Chocolate Hazelnut Slice


As much as I love indulging in sweets every so often, I'm generally not a sweets person in the kitchen. I don't bake or make desserts very often. It's weird because I find making desserts messy, which really doesn't make sense because some of the savoury dishes I cook are technically messier! Maybe I'm trying to be "good" by not making too many sweet treats, but then again some of my deep fried dishes are surely just as evil if not worse! So there's no real reason as to why I avoid baking or making sweet desserts, I just don't!

BUT.. when I DO make desserts I usually choose a very simple and reliable recipe. Something very simple to make yet deliciously yummy. That is why I am documenting this slice recipe on my blog so I can come back to it. There is a story behind this slice. You see, my sister in law is a brilliant desserts person. She makes all sorts of yummy cakes, cupcakes, slices, biscuits, etc and the family gets to sample them pretty often. Last week, she made a batch of this slice she wasn't quite happy with. "Too much golden syrup" she claims. So she kindly "donated" a whole lot of them to us keen eaters. We didn't think there was anything wrong with it. My mum absolutely loved it! So we asked for the recipe and she kindly shared. So now I kindly share it too, it is SO simple.. no baking (yay!) and literally takes less than 15 minutes to make.

Ingredients:
2 packets Arnott's Malt 'O' Milk biscuits, crushed
1 tin sweetened condensed milk
220g melted butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
250g hazelnut chocolate block
10g Copha (vegetable shortening)

Method:
Combine crushed biscuit, condensed milk, melted butter and golden syrup in a bowl. Mix well and transfer into a slice tray and flatten gently. Melt chocolate with Copha and pour on top of slice mix. Refrigerate until chocolate sets then chop to serve.

Prahran Market "Hidden Gems" Tour

Sponsored by Nuffnang


My fellow readers, have I got a treat for you today. You get to go on a virtual Prahran Market “Hidden Gems” Tour right here on my blog! Of course, nothing beats the real thing – and unfortunately I can only feature some of my favourites and highlights of the tour otherwise this page would overflow with too much information and too many photos! So, soak up the following information below as a “teaser” but if you are a food lover and you love markets as much as I do, I would highly recommend you book yourself in to go to one of these tours... you won’t regret it!


Prahran Market is Australia’s oldest continually-running market with a very special story behind its history. Thanks to Nuffnang, I had the privilege of going on this guided tour. My tour guide, Kathy took me to almost all of the stores at Prahran Market and introduced me to some of the owners, gave me a bit of history / background of each trader as well as some lovely tastings! I am definitely a creature of habit, and I do tend to look for the same types of food at the same places whenever I shop. Thanks to this tour, I discovered so many special and unique products, fresh produce, and got to taste food I never tasted before in my life!


First thing’s first. To be able to shop comfortably you need a trolley, but trolleys can be quite expensive to purchase! So what do you do? Bet you didn’t know Prahran Market has trolleys available for hire… yes they do! For only $3 for 2 hours, these trolleys are a great way to shop for lots of goodies without the hassle of carrying them around in heavy bags. These trolleys are available to hire at the Hardware Store near the Fruit and Veg section of the market.


During the tour, I had the privilege to meet Damian from Damian Pike The Wild Mushroom Specialist. I was immediately drawn to this stall because I am a huge fan of mushrooms. I got to smell some amazing Black Truffles and got to taste some pretty special, hand picked Mouserron mushrooms! These mushrooms are a whopping $150/kg. I can never afford these mushrooms and I got to taste one little piece… very teasing… it was sooooo good! I was salivating at the thought of pan frying those mushrooms with butter and some herbs. Argh. (WARNING: Do NOT go on this tour HUNGRY!!)

A selection of delightful mushrooms at Damian Pike – the ones in the wooden boxes are the expensive ones! Mouserron (Top) and Chanterelles (Bottom) both $150/kg!

Before I went on this tour, I have actually been to Prahran Market several times but ONLY to shop at Lee’s Asian Grocery. Yes, ONLY to shop here. I cannot believe how ignorant I was of all the other stores now that I come to think about it… but let’s not focus on that and let me explain WHY I love Lee’s so much.



Here’s my reason.

This shelf may not look like much but this shelf stocks more fresh and rare Asian ingredients than most Asian Grocers combined! In the next few weeks, I will feature a recipe on my blog using ingredients primarily purchased from Lee’s Asian Grocery (and some others too) but here at Lee’s I happily pick up my stock of banana leaves, pandan leaves, curry leaves, Thai leaves, heaps of other yummy smelling leaves, and of course my dried chilli and “Hae Bee” aka dried shrimp and “Ikan Pusu” aka dried anchovies, and even Salted Egg for my Rice Congee, and shallots and other hot chillies. It truly is an Asian Food Haven for me!

Lee’s also stock a whole lot of packaged dried Asian goods, and some freshly made packaged cakes and sambal and other Asian foods, as well as homemade dumplings, some Asian medicines and some Asian cooking tools and utensils. I may be biased because of all the Asian cooking I do at home, but Lee’s is definitely my favorite store at the market. Hands down. 



 Finally, moving on a surprise trader as I was only newly converted to love this stall after I tasted some of its offerings.. Naheda’s Choice offers delicious, freshly made pestos, dips, etc. Everything is made with fresh ingredients, no added perservatives and made with a lot of love. Naheda and her husband, as well as their staff are extremely friendly and are very generous with their tastings.


The first thing I tried was the Date and Pistacio Balls, deliciously sweet and soft and apparently goes really well with cheese and crackers for afternoon tea. Also tried some deliciously fluffy homemade Turkish Delight. I thought that was pretty good already, until they got me to try some of their homemade dips.....


       Once you’ve tried some of these dips you will never EVER settle for a store bought dip ever again!!! 


My absolute favourite (and I ended up buying tubs of these after the tour) were the combination of the 3 Olive and Garlic dip and the Chunky Chilli Red Pesto dip. Absolutely DIVINE! If you love garlic as much as I do, the 3 Olive and Garlic dip is made out of 50% olives and 50% garlic so the garlic flavour really shines through. I felt like I was smacked in the face with flavour, and after tasting that combo all the other dips as delicious as they all were faded in comparison. What can I say, I love strong flavours. Another lady who was there found it too strong, but it was just perfect for me!

Photo: Naheda and her choice (husband), lol.

Unfortunately that’s all I have time for today in my wrap up of my Prahran Tour. The tour took an hour and a half, and trust me, there was so much more I couldn’t even mention on here. I haven’t even begun to mention the array of fresh meat and seafood available in the market! Or the fact that all the traders donate 37,000kg of food annually for redistribution to 70 relief agencies which provides thousands of meals for people in need! I didn’t even get to show you the Market Square which is a nice, open area with restaurants and cafes as well as a children’s playground – great area to just chill with a cup of coffee or have lunch after a long day of shopping at the market. Not to mention the many Events and Activities regularly organised at the market to make it a fun experience for people of all ages. I guess you’ll just have to go and see it for yourself.


Huge thanks to my tour guide, Kathy for sharing all of her knowledge of the market as well as her own love for food. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon! To find out more about Prahran Market, visit www.prahranmarket.com.au.

Crew Cafe, Berwick

Photo courtesy of www.crewcafe.com.au
I am a creature of habit. I mostly go to the same places and order the same food. Yes, I know that contradicts the whole idea of being a "food blogger" but again, that is why I don't do a lot of reviews on my blog. The only way to get me to visit someplace new is if I was meeting friends there (and they picked the place) or invited to an event or purchased a group voucher so I get to try it out without paying full price.

Recently, LivingSocial Melbourne had a deal for Crew Cafe in Berwick. That surprised me because group deals are very rarely in my local suburb area. They are mostly in the city and of course now that I have had Micah I'm mostly a stay home mum based in Berwick. The deal was $15 for Breakfast or Lunch for two. Even though I've never even heard of Crew Cafe, I couldn't resist the deal. Turns out the cafe is fairly new anyway, just opened late last year. That would explain why they decided to use a Group Buying site to promote their business. They did really well with this deal too, 523 vouchers were purchased!


The first thing I noticed about this cafe is that the people are really friendly and service is excellent. They make really good quality coffee and the environment is casual, warm and friendly. Their menu features All Day Breakfast and a fairly limited but nice Lunch options with some Specials on the board.

Antipasto Platter for 2
We started with the Antipasto Platter which was an incredible plate Toasted Turkish Bread slices with a yummy pesto dip, some cold meats, some deliciously roasted vegetables (the eggplant was delicious!), semi dried tomatoes and a simple rocket salad but with the most beautiful dressing I've ever tasted. It was such a delicious platter of food! For $13.90 I thought it was great value for money too.

Smoked Salmon Stack
For my main meal I ordered the Smoked Salmon Stack. I thought they were quite generous with the amount of smoked salmon on the plate, and the salad that went with it (or should I say went all around it) was absolutely divine! I cleaned up my entire plate, it was that good.

Spaghetti Chilli Prawn
Mum had the Spaghetti Chilli Prawn which looked absolutely yummy. I had a taste, but to compare it directly against my delicious Smoked Salmon would not give it a review it deserves. It tasted a little bit oily (but so it should be as it was drizzled with beautiful olive oil, there's nothing wrong with that!) but I'm sure I would happily enjoy the spaghetti a lot more on its own without the taste of Smoked Salmon and fresh zesty salad on my palate any other day.

Smoked Salmon Breakfast
Finally, my mother in law had the Smoked Salmon with Toasted Ciabatta, Poached Eggs and Hollandaise Sauce (Breakfast Menu). I didn't taste this one, so you will just have to take her word for it. She absolutely loved it and I could see that the poached egg was perfectly cooked and according to her it was really good Hollandaise sauce too. Must come back for breakfast another day and verify this!

Overall, we had an excellent lunch at Crew Cafe. After using the voucher, we only had to pay $33 for the extra items we ordered for the 3rd person and the antipasto platter. Not bad for the quality of food we received. I will most definitely be coming back for more, will probably order some of the same food (haha told you, creature of habit) but hey, I've stepped out of my comfort zone away from my usual cafes in Berwick into a new one. That's brave, lol.


Crew Cafe on Urbanspoon

Ginger Chicken Recipe


I learnt how to cook a lot of traditional homecooked meals from my parents. These meals are usually very simple, but delicious and comforting as they all bring back my childhood memories of eating at home with my family. Now that I have moved to Australia and have my own family here, I'd like to start my own tradition and document all these recipes here on my blog so someday my kids can learn how to cook these dishes too. I am sure a lot of you out there are in the same boat (Malaysians living overseas) so you might be able to relate to some of these dishes and may wish to recreate them yourself too, so feel free to try any one of these recipes I've already posted:

Back to this post, another one of my favorite homecooked dishes is Ginger Chicken. There is just something about Ginger that makes this chicken so yummy. A lot of our traditional Malaysian cooking involves using a whole chicken with all of its bones because it enhances the flavour of the dish plus we Asians love eating chicken with bones - keeps the meat nice and tender! However, if you prefer using boneless chicken fillets please feel free to do so!

Ingredients:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Half a chicken, chopped into smaller pieces
1 inch cubed ginger, julienned (you can use more ginger for a stronger flavour)
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 red chilli, sliced

Method:  
Heat oil in a wok, add ginger and stirfry for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the chicken, stirfry for a few minutes then cover the wok and let the chicken cook for approximately 10 minutes, opening the cover every few minutes to stir through.

Add light soy sauce, and half of the water and stir for a few minutes. Let the chicken gently simmer.

Add oyster sauce and dark soy sauce, and the rest of the water. Continue cooking and stirring and covering until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has reduced.

Add sliced red chilli at the very end and serve hot. Garnish with Thai Basil leaves (optional).

Serve with hot steamed rice. Serves 4.

Simple Apple Cake Recipe


A couple of weeks ago, I have overstocked on apples for the stuffing for the whole suckling pig I was cooking. We had so many apples leftover, I really wanted to use them and make a simple and moist apple cake. I used a familiar base cake recipe and just added the apples on top. The first time I made it, there wasn't enough cake batter so the cake ended up being too thin and cooked too quickly. This didn't leave enough time for my apples to cook - so it was a weird thin cake with hard apples.

Tonight, I doubled the recipe for the batter and decreased the cooking temperature and baked the cake longer in the oven. Finally, I am happy with the end result. The cake is cooked just right and remained moist, and the apples got their chance to caramelize slightly and cook through, therefore releasing a sweet taste and is soft but firm enough to hold its texture.

Ingredients:
240g butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
3 cups self raising flour
1 cup milk
3 medium apples, peeled, quartered and cored
Juice 1 lemon
Sugar
Cinnamon


Method:
Cream butter with sugar. Add egg and beat well. Add half of flour and beat to combine. Add milk and remaining flour alternately (this will make a thick mixture). Spread mixture over bottom of a large cake tin. 

Cut quartered apples into thin slices but not all the way through. This will help the apples cook through. Place apples on top of the cake batter in the tin. 

Bake in a preheated oven on 120C for 1 hour.

While still warm, squeeze over lemon juice and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.


Coconut House: Malaysian Restaurant in Melbourne


Ever since my son was born, I don't get to eat out in the city very often anymore. That is why I don't do a lot of restaurant reviews on my blog (although my blog is primarily for cooking and recipes anyway). However, last week while my family were in town visiting from Malaysia, I took them to Queen Victoria Market one fine afternoon and we ventured down Elizabeth St looking for lunch. Naturally, we were drawn to Coconut House for several reasons:
  1. Coconut House has two outlets within 20 feet from each other on the same street. For a restaurant to have two outlets on the same street, they must be doing pretty well!
  2. The restaurants were both packed - not only were they packed, they were packed with Asians. That is always a good indication of the quality and authenticity of the meals.
  3. The menu features so many mouth watering options, we couldn't resist!

Our family decided we would order a few dishes and share them amongst ourselves. That way we get to taste each dish! Very good way of enjoying food when you don't know what to order for yourself because there are too many yummy options!


I personally was immediately drawn to the Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng. I couldn't wait to tuck into that spicy sambal and coconut rice, that fried chicken and perfectly cooked egg. It was the perfect winter meal for me, and I was quite impressed with the portion of my meal considering I paid less than $10 for it.


Because the restaurant was so packed, we had to sit outside in the cold so we ordered some hot Teh Tarik (Pulled Tea) to warm ourselves up. It was a lovely, smooth sweet milk tea.. almost like a hot chocolate on a cold day.


We also ordered the Sizzling Noodle Hot Plate with Chicken and Seafood. To be honest, it wasn't my favorite. I thought it tasted pretty bland compared to my spicy Nasi Lemak! It probably would've tasted more flavoursome if I hadn't been eating a spicy dish alongside it.


Our highlight for the day was definitely the Bak Kut Teh. The weather was so cold, that the hot and steaming herbal soup tasted like heaven. Every traditional component of this dish was perfect. The pork was deliciously tender and the mushrooms, tofu and all the random parts of the pig thrown into the soup tasted like the ultimate winter comfort food. When I asked my parents (who are die hard Bak Kut Teh fans) whether it was as good as the BKT from back home in Malaysia, they claimed it didn't taste "strong" enough... but I was pretty happy! Any stronger and the herbs would've been overpowering I thought. Besides, they needed to "tone it down" to suit the tastebuds of people trying this dish for the first time anyway, especially non-Asians. This dish is served piping hot, with a bowl of rice.

So overall, I was pretty happy with Coconut House! We had four dishes and two drinks and only paid $42 altogether - pretty affordable for Melbourne standards. I just wish there was a Malaysian restaurant as good as this closer to home in the South Eastern suburbs... especially in Berwick. Sadly not many quality Asian options here in Berwick. Thankfully, all I have to do is cook at home and get my fix!

Coconut House on Urbanspoon

Whole Suckling Pig Recipe


Ever since I've had a Whole Suckling Pig at The Provincial, I've always had this ambition to cook a whole pig at home... and last weekend my wish came true!! Leading up to the event (my son's Baptism Celebration lunch) I was constantly anxious about this pig. I've never handled a whole pig before, let alone cook it. I was so nervous! I was worried that I would mess it up and waste $230 worth of perfectly wonderful meat!

Thankfully, with A LOT of help from my hubby our pig was a huge success!!! The meat was super tender and fell off the bone, and the skin was golden brown and crispy! We were SO happy with how the pig turned out, and it comfortably fed 50 people. Everyone commented on how delicious the pig was, and I personally felt like "Once you go suckling, you'll never go back!" It was SO YUMMY!!! Everything was gone by the end of the day. All plates were cleaned up, even the pig's head was devoured by hungry meat lovers.



Ingredients:
1 whole suckling pig
Dried Thyme
Salt
Chopped apples
Vegetable Oil
Kitchen string & needle for stitching
Aluminium foil
Paper towels for pat drying
Extra kitchen string for securing pig
A large BBQ and rotisserie

Method:
Clean the pig thoroughly by rinsing it with cold water. Pat dry using paper towels. Mount the pig onto the rotisserie stick. Stuff the pig with chopped apples and sprinkle thyme onto the stuffing generously. Stitch up the pig neatly using kitchen string and a large needle. Tuck in the pig's legs underneath its belly and tie it up securely.

Rub the pig with a generous amount of salt and thyme. Baste lightly with a coat of vegetable oil.

Cover pig securely with aluminium foil and secure the foil again with more string.

Cook the pig on the BBQ with its lid closed at 120 degrees Celcius for approximately 4 hours.

Removing the foil
After 4 hours, remove the foil and switch the heat on the BBQ to the infrared on the back wall to start crispening up the skin.. Be careful not to let the fat from the pig drip onto the gas flames as it can cause a fire! Turn the pig around once to crispen the other side. This whole process might take between 30-40 minutes.


Let the pig rest for approximately 20 minutes and it's ready to serve!

The carving of the pig.. it was so tender and easy to carve!!
My happy face says it all... :-)
Poor little piggy.. but you fed us well so Thank You!