Hotteok (Korean pancake)

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Autumn is here and it is freeing! So to warm me up this cold morning I decided to make something hot, sweet and delicious. Hotteok is a Korean pancake that is jam packed with either a sweet filling of brown sugar and nuts or a savoury filling of stir fried veggie noodles. It's a popular street food in Korea and is only made during the winter.


Hotteok with a sweet brown sugar filling

Makes 8

1 cup warm water
2 tbsp CSR white sugar
2 tsp dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp Vegetable oil
2 cups White Wings plain flour
1/2 cup CSR brown sugar
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon

Place warm water into a bowl and stir in the white sugar, dry yeast, salt and vegetable oil. Stir well.

Add the plain flour and mix it by hand. Let the dough rise for about 1hr at room temperature.

After an hour the dough will rise to double it size. Knead the dough to rid it of gas bubbles. Let it rise for another 10-20 mins.

To make the filling combine the brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon.

Knead the dough again to rid it of gas bubbles. Place about 1/2 cup plain flour on to your bench top and knead the dough and divide into 8 balls.

Take 1 ball, flatten it, put some filling in the centre, seal it and then roll back in to a ball. Repeat with the rest.

Heat up some vegetable oil in a pan and place a ball on the pan and let it cook for 30 seconds.

When the bottom of the ball is lightly golden, flip the ball over and flatten it down.

Let it cook for about 1 min or until the bottom is lightly golden.

Flip it over once more and cook it on low heat with the pans lid on for 1 min.

Repeat with the rest of the balls.

Serve immediately! Enjoy!

Braised Lamb Shanks

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Dinner last night was juicy braised lamb shanks with homemade creamy mashed potato and steamed green beans (not pictured). Need I say more?

It was my first time cooking with lamb shanks and it was a huge success! They were juicy, moist and full of flavour. The meat was falling off of the bone. It was mouthwatering! To compliment this beautiful flavoursome meat, I whipped up some homemade creamy mashed potato and steamed some fresh green beans (not pictured). They worked so well together, I had to stop myself from overindulging in all of its finger-licking goodness. You have to try this at home! 

Braised Lamb Shanks with Creamy Mash Potato and Steamed Green Beans

8 Lamb shanks
Plain flour (for coating)
3 Onions, diced 
5 Garlic cloves, sliced
3 tbsp thyme
1x400g can of crushed tomatoes
4 cups Chicken/beef stock or water
Veggie of your choice

Coat all your lamb shanks in flour evenly, shake off any excess. Melt some butter or heat up some oil on high heat. Brown off the lamb shanks and then remove from the pot and set aside.

In the same pot, melt off some butter and cook the onions and garlic until golden. Add the lamb shanks, stock, crushed tomatoes, thyme. Let it cook on medium heat for about 1hr 30mins or until the meat falls off of the bone. 

Once the lamb shanks are cooked, serve with mashed potato and top with the delicious thickened juices from the pot.

Coffee Swirled Walnut Cake

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A coffee swirled walnut cake is probably the most easiest thing you can make. Its perfect for when you want a quick sweet fix or you need to quickly whip something up for unexpected guests. This is a cake that my mum used to make. She basically threw a few ingredients together and voila, with each bite came a deliciously soft mouthful of goodness. It's now something that she gets me to make and it brings back lots of memories. She would whip this up back when I was in primary school (minus the coffee) with chunks of chocolate mixed through and together with my sister, we would heat it up and devour it with a glass of cold milk. It was so good, especially during the colder months.

Coffee Swirled Walnut Cake

Serves about 9

3 eggs
1 cup CSR caster sugar
1 cup oil
1 cup Pura milk
White Wings Self Raising Flour
1 tbsp Nescafe Coffee
1 tbsp boiling water
Crushed Walnuts

Mix all the ingredients together. Add the flour until you reach a thick cake-like consistency. Pour into prepared pan.

Combine the coffee and water. Spoon the coffee over the cake and swirl it around with a spoon. Sprinkle over the crushed walnuts. 

Bake in a 180C fan forced oven for 30 mins or until cooked through.

Serve warm with a cold glass of milk.

Tteokbokki (Spicy rice cakes)

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Tteokbokki is a combination of rice cake and fish cake cooked in a hot and spicy sauce. Its a very popular street food in Korea, during winter. I have always been meaning to try making this but could never find the tteok (rice cakes) to make it. By luck I found a Korean grocer who had heaps of them, frozen and fresh. 

So I made it then nearly ate all of it. I had to restrain myself because it was that good! It might not suit everyones palate as it is cooked in an anchovy stock and is super spicy but it was soooo yummy that I kept going back for more!
 These are the rice cakes. They're super soft and chewy. They're quite plain tasting, that's why its cooked in a delicious sauce.
Gochujang (fermented red pepper paste), gochugaru (red pepper flakes) and tteok (rice cakes)
 The fish cakes are chopped up to make reasonable bite sizes.
 To make the anchovy stock, you put together some water and anchovy and boil it off until you reach your desired strength.
While the anchovy stock was being made, I combined some gochujang (fermented hot pepper paste), hot pepper flakes, sugar and garlic to create the hot and spicy sauce.


Serves 3

4 cups water (more if you need)
handful of dried anchovies (more or less as desired)
650g tteok (rice cake) 
3 fish cake sheets
1/3 cup gochujang (fermented red chilli paste)
1 tbsp gochugaru (red pepper flakes)
1 tbsp sugar
3 garlic cloves

If your rice cakes and fish cakes are frozen, defrost them.

In a pot, boil the water and anchovies for about 10-15 mins or until an aromatic stock is formed.

In a small bowl, combine the gochujang, gochugaru, sugar and garlic cloves.

Once the stock is ready, remove the anchovies and dissolve in the hot pepper paste mixture.

Once dissolved, add the rice cakes and fish cakes. Let it cook for about 5-10 mins or until the sauce thickens and the rice and fish cakes are soft. Add extra water if it thickens to quickly or if you want it a little watery.

Serve immediately. Enjoy.

Rainbow Cake

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Rainbow Cake! It's colourful, pretty, fun and looks so delicious but that's where it all stops. The renowned rainbow cake just didn't do it for me. Did it taste good? Yeh I guess as much as any vanilla cake would taste but it didn't have an enough punch in flavours that I would have liked. And yes it was just another 'vanilla cake' so what was I really expecting? It is taking me forever to find a delicious vanilla cake recipe and this was just another cross off of my list. Im actually super happy that it didn't work out because this gives me a chance to experiment further and jazz up the flavours and the way it looks. YAY! 

So here it is. My first attempt at a vanilla flavoured rainbow cake. 

Rainbow Cake

Serves 6-8

2 cups White Wings flour
2 cups CSR caster sugar
3/4 cup Custard powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup Pura milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup boiling water
Red, blue, green, orange, yellow and purple food colouring

1 block (250g) unsalted butter
250ml thick cream
2 tsp vanilla essence or 1 vanilla bean
Icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 150C fan forced.

Combine the flour, sugar, custard powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix through.

Mix in the milk, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla essence. Pour in the boiling water slowly until mixed thoroughly. Mix on high for 1 min.

Divide into 6 bowls. Assign each colour to a bowl. Add the colour until its a bright and vibrant colour.

Bake separately in the same pan to get the same size for each layer for about 20-30 mins or until cooked through.

Mean while, whip the butter until light and fluffy, incorporate the cream slowly. Add the vanilla bean/essence. Add the icing sugar until you reach the consistency and sweetness that you desire.

Layer the cake and icing. Serve.

Super Moist Banana Bread

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I love bananas! So when I have extra over ripe bananas lying around, I get cooking. Quick tip! When a bananas peel is almost black, don't be fooled! That's when the banana is at its best. Inside you'll find a delicious white flesh that is super sweet and perfect for cakes and bread.
My intention was to make a banana bread but it came out looking more like a cake. This is my first time making banana bread and I must say it tasted delicious. It had the right amount of banana and spice but I regret not adding any walnuts. 
The crumble on top worked so well with the banana bread as it gave it that extra sweetness. 
Make sure not to over cook the bread otherwise it'll become super dry and crumbly. If I had cooked it for any longer it would've lost its moistness and been very dry to eat.

Banana Bread

Serves 5-10

2 cups White Wings flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 cup soft butter
3/4 cup CSR brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4-5 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tsp vanilla essence

1/4 cup White Wings flour
1/4 cup CSR brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp mixed spice
2 tbsp cold butter

Preheat the oven to 170C fan forced.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and mixed spice in a bowl and mix well.

In another bowl cream the brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Stir in the egg, vanilla essence and bananas. 

Fold in the flour mixture into the banana mixture. Pour into a loaf or cake pan. 

For the topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, salt, mixed spice and rub in the butter. Sprinkle the topping mixture and bake for 20-30 mins or until baked through.

Asian Chicken Dumplings in a Delicious Broth

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Dinner requires way too much thinking! Should I have something healthy? Something light? Soup? Sandwich? I like to first find some inspiration from different cultures, whether it be Chinese, Turkish or Indian. Yesterday was a Chinese inspired kind of dinner. I whipped up some amazing chicken wontons soaked in a deliciously, hot, aromatic broth. 
I used simple every day ingredients and blitzed the whole thing together with the chicken to create a fine mince. The smell that was coming from the blender was just amazing! The coriander and ginger just consumed my sense of smell. 
Using ready made wonton wrappers made the process so much easier. Of course you can make your own dough (recipe here) but if you want to speed up the time or your just feeling lazy these are the way to go.
Once the dumplings have all been made just pop them into a pot of boiling water and let them cook.
Pop them in cold water to stop the cooking process.
The broth had the most beautiful smell and tasted amazing. You can smell and taste everything individually. The sourness and floral aroma from the lime, the freshness from the spring onions and lemongrass, the sweetness from the brown sugar, the punch from the garlic, ginger and the spiciness from the sambal oelek. It was a bowl of pure bliss!

Chicken Dumplings Soup
Serves 5

Wonton wrappers or DIY dumpling dough

2 chicken breasts
2 spring onions
1/2 bunch coriander
One thumb size of ginger
2-3 garlic cloves
3-4 tbsp fish sauce
1-2 tbsp oyster sauce

3 cups chicken stock
3 cups water (can be substituted for chicken stock)
1 lemongrass
Thumb size ginger, sliced thinly or grated
2-3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly or crushed
2 spring onions
1-2 tbsp Sambal Oelek or chilli
1-2 lime
4-5 tbsp soy sauce
Veggies of your choice: Bok choy, etc.

Combine all the filling ingredients into a blender and blitz until its a fine mince. Test out the flavour by cooking a teaspoon of the mixture. Add more of each ingredient until its to your taste.

Start wrapping your dumplings. (This is how you do it)

Boil a pot of water. Once the water has boiled, pop in your dumplings and let it cook for 5 mins or until  cooked through. Once cooked pop into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.

Meanwhile get your broth ready. Boil the chicken stock and water together. Chop the lemongrass and spring onions 1 cm thick and pop them into the pot. Add the ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sambal oelek. Add any veggie of your choice, I added baby bok choy and let it cook with the broth.

Once the broth is infused and enriched with all the flavours, take it off heat and add the lime according to taste.

In a bowl, place your cooked dumplings and soak them with the delicious broth. 
Ready to serve.

Wrapping Dumplings

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So this is a quick 'How to' on wrapping or folding dumplings. They're so many ways to do it but I'll show you the super quick and easy way I do it.
 First step is to fill your dumplings with whatever filling you want. Don't overfill it or else it will explode!
 Next with a little water we slightly wet two corner sides to create the stickiness to keep the dough together. Do not soak it in water!
 Now we fold and glue together the sides so it looks like a triangle. Now you can leave them like this and just use it as is or fold them even further. Either way is just fine.
 To further fold, slightly wet one of the adjacent corners and just fold them over one another. 
 And then you get this perfect looking dumpling shape. Yay! You did it!
 Have fun with it and try out different dumpling shapes and maybe even come up with your own! 
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