Mini Okonomiyaki

I suspect that it is going to be quite some time until our next overseas holiday. In recent years we’ve been to Fiji, and to Japan, and we had hoped to travel to Vietnam this year. But sadly that is looking highly unlikely.

So while we cannot travel to indulge in authentic international dishes, we can attempt a little international fare at home. With that in mind, we created our very own Japanese-themed dinner on the weekend which was rather fun. The girls helped make sushi, and we decorated the table with paper cranes that we learned to make from an origami book.

For main course we made a chicken curry in the slow-cooker, which we served with rice and a cabbage-style salad. To start – we had our homemade sushi (a post for another day) as well as a mini version of one of my favourite Japanese dishes – okonomiyaki!

This version was slightly different to the original in that we added zucchini along with the usual cabbage. Pulled together with egg and flour, and pan-fried to perfection.

We actually made these in advance, so when it was time to serve we reheated them in the oven before topping with okonomiyaki sauce and kewpie mayonnaise. Finished with a sprinkle of coriander (or you can use spring onions) and togarashi seasoning.

These mini versions worked beautifully as a starter – akin to a fritter. In fact, we loved them so much that we made another batch the next day for lunch!

Now where in the world to take the MCP kitchen next??

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Mini Okonomiyaki
Course Appetiser
Course Appetiser
  1. Place the grated zucchini, onion and a sprinkle of salt in a bowl, and set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Squeeze as much of the liquid out of the zucchini mix as possible.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the egg and a few tablespoons of cold water to make a batter (not too thick).
  4. Add the cabbage and the zucchini mixture, and stir to combine.
  5. Heat some olive oil in a large frypan. Drop spoonfuls of the batter in and shape into a circle. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes each side, or until golden brown. Remove and place on some paper towel. Repeat until all the batter has been used.
  6. To serve, drizzle the sauce and mayonnaise over the top of the fritters, and sprinke with spring onions and togarashi seasoning.
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Lime and coriander coleslaw

For our recent Mexican lunch, we served mango margaritas and pulled pork that had cooked in the slow cooker for over 8 hours. These were dished up with a variety of sides – corn tortillas, guacamole, chorizo rice, grated cheese, tomatoes, sour cream and, for a little crunch, coleslaw.

But not just any coleslaw, a lime and coriander coleslaw. Where there was no cheap mayonnaise in sight – rather the salad was packed with fresh coriander and dressed with a combination of lime juice, olive oil, garlic and honey.  Resulting a coleslaw that was much lighter than its mayonnaise-laden counterpart, and with lovely fresh flavours that worked beautifully with the spicy pulled pork tortillas.

Definitely a ‘make again’ dish for our next Mexican feast!

Print Recipe

Lime and Coriander Coleslaw

Course Salad, Side dish
Cuisine Salad

people as a side dish


Course Salad, Side dish
Cuisine Salad

people as a side dish


  1. Place all the salad ingredients in a bowl, and toss to combine.

  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the olive oil, lime zest and juice, honey and garlic. Season.

  3. Pour over the salad and toss until well combined.

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Lion’s head meatballs with chinese cabbage

IMG_9736 Another day, another dinner inspired by an ingredient from our weekly vegetable box. On this occasion, it was a large grand wombok that got me thinking. I turned to my favourite cookbook, and was intrigued by a recipe for “Lion’s head meatballs with chinese cabbage” contained therein. If for no other reason than it has a cool name! The dish itself was rather simple to put together, but made all the more tasty with a long slow cooking time and tasty ingredients. Starting with the meatballs – ginger, pork mince, tamari, spring onions, rice wine, sugar, egg whites and cornflour. IMG_9673 Processed into a sticky mixture, then shaped into balls and rolled in cornflour. I then trimmed the wombok leaves (saving 2 large leaves for later), and stirfried them in a little ginger until they had wilted. IMG_9674 These then went into the base of a large pot. IMG_9675 Topped with the pork balls and simmering chicken stock. IMG_9676 Covered with the extra leaves, and tightly sealed. IMG_9678 I then placed the pot into the oven to slow cook for 3 hours. The result? Tender pork balls, juicy wombok leaves, and a delightfully fragrant stock. IMG_9735 Served on a bed of brown rice, and I am not kidding when I tell you that although this was a simple dish, it was a delicious one. Hearty and belly-warming. IMG_9739 We enjoyed it so much, that I have already made it again since! IMG_9741 What about you? How do you like to use wombok / Chinese cabbage?

German inspired

This meal  was inspired by Mr BBB’s love of German food. Me, I can take it or leave it, but break out the bratwurst or leberwurst and Mr BBB is one happy man. So when he came across these knackwurst during our recent trip to the grocery store, they found their way into our shopping trolley without delay. IMG_7425 I was then left with the all important decision of what to make with them. IMG_7420 Although I know very little about preparing German cuisine, I do know that cabbage features quite prominently. IMG_7421 So to accompany the knackwurst, I opted to make a warm cabbage and apple side dish. IMG_7422 Cabbage, apple, onion, dijon mustard, butter, brown sugar, mustard powder and apple cider vinegar. IMG_7423  IMG_7424IMG_7426 Cooked for a good hour or so until the cabbage and apple had softened. Then in went the sliced knackwurst, and cooked for a further 30 minutes until warmed through. IMG_7427 Ok – this dish may not be much to look at.. IMG_7429 But you will have to trust me when I tell you that it was delicious. IMG_7430 Like ‘oh so’ delicious. IMG_7432 The knackwurst were quite tasty, but it was the soft, buttery sweet cabbage that had me swooning. IMG_7428 Who would have thought that the humble cabbage could end up so tasty!? What about you? Are you a fan of German food?

Warm cab-apple salad

Let me share with you one of my favourite meals from this week. IMG_4456 A dinner that was inspired by a recipe in a recent edition of the Healthy Food Guide, which remains the one and only magazine that I subscribe to. The recipe was for lemon and thyme pork with a cold cabbage salad. And while the idea of a cold cabbage salad didn’t have that much appeal to me, a warm cabbage salad with a few extras thrown in on the other hand, did! My warm version came together very easily, using some tasty produce from our crisper. IMG_4443 Cabbage for substance, carrot for colour and apple for sweetness. IMG_4448 Into a pan with a splash of olive oil, lemon juice and some dijon mustard. Finished with sunflower seeds for crunch… IMG_4452 And some fresh parsley. Too easy really! IMG_4449 I followed the recipe when it came to flavouring the pork fillets. IMG_4445 Just lemon zest and fresh thyme. IMG_4446 Grilled on our trusty grill for 5 minutes or so. IMG_4459 All together now! IMG_4457 And,  you know what? IMG_4460 Although the pork was lovely and tender, I would have also been quite happily to have eaten the warm cabbage salad all on its own. IMG_4453 It was sweet, and crunchy, with just a hint of spice from the mustard. IMG_4455 Definitely one to be repeated. IMG_4456 PS – I really don’t’ understand why cabbage has such a bad reputation. It can be jazzed up with spices and flavours so easily, that it really doesn’t have to be bland or boring at all. Warm cab-apple salad (serves 3-4 as a side dish) adapted from HFG

  • 1tbs olive oil
  • 1/8 green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbs dijon mustard
  • 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbs sunflower seeds
  1. Heat oil in a frypan over a medium heat.
  2. Add the cabbage, carrot and apple, and cook until the cabbage has softened (stirring as required).
  3. Add the lemon juice and dijon mustard. And stir to combine.
  4. Add the parsley and sunflower seeds, and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Serve warm.

What about you? Are you a cabbage fan?

Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Cider Braised Cabbage

Training: Body Pump / Sit ups 150 This morning’s Body Pump session was a killer! In a good way.  I managed to increase my weights on a couple of the tracks which I was so pleased about, and I am sure my muscles will feel it tomorrow. But awesome workouts aside, the highlight of my day was definitely dinner 🙂 Remember when I was lucky enough to receive lots of new cookbooks for my birthday? Well this week I decided that Ms Goodwin’s post-Masterchef cookbook would supply my dinner inspiration. IMG_9299 And it didn’t take me long to select out first dish…. IMG_9296 Slow roasted pork belly with cider braised cabbage. We actually had a little trouble finding the appropriate boneless pork belly over the weekend. I had to buy a pork belly from the markets that had been rolled into a roast, and then remove the string to end up with a flat piece. Not really a hassle, just interesting that it was so hard to find! But I digress. The pork itself was really easy to prepare. Just score, oil and salt. Then cook, skin side up in a really hot oven for 30 minutes, then turn down to low and continue cooking for another 1.5 hours. The result? Crack-tacular pork. IMG_9309 While the pork was happily roasting away, I started on the suggested accompaniments. IMG_9312 Which, I must admit, appealed to me probably more than the pork itself did. IMG_9302 But then again…how can you go wrong when the accompaniments are cabbage sautéed in apple cider… IMG_9305 And apples caramelised in butter and a little sugar. IMG_9304 Until golden brown… IMG_9310 All together now…. IMG_9315 Hmmm – do you think it looked like the one in the recipe???? IMG_9319 Perhaps not too far off! IMG_9318 As suspected, Mr BBB loved this dish. Although, I am just not the hugest fan of pork belly. Too fatty for my tastes perhaps? The cabbage and apples, on the other hand, I could have eaten by the bowlful! IMG_9317 Delish! What about you? Are you a fan of pork crackling?

Party Food: Coleslaw with a ‘difference’

Wowza! What a day.

I left home this morning at 5am, and didn’t get home from my Brisbane work trip until after 8pm! A long day indeed. While I enjoy travelling for work, it can be quite disruptive to my routine at times, particularly with respect to training. But hey, I guess there is always tomorrow right???

Rather than bore you with pictures of the toasted ham/cheese/tomato sandwich I threw together for dinner (which was exactly what I felt like for dinner – but was rather dull from a blogging perspective) I thought I would share with you another one of the salads we served at the recent birthday party.


But not your average coleslaw – a coleslaw with a difference.


Natural yoghurt, dijon mustard, fresh dill, white wine vinegar and lemon juice combined…


To make a rich creamy dressing without the usually calorific mayonnaise!


Stirred through purple and green cabbage, carrots and celery…


Crunchy and creamy. Just how a good coleslaw should be. And, with the added bonus of having extra flavour but minus the calories.

Another healthy take on an old classic if you will 🙂

Coleslaw with yoghurt dill dressing

  • 1/4 green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/4 purple cabbage, shredded
  • 3 carrots, grated
  • 1/2 bunch celery, sliced finely
  • 1 cup natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbs dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • handful of chopped dill
  1. Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the yoghurt, dijon, vinegar, lemon juice and dill.
  3. Pour dressing over the salad and stir until well combined.

What about you? Do you have a favourite coleslaw recipe?

Happy Baking 🙂

Roll on….

If yesterday was all about "laps", then today was all about "rolling". Training: Bike I rolled out of bed this morning, and jumped straight on my bike so that I could roll to work. Yes – that’s right – it was the return of the commute! Knowing that I need to increase my bike mileage for the half ironman, I decided to not let my fear of swooping magpies linger any longer. After all, surely the swooping season is over by now?? Making one detour to avoid a known "hot spot" for these menacing creatures, the 15km ride to work took me around 35 minutes. It was actually glorious to be back on my road bike (affectionately known as the ‘frog’), and even more glorious to roll on home after work. Total mileage: 32 km / 1hr 15 min Dinner I had two dishes in mind this evening, but ended up going with the one that intrigued me the most. Besides, if today is all about rolling what would be more perfect for dinner than cabbage rolls! The star of the show was rather large… IMG_1851 And a little intimidating I must say. IMG_1853 I placed the entire cabbage in a super large pot of boiling water for a few minutes, yes you read that correct – the ENTIRE cabbage. As the leaves started to loosen, I tore them off and refreshed them under cold water. IMG_1854 While the cabbage leaves were set aside to drain, I made the ‘stuffing’ using pork mince, onion, garlic, balsamic vinegar, brown rice, dried coriander, caraway seeds, dill and pine nuts. Try saying that list out loud 5 times fast 😉 IMG_1857 Then it was time to roll. I removed the thickest part of the stem of one of the cabbage leaves… IMG_1864 Then added about 1/4 cup of the mince mixture near the stem end, and tucked up the bottom leaves…. IMG_1865 IMG_1866 Folded in the sides… IMG_1867 Then rolled up the leaves to enclose the filling. IMG_1869 Repeated until all the mince was used. IMG_1870 All lined up. IMG_1871  Topped with organic tomato pasta sauce. IMG_1874 IMG_1876 Covered and baked at 200C for 45 minutes, then topped with an extra sprinkle of dill just before serving. IMG_1882 IMG_1885 Served with a side of broccoli. IMG_1892 These tasty little rolls may have been fiddly, but they were definitely worth the effort. IMG_1889 I really enjoyed the pork / dill / balsamic combination – which resulted in a subtle sweetness. Healthy…. IMG_1891 Yet tasty. Yes that’s how I roll 😉 Balsamic cabbage rolls (makes 12)

  • 1 savoy cabbage
  • 300g lean pork mince
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1tbs dried coriander
  • 1/2 tbs caraway seeds
  • 2tbs dill sprigs
  • 2tbs pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup tomato-based sauce
  • extra dill to serve
  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add cabbage. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the leaves start to loosen. Remove 12 outer leaves, refresh under cold water, and set aside to drain.
  3. Heat a little olive oil in a frypan over a medium heat and add onion and garlic. Cook stirring for a few minutes.
  4. Add caraway seeds and ground coriander and cook for 30 seconds or until aromatic.
  5. Add pork, balsamic vinegar and pine nuts and cook until browned. Remove from heat.
  6. Add rice and dill, and stir until well combined. 
  7. Place 1 cabbage leaf on a clean work surface. Use a sharp knife to remove the thickest part of the stem. Place 1/4 cup mince on the stem end. Fold in sides then roll up firmly to enclose filling. Repeat with remaining cabbage leaves and mince mixture.
  8. Place the completed cabbage rolls in a baking tray and pour over the tomato-based sauce. Cover and bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through.
  9. Top with the extra dill sprigs to serve.

I am sure this is another dish that you could modify, depending on what ingredients you have on hand.  Next time I might even try to make a vegetarian version using lentils in place of mince. Happy Baking 🙂

A fitness announcement

Training: Swim 1km / Run 6km I have a big (but scary) fitness announcement to make! But before I get to that, let me share tonight’s dinner with you. Over the weekend we picked up a couple local pork steaks. And what goes better with pork than … cabbage! IMG_0210 I sautéed half a shredded cabbage with sesame oil, tamari, garlic, ginger and lemon juice until the cabbage had wilted. Then, just before serving, I stirred through a handful of fresh coriander. IMG_0212 Meanwhile, Mr BBB was busy cooking the pork steaks to perfection. IMG_0213  Served atop the sautéed cabbage. IMG_0216 Oh my – the moist pork worked beautifully with the cabbage that was rich in citrus and sour flavours. IMG_0217        The ginger also gave a lovely (yet not overpowering) flavour to the cabbage. Such a simple (and quick) dish, but oh so tasty.  One that we will definitely make again. But now… fitness announcement… You might have noticed that at the start of this post I recorded a double work-out today. Well blog world… I am officially in training for a half ironman! For some time now, I have had a goal that “one” day I would like to complete a half ironman – the Canberra Half Ironman to be precise. A triathlon race consisting of a 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run.  Certainly a race that far exceeds any race that I have done before. In a moment of clarity, or perhaps it was a moment of insanity, I figured there is no better time like the present! Until I realised the race is on 12 December 2010 – which is exactly 14 weeks away. Now, before I get too far ahead of myself, I would like explain a self-imposed condition on my decision a little more. While I am officially in training for this event, I would be lying if I said  I wasn’t concerned about the level of training that is required. IMG_0209 Working full time, wanting to spend time with Mr BBB,  having other hobbies and knowing that I have some work travel coming up – are all causing me some concern. This was only heightened when I sat down to draw up my training program and realised that most days have not one but two training sessions. However, I am really keen to take on this huge challenge and race on the 12th December. So, rather than put too much pressure on myself, I have decided to give myself 5 weeks of solid training before I make a final decision whether to race. If, after 5 weeks I find that I am able to maintain the necessary work / life / training balance – then I will officially enter the race. However, if  it all gets too much, then I will defer my participation in the race until another year and focus on shorter races this season instead. Either way, I hope that you will be patient with me over the next 5 weeks as I step up the training and see what this  ol’ body (and mind) is capable of.  Bring it on I say! Happy Baking 🙂