Sunday, April 29, 2007

Becco Fantastico (7.5/10)

11-25 Crossley St, Melbourne
(03) 96633000
2 chef hats in The Age good food guide
This dinner was worth waiting for. We called to book sometime during the week and the best they could offer was 9.30pm with a possible wait. We got there at 10 pm, no waiting...and got seated rite away.The place wasn't packed....but very noisy as most of the diners were very happy people (probably intoxicated by that hour).
Entree was the "BESTEST" dish I've had so far (out of the few places I've been to recently). Its crispy prawn wrapped in some stringy pasta bits (i think) served on a bed of tangy salad (avocado, cucumber...etc etc). I gotta say, this dish made me eat avocado! I usually do not touch that green thing as they taste kinda nasty..... but this dish on its own is worth 8/10 on its own. I love it and recommend all future Becco-ers to try it. A must try!

This is the "Van's-Must-Try Dish"

Snapper and Creme Brulee

For mains, Joe had the snapper while I had the spaghettini with pippis. The picture came out really really blur so i decided to skip it. They were yummy but not something worth crying for. Dessert was a leatherwood honey creme brulee serced with blueberries and raspberries. I gulped down this dessert pretty quickly and got a piece of the sugar stuck in my throat. I should've crunched the sugar bits more before eating it but i was too hungry..... Sorry throat.
A must try for lovely Italian food.....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Feeling Soupy

Miss my mum's cooking. Can't believe mum chose Korea over her kids! She decided to go sight-seeing with her friend instead of coming over to feed her starving children. Mum!!!! How could you do this to us? Hehhee... oh well. Mum needs a holiday too and I'll be seeing her at the end of June. As long as she remembers to buy us lots of pressies then we're even.

Ok, back to food....I went through my pantry and found some dried beancurd (think mum bought them awhile ago), then I remembered I did set aside some "soup-bones" last week....SOUP TIME SOUP TIME!!! Its going to be dried beancurd, red date and bone soup tonight. I haven't had those chinese boiled soup for ages! Usually its just ABC soup for me. For those who do not know what ABC soup is, it is basically everyhing you can find in your fridge mixed together. Sounds disgusting but the combination requires some skill too.

Usual ABC ingredients: (Vegetarian)
Big brown onion
(will boil the above ingredients for 30-45 mins, then remove from heat and stir in spoonfuls of miso paste, and add a dash of dashi granules)

Dried Beancurd soup:
Dried beancurd (soak it in water until soft, then add it in the soup after it has been boiling for and hour or so)
Red dates (deseeded)
Soup bones (can be chicken or pork)
(the bones and dates are boiled together for as long as you release the flavour within....yummm....then add the softened dried beancurd into the soup and let it boil again for 10 mins or not let it boil too long....because the beancurd will shatter).

I will upload the picture of the soup a bit later....cos I was too hungry tonight so i didn't take any pictures.
Pears are in PEAR it up!!!!! Some like it squishy soft, some like it firm. I like them in just let them ripen at room temperature instead of shoving it in the fridge. Believe me....cos I said so.....

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Coffee or Sea?

Photo: Jason South @ 24/04/07

The weather this week is about 4 degrees celcius above average and I'm not complaining at all. Usually I'm the Queen of Complaining....this and that....always "sighing". But not this week because all is good..

a) Weather is good
b) ANZAC day on Wednesday = a public holiday in the middle of the week
c) I finally get something out of Tuesday dissection classes (except the bit where I had to witness my friends sawing someone's head into half...right in the middle. Chrystella, if you're reading this, hope we didn't inhale too much bone particles and no nightmares)

The above picture with the man floating in the sea was taken from website. I just thought that guy looks sooooo relaxed and our Melbourne beaches are looking pretty cystal clear during this horrible drought we're facing. I wish it was me...but I'll probably be wearing sunnies and sitting on a float with a BIG umbrella over my head. No no to sun damaged skin.
For the Love of Vegies

Just a quick note cos I think this picture is cute. It kinda reminds me about the whole Organic craze. Even shampoos nowadays are advertised being organic? So we now wash our hair with organic brocolli? Moisturise with pear nectar? Brush our teeth with peas? Ewwww...
I apologize because this blog entry probably does not make any sense to anyone...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Botanical @ Domain Rd, South Yarra

This is not our first visit to this restaurant. In fact, it is probably our 5th or 6th visit! This is Joe's favourite place for fresh oysters....unfortunately I do not share the same view as him because I do not like oysters....especially raw oysters. Oysters smell fishy.

Twelve hand selected A grade oysters from Australia's premium growing regions

Main course:
Woodroasred Calabrina style snapper with a shellfish stew, trofie pasta, seaweed, tomatoes, fennel and chilli (for 2 persons, or for one if requested)

Chocolate & sherry crème brulee with warm cinnamon churros

You should've seen Joe's facial expression when he devoured each and every one of the oysters...while sipping on his chardonnay. I stared on...unable to believe how oysters can make a grown up man smile to himself with his eyes closed while eating it. Poor oyster!!! There was a BAD oyster among the platter that maybe we should've complained!!!!
Main was more like the Spanish paella. I didn't quite like it. The taste was just 'normal' nothing special.....maybe I was expecting more. Also, the prawn that I had was a bit 'powdery'...another sign that things are not looking very fresh in the kitchen. The shellfish was sweet though.....

I would have to say that the dessert was the best out of everything we tried that night. The creme brulee was hiding underneath all the froth in the espresso cup and it made the warm cinnamon churros taste even better when dipped into it. Total satisfaction guarenteed.

Verdict: 6/10
If it wasn't for the dessert, I would be one grumpy diner. Joe was happy no matter what cos he had his oysters. I never liked this restaurant that much.......cos the food is NOT THAT GREAT. Steak is better maybe steak for the boys next time. Not me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

DVD Review: Fearless llll stars

After dinner last Friday night, we ventured into JB city store to grab a movie for the night. We came back with two movies...Jet Li's Fearless and Monster House.

Van: Which one do you want to watch tonight?
Joe : Anything you want is fine
Van: Ok, pick right or left hand (with the DVDs hidden behind me back)
Joe : Your right side
Van: Ok...its Monster House...I'll set it up now.
5 seconds later......
Joe : But I want to watch Fearless.
Van: What??? You said whichever was fine.

I think this is a typical scenario most girls will encounter when the guys have a choice of watching either a kung-fu/action packed/no nonsense film or a cutesy catoonish/romantic comedy movie.
Movie plot:
This is a story of Huo YuanJia, a fighter who represents Chinese martial arts to a nation. A man who fought his way out of darkness and into history. I don't want to give away by typing out the entire story line....I almost did then decided its best for you to watch it. I'm not a kung fu fan but this movie is definately worthwhile watching. Some of the fighting scenes were a bit outrageous because you can SO tell that it was computer work but its all good! We are living in a tech crazy world so its acceptable. Kung fu sometimes need to be modernised too huh?

It has been reviewed that this is one of Jet Li's best martial arts movie ever.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Chicken with chickpea+couscous+tomato+onion

I've been trying to be healthier lately. But so ain't working. I only went to one BodySteps class and one Reformer pilates class. Then...I let myself go and ate all that BAD but yummy stuff in Adelaide. Therefore, I shall force myself to attend more exercise classes (three times a week?) and eat home more often (i.e cook more).

This recipe is my modified version of what is in the May issue of Super Food Ideas.

Cooking oil Spray (I just started using sprays....they're so much better)
6 x Chicken thigh fillets (trim the fat)
400g Edgell chick peas drained, rinsed (found in cans or you can cook your own)
Cous Cous (Ainsley H) Spice sensation 200g (Or any other cous cous)
2 tomatoes (cut into chunks)
1 large onion (sliced roughly)
Lee Kum Kee Chicken Marinade
Chinese cooking wine

1 Marinade the trimmed chicken fillets with the bottled marinade and cooking wine. The amount used depends on how much chicken you have...etc etc... I just estimate with my eyes. Leave for 30 minutes or even longer to let the flavour soak in.
2 Heat a large, non-stick wok over medium-high heat. Lightly spray the wok with canola oil and fan fry the chicken pieces. Let each side cook until it is golden brown before turning over to seal in the flavour. Make sure the chicken is cooked thorough!
3 Add in the tomatoes and onion into the wok, and let them soften.
4 In the meantime, prepare the cous cous (add 180 mL boiling water to contents and let stand and fluff with fork after 2 minutes)
5 Add a few table spoons of cous cous into the wok with the chicken/tomato/onion
6 Spoon some chick peas into the wok too.... and dinner is served.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Been a land faraway...called Adelaide
(Actually Adelaide is only 50 minutes away by plane)

On Good Friday, I went away on a short yet sweet trip to Adelaide to visit my soon-to-be cousins in law. It was such a crazy weekend....we basically stuffed ourselves with food and not to mention the amount of wine consumed by the boys. I think they drank half of McLaren Vale's supply.

On the first nite we arrived, we had BBQ at Malaysian/homey styled Osyter omelette. I'm no osyter fan but that particular dish went pretty quickly. Zoom Zoom.

One of the yummy lunches took place at d'Arenberg 's Verandah restaurant. I think I had the yummiest dish of the was Snapper/beetroot/some white beans...It was the special dish of the day. Very very very saliva worthy.

Hundorf is a very cute town. Its a German tourist town with everything German and the wannabe Germans (e.g a try hard Chinese restaurant was there too). Even the shop signs were adorable. Pretzel!!! but that shop did not have freshly baked soft pretzels like Aunty Annie's Pretzels back home. If you have the chance, try and buy freshly made BIG pretzels. Not the ones you buy from the vending machine....eenie meenie weenie...

We had lunch/dinner at the German Arms Hotel. The entrance of the hotel had this rather disturbing old man doll with his tongue stuck out (as if he wanted to lick his moustache). This place has HUGE beer glasses....and Joe's beer was 500mL...and checkout the Hahnburger. It is MASSIVE...this picture is not doing the burger justice. Joe was so tired eating the burger. Never believe the menu....cos it was under the Lite Lunch section...and it definately wasn't light at all.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sticky Date Pudding (another old favourite recipe to share)

Serves 4
400g pitted dates
600ml cup water
2 tsp bi-carb soda
125g butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
250g sugar
4 eggs
400g S.R. flour

2 Tbs cornflour
1.5 cups milk (1 1/2 litres)
1.5 cups cream
600g brown sugar, tightly packed
1/4 cup golden syrup

Cook the dates in water and bi-carb until soft - bring to the boil and simmer very slowly, covered, for about 10 minutes (the mixture should form a jam consistency). Cool slightly and puree until smooth.

Cream the butter, vanilla and sugar until creamy; add eggs one at time until incorporated. Add the flour and date puree to the cream mixture, and mix well.

Butter and flour individual moulds or a large roasting dish and pour in the mixture.

Bake in a preheated 180 C oven for 35 - 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the pudding comes out clean.

Serve with butterscotch sauce and whipped cream.

Make a paste with the cornflour and a little of the milk. Bring the remaining milk and cream to the boil and whisk in the cornflour mixture to thicken. Simmer for 1 minute, then stir in the brown sugar and golden syrup. Serve.

Flake with tomato chilli relish

I cooked this last year and didn't post up the here it is. Its actually really do try it out k? Maybe over the Easter long weekend...dun eat too much Hot Cross Buns.

Serves 4
20g butter
1 Tbs olive oil
700g flake fillets
1/4 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 dill sprigs, roughly chopped ( i didn't use this )
1 lemon, cut to wedges, to serve

Tomato chilli relish
1 Tbs olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 large tomatoes, diced (vine ripened ones if you feel gourmeish)
2 long red chillies, deseeded, finely chopped (leave the seeds if u want extra HOT)
2 Tbs tomato paste (not sauce)
1/4 cup white wine

1) Make tomato chili relish
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat
Add onion and garlic
Cook for 2 to 3 mins or until soft
Add tomato, chilli and tomato paste
Cook, stirring, for 3 mins or until tomato is soft
Add wine and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low
Simmer, uncovered, 10-15 mins or until thick
Season with salt and pepper

2) Meanwhile...
Heat butter and oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium heat until hot
Cook fish, in batches, for 2 mins each side until cooked through.
Transfer to a plate. Cover with foil to keep it warm

Combine mint, coriander and dill in a bowl
Spoon tomato chilli relish onto plates
Top with fish and sprinkle herb mixture
Serve with lemon wedges.

Note: I rubbed some salt and pepper onto the fish before cooking it....just to make sure I don't get too much fishy taste. I think any sort of white meat fish can be used in this recipe.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Special Delivery

Someone called around 12 pm to say that there was a courier for me and that I'll have to pick it up later in the day when I was free. So after class, I went home, took the dog and started walking to the courier place....I had no idea what the shop was called. All I knew was it was on 130-136 Stanley St, West Melbourne. Ok....thank goodness it was somewhere close to my place. So I walked....the dog walked....then FINALLY we got there. It was Roses Only!! I knew immediately that Joe must have sent me flowers for our anniversary. How sweet.....

So I lugged the box and the dog and headed home. Opened the box and was so excited like a little girl when I saw not just the long stemmed roses, chocolates, pot pourri....but a cute cuddly bear lying on the bed of roses!! I can't remember when was the last time I got excited over a bear. Hehhee.... I love it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

As Easy as A B C

How can anyone go wrong with Lee Kum Kee marinades? Saw this new product last week on the shelf while grocery shopping "Cantonese Barbeque Marinade"...just had to try it. Too easy to create succulent pork ribs for dinner.......

Ingredients: 1) Pork Ribs (or whatever your little tummy desires)
2) Minced garlic (my own secret recipe)
3) Spoonfuls of cantonese BBQ marinade

1) Preheat Oven at 200 degrees celcius
2) Cut away the bad ugly fat from the ribs
3) Put ribs in a bowl and mix well with the marinade and garlic ~ 30 mins
4) Place ribs into oven ~ 30 - 40 mins or until cooked. Turning it once.

Serve with rice and some vegies for a well balanced meal. Yummmmmm