Fig, Walnut and Almond Biscotti

I’ve not had much biscotti, but I loved it every time I had the chance to have one. My most recent biscotti experience is at Hare & Grace, and I had it their creme brulee which was quite a different experience. But it did provide a crunch to the creamy, rich dessert, which by now you would know is a good thing for me! (: Plus I saw one of the foodies on tweeter make her own biscotti a while back, and have been wanting to make my own ever since!

I’m addicted to figs. When I went to Auckland in April, my aunt had a fig tree and I could just head down to the garden and pluck one or maybe 4 to have it when I was craving it. How awesome is that? hehe So of course, I made the Mr plant a fig tree in our garden hehe and hopefully we will get figs soon! *fingers crossed* So of course, when I was deciding on what I wanted in my biscotti, figs just came to my mind! Trust me, it was so difficult to resist popping one of those beautiful figs in my mouth, cause I needed every single one of them in the packet! haha But I’m so glad I did, cause the biscotti came out packed filled with figs, and it was super yums!

So I looked through my endless list of bookmarked recipes, and found a fig and walnut biscotti recipe by the super talented Brown Eyed Baker! And I knew her recipe would definitely be yummy cause she is Italian! Who would know how to make a better biscotti than an Italian herself? hehe I was really excited, and there wasn’t a better day to make it but Friday, especially when I’m off work early! hehe PERFECT!

Note : I really like this recipe because it doesn’t need butter, which means you can start making it as soon as you get home from work, without worrying if the butter is the right softness! hehe Also, you can switch the kind of dried fruit and nuts you want as well, so you can make it according to how you like it! A clear winner to me (:

Fig, Walnut & Almond Biscotti (adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker)

1 3/4 cups plain flour

3/4 cups dark brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp fleur de sel (you can replace this with coarse salt)

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla paste

1 tbs orange zest (I used a navel orange)

375g dried figs, cut into quarters

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup slivered almonds

Steps :

1) Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius. Line a baking sheet with Silpat or baking paper and set aside.

2) In a large bowl, mix the flour, dark brown sugar, baking powder, fluer de sel until well combined. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until they become thick and pale yellow. Then add the orange zest and vanilla paste and mix it well.

3) Fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture until combined. Then mix in the dried figs and nuts.

4) Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and divide it into two. With floured hands, shape it into logs, about 2 1/2 inches wide and 8-10 inches long. Place the logs onto the prepared Silpat/baking paper.

5) Place in the oven and bake until the dough is firm but gives slightly when pressed. This will take about 25-30 minutes. Transfer the logs onto a wire rack and let it cool for 10-15 minutes. Do not rush to cut the logs, especially when they are still warm, as they will crumble and break apart! Reduce the oven to 150 degrees celcius.

6) Once the logs are cooled, cut them into 1/2 inch slices. Place the slices on the Silpat and bake for 7 minutes on each side. Transfer the slices onto the wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container and ENJOY! (:

ps : I was lucky enough to have a bottle of this in my pantry, but I’m sure using normal sea salt would do the job as well! (: 

 

Lychee Cheesecake In A Jar

I’ve been wanting to do this for the longest time. Making a dessert in a jar that is. I’ve been really amused by the whole concept and also totally in love with how the desserts turn out. You don’t even need to decorate it much, just place a ribbon around the mouth of the jar and place it with a spoon, viola! (: You have a beautiful looking dessert on the table. Perfect for a dinner party or even gifts for friends!

I had a block of cream cheese sitting in my fridge for the longest time, and have been wanting to make something with it. I wanted to make some japanese cheesecake, but decided to make something new instead. So searching my pantry, I found a tin of lychees and decided to use them!

Lychees are definitely one of my favourite fruits. But it’s so difficult to find the fresh version here, even if they sell it, it’s so crazy expensive! haha So I always have a tin of lychees sitting in my pantry. (: I have to admit, i’ve not had cream cheese with lychees before, but I suppose, it should go well with a sweet fruit puree. Right? hehe So here goes nothing!

I did a bit of research and found a recipe that sounded easy and the product looked absolutely gorgeous, so I just had to give it a try. The only downside to this recipe? Is that I have to wait for the cheesecake to set, before being able to indulge in them! haha But I am a firm believer of delayed gratification! This is one dessert that is definitely worth the wait! (:

Oh yes! I did add a bit of lychee liquor, which I always have in my pantry, just to make it a little boozy! hehe But definitely not enough to taste it. hehe Almost no effect at all.

Lychee Cheesecake in a Jar (adapted from Honest Vanilla)

For the base :

100g digestive biscuits

40g short bread

60g butter, melted

For the lychee cheese layer :

500g cream cheese

300g thicken cream

240g lychees, drained and reserve syrup

100ml lychee syrup

1 tbs lychee liquor

50g sugar

3 tsp powdered gelatine

Steps : 

This recipe is enough for 6 jars and a 6-inch springform pan.

1) Break the digestive biscuits and the shortbread by sealing them in a ziplock bag and crushing them using a rolling pin. Make sure you get them quite finely.

2) Pour the crushed biscuits in a bowl, and pour the melted butter over them evenly. Combine both butter and  biscuits are well combined and press them evenly at the bottom of the jars and springform pan. Set and chill in the fridge while preparing the lychee cheese layer.

3) In a small pot, heat the lychee syrup till it just comes to a boil. Take it off the heat and add the gelatine. Stir until it dissolves completely. Set aside to cool.

4) Puree the lychees in a blender until there are less visible chunks. Add the lychee liquor and mix it well.

5) Whisk the cream cheese in a mixing bowl with the sugar until smooth, then add the lychee puree. In another bowl, whip the cream to a soft peak and gently fold it into the cream cheese and lychee mixture.

6) Once it’s well combined and smooth, add the gelatine mixture and fill a piping bag with the lychee cheese mixture. Slowly pipe it into the jars. Pour the rest of the mixture into the springform pan. Set to chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. (I recommend leaving it in the fridge overnight.) 

7) To serve, top it with a bit more buttered crumbs, and a lychee. I added half a strawberry for more crunch and texture! Also, pour 1 tsp of lychee syrup on top just before serving for extra sweetness!

ENJOY!

Note to self : Definitely add a little bit more next time! hehe Of course, you can leave it out if you want a kid-friendly version! hehe

Prawn Mac N Cheese

It’s Friday people! And to welcome the weekend, I decided to go all out and make an indulgent (and sinful) dish – Prawn Mac N Cheese! (: Ever since we had mac n cheese at the Sharing house a few weeks back (a post that will come soon, I promise!), I have been wanting to make some. Especially after seeing Neil Perry’s version of truffle mac n cheese. That was definitely a push factor!  So there was no better day to make it but on a Friday!

And what better way to enjoy a Friday night in with a comforting bowl of cheesy pasta, with a glass of wine and the plan of having a Batman movie marathon with the mr? Absolutely, nothing! (:

This was a really simple recipe and you definitely could start cooking and end up indulging on your couch in less than 1 hour! Sounds good? Here’s the ultimate winter warmer!

Prawn Mac N Cheese (an original recipe)

250g dried macaroni

60g butter

1 whole onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

320g prawns, diced into chunks

1 cup shredded gouda

1 cup shredded cheddar

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1/2 tbs dijon mustard

450 ml cream

100 ml milk

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup bread crumbs

salt and pepper, to season

Steps :

1) Cook the macaroni in a pot of boiling salted water for 7-8 mins, or until al dente.  Drain and refresh in cold water before draining again and set it to one side.

2) In a large pot, melt the butter then add the onion, carrots and garlic. Fry till they get fragrant and soft. Do keep an eye on the garlic and be careful not to burn them.

2) Add the cream and allow it to boil and reduce by 1/4. Add the mushrooms, dijon mustard and milk and boil it for another 10 minutes. Add the prawns and cook the mixture on a low simmer until liquid thickens.

3) Take the cream mixture off the heat, and slowly add the gouda and cheddar. Stir it gently, till the cheeses have all melted and combined with the cream. Put the pot back on a low heat, then add the macaroni and stir it till it’s well combined.

4) Season with salt and pepper, then add the grated parmesan. Place the macaroni and cheese in a baking tray, then top it with bread crumbs and more parmesan if you want. Under a hot grill, grill until the top is golden and crispy.

Serve and enjoy on a couch with your favourite movie! (:

So what is your ultimate comfort food? Do share! hehe

Won’t Be Crying Over This… Spilt Milk

Ever since we moved, we have been trying to look for a brunch/breakfast place that is nearer to our house. So going through my super long list, I realise there is one that is relatively nearby and has the cutest name : Spilt Milk !

Spilt Milk is a boutique cafe specialising in coffee that newly opened in May this year. It’s a super cosy place and when you walk through the doors, you are greeted by the friendliest people ever! While we were there, many people came in just to take away their coffees, even when it was pouring outside! So it definitely says alot of good things about their coffee aye? hehe *SLURPS*

Love all the wooden decors in the cafe with shelves of baked goods and sandwiches! Everything just looks so good!

When we were all comfortably seated, we ordered some hot drinks to warm our tummies up while deciding what we want to eat. The dishes were named after animals! So interesting and cute! I couldn’t really decide what I wanted to have. hehe

I was so happy that they had bonsoy and their chai is made from powder. Not those syrup things. hehe So I just had to order it! The mr had a long black that morning because he had a competition in the afternoon and was trying to make sure he would make his weight category. So he decided to skip the milk that morning. hehe He’s a funny one (:

We decided on three animals that morning :

Kong Seng ordered the Sheep – Baked free range eggs served in a pan with sundried tomatoes, spinach, fetta on sour dough and chilli jam. He was given the choice of runny yolks and of course he took it! hehe

I ordered the Zebra because I was craving for some avocado hehe it includes  two slices of olive sourdough smeared with avocado and ricotto with onion jam and baked bacon

The mr order the Donkey – Poached eggs om sourdough, bacon, spinach and spiced capsicum aioli. He requested for them to leave the bread out (trying to reduce the amount of carbs he takes for comp! haha) but they forgot about it and it came with bread. Half way through the meal, they came to apologise for their mistake but we were totally fine with it! hehe Kong Seng had the bread for the mr in the end. hehe so all good! Besides, it would look quite funny without the bread don’t you think? hehe much prettier with. hehe But it was really nice of them!

To our surprise and delight, a plate of yummy brownies were placed on our table and it was on the house! AWESOME! hehe and of course, these brownies had an animal name too : Squirrel ! hehe How cute! They were super fudgy, just the way I love my brownies! and every mouthful were full of walnuts. Yummos!

So with awesome coffee, great food, super cute names of dishes and the friendliest service, do head there the next time you are around Carnegie! (: We will definitely be back for more (the lunch menu is super tempting! hehe)

Happy midweek everyone! (: Just 3 more days till the weekend!

Spilt Milk on Urbanspoon

Josie Bones

This would be my second visit to Josie Bones but this time, we had the mr’s cousin join us so we could try more of the menu, so I was really excited. I have to admit, we wanted to have Huxtaburger that night, but silly me didn’t check their opening times and they were closed on Mondays. But it was like a blessing in disguise, cause we got to dine at Josie Bones again!

We were first introduced to Josie Bones by my mr’s client who gave raving reviews about the food and the vast number of different beer/alcohol they offer. This comes as no surprise, because it is opened by Chris Badenoch and Julia Jenkins, who were contestents of Masterchef Season 1 and Chris was known as the beer merchant. And the Mr purchased Chris’ cook book because he loved how he uses the whole animal when he cooks, like the whole pig, sheep or cow. Nothing goes to waste, which is awesome!

Josie Bones

Address : 98 Smith Street, Collingwood 3066

Telephone : 03 94171878

Absoutely love the outlook of the restaurant. It has a long bench top which customers can sit and enjoy the food and have a chat with the most friendly staff! Josie Bones is a tapas style restaurant that serves heaps of unusual but delicious food. It’s definitely not your usual dishes, but trust me they are awesome! There was alot of oohs and ahhs the moment the plates were placed on the table. Just couldn’t wait to dive in, but as usual, our cameras ate first. hehe

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the beverage menu. haha Yes. It’s that thick. They do bring in lots and lots of beers from all around the world, and most of which we’ve never seen or heard. The staff were all very knowledgeable about every single beer and they are more than willing to help if you get lost in the ocean of beer choices!

The mr told him what he usually likes (which is whiskey, of course) and the staff actually recommended a beer that tasted like whiskey and totally suited his taste buds! I, on the other hand, prefer something fruity. And the melon gibson, which was more on the sweet side and tones of watermelon, was highly recommended. It was delicious and not overly sweet! Kong Seng had the raspberry beer which was really yum as well!

We ordered two entrees to start our meals. One of which is the crackling of the day ($4). Every single piece of crackling was super crispy and its served with a side of seas salt which was so good! It went from the a plate full of crackling to an empty plate in less than 10 minutes. And yes, we ordered a second serve of it as well! haha Whoops!

Our second entree was one of the specials of the day : mini sliders with braised pork belly and kimchi in freshly baked brioche buns. These were the BOMB! SO good! I could just have that all night long to be honest! The brioche buns were freshly made and cotton soft! and the braised pork. oh what can I say? Melt-in-your mouth goodness! The kimchi added a crunchy texture to the slider and also cut through the richness. AMAZING!

Yes. It was really really good. Would love one now. hehe

hehe that’s how small it was. Small but mighty, I have to say. hehe Can you tell how much I really like it?

So then come our mains. We ordered three to start with and the staff recommended we order a side of greens to balance our meal out. hehe It totally slipped my mind to order some greens! hehe Oops. Totally focused on all the meat dishes! But can you blame me? hehe I got overly excited when I saw the menu.

Our first main was stuffed trotters with black pudding, with braised lentils and crispy pigs ear. As you already know, I love dishes with different textures and this just ticks all the boxes in my list! The soft and tender pig trotters that were stuffed with black pudding was tasty but not overpowering! I was a little apprehensive about the black pudding at first, cos it wasn’t something I usually enjoy. But this was really good. The deep friend pigs ear was so good! I saved that to the very last bit and had it all slowly, savouring every bite. *crunch*

This was my favourite dish of the night! We had it the first time we came as well. But had to have it again, cause it was so good! It’s rolled pigs head with sauce gribiche and crackling. Yes. More crackling! haha This is just one of the examples of not wasting any part of the animal! In fact, the meat from the pig’s head (for example pork cheeks) are the best bits! Super tender and super tasty. Melt-in-your-mouth kind of goodness. The super crunchy outer layer covers the most tender piece of meat (and fat). But I’m really glad we shared, cos it might get a bit too rich. But the sauce gribiche helps cut through the richness as it is a tad bit sour and tangy.

This zucchini salad with fiore di burrata, toasted almonds, grapefruit and saffron pickled shallots was recommended by the staff and I must say it was a perfect in between dish to be served as it was really refreshing and acted almost like a palette cleanser, preparing us for our final main dish. Fior di burrata is actually an italian cheese made of mozzarella and cream. The texture was exactly like a fresh mozzarella. So good!

The mr’s cousin have never had rabbit, so he requested for us to try this dish : Braised rabbit with chorizo and creme fraiche jus. The rabbit pieces were really tender and the chorizo added a mild spiciness which was good! and what’s better? The staff offered us a basket of bread to go with the gravy! DUNK!

Of course, we couldn’t leave without having sweets. Although we were all quite full, but like the mr says. There is always space for dessert! hehe When we looked at the dessert menu, our choice was made up almost immediately. haha

Pear tarte tartin with beer caramel and bourbon & raisin ice cream. The puff pastry was still crispy-crunchy and the pear was really tender, all these yumminess covered with an intense beer caramel which was sticky and gooey. This hot tartin was paired perfectly with a boozy bourbon and raisin icecream. It was so good! Although we did wait 30 minutes for it, but I think it’s well-worth the wait! hehe

So after all the rich and delicious food, we were of course super stuffed but we had happy bellies at the end of the night! hehe I have to say that every single dish was really well balanced in terms of flavour and textures. Almost each dish had a a mix of tenderness and crunch! Plus you pair them with beers of your choice! Definitely really happy we went there that night.

So go ahead,  hold on to those hooves and give them a push! I know you would want to! (:

Josie Bones on Urbanspoon

Seafood Paella

I really wanna go to Europe. It has been a ultimate dream to head there for a holiday with the mr. We are in the midst of planning and saving. But not sure when that dream would officially take off! Of course there are a few must go places besides the obviouse France and Italy. But there are others that I would love to visit too! One of which, is Spain. Shopping in Madrid and of course trying the food the country has to offer!

But since it’s going to be at least a while before we get there, I thought I’d bring one of the famous dish you can find in Spain : Paella.

I remember walking at South Melbourne market one of the Saturdays, and seeing huge paella pans cooking these yummy rice with stock bubbling away. Every grain of rice would absorb the delicious and flavourful stock, plump up and become this amazing dish with lots of ingredients, which reminds me of claypot rice. haha I’m not sure what the traditional ones have, but because it was Friday, I used a variety of seafood when I cooked mine! (: Plus, I crank the heat up the last 5-10 mins when cooking to get a crispy base! hehe Just how the mr likes it!

I have to say, I was quite surprised at how easy it was to cook it. You don’t have to stand next to the pan and keep stirring like a risotto. Just let the rice do it’s own magic, and just keep an eye on it every 10-15 minutes as it is cooking. Place the seafood and before you know it, dinner will be served! So give it a shot, just simply delicious! hehe (:

Seafood Paella (adapted from Carlos Lopez on SBS Food, serves 2-3)

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 large red chilli, finely chopped

1 tomato, chopped

2 tbs olive oil

1/4  red capsicum, roasted and thinly sliced lengthwise

1/4 green capsicum, roasted and thinly sliced lengthwise

 375ml fish stock

160g arborio rice

pinch of saffron

1 tsp hot paprika

1 calamari (about 200g), diced

8 king prawns

12 mussels

200g basa fillet, sliced

12 pippies/clams

salt and pepper, to season

3 tbs chopped parsley

Steps :

1) In a non-stick shallow frying pan (I used the IKEA 365+ series) / paella pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and fry the garlic, onion, chilli until soft and fragrant. Do be careful not to burn it, as it will turn bitter.

2) Add the rice and give it a stir to make sure each grain of rice is well coated with the oil.

3) Add the chopped squid and fry for 2-3 minutes and stir in the fish stock, saffron, salt, pepper and paprika. Allow the stock to come to a boil and the rice will start absorbing the stock.

4) Keeping the heat at medium, add the fish and prawns and allow it to cook for 10 minutes. At this point, the stock would have reduced and the rice would have swelled and you could see it resurfacing. Add the mussels, pippies, and chopped tomatoes and cook until all the shells are open.

5) Turn the heat to high for the last 10 minutes to get the crispy base that would add a really nice texture to the dish. (Optional but highly recommended). Place the slices of roasted capsicum and and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Note : Try to resist from stirring the dish while it’s cooking or else it won’t have the nice crust! (:

ENJOY!

Pho Hung Vuong Saigon Springvale

Winter just means one thing. Soup. and lots of it, just to keep out tummies warm and fuzzy! One thing we do love is a good pho. Before we moved, we used to always head to Footscray to have a nice big bowl (well small for me) of pho because it’s just around the corner. Now, thankfully Springvale is a 10 minutes drive away! Phew!

 I have to admit, we haven’t had the chance to explore the different shops in Springvale. Not as much as I would like to! You know sometimes when you’re nearer to a particular suburb, you tend to not explore it as much? Sadly, we kinda took the distance for granted. It is currently just a place I go to do my grocery shopping. We had to extend out (food) knowledge and we decided to head there last weekend with a mission : to find a place that sells pho as good as the one back at Footscray (Hung Vuong Saigon)! To my surprise, I actually found a Pho Hung Vuong Saigon here at Springvale as well! So of course we decided to give it a go.

Pho Hung Vuong Saigon Springvale

Address : Shop 2/15 Balmoral Avenue, Springvale Vic 3171

Telephone : 03 95585147

It was really packed though it was about 3pm in the afternoon. But the wait staff were really friendly and asked us politely to wait for just a few minutes before we could get a table. So we were more than willing to wait. In less than 10 minutes, our tables were ready for us! Talk about quick!

We sat down, and were asked almost immediately for our orders! I was a little shocked, but I think cause they have been around for 20 years, they reckon we have been there before and would know what we wanted! They had menus on their walls, but were either in mandarin or in vietnamese so we had no clue what they had! haha I shyly asked the wait staff if they had an english menu and he quickly got us some. Thank goodness! Their menu is slightly different from the one at Footscray. They specialise with pho. There wasn’t anything else on the menu. Short and sweet, it was. So we made our decisions and waited for our bowl of hot deliciousness to arrive.

I had the beef and beef brisket pho, as I always do. Love the thin and raw slices of beef that would just cook instantly when pushed into the hot soup! The first thing I always do is to take a spoonful of soup and slurp it! haha Sorry I know it sounds rude, but the soup is a crucial component of a good pho! It. was. incredible! The soup was clear and super tasty! Absolutely made my cold afternoon! I just wanted more after each mouthful. Plus, they were super generous with the beef and brisket! Both of which were so tender! Was a clear winner to me. I’ve found my new favourite place for pho! HAPPY!

The mr ordered the chicken special which had a whole load of chicken breast fillets, chicken sausage, chicken blood, giblets and a  pasteurized egg yolk. Now, that a lot of ingredients! And how clear is that bowl of soup? I had a taste of his soup and it was really tasty as well though it more delicate and sweet when compared to the beef one. The mr did enjoy it quite a bit! We did wish that they had the fried spring rolls though! Wanted some crunch! hehe

We left the place super stuffed and satisfied! Definitely heading back there, knowing that my craving for pho will be satisfied for sure! (: Where have you had the best pho? Do share! Have a good week ahead everyone!

Pho Hung Vuong on Urbanspoon