Food For Four

Thai Chicken Basil Stir Fry

Posted on | June 23, 2015 | Asian Recipes, Quick Meal, Recipes | No Comments

Thai Basil Chicken

Stir fries are super simple and super fast to make; they are perfect for quick weeknight meal options. Seriously, you can whip up a stir fry as quick as 15 minutes. Stir fries are great when you want to get more vegetables intake into your day. It’s also a great dish to make when you want to clean out the fridge.

My favourite weeknight dish is chicken stir fry with basil and chillies. This is a dish that we love at our local Thai restaurant and now it’s something that I make regularly at home for the family to enjoy. This is my go to dish when we come home late from the kids’ activities and I have to whip up dinner really quickly. The beautiful fragrance of the basil and the heat from the chillies really lifted this chicken stir fry. I add the green beans and capsicum to make the dish more complete. Serve this stir fry with a fried egg and jasmine rice and the whole family will be happy. Enjoy!

Thai Chicken Basil Stir Fry Recipe

Serves 4


400g chicken mince
350g green beans
1 red capsicum
4 cloves of garlic
1 large shallot
4 chillies (you can add more if you like a bit more heat)
4 eggs for frying
2 tablespoons oil
2-3 tablespoons non-salted chicken stock or water
about 25 basil leaves

Stir fry seasoning

1 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon grounded white pepper


In a small bowl, add the stir fry seasoning and stir until sugar dissolved. Taste the seasoning sauce. Adjust the seasoning according to own taste.

If serving with fried eggs, then you’ll need to fry your eggs first and set aside.

Pound the chillies, garlic and shallot together in a pestle and mortar until you get a coarse paste.

In a wok, heat up oil over medium heat. Add the paste and fry until fragrant.

Add the chicken mince to the wok and break it up with a spatula into small pieces.

Add the seasoning spoonfuls at a time to the meat. Leave about 2 spoonfuls of seasoning for later. Once the meat is cooked transfer to a large bowl.

Turn the heat to high, using the same wok, add the green beans, rest of the seasoning and the stock/water (to get steam so the beans cook). Let the beans cook for about 3 minutes constantly gently stirring. Add the capsicum. Allow to cook for another 2 minutes. Add the cooked chicken mince to the wok and stir through with the beans and capsicum. Have a taste and adjust accordingly.

Add the basil leaves and gently fold through until it’s wilted.

Serve with jasmine rice and fried egg.

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Bánh Mì Xíu Mại

Posted on | June 15, 2015 | Asian Recipes, Recipes, Vietnamese Recipes | No Comments

Vietnamese meat balls xui mai

I’m reposting the recipe of my Vietnamese meatballs (xíu mại) with new photos. I love the asian flavours of these meatballs cooked in a delicious tomato sauce. There’s a nice surprise of the crunch from the chestnut with these meatballs. Serving these flavoursome meatballs with rice is so delicious, but it’s so much better to have in a crusty Vietnamese bread roll. Or you can serve the meatballs in bowls and then use the baguette to dip in the delicious sauce and meatballs. Yum!

banh mi xui mai vietnamese meatball sandwich

banh mi xui mai
Bánh Mì Xíu Mại (Vietnamese Meatballs) Recipe

Serves 4-6

1 kg pork mince
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 red Asian shallots, finely chopped
3 green onion, white part only, finely chopped
1 small can water chestnut (220g) or 1 jicama, cut into very small pieces
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
oil for pan frying

Tomato sauce
3 gloves garlic, finely chopped
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 teaspoons sugar

Serving with bread
4 – 6 Vietnamese bread rolls
1/2 bunch coriander, washed
1 cucumber, sliced lengthways
4 spring onions
pickled white radish and carrot
fresh chillies, thinly sliced diagonally (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the pork mince, garlic, shallots, green onions, water chestnuts, egg, sugar, salt, fish sauce and pepper, and mix well with your hands. Form the mixture into 4cm balls then place them on a plate or tray. Place the meatballs into the fridge for at least 30 mins so that it firms up.

Heat up a frying pan, add oil and pan fry the meatballs so that they are brown and charred. They do not need to be fully cooked as doing this will keep their shape. Once they are brown, remove from the pan and place on separate plate.

In a large heavy based saucepan, heat a small amount of oil then add the chopped garlic and fry until fragrant. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil. Add the tomato paste, water, fish sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Then add the meatballs.
Simmer the meatballs for about 25 minutes or until cooked and sauce is reduced.

Taste test and add more seasoning if required. Remove from heat.
Serve meatballs as fillings in a crusty baguette with coriander, cucumber, spring onions, red chillies and pickled radish and carrots. Or serve meatballs with white rice. You could also serve the meatballs in bowls and use baguette to dip the sauce and meatballs.

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Mild Chilli Tofu

Posted on | June 12, 2015 | Asian Recipes, Chinese, Quick Meal, Recipes | No Comments

spicy tofu

Mapo tofu is a very spicy dish of silken tofu, minced pork, chilli bean paste and lots of dried chillies and sichuan peppercorns. This dish is so very spicy that it’s not for the faint hearted. It will leave you huffing and puffing as you feel the sensation of your lips and tongue burning. These days I’m too wimpy to order a dish like mapo tofu when we eat out because I can’t handle the amount of chillies being used.

When I make mapo tofu at home I really do turn down the spiciness so that it’s suitable for the children as well. I really do love the salty flavours of the chilli bean paste with the soft delicate tofu. After the kids get their share I would add some chilli flakes to add a bit more spiciness to mine. Our family really love this tofu dish as its tastes great and also so quick and simple to put together. Honestly, this dish is on constant rotation at our house. I always make sure we have tofu in the fridge because they do last for a couple of weeks. It really is a perfect mid week meal that you can whip up really quick.

mapo tofu

Spicy Tofu Recipe


900g medium firm tofu)
250g minced pork
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbs minced ginger
2 stalks of spring onions, sliced
1 cup water/no-salt chicken stock
3 tbsp chilli bean paste
1 tsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp caster sugar
1 cornflour
1⁄2 tsp sesame oil
1⁄2 tsp chilli flakes*
4 Sichuan pepper* (slightly crushed)


Cut the tofu into large cubes (about 2cm, they usually come in large squares so cut each squares into fours). Add water and tofu into a small saucepan and bring to gentle boil and leave to cook on medium heat for 5 mins. Gently drain the tofu.

Place a wok over high heat. Add the oil and pork mince and stir fry until browned, breaking up the mince with a wooden spoon. Add the spring onion, garlic, ginger, peppercorns (optional) and stir-fry for few seconds. Next add in the rice wine, chilli bean paste and cook until the mixture is aromatic. Add the chicken stock/water, bring to the boil and season with soy sauce and sugar. Gently add the tofu into the wok and carefully work the tofu into the sauce. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes until the sauce has reduced slightly.

In a small bowl add the cornflour with 1 tablespoon water and pour into the sauce. Cook for a further 2 minutes until thickened. Sprinkle with spring onions and stir through so that it’s slightly wilted.

Serve with steamed rice.

* Add if you want to add a little more spiciness. Depending on the brand of chilli bean paste this should already give you some mild spiciness.

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Baked Panko Coconut Prawns

Posted on | June 3, 2015 | Appetiser, Asian Recipes, Quick Meal, Recipes | No Comments

baked coconut shrimp

How scrumptiously irresistible are these crispy panko crusted coconut prawns?

I’m seriously obsessed with anything coated with crunchy panko breadcrumbs. This Japanese-style breadcrumbs really add more texture and crunch to your dishes than the traditional breadcrumbs. Panko crumbs are made from specially made crustless bread and are bigger and drier than normal breadcrumbs. This breadcrumbs made popular from the Japanese dish Tonkatsu. But you can use panko to crumb your schnitzels, fish, seafood, vegetables, arancini as well as a crunchy top on oven baked pasta, casseroles… See why I’m obsessed with panko?

coconut prawns

This panko coconut prawns are a popular combination of flavours, and make a great appetiser. For the more health conscious this version is baked. To give the panko crumbs and coconut extra golden colour, I’ve pan roasted them separately first. The end result is a golden, crunchy and flaky prawns. I didn’t have time to make my own dipping sauce and used bottled sweet chilli sauce, or you can also dip them with Japanese mayo. These prawns are just delicious with an amazing contrasting textures of juicy sweet prawns on the inside and really crunchy crumbs on the outside. Enjoy!

baked coconut prawns

Baked Coconut Prawn Recipe

25 pieces large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup panko
1 cup shredded coconut
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ cup flour
2 eggs
ground black pepper
sweet chilli sauce
coriander as garnish (optional)
wedges of lime (optional)


Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Lined a baking tray with baking paper.

Combine the panko crumbs and shredded coconut in a large bowl, and give the mixture a mix. Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat. Toast the panko and coconut mixture for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Continuously stirring and DO NOT step away. Once the crumbs are golden brown, remove from heat. Spread onto a plate dish to cool down.

Sprinkle salt and pepper over the prawns ensuring to do both sides.

Whisk eggs into a small bowl.

For each prawn, coat with flour and pat off excess flour. Then dip into the egg mixture then coat with the toasted panko and coconut mixture. Press the panko/coconut mixture onto the prawns. Place coated prawns onto the baking tray.

Bake the prawns until the coconut is golden and turn the prawns over. Continue to bake prawns until cooked through and remember to only turn once.

Garnish the prawns with some chopped coriander. Serve the coconut crumbed prawns with sweet chilli sauce.

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Watkins Family Farm Pick Your Own Mandarin and Mushrooms

Posted on | June 1, 2015 | Family Fun, Fruit Picking | No Comments

watkins farm pick your own

The mandarin orchards in Wisemans Ferry opened their farm gates over the weekend for the start of the pick your own mandarin season. On Sunday we set out for a fun day of mandarin picking, even with a bit of light rain did not deter me. During the drive to the orchard the rain got heavier and my husband tried very hard to convince me to turn back home, insisting that we are the only family crazy enough to go fruit picking in the rain.  As it turn out we were not the only crazy family as there were lots of enthusiastic fruit pickers braving the weather at the orchard. I’m sure it would been even busier for not the wet weather.

Pick your own orchards are gaining popularity over the years as it provide a fun family activity and it’s a wonderful way to show children where their food comes from. Since discovering these pick your own orchards, we have made fruit picking as part of our family tradition. We try to make the most of the pick picking season and head out to the orchard several times during the fruit season. It really is a fantastic fun family activity as the kids can run free among the rows of mandarin trees and breathe in that fresh country air. Best of all you get the freshest and juiciest mandarins straight from the trees.

There are three orchards on Singleton Road in Wisemans Ferry and two of them is owned by the Watkins family. We’ve been to two of the orchards (Watkins Orchard and Ford’s Farm) previous years and this year we’ve decided to visit the other Watkins farm for the first time. This is the much bigger orchard of the two Watkins farms with 2100 trees on the property. They usually have mushrooms to pick as well but unfortunately this year they don’t have any. You pay $10 for a bucket and take a wander through the orchard to fill up with mandarins. You can leave a $5 deposit for clippers which are much easier to cut the mandarins from the stalk. The farm also have a large undercover picnic area with tables and chairs for you to use. Love that the farm also have sheep, goats and chickens for the kids to pet and feed. My children were delighted that the sheep and goats ate mandarins!

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pick your own mandarins watkins farm

watkins farm wisemans ferry

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mandarins pick your own

There are three mandarin orchards in Wisemans Ferry.

Watkins Orchard
1125 Singleton Road, Laughtondale (via Wisemans Ferry), NSW, 2775
Weekends 10am-4pm until August, mandarins $10 per bucket
Phone: (02) 4566 3107

Watkins Family Farm
1006 Singleton Road, Laughtondale (via Wisemans Ferry), NSW, 2775
Weekends 10am-4pm until September, mandarins $10 per bucket
Phone: 0418 233 466

Fords Farm
1275 Singleton Road, Laughtondale (via Wisemans Ferry), NSW, 2775
Weekends 10am-4pm until July, $2 per car, mandarins, limes, lemons and oranges $2/kg, cumquats $10/kg
Phone: (02) 4566 3127

Other pick your own mandarins and oranges orchards in Hawksbury area

Anderson Farm
968 Sackville Ferry Rd, Sackville North, NSW, 2576
Mandarins and oranges available
Phone: 02 4579 1120 or 0414 503 955
Call first before coming

Schofields Orchard
42 Yarramundi Lane, Richmond NSW 2753
Sundays 10am-4pm May until October/ November
Phone: 0411 119 701

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