Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Baked Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Sauce

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Baked Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Sauce
Home Cooking


I got the 'Meals Men Love' cookbook as a gift a while back and this is the first recipe to be trialed. All the recipes look quite easy and don't require a lot of ingredients. This particular recipe was chosen on the basis that I felt like something chickeny.


The procedure is really simple and straight-forward. I didn't follow exact quantities that were mentioned but rather, did my own thing using the recipe as a rough guideline. I substituted bacon for ham and served some baked asparagus on the side. The recipe below is MY version.

Baked Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Sauce

Serves 2

Ingredients:
  • 2 skinless chicken breast fillets
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped bacon
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach, chopped
  • 75g brie cheese, cubed
  • bunch of asparagus
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to season
For the mushroom sauce
  • 1/3 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/3 cup condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to season
Procedure:

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Saute the bacon until colored. Add the mushroom and spinach and stir until spinach is wilted.3. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until mostly melted.4. Stuff this mixture into the chicken breasts.5. Place stuffed breasts in a baking pan with the asparagus. Drizzle the olive oil over the top.6. Bake, covered, in the oven for ~30min or until cooked throughout.

Meanwhile...

7. Make the mushroom sauce. 8. First, saute the mushrooms until softened.Add the mushroom soup and water. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened.9. Add the tomato paste and salt and pepper to taste.

To serve...

9. Spoon the mushroom sauce over the chicken breasts and enjoy.


I like that this dish feigns a bit of fanciness but it's really easy and thrifty. The flavors of the stuffing work wonderfully together.

Close-up shot

Chicken breast tends to be quite bland on its own but the brie really livens things up (bacon doesn't hurt either).

Inside of chicken breast

The mushroom sauce is delicious. I imagine it would work equally well with steak. Yum.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Espressohead for Breakfast

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Espressohead
169 Boundary St, West End


Breakfast posts get me excited. As well as being my favorite meal of the day, breakfast food photos always turn out amazing because of the morning lighting. I heard excellent things about the quality and serving size of breakfast at Espressohead.


The cafe spans across 2 small shopfronts on Boundary St. The decor is casual and artsy - great atmosphere for coffee and chatting. We ordered beverages first. My friend got a cappucino and I ordered an unsweetened iced coffee with soy milk (my new usual cold coffee choice).

Cappuccino

I can't comment on the cappuccino but the iced coffee was delicious.

Iced coffee with soy milk

I know coffee with soy milk is not for everyone (in fact, I hated it on first taste) but this is a combination that really grew on me after trying it at Espressohead.

Canadian breakfast

The Canadian breakfast was HUGE. I'm talking about 2 slices of toast, 2 hash browns, 2 poached eggs, 2 pancakes, bacon and maple syrup. This is something that can definitely be shared. It isn't at all necessary for me to reiterate my love for bacon with maple syrup. I heart this combination. Breakfast that pulls no punches.

Eggs benedict with Turkish bread, spinach and smoked salmon

I ordered the eggs benedict with smoked salmon. It was absolutely delicious.

Egg yolk river

The hollandaise was faultlessly smooth and creamy and tasted like heaven coupled with salmon and wilted spinach. It sure was a filling meal but I managed without remorse.

Service at Espressohead was very friendly. We didn't realize they were cash only so we had to go to the ATM for cash-out. The girl at the counter was trusting enough to let us both leave the cafe but I insisted on leaving a deposit. The breakfasts aren't the cheapest around but servings are huge and they really hit the spot. Espressohead doesn't have the fanciest breakfast on the block but they're done well. I enjoyed my experience and recommend this cafe.


Espressohead on Urbanspoon

Simple Sweet Coleslaw

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Simple Sweet Coleslaw
Home Cooking


This is a throw-together recipe from a while ago. I was craving fresh vegetables and didn't want to eat anything heavy for dinner. Coleslaw is an ideal solution. It has enough body to fill you up and all those shredded veggies make you feel like you're eating concentrated nutrients!


Coleslaw is easily a family classic. It's versatile - can be used as a side or for lunch, dinner, picnics, whatever. The composition of vegetables and what you put in the dressing is all really flexible but best of all, it's easy to make it taste good.


This recipe is a loose guideline to inspire you to whip up your own coleslaw.

Simple Sweet Coleslaw
Serves 2-3 as sides

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • ~ 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • ~ 1/4 cup of pineapple juice
  • salt and pepper (if required)
Procedure:

1. Toss everything together.



2. That's it! Can it get any easier? Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.


We served the coleslaw with store-bought barbecue chicken, canned beetroot and canned pineapple. All really easy peasy.

Coleslaw close-up

Sure it wasn't fancy and I can hardly lay claim to gourmet cooking skills but I really enjoyed the meal. Clean, wholesome (all food groups covered), filling and tasty.

Chicken and coleslaw go together like cheese and crackers

The coleslaw was crunchy and tangy with a light sweetness from the pineapple that perfectly complimented the cabbage. We used low-fat options for everything and I don't feel like that really compromised the end result. Great for feeling guilt-free.

Mecca Bah

2 comments:
Mecca Bah
http://www.meccabah.com/bris/index.html


I'm developing a habit of suggesting Turkish food for group gatherings. Last time, it was Caravanserai. The most recent time I had the chance to catch up with friends, we went to Mecca Bah at The Emporium.


(Interrupting to say: I'm sorry about the poor quality of photos. I managed to water-log my camera... again... and at the time of this dinner, I used a point-and-shoot method that didn't involve the screen. In other words, I had no idea what my photos looked like)

I LOVE Mecca Bah. I've been there several times now and it's been a great experience on each occasion. There are downers, that's for sure - you can't book so you have to risk waiting for a table. Also, whilst the waitstaff are friendly, the service can be a bit rushed simply because they're so busy.


The menu comprises of a whole heap of mezze - which are like small starters (think Turkish tapas). I like ordering a few of these to share as entrees. There are also full-sized mains that include a selection of Turkish pizzas.

We chose some starters and 2 pizzas to come out all at once so we could share them all.

Hot Turkish bread with labneh dip

First came the Turkish bread with a labneh dip. It was hot fluffy and delicious. The dip was very garlicky.

Sweet potato falafels with tahini sauce and Lebanese sausage and chickpea salad (out of focus in foreground)

The sweet potato falafels were small but flavorsome. I really liked them in combination with the dip. Falafels are so awesome.
A friend recommended the Lebanese sausage and chickpea salad. I expected a leafy salad but it's not one of those at all. The sausages pack a punch and go nicely with the plain nuttiness of the chickpeas. It was simple but delicious.

Turkish pizza with Turkish lamb kofte, spicy tomato sauce and yogurt

We chose 2 pizzas to share. One was the Turkish lamb kofte pizza. I really liked this pizza. Lamb on pizza is usually a win for me but this one had something extra. I love the sprinkling of fresh rocket on top - it adds an extra dimension in taste and texture.

Turkish pizza with spiced chicken, eggplant, rocket and tahini sauce

I wasn't as crazy about the chicken pizza. It was a bit too saucy for me and the flavor was nice but not special. The great thing about pizza at Mecca Bah is that it just tastes so fresh. There's no resemblance at all to frozen goods. The base is springy and golden on the surfaces. The pizza were also bigger than we expected. I recommend one to be shared by two people.

We passed on dessert and drinks this time round but everyone had a great impression of the food. I ate a lot more than I should have (been trying to watch my weight) but it was one of those cases where I don't feel too remorseful because the meal was worth it.

I'll definitely be going back again and again.

Mecca Bah on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Slow-cooked Moroccan Lamb Shanks

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Slow-cooked Moroccan Lamb Shanks
Home Cooking


I recently took advantage of the interest-free period at Myer and acquired a slow cooker. The first formal project was lamb shanks. Perhaps it's weird to crave such an obviously Wintery dish in Summer but lamb lovers like shanks all year round.

We didn't really follow a formal recipe but instead chose veggies that seemed appealing. Being the pumpkin addict I am, I opted for half a whole butternut pumpkin. My friend was EXTREMELY skeptical, to say the least and I got accused to no end. Thankfully the end result wasn't over-bearingly pumpkinesque or I would've REALLY copped it.

This recipe is very mish-mashed. We were very experimental with the seasoning (translates to - 'throw in a bit of this and that and cross our fingers').

Slow-cooked Moroccan Lamb Shanks
Serves 5-6

Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 1/2 pumpkin, seeds removed and chopped
  • 2 x white onions, quartered
  • 2 x potatoes, cubed
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 packets of lamb casserole sachets
  • Moroccan seasoning to taste
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • salt and pepper to season
  • flat bread, sour cream and shallots to serve
Procedure:

1. On high heat, seal off the lamb in a bit of olive oil. Once it's colored, add the onion.2. Reduce the heat and add the vegetables (potatoes, carrots, pumpkin). Toss around.
3. Cover with stock and add in the sachets of seasoning + Moroccan seasoning.4. Cook on low heat on a stove, or in a slow-cooker for 8hrs+ (we left it overnight).
5. Once the lamb is tender and falling off the bone, add the tomatoes and peas.
6. Adjust the seasoning/flavoring with the addition of more Moroccan spice, salt and pepper and cayenne pepper.
7. Serve topped with sour cream and shallots to accompany some toasted flat bread, rice or cous cous.


The meat from the lamb shanks turned out fantastically - it was so melty, gelatinous and fall-off-the-bone. We were a bit disappointed with the flavor though. On first eating, it just seemed a bit bland so we amped up the amount of spice.


Close-up lamb shot

The next day, everything had disintegrated a bit more and it was starting to taste like good quality canned soup. Not the most encouraging feedback ever but the results can be enhanced upon.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Curried Egg and Tomato Sandwich

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Curried Egg and Tomato Sandwich
Home Cooking


I was raiding my parent's house one day hoping for something to ease hunger but was disappointed by the lack of food available. Thankfully, there was a loaf of Helga's and enough to provide for this sandwich. I would have liked a bit of lettuce too but hey, beggars can't be choosers.

Curried Egg and Tomato Sandwich
Serves 1

Ingredients:
  • 2 slices of bread (your choice :D), buttered if you wish
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tomato, sliced with seeds removed
  • ~ 1 tsp curry powder
  • sprinkling of chopped shallots
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste
Procedure:

1. Hard boil the eggs.2. In a small bowl, squish together the eggs, mayo and curry powder. You can adjust the amount of curry powder to your liking. Season and add the shallots.3. Layer onto the bread some curried egg and tomato slices in alternation.4. Top with the other slice of bread and serve.


Simple and delicious - this can be whipped up from household staples. It tasted really good too so I didn't feel as though I was compromising. Happy smiles all round.

Close-up shot

Monday, December 14, 2009

La Dolce Vita Cafe

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La Dolce Cafe
12/20 Park Rd, Milton


I was Christmas shopping with some friends last weekend. It was 100% ineffective and we all left empty-handed. As a reward for poor efficiency, we thought a coffee break was well-deserved and I put forward Park Rd as a suggestion.

Gelato bar

After roaming a bit, we settled for La Dolce Vita Cafe, affectionately nicknamed amongst the group as the 'Eiffel Tower'. There aren't many tables indoors but La Dolce Vita has an expansive outdoor dining area. Food offerings are the standard cafe affair with an Italian twist.

Pistachio gelato shake

I was originally just going to grab a coffee but the gelato bar was too irresistible so I ordered a pistachio gelato shake. It wasn't very thick but the flavor was gorgeous - a natural, subtle pistachio.

Iced coffee

My friend got an iced coffee which looked pretty impressive. We both slurped our drinks down real quickly. My excuse is that I was thirsty. My friend just drinks and eats fast on every occasion.

Baklava

We also tried a couple of desserts. The baklava is extremely nutty and has the standard, rosewater, syrupy sweetness. I quite liked the bit I tried but my friend commented that they were a bit lazy with the layers. Rather than having obvious distinction between the layers of nuts and filo, there was a thick layer of nuts with flakes of filo piled on top.

Italian sponge cake

Nuts seemed to be the flavor of the day because I wanted to share a cake with my other friend and he wanted something 'with nuts'. I consulted the waitstaff and he suggested either the shortbread coated with nuts or the Italian sponge cake. I asked which tasted better and he said he personally preferred the Italian sponge.

Inside of the sponge cake

This is a small, individual sponge cake filled with cream and chocolate mousse and coated with hazelnuts. It was quite nice but nothing special to me. The texture of the sponge seemed a bit on the dry side and I felt like it needed a sauce or something because despite the complexity, it was a bit bland in taste.

Bowl of wedges

We also ordered a bowl of wedges to share. The wedges have a kind of crispy, battered finish. I really liked them. The bowl came with um... a sauce that we couldn't decide on. I thought it was sour cream and the other 2 thought it was hollandaise. Regardless, there was sweet chili with it and it tasted good :D.

Dessert case

Service at La Dolce Vita was robust, speedy and very friendly. We were there chatting away for a long time and the staff never showed any impatience. I think it's a nice place to hang out and chat and the gelatos are lovely.

La Dolce Vita Caffe on Urbanspoon