15 December 2013

Recipe: How to make your own yogurt

I recently learned how to make delicious natural yogurt at home thanks to some great friends of mine who taught me how. It's extremely easy and will save you lots of money. You don't need any fancy equipment either. This recipe doesn't even require a thermometer and has so far given me great results every time.

2 litres of milk (cow's milk, any fat concentration)
2-3 tbsp natural yogurt as starter (your yogurt must contain live and active cultures, just check labels on the yogurt at the grocery store if making yogurt for the first time or if you have run out of starter culture)

Pot for heating the milk
Large spoon for stirring the milk
2L plastic container
Small spoon for spreading the starter culture

Pour the milk into a pot and heat on the stove top on medium heat, stirring often and keeping a close eye so the milk doesn't scald.
Once the milk has boiled and looks foamy on top like cappuccino, turn off the heat.

Protip 1: If you have a larger pot and a smaller pot, you could instead create a water jacket effect with some water in the larger pot and place the smaller pot in the water. This is a gentler way to heat the milk with less chance of scalding.
Protip 2: Add milk powder to the milk while it's heating up if you like thicker yogurt.
Protip 3: Longer boil times will also increase the thickness of the yogurt.

Heating milk to make yogurt

Remove the milk from the heat and allow it to cool. To speed up the cooling process, you can fill a sink 1/4 of the way with cold water, carefully pour the milk into a large bowl, and place the bowl in the cold water. Stir occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on the surface as the milk cools.

Cooling milk to make yogurt

You'll know the milk is ready when you dip your finger in and it's warmer than room temperature, but not hot. Next, spread 2-3 tablespoons of the yogurt inside a 2L plastic container.

Pour the milk into the plastic container, put the lid on and wrap it in a towel to keep it warm (in winter or in cold climates, use a warm blanket instead of a towel to keep more heat in). Place the wrapped container into a dark cupboard and leave for approximately 7 hours. After about 7 hours (leave it an hour or two longer if using low fat or skim milk), the culture will have multiplied and when you lift the lid, voila! Beautiful homemade yogurt for a fraction of the cost!

Homemade yogurt!

Place the container in the fridge and enjoy! Just remember to save a small amount of the yogurt as starter (don't eat it all) so you can make a new batch. The yogurt will last for a week in the fridge. You can also add fresh fruit and/or honey to make it sweet. If I had known how cheap and easy it was, I would have started making my own yogurt years ago.

30 November 2013

Para Hills Hot Bread Bakery - Adelaide, South Australia

A diamond in the rough, a needle in the haystack, an awesome bakery in the Para Hills Bridge Road Shopping Centre. It's not the kind of place you're likely to stumble upon, but it's well worth seeking out. Thuy Vu is the owner of Para Hills Hot Bread Bakery and she is clearly passionate about baking. After migrating to Australia from Vietnam on a refugee boat at age 18, she worked in a Salisbury bakery before later starting her own business in 2002. She's won numerous awards, some of which are proudly listed on the sign above the shop.

Para Hills Hot Bread Bakery

Front and center as you walk into the shop is a glorious display of savoury pies, pasties and sausage rolls. The selection is quite impressive with all of the usual suspects and a few originals as well.

Pies & Sausage Rolls

Look left or right and you'll see sweets galore. Cakes, tarts, lamingtons, slices and more. How's a girl to choose?

some of the sweets on display

The plain meat pie is generally a good indicator of bakery standards. This one looked good on the outside. Nice flaky pastry and beautifully golden in colour.

Plain Pie

Biting into the Meat Pie ($4) and it's clear this is no ordinary bakery. It's not just good, it's great! Nice, quality beef in a smooth and tasty brown sauce.

Inside Plain Pie

As an awesome twist on the great South Aussie pie floater, you'll find the Mushy Meat Pie ($4.50).

Mushy Beef Pie

It's basically a Meat Pie but with mushy peas on top of the beef. Genius!

Inside Mushy Beef Pie

The meat pies are excellent, but my favourite pie from Para Hills Hot Bread Bakery would have to be the Tuna Mornay ($4.50). Bonus points for the fact that it comes with a little pastry fish on top.

Tuna Mornay Pie

This pie is so ridiculously creamy, cheesy and delicious. If you like tuna, you will LOVE this pie!

Inside Tuna Mornay Pie

The Chicken Pie ($4.30) is my second favourite because it reminds me of chicken pot pies from my childhood. Hearty, warming and full of chicken and veggies.

inside the chicken pie

The best of the sweets that I've tried so far is the French Vanilla Slice ($3.50). The custard has a beautiful creamy smooth texture and a good strong vanilla flavour. The pastry is crunchy and flaky. This is a must try.

Vanilla Slice

If you're looking for a great bakery in Adelaide's northern suburbs, look no further than Para Hills Hot Bread Bakery. They're open 7 days from 6am. If you want a particular item, I recommend getting there as early as you can or pre-ordering because they do sell out.

P.S. The chocolate doughnuts aren't bad either.

Para Hills Hot Bread Bakery on Urbanspoon

29 August 2013

Wheat Thins (Coles brand) - Australia

Anyone who's been away from foods they grew up with would understand my excitement when I discovered a Coles brand version of Wheat Thins here in Adelaide, South Australia. The Wheat Thins I know and love from North America previously had to be sourced from places like USA Foods in Australia. Not anymore! Granted, the Coles brand version isn't exactly like Nabisco's... but it's close. And at only $1.79 for 250 grams, not bad value either.

Wheat Thins in Australia! (Coles brand)

Wheat This (Coles brand)
I'm also pretty happy with the list of ingredients. Definitely not the most unhealthy snack food on the market and I'm glad to see there are no monoglycerides on the list. Interestingly, they are made in Canada. Coles also sells a Vegetable Wheat Thins variety (green box) which are good too, but the plain ones (orange box) are definitely my favourite. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Wheat Thins (Coles brand) nutritional info