Tag Archives: Asian recipes

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Greetings food and book lovers, and welcome to another slurpalicious edition of Friday Feast. This week you again have the pleasure of my company, and I have a tasty and simple Asian inspired meal for you that you’ll love.

But as usual, let us endure the embarrassment that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. I thought it was happening, I really did. There were definite signs of improvement last weekend My new blue oveheart marked golf balland I was beginning to feel a glimmer of confidence. Then, because I somehow qualified for this year’s Women’s Golf Nepean Gold Brooch, on Wednesday I zoomed up the road to play the final at Leonay Golf Club. It started so well… Par, then bogey (not so good) then another par. Rah! I had form! Alas, it then descended into what at times could only be called utter humiliation. On a positive note, it was a gorgeous day and the other ladies were lovely and kind. If only Oh, Great Golfing God had been, but the bugger hates me. Must be the blue love hearts I’ve painted on my balls.

Time for a look at one of my books. This week: Rocking Horse Hill. This is the first in a loosely related rural romance series I’ve nicknamed the Levenham Love Stories. The Falls is already out, Summer and the Groomsman is in production (news on that soon), and I’m currently working on another full-length related novel with the working title Admella Beach. So Rocking Horse Hill is ground zero, so to speak.

Take a look…

ROCKING HORSE HILL

Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein coverWho do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

A moving family drama and passionate love story by the author of Heartland, Promises and Heart of the Valley.

Romance. A sexy hero and clever heroine, both with complex pasts. An eerie volcano. A meddling granny. Family drama. Donkeys! What more could you want? Buy Rocking Horse Hill right now from Booktopia, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play or your favourite book retailer.

And now for something slurpalicious.

My Leetle Dumpling…

I am a dumpling devotee, and proud of it.

I don’t mean European-type dumplings, made with flour and so on – although old-fashioned golden syrup dumplings are pretty tasty, and the occasional herb or cheesy dumpling-topped casserole can be a treat too. No, my dumpling love is for Asian-style dumplings. Little parcels of savoury goodness that can be anything from slippery to crunchy, and all textures in between.

They’re a sensation in flavour too, from interesting meat fillings to nourishing vegetables, even doughy delights on occasion. You can find them steamed, fried, boiled, or a combination. And they come in all shapes and sizes too, from crescents to buns to open-topped cups and prettily pleated balls.

With their flavours, aromas, texture and beauty, dumplings appeal across the senses. Plonk me in an Asian restaurant or noodle bar and my eyes will immediately go a-hunting for them. Any sort will do – potstickers, bao, buns, dimsum, wontons and more – there seem to be an endless array.

Sadly, you can’t eat out all the time. Well, you can, but that would mean no cooking and life without kitchen fun is too horrible to contemplate. And if, like me, you need your dumpling fix often, that means making them at home.

Fortunately, dumplings are dead easy.

No, don’t you look at me like that. They are! And I’m going to prove it with my recipe for dumpling soup.

I adore this soup. It’s simple and seriously tasty. Oh, and healthy. The soup itself is embarrassingly easy: stock, lemongrass, ginger, ketjap manis. The vegetable part is whatever you feel like.

It’s also versatile. These dumplings are made with prawn meat but I’ve made them with pork mince and chicken mince as well, to great success, varying the other ingredients to include spring onions, chilli, soy, whatever takes my fancy (leftovers of these versions are really tasty cold). Steamed spinach, soy and water chestnut is another fab combo.

Best of all, there should be enough dumplings remaining to serve with dipping sauce for extra indulgence!

I have no idea where the original recipe came from. I have a feeling it’s an amalgam of several, mashed around until I came up with a version that I liked most. All I know is that I’ve been making it for donkey’s and it’s foolproof. I make it for two as a main meal, but it can easily be divided to serve four. You just won’t have leftover dumplings.

So here it is. Enjoy!

Dumpling Soup

Cathryn's dumpling soup, ready to slurp

Ingredients

12 Australian green king prawns (approximately 12 prawns)

60g (approx) tinned water chestnuts, drained and roughly chopped

3 French shallots (eschallots – the small brown, oniony ones), peeled and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon cornflour

1 egg

½ teaspoon sesame oil

1 packet gow gee wrappers (30 wrappers). Wonton wrappers work fine too, you’ll just have triangles instead of crescents

1.5 litres of chicken stock. Vegetable stock works really well too

6 thick slices of fresh ginger

1 stem lemongrass, outer skin removed, the stem bashed about a bit to release flavour

1 tablespoon ketjap manis

Vegetables of your choosing. I tend to use variations of snow peas, spring onion, baby bok choy, choy sum, bean shoots and/or finely shredded cabbage. Whatever’s in the fridge crisper that requires very short or no cooking.

Method

Peel and devein your king prawns.

Australian green king prawns

Plonk the prawn meat, water chestnuts, shallots, sesame oil, egg and cornflour into a small blender and pulse. Don’t over process. It won’t matter if there’s a few chunky bits. In fact, they make the dumplings more interesting.

Chopped ingredients in processorNote: If you’re using pork or chicken mince, whiz the shallots and chestnuts (or whatever other flavours you’re using) until finely chopped, then add the other ingredients and pulse until just combined.

Lay out your gow gee wrappers on the bench. Have a pastry brush and a cup of water on standby.

Gow Gee wrappers laid out, ready for filling

Spoon about a teaspoon of prawn mix onto each wrapper.

Prawn filling on gow gee wrappers

Using the pastry brush, moisten the wrapper edges, then fold over and press firmly to seal. It doesn’t matter if some mix oozes out or there’s a few dodgy bits. These dumplings are very forgiving. Layer them on a plate and stick in the fridge until needed.

Filled dumplings

Pour the stock into a large saucepan. Add ginger, lemongrass and ketjap manis. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes or so. This stage can be done well in advance, if you need.

Saucepan of flavoured stock

Meanwhile, add your chopped veg to the bowls. Yes, they’re raw but when it’s poured over the hot stock will cook them to crunchy perfection.

Prepared soup bowls with the vegetables

When you’re ready to serve, bring the stock back to a good boil and lower in your dumplings, one by one. Because they’re cold, they’ll drop the temperature right down. Keep the heat high, stirring your dumplings gently, until the soup returns to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until all the dumplings are floating and look juicy and cooked.

Spoon however many dumplings you want for your soup into each bowl and pour over the stock.

Leave any leftover dumplings in the saucepan with a little stock so they don’t dry out or stick, lid on to keep them warm. Then, when you’ve finished your soup and if you have room in your belly, serve the dumplings on plates with a dipping sauce on the side. You can use straight soy, smears of chilli sauce, or I use this quick-to-make, tasty sauce. Simply mix together:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar

Thinly sliced birdseye chilli. How much and whether you leave the seeds in or not depends on how hot you like it.

Dumpling with dipping sauce

And there you have it: dead simple dumpling love. Told you it was easy!

*

All right, Feasty darlings, what do you love to order or cook whenever you eat Asian food? What delectable dish or ingredient can’t you go past?

Besides dumplings, I am passionate about thick fresh rice noodles. Oh, how I adore those slippery strands. I’ve been known to travel across town to pick up good fresh rice noodles, and buy in bulk. My other favourite ingredient is chilli soybean paste. So hot! So good! So perfect with rice noodles!

What about you? Do you go giggly over gyoza? Perhaps shiver in delight over sago pudding with palm sugar syrup? Even get a tad loony over laksa? Curious minds would love to know!

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, please feel free to explore this website. There are plenty of cool things to discover, especially on the blog, my about page and each book’s “the story behind” page. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.

For all the latest news and new releases, plus free short stories and other goodies, please sign up to my newsletter.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Joan Kilby

Okay, I know I say this every week but today I really am excited. Contemporary romance author and all round lovely person Joan Kilby is my Friday Feast guest today and WHAT a post she has for us. I’m squirming in my seat right now I’m so thrilled! Squirming and drooling and thinking that I’m so inspired I might have to sneak into the city for a session at that Asian gem Little Malaysia (faaaaab restaurant off Little Bourke Street in Melbourne).

Now, when Joan isn’t making me horribly jealous with her travels, she writes wonderfully emotional contemporary romances for Harlequin Super Romance and Carina Press. Twenty-two of them to date! Joan’s latest is a wonderful story titled Protecting Her Son and it’s been gaining some rave reviews like this from Bookish Jottings:

Sparkling with believable characters that jump off the page, wry humour, nail-biting intrigue and emotional romance, Protecting Her Son is a superb tale of old wounds, second chances and healing love from the outstanding pen of Joan Kilby. Julie Bonello, Bookish Jottings

Take a closer look…

PROTECTING HER SON

 

Crossing the thin blue line…

Paula Drummond is finally back on a police force. And with so much at stake–she’s a single mum atoning for an almost career-ending mistake–she’s not risking anything but stellar performance. That means, regardless of whatever attraction is brewing between her and her partner, Officer Riley Henning, she will not get involved.

Still, working side by side with a man as hot as Riley and not giving in to temptation isn’t easy. Especially when he goes above and beyond to help keep her son safe. With all that evidence piling up, it seems as though her partner on the job is destined to become her partner in bed…and maybe even in life.

 

Sounds like a brilliant read, doesn’t it? Protecting Her Son is available for purchase now direct from Harlequin, from Amazon and many other bookstores.

And now I pass you on to Joan. Enjoy!!

 

Travels With My Stomach

 

I love traveling in Asia, mainly, I have to admit, for the food. Penang, especially, is a foodie’s paradise with fabulous Malaysian, Chinese and Indian food and local specialities.

One of my favorite eateries is a Chinese vegetarian restaurant, Luk Yea Yan on Jalan Macalister. They do an amazing breakfast/lunch buffet with forty different vegetarian dishes and four types of rice. I’m not vegetarian but I love this food.

The day I took this photo we were early, before all of the dishes were out, but by nine o’clock every bain marie is full.

The veggies are super fresh. Every morning a small army of women can be seen out back through the open-sided building, cutting up bushels of produce.

And the tofu! In Melbourne, even in Asian suburbs like Springvale, we have a limited range of tofu but at this restaurant there must be about twenty different types of tofu and soy protein foods.

My favourite dish is a mock lemon chicken that has a crispy outside, a layered chewy-smooth interior in a light tangy lemon sauce. So delicious!

The food is not only delicious and healthy, it’s incredibly cheap. Mike’s heaping plate cost about $3.

For dinner we ate at the nearby Indian Nasi Kandar restaurant. The chicken tikka is tender and succulent, best I’ve ever had. They also make fresh roti, stretching the dough filo-thin on a big griddle and folding it into ghee-licious layers.

Mike’s favourite roti was murtabak, filled with chicken, onions and egg and eaten with a spicy sambar gravy.

My guilty pleasure was roti bom laced with condensed milk. If I closed my eyes I would have sworn I was eating a warm Danish pastry.

(I didn’t have my camera with me that day so the murtabak and roti bom photos are from the Internet.)

One day we took the funicular railway up Penang Hill and came across an Indian hawker selling this chickpea snack. He told me the ingredients but not the quantities.

I came up with the following recipe at home. You could vary the quantities to taste.

 

Penang Hill Chickpea Snack

400 gm tin chickpeas (about 1 1/3 cups)

1/2-1 cup Bombay mix (a spicy Indian snack mix available from supermarkets)

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

1/3 English cucumber, diced

Juice of half a lime

Heat the chickpeas in the microwave. Mix well with the other ingredients, adding the Bombay mix last so it stays crunchy longer. Enjoy as a snack or side dish. Eat it with a spoon or fork unless you don’t mind getting your fingers messy.

 

After Penang we headed to Bali. When we first went there many years ago the food was spicy and everything was fresh. Now that tourism has exploded the food has become westernized and bland even in the remote fishing village in Amed where we spent most of our time. (Amed features in my Superromance, To Be A Family, out later in 2012.)

We did find a fab little restaurant in Sanur called The Coconut Tree. Their nasi goreng, made with organic vegetables, was probably the best we’ve had anywhere.

Our favorite dessert in Bali were the banana wraps at our small hotel. They’re probably not authentic Indonesian food but they’re really yummy and very simple to make. One day I watched the girls prepare them so I could replicate the dish at home.

 

Banana Wraps with Coconut and Melted Palm Sugar

-Thin pancakes*

-Sugar bananas (regular bananas will do but they need to be ripe and sweet)

-butter to fry in

-fresh coconut, grated**

-melted palm sugar (maple syrup is great, too)

Make the pancake and keep it warm. Slice a banana in half lengthways and fry in butter till hot and lightly caramelized. Put the halves of the banana back together and roll up in the pancake. Chop the pancake into chunky pieces and arrange in a log or in a circle. Sprinkle over a generous helping of grated fresh coconut and drizzle with melted palm sugar or pure maple syrup.

*the pancake should be about 3 millimetres thick. I found a crepe batter was too thin so I used an American pancake recipe and thinned it down with skim milk.

**grating the coconut by hand gives the most aesthetically pleasing result but is time-consuming. When I have dinner guests I hand grate it. When it’s just for the family I blitz it in the food processer. Tastes the same, just doesn’t look as nice.

 

On an earlier trip to Cambodia we saw women making palm sugar by the side of the road. They tap the sugar palm much like a maple tree and boil up the sap over open fires until it crystalizes. The palm sugar is completely different and much nicer than that which we buy in shops here. It actually tastes a lot like maple sugar.

While in Siem Riep we loved the Cambodian barbecue–paper thin beef grilled on a charcoal-filled cone and surrounded by stock in which we cooked the veggies. The yellow dipping sauce was absolutely delicious. I don’t know what was in it and I’ve never been able to find a recipe. Does anyone have any ideas?

 

I’d love to hear about favourite dishes you’ve encountered on your travels–wherever that may be. Did you try to make it later at home, and was it successful?

I’m giving away a copy of my latest Superromance, PROTECTING HER SON to one lucky commenter. The book was a March 2012 North American release and will be out in August 2012 in Australia and New Zealand.

 

Thank you so, so much, Joan, for your amazing post. The photos and descriptions are gorgeous. I have severely itchy feet right now, but it looks like I might just have to satisfy my foodie wanderlust with some banana wraps. Far out, that looks gooooood! And don’t get me started on murtabaks…

Now, my drooly feasty lovelies, you heard Joan. We have a wonderful, wonderful book up for grabs. All you have to do is share a favourite dish from your travels and any success (or failure) you had in recreating it. I have one – the goat’s cheese tart taught to me by a lovely lady in Provence. The version I make here is okay, but doesn’t compare to the one made at Tessa’s cooking school. It’s the goat’s cheese. She used this amazingly wrinkly smelly one that gave the tart fantastic piquancy that I can’t seem to recreate. Sigh. Will just have to go back…

Giveaway open internationally (rah!). But you need to be quick because it closes midnight Tuesday, 19th June 2012 AEST.

If you’d like to learn more about Joan and her books please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.