Tag Archives: Winter

Nigel Slater’s Chicken Stew & Mash

This winter I’ve been cooking quite a few recipes from Nigel Slater’s “The Kitchen Diaries.”  His food, stories and presentation are warm and homely. This is just one of the recipes which I adapted a little and enjoyed very much.
After cooking for two hours, the chicken will just fall apart at the touch of your fork.  The juices are sweet and tangy from the balsamic vinegar and orange peel.

Chicken & Borlotti Bean Stew with Mash

-tinned borlotti or cannellini beans
-jointed chicken, or 2 chicken marylands
-4-5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
-4 cloves garlic (whole)
-1-2 teaspoons dried herbs (italian or herbes de Provence)
-the pared rind of an orange
-3 medium leeks, thickly sliced
-Olive Oil

-mash, to serve

Combine the chicken, half the balsamic vinegar, 4 tablespoons olive oil and garlic cloves in a large mixing bowl or dish.  Scatter over the herbs, the strips of pared orange peel and season with salt and pepper.  Cover, and let marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.
Preheat oven to 200c.  Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan (don’t use the oil from the marinade — the liquid will cause it to spit!)  Add the chicken pieces, shaking or patting away the marinade with a paper towel, and fry them until they are golden on each side.  Remove the chicken to a casserole that has a lid. (If you don’t have one, use a baking dish and cover it with aluminium foil.)  Add the beans into the pot with the chicken.
Fry the leaks over low heat in the same oil until soft.  Do not allow them to brown — leeks can become bitter when browned.  Add the garlic from the marinade, let it soften, then add the rest of the marinade (including the orange peel) to the leeks and garlic.  Add in the rest of the balsamic vinegar and about 1 litre of water.  Bring this all to a boil, season with salt and pour over the chicken in the casserole dish.  Cover the dish and put it in the oven for 2 hours.  Check half way through cooking that the chicken is still submerged, and adjust liquid level with water accordingly.  Check the seasoning, it may need more salt, more black pepper, or more balsamic vinegar.  Add these slowly to taste, careful not to over-season, but being conscious that the seasoning will enhance all of the flavours as they meld together.
Serve the stew with mashed potatoes, allowing the juices to form pools in the mash.

As a drink with this meal, I had picked up a few Rekorderlig ciders, which I had seen in Masterchef magazine months ago.  This one was a Winter Cider, with tastes of apple, cinnamon and vanilla. Beautiful.


Blueberry Sour Cream Pie

Warm and laced with cinnamon, honey and nutmeg, this pie is a delicious treat hailing from North America.

I’m not much of a baker.

Maybe it’s the technical aspects, or just getting covered in flour, but I prefer cooking savoury over sweet or baking.  But sometimes I see something too delicious to resist — and this pie which featured in the July 4 edition of Gourmet Live on my iPad caught my eye instantly.

Blueberries?  Sour cream??  Yes please.

The crust is much fussier than my mom’s recipe I’ve always made — but I decided to have a go at making this recipe, and can I say? — it paid off.  The resting time and glazing of the crust took it to a dimension my old pies had never been.  I was so wary of pre-cooking the crust as well (at least for as long as the recipe said).  25 minutes of pre-cooking??  That had ended in disaster for me before.  But again, it turned out glazed, golden and flaky.


For the pie crust:
1 1/8 cups flour
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 1/2 tbsp cold butter, cut into bits
Ice-cold water

For the pie crust glaze:
1 egg white & 2 tsp sugar whisked together into a light foam

For the custard filling:
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
Pinch of nutmeg
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups blueberries


For the pie crust:
Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl, then blend in the cold butter bits (or work with your fingers) until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.  Add 3 or so tablespoons of ice-cold water, or enough to make the mixture come (gently) together into a dough.  Do not overwork it.  Shape it into a ball, wrap it in cling wrap or baking paper, and let it rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Roll the pasty dough out into a large circle on a lightly floured surface. Lift the dough circle carefully over a rolling pin and lay it into a 9 inch pie tin, draping excess over the sides.  Let the dough rest (do not yet press it into the pie tin) for 10 minutes.  Now you can press it firmly into the tin, and trim excess, leaving about an inch of overhang around the pie.  Crimp the overhanging dough to form a decorative rim and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Line the shell with baking paper then fill the bottom with uncooked rice or beans (to weight it down).  Bake the shell in the lower third of your oven at a high heat (around 200c — check your oven) for 10 minutes.  Remove the beans/rice and paper and brush the whole pastry with the egg/sugar glaze.  Reduce the heat to around 180c and bake the shell for a further 15 minutes until it is golden.

For the blueberry sour cream custard:
Toss together the sugar, salt, spices and blueberries in a large bowl.  In a small bowl beat together the eggs, sour cream, sugar and honey.  Add the custard mixture into the blueberries and fold until combined.  Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake in a slightly cooler oven (160c or so) for 1 hour (or until the centre is set– though it will be jiggly.)  Give the pie time to set and cool a little, then serve warm.

Tokyo Ramen, Hornsby Westfield

Slurp!  Slurp!  It’s the sound of warm, slippery, salty noodles…

This week I commuted to Hornsby two days, which afforded me the opportunity to try out Tokyo Ramen at Westfield Shopping Centre.  I was so excited, and not disappointed at all – and ended up eating there for lunch both days of work.
Further – after coming home and telling my housemate, “The Malaysian”, about the noodley wonders of Tokyo Ramen we trekked out for a THIRD visit in one week for Saturday lunch.  Braving the onslaught of Christmas shoppers and angry drivers, these near-heart-attack-inducing bowls of slurpy and salty noodles are clearly in our hearts already.

Tokyo Ramen runs a nice business in a busy wing of the ground floor of Hornsby’s major shopping centre, always busy along with it’s sister sushi kiosk, Tokyo Sushi, directly outside.  On Saturday, it’s so busy that there is a small queue, and we are offered a seat at the bar of the sushi kiosk instead.

Having already tried Miso Butter Corn and Negimiso (bbq chilli pork) ramen earlier in the week, I decide on a classic bowl of Miso Chashu Men: egg noodles with slices of roasted pork, vegetables, nori and half a boiled egg in a thick miso broth.  It’s delicious and definitely the classic standard, but I still favour Miso Butter Corn, which is the same as Chashu Men with the addict- er, addition of sweet corn and lots of butter melting and oozing on top!  This dish is best in winter and is soooo salty it leaves your throat with a burning sensation.

Miso Chashu Men – $9.50

The Malaysian goes for Negimiso which is definitely fighting for first place in my favorite ramen dishes.  It’s a miso based soup with egg noodles, shallots and slices of roasted/bbq’d pork packed with garlicky-chilli flavour. The broth is laced with that smokey, spicy barbecue taste, and visible specks of charring swirl about.

Negimiso Ramen – $12.00

The bedfellow of ramen is of course Gyoza. I’ve had a small gyoza weakness since I first had it when I was six, and the thought of fried little dumplings always makes me salivate.

These beautiful little gyoza, part steamed, part fried, at Tokyo Ramen are tender, juicy, succulent.  The flavour and texture of the fried side of the dumpling is not short of divine.

Gyoza, 5 pieces – $5.00

The big draw of Tokyo Ramen for me is the large draw of Japanese patronage and mixed generations.  The food is flavoursome and adventurous enough for the young, familiar and authentic enough for the old.

Tokyo Ramen
Shop 1042
Hornsby Westfield Shopping Centre
236 Pacific Highway

www.tokyoramen.com.au (website is all in Japanese)

Tokyo Ramen on Urbanspoon

Favourite 15 Minute Dish…Crushed Cherry Tomato Pasta

After stumbling upon this recipe on the beautiful Donna Hay’s website it has become almost a weekly staple for my friend “Bing Bong” aka The Malaysian and me.  And also since finding it, variations of this recipe have been popping up in every magazine and website imaginable.  It’s so classic you could call it stylish.  It’s so simple you will be eating in less than 20 minutes.  It’s so cheap you’ll think you’re a college student.

This dish is perfect at any time of year and can be manipulated and augmented to suit different tastes or cravings.  Add some bacon (my favourite thing to do!), add some onions, serve it warm, serve it cold.  Splash in some dry sherry to flambeau the tomatoes.  Endless possibilities, yet so humble I’m almost ashamed to write about it.  Not.

Crushed Cherry Tomato Pasta
a manipulated recipe from donnahay.com

200g spaghetti (preferably organic.  You WILL taste the difference, trust me.)
500g cherry tomatoes (can substitute grape tomatoes.  Choose what looks fresher at the market.)
50g butter
3 cloves (yes, three) garlic, crushed with a fork
3-4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves, also reserve and chop stalks
Shaved parmesan to serve
Sea Salt and black pepper

Cook spaghetti in a large pan of boiling salted water for 10-12 minutes til al dente.
Drain the pasta and return to the saucepan to keep warm.  If needed, add a lug of olive oil to keep the spaghetti from sticking into a great glob.

While pasta is cooking, chop and prepare remaining ingredients:  halve the tomatoes, chop parsley, measure vinegar, crush garlic.  (You will want to be prepared as cooking goes very quick once the pasta is done.)  Put your plates or bowls in the oven on it’s lowest setting to warm them.

When the pasta is done cooking, put a wok or large frying pan on medium heat.  Add the butter to the pan and cook til melted.  Add the garlic and parsley stalks and cook for about 1 minute.  Now add red wine vinegar, tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Using the back of a fork, gently crush about half the tomatoes.  Tip the pasta and parsley into the wok/frying pan and toss together.  Season to taste if needed.  Dish out onto the warmed bowls or plates and serve with shaved parmesan.

“Gyoza”, or What To Do With Leftover Wontons

Oh no!  That wonton soup was so good, but my buddy and I are stuck with a couple dozen extra dumplings from the recipe.  Not that this is really a tragedy…they’re so yummy we just need a creative way to reuse them.

Enter gyoza!

Gyoza have been one of my favourite little treats since I was first introduced to them as a six year old by a Japanese exchange student.  Gyoza are Japanese pot stickers, and they’re my perfect solution for leftover wontons from that noodle soup made earlier.


Heat a wok, grill, skillet, whatever over medium high heat with a splash of vegetable oil.
Take how ever many puffy clouds of wonton goodness you have leftover (see recipe here…) and, cooking in batches, pan fry one side of the dumplings in the oil.  When the bottom side is golden and crispy pour in about 1/2 cup water or so (guesstimate this one!) and cover the pan with a lid.  Allow the wontons to steam until all the water has evaporated.   When the water is all gone the bottom will begin to crisp up again. Remove from the pan and serve piping hot with plain rice and sauce (see recipe below).

Gyoza Sauce


2 dried red chillies, torn to a few pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar (red wine vinegar was all I had on hand and it worked great to!)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil


Mix well the vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic and sesame oil in a small bowl.
Place a wok or fry pan on high heat and add the chillies.  Toast for a minute or two until they begin to become golden.  Add in the vegetable oil and fry until the aromas are released.  Pour the chillies and oil directly from the wok to the sauce mixture in the bowl.  Beware!  It will sizzle, but then the aroma of the hot chilli oil quickly heating the sauces and garlic will waft at you like no other!
Dip your wontons/gyoza/dumplings in the sauce and enjoy.