Sunday, 27 September 2015

The Best Homemade Granola

When I was in the States a few months back, I really enjoyed a big bowl of fruit for breakfast, smothered in plain yoghurt and a good sprinkle of granola. But my search for a similar style of granola here in Australia has not been so successful, as they are either extortionately expensive or laden in sugar.  So there was nothing left to do but make my own.

1.5 cups rolled oats (not the quick cook kind)
1 cup nuts (I use a mix of almonds and cashews, unsalted and raw)
0.5 cut coconut flakes or the coarsely shredded kind
A dash of cinnamon powder
A pinch or two of salt (I use the Murry River Pink salt flakes)
A dash of vanilla (my preference is for a vanilla bean paste)
Oil (I use about 1-2 teaspoons worth)
Maple Syrup (and not maple flavoured syrup) (I use around two tablespoons)

Put all your dry ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.


Swirl over your vanilla, a splash or two of oil, and enough maple syrup to moisten the entire mixture. Give it a good stir so everything is well coated, then spread on an oven tray.

Bake at 150C. Mine takes about 15 minutes, but keep an eye on it as you don't want it to burn. Stir is occasionally while its cooking, especially keeping an eye around the edges as they will cook faster. It will still be soft when you take it from the oven, but will crisp up as it cools.

Enjoy it with fruit and yoghurt, or even a sneaky spoonful on its own.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Black Toro, Glen Waverley

The Black Toro has been one of my favourite restaurants since it opened in Glen Waverley in 2012. Good Mexican food was hard to find in Australia and they do a great take on Hispanic cuisine. My most recent visit was for my birthday and I'd been looking forward to it for weeks.
The restaurant does two sittings, early and late; we usually take an 8.15pm booking so that we don't have to rush, though it does mean a late night. On arrival we were seated near the door, and it quickly became apparent that we were going to freeze every time the door opened. So we requested a move and were reseated with no dramas. Our former table remained unused all night so I'm not sure why we were sat there in the first place (the first of a few let-downs for the night).
Drink menus came out and I went straight for my usual margarita. It's not on the menu but they will happily make anything if they have the ingredients. Their bartender is good.
Then we got the food menu; having dined here before, we turned down the offer to have someone explain the concept of small and large dishes. At this point our water glasses remained empty, and it wasn't until we flagged down a staff member that we finally got some water (and I noticed that all the other tables did too, as no one had water at this point).
We ordered a number of small plates to start. Always the grilled corn, coated in chipotle mayo. 

Then the crispy soft shell crab tacos (top), and the pulled pork tacos (bottom).
The wagyu beef sliders, which were a little "American" in style and very delicious.
And the toro fried chicken. Juicy, crispy, and that sauce has some nice bite!
At this point the waitress offered us dessert and coffee...they don't know me very well! We ordered the Crispy pork belly, which comes with rice and tortillas. Three of us, four tortillas, and six pieces of pork. It wouldn't have hurt for them to provide just two more tortillas. Fortunately my dining companions had eaten oysters earlier so I claimed the extra
I also enjoyed a Mexican cosmo with the main; made with tequila instead of the normal vodka. That's an espresso martini in the background.
Now I had planned to eat dessert, as they do a wicked peanut butter cheesecake (and I had been contemplating the full dessert platter), but after a large morning tea and lunch (and a bottle of champagne before dinner), I just couldn't do it on this occasion.
So to wrap up; the food here is always amazing and the guy behind the bar making cocktails does a great job. But the service was definitely less attentive than I've experience before. Having to repeatedly ask for water refills, being seated near the door on a cold evening, and not even a farewell from the floor manager on the way out (normally someone will escort you to the door and hold it open for you). Won't stop me going back but it did take the shine off a little.
The Black Toro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 7 September 2015


I've been a fan of The Black Toro in Glen Waverley for a long time, so when the team opened Sezar in Melbourne it was immediately on my list of places I had to eat. Just needed to find the perfect excuse, and a night out on the town with my mum was it.
Thanks to the vagaries of public transport we arrived half an hour before our 8.30pm booking, but that was no trouble for the staff, and we were seated immediately. Our lovely waitress introduced herself, provided the menus, and explained how their concept of small, medium and large plates worked.
We ordered cocktails to drink while we perused the menu; the Mrs Maskal for myself (below) and the Sezar Express for my mum.

Then the food.
First came the Hervey Bay Scallops and the Spinach and Feta Boreg off the small plates menu. I'm not normally a seafood fan but these are the best scallops I've eaten. The boreg pastry was so flaky and light that it melted in the mouth.
Then the Spanner Crab Manti; dumpling stuffed with crab with a gorgeous citrus hit.
And then the Pork Belly, accompanied by the Chermoula Zucchini.
Already I was in food heaven. And then we got our large plate: the Spiced Beef Cheek with rice, and a side of Mujadarra (braised lentils and rice) to go with it.
At this point the cocktail was long gone, so we chose to accompany the main with a glass of Coombe Farm Pinot Noir.
And no meal is complete without dessert. My mum chose the baklava, while I selected the Chocolate Marquis. It was absolutely exquisite, and I'm sad to say it defeated me with it's richness.

This restaurant also offers two great banquet options; $55 with baklava for dessert, or $65 with the dessert tasting plate. Next time I'll give this a go, as you really cant go wrong with anything on the menu here.

Sezar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato