Tag Archives: Easy

Buttermilk Chicken, Polenta Crumbed Okra with House Made Tartare Sauce

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

I have talked about “Dude Food” several times, I just have a huge fascination with it.  To me, it’s about comfort.  I love cooking and eating food that’s tasty, easy to eat and easy to recognize.

More and more people are looking for food that is “easy”.  I feel that these days, no one seems to have the patience or time for “uppity” type food in stiff restaurants.  People are looking for a place that’s comfortable, light, fun and accessible to most people.  Atmosphere plays a huge role, served by people who are knowledgeable but approachable, relaxed and easy going.  The food has got to be easy but packed full of flavour.  People have got to know it because they don’t have the patience of a long winded explanation of what they’re about to eat, they just need to be enticed quickly by recognizing it quickly on the menu or by orders being walked to tables by waiters.  Fancy food is out people, mark my words and it is also why I believe food trucks in Australia much like the food trucks in America will do so well, why you say, well for many different reasons.  The trucks are so accessible to many people, they’re cheap, fresh and they produce really tasty meals and these days, what else does one need?

There are many recipes here, from the spice mix, the okra, the chicken and tartare sauce.  Try them separately in other dishes, for example, try the spice mix with fish or baked potatoes or even on rice, paella style.  With the buttermilk chicken, try it with thin strips of beef or even fish using the same methods, it works out really well.

Buttermilk Chicken, Polenta Crumbed Okra with House Made Tartare Sauce

Serves 8

For the Cajun Mix

¼ Cup Salt

2 Tbspn Ceyenne Pepper

2 Tbspn paprika

1 Tbspn Onion Powder

1 tbspn Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Tbspn Freshly Ground White Pepper

1 Tbspn Garlic Powder

2 Tsp Dried Basil

1 Tsp Chilli Powder

¼ Tspn Dried Thyme

¼ Tspn Ground Mustard

1/8 Tspn Ground Cloves

For the Buttermilk Chicken

1kg chicken Wings

500ml Buttermilk

250gr Plain Flour

2litres Vegetable Oil


For the Okra

1kg Okra

200gr Plain Flour

6 Eggs

200mls Milk

200gr Plain Flour

200gr Polenta

2 litres Vegetable Oil – for frying

For the Tartare Sauce

2 Eggs

1Tspn Dijon Mustard

¼ Cup White Vinegar

600ml Vegetable Oil

1 Lemon – juiced

1tblsp Worcestershire Sauce

100gr Cornichuns – finely chopped

80gr Capers – finely chopped

I Brown Onion – roasted in skins until soft then peeled, finely chopped

5 Cloves garlic – roasted in alfoil until slightly brown and soft, finely chopped

1 Bunch Parsley – finely chopped


For the Cajun Mix

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly

For the Buttermilk Chicken

  1. Mix 2/3 of the Cajun spice mix together with the buttermilk
  2. Place the chicken wings into the buttermilk mixture and marinate for at least 30 minutes, over night is better
  3. Once marinated, strain excess buttermilk and dust with flour
  4. Heat the oil to 180 degrees Celsius using a thermometer
  5. Deep fry the wings until golden brown and cooked through, test by cutting one open
  6. Once cooked, toss in a bowl seasoning with remaining Cajun mix

For the Okra

  1. Whisk the egg and milk to together
  2. Create a crumbing station by placing the egg and milk in one bowl – whisked together, flour in another then polenta in a another bowl.
  3. First, place the okra in the flour, roll around until well covered, dust excess
  4. Then place flour dusted okra into the egg and milk mixture, making sure it is well covered, shake off excess
  5. Finally, roll the okra in the polenta until well covered
  6. Using a thermometer, heat up the oil to 180 degrees Celsius in a large, deep sided pot
  7. Fry the okra until golden brown, strain using a slotted spoon and place onto kitchen paper to absorb excess oil

For the Tartare

  1. Place the eggs, mustard and vinegar in a food processor and turn on high for one minute
  2. Add about ¼ cup of the vegetable oil in the food processor and process on high for about 30 seconds until it is emulsified into the egg mixture
  3. Slowly “stream” the rest of the oil into the egg mixture until all the oil is emulsified into the egg
  4. It should now form a thick mayonnaise, if not add extra oil.  Thickness will depend on size of eggs etc
  5. Add the lemon juice and Worcestishire until completely mixed
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients whilst still on high
Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang


Chili Con Carne Mac and Cheese

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

One of my dreams is to one day own a mac and cheese food truck!

You can just about make any flavour and then toss it through macaroni and bake it.  Imagine all the things you like, then mix it in with macaroni.  For example, I love chili and chili con carne, mix it in with macaroni, put cheese on top and and bake it in the oven and you have chili mac and cheese.  You can also have it cold like a salad like they do in the Philippines.  There they have a salad with macaroni, its usually with pineapple, ham, palm seeds, cheddar cheese and coconut dressed with mayonnaise or sour cream, sounds weird but bloody tasty stuff.

Flavours are endless really, vego’s can have Napolitana sauce and cheese or use three types of cheeses and mix it with some mustard and a little cream and bake it with some nice cheddar on top.  My favourite flavour that I’ve come up with is roasted, crispy pork belly all chopped up and tossed in a dry pan to crispen up a little more, finish it some strips smokey roasted capsicums (peppers for non Aussies), roasted red onions and chipotle sauce, toss through macaroni and bake in the oven with some stinky cheese like an Epoisses or Taleggio.  Decadence with all the good things in one plate!  Served with crushed avocado on top and sour cream and boy, you’ve got a dish no one will turn their backs on.

Try this out for starters and see what the fuss is all about.  I am using the chili recipe from the a previous blog to make things a little easier or if you make that chili recipe and wonder what you can do with any left overs.

If you cook up a braise dish like osso bucco or lamb shank or even a curry, try cutting the meaty bits down a little more and toss it through macaroni, add cheese that closely fits its flavour profile on top and bake it and who knows, maybe you can come up with your original mac and cheese!

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 8


700gr Raw Macaroni

100gr Salt

500gr Alexandrina Cheddar Cheese – grated

1 Recipe of Chili Con Carne Recipe – previous articles



For the Macaroni

  1. Place ten litres of water to boil with the salt
  2. Once boiling, add the macaroni and cook until al dente.  This is when you bite into a pasta, it has some resistance to the teeth but no crunch
  3. Staring in a colander and run cold water through, set aside until needed


To Finish:

  1. Pre Heat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Using a large pot, place the chili con carne sauce and heat up until simmering
  3. Add the blanched pasta and stir through for about 5 minutes
  4. Place into a baking dish
  5. Sprinkle the cheese on top until “all” the surface area is covered, this will inhibit the pasta from getting dry
  6. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven or until the cheese is golden brown
Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

Chili Con Carne, Tortilla, Salsa, Guacamole

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

One of my favourite things to eat is chili!

I have grown up eating chili since I can remember.  As a kid, I remember eating our meals around a huge table which my grandmother would cook for.  I had aunts, uncles, cousins and sisters around that table, including my grandmother, who would share a chair with me.  As I ate, I remember the many condiments that accompanied every meal.  These included things like, finely chopped garlic and crushed white pepper in cane vinegar, fish sauce and chopped chili and garlic in a mixture of soy and cane vinegar all in little separate dishes for every one to share.  Amongst that were little, bright, shiny red chilies left whole.  These were for the “game” people, the slightly more chili crazy members of the family.  They would take one of these deadly, birdseye chillies and place it on the side of their plates.  They would break off a tiny bit of this deadly hot chili and add to their next mouthful of food.  I always cringed at the pain they put themselves through as they breathed in through their tightly gritted teeth then puckering their lips as they suck in air to cool their lips.  It was a slightly amusing ritual, mouthful of food followed by chili followed by their attempts to cool their lips and then a sip of ice cold water then back to the start.  They would do this over and over again with sweat beading off their foreheads and as soon as the last mouthful of food is consumed, they rush off away from the table and walk around to try and cool down.

I began eating chili by eating slightly tamer chillies than the deadly birdseye chili.  I slowly climbed up the “chili” scale, attempting the hotter chillies as time went on and my palate got used to flavour and the heat.  Now, I can eat chili just like the aunts and aunties I once watched in amazement as a child.  I love chillies in just about everything like pastas.  Some red sauces in pastas just need that heat especially in alioli sauces.  Curries must have chillies, and some refreshing tropical Asian salads must have chillies in them like a Thai Larb or Vietnamese salad with Nuoc Nam dressing.

In the Philippines, chili is a huge part of our cuisine but more as a condiment.  Mixed generally in soy and cane vinegar along with chopped garlic.  In dishes like sinigang, chillies are sometimes added half way through their cooking to impart flavours and once cooked the chillies suck in the flavours of the broth and become plump and flavoursome themselves.  The chillies are then fished out and added to fish sauce where the chillies are crushed and then used as a condiment for sinigang.  Usually we would add a few to stat with because it is a prized surprise for most Filipinos!

I love this recipe because you can control the amount of heat.  I love to use as many different chillies as I possibly can, the hotter the better.  The secret here is to make sure you saute the vegetables off well to get the natural sugars to come out.  Secondly, seal the meat “hard” on a really hot pan and thirdly, cook the chili for as long as you can, adding water to the pot if it gets too dry.  The longer you cook it the better.  And no secrets here when I say it, but make it two or three days in advance.  The longer you allow it to sit, the better the flavours get, allowing it time to develope just like you do with curries, casseroles and other braised dishes.

Enjoy this recipe and in following recipes, I will show you how to use the chili in other ways!

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

Chili Con Carne, Tortilla, Salsa, Guacamole

Serves 8

For the Con Carne

2kg Lean Beef Mince

100ml Vegetable Oil

2 Brown Onions – finely diced

1 bulb Garlic – finely chopped

5 Large Red Chillies – finely sliced

3 tblsp Ground Cumin

4 tblsp Chili Flakes

2 tblsp Chili Powder

1 tblsp Smoked Paprika

2x140gr Tomato Puree

2x800gr Tin Chopped Tomatoes

Sea Salt – to taste

Ground White Pepper – to taste

For the Salsa

4 Large Ripe Tomatoes – diced 1cm cubes

½ Red Onion – peeled & diced ½ cm cubed

1 Bunch Coriander – finely chopped

2 tblsp EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

Sea Salt – to taste

Ground White Pepper – to taste


4 Avocados – peeled, slightly mashed with a fork

½ Red Onion – peeled & diced ½ cm cubed

1 Lemon – juiced

1 tsp Tabasco Sauce

Sea Salt – to taste

Ground White Pepper – to taste


For the Tortilla

16 Tortilla Wrappers

1 Cup Grated Cheddar

½ Iceberg Lettuce – finely sliced

1 Cup Sour Cream


For the Con Carne

  1. Heat up a large pot on high heat for one minute, then add a third of the vegetable oil
  2. Place half the minced meat into the pot, seal and lightly brown the meat, set aside.  Repeat with the remaining meat
  3. Heat the pot once again on high for thrity seconds and add the remaining vegetable oil
  4. Add the onions and sauté, continuously stirring for one minute then add garlic and sauté for another minute
  5. Add the chopped fresh red chillies and sauté for another minute
  6. Add the cumin and stir through then chilli flakes, chili powder and smoked paprika and stir through
  7. Add the tomato paste and cook whilst stirring for another minute, cook out the puree
  8. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil then once at simmer, add the sealed meat and stir through
  9. Cook for one hour on really low, making sure to stir it every 5 minutes or so

10. Season to taste

For the Salsa

  1. Place tomatoes, red onions and coriander in a bowl and mix thoroughly
  2. Add EVOO and season to taste



  1. Place the avocados, lemon juice and red onion a bowl and mix through
  2. Season to taste then add the Tabasco sauce

For the Tortilla

  1. Toast the tortilla on a dry pan.  If you are doing large batches, toast then place it on plate then cover it with a towel moistened with warm towel
  2. Place con carne on the tortilla, cheese, salsa, lettuce and sour cream

Make cooking easy but tasty.  Use this recipe and I’ll show you what you can do with the let overs in the coming editions.

Photo by Jn Pang

Photo by Jn Pang

Grilled Corn with Roasted Garlic Aioli & Parmesan

It never ceases to amaze me that the simplest thing is often the most enjoyed by many people.  I guess I have had my head in the clouds for far too long, thinking that top end food is the key to success in this field but I am constantly reminded that people just want “good food”.

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of cooking for Eat.Drink.Blog conference.  I nervously cooked for seventy odd bloggers.

When I was approached to cook for this event, I didn’t really think about the bloggers, I was more thinking about having fun with the food, cooking the food I enjoy cooking and more importantly, cooking the food I enjoy eating!  My mind raced away with so many ideas but in the end I was hooked on a South American fiesta.  I have never been to South America and it is a wish of mine to one day do a food safari there but I have tasted so many flavours from that part of the world.  I have been taught by people from these countries how to cook these things authentically and only stayed within the “flavour” realms I know and was comfortable in.  But I had a vision – fairy lights on the pool deck, an outdoor fiesta away from the stiffness of a restaurant, open to the elements, with shared platters of Latin American flavours, lamb on the spit, meat off the grills and the theatre of it all being done right in front your eyes!  I imagined the smells, the noise and all of it being played out in front of guests mingling and enjoying the atmosphere and I  was instantly excited at the idea of cooking this “fun” meal.  I thought about me, I thought about how much fun I was going to have, to be free to cook, until that night  when I had to actually cook!  I was so stressed out.  It dawned on me that I was cooking for people who “write” about food and have probably been to millions of these things and upon realising this, the pressure was on!

So many things went through my head, what if they don’t like it, what if I don’t say the right thing, what if I mucked it up and so on and so on!  I have cooked for presidents, princes, movie stars and rock stars and never have I been more nervous.  In my mind, it was like having seventy food reviewers about to review my restaurant but instead of waiting for that review in weeks time to be published, it would be written about and  published with every bite they take, horrible thought for a chef!  WORST NIGHTMARE!  But alas, the night was actually fun.  People enjoyed them selves and more importantly the food.  I met passionate foodies with so many stories to share and for an amateur blogger like me, I was keen to find out more about their expertise, I could only wish that perhaps next time I will be a guest at this function (that was a hint by the way).

This is the a recipe of the grilled corn served that night.  As mentioned, it is easy but very tasty.  I hope you enjoy it as much as the bloggers did!

Grilled Corn with Roasted Garlic Aioli and Parmesan

Serves 10

Grilled Corn

20 Corn on the Cob                   steamed for 15minutes husk on

For the Aioli

2 Whole Eggs

2 Egg Yolks

1 tbspn Dijon Mustard

¼ Cup White Vinegar

500ml Vegetable oil

¼ Cup Garlic Cloves                peeled

3 Limes                                       juiced

Sea Salt

White Pepper

To Finish

200gr Parmesan Cheese

1 Bunch Coriander                  finely chopped

6 Limes                                     cut into cheeks or wedges


For the corn

  1. Once you have steamed the corn, pull the husks back and tie them back using raffia, clean off the corn “hairs”
  2. Grill on the char grill until evenly darkened, slightly black.  Try not to grill the husks and make sure the husks are always wet, so it doesn’t burn
  3. Once grilled, place on a platter ready for the aioli

For the Aioli

  1. Pre Heat oven at 180 degrees Celsius for the garlic
  2. Meanwhile, place the eggs, egg yolks, mustard and vinegar into a mixer and blend on high for about 30-45 seconds
  3. Slowly add or “stream” the oil into the mixer whilst it is still on high speed.  Add about 50ml then allow it to blend for another 30-45 seconds with out adding any more in
  4. Once the added oil is fully emulsified, add the rest by slowly “streaming” it in.  Adjust more or less oil depending on the thickness of the end product (some eggs are bigger, fresher etc which will change the amount of oil needed) then turn it off in readiness for the garlic
  5. Heat up an oven proof pan for 1 minute on high
  6. Add a little oil and brown the garlic evenly on all sides
  7. Place into the oven and roast until almost black
  8. Cool then puree in mortar and pestle
  9. Add the garlic to the mayonnaise then blend until evenly mixed through
  10. Finish by adding freshly squeezed limes and check seasoning
  11. Place the aioli in a squeezie bottle

To Finish

  1. Squeeze the aioli over the corn relatively high up to form thin a strip and zig zag all over the corn until well covered
  2. Micro-plane the parmesan into whispy thin shavings all over the corn until completely covered
  3. Sprinkle the chopped coriander on top of that
  4. Serve with lime cheeks or wedges

Attitude Magazine – Crumbed Lamb Recipe

Rice Pudding

Photo by Jun Pang

Growing up, my grandma, Lola Luz, made rice pudding on very special mornings.  They were a little different though!

Lola used to make a Filipino chocolate rice called champorado.  A thick, glutenous rice pudding made with sticky rice and chocolate  with condensed milk swirled on top.  I remember those days like it was yesterday, a moment in time that I will always cherish.  I have never had champorado since Lola passed away and I really look forward to once again reliving those food memories.
The Asians are fans of the rice pudding.  It comes in many different versions.  Some use short grain rice, others glutenous rice and some even use the red or black sticky rice.  The flavours are much the same though, rich, thick and sweet using the flavours of pandan in most occasions then lavishly garnished with tropical fruit.

In Europe, I learned how to cook rice pudding using short grain rice.  Cooked with milk and cream and flavoured with vanilla then sugared and caramelized much like a brulee.  We usually baked it in the oven until warm served it with raspberry sorbet, unbelievable flavours and I loved the contrast of hot and cold on the same plate.

This recipe is a mixture of all the things I have learned.  I wrote this recipe for a children’s cooking class and it was great to see how many kids love rice pudding.  I love creating memories especially with food involved because when they taste them again in the future, they will always remember where, when and with whom they were with when they first learned of these flavours.

Rice Pudding

3 ½ Cups Milk
2 Cups Coconut Milk
1 Pandan Leaf
1 Tspn Vanilla Essence
¼ Cup Maple Syrup
½ Cup Arborio Rice
½ Cup Sugar
1 Cinnamon Stick
4 Cups Water
200gr Longan (or any fruit you want)
200gr Raspberries (or any berry you want)
5 Mint Leaves

For the Pudding
Place the milk, coconut milk, pandan leaf, vanilla essence and maple syrup on a sauce pan and simmer for tens minutes
Add the Arborio rice and cook on low heat for 18 minutes, stirring continuously
Test the doneness by tasting the rice,  You want it soft in texture.
When it is done, allow it to sit and cool
For the Syrup
Place the sugar, cinnamon and water in a separate sauce pan and turn on medium heat
Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the flavours to develope, then allow to cool
Place the fruit in the syrup and allow to sit for at least 1 hour (overnight is preferred)
To Finish
Spoon the rice pudding into a glass tumbler, almost filling it to the top
Spoon some of the marinated fruits on top along with the syrup and garnish with mint leaves

Photo by Jun Pang

Tomato & Pork Neck Chop with Olives, Capsicum & Speck served with White Polenta

Photo by Jun Pang

Nothing fancy here but it’s open for fancy stuff.  Chuck some smoked paprika into the braise to add little more flavour or saute some chorizo sausage in before you add the liquids, it lifts the dish to another level.  The polenta can also be added to like a little truffle oil at the end or saute mixed mushrooms in butter and fold it through just before serving and finish it off with a poached egg – bloody beautiful!

Most people ask me for quick recipes; simple but tasty.  They would rather know how to poach an egg than get too complicated with cooking.  The easier the better for most people.  No one has time these days and most would rather eat a meal that’s home cooked.  Simple dishes like these are often the best solution.

Tomato & Pork Neck Chop with Olives, Capsicum & Speck served with White Polenta

Serve 4

For the pork

4 Pork Neck Chops

200 gr Speck (or bacon) – sliced into thin strips

1 Onion – finely diced

6 Cloves Garlic – squashed with a back of a knife

2 Carrots – 2cm dice

1 Capsicum – deseeded and sliced 1cm thick strips

1 cup Kalamatta Olives

2 x 410gr tins of Tomatoes

500ml Chicken Stock

1 Fresh Bay Leaf

5 sprigs fresh Thyme

Sea Salt

Ground Black Pepper

Olive Oil


For the Polenta

1 Onion – finely Diced

½  Cup White Polenta

3 Cups Milk

100gr Butter

200 gr Parmesan Cheese

1 bunch Parsley – finely Chopped


For the Pork

  1. Put the oven on at 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Heat up an oven proof pot on high heat until the pan is almost at smoking point.
  3. Season the pork with salt and pepper.  Add a little oil and brown the pork in the hot pan on both sides then set aside.
  4. Add the speck to same pan and cook until slightly brown to flavour the pot
  5. Sauté the onions, garlic, carrots, capsicum and olives until soft until onions are soft
  6. Pour in the tomatoes and cook until it starts to break down or for about 8 minutes on medium high heat.
  7. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil then allow it to simmer for ten minutes
  8. Place thyme and bay leaf in the pot along with the browned pork.
  9. Cover and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes
  10. Check seasoning and serve.

For the Polenta.

  1. Heat a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add the butter and sauté the onions until soft.
  2. Pour the milk into the pot and bring to a simmer
  3. Slowly stream the polenta into the pot whilst whisking with the other hand, avoiding the lumps
  4. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir continuously for about ten minutes.  Add hot water from the kettle if consistency is too stiff.
  5. When the polenta is soft and creamy, grate the parmesan into the pot off the heat
  6. Just before serving, stir the chopped parsley through

Photo by Jun Pang