Friday, 8 May 2015

The kitchen is the heart of the home - part 1



A kitchen renovation is something I'd wanted to do from the moment I bought my house. I wasn't fussed by the electric stove, the yellow laminate benchtop, the old cabinets or even the brown tiles. It was the missing dishwash that had me crinkle my nose and tilt my head. Despite my unhappiness with my kitchen, it took me almost six years before I was finally able to renovate my kitchen. This was large due to a lack of finances and an avoidance of personal loans.

Having undertaken a bathroom renovation four months earlier, I was feeling a little jaded at the thought of starting another reno but with my living room still in boxes, I figured there was no time like the present to get cracking. 





Not owning a tape measure and being very unsure of my ability to correctly measure the space even with a tape measure, I decided to get the help of an Ikea Home Planner. For $99, a designer comes to your house for 2-3 hours and plans a kitchen with you. If you proceed with purchasing your Ikea kitchen, the fee is refunded. 

I knew I wanted to go with flat pack cabinets and both my parents and my cousin had Ikea kitchens so the Home Planning service was a great solution for me. Other things on my list included polished concrete floors, granite benches and a tiled splashback but we'll get to that later. 

I got the handyman who did some work on my bathroom to gut my kitchen. He started bright and early and with the help of his assistant (his son), was done by about 2pm. 


In the week that followed, I had the plumber and electrician come to do the 'rough work' for the dishwasher and induction stove top. This wasn't without dramas. Despite telling them that the Monday was a public holiday, both booked me in on the Monday. The electrician didn't show up and only when I called them was I told that they realised it was a public holiday and had moved my job to the following day. The plumber did turn up but without the right parts and when he went to the shop, realised that it was closed. 

On the Monday of the third week, I had a kitchen flatpack installer come over. Wanting to save some money, I had decided to get someone from Gumtree rather than go through the Ikea . This was a mistake. There are some great tradies on Gumtree, but the guy I picked was not one. 


The major mistakes he made were not realised until later but the main issue was that he spent most of the morning on the phone, half finished the job and left just after lunch, then wanted additional money to come back and finish it later in the week. The major mistake I made (and knew I was making at the time but was trusting that he would do the right thing) was being bullied into paying a 50% deposit or he wouldn't pickup tools and start the job. 

This is how my kitchen looked when he left. 



I ended up finding the most wonderful installer and cabinet maker who finished the job for a great price, fixed all of the problems the first installer did and also put a custom little shelf into a space that was going to be covered with a plinth. 



The next day, the granite benchtop company came over to do templating and this is how my kitchen stayed for three weeks until the benches were ready to be installed. 

To be continued.... 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Shilla bulgogi 불고기 recipe

In my last blog post, I wrote about a Korean cooking class I attended where we made Korean pancakes. Before we made pancakes, we marinated some bulgogi beef which we got to take home.  

I've previously shared another bulgogi recipe which was a mashup of a few recipes I found on the internet. While this recipe is a little more time consuming and requires more ingredients, I definitely think it's worth the effort!   

For those who are new to Korean food, bulgogi is finely sliced marinated beef that is cooked on a barbecued or panfried. You can eat it with rice, wrapped in lettuce (or other leafy greens), or even put it in a burger or taco for a bit of a fusion feel. 

Ingredients
  • 500g thinly sliced semi-thawed beef (1-2ml thick) (chuck or topside) 
  • 65ml soy sauce 
  • 65ml vegetable oil 
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil 
  • 50g sugar (white or caster) 
  • 1 teaspoon pepper 
  • 4 tablespoons grated garlic 
  • 2 tablespoons grated apple 
  • 2 tablespoons grated pear (Korean pears preferred but any juicy pear will do)
  • 1 tablespoon grated kiwi fruit 






Method - Marinate 

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. 




2. Delicately coat each slice of beef in the sauce. Be careful not to rip the thin sheets of meat. Using semi-thawed meat is recommended.




3. Cover in clingwrap and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.


Method - cook 
Bulgogi can be cooked on a bbq plate, or panfried on a medium - high heat.
As the meat is thin, it does not take long to cook.

Serve with rice, or wrap in lettuce or other leafy greens.
Of course, no Korean meal is complete without kimchi.



Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Korean pancake (jeon) recipe

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a Korean cooking class with four other Korean adoptees at Shilla Korean Restaurant in East Perth.  The event was co-organised by myself and another adoptee Leanne, for the Korean Adoptees in Australia Network (KAiAN). Funding for the event was provided from a grant KAiAN were awarded last year by the Australia Korea Foundation to establish the network. As part of the grant proposal, each major city (with a known group of Korean adoptees) were allocated a small sum of money to organise an event for adult adoptees in their city. Melbourne had a makeup class, Canberra went to a Korean film festival and us Perth kids cooked and ate. 

Our host James and the staff at Shilla were amazing! It was the first time they'd ever done an event like this but you wouldn't have known it. There were three parts to the afternoon. An introduction and overview of Korean food, a 'cook your own' and then 'eat your own' section. In the 'cook your own' part, we marinated bulgogi beef which we were able to take home and made seafood and kimchi jeons (pancakes) which we ate, along with some Korean fried chicken (the REAL KFC), japchae noodles and bulgogi beef in the 'eat your own' portion. 

A jeon is a Korean pancake like dish. They can be made to either savoury or sweet, and are often served as banchan (side dishes). We made two different kinds of jeon, seafood and kimchi. I've discovered there are dozens of different types that you can make using meats, vegetables and edible flowers. According to my friend Google, Kimchijeon (kimchi pancake) and pajeon (spring onion pancake) are two of the more popular varieties that you'll find in Korean restaurants. 

Ingredients 

Batter 
  • 100g flour 
  • 230ml water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 2/3 teaspoon pepper 
  • 1 egg 
Seafood 
  • 4-5 spring onion stalks
  • Seafood (prawns, scallops, squid) 
  • 2 eggs 
  • Vegetable oil
Kimchi 
  • Diced kimchi (about two handfuls) 
  • Diced onion (about 1/2 an onion) 
  • 20g flour (as needed) 
  • Vegetable oil



Method 

Seafood pancake 

  1. Combine the batter ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. The batter is quite watery for the seafood pancake. 
  2. Heat the pan to a medium heat, adding a splash of vegetable oil. 
  3. Pour 2/3 of the batter into the pan. 
  4. Place the spring onions and seafood across the pancake. 
  5. Whisk the eggs and pour over the top of the pancake.




6. When the edges brown, flip the pancake and cook for a few minutes until browned. 






7. Plate and serve warm.






Kimchi pancake 

  1. With the remaining 1/3 of the batter, add about 20g flour so the batter thickens. The consistency is similar to pancake batter. 
  2. Add the chopped onion and kimchee and gently fold. 
  3. Heat the frypan on a medium heat with vegetable oil and pour the batter into the pan. 
  4. When the edges brown, flip the jeon and cook for a few minutes until browned. 
  5. Plate and serve warm. 





Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Standard, Northbridge

There's nothing standard about The Standard! Their exceptional hosts and servers, great menu and retro industrial fitout has me singing their praises to anyone who will listen (including The Standard paper who I accidentally tweeted).
 
Fava chips ($9)
My friend Claire and I met at The Standard on a Friday for an after work drink and nibble. While chatting about family, friends,  travel and work, we munched on fava chips ($9) and sipped Prosecco from coupe glasses (how chic!). The fava chips came with two dipping sauces, a creamy aioli and a vinegary mushroom ketchup.

The Standard on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Viet Hoa, Northbridge

BBQ pork wonton egg noodle soup ($12.50)
After battling the school holiday crowds at Ikea earlier this week, my Mum and I called into our perennial favourite, Viet Hoa in Northbridge. As always, I ordered number 18 from the noodle and soups list. BBQ pork wonton egg noodle soup ($12.50), with rice noodles instead of egg noodles.

While I have ordered other things from the menu, if it's a big bowl of steaming hot noodle soup I'm after, number 18 will always be my 'go to'.


Viet Hoa Northbridge on Urbanspoon

Monday, 30 March 2015

The Royal, East Perth

Going to The Royal in East Perth is like leaving the actual world and entering "Barbie's dream land". Located on the waterfront on Royal St, The Royal overlooks a row of perfect dollhouse looking townhouses. 


I met my friend Pen at The Royal for a quick mid-week after work drink recently. It was a beautiful autumn evening and the bar area was packed. We weren't able to find a table, so decided to head to the restaurant side for dinner and drinks instead. 

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Home improvements: bathroom

Late last year,  my 1970s bathroom was renovated from top to bottom.  The entire bathroom was gutted and brand new everything was put in.