It Just Has To Be Delicious

Archive for December, 2012

Mr Munchies Sushi Mount Lawley

I was very keen to try out this new sushi bar in Mount Lawley – everybody seems to be talking about it. I am still lamenting the management change that happened to Yuzu just around the corner – and since the ‘old’ Yuzu went, I have missed good quality, exciting, consistent sushi.

Mr. Munchies Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The reservation was quite difficult – the staff did not seem to understand me, but I managed to make a reservation eventually – good job that I did because it is a very small place. It is not really a place to linger – very canteen style, and they serve you quickly to maintain a good turnover of customers. You can invent your own sushi, but I decided to choose from the menu.

Kara-age chicken

Kara-age chicken

Tuna and avocado roll

Tuna and avocado roll

Spider roll with soft shell crab

Spider roll with soft shell crab

The portions were generous, and I found them difficult to eat. I like my sushi portions to be a mouthful – if I have to bite into them they invariably fall apart and make a mess on the plate.

I liked the variety too – it annoys me when sushi bars serve mainly salmon and cooked tuna.

The sushi was nice, but nothing outstanding, and certainly not good enough to have me trekking back to Mount Lawley on a regular basis like Yuzu used to.

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Pan Pacific Hotel, Marina Bay, Singapore

This post is not really a recipe or a restaurant recommendation – it’s a suggestion of something brilliant to do.

If like me, you want to do something different for Christmas, or something special for a birthday, go to Singapore – don’t just stay in any hotel, stay in a nice hotel like the Pan Pacific, and then don’t just stay in a regular room, stay in a Pacific Room. Now before you gasp and say ‘too extravagant’, here are some reasons of how it can turn out to be both special and affordable.

1. Book in advance – you get the best flight deals this way, and join the airline loyalty scheme so that you can get some free flights or benefits later (even if you fly only once with a particular airline, you can sometimes reap the benefits – I flew once with Emirates and ended up with a $50 gift voucher). Join every free airline loyalty scheme going.

2. Join the hotel loyalty scheme too – in this case GHA Discovery. I joined the hotel scheme before booking – it was free – and then managed to get a special deal of 4 nights for the price of 3 – an immediate saving of hundreds of dollars.

3. With the money that you save by getting a free night – upgrade to a Pacific room. It’s well worth it. You get champagne breakfast included every day, either in the main restaurant, your room, or on the Pacific Club Floor. The Pacific Club Floor is circular – you get 360 degree views of Singapore, the staff know your name, and they can not do enough to help you. You can choose from the breakfast buffet or order anything you like. The breakfast buffet includes breads, pastries, dumplings, Japanese fish and noodles, hams, cheeses, yoghurts, cereals, freshly squeezed juices, and you can order cooked breakfast to your liking. The club rooms also include afternoon tea with sandwiches and cakes between 3pm and 5pm, and canapes and cocktails between 6pm and 8pm. Basically, you can fill up on the 3 complementary Pacific Club sessions, and then you don’t need to spend much on eating out – just some hawker food will usually suffice. The evening canapes are particularly nice and very cheffy, and usually include 4-6 different savouries with another 4 dessert options. The wait staff keep your glass topped up too, and it is quite easy to drink a whole bottle of champagne (Mumm Cordon Rouge) and a few Singapore Slings.

4. In addition to the complementary Pacific Floor dining options, all soft drinks in your room are included, as well as 2 laundry items per day, you get a Nespresso machine in the room, free wi-fi internet access, secretarial services, and a 24 hour butler service. Like me, you may be a little embarrassed to call on the butler, but they are perfectly happy to make restaurant reservations, unpack your case, run you a bath etc. The room will be serviced several times per day – so after your morning shower, you will be given fresh towels for the evening. The bath toiletries are Elemis, and the shower has a ‘side shower’ option as well as the normal ‘shower from above’ version. It really is very luxurious.

5. So by upgrading to a Pacific Room, you save lots of money on food and drinks. Marina Bay is fairly central to a lot of attractions like the Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Esplanade, The Flyer, Orchard Road, and is walking distance to an MRT station.

Nespresso machine in pacific room

Nespresso machine in pacific room

View from the Pacific floor

View from the Pacific floor

Orchard Road Christmas lights

Orchard Road Christmas lights

Pan Pacific – Pacific Floor goodies:

Champagne at the Pacific floor

Champagne at the Pacific floor

Singapore Sling

Singapore Sling

Chicken tikka ball with mint yoghurt sauce

Chicken tikka ball with mint yoghurt sauce

Spring rolls and spicy indian potato patty

Spring rolls and spicy indian potato patty

Oreo cheesecake, raspberry meringue, chocolate orange cake, blueberry tart

Oreo cheesecake, raspberry meringue, chocolate orange cake, blueberry tart

Papaya salad in shooter glass, spring rolls and salmon with caviar

Papaya salad in shooter glass, spring rolls and crispy pork

Panko prawn

Panko prawn

Soft shell crab

Soft shell crab

Pear and caramel tart, strawberry macaron, strawberry cheesecake, apricot tart

Pear and caramel tart, strawberry macaron, strawberry cheesecake, apricot tart

Salmon quiche, prawn with mango salsa, tuna on pumpernickel, scallop

Salmon quiche, prawn with mango salsa, tuna on pumpernickel, scallop

Prawn with mayo

Prawn with mayo, tuna on pumpernickel, fish ball with wasabi

Raspberry danish, chocolate danish, pain au chocolat

Raspberry danish, chocolate danish, pain au chocolat

Trout with wasabi, pork

Trout with wasabi, pork, tuna and sweetcorn tart

Other good food in Singapore:

Chocolate and peanut butter and peanut butter and jelly at Twelve Cupcakes

Chocolate and peanut butter and peanut butter and jelly at Twelve Cupcakes

Satay from Boon Tat Street (Lau Pa Sat) - Best Satay stalls 7 and 8

Satay from Boon Tat Street (Lau Pa Sat) – Best Satay stalls 7 and 8

Satay from Boon Tat Street

Satay from Boon Tat Street

Apple pancake dessert from TWG tea shop

Apple pancake dessert from TWG tea shop

Iced hibiscus tea from TWG tea shop

Iced hibiscus tea from TWG tea shop

Satay from Gluttons bay hawker market

Satay from Gluttons bay hawker market

Gluttons Bay (Esplanade)

Gluttons Bay (Esplanade)

Best fried kway teow from Raffles City food mall (The Food Place)

Best fried kway teow from Raffles City food mall (The Food Place)

Grown-up Chocolate Bars

Making your own chocolate bars is so easy, and you can guarantee that your guests will love them.

Home made chocolate bars

Home made chocolate bars

The recipe here is for adult chocolate bars with dark chocolate and salty peanuts – but if you really can’t bear to go without milk chocolate, you can make them with milk, just use less butter otherwise they will be really soft. You can vary the fillings to suit your taste, I like glace cherries in mine, but you can also use crystallised ginger, caramelised nuts, slices of Cherry Ripe, M&Ms etc.

Recipe:

250g dark chocolate (try to use at least 70% cocoa) in small pieces

5 tablespoons butter (or dairy free spread)

2 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 to 2 cups of salted peanuts (the salt is essential – it brings out the flavour of the chocolate)

1 small pack of glace cherries

270g Crunchie bars or honeycomb chopped into small pieces

In a double boiler (or a bowl over a saucepan of water), melt the chocolate, butter and honey together. Do this gently and if you are using a bowl over water, don’t let the bowl touch the water.

While this is happening line a standard loaf tin with baking parchment. If you don’t have a loaf tin, you can use any container – a tupperware tub will do.

Put the glace cherries in a sieve and pour boiling water over them to remove the sticky coating. After a few minutes, fun cold water over them to cool them down and dry them off well.

In another bowl combine the peanuts and the honeycomb, then add the glace cherries.

Once the chocolate/butter/honey has melted, take it off the heat and add the nut/honeycomb/cherry mix. Stir well with a spatula.

Transfer to your lined container and pack it down well with the spatula, then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve, remove from the fridge and slice using a very sharp knife.

Chilled bar in the fridge

Chilled bar in the fridge

The bars make a really nice after dinner treat to serve your guests with coffee.

 

Chester’s Restaurant and Vineyard, Swan Valley

I had my first visit to Chester‘s yesterday. I love the Swan Valley – it’s right on our doorstep in Perth, and it has so many cool things to do – you can wine and dine, there are breweries, you can buy German sausages and deli items, you can go cheese tasting, coffee tasting and chocolate tasting, and you can even play crazy golf. I haven’t had any really good wines in the Swan Valley – they all seem a little too acidic for my liking, but I know that they are quite popular, so if anybody can give me some Swan Valley wine recommendations, I would be happy to try them. Chester’s was no exception, we did some wine tasting before dining, and I didn’t find anything that really made me want to buy a bottle.

Chesters Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The occasion was a work Christmas lunch, and there must have been 30 people on our long table. The rest of the restaurant was full – also with work colleagues from other departments, so there were approximately 80 to 100 people to be served. The measure of a good restaurant is one that can serve all of those people a meal that is hot, cooked well and tasty.

I chose the wasabi seafood salad to start which contained poached prawns, scallops, baby octopus and Shark bay snapper with wasabi mayonnaise, some crispy fried whitebait and lime and vanilla infused extra virgin olive oil. This was delicious – a very good start to the meal, and they didn’t skimp on the good ingredients.

Wasabi seafood salad

Wasabi seafood salad

For main I chose the seared and roasted pork fillet with a chestnut and caramelised onion stuffing, a sage and purple potato rosti and apple and verjuice jus. This was accompanied with perfectly cooked mixed vegetables – broccolini, button squash, mangetout, carrots and cauliflower. The pork was very tasty – my only disappointment was the rosti which didn’t go well with the dish – the flavour of the rosti seemed a bit strange.

Roast stuffed pork

Roast stuffed pork

For dessert I chose the sticky date pudding because it had the least amount of dairy ingredients. Sadly I had to give away my sheeps milk yoghurt ice cream, but the pecan toffee sauce was delicious.

Sticky date pudding

Sticky date pudding

Well I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch, and I think that my colleagues did too. The coffee afterwards was also good quality, and they had soy milk for my dairy free diet which I found quite pleasing (not everybody caters for this).

I would be happy to go back to Chester’s, I’ll skip the wine tasting, but I will very much look forward to the seafood salad, which was the star of the three quality dishes that I had.

Matilda Bay Restaurant and Bar, Crawley

Matilda Bay Restaurant is right on the Swan River. It’s a popular area for families with many people jogging, walking dogs and picnicking in the vicinity. The view from the restaurant is lovely – yachts and ducks, with King’s Park and Mounts Bay Road as a backdrop.

Matilda Bay Restaurant & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The thing that immediately struck me was that the service was haphazard. The waitress showed us to our table, only to decide that it wasn’t as expected, and ushered us to an alternative table. We then waited for 20 minutes before being offered a drink. I chose a mocktail (I chose the only one that was compatible with my food intolerances), and my companion chose a mocktail too, explaining that we would not be drinking alcohol. The drinks were nice and well-presented, but the waiter insisted on trying to sell us some wine despite our earlier conversation about not drinking alcohol.

Cranberry and Elderflower mocktail

Cranberry and Elderflower mocktail

When the bread arrived, it was accompanied by butter, which I cannot eat, so I asked for some olive oil instead. Two waiters told me that the olive oil was on it’s way, but it didn’t arrive until I reminded them again, and 20 minutes later, my bread was cold.

The starters were very good.

I had kingfish sashimi with squid noodle salad:

Kingfish sashimi

Kingfish sashimi

My only minor criticism was that there was a bit much of the squid noodle salad. The wasabi was lovely and hot, and the kingfish very fresh.

My companion chose prawns in a chick pea crust with a tomato salad and a spicy aioli:

Chick pea crusted prawns

Chick pea crusted prawns

The prawns could have been a bit larger, but overall it was a very pleasant dish.

For main course I chose a trio of seafood – prawns, marron and crayfish:

Trio of seafood

Trio of seafood

My companion chose a steak – black Angus rump:

Black Angus rump

Black Angus rump

Both main courses were overcooked to some degree. The steak should have been medium rare, but it was more like medium to well done.

The seafood was varied – the prawns were perfect, the marron was nice but not amazing, and the crayfish was overcooked. Such a shame because the cray should have been the star of the dish, and it was a real disappointment.

Matilda Bay need to step up their game if they want my custom again. I am so glad that we had an Entertainment Book Card which gave us 25% discount. I would not have been happy to spend $200 on this meal. The service could be much better, and the chefs need to pay a bit more attention – cooking seafood and steak is not difficult.

Kailis Fish Cafe at Trigg (Trigg Island Cafe)

UPDATE – Kailis Fish Cafe has now permanently closed. A new restaurant called Island Market is located here.

Trigg Island Cafe used to be one of my favourite places. It was fairly expensive, but I liked it because the fish and the ribs were consistently good, and the location is right on the beach which makes it an ideal place to take visitors to watch the sunset while they dine. When it changed to Kailis Fish Cafe, I thought that it might end up being a very canteen style place where you eat the fish and chips out of paper, and that the ambience would be ruined.

Kailis Trigg Beach Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We came here on the off chance one midweek evening, not knowing what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the ambience was not a lot different, and that ribs were still on the menu.

I chose the fisherman’s basket:

Fishermans basket

Fishermans basket

This consisted of scallops, prawns and snapper with chips and pickled onions and a tartare sauce.

It was nice, but not the best I have tasted.

I chose a salad to accompany it which was basic, and also okay:

Salad

Salad

My companion chose ribs which were not a patch on the previous Trigg Island ribs. The ribs had not been marinated long enough and were only half coated in sauce. They were nice but not special.

Ribs

Ribs

The resulting bill was still moderately expensive, and I don’t think I’ll be rushing back. The food was fairly average. I know that I can get better fish and chips and ribs elsewhere.

Dairy Free Chocolate Brownie

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies

I didn’t know if dairy-free chocolate brownies would taste okay, but I made them today and they were rather good.

The dairy item in a ‘normal’ brownie is butter, I replaced the butter with a vegan spread called Nuttelex – which is just emulsified olive oil.

Recipe:

75g plain flour

half a teaspoon of baking powder

a quarter of a teaspoon of salt

160g fine dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70% which is dark enough to be classed as vegan and dairy free)

200g Nuttelex or other non-dairy spread

4 eggs

220g brown sugar (this is half the amount that the original recipe recommended!)

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

Line a 8 inch  (20cm) square cake tin with baking parchment and heat the oven up to 170 deg C.

Melt the chocolate and spread in a double boiler or a glass bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water – don’t let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.

Meanwhile whisk up the eggs, sugar and vanilla in another bowl until foamy and creamy.

Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together in a separate bowl.

When the chocolate and spread has melted, leave it to cool for a while (but don’t let it go hard) about 5 minutes.

Stir the chocolate mixture into the whisked eggs and mix well. Use a spatula to scrape all of the chocolatey mix out – don’t waste a drop.

Now fold in the flour/salt/baking powder gently until it is all combined.

Pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake for approx 35-40 minutes. When done it should be crispy on top, but gooey in the middle although a skewer should come out clean.

Mmmmm – serve warm with a nice cup of tea.

Teriyaki Salmon

Here’s an easy little recipe for a midweek dinner – it is so quick to put together and quite delicious.

Teriyaki Salmon

Teriyaki Salmon

For the marinade mix together 3 tablespoons of mirin, 3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon of caster sugar. This will be enough for 2-3 fillets of salmon. Put your salmon fillets into the marinade about 30 mins before you start cooking, but to be honest, if they only get 5 minutes marinading, they will still taste delicious.

Teriyaki salmon

Teriyaki salmon

Heat a frying pan, and put the fillets in skin side down to allow the skin to crisp up a little. After about 3 minutes, turn the fillets over and add the marinade to the pan. Cook until they are done – I can’t give you an exact time because it depends how big they are, but mine took about 8 mins in total – don’t overcook them – put a knife in to check that the insides are cooked and the fish just gently flakes apart.

Serve with rice and stir fried mixed veg.

Stir fried mixed veg

Stir fried mixed veg

For my veg, I just take a selection of veggies (mushrooms, onion, corn, greens, beans, tomato, pepper etc) – chop them up into pieces that will cook quickly (slice the hard veggies thinly). Heat some oil in a pan with some thinly sliced garlic (one clove will do) – add the veggies in order of hardness – so carrots and peppers first…. tomatoes last. When they begin to soften slightly add a few tablespoons of oyster sauce and a splash of hot water from the kettle. You can also add a splash of shaoxing rice wine if you have some for an added depth of flavour. The water and wine will help to steam the veggies. Stir well to coat the veg with sauce.

 

Prophet Lebanese Cafe, Albany Highway, Vic Park

Everybody I know who has tried the Prophet – likes it. The food is simple, unpretentious, Lebanese, and you get loads of it. You can’t go wrong with the feast – $40 for veggie or non-veggie, and it is an ideal restaurant for people with dietary restrictions. I was first informed of this place by my friend Sue who is vegan non-dairy – so if she can enjoy a meal here with her strict criteria, then I’m pretty sure I can. The only thing on the menu that I couldn’t eat was the yoghurt dip – everything else was ok.

The food is tasty and generous, and the feast consists of bread and dips, tabbouleh, baba ganoush, falafel, pastries containing minced meat and chicken and lamb kebabs. If you go for the veggie option you get stuffed vine leaves, grilled aubergine with yoghurt, bean salad, a lovely grilled cauliflower dish, and some vegetarian dumplings instead of the meat dishes.

The only thing that I don’t really like is the ‘coffee’ that they serve at the end of the meal. I can’t really describe Lebanese coffee – it’s an acquired taste – strong, spicy, minty, aromatic.

The restaurant is BYO and cash only.

The Prophet Lebanese Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Tabbouleh, hummus and baba ganoush

Flat breads

Flat breads

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Dairy free dessert

Can you think of a dairy-free dessert ? It’s a tricky one isn’t it ? There are a few things, but most desserts contain cream, butter, milk etc.

One of my favourite weekend pastimes used to be going out for a coffee and some cake or cake-related dessert, and I used to have the pick of the whole cabinet…. but now, I’m lucky if I can find one thing that satisfies my food intolerance criteria. Even humble carrot cake (if you take the cream cheese off the top) contains carrots – and unfortunately carrots are in my next most serious batch of intolerances behind cow’s milk and guar. This weekend I had a soy iced coffee (no cream or ice cream, another little treat that has been diminished by this bombshell), and the only thing in the cabinet that looked vaguely acceptable was an apple slice – chopped apple filling between two thin layers of pastry – I just had to hope that the pastry wasn’t too butter-rich.

At home when making desserts, butter is ok – I have found Nutelex which is a suitable alternative and seems to be basically olive oil with emulsifiers added. For milk I can use rice milk or soy milk (although soy is something which I am very mildly intolerant to), but cream is a tricky one. Most things that are ‘fake’ cream are either unwhippable or contain guar E412.

So for desserts you really have to think outside the box – and one of the easiest ways to deal with a dairy intolerance is to think “what would the asians do?” because cow’s milk really doesn’t feature that much in asian cuisine. Today I have friends for lunch and this will be the first lunch for friends where I have cooked with non-dairy in mind. It’s okay because my friends are used to my ‘experiments’, but I really want the dessert to be good because Mike loves my desserts. So I thought long and hard and came up with the idea of dairy-free trifle. Sponge fingers – hmm they may contain some butter, but probably not enough to warrant me making my own right now – if I had more time, I would make some using Nutelex. Jelly – tick, dairy-free. Fruit – tick, dairy-free. Custard – oh dear – maybe I should use rice milk, but how do I make a nice rich custard with thin rice milk ? Coconut milk….mmmm…coconut milk custard – can it be done ? I think coconut milk/cream is what asians would use.

Well I did two experiments, first of all, I used the lite coconut milk – one tin with three egg yolks, a splash of vanilla, a third of a cup of sugar and a heaped teaspoon of cornflour. I heated and stirred and stirred and heated….. and it thickened, but didn’t thicken as much as I would have liked. I did the same with a tin of coconut cream and used an extra spoonful of cornflour – and this time it did thicken nicely. Rather than waste the first batch, I whisked it into the second batch, and it seems to have worked quite well and it tastes good too.

So now for the topping to the trifle – traditionally whipped cream – I checked to see if you can whip coconut cream, and yes you can. So the topping is whipped coconut cream with some gluten free amaretti biscuits (oh yes, I am mildly intolerant to gluten too), and some shaved dark chocolate.

Here is the recipe:

Take a nice large bowl, preferably glass, and put some sponge fingers or savoiardi biscuits in the bottom. Splash the biscuits with some sherry or brandy  or any other liqueur you fancy (optional) and then a few tablespoons of fruit juice (juice from canned fruit is ideal – just enough for the sponges to soak up, but not so much that they fall apart).

Now take some fresh fruit (you can mix it up with canned if you like – I put a few canned lychees in mine) – I used strawberries, mango and cherries, and layer the fruit on top of the sponge.

Make up one or two packets of jelly – I needed one and a half packets of strawberry, so I just put the leftover jelly in a separate bowl for evening snacking purposes. When you make jelly you usually add boiling water to dissolve it, and then top it up with cold. When you top it up use really cold water from the fridge so that it cools more quickly, and when it is cold enough (no more than room temperature), pour it over the fruit so that it just covers the fruit and put it in the fridge to set (approx 4-6 hours or overnight).

For the custard, separate 3 large eggs and put the yolks in a bowl. Keep the whites for making meringue later. Whisk a third of a cup of caster sugar in to the eggs and keep whisking until the yolks go pale and creamy, then whisk two large teaspoons of cornflour into the eggs along with a splash of vanilla essence. Heat a 400ml can of coconut cream in a saucepan until almost boiling (you will see the bubbles rising around the edges) – pour the hot coconut milk onto the eggs and whisk them together like mad with a hand whisk – this is a delicate operation, so you may need a helper to pour while you whisk. If you don’t whisk straight away, the milk will cook the eggs and they will go omelettey. Now transfer the contents back to the saucepan and stir constantly while heating. You will feel the mixture thicken as you stir – be patient and heat it gently. When it is a nice custardy consistency, thick and luscious but not gloopy, it is done. Leave it to cool to room temperature, giving it the occasional stir, or if you are impatient like me, cool the saucepan down in cold water (don’t let the water get into your custard though). Gently pour the custard over the set fruit and jelly, and put back in the fridge to set a bit more. If you need more custard, just make a second batch and layer it on top.

Now – the plan was to whisk up some coconut cream with some icing sugar – pipe the cream onto the top and then garnish. My coconut cream didn’t whip very well (it was cold from the fridge, but had formed a few lumps), and it looked a greyish white in colour which was not very attractive – I think that I ended up overwhipping it, so I left it in a bowl on the side for guests to help themselves. I ended up garnishing the custard with grated chocolate and amaretti biscuits.  Garnish with whatever you like e.g. glace cherries, candied peel, sliced almonds, crumbled honeycomb, maple syrup etc.

Coconut Trifle

Coconut Trifle

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Coconut Trifle before the toppings

My finished trifle, no cream but chocolate and amarettis.

My finished trifle, no cream but chocolate and amarettis.

 

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