Date Archives July 2013

Product Talk: Maggi Stir Fry Creations


As part of Product Talk by Nuffnang I was sent some Maggi Stir Fry Creations to try. And we all know how I feel about receiving things in the mail. =)


Each pack comes with two sections: the infusion paste and the finishing sauce. You’re meant to marinate the meat in the infusion paste, then fry off your meat and veggies in the finishing sauce. The idea is that it gives you two layers of flavours, in the most speedy fashion possible.

The back of the packet calls for 500g of meat and about 3 cups of chopped veggies.


I love that the instructions are basically to throw whatever meat and veg in that you have on hand. It’s a great way to clear the fridge, and provides flexibility for whatever is in season. And a great way to get in your 5 fruit and veg in a day! Just fry the veg off in order of hardness to softness, and add the meat. Then the finishing sauce, and you’re done.


The result?

Well, I’m partial to slightly more punchy flavours, so these are a little on the light side for me. I did add a little more chilli and a dash more soy, but I suspect that it’s also because I added extra noodles in. On the whole, it’s a great idea for a super convenient lunch or dinner, especially if you’re not the kind of person to have a pantry cupboard full of random condiments – as I have. And as with anything, it is always easy to tweak things if you’ve got a decent base to start with. And it’s a decent enough base.

It also managed to create a portion that was enough for a big serving for 4, or a medium serving for 6. And with all the veggies I managed to pack in, I was plenty full on a medium serving anyway. Definitely something I would use as a base in a pinch.

Kotlet Burger

I have a new found enjoyment of Persian food. The rice, the stews, the liberal use of turmeric…it all culminates in a beautifully delicious end product that speaks of decades of recipe refinement.

There is one particular recipe that ingeniously uses potatoes, mince, onion and spices to make little patties that are delicious over rice, with a fresh tangy side salad. Kotlets – which to me sound like cutlets – seem like a great way to stretch out the meat supply. I can’t actually find any history on these delicious morsels, but most Persians that I speak to recall these as their childhood favourite.

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What I Ate: Twice Cooked Pork Belly Braise

Here’s the thing with two-person households. You read a recipe that you like, often written for four or six, and then you make it, only to find that even though the both of you are stuffed, there’s still plenty of leftover to go around. Sure, you can halve the recipe, but sometimes that really affects cooking times, and I find it easier just to try and do something interesting with the leftovers!

So if you’ve tried my Slow Roasted Pork Belly recipe and you have leftovers – like I did – here’s something that you can try with them!

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Slow Roasted Pork Belly


Crackling. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like good, crispy crackling. And it’s actually easier to achieve than you would expect. Impressive, because it tastes great and because you have to do a ridiculously small amount of work.


Slow Roasted Pork Belly

600g slab of pork belly

Preheat your oven to 160C (not fan forced. If you’re can’t turn off the fan, I would suggest 140-150C).

Score the pork belly to what your portions would be. I would suggest using a very small paring knife if you have one – you want to score just into the fat but not cut the meat. Rub a little bit of oil – I used just enough for a light coating – onto the pork belly, followed by a generous rub of salt and pepper, making sure you get into the creases. I scattered stripes of flavoured salt from Smoke and Roast that I got from The Good Food and Wine Show, and it gave me interesting bursts of flavour in every piece!

Simply roast it over a rack for a couple of hours till the rind is nice, puffed and crispy. I tend not to worry too much about the pork cooking through – at those sort of temperatures the pork is always done by the time the crackling is. If you have a much larger slab of pork, I would suggest cutting it into smaller slabs before you put it into the oven.

It’s the most foolproof recipe for pork and pork crackling I’ve ever used. Simple and effective, I like to serve portions of the pork just with some roasted veggies, no gravy required!

What’s your favourite tips to making great pork belly with amazing crackling?

Jazz City Milk Bar, Darlinghurst

Sometimes, dinner is such a mission.

After hearing so much about the Jazz City Diner and its decadent Southern goodness, I was chomping at the bit (literally, I was that hungry!) to get to this hole-in-the-wall delight that everyone’s been raving about.
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Zenya Ramen Bar, Eastwood


I’m not usually a soup person. As a child, I used to order noodle soups and then fish the noodle out, so that I get all of the flavour, but have the noodle cool much faster because it wasn’t sitting in soup getting soggy.

But experiencing winter – Singapore has no winter, only rain – in Australia actually inspires me to have soups. Noodle soups, rice soups (ochazuke anyone?), creamy soups, vegetable soups, bone soups…it’s all good to me. There’s something comforting about wrapping your hands around a warm boil of steaming food when your fingers are nearly numb from the cold.

Or you could have a cup of tea. Or coffee. But I like noodles.

And so I went to Zenya Ramen Bar in Eastwood, hoping that it would be a good local ramen bar that I can visit regularly. It being my first time, I decided to go with the Mini Set Menu, where you get a mini version of a couple of things, which allows you to try dishes across the menu! I specifically chose the Mini Ramen and Mini Donburi set, and from that I chose to have the Pork Ramen and the Karaage Don, with dessert and drink. ($16.80)


The ramen came first, and to be honest, it was pretty average. The egg – and you know that the ni-tamago can make or break a bowl of ramen for me – was slightly overdone and under-seasoned for me, the broth was average, and the noodles had a nice bite, but were also average. I did like the serving size though – it was actually the serving size of the meals I would have at home – and the price was not bad for the food, considering the amount of food you get for it.

Interestingly though, for a ramen bar, I much preferred the Karaage Don.


The fried chicken was crispy, not too greasy, and didn’t have a strong chickeny smell that you can get sometimes. Biting into it, it was juicy, fresh, crisp on the outside. My favourite bit though, was the mayo. Sweet, tangy, and just slightly spicy, the mayo completely made the dish for me. This set was actually ordered to share between two people – and there was more than enough to share – but I think I stole the lion’s share of this chicken.

Not knowing that the mini set was actually not entirely too mini, I also ordered a medium plate of mixed sashimi.


The seafood was fresh, and cut so that it was a pleasant mouthful – not so much that I can’t fit in my mouth, but not so small that I miss it completely and am left wanting more. Not the most unique dish, but great quality, and better than I expected.

In all, the food was only slightly better than average, and a good value for money. The service is truly special though, and though the staff might not speak perfect English, I really appreciated the way they interacted with us. For example, when they had to interrupt our conversation to ask if we had any last orders (it was a late dinner for us), they actually hung back till there was a break in the conversation, and then apologised for the interruption in a very gracious way.

I would (and have been) keep going back to Zenya, not so much for the ramen, but for the Donburi and the excellent service.

We ate at:

Zenya Noodle Bar
+61 2 9874 2122
217 Rowe St, Eastwood NSW 2122, Australia

Zenya Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

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Good Food and Wine Show, 2013

My stash: (Clockwise from left) Scarmoza Blanca from La Latteria, Colgate tea flavoured mouthwash, Kumquat spread from St Dalfour, Truffle Tapenade from Wine and Truffle Co., Flavoured salts from Smoke and Roast, Smoked garlic from Smoke and Roast, Porcini salt from Salt Meats Cheese.

FREE FOOD. Need I say more?

The Good Food and Wine Show is one of the bigger food expos that I attend every year. Beyond the aforementioned free food, I love the opportunity that I get to have a chat with small producers whom I might not otherwise get a chance to talk to, or might have to travel far to meet.

For example, meet Larry.


Larry is, in his own words, “the truck driver, the harvester, the everything” at the Handorf Hill Winery. Not having that much experience with wine – and not being very good with alcohol – I had many questions, and Larry patiently and eloquently explained to me the intricacies of the flavours and aromas of wine, and especially how the weather and microclimates affect them. The most interesting thing I learnt from Larry was the effect of the cool weather on tannins.

Tannins are compounds that are present in things like tea and wine, and contributes a certain kind of astringency that gives you that slightly dry feeling in your mouth. Because tannins are found in the grapes, the rate the grapes ripen will affect the amount of astringency that you get in your wine. From what I understand from Larry, the cooler Adelaide climates allow the grapes to ripen slowly, allowing the tannins to mellow out, resulting in a gentler wine. How cool is that?

There were also plenty of other producers:

chocome layout

ChocoMe had the most beautifully presented bars of chocolate I’d ever seen.

robinvale layout

Robinvale estate, with their adorable graphics adorning their myriad of flavoured oils and vinegars.

salumi layout

Salumi Australia had a MASSIVE and impressive display of cured meats in every shape and form. And had these little cones at $5 a pop, besides the samples that they had on display.

smoke and roast layout

Smoke and Roast had a very energetic spokesperson, and had the most beautiful-smelling smoked garlic and flavoured salts. He was sharing recipes left, right and centre and inspired me to try out his salts on a slow roasted pork belly. He said to different salts on different sections, to create a sort of rainbow of flavours, depending on which piece you eat.


The Wine and Truffle Co. had a great array of truffle products, and an impressive piece of truffle protected by a glass cloche. I was impressed that they could tell me off hand when the truffle was harvested – it’s very important to ask when buying truffles because truffles tend to go stale after about 10 days – and I loved the truffle tapenade so much that I bought one home for myself.


Kikkoman had a genius way of getting people to try their soy sauce – rather than getting people to dip crackers in (I’ve seen this happen, who gets people to try soy sauce with crackers?), they actually had little pieces of salmon and cucumber sushi for people to try with their sauce! I know it sounds simple, but I don’t think that I would’ve thought of that.


This is the most exciting bit of the day for me. Bohemian Delights had wild mushrooms out for sale, and there were samples of Slippery Jack mushrooms (right) which were simply sauteed with salt, pepper and some caraway seeds. SO DELICIOUS! There was also a man at the stall – the owner’s father – who told us that his wife uses Pine Nut mushrooms (left) in her goulash, instead of meat, before saying (with a wink in his eye) that Czech women make the best cooks.

And that was my Good Food and Wine experience. Did you go? Which were your favourite stands?

What I ate: Berry and yoghurt parfait


The lazy, rainy weekend is over, and Monday morning rolls around. I begrudgingly get out of bed and make all the appropriate noises and mumbles about wanting to get back in. Then my tummy rumbles and tells me that I might as well get up because it’s hungry. And when it’s hungry, it’s turns me into the hulk.

So what to do for breakfast?

Well I made ricotta pancakes over the weekend, and as always, I made more compote than I needed. Well together with just a few more ingredients from my fridge and pantry. I’ve got a light breakfast that gets me through the morning and quells my hungry tummy.

I used:

  • Greek yoghurt
  • Blueberry compote
  • Honey nut crunch

I love how a sweet cereal, but I know that it’s full of sugar. So I try to use it just as a topping, to keep my sweet tooth satisfied, while keeping