pork larb

IMG_0952_thumb.jpgLarb is a classic Thai salad made with minced beef, pork or chicken and vegetables, served in a lettuce cup. The combination of flavourings, mint, coriander (cilantro) and lime, is very refreshing. Freshness and flavour – a perfect meal on a hot day.


Feel free to experiment with the ingredients to suit your taste buds. Adjust the amount of chilli if you like it more or less spicy, or use substitutions if some ingredients are not readily available.

I do it all the time… sometimes I get an idea in my head about what I want to make and if I don’t have all the ingredients on hand I just use whatever I have on hand. Results may vary, but that can be a good thing.  Like the time I was going to make this incredible chicken pasta salad, but I didn’t have a couple of the ingredients so I substituted here and there. The resulting Tiramisu was incredible! As I said, results may vary.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the Larb. I had a Thai Pad Kaprow paste in the fridge that had lemongrass, garlic and chilli so I used that up and adjusted the amounts of those individual seasonings. I also used tubes of lemongrass and fresh chilli paste rather than fresh.


And of course, you could use beef instead of pork.


Or chicken.

And leftovers – if there are any – are very tasty cold. And that’s major coming from me. I’m really not a cold leftover sort of girl usually but for this I make an exception.

You will need:

1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass (you can get this in jars if fresh is not available).
2 small red Thai chillies, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
40g grated fresh ginger
1.4kg pork mince
1 red capsicum, diced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
160ml lime juice
5 shredded kaffir lime leaves (again, I used some from a jar)
2/3 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves
4 spring onions sliced thinly
8 large iceberg lettuce leaves

Heat oil in a large non stick frying pan or wok. Add the lemongrass, chilli, garlic and ginger and stir until the fragrance wafts through your kitchen – about 2 minutes.


Add the pork and cook, stirring, for about 8 minutes. Add the capsicum, and stir for another 2-3 minutes.


Add the fish sauce and half the lime juice and cook for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining lime juice, herbs, onion and lime leaves in a small bowl.

Take the pan off the heat and pour over the pre-mixed juice and herbs.


On each plate, form a bowl by placing two lettuce leaves together.


Place 1/4 of the larb in each bowl of leaves.


And you’re done! This is a meal on its own and it’s perfect if you follow a high protein, low carbohydrate regime.

And, as an added bonus, you wont need to call everyone to the table. They have been sitting there waiting for you since the aroma from the kitchen brought them in 10 minutes ago.


topping that pizza

Photo from inmagine

Now that I have given you the recipe for the perfect pizza dough, what do you put on top? Well the answer is limited only by your imagination. Maybe that is the reason pizza is such a popular food… there are toppings for everyone’s taste buds.

You might be surprised to know that in Italy, the home of pizza, the toppings are very simple unlike the myriad on offer in the American style chains like Pizza Hut and Dominos. The Pizza Margherita for instance has only tomato sauce, chopped basil leaves and mozzerella cheese. Simple, but delicious – especially with a lovely, soft crust.

Photo from inmagine

Taking a look at the websites for takeaway pizza will give you ideas for how to recreate the Supreme or Meatlovers you already know, but there are so many other options to explore. You can let your imagination run wild. Some kind of sauce, and cheese, will feature on virtually every pizza.

For the sauce you don’t need to limit yourself  to tomato paste. Try crushed tomatoes, BBQ sauce or a pre-made pasta sauce. Stretch your imagination. How about the little bit of leftover butter chicken or alfredo sauce in the jar in the fridge? I have a selection of sauces from Wild Appetite that I am dying to try, including a Melanesian Mango sauce that I think would be amazing on a chicken pizza (I will let you know!).

When it comes to cheese you really need the good stuff to get the taste and stringyness that is so vital for a good pizza. Plain cheddar, even “Tasty” just doesn’t cut it I’m afraid. A mixture of parmesan and mozzerella will give you the flavour and texture you need. But don’t forget all the other options, either on their own or in combination with the parmesan and mozzerella.   Ricotta or cream cheese dolloped or spread over the base. How about blue cheese crumbled over beef. Traditional feta tastes so good on vegetarian pizzas or try creamy feta with bacon and prawns. And then of course some camembert or brie on a chicken pizza.

Photo from inmagine

Look to your favourite flavour combinations and re-create them on a pizza but keep it simple 2-4 toppings in addition to the sauce and cheese is usually plenty. Too many ingredients can confuse the palate, and also overload the base making it soggy.

So now it’s your turn. Share with us in the comments, what are your favourite pizza toppings?

italian-style chicken pasta salad

This is so good! Great for a dinner party.

350g chicken breast fillets
¼ cup lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
100g thinly sliced prosciutto
1 Lebanese cucumber
2 tablespoons seasoned pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ cups penne pasta, cooked
½ cup thinly sliced sun dried tomatoes
½ cup pitted black olives, halved
½ cup halved bottled artichoke hearts
½ cup parmesan cheese flakes

Creamy Basil Dressing

1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon seasoned pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons cornflour
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup cream
1/3 cup shredded fresh basil
Salt, to taste

Remove excess fat and sinew from chicken. Flatten slightly with a mallet or rolling pin.

Place chicken in medium bowl with combined lemon juice and garlic. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

Cut prosciutto into thin strips. Cut cucumber in half lengthwise, then cut each half into slices.

Drain chicken and coat in seasoned pepper. Heat oil in large heavy based frying pan. Cook the chicken for four minutes on each side, or until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove from heat. Cool and cut into 2 cm pieces.

Combine pasta, chicken pieces, cucumber slices, prosciutto, sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts in a large serving bowl. Pour warm creamy basil dressing over and toss gently to combine.. Serve salad warm or cold, sprinkled with parmesan flakes.

Creamy Basil Dressing

Combine oil, vinegar, seasoned pepper and mustard in a medium pan. Blend cornflour with water in a small bowl or jug until smooth. Add to pan. Whisk over medium heat for 2 minutes or until sauce boils or thickens. Add cream, basil and salt. Stir until heated through.

low carb lasagne

By using thinly sliced eggplant and zuchinni you can have lasagne with virtually zero carbs.

300 g Minced lean beef
1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 Cup Beef stock (low salt)
1 Large Eggplant
2 Large Zucchini
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp Fresh oregano, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp Tomato paste
2 tsp Mixed Italian Herbs, dried
1/4 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 Cup Cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 180C / 350F

Heat a saucepan and spray with olive oil. Cook garlic and onion until soft. Add the meat, sprinkle with half the Italian Herbs and cook until brown, then stir in the tomatoes.

Add the tomato paste, beef stock, fresh oregano and basil. Season with fresh cracked pepper and a pinch of sea salt. Simmer the sauce for about 30 minutes until the juice has reduced and thickened.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the eggplant and zucchini longways then place on a lined baking tray. Spray lightly with olive oil. Season with the rest of the mixed Italian herbs. Cook in oven for about 20 minutes, turning once. Once cooked, allow to cool for a few minutes.

Grease a small, square oven-proof dish and place the eggplant in it so it completely covers the bottom. Top this with a layer of meat sauce. Next, top with a layer of zucchini slices then again with the meat sauce. Keep layering until sauce is finished and finish with a layer of eggplant. Top with the cheeses.

Place foil over the top of the dish and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes at 200c.

Remove foil and grill for a further 5 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with a large garden salad.

chicken parmigiana

This recipe makes everyone in my family happy. They even do the dishes without complaining and that has to be a good thing!

(Will replace with a photo of my own next time I make it)

In a large bowl whisk the following ingredients together.

500ml cream

6 eggs

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

2 tsp sweet paprika

1/2 tsp coarse black pepper

2 tsp salt

3 cloves finely chopped garlic

Take 1.5kg chicken breast fillets (skin and fat removed) and cut into three pieces. Place a piece into a ziplock bag with a tiny splash of water then pound with a mallet or the bottom of a heavy based pan until about 1/2 inch thick. Dont be too aggressive though or the chicken will tear.

Drop the flattened chicken into the coating and push down to make sure it is covered. Continue until all chicken has been flattened and added to the mix.

Heat a large frypan (not too hot!) with olive oil about 1/2 inch deep. Piece by piece, lift chicken from the coating shaking off excess then lay it in a tray of breadcrumbs. Turn over to ensure both sides thoroughly coated then place directly in hot pan. Cook about 4 minutes then turn over to cook other side.

When cooked, place in single layer in large oven dish. When all are cooked, spoon a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste over each portion and sprinkle with a mixture of your favorite cheeses (mozzerella & parmesan work well) and place in a moderate oven for 10 minutes until cheese melted.

Serve with pasta and a tomato based sauce, and salad.


potato, pumpkin and lentil curry

This has so much flavour. I served it up to my beloved and he didn’t even notice that it had no meat until I mentioned it later.

1 onion, peeled and sliced

2 tsp minced ginger

1 deseeded red pepper, diced

1 1/2 Tbsp Korma curry paste

400 gram can condensed pumpkin soup

400 mls lite coconut milk

700 grams peeled and diced potatoes

400 gram can lentils, drained

1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

Heat a large saucepan with a dash of oil and gently fry onion, ginger and red pepper until tender but not brown. Stir in korma curry paste. Increase heat and cook for 1 minute.

Add the pumpkin soup, lite coconut milk and potatoes to the pan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are just soft.

Add the lentils, season with salt, pepper and coriander. Serve hot in bowls with basmati rice and naan bread or crisp poppadums.


beef and guinness stew

I know, I know. I should have had this up for St. Patricks Day a couple of weeks ago. So I’m a bit behind the times. But it doesn’t have to be St Paddys day to enjoy this dish. And besides, I didnt make it myself until St Paddys day… and it will make the perfect warming food for those cold winter evenings which will be upon us soon.

The day I made this delicious stew, the aroma was permeating through the house by the time the kids came home from school and I faced the inevitable question. ‘Whats for dinner Mum?’… so I reply ‘Beef & Guinness Stew’.

They were horrified! Absolutely disgusted.

And this is why. In our house the word Guinness does not mean this…

It means this…

So yeah…you can imagine what they were thinking. Poor kids. I really do torment them sometimes.

Anywayyyyyyyy, it was delicious! And there were requests from the family to make it again. And even Guinness got to eat some too!

Try it. And if you have to buy the Guinness especially for this recipe and you can’t buy single cans, never fear! I have a few other Guinness recipes for you. Including Guinness Chocolate Cake.

Mmmm Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm……….

• 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
• 1.5kg stewing steak (blade, chuck or gravy beef) cut into 3-4cm pieces
• 2 stalks coarsely chopped celery
• 2 chopped carrots,
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 50g tomato paste
• 1 tbs plain flour
• 1 cup (250ml) red wine
• 440ml can Guinness
• 3 cups (750ml) beef stock
• 1 dried bay leaf
• 200g bacon, cut into strips
• 12 (300g) small shallots, peeled
• 150g button mushrooms
• 1.5kg potatoes, chopped into equal sized pieces
• 100g butter, chopped
• 1 cup (250ml) cream or milk

Preheat oven to 160°C. Heat 1 tbs oil in a dutch oven over high heat. Brown the beef, in two or three batches. Remove beef from pan and set aside.

Add 1 tbs oil to dish and cook celery, carrots and onion for 8 minutes. Stir in paste then flour. Cook for 1 minute then add wine and Guinness. Simmer until reduced by half.

Add beef stock and simmer again until reduced by half. Return beef to pan with bay leaf and bring to a simmer.

Cover dish with lid, transfer to oven and cook for 2 hours or until meat is tender. Heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan. Add bacon and shallots and cook, stirring, for 8 minutes or until shallots are softened. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until soft. Add bacon and shallot mixture to main dish with beef and return to oven for 30 minutes.

For the creamy potato mash, steam or boil potatoes until tender. Drain well in a colander. In the pot, add butter and cream (or milk) and heat until boiling. Add the potatoes and mash. To get them really creamy you can use electric beaters and beat until smooth.

Serve stew on bed of mash, scattered with freshly chopped parsley.

Devour. Go back for seconds.