Sunday, August 23, 2015

Salted Chocolate Tart with Spiced, Candied Orange

Oh man, the weather in Melbourne the past week has been absolutely BEAUTIFUL!

I shouldn't speak too soon but we've been getting so much sunshine, blue skies and I loved how it's not actually cold when you wake up, especially on the weekends. Not bad, Winter. Now, just stay that way.

Anyway, I made this tart because I had a dinner party the other week and dinner parties for me are always an excuse for me to try something new. Plus, I always enjoy using my Tefal Cuisine Companion. It really does make my life a lot simpler. But even if you don't have one, you could always use your hand or a standard food processor.

I thought it'd be good to make a chocolate tart, but wanted to spice things up a bit (literally) to give it more character. I don't have a sweet tooth so wanted to make sure it was a chocolate tart I'd enjoy too. 

I did this by making sure that the filling wasn't too sweet and also baked it till it was slightly wobbly in the middle when taking it out of the oven as I wanted the filling to be creamy and not too firm. Plus, I don't add sugar in my pastry and made sure it was extra short and crumbly. It is a known fact that salt brings out the flavour of the chocolate and that's why I wanted to add sea salt not just for the taste but also like seeing the specks of salt sprinkled over the tart. 

You'll find that this both the tart and filling isn't sweet at all and so needed another element to provide that sweetness it was lacking. Hence, the idea to put candied oranges on the tart to balance it all out. But, it was kind of a waste (and also very boring) to only boil the orange segments in a sugar syrup when you could add so many more interesting ingredients to make it more exciting! I really liked the addition of cinnamon and star anise because, again, it just gives a simple idea a lot more character.

Finally, I know that the chocolate glaze was another step and probably slightly unnecessary but thought that the tart would look so much sexier if it had that glossy shine to it. Loved it!

Overall, I really liked how the tart turned out. It's been a while since I got to experiment and create something in the kitchen. Best thing about cooking really is the fact that it's so personal and as you can see, I got to make so many changes or try new ideas so that I ended up with something that suited my palate. Something I always encourage people to do even when they're using one of my recipes. It was another fun day in the kitchen and glad I could make something for others to enjoy at the dinner party. 

Oh oh and I will share another recipe for what to do with the leftover syrup from the candied orange so stay tuned!

Salted Chocolate Tart with Spiced, Candied Orange

(adapted from this tart recipe by Epicurious)


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

125ml sour cream

For the candied orange:
1 1/2 cup water
3 cups sugar
2 oranges (sliced)
2 cinnamon sticks
5 star anise

For the chocolate filling:
250g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

For the chocolate glaze:
2 tbsp heavy cream
50g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
1 tsp syrup (from candied orange)
1 tbsp water

To finish:
Sea salt flakes


For the pastry:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Pulse the butter, flour and salt in a food processor until it resembles fine crumbs. Add the sour cream and pulse until it combines together. Remove from food processor and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

2. Remove from fridge and roll out dough until 3mm thick. Line dough carefully into a tart pan and remove excess from the edges. Poke holes all around the base of the tart with a fork.

3. Line with baking paper and fill with rice or baking weights. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, before removing paper and rice/weights. 

4. Bake for another 10 minutes or until pastry is golden. Remove from oven and set aside to chill at room temperature until needed.

For the candied orange:

1. Place the water and sugar in a medium pot and bring to boil. Once boiling, add in the remaining ingredients and allow to boil for 20 minutes or until the orange becomes soft.

2. Remove oranges from pot and allow to cool on a plate. Reserve 1 tsp of the syrup for the glaze later or make more candied oranges (if you have extra) as a snack.

For the chocolate filling:

1. Place the chocolate in a bowl and bring the cream to a boil. Once boiling, pour over the chocolate. Gently stir until smooth.

2. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt in a separate bowl. Tap the bowl on the counter/table to release the air bubbles. Stir mixture into the melted chocolate. 

3. Pour mixture into cooled tart and bake in preheated oven at 180°C for 15 - 20 minutes or until the filling is set 2 inches from the edge and still wobbly in the middle. Allow to cool.

For the chocolate glaze:

1. Place the chocolate in a bowl and bring the cream to a boil. Pour cream over chocolate. Stir in the syrup (made from candied orange) and water.

To finish:

1. Once the filling is cooled, pour the glaze over the tart. Arrange with candied orange slices and sprinkle with sea salt flakes.

Cook's Note: Tart can be made several hours in advance before serving. No need to reheat.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Chirashi Sushi Recipe (Simplified)

Without sounding like too much of a downer, I must say that these days I am just constantly tired. Even if I look fine on the surface, I've always got so many thoughts running through my mind in the background. Physically, I feel quite worn out a lot of the time. Each day I wake up still tired from the day before and go through the motions a million miles an hour with a low tank. Even if I try to limit what I do after hours and rest early, there's been a number of instances the past couple of weeks I found myself waking up in the middle of the night with work in my mind and struggle to go back to sleep after. The good thing is that I get home so brain dead that it stops me from thinking about work for the few hours before I go to bed. 

I'm sure that a lot of you share the same sentiments with what you experience throughout the week as well. And I'm also sure that you too just need to find your centre and muster as much strength and energy to keep pushing through someway, somehow

I need a holiday. Thank goodness I've got one coming up in just a couple of weeks. It's a very short one but it's better than nothing. Cannot, freaking, wait.

RIGHT. Rant over. For me, when it comes to blogging, I normally start off with a blank screen and immediately type exactly what's on my mind. Unfortunately, as you can tell, it's been a lot about work and other stuff I guess so I do apologise.

Anyway, back to this recipe. A few weeks ago on a Saturday when Dad was still in Melbourne, we weren't sure what we wanted to eat for lunch. Sis suggested that all she wanted was just sashimi on rice so off they went to Victoria Market in a jiffy to pick up some beautiful pieces of sashimi grade salmon for lunch. The whole lunch happened in no time. Basically, Dad put some rice in the rice cooked before he left for the market. As soon as he got back, all we did was slice up the fish and grabbed a bunch of stuff we already had from our fridge and pantry and VOILA. Lunch was served. It was quick but boy was it darn tasty, healthy and satisfying to say the least.

There's probably a million ways you could make this Japanese chirashi sushi (aka "scattered sushi") dish but this was what we whipped up in our kitchen that day. As you can see, we kept it very simple but it was still very delicious. There's so many other ingredients you could add to your chirashi sushi if you like such as shredded egg, avocado, variety of sashimi, salmon roe, etc etc. In fact, you could even omit the sashimi pieces all together and just add an assortment of vegetables to make it vegetarian. 

The beauty of this dish is that you can really do anything and everything you want with it. The reason why I wanted to share this recipe, even though it technically isn't a recipe, is that I wanted to show everyone that chirashi sushi really is a great dish to make at home if you're looking for something effortless and delicious. I hope you make this one sometime and if you are on social media, make sure you tag me in your photo (@winceeee) as I'd love to see what ingredients YOU put in your chirashi sushi too! 


Chirashi Sushi Recipe (Simplified)

(an original recipe)


Sashimi grade salmon (sliced)
Cooked white rice
Japanese rice seasoning (aka "Furikake)
Dried seaweed
Japanese pickled ginger (optional)
Japanese Kewpie mayo
Toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Soy sauce
Squeeze of lemon

Note: You can find all these ingredients (apart from the sashimi) at most Asian grocery stores.


1. Place the rice in a bowl and top with Japanese rice seasoning, dried seaweed and pickled ginger (if using).

2. Place a dollop of Japanese kewpie mayo and wasabi on the side.

3. Top with generous amount of sliced sashimi grade salmon. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using).

4. In a separate sauce dish, mix some soy sauce with wasabi and a squeeze of lemon. Enjoy with chirashi sushi.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Grand Richmond

Disclaimer: Winston dined as a guest of The Grand Richmond and Zomato Australia. All opinions are honest and based on my own experience at the time.

An incredible evening celebrating the 130th Birthday for The Grand Richmond

Following drinks and canapes, we were each given a rolling pin and asked to enter one of the dining rooms where they had this set up waiting for us...

Turns out we were going to each make our own fish baked in terracotta as one of the dishes we'd be eating later that night -- fun!

For mine, I put spring onions, olives, garlic, potatoes, rosemary, chillies, carrots, lemon slices and lemon zest

Next, we moved onto the other dining room where we were greeted by the most stunning display of cakes and lollies made my event planners The Three Piece Suit... WOW!

Pepper Crusted Venison Carpaccio, Goat Cheese Mousse and Beetroot

Agrodolce Quail with Porcini Mushroom Puree, Brussel Sprouts, Quail Egg and Black Truffles

Broad Bean, Pecorino & Mint Risotto

Mortadella Cappelletti In Brodo

My fish is ready!

The big reveal (so cool)...

Cone Bay Barramundi cooked in Terracotta
Ooooh yeahh....

Lemon Delizia -- Lemon Parfait with Soft Sponge Centre, Almond Crumble, Limoncello Gelee, Candied Lemons

So, it's been a while since I've been to a blogging event. Mainly because it's just been so insanely hectic at work so I've just been quite mentally exhausted from that. Most days, I prefer to just de-stress by exercising after work instead. That said, I saw the invite for this event about The Grand Richmond celebrating its 130th Birthday, was intrigued when I checked out the menu so decided to come join the party! And let's just say that I was very glad I did.

The event was a rather intimate dinner with the owners David, Katie, Barnie and Tiur were there to entertain and keep us company throughout the evening. It was great chatting with them that evening -- such lovely people. Now, on to the food...

We started off with the venison carpaccio, which I thought was prepared very well. Nice pepper crust against the tender, paper thin meat. Delicious. Then, we had the most succulent quail on a bed a velvety smooth and utterly unctuous mushroom puree. WOW. I thought they knocked it out of the park with this dish and I absolutely loved the Italian sweet and sour sauce (agrodolce) that it was cooked with. It had a very savoury, umami base with a sweet aftertaste. Plus, I did not mind that there was black truffles on there at all too. Was very happy with this dish.

Then, we moved onto what seemed like a very simple risotto but tasted nothing short of outstanding. You could hear a lot of "mmmmm" sounds being made from the table by this dish. Then, we had the mortadella cappalletti dish. I've never had this type of pasta before but really enjoyed the bite sized morsels. Filling was a little too salty for me but I did enjoy the light, clear broth that it came with.

Next, we had our terracotta fish and honestly, it was a lot more delicious than I thought. I used to make fish en papillotte (or in parchment) which was a similar concept to this one baked in clay but man, the fish that evening was SENSATIONAL. First of all, the fish was cooked to absolute perfection. The flavours and ingredients that it was paired with worked really well together too, if I do say so myself. But, the best part about this dish really was the fish itself. I've had Barramundi many a times but none of them tasted like this. It was very clean, fresh and you could actually taste a slight hint of natural saltiness. Most Barramundis can be quite bad and stinky but this wasn't the case at all. I later realised after talking to David and Katie that they only get their Barramunis from the Cone Bay fish mongers. Their Barramundis are caught straight from the ocean and not farmed or imported like how most ones are. No wonder........

Finally, we had a really sublime lemon dessert to cap off the evening. Most people know that I haven't got a sweet tooth myself but if I had to pick, I'd always go with a citrus dessert. This one was delicious and quite interactive to eat because there were so many different elements on the plate to taste so you constantly find yourself trying one after the other. It's fun.

Overall, I was very impressed by the food at The Grand. What sets them apart is that they are so good at presenting classic Italian food but with a very modern take. Lots of interesting ingredients (like the agrodolce) and ways of showcasing them in way that was very new and exciting for me to experience. It was a delicious meal from start to finish. The setting is so casual and relaxing too, which I like.

Other things I learned about The Grand is that they are the only pub in Victoria with a Chef's Hat accolade... Cool!  Plus, David and Katie were also telling us about some of the dinner party events that they throw at the restaurant from time to time. The themes that they have sound like so much fun and the tickets for them normally sell out pretty quickly too. Just based on this evening alone, I can tell that they are very good at hosting dinner events, which would be a fun thing to do instead of just going to a restaurant for an ordinary dinner. Oh and did you know that if you subscribe to their mailing list on the website you actually get to enjoy a 6 course degustation dinner (normally costs $85 per head) free of charge. Too cool! 

Again, had a great experience here at The Grand and I can't wait to take my Mum here when she visits from Malaysia next month. When was the last time you got to enjoy a beautiful 6 course dinner for $85! 

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

XO Marinated Salt & Pepper Chicken Ribs

Chicken Ribs... FRIED CHICKEN RIBS... In all it's crunch and crispiness... Juicy and tender flesh... 

I don't think I'd be the first one to say this but I have never heard of chicken ribs until I moved to Melbourne. It's odd. Though to be fair, it's not technically the ribs of the chicken. More like the wish bone to be exact. But, what's delicious about it is that it's got the texture of the thigh meat and easy to eat off of because it only has a single bone in the middle. Even more excellent when fried with salt and pepper or the duck egg yolk.

It's a dish that I've always been a fan of at low key, fuss free Chinese restaurants (especially the one at Rose Garden, ZOMG). Even though I see them sell chicken ribs and markets all the time, I actually never attempted cooking it at home until recently. No real reason in particular, just never got around to it.

I whipped up this recipe with whatever I had in the fridge and pantry. I think what really enhances a good salt and pepper dish is the fried toppings of onions, garlic and chillies. Oh, and the right amount of salt and white pepper, of course. Note: always use white pepper in Chinese cooking. I never paid much attention to the toppings previously and if I'm honest, I normally scrape it off to the side of my plate when having it at restaurants. But I realised that it actually adds so much more flavour and texture in each bite when having it together. It's so good, yum...

Anyway, this dish is seriously easy, tasty and cheap to make too. Such a winner as my sister and I couldn't have enough of it! Not messy to make because you're only frying it in a shallow pan and no splatter experienced. Hope you give this one a go.

XO Marinated Salt & Pepper Chicken Ribs

(an original recipe)


For the chicken:
500g chicken ribs
2 tbsp XO sauce
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 1/2 cup corn flour
Oil for frying

For the topping:
4 tbsp diced onions
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 - 2 birds eye chillies (sliced thinly) *
White pepper

Salt and white pepper
Sliced spring onions (to garnish)

* Note: May be substituted with diced capsicum


1)  Marinate the chicken ribs with the XO sauce and minced garlic for at least 3 hours or overnight in the fridge.

2) Just before cooking, coat the chicken in corn flour and set aside. Heat up the oil in a shallow pan filled to about 1 cm high. 

3) Once the oil is hot, fry the chicken in batches for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Remove and allow to cool for about 5 minutes on a wire rack.

4) While the chicken is cooling, drain the pan leaving about 1 tbsp of oil. Fry the onions, garlic and chillies for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add several dashes of white pepper and mix well. Set aside.

5) Place the chicken on a plate and top with fried onions, garlic and chillies. Season with salt and white pepper. Garnish with sliced spring onions. Serve immediately.