Blogging by mail

Blogging by Mail

Yey! I got a surprise in the post yesterday. A Blogging by mail (BBM) package!

My first package sadly went astray. But Cakelaw from Laws of the Kitchen was my BBM angel and sent me a replacement one! I hadn’t been expecting a replacement – I just chalked it up to bad luck that mine got lost. So you can just imagine my excitement when I received a parcel. I couldn’t wait to get into it!

I got:

A selection of Haigh’s chocolates
Chocolate hearts
Chocolate with pink peppercorns
Coffee candies
Olive tapenade
Raspberry shiraz conserve
A cute egg cup
And frangipani lip butter

I love it!

A big thank you to Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness for the mammoth task of organising and following up on the event, and a gigantic thank you to Cakelaw for my package. It was so generous and kind to send a replacement and I can’t express how much I appreciate it!

Food I’ve been eating

Yey! It’s time for another food round up post (aka I’ve got a backlog of photos).

So what have I been eating? Well, it appears that eggs have been featuring heavily.

Boiled eggs

There’s been boiled eggs with toast soldiers.

Scrambled eggs

There’s been scrambled eggs topped with feta, cooked Gordon Ramsey style.

Scrambled eggs

And served on toast, of course. I really like toast! If I lived by myself, I could see myself having cheese on toast for dinner most nights.

It’s a good thing I have people to cook for!

Check out the video for Gordon Ramsey’s explanation on how to make the perfect scrambled eggs.

Savoury French Toast

More egg (and bread) – one weekend I made savoury French toast. I put some grated cheese in the middle of two slices of bread, squished the bread flat, and then dunked the sandwiches into an egg mixture before pan frying. Yum!

Speaking of French toast, I have a post coming up where I’ll tell you about the brunch where we had the most sublime French toast EVER. Also known as the brunch where I got blog outed!

Pot roast

Moving away from eggs, one weekend we had a beef pot roast for dinner. It looks strangely glossy, and I promise that I haven’t being doing strange things like varnishing my food to take photos. I think it’s glossy due to the gravy that I poured over.

I thought the meat was just okay – but the carrots and celery were super tasty!


With the pot roast we also had this potato thing. Sliced garlic was softened in butter in a frying pan, then I layered thinly sliced potatoes on top with more butter. After cooking on the stove for a while, the whole thing went under the grill to cook the top. Garlic, potato, butter… I would have to hang up my apron if it had turned out anything less than scrumptious. (Fortunately it was brilliant!)

Oxtail ragu

This is oxtail ragu on brown pasta. The last time I cooked oxtail, Alastair decided that it weirded him out and didn’t want to eat it (even though he’s eaten it before). Next time I make it, I’m going to take the meat off the bone and tell him it’s normal beef!


And finally, this bowl was the last of the quinoa I had in the house. I know quinoa is very nutritious, and I’ve tried very hard to like it – but I just don’t. So no more quinoa – huzzah!

Boiled eggs
Here’s another shot of boiled eggs, because I like it, and I need to take my mind off quinoa. Note the gooey yolk – perfect for dunking toast soldiers!

Passing on the Excellent!

I’m rather hopeless with picking favourite things. Ask me what my favourite colour/movie/song/meal/fruit/etc is, and I’ll list ten items.


So it’s taken me a bit of time to think about it, but I’d like to pass the E is for excellent award on to two great blogs: to Towser from Spot4Nosh and Danny from Food in mouth. They’re both far better writers than me, so check them out!


Meals other people have cooked

Jeepers. My entire weekend has been spent cleaning the house in anticipation of my parents’ arrival on Wednesday. Now, my house is not normally that unclean, considering we all work full time and we HAVE LIVES, but every time they visit they comment on how dirty it is. Obviously the house is clean enough to me, but not clean enough to them. Being Chinese, they have very high standards and nothing is ever good enough. Kidding! Kidding! That may be the stereotype, but fortunately my folks aren’t really like that. Just with cleanliness, apparently!

Since I haven’t had any time or energy for cooking this weekend, here’s a little showcase of meals other people have cooked! Y’all know by now that I love cooking, but it’s still nice when other people cook for me. 🙂

Derm's chicken curry

My Bro’s friend Derms visited at the beginning of this year. One night he made chicken curry for dinner (with some assistance from my Bro). I find curry terribly difficult to photograph, so I didn’t do the meal justice. We teamed the chicken curry with basmati rice, and it was fragrant, tangy and spicy. Visitors who cook are visitors worth having!

Bro's lasagne

And this is a lasagne that my Bro made one evening a while ago. He cooked up a rich meat sauce, and layered it with cheese sauce and lasagne sheets.

Bro's lasagne

It’s hard to go wrong with lasagne, and despite my Bro’s grumbles about the cheese sauce, there was nothing wrong with this lasagne. It was pretty ace, actually.

Roast lamb

When my mother in law, Annette, was here the previous week, she offered to cook dinner one evening. Alastair got to choose a meal, and he asked for a lamb roast. Poor lad, he only gets a few roasts a year from me! This is the roast lamb, perfectly cooked and tender.

Roast veges

Along with the lamb there were roast vegetables: pumpkin, kumara/sweet potato, parsnip and roast potatoes. The pumpkin and kumara had softened up and become sweet and slightly caramelised. A special mention must also be made of Annette’s roast potatoes, which were gorgeously crispy with a pillowy soft centre.


And she even made gravy! Proper gravy!

Roast dinner

Ahh, it was a good meal.

Blueberry & yoghurt

But that wasn’t all! There was also dessert – yoghurt sweetened with honey and orange juice and layered with blueberries.

Roast lamb salad

There was lots of lamb left over, so the following night we had the rest with some salad. The lamb was tender and garlicky, and the salad was thrown together from bits and pieces that has been hiding in the bottom of my fridge. Nom nom nom.

Bloomin’ easy vanilla cheesecake + Easter, a birthday, & anniversary

Easter this year was pretty special. I always love having four days off, but this year Easter coincided with Alastair’s birthday (on Saturday) and our first year wedding anniversary (on Monday).

We celebrated Alastair’s birthday at home with Birthday Lasagne. Every year, I ask him what he would like for dinner on his birthday. I offer to make him anything. And every year he asks for lasagne! I’m often rather critical of my cooking, but even I thought that his Birthday Lasagne this year was frickin’ awesome! The meat sauce was flavoursome and rich, having simmered for a couple of hours, and there was oodles of cheese.

Apart from Birthday Lasagne, Alastair also had Birthday Pancakes and Birthday Cheesecake. He was rather spoilt.


The recipe for the cheesecake was from Jamie Oliver’s “Cook with Jamie” (the recipe is at the end of this post). In the book, he calls it the Bloomin’ Easy Vanilla Cheesecake. Was it easy? Well, it would’ve been much easier if I hadn’t been trying to juggle making lasagne at the same time! I broke my food processor pulsing the crumbs for the base – the tabs locking the bowl in place snapped. Then the cream cheese wasn’t quite soft enough when I started beating the filling, and I got cream cheese on my face, on the bench, on other appliances, basically everywhere!

The other thing to note about this cheesecake is that it’s HUGE. It has almost a kilo of cream cheese in and although the book says it serves 8-10 people, I reckon 12 people is a more accurate number. If I had realised just how big it was going to be, I would’ve scaled it down. It’s pretty rich and filling, so it’s not the kind of dessert where you’ll have seconds. We had a piece of it after our anniversary dinner the next day, and I thought it tasted better after sitting in the fridge for a day.


We also celebrated our anniversary in the weekend, again at home. We popped a bottle of champagne that had been a wedding present (thanks Scott!) and I prepared some garlic and chilli tiger prawns, steamed mussels, pan-fried salmon and tuna sashimi.


It was a wonderful way to celebrate our anniversary. And we had such a lovely weekend that it was hard to go back to work on Tuesday!

Cheesecake slice

Bloomin’ easy vanilla cheesecake

From Jamie Oliver’s Cook with Jamie
Serves 8-10 (serves 12 in my opinion)

150g /5 & 1/2 oz unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
250g /9oz digestive biscuits, crushed
115g/4oz caster sugar
3 tablespoons cornflour
900g/2lb full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
2 large free-range eggs
115ml/4 fl oz double cream
1 vanilla pod, scored lengthways and seeds removed, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange

for the cherry compote

400g/14oz stoned cherries (I used a punnet of raspberries)
3 heaped tablespoons caster sugar
options: a swig of port or whisky
icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F, and grease and line the bottom and sides of a 24cm/9 & 1/2 inch springform cake tin. Mix the biscuits and butter in a bowl, press into the base of hte prepared tin and cook for 10 minutes. Then remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Turn the oven up to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F. Combine the sugar and cornflour in a bowl. Add the cream cheese and beat, ideally with an electric whisk, until creamy. Add the eggs and beat well. Gradually add the cream, beating until smooth, then beat in the vanilla seeds or extract and lemon and orange zest.

Scrape the mixture on to the biscuit base, and gently shake it to level out the surface. Put the cheesecake in the centre of the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minjutes until the top is golden brown and the filling has set around the edges. (A piece of foil over the top will stop it browning too much.) Let it cool at room temperature and serve after 2 or 3 hours. Or, for a slightly firmer texture, put it in the fridge until it’s nice and cold.

Before serving, put the cherries in a pan, sprinkle over the sugar and add a splash of water. Put on a low to medium heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. If you’ve got some port or whisky handy, feel free to add some. When the compote has reduced down it may be a little dry, so add a splash of water to loosen it. Remove from the heat and let it cool down, then serve spooned over the cheesecake with a dusting of icing sugar.

Harvest picnic at Hanging Rock

Last Sunday we went out to Hanging Rock for the annual Harvest Picnic. I had given the Boys a leaving time before we went to bed, but unfortunately my Bro was a touch hungover and needed a bit of prodding. It was a slower start than I wanted, but eventually we climbed into the car and headed off.

45 minutes later we had arrived and parked (in a paddock). All around us were people pulling chairs, baskets and eskies out of their cars. It was our first time to the Harvest Picnic, and we felt very under prepared carrying a single picnic blanket!

We had a wander around before deciding on what we were going to buy/eat. Typical of these type of events, there were lots of stalls offering samples/tastes of wine, cheese, spices, preserves and oils. There were also quite a few stalls where you could buy different things to eat.


The Boys had a buffalo sausage. I sampled some buffalo cheese, which was rather good. I didn’t buy any though.


They also had a caffeine fix. I’m told it was average coffee, but then what can you expect from a portable stand?

goz stall

I had a lamb, cheese and spinach gozleme. There was a big queue by the time I got to the stand but I entertained myself by watching them being made.


The gozleme was a tad salty, but got scoffed down pretty quickly.


Bro had a chicken pie. It looked awesome but I’m told it was just okay.


We also had a calamari skewer and a sweet chilli prawn skewer. I’m not a fan of sweet chilli, but the prawns were actually really good. They tasted more garlicky than the usual sickly sweetness that sweet chilli has. The calamari wasn’t so great though – by the time I walked them back to where our picnic blanket was located they were cold and a tad tough.


And finally I also bought a smoked salmon plate to share. A couple of pieces of pide, a fair amount of smoked salmon, pickled onions, gherkins and some tartare sauce. I somehow managed to inhale the vinegar fumes when I was eating the pickled onions and it gave me a big coughing fit!

To finish off, I had a nice piece of Turkish delight that I neglected to take a photo of. It was rather nice, but not the best Turkish delight I’ve ever eaten. I’m not a huge fan of Turkish delight, but I once ate a piece that was super smooth and silky. I’m still trying to relive that moment.

We also went home with a few items – some fresh mushrooms, 3 blocks of cheese (two cheddar and one blue), and some spices and dukkah. I’ve been eating little pieces of cheese every day since we got back. Now I remember why I don’t buy nice cheese unless there’s an occasion. I eat too much of it!

Australia Day food porn: a tale of two BBQs

Watermelon slushie

We were fortunate enough to have two BBQs during Australia Day weekend. Here’s some BBQ food porn.

The first one was at our place on the warm Saturday evening. I kicked things off with a watermelon and ginger vodka slushie.


Naturally, there were packages of mystery meat. Or sausages.

Grilled vegie

We grilled some zucchini and onions that had been tossed with olive oil, garlic and thyme.

Vegie patties

As well as some vegetable patties.

Potato salad

And what BBQ is complete without potato salad?


The next day we headed to a friend’s place for another BBQ. All the “men” remained inside while the gals tended the BBQ.


Check out the butter in those mushrooms! Oh yeah.

Sausages on BBQ



Some chicken.

My plate

And here’s my plate with a little bit of everything!

What I’ve been eating

It’s time for another “What I’ve been eating” post!

Grand Asia
Target Centre Arcade
236 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Curry beef noodle soup ($7.80)

Curry beef soup
The curry beef noodle soup was hearty, thick and tangy. It was perhaps a touch too sour.

Curry beef soup noodles
The meat was a tad fatty although tender, and the noodles were thick hokkien noodles (my favourite!).

Haninese chicken rice ($7.50)

Chilli sauce
I had been eyeing up the Haninese chicken rice during the prior lunch, so I made a trip back. It was served in a cute little boat shaped dish. Here you can see the chilli sauce and the ginger and garlic sauce.

The rice was okay. There was a bit of flavour, but also a touch too much msg, judging by the thirst I had afterwards.

Normally the soup that you get given is similar to flavoured chicken stock. Surprisingly, the soup was very good! As you can see, it even had bok choy in it.

Hainanese chicken
Here’s a shot of the chicken. The chicken was moist and tender and drenched in soy.

Cafe Bland

Cafe Bland
Our favourite cafe was closed this Sunday, so we went to another. We used to visit Cafe Bland, but stopped when they had a change of management. Recently they had another change of management, so we thought we’d give them a chance. I was feeling a tad seedy and ordered a schnitzel foccacia. It was SO bland – someone needs to learn how to use salt! I could not believe the total lack of flavour in the schitzel. Also, the foccacia had been toasted, and the lettuce inside had become limp and unappetising. The cucumber had also cooked and tasted awful.

I ordered wedges, as I didn’t realise the foccacia came with chips. There was no mention of chips on the menu, and the waiter didn’t mention it when I ordered the wedges. Grrrr. Oh well, at least the wedges tasted of something! It’s hard to screw up wedges (thank goodness).

Noodle Kingdom
175 Russell St, Melbourne 3000
Phone: (03) 9654 2828

Lanzhou beef noodle soup ($7.50)

Beef soup
I was wandering down Russell Street recently, when I noticed a man in the window of Noodle Kingdom making noodles. It was so exciting! I went back a couple of days later and tried their Lanzhou beef noodle soup.

Beef soup noodles
The noodles were fresh and chewy, and the soup was fragrant and chock full of coriander. There was a lot more beef than I was expecting too. After I had finished all the noodles I kept finding slices of beef in the bottom of my bowl!

And finally, a few things I’ve been cooking.

Udon noodles

Noodle soup
It seems like I’ve been eating a lot of noodles recently. I had some chicken stock in the freezer, and dug that out to make a noodle soup. I threw in some fresh enoki, oyster and shitake mushrooms, as well as some silken tofu.

Noodle soup
A bowl full of goodness!

Vegie pattie roll

Vegie pattie roll
For dinner one evening I threw together some vegie patties, and popped them in a toasted roll with a yogurt and cucumber sauce.

Soba noodles with enoki and oyster mushrooms

Soba noodles
And finally, I had some mushrooms left over from the udon noodle soup night. I sauted them with some garlic and onions, then tossed them through soba noodles with mirin and soy sauce. It turned out rather brown (although I do quite like the photo), but it tasted good.