Summer Salad In A Jar

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It’s Summer and we are in 2017! Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2016 has been good for you, but I hope even more that 2017 will be an amazing year with lots of opportunities for you to strive on, lots of love, happiness and that everyone will be in the best of health!

To start the year on the right note, I decided to change the way we eat, and steer it towards eating as healthy as possible! So when Croud Australia contacted me to send me a WW Freshbox that’s completely vegetarian by the Aussie Farmers Direct, I couldn’t say no!

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 It’s a box filled with fresh vegetables and beautiful produce! What’s great about each box is they come with recipes that you could follow too! How easy is that? I love the convenience!

When I saw what I had in my box ( 3 meals for 2 people, $64) a few ingredients jumped out at me and I really wanted to make a vibrant salad that we would be able to even have it on the go and with a salad “dressing” that would be exciting for the taste buds too.

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So I decided to make a kale & basil toasted walnut pesto and it absolutely binds all the ingredients together! The perfect dressing (and healthy too with a superfood in it!) for the salad and if you have people you’re making for that loves and needs meat (like the mr), you could easily grill some meat and pop it on as well! It’s a really versatile recipe, and you can add your favourite ingredients too!

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Don’t you just love the colour? It tastes absolutely amazing too!

So here’s the recipe for the perfect Summer salad!

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Summer Salad in A Jar (An original Food Made With Love recipe)

For the kale & toasted walnut pesto:

40g toasted walnut

80g kale leaves, stem removed

35g basil leaves

2 large garlic cloves

80g grated parmesan

1 tsp salt

150ml olive oil

Steps:

  1. Add the kale, basil, garlic cloves and salt in a food processor and pulse for 10 to 12 times, till you get a fine chop.
  2. With the motor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl. Scrap the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the walnuts, garlic cloves & parmesan, continue to pulse until the mixture is well combined. Set aside.

Note: I used this as a dressing for my salad, but you could use this in your pastas, or coat it with some grilled chicken!

For the salad:

350g butternut pumpkin, cut into cubes

1 red capsicum, sliced length-wise

1 can of chickpeas, drained

1 large handful of rocket leaves

1 large handful of baby spinach leaves

30g Greek style feta, crumbled

3 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp salt, and extra for seasoning

ground black pepper

2 tbs olive oil

Steps :

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Line the baking tray with some aluminium foil, drizzle with 1 tbs of olive oil, and place the butternut pumpkin and red capsicum onto the tray. Season the butternut pumpkin with the smoked paprika and season with some salt. Bake for 20 mins or until the pumpkin is tender. Set aside to let it cool down.img_1784-1
  2. In a small nonstick pan, heat 1 tbs of oil over medium heat. Add ground coriander, cumin & salt, and cook for a minute. Remember to keep stirring, so that it doesn’t burn. Add the drained chickpeas and stir for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted and the chickpeas are well coated with the spices. Set aside.
  3. To plate : In a large jar, place the rocket and baby spinach leaves into the base. Add the butternut pumpkin and the red capsicum then sprinkle with the crumbled greek feta. Top with the spiced chickpeas and finally the kale & toasted walnut pesto.
  4. You could shake it gently to coat the contents with the pesto dressing, or if you have access to a plate, pour it out and mix it gently. Enjoy on its own or with some grilled meats!

           ENJOY!

Remember to always cook and bake with love!

xx

PS: Thank you Croud and Aussie Farmers Direct for this opportunity to try and love the Freshbox! Will be trying some of the recipes that are on the website too! Stay tuned, more recipes to come!

Chicken Tagine – MealDish

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Good evening dear readers! So sorry for the hiatus! It’s been a busy few months with Baby Ho’s grandparents (both paternal and maternal) and uncle & aunty coming to visit him consecutively! So I haven’t had the chance to sit down and churn posts out! But I will be doing it whenever I can, I promise!

So a few months back, I was introduced to MealDish. A website that aims to help people eat healthier, eat fresh, whilst minimising food waste and saving them time and money. This was absolutely perfect for me, especially since I can only get down to cooking with Baby Ho is asleep!

So off I went to the website and it’s so simple to use and follow!

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You just have to choose what you like, the number of recipes you want and then click the number of people you’re cooking for and get a meal plan! As easy as that!

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If you have any particular cuisine you would like to try, or specific ingredients to exclude or you have intolerances, there are options for you to tick too! So it’s really for everyone. I did different options and there are heaps of recipes to choose from. They even suggests side dishes that would go perfectly with the recipe you decide to cook that day. Sounds good, no?

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So I decided to just go with the quick option and choose the type of protein I wanted to cook with – Chicken! These were the 5 options I was given, and straight away I was drawn to the chicken tagine recipe, especially cause my beautiful tagine has been sitting on the shelf ever since I made my Moroccan meatballs one and half year ago! haha So it was time to get it on the stove again.

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If you’re a person who loves order and likes to get everything ready before you cook, Mealdish is definitely for you. The recipe comes with ‘Preparation Steps’ so that you have everything ready to go when you start cooking, missing nothing out! This cuts your cooking time and dinner will be on the table, pipping hot, in no time!

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Of course, there’s ‘Cooking Steps’ which are clear and easy to follow. What’s best about this website is that they have a ‘Shopping List’ tailored to the number of people you are cooking for. So there’s no waste and you just buy what is needed!

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Chicken Tagine

The results were as good as I thought it would be! The Mr loved it and even though I made enough for 4 people, we only had a serve left! What’s best is, this recipe had both protein and vegetables rolled into one! So we only needed that one dish for dinner. Paired with toasted Turkish bread – Dinner was ready within an hour!

So if you are looking for inspirations to cook your family or even just yourself something delicious, and want something quick and easy, hop onto the MealDish website and you will definitely find something you fancy!

Here’s the ingredients used for this dish. The steps are as described in the ‘Cooking Steps’ above! Or you could always just head to the website and search for the recipe to get the ingredient amounts tailored to the number of people you are cooking for!

Ingredients :

(For 4 people)

3/4 Onion whole

4 Garlic cloves

1 1/4 Celery stick

3/4 can tinned tomato

200g Pumpkin

2 tsp Coriander

3/4 tsp Ground Ginger

3/4 Cinnamon Stick

1/4 Lemon

1/4 cup apricot (I used raisins)

3/4 cup Chicken stock

8 Chicken drumstick

3/4 cup couscous

2 tbs fresh coriander

Chicken Tagine

Have a great rest of the day and hope you all will have an awesome hot dinner tonight since it’s freezing here in Melbourne!

Till the next post, remember to always cook and bake with love! xx

BBQ Made Easy with Heat Beads® Chimney Booster

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I love BBQs. It’s just something that could bring everyone together, around the fire, and enjoy the love for food. To me, BBQs are perfect all year round. In the Summer, with a beer or cider in one hand, and a pair of tongs on the other. In Winter, it will act as a heater or a camp fire, keeping us warm and toasty! hehe

Setting up a BBQ can be tricky and time consuming, depending on the weather conditions. So when KeepLeft PR contacted me and asked if I would like to try the the Heat Beads® BBQ Chimney & Chimney Booster for a quick and easy BBQ experience, I couldn’t say no! I couldn’t be more thankful for the generosity of Heat Beads® as they didn’t only give me the Heat Beads® briquettes, firelighters, the Heat Beads® BBQ Chimney & Chimney Booster, they gave me my dream BBQ as well – The Weber! I was over the moon when the packages arrived!

The Weber BBQ

Heat Beads® BBQ Chimney & Chimney Booster

Instead of the usual hour or more taken to get the briquettes ready for some action, with the Heat Beads® BBQ Chimney & Chimney Booster, you can get your briquettes hot enough for the BBQ in 12 minutes (with a few minutes more if it’s cold and windy)! How amazing is that?? And it’s so easy to use as well! I was a little worried at first, as the Mr is in the USA doing a seminar tour. So I had no help, plus he’s always usually the one setting it up!

Setting up the BBQ Chimney & Chimney Booster

But trust me, it could all be done in a few quick steps!

Put the Heat Beads® briquettes in the Heat Beads® BBQ Chimney, place the Heat Beads® firelighters on the firelighter plate of the Heat Beads® Chimney Booster, light the firelighters using a match or gas lighter, place your Heat Beads® BBQ Chimney on top of the Chimney Booster and turn on the switch!

Lighting the firelighters on the firelighter plate

Now all you gotta do is wait for 12 minutes! I decided to put the Booster to the test, and BBQed on a super windy and cold night. It took 14 minutes for the briquettes to be hot enough to be placed in the BBQ. 14 minutes! AMAZING!

Using the BBQ Chimney & Chimney Booster

By the 12th minute, the briquettes were close to being ready. And how do you know when their ready? The briquettes become ash over, turning a light grey colour. That’s when it’s ready to be popped into your BBQ!

14 minutes, Briquettes were ashed over and ready to go!

With the setting up time reduced to a mere 12-14 minutes, I’ve got more time to cook my meats now! I decided to do a comparison of cooking methods: low & slow vs quick & fast. Heat Beads® is perfect for both! The low & slow would be perfect for days when you have a little more time to spare. The quick & fast would be perfect for busy bees who are working, or have little time to get food time on the table. Trust me, cause now with bubba, all I have is under an hour to get our meals prepared and cooked! So what did I decide to cook? Smoked BBQ baby back ribs (low & slow) and Jamaican Jerk Smoked chicken wings (quick & fast)! Salivating yet? hehe I definitely was, smelling the aromas coming out of the Weber!

Ribs & Wings

All done within 1 1/2 hours, inclusive of prep time! I thought it was pretty impressive, don’t you? You must be thinking, how can it be? Well, I used the 14 minutes taken for the briquettes to be ready to season my meats! A win-win situation if you asked me!

Smoked Bbq Baby Back Ribs

Smoked BBQ Baby Back Ribs (Recipe from Weber’s Time to Grill™ by Jamie Purviance)

Dry Rub :

1 tbs sea salt

2 tsp granulated garlic

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 racks of baby back ribs, about 1kg

1/2 cup BBQ sauce

Handful of Hickory Wood Chips

Steps : 

1) Soak your wood chips in water for at least 30 mins and drain. Set aside.

2) In a small bowl, mix the ingredients for the dry rub together. Remove the membrane of the ribs and cut them into half to create two smaller racks.

Dry rub - Ribs

3) Season each rack evenly with the dry rub and place the ribs on a piece of foil, wrapping them up well. Double wrap them, making sure there are no holes.

Seasoned and ready to go

4) Place the packet of ribs on the clean grill and cook for 1 hour, with the lid closed, and turning the packets occasionally, making sure not to pierce the foil. At this point, you could go do other things! Go hang the laundry and just put your feet up and have a cuppa (:

Ribs on the bbq

5) Remove the packets from the grill and let rest for about 10 mins. Carefully open the packets, remove the ribs and discard the rendered fat and oil.

6) Place the wood chips onto the charcoal and a a tray of water under the grill. Close the lid and when the wood chips start to smoke, return the ribs onto the grill (above the water) bone side down. Grill and smoke, the the lid closed, for about 10-12 minutes, basting with the bbq sauce, until they are sizzling and lightly charred. Remove from grill and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving with the remaining bbq sauce.

Jamaican Jerk Smoked Chicken Wings

2 tsp Jamaican Jerk Rub (For a quick marinade, I used the one from The Spice Mill)

2 tsp sea salt flakes

10-12 chicken wings

Steps : 

1) Marinade the chicken wings with the Jamaican Jerk spice rub and sea salt and allow it to marinade while the ribs are cooking on the grill.

Seasoning the chicken wings

2) When the ribs are 10 minutes from getting done, I put the chicken wings on the grill and turned it occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn.

3) When the ribs are smoking, leave the chicken wings on the grill to be smoked as well (for the same 10-12 minutes). It brings the chicken wings to a whole new level of deliciousness! Golden brown and lightly charred. PERFECT!

Grilling the chicken wings

Jamaican Jerk Smoked chicken wings

Have them with some baked sweet potatoes (you can throw them on the grill when you start cooking your ribs) and a side of salad! Dinner is served! (:

Smoked BBQ Baby back ribs

My parents and I were really impressed by how delicious the ribs and wings were! I had so much fun trying out the Heat Beads® BBQ Chimney & Chimney booster and couldn’t be happier with how the meats turned out. I’m sure by now you’re wondering where to get the Heat Beads® BBQ Chimney & Chimney Booster from? Or you want to read more about the Heat Beads® products? Do pop over to Heat Beads® to find out more!

Have a great weekend ahead and always remember to cook and bake with love!

Disclaimer : Lianne@Food Made With Love received the Weber BBQ & Heat Beads® products as a gift from Heat Beads® & KeepLeft PR. Thank you so much for this fantastic opportunity! 

Eclair Affair

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High tea. Something I love but I don’t do it too often. Nothing beats sitting around a table of delicious sweets and savouries, sipping on champagne or tea, chatting with a group of your closest girlfriends! I was lucky enough to be invited by Q Strategies to the Lobby Lounge at The Westin for their Eclair Affair with Daisy & Agnes!

Domaine Chandon

There are two options available for this delicious high tea. $49 per person is served with Vittoria coffee, hot chocolate or a selection of Jing Tea. $59 per person includes 1 glass of Domaine Chandon and also with coffee, tea or hot chocolate!

Jing tea

As I couldn’t have the champagne, I decided to order a fruit tea to accompany the 3 tiered spread we were having! I love the different selection of teas there are. There’s black, green, white and fruity! (:

Eclair Affair

And what’s special about this high tea you ask? It’s served with a range of both savoury and sweet eclairs and also some scones! Choux pastry is something I love, especially when it’s thin and buttery. I actually prefer the savoury eclairs more than the sweet ones!

Eclair Affair

The savoury eclairs include :

Mushroom pate with pickled shemiji

Hame, comte cheese, confit tomato and grainy Dijon aioli

Smoked duck, gorgonzola, pear, caramelised walnut and rocket

Prawn, avocado and sweet chilli jam

Goat cheese with pesto

My favourite was the prawn and avocado with the slight kick of the sweet chilli jam. A really good balance of sweet, salty and creamy! YUMMO!

Sweet eclairs

The sweet eclairs include :

Strawberry & Lime

Passionfruit and White Chocolate

Pistachio and Fig

Chocolate & Caramel

I was really excited when I heard about the pistachio and fig, but sadly the one I had wasn’t filled! But I did enjoy the chocolate and caramel one the most! hehe It’s one of my favourite combinations, so definitely can’t go wrong! hehe

Scones

Last but definitely not the least, scones! It wouldn’t be high tea without scones, in my opinion! There’s a serve of vanilla scones and fruit scones! I actually love vanilla scones more with a dollop of cream and jam! Till now, I’m not sure what the right way of having scones. Cream first or jam first? hehe I mix them around and is different every time I have it! hehe

Eclair Affair

So if you’re looking for something different from the usual high tea, so head to the Westin to give this a go! With really comfy sofa seats and a beautiful ambience, it’s definitely somewhere you can consider going with your girlfriends or loved ones! But be quick cause this is only till the 30th of June!

Eclairs are definitely the new cupcakes and macarons! So get in quick! hehe

Disclaimer : I was invited to the Eclair Affair by the Westin and Q Strategies. All thoughts and opinions are based on my experience at the time of the visit. Thank you so much for this wonderful experience and opportunity!

 

{Travels} My Guide Around Surry Hills, Sydney

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About 3 weeks back, the Mr and I decided to surprise my sister-in-law and brought her to Sydney for the weekend as her birthday present! Needless to say, the smile on her face when she opened the envelop containing her printed air ticket was priceless! It has been a long time since we went to Sydney as well, so I was super excited to go!

We were so lucky to be able to stay at Cambridge Hotel that is located at the heart of Surrey Hills. Everything was just a stone-throw away! In this post, I will be sharing with you the different places we dined at that were all located in Surrey Hills, and a walkable distance from the comfort of our hotel!

First stop : Devon Cafe

Devon Cafe

Of course, to maximise our stay, we took one of the earliest flight out and arrived early in the morning! haha As we were too early to check in to our hotel, we decided to stop by one of the cafes that has been on my list for the longest time for breakfast! Plus it was close to the hotel too! (:  We were greeted by the most enthusiastic and friendly staff which instantly brightened up our morning!

Muffins, pastries & burgers

If you wanted something light or quick, they had a good range of savoury and sweet on display! Croissants, muffins, brioche and tarts! Especially if you wanted something to pair with your coffee-on-the-go! hehe

Our usual cuppas

We started our breakfast with our usual hot cuppas! Chai soy latte for me, latte for the mr and hot chocolate for Melissa!

Chai soy latte

I absolutely loved the pot used to serve my chai latte! hehe It was so japanese inspired and wanted to smuggle it back! haha Of course I didn’t, I still wanted to head back to Devon Cafe when I am traveling in Sydney again. hehe

Chick n Chips

There were so many things on the menu that we were drawn to. Everything just sounded so delicious! Melissa was tossing between sweet or savoury, but decided on the Chick n Chips! When it arrived, the smell was AMAZING! I was salivating just inhaling the smells. haha It had a chicken sausage, crispy confit wing smoked potato, fried egg, jus gras, chicken skin and chips! Yes, crispy chicken skin! DELISH!

green eggs and ham

The Mr ordered the special of the day, and I could totally understand why! It’s a play on the typical green eggs and ham but definitely elevated to a whole new (and better) level and everything the Mr loves! Thick cut bacon, Jerusalem artichoke puree, 63 degree eggs with wild mushroom, parsley & garlic cream and topped with crispy Jerusalem artichokes! Absolutely delicious! The plate was close to being licked clean!

Devon's granola

I wanted to start the trip with something healthy, as I knew how indulgent I will be for the rest of the day! haha So I decided to order Devon’s granola! How pretty is it? hehe It has house made granola, vanilla yoghurt, poached pear and freeze dried raspberries!  Loved all the different colours and how the freeze dried raspberries just pop!

Devon's granola

Seeing how pretty it is is making me itch to make my own granola and have it for breakie!! Think I just might! (: So after a filling and satisfying breakfast, we decided to head over to Cambridge Hotel to check in!

Front Desk of Cambridge Hotel

(Photo credits : http://www.cambridgehotel.com.au/)

When you enter the hotel lobby, you’re greeted by the smiles on all the faces of the staff! It took less than 10 minutes to get us all checked in and headed up to our room!

our room

How inviting are the rooms? Really spacious for the 3 of us too! This was the premium twin double room and our room had stunning views too!

Welcome chocolates

And how thoughtful are the staff at Cambridge Hotel? A box of handmade chocolates to warmly welcome us to our room and Sydney! Isn’t it the little things that really count and make an impact to your holidays? Love it!

Second Stop : Bourke Street Bakery

Address : 633 Bourke Street, Surry Hills

Opening hours : 7am – 6pm (Mondays to Fridays)

7am – 5pm (Weekends)

Bourke Street Bakery

After taking a short break (aka taking a power nap haha) we decided to walk to Bourke Street Bakery! I was so happy when I realised how close it was! Just a 15 mins slow walk brought us to this amazing bakery! It’s always pretty packed and there is always a queue, but it moves pretty quickly and trust me, it’s worth the wait!

Pork and fennel sausage rolls

Before going on to the sweets, we decided to have their sausage rolls! So glad we did though cause it was so so so so good! The pastry was flakey and buttery and the pork and fennel filling was absolutely delish! We shared as we wanted to have space for the sweets which we already aimed or while we were ordering the sausage rolls! hehe

Sweet pastries

The mr really wanted a croissant, but they only had the plain ones left! It was still really good though! No regrets getting it! hehe We couldn’t resist ordering the famous ginger creme brûlée tart, especially since the mr loves creme brûlée! And just when we were about to pay, a tray of freshly baked rhubarb frangipane tarts came out of the oven, so I had to get one! Trust me, nothing is better than a piping hot tart, fresh out of the oven!

Ginger creme brûlée tart

The ginger creme brûlée tart was nothing short of amazing! The short crust pastry was buttery and absolutely love how creamy and luscious the filling was! There was also a good hit of ginger, which the Mr absolutely adored! We may or may not have bought 2 more to bring back to our hotel. haha

Third stop : RoboCog Cafe

Address : 249 Riley Street, Surry Hills

Robo Cog

I absolutely love how the hotel is surrounded by small cafes, and all of them have something that would draw you in! Just down the road was a cute little cafe called Robocog which I had a cuppa with the gorgeous Heather (:

The inside of robocog

The interior was really warm, cosy and inviting. Their menu was in a shape of a robot (but I didn’t get to snap a shot of it, oops!) They had quite a spread food wise, but we were just there for coffee and to catch up!

Decaf cappuccino

I ordered the decaf cappuccino which had quite bold flavours but was smooth to taste! It’s been a while since I had coffee but still enjoyed it! I really love meeting up with people after only communicating over emails/instagram/twitter! Was an absolute pleasure!

Forth Stop : Chat Thai

Address : 20 Campbell Street, Haymarket

 Chat Thai

I know this isn’t exactly located in Surry Hills, but it’s a short 5 minutes drive or a 20 minutes brisk walk from the hotel! Chat Thai has been on everyone’s lips when they do head to Sydney and we didn’t want to miss having it! So off we went, in the cold, and walked there for dinner one night!

Cute lights

Although we went around 615pm (which I thought was quite early), we still had heaps of people infront of us and we waited for a good 40 minutes for our table! Fortunately there were a few thai supermarkets which we could pop in to have a walk or when we felt too cold to wait outside! When it got colder, the staff brought out the gas heater, which definitely made the waiting less painful!

papaya salad

We started our meal with a bang! A huge chilli hit! The papaya salad (som dtum) was so spicy I could only have one portion! Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious, but just too spicy for me. I think we could have let them know the level of spice, but we didn’t and we were given the maximum one! haha

Grilled pork neck

This was my favourite dish of the night. Grilled pork neck (khor mhu yaang) with smoked chilli and tamarind relish! The pork neck was so tender and the sweet & sourish relish complimented each other really well. A must order dish if you ask me! (:

Thai green chicken curry

When we have thai, it’s a must to order a bowl of green curry as well! This was the thai green chicken curry with apple egg plants, kaffir lime leaves and basil! So fragrant and just the right amount of heat! Could easily finish a bowl of rice just with the curry gravy! Mmmm!

dtom yum goong with king prawns

The dtom yum goong with king prawns had the most intense and amazing flavours! Every sip tasted like prawns! SO GOOD! We couldn’t stop saying WOW. haha In fact, we were still talking about it the next day!

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The last savoury dish we ordered was the crispy fried whole snapper with a roasted chilli and garlic sauce. When it arrived, we all thought we were in for another spicy journey haha But it actually was a good balance of sweet & spicy! The fish was also cooked perfectly. NOMS!

Durian sticky rice

We were so stuffed by the time we polished off the savouries, but the Mr couldn’t resist ordering the durian sticky rice! We did want the mango sticky rice, but mangoes weren’t in season. So durian it is! Many might not like this King of the Fruits, but we absolutely adore it! Creamy and sweet, we finished it too quickly! hehe

Fifth Stop : Bills

Address : 359 Crown Street, Surry Hills

Bills

Last and definitely not the least, Bills. I remember the first time I came to Sydney, the only place I wanted to try then was Bills. This time was no different. Bills was still on my to-go list and one thing I wanted to have was the fluffy ricotta hotcakes! We went around 1030am and had to wait for a good 45 minutes. But is it worth the wait?

Ricotto hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter

ABSOLUTELY! Look at how fluffy the hotcakes are??? Piping hot with bananas and a honeycomb butter and a drizzle (or a heap haha) of maple syrup! YUMMO! I just couldn’t stop eating!

Ricotta hotcakes

Oh my gosh. I’m having some serious hotcakes pregnancy cravings this instant! hehe They are seriously amazing. You definitely have to make a trip there when you are in Sydney or around Surry Hills! Head there early if you want to reduce the queueing time!

Bills

The place was constantly crowded but the staff still wore smiles on their faces! Love it!

Hot chocolate

I was so excited about the hotcakes I forgot to talk about the drinks we had! Melissa ordered the hot chocolate and boy was it good! It was made by coating the bottom and sides of the glass with chocolate buttons and pouring hot milk in! Ooh lala! She was definitely one happy girl! hehe

Beet root juice

I decided to go for something healthy and refreshing – Beet root, carrot, fennel & apple!

I really hope you enjoyed my eating journey around Surry Hills! Our bellies were definitely happy through the 3 days we had in Sydney. Just want to thank the Mr for planning the trip, Heather for helping with the accommodation and Cambridge Hotel for the comfortable stay we had for the 2 nights!

Have a great week ahead everyone! Remember to always cook and bake with love!

Till the next post, xx

New Autumn Menu : No. 8 By John Lawson

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I was so lucky and excited to be invited to taste the new autumn menu at No. 8 by John Lawson a few weeks back. Don’t know if you can remember my first tasting done there and I absolutely loved it! So when another opportunity came to dine back at No. 8, I couldn’t say no hehe If you don’t remember John Lawson, his dishes are driven & inspired by the fresh produce he has around him. In fact, his cooking revolves around sustainably produced ingredients that he can find around locally from Victorian farmers. 

Before I share with you the new menu, I just want to thank John Lawson, the chefs and the staff for accommodating to this expectant woman. hehe Cannot be more thankful that I am still able to dine comfortably and have delicious food! (:

Whole wheat and beer sourdough

So like always, the night starts with beautiful slices of bread made by Eds Breads! If you follow me on instagram, you would know that I often buy my breads from him and have them for my breakfast! Unfortunately, I was late due to work, so I didn’t get to try the newly created – whole wheat and beer sourdough. But lucky for me, we were all given a loaf to bring home! YAY! hehe Love the crunchy outer crust and a soft centre. There isn’t one loaf of his I could fault!

Wheat berry and baby carrot salad

The first course was the salad course : wheat berry and baby carrot salad ! I absolutely love the wheat berries. They have a nutty flavour to them and really good bite too! This was also served with jerusalem artichokes turnips and sunflower shoots! A really colourful and refreshing start to the night! This was paired with a gin & tonic, which I didn’t have, of course. But I can imagine what a good match it would be! hehe

Mildura yabbies, hervey bay scallops and pine mushrooms

The next dish was a show-stopper in my opinion! When it arrived in front of me, I could feel my jaw drop! How pretty is that? Perfectly cooked Mildura yabbies, that were so fresh and sweet with Hervey Bay scallops and pine mushrooms! What a great entree! Every seafood I love on a plate! Actually on a gorgeous scallop shell! Absolutely loved this dish.

Slippery Jack mushroom risotto

And the dishes just gets better and better! When I looked through the menu before dinner started, this was the dish I was really looking forward to! Risotto, when cooked perfectly, is my weakness. I could have a huge plate of it and still want more. hehe This, my dear readers, was absolutely delish! Every mouthful I had was bursting with mushroomy flavours, and the rice was creamy and cheesy! SO GOOD! Ticked all the right boxes! Hands down my favourite dish of the night! NOMS!

Milawa duck breast

The main for the new autumn menu was Milawa duck breast! As it was cooked medium rare to medium, I couldn’t have it. But from the sounds made by everyone sitting around me, I knew it was as good as the first time I had it! This time it was served with pear, brussel sprouts and foie gras sauce. How good does that sound? hehe Have to head back another time to try it! hehe

Flat iron steak

Lucky me though, a special dish was cooked for me – flat iron steak! I’ve not had this cut of steak before, but it was so tender and though it looked like it hasn’t been cooked through, it was! Every piece just melts in my mouth and goes so well with the slices of beet root! AMAZEBALLS! I was trying to savour it slowly, but I found myself finishing it before I knew it! haha

baked potato with cheddar and crispy pig

We were also served a side of baked potato with cheddar and crispy pig! Holy moly! This was everything I was craving for in my pregnancy! Lucky thing we shared among the 4 of us, or else I would have smothered my face in it! Don’t worry there was also a side of cosberg, kale and mustard leaf, but I was so engrossed in eating the potato and steak, I forgot to snap it! hehe

72% Cocoa and coffee fondant

Now, time for the sweets! Though I was already quite stuffed, but there is always room for dessert right? hehe There were two on offer again tonight, and this was the one I didn’t have cause they were worried the chocolate wasn’t pasteurised. 72% Cocoa & coffee fondant! Let me tell you though, the smell of the chocolate filled the table as they were being served! So delicately plated too!

Gooey middle

Of course, when you are served a fondant, the money shot would be when you cut it open! Sorry the photo is a tad dark, but can you see the shiny bit of chocolate oozing out? Definitely a perfectly cooked fondant!

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I had the slow poached quince, spiced crumb and yoghurt! The last time I was at No. 8 I had a yoghurt dessert too! Such a good way to end the night though. Light, refreshing with the sweetness of the poached quince! I definitely wanted more! Mmmm (:

Occelli testun in foglie di castagno

Something new was a fromage course : Occeelli Testun in Foglie di Castagno! haha The name was a tongue twister and I have to admit I googled just to see what it was! hehe It’s a cow and sheep milk cheese that is wrapped in chestnut leaves for 18 months! My constant craving has always been cheese this whole pregnancy, but sadly I couldn’t have this cause it was soft cheese! The smell was divine though! It was matched with a Grey Box honey from Castlemaine. Sweet and salty – match made in heaven I’m sure!

Chocolate and passionfruit truffle

Last but definitely not the least, we were given beautiful chocolate and passionfruit truffles to end the night (: Dark chocolate that is subtly bitter contrasting with a sweet passionfruit filling!

Once again, the food was outstanding and I highly recommend you to head down to No. 8 at Crown Melbourne to give the new menu a go! You definitely won’t regret it! (:

Disclaimer : I was invited to the launch  by Hatch Communications and No. 8 By John Lawson. All thoughts and opinions are based on my experience at the time of the visit. Thank you so much for this wonderful experience and opportunity yet again!

No. 8 by John Lawson (number 8) on Urbanspoon

Turning 28 At Nieuw Amsterdam

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Turning a year older is no doubt a special occasion. But this year, it was really special to me. Next year, I will be celebrating as a mum! (: Can’t be any more excited about that! As we get older, birthdays just become a time where we head out to have good food. No longer did we have the huge celebrations, just quiet ones now, which I actually enjoy more! Just a small intimate affair with my loved ones. hehe

Nieuw Amsterdam

Address : 106-112 Hardware Street

Melbourne Vic 3000

Website

Nieuw Amsterdam has been on my to-go list for a while now, so I knew exactly where I wanted to go to celebrate turning a year older! Absolutely loved the atmosphere when we stepped into this American Bistro, and the wait staff were really friendly as well!

Our drinks

Being pregnant, I couldn’t have any alcohol, so I ordered lemon lime bitters instead. The sister-in-law couldn’t resist the cider and the Mr had a dark beer (sorry I didn’t get the exact name! haha). The food at Nieuw Amsterdam are mainly sharing plates and that’s exactly what we did! Although we did order quite a bit. haha We were definitely hungry (:

New York Sour Dough

The night of food started with a loaf of New York sourdough with some beautiful creamy butter! It had a really crispy outer crust and the bread was still soft in the middle. We definitely wanted more of it, but was reserving our stomach space for the food we ordered! hehe

Pig trotter and ham hock nuggets

These little gold nuggets were absolutely delicious! With a great crunch with every bite, the mixture of pig trotters and ham hock just melts in your mouth and you wouldn’t be able to resist going for more! Sitting on the nugget is a thin slice of a pickled radish, which cuts through the richness of the dish. AMAZING!

BBQ Scallops with mango gazpacho, avocado and chilli

Our second appetiser is perfectly cooked BBQ scallops sitting in mango gazpacho, with avocado and chilli! Scallops are one of my favourite ingredients of all time. I could have it in any way – sashimi, pan fried, grilled. Give it to me! haha Though it seems like there is a lot of flavours going on, but everything worked together!

Chicken waffles

I was craving for waffles for the longest time, so when I saw this on the menu, I couldn’t resist! A thin waffle topped with chicken terrine, pate and a super crispy chicken skin! YUM! Don’t worry, I didn’t have my pate hehe but it was still delish! The small but mighty chilli jam just brings the whole dish together and the flavour of sweet and spicy just bursts in your mouth! I was one happy girl! hehe

Southern style pork belly chops

This, my dear readers, was the best dish of the night. Tender and melt-in-your-mouth pork belly which was just full of flavour, topped with pork crackling and sauerkraut! Couldn’t get enough of it and just wanted to devour the whole bowl!

Southern style pork belly chops

Absolutely divine! A definitely most order dish when you do head there! (:

Jerk chicken

The Mr chose the jerk chicken dish with crispy rice and black bean puree! The jerk chicken was tender and had a good chilli kick to it and went really well with the crispy rice! The only down part of this was the pineapple salad, which really was just pieces of pineapple, and was a tad bit sweet for my liking.

Smoked beef brisket

I chose the last main : Smoked beef brisket with carrot remoulade! I requested for the beef to be cooked through, and it wasn’t tough! Wheee! (: So thankful that the chefs were happy to accommodate to my dietary requirements!

Dutch potato fries with spiced garlic mayo

As a side, we got the dutch potato fries with a side of spiced garlic mayo! Can’t turn down crispy thick cut fries. Simple but delish!

The Nieuw chocolate bar

As we were all quite full by the time we finished our appetisers and mains, we decided to share just one dessert. The one that caught my attention is the Nieuw Chocolate Bar! When it came, I couldn’t be happier with my choice! A rich and decadent chocolate bar topped with banana cake, brûlée bananas and tonka bean ice cream! It was so yum I wanted to have another, though there wasn’t much space left in my tummy. haha

 It was definitely a great night and I can’t thank the Mr and sister-in-law enough to celebrate this special day with me! Nothing beats celebrating with loved ones and having great food is just the icing on the cake! Will definitely be back to try the other dishes on the menu! hehe

Nieuw Amsterdam on Urbanspoon

 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Remember to always cook and bake with love!