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What do you get when you cross the mentalities of Vietnamese green mango, Greek pan-fried eggplant and a Thai dressing? This happy conglomerate of a salad.

When living in Newtown I frequently endured sad days of having very little food, however, if there was ever an eggplant in the house there was always a meal. Versatile, robust, damn good. It’s saved my hungry butt on many occasions; a symbol of hope and prosperity in financially dark times. My eggplant repertoire is vast and beautiful.

My friend Andrew graced my humble, ethnic hands with some green mangoes and some of his mum’s homemade chili salt the other day after I was banging on about how great it was eating it all the time in Bangkok (get a load of this white guy over here) so to pay tribute to my classic whatever’s in the fridge plus eggplant style of cooking I combined the two. Apologies to all of the traditional dishes that just got owned by my bastardised cooking but I promise it really is fresh and nice and all of those good things. This serves 2 or more mash-up hungry friends.

Eggplant + Green Mango Salad
(an original recipe)

1 eggplant, diced
1 green mango
2 tbs sesame seeds
3 tbs sesame oil

1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tsp fish sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of chili salt (optional)

1. Peel the green mango and slice into thin strips. Alternatively if you have one of those cool graters that does the job for you, use that. Place in fridge to cool.
2 Heat sesame oil in a large pan on high heat. Add eggplant and continue to toss until nicely browned and tender (around 5-10 minutes). Add some extra oil if required.
3. In a smaller pan lightly toast sesame seeds until browned slightly. Transfer into a bowl to cool.
4. Combine all dressing ingredients to taste. In a bowl toss eggplant, sliced mango and half of the sesame seeds. Add dressing to taste, toss and transfer to plate. Garnish with remaining sesame seeds.

With eggplant comes great responsibility versatility. Never forget.

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Around this time last year I was caught in a terrible rut. Within the same week I had lost my job, endured a drastic rent increase and had spent the last of my $$$ on three large bills. Devastated after the news of my impending unemployment I was determined to eat something that wasn’t mi-goreng – in my fridge and pantry I found a small piece of cheese, a can of mex-beans an ex-housemate had left behind months prior, half a packet of stale doritoes from a party way-back-when and a very, very sad looking eggplant. I was determined to make light of this situation.

This is not a pretty dish, mainly since it’s doused in cheese, but it takes me back to a time where I was able to make do with the little I had. This is a re-worked version of this humble conglomerate of stale, kitchen staples from my kitchen of July 2010.


1 eggplant, cut into small cubes

1 can cannellini beans

1 tbs ground corriander seeds

2 tbs olive oil

1 bag unflavoured corn chips


1 cup roughly chopped cheese(s) of your choosing

1/2 cup milk

1 tbs flour

salt + pepper

1. Cut your eggplant into small cubes while heating olive oil in a large pan. Scatter eggplant pieces and stir until beginning to soften – around 5-10 minutes.

2. Introduce your can of cannellini beans along with the ground corriander seeds. (I’m going easy on the spice to make way for the cheese sauce, however, if you have no intention of using cheese then by all means go to town with the corriander; this and eggplant is a match made in heaven.) Lid your pan and turn down the heat allowing the flavours infuse and for your eggplant and beans to soften moreso.

3. Meanwhile, transfer your cheese, milk and flour to a small pot over heat. (The cheese you use is completely up to you; today the objects of my dairy affection were a local gorgonzola, a regular cheddar and some baby bocconcini to mellow out the sauce.) Do not allow to boil but continue to warm and stir until the cheese pieces have entirely melted. Be sure to season to taste.

4. Plate up! In a bowl or plate layer your corn chips, then the eggplant + cannellini beans and generously top with your delicious cheese sauce. Feel free to further top with anything you like; I threw some shallots on top as a vague attempt to eat some greenery (pathetic, I know).

Enjoy with friends or even by yourself whilst watching that episode of Masterchef you missed the night before.

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Given my heritage I was practically born with a leg of lamb in my hand. There comes a time in every Australian-born ethnic girl’s life however where she must say NO to the cascading beef and spend a few days strictly vegetarian for the well-being of the universe. This vegetarian stint begins TODAY.

Subtle hints of garlic embedded in soft potato beside fresh, crunchy cos and a citrusy creamy dressing; what you are about to experience is delicious, healthy and just… AAHHHHH. Amazing.

Garlic Roasted Potato + Cos Lettuce Salad + Ricotta Dressing

(an original recipe)

1 baby cos lettuce

2 potatoes (any variety is fine)

2 cloves garlic, minced

drizzle of olive oil

handful of salad seeds or dukkah (optional)

2 generous tablespoons of fresh ricotta

1 lime

2 tablespoons water

salt + peppercorns

Here are some secret weapons of mine. To the left is the most olivey-olive oil I have ever experienced; the by-product of pickled olives by my parents. I love the manky glass jar, so authenticly homely. To the right; chilli and soy flavoured salad seeds. Crunchy, umani goodness. However I digress.

1. Pre-warm oven to 200°C

2. Roughly chop your potatoes. In a medium sized pan boil the pieces for 15 minutes (this can be omitted if you’d prefer however this step creates a lovely fluffy potato)

3. Remove and strain boiled potato pieces and place in a bowl. Drizzle olive oil and stir through the minced garlic. Transfer to a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, chop your cos and place into a bowl. In another small bowl mix the ricotta, the juice of one lemon, water and generous seasoning (this may seem a little potent but remember there is a lot of lettuce to cover).  Pour 3/4 of of your dressing over the cos and stir through.

5. When your potatoes are ready (they should have lightly crisped edges) carefully place them atop your lettuce while they’re still warm. Drizzle remaining dressing and crown with salad seeds.

Are you feeling rejuvenated yet?

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