Food For Four

Cold Ramen (Hiyashi Chuka)

Posted on | December 1, 2015 | Asian Recipes, Japanese | No Comments

Hiyashi Chuka

It may be officially Summer today but it felt like Summer started months ago with all those heatwaves we’ve been experiencing. It’s also officially the second hottest Spring on record. Remember only weeks ago the temperatures reached 45°C and that just the temperature in the shade. Imagined being in the sun on that scorching day. I remember we used to have to stay home from school when temperatures reach the forties. Back then classrooms only had fans, but now most schools have air conditioning in all the classrooms. On that extremely hot day the school kids were kept inside the classrooms during lunch to keep cool, even the air conditioning could barely coped in that insane heat. Imagine how popular I’d be if I showed up at each of my kids classrooms with ice blocks that sweltering hot day. I’d win Parent of the Year for sure :P

Cold Ramen

Another scorching hot day today. Hot days like this calls for cold refreshing dish like this cold ramen salad (hiyashi chuka). This is a Japanese cold noodle dish which is so vibrant, flavoursome and easy to put together. Seriously this dish is so easy to make. The toppings I have on my dish are classic toppings with ham, poached chicken, shredded egg crepe, cucumber and corn kernels. But you could also use other toppings like mock crab sticks, carrots, tomatoes, prawns and tofu. Seriously whatever you fancy. But I do recommend you sliced the vegetables really fine. Drizzle the perfectly balanced sesame soy vinegar dressing over the chilled ramen noodles and you’ll have a vibrant and refreshing dish perfect for the summer time. This dish also makes a great lunch box option for the children and keep it chill with an ice pack.

Cold Ramen Hiyashi Chuka

Cold Ramen Hiyashi Chuka

Serves 4

Noodles

500grams Fresh Ramen

Noodle Dressing
6 tablespoons soys sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil

Egg Crepe
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
oil

Topping
1 cucumber, cut into thin strips
4 -5 slices of ham cut into thin strips
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded into pieces
corn kernels

Other Toppings

prawns
imitation crab sticks
blanched bean sprouts
pickled ginger
iceberg lettuce
tomatoes

For garnish
nori seaweed strips
1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds
hot mustard (optional)
red picked ginger (optional)

Method

Noodles dressing. In a small bowl add all the ingredients for the noodle dressing and lightly whisked until the sugar dissolved. Have a taste test and adjust the flavours according to your taste. Cover the bowl and refridgerate.

Egg Crepe. Combine the ingredients of the egg crepe into a medium bowl and whisked until well combined. In a medium frying pan, add oil over medium heat. Once pan is hot pour the egg mixture of the pan. Cook the egg crepe on both sides. Once the egg is cooked transfer to a plate to cool. Once cool, rolled the egg crepe and thinly sliced.

Other Toppings. Cut the cucumber into thin strips. Cut the ham into thin strips. Shred cooked chicken. You can use bbq chicken or poached chicken breast. I used one can of canned corn kernels but you can use fresh corn on the cob. Cook the corn then cut out the kernels.

Cooking Ramen. Bring a large pot to a boil. Separate the ramen noodles as you slowly drop them into the boiling water. Use a chopstick to separate the noodles in the pot. Cook the noodles as per packet instructions. The noodles doesn’t take long to cook (mine took about 1 minute). The noodles should be tender and springy. Pour the noodles over a large colander and run under cold water. Let the noodles drip dry.

Serving. Separate the noodles and place into serving bowls. Arrange the toppings on top of the noodles. Add a couple of spoons of dressing over the noodles and toppings. Spring sesame seeds and garnish with nori seaweed strips. To eat mix the noodles and toppings together. Add more dressing if desired.

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Steamed Chicken with Dry Egg Noodles

Posted on | November 16, 2015 | Asian Recipes, Chinese | No Comments

steamed chicken with dry tossed egg noodles

Hainanese chicken rice is a favourite of my family. We love the simplicity of this dish with its tender poached chicken in aromatic broth and dipped with the fragrant spring onion oil and punchy chilli sauce.

Poaching the whole chicken for Hainanese chicken can be time consuming and very easy to overcook the chicken breast. These days I prefer to create a fuss free version of the Hainanese chicken by steaming chicken Marylands. Spring onion and slices of ginger stuffed under skin create beautiful flavour and aroma. The steamed chicken is so moist and tender. Dipped this with the usual condiments of spring onion oil and chilli sauce and you have a fuss free Hainanese chicken.

Steamed chicke with egg noogles

Steamed Chicken with Dry Egg Noodles Recipe

4 chicken Marylands
fresh egg noodles
bunch of choy sum (or bok choy/ choy sum), washed and cut
10 thin slices of ginger
2 stalks of spring onion, cut into 10cm lengths
1/2 tablespoon salt to rub chicken

Spring onion and ginger oil

10 spring onion stalks, finely sliced
2 tablespoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Chilli and garlic sauce

6 red bird-eye chillies
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vinegar

Noodle seasoning

3 tablespoon garlic oil (3 tablespoons oil fried with 3 cloves of garlic)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
4 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon sugar

Method

Steam the Chicken. Rub the skin of each chicken Maryland with salt. Place a couple of slices of ginger and spring onion under the skin of each chicken pieces. Please chicken pieces in a steamer and bring to a high boil. May sure you fill the pot with plenty of water for the steaming process. Depending on the the amount of chicken pieces you’re cooking and how big your steamer the cooking times will varies. Let it steam for 25 minutes before checking if the chicken is cooked through. If continue cooking don’t forget to check the water level in the steamer as well as you don’t want to pot to dry out.

Chilli Sauce.Combine chillies, garlic, sugar and salt into a mortar and pound to a paste. Add the vinegar and pound again. Set aside or refrigerate for later use.

Spring onion and ginger oil. Combine the spring onion, ginger and salt into a small bowl. Heat oil in a small pan over high heat until smoking. Place the spring onion bowl into a sink. Pour the hot oil into the spring onion and ginger bowl. Remember to stand back as the oil will spit. Use a spoon mix the oil and spring onion mixture until all the spring onion has wilted. Taste test and add more salt if required.

Noodle sauce. In a small bowl combined all the ingredients for the noodle sauce. Set aside.

Blanch vegetables. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanched the choy sum into boiling water for about 5 seconds and remove veggies.

Prepare the noodles. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles to the boiling water and separate the noodles out with a pair of long chopsticks or thongs so they don’t stick. The noodles should take about 40 seconds to cook. You want a springy texture so don’t over cook it. Once the noodles are done, remove from heat and drain them in a colander. Rinse the noodles under cold running water.

Serve noodles. Divide the cooked noodles into plates. Stir through with a couple of spoons of the noodle sauce. Mix and taste the noodles. Add the steamed chicken Maryland and blanched vegetables to the plate. Garnish with spring onion and coriander. Serve with the chilli sauce and spring onion and ginger oil.

Cook’s note:
The chicken Maryland is quite big and may not fit in the steamer. If it doesn’t on the one tray then use a double layer steamer.

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Fruit Picking at Canoelands Orchard

Posted on | November 9, 2015 | Family Fun, Fruit Picking | No Comments

summer fruit picking

Last weekend our family headed out to Canoelands Orchard for some family fun fruit picking. This was our first time at Canoelands Orchard. I noticed the sign to this orchard on the way to Wisemans Ferry for mandarin picking this year and was very excited for the summer fruit picking season to start to check out the orchard.

fruit picking canoelands orchard

The first stone fruits available at Canoelands Orchard are peaches, nectarines and plums in November. Other time of year they have tomatoes, passionfruit and blueberries available for picking. I’m very excited to come back for the blueberry season since I’ve never picked blueberries before.

fruit picking in sydney

There is an entry fee per person to pick fruits on top of the pay for what you pick. After paying the entry fees we were giving some canvas bags to hold our fruits in. We were taken up by tractor to the area for fruit picking which was only few minutes away. The tractor ride was bumpy and fun, and the kids love the novelty of riding on the tractor.

canoelands orchard tractor ride

family fruit picking in sydney and nsw

We are regular goers to pick your own farms but this was our first time picking peaches and nectarines. Love that my kids were so excited to see peaches and nectarines on trees for the first time. It was very easy for the kids to pick the fruits off the trees since it’s just a twist of the fruit off the branch. They also finally able to tell and taste the difference between a peach and nectarine :)

fruit picking farms in sydney

We just love fresh fruits straight from the trees. We prefer the fruits when firm and the peaches and nectarines were so crunchy and fresh.

nectarines fruit picking in sydney

family fruit picking in sydney

We were happily filling up our two bags with the hot sun beating down on us. Luckily  we were prepared for the really hot weather with sunscreen and hats. It did got a bit too hot being out in the orchard at midday!!

fruit picking at canoelands orchard

canoelands orchards

The fruits are heavy and we had two bags filled up halfway and it weighed 10kg!!! That is a lot of fruits for a family of four to eat :)

Canoelands Orchard fruit pickingThe orchard shop with many assortment of honey produced from their farm for sale.

Canoelands Orchard honey

canoelands orchard honey
We really enjoyed our day out at Canoelands Orchard. The farm is really well kept and the staff are very lovely and friendly. The farm and shop is open all year round for you to come and have a picnic and enjoy the farm grounds and feed the farm animals. They also run several tours if you’d like to learn more about the farm and bees (refer to website).

Pick your own fruit Canoelands Orchard

CANOELANDS ORCHARD (1 hour from Sydney)

PYO Season: NOVEMBER to MARCH
PYO FruitsStone fruits (peach, nectarines, plums), Passionfruits, Tomatoes, Blueberries
Activities: PYO, tractor rides, farm tours, bee tours (booking required for tours)
Price: $6 adult, $3 child entry for fruit picking plus $6 per kg fruit picked (prices at time of writing)
Address: 27 Canoelands Rd, Canoelands, NSW 2157
Phone: 0419 688 039
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Christiesorchard/
Website: http://www.canoelandsorchard.com

The closest township with eateries from the orchard are Wisemans Ferry (20 mins away) or Glenorie (15mins away). In Glenorie I recommend the Glenorie Bakery.

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Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

Posted on | November 1, 2015 | Asian Recipes, Thai | No Comments

Thai sticky rice with mangoNothing says summer like a sweet juicy mango. Although it may only spring but these beautifully fragrant sweet golden fruits are in season right now. The most popular varies of mangoes are the Kensington Pride and R2E2. Although Kensington Pride is juicier and more fragrant, but I like R2E2 more for it large, firm, sweet and less fibrous flesh. I also love that it has a deep orange skin with a tinge or red blush. I was relieved to find out that R2E2 is not GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) and its name takes from the row and position in the field of the original tree in the research facility. Now we know it’s all natural, lets eat more of this R2E2 mangoes!

mangoes

Mangoes are great in salads, sweet deserts or just eat the beautiful fruit as it is. My favourite way to eat mangoes is to remove the skin and just gobble it all up. I also love using fresh mangoes to make this Thai dessert of coconut sticky rice with fresh pieces of mangoes. I love this dish because it is so easy and quick to make. The fresh juicy pieces of mangoes really compliments the very fragrant, slightly salty and sweet coconut sticky rice. YUM!

Thai coconut sticky rice with mango

Thai Sticky Rice with Mango Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 medium mangoes, cut into cubes and chilled
1 cup glutinous rice, soaked overnight and drained
2 pandan leaves knotted (optional)
250ml coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds

Method

Drain the rice and place in a steamer. Add the pandan leaves into the rice. Steam the rice for about 25 minutes or until the rice is soft and translucent.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add coconut milk over low heat. Add sugar and salt and stir on leave on low simmer. Once sugar and salt dissolved and the mixture is slightly thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool. Reserve about 1/4 of coconut milk mixture for serving later.

When the glutinous rice is cooked, transfer to a bowl. Add the coconut mixture to the rice and stir through. Leave the rice to cool.

To serve, mould some rice into a bowl. Transfer the sticky rice onto a plate and add pieces of chilled mangoes. Drizzle some coconut mixture over the rice and sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds.

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SUMMER SEASON Pick Your Own Orchards

Posted on | October 29, 2015 | Fruit Picking | No Comments

pick your own fruit orchards sydney nswSummer is almost here and the pick your own orchards are about to swing their farm gates open for the start of the fruit picking season. Summer is the peak season for pick your own and there are an abundance of fruits to pick and many different orchards to pick from.

The summer pick your own fruit season starts as early as November and end as late as April. The first fruits are usually stone fruits, cherries and berries, followed by apples and pears.

Produce are very seasonal and availability varies year to year and orchards to orchards. Always check with the individual orchard to confirm availability to avoid disappointment.

Most orchards are free to enter and you only pay for what you pick while others have entry fees on top of the picking prices. Prices for picked produce varies so check with the individual orchard.

Fruit picking fun activity for everyone to enjoy. It’s a wonderful feeling to be among the rows of fruit trees and breathing in the fresh air.  Best of all you get the freshest produce to enjoy at the end.

Summer can get very hot so remember to be sun smart when out enjoying fruit picking.

I have compiled a list of pick your own orchards around Sydney and regional NSW.  So plan a day out or weekend away and enjoy the fun of fruit picking!

PENRITH (60 mins from Sydney)

CASTLEREAGH STRAWBERRIES

PYO Season: SEPTEMBER to JANUARY
PYO Fruits: Strawberries
Entry: FREE entry
Phone: (02) 4776 1624 By Appointment Only

CANOELANDS (60 mins from Sydney)

CANOELANDS ORCHARD

PYO Season: NOVEMBER to MARCH
PYO FruitsStone fruits (peach, nectarines, plums), Passionfruits, Tomatoes
Activities: PYO, tractor rides, farm tours, bee tours (booking required for tours)
Entry: Entry fee applies
Address: 27 Canoelands Rd, Canoelands, NSW 2157
Phone: 0419 688 039
Website: http://www.canoelandsorchard.com
View my photos of Canoelands Orchard

ILLAWARRA (70 mins from Sydney)

APPLE SHACK at GLENBERNIE ORCHARD

PYO Season: NOVEMBER to APRIL
PYO fruits: Raspberries, Stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums), apples
Entry: entry fees may applies depending on fruits so check with orchard
Address: 259 Darkes Forest Road, Darkes Forest, NSW
Phone: (02) 4294 3421
Facebook has the most up to date info
Website: http://www.appleshack.com.au

PICTON (70 mins from Sdyney)

CEDAR CREEK ORCHARD

PYO Season: NOVEMBER to JANUARY
PYO fruits: Stone fruits, Apples, Persimmons
Entry: Entry fee applies Address: 269 Mulhollands Rd Thrilmere 257 (80 mins from Sydney)
Phone: (02) 4681 8457  Booking Necessary
Website: http://cedarcreekorchards.com.au

BILPIN  (90 mins from Sydney)

Bilpin is known as “Land of the Mountain Apples”. You’ll find several pick your own orchards along Bells Line of Road in Bilpin. Ensure to stop and enjoy some of the homemade apple pies and local produce from some of the stalls also along on Bells Line of Road.

BILPIN FRUIT BOWL

PYO Season: NOVEMBER to APRIL
PYO fruits: Stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums), Apples, Vegetables
Entry: Entry fee applies
Address: 2093 Bells Line of Road, Bilpin NSW
Phone: (02) 4567 1152
Website: http://www.bilpinfruitbowl.com.au

BILPIN SPRINGS ORCHARD

PYO Season: JANUARY to JUNE
PYO fruits: Stone fruits (peaches, plums), Apples, Nashi, Pears, Quinces
Entry: Free entry Address: 2550 Bells Line of Road, Bilpin NSW
Phone: (02) 4567 1294
Website: http://www.bilpinspringsorchard.com.au

PINE CREST ORCHARD

PYO Season: DECEMBER to APRIL/MAY
PYO fruits: Plums, Peaches, Apples, Pears, Nashi,Persimmons
Entry: FREE entry
Address: 2549 Bell’s Line of Rd, Bilpin NSW 2758
Phone: (02) 4567 1143
Website: http://pinecrestorchard.com.au
Follow Pinecrest Orachard Facebook page
 for the latest updates.
View my photos of Pine crest Orchard

SHIELDS ORCHARD

Season: FEBRUARY to MAY
PYO fruits: Apples
Entry: FREE entry
Address: 2270 Bell’s Line of Rd, Bilpin NSW 2758
Phone: (02) 4567 1206 or 0427 772 431
Website: http://www.shieldsorchard.com

TNT PRODUCE

Season: JANUARY to JUNE
PYO fruits: Apples
Entry: FREE entry
Address: 153 Kurts Road, Bilpin, NSW, 2758
Phone: 0410 676 152
Facebook page

SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS (1hr 40min from Sydney)

MONROSE BERRY FARM

PYO Season: NOVEMBER to APRIL
PYO fruits: Berries
Entry: Free entry applies, refer to picking conditions
Address: Ormond Street, Sutton Forest, NSW 2577
Website: http://www.montroseberryfarm.com.au/index.php/berries.html

LOWER HUNTER (2hr from Sydney)

MISTY VALLEY BLUEBERRY FARM

PYO Season: DECEMBER to JANUARY
PYO fruits: Blueberries
Entry: Free entry, minimum age restriction
Address: Located in Brunkerville, NSW. Ring farm for address.
Phone: (02) 4938 0389
Website: http://www.mistyvalleyblueberries.com

ORANGE (3.5 hours from Sydney)

HILLSIDE HARVEST

PYO Season: OCTOBER to DECEMBER
PYO fruits: Cherries
Address: 1209 The Escort Way, Orange NSW 2800
Phone: (02) 6365 2247
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hillsideharvestorange

HUNTLEY BERRY FARM

PYO Season: NOVEMBER to MAY
PYO fruits: Many varieties of berries
Activities: PYO
Entry: Free
Address: Huntley Road, Huntley, NSW
Phone: (02) 6365 5282
Website: http://www.huntleyberryfarm.com.au

STOCKMAN’S RIDGE

PYO Season: NOVEMBER to DECEMBER
PYO fruits: Cherries
Entry: Entry fee applies
Address: 2160 Limekilns Rd, Limekilns, NSW
Website: https://stockmansridge.com.au/pick-your-own-cherries

BATEMANS BAY (4 hours from Sydney)

CLYDE RIVER BERRY FARM

PYO Season: early DECEMBER to late JANUARY
PYO fruits: Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries and other type of berries
Entry: FREE entry
Address: Lot 22 River Road, Mogood (3.5 hours from Sydney). Click here for directions.
Phone: 02 4478 1057
Website: http://clyderiverberryfarm.com.au, Clyde River Berry Farm facebook page.

YOUNG (4 hours from Sydney)

Young is known as the Cherry Capital of Australia. This is the place to go for the ultimate pick your own cherry experience with many orchards to choose from. In early December the town hold an Annual Cherry Festival with many fun festivities. I recommend staying for the weekend when visiting Young for the cherry picking. There are many decent accommodation available in Young.

ALLAMBIE ORCHARD and CAFE

Season: NOVEMBER to DECEMBER
PYO fruits: Cherries
Entry: FREE entry
Address: 3725 Olympic Highway, Wombat NSW 2587
Phone: 02 6384 3243 or 0418 462 821
Website: http://www.allambieorchard.com
See my photos of Allambie Orchard.

A “VUE GRANDE” ORCHARD

Season: Mid NOVEMBER to DECEMBER
PYO fruits: Cherries, Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots, Figs
Entry: FREE entry
Address: 130 Stanley Park Road, Young
Phone: 0418 261 776 or 0451 663 781

BALLINACLASH ORCHARD

Season: NOVEMBER to DECEMBER
PYO fruits: Cherries, Apricots, Nectarines & Plums
Entry: FREE entry
Address: 4321-4335 Olympic Highway (South), Young NSW 2594
Phone: 0418 271 770
Website: http://www.ballinaclash.com.au

HILL-LOCK ORCHARD

Season: NOVEMBER to DECEMBER
PYO fruits: Cherries, Strawberries
Entry: FREE entry
Address: Racecreek Road, Wombat, Young NSW 2587
Phone: (02) 6384 3239
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hill-Lock-Orchard-550597998365994

MAIN RANGE ORCHARD

Season: NOVEMBER to DECEMBER
PYO fruits: Cherries
Entry: FREE entry
Address: 831 Boundary Road, Young NSW 2594
Phone: 02 6384 3285
Website: http://mainrangecherryorchard.blogspot.com.au

PORT MACQUARIE (4.5 hours from Sydney)

RICARDOES TOMATOES and U-PICK STRAWBERRY FARM

Ricardoes Tomatoes and U-Pick Strawberry Farm
PYO Season: ALL YEAR ROUND
PYO fruits: Strawberries
Entry: FREE entry
Address: 221 Blackmans Point Road, Port Macquarie, NSW
Phone: (02) 6585 0663
Website: http://www.ricardoes.com

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