feeling just a little bit lucky…

… and a lot old!

when i was twelve years old, my world revolved around the backstreet boys and i was convinced i was going to one day be, mrs nick. carter (insert lovey-eyes here). flash-forward seventeen years and not only have my backstreet boys cds been left unplayed for the better part of a decade and a half, but i can’t even remember all of the bsb’s names – some fan i am.

anyway, when it was announced the backstreet boys were coming to perth to perform my girlfriends and i (all of whom incidentally were once equally convinced that they too would marry nick carter) just had to go and relive our innocent youth. my mum always told me that if i couldn’t say anything night i shouldn’t say anything at all, so i’ll keep my comments on the actual concert short. firstly boys, no-one bought tickets to your concert to hear your new music. sorry, but we were all there to bring backstreet back and i wanted it that way (ha ha, see what i did there…); and secondly, no matter how hot you all were twenty years ago, now that we are all grown-up, there was something intensely awkward about watching 45-year-old men stand up on stage and shimmy their hips like they used to in the old days. let’s just say that by the end of the night my cheeks were aching from all the laughing.

but before our night of awkward, middle-aged shimmying, the girls and i hit up the new kid on the northbridge block – lucky chan’s laundry and noodle bar. i. love. this. place. the cocktails? amazing. the food? to die for. the atmosphere? so much fun. and to top it all off, on our way out we discovered there is a rooftop bar upstairs. we will so totally be back soon. any place that is hidden away behind the facade of an old laundry shop and sells gorgeous, crispy, glutenous, juicy pork belly and oriental cocktails holds a very important place in my heart (and, more importantly, in my stomach).

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^^the sneaky little laundry facade^^

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^^complete with waving kitty cats^^

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^^why yes, little piggy, i think i will partake in one of your glorious beverages or two or four…^^

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^^funky little personalised fortune cookies. an sweet little touch to finish off a great meal^^

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introducing the newest member of our family…

…trixi the thermomixi!

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she’s been a part of our family for about 3 weeks now and has already become an invaluable member (or so thatch and I think anyway; rod on the other hand only just plucked up the courage to try her out for the first time tonight).

thatch and i are really enjoying our morning green juices full of whole fruits and vegetables and I’m really enjoying being able to cook dinner (or dessert, whatever) whilst having a shower and dicing an onion without sobbing uncontrollably.

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for the love of grilled cheese

imageis there any truer joy than the joy of a perfectly crunchy, perfectly gooey, perfectly perfect toasted cheese sandwich? this may be a slight over exaggeration given that i get somewhat more joy from my family and friends than i do from shovelling my face full of shallow-fried bread and cheese. nonetheless, my love for toasted cheese sandwiches is the single most compelling reason i could never become a carb-free vegan.

in about two months i am probably going to look back on this post and ask myself why on earth I wrote an ode to a grilled cheese sandwich. and the answer is quite simple – dairy and I are in love and nothing can stand between us. we have been in a rather exclusive relationship for the past 34 weeks (yep, just checked my calendar, I am 34 weeks pregnant) and it just satisfies and fulfils me in a way nothing else can. we are meant to be together (at least until little miss in born, anyway). so, as you can see i am infatuated and clearly cannot see reason…

and that is why i was so excited when i walked past toastface grillah and could finally succumb to its irresistible temptation which has been haunting endlessly me for the past six months or so since i first noticed it. this place is right up my alley (see what i did there? huh, huh, huh?) being that it is a funky little café, located down a back alley (and we know how i love anything located down an unassuming alleyway) on barrack street in the city that specialises in – wait for it – toasted sandwiches!!! …heaven, i’m in heaven

i opted for the simple toasted cheddar sandwich and a small coffee, because when it ain’t broke don’t fix it. but if you are a little more ambitious with your toasted sandwich selection there is sure to be something on the menu that will float your boat including the ‘brie & jam’ (which is exactly what the label says along with a little mozzarella for good measure) and the ‘pear grillz’ (blue cheese, pear and lime chutney) among others. the coffee was nothing special – except for the price. where else can you get a flat white for $3.50 in Perth? – but the sandwich, oh the sandwich… the bread was buttery and crispy and crunchy and awesome. the cheese was oozy and gooey and tasty and divine. and really there is little more that can be said about a toasted cheese sandwich is there? but believe me, it was good.

i still cannot fathom the fact that it has taken me so long to sample the wares at toastface grillah and now that i have finally found it, i only have another week and half to enjoy it before i go on leave (leave, can i call it that? i’ll be busy finishing off the renovations, decorating, studying for and sitting exams, looking after thatcher and getting ready for little miss’ arrival). but i am totally sure that in that week and a half i am going to find at least one reason to pop of down and stuff my face with that cheesy bready goodness. t’face grillah, here i come…

chocolate & caramel layered easter cake


for the last few years now it has become a bit of a tradition that over the easter long weekend I make a huge, decadent chocolatey cake that i wouldn’t normally have the time for. this generally means that it involves multiple layers, millions of calories, cream, butter, oodles of sugar and lashings of chocolate, so when i saw this cake on the cover of the Coles Easter magazine I knew what this year’s cake was going to be…

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what you’ll need:

-320g dark chocolate

– 225g butter (at room temperature) + extra 20g

– 1 cup caster sugar

– 9 eggs separated

– 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

– 1/2 cup brown sugar

-300ml cream

– 600ml thickened cream (whipped)

– 1 1/2 tbs slivered almonds (toasted)

– 1/4 caster sugar

– 150g dark chocolate

 

how to make it:

1. Preheat oven to 170oC. Line and grease 2x round spring-form tins.

2. Melt 220g dark chocolate. Set aside.

3. Beat 225g butter, 1 cup caster sugar and egg yolks until smooth. Beat in melted chocolate. Fold in sifted flour.

4. Beat egg whites to soft peaks. fold into chocolate mixture in 3 batches.

5. Pour 2/3 of the cake mixture into one cake tin and remaining 1/3 into the other tin. Bake both cakes for 20-25 mins, remove the smaller cake and allow to cool, leave the larger cake to cook for a further 20-25 mins. let cakes cool completely.

6. Meanwhile, make the caramel sauce by adding the brown sugar, 20g extra butter and 1/2 cup cream to a saucepan. Heat over medium heat for about 2 minutes until the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens. Put in fridge to cool.

7. Now, to make the chocolate praline shards for the top of the cake (yummy). Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Start with the praline – add 1/4 cup caster sugar and 2tbs water to saucepan. Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves then turn heat to high and Allow the sugar syrup to caramelise. Pour the gorgeous amber sugar over the first of the bKing trays and immediately sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Stick the praline in the fridge for a few minutes to set. Once hard, take to it with a hammer (or knife, or any tool of your choosing) and break the praline up into small pieces. Set aside the praline while you melt 150g of dark chocolate. Thinly (2-3mm) spread the melted chocolate over the second baking tray and sprinkle wi half of the praline pieces. leave chocolate to chill in the fridge until you are ready to decorate your cake.

8. The last element to make is the chocolate ganache. Heat the remaining I whipped cream Ina saucepan. Bring to the boil and then pour over the remaining dark chocolate. Leave it to sit for a few minutes and then give mixture a stir. again let it cool.

9. To assemble your masterpiece, split the larger of the two cakes into two even layers. Spread the bottom layer with half of the whipped cream and then half of the caramel sauce. Repeat with the second layer. Place the final layer of cake on top. Spread with the chocolate ganache and decorate with the dark chocolate praline shards.

happy Easter (or birthday, or any day really).

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luscious chocolate cloud cake

i have been making this cake for years and it is always a winner in this household. i first found the recipe in my absolute favourite recipe book, nigella lawson’s ‘how to be a domestic goddess’. i gave it a bit of a shake up by omitting the cointreau and orange zest from her recipe (we’re not huge fans of Jaffas over here) and it was so delicious i’ve been doing it the same way ever since.

what you’ll need
250g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70 per cent cocoa solids)
125g butter
6 eggs (2 whole and 4 separated)
3/4 cup of caster sugar
500ml thickened cream
a dash of vanilla essence

how to make it
1. pre-heat oven to 180oC (160oC fan forced). line and grease a 23cm round springform pan.
2. melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler. once melted, add in the butter and let it gently melt into the chocolate. stir.
3. lightly beat together the 2 whole eggs, 4 egg yolks and 1/4 cup of caster sugar until well combined and sugar has dissolved. add to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.
4. in a separate bowl beat the 4 egg whites until soft peaks form. gradually add in the remaining sugar and beat until sugar has dissolved.
5. to lighten the chocolate and egg yolk mixture, gently fold through one dollop of egg whites. once combined fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate in 2 batches.
6. spoon batter into pan and bake for 35-45 minutes until the cake has risen in the centre and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
7. leave the cake in the pan to cool. do not be alarmed, it is supposed to sink in the middle.
8. while you are waiting for the cake to cool, whip the cream and vanilla into soft peaks. spoon the cloud of cream into the well that has formed in the middle of the cake and garnish with cocoa powder or grated chocolate.
9. slice and enjoy.

this cake is perfect for making in advance as it only gets more dense and mousse-like after refrigeration. (just don’t put the cream on until right before you serve it). it may not be the prettiest cake you’ve ever made, but by golly is it yumm!

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^^the best part of baking, hey baby?!?^^20140409-202906.jpg

easy carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing

what better way to start a lazy wednesday than with a little bit of baking? and with my sous chef by my side, i whipped up these quick and easy carrot cupcakes to take along to our playdate…

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Ingredients

CUPCAKES: 2/3 cup of plain wholemeal flour; 1/3 cup of caster sugar; 3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate soda (I may have misread the original recipe and only put 1/4 teaspoon in – no wonder they didn’t really rise); 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 2/3 cup roughly chopped brasil nuts; 2/3 cup roughly chopped almonds; 1/3 cup coconut oil; 1 large egg; 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2/3 cup; firmly packed grated carrot; 1/4 cup well-drained crushed pineapple (in juice).
CREAM CHEESE ICING: 60g softened cream cheese; 30g softened butter; 1 cup icing sugar; 1 tsp lemon juice.Makes 10 cupcakes.
Directions

1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C if using a fan-forced oven). 2. Line or grease a 12-hole muffin tray (you will only need to use 10 holes though). 3. Sift flour, sugar, bicarbonate soda and cinnamon together in a large bowl. 4. Stir in chopped nuts and mix until well combined. 5. In a separate bowl mix together the oil, egg, vanilla extract, carrot and pineapple. 6. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until well combined (it is quite a dry mixture, but don’t worry the cupcakes will still be deliciously moist). 7. Distribute the mixture evenly between 10 muffin cases. 8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. 9. Allow the cupcakes to cool before icing. 10. To make icing mix together the cream cheese, butter, icing sugar and lemon juice in an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. 11. Ice the cupcakes and enjoy!

DSC_0128  ^^our very roughly chopped nuts. i recommend leaving them quite chunky as they add a delicious textural and grown-up element to the cupcakes^^

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^^i’m not quite sure if the entire quota of nuts actually made it into the cupcakes as someone kept helping himself^^DSC_0131  ^^serious business this baking thing^^DSC_0133DSC_0135

^^the dry ingredients prior to thatcher being armed with a wooden spoon^^DSC_0138 DSC_0140 DSC_0142^^to the victor go the spoils – his favourite part of baking^^
DSC_0144^^umm, yum^^

i may have gotten distracted vacuuming the house while these were in the oven and i didn’t hear my baking alarm so they were cooked a little longer than suggested and a little crunchy around the edges, but that was not necessarily a bad thing as i love a crunchy crust on my cakes. also, the icing was a little runny so i may alter the recipe a little next time around (as well as using the recommended amount of bicarbonate soda and perhaps substituting a banana for the caster sugar).

Recipe inspired by this one from one handed cooks.

white lady boy for table 225

in the painfully hip Brookfield Place lies the Asian fusion eatery known simply as the daily apple. nestled between print hall and bob’s bar it is the perfect meat in this oh so trendy nightspot sandwich.

so when we got the invitation to catch up with some dear friends of ours for some cocktails and share plates at apple daily I was super excited. dressed in my most hipster get up (or the most hipster get up you can find in maternity wear – skinny jeans, shirt buttoned up to the top and a choker necklace worn like a tie) – rod and I toddled down into the city like one of those child free and trendy couples who are seasoned participants in Friday night drinkies.

given the fact that im up the duff, i started the evening off with a refreshing citrus mocktail. rod, true to form, couldn’t be bothered to read the drinks menu and instead asked for a ‘citrus surprise’ – something alcoholic and citrusy. and my what a citrus surprise he received when he was presented with a gorgeous martini glass half full of lemony liquid and garnished with little tiny purple flowers. “your white lady boy, sir” said the waitress with a chuckle as she placed the drink down in front of him. leaving aside the name and the less-than-manly glassware, rod assures me it was a very pleasant way to start the night. ;-P

and then we got into the good stuff; the food. i think between the four of us we managed to order just about everything on the menu: saltwater duck, crispy soft-shell crab, pork rolls, mandarin duck, pork ribs, vegetable fried rice, the list goes on. by far the stand out dishes of the night were the pork ribs and soft-shell crab. i could quite happily eat these everyday for the rest of my life and never get sick of them. oh, that spicy nam jim sauce, I would put you on everything…

the atmosphere of apple daily could not be faulted either. it was vibrant and bustling and just felt full of life, but we could still easily hold a conversation without having to yell at each other across the table.

so as i sit here tonight in my pyjamas with my bowl of icecream, reminiscing about the night when I was cool and young and hip (well at least I thought I was) all I can think is that I will definitely be going back to apple daily some time soon – so long as I can find another maternity friendly hipster outfit.

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^^^who ordered the white lady boy?^^

the life and times of a babychino

as I was working down in beautiful albany last week, rod and I thought we would make a weekend of it and go exploring the gorgeous southwest region. so, bright and early (as it always is with an 18 month old) saturday morning we headed down to frederick’s cafe where we stuffed our faces full of eggs benedict, Turkish bread toast, bacon, delicious coffee and t’s first babychino. it took until the very last sip to finally work out what to do with it and stop using it as a facial mask, but although very little of it made it into his mouth, he had an amazing time along the way…

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ah, miss kitty’s you’ve done it again

after our first visit to miss kitty’s saloon a few months ago, rod and I both agreed that we would definitely be back there (it helped that it is only around the corner from our house). having said that, it took until last friday night for us to finally make it back.

rod and I and a few of our friends hit up miss kitty’s for a late dinner and drinks for my birthday and it couldn’t have been a more perfect place! we gorged ourselves on corn fritters and hot wing pancake and ribs and (two serves) of chilli fries and my new favourite miss kitty’s dish – the pork nuggets. I think we may have even had more food than that, but after the staff brought out our free round of birthday shots i fear that my memories of my 28th birthday celebrations are less than clear…

thanks miss kitty’s we love you.

ps. since rod found out that you serve wings for breakfast, it has been everything I could do to keep him from knocking down your door every morning. although, it is his birthday next week, so I may just have to succumb and let him at ’em.

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^^he wasn’t at miss kitty’s, but get him a scoop of bubblegum ice cream and he will forgive you for anything^^

T and the very very dark chocolate

what kind of toddler eats 70% cocoa dark chocolate? evidently one does and it appears that he not only ate it, but enjoyed it too!

the little rascal opened the pantry and just helped himself to my block of dark chocolate and there was no way he was going to voluntarily put it back – he even tried to share it with the dog.

after about half a square I thought it time to intervene and let’s just say the terrible twos are starting early in this household…

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