The flip side – Chinese Courgette Pancakes

IMG_1362Growing up Pancake Tuesday was a pretty significant day on the calendar, despite the fact that it marked the beginning of lent and that meant giving up sweets and putting any money you had in the Trócaire box. It also signalled that winter might be coming to an end (well it wasn’t as dark when you left school) and even better St. Patrick’s Day was around the corner. That meant a green ice cream and then not long after Easter beckoned, full of creme eggs and the promise of roast lamb. I knew there was good eating ahead…

Firstly though there were pancakes to be had. Time to stuff your face with stacks of flat round friends sprinkled with sugar, lemon and butter drizzling around your hands. I adore this distinctly Irish way of eating them and I’ve got the easy, old school pancake recipe here . I’m so tempted to have them for dinner but my sweet tooth has been replaced by an Asian tooth (if that’s a thing?) and it’s Chinese New Year so these Chinese Courgette Pancakes ticked all the boxes. They are simple, as a pancake should be, and I serve them with my version of Ching-He Huang’s dipping sauce. They also make a great breakfast and they happen to be dairy-free. Go on, take a whisk…


1 courgette
1 bunch spring onions, green bits removed, sliced finely
4 medium eggs
80g buckwheat flour (or any flour you have)
1 tsp Chinese five spice
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Dipping sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese vinegar or mirin
½ red chilli, deseeded & finely sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled & finely sliced
1 tsp parsley leaves and stems, finely chopped

Turn your oven on to warming (100c) and put a plate in.
Wash your courgette and slice up using a mandolin if you have one, if not use a box grater.
Into a large bowl, crack your eggs and whisk together with a fork. Add in the flour, Chinese five spice and sesame oil. Mix this all together well and leave for 15 mins. Meanwhile mix together your dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
Your batter will seem too dry for a pancake batter but the water from the courgette should start to seep out and make it looser. Give it a mix and see. If it’s still not loose enough for pancake batter after 15 mins or so, you can add a little water to loosen it. Make sure to mix well.
Get a non-stick pan on medium to high heat. Have oil ready for frying and some kitchen roll handy. This and having an oven on warming in the best way to make lots of pancakes.
Using a big spoon or small ladel scoop out a spoon of your batter and get it into the pan, making it into a circular shape. It will cook really fast, less than a minute each side. When the edges look cooked, turn with a fish slice or flip if you are brave. Cook on the other side and then remove from the pan and pop into the warming oven. Keep the kitchen roll close by to wipe the pan out between cakes (off the heat!) to avoid too burning the oil and tainting your pancakes. You will have a stack ready to go in no time.
Serve them piled high with dipping sauce and a little Sriracha.

Happy Pancake Day!


I might not have found my perfect zen yet but I can make a pretty good sauce…

I’ve been doing lots of yoga type things since I got to Sydney and while I find them nice and relaxing most of the time, the whole ‘clear your mind’ thing doesn’t really work for me and I invariably find that I end up deep in meditation on how I can better a recipe…I’ve dedicated many a bikram session to baking and I think a recent near perfect pavalova was a result of this.

I'm gonna try this move next week. Photograph: Lisa Larsen/Getty Images/Time Life Pictures

So last week when I ended up in a 2-hour meditation class (Thanks Susie!) hollandaise was on my mind as I had promised someone at work I would show them how easy it is. Turns out it’s a lot easier than meditating.

All we had to do was repeat a chant – something like ‘Waa Hey Guru’ but firstly I had to concentrate so hard not to bleat out ‘Baa Ram Ewe’ like the Sheep in Babe and then the girls beside me got fits of giggles whenever anyone chanted funny. It was very contagious laughter. Then we had to lie down and listen to some ‘relaxing’ music (I thought it was the sound track from a Hitchcock movie. I could almost feel the birds swooping!) so I turned my mind to perfecting easy hollandaise and here’s what I came up with…

Easy to remember what you need 3,2,1…as in 3 egg yolks, 200g melted salted butter and 1 big squeeze of lemon.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy

Buy good quality eggs as fresh as you can – you will taste the difference…

Make your sauce in a very clean bowl over some boiling water in a pan, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. This is a much gentler heat and will help avoid the egg scrambling.

Steamy = Saucy

So it’s your 3 yolks into bowl, whisking…Put it over the heat. Add the melted butter a bit at a time whisking throughout. If it’s looking like it will scramble take it off the heat.

Keep going, add your lemon, then warm/cook it gently until it is saucy. EASY PEASY. If you want poached eggs to go with it you can leave it over the water but off the heat to keep it warm.

When it coats the back of a spoon you know it's ready to go. Egg-cellent.

POACHED EGGS – now I know everyone has a tip for poached eggs, but I think only two (or maybe 3) things matter.

Gooey goodness every time

Use the FRESHEST eggs you can get. All the tricks and tips in the world won’t help an old egg.

Use a big deep saucepan and make sure the water is really bubbling boiling.

Crack your eggs into a small dish first and then drop them into the water, getting as close to the water as you can.

Have a slotted spoon and some paper towel ready for draining.

When the water sort of expands in that eggy ghosty sort of way turn off the heat and leave the eggs in the water for 2-3 minutes depending on how you want them cooked, just fish them out and take a look. You know they are done when the bit where the white meets the yolk is opaque.

Don’t worry if they are all wispy, you can trim them to make them look pretty – This is what the restaurants do!

So any suggestions on a recipe to get me through my next yoga session?

Eveleigh (SUPER) Market & easy suppers

It's fun to shop!

Remember when the supermarket was fun??? When there were free tastings on every aisle and pushing the trolley provided an inordinate thrill?  Alas those days seem long gone, 20 years later and paying for my own groceries, the supermarket is where I head for boring basics, BOGOFs and cheap booze.  So where to look these days for foodie shopping thrills? Why the ubiquitous farmers market of course!

Now I know this idea is nothing new – I’ve been swinging my eco bag full of sourdough, Comte and venison sausages as long as the next person.  But, the goodthing about the ridiculous price of groceries in Sydney is that it means shopping at the local farmers market is much of a muchness price wise so you may as well grab your hand woven Moroccan basket (Oh and maybe a dog and a pair of Wayfarers), bypass Coles and Woollies and head down to your local market. You will not be disappointed, and I can guarantee the coffee be better.

To market, to market - photo from Eveleigh Markets

Last Saturday I left behind the supermarket shiny floors and noisy plastic bags and headed what I’m told is one of Sydney’s best – Eveleigh Farmers Market, where you can pick up local fruit, vegetables and meat galore straight from the farmer, a cheese tray of delicious Australian fromage for $10 and my favourite bargain a tray of  organic eggs for $5.

Here’s a few quick notes/ recipes from the bounty – a lovely roast organic chook, amazing roast beetroot and a quick 30 minute recipe for lamb leg that is fast becoming a mid week staple…

Poultry emotion....


You will need –

A lovely bird – mine was from Thirlmere Poultry at Eveleigh

Butter or oil

Salt & pepper

And if you have them – Lemon, garlic, thyme and a handful of veg (carrots/ celery/ onion)

And now for the easy part…

Turn your oven on to 220c. Chop up some veg and pop it in a baking tray to make a trellis to sit your chicken on. (Then the juices with gather here if you want to make a gravy and the veg with taste amazing)

Remove the giblets from the chicken if they are in there and run your chicken under cold water to wash and then pat dry with a towel.

Smother your bird in butter or olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.Fill the cavity with a lemon chopped in half, a head of garlic chopped and a bunch of thyme or any hard herbs you may have.

Cross the legs and tie them closed if you have string, I’d run out the day I did this so my bird was a little loose…still delicious though!

Birds eye view

Put the chook in the oven at 220c for 10 mins then turn it down to 180 and cook for about an hour and 20 mins depending on the size. I usually do 10 minutes on high and then reduce to 180c and cook for another 20 minutes for every 500g of bird. You can check it’s cooked by sticking a knife into the crease by the leg, if the juices run clear it’s cooked.

Remove from the oven, cover with foil and leave to rest for at least 20-30 minutes. It will stay hot. Then carve up and enjoy…


Let the beet rock

So easy – cover the beetroot with cold water and boil until soft enough for a knife to go through (usually about 25 – 30 minutes). Drain and leave for a few minutes then peel them easily by donning a thick pair of Marigolds and rubbing them – the skin will slide off. Cut up into quarters, sprinkle over some oil, salt and pepper and put in the oven at 180 – 200c and roast for about 30 – 40 mins.

Also if the leaves on your bunch are nice don’t throw them – you can eat them like you would chard. I blanch mine and put them in beetroot risotto before serving.

Just beet-iful


(thank ewe to Matt Vines for this easy number)

Un-baah-lievabley easy and tasty

Even easier – Turn your oven onto 180c. Just rub the lamb with whatever you have in your cupboard – mustard, garlic, oil and salt and pepper are ideal. A few sprigs of rosemary will be exceptional. Leave it for as many minutes as you can and then pan fry it in a big pan to seal and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes if you like it very pink and anything up to 40 minutes should be good for a more medium audience.

Anyone else got great market recommendations or recipes?

Eveleigh Market is held every Saturday ‘rain, hail or shine’ as it is located under the heritage listed Blacksmiths Workshop.