Rice Paper Dumplings on Braised Bok Choy

We were running low on groceries and with the stuff we had lying around, came up with this! I doubt it can be called "Asian" since it's a mashup of a few things...but I can say that it came out tasty! :)

Serves 2.

  • 150 grams pork mince
  • 100 grams 'roo mince (we love our 'roo, this would be just fine as all pork as well, just healthier this way :-)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, thin sliced
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Maggi browning sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (Nước mắm)
  • 1 tbsp 5 spice powder (see below)
  • 3 tbsp Worchestire sauce
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • Rice paper
  • 2 Bok choy stalks, cut in half
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, bruised*
  • 1-2 cups water (adjust according to how much gravy you want)
  • 1-2 tbsp dark soy sauce (adjust according to how dark you like the sauce to be)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (adjust according to how salty you like)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp Maggi seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp 5-spice powder 五香粉, which can be made if you don't have it (below)
    • 2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns, ground
    • 1-2 tsp Star anise, ground (or 8 whole, then ground)
    • 1/2 tsp clove, ground
    • 1 tbsp cinnamon, ground
    • 1 tbsp fennel seed, ground
  • 3 ginger slices
  • 2 tbsp Sesame oil
  • 2-4 palm sugar cubes
  • 4 fresh mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
  • Optional: 1/2 jalapeño (diced), chives, Hoisin sauce (all to serve with)
  1. Combine all ingredients above bok choy (except the garlic) in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Wet your rice paper and place two small balls of the meat on it. Fold in half, then cut in half, and wrap to make a small dumpling. Inside one of the folds, place a slice of garlic.
  3. Add 3 tbsp canola oil and 3 tbsp sesame oil to a hot skillet. Fry dumplings until the rice paper is puffed, crispy, and slightly brown.
  4. Set aside to place on the yummy veg to come...

  5. Heat 1 tsp butter in pan, then add bok choy, flat side down. Stir fry until the bok choy starts to steam/cook and add the soy sauce. Stir fry until the bottoms are browned.
  6. In a separate pot, heat 1 tsp butter with onion and garlic. Cook over low-medium heat until the onions begin to brown.
  7. When the bok choy is ready, add water dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, Maggi seasoning, 5 spice powder, ginger and sesame oil (for flavor) to the large pot. Stir well, and then add the browned bok choy. Cover with lid and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
  8. Using kitchen tongs or spatula, flip the bok choy over so that they can absorb the braising liquid. Add sugar cubes for sweetness and a glazed finish. Simmer with lid closed for another 5 minutes if desired.
  9. Serve rice paper dumplings with the braised bok choy, garnished with fresh mushrooms, jalapeño and chives (optional). The hoisin sauce is for dipping the rice paper dumpling :) Enjoy!

*Note: If you don't know what a "bruised" garlic clove is, it's when you lay a wide chopping knife flat on top of the garlic clove and whack it hard enough that it's kinda mushy and soft.

Osso Bucco w/ Olive Polenta

Osso bucco is an Italian (Milan) specialty of slow-cooked veal shanks in braised veggies. It is beyond easy and you can cook a lot of it in one go :) It's like a comfort food on crack - addicting and damn good!

  • Polenta:
    • 300mL water
    • 120g instant polenta (fine cornmeal)
    • 40g butter
    • 70g finely shaved parmesan
    • 85g sliced pitted olives (I used parmesan stuffed cocktail olives)
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Bacon grease
  • Osso Bucco:
    • 4 pieces of osso bucco (cross-cut veal shank)
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 40g butter
    • 3 tbsp canola oil
    • 3-4 celery stalks, diced with leaves
    • 1 large capsicum, diced
    • 3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
    • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 4-5 cloves garlic, whole
    • 2 cans of diced stewed tomatos, with liquid
    • 8 oz beef broth (I used a bouillon cube instead of making my own this time and it worked great)
    • 2 tbsp dried thyme
    • 3 tbsp vegemite
    • Cracked black pepper
    • Flour
    • Smoked paprika
    • White pepper
    • Salt
  1. For the polenta, heat the water till simmering and stir in cornmeal in a steady stream while constantly stirring until fully incorporated.
  2. Once it has thickened add all the remaining ingredients in one go and stir till smooth.
  3. Pour the polenta into a pre-buttered pan and put in the fridge for about 1 hour (until set solid).
  4. For the osso bucco, begin by taking all the veg and sautéing slowly until it has all sweated down and is slightly soft and translucent (about 5-8 minutes over medium heat).
  5. Add the vegemite and pepper and mix until the vegemite is melted and thoroughly coats all the veg then pour it out into the bottom of a handy casserole or baking pan.
  6. Next, melt the butter in the canola oil and put on high. Take the flour, smoked paprika, salt, and white pepper and mix together. Dredge the osso bucco in the flour to well coated and put in the frying pan until well browned on both sides.
  7. After browning all the osso bucco, lay them down on top of the veg in the casserole.
  8. Next, add the tomato, beef broth, and thyme to the pan previously occupied by the osso bucco. Combine and simmer for 5 minutes and then pour over the top of the osso bucco in the casserole.
  9. Add the whole cloves of garlic and cover the casserole, placing it in a 200C (400F) oven for 2 hours (maybe 2h15m).
  10. Once your osso bucco is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool (covered) while preparing the polenta.
  11. Slice the polenta into whatever shape will suit your plating style.
  12. Heat a pan with some canola oil and bacon grease on high heat and place the polenta slices inside and fry till crispy.
  13. Spoon the veg reduction onto the plate, place the polenta on top (with some fresh basil), and top with a slice of the osso bucco.
  14. Grate on some fresh parmesan and serve with a glass of good Cabernet.
  15. Buono appetito!

Pancetta-Wrapped Figs w/ Balsamic Reduction

Oh yea, and stuffed with creamy cheese! A crispy, savory, and sweet heaven (mouthgasm).

Serves: however many figs you get / (2 or 3).

  • Pancetta
  • Figs
  • Balsamic Reduction
    • 3 oz balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tsp palm sugar
    • cracked black pepper (to taste)
  • Goat cheese
  1. Cut figs in half and stuff with the goat cheese.
  2. Wrap in two pieces of very thinly sliced pancetta.
  3. Put in a 180C (350F) oven for 15-20 minutes (until golden brown and crispy) turning once midway through
  4. While waiting, prepare the balsamic reduction: 3oz balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp palm sugar, cracked black pepper all in a small pot and simmered until thick.
  5. Drizzle over finished figs and enjoy!

Bacon & Dill Wedge Salad

Easiest, tastiest dinner we've had in a while! I can't wait to make this again!

Serves 2.

  • 4-5 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cut in half
  • 1/4 cucumber, sliced
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • Dressing
    • 1/4 cup mayo (I prefer Best Foods personally)
    • 2-3 tbsp greek yogurt
    • 1 tbsp fine chopped dill
    • 1/2 clove fine minced garlic
    • 1-2tbsp tarragon infused vinegar (or any other savory/herbed vinegar you have handy)
    • 1 oz crumbled cheese of choice (I like bleu, the GF had vintage cheddar)
    • Drizzle of flavored olive oil (mine has basil, lemon peel, and hot chilis)
    • Cracked black pepper
    • 1 tsp mustard powder
  1. Dressing - combine all ingredients and mix vigorously with a fork, chill.
  2. Bacon - small dice while raw, then slow render it on a pan. This will take about 20+ minutes to make perfectly crispy bacon bits without burning them. Make sure and save that grease for future dishes!
  3. Arrange the fresh veggies around the iceberg wedge. Then, drizzle the wedge with the dressing and top with the chopped bacon. Enjoy! It goes very well with a chilled white wine ;)
Served w/ a Bulgarian style cufteh on the side (we need our protein)!

Vodka Gibson

My favorite martini :)

Compliments to the bf...


  • 3 oz good vodka
  • splash of juice from cocktail onions
  • cocktail onions
  • lots of ice


  1. Put ice in your martini glass with some water before starting anything else and set aside
  2. Spear some cocktail onions
  3. Take a cocktail shaker and fill it 3/4 full of ice (big cubes work best)
  4. Add vodka and cocktail onion juice
  5. Shake vigorously for at least 30-40 seconds
  6. Pour water and ice out of martini glass and place onion spear inside
  7. Strain contents of shaker into glass
  8. Enjoy. Like a boss.

Caramelized Onion & Cheddar French Omelette

The bf has pretty much perfected the french omelette! This info and recipe are money. 

  • 3 eggs, beaten and at room temperature
  • 1 small/medium onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Cheese, grated
  • Basil, chiffonade
  • Tomato, chopped
  • Butter
  • Canola oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Add onion to a sauté pan with about 3-4 tbsp canola oil and 1-2 tbsp butter. Add 1 tsp salt.
  2. Bring heat up till sizzling and toss a few times then reduce heat to low-medium and let the onions slowly caramelize. This should take about 10-12 minutes, maybe longer. Be patient - it is worth it!
  3. After the onions are a nice golden brown color, toss in the minced garlic clove and toss a few times.
  4. Remove the onion from the pan and add 2 tbsp butter. Heat the pan till the butter just starts to brown.
  5. Add the beaten eggs and use a spatula to stir the eggs so you get small folds of solidifying egg. Then, with the top of your omelet still liquid, stop moving the pan and add your onion, cheese, half your basil, and pepper.
  6. Let the omelet sit for 45-60 seconds and then plate. *Keep the heat on high for this whole process*
  7. Garnish with tomato and basil and a drizzle of flavored olive oil of your choice (I make mine with basil, lemon peel, and hot chili peppers).

'Roo Stuffed Mushrooms

The bf made these on a whim...I wish I could just create magic like this in the kitchen. These were très délicieux (and it's cooked with bacon grease).

Serves 2-4 (2 of us made a meal out of all 7 mushrooms).

Chef: the bf <3

  • 6-7 large mushrooms of your choice, stemmed and cored (I used very large white button mushrooms, but portabella would work. Creminis would also be really good)
  • 250-300 grams kangaroo mince (or beef if you have no 'roo)
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, whole
  • 4-5 strips of bacon, diced
  • 2 tbsp Vegemite
  • 1 egg
  • Parmesan, finely grated
  • Spices
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp Szechuan peppercorn, ground
    • 2 tbsp dried parsley
    • 1 tsp mustard powder
    • 1 tsp fennel seed, ground
    • 1 tsp cumin, ground
    • 2 tsp smoked paprika (yes it is worth getting the smoked kind!)
  • Toppings (Optional): celery leaf, curried mayonnaise
  1. Add the diced bacon to a sauté pan and slow cook it down to render out the fat. Cook it 3/4 the way to very crispy. While this is cooking begin the rest of the prep.
  2. De-stem your mushrooms and save for something else or put into a salad. Then, take a small paring knife and carve out the bulk of the mushroom cap. You should basically have a very thin walled, deep mushroom cap. Take all of the mushroom you are cutting out and put it into a food processor.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno to the food processor now full of mushroom guts. Blend until smooth.
  4. By now your bacon bits and grease should be ready. Add the blended mixture to the pan and turn up the heat to medium/medium-high. Once it is heated through, add the Vegemite and stir until dissolved. Cook until it is browned through and most of the water has evaporated. It will become thicker and much darker in color.
  5. While this is cooking down, add the 'roo to a bowl, crack an egg, and add everything in the "spices" section. Mix to combine evenly.
  6. Let the mushroom and bacon mixture cool for a few minutes and then add to the seasoned meat. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  7. Stuff the mushroom caps and then press the parmeson on top to make a crust.

  8. Put in a foil lined baking sheet (make sure the foil goes up the side in a single layer to catch all the tasty drippin's that will be coming soon).
  9. Place in a pre-heated oven (to 180 C or 350 F) for 15-20 minutes.
  10. Finish by placing under a broiler till the crust is crispy and bubbly.
  11. Garnish with whatever you like. I used a celery leaf and curried mayo. Chives and sour cream would work as well.
  12. Bon apetite!
Celery leaves.
Curried mayonnaise.
The magic.

Ginger Wine Spritzer

Another fun discovery in Australia: ginger wine. An area in Queensland is known for their tasty ginger: Bundaberg! 

The bf prefers this with a sprinkle of brown sugar, but it's also excellent without since the ginger wine has a nice, sweetness to begin with.

  • Ginger wine
  • Mint leaves
  • Lemon juice
  • Brown sugar (optional)
  • Ice (enough for your glass)
  • Soda water
  1. Depending on how much mint flavor you like it, muddle a small bunch of mint leaves in lemon juice, which should fill about 1/8 of your glass. 
  2. Add the brown sugar (optional), to taste, and stir.
  3. Fill 3/4 of the glass with ice.
  4. Fill with ginger wine until the mixture is about 3/4 full. 
  5. Top it off with soda water and enjoy!

Vodka-Butter Chicken Cordon Bleu on Marinara

I modified a few things from the most popular chicken cordon bleu recipe on allrecipes.com and it came out fab! Can't go wrong with bacon, cheese, butter, and vodka. It's probably not the healthiest item, but it's cream-free :)

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 slices cheese, we used Sweet Chili Cheddar
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 2-3 oz vodka (traditionally 1/2 cup dry white wine)
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup soy cream (traditionally heavy whipping cream)
  • Marinara Sauce
    • 1 can tomato sauce (we used Roasted Capsicum & Onion)
    • 1 Bay leaf
    • 1 tsp oregano
    • 1 tbsp parsley
    • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 1 tsp dried chili flakes
    • Salt/Pepper
  • Few fresh basil leaves, julienned
  • Sliced dinner bread (to serve)
  1. Start with the marinara sauce. In a saucepan, mix the tomato sauce and spices over medium-high heat until it starts to boil. Then reduce to a simmer until ready (longer simmer = better flavor).
  2. Pound chicken breasts if they are too thick. Place a cheese and 2 bacon slices on each breast within 1/2 inch of the edges. Fold the edges of the chicken over the filling, and secure with toothpicks. Mix the flour and paprika in a small bowl, and coat the chicken pieces.
  3. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the chicken until browned on all sides. Add the vodka and bouillon. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Remove the toothpicks and set aside. 
  4. Blend the cornstarch with the cream in a small bowl, and whisk slowly into the skillet. Cook, stirring until thickened.
  5. On serving plates, pour marinara sauce, place chicken, and then pour the cream sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle the basil on the marinara and serve warm, with bread (and red wine). You'll want that bread for the marinara and leftover vodka butter ;) 
Source: modified from Allrecipes.com

Mini Pavlovas w/ Pineapple, Kiwi, & Banana

An Aussie/Kiwi fav, named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova after a tour through 1920's Australia and New Zealand. Apparently, it can be tricky getting the merengue to come out right, so after some researching and testing a few times, this recipe works like a charm :)

Double this recipe for a fun dinner party dessert!

Serves 6.


  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch, sifted
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 cup (8 fl oz) cream
  • 1-2 tbsp cream cheese (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar (to taste)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Banana, sliced
  • 2 Kiwi fruit, diced
  • 1/3 Pineapple (1 cup)
  • Optional: 1 tsp cream of tartar (emergency back-up)

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Place room temperature eggwhites in a glass or steel bowl and use an electrical beater to whip, gradually adding the caster sugar until the mixture is stiff and glossy. You’ll know when the meringue is stiff and glossy because the mixture will have tripled in volume and stands up when the beaters are lifted. Note: If you don't have egg beaters and are using a single whipping whisk, like we did, you may need the assistance of the emergency 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar.
  2. Add the cornflour and vinegar and whisk until just combined and the mixture forms stiff peaks. On a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper, spoon the mixture to form (6) 3-inch diameter cake shapes.
  3. Reduce oven to 250°F (120°C) and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven. The low heat puffs up the meringue while the long cooking time dries it out to give you a crisp shell.
  4. In a chilled glass or steel bowl, whisk the cream, cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until peaks form. Spread over the pavlova, and top with fresh fruit. Optional: we also drizzled a bit of vanilla bean infused (spiced) rum (i.e. Captain Morgan) over the fruit. Yea, we made that too.
  5. Serve immediately.

Note: Store your pavlova, undressed, in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Piling on the goodness for the bf's birthday breakfast! It's a masterpiece...of love.

Saffron Moules Frites (Mussels & Baked Sweet Potato Fries)

Belgian/French in Brisbane :)

Also known as mussels and french fries (hot chips, whatever)...thank you boyfriend, for knowing so many interesting foods. This one's from Belgium, and it's a keeper...

Serves 2. Time: 1 hour.


  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp powdered garlic
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Moules
  • 1 kg mussels
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 sausages (preferrably chorizo, if available), squeezed out of casing
  • 2-3 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (tarragon-infused)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt/Pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425F (220C). 
  2. Cut sweet potato into ¼" match-sticks and set in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil over frites and toss to evenly coat all sticks of sweet potato. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl combine all frites seasonings and mix thoroughly. 
  4. Place sweet potatoes on a baking rack (a baking sheet is okay too, but the fries don't cook through as even). Sprinkle seasoning mixture on top. Try to arrange sweet potatoes in a single layer so that pieces are not touching each other. Place rack/pan in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Use a metal spatula to gently flip fries and then return pan to oven. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes or until fries are starting to lightly brown and crisp. Start the moules about 10 minutes before the fries are done. 
  5. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat with onion, sausage, paprika, and chili powder. Sauté until onions are soft. Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Add tomato and saute, stirring frequently for 3-4 minutes.
  6. In a separate small pot, boil water. Remove from heat and steep saffron in the hot water for at least 3-4 minutes. Remove saffron. Add wine, lemon zest and juice, and vinegar to saffron water.
  7. Add the saffron mixture to the large pot and bring to a boil. Toss in the mussels and give a quick stir. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat, add heavy cream, salt and pepper (to taste). Serve with fries.

This is a new fav, thanks babe :)

Spinach Salad w/ Apples & Warm Bacon Dressing

Just like the steakhouse spinach salad :)

Thanks to Alton Brown for the base recipe, we made a few changes to this recipe. Honestly, we didn't have mushrooms, so I used apple instead for a sweet contrast to complement the bacon! Alton Brown's dressing was too acidic, so we added a little more Dijon mustard and some honey.

Serves 2.


  • 6-8 ounces spinach
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 pieces bacon rasher, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
  • Optional: 3 large white mushrooms, sliced
  1. Remove the stems from the spinach and wash, drain and pat dry thoroughly. Place into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the eggs into an electric kettle and cover with cold water by at least 1-inch. Turn the kettle on. Once the water comes to a boil, the kettle will turn itself off. Leave the eggs in the water for 15 minutes. Remove and peel off the shell. Slice each egg and set aside.
  3. While the eggs are cooking, fry the bacon, reserving the rendered fat. Set aside.
  4. Transfer the fat to a small saucepan set over low heat and whisk in the red wine vinegar, sugar, Dijon mustard and honey. Season with a small pinch each of kosher salt and black pepper. Note: if consistency is too watery, add some cornstarch to thicken (to your preference).
  5. Add the sliced onion and apple to the spinach and toss. Add the dressing and bacon and toss to combine. Divide the spinach between 2 plates or bowls and evenly divide the egg among them. Season with pepper, as desired. Serve immediately.
Source: Alton Brown (foodnetwork.com).