Friday, October 28, 2011

Crash Hot Potatoes Recipe

Like I've mentioned before, this blog is really a space for me to share my daily personal experience and joy about food, which is what I'm going to do right now.

On a normal weeknight, my meals are pretty straight-forward. I'm out all day and do MOST of my cooking at night, which is pretty much the same as what all you working folks go through each day. By then, I really only have minimal capacity to cook nothing but seriously simple dishes. I save my "experimental" cooking more for the holidays or the weekends and stick to routine on the weekdays.

Like I said, weekdays are really straight-forward but every dinner normally consists of meat/fish + veg + carbs. But different variations of each. It's just what I've been used to for dinners growing up. Then, I will decide whether I'm doing Asian or Western that night. When it's Asian night, I'd eat (lots of) rice for carbs. For Western night, it'll be potato or pasta.

I've made so much mashed potato over the years for Western night because it's one of the first few things I learned to make for myself. Even though I've done SO many variations, mash is still mash. And I'm so bored of having mash for Western night.

That's why I go to The Pioneer Woman's cooking blog for lots of ideas and inspiration to kick myself out of my rut. She shares recipes that are just as hearty and delicious as they are easy to make, with amazing step-by-step photography and food styling. Truly a remarkable woman.

So today, I invite you to try this Crash Hot Potatoes recipe that I've been making from her site. It's crazy simple and great to make if you want to change things up a bit from your usual potato recipe. You don't even need quantities in the recipe and you'll see why. Like I said, I'm quite bored of doing mash already so I will be trying lots of different things with potatoes from now.

One last thing, the recipe calls for the use of a potato masher, which I don't have. So, what I do is I pierce the taters with a wooden spatula before flattening it with the bottom of a small pot. Not ideal but heck, it works. It may scatter because the bottom is smooth and there's no grip but I just scoop them back together, easy. All good though, because those small crushed bits just gives more surface area of crunch after they're baked, which I love. But, yes. If you do have a potato masher, it's much easier and cleaner to press with.

Enjoy! =)


Crash Hot Potatoes
(adapted from this recipe by The Pioneer Woman)


Baby potatoes *
Herbs of choice to taste **
Kosher salt to taste
Cracker pepper to taste
Olive oil

* Make as many as you want, as long as they can fit in the baking tray
** I used Rosemary and Dill for this, fresh herbs are preferable


Preheat oven to 230 deg C. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add in as many baby potatoes as you wish. Cook until they are fork-tender. On a sheet pan/baking tray, generously drizzle with olive oil. Place tender potatoes on the pan leaving plenty of room between each potato.

With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato 90 degrees and mash again. If not, pierce the potatoes with a wooden spatula and make several incisions before pressing it down with a pot. Scoop potatoes back together if they scatter.

Brush the tops generously with more olive oil. Sprinkle herbs on top and crack lots of salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Baked chicken schnitzels with homemade Mushroom & Rosemary sauce, Salad and Crash Hot Potatoes

My complete "Western meal" with meat + veg + carbs. Was totally contented and happy after =)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Strawberry Lassi Recipe

So... I'm taking a little break from my Sydney posts for a while even though I've still got just a few more to go (including our degustation at Marque!). But, I really don't feel comfortable rushing through it and more importantly, my FINAL exams of my entire undergraduate degree is just around the corner.

So... Forgive me if I take a little more time off this space than usual to focus on that because it's very, very important to me. After all, almost at the end of 4 hard years of going through an Engineering degree, I'm really at the final home stretch, so wish me luck!

For that reason, I will be sharing more recipes instead until my exams are over (yay!!) because I find them much easier to blog about than reviews. Again, I apologise if my posts are much shorter and I don't visit your blogs or reply comments as regularly during this time. But believe me when I say this that I am thinking of you guys and trying my best to juggle life as a student/blogger hehe.

ANYHOO, on to the recipe. I was thinking of sharing earlier recipes from my ever-growing "collection" but strawberries are on sale almost every day now so I don't want you guys to miss out!! Though, I actually wrote this up when the weather was really warm but looks like Melb's getting cloudier/wetter so I'm hoping you keep this in mind anyway when the heat wave strikes later on ;p

I bought 3 punnets of strawberries for $4 at Victoria Market (Vic Mark for short) last week and immediately knew I wanted to make this. The thing about fruits that go on sale is that they tend to be quite ripe. Which is fantastic because the flavours are sweeter BUT can be quite easily bruised and sometimes, a bit "mushy". In times like these, I firmly believe that the one of the BEST things to do with these ripe fruits is to blend them for desserts or delicious drinks such as this Strawberry Lassi instead of eating them as they are. This is to get their flavour and not the texture.

And whenever I make Lassi, I always use Greek Yoghurt instead of normal yoghurt. I just like the consistency that comes out of it very, very much. Though thick, but incredibly smooth down the throat. It's more of a personal taste but if you haven't made Lassi before with Greek Yoghurt, I suggest you try and see what I mean =)

The end result.... Amazing. I made 4 tall glasses of these which was PERFECT for last week's sunny weather. Each day that I came home, I just reached into the fridge to have one cold, mighty glass of these "bad boys" to cool myself down. Plus, I felt really healthy because everything was 100% natural and I was having such a high intake of fruits and yoghurt each day. Mum would be proud ;p

I love that feeling so if you haven't made one of these before, I suggest you try them because they're CHEAP, refreshing, healthy and takes close to no time to make -- WIN!! On a side note, feel free to use any berries/fruits that you find on sale too, they're equally as satisyfing =)


Strawberry Lassi
(makes 5 1/2 cups or 1.4 L)


3 punnets (or 3 x 250g) strawberries
500g Greek Yoghurt
1/2 cup milk *
3 tbsp caster sugar (or to taste) **

* Add more if you want to thin it out
** Add more or less according to liking


Briefly wash before removing the cap off strawberries with a knife.

Put everything in an electric blender (or use a hand blender) and pulse till smooth. Taste to adjust sweetness and consistency. Pour into glass, glad wrap the top and refrigerate before drinking.

Optional: Garnish with more diced strawberries but totally unnecessary. I did them just for the sake of photos, so no dramas =)

Sooo refreshing... Ahhh ~ =)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bills, Surry Hills

So on our third day in Sydney, we had originally planned to go to Ms G's for lunch after hearing so much about it and seeing it on Masterchef. All the excitement died as soon as we got there and realised they were CLOSED for lunch, arghhh...

After some quick thinking, one of my friend made a brilliant suggestion to go to Bills in Surry Hills instead, which wasn't too far away. Awesome sauce. So off we went on a Maxi Cab to our next destination...

And MAN, was it a good call or what. I don't know if it was cause of the dishes we ordered, but I was REALLY surprised by how much I loved everything I ate there. So, so much. Especially after the decision to go there that was due to an unforeseen circumstance. I'll be even more bold to say that it turned out to be one of the meals I enjoyed most throughout the whole trip. Let's not waste time...

Soy Piccolo Latte

Coffee was average and a bit more bitter than usual. I don't know if you can tell from the dark colour of the foam... All good though, because I really didn't mind anyway. Just an observation... =)

Sweet Corn Fritters with Roasted Tomato, Spinach and Bacon - $18.50

GREAT! The corn was so buttery and sweet. But what I loved most was that these fritters weren't too dense and made with just the right amount of flour and very crispy. In every way, these fritters were truly perfect.

And beneath that you get these roasted tomatoes which were just divine and bursting with flavour. The bacon wasn't too dry or salty too which was great. Though to be frank, what would've made this even better than it already is, was if they served this with some homemade relish or chutney too. Still, LOVED this!

Ricotta Hotcakes with Fresh Banana and Honeycomb Butter - $17.50

By golly, these pancakes were seriously lighter than air. I only hope that this photo does the dish justice when I say that they were absolutely soft, pillowy and fluffy. Served with that beautiful butter and bananas on the side, this plate of pancakes really does set the bar high for fluffy pancakes everywhere! FANTASTIC!

I love my friends for always lending me a hand and putting up with my foodie obsession despite their hunger! ;D Photo courtesy of Miss Su

Miso Glazed Salmon with Soba Noodles, Avocado, Watercress and Apple Salad - $26.00

Shucks... Another dish that absolutely had me on my knees and I do not even know where to begin to tell you why. First of all, can you please look at how PERFECTLY that salmon is cooked in the middle?!?! Especially for such a thick chunk, the taste of the salmon that was so beautiful and nowhere dry was what first caught my attention about this dish.

On top of that, I really love soba dishes, hot or cold. But preferably hot, which was what this was and it made so much sense to be paired with the salmon. The noodles were light and refreshing with bountiful toasted sesame seeds which gave the noodles extra character in terms of flavour. Not to mention the crunchy apple salad and avocados that were given in just the right proportion to compliment the fish.

I really enjoyed this dish and actually found myself nodding to myself a lot as I was eating from start to finish.... Gosh, I miss this already.

Dishes were shared amongst three of us so we could sample more food together. Do you guys do that too? =)

Thinking back, I keep wondering to myself whether I enjoyed the corn fritters, hotcakes or salmon dish more? What a wonderful debate to have with myself, right? And honestly, I can not decide. They were each fantastic in their own way and I truly hope that they maintain their standard every time. Huge bummer if they don't.

Oh and another thing, I was having brekkie with a friend about 2 weeks ago and he actually mentioned that this restaurant was owned by none other than Bill Granger himself! WHAT?! (FYI, all opinions formed on the day prior to my knowledge of this)

To be honest, I don't even know what Bill Granger looks like or who he actually is. I've only seem his name on the Internet in all the amazing recipes I've come across through Blogs and Facebook, but his recipes really speak to me. From what I've seen, his ideas and execution of food is really what sets him apart, and I don't know even own his cookbook. He takes simple, every day ingredients and presents them in a huge variety of simple, delicious manner. I should really pick up his cookbook and cook my way through it because I have no doubt that it's a great addition to have in my home.

ANYWAY, all the Bill Granger talk aside, I don't think the food we ordered were very uncommon. However, the execution was just impeccable and what brought it home for me. I enjoyed this meal a lot and I hope you will too (that's to say if they maintain their quality, at least). Oh, and my friend shared with me this link of 50 things to eat in Sydney and guess what? The Corn Fritters from Bills made it to No. 14 -- IMPRESSIVE!

Hope you enjoyed this post!

If you'd like to talk to me, I'm active on:

Come say HI! I'm always keen to connect with people through social media =D

Bills on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 17, 2011

Suminoya, Sydney CBD

G'day everybuddy!

How's everyone doing? Well, I hope! So, Suminoya was one of the few meals that we were particularly excited about prior to the our Sydney trip. I mean, we were doing a Food Trip and what better way to celebrate that than to go for an all-you-can-eat Buffet. And not just any buffet... A JAPANESE buffet... Well, Japanese BBQ Buffet to be more exact. Yeaaaaaaa boy.

I was actually talking to a friend who recently moved to Melbourne after growing up in Sydney his whole life about places to eat, and one of the places he mentioned was Suminoya. My eyes lit up O_O. I actually remembered this place when I was in Sydney about 3 years ago! A friend brought us there for dinner on our last night that trip and it was GREAT. At least, from what I could remember. I immediately decided that we HAD to go there for dinner again! Even though I hadn't heard about this from food blogs or Urbanspoon.

Honestly... SO glad we did because it was actually better than I remembered it! Thank goodness... This restaurant is tucked away in a tiny alleyway just adjacent of Martin Place in the CBD. Price per person is either $41 or $49, the latter being more extensive with an additional page to the menu, which includes sashimi. You can check out the full menu: here.

We went with the $49 one because we came all the way so, "why not"? It was steep but we really did feel we ate our money's worth. Seriously.... We ate a LOT.

View of one side of the restaurant


Salmon Sashimi

You know how when you go for buffets you normally try to eat the most expensive/valued dish you can find? That means lots of seafood and the most expensive meat you can get. Yeeeeeerp.... Sashimi is usually one of them and let's just say that we ordered a LOT of these...... Hur hur hur... We're Asians in that way ;p

Prawn Salad

Prolly the one and only veggie dish we ordered that night. Even then, it was shared. It was okay, not bad. Your usual greens with a few slices of tomatoes and a couple of tiny pieces of fried prawns.


Eel Rice

Pretty good. Nice to eat and accompany the mains with...


No sauce... =(

"Salmon Flakes" Rice

Was okay. Tasted alright but a bit dry to eat (no sauce with the flaky fish)


Beef Rib Kuppa Soup or Udon

Not sure what the name means but quite forgettable hmm...

Egg Kuppa or Soup

Simple broth with egg flowers and rice. I love eggs.


Ox Tongue

SO GOOD! You have no idea how many rounds of these we ate....


We like scallops...

Shabu Shabu Style Pork Loin

Nice, thin and delicious cut of meat. But we were more interested in the beef that night...

Chicken Gristle

Curious to try this. Wasn't sure what gristle was until we realised it was the cartilage. I normally love any cartilage but this was still a bit hard because it wasn't cooked or stewed as long until tender soft. BBQ-ing them seemed a bit weird...

Mushrooms and Beef Harami

Not enough fats in the beef haha...

Pork Sausage, Pork Ribs and Beef Rib Fingers

Guys... Out of all the things that we ordered that night, those beef rib fingers (whatever they were) were hands down my FAVOURITE!!! Ox tongues were a close second. I was really surprised by how tender it tasted as soon as I put them in my mouth, as were my friends. They had good marbelisation in the meat and you wouldn't believe how good the meat tasted from the little grains of fats in them. When nicely charred and cooked to your liking... Seriously, AMAZING! We immediately ordered 5 more plates of these (and many more after that) as soon as we had the first bite.

The sausage was surprisingly nice too cause after they were grilled, the skin was so dry and crispy but the meat remained moist and chewy. Mmm =)

MORE Ox Tongue

Garlic Prawns

Cooked on the grill in the plate it came in. It was Butter. Garlic. And prawns. That's all I need to say.

FIRE!!! Can you imagine how good the meat tasted after that? It needs direct contact with fire like that to be charred to PERFECTION

One of my many, MANY ox tongues that night. While I could still be bothered taking pictures

The beef rib fingers I was telling you about. SO delicious. Had a BUTT load of these as well.

More beef rib fingers, eel rice, chicken gristle and shabu shabu pork MMMM


Green Tea Ice-Cream

Not a huge matcha or green tea fanatic but I liked this. Especially loved that it came with a tiny bit of red beans and CORN FLAKES. Really, really enjoyed the corn flakes in the ice-cream, actually.

Lemon Sorbet

PERFECT palate cleanser. Not too sour and I liked that it was shaved super fine. Really great way to end the meal.

OVERALL, what I really enjoyed most about the food in Suminoya was not just the quantity, but the QUALITY. Honestly, I was quite surprised by it. Really top notch and not everywhere maintains this standard, especially when it comes to buffets. Quite consistent seeing as it was still just as good even after 3 years. We just kept going for rounds after rounds of the beef rib fingers, ox tongue and sashimi it was crazy. We loved it so much.

As for dining experience, I must warn that the whole restaurant was seriously smokey. So many BBQs. Don't come unless you're like us who didn't mind the smoke and even smelling like it after our meal. We expected it already. Also, the restaurant has a strict time frame policy. You can only order for 60 minutes but allowed to eat for 90 minutes.

Despite the strict policy, we really still enjoyed our dinner because the food was SO good. Also, the time frame isn't actually as bad or short as you think. But then again, we were ordering, cooking and eating non stop the whole time so we were quite happy with the time. Really enjoyed this meal and if you're looking for a good place for Jap buffet or are into Jap BBQs, you'll definitely love this!

Happy eating and take care, every one! =)

Suminoya Japanese on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Orange Butter Cake Recipe


So while I was trying to decide on which of my recipes to post today, I realised that I've been sharing a lot of Asian recipes lately. I'm not complaining (and hopefully you're not, too ;p) but a change would be good. Starting with quite possibly, my all-time favourite, feel-good cake: The Orange Butter Cake.

For some reason, I'm not very much of a Dessert person, seriously (which is sad to say, sorry!!). I actually struggle to finish a whole slice of chocolate cake, cupcake, muffin or more than one macaron... My sugar tolerance is just lower than most and I feel full from desserts relatively quickly and I don't know why. That said, it doesn't mean I don't appreciate a good dessert, I really do. I just eat less of it.

But then again, there's certain types of desserts that I REALLY enjoy and can eat a lot of. I hope to share them all on this blog, eventually. And Orange Butter Cake is definitely one of them. Even friends that I know who aren't really into desserts enjoy this cake a lot. Boy oh boy, you have no idea how much Butter Cake I can eat especially when they're fresh out of the oven, warm and still crusty. Generally, I enjoy less sweet, light or warm desserts.

Mum wrote down this recipe for me on a piece of paper about a year ago. Though to be honest, I wasn't very sure about whether or not I should be sharing this recipe because it's such a common cake and I'm sure everyone's already got their own favourite good old-fashioned, classic Butter Cake recipe already. And there's not much variations across all of them anyway. Another thing, baking is SERIOUSLY not my forté. But, I've been making an effort to learn and improve in that department =)

But I guess that's besides the point. All I really want is just to share with you things that I love to eat. And also, what I LOVE to use when I'm baking this cake, i.e. Homemade Butter (!!!!). Ever since I bought homemade butter from Victoria Market for the first time about 3 years ago, I've never looked back. It is soooo much more fragrant and better in flavour than even the more "premium" brands, such as Lurpak or President. You have to try it for yourself to know what I mean.

But more than that, it is almost half the price. Only $10/kg which means my usual 2-stick-block of butter is only $2.50. How friggin' cheap is that?! Good for my student wallet. I buy it all the time and use it for everything now. Unless, I've run out and it's inconvenient for me to go to the market, then I would get butter from the supermarket. But, yeah. Please try buying homemade butter if you've never done so before. It makes a HUGE difference in recipes, such as this Orange Butter Cake and the aroma just comes through so beautifully with this cake =)

"Curds & Whey", where I normally buy my butter from in the deli section of Victoria Market


Orange Butter Cake Recipe


250g unsalted butter (softened) *
175g caster sugar
200g self-raising flour (sifted + 1/2 tsp salt)
5 eggs (separated)
zest and juice from 1 large orange (or 2 small) **

* Use the best butter you can find

** I normally prefer my Butter cakes more crumbly and fine. Some people prefer their butter cake moist. For that, use 2 large or 3 small oranges instead of one (as per picture below)

If prefer Classic Butter Cake, omit oranges altogether


Preheat oven to 170 deg C. Line a bread baking pan/20cm square cake pan with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Drop in egg yolks, one at a time until well combined. Stop beater.

Fold in half the flour, orange juice and zest until well combined. Fold in remaining flour, orange juice and zest. Beat egg whites until soft peaks formed. Fold in egg white to get smooth consistent batter (do not over-fold!). Pour into baking pan and bake for 45 minutes (or test if skewer poked through the cake comes out clean). Rest on wiring rack for 10 minutes.

Optional: Dust with icing sugar after cake has cooled. Just to look purrty.

Baked sometime last semester at 11pm during a midnight cake craving after watching Masterchef lol

Baked for family when I was back in Malaysia during Winter

Baked about a month ago as an afternoon snack when my friends came over to study =)

Moist version with larger granules didn't rise as high but more orange flavour and still just as yummy

This Orange Butter Cake was really the first cake that I actually baked successfully all by myself (phew!). If you're a beginner baker like me, I definitely suggest you to try this recipe out too. Good luck! =D