There is a phrase used in our home when a dish truly kicks the posterior of our tastebuds: “I would pay good money for this!” And this dish, from a cookbook which is somewhat generic in appearance but which had enough interesting recipes for me to buy on the weekend, truly fits this criteria. The book this recipe is from was a cheapy, picked up at an A&R discount store, called The Wok Bible, and I’m looking forward to exploring other meals like this one from it. In this dish you have just-cooked pumpkin and onion, the perfection of thinly sliced eye fillet steak and a sauce whose inherent sweetness is cut through by the subtle bite of the chilli and ginger, the tantalizing warmth of the spices and the fresh zing of herbs only tossed through for a moment. It’s seriously filling – the only function of the rice or noodles you may choose to cook with it is to soak up that addictive sauce and you don’t need much. Remember that you’re using eye fillet here, so don’t overcook your meat – this is seriously good stuff and doesn’t need a lot of work in the wok for it to be fantastic! Continue Reading »


Grilled Piadina Recipe

This unleavened Italian flatbread is speedy and fun to make and can be filled with whatever ingredients you have on hand. The dough can be made quickly in the food processor and rests while you prepare your filling ingredients. I can highly recommend a filling of grilled chicken breast, basil pesto, semi sundried tomatoes and cheese, or a neapolitan-style filling of fresh mozzarella, slices of tomatoes and basil leaves. These are surprisingly filling; the dough recipe makes four piadinas which will feed 3 people comfortably. The recipe is from a book which has transformed my pizza-making life, Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas. Continue Reading »

My new measurement of a truly yummy recipe is one that is so good that I forget to take a photo of it until I’ve scoffed heaps of it and totally trashed the presentation! Dammit. You will just have to trust me that this is a delicious dish and also did look very nice initially with sesame seeds on top.  I’ve tried a few Japanese fried noodle recipes recently but this is the first one that has really hit the spot, that I would be happy to pay for. Yaki Soba is so quick and versatile as you can use any meat, veggies or noodles that you have on hand. The key to this noodle dish is the slurpable sauce, which I found on a BBC food site – you just put the sauce on to simmer while you chop the veggies and: ta da! Dinner!

Serves 2

50ml teriyaki sauce

2 tablespoons soy bean paste

1/2 tablespoon grated ginger

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 small carrot, peeled and julienned

1 small handful of beansprouts

4 spring onions, green part only, chopped into 4cm lengths

125gm pork fillet, very thinly sliced

250gm fresh ramen noodles, boiled for 3 minutes and drained

sesame oil, for drizzling

sesame seeds, for garnish

Mix together the teriyaki sauce, soy bean paste and ginger in a small saucepan. Heat til just boiling and then lower heat; simmer for 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables, meat and noodles.

Heat oil in wok over high heat. Add the onion and stir fry til softened and starting to brown; add the carrots, bean sprouts and spring onions and stir fry for a minute or until spring onion is starting to wilt. Scrape the veggies off to one side in the wok so you can add the pork to the bottom of the wok; pile the veggies back on top of the pork and leave to sit for 30 seconds.

Start stir frying vigorously until pork is no longer showing pink; add the drained noodles and toss. Add the sauce mixture and toss until heated through. Remove from the heat, drizzle with sesame oil and toss again; sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.

This carb-elicious delight is an Atkins devotee’s worst nightmare and secret desire all rolled into one. Seriously, what could be better than a plate of delicious carbs topped with crispy yet tender herbed carbs? It’s incredibly easy and can be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock rather than chicken. Mmmm, carbs. This recipe is slightly adapted from one on Recipezaar, which is in turn adapted from a book called “Wild Sides”. Mmmm, adapted carbs. The one thing I don’t recommend doing is using red wine instead of white which I have done once in desperation –the resultant colour was not really that attractive, although it still tasted great. How could it not – it’s carbs!

Serves 2 hungry carb-lovers

3 potatoes

olive oil

dried thyme

1 large onion, sliced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh sage leaves

200gm fettuccini or other long pasta

¼ cup white wine

¼ cup chicken stock

sea salt

fresh ground black pepper

1/2 large lemon, juice of

parmesan cheese or pecorino cheese, shaved

Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Thinly slice the potatoes and place in a single layer on one or two lightly oiled baking trays. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme (you want some on every slice) and some salt & pepper. Cook until starting to brown – time will vary depending on your oven and how thinly the potatoes are sliced, so keep a close eye on them.

Add the pasta to a large saucepan of boiling salted water and cook until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, and sauté until softened.

Add the sage and sauté for 1 minute or until soft.

Add the drained pasta and toss to combine.

Pour in the stock and wine, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and toss together for 2 minutes.

Add the potato slices and lemon juice and toss for 1 minute further or until the liquid has reduced.

Shave parmesan over to serve.

It was very hard to get a photo of this dish, mainly due to the fact that it smelt and tasted so fantastically good that I was too busy devouring it to remember to photograph it! This is probably the national dish of Armenia – meat marinated and barbequed, served with delicious crispy potatoes, onion rings and bread. It’s incredibly simple and incredibly good. While I still can’t quite capture the flavour of the khorovatz we ate in Yerevan and Gyumri, this is as close as I’ve come and it really is excellent. The meat used is pork or lamb, preferably on the bone and with a little fat. The below marinade recipe is for 8 pork or lamb chops, which will serve 4 people at the most – don’t underestimate just how good this is. The most important part of the cooking process is the wood fire (mixed with some heat beads is ok); nothing else will truly impart the proper khorovatz flavour.

8 chops, pork or lamb

2 onions, minced finely in a food processor

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp hot paprika

* 1 tsp svaneti salt (optional – only available if you’ve just come back from Georgia! Or if you ask me nicely.)

20-30 basil leaves, roughly torn

Mix onion, seasonings and basil leaves together in a large bowl; add the chops and rub the mix all over them. Marinade for at least 24 hours, 48 if you can, and re-rub the meat at least once during this time.

Cook over a wood-fired barbeque until done – you want plenty of charring on the outside. Serve with potatoes that have been par-boiled, sliced and tossed in any remaining marinade with a little oil and then roasted til browned and yummy. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and ta da! Serve with salad, thinly sliced red onion and bread and you have a killer bbq meal.

My name is Beck, and I am a lahmajo addict. As I write this, it has been 2 hours 10 minutes since my last lahmajo and therefore 21 hours 50 minutes until my next lahmajo. I am shamelessly, hopelessly hooked; I cannot stop and I don’t even want to. Lahmajo (also spelled lahmajoun, lahmacun and many other options in English) is a very healthy and monumentally tasty ‘pizza’ of middle eastern origin – it is essentially minced lamb, tomato and spices spread thinly and cooked on flatbread which is then then folded or rolled up and devoured at will. Devotees will argue as to which nationality can claim this for their own; my experience with this delectable little devil has been in Armenia, and therefore that is the flavour I am trying to reproduce.

And look! It's all done in a food processor! Minimal washing up!

While I’m sure that there are great Armenian recipes out there for lahmajo on the internet they are not easy to find in English – those I’ve come across are seriously lacking in flavour compared to the goodies I happily gorged myself on in Yerevan and Gyumri. (If anyone knows the owner/chef of Pizza Jazz in Gyumri, please promise them anything on my behalf to get their recipe. It seriously rocked and led to me ordering far more than originally planned. Thank you.) So I have combined elements from lots of different recipes, added a few of my own and come up with the following topping recipe. As far as the base goes, you can make your own (there are plenty of recipes for this out there), use pita bread or my personal preference, tortillas. I make a batch of these on the weekend, wrap them up 2 together and freeze them and then take them out the day I want to eat them (ie. every day) and reheat in the microwave for 40 seconds at work for lunch. It’s not as good as fresh out of the oven but it’s still damn tasty and will have everyone in the vicinity demanding what that amazing smell is. If there’s anything better than eating a great lunch at work, it’s making people around you miserable with jealousy…

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Georgian Khatchapuri

I had the great pleasure and privilege of spending nearly three weeks in the wonderful nation of Armenia (with a brief but notable side trip to Georgia) in the new year – meeting amazing people, seeing amazing sights and of course devouring vast quantities of amazing food, sometimes to the point of physical pain and possible regurgitation. The culinary highlights for me were the tasty discovery of four dishes I had heard about but not previously eaten: khorovatz (Armenian bbq), lahmajo (Armenian pizza), khinkali (Georgian dumplings) and khatchapuri (Georgian cheese pie). Since returning to Melbourne and the tragic news that the only Armenian restaurant in my state has now closed – shame, Cafe Armenia! Shame! – I have no choice but to try to figure out how to reproduce all this wondrous deliciousness at home. Luckily I met some foodie friends to help me out, and today’s recipe is courtesy of the lovely Tamara from Georgia who has been generous enough to share her khatchapuri secrets with me. And I can tell you (because I’ve looked!) that there is no recipe like this out there on the net in English at least. It’s extremely easy to make, can have a variety of fillings and tastes sensational; I’ve made this several times since returning and it’s been a hit on every occasion.

One of my favourite memories from our travels would have to be Tamara demonstrating in a restaurant in Tbilisi just how to fold khatchapuri, using a napkin to illustrate the dough and a mobile phone for the filling. While her way was certainly effective, I think I prefer a filling of mashed potatoes, cheese, parsley and spices to a Nokia…

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