Date Archives December 2010

The gift of food!

My friend Mel once commented that I show people I love them by feeding them. And that’s absolutely true. I love giving food away, and I love putting in effort to tailor it to people’s individual tastes. =) So this year, I made sauces to give away at Christmas! First up, the easiest Raspberry Jam ever!

Raspberry Jam:

1.5 kg raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1.5 kg sugar
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Sterilize your jars how you wish. I wash them thoroughly in hot water, before placing them on a tray in a cold oven and setting the oven to 110C (without fan).

Soften the raspberries in a large pot over low heat, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, put four little saucers in the freezer. Once the berries get going, add the lemon juice.

Once the berries have softened to your liking, add the sugar. Now this is the important bit. Bring it up to the boil and cook the jam, stirring often. DO NOT WALK AWAY, IT WILL BURN. Trust me, I learned that the hard way. :S

Skim off any scum that comes up to the surface with a slotted spoon or a mesh skimmer.

The jam will start to thicken after about 15 – 20 min and this is the point that you start testing for ‘wrinkling’. Take the pot briefly off the heat and spoon a tablespoonful of jam onto a frozen saucer. Place it back in the freezer for 30 sec. Take it out and run your finger through it. If the surface of the jam wrinkles and you can draw a clear line through it, then your jam is done!!

Ladle very careful (it is VERY hot) into sterilized jars and seal. Leave to cool.

1.5 kg of berries yields slightly under 1kg of jam.


Next, homemade Tomato Sauce!

Tomato Sauce

2.5 kg of ripe tomatoes (get the best that you can find)
2.5 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp whole peppercorns
2 tbsp cloves
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp smokey paprika
3 cloves garlic
1 med onion, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
0.5 cup gin/vodka (optional)

Sterilize jars. (See Raspberry Jam recipe)

Roughly chop up the tomatoes and place in a large pot. Place the vinegar in and cook over low-med heat, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, place the cloves and the peppercorn in a piece of muslin and tie with string. Submerge this in the mixture in the pot.

After the tomatoes start to soften, put the rest of the ingredients in and bring to the boil. Then simmer and reduce the sauce slightly. When you are happy with the taste of the sauce, take the spice pouch out. Keep reducing the sauce till you get a thick-ish, lumpy mixture. Take the pot off the heat. Many recipes now tell you to strain out the sauce, but why would you waste all that goodness??? I use a stick blender and carefully blend all the ingredients into a smooth sauce.

Return to the heat bring back to the boil. Ladle into sterilized jars, seal and let cool overnight.


And finally…

Barbecue Sauce

Tomato Sauce
Sweet Chilli Sauce
Brown Sugar
Soy Sauce
Rum (optional)

Sterilize jars. (See Raspberry Jam recipe)

Put all the ingredients into a pot (I used the remainder from my tomato sauce. The amount of each depends on your personal taste.) and reduce to desired consistency, stirring occasionally.

Ladle into sterilized jars, seal and let cool overnight.


Et voila! Three bottles of love to give to your family and friends. And there are plenty of things to gift these with – cheese, barbecue spice mix, an apron…or turn up to a barbecue bearing these and I’m sure they’ll be a hit! Or make Jam Drops with the jam and gift those instead! So many ideas, and so much love. =)

Merry (belated) Christmas everyone, and a happy new year!

On the Sunny Side of the Street

It’s less than a week to Christmas!! In honour of making something festive, I decided that a sunny Christmas-sy breakfast was in order. I present to you:

Sunny Side Up Eggs with Candy Cane Grissini and Cinnamon Salt

Grissini (Recipe below)
Tomato Sauce

The night before, make the grissini and shape them into cane shapes. Meanwhile, make the tomato sheets. Spread the tomato sauce either in a dehydrator, or on a piece of baking paper set over a baking tray. If using the dehydrator, use according instructions. If using the oven, set the oven to a fan-forced 50 degrees. Dehydrate till you can peel the tomato sauce off in a sheet.

Fry the egg (s) in a gingerbread man cookie cutter. Make sure the cookie cutter is stainless steel or can take heat.

Place the egg onto a plate, and wrap strips of prosciutto around the grissini. Carefully cut the tomato sheet into long strips and wind that around the grissini too. Sprinkle with cinnamon and a touch of sea salt.

Et voila! Novelty Christmas breakfast. =)

Grissini Recipe (Tweaked from Group Recipes)

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
100 ml lukewarm water

Mix the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the centre, and add the wet ingredients. Knead till smooth. Cover with cling wrap and set aside in a warm place to rest.

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

When the dough has doubled in size, start rolling out little balls of dough into long strips. Alternatively, you could use a pasta machine and the fettucine cutters to ensure a more accurate end product. Personally though, I prefer having not-so-perfect looking grissini. =)

Bake till crispy and golden brown, and then wrap with tomato and prosciutto!

It really tastes like tomato and bacon on toast haha. Great as an entree. =)

Happy munching!

Birthday Banquet

Last Saturday, my tummy was very happy. Not only was the Sydney Food Bloggers’ Christmas Picnic in the afternoon, I also had a very lovely friend’s 21st in the evening! Awesome food ahoy!

The 21st was held at Emperor’s Choice Restaurant at King’s Street. Now I’ve got this real phobia about eating Chinese food in Sydney – just cause I’ve had quite a few bad rounds of pseudo Chinese food here – but this restaurant just blows my mind every time! The last time we had gathered here was for another friend’s birthday, and I was so surprised that there really was such an awesome place to eat that I missed how exquisite the food really was.

Just as a note, the way Chinese banquets go is that you order loads of food, it comes out one or two dishes at a time and gets placed on a lazy susan in the middle of the table, and then everyone dig in!!

First up was the cold platter of fresh oysters, and salmon and lobster sashimi! This is one of my food dreams come true. The seafood was fresh and succulent, and I think I’ve really developed a taste for lobster sashimi (much to the demise of my wallet).

Then we had little pockets of wonder that were spring rolls. I am though, quite ashamed to say that I was so happy eating them that I forgot to take a moment to discern what was in them. They were really yummy too though!

Then duck! I love duck.

The poultry equivalent of red meat, the firm flesh with a layer of crispy skin is accentuated by a tangy plum sauce. Duck’s quite easy to get wrong and overcook, but this was tender and silky – I think I finished a third of the plate myself.

And at every birthday dinner (said in a sage voice) there must be noodles.

The belief is that the long strands of the noodles are for a long life. (The Chinese can put auspicious meaning into any dish.) The soft noodles were matched with coral crab. How awesome is this? Sashimi and crabs in the one meal! I only usually get such a choice at the fish market!

Besides the noodles, you gotta have rice of course.

The fried rice with bits of tender tender beef was not too oily, and went so well with the salt and pepper squid and eggplant dish that I unfortunately didn’t manage to get a decent photo of!! =( The salt and pepper dish had little fluttery feathers of seaweed that I eagerly heaped onto my rice and mixed in for that extra crunch.

There was also the succulent wagyu beef on a bed of sugarsnap peas. I know it’s not the healthiest thing, but oh how I love fat in my meat. I’m sorry, but lean meat really doesn’t do much for me. Must. Have. Fat.

The dark, juicy pieces of meat coupled with the crunch and the sweetness of the sugarsnap peas was a party in my mouth, but nothing can compare to the dish that was to come…

The Shandong chicken is Emperor’s Choice Restaurant’s signature dish (招牌菜 for those of you who know mandarin). Juicy pieces of chicken are drenched in a tangy, spicy…heavenly sauce. The mild spice from the chilli stimulates your taste buds while the tang moves in for it’s delicious attack. The soft meat and the crispy skin joins in the melodious harmony of tastes and textures as flavours explode in all directions.


The last time I came here was for another friend’s birthday, and this dish has haunted my dreams ever since. I would definitely go back there just for this, if nothing else.

And what’s a birthday dinner without fish?

Oh how I’ve missed a whole fish steamed to perfection. Not that there’s anything wrong with fillets, but sometimes you just want to taste the soft flaky sweetness of a fish that is served off the bone. I really regret wolfing down my bowl of rice and not keeping it so that I can drizzle the sauce that the fish is cooked in over it. And the best part is that you’re assured the freshness of the fish too. Fish that is not fresh definitely cannot stand up to the delicate process of steaming, and that this beautiful fish was soft and had no fishy smell was a testament to the freshness of it.

It was such a good dinner, and of course, watching your friend turn 21 is such a joyous occasion. I especially recommend eating here during celebratory occasions – you’ll have excellent food memories to accompany the memories of whatever you’re celebrating.

Food and friends – isn’t that what life is all about?

We ate at:
Emperor’s Choice Restaurant
147 King Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
(02) 9232 1881

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Sydney Xmas Food Blogger’s Picnic 2010

Camembert with Cranberry Sauce and Walnuts from Georgia at Bakery Bookery.

The Sydney Food Bloggers’ Xmas Picnic 2010 was such a blast! It was such a lovely feeling to unwind for an afternoon – especially when that new job has me so beat all the time! It was just food and friends, and a much-appreciated chance to chill out.

Orange and pistachio cupcakes from Angie at Angie Lives to Eat.

Mini chocolate Christmas puddings from Vivian at Vxdollface.

 Chicken drumlettes from Josh and his mom at Belly Rumbles.

 Strawberry Santas from Ayana at Absolutely Ayana.

Springrolls from Julie at I Dream in Chocolate.

Salmon Quiche from Clarissa at Eat My Shots.

Slow Cooked Ribs from Billy at A Table for Two.

Macaron tree from Cleony at I eat sweet.

Pork and Brie rissoles from Simon at The Heart of Food.

And then there was the Kris Kringle!! Everyone had to bring a gift worth not more than $10, and contribute them to the pile. I contributed some homemade jam (which I had second thoughts about after I saw all the other cooler things that came out of the pile) that Peter got. I’m so glad that he liked it! =)

There were also Ninjabread cookie cutters that everyone fought over.

Thanks to Chocolatesuze and Grabyourfork for organizing!! I had a lovely time. =)

P.S. Sorry for the rather taciturn post. I was just really exhausted for the most of it. Also sorry that I don’t have everyone’s dishes down pat!! If you’d like to pop me an email or a comment ‘claiming’ your dish, please do and I’ll make the edits. Thanks guys!

Masterchef Live!

Yep, I went to Masterchef Live. After going to Taste Sydney and having such a ball of a time, I thought that it would be fun doing Masterchef.

There was two ‘parts’ to the festival – the ‘show’ part where they do a pressure test ‘live’ and so on, and the festival bit (which is the bit I really love) where you get to see people hawk their wares and try lots of food!!

But first the show.

Matt Preston does his best Zoolander in his Christmas suit.

George Calombaris gets really really excited.

I LOVE Matt Preston’s shoes.

The show was alright – some audience participation in some Masterchef activities, talking with a couple of Junior Masterchef contestants, etc. Nothing too exciting unless you’re an avid Masterchef fan.

But now the fair!!! I tried some lovely cheddar from Ashgrove Tasmanian Farm Cheese.

There was a guy at the booth that I had a really lovely chat with about aging cheese and the different kinds of cheddar. I love cheese. hehe.

Then there was another lovely man from Yael’s Cakes of Distinction.

There was a selection of cakes to sample – Fruit Cake, Chocolate Brownie and Lemon Flan.

The Fruit Cake was moist but relatively light. Great fruit cake, but not particularly special.

The chocolate brownies were divine. Dark and succulent, with a nutty crunch. Yum.

The Lemon Flan was light and fruity, and not too tart. I like too.

Springbok had a selection of biltong for sale.

The mango and chilli wagyu was the most memorable of the lot – the gentle heat of the chilli and the lasting sweetness of the mango laced through chewy dried meat. This is a good one to look out for.

Ocello had a nice selection of cheeses from which to try, including buffalo cheese parmasan!! =) Much ‘drier’ cheese than I’m used to, but a deeper flavour.

The best part of the day really had to be the hands on knife skills and flambe class that was run by the Cheeky Food Group!

Here are the lovely Leona and Daniel who were our instructors of the day – they talked us through proper chopping skills and we even got to flambe our food!!!

And look what I made!

Chicken and capsicum flambe-ed with Malibu Rum, with some coconut milk and chilli. It was so good, I really hate capsicum, but I think that I’d actually eat it in this.

All in all it was a really good day – there was so much free food that I didn’t have to eat anything else all day! I love food, even better if it’s free. (Don’t knock free food okay, you get heaps of variety and often the best of what people have to offer.) 

I’m so going again next year – anyone want to go with me?


With all the hype about gourmet burgers going around, Sean and I decided to visit Grill’d one afternoon. Rather than gourmet ingredients like some of the other restaurants, Grill’d’s thang was healthy burgers!

To be honest, the idea didn’t exactly appeal to me at first. If you’re going to eat a burger, then why bother with healthy right?

Well the food better be good…and to be honest, it was. I expected dry, flavourless, tiny-portioned burgers, but instead I got yummy juicy burgers that didn’t feel heavy on the tummy at all!!

I got the Hot Mama ($11.90). It had a beef patty, roasted peppers, dill pickle, tasty cheese, tzatziki, salad, and a spread of harissa.

There was a choice of sourdough and wholemeal, and I couldn’t not choose the sourdough could I? =)

I really really loved the juiciness of the patty, and the hit of chilli and the end. I could’ve done with more harissa, but I think that the staff probably thought that killing the customer with chilli wasn’t a good idea. I personally thought that the dill pickles really brought it all together, and Sean (who is not a pickle fan BY FAR) thought so too. The sourdough was a bit over-toasted for my liking, but it’s still a really good burger.

Sean had the Almighty ($12.50) with a beef patty, tasty cheese, bacon, free-range egg, beetroot, salad, relish and herb mayo and he chose the wholemeal bun.

And…well it’s AWESOME! It’s just so moreish that you want mouthful after hearty mouthful. Again, it doesn’t sound like a particularly “gourmet burger” – you could probably make a similar burger at home – but it’s really nice to go out and be able to have something so comforting and not feel awful about yourself after.

We realise then that the wholemeal took to the toasting a lot better.

Also, what’s burgers without chips yes?

We ordered a large side of chips with all three sauces: Sweet Chilli Mayo, Herbed Mayo, and Tomato Relish ($0.75 each). We didn’t feel the mayos so much, but the Tomato Relish was DA BOMB. Awesome shizzle. It had just the right amount of tartness and depth, and wasn’t just plain and boring like tomato accompaniments usually are. Good stuff.

I also really liked that you could see all the ingredients at the counter too! Makes me feel like I know where (kinda) my food is coming from. Haha.

All in all, it was a really good experience. The food was good, if a bit pricey – there aren’t any magical, exotic ingredients – but I think the price is well worth while because 1) it’s in the city, all food would cost you that much and 2) it’s comfort food that doesn’t leave you feeling awful about yourself afterward.

Oh and the staff! The staff truly made it all a lovely day. The guy who was serving us at the counter looked truly happy to be there, and was great about making sure we were having the best time possible.

There is a downside though – and it’s a small one or a big one depending on your dietary habits. They have gluten free buns available (yay!) and the menu tells you how to make it a gluten free burger. Great! BUT their gluten free buns are toasted in the same toaster that toasts the regular buns, so it might just have some gluten in it. Really? Then what’s the point of the gluten free buns right? It’s quite annoying cause I can’t really bring my celiac friends there, but otherwise, it’s a good place to go.

We ate at:

Darling Harbour
100 Murray Street
Sydney 2000

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Just a quick one…

…to say that I’ve got a new job!! =) At a kitchen store. How awesome is that? Sure, it’s retail, but thinking of recipes all day while being surrounded by anything you could want in your kitchen is AWESOME!

And 3 more sleep to the Annual Food Bloggers’ Christmas Picnic! Have you registered? I’m bringing cheesebread, anything else anyone wants me to bring? =) I’d be happy to oblige.

Tag, you’re it!

Photo by the00rig

I’ve been tagged!! Thanks to Gourmet Getaways for the tag! So first, the questions:

1. List five foods you could you never bring yourself to eat?

Fresh capsicum. Roasted is okay on occasion, but nothing Iron Chef Chairman Kaga style. Nope. Everything else I’m open to.

2. Share your happiest food memory.

Eating Haagen Dazs ice cream with my dad. My mom was overseas, so he set up the movie projector to project onto the ceiling above my parents’ bed, and we ate ice cream and watched Stargate together. =)

3. What would be your most embarrassing fashion moment?

Oh gawd. My entire teenagehood. 

4. Finish this sentence, “It drives me mental when….”

I’m craving something and I can’t justify getting it. 

5. Finish this sentence, “There is nothing better in life than…”

Falling asleep knowing that if something happens while you’re out, someone will be there to take care of you. 

6. You find a magic lantern and are granted one wish from the Genie of the lamp, what would your wish be?

I wish that my mother can retire in any lifestyle of her choosing, and that I can earn enough to financially support her in whatever she chooses to do. 

7. If you had one hour of invisibility what would you do?

I would go to a Michelin Star kitchen during dinner hour and just watch.

8. What made you decide to share your life with the world via a blog?

Well, I like experimenting with food, talking about food, reading about food… and I thought that someone out there might be interested in reading about my experiences too. =) 


And now it’s my turn!!

First the bloggers:

Rosalind from Rasa Rosa
Simon from The Heart of Food
Anita from No Red Meat
Julie from I dream in chocolate
Celeste from Berrytravels

Now the questions:

1. If the world’s supply of food was due to die out, what 3 ingredients would you save?
2. If you were to host a themed party, what theme would you set?
3. Who – alive or dead – would you want to share your last meal with?
4. What is your absolute comfort food?
5. What is the most useful tool in your kitchen?
6. When did you first realise that food had a special place in your heart?
7. Aliens have landed and there is a world summit to introduce them to the wonders of Earth. You have been invited to the potluck party. What do you bring?
8. If your kitchen was on fire, what is the one thing you’d save?

=) Hope it wasn’t too random!

Get Egg-cited!

Yeah so the title’s a bad pun – but you try punning “aubergine”! haha.

I love marinaded eggplant, but sheesh are they expensive! So I decided to make my own. I saw the instructions in a magazine somewhere, but I’m really doing this from memory, and you can add whatever spices you’d like too.

Marinaded Eggplant:

Red Wine Vinegar/ Apple cider vinegar
Olive Oil
Whole Black Peppers
Dried Chilli Flakes

So, grab your eggplant and slice it. Half a centimetre is good, but if you like it chunky you can go a bit thicker.

I also sliced them horizontally instead of longways because I like smaller chunks to put on platters, and I find that it’s way easier to cut them before rather than after.

Then line a colander with paper towels, and then line that with eggplant. Sprinkle liberally with salt, then repeat with paper towels and eggplants.

Leave for 6hrs or overnight. Then make a one to one mixture of vinegar plus water, and gently poach the eggplant in batches.

Drain on more paper towels, then place in a single layer in a pan (or griddle if you have one – a griddle will give you the lovely chargrill marks) on high heat and grill till brown.

Meanwhile, crush some garlic. You want them just lightly crushed to leech the garlic flavour into the oil, but not into a paste.

Layer eggplant, garlic, whole black peppers, and some (very little!) rock salt in a sterilized*, heat proof container.

Jars and glassware works really well. Then just heat up some olive oil and pour over the eggplant! The hot oil will get the flavours in the jar to meld and be really yummy.

You can use all sorts of spices – cardamom, fennel and tumeric is next on my list to try.It is a bit finicky, and uses a lot of kitchenware, but I assure you that the result it worth it!

*To sterilize glassware, wash in warm soapy water, then place in a 100C oven till dry.