Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bombay Bliss @ Milton

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Bombay Bliss @ Milton
14 Park Rd, Milton

Though it might seem that I cook and buy Indian food very often, I have felt deprived of late. We haven't tried any of the Indian restaurants in Toowoomba and whilst there has been the odd curry cooked at home, it's very different to ordering and enjoying a professionally-cooked banquet.

I was very excited about going to Bombay Bliss. Very, very excited. So much so that we arrived at Park Road more than 30min early and had to kill time in a nearby cafe.

I've been to Bombay Bliss in West End and the one in Milton seems smaller. The usual trinkets of Indian decor are easily spotted.

We ordered a vegetarian entree platter, 2 curries, 2 types of naan bread, a yogurt dip and desserts to share.

Vegetarian entree platter

The vegetarian entree platter had a nice assortment of entrees to try.

Vegetable samosa

The vegetarian samosa was great. I like samosas as a rule but these tasted, I don't know, more homemade? We joked that the aloo bonda was like potato mashies (remember those?) but much better.

Dipping sauce to accompany the entrees

We liked these entrees so much that we have vowed to order vegetarian entrees more often. Having said that, the fried paneer was bland.

Lamb korma - diced lamb cooked with ground almonds, cashews, yogurt, mixed spices, cream and herbs

We had lamb korma as one of the mains. It's something we order almost every time we get Indian. This one wasn't very creamy or sweet but it was still decent. Good but not memorable.

Gujarati palak paneer - grilled paneer cooked in spinach, tomato, onion and ground spice

We also ordered a vegetarian curry - the palak paneer. It was nice, creamy and rich with spinach and paneer. It had a lovely mild flavor that I liked.

Spinach naan

I chose spinach naan because I thought it'd be nice with the spinach curry. It was a good naan and as predicted, went well with our palak paneer.

Garlic naan

The other naan was garlic. It was similar in texture to the other but more plain, which is good for having with other curries. The garlic flavor wasn't overpowering; thank goodness because I hate garlic so strong that it lingers.

I thought the yogurt side was nice but I didn't find it necessary to accompany the curry.

Pistachio and mango kulfi

We finished with kulfi. Pistachio for me and mango for Byron. I LOVED the pistachio kulfi. It had the typical kulfi texture... sorta crumbly and dense but in a frozen solid form. The flavor was nutty and slightly savory. I thought it was a great way to end an Indian meal. The mango one was more typical in flavor for a dessert and Byron preferred it hands down.

My plate

I really liked the Milton Bombay Bliss. It was small but had a friendly atmosphere. The menu had a lot of things that I wanted to try. Service was good and fast. I loved the entrees and dessert. The mains weren't outstanding but they were definitely enjoyable. I was happy with the serving sizes too.
Bombay Bliss on Urbanspoon

Rich Chocolate Brownies

Rich Chocolate Brownies
Home Cooking

We were planning to make a lemon meringue pie for Australia Day but... I forgot. I literally forgot that it was already decided upon and spent hours trawling through online recipe sites trying to find a good dessert.

What I ended up with was a recipe from Vogue Forums. The original thread was actually about Jamie Oliver's brownies (which I've made before) but someone posted up what they thought was the best they've tried. I read it and thought it sounded promising.

This is the recipe I followed. The photos on that site are irresistible. I was so keen on reproducing their success that I followed the recipe to a T without ANY alterations (though it did involve converting US units to metric).

Rich Chocolate Brownies
Makes ~ 12 large or 24 small ones

  • 1 and 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 330g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, cut into 2cm pieces (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13-inch glass or light-colored baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.3. Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth(I just melted it straight in a non-stick sauce-pan... you can do that but you have to be careful).4. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.
5. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
6. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.8. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares and serve.Note: Store at room temperature in an airtight container or wrap with plastic wrap for up to 3 days.

I've followed many, many brownie recipes before and I have to say, these were by far the best.

Texture shot

I know people are divided in what they like in a brownie but for someone like me who likes a dense, moist and rich interior with a slightly meringue-like, cripsy exterior, these completely fit the bill.

These brownies are the extremely decadent - they simply cannot be eaten on their own. Cream, ice-cream or creme fraiche are necessary accompaniments. I liked them slightly warm out of the oven or even chilled and firm from the fridge.

Lamb Two-Ways

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Lamb Two-Ways
Home Cooking

It can be a bit tricky to define Australian food. I always thought it's more about the ingredients and quality of produce than specific dishes. Lamb was a no-brainer for us on Australia Day.

I admit to being less than accomplished in cooking meat so Mochi got the honors. She decided to get creative and try more than one flavor.

We collaborated over one creation: cinnamon and cumin. This was the end result of a discussion as to 'what does cinnamon go with?' followed by us sniffing various spice bottles in unison.

Mint and vodka

Mochi invented the other flavor on her own and lavishly named it 'Mojito lamb' because it contains mint and vodka i.e. very cocktail-inspired (yes, I do know that mojito is usually made from white rum but look, we're just trying to be cute here).

Lamb Two-Ways
Serves 3-4

  • 4 x large lamb chops
  • 60ml vodka
  • bunch of mint, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil

1. For 2 of the lamp chops, coat with vodka and mint.2. For the other 2, crust with cumin and cinnamon.3. Wrap and refrigerate both for 3-4 hours (longer if possible).
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Pan fry with some olive oil on high heat to seal, then turn to medium and cook until just pink in the middle.
6. Serve! We were using the lamb for a party so we sliced the chops up for easy eating.

As you can see there isn't much in the way of preparation. We tried to get creative with pantry contents that were at our disposal.

Vodka and mint lamb

I know the cooking procedure isn't in-depth but Mochi assures me that's what she did. Whatever she did, it was amazing - amongst the best-cooked lamb I've had in my entire life (including restaurant efforts.

Great lamb is tender, flavorsome and shared. This dish was well-received at our Australia Day party.

Smoked Salmon and Potato Salad

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Smoked Salmon and Potato Salad
Home Cooking

I like potato salads but try not to make them too often because they truly go against the idea of salads being healthy. Often, the best-tasting ones involve white potato boiled and tossed with loads of cream, sour cream and mayo.

When I saw this recipe, I couldn't resist. It doesn't have huge amounts of cream, just a few dollops of creme fraiche, which isn't too bad. More importantly, it combines the luscious idea of potato salad with one of my favorites, smoked salmon, to create an awesome food superchild.

The original recipe is by Jamie Oliver but I left out horseradish because I couldn't find any. Since that was a crucial component of his version, I can't really claim they're the same dish. I also forgot to add capers even though I had some in the house... hey, it happens when you're running around trying to make 3 things at once.

The only cooking in this recipe is to boil the potatos. Everything else is a matter of mixing and layering. Even I can do it.

Smoked Salmon and Potato Salad
Serves 3-4

  • 400g washed small potatoes, quartered
  • zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp capers, soaked and drained
  • 150ml creme fraiche
  • small bunch of fennel tops (or fresh dill), roughly chopped
  • 200g smoked salmon

1. Cook the potatoes by boiling for 15-20min in salted water. Remember you don't want overcooked, mushy potatoes because this is a potato salad.
2. Combine 1/2 the lemon juice with the zest and red wine vinegar. Add 3 x as much olive oil as there was vinegar.
3. Add the capers to the dressing and season with salt and pepper. Pour this over the warm potatoes. Sprinkle most of the fennel over the top, toss again and set aside.4. Combine the rest of the lemon juice with the creme fraiche.
5. To serve, layer the salmon on a plate.6. Spoon over the potatoes and dollop with the creme fraiche.
7. Finish with a sprinkle of fresh dill.

This makes for a simple yet sophisticated side or starter. I don't know many people who don't like or eat smoked salmon and even less who would say no to potato salad. The potatoes themselves are flavored with the lemon dressing and taste wonderfully fresh.

Creme fraiche and fennel go perfectly with the salmon. I would've liked to add horseradish because I think that is a good compliment too. I forgot to add my capers but it still turned out OK.

I recommend you give this recipe a go for your next dinner party. It gives great value for taste with hardly any effort required.

Vietnamese Chicken and Mint Salad

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Vietnamese Chicken and Mint Salad
Home Cooking

It's rare for me to repeat a recipe, even one that's good, because I'm constantly needing new material for this blog. I've made Nigella Lawson's Vietnamese chicken salad before but on that occasion, it was devoured before I got any good photos.

I needed to come up with some salads for Australia Day and I remembered that this one works. It's easy to do and it's light and fresh for Summer but with a bit of a kick (Vietnamese cuisine = chili).

The ingredients are extremely easy to obtain. Forget roasting your own chicken (unless you reaaaaally want to); I bought a roast chook from Coles and it was fine.

The quantities aren't that critical either. I sorta just threw together what I had based on instinct and ended up with too little dressing. No problemo - I just made up some more.

Vietnamese Chicken and Mint Salad
Serves 4-6 as a side

  • 1/2 a head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 barbeque chicken, meat removed from bone and shredded
  • 1 bunch of mint, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
For the dressing
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 small red chilies, sliced

1. Make the dressing by mixing everything together.2. I like to soak the onion slices in the dressing until I need it.
3. When you're ready to serve, toss together the cabbage, carrot, chicken and mint.
4. Pour the dressing over the top and toss to coat evenly. Serve!

I think this is a fabulous salad. It's light and simple enough to be a side or, if you have enough chicken, substantial enough to be a main. There's a coleslaw element to it (I think it's the cabbage and carrot) but the dressing is sweet and tangy, rather than creamy.

If you are new to Asian flavors, you might want to reduce the amount of fresh chili but I personally think the dressing is mild enough to suit everyone.

Chillin' out on Australia Day

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I've heard some people speculate that with Mochi and I living in the same house, we'd be eating gourmet feasts every night.

I suppose that springs from the fact that we're both foodies and have a library's worth of cookbooks between us.

All stocked up

Truth is, we're also lazy. Lunch for us is usually a sandwich. If I'm feeling posh I'll microwave frozen leftovers. The usual dinner for her is salad and for me, it'll be something rediculous like chocolate and a piece of toast or 3 muesli bars.

That's not to say we don't love cooking. It's just that everyday life leaves us tired and too CBF to do anything fancy.

When there's an excuse to pull some dishes out and try recipes from our 'gotta make this' lists, we'll have a ball getting it all together. Australia Day was a perfect time to let the normally-restrained cooking bug come out and live it up.

Seafood lunch

We spent the morning food-prepping, had a lunch of fresh prawns and fried calamari and started cooking/eating in the afternoon. From about 3pm onwards, we spent a good 4 hours or so just grazing on the produce.

Due to my terrible organization skills, I wasn't sure how many guests we'd be having but we agreed amongst ourselves that even if it was just the 2 of us, we'd still go all out.

That wasn't the case in the end (thankfully) and it was great because as much fun as it is to make and eat your own food, it's about 10000000000000 x better sharing with friends.

Thanks to all our lovely friends for coming (some all the way from Brissie) and their contributions of spirited debate, odd topics and interesting annectodes that may or may not be true. This is the stuff that good memories are made of.

To our friends on Australia Day... CHEERS!

Beer bottle cap in a finished glass of Kahlua and milk

Our Australia Day menu:

Starters -
Mains -
Dessert -

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lok Fok

Lok Fok
19A, Sunny Park Shopping Centre, 342 McCullough St, Sunnybank

I always get excited about new eateries opening at Sunnybank. The selection of Asian food in Sunnybank is nothing to be sneezed at but it doesn't hurt to have more. Most of my 'usual spots' are collectively located in Market Square. When Lok Fok opened (months ago now), I was keen to try it but I'm rarely at Sunny Park plaza so it wasn't easy.

Finally, the other day, I asked mum and dad to choose a new restaurant for us to have dinner at. Dad suggested Lok Fok and so finally, after months of speculation and nearly going in but changing my mind at the last minute, we made the plunge.

The restaurant is small with two entrances. The menu is very much like Little Singapore mixed with Little Hong Kong. No, seriously... I'm not even exaggerating. It was total deja vu. Fried noodles, rice dishes, BBQ meat dishes, Hainanese chicken. You get the idea.

We tried to get as much variety as possible. I chose a congee. Mum went for fried noodles and dad got soup noodles. We also tried 1/2 a roast duck.

Beef brisket soup noodles

Food arrived with extreme speed. Dad's beef brisket soup noodles came out first. The soup was nice - fresh with a rich beef flavor and subtle lettucey zing. There were quite a few pieces of beef brisket which was tender, as it should be. I don't like those thin noodles much but dad likes it.

Shanghai-style fried noodles

Mum had chosen a 'Shanghainese' style fried noodle which uses thick noodles (imagine a yellow, eggy version of udon) stir-fried with veggies and meat. I liked this one very much because it was full of flavor and full of stuff.

Crab and chicken congee

I ordered crab and chicken congee because it sounded like a great combination. Unfortunately, they use seafood sticks rather than real crab and the congee itself was way too fine. Fine and broken down congee is all well and good but this was like... as though they had powdered rice and added water. Too lacking in texture. It didn't have much flavor either.

Roast duck

The roast duck on the other hand looked and tasted great. It was plump duck with a lot of meat to offer. The skin looked promising and when we tasted it, it delivered on crunch without being too oily. The flavor had been successfully marinated into the duck too so the flesh wasn't bland. We were wondering if they roasted the ducks on the premise and I spotted some raw, whole ducks hanging on hooks in the kitchen so I suppose they do!

Lok Fok is a nice addition to the other Sunnybank eateries but it doesn't offer much in the way of uniqueness. Food is overall pretty good and cheap and it's served quickly (always a bonus). Having said that, most Sunnybank eateries meet those requirements so I'm not sure if it's worth bypassing Market Square.
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