Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mylan Vietnamese Restaurant - Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

Mylan Restaurant in Wollongong is always buzzing by midday – one of the most popular restaurants in the Wollongong CBD…so book!  We’ve been visiting Mylan since it opened its doors quite a few years ago now.  TBG is addicted to their pho (soup), the Veg Daughter loves their vermicelli spring roll salad and the youngest of 4 loves the sate chicken.  I love it all!

Buzzing by midday

It’s a great place to eat when you’re on a mission in the city.   If you’re looking for a romantic lunch…forget it - Mylan is busy and noisy however the reason it’s so popular is that service is fast and friendly.   The food is fresh and tasty.   They cater to carnivores and herbivores with plenty of options.   It’s bright and buzzy.  

TBG adores their Special Pho (pronounced ‘phir’).   This is Vietnam’s national soup and is basically a beef broth with flat noodles.   Mylan’s Special Pho contains a combination of different meats.    A side plate of accompaniments including chilli, lemon, bean sprouts, Vietnamese mint and sauce is delivered with your Pho and you can add whatever you wish for extra flavour – TBG adds the lot!

Mylan's Special Pho - Vietnam's national soup - beef broth & flat noodles.
A side of bean sprouts, Vietnamese mint, sauce, chilli and lemon to add to the Pho
Today I had the King Prawn Vermicilli Salad.  The prawns were coated in seasoning and lightly fried then added to the cold vermicelli with grated carrot, cucumber and cabbage.  A light and tangy lemon dressing compliments the dish.
Servings are large and I only managed to get through half of my salad.  My daughters and I usually share.

King Prawn Vermicilli Salad
Local ABC radio personality Nick Rheinberger and Andy Keating - a gentleman responsible for helping hundreds of Vietnamese children get the medical operation that would change their lives.


Seated next to us was a lovely old gentleman called Andy Keating.   Andy has had a special relationship with the children of the school where I teach.    He has been responsible for raising thousands of dollars ($100,000 alone from our Kiama Lions Club) to assist in the operating costs to transform the faces and the lives of children in Vietnam who were born with facial abnormalities such as cleft palates through Operation Smile:   http://www.operationsmile.org/    As little as $100 can mean a new future for these children.  The students of my school also produced ‘Shoeboxes of Love’ which Andy took to Vietnam.  These boxes were decorated by the students from Kinder to Year 6 and filled with special gifts for a Vietnamese orphan of the same age.

Lunching with Andy was local ABC morning radio personality, Nick Rheinberger.   No doubt Andy was promoting his worthy cause. 

As for us...we were in and out of Mylan within the hour – exactly what we wanted!

The restaurant is BYO.   The meals are reasonably priced and the fact that it's full at midday attests to it's good food and popularity. 


Yoyo biscuits - the perfect afternoon tea treat!

I remember these yoyo biscuits (cookies) from childhood.  Deliciously short and custardy treats are easy to make.

When my friend Jen asked me over for afternoon tea I said I'd bring something to share.  The ingredients for yoyos are pantry staples so it's always easy to bake a batch at short notice.

I don't know if the origin of these are Australian?  I know it's a recipe that was made by my grandmother and my mother.


Yoyos - short and sweet - a little like me??

Yoyo Biscuits

Ingredients

185g butter, softened
1/3 cup (60g) icing sugar
1½ cups (185g) plain flour, sifted
1/3 cup (60g) custard powder, sifted

Icing

2 tablespoons butter, softened
4 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
few drops vanilla essence
1 large passionfruit, pulped or a teaspoon or
two of water if you'd like vanilla icing.

Preparation method

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Line a biscuit tray with baking paper.

2. Cream butter and icing sugar then stir in sifted flour and custard powder. Scoop out the mixture with a teaspoon and roll into walnut-sized small balls and place on the biscuit tray. With a fork gently press down on each ball so the prongs leave indentations.

3. Bake for about 10mins. Don't let biscuits brown, as they will be overcooked. Allow to cool.

4. To make the icing: mix all icing ingredients together, adjust for taste or consistency. Ice the bottom of one biscuits and sandwich two biscuits together to serve.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rachel Allen's Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies

School holidays mean that I get to do things that I normally don't do...like watching Rachel Allen Bake!  (LifeStyle Food)    Rachel inspires you to get into that kitchen and create.   With 4 teenage girls getting together tonight for a special sleepover dinner I wanted to cook something yummy for an after dinner treat.


My youngest (16) is still best friends with the girls she started kindergarten with 12 years ago, even though they're going to different schools and one now lives in a different state.   Come school holidays, they always try to get together.    Special friendships.


These 'blondies' (brownies) are rather decadent even though I used 'light' peanut butter to try to cut down a little on the kilojoules.   The verdict from the girls...D E L I C I O U S!

Rachel Allen's Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies

 Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies

Recipe from Rachel Allen Bake!

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/8942/peanut-butter-and-white-chocolate-blondies 

Ingredients

  • 125g (4 ½ oz) plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g (31/2oz) butter, softened
  • 150g (5oz) crunchy peanut butter
  • 175g (6oz) soft light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 75g (3oz) white chocolate, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170ยบC (325°F), Gas mark 3. Butter the sides of the cake tin (20 x 20cm (8 x 8in) square cake tin) and line the base with greaseproof paper.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and peanut butter together until very soft. Add the sugar, egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the flour, baking powder and the chopped chocolate and mix to form a dough.
  4. Place the dough in the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes or until golden brown and almost firm in the centre.
  5. Allow to cool in the tin, before removing and cutting into squares.




How long do these delicious squares store? I don't think they'll last long enough for it to be an issue. Once in a while, a little decadence can be a good thing.



Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.  ~Mark Twain

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Vegetarian Lebanese Cooking Class with Chef, Adam Guthrie


When Lebanese families come together to share and enjoy a meal or even when you walk into a Lebanese restaurant, the word 'sahteyn' if often said.   Loosely translated it means 'twice your health'.  Sahteyn was an appropriate way to start tonight's vegetarian cooking class with chef, Adam Guthrie from 'I Feel Good'. The business was founded when Adam and his artist wife, Ruth (Roo) saw an opportunity to help people achieve the skills needed to live a healthy life.

"We are all about providing you with the tools and resources necessary to help you on your journey to creating and maintaining a healthier, happier, more conscious and meaningful life."

http://www.ifeelgood.com.au

Adam and Roo (and their two young daughters) have been living a vegetarian lifestyle for many years and Adam's recipes and cooking style reflects his philosophies on life.  There are no animal products used in Adam's recipes so whilst the classes are called 'vegetarian' they are also suitable for vegans.


Loubiab' Zeith - Green Beans Cooked in Tomato with onions, garlic & lemon juice
This was my seventh class with Adam and the main reason I keep returning is for inspiration in my cooking.    I always leave with new found culinary skills and recipes, vowing to take this knowledge and feed my family & friends!


Adam demonstrating how to prepare fresh herbs - the secret is in the motion of the knife AND not over chopping.
Anyone walking into the kitchen at Kiama's Pavillion may have thought that they were in a busy restaurant kitchen on a Friday night with 12 guest cooks chopping, stirring and mixing 10 different Lebananese dishes.   If you expect to sit back and watch Adam demonstrate his cooking skills then this is not the class for you!   This is a 'hands-on' experience and through 'ownership' of the final feast that everyone sits down to at the end of the evening, guest cooks feel delighted with their achievements.


As I said...it's a hands-on (or hands-in) kind of class.   Here one of the guys prepares the falafel.
The evening commenced at 6pm with greetings at the door of the Kiama Pavillion, recently built and overlooking the ocean.   As we are only 3 days into spring, guests didn't get to enjoy much of the beautiful view before night fell however in Summer, it's wonderful to sit down to dinner after the class with the doors open enjoying the sea breeze.

As always, Adam's classes attract a wide variety of people:  men & women, young & not so young, some come with their partners or a family member, others come alone.  All guests, however, come in the quest of learning how to cook delicious, healthy food for themselves, their family and friends.  If you were strangers at the beginning of the night, by the time you sit down to dinner you're all talking as if you've been friends for years.   Cooking and eating together tends to have that effect.

So with introductions over...it was down to the business of cooking!





Our Menu
Vegetarian Lebanese 

Hummus

Baba Ghanoush

 Falafel

Tabbouleh

Tahini Sauce

Musakka
Aubergine, tomato and chickpea casserole

Loubiab' Zeith
Green Beans Cooked in Tomato

Batata Bil Kizbara
Potato with Coriander

Mujaddara
Rice cooked with lentils

Baklava

First we needed to prepare our dessert - Baklava.   We gathered around the table to watch Adam demonstrate the art of working with Filo pastry.   Filo is one of my favourite pastries however having tackled this paper thin and sometimes tricky pastry many times, it was good to learn some techniques from a professional.

Preparing the sugar syrup for the baklava
After demonstrating, the job of preparing the baklava was given to guest cook, Debbie, and the result was delicious. Some baklavas are prepared using honey however this one was made using a sugar syrup flavoured with rose and orange blossom water. The sweetness was complimented by the spicy taste of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon, topped with a mix of finely chopped walnuts, pistachios and almonds. Yum!


Concentrating - guest cook Debbie prepares the baklava...
Working with paper-thin filo can be tricky!
Brushing each layer of filo with melted 'butter' (actually, Nuttelex)
...and this is the result.     A sweet to die for!


Adam believes that the food we eat should be as fresh and natural as possible.  That means he uses organically grown food with the least possible processing.   Adam uses Sydney grocers Doorstep Organics at home and for his cooking classes.   Doorstep organics, as the name implies, delivers beautiful fresh organic produce throughout Sydney, as far north as the Central Coast and down to Berry.   Whilst the prices are a little more than you'd pay at your local supermarket, you do get what you pay for - fresh, pesticide free fruit and veg that hasn't been stored for months.  
Check out 'Doorstep Organics'  http://doorstep.com.au/


Where possible Adam always tries to use fresh, Australian produce.
Back to the kitchen...guests pair up and are given a specific course to cook, the recipe and ingredients at a 'station' situated around the benches of the kitchen.  


A rather unconventional way of roasting aubergine - just put it straight on the flame of a gas burner.
The aubergine is turned until the skin blackens and the flesh in soft.  The aubergine is then placed into a plastic bag to sweat and then the skin is removed.    This became the major ingredient in the baba ghanoush - the smokey flavour was amazing!

Adam demonstrates how to dice an onion - the trick is keeping the bottom of the onion in tact. Great to be able to finally produce those perfect little pieces of onion - I (almost) felt like a real chef.

The lima beans above are transformed into these delicious falafel beans flavoured with cumin, garlic and coriander and topped with a beautiful tahini sauce.
The main ingredient of Adam's delicious hummus - I can honestly say that nothing I've tasted from stores or restaurants have come close to the delicious flavour and texture of Adam's recipe - it's to die for.   I could easily make a meal of it with a piece of Lebanese bread.  
Preparing the ingredients for Musakka -
Aubergine, tomato and chickpea casserole
This was my favourite dish of the night. 
 
Guest cook Su gets a helping hand from the chef.
The secret ingredient for the Mussaka - Molasses. This thick, black liquid adds a rich taste and colour to dishes.
Cooking onions and chickpeas for the mussaka.
Browned aubergine for the mussaka - fried in a little olive oil the eggplant turns a lovely caramel colour.
How to chop herbs, keeping them crisp and green without losing their beautiful texture and flavour.

The kitchen was full of delicious aromas coming from every direction - and lots of laughter.
Mussaka
F
...a sprinkle of rock salt
Mussaka - looking good!
The soaked bourghal ready to be added to the Tabbouleh
Tabouleh - this beautiful Lebanese salad looks as good as it tastes.
Potatoes are cut into small cubes and fried for the Batata Bil Kizbara or Potato with Coriander.   Add some paprika, fresh garlic and coriander - I was lucky to even get to taste this one, it was so popular.
Beautiful crushed pistachios for the baklava.
Another successful and fun culinary experience filled with cooking, laughter, learning (and eating).


Strangers only a few hours before...friends sit down to enjoy the fruits of their labour!

 ... I wonder what part of the world Adam will take us to next time?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Harbour View - Kiama, Australia

The last day of winter - well that's a good excuse for a celebration in itself - however tonight's dinner at the Harbour View Restaurant in Kiama was to celebrate the birthday of one of my oldest (meaning we've been friends for years) and dearest friends, Jenni.    Jen and I met in Perth, Western Australia when we were both young Air Force wives.   Decades later we ended up living in the same seaside town on the other side of Australia.


The beautiful birthday girl, Jenni

We left the ordering in the hands of Jenni's husband Shane, alias Bunta, mainly because we were all too busy talking to notice that the orders were being taken, let alone having even looked at the menu. It was therefore a pleasant surprise when the dishes started to arrive.


Our starter - baskets of vegetable tempura.


Honey prawns


Pad Thai Noodle
Stir fried noodle, tofu, chicken & king prawn, crunchy peanut, shallot & bean sprout

Green Curry
Chicken cooked in green curry paste, coconut milk, bean, squash, capsicum & basil leaves

Duck stir fried in a tasty combination of soy sauce, tamarind & palm sugar with cashew nut & capsicum


Jungle Curry
Beef cooked in curry paste without coconut milk, capsicum, basil, beans, young corn, herbs


BYO!


Blue boots from Japan are mandatory!

Kiama restauranteur Gail shows off her cute boots.


I should point out that whilst the name 'Harbour View' is correct - the restaurant is opposite beautiful Kiama Harbour - water is only viewed from the take-away area.   The restaurant is located at the back of the building.


The staff at the Harbour View, both in the kitchen and in the restaurant are friendly and the service is excellent.  Whilst the food is not as hot and spicy as you'd get in Bangkok (David is a chilli-holic) it's tasty and reasonably priced.

A fun night!   Happy Birthday Jenni.  xxx

Harbour View Thai
48 Terralong St 
Kiama NSW 2533
Australia

Telephone:  (02) 4232 144