July 19, 2014

The Spotted Owl Cafe, Sunbury

A new cafe has opened up in the town I work in so of course I had to give it a try. While there's a few places I can go to eat during my lunch breaks there's no amazing cafes in the area. I was pleasantly surprised with The Spotted Owl. It's a very light, bright and modern cafe - more of the type you would find in Melbourne, with little potted plants in the entry way which I really liked.
I've been a couple of times since they've opened and have really enjoyed all of my meals. They do some very interesting but tasty combinations that work well.
I think the only thing I've been slightly disappointed with each time I've been has been the coffee. Each time I've ordered my usual skim latte and while it's...okay...there's just a strange taste to it that's not very pleasant. I do love the green plates that the coffees are served on though.
The first time I went I tried the smashed avocado and chickpea on toast and asked for a poached egg on the side. I love avocado so really loved this. The chickpea added that little bit of difference in texture to your usual smashed avocado dish. 
While I was there that first time I spotted people with a dish that looked like Eggs Benedict but couldn't find it on the menu. The second time around I realised that it was on the menu as The Breakfast Stack. This was a little bit of a twist on the usual Eggs Benedict though with the addition of melted cheese, avocado and tomato relish. I liked this version, but I think it was a little too rich because of the cheese - I'd rather stick with the usual Eggs Benedict in the future (with the addition of some avocado - yum!). 

93 O'Shanassy St
Sunbury, 3429

June 17, 2014

Pumpkin Cinnamon rolls

I love making these pumpkin cinnamon rolls. It's just so fun to see the swirls and colours come together, as the rolls rise and bake. I know, I'm a nerd. I made them again just the other day, so I could take some to work as treats for the people I work with. They never last long around my house, and in the office it was the same.
 The recipe that I used to make these called for a caramel icing. This is one of the things that drew me to the recipe, but I found it just a little too overwhelmingly sweet. So this time I decided to try the rolls with a simple glaze. I think it worked out really well.
Pumpkin Cinnamon rolls
[printable recipe]

1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 cup plain flour
1 cup bread flour

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, melted

4 tbsp butter
2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3-6 tbsp hot water

1. Prepare rolls: In a small saucepan, heat milk and 2 tbsp butter until just warm and butter is almost melted, stirring constantly
2. In a large mixer bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar and salt. Add milk mixture and beat with an electric mixer until well combined. Beat in egg and yeast. In a seperate bowl, combine flours. Add half of the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture. Beat on low speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl frequently. Add remaining flour and mix thoroughly (dough will be very soft). Turn into a lightly greased bowl, then grease the surface of the dough lightly. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
3. Punch dough down. Turn onto floured surface. Knead a few turns to form a smooth dough, sprinkling with enough additional flour to make dough easy to handle. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 12x10 rectangle.
4. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Brush the surface of the dough with melted butter. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the top of the dough. Beginning with the long side of the dough, roll up jelly-roll style. Pinch the seams to seal. With a sharp serrated knife, gently cut the roll into twelve 1 inch slices. Place rolls cut-side-up in a greased baking pan.
5. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, 30-45 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 180°C. Bake the rolls about 20 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the pan to a baking paper lined wire rack. Cool the buns 10-15 minutes.
7. While the rolls are cooling, prepare icing: Mix butter, icing sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Add hot water 1 tbsp at a time until the icing reaches the desired consistency. Drizzle over the top of the rolls and serve. 

June 12, 2014

Tarta de Santiago recipe

I found this recipe in the latest issue of the Gourmet Traveller magazine and thought it would be perfect to make for my Dad's birthday. After all the help he's been giving me with my apartment, and getting things done there it was the least that I could do. I had pretty much no storage in the apartment when it was built, apart from the kitchen cupboards but now I have pantry cupboards, wardrobes and a great cupboard in the bathroom all thanks to Dad :)
The addition of the dulce de leche made it just all the more appealing. Yum! The Tarta de Santiago is traditionally decorated with a fancy cross stenciled in icing sugar, but I thought the heart would mean a bit more to Dad. It looks quite sweet, I think!

May 25, 2014

Thistle Be Good!

I was lucky enough to receive a mixed box of goodies from South Australian company Thistle be Good for Lifestyle channel's Try it, Rate it program. My box included Wild Mushroom & Tarragon risotto, Persian Quinoa with dates & pistachios, Moroccan couscous with currants, a Moroccan rub and a tub of Egyptian Dukkah. What a week of amazing meals I've had since this package arrived in the mail!

I decided to try out the Risotto first, as a side dish to the . I was amazed that such little effort and ingredients, especially compared to cooking a risotto from scratch, could turn out so well. No not just well, but one of the best tasting risottos I've had. The mushroom and tarragon flavours, with the parmesan, really worked well together. The flavours were light, and really tasty - not too rich or salty like some risottos I've tasted.
The couscous was even quicker and easier to make than the risotto, if that's possible. The flavours were really lovely and the couscous itself was very light and fluffy. I could smell the wonderful combination of spices as soon as I opened the packet. There was just the most subtle heat to the couscous too, but nothing too overpowering, just a small amount that grew on the tongue and then faded away as quickly as it came. The currants added a lovely sweetness to the whole dish as well.

I decided to follow the recipe provided on the packet of the Moroccan mayhem rub (except that I used my slow cooker) and I'm so glad that I did. The result was a fantastically delicious slow cooked dish with wonderful flavours and soft lamb falling off the bone. The spices, which were rubbed on the lamb shanks at the start of the cooking process, went right through all of the ingredients and gave off a lovely amount of heat which became more subtle with the addition of greek yoghurt.
We served this on top of the Persian Quinoa which was another star product - and also really easy to make. There was a lovely flavour through this, which was complimented by the crunch of pistachios through the dish.
To be honest I don't know a lot about dukkah, but I'm looking forward to doing some research and making some dishes with it. I did see online the option of having some bread dipped in olive oil and then the dukkah which I tried and really enjoyed. It was just a really simple, lovely idea. I loved the crunch and the flavours of the spices.

These should definitely be a staple in everyone's pantry. They're just fantastic to have on hand in case you need to make a really tasty, but quick meal after work or just when you're in a hurry.

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
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
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

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