Month: October 2013

{Playing with Food #1} New Spoons & Favourite Ingredients

Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a great weekend so far.  For me, all’s good except the gloomy weather in Melbourne.  I was really wishing that the sunny spring will be here but seemed to me that this dull cold weather will be here to stay. Today I want to share with you my new chinese spoons which I found at a neighbourhood shop and my favourite ingredients that I love to use in my cooking.  Ginger is one of the best herb which can be consumed as a delicacy, medicine or herb.  It’s so versatile and as such, used in many Asian cooking.  I personally like to make it into a hot ginger drink when I feel my body lacks energy and full of air. Another favourite ingredient of mine is garlic.  Apart from using garlic to scare away vampires 🙂 I love garlic on almost anything that I cook because of its aromatic smell and flavours.  Star anise is another wonderful herb used a lot in braising or baking.  Its scent and flavours …

Prawn Vermicelli

Recently I’ve been trying very hard to improve my photography and emulating the minimalist look – so the photo above shows minimalist by having nothing except for a couple of coriander leaves and a claypot of the most delicious prawn vermicelli sitting on a blue napkin.  I’ve not mastered the look yet but I’m learning a lot on creating props, food styling, lighting and shooting still life.  Not easy I can say… but I have faith and as any other photographer will advise, “Keep practicing”. I was excited to try this recipe because it’s not only easy to make, it was very very delicious – greatly inspired by tastes of Thailand.  As a working mother, I love any recipes that will save me time especially the ones that I can just dump everything into a pot and leave it to cook – good for weekday dinner or lazy weekend meal. As you know, vermicelli is tasteless by itself.  So, marrying it with other ingredients and sauces makes it really delicious. The key ingredient here is …

Spring & New Kid on the Block : Lee Ho Fook

Spring time brings colourful and allergic beginnings.  Eyups!  Unfortunately, I’m one of the many many unfortunate people suffering from horrid hay fever this year 😦  So, parks and flowers are out of my reach for the time being 😦 so sad …. Anyway, let’s welcome Spring – with blossoming flowers from the Fitzroy Gardens. Today I’m heading to the popular stretch of Smith Street where the newly chef hatted Saint Crispin and the hotly anticipated Lee Ho Fook is located.   Just two weeks into their big opening, Lee Ho Fook, helmed by big names behind Movida and Pei Modern restaurants, has managed to get some approval nods from diners already. In the kitchen, Head Chef, Victor Liong has derived some funky chinese menu which brings a new twist to Chinese cuisine.  I wonder what that means – can’t wait to try! The exterior didn’t have a big restaurant sign that screams Lee Ho Fook.  The only visual impact that I had was a big 92 (which, by the way is the address).  The interior didn’t look …

‘The Cheat’ Vanilla Ice Cream, Ginger Granita & Lychee

A cool dessert is something that I crave for on a hot hot summer day like today! The temperature in Melbourne was 32C and it was humid and scorchingly hot – something that I don’t really welcome during spring time. So, of course the most natural thing for me to do is to go to a hide-out where the air conditioning is at it’s peak and the nearest for me would be the community library.  It was here that I saw the cookbook Cumulus Inc. written by our very own Andrew McConnell.  Of course, having been to Cumulus Inc., I was very excited to try out some of the recipes here. Went to Coles and got the ingredients I need, came home and started to work this dessert.  As the header says “the cheat” version – I went through the shortcut and bought a commercial vanilla ice cream and lychees in a can 🙂  The only thing I need to whip up is the granita.  The ginger accent in the granita added the necessary “perk-me-up” factor …

Happiness in a Shop : Mr Nice Guy

Mr Nice Guy is a familiarly new Thai restaurant in CBD – run by the same people that brought us Middle Fish, Pla Liamthong and David Holtum.  I love Thai food due to the sweet, sour ingredients and spices that they so often include in most of their dishes to improve flavour and texture.  I would purposely travel to Thailand just to eat.  The opportunity to indulge in Thai food is something that I have always enjoyed. I came to Mr Nice Guy during their lunch time.  The restaurant was located at Healeys Lane in CBD which pretty much catered to the “suits” working around the area.  Interior was colourful and lively, clearly emulating a “Thai street restaurant” look and feel.   The lunch menu was limited to quick noodle stir-fries and curries to go with rice.  Whereas the dinner menu emphasized more shared dishes option like meat, fish, vegetables stir-fry. When I found that their famous Hurstbridge pork belly dish was not served during lunch, I was very disappointed.  I think the waitress saw my …

Coffee Pork Ribs

Who loves coffee? I do.  Who loves pork ribs? I do too!  So, what do you get if you combine the two together?  You get a sinfully delicious finger lickin’ good coffee pork ribs 🙂  It has becoming increasingly popular in Malaysia and Singapore to serve this dish, usually with steamed rice as part of the multi course meal in many stir-fry restaurants. You can do this two way – the Western way is to grill the ribs, drizzle with thick coffee sauce and fresh greens on the side or the Chinese way that is deep fry the ribs and then pan fry with the sauce together, served with steamed rice.  My lil one loves the bitter sweet sticky coffee effect on her fingers which keeps her coming back for more. Coffee Pork Ribs (adapted from To Food with Love) Serves 4 Ingredients:  800-900g pork ribs, cleaned and cut into segments 2 egg white, lightly beaten 2 tbsp corn flour Vegetable oil, for deep-frying Pork Marinade: 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp sugar …

Fried Radish Cake (Chai Tow Kway)

Fried radish cake (better known to Malaysians & Singaporeans) as Chai Tow Kway has always been my favourite Singapore hawker food.  There are two versions – the white and the black.  I personally prefer the black version – not sure why, but something about the black sweet sauce that called out to me 🙂 Finding a genuinely delicious Chai Tow Kway in Melbourne is like finding a needle in the haystack.  Most of the commercial restaurants out there put too much flour and little radish.  So, I decided to make it at home from scratch 🙂 As advised by the recipe writer, increasing the amount of radish and water will yield more tender texture, while more flour will give you more ‘bite’.  Based on the radish-water ratio, this recipe will yield more tender texture, which is the way I like.  I prefer to make the radish cake overnight so it’s easier to cut and fry the next day. My hubby absolutely love this dish.  I have added more chai poh and garlic so it’s more aromatic. …

Much ado About Love & Degustation : Estelle Bar & Kitchen

One fine day, my hubby asked me, “Where would you like to celebrate your birthday?”  My instant response to him was “Estelle”.  That instant response got me an unforgettable paid-by-hubby-with-much-love birthday dinner at the highly raved Estelle. One chef hatted Estelle is the brain child of owner-chefs Scott Pickett (current Saint Crispin) and Ryan Flaherty (ex-Fat Duck, Arzak).  The modest shopfront was very unassuming and unpretentious.  The door opened up to a cosy, laid-back and casual dining sphere with retro fittings and 80’s rock music!  Now, that’s dining with a groove, ba-beh. If you’re familiar with Estelle, they deliver a tasting menu-only format (three, five, seven and nine courses) with classic wine match or adventurous match that combines wine, cocktail and sake from the well-stocked bar. We decided to go all the way with nine courses ($110 per person).  I would love the adventurous match but having that by myself will not be as much fun (as hubby don’t drink :().  To appease my alcohol crave, I had a glass of beautiful Spanish white recommended by the …

Sweet Love Story : Dessert Story & Meet Fresh

I love a good dessert – one of those perk-me-up mood food that has a special ability to make me really happy 🙂  And my sweet tooth was craving for the familiar Taiwanese Desserts – so, here are my two favourite Taiwanese Dessert houses in the CBD: BRAIN FREEZE : DESSERT STORY Dessert Story is a successful dessert franchise in Melbourne with a menu that boasts pages and pages of the familiar Taiwanese desserts ranging from hot/cold sweet soupy desserts to ice cold melt-in-your-mouth snow ice desserts.  I personally enjoyed the snow ice series while hubby liked the more traditional dessert – just fantastic as I got to enjoy both! Milk snow ice with red bean, pearl and mango pudding $9.9 I’ve to make a few rounds here because there’s only this much we can eat at one time.  It’s totally BRAIN FREEZE food! Green Tea snow ice with red bean and chocolate $9.9 Having tried both Milk snow ice and Green Tea snow ice, I am truly loving both!  The creator of the snow ice …

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup, Caramelised Scallops and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

For my birthday, hubby got me a new cook book “Simple To Sensational” by Jun Tanaka.  The book outlines simple recipes that can be easily transformed to awesome dishes just by adding more ingredients or manipulating the recipe with a little variation.  So easy!  When I was browsing through the book, this particular recipe caught my eye because it is not only easy to make, it looks tasty – especially when the recipe has scallops in it. I love scallops and together with butternut squash, the soup produces a gentle sweetness that is perfect as a winter warmer.  When choosing the butternut squash, get the ones in colour with no hint of green as these will have deeper flavour.  If you can’t find butternut squash, you can easily replace it with pumpkin or carrots for variation.  It’s an easy dish to prepare for the whole family to enjoy and I’m sure they will love it. Creamy Butternut Squash Soup, Caramelised Scallops and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (adapted from Simple to Sensational) Serves 4 Ingredients: (Soup) 15g …

{Travelogue} Makan Makan Malaysia

Be warned!  This post contains photos of drool-worthy food which was taken during my short (almost too short!) one week trip back to Malaysia recently.  Enjoy … and be prepared to salivate! *Drum roll* It’s food porn time. This was a compilation of all my favourite tai chow (stir-fries) revisited at multiple restaurants around Puchong, USJ and PJ.  I’m sure you can spot some of your favourite dishes in here too 🙂  What’s yours? During this trip, I have been such a glutton with a capital G!  And for breakfast …. here are my favourite breakfast places!  First up … freshly made, oily, garing and one of the best roti canai serving at … … and there was *cheng cheng cheng cheng* BKT (Bak Kut Teh).  There are many variations of BKT – dry, wet, dark, clear, strong herbal, lightly herbed etc.  I prefer the “clear ones” at SS18 in Subang Jaya.  My dad always asks for the “King” pork cut which is the most tender cut of the pork.  The soup … *slurp* is to …

Eating in Point Cook : Rendeavous & Kampung Story

Western suburb – being a new residential place and all, a newbie may find it hard to settle down with the limited range of eateries.  But this statement is not true now.  Over the past year, there has been a few new restaurants that has opened up in Point Cook, offering more choices to the happy residents here. CASUAL ITALIAN : RENDEAVOUS Rendeavous opened its doors a few months ago – located around the Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Center in Point Cook. We came here a few times and found the quality and quantity of food to be consistent every time.  The restaurant is spacious and is able to sit families which is ideal because of its affordable prices and the close proximity to our neighbourhood. The menu offered a wide range of Italian casual pub food.  We tried the Smoked Salmon Penne and Chicken Parma which came in generous servings.  The highlight was their famous Chicken Parma – with breaded chicken breast that was simply crisp, cheesy and covered with rich tomato base sauce.  Each …