not-amazing photos part 4: phnom penh

Summer Palace

Summer Palace

Russian Markets

Russian Markets

City skyline

City skyline

Transporting some sort of... Innard?

Transporting some sort of… Innard?

"Enjoying" a fried cicada

“Enjoying” a fried cicada

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curry night gets bigger

There’s a couple of new phenomena in my house: the ‘curry lull’ is the dead quiet when no one talks to each other at dinner because they’re too busy stuffing their faces, and the ‘curry stupor’ is the dead quiet when no one talks to each other because they’re all too full of curry.

Tonight, we made chicken vindaloo (we did our oh-so-clever oven baking thing again) and saag paneer. This time we also made homemade roti (as opposed to last time, we were lazy)… delicious! Served with raita, lime pickle and mango chutney of course.

Since I think we’ve perfected the roti, here’s the recipe we used (it’s very simplified but we can’t take any credit though, we stole it from the Taste website)

 

Ingredients:

300g plain bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
250ml (1 cup) chilled water
30g butter, melted
60ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil

 

Directions:

Add the flour and salt together and make a well. Add the water and mix together with your hands.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth (approx. five minutes)

Add butter, and a bit of extra flour if required.

Divide into eight equal portions and roll out to thin, 20cm rounds.

Fry in oil until crisp.

Serve!

a novice attempt at chinese chicken and corn soup

I’m a MASSIVE sucker for chicken and sweetcorn soup. When it’s on the menu at a chinese restaurant I find it so hard not to order… and I usually end up full before the main course!

I’ve always been curious as to how it’s actually made. To me it seemed impossible – how do they get it so thick? Now I know the secret, I actually feel quite dumb for going so long in life without figuring it out. (It’s cornflour by the way)

I used a recipe from food.com although I’m hopeless as following recipes in general, so here’s how my first real Chinese experiment turned out:

 

Servings:
4-6

Ingredients:
6 cups chicken stock
1 large chicken breast fillet (boneless)
300 g canned corn kernels
300 g canned creamed corn
1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 eggs (beaten)
2 spring onions (finely sliced) or 2 scallions (finely sliced) or 2 green onions (finely sliced)

 

Directions:

Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan(depending on your taste or needs you may wish to substitute some of the stock for water). I misread 6 cups and added 8 cups, not that it mattered because I used so much stock powder.

Add chicken breast fillet to the stock, turn the heat off and cover the pain with a lid for 15 minutes. I think next time I’ll keep it in for twenty as it was still a bit raw in the middle and therefore nearly impossible to shred. 

Remove chicken breast from the stock and leave to cool for a few minutes then shred. I did the shredding with two forks… not sure if there’s a better way but I’m sure I looked bizarre doing it.

Add corn to stock and bring to the boil over a medium heat.

Combine soy sauce and cornflour into a paste then stir into the soup to thicken slightly. Went overboard on the soy sauce I think, so it was both quite salty and quite dark in colour. Because I used so much stock, I had to add extra cornflour as it didn’t thicken as much as I would have liked.

Add shredded chicken to soup. Success! This bit went fine!

Slowly pour beaten eggs into the soup in a steady stream, stirring constantly with a fork. I’m a freaking genius for getting this right (with hubby’s help). Very impressed with myself and will not enter into any discussion re: not being an amazing master chef.

Serve topped with the sliced spring onions and enjoy! Umm… forgot this at the store. Oops!

funny how my food pictures never look as appetising as proper food websites???

funny how my food pictures never look as appetising as proper food websites???

it’s fat belly curry night

Well this is fast becoming a food blog, clearly. When you buy a house and can’t afford to jet away constantly you need to find a new outlet… Mine is stuffing my face, I think. But in an artsy, look-what-I-did kind of way, hopefully.

Anyway, tonight was curry night.

I’ll be honest, hubby did most of the work. I just stood around and looked good (duh). And fetched beers.

Last night we marinated some chicken in a Madras sauce. I thought hubby was being lazy by leaving it in a casserole dish and baking it but alas, he is a genius. The meat was perfectly tender and completely packed with flavour, just like you would get at an Indian restaurant. Took about the same time as it would on the stove top but with amazing results.

Served with roti (slightly toasted), raita (yoghurt, cucumber, garlic and a little bit of mint), mango chutney and lime pickle (my favourite!)… I was actually dancing up and down the hallway with excitement while it was cooking and it didn’t disappoint. The below photo probably will though; I’m a food eater, not a food photographer.

Hit me with your favourite curry making tips. I promise I will gobble them up (insert creepy wink face here).

 

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the best pho doesn’t have a recipe

I usually find it hard to pinpoint my “favourite” things… Those who know me know that anything I happen to like is my “favourite”… but I do think one of my favourite things about travelling in Asia is the food. And no, this surely isn’t a very controversial opinion otherwise every city in the word wouldn’t have a Chinatown, and one of the most popular cuisines here in Australia wouldn’t be Thai food, and the grooviest foodie streets wouldn’t be strewn with Vietnamese restaurants. Here in Adelaide, the turnout to festivals like OzAsia or IndoFest would probably be lower if our foodie culture didn’t exist.

Anyway… let’s talk about a great passion (or obsession, whatever) of mine right now – Asian soups. I cooked a Tom Yum last night, and I love a good Laksa, but I’ve been trying to perfect pho lately. During this process I’ve learned something: you can’t “perfect” the recipe.

When I got home from the latest jaunt to Vietnam, I scoured the internet for a good pho recipe. A lot of them had star anise in them, which I hate, and they just didn’t taste right (I honestly don’t recall eating one that tasted of star anise over there, but here it’s quite common). I’m discovering that making it to taste, rather than following strict guidelines, is working much better. Then you serve it all up with lots of extras to add in (basil, fresh chilli, fish sauce, lime) and mix it all up until no-one’s bowls taste the same.

So what I want to know from everyone is: do you rely on recipes? Do you make a good pho? And if you do, what are the real essentials in your opinion? Okay… GO!

my most recent attempt at homemade pho

my most recent attempt at homemade pho

 

my quest for the perfect gnocchi

I have a bit of an obsession with gnocchi. It’s the perfect meeting of my two loves: potato and pasta. My waistline wishes my fondness was for protein shakes or celery or whatever but no, its gnocchi, and I’ve been in love with these delightful little dumplings since I was tiny.I always preach about trying new things but when I see these little parcels of heaven on a menu, I can’t resist. I would love to try them everywhere, Sam I Am. I’ve been lucky enough to have gnocchi in Italy (not everywhere but in a few places, such as Venice) and each region of Italy has it’s own interpretation so I’d love to go on a Grand Gnocchi Tour of Italy one day.

The best I’ve ever had though was in Croatia. I actually thought this was bizarre but it’s not; it’s an extremely popular dish in coastal Croatia (such as Split, where I had the best one); they call it “njoki” (sounds the same, I guess). It was in a tiny little port-side cafe where I sampled this best-gnocchi-dish-of-my-life-so-far. So simple, perfect little morsels tossed in a Gorgonzola sauce. I didn’t even like blue cheese at the time, but after this dish I became a convert, which tells you a little something about it’s power.

Anyway, unfortunately I am not currently overseas on gnocchi-consuming adventures. I did however have a lovely weekend in South Australia’s very own McLaren Vale, sampling the local produce (particularly the wine!). I absolutely love living in Adelaide because McLaren Vale, the Barossa Valley, the Clare Valley and the Adelaide Hills region are all so close, and the Coonawarra is a few hours’ drive away. These amazing regions are home to some of the world’s best vineyards and microbreweries and the freshest produce.

We went to a restaurant called Au Pear (so cute, check it out here) and I had, of course, the gnocchi. The menu reads: “house made with confit artichoke hearts, caprino fresco and olive cream”. Now, strictly as a gnocchi traditionalist, it wasn’t what I expected. I have to day though, it was delicious. So delicate, so balanced, so fresh – and just enough on the plate to start feeling full without feeling heavy. Maybe that was the idea – we ordered the lemon souffle for dessert!

So, if you want a relaxing afternoon in the sunshine, head down to the Vale for some beautiful food; if you’re somewhere else in the world right now, keep me up to date with the gnocchi on your plate!

Gnocchi, Au Pear restaurant, McLaren Vale – sorry, I dug in before I remembered to take a photo!

devouring one country at a time



I’ve had cabin fever for the past few days. I’m sure it’s as a result of the constant bed-work-dinner-bed-work routine I’ve had going on all week and last night I couldn’t hold it in any more.

I can’t say I’ve been up to anything exciting but I did go out to dinner both nights and had some amazing meals: Indian last night and Chinese tonight. Chinese for me is always a bit hit and miss but we managed to find a fantastic, authentic little place which on our side of town is incredibly rare and had the most delicious duck ever.

The combination of cabin fever and an empty stomach got me thinking about the best and worst meals I’ve had while travelling. Everywhere I’ve been had amazing meals and not so great ones, but lets face it I love my food and it’s my number 1 priority when I’m overseas (my waistline will agree!)

Of course, Asian countries will always take the cake, especially SE Asian cuisine! If you ask Boyfriend, the ultimate Japanlover, he will say the land of the rising sun has no competition, but for me it’s all about chilli and fresh flavours and amazing street food. Excepting the time in Vietnam when I accidentally ate dog…

I was geared up for delicious Middle Eastern flavours when I headed to Dubai: shwarmas and meats and pork-free bacon. It didn’t really deliver. A lot of the food was dry and a bit tasteless, but who knows, maybe it was dumbed down for a bunch of westerners. In terms of bacon, I expected good old-fashioned turkey-bacon, but it was veal-bacon that was served. Interesting…

Seafood, seafood, seafood! As a lobster fiend, Fijireally is my paradise. I was once served a lobster-themed meal: lobster bisque to start, lobster with garlic butter for main course and lobster-shaped cake for dessert!

Yes, France screws with my body clock (sweets for breakfast, heavy food for lunch, ploughman’s dinner, cheese for dessert). But the flavours! And I really have no idea why “French women don’t get fat” because I sure as hell did!

Italy  was okay. I’m sure I’ll be reprimanded a lot for tis, but nothing particularly blew my mind here…

…But Croatia was a different story! Fantastic fish dishes, cured meats and the best gelati I’ve ever tasted (better than Italy, no joke).

And I could keep going on and on, but that might take precious time away from eating my way around the world!