Recent Recipes

Mexican Tortilla Pie

Comments (4) | Thursday, February 26, 2009

I've been craving Mexican food a lot lately. I'm not sure why, but it's always such great comfort food. And since someone smashed into the side of my car just the other day, I was in need a good dose of comfort food.

I found this recipe and it looked like a Mexican lasagne. It looked yummy and easy to make. I couldn't find salsa flavoured tortillas, so i just added salsa when layering the pie.
Serve this with extra salsa instead of tomato sauce and a nice green salad. So so so good!

Mexican Tortilla Pie
Taste Website

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500g beef mince
1 small red capsicum, finely chopped
125g can corn kernels, drained, rinsed
2 teaspoons Mexican chilli powder
415g can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup torn fresh coriander leaves
4 salsa-flavoured tortillas
1 1/2 cups grated tasty cheese
1 large tomato, deseeded, finely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Reserve 2 tablespoons onion. Add garlic and remaining onion to pan. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until soft. Add mince. Cook, breaking up mince with a wooden spoon, for 8 minutes or until browned.

2. Add capsicum, corn and chilli powder. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until capsicum is just tender. Stir in diced tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer, stirring, for 5 minutes or until mixture is thick. Add half the coriander. Season with salt. Stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool.

3. Place a 6cm-deep, 20cm round springform pan on a baking tray. Place 1 tortilla in base of pan. Spread one-third of the mince mixture over tortilla. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of cheese. Repeat layers twice with remaining tortillas, mince mixture and cheese, finishing with 1 tortilla. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

4. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is golden. Set aside for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

5. Meanwhile, combine chopped tomato, reserved onion and coriander in a bowl. Serve pie with tomato mixture.

Serves 4.

Voila! Bon Appétit!

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Eating Out: The Ranges at Olinda

Comments (2) | Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The only brunch I'm familiar with is Yum Cha. I don't normally head out for breakfast, or brunch, but when a friend suggested we do brunch before a movie on Sunday I was a bit dumbfounded. What does one have for brunch? Breakfast food or lunch food? So we drove up to Olinda, part of the popular tourist destination, Mount Dandenong to settle our hungry stomachs.

I've been to The Ranges before for lunch a few times and quite liked it. The bustling cafe is set on the main strip of shops in Olinda but is also set amongst the trees, so it is a perfect for getting away from it all for a lazy sunday brunch.

Salmon Bagel $12.95
Lightly toasted, spread with crème fraiche, smoked salmon, spanish onion and semi-dried tomatoes

I wasn't really craving the sweetness of pancakes, and I've never been a big fan of bacon and eggs, so I opted for something on the "light meals" menu. I hardly ever have bagels, so I snapped up the opportunity to have one here. Just perfection! I couldn't fault it, the serving size was just right too. The salad dressing was even delicious. Just the thing I needed to fill me up and send me on my way.

Ranges Pancakes $10.95
With mixed berries, maple syrup and ice cream

You can also get these with bacon and maple syrup if berries aren't your thing. I did manage to steal a taste of these light and fluffy babies and they were delicious! Not sure if they were fresh or frozen berries, but it didn't matter, they were amazing.

Kransky Sausage $10.95
On toast topped with triple cream brie cheese, house made baked beans and wilted baby spinach

A work of art, just look at it! And house made baked beans, not your standard ones from a can. Nothing but praise was heard about this dish.

Bacon & Eggs with Baked Beans $12.95
On toasted bread - eggs cooked to your liking + baked beans as a requested extra

No complaints here either, a decent serving size to fill you up.

The Ranges at Olinda
5 Main Street, Olinda VIC 3788
Phone: 03 9751 2133
Web: http://www.ranges.com.au/

Ranges at Olinda on Urbanspoon

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Eating Out: Olarndo Thai

Comments (3) | Monday, February 23, 2009

Working in the advertising business, I come across a lot of restaurant menus used for leaflet distribution. We received leaflets for Olarndo Thai quite some time ago, and it looked like a very swish place to have dinner, so I held onto the menu until there was a special occasion. The special occasion was Chinese New Year with my friends, and even though none of them are Chinese, it's a good excuse to get together. However, we agreed on Thai food so we renamed it "Thainese New Year".

Set on the trendy street in Port Melbourne, the place is well signed and has a very pleasant atmosphere. Whilst it is not too busy at 7pm, people tend to drift in later on through the night. I was getting a bit worried as there weren't many people and I had dragged all my friends out, but thankfully at the end of the meal they all agreed it was an excellent choice of restaurant.
The 8 of us sat comfortably around the table provided, although we could have used a little more table space as we got a few dishes to share. I can't review everyone's dishes but I can give you an insight into what I had.

Olarndo Mix - $10
3 of us shared a mixed entree platter. The satay skewers and spring-rolls were nice, but the curry puff was extremely weird. Instead of a chunky savory filling, the filling was a reddish paste that was very sweet.

Pad Thai $15.50
Flat rice noodles stir fried with chicken, prawns, eggs, tofu, bean sprouts, tamarind and ground peanuts in our special sauce (this is by far our most popular dish)

Just delicious! One of the best I've had since being in Thailand. The only problems: the lemon wedge was too small and the noodles were too long. Minor details but the taste was superb. The table ordered 2 Pad Thai and everyone had good things to say about it.

Pad Met $14.50
Chicken stir fry with roasted chilli paste (mild), onion and cashew nuts

A request from one friend because he was interested to try the "roasted chilli paste" that was stated in the description. Definitely a winner, full bodied flavour, not hot but just perfect.

Gang Dang $14.50
Thai red curry with bamboo shoots, vegies and sweet basil with a choice of chicken or beef

Very similar to a Massaman curry. The bamboo shoots resemble egg noodles. Plenty of meat to go around in the thick, creamy coconut based sauce. Very good with coconut rice or with Pad Thai (if you feel like mixing up the flavours a little).

Gado Gado - a vegetarian's delight!

Staff were attentive, the food was amazing, and the prices were extremely reasonable. A good selection for vegetarians, not seen on the website menu. You can BYO or order from the extensive wine list.

The funky fork, heavy but pretty!

Olarndo Thai
321 Bay Street
Port Melbourne VIC 3207

Phone: 03 9646 2690


Olarndo Thai on Urbanspoon

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Eating Out: Goshen

Comments (2) | Tuesday, February 17, 2009

As I've mentioned before, my friends and I get together every now and then for an "International Cuisine Night".

We originally planned to go Lebanese, but the place we wanted to try had a $50 minimum per person on a Saturday night. With most of us on a budget we said "screw you!" and looked for a much cheaper option.

Korean was the cuisine of choice, and a quick scour of The Age website and we decided to try a place called Goshen.
I was quite excited at the chance to try Korean food again, as I had tried it when I was over in Perth. Possibly even try Korean BBQ if anyone else wanted to try it with me.

We arrived and were greeted pleasantly by a waiter and were promptly shown our table.
First impressions were good, the atmosphere was nice, the place was clean and filled with lots of people eating away.
We received complimentary water and received our menus. The menu didn't have much variety though. It was practically the same dish but with a different type of meat, weather it be chicken, beef, prawns, etc. We even had trouble differentiating between half the stuff on the menu.

I was quite eager to try "Bibimbap" after seeing Food Safari.
Wikipedia defines Bibimbap as: is a popular Korean dish. The word literally means "stirred/mixed rice" or "stirred/mixed meal." For a full description go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibimbap

However, when we received it, it was nothing like what I was expecting. It was more simplified for the Australian pallet it would seem. It was tasty, but I was expecting more vegetables and the egg on top.

The other dish which was chicken in a hot pot with vegetables was rather tasty. Not sure if was traditional Korean but it was good. The only difference between this and the Bibimbap was this didn't have rice.

The vegetarians however we extremely impressed with their tofu-salad. The presentation was even a work of art.

The Kimchi pankcake seemed to be the only thing that had Kimchi in it, despite Kimchi being the most popular side dish in Korea. Some people can't even eat a meal without having Kimchi to accompany it.
This was brought to the table and cut like a Margarita pizza in front of us. It apparently was pretty bland, and non spicy.

If you are looking for authentic Korean, I doubt you are going to find it here. They don't even have Korean BBQ which I thought was standard in Korean restaurants. Prices are reasonable, service is about average. We had to chase up 1 dish that seemed to have gotten lost.

Bookings however I assume are essential. Probably good for people who want to ease their way into Korean cuisine.

189 Smith St, Fitzroy

Goshen on Urbanspoon

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Ricotta, Tomato & Basil Torte

Comments (3) | Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Day... a load of rubbish if you ask me! I spent the evening with my man and some of my closest friends at a free Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performance at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

We had an excellent time, hogged a bit too much of the grass, and ate way too much.
We all brought along something to share. Iron Chef David with the help of Iron Chef Jason brought along an amazing dips and cheese spread. That's my man, Iron Chef Rob wearing a toe guard napkin so he didn't dip his feet in the food!

I made a ricotta, tomato and basil torte found on the Taste website. Iron Chef Jason has gone on record for saying "best tart ever". Not only does it look impressive, it tastes delicious too! Recipe is posted below for you all.
Perfect for picnics or lazy lunches in summer. Pre-cut made it easy and mess free.

Then during the interval we enjoyed some dessert.
Heart shaped cookies from Aldi, famously seen on Not Quite Nigella's blog last year. I wanted to do the cupcakes but I just didn't have time between work and going out.
And a little something special, heart shaped fruit on the fruit kebabs.

Ricotta, Tomato & Basil Torte
Taste Website

Prep Time: 25-85 mins
Cooking Time: 60 mins

Olive oil, to grease
500g fresh low-fat ricotta
100g creamy feta, crumbled
3 eggs
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked, finely shredded
375g grape tomatoes, halved
Fresh basil leaves, extra, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly brush a 22cm (base measurement) springform pan with oil to grease. Release the base from the pan. Place a sheet of non-stick baking paper over the base allowing the sides to overhang. (This makes the tart easier to remove once cooked). Secure the base back into the pan.

2. Use an electric beater to beat the ricotta, feta, eggs and garlic in a bowl until smooth. Stir in the basil. Transfer the ricotta mixture to the prepared pan and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface.

3. Arrange the tomato, cut-side up, on top of the ricotta mixture. Bake in oven for 1 hour or until set and golden. Set aside to cool completely. Place in the fridge for 1 hour or until firm.

4. Release the base from the pan. Use the paper to slide the torte onto a serving plate. Top with extra basil leaves to serve.

Serves 8.

Voila! Bon Appétit!

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Chinese New Year - Feast 2

Comments (0) | Sunday, February 15, 2009

Well I officially started my new year's resolutions after the 2nd feast that was Chinese New Year!

Every year my aunty/godmother cooks up a massive feast for a massive group of people. This year she catered for about 16 people.
I must learn her recipes so that one day I can try to recreate "The Feast".

To wet the pallet we had fried wontons. Everyone's favorite, a nice little snack food with a delicious filling.

First up we enjoyed shark fin soup. Most of us had 2 bowls since we only really get this one a year unless you go to a restaurant for it.

Second was the tossing of the Yusheng, new year salad. Nice and refreshing, we had ALOT to go around.

Third up the quails! The main event of the dinner, with my dad cracking the same lame jokes, and fighting over the last one. They are accompanied by a salt and pepper mix to dip you bite size pieces of quail in. So delicious, this recipe I must get!

There was also these yummy prawns and roast pork belly.

Just when you thought you were full, out comes the lobster noodles.

Then dessert. What feast would be complete without dessert?
Mum made a cheesecake and we had lots of fresh seasonal fruit including lychees and longans.

Once again thank you to my aunty for cooking this feast with one of her nearest and dearest friends helping her out.
We look forward to doing it all again next year!

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Please Donate!

Comments (3) | Monday, February 9, 2009

As many of you have heard, we have been having the worst bush fires ever. The death toll is rising, hundreds of people have lost their homes and everything they have worked so hard to enjoy. It was all burnt in just a few moments and now they are left with nothing but the clothes on their own back. Some people have even lost loved ones which is the most devastating thought of all.

These are some images from The Age. Every time I hear a story on the radio, see it on the TV or read it in the newspaper I am reduced to tears. We all desperately need your help.
This tragedy is said to be worse than the Bali bombings. We wait as the death toll rises and we try to find an answer to why someone would deliberately light a fire.

Cars have been burnt to just the bare shell.

This was taken at Yerring Station, one of my favorite wineries in the Yarra Valley. Now surrounded by black, bare earth.

From the Herald Sun: Peter and Wendy Crooks used almost 40 cans of cola to put out fires in the eaves after their pump failed. They saved their Kinglake home.

To see some of the most amazing pictures of the fire storm click here.

You can donate safely and securely through the Red Cross here. Or you can donate blood, which I will be doing. Anything you can do to help we will all appreciate.
Please be aware of scams and dodgy money collections from people wanting to profit from other's misfortune.

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Easy Pho Recipe

Comments (3) | Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mid week cooking postings have been a bit rare as of late haven't they?
This week I attempted a very easy pho recipe from the new Donna Hay magazine.

I am a big fan of pho as you may remember from my previous pho adventures.

Most recipes I've seen have about 600 different ingredients to get the stock right, where as this one just uses beef stock and a few spices.
It was just way too easy to cook and to have dinner on the table in no time!

Donna Hay did get a few things wrong though in her recipe, in my opinion. She uses only 200 grams of rice stick noodles. The traditional noodle used is the flat rice noodles, and well 200g for 4 people would just be not enough! I used a 375g packet and it was enough for everyone.
She also uses regular basil, when in fact you need to use Thai Basil.

Beef Pho
Donna Hay with Iron Chef Shellie alterations.

375g flat rice noodles (similar to ones used in pad thai)
1.5 litres beef stock or consomme
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 cardamon pod
1 spring onion, cut into 0.5cm pieces (I like to cut mine using scissors)
200g eye fillet, cut paper thin (the best way to do this is to freeze, then cut with a very sharp blade)
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup Thai bail
2 small red chillies, sliced
fish sauce lemon wedges, to serve

I served mine like in the Vietnamese restaurants by letting everyone help themselves to bean sprouts, Thai basil and lemon.

1. Cook the noodles according to packet instructions. Drain and divide between serving bowls.

2. Place the stock, cinnamon, star anise and cardamon in a saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Top the noodles with the spring onion, beef and pour over the stock. The stock will cook the raw eye fillet.

4. Top with the thai basil, bean sprouts and chilli.

5. Add fish sauce and lemon juice to taste.

Serves 4.

Voila! Bon Appétit!

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Eating Out: Little Creatures Brewery - Perth

Comments (4) | Thursday, February 5, 2009

As I mentioned, I have recently been to Perth for a holiday.
My boyfriend had been to Perth 2 years ago and fell in love with a beer called "Little Creatures". He got me onto it and we even ventured down to the Little Creatures dining hall in Melbourne.

Little Creatures Brewery, Fremantle WA

The Little Creatures brewery is located in Fremantle. This is about a 20 minute train trip from the city of Perth. We ended up going twice since we loved the food so much.
Whilst my boyfriend loves the beer, I much prefer the Pipsqueak Cider. It is truly the best cider and I have a t-shirt to prove it!

As it is a dining hall, the atmosphere is pretty laid back, just like most of Western Australia. Waiters and waitresses were more than helpful. The menu was pretty much the same as Melbourne. As it is a seasonal menu I was a bit disappointed the cinnamon doughnuts were not available for dessert.

My favorite side dish / starter was the "frites". Unpeel potato chips, fried and served with a sour cream mayo. So yum!! I'm actually craving these now as I write.

On our first trip we shared a chorizo and sweet corn pizza, and tiger prawns wrapped in proscuitto.

Both were presented so nicely and absoulely delicious!
The pizza base was thin and crispy, and the prawns just melted in your mouth.

The next time down we took my parents down and they also enjoyed the food.

They had the prawn pizza with corriander pesto. I didn't get to try it but it smelt and looked very good!

My boyfriend got the kangaroo skewers I had in Melbourne:

And I had the most delicious chilli tomato mussells you will ever see! (they might not look like much here but they came in thick tomato chilli soup which you could soak up with the bread) The most amazing mussell dish I think I've ever had, other than the prawn and mussell spaghetti my mum cooked up the next evening!

So check it out:

Whether you are in Melbourne or Fremantle, you can "Open Up A Little".

Little Creatures Brewery on Urbanspoon

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