Monday, May 30, 2011


I made this biscotti for a small gathering with friends in Canberra. Surprisingly it took me longer to cook than it would take me to bake a cake. I made biscotti once with my mum, but this time I used butter and it made a delicious difference. In this biscotti, I used raw cashew nuts - conventional recipes don't use cashews, but the soft nuts crisped up in the oven and suited the biscotti base quite well. I put lemon, lime & orange zest in the mix, which really complemented the plainness of the flour and subtleties of the cashews!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

baked savoury ricotta

I'm a bit obssessed with ricotta... and I had a Women's Weekly recipe for baked ricotta. In addition to the cheese, it had egg, fresh chives & thyme and salt. They don't have to be in muffin cases, but I didn't have anything else. However, they got stuck to the paper :(.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Jacqui's visit to Canberra

Jacqui recently visited me in Canberra and it was great! We looked at art, went market shopping and ate food :). This set of pictures shows us at the National Gallery and has food from the Babar Cafe Restaurant in Civic, Canberra. We had a pizza (not the best in Canberra) and an entree with Moroccan bite-sized lamb and cauliflower:

We visited the Gorman House Markets. I heart this place. It's quaint, has second hand clothes, art, fresh food. For lunch, we shared a plate of Ethiopian curry and had some Greek sweets (baklava & walnut and honey cake). The Greek sweets weren't the best I've ever tasted but I was more than happy with the curry. It was well worth the money, and I want to learn how to use spices to cook Ethiopian food :)
We also went to the Old Bus Depot Markets for a wonderful assortment of samples and had breakfast/lunch somewhere in Manuka. I love lazy Sundays!

addictive tomatoes

This picture doesn't do justice for how addictive these tomatoes are. They are 'sweet snacking tomatoes' that I would take over copious amounts of chocolate any day. Seriously as addictive as crack cocaine. Probably the most beautiful natural food that I've ever eaten. You can get them in Coles/Woolies and I think they are much more expensive than truss tomatoes. Delicious.

I think I got my flatmate addicted to them too... HI LAURA!

Eggplant miso

Eggplant with Brown-rice Miso & Bonito
Japanese inspired dish. Smelt/tasted really nice but the proportion of miso paste was too much, so it was a tad too salty. Good nevertheless.
from Your Place or Mine? by Gary Mehigan & George Calombaris
Book details here 

leftover condensed milk

After the Italian-themed movie night, I had half a can of condensed milk left. I hate having leftover ingredients that cannot be easily incorporated into my everyday diet. Anyway, I made the most of it and found a recipe online, making a citrus ricotta cheesecake with condensed milk:
Baked Ricotta Citrus Cake
3/4 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
250g ricotta cheese
1 tsp each lemon, lime and orange rind, grated
1 tbsp each lemon, lime and orange juice
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup plain flour

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a 20cm deep round cake tin with baking paper.
2. Place Sweetened Condensed Milk, cheese, citrus rind and juice, egg yolks and flour in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until combined.
3. In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff, gently fold into cheese mixture using a metal spoon.
4. Pour into prepared tin and bake 40-45 minutes until firm.
5. Remove from tin, dust with icing sugar if desired and serve warm or cool.

Nestle recipe found at here.


I just wanted to give a huge shoutout to Jacqui & Milly. Over the past few months, both of you supported me in thinking of a 'capture-all' blog name, helped me clarify what I should do with this blog and listened to my incoherent rants about it. Thanks for encouraging me to just get on with it.



One day, my flatmate and her uni friend went to Dobinsons, a cafe/patisserie in Canberra. I can't remember if I sampled any of the baked goods that they bought, but they looked delish...
For my birthday, my flatmate was worried that I wouldn't get any cake for my birthday so got me an orange and poppyseed tart from Dobinsons. Out of all the tarts that I've eaten in Europe, Asia and Sydney, this must have been the best orange and poppyseed that I've tasted!!!!! The shortcrust was AMAZING - it wasn't too buttery, or dry but as short and crispy as you expect shortcrust pastry to be. The almond meal in the filling gave the tart a wonderful dense texture that made you want more at every bite. The only downfall was that as I ate it, I wanted more and more so I resorted to eating the white part of the orange peel which was too chewy. Not a great last mouthful to a wonderful tart!

Overall, I thought the tart was so great that I wanted to share it with my mum so I saved a portion of it to bring home to Sydney.
Dobinsons Bakery Cafe
177 Bunda Street
Canberra ACT 2601

grilled figs

I think it's really important to live close to your family. I grew up having very very little family nearby and it had a huge impact. I'm so very glad that Canberra isn't too far away from Sydney. My family came to visit me in Canberra and bought me an assortment of fresh fruit & veges which were carefully chosen according to what I liked/would like. Tbh, I don't think I've tried fresh figs before this day. They were delicious. Here, I grilled them with honey & vanilla essence and grilled some flaked almonds to go with it. It was perfect:

italian movie night

A while ago, the grads had an Italian-themed movie night. We all brought an Italian dish or two and watched Godfather. I made florentines (cornflakes, condensed milk, dried fruit). They were like a sticky, crunchy candy:

And pannacotta (an Italian cream-based jelly) with orange toffee sauce. I had to put them in plastic cups cos I had to travel with them:

Panna cotta with orange toffee sauce
2 1/2 tsp powered gelatine
3/4 cup milk
600mL cream
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 vanilla bean/ vanilla essence

Orange toffee sauce
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice

1. In a bowl, place 1/4 cup milk and sprinkle gelatine over it
2. Combine remaining milk, cream and sugar in medium saucepan
3. If using vanilla bean, scrape seeds from pod and place in cream mixture. Or put vanilla essence in cream mixture
4. Stir mixture over low heat, without boiling until sugar dissolves. Bring almost to a boil. (surface should quiver,  not bubble)
5. Remove from heat; stand, covered, 10 mins.
6. Return cream mixture to heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat
7. Stir in gelatine mixture. Strain into jug
8. Pour cream mixture into cups/serving plates. Cool, cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or til set

For orange toffee sauce:
1. Combine sugar and water in small saucepan and stir over low heat without boiling until sugar dissolves.
2. Boil , uncovered, without stirring, which is about 10 mins or until sugar syrup is golden brown. Remove from heat.
3. Stir in juice. Stir over low heat without boiling, until toffee dissolves
4. Cool til room temperature

Last: Just before serving, place toffee sauce on pannacotta, when its in the serving cups. Serve with strawberries if desired...

Amended from the Women's Weekly Great Italian food cookbook

*When I brought this dish to the party, another grad used exactly the same recipe to make Pannacotta. Her one was much lighter and didn't leave a creamy after-feel in your mouth, so I suspect she used lower-fat milk & cream. Note that I used full cream milk & cream for mine.
*The orange toffee sauce is essential to balance out with the creaminess of the pannacotta.
*I didn't use strawberries, but would highly recommend them as they, similar to the sauce, are needed to balance out the creaminess of the pannacotta.
*I didn't follow the recipe and put the orange sauce on the pannacotta hours before serving. Because I used clear cups, the colours mixed and it was visible. eek.


Just to clarify, I’m NOT a vegetarian. To give this blog a bit more balance, once I cooked chicken drumsticks with the Masterfood Portuguese Chicken spices. It was really hot but I’d definitely do it again.

On another note: Kangaroo, when cooked correctly, is one of the best meats to eat. It’s not oozing with fat that covers your lips as you eat it and it can be so so tender.

vege polenta bake

Today, I’m going to try to call Milly from home (hi Milly!!). I feel like I’m lacking frequent conversation with people from Sydney and I could really use some constant support structures right now… However, I’m glad that I can bring some of my happier Sydney memories with me, namely via food.

If I remember correctly, Milly told me that she once made a vegetarian shephard’s pie – the thought of not gagging over too much meat in a pie, but still having a wholesome pie excited me. What I made in Canberra was less like a pie but a vege bake. Whoops. But it was delicious and colourful:
The base had zucchini, eggplant etc with a tomato pasta sauce. The topping was polenta, olive oil and ricotta…

After baking it, the polenta got really dry and nasty so if I did this again, I’d cover it with al-foil or put Parmesan cheese in the polenta.

black bottom cupcakes

These cupcakes are amazing. Maybe a bit time consuming as there is some layering involved, but it's well worth it. They have a not-too-sweet chocolate bottom/base and a light cheesecake top with butter icing. YUM!

I made these cupcakes for the restaurant opening of one my mother's friends. It was the first time when I had to make a mass amount of cupcakes for strangers. People loved these cupcakes and one lovely lady asked for the recipe. She also jokingly asked me to cater for her next event - I was secretly really excited about this and for a second, thought about dropping out of Honours to follow in my father's footsteps... ANYWAY...
Black bottom cupcakes
1 1/4 cups plain flour
3/4 cup castor sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp bicarb
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 vege oil
60g butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup choc chips (optional)

200g cream cheese
1/4 cup Castor sugar
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Line cupcake tins
2. In a large bowl, mix sifted flour, sugar, cocoa, bicarb and salt
3. In a separate bowl, mix together buttermilk, oil, butter, egg and vanilla til well combined
4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add buttermilk mixture. Stir to combine then mix in choc chips
5. To make topping, beat together cream cheese, sugar and egg.
6. Spoon batter into prepared tins then cover with cream cheese topping.
7. Bake up to 20 mins.
8. Meanwhile make butter icing. (n.b. I didn't include the ingredients/method for this because it varies every time I do it and depends on the weather/quality of butter/icing sugar...)

recipe altered from Baking Bible by Penguin Books

*Instead of using buttermilk, you can get a cup of low fat milk and add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Let it sit until it curdles. Voila!
*In this recipe, there is a low ratio of cream cheese topping to the black bottom. I'd say its like 1:3 respectively. Increase the indicated portion in the recipe, if you like.
*The amount of icing I put on the cupcakes was a bit much... If you aren't horrified about how ugly the cupcakes turn out to be, don't bother with any icing (trust me, they are a bit lopsided when they come out of the oven because the black bottom bubbles through the cream cheese top)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Vday & Lemongrass Thai

OMG, I just realised the impossibility of the task of posting up every single picture that I've ever taken of food. One can at least try...
What IS that? These are roasted figs and pistachio cream from Lemongrass Thai in Woden. They are in a takeaway container hence the slightly demented look. Unfortunately these belonged to someone else so I didn't get a taste.

Context: When the grad program started, I was determined to gather people together for Valentine's day, which was the first day of the second week. In hindsight, it's pretty daring in orientation week to ask at least one person on almost everyday to 'spend valentines day with me'... We did a 'secret valentines' thing, which was like 'secret santa' where we'd give a present to a secret someone in the group and that person would do the same with a secret someone else. I'm not great at explaining things, but i hope you get it.
Rationale: I have the most fun on Vday when I'm spending it with my friends, so I organised a large dinner at the local Thai Restaurant.

The food?: Tbh, the Thai food wasn't great and I probably wouldn't go there again. However, it does satisfy cravings for a decent pad Thai, and I'm happy with that.

During a post-drunken binge, my friends and I went to the Lemongrass Thai in the Canberra city and had a black sticky rice dessert, which I thought was fabulous. Although it was very sweet, it reminded me of the desserts my mum would cook at home after dinner :). This, I would highly recommend (and it was pretty too!)
And chilli prawns...And the evidence..
Lemongrass Thai @ Civic, Woden & Tuggeranong

frozen custard?

I'm currently at home sick as I am feeling dizzy and getting some cold sweats... anyway, yesterday i was craving ice cream, so I thought I'd dedicate this post to when my grad friends and I went to Goodberrys in Canberra. Goodberrys markets itself on selling 'frozen custard' and its assortment of flavours. Well this supposed 'frozen custard' was just ice cream. It wasn't some sort of marketing scam, but technically, ice cream is made from a custard base, flavouring and frozen. So 'frozen custard' is a selective breakdown of ingredients essential to an ice cream store, just like how a pizza restaurant is 'flour and cheese'... except the first description is more enticing.
The ice cream was okay. Above, you can see:
*Butterscotch Fudge & Macadamias: you'd like it if you enjoy eating butterscotch flavouring in copious amounts
*Sundae with a (hidden) fudge brownie, hot chocolate fudge & flake: my personal favourite

and i think:
*Nutty Professor Oreo & Peanut Butter Fudge
*Cookies 'n' Cream Oreo & Choc Fudge

2/20 Gartside St
Wanniassa ACT 2903

Thursday, May 26, 2011

hello canberra & biscotti

In the first few days of moving to Canberra I caught up with Bec at the Silo Bakery in Kingston (Canberra). While I was glad to see a familiar face J, I was keen to visit this renowned bakery, which people have claimed to be ‘one of the best’ in Canberra. The bakery is in the Kingston shops area, near a bar frequented by APS people – The Kennedy Room. There was a well-to-do vibe in the bakery and this was matched by the lovely staff.

Anyway, the FOOD – they had a limited menu for afternoon tea (in comparison to my Sydney standards). I had a freshly squeezed juice (passion fruit, pineapple and something or rather) which I thought was a bit overpriced ($7-10ish). I also got a bag of biscotti which had fennel, walnut and raisin in it (also around $7-10, overpriced again). The biscotti was unique as it had fennel in it and the combination was pretty unique too, but it wasn’t amazing and I probably wouldn’t buy it again. After all, biscotti isn’t hard to make.
On a non-food note: I am enjoying Canberra (shock-horror to my Sydney friends!). Compared to some of the larger cities in the world, I am happy (enough) with the size of Canberra – I like not being overwhelmed with the crazy amount of things to do. Most importantly, the people are lovely.

However, I DO miss Sydney (people) – I miss my friends and the quirky, weird and philosophical conversations that we have. I miss the galleries, art and festivals. And I miss the eclectic range of eateries, restaurants, cafes and my mum’s cooking!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

linseed and fig muffins

When I came back from overseas in January 2011, I realised that I had an expensive packet of linseeds near expiry. At the same time, the fridge at home collapsed so we had to transfer all our fridged food into the freezer and I was packing old pantry items for Canberra. I had linseeds, dried figs and hazelnuts that all needed to be used – stat – so I made cupcakes using these as core ingredients. Here they are:
The result was a wholesome healthy sweet treat, but they were a bit dry - because we left it in the oven for a bit too long. I had to quickly leave the kitchen as I was catching up with my friends before I left for Canberra so my family was responsible for the oven. 17 minutes is a bit too long for small cupcakes!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

aeroplane food

I recently came back from a 6 week overseas trip to the USA, Europe/UK and Hong Kong - amazing!! So it would only make sense if I started this blog with an entry on aeroplane food...

As a kid, I was a huge fan of aeroplane food. I loved their individualised portions (are all these little containers for meeee??) and that you could get 3 courses on one simple tray. My dad knew that I liked the food so much that he even took home a plastic meal tray from Ansett for me. At home I would place Dupo blocks on this tray (each block representing a meal) and prance around my soft toys giving them Dupo blocks as if I was serving them lunch.

Here's some pictures of my plane food over the years. Pictures were taken from airlines including: Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Thai Airways, Austrian Airlines etc.
Sadly, my naivety of processed plane food flew out the window (no pun intended) in my 2010/11 overseas trip. I thought that it was just my expectations changing – loving all food as a child to having health concerns as a young adult. But no – the food really did get worse. My photographs don’t gives this thought justice but I’ll give it a go:

The ones on the left were eaten in 2008ish and the ones on the right were eaten in 2010/11. Okay, the newer ones look a bit nicer, but the older set of dishes were so much tastier, fresh and used real wholesome ingredients, rather than thickening agents such as corn flour...

Nevertheless, I'm still excited about aeroplane food - its a mixed bunch where you can get really nice stuff and the not so nice. I love travelling via cities that I will not actually visit and seeing how the airline tries to pack 'culture' onto a plastic tray, a few containers and carbs :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

welcome to my food blog

Hii everyone!

I've been meaning to create a food blog for about 1 1/2 years but honours and casual work got in the way. So I've finally found some spare time (YES!!)... in between full-time work, editing a 25000 page report for post-uni research, enjoying a grad program, travelling to Sydney and cooking.

What's my motivation for this blog? If you know me, I take an enormous amount of pictures of food and this blog will be the perfect way to show you these pictures and talk about the stories behind them. I don't have an SLR camera but am happy with my compact Canon digital (well, for the moment).

My childhood was filled with food as my parents made a living by running catering companies. My dad always brought restaurant food home, which gave me *constant* access to chips, deep fried fish, dim sims, spring rolls, chicken schnitzels etc. Conversations around the dinner table (if any) would be about the restaurant or the food on the table. I spent many Christmas days working at my parents' restaurant(s) and my family and I frequented restaurants around Sydney. When I was about 14/15, I decorated cakes which were 5 times the size of my face for catering functions.

I frequently get asked... So, what exactly is going to be in your food blog? Daily food musings, reminiscences of food that I saw/ate overseas, critiques of food/places where food is eaten and some recipes (if I'm feeling generous).

What kind of food will you have on your blog? Wholesome or quirky or sweet food. High cholesterol runs in my family so I have to be health-conscious - I'll talk about food which has lots of veges. HOWEVER, I have a sweet tooth like no other and will include baking treats and treats that I eat and see.

Who are you blogging for? I am using this blog for self-expression and creativity sakes, and it is aimed at people who know me - friends in Sydney, Canberra and Europe, family, acquaintances etc. I don't intend for this blog to be available on search engines, to be seen by blog critics overseas and the 'culinary world', but if it happens, so be it.
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