Winter Warmers: Pea and Ham Soup Recipe

My mother in law makes great soup, and this is one of my favorites. Perhaps once again it is the meat factor, I love the fact that this recipe uses a smoked ham hock which is nice and fatty (just the way I like it!) and the ingredients are so common which makes this soup so easy and simple to make.

This recipe is actually printed on the back of the McKenzie's Green Split Peas 500g packet, so it only makes sense that I post this recipe on my blog so I never lose it! Although, come to think of it I need those green split peas to make this soup anyway, which means I will need to buy the packet, which means the recipe will always be there..... but we never know! The packaging might change someday so here I am making sure this recipe never goes missing!

500g McKenzie's Green Split Peas
3 carrots, diced
3 celery sticks, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced (I love garlic so I use at least 5 cloves)
1 smoked ham hock (trimmed of fat)
1 reduced salt chicken stock cube
12 cups water
1 bay leaf
McKenzie's Pepper Grinder to taste

Wash green split peas and pick over to remove any discoloured grain. Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Cover and simmer for approximately 1-1.5 hours or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Remove hock and prepare by removing skin, dice ham and set aside. Discard bay leaf.

Puree soup in a food processor or blender.

Add ham back into pureed soup and stir through.

Season to taste with pepper. Garnish with parsley or coriander if desired.

Georgio's Seafood & Steak House, Beaconsfield

Photo credit:
Hubby and I rarely go out to dinner these days because of our 6-month old son. Back when he was a newborn, it was a lot easier to take him out at night because he would just sleep either in his capsule or his pram. Now that he is older, he is much to alert to fall asleep in public and he gets too grumpy if he stays awake.

A few weeks ago, our friends had friends visiting from the United States so they have invited us to join them for dinner at Georgio's Seafood and Steak House in Beaconsfield. I have always heard great things about this restaurant from these friends of ours, but never been there until that night. We organised for my sister in law to babysit our son for a couple of hours so we could go out to dinner. It was FANTASTIC! I am salivating just as I organise my photos ready for this post...

GARLIC SCALLOPS baked in the shell with creamy garlic and spring onion sauce
Usually I like to present my photos in the order of which it was served, but today I'd like to post them in order of preference! My favorite dish that night was my entree of Garlic Scallops. I don't know why I have always preferred my entree dishes and always end up wishing I had more! My scallops were perfectly cooked just right, not overcooked at all, melts in your mouth. The garlic sauce was so delicious, even after the scallops were gone I used the leftover sauce as a dipping sauce for my bread roll. I am also crazy about spring onions (I add spring onions to almost anything I cook!) so I absolutely loved the combination of the scallops, garlic sauce and the spring onions. I cannot wait to go back just to have another serve of this dish!

FILLET AU POIVRE - Pepper Steak - eye fillet topped with a creamy peppercorrn and sweet sherry sauce served with baked escalloped potatoes and salad garnish
A very close second favorite dish of the night is my main meal, the Pepper Steak. I ordered my steak medium rare and it was cooked so perfectly I cleaned up my plate! Once again I was very impressed with the sauce, it was SO delicious I wish I could've licked my plate haha. The side dishes were fairly average and doesn't really stand out, but it didn't matter because the steak was just beautiful.

Baked Alaska - oven baked raspberry swirl sponge, ice cream & meringue
 My dessert arrived with fireworks! It was very cool, but I think it was way too big for me. The bottom layer was basically the raspberry sponge cake, then the middle layer had way too much ice cream and the top layer of the meringue was lovely because I do love my meringue, hehe. It was an alright dessert, but I do love my warm puddings and wondered why they didn't have my favorite Sticky Date Pudding on the menu!

Now that I've finished reviewing meals that I actually ate... let's check out some food porn below :)

My cocktail for the night: Blue Lagoon
Fresh bread rolls to start - they were still very warm the butter melted on them!
EYE FILLET with Garlic Butter
Hubby had GEORGIO'S STEAK - eye fillet topped with prawns and scallops in a creamy sauce. I don't know, I'm still not a big fan or the "Surf N Turf" concept.. I still think seafood and meat should be served and enjoyed separately!
Our meals were also served with a plate of veggies to share
Vanilla Creme Brulee
Special for the night: Chocolate Creme Brulee! I actually had a taste.. it was deliciously chocolatey warm gooey sticky yummy!
Hubby had the Apple Fritters with Ice Cream and Maple Syrup - again with the generous portion!

Georgio's Seafood & Steak on Urbanspoon

Homemade Whole Roast Duck Recipe

I love meat. I am an absolute carnivore. I highly doubt that a day goes by without me consuming meat or products that are made of animals. Apologies to all vegetarians out there, I think it's great that you do not consume meat and I have nothing but the utmost respect for you especially if the reason for not eating meat is to take a stand against cruelty in animal farming... but I am just not convicted. In fact, I am SO thankful for meat. Now I'm starting to sound like a little child saying "Thank you God for peanut butter" haha. In all seriousness, thank you God for MEAT!

Duck is high up on my list of favorite foods but it is impossible choose my ultimate favorite. I suppose that's when you know you are a true foodie. There is way too many favorite dishes to choose from as the ultimate favorite. I don't remember the first moment in my life when Roast Duck was introduced to my palate. All I know is, I have known Roast Duck as one of my favorite foods my whole life. Growing up, I have fond memories of going to Hong Kong Noodle House, a Chinese restaurant in my hometown Kuching (in Malaysia), most Sundays after church and ordering Roast Duck with Rice or Noodles.

Here in Melbourne, I also have fond memories of having Roast Duck Rice from South Melbourne Market for lunch when I was still at work (haven't been for 7 months now since I've been on maternity leave!) as well as wonderful memories of authentic crispy roast duck from Simon's Peking Duck as well as a few other places. Basically, I love duck.

Which is why it was only a matter of time before I start roasting my own duck at home for my duck fix. Luv-A-Duck has a great range of delicious ready to eat duck and only recently I've indulged in many rolls of Peking Duck. However, I haven't cooked a whole roast duck in years!

This recipe was passed on to me by a friend's mum. Her recommendation was to steam the duck for approx. 90 minutes before roasting it in the oven to get the skin to crisp. Unfortunately, my steamer is too small for this duck so I had to improvise and slow roast it in the oven instead. I was pretty happy with the taste of the duck - the marinades blended with the natural flavours of the duck perfectly! Sadly, because I was too busy multi-tasking aka looking after my 6-month old son as well as check on the duck every now and then, I didn't get to supervise my duck closely enough and as a result my skin wasn't crispy. I couldn't leave it in the oven any longer than I already did to crispen the skin because I didn't want the meat to dry out. So my skin wasn't crispy, but it was still delicious nevertheless! I will post the recipe below as described by my friend's mum so you will get the best result! Good luck and have yummy fun when it's time to tuck in!

1 whole duck
Five Spice Chinese powder
Salt and pepper to taste

For the stuffing
100g butter, softened
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 onions, chopped
2 tsp garlic mince
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

For the glaze
1 tbsp Char Siu sauce
2 tbsp Kecap Manis (Sweet Soy Sauce)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sesame oil

To make the stuffing, combine all ingredients listed for the stuffing and stuff it into the duck. Rub the duck generously with five spice powder, salt and pepper.

Steam the duck in a large steamer for approx 90 minutes. If you don't have a steamer large enough to fit the duck, place the duck in a roasting dish, add 1 cup of water and cover with aluminium foil. Ensure dish is well sealed by foil. Cook in the oven for 90 minutes on 140C.

To make the glaze, mix all the ingredients mentioned above. Remove foil from the roasting dish, add 5 tbsp of the juices from the dish into the glaze mix. Discard all the remaining juices so the roasting dish is now dry. Glaze the skin of the duck with the mixture on both sides.

Place the roasting dish back into the oven and increase the oven temperature to 180C. Roast each side of the duck for approx. 20 minutes, or until the skin is crispy.

Serving Suggestion: Roast Duck with Roast Potatoes & Onions, Steamed Brocollini

Serve with desired side dishes. Roast duck goes really well with roast potatoes, steamed veggies, in a Chinese Peking Duck pancake with cucumber, spring onions and Hoi Sin Sauce or on a steamed bed of rice.

Serving Suggestion: Peking Duck Pancakes with Cucumber, Spring Onion & Hoi Sin Sauce

Recipes: Easy 15-Minute Weeknight Meals

I have to admit there were many nights when I just couldn't be bothered to cook dinner. I'm sure a lot of you can relate. Whether you're a full time mum, or a full time worker, or you work multiple part-time jobs, or you are a student, or you're a mum AND a worker.. some nights you just cannot be bothered. It is too easy to get takeaway but the cost of takeaway can very quickly add up and make meals quite expensive. On nights like these, instead of getting takeaway I gather up all the little energy I have left to cook up one of these quick and easy (and delicious!) meals:

1. Chicken Stirfry Noodles

1 packet Hokkien Noodles
2 chicken thigh fillets, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 onion, sliced
Brocolli florets
1 capsicum, sliced
2 carrots, sliced thinly
4 tbsp Lee Kum Kee Chicken Marinade sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil

In a wok, heat oil and cook garlic and onion until fragrant. Add chicken and stirfry until just turning brown. Add brocolli, capsicum and carrots and stirfry until veggies are just tender. Add hokkien noodles and chicken marinade sauce. Stirfry until noodles are cooked. Serve hot.

2. Homemade Burgers

Bread rolls
Meat patties, grilled
Bacon, grilled
Tomatoes, sliced
Cheese slices
Pineapple slices
Eggs, fried
Butter for the bread
Tomato / chilli sauce

Use desired ingredients to assemble and make your perfect burger!

3. Homemade Nachos

2 packets corn chips
1 jar hot salsa
Sour cream
4 avocados, mashed (+ a bit of cream to make guacamole)
Grated cheese
Bacon, sliced and chopped into small pieces, pan fried to brown
Spring onions, chopped

Place corn chips into an oven proof dish. Drizzle hot salsa all over the top and sprinkle grated cheese all over the top. Heat in the oven at 150C for approx. 10 minutes or until cheese has melted.

Remove dish from the oven. Top with large spoons of sour cream and guacamole. Sprinkle bacon bits and spring onion all over the top and serve immediately.