Sunday, October 26, 2014

Recipe | Polenta Chips with Rosemary and Parmesan




After trying the polenta chips at Jamie's Kitchen, I've been keen to recreate them and these turned out just as addictive, crispy on the outside and pillow-y on the inside. If you want to make a healthier alternative, you can always bake them instead of frying them.

Ingredients

1/2 cup Polenta
2.5 cups Chicken Stock
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
1 tbs Rosemary
1 tbs Mince Garlic
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cooking Directions
  1. Bring to boil the chicken stock, garlic and rosemary leaves
  2. Reduce heat to low and slowly add polenta, stirring constantly.
  3. Simmer and stir on low for 10 minutes
  4. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan, salt and pepper
  5. Pour into a small tray, lined with greased baking paper. Smooth the surface, then cover in cllngwrap and refrigerate for 1.5 hours.
  6. After the polenta has become firm, remove from the tray and cut into bite sized squares.
  7. Heat up oil in a small wok or pan, and fry in batches until golden and crispy on the outside
  8. Serve as is, or sprinkle some rock salt and parmesan on top


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Recipe | Maple Candied Almonds

There is a subreddit that I was recently introduced to called "52 Weeks of Cooking". Basically every week the participants are challenged to cook with a new ingredient or theme and share their results. Coming in at week 43, I am a little late to the game but better now than never. And this week's theme is Candying so I thought I'd carry on from my post last week and create another quick almond snack- Maple Candied Almonds!



Super easy and you only need two ingredients (or three but that is optional).


Ingredients

1 Cup Almonds
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
Salt, to taste


Cooking Directions
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the almonds on the stove on high for five minutes
  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and mix in the maple syrup
  3. Return the saucepan to the heat, on a low heat and allow to simmer, mixing occasionally for about 10 minutes
  4. Spread out on a plate and eat (once cool!) or if you want sprinkle some salt over it (I would recommend doing so)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Recipe | Roasted Almonds with Apple Cider Vinegar and Rock Salt


I love snacking and am often found grazing throughout the day. And as much as I enjoy it, its not the healthiest habit. So to compromise, I've put away the potato chips and made this healthy snack. This is super easy to make and contains only three ingredients.  Plus apple cider vinegar is associated with a lot of health benefits so extra bonus.




Ingredients

1 Cup Almonds
3 Teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
Rock Salt, to taste

Directions
  1. In a small bowl, toss together the almonds, cider and salt.
  2. Spread on an oven tray and roast at 175 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Travel Guide: Sri Lanka

A couple of years ago I wrote a visitor’s guide to Sri Lanka for Travelated. Since I wrote that I have been to Sri Lanka twice more, so here is an updated guide of what to see and do in Sri Lanka.

Beaches


Hikkaduwa


It’s a tropical island, beaches are likely to be on your hit list. Here are a couple of beaches worth checking out:

·        Hikkaduwa. This is probably my favourite beach in Sri Lanka. It has all of the stereotypical island beach features; crystal clear water, huge palm trees and a long strip of sand. We went glass boating here, which was lovely as we got so close to some brightly coloured schools of fishes (and a few divers!), although pretty much everyone on the boat got off feeling queasy, so pop a pill to help with nausea beforehand.
·        Unawatuna. This is another popular beach on the south coast. My most recent memories have been at night, as we typically have dinner at one of the many restaurants that line the beach.

Temples


Fort at Temple of the Tooth

There are many temples scattered across Sri Lanka, not surprising considering 69% of the country are Buddhist.  But below are two of the big ones:

·        The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. This large, beautiful temple has a very strict dress code. In addition to a security check, the guards also check if your outfit is appropriate for entry. If it isn't, you won’t be allowed to enter so make sure your outfit goes past your knees, that your shoulders are covered (i.e nothing sleeveless), and you have no cleavage visible. Locals also typically wear white to temple, although this is not mandatory.
·        Kataragama. Pilgrimages are made here not only by Buddhists, but also Muslims and Hindus as the site has places of worship for all three religions. The road up the site is lined with stalls selling a variety of offerings to the gods, including garlands and fruits. The road is also lined with families of monkeys playing around.

Animals


Pinnawella


Sri Lanka boasts a wide range of wildlife, and you are likely to catch a monkey jumping off the roofs in towns but here are some places to hit if you are an animal lover:

·        Yala National Park. Going on safari in Yala has been on my bucket list for so long, and I finally got to tick it off last year. There are a variety of animals in the park, including many bird species, elephants, water buffalo, mongoose etc. But what most people want to spot is a leopard. Before we went, we were warned by many locals that spotting a leopard is pretty rare so not to get our hopes up. And when we were there, we drove around the park for hours trying to track one down, and luckily just as we were giving up we were advised by another guide of a spot where they had seen one. When we reached the spot, and looked really hard through the scrub we could see one! Well at least its huge tail swatting away bugs, the rest of its body was blocked by all the fauna. Despite only getting a peak of a leopard, the experience was great and we saw a number of other animals.
·        Pinnawella Elephant Orphanage. I would also highly recommend checking this out. The baby elephants are feed three times a day, and tourists are able to watch. After feeding time we were led to where the rest of the herd were, and this scene one of the most awe inspiring scenes I’ve seen in my life as the huge herd grazed in front of a backdrop of forest. In the morning and in the afternoon, the herd is led to the river to bathe and I would recommend planning your trip around the time this happens as you get to stand by as the whole herd marches by you towards the river, an elephant parade.

Food

Whenever I go to a new country I normally have a list of local dishes I want to try. Here are a few you can add to your list:

·        Rice and curry. This an obvious as it’s probably the staple dish in Sri Lanka.
·        Hoppers. A crispy bowl shaped crepe-like dish served with curries.
·        String hoppers. Steamed rice flour that has been pressed into a nest of noodles.
·        Kottu Roti. A dish made up of chopped roti cooked with vegetables
·        Lamprais. This is a rice dish that is typically accompanied by a piece of chicken, some sambals, an egg and a few other curries all wrapped and baked in a banana leaf.
·        Short eats. Referring to little snack like dishes such as cutlets and pastries. Hit up shops like Perera & Sons or Fab to stock up on these cheap treats (and while you are there, stock up on the variety of sweets they have to offer too).

I could do a whole blog post about dishes to try but I will stop here and let you discover the rest for yourself. But I do want to mention by favourite restaurant in Sri Lanka, which is actually a Chinese restaurant! Chinese Dragon, if you go you have to order the hot butter cuttlefish, my absolute favourite dish.

This is obviously a condensed guide as I could go on and on about places to visit. Have you been to Sri Lanka yourself? Anything you would add to the list?

If you want to read more about my travels through Sri Lanka, click here.


Monday, September 29, 2014

The human carwash experience in Selcuk, Turkey

After a few days of hiking through Turkey, I had visions of total relaxation and pampering when I decided to go visit a Turkish bath (also known as a Hamam) in Selcuk. It was our fourth day in Turkey and of our Turkey Active tour and we finally had some time for a bit of luxury. Or so we thought.

We entered the Hamam and were greeted by two, big Turkish men who handed us each a thin towel in exchange for 50 lira (this was how much we payed for our experience, and is roughly $25 AUD). We were then gestured to go into one of the change rooms that lined the room. All of us girls (about 7 of us) went into the same one, and nervously wondered if we were supposed to remove all our clothes. We decided to strip down to our swimmers and wrap ourselves in the towels (we guessed everything as no direction was given).

We then joined the two Turkish men and the other guys from our group in the main lobby, from there we were led into the bath area. I had done no research about what to expect so was a little awed by the huge room with marble floors and walls, with a big, marble table like slab in the middle. The heat of the room also hit me, reminded me of entering a sauna. I wasn't able to take a picture, but see below for something very similar.



Again without much guidance we were directed to the slab and we guessed we supposed to lie on it. So we spread out our towels like it was a day at the beach. Two by two we were called to rinse off in one of the showers that lined the walls and then headed to a one of the two smaller slabs in the back of the room to be "bathed". In the first slab, one of the men thoroughly scrubbed and exfoliated us each. Showing us how much dirt he had scrubbed off our bodies. Given all the hiking and travel we had done- we were all pretty dirty! After the vigorous scrub we were then again directed to rinse off and sit at the second slab. This was definitely where it felt more car wash than luxury, as the man pulled my body up and down (as I was lying down) the slab, slapping my body with a soapy rag. He then flipped me over to do the same with the other side of my body. He ended it by throwing water over me. I was then directed outside where I found the others who had gone before, all wrapped in towels and sipping apple tea. I too was then wrapped up and served tea.

As we sipped our tea we all agreed that despite the shock to our system, we had never felt cleaner!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Review | Mamak and N2, Chinatown

I had a lovely Sunday in Sydney over the weekend, a morning spent at the aquarium and then hitting up some places on my “want to try” list; Mamak and N2.



There was barely a line at Mamak, and we were seated very quickly which was nice as I had anticipated a wait. I ordered the Mi Goreng, as I had really enjoyed my noodle dish from PappaRich the week before and wanted to see how it compared. I also ordered a classic roti dish to share with my boyfriend.



The mi goreng was nice but I think I preferred the noodle dishes I had at PappaRich. The roti was deliciously crispy and the accompanying curries were also tasty. I was also impressed by the prices, for a hyped restaurant in the CBD, everything was pretty cheap. 


I passed on a Malaysian dessert as I was keen to finally try N2. While we waited in line we debated what to get, and we finally settled on my gut pick, Ferrero Reveal.  For those of you who don't know, the appeal of N2 is the liquid nitrogen they use to make their ice cream. The workers are dressed in lab coats, and its quite a show to see them making the ice cream and the counter becomes covered in mist every so often.

After we ordered we realised there was another wait to get our actual ice cream. About 15-20 minutes later and we finally got our dessert. It looked mouth watering and being a chocolate crackle fan I really liked the rice bubble topping. But when it got down to the actual ice cream part, it really was just like regular ice cream. Good to try one time but would be hard to justify the cost and wait another time (but then again I am still thinking about those other intriguing flavours on offer and how they might taste).




Mamak on Urbanspoon N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Turkey | Eceabat and Canakkale

Eceabat was the second city on our Turkey tour. The reason we, and think I think most Australians, visit this city is because of it's close proximity to Gallipoli (you can read about our visit here). The town of Eceabat is very small so we decided to catch the ferry to the livelier Canakkale. The rest of our Intrepid group seemed to have the same idea, as we ran into them either on the ferry or while in Canakkale. The main attraction of Canakkale, and as far as we discovered, the only attraction, was the Trojan Horse as seen in the movie Troy (a.k.a not the actual one from history!). I haven't actually seen the movie Troy so seeing the prop from the movie wasn't too exciting, rather I enjoyed the chill vibe of the town, taking pictures of the fisherman lining the wharf and the bright children's play statues around the town.



We also had an amusing food adventure (not like our food poisoning one in Istanbul!) which I think helped break the ice with some of our fellow diners/Intrepid group. The strip across from the water is lined with restaurants, all with someone standing outside calling out to passerbys to come in.

Carly, Mel and I went to one restaurant and were disappointed to see a very "Western" menu, since it was only our second day in Turkey we really wanted to indulge in the local offerings. A few people from our Intrepid group walked by and "saved" us by calling us out from the restaurant. We then continued down the strip, being urged by different restuaranters to come enjoy what they had to offer. We were finally convinced by one restuaranter and the five of us agreed to dine there. Que hilarity. When we tried to order the waiters seem totally confused by us trying to order food. They were further confused when we explained that Carly was a vegetarian and asked what vegetarian options they had. Despite the confusion we ordered 5 chicken kebabs and they said they would prepare something vegetarian for Carly. Time passes and eventually a waiter comes out with vine leaves that his grandmother has made and some watermelon. Both delicious and unexpected (and complimentary!). More time passes and our five "kebabs" arrive- bits of chicken cut up and cooked. A very bland meal but we are still jovial given the yummy freebies. We wait for Carly's meal to arrive, and we wait and wait before finally deciding to enquire how long it would be. More confusion! The waiter panics, brings out some other guys and they panic together and asking what we mean. The lack of a common language does not help the situation. The waiters all panic together before leaving into the kitchen. Luckily the panic produced results, as the eventually bought out Carly some meze options.

Laughing about our dining mishap, we ended the night by getting some Turkish ice cream which is served in a comical manner, with the ice cream man making a show out of serving up the hard ice cream.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Review | PappaRich, Parramatta

It is the night before Father's Day and as soon as the two sets of parents see the long line outside PappaRich they begin to complain and whinge about going somewhere else. Us "kids" assure them it will be fine and it'll be worth the wait (we hope!). Luckily, the parents make friends with other customers in the line and the hour (yup, hour!) passes quickly.

We are seated and the ordering system is explained to us: we write down the item numbers of what we want on this little notepad, and when we are ready we press the buzzer on our table and a waiter comes to collect our sheet.

Given its our first time there, my sister, cousin and I decide to share a variety of dishes so we can try a bit of everything. We get a roti dish, two noodle dishes, the fried chicken skins, and dumplings. And I get the lychee soda ($4.90) for myself (PappaRich has a huge selection of pretty drinks, all reasonably priced. The lychee soda was a yummy, lighter option)

Everything, bar the roti dishes came out really fast. As did the bill- which came out before everything and we were surprised to find that it came up to about $148 between the 7 of us. Not too bad considering how much we had ordered.

Fried Rice Noodles

Fried Mee


Both the noodle dishes were delicious, and unlike at some places was actually mostly noodle instead of large vegetable cuts. Both the dishes were saucy and packed with the right amount of flavour.

Roti Telur Bawang

The roti, which the waiters warned to have a bit of a wait time to get ready, came with three curries, a chicken curry, a dahl curry and a spicy sambol. The roti was light and fluffy and filled with onion and egg. PappaRich did all of the elements well but the noodle mains were the standout dishes for us three.

Fried Chicken Skins


The fried chicken skins were a guilty, crunchy treat but the dims sims fell below average but we forgave it as everything else was so good.

We had worried we had ordered too much but managed to gobble everything up (but were too full for dessert). Oh, and our complaining parents? They thoroughly enjoyed everything they ordered (which also included the biryani) and left with smiles on their faces, and agreement that it was worth the wait.

Overall, I would say PappaRich deserves the hype it has. The food is delicious, good portions and reasonably priced.



PappaRich on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Recipe | DIY "Baked" Eggs with Tomato, Mushrooms, Rocket and Chorizo


A rainy day stuck at home doing an assignment is what lead to the creation of this surprisingly tasty dish. I didn't have much time but wanted a lunch time treat so put this together with what I found in the fridge and pantry. I say surprisingly tasty because I just wanted to create something that looked like the baked eggs I saw in cafes but didn't know how to go about it (I didn't even bake it) or what exactly went it to rather I went off the visual alone. I liked it so much that I made it the next day. And then the day after that I made it again, this time without the eggs and instead I stirred through some cooked pasta.




Ingredients

1 tbs Crushed Garlic
1 tsp Chilli Flakes
3/4 can Crushed Tomatoes
1/4 cup Slice Mushrooms
1 tbs Salsa
2 slices (chopped) Packaged and Sliced Chorizo or Salami
2 Eggs
5 Rocket Leaves
1 tbs Olive Oil
To taste Salt and pepper

Directions
  1. In a small pan, heat up the oil. Throw in the garlic, chilli flakes (less or more depending on taste), salt and pepper. Mix it up and allow it to cook for one minute
  2. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, salsa and chorizo. Mix. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.
  3. Crack the egg, one at a time, and gently pour it from the shell onto the sauce.
  4. Leave until the whites become a solid white (if you like your yolks fully cooked, leave it a few minutes longer)
  5. Throw the rocket leaves on top, if you prefer you can add them right after you add the eggs.
  6. Serve straight in the pan!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Review | Pasha's Turkish Restaurant, Newtown

I noticed Pasha's in Newtown a couple of months ago, the brightly coloured glass lanterns and the decor in general bought back memories of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. And the fact that I had been craving Turkish the moment I left Turkey (to read about my actual travels through Turkey, click here), made me add Pasha's to my mental list of places to try.

So last night, along side my fellow Turkey travelers, Carly and Mel, I paid a visit to Pasha's for dinner.

We wanted our meal to be just like in Turkey, beginning with meze options before a main and dessert. Because of this, we ordered banquet one which we calculated to be the cheapest option for us, given that we wanted a lot of the dishes that we had while in Turkey. So banquet one was as follows:

Entrees



A selection of dips, an eggplant dish, zucchini with garlic yogurt and pomegranate salad and Turkish bread.

The dips, in particular the spice capsicum one, was my favourite of the entrees. It was so good dipping the tasty, warm bread into the different options.

Zucchini, in general, is an average vegetable but garlic yogurt was tasty and complemented it well. The eggplant was also nice, and I actually preferred it better with some rice that was served with the main.



Mains




Next up, the mains. We had already indulged ourselves with the entrees so were bordering on full already. The main was a lamb shish, chicken shish, meatballs and traditional Turkish rice. Both the shishes were well cooked and seasoned. Luckily we still had the dips from the entree, because it wasn't served with any sauces, which I think it needed.

To be honest, although the mains were nice, it wasn't amazing and maybe not worth the price its charged at on its own.

Desserts




The desserts for option one were pistachio baklava, turkish delight served with Turkish coffee or apple tea. I chose the option of apple tea, so was a very sweet but oh so tasty dessert. The baklava was crispy, yet dripping in honey- just how I like it. And the Turkish delight was legit Turkish delight, not the choc coated version by Cadbury, and I wish I had some right now. The apple tea was also a great warm, sweet treat- perfect for the wintery, rainy day it was.

And although $40 per person may seem like a lot on a uni student budget, it was worth it considering how much the dishes cost individually. Overall, we had a delicious experience and the food and the decor of the restaurant bought back a lot of fond memories of Turkey. If you are on a budget but in the mood for Turkish (or like us, want to relive a little part of Turkey), I would recommend getting a plate of the mixed dips followed up by some baklava, Turkish delight and apple tea.

Pasha's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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