Category Archives: Healthy Recipes

SPECIAL THAI PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE

Thai pineapple fried rice

Thai pineapple fried rice

 

When you have leftover canned pineapple and rice, what could you prepare? Fried rice, I hear you say. Well…why not transform ordinary fried rice into something special? Thai pineapple fried rice is the perfect answer. Throw in some prawns and voila! You have a dish to impress your guests. It’s not as difficult as you think. A short cut method and cooking trick is to use Thai red curry paste in a bottle. My favourite is Ayam brand which is not a challenge to find. Woolworths and Coles have them in stock.

Ingredients

leftover rice

6 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 onion, sliced

1 cm ginger, chopped

200g shelled prawns

1 red capsicum, diced

canned pineapples, diced

pineapple juice

2 tsp dried shrimp, made into a paste

2 tbsp. Thai red curry paste

2 tbsp. green peas

A handful of cashew nuts

pepper

cucumber for garnishing

Method

1. Put your pan to a high heat and add oil.

2. Fry prawns till cooked and put them aside.

3. Next, lightly fry the cashews and leave them aside.

4. Heat oil in a wok and fry onions, ginger and garlic.

5. Add pineapples and green peas and mix well.

6. Add in shrimp paste and Thai red curry paste and dilute the paste with pineapple juice from the can.

7. Add the rice and mix well.

8. Add cashews and mix them into the rice before serving.

9. Garnish rice with coriander and add cucumber on the side.  

There you have it – special fried rice. The pineapple, shrimp paste and Thai curry paste create an explosion of taste, transporting you to the land of smiles. The cashews introduce an interplay of texture and crunch while the cucumber as well as coriander provide a refreshing after taste and cools off the heat.

 

UDON NOODLES IN MUSHROOM SOUP

udon noodles

 

udon noodles in mushroom soup

 

The weather has been dreary since last week’s terrible storm. The drop in temperature has triggered my cravings for soupy dishes. Today seems like a suitable day to prepare soup noodles – comfort food in the middle of autumn. I’m tempted to prepare udon noodles in mushroom soup. For this dish, I need a medium-sized saucepan and a frying pan, one for the soup and the latter for light frying. Fresh seafood can be used in the dish but I choose to lightly fry fish balls instead. 

Ingredients

1 packet udon noodles

1 onion, sliced

1 inch ginger, chopped

5 cloves,garlic, chopped

1 green chilli, sliced

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

2 bak choy, sliced

100g cup mushrooms, sliced

1 packet shitake mushrooms, sliced

1/2 packet fish balls

250 g vegetable stock

 2 cups water

1/2 cube anchovy stock

pepper

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

cooking oil

For garnish 

fried shallots 

1 sprig spring onions, chopped

 

Method

Prior to soup preparation, soften udon noodles in boiling water. Drain noodles after 2-3 minutes. 

1. In a saucepan, heat oil and fry onions till soft and transparent. 

2. Add garlic, ginger and green chili and fry for a minute. 

3. Add mushrooms till they soften. Add 1/2 anchovy stock, crush it and mix it well. Add a little water. 

4. Let the ingredients simmer for another 3 mins. Cover saucepan with a lid. 

5. Once the mushroom juice has oozed out, add vegetable stock and water. 

6. Add pepper, dried chilli flakes and soy sauce for taste and mix well. 

7. Heat oil in a frying pan. Add thawed fish balls and fry them lightly. 

8. Remove the fish balls and leave aside. 

9. In the same pan, add chopped bak choy and oyster sauce. Mix well. 

10. Add pepper to taste. 

To serve

Place noodles in a bowl. Add bak choy and fish balls. Scoop up soup with a ladle and pour over the ingredients. Then, garnish with spring onions and fried shallots for added taste and texture. 

After thoughts

If you prefer to have additional protein in your dish, introducing hard boiled egg to the dish is an option. Add more chilli flakes or fresh red chillies for that added kick. Udon noodles work better in a stir fry dish as they cling well to the sauce used in cooking. However, when prepared in soup, the noodles may be a little bland. Hence to counteract this, the soup has to be spicy. Best served hot, this is one nutritious dish you should try in winter or on a damp, rainy day. 

EXOTIC SPINACH AND CHEESE PIE

exotic spinach and cheese pie

exotic spinach and cheese slice

I have tried my hands at baking spinach and cheese pie as well as triangles many times before. Just recently, I came to learn from a friend that adding tahini (sesame seed paste) would enhance the flavour of the pie. So a few days ago, I reinvented my spinach and cheese pie by adding tahini. I must say that adding the paste gave some depth to the flavour. Since tahini is used in Middle Eastern, Greek and Turkish cuisine, I have named the pie ‘Exotic Spinach and Cheese Pie’ in order not to confuse it with the standard pie. You may also be interested in trying out my Spinach and Three Cheeses Pie which is also special as the three kinds of cheeses create a complex cheesy flavour. As an after thought, adding some fish stock to the pie mixture would have enhanced the taste further. I have added this to the ingredients list for this recipe although I didn’t use it in my pie. 

Ingredients 

3 sheets filo pastry

1 onion, sliced

100g fresh spinach

1 packet, frozen spinach

10g margarine, melted

250g ricotta cheese

1/2 cup vintage cheddar cheese, grated 

2 eggs

3 tbsp tahini

3 tbsp fish stock

cooking oil

pepper 

1 tbsp chia seeds

Method

1. Grease casserole with melted margarine.

2. Heat oil in a pan and caramalise onions. 

3. Heat frozen spinach in a microwave. Set aside to cool. 

4. In a big bowl, mix both types of spinach, ricotta, grated cheddar and 1 whisked egg. Add tahini, fish stock and pepper to the mixture. 

5. Place 1 filo sheet at the bottom and sides of the casserole and spread the caramalised onions on it.

6. Pour the mixture from the bowl and even it out. 

7.  Add the last filo sheet on top and fold in the sides. 

8. Glaze the top with egg wash.

9. Sprinkle the top with chia seeds.

9. Bake the pie at 180 degrees for 50 mins. 

exotic spinach and cheese pie

I use Mainland Vintage cheddar for its sharp flavour. The ricotta will balance out the overall cheesy taste. For an added twist, I sprinkled chia seeds for added texture and of course to take advantage of its nutritional value. It’s best to let the pie cool after removing it from the oven before serving. It is quite an easy dish to prepare despite the grating of the cheddar. Enjoy! 

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN SHORT CRUST PASTRY

curry puff

short crust pastry

 

If you’d like to bake apple or potato puff pastry, you’d be met with two options. One is to use commercial short crust pastry, the other is to prepare your own. While using commercial pastry is an easy option that doesn’t require much time and effort, making your own short crust pastry is actually the more satisfying choice. Home-made pastry is healthier as you can control the ingredients that make up the pastry. You can add less butter or margarine, less salt and forgo the preservatives and colouring that are synonymous to store-bought pastry. 

The result is guilt-free eating. You may be surprised at how easy it is to prepare your own pastry. It is truthfully more messy and time-consuming to prepare but the outcome is worth the time and effort. The trick is to prepare extra so you can freeze what is not needed now to be used later. This will save time. 

Ingredients 

500g plain flour

1 tbsp salt

150 g to 200 g margarine

1 to 2 cups water 

Method 

1. Pour plain flour into a big mixing bowl. 

2. Add salt and mix the ingredients.

3. Cut margarine into cubes. Rub the margarine into the flour until the texture is fine and less crumbly. 

4. Add water gradually to form a dough. 

5. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle some plain flour onto it to make rolling easier. 

6. Roll the dough till the thickness is just right.

7. Use round moulds to shape the dough and prepare it for the filling process. 

 

You can add any filling that takes your fancy to each circular shaped dough: potatoes, carrots, peas, meat, apple etc. The list goes on. You may want to egg wash each filled pastry to prepare them for baking. Have a go at it and enjoy the fruits of your labour! 

SIMPLE EGG CURRY SANDWICH

curry sandwich

When you’re stuck about what to bring to a picnic or at a cabin stay, think of something egg-based. Eggs are not only nutritious but is delicious and fills you up quickly. One important and portable ingredient in this simple yet delicious sandwich is curry powder which gives off an earthy flavour and subtle fragrance of spices. 

In this instance, I’d like to recommend preparing curry egg sandwich which can be enjoyed by the family.

Image result for curry egg sandwich

Here are the ingredients you’d need:

4 eggs, boiled and mashed

lettuce leaves

1 1/2 tbsp curry powder

1 tbsp plain low-fat yogurt

margarine 

pepper and salt to taste

Bread slices 

Method

1. Boil eggs in a pan till hard-boiled. 

2. Peel the eggs and mash them in a separate bowl. 

3. Add curry powder and yogurt and  blend in thoroughly.

4. Add pepper and salt to the egg mixture.

5. Put a lettuce leaf on each bread slice. 

6. Spread some margarine on each bread slice. 

7. Spread the egg mixture on the lettuce leaf on each bread slice. 

8. Make sandwiches and cut them into halves. 

The yogurt serves to bind the egg curry together as well as add moisture. This sandwich can be served as finger food at any gathering or casual outing. The key to the recipe is to get the right kind of curry powder. Add chopped coriander in the curry mixture for colour and added flavour. Enjoy! 

SAVOURY MUSHROOM, SPINACH AND CHICKEN PARCELS

SAVOURY CHEESE AND SPINACH PARCELS

SAVOURY CHEESE AND SPINACH PARCELS

There are days that I crave for finger food. These cravings usually occur on the weekends, when pockets of time are available for creative hands-on sessions like baking. I decided to include mushroom, spinach and chicken in this recipe for contrast in flavour and texture. Instead of frozen spinach, I opted for fresh ones and added caramelised onions for a hint of sweetness. 

Ingredients 

2 tsp grape seed oil

250g fresh spinach

1 big onion, sliced 

pepper to taste

3 tbsp soy sauce 

mushrooms, sliced

250g chicken breast, diced

frozen green peas, 1/2 cup

puff pastry sheets 

20g butter, for greasing

1 egg for glazing

Method

1. Pre-heat oven at 180 degrees Celsius. 

2. Thaw frozen puff pastry sheets 

3. Slice one onion and fry in a pan till caramelised.  

4. Add chicken and cook it well. Then pour in soy sauce for taste.  

5. Once chicken is cooked, add in spinach and green peas and pepper to taste. Mix ingredients well. 

6. Leave aside to cool. 

7. Grease baking tin with melted butter. 

8. Cut pastry into 4 to 9 squares, depending on preference. 

9. Spread the cooked mixture on each pastry square.

10. Brush whisked egg on the sides of each pastry square to facilitate sealing.

11. Take another pastry sheet and cut the same number of squares.

12. Take each square and place it gently on top of each piled square so it covers the ingredients securely. 

13. Glaze each parcel with egg wash and place the baking tray in the oven for 20-25 mins.

14. Remove the baking tray from the oven once parcels have turned golden brown. 

15. Cool parcels on a cooling rack before serving. 

Shitake mushrooms provide better flavour compared to ordinary button mushrooms as they have a deep earthy flavour. Alternatively, you can substitute them with white button mushrooms. The parcels are best eating warm. If you prepare excess parcels, don’t bake them all. Put a few unbaked ones aside and store them in the freezer. They come in handy for a busy weekday snack or when unexpected guests come knocking at the door. Unbaked parcels can keep for up to a month. 

VEGETABLE AND CALAMARI STIR FRY PASTA

calamari and vegetable stir fry pasta

 

Vegetable stir fry pasta

 

Pasta is an interesting staple that can be cooked various ways. The traditional pasta is usually cooked using tomato as a base. If you are up for something different, think of stir fry vegetables and seafood and toss in your favourite pasta. It is not only simple to prepare but also satisfies the tastebuds.

 

Ingredients

1 packet pasta

1 onion, sliced

120g broad beans, whole 

200g mushrooms, sliced

4 tomatoes, sliced

baby corn, halved

calamari, sliced

cashews, whole

cooking oil

pepper

salt

cayenne pepper, 1 tsp

2 tbsp. oyster sauce

1/3 cup vegetable stock

 

stir fry pasta

 

Method

1. Cook pasta in salted boiling water. Drain when el dente and set aside.

2. Heat cooking oil in a pan. Cook calamari and set aside.

3. In a separate saucepan, heat cooking oil. Cook onions till transparent in medium heat.

3. Add mushrooms and cook till they sweat.

4. Add broad beans, baby corn and tomatoes. Leave them to cook for 3 minutes.

5. Pour cooked calamari and its juice into the pan together with the other ingredients. Sir well.

6. Add cashews and season with pepper and oyster sauce.

7. Add vegetable stock and let the sauce thicken by letting it simmer.

8. Add cooked pasta and mix it well with the other ingredients.

9. Add cayenne pepper and a bit more pepper to taste.

 

Explore using various pasta such as rotini (spirals), conchiglie (shell pasta), farfalle or penne. This dish makes a delicious, wholesome meal for dinner. Calamari can be substituted with prawns or scallops. Enjoy!

GOURMET SANDWICH IDEAS UNDER $5

sandwich

 

 

Walk into a deli or a café and you will be greeted by a delectable selection of sandwiches and rolls all neatly arranged in the glass display cases. A closer look at the prices will reveal that each sandwich costs about $8 on average, more so when rustic or artisan bread like Ciabatta, Panini, bagel, baguette or rye. Add a handful of fries or potato wedges and a cupful of plain salad, the price is increased to $10.

Now do the Mathematics. If you eat at least one sandwich bought from the deli everyday, at least $160 is drawn out of your pocket per month. That adds up to $1920 a year. You can cut down the amount spent for lunch by half by trying out the following ideas.

The supermarket offers a variety of choices for a nutritious home-made gourmet sandwich. Artisan bread like Panini or rustic bread like rye or multi grains like linseed and soy bread can be bought for an average of $4. The shelf life of the loaf, compared to normal commercial bread, is 3 to 4 days on average. Cheese can be a tasty and nutritious base for a sandwich. So if you buy a packet of sliced cheese, this can last for up to 2 weeks.

For the more adventurous, look for spreads such as mustard or low fat mayonnaise or even dips such as avocado, baba ganoush (I have tried this in my sandwich and trust me, it tastes so good with cheese and salami), guacamole or humus. Add in some fungi like mushroom or vegetables like zucchini or even fruit like tomato or avocado or alternate your filling with salami, you have a gourmet sandwich that costs an average of $4 each. What’s wonderful about homemade sandwich is that you can even double your lunch if you choose to and still slash your lunch expenses by half.

Discounting the fact that you may need to have to lunch out for formal or informal meetings, you can still save a lot on the days you eat in. The added bonus is, you get to control what you eat by eating healthily.

Baba Ganoush Sandwich

Ingredients

Rye bread
Sliced Cheddar Cheese
Baba Ganoush Dip
Sliced zucchini

Method

Spread baba ganoush lightly on each piece of rye bread
Add a slice of cheddar cheese
Cover the cheese slice with sliced zucchini

For variation, add salami, salmon, sautéed mushrooms or sliced avocado or tomato

Do check out upcoming recipes for quick, simple yet delicious sandwiches that pack a punch.

DELICIOUS HOME-MADE CURRY NOODLES

hokkien curry noodles

 

2014-06-16 17.30.17

Noodles can be versatile. It can be cooked in any sauce or gravy. It can be tomato-based, seeped in soy, soaked in noodles or even cooked in curry. Yes…you heard it right! Curry is not just for naan dips or eaten with rice. Try out this recipe. It is so good, you’d go for a second helping. It is packed with lots of ingredients and uses tasty Hokkien noodles, which are yellow egg noodles. These can be found in supermarkets or Asian stores.

Ingredients

cooking oil

1 packet Hokkien noodles

1 onion, sliced

1 cup fish ball, cut in quarters

6-7 curry leaves

1 tbsp cumin seeds

spring onions, sliced

bean sprouts

bak choy, sliced

curry powder, 4 tbsp

garam masala, 2 tsp

coconut milk, 1 can

vegetable stock, 3 cups

yoghurt, 2 tbsp

salt

3 fresh chillies, sliced

fried shallots for garnishing

Method

1. Soften Hokkien noodles in hot water for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan and fry onions till transparent.

3. Add in cumin and curry leaves. Fry curry leaves till slightly brown.

3. Add fish balls and cook till slightly brown.

4. Add in the chillies and then the curry powder.

5.Mix the ingredients and add garam masala.

6. Add coconut milk and vegetable stock.

7. Blend mixture with wooden spoon.

8. Add salt to taste. Let the curry simmer for 5 minutes over medium heat.

9. Then add yoghurt and mix well.

10. Let the curry simmer over low heat for 20 minutes to infuse the flavour.

11. Add half of spring onions in the curry and mix well.

12. Simmer the curry for another 5 minutes before serving.

13. Add noodles in a bowl. Top it up with bak choy and bean sprouts.

14. Spoon the curry with cooked ingredients into the bowl of noodles.

15. Garnish with fried shallots.

This dish is definitely a winter comfort food. You can choose to thicken the curry by simmering for about an hour on low heat to further infuse the flavour for a more tasty outcome. Add prawns or tofu or even fish as an alternative. Enjoy!

TASTY SALMON WITH SPECIAL WHITE BEAN PUREE AND STIR FRY VEGETABLES

special salmon and white bean puree with stir fry vegetables

 

 

special salmon and white bean puree with stir fry vegetables

Salmon can be cooked in many interesting ways and it really also depends on what goes in the marinade. For this dish, I added zest using paprika, cayenne pepper and garlic to bring the dish to a whole new level. I’ll let you in on a little secret. This dish is inspired by the swordfish with white bean puree served at the Tea Gardens Boatshed in Hawks Nest, 2 and 1/2 hours away from Sydney. The dish is divine – the swordfish is cooked to perfection and is served with creamy smooth  and mild white bean puree with vegetables on the side. I vowed to try the white bean puree at home as I have been looking for an ideal accompaniment for my fish dishes. This one proves to be the one I was looking for. So, last night, I prepared a fish and vegetable dish using my own recipe and tried my hands at the white bean puree, giving it a bit of a twist. My advice is to roast the garlic before blending them with the beans to mute the strong and sharp garlic taste.

Ingredients

cooking oil

1 slab fresh salmon

Fish marinade

1 tbsp. tumeric

1 tbsp. chilli powder

1 tbsp. soy

White bean puree

1 large onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 can Cannellini beans

1 tbsp. olive oil

juice from half lemon

50g vegetable stock

Vegetables

half onion, sliced

1 cup baby spinach

2 portobello mushrooms, sliced

pepper

2 tsp Worchester sauce

1 carrot, sliced

peas

1 tsp. sweet paprika

crushed walnuts

Method

1. Marinade the fish by coating it with turmeric,  chilli powder and soy sauce. Leave aside for about an hour.

2. Fry the fish in hot cooking oil and remove when cooked.

3. Heat oil in pan and cook onions till caramelised. Remove and place onions in a food processor.

4. Add garlic and lightly roast them. Remove and add them to the food processor.

5. Add Cannellini beans, olive oil, lemon juice and vegetable stock to the mixture and blend well till smooth. Stir in mixture repeatedly till all ingredients blend well.

6.  Scoop the puree out and set aside.

7. Cook carrots and peas in microwave and set aside.

8. Add remainder of onions in hot cooking oil and cook till caramelised.

9. Add spinach and season with pepper and Worchester sauce.

10. Remove and set aside.

11. Sautee mushrooms in hot oil.

12. Let mushrooms sweat and add paprika and crushed walnuts. Remove and set aside.

Serve the dish by placing the mushrooms in the middle of the plate first. Then, place the spinach on top of the mushrooms. Gently place the fish on top most layer. Add carrots and peas on one side. Then, add a generous dollop of puree on the other. The result is a colourful, scrumptious dish with a lot of zing. It is a dish to prepare on weekends for something different yet flavoursome and satisfying.