What a Babe: Pulled Pork and Kimchi & Pork Mantou Slider

Posted by Dani (@dani_sunario), Melbourne.

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Pulled pork is all the rage these days. It is the ultimate comfort food and pretty versatile too! Not only is it cheap and super DUPER easy to prepare, but it also makes your house smell GLORIOUS while it’s slow cooking away.  Although it does take a while to cook, it requires no supervision and actually only requires you to be in the kitchen for a really short amount of time. More playtime/hungover naptime for you!

I got my butcher to hack off a 2.5kg chunk of pork shoulder, bone in and skin on. You can ask for the skin to be removed, but it almost falls off once the meat has been cooking for 8 hours anyway.

I marinated my meat in the brine mix for 48 hours in a ziplock bag in the fridge. The brine ensures that the meat won’t dry out during the slow cooking process. It literally took 2 minutes to make and can be adjusted to suit any taste – if you favour some spices over the others, just throw them in. Really. There is nothing elegant about this at all.

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Pulled Pork Shoulder

For the dry spice rub:
4 tablespoons Five Spice
2 tablespoons Peppercorns
4 tablespoons Rock salt
1 tablespoon Coriander seeds
2 tablespoons Chilli Flakes
1 tablespoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Nutmeg

For the brine:
1/2 Brown sugar
1 cup Apple cider Vinegar
5 Star anise
8 Cloves
6 Bay Leaves
1 Cinnamon stick
3 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
4 tablespoons rock salt
2 cups cold water

For slow-roasting:
2.5kg pork shoulder, bone in
celery sticks, to elevate pork from the base of tray or dutch oven
1/2 onion, cut into chunks
1 bulb fennel and 3 green apples apples(optional)

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Use a food processor or mortar and pestle to blend together all dry ingredients.

Put all brine ingredients in a large ziplock bag with half of the dry rub mix and the meat. Leave to marinate in the fridge overnight.

When you’re ready to cook the meat, drain from the brine mix and pat dry with a paper towel. Cover the surface of the meat with the remaining dry rub and brown the meat in a large pan before placing on a baking tray or in a dutch oven on a bed of celery and onion. (I also added some apple and fennel at this stage in preparation for my pasties later in the week, but this is definitely optional). This elevates the meat and prevents the bottom from overcooking, drying out, or burning.

Cover tightly with a lid or aluminium foil, and place in an oven – preheated to 110 degrees – for between 6-7 hours.

Remove from the oven when the meat flakes off easily, and let it cool for an hour.

Using a fork/chopsticks/the hands yo’ mama gave you, pull it (put your back into it), discarding the skin and any excess fatty bits.

You should end up with a large stack of delicious pulled pork, approximately 7.25743 times the size of this:

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Use the pork in sandwiches, tortillas, tacos, burgers, or serve it straight up with some coleslaw.

You could even pair it with some kimchi and put it into a bao or mantou for a cheeky Asian twist on your usual pulled pork slider. Or slip it in one of the coconut bao that we made back in our first post. Good one.

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I have HEAPS of leftover meaty bits, so stay tuned for my Pulled Pork, Apple and Fennel Cornish Pasties recipe later in the week!

EnThaicing Beef Salad with Lychees, Rice Vermicelli, and Mint

Posted by Dani (@dani_sunario), Melbourne.

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Since the heinous turn of weather in Melbourne this week (seriously guy, get your sh*t together), I’ve been dreaming of the tropical fruits and asian desserts I used to have as a kid on humid holidays in South East Asia – coconut juice from the husk,  freshly squeezed sugar cane with kalamansi lime in a plastic bag, ice kachang, cendol, and of course, iced lychee.

This got me thinking dreaming about lychees and all of the delicious things I could make with them. Though I really do love eating them fresh or straight from an ice cold tin, I’m more of a savoury than a sweet person, and I just wanted to put them in a refreshing salad with some meaty goodness. And rice. Always rice.

Dinner and dessert in one bowl? Come at me.

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I love that Asian food is all about texture, and this dish certainly has it all – the silky noodles, the juicy lychees, the crisp salad, and the crunch from the nuts and sesame – not to mention the flavour party that’s a-happenin’ in your mouth from the mix of fresh herbs, sweet lychees, salty dressing, and the sour limes.

The noodles soak up a lot of the dressing, so you almost have to over-season the dressing before adding it to the salad. I used the lychee juice to replace the usual palm sugar in the dressing, though if you’re using fresh lychees, make sure you remember to add it back!

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I only used half of a 400g tin of lychees in syrup for this recipe – use the flesh in the salad, but reserve some of the liquid for use in the dressing. I haven’t included measurements for the syrup in the dressing as the sweetness differs between brands, so use it to taste. You can freeze the leftover lychees with their syrup in ice cube trays for a delicious addition to iced teas (or cocktails).

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I used a thick cut porterhouse steak (~500g) from my local butcher to serve 4. It is necessary to use the best quality and freshest meat you can find as it is only being seared. Remember that the lime juice in the dressing does help cook the meat through even more, so be careful not to overcook it when searing. You can obviously also cook the meat further to your liking, but trust me, it is delicious like this.

You can make the dressing a day (or a few hours) ahead and store it in the refrigerator – the chillies and lime become even more potent over time – however, I would advise not to keep the dressing any longer than a day. The noodles are also extra delicious by themselves when soaked overnight in the dressing.

If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, replace the beef with some sliced pan-seared firm tofu. For a gluten free option, substitute the soy sauce and the fish sauce for wheat-free tamari.

Thai Beef Salad with Lychee, Rice Vermicelli, and Mint
Serves 4 (or 2 fatties – Thai-beef-salad-for-four-for-two, anyone?)

For the salad:
500g porterhouse steak (or firm tofu)
250-300g rice vermicelli, rehydrated in warm water and drained
200g arugula and/or baby spinach
3/4 cup Vietnamese mint leaves, torn
1/2 cup coriander, torn
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves, torn
1/2 red capsicum, finely julienned
1 cup bean shoots
1 cup enoki mushrooms, torn
1 red shallot, finely sliced
3 radishes, finel sliced
1 lebanese cucumber, finely sliced
1/2 400g tin lychees (reserve liquid for dressing)
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
handful of crushed toasted peanuts

For the dressing:
Reserved lychee syrup, to taste
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 birdseye chillies, finely sliced (remove seeds for less heat if you need)
juice of 2 limes

For the dressing, mix all ingredients and season to taste. Let the chillies macerate in the dressing while you prepare the other ingredients.

Season the steak before searing on all sides in a hot grill pan or on a barbeque. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the steak. Let it rest before slicing thinly.

Mix all of the salad ingredients together before adding the thinly sliced beef. Dress well, ensuring that the meat is well coated and the acid in the dressing cooks the beef further. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts, sesame seeds, and a wedge of lime.

DERICIOUS.

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Get Outta My Grill: Summer Vegetable Salad with Prosciutto Crumb and Sesame & Sumac Yoghurt

Posted by Dani (@dani_sunario), Melbourne.

It was a disgustingly hot 37 degrees in Melbourne today. The only thing keeping me from not dying in this heat is how supercool I already am. JOKES.

(More likely  it’s the super-sized Lemon, Lime and Bitters flavoured slushies from the local 7-11  that I have been inhaling all day . Damn, those bad boys are gooooood.)

It can’t even be bothered typing right now, so here is some food porn for you.

The stifling heat called for a clean, healthy meal (i’ve eaten my body weight in ice cream and slushies today) that took as little time in the kitchen as possible. The proscuitto crumb required me turning the oven on for about half an hour (gross, I know), but it was totally worth it.

You can omit the prosciutto crumb for a vegetarian version (add garlic breadcrumbs instead!) or serve it with a steak like I did to get even more delicious meat involved.
Mmmmmm…meaty goodness.


Grilled Summer Vegetable Salad with Prosciutto Crumb and Sumac, Sesame, Yoghurt Dressing

For the crumb:
2 slices thinly sliced prosciutto

For the dressing:
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup Greek (or natural) yoghurt
1 teaspoon sumac
squeeze of fresh lemon juice

For the salad:
1 zucchini, sliced thinly lengthwise
3 yellow squash, sliced into thin rounds or cut into eighths
1 tablespoon crushed pistachios
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees. Place slices of prosciutto on baking paper and let dry out in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until crispy. Drain on paper towel, then crumble into small pieces.

In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients for dressing until smooth.

Toss vegetables in salt, pepper and olive oil, then grill in a single layer on a hot pan or griddle, grilling for one minute on each side.

Serve with yoghurt, coriander, crushed pistachios and prosciutto crumb.
And beef. Tasty, tasty beef.

Pistachi-YO! Orange Blossom, Pistachio and Cardamon Yoghurt Tart with an Oat Crust

Posted by Claire (@clairebearpear) and Dani (@dani_sunario), Melbourne.

Struggling at the end of a jam packed (read: haggard) weekend, we were spontaneously invited to a Sunday dinner at a friends house.

Good guests always come well-prepared, and in an attempt to create something magical from the contents of the fridge, we decided to make this Spring-inspired, healthy (well, healthier than the rest of our weekend anyway) tart based on the beloved Julia Child’s berry yoghurt tart recipe.


Orange Blossom, Pistachio and Cardamon Yoghurt Tart with an Oat Crust

For the crust:

1/2 cup rolled oats, processed down to a flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
50g butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon of honey
1 egg, beaten for sealing

For the filling:

1 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 cup Greek yoghurt, whisked lightly until smooth
3/8 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon Orange Blossom water
2 cardamon pods, crushed and powdered
zest of half an orange
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup crushed pistachios

Fo’ drizzle:

1/2 orange, segmented into bite sized chunks
2 teaspoons Orange Blossom water
1/5 cup crushed pistachios
1 tablespoon of honey
1 teaspoon sugar

***Pre-heat oven to 170 C***

For the crust:
Stir dry ingredients together (flour, oat flour, salt, baking powder, sesame seeds, brown sugar) before adding in the honey and melted butter. Mix with hands until well combined.

Press evenly into a 6-inch greased tart pan and leave to chill for 20 minutes, or until dough is settled. Try get the crust quite thin – too thick and you end up with a rock hard biscuit-like base!

Blind bake tart crust at 170C for 10 minutes or until pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and brush with beaten egg, before returning for a further 5 minutes. This ensures that the pastry does not go soggy with the addition of the filling, and gives it a nice golden shine!

Cool the tart crust to room temperature.

For the filling:
Beat the sugar and eggs with a mixer for 2 minutes, or until the mixture is pale yellow and thickened slightly. Fold in the yoghurt, orange blossom water, cardamon, orange zest and crushed pistachios.

Sift in the flour, salt, and baking powder, while gently folding the ingredients together.

Pour into the cooled tart crust, about 3/4 full (the filling does not rise very much), and bake at 170C for 12-15 minutes. Make sure you watch it closely, as overcooking the mixture turns it into a rubbery mess! The top should be golden, but not brown.

Let the tart cool in the pan – it should peel away from the edge and shrink a little, making it easy to remove.

Fo’ drizzle:
Macerate the orange segments in sugar and orange blossom water, letting steep for 10 minutes while the tart is cooking.

Once the tart is cool, top with macerated orange segments (reserving juice), pistachios, and lightly drizzle with honey. The tart can be served at room temperature, or chilled.

Store in the refrigerator. Or in yo’ bellies.

Cool Bananas: (Optionally Vegan) Frozen Banana Truffles

Posted by Tiff (@tiffanyalisonha), Perth.

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Much to my dismay, our oven broke last week. So no more banana bread, aka the final stage of evolution for a banana that’s about to go bad. This isn’t a complete tragedy, since it’s been too hot to bake anyway, and now that I’ve discovered these bad boys, I can get a quick and easy banana fix without having to heat a thing.

These frozen truffles are the ultimate no-fuss summer treat – dead simple to make, cool and refreshing, decadent (without breaking the calorie bank), gluten-free and easily adaptable for vegans. They seriously taste just like banana bread batter. Whenever I’m craving something sweet, I can grab one of these delicious morsels from the freezer and feel totally satisfied and guilt-free. I’ll probably make these all through summer, experimenting with different fruits and toppings each time.

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Ingredients (makes about 24 truffles)

Truffles:
4 ripe bananas
4 tablespoons of honey (or agave nectar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of melted butter (or nut butter or tahini)
pinch of salt
mini patty pans (cupcake holders)

Toppings:
chopped almonds (or any nut)
cocoa powder
dried coconut flakes

Method

Break the bananas into chunks and throw them in a mixing bowl with the honey (or agave), vanilla extract, salt and butter of your choice. I also threw in two tablespoons of cream, because I had some in the fridge waiting to be used up. I don’t think it made much of a difference to the taste or texture in the end though.

If your bananas are a bit hard, mash them with a potato masher first. If not, go straight ahead and mix everything with an electric beater until well-combined.

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Pour the mixture into a wide container (the wider, the quicker it will freeze) and put it in the freezer until completely solid. I left mine in overnight, but yours might only take 4 – 6 hours.

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Once the mixture is completely solid, prepare your toppings. Don’t take the mixture out of the freezer until everything else is ready – it will melt pretty quickly (especially if it’s a hot day).

Bash your nuts into small bits with a mortar and pestle or give them a quick whiz in the food processor. Place each topping on its own plate and spread out your patty pans.

Clear some space in the freezer and put a tray in there to house your truffles. Get your melon baller or ice cream scooper ready.

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Once that mixture comes out of the freezer, the heat is on. Time is slipping away. It’s the final countdown, etc. Imagine you’re on Masterchef and you’ve got five minutes to go. Whip those balls out! Don’t let that mixture melt! Think about presentation!

Working quickly, scoop out the mixture and shape it into a ball with your hands. You want each truffle about the size of a ping-pong ball. If you’re a pro you may be able to do this without your hands, but since I didn’t have the appropriate utensil I used a measuring spoon. Turns out it was not terribly conducive to making ball-shaped things.

Once you’ve formed your truffle, roll it in your chosen topping and place it in a patty pan. Then get yo ass moving on that next truffle.

Depending on how hot it is and how speedy you are, you may need to put the finished truffles in the freezer ASAP. I made four at a time and then popped them in the freezer. It’s a bit of a hassle going back and forth but if you leave your truffles out, they will become amorphous blobs instead of nice, evenly round balls. But no doubt they will be delicious either way.

Cool bananas!

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Seoul Searching: Vegetarian Fish Cakes + Cucumber Pickle

Posted by Dani (@dani_sunario), Melbourne.

Korean fusion food is all the rage at the moment, especially with food trucks in the US capitalising on the Korean-Mexican fusion. Bulgogi burrito with a side of kimchi? You don’t have to ask me twice! I mean, both cuisines count rice as a staple, so really it’s not that far a leap.

Today, I too decided to jump on the Korean bandwagon, and though nothing beats a big bowl of Bibimbap, I decided to experiment by fusing it with some Japanese-esque flavours to create a vegetarian feast of Bibim Nengmyun (buckwheat noodles with enoki mushrooms and a gochujang and ponzu dressing), Vegetarian “Fish” Cakes with kimchi kewpie, and a light and fresh Cucumber Pickle to cut through all of the spicy deliciousness. This is the ultimate in comfort food.

Now by this time, you’re probably thinking, “I have no idea what 80% of those words are, what on earth is she on about?” Trust me, all of these dishes seem complicated and full of exotic ingredients, but the recipes are super duper simple. The hardest part would probably be sourcing the ingredients – your best bet is to go to an Asian grocer with a good Korean and Japanese section, but if you don’t know where that is/are really scared to go into one/really can’t be bothered making the trek, i’ll try to give you as many substitutes as possible. Unfortunately, having fresh kimchi is vital for this one, but i’m sure you’ll be able to find it at your local Asian store. Hell, Perth even has it’s own kimchi factory and if that nanna state has it, i’m sure everywhere else does too!

So lets start with the condiments for our feast…

Kimchi Kewpie

I’m a proud A-sian, not just a B-sian, so in honour of my ancestry I always keep a tub of kimchi in my fridge.
Very good one.

Asian food is all about mixing unusual textures and flavours, and somehow, even though there is usually a combination of several strong flavour profiles, they all manage to work together. Kimchi is one of those pungent ingredients – it is mighty strong, and the smell can be off-putting to some, but it is an ingredient that I swear goes with everything. Just last week I made a kimchi grilled cheese and not even kidding, it changed my life.

In my desire to add kimchi to everything I could possibly imagine, I had the brainwave of combining it with one of my other favourite Asian condiments – Kewpie mayonnaise – and boy, was I onto something! It is freakin’ dericious!

Kewpie is the most popular brand of a Japanese mayo that – in traditional Japanese style – comes in a cute, but odd-shaped plastic squeeze bottle with a star shaped nozzle. It is made with rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar (instead of the usual distilled vinegar found in normal Western mayo) and egg yolks (rather than whole egg), giving it a much sweeter taste.

You can substitute Kewpie for a good quality mayonnaise, but i’m pretty sure they sell it in the Asian section of most supermarkets these days.

2 teaspoons of kimchi juice (from the kimchi tub that you no doubt will start to keep in your fridge too)
4 tablespoons of kewpie mayonnaise
Sesame oil, to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until you reach a smooth and saucy consistency.

Chinese-style Cucumber Pickle

I made a Chinese-style cucumber pickle to accompany this feast for added freshness and crunch, and to cut through all of that chilli. It is super simple and takes barely any effort at all. I used a vegetable twister (that I bought specifically for the cucumber I add to my gin and tonics, handy) to slice it super thin and save time.

1 large continental cucumber (or 2 lebanese cucumbers), sliced thinly
1 shallot, diced finely
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
sea salt

Sprinkle the cucumber quite liberally with salt in a bowl, before leaving to rest for 10 minutes. This extracts some of the moisture from the cucumber, allowing the final pickle product to be crunchy rather than soggy.

After 10 minutes, squeeze and drain the excess moisture from the cucumber.

Mix the vinegar and sugar in a bowl until sugar is dissolved, then pour over the cucumber, diced shallots, and chilli flakes. Let the pickle soak and absorb all of the flavours for a further ten minutes.

Vegetarian “Fish” Cakes
Makes 12

These vegetarian “fish” cakes were delicious in their own right, but you could easily substitute the tofu and chickpeas in this recipe for any firm-fleshed fish – fresh poached or steamed salmon would be fantastic in this. For vegetarians, the mixture of the tofu and chickpeas gives it a similar texture to a normal fishcake – firm but also bouncy and smooth.

You could also substitute Panko for normal breadcrumbs, but definitely try get your hands on this bad boy first – once again, most major supermarkets stock Panko in the Asian section. Japanese Panko is a crisper, airier, and flakier breadcrumb than your usual breadcrumb, and it makes all the difference in the density and heaviness of the cake.

200g silken tofu
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons kimchi
3 spring onions, bottoms only and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1/2 brown onion
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon plain flour
Sesame oil, to taste

Plain flour for dusting
Vegetable oil (or other neutral oil), for shallow frying

In a food processor, blend together all the ingredients in the first group until combined into a chunky mix. It is a little bit more moist than your usual meaty mix due to the silken tofu, so don’t be too scared like I was that it won’t come together. Much like Gatsby, they turn out just all right in the end.

Divide the mixture into 12 even-sized rounds, about 7cm in diameter, then coat lightly in plain flour.

Shallow fry in hot oil for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy, then drain on a paper towel.


Bibim Nengmyun

Serves 4

In my mind, noodle is – let’s just say… *traditionally* – pronounced “ndr”. Go on, try say it out loud.
Aaaaaaaaand… there you go.

These noodles are an untraditional variation of the Korean Bibim Nengmyun, and are fantastic in texture and flavour. This recipe uses Korean Gochujang paste – a strong pepper condiment made from red chilli, fermented soybeans, and glutinous rice, that is used as a base for many Korean dishes – and Japanese ponzu, a citrus based sauce made from rice vinegar, seaweed, and citrus juice. If you can’t get your hands on Ponzu sauce, mix some light soy sauce with some citrus juice (lemon works fine, but mix it up with other citrus juices too!). The noodles are a beautiful colour, quite starchy, and made from buckwheat so are gluten free. For a completely gluten free recipe, substitute the Ponzu sauce for Tamari soy mixed with a little citrus juice. You could also try this recipe with rice vermicelli instead of soba noodles.

The red pickled ginger not only adds colour to the dish, but also adds a tartness and heat. This can also be found in the Japanese section of your Asian grocer, but you can the substitute it with finely sliced young ginger.

Kombu are shredded rehydrated ribbons of edible seaweed. They’re crunchy and salty, but have a really unique flavour. I personally love the texture, but it can be quite slimy and take getting used to. You could omit this altogether if you really wanted, but if you find it you should definitely give it a go!

As an added bonus, this dish is totally vegan too.

1 tablespoon Gochujang paste
3 tablespoons Ponzu sauce
a handful of mushrooms – I used Enoki, but you could use oysters or wood ear – nothing too meaty
a handful of bean shoots
200g dried Buckwheat (soba) noodles, cooked and drained according to package directions
2 tablespoons kombu, rehydrated in cold water
1 tablespoon red pickled ginger
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
spring onions, to garnish
2 spring onions, finely chopped to garnish
extra sesame oil for noodles

Lightly dry-toast sesame seeds in a pan for a minute, making sure to move them around so they don’t burn.

Toss cooked soba noodles with sesame oil to coat, flavour, and loosen each noodle.

Combine Gochujang and Ponzu in a large bowl until the paste has dissolved. Add noodles, mushrooms, and bean shoots and combine.

Place on a plate and garnish with kombu, pickled ginger, toasted sesame seeds and spring onions.

It’s a massive feast, and though it looks like a lot of work, I swear it really isn’t as long as you multi-task and pre-soak the pickles and the kombu. It should take less than a half hour to prepare.

You could totally have each of these feast components individually, or you could even make a mini burger (sprinkled with sesame seeds for that real deal effect) out of the leftovers like I did. With a little sprinkling of sesame on top, you could easily deceive anyone into thinking it’s actually a burger. The best bit? It tastes 100 times better!

Martha-dom: Death by Choc-Chip Cookie

Posted by Dani (@dani_sunario), Melbourne.

I have a friend who is a self-proclaimed Cookie Monster. For weeks, I have been hearing about how she has tried time and time again to bake the perfect soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies to no avail. She tried recipes that mixed the flour and the butter first, and she tried recipes that creamed the butter and sugar, but every time, she was disappointed.

Finally, I asked her to trust Martha.

Now Martha Stewart wasn’t always the most trustworthy of people. Back in 2004 she was the champion of untrustworthy and even won the best prize of all – a five month stint in prison. She may even be ridiculous enough to liken herself to Nelson Mandela, but when it comes to baking, the woman knows what’s what.

We trawled through the 50-odd choc chip cookie recipes on her website for the most delicious looking one, then promptly cut the recipe in half after realising we probably didn’t need to consume two cups of butter and 24 cookies.*

*We did however add an entire block of dark chocolate to the recipe. Why only use two cups when you’re going to eat the whole block in one sitting anyway?

There is seriously nothing better than the combination of sea salt and chocolate, so before baking, we sprinkled the tops of the cookies liberally with sea salt flakes. I warned you I was a salt fiend. Deal with it.

THE BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from Martha Stewart Food)
Makes 12 large cookies

1 1/8 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
120g unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
1 large egg
1 ENTIRE BLOCK dark chocolate (200g), chopped into small pieces
Sea salt flakes, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Combine the baking powder with the flour.

In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and both sugars on a medium speed until fluffy and light. Add the vanilla and egg and beat on low until well combined for a further minute. Add the flour mixture and fold until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips (reserving some for snacking while the cookies bake, of course).

Make rough tablespoon-sized balls of dough, and spread evenly on a baking tray lined with baking paper, about 5cm apart.

Bake the cookies for around 8-10 minutes or until they are golden on top, but still soft in the centre. Let them cool on the sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about a week, or if you’re in my house, 10 minutes.

To be fair, eating one of these cookies is like eating a chunk of molten chocolate with a small side of cookie. You could probably go with half that amount and still end up with a delicious treat, but really, who am I to complain?

The (Brat)wurst of Perth: The Beaufort Street Festival

Posted by Tiff (@tiffanyalisonha), Perth.

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Last Saturday was Mount Lawley’s third annual Beaufort Street Festival. This year’s boasted to be the biggest one yet, with roadblocks up from Queens Crescent all the way down to Lincoln Street. Needless to say, parking was a nightmare, and the glaring sun of the first uncomfortably hot day we’ve had this Spring made the walk feel more like some sort of pilgrimage to a land of promised icy refreshments, tasty morsels and exotic wares. I was excited and ready to eat my way through Beaufort Street.

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First up: Fat Dragon. This establishment recently opened up in that ‘dead zone’ behind the Astor theatre on the corner of Beaufort and Walcott streets. Fat Dragon especially un-tickles my fancy because it’s what I affectionately call a gwei-lo trap: an Asian eatery (of vague origin) for white people – where actual Asians never eat. But they were selling pork buns at their festival stall, and I sure as hell can’t say no to a pork bun.

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The buns at Fat Dragon were $6 each or $10 for two: expensive, but unsurprising by Perth standards. The bread was done in the open-sandwich style: a modern twist on the traditional ‘bao’. Unfortunately, as a result of sitting in the bain-marie instead of the steamer, the bun was dry and lukewarm. The pork filling had been roasted, pulled, and seasoned with a Chinese barbecue style marinade. While the meat wasn’t as juicy and melt-in-your-mouth tender as pulled pork can be, it was still tasty and satisfied my craving. Another redeeming feature was the bottle of Sriracha chili sauce offered to me by the server. Of course, abiding by social etiquette, I squeezed a small glob onto my plate – but I gladly would have emptied that bottle.

pork bun from Fat Dragon

Next up: a Spanish Quesadilla by Chef Nimrod Kazoom (what a name!). It’s amazing how quickly Spanish and South American cuisine has infiltrated Perth in the last few years. I remember a time not so long ago when Old El Paso taco kits were the only option. Thank god we’ve seen the light.

I had to go red; it’s my favourite colour

The quesadilla was nice, but it’s hard to go wrong with melted cheese and fried tortillas, so my expectations are understandably high for $12 a serving. The chicken part consisted of thinly sliced smoked breast, which was delicious despite its resemblance to ham (or even worse – chicken loaf!). Unfortunately they were a bit light-handed with the amount of cheese and the cooking time, which meant that we didn’t get that stringy molten cheese oozing out between two crispy layers – the true joy of a good quesadilla. Nevertheless, the bf and I scooted over to a shaded part of the street and wolfed it down.

a Portugese chicken quesadilla

After walking through the growing swarms of people on the street, under the glaring Perth sun, I was in need of something cold. Luckily, I stumbled across Delish Ice. I was intrigued by their kitschy blue caravan and their inventive icy pole flavours. It was hard deciding on just one, but I couldn’t go past the Rum Boat Float, featuring a ‘rum inspired syrup’, lime and passionfruit. It was everything I’d hoped and more – the rum syrup had a cinnamon-y, almost cola-like flavour, and the citrus fruits cut through the sweetness, making it the ultimate icy palate cleanser. The bf went for the ginger beer, mint and lime, which he also highly rated.

                

The Rum Boat Float (left) and the ginger beer, mint and lime

A bit further down the street I ran into Jumplings, a mobile dumpling shop. Again, I can’t say no to dumplings; it’s probably in my DNA. I opted for three (two prawn, one duck) for $5, and tried my best to suppress that nagging feeling that I was paying too much. The boiled dumplings were fresh and well-cooked, but the skins were a bit thin, unlike the thicker, chewier ones you get on potstickers and some gyozas. The fillings were nice enough, though you had to dig deep to find much prawn at all in the ‘prawn’ dumplings. The duck filling was held together by a delicious five-spice sauce, much like the kind you get in little tubs when you buy Chinese roast duck and BBQ meats. Each serve of dumplings had a generous topping of chives, coriander and soy sauce – a winning combination in my book. But Jumplings seriously lacked one thing: chili sauce. I probably would have settled for chili flakes. But no, nothing.

prawn and duck dumplings from Jumplings

At this point I felt pretty full, and the searing heat was definitely not helping me regain my appetite. So I walked across to the Raw juice tent looking for something my stomach might appreciate. The lovely chaps behind the ice-filled barrels offered me some free samples. The first I tried was made of blended kale, banana, apple and lemon. I have no idea how, but it worked; it was delicious. The kale was subtle, even though it stained the juice a deep, healthy green. The second I tried was made from carrot, lettuce, beetroot, spirulina and wheatgrass. This one was considerably less tasty, as I expected. It had an intense earthy flavour and sat unpleasantly on the border between sweet and savoury.

raw fruit and veg: the best way to make your insides happy

the not-so-tasty one

Despite the huge volume of food stalls, a lot of the offerings were repetitive and uninspired. I lost count of the number of Bratwurst/sausage stalls, and I swear every second stall was serving paella. I decided to skip these to save room for things that really piqued my interest (I have this compulsion to always try strange and novel foods). Most stalls would only sell full servings too, which made it hard to justify trying a lot of different things for $10-$15 a pop.

I’m sure it was delicious, but in the words of Shania Twain: that don’t impress me much
the ultimate high-turnover, high-profit food staple: bread and miscellaneous ground meat

My last meal (which I ended up taking home and eating for dinner) was a Moroccan chicken tajin (or tagine, as it’s more commonly known) from Shak Shuka Authentic Moroccan Food. I’ve recently fallen in love with Middle Eastern and North African food, so I couldn’t resist trying this tajin. I’m so glad I did, because it was freaking delicious. The couscous was fluffy, well-seasoned and ‘to the tooth’, while the stew had a terrifically balanced flavour profile. The chicken was bite-sized and tender, and the smattering of chickpeas and raisins complemented the thick, spiced (but not spicy) stew. At first, I thought $13 for a small container was a bit much, but I changed my mind after the first forkful. A definite highlight of the day.

meal of the day!

So there we are – a bit of a taster of this year’s Beaufort Street Festival. Note: there were main food attractions such as the Roving Dinner ($160, hopping between five different restaurants), the Food and Wine Micro-Festival ($10 for limited wine and cheese samplings) and the Beaufort Street Festival cookbook ($20) that I simply didn’t have the money and/or desire to experience. I’m much more of a street food kinda gal. And hey, why give up the joy discovering things for yourself?

Take a Bao: Vegan Curry + Coconut Bao

Posted by Dani (@danisunario), Melbourne.

Pastry cooking is definitely not a forte of mine. I struggle to adhere strictly to measurements and cooking times and not just play it by ear/sight/feel/smell. In my mind, kneading dough seems too fidgety and messy, and there are so many variables that could possibly go wrong. It genuinely is a thing of my nightmares.

To me, bao making is yet another step up in the “too hard” ranks from pastry cooking. It has always seemed a bit of a mystery, and it is something I had never even contemplated tackling before. HOW DO THEY EVEN MAKE THOSE DELICIOUSLY FLUFFY WHITE CLOUDS THAT TASTE OF RAINBOWS AND JOY AND MAGICALLY REPLENISH ON THE CARTS AT DIM SUM!!?!? After seeing so many failed attempts at creating them from competent foodie friends and on emotional journeys with contestants on reality television cooking shows, I had vowed to never, ever, attempt to make them.

It was while making a rather saucy and untraditional vegan Thai red curry with chickpeas, sweet potato, lentils and pumpkin (really, it was the delicious result of a mish-mash of leftover miscellaneous vegetables from the bottom of my fridge and the need to feed a vegetarian friend) that I remembered the slightly sweet pan-fried white bread-like rolls (mantou) that my mother used to make to accompany Malaysian curry. The bread was crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and could be used to mop up the last remaining drop of curry sauce on a plate. DELICIOUS. I had to go about recreating something similar (but slightly healthier) and after trawling through multiple recipes, I stumbled upon this simple little gem. I adapted it to my own tastes, adding a little sugar for sweetness, and a tiny bit more salt to bring out the flavour of the coconut. If there is one thing you need to know about me, it’s that I am a SALT FIEND, so make sure you play around with it to suit your own tastes.

To serve, I placed the curry and stack of baos in the centre of the table with a chiffonade of kaffir lime leaves thrown on top. You could throw on some coriander (my vegetarian friend has a severe dislike for it, what a silly), or even some freshly cut chillies instead. Go on, live on the edge. I dare you.

You could also substitute the vegetables in this curry for any meat or other vegetable, just be wary of cooking times. I do not advocate giving your guests salmonella.

Vegan Thai Red Curry
Makes: a buttload, but it really depends on the quantity of vegetables added

For the paste:

10 large dried red chillies (use less, or remove the seeds if you can’t take the heat)
2-4 fresh red birds eye chillies (as above)
2 stalks of lemongrass (white part only)
2 shallots, sliced finely
5-7 cloves of garlic, depending on size and strength
2cm piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced finely
3cm piece of fresh galangal, peeled and sliced finely
8 dried shrimp, available from your asian grocer (omit for vegan recipe)
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable (or other neutral) oil, for frying

For the curry:

1 brown onion, finely sliced
1 cup lentils, pre-cooked separately in water
1 can chickpeas
1 can coconut milk
1 large sweet potato, about 450g, cut into bite sized chunks
2 carrots, cut into chunks
10 kaffir lime leaves
2 pandan leaves, tied in a knot (in Australia, this is available from the frozen section of your Asian grocer)
1tbs palm sugar, grated or finely chopped
Fish sauce (omit for vegan recipe), to taste
Light soy sauce, to taste
1 cup water
salt and pepper, to taste

For the paste:

Soak dried chillies in warm water for 10 mins until soft, then use a mortar and pestle (or a food processor if you’re real lazy) to blend with the remaining ingredients until it forms a smooth paste. I usually substitute the 1/2 cup of water here for the water the chillies were soaking in for an extra kick!

Fry the paste off in vegetable oil for about 10 minutes or until the paste becomes fragrant. You can usually tell it’s ready at this stage as the oil and paste start to separate again.

You can store the paste (with the oil on top to seal it in) in the fridge for up to two weeks.

For the curry:

Begin by slowly frying off the onion until translucent with a small pinch of salt, then add in 2-3 tablespoons of curry paste, depending on heat tolerance.

Add in your hard vegetables (if you’re using meat, add it here and brown off), and combine with the onion and paste mix.

Once browned off, add in a cup of water, fish sauce, soy sauce, palm sugar, tied pandan leaves, and kaffir lime leaves, and let simmer for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. In the last five minutes, add in chickpeas, lentils, and coconut milk and simmer until coconut milk is combined.


Vegan Coconut Bao
Makes 15

For this recipe, it really doesn’t matter what size can of coconut milk you use, as long as you keep the ratio of 1:2 coconut milk to self raising flour. I used a 400mL can, which yielded 15 large sized Baos.

Get your water boiling and ready to go while you’re making the dough – if your water isn’t boiling by the time you put your steamer on, the baos won’t rise and they’ll be quite dense. You won’t get to eat the fluffy white clouds you get when you go to dim sum. How unrucky for you.

1 can coconut milk
2 can-fuls of self raising flour
1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
30 muffin/cupcake liners, doubled up

Pour the can of coconut milk, the 2 can-fuls of self raising flour, salt, and sugar into a mixing bowl and fold until combined.

Knead the dough (it should be quite sticky at this stage) on a floured surface for another minute or so, until the dough is elastic, smooth, and no longer sticky.

                                    

Cut dough into 15 even sized pieces, then with floured hands roll into a rough ball shape before placing them in doubled cupcake liners.

                                    

Place tightly in a bamboo steamer over a pot/wok of boiling water and steam for 7-10 minutes or until risen and fluffy.

I might try experimenting further with this bao recipe, maybe even steaming things INSIDE of them. This could legitimately revolutionise the way I eat.  I have a feeling i’ll end up being a crazy Asian lady who stuffs EVERYTHING into a bao. Mmmmmmmm, fluffy clouds of joy filled with even more joy – what could possibly go wrong?

I’m bao-ing out now, with a belly full of curry…