle shape by tucking the edge, so that it can be fit inside of the saucepan. Make a cross incision in the middle that will work as a vent during simmering.

 

**This is for the flavour to penetrate into the salmon. In Japan, it is said that flavour penetrates to ingredients while they are cooling down.

Roasted Vegetable Salad – Balsamic and Soy Dressing

Imagine the richness of balsamic vinegar and the umami of soy sauce absorbed into hot sweet roasted vegetables with the freshness of raw vegetables in your month…. This salad tastes exactly like that!

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Ingredients:

For Roasted Vegetables

3 Potatoes – peeled and cut into 3cm chunks

1 Purple Skinned Sweet Potato – cut into 3cm chunks (keep the skin on)

3 Carrots – peeled and cut into 6cm long matchsticks

1 Red Capsicum – cut into strips

2 Flat Mushrooms – cut into 8 pieces

3 + 1 Tablespoons of Olive Oil to drizzle

2 of ½ Teaspoon of Rosemary Leaves

For Non-Roasted Vegetables

1 Tomato – finely chopped

1 Onion – thinly sliced

100g of Spinach Leaves

Dressing

1 clove of Garlic – finely chopped

6 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar

2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce

1 Lemon

3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

A pinch of Salt

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 ◦C.
  2. Place potato and sweet potato in a small pot and cover with cold water. Boil them for about 3 minutes or until the potatoes are just cooked (but still hard). Drain the potatoes.
  3. Place the potato, sweet potato and carrot into a large baking tray in single layer. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle ½ teaspoon of rosemary leaves over them. Roast them for 20 minutes.
  4. Place red capsicum and mushroom into a medium sized baking tray in single layer. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil and spring ½ teaspoon of rosemary leaves over them.
  5. After 20 minutes roasting (Method 3), turn the potatoes and carrot. Place the capsicum and mushroom tray into the oven and roast the vegetables on both trays for 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, make dressing. Mix all ingredients of the dressing. Put aside.
  7. Place tomato, onion and spinach leaves in a large bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the bowl and dress them with the dressing. Serve it while it is warm.

 

My Thai Salad

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A light and fresh salad with a little bit of kick! Thai flavor can be easily made from the ingredients available in your pantry.

Ingredients:

For Dressing

1 Red Chili – finely chopped (remove the seeds if you prefer the salad mild)

2 cloves of Garlic – finely chopped

1cm cube of Ginger – finely chopped

1 Coriander Root – finely chopped

1 lemon – juice

5 Tablespoons of Fish Sauce

4 Tablespoons of White Vinegar

2 Tablespoons of Sesame Oil

1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

For Salad

100g Rocket Leaves

2 Carrots – grated

80g of Bean Sprouts

½ Onion – sliced

2 Tomatoes – roughly chopped

½ Red Capsicum – roughly chopped

1 large brunch of Coriander – roughly chopped including the stem

Option

Very Moist Chicken or sliced Beef Steak

Method:

For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.

For the salad, place each ingredient beautifully in layers in a salad bowl. Drizzle the dressing just before serving. As an option of a decent sized meal, top with Very Moist Chicken or sliced beef steak.