Legumes & Nuts

This recipe is from the ‘make + freeze’ section from the new Donna Hay magazine (50th issue, autumn). I always love the make + freeze section of the magazine; as the name suggested, I can make the dish and freeze it in the freezer for the next time when I need a quick meal 🙂

The recipe is for spicy chorizo and beans; it’s an incredibly easy to make dish and taste oh-so-wonderful. Not only that, it also has the goodness of the beans :). The other good thing is that in the magazine Donna Hay showed a few dishes that can be made from this chorizo and beans stew. You can serve it with crusty bread, have it as an easy pasta sauce, or make cheesy chorizo and bean pies.

I divided the stew into 4, used 1 portion for the cheesy pies and put the other 3 portions into separate airtight containers and freeze them. The cheesy pies taste so delicious!! No kidding! When you bite into the crispy pastry, you will get the tasty chorizo, soft beans in a rich and spicy tomato sauce combined with the melting cheese. It’s just so great!

I will definitely make the pies again and will also try the stew with pasta next week 🙂

Chorizo and beans

(recipe from Donna Hay magazine, autumn issue 50)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 chorizo, sliced
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 2 x 400 gr can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 x 400 gr can beans. I used 2 cans of mixed beans and 1 can of chick peas
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Step 1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the chorizo, onion and garlic and cook for 8-10 minutes or until golden and tender.

Step 2. Add the chilli, paprika, oregano, tomato and sugar. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Add the beans and balsamic vinegar and cook for 2 minutes.

To freeze:

Divide the chorizo and beans into 4 portions and place in airtight containers or zip lock bags. Freeze for up to 3 months.

To defrost:

Place the container or bag in the fridge overnight and allow to defrost completely.

Cheesy chorizo and bean pies

(recipe from Donna Hay magazine, autumn issue 50)

(makes 4 pies)

  • 1 portion chorizo and beans (¼ of the above recipe)
  • 2 store-bought puff pastry sheets
  • 1 small handful of fresh oregano leaves
  • 4 cheddar cheese slices
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Cut each puff pastry sheet into 4 equal squares. Place 4 squares on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.

Step 2. Divide the chorizo and beans among the 4 squares, sprinkle with the oregano leaves and top with the cheddar cheese slices. Top with the remaining pastry squares and press edges to seal. Brush the pies with the lightly beaten egg and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

love this delicious hearty pie 🙂



One kilogram of chestnuts is one of my impulse buyings when I went to Vic market last Friday (the others are red long chillies and chocolate brioche :P). The chestnuts I got were very big and only AUD10 a kilo!! I already know what to do with them when buying them. Roast them, of course!

In Melbourne city area, on the side of the road or near the intersection, the roast chestnuts sellers emerge during this season (autumn/ winter). They roasted the chestnuts in front of you on a small and portable grill. The smell of roasting chestnuts is so oh-la-la. Whenever I walked past them, it always makes me want to get a little paper bag filled with them. The price for a handful of roasted chestnuts is quite dear, tho. It’s like AUD3.50 or something *sigh…*

I never really know how to correctly roast them. I tried roasting them a couple of times a long while ago; I thought it was ok, but the peeling of the chestnuts can indeed be a nightmare. Before, I actually peeled them when I am about to eat them; i.e. that can be when they are already cold. I did my research on the Internet on how to roast chestnuts in the oven. The most important things are you cut a cross on each chestnut to allow the steam to escape during roasting (otherwise they can explode!) and that you must peel them when they are still warm (including the inner thin skin layer), otherwise they will be impossible to peel. There you go! Peel them when they are still warm.

So I did all that and still found peeling chestnuts is incredibly hard. Some chestnuts are easy, but the others are like impossible to peel the inner thin skin layer; it stubbornly sticks on the nuts. So we ended up breaking a lot of chestnuts during the peeling process and some we just need to bit the chestnut off from its thin skin. I don’t entirely mind this – Yum! :P. We still managed to get some intact peeled roast chestnuts for the photos. The peeled roast chestnuts did not stay around for too long. They are soo sweet and yummy!

If anyone know some tips to peel the chestnuts more easily, please kindly enough let me know 🙂

Roast chestnuts

(from ‘Taste.com.au’ on how to roast chestnuts in the oven)

  • 1 kg chestnuts

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Rinse the chestnuts, drain and dry well. Cut an X on one side of each chestnut using a sharp knife all the way through the skin to allow the steam to escape.

Step 2. Arrange the chestnuts on a baking tray with the cut sides up. Roast for 10 minutes, then turn the chestnuts to the other side and roast for a further 10 minutes.

Step 3. Place the chestnuts in a bowl and cover with tea towel. Peel the chestnuts as soon as you can handle them, including the inner thin skin. They will be very difficult to peel once cold (Trust me!). Place the peeled chestnuts in a jar or bowl and enjoy 🙂


I am always excited when cooking lentils 🙂 I always think I did not cook lentil often enough, despite the health benefit it has (lentil is legume, it is recommended to have at least 2 serves of legume every week). Lentils are high in protein and fibre and they help lower cholesterol. For more information, see here.

The type of lentil used in this recipe is puy lentil. It costs AUS4.00 for 250 gr in Victoria market. This recipe is incredibly easy to make and every ingredient in this recipe says ‘healthy’ :). Fish, lentils, celery, onions; and the flavour comes from fresh chillies, thyme and bay leaves. The dish tastes fresh and clean.

The cooked lentils in this recipe can be matched with other fish or meat, such as pan-fried chicken breast. Other vegetables like capsicum or leeks can also be used for the lentils. So there you go, many variations can be made from this recipe; this dish will definitely be one of our regular dinner menus 🙂

Fish with spicy puy lentils

(adapted from the recipe from ‘Cook smart for a healthy heart’, Reader’s Digest, 2004)

(serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 red chillies, finely sliced
  • 250 gr puy lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 x white fish fillet (about 150 gr each). I used baramundi
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges to serve

Step 1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium fire. Add onion, celery and chillies and cook gently for 2 minutes. Stir in the lentils. Add the water, thyme and bay leaves and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Add salt to taste. If at the end of this time the lentils have not absorbed all the stock, drain them (you can use the excess stock to make a soup).

Step 2. Ten minutes before the lentils are ready, preheat a non-stick frying pan over medium fire. Mix together the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and pepper. Pour the mixture over the fish fillets. Pan-fry the fish fillets for about 4 minutes on each side or until the fish flakes easily.

Step 3. Spread the lentils in a serving plate and top with the fish fillets. Serve with lemon wedges.

Lentil is good for you!


Tempeh or tempe is made from soy beans in a controlled fermentation process that binds the soy beans into a cake form. For more information about tempe, see here.

I grew up having tempe at least once a week, either for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s widely available in Indonesia and it’s considerably cheap. I remember when going to the local market with my mom, she always bought a block of tempe. So, basically there was always tempe when I opened the fridge 😀

Many dishes can be created with this humble tempe. Tempe can be easily shallow-fried (slice the tempe, then soak them in salted water for at least 30 minutes), fried with batter, stir fried with vegetable, etc. This recipe is one of my favourite tempe dishes; it’s tempe stir-fried with chillies, garlic, shallot in sweet soy sauce or kecap manis. It’s incredibly easy to make too.

Tempe can easily be found in most Asian grocery stores in Australia. They usually are frozen and come in small packages. The ones available in Melbourne are 225-gr packages and they are made in Australia. The price for 1 package is about AUD3.50, which is quite expensive if you compare to the price in Indonesia :P. But this Australian-made tempe is very good and taste the same as the ones I had in Indonesia. It’s worth it to cure my home-sickness 🙂

Tempe is incredibly healthy too; it is made from soy beans (legumes) and high in protein and fibre. It is suitable for vegetarians, and because of its firm texture, some consider it as meat substitute.

Tempe with sweet soy sauce

(my mom’s recipe)

(serves 4 – 6)

  • 3 x 225 gr tempe from asian grocery store
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 3 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 red chillies, sliced
  • 2 green chillies, sliced
  • 2 cm ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cm galangal, peeled and sliced
  • 2 x lemongrass, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 cup sweet soy sauce (kecap manis), or to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • 1½ cup water

Step 1. Cut the tempe to about 1-cm cubes. Heat the olive oil in a wok over medium fire. Add in the shallots and garlic and fry until they are fragrant. Add in the chillies, ginger, galangal, lemongrass and fry until fragrant.

Step 2. Add in the tempe, mix well and cook for about 2 minutes. Add in the soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, salt and pepper. Combine well and then add in the water. Bring to boil and cook until the water evaporates and the sauce is thick. You can add more soy sauce, salt and pepper to your liking. Serve with hot steamed rice.

It’s so yummy…!


It’s Saturday and I have the day off :). So I planned to spend more time in the kitchen and cook something more fancy that requires longer time to prepare. The dish I chose is a vegetarian dish by Anna Gare from The Best in Australia. I was thinking this dish would be perfect for a warm night as it is such a light and refreshing meal. It turned out it was pouring rain in Melbourne. It was not that cold; but we had a very heavy down pour and also hail storms!! So lucky we stayed home tonight!

The dish is Dukkah eggplant with roasted tomato and chickpea salad. It’s not only a healthy vegetarian dish, but also very tasty :). The crunchy dukkah has a gorgeous texture and matches well with the delicate eggplant. The roasted tomato and onions are caramelised and that really brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes and onions. The chickpea is a nice addition to the dish and the coriander really brings out the freshness to the dish. The yoghurt gives the acidity to the dish and balances the sweetness from the tomato salad.

I am very happy with how the dish turned out. I will definitely make this again 🙂

Dukkah eggplant with roasted tomato & chickpea salad

(adapted from recipe by Anna Gare, The Best in Australia)

(serves 4)


  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 60 gr hazelnuts
  • 60 gr almonds
  • salt

Dukkah eggplant

  • 2 medium eggplants sliced in ½cm rounds
  • Dukkah spice mix (above)

Roasted tomato and chickpea salad

  • 8 roma tomatoes, each cut into quarters
  • 2 medium red onions cut into 8’s
  • 2 cloves sliced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 400 gr canned chick peas, drained
  • 1 cup freshly chopped coriander


  • ½ cup yoghurt
  • juice from 1 lemon

Step 1. Roasted tomato and chickpea salad. Cut tomatoes, onions & garlic and place on baking tray. Sprinkle sugar, salt, balsamic & oil over and bake in slow 140°C oven for 1½ hours. Remove from oven and toss through fresh coriander & chickpeas.

Step 2. Dukkah. While the tomatoes are cooking, dry fry all spices separately in a heavy based pan. Roast nuts all together on a tray in the oven. Crush the nuts and spices in mortar & pestle and add salt to taste.

Step 3. Dukkah Eggplant. Slice eggplants thin. Fry on hot pan or grill (with olive oil) until brown & just cooked. Remove from pan and whilst still warm coat each side of eggplant with dukkah spice. Reheat in oven when ready to serve.

Step 4. Dressing. Prepare the dressing by mixing the yogurt and lemon juice.

Step 5. To serve, cover base of platter or plate with spiced eggplant slices and top with warm salad & drizzle with dressing.

Dukkah eggplant with roasted tomato and chickpea salad


This side dish is popular in Singapore/ Malaysia and it is usually found in nasi lemak dish. It’s extremely easy to make and it can be kept in an airtight container(s) for a couple of weeks. Best enjoyed with hot steaming rice; but as the recipe owner mentioned, it is also good on its own as a snack. It’s a bit similar to popcorn… once you pop, you can’t stop 😛

The original recipe does not use sugar for the chilli paste, so basically it is a salty and spicy dish. I added sugar because I thought the caramelised sugar would add a nice flavour and balance the saltiness. So sugar is optional here; when you make the dish, taste it before you add sugar and see if you prefer it salty or if it needs some sweetness.

Spicy anchovies and peanuts

(adapted from recipe by Helina Lee, Food Safari)

  • 300 gr dried and salted anchovies (ikan bilis)
  • 200 gr raw peanuts, skin on

Dried anchovies and peanuts

Chilli paste

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • red chillies. I used 8 small red chillies.
  • 8 candlenuts
  • 1 tablespoon dry chilli powder
  • 2 tablespoons anchovies (ikan bilis)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar


Step 1. Dry fry anchovies and raw peanuts over low heat for 30 minutes, toss regularly. Let it cool.

Dry fry anchovies and peanuts

Step 2. To make the chilli paste, blend onion, garlic, chillies, candlenuts, chilli powder and anchovies in a food processor or hand blender.

Ingredients for the chilli paste

Blend to make chilli paste

Step 3. In a wide pan or wok, fry chilli paste with oil until fragrant and then mix in anchovies and peanuts and stir well to coat. Add sugar and mix well.

Fry the chilli paste

Stir in the anchovies and peanuts and mix well

Step 4. Cool and store in airtight containers.

Spicy anchovies and peanuts


Chicken satay is one of the many favourite dishes from Indonesia. There are many varieties of chicken satay dishes; one in particular I love is chicken satay with peanut sauce. The chicken meat is cut into small cube pieces, then skewered into bamboo sticks, then the skewers are grilled over the hot charcoal. The chicken satay is served with peanut sauce and rice or with ‘lontong’, which is rice cooked in banana leaf.

I found this recipe from TasteSpotting website. The recipe uses many spices to marinate the chicken pieces. The peanut sauce is optional here as the chicken satay are already flavoursome. The peanut sauce is very easy to make as it uses store-bought peanut butter :). I reduced the amount of vinegar used in the sauce and I also ended up heating up the sauce in a saucepan to cook the raw garlic and ginger (I am not too fond of raw garlic taste).

I used skinless chicken breast fillet and cut them into 2cm x 3cm cubes. The size is entirely up to you; I didn’t cut them too small so it wouldn’t take too long to prepare the skewers and to cook them. I used a grillpan to grill the satay.

Chicken satay with peanut sauce

(adapted from the recipe by Kate, the Parsley Thief)

(makes 15 satay)

  • 750 gr boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Step 1. Cut the chicken breasts into 2cm x 3cm cubes and put them in a container, or resealable bag.

Step 2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a blender & puree until smooth. Thin with a bit of water, if necessary. Pour the marinade over the chicken & chill for at least one hour, or overnight.

Marinate the chicken overnight

Step 3. Heat a grillpan over medium fire. Thread the chicken onto skewers. If using bamboo skewers, soak them ahead of time in water, to prevent burning. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side. Serve the satay with steamed rice and peanut sauce.

Peanut Sauce
(makes about 1 cup)

  • 2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2.5 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled & chopped
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • water to thin

Step 1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add water as necessary to thin to desired consistency.

Step 2. Pour the sauce into a small saucepan and heat over low fire until the sauce is about to boil. Stir regularly.

Peanut sauce

Chicken satay with peanut sauce


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