Emily Loves Food

Chengdu Chicken

A quick, easy stir fry, with tangy bold flavours. It’s super healthy, super easy, and it’s on the table in half an hour. Toss it together with whatever vegetables you have on hand.

Happy New Year little bloggie!

Cross my heart, I’ll put some more food in you this year.

I’ve only just rediscovered the joy of a fat cookbook on my shelf: The Complete Book of Modern Asian, courtesy of the Women’s Weekly. Because it turns out the Woman’s Weekly actually has a good recipe or too tucked between the royal baby and 100 weightloss tips for the new year. I bought this book a few years ago, five hundred pages of well-photographed Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian and Japanese dishes. There’s quite a few duck dishes – which aren’t financially viable for me, but there’s an equal measure of cheap-n-easy recipes, like this one. I adapted it slightly, based on what I had on hand – which I personally think make it better. Not to toot my own horn or anything.

I had an awesome new years at Tom’s place on Great Barrier, burning under the summer sun. It was relaxed and easy, with late nights and late mornings. I’ve written about his place on here before, so I wont repost the photos, but it’s pretty cool. Second only to our place at Taupo, which we’ll be heading down to in a week or so.

Ahh, I love summer.

Anyway, make this on an uninspiring thursday night. It’ll spice it up just the right amount. I’ve put measurements here, but you can easily do it by eye (1 tsp is a small glug, one 1tbs is a big glug) and it’ll come out fine.




Chengdu Chicken – Serves 4

Prep time: 20 mins  Cook time: 15 mins

  • 800g chicken breast fillets, chopped coarsely
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs Chinese cooking wine or Mirin
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbs peanut oil
  • Two big handfuls each chopped cabbage and spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, cut into thin half moons
  • 1 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tbs grated finely orange rind
  • 2 tbs sambal oelek
  • a few sesame seeds, to sprinkle

Combine chicken, half of the soy, half of the wine and half of the sesame oil in a large bowl. Cover and marinate for as long as you have.

Heat 1 tbs of peanut oil in a frypan or wok; stir fry spinach until just starting to wilt, chuck in the cabbage for 30 seconds or so, then remove the whole lot and cover to keep warm.

Heat half of the remaining peanut oil in the pan, stir fry chicken in batches, until browned.

Heat the remaining peanut oil, stir fry garlic, ginger and onion until the onion has just softened. Chuck the chicken back in with the remaining soy, wine and sesame oil, as well as the vinegar, honey, orange rind and sambal; stir fry until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve over the spinach and cabbage, with some sesame seeds sprinkled on top. You could have this with yellow or udon noodles, or basmati rice, like I did. Or just as is, if you’re looking for less dishes.

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

The perfect christmas treat. A chewy brown sugar based cookie, punctuated with dark chocolate chips and sweet dried cranberries. If you prefer white chocolate, chuck white chocolate in instead. Then pile them high in a cookie jar and pull it out on christmas day.

Unfortunately it on-and-off rained on christmas here. Which, in New Zealand, where december is well into official ‘summer time’, is a little disappointing. Especially since 90% of the days have been beaming with sunlight since we got back from Thailand. I suppose it’s more like ‘turkey weather’ – which is when we imagine ourselves to be on the opposite side of the globe, rugged up with a crackling fire and wearing fuzzy socks and mittens.

(That being said, the one time I was on the other side of the world for christmas, it was a stellar day that would have rivalled our summer. Everyone had to run out and buy shorts, because we thought we had been coming into winter, and had only packed warm clothes.)

And of course, there’s the post-christmas lethargy that big meals and bigger deserts with fun-sized chocolate bars squeezed in between can only bring. Certainly, these cookies wont have helped.

But hey, it’s christmas.




Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies – Makes about 20-24 cookies

Prep time: 15 mins  + chilling time Cook time: 15 mins

Adapted from the Little and Friday Cookbook

  • 125 grams butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of a mixture of dark chocolate chunks and cranberries – ratio to taste

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla essence, and beat again, until voluptuous and moussey.

Remove the bowl from the mixer, and add in the flour, baking powder and salt (sift it if you’re worried about lumps, but I personally hate sifting, and skip it in anything but the finest angel food cake.) Use a spatula or wooden spoon to mix it all together into a soft dough, then add in the cranberries and chocolate chips.

Tip the dough into a zip-lock plastic bag, and pop it in the fridge for at least an hour – overnight is ideal – to chill and firm up.

Preheat the oven to 180c and line two cookie trays with non-stick baking paper.

Roll the chilled cookie dough into rounded tablespoons, and place the delicious little spheres about a three-finger-width apart on the cookie tray.

Bake in the oven for 15-17 mins, or until golden brown*. Remove, and allow to cool and set completely before packing away.

* Because of how much brown sugar there is in the recipe, you can expect the cookies to come out darker, with a more caramelly flavour than white-sugar based cookies. So don’t worry if you think they look a bit browner than normal, so long as they aren’t burnt.

Christmas Marshmallows

If you’ve come for the recipe for my christmas marshmallows because you’re actually interested in making them and not at all interested in looking at photos of the candy and reading about my life, this wee paragraph is for you.
This is exactly the same recipe as my Vanilla Marshmallows, followed to a tee, with red food colouring added. You can marble the read food colouring my dripping a tiny bit onto the mallows just after you’ve transferred the sticky mess into the tin and then swirling it with a toothpick or skewer. It’s that easy.


But I thought that these were so cute that they deserved their own post.

Especially since it’s a week from christmas, and I haven’t posted in what – two months?

That’s because Tom and I have been in Thailand and Cambodia. Now this is a food blog, and not a travel blog, so I wont bore you with the play-by-play – but we had a fantastic time.

We traveled to five cities – Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket in Thailand, and Phnom Penh and Siam Reap in Cambodia. Each was unique, and each was thrilling, but our favourite places were undoubtedly Chiang Mai and Siam Reap – both slightly similar in the sense that they are a smaller tourist capital, compared to the business capital of the country. But the people were friendly and welcoming (especially the Cambodians, who we fell in love with), and we packed in experiences.

So I suppose you’ll have to take this as a sort-of apology for not making a whole heap of december treats – but I’m not really that sorry. As much as I love cooking, I fell in love with Thailand and Cambodia that little bit more.


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Anyway, I employed Tom’s help to make these marshmallows. He’s usually fairly eager in the kitchen when there’s a delicious result, and especially eager when there’s a bowl to be licked.