Daylesford Adventures

This being our first time at Daylesford, we definitely had to explore and do some touristy things! But before we set off for our adventure, we had the most amazing breakfast at Shizuka Ryokan.

Our package included breakfast every morning and we could choose between the japanese breakfast set or the usual eggs, toasts and bacon. We decided to try the japanese breakfast and boy were we glad we did! It looked more like lunch/dinner to be honest. But it was absolutely delicious and healthy! Definitely a win-win in our books. (:

After our very satisfying breakfast, we set off on our roadtrip! Our first stop was actually the Information Centre in Daylesford to grab all the brochures and maps! Then we sat down and started planning our route. The first place we decided to visit was the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens and Lookout Tower.

There was a driving path for cars to actually drive around the beautiful greenery. On each side of the road were rows of trees which kind of reminded me of my dream drive way. hehe And yes, I did remind the hubs about it. hehe But actually, to think about it. I do have a long driveway now. Just that it’s shared with my neighbour. But baby step, yes? hehe

Sitting on top of the hill was the Wombat Hill House cafe, garden and store. Unfortunately, we were still stuffed from our brekkie so we didn’t get to dine there. Definitely will be on our to-go list the next time we make our trip up! hehe Do note that they are closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays!

Our next stop was the Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm. Although it wasn’t the right time to see the blooming lavender flowers, it was still worth our visit there especially since it coincided with the Swiss & Italian Festival! In fact it was the La Primavera, which was the celebration of Spring! They had BBQs and stalls offering a range of delicious food! When we got there, it was so packed and there was just people sitting on their picnic mates, enjoying the sun, food and company!

The Mr and I spotted these beautiful willow trees and the first thing he said to me was, they look like my hair when I was younger! hehe How funny is he? So we decided to snap a shot with it! Please excuse my tired eyes! The weather was absolutely glorious!

It was a pity that it wasn’t the best time to visit the farm. But I could just imagine how beautiful it will be when they are all blooming! It would be a sea of purple, just thinking about it makes me smile! Not forgetting how amazing the whole place would smell!

There was a house on display that showed us a typical house of an italian family. It was really interesting! You could totally tell that the kitchen was the place that brings people together! Definitely my kind of house. hehe

As we walked out of the house, we bumped into a couple of boys doing the mime!

I was told by a few people to try their delicious lavender ice cream and of course I couldn’t leave the place without giving it a try! It was perfect since it was rather warm that afternoon. hehe It seems like everyone was craving for some ice cream cause of the weather.

We order a lavender ice cream waffle cone and a cup of lavender lemonade. The lavender ice cream was really smooth and had a very subtle lavender flavour which we really enjoyed. But the lavender lemonade was nothing special, it tasted like sparkling water with not much of a lavender flavour. Though it did help quench our thirst! I would definitely recommend heading up to the Lavandula Farm especially during their festivals! The next one scheduled is the Lavender Harvest on the 6th of January, so don’t miss it! (:

After spending some time at the Lavandular Swiss Italian Farm, we made our way to Trentham for lunch and to see the beautiful waterfall. On our way there, I just couldn’t not snap a shot of the trees that had blackened trunks, which kinda reminded me of when there was the forest fires a few years back at the Grampians, and the tree trunks look the same. I wonder what the story behind these trees were. Definitely a time for reflection. (:

Our first stop was to feel our tummies! Of course, when you go to Trentham, the place you have to visit is Red Beard Historic Bakery! Sourdough bread! That’s all I could think of, but I was wrong. It was much more than just fresh delicious bread. The cafe serves breakfast, lunch and cakes for tea too! Hidden at the back of a small lane, this was definitely a gem we found!

The first thing that greets you when you enter the cafe are two shelves filled with freshly baked sourdough bread that are all baked in their 140 year old scotch oven! All individually and neatly packed and presented on the shelf. They had a whole range : rye, multigrain, sesame seed crusted, fruit loaf and the special of the day was walnut! I wish I could just buy all of them and try every single loaf! All their flours were stone ground and they even had a wheat free loaf that included a mixture of light and dark rye flour. So there is a loaf for everyone!

They sold jams and other condiments too! Just love the rawness of the cafe and thankfully we found seats as it was the peak lunch time! Lucky us! (:

As the Mr had been driving the whole day, he was craving for some hot coffee – latte was his choice that afternoon. I decided to stick to water to hydrate cause of the hot weather having. Not that I would complain! I would prefer hot to cold weather any day!

We had one of the specials that were available that afternoon : frittata with red onions, chorizo and potatoes. It was SO GOOD. It was really light and definitely the fluffiest frittata I’ve had! We both loved it. Each meal came with a side of mixed greens with a mustard vinaigrette. Refreshing with a little spicy kick to it, YUM!

The other thing we had was a chicken and leek pie which was absolutely delicious! The creamy chicken and leek mixture was enveloped in their own freshly made puff pastry which was buttery, crispy and flaky. Every mouthful was a delight! I wanted more after we finished it. hehe The portions were not huge, but we were leaving our tummies for more yummies later in the day, so it was a serving size.

What I love about this place is that they use seasonal produce so their menu would change quite often. Plus, they are doing their part to protect the environment, what could you not love about that? (:

After filling our tummies, we decided to head to Trentham Falls for a short walk. I don’t know about you, but there is just something magical about waterfalls. They make me happy and at that moment, when you’re infront of the falls, nothing else mattered. Just me, the mr and the waters. One day, just one day, I would definitely visit the Niagara falls. I think I would be in awe! *wanderlust*

Calling all Chocoholics! This is one place you don’t wanna miss! Just 7kms away from Daylesford sits a place that would make alot of people happy : The Chocolate Mill. The first person I thought of was of course Miss D. I knew this would be a place she would not miss if she comes to Daylesford. hehe I was really excited about this place! hehe

There were free demos everyday at 11am and 2pm. We were lucky to reach there just in time! We saw how their chocolates were perfectly made each time and it was a really patient process. Would definitely love to give it a try at home. haha We shall see, too many things I would love to try. The cool thing about this place is that we were standing in a building made out of straw bale! 900 straw bales to be exact! Isn’t that amazing? You know what is more amazing?

This.

and this.

and a close up of those perfectly shiny handmade belgian chocolates! YUM! My eyes were drawn instantly to the hazelnut praline, so I of course had to buy a couple for our drive back to Daylesford after. hehe

Love their packaging! I am definitely a proud chocoholic! hehe

We then adjourned to the chocolate cafe for a cup of highly recommended hot chocolate! I was really looking forward to this cup of hot chocolate, cause it was said to be one of the best ones in Melbourne!

I opted for the dark hot chocolate which was so smooth and thick. DELISH! There was a thick layer of melted chocolate at the bottom served with steaming hot milk. We had to stir it well to make sure we weren’t left with a heap of chocolate at the bottom, although that wouldn’t be a bad thing either! hehe

The Mr chose the chilli hot chocolate which had the same smooth and thick consistency but the amazing this was that the more you stir, the spicier it gets! Although it wasn’t the kind of spicy that takes over your taste buds. It was just enough to leave your throat warm and tingly. hehe We definitely left the place with smiles on our faces and bellies very very happy! (:

Not sure if you realise that the mr has loads of Threadless t-shirts which are really cute! hehe He decided to pose the same way as Mr T is on his t-shirt. hehe Love his spontaneity! (:

So what happens when you crave for more hot chocolate after you leave this chocolate filled place? You could always buy a packet of their hot chocolate and all you need to do is add hot milk and viola! (: Cravings satisfied! We bought a couple for the mr’s sister, as she loves her hot chocolate! hehe You have three options : white, milk and dark!

Definitely a whole day of beautiful scenery and yummy food! I don’t think a roadtrip could get any better! Have a great weekend everyone! There will be one more post to come about the last few things we did in Daylesford, so do stay tuned! But for now, TGIF, be kind to one another and remember to always cook and bake with love! (:

Beef Onion and Guinness Pies

Have you been watching Masterchef Australia? Cause I have! I’ve been watching religiously. hehe And loving it! Friday’s Masterclass is the day I will never miss and even if I do, I will catch up on it online. It is during this time when I get inspired and motivated to try making completely new things. I love the fact that they post their recipes on the masterchef australia website too! Makes it so much easier when trying new dishes!

The Friday that we saw Gary made his beef onion & guinness pie, the mr immediately asked me to make it for dinner the next day! I was very hesistant to make pastry from scratch cos the first time I made a pie/tart base, it failed miserably! So I had a back-up plan, if the pie case failed, I would mash potatoes and turn it into a cottage pie instead! So with a back-up plan in mind, I went all out! So much so I invited friends who were in Melbourne for a visit over for dinner! Haha. I wasn’t too sure what got into my head.

Thank goodness the pie was a big hit! The pastry was buttery and flaky. We could just have it on it’s own (and we did for the left over pastry haha)! I couldn’t really believe how easy it was to make it and I had alot of fun rolling it out and cutting it to fit the baking tin as well! hehe And the best way to have the pie? With a whole heap of tomato sauce of course! YUMMY!

This is definitely a pastry I can see myself making very very often in the future for either sweet or savoury dishes!

And the beef. Where can I begin? It melts in your mouth. Pity I couldn’t cook it for slightly longer cause I already made my guests wait for 1 hour (lucky thing I had Running Man on so they were entertained! hehe) and so I just really needed to get it in the pastry cases, baked and served!

Remember my back-up plan? I had to use it anyway because I had so much beef left, it was a great way to serve them – with creamy parmesan mash! To complete the meal, I made a bowl of salad and viola! (: Was a perfect night with good company!

Beef Onion and Guinness Pies (Adapted from Masterchef Australia)

Filling

3 kg chuck steak, cut into 5cm pieces

150ml olive oil

6 onions, sliced

8 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

5 dried bay leaves

4 tbs plain flour

salt and freshly ground black pepper, for season

2 carrots, cut into large chunks

600ml Guinness

1.5 litres beef stock

1 egg, beaten

Tomato sauce, to serve

Maggie Beer’s Sour Cream Pastry

200g chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

250g plain flour, extra for dusting

pinch of salt

1/2 cup sour cream

Steps : 

1) Season the beef generously with salt and black pepper. Heat a non-stick frying pan with 100ml of olive oil on high heat, and cook the beef in a few batches until all sides are well browned.  Add the carrot and cook for 5-6 minutes until golden. Set aside.

2) In a large pot, add the rest of the 50ml of olive oil and heat over low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, stirring continuously. This will take around 40 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the bay leaves and cook until a slightly darker brown, without burning it. Add the flour and stir till there is no visible flour left.

3) Add the beef and carrots into the pot and pour 1/2 of the Guinness into the pan to de-glaze, scraping all the brown bits on the bottom. Pour that and the remaining Guinness into the pot. Add the beef stock and make sure there is enough liquid to cover all the beef. Bring it to a boil.

4) Partially cover the pot with the lid and lower the heat to low. Allow that to simmer fir at least 2 1/2 hours or until tender. Set aside and allow it to cool until the pastry is ready. This could also be made in advance and kept in a fridge for up to 3 days.

5) To make the pastry : In an electric mixer, blend the butter and flour and a pinch of salt until the mixture resembles large bread crumbs. Slowly add the sour cream and mix until it comes together to form a dough. Shape it into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for 20 minutes.

6) Preheat oven to 190 degrees celcius. Grease 12 holes in a cupcake baking tin with butter (or 6 in a muffin tin). Roll out the pastry to 3-5mm, using a little extra flour for dusting. Cut out 12 rounds about 4 cm bigger than the cupcake holes and another 12 rounds that are about 2 cm larger for the lids.

7) Place a pie base in each hole, then press in lightly with your fingers. Make sure there is about 1 cm left above the mould. Fill each hole with some beef mixture and top each with a pastry lid and crimp the edges to seal in the filling. Brush each pastry top with the beaten egg, and cut a small hole in the center of each pie for steam to escape.

8) Bake the pies for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Turn out and serve with tomato sauce.

ENJOY! (:

PS : I made much more than the 12 pies needed, so like I mentioned before, I topped the leftover beef filling with a creamy parmesan mash. You could easily make another batch of pastry and make more pies! (: Or just cut the recipe into half! 

A Pie Like No Other.

Ever seen a recipe and add it to your bookmark list almost immediately but have no courage to give it a try? This was one of them. I got about 100 more recipes bookmarked and still trying to give them a go! I’m not kidding or exaggerating.

Truth be told, I never had a very good experience with pies. Or tarts for the matter. Especially food that involve the pie/tart tin. haha. One horrible experience was the Chocolate Ganache, Cream and Strawberry Tart that I tried to bake after watching Masterchef. It was a DISASTER! Free form tarts like Hot Apple Tart I could still handle. anything to do with short crust pastry or a tin, not so much.

But I decided to suck it up, and give tarts another shot. One consolation was that I didn’t need to make shortcrust pastry. But that’s not to say that this is any simpler! Although I have to admit, I love the fact that the base is made of oats! That made me push myself even more to try this recipe!

And so I did. As you can see from the picture above, it’s not a perfect looking pie. But I think I did pretty well! And boy was it yummy! The gooey-ness of the filling was just to-die-for. REALLY. Everyone should give this a shot! Don’t think about the calories, just have it. You will love it!

One of the challenges I had was taking the pie out of the tin, without the sides and corners crumbling on me. Let me tell you this, it is not a one person job. You need extra hands for this! Thankfully I had the Mr help me! (: And he also helped me in finishing up the pie! haha and after you do finish the pie, you need to head to The Training Geek to get some exercise tips and work the sugar off! But it will all be worth it, I repeat, worth every calorie intake!

So here’s the recipe from the Momofuku cook book! Enjoy every single crumb!

What’s better than hot gooey pie and ice cream?

Oatmeal Cookie for Crust

Ingredients
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
Scant 1 cup rolled oats

Directions
1. Heat the oven to 190°C.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Cream the butter, brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Whisk the egg into the butter mixture until fully incorporated.
5. Stir in the flour mixture until fully combined. Stir in the oats.
6. Spread the mixture onto a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking sheet and bake until golden brown and set, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to the touch on a rack. Crumble the cooled cookie to use in the crust.

Crust

Ingredients
Crumbled cookie for crust
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions
Combine the crumbled cookie, butter, brown sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until evenly combined and blended (a little of the mixture clumped between your fingers should hold together). Divide the crust between 2 (10-inch) pie tins (I used a long rectangular tin and 8 small round ones). Press the crust into each shell to form a thin, even layer along the bottom and sides of the tins. Set the prepared crusts aside while you prepare the filling.

Filling

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus a scant 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon milk powder
1 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup plus a scant 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg yolks

Prepared crusts

Powdered sugar to garnish

Directions
1. Heat the oven to 180°C.
2. Whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, salt and milk powder. Whisk in the melted butter, then whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla.
3. Gently whisk in the egg yolks, being careful not to add too much air.
4. Divide the filling evenly between the 2 prepared pie shells.
5. Bake the pies, one at a time, for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake until the filling is slightly jiggly and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the pies and cool on a rack.
6. Refrigerate the cooled pies until well chilled. Serve cold, and the filling will be gooey. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

You. Will. Love. It. I. Promise. (: