Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ripples Seafood and BBQ Restaurant, Malvern

Recently, Tim and I went for dinner at Ripples Seafood & BBQ Restaurant, a Chinese restaurant in Glenferrie Road, Malvern.  This was our third visit to Ripples, and as ever, the food was good, but the service was a little indifferent.

Here is a glimpse of the interior of Ripples, bedecked with white tablecloths and fancy folded napkins: 

Each time we have been to Ripples, we have ordered different things just for fun.  They make a fine beef brisket, but we opted not to order it on this occasion.

For entrée, we ordered satay prawn skewers ($7.50) to share:

These were as delicious as they looked.

We ordered two mains to share with steamed rice.  The first was BBQ pork with vegetables ($15):

The other dish was beef with ginger and spring onion ($15):

Both dishes were good to eat (though not spectacular) and healthy-ish.   I hate ordering dishes without vegetables so both of these dishes satisfied my requirement for some greens.

On finishing our meal, we were served with a palate cleanser of a small fruit plate each.

Ripples is good value and serves decent food in close proximity to the Malvern Central shopping centre, but don't expect enthusiastic service.

40-42 Glenferrie Road
Malvern VIC 3144
Ph: (03) 9509 5365

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Whiskey poached pears in chocolate cake

I mentioned recently that for the first time ever, I made four recipes from a food magazine that I had bought, making me feel that the subscription was justified.

The fourth of these recipes from the March issue of Taste magazine was originally entitled Fireball Pears in Chocolate Cake, which is a much catchier title that Whiskey Poached Pears in Chocolate Cake.  However, the name relies on you poaching the pears in Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, which I did not have - I just used some other generic brand of whiskey to poach the pears.

You can find the recipe for this cake online here.  The cake itself was dense and deeply chocolatey, and the pears added some welcomed moisture.  I didn't think that the whiskey syrup added much - it didn't really thicken up, and it just tended to make the cake a little stodgy when poured on top: 

Overall, this was a really nice cake, which showcases pears nicely.  However, if I made it again, it would be sans syrup on top.  It also tastes better the next day, once the flavours have developed.

Friday, March 27, 2015

FFWD - Next-day Beef Salad

For French Fridays with Dorie this week, we made Next-day Beef Salad.   In my case, it was a misnomer, because the beef was roasted especially so that I could use part of it for this dish.

This salad comprises, cubed roast beef, cherry tomatoes, apple, chilli, cornichons, capsicum, spring onions and capers in a mustard mayo dressing, resting on a bed of greens.  I used spinach for my greens.  Instead of mustard mayo, I used Greek yoghurt flavoured with Dijon mustard, as I don't buy mayo.  I left out the capers for no reason other than that I couldn't find them in my pantry.  I have cornichons left over from another Dorie recipe, but these are also something I would not usually buy.

I fully expected to hate this salad.  I am not a huge salad person generally, and the combination of strong flavours and myriad raw components seemed quite offputting.  However, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this salad. In the future, the only change I'd possibly make is to skip the spring onions, which I found to be rather piquant in their raw state.

To see what the other Doristas thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the website.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

EwE - Zucchini, Spinach and Corn Saute

For Eating with Ellie this week, Chaya chose Zucchini, Spinach and Corn Saute.  This is a mixture of zucchini, corn and spinach, sautéed - just like it says on the tin.

There's not a lot to say about this one, other than it made a pleasant side dish.  It would be great with a little chilli for kick, I think.

To see what the other Ellie cooks thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WWDH - Chicken Poached in Coconut Curry

This week, Kayte chose Chicken Poached in Coconut Curry for Wednesday with Donna Hay.  You can find the recipe online here

I really liked this dish - if I had bothered to make rice,  it would have been perfect to mop up the lovely coconut red curry sauce. I wish I had also used more sweet potato than I did.

To see what the other Donna devotees thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the WWDH website.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

TWD - Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars

For Tuesday with Dorie this week, we made Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars.  They comprise a brown sugar cookie base, topped with melted chocolate, then a crunchy topping, which could have been rice krispies, or dried fruits and nuts, or in my case, Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs:

being a very cool name for caramel popcorn.

These bars were delicious and super easy to make.

To see what the other Doristas thought of Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mama's Buoi, Melbourne

Recently, we ventured down one of Melbourne's famed laneways to dine at Mama's Buoi, a Vietnamese restaurant that is a relatively new addition to the Melbourne dining scene.  It is called Mama's Buoi because all of the dishes are inspired by the Vietnamese home cooking of the founder's mother, Mama Hoang.

On a bustling Friday night, we were not able to get a table immediately, so we settled down for a drink at the bar.  A highlight of the bar is the selection of cocktails with Vietnamese flavours.  We didn't have to wait long before we were shown to a table in the laneway, and were presented with these beautiful menus:

To start, we ordered these gorgeous pork and prawn rice paper rolls to share:

For main, Tim ordered the duck curry:

together with some steamed rice to mop up all the lovely curry sauce:

I decided to go with a Vietnamese classic, the green papaya salad:

The flavours in this salad were crisp and clear, and the green papaya has an unusual taste all its own that lingers (in a good way) long after you have eaten it.

We couldn't go past this beautiful rice pudding for dessert:

It was a perfect way to end the meal.

The service at Mama's Buoi was efficient and friendly.

Overall, we had a great experience, and would go back.

Mama's Buoi
Postal Lane, Melbourne GPO
(via 350 Bourke Street)
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph:  03 9671 3426

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Pistachio and Lemon Cake with Honey Figs


Often, I never make even one recipe out of the food magazines that I buy.  There are many and varied reasons for this, including the lack of time.  However, I have been truly taken by the recipes in the March 2015 edition of Taste  magazine - I have made four recipes out of it.
The third recipe I made from March Taste magazine is a gorgeous looking cake from the "Wait, You Mean I Can Eat?" that section (p55).  It is a Pistachio and Lemon Cake with Honey Figs.

It tastes as wonderful as it looks, and what is not to like - pistachios, almond meal, lemon, honey and figs.

If you would like to try this cake for yourself, you will need:

100g pistachios
1/2 cup almond meal

1/3 cup buckwheat flour (I substituted wholemeal plain flour)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs, separated
100g sugar
Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
1/3 cup honey
2 fresh figs, quartered

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Grease and line a 20cm round springform pan.

Blitz your pistachios in a food processor until finely ground.  Put the ground pistachios in a bowl, along with the almond meal, buckwheat flour and baking powder, and mix to combine.

Process the egg yolks, sugar, lemon rind and juice, plus 1/4 cup of the honey until combined.  Add the pistachio mixture, pulse to combine, then transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then gently fold into the pistachio mixture.  Spread the mixture into the prepared springform pan, then bake for 35 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes before unmoulding onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Heat the remainder of the honey in a small frying pan for 1-2 minutes, then add the figs, tossing them in the honey for a further two minutes to coat them.  Allow to cool slightly before spooning the figs and honey over the top of the cake.

Serve in generous slices.

Friday, March 20, 2015

FFWD - Côte d’Azur Cure-all Soup and Salmon in a Jar (really)

For French Fridays with Dorie this week, we are heading to the French Riviera for a very sunny Côte d’Azur Cure-all Soup.  The story behind this soup is that it is a little like the French answer to chicken noodle soup - it is meant to have reparative qualities.

Whether it is actually a healing brew or not, I liked this soup (yes, I did).  Unlike its fishy cousin, the Riviera fish soup, this soup had a really lovely, warm, comforting (non-fishy!) flavour. For once, my soup was also thin, so had a pleasing mouth feel.  I served it with toast spread with hummus.

This week, I also made the only recipe that we have been slated to make so far that I deliberately avoided - Salmon in a Jar

I deliberately skipped marinating the potatoes because I didn't want to waste more oil - I just boiled them and served them with the salmon. 
This dish was, I am sorry to say, not my cup of tea, as I always suspected it would not be.  It smells kind of funky, there is no way I'd eat any of the raw veg in the jar, and the salmon remains oily, even when the excess is wiped off with a paper towel.  This recipe was made only to complete the "set", and so it will remain - definitely not a dish I want to repeat.
To see what the other Doristas made of this week's trip to the sunny Côte d’Azur, visit the LYL section of the website. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

EwE - Peach Chicken with Crispy Bread Crumbs

For this week's Eating with Ellie, Peggy chose Peach Chicken with Crispy Breadcrumbs.  This one was slightly more involved than some of the other EwE recipes, but totally enjoyable.  I do love a meat and fruit combo.

This recipe involved crisping up some breadcrumbs in the frying pan, then using a vinaigrette to coat the chicken in breadcrumbs - pretty clever, I think.  The chicken is then oven baked with the peaches.

To see what the other Ellie cooks thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WWDH - Cauliflower, Caramelized Onion and Fontina Gratin

It was my turn to pick for Wednesday with Donna Hay this week, and I chose Cauliflower, Caramelized Onion and Fontina Gratin from p134 of Donna Hay Magazine Dec/Jan 2015.  The recipe has also been published online here.  In retrospect, I am not sure what drew me to this dish - maybe it was because I thought it would be like potato dauphinois with cauliflower?

This dish was largely thinly sliced cauliflower, caramelised onion and cheese melted together in the oven.  Simple.  I subbed fontina out for cheddar.

In the end, it was pretty good as a side dish.  Not so amazing that I would make it again in a hurry, but a little different.  You could make your own caramelised onions, but I used jarred as per the recipe, because those gorgeous caramelised onions take forever to make.

To see what our other WWDH group members thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the WWDH website.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sophie Dahl's Rose Petal Jam

When I made my rose ombre cake for Valentines Day, I had quite a few leftover rose petals, as they did not all fit on top of the cake. I didn't plan on making too many salads that required rose petals, so I was pleased when I picked up a copy of Sophie Dahl's Very Fond of Food:  A Year in Recipes to see that she had a recipe for rose petal jam, as part of a recipe for rose petal icecream. 
You can find the recipe for Sophie's rose petal jam online here.

I was attracted by the fact that not only did this recipe use rose petals, but it also contained sparkling rose, which I just happened to have a bottle of in the house.

The flavour of the jam is unusual.  It is not sweet, and is in fact only faintly floral.  The flavour reminds me of a lemon sherbet - zingy and tart.  I am not sure why that is, but I enjoyed it.

I am yet to think of an imaginative way to use my rose petal jam (to fill a cake perhaps?), but I am glad that it has preserved my beautiful rose petals for another day.

On an unrelated note, Happy St Patricks Day!  Have a green beer for me.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sarah's nut muesli

For WWDH this week, Sarah published a recipe for nut muesli that I thought sounded intriguing, so I decided to try it out.  You can find Sarah's recipe in this post.

It is super quick and easy to make - the nuts are blitzed in a food processor, and the seeds are stirred in.

I served my nut muesli with fresh peaches and milk and honey - what a great start to the day!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Chez Dre, South Melbourne

I recently had the pleasure of lunching at Chez Dre, a French influenced café in South Melbourne. Chez Dre has built a good reputation for its gorgeous patisserie treats and its French-inspired breakfast and lunch dishes.

Chez Dre is a bustling place; you have to wait at the gate to be seated by the concierge:

There are both indoor and outdoor tables available.  Inside, as well as tables for individual groups, there are a couple of large wooden communal dining tables, which is where I was seated:

Service was prompt once I had settled in.  I started with my usual skinny flat white:

and this one did not let me down.

For lunch, I ordered the spiced lamb jaffle ($16.50):
It comprised brioche, pine nuts, labneh, a fried egg, pickled red onion, parsley, rocket and sumac salad:

The jaffle was delicious, with beautiful runny egg yolk providing a tasty sauce for the rest of the dish. It was very hearty and hit the spot nicely.

However, for me, the star at Chez Dre and the drawcard that brought me here is the gorgeous French-inspired patisserie:

I chose the sacher torte:

Instead of ganache-coated sponge cake, this torte was chocolate mousse and apricot gelee on a chocolate sponge base, and topped with a small slice of fresh apricot, gold leaf and a white chocolate curl: 

It was, needless to say, delicious!

I would definitely go back to Chez Dre, at least for their gorgeous cakes.

Chez Dre
285-287 Coventry Street, South Melbourne VIC 3205
Ph: (03) 9690 2688

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Choc and Blackberry Crumble Slice

In the March 2015 edition of Taste magazine, I spied a recipe for choc and blackberry crumble slice.  The recipe is also published online here.  The recipe is vegan, with coconut oil for the fat, and lots of alternative grains.  I had all of the ingredients except the quinoa flakes (which shall never cross my threshold again), so I just subbed in more coconut to make this slice.  I also used rice syrup instead of coconut syrup for the sweetness. 

In theory, this slice sounded good, but in execution, it was only so so.  It was OK, but the base was rather crumbly (not just my opinion - an online comment says the same thing), and the whole thing was a bit ho hum.  People at work said it was nice, but the person who said it tasted like muesli hit the nail on the head.

If you like your treats and you want something a bit healthier, then this could be the recipe for you.  However, in my case, the results weren't good enough to warrant a repeat - I'd rather have a splurge on a buttery crumble slice.

Friday, March 13, 2015

FFwD - Veal Marengo

French Fridays with Dorie this week features a stew - Veal Marengo.  Less poetically, it is veal stew with tomatoes and mushrooms - and in our case, potatoes and onions.

I bought veal during my epic trip to the posh end of town for lobster.

I really enjoyed this stew - it was very hearty and flavoursome.  Except for the fact that I found it rather fussy to make, I would make it again.

To see what the other Doristas thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the FFWD website.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

EwE - Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breast

For Eating with Ellie this week, Margaret chose Parmesan-crusted Chicken Breasts.

Again, this was a super easy, super quick recipe to prepare, so Ellie is living up to her promise on that count.  It tasted pretty fine too.

In keeping with the quick and easy theme, I served my parmesan-crusted chicken breasts with boiled frozen vegetables plus Ellie's broccoli, which she recommended as a side (and was also quick and easy to prepare).

This is another dish that I would happily make again.

To see what the others thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.