Cooking the Books…week 4…and introducing, Cooking the Menu…

Inspired by my friend Mel over at The Cooks Notebook, I’ve taken on the challenge to cook from as many of my cookbooks this year as I can.

What came out of the books and onto the table this week?


The Book:

The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, Dr Manny Noakes with Dr Peter Clifton

The recipe: Poached chicken breast with soy, ginger and spring onion

Essentially, this is chicken poached in master stock, well, sort of.

I’d made a chicken stock earlier in the day, and used a litre of that in this recipe, adding just shaoxing wine, ginger, tamari, a cinnamon stick and star anise to flavour the stock.

With some steamed greens and a little rice, this is a quick, easy and healthy meal…and is on the table in around 30 minutes.

To do ahead:

If you have the stock ready, or are opening a pack of it, there’s nothing really to be done in advance.

My tips:

I used the remaining stock the following day with some egg noodles and left over poached chicken for a yummy and healthy take on chicken noodle soup for lunch.

The verdict:

Healthy and tasty.


The Book:


Simple Chinese Cooking, by Kylie Kwong

The recipes:


Because it was Chinese New Year, I’d decided to and indulge in a special Chinese Takeaway made at home feast. I even pulled out my posh chopsticks- the ones I bought at Shanghai Tang on my second visit to Hong Kong.

To finish off, Miss 15 dipped some fortune cookies in chocolate. Next time I’ll have a go at making my own…including the little slips.


King Prawn Toasts p122

First up was a very yummy version of the fried takeaway favourite- prawn toasts.

As I was peeling and dicing prawns to be mixed in with julienned ginger, spring onions and coriander, Miss 15 said: ‘so, there’s real prawn in prawn toasts?’

Yes. There is.

I have no idea how these hold together on the bread in the frying process, nor do I need to know…it was enough that they did. I think it has something to do with the sesame seeds.


To do ahead:

The prawn mix can be made up in advance- an hour or so (covered) in the fridge allows the flavours to meld beautifully.

I also popped the prepared prawny, bready bits into the fridge to firm up for 10 minutes or so before I fried them.

My tips:

I followed this recipe to the letter- as a result, the bread and the prawns didn’t part company.

The verdict:

A guilty pleasure that tasted so much better than the mass produced ones the takeaways sell. For the record, prawn toasts are no 28 on our local takeaway menu.

Stir-fried chicken fillets with cashew nuts p82

Miss 15 has led a deprived life- up until Thursday night, she had never had chicken and cashew nuts.

Nor has she had sweet and sour pork or lemon chicken or beef and black bean chicken…or any of those country RSL Chinese classics.

My memories of sweet and sour pork and lemon chicken aren’t pretty, although I have eaten both, with immense pleasure, in Hong Kong.

So anyways, a mini project has been launched to cook the contents of the takeaway menu.

This version of chicken and cashew nuts doesn’t have the stodgy texture that you tend to get in many takeaway versions. Instead it’s fresh, light, and healthy. Marinated in shaoxing wine, a little cornflour and a little water, the flavours are enhanced, the chicken tender, and the consistency nothing like glue.

Thinly sliced cucumbers are added to the stir fry at the last minute.


To do ahead:

The chicken can be marinated for 30 minutes prior to cooking.

My tips:

As with all stir fries, have all your ingredients chopped and ready to go.

The verdict:

Will do again. No. 82 on the takeaway menu.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

2 thoughts

  1. Love Chinese food (and Thai & Vietnamese) but am yet to find a fave takeaway in my not-so-new hometown. Chicken with cashews is always a fallback for me if I’m trying a new place – yours looks yummy – though I haven’t heard of shaoxing wine before….

    1. You can buy it in Coles or Woolies, Deb. It’s cheap as. Sometimes it’s called Chinese cooking wine. Sherry is a substitute…The recipe came in at around 7 points- in case you’re interested…I didn’t even try & calculate the prawn toasts- obviously Thursday night was my cheat meal!

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