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Steak Diane with chips

This is the one thing my Dad requested for his birthday “I just want a really good steak diane, but not with mash, with crispy chips”. Ok Dad. Done!

I went to Pino’s Meats on President Ave to get the meat as they are a meat specialist and know their stuff. Everything is fresh and they cut to order. I ordered Scotch fillet as it has a good marbling of fat through it and will give this dish a good flavour.

Now, the second part of this dish are good chips. Recently I saw Heston Blumenthal on masterchef and I remember he talked about how to create the best chip. He said you need to boil the chips first and cool them so they are perfectly cooked once you deep fry them and so that you do not need to keep them in the oil a long time and burn them.

The only thing I would suggest doing which I did not is to get the right type of potato that he suggests, which are the charlotte or belle de fontenay varieties. Although my chips were well cooked, they did not stay crispy for long. I think maybe my oil was not hot enough either?

As you can see below, I like my steak quite rare, the opposite of my Dad who likes his well done. So I did it how he liked it, but for me, I thoroughly enjoyed the juices from this beautiful piece of meat (no sauce, my lactose intolerant stomach would have hated me!)

This is the real deal. I must admit it did look good. Dad was very very pleased and  enjoyed the meal thoroughly with a bottle of Katnook Estate 2006 Founders Block Shiraz.

Steak Diane

4 thick pieces of scotch fillet ~ 250g each

abuot 20 mushrooms

50g butter

2 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

300mL cream

1/2 cup brandy, plus some to deglaze

bunch chives

Cold half cooked potato chips

1.Before you cook the beef I would suggest start to cook the chips in hot oil as they take a while to cook. Drain on paper towel and season.

2. Cook beef to your liking. (If they are thick, brown well and then bake in the oven until cooked enough)

3. Deglaze the pan you cooked the beef in by pouring in a good splash of brandy. Then melt the butter and sautee down the mushrooms.

4. Add the dijon and worcestershire sauce and mix in well.  Then add the  brandy and cream and 1/2 the chives. Simmer.

5. Once the beef is done, let the steaks sit for a couple of minutes them slice. Arrange on the plate with the pink flesh facing up. Spoon over some sauce, and sprinkle with extra chives then stack some chips on the side.

Mini Pavlovas

Today is my Dad’s birthday and one of his favourite ‘cakes’ is Pavlova. Of course for his birthday I wanted to prepare a menu for him that he would really enjoy. I knew he would be opening a good bottle of wine for the evening, but dessert really has to cap it off.

Last time I tried to make meringue it did not work as the bowl I used was too shallow and the meringue went ALL OVER my kitchen, and I am not kidding. This time I used my newish kitchen aid which has amazing power and a deep bowl. Easy! I got glossy thick meringue in no time.

You have to lick the bowl….raw meringue is soooooo yummy. Even better when you sprinkle a little bit of cocoa on top!

I was a bit scared to dollop the meringue into blobs, and I would normally use a piping bag, but I lost my nozzled (of course, what timing!) So 2 spoons together worked ok. Then the cooking process is very slow. I even think I sped it up a little, but it will take more than an hour to cook at a very low heat ~90 degrees.

So now that the meringue is done, I have to work out what will go on top and if you know me, you know I don’t like to make things that are the norm, so today we will be playing with the meringue. I have made the bases plain, so that they are gooey in the center, but for the topping we cannot use just a plain whipped cream No no no. It must be more interesting.  I have decided to go with fruits for this ‘end of winter’ night and also so that we don’t finish on a really heavy dessert after steak and chips.

I found beautifully ripe mangoes at the fruit market so I decided to make a mango cream drizzles with passionfruit and grated chocolate. However these mangoes were very deceptive. They had a very strong aroma from them but when I blitzed them their flavour was almost absent. I folded the pulp through the whipped cream but still it was a flat flavour. I resurected it though, PHEW! I cannot have bad cream, as Dad absolutely loves whipped cream, so if I was going to flavour it it had to taste good. Unfortunately I did not have any limes which would have lifted the flavour with the acidity but I did have some left over lemon curd (as you do) in my fridge from last week, so a substantial amount of that in and now it tasted great. With the addition of some gelatin (just to make it a bit firmer after all the liquids I added ) I think it is done.

Now time to assemble. The scary part! I feel like one of the finalists in masterchef when they wer assembling Rene Redzepi’s snowman….so if they can do it surely I can too! I searched high and low for my piping bag as I can carefully pipe my mango lemon ‘mousse’ now on top in a neat pile then top with passionfruit and shavings of chocolate.


Meringue with mango lemon mousse

(makes 7 blobs)

6 egg whites

pinch salt

375g sugar

1 mango

300mls fresh cream

1/2 cup lemon curd

3 gold gelatine leaves


70% dark chocolate

1.Preheat oven to 90 degrees Celsius.

2. Put egg whites and salt in your kitchen aid and whip until stiff peaks. Then slowly add the sugar until thick and very glossy.

3. Using a piping bag, or spoons, put blobs on a flat tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 1 hour until outside and base is just set. Let cool.

4. Now prepare the cream. Pulp mango flesh and put through a sieve. Fold into cream.

5. Fold in lemon curd.

6. Melt gelatine leaves in a little bit of hot water until completely dissolved. (You may need to put the water and leaves in a pot and boil until dissolved). Pour into a seperate and let cool slightly so it does not curdle the cream. Then add to cream and mix in well. Refrigerate.

7. Take all of the passionfruit out of the shell. Set aside.

8. Grate dark chocolate and set aside.

9. To assemble, pipe some cream gently on top of the meringue, leaving a pit in the center. Spoon some passionfruit in the center of the cream and then sprinkle with some chocolate.

Lemon Curd Tart

I decided to make this tart after a challenge was given to me where someone said to me how HARD lemon curd tarts are to make. I thought pfft, they are not, I am confident I can make them well as I have done so in the past and they were very successful.

Unfortunately I did loose my recipe when my website was deleted so I had to do some research and play with the recipe before posting. I ended up using Skye Gyngell of Petersham Nursery’s recipe as a base and change it around a little. I like the curd to be quite tangy and sour as it balances the extreme richness of the butter and many yolks….also it allows you to pair it with creme fraiche or ice creme and still be balanced instead of just rich.

Basically you just need to make sure that when making the curd you do it slowly so it does not curdle, then you are set. I always use the same pastry recipe for most tarts and once the pastry is cooked you let it cool and fill it with your cooled curd.

This is my adapted recipe.

Use my perfect pastry recipe

9 egg yolks
4 lemons zested
3/4 cup lemon juice (but add it slowly and taste in between so it is to your liking)
250g sugar
300g butter

1. Using the perfect pastry recipe cook the tarts and let them cool.
2. In the meantime, over a low heat melt all the curd ingredients slowly, so it does not curdle (approx 10 minutes).
3. Pour mixture into another bowl and allow it to cool.
4. Pour the mixture into the cooled pastry cases, but do not overfill.
5. Bake in oven at 240C for 5-6 mins.
6. Cool to room temperature then place in fridge for 2 hours.
7. Serve with ice cream or creme fraiche.


A small pastry which can be claimed by many countries all over South America, from Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Peru. But none of these cross over to Greece, although we do have something similar which we call Bourekia, but this is not good enough for some Chileans I know who say “You are a nice girl, really, but you CANNOT make Empanadas. You are NOT Chilean”.

Well I was on a mission to prove them wrong. I was perfectly able to make such a simple little pastry….simple? Well apparently not. There are so many rules with empanadas. Factors to do with the pastry, amount of filling, how much olive and egg, size and their shape. Ok that is fine, I can research, I can youtube it to watch and learn particular techniques such as the repulgue (the plating on the rim).

The name comes from the word EMPANAR which means to wrap or coat in bread. They can be baked or fried, and this determines the type of pastry (tapas) that is required. Traditional tapas are made with flour, water and lard, so not really for the vegetarian, who would have to prepare their own tapas.

There are many types of Empanadas including the traditional Carne, made of beef which is then chopped very finely, like mince but with much more flavour; queso and jamon (ham an cheese); chicken; spinach and cheese…..the list goes on now and really anything and everything can be put inside. They can be made as a sweet with fruits inside. In Uruguay actually they are famous for their sweet Empanada which is filled with quince, dulce de leche and chocolate and is then covered in sugar or the pastry is brushed with apple jam.

But today I needed to start from the beginning. Carne con huevo y aceituna (meat with egg and olive). I had to perfect the most common style before moving onto interesting filling. There are many things that need to focus on. 1) Getting the pastry right. It needs to be thick, not soggy and similar to a shortcrust;
2) The filling needs to be balances, and this means the correct amount of spices, then portion of egg and olive for the amount of meat filling; and
3) The repulgue needs to be neat, tight and make the empanadas look pretty.

Once the pastry was made, which is arguably the most important part of the process, I think, then the filling is prepared and then each item is laid out as if in a production line for the filing to be completed. The pastry should be rolled out to about 2mm, this will give it enough thickness to cover the filling and keep it in without breaking, but also is not so thick that you end up with bites of only pastry.

A spoonful of meat, but not too much, there needs to be ample pastry for the repulgue. Only one small slice of egg, and half a GREEN olive. Many countries also add currants, but I prefer to not mix sweetness with my meat.

The repulgue is the twisting on the edge of the pastry. It is not easy, let me tell you. I watched many youtube videos to learn how to do it and then even after that it still took a bit of practice. Overall though, I think I did well. (My Latino-ness is increasing by the minute!)

Before baking they are glazed over with eggwash and then baked for 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven. They should be golden brown when they come out.

Eating them is the fun part FINALLY. It is not a quick afternoon task, it does require a good couple of hours to prepare, fold and cook them all. I made around 50 or so, many of which I gave away, cause there are only so many you can eat, however everyone who received them was very thankful and said they tasted good.

BUT the test is what a Latino thinks…..unfortunately, my friend who said ‘I could never make them’ was not around to try them, so ‘the Peruvian boyfriend’ was quizzed on how good they are. Some might argue this is a bit subjective, as he would say they are good either way. WRONG. The first time I attempted them, I followed a silly recipe I was given which required me to boil the meat and ended in disaster. He sweetly told me how much I had failed. This time though, he gave them the thumbs up and even took left overs home.

Mission accomplished.


Perfect Tart Pastry (for desserts)

265g plain flour
160g butter, slightly softened
70mL cold water
7mL white vinegar
40g caster sugar

1. Pulse flour, butter, salt and sugar until it creates a dry crumb.
2. Add chilled water and vinegar and mix until it forms a ball.
3. Flatten the pastry onto some cling wrap and wrap around well. Refrigerate until firm.
4. Roll out pastry. (I find it easier to roll out the pastry in between two large pieces of cling wrap. This means that if the pastry is sticky it will smooth out easily and not stick to your roller. It also allows you to achieve an even and thin sheet of pastry).

5. Now put the pastry into your tin and put into the edges and along the sides.
6. Now using your rolling pin, roll along the top of the edges to break away the pastry cleanly.
7. Now refrigerate until firm.
8. Using a form, prick the base and then blind bake. (This requires you to put baking paper inside the dough and pour either dry beans or rice inside. This prevents the pastry from puffing up. Once the pastry is set you remove the beans/rice and let the pastry brown. Keep the beans/rice in a container and continue to reuse them as your blind baking weights)

9. Bake in a 180 degree oven for 15 mins, take out beans/rice and continue to bake until golden brown (approx 10 mins).

Peruvian Scallop Ceviche

Last christmas I really wanted to contribute to our family’s lunch but (and I know this might be blasphemy) I am sick of the Greek food we have year in, year out. It is nice, but it is boring to me now and I crave new flavours and recipes. I am not saying that I dislike lamb off the spit, pastitio, my Yiayia’s amazing dolmathes which are the best (I don’t care what anyone says about theirs), or a nice big Greek salad, what I am saying is that I need change from the norm. This year we even had the company of cousins from Cyprus, so what do my family do, but try to find everything Greek for us to do, from watching Greek movies to eating a lot of Greek food and buying special Greek coffee to make them. It is just fitting that of course we also had Greek games to play such as Tavli (backgammon) and Gounga (Rummy)

Over the past year and a half I have been trying to learn the cuisine of many new cultures including Italian, Spanish, Peruvian, Argentinean, Venezuelan and Mexican, so it is just my personality that I want to learn more and try out new recipes. So I did say to myself that this Christmas I will cook all new recipes and challenge myself. I forgot about the obvious however, although “I” want to try all new things, my family is not so adventurous and I know in the past when I have cooked something a bit different, it goes wasted. It does make me upset and think to myself ‘why bother’, but it is to satisfy my curiosity.

I did do something I have never done before and that most people would never even attempt….Panettone. It is not necessarily ‘hard’, but it just takes A LONG time as you need t let it rise 4 times which means if you do it in one solid block, it will take at least 9 hours. That was an achievement and it sounds very impressive too, which makes me happy. But for the Christmas lunch I decided to only make one thing and to do it for me as I know I will enjoy it and consume a large proportion…..Ceviche

A Peruvian raw fish dish which is cured with the acidity of lemons and limes and cooked also with the aji chilli paste. It is always served with sweet potato and corn, but normally Peruvian corn called Choclo which is much larger than our yellow corn and with a more buttery flavour than sweet. These vegetables cut through the high acidity of this dish. In the marinade there is also garlic, corriander, chopped red chilli and Spanish onion. Traditionally a white fish such as Perch or Snapper would be used but now there are so many variations, literally thousands, there is no one true recipe. I really like to use Scallops as they are a bit tougher and can sit in the marinade for hours without ruining, whereas white fish will cook straight away so should be eaten soon after pouring the marinade over.

So what was the verdict from the family? Well a few of them tried it which was great, but I did take home a fair bit and ate it for lunch Boxing Day. I enjoyed it as it was a refreshing dish on the hot day……………….but I think I just need to accept that my family still love the traditional food and will never change. That is fine, I can handle that, but I will still be on a quest to learn as many cuisines as I can.

500g Japanese scallops, halved as they are quite thick
1 spanish onion, chopped finely
1 red chilli, chopped finely
bunch coriander, roughly chopped
2 tsp aji amarillo paste
3/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup lime juice
1 large sweet potato
2 large corn cobs
cinnamon quills
1/2 cup sugar

1. Mix the onion and chilli through the scallops.
2. In a seperate bowl mix the juices and aji paste and season. Pour over the scallop mixture and then mix through the coriander.(This will need a couple of hours to ‘cook’)
3. Cook the sweet potato and corn in a large pot with water, sugar and cinnamon quills. Take out when ready – cooked but not soft.
4. To serve put some of the corn and sweet potato on one side of your plate, then fill the other side with the ceviche and juices.
N.B. If you are game you can drink some of the left over juices which are called Leche de Tigre as it is very spicy!

Pão de Queijo

I am always looking for new recipes from different cuisines and I happened to stumble upon this one from one of my capoeira friends. This recipe originates from Brazil and translates to Cheese bread. They are made as little balls and eaten as snacks. Before I even had the recipe I was determined to make them for all my friends in my class, but when I did a bit of research I discovered to my delight that they did not use flour, but rather tapioca starch which is gluten free. KA CHING! additionally they only had milk and parmesan, so it was easy to substitute rice milk into the mixture to make them also lactose free (as parmesan and other very matured cheeses do not have any lactose) I have hit the jackpot!!!

So I went out and bought the tapioca starch, which is easy enough to find from any Chinese grocery store. NOTE: do not bother going into a supermarket like Coles as they will probably charge you $6 a packet as it is in the heath food aisle, but if you go to the Chinese store, they will be max $2 a packet as it is something they use in a lot of cooking.

My first attempt was a DISASTER. It was based on choux pastry where you heat the milk, oil and water in a pan then add the flour and other ingredients. I think without proper full cream cow milk and butter, my substitutions hindered the stressfulness of that method. They were startchy, chewy and transparent in the centre. The outsides were beautifully cooked and tasted delicious so I actually got a spoon and pulled all the insides out and ate a plate of crusts. You could call it finding the best of any situation, yes, but to me I still needed to make it better, properly. I knew it was not a hard snack to make, but I just needed a new better recipe.

I then found a blog, Kitchen Corners, from a Brazilian girl who rather than heating the liquid first, just blitzed everything together in a blender. It seemed very very liquidy at first and I was skeptical about its stressfulness again. Thoughts ran through my mind of “will this even cook”.

BUT I reminded myself to be patient, something I am terrible at, have faith in the recipe and let the wonders of the oven take over. Instantly these liquid pots had puffed into magnificent balls of goodness. SUCCESS!

Hot out of the oven I eagerly ripped one apart, not caring if I was going to burn my fingers, I wanted to see if the inside was as good as the outside. YUP, the inside was soft and fluffy, just like a good freshly made bread. I knew I would be indulging on them all afternoon as I have not had a slice of bread for about 7 weeks now since I found out I am gluten intolerant and am missing it terribly. They were soooo good that I ate at least 10 over the next four hours. I could not help myself, they just tasted so good and I knew I could enjoy their flavour and texture, but the best thing to indulge in is the thought that they will not make me sick, have stabbing stomach aches and not be able to sleep, so devoured I did.

The true test will be my Master and his daughters who know all about the real thing and I must admit will be harsh critics, but I am sure they will approve. I am completely confident and am so happy to have stumbled upon Pão de queijo.

Pao de Queijo

500g tapioca starch
6 eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 cup rice bran oil
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt

1. Put everything bar the parmesan in the blender until well combined then add the parmesan.
2. Spoon into mini muffin tins only 3/4 full otherwise they will overflow.
3. Bake for 15 mins or until well browned.