The petals of the magnolias has now fallen and swept away in the wind. But lucky for me Spring has sprung and the gorgeous cherry blossoms are now in full bloom. There are so much beauty in these small delicate cherry blossoms. For the first time this year I headed out to Auburn Botanical Gardens to catch these gorgeous blooms. These cherry blossoms lined the walkway of the garden and it’s just so spectacular. I came to the garden just a few day before their annual Cherry Blossom Festival when these gorgeous flowers were in full bloom and just bursting with beauty and colours. Although I went a weekday just to avoid the busy crowds of the festival weekend but there were still lots of people at that came for the cherry blossoms viewing. It was wonderful to see the sight of many excited and happy people admiring nature’s beauty.
It has been and absolute brutal winter. It’s one of the coldest and longest winter I’ve ever experienced. You know it’s extremely cold when it snows in Queensland. I feel very ripped off that I endured the bitter cold and it snowed everywhere except Sydney. I was so ready to pack my bags and move North every single morning during this Winter just to escape the cold. But thank goodness the end of the cold is near as I can see the gardens starting to come alive again. The bare trees are starting to sprout green leaves and flowers are blooming. The magnolias are just bursting with beauty and colour at the moment. These gorgeous magnolias when they bloom they really put on a show and I can’t help but noticed them every where. After the magnolias I’m looking forward to the cherry blossoms blooming. The beauty of nature really does an amazing thing for my soul. Now please hurry up and bring on Spring!No Comments
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
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.No Comments
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!
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
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
oil for pan frying
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.
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.
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
1⁄2 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.No Comments