Thursday, September 27, 2007

First Experience At Making Bagels

The first time I ate bagels was probably around 8 years ago, when Au Bon Pain just opened, and it was the new 'in' thing. I fell in love with it the first time I had it toasted and slathered with thick layer of the accompanying cream cheese. The slight chewy, yet crunchy texture of the bagel, and the creaminess of the cream cheese was absolutely satisfying. I was a fan of Au Bon Pain's bagel for a long while, until they started stinging on their cream cheese. It was not until I came to Melbourne that my cravings for bagels started again. I usually get my stash of bagels fresh from Victoria market instead of the ones at the supermarket. After reading this easy bagel recipe online, I decided to try it out.

Plain Bagels


3 ¾ cups unbleached All purpose flour

2 ¼ teaspoon Active dry yeast (1 sachet)

1 ¼ - ½ cup water

3 tablespoon sugar, and 1 more tablespoon for boiling the bagels

2 ½ teaspoon salt

This recipe is for plain bagels, if you would like other toppings such as sesame seeds or poppy seeds, feel free to add them after the bagels are boiled, and before you place them in the oven.

Mix 1 and ¼ cup of warm water with the yeast, then add a teaspoon of sugar and leave to proof for 5-10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, add flour, sugar and salt together, then add in the proofed yeast mixture. Knead the dough until well kneaded and cover it with a cling film and leave to proof for 1 hour. After 1 hour, check whether the dough has proofed by pressing the dough with two fingers. If the dent holds its shape, then the dough is well proofed. If the dent bounces back immediately, then it needs more time to proof. If the dough collapse, then it has been proofed too long and need to be rekneaded and reproof.

Knead the proofed dough to get rid of the air and divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a small ball shaped dough, and make a hole in the middle of the dough and swing into a ‘donut’ shaped. Make the hole quite big (big enough to fit three fingers) as the hole tends to shrink as the dough proofs. Leave the dough to proof for another 10 min, making sure they are covered to prevent them from becoming dry. Preheat the oven at 200 degree Celsius.

Boil each side of the dough in boiling water (with 1 tablespoon of sugar) for 20 seconds. Be careful not to boiling them for too long as this will result in a tough and chewy texture at the bagel’s ‘skin’. Brush the boiled bagels with a mixture of egg white and water to give the bagels a shiny touch.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and sprayed with oil. Place the boiled bagels on top and bake for 20-25 min or until golden brown.

I forgot to brush my bagels with egg white before baking them, hence they didn't have the 'shiny' finish. These bagels might not taste as good or look as nice as the ones the commercially made ones, but I'm proud of them as I can happily say that I've made bagels before!

Winery Trip Part 2

This post is a continuation of the wineries trip I had last weekend. We visited several more wineries and had more food as the guys were still hungry. We stopped at this little winery for some cheese platter.

The cheese knives collections available for sale

We tried their cheese platter, which consisted of a spicy relish (which was beautiful!), some goat's cheese, and other types of cheeses. Personally, I found the goat's cheese too strong for my liking, but my friend loved it.

Some bread and crackers. I prefer eating crackers with cheese. The breads were a bit hard to chew.

We wanted to eat at Chandon, but the kitchen was already closed, so we had to stop somewhere else. We ended up at this other winery, which I do not remember the name. The guys decided to have some coffee and cakes.

Gigantic Carrot Cake

Chocolate Cake. I was told that the cake was quite hard.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Matt's Bar at Yering Station

I went to several wineries last weekend with a group of friends and we stopped by Matt's Bar at Yering Station for a light lunch. Actually, we have been snacking throughout the whole trip.

Complimentary chips
I wonder how they cut the chips into the criss-cross pattern

Yarra Valley Persian Feta and potato croquettes with
Cunliffe & Waters tomato and capsicum relish
The croquettes were great! Crispy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside

game terrine wrapped in proscuitto with winter salad, red wine drizzle
My favourite! The red wine sauce gave it an extra kick!

spiced chickpeas in pappadum cases, coriander and yogurt dressing
I didn't really enjoy this dish. The pappadam cases tasted a bit stale.

smoked chicken roulade filled with currant and mint polenta

Yering Station produce platter
Chefs daily selections of marinated vegetables, cured meats, pesto, olive oil, balsamic vinegar
with Phillippa’s bread
I loved their sun-dried tomatoes! So sweet and juicy!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sinful Dinner at Pacific Seafood BBQ House Restaurant, Toorak

This is one of the very sinful dinners I've had in a while. It was high in cholesterol, coated in oil, but taste unbelievably great! Pacific House restaurant is very popular, and was featured in The Age Cheap Eats several times. If you are looking for a restaurant with great service, this restaurant is a no-no! However, if you are looking for scrumptious, authentic Cantonese cuisine at a reasonable price, with saliva-inducing roast duck, this is the place to be!

This restaurant is situated on 210 Toorak road, and I very much prefer this to the one at Richmond. As the restaurant is very popular, booking is a must! The turnover rate at this restaurant is also very high as you are always rushed by the waiters/waitresses. The bills are popped on your table along with the refreshing oranges while you are trying to finish your last dish.

The famous juicy roast duck. I still prefer Idea's though as the roast duck was deboned.

Another angle of the roast duck

Roast pork and BBQ pork

Stir-fried Snow Pea Sprouts with Garlic

My favorite dish! Deep fried prawns with salted Egg yolks. This dish will probably bring your cholesterol level sky high.

Salt and Pepper Chicken Ribs. The chicken ribs were coated with thick crispy batter that when you bite into it, you can feel the oil seeping through. Very evil indeed!

Braised Pork belly..Another fat-ladened dish!

If good food and cramped seatings are your thing, do try out Pacific house!

Good Old Cinnamon Apple Muffins

I've been making a lot of muffins and cupcakes lately, and one main reason is that they are so easy to distribute! They are also cute and save me the hassle of cutting them into pieces when I have to deliver them to my friends. This time I decided to make Cinnamon Apple muffins from the recipe I found on The only thing I adapted was adding a teaspoon of vanilla to make the batter more flavorful. They turned out great, light and moist and full of apples! I love it when I can taste the apple and raisins pieces in each bite I take! This is definitely a keeper!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Eggs Benedict at Benito's

After reading several blogs about eggs Benedict and looking at the beautiful pictures, I got a strong eggs-Benedict craving. I decided to try out Benito's which received high praise by a lot of food bloggers. Benito is located at 445 Little Collins street. The place is packed with men in their business suits, which made me stood out from the rest of the crowd. I proudly ordered Eggs Benedict and waited excitedly for it to arrive. When the eggs were delivered to my table, I was a bit disappointed as the Hollandaise sauce wasn't as 'overflowing' as the pictures I've seen. I decided to try my luck and taste the eggs anyway. The eggs were a bit overcooked for my liking, and the yolks weren't as runny as I'd like them to be. However, the hollandaise was done quite beautifully; I can taste the slight lemon taste without it being overpowering. The mixture of eggs with the ham and toasted English muffin goes together very well.

I have a confession to make. As this is actually the first time I've had Eggs Benedict, I can't really give too much comments, so I'll have to try more Eggs Benedict in the future to compare. Overall, it was quite a good experience, and it also gave me the inspiration to find the best eggs Benedict in Melbourne. One complaint for Benito's is that the price for their Eggs Benedict are actually on the high side!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Successful New York Cheesecake

I actually made this cake a few weeks ago but did not have a chance to blog about it until now. I used to find cheesecake quite hard to make before as my cheesecake always ended up sinking as it cools or a crack in the middle. Well, after doing some research, I've found out that I should not overbeat the cream cheese batter as it'll incorporate too much air, making the cheesecake sink as it cools. Also, the cheesecake should not be remove from the oven immediately after cooking as the pressure in the oven and outside is different, causing the cake the crack. Water-bath is also helpful at preventing cracks on cheesecakes.

I found this recipe on Allrecipes, and it was probably one of the highest rated recipes with great feedback. You also get a lot of tips with cheesecake baking from there. I halved the recipe for an 8 inch spring form tin and it was perfect! If health wasn't an issue, I'll definitely be making more of this!

Enjoy your afternoon tea with some Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

These peanut butter cookies are irresistible, and the best thing about them is that they are soo easy to make! Another fabulous recipe from Baking Bites. (formerly known as Bakingsheet) I found this recipe so versatile! If you bake them with shorter time, you get soft cookies, and if you lengthen the baking time, you get crunchy cookies! Oh, so easy!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Desserts @ Three, One, Two

Last week, me and my friends went to Three, One, Two in Carlton for some desserts. The pictures are quite blurry, and I must apologize for that as the lighting in the restaurant was not 'photo-friendly' at all. The restaurant was tiny, a lot smaller than I'd expected! The waiters and waitresses were friendly and attentive. We ordered the dish that was crowned the Age's 2008 'Dish of the year', which was our main purpose of trying out 'Three, One, Two'.

Confit Apple with Burnt Butter Ice cream
Though the dish appeared small, it was quite filling! The apple layers were extremely flavorful and the smooth texture of the burnt butter ice cream complements it very well. In my opinion, I thought it was pretty good, but I would not think it was the 'Best' dish of the year. However, I do appreciate the amount of time the chef spent on the dish.

Three, One, Two's hot chocolate.
It was probably one of the richest Hot Chocolate I've ever tasted. I think it was made with cream instead of milk.

Strawberries; Jellied, crushed and sorbet with fromage frais and meringue
This dish was a recommendation from the waitress. I thought it was a good pick as the tangy/sweet taste of the strawberry and the sorbet contradicts the richness of the apple confit, making both dishes very enjoyable. The meringue pieces also gave it a good crunch! A refreshing dish indeed.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Banana and Chocolate Cupcakes

Banana are so cheap now compared to last year when most of the bananas in Queensland were wiped out by mother nature. The price of the bananas sky-rocketed--around $16.99 per kg! Now the cheapest I've seen is $1.50 per kg! Now that Bananas are no longer considereds luxurious products, I can afford to use them in a lot of my bakings! I found this recipe from This site is great!! It contains all the amazing recipes from different food magazines, and it has ratings from people who've tried out the recipe. It's so useful and I recommend it to everyone who loves cooking!

Banana and Chocolate Cupcakes


150g butter, at room temperature
155g (3/4 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, peeled, mashed
1 x 200g pkt good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
300g (2 cups) self-raising flour
60ml (1/4 cup) milk
White chocolate curls, to decorate

Chocolate frosting

1 x 200g pkt good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
125ml (1/2 cup) thickened cream


  • Preheat oven to 180°C. Line sixteen 80ml (1/3-cup) capacity muffin pans with paper cases.
  • Use an electric beater to beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition until just combined. Add the banana and chocolate and stir until well combined. Use a large metal spoon to fold in the flour and milk until well combined. Spoon the mixture evenly among the prepared muffin pans and smooth the surfaces. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, to make the chocolate frosting, place the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan half-filled with simmering water (make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water). Use a metal spoon to stir occasionally until the chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Set aside for 30 minutes to cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2 hours or until almost firm. Use an electric beater to beat the chocolate mixture until pale and fluffy.Use a round-bladed knife to spread the cupcakes evenly with frosting. Sprinkle with chocolate curls to serve.
Australian Good Taste - April 2006 , Page 98
Recipe by Michelle Southan

I think this is a good and simple recipe. I used chocolate chips instead of the chopped chocolates. I personally like it better when it's slightly heated in the microwave and when all the chocolate frosting becomes a little gooey. *slurp*

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pan fried Salmon Fillet With Orange-Miso Sauce

I had a fish craving yesterday so I decided to try out the recipe by the Passionatecook. I have to say it tasted quite interesting! Something different from the usual Teriyaki sauce. I quite like the idea of using Miso in sauces, instead of just in soup! I shall try experimenting with different combination in the future. The only thing I didn't like about this dish is that my apartment ended up smelling like Salmon! Maybe I need a stronger exhaust fan.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Easy Easy Chocolate Chip cookies!

This is probably one of the easiest chocolate chip cookies I've ever made! It's so simple that you don't even need eggs! This is actually the recipe behind the Nestle Chocolate Chip cookies package! This is so easy! Almost a failed-proof recipe as you don't need to worry that your butter is too warm and ending up with flat cookies. The cookies are rolled, then flattened, instead of dropping right from the spoon like the 'normal' choc chip cookies.

Choc Bit Cookies by Nestle

Makes 30

225 g butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup Dark Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C
Cream butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Beat in sweetened condensed milk. Cream until the mixture is light and fluffy. Sift flour and baking powder. Stir into butter mixture with Nestle Dark Choc Bits. Roll tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls. Place on a lined oven tray.
Press biscuits down to flatten. Bake in preheated oven for 15 min or until golden brown.

Taste wise, not bad at all! I thought it tasted like shortbread with chocolate chips in it. Not the usual chocolate chips I'd expected, but with such short amount of time, it's definitely worthed!!

Friday, September 7, 2007

A Very Long Dinner at The Brasserie by Philippe Mouchel

My family came and visited me a few weeks ago, and I decided to try out The Brasserie by Phillipe Mouchel. I read about this restaurant on the Age good Food Guide 2007, and it seemed to be much more reasonable when compared to the pricey Vue de Monde. When I called to book, I was told that the table was only available at 8:30 pm as it was a Saturday night. I was pretty excited to taste an actual French food from a French Chef!

When we arrived at the restaurant, the place was buzzing with people. We were guided to our table which was on second floor, there were so many people that I almost forgot it was a fine dining.

Anyway, to make things short, I was not very happy with the service here. It was a long time before the waiter started taking our orders. Our drinks were very slow too, we were left waiting there for almost 40 minutes without any drink! Each course were very slow too. By 10:30 pm, our main course hasn't even arrived! My family were all starving, we tried to make conversations until we ran out of things to say. We finished the whole dinner at nearly midnight. It was probably one of the longest dinner I've had, with only 3 courses! We ended up watching 4 fire shows that night!

Hope I did not bore you with all the complaints. Anyway, regarding the food, some were impressive, while others were just mediocre.

I read in an online review, and on a newspaper review that the traditional fish soup was good so I decided to try it out. It was nothing spectacular though and I did not think it was worth the price. My dad's snails was, however, amazing! The puff pastry complemented the snails very well. I was very impressed with the dish, considering it was the first time I've ever had snails.

Snails Provençale tomato fondue, garlic and parsley butter, puff pastry
This was a really worthed for its price!

Tasmanian salmon gravlax, spelt blinis, crème fraîche and condiments

The above is my mom's Entree. This dish was quite nicely decorated and tasted pretty good too.

As for the mains, I decided to have the duck and I must say I did not regret my decision. The duck breast itself was juicy and flavorful. the poached leg was really tender, almost falling off the bone. The green lentil ragout was the perfect partnerfor the duck.

Medley of duck
– roasted breast, poached leg and handmade sausage with ragout of Victorian green lentils

My sister ordered the Grilled Sirloin. I thought this dish was a disappointment as the steak itself was quite dry.

Grilled beef sirloin with béarnaise sauce

However, my dad's dish seemed to have saved the day again. Well, maybe it's because he had ordered the Wagyu, which was almost triple the price of the grilled sirloin. I really enjoyed the steak, it was extremely tender, very flavorful and had a creamy taste!

Grade 9 Wagyu Sirloin

Medley of lamb, Navarin jus, sautéed Winter vegetables
(My mom ordered this dish, I personally do not like lamb so I can't give any comment)

That was the end of our main course. For desserts, here are what we've tried.

Chocolate marquise with pistachio Anglaise and vanilla sorbet
This was what I ordered. The vanilla sorbet was good, I thought that the chocolate marquise was a bit too rich and wasn't able to finish it.

Vanilla crème brûlée
This dish was divine! It was perfectly done! We all really enjoyed it!

Traditional baba soaked in Cointreau liqueur, citrus salad, orange marmalade
This was not bad, but not fantastic either. Basically it was just a cake soaked in orange liquor.

Warm chocolate fondant, coconut emulsion,griottines sorbet
This was amazing too! I thought I had ordered the wrong dish when I did not see any chocolate. However, the warm chocolate fondant was hidden underneath the sorbet. The warm, rich chocolate center was fabulous!

My experience at The Brasserie has been quite interesting as you can see. I don't think I'll be going back there again though, considering the hours we had to wait. But if you are on a hot date, where an hour feels like a minute, do try it out!