Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Recipe: Okonomiyaki

It looks super fancy but okonomiyaki is a simple dish that's easy to make during the week. Okonomiyaki is "grilled as you like it" so get creative with the vegetables and toppings - use up leftovers and smother in delicious sauces for a sure fire winner.



Okonomiyaki


1/2 a head of cabbage
3 eggs
1 cup soy milk
1/2 cup water
2 cups flour
1 serve of hon dashi (bonito stock)
2 tbspn sesame
2 tbspn soy sauce

Toppings:

1/2 cup diced spring onion (scallion)
1 bottle of squeezable mayonnaise
1 bottle okonomi or tonkatsu sauce
1 tbspn sesame seeds

Method


Dice the cabbage and scallions and set asside. If you are using leftover vegetables or meat in your dish now is the time to mix them in



Mix the flour and bonito stock together in a bowl. For a gluten free alternative use rice flour.


Bonito stock can be bought in powdered sachets at any good Asian supermarket. For a vegetarian alternative use Vegeta or add vegetable stock in place of water to the egg mixture.


Crack the liquid ingredients into a bown or jug - egg, soy milk, sesame oil, soy sauce and water. 


If using liquid stock add to this step. Whisk until well combined.


Mix the flour, vegetables and egg mixture into a loosely formed batter. You can add more water at this stage if you want a more pancake like consistency.


Oil a small non stick pan and fill 3/4 inch with vegetable batter. Fry until the vegetables are browned half way up the sides. 


Use a plate to flip the pancake and fry until golden brown.


Prepare your pancake for dressing. 


Drizzle okonomi or tonkatsu sauce on top of the pancake. 


Tonkatsu sauce is very similar to okonomi sauce but usually intended for fried pork, it is easier to find in the US. 


Drizzle mayonnaise in the same direction as the okonomi sauce using a small squeeze nozzle


Turn the plate and drag a chopstick across the sauces for a decorative touch.


Sprinkle with scallions


Top with sesame seeds and serve on its own or with your favourite grilled meat and Japanese croquettes.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Biergarten Restaurant, EPCOT Florida

DisneyWorld might not seem like the most gourmande holiday but EPCOT is amazing foodie adventure. There are regular wine tastings and food events held at the "world of tomorrow" and an amazing global showcase. 


Around the main lake is a series of country themed arenas similar to the World Expo with iconic architecture, shops, food and bars. The German section includes a delightful village square with Bavarian architecture selling clocks, sweets and of course sausage. 


Outside in the square you can stop for a German beer or a sausage snack, but the real attraction is the all you can eat buffet restaurant Biergarten $59.99 per adult for all you can eat German fare.


Inside the Bavarian beer garden theme continues with a Disneyfied village where Octoberfest runs every day!


There's a proper German brass band playing polkas and as we were there at Christmas they played lots of Season songs and games for the kids. 


Try the flight of German beers ($13USD) including an Oktoberfest brew, a Dunkel, Weissbier and a sweet Grapefruit Weissbeer or order any of the above in half litre steins ($8.25 - $9.50USD) to wash down all that meat!


German style cold meats like liverwurst, white sausage, white fish salad and salmon mousse. Cold fresh salads and pasta salads are also included. 


Meats include hot fish and chicken dishes, sausages and goulash with spatzle and hot vegetables. 


The carvery is the real star of the show though. Roasted beef, chicken, pork, meatloaf and turkey are all available along with hot cabbage, potatoes, onions and excellent gravy. Grilled and stewed sausages are perfect for the kids. 


Good german style bread, just perfect for sausage and mustard.


Finish up with Bavarian cakes, pastries, cheeses and puddings filled with sticky berry jams and spices. 



American style cookies, cream cakes and fresh fruit are also included. 

Honestly we were surprised at how excellent and how authentic the food is. The atmosphere was pure Disney magic, all the staff are from Germany or Austria and can talk about both the beer and the food at length as well as entailing their own (family friendly) Octoberfest stories.

I think what impressed us the most was how many locals were there. Seated at long communal tables we got to know the people we were dining with and found we were the only tourists! The quality and the value for money are so good that all the locals come into EPCOT just to eat here. I had to giggle as I watched an ex serviceman dig into a pile of meat and beer and talk about when he was first stationed in Germany.

The food is rich and filling though, come with an empty stomach and elastic waisted pants!


Biergarten


https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/epcot/biergarten-restaurant

1510 Avenue of the Stars
Orlando, FL 32821

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Disney Polynesian Village Spirit of Aloha Luau, Orlando Florida

As well as multiple theme parks DisneyWorld has a number of hotels on property ranging from affordable family lodgings to high end resorts. The Polynesian Village is one of the original resorts that opened with DisneyWorld in 1971. 




With no family in tow we were looking for something a little different to do for Christmas dinner and booked the Spirit of Aloha Luau. This is a theatre dinner with tropical food and Polynesian entertainment strung together with a slightly hokey Disney channel style story about a Hawaiian girl leaving her family to make it big in America.



 Truly I was hoping that there would be a Character experience with Lilo and Stitch but instead we got a series of fairly authentic Polynesian dances. Many island cultures were represented including Tonga, Samoa, Maori (New Zealand) and of course Hawaii.


 Costumes were based on real Polynesian national dress and the highlight of the night was an incredible fire dancing display as the finale. Some games and songs appeared during costume changes and of course songs from the soundtrack to Lilo and Stitch were highlighted. 



The dinner is presented in a large tropical bungalow, prices varied based on the view of the stage but even the "cheap seats" had an excellent view. Prices per adult include all you can eat food plus basic beer, wine and sangria $64USD for Category 3 to $74USD for Category 1. 


Tiki style cocktails were available for additional cost like this Pina Colada fit for a Hawaiian King at $14USD



The appetizers were reasonably healthy and included a tangy Coleslaw, Mandarin Salad, Sesame Soba noodles and chunks of sweet Hawaiian pineapple.


The main meal was a hungi / luau style barbecue meat platter including roasted chickens, ribs, pulled pork and an Asian vegetable medley. Gluten free and vegetarian alternatives were available on request.

Further platters were available on request but the servings were generous and we found we were unable to eat the platter presented to us. 


A moist pineapple bread pudding with soft Hawaiian style bread was served for dessert. 

The food was surprisingly good for a family all you can eat dinner and the service and show were Disney quality family entertainment. We had a great time and while it was a little cheesey it was great fun especially for the kids. The dance shows were excellent and the music and comedy were at least Dad Joke funny. 

To top it all off Florida had a heat wave over the holiday break. The heat, food and families dining in tropical Hawaiian clothing made it feel just like Christmas in Australia. We had a great time and would recommend it for someone looking for a different dinner at DisneyWorld. 


Disney's Spirit of Aloha Luau

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/polynesian-resort/disney-spirit-of-aloha-dinner-show/

1600 Seven Seas Drive
Orlando, FL 32830

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Review: Coral Reef Restaurant, EPCOT at Disney World

We spent two weeks at Disney World Resort in Florida during the end of year holiday period. One of the great advantags of Disney World over Disneyland are the endless seated dining options. Add a Disney Magic Band and set all your reservations before you leave and you can avoid eating hot dogs and churros every day. 

The busy holiday period had upwards of half a million people on the park properties during Christmas and New Year and so booking early is a must. Reservations can be made at all the Disney restaurants months in advance. I'll be posting a number of holiday resort food destinations that we went to so keep an eye out for new posts. The prices are holiday destination pricey but there are some cheaper options particularly for those on a Disney Dining Plan.



The Coral Reef Restaurant is in the Sea section of EPCOT and is designed to invoke memories of Finding Nemo. The star attraction is the huge windows into the Ocean Tank where you can watch clouds of fish serenely float by. Sadly for the kids in the room the fish spotting map was out of date and we couldn't put the breeds to the pictures provided.

The food at Coral Reef is standard steak and seafood formal dining. There are plenty of options including vegetarian and land animals so that if you're not a seafood fan you won't miss out. Kid friendly options like Fish and Chips and Mac and cheese are included as well as "Mickey Check Meals designed to keep kid friendly food healthy.

 Being a Disney destination they're also meticulous about fussy children and food restrictions. You should be able to find gluten free, dairy free, nut free, wheat free, low carb or diabetic friendly options at all of their restaurants. If you don't see what you need on the menu the "cast members" that make up your dining service are more than happy to help you with options or talk to the chef. The service is Disney immaculate, the food was good but not amazing but given this is a theme park really one cannot complain for it not being Michelin level.


Pina CoLAVA $10USD

The menu is filled with sweet and sticky cocktails like you might enjoy at a beachside resort. Have a pina colada or three with your fish, just remember this is a family dining experience and getting giggly should include being careful to keep the language and topics child appropriate. There are mocktails available so your kids can join in on the fun.




Creamy Lobster Soup $9USD

I'm not a big fan of fish but I do love lobster! This is a classique creamy bisque soup with fresh herbs and cream. Note the kid friendly name to avoid putting off fussy diners.


Heirloom Tomatoes $10USD

Heirloom caprese one of my favourite classics. The tomatoes were ripe and juicy and obviously benefit from the Florida sun. 


Shrimp and Grits $30USD

Shrimp and grits is one of those American classic dishes we had to learn about moving to the US. Corn mash is topped with succotash and seafood, this was a nice rendition filled with coastal prawns. 


New York Strip $33USD

This was a decent but not amazing steak, similar to what one might find at a chain restaurant like Cheesecake Factory. Green vegetables and a decent mash are included.



The Chocolate Wave $9USD 

I can't see a lava cake without thinking of the melt down scene from Chef anymore but sticky gooey chocolate concoctions are right up my man's alley.



Seaside Cupcake $9USD

I saw one of the kids desserts go by and couldn't resist. I admitted to the waiter I was hoping there was one for adults and he laughed and told me this request was common. Moist delicious chocolate cake topped with mounds of butter cream and seaside fancies. Be warned though the Brilliant Blue dye gave me an allergy reaction :o(

All in all we had a great experience at the restaurant and it's a welcome piece of peace after walking around EPCOT all night. On a night you're not waiting for fireworks the serenity of the sea this is a great option. Book ahead.


Coral Reef Restaurant EPCOT


 Epcot
1520 Avenue of the Stars
Orlando, FL 32836

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Recipe: Home made Nutella (Vegan, sugar free, low carb)



Sugar Free Nutella



1 1/2 cups raw hazelnuts
1/2 cup hazelnut oil
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 tbpsn cocoa powder
2 tbpsn liquid stevia


Method




  • Roast the hazelnuts on a piece of foil at 135C (275F) for 15 minutes
  • Remove the tray from the oven and wrap the foil around the nuts, let the nuts sit for 10 minutes wrapped in foil as this will loosen the skin on the roasted nuts
  • Place the roasted kernels on one side of a clean kitchen towel, double the towel over the nuts and rub vigorously to remove the skins
  • Melt the coconut oil in a pan or microwave
  • Put the nuts and hazelnut oil into a blender and pulse until grainy
  • Add the cocoa, coconut oil and stevia
  • Blend on "Liquify" mode until a smooth liquid is formed
  • If liquid stevia is not available dissolve 4 tbspns of stevia powder into the melted coconut oil before using or a grainy texture will result
  • 1/4 cup skim milk powder can be added to get that "just like store bought" taste but compensate by adding an additional tablespoon of oil
  • You can buy hazelnut oil at Safeway or specialty stores but if not available substitute with a light vegetable oil like canola or grapeseed
  • Pour into a jar and refrigerate
  • Try not to eat the whole jar



Monday, January 11, 2016

Recipe: Coffee Jelly (low carb, gluten free, dairy free)

Coffee jelly is a common dessert in Asia and it's very easy to prepare, low in calories and free from any artificial flavours or additives.


Coffee Jelly


4 cups of coffee
2 packets unflavoured gelatin
3 tbspns sugar or stevia


Method

  • Prepare coffee as usual - brewed or French press coffee works best
  • Pour 1/2 cup of the brewed coffee into a bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin 
  • Wait for the gelatin to bloom into the liquid
  • Pour the remaining coffee and sweetener into a saucepan
  • Add the bloomed gelatin and coffee 
  • Heat and stir until the sweetener and gelatin have dissolved
  • Using a sieve to catch any undissolved gelatin or loose coffee grinds pour into moulds or cups

  • Cool overnight or until set in the refrigerator
  • To remove from a mould set the mould in a bowl of warm water then turn onto a serving plate
  • For a vegan alternative use agar agar in place of gelatin
  • If desired serve with unsweetened cream or sweetened condensed milk
  • Makes 4 1 cup servings (Macros with stevia: 20 calories, 1g carb, 0g fat, 4g protein)