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No Butter Lemon Drizzle Cake {Recipe}


A few weeks ago I was at my manager's house and she invited us to help ourselves with the abundance of lemon the lemon tree at her backyard. I have used some in my cooking and found that it was not overly sour, so I decided to use it in baking.

I had a strange craving for lemon cake one day after work and while I was weighing all the ingredients I realised I ran out of butter! Luckily the internet came to the rescue and delivered this fluffy lemon drizzle cake. The sweet sponge contrast with the tartness of the lemon created was the perfect combination that reminded me that spring is just around the corner! So, the next time you run out of butter in your pantry, do not despair. This recipe will deliver the perfect sponge for all seasons for your dinner party.

No Butter Lemon Drizzle Cake
(Recipe from Mode of Style)

Ingredients
4 eggs
160g sugar
135g of flour
1 tsp of baking powder or 1/2 tsp of bicarb soda
Zest of one lemon

Drizzle topping
Juice from 1 1/2 lemon
85g caster sugar

Method
Beat the eggs and sugar fluffy, then add the lemon zest and flour mixed with baking powder and stir until smooth.

Bake in the oven at 175 degree Celcius for 35 to 45 minutes until golden (stick a toothpick in the cake, if the toothpick comes out clean, the center is set).

In the meantime, mix the lemon juice with caster sugar to make the drizzle.

After the cake is out of the even, prick it with holes, then pour the drizzle over the cake.

Let the cake cool down and serve with your favourite tea or coffee!

Dining Out: Elyros Restaurant and Wine Bar


A few weeks ago Steve took me to Elyros to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary. Located in the heart of Camberwell, the restaurant and wine bar was awarded 1 Hat in The Age Good Food Guide 2017.

Upon walking in the restaurant that was converted from a 1920s old bank building, I was wowed by the elegant interior. After a phase of dining at funky restaurants, I suppose Elyros, with its brass-wrought chandeliers and clean lines were a breath of fresh air. The dining area is separated from the wine bar and on that night we were seated in dining area.

Elyros has an extensive wine list and a Cretan-inspired menu. There are a selection of meze or starters, small plates to share, mains and desserts. Elyros also offers a three course or four course sharing menu. The four course menu was what we selected for the night and it was a feast.


For starters, we were served a selection of meze that include a basket of warm bread, eggplant dip, creamy feta dip, Greek house marinated olives, cured kingfish and olive oil. When our waitress brought the tray of meze to us, we were beyond excited. We could've simply dined on the soft bread and dips alone, but there was more food to come.


Our second course was the fish special for the night: grilled salmon served on squid ink risotto. The salmon was cooked well, but I thought the creamy squid ink risotto was the winner of the dish. After the fish, we were served the slow cooked lamb and patates cooked in lamb fat and rosemary salt. I believe those are Elyros' signature dishes as I read many rave reviews about the lamb and patates.


Naturally, it did not disappoint. In fact, while Steve and I were enjoying the lamb, we thought it tasted familiar. It took us a while to realise the slow-cooked lamb tasted almost exactly the same as the lamb Steve's yiayia cooks for Christmas and Easter! However, my favourite dish of the night has to be the patates cooked in lamb fat. It was cooked to golden perfection on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside.


Our anniversary dinner ended on a sweet note with a slice of the Cretan cheesecake with carob and walnuts. It was a lovely surprise when staff took the time to decorate the plate with the words "Happy Anniversary". Considering Steve organised the dinner, the little touch gave him some brownie points.

Overall we enjoyed our dinner. It was not anything groundbreaking but the food was classic flavours done well and perfect for our anniversary dinner. I would definitely recommend Elyros for a low-key and relaxed night out. But if you are one for food trends and fashionable dining spots, you will be better served elsewhere.

Elyros Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sticky Soy Pork Belly Okonomiyaki {Recipe}


Okonomiyaki, literally means "grilled as you like" is a savoury version of Japanese pancake, made with flour, eggs, shredded cabbage, meat/protein and topped off with a variety of condiments, typically kewpie mayo, bonito flakes and spring onion. Prior to visiting Japan, I had no idea what an okonomiyaki was. In fact it was purely a (happy) coincidence that I got to savour this Japanese dish:

My first time eating okonomiyaki was back in 2015. Weary after a long day of walking and exploring Kyoto in the rain, Steve was craving for hot food and cold beer. A quick search on Google led us to a teppanyaki restaurant in a multi-level mall near Kyoto station. We were famished and ordered the first few things we saw on the menu. From the kitchen came this glorious pancake-like thing topped with writhing bonito flakes, which sizzled and smoked on the grill pan in front of us. We were famished and quite literally ate off the grill pan. The first crispy bite on the okonomiyaki when the soft, still-hot filling hit my tongue, my whole body warmed up and the colour of everything around me suddenly seemed more vivid. It might've been my hunger that exaggerated the experience, but that rainy Autumn night in that greasy, smoky restaurant watching Steve enjoying his tall schooner of Sapporo beer, I never felt happier.

Alas, I have yet to discover an excellent okonomiyaki here in Melbourne. Some came close, but none brought me back to that cold night in Kyoto. So when I saw Gourmet Traveller's okonomiyaki recipe doing the rounds on Facebook, I promptly saved it and attempted it on a similarly cold Friday night. Granted, this recipe is topped with sticky soy pork belly, which is more Chinese and Japanese. But it seemed like an interesting pairing.


The result? I was amused at how easy it was to prepare the okonomiyaki batter. Don't worry if you don't have a teppanyaki grill, neither do I. A regular frying pan will do just fine. I wasn't up to the task of slow cooking the pork belly, per the recipe, so I swapped it for my Quick and Easy Dong Bo Rou. Same same but different? Maybe, but Steve was overjoyed when he got home to find his dinner was something out of the ordinary. So that's a win in my books.

Sticky Soy Pork Belly Okonomiyaki
(Recipe modified from Australian Gourmet Traveller)

Ingredients:
3 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 Chinese cabbage leaves, coarsely torn
3 spring onions, thinly sliced, plus extra to serve
1 small sebago potato, coarsely grated
50 ml vegetable oil

To served: Japanese (Kewpie) mayonnaise

Sticky soy pork belly (Quick and Easy Dong Bo Rou)
2 strips of pork belly, skin on, cut into 2cm pieces.
3 inches ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
100 grams rock sugar or brown sugar
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 cup Shaoxing wine
2 cups chicken/vegetable stock

Method:
For sticky soy pork belly, bring a medium sauce pan heat to medium high and add peanut oil. Sauté the ginger and garlic until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the sugar to the pan and stir constantly till sugar melts. Add the wine and soy sauces. Once boiling, reduce to low and pour in half the stock or water. Mix well. Place the pork belly pieces skin side down in the pan. Top up with the rest of the stock. The liquid must at least almost cover the pork. Add water if necessary. Increase heat to medium high and wait for the liquid to come to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to the lowest simmer, cover and braise for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, flip the pork belly pieces and continue braising, covered, for another 30-40 minutes, basting the skin occasionally, until pork is tender enough to be broken with a pair of chopsticks. Skim off any extra oil from the sauce in the pan. Whisk the reduced sauce while the pan is still hot. If you prefer more gravy, add boiling water bit by bit to get your preferred gravy consistency. Remove and let stand. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

To make the okonomiyaki, c
ombine flour, baking powder and 2 tsp sea salt in a large bowl, make a well in the centre, add eggs and gradually add 500ml cold water, stirring until smooth and combined. Stir in cabbage, onion and potato and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.

Heat one-quarter of the vegetable oil in a 15cm-diameter non-stick frying pan over medium heat, add one-quarter of the pancake batter, spreading evenly in pan, and cook until golden on the base and beginning to set on the surface (6-8 minutes). Turn and cook until cooked through (6-8 minutes), then transfer to an oven tray and keep warm while you repeat with remaining oil and pancake batter.

Top hot okonomiyaki with Japanese mayonnaise, sticky soy pork belly and spring onion, then drizzle with glaze. Serve hot.

Itadakimasu! 

Ah Ma's Steamed Sponge Cake (鸡蛋糕) {Recipe}


I've been living in Melbourne for eight-and-a-half years now, and every winter is just as painful as the last. Perhaps its the longing for some warmth and comfort that made me crave for childhood flavours from Malaysia.

Years ago, my Ah Ma (grandma) lived with us in KL following her knee reconstruction surgery, and she introduced us to many simple but delicious traditional food. Among them is the old-fashion steamed sponge cake. Using only flour, sugar and eggs, grandma would hand-mixed in a plastic bucket. In order to create the light and fluffy texture typical of a sponge cake, ah ma would whip out her old-school spring whisk/egg beater that is the size of a hand-held vacuum, add some Fanta or Sprite to create fizz and air, then she would start whisking away until the batter was thick, glossy and creamy. The mixture was then placed in a bamboo basket and steamed until the mixture set and we would have steamed cake for breakfast or as prayer offering. Making the cake was a family affair, as we would take turns to whisk the batter.

Sadly, Ah Ma got too frail in her later years and passed away a few years ago. But the taste of the sponge cake stayed with me and on this particular winter, I have a very strong craving for it. Lucky for me, this cake is not unique to my Ah Ma - I found a few recipes from people who recreated their Ah Ma's steamed sponge cake. Although this cake is not a 100% replica of my Ah Ma's recipe, I dare say it's quite close to the original. Moreover, the new and improved recipe does not require a bucket from Bunnings, a DIY hand whisk or Fanta. My regular Sunbeam mixer and Kmart steamer did most of the work and I got to enjoy a traditional steamed sponge cake.

I am also pleased to report (especially to my dad) the cake remained soft and moist up until the very last slice. So dad, give it a go!


Ah Ma's Steamed Sponge Cake

Ingredients
140g all purpose flour
5 medium eggs
240g sugar

Method
Beat egg and sugar in a mixer over low speed for 2 minutes, increase to medium high speed and continue to beat until double in volume (about 30 minutes), thick, creamy and pass the ribbon stage. Change to low speed, beat for another 1 to 2 minutes to minimise the air bubbles.

Sift in flour, mix slowly with a spatula and combine well.

Pour the cake mixture into a prepared 8 inch lined baking tin, rest for 10 minutes.

Steam over high heat for 40 minutes, then wait 1 minute before removing the cake.

Serve after slightly cool down.

Golden Roasted Melting Potatoes {Recipe}

I'm not sure about you, but this winter weather gives me all sorts of cravings for carbs and fatty food. Just the thought of warm, roasted creamy potatoes makes my heart flutter and stomach grumbling.



I served this golden roasted melting potatoes a few weeks ago with roasted chicken wings and it was simply divine. After punch through the golden, buttery and crispy outside, the soft, warm and creamy insides will almost melt in your mouth.

I can't say this is the easiest recipe, but when done right it is a crowd pleaser that goes with just about anything.


Golden Roasted Melting Potatoes

Ingredients
4 potatoes, washed and peeled
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon dried herbs
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, minced

Method
Preheat oven to 230C, making sure one of the oven racks is in the upper-middle position. Cut off the rounded edges of the potatoes, then cut the potatoes into 1-inch thick slices.

In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with butter, dried herbs, salt and pepper. Place the potatoes in a single layer in a ceramic or metal baking dish.

Roast the potatoes for 20 to 22 minutes, until the bottoms are browning around the edges.

Remove the baking pan from the oven and flip the potatoes with a flat spatula. Return to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, flip the potatoes again and add the chicken broth and garlic. Roast once more until the potatoes are tender and the sauce has reduced just slightly, about 15 minutes.

Serve the potatoes with the sauce drizzled over the top.

Nigella Lawson's Soy Mirin Glazed Salmon {Link to Recipe}



I've been stuck in a writing and cooking rut for the longest time possible and believe me, it was incredibly frustrating. Between getting married and settling into a new job last year, life has been a whirlwind since Steve and I got engaged way back in 2015. Seriously, it feels like I've skipped 2016 and landed straight into 2017. Now that I have settled into a nice routine of full-time work and domestic bliss with my shining new husband, I'm inspired to share my food adventures again!

Today's recipe is not mine, rather it belongs to the famous Ms Nigella Lawson. I chanced upon it when I googled quick and easy ways to cook salmon. What I love most about this recipe is that it's simple, quick and easy, but it doesn't look sloppy. You may have most of the ingredients in your pantry, bar the mirin and rice wine vinegar. But you can easily find these in your local supermarket's international food aisle.

The salmon is cooked in a hot pan so place it skin-side down first and cook for four minutes to get crispy skin. Use a spatula and apply pressure on the salmon to prevent the skin from shrinking. Avoid the temptation to turn over the salmon before the time is up to ensure the salmon skin has enough time and heat to crisp up.

Once the salmon is cooked, use the leftover marinade and whatever salmon goodness that is left in the pan to make a thick, dark and glossy glaze. Then garnish with some spring onion and serve it over a bed of rice for a yummy dinner.

Although this recipe is not for the health-conscious (15g of brown sugar!), it is an indulgence on a whim and simply perfect for a cold night.

Get the recipe here!

Dining Out: Chur Burgers Hoyts Chadstone

For way too long, going to the movies meant being cramped in a university lecture hall-sized room that smells like a mixture of body odour and stale popcorns, fighting over arm rest in seats that are still dank from other people's butt sweat. You either get too cold or too warm halfway through the movie and god forbid if you watch a movie during lunch or dinner time: You only had the choice of overcooked (and overpriced) hot dogs or bucket-sized popcorn.

But it seems that the cinema management has finally upped their game to give movie-goers a much better experience, because while I was swimming in my newly-wed bliss (and missed all of 2016's movie blockbusters), Hoyts Chadstone underwent a complete refurbishment. When a good friend of mine took me on a movie date earlier this year, I was wide-eyed in astonishment at the complete transformation of Hoyts.


Soulless snack, food and drinks check out counters have been replaced with a groovy Treats City that has a vast variety brand name snacks and different flavours of popcorn in resealable bags so you can take home the leftover.


If you are feeling hungry, fear not for having to ruin your movie experience with a questionable-looking hot dog on soggy bread! Chur Burger has partnered up Hoyts Chadstone to bring the gourmet burger experience to movie-goers. The much loved Sydney burger chain has received wide recognition for being one of the best burgers in Australia and I was elated to be invited to try it out.

Chur Burger Chadstone is run by Head Chef Warren Turnbull, who believes in offering a great burger at a great price. Using fresh and tasty ingredients, each burger is cooked to order and it really showed through the burgers we got.


The Chur Beast is for those with a serious appetite: Double grilled beef, double bacon, double cheese, tomato jam, BBQ sauce, mustard mayo, it was a burger that truly lived up to its name. However, it was definitely not a sloppy burger. Steve reported back to me and said the beef patties were cooked right to medium rare and it was evident that the ingredients and condiments were fresh.


(FYI, I gave Steve one job: "take a nice, Insta-worthy picture of your burger" and he presented a front-on tight shot of his burger, though I must say the burger is making my stomach grumble at 11:00pm on a Wednesday night...)

I opted for a more modest fish burger to the protest of Steve: "The people who invited us will think what a waste of money inviting this girl who got possibly the least popular burger item on a burger menu ever!" Well, for the fish burger haters, let me say this: It was the best damn fish burger I ever had.


The crumbed fish fillet was cook to crispy perfection and I could taste the fish, rather than the usual sloppy, starchy mess I was used to. We also got sweet potato fries and chips with chilli salt for sides. The serving was generous and the price was fair for a burger eatery right in Hoyts Chadstone.


We thoroughly enjoyed our night out. Watching the latest flick in the new Xtreme Screen auditorium was simply a sensory delight and the wider reclining seats made the experience much more comfortable. Since the reopening of Hoyts Chadstone, I've watched more movies in six months than I had in three years. But now my pre-movie dining options will include Chur Burger too.


SaveSave Disclaimer: I was a guest of Hoyts Chadstone and Chur Burger in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opnions herein are my own and not influenced by the developing company, and/or its affliates, in any way.


Chur Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato