Feb 8, 2013

Wanderlust: Inspiring Travel Videos

I’ve been seeing some amazing travel videos springing up on Vimeo lately and have been bookmarking each to share them with you. They sure are giving me itchy feet to explore the world again! I’m excited my new camera has HD video – I am looking forward to creating travel and food videos in the near future. Enjoy!

Midnight Sun | Iceland from SCIENTIFANTASTIC on Vimeo.

A Day in India from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.

Mindrelic – Manhattan in motion from Mindrelic on Vimeo.

Holi from Variable on Vimeo.

Feb 5, 2013

Nutella Cheesecake

Happy World Nutella Day everyone! Every year on 5 February, Nutella fans around the world celebrate this delicious chocolate hazelnut spread, sharing recipes, photos and more. Hosted by Bleeding Espresso and Ms Adventures in Italy, it’s a fun way to think up new Nutella based recipes and basically just a good excuse to eat more Nutella (than usual).

I wanted to create a delicious and decadent Nutella cheesecake after being requested to bake something “chocolate or cheesecake” for a dinner party. Why not combine both together? I stumbled upon this super easy Nutella Cheesecake recipe from Chocolatesuze a while back and decided to combine it with a hazelnut crunch base, dark chocolate ganache and cover in toasted hazelnuts.

Nutella Cheesecake
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Serves: 12

Ingredients
Base
  • 250g packet of sweet biscuits, crushed (I used butternut snap biscuits)
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut
  • 4 tbsp roasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • 120g butter, melted
Filling
  • 500g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 100g icing sugar
  • ½ cup double cream
  • 400g of Nutella
Ganache
  • 115 grams dark chocolate, chopped
  • ⅓ cup double cream
  • 1 tsp butter
Topping
  • ½ cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Arrange hazelnuts on an oven tray and roast for 10 mins.
  2. Transfer roasted nuts to a clean tea towel and gently rub off the bitter hazelnut skins.
  3. Chop hazelnuts as finely as possible, putting 4 tbsp aside for the base and the remaining nuts for the topping.
Base
  1. In a food processor, finely crush the biscuits. Add coconut and hazelnuts.
  2. Add in melted butter and pulse until combined.
  3. Press the biscuit mixture into a 23cm/9″ round spring form cake tin and put in the fridge to set.
Filling
  1. Place the cream cheese and icing sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
  2. Add in the Nutella and double cream, beating until smooth and creamy.
  3. Pour onto the biscuit base and return to the fridge to set.
Ganache and topping
  1. Bring the cream and butter to boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and stir until smooth and glossy.
  3. Pour the ganache over the Nutella cheesecake and sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts over the top.
  4. Return the cheesecake to the fridge and let set preferably overnight.
  5. To serve, release the cheesecake from it’s springform pan and serve on a cake stand.

Feb 1, 2013

World Nutella Day coming soon

It’s February and I am getting excited about that special day looming in the near future. No I’m not talking about Valentine’s Day, or ever Chinese New Year. I am talking about World Nutella Day! The founders of World Nutella Day, which falls on 5 February, describe Nutella as more than just a “chocolaty hazelnut spread,” it is a way of life. Want to get in on the act and help celebrate the joy of Nutella? Here are some recipe suggestions:

♥ Butter Cookies with Nutella

A super simple and delicious recipe featuring buttery cookies with a huge dollop of Nutella in the middle. Heaven.

You can also stuff the Nutella inside the cookie for a nice surprise!

♥ Triple Decker Ferrero Rocher Cake with Nutella Buttercream

This cake combines the flavours of Nutella – chocolate and hazelnuts, a decadent Nutella buttercream, and Nutella’s best friend, Ferrero Rocher!

♥ Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream

Bake these delicious Devil’s Food Cupcakes, and substitute the chocolate ganache for this Nutella Buttercream. Thank me later.

And what am I baking this year for World Nutella Day? Well, here’s a teaser:

Hell. Yes. Stay tuned on Tuesday 5th February for proper photos and the recipe!

Jan 25, 2013

Tim Tam & Milo Truffles – Happy Australia Day!

Happy Australia Day for tomorrow, everyone! Australia Day is celebrated on the 26th January and the date commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788. As Australia Day falls on a Saturday this year, we get to enjoy a long weekend and take Monday off work, yippee!

For Australia Day, I wanted to combine 2 iconic Australian snacks foods – Tim Tams and Milo. I also wanted to incorporate the good old lamington into the recipe (like I made last year) and ended up rolling my Tim Tam & Milo truffles in coconut for the effect (and to satisfy my ongoing coconut obsession).

You know that old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do”? Well it certainly applies to this recipe! DO follow the recipe and only use 3/4 can of sweetened condensed milk. DO refrigerate for the suggested amount of time. Considering I wrote this recipe you think I would follow my own advice, no? Well I was a little heavy handed with the sweetened condensed milk, I insisted on baking on a hot and humid day and I impatiently didn’t give them enough time to properly set in the fridge. By the time I had stacked them into a little truffle pyramid and anointed them with their Australian flag, they were starting to look a little… droopy.

I ended up transferring them into mini cupcake cases and returning them to the fridge where they hardened up nicely – and it proved to be a cute way to serve them to guests.

Tim Tam & Milo Balls
 
Prep time

Total time

 

Author:
Serves: 24

Ingredients
  • 200g packet of Tim Tams (I used the dark chocolate ones)
  • 4 tbsp Milo
  • ¾ of a 400g can of sweetened condensed milk (save the rest for Viet iced coffee)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Instructions
  1. Blend Tim Tams in a food processor until finely crushed
  2. Pour the contents into a medium bowl and stir in Milo
  3. Add in ¾ of the sweetened condensed milk and stir until well combined
  4. Transfer mixture to the fridge and let set for at least an hour
  5. Once the mixture has firmed up, roll mixture into teaspoon sized balls. I find it easiest if your hands are slightly damp
  6. Roll each ball into the shredded coconut and transfer back to the fridge to firm up before serving

Jan 21, 2013

Pineapple and Coconut Cupcakes

After returning from a wonderful holiday in Vietnam I had a new found appreciation for tropical fruits. I was constantly snacking on a variety of fresh pineapple, dragon fruit and lychees and drinking copious amounts of fresh coconut juice (straight out of the coconut of course!)

This month’s theme for SABH is Tropical Paradise and I instantly wanted to recreate some highlights from my Vietnam holiday within the dessert. Inspired by the piña colada cocktail, these cupcakes will have you reminiscing about your last tropical holiday in no time.

I loved the idea of sticking a cocktail umbrella in each cupcake to echo the piña colada theme, however after trying 5 different stores I gave up. They were ALL sold out of cocktail umbrellas. Have people been partying too much this summer?!

I ended up making pineapple flowers to decorate my cupcakes. Slicing the pineapple thinly can be a bit tricky but drying the rings out in the oven and shaping them into flowers is super easy. They are an eye catching decoration that really set the cupcakes off.
 

Pineapple and Coconut Cupcakes
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Serves: 20

Ingredients
Pineapple and Coconut Cupcakes
  • 2 cups self­ raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 50g toasted coconut (I used shredded)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g butter, softened
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped pineapple, drained
Coconut Cream Cheese Icing
  • 600g sifted icing sugar (4-5 cups)
  • 100g butter at room temperature
  • 250g cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 tbsps coconut essence
  • Shredded coconut to decorate or 1 pineapple for pineapple flowers

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  2. Spread the coconut onto a baking tray in an even layer. Toast until golden brown which will only take around 2 minutes (watch like a hawk!)
  3. In a large bowl beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk. Do not overmix!
  6. Add the pineapple and toasted coconut and stir to combine.
  7. Fill cupcake liners about ¾ full with mixture and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden brown. This recipe makes approximately 20 cupcakes.
  8. Allow to cool in tin for 15 mins and then turn out onto a wire rack.
  9. Cream the butter and icing sugar together until well mixed.
  10. Add the cream cheese in cubes slowly until incorporated.
  11. Add in the coconut essence and continue mixing for 5 minutes until the icing is light and fluffy. Pipe onto cupcakes.
  12. Decorate with shredded coconut or pineapple flowers
  13. To make pineapple flowers, turn over down to 110°C.
  14. Thinly slice a pineapple (or split pineapple rings in 3 horizontally) and arrange rings on several lined baking trays.
  15. Bake for 30 mins, then turn and cook for another 30 mins.
  16. Transfer rings to a muffin tin so they form the shape of a flower.

 

Jan 17, 2013

High Tea at Bistro Fax, Radisson Blu

Disclosure: This high tea was provided by Groupon for my review

I love high tea and always jump at the chance to try out a new place around Sydney. The guys at Groupon offered me the chance to try out one of their current restaurants that were being offered and when I received an email advising me of a high tea at Bistro Fax at the Radisson Blu, I couldn’t wait. This particular deal was $79 for two with a bottle of French sparkling rose and was worth $175.

The Groupon process was pain free and after acquiring the deal, the voucher was emailed straight to my inbox. I then emailed the Radisson to book in my high tea and received an almost instant reply to my request and we were good to go.

We arrived at the Radisson on a rainy afternoon, the perfect weather to cozy up on the couch and eat and drink as much as possible. I presented my Groupon voucher to the hostess and we were shown to our table.

Our bottle of French sparkling rose soon arrived which was delicious.

We ordered our hot beverages, a (rather average) Vittoria cappuccino for my friend and Twinings English Breakfast for me.

Our three tiers of treats is soon brought to our table and the waiter rushes off without so much as a hint of what we have to eat, let alone plates or cutlery. We spend the next 5 minutes fervently trying to get the attention of any of the waiters, finally flagging down another waitress who brings us cutlery and plates and talks us through the tiers upon request.

On the bottom layer is a selection of cucumber dill sandwichs,  salmon toast with cream cheese, dill and capers, rare roast beef and horse radish sandwiches and curry chicken puffs. The standout was definitely the curry puffs, full of flavour and the right amount of spice.

Tier 2 consisted of a selection of plain and fruit scones, with cream and jam. The scones were lovely, the perfect texture and not too dry.

Saving the best to last, we attack the top dessert tier. My favourite was the key lemon tart with its rich and tart filling, closely followed by the strawberry Swiss roll (I’m a sucker for anything with strawberries and cream!) The passion fruit jelly pots were very tasty but unfortunately the jelly wasn’t set properly. I only managed a mouthful of both the seasonal fruit and custard tart and the chocolate walnut brownies with double cream – by this stage I was stuffed!

We noticed other tables having their wine topped up regularly, however we were left to our own devices. Overall we had a lovely afternoon enjoying wine, tea and delicious treats at a heavily discounted price – I just hope Bistro Fax makes significant improvements to their service.

Jan 15, 2013

Strange Fruits by Sarah Illenberger

I recently stumbled across this series of gorgeous and quirky food art by German art director Sarah Illenberger. I would love to hang any of these on my wall. Hello disco pineapple!

For more of her work check out sarahillenberger.tictail.com

Jan 9, 2013

Lately on Instagram…

December was ridiculously busy, fun and featured an embarrassing amount of food and cocktails. Plus it was my birthday, so more the reason to celebrate!

The Beach 

I was finally convinced to go to the beach on a beautiful sunny day, I hid in a cave at first. I eventually got in the water and gave snorkelling a go, I had a great time! I have since returned for beachside walks and post-work swims – something I want to do on a more regular basis.

♥ Ticking more restaurants off my list

I managed to check out quite a few places on my never-ending list of places to eat around Sydney. Brunch at Orto was amazing and I can’t wait to return (why did it take me so long to get here when I live around the corner?!)

Queenies was delicious Jamaican food featuring jerk chicken, sweet potato fries and bammies (a traditional Jamaican cassava flatbread)

Santa Barbara is a Hawaiian Restaurant with delicious bings (asian-style tacos), more sweet potato fries (obsessed), chicken burgers and popcorn with pineapple and bacon chunks! They also have a great cocktail menu and it’s fast becoming one of my favourite places in Sydney for a drink and nibble.

Ippudo – so far I have only tried the takeaway ramen so I can’t comment on the famous pork buns which are sadly unavailable for t/a (tear). The broth was delicious but I found the noodles underwhelming.

And I finally made it to The Milk Bar by Cafe Ish to sample their delicious treats. The caramel slice and malteser pie were particularly amazing! I must return to give their milkshakes and burgers a go.

♥ An Embarrassing Amount of Cocktails…

I didn’t realise just how many cocktails were consumed during December until I went through my photos (and I haven’t even included the 1 litre mojito that was consumed at my work lunch!) Here are some highlights of the tastiest.

Clockwise from the top left we have the Amazing Perfect from Lil Darling, a Downtown Iced Tea from Santa Barbara, a giant cocktail made in a watermelon from The Norfolk and finally 2 very delicious cocktails from 4Fourteen.

♥ Iced Coffee Obsession

After drinking iced coffee daily in Vietnam I have been getting huge cravings for it here as the weather warms up. Unfortunately I can’t find the authentic Viet coffee with sweetened condensed milk too easily around where I work, so I have been settling for a “skim latte over ice”. Delicious and the perfect summer caffeine fix. Oh and the odd iced coffee with the works – ice cream and whipped cream, when I feel like a treat!

♥ My Birthday

And then it was my birthday and I decided to celebrate for a week because why not? Firstly I was taken to 4Fourteen for an absolutely amazing dinner featuring a ruben roll (pictured), roast pork, colcannon and the most amazing white chocolate sandwich with dulce de leche. I need to return.

A few nights later I was taken to Movida for my second birthday dinner. Here we have anchovies, goats curd + quince cigars, air baguette with “rost biff” and beef cheek in Pedro Ximenez.

And spicy pork ribs (best!!), salt cod fritters and grilled asparagus. A wonderful treat!

Then I had a birthday picnic Saturday morning with lots of lovely food bloggers! We went to Flour and Stone, bought out half the store, then headed to The Domain for a picnic. It was such a lovely way to spend the morning of my birthday with my new friends I made through this blog.

They stuck candles in the lamingtons and sang Happy Birthday to me, aw! (Life changing lamingtons, btw).

I had my second birthday party at The Norfolk and I wore a cat dress! I will not post any more photos from that night for fear of incrimination… I may have worn a watermelon on my head at one stage.

♥ Christmas

I had a nice time catching up with the family and actually loved the rainy stormy weather that Sydney encountered on Christmas Day. I baked ginger cupcakes, brownie cupcakes with strawberry santa hats and peanut butter M&M cookies plus I painted my nails coral and mint green to try and look “festive”.

♥ NYE

I had a lovely dinner at Longrain for NYE with a great bunch of friends and got to wear my new sparkly dress. What a great way to finish a great year!

♥ A New Toy

Not much has happened in 2013 thus far as I got sick on the second day of the year and was bed ridden for a while. Hmmpf. But I did buy myself a new toy… the Olympus XZ-1! It’s been years since I have used a point and shoot camera, however this one has a lot of custom settings and the ability to set the focal point so I have high hopes for it.

I hope everyone had a wonderful festive season and is settling back into the reality of work!

Dec 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I have met so many awesome people and had so many great experiences through this blog. I’ve got big plans for next year and can’t wait to share it with you. I hope everyone had a wonderful 2012 and is looking forward to an even better 2013! I know I am.

Image Source

Dec 24, 2012

Holiday Travel Woes

This time of year is often stressful for a lot of us, not only does the financial and emotional pressure often take its toll (don’t you love those family fights?), travelling during this period can be a complete nightmare! Fortunately for me I am staying put this year, my family is coming from QLD and as far as Norway to celebrate and I don’t have to brave those terrible airport queues or holiday traffic disasters!

I love a good infographic, and this one by CarInsurance.org sums up our sense of duty during the festive season to visit our loved ones and families – with 91% of us travelling by car (ugh). Stay safe on the roads, try not to scream at Grandma and eat LOTS of ham.

Internships Infographic

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