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:Summer loving: :Loving summer:

17 Oct

*Philosophising

Harking back to my philosophy on food, this recipe is a perfect example of how preparing delicious gourmet eats doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming.

I truly find it inspiriting when I try something that is equally effortless to make and impressive to the palette. In fact that’s the whole reason I started this blog; so I could share the recipes that get me excited about cooking & eating with my food-loving friends.

So here’s a dish I think everyone should try. I don’t care if you hate cooking, ‘don’t have time’, or just think it belongs in the ‘too hard basket’. Try it. And let me know what you think. I promise this dish will highly impress your wife, new girlfriend, in-laws, foodie mates or whoever else you’re aiming to wow.

After all, if you have a good recipe to follow, the hard work is already done. No excuses.

Ceviche de Sierra

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Duck, consider yourself conquered

6 Jul

What I learnt from another blogger

I read a beautiful blog today. It was about nothing and everything all at once. Just the musings of a girl in love; with her man and her life. I wanna be like that! Heart on my sleeve, dream-chasing and unafraid of what judging eyes will see and surmise.

It has inspired me to be more passionate in, and about, my everyday life. I think (correction: I know) I take a lot of things for granted – beautiful, loyal and inspiring friends, a seriously awesome relationship with a lad I am grounded, humbled and awed by every day (though from time to time I unintentionally sabotage that serious awesomeness – sorry babe) AND to top it all off, an amazing family who I don’t see enough but am always thinking of.

Celebrate your life my friends! You only live it once, and no one else is going to celebrate it for you, unless of course you have Mother Teresa tendencies, and if you do I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be reading this blog!

In the meantime, I’m going to celebrate a dish which has its origins in imperial China and is now considered a national treasure – Peking Duck!

I won’t go on about it (OK, I will), but the crispy skinned duck pancakes were nothing short of sensational – FACT.

This is one of those meals where, mid-mouthful, you feel compelled to shake your head & mumble ‘mmmmmm, this’ssooogood’, all the while attempting to chew/swallow and avoid losing any of the delicious mouthful!

Another myth-defying fact – it was easy! So easy for me actually, as I arrived home from work to find the bird cooking away in the oven, ready for a basting! (One more fact – I did not single-handedly create this goodness. I’d say it was more of a joint effort, with more input from the aforementioned amazing lad than me!)

In all seriousness, I think it’s fair to say that the most challenging thing about recreating this Chinese favourite was sourcing the duck and remembering to take it out of the freezer.

Before I unveil the winning recipe, I have one more confession – we didn’t make the pancakes. Why would you when you can buy a pack of 100 frozen pancakes for $8!? In saying that, I’m sure there are plenty of great, simple Chinese pancake recipes getting around online if you can’t find any at your local Asian grocer or you don’t have one nearby.

Crispy skinned duck pancakes

(Taken from Olive magazine)

Ingredients

  • 1 duck

Marinade

  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder

To serve

  • shredded cucumber
  • shredded spring onion
  • hoisin sauce (add 1tbl of water and a squeeze of lemon juice if you like)
  • pancakes (buy fresh or frozen from an Asian grocer)

Heat the oven to 150C/fan 130C.

Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl.

Trim or pull away any fat from the inside of the duck, then prick all over with a skewer. Put on a rack over a large roasting tin and pour over a kettleful of boiling water – this helps the skin go nice and crispy. Discard the water, then put the duck back on its rack in the tray and cook for 2 hours.

Turn up the oven to 190C/fan 170C and roast the duck for a further 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, brush with the marinade and cook for another 10 minutes. Brush again (using the rest of the marinade) and put back for 5-10 minutes until nicely glazed – you will really notice the difference at this point.

Rest before carving and serve on a big plate with the pancakes, cucumber, spring onion and hoisin sauce!

The best thing about this is that you can make a meal of it or enjoy with a few friends over a vino and a natter.

Til next time,

Miss Piggie xx

I smell a physical challenge!

29 Apr

Is it just me, or are there others out there who have a habit of tearing sumptuous looking recipes out of newspapers and magazines, stacking them in the back of a once-very-organised recipe journal & forgetting about them until you’re searching for an old favourite and happen to stumble across a thick pile of glossy magazine pages, forgetting which recipe you actually fancied when you decided it was journal worthy *deep breath* ???

In all seriousness, I’d love to know if there are other tearers out there. Do you have a system? First in first cooked perhaps?

Anyway, in light of my ambitious recipe collecting, I’ve decided it’s time to stage an intervention.

I’m setting myself a challenge…not the Julie & Julia type, rather a proactive way of motivating myself to be a little more adventurous! I like to think of it as more of a weeding process…sorting the Harry Heroes from the Average Janes if you like!

THE CHALLENGE

Cross one recipe per week off my ‘to-cook’ list.

THE GAME PLAN

The plan is to flick through my recipe scrapbook each Sunday & choose one recipe to recreate in the coming week that I’ve never tried before!

Don’t worry, I don’t plan to bore you with anecdotes about every single recipe, but rest assured you will be the first to know when I stumble upon a winning dish or combo!

The mission for this week is Magret de Canard Rotis, Riz Sauté aux Legumes…That’s right, I’m starting with a ball breaker! Not only am I on debut with the recipe, I have never actually cooked with duck breast before, full stop (shame on me)!  And just to up the ante a touch more, I tore this little firecracker out of Elle Table magazine…the French version…ouch…talk about setting oneself up for failure!

I guess you’ll work out whether or not it was a success by the content of my next post. Stay tuned people!

On another note, I was introduced to a very interesting way of making pizza dough last weekend. It’s perrrfect for the time-poor, or anyone who has shied away from the seemingly laborious task of kneading, proving & rolling in the past!

The thing is, I’m not going to give you the recipe until I’ve tried it myself and can vouch for its excellence. Sorry folks, I feel like I’ve just cut to an ad break! Gotta keep you coming back though 😉

And what about Easter…?

I must admit, I was quite lazy this year. The Easter break is usually a great opportunity to get your hands dirty in the kitchen and cook lovely food for family and friends. I certainly planned to do that, but just didn’t quite get there.

The most creative I got was to make some Rocky Road, of which I’m not usually much of a fan, however this one was delectable and very more-ish (which may have had something to do with the puddles of rum I poured into it)!

This is a great recipe if you’re strapped for time or not much of a baker!

That’s it for this week friends! Lots to come…watch this space!!!

Miss Piggie xxx

Yummy Rummy Rocky Road

The main ingredients you’ll find in traditional Australian Rocky Road recipe are marshmallow, milk chocolate, glace cherries, coconut, peanuts and/or Turkish delight, however because I find a fair portion of these ingredients utterly repulsive, I decided to make up my own recipe with similar textures.

  • 150 g dark chocolate roughly chopped
  • 50 g milk chocolate roughly chopped
  • A touch of milk
  • 20 g unsalted butter
  • 50 g chopped hazelnuts
  • Marshmallows chopped
  • Sultanas
  • Shredded or desiccated coconut
  • 50 ml Dark rum (or to taste) – this could be substituted for many other spirits/liqueurs depending on what you have in the cupboard (ie. Baileys, Cointreau, Frangelico etc)

The method is super easy…

Place the two types of chocolate, rum, butter and a splash of milk in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water (making sure water isn’t touching the bottom of the bowl). Allow to melt, stirring until smooth.

Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts, sultanas, coconut and marshmallows (add as much or little as you want, depending on whether you prefer are more chocolate or chunks in your rocky road!).

Remember, this isn’t like baking a cake. Chocolate will set regardless so play with the ingredients and add more or less of anything to suit your tastes!

Spread the mixture into a pan and chill for a couple of hours until firm.

All up this should only take you 10-15 minutes…quick and easy!

Welcome to the pen!

25 Mar

Call me biased, but I genuinely, wholeheartedly believe that my Mum, Annie, is a sensational cook. She’s the benchmark; the one who her brothers and sisters turn to for recipes and pray will be taking charge of the menu at Christmas time, which is no mean feat in light of the fact that she’s the youngest of 14 children!

In saying that, it’s hard to say when my love affair with food really bloomed. I was definitely slow on the uptake.

In fact, as a youngster my brothers’ skills far surpassed mine in the kitchen. I was always the designated salad maker (the chopper) whilst they would be in charge of making the pizzas or tacos or creamy bacon pasta – that was about as adventurous as we got (there was none of the Junior Masterchef child prodigy brilliance going on in our household!).

Maybe I was pushed along by the fact that both of my brothers were far more competent in the kitchen than me…we’re a competitive bunch.

I do have to attribute some credit to my good friend and former flatmate Caitie (who I may try and rope into writing a post or two on her delicious cooking). Whilst the rest of the uni students I knew were feeding on stir fries and burritos, Caitie could be found in the kitchen baking muffins for morning tea and Moussaka for dinner! She was always well ahead of the pack on the gastronomic front; her 21st birthday wish list included a KitchenAid stand mixer and an Atomic coffee maker!

It’s no surprise that these days the top two on my cooking ‘lifeline’ list are my Mum and Caitie!

Enough about my past. This blog is about my future. I love food, I love travel and I especially love beautiful landscapes (all 3 at once is pure joy!!).

I also love sharing my ‘unearthings’ with anyone who will listen.  I’ve long dreamt of combining these pleasures with my passion for writing…it’s just taken me a while to get around to it!! That’s what this is about, nothing and everything!

So here is my blog. I hope you enjoy reading my posts – I’d love to hear (or read) your thoughts on what I have to share with you!

Little Miss Piggie xx

PS. I’m editing this over a Friday afternoon glass of red wine, feeling particularly excited about the coming autumn days. I’m leavin’ the big smoke bright and early tomorrow morning for a weekend away with my handsome man. I’ve no idea where we are going, but I will be sure to share it with you next week…

‘Til then!