Monday, 30 June 2014

recent delights: yoghurt, salt with attitude, jarrah honey

Things have been hectic recently.

A huge change is coming, and I'll tell you all about it in my next post.

But for now, here's a short and sweet compilation of some recent delights, as it's been a while since I've posted about the random foodstuff I've bought and enjoyed.

For the past year or two, I've been buying five:am organic yoghurt. It now comes in many flavours, and I haven’t tried them all, though I’m actually quite in love with just the natural one with no added sugar. The tub in the picture below is of the vanilla bean yoghurt - as you can see, they're pretty generous with the vanilla. I still like some of the more niche yoghurts that I get elsewhere, but this stuff is great and has the upside of being easily available in the major supermarkets. I have my eyes on trying the coffee bean, as well as the dark caramel, next.

five:am vanilla bean yoghurt.

I've also just used up the last of my jar of Salt with Attitude from Green Farmhouse. I actually purchased this on a whim at a shop in a local airport whilst on an interstate trip. I rarely buy food souvenirs at airports, but this just looked like it would be delicious, and it was. With sea salt, sesame seeds, bush tomatoes, chillies and spices in the ingredient list, there is definitely some jazzy attitude there, with a bit of kick and a bit of zing. I think the rich, piquant flavour of the native Australian bush tomatoes really give it an extra edge. When I use this instead of regular salt, the dish takes on a distinctive new flavour.

Green Farmhouse Salt with Attitude.

Last but not least, Jarrah honey. Where have you been all my life? I got this on last year's trip to Perth because I was intrigued by the claims that the health benefits of this honey surpasses many others. What no one told me, was that it tastes like caramel popcorn. Yes. Seriously. Sweet, nutty, divine - I’m happy just licking it off a spoon! Mine was from The House of Honey but I suppose any minimally processed Jarrah honey from a quality producer should be just as good. I'm so in love.

Jarrah honey, purchased from The House of Honey in Western Australia.

I hope you enjoyed my Australian-centric edition of tasty odds and ends. Stay tuned for my big announcement in the next post!

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Monday, 23 June 2014

n. lee bakery cafe, south melbourne

Banh mi for lunch, anyone?

I have recently taken to visiting N.Lee Bakery Cafe (234 Clarendon St, South Melbourne) during my work lunch breaks to grab takeaway Vietnamese sandwiches - banh mi - for a change.

The staff here are cheerful, friendly, and generous with their smiles, even during peak hour. If you get there around 1pm, be prepared for a queue, but the wait generally isn't too bad. They make the banh mi to order, and the meat is heated up in a pan so it's still warm in the roll when it gets to you. If you like a bit of a kick to your banh mi (and I so, so do), remember to ask for chilli.

Their banh mi aren't the cheapest you can get in Melbourne, but at around the $7 mark they are still pretty good value for a tasty lunch, considering we're in a more expensive suburb here. The bread roll is crisp, the vegetables fresh, the meat warm and juicy.

Here is the grilled pork banh mi. (I only wish the meat didn't have that artificial red colouring.)

Grilled pork banh mi from N.Lee Bakery Cafe in South Melbourne. ($6.80)

And here is the chicken banh mi.

Chicken breast banh mi from N.Lee Bakery Cafe in South Melbourne. ($6.80)

I have only ever been to the South Melbourne shop, and I'm satisfied with both the service and the food there, but I hear they also have stores in CBD and Collingwood. If I happen to be craving a sandwich when I'm in those areas, I guess I know where I can go!

N. Lee Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Monday, 16 June 2014

central kebab house, brunswick

Central Kebab House on Sydney Road, Brunswick.

We stumbled upon Central Kebab House (661 Sydney Road, Brunswick) as we were wandering around Brunswick, killing time in between my friend's wedding ceremony and reception.

The woman preparing food behind the counter looked at us with a smile playing on her lips, perhaps wondering how Simon, dressed in his suit, and I, in a dainty dress, came to sit down at this simple joint to eat Turkish pizza with our hands, a carefree juxtaposition to our formal outfits. She brought us a basket of complimentary fresh, warm Turkish bread, and we reveled in her warmth and hospitality.

Warm and fluffy Turkish bread.

Our mince meat and spinach gozleme had a nice flavour, though I felt that the fillings were a little sparse.

Mince meat and spinach gozleme.

The Lahmacun - a thin Turkish pizza - arrived. It also came with a plate of fresh onions, tomatoes, lemon wedges, and parsley.

Fresh salad / garnishes / fillings / toppings for the Lahmacun (Turkish pizza).

Neither of us have had lahmacun before, and I was wondering how to handle all this when I saw Simon pile on the fresh vegetables along with a squeeze of lemon onto the flatbread-pizza, roll it up, and eat it like a wrap. Of course! That boy is smart, he is.

We also shared an Ayran, a Turkish yoghurt drink. With no added sugar and just a gentle pinch of salt, it was refreshingly tangy.

Turkish pizza - Lahmacun / Lahmajun.

I have had limited experience with Turkish food, and I like how, at Central Kebab House, I get a glimpse of what I imagine to be a place that might be frequented by Turkish-Australians in Melbourne. Many of the items on the wall-mounted menu were unfamiliar to me, and there weren't any descriptive explanations, which made it all quite a fun cultural adventure.

If I ever visit this part of town again, I would love to drop by Central Kebab House for round two. I've since found out that one of the mysterious-but-delicious-looking menu items, Manti, is the Turkish version of a dumpling dish, and I am so, so intrigued!

Central Kebab House on Urbanspoon

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Monday, 9 June 2014

amazingly crunchy maple carob quinoa granola cereal

Amazingly crunchy maple carob quinoa granola cereal.

When I say amazingly crunchy, that is exactly what I mean.

These baked maple carob quinoa clusters were this crunchy: even after casting them into a bowl of milk, and spending a few too many minutes angling for the right pictures, they didn't turn soggy. There was simply no quiet way in which I could enjoy them, and my sister commented on the shattering sounds as I chomped on them merrily - it was like a scene out of a breakfast cereal commercial.

Oh, and this happens to be another one of my eczema-friendly recipe creations based on The Eczema Diet that my sister has been using as a guidance. But don't let that put you off if you're not into special diets - this maple carob quinoa granola cereal is awesome for anyone who likes a sweet, malty, crunchy snack.

The amazingly crunchy maple carob quinoa cereal retains its crunch, even in milk!

This is kind of like a clustered, gluten-free, allergy-friendly version of cocoa breakfast cereal. Sweet enough to be like dessert (can also add to ice cream, yoghurt, fruit etc) or have with milk (non-dairy if required) for breakfast or brunch, or by itself as a snack. I made it nut-free for my sister, in accordance to the eczema diet - however, you can add more ingredients to it if you like, nuts or dried fruits could be nice additions.

amazingly crunchy maple carob quinoa granola cereal
(makes a small portion, enough for 2 - 3 breakfasts with milk, feel free to multiply the recipe)

1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1/8 cup roasted carob powder
1/8 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon rice bran oil
1 pinch of salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 140ºC (285ºF) fan-forced or 160ºC (320ºF) conventional.
Mix quinoa flakes and roasted carob powder together.
Mix maple syrup and rice bran oil together (with salt as well, if using), then add it to the quinoa flakes. Stir around until the mixture clumps into clusters.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spread the maple carob quinoa clusters onto the tray in one layer, so that they don't overlap each other.
Bake in the middle rack for 20 - 25 minutes, giving it a stir to turn them around at the halfway mark to help them bake evenly.
Allow your maple carob quinoa granola cereal to cool completely to achieve the amazing crunchiness.
Crunch away!

If you want to store this granola-cereal for later consumption, make sure they are completely dry and cool, and then they should keep in an airtight container for up to a few weeks.
Also, if you would like to reduce the sweetness in the recipe, instead of using all maple syrup, try substituting half of it with rice syrup. As rice syrup is quite thick, you may need to add a fraction more oil to thin out this syrup concoction a little for better mixing results.

Close-up shot of the amazingly crunchy maple carob quinoa granola.

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