Everyone loves surprises

DSC_0230After a 6 week break from teaching, going back to work was difficult.

However true surprises are always good medicine, and for me the best surprise or gift is that of the food variety.

So I walk into the staff room and there in my pigeon hole is a bulging brown paper bag wedged tightly amongst a large pile of folders to be marked. . . instant intrigue!

Excitedly  I grabbed the brown paper bag and looking inside revealed my hopes fulfilled – a new and colourful cooking ingredient from a lovely, lovely ex-student.

One of the things I adore about my role as Child Studies Teacher at Nirimba is the rich eclecticism of this place. Western Sydney is truly a cornucopia of cultures colliding within acceptance and learning.

The gift was from a Chinese Student Yan Ping Ding, known as Sunny to me and her classmates. She had remembered I was interested in a Chinese chilli sauce that she had used in a dish as part of our end of year class celebration.

So grateful was I for her thoughtfulness, I was inspired to use it that same night. I stopped off after work at the Cherrybrook local(which has an excellent fresh produce)with the idea of Sang Choy Bow in my head. Fresh chicken mince(I don’t eat pork for ethical reasons), an eggplant(cheap & good atm) and crispy iceberg lettuce later, I am armed and ready for work.

I made the chicken filling by stir frying the mince with garlic, ginger, Sunny’s chilli sauce and a little oil & sherry. I removed this from the wok and then wok fried finely diced shallots,eggplant and broccoli, water chestnuts & bamboo shoots. Added the chicken back in with the veges and thickened with some stock & cornflour. My stepson Mattie insisted on a new technique for cutting the carrots. So they were done ribbon style and lightly stirred through just before serving. Seasoned with a little soy and into lettuce cups dinner was done.


This is a great way of getting lots of veges into younger people, knowing you are nourishing their bodies and not being subjected to complaints or sour faces is surely a win-win.

And there were left overs for when Grandma visited the next night.


Eggplant – what do you do with it?


The joys of eggplant. . . much misunderstood by Australians.

Italians, Indians and Middle Easterners on the other hand know just what to do with this magnificently coloured vegetable.

I always enjoy the visual treat of the deep brown purple skin when it is against fresh oranges in my produce bowl, the fruit pitted in texture and vibrant in the truest of orange colour.

This side dish of eggplant is made by cutting eggplant into flat chip-like wedges and browning with a little olive oil in a cast iron pan. After a few minutes you add a capful of cooking grade sherry and put the glass lid on the pan so the eggplant ‘cooks down’ by convection. After another five minutes or as soon as you see the breaking down of the sponge like flesh into a slippery bark like consistency you can add other flavours. Here I have added a heaped teaspoon of miso-paste, some black sesame seeds that become toasted when added into the pan and some finely diced coriander stalks, the leaves of which had been completely de-nuded after lunch upon lunch of Vietnamese rice paper rolls – our January literal flavour of the month.

The eggplant served as an accompaniment to some chicken breasts cooked in sherry and seasoned with Himalayan rock salt and fresh finely grated ginger – how to for another time as it’s a great fall back of mine