Monday, December 22, 2014

Easy Chocolate Truffles

Leaving things until the last minute is not something I enjoy doing. In fact, it stresses me out. I like to plan out my tasks for the day, jot major events in my calendar, and have weekly to do lists to tick off. 

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the organisation kicks up a notch. My Christmas shopping is done by the end of November, the tree is up by the fist week of December, and Christmas dinner is on a Gantt chart ready for the big day.

This year, however, I had no choice.

Weeks of night construction works (say, 10pm to 4am) had me dazed and confused and unable to function during the day. Luckily, that's over now, but there is never a good excuse not to bring something to a dinner party. 

This is where you need something is a guaranteed crowd pleaser and takes minimal effort to prepare -Tim Tam truffles.

With only two ingredients, it's impossible to forget the shopping list. If you have a food processor, crushing the biscuits takes no time at all. Note that I don't actually own one, so I used my mortar and pestle so it did take me a little longer..

The truffles are ready to eat as is or, to make them a little more special, you can roll them in cocoa or dip them in chocolate. They also make fantastic edible gifts.

So if you have left it to the last minute this year, there is still time to make these easy chocolate truffles! Get rolling!

Easy Chocolate Truffles
Recipe adapted from Arnotts

Truffle Ingredients:

2 packets of Tim Tam
250g tub of spreadable cream cheese

Coating Ingredients (optional):

Cocoa powder
Dark chocolate, melted
White chocolate, melted
Flake, crumbled

1. Crush Tim Tams in a food processor to make a crumb.
2. Fold in cream cheese to bind and chill the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Roll the mixture into truffle sized balls (I use a teaspoon) and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
4. Coat the truffles in whatever coating you would like or just eat them as they are.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Raspberry and Pistachio Meringues

Christmas is one of my favourite holidays because it's all about spending time with your family and friends. I know it sounds corny, but life really does take over some times and you suddenly realise you haven't caught up with anyone for months.

I am one of those horrible people that need special occasions as reminders. 

Being Chinese, my family didn't really do Christmas until we came to New Zealand and, even then, it was just for the benefit of us kids. We all knew that Santa wasn't real, but the excitement of having the whole extended family gathered around one table is one of my favourite memories. Now that we are all older and have our own lives, it is even more important to keep up this tradition. 

Since last year, I have inherited Christmas. This means cooking for around 20 or so friends and family with the help of my sous chef, Jason. 

This year, I am working all the way up to Christmas Eve, so we have been looking at things can be prepared ahead of time like these raspberry and pistachio meringues. The toppings give it extra oomph and texture while the red and green provide a Christmas feel. These pictures were just of my test batch and they were devoured in two days -I think they'll be a great hit for the big day!

These would also go well with a cup of tea or wrapped up as an edible gift :)

Have you had the honour of inheriting Christmas yet? Or will you get to enjoy someone else's spoils?

Raspberry and Pistachio Meringues (makes 24)
A Lucyeats Original


6 egg whites, room temperature
350g caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup freeze dried raspberries*
1/2 cup pistachios, shelled
Freeze dried raspberry powder to serve (optional)*


1. Preheat your oven to 110°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. Place egg whites and salt in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.
3. Add the sugar, one teaspoon at a time, while the mixer is running.
4. Once all the sugar has been added, continue to mix until the mixture is thick and glossy. High, stiff peaks should form when you lift the whisk attachment.
5. Gently fold through the freeze dried raspberries
6. Spoon dollops of meringue on to your baking sheets. Each meringue should be about 2 Tablespoons.
7. Roughly crush the pistachio nuts with a mortar and pestle or with a rolling pin.
8. Sprinkle the crushed nuts and raspberry powder over the tops of the meringues.
9. Bake in the oven for one hour. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues for at least two hours. Leave them in the oven overnight if possible.

These should last up to 3 weeks in an air tight container.

*You shouldn't need to travel far for freeze dried raspberries and raspberry powder. I used the Fresh-As brand from my local supermarket.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Chinese Braised Pork Ribs and Pickled Cucumber

One of the highlights of my day is to wind down while cooking dinner. I spend my commute home trying to remember what is left in the fridge and figure how to combine them into something that is dinner worthy. Sometimes, the combinations are pretty average but, every once in a while, the stars align and the result is something worth sharing.

My Chinese Braised Pork is something I'm reasonable proud of as it wowed both Jason and our flatmate, John Dory. Because of its ability to save me a lot of time, the pressure cooker my parents gifted me is fast becoming a favourite. Unlike traditional braising methods, you don't have to wait hours for delicious, melt-in-your-mouth meat. It's a kitchen item that I would recommend to anyone in a heartbeat!

Paired with the pickled cucumber and a bowl of hot steamed rice, it is a delicious meal that won't take too much time out of your day. 

Tell me, dear reader, what is your favourite kitchen tool and what is your go-to quick dinner meal?

Chinese Braised Pork Ribs and Pickled Cucumber
A Lucyeats original


Braised Pork:

2 Tbs vegetable oil
750g thick cut short ribs
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup Shaoxing wine
2 star anise
1 stick cinnamon, roughly broken up
10 whole black peppercorns
1 Tbs crushed rock sugar
1 Tbs rice vinegar
1/4 cup light soy sauce
2 cups water

Pickled Cucumber:
1 tele cucumber, sliced or diced into bite sized pieces
2 1/2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs water
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs sesame oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 medium sized fresh red chili


1. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker and sear the ribs on all sides. Do this in batches, if required. Remove the ribs to a separate bowl.
2. Add Shaoxing wine to de-glaze the bottom of the pot. Use a spatula to remove any bits stuck to the bottom.
3. Return the pork and add the remaining ingredients. 
4. Lock the lid to the pressure cooker and cook on high until pressure is reached.
5. Turn the heat to low and cooker for a further 20 minutes.
6. Make your pickled cucumber by combining all the pickled cucumber ingredients together and chill in the fridge while you wait for your pork to cook.