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Moroccan Spiced Lamb Meatballs in Tangy Tomato Sauce

It’s finally here. Autumn that is. Where the weather is cool and the breeze comes in. Autumn and Spring are probably my favourite seasons of the year. It isn’t too warm but there is enough sun to get out there and seize the day.

As I am writing this, I’m recovering from a very sore left index finger. We had some friends over for a bbq and I sliced my finger while chopping spring onions! Since the bleeding didn’t stop for 2 over hours, I went to the doctors who placed a pressure bandage on.

So with the bandage on, everything seems to operate a little slower. Like typing for instance and washing your hair. It may be one finger but it reminded me of how we tend to take little things like this for granted. It also forced me to slow down a little- like no boxing classes and scheduled our little break away. Sometimes, accidents remind us to take a breath before going again.

My disclaimer is that I rarely cut my fingers while cooking. I think it is a reflection of my internal exhaustion. In the mean time, I had a few days off with cooking with hubs taking over the reins. He turned around and said- indeed it’s a lot of planning and prepping.

I’m on the road to recovery by the time you read this… and don’t worry, I made these meatballs when my fingernail was still intact so no blood lost with this. It’s a nice warm dinner on a cool night. Who says one cannot have salads with baked dishes?

The sauce keeps the meatballs moist and lovely. You can probably sauté the mince if you like and top it with the sauce, but I was looking for a less to wash dish. I didn’t put cheese in mine but you could sprinkle some before baking it.

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Meatballs in Tangy Tomato Sauce (serves 4)
450 grams of lean lamb mince
1 red onion chopped
2 tsp of dukkah (spicy)
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tsp of fennel seeds
1 tsp of chill powder
1 egg

Tomato Sauce
1 tinned chopped tomato
2 tablespoon of tomato paste
2 tablespoon of water or more if needed
squeeze of lemon
salt and pepper

Make lamb mince balls- just combine all ingredients. Roll into balls and place into over proof dish- it should make around 16 meatballs.

Sauce- combine all in a jar. Pour over meatballs and bake for 25-30 minutes.



Chicken Fillet with Almond Sauce

This is one of those handy quick dinner recipes that I love to have in the fridge. Ever since I discover Almond Butter- it’s no turning back. I am also a fan of brazil and almond nut butter as well. They taste fantastic on crackers or vegetable stick.

So looking at the container one day, I thought why not make this into a sauce. I know that almonds has lots of fat but from a nutritious point of view, it’s good for us and our hearts with the mono saturated fats. Plus it’s filling. The key here is portion size of course. The creaminess of the sauce makes it rich hence you don’t really need too much of it- maybe 1 or 2 tablespoons will be fine.

It certainly jazz up a salad. I oven baked some chicken fillets rather than pan frying it- one pan on the stove to make the sauce was enough for me. Shove the fillet into the oven, hop into the shower, assemble salad while making sauce. Take chicken out, place on plate, drizzle sauce.. EAT.

There should be more dinners like this every weekday.

Chicken Fillet with Almond Sauce (Serves 4)
6 chicken thigh fillets or 2 chicken breasts slice horizontally

1/4 cup of almond butter
1/4 cup of water
1 tsp of garlic
1 tablespoon of mirin
few drops of sesame oil

4-5 cup of salad leaves
sliced capsicum
lebanese cucumber
1 avocado

Cut fat off chicken thighs. Place on lined oven tray. Pre heat Oven 200C. Season chicken and place in oven for 20 minutes or so.

Heat pan. Saute garlic. Then add almond butter till it becomes soft and nearly runny. Add water and whisk together. Season with mirin and sesame oil. Drizzle on chicken and salad.


Bourke Street: Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Muffins

The bourke street bakery cookbook was on my bookshelves for a few months before I pry it open and made something out from it. It’s one of those cookbooks that looks absolutely gorgeous, no shortcuts but you know each recipe is gonna be good. It’s one that I read and read but could not for the life of me pick something to try. I want to make everything!

I picked this recipe because I know of a few bloggers who recently made these, but also, they are one of the simplest recipe in the whole book. In time, I know I will have a chance to slowly digest all the material and pick a tart recipe to get my hands dirty, but for now, it’s quick and easy to the max.

Now be warned, it’s not what you think of a muffin-where it is often light and fluff. This is rich and good. It’s dense more cake like but oh so desirable. It’s also a big batch of muffins, but you won’t regret making the full batch.. all your friends will love you for it. I brought a batch to a friend’s gathering, turned around and it was all gone but one. Lucky I saved a few at home for my cheat day!

I think though, that it is the raspberries that does it. I mean, how often do we taste real big bites of raspberries in muffins these days? Usually, the are sparse, if not artificial. Real good ingredients is what make these muffins perfect the way it should be.

Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Muffins (made around 30 muffins for me!)
400 grams plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
250 grams castor sugar
480 ml buttermilk.
3 eggs
225grams dark chocolate
225 grams raspberries
55 grams raw sugar
icing sugar

Preheat Oven to 190C. Line muffin tins with cases. Sift flour and baking powder. Add sugar.
Melt butter. Remove heat and stir in buttermilk. Using a whisk, stir in eggs to combine. Pour over dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Fold chocolate and raspberries through. Spoon into tins. Sprinkle raw sugar on top. Bake for 20-25 mins. Cool, then dust with icing sugar.


Fish and Prawn Cakes

A blink of an eye and I have been in Australia for 12++ years. Pretty much an adolescent in terms of developmental growth. Yes, I have grown to adore the place that I met and fell in love, established a home and married. It’s a little scary to know that one day, I will spend more time in this country than my hometown.

During this period of time, I continued to stay in contact with my closest and dearest friends. I recall that we had chats on ICQ (I presume it no longer exists!!), and hand write letters and cards to each other. I brought along an autograph book with all the profiles of my friends and read them whenever I felt homesick. It graduated to text messages and of course emails. And now, it’s whatsapp and skype/facetime.

Technology keeps us close. I never felt they are too far away. One of my best buddies and I often chat on email on what kind of quick lunches she can prepare and the outcome of one of those emails was these fish and prawn cakes.

I grew bored of grilled fish and thought of blending snapper with some prawns. The result was a bouncy tasty fish cake! I was so pleased with it. I seasoned it with spring onions, chopped chili and salt and pepper. Egg and some almond meal was used to bind it together. Nothing fancy but it reminded me of home.

Fish and Prawn Cakes (makes 12)
400 grams of white snapper
300 grams of shelled tiger prawns
1/4 cup of almond meal
3 springs of spring onion chopped
2 red chili padi chopped
1 egg
salt and pepper

Blitz all together. Shape into patties. Heat oil on pan and fry both sides till brown.


Indian Style Chicken Quinoa Salad

You have probably caught on the news that quinoa is a wonder food. Well, all ingredients are pretty wonderful to me, but quinoa has a special quality to it. It is a high protein seed.

The nutritious factor of this ingredients make its very appealing. Not to mention the nutty taste to it as well. Tigerfish from Tecacape use it regularly and so does a few other bloggers.

Now that I have got used to having complex carbs around 3 days a week, hubby and I love how good it feels in our bodies. It’s amazing how much our digestive system adapts and I feel likes bloated and sluggish. This doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy food- which is what some of our friends seem to have misunderstood. It means I have to be more creative than ever without sacrificing taste. We still love our food and sweets!

I paired our chicken salad up with some indian spiced quinoa- I love the aroma of mustard seeds popping in oil with some cumin and garam masala spice. With some grilled chicken and spinach, it means a very tasty and fulfilling meal.

Indian Style Chicken Quinoa Salad 

2 chicken breasts- quartered

1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon of mustard seed
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tsp of chili powder
1 tsp of garam masala
1 tsp of garlic 
1 cup of quinoa
2 cups of stock of water

4-5 cups of spinach or mixed salad leaves
chopped chili for garnish

Grilled chicken till done. Sliced
In a pot, heat oil and add mustard seeds. Once it starts to brown, add all other spices and fry it for around 2 mins. Add garlic and quinoa. Add water or stock. Simmer for 5-10 mins till quinoa is done. Toss it with chicken and mixed salad leaves. Garnish with chili if desired.


Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream

 Earlier this year, I said that I’m going to have a hand in making more ice creams this year. It took me a while, but finally I got to it. Part of it of course, is that we have a tiny freezer and I have to freeze the ice cream bowl. Well, things will change in the next few months when we finally invest in a bigger freezer and fridge!

Coming back to the ice-cream, I have to say it is the creamiest ice cream I have made. I suspect, it’s the coconut milk that we used that added to that creaminess.

Churning the mixture, and waiting for 25 minutes to firm up was exciting. When it was finally done, I stopped the machine and saw that it has turned into creamy custard. Oh yum! I froze it overnight, and we had ours with waffles together with a few friends.

I adapted this recipe from David Lebovitz’s ice cream recipe which is probably one reason why it is so good! What’s next I wonder!!?!? Ice cream here I come!

Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream 
250 ml coconut milk
2/3 cup of philediaphia cream for desserts
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup of sugar
1 vanilla bean scrapped

Simmer coconut milk, cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a saucepan slowly on low heat. Then slowly add in whisk egg yolks in the mixture. Cool. Chill for 30mins to 1 hr. Then place in ice cream machine and churn for 25-30 mins.


Burmese Style Beef Curry

Experimenting with curries has been interesting. It certainly took me out of my comfort zone in the kitchen.  Blending of spices, chopping of ginger, tasting and making sure the blend of tastes is ok… woah! I am used to quick and easy in the kitchen!

But out of comfort zone is good. It’s ok. I read somewhere that when your mind stretches, it can never go back. I believe it is the same with cooking. Every other week, I want to see if I could go further, taste more and make another batch of curry.

I have to confess that the original recipe does not use beef. I don’t think burmese would used that much beef since many burmese are buddhists. Nevertheless, hubby requested for beef curry and he gets beef curry!

The tang from tamarind, the saltiness from the balachan or shrimp paste… yum!

Burmese Style Beef Curry- Adapted from Asian and Thai Curry by Hermes House Serves 4
4 cm fresh ginger grated
3 red chili padi chopped
2 lemongrass white bit chopped
1 tbsp shrimp paste
1 tsp brown sugar
500 grams lean beef cubes
1 cup of water
2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp dark soy sauce
5-6 tablespoon of tamarind juice
1 tbsp fish sauce

Food processor- grind ginger, chill and lemon grass. Add shrimp paste and brown sugar to make it to a paste.

Saute paste till nice and fragrant. Add beef and brown them. Then lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in some water, turmeric, soy sauce into the pan. Taste, season and cook for another 30 minutes or so. Last 5 minutes, add the tamarind juice. Serve with veges.


Thai Pork Larb Salad

It’s coming up to the long weekend and I am glad. Nothing like an extra few days to rest up and recharge. At the same time, it’s also a time to reflect and thank our wonderful Lord for sacrificing for us.

This is another low carb recipe that I love. Mince is so easy to use and reasonably priced that it’s hard to resist. I’m embracing lemongrass, ginger and garlic in this one. I wish I have some mint on hand and basil because I am sure it will add more flavours in the salad. I added some cashew for the added crunch factor.

I usually have my doubts on Asian salads. I mean, growing up, we rarely have salads. The first salad I had was Mum teaching me how to make egg mayo sandwiches-if that is even considered as a salad (the egg bit I mean). But then, we rarely had thai food either.

My neighbour gave us some limes and I am going crazy about them. It’s not often that we have limes because they are quite pricey at the markets. I tend to use lemons instead. However, I have to admit that limes still win in terms of adding the zing to this dish!

Thai Pork Larb Salad (serves 4)
400 grams lean pork mince
2 stalks of lemongrass white bit chopped
2 tsp of garlic
2 red chill chopped
4 cm knob ginger grated
few mushrooms-shitake if you have, I used button chopped
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 tsp of sugar if you like, but I did not add any

Fresh salad leaves
4 limes-for each meal.
handful of cashew nuts

Heat pan till hot. Saute garlic lemon grass, chill and ginger. Brown pork mince. Add in mushrooms. Stir through fish sauce. Taste. Season if needed. Top on salad leaves with lime and cashew nuts.


Best Ever- Double Choc Chip Cookies

A good cookie makes you pause and want more. I have always said that cookies are more tricky to master than cakes- the little gems on the baking tray seems to have a temper of its own.

I have struggled to make great cookies- good cookies, maybe, but I like my cookies slightly crisp, slightly chewy- you know, the kind you have at cafes. But they also have to taste homemade. Not the package deal.

So I don’t call best ever lightly. So it does makes a difference chopping lindt dark chocolate and adding it to the dough. Did I also mention there was MORE lindt chocolate melted into the dough as well? Chocolate on top of chocolate, how can it not be good? What is more amazing, is that I happened to stumble on this recipe while browsing at Nigella Lawson’s website. This comes from Big Fat Chewy Cookies (now I want that book!).

Caution- the batter spread like CRAZY in the oven. I wouldn’t put more than 6 cookies on the tray. The good news is that they are indeed BIG and crisp and chewy. A cookie for the long weekend perhaps? 😉

Best Ever- Double Choc Chip Cookies
100 grams Lindt Chocolate
150 grams flour
30 grams cocoa
1tsp bicarb
1/2 tsp salt
125 grams butter
70 grams brown sugar
45 grams white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
200 grams chopped lindt chocolate

Preheat Oven 180C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Melt chocolate in saucepan over hot water or in microwave.

Place flour, cocoa, bicarb and salt in a bowl.

Cream butter and both sugars. Add in melted chocolate. Add egg and vanilla extract. Slowly add dry ingredients in wet. Fold through.

Add in chopped chocolate last. Fold through. Using an ice-cream scoop, level dough and place on tray. Do not try to press down. Cook for 15-18 minutes. It should look set. Cool on tray slightly and place on rack. It will harden when cooled.