Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tefal Cuisine Companion Product Review: Lemon & Lime Curd Tart Recipe

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Winston received a Tefal Cuisine Companion and was also flown to Sydney to attend the launch event courtesy of Tefal Australia and Hausmann Communications

The new Tefal Cuisine Companion has now arrived here in Australia and now available exclusively at Harvey Norman stores nationwide!!

So, last month I received a very intriguing email from Hausmann Communications telling me about this new product that Tefal was launching. It's already being sold in Europe and about to hit the stores in Australia soon. I must admit, I wasn't reading the email too carefully and at first and didn't think much of it because it was on my phone and I was a bit pre-occupied at the time but it mentioned something about a product called Cuisine Companion... Something about a food processor with functions....... But then when I scrolled down further they said that they wanted to give me one for free??? And that it costs about AU$1,699????????

Wait... What? 

Hold the phone. What is this product that they are talking about and why is it costing so much? I did a quick Google search and later realised what this Tefal Cuisine Companion was all about. In short, this is Tefal's version of the Thermomix. Wow.

First of all, I had no idea that Tefal was launching its own version of the Thermomix. This is big news to me. I have always been a fan of Tefal and was actually thinking for a while now about getting a Thermomix myself. Now, you've got my attention...

What it is, it's basically an all-in-one kitchen appliance. It chops, stirs, cooks a bucket load of stuff all in the same bowl. To paint you a better picture, it's that kitchen appliance that you hear people talk about that costs a bomb to buy but cannot stop raving about how they can just dump a bunch of ingredients in the bowl, walk away, and come back to see that your food is all cooked and ready to eat. That thing.

I want that. In fact, I kinda need that. Me, being someone who is extremely used to eating homecooked food for breakfast, lunch and dinner every weekday, my biggest struggle has always been to have freshly cooked meals on a weeknight after work because I do get home quite late especially if I go to the gym after work. This is why my Sunday afternoon routine is always to spend hours to cook several dishes in bulk for me to eat for lunch and dinner for the week. So, what are my options for a weeknight dinner? Either I eat at 8:30pm (or sometimes later) after I get back or defrost yet another packed meal from my freezer. It's not great, but at least it's better than eating takeaway. I really struggle when it comes to eating out or doing takeaway on a weekday.

In fact, after deliberating about it for months, I was actually *this close* to getting one late last year as a Christmas present from Mum (because she knew how busy my sister and I were with work and knew this would help) but decided to put it off in the end. Basically, I attended a few Thermomix demos when I was in Malaysia and so we spoke about it at length about whether or not this was a good investment because it was really, really expensive. In the end, we thought it was but literally just as Mum was taking out her credit card to pay, we asked if what we were about to buy was the latest model and the lady told us "NO, there's actually a newer model than this that just came out in Australia". Why didn't you say this before?!?! NEVER MIND. We felt a little bit cheated, if I'm being honest. After all that dog and pony show of demonstrating the product and telling us how good it is but knowing fully well how expensive it was to us and that we're living in Australia, yet still trying to do this and hoping to get away with it didn't sit right with us. What if we got back to Australia and realised that after we had spent all this money, it was actually for a DATED model???? So, we walked... Actually, she came to our house so we politely said thanks no thanks and we weren't interested anymore, so she left...

Sexy little thing...

RIGHT. I apologise. I am going off on a tangent a little bit here but I thought I'd share a bit of my history with this whole thing so you understand my perspective a little bit more as I'm blogging about this.

Anyway, back to the email. Have I mentioned how darn excited I was after knowing what it is now?! It also included an invitation to a cooking demo they were holding in Sydney for the Tefal Cuisine Companion, which I respectfully declined because, well, it was in Sydney. Later, I got a reply saying that they were willing to fly me there for the event... WOW!

In my years of blogging, this was the first time I was ever flown anywhere for an event. Everything else was completely paid for too like my flights, accommodation, all my taxi fares. In fact, I was told that I was 1 of only 6 people who was actually flown in from around Australia just for this event. I felt really humbled to have been given such a rare opportunity like this, to be honest. Just humbled. 

So off I flew to Sydney for a whirlwind tour as I was only going to be there for 12 hours in total because I had to take the 6am flight the next morning to go straight back to work...

When I got to the event at the Seafood School in Pyrmont, we started off the evening with champagne (not pictured) and a demo of the Tefal Cuisine Companion, which made me feel like I was part of a studio audience of a live cooking show...

This was followed by a quick Q&A session

Next, we went next door to a massive kitchen where we each had a Tefal Cuisine Companion to play with. They gave us each a recipe to cook with, with all the ingredients measured out in tiny bowls (like you see in old school cooking shows). NOT TO MENTION, we were told before we started that we didn't need to do any washing at all during our cook (we had to wash our bowls in between) because they had people on standby to do all of that for us. Whoaaaa??

Wowsers, I must say that this was a luxury that I couldn't help but feel slightly guilty about, standing back and letting someone do the washing whenever I needed. I was wondering if the Tefal Cuisine Companion came with a full time kitchen hand to do my dishes at home too?

After we all finished our cooks, we then proceeded to the dining hall where they had this beautiful table set up ready and waiting for us... 

We were given 2 recipes that evening. The first, was this stunning Summer Risotto with lots of sun-dried tomatoes and basil... Deeelish. And so easy to make.

Then, we also made a simple cheesecake, which again was tasty and easy to make with the Cuisine Companion.

The whole event was really pleasant from start to finish and I'm so glad to be able to see some familiar faces from the blogging community and also get to meet new ones that night too. 

After we wrapped up the evening, we were each given our Tefal Cuisine Companion to take home. Again, it felt kinda cool in some ways because that night, we got to use and was also given something that was not available to the public yet.

Using the Tefal Cuisine Companion 

SO... I've had the Tefal Cuisine Companion a few weeks now and must say that I am honestly in LOVE with it. It really is just as easy to use as I had hoped or imagined. Cooking for me have honestly been made so much easier (as I have shared the predicament that I face above) and I know everyone keeps saying this, but I really, really, really like the fact that I can just dump a bunch of ingredients in the bowl, press a few buttons and just WAIT for it to be cooked without having to lift a finger. It's just something that you've really got to experience for yourself.  This really eliminates the need to stand over a stove, watch the pan and stir constantly.

It's just time I get to use to clean other parts of my kitchen or simply rest in front of the TV after a long day's work. It's great. And all I need to do later is just enjoy my food and clean the plate I ate it with and also the bowl itself. Too damn easy. And clean. The other thing I liked about using the Tefal Cuisine Companion is that cooking with it is such a CLEAN process compared to cooking over a stove where I often get splatter and need to wipe down the wall, the grills for the stove and also the stove itself when I'm done. Again, this is another convenient and time saving benefit which I appreciate.

This product really has solved a big problem I had in my life (as I've outlined above) and I am just so grateful that I can have some freshly homecooked meals at the end of a work day because of it. And even if it isn't necessarily quicker to make the same dishes over a stove, it sure as hell is easier (because you just dump it all in a bowl) and cleaner (yay for not having to clean the kitchen after you cook!). LOVE IT. I've used it so many times since I've got it and in fact, I just realised that I've actually used my Cuisine Companion 7 times in the past week alone. I swear, as long as you have it permanently sitting on your benchtop, you will find yourself using it a lot like I do. Each machine comes with a cookbook which contains SO many recipes, which you will find very handy to use too.

Prior to this, there's a few kitchen appliances which I own already like a food processor ($350), slow cooker ($80), blender ($180), stick blender ($50) and a cake mixer ($700). I can tell you now, none of these gets used as much as I thought I would and now that I own the Cuisine Companion, it PAINS me so much to say that after having spent all that money, I am very certain that all of these appliances will continue to gather a lot of dust. The other annoying thing is that my kitchen is small enough as it is and these appliances are now just taking up space. The cuisine companion really is one of those appliances that you will find yourself using quite often, which makes it quite a good investment, if you ask me. Especially if you are moving into a new home and haven't bought any appliances yet, this single machine really is all you need. Think of how much room you'll be saving too.

Product Review: Tefal Cuisine Companion versus Thermomix

I guess the next million dollar question which most people immediately asks after hearing about this product: "How does the Tefal Cuisine Companion compared to the Thermomix?". Now that I own the Cuisine Companion and having used the Thermomix several times at cooking demos and also borrowing my friends' ones to use in the past, there is definitely some noticeable differences. 

First, I must say that the final product or foods made with both appliances taste the same. 
BUT, it is for the following reasons that make me like the Cuisine Companion more than the Thermomix (and I am being very honest when I say this):

- I find the interface for the Cuisine Companion more clear, intuitive and easy to use (my sister thought so too when she used it for the first time even without watching demos or reading articles etc)
- The lid is transparent (which means you can see your food getting cooked)
- Bowl is bigger (which is very good for me because I like to cook in bulk and I do find the Thermomix's bowl to be too small)
- Price is CHEAPER (quite significantly too, as it retails for AU$1,699 compared to the Thermomix's price of AU$2,000)
- Quieter than the Thermomix
- Available through retail distrubution (at Harvey Norman) or overnight shipping (compared to having to place an order for it online or hosting a demo at your place before waiting a few weeks to arrive)

Like I said, the final food that you put on the plate from both machine tastes the same but it's the little things like that above that makes a difference... Plus, the other reason why I was really excited about the fact that Tefal was coming out with their own version of the Thermomix is because I have always been a fan of Tefal. And all my friends know it, they really do. They've heard me talk about how happy I've been with the Tefal stuff that I bought over the years and how I like it more than many other brands in the market. Their products are all made in France and are always very reliable and durable compared to the other brands I own. In fact, my friends came over for dinner a few weeks ago, took a look around my kitchen and noticed all the Tefal products I had scattered around and even they went "Wow, Winston, you really do like Tefal don't you?". Why yes, I do... 

That's why if I had to go with another competitive Thermomix product by a different brand, I sure as hell would go with Tefal. They've been good to me for so many years and I trust the brand a lot. This is me talking from my past experience with them and not from the fact that I was "just given" a Tefal product and have only "just become a fan" of them. Nope.

Anyway, as you can see I am quite happy with the Tefal Cuisine Companion. To be honest, I would've personally gone and bought this product myself if someone told me about it as we were just about to spend even more money on a Thermomix anyway (glad we didn't). And, again, because this is Tefal and not some random brand which I've never heard of. I am even happier and grateful that they chose me to collaborate with them because I couldn't have hoped for a better brand or product to work with. 

Oh, and you've gotta make this Lemon & Lime Curd if you do get one. It's so damn easy and tasty. I've gotten so many compliments for it that I've made another batch and even that is almost gone now.

Simply delicious

This curd is so addictive I highly recommend you try!

Friend snapped this sneaky photo of me and I didn't even know hah

Love the look of it too

Lemon & Lime Curd Tart Recipe

(Adapted from a recipe from the Tefal Cuisine Companion menu book)

Click here to print the recipe


For the pastry:
200g butter (chilled and cubed)
250g plain flour
125ml sour cream
Pinch of salt

For the lemon & lime curd:
3 eggs
150g sugar
20g corn starch
500ml milk
90ml lemon juice
90ml lime juice


1. To make the pastry, fit the bowl with the kneading/crushing blade. Add in all the ingredients into the bowl and press the pastry program. When finished, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out to about 3mm thick. Place at the bottom of a tart pan (or muffin tin). Trim off the edges. Place a piece of baking paper over the pastry and place some dried beans/uncooked rice/baking beads on top. Blind bake the pastry for 10 minutes before removing the baking paper with beans/rice/baking beads and continue to bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove to cool on a wire rack until ready for use.

3. To make the curd, place the eggs and sugar in the bowl fitted with the mixer. Mix at speed 6 for 1 minute.

4. Add the cornstarch, milk, lemon juice and lime juice and launch the dessert program at 90°C at speed 5 for 12 minutes, without the stopper.

5. Transfer the curd into jars or ramekins. Cover it with cling film and put it in the fridge for at least 3 - 4 hours. Place some curd in the tart and enjoy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Chinese Scrambled Egg White with Crab Meat & Dried Scallops

One of the most simple but beautiful Chinese dishes to make. Delicious to eat too!

If I could, I'd spend more time on this blog than I currently do. As you may already know, I am extremely passionate about homecooking and enjoy sharing recipes that I personally love to cook/eat and hope to inspire people to start cooking more often in the kitchen too. Besides that, there's always so many restaurants that I come across that I'm just yearning to tell people about. 

Too much to blog, too little time... #bloggerwoes

Anyhoo, this Chinese Scrambled Egg White with Crab Meat & Dried Scallops is actually a dish that I always enjoy eating but don't often see at restaurants. A few weeks ago, my dear friend Ivy invited me over dinner and made this dish for me and I was reminded once again by how delicious it was to eat. Love this! After that, I really wanted to make this dish at home too and what better opportunity to do that than when my family came over for Chinese New Year dinner (which you can read about: here).

If I'm not mistaken, this dish is of Shanghainese origin and there's a number of variations to it. Some people stir fry it with fish or prawns or what have you. Personally, I like to make it with fresh crab meat (if you can get your hands on some) and dried scallops to make it extra special. Not the cheapest ingredients to buy but as I said, it's good to cook for special occasions because it's definitely something that your friends and family will appreciate. To be honest, you could substitute with whatever you want, really. 

Besides being a fan of the taste, the other reason why I chose to make it for CNY dinner was because I wanted to cook a large number of dishes and so needed ideas for dishes that are really quick and easy to make. This was definitely that. The whole dish took about 10 to 15 minutes to cook and looked absolutely stunning on the plate, if I do say so myself. To me, this is one of those dishes that I find to be not as common for some reason so I do hope people try this one out and share with others. Seriously, too easy and delicious to make.

Hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I did. Also feel so happy to be sharing more homecooked Chinese recipes like these because it does seem like it's been awhile (apart from my last post). Feels like I'm reconnecting with my Chinese roots again -- hooray!

Happy cooking!

Chinese Scrambled Egg White with Crab Meat & Dried Scallops

(an original recipe)

Click here to print the recipe


25g dried scallops *
2 - 3 tbsp oil
3/4 cup fresh crab meat (optional) **
7 egg whites
125ml water
1 tsp fish sauce
Dashes of white pepper

To serve:
Blanched broccoli
Sesame oil
Black vinegar (optional)
1 egg yolk

* Available at Asian grocery stores
** I bought mine from Victoria Market. It was in the freezer section and about AU$35 for 500g. Expensive but delicious to use for special occasions.


1. Soak the dried scallops for 2 hours in water or until soft. After that, drain the water and dry with paper towel. Break the scallops apart with fingers.

2. Heat up a pan with 1 tbsp of oil. Once hot, add the scallops in and fry until golden and fragrant. Set aside.

3. If using crab meat, heat up the same pan with 1 tbsp of oil. Once hot, add in the crab meat and fry until cooked through. Set aside.

4. Whisk the egg whites, water, fish sauce, white pepper together. Heat up the same pan and once hot, add 1 tbsp of oil. Add in the egg white mixture and using a wooden spoon, mix the egg white around continuously until scrambled and cooked through. Stir in the cooked crab meat, if using.

5. To serve, place the blanched broccoli around the plate. Add the scrambled egg white at the centre and drizzle with sesame oil and black vinegar (if using). Scatter the dried scallops around and top with an egg yolk at the centre. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mum's Ham, Abalone & Kailan Jade Chicken Recipe (火腿鲍鱼玉兰鸡)

A childhood favourite dish that Mum makes every special occasion till this day ever since I was young. Something I look forward to everytime I'm in Malaysia!

Very glad to have learned to make this dish from Mum

Happy Chap Goh Meh (aka last Day of Chinese New Year) to everyone!

Just in case you don't know, CNY actually last for 15 days in total... 15! How fun is that, right?

Suffice to say, there was lots of overeating involved the past 2 weeks. What else are you meant to do during this festive season anyway? Whether it's going over to my relatives' house for dinner, them coming over, friends coming over, or having meals at restaurants... It's great. Not just the food, but the catchups, really.

Anyway, very happy to be sharing a dish that is very close to my heart. This Ham, Abalone & Kailan Jade Chicken (火腿鲍鱼玉兰鸡) is featured in our home in Malaysia almost every Chinese New Year or Winter Solstice Festival without fail (the 2 major feasting festive occasions). Most Jade Chickens only have the ham sandwiched with chicken. But what Mum does to make this dish extra special is to make it with abalone too, which can be quite expensive (AU$70-100 per can), and also why we only have it on special occasions. It's quite expensive but it's for that fact that we appreciate this dish even more, because it's such a treat. 

For instance, I bought my chicken for AU$20, and canned abalone for AU$88, so this dish actually costed me more than AU$100 to make. That's my family tradition anyway, but you can totally make this without the abalone and make the sauce with the chicken stock -- just as yummy! The other thing why Mum's version is so delicious is that she insists on using the best possible quality chicken she can find. For instance, the chickens she buy are corn fed, free range and of a certain breed that is known for its silky meat texture and bright yellow skin. The cost of these chickens in Malaysia can be 4 or 5 times more than the normal chicken and can even go up to 3kg each. It's sensational. I bought my chicken from South Melbourne Market. 

The thing that makes this dish quite unique as well is the method used to poached the chicken. Mum's method of heating/cooling the chicken in short bursts helps tighten the skin, which retains its shape and texture very well. Besides that, I love Mum's method of leaving the whole chicken in the pot for an hour with the stove turned off to let it cook slowly in the residual meat. Let me tell you, this really did WONDERS to the moisture and texture of the meat. My cousin ate this in disbelief at how moist the chicken was that day, especially the chicken breast! I highly recommend this whole poached chicken method.

Anyway, I am very, very happy to have finally learned this dish from Mum that I have loved for so many years. This was actually my first attempt of making it and so happy by how well it turned out! Everyone really enjoyed it that day. Traditional Chinese home cooked recipes like these (or the Chinese 8 Treasure Duck, Sour Plum Duck, etc) really are my favourite recipes to share, because of how close they are to my heart. It's so personal to me and I think people enjoy reading about them too because they tend to be the more popular visited pages on the site.

So, yay for another Chinese New Year specialty dish to share! Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. It's so special and means a lot to me.

Cheers! Or shall I say, Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Here are some of the other dishes I prepared for my relatives when they all came over for CNY dinner:

My late Grandma's Dried Oysters, Red Dates & White Carrot Soup

Recipe: here

Mum's Deep Fried Prawns

This recipe is the BEST! Recipe: here

Chinese Scrambled Egg White with Crab Meat & Dried Scallops

Recipe to follow!

Fried Garlic Chives with Chinese Sausage and Tofu

Ham, Abalone & Kailan Jade Chicken (火腿鲍鱼玉兰鸡)

Easy Roast Pork with Crackling
(served with spicy Hoisin sauce)

This recipe is a WINNER too. Recipe: here

To end the night, my cousin made me this Dark Chocolate & Orange Entremet Cake as well as an early celebration for my birthday. So, so sweet of her...


Mum's Ham, Abalone & Kailan Jade Chicken

(an original recipe by Mum)


Poached chicken:
1 large chicken (best quality you can find)
Pot of water
1 large knob ginger (sliced)
8 cloves of garlic (crushed)
2 tbsp salt

Oil rub:
4 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp salt

1 can abalone
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp corn flour + 1/4 cup water
5 large slices ham
1 large bunch kailan (poached, to serve)
Coriander (to garnish)

*Note: You can omit the abalone altogether if you wish and just make the sauce out of the chicken stock

1. Using a kitchen string, tie the chicken around the wing and through the cavity with a loop at the end so you can lift the chicken easily.

2. For the poached chicken, fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.  Add in the ginger, garlic and salt and allow to boil for 10 minutes.

3. Lifting the chicken with the string, dip the whole chicken in the pot and allow to boil for 3 minutes.

4. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside on a plate. Bring the pot of water to a boil again before placing the chicken back in the pot for another 3 minutes. Repeat this step one more time. You should have boiled the chicken in water for 3 minutes a total of 3 times.

5. Turn off the heat immediately and leave the chicken in the pot for an hour, covered. Note: If you find later on that the chicken is still undercooked (mine wasn't) when cutting it up, just place it back in the pot for a little while to boil.

6. Mix the oil rub in a bowl. Remove the chicken from the pot after an hour and rub the oil rub all over the chicken. You can reserve the chicken stock for other use.

7. Bring all the contents of the canned abalone in a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove the abalone pieces for use later. Add in the grated ginger, sugar, corn flour and water and bring to a boil. Once the sauce is thickened, switch off the stove and set aside for later.

8. Slice the thigh and breast meat off the chicken into 1cm thick pieces. Slice the abalone thinly as well as the ham to match the sizes of the sliced chicken meat. 

9. To serve, arrange the sliced chicken, abalone and ham meat on a plate. Arrange the poached kailan around the plate and pour the abalone sauce over the entire plate. Garnish with coriander. Serve immediately with rice.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Poached Salmon, Kale Latkes & Whipped Sun Dried Tomatoes Ricotta

It's a Saturday night and I'm having a quiet night in... A luxury I must admit I haven't had in a while and have thoroughly missed.

Today is the 3rd day of Chinese New Year and it seems like the festive mood is only just beginning. Today, I spent the whole day running errands as I will be cooking for all my relatives tomorrow night. Tomorrow will be a full day in the kitchen so I am making the most of this rest while I can. Cannot wait for the family to come over.

Anyway, I'm not sure if I've mentioned this previously but besides running this blog, I spent some time collaborating with David on a website he was starting, called Foodstarz ( This may sound very 21st century, but I actually met David through Instagram (@daves_kitchen), where we quickly became fan of each other's work. David is an amazing home cook from Cologne, Germany and his creations, food styling and photography never ceases to inspire me. Instead of starting a food blog, he wanted to begin a website where other homecooks and chefs are able to share their recipes too. The great thing is that anyone can apply to be a Foodstar (or contributor to the website)! The other intersting thing is that a majority of our members now are actually professional chefs and it's so good to be able to get access to their amazing recipes.

We spent a fair bit of time bouncing ideas back and forth to help get the website off the ground. That said, I must make it clear that this entire website is completely David's idea and he is the creator and driving force of it all. I was just there to assist him where I could. David was very mindful about maintaining the level of integrity and quality of the entire website. To do this, he introduced a panel of Jury which includes him, a chef from the US called Albert and myself, where we would review all Foodstarz applications. It's been a lot of fun and it just amazes me how 2 people who has never met, from completely different parts of the worlds and backgrounds, collaborate on such a fun project like this. David has since become quite a dear friend and I have nothing but the utmost respect for him.

Ever since the launch of about 6 months ago, I am so happy to see how well Foodstarz is doing right now... The amount of applications we receive and followers on the social media platform seems to be growing each day... All thanks to David's blood, sweat and tears to this project that he is ever so passionate about. The website is such a great resource for amazing food by homecooks like me or professional chefs from all around the world.

Oh, and this recipe here is adapted from one that David shared on the website a while ago and is also a snippet of the kind of food you'll find on the website. It's the kind of recipe that inspires people like me (who are always running out of fresh ideas) to cook something new in the kitchen now and then. It was actually the first time I've poached fish, made latkes or whipped ricotta but won't be my last! The final product is so delicious and I am so glad I made this dish. Do check out the website too, when you get the chance!

Poached Salmon, Kale Latkes & Whipped Sun Dried Tomatoes Ricotta

(adapted from this recipe from, serves 3 to 4)

Click here to print the recipe


Salmon* :
500g salmon 
2 cups white wine
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 stalk celery (diced)

*Note: Poached salmon may be substituted with smoked salmon

300g potato (grated and squeezed to remove excess liquid)
1 red onion (grated)
2 large red chillies (minced finely)
150g kale
3 eggs
1 tbsp corn flour
2 tbsp plain flour
Cracked salt and pepper
5 tbsp of oil

300g ricotta (low fat)
1/2 cup plain yoghurt (or more)
100g sun dried tomatoes (sliced thinly)
6 tbsp oil from sun dried tomatoes
1 tsp mixed dried herbs
Cracked salt to taste

Chopped chives (to garnish)
Lemon wedges (to serve)


1. For the poached salmon, place all the ingredients (except for the salmon) in a pot and boil for 15 minutes. Add the salmon to the pot and simmer for 7 minutes or until the meat breaks apart easily with a fork. Remove salmon from the pot and flake the flesh apart with a fork or your fingers. Set aside until ready for use.

2. For the kale latkes, mix all the ingredients in a large bowl (except for the oil). Heat up a pan and once hot, add in the oil followed by a scoop of the latkes mixture. Fry the latkes in batches until golden brown on both sides. Set aside.

3. For the whipped ricotta, whisk all the ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more yoghurt if prefer a thinner consistency.

4. To serve, stack the kale latkes on a plate and top with poached salmon and whipped ricotta. Garnish with chives and serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Stables of Como | Chimac | Hell of the North

1. The Stables of Como, South Yarra

One of the most stunning brunch venues I've ever seen...

Almost looks like a wedding venue eh?

Rumbled eggs with pancetta + truffle pecorino on griddled Dr Marty's crumpets -- $17

Chunky chips with aioli -- $5.50

Salmon + prawn fishcakes, tartare sauce, pickled onion + herb salad -- $21

Gorgeous day...

So, I want to start off by saying how beautiful Stables of Como is. As the name suggests, it was a former horse stable that has been transformed into a the Como region. For me, it wasn't the table setting or furniture or whatever that made this place beautiful, it was the location and surroundings... This cafe had a unique location because it was nested in the middle of a park (Como park, to be specific). Loved it. Oh, and the fact that the weather was incredible that day definitely helped.

As much as I enjoyed the setting and environment, I must be honest by saying that I wasn't necessarily won over by the food. The menu was a little uninspiring to me. Nothing particularly exciting to try. Overall, the execution of the dishes weren't bad, but it just tasted okay. Wouldn't say it's particularly better or more memorable than other scrambled eggs, fish cakes or chips that we've had at other cafes. Quite ordinary and forgettable food to me. Like I said, it wasn't bad. But it was just okay. 

That said, still very happy I got to try this place out otherwise I wouldn't have discovered such a stunning cafe. Even though the food wasn't my favourite, I would still recommend it to people who are looking for food in the area because maybe their experience might be better than mine. 

The Stables of Como on Urbanspoon

2. Chimac, West Melbourne

Spicy Pork Taco -- $15

Kimchi Quesadilla -- $15

Oozy gooey cheese goodness...

Retro Korean School Lunch -- $15
Seared spam rice bowl with stir fried kimchi, sunny up fried egg, fried shallots, mozzarella, garlic granule

Tofu on Kimchi Field -- $22
Tofu, cheese and caramelised kimchi

Bulgogi Burrito -- $15

Seafood Pancake -- $17
Prawns, squid, scallion

Chimac Chicken -- $32
Ultra Crispy & Wonder Soy

Chimac Chicken -- $32
Bloody Sweet & Wonder Soy

Kimchi Cheese Fries

Chimac!! Hands down one of my favourite discoveries of 2014. So much so that I've honestly mentioned this place to so many of my friends last year. It's great. What sets this place apart is that this is a Korean Mexican FUSION restaurant. It's not the only one in Melbourne but they do it here really, really well. I'll be honest, I was one of those people that have always been highly skeptical about fusion cuisines, especially when it's an Asian fusion food as it always quite horrible more often than not. I'm okay with modern asian food, but not asian fusion... Ugh.

That said, I am always more than happy to have my stubborn and narrow minded preconceived notions about food shaken proven wrong so I can learn to be open to more new experiences... Which was what this place did for me. I mean, Korean AND Mexican??? I can't think of 2 cuisines that can be any more different to one another... But it works. 

I loved everything about my meal the first time I was here so much that I found myself back there the following week. It didn't take too long before I was back there again several times after that. First, let's talk about this fusion thing. If you think about it, taco/burrito/quesadillas really are a great vessel for anything flavourful (like Kimchi or Korean Bulgogi meats) so there really is no reason why it has to stop at Mexican food. The other reason why this works is that both Mexican and Korean food uses a fair amount of melted cheese in their food, which makes the combination rather familiar and not too foreign at all. My favourite of the night was definitely the quesadilla. Baked till crisp with a gooey melted cheese layer against the bulgogi or kimchi filling. Absolutely SMASHING.

Besides that, the other highlights of my meal here was definitely the KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN (KFC) and Kimchi Cheese Fries. The chicken here is hands down my favourite one in Melbourne and trust me, I've had my fair share over the years. At the end of the day, it's not about finding out which KFC is the best, per se, as most places do it slightly differently so it's more about finding one that suits your liking the most. For me, the batter was a great balance of crisp and crunch (yes, there is a difference). It was thin and crisp but still had a bit of substance and crunch to back it up. Plus, the sauces were so delicious and not too overbearing. Finally, how incredibly juicy my chicken. Fantastic. As for the kimchi cheese fries, it was AWESOME. Bit of kimchi relish, mayo, coleslaw with a few jalapenos to finish. I would have these kimchi cheese fries over the standard American chilli cheese fries any day.

Overall, the food here is absolutely delicious. I'd definitely recommend the retro school lunch for any spam lovers out there. The kimchi and tofu is delicious because the other reason why I love the kimchi in Chimac (and you'll find that it's different to any other Korean restaurants) is that they fry and reduce their kimchi so that it caramelises, thickens and intensifies in flavour and fragrance. Beautiful. So, if you haven't been to Chimac yet I highly suggest you get your butt there soon. Who knows, I might even see you guys there since I'm always finding excuses to go there every opportunity I can.

Chimac on Urbanspoon

Chimac plus on Urbanspoon

3. Hell of the North, Fitzroy

Pulled Pork & Gruyere Doughnut -- $7 each

Crispy Prawn Fritters, Tamarind Sauce -- $7 each

Mussels, Sauce Mouclade, Jamon -- $22

Spring Lamb, Sauce Bagna Cauda -- $32

Gratin Dauphinois -- $8

Free Range Pig, Sauce a la Diable -- $32

Braised Red Cabbage, Manchego -- $8

Grass Fed Beef, Marrow Butter, Sauce -- $32

I got a random text one day from a former coursemate from my Masters degree who had moved back to Indonesia that he happened to be in town for a few days for an impromptu trip. Soon after, we found ourself here for a catchup dinner with another friend. I first heard about this place from my friend Morgan who had first introduced me to LBSS Cafe and also Chimac (yep!) so I definitely trusted his recommendations. 

I had a bit of trouble finding the place as it was along an alley and there wasn't any clear signage of the place but I soon realised that it was behind this bright but mysterious looking yellow door. Do look out for this door if you're having trouble finding the place too. So, in I go and low and behold, this place which looked rather unassuming from the outside, was bustling with people inside. And on a weeknight too, if I may add. I've been to Smith St a bazillion times over the years but how have I not noticed this place before until now.

Anyway, cocktails were had as soon as we sat down, which tasted delicious. We started off our meal with the doughnuts which were really tasty. Next, the prawns... OMG THE PRAWNS. They were amazing!! Our eyes lit wide open as soon as we took the first bite. So big in size and can only imagine how much bigger they must've been before they were cooked. Perfectly cooked with a nice crunchy texture. Flavour of the basil leaf with the sweet but dark tamarind sauce was a match made in heaven. Not sure how French it is to use tamarind but who cares. It was so damn delicious. 

Initially, the 3 of us shared 1 prawn amongst ourselves (oh, the naivety) but as soon as we finished it, we IMMEDIATELY flagged the closest wait staff we could find and ordered 3 more. Had to be done because we knew deep down that if we didn't order another serve of prawns to ourselves and it didn't matter if the meal turned out to be great or not, we knew that we would still be thinking about that damn prawn if we didn't. We were telling the manager how damn good the prawns were when he walked past and his response was, "Well, we'd better make sure we give people bloody good prawns if we were charing them $7 each". What!!! Our jaws almost hit the ground after we heard that as we had no idea that it actually costed that much. That said, it was all good as we had a huge laugh about the whole thing because I kid you not, it was worth every cent to us and I would recommend people try it too. I may have set a mountainous expectation of the prawns here after this post but that's just how we felt.

ANYHOO, besides the prawns, the mussels were really good too. Plump and juicy, set in a creamy and delectable sauce. The jamon added the perfect saltiness to the dish too. Moving on, we had the pork, beef and lamb (basically every meat main they had on the menu). Each of these meat dishes came with a grilled component and a braised one (good concept, I thought). I enjoyed the grilled lamb the most (especially with that thin layer of skin on top yum) but did find the grilled beef and pork to be a bit tough. The braised meats were cooked very well but was definitely on the salty side. We did mention this to the waiter who did say that yes, that particular chef did have a tendency of being slightly heavy handed with the salt. Lucky we had the sour coleslaw and cheesy gratin to offset the saltiness.

Overall, I still really enjoyed my meal here at Hell of the North despite the meat mains. I think there's a lot of things to like from their menu and would definitely come back for the tasty cocktails, entrees and not to forget... The PRAWNS!! The place is quite the gem and I would recommend it to people because of the great environment and also for the fact that it's European food with a twist -- something different.

Hell of the North on Urbanspoon