Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Vietnamese chicken and cabbage salad

This dish (known as Ga Xe Phai) is one of Vietnam's most popular salads. It is also one of Maude and Betty's week night go-to salads when we're busy or feeling a bit lazy. Yes there is chopping involved but it is easy vegie chopping and one which you could easily throw in the food processor grater/chopper for that extra lazy touch. The chicken involved in this version is a shredded cooked chook so while you're in the supermarket picking up the snow peas, cabbage and red onion (because of course we all grow amazing coriander and mint in our gardens right? Ha!) you can also grab a chook. Most of the dressing ingredients are fridge/pantry staples also. The M kids loved this one, even with the sambal oelek (something you could adjust to your taste). It would also work with some grilled beef cut into strips or without meat as a side salad. The leftovers are great the next day in a work lunch box too.

This beautiful salad was found in my good old Australian Women's Weekly - great cooking classics page 142 (serves 4)
You will need:
100g snow peas, trimmed
4 cups (400g) shredded chicken (BBQ chicken)
4 cups (320g) finely shredded chinese cabbage
4 garlic chives, chopped finely
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon sambal oelek
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/3 cup (80ml) lime juice
1/3 cup (80ml) fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh coriander

Place snow peas in a medium bowl. Cover with boiling water, drain immediately. Cover snow peas with cold water in same bowl , stand 2 minutes. Drain, slice thinly.

Combine snow peas in large bowl with chicken, cabbage, chives, onion and mint.

Combine sambal, oil, juice, sauce and sugar in screw top jar, shake well. Drizzle salad with dressing, toss gently to combine, then sprinkle coriander over salad.

Enjoy! M xx

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Strawberry brioche pudding

I remember a certain someone but-not-mentioning-any-names-not-even-my-partner-in-crime-Betty (whoops, did I just say her name?) was only days away from her little bun being fully baked in her own little oven and me being me (wonderful, charming, good looking of course and just so kind hearted - and so modest!) decided to make B and Mr B something delightful and downright delicious so B could rest her swollen tired feet. Strawberries were in their prime at this particular time and I found the perfect dessert in one of my Donna Hay mags (Issue 60 Dec/Jan 2012 page 104).

I personally have never been a huge fan of bread and butter puddings but growing up with parents that would make them and also the original grandma rice puddings I decided I needed to see what all the fuss was actually about and I do like a good custard.

I headed to B's place early in the morning as I had decided to make this at her house and use her kitchen so she didn't have to worry about leaving her little nest (plus I didn't like the idea of boiling my kettle and using my towels incase I had to play mid-wife!). I set about invading her kitchen and I'm sure she will be the first to tell the whole wide world what a tidy chef I am (right B? Right???).

This strawberry brioche bread and butter pudding was easy to make and looked so beautiful with the bright colour of the strawberries. It must have passed the taste test because instead of offering the head chef a small morsal she whisked me out of her house so she could have her afternoon siesta and no sooner had I turned the corner I had a message on my phone telling me she had sampled some pudding (and couldn't stop sampling it - can't blame a hungry pregnant lady I guess!). I received the thumbs up from Mr B also but I neglected to tell my Mr M what I had made as he would have felt like he missed out!

You will need:
2 cups milk (500ml)
2 1/2 cups (625ml) single (pouring) cream - yes I know not great for the thighs!
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
200g brioche loaf, sliced (I could only find one with choc chips so I used that)
1/4 cup (40g) currants
750g strawberries, hulled and halved
1/4 cup (55g) raw sugar

Preheat oven to 200 degrees (400F). Place the milk and cream in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until just boiling. Remove from the heat and set aside. Place the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine. Gradually whisk the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture to combine.

Arrange the brioche slices in the base of a lightly greased 8 cup-capacity (2litre) baking dish. Pour the custard over the brioche and top with the currants and strawberries.

Sprinkle with the sugar and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Serves 6.

I'm sure Betty (and Baby B) enjoyed every last spoonful! x

Monday, 21 May 2012

Fiery Dan Dan Noodles

I'm going to admit now before I continue on with this recipe that I'm not a huge fan of hot and spicy food, meaning the kind of hot that blows your taste buds through the roof of your mouth and sends beads of sweat dripping off the tip of your nose and into your bowl of yumminess. However, I can handle a good kick and do enjoy a moderately spiced dish. I know B has made this dish before and it rated highly on her culinary palate so I was eager to have a go.

B & I both have a ton of books from our favourite cooks and chefs and we are eager to work our way through these for you. We've both got a secret crush on Jamie Oliver (although B may actually have more of his cooking 'bibles' than I do!!!) and this fiery dish comes from his "Jamie's America" which I really do love and if you have been a follower of ours from the start you will see a gorgeous chocolate tart that I attempted as my first post for M & B from this same book (I do get a little distracted at the mention of chocolate - back to the fiery noodles!). These noodles are called "Dan Dan Noodles" and Jamie tells us that in the western Szechuan province of China they actually make a similar dish in massive buckets and carry them on poles over their shoulders. The word "Dan" apparently means pole so these are literally "pole pole noodles". I found the dish to be super easy to make and if you're looking for that extra kick of chilli this recipe is for you.
Having little people in our family I tend to have to make things somewhat child friendly and by using all of the chilli oil mentioned by Jamie and reading his comment - "this dish is right on the edge of my chilli tolerance" made me somewhat hesitant to add all of the chilli (but hey, if you're a chilli fan go for it). I will let you know how much I used in the recipe below.
The flavours of these noodles were amazing and it still managed to have a slight kick and keep 2 out of 3 little people happy and of course Mr B was making his usual "nom nom's" of approval. One thing I did do wrong and will definitely do next time is that I added the mince before it was meant to go in making all my effort of getting it nice and crunchy go to waste. Oh well I'm sure I'm not the only one who has had a mishap in the kitchen, right guys???

You will need:   serves 4
1 beef or chicken stock cube
500g mince beef
2 tablespoons runny honey
300g wheat noodles
4 handfuls of mixed green veg (Chinese cabbage, sprouting broccoli, bok choi, spinach) I didn't use spinach only because I forgot
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons ground Szechuan pepper
5 tablespoons good-quality chilli oil (I only used 2 and 1/2 tablespoons)
2 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1 lime, quartered, to serve

Crumble your stock cube into a large pot of water and put it on the heat to boil.

Add the beef to a dry pan and, on a medium to high heat, keep moving it around until it's golden and crunchy, which will take about 10-15 minutes. Pour away any excess fat. ( I used lean mince so I never really had any excess fat to tip off and the moisture I did have soon evaporated very quickly )

Add the honey and toss until all the mince is nicely coated. Cook for about 30 seconds, then take the pan off the heat and put your mince in a separate bowl. 

Stir your noodles into the boiling stock and move them about a bit so they don't stick together. Cook according to the packet instructions.

Shred your cabbage into 1 cm strips, quarter your bok choi and snap up the broccoli spears. 

When the noodles have 1 minute to go, throw in the prepared greens to blanch them. Drain the whole lot in a colander, reserving a mugful of the cooking water. Tip your noodles, veg and the mugful of water back into the hot pot.

Add your garlic, soy sauce, Szechuan pepper and chilli oil. Give it all a good mix with the tongs and divide between bowls.

Sprinkle over the crunchy beef (this is where I made my boo boo, I added my mince in with the other ingredients and water) finish with a scattering of spring onions and serve each dish with a lime quarter (you will need it if you go the whole chilli kick!!)

We will be making this one again! Enjoy M x

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Roast beetroot salad

In the past, we have always followed family tradition and make the same salads each year at Christmas time. Over the last few years we have branched out of our comfort zone and made different salads. This has applied to desserts also as we always have trifle at Christmas and only ever at Christmas!!! It is funny how we only ever make certain things for certain times of the year but it's time to break tradition I feel.

This salad is one of those that broke the Maude and Betty family Christmas tradition mould last year. We've also started including it our family BBQ rotation as it has been an absolute winner. However, as said, the first time it was trotted out was last year's Chrismas and though my personal salad critic wasn't actually present (B was busy producing her own little bundle to add to our growing family functions) the Mother of M & B was the official taste tester that day and I received the thumbs up from her. My little people weren't so in love with it as a whole but do love digging through for the bits they do like. You could easily make it the night before like I have done as the flavours of the orange and horseradish dressing still shine through without the lettuce wilting too much.

Do you have any family favourite dishes for certain celebration events?

You will need: (adapted from Janelle Bloom "My favourite food for all seasons")
1 bunch medium (about 700g) beetroot, peeled
1 bunch baby carrots, scrubbed
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon horseradish cream
1/2 orange, juiced
2 oranges, peeled, segmented
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
100g salad leaves - depends on the beetroot you buy, but there may be enough fresh leaves to use or rocket or mixed leaves will do.
50g goats cheese

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Remove the leaves from the beetroot and set any small leaves aside. Trim the roots and stems of the beets, leaving about 2cm of each stem (I forgot to do this the first time I made this salad as you can see by the pictures) Cut into quarters or eighths depending on their size. Place in a large greased roasting pan and add the carrots.

Combine the olive oil, brown sugar, horseradish cream, 2 tablespoons orange juice and salt and pepper in a screw-top jar and shake well to combine. Pour half the dressing over the beetroots and carrots and toss to coat. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes

Add the orange segments, walnuts, salad leaves and any reserved beetroot leaves to the pan. Crumble over the goats cheese and pour over remaining dressing. Toss gently to combine. Pile onto a platter.

Enjoy! X

Monday, 14 May 2012

chicken and ham cannelloni

My obsession for cooking started fairly early in life, from watching my parents hold dinner parties and entertain, to entering the school fete with my highly skilled effort at the woman's day pool cake out of the Birthday book (see my Birthday cake obsession started way back then also) or just having fun in home economics hiding down the back of the class and giggling away at my partner for the class who was trying in vein to pipe all the whipped cream we had just whipped for our brandy snaps down her throat without the teacher catching her!!
I loved home economics.....probably a little more than I should of! I'm guessing my mother would be saying "If only she would pay this much attention in Maths and English"......well I only learnt from the best being my parents, well Mum first as our Father developed his cooking skills thanks to Mum also! I hope one day at least one of my three will have a similar flair in the kitchen and be able to at least make their own dinner without burning the house down. Mr M is considered to be in the category of "I can't cook"......known for his tinned peaches in a beef stir fry and managing to boil water till there is no more water to boil. Some days I wonder if he is just pulling the wool over my eyes so he doesn't have to cook but other days I just shake my head and say to myself  "should I risk my life and eat this".
This particular recipe is actually from a friend at school, we were all invited to her place for a "dinner party" as you do when your in grade 11....I enjoyed it so much that I asked her for the recipe that same night and have since made it on a regular basis over the years. I don't have the piece of paper that it was beautifully hand written on for me anymore as I just make it from my head now so the exact measurements may not be totally correct but it works for me. Thank you Ms know who you are and I hope this brings back some memories for you! X

You will need: (this makes quite a large cannelloni)
1 cooked BBQ chicken (all the meat from the chicken)
350g ham (I just buy any ham from your local deli)
1/2 bunch celery, chopped roughly
6 shallots, chopped roughly
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper
cannelloni tubes (I use nearly two boxes)
1 large bottle of the Paul Newman tomato pasta sauce

Cheese sauce:
60g butter
1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
2 cups (500ml) milk
1 cup (125g) grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Process chicken, ham, celery, shallots and parsley in a food processor.

In a bowl add all your processed ingredients and season with salt and pepper and add your egg (this just helps bind the mixture together) with clean hands mix everything together.

Start adding your mixture to your cannelloni tubes, I did this with my hands as I found it faster than using a spoon. Once you have all your tubes filled, add about a 1/4 of your sauce to a large baking dish (lasagne size) so your tubes don't stick to the base. Line your dish with your cannelloni.

Add the rest of your Paul Newman tomato sauce on top of the tubes.

For the white cheesy sauce melt butter in a small saucepan on a high heat, add flour and stir until smooth, keep stirring for 1 minute , gradually add milk (I use my whisk at this stage as it takes care of any unwanted lumps) Stir until sauce boils and thickens, reduce heat. Cook 1 minute, remove from heat. Stir in half of your  cheese, stir until melted.

 Add your cheese sauce to the top of your cannelloni and sprinkle with remaining grated cheese.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until your cannelloni tubes are soft (just use a fork to test your tubes).

YUM! Enjoy x

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Lemon, lime and yoghurt cake

I've got a bit of a thing for yoghurt at the moment. Greek-style only please. I start my day with a dollop on top of some muesli and add a drizzle of honey. Sometimes I end my day with a garlic loaded dollop on a lamb wrap, but that's just how I roll with yoghurt.

On this particular day, I was out of butter and craving home made cake with a dollop of said yoghurt on the side. I recalled making other cakes using oil as the fat element and had plenty of olive oil on hand. This recipe was inspired and adapted from one of my favourite blogs to stalk - Smitten Kitchen ( And on a side note, if you haven't already, check this site out - Deb has some amazing recipes and drool-worthy photography. I've spent hours on there getting hungry and I believe she has her own book coming out soon (another one to add to the collection hey M?).

Anyway, back to the cake. So I was inspired by Smitten Kitchen's Blood Orange Olive Oil cake. Olive oil, greek yoghurt and basic cakey type ingredients all lend themselves to our various citrus friends. I had on hand one lemon and one lime and a whole lot of yoghurt and oil. Unlike the blood orange cake recipe, I did not add any of the actual fruit segments to the mix as I thought lemon and lime segments may be a little bitter to come across, and the yoghurt and extra virgin olive oil lend their own tang to the taste. I added some vanilla bean paste because as well as caramel, vanilla is another obsession of mine (makes sense - they're close flavour relations right?).

I probably had the oven up too high (I've adjusted the recipe for you all) as you'll see the finished product is a little browner than I'd have liked, but the olive oil and yoghurt stopped this little beauty from drying out. The cake wasn't crumbly but had a delicious almost crunchy edge when freshly baked with a soft texture inside. It definitely satisfied this craving and was lovely with just a sprinkle of icing sugar and a simple dollop of plain yoghurt.

Lemon, lime and yoghurt cake (adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Blood Orange Olive Oil cake)

You will need:

1 cup of plain flour
3/4 cup of self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (extra virgin tastes good, but regular should do the trick)
zest and juice of 1 lime
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2/3 cup of plain yoghurt (I recommend greek-style)
1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste (optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees celsius
2. Grease a cake tin with some olive oil (I used a rather large bundt tin - but you could use a loaf or round or whatever!)
3. In a large bowl, mix the zest and sugar with your hands until combined and really zestily fragrant

4. Mix the juice of the lemon and the lime with the yoghurt in another bowl.

5. Add the 3 eggs, the olive oil and vanilla bean paste to the yoghurt and juice mixture and whisk until combined. 

6. Add your other dry ingredients to the sugar and zest mixture in the other bowl. You will now have a bowl of wet ingredients and a bowl of dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix until just combined. Don't go crazy on the mixing.

7. Pour your combined mix into the prepared cake tin and pop into the oven for around 40-45 mins. Test with a skewer as usual to see if done.

8. Allow the cake to cool a bit before removing from the tin.

9. Sprinkle icing sugar over the top once cool. Enjoy with a dollop of yoghurt!


If you're feeling cheffy or fancy, make yourself a lime syrup and pour this over before serving. I'm not cheffy or fancy (sorry M!) so there is no syrup here!  

Enjoy! B x