The Buttered Bun Sausage Roll with Sauce.

To many the title of this post is a nonsensical string of food-related words. However, to anyone that went to Berkeley High School (now the Illawarra Sports High School) in Berkeley, New South Wales, Australia in the 70s, 80s, and beyond the buttered bun sausage roll with sauce is a nostalgic food memory.

Created by an unknown (at least to me) brilliant food service worker sometime during the 1970s, the buttered bun sausage roll with sauce is unique to Berkeley High School’s canteen (aka tuck shop) and has nourished generations of appreciative teenagers.

The first, and arguably most important of the ingredients in this creation is a bakery-fresh crusty french-style bun with a golden brown yeasty and crunchy crust and a soft crumb moistened with softened butter. Into this bun is stuffed a single piping hot sausage roll, finely ground pork, lightly seasoned and encased in a crust of short pastry then baked until golden brown and flaky.  Tomato sauce (ketchup to my American friends) is the fourth and final ingredient that is slathered over the sausage roll before the bun is closed and the end product wrapped in a sheet of grease-proof paper and handed to the salivating customer. This unlikely combination of ingredients creates a whole that is much more than the sum of its parts; individually each is a beloved food item but together they transcend their identities. Crunchy, soft, buttery, savory, sweet and unique.

While I do not miss high school one iota, I do sometimes miss this unique culinary treat from my childhood.

School badge from

Chicken Adobo

This take on a Filipino favorite takes on a deep reddish-brown hue from a quick braise in a soy sauce and vinegar marinade and stock and a smoky grilled flavor from finishing over a hot grill or cast iron grill pan.

Chicken Adobo

Serves 2-3


  • 6 skinless drumstick pieces
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper
  • 1 cup coconut vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 tablespoon of palm sugar
  1. Wash and thoroughly dry chicken pieces then place in a large glass or ceramic bowl
  2. Place all of the other ingredients except the palm sugar  and chicken broth in a blender and pulse until liquefied to create the marinade/cooking broth..
  3. Reserve an 1/8th cup of marinade and set aside.
  4. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken and massage in well.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at lest 3 hours.
  6. One hour before cooking remove the chicken from the fridge and mix the reserved marinade with the palm sugar until it dissolves
  7. Place chicken and marinade into a medium sized saucepan.
  8. Add enough chicken broth to nearly cover the chicken and heat over medium high and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until legs are just cooked through.
  9. 5 minutes before chicken is done simmering, put a cast iron pan over a medium high heat.
  10. Once chicken is nearly done, remove from broth and allow to drain for a few seconds.
  11. Transfer chicken to cast iron pan, and brush with sauce.
  12. Sear for 2-3 minutes then turn a 1/3 turn and brush with sauce until all surfaces are grilled nicely and lightly glazed.
  13. Remove from heat, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  14. Serve with steamed rice or a fresh salad.



Recipe: Spring Pea and Parmesan Soup

Nothing says springtime quite like the first fresh peas of the season picked from the vine, warmed by the sun. Sweet, tender and bursting with flavor, the peas themselves get plenty of love; however, the pea pods are often overlooked, destined to become compost. This recipe uses the pods to create a delicate but flavorful broth enhanced with the rich umami flavors of aged parmesan cheese.


  • 2 lbs. of fresh peas in the pod
  • ½ cup finely chopped white or yellow onion plus ¼ cup of roughly chopped onion
  • ¼ cup of grated parmesan
  • 2 oz. of parmesan rind (about 3 inches of rind)
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 3 ½ cups of water
  • 1 sprig of fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp. butter


  1. Wash and shell peas. Reserve pea pods for use in broth.
  2. Add pea pods, parsley, roughly chopped onion, and vegetable broth to 3 ½ cups of water in a medium saucepan, bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
  3. Add the parmesan rinds to the saucepan and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  4. Strain and reserve broth.
  5. Melt butter in a clean medium sauce pan over medium low heat
  6. Add finely chopped onion and a pinch of salt and sweat onions with frequent stirring until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add broth to saucepan and bring to a low simmer.
  8. Add peas to saucepan and cook for another 5-10 minutes or until peas are softened.
  9. Puree soup in a blender until smooth, stir in parmesan cheese, and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  10. Garnish with tender pea shoots and serve immediately with crusty buttered baguette.

Two Years and a New Continent

Since our last post, Mindelei and I have moved yet again. We have left Wichita and have set up a new home in the beautiful Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, Australia.
Here macadamia groves, sugar cane fields, and orchards of bananas, finger limes, mangoes, papaya and other luscious tropical fruit dot the landscape amid stands of sub-tropical rain-forest, and where the bounty of the land is sold in the dozens of farmers markets across the region. Where cows with gleaming coats grow fat (and tasty) from grazing on lush grasses and pasture herbs. It is a place where the people are passionate about sustainability and take our responsibility to care for the natural environment seriously; a place where Mindelei and I count ourselves lucky to call home.

Review: Little Saigon’s Beef Phở

Little Saigon 
1015 N Broadway St
 Wichita, Kansas 67214

Here in Wichita another long, hot Kansas summer is quickly approaching. For many people the coming of the summer heat means the end of soup weather, so this post may seem a little untimely.   Yet there are some soups that seem custom-made for the heat of summer; the Beef Phở  from Little Saigon on N. Broadway is one of these soups.

Like most soups, this Vietnamese delicacy begins with a broth; in this case, a lightly flavored beef broth into which a melange of sweet spices (star anise, cinnamon, black cardamom, and coriander seed), charred onion and ginger have slowly been infused.    This exotically scented broth is then ladled over a hearty nest of fine rice noodles, fresh cilantro, shavings of red onion, and thin–almost translucent–slices of beef, which cooks instantly with the heat of the broth.  A platter of accompaniments that include crisp and cool bean sprouts,  spicy sliced fresh jalapeno, tart lime wedges and herbaceous, anise-y Thai basil is served on the side.  These garnishes add a freshness to the soup and are what makes this an ideal meal for a hot languid summer afternoon.

Below is my version of Little Saigon’s Beef Phở.  The recipe makes 3-4 very large bowls of soup if served as a main course or 6-10 if served as a soup course. Enjoy!

Beef Phở

Time: 4.5 hours.

Difficulty: Easy

Serves: 3-4 (Main Course) or 6-10 (soup course)


  •  5 lbs of beef soup bones
  •  1 large onion, peeled and  chopped in half
  •  1″ piece of ginger, peeled
  •  1 bag of pho spices (these are available at most Asian markets)
  •  1 lb of fresh or dried thin rice noodles.
  •  1 lb of beef, thinly sliced
  •  1 bunch of cilantro
  •  1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced into rings
  •  2 tablespoons of fish sauce


  •  1/2 lb of fresh bean sprouts
  •  2 jalapenos, sliced or 10 small red and green Thai chillies, sliced
  •  several large sprigs of Thai basil
  •  2 limes, quartered


Making the broth

  1. Soak beef bones in enough cool, salted water to cover.  Allow to sit for about 10 minutes to remove impurities.
  2. While the bones are soaking, place the onion and ginger into the oven and broil on top rack until onion and ginger start to char a little, turn and char on all sides being careful not to burn the aromatics.
  3. Drain and rinse the bones.
  4. Put the drained and rinsed beef bones into a clean stockpot and add just enough cold water to cover (~1 gallon).   Add charred onion and ginger to stockpot.
  5. Heat stockpot on medium high heat until bubbles just break the surface, one bubble every second or two.  Adjust heat so that this level of simmering is maintained.  Caution: DO NOT boil (boiling will turn your broth cloudy and less clean-tasting.)
  6. Slowly simmer the bones for 3-4 hours, removing the scum as if forms.
  7. While the broth is cooking, put beef in freezer for about 30 minutes to firm up.
  8. Use a sharp chef’s knife to slice beef against the grain as thinly as possible.  Once sliced put beef in a zip lock bag and add ~1 tablespoon of fish sauce.  Place in refrigerator to marinate until needed.
  9. After about 2 and a half hours, remove fat from top of broth with a turkey-baster.
  10. Add spice bag then simmer for 1 more hour.
  11. Remove bones, onion, ginger and spice bag and discard then add 1 tablespoon of fish sauce  and the juice of 1 lime to the broth
  12. Allow broth to continue simmering while finishing the soup.

Finishing the soup.

  1. Cook noodles as per instruction on bag.
  2. Evenly divide noodles and beef among the bowls, and to each bowl add a small handful of cilantro leaves, and a few shavings of red onion.
  3. Ladle hot broth into each bowl and allow to stand for a minute to cook beef before serving.
  4. Serve with large communal platter of bean sprouts, sliced jalapeno peppers (or finely sliced Thai peppers), lime wedges, and Thai basil.
  5. Season to taste with additional fish sauce, soy sauce, or salt.

Review: El Pollo Dorado al Carbon

El Pollo Dorado al Carbon

W. 21st N. and N. Wellington Pl.

Wichita, KS 67203

*Cash Only

If you drive down W. 21st St in Wichita in the late afternoon, chances are that by the time you approach the 200 block you will notice that the air takes on the delicious scent of mesquite smoke and grilled meat. This delightful aroma emanates from a bright yellow food truck, El Pollo Dorado al Carbon (or more accurately the large charcoal grill next to the truck) that can often be found on the north-east corner of W 21st and Wellington.

This truck does one thing–charcoal-grilled chicken–and it does it very well. Out of the small window of the vehicle pieces of chicken, golden/orange from marinating in achiote paste and other herbs and spices, magically appear with a small selection of salsas, ranchero beans, and freshly cooked corn tortilla. The chicken–lightly-spiced and scented with mesquite smoke–is succulent, tender, unctuous, unbelievably flavorful, and grilled to perfection.


The accompaniments are just as delicious. The ranchero beans are flavored with the traditional bean-herb epazote that for some can be an acquired taste, but they are plentiful and served piping hot. The corn tortillas are soft, hot and delicious; the light perfume created by the nixtamalization process is the perfect compliment to the aroma of the grilled chicken. On the night my wife and I visited El Pollo Dorado, we were served three salsas: a garlicky salsa de arbol that would have turned cardboard into a gourmet meal (and have driven-off vampires for at least a two-block radius), a light guacamole laced with habanero peppers and lime juice, and a thin and deceptively spicy, habanero-spiked citrus salsa that I would buy by the tub if it were commercially available.

Like most food trucks in the area, cash is the only form of payment.  Half a bird with sides was $8.95 + tax while a whole bird with sides runs $13.95 + tax.  It is worth every penny… .

Recipe: Thai Chicken and Basil

Thai food is one of the world’s great cuisines.  I discovered this a  teenager growing up in Australia when the irresistible aromas coming from a newly opened restaurant lured me in, while the combination of spice, salt, sweet, and sour that is characteristic of Thai food hooked me completely.

This recipe, an adaptation of one of Thailand’s most famous dishes, Pad Krapow, has a depth of flavor that belies its simplicity.  The entire process, from chopping the ingredients to serving, takes no more than 30 minutes.  Some of the more exotic ingredients may be hard to find at your local mega-market but if you live in a town with a sizable Asian population, you will most likely be able to find a specialty Asian grocer that stocks everything you need (and much, much more).

Thai Chicken and Basil


  •  1 lb of boneless chicken breast or thighs, chopped finely
  •  1 cup of Thai basil leaves (or better yet, holy basil if you can find it)
  •  4 cloves of garlic, minced
  •  1/4 of a medium-sized onion, finely diced
  •  1 teaspoon of red or green Thai pepper, finely chopped (~ two peppers)
  •  1 teaspoon of pad prik khing paste (or red curry paste)
  •  1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  •  1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  •  1/2 tablespoon of kecap manis (a sweet, thick soy sauce) *
  •  1 tablespoon of brown sugar (or palm sugar)
  •  1 and 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  •  1/3 cup of water

*Note: If kecap manis is unavailable add an extra teaspoon of dark soy and 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar.


Important:  Prepare and assemble all ingredients and place them somewhere within easy reach of the cook top where you will be working.  Once the cooking starts it goes very quickly and needs almost constant attention.

  1. Heat a medium-sized wok, or a 12″ skillet, over medium high heat until very hot.
  2. Add oil to pan and immediately add onions and garlic.  Stir fry until aromatic ~10 to 15 seconds making sure not to let the garlic scorch.
  3. Add the chicken to the wok and stir to mix the onions, garlic and chicken together.
  4. Stir fry until the chicken just begins to lightly brown about 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add the pad prik khing or red curry paste and stir fry for a few seconds to coat the meat.
  6. Add the Thai chili, soy sauce, kecap manis, sugar, and the fish sauce to the wok.  Let cook for 1 minute, stirring every few seconds.
  7. Add the water to the wok and cook for another minute, stirring mixture occasionally.
  8. Add basil leaves then stir to mix the basil into the mixture. Continue to cook the mixture until basil is just wilted then remove from heat ~ 15 seconds. Serve.


Steamed jasmine rice is a perfect partner for this dish.  If you are looking a for a light meal or are counting carbs, place 1 or 2 tablespoons of the Thai Chicken and Basil into lettuce leaves (soft lettuces like butter or bibb work best), and eat like a little green taco.

Review: Panaderia El Marmol

Panaderia el Marmol
713 W South Ave
Emporia, KS 66801
* Cash only

Looks can be deceiving–especially when it comes to restaurants.  A quick glance at the gaudy purple facade, green interior and old worn booths of Panaderia El Marmol belies the goodness to be found emanating from its kitchen.  This restaurant and bakery located across from the skate park on South Ave in Emporia, Kansas has a very limited menu but what it does, it does very well.

One of the highlights of this hole-in-the-wall eatery are the fresh tacos.  Built upon a double layer of  delicate and flavorful homemade corn tortilla and available with a variety of meats from the regular suspects of carne asada, pollo, and al pastor, to more exotic fillings like lengua and tripitas (which is excellent when cooked extra-crispy), and topped with a simple salsa of cilantro and fresh onion tossed in lime juice, these tacos are small, delicious and inexpensive.

However, these moreish delights are not the star of the show–that role is played by the pupusa.  These luscious discs of masa are stuffed with a simple mixture of shredded pork and cheese and then fried on a comal until golden brown and tender.  They are served piping hot with fresh radishes, lime wedges and a sublime curtido, a lightly brine-pickled mixture of cabbage and carrot tossed with tiny chunks of pickled jalapeno and moistened with the savory smokiness of the house salsa roja, a side dish that makes most coleslaw seem bland and uninspired.   To describe the combination of hot pupusa and cool, tangy curtido as delicious is an understatement.

Tacos and Pupusa from El Marmol
Tacos and Pupusa from El Marmol

The restaurant can get busy during the lunch hour,  but given that everything is prepared when you order, service is surprisingly fast and always friendly.  For the price of a fast food meal you can eat a fresh and wholesome meal that is tasty and supports a great local business.  Panaderia El Marmol stocks a range of paleta (Mexican ice cream treats) from Paleteria de Reynes in Wichita-the perfect foil for a hot Kansas summer day (hint: try the cantaloupe), and a variety of Mexican sodas that are natural partners for the food.

Cheese and Bacon Rolls

In and around the Sydney area of New South Wales, Australia early morning is heralded by the smell of crusty bread wafting from bake shops that dot the landscape.  Bakeries like these are very few and far between in the US and none of them I have found sell what is the pinnacle of the baker’s art (well at least in my opinion) – the Cheese and Bacon Roll.   These little bits of heaven consist of french bread – crisp and crusty on the outside, soft and light in the center – topped with a combination of bacon and cheddar cheese and cooked until the cheese becomes brown, nutty and toasted.  Here is my version of this Aussie bake shop classic.


550g AP Flour
250mL of water
125mL of whole milk
7g of instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbls olive oil
1 cup of grated cheese
50g of finely chopped bacon or country ham.


Note:  All weights and volumes have been expressed in metric for the simple fact that weighing in grams and measuring in mL is much more accurate than using imperial measurements.

  1. Weigh out flour and yeast then add liquid ingredients. Mix until dough just comes together, cover and allow to autolyse for 1 hr.  This step helps build gluten.
  2. Add salt to dough and mix using a dough hook on medium speed for 7-8 minutes or knead for 8-10 minutes.  Place dough in a large bowl that has been greased with olive oil, cover and place in a warm spot.
  3. Allow to rise until volume of dough has doubled.
  4. Gently deflate dough by folding the corners into the middle.
  5. Divide dough into 8 balls of equal size ~ 125g each, and place dough balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat silicone mat.
  6. Make a small indent in each dough ball and sprinkle bacon and cheese on dough.  Allow dough to rise until nearly doubled in size.
  7. Bake in a HOT 425 F oven until cheese is toasted and bread is golden brown.   To make a crispier crust, toss 6 or 7 ice cubes into the bottom of the oven to create steam at the start of baking.

Best served warm.

Easy Beef Stew

Nothing is better on a cold and grey winter day than a steaming bowl of hearty stew served with fresh-baked crusty bread.  The tender chunks of beef, potato and carrot, combined with the thick rich onion-laced gravy create a delicious meal that will warm the soul, if not the temperature outside.  This sumptuous and easy to make stew gets its depth of flavor from sweet-savory caramelized onions, red wine, and long, slow simmering.  When it comes to stews the most important ingredient is time.

I like to use a heavy enameled dutch oven to cook the stew as it provides more even heating (which prevents sticking and burning) and it does a much better job of caramelizing the ingredients than a non-stick pan.  Do not use a crock-pot to cook this recipe; while crockpots may be convenient, these do not heat up enough to produce the depth of flavor that makes a great tasting dish.

  • 1 1/2 lbs of stew beef cut into 1/2″ cubes.
  • 3 medium potatoes roughly chopped into 1 inch cubes.
  • 1 medium onion cut in eights lengthwise.
  • 1 large onion roughly diced.
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced.
  • 1/4 cup of tomato ketchup. 
  • 3 large carrots chopped into 1 inch pieces.
  • 1 celery stalk, finely sliced.
  • 1 pinch of dried oregano.
  • 1 pinch of dried thyme.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of paprika.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried parsley.
  • 1 bay leaf.
  • Beef broth.
  •  1/4 cup of your favorite inexpensive red wine. 
  •  Olive oil (or bacon drippings).
  1. Heat an enameled  dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot.
  2. Add ~ 1 tsp of oil or drippings and the roughly diced onion,  reduce heat to medium and slowly cook the onions until they begin to caramelize to a light golden color.  Add the finely minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes or until garlic no longer smells raw.
  3. Add wine to the pan to de-glaze.  Scrape the fond off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Cook for another minute or so until the alcohol is cooked off then remove the caramelized onions from pan.  Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel. 
  4. Add another teaspoon of oil to the pan, turn heat to medium-high and brown the meat in several batches.  Don’t stir meat too often, you want the meat to brown nicely and leave its fond on the bottom of the pan. 
  5. Once all of the meat has been browned, add the carrots, cooked and raw onion, and bay leaf .  Cook until the onion just starts to turn translucent.
  6. Add enough beef broth to just about cover meat, stir in herbs, spices, and ketchup then season well with kosher salt.  Bring to a slow simmer, layer the potatoes on top and reduce heat to low.
  7. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours or until meat is tender and the potatoes have started to cook down. Remove bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper.   Allow to cool and place in refrigerator overnight; this allows the flavors to mingle and intensify.
  8. Before serving, heat stew over medium-low heat until hot.  If you like, a cupful of frozen peas or mixed vegetables makes a tasty addition.   
  9. Serve with fresh crusty bread and a glass of your favorite red wine.