Tag Archives: ginger

Cardamom and ginger poached pears


I’m fussy about poaching pears. You have to be.

For a perfect poached pear there are rules to follow: I can think of seven.

Don’t go for heavily sugared poaching syrups – these must be avoided at all costs. Water enhanced with a little sugar, spice or citrus is just right and allows the natural flavour of the pears to shine through.

The pears must be firm but on their way to ripening. They should still be green but have a slight give when pressed firmly.

Prepare the syrup first so it comes to the boil BEFORE adding the fruit.

The syrup, once the fruit is added, must be kept to a simmer – one of soft bubbles just breaking the surface.

Watch over the pears as they poach – not like a hawk, more like a mother sneaking a peep on a sleeping baby.

And if the syrup gets too hot and begins to bubble too much, simply pull from the heat, till the syrup cools slightly, and return to a gentle simmer.

Once the pairs have become transparent, they are cooked. Remove from the heat and allow them to cool completely in the liquid.

I know, it’s fussy right?



But then, the fuss pays off. And you have a bowl of glistening poached pears that can be eaten in so many ways, like with muesli or porridge, with yoghurt or ice cream, bake them in a crumble, serve them in a salad, eat them cold, or eat them warm; Serve them on a cheese platter.

Remember, never underestimate the fuss required for the prefect poached pear.




Cardamon and ginger poached pears 


8 William pears – green but starting to soften

10 Cardamon pods, bruised

6-8cm piece of ginger, sliced into 1cm thick pieces

2/3 cup caster sugar

1 .5 litres water

1 small lemon

Heat 1 .5 litres water in a large pot, add cardamon pods, sliced ginger, sugar and lemon, stir and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, use a peeler to peel the pears. Cut pears into quarters, then use a small knife to remove the pips. Keep some of the stalks on the pears as these look great for presentation. Try to work quickly so pears don’t oxidise and turn brown.

When all the pears are prepared place them into the boiled syrup, turn down the heat, cover pears with a sheet of baking paper to weigh them down and poach on a low simmer for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave pears to cool in syrup. Once cool, store in air tight containers for 1 week in the fridge. Eat cold or warm.

(C) Copy right Food From Michelle’s Kitchen 2016 Cardamom and ginger poached pears

Scrambled chilli tofu



On the weekend I spent two days sick in bed. Whilst ill and delirious, I dreamt about having a personal chef. They’d arrive with a basket of fresh produce. They’d cook and prepare healthy food. They’d wash the dishes, sweep the floor and take out the rubbish. I’d certainly get them to bake a cake.

When Monday dawned, so did the reality that no personal chef was coming to my rescue. I was it. I had to get back in the kitchen. So I fried up this chilli tofu dish.




One of things I love about tofu is it’s soft, silky texture.  It’s neutral taste absorbs flavour well and spicing it up with chilli, garlic and hoisin then scrambling it all together with vegetables is a vegan delight.


Scrambled tofu is similar to scrambled eggs and it’s excellent served on toasted sourdough. But you might also serve it with boiled rice or noodles. You can substitute other veggies – try mushrooms, halved cherry tomatoes, coarsely grated zucchini or a handful of baby spinach. In my quest to get well, I juiced fresh fruit and vegetables. Try this combination – beetroot, strawberries, celery, carrot and apple, delicious! Take that, nasty flu.





Chilli tofu on toast  – serves 2


300g firm (but soft) tofu

1/2 red capsicum, diced

1/2 cob corn, kernels removed

1/2 cup chopped beans (1cm pieces)

1 medium red chilli, deseeded and chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2cm pice ginger, peeled and grated

4 green shallots, sliced thinly

2 tbsp hoisin sauce

2 tbsp soy sauce

1tbsp sesame oil

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

4 thick slices sourdough or rye bread, toasted


Place chilli, garlic and ginger in a mortar and pestle with 1 tsp sea salt, pound till chilli forms a paste, or chop ingredients by hand till well combined. Break tofu into large chunks and sprinkle with chilli paste.


Heat 1tbsp sesame oil in a large fry pan, add capsicum, corn and beans, cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add tofu. Allow tofu to cook for 30 seconds then stir gently (over stirring will break up the tofu too much). Continue to fry the tofu and stir gently for two minutes.


In a small bowl whisk hoisin, soy sauce and 2 tbsp water, add to fry pan, add green shallots, stir one final time and turn off the heat. Serve scrambled tofu on toasted sourdough and sprinkle with cracked black pepper.

Life would be dull with out cake



Life would be dull with out cake. I try to eat it only on occasion, and some times I manage, other times I can’t help myself. I need cake in my life. It makes me happy.

A good recipe should be shared and this one already has been. I learnt this recipe from a chef I worked with, at Zinc cafe, many years ago. She was a great baker and engaging mentor and helped set me on the path to understanding the science of baking.  This cake has also featured in the magazine I write recipes for because it’s too good to keep to myself.  I’ve baked this coconut lime and ginger cake so many times now I’ve lost count. That’s a good thing.





Baking is a learnt skill and one that needs to be practised. When I first started my chef apprenticeship I was terrible at baking.  I knew  the bare essentials. My cakes often flopped and my pastry always shrunk. There wasn’t the opportunity, in a busy kitchen, to learn on the job. I had to teach myself. I studied Stephanie Alexanders “The cooks companion” in my early days of learning how to bake. Her encyclopaedic book contains many excellent recipes. And over time with some disasters came successes.  I discovered the joy of pulling a well-risen cake from the oven and of making pastry that was flaky and buttery and didn’t shrink. So for those out there who don’t bake, have perseverance, it’s a worthy skill to master.




I love the large chunks of ginger, on this cake, they give a burst of pepper flavoured zing. You could grate the ginger instead of slicing it, so it’s finer and less punchy. Thanks to the ginger and lime syrup, the cake keeps moist for several days. I keep it in the fridge and on day two and three give it a quick zap in the microwave to soften it up again. Double cream is optional but not necessary.




Coconut lime and ginger syrup cake


For the cake

190g butter, softened

280g (1 ¼ cups) caster sugar

1 lime zested

4 eggs

3 cups desiccated coconut

150g (1 cup) self raising flour, sifted

1/2 cup sour cream

For the syrup

2 limes, zested and juiced

50g ginger, peeled and sliced thinly

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/4  cup  water


Pre heat oven to 170C or 150C fan forced. Line a 23cm spring form cake tin with baking paper.


Cream butter, sugar and zest of 1 lime till pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating between additions; scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl during additions of egg.


Add coconut, flour and sour cream; beat till combined. Spoon cake mix into lined tin and smooth the surface to flatten and level cake. Bake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and set aside whilst making syrup.


Place all ingredients for syrup in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and cook for 1 minute. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Whilst syrup and cake are still warm, spoon the syrup evenly over the top of entire cake. Allow syrup to soak into cake, and cake to cool before slicing.

Zucchini and red lentil soup



Soup is the perfect meal. It’s warm, nourishing and easy to prepare.


Soup can be eaten all year long. In winter I eat hearty soups like pea and ham cooked with smoked pork bones or Moroccan lamb and lentil. In spring I eat chicken broths and Vietnamese pho. In summer I enjoy light vegetable broths and when Autumn hits I tend towards rich minestrones and thick vegetable soups.


This zucchini and red lentil soup is a staple in my kitchen at any time of year. I love it for it’s simplicity. The vegetable components of the soup, the onion, garlic, ginger and zucchini are all grated, for quick easy preparation. Turmeric and cumin flavour the soup with a simple Indian flavour and the red lentils cook to a soft consistency.  And the best part – there’s no blending!




For the zucchini, you’ll need a grater with a coarse grating side to it. If you don’t have one, it’s a great tool to own. I coarsely grate zucchini for my stir-fry, my risotto, and my pasta dishes. It’s a quick way of getting a green vegetable into a meal with out fiddly slicing and dicing. The ginger and garlic are easily grated on a microplane grater – a fantastic tool to have in the draw.


The best way to finish this soup is with a dollop of yoghurt. I tend to use a “Greek style” yoghurt as my all rounder, though natural yoghurt does the job too.  A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of fresh herb, a dollop of yoghurt, it’s the prefect finish to this beautiful vegetable soup. Enjoy!




Zucchini and red lentil soup


2 tbsp olive or grape seed oil

1 onion, grated and squeezed lightly

2 tbsp grated ginger

4 cloves garlic, grated

2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp ground cumin

1 ¼ cups red lentils

2 ltr vegetable stock

Cracked black pepper

3 zucchini

2 tbsp chopped coriander stem

To serve

Greek style yoghurt

Chopped coriander

Extra virgin olive oil


Heat a soup pot with the oil, add onion, garlic, ginger and spices, cook gently for 2 minutes. Add vegetable stock, red lentils and cracked pepper, bring to the boil and cook gently for 20 minutes.


Coarsely grate zucchini. Add to soup with chopped coriander stem, simmer a further 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning before serving.


To serve, ladle into bowls, add a dollop of yoghurt, a sprinkle of chopped coriander and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


Handy tip – Portion and freeze left over soup for next week when there’s no enthusiasm for cooking.