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Last month, I turned the big twenty-five. Its definitely an age you thought was an "adult" age (or even old!) when you were a child, but as I turned it I definitely didn't feel totally grown up and was not ready to be considered old, so I threw a party to celebrate turning 25 but not being old with a "Childhood" themed party, since I grew up in the 90s it also doubled as a 90s party.

Guests were told to dress in costumes reminiscent of their childhood. Sailor Moon was a big part of my childhood, and I remember fondly watching it every morning before school on Cheez TV. And I wasn't the only girl who was a fan of Sailor Moon, so the uni girls and I were quick to pick the Sailor Scouts as our costume. I chose to go as Sailor Mars as she was my favorite growing up (I always thought Sailor Moon was a bit of a cry baby).

Party pic of the Sailor Scouts

With my costume sorted, my next focus was making sure the theme carried out at the party. There were two elements to this: the entertainment and the food.

Entertainment

There were a range of games we all played in our childhood that I could of picked for my party, such as pass the parcel, but I decided to only pick two games. I thought picking two would allow room for the natural flow of the party and keep it fun so I selected pin the tail on the donkey (I figured this was a fun game - funnier yet after a few drinks! And added some cute decor to the party) and a pinata (because most people's sweet tooth didn't die after childhood).


I purchased the pin the tail on the donkey from the Big W party store and made the pinata using a balloon and classic paper mache using newspaper and coloured crepe paper (google it). I was worried that the games may be a miss with an adult crowd but they ended up being hit, probably because it had been so long since we had all played them.

I also bought some cheap photobooth props off Ebay so people could play around with them and take selfies.

Food

Lollies, party pies, mini sausage rolls, chips. These were all staples at parties when I was a kid so they were all featured on the food table at my party. I also whipped up two other Aussie kid party classics: chocolate crackles and fairy bread!


Chocolate Crackles
I loved chocolate crackles, and would whip up a batch most school holidays so it was a must at my Childhood party. They are also super easy to make. Melt 250 grams of Copha in a saucepan over low heat, mix in 4 cups of Cocoa Puffs, 1 cup Icing Sugar, 3 tablespoons of Icing Sugar and 1 cup of desiccated Coconut. Spoon the mixture evenly into patty cups. Because I was also trying to establish a rainbow theme, I sprinkled some 100s and 1000s on top before allowing them to set in the fridge.




Fairy Bread
Not only was this a kid's party must have dish, the rainbow sprinkles went with the rainbow theme I was also trying to establish. Fairy bread (if you live under a rock) is super easy to make: get your bread, spread butter and then cover in 100s and 1000s (sprinkles). To make it a bit more cuter, I first used a cookie cutter to cut the bread into little bit size circles.



For over year I had been salivating over the Instagrams and blog posts featuring what many exclaimed to be “the best French toast ever”.  If you are a Sydney foodie you have probably guessed what cafĂ© I’m talking about. If you have no idea, I’m talking about Redfern’s Three Williams.

Despite all the attempts to organise brunch or lunch there (once it even included travelling all the way there to discover the kitchen was closed), I only got to try Three Williams last week. And it was totally worth the wait (spoiler alert!).

We arrived at 11am on Wednesday and the staff showed us our seating options (of which there was plenty). Our waiter then asked if we wanted any drinks and handed us the menu (he actually asked us if we wanted drinks so many times we wondered if he made a special commission from drink sales). The reason I came there was the crunchy brioche french toast with berries($16), but I was actually craving savoury so I also ordered zucchini flower stuffed with marinated ricotta for three reasons 1) it sounded delicious, 2) it was cheap ($3), 3) I assumed it was be small and not ruin my appetite before the toast.

My cousin and sister decided to share one of their narnies and the other French toast option which featured a chocolate and caramelised banana.



All our food arrived at the same time, which meant no awkward “you can start, seriously your meal will get cold” debate.

I first dug into the zucchini flower which was served with some sort of tomato sauce/relish. I am always hesitant with ricotta stuffed foods, as I sometimes find it a bit bland but they hit the spot with theirs, very well-seasoned. I did find the tomato relish drowned the yumminess of the zucchini flower and it tasted better without.




Then it was time for the dish of honour. I am not going to lie, looking at the other French toast option I did get a little pang of food envy (the reason I didn’t order it was because I am not a banana fan) but after tasting my dish, I was in love. Sweet and crispy on the outside, fluffy bread on the inside which worked well the berries, nuts and yogurt. Soo good, and soo worth the hype. I had a taste of the other option, and besides the fact I didn’t like the banana, I was really glad I ordered what I did because I thought it was a bit too heavy because of the rich ganache. Think that one definitely would have benefited from adding berries, to add some tartness.

We left very satisfied and I was really glad I finally made the trip and hope it’s not another year before I get to try that delicious French toast wonder again!


Three Williams on Urbanspoon
I was overseas for Australia Day so when my cousin made her first trip to Australia recently, I jumped at the chance to make an appropriately themed treat to welcome her! I immediately thought of lamingtons because I hadn't made them before and was keen to try and also, how could you go wrong with a chocolate covered cake?

To make it extra Australian, I decided to also try my hand at marbling for the first time and marble the inside with green and gold. 

The lamingtons were a total hit at the welcome lunch and I think it definitely gave my cousin a good impression of what Australia has to offer!



Ingredients
125 grams butter, softened
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups self rising flour
1/2 cup milk
Yellow and Green food colouring
3 cups desiccated coconut
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cocoa powder
1 tablespoon butter (for the icing)
1/2 cup boiling water

Note: This recipe requires preparation overnight

Directions
1.  Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, caster sugar and vanilla essence until well combined, should be light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beating each egg for a minute before adding the next.
2. Slowly sift in the flour, folding as you go. 
3. Fold in the milk, and fold until well combined.
4. Pour mixture in a greased tray (I used a tray that was about 10cm by 25cm, and 4cm deep). On the top drip little droplets of green and yellow food colouring (not too many, maybe 6 little dots). Using a fork, gently fold through the food colouring to streak the batter with yellow and green.
5. Bake at 180 degrees Celcius for 25 minutes. Check if its cooked by inserting a skewer, if it comes out clean, its cooked!
6. Once the tray has been removed from the oven and has cooled, place on a wire tray and keep in a safe place overnight (I put it back in the oven once it had cooled)

7. Mix together the last four ingredients until well combined. 
8. Cut the cake into a desirable shapes, I cut them into little squares and that yielded 25 lamingtons.
9. Pour half a cup of the desiccated coconut onto a plate (keep topping up the plate as you need).
10. Dip each square into the chocolate icing, drip off any excess then cover in coconut. Place on a wire tray to set.

What it looks like on the inside


Soo I have been a bad blogger in January. Instead of posting I was too busy celebrating turning the big 2-5 (Don't know if everyone thinks its a big birthday but I am trying to make it the new 21st) and jetting over for a quick vacay in Sri Lanka. But these activities have inspired some of my future February posts, including this one!

One of the highlights of my trip this year was definitely white water rafting down the Kelani River in Kitulgala. Because most of my family live in Sri Lanka, we have been making trips there since I was in diapers. Having been there so frequently, I was surprised to read about a town called Kitulgala which was touted as the adventure capital of Sri Lanka. The surprise quickly turned into determination, determination to ensure I payed Kitulgala a visit.

Although there are a range of activities offered in this town, including abseiling and trekking, the one I read most about was white water rafting. Since I have never been white water rafting, and because it looked a lot cheaper to do in Sri Lanka than Australia, this was the activity I was most keen on.

A quick Google search a few days before the trip led me to Ceylon Adventure/ Kitulgala Adventures, who offered a white water rafting package that looked pretty good; a welcome drink, 5km guided rafting, a buffet lunch and evening tea. It costs 3000 rupees (a little under $30 AUD) for foreigners and 1850 for locals.

We made it a day trip from Colombo, but they also offer accommodation and overnight packages. Google maps indicated that the trip from Colombo to Kitulgala would take about 1.5 hours but in reality it was closer to 3, that's Sri Lankan traffic for you.

Upon arriving they presented us with our fresh fruit drink and then showed us to our private base camp which consisted of two large tents sitting on a large balcony area that overlooked the tops of the forrest. Very glamping. This area was given to us as a changing and rest area. 

Pre rafting group shot

After changing we made our way to the rafting start point, a journey which included a quick ride in a Tuk and a short trek down the lush forrest to the river. From there we boarded onto our raft and began our adventure. It was a lot of fun and it was a Grade 3 so wasn't very strenuous and good for beginners. There were a lot of spots where we could "relax" (one of the terms we had to learn in our 2 minute pre training), not row and just enjoy the beautiful view and take pictures. We even had a chance to jump out of the raft and go for a little swim. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and we were all super keen to plan our next rafting adventure. Although, next time I am eager to go for a longer raft as we all felt 5km was a bit short (they also offer 8km and 10km).

Once we finished our rafting, we were treated to a buffet lunch which was a very classic, traditional Sri Lankan meal which included chicken curry, mushroom curry and dhall etc. I thought this would be such a great package for tourists because not only do they get to explore natural Sri Lanka on a raft but they also get to try traditional home style cooking.

Post rafting river dip

After lunch we were welcome to relax as long as we wanted in our base camp. Not being much of a rester I decided to instead take a swim in the river and trek around. I was then keen to make it back to Colombo as I had dinner plans and knew the journey would be long. I don't know if they thought we were in a rush to go home or forgot but we never got offered our afternoon tea, although it wasn't too big a deal because we had had an amazing experience.

All in all, I would totally recommend doing white water rafting in Kitulgala. It was a great way to spend some time in Sri Lanka's natural wonders and was a really good bargain. And Ceylon Adventure is definitely not the only white water rafting provider, the river is lined with providers so could even be a sponatous adventure where you pick someone one the day you decide to do it!



Happy New Year! If your new years resolution was to eat clean, then back away from this post. This gnocchi recipe is an indulgent, "I had a big weekend and now I want to sit down and treat myself" kinda dish. Alternatively, its also perfect for a cosy night in. 

Ingredients
500 gm gnocci, cooked as instructed on package
400 gm can of crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup thick cream
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tbs minces garlic
1 tbs oil of your choice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
1. Heat oil in a small saucepan, once hot add garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes
2. Add the cream and tomatoes, stir and cook for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Stir through cooked gnocci, remove from heat and serve as is or with a helping of shaved Parmesan.



This year as House in Tillford's focus began to include food, the spotlight on fashion dimmed but that doesn't mean my love of fashion did, so let's take a look back at some of the trends in fashion in the past year.

Cropped Tops

Three years ago I thought mid riff revealing tops were tacky, but 2014 showed us how to properly style a cropped top. They can be paired with a flowly, long skirt or shorts for day time wear, or with sleeker skirts for night, as seen below.


source: amremo.com
Coordinates
No such thing as too matching, co ords were huge this year and I was a total fan!


Source: Indian Roots
Full Skirts
Such a lady like trend! Mostly the skirts are midi length, and if it still feels too Victorian you can pair it with a cropped tee.


Source: Lucky Mag
Janties
Jean Panties or any booty bearing shorts. This was a trend I did not like! This was not a lady like trend. At all. I get this was the year of the booty but I don't need to see your butt cleavage when I'm buying my groceries. Or ever, really.  


Its officially Christmas Eve and there is only a week left of the year! I'm sure that many of you, like myself, are wondering where the year went. This year was certainly a whirlwind for me as I finished off 19 years of formal education! I also got back into blogging, introducing food into House in Tillford, opening doors to a whole new blogger community. Its been a fun year of discovering new blogs and yummy recipes, but also trying new restaurants and having fun in the kitchen. So here is a look back at the recipes I shared:

Savoury Recipes

Potato Gratin

Asian Inspired Quinoa Meatballs

Polenta Chips with Rosemary and Parmesan 

Hot Butter Calamari

Baked Eggs with Tomato, Mushrooms, Rocket and Chorizo

Squid Ink Pasta with Mushroom, Lemon, Chilli and Garlic

Rocket, Feta and Mushroom Pizza (with a Yogurt Base)

Chunky Lentil Soup

Sweet Recipes

Peanut Butter Nanaimo Slice

Low GI Quinoa Muffins

Simple Chocolate Cake with a Fancy Finish

Maple Candied Almonds

Apple Tarte Tartin

Salted Caramel Popcorn

Lemon Bliss Cupcakes

Lemon Cream and Curd Stack








'Tis the season to be jolly. 'Tis also the busy season, whether it be running around buying gifts, attending Christmas parties or frantically trying to wrap up work before the shutdown period, people are generally pretty time poor during the end of December. So when our uni group did a last minute Pot Luck Christmas Dinner and I was allocated savoury I knew I wanted to make something that was not only yummy and would look nice on the table, but would also be easy and quick to make, and my potato gratin recipe is just that. Only a few ingredients and little hands on time, this dish is a perfect dinner party addition.



Ingredients

1.2 kg potatoes
600 ml thickened cream
600 ml milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
1. In a large pot combine the cream, milk, butter, herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. 
2. While the sauce cooks, peel and thinly slice the potatoes.
3. Layer the bottom of a large oven proof dish (I used a 20 x 40 cm dish, that was about 5cm deep) with the sliced potatoes (save the pretties/neatest slices for the top layer), pour enough sauce to thinly cover the layered potatoes. Place another layer of potatoes and then sauce, and so on and so on.
4. Once everything is layered up, cover the dish in foil and place in an oven at 180 degrees Celsius. Cook for 1.4 hours, then remove the foil and cook for another 20 minutes or until the top is golden. If it looks likes there is too much sauce, lower the heat to about 150 and cook for another 10-20 minutes.

Serves 8

p.s If you are making this dish for Hanukkah, you can buy kosher dairy products.
Mary's has been on my "must try" list for a year now, and with the news of its opening in the CBD it returned to the forefront of my radar. Because the CBD store was only a takeaway joint and I wasn't sure if it was just burgers, we opted to go to Newtown branch. A Google search indicated that on Saturdays, Mary's opens at 4pm, so to fill the time between me finishing work that morning and Mary's opening we caught Nightcrawler at the cinema nearby. I didn't really know much about the film going in but I thoroughly enjoyed.

The movie finished a bit for 4pm so we sussed out the locale of Mary's- not the easiest to find in that it just looks like an old, run down building with no obvious signage. We entered with trepidation that it may be the wrong place and had a laugh when we realised not only was it the right place, but it was also open since midday! Damn the Internets for its false information.

We decided to take a seat upstairs and the dark, morbid decor fit with the mood carried on from the film we just watched. It was pretty quiet at the time so would be a cool spot to grab some food and drinks with some friends and hang out.

The menus are written on the wall, not that I needed it as I knew what I wanted- fried chicken and mash potato with their gravy. The pricing was a little on the expensive side, $18 for half a chicken, $14 for the Mary's Burger and $5 for mash and gravy.




Now I hate to say it after I've heard all these amazing reviews and I had anticipated going for so long but the food was kinda average! My chicken although looked delicious, tasted slightly burnt and could do with more seasoning. The mash was good- creamy and smooth and the gravy was nice, but nothing good enough to entice me back. I had a bite of my boyfriend's burger, a yummy, juicy burger but nothing to blow my socks off (and with the pricing I would prefer a burger from BurgerFuel which has more exciting ingredients). At the end of the day, it was a bit like a more expensive and hipster version of KFC.


Mary's on Urbanspoon
As you may have noticed on my blog, I sometimes participate in Reddit's 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge. This week's theme was Canada which peaked my interest because outside of Degrassi Junior High I don't really know much aboot (see what I did there?) Canada, in particular their food. After a Google search it became clear that Canadian food seems to include a lot of naughty treats like Poutine (chips covered in gravy and cheese curd) and Butter Tarts. After browsing all the different dish,  I decided to try making a sweet slice named Nanaimo, not knowing what it would taste like (barely knowing how to pronounce it) I adapted recipes online with ingredients found in my kitchen. And the result? Delish and easy. There was no baking involved and I think its a nice alternative to the regular slices, like caramel slice, that people usually make. Plus you can slice it up, cutely wrap it up in some red cellophane and ta da! A cute, little Christmas gift.



Ingredients
Base
100 grams butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 egg, whisked
100 grams crumbed arrowroot or marie biscuits
1 cup desiccated coconut

Filling
76 grams butter
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup icing sugar

Chocolate Glaze
200 gram chocolate, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons butter

Directions
1. Double boil the 100 grams butter
2. Once melted, stir in the 1/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup cocoa powder until well combined
3. Whisk in the egg, continue whisking for about 5 minutes so the egg can cook.
4. Remove from the heat and add the biscuit crumbs and coconut. Mix well the press the mixture into a 10 x 20cm greased tray lined with greased baking paper.
5. Set aside while you work on the filing.
6. Using an electric mixer, mix together the peanut butter, butter and icing sugar until well combined.
7. Spread the filling over the base and place in freezer.
8. Double the butter and chocolate, stir until well combined.
9. Allow the chocolate glaze to cool before pouring over the filling. Place in freezer for 30 minutes. Then refrigerate for another 30 minutes before slicing it up and enjoying the Canadian deliciousness!