Friday, October 1, 2010

Why so quiet...

We've had some tragedy befall us, hence the lack of posts, hope you all understand.

I hope cooking and eating will become a distraction once more, so please be patient with me dear readers.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Lilianfels, Katoomba

We had a short break from the hustle and bustle of work and life, and got to stay a couple of nights in Katoomba - and it was freezing!  There was frost on the grass in the mornings, but the air was so crisp and cool it was incredibly refreshing.

One of the highlights of our trip was some afternoon tea at Lilianfels.  I couldn't quite justify $55/head for High Tea with my husband, but I could have little plates of scones, biscuits and pav!

The sitting room is so lovely and cosy, it was the perfect place to get away from the cold and to have an elegant Devonshire tea.  I think from now on, a trip to the mountains could not do without a cuppa at Lilianfels, it's definitely highly recommended.

Scones with clotted cream and jam.  
Comes with a pot of tea!

A selection of biscuits

Pavlova, with cream and berry compote

Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa,
Lilianfels Avenue, Katoomba NSW 2780
ph: (02) 4780 1200

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

McCain Sweet Potato SuperFries

I was lucky enough to get a sample of McCain's new range of Sweet Potato SuperFries a few weeks ago.

What did I think?

Firstly, I love sweet potato, so the product was already very appealing to me.  I was sent two types of fries - the Crinkle Cut and the Thin Cut, and I definitely like the Crinkle Cut better.  Because of the ridges, the Crinkle Cut chips end up being more crispy than the Thin Cut ones.

Secondly, they're cholesterol free (that's really good for me!).

We served the SuperFries with some sour cream and sweet chilli sauce and they were delicious.

Please go out and try them, they're definitely worth having in the freezer for that next lazy meal accompaniment!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Joseph Joseph 8-Piece Food Preparation Nesting Set

I came across this product in the world wide web...what an awesome product!

I live in a relatively small space where storage is an issue, and I think this would make me throw out all my miss-matched mixing bowls for a better functional and storage solution.

It's called the Nest 8™ Preparation Bowl Set.

What are your good storage solutions for cookware?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

No photo-taking!

I've come across a couple of places on Dank St, Waterloo that have a no-photo policy.  In fact, I've been asked to delete the photos I've managed to take (they've waited as I do it).  No photos of the interiors, of the menu of the food, etc.

{Cameras ..//, originally uploaded by Only u*.

My friend was also showing me photos on her digital camera during our meal, and I had a lot of warning/worried looks from the servers of this particular place (which is located on top of a fruit shop)..ahem...

Has anyone come across this in their food adventures?  Any restaurants I should avoid bringing my camera to?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Melbourne Day 1: Cafe Vue, Little Cupcakes, Ying Thai & Koko Black

After my San Francisco trip, my friend from Melbourne asked me how I could've managed to eat so much in the short period I was there.  She found out during the weekend we spent together in Melbourne!

I arrived in Melbourne in time for lunch, and my friend suggested Cafe Vue for a quite, light lunch, and this is where we start.

Cafe Vue
Cafe Vue has a few locations, but we went to the one in the city, as it was close to our hotel and easier to get to.  The Cafe is situated next to the restaurant on Little Collins St.

My friend and I shared a couple of dishes...

French Onion Soup
Croutons weren't as great as I'd hoped...I was hoping cheesy yet still slight crispy.  The onion soup was great though.  It took me back to a bistros in Paris, where I never had a bad French onion soup. - but you gotta love onions!

The Cafe Vue Lunchbox
Pickled beetroot salad, smoked salmon brioche, chicken and pistachio terrine, chocolate macarons
It was a small lunchbox...we were not very full, but it was good for a light lunch.  I'm usually not a big fan of beetroot, but maybe my palate's changing?  The beetroot was nice and tangy.  The chocolate macarons were the highlight....yum!

Look at the pretty macarons!

Little Cupcakes
We went on to explore the little laneways in the Melbourne CBD, and we stumbled across this little shop, which my friend said had a very good red velvet cupcake.

Ying Thai
After watching a movie, we went to Lygon St to have some dinner.  Whenever I go to Melbourne, I have to go to this Thai restaurant, because they have this dish that I have not seen in any other Thai restaurant
anywhere, and that is the Crispy Pork Salad.  I even took some home with me on the plane back to Sydney!

Yum sam Grob
Crispy Skin Pork salad mixed with prawns, squids, vegetables and special sauce (ask for mild!)
It's not a very good-for-you salad, I suppose :)  But it's so good!  The sweet, spicy, sour sauce mixed with the crispy pork salad is just perfect perfect perfect.  I seriously don't feel like I've been to Melbourne if I don't get to eat this dish.

Gana Panang with Duck
Can't just have the salad of course :)  The curry was not the main event, but it was nice, spicy, creamy, and generously dotted with roast duck.
Koko Black
Ok, we're very full at this stage, but again, I can't go to Melbourne without hitting Koko Black.  I only manage a small dessert, but it was packed with rich chocolate....

Chocolate Moelleux 
Baked fresh to order, hot liquid centre and served with raspberry espumn
Basically, a chocolate fondant (yum), served with a raspberry puree that has been aerated.  It was a good accompaniment to the fondant, because the molleux was so rich.

Look out for Melbourne Day 2: Babka & Maze!

Cafe Vue
Normanby Chambers, 430 Little Collins Street (between Queen & William Streets), Melbourne
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 7am to 4pm, Friday evening from 6.30pm for Cocktail Nights

401 St Kilda Road (near the corner of Toorak Road)
ph: (03) 9866 8055
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 7am – 11pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am – 11pm 

7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen
ph: (03) 9852 2346
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am-5pm, Thursday to Saturday 6pm-9pm

Little Cupcakes
Shop 7 Degraves St, Melbourne VIC 3000
ph: (03) 9077 0413
Opening hours: Monday - Friday 9.00am - 6.00pm, Saturday to Sunday 10.00am - 5.30pm

Ying Thai 2
110 Lygon St, Carlton 3053 VIC
ph: (03) 9639 1697
Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday, Noon to 10.00pm

Koko Black 
167 Lygon St, Carlton 3053 VIC
ph: (03) 9349 2775
Opening hours: Sunday - Thursday, 10.00am - 11.00pm, Friday - Saturday  10.00am - Midnight

Friday, June 4, 2010

Bistrode: Surry Hills

Sorry dear readers, I've been remiss in updating the blog - I've just been so busy! 
My husband and I recently celebrated our birthdays with a big bash, but more on that another time.

But we had a nice quiet dinner tonight at Bistrode in Surry Hills - it was a bit impromptu, as we were hoping to go to our usual birthday treat, Billy Kwong, but it was closed - all we saw were covered up windows!  So we opted for another place around the corner.

Bistrode is owned by Jane and Jeremy Strode, who are regular contributors to the Good Living insert in the SMH.  It has been awarded One Chef's Hat in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.  It's nice to go to a place that is still quite reasonably priced, and serves quite fabulous food.  We didn't have a reservation, but we were able to be seated at the bar at this small, cosy bistro.  Here's an account of our meal.. :)

We start with some sourdough bread...

Then we ordered a side of chips, that we asked to come as a starter, because we were hungry but we didn't want to order an entree....we were saving room for dessert!

The chips were delicious.  These handcut chips still had the skin on, were very crispy on the outside, and soft and mushy on the inside and well seasoned, and they were just a perfect starter.


My husband ordered the Petuna Ocean Trout, Savoy Cabbage and Bacon.  The cabbage was tender, but still had a bit of crunch in some bits, which is how I like my cabbage.  The skin of the ocean trout was crisp, and the flesh was cooked to a beautiful coral pink, not overdone at all.  The taste of the dish was fresh and well balanced.

Petuna Ocean Trout, Savoy Cabbage and Bacon

I came into the restaurant feeling like I wanted to eat a big steak...and I did!  I ordered a Grass Fed Scotch Fillet (with Roast Bone Marrow).  The steak was just beautiful...the fat melted in my mouth.  There was a not a piece of the steak that was dry or chewy, the whole piece of meat just broke away in my mouth.  I'm not sure I'm a big fan of the Bone Marrow, but you can take it or leave it - it comes separate.

Grass Fed Scotch Fillet (with Roast Bone Marrow)
Finally, dessert.  I've been meaning to come back here to try the Honey Tart and Peanut Butter Ice Cream, their signature dessert.  It's very sweet, and I made a valiant effort to finish it, but just couldn't.  It's definitely a dish to share, and you have to really like honey, as the tart is like eating a whole bottle of Honey.  The Peanut Butter Ice Cream was a good foil to the sweetness of the tart.  

Can I just make a comment on the tart shell?  (I've been up to my arms in sweet shortcrust pastry over the past few weeks).  The tart shell was so buttery and flaky, and thin...I really do appreciate very well made pastry - after having some dodgy, stodgy thick, floury versions, this was one of the best pastries I've had.

Honey Tart and Peanut Butter Ice Cream
It was a nice way to celebrate my birthday...we'll be back again!

478 Bourke Street, Surry Hills 2010
ph: (02) 9380 7333
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, from 6pm and for lunch on Friday from midday

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Iron Chef Dinner in June

Hi readers, are you interested in winning a Double Pass for 6 course dinner cooked by Iron Chefs Sakai and Chen?  The event will be on Sunday, 6 June 2010 in Sydney.

Click here to enter!

Competition ends on 21 May 2010.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Brunetti Carlton - Melbourne

This tray of goodies was in Melbourne 3 hours ago, in a wonderful pasticceria in Carlton.  It was packed in a nice big red box, and it sat next to me on seat 3C on my flight to Sydney.!

Brunetti Carlton

194 - 204 Faraday Street, Carlton Vic 3053
ph: (03) 9347 2801

hours: Sunday – Thursday (6am – 11pm) Friday – Saturday (6am – Midnight)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tarte Tatin

I love tarts, pastries with pears and apples, and I've collected many recipes for Tarte Tatin, but I haven't bothered to make it until I came across this very easy recipe from Justin North's "French Lessons".  Over the past month, I've made this tart about 5 times, because it is that is now just something I whip up for a quick dessert!  It literally takes 30 minutes from start to finish...

 The interesting thing about this recipe, is instead of stewing the apples/pears in butter and sugar, you make a 'caramel powder', that you can make in advance and have in stock for the time that you would like to whip a tarte tatin.

Caramel Powder
This recipe makes 100g Caramel Powder.
I like to make a double batch of the recipe below, just to have it in stock.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

75g caster sugar
25g unsalted butter

  1. Line a baking try with greaseproof paper
  2. Put sugar in a heavy-based saucepan.  Heat gently until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Increase heat and bring to the boil, simmering to a medium caramel.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter.
  5. Pour the mixture to set onto the prepared tray.  
  6. Once set, break into pieces and process in a food processor until a fine caramel powder forms.

Tarte Tatin (serves 4)
1 sheet of Puff Pastry, defrosted
100g caramel powder
1 large pear/2 small apples, peeled and cut into wedges

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C
  2. Lightly butter a 18cm cake tin (don't use one with a removable base), or 4 individual smaller tins.
  3. Cover the bottom of the tin(s) with the caramel powder so that the base is completely covered.
  4. Arrange the apple/pear wedges in the prepared tin(s), leaving a 5mm gap around the edge.  
  5. Cut a circle(s) a little bigger than the cake tin and drape the pastry over the fruit, tucking the edges down the sides of the pan.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until pastry is golden.
  7. To serve, place a plate on top of each tin and quickly invert it.
Note: Justin North's "French Lessons" is just fantastic.  I borrowed it from the library, and I'm now awaiting my own copy from The Book Depository. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

ATL Maranatha Ayam Goreng Tulang Lunak

You've never had fried chicken like this.
This chicken is marinated, cooked in a pressure-cooker until the bones are so soft that you can actually eat them, and then deep fried.  It comes to the table glistening, with crispy chicken flavoured flakes on the side.

It beats KFC anyday! 

Ayam Goreng Tulang Lunak (fried soft bone chicken) - 1/4 of a chicken $8.00
It comes with a side of sambal, and rice is an extra $2, but still a bargain!
 Bebek Bakar Manis (grilled duck with sweet soy sauce) - 1/4 of a duck $10.00
This was surprising delicious!  The duck must be cooked in a pressure-cooker too because it was hard to distinguish the bones from the duck meat...and the sweet soy marinade had seeped well into the duck.
61 Todman Ave, Kensington NSW 2033 (Corner of Todman Avenue and Baker Street)
ph: (02) 9663 3410

Opening hours: Mon-Sat 11.00am-9.00pm, Sun 12.00pm-4.00pm, 6.00pm-9.00pm

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cadbury Fairtrade

I came home today to find a package addressed to me - it was bulky, and when I opened it, guess what I found?

200g of chocolate for me! :)

Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate is now Fairtrade Certified - so you can now feel better about eating that block of chocolate.

For your chance to win heaps of Fairtrade chocolate, coffee and tea, click here!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Taste of Sydney 2010

I know that the event has been and gone, but I feel it deserves a homage here. 

I enjoyed last year's (even though I got caught in a rainstorm) and I really enjoyed this year's!  The event seemed bigger this year - more spacious and just more variety.

And I spent more than I had planned to, but it is really a great opportunity to taste fantastic food from some of the best restaurants in Sydney...can't wait til next year!  Imagine being able to get a taste of a main for a mere $12!

Highlight was the mini sandwich with with blue swimmer crab and coriander mayonnaise from the Guillaume at Bennelong stall, and the famous wobbly vanilla panna cotta from Jonah's.

Can't wait til next year!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bathers' Pavillion Cafe

Beautiful venue, stunning breakfast
On a day off, we headed off towards Taronga Zoo to see the 7 month old baby elephant Luk Choi.
This was a perfect excuse to go to the Bathers' Pavilion for some brunch!  What a perfect venue - right on the beach, with the sounds of the waves lapping against the sand.

It was rather grey that day, but it didn't take away from the stunning location.

I love the bright coloured napkins - it's so..happy!
 Eggs Benedict with short bacon and hollandaise sauce
Smooth hollandaise sauce, that was subtle, and not too tart..yum!
Apple filled brioche French toast with cinnamon sugar, ricotta and raisins
Oh, this is how French Toast should be made all the time.  It was divine! 
There was not only the baked apple you see on top of the brioche, there was a soft apple puree sandwiched between two pieces of brioche.
(Although we asked for extra maple syrup, and were told we had to pay $2.50 for the pleasure)

The Bathers' Pavilion Cafe
4 The Esplanade, Balmoral NSW 2088

ph: (02) 9969 5050
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 7am til late (breakfast from 7am til noon, lunch/dinner menu from noon to late)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Spinach Pesto

I've had lots of pesto over the years - some are super creamy, some have too much basil or some have too much garlic.
I went to a cooking class once, and got a recipe for spinach pesto, which I loved, and whenever I've cooked it, has been a hit at the dinner table.  I think it's the combination of the spinach that takes the bite off an overwhelming basil flavour, often found in many pestos.

This recipe is not exactly the one I was given at the class, it's my haphazard throwing together of ingredients for a pesto for two servings.  It's really such an easy thing to make, there's really no excuse to not make your own.

one handful basil (approx 7g)
one handful baby spinach leaves
half handful continental parsley
a pinch of salt
1/2 clove of garlic
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp olive oil
200g pasta


1.  Boil water for the pasta. Once the water is boiled, add sea salt and pasta and cook pasta as per the packet's directions.
 2.  Drain the pasta, but retain the pasta water.
 3.  Place basil, spinach, parsley, salt and garlic in a food processor, and process until ingredients are minced and mixed well. [Note: If you have a mini food processor (Bamix-type instrument), this is best for this amount of pesto.]

4.  Place 2 tbsp olive oil in the pesto mix, and blend until mixture has a creamy consistency.

5.  Place the pesto mixture in a bowl.  Add the Parmesan cheese and 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Mix well.
 6.  Place pasta in a bowl.  Add 1 tbsp of pesto and one large serving spoon of the pasta water.  Mix the pasta, pesto and water well.

7.  Keep repeating step 6 until the pesto is finished.

8.  Serve with extra Parmesan cheese and cracked pepper. 

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    Banana Fritters

    Banana fritters conjure up memories of childhood. Sunday afternoons were the times where mum would do a session of deep frying - banana fritters, prawn crackers, taro, sweet potato fritters - it was a deep-fry fest!

    Here's my recipe for banana fritters. I don't have an exact measurement for the water to be added, but I think you need to just get a feel for the right consistency of the batter. You'll just know! The batter is nice and crispy, and is slightly salty, but I think it's a good match with the sweet banana.

    I used regular bananas, but you can use sugar bananas if you want a sweeter fritter.
    3 semi-ripe bananas, cut in 1cm segments
    3 tbsp plain flour
    3 tbsp corn flour
    1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    canola oil for deep-frying


    1. Mix the flours, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

    2. Make a well in the centre, and slowly add a little water while mixing the flours into the well.

    3. Mix to make a thick, smooth mixture, then add more water to bring the mixture to the right consistency.
      (The mixture shouldn't be too thin so it won't adhere to the banana, and not too thick that the batter becomes to cakey)

    4. Heat the oil up in a wok to 175°C (use a thermometer).

    5. Put the banana pieces in the batter mixture and carefully place the pieces into the oil.

    6. Fry until golden brown.

    7. Serve with a side of condensed milk.

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    Bells at Killcare

    Beautiful setting, some hits, some misses

    My best dining partner (husband) and I had a lovely, relaxing holiday up the Central Coast. Most nights we cooked simple meals in our little serviced apartment, but one night we decided to splurge and have a nice meal out.

    Except we didn't really need to splurge, because when we called up Bells at Killcare to make a reservation, we were told that Tuesday night is locals night, and they have a special deal that means we could have a two-course meal for $39....score!

    I've always wanted to come here, every since I knew that they cooked from their own little garden. Imagine, fresh produce straight from the garden :)

    Pre-dinner drinks in their comfy lounge area:
    Raspberry bellini & a coke
    Complimentary olives and cheese biscuits
    Bread (including some rosemary bread) and olive oil
    First course:
    Seafood, potato and saffron soup

    This was a beautiful, light soup, with generous chunks of fish and calamari.
    Main course: Panfried pork cutlet with braised borlotti beans and tomato
    I was excited about the crackling, there's nothing better than good pork crackling.
    It was the best part of the dish, unfortunately. The cutlet was overdone, so the meat was too dry to enjoy. I only got through half of it.
    Main course: Whole grilled fish (leatherjacket) served with salsa verde
    My husband said it was good, but it was hard work to get through the fish. Is leatherjacket always a challenge to eat?
    Side dish:
    Rosemary roast potatoes
    Dessert: Nougat semifreddo with peaches in Zibibbo
    little chunks of chewy nougat through the creamy semifreddo. It was a warm day though, so it was a race against the sun to eat the dish before it melted away!
    View from our table
    107 The Scenic Rd, Killcare Beach, Central Coast, NSW 2257
    ph: (02) 4360 2411
    Opening hours: Mon-Thu 6:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sun 12pm-3:30pm, 6:30pm-10pm

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    Dong Dong Noodles

    I love cheap Asian restaurants. Sometimes, I find it hard to justify going to a "nice" Chinese restaurant that charges me 3 times something I can get at these smaller basic Chinese eatery.

    I'd like to share one of the dishes that I always order at Dong Dong Noodles, it's definitely my favourite dish. And can I say, that I have converted one of my good friends to pork by feeding her this dish!

    Order the Pork Chop with Black Pepper and Honey and rice, and you're set for a meal for two.

    The pork is deep fried and crispy, and the sauce is sweet sticky dotted with lots of cracked pepper, it's delicious.

    Pork Chop with Black Pepper and Honey $10.80
    428 Anzac Pde, Kingsford NSW
    ph: (02) 9662 1877
    Opening hours: Daily, 11.00am - 10.30pm

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Christmas for two & Mangomisu recipe

    Happy belated Christmas everyone. We've been away and busy during this period, so posts have been scarce. We had a nice time up the coast, relaxing, reading, sleeping - just plain lazing around.

    This Christmas, all our families decided to be overseas, which left just the two of us on Christmas day, which we didn't mind at all!
    So we were very true to this's what we had on Christmas day.

    Tiger prawns with seafood dipping sauce

    A little ham (1.5kg), glazed with sherry, marmalade and honey, studded with pineapple.
    Roast potatoes cooked in duck fat
    If you've never cooked potatoes in duck fat, go out and buy a tub's amazing!
    I saw this recipe in the latest issue of Delicious, and I couldn't resist. This is a cake I will definitely keep in my repertoire.

    Mangomisu recipe
    (based on recipe from the Delicious magazine, Issue 89)

    500g mascarpone cheese
    600ml thickened cream
    1/3 cup icing sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1/3 cup Cointreau
    juice of two oranges
    300g savoiardi (sponge finger biscuits)
    3 mangoes, sliced 1cm thick

    1. Line the base of a 22cm springform cake pan with plastic wrap or baking paper

    2. Place the cheese, cream, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat until thick and well combined.

    3. Combine the Cointreau and orange juice in a separate bowl.

    4. Dip half the sponge fingers into the juice, and create a layer in the base of the cake pan.

    5. Then, spread 1/3 of the cream mixture, top with 1/3 mango slices, and repeat the process.

    6. Top with remaining cream mixture and top with mango slices.

    7. Cover and chill overnight.

    8. To serve, remove the cake from the in and transfer to a platter.

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