Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's getting "Chilli"

 As it is getting cooler and the nights are getting chilly I thought why not share some delicious chilli inspired recipes.
So sit back and get your note book to write notes or even better get an apron on and go and have a chilli cooking night with friends.

My first Chilli recipe is this amazing chilli chutney the great thing about this is you can serve it with a piece of grilled chiclen in a burger or with some pan seared fish or bottle it in cute little jars and give away as gifts….Love that.

Cheeky chilli-pepper chutney

If you want your chutney to last for a while, make sure you have some small sterilized jars .Place your chillies and peppers over a hot barbecue, in a griddle pan or on a tray under a hot grill, turning them now and then until blackened and blistered all over. Carefully lift the hot peppers and chillies into a bowl (the smaller chillies won’t take as long as the peppers so remove them first) and cover tightly with cling film. As they cool down, they’ll cook gently in their own steam. By the time they’re cool enough to handle, you’ll be able to peel the skin off easily.
When you’ve got rid of most of the skin, trimmed off the stalks and scooped out the seeds, you’ll be left with a pile of nice tasty peppers and chillies. Finely chop by hand or put in a food processor and whiz up. Then put to one side.
8-10 fresh red chillies

• 8 ripe red peppers
• olive oil
• 2 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
a sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
• 2 fresh bay leaves
• a 5cm piece of cinnamon stick
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 100g brown sugar
150ml balsamic vinegar

MethodHeat a saucepan and pour in a splash of olive oil. Add the onions, rosemary, bay leaves and cinnamon and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook very slowly for about 20 minutes or so, until the onions become rich, golden and sticky.

Add the chopped peppers and chillies, the sugar and the vinegar to the onions and keep cooking. When the liquid reduces and you’re left with a lovely thick sticky chutney, season well to taste. Remove the cinnamon stick and the bay leaves. Either spoon into the sterilized jars and put them in a cool dark place, or keep in the fridge and use right away. In sterilized jars, the chutney should keep for a couple of months.

For a quick and easy recipe that can be served on a platter for a dinner party or even just for one for dinner try this amazing Thai chicken recipe.

Thai-style grilled chicken (Gai yang)

Serves 8

2 tbsp finely chopped ginger (about 20gm)
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander root (about 2)
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, finely chopped
2 kg small chicken drumsticks
250 ml (1 cup) light soy sauce
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp white sugar

Sweet chilli sauce
80 gm white sugar
50 ml white vinegar
4 long red chillies, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 Pound ginger, coriander root, garlic and lemongrass in a mortar and pestle, or process in a small food processor, until smooth, then transfer to a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients, mix well to coat chicken, cover and refrigerate overnight.

2 For sweet chilli sauce, combine sugar, vinegar and 125ml water in a saucepan, stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the simmer, add chilli and garlic, cook until syrupy (5-6 minutes). Season to taste with salt, cook for another minute, cool slightly, process in a food processor until smooth. Cool.

3 Preheat a char-grill or barbecue to low heat. Remove chicken from marinade and grill, turning occasionally, until cooked through (10-15 minutes). Serve hot with sweet chilli sauce.

The recipe below  does have Tortillas in it and for those ( like myself) that are intersted in making their very own Tortialla please follow the recipe below and I have added a YOU tube clip on the cooking of a Tortilla.

Fried egg, avocado and chilli Tortillas

80 ml (1/3 cup) canola oil
16 eggs
1 quantity tortillas (recipe below)
4 ripe avocados, sliced
1 cup (firmly packed) coriander, coarsely torn
6 spring onions (green part only), finely chopped
8 small red chillies, finely chopped

To serve: hot sauce and quartered limes

Optional: crumbled feta, crushed fried pork rind (chicharrón), crushed peanuts, chopped kimchi(japanese dried plum), slivers of fried chorizo, sautéed prawns, sliced pickled shallot

1 Heat 20ml oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 4 eggs, fry until cooked to your liking (2-2½ minutes for soft yolk), season to taste, set aside and keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and eggs.

2 Place eggs on tortillas, top with avocado, coriander, spring onion and chilli and enjoy.

How To Make a Tortillas

A really good soft tortilla, any purist will tell you, is made from corn which has been boiled and steeped in a solution of lime (calcium hydroxide, that is, not the citrus) to loosen the skin, washed and then ground to form a dough known as masa.

It’s very much worth making your own, because it’s dead easy, and because there’s a world of difference between a freshly made tortilla and the sort you buy in shops. A fresh tortilla needs only some fried eggs, hot sauce, avocado, spring onion, chilli and lime to make a meal, but also provides the perfect vessel for barbecued seafood, thinly sliced steak, or slow-cooked pork, greens, or whatever else your stomach desires.

The keys to tortilla perfection are getting the consistency of your dough right, then letting it sit, cooking it right and, crucially, letting the tortillas steam, wrapped in a towel, in their own heat at the table.

Tortilla making :


Serves 16
Cooking Time Prep time 20 mins, cook 15 mins (plus resting)

360 gm (2 cups) masa flour (see note)

1 Place flour in a bowl with a pinch of salt, then add 250ml warm water.

2 Mix with your hands to a soft pliable dough (2 minutes), adding more water or flour if necessary.

3 Form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and rest for at least 20 minutes.

4 Divide dough into 16 and roll each piece into a ball.

5 Line a tortilla press (see note) with two squares of baking paper, cut to fit.

6 Working with one ball at a time, press gently but firmly in press to form a thin disc, then set aside on paper.

7 Heat a dry comal or pan over medium-high heat, peel baking paper from tortilla (be careful, it’s fragile) and cook tortilla, turning twice, until lightly browned (30 seconds on each side). Repeat with remaining tortillas.

8 Stack cooked tortillas in a basket lined with a tea towel as you go and rest to steam gently and soften slightly (3 minutes).

Note :Masa flour is available from Asian and other select grocers and The Essential Ingredient located in Prahran Market. Tortilla presses and comal griddles are available online from Monterey Mexican Foods

Something Sweet

Churro pastry is choux pastry without the eggs, with oil in place of butter. When you’re making this type of pastry, there’s a fine line between superb and mediocre.

The difference between the Spanish Churro and the Mexican Churro is that the Mexican Churro are piped with a flat piping nozzle as opposed to the ridge effect and the Mexican churro are usually eaten with a hot chocolate for breakfast.

Either way they both sound great to me.

Churros with Chilli Chocolate

Serves 6
325 gm plain flour
60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
For deep-frying: vegetable oil
2 tspns Cayenne Pepper

250 grams Dark Chocolate

For dusting:
caster sugar

1 Sift flour and a pinch of salt into a heatproof bowl.

2 Combine oil and 450ml water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Pour over flour and beat quickly with a wooden spoon to combine.

3 Transfer mixture to an electric mixer fitted with a paddle and beat until a very smooth dough forms (2-3 minutes). If you do not have an electric mixer mixer works just as well with a wooden spoon but put some muscle into it.

4 Transfer dough to a piping bag fitted with a 2cm star nozzle and push down to remove any air bubbles in bag. Refrigerate to rest and chill (30 minutes).

5 Heat oil in a deep-fryer or deep-sided frying pan to 180C. Pipe long lengths of mixture (about 15-20cm) into hot oil, creating a swirl, and cut with scissors. Be careful as oil is hot and may spit.

6 Fry churros in batches, turning occasionally with a spider, until golden (3-5 minutes), then remove with a spider and drain on absorbent paper. Toss in a bowl with caster sugar, shaking off excess,.

In a separate  bowl melt Dark chocolate and once chococolate is melted add Cayenne pepper and stir till mixed in . Go to a secluded spot in your home and dip each soft warm Churro into the chilli chocolate and devour!!!

Laughing Chef’s Favourite local business’ of the week

Now I have already written about both of these business' before but I cannot stress enough how great they. So when you get a minute go and visit them...

Jackson Dodds

611 Gilbert Rd, West Preston (at the end of the Gilbert Road tramstop)
Mon-Fri 7am-4pm, Sat-Sun 8am-4pm
9471 1900

My favoiurite place this week is Jackson Dodds. Jackson Dodds is the new venture from "Small Block" alumni Cameron Willis and his wife Jackie. Initially anxious there would be no demand in West Preston for the kind of café that serves organic OJ and dukkah eggs, the pair have found the locals keen. Cameron makes a mean soy Chai Latte.
Go and check out Jackson Dodds...the Ricotta Pancakes with Maple Syrup and Bacon are to "die for", )pic below)

Pope Joan Cafe

79 Nicholson St, East Brunswick
Daily 7am-4pm
9388 8858

I love Pope Joan is it  the fact that you know the food is going to be great or even the coffee for that matter  or is because of the cute porcelain items on every table. Whatever your reason for visiting Pope Joan  Ben Foster and former Circa chef Matt Wilkinson won't judge you. The menu at Pope Joan uses whatever fresh produce and is reasonable priced. Right now that involves doing all sorts of delicious things with eggs and makes a creamy just right Latte.
An array of sweets including "Chocolate Brownie with berry compote" and "Mandarin and Poppyseed Cake" (pic below).
I was advised the Menu and specials can and will change depending on what is in season..gotta love that.

Next blog will be about knives and what to buy and what are essentially the best...and EASTER stuff... Until then keep on Cooking !!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Chef Super Star !!

To be a an amazing chef these days is somewhat of a “super star” and after doing that apprenticeship so it should be. I have had the opportunity to met and work with some of the most talented and amazing chefs the others I admire I have admired from a distance.

I met Adrian Richardson (left)  in 1997 when I was a 3rd year apprentice chef and he came into the kitchen as my Head Chef  Emm Millar went to a trip to Paris to learn about bread. As an apprentice I pretty much did what I was told and kept my work area clean. The day Adrian arrived I remember he always had a smile on his face and went on a tour with my Head Chef. I worked mainly dinner shifts with Adrian and what I can remember is that he has the ability to “not stress” , there was an incident where the restaurant had a full house and a waiter said to him ‘how long Chef” Adrian replied “Give them a couple of magazine’ and he chuckled. I absolutely loved that as it gave me the ability to cook and not stress out even more than I was, but to take pride in what I was  doing.

Adrian gave me full responsibility on creating a dessert (which is the best moment as an apprentice) so I created the Passionfruit Mousse from the Christine Mansfield cookbook. It was a passionfruit jelly on the bottom and creamy passionfruit  mousse on top and then the end result was turning it out so the jelly was on top like a dome. However my jelly didn’t set and Adrian walked over to inspect he said “Ohhh what happened it didn’t work” he then proceeded to taste my mousse and he said “Now that tastes great just keep them in the glasses and serve them like that”. This experience made me realise how great a chef he was how he saw the good in the bad really and that he was  constantly on your side .

Adrian Richardson then went went on to open La Luna Bistro in Rathdowne street Carlton and I went several times to say hello and breakfast was a favourite with the girls (Lara,Daniela, Nadia & Uyen). I continued to rave about the palce to everyone how great the food was the service and more importantly the chef.
Since the opening Adrian has redecorated La Luna and has shared his passion for meat through his acclaimed book "MEAT" (below left) published by Hardie Grant which was nominated for the best designed cookbook at the Australian Publishers Assoc Design Awards for 2008 and was included in Melbourne's Herald Sun "Best Books of 2008" feature. MEAT was given a face-lift and re-released in September 2009 and Adrian's second book is due out March 2011.

Adrian Richardson is in his element at the moment, after 11 successful years of owning and operating his Award Winning La Luna Bistro, a new book launched in late 2008, co-hosting the hit series “Boys Weekend”, which now airs in over 100 countries worldwide, and finishing his first solo TV series “Secret Meat Business”, he is having the time of his life. Adrian also appeared in a Guest Chef Challenge and Finale episodes of the extraordinarily successful series “Master Chef Australia”. In addition to Adrian's other TV credits, he is also a regular guest on Channel Ten's “9am with David & Kim” and was a regular Chef on Ten's hit TV series “Ready Steady Cook”, for the first three seasons. In 2006 he appeared alongside Tobie Puttock in “Jamie's Kitchen Australia”. Adrian's restaurant La Luna Bistro, even received a personal endorsement from Jamie Oliver himself in front of a live audience of 6000 people, in Melbourne during Jamie's live tour (Sept 2006). Adrian can now be seen on “Good Chef Bad Chef” channel 10.

This is one Chef that deserves the “super star” label and so much more!!! Good on you Adrian!

Go check out La Luna amazing food and the crème Brulee as my brother in law would say “is the best”.

Adriano Zumbo is hitting the “super star” level with his new tv series on ABC ; pastries and desserts that are out of this world. This country boy’s first taste of the sweet life was raiding the lollies and cake mix from his parent’s Coonamble supermarket. In his pursuit of mastering the art of pastry, he has trained and worked both in Australia and France with Australian culinary greats such as Neil Perry and international heavyweights Ramon Morato and Pierre Herme.

Inspired by the world around him, his desserts tell a story or take on the personality of their namesakes. Whether it’s Lukas Rides the Tube or Escape From a Columbian Rainforest, Adriano’s fertile mind, exceptional skill and natural curiosity for unlikely ingredients are his biggest assets.

Master patissier Adriano Zumbo, maestro of the macaron and guest star on Ten’s Masterchef, has landed his own SBS series, Zumbo, which began on the  10th February 2011 at 7.30pm.

Check out

Another chef that deserves a mention is Christine Mansfield, Christine pretty much opended up the door to paramount cooking. I remember buying Christine’s dessert cookbook called “Desserts” and I was obsessed with it, still am. You may have seen Christine's vast array of pesto, Harissa, and other delicious products.

Christine is a highly regarded Australian chef, author, food writer, food manufacturer, presenter, teacher and gastronomic traveller whose culinary work draws on the exciting tastes and flavours of many cultures, whose passion and commitment to culinary excellence are world renowned.

Since closing the celebrated Paramount Restaurant in Sydney in December 2000, Christine has continued to expand her knowledge and expertise, regularly travelling internationally as a culinary ambassador for Australia’s gastronomy.

Christine relocated to London in October 2003 to open East @ West in Covent Garden to instant critical acclaim. It was awarded Best New Restaurant by the 2004 London Tatler Restaurant Guide plus the Catey’s Award for Best UK Menu 2004. It closed in early 2005 when the property was sold by the owners. Christine returned to Sydney and opened Universal Restaurant in August 2007 to an enthusiastic audience and instant critical acclaim.

To date she has published five acclaimed and award-winning books with Penguin Books Australia: Stir, Spice, Christine Manfield Originals and Christine Manfield Desserts preceded her most recent book Fire – A World of Flavour released in October 2008. She is currently researching and completing her sixth book.

For more information on Christine Mansfield check out

I need to shout out a massive THANK YOU to Emm Millar who was my Head Chef at Wine Bar 2 (Walters Wine bar) in Carlton . Thank you for being the amazing chef that you were and still are …a workaholic she was called, but to me she was my Head Chef who would tell you if something was not good and then show you how to fix it, would have me in tears of laughter at 12pm after a split shift (9 am– 11pm). Emm thank you for absorbing me into the cookery world and leading me along the way… I will always remember making the 36 egg yolk crème patisserie (custard ) in the hot kitchen and the roasted ducks and so much more French cooking. THANK YOU Emm !!!

Ok so as promised here is my version of the ever so delicious bread and Butter pudding . Now someone said to me “Renee I hate sultanas” …Don’t worry leave them out or add diced apricots, or cranberries. Cooking is all about imagination and really comes down to what you like so explore…

Bread and butter pudding

Serves 6

Cooking Time Prep time 10 mins, cook 40 mins (plus standing)

85 gm (½ cup) sultanas (or diced apricot, cranberries or currants)
5 eggs
2 tbsp Brandy ( optional)
300 ml pouring cream
300 ml milk
55 gm (¼ cup) caster sugar
1 orange, finely grated rind only (optional)
1 vanilla bean, seeds only
½ tsp ground cinnamon
8 1.5cm-thick slices of day-old white bread
60 gm soft butter, plus extra for greasing
1 tbsp demerara sugar
To serve: icing sugar and vanilla ice-cream or cream

1 Combine sultanas and brandy in a small bowl and set aside to cool.

2 Combine eggs, cream, milk, caster sugar, orange rind, vanilla seeds and cinnamon in a jug. Whisk vigorously to combine and set aside.

3 Spread both sides of bread slices with butter and halve lengthways. Scatter one third of the brandied sultanas into a lightly greased 1-litre capacity ovenproof dish. Trim bread slices to fit dish and layer, scattering remaining brandied sultanas between each layer. Pour cream mixture evenly over bread slices and stand until bread has completely absorbed cream mixture (about 1 hour).

4 Preheat oven to 180C. Scatter demerara sugar over pudding and bake until golden and custard is firm (30-40 minutes). Serve immediately or at room temperature, lightly dusted with icing sugar, and with fresh berries. Yummm!!

Now if you didn’t know it is Pancake Tuesday and I am the Pancake Chef tomorrow night in my household. Pancake or Shrove Tuesday is the day in which the wives would use up all their ingreidents in preparation for Lent which leads to Easter . It’s a great excuse to have a night of pancakes.Pancakes are the perfect vehicle for all manner of accompaniments. It could be as simple as a drizzle of honey and some sliced banana, or a dollop of yoghurt, a handful of berries and a glug of maple syrup – the real deal please, this is no time for substitutes. Or you could use the maple syrup as a poaching medium for wedges of perfectly firm, ripe pear . As the pears cook, they become fragrantly, lusciously glazed. You can do the pears ahead of time if you like and gently warm them in a pan just before serving. A simple spiced ricotta offsets the sticky sweetness.


Serves 6

Cooking Time Prep time 15 mins, cook 30 mins

180 gm butter, coarsely chopped
450 ml buttermilk
3 eggs, separated
300 gm (2 cups) plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 Melt 60gm butter in a small saucepan over low heat, cool slightly, then combine in a large bowl with buttermilk and egg yolks and whisk until smooth.

2 Sift over flour, bicarbonate of soda and 1 tsp fine salt, mix until smooth and combined (do not overwork).

3 Whisk eggwhites and a pinch of salt in a separate large bowl until firm peaks form (2-3 minutes), then fold into flour mixture.

4 Melt 10gm butter in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat, add ¼-cupfuls of pancake batter, allowing room for it to spread. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface and edges are golden (1-2 minutes).

5 Turn with a wide spatula and cook until pancake is firm and base is golden (1-2 minutes), transfer to a plate and keep warm in a low oven. Wipe pan with absorbent paper between batches and repeat with remaining butter and batter.

Next blog I will be discussing yeasty baked goods as well as my very own recipe for the “Healthy chocolate cake” and some savoury dishes too.

LAUGHING CHEF is loving ....

Local Business of the week to look out for is called Coco Moloko it is a childrens label based in Melbourne and managed by the talented Nadia Neil. If you get a chance click on the link below and have a look at the beautiful hand made clothing or even better support a local business and buy Australian & hand made clothing. 

Until next time keep on laughing and get into that Kitchen and start exploring.