Friday, December 31, 2010

Pig out Christmas

Belated Happy Christmas to all!

Didn't the holidays just fly by so fast? It's amazing!

A lot of eating and cooking has been done over the past few days. And I have done my fair share of drinking as well, which I have more than made up for my lack of alcohol consumption this time last year (because of my pregnancy).

Alex's first Christmas was a big deal for the family. She received heaps of presents and let me tell you, I won't be buying any clothes for at least the next 6 months :)

No recipes to share for now, but there are some food photos. Have to prepare for NYE... hubby booked us a room at the Crown Promenade. Sweet :D

Have a great NYE everyone. Have fun, be safe, and all the best for 2011. Peace out :D

Lechon, Prawns, Chicken Macaroni Salad and Hawaiian Ham

Fruit, cheese, crackers

Hawaiian Ham and Pavlova

My first attempt at making a Pavlova. Not bad huh? My mum loved it heaps :)

Arnie's Hawaiian Ham - will share the recipe in a future post :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pumphouse Hotel

We all know that this time of the year, a spate of Christmas lunches and dinners fill our calendars and diets are thrown out of the window. For a new mum like myself, eating out has been at a minimum while I was at home with the little lady and as soon as I came back to work I have been at it almost everyday! Making up for lost time I suppose :)

My team booked our annual Christmas lunch at the Pumphouse Hotel. It's located in Fitzroy and it's a Melbourne icon.

We had lunch at the Conservatory and was presented with a menu full of goodies. The service was prompt and friendly. In true pub style, you order your drinks and food at the bar but it doesn't make the service any less personable.

Everyone was happy with their meal. I took the liberty of taking photos of all the meals we ordered.

Asian marinated pork cutlet, parsnip ginger mash, seared asian greens, orange and soy jus, crispy shallots

My order: Moreton bay bug risotto, green peas, pancetta, pickled lemon, tiger prawns - so yummy but I wish there was more bug!

Lime, chilli, tiger prawn and scallop skewers, mandarin-ginger puree, Thai herb,
straw vegetable and rice noodle salad

Pumphouse Burger, lettuce, tomato, cheese, smoked bacon, onion jam, mayo, pickle,
bush chutney and chips

Chicken Parmagiana, hand crumbed, garden salad, chips

Crisp Lemon pepper calamari, rocket and shaved cucumber salad, aioli

My rating (out of 5)

Food: 4
Value for money: 4
Service: 4.5
Ambiance: 4
The Pumphouse Hotel
128 Nicholson Street
Fitzroy 3065
03 9417 2817

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ishiya Stonegrill

Hello once again. It has been so many months since my last post. I can't believe 7 months have already past and I am back at work. My little lady is growing leaps and bounds and I seem to have gained a few pounds in the process :)

I thought I should make it up to this blog of mine and get back to business.

My BFF Miguel and I love to eat. He reckons that every place that I recommend becomes an instant favourite of his. For our Christmas dinner get together, Miguel, his older brother Javier and I went to Ishiya Stonegrill in Little Bourke Street.

The restaurant is very cosy and comfortable and because of it's limited seating, it doesn't get too noisy apart from the sizzle that comes from raw slabs of meat, poultry or seafood cooking on very hot stonegrills.

The stonegrill is a method of cooking which is considered to be one of the healthiest because it uses no added fat or oils and sears the food without burning. The selected volcanic stones are heated up to 400 degrees Celsius.

Being an absolute sucker for Wagyu, it didn't take me long to decide what I was getting. Miguel and Javier also decided to get the Wagyu Beef Selection which included an entree size sashimi and sushi and a bowl of teriyaki fried rice. We also decided to get 6 skewers of takoyaki. For drinks, I had a glass of Merlot and the boys had Lychee Sour mocktails.

The takoyaki and our individual serves of sashimi and sushi came out. The takoyaki was really good, well presented and freshly cooked. There was enough filling in the takoyaki and was very tasty unlike other places who pretend to serve takoyaki when it's really just batter balls. The fish that was used for the sashimi and sushi was fresh and there was just enough for an entree.

The Wagyu stonegrill set came out with a lot of fanfare on a trolley. The waitress asked us if we wanted freshly cracked pepper on the meat and we said yes. The stonegrills were placed on the table along with a small bowl of teriyaki fried rice and a long dish containing five different dipping sauces for the meat: sake and mirin, tomato and wasabi, sesame, garlic mayo and teriyaki. We were told not to cut up the meat in small pieces but rather cut a bite size piece when we're ready to eat so that the meat won't dry up.

Stonegrill is definitely one of my favourite methods of cooking. Wagyu on a stonegrill is just the perfect match. The natural flavours of the wagyu are not lost and the dipping sauces compliment the meat so well. My favourites would be the sesame and the teriyaki. The fried rice was so tasty that I was so tempted to order an extra bowl! I love the fact that the diner controls how much the meat is cooked and with wagyu, you wouldn't want to cook it too much.

Ishiya is a unique dining experience and should be experienced by all. I can easily say that this is one of my current favourites and as much as having the Wagyu here could easily break my bank account if I went too often (Wagyu Beef Selection is $54.00), I could justify it since I am never disappointed whenever I have it.

My rating (out of 5)

Food: 4
Value for money: 3.5
Service: 4.5
Ambiance: 4

Ishiya Stonegrill
152 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne 3000
03 9650 9510

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Very Long Vacation

Okay I haven't disappeared off the face of the earth. Having looked at my last post which was September 2009, the only excuse I have for being super lax with my blogging is the fact that around the time of my last post, I found out I was pregnant. Fast forward to the present, my baby girl is 12 weeks old and thriving, looking so much like her dad which is very cute.

My baby girl Alejandra Nena Estrada, Alex for short, at 1 week.

Now I think I'm ready to get back into blogging. Might not be as regular as before, but I'll try to post something at least once a week. I still love my food even if I don't do that much cooking as I used to. The weekends are the only time I have to do so, when hubby is home to look after baby Alex.

Thanks for your patience and for checking in from time to time. Don't worry I'm still alive, plus one baby :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kitchen Tales Episode 7: Homemade Pizza

I have been wanting to make my very own pizza for years. The only setback is I have no idea how to make the dough. I don't like the idea of kneading and tossing the dough and making an awful mess in the kitchen.

One day, almost twin and I were having a chat and I mentioned that I really wanted to try to make my own pizza, which includes a dough that is no-fuss. She gave me a dough recipe that is so easy to make that it's scary. It's Olive Oil No-Knead Dough. I mixed all the ingredients in 10 minutes flat and all I had to do was wait for the dough to rest for a couple of hours.

After two hours, I looked at my bowl and saw that my dough doubled. When I dusted my kitchen bench with flour to stretch and roll the dough, I found it pliable and the consistency was perfect! I don't have a pizza stone or a pizza pan so I arranged the dough on a baking sheet as thinly as I can. I decided to make a Margarita Pizza - drizzled a bit of olive oil on the dough, used canned diced tomatoes as a base, dried oregano, sliced gourmet tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. I baked the pizza for 10 minutes in a 250 - 300 degree fan forced oven for 10 minutes.

The result? Is this...

After having homemade pizza, I will never go back!

No Knead Pizza Dough

2 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

Mix the yeast, salt, sugar and olive oil with the water in a bowl. Mix in the flour without kneading using a large wooden spoon. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Kitchen Tales Episode 6: Creamy Asparagus Soup

I love cream soups. They're ultra naughty. One of my favourites is Creamy Asparagus Soup. This is very tasty when made fresh but bloody awful when it comes in a can or (shudder) powdered form. Also, I can pretend that they're healthy because there's a lot of veggies in it albeit the amount of cream!

I don't find a lot of restaurants that serve Creamy Asparagus Soup. Luckily, it's quite easy to make so whenever I feel the itch, I make this and I can easily have two to three serves in one sitting. Oh so good!

Creamy Asparagus Soup - Serves 4

2 tablespoons butter
1 leek, thinly sliced, or 1/2 cup diced onion
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 pound asparagus
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, cook leek or onions in butter over medium-low heat until tender. Add flour and stir until well incorporated. Add chicken or vegetable stock, asparagus and parsley. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until asparagus is tender. Carefully, working with about1 - 2 cups at a time, blend or process until smooth. Return to saucepan and add cream. Heat through. Add a dash of pepper and 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of salt, or to taste. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kitchen Tales Episode 5: Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

This could very well be my most proud moment. Okay, so everyone knows I'm a novice in baking. But I am also a willing student and am eager to learn all the skills required to improve in the art of baking. So after my adventure in baking cookies, I decided to find a recipe and try to make cupcakes from scratch. My almost twin Agnes and I went to a shop called Cake Deco which is a huge cake decorating retailer in the city. There we bought items to aid us with our cupcake cooking sprees. We both wanted to practice before the big RSPCA cupcake day bake-off. I looked for a banana cupcake recipe afterwards and thought it practical since my mum had been going a bit loco with the supply of bananas at home. I think she liked my banana cake a bit too much :-)

This was the recipe I found. Easy to follow, perfect for an amateur like myself.

It was one of the best cupcakes I've ever eaten. The icing was perfect, not too sweet. It compliments the cupcake so well. I suppose cream cheese goes well with anything. I was extremely happy with how friends loved how I decorated the cupcake. The sugar balls were so cute!

Things to improve? Will half-fill the cupcake paper cups next time and double line them. Pity because the cups I choose were cute and the oiliness of the cupcake ruined the look. Also, I want to buy a bigger piping bag and a different tip for the icing. I found that the bag I bought was a bit too small and icing was oozing onto my hand when I was decorating the cupcakes. V-messy!

All in all, it was a delicious cupcake. It was a hit and was finished off in one sitting. Excellent stuff!