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  • Review of Business Class Emirates Sydney to Dubai flight

    3 weeks. Greek Islands. No kids. Every parent's dream right? Well ladies and gentlemen, I got to live it! And to add that cherry on top of my dream come true, we flew there business class on the Emirates A380. The whole thing started as a joke. I cheekily asked my mum if she and my dad would watch the kids while hubby and I go on holidays, and to my surprise, she said 'of course'. Hearing this, I did not waste any time, quickly getting online and booking flights to Greece. We actually booked the tickets through Qantas, but because of the Qantas/Emirates joint venture agreement on flights to Europe through Dubai, we ended up on Emirates flights all the way to Athens and back, which suited me just fine because I have had many occasions now where I have been unhappy with Qantas service and organisation, particularly in business class. I only use Qantas at all because hubby travels a lot for work and collects many Qantas frequent flyer points (he is a Platinum member) so it makes sense to use those points and benefits on our personal travel. Travelling business class especially on long haul flights is such a luxury and makes me feel so fancy, but to be honest, I just wanted a break from my kids! You could put me on a freight train to Wagga Wagga and as long as I had no kids with me, I'd be over the moon! That's not to say that I don't love my 2 boys, I do very much so, it's just that I am a stay at home mum and care for them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so from time to time MAMMA NEEDS A BREAK!!! The plight of the Australian traveler is that is takes forever to fly anywhere so a little extra comfort is very much appreciated and they do not hold back at Emirates. The experience actually starts with their complimentary limo transfer service to the airport, which I booked with them a couple of days before we left. Perfectly on schedule, a driver showed up at home ready to take us to the airport in a luxury town-car. Then we breezed through check in and headed straight to the Emirates Business Class lounge to kill time before our flight. The food selection was a mix of usual hot and cold breakfast items: eggs, bacon, cereals, pastries etc as well as a selection of middle eastern items such as dips, salads, cold cuts. There was a full self service open bar with premium wine and liquor choices. Our flight was a 6am and I knew we would be served breakfast on board so I just opted for a cup of tea and a dried date stuffed with orange rind, which was divine. I love middle eastern dates, they are so much better than what we get here in Australia. As we boarded I was disappointed to find out that even though we had booked seats together through Qantas, this was not translated into the Emirates system and we were seated one behind the other in window seats. This was despite me calling Qantas the day before to confirm we were sitting together and them assuring me we were. Yet again let down by Qantas. The Emirates flight attendants were very apologetic when they told us there were no more seats together so we accepted it and settled in for the 14 hour flight to Dubai. Once Qantas were out of the picture, the service from the Emirates flight attendants was flawless. The seat itself was wide and comfortable, reclining completely flat and covered with a mattress for extra comfort. The entertainment unit was made up of a large screen in front and a personal tablet docked on the side with all the latest and greatest entertainment options you could want. There was also plenty of storage in compartments under the window, power and USB outlets galore and even a mini bar in my seat unit so I could grab myself drinks whenever I wanted. These drinks were at room temperature however, so if you prefer yours chilled, you need to call for an attendant or head over to the on board bar. That's right, there was an on board bar! Amenity kits were handed out and I was very pleased to see they are by Bvlgari, including a toothbrush and paste (although these are also stocked in the bathrooms), tissues, perfume wipe, hairbrush, body lotion, face emulsion, EDT fragrance and a mirror in a drawstring pouch. I used the contents of this one on the way over and saved the others I was given on other flights for my mum. We all love a #freebie! Food options consisted of the meals served at your seat (breakfast and lunch on this flight) and a selection of cold and hot snacks in the bar. First up was breakfast where I ordered scrambled egg with truffle. Normally I would never order eggs on a plane. They are always very dry and tasteless but the truffle and the way it sounded on the menu lifted my hopes that this might be the exception. It wasn't. The eggs were dry and didn't taste of truffle, the salmon was overcooked and the potato scone was more like a pancake that I didn't really understand. On a positive note, the banana bread was lovely. I didn't eat much of this, but I wasn't too bothered because I planned on hitting the bar and trying everything else they had to offer, including the vast cocktail list. I met up with hubby in the bar (as we were sitting apart) and we each had an aperol spritz with the early morning alcohol not bothering us at all. Turns out he had chosen the gingerbread french toast for breakfast and loved it. I hate it when someone else's order is better than mine! #foodenvy A few drinks later it turned out to be quite a social experience with all sorts of people converging in the bar area for a drink, toilet and chat. We actually had a great time, snacking on the readily available sandwiches, fruit, cakes and pastries. I asked what time lunch would be served and I'm glad I did because it was going to be just before we landed in Dubai which was more like 6pm Sydney time. There was no way I could wait this long till my next meal #girlsgottaeat so I ordered a beef burger from the bar menu. It was quite tasty, but this was only after I tipped the side coleslaw onto the burger. Without that it was quite dry, but with it, perfect. Approaching Dubai we were served lunch where I ordered an entree of traditional Arabic mezze and main of confit duck. The mezze was a selection of 3 dips, vine leaves, salad and bread. The eggplant dip wasn't smokey, as is my preference, and again, I was searching for flavour. The hummus and the beetroot dip however were beautiful and very enjoyable. I washed all this down with a French Margaux wine which was very very good. I think the alcohol selection and quality is where Emirates really excels. In the lounges worldwide and in the air, the standard business class champagne is Moet, and the rest of the wine and spirit selections are premium. I should add that all meals were served with a white tablecloth and linen napkin, wine and water service and warm bread. Aside from some of the dishes that were lacking in flavour, it really was a lovely experience. My main dish of confit duck arrived and although it looked a bit sad and average with the low lighting and not much green, it was delicious! The duck was perfectly cooked: tender, falling off the bone and full of flavour. I easily deboned the meat and shredded it for tossing into my noodles. All together with the noodles, the flavour was reminiscent of a pad thai with a salty, sweet, sour flavour profile. I ate this until my plate was clean! Dessert for me was the cheese platter, I had already had quite a few sweets in the bar so I wanted something savoury to finish off. My time in the bar drinking didn't put me off booze though so I had a gorgeous glass of port to finish off. I made quick work of the cheddar and brie offerings but the blue was a challenge for me. I have only just recently started to eat blue cheese and this one was very strong so I could only enjoy a few bites before it became too much for me. The verdict? Of course its a lovely way to travel and beats cattle class every day of the week. I didn't sleep on this flight because it was a day flight and I have never been able to sleep during the day, but I saw plenty of other people (including hubby) use the eye mask and full flatbed recline to catch some z's. On other legs where we were flying overnight, this was invaluable and worth every cent for me. Service from from the Emirates staff was impeccable and perfect from start to finish. Qantas could really learn a thing or two in that regard. The seat, facilities and comfort was all A-grade. The food was hit and miss for me, but when you're up in the air and food has to be re-heated, how good can you expect it to be? Above all, the MVP was the onboard bar and cocktails to order. What a fantastic addition to their service, especially for girls like me who like a drink and a chat #yolo Emirates flies Sydney to Dubai daily. *This flight was independently paid for.

  • Whole Roast Duck with Caramel Vinegar

    This whole roast duck is a play on Duck A L'Orange, Asian style! But seriously, why do I always have to Asianify everything?! Simple, yet impressive, roasting a duck is the same as roasting a chicken but with so much more flavour. Wait until they go on half price special at Coles or Woolies and give it a go! I love duck, my boys love duck, my husband loves duck. Wow that might sound rude if you say it quickly! And I mean, what's not to like? You have the fatty richness, tender brown meat and glistening crispy skin that is SO indulgent. Well, I have heard about people who don't like fatty foods, but I don't need that kind of negativity in my life #cleaneating. Duck seems to have this reputation of being fancy and hard to cook, but in this recipe you just roast it like any other bird. Its funny how times change, my mum tells about her childhood growing up in Thailand where eating duck meat and duck eggs were the norm, and whenever they ate chicken or chicken eggs, now that was considered fancy and a special occasion! “I've been thinking about what my signature dish is. I don't know that I have one (maybe it's my Thai BBQ Fish), but what I cook most often is a roast. I joke that I can roast any beast. And it is kind of true, I love how easily I can throw a big hunk of meat into the oven with some flavourings and forget about it. A quick sauce or gravy when it comes out and it seems so impressive but really, the oven has done all the work for me.” This duck is served with a caramel vinegar, made with orange and optional chilli and goes really nicely with steamed Asian greens like bok choy or Chinese broccoli. I simply steam these and don't add any sauce or dressing because the meat and the sauce are already quite rich. If I'm serving this mid-week I go carb-less: cauliflower rice. On the weekend, it's real rice baby! Oh, and don't forget to save the duck carcass to make soup (I just put it in a large zip bag together with my vegetable scraps and throw it in the freezer), and the duck fat in the bottom of the roasting dish to make duck fat potatoes. Whole Roast Duck with Caramel Vinegar adapted from a Bill Granger recipe Preparation time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes + resting time Serves: 3 Adults or 2 adults 2 kids with sides 2 Oranges 2kg Whole Duck 1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar 1/3 Cup Red Wine Vinegar 2 Star Anise 1 Cinnamon Stick 1 Cup Chicken Stock 1 Chilli, chopped (optional) Step 1- Take one of the oranges, and using a vegetable peeler, peel the rind off in long strips and set aside making sure not to get the bitter white pith. Cut both oranges in half and juice both of them, setting aside the juice. You should be left with 2 pieces of carcass of one orange without any juice or rind, throw these away; and 2 pieces of carcass of the other orange with the rind remaining, take these and insert them into the cavity of the duck, making sure to leave space so the air can circulate. Step 2- Rub the skin with vegetable oil and generously salt, placing on a roasting tray with a rack. Roast in a 190c oven for 40 minutes per kilo. In this recipe, that equates to 1 hour and 20 minutes. Step 3- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes. You can use this time to make the caramel vinegar. Step 4- Place the sugar, vinegar, star anise and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Step 5- Add the chicken stock, reserved orange juice and rind, and chilli if using. Bring to the boil and simmer until reduced to a syrupy consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Step 6- Carve the duck and serve with the sauce. This goes nicely with rice and steamed Asian greens.

  • Chocolate Chip Biscuits

    If you're looking for a healthy snack for your kids which is full of wholefood goodness, these are NOT the biscuits for you. These are an indulgent treat, full of sugar, butter, chocolate, white flour and all things delicious! Chewy, chocolaty and moreish, beware, it's hard to stop at just one! It sounds very old fashioned of me and totally against the rules of feminism but I have always dreamed of having a family and being a full time mum. I never aspired to reach the top of the corporate ladder, and in fact, when I first started dating my now husband when I was 19 years old, I laid out my expectations that I wanted to get married and have children, and not work. I wanted to be the mum who "leaned in": volunteering at school, helping with the craft projects and baking biscuits from scratch. Why he didn't go running for the hills then and there, I don't know! Of course I'm not saying all this isn't possible while a mother is working, but that full time #mumlife was my dream. On days when I'm wiping noses and bums and doing my 100000000th load of washing, I question if I was crazy all those years ago, but nothing brings me greater joy than cooking something from scratch for my boys and watching them enjoy it. “These chocolate chip biscuits are my husband's favourite biscuits that his mother made him when he was a child in the early 80's. My mother in law had ripped a recipe out of a Woman's Weekly magazine and that faded scrap was what she handed me when I asked her for the recipe.” I have carefully filed that recipe and treated it like a family heirloom because of the special place it holds in my husband's heart, memories of baking with his mum. When I had kids of my own, I couldn't wait to bake the same biscuits their father enjoyed as a boy. Anything with chocolate is a winner with my boys so I wasn't surprised when they loved them the first time I cooked these. This is also a great recipe to get the kids to help with. Its very simple and involves a lot of rolling biscuit dough into balls which is good work for little hands especially if you don't mind them coming out a bit misshapen. If you wanted to you could add nuts or dried fruit, but sometimes you just don't mess with a classic. Chocolate Chip Biscuits adapted from a Woman's Weekly recipe Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes Makes: 24 Large biscuits 250g Butter, softened 1/2 Cup Caster Sugar 1/2 Tin of Condensed Milk 2 1/2 Cups Self Raising Flour 2 x 200g Bag Milk Chocolate Chips Step 1- Using a mix master or electric beaters, cream the butter, sugar and condensed milk until pale. Step 2- Fold in the flour and chocolate chips. Step 3- Roll into balls and flatten onto lined baking trays. Step 4- Bake at 180c for about 15 min until lightly golden. Cool on a rack.

  • Roast Rack of Lamb with Honey Mustard Glaze

    Lamb Cutlets (or "Meat Lollipops") as my kids call them are so deliciously tender and sweet, especially when cooked as a whole rack. These are a treat for us because they are so expensive and when it comes to meat lollipops my kids seem to have stomachs like bottomless pits so I have to buy at least 2 racks which makes for an exy dinner. Nevertheless, when they are on special, or we've had a quiet week, I'll grab a couple racks and roast them up with my honey mustard glaze. This recipe is an adaptation of how my mum used to cook a leg of lamb when I was a kid. It may seem weird to use soy sauce on lamb but with the meat being so naturally sweet it acts as a nice salty counter balance. She also used soy sauce to make gravy to accompany a roast dinner and let me tell you, now I can't make my gravy without soy sauce either! The Thai/Asian influence doesn't end there. I also use a mortar and pestle to pound the fresh ingredients for the glaze. There is no real reason for this, other than that's what I feel comfortable with? Use a knife and board if you want. “Cooking time for a rack of lamb depends on weight and how you like it cooked. I like medium rare, so my general rule is, after browning in a frying pan (starting the cooking process) I then roast in a 180c oven for 20 minutes for every 500g.” It's also really important to rest the meat for at least 20 minutes out of the oven. This is such a juicy cut of meat, if you slice too soon you'll lose all those lovely juices as they run out onto the chopping board. Just leave the rack on a board while you prepare your sides and it will be well worth the wait. I also don't like to cover my meat with foil as its resting. The lamb rack will come out of the oven with some beautiful charred edges where the glaze has caramalised, I just hate the thought of losing those delicious crispy bits by covering with foil and creating a steam tent that softens everything. The meat will still be warm after 20 minutes in the open air and once you pour the hot glaze/sauce over the top, it will warm back up. Roast Rack of Lamb with Honey Mustard Glaze an original recipe by Kimberley Kells Preparation time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes + resting time Serves: 3 Adults or 2 adults 2 kids with vegetable sides 2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled 1 Sprig of Rosemary, stripped 2 Teaspoons of Seeded Mustard 1/3 Cup of Soy Sauce 1/3 Cup of Honey 750g Rack of Lamb or 2 x 400g Racks of Lamb 1 Cup Chicken or Beef Stock, split in 2 x 1/2 cups Step 1- In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and rosemary until it's a paste. Using a spoon, stir in the mustard, soy sauce, honey and pepper. Taste for balance and adjust if necessary. Step 2- Allow the lamb to reach room temperature by removing from the fridge about 1 hour before cooking. Lightly score the top layer of fat using a sharp knife. Step 3- In a cold, oven safe frying pan, sit the lamb rack, fat side down. Turn on the heat to medium and allow the fat to render until the fat is gold brown. Pour the liquid fat out of the pan and replace the lamb rack, fat side up. Step 4- Pour the glaze mixture all over the lamb and allow to spill into the frying pan. Add 1/2 cup of stock into the pan so the glaze doesn't burn on the bottom. Place the frying pan in the oven and roast at 180c for 20 min per 500 grams. In this recipe that equates to 30 min. Step 5- Remove from the oven and rest the lamb rack on a chopping board for at least 20 min. This is really important! Otherwise the juices will run everywhere when you carve! Step 6- While the meat is resting, pour the remaining 1/2 cup stock into the frying pan and stir to lift all the gorgeous funky cooked on bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow to bubble up and reduce until syrupy. Step 7- Carve the lamb by cutting between every second bone. Serve with the extra glaze and sides.

  • Teriyaki Chicken Wings

    Chicken wings are popular in my house, they're easy to manage for little hands, and they can be flavoured in so many ways. I like to play around with spice rubs, sauces and frying but the glaze on these Teriyaki Chicken Wings is sticky and moreish with the skin remaining crisp from oven roasting. "I want crispy skin!!!" I've created a monster. Mr 3yrs now refuses to eat any skin (chicken, fish, pork rind) unless it is absolutely crisp. He regularly critiques my cooking and is definitely my toughest customer. I know I've done it to myself, when he counts among his favourite foods as: truffle, duck and wontons! Yes, I can deep fry wings but they are something we eat so regularly that I had to find a healthier method to achieve the young master's wishes! “I came up with what I like to call: Poor Man's Fried Chicken. Where I coat chicken wings in plain flour and roast on a rack in the oven with no oil. The natural fat from the chicken drips down into the roasting tray, leaving the suspended wing skin nice and dry so it can tan up and do it's thing. It actually tastes pretty close to fried!” The teriyaki glaze is made in a frying pan and the wings tossed through so please serve them straight away to preserve that beautiful crisp skin underneath. My boys like to eat these with a squirt of kewpie mayo but they are indulgent gluttons so you might not need this. Teriyaki Chicken Wings an original recipe by Kimberley Kells Preparation time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour 5 minutes Serves: 3 Adults or 2 adults 2 kids with rice and vegetables Oil for Stir Frying 1 Cup Plain Flour 750g Chicken Wings, tips removed and separated at the joint 2 Cloves of Garlic, minced 1 Thumb Sized Piece of Ginger, grated 1 Cup of Soy Sauce 2 Tablespoons Cooking Sake 2 Tablespoons Mirin 3 Tablespoons White Sugar 1 Teaspoon Sesame Oil 1 Teaspoon Sesame Seeds Step 1- In a plastic zip bag, dump flour, chicken wings and salt and pepper. Seal and toss until the wings are evenly coated. Place the wings spaced out on a roasting tray with a rack. Roast at 180c for 1 hour, turning half way through, until crisp and golden brown. You might need to use the grill at the end to get good colour on the skin. Step 2- Meanwhile, as the chicken is nearly cooked, heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry the garlic and ginger until fragrant. Step 3- Pour in the soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar and let bubble to reduce to a syrup. Should only take a couple of minutes. Taste for seasoning, adjust with more sugar and soy sauce to balance. Remove from the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Step 4- Toss the cooked wings in the frying pan to coat each wing in the teriyaki sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with rice.

  • Thai Curry Puffs

    These Thai Curry Puffs are baked in the oven, not deep fried which makes them a bit healthier but also much easier to cook. Deep fried is always going to taste better but I find it far easier to throw a few trays of curry puffs in the oven and forget about them rather than to have to babysit a pot of hot oil, cooking in batches of 4 or 5 at a time. Thai Curry Puffs are one of my mum's signature dishes. She brings them to every barbecue and party and they are always a hit. My first memory of them was when I was 5 or 6 years old, my mum had volunteered to cook food for the Asian Food Stall at my primary school fete. She had committed to making 500 curry puffs and it was then that she taught me the folding technique I've been using ever since. Here is a video, and once you get the hang of it, it's like second nature, but for beginners, crimping with a fork will also do the job. This recipe makes a large batch which I mostly freeze just before the baking stage. They will keep in the freezer for months and when it comes to cooking them, I just throw them on a lined baking tray straight from frozen and bake in the oven. They are ever so slightly spicy from the curry powder but my kids have eaten them since they were babies and never had a problem #asiankids. It's a great dish to sneak some vegetables in too! “I make these Curry Puffs with pork but you can easily change them up to use chicken or beef mince. I've even made them vegetarian, leaving out the meat all together and they still taste great!” Thai Curry Puffs an original recipe by Kimberley Kells Preparation time: 1.5 hours Cooking time: 30 minutes Makes: 75 Curry Puffs 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil 1 Onion, chopped 3 Cloves Garlic, chopped 500g Pork Mince 1 Large Sweet Potato, diced 3 Potatoes, diced 500g Frozen Peas Carrot Corn 30g Keens Curry Powder 4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce 4 Tablespoons White Sugar 2 Teaspoons White Pepper 9 Sheets Frozen Ready Rolled Puff Pastry Step 1- Heat oil in a large frying pan/wok and saute the onion until soft. Add the garlic and fry for an extra minute. Step 2- Add the pork mince and break up lumps using a wooden spoon. Step 3- Add in the sweet potato and potatoes and fry over low heat with the lid on until cooked through. You will need to stir every few minutes to ensure nothing catches on the bottom of the pan. Step 4- Stir through the frozen veg, curry powder, soy sauce, white sugar and white pepper. Taste for balance and adjust if necessary. Cool completely. Step 5- Take one sheet of thawed ready rolled puff pasty and using a knife, make 2 vertical cuts and 2 horizontal cuts so that you have 9 equal squares. Step 6- Using one of the pastry squares, fill with 1 tablespoon of curry puff filling. Fold in half diagonally, pressing the edges to seal. You can either crimp the edges with a fork or fold the traditional way using the technique in the video above: start from one corner, pinch the pastry edge between 2 fingers and fold over, slightly overlapping, pinch beside this fold and fold over again, creating a rope look. Continue all the way around the pastry edge until complete. Repeat with the other pastry squares until all the filling is used. Step 7- The curry puffs can be frozen on a lined tray at this stage or baked straight away on a lined tray with a spray of canola oil in the oven at 200c for about 30 min or until golden. Serve with sweet chilli sauce.

  • Review of 12 Micron's Leisurely Lunch- Winter Edition

    A bottomless lunch is a thing of beauty. For big drinkers (like myself) they represent good value and I'd like to say I'm somewhat of a connoisseur of the bottomless lunch in Sydney. I've been meaning to try the Leisurely Lunch at 12 Micron, so when my friend Ms Bond Villain suggests it, wild horses can't keep me away. The Leisurely Lunch deal is this: a 3 course lunch, with bottomless cocktails (2hrs) for the very reasonable sum of $89 every Saturday and Sunday with bookings between 12-2pm. Usually for a long lunch including cocktails and wine, I will spend approximately $200pp so $89 is a bargain and I'm keen to see if the food lives up to my positive memory of the last time I was at 12 Micron for a wedding. "I'm actually coming back here next week for my sister's and mum's birthday lunch" I inform Ms Bond Villain as we are seated. We spend the next 15 minutes catching up and gossiping about our old workplace when the waiter asks if we're ready to order. Of course we haven't even looked at the menu so I ask what he recommends. There is a choice of 3 items for entree and 3 for mains with sides. Our waiter recommends we have the Flamed Mackerel, Green Tomato, Hazelnut Crumb and the Wagyu Bresaola, Macadamia, Roasted Cherries, Red Amaranth for entree to share. For mains he recommends the Cap Grim Sirloin, Grain Fed, BMS5+, Potato Galette and the Lemon Sole baked on Paperbark, Saltbush, Triple cooked Chips. We order the steak cooked medium rare. Cocktails are the drink of choice today and we decide work our way down the 6 drink cocktail list. They are bottomless after all! The Rum Punch is first up and it goes down the hatch without even touching the sides. Entrees arrive quickly and greedy me starts hoeing in like I've never seen food before #alwayshungry. "But aren't you supposed to take pictures first?" Ms Bond Villain interrupts, and she's right, I'm new to this whole #foodblog thing and I've totally let my greedy hunger get in the way of getting a shot of the food! I manage to quickly shoot what's left of the mackerel dish before resuming my annihilation. Mackerel is quite an oily, full flavoured fish and the aroma hits the table before the fish does. This doesn't bother Ms Bond Villain or I as we both have ethnic backgrounds and are used to eating 'smelly' foods but if my husband were here, he would most likely turn his nose up at this dish #whiteguy. Just a word of warning for some Australian palates that are used more mild flavoured white fish, this may not be a dish for you. We love it though and the hazelnut crumb adds a toasty depth of flavour. The other entree of Bresaola is simple and tasty with the juicy cherries providing the acidity. We clean our plates with our warm bread (Ms Bond Villain's was a good gluten-free roll) and send them back completely bare while ordering our next cocktails! The Lemon Myrtle Caprioska is up next and it is bloody strong! I've done bottomless cocktail lunches elsewhere and felt like they were watered down which was disappointing. This is not the case at 12 Micron. I love a caprioska (this is my holiday drink) so I down that despite the strenth, and order next up on the list, which is a Rosella Bellini. Main's arrive shortly after and our eyes widen to the size of saucers when we see not only the triple cooked chips accompanying the lemon sole and a potato galette accompanying the steak but also a side dish of wagyu fat potatoes! “OOOOHHHHHH we scream like adolescent school girls seeing Justin Bieber at the sight of these potatoes. Our waiter asks us why every woman has this reaction to the potatoes and we explain that we don't eat potatoes Monday through Friday so for us, this was like finding water in the desert.” Again, I forget to take a photo as I start chomping into a chip and boy, is it a chip! Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and perfectly salted. Aside from watered down cocktails, another thing that can let a bottomless lunch down is lack of food. More than once I have walked out of a bottomless lunch and been searching for the nearest takeaway food outlet. Not today my friend, not today. The lemon sole is lovely, gently cooked on paperbark and while the steak is a true medium rare, I find it a bit chewy. This is probably because I usually choose the more tender cuts like eye fillet or scotch fillet and this is a sirloin but it is still full of flavour and enjoyable. We also get a tomato salad with a beautiful buffalo curd which reminds us of the creamy inside of a burrata. There is so much food we can't possibly eat it all but there is always space for our next cocktail which is a Hendricks G&T and of course, dessert! I forgot to mention the view! Of course it is lovely overlooking Darling Harbour, up the far end of Barangaroo and its a beautiful day but we are really there for the gossip and drinks #sorrynotsorry. The negroni is the is the last item on the cocktail list and by dessert, we have made it all the way through that list. Ms Bond Villain has slowed down, not quite finishing each drink but I am a seasoned drinker and just hitting my strides. We both opt for the pear dessert and when it arrives, we are presently surprised. I guess this is what happens when you don't read the menu properly but for some reason we are both expecting a poached pear situation and out pops this chocolate sphere. We break it open and inside is the most luxurious, silky custard that flows out onto segments of soft pear and crunchy honeycomb and pear chips. The dessert is by far the favourite dish for both of us and we each demolish our plates like hungry little tipsy piggies. Ms Bond Villain is done with drinking while I order another cheeky caprioska just for sh-ts and giggles. When the time comes to pay the bill we're definitely in a festive mood and hassling the poor waiter Richard because he is struggling calculate half the bill for us. I tell him in jest that his Asian card is revoked (I can say that because I'm Asian) for being bad at maths, and with that, I'm sure a picture of me went up in the kitchen under a blacklist. I am due to go back to 12 Micron next weekend for another round of the Leisurely Lunch, I probably should have left harassing the staff until then. 12 Micron Tower 1, Level 2, 100 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo *This meal was independently paid for.

  • Wonton Soup

    Making wontons is a labour of love. After you have prepared the filling, each little parcel has to be neatly primped and folded with precision and care so they don't explode later when cooking. Wonton wrapping can be a social activity though, I've often sat around with family, all of us helping out to make light work. This time I sat with Mr 3yrs. He passed me wonton wrappers as I filled and folded. We had about an hour, just to two of us, rhythmically passing and folding while discussing all things important to a 3 year old boy: dinosaurs, monsters, robots and Toy Story 4. Someone asked me recently what was the best thing my mother taught me. Without missing a beat, I answered: the love of cooking and how to nurture through cooking. This soup actually holds a special place in my heart. Anyone who's had a baby can attest to those first couple of days home from hospital being the hardest. Your body has gone through a physical trauma, lack of sleep, establishing feeding and you are so overwhelmed with the sheer challenge of parenthood in front of you. Not to mention those post natal hormones raging through your body! On this day, my mum showed up on my door step with bags of food. She waltzed into my kitchen and began cooking me wonton soup. I just burst into tears then and there because in that moment I knew I had her full support and help with this baby and my new life as a parent. “That soup not only physically restored me but it showed me that I was loved without my mum having to say a word.” Those special moments of cooking together and for each other is the most valuable thing my mum taught me and its something I try to teach my boys every day. This happens to be Mr 3yr's favourite dish so it's my pleasure to make it for him and with him. This recipe makes a large batch so I usually freeze half of the wontons before the cooking stage and use them later. They cook beautifully from frozen, just drop them into boiling broth. Wonton Soup an original recipe by Kimberley Kells Preparation time: 1 hour Cooking time: 10 minutes Serves: 6 Adults or 4 adults 4 kids 500g Pork Mince 230g Tin Water Chestnuts, chopped 3 Spring Onions, chopped + extra for topping 1 Thumb Sized Piece of Ginger, grated 40g Dried Shitake Mushrooms, re-hydrated in boiling water then chopped 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce 2 Tablespoons White Sugar 1/2 Teaspoon White Pepper 2 x 250g Packs of Wonton Wrappers 3 Litres Chicken Broth, home made or store bought, salted to taste 1 Bunch Chinese Broccoli, chopped 2 Fresh Chillis (or to taste), chopped Step 1- Make the filling: in a mixing bowl, combine the minced pork, water chestnuts, spring onions, ginger, shitake mushrooms, soy sauce, white sugar, white pepper. Taste for seasoning and balance. Step 2- Wrap the wontons (see video filmed by Mr 3yr. Please ignore him talking at the end! #theysaidneverworkwithchildren): take a teaspoon amount of the filling, place into the centre of a wonton wrapper, using a finger dipped in water, trace around the edge of the wrapper, fold in half to make a rectangle squeezing out the air and seal the edges, wet one corner and fold back on itself. Repeat until all the filling is used. Step 4- Heat the broth to boiling point and drop in the wontons. They should take a couple of minutes to cook, but I always pull one out and cut in half to check. Step 4- Drop in the Chinese broccoli and serve into bowls immediately. The residual heat in the stock will be plenty to wilt the greens. Top with more spring onion and fresh chilli.

  • Thai Pad See Ew with Beef

    Pad See Ew is one of the most loved Thai dishes in Australia and is also one of the easiest and quickest to make. It's totally customisable so feel free to choose your own adventure and substitute the beef I've used for chicken, pork or seafood and add in whatever veg you have in the fridge. You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already, but you will need to get fresh rice noodles which are the star of this meal. I love the Asian grocery. There are a few that I visit around where I live on the North Shore of Sydney: the Thai Grocer (Mae Cheng) in Thaitown, the Asian grocer (Ngan Kee) in Neutral Bay and the Chinese grocer (Tongli) in Chatswood Chase. I just love wandering the aisles, picking up my essentials and discovering new wonderful ingredients I have never seen before. There often isn't a lot of English writing on the packaging so half the fun is getting it home and figuring out what it is and how to cook with it! As much as I like cooking from scratch, I will always pick up frozen dumplings, frozen BBQ pork buns and instant noodles. They are a life saver when the kids a whinging for food and I can't be f-ed cooking! “For Pad See Ew you need to ask the grocer for Wide Fresh Rice Noodles. They will be in the fridge section. Dried noodles just don't have that slippery texture that makes the dish.” Pad See Ew with Beef an original recipe by Kimberley Kells Preparation time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 10 minutes Serves: 3 Adults or 2 adults 2 kids Oil for Stir Frying 1 Brown Onion, sliced 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped 350g Scotch Fillet Steak, sliced 1 Bunch Chinese Broccoli, chopped 3 Eggs 1kg Pack Wide Fresh Rice Noodles 2 Tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce 2 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce 2 Teaspoons Light Soy Sauce 2 Teaspoons White Vinegar 2 Teaspoons White Sugar 2 Teaspoons Water, more if needed Step 1- In a very hot wok with oil, stir fry the sliced onion until soft. Add in the garlic and beef. Toss until just cooked. Step 2- Throw in the Chinese broccoli and stir to combine. Push everything to the side of the wok to create space and crack in the eggs. Mix them around to make an omelet then stir into the rest of the ingredients. Tip everything out into a bowl and set aside. Step 4- Bring the wok back to smoking point and add in the noodles. Stir fry and let them char on the hot wok. Add in the sauces and water if necessary. The noodles will soak up the sauce so keep adding water to stop it from drying out. Step 4- Add back the beef, veg and egg mixture and give one final stir to combine.

  • Beef Bourguignon

    I would have hated this dish as a child. Every night I would ask my mum what was for dinner and if she said stew, I would think ugh. It's funny how our taste's change as we get older. After my entire lifetime of hating blue cheese, a couple of months ago I was at a friends place and decided to try some and low and behold, I loved it! Now I can't get enough blue cheese, and stew for that matter. This one's a beaut. I've adapted the classic Julia Child Boeuf Bourguignon recipe to be more user friendly without sacrificing flavour but it still does take a while so one weekend, take your time and enjoy a glass (or 3) of wine as you're cooking it. Much to my surprise, my kids actually enjoy this beef stew, guess the apple does fall far from the tree. Even if they refuse to eat it though, I only serve one meal and there are no alternatives, nothing else until the next meal. It's a tough stance but I firmly believe that its the start of a slippery slope and I will NOT negotiate with terrorists! “Cooking the mushrooms separately before adding to the stew seems like a hassle but let me tell you, one extra little step treats those mushrooms with respect and really makes the entire dish.” Beef Bourguignon adapted from a Julia Child recipe Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 2.5 hours Serves 3 adults or 2 adults 2 kids with mash potato/rice/pasta/bread 180g Speck or Bacon, chopped 900g Chuck Steak, chopped chunky 2 Carrots, chopped chunky, 1 Onion, diced 6 Cloves of Garlic, chopped (3 in the stew, 3 for the mushrooms) 2 Tablespoons Plain Flour 8 Pearl Onions, peeled whole 3 Cups (700mL) Light Red Wine (like a Pinot or Merlot) 2-3 Cups of Beef Stock 2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste 1 Beef Bullion Cube, crushed 8 Stalks Thyme, stripped 2 Bay Leaves 2 Tablespoons Butter 200g Mushrooms Handful of Parsley, chopped Step 1- Starting in a cold, large dutch oven, fry the bacon. I find that starting in the pot cold and bringing to heat, the fat renders from the bacon and I don't need to add any extra oil. Remove and set aside. Step 2- In the same pot and in the bacon fat, fry the beef to brown well. Remove and set aside. Step 3- In the same pot and in the bacon and beef fat, saute the onion and carrot until soft. Add in the garlic and saute for an extra minute. Add back the beef and bacon and any resting juices. Step 4- Sprinkle over the flour and stir to cook it out for a few minutes. Step 5- To this, add the pearl onions, red wine, tomato paste, bullion cube, thyme, bay leaves and enough beef stock just to cover. Step 6- Cover with the lid and simmer over low heat until the beef is tender and falling apart. Approximately 2 hours. Step 7- In a frying pan, melt the butter to nut brown, and add the mushrooms and the garlic. Fry until tender and add into the stew pot. Step 8- Shower with chopped parsley and serve with mashed potato, rice, pasta or crusty bread.

  • Thai Red Curry with Chicken

    In households all around the world, a particular scene is growing familiar- you get home from work, the house is a mess, the kids are complaining of hunger, but you don't want to order a pizza because you're trying to set a good healthy eating example and you're trying to watch your weight yourself... I know I've been there! Next time, please consider a curry; when we are talking mid-week cooking, a curry from scratch can seem daunting but let me tell you its not! With a little preparation once every few months, you can have a beautiful, home made curry on the dinner table in as little as 25 minutes. A curry is truly a versatile dish because you can really customise it to suit personal taste or whatever you have in the fridge. Here I've used chicken and baby eggplant but the possibilities are endless: prawns, pork, beef, fish would all be lovely and any veg you throw in will absorb the fragrance of that curry paste. Just please don't tell my mum! She would NOT be happy with people adding in non-Thai vegetables willy nilly. #sorrymum I also serve mine with cauliflower rice to cut down on calories but if it's the weekend or we have friends over, you know I'm carbing it up with real rice! “This dish is best made with a homemade red curry paste. Every couple of months, I make a big batch which will yield enough to make about 6 curries. I portion out and freeze them in little containers where they defrost and fry up beautifully. I'm not living in fairy land though, and I know people will want a shortcut so here it is- Maesri Red Curry Paste. The one in the tin. Its pretty good but quite spicy so if you can't handle the heat better to make your own and adjust for your taste.” Red Curry with Chicken an original recipe by Kimberley Kells Preparation time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes Serves 3 adults or 2 adults 2 kids with rice 2 Tablespoons Red Curry Paste (follow link for recipe) 500g Chicken Thigh, diced 2 Baby Eggplants, roughly chopped 400ml Coconut Milk 3 Kaffir lime leaves, shredded 2 tablespoons Fish sauce 2 tablespoons Palm sugar 1 lime, juiced (2 if not juicy) Step 1- In a wok or large pot, fry the chicken in batches until golden brown. I find that chicken thigh has a lot of fat naturally so I let that fat render and I don't need to add any oil. Remove and set aside. Step 2- Leaving the chicken fat in the wok, fry the curry paste until fragrant and everyone in the house is coughing from the chilli. Should be 2-3 minutes. Step 3- Stir in the coconut milk and add the vegetables according to cooking time. The baby eggplants take about 15 min to cook. Cover with a lid and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Step 4- Add in the chicken and any resting juices as well as the fish sauce, palm sugar, lime. Taste and adjust to achieve balance. Top with the shredded kaffir lime leaves.

  • Review of FIN Fine Fish & Chips

    There's a certain corner in Crows Nest/St Leonards that is undergoing a renaissance. When I lived on Albany St many years ago, like much of the area, it was a mix of new apartment blocks and old office buildings and the vibe was- quiet. Fast forward almost 10 years and the intersection where Albany St meets Oxley St is a buzz with the openings of Rough & Bare, Cavalier 1.0 and FIN Fine Fish and Chips. It's a beautiful sunny winter's day this Monday lunch time and after taking the kids to morning sports class, my friend and I decide to take our brood of 4 children (2 each) out for fish and chips. FIN Fine Fish & Chips have been open since March this year and have been popular with Crows Nest and St Leonards locals. The menu covers your classic fish and chips, burgers, salads and a selection of more exotic snacks such as Sesame Prawn Toast on sourdough with Sriracha Mayo, Szechuan Pepper Calamari with Smokey Aioli and everyone's favourite: Fish Tacos. Going out to eat with kids is chaotic at times, especially when they outnumber you. It's loud, messy, we need space for prams and highchairs and it usually ends in tears. We mums (and Dads) have a toolkit of techniques to minimize the disruption but sometimes it's a plain old sh-tshow. I can totally understand why restaurant and cafe owners would shudder at the thought of a family with young kids coming to their establishment. That being said, this is my fourth or fifth time at FIN and every time they have bent over backwards to accommodate us, moving tables, cleaning spills and even entertaining the offspring. There are plenty of highchairs and plenty of space in between tables to fit the tractors we all seem to call prams these days. But that's not even the best part. The food is really good too! “Service is friendly and quick, with our meals ready for pick up from the counter in a matter of minutes. There is a sauces station so you can help yourself to chilli oil, malt vinegar, tomato/barbecue sauce and the nectar of the gods: chicken salt.” Today we've opted for the FIN's Classic Beer Battered Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas and Greek Salad, because #health. The beer batter is crisp and light, encasing juicy fresh New Zealand Hake, great chips, and wonderfully seasoned mushy peas. There is also the option to upgrade the fish to Barramundi. This is served with tartar sauce and I have rained down a glorious dose of chicken salt which is making my kids whinge for water. The Greek Salad isn't quite traditional with the addition of salad leaves but it's tasty and keeps me from gorging on the kids leftover chips. Side note: this is why parents put on weight, because we eat our meals and our children's leftovers! Eating with kids, there are 2 rules that you absolutely must follow in order to be courteous to other diners which are: 1. eat early and 2. eat quickly, so with that, by 12:15pm we pack up the circus and clear out so that other people can enjoy their lunch in peace and FIN can serve other customers without us taking up half the floor. FIN Fine Fish & Chips 48 Albany St, St Leonards *This meal was independently paid for.

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