{NZ} Puhoi Cottage Tea Rooms

Puhoi Cottage Tea Rooms

50 Ahuroa Road, Puhoi

Tel : 09 422 0604

Web : http://www.puhoicottage.co.nz/

I love traditional tea rooms. Those that have been there for a very long time, with really rich history and recipes that have been around for ages. I absolutely adore such places. The Puhoi Cottage Tea Rooms is one such place! It has been around for 40 years and is one of the oldest tea rooms in New Zealand! Highly recommended for their lovely scones, I just couldn’t wait to try them!

When we got there it was a cute little cottage with both seats inside and outside. With the sun shining above us, we just had to sit outside to enjoy the heat and greens.

There were even chickens running around us. Cheers to animals in the wild! (:

When we arrived, we were greeted by the owner, David, who was strumming jazz and blues on his guitar and singing for his guests! They had a whole range of different homemade cakes and savouries and hot drinks to go along. The devonshire tea/coffee set came with one large scone and a hot drink. Scones along are $5 each. May seem a little much for a scone, but you will understand why when you see the size of them!

We were warned! hehe Knowing how big the scones would be, we ordered 3 sets of scones and a serve of carrot cake for the 6 of us! (:

How glorious do those scones look? They were fresh from the oven, and served with freshly whipped cream and beautiful jam. The scones were so huge that they took up more then 1/3 of the tray! My face just instantly lit up when the tray arrived.

A mouthful of yumminess!

Beautiful carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. You could really taste the cinnamon in this cake and absolutely loved it! Was slightly moist which is how I love my cakes. hehe Gorgeous!

We had an absolutely amazing time and we were so full when leaving the tea room. (: Happy bellies, definitely!

{NZ} My Kitchen Part 1 : Vegetarian

I don’t know about you, but Taiwanese food has always been a favourite in my family. There was a period of time we went to Taiwan at least once a year. And when we are there, we would always eat till our hearts content! Especially the street food that you can get at the night markets. Simply delicious!

After days of western food, I think we were craving for something asian so my cousins brought us to My Kitchen! The good thing about Taiwan restaurants/cafes is that they cater to vegetarians as well. Which was awesome! We ate so much, we were stuffed by the time we were done with our starters. haha But the food was too good to not finish (of course the mr had to finish half of my food for me haha).

i was never a big fan of century eggs. I use to only like them in my porridge when I have dim sum. But I tried a dish a while back with toufu and a century egg sauce and totally loved it! When my cousins ordered this, I couldn’t be more pleased! It was delicious! I wanted more!

Thai style deep fried toufu! This was super yummy too! Just didn’t know whether it fits the Taiwan street food theme. I guess smelly toufu would fit more, but thank goodness they didn’t order it! haha Nonetheless, the toufu was super crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Went perfectly with the sweet and spicy sauce!

This was a childhood favourite of mine. Fried mantous with condense milk! No one at the table tried it before. I was so super excited when they placed this on the table. I was practically grinning! haha They seriously compliment each other. If you haven’t tried this, PLEASE DO! Hot and crispy man tou with sweet condense milk.

mmm. just thinking and looking at it makes me salivate!

It’s vegetarian braised mince pork rice (素卤肉饭) ! It was so so good! And only $4.90NZD! Delicious (:

This is my braised mock beef noodles (红烧牛肉面) and the soup was really herbal and perfect for a cold day. The noodles were endless and of course the mr had to finish it for me. haha

 Mummy’s mince mock pork noodles! This was a little ordinary compared to the rest. Loved the addition of fresh cucumber and carrots though!

The Mr ordered the pork chop set which came with braised mince pork rice and three side dishes. Doesn’t that pork chop look amazingly similar to the real ones we usually have? So so amazing!

The portion sizes were all really huge here so if you want to try more dishes, I suggest sharing the mains instead! Unless you’re a big eater or have someone who would finish up everything, like me! haha Stay tuned for the non-vegetarian meal we had at this place next! (:

Baking In New Zealand : Baklava

Sorry for the lack of posts the past 2 weeks. I just got back from a holiday in New Zealand (: So I am all refreshed and ready to keep the blog going! It was a fantastic trip; spending time with family and eating absolutely delicious food! I couldn’t believe 11 days went by in a jiffy. Time always seems to fly when we are having fun. Will definitely head back for another holiday in time to come!

We were so fortunate that we have family living in Auckland so we were able to live in their beautiful place for the 11 days. Just feel so calm and serene. Love their place! It’s really amazing to wake up to this view everyday.

When I first stepped into the house, there was just one word in my mind : WOW! The one room that I absolutely loved was the kitchen. The oven to be more specific!

Doesn’t it look gorgeous? It’s my dream stove/oven! (:

My cousin had a get together with his friends and he was in-charge of desserts so he asked me to teach him to make a Mediterranean dessert and the first thing that popped into my mind was baklava! It was quite brave of me to suggest that as I have never ever made it before. It was just always on my “to-bake” list! Thankfully, it turned out delicious and his friends liked it. *phew*

Nothing beats the combination of butter, nuts and sugar in between layers of crispy pastry. I remember when I use to live in Brunswick, we were able to buy really delicious baklava. Till this day, I would crave for one and have the urge to drive there to get it!

Making baklava was a team effort though. Needed someone to be in-charged of brushing the layers of filo pastry with melted butter, and other to place the layers of the filo perfectly in-line with the rest, another person scattering the nut and sugar mixture. Just made the whole process really fun! Loved every second of it.

Definitely making this again. Soon 😀

Baklava (Adapted from Gourmet Traveller August 2009)

250g pistachios and cashews, finely chopped

50g caster sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

100g butter, melted

300g filo pastry

Lemon Honey Syrup

150g caster sugar

75g honey

Grated rind of 1 lemon

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Steps :

1) Combine the nuts, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, and set aside. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius and line a tray with baking paper.

2) Layer one-third of the filo pastry in tray, brushing butter between each layer. Scatter evenly with half the nut mixture, then top with half the remaining pastry, brushing butter between each layer. Scatter over remaining nuts, top with remaining filo, brushing between each layer with butter. Refrigerate until firm (15 minutes), then cut through all pastry layers into 4cm diamonds with a sharp knife. Bake until golden and cooked through (about 30 mins). If needed, cover loosely with foil partway.

3) Meanwhile, for honey syrup, combine sugar, honey, lemon rind and 150ml water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low, simmer until infused (10-15 minutes). Remove from heat, stir through lemon juice and set aside to cool slightly.

4) Cool baklava slightly (2-3 minutes), pour over syrup evenly, set aside at room temperature to cool completely (overnight if possible). Baklava will keep in tray, covered, for 3-4 days. ENJOY!

My favourite way to have it is to pop it into the microwave for 10 secs and have it warm! How do you like to eat your baklava? (:

A Day of Two Brunches

Brunch has been a weekend affair ever since I can remember. The Mr and I would try to explore different cafes on Sundays after church, especially if they are highly recommended. On some Sundays though, we rather head back to a place we know we would definitely love and enjoy. In fact, we went to 2 of our favourite places within 2 hours. Thank goodness for close proximity!

Proud Mary

172 Oxford Street, Collingwood Vic 3066

First stop : Proud Mary ! This definitely isn’t our first time at Proud Mary. The Mr and I came here on a weekly basis before we got married. But due to work commitments, we are only able to come once or twice a month. Not a bad thing though. Cause it makes us miss it alot more, and crave for their delicious brunch! As usual the queue was all the way to the road outside the cafe, so we had to put our names down on a waiting list. We were told it would be a 30 mins wait. So we decided to make a small detour and headed to our second stop : Monsieur Truffe (MT for short) that was just a few streets down to get ourselves our chocolate croissant fix!

Monsieur Truffe

90 Smith Street, Collingwood Vic 3066

When you enter MT, you are hit with the loveliest smell of butter pastry and cocoa. They make their own chocolates and you can purchase their bars as well! What got my attention was the huge chocolate rooster standing proudly on top of a cabinet of baked goods. We ordered a chocolate croissant each and had to head back to Proud Mary to wait for our seats!

This is what a croissant should be. Layers and layers of pastry. Crispy on the outside, soft and buttery on the inside. With the addition of chocolate, PERFECT. The Mr just can’t get enough! (:

So about the time we got back from MT, our names were called and we got to our seats! Lucky ducks we were!

If you’ve never been to Proud Mary and you are a coffee lover. I URGE you to make a trip down as soon as possible. I usually am not a coffee drinker (chai is definitely my choice of beverage), but when I am there, I have to order their latte or cappuccino. Definitely one of the best coffees we’ve had! The baristas are super quick with the orders and professional, might I add. Proud Mary has so many different ways of brewing their coffee, I get so amazed!

Of course, it’s not just the coffees that are good here. The food is to-die-for! I didn’t really need to look at the menu. I knew what I wanted even before we got here. haha The Hash!

The potato hash was just heavenly. Every single bite was just more delightful than the one before. The saltiness of the bacon, the crispy bacon and the soft and runny poached egg. The hash was nice and crispy on the outside, but the unique thing about their hash is that you can see every strand of it. It’s not mush like others. Perfectly seasoned. YUM!

The Mr ordered the smoked herring. It was a new dish on the menu so he wanted to give it a try. And also because he didn’t want to end up ordering the same thing as me (oops). He also ordered a side of bacon (super generous portion) just cause he wanted some!

It came with a chutney, fried egg, salad and toast! Was pretty yummy, but we did prefer the smoke salmon they use to have! That was really good. hehe

After the 2 meals, you can imagine how full we were. But we were definitely very happy we had brunch there. (: So have you tried Proud Mary before dear readers? What was your favourite dish?

Till next time, have a lovely Easter everyone! xx

Salted Vegetables Duck Soup (Giam Chai Ark)

I love soup! When I think of soup, one word comes to mind – comfort.

They are a definite must during the super cold and gloomy days. Soups are the one thing I think of when I feel physically drained and especially when I’m down with the flu. After 8 weeks of work, I think my body is begging me to take a break and to have a good rest. Thank goodness the holidays are here! (: Unfortunately, I caught a kid-bug from school and am down with the horrible flu. This fluctuating weather in Melbourne definitely is not helping. Super cold in the morning and cold at night.

Back home, every dinner included a bowl of soup. Even though it was never cold in Singapore, soup was a necessity to begin and/or  end the meal. The Mr is cantonese, so before starting his meal, he had to have a few sips of soup. As for me, I’m Hakka, and have our soup at the end of the meal. So as you can tell, soup is very important in our culture.

Grandma’s pig stomach soup! noms!

One of my favourite soups is pig stomach’s soup. My grandma would always cook a whole huge pot for me when I am back in Singapore. This and stewed pork knuckle. Just thinking about it makes me salivate! The other soup that makes the top of my list is salted vegetables duck soup! My mum would make this occasionally and I would happy slurp down 2 big bowls of it!

We had a craving for it and decided to buy a huge duck from Costco. So the Mr deboned the duck and cut the carcass into a few pieces. I reserved the duck breast for future use and used the rest of the duck. It was my first time cooking it, so I was a little uncertain about how it would turn out. But with chinese food, alot is about trail and error. So I did! haha Thank goodness, it turned out well and tasted quite close to the one mum makes! yippee!

Salted Vegetables Duck Soup (An Original Recipe by Food Made With Love)

1 duck, deboned and cut into pieces (I kept the duck breast)

2 tomatoes, quatered

5 cloves garlic, chopped

6 dried shitake mushroom, rinsed and soaked (reserve the water)

1 can button mushroom (or any other mushroom you want)

1 packet of salted mustard greens*, soak in water for 30 mins and cut into big pieces

2 tbs vegetable oil

2 tbs shaoxing wine

1 tbs light soy sauce

1 tsp ground white pepper

1.5L water

Steps :

1) Heat a big soup pot over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. Fry the garlic till fragrant. Careful not to burn the garlic or the soup will have a bitter taste.

2) Add the duck and fry till the skin is nice and brown, add the shaoxing wine and the water. Allow it to come to a boil. Skim the foam off the top to make sure the stock remains clear. Once the foam is skimmed off, add the tomatoes and the salted mustard greens. Cover the pot with the lid and simmer over low heat for 30mins.

3) Add the soaked shitake mushrooms and the water. Add the light soy sauce and pepper, adjust according to your preference. Add the canned button mushrooms and simmer the soup for another hour or more. Check every now and then to make sure the soup is not over-reduced.

4) Serve with steamed rice or quinoa and ENJOY! (:

Note :

* Salted green mustard can be bought at any asian supermarkets. Remember to soak it for at least 30mins as it might be a bit too salty. Do also note that there is a sour version of this. The packaging looks similar, so read it to make sure its the salted one!

** You can also add some pork bones or chicken bones to add more flavour to the soup! If you do, you can just use half a duck and keep the other half for something else (:

Homemade Yu Seul Jja Jang Myun

So the korean craze continues.

Remember my recent review on Han Guuk Guan and we had the yummiest jja jiang myun? I got adventurous and decided to challenge myself to make it! I was a bit apprehensive about it, but we both were craving for more after having it that night! So I went to the asian supermarket KFL at Springvale and guess what I saw?

Black bean paste! (: PERFECT! I snapped a photo and whatsapped the mr and he was as enthusiastic about it as I was. So I saw that as a green light to get it. It wasn’t expensive though. Just $3? Could definitely last us for a minimum of 10 plates of jja jang myun! haha

I also question how restaurants get their jja jung myun the beautiful dark colour and only after I cooked it myself, I realised it’s all in the black bean sauce! There is no secret and definitely no additional colouring. *phew*

I have to admit, after plating up I was dancing a small dance inside when I realised I got it looking pretty close to the one we had at Ham Guuk Guan! I couldn’t find the right noodles to use so I just used the flat wheat noodles. It worked well with it as well! Had a little spring to the noodles. Almost like the la mian you get from chinese restaurants. The julienne zucchini gave the dish an extra crunch and the mr really enjoyed that. (:

I sure do love my noodles black. hehe (:

Yu Seul Jja Jang Myun (Seafood Black Bean Noodles)

200g basa fillet, sliced into 1-inch pieces

150g prawn, shelled and deveined (keep the shell for stock*)

50g clams

1 onion, cubed

1 carrot, cute into cubes

150g black bean sauce

1 1/2 cup prawn stock (recipe below)

1/2 zucchini, julienned, for garnish

1/2 tbs sugar

1 heap tbs corn starch

3 tbs water

2 tbs olive oil

200g dried wheat noodles

Steps :

1) Heat the olive oil in a deep dish pan over medium to high heat and add the onions and carrots. Fry until the onions become transparent and the carrots become a little softer.

2) Add the black bean sauce and stir it well. Add the stock* slowly, stirring, making sure everything is well combined. Cover with a lid and allow it to come to a soft boil.

3) Add the seafood according to the time needed for them to cook. I added the fish and allowed it to cook for 2-3 mins, before adding the prawns then the clams.

4) Add the sugar and adjust amount as needed. Mix the corn starch with water and slowly add it to the sauce, stirring as you add the mixture, allowing it to thicken.

5) Boil the wheat noodles according to the instructions at the back of the packet, then drain them when ready. Place them on a large plate and top it with the black bean sauce. Top the dish with the julienned zucchini before serving. ENJOY!

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* For the prawn stock :

Shells from the prawns used

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tbs vegetable oil

1 litre water

1 tsp fish sauce

Steps :

1) Heat the oil in a small heavy-based pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and fry till it’s brown, careful not to burn it as it will turn bitter.

2) Add the prawn shells and fry till the shells turn orange/red. Use the spatula to press the heads down and get all the flavours out of the shells.

3) Add the water and fish sauce and allow the stock to come to a boil. Lower the heat and allow the stock to simmer for not more than 30 mins. Drain the shells and take out 1 1/2 cups of stock for the noodles. You can freeze the rest for up to 1 month or keep in the fridge to be used within 3 days.

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Once again, a messy plate is a yummy plate in my books! (: 

Veal Goulash

I never had veal. Not that I can remember. It just never hit me that maybe I should give it a try. Maybe it’s just the thought that veal is the meat from young calves that made me not want to try them at first. But after watching Italian Food Safari and seeing how they cooked a veal osso bucco. I really wanted to try veal, at least once. And so I did. Of course I didn’t know what was the best way to cook the veal and so I decided, veal goulash!

So off I went to the supermarket to get the ingredients for a goulash. I walked the aisles of Woolies and just couldn’t think of what to compliment the veal goulash. Mash? Greens? But in the end, I decided that the stew would be perfect with egg tagliatelle. With the delicious gravy coating every single strand of the pasta. What could be better? And might I add, more comforting on a cold night after a day of work?

I cheated today and adapted from the recipe that was found on the packaging of the veal stew meat I bought from Woolies. Was a bit apprehensive because they put the juice of a whole orange in the stew. Something sweet in savoury? Will it work? Then I remembered the winners of MKR (Leigh & Jennifer) who used pineapple juice when cooking their massaman curry (so going to try it!), making Judge Manu Feildel go “OMG!” I immediately decided to give it a shot. And I am so glad I did! It was delicious!

As it cooks, the smell of the orange gets stronger. But when you actually taste it, there is only a subtle taste of the orange and it actually works beautifully!  With the saltiness of the parmesan cheese, everything just went so well together. We loved it!

Veal Goulash (adapted from Woolworths Recipe)

400g veal stew cut, diced

1 red onion, sliced into small wedges

1 heap tbs plain flour

1 tin (400g) diced tomatoes

1/2 cup green split olives

Juice of 1 orange

Rind of 1 orange, grated

250ml beef stock

1 tsp paprika (can add more if you like the spice!)

1 heap tbs thickened cream

salt and pepper, to taste

Steps :

1) Heat a heavy-based pot over medium-high heat with 1 tbs of olive oil and brown the veal. Brown them in 3 batches so that it will give the stew a nice dark colour. Take them out and put them aside.

2) Add another tbs of olive oil and the onions. Fry till the onions start to break down and soften. Add the plain flour and stir until the onions are well coated.

3) Slowly add the beef stock, olives, diced tomatoes, orange juice, orange rind and paprika. Allow the stew to simmer for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Pop the lid on but do not cover the pot completely. Give a small gap to allow some of the liquid to evaporate, thickening the stew. Season with salt and pepper.

4) Just before you serve, add the cream and stir it well. If serving with pasta, cook the pasta according to the package and add it into the goulash coating the pasta well. Top it with shaven or grated parmesan and ENJOY! (:

If you ask me, a messy plate is a yummy plate. haha (: If you have any good veal recipes, please point me to the direction! Would love to learn more ways to cook this gorgeous meat!