Valentines Day Heart Shaped Marshmallow Slice (makes 25-30)

This heart shaped slice is the perfect Valentine’s Day treat and with only 4 ingredients, it is so quick and easy to make.

I’d love to hear what your favourite Valentine’s Day treats are so please post below with what you would love to give or receive!

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Ingredients:

  • 6 cups rice bubbles or rice puffs
  • 3 cups pink and white marshmallows (generous cups)
  • 1 cup white chocolate melts
  • 3 Tbs butter

Method:

1. Measure out rice bubbles into a large mixing bowl.  Also grease a large flat and rectangular baking tray with butter.

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2. Melt butter, marshmallows and white chocolate over a medium heat until they begin to dissolve, stirring frequently to stop the mixture sticking to the pan.

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3. When marshmallows start to dissolve, add a couple of drops of pink food colouring. You can add as little or as much as you like to get the desired colour.  You could also use red, or, if you use only white marshmallows you can use blue, green, yellow or whatever colours you like!

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4. Stir in food colouring and mix (still on medium heat) until mixture is smooth.

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5.Pour mixture over rice bubbles and stir until they are fully covered then pour into the pre-greased baking tray.

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6. Press down until flat.  Leave to cool for about 10-15 minutes then turn over onto a greased board or flat surface.

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7. Use cookie cutters to cut the rice bubbles into shapes, pressing the mixture into the cutters before pushing them out.

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8. Allow to cool further then enjoy! Slice will be sticky yet soft and chewy!

You can put a sheet of baking paper in a box and wrap them up, ready to give to your Valentine (or enjoy them yourself for a super sweet treat)!

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Kataifi Prawns (serves 3-4 as an entree)

This simple and quick recipe is great for entrees or just a light snack.

It is healthier than tempura prawns or prawn cocktails as it does not involve any frying and looks interesting on the plate.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 packet kataifi, kept out for a few hours until it is room temperature
  • 500gr prawns
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Seasoning of your choice (I used an African-style rub mix)

Method:

1. Heat oven to 200C.

2. Peel and de-vein prawns, leaving the tails on.

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3. Take some kataifi out gently and put it in a small bowl. Separate some of the strands so it is easier to work with.

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4. Beat the egg with a fork and add salt, pepper and your choice of seasoning.

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5. Lay the kataifi strands out in a long line. Place the prawn at the top of the strand and roll it down to the bottom until covered. Place on an oiled tray.

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6. Once all prawns are covered in kataifi, place tray in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until pastry is golden and crispy.

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Enjoy!

Pad Thai (serves 6-8)

This quick pad thai is full of healthy vegetables and proteins and is packed with flavour.

I used a bottle of pad thai mix from my local Asian grocery store but you can either make your own or mix it up using other stir fry pastes or sauces.

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Ingredients

  • 500g thick rice noodles
  • 1/2 small bag bean sprouts
  • 1 handful of snow peas, ends broken off
  • 2 small bunches pak choy, washed and cut in half vertically
  • 1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced diagonally
  • 1 bottle pad thai paste
  • 3 Tbsp kecap manis
  • 5 Tablespoons olive or peanut oil
  • 500grams chicken breast, cut into cubes (roughly)
  • 400grams peeled fresh prawns (tails on)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 50grams chopped cashews to sprinkle on top

Method

1.Prepare vegetables by washing, peeling and chopping (as above).

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2. In a large wok, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and fry off onions and garlic.

3. Add chicken and cook for about 5-10 minutes.

4. Add prawns and cook further for about 2-3 minutes or until it changes colour and becomes opaque.

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5. Push meat to one side of the pan and add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Pour in half the pad thai sauce mix and fry off for about 1 minute, then stir and mix into the meat.  Put meat into a separate bowl and drizzle lightly with kecap manis (about 1 tablespoon).

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6. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the empty pan.  Start to add vegetables, tossing as you go. I added the harder vegetables first so they all cook evenly.

7. Again, move vegetables to the side, add the rest of the pad thai mix and fry off for about 20-30 seconds. Then mix into vegetables.

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8. Add chopped cashews and mix in.

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9. Boil rice noodles until cooked through as per instructions on the packet.

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10. Drain water, transfer noodles to a separate bowl and add remaining kecap manis.

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11. Place noodles in a dish, top with meat and vegetables.

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12. Add beansprouts (you cold also top with sesame seeds) and enjoy!

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Red & White Meringues (makes 16-17)

Looking for a different take on the usual summer pav? Or do you want a quick and easy dessert option which looks unique and Christmassy?

Well look no further, TCFB has your back!

This recipe was made using left over eggs from my mum’s annual Sri Lankan Christmas Cake. It is best to make it on a day that isn’t too humid as moisture could affect how they turn out.

I thought I would add some red food colouring to mix it up a little and also added almond flavouring for something different, but you can add whatever flavour you like (peppermint is popular too).

Try it out yourself and let me know how you go!

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Ingredients:

  • 12 egg whites, kept at room temperature
  • 3 cups caster sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • Red food colouring (or you could use green)
  • Almond essence (you could use any flavour you like)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 120C (fan forced).

2. Spray trays with olive oil.

3. Place egg whites in a large bowl. Add salt and beat with an electric mixer until “soft peaks” form (about 4-5 minutes).

4. Add half a cup of caster sugar then beat incorporate it into the egg white mixture.

5. Repeat step 4 until all the caster sugar is mixed in and “stiff peaks” form.

6. Add a bit of red food colouring and gently swirl it into the mixture (do not mix).

7. Dollop onto trays in large mounds.

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8. Bake in oven for about 50-60 minutes.

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9. Open oven door but leave the trays in there while the meringues cool.

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Brandy Chocolate Truffles (makes about 24)

An easy and festive Christmas treat, these brandy truffles are super neat!

Try your hand at making them and let me know what you think. I think they are great as a post-dinner dessert or just for a little snack with a mug of eggnog.

20131215_19492020131215_194927Ingredients:

  • 230 grams chocolate, chopped roughly
  • 1/2 cup thickened cream
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • Cocoa powder
  • Dessicated coconut

Method:

1. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

2. Place chocolate in a medium sized bowl.

3. Heat thickened cream over the stove on medium and bring just to the boil.

4. Pour hot cream over the chocolate and stir until mixed in and all chocolate pieces are melted.

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5. Add butter and stir again until mixed in.

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6. Add liqueur and stir.

7. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours or preferably, overnight.

8. Use a melon baller to get even sized scoops of chocolate and roll into round balls.

9. Coat in cocoa powder and/or coconut.  You can also use crushed and toasted nuts, hundred and thousands, or chocolate swirls (Flake works well).

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10. Cover and place in the fridge until firm.

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11. Serve at room temperature.

White Christmas Crackles (makes 36)

This is the perfect Christmas treat as it has a bit of crunch, a bit of squishy marshmallow, sweet glace cherries and creamy chocolate.

It is super easy to make and looks amazing.

Add whatever nuts, sweets or biscuits you like to customise this fun dish!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rice bubbles
  • 250gr copha, melted in microwave
  • 250gr white chocolate melts (I used Cadbury)
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • 3/4 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries/craisins
  • The red and green glace cherries from a 100gr packet, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 10 plain biscuits, crushed (I used Scotch Fingers)

Method:

1.Line muffin or cupcake trays with patty pans.

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2. Add chocolate melts to melted copha and stir until chocolate has melted and both ingredients are mixed in.

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3.Add icing sugar and mix in, working it in with the spoon or spatula until all the chunks are smoothed out.

4. In a separate (large) bowl, add rice bubbles, coconut, glace cherries, marshmallows, cranberries and crushed biscuits.

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5. Pour the white chocolate and copha mixture over the rice bubble mixture and mix thoroughly.

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6. Spoon the mixture into cupcake tins.

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7. Allow to set, then enjoy!

Old Town Hong Kong Cuisine, Chinatown Sydney ($)

Address: 10A Dixon St Sydney, NSW

Tel: (02) 9426 4888

* * *

Atmosphere

SenoritaLay, FitnessFanatic and I caught up at a popular restaurant in Chinatown, Old Town.

Located towards the Town Hall side of Dixon Street, it is opposite N2 Extreme Gelato (perfect for dessert afterwards).

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SenoritaLay had been here before and had told us that it was pretty good.  Having done my research beforehand, I was looking forward to trying out the delicious BBQ Pork Buns and noodles on offer.

My first impression of Old Town was that it was a modern taken on a Chinese restaurant.  It was dimly lit, giving it an intimate feel, and had a glass cabinet of Asian sweets by the door and BBQ duck and pork hanging at the back of the restaurant.

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As I got there before the others, I took a seat at one of the wooden tables (sort of like picnic tables), and ordered a Coconut Mango with QQ Jelly drink.

The drink look interesting with a white, orange and red concoction at the bottom and a thick orange mango puree on top.

It was cold and refreshing, perfect for this particularly hot day, and I liked the mix of milky and chewy jelly at the bottom.

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Service

When the girls finally arrived, we had a look through the menu and found it a bit too difficult to decide on what to get.

Old Town has a lot of options to choose from, from yum cha style dishes to full plates of noodles, soups and stir-fries.

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We each chose one dish to try, and soon ordered our meals.

While service was not particularly friendly (perhaps due to the language barrier?), it was quite fast.

Our food came out quickly, although not all at once.

Food

First up were the delicious BBQ Pork Buns and Peking Duck Buns ($6.80 for two).

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The buns were soft, with that delicious almost uncooked dough that the Chinese seem to love so much.  The pork and duck was juicy and tender, well-presented and plentiful for the size of the buns.

The Green Beans came out next. With a delicious hit of spice, they were crunchy and fresh. Perfect to nibble on between bites of the other dishes.

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Following the beans, we had a cool pancake-style dumpling – basically dumplings with batter poured around a pan to give a cool shape.

The dumplings were moist and tender and the pancake was crispy and crunchy, giving a perfect contrast.

The dish was quite nice, but I did not enjoy the sauce which was a little too sour for my liking. A simple soy would have been great.

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We ordered the usual Steamed BBQ Pork Buns (my choice), and they did not disappoint.  There were three, perfect for sharing between our trio.

The buns were light and fluffy like clouds, and the filling was the typical sweet yet savoury BBQ pork mince. As always, I really enjoyed these Pork Buns and gobbled mine down!

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Finally, FitnessFanatic’s noodles came out.  They were seafood egg noodles with prawn, shallots, onion and cabbage.

They were very oily and slippery- quite difficult to eat with chopsticks, and weren’t very flavoursome.  Despite this, the serving was generous and the seafood was cooked through.

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Other dishes I have tried on subsequent occasions include:

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Peking Duck Pancakes

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BBQ Pork

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Steamed Greens

Summary

Overall, not a bad experience and would come here again to try out some of the other dishes. Pretty good value for money as the meal ended up costing each of us about $25.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 4.5
  • Food- 7
  • Ambience- 6
  • Value – 7.5

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