Monday, November 16, 2015

Coconut Flour Pancakes with Coconut, Maple & Chocolate Sauce

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Winston received the "Colour Basics Coupe Dinner Set" as a gift from Maxwell & Williams.

Recently, I was approached by Maxwell & Williams and asked whether or not I'd be interested in doing some food styling for them to promote their range for the Spring season. If you have been following my blog the past few months, you would've noticed that this blog has taken a slight change in direction. The food review aspect has taken quite a backseat and this blog has become more focused on home cooking and food styling. I get asked quite often as to why this is so. 

To be honest, the real reason is that I'm just too lazy to take my camera out to restaurants anymore. And even if I do, the photos might not be up to scratch for me and I am really hesitant about posting photos from my iPhone like I used to. That said, I do intend on making a comeback to food reviewing one day because there's always so many places that I've experienced, truly enjoyed and really wish I could share about. 

After doing this for over 4 years now, I can surely say that the experience of blogging is honestly nothing short of a journey for me now as it has since the day I started. Constantly evolving, hopefully growing; and the landscape of this blog really is a reflection of who I am as a blogger. There are changes in my subject, focus, photography and even writing. I like trying new things and challenging myself creatively along the way. To me, this is what makes blogging so exciting. 

Right now, I am really passionate about food styling ever since my food photography workshop in April. I love looking at interesting food photos and I am constantly in awe by the creativity behind each of those photos. I feel so inspired to push myself to step out of my comfort zone and be more adventurous in food photography too. It is for that reason why I was actually really looking forward on taking up this opportunity and collaborating with Maxwell & Williams.

Speaking of stepping outside your comfort zone, I was initially quite worried as soon as I opened the package (if I'm being honest). I mean, it was really blue. Something I'm not used to. I wasn't sure how I'd get to showcase and highlight food on a plate as striking as this. What colour tones do I want in the food or overall picture? What colour or texture do I want for the surface or the backdrop? What do I even make? After much thought, I decided to just embrace the colour and all its vibrance head on. I wanted to make something with lots of colours on the plate it so that the blue wouldn't stand out as much. Also, I wanted to highlight the colour yellow and make it a big component of the dish as I thought that yellow looks pretty good against blue. Pancakes it was. I decided to go with a neutral surface to help accentuate the colours on the plate too. 

Finally, I wanted to get some soft shadows in the shot to soothe the overall picture as I was worried that all the colours might be too loud and confronting. After many, many attempts, I think I finally got what I was trying to achieve out of these pictures. I must say that I really enjoy this dinner set now. The size, shape and colours actually work really well and I enjoy using them very much. Am thankful for this gift set from Maxwell & Williams.

Okay and as for this recipe, I really wanted to make something healthy-ish because I'm still on my diet. The result was an accidental vegetarian and gluten free recipe (gasp). This coming from Mr Carnivore over here. Anyway, the pancakes were actually really light and fluffy and the dessert was very well received overall when I made it for some friends on the weekend. They definitely dug this healthier alternative and so did I. Little positive steps go a long way, I say. Plus, this recipe is so easy to make.

I highly recommend you give these pancakes a go. Definitely a keeper of a recipe, if you ask me.

Coconut Flour Pancakes with Coconut, Maple & Chocolate Sauce

(pancakes adapted from this recipe by Nourishing Days)


Coconut pancakes:
4 eggs
1 cup light coconut milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp honey or real maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
Coconut oil *

* I use coconut oil spray as I find it more convenient to cook with

Chocolate sauce:
4 tbsp coconut oil
50g dark chocolate
2 tbsp real maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
Pinch of salt

To serve:
Fresh berries (I used raspberries and blackberries)
Fresh figs (sliced to quarters)
Slivered almonds


1. Heat a non stick pan on low-medium heat. In a small bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Mix in the coconut milk, vanilla and honey or maple syrup.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the coconut flour, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt until well combined. Form a well in the middle of the bowl. Slowly pour in the wet mixture while mixing slowly until well combined. 

3. Spray the pan with coconut oil spray or add a small knob of coconut oil. Ladle a few tablespoons of batter into the pan. Spread out into a circle (of approx. 4 inches in diameter) with the back of the spoon. Once the pancake forms bubbles on the surface (approx 1 - 2 minutes), flip to cook for a further minute or so. Cooking times may vary and practice makes perfect. I didn't get the hang of it until my 3rd or 4th pancake. 

4. Remove pancake and set aside on a plate. Repeat process with remaining batter until all pancakes are cooked. Give the pan a quick spray or small knob of coconut oil each time before adding the batter. 

5. For the chocolate sauce, combine all ingredients in a glass bowl and place in microwave in 30 second bursts until chocolate is all melted. 

6. To serve, pour chocolate sauce over pancakes and garnish with berries, figs and almonds.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Beetroot & Gin Cured Salmon Gravlax

 Don't you just love the colour of that beetroot?

Following on from my previous post where Shellie made the incredible Goats Cheese & Roasted Grapes Tart with Parmesan Crust Pastry at the food photography workshop back in April, she also made this seriously amazing Beetroot & Gin Cured Gravlax.

I kid you not, these two dishes really were one of my highlights from the trip (and trust me, there were many). This gravlax was just delicious to eat and because it's such a big piece of fish, it made for the most amazing leftover to eat. I was snacking on it for breakfast the next morning or even after we got back from dinner because I just couldn't resist. Paired with some lovely toasted bagels spread with cream cheese, sliced red onions, dill and capsicum, it really was perfection in a bite.  Plus, I just couldn't get over the sheer vibrance of the beetroot stain on the fish. Just stunning.

I guess that because I grew up in a small town in Borneo, my love for seafood really is undoubtedly inherent in me. So much so that whenever I go out for brunch, I am quite predictable as I almost ALWAYS get the cured fish dish and not even bother reading the rest of the menu. If not, I would at the very least get a side of the cured trout or salmon to go with whatever I'm having.

This is why I was so inspired by what Shellie made for us that day. It wasn't just delicious (even better than a lot of the ones I've had and paid for in cafes), it looked rather simple to do too. Plus, it was a hell of a lot cheaper when you made it yourself because you've got heaps to share. Oh, I made this as well a few months ago to share with my cousins when we all went away to Lake Entrance for a weekend getaway. Again, it made for a great breakfast dish.

A recipe that I would definitely make again!

This was the one we ate at the workshop made by Shellie. Again, too good!! And isn't her styling just gorgeous?

Beetroot & Gin Cured Salmon Gravlax

(adapted from this recipe by Jamie Oliver)


Beetroot cure:
2 large fresh beetroots (peeled and quartered)
1 orange (zested)
2 lemons (zested)
2 juniper berries (bashed)
5 tbsp rock salt
2 tbsp demarara or brown sugar
50ml gin
800g side of salmon (from sustainable sources, ask your fishmonger)

Herb cure:
1 small bunch fresh dill (finely chopped)
1 small bunch fresh tarragon (leaves picked, finely chopped)
5 tbsp freshly grated horseradish (optional but recommended)
50ml gin

To serve:
Brown bread or bagels
Fresh dill
Red onions (finely sliced)
Yellow capsicum (sliced)
Cream cheese dip of choice


1. For the first cure, blitz the beetroots, orange and lemon zest, bashed juniper berries (if using) in a food processor until you get a fairly smooth paste. Transfer into a bowl and stir in the rock salt and sugar. Pour in the gin and give it a good mix.

2. On a large baking tray, place a layer of aluminium foil at the bottom and another layer of cling wrap on top. Lay the side of salmon skin-side down on the cling wrap and slowly pour over the beetroot cure. Use a spatula to spread it all over the salmon flesh. Once it is well covered, wrap the salmon tightly in the cling wrap. You may need a second layer of cling wrap for this if it is not big enough. Place it in the fridge for 24 hours.

3. The next day, take the salmon out of the fridge and carefully unwrap the cling wrap. Using a spatula, push the cure to the sides. Remove the salmon and discard the cling wrap and the beetroot cure. Hold the salmon over another large tray or dish and slowly rinse off the cure with 100ml water or gin. By now, it should have shared its wonderful flavours with the fish and turned it a really vibrant colour.

4. For the second cure, mix together the chopped herbs, grated horseradish and gin in a bowl. Place another layer of cling wrap on top of the aluminium foil on the baking tray. Put the salmon on the cling wrap, skin side down, and pack the herb cure onto the salmon using your hands. Make sure you cover all the flesh, you don't want any air getting to it. Wrap it again in the cling wrap. Use a second layer of cling wrap if required to tighten it. Pop the salmon back in the fridge for another 24 hours.

5. The next day, your salmon will be perfectly cured and ready to eat. You don't need to rinse off that second cure, simply push most of it to the side to discard (leaving some on top for presentation). Remove the skin with a sharp knife and slice the salmon as finely as you can. To finish, pile the sliced gravlax on a plate and serve together with toasted bagels or brown bread, fresh dill, capsicum, red onions and cream cheese dip (I used spring onion from my local deli). Enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Goats Cheese & Roasted Grapes Tart with Parmesan Crust Pastry


How's everyone enjoying their weekend? 

As for myself, I spent it catching with uni friends for dinner on Friday, going for coffee with a friend on Saturday and then another family dinner (baby shower and cousin's belated birthday) on Sunday night. Spending lots of quality time with close friends and family really is the ideal weekend for me. Once upon a time, I used to be one for going out late every night but not anymore, no thanks. Nothing crazy, nothing too hectic. Gives me time to run my errands on the weekends too. Geez, how old do I sound? 

Anyway, I first tasted this tart that my friend Shellie made when I was at Daylesford earlier in the year attending a food photography workshop that she and Ewen was running. Fantastic weekend. First of all, it looked absolutely drop dead gorgeous as soon as she laid it on the table. Once we took our first bite, our eyes completely lit up and almost felt like the world had stopped for a quick second. It was sensational in every sense of the word.

I knew then and there that I HAD to recreate this tart at home too. I loved the sharp and garlicky flavour of the creamy cheese which was balanced absolutely perfectly with the sweet, caramelised, roasted grapes. This combination was unreal. To finish off, that parmesan crust pastry was seriously the best thing ever. So crumbly and flavourful it complemented the flavours of the filling so damn well. I've definitely found a favourite savoury pastry crust with this one and will be making it a lot in the future too.

Right, I'm getting hungry just describing the tart. Trust me when I say this is good. Hope you get a chance to make it too.

This was the one that Shellie made at the workshop... Life changing ;p

Goats Cheese & Roasted Grapes Tart with Parmesan Crust Pastry 

(adapted from this recipe by Iron Chef Shellie)


Parmesan Pastry
125g butter, unsalted 
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil 
4 1/2 tbsp water 
2 pinches of salt 
1 1/2 cup plain 
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded 
1/3 tsp black pepper 

Roasted Grapes
Few bunches of seedless red grapes 
1 tbsp olive oil 
Salt and pepper 

Goat Cheese Filling
3/4 clove garlic 
1 1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary 
320g goat cheese  
1/4 cup thickened cream
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil 
3 tsp fresh lemon juice 
A few tablespoons of water 
Salt and pepper to taste 


Parmesan Pastry
1. Preheat the oven to 210ºC. In a medium size oven-proof bowl or dish, add the butter, oil, water, and salt. 

2. Place the bowl into the oven for 15 minutes. Wear oven mitts, possibly a long sleeve shirt, and hold the bowl away from your face, when removing from the oven, as the butter may splatter. Place the bowl onto the counter, with a pot holder or towel underneath. 

3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, shredded parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Slowly stir the flour mixture into the hot butter. It is important to still be cautious of the hot butter, it may still pop when you add the first bit of flour. Also, remember that the bowl is very hot, so wearing oven mitts while stirring is ideal. Stir the mixture until combined. Let it sit and cool for 5 minutes. 

4. Once the dough is cool enough to handle, press the dough flat with your fingers and up the sides of a tart pan/mould. Prick the shell with a fork 10 or so times. Once you have finished forming the tart shell, place the tart shells onto a baking sheet and place in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.  

Roasted Grapes
1. After baking the tart, turn the oven to 200°C. Arrange the bunches of grapes in a single layer on a baking tray lined with baking paper. 

2. Toss with the olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. 

3. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until the grapes begin to burst and the juice around them starts to thicken. Remove and set aside for later.

Goat Cheese Filling
1. While the tart shells are cooling and grapes are in the oven, make the filling. In a food processor, add the garlic and the rosemary. Pulse several times to chop/mince finely. 

2. Then, add the goat cheese, cream, olive oil and lemon juice. Blend until smooth and creamy, adding as much water as necessary to keep it moving and to make it creamy, but make sure not to add more than 1/4 cup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

3. Once the tart shell has cooled and grapes are roasted, pour the goat cheese filling into the tart shell. Smooth the surface with a spatula, if necessary. Finally, add the roasted grapes from earlier. Enjoy.