Grape, Rosemary & Apple Pie

This summer season in Australia has been glorious and sunny around 30C almost every day. I try to stay away from the computer as much as possible and find myself spending a lot of time outdoor exercising or at the beach, trying to keep a healthy balance lifestyle. Not really a new year’s resolution, but as I am getting older, I thought perhaps is time to actually think of the future, make small changes in life as we all have to grow up sometimes. (If you haven’t read about my rant, you really should) So one of the changes is my diet and no, I am not going to follow any fad diets. I can’t live without sugar, butter and fried chicken, oh no no, no one mess with my fried chicken! Having said that, I will cut down those guilty pleasures whenever possibly can. Actually I don’t eat out as often I used to, so it really isn’t a drastic change. And to balance it out, I will introduce a lot more greens and fruit into my meals. This summer, I have rediscovered my love for grapes. This is the best time of year to enjoy these humble plump and juicy fruit, not to mention is also the time of year when it is cheap. I usually have a bag of the seedless green grapes in the fridge, as it is crunchier and less sweet (mean less sugar) and more refreshing. But sometimes I will go for the red ones, especially if I am having a cheese and wine afternoon. I also find grapes are very versatile in the cooking department, not many...

Nectarine Frangipane Tart

Edible flowers are the best. I was craving for stone fruit badly, and don’t ask me how, but I managed to find some nectarines and paid high price for it. I know, I know, I am a naughty boy and not adhere to my own rule, as I always encourage people to use seasonal local produce. My bad, but I can assure you that it doesn’t happen every often, especially when you have to pay triple the price. If I have to do this tart again, I probably will use cheaper ingredients like apple, pear or even persimmon since they are in season at the moment. This recipe is actually from my first cookbook, Have You Eaten? and I just adapted with a few changes. I used nectarines instead of peaches, and also a crunchy short crust pastry instead of Maggie Beer’s sour cream pastry. I wasn’t intended to have a super crispy pastry but I like how a mishap turned into a success story! So, let’s talk about the pastry, it turned out to be much better than I expected, flakey, buttery AND crunchy at the same time. I actually simply used a sweet shortcrust pastry recipe that I am familiar, and usually I will just pour the cold water into the processor without measuring the exact quantity and obviously this time I poured a little too much and the dough became a little too soft. Hence, I tried to laminate the pastry with a little bit more flour tried to strengthen the gluten, eventually I got a dough that I able to work with. Surprisingly, the excess water, the...

Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts

I really should have done this earlier, I wish I had thought about doing it when I first moved up to Central Coast seven years ago. However, it is better late than never, I am actually very glad that I did it and absolutely loving it. And, what I am referring to, is my humble little veggie garden. I think a lot of people are intimidated by the words “veggie garden”, so did I. First thing that came to mind was – I will need a big space in the backyard to set one up; and since our house has no backyard but only maybe 3 metres wide of useless grassy area between the walls and the fences; so to have a veggie garden was never a priority in our to-do list. The Pom even bought me a raised garden bed frame for my birthday many years ago and it just sat outside in the garden, looked more like an abandoned coffin, as you can see below… However, in November last year, we started to turn things around and make it happen. We picked up the shovels and ordered a few tonnes of soil, gravels and lots of chicken poo; the veggie garden finally taking shape and within weeks, we had a few sprouts poking their heads out of the soil. Few months on, I didn’t really look after it that often but only with the occasional organic pesticide oil sprays and fertilised it with seasol, and just let the mother nature did its job and now I have a thriving veggie garden that I couldn’t be any happier. So far, I’ve picked zucchini flowers,...

A chocolate cake with no recipe

Is it possible to bake a cake with no recipe? Before you start accusing me for ruining your next cake, dare I say the answer is, yes. Of course you can bake a cake without recipes. I know how everyone thinks baking is so difficult that you must follow the recipes to a T or else your soufflé will collapse on your, and another kitten will die. Oh no you don’t! Many centuries go, before someone was actually writing down the ingredients used, the methods on how the cake was made and then called it a ‘recipe’, I am sure it all started as a trial and error in the kitchen, and that someone must have decided to mix egg, butter, flour and sugar together and hoping for the best. In theory, it should work and some form of cake would come out of the oven, it might not be the best tasting ‘cake’ but it is something. So I was craving for something sweet last night and decided to bake a cake. A chocolate cake with hazelnuts on top to be exact. I didn’t have a recipe to follow, and I was too lazy to measure my ingredients, but somehow I managed to bake a cake, a cake is good enough to eat that inspires me to write this post. It definitely gives the terms “blind baking” a whole new meaning. Trust me, all you need is to understand the nature of the ingredients, gut instincts and a little sparks of creativity in the kitchen, and the cake will rise, unicorn will fly and the rainbow will shine....

Red Velvet Bundt Cake and a little news…

Well I am sure is all in our heads, but won’t you all agree that this year has gone extremely fast? It’s already the last month of the year and Christmas is only 21 sleeps away! I always thought, “Gee, I hardly achieved anything this year and it has already come to an end!” Well, can’t help it, I am a pessimist by nature. I always worried that I haven’t done enough and wasted a whole year and then a new year comes which means I have to start all over again! I know I am just being silly because if I really sit down and recuperate all the past events in this whole year, I actually did quite a lot! Here is a lo-down: – hosted a 4-day food photography masterclass in Daylesford – running regular food photography workshops in Syd, Melb and Perth – went to Kangaroo Island for the first time – joined Servved – photoshoot Ben O’donohue’s cookbook – photoshoot Gelato Messina’s cookbook – went to Victoria High Country for the first time – Spent a weekend with instagrammers at Hamilton Island [video here] – Spent a whole month in USA with my parents – went to Bali for the first time and surprisingly I enjoyed it – created recipes for Home & Decor Malaysia magazine for 6 issues – catered a private dinner function for 12 people just last week – worked on interesting projects with The Galeries, Nespresso, Ocean Spray – ambassador for Malaysia Kitchen and Givva Fork – running Have You Eaten? Baking Club with monthly baking challenge And one last event before...