Tag Archives : mushroom

Miso & Vegetable Konjac Noodle Soup (and a note on the 5:2 diet)

Miso and Vegetable Konjac Noodle Soup

Last year I went on a diet. I know. You gotta lose the baby weight sometimes. Since we’re not having another baby, I had decided that damnit, it was time. And so I jumped on this bandwagon called the 5:2 diet – which basically means for five days of the week you eat normally and for two days a week you limit yourself to 500 calories per day. I KNOW. It wasn’t as hard to do as I expected. And it worked. I was shedding around 0.5-1kg a week.

A day would go something like this:

  • Breakfast: boiled egg + a handful of strawberries +  a cup of plain tea
  • Morning tea: a cup of plain tea + a handful of strawberries
  • Lunch: plain tinned tuna (lowest calorie one I can find which is currently 57 calories, an achieve in itself) + mixed salad leaves + 1/2 tomato + 1 tbsp tinned corn + 1 tbsp grated carrot
  • Afternoon tea: a cup of plain tea + a small mandarin (or half an apple – when you’re on 500 calorie limit, an apple have A LOT of calories)
  • Dinner: a massive bowl of Japanese sukiyaki made from a few pieces of thinly sliced beed (no fat), a lot of Chinese cabbage, carrots, shittake mushrooms, sukiyaki stock (mirin, sake, soy sauce, sugar, dashi, etc.) and konjac noodles

The main thing was finding out an eating plan that worked for you. I did it with a group of friends. Some of us ate very very sparingly throughout the day and had a ‘big’ dinner and I, on the other hand, ate as much bulky low-calorie food (think a lot of Chinese cabbage!) all day long. The main thing was to find the right eating plan that suited you. I found not starving myself – i.e. eating all the time, all day long really helped and that was key to it being successful. Unfortunately, as all things, it required a lot of planning and I needed to have my meals for the day planned out before I leave for work. And as soon as I stopped it, the weight came back on – not instantly but as the old eating habits come back, so did the weight. I can’t help that if I had started with it for longer (I think I lasted 2 months), my eating habits would have been broken. C’est la vie.

strawberries and tea

Anyway, the one thing I got out of it was this really awesome lunch idea that is fairly healthy, very low in calorie and I really enjoyed. And it is also something you can easily whip up in the office using the microwave.


  • 100g konjac noodles (konjac noodles are noodles made from konjac – sold cheaply at some Asian grocers and more expensively at supermarkets in the health food aisle as ‘slim pasta’)
  • 1 packet of approx. 25g instant miso soup (instant miso soup is like a Japanese version of cup-a-soup, it is basically miso paste, stock powder and dried seaweed, buy them at Asian aisle in your local supermarket or Asian grocer)
  • 1/2 small zucchini, sliced
  • 3 floret of broccoli, cut into small pieces
  • 1 button mushroom, sliced
  • Or any other vegetables of choice (I always wanted to try packs of frozen veggies from the supermarket but never got around to it)


Rinse the konjac noodles well and drain. Steam the vegetables in the microwave with about 1 tbsp of water until tender (1-2 minutes). Make the miso soup according to packet instruction (which is generally add 1 packet of miso soup to 1 cup of hot water). Add everything together. Voila.

Grilled Wild Mushroom Risotto 10

grilled wild mushroom risotto

While I consider myself rather lucky to be living in a gorgeous part of an inner suburb surrounded by park lands, I can’t really consider myself a nature forager. And this is the type of dish that’s well known among the mushroom foragers.

So imagine how excited I was when I came across a stall holder at our local farmers’ market selling bags of these pine mushrooms (also known as saffron milk caps for its gorgeous orange coloured ‘milk’ that appears when the mushroom is cut) I promptly handed Mini Me over to Josh and quickly grabbed one of the last bags on offer. For the rest of the market trip, I was constantly stopped by other market goers and quizzed about where I bought these mushrooms from. While never having them before, I knew I was onto a good thing!

The lunch that follows our once-a-month farmers’ market trip is always very simple. We have a rule that when you have the best and the freshest ingredients, we don’t mess with it. And this risotto is no different.

Cleaning Pine Mushrooms (Saffron Milk Caps)

Cleaning wild mushrooms with a pastry brush

(not the cleanest mushrooms, are they?)

The batch of mushrooms we got seemed rather dirty and really needed cleaning. I later found out that the blue stains on the mushrooms were caused by the ‘milk’ of the milk caps oxidizing. However, after consulting a few cookbooks and online, I decided on these very simple steps which worked really well.

  1. Use a pastry brush to brush off any dirt or grass.
  2. Use the end of a small knife to scrap off any other unclean bits that didn’t come off with the brush.
  3. Rinse briefly under cold tap. (I saved the rinsing water and poured it onto the nearest pine tree. You know, just in case!)

(cleaning the mushroom with a pastry brush)

Don’t worry about washing away the flavours of these mushrooms. They were perfectly fine. In fact, I would say they need a little bit of liquid to steam while we grill them.

Quick Chicken Stock

For a vegetarian version, substitute with your usual good vegetable stock.

  1. 1 meaty chicken frame
  2. 1 litre water
  3. any vegetable offcuts you can find such as carrot peels and tops, parsley stalks, celery or onion
  4. a good quality vegetable stock cube

Rinse chicken frame and place in a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to boil. Leave on boiling for about 10 minutes. Add vegetable off cut and stock cube. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 10 minutes while you prepare other ingredients. Keep the stock hot when making the risotto.

Risotto For Two

(soaked porcini)

  1. 1  cup of risotto rice (I used Carnoroli, you can use others but adjust the amount of stock accordingly)
  2. 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1 shallot, finely diced
  4. 1 onion, finely diced
  5. 1/3 cup white wine
  6. 3 sprigs of lemon thyme, leaves picked (substitute with normal thyme and a bit of lemon zest)
  7. 4 large slices of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in a cup of hot water, reserve soaking water

Heat olive oil in a thick bottom frying pan or saucepan, very slowly fry shallot and onion for about 10 minutes until translucent but not coloured. The onion and shallot will be nice and sweet and contribute to the dish. Turn up the heat to medium and add rice. Fry the rice for about 2-3 minutes or until the rice become too hot to touch.

Making mushroom risotto

Splash in the white wine until evaporated. Add the lemon thyme (or thyme) leaves. Add the porcini soaking water and chopped up porcini and a ladle of stock. Stir constantly and keep adding stock – until the rice is just cooked with a bite in the middle. This usually takes about 15-20 minutes. Note that different rice requires cooking methods so follow the packet instruction about cooking time and amount of liquid.

The consistently of the risotto needs to be creamy and oozy.

Grilled Mushrooms

  1. 200 g saffron milk caps (substitute with field mushrooms), sliced into large piecse
  2. 1 tbsp melt butter
  3. 1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
  4. 1 sprig of lemon thyme, leaves picked

grilled pine mushrooms

Mix chopped garlic into melted butter. Grill mushroom pieces on cast iron grill or plate until slightly charred and smoky on both sides. Brush with garlic butter. this should take about 10-15 minutes for the saffron milk caps. If you are using normal field mushrooms, they will cook slightly quicker. Once cooked, transferred into the rest of the garlic butter and sprinkle on the lemon thyme. Cover and keep warm.

Putting It All Together

Once the risotto is done. Turn off the heat and add a dollop of butter and a grating of parmesan. Cover and rest for a minute. Serve in a nice warm bowl topped with grilled, garlicky mushrooms.

So heavenly. Perfect dish for the cold weather.

And so even though we have moved onto a very crisp first day of Winter today, my memories are still lingering on the lovely Autumn we had. And who knows? Next year, you might see our little family foraging for these lovely mushrooms.

Country Style Rabbit Casserole 1

country style rabbit casserole with onion, mushrooms and all things nice

The very first time I had rabbit was actually at Grossi Florentino and it was absolutely delicious. One Saturday I just decided that cooking a bunny was in order so I perused through all my food books and settled on something vaguely resembling Stephanie Alexander’s Country Rabbit in a Claypot.

country style rabbit casserole

I never cooked rabbit before so I figured surely one cannot screw up a casserole and went with that choice. Which turned out to be a rather good one (if I may say so myself). Our local butcher sold whole free-range rabbits, which  she kindly jointed for me (very loudly with a huge cleaver, might I add. Josh commented, ‘Bunny definitely dead now’).

marinade rabbit pieces


  1. 1 farmed rabbit (about 800 g.)
  2. 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  3. 1 tbsp plain flour
  4. 1 tsp soy sauce
  5. 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked

Start by making a paste from the ingredients above (minus the rabbit of course) and then coat the rabbit pieces with it. Leave to marinade while you prepare other things.

frying bunny (not boiling)

(fryin, not boiling, the bunny)


  1. 1 onion, finely chopped
  2. 1 carrot, finely diced (reserve peel)
  3. 1 carrot, sliced into chunks (reserve peel)
  4. 100 g. of smoked bacon (I used kaiser but try pancetta or any smoked bacon)
  5. 8 pickling (small) onions
  6. 12 small button mushrooms (leave whole, or halved)
  7. 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  8. 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  9. 3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked



  1. 2 fresh (or dried) bay leaves
  2. 1/2 litre of boiling water
  3. carrot peel
  4. pumpkin peel (from the pumpkin and sweet potato mash puree)
  5. sweet potato peel
  6. 2 tsp of Vegeta gourmet stock powder (or your favourite)
  7. 4 pieces of dried porcini
  8. rosemary stalks

simmering stock

(simmering the stock)

Start by heating up a bit of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the rabbit pieces on all sides until browned. Be careful not to dislodge the marinade.  Set the meat aside in a casserole dish and deglaze the pan with the white wine. Pour the pan juice onto the rabbit pieces.


Meanwhile, heat up a knob of butter in a frying pan and slowly fry the chopped onion and diced carrot with some garlic and rosemary. Add the bacon and cook on medium heat until the bacon mixture slight lycoloured. Place the bacon and onion mixture on top of the rabbit pieces in the casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 160’C. Put the casserole dish in it to keep warm while making the stock.


Pour the stock ingredients onto the frying pan that was just used for the bacon and simmer the stock ingredients for 5 minutes. Pick out the bay leaf and add to the rabbit. Add the pickling onions. Strain the stock and pour it onto the casserole dish. Cover and cook for an hour.


After an hour, add the mushrooms, carrot slices and the rest of the rosemary leaves. Cook for another hour.

bunny stew

Serve with mashed pumpkin and sweet potato.

country-style rabbit stew

I declare my bunny experiment a success!

Baked Chicken with Mushrooms, Butter, Thyme and Wine 2

baked chicken breast with mushrooms, butter, thyme and wine

This dish is based on the recipe from Jamie Oliver’s Happy Days with the Naked Chef book. Have I mentioned I absolutely love Jamie Oliver? Maybe not.

served with polenta

(served with soft polenta)

It was quite easy to make. Basically, you put two chicken breasts with various ingredients in a foil bag and bake them in the oven until it’s nice and juicy.

For two people, you’ll need:

  1. 2 chicken breasts – about 500 g. (if they are skin on, use less butter)
  2. 4 button mushrooms, sliced
  3. 4 Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
  4. 3 dried porcini mushroom slices
  5. 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  6. 1 tbsp of butter
  7. 4-5 sprigs of thyme
  8. 1/3 cup of white wine
  9. 1/2 tsp of Vegeta gourmet stock powder
  10. Good pinches of salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220’c. Line a baking dish with two pieces of foil (about the size of a shoe box). Place chicken breasts on the foil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, stock powder, garlic and thyme leaves. Top with butter, mushroom slices and pour the wine over the chicken and mushrooms. Fold the rest of the foil over the chicken to cover them and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Check the chicken breasts half way through and turn them over so they cook evenly.


I served them with polenta which was just cooked in vegetable stock with butter and grated parmasan added to it. Simply cook 1 cup of polenta according to packet instructions and add butter and cheese.

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