Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Looking towards 2013...

Its been a long time between posts!

Unfortunately I had a few challenges that I needed to overcome towards the end of the year, and when it comes to matters of the heart, sometimes we find it difficult to do the things we love and be the same person we used to be. So, whilst I dealt with those issues, I seemingly (time flew by) took a long hiatus from Suburban Culinary Adventures.

But... I am back. And 2013 will be a new year for me, and for my blog. I have a week in Hobart coming up, and a Europe trip booked for June, and I just can't wait to share all my cooking/eating/dining adventures with you all.

I'm sure you can all only imagine that comfort food was my solace during this time in my life, so I thought as my 'getting back to it' post, I would share with you some of the yumminess I have consumed in the last few months (and I apologize for not giving full posts on each place!) An alternate name for this post could be, "How to cure a broken heart... with food!" Haha.

Enjoy, and have a very Happy New Year.

Homemade berry cheesecake at my Aunty's house

Introduced my QLD-er cousin to Vegie Bar goodness

Yummiest vegan cupcakes ever- Mister Nice Guys bakery in Ascot Vale. I swear to god, these are a cure to a broken heart in themselves. Red Velvet, Cappucino and Pink Lemonade. Cannot wait to go back here!

Hangover breakfast at Kofi Bean in Croydon- Eggs Benedict with Bacon and Avocado on Corn Bread. Yum! Great coffee too.

The ultimate comfort food- Burch and Purchase salted caramel with crushed maltesers on Connoisseur vanilla ice-cream. Yep. I went there. Several times. Amaaaaaaaaazing.

Home-made pizza's and wine with my bestie... Tandoori Prawn and Moroccan Vegetable.

Whittlesea got a noodle shop! Finally, a yummy lunch option at work! Loved this Chicken Pad Thai!

Halloween cheese ball fun!

Pumpkin pizza and Berry Panna Cotta at Pizza Meine Liebe in Northcote. Very cool place, super yummy pizzas and great vibe. Definitely planning to go back there this holidays!

Non-alcoholic cocktail and Chinese Noodle Soup at Chopstix in Sorrento. I highly recommend this as an eating option in Sorrento, awesome place and very cool vibe!

Cupcake decorating at Cupcake Central at Melbourne Central. Very fun way to celebrate a friends birthday, and learnt so much! Have dabbled in a bit of cupcake decorating since. Seriously, cupcakes DO make the world a happier place!

Mushroom Risotto I made using an awesome risotto base from the Taste of Melbourne festival. So easy, it is an Italian brand in a vacuum sealed bag with a blue logo!

Pulled pork sliders at Geebung Polo Club.

So as you can see, whilst I may have stopped blogging, I didn't stop eating and cooking! Lots more to catch up on in the coming week. I hope you are all still enjoying Christmas leftovers and were thoroughly spoilt, and I look forward to sharing more with you in the New Year!
L x

Mister Nice Guy's Bakeshop on Urbanspoon Chopstix Asian Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Palomino, Northcote

Before heading to the Preston Market to stock up on some goodies last weekend, we headed to Palomino in Northcote for breakfast. What a gorgeous little cafe! It reminded me of being invited into someones home, especially when we ate in the little backroom on mismatched stools. The menu is a little of the same- homely, eclectic, Mexican inspired and very different. It was so difficult to decide what to eat. I love unique breakfasts, and this certainly catered to my drive to find new and exciting ways to experience breakfast foods.

I loved my baked eggs with spinach and fetta with sourdough. The creamy baked eggs with the salty feta and buttery spinach was so enjoyable, and it had just the right amount of bread.

Craig's pancetta wrapped egg with spicy baked beans was very Mexican inspired, tasty and gorgeously presented.

Coffee was also fabulous. A successful find in the cafe district of Northcote, definitely one I would return to and try more of their interesting and unique menu! Breakfast doesn't have to be boring people, and Palomino knows this!

Palomino on Urbanspoon

Mamak, CBD

Last weekend, Craig and I headed out to the CBD to see what all the fuss is about at the new Malaysian hotspot, Mamak. Known for its popularity in Sydney, Mamak has quickly become talk of the town. Luckily, we got there early enough that we only lined up for ten minutes and I quite enjoyed the wait watching the open kitchen through the front window as they made roti canai, one of my favourite foods!

We were seated quickly but it took them ages to come and get our order... like half an hour or so. It seems that the staff haven't yet worked out how to cope with the popularity. We chose a few popular dishes off the small menu, but unfortunately, Mamak didn't really impress.

Reknowned for its roti, Mamak ticks the box on that one. The roti was soft, buttery and beautiful. I loved the simple roti canai with spicy curry sauce and would recommend staying with the simple version as the red onion one had a little too much going on for me.

The mains unfortunately were pretty uninspiring. The Nasi Goreng was a little bland, all spice and nothing else. The were about four tiny prawns in the serving, and not much else other than chilli and rice.
The satay sticks were also fairly unimpressive. Quite small for the price, and the dipping sauce was texturally good but didn't have the richness I love in satay sauces. However, this happened quite a bit during our travels to Malaysia as the satay there is more chilli than peanut based.

The fried chicken (not my friend at the best times of times) was not my cup of tea. Covered with a dry, crunchy, spicy coating... it was just, chicken... spicy and fried. Now I am not an expert in the fried chicken area, but Craig is quite fond of it and he commented that the chicken at Gami Chicken and Beer is much more enjoyable.

Overall, not all that impressed. I would return for the roti but not for much else. Mamak is good value, thats for sure, and judging by the Malaysian cohort eating there it is obviously fairly authentic. But for me, it just didn't rock my world. Cheap... yes. Spicy, yes. Tasty... not really? I think I may have missed the hype? I have eaten better Malaysian food at more local places, and I would head there before heading back to Mamak.

Mamak on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Huxtaburger, Collingwood

On Sunday, Craig and I headed into the Europe Expo to book our Europe holiday for next year. How exciting! By combining a 22 day Top Deck as well as some of our own travel, we should see 15 countries in 40 days. As exciting as it is though, handing over that kind of cash (especially when some of it you, uh, don't have yet...) is a very daunting and terrifying thing! So after three hours at the expo, and handing over some serious money, and committing to a hugely exciting holiday, we really needed some comfort food. Craig was about to chew his arm off and refused to wait until we got home so I suggested to him that we stop in Huxtaburger in Smith St (sister restaurant of Huxtable across the road, which is high on my wish-list) and finally try what some tout as the best burgers in town.

And... they were! As much as I love Burger Lounge, and the huge variety they have availabke, there was something about Huxtaburger that was so much more simple. They do simple burgers, and they do them bloody well. Out of the four burgers on offer, we both chose the very basic Huxtaburger, with beef, mustard, mayo, tomato sauce, tomato, cheese, lettuce and pickles on a gorgeous soft brioche bun. The soft, sweet bun really makes it, and holds it all together, and the condiments compliment each other perfectly. We also shared some of the chipotle fries, which were just spicy crinkle cut chips. Not mind-blowing, but then again, I was very much focused on the burger! I can see why there are lines out the door to have one of these burgers... the perfect way to celebrate our excitement for Europe... and comfort ourselves after spending our life savings ;)

Huxtaburger on Urbanspoon

New houses, European adventures and food!

Things are finally up and running at our new house, and I have finally found time to sit down and blog. Because of the move, I have to say I haven't eaten out as much as I usually do. However, this is going to become the norm since Craig and I have just booked our Euro-trip 2013! We are now officially in hibernation as we save, save, save but won't it be worth it when we visit 15 countries in 40 days next year and revel in a European summer whilst Australia is having a cold winter! So that is very exciting and I am jumping out of my skin... but, first things first... our new house!

We are loving our gorgeous little new home. For a rental, we really lucked out. Compared to our last place, which was a 70's style brick unit complete with the spew green carpets and pink walls, this feels like a holiday home! A little grey weatherboard with light-filled rooms, a big backyard for Ollie to play in and polished floorboards. Because we have been too busy to eat out, I have been doing lots of cooking in our gorgeous little kitchen...

Heres a rundown of what I have been eating lately!

Our first meal in our new place. We managed to put together one flat pack coffee table and sat on folding chairs whilst Craig enjoyed a burger and onion rings from Burger Lounge and I stayed healthy and feasted on some sushi and seaweed salad.
My gorgeous new kitchen! There wasn't a lot of bench space so we bought a floating bench top on wheels from IKEA. It was only $89 and I love it! Have screwed some little hooks into it so I hang stuff off it also :)
Our first breakfast in our new house :)
Moroccan chicken salad (recipe coming!)
Flathead tails with steamed veggies and sweet potato chips
Parmesan chicken schnitzel with a cauliflower and mint couscous (recipe coming!)
Stuffed sweet potato with guacamole (recipe coming!)
Bun Bo- Vietnamese noodle salad with stir-fried pork (recipe coming!)
Family BBQ on a gorgeous sunny afternoon
Dinner party with our new table and chairs :) Roast Pumpkin parpadelle (recipe here)
And my little mate Ollie, waiting at the door for Mummy :)
I promise to get back into the blog-o-sphere this week, so stay tuned for a few reviews and recipes!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Moving house and internet issues...

Hello hello!

Just letting you all know that I have not dropped off the face off the earth, but have been moving house and my internet is yet to be reconnected. Make sure you keep checking in as I am hoping to do lots and lots of cooking in my fabulous new kitchen.

Until then, I am still able to upload via mobile on Instagram, so for yummy photos add Suburban Culinary Adventures on there!
Until then,
L x

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Gluten-free Lemon Yogurt Cake

Since I have been on my 'clean' eating journey this year I have discovered so many different ways of baking. And lets face it, I have never been all that good at baking anyway, so being able to cook sugar free and gluten free baked goods and not stuff them up is quite an achievement for me! Who knew that you could bake cakes and cookies without sugar, butter or flour!? Well you can, and the result is very enjoyable.

I have tried a few different versions of gluten free lemon cake this year, and this is by far the most moist and yummy! It is a super easy recipe that can be very quickly whipped up with the addition of a few new 'clean' items to your pantry. I guarantee it is worth investing in some of these pantry essentials as you WILL make this cake more than once!

Lemon Yogurt Cake
1 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup of Natvia (natural sweetener)
large pinch of salt
4 eggs
1/4 honey
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup of soy milk

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix until thoroughly mixed.

In another bowl, beat the eggs and add the rest of the wet ingredients, including the lemon zest, and mix to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat until a thick batter. Note that compared to baking with normal flour, the texture is quite different and thick.

Pour into a greased round cake tin and bake for 30 mins or prick with a skewer and make sure skewer comes out dry. The middle of my cake felt a bit wobbly but firmed up on cooling.

Dust with some icing sugar or vanilla dust to serve if you like, or keep it completely sugar free! 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Moroccan Lamb with Chickpea Bake

Every since my visit to Moroccan Soup Bar a few weeks ago, I have been craving the gorgeous chickpea and yogurt bake which I have since discovered is called 'fetteh'. To my delight, a fellow blogger has come up with a similar recipe which I made and tweaked a little the other night. It was a really easy and satisfying recipe to make, and a perfect accompaniment to the beautiful young lamb that I slow cooked in Moroccan spices for a do it yourself Moroccan dinner at home.

For the chickpea bake (fetteh) I followed this recipe. However, I substituted the olive oil for butter as when talking to the waitress at the Soup Bar when commenting how much I loved the dish she had replied, "Its the butter that makes it!". I also added a tablespoon of honey as per the comments at the bottom of the recipe which added a nice sweetness. The crunch of the slivered almonds and toasted pita adds a gorgeous crunch to the soft, yogurty chickpeas!

I served this with some slow cooked Moroccan lamb that I cooked in my tagine. This worked well with the chickpeas, but would also be beautiful with pilaf or couscous. I used the leftover lamb on homemade pita pizzas the next day which were beautiful. The beauty of leftovers ;)
Moroccan Lamb (serves 4 with leftovers)

1 kg of diced lean baby lamb
1 sweet potato chopped into 1-2 cm pieces
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup of beef stock
1 tablespoon honey
Large handful parsley chopped
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 140 degrees C.

In an oven safe frypan or tagine, over the stove heat a little oil and add lamb. Cook until lightly browned all over, then remove and set aside. Add to same pan onion and garlic. Saute until soft, then add all spices. Saute until coated. Add beef stock and honey, then re-add lamb and transfer to oven, covered, for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, add sweet potato and parsley, and place back in oven for 45 minutes.

I had to replace mine on the stove for 15 minutes to reduce the liquid.

Serve with chickpea bake as above, or pilaf, or couscous.


Maybe even use your leftovers for a beautiful pizza like I did ;)


Egg and lots of other yummies in a Bread Nest

This breakfast occurred to make the most of some rolls we had leftover from Grand Final Day festivities. We don't often eat white bread in this house, but it needed to used up, so I thought why not fill the rolls with lots of healthy yummies... After a bit of creativity, we enjoyed crunchy bread nests filled with lots of breakfast yummies. You could add ANYTHING to this recipe, whatever you had in the cupboard!

Eggs in a Bread Nest (serves 2)

2 bread roll
1/2 onion, sliced
1 large mushroom, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
Small handful of spinach, shredded
1/4 cup grated cheese
2 eggs
Olive oil
Mixed herbs
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Remove the top of the rolls and scoop out as much inside bread as you can whilst still leaving thick 'nest' walls. Brush the inside of the rolls with a little melted butter.

In a small saucepan, heat a tiny bit of olive oil or butter and saute onion and mushroom until soft. Divide mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, spinach and cheese evenly between the two bread nests. It should fill the rolls up to about 3/4 of the hole. Gently crack an egg into each bread nest. Sprinkle with some mixed herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

Place in an oven for 15-20 minutes or until egg is cooked to your desired consistency. If you want your yolk soft, keep an eye on it! Mine ended up half soft, half cooked but that was okay as it meant the whites were perfectly cooked. Wait until you see all the yummy insides ooze out once you cut into the roll.

A yummy treat for brunch!


Mexican Chicken, Bean and Quinoa Bake

I just had to make this yummy bake after my friend bought it into work and filled our staffroom with the delicious Mexican aroma at lunchtime! I was surprised by how easy this was to make, and it tasted delicious and the recipe made HEAPS so great for the budget conscious and families. The use of quinoa makes it a gluten-free alternative, and also generally healthier alternative than pasta or rice due to its higher protein, fibre, mineral and amino-acid levels. It is also such an easy way to hide stacks of vegetables in a dish.
Mexican Chicken, Bean and Quinoa Bake
 Serves 6-8 or 4 with leftovers
1 cup cooked quinoa (I used black and white combined, cook per packet directions)
2 chicken breasts - pre-cooked in oven then shredded
1 cans of beans (your choice, I used 5 bean mix)
1 large sweet potatoes, grated
1 large zucchini, grated
1 large carrot, grated
1 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tbsp chilli powder (optional)
Liberal pinches salt and pepper
2 eggs
1 tub of salsa

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Prepare casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix together the quinoa, chicken, beans, sweet potato, zucchini, carrot 1⁄2 of the cheese, and the cumin, chilli, salt, and pepper.
In a small bowl, mix together the eggs and the salsa. Pour the
salsa mixture over the mix, combine and then pour everything into the prepared casserole dish.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Red Spice Road, CBD

Red Spice Road caters to the 'it' style of eating in Melbourne at the moment- fancy Asian fusion served sharing style. Apparently Red Spice Road has been kicking some goals in this area long before some of its newer competitors opened up, but I couldn't help comparing RSR to Chin Chin and some of the other tapas style sharing menu's I have tried.

The restaurant is aethestically pleasing- long communal tables with a very tasteful Asian theme, beautiful lighting and a massive gorgeous red lantern (biggest in the world apparently!) hanging from the roof. I couldn't complain about the service. We had a lovely bubbly waitress who was helpful and cheery and efficient.

But somewhere in our $65 banquet, something missed the mark. There was something lacking in the food at RSR. Quality Asian food should punch you in the mouth with flavour- sweet, sour, salty, spicy. Unfortunately, many of the dishes at RSR were just too bland and Western for my particular taste. There were some dishes that were absolutely beautiful, real ripper dishes, but I missed something zesty and spicy with loads of flavour, and felt instead swamped by heavy Westernised dishes.

The entrees were both hit and miss.

The betel leaves with chicken, coconut, crab, chilli and kaffir lime was not spicy enough. A bite size leave needs to pack a punch in my opinion, and these didn't, although still tasted nice.

The scallop with sweet pork sausage, cucumber and green onion also needed some heat, although beautifully presented.

The twice cooked lamb ribs with tamarind and coconut relish was the absolute winner of the entrees. Beautiful, tender spiced lamb fell off the bone and made you want to suck the juices off the bone. The relish was a perfect accompaniment and had me scooping more and more onto my lamb. A gorgeous, balanced dish that allowed the lamb to be the star.

The chicken, lemongrass, chilli, tomato, shallot and lime juice salad was one of the disappointing dishes. The banquet really needed a salad to cut through all the heavy foods, especially in the mains. Something spicy and zesty with loads of Asian herbs. This was not that salad. It was bland, lacked texture and had a real balance issue with way too much chicken mince and not enough greens or chilli.

The corn fritters were also quite disappointing. I was expecting something similar to Chin Chin's crispy corn fritters that pack a spicy punch but these were doughy and lacking spice, also didn't seem to have much corn in them at all!

The pork belly with apple slaw, chilli caramel and black vinegar was the star of the banquet, and one of RSR's signature dishes. Crispy on the outside, melt in your mouth on the inside, and topped with a gorgeous apple slaw and sauce, we made sure this was evenly distributed between the four of us! This was RSR's saving grace for me, a real winner!

The barramundi curry with potato and roasted carrot was also not my kind of food. It was too heavy, not spicy in the slightest and the rockling was overdone and somewhat chewy.

The beef cheek with mushrooms, crunchy bean shoot salad and spicy broth was an enjoyable main. The beef cheeks were fall apart tender, and super tasty. I am a sucker for bean shoots so loved that addition, and the broth was delicious however not at all spicy. I am not even a huge fan of chilli, but I do love that punch that good Asian food carries, where the chilli kick is noticable but not overpowering, and this food just didn't give that to me.

Dessert was another saving grace. I am a huge fan of Asian desserts and the Pandan cream with puffed wild rice, peanut praline and coconut was one of those classic inventive and memorable desserts that use beautiful Asian flavours. Absolutely loved every mouthful of this creamy, crunchy treat, even though I was pretty chock full by this point in the banquet!

So, would I say that Red Spice Road is one of the 'must try' Melbourne Asian fusion restaurants? Probably not. I would definitely direct anyone that asked to Chin Chin and Longrain before I would suggest Red Spice Road. A pleasant dining experience, yes, and nice food, yes... but not mind-blowing. I would honestly rather smaller servings of quality food than the generous servings of so-so heavy dishes we had for the price. Except that pork... next time, give me a serve of ribs, two serves of pork and dessert, and I would be a happy little camper!

Red Spice Road on Urbanspoon