Tag Archives: pork

Hunger Aversion and San Choy Bow

1 Jun

san choy bow ingredientsIn my past life I think I was hungry.

I don’t mean hungry as in  -

Mmmmm, I could really go a tast-y bur-ger

I mean hungry as in on serious rations, or even starving.

Work with me here………

I have an intense NEED to keep a well stocked pantry. If I don’t have what I feel is sufficient dry goods, I feel like we’re running low and it makes me feel uncomfortable.
I don’t feel this way about convenience foods, as Mister H will purport. He will often look into our fridge or pantry and be all -

There is nothing to eat in this house!

When in actual fact if he fancied soaking some lentils, boiling some quinoa or rice, and opening some tins, there’s enough to feed a small, yet hungry, army of legume lovers.

I have met people better stocked than myself, but as far as the average family larder looms, I am dry store personified…..and let’s not even start on my herb and spice cupboard. It’s stocked yet shameful.

I can’t find a damned thing.

One time, (not at band camp) I was climbing Mount Ramelau, East Timor’s highest mountain, approximately a 5 hour round trip and I was so freaked out about rations that I got nervous when we bumped onto some locals and my climbing mates wanted to share our rations. We’d been driving since pre-dawn,  and had a light breakfast of bread rolls and oranges and watched the sun rise before setting off.

We did take the long way, meaning, we got lost, and ended up walking up some twisty turny goat tracks and ended up doing some proper mountain climbing. Sort of.

I was terrified of being stuck up that mountain with only the box of Arnott’s Barbeque Shapes and my emaciated corpse one day being discovered clutching the remnants of a chewed box.

Mount Ramelau, East Timor

Mount Ramelau, East Timor

Needless to say, we found a road and walked down with ease and we were home in time for a hearty lunch and all of my woes were forgotten in a flurry of fish and beans and rice.

San Choy Bow is not East Timorese, in fact, I have no idea how that story popped up just now….I’d forgotten it.

I had a beautiful time in East Timor. I learned some stuff about life there.

Some big stuff.

I met people who had lived through horrific things and yet they still smiled and laughed and lit up when they saw us.
I went to an orphanage and saw the most divine little angels, some scarred physically, all scarred mentally and watched those kids jump around trying to catch bubbles in the afternoon sun, giggling with delight when they burst and disappeared.

Yep, I learned some big stuff in East Timor.

san choy bow

What you will need :

  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or peanut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cm, ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 500g pork mince, or chicken if you prefer.
  • 100g water chestnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions
  • 100g rice vermicelli
  • 2 tablespoons shao xing wine
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • a big handful of chopped coriander
  • friend onions and chopped peanuts or cashews for serving
  • chilli sauce for serving


What you need to do :

Wash your lettuce leaves and set aside to dry.

Pour boiling water over your noodles in a bowl and leave to sit for ten minutes or until soft. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a heavy fry pan, on a medium stove, and chuck in your garlic and ginger. When deliciously fragrant, add your mince.

When the mince is cooked chuck in your carrots and celery stirring well to combine.
When they’re softened toss your spring onions, water chestnuts, shao xing, oyster and soy sauce and pepper in and give a good shimmy.

Cut your noodles into 1.5cm(ish) pieces and stir through, adding the coriander as you go.

Place your mince mix into the lettuce cups, garnish with fried onion and nuts.
I love this with Chinese chilli sauce, so sauce away and banish hunger!

Dex ate this as is, and I put a couple of tablespoons through some mashed avocado for Kiki. They were most happy to have their hunger banished in this style.

Toddler Guerilla Tactics and a Sausage Roll

15 Mar Homemade sausage rolls

sausage roll ingredients Before I had children I had a very clear image of the type of parent I would be.

I would always maintain cool composure, because everyone knows children can smell fear. I would never, ever smack, nor allow junk food, and enforce a strict bedtime. My children would be clean, and my house would be tidy with just one little play area for toys.

Oh, and I would always remain fun. Naturally, I’d be the funnerest mum ever.

Fast forward almost 3 years and I can pretty much see y’all sniggering into your cup of tea.

Lego, Little People and dinosaurs are all over my floor, my kids’ faces are smeared with snot and breakfast and the piles of washing, both clean and dirty, are mammoth, and I’m sitting at my computer instead of getting onto it.

I’d like to say I’ve learned to pick my battles, but I probably haven’t. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting beaten by a little guerilla toddler.

Toddler terrorism is rife in my house, and I’m ashamed to say that I am not above bribery, and depending on the circumstance, I may even just succumb to the tyranny.

One fine example was at oh five hundred hours this morning, after I’d been up a gazillion times with a sick Kiki, and having a supremely snotty nose myself, I heard D Man saying he didn’t want to sleep anymore.

I wasn’t havin’ that.

rolling the sausage rolls

Usually, I can stealthily commando in, shove Ratty in his arms, cover him up, and be out of the room before he could say ‘I want milk’, but this morning he said -

I want the fluffy blankie.

Shit. I’d put it away. In Kiki’s room.

I said gently, No darling, it’s sleepy time now, we’ll get the fluffy blankie out of Kiki’s room in the morning. Stay in bed until it’s light outside. Night night.

I WANT THE FLUFFIE BLANKIE, shrieked my little dictator, (and I’m sure I heard a German accent – is that reference kosher? Probably not.)

A few things ran through my mind, and of course, I know I should have stood my ground, but all hell would have broken loose, everyone would have been crying and up for the day and I just wasn’t ready for that shit.

So, Mini Despot got his blankie.

And I got half and hour more sleep.

Was it worth it?


Another one were having currently is over tomato sauce. Boy has discovered the joy of the tangy, sweet/sour condiment from the Heinz Gods, and I agree that some foods must have sauce. A pie, fish and chips, hell, even shepard’s pie, but not everything to cross the dinner table needs to be doused.

Broccoli, for instance, does not need sauce.

I put my foot down over this one, and I put it down good.

Perhaps it’s easier to stand my ground in the light of day……thankfully, these little sausage rolls a begging to be loved with sauce.

When it came to these, Boy had his way.

sausage rolls fresh from the ovenHealthy Mini Sausage Rolls

Yield : 25, depending on how big you make them

What you will need :

  • 350g pork
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 zucchini, finely grated
  • 1/2 carrot, finely grated
  • 2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3 sheets ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk
  • sesame and poppy seeds
  • sauce to serve

What you need to do :

Preheat oven to 200C

Place your fennel and mustard seeds in a dry frypan over a medium heat and toast until lightly golden and fragrant. Pop into a mortar and pestle and give them a good bashing.

Lightly fry your onion until it is translucent.

Toss your pork, veges and onion and spices into a bowl and mix together thoroughly. Season well.

Cut your sheet of pastry into three equal slices and using a tablespoon to measure out your mixture, roll up your little sausage rolls until the mixture is finished.

Brush rolls with egg yolk and sprinkle with the seeds, before popping them into the oven until they are golden brown – about 20 mins.

Serve with sauce, of course.

Homemade sausage rolls

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Pork and Fennel Pasta Bake…..just a little bit fancy

11 Dec

pork and fennel ing Out here in the Boondocks there are not so many great restaurants. I guess after living in Sydney’s dining epicentre, we were always headed for gustatory disappointment moving to the ‘burbs, but we live in hope, because even sub-urbanites need to eat, right?

For my birthday, back in July (July 7th, feel free to send gifts, money and/or champagne), Mister H and I ventured forth to one of the most expensive and well known dining spots in our locality – Black Water.

People had talked it up as one of the best, if not THE best restaurant in these here parts, and my man thought he’d give me a little birthday treat.

Let me preface this by saying, we don’t mind paying for great food, and great service is always such a delight…..did we experience this here?

Not so much.

The service was a tad underwhelming and the food was, well, it most certainly wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as great as the price would suggest.

One of the things we ordered was a pork ragout and something timbale. I thought that sounded interesting. I have an extensive experience in fine dining as I worked in about a gazillion great restaurants, so I know the lingo. I knew what to expect when I see the word timbale, but what I didn’t expect was pasta bake.

With a fancy name.

pork and fennel dex

That was a tad well-done and over-caramelised on the edges……..burnt pasta bake.


Mister H tried brains, they were ok if you’re into that kind of thing (I’m so not), and the mains were good. Dessert was by far my favourite with an apple tarte tartin and some kind of yummy ice-cream (it was a while ago, I’ve eaten a few meals since!), but I will never forget that regrettable pasta bake.

I thought today I’d show those guys how to make an uptown pasta bake.

pork and fennel to cook

Yield : 6 serves

What you will need :

  • 120g speck or bacon, chopped
  • 600g minced pork
  • 1 spanish onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 350g penne pasta, or whatever shape floats your boat
  • 420g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 red capsicum, sliced
  • 1/2 cup red wine, or white if that’s all you have
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 heaped teaspoon fennel seeds
  • a good handful of fresh herbs like parsley, and/or oregano
  • 100g cheese, grated

If you want to go right uptown, you can add a layer of béchamel. Black Water did not…..nor did I this time, but I have before.

This time I just did a super thin layer of simple white sauce, flavoured only with a bay leaf.

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • a cup and a half of milk
  • a bay leave
  • salt and pepper

Melt butter in saucepan, add flour and stir. Leave to cook for a few seconds. Add milk and whisk to ensure no lumps. Toss in bay leaf and season and continue whisking until it thickens to coat the back of a spoon.

pork and fennel fini

What to do :

Fry up onion and garlic in a large heavy based pan. When translucent, add your speck and cook until fragrant and a little browned. Add your fennel seeds.

Toss in your pork and stir until cooked through. Throw in your capsicum, tomatoes, tomato paste and wine. Stir well to combine.

Chuck in your herbs and season to taste. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer with a lid on for about half an hour until sauce is thick and rich.

Meanwhile, pop on a pot of salted water and getting it to a rolling boil. Add your pasta and cook according to packet instructions.

Drain pasta and toss it into your finished sauce. Toss well to ensure all is well coated and throw into your oven dish

I did a really quick little white sauce that was about half the amount described in my bechemel recipe as I only wanted a thin layer rather than a lasagne type layer, but if you want to keep it simple, just throw on some cheese and be done with it.

Bake in the oven on 200C until it is browned and delicious looking.

Take that Black Water……that’s how you do an uptown pasta bake.

pork and fennel dex 2


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Pass the Pig…..American Style Pork Ribs.

27 Nov

Anyone who knows Sydney will know Hurricanes ribs.

Their flagship restaurant is down in Bondi and I have spent many a summer’s evening getting a rack of pork ribs, smothered in Monkey Gland sauce (sounds so wrong, but it tastes so right), taking them over to the grassy edge of Bondi Beach to devour those delicious, sweet, smokey ribs and washing it all down with a long-neck of Cooper’s Green ale whilst watching the surfers catch waves in the last of the day’s rays, my hands and face all glistening brown with the delectable mess.

I used to love living at Bondi Beach.

I lived there for many years. It was the kind of place that you go out for a loaf of bread and you’d get home three days later. I used to always keep a toothbrush in my handbag because you never knew what adventures you were going to have…….was it Bondi Beach, or was it just youth?
These days I can’t leave home without a nappy bag and child kit the size of freakin’ Texas, and social events are planned at least a week in advance……who is this imposter???

When I go to Bondi now, and I’m happy that I don’t live there any longer. I just smile at all the young and fabulous actor/model/designer wannabes.

I smile because they’re invincible. I smile because their butt is hanging out of their pants; the guys from the top, and the girls from the bottom.

I smile because I used to be them.

I wonder if some ex-Bondi, yummy-mummy ever came in from the ‘burbs and smiled at me dancing on a pub table with a lampshade on my head?

Probably. ‘Tis the circle of life, no?

I wouldn’t want to live there again. Nowadays, I just see dirty streets, with piles of used, dumped furniture left lying around, and run-down apartment blocks that owners refuse to fix because they know that people will pay the exorbitant rents regardless of peeling paint and carpet that your feet sticks to.
The cafe scene is totally happening and the bars are really cool, but seeing as I’m barely happening or cool these days, it’s a moot point!

Anyway, I really miss those ribs.

I’ve cooked ribs a couple of times but usually used a bought marinade that claims to be ‘Down-Home Southern Style Seriously Good Rib Sauce’ or some such. I knew I needed to venture into the land of the Monkey Gland and find something that would ease the longing for Hurricanes and transport all who gnawed the bones to the grass of Bondi, if only for a minute, with the laughter of ghosts of backpackers and D-grade actors past tinkling in our ears.

Did these do it? Were they the ‘down-home’ pig ribs I was hankering for?

Well, butter my ass and call me a biscuit…..yes, sir, they were all that and more. A hushed voice at my table even muttered the words, with a mouthful of rib,

‘Better than Hurricanes’.

I ordered American style pork ribs at the Vietnamese butcher and they went away and cut them for me. There was a moment of panic when I pulled them out of the bag at home and they were long sides of pork belly. Totally wrong for this.

But I was committed. I removed a slab of belly, and retained the ribby goodness and got a’marinating those little puppies.

This is how it went -

Yield : 2-3 whole racks of ribs, for 4-6 people

What you will need :

  • 2-3 full rack pork/lamb ribs (for me, the only rib is pig)
  •  2 large alfoil roasting trays (turkey size) and a basting brush

For the marinade :

  • 1 cup of Brown sugar
  • 1 onion
  • 2 big cloves garlic
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup of Coca- Cola (full strength) (buy 2 litre bottle, rest is used for cooking)
  • ½ cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Worstershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic
  • 2 tablespoons smokey paprika
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • salt and pepper

Put your onion and garlic and rosemary into a food processor and blitz to a fine paste.

Chuck all other ingredients into a bowl and throw in your onion paste. Stir well to combine.

Put ribs in roasting pan with half the marinade and leave to marinate overnight.

This part can totally be done in the oven, if you so desire, but it was a stinking hot day so outside was better for me….also, you do get a bit of a BBQ flavour throughout the meat if it’s done in the BBQ. Heat up BBQ with lid / Webber to constant 120-150 degrees with lid down.

Place ribs in BBQ but not on direct heat. I had the grill on with the ribs sitting on the plate next to it.

Pour remainder of 2 litre coke into roasting pan until ribs are fully submerged. Cover with foil and punch about half a dozen holes in it.

Cook for 5 hours at no more than 150 degrees. Your juice will barely boil, if at all, and mine did not seem to reduce much at all.

Take rib tray off BBQ and fire up grill section to blazing hot. Put ribs on grill and baste with remaining marinade (don’t be shy with slapping on the marinade)

Turn ribs every 5 mins and keep on basting generously. Do this for about 30 minutes until marinade caramelises and a sticky, gooey, gorgeous crust forms.

Remove from grill and tuck in….ensuring you get the full ‘smile’ of rib sauce.

Our buddies picking lettuce from the vege garden…..

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On Honeymoon With a Superstar….Vietnamese Pork with Coconut Rice

18 Aug viet pork fini

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to hang out with Brad Pitt at a Brad Pitt Appreciation Convention, then you could simply take a blond haired, blue-eyed baby to Vietnam to get the gist of the mania. Luckily, we didn’t have twins or it would have been akin to traveling with the Beatles and I don’t know if I could handle having undies thrown at me on my honeymoon.

D Man had the honour of accompanying Mister H and I on our ‘month of honey’ when he was 9 months old. It was a little less like mead moon and a little more like Bia Hanoi but D Man refrained for the most part, sticking to breast milk, possibly occasionally tainted with a touch of said Hanoi nectar.

I had traveled in Thailand when I was a stinky backpacker, and I’d also been to many of the Indonesian islands but Vietnam had been high on my itinerary wish list for a rong rong time….it seemed the perfect time to go, as we were heading to Holland for a white Christmas and it was practically on the way……and it was OUR HONEYMOON.

It really was like traveling with a superstar. People would come running to touch him, grab him out of our arms, once even reefing him off my shoulders practically decapitating me in the process. The kid was a hit.
He was a bit of a reluctant hero though. I dare say the experience was somewhat overwhelming as ‘personal space’ is not a commonly used term in most not-quite-third world countries.

We tried to protect the little fellow from too much man-handling. We found him safest in his backpack, but a kid cannot spend an entire three weeks in a backpack. Besides, it squashed his nuts.

He was a brilliant travel companion, and I thoroughly recommend inviting your children to your honeymoon. If you don’t have children, don’t take someone else’s though because they do cramp your style somewhat (i.e. bonking romance is not the same with imminent squawking, or wakeful babies). Just a little warning.

The food in Vietnam was awesome. It not as chilli-burn-your-face-off as Thailand (although I do love that), and I just adore the big, fresh flavours.
This recipe was inspired by our trip, or more accurately, a desire to eat Vietnamese without taking off my slippers and getting a babysitter. It’s not totally authentic, because I made it up, and I’m not Vietnamese, but it hit the spot.
This would be awesome with a couple of birds-eye chillies chopped into the meat, but I was serving it to D Man – who enjoyed it considerably more than the kofte, thanks for asking.

Yield : 4 serves

You will need :

For pork -

  • 500g pork
  • 5 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass, white part only chopped and bashed (I found a jar in the fridge and used that. If you don’t have it or can’t find it, use a little lemon zest, or omit. It’s not make or break.)
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shao Xing wine, or sherry
  • 1 handful chopped coriander
  • 1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

For coconut rice -

  • 1.5 cups Jasmine rice
  • 1.5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1.5 cups coconut milk
  • 2 bunches Chinese greens, to serve

Put your rice on first as this will take half an hour to cook. Aim to get the rest done and cooked in that time…..or turn your rice off.
Throw rice ingredients into a heavy passed pot with a lid. You could chuck it into the oven on 180C for half and hour, or you can get it to the boil on the stove, then turn it right down and pop it on a diffuser if you need to….Do not stir. Just ignore it for half an hour, or until liquid is evaporated. Turn of an leave to sit, especially if it looks gluggy. Sitting will be good for it.

Throw all of your pork ingredients into a bowl and give it a good mix with your hands. Remove your wedding rings first cos getting this out of the grooves is not cool.
Using tablespoon sized portions, roll into balls and give them a little pat to flatten.
I cooked mine on the BBQ but you could pan fry or grill. Whatever floats your boat.

Steam your greens giving them a nice drizzle with oyster sauce, or soy, plus some sesame oil and maybe a squeeze of lemon.

Serve it all together and throw some of those tasty little fried onions that you get from the Asian supermarket. I bloody love those crunchy, little morsels.

Take a little walk down memory lane with me….I loved hunting these photos down. That’s the arse about hard drives. Pictures aren’t as present as they used to be.

Sticky Marmalade and Mustard Pork with Pears

29 May sticky pork

We are getting out this week….as I vowed we would. After we Jived, we joined some buddies for a coffee and one of the ladies had made my Carrot and Ginger cupcakes. She gave me one to try and that little cupcake was deee-licious. Made even more so by the fact that I had solid evidence that someone was enjoying my recipes, and I ate cake not made by me! It’s like the ‘Cup of Tea Phenomenon’….you know how tea always tastes better when someone else made it?
I never did work out why that is. Please do remember, dear reader, if you ever need a taste tester, I’m only too happy to oblige – geography permitting, of course.

Anyway, down to business. Pork loves fruit. More so than any other protein, in my opinion. Whether it’s dried apricots, apple sauce or peach salsa, the sweetness of the fruit truly compliments the sweet, pork meat. This is another one tray hit that I’ve been making for years. You can mess around with the vegetables that you roast in there but you gotta have the pear. The buttery, marmalade stickiness with the pork and pear are really quite the combo. I’ve found that this combination of flavours really works though, so maybe stick to this the first time if you have the ingredients.

This is not so much for the kidlets today, but there is certainly nothing in there that they can’t eat.

I serve this with roast, smashed potatoes dotted with fennel seeds. Fennel is another dear friend of the pig. I also serve it with steamed green beans for the green factor.

Yeild : 2 adults

You will need :

  • 1 red onion
  • 1/2 large fennel bulb, cut into wedges
  • 1 large pear, quartered and deseeded
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and cut into wedges
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 pieces of pork fillet, cutlets or medallions
  • 2 big tablespoons marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon Hot English Mustard
  • 2 level tablespoons of butter, melted
  • green beans for serving
  • potatoes for serving

Preheat oven to 220C.
Place the onion, fennel, parsnip and pear into a baking dish and season. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 15 minutes. In a hot frying pan quickly sear the pork for a minute or two minutes on each side. Combine the marmalade, butter and mustard in a bowl and mix together. Place pork on top of your roasting tray and spoon the marmalade mixture over the lot. Roast the pork for about 10 minutes for fillet, and 8 minutes for cutlets or medallions, or until pork is caramelised and cooked through. Pork should be served with a little blush of pink in it, not grey and pallid.


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