Saturday, 26 November 2011


Pork Crackling Snacks

OK these are just terrible for you health-wise, but if you’re making a pork dish and you’ve got a lot of skin you’re not using, then don’t throw it away – make these pork crackling snacks!

Chicharrón are popular all over Spain and central & south America (and the Philippines), I suppose it's not a surprise when you consider how popular pork is across the region and the people's skills when it comes to cooking up all the bits and pieces of the animal.

There are other recipes out there that dry the boiled skins out in the oven on low heat for hours and hours and hours so when you deep fry them they puff up into light and airy treats. Admittedly these are much better but they take ages to make.I'm too lazy.

My recipe is much less labour intensive because the longest cooking time is the boiling, where you can throw the skins into water and walk away as they boil. Much less hassle than watching strips of pork skin slowly dry out in an open oven.

When it came to the deep-frying part, this is where I got ridiculously girly. The oil was spitting like crazy and I’m ashamed to say I hid behind Jonas who bravely did the hard work on this one.

In this recipe, ingredients do not have amounts because it’s a rustic dish and it’s best to make it all by feel depending on how much skin you're using.

As long as you make sure you have enough oil for deep frying, nothing else matters.


Anna's very own recipe.

Pork skin
Rock salt
White vinegar
Vegetable oil, for frying
Black pepper
Garlic powder
Salt flakes


1. Cut away as much meat and fat as you can from the back of the pig skin. Ensure hairs have been removed too.

2. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add a little rock salt and a dash of white vinegar.

3. Boil skin for around 2 hours or until the skin is soft and the remaining fat can be scraped off the back. Cut into strips.

4. Fill a deep pot with at least 5cm of oil and heat until a cube of bread goes brown in 30 seconds.

5. Dust pig skin with paprika, pepper and garlic powder.

6. Deep fry skin until curled and crispy. (careful, the oil will spit like crazy!)

7. Drain on kitchen paper, dust with more paprika and salt flakes and serve immediately while still crunchy.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

vanilla & rhubarb soda

The weather in Sydney has been awful. And by awful I mean hot.

All winter I have been looking forward to the warmer months, longing to slip into a pair sandals, drift about in light summer dresses and laze in the afternoon sunlight.

Hmmm. It seems I forgot that my sandals get so hot my feet slide about, the summer dresses stick rather than drift and the afternoon sun is less tropical holiday and more lost in the desert.

Yes, it’s been stinking hot.

Sweaty, nasty, sticky hot. Melting, searing, muggy hot. The kind of heat that trickles down your back and chaffs at your thighs.

Now I’m begging for winter to return.

But today was wonderful. The sun was out, and yet the wind was cool and refreshing, and Jonas’ mamma is visiting from Sweden.

We started the day off with brunch at the Abercrombie Hotel, with my sisters Stinky and Shamu, and strong man Tombolina. The Abercrombie make the world’s best cheeseburger [no arguing!] not to mention awesome lageritas and cameltoes [drinks people!].

As Jonas declared at the end of the meal “that burger was an express ticket to Flavour Country”. Indeed.

With our guts full of delicious burger, we waddled through the back streets of Darlington and the purple jacaranda lanes of Sydney Uni before hitting the hubbub of the Newtown festival.

The festival was too much for me. Waaaay too many people, no where to sit, drunks lurching unpredictably, gangs of hipster youths looking ironic, yummy mummies with strollers, hippies with unleashed dogs.

I was exasperated after 5 seconds and decided I’m too old for this shit.

Instead we headed to a more civilised bar and drank frozen margaritas while a random band played some surprisingly good tunes.

Great day.

Now that I’m home, the only thing that can save me at the end of a scorching hot day is an ice cold beverage.

And what better than a soda flavoured with a home-made syrup? Simple, but just a little bit fancy.

Try this little jewel on for size and tell me you don’t love it!

Vanilla & Rhubarb Soda

450g rhubarb
3 cups sugar
3 cups water
1 vanilla pod
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Chilled soda water


1. Split the vanilla pod in half, then combine all ingredients (except soda water!) in a pot and simmer for around 15 minutes or until rhubarb is very soft and liquid has turned a pretty pink.

2. At this point you can choose between:
- Clear Syrup: strain the ingredients (through muslin) and allow it to drip through for a few hours until the liquid has passed. Return to stove and reduce by a third. OR
- Chunky Syrup: puree softened rhubarb in blender with the syrup. (I prefer this one!)

3. Store syrup in the fridge until ready to use.

4. For a rhubarb drink, add chilled soda water and mix well. Feel free throw in a little vodka for an extra kick.

Friday, 11 November 2011

aceitunas rellenas fritas

stuffed, fried olives

First off I just want to say that I am quite a bit auspicious when it comes to numbers. I am particularly fond of 1s, 3s and 7s and 11:11 is a very special time of day when I close my eyes and make a wish!

Today is the 11th Day of the 11th month of the 11th year of our century. That's pretty special in my books, so I plan to make the biggest wish ever at the 11th second of the 11th minute of this day.

~ ~ ~
But let's move onto the food!

I recently wrote a guest blog post for a blog celebrating Olives and Olive Oil from Spain. Although I will include my recipe here, you should definitely visit this site of you want to read my story and learn about all the olive varieties Spain has to offer. There are hundreds!

The recipe I cooked for them was stuffed, fried olives!

My favourite thing about tapas is that you can drink all night and never get drunk. The constant grazing lines your stomach and allows you to enjoy a myriad of delicacies and drinks without regretting anything the next day. It’s a wonderful invention!

This particular tapa is great in cooler weather, but it’s good enough to eat any time of year. Just take your preferred variety of stuffed olives (anchovies, cheese, tomatoes, capsicum) cover in this cheesy, spicy batter and fry until crispy.

There’s a dash of beer in the batter, but that’s just a convenient excuse to finish off a cold one while you cook. The chef’s privilege!

Serves these snacks with a crisp white wine, an ice cold beer or a tangy cider, all Spanish of course!

Aceitunas Rellenas Fritas (Stuffed Green Olives)

Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 4 as tapa / appetiser.

200g large green olives from Spain (I prefer stuffed varieties without pips)
1½ cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 tablespoon (20ml) beer
1 tablespoon (20ml) chilli sauce
4 tablespoons (about 50g) grated manchego cheese
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil from Spain, for deep frying


1) Mix together the manchego cheese, chilli sauce, eggs and beer. Add salt and pepper.

2) Add 1 cup panko crumbs to the liquid and mix roughly into a paste.

3) Wipe the olives with kitchen paper so their surface is dry, then coat them with the batter paste, forming balls. Set aside to rest.

4) Heat the olive oil until a sprinkle of panko browns in a few seconds.

5) Roll the olive balls in the remaining panko to create a crispy exterior then drop into oil and fry until golden brown.

6) Dust with a smattering of salt and serve hot.


Friday, 4 November 2011

wholemeal blueberry bundt cake


Am I allowed to say that about my own cake?

I don’t care.


One of my oldest pals, Kath (who I met at school when I was just 11 but whom I became close friends with after we finished school aged 18), just had a baby. Little Scott came into this world earlier than expected but completely healthy and complication free.

Before his arrival our other high school comrade, Suzy, hosted a baby shower where we devoured sweet and savoury treats and gossiped about babies, childbirth and our distant youth. As part of my tribute upon the Altar of Baby, I baked this wow-inducing cake.

A few weeks beforehand, the friendly boys that run, offered me my pick of their gourmet online food shop. I greedily snapped up some interesting items like Bitton Milk & Coconut Jam, Australian native dehydrated quandongs and bush tomatoes, smoked almonds, rye flour and this amazing Kialla organic stoneground wholemeal flour.

This flour is made by stone-milling the whole wheat grain sourced from Australian growers with certified organic crops. The final flour is highly nutritious because it contains the bran, germ and endosperm of the wheat. It’s a truly beautiful flour that gives an earthy, richness to your baked recipes.

And the best thing? It's only $5.95 per kilo, which is amazing when you consider the quality.

Having made a very successful apple bundt cake only recently, I decided to stick to a theme that works and developed a recipe using frozen blueberries and the wholemeal flour given to me by It was a masterpiece of rich healthy flavours, crunchy exterior, moist crumbled interior, bursts of fresh berry and all topped off with a pretty, pink sour cream glaze.

Although everyone was quite full by the time we brought the cake out, those that did take a slice were just as happy as I was.

If you decide to make it, I hope you’re happy with it too.

Wholemeal Blueberry Bundt Cake

Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 10-12.

2 eggs
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (40ml) pouring cream or milk
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
3 cups wholemeal flour (I used Kialla Organic & Stoneground)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt flakes
3 cups frozen blueberries, thawed and strained (but juices reserved)


1. Preheat oven to 180’C. Grease a bundt cake tin.

2. In a big mixing bowl, beat eggs.

3. Add sugar, oil, vanilla, lemon juice and zest.

4. Beat in pouring cream (or milk if using).

5. In another bowl combine flour, baking soda, bicarbonate soda, cinnamon, salt and flour.

6. Start adding the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in batches until a sticky mixture is formed.

7. Carefully add blueberries to cake mixture without over mixing and bleeding blueberries throughout batter. To do this, they have to be fairly well drained (or fresh).

8. Pour into bundt cake tin and cook for 45 – 70 minutes (mine took 60 minutes but every oven is different).

9. When the cake is completely cool, drizzle with blueberry & sour cream glaze.

Note: you can easily use fresh blueberries in this recipe without any changes, but just note changes to glaze recipe below.

Blueberry & Sour Cream Glaze

Anna's very own recipe. Makes a lot!

¼ cup blueberries, thawed & juices reserved
Reserved juices from thawing blueberries from cake
100g sour cream
2 cups icing sugar


1. Combine blueberries and their juices in a blender and purée.

2. Strain mixture through a fine sieve or muslin to ensure blueberry skins are removed (discard pulp or use in another recipe). You should have about ¼ cup juices.

3. Put icing sugar in a bowl then beat in the sour cream and half the juice. Check for consistency - it should drizzle in a slow stream from the spoon (ie not too firm and not too runny). Adjust with more juice as needed.

4. Taste to ensure a sweet-sour flavour and a buzz of blueberry.

5. Refrigerate to stiffen slightly before pouring over cake.

Note: if you used fresh blueberries for cake and/or glaze you won’t have the excess liquids to make the glaze, therefore just add a tablespoon of water to the blender.

Kialla organic stoneground wholemeal flour supplied by the friendly folks at the gourmet online food shop

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