Thursday, 26 February 2015


February's #Brunchclub meetup at Sachies's Kitchen 

This month's #Brunchclub event was a bit different. Instead of chatting over brunch we went to Sachies's Kitchen for a class on dumpling making. We were split into teams and had a Masterchef style cook-off. Team Bonsai didn't get off to the best start with the origami folding and Chinese whispers challenges but we picked up some vital points with the taste and presentation of our dumplings (the most important points) to finish a respectable second place. After eating our dumplings we all sat down for a chat with the team from Contiki about their new tour, Japan unrivalled

Sachie was a fantastic teacher.
Getting our steam on.
Pan-fried to perfection. 
I decided to see how well I had paid attention and make the dumplings again at home. I went to Mt Roskill Fresh which is my go-to Asian supermarket to get the ingredients which were pretty affordable. Dumpling pastry (pack of 60) was $3.20 and pork mince $7/kg. There were three grades of pork mince (fatty, prime and premium) and as per Sachies instructions I went for a fatty mince to give the dumplings a juicy quality. 

I have a dumpling press which I got at Daiso for $3.50, I've also seen them at Japanmart. I thought this would be quicker than hand folding but it turned out I was as quick hand folding as Matt was with the press (although he did he keep over-filling it). The press doesn't allow for as much filling as hand-folded as it has a wider edge but if you can't get the knack of hand-folding then this is a great tool for making dumplings at home and they look very professional too. 

I think they turned out pretty well and I even made enough to freeze some for later. Just place the dumplings on a chopping board and put it in the freezer, when frozen chuck them in a ziplock bag. Boom! Just as good as store bought. 

Thanks to our amazing #Brunchclub organisers LauraMaddy and Lizzy, Sachie and her team at Sachies Kitchen and Contiki for a fantastic event! Also thanks to Edward Weaver for letting me use the great photos he took at the event. 

This is a great chinese dumpling recipe and step-by-step guide on how to fold dumplings. There is also this video made by the dumpling sister's which is really helpful. 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Bitches Love Feijoas Part Two

Feijoa And Coconut Cake

I love feijoas, I think 98% of people do but my lovely flatmate is in the 2%. Not only does she not like the taste of feijoas she also doesn’t like the smell and as we had bowls of feijoas overflowing on the kitchen the table the smell of feijoas was permeating every corner of the house.  I decided to put her out of her misery and get my feijoa baking on. 

My go-to source for feijoa recipes is this awesome blog, aptly named Feijoa Feijoa. I chose this recipe for Feijoa and Coconut cake, actually there were quite a few recipes for feijoa and coconut cake (a popular combination) but this one looked the most interesting with ginger and lime and it used the most feijoas. Some cakes had only 4 or 6 feijoas, surely you can barely taste them in a whole cake? 
I took half the cake to the lab for morning tea and it was very warmly received. One person who came late just kept cutting off tiny corners until she asked us to take it away from her. It is very moist and you can really taste the feijoa, which is what you want when you are baking a feijoa cake after all).

It was an easy recipe to make (method wise) but I used my flatmate’s KitchenAid (the one who hates feijoas) which I guess is kind of cheating. 

§  2 cups feijoa flesh
§  ¼ cup lime juice (My god limes are expensive! I used 1 lime and 3 lemons)
§  150g butter
§  1 ½ cups caster sugar
§  3 eggs, separated
§  2 cups desiccated coconut (I used threaded as it was all we had and it worked really well)
§  2 cups flour
§  2 teaspoons ground ginger
§  2 teaspoons creme of tartar
§  1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
§  1 teaspoon baking powder
§  1 pinch salt
§  1 cup milk (if necessary) – I used a splash of milk but it probably didn’t need it.

1.       Scoop the feijoa flesh into a bowl and pour over the lime juice. Set aside while you continue with the recipe.
2.       In a (very) large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Beat in the egg yolks.
3.       Fold in the coconut and sifted dry ingredients. Add the fruit. At this point I was thinking there was no way there was enough moisture and added the splash of milk but once the mixing got going it was actually fine so maybe hold off        on the milk until you’re sure (If necessary, add some milk, bit by bit).
4.       Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the cake mixture.
5.       Turn into a well-greased and lined 23 or 25cm cake tin.
6.       Bake at 180°C for 1 hour or until cooked. The recipe said to put several layers of newspaper under the tin after about 30 minutes and I didn’t quite understand it. Put the newspaper in the oven? Won’t it catch fire? I didn’t do it and           the    cake was fine. Cool for 10 minutes before turning out.

* I did not intentionally take the photo with a slice missing, Matthew had a midnight snack. 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Bitches Love Feijoas

Roasted Feijoa Shortcake

With the feijoa season in full swing and a new flatmate moving in I decided to get my bake on and make something for dessert. I was flipping through old cuisine magazine issues and found a recipe for roasted feijoa shortcake. Roasting feijoas with brown sugar intensifies the flavour, or it said, sounds good to me. Three quarters of the way through and Matthew takes a look at the recipe, luckily he did as it has ground almond in it and our new flatmate is allergic nuts. Whoops!  I will be much more careful in future. Matthew very kindly made Lucy a nut-free dessert of feijoas, cream and feijoa sauce.

This recipe was really easy and very tasty. I took some in for the lab mates and they liked it (but I think they like all free food). The feijoa sauce was delicious and would go well with other desserts or just ice cream. 

 24 feijoas, halved, flesh scooped out with a teaspoon
1⁄2 cup brown sugar
125g butter
125g caster sugar 
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
250g flour
140g ground almonds
icing sugar and whipped cream to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Put the feijoas in an ovenproof tray just big enough to hold them in a single layer and sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbling and browned. Set aside to cool.

2. Put the butter, caster sugar and lemon zest in a food processor then process until creamy and pale. Add the egg and process well to combine.

3. Add the baking powder, flour and almonds and process until well mixed.

4. Knead the dough very briefly on a floured surface then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Remove the dough from the fridge and stand for 5 minutes or until it is soft enough to roll out. Divide in half then roll one half out on a floured surface to line a 35cm x 10cm rectangular tin (the pastry will be quite crumbly so just patch it together, making sure not to leave any gaps).

5. Drain the feijoas well, reserving the syrup. Spread the feijoas evenly over the dough in the tart tin. Roll out the remaining dough to make a rectangle to cover the feijoas then crimp the edges together to seal. 

6. Bake for 30 minutes or until well cooked. Serve warm with whipped cream, drizzled with the reserved syrup and dusted with icing sugar.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Zomato Foodie Meet Up - Three Lamps Bar & Eatery

I was lucky enough to be invited to April's Zomato Foodie Meet Up which was held at Three Lamps Bar & Eatery. Zomato is a relatively new (to New Zealand) online restaurant guide with restaurant menus and information as well as reviews and a mobile app. Reviewers are ranked based on points given for a review and 'thanks' given. The website encourages a 'foodie community' where you are able to follow, comment and thank reviewers for reviews and photos*. They reward reviewers with restaurant vouchers with their write for a bite competition as well as holding Foodie Meet Ups each month. 

This was my first time at Three Lamps Bar & eatery and they definitely made an a great first impression. I love my craft beers so I was amazed to learn that Three Lamps have 222 different beers, that's a whole lotta beer! They pride themselves on their extensive craft beer collection and have over 100 craft beers for $9. Fortunately their staff is very knowledgeable about the beers and are able to make helpful suggestions. They had Emerson’s on tap but I wanted to try something new so told them that I liked Emerson’s bookbinder and was given Trooper, created by Iron Maiden (yes, that Iron Maiden) and brewed by Robinsons. It was a spot on recommendation. Their beers on tap also change regularly. Three Lamps have a beer club and host events where they invite a brewery to showcase their beer which is matched with food. Past breweries include Moa, Tuatara and Shippers.

For the Foodie Meet Up we were served a selection of entrées, mains and desserts to share each with a beer match. I wish I had taken notes about the different beers but I didn't want to look a nerd. Also apologies about the quality of the photos, it was dark and I don't have any photography skills*. 

To start we had a trio of seafood dishes paired with Harrington’s Saddler Lager. The dishes were; Whiskey Cured Salmon with Horseradish Cream Cheese and Fish Tacos, Sizzling Chilli & Garlic Prawns. They were all delicious and I would happily order any of them again but the standout dish was the Whiskey Cured Salmon which was served with beetroot and bread. The beetroot had been marinated in balsamic vinegar and orange and while the salmon didn’t taste too strongly of salmon it was perfectly accompanied with the horseradish cream cheese. 

Next were the Beef Cheek Sliders and Mushroom & Blue Cheese Sliders paired with the Liberty Yakima Monster APA. I’m a huge blue cheese fan so I slightly preferred the mushroom slider but the Beef Cheek slider was also fantastic, it had a wonderful tangy sauce and a healthy amount of melted cheese.The buns were light and fluffy and tasted they were fresh out of the oven. 

The first main was the Crispy Skin Salmon & Risotto with Wasabi and Capsicum Coulis and was paired with the Baird Rising Sun Pale Ale. This was one of my standout dishes for the evening. The risotto was prawn and lime and it was creamy and delicious. It wasn’t too rich as some risottos can be as it had plenty of lime which really cut through the cream. The salmon was cooked to perfection with a beautiful crispy skin and moist flesh. The wasabi coulis was good but I couldn’t really taste the wasabi flavour. The dish was also one of the most impressive looking of the evening. 

The Boil Up was next and was paired with the Dogfish 60 Minute IPA, aptly named as it is continuously hopped with more than 60 hop additions over a 60 minute boil. I haven’t had boil up in years so I was very excited to try this dish. It was a very large portion which would be perfect for sharing and was served with crusty bread to dip in the soup. The soup was delicious and hearty, full of veggies and hebs as well as pork bones and doughboys (herb dumplings). The doughboys, which are made from suet, were quite small but I really liked the flavour from the herbs and seasonings. 

The Venison Pie was paired with Newcastle Brown Ale and served with pumpkin and kumara mash and broccoli and cabbage cooked in cream. The pie had a beautiful, puff pastry top which was crispy and light. I am used to the taste of wild venison (thanks Dad!) and found the meat very mild in taste so it would be good for people who aren’t keen on venison due to the gamey flavour. The mash was flavoursome and not too lumpy (as my pumpkin/kumara mash often is) and the broccoli and cabbage was well seasoned. This is definitely a dish I could see myself ordering in the middle of winter. 

The Lamb Three Ways was the final main and was paired with the Flying Dog Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout (fun fact, it is made with oysters). The three ways were shepherd’s pie, crumbed cutlets and roast shoulder with baby vegetables. The shepherd’s pie was served in an adorable little saucepan (I’m pretty sure I need one) and had a lovely crispy cheese top and flavoursome meat mixture below. It wasn’t too soupy as some shepherds pies can be but had a lovely rich flavour. The crumbed cutlet wasn’t overcooked and was nice and pink in the middle, I didn’t get to try the crumbed crust but it looks delicious. I think the roast shoulder was my favourite of the three and was served in a cast iron pan with the delicious lamb juices. The lamb was melt in the mouth and included the thick layer of fat which I know many don’t like but I love, you don’t need to eat it and it really adds flavour as the lamb is roasting. The side vegetables were served with butter and fresh parsley and the carrots had a nice crunch to them. The Flying Dog Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout was my favourite beer of the evening. 

For dessert we were served Espresso Crème Brulee with shortbread which was paired with the Sierra Nevada Porter and Cinnamon Donuts paired with Wells Banana Bread Beer. The Crème brulee was the only dish of the evening that was disappointing, it was probably my fault as I had been saying all night how I was looking forward to it and I jinxed it. The crème brulee had been caramelised and then left sitting too long before being served as the top had soften into toffee and could not be broken, however the espresso custard was delicious. The donuts were served nice and hot in a paper bag with a chocolate dipping sauce. I liked the flavour of the donuts but they were a little bit chewy for me. The banana bread beer was very sweet, which I liked, and went really well with the donuts. A cheese board was also bought out with Whitestone cheddar, apple and pear slices and crackers. It was beautifully presented and was paired with a beer which unfortunately I did not get the name of (I had had a fair few beers by this time…). 

By the end I had a few beers on the go at the same time.

All in all it was a fabulous evening with amazing food and beer. I normally do not associate great food with pubs but it seems that this is exactly what Three Lamps Bar & eatery has achieved. An incredible craft beer selection and an excellent menu too! The restaurant has been split in to a bar and a restaurant so if you don’t have time for dinner Three Lamps would be a great place to go for after work drinks. I’m really looking forward to attending one of their beer club events and will definitely be back to try more of their craft beers. 

A humongous thank you to Zomato and Three Lamps Bar & Eatery for an amazing an evening. It was so lovely to meet everyone and discuss food and beer (and Masterchef, come on Nikki and Jordan). Here are my fellow Foodie Meet Ups' blogs/Zomato profiles: 
AriettaDanJude and BarryKateKristy and Lucy and Jason 

* I haven't received many thanks on my photos, I really need to work on my photography skills. 
** Yet... Watch this space. 

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Al's Deli vs Federal Delicatessen

                            The Deli Showdown

 I was so excited when I heard about Federal Delicastessen. After watching Twin Peaks and Gilmore Girls, I've always wanted to eat in an American diner/deli.* Fed Deli has done an amazing job in replicating one and even has the super cute waitress uniforms, seating at the counter and paper hats (which you can also buy). After my first trip there I left feeling like this was my new favourite place to eat in the city and nowhere could possibly be better. But then the very next week (I was probably googling Fed Deli) I discovered Al's Deli and am now a little bit obsessed. I've recently discovered my love of all things salmon and now that I have tasted Al's home cured maple smoked salmon it's hard to think about anything else. When I tell people about my love for Al's Deli they usually think I am talking about Al Brown's Federal Delicatessen. I can understand the confusion. Both restaurants opened around the same time, are owned by dudes named Al (Lazic and Brown), have Deli in the name and have similar menus. I have therefore decide to write up and list, dish out some points and see which is my favourite.

I had not heard of poutine until I went to Fed Deli. Poutine is a common Canadian dish, originally from Quebec, made with french fries, topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds. IT"S AMAZING! I can't decide which one is better, don't make me. However at Al's Deli you can order poutine with smoked brisket on top which is melt in your mouth delicious so I guess Al's Deli will have to take the point for this one.

Al's Deli Poutine topped with smoked brisket

Fed Deli Poutine

Both places serve handmade Montreal bagels. Al's Deli’s are made on site and Fed Deli bagels are made at Best Ugly which you can watch being made in store. Al Lazic is from Montreal and Al’s family had a restaurant in downtown Montreal. Al Brown spent two years in Montreal in the 80s where he first discovered hand-made, wood-fired bagels. I wonder if the Al's ever crossed paths in Montreal?** At Fed Deli you don't get a choice of which bagel you get, there is only plain but at Al's Deli you have the choice of what is available that day. While both bagels are fantastic but Al's Deli have the edge, nice and soft in the middle and not too hard and chewy.

Al's Deli "The Saint" on an onion bagel

Fed Deli "The Best Ugly"

Best Salmon goes to Al's. I hate the term amaze-balls (those crazy kids these days) but it really is amaze balls. Home cured maple smoked salmon, mmmmmm. Al's Deli have a small fridge on the counter where you can buy salmon to take home (also bacon). 

The point for the largest and most diverse menu goes to Fed Deli. They have a lunch/dinner menu as well as a brunch and late night menu. As well as sandwiches and bagels, Fed Deli also has soups, salads and a plethora of meat dishes. While Al's deli's menu is small in comparison with three larger dishes as well as there sandwiches and bagels, they seem to be adding new dishes every week so watch this space. 


Best service is a tie, I have had excellent and poor service from both, but this is life. If you go at a crazy busy time then slower service is to be expected. Again, Al's is still expanding so I assume the service will pick up as their staff numbers do. 

Best pie: I can't really judge the best pie yet as I am yet to try it but the photos of Al's piecaken are incredible. I would love to try it but it always sells out before I get there. More piecaken please Al! I have however tried the Apple Pie Fries which were fantastic. Little fingers of hot pastry filled with cinnamon apple and a butterscotch/caramel sauce. At Fed Deli I tried the banana & toffee pie with caramel popcorn at Fed Deli and it was good but not amazing and i thought a bit overpriced as it was a very small wedge. Fed Deli has a larger pie selection also so they get the point.


Al's Deli Apple Pie Fries

Drinks selection will have to go to Fed Deli as they have floats (try the chimney sweep, thick peanut butter and chocolate mini shake. Yum!), fountain soda hand pulled by a soda jerk, bottomless filter coffee,*** cocktails and a great beer selection. Al's Deli has happy hour (wooooo) with a solid list of cocktails (I hear the watermelon mojito is amazing) as well as your classic milkshakes, root beer and root beer floats.

Fed Deli Bottomless Filter Coffee

You can read my original reviews on Zomato here and here. I have been back to both restaurants since and tried more of the menu so I really should update my reviews. One day.  

In conclusion, they are both amazing and if you like bagels and poutine or have ever wanted to experience what it be like to eat at a diner then I would recommend checking out both Al's Deli and Fed Deli. For the sole purpose of closure I am going to have declare Al's Deli my favourite as their Salmon and bagels are really, really good and I always back the little guy (go Mighty Ducks!).

Here are more photos of Al's and Fed's delectable dishes.

Al's Deli "The Plateau" 

Al's Deli 

Al's Deli

Fed Deli

Fed Deli Morning Glory 

Fed Deli Treyf

Fed Deli Griddle Cakes

*What is the difference between a deli and diner? According to the internet: 

At a deli you would typically be able to purchase meats & foods by the pound, packaged, etc. As well as sandwiches and other prepared meals (sometimes).  All diners serve are prepared sit-down meals. To me a deli is focused on high-quality meat and the sandwiches you make out of it. Diners will have breakfast served all day and are also good for comfort food like meatloaf, sliced turkey & gravy. Also featured are bottomless cups of coffee and giant desserts. 

Al's Deli and Fed Deli both have a combination of these factors making them a deli/diner hybrid. A dini or deler?

** The population of montreal in 1981 was 1,018,609, so maybe? 

*** Like all real diners should have, or so TV tells me.