Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Vegan Oatmeal Banana & Craisin Muffins With Applesauce

I've been experimenting way too much with baking and muffins seem to be my new thing. They're easy to make so I have snacks enough to last me for the week at uni. You could easily freeze these too :) What really surprised me was the fact that these held together without any eggs!

These ones were even better than the sweet potato muffins I made last time! Which in comparison, had waaaay too much stevia... I should probably fix that recipe haha. The applesauce keeps these muffins moist and the banana gives it that tiny bit of banana flavour reminiscent of banana bread :) And cinnamon pairs so well with apples so I couldn't resist sprinkling some in. I love me a bit of spice! And the great news is they really don't need any added sugar. The riper your bananas, the sweeter your muffins will be - naturally! Well, the craisins have a fair bit of sugar but I took that into account when adding in stevia. I do love the sweet bursts from the craisins though. The best thing about these muffins are they are so easy to take on the go - just nuke them in the microwave for 20 seconds so that they are warm (and don't stick to the paper!) and you have yourself a yummy breakfast :)

Oatmeal Banana & Craisin Muffins With Applesauce
Makes 12


1 1/2 cups (200g) spelt flour (If you want to use whole wheat flour instead of spelt, remember 200g of spelt = 1 1/3 cup wheat flour)
3/4 cup (70g) rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp chia seeds

1/3 cup (90g) mashed very very ripe banana (the more spots the better!)
2/3 cup (190g) applesauce (I used Three Threes apple sauce which is sweetened)
1 tsp coconut oil
2 packets (4g) Natvia stevia
3/4 cup (200mL) oat milk (I used oat milk because of its thicker in consistency than normal milk. You could possibly use greek yogurt or maybe even skim/almond/soy milk but I can't vouch for the results)
2/3 cup craisins (or raisins, or any other fruit you like!)


1. Preheat oven to 190C or 375F. Line 12-cup muffin tin with liners and coat the inside of them with cooking spray or oil.

2. In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and chia seeds - leave it aside.

3. In a medium bowl combine mashed banana, applesauce, melted coconut oil, stevia, and oat milk. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Don’t overmix! The batter will be slightly lumpy, and that’s okay! Gently fold in the craisins.

4. Bake muffins for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached. Muffins are best served warm. Pop them in the microwave for 20 seconds before eating for a tasty snack!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Jazz City Milk Bar, Darlinghurst

I think I felt heart palpitations a little upon hearing that there was a southern American chef who cooked up fried chicken and waffles in Sydney. Authentic regional southern American cuisine and New Orleans Creole/Cajun cooking in the heart of Darlinghurst? I say yes a million times over to that! K, CM and I arrived early at around a quarter past six and there were many empty tables but unfortunately majority of them were all booked. They did offer us a table but told us it was reserved for seven. We are generally fast eaters so that didn't faze us much. We quickly decided what we wanted from the concise menu.

Pork belly burger, $18.00 + $4.00 extra for onion rings
There were so many slices of pork belly in this burger! There were Boston baked beans, pickled cucumber, tomato caramelised onions and lettuce along with the fatty pork belly. But what we won me over were those onion rings. I am so glad we forked out to get the onion rings because they were so awesomely crispy and as soon as you bit through the crunchy batter, the sweet onion came through. They were just so addictive!

Mushroom and onion burger, $17.00
This was the pick out of the two burgers! Beef patties and burgers are just meant to be. The combination of the ground beef patty with swiss brown mushrooms sauteed with caramelised onions, lettuce, tomato, mayo, pickle relish and a blue cheese foam made it a succulent burger that was delicious to eat. Albeit a bit messy to eat, but all the good burgers are ;) And the sweet potato fries? So much better than the ones I make at home and your regular fries (but that may be because I am a sweet potato fanatic). I want to know how they make these so moreish!

Chicken and waffles, $24.00
Though I enjoyed the mushroom and onion burger, I loved loved loved the fried chicken and waffles!! Mmm check out all that maple syrup being poured onto this plate of awesomeness! There were a few hidden pieces of spinach under the fried chicken with brown butter but that was forgotten as I savoured the chickeny, waffly and maply-ness :D Overall this is a dish that combines my favourite flavours of sweet and salty into one.

Alas we were all much too full to order dessert and instead walked back to Town Hall to spend the rest of the night chatting inside a much too air-conditioned Starbucks. Coconut cream pie I will come back for you!!

Jazz City Milk Bar
Republic 2 Building Courtyard
Palmer Street (between Liverpool and Burton Street)
Darlinghurst, NSW 2010

Opening Hours
Lunch  Thursday-Saturday: 12:00-2:00pm
Dinner  Tuesday-Saturday: 6:00-10:00pm
Closed Sunday & Monday

Jazz City Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tom n Tom's, Sydney CBD

Sydney's getting quite chilly fast, don't you all think? This cold weather has us all retreating to cafes for warming coffees and teas early in the morning. The first sip is always so warming! For something quick, easy and cheap, my friends and I took shelter in Tom n Toms Cafe on Bathurst.

Clockwise from top left hand corner: half honey butter toast + English Breakfast tea, $5.50 / bacon & egg roll / half garlic butter toast + rose flower tea, $5.50
Normally it costs $5.00 for the set but I paid the extra $0.50 for tea because I really am much more a tea person than coffee. This toast was pretty tasty. Though essentially it was just a toastie sandwich. Awesomely crispy and buttery on the outside, melty American cheese on the inside. There was a good sprinkling of parsley but what made this toast different was the drizzle of honey on top. I actually really liked this extra sweetness from the honey! There was nothing fancy going on here, just comfort food at its best on this cold (winter-feeling) morning. I was sad they were out of jasmine tea, but settled for the rose tea which had a nice subtle floral scent (not a fan when it's too overpowering).

K ordered the honey butter toast which had a generous lathering of butter between the two slices of bread. There was honey as well as a sweet caramel-like syrup drizzled on top.  Nothing like a sugar hit to start your morning!

M however prefers something savoury to begin her day with and went for the bacon and egg roll.

It was odd seeing the normally incredibly full cafe so empty early in the morning. Of course we have no complains about that - we got the cafe (almost) all to ourselves to chat. What's better than a quick breakfast catchup with your favourite girlfriends? :D

Tom n Toms
97-99 Bathurst St
Sydney, NSW, 2000

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mexico Food And Liquor, Surry Hills

Hearing great things about Mexico Food And Liquor, my friends and I decided to fill up our stomachs here before heading over to the Art Gallery of New South Wale for this year's Archibald, Wynne and Sulmain Prize (I really enjoyed the Wynne Prize exhibition this year - it's worth going!). Located on the site that was previously District Dining, it is a very short walk from Central Station. I was quite sad about being unable to visit District Dining before it closed down, but why be sad when there's Mexican food to enjoy? Ole!

Hello purdy flower. Hot sauce condiments on the table for those who like it spicy!

Coffee & maple braised pork spare ribs, plantain chips, herb salad, $16.00
Ribs!! Who doesn't love ribs? They are meant to be messy to eat and best done with your hands. Forget cutlery! These ribs were so tender, fall off the bone, and had a wonderful sticky sauce coating. I wasn't sure what to expect from the plantain chips, but they were reminiscent of a savoury banana. Quite addictively crunchy. I just realised when reading the description that we weren't given a herb salad...

Smokey beef arrachera, charred onions, pork crackling, pineapple mayo, $7.00
I was very disappointed when the taco hit the table because it was a small portion when paying $7 for a taco and the filling looked sparse. What it lacked in size however, made up for it in flavour. The beef was wonderfully smoky and the onions (from the tiny pieces we got) and pineapple mayo melded the flavours together with a sweet finish. Pork crackling was nowhere to be seen though. I also noticed amount of filling was a inconsistent around the table. Pity about the lack of finesse about these details.

MEXICO’s fried chicken, $14.00
The let down of the taco was quickly made up for with the fried chicken. Succulent fried chicken!! Awesome dipped into the aioli which was less spicy than expected despite the sprinkling of paprika on top. Nonetheless, that was good aioli and good fried chicken.

Caramel braised pork, snow pea shoot, green chili, poblano crema quesadilla, $14.00
Not expecting the portion sizes to be so small, we were still hungry an unanimously agreed with the braised pork quesadilla. Crunchy tortilla outer encasing cheesey innards. Amazing of all sorts when smothered with green mayo on the side.

It was too early for drinks as we were having lunch here, but maybe I'll come back and give those a go. The food was good and it was simple to share. Just go easy with the ordering as it can become quite easy to rack up a bill! Especially if you're going to order a few tacos by the looks of what we got that particular visit.

Do you all prefer to share dishes and try a bit of everything, or do your preferences lie with ordering a main dish to have by yourself? Personally, I think sharing is the way to go!

Mexico Food And Liquor
17 Randle Street
Surry Hills, NSW, 2010
9211 7798

Opening Hours
Open 7 days from 12 noon until late

Mexico Food and Liquor on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sushi Hotaru, Sydney CBD

Just before I begin my blog post for today, I'd like to celebrate the fact that my blog is now over a year old! What a whirlwind this year has been - it has all gone so quickly but it has been amazing.

This past year, I've discovered how much I really love food, and my hungry eyes have scoured the internet far and wide for recipes, especially of the nutritious kind! (Though it may not look it from the way I eat on my blog :P). There's still so many places not just within Sydney to explore, and I want to see it all! I want to keep sharing my love for food with all you wonderful people who take the time to stop by, read my blog and say hello. I am truly thankful for each and every one of you dear readers. I want to connect with all of you much more! There is so much still to do in Sydney, especially eat. So here's to another year of happy eating!

Onto something to which my love ever wanes - sushi! I've always noticed this one sushi train inside the Galeries that always seem to have really good business. I always wondered what was so great about it that there always seemed to be a line? My questions were answered after finding out that each plate on the sushi conveyer belt was $3. And what joy wouldn't be etched upon anyone's face upon the discovery of $3 sushi plates on a sushi train right in the middle of Sydney's CBD? That's right, you heard me, $3. Each plate is $3! Time to go cray with the stacking of empty sushi plates ;)

Scallops, $3.00
Scallop sashimi! Super soft and melt in the mouth.

Soft-shelled crab, $3.00
If there's one thing I can never get enough of, it's soft-shelled crab. Love the spicy mayo and the addition of the crunchy lotus chip! Those things are addictive.

Grilled salmon, $3.00
The salmon was still pink on the inside, yet had a wonderfully smokey outer.

Wagyu beef, $3.00
The wagyu beef was cooked rare which was almost like beef takati. Works well with sushi!

Grilled scallops, $3.00
My sister and I couldn't resist grabbing another scallop one because for $3, that's great value. This time we went for the grilled. Prefer this over the raw one as it has that smokey flavour and I think I prefer the texture when it has been ever so sightly cooked :)

Chicken karaage, $3.00
The hot items you have to order so that they are cooked fresh for you in the kitchen which is a great idea. I can imagine everything going soggy and cold if just left on the conveyer belt... This chicken karaage was super addictive. Succulent chicken, wonderful crunchy batter. Squeeze on the sauce given on the side onto the chicken and you have a winner.

Okonomi, $3.00
Japanese cabbage pancake! Had to order this for my sister to try as she had never had one until now. She was sure missing out.

Takoyaki, $3.00
And who doesn't order takoyaki when at a Jap restaurant? Definitely one of my favourite foods of all time!

So do you all like the idea of being to eat as soon as you enter a restaurant like sushi trains, or do you prefer the idea of relaxed dining? To be fair, who can resist the temptation of such good value for sushi? ;)

Sushi Hotaru on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Pie Tin, Newtown

Sweet pies is a concept that is quite unfamiliar to us Australians - meat pie is the way to go for Aussies! When I first heard about a cafe in Newtown selling dessert pies, I was sold. The Pie Tin, here I come :D

Coconut cream pie, $6.50
The first time I went was quite a while ago and prices have indeed climbed since then. The cream used to come for free (though admittedly, it was quite unnecessary), but now it costs $0.50 extra. I was a tad disappointed with this coconut pie as there wasn't a distinct flavour of coconut except for the tiny bit of toasted coconut coconut flakes on top. The custard was smooth and creamy and nice though. But for my first trip, I was not wowed and left without my high expectations met as everyone was raving about this place.

Deciding to give it another chance, my friend Gingerbreadmanne and I decided to treat ourselves for our morning of hard work at uni with pie! I think we were a bit too ambitious, ordering three pies between the two of us. And no, we didn't even just order 3 slices of normal pie, we thought we could take on the huuuge XXL apple pie.

The apple pie that ate Newtown, $10.50, + $1.00 extra for vanilla ice-cream
Just look at the size of that pie slice! Compare it to that little spork in the corner and my friend's hand... Nope, we couldn't finish it no matter how hard we tried especially because the pie was extremely tart from the use of Granny Smith apples which was good because it showed they didn't add excessive amounts of sugar. The scoop of vanilla ice-cream was our saviour - it helped cut through the tartness. We finished about half of this pie before admitting defeat and packing the rest to take away haha. The crust was delicious and the apple filling itself had a really good hit of cinnamon. I love cinnamon. But I think the size and sheer amount was what lead to our downfall. Only order this if you have a big group of people!! I took it home and made it into a parfait - plain Greek yogurt layered with apple pie. Delicious!

Tart lime and blueberry pie, $8.50
If we had known the apple pie was going to be that tart, perhaps it wasn't the best idea to order this slice of tart lime and blueberry pie. This pie was amazing and packed a lime punch. The filling was smooth and custardy, simply dissolving in your mouth. But eating it with the tart apple pie, we were starting to get a bit overwhelmed by the sourness. So we decided to get a savoury pie as well!

Moroccan lamb, chickpeas & cumin, $6.80
There was a heady scent of cumin as we cut open the pie. It was heavenly eating this pie because it helped our tastebuds recover from all that sour pie we just ate! The filling was not at all dry, the lamb was tender and soft, and there were bits of pumpkin and chickpeas scattered throughout. Very comforting to eat.

Er yes, a bit disgusting, but lamb pie innards!
One of my UNSW friends (hello K!) made a trip to Newtown with T and came to visit me in my studio with takeaway pie from The Pie Tin. So lovely of them to do so :)

Slow roasted beef brisket, hickory smoke & mushrooms, $6.80
There were huge chunks of beef brisket which had a wonderful smoky flavour. It was seasoned with lots of pepper which is right down my alley - I have a tendency to add lots of pepper hehe.

Flaky pastry pistachio & dark chocolate pie $5.80
This pie slice was exactly what it was made out to be. The pastry was wonderfully sweet from the dusting of icing sugar, crumbly and flaky and it surrounded a rich chocolate filling. Gone in a flash :(

Sweet pumpkin pie, $7.50
Oh dear, the pumpkin pie got smushed slightly from it's travelling! I was curious as to how pumpkin pie would taste because it seems to be an American thing. But boy am I glad they got this pie. There was no skimping with the nutmeg that's for sure! But I love my spices so this went down a treat. In fact, the spiced flavour of this pie was what inspired me to make my healthy sweet potato muffins!

Despite having a rocky start to my relationship with the Pie Tin, I can foresee many trips down here in the future during uni for some comforting dessert or even their meat pies :) Does anyone find the concept of dessert pies strange, or do you love dessert as much as I do?

The Pie Tin
1a Brown St
Newtown, NSW, 2042

Opening Hours
Monday - Wednesday: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Thursday - Saturday: 10:00am - 10:00pm
Sunday: 10:00am - 6:00pm

The Pie Tin on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 5, 2013

Healthy Sweet Potato Muffins

In our every day lives, who reaches for a muffin without second thought of what is actually in them? Yes, they are an easy breakfast food that you can take on the go but there are so many carbs, so much sugar and fat in them that any idea of having a nutritious breakfast goes straight down the drain. I've been on a bit of a baking craze lately and after a fail attempt at making a healthy chocolate cake using rice syrup (don't use rice malt syrup in baking unles you are making bars - it gives everything a chewy texture), I decided to have another go. And what resulted was a delectably spiced muffin that's perfect for the holiday season (who am I kidding, we don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia). And best of all, it's an awesome guilt-free muffin that is wheat free, low in sugar, and low fat! Yep, you heard me, no added oil or butter! Now you can all have muffins all day, every day ;)

Healthy Sweet Potato Muffins
Makes 8 


1 cup wholemeal spelt flour
2/3 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt
2/3 tbsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp ginger
1/3 tsp nutmeg
1/3 tsp all spice
1/2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
1/2 cup choc chips or dried fruit or whatever you want (optional) I personally didn't add anything and thought they turned out great :)

2 egg whites
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup sweet potato (or pumpkin!)
1/8-1/4 cup stevia / granulated sweetener depending on taste (I found 1/4 cup too sweet so I will tone it down next time to less than 1/4 of a cup)
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla essence


1.  Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C and line 8 muffin cups with paper cups or spray with nonstick spray. If you use muffin cups, make sure to spray the inside of the cups.
2. In a large bowl mix flour, oats, pumpkin pie spice baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chia seeds together. In a separate bowl combine sweet potato, stevia, almond milk, egg whites and applesauce. Add the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine. Gently fold in choc chips/dried fruit/anything you want

3. Divide batter between muffin cups. Sprinkle a tiny bit of oatmeal over each top of the muffins. Place into the oven and bake for 23-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean. Muffins are best served warm. Reheat in the microwave for 20 seconds and spread with topping of your choice!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Reuben Hills, Surry Hills

Welcome to Surry Hills - the suburb of coffee, cafes, and hipsters who permanently drink coffee and almost live at these said cafes! One particular cafe that has been on my list for a long time running is Reuben Hills. Salted caramel milkshake anyone?

Lychee, coconut & lime milkshake, $8.50
Unfortunately, I did not order the salted caramel milkshake (you will be mine next time) as my eyes automatically zoned in on the word coconut. Oh how my heart beats for you, coconut. I hate it when milkshakes are too thin, and thank goodness this one wasn't the case! It definitely could be thicker, but alas it wasn't a thickshake so this was pretty darn good :D I couldn't particularly taste the lychee or lime, but there was a strong hit of coconut so no complaining here!

Soft baked eggs, $17.00
We were curious what the jamon (pronounced ha-mon) was, and it turned out to be a form of cured meat. Always pairs well with eggs! The soft baked eggs came and were perfectly runny, oozing out as soon as they were poked with the knife. Bread was promptly dipped into this concoction - perfect base to soak up all that sauce! Top it with the spinach, jamon and ranchero, and you're set. There was a subtle kick from spices, which had me coming back for more.

Baleada, $14.00
Who sees pulled pork on the menu yet not order it? Definitely not me. Pulled pork please! The flavours instantly reminded me of Mexican nachos - so good! There was a pleasant tingle in my mouth from chilli and the pork was wonderfully soft. Loved the addition of salsa just to give the dish a little bit of freshness.

Salmon ceviche, $19.00
The witlof leaves acted like spoons for the salmon ceviche. The small pieces of salmon melted in the mouth and the salad of roasted corn, sweet potato, fennel and jalepenos was balanced just right - not too much fennel or jalepenos so that it overpowered the delicate flavour of the salmon.

The NOT reuben sandwich, $16.00
I've never had a Reuben sandwich before but this not-Reuben sandwich was absolutely divine! I was a bit wary that the manchego and horseradish cream would be too strong, but it melded in really well with every other element. The pickled slaw and wagyu salt brisket really shone in this sandwich.

Food may not be the cheapest, but it sure as hell was tasty and service was super friendly - despite being busy, no one forced us to leave as my friends sat around and caught up. I would definitely come back here if I was nearby in the area, and maybe try one of the coffees - heard that they are good!

Reuben Hills
61 Albion St
Surry Hills, NSW, 2010
9211 5556

Opening Hours
Monday-Satuday: 7:00am - 4:00pm 
Sunday: 7:30am - 4:00pm

Reuben Hills on Urbanspoon