This blog has moved to Thanks!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

2008 Orphan's Xmas with the KKC

KKC Orphan's Xmas

This year, we had our usual Orphan's Xmas with the Kiwi Kensington Crew - me and the Boys, plus Dany, Scott, Ben, Lisa and honorary member Nate.

Previous years have taught us we never have an appetite for a full meal, so everyone bought a selection of nibbles. As you'll see, there was a fair amount of food, but considering the small amount of leftovers, we catered rather well.

KKC Orphan's Xmas KKC Orphan's Xmas
KKC Orphan's Xmas KKC Orphan's Xmas

There were ribs, smoked salmon on toasts, devils on horseback (prunes wrapped in bacon) and ham.

KKC Orphan's Xmas KKC Orphan's Xmas
KKC Orphan's Xmas KKC Orphan's Xmas

There were also chicken wings, chicken nuggets, cheese, olives, peperonata, roasted cherry tomatoes, marinated mushrooms, and leek and sundried tomato empanadas. PLUS, there were spicy koftas, a couple of dips, sweet & salty nuts, candied pecans and more cheese (most of which hasn't been opened and will probably be eaten on NYE!).

KKC Orphan's Xmas KKC Orphan's Xmas
KKC Orphan's Xmas KKC Orphan's Xmas

Moving on to the sweet stuff - gingerbread cookies, cherry tarts, almond crescents, chocolate dipped strawberries, plus fruit (cherries, grapes) and pavlova (not pictured).

KKC Orphan's Xmas

After a couple of rounds of eating, there was "cricket" in the park.

KKC Orphan's Xmas

As well as some board games - Operation and Cranium.

KKC Orphan's Xmas

The mess we created on the floor was VERY impressive. This wasn't even half of it.

KKC Orphan's Xmas

Hopefully everyone else had a great Xmas too! Recipes for some of our Xmas food to come.

Messy corn, neat corn

Merry Xmas! I hope everyone had a good one. We had our traditional Orphan's Xmas with the Kiwi Kensington Crew (KKC). There was food and booze aplenty.

At Xmas I was admonished by Dany for not posting the following photo of corn cobs taken at my Birthday BBQ. Since the internet is poorer without it, I've finally taken the time to put it up.

See Exhibit A: on the left is corn eaten by a normal person (Alastair) and on the right is corn eaten by Dany.

Messy corn, neat corn
Exhibit A: Messy corn, neat corn

Freaky Amazing, right? It takes talent and dedication to be so neat.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cherry coconut mud cake

Cherry coconut mud cake

As mentioned previously, it was my birthday last weekend. It rained allllll day but despite the rain, I had a pretty good day. It started off with brunch at Plum (which was great, as always), and then afterwards Alastair took me shoe shopping as part of my birthday present. Those who know me in real life (particularly my colleagues) know that I have a shoe obsession, so it was a particularly good gift!

Cherry coconut mud cake

What's a birthday without cake though? Before the weekend my colleagues surprised me with a gorgeous chocolate mousse cake. I wish I had thought to take a photo of it! Then on Friday I baked (yes, I made my own birthday cake) and made a cherry coconut mud mud cake. Good cake, but oh my, it's certainly not one for those on a diet. Check out some of the ingredients! 250g butter, 2 cups of sugar, 200g chocolate, a can of coconut milk, plus two king-size Cherry Ripe bars.

I'm not a Cherry Ripe fan, so I thought about using real cherries. But I didn't want to go to the market on my birthday and I refused to pay supermarket prices for cherries, so Cherry Ripe it was!

Fortunately, despite my dislike of Cherry Ripe bars, I liked the cake! It was delicious but very sweet and rich. Good in small slices only! If you try it, I would recommend warming it up a bit before serving. The original recipe included a dark chocolate icing as well as dark chocolate panels, but I left the icing off. Thank goodness I did, otherwise it would've been incredibly sweet! I decorated with white chocolate panels and coloured shredded coconut and I think this was fine although I must admit I didn't eat the white chocolate.

Cherry coconut mud cake

Cherry coconut mud cake

From Australian Women's Weekly "Bake"

250g butter, chopped
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1 & 2/3 cups (400ml) coconut milk
20g dark eating chocolate, chopped coarsely
2 cups (440g) caster sugar
1 cup (150g) plain flour
3/4 cup (110g) self raising flour
1/4 cup (25g) cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 x 85g Cherry Ripe bars, chopped coarsely

Chocolate panels

300g chocolate Melts
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 150°C fan-forced. Grease deep 22cm round cake pan, line base and sides with baking paper.

Melt butter in a large saucepan; add coffee, coconut milk, chocolate and sugar. Stir over heat until chocolate melts and sugar dissolves; cool to room temperature.

Whisk in sifted flours and cocoa, then eggs and extract; stir in half of the Cherry Ripe. Pour mixture into pan. Top with remaining Cherry Ripe; bake for about 1 & 3/4 hours. Stand cake for 10 minutes, turn, top side up, onto wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, make chocolate panels: Stir chocolate and oil in a medium heatproof bowl over medium saucepan of simmering water until smooth. Cute two 6cm x 50cm strips of baking paper. Spread chocolate evenly over strips; lift strips to allow chocolate to drip off paper. Allow chocolate to set, then, using ruler as guide, cut chocolate into 4cm panels with sharp knife. Carefully peel away baking paper and place chocolate panels around side of cake.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Soy sauce chicken wings

So it was my birthday in the weekend. I organised a low key BBQ to mark the occasion – and of course it was the wettest day this year. It rained ALL FREAKING DAY. Nevertheless, I sent Alastair out in the rain to tend the BBQ.

Whenever we host a BBQ, I prefer not to cook raw chicken. No side of food poisoning for me thanks! So if I do chicken - normally wings - I poach them beforehand in a soy sauce mixture.

Soy poached chicken wings

This is my favourite way of doing wings because they are sooooooooooooo good. The poaching ensures that the meat is tender and slides off the bones, and the soy sauce and star anise gives it a wonderful flavour. The wings don't have to go on the BBQ either - whenever I make a batch I always eat a couple that have just been poached. I can't resist them!

The poaching liquid can be reused and will develop more flavour as it ages. To store the sauce just boil it for about 5 minutes afterwards, cool completely, and store it in the freezer. The recipe calls for rock sugar (you can buy it from an Asian supermarket) but if you don't have any you could use brown sugar. I would recommend tracking down rock sugar though, it seems to have a different sweetness (or maybe that's just in my head...).

Soy poached chicken wings

Soy sauce chicken wings

Adapted from the Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen

About 2 kilos of wings (or you could use a whole chicken if desired)
3 cups thin soy sauce
2/3 cup black soy sauce
2/3 cup Chinese rice cooking wine
500g yellow rock sugar
1 & 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 heaped teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
8 star anise
3 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed

Rinse the wings under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

In a large pot, combine all the other ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

When the rock sugar has completely dissolved, taste it. It should be fairly salty, but also have a touch of sweetness. Add more sugar if necessary.

Add the wings (do this in two batches if you can't fit them all in the sauce) and return the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as it boils, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.

Cover and cook for about 20 minutes (longer for a whole chicken - approximately 40-45 minutes. A whole chicken will also need to be turned halfway through).

If not doing another batch, turn off the heat and let the wings sit in the sauce for another 20 minutes. They can now either be eaten or cooled and saved for a BBQ.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pistachio and polenta cake with orange blossom syrup

Moroccan lamb

A wee while ago now, Alastair and I went over to the lovely Jo's place for lunch along with our usual dinner/lunch group. She made a delicious Moroccan lamb stew on cous cous, and I contributed dessert.

Since I hadn't flicked through the Australian Women's Weekly "Bake" in quite a while, I allowed myself to have a look at it again. I found a recipe for a blood orange and syrup polenta cake and made a couple of adaptations.

Pistachio and polenta cake

The resulting cake was rather interesting. The addition of the polenta, and this may sound strange, gives it a different but pleasing grainy texture. While it sounds weird, it actually was good! Unfortunately I broke the cake turning it out (check out that large crack!) hence my trying to cover it up with icing sugar and pistachios.

Pistachio and polenta cake

Pistachio and polenta cake with orange blossom syrup

Adapted from The Australian Women's Weekly "Bake"

125g butter, softened
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
300g sour cream
2 cups (300g) self-raising lour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2/3 cup (110g) polenta
3/4 cup (180ml) water
2/3 cup (100g) shelled pistachios

Orange blossom syrup

1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1/2 cup water
1-2 teaspoons orange blossom water

Preheat oven to 160C/140C fan forced. Grease a deep 20cm round cake pan; line base and side with baking paper.
Beat butter, sugar, sour cream, sifted flour and soda, polenta and the water in a large bowl on low speed with an electric mixer until combined. Increase to medium speed, beat until mixture changes to a paler colour. Stir in the nuts. Spread mixture into the pan.
Bake cake for about 1 hour. Stand cake in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack to cool. Serve cake warm or cold with the warm orange blossom syrup.

Orange blossom syrup

Stir the sugar and water together in a small saucepan; bring to the boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes or until the syrup thickens. Stir in the orange blossom syrup to taste.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


One sunny but slightly chilly Sunday, we went looking for a good brunch option. We came across Sugarbeat, a small (or intimate, if you prefer an euphemism) café in Ascot Vale.


Bro had the Catalan eggs ($13) – fried eggs topped with chorizo and corn salsa. The chorizo had a fair kick to it! And check out that yolk just about bursting out of it's skin.


I had the Bedouin eggs ($13). These were poached eggs with green harissa, spinach, feta and dukka on top of toasted Turkish bread. The harissa was pretty spicy, which I LOVED but I think some people would find it a bit much. The egg yolks were still nice and oozy - I love letting the yolk soak into toast. Yum!


Alastair had a toasted tortilla wrap ($11) – filled with egg, bacon and a bit of spinach and some salad on the side.

On the whole we had a nice brunch, but I do have one small criticism - our food was a bit cold. It didn't help that we were sitting outside in a bit of a breeze, but the food didn't seem very warm to begin with. But apart from that, we enjoyed it. As an added bonus, even my Bro thought that Sugarbeat was good. He is very picky about our brunch options, as it's hard for cafes to measure up to our favourite, but Sugarbeat received a tick of approval. Hooray!

5A North St
Ascot Vale 3032 VIC
Phone: (03) 9372 7118

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Food round up: Mostly Hobart

It's time for another round up of food I've eaten - mostly from my trip to Hobart with Mum and Dad.

Mures, Upper Deck
Victoria Dock,
Hobart, Tasmania
Phone: (03) 6231 1999

Hobart food

Our first night in Hobart, we wandered around acquainting ourselves with the city. For dinner, we walked down to the waterfront and decided to eat at a seafood restaurant.

I had blue eye fillets, marinated in soy, honey, garlic, and ginger, char grilled and served with stir fried vegetables and potatoes ($31.50). It was okay - not great, not bad.

Hobart food Hobart food

Dad had fish and chips ($29.50), and choose to have his fish grilled. It was served with chips and salad. Mum had the baked blue eye served on borlotti beans, roast zucchini, eggplant and capscium with sweet corn puree and pappa di pomadoro sauce ($33.50).

Mako Seafood
Constitution Dock
Hobart, Tasmania

Hobart food

My Dad seemed to be obsessed with fish so the following night we had fish and chips. We went down to the waterfront again, and ate at Mako Seafood, which is actually a floating two level pontoon. Along with the fried stuff, you can also purchase fresh fish.

I had a mini fish basket - for $8.50 I got a piece of fish, which was trevalla, a prawn, scallop, calamari and small chips.

Hobart food

Mum and Dad shared a fish feast - fish, 2 prawns, 2 calamari, scallop, chips and salad.

Say Cheese
7 Salamanca Square
Hobart, Tasmania
Phone: (03) 6224 2888

Hobart food

On Saturday, after visiting the Salamanca Markets, we stopped for lunch at Say Cheese. I felt like eating bits and pieces, so I ordered an antipasto platter ($23). It was massive! The plate was loaded with cheese, smoked turkey kransky, button mushrooms, smoked octopus, eggplant, peppers, olives, sundried tomatoes, and dolmades.

Hobart food

I also received a large bread roll and crackers. It could've easily fed two people. Look how many crackers there were!

Hobart food Hobart food

Fortunately, Mum and Dad had smaller meals so they were able to help me out with mine! Mum had a smoked chicken salad and Dad had a smoked salmon salad.

New Sydney Hotel
87 Bathurst Street
Hobart, Tasmania

Hobart food

Nearing the end of our trip, we had dinner at a random pub. I had a MASSIVE peppered steak pot pie ($20). This thing was seriously gigantic, and it was all big chunks of meat. It was also quite salty, and I only managed half because I got rather tired of eating nothing but meat chunks. The chips were good though.

Hobart food Hobart food Hobart food

Mum had a small seafood and tomato pasta with rocket ($13) while Dad had fish AGAIN. He had the fish of the day ($28). Mum also ordered us a caesar salad ($10) to share - and thank goodness she did! I was grateful for the lettuce to break up the tedium of my pot pie.

Raupo Riverside Café
2 Symons St,
Blenheim, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 577 8822


In November, Alastair and I also made a quick trip to Blenheim. Last time we were there, we had breakfast at Raupo. On this trip, we found ourselves at a loose end and went to Raupo again for cake and coffee. We had a chocolate torte with white chocolate mousse and raspberries ($7.50). It was a sponge like cake, so wasn't too heavy, and it was yuuuuuuuum.


We returned again for breakfast on our last day. I wasn't feeling particularly hungry (I'm not sure what was wrong with me - it's very unusual!) and just had a couple of mini croissants with butter and jam (normal toast wasn't on the menu).


Alastair had pancakes with fresh fruit and yoghurt.

That's it for this edition! I have been a tad slack with posting recently, but I have a couple of half written posts that I will try and finish this weekend.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Congee and chili sauce

Noodles and chili sauce

We love spicy food in my house. I've been on the lookout for a good chili sauce/oil recipe for quite some time. I wanted something that wasn't just spicy, but that was also fragrant and tasty. One evening I dedicated a couple of hours on google searching for a recipe that would be similar to what I had in mind. Eventually, I came across this recipe for a Vietnamese-Style Sate Chile Sauce on Viet World Kitchen.

It sounded like what I was envisioning so I cooked up a batch. I ended up with two jars of it - a small one (pictured above) and a larger one.

Well that was less than a fortnight ago, and I'm going to have to make more this weekend. Yes, it was that good! Bro and I have been eating it by the tablespoon - putting it on almost everything.


The day after I made the chili sauce, Bro made congee in my "magic pot". When Mum and Dad visited us recently, they brought with them a thermal pot so we could make congee (you can make congee in a normal pot, but they said it turns out better in a thermal pot as there's no danger of it burning). Bro and I have already had "discussions" about who owns the magic pot (ME!!). We shared our toys when we were younger but we're not sharing this pot!

To go with the congee, I cooked up some noodles, mostly for Alastair as he doesn't like congee. I was happy to make something extra because it meant that I could eat more of the chili sauce - yum!

On congee: I don't have a recipe for congee - it's one of those dishes where there's a basic idea that can be varied as much as you like. This page has some useful tips on the basics. Bro made his congee by soaking the uncooked rice overnight, and then the rice was cooked in chicken stock in the magic pot. He added chicken meat just before serving (he reheated the congee on the stove to cook the meat of course). It was delicious. I also have fond memories of congee flavoured with bacon bones that my Mum used to make. Maybe some of you have a favourite congee recipe/variation?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ladies who lunch: Trunk


Lisa came into the city recently and we had a leisurely Friday lunch. We headed down to Trunk, situated in a lovely red brick building that used to be a synagogue. Upon entering, we found there were two menu options – the bar menu, and the dining room menu. Lisa and I had a quick look at both menus and decided that we would eat in the dining room. Some of the options on the bar menu did look tempting though!


We started with salt cod green chilli fritters ($13). They normally come with three fritters, but the waiter wisely asked us if we would like four. Ummm, yes please! They were very nice – a crispy shell and salty, fishy middle.


We then shared two small serves of pasta. This one was the fresh pappardelle with a rabbit and pancetta ragu and green olives ($22/$27.50). The pasta was lovely and toothsome in the way that fresh pasta is, and the rabbit was savoury and tender.


We also shared the saffron gnocchi with cauliflower, gorgonzola and walnuts ($19/$25). The gnocchi was pretty good, with just a touch of gorgonzola. The cauliflower was nicely soft and sweet and the walnuts added a bit of crunch (despite my non-love for walnuts). While the pappardelle was good, I think we both preferred the gnocchi.


For dessert we shared a honey semifreddo with a chocolate Florentine wafer ($13.50). Definitely one for honey lovers, as it had that unmistakeable honey flavour, it was delicious but rather rich. I was very glad that we were sharing!


We finished off with coffees and received a little morsel to have with them.

Sadly, Lisa has now returned to full time work and there'll be no more lazy weekday lunches for the two of us for a while (I know, how inconsiderate of her!). At least they ended on a good note - we really enjoyed our lunch. Perhaps after work one day we'll return to sample the pizzas on the bar menu!

275 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9663 7994

Related Posts with Thumbnails