Jamie Oliver's 15-Minutes, 15 Recipes, 15-Week Challenge

Over the next 15 weeks, I will be featuring my take on 15 recipes from Jamie Oliver's "15-Minute Meals" cook book. If you are like me, you love to cook but time is always against you. That is why I have purchased Jamie's cookbook and hoping to be inspired to try new dishes that are delicious, healthy, and especially simple, easy and quick to make. 

I will be reviewing his recipes and sharing with all of you 1) How easy is it to make yourself at home aka did it really take 15-minutes give or take? 2) How commonly sourced are the ingredients features in those recipes aka can I realistically make this dish on a regular basis using ingredients that are easily available from my local supermarket? 3) Most importantly, how DELICIOUS is this dish? I will be rating those recipes out 5 stars based on my personal preference for taste.

I will NOT be publishing Jamie's recipes in this series due to copyright reasons, however if the recipe is available online on his website I will definitely post a link. I would also like to maybe invite you to take up this challenge with me! Grab a copy of Jamie's book (currently On Sale at Big W for only $28 instead of RRP $49.99), let's try these recipes together, and then exchange our opinions and share it with all the other readers!

So, if you trust my judgment and humble cooking capabilities at home to be able to provide a series of recipe reviews that will be relevant to you, please stay tuned!

SBS Cooking Titles - Luke Nguyen's Greater Mekong 2 + Giveaway

In the second installment of this SBS TV series acclaimed chef, Luke Nguyen, ventures deeper into the Greater Mekong region to discover the food cultures of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.

Luke Nguyen is a chef and owner of Sydney’s award-winning Vietnamese restaurants, Red Lantern and Red Lantern on Riley. He is also a bestselling author.

Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam Series 1, Series 2 and Luke Nguyen’s Greater Mekong are also available on DVD.

This series not only has mouthwatering recipes, but also offers a great travel experience for the viewer. I personally enjoyed how I was taken on a journey across these South Asian countries just in the comforts of my living room! I also enjoyed how Luke chose some odd locations to demonstrate his cooking in the series, it was very entertaining to watch him try and cook and defy Mother Nature. In one of the episodes, Luke sets up his cooking station (portable gas stove) right at the beach when the tide was actually coming in, so Luke frantically tries to finish cooking his dish before the tide got too high! It was very funny, he got soaked and water was splashing onto his ingredients!

Luke overall is a very entertaining presenter and I really enjoyed watching every episode of the series. I loved how he made his dishes seem so easy to cook (and yes they were pretty easy!) but with a great range of amazing ingredients which makes those amazing  flavoursome dishes Luke is famous for.

Luke begins his culinary journey in Laos’ capital city, Vientiane, with its bounty of hidden foodie gems. He then journeys north to Laos’ ‘food capital’, Luang Prabang, before travelling south to the fishing mecca, the 4000 Islands. Luke crosses the Mekong River into Cambodia, beginning in the ancient city of Siem Reap, where locals teach him how to cook traditional Khmer dishes. He then travels south to the bustling capital, Phnom Penh, where he gets a new take on street food. Heading further south, Luke explores the seaside towns of Kep and Kampot, famous for their crab and pepper. Finally, Luke returns to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. He seeks out the foodie wonders of border town, Chau Doc. He cooks with his parents on a houseboat in Cai Be, and explores the coconut islands of Ben Tre.

Presenting the best in local and international cuisines, SBS is home to a who’s who of the food scene – along with Peter Kuruvita, Maeve O’Meara, Tetsuya, Matthew Evans, Adriano Zumbo and many more, Luke Nguyen is just one of the SBS chefs and personalities whose great shows are available on DVD.

Visit www.madman.com.au/sbsfood to see the entire SBS Food DVD range and enter the competition to win the entire collection of 34 DVDs!!

DVDs are available at Dymocks and Sanity stores nationwide (RRP $29.95).

Giveaway: I have 15 x DVD packs consisting of Luke Nguyen’s Greater Mekong Series 1 & Series 2 to giveaway to 15 lucky readers! All you have to do is tell me:

“Why would you like to have Luke Nguyen’s Greater Mekong 1 & 2?”

So what are you waiting for? Leave a comment and don’t forget to leave an email address so I can contact you if you win! Please submit all entries for this giveaway before the 31st of March 2013.

This blog post was sponsored by Nuffnang. Terms & Conditions apply.

Brandy Creek Wines & View Cafe, Drouin East

What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than to head over to a winery and enjoy some amazing tapas with a few of your girlfriends, overlooking the vineyard with great views of the countryside... well, that's what I did today! Brandy Creek Winery is located approximately 40 minutes from where I live in Berwick, so I suppose that would make it a 1 hour and 15 minute trip for anyone who plans to head over there from Melbourne CBD. Trust me, the long drive is worth it, and this place has been known to attract people from all over Melbourne and its surrounding suburbs. It has been featured on popular Melbourne travel and food shows, and I cannot believe I have never been here before today!

Between us 5 girls, we ordered quite a few tapas dishes from their menu. Everything sounds good, and I am sure everything would taste good! It was difficult to commit to just the ones we planned to order and not get tempted to order a few more, but we had to be sensible and not go down that path of overindulging... although I think we definitely had a good go at letting ourselves indulge just a little bit more than a normal day!

We started off with the Garlic Bread and although it's just garlic bread, please do not miss out on THIS garlic bread! It was served with freshly roasted WHOLE garlic cloves that must've been roasted with butter because it came oozing out so beautifully when squeezed onto the toasted bread... and when you rub a little bit of sea salt onto it, it was just absolutely perfect!

The Chorizo was awesome combined with the salsa sauce that actually had a bit of a zesty spice kick to it, the grilled Calamari were soft and beautifully cooked, the meatballs had amazing flavour and so soft and tender, and the Lamb Ribs were melt in your mouth! Literally fell off the bone, it was so good.

Interestingly enough, the Beer Battered Barramundi came out in one big fillet so you had to cut it all up to share, which in my opinion retains the juiciness of the fish as opposed to deep frying little finger sized bites. It was crispy, fresh, delicious, fantastic! The Roast Pork Belly ticked all my boxes, definitely crispy crackling and super soft melt in your mouth pork meat, combined with an amazing apple sauce. The mussels had great flavours and just the right amount of creaminess, not too rich. The Crispy Duck was just that little bit overcooked but still retained a soft texture and skin was definitely crispy and the accompanying sauce provided just the right amount of sweet acid to balance out the fattiness of the duck. The Potatoes were okay, roasted well but I am not a super huge potato fan anyway so I find it hard to get too excited over potatoes.

Just when we thought we have had enough food, the waitress brought out the desserts menu. So we had the very Decadent Chocolate Truffle Cake, which was indeed decadent! It was deliciously rich and flavoursome. My personal favorite was the Vanilla & Citrus Crema Catalana served with Passionfruit, sooooo good! The toffee on top was deliciously crunchy and the custard was delicious!

The Creme Caramel ice cream had crunchy AND sticky caramel toffee all over it so it was a delightful ice cream to enjoy! The Portugese Custard Tart was a classic, very good. The Churros were still very warm and dipped into a gooey and also warm chocolate dipping sauce, heaven! Finished everything off with a cappuccino... what a delightful experience!

Service here was great and prompt. It was a busy afternoon, but they were all very organised and the food came out in a timely manner. We truly enjoyed ourselves, and I am already planning to go back very soon for one of their Paella or Churrasco Nights, which they are also famous for.

All in all, we paid about $40 per person which included all the food shown above AND drinks! Not bad for an indulgent lunch I say!

Brandy Creek Wines & View Cafe on Urbanspoon