Monday, 13 October 2014

marion grasby's sesame tuna with ponzu

Weeknight dinners tend to be simple affairs in our household; often we cook enough to last more than one meal and things like spaghetti bolognese, baked chicken wings and fried rice are those staples we constantly have on rotation. Recently, my aunty introduced my mum to frozen salmon and tuna fillets at the supermarket (mum then got me some) and they've been a real treat. Take them out in the morning to defrost in the fridge and they're ready by the time you need to cook at night. So when I flicked through Marion Grasby's 'Asia Express' and saw the recipe for Sesame Tuna with Ponzu, I knew I was going to make this one soon.

With the defrosted tuna pieces, sprinke with salt and coat in sesame seeds. I only had white sesame seeds but Marion recommends a blend of black and white in her recipe. Heat oil in a pan and cook the tuna for about 2 minutes each side.

Marion's recipe for ponzu sauce is a combo of 1 finely sliced spring onion, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, grated zest of 1 lemon,  2tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tsp wasabi paste and 1 tsp freshly grated ginger all whisked together.

Here's how the tuna looks in the book if you have the black sesame seeds. I though the white sesame seeds already gave it plenty of flavour.

We had our tuna steaks with rice and it's actually a very filling meal. Admittedly frozen tuna steaks aren't as great as fresh ones but if you happen to be in the supermarket, do grab a bag of the frozen salmon steaks. You can hardly tell the difference with the salmon.

Anyhow, our rangehood in the kitchen decided to explode over the weekend so this might be a mini break from any cooking posts for the moment until we get that fixed.  Though truth be told, I would've been more sad had our oven broken down as I wouldn't be able to do any baking!

Friday, 10 October 2014

big tree house cafe @ calder rd., rydalmere

So I'm starting to catch up on my blog but at the same time catching up on all the other food blogs that are out there. So much has changed in the space of the year - there are so many food blogs! Sadly a lot of my favourites are either no longer blogging or are only blogging intermittently but then a lot more blogs are morphing into lifestyle blogs which every now and then I toy with the idea of (yes I'm very tempted but we'll see). Excitingly, I also hand the baton over to two of my younger cousins (bunnybloggers - and friedfoodfanatic - who have started their own respective food blogs and who on a rare mid week which I had off work, I caught up with to check out Big Tree House Cafe in Rydalmere.

In a most unsuspecting location (nestled in amongst residential), Big Tree House Cafe joins the wave of hipster type cafes which seem to be popping up. When I say hipster, I refer to the meals served on chopping boards, milkshakes served in old fashioned milk bottles and the menu, of course, must have a pulled pork burger. This hipster trend can be a bit of a hit and miss but I think Big Tree House Cafe are doing a reasonably good job (this was actually my second visit and there's still items on the menu which are bringing me back).

What did I say - here's my chocolate milkshake in its signature milk bottle.

My choice of the pulled pork burger with fried potatoes.

My younger cousin Chris orders the Baked eggs with toast which is part of their breakfast menu. There's actually a lot more items on their breakfast menu compared to their lunch menu so might be an idea to check them out for breakfast/brunch if you're planning to head here.

The cafe appears to be Korean own/run and serves up the Gangnam style burger - a burger of bulgogi beef on a brioche bun.

The meals aren't overly generous so meant there was room for dessert. Between the three of us we shared this delicious slice of ricotta cake.

And just because - I felt like banana bread which comes served deliciously toasted with a side of whipped cinnamon butter. I've tried to make banana bread so many times at home now and nothing beats banana bread ordered out at a cafe (and of course toasted and with a generous serve of melted butter).

Big Tree House Cafe offers both indoor and outdoor seating (seating available out the front but also out the back). We had a sneak peak of the back as the cafe is meant to have a big tree for climbing (hence the cafe's name) but was a little disappointed to find that the tree wasn't all that big. Ah well - we had a lovely time sitting indoors and having managed to nab a spot out the front, we didn't have to waddle very far after our meal.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

marion grasby's chicken and egg donburi

I didn't think twice when Marion Grasby's 'Asia Express' cookbook was released; picked it up off the shelf and straight to the counter and so far have already cooked three out of the hundred recipes which make up this cookbook. I haven't even bothered with putting post-it notes through it because I have no doubt I'll be cooking all the recipes in this cookbook; the tricky thing has been deciding which recipe to start with first!

Chicken & egg donburi has been a long time favourite of mine; I've actually cooked it a couple of times with several different recipes to the point that I've stopped ordering this dish when I go out. It's actually a really easy dish to cook. This recipe from Marion is true to her cookbook; fast and easy which makes it great for a weeknight meal.

Start with cooking 1 cup Japanese sushi rice - yep keep it authentic. This recipe requires 300g thinly sliced chicken thigh combined with 1/3 cup chicken stock, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 tbsp soy sauce. In a large frypan, heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil, add 1 thinly sliced brown onion and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add the marinated chicken until cooked. Drizzle 3 slightly whisked eggs over the top and cover with a lid until the egg is set.

 Remove the pan from the heat. Divide the rice in two bowls and top with the chicken and egg mixture. You can sprinkle with some chopped spring onions and shichimi togarishi (a spicy Japanese seasoning) to serve.

Dinner cooked in less than half an hour (including prep) - what more can you ask for! It's great also that  the recipe says it serves two and actually serves two. It's not really a dish that you can keep overnight and whilst the photos might not quite do the dish justice in terms of portion size; trust me that it's nice and filling (anything with egg in it generally will fill you up).

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

yellow @ macleay st., potts point

Amongst my friends, there's a handful of us turning the big 3-0 this year (myself included later this year) but whilst we had big grand plans for celebration, most of us have actually settled for some lower key get-togethers and catchups. I'd say partly to avoid the fuss but turning 30 seems to bring on the next stage of our lives where we value those closer friendships and a small no-fuss meal is just the best thing.

For my dearest friend Amz, her birthday this year was a brunch celebration at Yellow in Potts Point. I'd called up thinking we needed to book on a weekend but was told that we should be able to get a table if we turned up at 10. And as advised, we rocked up and were promptly seated at a table to enjoy the glorious food that they offer.

Without a doubt, there was breakfast envy amongst the table when my brekky of scambled egg, jamon, harissa and aoili turned up at the table - check out that generous slice of jamon!

The boy opted for the baked eggs with chorizo and spiced yoghurt which was equally as delish.

I've known this girl since primary school and she's stayed one of my closest friends yet. We don't see each other as much as we should but she is one amazing person!

Seeing the table next to us order this one, we were eager to try it to - it's toasted licorice bread with fresh cultured butter. O-M-G. It tastes like banana bread but it's licorice - I don't know how that works but even if you don't like licorice, you'll be eating this bread (trust me!)

For a brunch with a bit of class, this is definitely a place to visit. It's actually not all that expensive (about $25 a head for a breakfast and drink each plus the licorice bread to share). We managed to find metered street parking just outside and guess what, Bourke Street Bakery is just down the road for your next fix - which is exactly what we ended up doing once we finished brekky here. Hope you had a awesome birthday Amz!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

marion grasby's singapore laksa

An unintentional 10 month hiatus from this blog has left me fumbling around with the computer keys and re-familiarising myself with all buttons that you need to press to get a blog post up. Fortunately, like riding a bike, it seems to be coming back to me and I present you with my first post for 2014; an absolutely scrumptious dinner from last night using the Singapore Laksa kit from the Marion Kitchen's range (on sale this week at Woolworths for $4). Anyone that has been following me on this blog will know that I'm a big fan of Marion and have been following her range for a while now. In addition to the Singapore Laksa, she's also recently launch some Indian curries which I'm keen to get my hands on; though the boy seems to think she's not Indian so asked me to err on the side of caution (but after eating this last night and being full of compliments, I think he might've changed his mind).

Singapore Laksa in its signature orange box.

It's an easy 3 step dinner. Fry off the laksa paste that comes with the kit in a little vegetable oil (be warned that it will splatter so a pot is probably better for the task rather than the saucepan which Marion advises), add the cococonut milk (also part of the kit) and add 2 cups water. Once it comes to a simmer, add approx. 500g of your preferred meat (I used sliced chicken breast) and how can you not have a laksa with fried tofu puffs! The puffs soak up all goodness of the sauce. Then serve with your favourite noodles which in my case is Hokkien noodles for Laksa though I did sneak in some rice vermicelli with it for double the texture. The pack comes with a chilli sambal paste which compliments the laksa just perfectly.

From start to finish - allow about 20 minutes and voila; dinner is served! And why not some hard boiled eggs while you're at it.

Coming from a Malaysian background, the boy thought the laksa was quite authentic (and perhaps even better than the one his grandma makes at home and thank goodness, the grandma doesn't read this blog). The soup is a little on the thick side but not to the point where you think you're about to have a heart attack eating a bowl of this. As for serving 4, I'd say the pack comfortably feeds two hungry people i.e. me and the boy. I know I can be fickle but this is definitely my favourite from Marion's range to date.