Highpoint : A New Fresh Food Market In Town!

Yes, dear readers. Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you! There is a new fresh food market in town! It’s at Highpoint that is located at the western suburbs of Melbourne, in Marinyrnong to be exact! I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to attend their launch that was on the 18th of October. But unfortunately, due to work commitments, I wasn’t able to attend it. Sad. But Jessica (from Mango) offered to send me a hamper and in return, I told her that I would visit Highpoint on a weekend and grab some fresh food to whip something up and share it on my blog! (:

Highpoint

Address : 100/200 Rosamond Road, Maribyrnong VIC 3032

The fresh food market is actually the completed first stage of development of the shopping mall and there is much more to come! You could practically get everything there as it includes multiple specialty fresh food retailers, Woolworths and much more! I was really impressed the moment I stepped into the new extension. It’s like a one-stop-shop! The first thing that greets you is this bright and exciting Fruit and Vegetable Market that sells heaps of fresh ingredients! They arrange their fruit and vegetables according to categories; you’ll find all sorts of tomatoes in an area, potatoes in another, and citrus in a separate zone! Really easy to find what you want!

The colours just pop out don’t they? I felt happy just walking down every aisle! I was intrigued by the different varieties of each fruit and veg that was available for us to purchase! Almost like a kid in a candy store I tell you. haha

As I was walking, I was trying to think of what I could create for dinner that night! Fortunately, I had the mr with me, so we were throwing ideas back and forth to each other! Needless to say, he has always been a great inspiration to me! (: We decided to do something a little different – an asian inspired pasta dish! So off I went picking what I could use for the night (and more! haha I couldn’t really help myself).

We were so excited to see so many asian vegetables there! They even had some that we could hardly find at the usual supermarkets! Like the Jerusalem artichokes and purple asparagus! Yes, purple! Not the usual green ones!

They also had an area for fresh asian greens. Everything was placed so neatly and labelled well too, so you would be well informed of the price and type of veg/fruit you’re looking at. I’m always in awe of the people who arrange their produce so neatly and treating everything with pride. I remember heading to Victoria Market for the first time 8 years ago, and couldn’t stop going “Wah wah wah!” when I saw how they displayed their meats! So hats off to all the staff who are doing a fantastic job.

Walking further into the new extension, you are greeted by Yes It’s Fresh Deli, Baker’s Delight on the right, and on the left, Fish Pier. Fish Pier offered a range of fresh and frozen seafood which all looked really good! My eyes was just going back and forth and thinking what I should get!

The first thing I was drawn to was the supreme marinara mix! I think cause it was really colourful. I do love my colours (and textures) in my food! So wasn’t surprising that I was focused on that. hehe So it was settled, I had to get my hands on some of those marinara! It includes both big and small prawns, pieces of salmon, ling fillets , scallops, mussels and calamari! Noms!

What about meat you say? Next to Fish Pier is the Melbourne Fresh Meats that sells a whole range of meats and poultry. You would be spoiled for choice. But because I did marketing recently, and had beef in my freezer. I was looking at the chicken and pork sections.

There was also an asian supermarket where you can get all your sauces, can food, snacks and dried food! See, I wasn’t lying when I said it’s a one-stop-destination to get your groceries was I?

We definitely left with almost 8 bags full of things! I was very very fortunate to receive a $50 gift voucher to spend at the Fresh Food Market and $25 from the Melbourne Fresh Meats courtesy of Highpoint & Mango! So thank you so so much! It’s my first ever sponsorship for Food Made With Love! Very exciting! hehe So here’s a sneak peak of what I got and I am so going back cause I still have credits left! hehe

So thank you again to the fresh food retailers at Highpoint and Mango for your generosity! Stay tuned for the next post as I will sharing with you what I came up with, as promised! (: So what are you waiting for? Head down to Highpoint asap!

Oven-fried Chicken

Fried chicken. How could you not like fried chicken? I would happily chow down two without much thought! haha But what could be better than fried chicken? Oven-fried chicken of course! Anything to make it feel a little less sinful than the oil-fried version. Just so you could enjoy it guilt-free. Definitely a win-win, if you ask me! (:

I chanced upon this recipe on Everyday Maven, and was coincidentally craving for something fried. It’s really quick and easy as well! Even though it’s baked, the chicken is so crunchy with every bite! The mr and I are addicted to it! We had it twice in a week. Definitely gonna make this for my family at the end of the year.

The chicken pieces were coated with crushed melba toast. I have to admit, I’ve heard of melba toast a number of times, but never really tried it or used it to cook. These were mini toasts that were baked and they were really amazing! Unlike normal bread crumbs, these ensures that the coating remains crunchy and not get soggy even after being baked. Would definitely not hesitate to use melba toast in the future! hehe

And what goes well with fried chicken? A side of kipfler and broccolini salad of course! Of course if you want to keep to the healthy-theme, you could always have it with a side of salad. Your tummies will still be satisfied. (: So I urge you to give this a try, you will never need to feel bad about have fried chicken ever again! hehe

Oven-fried Chicken (adapted from Everyday Maven)

800g chicken pieces (skin removed)

1 box of Melba toast (5-ounce/142g), crushed

1/2 tsp garlic salt

3/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

3/4 tsp hot paprika

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 cup kewpie mayonnaise

1 tbs Dijon mustard

Steps :

1) Place the melba toasts in a zip lock bag. Using a rolling pin, crush them till they are relatively fine, leaving some little pebbles for texture and maximum crunchiness. You could also place them in a food processor, but be careful not too completely pulverize them.

2) Add the garlic salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika and dried oregano into the zip lock bag and give it a good shake. Pour the seasoned crumbs into a plate.

3) In a separate bowl, mix the kewpie with the dijon mustard and mix till well combined.

4) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius. Coat each piece of chicken with the mayo mixture (just enough to lightly coat) and roll it in the melba toast crumbs. Make sure the chicken pieces are covered well and evenly.

5) Place the chicken pieces on a cooking rack and place in the oven to bake for 40 minutes.

Enjoy it with a side of your choice! (: Don’t worry, I didn’t only have one piece. hehe I couldn’t resist another (or two)! Have a great weekend everyone!

Remember to always cook and bake with love!

Jelly Hearts

Ever since I started being more active in the blogging world, I’ve been really blessed with meeting new friends! Recently, I was invited to attend Peach-water’s birthday dinner but cause I was down with really bad hayfever, I told her that we’ll rearrange dinner and I would make her something special. (: I couldn’t think of anything better but some strawberry jelly hearts!

If you feel that these pretty cakes look familiar, I did make them ages ago and did a post on it. But I went back to look at it and the photos were so small! So here I am, re-doing the post and sharing the recipe again. It’s really interesting to see the difference a few years on! (:

I have to say, these are not difficult to make, just time consuming as you have to make sure each layer is set properly before starting on the next! The most important layer is the jelly layer, as you have to allow the jelly mixture to cool before pouring onto the cream cheese layer, to get a clear jelly layer! (: Patience, is the key when making this!

I used to only use vanilla essence when making the cream cheese filling, but I decided to use vanilla bean paste this time round. There is just something magical when you see the little black dots! And the flavour it gives the cream cheese is not comparable to just using the essence. If you do have vanilla beans, please give it a try!

These little rectangular cheesecakes with a heart in the middle make beautiful gifts for your loved ones and your friends. So the next time you are thinking of what to get for them, why not give these a try? Nothing can compared to things made with love!

Jelly Hearts 

Base : 

320g digestive biscuits

160g melted unsalted butter

Cheese Filling :

250g cream cheese

2 1/4 tsp gelatine powder

70g caster sugar

150ml hot water

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

8 medium sized strawberries

Jelly Topping : 

2 packets of strawberry flavoured jello (170g)

1 1/2 cups hot water

1 1/2 cups room temp water

Steps :

1) For the base : Place the biscuits in a ziplock bag, and crush them till they are fine, making sure there are no big chunks. Pour them into a large bowl, and mix in the melted butter.

2) Pour them into the base of a 9×9 square baking tray. Press onto the base and make sure it’s really compressed and make it as flat as you can. Prick the base with a fork and chill for at least 15 minutes.

3) For the cheese filling : Cut the strawberries into half. Using a small heart shape cutter, cut hearts out of the strawberry halves and place them on a plate lined with paper towel.

4) Place gelatine and sugar in a bowl. Pour the boiling water over and stir until the gelatine has dissolved.

5) In a mixing bowl, cream the cream cheese and vanilla bean paste together and slowly add the gelatine syrup gradually until smooth. Pour it over  the base. Place it in the fridge for 10 minutes then place the strawberry hearts, partially submerged in the cheese filling. Place it back into the fridge and refrigerate for 2 hours.

6) For the jelly topping : Dissolve the jello in hot water and stir well. Add the room temperature water and allow it to cool completely before pouring over the cheese filling. (Use a ladle and slowly pour the mixture over the strawberries instead of the cheese to keep the jello clear!)

7) Chill it in the fridge for another 2 hours or overnight for the best results.

Enjoy! (: And Happy Hatchday once again my dearest friend!

*Note : When slicing, make sure you clean the knife after every cut. It might seem difficult to get them out without it being messy, but start with the corner and use a spetula to help you. Once you have the first piece out, the rest would be a breeze! 

Remember to always cook and bake with love!

A Sweet Affair

Remember my last visit at Mr Hive’s Kitchne & Bar? Yes. I went back for more. This time I brought my mr and his family for a very special occasion: My in-law’s 29th wedding anniversary! I was so glad I decided to bring them there cause we were pampered from the very moment we were shown to our tables!

As I did let Mr Hive know, when I was booking the table, that we were celebrating a wedding anniversary, we were given a glass of champagne each to start the dinner off! I knew instantly that it was going to be a spectacular night! I couldn’t stop smiling and my in-laws were definitely really happy! (:

Mr Hive’s Kitchen & Bar

Address : 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank Vic 

Phone : 03 9292 8300

Though the service was exemplary for the whole night, the highlight of the evening was definitely when we adjourned to the dessert bar to fix our sweet tooth! I don’t usually have second posts for food reviews, but our experience that night is definitely worthy of my double post! Please do not get me wrong, the food was delicious, but we pretty much had the same dishes as my first visit, so I thought I would just focus on the desserts. Besides, who doesn’t like desserts? hehe Miss D would be with me on this! haha

We were lucky to dine at Mr Hive’s on a week night, so it was quite quiet and there was an empty dessert bar waiting for us! Having never seen a pastry chef plate desserts before, it was a great first experience for the mr and his family as well!

The moment we sat down, we were greeted by the friendly pastry chef – Chef Mario! We looked through the menu and ordered instantly. Then he started plating desserts. It was like watching a cook show right infront of our eyes! Although it was my second time, I still enjoyed it. You could tell he took pride in every single dessert he was plating.

He started plating individual portions of the yoghurt mousse with rhubarb compote and szechuan ice cream. We thought it was for another table, as we didn’t order actually this. Little did we know, it was a complimentary dessert for us as a gift for my in-law’s wedding anniversary again! Are they amazing or what? Not one but two gifts! The flavours just complimented each other. There was the lightness of the mousse with the slight hint of spiciness from the ice cream and crunch of the white chocolate crumble. NOMS!

Then came the apple tart tatin which had another surprise for my in-laws. They not only wrote happy anniversary on the board, but   also came with candles! That really made all of us smile! The tart tatin was perfect. The apples were so well caramelised and the tart was crispy and buttery. It was made to order, so it was still piping hot when served! Together with brandy cream and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Match-made in heaven!

Chef Mario portioned it and even gave each of us a scoop of ice cream to go with our slice! It was so good, I could continue eating it the whole night! There’s just something about a dessert that had both cold and hot elements. Makes my taste buds tingle (:

Of course, I couldn’t not order the Mr Hive’s chocolate bar when I dine at Mr Hive’s. It’s rich and decadent and the base is crunchy! If you know me, you know I love desserts with different textures. This definitely tick all the boxes! hehe And you know what’s even better?

This.

Chef Mario took the plate before I could, and split it into 5 portions and re-platted them individually with a beautifully quenelled peanut ice cream! In fact, the one that was served with the whole chocolate bar melted slightly, and he threw that away and quenelled 5 more for us! That’s how much pride he takes in his desserts! We were so impressed! hehe

The last dessert we ordered was of course the ricotta cheesecake because my mr’s dad loves cheesecake! Plus it was one of the prettiest desserts I’ve ever seen!

Of course, Chef Mario presented the dessert and then took it and replated it into individual portions again! What’s more amazing is that there were only 4 pieces of cheesecake but he just added another cause there were 5 of us!

How pretty is the individual portions? Every single plate looked like that. How could you not be touched? I couldn’t stop saying “wow!” both verbally and in my head. haha

And just you think there can’t be more. He picks up 5 glass bottles and starts preparing the grand finale! He started squeezing some chocolate milk with milo powder and tops the glass bottles with a salted caramel truffle! Trust me. That’s like the best truffle you will ever have. You bite into it and there’s an explosion of salted caramel in your mouth. LOVE.

I absolutely adore the straws they give to slurp the delicious, thick chocolate milk. I really need to go get some from Wheel & Barrow! hehe (:

So I can definitely say it was a night we will definitely remember! And we left Mr Hive’s with happy bellies!

Happy Wedding Anniversary to my dearest in-laws! It was great to celebrate this special day with the whole family! (: Our compliments to the chef and staff of Mr Hive’s! Thank you so much for making this day even more special than it already is!

Mr. Hive Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Banana-rama

There is just something magical about banana bread. By now, you would know that I am obsessed with banana anything. So far, I’ve made them in a few forms – muffins & cakes. So now it’s time to add on to the list! Recently, Miss D posted her 100th post that had 2 banana bread recipes. I was lucky enough to taste test one of them and got hooked to it ever since!

So when I had time on a Saturday morning and some very ripe bananas lying around in the fruit basket, I decided to get my bum out of the sofa and get the baking going. I was so glad I did! The house was filled with the yummy smell of baked banana bread and it’s the best smell in the world! Can’t have enough of it!

Though I was having hayfever, it just felt good being able to be in the kitchen and think about nothing but bake! The kitchen is definitely my remedy. hehe The Mr absolutely loved it! Cause I gave 3/4 of the first one to the weightlifters, the mr only had a small piece to himself. He asked me to make another for him. So I made it twice over the weekend. It was really moist and fluffy. Perfect with a cup of coffee or tea (: Will definitely perk me up in the afternoons!

Walnut, Chocolate and Maple Banana Bread (Adapted from Never Too Sweet For Me & Taste)

125g unsalted butter, room temperature

115g caster sugar

2 tbs maple syrup

2 eggs, room temperature

3 large bananas (about 1 cup), mashed

70g chopped walnuts

50g dark chocolate chips

3/4 cup plain flour

3/4 cup self-raising flour

1/2 tsp bi-carbonate of soda

Steps :

1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Grease the loaf pan well with butter.

2) In an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and maple syrup until light and fluffy. (Don’t rush this step to ensure a smooth batter)

3) Add eggs, one at a time until just combined. Then add the mashed bananas and slowly add the flours and bicarbonate of soda. Mix until just combined, be careful not to over mix it or it will not be fluffy.

4) Spoon mixture into the buttered loaf pan and smooth the top. Place in oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the toothpick comes out clean after being inserted. Allow it to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning it out on a cooling rack.

Serve warm and enjoy with a hot cuppa and if you want to be more indulgent, drizzle it with more maple syrup and with a small piece of butter (:

PS : For step to step pictures, head over to Miss D’s post! Thanks dearie for sharing the recipe! 

Remember to always cook and bake with love! 

Wonderbao

Melbourne. There is a new obsession in town. Buns, hot steaming buns (bao/包) to be exact. I am totally sucked into the fad and loving it! (: I think it’s one thing I love since young. I’m like my dad. We both love baos and till this day when we go for yum cha, char siew baos and salted custard buns would definitely be on the table! Even on Sundays when we do go out, we would come back with his favourite chicken baos. NOMS! Just thinking about it is making me crave for some now!

Of course, since I’ve had baos since I was little I have to admit, my expectations of a good bao is quite high. The dough has to be soft but not too thick and there must be enough filling. I went to meet the mr for lunch in the city in my last week of break so we decided to go give Wonderbao a try! How cute is the name? Love it!

Wonderbao

Address : Shop 4/19-37 A’Beckett St. Melbourne, VIC 3000

Phone : (03) 9654 7887

Wonderbao is hidden in a lane under a block of apartments in the city and is a small cosy little shop. I love how they steam the baos in huge steamers and that’s the first thing that greets you when you step into the shop. Because the menu was quite small, the mr and I decided to order one of each bao (besides the sweet ones) to try! It totally looked like we haven’t eaten for days! haha But the staff were really nice, and told us that they would serve half of what we ordered and serve us the other half so that they won’t turn cold! Perfect! (:

I don’t really know what gua bao is. But the buns remind me of those used in the kong ba bao! It’s like a bao made into a U-shape to hold the ingredients! The two gua baos are my favourites of the day! I have a feeling it’s because the filling is fatty pork! (: The first one we had was braised pork belly accompanied by pickled mustard, coriander and crushed peanuts. The pork belly was perfectly cooked and melts in your mouth! The mr and I was beaming after each bite. haha Fatty pork really do make us happy!

The other gua bao was stuffed with roasted pork belly, cucumber, pickled carrots, daikon and hoisin sauce. In our minds, we were expecting crispy crackling with this! So we were a little disappointed when it didn’t. Cause who doesn’t love crackling, right? But the combination was really quite yummy so all was good! (: We still gobbled it down within minutes!

There were 2 big baos offered in the menu. A big pork bun as well as a big chicken bun. They both had a slice of egg and shiitake mushroom in them. The meat was juicy and really tasty! The bao skin is soft and fluffy and besides the top being a little too thick, there was a good proportion of meat to bun!

The chicken bao had a bit more dough and not as much filling. But the chicken was still juicy and yums!

Another of my fav of the day was the choi bao (vegetable bun). It reminded me of the cabbage kueh my mum always buy for me when I’m home. It had shiitake mushrooms, tofu and veggies! Really yums (:

The char siew bao was quite disappointing though I was really hoping it would be better! There was only a thin layer of char siew and sadly the colouring of the char siew was seeping into the bao skin. Though I have to say, the char siew itself was yummy! Would love to have more.

I love chinese sausage. So when I saw this on the menu, I couldn’t wait to try it! Although it was just a sausage wrapped in some dough, I have to say sometimes, simple is best! The mr and I had it and we think the taiwan sausage is handmade cause it’s not the usual size! It was just the right amount of sweetness, and not as much fatty bits! Was really delicious! I could easily have it on it’s own! hehe

After we tried all the baos, we were tempted by the homemade soy milk and bought a cup of cold soy milk each! *slurps!* Really refreshing especially since it was a really hot day that afternoon. I will definitely return for more gua baos and the choi bao! But just note that they are open for breakfast and lunch (Mondays to Fridays) and only lunch on Saturdays!

So, have you been pulled in to the bao trend yet? (:

Wonderbao on Urbanspoon

Kong Ba (Twice-Cooked Pork Belly)

I have a weakness. Pork belly is my weakness. There’s just something about tender meat that melt-in-your-mouth the moment it touches your tongue. I never really use to like eating the fatty bits of the pork belly. I remember when I did marketing, I used to look for the piece that had less fat and more meat. But now, I look for equal proportions haha. The mr has changed me for the better. I didn’t know what I have been missing! And now when we are back in Singapore, we would meet Stephie for a meal of fatty pork! Can’t wait till the end of the year! (:

After the mr’s family went back, we had heaps of food left in the freezer and I needed to clear it or I won’t be able to buy other things! I opened the freezer and saw a container of sliced pork belly. Immediately, I knew what I wanted to cook – kong ba (twice-cooked pork belly). Nothing beats slow braised pork belly that is caramelised till the meat is soft and easily breaks apart. YUMS!

Traditionally, you would eat it with a soft steamed bun. But I was too lazy to head out to Springvale to get it and found some man tou in the fridge so I steamed that instead. Though it’s not as soft as the traditional buns, they worked well too! Plus, to off-set the unhealthy fatty bits, we had it with lettuce! This is the epitome of a balanced diet haha (:

Do note that usually, you would use a whole slab of pork belly and slice it up after, but mine was already sliced up. To me, there wasn’t much difference, in fact I think it works better and you don’t have to risk burning your fingers to slice them up later. But either way, you’ll have yummies in your tummies!

Kong Ba (adapted from  To Food With Love)

1kg pork belly (either whole or sliced)

1/2 tsp thick caramel black soy + 4 tbs extra

2 shallots, thinly sliced

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 tsp five-spice powder

2 tbs light soy

1 tbs honey

2 tbs sugar

1/2 star anise

1 tsp sesame oil

2 cups water

bunch of coriander, roughly chopped and separate into 2 portions

ground white pepper

Vegetable oil, for deep frying

Steps :

1) Boil a large pot of water and boil the pork belly for 15-20 minutes. Remove and rinse the pork under cold water before patting them dry. Allow it to cool slightly and rub the skin with 1/2 tbs of thick caramel dark soy.

2) In a frying pan, heat enough vegetable oil on medium heat. Be careful not to heat it too high. Carefully lower the pork belly into the oil and fry till the skin is crisp (about 5 minutes). Do be very careful as there will be a very big splatter, use a splatter screen to avoid being burnt. Take the pork belly out carefully and drain off the excess oil using paper towel. (If you use a whole slab of pork belly, slice the pork belly to 1/2 inches thick after it has cooled down.)

3) In a large metal bowl, add the rest of the caramel thick dark soy, light soy, honey, sugar, star anise, five-spice powder, garlic, shallots and sesame oil and mix till well combined. Add the fried pork belly and marinade for at least 30 minutes.

4) In a medium sized pot, add 1 tbs vegetable oil and fry the pork belly until they are seared well. Add the rest of the marinade and top it with 2 cups of water. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Add half of the coriander (including the stems) and continue to simmer for 1/2 hour. Check occasionally and turn the pork to make sure it is evenly covered in the sauce. The pork should be tender and the liquid should be reduced to a thicker consistency. Season with ground white pepper. Garnish with the rest of the coriander before serving with hot steamed buns and lettuce!

Enjoy! (:

Remember to always cook with love!