The dining table is the heart of a home

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Homemade Pesto

I love pesto. You can have them with bread, pasta, make them as pizza base, lots of ways to serve pesto.

But my favourite is probably to make bruschetta or have them with bread. And the exciting thing with pesto is you can make different varieties of them. You can make them with almond, walnut, pine nuts, etc. You can even choose the herbs you want. I usually use parsley and basil. But I know some people have made them with coriander, mint, etc. I think that's the most exciting thing about cooking, you can do whatever you want sometimes as long as it suits your tastebuds. Think out of the box and explore your creativity.

I made these quite often for dinner parties at home. It's pretty easy as long as you have food processor. I made these for Christmas Eve dinner. Basically it's just spreading the pesto on a piece of bread and a slice of tomato on top. You can certainly add some bocconcini or other types of cheese as well.

Homemade Pesto


  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 cups basil, leaves only loosely packed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 100grams pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, more if you have sweet tooth =)
  • pinch of salt and black pepper


  • Tomatoes- sliced to 2-3mm thickness
  • Baguette, slice diagonally around 1/2cm thick.


  1. Put all the ingredients in your food processor.

  2. Process all the ingredients but make sure you don't blitz them too finely. It's nicer to have a bit of crunch.

  3. Season and taste your pesto. Add sugar if it's not sweet enough, add a bit more vinegar if it's not sour enough, add a bit of salt if it's not salty enough, add....I'll stop, well I guess you get my point. ;)

  4. Butter one side of the baguette. Toast in oven 200 degrees celcius until the tops are browned and crunchy

  5. Spread the pesto on a slice of bread, top with tomatoes and serve


  • You can chop up some extra basil and put on top of the tomato or even add a whole basil leaf.
  • It's great to serve with pasta or grilled salmon too.

Happy New Year everyone. Hope you have a good celebration

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Hmmm....I'm sitting here not having much to do. So I thought I'd share this recipe that I absolutely loveeee and I actually do believe that this is THE BEST ROAST POTATO RECIPE.....for me at least. ;)

I made this for Christmas Eve dinner and it was yummy.

The secret ingredient is PANKO breadcrumbs. You know those Japanese breadcrumbs we use in making tonkatsu etc? You can get it in any Asian groceries.

I did this recipe by accident actually. A couple of months ago I was preparing breadcrumb herb crusted rack of lamb and because I had extra panko breadcrumb mixture, being me, I thought...hmmm...why not try to mix it with the potatoes. And it turned out GREAT!!!....BEST I mean.....well I've said that at least 10 times since the beginning of this post so if I have not convinced you enough to try this recipe....I don't know what can...=)...

So here we go.


  • 1kg Baby Potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, lightly mashed
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • Extra olive oil, to drizzle the potatoes before roasting

Breadcrumb mixture:

  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoon chopped rosemary ( you can use any dried herbs too if you want. Mixed herbs, parsley, dried rosemary, thyme, anything you like)
  • Salt and black pepper


  1. Mix all the ingredients for the breadcrumb mixture and set aside
  2. Chop the baby potatoes into big chunks, leave the skin on. It actually tastes better with skin on
  3. Put the potatoes in a pot of cold salted water and bring it to the boil. You will need a lid for the pot, you'll see why in a while
  4. Drain the potatoes when it's cooked/soft
  5. Put the cooked potatoes back to the pot. Chuck in the butter, olive oil, flour, garlic, breadcrumb mixture and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Don't go too heavy with the salt here because remember your breadcrumb mixture is already salted as well. So go easy.
  6. Put the lid on. We're gonna do some exercise for your biceps and triceps next....=)
  7. Once the lid is on, give the pot a goooooddd shake. You can shake it up and down, side to side, shake it all around, whatever you feel like at that moment. Why do we do this? This will mash up some parts of the potatoes and it actually makes it quite fluffy afterwards. But of course, don't overdo it. Or you'll get mashed potatoes instead of roast potatoes.
  8. Take the lid off and give the potatoes/breadcrumbs a good mix. Some of the potatoes will look quite distorted in shape, some of them will have their skins coming off, but that's okay, I like rustic looking food.
  9. Put the potatoes on baking paper lined tray. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil
  10. Roast in 200 degrees celcius oven for 25-30minutes until the potatoes turn golden and crunchy

And you're done. Hope you enjoy it.

Christmas Lunch

We had a great time on Christmas Day. Thanks to everyone to came and made it such a special day. As mentioned earlier we celebrated my brother in law's 21st Birthday as well.

These are some of the photos for the food that we had on that day. Surprisingly was not too difficult/hectic preparing the lunch. All thanks to my colleague who allowed me to have my Christmas Eve off so that I made all the preparations the day before. And of course my husband, mother, father and brother in law who helped out with the preparation as well.

I am going to share a couple of recipes that I prepared for the lunch. As usual and expected from me, too much food. We had left over for dinner the next few days. I didn't mind it long as everyone had a good time and good meal as well.

The menu for the lunch was:


Cheese platter with homemade sweet onion dip

Rice paper roll with hoisin peanut sauce

Sweet and spicy asian style meatballs


Asian style pasta salad

Red wine beef stew

Shepherd's pie


Raspberries cocktail with mint and lime - Sorry didn't get to take the photos for this one

First recipe that I would like to share is my Red Wine Beef Stew. This dish is so versatile that you can serve it any time with ANYTHING. It's great with bread, pasta, mashed potatoes or rice. And it's dead easy to prepare. You just need your slow cooker, or if you want to save time, use your pressure cooker.

Red Wine Beef Stew

  • 1.5kg Beef Short Ribs ( I did add some cubed chuck steak as well because short ribs take lots of space in the slow cooker and I can't cook big amount with it. Adding chuck steak is okay, but personally I find beef ribs are much more tender)
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 300gr of bacons, cut into 1/2cm strips
  • 1.5cups red wine
  • Beef stock
  • Bunch of rosemary and thyme
  • 3 pieces of bay leaf
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 500gr carrots ( cut into big chunks)
  • Plain flour for dusting and some extra to thicken the sauce at the end
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Put carrots into your slow cooker or pressure cooker
  2. Dust beef ribs with flour and brown with a little bit of olive oil on both sides in frying pan
  3. Once the beef ribs are browned, put it on top of the carrot in your slow/pressure cooker
  4. In the same pan that you used to brown your beef, put a little bit more of olive oil and chuck in the bacon
  5. Once the bacon is browned and slightly crispy, put in the chopped onion. Cook until the onion is soft.
  6. Then, put the red wine into the same frying pan
  7. Cook for 10 mins until red wine has been reduced slightly
  8. Put the whole mixture into the slow cooker
  9. Top up with beef stock until it covers the top of the beef
  10. Put your herbs ( thyme, rosemary and bay leaf ), garlic and honey into the slow cooker. Mix slightly.
  11. Season with salt and pepper
  12. If you are using slow cooker, cook on high for about 8-10hours. If using pressure cooker, cook on high pressure for about 30 mins
  14. There'll be a layer of oil built up on top of the beef. This is because the ribs have pretty high fat content in it. So take off the layer of fat. I use a meshed skimmer like this one to do the job. It's a great item to have in your kitchen. YOU HAVE TO REMOVE THE LAYER OF OIL, or else you'll feel like you've just drank a whole cup of oil when you eat your stew and it's probably not good for your arteries too. =)
  15. Once that's done, if the sauce is not thick enough, mix a few tablespoons of flour with water and mix it into your stew to thicken it slightly.
  16. Season with more salt/pepper/honey according to your liking
  17. Serve with bread/pasta/rice, whatever you fancy

There you go, my family loves this stew. I hope yours will too.

Another recipe I'm going to share is sweet onion dip to go with crackers/cheese platter.

I got this recipe from userealbutter

Again it's easy to prepare and tastes great.

Sweet Onion Dip


  • 250grams cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup mayonnaise ( I used Japanese Mayonnaise just because I like it better..=) )
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar


  1. Beat the softened cream cheese until smooth
  2. Stir in the mayonnaise, parmesan, onion, black pepper and sugar
  3. Pour the mixture into 4 ramekin dishes
  4. Bake in oven 180 degrees celcius for 35-45 minutes until the tops are browned and bubbly
  5. Serve with crackers.

Serving tips:

  • You can also serve this dip with crostinis and top with smoked salmon/salami.
  • Try making small pancakes and top them with this dip and smoked salmon and a little bit of herbs. Serve it as an entree at your dinner party. Im sure your guests will be impressed.

The last recipe that I'd like to share today is the sweet and spicy asian style meatballs. Well the thing with my cooking is I often don't measure everything exactly. I go by feeling. Or Malaysians/Indonesians like to call it "agak agak". Which means you just put the estimate amount that you think will make the dish tastes good.

People have different threshold for taste and tastebuds anyway that my idea of sweet might not be sweet enough for another person. So the measurements for the sauces in my recipes are according to how I like it, you can always adjust the seasoning based on how you like it yourself.

Sweet and Spicy Asian Style Meatballs


  • 1kg minced pork
  • 1/2 cup chopped spring onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped coriander
  • 1 cm knob ginger, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
  • 1 small can of water chestnuts, finely diced

Sauce mixture:

  • 5 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce ( I used Lingham sweet chilli sauce)
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon chinese wine
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar ( you can use lemon/lime juice instead of vinegar if you want)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with water ( to thicken at the end)


  1. Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs and form into small balls around 2cm diameter
  2. Place the meatballs on baking tray lined with baking paper
  3. Bake in oven for 20-25mins, 200 degrees celcius until cooked through. Set aside.
  4. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce except the cornstarch/water mixture
  5. Heat up a frying pan, put the sauce mixture into the frying pan
  6. Once heated through, put in the cooked meatballs
  7. Thicken the sauce with the cornstarch mixture to coat the meatballs thoroughly
  8. Adjust seasonings according to your liking. You can add more sugar/vinegar if it's not sweet/sour enough.


  • You can serve this with rice as well.

Well that's it for now I suppose. Do leave any comments/questions if anything is not clear. If you want any of the other recipes, just leave your email address with your comment and I will email it to you or maybe write up another post for it.

Have a great new year celebration. Happy New Year everyone!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010



Wish all of you a great year ahead filled with joy and happiness.

I had a blast on Christmas Day, had a great time hosting lunch at home for Christmas and my brother in law's 21st birtday celebration as well. Lots of food, laughter and joy.

Really thank God for a great family. Thank God for my immediate family, my husband and my in-laws. Love allllll of you to bits....

Thank you for a wonderful year, I'm sure more great things are coming in years to come.

Lots of recipes to come so stay tuned.
New posts coming up in the next few days once I get all the photos ready.
In the meantime, enjoy this holiday season, eat till your heart content and drive safe.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Leny's Favourite Things- Spicy Chorizo and Chickpea Pasta

I was watching Oprah the other day. It was the episode on " Oprah's Favourite Things ".

It was amazing to see the gifts she gave to the audience. I wish I was one of them.
I have to admit that I really like Oprah. I think she's real, generous and has such a heart to give to others.

So when it comes to MY Favourite things, I have heapssss......
Im greedy....=)....I won't go into all the details.

But I'm going to share one of my favourite pasta dish with you today.

This dish can be included as one my favourite meal. As I am currently away from home working at Ballarat, I'm only cooking for myself. So I often cook those one pot meals that are quick , easy and yummylicious. This is one of them.

The combination of spicy chorizo and the tomato sauce is just perfect for me.

So what's YOUR favourite pasta dish?

Spicy Chorizo and Chickpea pasta
Serves 2

  • 125grams spaghetti
  • 1/4 onion
  • 2 bird's eye chillies
  • 1 Chorizo
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook spaghetti to al dente

2. Chop onion and bird's eye chillies finely

3. Slice Chorizo to 1/2cm thickness

4. Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in frying pan

5. Once the oil is hot enough, add chorizo and brown on both sides

6. Once chorizo is ready, add in chopped onions and chillies. Fry until onion is soft

7. Add in tomato paste and canned tomatoes

8. Fry until the sauce is slightly thickened

9. Add in chickpeas and green peas

10. Cook until peas are soft

11. Season with salt, pepper and sugar to your liking

12. Drain spaghetti and add into the sauce. Mix lightly.

  • I added a bit of salad leaves in as well for extra fiber.

Christmas is here

Christmas is one week away. I am so excited!!!!

I love Christmas, it's my favourite season of the year. Just the atmosphere of giving, joy and family coming together for a meal and enjoy each other's company. The day when we rejoice and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

I love Christmas and all its trimmings. From Christmas tree, to Christmas Pudding. From the shopping to gifts giving. From cooking to enjoying a wonderful meal with my family. I love them all. Although I probably won't be enjoying that extra kg around my hip very much. "sob"

What does Christmas mean to you? To me, it's the day I celebrate my Saviour, Jesus Christ's birth. To be reminded again of His love to me.

To me, Christmas means family and cherishing the people around me.

And of course, Christmas means lots of cooking, baking and eating. I better go to that extra rpm session at my gym next week.

This year I thought of doing something different for Christmas. I made some homemade shortbread cookies and gave it in pretty little boxes to my friends. I got this idea from Donna Hay Donna Hay Magazine.

So here's the recipe. I made half original and half green tea shortbread. It's really yummy. And such a pretty and meaningful gifts for your friends and loved ones.

This recipe is a courtesy of my hubby's customer. Thank you Sir, love the shortbread.

Shortbread recipe

  • 225 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 225 grams all purpose flour
  • 115 grams rice flour
  • 115 gram caster sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • Green tea powder ( optional)

1. Preheat oven to 130 degrees celcius

2. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy

3. Shift together the dry ingredients ( all purpose flour, rice flour,salt and green tea powder if you are making green tea shortbread)

4. Once mixture 1 is ready, fold in all the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until the mixture comes together. It's ready when the mixture starts to pull away from the bowl.

5. Put the mixture on floured surface and knead lightly.

6. Form into a disc and lightly roll it with rolling pin to 1 inch thick.

7. Cut into desired shapes. For me I like rectangular shape so that was what I did.

8. Prick the surface of the shortbread with fork.

9. Bake in oven for 45 minutes.


- You can also add any ingredients you like. Lemon zest if you want to make lemon shortbread, etc. Some suggestions: Chocolate chips, espresso, pistachio, just need to be creative. =)

- If you're wondering why the oven temperature is so low, honestly I was surprised myself initially when I was given this recipe. But it works wonderfully. The shortbread came out perfect! light and crumbly. Just the way I like it.

- Besides putting them in a box, you can also buy a glass container. Wrap ribbon around the top and it will make a reallllyy pretty gift too.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sundried Tomato and Cheese Scone

My first post for this blog. Wow, how do I start? Why do I want to start a blog?
Mainly because I was inspired by my sister from mydatewithfood. Please visit her blog too if you have time, it's filled with warm home-cooked meals and great Sydney restaurant reviews.

Besides that Im actually a food addict. I can't stop thinking about food. It's crazy I know. I should be thinking more about work or family or even exercise ( mmmmm not really) than food. But oh well, I just love food. I love making them, I love looking at them ( esp the ones from donna hay magazine, don't they just look so pweeetyyyy??), I love eating them. My love of food probably comes from my family too. My mom loves to cook, my sister and brother love to cook, my father loves to eat, my mom in law loves to cook , well you get my point now I guess, and of course my husband loves to eat too. I would love to think he loves to eat the food I cook.

Hm, how do I start with my first post. I made these scones last weekend because I am currently completely addicted and in love with a cafe that sells great scones near my workplace. They made wonderful sundried tomato and cheese, date and walnut, cheese and chives scones. Not to forget their wonderful berry and plum muffins too. This cafe is called cornucopia, don't ask me what it means because I have nooooo idea what it means too. But it's run by two lovely owners who bake their own muffins and scones every morning. I always stop by in the morning to get my morning skinny latte with 1.5 sugar ( quite particular ha? could've just put 1 or 2 sugars, but it just has to be 1.5 for me ehehehe). And we'll always drop by for morning tea to get our second dose of caffeine with some fresh muffin and scone.

I used the basic scone recipe from masterchef. Surprisingly Gary's scones don't have butter in it. But it's pretty simple to make. The key is really not to overmix the dough or else you'll get stones not scones. It's really quick to make. I made these at 6.45am and get fresh scones by 7.30am.
So here we go. ( PS: please pardon the photos. I have to get the USB cable for my camera, so I have to use my phone in the mean time).

Sundried Tomato and Cheddar Cheese Scone
  • 150mls milk ( full cream is best, but I use skinny)
  • 150mls cream
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups self raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes ( chopped)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dill or any herbs you like ( optional )

Makes 12
1. Preheat oven 200°C fan forced. Line large flat oven tray with baking paper.
2. Whisk 150ml milk, cream and egg together until well combined. Combine flour, salt, sundried tomatoes, dill and cheese in a large bowl. Add milk mixture and stir gently to a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until dough comes together.
3. Press dough out to 2cm-thick. Cut scones from dough and place onto tray flat-side up. Press dough together gently and repeat using the remaining dough. Brush the tops with milk. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden and well risen. Serve hot with salted butter.


  • Most important not to overmix the dough. Just work with it gently.
  • You can also cut the dough to 8 triangles. It actually looks quite nice that way too.
  • If you don't have self raising flour, you can use plain flour but you will need to add baking powder to it.