Monday, January 12, 2009

The perfect summer day

Nothing represents summer in Melbourne better than a picnic and jazz in the garden. Like every other summer, Stonnington city council held their annual Jazz in the Garden. My favourite summer event in Melbourne. Last weekend it was held at Victoria Garden, just a skip and a hop away from my place. Last weekend Melbourne was blessed with an abundance of sun with a mild crisp wind. A weather that must not be spent indoors.

I went to the farmer’s market at Caulfield last Saturday, and bought plenty of fruit and vegs. I must say, i went juuussstt a little bit too far with my grocery shopping. Who can’t resist fresh, crisp and colourful vegies anyways? I bought enough to feed me well and truly through the month, although I’m going on a holiday in less than 2 weeks. So this picnic, the food is all on me. I made potato salad for the entry, chicken pot pie for the main, and orange-apple-berry sangria for the dessert. I wanted to make my own puff pastry since I’m due for making some croissant, but since we have 2 BBQs to attend before the picnic, I opt for the store bought ready-made puff pastry this time.

Cold-fresh fruity wine with a stomach full of food while lying in the grass and jazzy music in the background.. This is my definition of the “perfect summer day”.

Potato Salad with Facon (yes, you read it right. It’s kosher’s version of bacon, *fake-bacon*. You can say that this is the halal version of Potato Salad)

Serves 6-8 people


1kg Desiree/russet potatoes, cleaned, don’t peel off the skin
2 stalks of spring onion, finely sliced
100g of facon, sliced (or bacon if your guest doesn’t need to eat halal food)
3 eggs, hard boiled
200g of steamed or boiled corn kernels
1 cup of good quality mayonnaise
1 cup of sour cream
1/5 - 1 tbs of lemon juice
salt & peper to taste


1. Boil the potatoes & eggs in a slightly salted water until tender (about 5-10 mins, depending on the size of the potatoes).

2. While the potatoes are boiling, combine sour cream, mayo, lemon juice and a dash of salt & pepper. Set aside.

3. While its still hot, cut the potatoes into 2cm cubes and slice the eggs into quarters, set aside. Pour the sauce to the potatoes and the eggs, set aside to cool and to allow the sauce to penetrate the potatoes.

4. After completely cooled, add corn and facon, mix well.

Chicken Pot Pie (inspired by a recipe from Nigella Lawson)

Serves 6-8 people


5 pieces of thigh fillets, cut into 2cm cubes
100g of cauliflower, cut into about 1.5cm cubes
3 carrots, peeled & thinly sliced
a handful of green beans, cut into 3 cm sticks
200g of swiss brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup of dry white wine
1 tbs fresh/dried thyme sprigs
5tbs of unsalted butter
2tbs of olive oil
200ml of chicken stock
1-1.5 cups of thickened cream
1 packet of ready-made frozen puff pastry, thawed
1tbs of cornflour mixed with 3 tbs of water


1. In a large skillet, heat butter and oil. Stir fry the onion and garlic until fragrant, add in the chicken. (you can also try this recipe with roast chicken). Brown the chicken and add the chicken stock & wine, cook until you can’t smell the alcohol from the wine.

2. Add the vegies and thyme, cook until the vegies are slightly tender. Add cream, and cook for a further 1-2 minutes. Add cornflour to thickened the sauce, cook until the vegies are tender. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

3. Preheat the oven to 200o-210oC. Take one sheet of puff pastry, cut into 3 cm strips. Line the rim of your ramekins or baking dish with the puff pastry strips. Make sure that it covers the rims on every side of your baking dish. Take one more sheet of puff pastry, cut it depending on the size of your dish. Make sure you leave about 3cm border around to seal the pastry to the dish. For example, if your dish is 20cm round, cut the puff pastry to a circle 26cm in diameter. Set aside.

4. Fill your dish with the creamy chicken, leaving about 2 cm from the rim. Cover the dish with the puff pastry, score it with a knife & fork for decorations and preventing from blowing up in the oven. Brush it with eggwash by combining one egg with 2 tbs of water.

5. Bake for 25-35 mins or until golden, and puff pastry is ‘puffed’.

6. Serve immediately


Serves 8-12 people


2 granny smith apples, sliced thinly & quartered
2 oranges, sliced thinly & quartered
1 punnet of raspberry
1 punnet of blackberry
750ml of good red wine (I used 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon), preferably chilled overnight.
2x 600ml of sprite or lemonade
½ cup of brandy or cognac (optional – I didn’t end up using cognac, as the alcohol from the wine was strong enough, and I have a guest who doesn’t drink)
juice of ½ lemon

Combine wine, lemon juice and lemonade. Add the fruits, stir well. Put ice cubes, or chilled in the fridge.


  1. Yay, the first to comment on this entry :) I guess I am the special one huh? That potato salad is definitely for me.. hahaha...

    Great job my dear, can't wait for more special cooking from you.

  2. Second Comment!! ahahhahaha.. Tiiii cantik sekali blog nyaaa..