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The day Bel & I lingered (dodgily) around a carpark

December 5, 2010

I told Amy last Wednesday, when I cooked dinner for a bunch of people that I don’t often see outside of university (+ Angel & Ben; was so great meeting you guys ;-D !), that I would eventually post up a couple of my favourite (successful) recipes for you to try out for yourself. After moving out of “the nest” about two years ago (a few months after this blog was created !), I was given a bunch of cookbooks and taught myself how to cook. Silly me paid very little attention to my grandma’s amazing cooking so there was a lot of hit and misses, but there were surprisingly quite a few gems as well. So here it is, finally, some dishes that I have tried, loved & shared. I hope you enjoy !

Syrian chicken

This wonderful book by Karen Martini, who is a writer for Melbourne newspaper — The Age (in the epicure section), was given to me by my dear friend, Nat, who used to be my house mate and lived next door to me back in the surburbs ! I have since tried many of Martini’s recipes, and seriously love this cook book. I have revisited this particular recipe so many times because 1) it’s quite unusual and 2) it’s really really mouth-watering and delights my nose ~ mmm.. all those spices ! It’s the dish that won me over when I cooked something for my host family in Vichy. This is a must try !

2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp ground turmeric
size 14-16 free-range chicken, cut into 8 pieces (I just use 1 chicken)
100ml olive oil
2 brown onions, thickly sliced
100g fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
5 cloves garlic, bruised with the back of a knife
2 small red chillies, split (optional)
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 pinches saffron threads
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
5 sprigs thyme
1 lemon, juiced and zest finely grated
2 tbsp honey
100g currants
2 tbsp vegetable stock powder (I prefer using chicken stock if you don’t have vegetable stock !)
1/2 bunch coriander leaves
cooked couscous or rice, to serve

Combine salt, cumin, cinnamon, pepper and turmeric in a large plastic bag. Add chicken pieces and shake to coat.

Heat olive oil in a large heavy-based pan over high heat. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Add onions, ginger, garlic and chillies to pan and cook for 3 minutes, adding a little more oil, if necessary. Add tomatoes, saffron, cumin seeds and thyme and cook for 2 minutes.

Return chicken to pan and add lemon juice and zest, honey, currants, stock powder and enough water to just cover chicken. Cover with a lid and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked through and sauce is slightly reduced. Stir in coriander. Serve with couscous or rice.

Serves 4

Soupe de légumes tout simplement
(vegetable soup, pure & simple)

First a small remark about the design, layout, and photography in this cookbook  — it is stunning ! Probably one of the most visually stunning cookbooks that I own (quite a few). My mum gave this as a gift to me, and Nat & I gave this as a gift to one of our foodie friends — Kris, who lucky thing, is in Europe !! I just love French food. Too bad it’s typically so expensive. Better get this cook book and make it yourself ;-P. Heaps and heaps of recipes within its 480 pages of food lust !

For 6 – preparation time: 30 minutes
cooking time: 45 minutes

4 potatoes
4 carrots
1 sweet potato
2 turnips (from this recipe, I’ve learnt that I hate turnips, so I now skip this ingredient !)
1 leek
1 onion (I always add more)
2 celery stalks
80g demi-sel (semi-salted) butter
1 tsp cumin
100g thick crème fraîche (LOVE IT !)
6 sprigs chives
salt, pepper
* chicken stock (I add this as it gives it more taste !)

1. Peel all of the vegetables and chop them into cubes. Place them in a pot, cover with twice their volume of water and cook for 40 minutes on a low simmer

2. Purée this mixture, then add the cumin. Add the butter, process again to emulsify the mixture well and season

3. Finely snip the chives, mix with the crème fraîche. Season.

4. Serve the soup with chive  crème fraîche


Chicken & mushroom party pies



Voila ! Here is my recipe book made up of recipes that I’ve torn out of magazines and newspapers. You can buy one at Kikki.K or you can just make your own ! I first made these for Nat & I’s house warming back in 2008. They’re a little time consuming to prepare, especially if you’re making them for a large crowd, due to cutting out all the pastry (or maybe I’m slow !), but they’re really quite delicious ! They’re good as an entrée or “snack/comfort food” even !

Makes 24. Prep & cook time — 55 minutes

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small (80g) brown onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, crushed
400g chicken mince
100g mushrooms, chopped finely
2 tsp plain flour
3/4 cup (180ml) cream
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
3 sheets ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
1 egg, beaten lightly
2 sheets ready-rolled puff  pastry
2 tsp sesame seeds

1. Heat the oil in a medium, preferably non-stick, pan; cook the onion and garlic, stirring until the onion softens. Add the chicken and mushrooms; cook, stirring, until the chicken changes colour. Add the flour; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the cream; cook, stirring, until the mixture boils and thickens. Stir in the chives and allow the mixture to cool.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced/350°-375°F/4-5 gas mark. Grease two 12-hole (2-tablespoons/40ml) deep flat-based patty pans.

3. Cut twenty-four 7cm/23/4″ rounds from the shortcrust pastry; press into the pan holes. Brush the edges with a little of the egg; spoon the chicken mixture into the pastry cases.

4. Cut 24 6cm/21/2″ rounds from the puff pastry; top the pies with the puff pastry lids; press the edges firmly to seal; brush the lids with the remaining egg; sprinkle with sesame seeds; cut a small slit in the top of each pie.

5. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the pastry is lightly browned; leave the pies standing in the pan for 5 minutes before removing them.


I hope you try these out sometime ! And please if you do, let me know how it goes ;-D I will do another one on future on desserts !

This post relates to goal #79.

Story behind the title —

Today at Federation Square car park there was the bi-annual (July/December) Melbourne Design Market ! So many stores and people selling all sorts of wonderful, amazing goodies: stationary, lighting, pottery, clothes, mugs, photography, art works etc. The only terrible thing was the heat ! It was 30C today + 5C in the car park ! Was well worth it though. More on the things I picked up later. Some of it will be going towards a giveaway I have planned to do shortly ! ;-D Stayed tuned.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2010 12:20 am

    Very yummy.

  2. December 6, 2010 12:59 am

    it’s so sweet how you stick post-its in the recipe book once you’ve tried the recipe out! the dishes look really delicious! :)

    and i have to say, i love your table! it’s filled with so many wonderful things. definitely looking forward to the giveaway! :D xx

    • mookxi permalink*
      December 8, 2010 11:43 am

      Haha, if I didn’t I would forget what I tried to make ! Also this way I can note to myself how I could improve a particular recipe or whether I should make it again if it was really delicious ;-D Do you do something similar ?

      Thank you ! I will post about it in next post ! ;-)

  3. December 6, 2010 1:21 am

    Ahhhh, I want to try the chicken one. It looks yummmyy!

    And I have also created one of those recipe things, although I just kind of stuck them in to a small booklet. But it’s basically for my mum’s viewing pleasure since she loves reading recipes and looking at the pictures heh.

    I kind of can’t wait to live by my self but then I remember, I’m really lazy. And uh, cooking every day for myself is going to take time getting used to xD

    • mookxi permalink*
      December 8, 2010 11:47 am

      It is VERY VERY delicious ! I mean cinnamon in savoury food ? You have to try it !

      I think that’s sweet of you ! My mum can’t cook but I also think she enjoys looking at cook books (the ones with the photos).

      Hahah, I’m quite lazy too ! I eat out quite a bit .. ;-x Lots of take away places nearby !

  4. December 6, 2010 2:12 am

    Yummy !

  5. December 6, 2010 8:27 am

    yumm hungryyy~ I love the lighting in your pics – so full of light and dreams~

    • mookxi permalink*
      December 8, 2010 11:49 am

      ;-D I try and shoot in the middle of the day when the sun is bright and the lighting is good !

  6. December 6, 2010 9:03 am

    I love trying out new recipes! :) hm.. looks like I need to go shopping for some ingredients though :P

    Hope you have fun at the Design Market! :) Can’t wait to see what you got! :p

  7. December 6, 2010 3:09 pm

    Wow. Thanks for posting up the recipe! It looks so yummy I might just try that xx

    • mookxi permalink*
      December 8, 2010 11:50 am

      Please do try it, and tell me how it goes ! ;-)

  8. December 7, 2010 3:07 pm

    :O Recipes! I can’t wait till the Christmas break so I can make something whether it’s just small things. But I definitely want to try the recipes you posted though they might be too advanced for me :D

    • mookxi permalink*
      December 8, 2010 11:51 am

      They’re not advanced at all ! Promise ! Cause’ I’m a noob. Probably takes more patience and time than skill ;-P Tell me how it goes Gloria !

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