What’s for dinner? Some things I ate, July 2013

A street in Bankstown with lots of signs in Vietnamese

We went to the Bankstown Bites food Fair. This was interesting and fun. Bankstown in Sydney’s western suburbs, is positioning itself as a food destination. It is culturally mixed with strong Vietnamese and Lebanese/Arabic communities. The local Council runs the festival with food stalls and themed tours of restaurants and shops. We went on the Saigon tour. If you are going to find out about local cultures and their food, participation in these kinds of events is a good intro.


I am food obsessed. I love to eat and over the past few years I have begun to love to cook. However, I seem to have a memory like a sieve. I forget what I have cooked or eaten, so I decided to start keeping an occasional record (below) of some of the things I am eating.


Tuscan sage chicken with soft polenta.

A great meal, browned chicken, then cooked with wine, sage leaves and dry-cured olives. Tastes great the next day. We love polenta though it is only recently that we have started to cook with it. We are concerned about its healthiness. Served with steamed cauliflower and baked sweet potato. Inexpensive and easy to cook.

The recipe came from “Winter Cooking’, a Penguin collection of recipes p.281.


We ate some sweets with a black coffee at Sweets of Lebanon, Bankstown. A great cultural and interesting culinary experience. We will return. Wish I could remember the name of the cheese slice eaten as a sweet. Fantastic!


Caramel Salmon

This tastes better than it sounds. Chinese inspired, a lightly browned salmon pieces and a sweet soy and onion sauce. This is a regular at our dinner table. Salmon is the only expense, 600 gms cost $22.

Recipe from ‘Everyday’ – Bill Granger p144.

English Spinach, chinese style

We served this with an English Spinach, chinese style with a garlic and chicken stock sauce, an adaption from a Snow-pea recipe.

Recipe from ‘My China’ – Kylie Kwong p446.


Gnocci with braised veal and parmesan

This wasn’t too bad. I am keen on Gnocci and will have to make my own one day. I don’t think the veal shanks I bought were great. The butcher is important.

Recipe from Neil Perry’s ‘The Food I Love’ page 132


Penne with Zuccini, Broccolini and Cauliflower

A Neil Perry classic, though not everyone (the kids for example), likes it. You cook some garlic, olive oil, chilli flakes and salt then add the vegetables and slowly braise. Add it to the pasta, it is wonderful.

Neil Perry’s recipe book is really good, not only are there many good recipes, but he gives an interesting and informative overview of the dish and then a few permutations on the idea.

Recipe from Neil Perry’s ‘The Food I Love’ page 128


Florentine Roast Pork

Basically a roast dinner of pork shoulder seasoned with rosemary and garlic. Daughter and friend loved it. We didn’t think it was much to write home (blog) about. Pork is great value.

The taste for white wine necessitated opening an old 2000 Petaluma Riesling, probably past its prime but still fantastic.

Recipe from “Winter Cooking’, a Penguin collection of recipes p.304.


A couple of other Neil Perry past recipe’s

A simple tomato sauce

I never would’ve believed that this recipe would be any good, but it is great! I have done a bit of camping this month and it is easy to cook while camping and still tastes good. But, it is a recipe for any time and it goes really well alongside some sausages or bbq’ed meat.

It is olive oil, salt, chilli flakes, sugar, lots of garlic add a can of tomatoes and that’s it. Brilliant.

This recipe is from ‘Rockpool’ Neil Perry, p219


Spaghetti Vongole

This is also a wonderful recipe of a classic Italian dish. I have cooked it with prawns, pipis and clams – getting the clam out of the shell with the wine based sauce is a great eating experience.

Recipe from Neil Perry’s ‘The Food I Love’ page 117


Asian Chicken

We definitely cook this recipe once a month if not once a week. An Asian friend of my mother-in-law gave us this when my wife, Karen was recovering from the birth of our first child and we have been cooking it ever since.

Cut up a whole chicken into pieces, brown lightly in peanut oil. Add garlic and ginger and some Shao Hsing wine, add some water to cover, bring to the boil and then simmer until cooked. A wonderful, if simple, meal that we are thankful for. I added some soy sauce to the sauce before serving which worked well. We often serve this with some steamed peas.


Another pasta dish, Simple easy and tasty.

Angel hair pasta with smoked trout, rocket, chilli and lemon

This is a recipe from the internet that I particularly like. Usually I use a smoked rainbow trout, 300gms or so, but this time I bought a quite oily smoked fish which didn’t work as well.


I also joined a tour of a local Chinese supermarket conducted by a Malaysian born Cantonese woman, Meow. Afterwards we cooked wontons, noodles and chinese mushrooms at her house. Yum!


Admitting to the occasional use of the packet mix for a Beef Rendang, we couldn’t resist an easy meal using beef skirt. Not bad, better the second night! Where we served it with fried tofu, a firm tofu coated with corn flour and salt and pepper and served with a mirin and soy sauce dressing, okra, a cucumber and peanut salad and our own chicken eggs, soft boiled.

I am interested in the role that food can play in building community relationships. The Willoughby local government area in which I live has a large chinese community in its most populated suburb, Chatswood. so far there a few opportunities for us all to mix. But, the food in Chatswood, as in Bankstown is very enticing. An exploration of it, offers the chance to mix together.