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Potato and Leek Soup

Ok, So I hate to admit.. that I have perhaps gone overboard with my weekly soup obsession. Like seriously overboard. How do I know? Out of my 10 outstanding posts, there are only 3 that are NOT soup related.

I’m not sure if that will stop me though. The more I make soups, the more I like it. Maybe.. just maybe, it’s my Cantonese heritage mixed up with my years of being in Australia. You know, the nightly clear vege/slow cooked soup paired with main meals turned into weekly thick comforting western style soups?

Am I even making sense?

In 2007, I made a similar soup– it was a much simpler version. This version of potato and leek consists of more vegetables- mainly celery and spring onions. I find that the addition of more veges gave a rounder and richer soup base than just potato and leek.  It also  has a bit of chunk into it-since I rarely blend my soups to a fine mixture. Usually, I leave out the “end bits” in the pot while I blitz the rest up with my gorgeous blender.

Isn’t it always fun to look back at past entries of similar recipes? I started this blog on the 14th of September 2004 and a blink of an eye, it is nearly 7 years. It was a space for me to vent my frustration when I was completing my thesis, and I turned it into food related instead. Over the years, I had the encouragement of bloggers around the world to cook better. Well, I hope I have cooked better 😉

Well,  I know it’s only June but I can’t help but think… my blog will be turning 7 this September. ahh..

Back to the soup. It tasted even better the next day.

Potato and Leek Soup (Serves 4) 
1 onion diced
1 tsp of garlic
4-5 medium size potatoes diced
2 leeks sliced
1 small bunch of spring onions
1 small bunch of celery diced
1 ltre of chicken or vegetable stock
200 grams lean bacon diced

Saute bacon first till brown. Remove from pot. Cook onions till soft. Add potatoes. Again, cook till it has this lovely looking crust. Add all the other veges. Cook it down. Add stock and simmer for 20 mins or so till tender. Cool. Blitz everything up. Return to pot. Add most of the bacon bits, leaving some for garnishing. Dish up with cracked pepper.



Spinach Rocket Pesto Salmon Spaghetti

If you ask me, I prefer olive oil based pasta than creamy ones. Don’t get me wrong, creamy pastas has its own place as well, but there is something very addictive about olive oil based pastas. It makes your tongue tingle and want more. The flavours seem to dance on your tongue and it lingers.

My experience in making pesto was…. mmm.. once. It was around 5 years ago, when we decided to grow our very own basil plant. It was very successful and soon we were proud owners of a basil… bush! I wish I have a photo to show you! That was when I tried making pesto. Soon after, winter sets in and the bush dwindle down to nothing. 😦

Since then, I have never got back into growing our own vegetables and herbs. One day I am sure we will again!

For this version of pesto, I blended basil, spinach and rocket together with some olive oil and parmesan cheese. Instead of pinenuts, I used some pistachios that I had on hand. I love the herby nutty mixture in the end that went very well with smoked salmon.

I’m also happy with our budget for this meal.

Spinach Rocket Basil Pesto- $4
Smoked Salmon- $4 (On sale! yay!)

Total: AU$9

I’m submitting this dish to our monthly budget meals party with Cuisine Paradise. The theme this month is NOODLES! woohoo.

Spinach Rocket Pesto Salmon Spaghetti (Serves 4)
250 grams of Spinach, Rocket and Basil (around 4-5 cups)
2 tsp of grated parmesan cheese
1-2 chili padi diced
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of shelled pistachios
100 grams of smoked salmon
500 grams pasta cooked and drained

Blend spinach, chili rocket, basil, cheese, oil and pistachios. Blitz it for 1 min.

Heat a pan up. Sauté the herb/vege mixture. Toss pasta and smoked salmon through. Serve with more cheese.


Macaroni Fishcake Soup

Here is another of our quick fixes. I tend to have some fish cake or fish roll stuffed in the freezer for “emergency meals”. You know, meals when you get home at 8pm and realised that you are staving but have to put something on the table in 20 minutes?

I often associate macaroni with being sick. Now, I associate it with comfort and quick. Warm chicken soup with fish cakes and ham brings it up another notch higher.

It’s no fuss food to the max!

Macaroni Fishcake Soup
1 or 2 fish cake sliced

100 grams of ham sliced
200 grams of macaroni
1 ltre chicken stock
chinese veges- such as bak choy or choy sum
spring onions chopped
pepper to season

Boil stock and cook macaroni. Put all veges, sliced fish cake and ham into the pot. Cook for around 5 minutes or so. Serve with spring onions and a sign of relief that dinner is done.


Red Wine Beef Onion Pies

There is nothing like winter that screams comfort food. Perhaps it’s because Perth’s winter isn’t that harsh. Or maybe I have just grown to appreciate the sound of rain. I certainly prefer cold than hot weather.

The sound of the rain, warmness from a hot chocolate drinks reminds me how simple things in life can bring warmth to the heart.

I really like making pies at home. I’m a texture girl-crispy pastry and hot filling on the inside just hit a good spot in me. This time round, I decided to stew some beef, red wine and onion to make a hearty filling. Oh who could have thought the blend of red wine, beef and onion could make such magic?

I stewed the filling slowly, cooling it down completely before using my ancient pie maker. My pie maker toaster was handed to me when someone I knew left the country. Goodness know how old it is, my guess would be at least 8 to 10 years.

Age does not matter when it comes to wine.. ..and a good pie maker!

Red Wine Beef Onion Pies (Makes around 10)
5 sheets of puff pastry
1 red onion diced
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of flour
1/2 cup of red wine
1/2 cup of beef stock
2-3 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
400 grams of beef chunks

Melt butter/margarine into a pot. Cook onions till very soft. Brown beef. Sprinkle flour over it. Add both red wine and stock into the mixture. Stir to combine. Add Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for around 15 minutes or so. Check, adding liquid if needed. Continue to stew for around 1 hr more, adding mushrooms at the 30 mins mark.

Once filling is done. Taste and season. Cool.

Cut pastry into size. Line pastry onto pie maker. Spoon mixture, pop the pastry top on and cook. Serve with a side salad.

If you do not have a pie maker, try using muffin tins. Preheat Oven to 200C. Bake pies for 15-20 minutes.


Sunshine Chorizo Lentil Soup

What I love about winter:

1) I get to wear boots
2) I love scarfs
3) Lovely warm jackets
3) Hot chocolate
4) Nice warm throw and heated wheat bags
5) Listening to the rain
6) If you have a gas fire heater or wood heater, the warmth from it!
7) Hot comforting food like stews, casseroles and soups!

Soups certainly bring abit of sunshine in rainy cold wet weather. This soup was inspired by our trip to Denmark, Western Australia. I have always found it funny that there is a “denmark” in down under Aus. It’s nothing like Copenhagen Denmark of course. Denmark WA is filled with hikes and scenic views. We are so in love with the serenity of the place.

On our first night there, we went to this “funky” new restaurant and lo and behold, they have soup. All I recall was heaps of veges, lentils and shavings of parmesan on it. At home, I added generous amount of chilis and heaps of veges. It was slowed cooked for around 2 hours so the flavours really did seeped in.

The other thing we discovered was “vinofood”. Jams and chutneys made with wine! My favourite is the fig, chardonnay and apply chutney. I paired it with some goats cheese. yum!

I guess this soup brought back abit of the holiday with us to home as well!

Sunshine Chorizo Lentil Soup
250 grams of soup mix lentils (Soaked for 30 minutes)
500 ml of beef stock
500 ml of chicken stock
2 carrots chopped
1 small sweet potato chopped
1 small bunch of celery chopped
1 red onion chopped
1 chorzo chopped
5 chili padis chopped
1 heaped tablespoon of garlic

Heat soup pot. Add chorizo. Fry till it is done. Remove some. Add onions and garlic. Cook till soft. Add lentils and toss for around 2-3 minutes. Add stock. Simmer for 1 hour. Stir. Add veges. Cook for another 30-40 minutes, longer if needed. Season. Serve with parmesan cheese.


Finger Sandwiches

On a recent road trip, I decided to make some finger sandwiches to take with us. We owned a bread maker machine, so hubby made a lovely fresh love of german rye bread. For the filling, I did a salmon cream cheese salad version and a chicken and celery one.

Initially, I had no intention to post these sandwiches. Afterall, sandwiches are sandwiches. Nothing too tricky or interesting about it. But we really did enjoy the chicken and celery ones and wondered if there are any other sandwich fillings out there that you have come across that are interesting.

For instance, in Australia, I learnt that kids and adults like the following:
– vegemite
– curried egg (mashed egg with curry powder and mayo)
– chicken mayo
– tuna
– ham and cheese (especially if it is toasted!!!)

Personally I love and have experimented
– peanut butter and jelly
– Kaya (a coconut jam)
– nutella and crushed hazelnuts
– smoked salmon with cream cheese and dukka
– roast beef and horseradish cream
– ham and chutney

Can you think of any more varieties?


Jamie Oliver’s “Pregnant Jool’s Pasta”

So Jamie Oliver calls this “Pregnant Jool’s Pasta”. Seems that this is the pasta that she often craved when she was pregnant. Well, no one here is pregnant, I was simply intrigue by his use of sausages in the sauce. One thing I found was that Jamie Oliver seems to be addicted to the use of his food processor in this cookbook. In this dish, everything was blitz up (Including the sausages which was why I was intrigued!). In really saves time in preparation- just that the cleaning up takes longer than what it usually would. I can’t wait for a dish washing machine in our next home.

One thing that got me hooked right away was the smell of fennel seeds. Oh, how come nobody told me that fennel seeds smells so good!?

The other (personal) achievement, was that I managed to sneak balsamic vinegar in this dish without hubby noticing. Yes, he dislikes anything vinegar- and thinks that salad should come fresh the way it should be.

I adapted this recipe-adding in more veges instead. I think it worked just as well!

It’s meaty, hearty and tasty. That’s alot of -ty. See, that book is really winning me over now.

Jamie Oliver’s Pregnant Jool’s Pasta (Serves a generous 4 portions and more to freeze)
a small bunch of spring onions (around 5)
2 carrots
4 celery stick
4 fresh chili padi (original calls for 2 normal chillis)
400 grams of italian sausages (or good sausages)
1 heaped tsp of fennel seeds
1 tsp of dried mixed herbs (or oregano)
1 heaped tablespoon of garlic
4-5 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
a few springs of basil

500 grams of rigatoni pasta

Cook pasta in salted boiling water. Drain.

Meanwhile, roughly chopped all vegetables. Blitz them in food processor with chilis. Add chopped up sausages, fennel seeds and dried mixed herbs. Keep pulsing till well mixed.

In a hot pan, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add mixture. Fry it up and stir it as you go. Add the pasta to the dish. Toss. Tear basil leaves into the dish. Serve with parmesan.


Chicken and Feta Patties

There seems to be an assumption that chicken mince makes dry tasteless patties, which isn’t always true. Besides, there are other benefits to using chicken mince. It usually contains lower fat than other choices of meat in the market. Most chicken mince I find is made out of chicken breast (unlike beef or lamb where it can be difficult to tell what cut of meat it comes from).

However, if chicken mince is too lean or too dry for your liking, adding cheese may help. My favourite so far, is feta cheese. It add a sharp bite to the patties.

Patties is such a cheap and quick way to add protein to the diet. Shaping it up is fun though- ahh..nothing beats shapping some patties, playing with it like dough (it’s adult play doh perhaps?) and throwing it into the pan. mm.. Is this call patty therapy?

I served this with an avocado carrot salad-with sesame dressing. I have finally found a dressing that hubby likes (yes, he does not like dressings or sauces!).

Chicken and Feta Patties (Around 18 patties)
500 grams chicken mince
1 cup of herb bread crumbs (Store bought)
1/2 cup of corn flour
1 egg
1/2 tsp of chili flakes
20 grams of feta crumbed
2 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup of dry sherry

Mix everything together. Marinate for around 20 minutes. Heat a hot pan up with some oil. Shape patty with wet hands. Fry it up! Flip sides every 3-4 minutes.

Check out Tigerfish from Tezscape- An Escape to Food is giving this awesome lunch bag away! Oh, it will certainly jazz up my lunches. Check out how you can win one too.


Sticky Goodness- Pecan Pie Bars

 Oh if there is a dessert I could rave about, it would be sticky pecan pies. I spotted this recipe from Joanne- Eat Well with Others. I couldn’t… just couldn’t resist making it.

It’s sticky, it’s sweet and it has nuts! Surely that would have been good for you? Makes all the exercise worthwhile. One thing though, I found that the crust is more biscuit like than pie like. Still, it was hard to stop at one. Best thing is that it is mini bites… so it does not hurt to reach out to have another one.

Check out Joanne’s recipe on her blog!


Chicken and Leek Corn Soup

A simple chicken soup warms your soul. Hmmm..what if we load up the “simple” soup with leeks, onions and even a handful of orzo? What will that do to our souls? Heat it up real hot perhaps?

We are trying to create a new tradition this winter- a different kind of soup every weekend! I’m not sure how long that would last but I’m enjoying learning about all kinds of soups we can have. Hot simmering soup for winter- with a good dvd some candles perhaps…it could almost passed off as our new candle light dinner…


Chicken and Leek Corn Soup
1 chicken breast-poached for 15 minutes till tender. shred.
1 ltre of chicken stock
2 cups of corn kennels
1 leek sliced
1 red onion sliced
1 tablespoon of garlic
2 eggs lightly beaten
spring onions
handful of small pasta of your choice. I used orzo here.

Heat a big pot. Add onions and garlic. Fry up the leeks till tender. Pour chicken stock over it. Simmer. Add corn. Continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. Add orzo and cook till pasta is done. Add in poached shredded chicken. Taste and season. Turn off the heat. Pour eggs. Stir. Ladle and serve with spring onions.