Archive | June, 2011

Marion’s Kitchen red chicken curry

Do you have a fallback recipe? One that you go back to time and time again like the ex-boyfriend you just can’t shake? One you can cook on auto-pilot and whip up with your eyes shut? I have a love-hate relationship with my fallback recipes – cooking them fills me with equal measures of comfort and guilt. “I should be more creative. I should try something new,” I say to myself as I whip them up for the 100th time.

I’ve had a few fallback recipes in my time – chicken stir-fry, chilli con carne, spag bol, Thai red or green chicken curry. Truth be told, Thai red curry is the most frequent offender. I’ve been cooking it for years in various guises. It usually makes an appearance mid-week when all inspiration is lost and I just don’t feel like bringing out the big culinary guns.

You can imagine my delight at being sent trial packs of Marion’s Kitchen Thai curry kits to review. Remember Marion Grasby from Masterchef season two? She was the amazing cook who looked likely to win the show before she was ousted in a shock elimination.  I remember being positively gutted at the time.

Since leaving Masterchef, Marion has developed her own food range. Aptly named Marion’s Kitchen, the range covers five popular Thai dishes all nicely packaged in colourful boxes with step-by-step instructions. Think of it as Thai for beginners. It’s hard to stuff this up… even if you try!

For Thai lovers like me, it’s a great mid-week meal option if you feel too virtuous to order takeaway but don’t feel like cooking up a storm. On my maiden voyage into Marion’s Kitchen I cooked one of my fallback recipes – Thai red chicken curry. All I needed to add was 400g chicken (I added more like 600g) and 1 cup of vegies. Marion kindly supplies the rest, so all up it costs around $20 for a meal for four people.

Marion's Kitchen red chicken curry

Marions Kitchen » Marion’s Kitchen BBQ Chook Red Curry

The ingredients list is refreshingly devoid of additives, and I love the inclusion of a dried spices pack to add some extra punch to the curry. Marion suggests crushing the dried chillies if you want extra heat.

Step one: heat oil over medium heat and fry the curry paste for a couple of minutes until it starts to smell beautiful. This allows the fresh ingredients in the paste to release their flavour and aroma.

Step two: pour in the coconut milk and 1 cup of water. You can tell the quality of a coconut milk simply by looking at it. If it’s rich and creamy like this one, you know it’s good. There’s one step missing on the instructions at this point. You need to bring the coconut milk and water to a gentle simmer before the next step.

Step three: this is my favourite step. Add the fragrant dried herbs and fish sauce. The herbs come in a sachet and contain dried basil, dried kaffir lime leaves and dried chilli. For more spice, Marion recommends chopping up the dried chillies before you add them. For less spice, don’t use any dried chillies and add an extra 1/2 cup water. Wait for the curry to start simmering again.

Step four: add the drained bamboo shoots and raw meat. Marion recommends adding the vegies at this point, but I holded off adding mine until the chicken was mostly cooked as I didn’t want them to overcook. The timing depends on the type of vegies you’re cooking. Pumpkin and eggplant will take longer than green beans and zucchini, for example. Then, simmer until the curry is cooked and serve with rice.

So, what’s the verdict? The red chicken curry gets my thumbs up. It’s full of flavour and rich in colour and makes for a great mid-week meal.

Also available in the Marion’s Kitchen range are Thai green curry, Thai basil and chilli stir-fry, Thai fish cakes and Thai satay sticks. Available from IGA, Woolworths, Foodland, Franklins, Drakes, Kemmenys and other retailers. RRP $6.99.


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Trio Bondi

Don’t you just love an all-day breakfast? Being able to rock up to a cafe at your convenience and hoe into a big bowl of toasted granola or a plate of poached eggs with smoked salmon? They say brekky is the most important meal of the day, so it seems a shame to stop serving it at lunchtime. I’m a big proponent of the all-day breakfast. It’s like a celebration of sorts… not to mention great for people who like a sleep in, but don’t want to miss out on their big brekky and long black.

Have you heard of Trio Cafè at Bondi? It’s on Campbell Parade (up the hill, a safe distance from the feral part). I would go as far as saying they serve the best breakfast in Sydney. You see, breakfast is their specialty.  They serve it all day long and absolutely excel in it. I’m yet to see a more creative and diverse brekky menu. For indecisive Librans like me, deciding what to order can be as hard as making the perfect pastry.

I’m talking shakshuka; cinnamon and vanilla scented French toast; corn fritters with warm smoky tomato chutney, bacon, goat’s cheese and roquette; fresh seasonal fruit plate served with passionfruit yoghurt; chargrilled banana bread with caramelized bananas, strawberries and vanilla mascarpone. There is nothing predictable about this menu. Ten points for originality.

I can’t go past the mango lime buttermilk pancakes served with strawberries, lemon curd and double cream when I go to Trio. I usually ask for an entrée serving which they happily oblige to. My only other wish would be for them to serve wheat-free pancakes like the ones I whip up at home. Food always tastes better when it’s cooked for you, don’t you think?

Apart from the food, the other standout about Trio Cafè is the service. It has the best service of any Sydney cafè I’ve been to. The staff always greet you with a big smile and go out of their way to make you feel welcome. I don’t know about you, but I think this is a rarity in Sydney. It’s down-to-earth and welcoming and that suits me to a tea.

They only use free-range eggs in their cooking – something that I often worry about when I’m eating out. The selection of breads on offer are enough to make any baker proud – sourdough, carrot sourdough (yeast-free), rye black russian, multigrain, pugliese (Italian rye), olive sourdough, turkish, wholemeal, white, english muffin, gluten-free multigrain.

The downside? The prices are steeper than most breakfast menus, but you’re paying for the location (Bondi Beach views) and the quality. If you’re planning on going on a weekend, I recommend calling in advance to reserve a table as I’m not the only person who loves this place.

I’m yet to try their dinner menu, but Trio also dishes up dinner Wednesday through to Sunday. If it’s anything like their brekky menu, it’s bound to please.

Trio Café
56 Campbell Parade
Bondi Beach
NSW 2026
Ph. 9365 6044

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Cinnamon quinoa

Are you a morning person or a night owl? Most mornings, I struggle to peel myself away from the covers. My energy tends to increase as the day goes on, reaching a nice crescendo by nighttime when my creativity hits its peak. I’ve always been quietly jealous of “morning people”. Just how do they bounce out of bed of a morning all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? I read on body+ soul there’s a genetic predisposition and an innate tendency to be either a night person or a morning person. So maybe I can blame my genes for my slothenly morning state.

Breakfast quinoa

I’d probably be nocturnal if weren’t for the prospect of breakfast. Indeed, breakfast is usually the first thing that pops into my head when I rouse from a deep sleep. If it weren’t for a hot cup of tea accompanied by a piping hot bowl of porridge with blueberries, I’m not sure if I’d ever get out of bed. As much as I don’t understand “morning people”, I also scratch my head at people who forgo brekky. Just how do they do it? And more importantly, don’t they realise they’re missing out on the most important meal of the day?

I think Piglet summed it up nicely when he said to Winnie the Pooh: “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today,” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I have a new breakfast creation to share with you. It’s a porridge-like recipe using a newfound ingredient of mine – quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”). Rest assured, it’s easier to cook than it is to pronounce. For those of you who won’t turn up your nose to a bowl of porridge, you’re bound to like this recipe. I’m still on the hunt for a grocer that sells quinoa that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, so I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Continue reading and get the recipe »

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Gluten-free soda bread

The one thing I’ve missed the most since going wheat-free is pizza and red wine bread. Admittedly, I’ve missed the convenience of bread as much as the taste and smell of it. No toast for breakfast; no sandwiches for lunch; no bread to dip into my soup; no popping down to the bakery on my bicycle wearing a striped top and a red beret and grabbing a baguette. Needless to say, it has been a tough gig and I’d really prefer not to live without bread.

Bread and I were reunited on the weekend. No, I didn’t buckle at the wafts of hot bread lingering from Brasserie Bread. My in-house baker (Paul) worked out how to make wheat-free soda bread. I’m talking no wheat and no yeast. And yes, it’s delicious. Maybe after months of going without bread I have forgotten how it’s meant to taste, but if you ask me, this wheat and yeast-free stuff is amazing. And what’s even better is it’s easy to make. Paul whips it up in less than 15 mins (plus about 40 mins cooking time).

So, what is soda bread? It’s a quick bread that uses baking soda instead of yeast. It usually contains buttermilk, but in the interests of being dairy-free, Paul used soy milk instead.

Wheat-free soda bread

Wheat-free soda bread

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