Sunday, August 30, 2015

Grateful For Sundays 12

Early Cheer gets me excited because it signals the beginning of spring. These flowers have a beautiful perfume and brings a freshness to the house. I'm already starting to forget what winter feels like...

The arrival of spring also means lighter evenings and, therefore, more time to spend outside. Below is a picture of some family friends we took to the epic local playground.

Lastly, I have finally started getting my things together for a big trip to China! I am particularly excited about this trip because it will be the first time I've visited in the summer. 

What are you grateful for this month?

Note: Quite a few websites are blocked in China so there probably won't be any blog updates while I'm gone. Follow my instagram to see the amazing places we will visit. See you all mid-October!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Leftover Roast Frittata

My biggest dislike in the kitchen is throwing out spoiled food. Thinking up easy ways of using up leftovers has therefore become a bit of a hobby of mine. My only rule with repurposing leftovers is that it must not require many new ingredients or else you end up with MORE leftovers. 

We almost always have flour, noodles and stock in the kitchen so many of our left over dishes end up in fried noodles, mixed soups and pizza 

A lot of these dishes can be a bit heavy and I found myself wanting to repurpose the leftovers from the previous nights' roast into something light for brunch. We had just received a carton of eggs from our uncle's chickens so a frittata seemed like a natural choice.

Following the golden rule, the only extra ingredients this required was 4 eggs, some oil and some thyme. You can also use the time the frittata is baking in the oven to make some cool smoothies or a nice cup of tea.

What do you make with your leftovers?

Happy brunching!

Leftover Roast Frittata (Serves 4)


2 tsp oil 
2 cups roast vegetables, cut into 2cm-5cm chunks
4 eggs, beaten
1 sprig thyme


1. Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F).
2. Heat oil in an ovenproof pan on medium heat.
3. Spread roast vegetables evenly in the pan and stir around for 2 minutes until they have crisped up a little.
4. Pour the beaten eggs into the pan and let it sit for about 2 minutes.
5. Sprinkle thyme over the top and place the pan in the oven for 10 minutes or until the egg has puffed up and is no longer runny.
6. Serve.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Hakka Hut

There's something very familiar about going to a Chinese restaurant. No matter what city you might be in, there is always a couple of dishes that are sure to be on the menu. For my family, we will usually order a fish scent eggplant casserole for me, round beans for Jason, sizzling beef for mum and prawn balls for dad. If we have a large group, there will mostly always be Peking Duck.

This kind of ordering can get quite bland sometime so I always find it quite a treat when we dine out with other families and let them do the ordering. We were invited to Hakka Hut by my Uncle's family (it's one of their favourite restaurants) and got to sit back and enjoy someone else's favourite dishes.

We arrived quite early on a Saturday night and I'm told we booked quite a few days in advance. It turns out that it was quite a good move as the restaurant filled up incredibly quickly. The tables were very close to each other and there was barely enough room for the poor servers to squeeze between everyone's chairs. 

Inside was noisy - proper Chinese restaurant noisy - the kind of noisy where you don't have to embarrassingly tell your parents to tone their voice down because it might disrupt the other diners. This was especially good because my grandma and her sister haven't really mastered "inside voices" yet...

Peking Duck, First Course - $55.00 for two courses
We started off with the Peking Duck, of course, and it went down a treat. The pancakes were extremely fluffy but I thought that the serving size was a little stingy compared to other restaurants. 

Peking Duck, Second Course
The filling for the second course was a more generous size. The filling included "xue cai" (a preserved vegetable, literally translated to "snow vegetable") which gave it an earthy flavour.

Sweet and Sour Pork - $20.00
Sweet and Sour Pork is not something I usually order when going out because my parents dub it a "white people dish". This, however, was incredibly crunchy while the sweet and sour sauce was not too strong, as can be the case with other restaurants.

Steamed Blue Cod - Seasonal Price
It was a little hard for me to take a photo of the blue cod as some hungry diners had already started spinning it away from me. The fish was perfectly cooked and the soy sauce had a slight sweetness to it.

Round Beans with Minced Pork - $20.00
The round beans flavoursome and tender. I liked the texture of the pork mince and that the beans weren't overpowered with black bean sauce. It was delicious but I was a bit disappointed with the portion size.

Steamed Prawns with Garlic - $28.00
The garlic steamed prawns were incredibly fragrant and I appreciated that they were already peeled. The bed of vermicelli underneath was a great way of soaking up all the juices too.

Homemade Tofu - $20.00
The homemade tofu is similar to the deep fried tofu we order at many other restaurants. The crispy outer,  with the creamy eggy centre, provided the perfect texture contrast.

Taro and Pumpkin Casserole - $28.00
The Taro and Pumpkin Casserole is a recommended dish on the Hakka Hut menu. The floury texture of the taro and pumpkin complimented one another, but the savoury taro tasted strange against the sweet pumpkin. I must admit, my taste buds were confused. My mother enjoyed the contrasting flavours though.

Beef with Seasonal Vegetables - $20.00
The stir fried beef was one of my favourites of the night. Each piece of beef was tender and covered in a light garlicky sauce. The gailan, although thick, was well cooked and crunchy. 

Fried Noodles with Soya Sauce - $12.00
Lastly, we ordered some noodles for my little cousin who likes plain food. For a dish that is flavoured only with soya sauce and some onions, I found the noodles to be quite tasty. The noodles were especially good at soaking up the yummy sauces from the other dishes.

Having other people order my meal is quite a treat. It was nice to try out others' favourite dishes and knowing that we share some favourites. The food at Hakka Hut was delicious, although I found the portion sizes small for the price.

Hakka Hut is found at Unit 21, 44 William Pickering Drive, Albany, Auckland.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken With Roast Vegetables

For the home cook, the best recipes must not only be tasty -they must also be simple and repeatable. These kinds of recipes are the ones that make it onto my dinner repertoire time and time again. Of these, Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken is my favourite -it is perfect for a small group of friends or a simple dinner for two with leftovers.

Contrary to many roast chicken recipes out there, a juicy chicken does not require butter, oil or running back and forth from the oven to baste. It also has the most delicious crispy skin! Thomas Keller's recipe calls for only 3 ingredients - salt, pepper, and a chicken. I also like to add a bit of lemon on the inside.

Salt, pepper, and a chicken. Optional extra: Lemon
The only equipment you need is a roasting pan and some kitchen twine to truss the bird. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly. The chicken must also be dry before going into the oven.

After this, you can just walk away and come back when your kitchen starts smelling wonderful.. 

Carrots, Potatoes, Parsnips, Beetroot, Garlic and Thyme
Or, to create a complete meal, you could chop up some vegetables to accompany the chicken. I put these in halfway through cooking the chicken so they are done at the same time. The veggies also help to create a little bit of moisture as I've found that the oven tends to smoke if the chicken is cooked by itself.

After that, I reduce the juices that have formed in the bottom of the tray to make a simple jus for the dish. 

This recipe is head and shoulders above any roast chicken recipe I have ever used. It is easy to make, easy to remember and oh so delicious! I dare you to find something simpler!

Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken With Roast Vegetables
(Serves 4 - 6)

Roast Chicken Ingredients:

1 whole chicken (about 1 to 1.4 kg)

Roast Vegetable Ingredients:

1 kg assorted root vegetables (see third photo for what I used)
1.5 Tbs olive oil 


1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F).
2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels -inside and out.
3. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan and truss the bird, tying the legs close to the body so it cooks evenly.
4. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the chicken (top and bottom).
5. Place the chicken in the oven and leave it alone for about 1 hour. 
6. Cut assorted vegetables into 2-3cm sized chunks and toss with olive oil (I like to oil beetroot separately so it doesn't stain the other veggies).
7. Place the vegetables in the oven when there is 30 minutes left to go.
8. Once 1 hour is up, test the temperature of the chicken with a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. It should reach 75°C (165°F).
9. Remove the chicken and the vegetables from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes before carving. 
10. While you're waiting, pour all the pan juices into a small saucepan and simmer for about 7-10 minutes or until the juices have reduced a little.
11. Serve.


1. I don't rinse my chicken as it tends to splash raw chicken germs all over the sink area. Any dangerous germs will be killed if the meat reaches the correct temperature. Read more about it here.
2. A roasting rack isn't entirely necessary, but I find that the chicken cooks more evenly and there is no risk of the chicken sticking to the roasting pan.