Contessa Receptions / No Carb Recipes

Last night, hubby and I attended a wonderful wedding reception at Contessa Receptions @ 440 Huntingdale Road, Melbourne. Just thought I'd post a quick blog entry to show you a picture of all the food we had. More photos and details posted on Flickr.

Another "just for fun" post. I have to admit I am struggling with content lately - especially since I have started a "No Carb Diet" with some girls on Twitter and have limited myself to simple omelets and stirfries which are less worthy of blogging material. However, obviously yesterday was a "Cheat Day" as I couldn't really control what gets served on my plate at dinner right? I think having ONE "Cheat Day" per week is fine.

I did, however, contemplate the idea of starting a "No Carb Recipes" series.

So I guess it's a work in progress. Hopefully be able to come up with something GOOD really soon! Thank you all for your patience :)

In the mean time, here are some of my previously blogged recipes which are reasonably low in carbohydrates... just in case my girls run out of ideas of what to eat:

Stirfried Pork Belly with Vegetables
Char Siu Chicken Wings

Steamed Whole Snapper with Garlic, Butter, Chilli and Lemon


Bak Chang / Bak Zhang / Zongzi

I think I might've missed the season for eating "Bak Chang" a couple of months ago, in fact I don't even know when exactly is it! It all started last night when friends on Twitter reminded me that it was the Lantern Festival tomorrow and therefore I should go out and get some mooncakes. Yes, I went out and got some mooncakes alright... but as soon as I saw these Bak Changs just sitting there right next to the cashier, I couldn't resist buying some for dinner! NOM NOM NOM...

Good thing I did, we only got back from soccer at 8pm and were absolutely starving and these Bak Changs have already been prepared they just needed to be steamed!

I actually got a variety of Bak Changs. Some are called "Sue's Bak Chang".. obviously made by a famous local lady named Sue, haha. Others were Nonya Bak Changs and some were the "Traditional / Classic Bak Changs".

These Bak Changs are basically glutinous rice wrapped in pandan leaves with various filling in them.. depending on the type of Bak Chang. To find out more, please see our ever dependable Wikipedia pages.. lol.

Basically I just let them steam in the steamer for approx. 30 minutes and they're ready! Of course, making the Bak Chang themselves from scratch would've been a HUGE chore. You can find some amazing recipes on the internet. I have listed some recipes here:
  1. Bak Chang Recipe by Delicious Asian Food
  2. Bak Chang Recipe by Tham Jiak
  3. Pork Dumplings Recipe by The Food Site
  4. Rice Dumplings Recipe by Asian Online Recipes
And of course you should probably watch various YouTube videos on how to fold the leaves around the glutinous rice, looks rather complicated I'd rather stick to buying delicious Bak Changs made by the experts thank you very much!! (70% foodie who loves to eat, 30% home cook who loves to cook WHEN TIME PERMITS, lol)

Once they were ready, because I bought a variety of Bak Changs it's always nice to be surprised by what's inside. This one in particular had some pork and water chestnuts.

But these ones were the best!! These had PORK BELLY in it, which made the texture of the meat inside nice and juice (and fatty, lol) and it tasted a lot "sweeter" than all the other ones. These were the ones made by that lady "Sue" sooo awesome, I am tempted to go back to Glen Waverley tonight and buy more, more and MOREE!! (So "tham jiak" hahahahaa) Already bought so many mooncakes too.

Anyway, this was just a fun post. Mostly to just be mean and make some of you drool..

Stirfried Pork Belly with Vegetables

This is a super easy stirfry recipe involving minimal effort and takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and cook. The idea is to have a whole bunch of natural flavors combine together to form this ultimately satisfying stirfry which can be eaten on its own or served with rice on a lazy weeknight.

Yes... I think I am getting lazier and lazier. Work (and life) has just been so busy lately that I haven't had the chance to experiment cooking something new or exciting or complicated. But I am sure there will be some readers out there who would appreciate "simple recipes" that are easy to follow? I really, really hope so.. lol. However, just because it takes less effort doesn't make it any less delicious!

Basically the "sweetness" of the pork is meant to compliment this entire stirfry. Without the pork, it just won't taste the same. I am very fond of using pork in stirfries mostly due to influence from my parents growing up... you can do so much with pork!

400g pork belly, sliced
A bunch of pak choy
Two bunches of baby brocollini
7-8 cup mushrooms, sliced in half
4 stalks of spring onion, chopped approx. 1 inch long
Carrots, sliced
1 tsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp Kikkoman Lime, Lemongrass and Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Sweet Dark Soy Sauce (Kecap Manis)
Light soy sauce to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh Coriander leaves for garnish

  • In a wok, heat a tbsp of cooking oil. Add pork belly into the wok and splash dark soy sauce and sweet dark soy sauce into it. Cook for approx. 5 minutes until the pork is cooked and is slightly firm.
  • Add garlic, carrots, mushrooms, and baby broccolini and stirfry for another 5 minutes.
  • Add Kikkoman sauce, splash of light soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add 1/4 cup of water to help cook the veggies.
  • Add Pak Choy and Spring Onions and stirfry for another 5-10 minutes.
  • Serve hot and garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Serve with white rice.

"Ayam Masak Merah" aka Malaysian Red Cooked Chicken Recipe

I was inspired to cook this dish mostly due to the recent "Eid" or "Raya Aidilfitri" festivities celebrated by the Muslims. I can so clearly remember growing up in Malaysia, whenever Raya comes around I look forward to visiting our Muslim friends at their Open House to eat the rendang, curries, and especially the lemang (traditional food originated from the Iban people in Borneo - PS my mom is Iban, therefore I am half Iban! - made of glutinous rice and coconut milk and cooked in a hollowed bamboo stick lined with banana leaves in order to prevent the rice from sticking to the bamboo).

This dish, "Ayam Masak Merah" or directly translated as Red Cooked Chicken is one of the many common dishes served up during the festivities. It is a tomato based dish, can be spicy but can also be tweaked to be less spicy and more sweet to suit your taste.

My dinner guests tonight absolutely loved it - and I was also quite happy with how it turned out :) Not bad at all for a first effort in testing this recipe!

Recipe from

  • 1.5kg whole chicken, cut into 8-10 parts
  • 2 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Sufficient peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup red onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 4 tbsp chilli paste (medium hot, reduce to 2-3 tbsp for mild)
  • 3 tbsp hot chilli sauce, or to taste
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark sweet soy sauce
  • 1 large onion, cut into rings
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • 3-4 kaffir lime leaves (substitute: zest of 1 lime)
  • 2-3 pandan leaves (optional)
  • Vegetable oil for pan frying
  • A few sprigs fresh coriander leaves for garnish

1. Lightly coat chicken pieces with turmeric powder and salt, let stand for 30 mins.

2. Heat wok or pot on high, add sufficient peanut or vegetable oil to fry chicken (wait until oil is hot). Fry chicken in batches until light golden brown, drain on a metal rack or paper towels, set aside.

(This photo shows some ingredients not in recipe as I was also cooking a simple vegetable stirfry to accompany this dish)

3. Pour off all but 4 tbsp of oil, add red onions, ginger, garlic, stir-fry a few seconds, add chilli paste and stir-fry 1-2 mins.

4. Add hot chilli sauce, tomato puree, tomato sauce, dark sweet soy sauce, sugar and salt to taste. Then stir-fry 1 min.

5. Add kaffir lime leaves (or lime zest), pandan leaves (optional), 2 cups water, bring to a rapid boil, immediately reduce heat to med, simmer uncovered 10 mins.

6. Add chicken, stir well to coat evenly with sauce.

7. Bring to boil again, then reduce heat to low, cover, simmer slowly (for chicken to "absorb" the sauce), about 25-35 mins.

8. Add onion rings, simmer for 3-5 mins, onion rings should have a slight crunch.

9. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves (optional) and serve with steamed rice.

I served with Coconut Rice (rice, water, light coconut cream, sugar and salt) and Stir Fried Carrots, Green Beans, Spring Onions & Mushrooms with Garlic.

    George's Chocolate & Salty Caramel Tart

    Recipe by George Calombaris, published in Australian Good Food Magazine Oct 2010
    SERVES 10 PREP 40 mins COOK 40 mins CHILL 2 1/2 hours

    "This is my version of a Snickers bar, but instead of peanuts I use walnuts. Be sure to toast them." - George Calombaris

    (Note: I have not made this tart yet, just excited to share it with you as soon as it's available!! This photo was taken during the Good Food & Wine Show a couple of months ago... straight off George's kitchen and believe me, it tasted INCREDIBLE!!)

    • 110g dark couverture chocolate with 70% cocoa solids, chopped
    • 40g cold unsalted butter, chopped
    • 1/2 cup (125ml) thickened cream
    • 2 tsp liquid glucose
    Sweet pastry
    • 300g unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 150g caster sugar
    • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthways, seeds scraped
    • 3 cups (450g) plain flour
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tbsp thickened cream
    Walnut praline
    • 100g walnuts
    • 110g caster sugar
    Salty caramel sauce
    • 180g caster sugar
    • 180g liquid glucose
    • 180g unsalted butter, chopped
    • 2 tsp sea salt flakes
    • 200ml pure cream
    1 To make pastry, using an electric mixer beat butter, sugar and vanilla seeds on low until smooth and creamy but not light and fluffy. Add flour, egg and cream and mix until dough forms a ball. Divide dough in half, shape into two discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze one portion for later use. Refrigerate remaining dough for 1 hour.

    2 Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan. To make walnut praline, spread walnuts over a baking tray and bake for 6-8 mins, until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and increase temperature to 190C or 170C fan. Place walnuts on a clean tea towel and rub to remove as much skin as possible. Spread walnuts over a baking tray. Heat sugar in a heavy based saucepan on low, tilting pan occasionally but without stirring, for 10 mins, until sugar melts and a dark caramel forms. Pour over walnuts and cool. Cover a clean tea towel with baking paper. Fold over to enclose and gently pound with a rolling pin until roughly crushed. Set aside.

    3 Roll out dough between two sheets of baking paper until 5mm thick. Line a 24cm loose-based tart pan with pastry and trim. Chill for 30 mins.

    4 Line pastry shell with baking paper and fill with pastry weights, rice or dried beans. Blind bake for 15 mins. Remove paper and weights. Reduce oven to 180C or 160C fan and bake for another 10 mins, until golden and dry.

    5 Meanwhile, to make salty caramel, heat sugar, glucose, butter and salt in a pan on low, until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture reaches 147C on a candy thermometer. Place cream in a small pan and bring to boil on medium. Immediately add to glucose mixture and stir on low heat until combined. Cool slightly.

    6 Place chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Place cream and glucose in a small pan and bring to boil on medium heat. Pour over chocolate mixture and stand for 5 mins. Stir until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.

    7 To assemble, scatter walnut praline over tart shell. Pour over salty caramel and stand for 10 mins. Pour over chocolate mixture and chill for 1 hour, until firm. Serve at room temperature.

    Deepam Indian Restaurant, Berwick

    On a random Thursday night, hubby and I decided we will go out to dinner instead of cooking / getting takeaway. What an excellent idea! When deciding where to go, we were presented with the option of going somewhere close to work (aka somewhere on Bridge Road, Richmond) or somewhere close to home (in Berwick). We finally decided we would go somewhere close to home, just so we have the luxury of only driving 2 mins back home after dinner, instead of at least 40 minutes.

    Hubby also decided he had a bit of work to do before dinner, so we decided we would go to dinner at 8pm. I've also invited our friends Mr T and Ms C to come and join us, and they spontaneously agreed. Aahhh.. the joys of being married couples without kids. We shall enjoy it while it lasts...

    Deepam Indian Restaurant is probably one of the best Indian restaurants you will find in Melbourne, which is why we are so lucky to have it so close to home. It is usually jam packed on the weekends, and they sometimes even have live music on Friday / Saturday nights... but on a weeknight, it is so quiet we didn't even have to bother making a booking or anything. The restaurant is HUGE, it can probably seat up to 150 guests? Which is why it seems even emptier when we arrived as only 4-5 tables were filled. It is also a TAKEAWAY restaurant though, so people do come and go with their takeaway orders throughout the night.

    As soon as we were seated, our waiter (or should I say waiters, as they were 3 waiters on duty and only 4 tables filled!) brought out some papadums for us to nibble on as we decide what to order.

    Ms C ordered a lovely Midori Splice cocktail...

    And we finally decided to go with Set Menu #2.

    Our first entree was the "Potato Wada". It wasn't really anything special, it's just some fried potatoes. But I was happy to dig in, as we were pretty hungry by then!

    Our next entree was the "Chicken Tikka". Now this was more my kind of entree. YUM!

    As soon as we were ready, our waiters brought out all of our main courses. We had some Naan bread, Rice, Raita (Indian condiment / sauce which is yoghurt based), Chicken Makhani, Lamb Rogan Josh, Dal Makhani and Aloo Mutter.

    This was the "Raita" aka yoghurt dip.

    Rice enough for 4 people.

    "Lamb Rogan Josh" was pretty mild for us, but the lamb was extremely tender. Two thumbs up!

    "Dal Makhani" I believe are lentils and beans in a creamy butter sauce.

    "Chicken Makhani" our Aussie favorite Indian Butter Chicken!! Loved it.

    And "Aloo Mutter" which is a potato curry. To be honest, I didn't even try this one, LOL. I was too full to have more potatoes! Didn't need the extra carbs to go with my naan bread and rice either!

    Finally, we were served our dessert the "Gulab Jamun" with Ice Cream. It is made of a dough consisting mainly of milk solids (often including double cream) and flour flavored with coconut and rose syrup. It was nice and warm to contrast with the ice cream so we quite enjoyed it.

    Overall, we were very happy with our meal. Between the 4 of us, we also had iced coffee, a cocktail (as shown above), a bottle of wine, 2 beers, 4 glasses of muscat and we were served coffee and tea afterwards as part of the set menu. The total bill came up to an average of $50 per person which was not bad considering we ate until we were extremely full and had a few drinks.

    So whenever you're in the South Eastern suburbs area of Melbourne, feel free to pop in :) 

    Deepam Indian on Urbanspoon

    It's All About The Broth...

    Recently, "The Ramen Girl" featuring the late Brittany Murphy has become one of my favorite "food" movies of all time. It's just a lovely, fun movie about love, life and Japanese ramen. For those who are not familiar, "ramen" is a Japanese noodle dish. It is served in a meat or fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork, dried seaweed, kamaboko, green onions, and occasionally corn. Almost every locality in Japan has its own variation of ramen, from the tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen of Kyūshū to the miso ramen of Hokkaidō.

    Not that I'm about to tell you that I cooked ramen, lol. I was just inspired by this movie to cook a large pot of soup and create my own broth. I also tried my best to "cook from the heart" ... and felt kinda silly at first doing it, but eventually when tasting the final result of my slow-cooked broth, I'm pretty sure I felt something deeply emotional inside. Most comforting feeling of satisfaction. It warmed me up. And I felt a surge of happiness inside. It's all about the broth... :)

    To start off, I poured 2L of chicken stock (or vegetable stock) over a whole chicken and a few pieces of pork spareribs, 2 large onions chopped in half, and a tablespoon of chopped garlic. Let this simmer for approx. 1 hour.

    The next step is to season the broth after making sure the natural flavors of the chicken, pork, garlic and onion have completely been absorbed by the broth. For this, I added a tsp of ground ginger, salt, pepper and two tbsp of dark soy sauce.

    I then added 4-5 chopped carrots and a whole lot of fresh cup mushrooms. Simmer for another hour.

    Then, I added some chopped spring onions for the extra flavour to the broth. Simmer for yet another hour.

    By the time the soup is ready, the meat would all be extremely tender... so tender you can separate them with chopsticks. The broth, at this point, tasted like heaven to me. So comforting and full of the slow-cooked flavors we've allowed to simmer for hours.

    Serve with cooked noodles and garnish with fresh chinese coriander. I am salivating all over again just as I'm finishing up this blog entry. What a comforting dish! I almost don't want summer to come around too soon just so I can have more "winter warmers" type of dishes before it gets too hot to really enjoy these dishes.

    P/S: You may discard the NECK once it's ready to be served. Hahahaaa left it in there while simmering for the extra flavour!!

    Simple Laksa Recipe + Father's Day Weekend

    Just had a pretty big weekend. I had a party at my place on Friday night, it was a big night. I didn't have to do anything or go anywhere on Saturday, so I cooked a simple laksa for myself which turned out absolutely delicious! I guess I'll blog about it considering I haven't really been blogging much.

    This is indeed a really simple laksa recipe anyone can make at home. It's not as authentic as a Penang Laksa or a Sarawak Laksa, but this is good laksa and still a nice, comforting dish for a cold night.. and Melbourne was VERY cold.

    The ingredients are:
    • 1 jar Valcom Laksa Paste
    • 300ml light coconut milk
    • 100ml water
    • 1 tsp chilli powder
    • 120g large prawns, peeled and tail on.
    • 3 large cup mushrooms, sliced
    • 3 large eggs
    • Salt and pepper
    • Oil for frying egg
    • Vermicelli noodles / mee hoon / thin rice noodles
    • Bean shoots
    • Fresh coriander to serve
    1. In a frying pan, heat 2 tbsp oil. Beat eggs together in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the egg mixture into the frying pan and flip both sides until cooked. Place egg omelette onto a chopping board and slice to form egg strips. Set aside egg strips.
    2. In a pot, heat laksa paste with water. Add coconut milk and chilli powder. Cook until soup just boiling. Add prawns and mushrooms. Cook until fully boiling and prawns turn pink and mushrooms have softened and darkened in color. This is your laksa broth / soup.
    3. In a serving bowl, place a desired amount of vermicelli noodles in the bowl and pour hot water into the bowl to soften the noodles. After 2 minutes, strain the water, leaving softened vermicelli noodles still sitting in the bowl. Add fresh bean shoots on top of the noodles. Pour freshly cooked (still hot) laksa soup / broth on top of the noodles and bean shoots, with some prawns and mushrooms sitting on top. Garnish with egg strips. Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve hot.
    So anyway, back to my story. So I had a lovely laksa meal for dinner on Saturday, despite just cooking for one because hubby is away for work.

    The next day, after church I went to Krispy Kreme to pick up the donuts I've ordered online a few days ago. There was a Father's Day Special whereby you purchase a dozen Chocolate Celebrations Donuts and get a dozen Original Glazed donuts for FREE. Pretty good deal if you ask me...

    So this was for afternoon tea. The family came over with more food. We had brownies, slices, chips, and dips, and cheese, and sausage rolls, and spring rolls.. and we just had a lot of food...

    Which was kinda silly because just shortly after, it was time to go out to Costello's in Berwick for dinner!

    I ordered the Lamb Shanks. The gravy looks a bit sussed and thick, probably not the best gravy I've ever had... but the lamb shank was tender as you would expect it to be.. so I wasn't disappointed.

    My father in law though, had the Smoked Salmon & Avocado Salad which looked really good... I might go back to the restaurant another day and try the salad. Or maybe I'll just make it. Yeah, ok. I will someday make a Smoked Salmon and Avocado Salad.. looks fairly easy to replicate, lol.

    So that was my weekend. I really enjoyed myself, it was really good to catch up with friends on Friday night and then with family on Sunday. Missing my husband but I know he misses us even more, and good thing is he will be home tomorrow night yayyy :)

    Life is good but also very busy - and I will try my best to blog a lot more ok.