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I love freshly baked cookies and even more so love making cookies. For one, it’s so easy to make and secondly, just the smell of them baking in the oven makes you all feel like a kid again. I made these cookies when I really had nothing else to do and had walnuts and choc chips lying around in the pantry. I must point out that these cookies don’t use baking powder so you will find they will not expand in the oven nor will they have that chewy texture some might prefer (like Subway cookies). These are slightly denser but tasty nonetheless. Check out the recipe from Taste.com.au below

Walnut and Choc Chip Cookies (Taste.com.au)

Ingredients
125g butter, softened (You can use baking margarine but will not have the same taste)
50g (1/4 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
225g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour
150g good-quality dark cooking chocolate, coarsely chopped (or buttons)
150g (1 1/2 cups) walnut halves, coarsely chopped

Method
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

2. Use an electric beater to beat butter and sugar in a medium bowl until well combined. Add the egg and beat until combined.
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3. Sift the flour over the butter mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Add the chocolate and walnuts, and stir to combine.
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4. Use your hands to roll tablespoonsful of the cookie mixture into balls. Place the balls, 3cm apart, on prepared trays. Use a fork to flatten slightly.

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5. Bake in preheated oven, swapping the trays halfway through cooking, for 20 minutes or until light golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool on the trays for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Impressions

I used margarine (that can be used for baking) but found it lacks the buttery taste that makes cookies so tasty and also slightly drier. It’s a somewhat strange taste at first but after a few bites it isn’t so bad and actually kinda addictive. The chopped walnuts have this beautiful aroma in the cookies and the dark chocolate chips give it just enough sweetness. I know most would prefer more sugar, so even doubling the sugar while using dark chocolate chips still would be not too sweet.

I found that the original recipe uses 200g of cooking chocolate but when mixing it all in, it looked like a ridiculously large quantity that would overwhelm the entire cookie and you wouldn’t be able to shape them properly. Just slowly add the walnuts and chocolate in until you come to your preferred balance. As mentioned above, the cookies will almost be the same size before and after baking so keep that in mind. I wouldn’t call these healthy cookies but they are a lighter option if using margarine and less chocolate (and sugar)

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If you’re ever travelling on Whitehorse Road in Box Hill, you may come across Red Cup Cafe, brimming with people on the weekends no matter how early or late there is certain to be filled with locals. Red Cup Cafe offers your typical dishes that you would find in any other cafe but it’s not what kind of food that matters, it’s the taste.

One of their offerings is the Baked Eggs with Chorizo, Tomatoes, Cheese and Spinach (shown above) and it’s an absolute stunner. The dish pan comes out straight from the oven with the cheese golden in colour. Mixed in with this is the spinach, tomatoes and the chorizos, served with a Spanish styled chilli sauce and toasted sourdough bread. The spiciness of the chorizo opens up the palette and complements everything extremely well and with just the right amount of sauce from the tomatoes at the bottom of the pan. Nothing to fault.

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Their Ham and Tomato Sandwich with Mayonnaise isn’t quite the looker and nor is it anything special, unfortunately. I would say it needs sauce or dressing and although the mayonnaise is supposed to fill that role, I find the mayonnaise too overpowering and too rich to be consumed with the sandwich. Some may prefer the tomatoes still to be cold even after the sandwich is toasted but I’m not one of those people. It’s a decent dish but not one you would solely come back for.

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Red Cup Cafe’s Steak Sandwich with chutney is also a slight disappointment. The centrepiece of the dish is supposed to be the steak and here the cut of meat chosen makes a poor filling for a sandwich. The reason being as the beef is extremely chewy, difficult to slice apart and lacks in any sort of seasoning whether that be pepper or salt. The chutney I find does not complement the sandwich at all, having a sweet and sour flavour to it that is jarring to the steak and salad within. A letdown of gargantuan proportions.

IMG_0455Customers coming to Red Cup Cafe wouldn’t come back if the coffee wasn’t any good and the coffee here is one of the better offerings I’ve found around these parts (Gourmet Girl’s coffee in Blackburn does not even come close)  At Red Cup Cafe they offer a Seriously large cup, which is made for two or maybe one that desires a significant coffee hit.

Impressions

Red Cup is a bit of a mixed bag. Their Baked Eggs is probably one of the better versions I’ve come across and yet their sandwiches do not meet the same standard. Luckily the coffee is good or otherwise I wouldn’t give this place a second look.

Red Cup Cafe on Urbanspoon

Red Cup Cafe
1124 Whitehorse Rd
Box Hill VIC 3128

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There is this bakery in  Newmarket/Flemington that has wonderful biscuits. One of these is their crescents which are buttery, light and nutty. I came across a Greek Almond Crescents recipe in the book, Mastering the Art of Baking by Anneka Manning. These Almond Crescents are very similar to the ones I found in Flemington but the ones in the recipe book do call for chopped nuts which I don’t recall them being so prominent in their version. These crescents are very easy to make and I don’t think you can really go wrong with the mixing, just knowing when the crescents are done is probably the most difficult part. Check out the recipe below!

Greek Almond Crescents
Makes 38
Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins

Ingredients
200g butter (softened)
1/2 cup icing sugar (sifted) plus extra for dusting
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 egg (at room temperature)
1 egg yolk
1 tbs brandy
375g/2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
155g/1 cup blanched almonds, toasted and finely chopped

Method

1. Preheat oven to 160C (315F). Line 2 large baking trays with non-stick baking powder.

2. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar and orange zest in a small bowl until pale and creamy.

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3. Add the egg, egg yolk and brandy and continue to beat until well combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

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4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Then stir in the almonds. Add to the butter mixture and use a wooden spoon to mix until well combined.

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5. Shape level tablespoons of mixture into crescents and place on the trays, leaving about 3 cm (1 1/4 inches) between each to allow for spreading

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6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, swapping the trays around after 10 minutes, or until lightly golden and cooked through. Leave on the trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Dust heavily with icing sugar while still warm then cool to room temperature.

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Impressions

As mentioned above, the difficult parts is probably whisking the eggs and sugar until it’s light and fluffy, mixing the flour in well and letting the crescents bake in the oven for the specified amount of time. If your crescents are larger (they will take more time) so you may want to factor that into your baking time but also a good way to check is if the bottom of the crescent is firm and can easily be lifted up (also a tad brown)

I love these crescents, it has just the right amount of butter but also the cinnamon flavour subtly comes through. If you find cinnamon a bit strong, just half the amount in the recipe and I think you still will be able to taste it. You know the crescents are perfect when it melts just ever so slowly in your mouth. Truly a recipe you wouldn’t want to miss.

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By Korea on the bustling Victoria St may get overlooked by many passing by but it certainly is a pleasant and enjoyable dining experience. From the outside of By Korea, you might not even know it’s open but don’t fret it is open for Lunch and Dinner. The decor inside is wonderful, fusing the traditional Korean with industrial style.

By Korea offers most of the usual Korean staples such as stone pot soups, Bibimbap, and of course BBQ. Being a fan of the Korean Spicy Seafood Tofu Soup served in Stone Hot Pot with Rice I had to order it here.

The soup here is definitely spicy and I love it, and with the addition of fresh seafood (shrimp, clams) and a generous offering of soft tofu it is a treat to eat. My only concern is the graininess of the clams itself but that didn’t detract too much from the flavour of the soup.

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The Sweet Chilli Fried Chicken is also another tasty delight. Korean food does lean towards being sweet more often than not, and this doesn’t stray too far from the norm. Wonderfully crisp, with added sweetness and topped with a sunny side egg.

IMG_0510The Beef Bulgogi is another winner and very generous with their servings. The Beef is tender and juicy with both sweetness and spiciness, served with sunny side egg, salad and Kimchi.

Impressions

I’m uncertain why By Korea doesn’t have the same popularity as another Korean restaurant only minutes down the road (Seoul Soul), even though I find the food to be better for value and tastier here. Plus, for Lunch you receive tea and a free soft drink as a bonus. I do recommend giving By Korea a try, it definitely shines amongst the plethora of eateries on Victoria St, Richmond.

 

By Korea on Urbanspoon

By Korea

5/240 Victoria St
Richmond VIC 3121

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 Wanting to make a Panna Cotta but without the trouble of pureeing fruits like mangos to make the Panna Cotta, I found this white chocolate recipe on Taste.com.au. The addition of the coffee syrup intrigued me as it seemed too delicious not to give it a try. I’ve made this a couple times already and have made a few changes to the recipe to my liking. As something extra, I tried to add some toffee on top just to make it look nicer.

White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Espresso Coffee Syrup (Taste.com.au)

Equipment
You will need eight 150ml capacity dariole moulds for this recipe. If you like to serve it in bowls, just any small bowls will do.

Ingredients
Panna Cotta
600ml thickened cream
1 x 180g pkt white chocolate, broken into small pieces
160ml (2/3 cup) milk (can use light milk)
70g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
2 tbs boiling water
3 tsp powdered gelatine

Coffee Syrup (Version 1)
100ml freshly brewed strong espresso coffee or 3 Nespresso capsules using the espresso function
3 or 4 tsp white sugar

Coffee Syrup (Version 2)
100ml freshly brewed espresso coffee (3 Nespresso capsules using the espresso function – froth skimmed off)
100g raw sugar/caster sugar

Toffee (Taste.com.au)
215g (1 cup) caster sugar
60ml (1/4 cup) water

Panna Cotta
Method
1. Heat water in a small saucepan over medium/high heat until it starts to boil. In a separate heat-proof bowl place the cream, chocolate, milk and caster sugar in the bowl and over the saucepan over medium/low heat.   Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.
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2. Place the boiling water in a heatproof bowl. Sprinkle with gelatine and whisk with a fork to remove any lumps. Set aside for 3 minutes or until gelatine dissolves. (I also just place the bowl of gelatine on top of my bowl of boiling water which helps keep it warm/dissolve any extra gelatine powder)
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3. Add gelatine to cream mixture and whisk to combine.

4. Pour among eight 150ml capacity dariole moulds. Place on a baking tray. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 6 hours to set. Or overnight. Make sure the plastic wrap is tight as some of the heat from the mixture may create water droplets and affect the consistency on the top layer of the panna cotta (Although not an issue if using dariole moulds and turning them upside down)

5. Dip moulds, 1 at a time, into hot water for 1-2 seconds, then turn onto serving plates. Drizzle with coffee syrup (steps below) to serve.

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Coffee Syrup (Version 1)

1. Place the coffee and white sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.

Note: You may not even need to heat it over a saucepan if you can dissolve the sugar in the hot coffee/espresso. If using Nespresso capsules, just skim off the froth before serving.

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Coffee Syrup (Version 2)
1. Place the coffee and sugar in a small saucepan over medium/high heat until it starts to boil. Reduce down to a medium/low heat and stir until the syrup coats the back of the spoon or until the consistency desired. Please note that if you place the syrup in the fridge (or when cooled down) the syrup will be slightly more thicker and viscous than when it was cooking. Set aside to cool and then place into the fridge if you prefer it to be a thicker consistency.

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Toffee
1. Stir water and sugar in a saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Don’t bring it to the boil until all the sugar is dissolved.
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2. Increase heat to high. To dissolve any sugar left on the side of the pan, brush down with a wet pastry brush. Bring to boil.
3. Cook until the mixture is a rich golden colour – don’t let it burn. Remove from heat – the residual heat continues to colour toffee.

4. Allow to cool and break into pieces to decorate. Please only add the toffee when wanting to serve, otherwise the moisture from the panna cotta will result in the toffee to turn to liquid.
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Notes:

  • Toffee troubleshooting: A common problem when making toffee is crystallisation. The sugar clumps together into a white and grainy syrup that turns into a messy solid mass. To avoid starting again, try these tips.
  • Dissolve the sugar completely before increasing the heat and bringing the mixture to the boil. You’ll know when it’s dissolved – there won’t be any crystals on your spoon.
  • Brush any sugar crystals from the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush during the toffee-making process. Undissolved sugar on the side of the pan causes crystallisation.
  • Don’t stir the toffee mixture once it comes to the boil – this also leads to crystallisation.

Impressions

I reduced the sugar from the original recipe as I find the white chocolate already adds a significant amount of sugar to the panna cotta. The panna cotta here is smooth and creamy but slightly denser due to the larger quantity of thickened cream used. Some may prefer a lighter panna cotta (I actually do) but due to the amount of cream used and in the white chocolate too, it really can’t be helped. I’m not sure if increasing the milk quantity and lowering the cream would result in a panna cotta that sets properly but certainly I’ll keep you updated to see if that does work.

The coffee syrup (Number 1) is a more liquid syrup with less sugar. It allows the bitterness and strong espresso flavour to come out and since the panna cotta has enough sweetness, the contrast makes an excellent combination.

Version 2 of the coffee syrup is sweeter due to the requirement to make it more viscous and thicker. You don’t know how many times I tried reducing the first version into a thicker syrup when it couldn’t possibly do so with the minimal sugar added. The consistency of version 2 is lovely though.

As mentioned above, the toffee should only be added at the very last minute, as it will start to turn to liquid when either in contact with the panna cotta or coffee syrup slowly.

This recipe was a crowd pleaser so I definitely can recommend giving it a try and it’s very easy to make as well.

 

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