Kaffir Lime Roasted Chicken

Have you ever crushed a Kaffir lime leaf in your hand and smelt it?  Grab yourself some Kaffir lime leaves and do it, its amazing and just how this chicken will taste when you try it.

WE Love a roasted chook in our household, summer, spring or winter.. Its so user friendly… everyone eats it and it cooks itself !  This time I infused the cavity with some lemon and some kaffir lime leaves.

My girls love stuffing, but this time I just used the aromatics and made them a little pan gravy on the side.



photography by Andre Martin 

recipe and styling by Sydney food stylist Jane Collins 


Kaffir Lime Roasted Chicken  

Prep time 5 minutes

Cooking time 1 hour 15 mins

Serves 4-6


1.8kg whole fresh chicken

2 lemons, halved

4 or 5 kaffir lime leaves, crushed , plus extra to serve

2 Tbsp olive oil

sea salt

cracked black pepper



1 Preheat oven to 180c. or 160 fan forced. Line a tray or your favourite pan with baking paper. Place chicken on a board and stuff with the lemon, the last half of lemon you can squeeze all over the chicken. Stuff a few kaffir lime leaves into cavity. Drizzle with olive oil , sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Place onto prepared tray or pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. If your oven is like mine and there is a hot spot at the back, turn after about 40 minutes to cook evenly.Baste with the juices.

2 Remove from oven and let rest covered with foil for  about 20 minutes to relax the meat and let the flavours infuse. The chicken is cooked when the juices run clear when you cut between the  the leg and the breast.

I serve this chicken with extra lime leaves stuffed between the legs.  if you want to make a gravy for this chicken,drain off most of the juices into a saucepan( or the baking tin if its goes from oven to stove top )  and bring to the boil over medium high heat, add 1-2 tablespoons of plain flour and stir, cooking  for 1- 2 minutes, slowly pour in about 2 cups  hot chicken stock whisking all the time to make a smooth gravy ,or  boiling water from the kettle if you don’t have chicken stock and let simmer for 5 minutes till thickened. Season with sea salt & cracked pepper and serve.





sesame salmon with apple cider dressing

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photography by Andre Martin

 recipe and styling by Sydney food stylist Jane Collins 

Salmon is a super food, and its no wonder, healthy, nutritious and super easy to cook. I like it a little on the rare side, so its till soft and tender.

I used pearl cous cous here, and not regular cous cous, but you could substitute, especially if you are low on time. I have also done this recipe with sesame crusted chicken. You will need to pop the oven on  to 180c. Sear the chicken the same as salmon, but finish it off in the oven so the sesames seeds don’t take on too much colour.

Flake the salmon, as the seeds make it had to cut a nice sharp edge. this will give a more rustic feel to the dish.

If you can’t source Vietnamese mint, use dill or your favourite  herb. 

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Sesame salmon with apple cider vinegar dressing

Serves 4

Prep time 10 minutes

Cooking time 15 minutes


1 cup pearl cous cous

1 ½ cup boiling water

600g piece of salmon fillet

¼ cup sesame seeds

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

100g swiss brown mushrooms

1 cup picked Vietnamese mint



¼ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp Dijon mustard




1 Place the pearl cous cous in a medium saucepan and cover with boiling water, bring to the boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low cover and cook for 8-10 minutes till water has been absorbed and cous cous is tender. Set aside.

2 Sprinkle salmon with sesame seeds. Heat half the oil in a frypan to medium high heat and cook salmon for 3 minutes each side. Depending on how thick your piece of salmon is it may take less or more time. Turn over and cook the other side. Remove from heat and place salmon on a plate, cover with foil and allow to rest. Flake into pieces.

3 Wipe clean the pan with a paper towel and heat remaining oil.  Add garlic and mushrooms, cook for 3-4 minutes tossing till golden brown.

4 Combine cous cous and salmon. Place onto a platter, and scatter on mushrooms, mint and drizzled with dressing.

5 To make dressing – combine all ingredients in to a screw top jar and shake till combined.


eggs gypsy style

I meet lots of cool people in my job, like minded and hard working. Yesterday I worked with a food prep that I had meet over 7 years ago. We had an inspiring day talking shop and ideas and food, travel, family and friends. It was up lifting and exciting to get some of my ideas out. These eggs are inspired by Lara/ eyes of a gypsy.

Each Saturday/ Sunday  I post eggs in some “style “. This began just as my breakfast on the weekend when I had more time to cook. Now I have started to record these and  the recipes.These are made purely from what’s in my fridge at the end of the week.kale eggs with chilli lara style 3

Recipe styling and photography by Sydney Food stylist Jane Collins

We were on a super foods shoot for an editorial piece and had lots  of yummy ingredients and recipes .These beans were a stand out and so delicious. You can buy them at Asian grocery stores.These ones were frozen, and we  just thawed them out.

edamame beans  lara style eggs



kale eggs with chilli lara style 2

 eggs gypsy style


Serves 2

Prep time 10 minutes

Cooking time 5 minutes

4 eggs

4 slices of soy and linseed bread

1/4 cup hummus, homemade or your favourite

1 cup shredded kale

1/2  cup edamame beans fresh or frozen

sprinkle of chilli powder

1 small  fresh chilli, sliced

Snip of micro watercress

Drizzle  of extra virgin olive oil


1 Heat a medium saucepan half filled with water over high heat, till water begins to boil, reduce heat to medium high. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and, one by one  while the water is simmering NOT boiling, tip the eggs in.  You can swirl if you like, but not too hard  to bust up the eggs. Cook for 1-2 minutes till the white is firm , but the yolk is still soft.  The freshest eggs work the best for  poaching.

2 Meanwhile toast the bread slices and top with hummus, shredded  kale and edamame beans.  Scoop the eggs out of the water with a slotted spoon so the water drains off. I also drain quickly on a piece of paper towel, so the toast doesn’t go soggy.Pop the eggs on top of  prepared toasts and sprinkle with chilli powder, chilli and micro watercress. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.


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Vietnamese Salad Bowl

Fresh clean salads are an easy way to fill up on healthy refreshing ingredients, and they taste great too. This is super simple and can be made in a flash.

I usually serve it with my sweet chilli dressing, that, once made will last for a few weeks in the fridge. You can grab a ready made Vietnamese salad dressing or simply use your favourite Asian one.  HERBS are essential here and I believe truly make this dish.

I use lots of coriander, Vietnamese mint, regular mint and Thai basil if you can your hands on some.Its simply a matter of tossing everything together,  I like to show what’s on offer in the bowl , so I separated each component. You can serve it like this or simply toss together.



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photography by Andre martin 

recipe and styling by Jane Collins 

Vietnamese Salad Bowl

Serves- 4

Prep time- 25 minutes

Cooking time- 20 minutes

100g mixed lettuce

200g cherry tomatoes, halved

4 or 5 radishes, sliced thinly and into matchsticks

4 eggs, soft boiled

2 cucumbers, cut into thin strips

1 cup bean sprouts, trimmed

1 cup mixed herbs  Vietnamese mint, Thai  basil, coriander , Mint

200g BBQ pork, sliced

400g thin rice noodles, softened over boiling water

1/4 cup roasted cashew nuts

1 tsp Japanese Shichimi Togarashi ( or your favourite chilli powder )

Sweet chilli Sauce 

1 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 long chilli, sliced

4 coriander roots, washed and bruised

2 eshallots,( small purple ones )  peeled and roughly sliced

1 lime, halved, squeezed

2 tsp fish sauce


1 Place all  sweet chilli sauce ingredients into a small saucepan over medium heat, bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes till thickened.  Cool completely. add lime juice and fish sauce to taste.  Store in an air tight contanier in the fridge.

2 Place all salad ingredients into a bowl as pictured, or simply toss together. Pour over dressing to serve.









PonyRider chai - set up

Recipe and styling by Jane Collins 

Do you have a tea drinking friend who would love a homemade gift this Christmas . Package up all the particulars and a little love and this one will go down a treat.Pony Rider and I gathered some old tins and a billy can to complete the gift. The chai can be freshly made and boiled on the stove top or the open fire.

PonyRider_chai hands in

Chai tea with cinnamon and spices

Serves 4

Prep time to make present- 15 minutes

Prep time for tea- 5 minutes

1 cup loose tea leaves

2 sticks of cinnamon

½ cup of Condensed milk

20  whole cloves

1 vanilla bean, split

1 To make the present, combine tea leaves, cloves, cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans. Wrap in a piece of muslin or linen. Tie with a piece of string. Place chai tea bag  in a  billy tin  with condensed milk.

PonyRider_Mackerel chai 3

Serve hot with a little condensed milk .


PonyRider_ openerFood as gifts has always been high on my ” to do list” at Christmas time. Its personal, tasty and they wont have another one like it!  Experiment and create something unique. Next year your friends will be asking  you for the recipe for your famous whiskey nuts ! Well now is the time to kick off your shoes, dig deep and crank out some hours  in the kitchen. I actually love it and cant wait for Christmas to roll around again for another year.

These gifts are a little selection of a few things Kelly over at Pony rider  asked me to contribute to her Christmas wish list.  Check out her uber cool collection!

You can make these whiskey nuts up to a couple of days before you need to hand them out, and they last for a few weeks in an air tight jar. I made these the night before our shoot,  I had roasting nuts, being tossed in hot whiskey, maple syrup and butter- the whole house smelt divine !

These are all super simple and made for packaging up and giving out as gifts.

Cool them completely before packaging in jars.
Whiskey nuts

Serves 10 hungry guests as a starter with a cold beer or chilled champagne

Makes 8 x 1 cup jars/ presents.

Time you need to get ready – 5 minutes

Cooking time- 30 minutes

8 cups (1 kg) mixed nuts of your choice – we used walnuts, cashews, raw almonds

150g butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup (125 ml) whiskey or  bourbon

1Preheat oven to 180c or 160c fan forced. Line a tray with baking paper; this saves on washing up and keeps the nuts from sticking to the base of the tray.  Tip the mixed nuts onto the tray in one layer.

2 Next in a small saucepan combine butter, maple syrup and whiskey. Cook over medium heat, stirring till melted and smooth. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. Pour whiskey syrup over nuts in an even layer and stir gently to coat. Flatten out in a single layer.

3 Cook for 25-30 minutes till golden and fragrant. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before packaging.

4 Pack the cooled nuts up into jars, with tight fitting lids.

We spray painted the lids matt black.

If you  don’t have any kitchen scales the butter usually comes with a 50g segmented on the paper, just chop of 3 of those and throw in the pan with the maple and the whiskey. If you feel adventurous, add some sunflower seeds, or sesame seeds to mix it up.

PonyRider_nuts hero


recipe and styling by Jane Collins 

spaghetti and meatballs

spaghetti & meatballas cheese

recipe and styling Sydney food stylist Jane Collins

photography Rob Shaw


I used to find meatballs too dry and uninteresting…  I obviously was eating the wrong meatballs.  These are tender, easy to cook and almost a one pot wonder !  I pan fry these all in one frypan and used all the beautiful brown crusty bits that fall off when you cook them as the base for the eshallots to cook in.Be sure to add any juices that have been released from the meatballs resting into the sauce, these makes then even tastier.

I believe it starts with the cream soaked bread …… and the tomatoes must be of highest quality, the mince too needs a little bit of fat in it , so don’t be afraid to go 4 star. The fat adds the flavour and texture and helps keep it moist… and then there is the love! Each ball must be rolled with love and a bit of cheeky laughter. Even my fussy daughters – who  until recently would only eat plain spaghetti  love these.

So try them and see what you think.
Spaghetti and Meatballs

Prep time 30 min
Cooking time  20 min
2 slices  day old white bread, cut the hard crust off

1/4 cup pure cream500 g beef mince, 4 star, with a little fat still
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 egg
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 tsp chopped rosemary
2 tsp  lemon zest
For the tomato sauce:
¼ cup olive oil
2 eshallots,  ( the small purple ones ) finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
400g can Mutti ( Italian tomatoes )tomatoes
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp sugar
400g spaghetti

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Baby basil leaves to serve

1 For the meatballs, place the bread into a bowl and pour the cream over, set aside for a few minutes to  soften. In a large bowl combine the bread with mince, garlic, egg, parsley, rosemary and lemon zest. Season well with salt and ground black pepper and shape into walnut-sized meatballs.
2 Heat  half the olive oil in a frypan and cook the meatballs for 6-8 minutes  turning until brown on all sides.  Remove from pan, keeping warm on a covered plate.

3 For the tomato sauce, heat remaining oil in the same frypan, ( dont wipe it clean, use all the little brown bits to add flavour to the sauce )  over medium high heat, cook eshallots and garlic for 1-2 minutes until softened . Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes, add the meatballs and any juices back into the pan. Reduce heat, simmer with lid on  for 10 minutes till sauce has thickened and meatballs are cooked through. Season with salt, sugar and cracked  black pepper.
3 Meanwhile cook spaghetti in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, as packet directs. Drain.
4  Serve spaghetti with meatballs and sauce, Sprinkle with Parmesan  and basil leaves to serve.

meatballas & spaghetti 2

whoops ! the photographer flicked the table around and the plate and the meatballas went flying !!!  It landed in such  a cool pattern and a very artistic splat that I had to take a photo. We didnt eat this portion… luckily there was more in the pan.  BUT the beautiful dish broke.. another one bites the dust .

meatballs & spaghetti 4