Sunday, 18 November 2012

mi rak korean restaurant @ rowe st., eastwood

Up until the other week, I'd always thought this place was called Eastwood Korean Restaurant; well that's what their sign says. It's only as you look closely on the words printed on the glass door that you'll make out the words 'Mi Rak' proceeding Korean Restaurant. And for someone that's been here a good number of times now, it does seem sort of silly and I didn't know what this place was called!

The boys enjoy their Korean Hite beer.

Chicken & Ginseng Soup. This one's just mildly flavoured by ginseng (which is to my liking) but the surprise in this not-very-big bowl is a whole baby chicken.

The standout at Mi Rak has to be their Seafood Pancake. Ordered time and time again, it is always crispy just like it should be. Although sometimes I think it should come with a little bit more chilli sauce on the side for dipping.

With the weather being a bit warmer, we opted for the Korean Cold Noodles (with chilli sauce) and Bossam (thinly sliced cuts of pork that you delectably wrap in greens and accompany with a chilli bean sauce). It's a lot of pork for even the four of us; ended up eating just about half amongst our other dishes.

Korean beef ribs when you don't feel like cooking it yourself at the table.

Dad was missing for dinner this particular night so we ordered him takeout as we were leaving. Dinner all up came to just a bit over a hundred dollars for the 5 of us (including dad) which isn't too bad. Missing from these photos is there selection of side dishes; there were 6 in total which they kindly filled up as we went through them. They even packed a whole box of side dishes with the takeaway that we we left with!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

drunken rice noodles

I discovered Gourmet Traveller magazine back in the latter half of my uni days and since then, I've been a solid follower with copies of the magazine living at my parent's home, where I live now and every month, there'll be a day you'll find the latest copy curled up into my handbag for some blissful reading on the train. I have to be honest here and very rarely have I actually cooked a recipe from the magazine; you can say it's one of those magazines which I look to for inspiration but the recipes have always either seemed to hard or too much work; but really it wasn't so bad when I went about to cook their Drunken rice noodles from the recent October issue.

Heat 40mL vegetable oil in a wok until smoking, add 2 sliced chicken thigh fillets and stir fry until cooked (about 3-4 minutes). Add 2 thinly sliced long red chillies, 4 cloves crushed garlic, and stir fry for another minute. Add 2 cups Thai basil, 1 kg fresh, wide flat rice noodles, 100mL fish sauce, 2 tbsp sweet soy sauce, 1 tbsp caster sugar, and 1.5 tsp ground black pepper. Toss until the basil wilts.

The boy used some pretty hot chillies so these noodles had my mouth on fire for the most part but hey, what we managed to cook doesn't look all too different from the pic in the magazine.

Guzzled the noodles down with my favourite sparkling water 'Antipodes'. I've kept the bottle in the hope of using it as a jug for some flowers (now I need to hint to the boy that I just need some flowers).

There's a few other recipes I've earmarked from the October Gourmet Traveller issue which I'm hoping to get around to this month. The Naxi pork ribs with chillies and cumin being one of them and hopefully I'll return to a bit more baking in November and try those Jammy Dodgers and a rather luscious looking lemon pound cake. Had a few crazy weeks back there so glad life has returned to something a little more manageable. Can't believe it's almost Christmas!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

the rose bakery's banana cake

If you're ever looking for a cookbook to buy, can I just say that any book published by Phaidon is bound to be a good one. You'll spot the Phaidon logo on the bottom left hand corner of the front cover (you can't miss it) and to date, The Rose Bakery's 'Breakfast Lunch Tea' is probably my favourite. Just love this collection of true, honest, easy to follow recipes and every photograph in the book just makes me want to lick the page! I guess it's just my type of cooking which is why I love it so much.

This recipe for banana cake requires some very ripe bananas. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line a loaf tin with baking paper. In a large bowl, beat together 150g unsalted butter and 180g caster sugar until light and creamy. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well with each addition. Mix in 3 mashed bananas and 110mL mixture of milk and natural yoghurt. Add 1 tsp bicarb soda and 1/2 tsp salt with 350g sifted plain flour. Fold in 100g chopped walnuts.

Combine the mixture well and spoon into the prepared tin. Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Here's what the book looks like.

Remove the cake from the oven and let to cool before taking it out. The one thing I've learnt with banana bread/cake is to not to eat it straight away but let it sit in the fridge overnight; trust me, it completely changes the texture of the cake. For ages I wondered how to get banana bread to taste like the ones you buy outside at the shops and the trick is to simply stick it in the fridge.

Not a bad looking cake at all. Probably not as sweet or buttery as the banana cake you'll find at the shops but still a good cake at the end of the day.

I'm fast running out of banana cake/bread recipes to try so if you have any good ones, please do send my way. I seem to consistently have a stash of old ripened bananas in the freezer which I don't know what to do with. And yes, I do have a soft spot for banana bread and old ripened bananas are just perfect for it I think.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

rice with spicy pork & snake beans

It was back in August that I read an article about how you could live to 100 if you incorporated more pork in your diet. Then I kept hearing the radio ads in the car telling people to get some pork on their fork and before you know it, I was on the lookout for pork cuts each time I went to the supermarket. Two things: 1) I admit that I'm a bit of a health nut and love reading articles on health but unfortunately don't always follow through 2) Off the back of number one, I do try.

So this is one of many pork recipes which I'll share; it's a Thai style fried rice and it's really your all-in- dish; bit of carbs, bit of meat coupled with your vegies.

Heat 2 tbsps vegetable oil in a work and stir-fry 3 tbsps red curry paste for 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Add 375g sliced pork fillets and stir fry for 4-5 minutes. Add 250g cut green beans, 1 tbsp clear honey and stir-fry for another 5 minutes. Add 750g refrigerated cooked rice and 1.5 tbsp fish sauce and stir-fry for 4 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasoning if required.

The finished product.

The fascination with pork has even driven the boy to suggest making our own BBQ Pork (Asian style) though I did shut that one down when it was suggested and in the end bought some from the BBQ shop. Yes I might have preferred the ones you get at the BBQ shop but little would you know, the price of pork fillet is somewhat dear; it's actually much more cost effective to buy the ones already cooked at the shops. Anyhow, if this pork craze sticks, BBQ pork will make it to this blog!

Monday, 22 October 2012

20 minute apple tarts

You'll find this recipe in Dorie Greenspan's 'Baking - From my home to yours' and it's deifnitely one of the simplest dessert recipes out there. Just four ingredients, an oven and a mere 20 minutes plus maybe another 5 minutes prep time and you'll have your own home-made dessert. Let me show you how!

Start by taking 1 piece of puff pastry out of the freezer and let to defrost. Our apartment is quite warm and find that 15 minutes does the trick. Peel and core 2 green apples; slice in half and then divide again so you have 4 pieces per half a apple.  Using a large round cutter, cut out 4 circles out of the defrosted puff pastry. Assemble half an apple on each round of pastry. Top with 5g diced unsalted butter on each round and a sprinkling of demara sugar.

Bake at 190 degrees for 20 minutes. Apple tarts are ready when the puff pastry has turned a golden brown. Serve with a scoop of vanilla icecream.

On days when I'm a bit too lazy to cut up the rounds, what I do is make one giant apple tart with one slice of puff pastry and apple slices piled in the middle and then all the sides rolled in. Find it actually tastes better as you get a better apple to pastry ratio...yes that does exist! (plus you don't end up wasting the bits of pastry which you end up cutting out) Be fore-warned though that this apple tart does taste better with that dollop of vanilla ice cream; so make sure that's in the freezer before you get started!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

baked chicken wings in thick sauce

Had the opportunity to catch up with a few friends yesterday and one friend who I haven't seen in ages cause she's been overseas even commented that I don't seem to go out so much these days. Made me think for a moment and she's probably right; I suppose I have turned into somewhat of a homebody. Home-cooked meals, DVDs and a glass of cider has turned into one of my favourite past-times with the hubby. I do miss seeing friends though so hopefully we'll be opening up our home to a few dinner parties in the near future.

So yes, you'll probably see a few less restaurant posts on this blog but more home-cooked dinners which the boy and I insist on making happen most days. It gives us a routine, we eat better and there's the satisfaction of cooking a tasty dish together (and grudgingly I have to admit, the boy is turning into the better cook). Whilst I'll be following the recipe to the letter, the boy will improvise and create his own dishes but that's how we differ and complement each other.

For some tasty baked chicken wings, I have the answer for you in this recipe. In a clean plastic bag, make a marinade of 4 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp sugar and 2 tsp salt. Add 10 chicken wings & bind the bag. Leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Roll the bag from time to time to marinate the wings evenly. Preheat oven to 220 degrees and place the chicken wings in a baking tin and bake for approx. 20 minutes, turning the wings halfway.

For a truly 'Hong Kong style' of eating, smear the wings with honey and bake for  a few minutes more before serving. Love the sticky goodness of honey on soy sauce chicken wings.

So you might be wondering how two people can eat 10 chicken wings in the one meal...erm, here's the story and it's quite funny. The story is that we usually buy wings in kilos. Asked the boy one day if I should split the 1kg bags of wings we buy into two but when I told him that there would only be 5 chicken wings between the two of us, he stopped me from portioning them out, said he'd rather eat all of them. Thinking maybe we might need to start buying them by the wing so we don't get into our comfort zones and overeat!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

laduree @ sydney westfield

My love for Laduree means I have both their cookbooks, a book about their store (half of which I can't read because it's in another language), a Laduree shopping bag, a Laduree macaron keyring and of course a collection of Laduree photos from visiting the stores in Europe. Unfortunately I haven't quite made my way to the Sydney store to check it out so have to live vicariously through other food bloggers until I go. Was pretty chuffed though that mum remembered me and bought me a small box when she went; it was good half hour wait for her so looks like the queues haven't quite died down yet.

The signature Laduree bag in green.

4 macarons come in this pretty little pink box. And as you can imagine, I've eaten the macarons but kept both the box and bag. Couldn't quite bring myself to throw them out.

Flavours from left to right: Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Blackcurrant Violet & Coffee. My favourite being the Blackcurrant Violet which tastes like you're eating a dollop of blackcurrant jam.

So what do I think of Laduree's macarons? At $15 for a box of 4 macarons, it's a hefty price to pay but worth it (even if it's for that minute of bliss when you open up that box). Tastewise, the flavours are true to what they say they are which is not something I can say about other macarons where you end up just tasting a generic macaron shell. I continue to love everything about the brand; everything is just too pretty. Any gifts from the Laduree store for those who want to buy me something, they would be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

marion grasby's thai red curry

So this week is a week of quick/easy to make meals (life is a little busy this week) so thought I'd get around to posting my next installment from Marion's Kitchen - a real life saver when it comes to cooking quick weeknight dinners. I'm actually two-thirds of the way through Marion Grasby's Kitchen Selection after trying her 'Thai Red Curry'; just two more to go - Sang Choy Bow and her Singapore Noodles. Secretly waiting for the last two to go on sale so I hope they do so soon!

So here's the packet in case you're looking for it at the supermarket.

Follow the steps on the packet; the only things you'll need to add is a little bit of meat and about 2 cups of vegies.

Serve with rice.

And there you have it, a cooked meal in about 20 minutes! Four boxes of Marion's Kitchen later, I'm still a big fan. Will keep you posted on the last two when I get to them.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

adriano zumbo's rose V8

Continuing my last post on Adriano Zumbo, I need to share these pics of his Rose V8 which I ordered for a recent family get together. Without me needing embellish things, it was a cake of beauty (truly amazing) and too quickly gobbled up. You see - we're always buying cakes for our family get togethers and it's rare that we actually finish the whole cake (with everyone taking a little bit home usually) so for us to be finishing the whole cake, it's definitely saying something.

The cake of beauty - When I ordered it, I actually thought I was getting the Vanilla V8 but picking it up,  I was told it was the Rose V8. Had my doubts at the time whether the rose would be too overpowering but then have a look at how pretty the cake is.

The cake ready for the big reveal. Unfortunately the website didn't say what all the layers were so I've only got a few pics to show you what was inside the cake.

All 8 layers within. There's the distinct flavours of both rose and lychee.

Cake innards - 8 perfect layers.

And well, it was an afternoon of polaroid fun. I'm a big, big fan of polaroid cameras.

So mum has already requested for another Adriano Zumbo cake for dad's birthday coming up. There's the Happy Birthday! cake otherwise the Croquembouche - which one to choose? Though my birthday's coming up too so maybe one for each birthday sounds like a plan!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

zumbaron day - oct. 6th, 2012

For someone that's not usually a morning person, I made the exception for Zumbaron Day this year; promptly woke up by 7 to be in the queue at The Star store by 8am. Unfortunately there were a fair few more eager beavers than I'd hoped so where we were placed in the queue, it was still a good hour wait till we got to the counter when the doors opened. But you know what, Adriano was in the kitchen and whilst I didn't have my face pressed against the window (that would've been embarrassing), there was a slight spring in my step and the queue didn't seem so bad. Plus the boy and I made friends with the people that were behind us and they were just as excited as we were to be at our first Zumbaron Day.

A good ten minutes was sent perusing the 62 macaron flavours on the menu. Of the 62, 6 were only available at The Star store so that was a bit of a no-brainer; I'd be taking those for sure. And well, 10 minutes later, it became clear that I'd just order all the flavours; that way I wouldn't be missing out on any of them.  

So usually I'm the crazy one that takes all the photos but the boy couldn't help himself and whipped out his phone camera and took a few too. The macarons are so, so pretty! Almost too pretty to eat!

Here are the specialty macarons that were only available at The Star store (clockwise from top left): Custard fritter, Duck Pancake, Pork Belly & Fried Chicken.

And here are the other two (from left): Hamburger & Fried Doughnut.

Fried chicken macaron innards - and yes, it tasted exactly like chicken.

Didn't think Adriano could pull this one off by here you have it, a Duck Pancake macaron which tastes exactly like the real thing.

Pork Belly. Whilst in the queue, I actually watched them making this one. One very red macaron sandwiched with 2 pieces of pork belly in a bun. Baked in the oven so that the macaron turns into a sweet red sauce when you eat it.

Happy as ever; me with the Choc Mallow Pop.

We haven't quite got through the entire haul yet but find that they're keeping well in the fridge (you know what, I actually think they taste better after they've been sitting in the fridge for a bit - they keep firm and some strangely retain their crunch). My favourite to date is probably the salted caramel. The strangest one had to be the Kimchi thought there's still a Wasabi and ginger one to try. Happy Zumbaron Day!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

baked tomato pork chop rice

If you're looking for a recipe which doesn't require you to be 100% precise about following it to the letter, this might very well be the one for you. And to top things off, it's a near perfect rendition of Baked Pork Chop Rice you'd find out at your regular Chinese restaurant; homestyle.

Tenderise 5 pieces pork medallions (or pork chops to be a bit more authentic) and chop into slices, mix with marinade (equal parts sugar, oil, dark soy sauce, corn flour, sesame oil and chinese rice wine; approximately 1 tablespoon each). Set aside for 30 minutes. In a jug, mix together 2 eggs, salt and a tsp of oil. Heat 1 tsp of oil and stir fry 2 cups of day-old rice. Pour in the egg mixture and mix well. Keep stir-frying until dry and then pour into a baking dish.

Heat 1 tsp of oil, stir fry 4 chopped tomatoes and add 5 tbsp ketchup, 1 tbsp white vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar, 1/2 cup water. When the sauce is boiled, add 1 tbsp corn flour to thicken the sauce. Pour on top of the fried rice. 

Stir fry 1 chopped onion, fry pork medallions with medium heat until half cooked. Place on top of the fried rice. Bake at 200 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

The only thing I'd say is missing is the thick gluggy sauce you usually get if you have this at a Chinese restaurant. I actually don't mind this homestyle version!

Cutting up the pork medallions into slices helps speed up the cooking process. We cooked this on a weeknight and with weeknight cooking, speed is definitely the key. Three words for this recipe - yum, yum, yum!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

massamun curry

I often wonder if I ate enough potatoes I might actually turn into a chip; chips are amongst my top five of favourite foods. Lately though it's been eating and cooking a lot of Thai food and well, for the moment I haven't quite turned Thai yet and you know what, I've discovered its one of those foods which you don't get sick of cooking. Adding to our repetoire is this scrumptious Massamun Beef Curry;  and yep it does have a sprinkling of potatoes in it to satisfy those potato cravings!

Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a saucepan and lightly brown 2 finely chopped shallots for 2-3 minutes. Add 2tbsp massamun curry paste and 50g roasted unsalted peanuts and stir fry for 3-4 minutes. Add 500g diced chuck steak and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add 400g coconut milk, 150mL chicken stock, 2 tbsp fish sauce and 40g brown sugar. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the meat gets tender. Add 150g diced potato, 1 sliced onion and 2.5 tbsp of tamarind puree and cook for another 6 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Adjust to taste with extra fish sauce, sugar and tamarind puree.

Spoon into bowls and garnish with shredded kaffir lime leaves and chopped chilli.

There'll be one day when I'll actually make my own Massamun curry paste but for the moment I'm more than happy to buy the pre-made ones from the supermarket. In this instance, I've used the Valcom branded one and it tastes pretty good (being the first one I've tried and all). Have to say curries reheat and taste even better the next day so I was more than happy to sit behind my desk at work the next day and gobble this one up!

Monday, 24 September 2012

marion grasby's thai basil & chilli stir-fry

It's rather handy having a supermarket near work. In my case, it's Coles and more often than not on a lunch time, you'll find me in there browsing the aisles topping up my snack stash at work or picking up last minute dinner items which yes, I ever so casually forget to buy on the weekends. Anyway, it's healthy to get away from the work desk at lunch time and doing your home grocery shopping is a good form of stress relief!

If you read my blog, you've probably seen a handful of posts from me for Marion Grasby's packet Thai food. On this particular wander, they had them going for $5 each (from the usual $6.99) so I grabbed another two to try.

I've found these packet mixes are great for those days when you want a quick, lazy dinner that doesn't require much effort. All the sauces/packets in the box are labelled in order of when they should go in. This one even comes with jasmine rice and the only things you'll need is some meat and vegies.

Dinner is served in about 20 minutes, that includes all the prep work.

The boy and I both cook up a rather mean stir fry these days (practice makes perfect!) so found this packet mix almost a little quick to make. It's bizarre; somehow or other we got past that barrier of not wanting to cook and we're all that much better for it. Still a big fan of Marion though and well, you need to reward yourself with some lazy days in the kitchen to enjoy cooking on the whole.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

japan city @ top ryde shopping centre

I'm loving the warmer weather at the moment; welcome spring! Time for some lighter foods to embrace the warmth and sushi is generally my food of choice. Nestled as part of Japan City at Top Ryde Shopping Centre is a sushi/tea shop which is perfect when you're after just a small bite to eat.

Spicy Tuna Roll for the chilli-seekers.

Our sushi set that ended up coming with both green tea and miso soup. You're meant to only get one of the two but must have been our lucky day and we got both!

And that's me, pretty chuffed when it comes to all things food.

There's only half a dozen tables so get in quick if you want to try it out. There's free wifi for those who want to settle down with their laptops and for everyone else, you're also sitting inside the Japan City store so a spot of shopping is rather tempting whilst you eat. Unfortunately, there's not much else on the menu except for sushi but the sushi is quite good!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

tagliatelle with prawns & chilli

The boy and I have been doing a lot of cooking lately; it helps us save a little money and means we're eating a bit healthier so win-win. Some days it's a bit of a struggle, especially after work and we're both tired but getting past that barrier and just making that effort to cook goes a long way. If you were to ask me for my top three cookbooks for the home-cook, these would be Hamlyn's '200 Thai favourites', Annabel Langbein's ' Free Range in the city' and Nigella's 'Nigella Express'.  For a quick, wholesome and plate-licking delicious pasta dish, look no further than Nigella's taglietelle with prawns and chilli.

Defrost 200g frozen uncooked peeled prawns. Cook 250g tagliatelle according to packet instructions. Heat 2 heads of chopped garlic and 20mL oil in a large pan and fry 4 spring onions and 1/2 tsp crushed chilli flakes for a couple of minutes, then tip in 200g sundried tomatoes (including the oil), and then add the defrosted prawns. When both have warmed through, add 125mL white wine and let to bubble up. Add in 50g spinach leaves and stir until wilted a little. Drain the pasta when ready, reserving 125mL or so of the cooking liquid, and toss the drained pasta in the chilli-prawn pan.

Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve. And if you're hungry, you'll be like the boy and me and gobble all this up.

One word - amazing! We used up our bag of frozen prawns which mum had given us when we moved out. She'd bought them from Costco and I can certainly vouch for them. Have been hunting down for a replacement bag but all the other supermarkets seem to be selling frozen cooked prawns; perfect excuse for a trip to Costco methinks.