Archive for Food & Health

 

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Styling banana cake with a bit of love

24 August 2016

Banana Cake Styling

I have been clashing with one of my boys these last few weeks. Lots of fighting, shouting, negativity. It’s been pretty bad, worse than usual.

I won’t go into an detail (because he reads my blog now and again, and my heart is a bit fragile) but basically, we’ve been having an awful time. I suspect that 20 years from now, when he looks back at his childhood, all he’ll be able to remember of his mother is me being this angry, frustrated, shouty, crazy person.

Anyway, to heal this mother-son relationship, I figure that since I’m the adult, I should do something to change the situation and bring about some positivity.

I’ve discovered he’s quite interested in my work. Photographing things, styling, visual branding, social media strategies, creating a branding voice, graphic design and Photoshopping; Not so much the fashion stuff for my blog, but my commercial/contract/freelance work.

So I talk to him about it… and to my complete surprise, he actually had some really clever ideas and feedback. And would you believe I like to bounce my ideas at him and get him involved with some of my styling.

The other day, I made a banana cake and cut up a whole lot of fruit for my kids to eat after school. I thought it was a nice opportunity for a pretty photo, BUT I was trying to prepare dinner at the same time, so I asked HIM to style up the banana cake.

I showed him a few photos of cake + fruit + flower styling as inspiration, by Floral & Fauna Cafe in Northbrdige. I did tell him to give it his own personal twist, but in the end, it did look quite similar to their styling.

Nonetheless, I was so so proud of his work!

But I think I was glowing more from the little bonding moment we had that afternoon and how it healed a little bit of my heart.

Banana Cake Styling


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Almond Chocolate Crackle Balls

6 August 2016

Almond Ball Recipe

My kids play run and play SO MUCH SPORT that I have been on a mission to fuel them up with protein for muscle repair and growth.

At first I bought supermarket protein bars for them… but my kids didn’t like the taste of them, and the bars were pretty expensive at $3-$5 each.

So I developed my own almond / protein ball things, based on what my kids like. Hint: my kids hate dates.

I really don’t know what to call them, Protein Balls? Almond Balls? Bliss Balls?

Whatever they are called – THEY TASTE LIKE CHOCOLATE CRACKLES!

Almond Chocolate Crackle Balls

1 cup of almonds
1/3 cup of desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon of cocoa
2 scoops of protein powder (I use Sustagen Sport, Chocolate)
2 tablespoons of rice malt syrup / maple syrup
4 tablespoons (60g) of coconut oil
1 egg white

Throw all the dry ingredients (almonds, coconut, cocoa, protein powder) into a food processor to chop it all up and mix well.

Then add the wet ingredients (syrup, coconut oil, egg white) and process again.

Use a tablespoon to scoop up mixture and roll into balls. Place the ball into a cupcake case (the coconut oil melts and it can get a bit messy), line it up onto a tray.

Bake in 160C oven for 15 minutes.

Makes about 24.

I put 3 of them in my kid’s lunchbox, everyday and they hold together really nicely!


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Six Willows Cafe, Willetton

17 June 2016

Six Willows Cafe

I caught up with a friend for a simple brunch at this cute little cafe way out in suburbia, called Six Willows Cafe.

We ordered a Breakfast Burger ($12) with sous vide beef, egg, bacon strips, beetroot relish, lettuce, hollandaise sauce on a toasted brioche bun. It was really, really yummy. The beef was fantastic, the bun was lovely. I couldn’t believe how affordable it was.

We also had a Carrot Cake (which was a bit dry) and a Blueberry Muffin (which was really good!) for my friend’s 3 year old.

My Green Matcha Soy Latte ($5.60) was pretty good and my friend’s Skinny Flat White ($3.8) was excellent.

I liked really liked the relaxed vibe of the place. I liked that it wasn’t trying to be too hipster, cool, fussy or posh.

It was a lovely, quiet setting for us to have a good chat.

They sell little homewares and have regular little crafty workshops too (very kid friendly).

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Six Willows Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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Frisch and Barc Cafe, Como

9 June 2016

Frisch and Barc Cafe, Como

I met up with some girlfriends for brunch at a new cafe in Como called, Frisch and Barc.

Named after a Nobel prize winning scientist, Karl Ritter von Frisch, who studied the social and communicative interactions of honeybees, he discovered that bees were intelligent creatures who communicated through intricate and complex ways in order to create their home, the barc (wild beehive).

I think the take home word here is community.

The interior was cool and modern, with big glass windows lighting up the cafe with natural light, lots of tables and chairs, a wooden staircase to an upstairs section, and a big arty mural to remind everyone how hip and urban the place is.

The menu looked pretty good. Inspired by American, modern Australian and Asian flavours, there was also lots of tea options, but I’m a soy flat white kind of girl.

Frisch and Barc Cafe, Como

We ordered the Singapore Chilli Crab Omelette ($23.90) with grilled shimeji mushroom, Asian herb salad and ciabatta toast.

The omelette was lovely and fluffy. The bread was drenched in the chilli crab sauce. I couldn’t really taste where the crab ended and the sauce started, because the crab meat was so soft. It was all very tasty and flavoursome, perhaps a bit too salty and overpowering though. The chilli sauce wasn’t very hot; it was mild, which suited me just fine. I liked the fresh salad.

It was a bit weird for my palate. As I ate it, I realised that I haven’t had authentic Singapore chilli crab since… maybe 5-6 years ago, so I had nothing to compare it to.

I couldn’t get over the cost of it. Then again, it was a dish with crab, so I guess it was understandable.

Overall, it was a unique way to eat eggs on toast. It had an element of fun and a cheeky nod to my Singaporean roots.

Frisch and Barc Cafe, Como

Brioche French Toast ($17.90) with coconut and pandan custard, berry with apple compote and crushed pistachio.

Again another nod to South East Asian flavours. The brioche was yummy, soft and buttery.

When I have brunch, I usually order pancakes or cakes as my sweet option… I haven’t had French toast in ages. It was lovely, sweet, fruity, creamy. It was a bit expensive.

We also ordered the Pulled Pork Toastie with Apple Slaw ($15.90) which was the winner in my opinion. The pork was absolutely delicious and full of infused flavours. When eaten with the fresh, tart apple slices with the creamy dressing, it was heaven in my mouth. I would definitely come back to eat it again!

Frisch and Barc
297 Canning Highway
Como, 6152 WA

(You can find their latest menu on their Facebook page)


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My Kid’s Favourite Banana Smoothie

11 May 2016

Banana Smoothie

I don’t really like banana smoothies, but I often make them because my kids love them.

It’s also good way to use up bananas, either fresh or frozen. Plus it’s a great way for the kids to get some extra calcium and protein in their diets.

Truth is, I’m writing the recipe here because my kids can now make smoothies for themselves.

So this way I can just tell them to look up the recipe on my blog and I don’t have to shout out the recipe from another room, haha!

I’ve found that the simplest recipe is always the best.

Simple Banana Smoothie (Makes about 2 cups)

1 large banana
1 cup milk
1 cup crushed ice
1 tablespoon of honey
2 tablespoons of plain yogurt (or vanilla ice cream if you’re feeling naughty)

Enjoy!


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Meal Prepping with Vegetables

14 April 2016

Veggie Meal Prep

Because I like a bit of order and efficiency in my life, I’ve been trying to prepare my daytime meals.

Yes it’s a great way to maintain my weight and a healthy eating regime. Yes it really helps me NOT eat crappy food.

But it’s not easy to stick to.

It comes and goes. I’ll do it for 4 days, then skip 2 days, then back at it for 5-6 days, then stop for 7 days, then back for 5 days… etc.

LIFE HAPPENS and it’s OK really.

Sometimes I go out for lunch. Sometimes I have delicious dinner leftovers in my fridge (hello beef rendang!).

Sometimes I eat such a large breakfast that I skip lunch, then find myself impossibly hungry at the end of the afternoon, and I eat everything in sight!

The truth is, I like food and I get bored eating the same thing every day.

So typical meal prepping doesn’t really work for me.

However these last few weeks… I have found a nice compromise.

I spend Sunday making FIVE simple salads, as shown above. After I took the photo above, I actually added a large handful of spinach to the containers. So there was a bit more to my salad than pictured. It’s not pretty. I just shove as much as I can into a 250ml container.

Then: Every day I eat something proteiny with my salad… like grilled chicken, a slice of fish, can of tuna, two boiled eggs, a scoop of leftover beef rendang, steamed tofu, or a slice of sourdough bread that I made the day before, or soba noodles.

That way, I know I fill up on a nice yummy salad for most days of the week.

The variety makes it much easier to stick to!

(Having said that, I have been known to have a piece of KFC chicken with my salad haha!)


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Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Butter Cream

13 April 2016

Chocolate Cupcakes

I recently invited a few girlfriends over for an afternoon tea and catch up. And since it was after Easter, I used up the last of my chocolate eggs as cute cupcake decorations. They looked so pretty!

I used a recipe based on Donna Hay’s Chocolate Cupcake recipe, but I just used less sugar.

It’s a pretty good basic chocolate cupcake recipe. I would have liked it to be a bit more moist, but it has a nice chocolatey taste.

Donna Hay’s Chocolate Cupcake
(Makes about 16)

125g butter, softened
½ cup milk
¾ cup caster sugar (I used ½ cup)
100g dark chocolate, melted
2 eggs
1¼ cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
12 small chunks of dark chocolate, extra

Chocolate Butter Cream Icing
250g butter, softened
2 cups icing sugar mixture, sifted
½ cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 160°C. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well after each addition. Sift over the flour, baking powder and cocoa and beat until combined. Fold through the milk and stir in the melted chocolate.

Place a piece of the extra chocolate in the base of each cupcake case. Spoon the cupcake mixture into the cases and bake for 20–25 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool.

To make the chocolate butter cream icing, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 6–8 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar mixture, cocoa powder and milk and beat for a further 6 minutes or until light and creamy. Pipe the icing onto the cupcakes using a star-shaped nozzle, decorate and serve. Makes 16.

Enjoy!


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Flora and Fauna Cafe, Northbridge

6 April 2016

Flora and Fauna Cafe, Northbridge

I have been stalking Flora and Fauna Cafe on Instagram for months now.

Their food creations and floral decorations are such a delight to look at – that my heart goes into an excited flutter every time I see one of their photos pop up onto my feed!

Anyway, I finally popped in with a girlfriend to try it out and it was just lovely. They specialise in super healthy, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free breakfast/brunch/lunch dishes.

Flora and Fauna Cafe, Northbridge

We ordered two dishes to share, plus a coffee for me and a juice for my friend.

First dish was a Green Tea Granola ($20), which they make themselves.

The serving was huge, topped with a variety of fresh fruit, flowers and served with your choice of milk (I chose almond).

It was delicious, crunchy, and fresh. I could taste the green tea, and all the glorious seeds and nuts. But there was a strong flavour of almond essence or organic syrup (I’m not sure!) it was just a touch over-powering because I don’t usually like almond essence.

Nonetheless I happily gobbled up my share. The fruits were so yummy!

Flora and Fauna Cafe, Northbridge

Our second dish was the Heirloom Bruschetta ($19) featuring 3 kinds of tomatoes, gluten free bread, avocado, greens and a sprinkle of feta.

The tomatoes were just lovely, sweet and mellow (not too sour, not too tangy or acidic).

I was absolutely blown away by how delicious this dish was. It was truly bursting with flavour!

I would order this again. In fact, I would take someone special (like my husband) to this cafe and order this for him.

I’ll definitely be back :)

Great: Amazing food, styling, gorgeous cafe decoration, great coffee.

Not-so-great: Price (this cost us $50 exactly), limited seating, no bookings, most of the tables were outside.

 

Flora & Fauna Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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Nachos for Dinner

21 March 2016

Nachos

This is what we do with our left over spaghetti bolognese sauce!

We eat it with corn chips and salad.

Easiest dinner ever :)


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Marumo Japanese Fine Dining, Nedlands

2 March 2016

Marumo Japanese Restaurant

A few weeks ago, I had the absolute pleasure of eating at the elusive Marumo in Nedlands.

According to all the online and offline chatter, Marumo seems to be one of Perth’s most sought after and best value restaurants for Japanese fine dining.

Apparently they are fully booked out for several months in advanced; and to manage the overwhelming demand, they now release a month’s worth of online reservations (two months out) on a first come first serve basis. I’ve also heard those bookings sell out so quickly (minutes!) that slow mouse-clickers are often disappointed.

For me, I was invited to join someone else’s dinner booking, a friend of a friend, who couldn’t make it at the last minute.

Anyway despite all the fanfare, I arrived and there was absolutely no sense of a pretentious, pompous, self congratulating “We are SO highly sought after, therefore YOU should be SO lucky to dine here” vibe.

The atmosphere was humble, simple, minimal and modern.

Marumo Japanese Fine Dining

Marumo offers a 7-course Omakase menu, which means you leave everything up to the chef and he carefully selects and showcases his loving creations in a set menu, based on the freshest seasonal produce.

You turn up at 7pm and the whole sitting takes about 3 hours.

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE that idea. I have no special dietary requirements, only that I want to eat really good food. I like to try a bit of everything and most times I don’t know what to choose… so I am absolutely happy to trust the chef and eat whatever he creates.

For $60 per person and BYO alcohol, I’ve never heard of a place that does anything similar.

First up was a Pickled Squid Salad thing (that’s right, I’m not a pro food critic, so I am completely happy to call dishes a “salad thing”).

It was light, tangy, salty and bursting with flavour. It was a great start to the evening and I wanted to eat more!

Marumo Japanese Restaurant

Chilled Edamame Soup

At first, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of a cream soup to start. I don’t usually like heavy, creamy soups. I have a slight intolerance to milk and cream, which leaves me feeling a bit full and bloated. I probably should have mentioned this to the chef?

But it was actually lovely. The flavours were fresh and light, the consistency was smooth, but not TOO smooth. The surprise sat at the bottom of the soup, I think it was a small pile of crab flesh or prawn? I forgot to ask. Its mellow, salty seafood flavour, complimented the soup so well. It was heavenly to eat.

I’d say this was one of my favourite dishes of the night!

A real surprise for me!

Marumo Japanese Fine Dining

Beef, Mushroom and Bamboo Shoot

When the next dish arrived, I rubbed my hands together… YES this was exactly what I was craving! Bring on the Japanese seared meats!

The beef was soft, tender, gorgeously succulent, perfectly seared and drenched with the clear sauce, which was not too salty or overpowering. It was a tasty dish and really well done.

Marumo Japanese Restaurant

Soft Shell Crab and Watermelon

This was my lucky day. I’m also a huge fan of soft shell crab. The textural contrast of crunchy and soft, borders on the rapturous pleasure of crispy fried chicken. I’ve never eaten it with watermelon before though.

I adore watermelon and grilled halloumi, so I’m no stranger to an interesting mix of sweet and salty flavours. But this dish didn’t quite have the WOW factor for me, as the last three dishes did.

Having said that, the crab was indeed crispy, crunchy on the outside and full of flavour and juicy on the inside; and the watermelon was a refreshing contrast for my palate. I ate them separately, but very happily.

Marumo Japanese Restaurant

Chef’s Selection of Sashimi

I was so so pleased with the sashimi.

It had lovely flavour and perfect texture, it was beautifully cut, faultlessly fresh and sitting on a sheet of ice.

I think I could eat this everyday for lunch for the rest of my life thanks.

Marumo Japanese Restaurant

Tasmanian Salmon Belly Sushi

This was my second favourite dish for the night!

I’m usually very bored with sushi, because (please forgive me) I buy quick-and-easy, “chicken teriyaki” sushi from takeaway shops all the time, so I try not to choose it at restaurants.

However, when I took my first bite of this sushi, I think my eyes rolled to the back of my head… hello foodgasm, it was amazing!

The seared, fatty salmon belly combined with the salty bursts of salmon roe was absolutely delicious. Then mixed with the soft rice and the super crispy outer shell of the tempura prawn, it all just filled my mouth with the most ecstatic combination of creamy, crunchy, popping, salty, seaweedy textures and flavours.

The lovely staff told me that I was supposed to put the WHOLE thing in my mouth to enjoy ALL the flavours at once. It sounded good in theory.

But alas, I’m a dainty eater and I struggled with fitting each piece in my mouth… so I made a bit of a mess on my first two attempts, ha!

Marumo Japanese Fine Dining

Duck, Apricot and Parsnip

The duck arrived and it was a handsome and impressive looking dish. The duck meat was tender, with warming flavours that were delicate, mellow and sweet. The puree brought it all together nicely.

I was quite full at this point and struggled to finish it, but that in no way reflected how it tasted.

Marumo Japanese Restaurant

Dark Chocolate, Peach and Yuzu

Thankfully the dessert arrived, signalling the last of the courses. I was so full, but I always have room for dessert!

It was gorgeous. Sweet, subtle and simple. I wished that I could make such amazing chocolates.

It was such a delightful and satisfying meal.

My girlfriend told me about Chef Moe’s humble beginnings; how he arrived in Australia with almost no money; how he worked hard as a kitchen hand, doing odd jobs; his 13 years of cooking experience preparing Japanese cuisine; how Marumo first started as a tiny shop in the Southern suburbs of Perth, serving fish and chip by day and Japanese fine dining by night; the growth of his business and reputation solely through word of mouth; his dedication to quality and his passion for creating traditional Japanese cuisine with a modern twist.

It seems like all the hard work is paying off for Chef Moe and his wife, Marie. I wish them all the best!

Yep, I would go back in a snap and and would love to share the experience with my friends and family.

Who knows, hopefully I’ll be successful with the online reservations and cross my fingers that I’ll nab a booking four months from now for my birthday!


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Watermelon Crush for Summer

12 February 2016

Watermelon Drinks

This is one of the juices/smoothies that I love to make for my kids after school.

Sometimes I’ll use lemonade (instead of coconut water) if I have some leftover from a dinner party, otherwise there’s more than enough sweetness in the fruit.

It’s their favourite flavour and such a hit in summer!

Watermelon Crush

2 cups of watermelon (no seeds)
1 slice of pineapple
1 tablespoon of frozen raspberries or strawberries
4 cubes of ice
250mL of coconut water
1 leaf of mint

Throw everything into a high powered blender, whizz up, then serve in pretty glasses :)

Enjoy!

xxx


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Juicy Awesomeness from Pure Glow Cleanse

29 January 2016

Let me say one thing: I’m not a big fan of juice cleanses!

Personally, I don’t like the idea of drinking only juice for 3 or 5 days.

BUT…

I love drinking juices and smoothies as part of a healthy daily diet and lifestyle.

For me, I make myself a juice or smoothie every one/two/three days.

And when I DO drink one, it replaces a meal – usually lunch.

I have a big breakfast in the morning, a juice/smoothie in the afternoon, I eat healthy snacks, then my dinner is usually at 6pm.

My thinking: If I drink a big cup of yummy, low-sugar, green juice and feel full… I probably won’t be tempted to reach for a quick muffin / pie / ham and cheese croissant when I walk past some at the shops haha!

Pure Glow Cleanse

So, the lovely team at Pure Glow Cleanse sent me a 6 pack of their juices to try out.

I’ve known of Annette, one of the founders, for a number of years, when she used to write as a health and wellness writer. She had a very down-to-earth, not-hardcore, real-life kind of voice in her writings and I enjoyed reading her stuff. So when she launched Pure Glow Cleanse, I took notice of it and I liked that her juices contained no added sugars, no weird herbs, no laxatives, no vitamin extracts, and no protein powders.

How it works: You can select a 1 day, 3 day or 5 day cleanse and choose a pre-set selection of juices to be delivered to your door.

Or you can create your own 6 pack from a menu of their juices, which is what I did.

They were SO YUMMY!!

I have to tell the truth, I felt a bit irritated, because I thought I was quite good at making smoothies and juices… and tasting these juices made me sigh, because they were just amazing… and now I feel that mine are quite ordinary and mediocre in comparison.

Sooo… I take my hat off to the team! These juices are absolutely superior in quality and taste.

They tasted so clean, fresh, rich and smooth. No grittiness. No chunks. Well mixed. Lovely combinations.

Pure Glow Cleanse

Yes they are super expensive though!

They work out to be something like $10 a bottle. Which yep, makes me wince and raise my eyebrows. One of the juices was simply watermelon, cucumber and lime! Ok it was absolutely delicious, but $10?

However, on the other hand, if you wanted to create 18 juices (for 3 days), you’d have to buy heaps of ingredients (cos lettuce, kale, avocado, apples, pears, lemons, limes, watermelon, beetroot, carrots, ginger, dates, almonds, etc etc etc) wash them, store them, make the juices…. then have heaps of leftover vegetables that would probably go off?

And if you want to have less wastage, you’d have to buy less ingredients, which means you’ll just have a smaller variety of juices, so you’d probably get bored of them? And then be less inclined to make them?

So there definitely is a market for time-poor people, who don’t want the hassles of making their own juices!

As for my favourite juices :

The Matcha Milk was simply amazing. Made from matcha (green tea), spirulina (seaweed), almonds, cashews, basil nuts, dates and vanilla… omg its taste made my toes curl from sheer pleasure!

The Cafe Au Late was a close second, it was soooo delicious! It had cold drip coffee, almond, cashews, brazil nuts, dates and vanilla.

Good Karma (the Orange one) was made from carrots, grapefruit, green apple, ginger, turmeric and lemon.

Green Guru (green juice) had kale, cos, cucumber, celery, been apple, mint and lemon.

Anyway, if you are looking for some high quality juices to try, or try a juice cleanse, do check these guys out!

Have an amazing weekend!

xxx


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My Running Watch: Garmin Forerunner 15

28 January 2016

Garmin Forerunner 15 Watch

I picked up a new toy for my run this weekend – a running watch!

It’s a Garmin Forerunner 15 (AUD$249) which I bought off eBay at an absolute BARGAIN price – hardly used and in perfect condition.

It’s a slightly older model and apparently a good entry level running watch. The top level Forerunner is something like AUD$699. Ouch! I bought the small sized watch and they only came in three “sporty” colour choices – bleh.

I resisted buying a running watch for years, because I didn’t want my runs to focus so much on gear and gadgets.

I had an overkill of gear and gadgets from my cycling days…. and what I love about running is the fact that I can do it while being so light and free.

Anyway, in the past, when I first started to run, I opted to just run with my smart phone to track my distance and speed.

However, I found that my sweat/body heat fogged up the camera lens and all my photos turned out weird. So I stopped using my phone and started using a Jawbone UP24, which was a gift. But that’s just a simple pedometer which tracks steps and sleep. The distance and times were not very accurate.

So! I’ve finally made the switch to a running watch to keep track of my times and distances.

It came with a heart rate tracker, which I’ve been told by my hardcore running friends, is very useful and steps up my running to a whole new level… but eeep, I don’t think I’ll go there yet!

I want to keep my runs sweet and simple!

Looking forward to another long run this weekend. Hope you all manage to get out and about too!

xxx


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James Parker Sushi and Sake Bar, Northbridge

13 January 2016

After weeks of drooling over other people’s Instragram photos, I went out with a bunch of girlfriends for dinner at James Parker Sushi and Sake Bar in Northbridge.

In fact, I like it so much that I went a second time, with a different group of girlfriends.

James Parker Sushi, Northbridge

I really liked the spacey woodwork entrance of the restaurant. It felt a bit 2001: Space Odyssey.

The service was fantastic. The wait person helped us with ordering, making sure we didn’t order too much, and she was very patient with our indecision.

James Parker Sushi, Northbridge

My absolute favourite dish was the Fresh Tuna Aburi ($21).

It was served on a bed of spinach, and topped with other condiments and a lovely ponzu sauce. The tuna was deep pink, wonderfully fresh, and the sear was done perfectly.

The flavours, the textures, the freshness… it was orgasmic!

James Parker Sushi, Northbridge

I also enjoyed the Wagyu Beef Tataki with ponzu sauce jelly ($20).

The beef slices were delicious. However I felt that there was a bit too much ponzu jelly with each slice, which overpowered each mouthful with an intense sourness that I didn’t like. I had to scrape off some of the jelly to enjoy it.

James Parker Sushi, Northbridge

Next up, we had the Assorted Sashimi of JP ($52).

I winced at the price of this dish. But I guess with sashimi, you usually get what you pay for.

This assorted plate was lovely, fresh and I enjoyed it. It wasn’t mind-blowing, but I felt it was good value.

We also had a few sushi rolls, not pictured (Eel Dragon Roll $20, Soft Shell Crab Spider Roll $20, and our favourite, the Aburi Wagu Roll $20) and they were very delicious too.

James Parker Sushi, Northbridge

The let down for me was the Soft Shell Crab ($18) as it was a bit soggy and too salty. I think I should have chosen the Chicken Karaage instead.

Would I go again? I think yes.

I like that it offers a simple, easy, fresh sushi menu, in a cosy, yet modern setting.

The location is central, with lots of late night cafes and bars to move on to after dinner. The service is great and lots of parking options available nearby.

James Parker Sushi and Sake Bar
182 James St, Northbridge
(Corner of James and Parker Street in Northbridge)
www.james-parker.com.au

James Parker Sushi X Sake Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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Truth: I run, so I can eat fried chicken

2 January 2016

Run 2016

Haha isn’t this so clichéd?

It’s 2 days after the new year and I’ve decided to start to run more regularly!

Actually what really happened… was that I went shopping with my 12 year old son to buy school supplies and we were both craving KFC chicken spicy wings.

So we bought, we ate (omg it was soooo good!) and we totally regretted it after.

I felt really gross after that, so I had to go for a run late in the evening.

I smashed out 5km and I was pretty happy with that.

But maybe next time I can just go without the fried chicken? Ha not likely!

(Adidas Originals ZX Flux – approximately US$70)


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Spiced Vanilla Christmas Cookies

18 December 2015

Christmas Vanilla Spiced Biscuits

I made a huge batch of delicious Spiced Vanilla Christmas Cookies for my neighbours and friends!

I made about 80 biscuits in total, then I was sooo over it and refused to make any more. However they were SO YUMMY that my kids (and myself) ended up eating about 20 (over a week) and so we only ended up giving away 12 packets (4-5 biscuits in each) away.

Next time I think I’ll make stars, or round shapes, because my Christmas tree and Christmas men shapes were much too big and a gift bag of 4 biscuits looked really inadequate. I think 8 stars would look much nicer.

The recipe that I used is a variation on Jamie Oliver’s Ginger Bread People recipe, because I don’t really like ginger flavoured biscuits, plus I discovered that my ground ginger was out of date by 6 years haha!

The cinnamon and nutmeg add a gorgeous, subtle flavour to the sweetness of the biscuits, so it doesn’t taste like a boring butter cookie. I only used 1/4 teaspoon of the spices (instead of 1/2 teaspoons), because I don’t like super-spicy biscuits.

Christmas Vanilla Spiced Biscuits

Christmas Vanilla Spiced Biscuits

Christmas Vanilla Spiced Biscuits

Christmas Vanilla Spiced Biscuits

Spiced Vanilla Christmas Cookies
(Makes about 14-18 cookies)

125g unsalted butter
100g soft light brown sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
300g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a small pot on low heat, until the sugar is dissolved. Stir until well combined.
3. Mix flour, bicarb, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl and stir.
4. Pour the butter and sugar mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir well until it becomes a dough.
5. Cut the dough in half. Place each dough ball onto each baking paper paper. Flatten them out to 5mm and cut out with shapes directly on the paper.
6. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Decorate with icing and store in an air tight container. Mine were still delicious and crunchy after 7 days!

Enjoy!

Christmas Vanilla Spiced Biscuits

As for the decorating… I was VERY STRICT with my icing instructions, that my kids helped me for 10 minutes then left me alone haha! I did let them make silly biscuit men! And I promised that I’ll make another batch for them to decorate how ever they want – after Christmas.


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Fruit and Veggie Inspo

15 December 2015

Fruit Plate Inspiration

My kids are pretty good eaters and they enjoy their cut fruits and vegetables.

I wouldn’t say they love it, but they will happily eat through a mixed plate that I put in front of them.

Part of my push to get them to eat so much fruit and vegetables, is because I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I don’t pack a super-healthy lunch box for my kids.

They just want (1) a simple sandwich, usually vegemite or honey on wholemeal bread (2) some savoury, cheese biscuits and (3) half an apple. Not exactly great brain food.

Basically, they want to QUICKLY SHOVE the food into their mouths and run off to play. They don’t want to sit still long enough to eat.

So yep, they come home and they are starving.

In fact, they will INHALE ANYTHING edible that I lay out on the table within their reach – I figured I may as well put something healthy in front of them.

Anyway, here’s a few snaps of some fruit and veggie plates that I’ve put together in the last few months!

Fruit Plate Inspirationtplate02

Fruit Plate Inspiration

Fruit Plate Inspiration

Fruit Plate Inspiration


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Raw Chocolate Cheesecakes (Dairy Free)

8 December 2015

Raw Chocolate Cheesecakes

Again, before you judge me as being a crazy health freak, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it :)

Having a container of these in my freezer, has SIGNIFICANTLY reduced the amount of regular chocolate and ice cream I eat each week!

Raw Chocolate Cheesecakes

I prefer to make mini cheesecakes, instead of one large one.

This is because the cakes have to be frozen and when you want to eat them, you have to take them out and defrost them for 30 minutes. Much easier to defrost a couple of small cakes, than 1 large cake.

Plus they look hella cute.

Raw Chocolate Cheesecakes

This recipe is based on my Raw Coconut and Lime Cheesecake, but I dump the lime and add chocolate and more dates.

Raw Chocolate Cheesecakes

(Makes about 18)

Filling
1 cup raw cashews soaked overnight (or at least 4 hours!)
1 cup of pitted dates, chopped
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
½ cup coconut cream
2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons of cacao powder
½ teaspoon vanilla essence

Base
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup of dates, softened in water, drained and chopped (pitted dates are fine)
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
2 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoon of cacao powder
pinch of salt

Decoration
½ cup of shredded coconut
½ cup of raspberries

1. Line a loaf tin (or a spring cake tin) with grease proof paper, or grease with coconut oil.

2. Base: Using a food processor, blend the almonds, dates, coconut, coconut oil, cacao powder and salt until it turns into an even grain.

3. Evenly spread and firmly press the mixture into the base of the tin. Pop into the freezer. You can do this the day before. I would cover the cake tin with cling wrap first.

4. Filling: You can either rinse out the food processor, or use a high-powered blender for this. Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. You might want to adjust the taste by adding more lime juice or maple syrup. It’s supposed to have a limey punch!

5. Pour the filling over the base, smooth the top and pop into the freezer for at least 4 hours. I like to cover the tin with cling wrap to prevent it from drying out or absorbing any smells from my freezer.

6. Take out the cake to defrost for 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Decorate with sliced limes, crushed nuts and shredded coconut.

Enjoy!

xxx


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Double Layer Chocolate Cake with Flowers

20 November 2015

So this is not really a recipe sharing post. As in, I’m not sharing the chocolate cake recipe that I used, because it wasn’t that good.

I was actually just practicing my cake decorating skills and seeing if I could bake two small cakes at the same time in my oven. Answer is: Yes!

Double Layer Chocolate Cake With Flowers

I snipped a bunch of pretty flowers from my mother’s garden and made sure that I washed them and patted them dry – because one time I found a whole lot of baby grasshoppers in them EEEEEEPP!! That’s because my mum doesn’t use any chemicals or pesticides on her roses!

Double Layer Chocolate Cake With Flowers

Then I made up a bowl of chocolate frosting.

Again I’m not going to share the recipe, because I don’t know the measurements of the ingredients.

I made it from leftover ganache (melted chocolate and cream) that someone gave to me and I added icing sugar to it until it was a good spreading consistency.

It tasted amazing – rich and creamy, yet still soft, buttery and fresh.

Double Layer Chocolate Cake With Flowers

I stacked the cakes up with a layer of chocolate frosting in between them.

I kept the whole thing looking messy and natural looking.

Double Layer Chocolate Cake With Flowers

Then I decorated it with slices of oranges, raspberries, blueberries, chopped walnuts, pepitas, roses and flower petals.

It looked so good! I was so happy with it!!

(Everyone said it tasted amazing, but I thought the cake was a bit dry and crumbly…)


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Cupcake and Cake Stand Gift

8 November 2015

Cupcakes For Curi

I had wanted to do this for the longest time!

So the other week, I wanted to say a great, big, heartfelt thanks to my hair stylists – a husband and wife team at Curi Hair in Subiaco.

I feel very thankful and grateful to them for supporting me and my blog. They have become my friends over the years and I love catching up with them each time I pop in.

So I made some chocolate cupcakes, iced them and decorated them with red roses from my garden, bought a lovely glass cake stand and presented the whole lot to them!

I’m so happy with how it turned out!

(I bought the cake stand from Wheel&Barrow, but the model I bought is sold out now.)

 


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Atomic Cafe, Claremont

6 November 2015

The other day I took my 12 year old out for lunch, to spend some time with him, chat and just hang out.

We both love eating good food and talking about food, so he is an excellent eating companion! Would you believe he likes to take photos of food too?

You should have seen the both of us, mother and son with our smart phone cameras – HA how embarrassing!

We went to Claremont Quarter and sat in Atomic Cafe, which has a raised, open-air aspect, overlooking the central outside square. It was a lovely, spacious place to sit, with lots of natural light, and was not noisy or echoey at all.

Atomic Cafe, Claremont

I ordered the Chicken Bruschetta with grilled chicken, tomato, avocado, rocket, basil infused olive oil on ciabatta toast – $14.50

Yep it was a bit pricey, but it was really excellent!

The avocado and tomatoes were the perfect temperature, the chicken was delicious and marinated nicely (not too overpowering). I could not fault it, except the fact that I was hankering for a dollop of mayonnaise.

I had a soy flat white too, which was “just ok”.

Atomic Cafe, Claremont

My son had eyes bigger than his stomach…

He ordered a milkshake (can’t remember how much that cost, maybe $6?) with the Classic Burger, which had a beef patty, cheddar cheese, cos lettuce, tomato, Spanish onions, toasted bun with french fries – $17.50.

Ouch! Very expensive!

But again it was really delicious. I had to help him eat the fries.

Despite the high price, it was such a great place to sit for an afternoon meal, that I will definitely be back to try some other lunch offerings from the menu.


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My Favourite Hummus Recipe

3 November 2015

My Favourite Hummus Recipe

I love eating fresh hummus (or houmous) and so do my kids!

It’s a great way to gobble up a whole lot of raw vegetables.

It’s easy to make, there’s no cooking involved, I just have to whiz everything up in a food processor.

You don’t have to make it with tahini. Most times I use 2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt.

I always like to throw in different ingredients, like a few pieces of sundried tomatoes, or grilled eggplant, or sautéed onions, or chives, coriander or parsley leaves.

My Favourite Hummus Recipe

400g can of chickpeas
1 tablespoon tahini (or 2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt)
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put everything in a good food processor and whiz it all up till well combined! If the mixture is too chunky, add a bit more yoghurt or lemon juice or water – whatever your tastes prefer.

Optional – Sprinkle paprika or dukkah over the top (my favourite dukkah recipe here).

Enjoy!

xxx


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Mama Nyonya Kitchen, Canning Vale

1 November 2015

A few weeks back, my parents invited us out for dinner with extended family and some friends – there were about 18 of us altogether!

We went to a new Malaysian restaurant called, Mama Nyonya Kitchen, in Canning Vale (all the way down south of the river, at the Canning Vale Markets), specialising in Malaysian hawker food and Nyonya / Peranakan dishes.

Mama Nyonya Kitchen, Canning Vale

The place was clean and new, the decor was modern and fresh, and the staff were friendly and efficient. 

Since there were so many of us in our group, I expected to have to wait a looooong time for our food – so I armed myself with paper and pens for my kids, to play word/drawing/puzzle games.

Mama Nyonya Kitchen, Canning Vale

However the food arrived quickly. And my hungry hoard of children were very happy indeed.

We ordered Mixed Satay Sticks of 3 chicken and 3 beef satays for $13.80 and they arrived with onions, cucumbers and pineapple.

Mama Nyonya Kitchen, Canning Vale

Deep fried marinated chicken wings (in house special recipe), four pieces for $8.80.

My dad ordered these for the kids, but the adults nabbed them all because they were really tasty.

The fried skins were absolutely perfect – crispy and crunchy on the outside with soft tender meat on the inside.

Mama Nyonya Kitchen, Canning Vale

We decided to let our boys share meals, so we ordered a few familiar dishes for them to pick and choose from. The Hainanese Chicken Rice ($11.80) looked and smelled pretty good. I didn’t try it, but all my boys really enjoyed it.

Mama Nyonya Kitchen, Canning Vale

One of my boys requested the Nasi Lemak Special, which at $16.80 seemed quite expensive. It arrived and it was HUGE! It looked very impressive and it was pretty good.

They were very generous with the size of chicken rendang pieces; there was also sambal prawns, sambal ikan bilis (anchovies), acar, egg, fried anchovies, cucumber and roasted peanuts.

We probably should have ordered the slightly cheaper Nasi Lemak with Chicken Rendang ($14.80)… because the special version was just a bit too large for a hungry 10 year old boy, even though we did share.

Mama Nyonya Kitchen, Canning Vale

My husband chose the Beef Rendang $13.80, with rice on the side. He really enjoyed it.

The meat was lovely and tender, and the sauce was suitably fresh and tasty.

It had a real homestyle taste and texture to it, just like the way my mother makes beef rendang.

Mama Nyonya Kitchen, Canning Vale

My choice was the Bak Kuh Teh $29.80 (serves 2, only available on weekends). I shared this with my dad!

Bak Kuh Teh is a slow-cooked broth with pork ribs, pork belly, mushrooms, tofu and a whole lot of special Asian herbs and spices. It’s thick and soupy and you eat it with rice noodles.

Everything was fresh, the meats were succulent, the noodles were cooked perfectly – it was really good! I was very happy!

Overall, I’d say that the dinner serves were nice and large, the food was delicious, tasty, fresh and homey; the staff were friendly, they didn’t rush us out after we finished eating, the tableware were all new and clean, the atmosphere and layout in the restaurant was great for families and groups.

It did seem expensive, but I think I am happy to pay a bit more for the good service, relaxed atmosphere and positive dining experience with my family.

Mama Nyonya Kitchen
Canning Vale Markets
Shop 12, 280 Bannister Road
Canning Vale, Perth

You can check them at Mama Nyonya Kitchen (Facebook Page)

Or read reviews on TripAdvisor or Zomato.

Hope you enjoyed my photos! I’m hungry now!


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My Favourite Green Smoothie

21 October 2015

For me, I don’t really like my green smoothies to taste like vegetable juice!

You know, the ones that are made from *just* spinach, kale, apple, celery and coconut water. To me, they are not really smoothies.

Green Smoothie

I prefer my green smoothies to be a bit more like a delicious, creamy milk shake!

Most of the time I will “skip” the usual breakfast of eggs, avocado, bread, oats, granola and fruit, and have one of these smoothies for breakfast. Then follow it with a bowl full of nuts and seeds as a snack. Then have a filling lunch.

Or I might have a full breakfast, then have a green smoothie for lunch. It’s pretty filling!

Anyway, after lots of trial and error, I’ve created my favourite recipe! Hope you like it!

My Favourite Green Smoothie

Half an avocado
Half a small pear
1 cup of spinach
Slice of pineapple (I buy canned pineapple and keep the rest in a glass bowl in the fridge)
1/3 cup of natural yoghurt or vanilla yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon of lime rind
1 cup of coconut water
1 teaspoon of honey (optional if you like your smoothies a bit sweeter, or you could use the whole pear, or 6 green grapes).

Whiz everything up on a high speed blender and enjoy!

xxx


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Char Siu Pork Belly Buns at Typika, Claremont

1 October 2015

Being the school holidays, I often find it to be a rare treat to be in the company of just ONE of my kids.

The moment TWO kids are at their friend’s house, I say to my remaining child – Let’s go to a cafe!

Today I wanted to try out a new dish at Typika, in Claremont.

Unfortunately for me, I got stuck with my 6 year old. Don’t get me wrong, I love the little guy, but he just doesn’t LOVE trying out new and interesting dishes. He’s not a foodie. He just wanted chicken nuggets and chips.

But of course, I totally ignored his request and ordered what I wanted to eat:

Typika, Claremont

I had the Sticky Char Siu Pork Belly with steamed buns and pickles ($24).

The buns were absolutely perfect. They had a fresh, soft, top (not stale, leathery or crusty), with a springy and fluffy middle. They soaked up the sauce well, and they held their shape when stuffed with the filling. They were so lovely to eat!

Typika, Claremont

The peanuts were sweet, salty, crunchy, with a hint of chili. They were so good and totally addictive.

My son didn’t want any, so I ate them all!

The pickles were a nice accompaniment too. They were different to typical pickles, in that they weren’t very sour or vinegary. They tasted mild and fresh, which I actually liked.

Typika, Claremont

The pork belly was fantastic!

The char siu marinade had a delicious balance of sweet, salty and smoky flavours. The pork was fresh, tender, sticky and had an excellent ratio of fat. It wasn’t overly salty, which is often the case when I eat it at Chinese restaurants. It was good.

However, I think it could have been grilled a little harder so that the outside was crispier and had more of a crusty crunch.

Typika, Claremont

I also bought a coffee for myself and a honey joy for us to share.

When everything arrived, my son decided that he didn’t want any of the pork, or buns, or pickles, OR peanuts… so I ended up eating it ALL BY MYSELF! I felt like such a pig! I was so full.

Typika, Claremont

The honey joy was really good too. It’s been years since I’ve eaten a honey joy! I remembered how much I enjoyed the sweet buttery, caramel stickiness, mixed with the crunchiness of the corn flakes.

My son ate half of it, and I managed to eat the other half, because I couldn’t bear to see it go to waste.

I’ve dined at Typika before – several times for both food and coffee – and I have always enjoyed the experience. Cheers Typika!


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Raw Coconut and Lime Cheesecake

23 September 2015

Raw Coconut and Lime Cheesecake

This dessert is a raw, dairy-free, gluten-free, no-bake recipe!

Ok before you judge me as some crazy health freak… let me just say this: I eat WAY TOO MUCH ICE CREAM.

At the end of the day, when the kids are in bed, the kitchen is cleared, the house is tidied… of course I like to put my feet up and relax. I don’t drink wine. I eat ice cream.

Or chocolate.

OR chocolate ice cream AND chocolate biscuits, depending on my day!

Well, this cheesecake is a nice healthy, low sugar alternative. It is really delicious. You would never think that blended cashew nuts would have the same consistency as cream cheese! It does! And it’s lovely.

I love the sweet and slighty salty flavours (from the pistachios) and I put a bit of cacao powder into the base, to give it a hint of chocolate.  I only have one slice each evening with a cup of herbal tea, which is so much better for me than a bowl of ice cream!

Not to mention I’m slightly intolerant to cow’s milk, so I always end up with a slight tummy ache and a bloated gut before bed. But do I learn the next night? No! Haha!

Raw Coconut and Lime Cheesecake

I put together the recipe from 4 different recipes I found on the internet, and from my own trial and error. I’ve made it 3 times already, tweaking it here and there. Hope you like it!

The only annoying thing about this recipe is that you have to soak the cashews overnight, then you have to freeze/chill the cake for at least 4 hours. Then you have to defrost it for 30 minutes before serving… which means you pretty much can’t eat it until the next day.

Raw Coconut and Lime Cheesecake

YUM! SO good!

Raw Coconut and Lime Cheesecake

Raw Coconut and Lime Cheesecake

Filling
2 cups cashews soaked overnight (or at least 4 hours!)
3 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 cup coconut cream
¼ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup fresh lime juice
Grated rind of half a lime
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 tablespoons of maple syrup

Base
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup chopped dates, softened in water, drained (pitted dates are fine)
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
2 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoon of cacao powder
pinch of salt

Decoration
Lime slices or grated lime rind
½ cup of shredded coconut
½ cup of crushed pistachios

1. Line a loaf tin (or a spring cake tin) with grease proof paper, or grease with coconut oil.

2. Base: Using a food processor, blend the almonds, dates, coconut, coconut oil, cacao powder and salt until it turns into an even grain.

3. Evenly spread and firmly press the mixture into the base of the tin. Pop into the freezer. You can do this the day before. I would cover the cake tin with cling wrap first.

4. Filling: You can either rinse out the food processor, or use a high-powered blender for this. Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. You might want to adjust the taste by adding more lime juice or maple syrup. It’s supposed to have a limey punch!

5. Pour the filling over the base, smooth the top and pop into the freezer for at least 4 hours. I like to cover the tin with cling wrap to prevent it from drying out or absorbing any smells from my freezer.

6. Take out the cake to defrost for 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Decorate with sliced limes, crushed nuts and shredded coconut.

Enjoy!

xxx


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Gluten Free Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Hazelnut Crust

31 August 2015

A few weeks ago, I made something a little special for dessert!

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

This recipe was originally a mish mash of several RAW Gluten Free Chocolate Tart recipes that I found on the internet (pure and simple, rawmazing, bare root girl).

But my tart isn’t raw, because I use roasted nuts (they taste better!), I baked the base (roasted nuts and coconut is HEAVEN) and raw desserts use a lot of dates (I hate dates!).

The base is so delicious! Almost like a protein ball crossed with chocolate granola and it holds together really well. You can pick up a slice and it’ll stay in one piece. It is biscuity, crunchy and I have been baking it with sliced fruit on top to make simple fruit tarts.

Enjoy!!!

Gluten Free Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Hazelnut Crust

Crust/Pastry
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup of walnuts
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoon on cacao powder
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 teaspoon on vanilla essence

Chocolate Filling
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup of coconut oil
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
250ml coconut milk

1 cup of frozen raspberries
1/2 of frozen raspberries (to serve)

*Chocolate Filling Alternative
(I often run out of cacao powder, so I sometimes use this, plus it’s much simpler)
150g of dark chocolate
250ml coconut milk

1) Preheat oven to 180C.

2) Use a food processor to blend the crust ingredients. I don’t suggest using a high speed blender, because you don’t want the crust to be so fine and powdery. I think the crust looks better with chunky bits!

3) Press into a 24cm flan tine, or 21cm spring base tin. Work into the bottom and up the sides to create an even crust lip. Place in oven for 10 minutes. Let it cool.

4) Gently melt the coconut oil (or chocolate) then add cacao and maple syrup. Let it cool.

5) Pour filling into base, spread out the raspberries evenly over the top. It’s OK if they sink into the filling. Put into freezer to set for 2 hours. Leave in fridge to defrost for 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle more raspberries over the top to serve.

I loved the sharp tang of the raspberries with the mellow chocolate filling! But my children found the raspberries a bit too sour and would only eat it if I put a bit of ice cream or maple syrup on top.


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Lamb Pho Soup (for the Slow Cooker)

20 August 2015

Lamb Pho Soup Noodles

I LOVE making this pho soup! And my family loves to eat it!

We eat it with noodles or rice. It is absolutely delicious, warming, hearty, rich and comforting.

It’s quite easy to make too, especially when I use a slow cooker.

In authentic pho, you’re supposed to use beef bones and pre-boil them. But I like to use lamb shanks for my soups, because they are easy to buy, they are a cheap cut, I love the softness and taste of lamb, and there is no “cooked blood” mess to clean up. Plus I don’t have to pre-boil them, which reduces the prep time.

In authentic pho, you’re also supposed to char or grill the onion and ginger. I’ve made the soup without charring, and it tastes just fine, so it depends on how much time you have (or how lazy you are).

Sometimes I make this soup and just serve it over brown rice, spinach, broccoli, thinly sliced carrots, cabbage and cucumber… because I can’t be bothered buying rice noodles + sprouts + mint + coriander to make proper pho.

This is my version, which was created from a mishmash of 3 online recipes, but I tweaked them to make it easier for me.

I tend to throw everything together in my slow cooker in the morning and dinner is ready 7-8 hours later!

Ingredients
Broth Ingredients –
4 lamb shanks on the bone
2 medium onion
1 piece of ginger (10cm)
2 garlic cloves, bruised
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon of cardamom
1 whole star anise
1 large cinnamon stick
6 cloves
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of fish sauce (I don’t like fish sauce so I use soy sauce instead)
1L of beef stock
5L of hot water

To Serve
500g of rice noodles
2 spring onions
150g of bean sprouts
bunch of coriander
bunch of mint leaves
lime wedges
soy or fish sauce
chilli

Method
Char the onion and ginger over a naked flame or pop them under the grill for 15 minutes (turning regularly). I usually pop them under the grill while I gather the rest of the ingredients.

Roughly chop the onion and ginger and throw into the slow cooker. Add garlic, coriander seeds, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and salt.

Add lamb shanks to the pan and stir them around a bit to coat with the spices.

Add 1L of beef stock and 5L of hot water. Set on low and forget for 7 hours!

After 7 hours: Turn off slow cooker and let it rest/cool for 30 minutes while you prepare the noodles, garnish and slice vegetables.

Skim off the fat from the soup. Carefully lift out lamb shanks and meat. Shred the meat and keep warm.

Strain all the onions, ginger, garlic, spices from the soup and discard. I just use a fine metal sieve and scoop everything out.

To serve: Reheat the soup. Taste the soup and adjust flavour with more soy or fish sauce. Arrange noodles, meat, mint, coriander, sprouts and spring onions in large bowls, and then pour hot soup on top.

(In the photo above, I bought 300g of beef fillet steak, sliced it thinly, put on top of the noodles (still raw) and poured the hot soup over the top).

Enjoy!

xxx


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A catch up with girlfriends at The Standard, Perth

7 August 2015

My cousin was in town recently (visiting from London) and we organised to catch up with some of our childhood girlfriends over dinner. We decided to go to The Standard in Northbridge.

I’ve been here 3 times already – I really recommend it as a great place to have dinner and drinks!

Each time I’ve visited, I’ve taken my big DSLR camera and taken photos of what I’ve eaten. But each time, the photos turned out looking quite awful because the lighting in the restaurant is low and red in colour. Even with colour correction, I still can’t make the photos look “natural”.

So here is my third attempt to take photos of the delicious food at The Standard!

There were 5 of us and we ordered 5 plates of food to share.

The Standard Perth

First we ordered the Crisp eggplant salad, grapefruit caramel, pea tendrils and chilli ($18).

I really enjoyed the combination of flavours in this salad. I always love coriander and sprouts. The grapefruit caramel was sweet and citrusy and made quite a nice dressing.

I was expecting the eggplant to be a bit more crisp, crunchy and tasty… but it was chunky, soggy and lacking in a flavour that added to the salad.

The Standard Perth

This was my favourite dish on the menu: Grilled Chicken, rice noodles, peanuts, herbs and nuoc cham ($22).

YUM! The wait staff instructed us to shred the chicken apart, pour the chilli all over it and toss everything into a noodley salad.

The chicken was gorgeously marinated with salty Asian flavours. The dressing on the noodles was tangy and fresh. And the chilli brought everything together. It had minced ginger and garlic in it (much like Hainanese chicken rice chilli) and gave the noodles an amazing punch.

I’m a big fan of fresh Asian flavours with grilled chicken and this dish was just superb!

The Standard Perth

My other favourite dish for the evening: Glazed pork cheek, crisp jowl, broad bean and brussel sprouts ($26).

The pork was amazing! So soft, tender, tasty… it was cooked to perfection. The little bits of crispy pork fat that melted in my mouth made it all the more heavenly. The crunchy texture of the crisp jowl balanced the softness of the meat nicely.

The Standard Perth

We ordered the Beef brisket, brioche, pickle, Russian dressing, buttered cabbage ($25).

The Russian dressing turned out to be a creamy, cheese sauce, with a bit of tang to it (vinegar? mustard?).

I was a bit dubious at first, but everything on the plate was full of bold and delicious flavours, that I liked it in the end. The beef was lovely and soft, and the brioche was a nice touch.

I thought this dish was “pretty good” (I prefered the grilled chicken)… but my girlfriends LOVED it. When they ate it, their eyes rolled back and they’d go, “Oh god that’s so goooood!” and all throughout dinner someone would randomly exclaim, “MMMmmmm! That brisket is AMAZING!”

We also ordered Fava chips, mushroom ketchup and aioli ($9) but I didn’t like them, so I didn’t take a photo of it. I just found it too salty and I didn’t like the taste of the fava, which is a broad bean.

The amount we ordered was perfect for us.

I definitely want to go back again to try the Garlic Clams, the Yellow Fish Curry and the Mushroom Doughnuts. And maybe next time I’ll go during the daytime and take some photos of the food in natural light!

It was a fantastic night with good food and good company!

The Standard Perth
28 Roe St, Northbridge, WA
www.thestandardperth.com.au

 


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Mini Chocolate Oreo Cupcakes

30 July 2015

Mini Chocolate Oreo Cupcakes

I’ve been baking again!

I recently made some gluten-free (flourless) mini chocolate cupcakes and topped them with crushed Oreo icing and a mini Oreo biscuit.

I used my gluten-free chocolate cake recipe because it’s one of the best and yummiest cake recipes I know.

The cupcake was – not surprisingly – moist and delicious. It was a bit like a light, soft, cakey brownie. I reduced the amount of sugar in them since I was going to put an icing topping on them, so they tasted lovely.

Mini Chocolate Oreo Cupcakes

I made 16 mini cupcakes for my girlfriend’s birthday party and they were a HIT!

They looked great and had such a big visual wow factor.

I used a silicone cupcake baking tray (instead of cupcake cases) because I love the look of a naked cupcake :)

Mini Chocolate Oreo Cupcakes

This is what they looked like in the centre!

Gluten-free chocolate cake recipe
(Recipe makes about 18-20 mini cupcakes)

Ingredients
100g unsalted butter
140g dark chocolate, chopped
60g of brown sugar
3 eggs, separated
140g of almond meal

Oreo Butter Icing
125g butter, cubed and left at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of icing sugar
1 tablespoon of milk
4-5 Oreos, finely crushed in food processor

1. Preheat oven to 160C. Spray vegetable oil over a silicone mini cupcake tray, or prepare 16-18 mini cupcake cases.

2. Slowly melt chocolate, butter and brown sugar, until smooth. Then let it cool for 5 minutes.

(You can melt it in a bowl over hot water, or melt it in the microwave. I just melt them in a small pot on the stove, on VERY low heat!)

3. Whisk the egg whites until you can make firm peaks when you lift the whisk up. I use an electric hand mixer.

4. Add the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture, then stir in the almond meal. Mix until well combined.

5. Fold in the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, until well combined. Scoop a tablespoon of the mixture and fill each of the cupcake cases until they are 3/4 full. The cake will rise only slightly.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until your skewer comes out clean. Take out of the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Lift out the cupcakes and put them on a rack to cool completely.

7. Make butter icing by mixing butter and icing sugar with an electric mixer for 5 minutes until thick and fluffy. Use a large tablespoon to scoop in the crushed Oreos a bit at a time. Mix well until you like the colour/Oreo concentration of the icing.

8. Pipe the icing onto the cupcakes and decorate with a mini Oreo on top!

Enjoy!

xxx