Friday, June 14, 2013

The world through the eyes of Ping Lian Yeak

A beautiful interpretation Of Sydney's Opera House by artist Ping Lian Yeak (
I adore The Rocks in Sydney. Not only am I lucky enough to live nearby, it's

where I spend my work days. The history and stories ooze out of every sandstone block in the area. The atmosphere weighs heavily with whispers from the past that are itching to get into your psyche and ignite your imagination. I find the air electric - it may have something to do with the fact that I am a history nerd and it happens to be my line of work - but the ghosts of the past definitely linger through the dark, narrow alleyways and sandstone blocks that make up so many of the beautiful buildings in the area.

Weekends at The Rocks are abuzz with crowds flocking to weekend markets. We love to pop down for a walk and sticky-beak. It was during a recent visit that I came across a beautiful market stall run by Sarah,  mother of a young man called Ping Lian Yeak. Sarah sells his wonderful works of art and is more than happy to share the amazing story of her son's foray into the world of expression through art.
Sydney's Queen Victoria Building as seen through the eyes of
young artist, Ping Lian.

Born in Malaysia in 1993, Ping Lian was diagnosed with Autism at a very early age and as way of developing and strengthening his fine motor skills, was encouraged to trace pictures and colour them in. By the time he was 8 years of age, he had moved onto drawing and hasn't stopped since. I fell in love with so many of his works but bought the two prints pictured in this entry. I am a sucker for detail and the attention to detail in these prints is stunning. 

Ping Lian has been the subject of numerous documentaries and has featured in numerous books and his passion for drawing and painting continues to blossom. 

So if you are ever wondering how to spend either a Saturday or Sunday morning, make your way over to The Rocks Market and keep an eye out for Sarah and Ping Lian. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

San Choy Bow goodness

I cheated tonight. I was even going to lie to you and put up a recipe claiming that that was  I had used for tonight's dinner. But I didn't because I was too tired to write it all down and my husband threatened to expose my lies. So I will come clean. Tonight's dinner was not made from scratch. But it was super easy and apart from the sauce, it's all natural.

So what is it? I used the Asia@Home pack to make San Choy Bow. My kids love it and it literally only takes 15 minutes to make. You just need the kit, lettuce (I use cos but iceberg would work well too) and spring onions and you are ready to go. I gave them a delicious miso (yep, cheated on that one too) to start off with and then straight into the chicken mince although pork mince is as equally nice.

This is a great one for those nights when cooking isn't at the top of your priority list.

Have a great night everyone and stay tuned for the most delicious bolognese sauce ever - thanks to Bill and Toni of Bill and Toni's Italian Restaurant, Darlinghurst fame.

Here is a San Choy Bow recipe if you prefer to make it from scratch...
Pork San Choy Bow

Monday, June 3, 2013

Easy and delicious - homemade flour tortillas with pulled pork (carnitas)

One of the things I miss most from our years spent living in Los Angeles is the easy access to cheap and delicious Mexican food. We have had minimal luck finding authentic ('Californian') Mexican food since coming home 10 years ago so we decided it was up to us to try and re-create the flavours that we miss so much in our own home.

One of our favourite taco and burrito fillings is carnitas - braised or 'pulled' pork - tender, juicy and more-ish. So I attempted to make my own version of carnitas based on a braised pork ragu recipe I found in an old Donna Hay magazine. The result was quite literally, finger-licking good.

The recipe itself is easy - but takes about three hours to cook. The best thing about the ragu is that you can combine it with pasta, mash, couscous or rice. So just freeze any leftovers and pull out on a night when you are feeling too lazy/ tired to cook from scratch. Reheat, throw some gnocchi in a pot and you are good to go.

I have also included the recipe for home-made tortillas. Once you have tried these, you will never go back to the packaged ones. I love making food from scratch and knowing exactly what goes into the meals I prepare for my family.  Authentic, simple and delicious. Enjoy!

Carnitas/ Ragu

A pot that can be placed in the oven and used over a stove. If your pot can't do both, do as I do and prepare in a saucepan and then prior to placing in the oven, transfer the food into an oven-proof pot.
1 kg of pork roast or pork neck
plain flour to dust the pork with
2 tablespoons of olive oil
150 grams of chopped pancetta
1 medium-sized brown onion - chopped
2 carrots - peeled and chopped
2 cloves of thinly sliced garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 cups/ 500ml of red wine (don't forget to taste it just to ensure it tastes ok - that's my excuse)
2 cups/ 500ml chicken stock
4 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
6 sprigs of oregano
Patience (it will smell delicous and you will want to devour it almost immediately)

Preheat the oven to 180C.
I chopped up my roast into 4 portions. Dust the pork in flour and give it a good shake to remove any excess.
Add the oil to your pot and heat. Time to brown the pork so pop it in- should take about 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Throw the pancetta into the pot and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and carrot and cook for about 7 minutes on medium heat.
Follow this with the tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add the wine (again, I just take a quick sip to ensure it's still ok) and cook for 3 minutes - don't forget to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any food that may be sticking to the bottom.
In goes the stock, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves and oregano. Give it a good stir and return the pork to the pot.
Cover with a tight-fitting lid and pop it into the oven for 2 hours.
Once the two hours are done, shred the pork using two forks, return it to the sauce and get ready for some lip-smacking goodness.



3 cups of plain flour
1 cup of warm water
1 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup of vegetable oil (I use Rice Bran Oil)
1 can Spray-On Oil (vegetable or olive)

Mix all of the ingredients together. 
Roll dough into a large ball. 
Pull off palm-sized balls of the dough and either push into a flat, thin circle in your hands or use a rolling pin to do it. The key is thin and round. It may take a few goes to get it right - it took me a couple but managed to master it surprisingly early. 

Spray a frying pan with olive oil (or vegetable oil)
Place tortilla on the pan and cook until the familiar brown spots start appearing on the tortilla. It shouldn't take long at all so keep an eye on them and make sure they don't over-cook.
I wrapped mine in aluminium foil to keep them warm whilst the others cooked.

You can make a simple salsa of chopped tomatoes, coriander and red onion to make it even more authentic. My kids love to throw in some lettuce and cheese to complete the soft-shelled tacos.

I hope you give this one a go - it really is delicious.