I become aware of Julia Child from the movie ‘Julie and Julia’. In the movie, Merryl Streep plays Julia Child and Amy Adams plays Julie Powell. I love the movie; it’s hilarious :). See here for more info about Julia. The film also captures the famous Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon from her book ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’.

I was tempted to make the beef bourguignon after watching the movie, but it was still summer then. The dish is wintery, so this time is kinda perfect for it :). I must say the dish is not a straightforward dish to make. To follow the recipe exactly, you need to have an iron cast pan or a casserole pan that is oven-proof and can also be used over the stove. I don’t have such a pan (I’ll keep an eye for an iron cast pan on sale!!), so I did not entirely stick to the recipe. See here for the original recipe.

I served the beef bourguignon with smooth mashed potato and it was fantastic :). It’s an absolute comfort food during winter. The beef is very tender and melts in your mouth, combined with the warm smooth mash. You can add some green vegetables such as green beans sautéd with garlic.

I know I did the shortcut this time. When I got my own iron cast pan, I will make the dish again and follow the recipe word by word! 😛

Beef bourguignon

(adapted from Julia Child’s beef bourguignon recipe)

(serves 6)

  • 6 bacon, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 kg lean stewing beef, cut into 5-cm cubes
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2½ cups stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 300 gr button mushrooms

Step 1. Preheat oven to 230°C. Sauté bacon in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a saucepan over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Set aside with a slotted spoon.

Step 2. Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat the bacon fat in the pan until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Set aside.

Step 3. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Once done, get rid of the bacon fat.

Step 4. Place the beef, bacon and the vegetables in a casserole dish and toss with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Place the casserole dish uncovered in the oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust). Remove casserole and turn oven down to 160°C.

Step 5. Add in wine and stock to the casserole dish, just enough so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Cover casserole, place in the oven for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

Step 6. About 10 minutes before the beef is ready, heat a pan over high heat and add the butter. Add mushrooms, toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.

Step 7. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef to it. Distribute the cooked mushrooms on top.

Step 8. Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 1½ cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Serve with mashed potato.

an absolute comfort food in winter…



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 🙂


Carbonara is probably the second best-known pasta sauce out there (second to bolognaise). It’s a very simple sauce and it’s favourited by many people because of the bacon pieces (who does not like bacon!) in a rich creamy sauce. I love carbonara and I do prefer the cream-based pasta sauce than the tomato-based. But sometimes I do feel guilty having pasta carbonara, if I let myself remember the ingredients of the sauce 😛

This version of fettuccine carbonara uses low-fat dairy and prosciutto to make a healthier dish. The taste is still yummy and I enjoy it even more knowing that it’s quite a healthy dish :). The crispy prosciutto are a gem!

The dish is simple to make; it’s a bit tricky when heating up the egg mixture. Do make sure to heat the egg mixture over low heat and stir constantly so the egg mixture lightly set (does not turn solid). I took photos while cooking so I did overcook the pasta sauce a little bit; the sauce should be more liquid and creamier than this.

It’s normally served with fettuccine, but other pasta can be used as well.

Fettuccine carbonara

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

(serves 4)

  • 350 gr fettuccine. I used dry fettuccine from the supermarket
  • 8 slices prosciutto (about 100 gr)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat cream
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat ricotta cheese
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • pepper to taste

Step 1. Cook the fettuccine in salted boiling water until al dente.

Step 2. Meanwhile, dry fry the prosciutto slices in a hot frying pan for 2-3 minutes or until just crisp. Remove and drain on paper towel, then crumble or snip into small pieces. Set aside.

Step 3. Beat the eggs with the cream, then mix in the ricotta, half of the parmesan cheese and a little pepper.

Step 4. Drain the pasta. Return the empty pan to the heat and pour in the egg mixture. Heat for 1  minute over low heat, stirring  constantly, then tip the drained pasta back into the pan. Toss the pasta with the creamy egg to coat the strands with the mixture. The heat of the pan and the hot pasta will lightly set the eggs to make a creamy sauce. Divide pasta in serving bowls and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese and the prosciutto pieces.

a healthier pasta carbonara 🙂


This delicious pork stew is one of the recipes we got from the Bumbu Bali Balinese Cooking school. Ig and I did a full day Balinese cooking program when we were in Bali last May 2009. We really had fun doing the program. The class size is kept to a small group of 10 people. The program started early in the morning where we visited the local and fish market. The head chef (Heinz) joined us from the morning and gave us a brief overview about Balinese food. He bought a variety of Balinese cakes and fruits in the market for our breakfast :). After the market, we went straight to the restaurant/ cooking school. We had our Balinese breakfast together in a huge wooden table in the middle of the garden. It was such a nice day and it’s good to be in an open area like that.

After breakfast, we headed straight to the kitchen (the kitchen is in open area as well). We learnt and made 22 recipes of Balinese food; each of us in the class took turn in making the dishes. For more information about the cooking school, see here.

The 22 dishes that we prepared and made were basically our lunch! What a feast!

This pork stew is considerably easy to make and does not have a long list of spices and ingredients like the typical Balinese foods are. It has a lot of garlic, shallots, ginger and chillies; and it uses the much-loved kecap manis or the Indonesian sweet soy sauce. I made this in the weekend; kept it in the fridge and served it a couple days after. It tastes better when reheated 🙂

Pork stew in sweet soy sauce

(adapted from recipe from ‘Bumbu Bali’, Balinese Cooking, Bali, Indonesia)

(serves 4)

  • 800 gr diced lean pork
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 70 gr shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 50 gr garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 50 gr ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 4 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 10 bird’s eye chillies, left whole
  • 2 cups water

Step 1. Heat oil in a heavy saucepan. Add shallots and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes over medium heat or until lightly coloured.

Step 2. Add pork and ginger, continue to sauté for 2 more minutes over high heat. Add sweet and salty soy sauce and black pepper; continue to sauté for 1 minute.

Step 3. Add the chillies. Then, add the water, little by little (ratio of 2 parts meat to 1 part liquid), and simmer over medium heat for approximately 1 hour.

Step 4. When cooked, there should be very little sauce left and the meat should be shiny and dark brown. If the meat becomes too dry during cooking, add a little more water. Best served with hot steamed rice.


I am so glad I did try this recipe (by Jamie from ‘My Baking Addiction’ food blog) I found from TasteSpotting. It’s not only easy to make, but the taste is also soo wonderful. I bought the beef short ribs at the Queen Victoria Market at $4.50 per kilo; it’s a cheap cut. Well, the bones are pretty heavy, but 2 kg of short ribs can feed 6 people.

It is an easy dish to make, but it needs time to cook. Overall, it took about 3 – 3½ hours to prepare and cook – well, 30 minutes is required to prepare, then 2½ – 3 hours is in the oven – in the mean time you can relax :). It’s soooo worth the wait. The meat is so tender and falling off the bones and the red wine sauce is gorgeous (no kidding!). I enjoyed them with hot steamed rice, but warm potato mash will be a great companion too. It is great for a cold night :). Serve it with garden salad for a light lunch.

Braised beef short ribs

(adapted from recipe by Jamie from ‘My Baking Addiction’ food blog)

(serves 6)

  • 2 kg beef short ribs, trimmed the fat then cut to individual ribs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 pieces bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 3 sprigs rosemary

Step 1. Season the ribs with salt and pepper. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 170°C. In a large wok, fry the bacon over medium heat until crispy and all fat is rendered. Remove bacon and set aside. Do not discard grease.

Step 2. Add olive oil to pan with the bacon grease, and raise heat to high. Brown ribs on all sides, about 45 seconds per side. Remove ribs and set aside. Turn heat to medium.

Step 3. Add onions and carrots to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of pan to release all the flavorful bits of glory. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes. Add water, 1 teaspoon salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Step 4. Arrange the ribs in a baking dish and pour the liquid. The ribs should be almost completely submerged. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs on top. Put on the lid and place into the oven.

Step 5. Cook for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 160°C and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Ribs should be fork-tender and falling off the bone. Remove baking dish from oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes, lid on, before serving. At the last minute, skim fat off the top of the liquid (Can also refrigerate mixture, then remove solid fat from the top.) Serve with potato mash or steamed rice.

… delicious 🙂


Jamie Oliver was in Australia about 2 weeks ago and Ig and I attended his show ‘Jamie Oliver Live’ in Melbourne on Sat 13 March’10. The show was fun and hilarious 🙂  It was a cooking show with a live band (The band is ‘Wonderbra’ from Sydney) 😀 Jamie was on the drum while cooking 2 of his dishes. He has a song about lamb curry where the lyric is the recipe, which he did perform on stage, singing and cooking the lamb curry. He is so cute…!

This dish is one of the dishes he showed us on the night. It is an utterly easy slow-cooked lamb shoulder. It just needs a minimal preparation to the lamb shoulder: put a few herbs and spices on the lamb,then chuck the lamb shoulder into the oven for a number of hours (½ kg meat requires about 1 hour cooking). In the meantime, you can relax or have a snooze or watch movies 🙂  Just remember to switch the timer on.

After slow-roasting the lamb, the meat should fall off the bones and can be easily shredded with 2 forks. If they haven’t, put the meat back in the oven. In the show, Jamie served the lamb meat with fresh chopped carrot and coriander with a drizzle of lemon juice inside a pita pocket. I love the idea and I did that with the leftovers lamb meat.

Jamie Oliver’s slow-cooked lamb shoulder

  • 2.4 kg lamb shoulder
  • 1 bunch rosemary
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup water

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 250°C. Spread half the rosemary, thyme and garlic cloves in a deep baking tray. Place the lamb shoulder on top of herbs and garlic. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin, salt and pepper on the lamb shoulder and drizzle the olive oil. Massage the lamb shoulder so it absorbs the spices. Scatter the remaining herbs and garlic on the top of the lamb. Pour the water into the tray and cover the tray with foil tightly.

Step 2. Place the tray into the oven. Then, lower the temperature to 170°C. Slow roast the lamb for 4½ – 5 hours.

Step 3. After 4½- 5 hours in the oven, the meat should fall off the bones; if it is not, put it back in the oven. Rest the lamb for 10 minutes before serving.

I shredded the meat and served it with chopped fresh carrot and coriander, and a dollop of yoghurt.

I also used the leftovers for lamb pita 🙂  Place the shredded meat inside the pita pocket with fresh vegetable and yoghurt and a drizzle of lemon juice.


Chinese BBQ pork or char siew is one of the favourite Chinese dishes. You will find the char siew hanging at the window of most Chinese restaurants, together with crispy skin pork, roast duck and roast chicken. For me, I would be like drooling when passing by the restaurants’ window (so would be my husband) 😀

Char siew is roasted pork meat, seasoned with hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce and sugar. When roasted, the sugar gives a nice caramelised taste for the pork and the honey gives a shiny glaze to the meat. Red food colouring can be added to enhance the presentation. Char siew can be enjoyed with steamed rice or noodle, and also be used in many other dishes, such as char siew buns, pastry filled with char siew, fried noodle, fried rice, etc.

There are abundant char siew recipes you can find on the Internet, they are pretty similar with the main ingredients of hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce and sugar. I just picked one of the many recipes; this recipe is from Lydia Teh, from her blog  ‘My Kitchen’. I chose pork loin as they are quite lean, and I roasted the meat instead of barbecuing it.

The result: absolutely irresistible!! It’s incredibly easy to make (seriously!!) and the result is finger licking good. I served the char siew with hot steamed rice and steamed broccoli . Absolutely satisfying 🙂 I still have some leftovers which I plan to make fried rice with for the next day 🙂

Chinese BBQ pork (Char siew)

(from the recipe by Lydia Teh, ‘My Kitchen’)

  • 1 kg pork fillets, trimmed and cut to fit the container


  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons maltose or sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • red food colouring (optional). I didn’t bother to use it

Step 1. Combine all the marinade ingredients and pour over the pork fillets and massage the pork fillets so the meat will absorb the marinade. Place the fillets and marinade in airtight container(s) and put the container(s) in the fridge for at least overnight.

I prepared the pork fillets right away after getting them from the market and leave the container in the freezer (for up to 3 months). Place the container in the fridge 1 day before you cook them to thaw

Step 2. To roast the pork fillets, preheat the oven to 170°C. Prepare a baking rack on a baking tray lined with foil or baking paper. Place the pork fillets over the rack. Reserve the marinade. Roast for 45 minutes, turning the fillets halfway the cooking. Reduce the reserved marinade by letting it simmer in a small saucepan until it slightly thickens. Baste the fillets with the reduced marinade a couple times while cooking.

Step 3. After 45 minutes, take the fillets out of the oven and cover them with foil. Let them rest for 10 minutes, then cut them into thin slices. Serve with hot steamed rice and some greens.

It’s so irresistible…


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