Saturday, February 15, 2014


I would love to say I am ultra foodie forward by creating dishes where no cooks have gone before. The truth is often there is no plan, I just make stuff up as I go along.
This is mainly the case around midweek dinners, racing from work, to create something spectacular with whatever is left in the fridge.
Our adventure begins while some Kipfler potatoes were merrily roasting.
I had some spring onions and wombok (Chinese cabbage) and cheddar, if only the potatoes weren't already roasting I could have made a colcannon. (I know you can mash roasted potatoes but not Kipfler, too fiddly)
So long story short and borrowing some wisdom from Kate Perry things can be Hot'N'Cold, so Cold-cannon was born.
 It has all the flavours of colcannon but with a freshness and crunch.
The original was meatless but I have never been one to say no to some crispy lardons, or even some speck as pictured below in another version.

  • 1kg potatoes (the variety is up to you)
  • 1/2 a large wombok
  • 4 spring onions finely sliced
  • 150g speck sliced (or 250g crispy lardons we all know not all of them will end up in the dish)
  • 150g grated cheddar or parmesan
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Roughly chopped the potato into even pieces, just a bit bigger than bite size.
  • Add to a baking dish with a good amount of olive oil, not drowning but enough to paddle.
  • Season the potato with salt and pepper
  • Bake in the oven till crisp and golden on 180°C, about 45mins.
  • Finely shred the wombok and add to a large bowl
  • Add the hot potatoes and combine
  • Mix through the spring onions, speck/lardon and cheese
  • Season to taste but it shouldn't need much with the salt from the meat, cheese and potatoes.
  • I find because the potatoes go in hot out of the oil it doesn't need a dressing as such as the combination of oil, fats from the meat and cheese do this job. If you prefer it creamier stir through a couple of tablespoons of sour cream.
  • I love it with a steak or on it's own as a work lunch!


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

More tales from the wood panel Chinese

The 2014 Chinese Lunar New Year welcomes the year of the Horse (or whores as the BBC typo read, true, Google it).

I am thrilled about this year for no other reason than that it is no longer the year of the Snake! (Still hate them)

To accompany the Ham and Chicken rolls previously mentioned, I thought I'd recreate another authentic dish from the wood panelled Aussie-Chinese restaurants of my childhood.

Now when I say authentic I'm talking a restaurant that was more like a converted house on an inconvenient bend of the main road of East Gosford, its not quite Guangzhou.

Dome rice is the name I remember this dish by but I have no recollection whether that is what it was called on the menu.

I always found this dish magical as a kid, firstly because it had white sauce and that really should have only ever been used for vegetables. (what were they thinking??)

And secondly I had no idea of how they made the rice take on a shape, let alone fill it. I had visions of the rice being built up and around to enclose that special combination goodness. Those rice ads where the rice took on the shape of famous landmarks only further confused me.

In reflection I don't believed I was a particularly thick kid but the idea of serving an upside down bowl of rice just didn't cross my mind.

This doesn't take long to cook but there is a bit of prep at the start. It also seems like there are a million steps but it's really just a stir fry, in a bowl of rice with a white sauce but packed full of flavour and memories. 

Dome Rice

  • 1-11/2 large mugs of basmati rice
  • 2 chicken thigh fillet diced
  • 200g beef diced (I had some scotch fillet)
  • 2 x pinch bi carb soda
  • 2 tbsp. oil (peanut/canola)
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 4 Chinese sausages, diagonally sliced
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 2 carrots (see note on vegetables)
  • 1 zucchini,
  • 1 broccoli stem
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 small thumb ginger finely chopped
  • 200g green prawns (halved if large)
  • 2 spring onions chopped
  • small handful of sliced bamboo shoots
  • Small handful of chopped baby corn
  • 6-8 quartered straw mushrooms (more if they are smaller)
  • 2 tbsp. Chinese cooking wine
  • 2-3 tbsp. Oyster sauce
  • Salt and a pinch of Schezuan pepper to taste
  • a few toasted almonds to decorate
  • Place chicken and beef in two separate bowls of cold water and a pinch of bi carb soda
  • Allow to rest for 20-30 mins (this is what makes the meat silky tender)
  • Cook the rice (I use the microwave method of 1 mug rice 2 mugs water)
  • Blanch the vegetables
  • Make white sauce (see directions below)
  • Drain the chicken and beef separately and pat dry with paper towel
  • Into a hot wok add the oil and sesame oil
  • Fry off the Chinese sausage them remove just the sausage and place in a bowl
  • Repeat with chicken, fry till just cooked and remove to the bowl
  • Repeat with beef, fry till just cooked and remove to the bowl
  • Leave the juices in the wok as this forms the base of the sauce
  • Reduce the heat and add the onions, garlic and ginger stir fry until tender
  • Add the meats and prawns back to the wok
  • Add all remaining ingredients and
  • Add about a 1/4 cup of the white sauce to the wok and combine
  • Take off the heat

  • To assemble dome
  • Spray a glass bowl with oil
  • Spread the enough rice to line the bowl with a thin layer (about 3/4 of the rice)
My bowl has a diameter of 22cm and is about 12cm at it's centre

My walls are a bit thicker than I would normally have them, the rice was very hot and I was hungry!!
  • Fill bowl with stir fry
  • Cover with a layer of rice to enclose it all, press firmly so it takes on the shape of the bowl
  • Place a plate over the bowl and then flip it over
  • Remove the bowl and you'll have a great looking rice dome!

To serve pour over hot white sauce and top with some toasted almonds or more decorative vegetables.
There were only ever 3 almonds on the top of this dish at the restaurants but live a little and add a few more, I think I have 6!

White Sauce
  • 40g butter
  • 60g plain flour
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 500ml light milk 
Sauce Method
  • In a  saucepan melt the butter
  • Add the flour and stir to combine, cook the flour for about 1 minute
  • Add stock and milk together in a jug (or use all milk and a good quality stock cube)
  • Slowly add some stock/milk mix  while whisking to make a smooth sauce
  • As the sauce thickens add more stock a little at a time, you might not use all the stock.
  • While whisking let the sauce cook to thicken further for a few minutes, it should have a thick pourable consistency (but not thick enough you can cut it!)
  • Season to taste
Vegetable Note:
If you have a lot of spare time on your hands or don't mind heading to the land of all things naff, you could can use various cutters to shape the vegetables.
The broccoli stem adds element of surprise as it is a pale green star that looks nothing like it but tastes like broccoli.
The zucchini I sliced lengthy ways around the outside so I got .5cm thick slices with the skin on one side for the colour contrast.
Blanch each vegetable separately in boiling water for about 1 minute, then  refresh in icy water.