26 September 2010

Shanghai Scallions (葱油饼) with Smoked Salmon

Shanghai Scallions with Smoked Salmon

Over at the Almost Bourdain blog is a very simple recipe for Shanghai Scallions (葱油饼), a savory dough like pancake. This is a bit like an up market Australian damper.

They are quite easy to make, and the ingredient list is stuff you likely have lying around the house. After I'd made them a few times, we were looking for something simple for lunch, and tried them as a base for salmon and a bit of dill. Not quite traditional, but very tasty!

To make this, you will need:
  • 250 g all-purpose flour, with some extra for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 110 ml warm water
  • 20 g spring onions, finely chopped from the green part of the onion
  • 50 g vegetable oil
  • smoked salmon
  • cream cheese
  • dill
  • a drop or two of lemon juice

Making the pancakes takes a bit of preparation, for full details, refer to this article.
  1. To make the dough mix the sifted flour and salt, then slowly mix in the warm water. It took a few attempts at making these until I got the dough consistency to my liking, however they still taste great if the dough isn't quite right.
  2. Rest the dough under cling wrap for half an hour or so.
  3. Split the dough into two pieces and then roll out into a quite thin circle. The thinner you get it, the better the pancakes turn out.
  4. Brush the surface of the pancake with a generous amount of the vegetable oil, and sprinkle the spring onions around. This helps the layers form, so don't skimp on the oil.
  5. Roll the pancake and then pinch the ends together. Then flatten slightly and twist into a spiral. (Look at the pictures here).
  6. Flatten the spiral into a pancake. Either use your hands or the rolling pin.
  7. Cook the pancake in a fry pan on medium heat, with some oil, for 3-4 minutes on each side. If the pan is too hot, the outside will burn and the middle will be raw. Cut into wedges and serve.
  8. For the topping, mix together a generous amount of dill and the lemon with the cream cheese. Spread generously over the pancake wedges and top with the smoked salmon.

The pancakes are a great side dish, and with the salmon make a very tasty lunch.

27 July 2010

Gingerbread Snowflakes

We are back from two wonderful weeks in Sweden - we visited Stockholm, Örebro and Uppsala. We had a fantastic time catching up with old friends and making some new ones.

Here is a recipe for the gingerbread snowflakes I made for my birthday dinner a few weeks ago. Actually I used the same recipe I did for the gingerbread Christmas tree back in December, but I think they are quite a bit cuter than the christmas tree.

I'll just post it here again:

You will need:
  • 1/2 cups of brown sugar
  • 130 g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup golden syrup (or treacle)
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 3 cups of plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 200 g icing sugar
  • Snow flake cutter
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Combine your butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and when smooth separate your egg and add the yoke into the mix and combine. Combine in the golden syrup.

Sift in the flour, bi carb soda and spices and combine with the rest of the mixture.

Knead into a smooth ball and wrap in cling wrap and then place in the fridge for at least an hour, but I would recommend a couple of days so the spicy flavours thoroughly infuse the dough.

After at least an hour (I left mine in the fridge over night), take the dough from the fridge and lightly dust a clean surface with some plain flour and well as lightly dusting your rolling pin with flour as well.

Take a little of your dough and roll it until it is fairly thin, no more that about 4 mm high and put them on trays covered in baking paper and place them in the oven for about 10 minutes until they are golden brown.

Repeat for the remaining dough.

Once the biscuits have cooled, it is time to ice them.

For the icing put your leftover egg white to good use by using an electric mixer to mix it until it forms fairly stiff peaks and then sift in the icing sugar and combine. Add in a couple of drops of food colouring if you like. I used a couple of different bowls and added red to one, blue to another and left another white.

The icing part took me a looooong time to get the hang of - not only to get the correct consistency for the icing (add more icing sugar for finer details), but also to be able to ice without the snowflakes looking like they had been iced by someone who had just had 7 bottles of vodka. Finally after about 10 biscuits that looked so ugly I made Geoff eat them so they would not see the light of day, I got the hang of it.

I am looking forward to making more soon to practice my icing skills (and because they are delicious!)

6 July 2010


A couple of weekends ago Geoff and I had a dinner party to celebrate my birthday with some friends. Apart from making a huge pot of glühwein using my recipe, which is a yearly tradition for me, I also made gingerbread snowflakes, tartiflette and bitterballen.

Unfortunately by the time the tartiflette was ready, we were all a little hungry so we did not take photos of it for me to post up the recipe, so I'll just have to make it again. It was divine - how could anything involving the combination of potatoes, crème fraiche, white wine, jambon, brie, garlic, onions and thyme not be.

I decided to also make bitterballen as they are something I loved to eat growing up, but I had been reluctant to make them due to stories of the ridiculous amount of time it takes to create them. This proved to be (relatively) untrue. They took two days to make, but don't be fooled - they were not two full days of cooking or I'd have served dips, Turkish bread, double smoked gypsy ham and cheeses like I did last year - just a couple of hours on both days.

I have used the recipe from the ridiculously amazing book 'Snow Flakes and Schnapps' by Jane Lawson, I took the idea of adding in ketjap manis from this gorgeous food blog, and of course called my mother 15 times to get tips and help from her, plus to check if the recipe sounded like how my grandmother used to make them - and as always changing things around a bit for my own entertainment.

Bitterballen and their longer, larger, more sausage shaped friends kroketten are scrumptious Dutch snacks that have a soft meaty filling surrounded by a crispy coating of fried breadcrumbs. Dip them in whichever mustard makes you happy and life can really not get much better, especially on a cold and rainy night, such was my birthday party (well as cold as Australia can get!).

As with many staple foods around the world, bitterballen were created to use up scraps of things lying around, in this case meat, and reformed into something new and tasty. As such, the cut of meat you use is unimportant, I just bought some diced beef from the butcher.

What you will need:
  • Butter (I used salted)
  • 1 small brown onion
  • 400 g of beef (any old cut will do)
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp of finely chopped thyme
  • 750 ml beef stock
  • 350 ml milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ketjap manis
  • Plain flour
  • 5 eggs
  • Bread crumbs
  • Vegetable oil to use to fry the bitterballen
  • Your mustard(s) of choice
Now you will need to begin this the day before you serve them so that the filling has time to set in the fridge overnight.

To begin add a tablespoon of butter to a large pot and fry the chopped up onion until it browns a little. Add in the thyme and the crushed garlic and stir together. Add in the meat and brown.

Add the stock, milk and the bay leaf and bring to the boil and then let it simmer happily away for about 2 hours. Have a glass of wine, read a book, contemplate the meaning of life, or do what I actually did in that time - make incredibly cute gingerbread snowflakes!

Once the meat is falling apart nicely turn off the stove and strain the liquid - making sure to save it in a separate bowl - and place the meat in a large dish. Pull apart the meat using two forks so there are no large pieces remaining.

Place 3 tablespoons of butter in a fry pan and melt. Add in 75 g (or half a cup) of plain flour and combine. Whisk in about 310 ml of the strained liquid and continue until the mixture is beautifully smooth and very thick - this happened so fast and easily for me I thought perhaps I had done something wrong!

Add this sauce to the meat and combine, along with 1 tablespoon of the ketjap manis. You may want to add in a little salt - but for me it tasted really good without adding anything more. Some recipes advocate adding in things such as parsley - which I hate with a passion and have omitted from this recipe - feel free to add this or nutmeg if you enjoy the added flavour.

Make sure the mixture is evenly spread out in the dish and then cover the dish in cling wrap and put in the fridge overnight.

Day Two

By this point your mixture should be well and truly firm - but if it is not, don't stress, it is still not so hard to roll them into balls if it is a little soft - just put a little flour on yours hands first.

Start a production line - put some plain flour on a plate, whisk some eggs in a bowl next to it, cover another plate in breadcrumbs and finally an empty container in which to place the finished bitterballen.

Use a teaspoon to take small amounts of the mixture and roll them into balls - cover them first in flour, then dip them in the eggs, then cover them evenly in bread crumbs, dip them again in the eggs and again in the breadcrumbs. Make sure the bitterballen are properly coated and that the breadcrumb does not have cracks or they could fall apart when you fry them. Repeat for the remaning filling - you should get around 35 - 40.

I then placed the finished bitterballen in the fridge until the guests arrived a couple of hours later - you could also freeze any additional ones for another day.

To fry these tasty bites, use a little deep fryer like this one, or a heavy saucepan filled one third of the way up with the vegetable oil and heated to around 180 degrees Celsius. Fry the balls until they are golden brown and then transfer them to a paper towel covered plate to take off excess oil.

Serve with mustard and enjoy while they are still nice and warm.

Now, to finish packing for Sweden!

1 July 2010

Smoked salmon and dill on pumpernickle with apple and cashews

A couple of weeks ago Geoff and I were both on holidays and I was inspired to make us this delicious breakfast of pumpernickel with cream cheese, smoked salmon and fresh dill, couple with sliced apple and a few roasted cashew nuts.

We roasted the cashew nuts a day or two earlier in the oven, sprinkled with a little salt and also used them in a wonderful stir fry I will post up.

It took about 4 minutes to make, and was fresh, tasty and quite healthy. Yum!

21 June 2010

Fresh Pasta

Last weekend Geoff and I were watching this TED video by William Li about cancer fighting foods, and it inspired me to cook something using tomatoes.

The video is well worth watching, and although it reiterates many of the foods that have been recommended for their health benefits over the years, it is good to be reminded that I should make an effort to cook some of them more often, and that they really do have a positive impact on your health.

Just to summarise, some of the things he highly recommends are: green tea, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, oranges, lemons, apples, red grapes, red wine, bok choy, soy beans, ginseng, artichoke, pumpkin, tuna, garlic, tomato and olive oil.

Rather than made the pasta myself, we decided to try pasta from a lovely store near our house called Donninis Pasta that we have been meaning to try for some time. We chose artichoke agnolotti.

The pasta was beautiful and fresh and had a lovely flavour. I am looking forward to trying the pumpkin and almond agnolotti very soon.

I decided to make a simple tomato sauce to go with it, which took no time at all to make, but tastes delicious.

You will need:
For two people
  • 6 large ripe tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Fresh basil
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Sugar
Simply cut the tomatoes in half and place onto a tray or into a largish dish. Chop up the garlic into slivers and stick them into the tomatoes, about 2 slivers each. Chop up some basil and stick this into the tomatoes as well. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle some salt over the top.

Place in an oven at 200 degrees Celsius for about 40 minutes.

Once cooked, I like to mash it together with a potato masher so it is a little more rustic in texture, however if you prefer it to be more smooth, then use an electric mixer. Sprinkle in half a teaspoon of sugar and a little more salt to taste.

Boil a pot of water, and then place the pasta in to cook for about 5 minutes. Drain and serve. Very easy and delicious!


15 June 2010


Kanelbullar are delicious little Swedish cinnamon and cardamon rolls, traditionally eaten as a part of fika, which is basically Swedish for having a chat over coffee and little cakes like this. What a delightful word, it is things like this that made me love the Swedish language.

I made these for my last Swedish class of the semester a couple of weeks ago, and they were eaten very very quickly! I was actually surprised how easy these are to make, and how little time they took. I'll be making them regularly I think.

Geoff and I are off to Sweden in a couple of weeks for one of my best friend's wedding, so I am looking forward to having lots of delicious Swedish food there.

The recipe I used can be found here.

What you will need:

For the buns
  • 25g of yeast (I used dried yeast)
  • 75g of butter
  • 2 and a half dl of milk
  • Half a dl of white sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp of cardamon
  • Around 7 dl of plain flour (you may need a little more, just see how sticky the dough is)
For the cinnamon sugar/filling
  • 50 g butter or margarine
  • Half a dl of white sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (The recipe says only 1, but the more the merrier I say)
  • An egg
Melt the butter over the stove, and then add the milk until warm (around 37 degrees Celsius). Take off the stove and mix in the yeast allowing it to dissolve. Mix in the salt, cardamon and sugar.

Sift in the flour half a cup at a time - I ended up using a little more that 7 dl to ensure the dough was not too sticky.

Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes to rise. While you are waiting, mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.

Take the dough out and on a lightly floured bench, roll it into a 20cm x 50 cm rectangle. Spread the butter or margarine over the top. Sprinkle your cinnamon sugar over the butter. Roll the dough from the bottom up and then cut into 1/2 cm slices and place into cupcake containers as shown in the photo below.

Leave these to rise for another 30 minutes.

Whisk your egg and brush this over the top of each kanelbullar, and then sprinkle with pearl sugar. I found pearl sugar in this shop in Melbourne, but it is quite a bit bigger than I would have liked.

Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.

Enjoy with some good friends over a cup of tea or coffee.

A nice variation might be to replace the cardamon in the dough with cinnamon, and to dice up apples to scatter with the cinnamon sugar to make apple scrolls instead.

2 May 2010

Spanish Style Chicken with Rice

Chorizo & Chicken with Rice

Chorizo and I have a long history. It is the meat I craved the most while I spent two years as a vegetarian. So I'm biased toward Spanish food.

This week, I tried adding some chicken and rice to chorizo. The results were amazing.

There were a few steps, and getting it cooked required a bit more organisation than I normally apply in the kitchen. I recommend slicing the ingredients in advance, as there is not much time between each step once you get started.

You will need:
  • 4 small chicken thighs (I used boneless skin free)
  • 2 chorizo sausages, sliced
  • 160g short or medium grain rice (Calasparra if you're being fancy)
  • 1 small onion, thinly diced
  • 1 red capsicum, thinly diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • a pinch of saffron threads (if you have them)
  • 250g (1 punnet) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup oregano (I used a fresh paste)
  • 500 mL chicken stock (use real stock, it matters)
  • a handful of green beans, cut in half

First, prepare the chicken. Dust the pieces in a mixture of flour and salt, seasoned to taste. Then in a large (24cm) deep frying pan (or paella pan), fry the chicken in a few tablespoons of olive oil on a medium to high heat. The chicken should end up golden after 3-4 minutes. Remove and put aside.

Add the chorizo (yum!) to the pan and cook for a few minutes until golden. Set aside with the chicken.

Add the rice to the oil, stir to coat, and then stir for another 2-3 minutes until browned. From here, it is mostly about adding flavour to the rice.

Add onion, capsicum, and garlic. Stir frequently until the onion is very soft. Takes about 6-7 minutes. Then add the spices and stir until fragrant (1 minute).

Add in the liquid stock, tomatoes, capsicum, and chorizo. Place the chicken on top and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid or with foil and cook for 10 minutes. Add the beans and cook covered for a further 6-8 minutes.

If you can resist the wonderful smell, let it stand for 5 minutes to soak up the remaining liquid. Serve and enjoy!

Based on a recipe from Gourmet Traveller.
Chorizo & Chicken with Rice

5 April 2010

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

One of Michelle's favourite cakes is a simple carrot cake. The trick to a good carrot cake is to have the result be moist and not too dense; tasty icing helps too.

This recipe is adapted from a Donna Hay version of carrot cake. You could use other nuts or sultanas, however walnuts & pineapple slices are a winning combination.

You will need:
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bi-carb of soda (baking soda)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (although I used a bit more)
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 1/2 cups finely grated carrot
  • 3/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts (or other nut)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped pineapple pieces
  • 250g Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup icing sugar (or to taste)

Start things off by preheating the oven to 180 degrees. You will also need a greased cake tin, preferable spring form as it is easier to extract the cake.

Mix the sugar and oil together in a bowl with an electric mixer for around 3 minutes. Gradually add the 3 eggs and beat well.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bi-carb, cinnamon & ginger over the sugar mixture. It is easier if you combine this separately before sifting.

Now you have a good batter, stir in the carrot, walnuts & pineapple pieces.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for around 55-60 minutes.

For the icing, combine the cream cheese, some lemon rind and the sugar together and then spread over the cake. If you have any left over, sprinkle some of the walnuts over the top.

Now watch the cake disappear. Ours was a great treat on Good Friday and was gone within a day between four people. With all the carrot, it was a healthy treat, right?

19 March 2010

Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

Hello! Has it really been over a month since I last posted? Let me dust away the cobwebs and bring you a new recipe.

But before then, many many things have happened in the last month, the most important and exciting of which is that Geoff and I are now engaged!

Geoff is also travelling quite a bit for work, and I am back finishing my masters, so all is well, but very very busy.

The recipe today is Sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce. I have not been able to find much information on where this recipe is from, some sources say England, others New Zealand and others Australia. In any case, it is delicious, and I am sure it must be slightly healthy, what with all the dates... hmmm (strategically ignoring the cream, sugar, cream and oh yes, cream).

The recipe I used is from the Australian TV show called Masterchef, which I read somewhere was the highest rating TV show in Australian history. This would not surprise me, as I really don't watch much TV but I made an effort to watch this show on a regular basis, as it was so good. This was one of their many many delicious recipes, so I would recommend having a look at their website to find more.

You will need:

For the pudding itself:
  • 180 g chopped, pitted dates
  • 1 1/4 cups of water
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 60 grams of butter, soft
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of self raising flour
For the almond praline:
  • 1/2 cup of caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
For the butterscotch sauce:
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of cream
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
Ok, lets get started with the pudding. Preheat the over to 180 degrees Celsius and butter the pans you intend to cook the pudding in. I normally use a cake pan, but you make make little individual puddings as well if you like.

Chop the dates and add them and the water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Then remove from the heat and add in the bicarb soda and stir in order to break down the dates. Leave to cool, but stir every now and then.

In a bowl, add the sugar and butter and mix with an electric mixer, adding in one egg at a time. Once light and fluffy, add in the date mixture and then fold in the flour.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and place in the over for at least 30 minutes. The recipe says 40, but mine would have been overcooked, so just check in case it needs 10 minutes more.

Now for the almond praline. Sounds easy... just don't leave it on the stove and get distracted by a book and set the fire alarm off... hmmm... not that I would ever ever have done that!! lalala

Cover a baking tray in baking paper and sprinkle almonds over it. Add the sugar into a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water. Swirl the pan around and take off the heat once the mixture is beautiful and golden. Pour over the almonds and leave to cool.

Last but not least, the butterscotch sauce, one of the most delicious things on earth. Add the butter, cream, sugar and vanilla to a saucepan and leave on low heat until the butter is melted. The turn up the heat to boil, and finally reduce the heat until the sauce thickens.

For lazy days, you really do not need the almond praline, the rest of the recipe has more than enough sugar to put even the most sweet obsessed people into a sugar coma for a week or so... but it does look very cute!

Serve your sticky date pudding on a plate, drizzled with the butterscotch sauce, with a piece of almond praline, and maybe a little cream or ice cream to finish.

Enjoy and be merry, and remember, there is fruit in this recipe, so it must be ok!! (ok, well at least it tastes divine!)

4 February 2010

Delicious Red Capsicum Soup

I apologise for such a long time between recipes, but to be honest, lately I have had little to no desire to post, but rather have been reveling in university holidays. But now it is time for a new recipe, which can be eaten not only on a beautiful wintry night, but also in summer (just chill it first).

I am also excited to post in the near future some recipes from a beautiful German cookbook I bought in Bavaria around Christmas, so keep your eyes open for those in the next month. Many of the recipes are biscuits which I don't think I have posted here before, so that will be a nice addition to the blog I think.

You will need:
  • 6 large red capsicums
  • 4 -5 lemons
  • Bacon
  • Sour cream
  • Vegetable stock
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
Simply slice and de-seed the red capsicums (I think maybe they are called peppers in other countries?) and place them on a tray. Brush them with a little olive oil and pop them into the oven at about 200 degrees Celsius. Leave them in there until the skins start to turn black and then remove them from the oven to cool for a little while.

Once the slices have cooled enough to pick them up quite easily without fear of third degree burns, peel off the skins (oh what fun Geoff and I had doing this!) and then place the skinless slices into whatever pot you intend to use to make the soup.

Once completed use a hand held bamix type mixer (If you do not have one, then place the slices into a blender) and mix until smooth. Juice your lovely lemons and add the juice to the soup (add the extra lemon if you prefer the soup to be a little more tangy, which is what I think this soup is all about really).

Add in 250 ml of vegetable stock and mix it all together and then leave to slowly heat on the stove whilst you make the delicious bits of crispy baconness.

Slice about 4 pieces of bacon into little squares and fry in a fry pan with some olive oil and a little salt (smoked bacon is ideal) until the pieces are nice and crispy.

To serve ladle the soup into bowls, add a generous dollop of sour cream and sprinkle some of the bacon over each serving and mostly importantly, enjoy!

Delicious!!!! And healthy! And being such a lovely red colour helps too I think.

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