March 31, 2014

Heston's coming to Melbourne!

I found out a piece of super exciting news earlier today. Heston Blumenthal is bringing his three-Michelin-star The Fat Duck restaurant to Melbourne for 6 months next year! In a press conference held today Heston made his announcement. "I guess you are expecting me to announce the opening of a new restaurant; I'll move onto that in a bit. But in fact, what I'm going to announce now is the closing of a restaurant. I'm going to shut The Fat Duck and bring it here to Melbourne," he said, "It's the furthest migration a duck of any kind, let alone a fat duck, has made. I'm going to close the restaurant and I'm going to bring it here to Crown Melbourne Resort for six months."
Of all cities around the world, I just can't believe that he chose Melbourne. I'm already making plans to go with my friends. Just over a year ago I went to London on my own and had plans to book in at The Fat Duck but found out that unfortunately you can't book for a single person. So maybe now I'll finally have my chance to go, if we can get a booking!
Apparently the Bray restaurant will be closed for renovations so Heston will be bringing his whole team over to the Melbourne restaurant. He said that he'll be introducing some Anglo-Australian dishes to the Melbourne menu so it'll be really interesting to see what he can come up with.

Once the 6 months is over, which will be in about August 2015 The Fat Duck Melbourne will be closing. In more exciting news though, that will be when Heston's other restaurant 'Dinner by Heston Blumenthal' will be opening at Crown Casino so we'll all hopefully have a chance to try at least one (or both) of Heston's feasts.

Magnolia Bakery's Lime Pie

My gorgeous twin nieces, Indi and Maggie were baptised recently. Don't they look gorgeous in their little outfits?! I was so happy to be asked to be Maggie's (on the right) Godmother. This is the second time I've become a godmother (the other time was my other beautiful niece Ruby) and it's always so special to be asked.
The girls were so good, they're just very relaxed, happy babies. Everything went well, especially when the priest poured the water over their heads. No crying!
We had a really nice family lunch at my sister's house afterwards and I was asked to make a Lime Pie for it. I've made this pie a few times before and it's just so easy to make and delicious. It's from one of the places I visited while in New York, Magnolia Bakery so you know it's going to be great. I love citrus desserts, and I think this one has the perfect level of lime flavour - a little tangy without being too over the top.

Recipe Source:
The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook: Old-Fashioned Recipes From New York's Sweetest Bakery

March 11, 2014

Starbucks Pumpkin Pound Cake Recipe

I know it's been ages since I mentioned my new apartment but I've finally had an update this week. I was able to see the inside at an inspection held by the real estate agency. It was exciting to be able to see inside (rather than just driving by and trying to see what had been updated all the time), and while I was a little overwhelmed at how small the apartment is, I'm now looking forward to seeing what it will look like once I've moved in. It's going to be an interesting challenge getting that balance between having all that I need in there without it looking cluttered. Here's a sneak peak, I'll post more photos once I'm all moved in and have it decorated the way I want it. Isn't it pretty though?!
What better excuse to do some baking and to try out one of my many pinned recipes on Pinterest? I had a tin of pumpkin purée in the pantry so I thought I'd try out this recipe for Starbuck's Pumpkin Pound Cake. Although apparently this recipe is for a modified and slightly more healthy version of the Starbuck's one it still tastes fantastic. The spices also add a lot of flavour to what's a very dense but moist cake. 
Starbucks Pumpkin Pound Cake
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup Plain Flour
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1/2 cup Fat Free Vanilla Yoghurt
3 Egg Whites
1 cup Canned Pumpkin
Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease a loaf pan, set aside. 
2. Sift the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cloves and nutmeg into a mixing bowl. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, yoghurt and egg whites. Whisk thoroughly until blended. Stir in the pumpkin. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture. Stir until completely incorporated.
4. Pour into pan and bake for 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
5. Once cool, drizzle with a glaze or top with cream cheese icing (if desired)
Source: Something Swanky recipe for Starbucks Pumpkin Pound Cake

February 26, 2014

Lunch at Rockwell and Sons

I don't know about you, but I always feel slightly awkward going out to eat by myself, especially when there's lots of couples and other people around. I try not to let that stop me, I mean really why should it? It's just that I don't know what to do with myself, do I sit there and look around or do I use my phone or....? What do you do when you're eating out alone? Or do you try to avoid it? The other day I had a hair appointment and decided to grab something for lunch afterwards. I couldn't decide what I wanted, but ended up choosing to treat myself by going to Rockwell and Sons.
While I did at times feel like I didn't know what to do with myself, and a little awkward, it was worth going outside my comfort zone. I had a really lovely meal and enjoyed relaxing there, especially after having my hair done.
I'm not usually a big fan of soft drinks but I really liked this traditional lemonade. It was more bitter than sweet, which I prefer.
I'd have to say that this is probably the best chicken burger I've ever had. It was actually fried chicken which made the chicken very soft and juicy, with a really nice crunch from the crust. The chicken was topped with iceberg lettuce, buttermilk dressing and hot sauce, which gave it a nice bite - not too hot though!
I ordered some chips to go along with my burger and they were really nice and crispy. They came with a malt vinegar aioli which I really liked but it did become a little too rich (for me) in the end. 
This was the second time I've been to Rockwell and Sons and it's one of those places that I want to take everyone to. Hopefully I'll be able to drag some of my friends along next time!
Information:
288 Smith St, 
Collingwood, Victoria
(03) 8415 0700

February 23, 2014

Lunch at Father's Office Melbourne

After seeing a chef on TV preparing foods for the super bowl weekend, I was inspired to do a little research into what American restaurants there are around Melbourne. One that stood out was Father's Office and so after a couple of quick text messages to my friends we'd organised a lunch date. I didn't realise, but I'd actually walked past there countless times when I was in the city. It's actually part of the QV building, right near the State Library. 
I loved the interior of Father's Office, it had a mixture of different features from the big chandelier in the entry way to the dark blue pressed metal roof with rustic lights hanging from it. As you walked up the stairs one of the walls was covered in wallpaper that looked like bookshelves. There were big couches through the middle of the room and tables on the outer part of the room that looked out over the street and the State Library. 
We sat on one of these big couches which were super comfy. It made it easy to sit for hours and we ended up having a really long lazy lunch. 
The menu was set out like a newspaper, titled The Speakeasy Daily. There were definitely plenty of options for food and drink, making it hard to choose. Most items on the menu were very American with things like Louisiana Fried Wings, Philly Steak Sandwich and Key Lime Pie. I liked that while they had the rich American comfort food, there were also some lighter, healthier options. 
We started off with the obligatory cider, pear this time which was really light and refreshing. This and an apple cider were both on tap, but I can't remember the name unfortunately.
 One of my friends ordered pork scratchings to go along with her drink. Boy were there a lot of them! We all trialled them and they were really crunchy and salty - delicious - but I managed to stop after having a couple. 
This is the same friend's meal that she ordered - the buffalo wings with fries and blue cheese sauce. A very messy, but really well done dish. You had the choice of ordering 6 or 12 wings, so it could make a good dish for sharing.
Another friend ordered this very pretty looking dish - Quinoa, Halloumi and roasted vegetable salad which was very light, but nicely flavoured. 
This is the burger that I ordered - the Pork Belly burger which was amazing. The pork was beautifully soft, with some of the crackling left on and it went really well with the soft pear and apple compote and crisp lettuce. 
We couldn't resist the Home Style Mac n Cheese either, which we decided to share amongst us. That was really rich and creamy, so it was difficult to finish. Unfortunately we ordered so much food for our mains that we just couldn't fit in dessert (even in our dessert stomachs) so we'll have to go back one day to try those - especially the Key Lime Pie! 
Information:
249 Little Lonsdale St, 
Melbourne, Victoria
(03) 9662 3798

February 13, 2014

Martha Stewart's New York style Cheesecake

I meant to post this over the weekend but it's been really hectic around here (and I've got really uncooperative wifi at the moment). Sunday was especially crazy with the hot windy weather causing a huge fire to flare up near my house. Originally it was headed in our direction, so everyone but my Dad and brother in law evacuated to my sister's house. Luckily (for us) the wind changed not long after we'd left and caused the fire to head away from us. We spent the day watching the ABC news channel and listening to the water bombers (helicopters) fly back and forth over the house and trying to entertain 5 very young kids.
 Mum, Dad and I were came home Sunday night and it was so eerie driving through the burnt area and seeing the whole horizon glowing from the fire. On the one hand we were so so lucky that the wind changed and sent the fire in a different direction but I feel terrible for all those other people who have been effected by the fires. They're still going after a couple of days and I'm just hoping that all those amazing fire-fighters are able to put them out.
It's crazy to think only a day before all of this, on Saturday, we were all together as a family celebrating my Mum's birthday. Mum loves cheesecakes so I decided to try this Martha Stewart recipe for New York style cheesecake. There's a lot of cream cheese in this and it makes a huge cheesecake so you could probably half the recipe to make a smaller one. It's a great recipe though, and it went perfectly with the ice cream and strawberries one of my sisters brought over. 
Ingredients:
FOR THE CRUST-
1 packet of Marie biscuits
6 tbsp butter, melted; plus more for pan
2 tbsp sugar
Pinch salt
FOR THE CAKE - 
3.5 lb (1.5kg) cream cheese, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 large eggs, room temperature
Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Butter the sides of a large springform pan. Wrap exterior of pan (including base) in a double layer of foil.
2. To make the crust, process biscuits in a food processor until fine. Combine biscuit crumbs, butter, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Transfer mixture to the pan and pat into an even layer. Freeze the dough in the pan for about 15 minutes. Plan the pan on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is firm to touch and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire wrack to cool completely.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and flour. With mixer on low speed, gradually add sugar mixture to cream cheese; mix until smooth. Add sour cream and vanilla; mix until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined; don't over mix.
5. Pour cream cheese filling into the prepared pan. Set pan inside a large, shallow roasting pan. Carefully pour boiling water into roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
6. Bake for 45 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 160 degrees Celsius. Continue baking until cake is set but still slightly wobbly in the centre, about 30 minutes more. Turn off oven; leave the cake in the oven with the door slightly ajar, about 1 hour. Transfer the pan to a wire rack; let cake cool completely. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 6 hours or overnight. Before unmolding, run a knife around the edge of the cake.

February 6, 2014

Baked Risotto Recipe

I found this Baked Risotto recipe a while ago (I can't remember where from) and loved it. It was just so easy to make and, unlike usual risotto recipes, it didn't require you to stand over a stove for ages. But it tasted just good!
The fantastic thing about this recipe is that, even though it tastes great if you follow the recipe exactly, it's one of those dishes that you can swap and change ingredients depending what you like. My sister likes to leave out the prawns and chorizo but likes to add more vegetables like capsicum and spinach. So really you can follow the basic instructions but add any additional ingredients you want.

Ingredients:
- 250g cherry tomatoes
- 1 red onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, whole but crushed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups Risotto rice
- 1 chicken breast, cut into pieces
- 200g chorizo, cut into pieces
- 2 tsp rosemary
- 1 litre chicken stock (warm)
- 8 raw prawns
- salt/pepper to taste

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 220 Celsius.
2.  Put cherry tomatoes in a roasting tray. Scatter over the diced onion and garlic, and then drizzle the olive oil over the top. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and stir in the rice, chicken, chorizo, rosemary, stock and salt & pepper. Return to the oven for 20 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and stir in prawns. Return to the oven for an extra 10 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the chicken is cooked.

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