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All posts for the month January, 2011

Jamie’s Cook Book Challenge – Mushroom Risotto

Published January 17, 2011 by Mary Jane

Okies, so risotto – I’ve never made one from scratch before. The reason for that is I’m personally not a risotto fan and if you read risotto recipes they usually take around forty minutes to cook. So when I came across this recipe, I was rather interested as I’ve never made a risotto in my whole entire life. The trick of making brilliant risotto is that you can make the risotto base cooked in bulk, but it will then be stopped halfway through and held until you’re ready to put it back in the pan with a bit more stock and other flavours to finish it off.

So I decided to make the mushroom risotto – I love mushrooms and this recipe involves mixing different types of mushrooms. So here it is…

ingredients

ingredients

To make the risotto base, you have to stir fry the onion and celery and cook it very gently for about 15 minutes until soft.

Then add in your risotto rice to it and turn up the heat, don’t let the rice catch on the bottom of the pan keep moving.

then it’s time to add some white wine, you will smell the alcohol immediately, keep stiring until it has evaporated.

Then it’s time to add the stock to the rice a ladle at a time, stirring and waiting until it has been fully absorbed before adding the next ladle. Turn the heat down so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly…This should take around 14-15 minutes and give you rice thtat is beginning to soften but still a little al dente. Now tip the rice aside and time to cook your mushrooms…

Add a knob of butter and mushrooms with some pepper. Toss it for a minute or two…

Then add in the thyme and garlic…

then it was time to pour the rice back into the pan and continue adding some stock…

Add the rest of the stock a ladle at a time until the rice is cooked. Jamie said it should hold it’s shape but still be soft, creamy and oozy.

Now turn off the heat and add in parmesan, parsley, and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. There you have it…

And it was delicious and worth the wait! However, I did do a little oopsy…I accidentally added white wine vinegar instead of the white wine when I was making the risotto base…oops..so I skipped the lemon juice part and added extra stock to wash away the vinegar taste! doh! But it still tasted really nice 🙂

Cook book challenge success? Yup!

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Comfort Food Recipe – A vegetarian tofu with vegie dish

Published January 17, 2011 by Mary Jane

Okies, as most of you guys know I’m a meat lover – can’t live without meat so there’s not chance of me ever becoming a vegetarian. But some days I do feel like a vegetarian dish provided the side dishes have meats in them! So I was craving for some tofu one night. Yeah, most people don’t like tofu as they tend to think they are bland and yucky. But really, if you cook it properly it’s delicious. So here’s my stir fried crispy tofu with chinese vegies and you can whip this up under 10 minutes 🙂

Ingredients

1 x packet of silken tofu
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 x teaspoon of white pepper
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
1/2 tablespoon of soya sauce
1 bunch of chinese bok choy

Instructions

1. cube the the block of silken tofu into little square cubes and add some oil to the fry pan and deep fried them until they are crispy on the outside (golden brown) and soft and juicy on the inside. That way when you stir fry it the tofu won’t break and it’ll add that bit of crunch to your tofu!

2. Fish the tofu out of the pan, add in more oil and minced garlic and stir fry for a few seconds, add in chopped chinese bok choy. Stir fried for a few minutes until the bok choy is 3/4 cooked and add in your tofu. Now add in oyster sauce and soya sauce and white pepper. Stir fry it until everything is well combined and that your bok choy is cooked.

There you have it a delicious vegetarian tofu with vegie dish that’s healthy, quick and will satisfy your tofu craving!

Restaurant Review – Nasi Lemak House (Melbourne)

Published January 17, 2011 by Mary Jane

Evening bloggy friends, sorry I haven’t been posting lately – just recently had my early 30th birthday celebration so been quite busy lately…I’m slowly recovering from it but I’m glad everything went well and the weather was fantastic – really thank God…I will post some pictures later on. Also another special note this year 2011, there will be more human photos in my post! Okies, back to restaurant review post. This particular restaurant was recommended by our friend Justin. It’s on one of his food list to try. Anyways, I’ve never been a great fan of Nasi Lemak. I would occasionally eat it but wouldn’t crave for it. We went with two of our friends one week night and apparently you don’t have to book just rock up and hope there’s a table available.

When you arrive into the shop, it’s tiny – only a handful of tables and it’s quite a casual or should I say a budget “student” area. They have a huge menu board on their wall and you order at the front counter and pay first.

Then infront of the tables there’s a shelf where you can help yourself to water, cutlery and napkins – yup you know it’s a casual/budget place when you have to help yourself to some water and cutlery hehehehe.

So I decided to have Nasi Lemak ofcourse you must try one at Nasi Lemak House that’s their specialty and a friend of ours had that too. Pandabear isn’t into Nasi Lemak as the sambal is generally spicy so he opt for their shanghanese Ban Mein (flat white noodle soup) and my other friend had Randan Beef Curry. So within minutes our dishes arrived at our table!

Randan Beef Curry

Randan Beef Curry

To be honest, when the Randan Beef Curry arrived – we were a little shock as the curry kinda reminds us of something yucky like poo poo yucky! Ewe…gross…anyways, poor friend had to endure us staring at his plate of yucky poo poo like curry. The taste of the dish according to my friend was pretty average. Then Pandabear’s dish arrived shortly…

Shanghanese Ban Mein

Shanghanese Ban Mein

Well, the Shanghanese Ban Mein’s presentation was alot better than the Randan beef curry but according to Pandabear it was average too, nothing special. We were thinking to ourselves, maybe the Nasi Lemak will make up for the other average dishes. So finally both of our nasi lemak dishes arrived!

Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak

Well, the Nasi Lemak’s presentation seemed ok – it had all the right ingredients – anchovies, sambal, fried egg, cucumbers, peanuts, papa dams and fried chicken. But seriously, I was really shocked they only gave us a drum stick..it should come with at least two pieces of chicken. So I think it was alittle on the stingy side for servings. Also the fried chicken was really really dry – the meat is not juicy and tender anymore which made it worse!!

So overall, our meals were pretty disappointing. I mean, yeah it’s cheap but you would think a Nasi Lemak House would make an awesome Nasi Lemak. So here’s my rating:

Dining experience: 2 star
Food experience: 2 star
Would I recommend it? No!

Jamie’s Cook Book Challenge – Good old bread and butter pudding with a marmalade glaze and cinnamon and orange butter

Published January 10, 2011 by Mary Jane

Evening bloggy friends, hope this post finds you all well. I’ve managed to drag myself to work this morning, despite lack of sleep last night as Pandabear and I had 3 hours of nap and woke up around 11pm and couldn’t get back to sleep. I needed to break the routine, still go abit of sore throat but wasn’t sick enough to stay in bed! Anyways, over the weekend I decided to soldier on with Jamie’s dessert recipes and came across this bread and butter pudding. I’ve never made it before and have heard that this recipe is really simple and it’s one of those classic old English recipes that everyone loves 🙂 So here it is…

ingredients

ingredients

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and first make your flavoured butter by mixing the butter with nutmeg, cinnamon and orange zest

Then it was time to butter the bread using the flavoured butter and slice the bread in half diagonally. The recipe said to use 8 slices of good quality bread – that’s heaps of bread!! I couldn’t even fit all of the bread onto my chopping board, some were left on the plates…

Now it’s separating the eggs – the recipe says 9 eggs! That’s a lot of eggs!! whisk together the egg yolks and egg white with sugar then gently heat the milk and cream in a saucepan with vanilla pods. Man, I have a feeling this is going to be a real fattening dessert with eggs, milk, cream and butter!

It was time to line up the breads into my square baking dish. Jamie used a round ramekin looking baking dish for it. He didn’t mention anything about how to align them, so I did the best I could to align them or rather squeeze them all in…wow it was fully packed!!

Then I got carried away with trying to align the breads properly and nearly forgot about my custard mixture and quickly rushed over the stove to turn it off, I think it became a little thicker than it should be…time to pour the mixture into the baking tray so that the bread will soak the custard mixture up for at least 20 minutes…

Then it was time to pop this into the oven and pour enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake this for about 45 minutes. In the mean time start heating up the marmalade jam in a saucepan for glaze..

Then it was time to fish out the baking tray and I thought the top looked a little on the charred side, but I had a look at Jamie’s recipe photo and it looked alittle charred maybe my oven is playing up again 😦 so it was time to glaze the bread with some marmalade and it looked glossy! Pop the baking tray back into the oven for about 5 min

I allowed it to cool and firm up slightly before I slice a piece to try it…

Well, I really liked the flavour of the break and butter pudding especially with it’s vanilla custard flavour. I was meant to bring it to church the next day, but both of us didn’t feel too well so we ended up leaving it at home and I thought well, we’re not going to finish it all off, so I chucked it into the fridge. Which might of explained why the bread and butter pudding tasted alittle on the heavy/dense side, but the flavour is quite good. I think I might have over cooked the custard bit but oh well…

Jamie’s cook book challenge success? Yup!

Comfort Food Recipe – Taiwanese Burger Buns (Gua Bao)

Published January 8, 2011 by Mary Jane

Evening Bloggy friends, time for another comfort food recipe post. This time is our famous Taiwanese burger bun aka gua Bao. It’s sound rather odd isn’t it burger buns – not the ones you get from fast food joint like McDonalds or Hungry Jacks but this is a Bao white buns make into a shape similar to hamburger buns but instead of it been seasame bun it’s a white bun! I used to have it when I was young in Taiwan and they’re delicious, they used to sell it in the markets – instead of beef patties we have pork belly served with pickled vegies, sugar and peanuts. Kinda like a sweet, salty and tangy taste! Hard to describe. I was so excited when I come across these Burger buns in an Asian Grocery store so I bought a packet. However, it’s been left in my freezer for so long that I decided it was time to cook them and ended up subsituting it with random ingredients in my fridge as I didn’t have any pork belly – the master of random mix! So below is My version of Gua Bao!

Ingredients

1 x packet of Taiwanese burger buns (Gua Bao)
1 x can vegetarian mix vegies
1 x egg
1 x piece of nice steak (for meat lovers)
a small piece of ginger

Instructions

1. drizzle some oil in hot pan and slice the small piece of ginger into julienne and place it into the pan until fragrant and then add in a can of vegetarian mix vegies. You can buy a can of these at any grocery store – they are quite yummy – usually comes with bamboos, mushrooms, fungus, carrots and some soya bean vegetarian vegies and throw in some chopped chinese vegies. It’s one of my most delicious vegetarian dish!

2. pan fry your egg season with salt

3. pan fry your steak and season with salt and pepper. The authentic style is to have it with pork belly which I didn’t have. You would cook the pork belly with garlic, oil, five spice, white pepper, one or two star anise and soya sauce and stew it until the pork belly falls apart. So yeah it’s kinda like a steak burger bun – Asian style hehehehe

4. steamed the burger buns – you can either microwave it for a few minute with drizzle of water on the plate to create some steam effect. Or you can do it the proper way, steam it in a steamer which ofcourse taste better. I went for the microwave option 🙂

5. Last bit is to assemble your burger bun putting everything together. The great thing about the burger buns is that you can place as much filling as you want. Authentic style is to serve it with peanut and sugar and coriander. But I didn’t have them, but the vegetarian mix has it’s own sauce so I used that as a substitution.

ingredients

ingredients

vegetarian stir fry

vegetarian stir fry

It was rather tasty, except I thought the taste of the buns seemed a little funny – then I checked the packet’s expiry date and realised it was expired already! Oops, I quickly stopped Pandabear from devouring into his steak burger bun and told him the buns have expired already. So we had to chuck our buns away and just ate the filling 😦 next time I know to steam my buns straight away instead of leaving them in the freezer and forget about it…

Blog Insight

Published January 7, 2011 by Mary Jane

Okies, time for some reflection and update. Well, my mate Jonathan and his family were over in Melbourne for a friend’s wedding so we caught up for dinner and some random chats. Jonathan owns a health food store and for his side business he does wedding photography. Please check out his wedding photography work – he’s a freelance and self-taught (Jonathan Pang Photography) he’s very talented and over the years I see his photography evolving into some stunning professional shots. He’s doing very well, consider that he’s a self-taught and have no background in this field he managed to score himself the appointed photographer for Myers 🙂 So we’ve been brewing up some business ideas during this chat. We both sat down and talked about how we would like to collaborate together and establish a New Food Blog together. This food blog will be different to any other food blogs – I’m going to keep the details as a secret as it’s still in the early stages of planning. I’m really excited as Jonathan is not only talented in photography but he’s a great business man.

I’m sure putting our brains together, something great will come out of it. We all got to start from somewhere and even though it seems like it’ll take awhile for us to reach our goals, we both believe this new idea is going to work! He’s already thinking about 5-10 years down the track. Where is me, I’m more of a conservative type of girl – I like to do my planning and ask many questions – what about this? Is this going to work? How are we going to do this? Like any other business ideas, one must have a business plan first! The great thing about this business idea is that we don’t have to invest in large sums of money. We just invest in our time and resources! If it doesn’t work out, well it’ll be a great learning experience for both of us 🙂 So stayed tuned and I’ll let you guys know how we go…I’m really excited and ofcourse I’ll have to start some planning once I return back to Perth. So wish me luck! 🙂

Restaurant Review – Casalingo Italian Restaurant (Apollo Bay)

Published January 7, 2011 by Mary Jane

Anyways, so it was time for dinner after we’ve had checked into our hotel. We roam around the streets of Apollo Bay to decide what we should eat for dinner. We saw a pub and walked in and checked out their menu – not much there and it’s mainly snacks, so we decided to walk out and continue checking out shops and restaurants. We came across this little restaurant quite isolated from other shops and restaurants and read their menu. Italian food, mmm…yup we feel like some Italian food.

The friendly waitress greeted us with a warm smile and sat us down on the table…by about 7pm I was starting to feel alittle worried as we were the only table there. Either it’s just a quiet night or the restaurant food isn’t too crash hot. The restaurant ambiance was warm, it had pink walls and some nice paintings on the wall – which I found out they had a price tag on, so they were actually artist who place their art work there to sell. The place was a little dark, but I guess it kinda set that romantic mood – which is suitable for couples :-). Then we realised there were lots of people rocking up to order takeaway. So I guess the locals here prefer grabbing takeaways than dining in the restaurant. Phew…

We weren’t terribly hungry and when we asked the waitress how large are the main servings she replied they are not very huge. We decided to try 3 main dishes and some dessert, the waitress recommended us to try out some gelati icecream down the street – it’s a famous icecream place in Apollo Bay. With that in mind we decided not to over order in the restaurant…

Seafood Pizza

Seafood Pizza

The woodfired seafood pizza was divine, you can clearly see the prawns and mussels with some anchovies poking out and it’s generously covered by lots of yummy stringy cheese 🙂 delicious!

The next dish was panfried salmon served with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and capers salad and it comes with some olive oil dippings. I must admit the serving was quite small, but that’s ok it tasted quite nice we all had some mouthful…

Our last dish was mushroom and bacon white cream sauce penne. It was really yummy, not overly creamy and quite flavoursome 🙂 so overall, we were really happy with our main course. There was still room for some desserts!

We decided to try out some fruity desserts, so the orange trio caught our attention – it has a brulee, orange flourless cake and semi-alfredo :-). The semi-alfredo was the winner of this dish, it was very tasty – however it melted quite quickly you’ve got to be quick otherwise it’ll be a pool of semi-alfredo soon!

The waitress recommended their famous tiramisu it’s to die for. So we decided to follow the waitress’s recommendation and to our surprise the tiramisu wasn’t what we expected, it was served in a glass along with a huge piece of almond biscotti. The taste was quite nice, but it’s not the best one I’ve had. I think Ciao Italia’s Restaurant in Perth serves better tiramisu. Still we were happy with our dessert! And it was time to check out the icecream place 🙂

Here’s my rating:

Dining Experience: 4 star
Food Experience: 3.5 star
Would I recommend? Yes!