Friday, November 21, 2008

Making Chestnut and mushroom risotto

I go through phases and my current craze is making risotto. I remember seeing Isabelle post a risotto recipe using chestnut and mushroom which sounded yummy so I made up my own version.It didn't disappoint.


1.5 cups of arborio rice
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
1/2 onion diced
3 cloves garlic crushed
6-8 mushrooms sliced
a small bunch of enoki mushrooms
1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese shave - keep some for serving.
8 chestnuts boiled & peeled
continental parsley - leaves only chopped.

I've tried this recipe with shitaki mushroom but found the usual ones had better flavour. You may also want to throw in some oyster mushroom for a different texture.


Heat oil in a large saucepan.
Add onion and garlic lightly fry for 2 minutes.

Add rice, stirring quickly to coat grains.

Stir in wine and about ½ - 1 cup stock and cook until liquid is absorbed.

Continue to add 1 cup of stock and stir, until liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding stock and stirring.

Once half the stock has been added, add the mushrooms & chestnuts. Continue adding stock and stir until rice is cooked.

When you are almost ready to serve stir through the pecorino romano cheese (the cheese really gives the extra flavour).

Once risotto is cooked serve on dish - add parsley, shaved cheese, and freshly ground pepper.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Viv's farewell lunch @ Cafe Sopra

It's been a while since I have blogged about the various places I've been to, but after being introduced to this hidden gem I felt a little inspired. Cafe Sopra is located above the Fratelli Fresh organic markets in Waterloo. It's very popular with locals but isn't easy to get to unless you drive.

You could easily walk past and into this market without ever realising that there is a popular cafe located on the levels above. To give you an idea of how hard it is to find Vivien had to call to give me directions, the conversation went something like this "Once you see the sign for Fratelli Fresh walk into the markets to the very end, turn left go up 2 flights of stairs , past the cooking school then walk through another floor with pasta and biscuits and the cafe is at the very end!". It took us a while but we finally found it!

Basically Fratelli Fresh is a fresh food market and every thing cooked at this cafe is bought from the store below. On a side note they also offer free cooking classes (which I will come for one day when I have annual leave).

The menu is located on a big blackboard and changes depending on what produce is in season. Prices range from $10 through to $42 with desserts around $12 each. Don't expect to be able to order a coke or lemon lime bitters here, instead choose from a selection of Italian mineral water and soft drink as well as fresh granita in mango, lemon or orange. If there is a bit of a wait then have a drink at the wine bar as their selection is extensive!

The Entrees

I'm not sure how these chips are different to any other chips but they were really flavoursome and crunchy with just a sprinkle of sea salt.

Pumpkin pastries on a fresh beetroot salad.

Buffalo mozzarella with organic fresh tomatoes.
The tomatoes you buy from the supermarket these days just has no flavour, having tasted organic tomatoes on a few occasions now I think it's really worth paying the money to buy better quality fresh produce.

A warm chat potato and oyster mushroom salad
Such an interesting and basic concept but so delicious, it makes eating salads so much more interesting.

The Mains

Risotto Primavera, (I've no idea what the other one is)

Meatballs with fettuccine

I've also no idea what this was but it was something with squid (you can tell It's been a while since I've food blogged).

Have an awesome trip to Beijing Vivien!! See you in 5 months and I expect you to come back being able to speak more Chinese!

We were having fun with Tammy's polaroid camera (that wasn't actually a polaroid),so here is a group shot of everyone. I had to rush off to get ready for Ming's wedding so we missed out on dessert. However I'm definitely coming back to try their amazing looking desserts. Great recommendation Viv!

Cafe Sopra (Located above Fratelli Fresh)
Open Tuesday to Friday from 10am till 3pm and on Saturdays from 8am till 3pm.
7 Danks Street, Waterloo
Phone: 1300 552 119

According to the website there's also a Fratelli Fresh located in Potts Point.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wedding Providers

I think I’m at the age now where everyone is getting married, so recently I’ve had a lot of people ask me for recommendations for providers that I used for my own wedding. So if you are getting married or know some one that is getting married you might find this helpful. It’s also proof that you CAN throw together a wedding in 2 months like we did.

We had a few dramas with getting the cake as our wedding was on Easter Sunday which is also a public holiday. To be honest our cake wasn’t exactly what we had in mind but seeing that we ordered the cake the week of the wedding it did just fine. Our cake was from Sweet Fantasy Cakes in Bankstown: they have a good website and an awesome showroom. The best thing is they open till 7pm on a weekday which is great for people with work commitments. If you do visit I highly recommend trying out their chocolate ├ęclairs – Yum!

Cufflinks - if you are looking to have matching cufflinks this site has heaps to pick from and are very reasonably priced, leave plenty of time for mailing. My first lot was lost in transition but they sent out some new ones for free which we gave to the groomsmen as gifts after the wedding.

My gown is by Maggie Sottero purchased from Abbey Bridal in the Dymocks building next to Myer on George Street. You can also view her gowns at for dress ideas. My tips for dress shopping are:

• Prior to visiting the store print out some photos of dresses that you like. Make sure that you pick a few different styles as the dresses can look quite different to what you imagine once you have the dress on. Show this to the shop assistant and she will find dresses to match what you are looking for. Don’t go in with no idea at all as you end up wasting your time.
• Once you have made a booking and you are at the store make sure you wear good underwear. When dress fitting you pretty much strip right down with the shop assistant in your change room (no room for modesty there!) they are also very picky about how you get the gown on and off so that you don’t soil their dresses.
• Be honest about your budget so that you don’t fall in love with something that you can’t afford.
• Keep in mind that in addition to the cost of the gown you will pay anywhere from $250-$500 extra for alterations.
• Finally check the sale racks you never know what you might find.

Dresses – Bridesmaids
I have had a few people ask me about these but my green cake cutting dress, ties and bridesmaid dresses were all made by my parents. We shopped for material all over the place but a good place to start would be Cabramatta.

Depending on the time of the year that you get married you may be restricted on the types of flowers that you can have. I had a few bad experiences with a few florists where once I mentioned the word ‘wedding’ the price of everything doubled! Just when I was getting a little disheartened I made a visit to Primrose Florist (who did the flowers for Christina’s wedding).

The shop is nothing fancy but Mimi and Ben who run the business are friendly and helpful. They have an album of flower arrangements and are happy to talk through your ideas and budget. We were extremely happy with the result and found the prices to be very reasonable. Their website is:

Make up/ Hair
I found out about Martha Mok through my Mum who is friends with her mother. Through my own research I discovered that Martha is very well known in the Asian community winning various awards and doing the make up of everyone I know.

I don’t wear much make up day to day so I was always nervous about my make up on my big day. For me the most important thing was that my make up artist knew how to do make up on Asian features (I’ve had some terrible experiences previously). Asian eyes are different and you just can’t use the usual techniques for western features.

Martha provides a unique service where she does hair and make up (she may bring an assistant in the morning) and follows you around all day and all night until after the cake cutting. She does touch ups through out the day (which was handy when I started crying during the ceremony!) and is just there to help out with all the bits here and there: As I wore 3 dresses through out the day Martha changed my hair and make up 3 times with lightening speed.

I recommend having a make up trial so that you can agree on colours and for your own piece of mind.

Music if your venue doesn't include music as a package then for $350 these guys were a bargain for 5hrs! You select your own songs from a list and they bring all their own equipment and provide a microphone. It saves you the stress of preparing a playlist etc on your wedding day where you'll be very busy. I booked these guys the week of the wedding and was very happy with their service.

Photography is expensive but well worth it because after everything is over you can look back on the photos to remember the day. Photography is very personal as you need to pick a style and photographers that you are comfortable with. Be sure to meet with them first and confirm everything from costs, number of photographers, cost of extra prints etc. Our photographers were: who did the day shoot and part of the reception (up until cake cutting). - who did the photos from cake cutting onwards (they were also our guests so we didn’t want them working!).

You can view the slideshow of the wedding here

Suit Hire - We looked at a few hire places for suits but some were really old looking and didn't fit well, we settled on Spurling in Miranda where we found the service was really good.

That's all I can think of for now, hope this helps!



Sunday, July 13, 2008

Making chocolate truffles

I own many many cook books, I've decided that It's about time that I start to use them.

It's my friend's birthday tomorrow and she's the biggest chocoholic I know so I thought that I'd make something from 'The Book of Chocolate' for her.
I decided on chocolate truffles.
You can put anything in the filling really, heat some sultanas in some rum and you can do rum and raisin ones. I wasn't sure what the others liked so to be safe I chose to do:

1) almond & marshmallow
2) plain almond ones
There's many recipes for the filling of chocolate truffles out there, some requiring egg and more complicated cooking methods - me I'm lazy, so I found the easiest recipe to try.

Melt 400g of good dark cooking chocolate + half a cup of thickened cream in a bowl over boiling water.

Once melted combine your filling.
Pictured is the chopped almonds, mix well then set aside to cool down.
Place in fridge and refrigerate for 2 hours until the filling is firm.
2hrs later....
Put on a pair of gloves and roll filling into bite sized balls, then place in freezer for 15 minutes.

The next part gets a bit messy so no photos between this stage and the final product. From here you can:
1) dip balls in milk/dark chocolate (then add a swirl of white later on)
2) press them into crushed almonds
3) decorate with milk chocolate swirls
4) press into coconut
5) Dust with icing sugar & coco powder
The options are endless.

The final product...
Can be messy to make but very fun.
On a random note I also made cupcakes today after seeing Helen's post.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Making Sticky date pudding

To start chop 250g pitted dates then place into a bowl, add 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and pour 1 cup of boiling hot water over the top.

Set aside for 20mins.

You will also need:

90g butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups Self-Raising Flour, sifted

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy.

Add eggs, 1 at a time and beat well after each egg.
Fold through flour and add the date mixture.

Mix together with a big spoon or spatula.

Pour mixture into a greased cake tin and place into a preheated oven baking for 30-40 mins at 170 degrees Celsius.
Butterscotch Sauce

Melt 1 cup of brown sugar and 50g of butter. From my experience if you let the sugar caramelize a little you will get a much better flavour.

Pour in a tub of 300ml thickened cream (or double cream).

Whisk together until combined.

Let the sauce boil (and bubble) until it thickens a little. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside to cool down.

When ready take the cake out of the oven.

Leave it on a cake rack to cool down.

Serve with a scoop of ice cream and top with the butterscotch sauce.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Making Osso Bucco

I've had a recipe ripped out from a magazine sitting on my desk for ages. It wasn't till I saw Joel's post about making osso bucco that I felt inspired to give it a go myself.

Step 1. Brown 3 pieces of veal osso bucco and set aside when ready.

In another pot (preferably a heavy one) soften some vegetables with a slosh of oil and a pinch of salt. I used onion, tomato and celery. I meant to add carrots but didn't realise that I had ate them all during the week.

Place veal into pot adding a can of tomatoes, prawns (optional) and a cup of white wine. Season and add enough water to cover the meat. From here you have two options:

1. Bring to boil then turn down heat and simmer for 2.5 hrs (until meat is tender and falling off the bone).

2. If your pot allows, place the lid on and put the whole pot in the oven to slow cook for 3 hrs.

(Not the best photos because you can't see the meat!) But when ready, serve on a bed of rice (or mash) sprinkle a bit of parsley to garnish and enjoy! In my case with a glass of white (Oyster Bay).

Thanks Joel for the inspiration, it is great comfort food indeed.

Making Takoyaki

boiled octopus (cut into bite-size pieces)
shallot (chopped)
prawns (boiled, peeled and chopped)
batter (dashi soup, flour, eggs)

Heat pan, when hot add oil followed by a layer of batter. Proceed to place prawns, shallot and octopus into each slot when done add a layer of batter to cover.

This part is hard to it cooks start to fold the the excess batter into a ball shape.

Work quickly!

Then flip the balls to ensure both sides are cooked evenly

Remove from pan

Top with Japanese Mayo, takoyaki sauce and bonito flakes (I forgot to buy seaweed)

Ta-da! It tasted awesome!

Finish with a glass of Japanese Plum wine and you'll be in heaven!