Masterchef Fever: Apple Tarte Tatin

As any Masterchef fanatic would know, Celebrity Masterchef begins tomorrow at 7.30pm on channel 10! I have my doubts whether it will be as successful as normal Masterchef, but we’ll see how it goes…

To celebrate the return of Masterchef to our television-waves, I have tried and tested the Apple Tarte Tatin from the first pressure test and it turned out to be not so stressful after all hehe. I’ve made this a couple of times since it aired on tv and have made a few changes to the original recipe since at home we don’t usually have a 45 minute time limit imposed on us!

The apples are deliciously soft and caramelised and the pastry has that lovely “crrrunch!” that Matt Preston seems to go on and on about. And of course, anything containing apples and pastry that’s fresh out of the oven tastes even better when paired with vanilla ice cream ;)

Apple Tarte Tatin (Serves 4)
Recipe adapted from the Masterchef website

3 medium sized apples, peeled
10g butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 sheet puff pastry

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Cut apples into quarters then core them so that they have a ‘flat’ side (I think we forgot to do these in the photos but it doesn’t matter too much – it’s just so the pastry sits nicely on top of the apples). Toss apples in 1 tablespoon of the sugar.

2. Melt butter in an oven-proof frying pan over medium-high heat. Add remaining sugar and shake so that it covers the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until sugar dissolves.

3. Arrange apples tightly in the pan with the core side up. Cut up any leftover apple quarters to fill up the gaps if necessary. Sprinkle as much cinnamon as you want on top of the apples. Leave to cook for 5-10 minutes until caramel turns a golden colour.

4. Cut the pastry into a round slightly larger than your frying pan, and don’t forget to prick it with a fork! Cover the apples with the pastry, tucking the edges into the pan. Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden.

5. Rest for 10 minutes, then use your hands to slowly rotate the pastry in the pan. When it moves easily, put your serving plate on top of the pan and in one motion, flip it over. Remove the pan and your tarte tatin should be sitting happily in all its golden caramelised glory =D

Benbry Burgers, Manly

I had fully intended on bringing you guys a post about the Merival Winter Feast we had at Lotus last night, but sadly my photos turned out SHOCKINGLY bad due to the dim lighting – even with Photoshop I can’t fix them up! But I will say that it was a great 3 course meal we had for $39 – all the dishes were balanced with the ingredients pairing so well together it was like they were destined to be eaten like that. Dan Hong (if you ever read this): you are a genius! For more about the Merivale Winter Feast offer at Lotus and some photos of the dishes, visit eatshow&tell, one bite more, and raspberri cupcakes (essentially we ate the same dishes except the mains were slightly different).

Anyway, onto the real post: BenBry burgers is a little hole in the wall in Manly just off the main strip of shops. The first time I went there was no one there but today it was packed with crowds of people waiting outside for their burgers, even at 2.30pm. It seems word has got out about this place! We ordered our burgers and joined the crowds for the long haul. And boy were we starving when we finally got our order after about 30 minutes wait.

Tropical Feast – $9.50

Sir D ordered the Tropical Feast burger in a meal deal that comes with chips and a drink for an extra $2.95. It comes with a beef patty, crispy bacon rashers, cheese, pineapple, lettuc, tomato onion, avocado, Benbry aioli and tomato sauce. The beef patty was a bit dry but the burger as a whole was a pretty good combination. The burgers were so big that they we weren’t even hungry by dinner time.

Fries with Benbry aioli – included with $2.95 meal deal, or $4 alone

The chips were a bit mediocre – I remember them being better and more crunchy the first time we came but it might have been because they were really busy today.

Le Coq – $11.50

I ordered the Le Coq burger (a bit embarrassing to say at the counter…) which has a crumbed chicken breast with garlic butter, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion, Benbry aioli and tomato sauce. I’m glad I ordered this burger because the chicken breast is not dry but moist and tender with a lovely crunchy crumb. It also happens to go really well with the avocado and aioli and despite the size of the burger I have no problems finishing it off.

Royal Copenhagen and chocolate in a waffle cone – $5.90

Later on we head over to Copenhagen for ice cream in a choc-dipped waffle cone. I get the chocolate and Royal Copenhangen (hokey pokey) flavours but the best part of getting ice cream at Copenhagen is putting the toppings on at the end! And so my ice cream gets a very very liberal sprinkling of chocolate sprinkles. Yum!

Crowds at Manly Beach

Benbry Burgers
5 Sydney Road
Manly NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 99776055
Open 7 days, 11am til late
10% surcharge on public holidays

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Sushi Sagunja, Chatswood

Sir D’s new reason for getting out of bed every morning: Aburi scallop sushi from Sushi Sagunja!

This is a sushi train place which opened up recently in the Mandarin Centre foodcourt in Chatswood and they are offering all sushi and sashimi on the train for $2.50 everyday! We couldn’t go past a bargain like that so one lunchtime we stopped by to see what they had on offer.

I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to bargains because surely there must be a catch? I thought maybe the sushi wasn’t going to be very fresh or maybe there would be not much variety but boy was I wrong! The sushi was very fresh and whilst we were there it was great to see that they were continuously making new sushi for the conveyor.

Salmon nigiri

Tuna nigiri

Salmon belly nigiri

On the train they had some of the standard sushi selections like the salmon and tuna nigiri, and your california rolls and salmon avocado rolls. They also had plates of salmon sashimi (3pcs) which were also $2.50. We particularly enjoyed the salmon belly nigiri which was nice and fatty, and the soft shell crab roll also had good crunch factor.

Salmon and avocado roll sprinkled with flying fish roe

Soft shell crab roll

They also had some more non-standard sushi rolls like this normal California roll that’s been jazzed up with some extra raw salmon, a roll with raw salmon, cooked tuna and cucumber topped with cooked prawn, and a salmon avocado roll with torched salmon on top.

A not-so-standard California roll

Salmon, tuna and cucumber roll with prawn
Salmon, salmon and more (torched) salmon!

But later on we found out that we could order our own sushi for still only $2.50 per plate, and that’s when we started stuffing ourselves with aburi sushi. For those of you unfamiliar with aburi sushi, it’s when the raw fish is blowtorched so that it’s partly grilled on top, but still raw underneath. The blowtorching also imparts a lovely smokey flavour to the fish. It’s also served with a sauce which I have tried to track down but I still have no idea what it is. If anyone knows what sauce they use let me know!!

Aburi scallop sushi

Sir D and I got so excited about the aburi sushi that we forgot to take photos except for this one photo of the aburi scallop sushi. Needless to say we have been back (twice!) since this visit for more $2.50 sushi and for once I think Sir D is even more enthusiastic about sushi than I am! Only if it’s aburi scallop sushi though =P

Sushi Sagunja
Level 2, Shop 225 Mandarin Centre
65 Albert Avenue
Chatswood, NSW

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Makan@Alice’s, Thornleigh

Sometimes I get cravings for Malaysian or Singaporean food but I’m feeling lazy to travel out too far. So my go-to place for nearby Malaysian food is Makan@Alice’s which is a mere 10 minute drive from my place. Tonight Sir D and I arrive quite soon after they open for dinner service. Lucky we do get there early as well because half the tables are marked as reserved, and the rest fill up soon after we arrive. We umm and ahh over all the delicious sounding choices they have on the menu, and we eventually order teh tarik, Hainanese chicken and roti canai with curry.

Teh tarik – $4.50

The teh tarik, a pulled Malaysian milk tea, is generously frothy on top and has a distinct tea taste compared to the extra-sweet teh tarik at Mamak. Although my sweet tooth and I prefer the heady condensed milk flavour of Mamak’s teh tarik, Sir D prefers the subtle sweetness of the one at Alice’s.

Roti canai with lamb curry – $11.80

Three pieces of crispy roti canai arrive with a bowl of lamb curry, which is flavoursome but without the overly strong lamb flavour you sometimes get. The lamb pieces in the curry are a bit scarce but they are cooked so that they are very tender.

Hainanese chicken – $17.80

The Hainanese chicken comes with two sauces – a sweet soy-based sauce and a chilli sauce, and also comes with a bowl of chicken rice. We get half a chicken with the order and all the pieces are soft and tender. Even the breast pieces aren’t dry at all. We’re extremely pleased with this dish and although both of us are getting quite full already, we still fight over the last piece =P

Kuih lapis (photo from

I was looking forward to grabbing a box of kuih lapis (a rainbow layered rice flour sweet) but alas they’ve run out for the day! I’m quite disappointed, but it also gives me a reason to plan a return trip in the near future so it’s not so bad after all ;)

262-264 Pennant Hills Road (cnr Bellevue St and Pennant Hills Rd; enter via Bellevue St)
Thornleigh, NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 94848288
Lunch: Tuesday – Sunday, 11.30am-2.30pm
Dinner: Thursday – Sunday, 6pm-9pm

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Cooking with BLT: Chilli Chocolate Brownies

Don’t worry, this post isn’t about some weird chilli chocolate brownie that involves bacon, lettuce and tomato as well! It’s about a planned chillout night at Sir D’s place which quickly turned out to be a boys night + my friend BLT and myself. So what do we do when the boys are playing video games? We bake of course!

Although I love a classic chocolate brownie, sometimes spicing things up with a kick of chilli just makes things a bit more exciting ;). In this case it definitely made things more exciting, since we decided to play a practical baking joke and give some unsuspecting guys a super-mega-chilli hit!

Deadly dousing of chilli…

The brownies were well received by all, even by those who received a slice that had been given the extreme chilli treatment. Funnily enough, most of them thought that there was something wrong with their tastebuds when they tasted the spicyness in the brownie rather than there being something wrong with the brownie itself! BLT and I were beginning to think that we hadn’t doused the brownie with enough chilli powder until one person said, “I need some water…!”

Chilli Chocolate Brownies
This brownie is cake-like in texture, so unfortunately if you’re after something dense and fudge-y then this isn’t it. At the start, it just tastes like a normal chocolate brownie and then as you keep eating the chilli heat kicks in. The chilli is reasonably subtle for the quantities given in the recipe, but it still makes its presence known.

125g dark chocolate
90g unsalted butter, softened
250g (1 cup) caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
80g (2/3 cup) plain flour
30g (1/4 cup) cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon chilli powder (add more if you like it hot!)

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line a square baking tin with baking paper.

Melting the chocolate and butter

2. Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan on medium low heat. When chocolate has fully melted, add sugar and stir until melted. Add eggs and stir until combined.

BLT expertly mixing the dry ingredients in a scientifically proven way!

3. Place flour, cocoa, chilli powder and baking powder into bowl and mix together. Add to chocolate mixture and stir until combined. Pour into baking tin and bake for 30-35 minutes or until firm and comes away from the sides of the tin. Cool in tin.