Monday, March 30, 2015

Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Stuffed Cookies

cheesecake stuffed cookies

Just a quick post from me today, sneaking in with an Easter inspired recipe before it's too late. This is the time of year for OTT chocolate creations, speckled eggs and hot cross buns doughnuts, all of which I have in the archives. So this year I decided to keep it a little more simple - but no less decadent! This recipe is perfect for beginner bakers or to make with the kidlets because it doesn't require any special equipment and comes together really quickly and easily.

cheesecake stuffed cookies

These cookies are inspired by and based on these ones, which I've made so many times since the original post that I've almost memorised the recipe. My friends request them all the time. They are truly a crowd pleaser, filled with everyone's favourites - nutella and salted caramel. This time I decided to mix it up and try a creamy cheesecake filling baked right into the cookie. 

cheesecake stuffed cookies

I flavoured mine with smashed Oreos for a double whammy 'cookies and cream' stuffed cookie, but you could use whatever flavour strikes your fancy. Anything that goes well with chocolate will work here - passionfruit, coconut, peanut butter, or even your favourite chocolate bar smashed up will make great fillings for your cookie too!

cheesecake stuffed cookies

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Simple Dinners 12 / Roast Tomato Penne alla Vodka

roasted tomato penne alla vodka

My current obsession is slow roasted tomatoes. For the last few weeks, after spending Saturday morning at the farmers market, my housemate and I take our beautiful ripe tomatoes and give them a scattering of Moroccan spices and a good glug of olive oil. Then turn the oven down low and roast them slowly for a couple of hours, while we nap. Just kidding, I'm usually working! You know they're ready when the whole house starts to smell amazing. We love eating them with mozzarella, fresh basil from the garden and crusty bread. The concept gave me an idea for a new twist on a classic pasta dish.

roasted tomato penne alla vodka

Is there an easier weeknight meal than pasta? I don't think so. It's comforting, simple, endlessly adaptable, and also one of the most affordable dinners to cook. Definitely my go to on busy days... and sometimes on lazy days too. Penne alla vodka is a classic Italian-American dish that has long intrigued me but I had never tried it before. I thought it would be great with my delicious roasted tomatoes as the base, rather than tomatoes from a can.

roasted tomato penne alla vodka

I love this dish because it's a pure celebration of the tomato. You can definitely cook the tomatoes in advance. I love having a tray of them in the fridge, smashed on toast for a snack. Once the tomatoes are roasted, the dish comes together really quickly. I kept it quite light on the cream and instead put a generous dollop of buffalo mozzarella on top to serve.

Definitely a great dish to have in the repertoire for a nice simple dinner. The vodka wasn't a very strong taste, but added a layer of complexity. I liked the hint of spice from the chilli. Some recipes also included some bacon or sausage, which I think would be great too!

roasted tomato penne alla vodka

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pandan Pancakes

pandan pancakes

I'll always be thankful to Steph and Karen for introducing me to Malaysian food. I don't have the fond childhood memories of homemade Malaysian food growing up that they do, but I crave it in the same way I do my Mum's bolognese sauce. It's comfort food - everything from drinks to curries, to noodles and sweets. And after all these years, it's still our favourite way to catch up - over mugs of teh tarik and plates of hokkien mer or char kway teow.

pandan pancakes

While I made these pancakes a couple of weeks ago, life got in the way of me actually sitting down to write about them. But I think things happen for a reason, and maybe it's a weird coincidence that a few days ago I saw some uber cheap flights and within a few minutes had booked a much-needed holiday to Malaysia. It's not until later in the year, but it's so nice to have a holiday to look forward! I can't wait to get back to Penang and eat all my favourite things again!!

I've cooked with pandan a couple of times before and always loved the crazy vibrant green colour. The Tres Leches cake is still one of my favourite cakes ever. Pandan has a delicate floral taste that goes really well with coconut, and works in all manner or baked goods, ice creams and other desserts. If you haven't tried it, I'd really urge you to track it down at your local Asian supermarket and give it a go!

pandan pancakes

These pandan pancakes have been in the back of my mind for years now. Pandan waffles are a favourite every time I go to Cabramatta, and I thought the flavour would also work really well in a pancake. Instead of maple syrup, I doused them in gula melaka, a palm sugar syrup and piled berries and coconut chips high on top.

The recipe is super easy - just a small adaptation of my favourite pancakes that I make all the time. But here's a quick tip - to maintain that green colour, cook them more slowly and without butter in the pan so they don't start to turn brown as they cook. Try it with the kids, they will love the novelty of neon green pancakes!

pandan pancakes

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thursday Tipples 07 / Passionfruit and Kaffir Lime Lemonade

passionfruit kaffir lime lemonade

Happy Thursday, friends! I've been to the beach more times in the last 2 weeks than I have during the whole summer. I was very serious when I said I aimed to get in a few more beach trips before the autumn weather sets in for good. I'm very lucky to have some beautiful beaches just a few minutes walk from home, and a freelancer's schedule that sometimes allows a spontaneous afternoon beach adventure!

Work has been busy lately - which is super awesome - but I find that my creativity suffers on those days that I don't get out of the office for some fresh air. No two days are ever the same, but when I can get a walk or a beach trip into my day, I definitely feel so much better for it.

passionfruit kaffir lime lemonade

After walking back up the hill after a swim, I get home feeling super hungry and thirsty. This Thursday Tipple is inspired by the end of summer and some of my favourite ingredients at the moment. My housemate and I always have lemons in the house, always. We recently bought a kaffir lime tree...and called him Lenny. Tell me I'm not the only one who names their plants?! I found some absolutely beautiful passionfruits at the Bondi farmers markets on Saturday morning. And of course, who doesn't love vodka and rum ;) I just knew all of these great flavours would work really well together in a drink.

passionfruit kaffir lime lemonade

I made a simple syrup infused with our home grown kaffir lime leaves, and added it to a boozy lemonade spiked with vodka and spiced rum. It's a really pretty drink and I love the look of the passionfruit seeds, mint and kaffir lime leaves. It's got a kick, but it's refreshing and super easy to make for a crowd in a pitcher or punch bowl. You can play around with the ratios of the different ingredients, adding a little more of the kaffir lime syrup for sweetness, because with the lemon and passionfruit, it can be a little tart. Experiment and find the combination that makes you happy!

passionfruit kaffir lime lemonade

Friday, February 27, 2015

February Bites

february bites… farmers market haul

It's hard to believe that we are now two months deep into 2015. February has been all about work, but with some fun times too - catching up with friends, movie nights and little adventures. Summer may be over, but I'm keeping it alive as long as the weather will co-operate with a few more beach trips and eating lots more summer produce.

One of my favourite things to do on the weekend is visit farmers markets, whether I'm in Sydney or travelling. A few Saturdays ago we wandered down to the Bondi markets and picked up a great haul of fresh fruit and veggies. The tiny strawberries were super sweet. That eggplant was turned into a moussaka. We roasted those tomatoes slowly and then put the torn up buffalo mozzarella and basil on at the last minute so it would get a little melty. Served with fresh crusty bread, it was the perfect summer dinner.

february bites… raclette toastie

And no market trip is complete without a little naughty snack. This raclette toastie from Raclette Plus was incredibly good, and they are the nicest guys too.

february bites… milk bar lollies

My friend introduced me to this amazing old school milk bar out west, and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. The burger, potato scallops and chips were just how I remember from childhood. The prices were still stuck in the 90s and there was a huge assortment of lolly bags for only $1. I really wish more of these kind of places still existed today.

february bites… marys

Speaking of amazing burgers, I finally tried Mary's in Newtown when one of my best mates visited from Brisbane earlier in February. This is as close to a perfect burger that I've ever tried in Sydney, but the fried chicken was even better. Come back soon Scotty!

february bites… bondi harvest

I'm sure other freelancers would relate to this - some days you just need to change up your surroundings and get out of the office. One random Monday, I went to check out Bondi Harvest in Bondi Junction and was really impressed with the decor, food… and free wifi :) Looking forward to heading back for breakfast sometime soon.

february bites… favourite breakfast

My favourite snack this month was this delicious creamy yoghurt made locally in Bondi (bought from the markets) with granola or fruit, or both! I've tried it with berries, banana, thinly sliced nectarine, and a little drizzle of honey. 

february bites… vietnamese

To round out the month, I caught up with Steph and Karen for some much needed girl talk and Vietnamese food. I was talking about this spicy soup for days afterwards to any one who would listen. Mmm.

Inspiring Reads
  • No matter if you're single or in a relationship, it is always important to know how to be happy alone. I really related to this article from Designlovefest, and even though I've been happily single for a while now, I think getting to know YOU and being happy in your own company is a process that takes time.
  • A nice little reminder from Cocorrina that We Don't Have to Do it All. As freelancers, it's easy to become a little control monster, but it is exhausting. Time to let some things go, to make more time for other things that I really love. 
  • Karen made some insanely good looking Chocolate Biscotti.
  • I love The Bojon Gourmet's spicy take on the Moscow Mule, the Mumbai Mule that adds coriander, cumin and saffron and looks crazy good.
  • Need a bit of pep for the work week ahead? Here are 50 Motivating Quotes for Business and Blogging by Elle & Company. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lychee, Gin & Raspberry Ice Blocks

lychee gin ice blocks

Sometimes I get an idea stuck in my head, and it loops on repeat like a catchy song. I’ve had a half-baked idea floating around my brain for over a week now. A combination of flavours that I knew was a winner, but I wasn't sure what to do with them. While a cake or pie is usually my default option, this time I decided to make ice blocks instead. A pretty, boozy concoction that is perfect for the last week of summer. And in those other rare quiet brain moments... shake it off shake it off.

lychee gin ice blocks

The flavours of lychee, raspberry and rose were inspired of course by Pierre Hermé and the famous Ispahan dessert, which is a modern classic. I had experimented with them once before in this fruit salad, which turned out both gorgeous and delicious. I thought that gin would be the perfect accompaniment this time. I used Hendricks, which is my favourite because in addition to the usual gin botanicals, it has also been infused with rose petals and cucumber.

lychee gin ice blocks

These ice blocks were just perfect. I've been on a bit of a nostalgia kick lately, which may have something to do with eating a few childhood favourite treats like red frog lollies and Crunch chocolate. It's nice to modernise an old favourite with a grown up twist. I loved all of the flavours together. Of course if you are making it for the kiddies, just leave out the booze.

I've been eating fresh berries almost every day this summer, and the raspberries and strawberries have been especially good this year. I feel like summer has flown by yet again, but hopefully the warm weather returns for a little longer for another month (or maybe two!) of beach weather and summer fruit.

lychee gin ice blocks

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Butler, Potts Point

the butler, potts point

It's been a long time since I reviewed a restaurant. A really long time. I don't find myself trying as many new places these days, and when I do, I don't take my camera with me! But there's always an exception and this was a place I was excited to try, and have been excited to tell you about all week! The Butler made me wish I still worked in Potts Point.

It has only been open for about 2 months, situated in the space where Mezzaluna sat for 20 years. It seems to have found its feet quickly and got quite busy with a mixed clientele of people on dates, girls celebrating and the after work drinks crowd. One of the best things about summer is that you can have a leisurely dinner and still get great shots all in natural light. Especially when you are seated on one of the most beautiful terraces in Sydney. Just look at that view!

the butler, potts point

I love The Butler's decor, branding and great menu design. With a French-Caribbean vibe, there are tiny pineapples growing in pots, wicker chairs galore and palms on the wallpaper. I liked that the venue feels spacious and airy even when the place is busy, and I feel like you could have very different experiences depending on whether you sit on the terrace, at the bar or in the main dining room.

the butler, potts point

I had a little tipple to start, the Colonial Cobbler with Pineapple and Blueberry infused Bulleit bourbon, Lillet, lime, bitters, sugar and fresh mint. This kind of drink is perfect for a venue like this, modernising a cocktail that dates back to the 1830's with fresh fruit and the French aperitif Lillet. It was refreshing but more-ish at the same time, which is the perfect combination!

the butler, potts point

The menu has a great mix of dishes, from bar snacks to substantial shared mains like a slow roasted lamb shoulder. My housemate ordered a couple of oysters, which come from Merimbula ($4 each) on the Sapphire coast of NSW, and couldn't stop raving about how perfect and fresh they were. They were served simply with a squeeze of lemon and a mini bottle of Tabasco, but that's all you need when the oysters are this good.

the butler, potts point

The service is also excellent, with friendly chatty waitresses who offer some great recommendations. If we were feeling braver we would have tried the Lambs Brains, but based on the high standard of food we experienced I'm sure they would be done really well. Next time for sure. This time we tried the Beef and Spiced Pork sliders with creole mayo ($6 each). I thought they were a little bit under-seasoned, but were a good little bar snack.

the butler, potts point

The main reason I wanted to try the Lyonnaise Pork sausage rolls was the rum and pineapple relish ($12), which was really great. I liked the super flaky pastry and flavoursome pork filling. This was another clever French-Caribbean-Modern Australian fusion.

the butler, potts point

This was the standout dish by far - Tabasco prawns with mango salsa and coconut quinoa ($22). We just loved how fresh, summery and perfectly balanced it was with the sweet mango and hint of heat from the Tabasco and a lovely sauce that I'm sure was enriched with lots of butter. The prawns were plump, sweet and perfectly cooked. We tried to deconstruct it all the way home so we could attempt to replicate it.

the butler, potts point

We needed some vegetables along with all of this other deliciousness so we picked the Peas with Speck and Onion ($10). I loved the way it was served in a cute little jar, and it went well with the other dishes we picked, especially the sausage rolls. There's just something about peas and pastry together that always works so well.

the butler, potts point

We almost didn't order dessert, but my food blogger dessert stomach kicked in and we decided to try the Peach Melba. This was a brand new addition to the menu that day, and maybe even the first one that had ever left the kitchen! I loved every single part of it, especially when you tasted all of the elements together and got all the different flavours and textures in one bite. The peach was poached and had a raspberry sauce spooned on top with fresh raspberries hiding inside it too. I'm not entirely sure what was in the jelly, but I spotted hundreds of little vanilla bean seeds. My favourite part was the thyme that added a great hit of flavour. I'm a pretty big dessert snob, but this won me over on so many levels!

The Butler on Urbanspoon

The Butler, 123 Victoria St Potts Point, NSW 2011

Monday, February 2, 2015

Coconut Cheesecake with Mango and Basil Caramel

coconut cheesecake

You can’t be sad while eating a mango. Same rule applies to anything with sprinkles on top. Trust me, it’s true. But there aren’t many mango recipes on my blog, which is strange as they’re right up there with my favourite fruits... or maybe it's not that strange, because they usually don't last very long in my fruit bowl.

coconut cheesecake

In this recipe, mango teams up with some of its best friends: coconut and lime in a creamy cheesecake. There’s a palm sugar caramel on top, as well as loads of fresh mango, and a little twist from a slightly unexpected ingredient, basil. If you’re a mango fan like me, you should definitely try it before the end of the season.

coconut cheesecake

Back to the basil for a quick second. I have always liked pairing fruit and herbs together and there are a lot of combinations that work really well, like watermelon and mint or pear and rosemary. I knew mango went with other herbs like coriander and mint, and even kaffir lime leaves, so the thought of putting it together with basil wasn’t quite as strange as you might think at first.

The basil flavour in the caramel was a bit subtle and next time I would use about double the amount of basil to infuse the cream, but I really loved it when you got a taste of all the elements of the dessert together - the base, cheesecake filling, fresh mango, caramel and the basil leaves on top.

coconut cheesecake

Friday, January 30, 2015

January Bites

january bites… the butler

I can’t believe that January is nearly over already. This year has truly started with a bang and I’m feeling very inspired. And very busy! There’s some new branding and website projects in the works. I’ve been doing a lot of photo shoots and some travel plans are starting to shape up, which is so exciting since it feels like I haven’t had a holiday in a really long time.

I’m also starting a new monthly column called Bites to share some of my favourite things that happened during the month just gone, whether it be photos snapped on Instagram, adventures, amazing things I’ve eaten, books or blog posts I’ve read or just other stuff that is inspirational. So here is what has been going on…

january bites… daring & disruptive

I absolutely loved reading Daring and Disruptive by Lisa Messenger, all-round inspiring lady. When I finished this book, I flipped right back to the start to read it again.

january bites… shuk

As a freelancer, I work alone most days so it's awesome when I get to work with Naomi from her office in Bondi. Even better when she takes me out for lunch. This almond and cinnamon pancake with halvah, berries and crushed pistachios from Shuk was seriously delicious.

january bites… bd woof!

And we were joined by the adorable BD Woof. She even has her own Instagram!

january bites… sunset swims

It is highly motivating to tell myself that I can go to the beach when I finish all my work.

january bites… cuckoo cal lay

My sister and I had an epic brunch at Cuckoo Callay in Newtown, a cute little spot just outside the train station. We had the 'Beret Stars and Stripes' with Brioche French toast, maple bacon, peanut caramel, whipped ricotta and maple syrup and in the back you can see the epic chips. They were like half a potato in each chip! We could only eat about three each.

january bites… delivery hero

I was one of the winners of Delivery Hero's Not Just Another Food Blogger competition and they interviewed me on their blog late last year. Then I got a lovely surprise prize and thoughtful note in the mail. Thanks guys! 

january bites… angry pirate

I took photos of some cocktails at The Angry Pirate in Redfern. A few were on fire.


My kitty cat Tagine is as crazy as ever. She makes me laugh every single day, but I can't imagine life without her #catlady

Inspiring Reads


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