Sunday, November 29, 2009

Greek Almond Cookies

Greek Almond Cookies
Home Cooking

This was a case of - when you're cooking, why stop? I already had 2 recipes going but I felt like committing to one more... for fun. The recipe for Greek-style almond cookies was something I flipped onto and mentally bookmarked as not requiring many ingredients.

It's really easy... like, really, really easy.

When I baked my batch, I had to consider the fact that my family has been eating till bursting for the past few days so I kept it moderate and divided the recipe by 3. The cookies are so easy and good though, I've included the ORIGINAL quantities below and recommend you use these amounts :).

Greek Almond Cookies
Makes around 45

  • 3 cups almond meal
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup almond flakes

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a couple of baking trays with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the almond meal, caster sugar and almond extract.3. Add the egg whites and incorporate it until it forms a sticky dough/paste. I thought the egg whites weren't going to be enough but be patient and it should all come together.4. Roll tablespoons of the dough into logs, form crescent-shapes and roll through the almond flakes to coat.5. Place on the baking paper. They won't rise in the oven so don't worry about leaving huge spaces between the cookies.6. Bake in the oven for around 10-15min until golden brown. Cool completely before serving.

I didn't have very high expectations for these cookies. In a way, they were made for my mum because I thought they'd be a nice, not-very-sweet accompaniment for tea or coffee. In actual fact, they were really yummy! I ended up stealing a few from the tray before they even cooled down completely.

Close-up shot

The texture is sort of crumbling and VERY SLIGHTLY chewy. I loved the almondiness of it all - since that's basically all that the cookies are made of. An extra bonus is the fact they're basically fat-free (only whatever is in the almonds... which is hardly worth mentioning) so you can almost snack guilt-free.

Caffe e Gelato Milany

1 comment:
Caffe e Gelato Milany

I'll be the first to admit I have a phenomenal appetite but during the hottest days of Summer, I find it trying to think about eating anything more than cold fruit and ice-cream. Ice-cream is a Summer staple for me and because I know many of you guys share this stance, I'm going to share this amazing gelato cafe.

Milany's is co-owned by Olympian Tatiana Grigorieva and was recommended to me by a friend in uni. We were waiting for patients and the computers in the clinic stations were vacant so he took the opportunity to Google the website for me to browse. Um... have you clicked the website? It's impossible to look at the photos in the menu page and not want to go.

Full menu of ice-creamy stuffs

When we went to Lure last week, my dining buddies were tossing up between Room4Dessert and West End Freestyle for dessert but I INSISTED we try Milany's. The driver was hesitant because we rarely go Northside so anything located North of the CBD seems like a long trek away. This wasn't the case at all... Milany's Cafe is on Racecourse Rd, Ascot - literally 5min or so from the city.

I liked the place as soon as I saw it. The storefront is WIDE and open and bright. Perhaps my imagination is more expressive than most but I felt like I was being welcomed into ice-cream land! The moment you step inside, you see the fridge displaying all the flavors. The staff is friendly and we were offered tastes of anything that we were unsure of.

There are a limited few tables indoors and an expansive outdoor area.

Some of the goodies looking pretty side-by-side

I've actually been to Milany's twice now so there's a decent stash of photos to share. The first time, we ordered poffertjes with dark chocolate gelato and a 3 scoop bowl to share. On my second visit, we went for their cocktails (which are basically like sundaes) as well as a gelato thickshake.

Poffertjes with a scoop of dark chocolate gelato

To be PERFECTLY honest, I wasn't totally blown away by the poffertjes but I'm willing to concede that this might be because I never understood the appeal of these things anyway. They're like pancakes... but small. So what? The dark chocolate gelato was quite amazing though. Deep, rich and not overpoweringly sweet.

3 scoops of gelato - biscuit, Turkish delight and cherry ripe

For the 3 scoops, we chose a flavor each. I chose the biscuit flavor and while the flavor was nice, I would have liked greater chunks of biscuity goodness. My friend was crazy for the Turkish delight flavor but since I'm not a fan of Turkish delight, needless to say my personal opinion is skewed. The cherry ripe flavor was quite good though. Of special mention is the gingerbread cookie - really crisp and yum.

Mini death by chocolate

I loved the mini death by chocolate sundae. It has 2 scoops of ice-cream (milk chocolate and dark chocolate) and a smothering of glorious toppings. Though it was the 'small' size, it's quite substantial just because it's so rich. My favorite addition was the salted caramel pop rocks. So good!

Strawberry fantasy

The strawberry fantasy was huge and very impressive. Strawberries and cream is a foolproof winning formula and this takes it to a new level.

To put things into perspective re: size...

The strawberries were perfect and fresh and the combination with cream and gelato makes this perfect for Summer.

Pistachio gelato thickshake

I have nothing but raves for the pistachio gelato. You can chose up to 2 different flavors because they use 2 actual scoops of gelato to make the thickshake (none of that powder or syrup rubbish). I was contemplating mixing flavors but decided to be safe because the staff (owner?) pointed out that he can't be accountable for taste if I go too crazy :p. I have no regrets whatsoever because the pistachio flavor was spot on. I've mentioned before that I always try pistachio whenever I'm at a gelato store and even though I didn't taste this in an actual scoop of gelato, I think the thickshake is quite indicative of flavor and IT WAS GOOD. The texture was fabulous too - smooth and thick.

I'll clarify one more time - Milany's is highly recommended. It's quite unique in Brisbane, being the only 'ice-cream restaurant' that I know of. By that I mean there is an actual menu featuring ice-cream as the primary focus. In Sydney, I was taken by Passionflower and now here, we have something similar so that is something to write home about :D.

Clean sweep

Milany on Urbanspoon

Pumpkin and Zucchini Thai Green Curry

Pumpkin and Zucchini Thai Green Curry
Home Cooking

This is another marriage of all those little crazes I get: pumpkin, coconut, curry... oh there's sweet potato in here too but it disintegrated so I didn't include it in the title.

I picked up the veggies on the weekend and grabbed a can of coconut milk and some green curry paste. That's all there is to it! The rest of the ingredients are pantry basics and of course, there's a lot of flexibility with what vegetables you include. If you really want to add meat - I SUPPOSE that's allowed too :p.

Pumpkin and Zucchini Thai Green Curry
Serves 2-3

  • 1/2 small pumpkin
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1cm cube of young ginger, minced
  • 50g (approx 2 tbsp) green curry paste
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth (you can also use veggie stock or just water)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

1. Skin and cut the pumpkin and sweet potato into reasonably equal-sized chunks. Slice the zucchini (I like to keep the skin).2. In a large wok, heat the vegetable oil and dry fry the green curry paste with the ginger on high heat. Melt in 1 tbsp of palm sugar.3. Add the chicken broth and once it starts boiling, throw in the veggies.4. Reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for around 20min or until the veggies are tender.5. Add the coconut milk, bit by bit, stirring gently until you get a good flavor and consistency. Taste and add more palm sugar and or lime juice if necessary.
6. Serve hot with steamed rice. Garnish with coriander (optional).

I think this curry turned out fabulous! A lot of the end result rests on your curry paste since that's where most of the flavor comes from. The other part of it comes from your ability to balance sweet/sour/spicy with the addition of sugar, lime juice etc. Don't be too liberal at any one point. Try and taste and adjust. Curries are very, very personal.

Close-up shot

If I had one complaint, it's that I didn't see any of the sweet potato - it was all mush by the end of the cooking process. In a way, that's good because it's probably what thickened up the sauce. On the other hand, I LIKE chunks of sweet potato so I'll probably use bigger chunks next time.

Curries made for lustful leftovers

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lure at The Coro

1 comment:
Lure Seafood Restaurant
28 McDougall St, Milton

Last night, I met up with a couple of my best foodie mates for dinner. After being indecisive about what/where to eat for AGES, I put my foot down for seafood. It must be something about the Queensland Summer because all my vegetarian cravings have subsided for thoughts of water, fish and crustaceans.

One of my friends had been to Lure before and gave the restaurant a thumbs up. We didn't make a booking (figuring that whatever restaurant doesn't work out can be replaced with somewhere less packed - i.e. adventurous/spontaneous dining) but rocked up real early as the first table.

I'm not sure what Lure looks like from the front because we sort of entered the premise from 'below' aka the carpark. Unfortunately that also means I didn't get my obligatory 'shopfront shot'. Let's all use our imagination then, shall we? The actual restaurant is quite long so I had the feel of being in a small restaurant when in actual fact, the tables stretched out further behind me.

What I really liked was the seafood bar at the front of the restaurant - you can really SEE everything on the menu in live format and unlike in some lesser-quality Chinese restaurants, the seafood all looked so clean and fresh. I think they are 2 of the most important features of seafood and what you really want to avoid is anything frozen.

The menu had changed since the last time my friend was here so we deducted that there was a strong seasonal influence. Because Lure is a seafood restaurant, most of the menu items feature seafood but there is the typical steak, lamb and a few vegetarian dishes here and there too.

After much debate and indecision, we settled for 2 types of oysters as entrees. The 2 girls (myself included) chose items from the 'entree' menu as mains and the boy chose the barra.

First up was complimentary bread - there were all sorts to chose from and it so happens that we each selected a different slice.

Assorted complimentary bread, butter and olive oil

I thought my olive bread was great! The texture was soft and springy and it had a subtle olive flavor with a tanginess usual to sourdough.

The oysters came up in an impressive-looking platter on a bed of rock salt. We ordered 1/2 a dozen each of natural and rockefeller (Lure's specialty). It was (shock horror) my first time trying natural oysters and my 2 buddies literally stopped to see my reaction and followed up with concerned 'what did you think?'

Oyster with a bit of the accompanying soy sauce

I thought they'd be slippery and awful but the oysters were delish and I totally 'get' what the fuss is about and now understand why my parents hoard oysters in seafood buffets (and also, why mussels are just NOT on the same level... at all).

Oysters rockefeller - baked oysters with spinach & garlic cream and Tasmanian salmon roe

The oysters rockefeller were in a bed of creamed spinach with some roe on top. They were also really tasty but for me, the learning curve was really directed at eating the oysters plain. There's something special about them as they are, ungarnished and unmasked by other flavors.

Our mains came next - I was a bit surprised/impressed by our serving sizes. Since my girlfriend and I had both ordered entrees, the big plates caught me unawares. It turns out that they were upgraded to mains sizes and charged accordingly.

Rock lobster and cepe linguine - shredded baby spinach and crustacean sauce

The lobster linguine was cream-based and had a decent amount of lobster meat. The pasta was cooked perfectly for me but the sauce didn't speak volumes. It just seemed a bit single-dimensional. I couldn't spot spinach anywhere? All I could taste was salted cream and I got over that pretty quickly. I think a bit of lemon and chili would have done wonders but I am a bit silly about chili on seafood pasta.

Balmain bug salad - with watercress, ruby grapefruit and herbed mayonnaise

I had a taste of the bug salad and thought it was quite good. The accompanying mayonnaise was packed full of flavor and the bug meat was sweet, elastic and juicy.

Grilled barramundi fillet and soft shell crab - potato and mizuna salad, asparagus spears, apple and balsamic glaze

The grilled barramundi tasted like any other grilled fish from any restaurant to me. That's not necessarily a bad thing; perhaps I've yet to acquire a detailed appreciation for grilled fish? Whenever I order fish at a restaurant, I'm almost always disappointed. Not to say that it doesn't taste good... usually, it just tastes like grilled fish :D. The potato and mizuna salad was delicious though and soft-shell crab is a crowd favorite.

Mixed seasonal vegetables tossed with chive butter

Our side of mixed seasonal veggies was fresh and crisp but nothing like as exciting as the one I had at The Point. This is most definitely a 'side' to incorporate some greens into your meal because it has no distinct appeal on its own.

We left dessert for somewhere else but I'd also like to point out that service was lovely. Our table was the first point of service for a new waiter that was on that night and if he hadn't mentioned that to us, I wouldn't have known at all. He was still very professional but more importantly, super friendly. I'd much rather a friendly, inefficient waiter than a cold, machine-like entity even if they're spot on with timing. When we were making up our minds over what to order, this waiter came with a senior waitstaff who recited the whole menu to us and explained where every fresh ingredient came from - VERY impressive.

Live mud crabs enjoying a shower

Lure Seafood Restaurant was a good experience overall. It's always nice dining out with friends and we found the environment great for just having a chat/gossip. The quality of food was quite consistent and this seems to reflect the standard of ingredients they have on display. At first I thought the menu is a bit on the pricey side but then again, in all fairness it is seafood we're talking about here so I think it's quite reasonable. Another mention to wonderful service too.

Lure on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pho Hien Vuong

1 comment:
Pho Hien Vuong
319-341 Mains Rd, Sunnybank

Last night I made a quick pho stop in Sunnybank with a friend before spending hours, non-stop (literally) trying to beat old school Dr. Mario.

Pho Hien Vuong has a reputation of good, cheap pho (big servings too) and the other bonus is that they open till lateish every day. There's a small courtyard area outside and the inside feel is very typical of an Asian eatery.

The menu contains all your standard, typical Vietnamese fast food options. My friend ordered a chicken pho and I originally wanted the spicy beef but they were sold out so I got the prawn and pork banh canh (thick, round tapioca noodles). Most menu items having options re: size (small, medium, large).

We were feeling boring yesterday so we didn't bother with drinks/sides/appetizers etc.

Herbs and chili to go with the pho

The food comes quickly, as you'd expect and service is efficient.

Medium chicken pho noodle soup

The chicken pho was quite nice. I pointed out that I've never had chicken pho before and I got some sarcastic remark (from my friend, not a rude waiter) about how it's basically the same as beef pho but with chicken instead of beef. True but unnecessary :).

Medium pork and prawn banh canh

I like the thick noodles in banh canh - it's something I was only introduced to recently in Vietnam Corner and I think I'll be ordering more of in the future. Unfortunately, the pork slices were a bit dry for me and the prawns were too garlicky but the soup base was packed of flavor and I like how the whole dish doesn't taste oily at all.

Fun times

One of the most fun aspects of Vietnamese dining is customizing your flavor with sauce/condiment/herb additions. I threw in Thai basil and chili plus loads of chili sauce. I think the effect is kind of Christmassy?

My banh canh post-customization

Or... am I getting carried away prematurely by all the marketing that's going around?

Pho Hien Vuong on Urbanspoon