Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pan de Sal - from Asia Finest, Sunbury

It's not often you get a tip that actually delivers, so I tend to take any 'Wow, you HAVE to try this' suggestions with a grain of salt.  I did however receive a tip a few weeks back, that actually came through with the goods.  Sadly I can't remember who mentioned this to me, but whoever it was - thank you!

The tip revolves around some delicious little buns called Pan de sal.  I was told to go to our local Asian grocer, and 'buy the buns that are on display at the counter'.  Well a few weeks later I did, and they did not disappoint.  

A quick Google search tells me that they are otherwise known as Filipino bread rolls, or sweet bread.  I could tell from the aroma that hit me once I opened the bag that they were going to be sweet - they sure were.  Normally sweet bread is anathema to me, however these delicious little buns are the exception to the rule.  Flour, sugar, salt, yeast and eggs are all that are listed in the ingredients  - nothing out of the ordinary - however the alchemy involved in creating them works to spectacular effect: they are delicous!  

The second tip I received was from the always friendly lady behind the counter who always has to put up with my no doubt annoying questions regarding black vinegar, rice wine vinegar, the subtleties of different chilli pastes, pork buns, you name it - the list goes on.  She told me that I would love them, and to heat them up in the oven for a few minutes.  Duly noted, we gave them a quick blast in a hot oven for around five minutes, and when they came out they were sporting a new, perfectly crusty exterior, with a soft pillowy (that's totally a word) interior.  Second time around the same effect was achieved by using the Weber   This time they were the perfect medium for enveloping the chicken sliders above.

Now I should point out that I'm not into giving tips, and telling people that they MUST try this - so I'm not going to do that.  However if you're in Sunbury and anywhere near Asia Finest (Gap Road), ignore this post at your peril.....

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Are you looking for something quick, healthy, easy, and delicous?  That's my aim pretty much every night, although I must admit, quick and healthy don't usually get a look in.  Gazpacho ticks all the boxes, and you don't even need any special ingredients.  I didn't follow any specific recipe, just took the best bits from all the ones I saw and put them together!


1 carrot, peeled
1.5 kg tomatoes, peeled and cored
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
1 red capsicum, chopped
1 continental cucumber
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 spring onions, trimmed
1 anchovy (optional - if using, pound to a pulp first in a mortar and pestle)
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
a few tablespoons of finely chopped herbs - chives, basil, thyme, parsley
a pinch of cumin
pepper to taste

Simply process in the food processor until all the pieces are very small, push through a fine strainer.  You can leave the 'chunky' bits in if you like, but I thought the texture was much nicer after being strained.  Don't worry, all that goodness won't be thrown out - I can saute it down to use as the base for a sauce, or even use it in some savoury muffins.  

You can garnish with whatever you like; I chose chopped hard-boiled egg, sliced olives, diced red capsicum,  croutons, and mint and basil tops.  

Friday, March 8, 2013

Cauliflower Risotto

So I made risotto.  However, instead of using arborio rice, I used cauliflower!  Yep, and it actually turned out pretty good.  Also, it sure was quicker, and has the added benefit of being yet another way to sneak vegies into the kids.  

All you need to do, is roughly chop a whole cauliflower, add it to the food processor, and process until the cauliflower 'grains' resemble rice!  Then substitute for rice in your favourite risotto recipe.  I'm not going to put a recipe here, however simply dice one onion, saute gently with some crushed garlic, add the cauliflower  and cook gently until the cauliflower is taking on some colour.  Deglaze the pan with a glass of white wine (drink the rest), and add ladlefuls of stock, until your required consistency is reached.  We went for thyme and roasted mushroom cauliflower risotto, finished off, of course, with copious amounts of parmesan, butter, and a little cream.  Delicious!