Category Archives: LFW Food&Wine

Summertime Stir Fry on the Barbie!

You know it’s summer when every man and his dog is in the back yard, BBQ tongs in hand, and the only time your man will wear an apron. Personally, I’ve never been a great fan of BBQs until I discovered that anything you can cook on a grill or in frypan, you can also cook on a BBQ! You can cook directly on the BBQ plate, or use a fry pan over the flame. So leave the wok in the cupboard, fire up the barbie, and enjoy an Aussie-Asian fusion summer stir fry.


Our recipe is for Thai Beef Salad Stir Fry and firstly you need a good cut of meat such as sirloin or porterhouse. You can substitute beef with chicken, or shell fish—just adjust the cooking time accordingly, and ring the changes with a variety of veggies. So let’s get going!

Basic Thai Beef Salad Stir Fry (serves 4)

Stir Fry Thai Basil and Chilli Beef Salad

Thai beef stir fry salad with chilli and basil

What you need: enough good quality steak for four people, 1 medium size onion (thinly sliced) 6 mushrooms (sliced), 1 packet ready-mix stir fry*, ¼ iceberg lettuce (chopped), 1 small packet crispy noodles, 1 Bok Choy (chopped), ½ red capsicum (thinly sliced). You can also add any other Asian veg or thinly sliced carrots, broccoli, baby corn, snow peas, cashew nuts, etc.

Marinade: 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 small and finely chopped hot chilli (optional, but preferable).


What you do:

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a jar and shake well. Slice the meat thinly, place in a bowl and toss in the marinade. Leave in the fridge overnight.

Fire up the BBQ and drizzle a teeny amount of extra-virgin olive oil on the plate. When hot, add the steak and sliced onion and toss for a couple of minutes. Then add the stir fry veggie mix and whatever else veggies your including, and toss together until the steak is cooked. Add the crispy noodles and toss in.

Place the chopped lettuce in four serving bowls. Place the beef stir fry on top of the lettuce and lightly toss. Serve immediately with rice or soy noodles on the side.

Chicken with stir fry veggies

Chicken with stir fry veggies

*You can buy ready mixed stir fry veggies from any major supermarket chain and they save endless slicing and chopping. You can get finely chopped or chunky varieties—buy as much as you need and use as soon as possible.

Twenty-Five Years with Poachers!

Poachers Pantry, and its winery, the Wily Trout, has been an icon in the Canberra region for over 25 years, and on Friday 2 September it celebrated its silver anniversary by launching a new Poachers Pantry and Smokehouse Restaurant and Wily Trout Cellar Door with a delicious degustation and wine tasting. By Aine Dowling.

Owned by Rob and Susan Bruce, Poachers Pantry is renowned for its mouth-watering home smoked meats and veggies. “We’ve been creating delicious stories in the Canberra region for 25 years now,” says Susan, “and we’re thrilled to officially launch the restored, renovated, reinvigorated and re-energised Poachers Pantry Smokehouse Restaurant and Wily Trout Cellar Door.PP Logo

“For our family, it’s always been about welcoming visitors into our lives. Inviting them to experience the way we live, as the restaurant is part of our home. We love sharing our food, wine and our table, and we can’t wait to share the new Poachers.”

Poachers Pantry Smokehouse opened in 1991, the vineyard in 1998, and the café in 2002. The new restaurant now seats 100 people inside in a brand new layout, and the outdoor deck and terrace accommodates a further 100 and offers a beautiful rural outlook over the 1890s woolshed, kitchen garden, and the rolling country hills. And the next generation, daughter Katie and son Will, are now entrenched in the smokehouse, weddings and conferences, and the vineyard.Wily Trout Wines

As part of the makeover, the Wily Trout Cellar Door has undergone extensive renovations and Will has taken over as vigneron of the 100 per cent estate grown brand including natural fermentation, and limited release cool climate wines using a ceramic egg rather than traditional oak barrels. The winery produces delicate whites including Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and the reds include a soft Shiraz and delicate Pinot Noir.

Poachers Pantry 1But Poachers Pantry is more than a restaurant and winery. Poachers Pantry products are made using traditional curing and smoking methods, and the meat, poultry and herbs are all sourced from Australian suppliers. The smokehouse operates seven days a week and produces a wide range of smoked meats and poultry, plus, a range of ‘slow foods’ together with simple recipes means you can make your own delicious menus as home including antipasto platters, salads and canapes, and yummy hot dishes. The smoked meats are also available at selected quality grocers and delis in Canberra—and I can personally vouch for the bacon! The smokehouse also produces hams and turkeys for special occasions. The smokehouse range is also available for tasting at the cellar door.

Launch of the new Poachers Pantry Smokehouse and Wily Trout Cellar Door

Launch of the new Poachers Pantry Smokehouse and Wily Trout Cellar Door

The Poachers Pantry is located on Nanima Road, Springrange (Hall), NSW, and is available for weddings, conferences, and functions. For more information, or to make a booking, visit their website or check out their Facebook page.

Australian Winemaker Creates World-first in Wine Making

By Aine Dowling.

Winemaker Liz Barnes, of Star Lane Winery in Beechworth, Victoria, has created the world’s first wine matured in red gum hardwood barrels. Elements Shiraz is a ground-breaking wine matured in salvaged native Australian red gum, which creates a wine that tastes fuller and more mature than its actual vintage due the superior breathability of the red gum to that of traditional French oak.

Winemaker and vigneron Liz and Brett Barnes

Winemaker and vigneron Liz and Brett Barnes

Star Lane Winery is renowned for its outstanding boutique red wines and is the achievement of Liz and Brett Barnes (winemaker and vigneron respectively), who together have combined their experience and expertise to see the winery achieve the very highest levels and reputation for elegance, finesse, and distinction, being lauded five-star rating in the James Halliday Australian Wine Companion 2015.

The decision to use red gum barrels was not exactly spur-of-the-moment, but has been in the planning for the last 10 years with Liz’s family involved in the red gum timber industry for four generations, and now set to continue the tradition through her winemaking.

Red gum barrels

Red gum barrels

“We always knew we wanted to try the red gum barrel but we also knew we needed to building a name for ourselves first that people could trust and respect,” says Liz. “Having earned that respect over the last decade we’re now ready to push the boundaries and show that it’s OK to try something that’s different from everyone else is doing.”

Elements 2012 Shiraz, also matured in red gum barrels, was released in 2015 to great acclaim within the industry, with the limited 300 bottle run almost sold out, and the winery is now set to release its Elements 2013 Shiraz vintage which has attracted an even higher demand both within Australia and internationally.

Contrary to its reputation as a hardwood, red gum actually has a higher porosity and breathability that traditional French oak, which allows more oxygen to be drawn and in turn enhances the intensity of the wine. This also means a shorter cellaring time to deliver optimum drinkability. Aptly dubbed ‘The Taste of Australia’ the red gum aged wine captures the true essence of the Australian timber to produce a unique premium boutique wine.

Elements 2012 Shiraz - six pack box

Elements Shiraz – six pack box

That said, this wine is not for quaffing and does not come cheap. In keeping with the exceptional high quality and standards of the winery; the red gum matured Elements Shiraz will set you back $400 per bottle. Each bottle comes in its own Elements Shiraz box—made from the same salvaged red gum as the barrels—and nestles gently in pure Merino wool packing. Tasting notes include ‘slightly wild’ and ‘contemporary with a unique Australian personality’. What more could you want in a wine?

Star Lane Winery was opened in 2005 and has established itself as a leader in the Australian wine industry, earning multiple five-star reviews and praise from winemakers and critics across Australia. Wines are available online or at the cellar door.

Star Lane Winery, Beechworth Victoria

Star Lane Winery, Beechworth Victoria

Sexy French and Drunken Fruit

at Les Bistronomes by Wendy Johnson

Photo by Sean Davey.

Photo by Sean Davey.

Don’t classic French dishes, like bouillabaisse and duck à l’orange, just make you want to worship to the food gods? They make me want to worship. These sophisticated dishes, that require megadoses of talent to create and plate, are being celebrated on the newly released seasonal menu at Les Bistronomes in Braddon.

Owners Abel Bariller and Clement Chauvin, with their sexy French accents, live and breathe wonderful wines and dishes that you may think have gone out of style but which, if truth be told, never, ever will—especially when served with such finesse.

Image LFW

Image LFW

Les Bistronomes can best be described as rustic French chic. It’s a casual, comfortable dining environment, with padded chairs that allow you to sit back and relax, and tables large enough to hold beautifully plated food and several wine glasses (at least that’s how many accumulate each time we visit).

Clement says they have added new dishes to the autumn menu but wouldn’t dare remove some that customers order time and time again. And currently that includes the chestnut and caramelised onion soup—silky smooth, earthy in texture and perfect for this time of year. And the ash encrusted duck à l’orange, a whole duck with red cabbage, orange and pine nuts (served for two).

Another dish Clement wouldn’t have the courage to remove is La Bouillabaisse, with its wonderfully complex flavours. This fish soup, traditionally associated with the Provence region, has been made for centuries. This one is created with love with Rouille sauce, which, as it name implies, is rust in colour, adding to the richness and depth of the soup. And let’s not forget the salmon, scallop, mussel and clams.

Photo by Sean Davey.

Photo by Sean Davey.

The menu at Les Bistronomes has a section of mains to share for two people, and pre-ordering is recommended. New on the menu is roasted piglet and Alsace sauerkraut served with potato, caramelised apple and truffle ($72 for two). This special section of the menu also features Cape Grim rib eye served with bone marrow, chips and béarnaise sauce ($96 for two). Each one takes 25 or 30 minutes to make, so rest easy and enjoy the wine and the ambience.

And now it’s time for the grand finale desserts, which Les Bistronomes is so famous for. There’s that classic vanilla bean crème caramel which you simply can’t beat (this one served with a drunken fig), a famous pear and almond Tarte Bourdaloue with vanilla yoghurt sorbet, a raspberry soufflé and a chocolate mosaic. If you please, the French cheese platter is a winner and Abel will help you select the best wines to match.

Photo by Sean Davey.

Photo by Sean Davey.

Abel is a professional French master sommelier and a ‘Knight of Cognac’. He has a nose for the best varieties and labels and is happy to chat away about what makes each wine on the menu a top pick.

Clement’s background in the kitchen started early. He was a young 18 years of age when he landed a position working in two-Michelin star restaurant Pic (Valence) and also received some heavy duty training in executing perfect flavours and perfect plating at Gordon Ramsay’s Claridges in London.

For a special occasion give yourself time to peruse and taste, or book a five-course chef’s degustation on Saturdays at lunch for an amazing $50 per person (this is worth every bite). Or just enjoy whatever you’d like for lunch or dinner off the a la carte menu or specials board.

Bon appétit.

Image LFW

Image LFW

Les Bistronomes is at the corner of Mort and Elouera Streets in Braddon. Open lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday. 6248 8119.

Images by Sean Davey – unless otherwide indicated

Cooking Thai 101—Thai Fish Cakes

We’ve been a bit tardy with the Thai recipes (promised in December—yes, that long ago), but before we start, we’ll recap with a visit to our earlier post on Cooking Thai 101 where we outlined the basics you need in your kitchen before you start your adventure with cooking Thai food.

Thai fish cakes with hot sour sauce

Thai fish cakes with hot sour sauce (see recipe below)

One of our fave Thai foods is Thai Fish Cakes and part of our sojourn into authentic Thai cooking—with Silom Thai Cooking School—was to learn how to make them, and surprisingly, they’re not as tricky as you might think. So grab your ingredients and your wok or frypan and Let’s Cook Thai!

Thai Fish Cakes (serves 2 – 3)

What you need: 500 grams finely chopped white fish such as ling or mahi-mahi, or you can use salmon steaks, 5 kaffir lime leaves rolled and cut into thin strips, 1 tablespoon red curry paste, 1 teaspoon good quality Asian fish sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon corn starch, 2 long beans or large green beans thinly sliced on the diagonal, 1 egg, and oil for frying. We choose to shallow fry in coconut oil but any good quality vegetable oil will do.

What you do: In a large bowl mix all ingredients together by hand, then take two tablespoon of mixture and shape into small flat patties. Heat oil and fry patties until golden brown turning once. And that’s it! Serve with dipping sauce and a crisp Asian salad.

Thai fish cakes with crisp salad

Thai fish cakes with crisp salad


Thai chilli dipping sauce (well you can’t have Thai food without chillies, can you?)

What you need: 5 – 10 finely minced bird chillies (these are really HOT, so if you’re a Thai novice, start with 5 or 6 and be very careful when chopping, and don’t forget to scrub the chopping board in hot water afterwards!), 4 finely chopped garlic cloves, ½ cup good quality Asian fish sauce, 3 tablespoons white vinegar, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice* (not out of a bottle), and 1 tablespoon refined brown sugar

What you do: Combine all ingredients together and mix well—this is best done in a jar with a sealed lid so you can give it a really good shake, then set aside for 10 minutes, then shake again. Repeat until the sugar has dissolved and store in the fridge. The sauce will keep for a couple of weeks.


Thai hot sour sauce

What you need: 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 2 tablespoons hot chilli sauce (see above), 2 tablespoons crushed unsalted peanuts, and 2 small cucumbers peeled and sliced.

What you do: in a jar, mix together the vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, chilli sauce and peanuts and shake well. Pour into a small bowl and add the sliced cucumber. Serve immediately.

*And, here’s Awesome Jay’s tip on squeezing limes. Cut your limes in half and squeeze the lime while running it against the flat rim of a knife (not the sharp side) over a small bowl. The lime juice will run down the knife and into the bowl—voila, no mess, no lime pulp, and no lime all over your hands. Cool eh?


Recipes and tips courtesy Silom Thai Cooking SchoolCooking school

Put a Sparkle in your Christmas!

Everyone needs a bit of sparkle at Christmas and there’s no better way to celebrate than with a nice bottle of bubbly. LFW checks out some affordable brands and prices—and a couple not so affordable! By Aine Dowlingchampagne75800

In a past life and in another country I used to work for a wine merchant so I could be a tad biased (read spoilt) when it comes to bubbles. Every Christmas and birthday we could choose a bottle from the warehouse as our gift, and I have to admit that my choices were mostly Moet, Veuve Clicquot, Piper Heidsieck, or Dom Perignon. If you were to buy Dom now you would pay around $195 a bottle!

Seriously though, after you’ve bought the presents, bought the food, and shopped ‘til you dropped, who has the money to spare; not to mention the energy to scour out the specials, so we’ve scoured a few for you!

Plus a few quirky wine gifts just because …

Australian and New Zealand Sparkling Wines

1 Aus & NZ Wines-page-001

Chandon is a popular Aussie sparkling; never to be confused with Moet & Chandon … the only similarity is in the name. Lindauer is a reasonably priced NZ bubbly, but I personally prefer Oyster Bay over both the others.

French and German Sparklings2 French & German sparkling-page-001

Not many people associate Germany with a sparkling wine but Henkell Trocken is surprisingly good—though a bit on the sweet side for some, and comes out well on price and quality against these two French sparklings.

French Champagnes3 French Champagne-page-001

It’s only Champagne if it’s from the Champagne region, and these two are long-time favourites, and a good price for the real deal.

Take-out-a-mortgage French Champagnes

4 Mortgage Champagnes-page-001A quiet word with your bank manager might in order before you buy a few cases of either of these! Ab Fab spent a long time sipping Bolli, and that was just the Brut! Go up a couple of levels to Bolli Spectre Vintage 2009 and it will make hole in your wallet—though nowhere near the size of the hole this 1996 Dom Perignon Vintage will make!

Quirky Wine Things

A follow me bring wine on EtsySeriously serious thongs (or flip-flops depending where you’re from). Make a statement every time you walk on the beach—you never know—you might get a few surprises at your door.

A wine glass holder from AmazonHow many times have we put our glass down and forgotten about it … well, you’ll never lose your glass again with this gift!

A Santa pants wine bottle carrier from AmazonChristmas Party? Awesome! Give the gift of Christmas with a Santa Pants bottle carrier.

A winestopperusbAn extra USB always comes in handy!

And don’t forget … Have a Sparkling Christmas!


Just a Trifling Christmas!

It’s that time of year again when we all think about what dessert will decorate your Christmas table, and there’s plenty to choose from. By Aine Dowling

Individual Caramel Pecan Cheesecake trifles from

Individual Caramel Pecan Cheesecake trifles from

For most of this year we’ve focussed on Eating Healthy but what the heck … it’s Christmas, and if you can’t spoil yourself a bit at this time of year, when can you!

Amazing croquembouche trifle from

Amazing croquembouche trifle from

Last Christmas LFW ran a vote between the traditional Christmas cake, pavlova, trifle, and gingerbread houses, and the trifle won hands down! So this year we’ve been seeking out something a wee bit different and found some totally amazing trifles. Check out our faves and click the link for the recipes.

Meringue strawberry liqueur trifle from

Meringue strawberry liqueur trifle from

And finally …

Individual key lime cheesecake trifles from

Individual key lime cheesecake trifles from

And you can find our basic trifle recipe here. What’s your favourite? Share with us.




Cooking Thai 101 – the essentials!

Cooking Thai 101 banner

Here at LFW we love, love, love Thai food—it’s fresh, simple, and über tasty; so on our recent visit we booked into the Silom Thai Cooking School and learnt how to cook up a storm! By Aine Dowling

Cooking schoolWe met up with our class, and teacher ‘Awesome Jay’ (yes, that’s his name), at a local market to select our veggies and herbs for the day. The market is an assault on the senses—from the aroma of herbs and spices, through textures of the fruits and vegetables, to the burst of colours with bright red and green chillies, and summer yellow mangoes and bananas which smell absolutely divine!

Selecting veggies and herbs at the market

Selecting veggies and herbs at the market

Awesome Jay lived up to his name. He had the honour of representing Thailand on MasterChef Singapore and he is a terrific chef! He’s funny and really knows about cooking Thai. In all the dishes we were given the option of adding our own chilli, or not, if we didn’t like spicy food. Jay’s chillies had four rankings: 1 chilli = chilli taste, 2 chillies = hot chilli, 3 chillies = rumbling volcano, and 4 chillies (you really have to be able to cope with the heat to try this) = KAMBOOM!

Our first task was to create our own coconut milk by pouring warm water onto fresh shredded coconut and squeezing it through a sieve. There were eight of us in the class and we had to make enough for two of the dishes and the dessert. We also made our own green curry paste from scratch and we all had to take a turn at pounding the large mortar and pestle to grind the chilli and spices, and learnt a new way to squeeze limes!  Our individual cooking stations included a gas burner, a wok and utensils, and a serving plate. After each dish we moved to small dining tables to eat and comment on the food.

Chillies. Image by LFW

Chillies. Image by LFW

Cooking Thai 101 is the first in a series of our trip to Thailand, and we’ll be posting some recipes and pics in a later blog, but one thing we did learn are the 10 must haves for good Thai cooking so we’ll start with getting these into your kitchen before we do the recipes.

Ten Thai kitchen basics with Awesome Jay!

Awesome Jay explaining spices

Awesome Jay explaining spices


Cooking Oil: Vegetable oil such as corn, palm kernel, and sunflower is used in all Thai cooking. Other oils may have a more defined taste and aroma that may affect the final product.

Thai Fish Sauce: known in Thai as nam pla, this seasoning is made from fermenting fish with salt. It should contain only anchovies, salt and water and it’s very strong and salty so use it sparingly! It’s essential in only some dishes.

Thai Curry Paste: even in Thailand many cooks buy (and use) premade curry pastes. Red and green varieties can be found at well-stocked Asian supermarkets and should include galangal, lemongrass, and coriander root. Obviously green is made with green chillies, and red with red chillies.



Coconut Milk: used in Thai curries, fresh coconut milk is made by rinsing the oils out of coconut flesh with warm water and squeezing out the milk. Canned coconut milk is an easy option and widely available from supermarkets.

Rice: sticky rice, also called glutinous rice, is the staple in north and northeast Thailand and is often used in desserts. Jasmine rice is a staple in much of the country.

Chillies: fresh and dried chillies provide heat in Thai food. Fresh cayenne chilies are used in curries, and fiery-hot Thai bird chillies in sauces and stir-fries. Fresh chillies will keep in the fridge for up to a week or you can store in the freezer.

Limes: give a tart lift to grilled meats, salads and fried rice. Kaffir lime leaves are mostly used to give a floral, citrusy aroma to curries and soups.

Shallots and Garlic: Shallots (spring onions) are chopped and often used to decorate dishes or added to salads to provide a bit of crunch and bite. Garlic is crushed or minced and then tossed into hot oil with the other spices and before the stir-fry ingredients.

Lemongrass: is included in many Thai dishes and used only for flavour—not for eating.

Fresh Herbs: including cilantro (coriander), mint, Thai basil, and Vietnamese coriander add distinctive flavours to everything from salads to curries to fried rice. Thai basil has a nice sweet anise flavour but can be hard to find so substitute regular basil.

Watch this space for more to come!

Cooking Thai 101 banner

Learning to Love Laksa!

Super-easy, super-good Laksa by Emma Dowling

Malaysian combination laksa

Malaysian combination laksa

Laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup and a combination of Chinese and Malay cuisine. It’s basically rice noodles or rice vermicelli with chicken, seafood, pork, vegetables, tofu, or a combination of the lot! It gets its spicy taste from either a rich curry, or sour asam. I have to admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of laksa. I usually find it too filling, too hot, or often too hard to actually eat without making a total mess! But in our travels around Asia, laksa is served everywhere in a gazillion (yes that is a word) different ways. So after trying a couple of different laksa dishes, while I wouldn’t say I was complete convert, I was prepared to give a little and try out a few recipes at home.

Seafood laksa

Seafood laksa with scallops, prawns and tofu with extras served separately

What we came up with was a super-easy cheat laksa which is gluten-free (rice noodles), low fat (lite coconut milk) no added sugar, and not too filling. One thing we did cheat with (yes we admit it) was to use a jar of laksa paste—much easier than measuring and grinding your own, and we chose Ayam paste as it’s readily available.

You can make a basic laksa base and ring the changes by adding whatever you like. We started out with the basic ingredients and made a chicken and mushroom laksa, a seafood (white fish, prawns and scallops), and a vegetable laksa—all of which were totally delish!

And, one thing we’ve really learnt to love about laksa is the way the colours, as well as the ingredients, come together. The green onion and coriander, the red chilli, the white sprouts, and the limes are a really lovely colour fusion. So check out our super-easy recipe and a few mouth-watering photos—and give it a go!

Chicken and mushroom laksa

Chicken and mushroom laksa

Basic chicken and mushroom laksa

What you need (serves 2)

120g rice noodles

2 teaspoons extra virgin or coconut oil

2 shallots (spring onion), sliced (separate white and green parts)

180g jar Ayam laksa paste

500ml chicken or fish stock (use All Natural/no salt, or make your own)

270ml can Lite coconut milk

250g skinless chicken breast fillets, finely sliced

4 medium button mushrooms, sliced

1 small red capsicum, finely sliced

1 cup fresh bean sprouts, rinsed

½ bunch coriander sprigs, roughly chopped

Few fresh mint leaves

1 small chilli, finely chopped

1 lime—halved to serve

What you do

Place the noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak until tender—check after 15 minutes. While the noodles are softening heat oil in a wok over a high heat and stir-fry in the white part of the shallot for about 30 seconds. Add the laksa paste and stir well. Add the stock and coconut milk and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the sliced chicken and mushrooms and simmer for 3-4 minutes until tender and cooked through. Add the capsicum and chilli and simmer for 1 minute, then stir through the green part of the shallot, bean sprouts, and herbs.

Drain the soft noodles and divide between two bowls, cover the noodles with the laksa, and add a squeeze of lime to each bowl. Serve immediately.

If you are serving four or six people just increase the ingredients accordingly. A nice way to present this if you’re serving a group, is to omit the final five ingredients (chilli, green shallot, bean sprouts, herbs, and lime) and serve them separately in small bowls as a table centrepiece so guests can help themselves. This way they can make it as hot (with the chilli) and as colourful as they like.

Grated onion,  fresh chilli, bean sprouts,  bok choy leaves and limes

Grated onion, fresh chilli, bean sprouts, bok choy leaves, baby spinach, and limes served as a centrepiece

Ring the changes

You can make a simple seafood laksa by substituting the chicken and mushroom for 200g boneless white fish fillets—flaked into pieces, about 4-5 prawns and 3 scallops per person, and use fish stock instead of chicken.

If you are making a vegetarian laksa it’s a good idea to pre-cook any root vegetables first as they take a while to soften up. Cauliflower, broccolini, mushrooms, bok choy, and most Asian vegetables are perfect; together with bean sprouts, and red and green capsicum.

Yummy vegetarian laksa

Yummy vegetarian laksa

Mum’s cooking a Roast

There’s no denying that we Aussies love our lamb—roast, grilled, pulled, BBQ or burger, it’s got to be lamb. And we all have our favourite way of cooking it and our ‘best’ recipes, so there is no way we’re about to tell you how you should cook your lamb. Instead, we took a roast rack of lamb and sourced some fancy ideas of presenting it. Take a look at the pics below—it’s all in the presentation! We’ve also included some recipes for veggies and sides with a difference—all you need is your favourite way of roasting your rack of lamb. Enjoy. All recipes are for four people.

Lamb cutlets with caramelised onion

Image from Fork, Knife, Swoon.

Image from Fork, Knife, Swoon.

Strictly speaking, these onions are actually roasted, but hey, they come out tender, sweet, and moist and are super easy! We’ve used small whole onions, but you can also use large onions cut in half or quartered, depending on the size.

What you need: 8 – 12 small onions (3 – 4 per person); 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; 1 tablespoon butter; 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme, and salt and black pepper to taste.

What you do: Pre-heat oven to 2000 celsius. In a large bowl toss the peeled onions in the oil, thyme and salt and pepper. Spray (or brush) a baking tray with oil and spread the onions in a single layer and dot with the butter. Roast for approximately 30 minutes, stir around the tray, and continue roasting for another 20 – 30 minutes until the onions are tender and golden.

Lamb with creamy peas and roast carrotslamb with peas and roast veg

What you need: 350gm frozen peas; 4 tablespoons light cream; 1 tablespoon butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Two – three Dutch carrots per person, baby spinach leaves, and two tablespoons truffle glaze.

What you do: Preheat oven to 2000 celsius. Wash and brush the Dutch carrots and place on lightly oiled baking tray. Drizzle with extra oil and bake for approximately 30 minutes until the carrots are tender. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil, add the peas and cook for 3 – 4 minutes until tender. Drain and place in a blender or food processor. Add the cream, butter, salt and pepper and blend until thick and creamy. Adjust seasoning and serve immediately—this does not warm up well.

Warm 2 tablespoons truffle glaze over a very low heat and drizzle over the carrots. You can buy truffle glaze from speciality food shops or delis—we use Chef’s Choice Crema al Tartufo, which is a blend of balsamic vinegar and truffle.

Lamb with spinach and sweet potato mashlamb with spinach and sweet pot mash

What you need: 1 bunch spinach, 1 large sweet potato; 1 tablespoon butter, 1 clove garlic (crushed) and salt and black pepper to taste.

What you do: Finely chop the spinach and place in saucepan. Toss in crushed garlic and just cover with water. Bring to boil and cook until spinach is tender, drain and set aside. While the spinach is cooking, peel and chop the sweet potato and boil in lightly salted water for about 10 – 15 minutes until tender. You should aim to have the spinach and sweet potato ready at the same time. Drain the sweet potato and add the butter, salt and pepper, and mash with a potato masher until creamy. Place a small round of spinach on the plate and top with sweet potato mash. Serve immediately.

Lamb with Moroccan carrot saladlamb rack with Moroccan carrot salad

This is a lightly spiced and crunchy, raw carrot salad. You can make it spicier by adding chilli.

What you need: 4 medium carrots; 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, juice of 1 lime, 2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, pinch salt, and 1 heaped teaspoon finely chopped green chillies (optional).

What you do: Peel and grate, or julienne, the carrots. In a large bowl mix all the other ingredients, and stir in the carrots. Cover and place in the fridge for about two hours so the flavours fuse together. Serve at room temperature.

Lamb with roast tomatoes and pestoLamb with roast tomatoes and kaffir lime

This is a simple degustation combination of mushrooms, olives, and cherry tomatoes. We used pitted black olives, and large whole flat mushrooms.

What you need: 1 whole flat mushroom per person; 2 – 3 olives per person; 1 – 2 cherry tomatoes per person; 2 tablespoons extra virgin oil; a few kaffir lime leaves, and pesto sauce.

What you do: Pre-heat oven to 1800 celsius. Spray (or brush) a baking tray with oil, and place the mushrooms on the tray in a single layer and roast for approximately 15 minutes until slightly soft.  Make a small cut in the tomatoes so they don’t burst when cooking and add the olives and tomatoes to the tray, drizzle over the oil, and roast for a further 15 minutes.

To plate: Place the mushroom on the plate and top with the olives and tomato. Decorate with kaffir lime leaves and drizzle with the pesto sauce and juices from the roast lamb.

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