#Baketober 2014!

Ahoy there, it’s that special, sweet time of the year again!!!

We’re rolling into October and that only means one thing: #baketober.

I’m not a regular or seasoned baker, but I do love how fun baking and can be so I started Baketober as a way to encourage myself and others to bake more and experiment with new recipes.

baketober-2014-callout

I encourage you to spend some time baking in October too. It can be anything - sweet or savoury, difficult or easy - just as long as it’s something you haven’t tried baking before. I have a stash of recipes that I save throughout the year so it’s a perfect time to pick and choose a few to try.

My plan is to bake something every weekend in October, but it’s up to you how often you want to bake, just make sure you plan out the time for it!

Did I mention that it’s super easy to take part? Simply bake something (anything!) and tag and mention #baketober in a blog post about what you baked - with photographic evidence of course!

I’ll be adding all posts I come across to the official Baketober collection page.

This year, I’m considering trying out a pie recipe, something bread-y, a savoury tart, and maybe cheesecake or shortbread? Thinking about all this is already making me hungry!

Will you join me in #baketober? What’s something new that you’re excited to try your hand at baking?

How to make sushi at home

Guyssss! It’s sushi time!!

This is something that’s been on my to do list for so long that I even pondered adding it to my original 30 before 30 list… but then I finally did it one Friday night and here are all the photos and instructions to prove it.

homemade-sushihomemade-sushi

So it turns out that sushi making is incredibly easy. The only tricky part I found, was finding the yummy ingredients that make up the core of the sushi roll. Or maybe I’m just picky?

For my rolls, I went with what I could find from the supermarket: cream cheese, avocado, corn, smoked salmon and cucumber. It was delicious, and I completely over-estimated quantity, that I ended up having so much left over!

The most peculiar thing to get right is the rice preparation. Sushi doesn’t just use the standard Chinese cooked rice. There’s a bit of technique about it, so it’s more complex than just throwing rice into a rice cooker and waiting for it to tick over. 

What you need to make sushi rice:

  • 3 cups Japanese rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 120ml rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt

(I found that this made 4 serves of sushi: 2 meals for 2 people!)

How to prepare the sushi rice:

1. Wash the rice in a sieve several times under cold water, until the water begins to run clear.

2. Soak the rice in cold water for 1 hour.

3. Place rice in a saucepan with equal volume of water, bring to the boil and simmer on low heat for approx. 10 minutes. It’s a signal that the rice is ready when all the water has been absorbed.

4. Pour rice into a bowl, add in the rice vinegar, sugar and salt.

5. Using the cool setting on a hairdryer, use it on the rice until cool.

And now you’re ready to rock and roll!

The rice at this point should be quite sticky and fragrant, on the slight sweet side if you give it a taste. 

homemade-sushi

What else you need to make sushi:

  • Bamboo sushi mat, completely wrapped in glad wrap (so the sushi won’t get caught in the grooves between the bamboo sticks)
  • Bowl of cold water (to help keep your fingers moist so it doesn’t stick to the rice)
  • Sheets of nori (the pieces of seaweed)
  • Other ingredients of your choosing, cut into thin strips if possible - I used: cream cheese, avocado, corn, smoked salmon and cucumber

homemade-sushi

How to roll the sushi:

1. Place a sheet of nori on the bamboo mat, making sure to line it up to one end of the mat so you’ll be able to start rolling it in immediately.

2. Dip your fingers in water before grabbing a small handful of rice. Spread a thin layer of rice all over the nori, leaving around 1cm gap at the end of the nori that’s furthest away from you (i.e. not the side that you’ll start rolling in from). Make sure the rice is pressed down firmly enough so it’s stuck onto the nori.

3. Begin placing your chosen core ingredients onto the rice, approx 2-3cm near from the top of where you’ll begin rolling. Keep the ingredients tight and close to each other.

Once you’ve finished adding in the ingredients, begin rolling the mat in from the side closest to you, towards the direction of the rest of the nori sheet.

Use your fingers to tighten the mat as you roll around and over the top of the ingredients so you’ve essentially created a ‘hump’, making sure the ingredients are tucked inside this hump. Continue slowly rolling along, keeping everything tightly rolled until you reach the end of your nori. There should be no gaps between the rice and the filling.

If it helps, I highly recommend watching this really informative video before you begin so you can see the rolling in action. It really helped me visualise it before I dove right in.

Once you’ve finished the roll, remove it from the mat and slice it into smaller pieces, or just in half to create two rolls. It helps to use a sharp knife that is wet so the rice doesn’t stick to it each time you cut it. 

homemade-sushi

…and ta-da, mission complete! 

I recommend serving with pickled ginger, soy sauce and lots of delicious wasabi :)

Have fun rolling! Who else has tried making sushi and loves it? I can’t wait to do it again… maybe this weekend!

(Recipe adapted from The Guardian)

Mamasita, Melbourne

mamsita melbourne

Back late last year, when we ventured out to Melbourne to tour around and I was suffering from the worst and longest cough I’d ever had in my life, we dined at Mamasita!

You know one of those relatively new restaurants that your friends on Facebook rave on about?

Yeah, it was one of those, so obviously I didn’t have high hopes for it. Seriously, how often do hyped up restaurants actually meet expectations? Hardly ever, in my experience. Particularly when it comes to Mexican cuisine, seeing as I haven’t had a great deal of “awesome” Mexican food in Australia.

mamsita nachos

But. I was wrong. And super happy to be wrong, because the food packed a punch! 

In my eyes, this was the best Mexican I’ve had locally. The prices weren’t overly inflated, the decor was clean and shiny, the staff were lovely and prompt… and the best thing, we arrived at 5.45pm (as recommended by my friend Jo - thanks for the tip girl) and we JUST beat the evening rush. 

When we arrived, Mamasita was already fairly busy, I’m quite sure we were one of the last few to be seated without having to wait. But by the time we left around two hours later….. the queue was ridiculously long. It trailed all the way down the stair case from the restaurant down to the street entrance, and along the foot path. INSANE! I probably should have a taken a photo, damn!

mamasita

This dish in the photo just above was my favourite. Luckily it’s still on the current menu so I managed to find the name of it: Buñuelos de garbanzos.

Think Chickpea fritters, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini & jalapeño herb sauce… and all of this in your mouth at the same time? I normally can’t do much spice but the herb sauce wasn’t too extreme, so the zing was just perfect!

Now this Mole rojo con pato was rather memorable. Why? I couldn’t really eat much of it (hate it when that happens), as I found it too spicy for me. Edit: Gareth did NOT love this one, I thought he did. But he typically has a better memory and he tells me he “hated it”, as it didn’t taste good. I still don’t know what ‘mole’ is in Spanish, will need to google this for future avoidance.

mamasita mexico food

Now moving to better tasting things: I remember this quesadilla being really nice and not too cheesy, Quesadilla de Huitlacoche. It contained mushrooms, cheese, herbs and salsa with layers of soft tortilla. So simple but so good:

mexican foodmamasita

Ahhhhh, and how could I forget to mention the Sangria? Yes, I know, I had a bad cough and was very sick… but it’s not like I’m in Melbourne all the time, so I dove right in! ;)

I highly recommend this dig, I would definitely go again if I’m ever in Melbourne next. I would avoid the Mole dish and have loads more sangria! Meanwhile, I’m going to be dreaming and savouring about Mexican food some more as I’ll be in the US in September, yay! Mexican food trucks with delicious and large sub-$10 tacos and burritos! #comefillthybelly

Mamasita on Urbanspoon

Air Coffee

It’s not too often that I come across a great, hidden away café find that gets me so excited that I want to share it with you. But here’s one!

Air Coffee, located in Castle Hill is a great place for brunch or if you work in the area, then you probably already know about it, hey? ;)

air coffee, castle hill

Tucked away in north-west suburbia, we nearly missed it… pro tip: it’s opposite Spotlight and a little bit further down that same road.

It’s got a really nice roomy, stripped back feeling to it. Service was really friendly and prompt (which I don’t find too often these days), and the menu had a special called Green Eggs & Ham. They also have delicious milkshakes. And I don’t even normally drink milkshakes…

green eggs and ham, air coffee

This is the “Green Eggs & Ham” I ordered… it brought me back to my Dr Seuss childhood days… oh and the green is really just pesto - which I love, so win-win!

caramel milkshake, air coffee

See that epic-sized silver milkshake cup on the left? Yep, that contained a whole lot of caramel, milky goodness. I nearly demolished the whole thing. Even Gareth had a taste and remarked how good it was, much to my surprise.

The milkshakes seemed to be quite popular. A table near us who came a bit after we arrived, tried to order several milkshakes but we overhead that they’d sold out in the caramel and one other flavour. Crazy!

Mmmmm… I still remember that creamy caramel flavour. Gareth, if you’re reading this, can we go back next weekend? :)

breakfast burrito, air coffee

Air Coffee does breakfast burritos too and they do it really well. This was Gareth’s pickings (well technically we shared half-half of each other’s meal) and it was so tasty, particularly the sauce.

So I didn’t take any snaps of the coffee but I’d definitely rate it up there. Plus, I’m sure you’ve seen enough of photos of coffee mugs, right? ;)

I’ve found their menu online and it seems like they serve lunch too.

If you haven’t been here yet, I highly recommend it. Double thumbs up.

And maybe bring a notepad, a tablet or a book too, it can get pretty cozy and chilled out, you might want to stay there for several hours!

AIR Coffee on Urbanspoon