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January 2017

In Recipe, Salad on
January 31, 2017

Yuzu Crab and Apple Coleslaw

I didn’t used to be much of a salad person.

Which probably has something to do with the fact that we almost never have salads in our family, with the exception of our KFC nights, where we’d get Coleslaw as one of the sides, along with the chips, coke, potato & gravy etc. It was the only salad we actually enjoyed, and that was more because there was so much sauce it didn’t feel so much like eating raw vegetables.

We’ve ventured further out into salad land now, and even have a sizeable collection of salad dressings in our fridge, but coleslaw still remains one of our favourites, and still a must order when we have KFC, although these days it is pretty rare. Luckily, there’s no shortage of KFC coleslaw copycat recipes on the internet, to satisfy those coleslaw cravings without having to make the trip to KFC (and it’s most likely healthier too).

And I was perfectly content with these copycat recipes, until I recently came across these coleslaw variations from Nigel Slater which included a selection of very different looking coleslaw recipes such as a Tropical fruit slaw and Beetroot and fennel slaw which sounded delectable. But it was when I came across the Crab and apple slaw with yuzu dressing that I knew I had try it.

It is essentially a typical coleslaw- cabbage, carrot and mayo- with the addition of some extras like apple and crabmeat as well as nori (seaweed) and shallots for an Asian flare. But what really makes this coleslaw like no other is the addition of yuzu juice which imparts a subtle but unique citrus flavour to the salad. I really like the addition of yuzu juice in any salad dressing, but the combination of yuzu and mayo worked surprisingly well in this salad.

Follow the recipe exactly if you want to make a decent portion for two. I scaled it up seeing as I had bought two whole cabbages, and ended up with a massive amount which lasted me for more than one week, which worked great for work lunches, although I must admit I was a bit over it by the time I finished it all!

Yuzu Crab and Apple Coleslaw
Yields 2
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
  1. 2 spring onions
  2. 100g red cabbage
  3. 150g crisp, white cabbage
  4. 1 apple
  5. 80g nori seaweed, fresh
  6. 2 heaped tbsp mayonnaise
  7. 2 tsp yuzu juice
  8. 250g white crabmeat (I used imitation crab sticks)
  9. 1 tsp nigella seeds (I used sesame seeds)
  1. Finely slice the spring onions and put them in a large mixing bowl. Finely shred the cabbage, either by hand or using a food processor, then add it to the onions. Without peeling the apple, halve and core it, then slice very finely. Toss with the cabbage. Lightly rinse the fresh nori and add to the bowl.
  2. Put the mayonnaise in a small bowl, and add the yuzu juice and a little salt. Pour the dressing into the slaw and toss very gently so that most of the ingredients are coated lightly with the mayonnaise. Add the crabmeat, folding everything carefully together. Scatter with the nigella seeds and serve.
  1. Yuzu juice can be purchased from the Japanese section of Asian supermarkets
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In Recipe on
January 28, 2017

Chinese New Year 2017 | Water Chestnut Cake Recipe 馬蹄糕

Happy Chinese New Year!

This is why I love being Chinese. Not even a month since New Years and we’re celebrating again!

Being in Australia, and away from the majority of our relatives, Chinese New Year is not a huge thing for us, but we always do try to celebrate it, even if it only really involves the mandatory red pockets from our parents in the morning, and a nice Chinese New Year dinner at night.

And sometimes, if we have time for it and the weather’s not too hot, we get around to making some Chinese New Year snacks as well. I didn’t quite get around to making anything as involved as  honeycomb crisps, peanut filled pastries or smiling mouth cookies this year, so I threw together a quick water chestnut cake instead.

Whilst the classic New Year Cake (年糕) and Radish Cake (蘿蔔糕) are the more common cakes you tend to see around Chinese New Year, any type of cake can really be used to celebrate Chinese New Year because the word cake in Chinese is pronounced similarly to the word tall, therefore symbolising the promise of a better year.

For me, it’s just another excuse to have cake really.

Water chestnut cake is my favourite of Chinese cakes- essentially a simple sugar syrup mixture, thickened into a jelly-like consistency from chestnut flour. Chunks of water chestnut add some addition textural contrast- if you’ve never tried water chestnut, it is similar to the texture of a pear, although not nearly as sweet. Fresh water chestnuts make for an amazing snack, but you’ll have a hard time locating some in Australia so the frozen ones will do for this recipe.

We’ve been through a fair amount of water chestnut cake recipes and this is the one we ended our search at because it is the texture and the taste that we are after. The flavour mostly comes from the sugar, so it will vary depending on the type of sugar used, but the subtle taste of the water chestnut and the unique texture still remains regardless. I would definitely recommend this recipe for any water chestnut lovers!

Water Chestnut Cake 馬蹄糕
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  1. 320g water chestnuts (I used frozen)
  2. 320g water chestnut flour
  3. 480g cane sugar (I used 300g)
  4. 1T lard (I used vegetable oil)
  5. 5.5 cups water
  1. Wash the water chestnuts and cut into small pieces
  2. Mix water chestnut flour with 1.5 cups of water to make a paste
  3. Boil the remaining 4 cups of water with the cane sugar until melted
  4. Add lard and water chestnuts. Boil breifly and turn off heat.
  5. Wait for 3 minutes and then quickly pour in mixed water chestnut solution in the boiled sugar solution. Mix quickly to form a paste
  6. Pour into a greased cake tin and steam for 30 minutes until cooked
  7. When cold, cut into slices and pan fry in oil until gold on both sides before serving.
  1. The recipe can be tweaked, but I would recommend keeping the ratio of chestnut flour to water the same- this is what gives it the correct texture.
  2. Because water chestnut does not have much of a flavour, the flavour mostly comes from the sugar so you can change it to suit your tastes. We tend to use Chinese brown sugar (which results in a darker cake), but in this instance, I used rock sugar (cane sugar) for a whiter result.
The texture of the cake can vary considerably depending on how it is mixed
  1. In the method described in the original recipe, the water syrup mixture (step 3 and 4) is set to cool for 3 min before the flour solution is added. When this method is used, the resulting cake is smooth and attractive.
  2. The method I prefer is to add the flour solution immediately tot he boiling syrup mixture. This 'cooks' the flour and immediately turns the mixture into a thick paste. This results in a chewier cake, although not as smooth.
Adapted from Hong Kong Snacks Cookbook
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In Café, Dining on
January 25, 2017

The Dining & Co., North Ryde

When dining out, I tend to prefer visiting places with good reviews but every once in a while I do come across some surprisingly good eateries which are well hidden from the internet. Such was the case when I visited The Dining & Co, a little cafe hidden away in the quieter suburban streets of North Ryde (a stone throw away from my karate classes infact!).

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In Cake, Recipe on
January 23, 2017

Cakes of 2016

As I mentioned in my first post this year, as much as I want to introduce a bit of nutrition onto this blog, I will still be posting some sweet treats. Because yes, they can be had- in moderation.

And because we really struggle to finish full sized cakes between our family of four, I find birthdays a great excuse to bake cake without having to worry about how I’m going to finish it off!

2016 was a bit of an exciting year for me, in that I think I’ve finally started to get the hang of decorating cakes. Not to a professional level by any means, but for the first time in my life, I achieved straight and slightly smooth sides on a cake and I could almost get away with saying that these cakes were purchased and not homemade. Almost.

These were originally going to be a separate post each, but it’s 2017 now and it’ll probably be 2018 by the time I get around to writing about each individually, so here’s a little bit of indulgence in one post!

My coconut lemon cake was the first of attempts and far from perfect. The butter cream curdled multiple times on me and I had to use chocolate everywhere to cover the cracks but it was definitely a good learning experience. The combination of the coconut poke cake layers and lemon curd filling were deliciously good match, although much too sweet.

I thought I’d try  something similar, this time with chocolate cake (which tends to have less of a failure rate for me) along with a chocolate drip not because it’s popular these days, but because it covers all the boo-boos. That, and everyone likes chocolate cake right?

I used my current favourite chocolate cake recipe, filled it with chocolate crémeux, and iced with coffee swiss meringue buttercream to make a decadent mocha drip cake. We only got through half the cake because it was much larger than I thought it’d be, but it was definitely a winner.

Because we struggled to finish a 20cm cake between 12 people, I thought I’d start downsizing to 14cm for my white chocolate vanilla cake, which I made with my trusty sour cream pound cake recipe for the cake layers and iced with whipped white chocolate ganache, which I found much more difficult to work with than my usually dark choc ganache. I really liked the watercolour effect for the icing, it really gives it the ‘wow’ factor, although the drip wasn’t as thick as I had hoped.

And lucky last, and quite a different cake for me, a vegan chocolate cake, using a recipe I had bookmarked about 7 years ago. It was rather challenging because of the limitations for the ingredients I could use. I had considered playing around with aquafaba but wasn’t sure if that would turn into a complete disaster, so I played it safe and covered the cake in Nuttelex buttercream and a dark chocolate drip. The chocolate cake turned out surprisingly well, although not quite as nice as my usual recipe. I probably won’t be turning to vegan baking any time soon but it was definitely a fun experience!

And that’s a wrap for 2016- here’s to more exciting and delectable cakes for 2017!

In Healthy, Recipe, Salad on
January 16, 2017

Chickpea, Spinach, and Chorizo Frittata

Everyone loves vegetables, right?

At least that’s what I thought when I was a kid, as in my family, we were brought up to love vegetables. Every meal always included at least one plate of plain green vegetables (which is quite common in Chinese culture) and the importance of ‘eating your greens’ was always stressed at the dinner table. As well as finishing you rice, because apparently the more grains you leave in the bowl, the uglier your husband will be…..not that we believed it, but let’s not talk about that for now!

So I honestly thought that loving your vegetables was just the norm, until I grew up a little bit, got to the primary school age, started inviting friends over for play dates, and seeing them pick the ‘little green bits’ out of their noodles because greens were ‘disgusting’. I guess not everyone shared the same love for veggies!

And this lack of love for the veggies only became more and more apparent as I went into dietetics, realising that I’m really only in the small minority when I say I have at least 5 serves of veggies a day. Only 7% of Australians meet this guideline- we all know they’re good for you, but most of us still struggle to have enough of them. It’s no wonder that us dietitians keep on talking about eating your vegetables all the time!

Whether you love your greens or not, there are so many different varieties of vegetables and so many different ways of cooking them, there’s sure to be a selection to suit one’s taste and to make up the 5 a day. And although 5 may sound daunting to some, it really isn’t as much as you may think it to be! (Check our this visual guide from The Kitchn to see what a day’s worth of fruit and veg might look like- you’ll be surprised!)

As a general guide, 1 cup of raw vegetables and 1/2 a cup of cooked makes a serve- my ‘side’ salad of a cup of leafy greens, a medium tomato and slices of cucumber already exceeds two serves of veggies. Adding some extra veggies to my stir fries or curries easily takes me up to my 5 serves in a day!

I always try to pack in plenty of veggies in my lunches. In summer this usually just means salad and in winter, this usually means veggie packed curries, stews and soups. I also like to plan and prep my work lunches on the weekends, that way I have plenty of time to make sure I have the ingredients I need and don’t end up stressing out on weekday nights or bring a last minute throw together lunch.

On the weekend, I made these chickpea, spinach and chorizo frittatas to go in my lunchbox along with a simple green salad. Whilst I’m not usually too fond of chorizo (it’s a little too fatty for my liking), it’s addition to the frittata adds so much flavour you really don’t need to add any salt or seasoning! It’s super simple to make and means I don’t have to think about cooking lunches for a couple more days!

Chickpea, Spinach, and Chorizo Frittata
Yields 12
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  1. 1/2 small onion
  2. 1 clove of garlic
  3. Olive oil
  4. 1/2 roasted red capsicum
  5. 100g cooked chickpeas (I used canned)
  6. 1 medium chorizo
  7. 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  8. 2 big handfuls spinach
  9. 3 eggs, beaten
  10. Salt
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Finely chop the onion and garlic and saute in a frying pan in a good glug of olive oil until soft and fragrant.
  3. Dice the red capsicum and chorizo into chickpea-sized chunks and add to the pan with the chickpeas and paprika.
  4. Saute everything together until the orangy paprika oils run from the chorizo.
  5. Add the spinach and keep stirring until it wilts and everything starts to meld together in the pan.
  6. Spoon the mixture among the prepared pans. Use a fork to whisk together the eggs in a jug. Pour the egg over the chickpea mixture.
  7. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until just set. Set aside in the pan for 5 minutes to cool slightly before turning onto a wire rack. Sprinkle with a little sea salt. Serve hot or room temperature as a tapas or with a salad.
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