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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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Bun-Bo-Yum-Bo

24 Jul

Ca va mes amis?

I’m sorry – I have been seriously neglectful of late! Between a trip to the snow, a few late nights in the office and some busy weekends I’ve been eating far more take away than I care to admit!

I even missed Bastille Day! I was planning to get all Frenchy, reinvent Little Miss Piggie as ‘Le Petit Cochon’ and whip up my favourite French fare to share with you but instead I was busy drinking red wine and playing board games in front of the fire in country Victoria! Do you blame me?!

Fortunately the recipe I plan to share with you today requires very little effort and time and the dividends you get from this baby make it a worthwhile investment (banker chat, no big deal, I wonder If the Fin Review needs a food writer?!)

A bit of background… I work in Surry Hills, which feels like the epicentre of Sydney’s food scene. This has its benefits and its drawbacks. I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain, but when you have such a plethora of options and are particularly bad at decision-making (as I am), this happens to pose a serious problem!!!

So it seems strange that of all the places at which we could eat, we often end up at The Naughty Chef; a dingy-looking, funky-smelling Vietnamese café on Elizabeth St.

The drawcard? Bun-Bo-Xao.

I was introduced to this Vietnamese salad early this year by a work colleague and have been chowing it down at every chance ever since (usually every Friday lunchtime!)

In fact, I got over waiting for Friday lunchtimes to come around and decided try to recreate it myself ‘a la maison’…

I recommend you try The Naughty Chef’s bun-bo-xao if you get the chance, but if not, try mine…ok, so I can’t quite claim this as my recipe, it’s more a Luke Nguyen / Naughty Chef hybrid, facilitated by moi!). It’s super easy, deliriously delicious and I’m going to take a punt and say it’s pretty healthy too(if that’s what your into!!)- three big ticks from me!!!

Not quite Porgie’s Bun-Bo-Xao

  • 500g sirloin or rump steak
  • 3 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp finely chopped lemongrass (I’ve used lemongrass from a jar before when the real deal wasn’t available)
  • 2tbs olive oil
  • 400g thin rice vermicelli
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Handful of mint leaves, torn
  • 4 tbs chopped coriander
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, julienned
  • Half a red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 lemon, quartered

Nuoc Cham20110724-042801.jpg

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 chillies, finely chopped
  • 5 – 7 tbsp fish sauce (to taste)
  • 7 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Pour the fish sauce, crushed garlic and lemongrass over the steak. Cover and marinate in the fridge until ready to cook.

Make the nuoc cham by grinding garlic and chillies in a mortar and pestle until it resembles a thick paste.Combine the fish sauce, sugar, water and lemon juice in a separate bowl and stir thoroughly until sugar has dissolved. Add garlic & chilli paste and mix. Set aside.

Soak the noodles in boiling water for a couple of minutes. When soft, drain and rinse with cold water then chop up with kitchen scissors. Once drained, separate the noodles, vegetables and herbs between 4 large bowls.

Heat oil in frying pan over high heat until very hot. Place whole steak/s in and sear. Cook to your liking – I prefer it to be on the rarer side! Once cooked, allow to rest for a few minutes then thinly slice the meat and divide amongst the bowls.

Pour over some nuoc cham (adding more to taste if you wish) and serve with a wedge of lemon and a sprinkling of fried onion and crushed peanuts.

Yum…now I’m hungry for Naughty Chef! This is a perfect recipe for a fresh lunch or light dinner!

Next up – I’m searching for a good winter recipe to share with you – I’ve been reprimanded by my younger brother for not having gotten around to this already – sorry master! So in his words, I’m going to ‘fix that’!!!

Also – I’m heading home to the beautiful North Coast in a few weeks and hoping to pop in to my favourite local – Harvest Café at Newrybar for a meal! Stay tuned for a review!

Little Miss Piggie xx

You can make friends with salad!

16 Jun

Hey peeps, just thought I’d drop in with a quick post-long-weekend-post…I thought some of you might need a touch of inspiration to keep you going through the week! Or not! I probably shouldn’t assume everyone behaves the way I do in the midst of a long weekend [eating-wise of course], though to be fair, I am pretty confident a large number of my lovely readers are my dear friends, and that being the case I know they will be feeling much the same this week as I am!

I’m going to try to keep this short.

Porgie’s quinoa, pomegranate and feta mash-up

Taken from JOE M500

So the story goes, I had my own little ‘invention test cook-off what’s-in-the-box pantry party’ last night, and the outcome was nothing short of a gastronomic masterpiece – well, that’s probably a slight exaggeration but I’m doing my best to tempt you to try it!

We were planning to have fish for dinner and unofficial house rules state that I am the salad mastermind whilst the man of the house is the butcher/poissonnier.

 

Thanks to the weekend’s festivities, I wasn’t really in the mood to labour over a recipe so I got creative with the goodies in my pantry and this was the result.

  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa [pronounced keen-wah, which is good to know if you’re going looking for it in a fancy pants deli…trust me, I’ve gone searching for ‘kwin-O-ah’ before and I’m pretty sure I gave the snobby deli foodies a good laugh]
  • I stick of celery, sliced on a slight angle
  • A handful of toasted walnuts
  • A bit of crumbled feta – i crumble it finely so it goes throughout the whole salad, that way you don’t end up with too much [I can see heads rolling right now – yes, there is such a thing as TOO MUCH feta – main offenders, you know who you are!]
  • Chopped mint – add as much/little as you like
  • Handful of torn rocket, which just adds a bit more greenery to the salad without being too overpowering

Dressing

  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • Salt & pepper

Make as much or little of this as you like – 3 parts olive oil, 1 part lemon juice and add garlic, salt & pepper to taste.

Wash quinoa and cook according to packet instructions  [this usually takes about 15 mins]. Chop/bash/toast/crumble/tear ingredients whilst the quinoa is cooking.

Don’t forget to make the dressing – combine and mix dressing ingredients.

Combine salad ingredients with quinoa in a large bowl, reserving a handful of pomegranate seeds to sprinkle on top of the salad.

I usually pour approximately half the dressing over the salad then mix it in and taste it, adding more if I think it needs it – there’s nothing worse than drowning a beautiful fresh salad in too much dressing.

For those of you who haven’t eaten or cooked quinoa before, don’t be turned off by its hippy, wholefood reputation. This stuff is amazing, chuck out your white jasmine rice – you don’t need it anymore! Quinoa is apparently really high in fibre and protein and is super versatile. I have a couple of other cracking quinoa recipes up my sleeve so buy a big bag of it!

Pomegranate is another ingredient touted as the ‘antioxidant superpower’. I’ve always thought they are quite expensive, but these days a pomegranate is cheaper than a punnet of tomatoes, and it’s such a good addition to a plain-ish salad. Those little morsels bursting in your mouth…unbeatable. They’re like Pop Rocks for adults, but even better!

To get the seeds out, half the pomegranate then bash the skin side with a wooden spoon over a big bowl. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re wearing an apron or stainable clothes at this point because the pomegranate juice tends to splatter everywhere*.

And a quick update on what’s to come…

On where i’m at with Pig vs Duck Round 2 – I had every intention to roast a duck for Peking Pancakes on my work-free Monday, but when i got round to shopping for ingredients [Monday] I realised that it was harder to source a whole, unfrozen duck on a public holiday than expected…oops. It is coming though!

I’ve also realised that my weekly blogging intentions may have been slightly ambitious! Sorry for the random, unpredictable posts, I’ve got so many great recipes that i’m dying to share, but not enough time to embellish a blog-worthy story around each of them…and where’s the fun in blogging if you’re not telling a story?

I’ve started a little ‘blog calendar’ to help me with this – at the moment it reads 1. duck, 2. salmon [my mystery dish], 3. Bun bo xao [a recent obsession], and then maybe something for the sweeties 🙂

I’ve had a few suggestions and requests which will have to go in there somewhere too… I’m hoping they might be accompanied by a guest post!

Ooh, one more thing – I spent the long weekend in Bowral, Southern Highlands of NSW – what a beautiful spot! If anyone is going down there, I highly recommend you make a booking at Onesta Cucina in Bowral. We ate there, albeit dubiously, on a recommendation from locals, and were very pleasantly surprised! In saying that, our doubts were hardly warranted [in typical Gen Y fashion, we were convinced it couldn’t be too good because we couldn’t find a website]! Anyway, big tick from myself and the rest of the group!

Stay tuned piglets!

Miss Piggie x

*If only everyone had a kitchen like Jamie Oliver…how good would it be to cook without having to clean up after you enjoy the meal you made with every pot, pan and utensil in your kitchen! In my dream kitchen, I’ll be able to exit and shut the doors post meal whilst the suds pour out of the walls and the monster brushes appear from nowhere for a wash, polish and blow dry! Just like a big kitchen car wash! Oohyeah!