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I was searching for a replacement recipe to mash potato, just to try something different. Even though I am a potato head, I heard about parsnip mash in Masterchef and they always make some weird vegetable into a mash so why can’t I be weird too! I found this recipe from the BBC GoodFood website titled Winter root mash with buttery crumbs and looked quite delicious and didn’t seem to difficult to make either. Although they said it’s for winter I didn’t care, mash is all year round.

Winter root mash with buttery crumbs aka Parsnip and Swede Mash (BBC GoodFood)

Serves 10

Ingredients
650g parsnips , cut into even chunks
650g swedes , cut into same size chunks as the parsnips
142ml tub soured cream
1 rounded tbsp hot horseradish (English Provender is good) (I used Spiced Mustard)
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
butter , for greasing

Butter topping
50g butter
1 small onion , finely chopped
50g fresh white breadcrumbs (from about 4 slices)
a small handful thyme leaves, plus extra for scattering
25g parmesan , coarsely grated (I used a mix of parmesan and mozzarella)

Method
1. In a large pan of boiling salted water, cook the parsnips and swede, covered, for about 20 minutes until tender. Drain well, then mash them together using a masher or food processor until reasonably smooth but still with a bit of texture. Stir in the soured cream, horseradish and thyme and season with salt and pepper.

2. Spoon into a buttered shallow ovenproof dish and put to one side.

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3. Make the topping. Melt the butter in a frying pan and cook the onion for 5-6 minutes, until gorgeously golden. Mix in the breadcrumbs and stir to brown and crisp a little. Season with salt and pepper and add the thyme. Take the pan off the heat.

4. Spoon the mixture casually over the top of the mash. Scatter over the parmesan. (Can be made ahead to this point and kept covered in the fridge for up to a day. Or can be frozen for up to a month.)

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5. Bake at 190C/gas 5/ fan 170C for 35-40 minutes if doing from cold, 25-30 minutes if not, or 1 1?2 – 1 3?4 hours from frozen (put foil on top, and remove it for the last 10 minutes) – until golden and crisp on top. Serve scattered with a few more thyme sprigs and leaves.

Impressions

I absolutely loved this recipe, especially fresh from the oven. Although I made a slight alteration with the recipe using spiced mustard instead of horseradish I don’t think it made much of a difference.

I did steps 1 and 2 the day before since I was baking a few other things the next day too but it didn’t appear to affect the mash when I took it out of the fridge the next day. 

I think the use of fresh thyme leaves (from my garden!) made it smell so good. I really couldn’t get enough thyme in this recipe, it was used profusely into the mash and sprinkled on top and in the topping.

I also used a mix of parmesan and mozzarella as the cheese topping which I think worked in its favour. Very tasty cheese on top, indeed. The topping was cheesy but crispy and the breadcrumbs added a nice crunch too. The swede and parsnip mash was just cooked to perfection. It also didn’t seem too fattening either, the sour cream adds to this idea but since it doesn’t use all that much, it tastes very much fresh and light (well as light as a buttery cheesy mash can be). I’m definitely making this again, such a pleasant surprise.

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People that frequent Sydney may know of Mamak in Chinatown, and it’s popularity over there has seemingly lead to Mamak opening down in Melbourne late last year. Serving Malaysian food and leaning towards a more Indian/Malaysian style cuisine, they don’t offer a large selection of food but what they do focus on, they do it well.

Mamak’s popularity also extends to Melbourne, having walked passed there even before it opened I saw a few groups of people waiting until it was officially opened. I don’t know if it’s that honeymoon period most places have but I have a feeling it’s probably not just due to that.

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We ordered their Curry Chicken Nasi Lemak, almost a staple of Malaysian cuisine, side note, even the Air Asia’s Nasi Lemak isn’t that bad, all things considered (plain plane food) . This is their only rice dish unless you order the mains but they do also offer a few different sides with the Nasi Lemak such as curry chicken, sambal prawns or friend chicken at varying price points.

What was instantly pleasing was their sambal, it was spicy, sweet and basically just right. Their chicken wasn’t too bad either! It was cooked well, and the curry sauce didn’t have too many spices that some other restaurants seem to put. For the price though at $11.50 it definitely leans on the pricier side, Nasi Lemak tends to be under $10 due to it’s simple ingredients and easy to cook. I remember eating Nasi Lemak wrapped in banana leaves (smaller size) and with no meat in Malaysia for roughly $1 AUD. Bad comparison but now I feel like visiting Malaysian again.

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We ordered a dozen Chicken and Beef satay for $16 and this again leans on the pricier side and the portions also seemed quite small but the sauce and flavour makes up for it. I really liked the satay sauce, it was spicy, and just sweet enough but I found it to be different to satay sauces I’ve had. It was nutty but didn’t seem to have that overwhelming peanut taste to it. If you ever venture towards Dandenong Market there is this fantastic satay shop near the Fish and Meat area, it has the best tasting satay sauce and chicken/beef satays at a reasonable price. You can buy them cooked, or uncooked (refrigerated or frozen). Really good.

I found the chicken satays to be the better of the two, having a more robust grilled flavour but still being able to taste the chicken. That’s not to say the beef wasn’t good either, but it certainly seemed a bit tougher in comparison.

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I always jump at the chance to order Murtabak because it seems so rare around these parts, well, it’s certainly getting more popular so that’s a plus. I prefer the Lamb Murtabak due to the flavour of lamb oozing through the roti makes it usually a marvellous dish. What I liked about Mamak’s Murtabak is that they stuffed the roti full of cooked lamb, onions, cabbage and egg. The filling was cooked perfectly and I could have eaten it all day. The only downside of having a thicker filling is that the roti served was on the soft side. I like my Murtabak roti crispy and this was nowhere near that, sadly. Probably the best Murtabak I’ve eaten in Victoria is still Taste of Singapore.

The curry sauce provided was surprisingly good, it was spicy and just creamy enough. Only con was that it was served just warm, and after tucking into the Murtabak, it was basically cold! The spicy sambal as commented on above complemented the roti well, I only wish there was more.

The other curry accompaniment which I can never remember the name of, but is always served with Roti, is as what you’d find in any other Malaysian restaurant. I don’t tend to have too much of it, but a small amount of this is always nice to have with freshly made roti or Murtabak. The only other downside is that you have to wait 15 or so minutes. I guess it’s great that it’s made to order though.

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You can’t go to a Malaysian restaurant without trying their Teh Tarik. I though Mamak’s Teh Tarik was on the sweet side but not probably not bad enough to think of your poor teeth straight away. I would also liked if it had more “tea” taste to it but other than that, I wouldn’t mind ordering it again. It was only $3.50 so it didn’t seem so scandalous. I remember ordering a Teh Tarik at the now closed Malaysian restaurant in QV (Before PappaRich) and that was served in this puny tea cup for two or so sips.

Impressions

What I like about Mamak is they focus on Roti and Satays, some of my favourite kinds of food. It is a bit disappointing their menu doesn’t have that much variety but I guess in terms of mamak style food, this is what they usually offer.

Their sambal is a delight in both their Nasi Lemak and the Murtabak. You can see why people are coming back for more and I can’t say no to more mamak style restaurants in Melbourne. The majority of the food is tasty, and cooked with though. If you’re in the CBD and want Malaysian Mamak food, you’d be hard pressed to find a better one.

Although for more variety, ChilliPadi in Flemington I feel offers better bang-for-your-buck but YMMV.

Mamak on Urbanspoon

Mamak Melbourne
366 Lonsdale St
Melbourne VIC 3000

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Around my holiday break I wanted to try making something with potatoes. Something crunchy, and yet not too fattening (as least fattening as potatoes can be), so I thought about sweet potato fries. Sweet potatoes are regarded as the healthier option but the difference is actually not too large as you might have heard. I read about the difficulties people have with making sweet potato fries crispy since they have a higher water content, so they tend to sag a bit unless you try deep frying it. Me, trying to avoid any heavy oils, and particularly deep frying anything, I wanted to grill/oven bake them. They certainly are very difficult to crisp up but other than that, they turned out decent enough for a side dish.

I found this recipe from the Food Network by Paula Deen. The original recipe as noted by the comments appears to be way over salted, luckily having read the comments I stuck by that and divided it by 4.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries (Food Network)

Ingredients
Olive Oil, for tossing
5 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch long slices, then 1/4-wide inch strips, using a crinkle cut knife
1 tablespoon House Seasoning (recipe follows)
1/2 teaspoon paprika

House Seasoning:
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

Method
1. Preheat oven to 230 degrees C. Line a sheet tray with parchment. In a large bowl toss sweet potatoes with just enough oil to coat.

2. Mix house seasoning ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

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3. Sprinkle potatoes with House Seasoning and paprika.

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4. Spread sweet potatoes in single layer on prepared baking sheet, being sure not to overcrowd.

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5. Bake until sweet potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

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Impressions

Baking sweet potato fries requires a lot more time than I imagined, simply because you need to keep flipping these around so that the entire chip crisps up. Otherwise you’d find that only one side is “crispy” (aka just slightly firmer in my case) and the bottom side is like a baked potato. Then, you have to consider the air temperature when turning the fries around as you would lose a lot of heat. So bear that in mind.

As you may see, the fries were a bit on the floppy side but nonetheless the flavour of the fries was decent. I think I may have added too much black pepper to my seasoning. Probably I would have added let’s say 1/5 cup or about there instead, and maybe sprinkled a bit more paprika and used a tad of chicken salt to replace the regular salt I used.

Keep in mind too, that only a very small amount of oil is needed for the seasoning to stick as then you may end up with wet potatoes that won’t evaporate in time. I enjoyed the process though don’t get me wrong, but I’m still searching for that perfect recipe.

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India Delights, as the name suggests is an Indian restaurant in Forest Hill, across the street from Forest Hill Chase Shopping Centre. I head one of the chefs here was from another Indian restaurant in Knoxfield (or around there) who has established this one recently. The food at India Delights is predominantly Indian (duh) but the food also has its Malaysian influences. It’s Mamak (Indian/Malaysian) but I feel it leans more heavily on its Indian ingredients as opposed.

Their Chicken Briyani as pictured above is quite tasty, the flavours of the rice are beautiful and taste as a Briyani should, plentiful of spices, and meat. The curry isn’t too bad either but it definitely tastes like your standard Indian curry (and spicy too). I prefer ChilliPadi’s Briyani to be honest and Taste of Singapore’s Briyani, but this would be a close third.

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Indian Rojak is one of those dishes you hardly see, but nonetheless it is a treat to order. It’s basically an assortment of vegetables/salad ingredients with crispy friend potatoes and tofu mixed with a spicy gravy. My mother swears this is one of the tastier Indian Rojak’s around, better than ChilliPadi’s. Her stamp of approval is extremely hard to get (haha) and I find it it be quite great too.  The gravy has a nice hint of spice that tingles on your tongue but doesn’t overtake the taste of the other ingredients. Very complementary.

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I ordered their Lamb Murtabak and it certainly is on the thick side of things, packed full of lamb and onions. I found the bread to be too soft, I prefer my Murtabak to be crispy on the bite but here it feels like roti that hasn’t been toasted. It’s probably because it’s difficult to get the balance of crispiness right with the inside cooked well but I’m unsure.

The curry also isn’t too bad, I felt it uses too many spices that doesn’t sit right with me. Some might prefer this kind of curry but I like the creamier varieties with the spices toned down. Overall it’s a decent dish, and quite filling at that, but Taste of Singapore’s Murtabak has it beat.

Impressions

Unsurprisingly, Indian Delights is quite popular with Malaysians and Singaporeans. During lunch time, that’s all you see eating there! I actually haven’t seen Indian diners there.

The food here as indicated above is more Indian influenced as opposed to Malaysian/Indian but that’s not a bad thing. A bit of variety is always welcomed. I don’t know if it’s my go to place for Mamak cuisine, however the food here served is overall quite good so on occasion I might venture down there again.

India Delights on Urbanspoon

India Delights
59 Mahoneys Rd
Forest Hill VIC 3131

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After coming back from a holiday in the USA and Canada, I became a larger fan of Mexican cuisine. On our way to the Grand Canyon we found this family Mexican restaurant that had really good (and absolutely filling) dishes. Of course for starters we had guacamole, and it was beautiful. So tasty, had a nice hint of lime, and coriander but not overbearing and letting the avocado shine. So when I came back to Australia I though what they hey, let’s try making it. I found this recipe on Good Food by Neil Perry that looked nice and fresh but I made some variations to it below.

Guacamole (Good Food)

Ingredients
1/2 small red onion
3 jalapeno chillies, seeds removed
1/2 bunch coriander, leaves only,
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 ripe avocados
juice of 2 limes
8 cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
corn chips, to serve

Method
1. Finely chop the onion, chillies and coriander leaves.

2. Place in a mortar with a generous amount of sea salt and pound with a pestle until you have a rough paste.

3. Peel, stone and halve the avocados and add to the mortar, pounding until they start to mash.

4. Add the lime juice and a good grind of pepper and fold through.

5. Add the cherry tomatoes and fold through gently. (I didn’t)

Note: If the mortar is an attractive granite one, serve the guacamole straight out of that, with a bowl of corn chips.

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Impressions

I actually didn’t have any jalapeño chillies so instead I used red chillies but I think I used the small type which are more on the mouth burning hot kind. Luckily I used only one very tiny chilli with the seeds out so it wasn’t too bad. I didn’t add the tomatoes either because I thought it might be nice to try it held back and simple.

I found the recipe to be decent, not anywhere to the level of the ones I’ve found on holiday but I think it was also because I used too much coriander! It asks for half a bunch, which I did use but it was so overbearing that I had to add another avocado to the mix to balance it out.  I’d probably only use a a 1/8 cup at first and keep adding a bit more to your liking. It still wasn’t how I wanted it in the end because I ran out of avocados to mix in, haha, but it tasted pretty good with corn chips (and beer). I think it was also because the avocados I purchased weren’t ripe yet, as they were still a tad hard when extracting them from the skin and had very minimal flavour.

If you’re looking for a guacamole recipe with a slight twist and zing, I think this is it. For something more authentic, I think it’s best to keep looking.

 

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