Saturday, February 28, 2015

Recipe: Low carb gluten free chocolate brownies

If you can't tell I recently bought a slice tray so I'm working my way through recipes I haven't made in quite some time. This recipe is a keto adapted version of one provided to me by a coworker with gluten free food restrictions. 

Low carb gluten free chocolate brownies

1 cup almond flour/meal
1 cup walnut pieces
2 cups granulated Splenda
2 tbpsn cocoa
1 tspn baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter
3 whole eggs
115g (4oz) unsweetened chocolate
1 tspn vanilla essence


  • Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and line a slice tin or square baking tin with wax paper
  • In a mixer add your almond flour, Splenda, cocoa, salt and baking soda and then mix on the slowest setting until combined
  • In a microwave or double boiler melt the chocolate and the butter together and then stir thoroughly
  • Add eggs and vanilla essence to the flour and mix on a medium speed until a thick batter is formed
  • Add the butter/chocolate mix to the batter continuing on medium speed until an even texture is formed; it should have an almost dough like consistency
  • Turn off the mixer and fold in your walnut pieces then turn the batter into your slice tin
  • Press with your hands or a baker's blade to evenly distribute to all corners, an even top will prevent cracking
  • Bake for 25 mins then turn onto a rack to cool
  • The texture is excellent whether you avoid wheat or not, carb eaters can replace the Splenda with half as much Brown sugar
  • You can ice the top if desired or dust with confectioner's sugar or powdered Splenda 
  • Cut into 16 Brownies - Macros below are for the whole batch - Each brownie is 192 Calories, 5.3 Carbs (2.6g Net), 17.5g Fat

Review: Shanghai 456, New York City

Finding regional Chinese cuisine is surprisingly hard in San Francisco so when we walked past this Shanghai (Hu) Cuisine restaurant we had to stop in. It was brunch time which means yum cha, pretty much my favourite meal of all time.

The restaurant was not large but it was packed to the gills. Encouragingly we sat next to an excited group of foodie Chinese women having a ladies lunch. Not only did they look happy as anything with their food but we caught each other curiously checking out what dishes came to the table and had to laugh... one of those happy moments that transcends language.

Green Beans $5.50USD

Green beans cooked with caramelised onion, shallots and garlic. It's usually a good idea to get greens with dimsum to offset the fatty heavy dumplings. The sweet onion was cooked to perfection.

Green Onion Pancake $2.50USD

Soft crisp shallot pancake is fried in crispy layers. These pancakes were huge and I admit we were unable to finish them despite being delicious. For $2.50 these aren't much more expensive than buying them from the bakery cold.

Pork Xiao Long Bao $5.25USD

Once can't eat at a Shanghai restaurant without ordering xiao long bao - a refined soup dumpling that fills with fragrant liquid when steamed. The secret to xiao long bao is making a jellied stock in the dumpling mix that melts when heated. This rendition was excellent, with paper fine pastry perfectly formed using a traditional 18 fold method.

Dumpling in Spicy Sauce $5.50USD

This dish was what made the stop worthwhile and I will be tracking it down again on future trips to New York. I assumed when I ordered it that it would come in a standard chilli oil and vinegar sauce. Instead hearty pork and shallot dumplings are boiled and served in a sticky dan dan mien sauce - a combination of ground sesame paste and chilli. If I could have I would have licked the plate... just sensational. At under $6 this is one of the best bargains in New York.

There's only so much two people can eat so sadly we didn't get to explore the menu as much as I would like but there were plenty of beckoning plates like pan fried breakfast buns, pancakes filled with beef, crab xiao long bao, beef soup, triple delights and sticky Shanghai fried meats. 

Shanghai 456 is one of those hole in the wall eateries that proves that good food in New York doesn't need to be all fancy menus and celebrity chefs... good simple food done very well makes this place worth a walk in Chinatown. 

Shanghai 456 (currently parked)

69 Mott St # A
New York, NY 10013
United States
(212) 964-0003

No nonsense Shanghai cuisine and dim sum

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Snapshot: East Village Dumpling Walk, New York City

This had started out as a post work trip to the New York branch of Ippudo Ramen but it was not to be. Their policy of no reservations meant that even leaving work early there was a 3.5 hour wait in the cold by the time we got there. 

Instead we decided to do a little walking tour of the best of the Village's Asian eats, buying small plates at three fantastic eateries in the neighbourhood.

Mimi Cheng's Dumplings

Mimi Cheng's reminds me of hole in the wall eateries in Asia, a small menu done very well with a quiet Chinese grandma folding dumplings in a corner. The decor is what you might politely call "minimal" a few row tables and some stools surrounded by blackboards harking prices. 

The Reinvented Classic 6 for $8USD or 8 for $10USD

A classic guotie (pot sticker) stuffed with pork, boy choy and cabbage. The wrapper is delightfully thin and folded to in a classic style fried or steamed to order. 

The Mimi Cheng  6 for $8USD or 8 for $10USD

A lighter Chicken and Zucchini stuffed dumpling is folded into a dim sum triangle shape using the same dumpling wrapper as the classic. 

Seasonal offerings are made daily and once sold out gone forever; I was very sad to have missed the Autumnal Thanksgiving Turkey dumplings. Still their standard jiaozi and their delicious "secret sauce" take on  Chinese spicy sesame dipping sauce are well worth a stop.

179 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Momofuku Ssam

David Chang is one of those celebrity chefs whose popularity I think is over rated; sure he's brought modern Asian Fusion cuisine to the New York scene but as a long time Sydney resident this is hardly ground breaking to me. Still if you're willing to brave the wait there are some delicious dishes on offer.

The hostess is like something from a New York sitcom trope barking orders, turning away even the wealthiest of clients and ruling with an iron fist (and an iPad checklist). They've vastly improved the experience since my first trip to a Momofuku restaurant though. Diners names are taken and a time to seating given. Rather than standing in the cold or jammed into the vestibule, as in the past, we were given the opportunity to wander off and texted when our table was ready. 

Most of the Ssam menu focuses on Asian influenced dishes and barbecue but I'm here for the Bao.

Buffalo pork buns – crispy pork belly, hot sauce, blue cheese

Pure fusion madness that just works. Crispy fried pork belly is paired with one of those ultimate New York flavour profiles - Buffalo hot sauce, crumbled blue cheese and red cabbage coleslaw. Everything is served on a soft folded mantou bao, a sweet wheat dough known to most from char siu bao. 

Steamed buns – pork belly, hoisin, cucumber, scallion

Soft slow baked pork belly matches perfectly with sweet sticky Hoisin sauce, scallion and freshly made pickled Cucumber. 

207 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-3500


BaoHaus was the absolute star for me on this trip. We took a chance on it while we waited for our seats at Momofuku Ssam and honest... it was so good it made Chang's offering disappointing in comparison. The brainchild of internet darling Eddie Huang BaoHaus offers casual Taiwanese American eats.

The restaurant is totally ghetto - covered in graffiti and staffed by super excited urban warriors. Korean and American hip hop streetstars smile and push fried chicken on you gleefully. The staff are all super invested in the business and took the time to chat not only about the food and the restaurant but about our travels and planned New York dining. I can't remember the last time I visited a business with such excited staff and their excitement was infectious as well as being well founded.

Sometimes the simple things are absolutely the best and if you're more interested in great food than status BaoHaus is the place for you.

Chairman Bao  $8USD

 Berkshire pork belly is braised in a soy and all spice mix served with  relish, crushed peanuts, red sugar, and cilantro. The peanuts and cilantro offer an almost Vietnamese taste to offset the Taiwanese lu rou fan pork. Absolutely amazing, pure genius in taste matching and completely unique to my experience.

Birdhaus Bao $8USD

Soft, moist, brined chicken is breaded in a southern style batter served salted with a mouthwatering citrus aioli and more nuts and cilantro. The fried chicken and mayonnaise is unsurprisingly quite heavy on the stomach (and the waist) but entirely worth it. If I could reverse engineer their aioli recipe I would be one happy cook. 

238 E 14th St
New York, NY 10003
 (646) 669-8889

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Recipe: Louise Cake

Valentine's means sweets for my sweet and this Kiwi classic is my man's favourite cake. This recipe is cheap and easy to make from cupboard staples.

Louise Cake

125g butter
3/4 cup Caster sugar
3 Large eggs separated
1 3/4 cup Plain Flour
1.5 tspn baking powder

1/4 cup Caster sugar
1 cup Coconut
1 tspn Vanilla essence
1/2 cup Jam


  • Preheat oven to 170C
  • Grease and line a slice tin or cake tin
  • Separate the eggs and set the whites asside
  • In a bowl cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale, then add the yolks one at a time
  • Sift in the flour and baking powder and then mix until it forms a crumbly dough
  • Press into the cake tin and prick with a fork, then bake for 10 mins
  • While the base proves whip the egg whites into soft peaks
  • Slowly add the sugar and vanilla and mix until the meringue turns glossy
  • Remove the meringue from the mixer and then gently fold in the coconut
  • Remove the base from the oven and spread the jam on with a spatula. You may wish to warm the jam slightly for easier spreading
  • Spread the coconut meringue topping over the pastry and jam base and then return to the oven for another 20 mins or until the peaks are golden
  • Cool in the tin then remove and cut into squares to serve with tea

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Review: Blossom on Columbus, New York City

Too often Vegan restaurants cater only to the down home hippy market, failing to capture the dining dollar of the wealthier ethical diner. Luckily New York City is a bustling food market with a restaurant to cater for every possible variation. Blossom own multiple restaurants in Manhattan, but the venue on Columbus is a lovely formal dining affair within stone's throw of the Central park. The wonderful food and easy distance make this the perfect stop for a post Park or Museum outing. 

By being entirely free of animal products the menu at Blossom also caters easily to the allergen market - gluten free, dairy free, wheat free, nut free and low carb options appear throughout. 

Buffalo Risotto Croquettes $10USD

Spicy risotto is breaded and fried served with vegan "blue cheese"

Heirloom Tomato Salad $14USD

A vegan rendition of a classic Caprese salad with vegan mozzarella and cashew cream. 

Mushroom Ravioli $13USD

Hand made ravioli stuffed with mushroom with a vegan butter sauce.

Southern Style Seitan Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries $17USD

Seitan is a gluten based meat alternative which is not to my taste but was well enjoyed by my friend. Each of the Sandwiches could be served with a variety of sides 

Vegetable Lasagne Stack $20USD

As a low carb eater I always love to find pasta alternatives. This vegie stack included pasta sauce, vegan mozzarella interleaved between layers of eggplant and zucchini and topped with arugula.  

Fetuccine Alfredo $19USD

Vegan cheese and nut milks are used to prepare this animal free alfredo and served on fettucine with mushrooms, herbs and grape tomatoes.

For a group with very specific food needs this was a perfect choice, while some of the food may seem a little bland or strange to omnivores the chance to have an entire selection of Vegan dishes is rare. The restaurant is well decorated and the customer service immaculate, much recommended. 

Blossom on Columbus

507 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10024
United States

Upscale Vegan formal dining

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Recipe: Miso Chicken Stew

I am lucky enough to have an extensive food program at work including cooking classes. Recently we attended a class on slow cooker recipes, since many employees complained of receiving slow cookers as wedding gifts with limited ideas of what to do with it. This recipe was a complete killer, delicious and so simple even the most basic of cook could prepare something wonderful. Make it on a cold winter day or prepare it for the sick loved one in your life.

Miso Chicken Stew

8 chicken thighs (or 500g chicken)
4 medium carrots
2-3 stalks of celery
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup white miso paste
Chicken or Vegetable stock (enough to cover ingredients)
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 sprigs Thyme or Rosemary


  • I buy fresh miso paste from the local Korean market, many Western supermarkets will now carry Miso Paste. Buy Shiro (white) or Mild Miso paste, Miko brand is readily available in Coles (Australia) or Safeway (USA). One tub will make several meals and will store for months in the fridge.
  • In a bowl mix the miso paste and wine into a paste
  • Peel and dice the carrots and onions, trim and dice the celery and garlic
  • Add the vegetables to the bowl and mix until the paste covers all the vegetables
  • Strip the leaves off the herbs and add to the bowl, dried herbs will work if you have no fresh herbs
  • Add salt and pepper to taste - I use whole peppercorns but any table salt and pepper will do
  • Mix thoroughly to ensure distribution of the seasonings
  • I am not fond of single use appliances so I cook this recipe in a Creuset style stove top oven, if you have a slow cooker or pressure cooker these will work just as well. 
  • Heat your pan and add a tiny amount of oil enough to stop the chicken sticking, add the chicken thighs whole and fry until brown on the outside. 
  • The sear will add a lot of flavour to the dish, if you are feeling lazy or rushed you can add to the slow cooker raw but will miss some of the depth
  • Once the chicken is brown add your vegetable miso mixture and stir, then cover with stock or water until all the items are covered. 
  • If using a slow cooker leave overnight or for 8 hours; this dish cooks wonderfully while you're at work. 
  • Using the stove top method cook for 3-4 hours on low, no need to stir or attend to the dish  you can leave this stew on the stove while you do chores or other things around the house
  • Once cooked take a fork and tease apart some of the chicken, it should fall apart easily without much effort. Often just picking up the chicken with the fork is enough to separate the strands of the protein
  • This recipe serves 4 - 8 heartily, half the recipe for smaller groups. Macros if divided by 8 are 9g Carbs (8 net), 4g fat, ~150 Calories
  • If desired serve over rice, potatoes or noodles, but this is delicious on its own