xiao long bao

by Anne Grace on December 22, 2012

We were having a potluck get-together at my place – just because we can. I was craving for char siew bao while AB was craving for XLB.

We decided to make both. Us and a couple other girls.

It was awesome.

Make your own XLB. Tedious. But soooo worth it. You make a gazillion of them at a fraction of the cost.

Seriously, whoever thought of making dumplings that ooze juices is ingenious. Who would have thought of putting jellified chicken stock in dumplings so they melt when these bags of gold get steamed up?

I got the recipe from Steamy Kitchen. She does a pretty comprehensive write up on the making of XLB, even posting a slideshow of how to make the XLB folds.

A few notes:

– I didn’t read the recipe properly so ended up topping the jelly on the mince before ‘wrapping up’. Mix the jelly into the mince so it’s easier to handle.
– The dough wasn’t coming together in the beginning after all the liquids went in so we added more water. Big mistake. Spent lots of time adding more flour because it had then become too wet.
– I had forgotten to buy wombok so ended up cutting holes in baking paper and laying it on the steamer. Use wombok. It adds that element of natural sweetness and would work so much better than baking paper all holed out.

The recipe is composed of three components: the jelly, the mince, the dough. Simple. It does take a bit of time, but it is definitely not difficult.

xiao long bao (recipe from steamy kitchen)


chicken or pork bones (sufficient to be submerged in water)
5 cups water
1 knob of ginger
2 tbsp shaoxing wine
dash of salt
1 tbsp agar agar/gelatin powder

1. place all ingredients and bring to a rapid boil for 30 mins then turn down the heat.
2. simmer for another hour (making sure to check the water level every now and then).
3. take 4 cups of stock and dissolve agar agar/gelatin in the stock
4. pour into container and chill in the fridge for 3-6 hours.
5. cut into 1.5cm cubes (~ish)


360g all purpose flour (+ extra to dust counter top)
3/4 cup boiling hot water
1/4 cup cold water
1 tbsp cooking oil

1. pour the flour into a bowl and use a pair of chopsticks to stir vigorously while adding in 1/3 of the hot water. add a bit more and stir more. rinse and repeat until no more hot water.
2. add the oil and cold water  into the dough, stirring continuously until it comes together. (note: do not feel tempted to add more water to make it come together. the dough would be too wet)
3. dust the counter top and knead the dough for about 8-10 mins. it is ready if the dough bounces back to shape slowly after poking it with your finger.
4. wrap with cling film and rest it for 30 mins.


500g mince (pork/chicken)
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp shaoxing wine
1 tsp sesame oil
(wombok for steaming)

1. incorporate all ingredients in a bowl.
2. cut about 1 cup of the jelly in a criss-cross fashion and mix into the mince.
3. set aside until ready to use.


1. divide dough into 4 parts and roll out into a log. cut each dough log into 10 equal parts.
2. roll each small lump of dough into a circular piece and put a teaspoon of mince in the centre.
3. pinch one part of the dough circumference to the adjacent bit of dough. do this continuously along the circumference of the dough till it seals up. (really should have done a video of it)


1. boil a wok full of water.
2. line a bamboo steamer (or any steamer) with wombok  and place XLB into the steamer.
3. steam for 10-12 mins on high heat
4. enjoy!!!

Try it try it!! Make sure you season it enough though. You won’t regret it!



mr burger

by Anne Grace on December 10, 2012

‘Don’t tell me McDonalds is Mr Burger.’

That’s what Kudokun said on the way to Mr Burger’s stop on Therry St. Lucky for him, Mr Burger ≠ McDonalds.

The trip to Mr Burger’s was long awaited by R., who didn’t eventually come with us that day. If you have trouble looking for Mr Burger, he’s hiding in a small alleyway off Therry St. Fear not, though, for you will have many cute orange signs putting you in the right direction.


The menu only allows you to choose from Mr Burger (9) or Mr Meat (10), and the option of additional fries (R 3, L 5).

The bun is topped with toasted sesame seeds, accompanied with that gloss that just sends your mouth watering. The patty is moist and perfectly cooked. The melted cheese wraps that perfect patty like it was meant to be. Together, they make your taste buds sing.

Oh, and the chips. Those chips, should be Mrs Chips. Mr Burger and Mrs Chips are the perfect couple – a match that lasts forever. Their perfectly crunchy exterior gives way to soft fluffy insides with every bite.

My complaint? Not enough of it! Mr Burger, I’m coming back for you!!


Mr Burger
Catch them if you can.
Follow them on Facebook or Twitter
Mr Burger on Urbanspoon

los latinos

by Anne Grace on December 3, 2012

It’s one of those places that you could easily just drive on by without thinking much of it. We went there with great expectations of an awesome meal and it did not disappoint.

The small Latin American restaurant in Maidstone is a sister of the bigger restaurant in Ascot Vale. There are rumours that the Maidstone one is yummier, but I have yet to confirm it.

We were served by a cheery Latino who was running a one man show at front of the house. He happily recommended me the Margarita (10) as a drink and I chose the strawberry one. It was ah-mazing.

Strawberry Margarita (10)

E. and L. shared a lulo smoothie (6). Apparently it’s a Latin American fruit. The man had great trouble explaining to us what it was like, just because there isn’t any fruit that is similar to the lulo. It did taste like haw flakes being blended into a smoothie but the colour of the smoothie suggested nothing of it.

G. had the feijoa smoothie (6), another Latin American fruit smoothie. The colour was similar to the lulo but the taste was worlds apart. She preferred the feijoa to the lulo. I liked both, each with their unique taste. Definitely a must try.

N. had the mojito (10) – something I didn’t appreciate that much because of its minty taste. He, on the other hand thought it was awesome. Different taste buds, I suppose!

There were five of us and we shared 4 mains and an entrée. We started off with nachos (14). At first glance you might think the chips came out from a Dorito’s bag but the maize taste brings you straight back to Latin America. I forgot to take a photo of it. Definitely a nice starter to share.

Next, we had the Pastel de Choclo(20) which seemed like a Chilean casserole. It was slightly sweet – the kind that came from the sweet corn which was an interesting surprise. Some may appreciate that sweetness while others not so. Definitely nice to have a small bite of but I don’t think I can down it as a main.

Pastel de Choclo (20)


N. chose a special for the table – the Seafood Fajita (25). It came on a hot plate, bathed in beautifully spiced sauce. Accompanying it was some tortillas (which I felt tasted like arepas pancakes because of the corn meal) and yummilicious relish.

Seafood Fajita (25)


G. picked the Porcion de Pollo (20) (‘pollo’ pronounced po-yoh) which was grilled chicken served with tortillas, rice and some salad + relish. The maize taste was consistent in all the tortillas, tasting and smelling like a meal in a true Latino’s home.

Porcion de Pollo (20)


Last main was the Carne Asada A La Guanaco (24). It was a very generous dish, definitely one for the meatlovers. Composed of grilled steak, fresh chorizo, tortillas, rice and salad. The chorizo was outstanding, nothing like what the supermarkets try to make of it.

Carne Asada A la Guanaco (24)


After licking our plates clean, the waiter suggested a dessert – the only one in the menu – tres leche (6), meaning 3 milk in Spanish. We were so glad to have ordered it because it just summed up perfectly our beautiful Latin American experience in a sweet spoon of sponge cake soaked in three kinds of milk.

Tres Leche (6)



I’m definitely coming back. Maybe shall bring O.O. to test its authenticity one day.

Los Latinos
128 Mitchell St Maidstone, VIC
Opened Wed-Sun 5-10pm (call to confirm)
Los Latinos on Urbanspoon

dinner tonight: sausage + garlic bread + mushroom + lady fingers

by Anne Grace on November 19, 2012

As much as I know sausages are horribly sinful, I love the taste of it. This is not a meal for those who want to keep their schoolgirl figure.

As a child I always undercooked sausages. They’d be charred on the outside and still pink on the inside, raw juices oozing out like nobody’s business. Took mum a lot of patience and explaining as to why I had to keep the heat down low to cook them through.

sausage: pan-fried at low heat
lady fingers (aka okra): stir fried with garlic and oyster sauce, salted to taste
garlic bread: bought from woolies, cooked in the oven
mushroom: sautéed with butter and a dash of oregano

On hindsight, I wish I cooked the mushrooms with sweet chili sauce. A BBQ fluke that saw me using mushrooms as a barrier to stop the juices from the sweet chili chicken wings from contaminating the flavour of the sausages produced beautifully caramelised mushrooms. It was the highlight of the day. No joke. Try it.


Captain America’s Hamburger Heaven

by Anne Grace on November 17, 2012

I didn’t intend to post restaurant reviews on this blog. I meant for it to be completely cooking/baking posts. Consulting Urbanspoon regularly and checking up on blogger reviews has been an unavoidable part of determining whether I should try a new place. So, I feel the need to give back.

You guys who are here from Urbanspoon, thank the other food bloggers for inspiring me.

Anyway, our group of 10 went to conquer the 1000 steps in Ferntree gully this morning (not that it was very hard). The trip left some boys plagued with hunger. Neither pancakes, scones or pies seemed enticing after the walk. Hearing that there was a burger challenge that entailed eating 1kg of burger and 600g fries seemed to get their attention though.

The diner is on this small block of shops along Forest Road seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It’s hard to think that you are only about 40 minutes out of town.


The interior is decorated to mimic your local vintage American fast food joint. While you wait for your food, you can entertain yourself by reading the various tongue-in-cheek writings on the ceiling and the various posters on the wall. They’ve also got a whole lineup of number plates hung on the wall from every American state.


B. in his sleepless judgement decided to take up the Big Heavenly Burger Challenge that comprises a 1kg burger and 600g of fries (300g for ladies). The requirement is to finish it in an hour to make it to the honours board. If you beat their record (6:44 for men and 12:43 for ladies), which according to the waitress, hasn’t happened since 2009, you get it for free. You are also not allowed to share the portion.

Unfortunately B. gave up at the 40 min mark, hence not finishing the challenge. C. happily helped him finish it off thereafter.

I had Captain America’s Celebrated Heavenly Burger  which I forgot to photograph. It was burger with the lot – beef pattie, pineapple, egg, bacon, pickles, cheese, lettuce and chips. It was okay – the pattie was rather tasteless and could do with more seasoning. I would rather have my Ramly burger over this.  The chips, however, were heavenly. Crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside. Be sure to have them while they’re hot because they do get rather soggy when they cool down. Overall the portion was generous.

Captain America’s Celebrated Heavenly Burger (16.50)


C. and N. shared The ‘Pork and Pecker’ Combo which involved buffalo wings + blue cheese sauce and barbecue back ribs which according to them was amazing. The wings  were perfect and the ribs were tender.

The ‘Pork and Pecker’ Combo (27)

M. had the Aussie burger which showcased the Aussie flavours – beetroot and BBQ sauce. He did comment that the sauce was a bit too smokey for his liking but was pretty good overall.


Aussie Burger (16.90)

It was a hearty meal and dinner was hardly on the agenda at it’s appointed time. This joint is definitely a popular one though so be sure to book on nights Friday-Sunday.

Captain America’s Hamburger Heaven
38 Forest Road, Ferntree Gully, VIC.

Opened for lunch and dinner
Captain America's Hamburger Heaven on Urbanspoon

peanut butter arctic roll

by Anne Grace on July 23, 2012

I’ve found a new gem – SortedFood.com. They’ve got a gazillion recipes on their site and videos to go with them!

Anyway, I stumbled upon this recipe for the peanut butter arctic roll. Basically a swiss roll with ice cream instead of cream.

In the recipe, they add chocolate coated peanuts. I added a chopped up Picnic bar instead. The boys loved it. I, on the other hand was slightly disappointed. It wasn’t quite what I had envisioned, texturally. Freezing the roll kind of upset the sponge texture for me. It lost this bouncy, soft texture and felt more like spongecake suffering frostbites. I suppose I can’t have room-temperature sponge and frozen ice cream altogether… It did taste super yummy though!

peanut butter arctic roll (recipe adapted from Sorted)


3 eggs
100g castor sugar (and a little more to sprinkle)
120g self rising flour
~1.5 cup vanilla ice cream (or any other flavour)
loads of peanut butter
1 Picnic chocolate bar (or more)


making the sponge
1. preheat the oven to 200˚c
2. line a swiss roll tin (30x22cm) with baking paper
3. mix the eggs and castor sugar in a bowl until it triples in volume
4. fold in the flour
5. pour the mixture into the tin and bake for about 10 mins until it gets this golden brown colour.

prepping the roll

1. lay out a damp tea towel and a sheet of baking paper on top of it.
2. sprinkle castor sugar on the surface of the baking paper.
3. invert the sponge onto the baking paper
4. roll up the sponge with the baking paper caught in between.
5. cover the whole rolled up cake with the damp cloth and leave it to cool. this allows the sponge to retain this rolled up shape.

icing the roll

1. to make the ice cream: mix the vanilla ice cream (softened) with as much peanut butter as you like.
2. chop up your picnic bar
3. unroll the sponge
4. spread the peanut butter ice cream onto the sponge. make sure you cover all areas.
5. sprinkle chopped up picnic bar bits all over the sponge.
6. roll up the sponge, making sure it remains tight. do not have the baking paper in this time
7. cover the entire piece with the baking paper and then the tea towel and freeze for about 2-3 hours.
8. nomnomnomnom

The peanut ice cream is sinfully delicious. The arctic roll as a whole tastes quite awesome.

I’m a happy girl.




pandan chiffon cake (fail)

by Anne Grace on July 18, 2012

I recently tried making this pandan chiffon cake – recipe from here. I was craving so badly for it when I saw the recipe. I didn’t have a bundt pan but I thought it didn’t matter…

Apparently it does. I learnt that the hard way.

What I like about this recipe is that it doesn’t ask for pandan extract. You get the pandan flavour from pounding/foodprocessoring pandan leaves and allowing the flavour to infuse into milk. If the recipe had asked for pandan extract, I’d have put it in. This one kind of convinced me that I can have a pandan cake without having it green…

Anyway, I found out that I went wrong at the part when I didn’t use a bundt pan. I was getting so excited seeing the cake expand beyond the horizons of its little cake tin. It went poof and sank all the way down once it came out of the oven, unfortunately.

The other thing about this cake is that you have to leave it to cool upside down. That is, when the cake is done, you take the tin out of the oven and invert it and leave it like that to cool. It’s important because you don’t want the weight of the cake to sink and squash out all that sponginess.

I couldn’t have done that this time because the cake had rose to 1.5 times the height of the cake tin. Another reason why a bundt pan is good. Note that it’s good to get one of those Asian aluminium ones though – they are generally deeper and the tin can come apart (like a springform pan).

Cake-fail-ness aside, it did taste pretty good. So it was gone in 2 days (as usual).

Attempt #2 coming soon. Hopefully it will be successful! *fingers crossed*


dinner tonight: shepherd’s pie

by Anne Grace on July 3, 2012

I don’t usually cook such similar things two nights in a row. Gordon Ramsay’s shepherd’s pie was just too irresistible.

Trust me, it tastes better than it looks.

pie: meat + mash

meat: minced beef, worchestire sauce, grated carrots, chopped onion, chicken stock, chopped garlic, red wine, tomato paste –> fried, salted and peppered and liquid reduced
mash: boiled potatoes mashed + butter, egg yolk, grated parmesan cheese, milk

dinner tonight: lamb cooked with sage + fried potatoes

by Anne Grace on July 2, 2012

I love lamb. Cravings started when I watched the Masterchef elimination challenge and Tregan cooked lamb forequarters with sage and made crispy potatoes to go with it.

Woolies cut the prices of the lamb forequarters in that particular store because it was expiring soon.

So I took it as a sign and decided to make the exact same thing. :D

Lamb: Pan-fried with fresh sage, salted and peppered.
Potatoes: Washed, cut and pan-fried in lamb juice.
Salad mix: Washed and plated.

It didn’t taste that much different. :( Maybe not enough herby stuff. Marinate first next time!

chocolate (sc)rolls

by Anne Grace on June 22, 2012

It’s been a(long)while. I suppose the motivation to keep this site up and running waned as time went by. It’s been reignited after my reminiscing and reading through old posts. Hopefully it will last this time round!


I recently had a debate with a friend as to whether buns of these shape should be called scrolls or rolls. My thoughts were that the word ‘scroll’ just sound cooler and possesses more flair and sophistication. His argument was “who wants to eat a scroll?” and “saying ‘roll’ requires less effort”.

I still think ‘scroll’ sounds cooler. Back me up on this? ^^

Anyway, this is a recipe I pulled off smitten kitchen. She calls it ‘chocolate swirl buns’. I suppose it’s got a different feel to it.

I would typically have lined this up in a square dish side by side so they balloon up and stick together. This way I can have the delight of pulling apart soft fluffy buns. This is a different, neater way of doing it. Saves some messiness I’d say because there is a lot of chocolate in this one.

On to the recipe.

chocolate (sc)rolls (recipe from smitten kitchen)


1/2 cup (120ml) milk
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
1 packet dry yeast (7g)
1 large egg
2 cups (250g) multipurpose flour
1/2 tspn salt
3 tbsp (45g) butter

3 tbsp (45g) butter at room temperature
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
225g cooking chocolate
cinnamon (up to you, to your heart’s delight)


1. warm the milk + dash of sugar and add the yeast to it. let it sit for about 5 mins until it gets foamy.
2. whisk the egg + remaining sugar and slowly add in the yeast-milk mixture.
(3. throw all the dough ingredients into the breadmaker, put on the dough setting.)
3. if you no breadmaker, mix flour+salt, incorporate yeast-egg-milk mixture and add the butter until well combined.
4. knead for 10-15 mins. or do everything in the mixer with the dough hook.
5. the dough will look stringy, sticky and yucky. resist urge to add flour.
6. put the dough in a bowl and allow it to rise for an hour or until it doubles. (trick for those in wintry climate: heat the oven up to the lowest temperature, turn it off and chuck the dough in. things will get sweaty but the dough will rise oh-so-nicely.)


1. chop chocolate into small chunks.
2. transfer chocolate,sugar and salt (+ cinnamon) into the food processer. whizzzzz it.
3. add butter. whizzzzzz till it mixes through.
4. if no food processor, chop and mix everything.

Assembling the buns
1.  butter the tins.
2. roll out the dough as thin as your guts tell you to.
3. spread the chocolatey mix alllllllll over the piece of dough.
4. roll from one end to the other. like the swiss roll kinda roll. just that this ain’t swiss roll.
5. cut into 4-5cm widths. up to you.
6. put the rolls into the tins.
7. set aside to rise another 30-45 mins.
(8. brush eggwash on it. i usually ignore this step. wastes one egg for me)

preheat oven to 180˚c. pop the buns in for about 20 minutes until they are nice and brown the way you like it. or if the house smells like sweet, sweet bread.

My mistake in this one was whizzing the butter with the chocolate chunks altogether. It came up all gunky and it was very hard on my poor food processor. I think I should have chopped the chocolate into smaller chunks too. Laziness got the better of me.

Anyway, yes. Chocolate (sc)rolls for you.