Chicken and prawn stir fry

You know the chicken and cashew you get from your local chinese? In that thick comforting sauce of non-description? This is as close to it as I’ve been able to make.

It is based on Adam Liaw’s recipe in his Asian Cookery School book. It must be the fifth recipe I’ve made from it and it delivers time and time again.

The flavours are very gentle in this, there’s no soy, no oyster sauce, no garlic, just a few fine shreds of ginger, stock and shaoxing wine. It’s almost a convalescence food, wonderfully mild and nutritious. Get onto it.

Possibly the latest #everyfuckingnight made but cooked all the same. It's @liawadam 's dragon and phoenix, aka prawn and chicken stir-fry.
Possibly the latest #everyfuckingnight made but cooked all the same. It’s @liawadam ‘s dragon and phoenix, aka prawn and chicken stir-fry.

Chicken and prawn stir fry
Just like your local Chinese restaurant.
  • 12 prawns
  • 2 chicken thigh fillets, cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths
  • 1 carrot, peeled, cut in halve lengthways then sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 cup snow peas, trimmed
  • 3 slices of ginger, bruised using the side of your knife
For the marinade
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp Shaoxing wine
For the sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  1. Peel, devein and buttefly the prawns - so cut almost the whole way through them then press down flat using the flat side of your knife
  2. Mix the chicken and prawn with the marinade and let sit for at least 15 minutes
  3. Now turn your attention to the vegetables, you're going to blanch them before combining with the meat
  4. Bring some water to the boil in your wok with a dash of the oil
  5. Blanch the carrots and white stems of the shallots for two minutes
  6. In the last minute add the snow peas and the green shallot ends
  7. Drain and set aside
  8. Wipe out the wok and then dry it over the heat
  9. Add the rest of the oil, add the ginger and then cook the chicken and prawns in batches - this splatters everywhere. I'm tempted next time to almost dry-fry it in the wok with just a smidge of oil
  10. Discard the oil
  11. Add the sauce to the wok and bring to the boil
  12. Add the meat and vegetables and keep tossing until the sauce thickens.


Spring Rolls

So I made these a year ago and then promptly forgot I had ever done such a thing. Bizarrely last week Felix said, remember when you made spring rolls, and I was all, NEVER! Then, serendipitously I fell upon the very post where I talked about them.

Start of spring rolls for #everyfuckingnight
Start of spring rolls for #everyfuckingnight

These are easily vegetarian – just omit the chicken mince (derr) – or turned into a pork version by using pork instead of chicken mince (double derr).

Yes, rolling 40 spring rolls is painful but this is where having 100 kids becomes useful. Sure they might not look perfect (there are spring roll perfectionists who insist they must be tighly and very evenly rolled – no hanging over the edges – so they don’t absorb too much oil) but I only shallow fry them and they sure turned out a treat.

Chicken spring rolls for #everyfuckingnight!
Chicken spring rolls for #everyfuckingnight!
Spring Rolls with cucumber dipping sauce
Sensational spring rolls you can have with meat or vego
For the spring rolls
  • 10-15 shitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced
  • 100g rice vermicelli noodles
  • 500g chicken or pork mince (optional)
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 4-5 Chinese wombok cabbage leaves, finely shredded
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
For the cucumber dipping sauce
  • 160 ml water
  • 120 ml white vinegar
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 1 to 1½ large telegraph cucumber
  • 1 red chilli (optional)
  1. Cover the noodles with boiling water and sit for 6 minutes or until soft
  2. Drain really really well - you want to try and avoid a soggy filling
  3. Combine all the vegetable ingredients in a large bowl - mix it all together, have a taste, add some more mushrooms or carrot or cabbage if needed/desired
  4. Heat a wok, add a dash of oil and then fry the mince until browned and any liquid that cooks out of it has evaporated
  5. Add all the vegetables and sauces and stir until well combined and cooked through
  6. Let it cool a bit until it's easy to handle
  7. Take a spring roll sheet and then follow the instructions on the packet! (how's that for methodology!) There are also great you tube clips off it if needed.
  8. Heat about 1cm of oil in a frypan then cook in batches over a mod-high heat - they will only take about 3-4 mins
For the cucumber dipping sauce
  1. Bring the water, vinegar and sugar to the boil and the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat
  2. Cut the cucumber lengthways and scrape out the flesh the cut up into small dice
  3. Combine and leave to cool.

Chicken and bacon pasta bake

When you’re groaning at having to make dinner again make this.

If you’re not already, follow me at Instagram, search the hashtag #everyfuckingnight and you will see a feed of the dinners I am cooking my boys.

Chicken bacon pasta bake 1

This dinner is solely thanks to my dear friend S who knows the best places to have dinner, always checks in on me and is breeding olympians. She’s made this as the kids meal on two occasions we’ve been over for dinner – the second time because they all loved it the first.

It’s a dinner standard in her house and will now be in ours.

Chicken bacon pasta bake 3


Chicken and bacon pasta bake
A fantastic dinner option even most fussy kids will eat.
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
  • 500g packet of pasta - shells or spirals would be my advice
  • 2 chicken breasts, cubed
  • 6 slices streaky bacon - if using more traditional rashes you get in Aus then probably 3 would do it
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 500g jar of pasta sauce - your brand and flavour choice
  • couple of handfuls of grated cheese
  1. Cook pasta until almost done - meaning if it's meant to cook for 12 mins cook it for 10. Drain
  2. Saute the onion, garlic and bacon in a glug of oil for about 5 minutes or until there's a bit of colour coming on but not crispy
  3. Add the chicken and brown, don't go crazy because it will cook in the oven
  4. Add the pasta sauce
  5. Tip in the pasta and combine thoroughly
  6. Stir in a big handful of grated cheese
  7. Tip into a baking dish, top with more cheese
  8. Bake at 180C for 30-45 mins - this is basically dependent on how much time you have and how crispy you want the top to be.



The Chef and I – Jamie Oliver’s spiced chicken with bacon & spinach lentils

Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals spiced chicken with spinach lentils recipe. The first in my new series, The Chef and I.

Welcome to the first of a new weekly series! The Chef and I will see me cook a recipe from my cookbook library. It could be a dinner, maybe a breakfast or something sweet, the idea being to a) use my cookbooks more thoroughly and b) show how a recipe plays out for a normal human.

This week I’m (finally) cooking from Jamie’s 15 minute meals. Yes yes, we all know the drill, 15 minutes when you have a staff working for you but my attitude is less the amount of time it takes you and more cooking with fresh ingredients and trying recipes you otherwise wouldn’t. This didn’t take me 15 minutes but it definitely took me less than 30. Probably closer to 20.

All my normal eaters ate it and loved it. Even the lentils. Jasper, the not normal eater, ate and loved the chicken. Small mercies.  Jamie serves it with a warmed loaf of bread to soak up the juices and I strongly urge you to do the same (I wasn’t going to bother but thought, no, do as the recipe says). It rounded out the meal beautifully. Next time I’d probably use some pita or flat breads.

Things I did differently:

  • I used an extra tomato and was glad I did
  • He seasons the chicken with 1/2 tsp cayenne, I used about 2 tsp of smoked paprika instead
  • I used streaky bacon instead of pancetta and fried it off separately after cooking the chicken whereas he adds it to the pan of the almost cooked chicken. Streaky bacon is the short bit of the bacon, my Woollies stocks the D’Orsogna brand variety of it and stocks it in the meat section of cured meats, not with the other bacon (for reasons I am yet to understand).
  • His recipe uses a bunch of asparagus that he cooks off with the chicken at the same time as the pancetta, I didn’t do this.

spiced chicken w/ bacon and spinach lentils

Spiced chicken with bacon & spinach lentils

Adapted from Jamie Oliver, 15 Minute Meals

The Chef and I - Jamie Oliver's spiced chicken with bacon & spinach lentils
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A delicious health dinner of spiced chicken with lentils, spinach and yoghurt
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • olive oil
  • 2 x 400g tins of lentils
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 heaped tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 4 x skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 handful fresh thyme (or other fresh herb of your choice, tarragon would work nicely)
  • 6 rashes streaky bacon
  • crusty bread
  1. Peel your onion and carrot and blitz in a food processor with the rosemary
  2. Put a glug or two of oil in a fry pan with high sides and start sauteing
  3. Get a really large sheet of baking paper out on your bench. Scatter over a generous amount of salt, pepper and the paprika. Rub into the chicken all over (if you've been generous there's enough for both sides and a good rub into the chicken).
  4. Fold the baking paper over the top of the chicken (I told you it needed to be a big sheet) then get a rolling pin and bash it to about 1.5 cm thick. (I didn't do it thin enough so it took longer to cook for me)
  5. Get another fry pan on with a glug of oil then add the garlic cloves, the herbs and the chicken. Fry for about 4 minutes on each side until nicely golden and cooked through.
  6. Back to the veg in the other pan, add the two tins of lentils with the water they're in (ie don't drain them) and the tomatoes which you've chopped up roughly (I just blitzed them to chunky in my little mini blender as I'd already using it for the onion and carrot. Put the lid on and leave to simmer
  7. Roughly chop the spinach in the food processor - you don't want it pulverised so just pulse it until it's shredded but not moosh. Add to the lentils with the red wine vinegar.
  8. Lift the chicken out of the pan, you might need to give it a wipe down before cooking the bacon and then fry off the bacon.
  9. Put the lentils into a wide lipped platter (it's runny so don't go and use some flat platter contraption) and dollop over the yoghurt, give it a little swirl through.
  10. Cut the chicken up on an angle and place over the top then put the bacon on top of that.
  11. Serve with crusty bread or pitas.



Chicken Noodle Soup

A delectable chicken noodle soup you will come back to time and time again.

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My favourite season, winter, is finally here. It couldn’t arrive fast enough after an unseasonally warm autumn and the hideous February/March Months of Humidity show. My silence here is the antithesis of what has been going on in real life. Yet another phase of mental instability has befallen me and it has basically been taking all my energy to keep it together for my own health, Chef and the boys.

Did I tell you a while back about the friend who told me that I was one of those who has background noise – an unending stream of thoughts going through my head all the time with very little if any rest? Any task is completed while my brain races through not just what has to happen next but what is happening this afternoon, what is happening with the boys, politics, world affairs and oooh what’s that over there. It was a revelation. I thought everyone had that. Don’t they? Apparently some don’t! Apparently some can just wash up and just be thinking about the washing up. Isn’t that amazing? Imagine being one of them. I remember once, early in Chef and my relationship when we were driving along. I asked him what he was thinking and he replied “nothing”. I was floored. How could that be!? He asked what I was thinking about and I rattled off a number of things including a project at work, what we were having for dinner and how on earth a solution to the Bosnian crisis was ever going to be reached.

In the last month, after a couple of episodes of breakthrough severe crippling anxiety attacks and a generally low unshifting mood, we have been tweaking my head meds with what I would term “extremely limited” results. My standard unrelenting internal dialogue not only changed gears but upgraded from a family wagon to a maserati which I was not handling through the bends let alone down the straight.

The physical side-effects hit first this time – the locked jaw, the weird metallic taste in my mouth, the tension through my shoulders, the poor sleep.

And then the internal monologue not only ramped up to a belting speed, the content headed in a whole new direction. That was when I knew it truly wasn’t going well*. Instead of the thoughts focusing on the functional with the occasional dalliance into the woeful state of the political landscape it becomes a swirling storm of greys and black brewing to the perfect insanity storm.

It is so strange when it starts. Initially – and where I have been for the last few weeks – I can see it happening and engage cognitive therapy techniques with a dedication usually reserved for my procrastination at cleaning the bathrooms. It’s like I am totally cut off from my body, like a TV producer sitting in the production booth feeding instructions to the presenter – laugh now, intervene here, cuddle now, put the washing on, vacuum, stop yelling, start yelling, cook dinner. All of that interspersed with TRY HARDER, YOU’RE USELESS, YOU’RE FAILING AS A PARENT/WIFE/FRIEND/DAUGHTER, YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

It is exhausting in a way I can not adequately describe. At the moment I know those dark yelling whispers are nonsense but I can feel them wearing me down until I succumb to their beat. A discussion with my psychiatrist this week had a new plan of action in place which I have taken a step further. The agitation has reduced by about half. The resting state of panic eased. My sleep has improved, the locking of my jaw ceased and my sense of helplessness ebbed.

Curiously this has all happened by me weaning off an anti-depressant, increasing my mood stabiliser and resuming the anti-psychotic.

In the midst of all this my GP thought we should test my thryoid levels again. Despite ramping up my thyroxine dose in February I was still barely scraping it in to the normal range. Of course Hashimoto’s impacts mood, libido, anxiety and agitation. I can’t tell you how much I feel like my body hates me (maybe it’s retaliating for *). Wanna swap?


* When I first started to see the disc herniating chiropractor he said I had virtually no body awareness. I went to object when it kind of dawned on me that he was right. I have a pretty poor opinion of my body so I tend to try and ignore it as much as possible. It helps that I have 500 children to focus on instead of the fact various parts of me are hurting/not working/breaking down.

Anyway, this post wasn’t meat to be that long about my malfunctioning brain. It was meant to be about chicken noodle soup.

Do you know I’ve never made it? I KNOW. My friend Beth has one which I used as a bit of a guide for what follows here. There are a couple of steps here so I wouldn’t say you could do all of it when you get home after work, but you definitely could do it over two nights and get two dinners out of it – Hainanese Chicken one night (recipe to come I promise) and chicken noodle soup the next. Or, cook the chicken on a Saturday afternoon and make the soup that night as I did. Whatever you do, just make it.


Chicken Noodle Soup

The stock and chicken

  • One organic chicken
  • 5 slices of ginger
  • 5 unpeeled cloves of garlic
  • The white parst of a bunch of shallots/spring onions
  • 1 tbsp salt

The soup

  • finely sliced green parts of the shallots/spring onions
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stick of celery, diced
  • 1/2 bunch coriander, chopped
  • soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • 60gm approx of egg noodles/angel hair pasta (you know how it comes in dried rounds? I used two and a bit)
  • Optional: some finely grated ginger and finely chopped garlic as per Beth’s.
  • Optional: fresh chilli – finely chopped, sprinkled in at the end

To cook the chicken and make the stock

  1. Give the chicken a good wash and then put the ginger and garlic cloves in its cavity.
  2. Put it in a largish pot* of water, breast side down, with the salt and shallot ends in there (you don’t need to slice these up) and bring it slowly to the boil.
  3. Simmer for 25 minutes, scraping off any scum that comes to the surface, then turn off the heat, put the lid on and don’t touch it for an hour.
  4. After the hour pull the chicken out of the pot, place it on a plate and wrap the whole lot tightly in glad wrap.
  5. If any of the ginger or garlic has escaped from the chicken into the water then scoop out now. What you’re left with is the most delicate, perfectly seasoned stock.
  6. You can, if you so wish, chill the stock now and then discard the fat that congeals on the surface.
  7. Once the chicken cools get rid of the skin and shred the tasty chicken. You’ll use some in the soup and have some left over.

To make the soup

  1. Put the shallots, carrot, celery and coriander in the stock with a dash or two of soy and a few drops of sesame oil (go easy on the sesame oil, this is a soup you don’t want to over-power with anything)
  2. Once it’s boiling turn it down and simmer for a few minutes and then add the egg noodles and cook until they’re done (about 8 minutes)
  3. Add the shredded chicken and you.are.done.
  4. Tuck in.

* By “largish pot” I use one that holds about four litres.





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