Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Nib & peel biscuits

 April 27, 2024


I've barely been baking this year, but autumn often gets me in the mood for it. My inspiration to take on this recipe was a very marked-down packet of cocoa nibs I picked up from Terra Madre. My one strong memory of baking with nibs before was in this biscuit recipe where they're paired with candied citrus peel - I blogged about it back in 2007 (!) but didn't publish the recipe so I'm here to redress that oversight today.

The biscuits have very simple, classic ingredients - they come out quite crisp and toasty, with a bit of chewiness at the centre. They're not a thick, pillowy cookie. I like that the cocoa nibs are flinty and barely sweet as a contrast to the soft and sugary peel.

Nib & peel biscuits
(very slightly adapted from a recipe from Cook (almost) Anything)

125g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
200g plain flour
40g sweetened citrus peel, finely diced
1 teaspoon baking powder
40g roasted cocoa nibs

Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line 1-2 baking trays with paper.

Thoroughly beat together the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until combined. In a separate small bowl, stir a tablespoon of the flour together with the citrus peel to manage its stickiness and prevent it from clumping. Sift the remaining flour and baking powder into the butter mixture and mix until almost combined. Add the cocoa nibs and citrus peel, stirring until just combined.

Place generous, well-spaced tablespoons of the mixture onto the baking tray(s) and bake for around 10 minutes, until just browning around the edges. Allow them to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring them elsewhere.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Ima Asa Yoru II

April 26, 2024


It's hard to understate how taken were with our first visit to Ima Asa Yoru. Within little more than a month we returned for lunch, missed out on a table and grabbed some tasty takeaway from their bustling pantry, and booked ourselves in for dinner on a Friday night.


I would've loved to try their cocktail menu but I was feeling migraine-adjacent and satisfied myself with a yuzu and ginger soda ($8.50). Michael did Friday night right with a green apple whiskey ($20).


The night menu is split into cold and hot dishes, with plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes clearly marked across the list. We covered most of the vegetarian ones, starting with a tsukemono (pickle) plate ($13) and melt-in-the-mouth eggplant agebidashi with refreshing daikon oroshi and ginger ($18).


The blooming onion ($16) was an unexpected and memorable option! It's served with a dainty mayonnaise and mustard, and actually well-handled with chopsticks.


The mixed mushrooms ($17) were more squarely within our expectations (in the best possible way): carefully cooked to preserve their varied textures with soy, spring onion oil and lemon zest, then showered with shredded nori.


I was excited for the chawanmushi ($21), an egg custard served with wood roasted heirloom tomatoes and pangrattato. It's garnished with their excellent chilli crisp, which is a complementary choice that's just too spicy for me to handle; all the more for Michael!


They absolutely redeemed themselves with their chocolate nemesis cake ($17), a dense and fudgy dessert that we happily split between the two of us. The cream had to be spooned separately to detect the promised yuzu.

Dinner at Ima Asa Yoru was a slightly more mixed experience for me than breakfast, but that's more a matter of my taste than any shortfalls on their part. The food is consistently made with care and flair.


You can read about our first visit to Ima Asa Yoru here.

Ima Asa Yoru
1 Duckett St, Brunswick
9989 2309

Accessibility: Entry to Ima Asa Yoru includes shallow, wide ramps. Furniture is densely packed, made up of low tables with backed chairs and high benches with backed and backless stools (I find it difficult to comfortably use the footrest). We ordered at our table and paid at a low open counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Saturday, June 08, 2024

Kariton Sorbetes

April 21, 2024


We squeezed a visit to Kariton Sorbetes between our last two comedy shows and it might have been the highlight of my night! I've been eyeing off their Filipino-flavoured gelato for a few years, reading the complimentary reviews, and made one failed attempt to visit their original Footscray venue before this successful sample of their newer Chinatown shopfront.

Their menu is in regular rotation and we hadn't pinned our hopes on trying any particular famous flavours. Michael took the creamy, chocolatey approach, ordering a cone ($8.70) with Tita-misu (coconut mascarpone gelato, coconut sponge fingers, Vietnamese coffee caramel and chocolate soil) and Milo Dinosaur (Milo gelato, malted milk chocolate ganache, Milo honeycomb).


Meanwhile, I had a cup ($8.70) stacked with Brazo de Mercedes (toasted marshmallow gelato, mandarin-yuzu sorbet) and TMT (Thai milk tea gelato, coconut milk crumb, coconut sugo jelly). I'm not generally a marshmallow gal, but its tangy citrus counterpart was the balance it needed.

We thought all four flavours were absolutely brilliant! I'd like very much to go back when I have the time and appetite to make my way through a Taho or Halo Halo.

We didn't notice clear dietary information on site but there's some online, so vegans and coeliacs might be best off doing a little research in advance. We reckon it'll be worth the effort.


Kariton Sorbetes
177 Russell St, Melbourne CBD
menu: one, two

Accessibility: Kariton Sorbetes has a flat entry and somewhat narrow, roped queuing system. There are few seats, mostly low backless stools. We ordered, paid, and picked up our icecreams at a low counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Caramelised Brussels sprouts & kimchi with rice cakes

April 21, 2024


We've been eyeing off all the Brussels sprouts recipes in Hetty McKinnon's Tenderheart and counting down until they were in season to try some out. We jumped the gun a little with this - they don't really peak until May or June - but we were too impatient to wait. The newish Korean grocery at Barkly Square made ingredient shopping for this one super easy, and the results were excellent - smoky and spicy and generally delicious, with a great combo of textures. I really love cooking with and eating rice cakes, so I'm pretty sure this will get another go around before winter ends. 

Caramelised brussels sprouts with kimchi & rice cakes

500g sliced rice cakes
400g Brussels sprouts, trimmed
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
3/4 cup vegan kimchi, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon tamari
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook the rice cakes - check your packet, but ours only took a couple of minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water - try to keep them from sticking to each other too much.

Halve the Brussels sprouts (or quarter them in if they're big) and heat a frying pan over high heat. Drizzle with olive oil and add the sprouts and a generous shake of salt to the pan. Leave them to cook for a couple of minutes without stirring, so they char on the bottom and then turn them and do the same again for another couple of minutes. Repeat until they're tender and nicely charred all over. Transfer them to a bowl and set aside (you may need to do a couple of batches, depending on the size of your frying pan).

Add some more oil to the pan and stir together the garlic, ginger and kimchi. Press the kimchi into the pan and leave to cook for 2-3 minutes until it's also nice and charred. 

Run some more water over the rice cakes and separate them as best you can and then add them into your pan with the kimchi, along with the sprouts. Toss everything together and add in the tamari and sesame oil, plus generous shakes of salt and pepper. 

Kill the heat and serve, topped with a generous sprinkle of the sesame seeds. 

Monday, May 20, 2024

Fenton III

April 21, 2024


This post sets me on the path to a personal goal: visiting Fenton at least once per season to experience the variety of their produce-centred menu! We were there last winter and late summer, and here we are firmly in autumn.


It seems the chilli scrambled eggs ($25) are evergreen, which suits Michael well. The standard version featured chorizo, but the vegetarian adaptation included a welcome slab of haloumi, generous house-made hot sauce, pickled chilli and crispy fried shallots.


The sweet breakfast of the day was more distinctly autumnal, cinnamon apple French toast ($24). The single, thick toast was drenched in dolce de leche, piled with popcorn and scattered with pecan crumble. I was initially disappointed with the lack of apple, but actually there was plenty lying low under the popcorn and vanilla whip. This is a plate big on comfort, but also playful with textures.

While the dishes change, the excellence remains - can't wait for the next round!

You can read about one, two of our previous visits to Fenton.

158 Rathdowne St, Carlton
9328 3401

Accessibility: Fenton has a flat entry and medium-to-densely packed tables and backed chairs, with a clear wide path to the counter. We ordered at our table and paid at a low counter. We didn't visit the toilets.