Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pork and Prawn Dumplings (Siew Mai)

On weekends we would have lunch with our grandparents and most times we would have dim sum or yum cha. A nice tradition that we still uphold till this day. Dim sum is a great way to try many things in small portions and accommodate picky eaters. However, siew mai has always been a childhood favourite of mine and the first thing we would order at a dim sum place when the steamer carts stroll by. 

Basically, siew mai is minced pork and prawn wrapped up with wanton wrappers into small flower like dumpling that you can easily pop into your mouth. Since it was my first attempt at making siew mai, I watched a few videos to find the best way to make them. I found a few that I liked and tweaked them to my liking. I was surprised at how easy it was to make these delicious little morsels. Recipe is down below! If you're having trouble folding the dumplings, I suggest youtubing it to have a feel.

P.S.: If you have extra, you could freeze them and steam them another day as a snack. But take note that it might take a little longer to cook.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Fancy Hanks BBQ

Corn Bread, Brisket, Pork Ribs
Fancy Sanga.
Fancy Hanks has been on my list of places to try for a while now. So, after doing some shopping at the Queen Victoria Market, we decided to do some grubbing. American style! With some good ol' BBQ. I love myself some BBQ.

With skylights and a spacious seating area, Fancy Hanks' location is perfect for any morning with sunlight shining down through its windows. Looking around at other diners' meals made everything on the menu look very tempting. Especially with the smell of smokey barbecue in the air! So, we decided to order almost everything on the menu. So, we had the brisket, pulled pork, pork ribs, beer can chook and the Fancy Sanga with a side of corn bread and coleslaw all served on a tray. And if you like things spicy they have a huge variety of sauces to go with your choice of meats. But do approach with caution as they can be pretty spicy! We would highly recommend their smokey BBQ sauce while chomping down on your meal too.

This might sound too good to be true, but everything was delicious and extremely juicy! The Fancy Sanga was filled with juicy slices of brisket drenched in their BBQ sauce and accompanied with some onions and cheese. Just the perfect ratio of meat to bread, I thought.

Then, we had the ribs which had a good char and was really the definition of "fall off the bone tender". As for the beer can chook, the chicken was juicy all over whether it was the drumstick or even the thigh! A rather hard to perfect as the drumstick is not as thick as the thigh. Also, the luscious chicken skin packed with a smokey flavour. Ahh, perfect.The pulled pork was equally as tasty too.

I know at this point you're probably thinking, "I'm guessing everything's good there", but we really did enjoy our meal there.  And not forgetting the brisket had a good balance of juicy meat and a thin layer of fat that made it so delectable. A slight change of flavour to our meal was the refreshing coleslaw and fresh cornbread that helped cut the bountiful amount of meat. Freshly out of a cast iron skillet, the cornbread was crispy around the edges and nicely moist in the middle. The perfect touch to our meaty meal.

While the serving style may look like scraps of food to many, the three of us were so stuffed at the end of our meal making it a little difficult walking down the stairs to exit the dining area. It was definitely worth it though! They're currently located at The Mercat, just a stones throw away from the Queen Victoria Market. It's difficult to miss the colourful drawings signaling to you that there's BBQ waiting for you upstairs.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Little Bird Told Me

 Toasted Meatball Wrap with Fontina Cheese and Tomato Salsa.
Grass-fed Rare Roast Beef with Gruyere Béchamel, Dijon Mustard, Onion Jam and Rocket.
A Little Bird Told Me is a little café with floor to ceiling glass windows hidden on the quiet street of Little Lonsdale. I have been there a few times before and they serve delicious coffee, cakes and pastries. I found their pastries and cakes are a little overpriced for what you get, but you have to treat yourself a little once in a while right? The carrot cake and pistachio brownie are some of my favourites. The carrot cake was really moist and wasn't overpowered by cream cheese frosting. As for the brownie, it's fudgey texture is generously laced with pistachios.

Recently, they introduced a brunch menu, which I was rather excited about. Sadly, I was rather disappointed. It was very limited and they had sandwiches that didn't really wow me. The meatballs in the wrap were pretty juicy but it was a little too mediocre for me compared to other cafés. The roast beef sandwich was a little too overwhelmed with mustard. At least the sandwich was toasted well and my iced mocha saved the day. Hopefully they expand their menu further! Definitely willing to give it another go. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Blackberry and Apple Crumble

I had never tried blackberries before. Maybe in candy or jams but never fresh. When I was strolling in the market and spotted some fresh blackberries with a sign that said "very sweet", I instantly knew I had to try them. So I excitedly bought 2 boxes of these beautiful delicate berries. Eager to find out how fresh blackberries tasted like, I hurried home, washed it under the tap and tasted one. Little did I know, I was in for a rude awakening. They tasted so sour, it was as if I was eating a lemon wedge! Darn that deceitful sign!

Even after my disappointment, I knew I didn't want to let these berries go to waste, so I decided on a crumble. Something that didn't take much time to make. Luckily, I had some apples lying around to give it some texture and body.

When I cooked the filling, the berries bled which dyed each piece of apple with a beautiful deep purple colour. It looked so luxurious, much like a piece of purple velvet. The crumble was buttery and nutty with the addition of the toasted almonds. I devoured it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to cut the extra tang from the blackberries. Hot crumble and cold vanilla ice cream, need I say more?

Although I had this sour experience with the blackberries, I definitely didn't regret buying them. Or else I'd never try this recipe and share it with you guys. But I'll learn from this experience and be more cautious when a sign says "very sweet".

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Operator 25

Balinese marinated pulled pork on a brioche with sweet potato wedges. 
Pressed Lamb Shoulder and Belly.
House Benedict with extra hash brown.
Veal Osso Buco.
Operator 25 is a gem hidden in a heritage building on Wills Street. When you first step in you are greeted by the friendly staff and a display of pastries. At Operator 25, the café layout is very spacious with sparse seating arrangements. In our opinion, it is rather refreshing compared to cafés which are too crowded and suffocating, as if some one is breathing down your neck, making it a little difficult to enjoy your meal.

We've been here several times and each time, the food does not disappoint. Dishes are always beautifully plated on organic looking plates and is nothing short of delicious. Another reason why I go to Operator 25 is their sweet potato wedges. They are to die for! The perfect crisp on the outside and tender sweet potato on the inside makes a trip there oh so worth it. (I'm salivating right now..) Dishes worth trying are the Pressed Lamb Shoulder and Belly or the Veal Osso Buco when available as it was a special of the day. Ah, I still recall the tenderness of the veal and even the mash potato was silky too.

Have a look at their website if you need anymore persuading!

Operator 25
Wills Street, Melbourne CBD.