Thursday, 27 February 2014

ganache chocolate, south yarra & melbourne cbd

Ganache Chocolate is one of those places that I've known for years, and just never wrote about on this blog because I kind of take it for granted.

It is the place I go to when I need an awesome cake to bring to a party. My favourite is the Hazelnut Fan - layered with milk chocolate mousse, hazelnut sponge and hazelnut praline. If you like chocolate-hazelnut combos like Nutella or Ferrero Rocher, you'll love this cake. It is just utterly delicious with the smooth and crunchy layers, the nutty cocoa flavours. You can get single slices too, but a whole cake is better value, so when there are special occasions I leap at the opportunity to purchase one. I've gotten it from the original South Yarra store (250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra) and also the Melbourne CBD branch (245 Collins St, Melbourne) - both were of the same fabulous quality.

Hazelnut fan cake from Ganache Chocolate (starts from $33 for a small cake to feed several people).

It is also the place I go to when my friends are in the neighbourhood and we're just looking for a place to chill out. My most recent order was a Chocolate Frappe from their specialty summer drinks menu, a blended icy drink with gelato and ganache. It had the ideal balance for me - authentically chocolatey, without being too rich and heavy, and not too sweet. Just right.

Chocolate frappe ($6.90).

Ganache Chocolate also has a simple selection of savoury dishes on their menu, with items like croque monsieur, quiches, and sandwich bread rolls, which look attractive and reasonably priced. Due to the main attraction that is their chocolatey goods, I've never gotten around to trying those. But they're definitely on the radar, and I may have a light lunch there someday. Meanwhile, if you haven't been, and you happen to drop by, do try their chocolatey goods!

Ganache Chocolate on Urbanspoon

Ganache Chocolate on Urbanspoon

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

how to eat sweet tamarind from pods

A box of sweet tamarind from Thailand.

A few months ago, a friend offered me a box of sweet tamarind from Thailand. This was actually given to him as a gift, but he found them a little strange and daunting. I've used tamarind as an ingredient before, but these were whole tamarind pods which are sufficiently ripe and sweet that you can enjoy as a snack just by themselves, which was actually quite novel to me, too. So how does one eat sweet tamarind? Let me show you the way.

The tamarind pods look like this. Not the prettiest things...

The whole sweet tamarind pods.

I cracked the outer shell open. I did this by applying pressure to the pod with hands until the shell broke. Visually, it doesn't really get much better.

A half-peeled sweet tamarind pod.

Then I scrapped off the shell until I was left with just the sticky fruit. Now, here it is, with the shell completely removed.

Sweet tamarind pod with the shell completely removed.

I peeled off the tough, stringy fibers that still clung on to the outside of the flesh. To proceed from here, take a bite of the fruit, one section at a time, chew and spit out the seed.

What does sweet tamarind taste like? To me, it tasted like a tangy dried date. Simon concurred, describing it as having the texture of a date, and a mild cranberry flavour.

A chunk of the sweet tamarind flesh, and one of the sweet tamarind seeds.

In conclusion, these sweet tamarind pods may look quite challenging, but they're really not difficult to eat. All you require is a sense of adventure, and you'll be rewarded with a nice snack!

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

oven-baked spiced kale frittata-omelette

Oven-baked spiced kale frittata.

Food bloggers have been waxing lyrical over kale for ages, yet for some reason I've never felt driven to purchase it at the markets. That is, until I saw a packet of baby kale on the bargain table for 50 cents. If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know I love the bargain tables - the cheap prices give me extra incentive to take the plunge on an unfamiliar ingredient.

A bowl of washed baby kale.

I am also currently going through a phase where I enjoy experimenting with Indian flavours in the kitchen. Thus, an oven-baked spice kale frittata was born - a really thin one, almost an omelette. I used various spices I had on hand. I just sort of threw them together because I find that kind of thing enjoyable, but if you can't be bothered, I think some of those pre-mixed Indian curry spices in tins would suit here, too. If you're mixing your own, feel free to adjust the amount of chilli powder to suit your preferences. Mine had a surprisingly generous dose of heat - good thing we both deal well with spicy food!

Oven-baked frittata with baby kale and lots of spice.

oven-baked spiced kale frittata

For the kale:

1 tablespoon oil
1/8 teaspoon chilli powder
1/8 teaspoon coriander seed powder
1/8 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon salt
100g baby kale (about 3 - 4 packed cups)

For the eggs:

4 large eggs
2 tablespoons coconut cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

In a 20cm/8" oven-safe pan, fry spices in oil for about 15 seconds over low to medium heat, keeping an eye on them and stirring so that they don't burn. Add salt and baby kale. Stir-fry for another 2 - 3 minutes until the leaves are wilted.

In a bowl, whisk eggs together with coconut cream, salt and pepper. Add in the cooked kale and mix well. Pour the entire mixture back into the oven-safe pan you had previously used for stir-frying the kale.

Bake in an oven that had been pre-heated to 180ºC / 350ºF fan-forced (200ºC/390ºF conventional) for about 15 minutes. It should be golden brown on top by then.

Cut and serve the frittata! You can eat it by itself with a dollop of cool coconut cream or tangy plain yoghurt, have it with rice, slot it into a sandwich, or whatever.

I'll admit, this is a pretty basic recipe, so feel free to add more veggies in there - next time I'd cook a bit of garlic and onion before adding the baby kale at the stir-frying stage, for extra nutrition and flavour.

Oh, and happy Valentine's day, whether you celebrate it or not! Simon and I are doing a temporary long-distance thing at the moment, so I'll likely be having a quiet one at home - not that we usually do much for it anyway. :)

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

pho hien vuong pasteur, footscray

I rarely make my way to any suburbs that aren't a reasonable walk or a short tram ride away, but late last year I've had to run a couple of errands in Footscray.

When I knew I had to make the trip to Footscray, the first thing that came to mind was that I wanted Vietnamese food for lunch. Of course.

The choices abound. We ended up at Pho Hien Vuong Pasteur (144 Hopkins St, Footscray).

In the beverage section, the custard apple juice immediately caught my eye. It was icy, sweet, and the distinct deliciousness of custard apple shone through. I liked it.

Custard apple juice ($3.50).

I had already decided that I would have pho. They come in three sizes here: $8 for small, $9 for medium, and $10 for large. The small one was just right for me.

Funnily enough, Simon and I saw that the menu had both "Special Beef & Chicken", and "Chicken & Beef Combination". Naturally, we thought we would order one of each, to assess the difference. The woman taking our order looked at us like we were crazy. "They're the same thing." Oh. Alright then.

Special combination chicken and beef pho (the small serving, $8).

Anyhow, it was pretty great. The broth had a lovely spiced warmth and complexity, with a depth of flavour that goes beyond mere MSG (though I'm sure that was included, too). The noodles were super smooth and slippery. The meat and offal were tasty, and the trimmings (beansprouts, basil, chilli) were fresh.

The combination pho with all the trimmings.

I'll have to pop by Footscray again for another errand soon. It's tempting to return to Hien Vuong for more pho, but if you've got any other suggestions, do leave a comment!

Hien Vuong on Urbanspoon

Click here to read the rest of the post!