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A Few of My Favourite Things!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Lifting of cheese ban in Australia!

A & I happened to stop by the Simon Johnson store in Toorak on the weekend, where A purchased a selection of cheeses. We found out while in the store that the Australian ban on the import of soft cheeses made from unpasteurised milk was recently lifted and they were even considering allowing the production of such cheeses in Australia! You cannot imagine how excited we were by this. It was music to our ears (or is that eyes), and very soon we hope, our tastebuds!! YAY!!!

We only recently had the opportunity to sample some cheeses made from unpasteurised milk while travelling in Europe and the taste was incredible. I don't think A had ANY cheeses made from pasteurised milk while we were away knowing that we couldn't get this stuff at home.

Then today, I came across an article from the Epicure section (27/09/2005) of the The Age newspaper and noticed this sentence: "The Federal Government announced last week that bans on the import and sale of the blue ewe's milk cheese made from unpasteurised milk were to be lifted." Apparently, the approval only covers Roquefort raw milk cheese, but hey that's at least a start. After some more surfing on the net, I found out that there's already a waiting list at Simon Johnson stores.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bunker Bay Resort, Perth

A & I spent several lovely and warm days in Perth attending some business meetings. Being from Melbourne and living a stone's throw from the muddy-brown Yarra River, I was quite impressed by the lovely Swan River and spent most mornings walking along these waters and soaking up the sunshine - ahhhh, Melbourne would be perfect if we could only have weather like this (sigh!).

We decided to use the weekend for exploring as neither of us had been here before. On the Friday, we decided that we would drive down towards the Margaret River region and stay for a couple of nights. A booked us into a stunning resort called Bunker Bay Resort. We stayed in a spacious studio unit which looked out onto a lake and fell asleep (after soaking in the bath) to the croaks of bull frogs.

In the morning, we wandered back up to the lobby/restaurant and stood by the wet-edge pool, admiring the view of the Indian Ocean. Isn't this (middle photo in top row) a stunning backdrop? Apparently the whales passed by on a number of occasions while we were staying at Bunker Bay, but we were not up early enough (6am) to witness this.

On Saturday night, we had dinner at the resort's restaurant, ''The Other Side of the Moon'.

Carpaccio Wagyu beef, broad beans, parmesan & Italian capers

Tomato, blue cheese & fig salad, octopus & piquillo peppers

Salt water barramundi with olive & herb-crushed potatoes

A & I have not been 'out-out' for a restaurant meal in forever, we especially enjoyed this meal. We thought very hard about having dessert but seeing as we had just visited the Margaret River Chocolate Factory earlier that day (more on this later), we decided to skip it. On Sunday, we reluctantly packed our bags and drove back to Perth for our flight...


Alice from My Epicurean Debauchery is doing a great job of rounding up all the entries for this month's Does My Blog Look Good in This? This is my first entry in this event, which requires you to submit a photo taken by yourself and posted on your blog in the last month. Alice has just completed Part III of the entry listings (what a huge job) and written some very kind words about my entry :-) Please head over to check out all the entries for August!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

WCB 16

It's that time of the week again...time to share photos of your favourite feline and to show everyone else how adorable they are! Head over to Eat Stuff for the round up...
I caught Tasha just as she was waking up - can you tell? Hehe

Monday, September 19, 2005

WCB 15

Isn't she adorable...sigh. We've been away for a few days, hence the late post for WCB. Bella & Tasha have been staying with their grandparents and wreaking havoc there instead! We missed them so much while we were interstate that we had to buy some toys back for them, all the way from Perth. Hmmm, they really are like kids, aren't they?

Each week, food bloggers around the world share pictures of their favorite felines. Join us by sending your permalink in a comment to Clare at Eat Stuff and add a "Weekend Cat Blogging" tag to your post!

Friday, September 16, 2005

SHF #12

I'm so excited to participate in my first ever Sugar High Friday! This month, Elise of Simply Recipes is hosting the event, so please head over for the round-up.

In keeping with this month's theme of Cooking up Custard, I made a Spicy Coconut Custart Flan and Yo-Yo bisuits. Fortunately, Elise had decided it the use of custard powder would be okay as it turned out that both of my recipes called for this ingredient.

Well, after searching around for a suitable recipe, I came across a delicious-sounding spicy baked coconut custard that was just begging to be made. About 10 minutes later, I also stumbled across a 'Family Favourite Custard Flan" from a cookbook (yes, another one) that was recently purchased.

It was a difficult decision, but in the end I went with the flan as it reminded me of my mum's famous sponge cakes. I did, however, simmer the coconut custard with cinnamon, star anise and cloves because I really liked the sound of the spicy custard. After making the sponge base and letting the custard layer set on top, I also added a final layer of agar-agar (jelly). Again, this was inspired by the cakes that mum is famous for. The picture does not do it justice, but trust me, the flan is delicious even though I was hoping that flavouring of the spices would shine more. If only you could smell the coconut custard! I will be posting the recipe separately as I am interstate and do not have it on me. Here's the modified recipe from a recipe book by Betty Saw I ordered recently from Singapore called Asian High Tea Favourites.

Family Favourite Custard Flan
For sponge: 45g AP flour, 15g corn flour, 3/4 tsp baking powder, 2 large eggs, 55g castor sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tbs olive oil, 1tbs coconut cream. For Custard Topping: 30g custard powder, 225ml coconut cream, 340ml coconut milk, 75g sugar, 1 pinch salt, 1/2 tsp vanilla essence, cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise.

1. Whisk eggs, sugar & vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Sift in flours & baking powder & fold quickly.
2. Stir in olive oil and coconut cream.
3. Pour batter into greased & floured 21cm round spring cake tin and bake at 190C for 15 min until well risen & golden brown. Leave to cool in tin.
4. Dissolve custard powder in a little coconut milk & transfer to saucepan. Add remaining coconut milk, sugar & salt and stir over low heat together with cinnamon stick, cloves and star anise. When mixture is near boiling, add coconut cream and vanilla extract. Keep stirring until mixture comes to bubbly boil
5. Pour coconut custard over cooled sponge & chill in refrigerator. Serve chiled.

The Yo-Yo biscuits actually came about because I wanted to bake something for my Blogging by Mail recipient. Now, I'm not really sure whether the origins of Yo-Yo biscuits are Australian, but it is a biscuit that many of us learned to make during Home Economics classes in high school and it's sold in almost every cafe too.

Yo-Yos are a shortbread-style biscuit, reminiscent of Melting Moments, that are made with custard powder. The dough mixture is shaped into balls and flattened onto the baking sheet with the back of a fork, giving it the typical pronged pattern on top. After baking, two halves are sandwiched together with a buttercream mixture.

YoYo Biscuits

Biscuit: 300g AP flour, 300g soft butter, 100g icing sugar, 100g custard powder, pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Filling: 60g melted butter, 240g icing sugar.

1. Whisk all ingredients for biscuit together.
2. Roll dough into small balls and place on baking sheet.
3. Press down gently with prongs of a fork, then bake at 180C for 10 to 15 min. Biscuits should remain pale.
4. Mix butter & icing sugar together. Sandwich two halves together with filling when cool.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Creamy, cheesy duck eggs

Okay, I 'm starting to think that I think too much about food. I was reading this post last night and guess what happened? I dreamt about eggs. Yes, you heard that right. Eggs with beautiful yellow yolks. Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this!

Upon waking this morning, I remembered the scrambled eggs I made for A a few weekends back. These were not just your everyday scrambled eggs, however. These were scrambled duck eggs. These eggs had an incredibly creamy texture and they had a (more than) slight cheesiness that made A think that I had added some cheddar while scrambling them. They are richer in flavour than chicken eggs, but I would first need to try them with soy sauce to decide if I would prefer them over chicken eggs!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

WCB 14


okay, enough...pant, pant...I'm exhausted....
We don't need a television - our crazy kittens provide high entertainment every night with their rushing around, chasing each other up the corridor and over the couch to their scratching post and back. Then one will cuff the other with her paw until the other rises to her challenge then, WATCH OUT, the wrestling match is on!
A yells 'Go Tasha!' while I'm screaming 'Come on, Bella!". Hmmm, almost better than wacthing a kickboxing match live... ;-D

Each week, food bloggers around the world share pictures of their favorite felines. Join us by sending your permalink in a comment to Clare at Eat Stuff and add a "Weekend Cat Blogging" tag to your post!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Delicious Father's Day Seafood Paella

Happy Father's Day, DAD!
I am blessed with wonderful parents whom I've come to appreciate more and more as I've grown older - isn't that always the way :-P Although mum and I are very close and I can talk about pretty much anything with her, Dad has always been my hero. So, for Father's Day, I wanted to cook a special meal for him.
There's something wonderfully decadent about eating seafood that turns a meal into an occasion. I don't think we should save it just for special occasions, of course, but what better time to try the Seafood Paella recipe for the Good Home Cookbook than Father's Day?
I picked up prawns (are these the same as shrimps, which is what the recipe actually called for), Australian scallops, mussels and clams from Victoria Market. The recipe also includes smoked sausage and as it did not specify the type of sausage, I chose to use chorizo. Surprisely, the recipe asked for long-grain instead of the calasparra rice that is normally used for paella - can anyone shed some light on why this was? Seeing as I didn't have either long grain or calasparra anyway, I substituted arborio rice into the recipe. It may have caused the dish to be a little more starchy/sticky but didn't spoil the texture or flavour by any means. After cooking the rice in safffron-infused chicken stock, the chorizo and seafood was added and the dish was finished off in the oven.
Apart from being an incredibly easy dish to cook, we have decided that this one's a keeper because it was just so smokily scrumptious! Having not had paella before, mum & dad found the flavours a little unusual but very enjoyable. As it is a recipe that I'm testing for the Good Home Cookbook, I won't post it here. If you are interested in trying it anyway, please leave me a comment with your email address.

WCB 13

Each week, food bloggers around the world share pictures of their favorite felines. To be included, just send your permalink in a comment to Clare at Eat Stuff and add a "Weekend Cat Blogging" tag to your post.

This is what Bella and Tasha spend most of their time doing...

Tonight, Tasha gave me the biggest fright! We took Bella & Tasha to a friend's apartment - she lives a floor above us. She has a little tiny dog that's smaller than my kitties, but Tasha, having never seen a dog in her life, was absolutely petrified of her! Instead of clinging onto me, however, she jumped off and ran into our friend's bedroom, out onto her balcony and straight up onto the ledge. Fortunately my reflexes were quick enough that I managed to run out and grab her before she jumped/fell off the 10th level! I am now sporting a bruise and cut on my ring finger and a cut on my palm - injuries sustained (somehow) during Tasha's rescue.

Ah, kids...

Friday, September 02, 2005

(Healthy) Lebanese Meal

I keep hearing how healthy Lebanese food is...well, yes, depending on how you COOK it! :-) Anyway, enough said about that.

Now, A & I love trying all types of cuisine but we are also aware that some people may find what we think is normal a little TOO exotic. So when we had D & L over for dinner last week, we wanted to make them something that they wouldn't normally have at home but not too out-of-the-ordinary to enjoy. We finally settled on Lebanese food as being different but still providing a certain sense of familiarity. I went down to Sydney Road and picked up some Lahme B'Ajine - Tripoli-style - and baklava. We served the Lahme B'Ajine with some delicious home-made hommus and vine leaves as entree. This was followed by Djaj a Riz, rice cooked with minced lamb topped with poached chicken and toasted pine nuts, Bazella, green peas and onion in a spicy tomato sauce, and Fattoush, a green salad made extra crunchy by the addition of toasted arabic bread. I followed the recipes from Abla Amad's book but was quite disappointed with the Djaj a Riz. I expected it to be a lot more tasty than it, unfortunately, turned out to be. I guess that's always the risk you run by going with a recipe that you haven't tested it before... Regardless, it turned out to be a lovely night, and I will leave you with the very easy recipe for the Bazella. We don't make this often but I enjoy it very much when I do get around to cooking it:

1 large onion - finely chopped, 1 clove of garlic - sliced, 1 tbs olive oil, 3 large tomatoes - chopped, 2 tbs tomato paste, 3 cups water, 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp allspice, 4 cups peas
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil over med heat until lightly browned, then add remaining ingredients, cover and cook for 40 minutes. Like a good curry, it actually tastes better the next day.