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

10 August 2013

Nordburger - Norwood, South Australia

Burger bars have been popping up like crazy around Adelaide lately. One of the most recent additions to Adelaide's growing burger scene is Nordburger (168 The Parade, Norwood), which first opened its doors on the 4th of July 2013. Parking is easy since it's so close to Norwood Mall. Off street parking is available in the Coles carpark or across the road at the Foodland carpark.

Nordburger & Norwood Mall entrance

Though it may sound Scandinavian to some, the name "Nord" is also short for Norwood.

Nordburger window

Inside, it's a long and skinny shop with orders taken at the register near the entrance and a few stools for those choosing to eat in.

inside Nordburger

If you can't find a seat along the main counter, there are a couple more seats as well as a couple of stand up tables at the back. Of course, take away is an option as well.


We managed to snag ourselves a couple of stools and enjoyed watching the hustle and bustle of the kitchen, which included MasterChef 2011 runner-up Michael Weldon working the grill.

Nordburger in action

If you're after a cold drink, try a Dr Pepper, A&W Cream Soda, Cherry Coke, or TAB. Or choose from one of the milkshakes...
Classic: strawberry, vanilla or chocolate ($6)
Specialties: pretzel, cornflake, salted caramel, or peanut butter & jelly ($7)
We tried the salted caramel and loved it. I noticed they use Tweedvale milk too - great stuff!

Cold Drinks

On to the main event...the burger! We ordered a Nordburger ($7.80) which comes topped with pickles, tomato, lettuce, mustard, ketchup, and Nord sauce. We also added cheese ($0.70). The beef patty was seasoned and cooked perfectly and seemed a little bit thicker than some skimpy patties I've had elsewhere recently. Bun was fresh, toppings and sauces were all very tasty. This was an excellent burger!

For sides, the choices were tater tots, crinkle cut fries or crinkle cut fries with chipotle seasoning (small $2.50/large $3). We ordered the crinkle cut fries (small) and Nord sauce ($0.50). When I saw the fries from a distance, I wasn't overly excited. Upon closer inspection however, they were nice and crunchy and not too heavy on the salt - very moreish. The Nord sauce is almost identical to Shake Shack's shack sauce (delicious) and was well worth the extra 50 cents for an excellent dipping sauce.

Nordburger ($7.80), Nord Sauce ($0.50), Crinkle Cut Fries (small $2.50)

We decided to try a hot dog as well, the New York ($5.90). Isn't it pretty? It's a Vienna sausage topped with pickled red onion, everything bagel (I think this is a reference to the poppy seeds & sesame seeds), mustard & ketchup. The bun was sturdy but soft. The sausage and toppings were well matched and very enjoyable.

New York Hot Dog ($5.90)

So far, we've thoroughly enjoyed everything we've consumed at Nordburger and we're looking forward to our next visit in the near future. Check them out if you can, but try to avoid peak meal times unless you're happy to line and up and possibly choose take away. Space is quite limited in the shop.

Nordburger on Urbanspoon

26 May 2013

Asian Gourmet - Adelaide, South Australia

New love: a classic eating spot in the Adelaide Central Market called Asian Gourmet. This place has been a family run, Adelaide institution for over 35 years. We were a bit late to the party, but now we're hooked.

Asian Gourmet

You can find Asian Gourmet inside the markets directly across from Camera House. They're open 6 days (closed Sundays) opening at 9:30 or 10:30am each day. Closing times vary from 3-5pm depending on the day and they stay open on Friday nights until 9pm. Seating is available both inside and outside the shop.

inside Asian Gourmet

The signature dish at Asian Gourmet is the Singapore Laksa ($9.50). The lime green bowl looks quite small, but it comes packed full of goodness - prawns, fried tofu, shredded chicken, bean sprouts, coconut cream, egg noodles and more. It's bigger than it looks and sure to satisfy. I haven't found a better laksa anywhere else in Adelaide. Beware though that the standard amount of chili is on the hot side so some may wish to ask for mild.

Singapore Laksa ($9.50)

It's hard to go past the Singapore Laksa but everything else I've tried so far has been excellent as well. The Fried Seafood Hokkien Mee ($9.50) is full of seafood, in a slightly sweet sauce with a lemon wedge. Delicious!

Fried Seafood Hokkien Mee ($9.50)

Another one of my favourites is Fried Mee Hoon ($9.90). This comes with sliced pork, prawns, fried egg, bean sprouts and thin rice noodles. Again, the default amount of chili is on the hot side so keep this in mind when ordering.

Fried Mee Hoon

We're very fortunate to have the Lo family cooking great value Malaysian favourites for us in the Adelaide Central Markets. We've become regular customers at Asian Gourmet and have even fallen in love with laksa for breakfast!

Note: Cash Only.

Asian Gourmet on Urbanspoon

25 April 2013

Paul's Famous Hamburgers of Sylvania - Sydney, New South Wales

During a recent trip to Sydney, we made our maiden voyage to Paul's Famous Hamburgers of Sylvania. This is a Sydney institution, selling burgers long before fast food chains like Hungry Jack's or McDonald's came along.

Paul's Famous Hamburgers

It's important to note that Paul's is closed on Mon & Tues. Luckily, we visited on a Wednesday so they were open for business!

opening hours - closed Mon & Tues

Inside the shop, they proudly display that they were established in 1957. I have a feeling they haven't changed too much since then either.

inside Paul's

The menu includes Hamburgers (with various toppings), Chips, Milk Shakes & Fresh Pineapple Crush.


We considered a milk shake (there were heaps of flavours to choose from) but we decided to try the Fresh Pineapple Crush. This drink is really special as it's real pineapple juice with plenty of pulp as well. Tarty, sweet, and very refreshing! The food comes in a white paper bag. Based on my observations of other customers, it's common practice to rip the bag open to get to your food. This indicated to me that what's inside must be pretty good.

Pineapple Crush ($3.20) & lunch bag

We decided to go with a Plain Hamburger ($5.90), a Works Burger ($8.90), and a Small order of Chips ($3.80). The chips were impressive - crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside with an appropriate amount of chicken salt (optional).

Lunch is served!

The Plain Hamburger was an excellent example of an Aussie fish 'n chip shop burger. The bun was fresh, it had plenty of salad and sauce, and the meat was well seasoned.

Plain Hamburger ($5.90)

The Plain Hamburger was good, but the standout burger was definitely the Works. It had an abundance of toppings - tomato, lettuce, onion, tomato sauce, egg, bacon, cheese & pineapple. Each topping was excellent quality and the bold flavours somehow worked together perfectly. The size of the burger made for a challenging but rewarding bite.

Works Burger ($8.90)

If you're in Sydney, make sure you visit Paul's Famous Hamburgers for a great Aussie style burger & chips with Pineapple Crush to drink. There's a reason they've been in business for 55+ years.

Paul's Famous Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

29 March 2013

Jaffle King & Karvery - Millicent, South Australia

During a brief visit to Millicent, South Australia (near Mount Gambier) we came across something amazing: Jaffle King! Even though we had already eaten lunch, we had to stop and check this place out.

Jaffle King!

I had no earthly idea what a jaffle was, as this is an Australian term I hadn't come across before. I was keen to try one for myself. As we approached the front door, a lady waiting inside began giving me and my camera a constant evil stare. Needless to say, I was a little freaked out so no pictures were taken inside. This is unfortunate because the inside looked like it hadn't changed for decades. The shop was filled with all of the usual takeaway options as well as some special touches like fried chicken. We spotted a Ham, Cheese and Tomato Jaffle and a Caramel Macadamia pie calling our names. It turned out that these were both great choices. The caramel macadamia pie was filled with gooey, dense caramel and the crust was the perfect thickness and very fresh. The macadamias on top added some crunch and even more flavour. Sweet, salty & delicious!

Caramel Macadamia pie & Jaffle!

Now to the main event: the jaffle! A jaffle is basically just a toasted sandwich but because of the cooking method, the ingredients get sealed inside so it's pretty magical. The outside of the jaffle, I later found out is usually just normal white bread. I wouldn't have guessed this based on the texture and flavour of the final product. To make a jaffle, you butter the outside of both pieces of bread, put one piece of bread into the jaffle iron (a hinged skillet - either round or square) butter side down, place your fillings on top of the first piece of bread, place the second piece of bread on top of the fillings butter side up, close the jaffle iron , trim the excess bread from the outside, and cook it over the stove or an open flame. They also make electric jaffle irons if you prefer.

A Jaffle!

As tasty as it was, apparently ham cheese & tomato is not the most popular jaffle. Much more popular fillings are: baked beans & cheese, or tinned/leftover spaghetti. You can even make sweet jaffles like apple & cinnamon for dessert.

Ham Cheese & Tomato Jaffle

After returning home, I started trying to find out more about Jaffle King. Turns out this is the only full fledged location. The only other one I could find is in a petrol station in Mount Gambier. Next time we're in Millicent, South Australia we will definitely be stopping in at Jaffle King & Karvery for some more great take away. If you can't make it to Jaffle King, you might consider purchasing a jaffle iron so you can try to replicate some of your own jaffle magic at home.

Jaffle King & Karvery on Urbanspoon

11 March 2013

Kytons Hot Cross Buns with Menz FruChocs - Adelaide, South Australia

I first fell in love with Kytons Bakery for their fresh, fluffy lamingtons dipped in rich chocolate and coated with plenty of coconut. These lamingtons are so good that they won 1st Prize in the 2008 National Baking Awards in Sydney. Kytons products are mostly sold as fundraisers for community groups and sporting clubs across South Australia and Victoria.You can also find them in most FoodLand and IGA stores as well as a selection of other retailers. We purchased this pack from our local FoodLand for Australia Day and loved every bite.

Kytons Bakery Lamingtons for Australia Day

In addition to their amazing lamingtons, Kytons also sells hot cross buns in the lead up to Easter. This year, they've partnered with Menz to produce the new hot cross buns with FruChocs!

Kytons Hot Cross Buns FruChocs

This might sound like a strange combination to some, but it totally works! First, slice open the bun to reveal the awesome FruChocs inside. FruChocs are a South Australian icon, now sold nationwide. Note that due to pronunciation problems interstate they're called Choc Apricot Balls outside of SA. FruChocs are so awesome they even have their own Appreciation Society.

Fruchocs inside the hot cross bun

I like to slice the hot cross bun in half and spread some butter or margarine inside. Next I recommend lightly toasting them before serving with a cuppa tea.

Kyton's Hot Cross Buns with FruChocs

The chocolate melts, the apricot stays chewy, and the edges get toasted and crunchy. They taste like a mix between fruit-filled and chocolate buns so they're a hybrid hot cross bun that is the perfect celebration of South Australia.

Kytons Hot Cross Buns with FruChocs

I hope everyone buys the new Kytons hot cross buns with FruChocs this year to ensure they keep making them every year. Check the list of Stockists (alphabetical by suburb) to see where you can get yours.