homemade pizza

Whenever I'm delegated the role of home chef, my first instinct is to make pizza. Despite the hassle of preparing all the toppings, it's become such a common thing that I've never thought to photograph it before now! Anyway, in trying to up our game we recently tried cooking it on our barbecue and it works a charm (who would've thought?). With the help of a pizza stone you can get a crispy base that can't be replicated in the oven, but never fear! It still tastes good if you don't have one handy. The following pizza base recipe was inspired by Smitten Kitchen, although I did take some liberty with the method...

Makes one pizza:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tbs olive oil
Toppings of choice
1. Place the lukewarm water and dry yeast in a bowl, and let sit for five minutes.
2. Stir the dry ingredients in a large bowl with the yeast mixture and olive oil, then mix until well incorporated. Dump onto a floured surface and knead the mixture until it comes together into a ball.
3. Lightly oil the bowl with cooking spray, place the dough in there and cover with cling wrap for 1-2 hours. It should double in size.
4. Gently press the air out of the dough, and divide if you're making more than one pizza.
5a. If using an oven, preheat at 180°C for 15 minutes. Roll out your dough on a baking sheet, and add your toppings of choice. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
5b. If using a barbecue, let your pizza stone heat up with the barbecue for 15 minutes on medium. Roll out your dough on either aluminium foil or a metal tray, and add your toppings. Place on the pizza stone in the barbecue and cook for 15-20 minutes.

The result? A really good pizza, except with the sweet satisfaction of it being homemade! It's not like I even used to order pizza a lot, but since learning this recipe I've been having it a little too often and obsess a bit over all the toppings I want to try. For one, I've always wanted to make breakfast pizza complete with sunny-side up eggs, since I'm a fiend for them and two of my favourite things in one can do no wrong. So, what are your pizza toppings of choice? I'd love to hear and try them for myself!
Posted by : Mani

slow sundays

I'm pretty sure that for every blogger, there comes a time when you just don't know what to post. I know it happens to me all too often, since not everyday's a photo opportunity where I get to eat out or visit exciting new places. Heck, usually I won't even get dressed in favour of staying in bed, so outfit posts become impossible! Anyway, I thought it'd be fun to answer these questions Jane posted on her blog, even though I rarely answer tag style posts here. I really should start doing them more often though – they're fun, interesting and easy to compile, especially when I have a bad case of blogger's block!



1. Last TV show and/or movie you watched, last book you read, last song you listened to?

The last thing I watched? Legally Blonde the Musical. If you’ve never heard of it you need to at least listen to the soundtrack, it’s super catchy and does a way better job of fleshing out Elle than the movies ever did! In fact, if you've got two hours to spare you can watch the entire thing here, but be warned. I did warn you that it's extremely catchy...

If that doesn't count, the last things I watched/read/listened to were Arrow, Sleepless in Seattle, my Japanese textbook and Cruella De Vil from the 101 Dalmatians soundtrack. A totally normal combination!

2. What did you eat for breakfast this morning? How did it compare to what your ideal breakfast would be?

I was the pinnacle of health this morning and had chocolate almond milk for breakfast. It definitely wasn't as good as my ideal meal of baked or poached eggs, preferably with bacon, cheese and some good quality bread…

3. What's something you're looking forward to in a) a week b) a year?

It's really sad but I can't think of anything, since I'm definitely not a person that tends to think that far ahead! I guess I can look forward to the weather in Sydney since it's meant to rain all of next week (no sarcasm, I just really love the rain). As for in a year's time, I can look forward to almost turning twenty even though that's not really considered a milestone age. How fun?

4. What's your usual coffee order? And if you don't drink coffee: how do you take your tea?

I don't drink hot coffee, but I usually like to have English Breakfast tea with milk and sugar (the only way to have it, in my opinion)! Sometimes I'll also treat myself to a chai latte, if I'm out and about.

5. Post a selfie! Do you have a 'selfie face'?

Here's a recent-but-not-really selfie in a separate link, to protect the public! Apparently I pull a different face every time, which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it.

So, what are you watching, reading or listening to right now? Even though I have a never-ending list of things to get through I'm always on the lookout out for new obsessions, so let me know. In the meantime, I hope you're enjoying your weekend!
Posted by : Mani

stra pocha

Despite Korean food being right up there on my list of favourite cuisines, I hardly ever get to eat it. There aren’t many restaurants in the vicinity of where I live, and I'd say half the battle is in gathering enough people to have something worthy of being called a feast! So understandably I was keen on going to Stra Pocha for a friend’s birthday over the weekend, and it did not disappoint. The restaurant's in Strathfield (aka Sydney's own Koreatown) and I rarely go there, but definitely should more often! There are some cute cafes around the place, as well as lots of options for dinner. Not to mention, there's a PappaRotti shop there that I really want to try, but that's a whole other thing I won't go into...

Oh. My. Word. Whenever I eat out for Korean I always forget about the banchan (or complimentary side dishes), so we ended up with so much food that there wasn't enough space on the table! The first thing to come out was this spicy hot pot stew that involved ham, beans, sausages, rice cakes, assorted veggies, and more. To top it all off there were ramen noodles and a slice of cheese, and while I'm not usually a big fan of spicy food I really enjoyed it! It was pure comfort food, and I'm definitely going to be trying that cheese thing with my Shin Ramyun noodles now haha.

Japchae, or stir-fried glass noodles with beef and lots of vegetables. I can never replicate that bouncy noodle texture at home, so I always look forward to having the real deal whenever I eat out! These noodles were less oily than the ones I've had at other restaurants, which I liked. Although, the veggies were naturally the only things we couldn't seem to finish...

Pork belly, before and after we barbecued it. Typically I feel really heavy after eating at KBBQ restaurants (especially if unlimited meat's involved), but this was quite nice with the other dishes to balance it out.

Korean fried chicken is supposedly legendary, and I'm surprised I hadn't tried it before this point! I didn't eat much of the cheese, but if my piece was any indication it didn't need it. The chicken itself was so juicy and tender that I would probably eat a bucketful if no one else was around, and it may even beat the amazing Lao fried chicken I have at home (sorry mum).

A not so great picture of the seafood pancake, but you get the idea! This is another one of those dishes that everyone loves, so naturally we had to get it. While this pancake had more batter than what I'm used to it still had a crispy edge, and was generously filled with seafood and vegetables. I'm salivating just thinking about it...

We thought we ordered rice cakes but thankfully decided against it, since we were stuffed afterwards! All in all the visit was pretty good value for money, and came to less than twenty dollars each for the eight of us. Not bad for such a satisfying meal, even though our table bell didn't seem to be working and we had to wait a bit for service. Still, I'd definitely come back to try more things on the menu, since there seemed to be lots of choice. Now, if only it weren't so far away from my house!

Afterwards we decided to have frozen yoghurt and cut the cake, as you do! We found the rainbow cake in BreadTop of all places, and it was a nice way to end the night before I went home to get ready for uni the next day. The joy of 9am starts on a Monday... Still, it was worth travelling the distance to catch up with friends and have a good time, just like we used to in the old days. Anyway, I hope you're enjoying your week so far!
Stra Pocha on Urbanspoon
Posted by : Mani

thrifty business

Thrifted cardigan and dress (originally from Sunny Girl) 

The more I go thrift shopping, the more I come to the horrible realisation that it's slowly taking over my wardrobe. Case in point, this entire outfit – I bought this green cardigan awhile ago now, but this dress is a new find that I'm obsessed with! It would be perfect for a summer picnic or any other event in the great outdoors, but since those days are fading fast I settled on wearing it for a long day at uni. Sure the neckline's a bit low for my taste and makes my food baby kind of obvious, but for under ten bucks? I couldn't say no to the pretty print, which is a refreshing change from the overly girly florals I see too often. With some layers on top I think the dark colours will be the perfect thing in my autumn wardrobe, too.

No pictures of my shoes again, because a) I'm inside and b) I'm sure you're all sick to death of seeing my beaten up fisherman sandals! I even had to patch them up with shoe glue recently, but can't bring myself to buy a replacement pair with the cooler months looming on the horizon. This kind of transitional weather is the worst to shop for, if you ask me. Anyway, I hope you all have a great weekend ahead of you!
Posted by : Mani

mango pancakes

As much as I love eating out, I definitely don't get to do it as often as I'd like. 99% of the time it's to do with time and budget constraints, but that doesn't stop me from obsessing over certain dishes! Whenever I try something I love in a restaurant I always go home inspired, and the obsession usually doesn't leave until I return again. If you're not familiar with these mango pancakes they're a yum cha staple, and after having it numerous times I figured I should just make them myself. While I'm not sure if I bastardised the recipe, I do know that it's addictive. After all, it's not hard for something to be delicious with that much whipped cream (I may have been a bit overzealous with it in this case, though)!

Don't be fooled, flipping these things is so much harder than it looks. I really give props to those who have mastered it, considering I used two spatulas and still managed to make holes in my crepes...

   Mango Pancakes (recipe adapted from Vondelicious)
Makes about 10:
3 eggs
1 cup milk
⅓ cup water
3 tbs unsalted butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup caster sugar
a few drops of yellow food

1. Place the ingredients in a bowl in the order listed. Whisk vigorously until blended (or for 30 seconds by machine). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and whisk for 15 seconds longer.
2. Let the batter sit for an hour or longer so that the starches can absorb. You can make the batter up to a day in advance and refrigerate it, but bring it to room temperature before you cook it. It should be the consistency of buttermilk, but if it’s lumpy you can strain it.
3. Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray, or brush lightly with a neutral oil and get it hot but not smoking. Remove from the heat and pour a little batter in (depending on the size of your skillet) and swirl batter evenly around the bottom - try to make this very thin!
4. Return to heat and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes on the lowest setting. The thin edges will get crispy and curl up, and the top will mostly set but stay shiny. Flip the crepe with a spatula.
5. Cook the second side for about 30 seconds, then remove crepe and place it on a clean dish towel.

Assembling the pancake:
300mL thickened cream
Icing sugar, to taste
4 small mangoes, or 2 large
around 10 crepes, from the recipe

1. In a large bowl, whisk cream until slightly thickened then add the icing sugar to taste. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Chill while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.
2. Peel and slice mangoes into long, thin pieces.
3. Place one crepe on a plate (with the nice side down!) and place a heaped tablespoon of whipped cream in the centre. Place a couple of mango pieces around the whipped cream, then wrap the crepe around it. I did this by folding opposite sides inwards over the cream, then rolling the pancake into a cylinder shape.
4. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour (the longer the better) before serving.

You could make these less radioactive yellow and more natural looking by omitting the food colouring, but I personally love it! I think it hides the imperfections and gives the pancakes their iconic look. Anyway, if you're so inclined you could probably experiment with different fruits. I even used sliced peaches after I ran out of mangoes, and while it wasn't the same it definitely still tasted good! Anyway, out of curiosity what are your favourite desserts when it comes to yum cha, dim sum or whatever you happen to call it? Do share! I definitely need to plan ahead for the next time I visit...
Posted by : Mani

uni essentials

Although I finished high school over a year ago, the idea of back to school shopping never gets old. There's just something about stationery shops that makes me feel like a kid in a candy store, and it usually takes all my willpower not to wipe the shelves clean! Sadly, these days I don't have much use for pretty pens and notebooks anymore since using my laptop is way more convenient. Those were the days, when I'd stress over wrapping and avoiding bubbles on my exercise books... Anyway, last week marked the start of uni for me, but being the disorganised person I am I didn't have time to gather all my stuff until now. So to get into the spirit of things, here are some items that wouldn't look out of place in my uni bag!

1. Samsung Galaxy SII - Well, I think this one's a given! Even though I'm hankering for an upgrade soon, I don't think I'd be able to function right without my phone on me at all times.

2. Keep Cup - This year I endeavour to save money and avoid overpriced hot drinks, so here's the first step in keeping that resolution. This was actually a freebie from uni and made an entire day of pretending to be a first year worth it, haha! Hey, I need to take advantage of my youth while it lasts...

3. Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey - The non-existent label on this stain is pretty much a testament to how often I wear it! No matter how many other lip products I buy, this one will always stand out as my favourite for everyday wear.

4. Oroton wallet - The size of this makes it perfect for everyday purchases, as well as a whole lot of hoarding (purikura pictures, loyalty cards... you name it). I should probably stop that, considering the snap closure doesn't even work anymore.

5. Gifted pencil case - I'm obsessed with the print on this pencil case, and have mended it too many times to count! Despite this it still doesn't seem to be holding together, so I'm probably doing something wrong...

6. Sticky notes - Let's be honest here, half the enjoyment to be gained from studying is in coordinating the crap out of your notes with colourful tags.

7. Keys - The Stitch keyring was actually a prize from one of those Japanese capsule machines, and lo and behold! It actually contains a secret pen, which I'm sure will never come in handy.

8, 9. kikki.K notebook and cover - These two actually came together, but I ended up removing the cover to house my diary. It took me so long to decide on one for 2014 that I figured I should just settle for the free planner my uni gives out, which I wasn't that fond of. However, with the different cover on it now has a whole new lease on life!

10. Lavievert laptop case - Yeah yeah, I couldn't resist matching my notebook to my laptop case when I had the chance. It's nothing special, but does a good job of protecting my Macbook and being a pseudo document holder!

Aaand here's the bag that houses it all and more. Ideally my perfect uni bag would be a black leather backpack that has no embellishments and enough space for my laptop, but nope! It doesn't seem to exist, so I may have to take up leatherwork to make it happen. Anyway, this baby was the last one left in Sportsgirl so I took it as a sign. At least, it'll do well to replace the ratty leather backpack that I used all throughout last year!

I'd ask if anyone else is back at school, uni and the like, but I know for a fact that the answer would be yes! It's always weirded me out how holidays work differently outside the southern hemisphere, especially where opposite seasons are involved. I mean, how is it not confusing to start a new school year in September? It just makes no sense to my Australian brain. Anyway, I hope you're all enjoying your week so far!
Posted by : Mani