Tag Archives: Chilli

Spring Socialising

It’s hard to believe it’s November already. For me, November heralds the start of the party season and the count-down to Christmas. As your calendar starts to fill up, it’s handy to have some tasty recipes for entertaining.

I actually “borrowed” this recipe from a friend who recently purchased a thermomix. Now I love my kitchen gadgets, but haven’t been able to make the commitment to purchase one, but I’ve heard they are fantastic and she was excited to be experimenting with new recipes. I’ve added my own twist to the ingredients and come up with the below version (no thermomix required). I used a store-cupboard standby with the roasted peppers, but you could roast your own fresh red capsicum if you desire. If you would like a chunkier version of this dip, process the ingredients without the cashews first, then add the cashews and pulse the food processor until you achieve your desired texture. If your dip is a little to thick, you could add a bit of the drained oil that the tomatoes came in to help in getting the desired texture.

Serve your dip with your favourite accompaniments – crackers or vegetable crudités.

What I was cooking this time last year: Passionfruit and Strawberry Gum Bavarian

Cashew and Tomato Dip


  • 100g semi-sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 birds eye chilli
  • 50g roasted red peppers or roasted red capsicum, drained
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 120g raw unsalted cashews
  • 30g parmesan cheese


  • Add the tomatoes, peppers, cashews, garlic, chilli, lemon juice and parmesan cheese to your food processor or thermomix bowl.

Cashews, tomato, pepper, chilli, garlic, cheese, ingredients

  • Blend until you have achieved your desired texture.
  • Transfer your dip to a bowl and serve (or refrigerate until ready to serve). Enjoy.

Cashew and tomato dip

What is your favourite stand-by recipe when friends drop by? Has this post inspired any new ideas?


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Filed under Capsicum, Cashews, Cheese, Dip, Lemon, Nuts, Recipes, Savoury, Tomato, Vegetarian

Mediterranean inspiration

Classic mediterranean flavours include oregano, lemon, garlic and olive oil. I have combined all of these flavours in Mediterranean Inspired Baby Octopus.

Mediterranean Flavours

Octopus has gained a reputation as being tough and chewy. Octopus is best cooked very slowly for a long time or very quickly over a high heat, anything else in-between will result in a tough and chewy dish. Octopus shrinks a lot once cooked, so bulk up your quantity of raw seafood to allow for the shrinkage factor. Most octopus purchased from a shop comes cleaned and ready to go, check with your fish monger if unsure. You could chop your baby octopus into pieces before adding to the marinade or leave them whole.

A trick I learnt about a while ago is to add some bicarb soda to the marinade to help tenderise the octopus. I have also heard of kiwi fruit or pawpaw being used to tenderise, but I haven’t experimented with these options so can’t provide insights on how well they work.

I recommend using normal olive oil in this dish, this type of oil is better for cooking with. Save your good quality extra virgin olive oil for dressings, drizzling or other uses not subjected to high temperatures.

You could cook these baby octopus on a barbecue, because it has been wet and miserable in Sydney, I have cooked mine in a very hot fry pan. Because of their unusual shape, you will need to turn them multiple times so they cook through. They could be served as part of a mezze platter or with a greek salad.

Mediterranean Inspired Baby Octopus


  • 1 kg baby octopus
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 3 – 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon bicarb soda


  • Finely chop the garlic, rosemary and oregano, pick the thyme leaves and add to a bowl.
  • Zest the lemons, add zest to the bowl with herbs.
  • Add the chilli, bicarb soda and olive oil to the bowl. Stir to combine.

Zest and herbs

  • Wash the baby octopus and pat try with paper towel.
  • Add the baby octopus to the bowl and stir to coat in the marinade.
  • Cover the bowl of octopus and put in the fridge to marinade. Leave for an hour or more, preferably overnight.

Marinading Baby Octopus

  • Heat the barbecue or fry pan to a high heat.
  • Cook the octopus in a single layer, in batches if required. Turn once the octopus is opaque and getting a little charred or brown.

Baby Octopus cooking

  • Transfer to a serving plate, accompany with wedges of the zested lemon. Sprinkle with salt. Your baby octopus is ready to serve. Enjoy.

Baby Octopus

What is your favourite Asian inspired recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Herbs, Lemon, Recipes, Savoury, Seafood

Asian inspired fish cakes

Thai fish cakes are a popular menu item in Australia, and are often served as street food right around Thailand. I’m not sure if these fish cakes are authentically Thai, but they are definitely inspired by Asian flavours.  I’ve made mini fish cakes which you could serve as an entrée, party snacks or alongside a salad as a light meal. You could also make larger fish cakes and create fish burgers.

Kaffir lime leaves provide a citrus flavour to this dish. Kaffir lime plants grow well in pots – I have one growing on my balcony, or you may be able to track down kaffir lime leaves at your green grocer. Unlike most citrus, it’s the leaves that are generally prized. Kaffir lime fruit are knobbly looking and don’t contain a lot of juice, but the zest can be used in asian dishes. When finely cutting the leaves, generally the steam is discarded. If you have purchased kaffir lime leaves, you can store any leftovers in the freezer until you are ready to use them again.

If you don’t have palm sugar you can substitute brown sugar, and if you don’t have snake beans you can substitute regular green beans. You could of course make your own curry paste, but I used a store bought Thai curry paste. I used orange roughy because that was what was fresh at my fish monger, but you could use any firm white fish you have available. Serve your fish cakes with some sweet chilli sauce, chilli sauce and / or some lime wedges.

Asian Fish Cakes


  • 500g orange roughy fish filets
  • 1 coriander plant from a bunch of coriander, roots, stem and leaves
  • 4 spring onions
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 4 snake beans (or 12 regular beans)
  • 3 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • Oil, for pan frying


  • Wash the coriander well to make sure any dirt is removed.
  • Finely chop the kaffir lime leaves, snake beans, spring onions and coriander.

Kaffir lime, coriander, spring onions, snake beans

  • Add the fish, egg, fish sauce and curry paste to a food processor bowl. Process until smooth.
  • Remove the fish mixture from the food processor bowl and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • Add the finely chopped kaffir lime leaves, snake beans, spring onions and coriander and mix to combine.

Fishcake mixture

  • Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and flatten slightly.
  • Heat a frying pan, add a little oil and pan fry fish cakes for a couple of minutes until golden brown.

asian fish cakes cooking

  • Turn over the fish cakes and cook on the other side for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Your fish cakes are ready to serve. Enjoy.

Asian fish cakes

What is your favourite Asian inspired recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Recipes, Savoury, Seafood

Thai rockmelon salad

My passion for cooking has been influenced by various sources. My mother is an amazing cook and taught me how to navigate my way around the kitchen from a young age. Mum is currently enjoying teaching my two-year-old niece how to cook biscuits so I am guessing I started helping in the kitchen at a similar age. Another early influence was my first weekend job as a kitchen hand working at a local guesthouse in the Blue Mountains called Pegum’s (no longer in operation). I very quickly branched out from stacking the dishwasher to helping with plating up the food and being in charge of the deep fryer. This recipe is trying to re-create a Thai rockmelon salad I remember from my Pegum’s days.

The shrimp paste in this recipe has been listed as optional, because it is one of those ingredients you need to be brave and get past the smell to use. You should be able to track shrimp paste down in the Asian section of your supermarket. Shrimp paste has an overpowering smell, and must be cooked before use; once it is roasted the flavour isn’t as strong. The SBS Food website suggests to wrap a small amount of shrimp paste in foil and put into a hot oven or hold over flame using tongs to cook. Then cool and crumble and it is ready to use.


Rockmelon is known as cantaloupe to Americans. Feel free to experiment using other melons or fruits. The dressing would be delicious on shredded green mango, this suggestion is inspired by a green mango salad I tried at a food court in Chang Mai during my first trip to Thailand. Green mangos can be tricky to find, but you could try an Asian supermarket.

Thai Rockmelon Salad


  • 100g roasted peanuts
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 4 spring onions
  • 4 birds eye chillies (or to taste)
  • 2 large or 3 small limes
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon roasted shrimp paste (optional – see notes above)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 rockmelon


  • Chop the rockmelon into quarters. Scoop out the seeds and peel off the skin. Chop into chunks.
  • Zest and juice the limes. Add the juice and zest to a blender.
  • Chop the ends and dark green parts off the spring onions.
  • Wash the coriander thoroughly. Pick the leaves off the coriander and finely chop. Reserve two of the coriander roots for the sauce.
  • Add the garlic, chilis, fish sauce, spring onions, roasted shrimp paste, two coriander roots and half the peanuts to the blender.

Thai dressing ingredients

  • Blend until everything is combined.
  • Add the remaining peanuts and blend very briefly. You want to retain some peanut texture. You will end up with a thick paste.
  • Scape the sauce out of the bender onto the chopped rockmelon. Stir to coat the rockmelon.

Rockmelon with Thai dressing

  • Add the chopped coriander and stir to combine. You can either eat straight away or store for up to a day or two. Enjoy.

Thai Rockmelon Salad

What is your favourite Thai inspired recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Herbs, Recipes, Salad, Savoury