Potato and Leek Soup

In winter, my idea of a perfect lunch would probably be a bowl of steaming hot noodles or a bowl of warm, creamy soup. Potato and Leek soup is definitely up there on the list as one of my (and Sir D’s) favourite soups – full of creamy carb-y goodness =)

The recipe is my mum’s recipe which I’ve grown up with, and I believe there is some inextricable link between a mother’s cooking and comfort food. The thick, creamy soup never fails to warm and comfort me and always has me asking for seconds! If you’re not keen on the cream content by all means decrease or omit the cream, but it’s just not quite the same without it.

Potato and Leek Soup (Serves 4)

4 large potatoes, washed, peeled and chopped into rough 3cm cubes
2 leeks (white part only), washed and sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
500mL chicken stock
500mL water
300mL cream
salt and pepper

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add leeks and cook until soft. Add potatoes, stock and water to pot and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook, uncovered, until potatoes are soft.

Potatoes and leeks in the pot with chicken stock and water

2. Add cream and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and leave on the stove for a further 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

After adding the cream

3. Using a hand-held blender, blend the mixture in the pot until there are no large chunks of potato remaining. Serve.

Melody Markets, Chatswood

Some of the best things about Thursdays is that it marks the end of my uni week, and also the Melody Markets are on in Chatswood! Every Thursday there are stalls of food and crafts along outside Westfield Chatswood on Victoria Ave and of course I always go for the food.

Chorizo Roll – $5.50

Sir D particularly likes the garlic prawns and chorizo stall which always smells deliciously of garlic. Today he opts for the chorizo roll complete with accompanying condiments of Mojo Picon sauce (cumin, paprika and garlic), Mojo Verde sauce (coriander, parsely and garlic) and red chillis.

I head straight to the Colotako stall which sells Japanese takoyaki. They started off with only the original octopus flavour and a prawn flavour, but have now also expanded to crab flavour and a vegetable one.

Half prawn and half octopus (8 balls) – $8.00

I get 8 balls with half octopus and half prawn. The octopus balls have bits of octopus inside whereas the prawn ones have a whole prawn with the tail sticking out. Both have bits of pickled ginger and are topped with bonito flakes and their accompanying sauces. I must admit I really love the sauce that goes with the prawn balls and so based on that alone I think I prefer the prawn ones. But really they’re both delicious!

Today I’ve spotted a stall that I’ve never seen before but I have seen on chocolatesuzeRP’s Hungarian Pastries! As you may know I love anything sweet and baked and my eyes are drawn to a pastry covered in sprinkles and I have to have it! I get a half roll and watch as the lady takes it fresh out of the oven where the sugar on the outside is being heated and melted, and then rolls it in a container full of sprinkles! Sprinkles and sugary pastry make Jacq a very happy penguin =D

RP’s Kürtös (Sprinkles) – Whole roll: $7.00, Half roll: $4.00

Melody Markets
Victoria Avenue
Chatswood, NSW
Every Thursday, 10am-9pm

Peking Inn, Pymble

Hot and sour soup (Peking style) – $5.80

The great thing about big family dinners at Chinese restaurants is that you end up ordering lots and lots of dishes and getting a taste of everything, which is the way I like it. Sharing is caring, after all ;)

Pigs’ ears

Being new to this whole foodblogger thing, I went to dinner with my camera but also with some trepidation about taking photos of food with half my extended family waiting for me to finish before they could eat. I told Mum about my hesitations and upon arriving she annouced to the whole table, “Everyone, Jacqui said to not eat the food until she’s taken photos of it!”. As such, I did manage to get my photos but not without someone asking me every 10 minutes or so whether it was ok to eat yet. Ah, the life of a foodblogger.

Vegetarian bean curd rolls

We started off with hot and sour soup, and then some cold dishes such as pigs ears and vegetarian bean curd rolls. Apologies for not having the prices for some of these dishes – I couldn’t actually find them on the menu!

Shallot pancake – $6.80

One of my favourite savoury Peking dishes is the shallot pancake. I’ve found that there are 2 types of these – the one pictured above with the crispy fried casing stuffed with shallots and the other one is an actual pancake with shallots. Naturally I prefer the deep fried version =D

Peking duck (2 courses): Peking duck pancakes and Shanghai handmade fried noodles -$48.80

We order the Peking duck (2 courses) tonight, which includes the Peking duck pancakes using the crispy duck skin and the Shanghai handmade noodles using the duck meat. The menu boldy states that the Peking duck pancakes are ‘reputedly the best in town’ and although I have no complaints about them, they’re certainly nothing special compared to others I’ve had. The serving size of the noodles is also quite small (particularly for a table of 12) with not much duck meat to be seen, but it is nonetheless tasty and not too oily.

Sesame roll with finely chopped meat (4) – $16.80

We also get another Peking favourite – the sesame roll with mince, or as Mum likes to call it, “glasses pockets” (literal translation from Chinese).

Crystal pan fried dumplings

We want to order the pan fried pork dumplings but they don’t have any of these tonight. To compensate we order the “crystal” dumplings which are similar but have a filling of prawns and chives which is quite bland and lacks the soupy interior of the pan fried pork dumplings.

Shan Tung picnic chicken – $16.80

Stir fried four season beans with mince pork, dried shrimp – $16.80

Shan Tung chicken is ordered, along with a serve of stir fried beans with pork and dried shrimp, both of which are delicious. I’m very happy that we also order the Pekingnese white noodles with shredded chicken, vegetables in a creamy soup as it is another one of my favourite dishes.

Shredded chicken, vegetables with Pekingnese white noodle in creamy soup – $12.80

And if that wasn’t enough food already, we also order dessert! The crispy red bean pancake is one of Sir D’s absolute favourite desserts and it doesn’t disappoint. We have to wait a while for it but it was definitely worth it as it comes out piping hot with a resounding crunch as you bite into the pastry, particularly on the coveted corner pieces.

Crispy red bean pancake (Peking style) -$12.80

Since Peking Inn closed in Lindfield and reopened on smaller premises in Pymble, it is often hard to get a table especially on weekend nights so make sure you book in advance. The service is typical Chinese restaurant service and is probably not the best place for a romantic dinner, but the food is authentic Northern Chinese fare and leaves you full and satisfied.

Peking Inn
Shop 1015a Pacific Highway (opposite Pymble Hotel)
Pymble NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 91442997
Lunch: Tuesday – Saturday, 12-3pm
Dinner: Tuesday – Saturday, 5.30-10pm

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Strawberry Eton Mess

After eating a delicious Strawberry Eton Mess at Assiette, I was singing its praises to anyone who would listen. And listen they did – Queen Chu’s mum knew that I was thinking about making it myself at home and kindly gave me a giant slab of leftover meringue! I was a happy penguin indeed =D

Giant slab of meringue courtesy of Queen Chu’s mum!

I didn’t have strawberry sorbet as they had as Assiette, and I don’t really like berry coulis so instead I substituted it with a simple sugar syrup that I used to macerate the strawberries. And even though it wasn’t a “winter warmer” kind of dessert, it was nevertheless oh-so-satisfying!

Strawberry Eton Mess (Serves 6)

1-2 punnets of strawberries (I used 1 1/2), washed, hulled and chopped into small pieces
300mL cream
100g sugar
100mL water
1 giant slab of home-made meringue (recipe below) or 4 bought meringue nests (if using bought meringue nests, go to step 2)

For the meringue:
2 egg whites
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp white vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 100ºC. Using an electric mixer in a clean bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add caster sugar, beating constantly until the mixture is thick and glossy and stiff peaks form. Add vinegar, and beat until well combined. Gently spread meringue over a lined baking sheet and bake for 60 minutes or until dried out.

Strawberries in sugar syrup

2. Place sugar and water in a saucepan and dissolve sugar on medium-high heat until completely dissolved. Simmer for another 2 minutes, then remove from heat (if you prefer a more viscous sugar syrup, you can leave it on the stove for a few more minutes). When cool, place chopped strawberries into sugar syrup and leave to macerate for 30 minutes.

2. Beat cream until stiff peaks form. When ready to serve, crumble meringue into whipped cream and add strawberries and syrup. Fold until combined.