Monday, February 25, 2013

Recipe for Fig Frangipane Tart with Sour Cream Pastry and Creme Anglaise, Fizzy Passionfruit and Mint Punch for my Birthday Picnic

A deeeeeelicious tart that is actually really simple to make! 

I'm that person that have always been quite shy about my birthdays, believe it or not. 

Even though I always have a celebration every year, it really is more of an excuse for me to gather my friends/family together to share a meal. Just saying that it's for "my birthday" makes me kind of uncomfortable already. Maybe it's because I feel like it puts me under a really awkward spotlight for the day that I don't even know how to react to it. Same when people IRL ask me about my food blog. That said, I care about people coming together for the meals very, very much. Also, I am more than grateful for the great friends and family I have in my life. I appreciate every single one and me throwing a "birthday party" is more a celebration of the people I am blessed with in my life than anything else. 

So this year, I thought I'd invite my friends over to a picnic at the park. Chilling out at the park is one of my favourite things to do. Ever. And with food, friends and kickass weather involved, it really was my ideal "birthday celebration" to have. Although, my real birthday is actually on Monday and I'm looking forward to another get together then.

The menu is actually a reflection of food that I have come to LOVE to eat. The local food, cuisines and fresh produce that I have fallen madly in love with ever since I moved to Australia. Very different from the heavy, Asian and rice-centric (lol) meals I've grown up with in Malaysia. I don't prefer one over the other, but I must say that I do love my salads and Italian cold meats with good quality bread. Maybe it's because I've been having it so much with my colleagues at our weekly Friday lunches =)

To be honest, the past year has actually been the best year of my life. Got my PR. Graduated from Masters. Got a job that I love. Great friends and family. Really does feel like I'm rich in the things that matter. Counting my blessings each day and definitely going to look back on the year that I was 22. I know, I'm much younger than most people think. 

As much fun as it was being 22, I'm sure being 23 is going to be even more AWESOME. 

Here's a recap of what I prepared:

Bought 8 beautiful figs for $3 at Victoria Market

Still very new to figs but absolutely LOVEEE it. Whether it's in a salad, tart or just on its own, I've just loved every experience I had with it. YUM

Love this photo that my friend took!! 

Spread of food before us but whole party standing aorund and waiting for me to finish taking the photos one by one hahaha...

Sun-Dried Tomatoes Hummus using Yasmeen's recipe

It's so pretty and yummy. Thanks for that, Yas! Loved it and went so insanely well with the Turkish pide bread!!

Tuna Pasta Salad...

...Using the filling from my previous Tuna Melts Recipe

Gypsy Ham

Love that there's this awesome Italian deli near my workplace!



Mortadella with Black Pepper

Rustic Ciabatta with Italian Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

This Ciabatta from Victoria Market was soooo good I couldn't get enough of it!

Also bought some delicious Turkish Pide and Olive Baguette (not pictured) for the day

Smoked Cheese and Gouda

Actually bought some delicious Jarlsberg cheese too, but I left them at home. Argh!!

Super easy and refreshing Fizzy Passionfruit and Mint Punch 

Personally love this so much

My homemade Fig Frangipane Tart with Sour Cream Pastry and Creme Anglaise!

With frangipane filling made with my buddy Elliot's recipe

The frangipane was a huge hit thanks for your recipe dude!

Shameless selfie! Lol

Happy days... 


Fig Frangipane Tart with Sour Cream Pastry and Creme Anglaise

The reason this was the PERFECT dessert for me was:
1) One of the best pastries I had was the sour cream pastry I had at Maggie Beer's farm in 2010, so I re-created it
2) I love love love any baked goods with almond meal, hence the frangipane
3) Figs, figs, figs!
4) Don't have a sweet tooth but boy do I LOVE my custards...

A) For the pastry
(adapted from this recipe by Maggie Beer)


200g butter (chilled and cubed)
250g plain flour
pinch of salt
125 ml sour cream


1) Preheat oven to 180degC. Pulse the butter, flour and salt in a food processor until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Alternatively: press the cubed butter into the flour with a fork until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs

2) Add the sour cream and pulse until dough is incorporated to a ball.

Alternatively: add the sour cream and knead with hands until mixture is incorporated

3) Wrap dough in cling wrap and chill in fridge for 20 minutes.

Note: Butter in the dough melts at room temperature and chilling it makes the dough easier to work with. Otherwise, pastry will be too soft and difficult to use.

4) Remove dough from fridge and roll out until 3mm thick

5) Line dough carefully into springform tart pan and remove excess from the edges. Poke holes all around the base of the tart with a fork (almost to the bottom)

Note: This helps prevent base from puffing up due to the pent up steam during the baking process

6) Line with baking paper and fill with rice or baking weights.

Note: Helps retain its shape

7) Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, before removing paper and rice/weights. Bake for another 10 minutes, remove from oven and set aside to chill at room temperature until needed.

Note: Tart will shrink from the sides a little. It's normal because liquid in the tart is evaporated during the baking process. Removing weights halfway helps the base of tart to dry up

B) For the frangipane tart
(adapted from a recipe given to me by Elliot from Musings of a Young Gourmet)


125g butter (softened)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup plain flour
6 - 8 ripe figs (sliced in half)


1) Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy

2) Add the egg yolk, egg and vanilla extract and beat until well combined

3) Add the flour and almond meal and beat until well combined

4) Spoon into par-baked pastry case and press figs into the filling

5) Bake in pre-heated oven at 180degC for 35 minutes or until golden brown

6) Remove from oven and let it chill at room temperature until ready to serve

C) For the creme anglaise
(adapted from this recipe by Food Wishes)


1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 vanilla bean


1) Place the cream, sugar and egg yolks in a small pot. 

2) Use a knife to split the vanilla bean lengthways and scrape the seeds into the pot. Whisk mixture together with a fork until well combined.

3) Heat the mixture at low heat and stir constantly (while scraping the bottom) with a spatula until mixture thickens

Note: You will notice mixture will thicken when the volume starts to increase slightly and the waves you make from stirring move much slower than when you started

4) Strain mixture through fine mesh and chill in the fridge until required

Sounds like a lengthy recipe but if you read it carefully it's actually really quick and simple to do! It's just that I added lots of notes to help you guys along the way =)

Super yummy and delicious dessert... Perfect combo of flavours all round. Really good if I do say so myself!


Fizzy Passionfruit and Mint Punch
 (an original recipe)


3 (1.25L) bottles of Schweppes Lemonade
5 passionfruits
2 handfuls of mint leaves


1) Slice the passionfruit in half and scoop out the flesh. 

2) Mix everything together in a big container/pitcher

3) Chill in fridge until ready to drink and ENJOY!

Thank you also to my friend Grace for being such a nice model for the drink =)

In the end, it was a really fun, relaxed and enjoyable time spent. Looking forward to my dinner tomorrow night too! Take good care, everybody.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nian Gao Puff Recipe (年糕酥)

A different take on a Chinese classic

"Nian Gao" (年糕) aka "Chinese Sticky Rice Cake" is a very traditional Chinese food that's eaten at many auspicious occasions throughout a Chinese person's life, especially during Chinese New Year. The significance of this is interpreted quite differently by many people but as for my family, the stickiness of the cake symbolises the cohesiveness or unity of a family's bond. This is what I was taught growing up and also what I will tell my kids and their kids in the future.

Bought this "Nian Gao" at my local Asian grocery for $5

Typically, "Nian Gao" is simply sliced up thinly before coating and frying it in egg (as shown below). But then, my cousin told me of this awesome new way that she made "Nian Gao" the other day during our recent Chinese New Year dinner.

Photo taken from my 2012 Chinese New Year post

She said that she got the idea from Nasi Lemak Lover (a blog that I personally absolutely ADORE) to wrapping them in puff pastry before baking it in the oven until they're golden brown and slightly oozy in the middle. OMG. 

I couldn't get it out of my mind and I knew I had to make it right away... So here you go. Chinese New Year isn't over yet so get some "Nian Gao" from your nearest Asian Grocery right away so you can make these for your friends and family! Although, the only thing I will say it that you should probably spread a little butter on the pastry instead of egg wash just to give the pastry more flavour. Otherwise, it's quite yum!

It's a great twist and surprise to a classic that will surely get everyone excited. Super quick and easy. Gong Xi Fa Chai again to you all!


Nian Gao Puff Recipe (年糕酥)
(adapted slightly from this recipe by Nasi Lemak Lover)


"Nian Gao" aka Chinese Sticky Rice Cake (cut to strips)
3 to 4 sheets of frozen puff pastry (thawed)
cashew/peanuts (chopped roughly)
1 egg yolk (lightly beaten) *
sesame seeds (black and/or white)

* Alternatively, use melted butter for more flavour


1. Preheat oven to 180degC. Roll out the puff pastry until thin (otherwise it will puff up too much!)

2. Lay and space out the strips of "Nian Gao" on the pastry sheet before cutting it up into rectangles

Tip: Wet your fingers slightly if the "Nian Gao" becomes a bit too sticky and difficult to handle

3. Place nuts on top of the strip of "Nian Gao"

4. Fold the sides and roll the pastry with the filling enclosed into a little parcel

I had to add extra sheet on top because I cut my rectangle too small and couldn't roll properly. Don't make the same mistake as me!

5. Brush egg wash or melted butter on surface and sprinkle sesame seeds on top

6. Bake in oven for 18 minutes or until golden brown. ENJOY! =)

The finished product. Great to share at a potluck or dinner party =)

Hope you're all having a great start to the weekend!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cafe Saffron, Ivanhoe

Beef Andhra - $17.90
Exotically cooked beef in a mustard seed, curry leaf and coconut cream based sauce

Complimentary Papadams

Aman E Saaq - $15.90
Combination of fresh cottage cheese and spinach puree cooked to perfection with ground spices

Garlic Naan
Roasted bread of plain flour with a fresh garlic flavour

Rada E Gosht - $17.90
A Cafe Saffron signature. Perfect curry of lamb and lamb mince

Keema Naan
Baked bread of flour stuffed with seasonal minced meat

Saffron Pulao - $4.00
Saffron flavoured basmati rice

Seriously delicious.... Bite after bite

Wiped every drop clean! =D

Mango Lassi - $3.50
Indian yoghurt drink with mango flavour

Kesari Kulfi - $5.90
Traditional saffron flavoured homemade Indian ice-cream with an irresistible blend of pistachio

What a lot of people don't realise is that even though I enjoy recommending places to people, I LOVE trying out other people's recommendations even more. As was the case when my mate J took my other friend and I to Cafe Saffron, an Indian restaurant that he and his family loves going to. 

So glad he did because every single dish was spot on and utterly delicious. The flavours were simply beautiful and the consistency of the sauces were nicely thick and slightly creamy, which made it oh so addictive to slather all over our naan or drown our rice in.

But my favourite definitely has to be the one with spinach puree and cottage cheese! It was different and hard to make out. All I can say is that it was tasty (and slightly spicy too) but you couldn't help but keep spooning more of the sauce onto our plate. The cheese tasted more like bocconcini which gave a nice chewy and neutral element to the dish. I know that this is a common dish in other Indian restaurants, but I've never ordered this anywhere else so don't know how it would fair but the one here tasted pretty damn awesome.

Definitely my go to place for Indian now (it's nice to mix it up with the cuisines hey) because it was absolutely flawless. Price was absolutely value for money too as we were insanely full to the brim by the time we left. All that food, 3 people, $25 per person. There's so SO much to choose from on their menu too but if it's your first time there, definitely try the spinach puree dish for a change. I'm sure you'll find it interesting and enjoy it too. 

Thanks again J for taking us here. It was a fantastic meal and we should totally come back sometime soon!

Cafe Saffron on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sour Plum Duck (酸梅鸭) Recipe and Chinese New Year 2013

Hello all!

First of all, I'd just like to wish everyone a very Happy Chinese New Year! In other words, Gong Xi Fa Chai! 

Chinese New Year is seriously my favourite festive season of all. Just because most of my best memories growing up were spending time with my relatives in my Mum's tiny hometown of Tawau over this holiday. It was the best when my late Grandmother was alive. The entire family would be having a ball together all day, everyday. There are many Chinese traditions that are involved, which makes it quite special and memorable. 

Everything from wearing a new+red shirt on the first day of CNY, to playing with fireworks and playful gambling sessions, watching the Lion Dance, etc etc. And not to mention... THE FOOOOOOOD. Out of the entire CNY period, I do think the most important meal would have to be the Eve of Chinese New Year aka "团圆饭", which would be a massive feast and typically involve a full day of cooking.

As for me, this year was actually the first time I have ever spent CNY away from my family. But thankfully, I'm fortunate enough to have those cousins that I grew up with from Tawau (and several other good friends) here with me in Melbourne. So, I took it upon myself to fulfil the daunting task of hosting the CNY Eve dinner on Saturday, (yikes!). 

It was super hectic. I had gone out till 3am on Friday night, slept at 5am, found out that morning that more people were coming, went to the market at noon (when typically most people would have had most things prepared/marinaded etc the day before) and just cooked and cooked till guests arrived at 7:30pm. It was total mad house. Several slip ups here and there but at the end, everything turned out alright. 

I tried to keep my dishes as simple as I could, as I was only doing most prep/cooking the day itself and needed to have enough food to feed everyone. Not easy, especially when you're doing everything on your own in a tiny kitchen. What I was most excited about was definitely making Mum's Sour Plum Duck (酸梅鸭) which I absolutely LOVEEE eating growing up for the very first time. I was most nervous about this dish but it actually turned out REALLY well and was the biggest hit of the night! Mum would be proud. I'm just happy I could re-create a dish that never fails to remind me of home and my Mum. You have to try this (and also the 8 Treasure Duck I shared previously)!!!

It turned out to be a great night. Everyone came over to share a meal together, before proceeding to catching the awesome display of fireworks from Crown and also playing some blackjack afterwards. It was great. Not a very conventional CNY being away from my hometown, but not a shabby one either. Not at all. For CNY, it's not where you are, but who you're with

Anyway, glad to have gotten the chance to open up my space for my lovely friends and family. Here's a recap of the CNY dinner we had on Saturday night! 

Fried Prawn Crackers with Sambal Belachan

Tradition for us to eat this during CNY. And makes for a great snack to serve your guests before/after dinner!

Steamed Chinese Preserved Sausage (腊肠and Meat (腊肉)

There's many kinds of preserved meats out there but my family typically has at least one plate of it for CNY. So delicious with rice. 

Steamed with a dash of soy sauce and Shao Xin wine at the end for extra fragrance.

Steamed Chinese Cabbage with Ham

Chinese BBQ Pork (叉烧)

It was a last minute addition to the menu and it turned out very juicy and delicious. I got the recipe (here) from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse. Thanks Ai Ling!

Mum's Sour Plum Duck (酸梅鸭)

It was seriously delicious, if I do say so myself. Taste just like Mum's. Duck was fried till really fragrant but still juicy. Sauce was utterly lip smackingly good. You guys have to try!

Fried Snapper Topped with Fried Garlic and Shallots (drizzled with dark soy sauce and aromatic oil)

One of my favourite dishes of the night, actually! Simple, but lots of flavour. The tradition is to not finish the fish entirely (just leave a bit) to symbolise good luck and abundance for the coming year.

Cousin's Braised Pork and Mushrooms with Peanuts and Fermented Red Tofu

This was also seriously delicious, to say the least. YUM!

Cousin's Longan Pudding

How incredibly cute/festive! And let me tell you, they look as good as they taste!


Sour Plum Duck (酸梅鸭) Recipe 


1 whole duck
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
oil for frying

2 bulbs of garlic
3 - 4 large French shallots (or 15 mini Asian shallots)
1 thumb size ginger
400g bottle of Lee Kum Kee's Plum Sauce
1 1/2 cups of water
Juice of 1 large lime (or to taste)
Coriander (to garnish)


1) Rub dark soy sauce all over and inside the cavity of the duck. Generously rub salt in the cavity of the duck. Leave to marinade for 2 hours or in the fridge overnight.

2) Heat up a large wok and fill almost half of it with oil. Once oil is very hot, place duck into the wok and deep fry for 15 minutes. Oil should cover half of the duck without being too full (to prevent overflowing from bubbles during frying process). Carefully turn the duck over and fry for another 15 minutes. Set aside the duck and drain the wok, leaving about 5 tbsp of oil.

3) Peel and mince ALL the garlic and shallots (yes, that's a LOT to prepare). You should have a big pile of it. Peel and slice the ginger to strips.

4) Heat up the wok again with remaining 5 tbsp of oil. Add the garlic, shallots, ginger and fry until very fragrant (about 3 minutes)

5) Add the Plum Sauce and water, mix until well combined. 

6) Place the duck back into the wok. Put the lid on the wok and cook for 10 minutes on low to medium heat. Turn the duck and cook the duck covered on the other side for another 10 minutes. (Total cooking time for duck is 50 minutes)

7) Add in lime juice and stir. Taste to see if more lime juice is preferred.

8) Remove duck from wok. Once duck is cool enough, chop up to serve. You can heat up the sauce to drizzle over the duck when ready to eat. Garnish with chopped coriander and ENJOY! =)

Photo taken from my Instagram (@winceeee)

SO delicious and I do hope you give this recipe a go.... Gong Xi Fa Chai, everyone! =)