Sunday, March 23, 2014

White Chocolate Rocky Road

Rocky Road is one of my go to "easy to impress" recipes. The recipe is impossibly easy to make and, for some inexplicable reason, everyone gets unreasonably excited when they see a plate it!

I made these back when I had first started full time work and decided that I had to come up with a brilliant way of getting my new coworkers to like me the only way I know how -aside from witty banter and actually being able to do the tasks I was given of course! So I whipped up a batch of White Chocolate Rocky Road with my favourite ingredients and brought them in the next day for Valentines Day.

A few of my favourite things: pistachios, almonds, marshmallows, gummy bears, cranberries and desiccated coconut
My favourite thing about this recipe is that you're free to include whatever ingredients take your fancy. There is no proper Rocky Road - just whatever you happen to feel like when you're shopping for ingredients! My personal favourites are pistachios for the crunch, and gummy bears for the chew and beautiful colours.

Melting white chocolate buttons double boiler style
The quantities in this recipe can be altered at your whim depending on how much you need -just make sure you have enough melted chocolate to cover all the good bits. The only hard thing is melting the chocolate to make sure it is smooth without seizing up which shouldn't happen if you're using the double boiler method. 

So if you need to whip up something everyone is sure to like, try making your own Rocky Road filled with your favourite ingredients!
This recipe is for Sweet New Zealand #32, a blogging event open to all Kiwi bloggers (including those overseas) which is being hosted by Frances at Bake Club.

White Chocolate Rocky Road


375g white chocolate buttons (or a big block, roughly chopped)
1/2 cup pistachios
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup gummy bears
1 cup marshmallows
1/3 cup desiccated coconut


1. Line the sides of a 27cm x 17cm rectangular baking pan with baking paper. Allow enough to hang over the sides.
2. Place the white chocolate buttons in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water to create a double boiler and let it melt. Stir occasionally to help it along. You can also do this in the microwave if you wish, but stir frequently so it doesn't burn.
3. Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, set aside for a few minutes.
4. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix well.
5. Pour the white chocolate over the top and work quickly to make sure everything is coated.
6. Spread the mixture evenly into the baking pan and refrigerate until it is set (I usually leave it overnight).
7. Lift the Rocky Road out of the pan and cut into squares on a chopping board. Use a good knife because white chocolate is a lot harder to cut!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bangkok, Thailand

It occurred to me, while we were planning our honeymoon, that Jason and I were the last people out of our group of friends to visit Thailand. It was somewhere I had always wanted to visit, but my better half ruled it out due to a fear of being mugged -although, he adds, he's worried about being mugged anywhere! He soon changed his mind after his little sister visited and returned unscathed. The colourful pictures and  exciting stories were too much to resist and we just had to experience it for ourselves!

Inside the grounds of the Grand Palace
We headed over to Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) on our first full day. A respectable standard of dress is required to enter the grounds which seems to catch many visitors off guard. Shoulders, knees and feet must be covered and clothing can be hired. Don't panic if you're worried about sharing clothes though, there are plenty of shop keepers nearby all too willing to sell you a pair of fishermen pants -then you end up with a very comfortable pair of pants to keep (or in my case, two or three!).

Decorations on the main building
The entrance fee was 500 baht each ($20 NZD) to see the Emerald Buddha as well as the Grand Palace and a few little museums scattered throughout the 234 acre grounds. We were only two among what must have been hundreds of other tourists that day but, because the grounds were so big, we could walk around a decent amount of time without bumping into anyone. With over 100 buildings withing the grounds, it was hard not to be overwhelmed.

Inside the grounds of the Grand Palace
The first thing we noticed upon walking through the gates were the bright colours. The second was how well preserved each and every building was - I didn't think buildings from the 18th century could look so new! Beneath the midday sun, all the buildings looked so vibrant and stood out against the blue sky. Every roof had tidy rows of orange and green tiles which reflected the sunlight and all the pillars were decorated with tiny mosaics. It was very difficult to decide where to look!

In the centre of the complex is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha where visitors are required to enter barefoot. It is noticeably quieter inside the temple and we take our time admiring the high ceilings and murals on the wall while those around us pray. 

Lunch at the Tha Chang Amulet Market
We have lunch near Tha Chang Amulet Market where Jason bought his pants. It takes us a while to settle on a stall and and even longer to decide on what to eat because everything looked and smelled so good! We finally settled on a light meal of fried pork strips on rice to share as the midday heat left us more thirsty than hungry. We also ordered a Chang beer, watermelon juice and a milk tea. I was quite surprised that it was orange and more so when I saw the quantity of condensed milk that went into it! All of this cost us less than 120 baht ($4.80 NZD).

The Reclining Buddha
A short walk from the Grand Palace is the famous Reclining Buddha, one of the must-see attractions we were told. Entrance is 100 baht ($4 NZD). Located in Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), the 46 metre long Buddha is a breathtaking sight. Even though he is  laying on his side, you still have to tilt your head right up to see Buddha's face. I realise my mouth is wide open and I quickly close it. 

The buildings at Wat Pho are just as colourful and well kept as those at the Grand Palace and we have a wander around before being overcome by the intense heat. We stumble into a very nice air conditioned room which turns out to be the leading school of massage in Thailand -the lines are long though, so we don't stay too long.

Ratchaparop Road, Makkasan
The street outside our hotel is super busy. The road is full of every sort of vehicle and, if it weren't for the bridges that span over it, I don't think I would ever make it across the street. The footpath is equally busy with shops on one side and covered stalls set up on the road side. It was very nice to keep out of the sun, and there was always something interesting to look at when we were on our way to the next destination. I enjoyed comparing the prices at each stall and haggling with the good natured owners.

Pak Klong Talat - Fresh Flower Market
The Fresh Flower Market (Pak Khlong Talat) is a beautiful sight with colourful bouquets as far as the eye can see. Stalls line both sides of the footpath and are mostly caters for wholesalers rather than individuals. The market is open 24/7 and it's hard for me to imagine anyone needing such a great quantity of flowers! Many end up being offerings for Buddha so we were discouraged to touch or even smell them but no one minded if you took pictures. 

Lunch in some random alleyway in Chinatown
We made our way to Chinatown (aka Yaowarat) for lunch and settled for a nice, dingy alleyway lined with equally dingy eateries. We were a bit apprehensive at first but figured that, since all the tables were occupied, the food must be safe! For 100 baht ($4 NZD) we were given a plate of rice and were able to fill up the rest with a whole buffet of different dishes such as fried whole egg, spicy chicken, green curry and deep fried pork nuggets which were extremely popular.

Chinatown: getting lost in Sampeng Lane and Talat Mai
We spent the rest of the day browsing the many covered streets of Chinatown, walking into every shop that takes our fancy and eventually getting lost. I swear we ended up at the same intersection at least three times! 

Our first stop was Sampeng Lane which is a very long street between tall buildings that just happens to be a great place for a wholesale market to exist. Everything was certainly a lot cheaper here but only if you bought in bulk -not many shop owners were willing to entertain my haggling skills when I only wanted to by single units! It was very easy to get lost among the crowd and we had to stop frequently for beggars/tourists/randoms perched in the narrow walkways.

Interesting foods at Talat Mai
Just a few streets down, Talat Mai is a 200 metre long streets known to be the center of Chinatown's shopping. It really reminded me of going back home to China! Dried mushrooms, seafood, preserved veggies and tea were at every second stall and Chinese music was even playing in the distance. The market seemed to be organised into different sections and after wandering through the food section, we found ourselves lost in the bags and shoes section for ages. Like the wholesale market, the owners here didn't take to bargaining all that well and didn't seem to care whether or not you wanted to buy anything. We got a few goodies though, like a great wok turner.

Dinner came from a little woman and her mobile stall that was right beneath our hotel. For just 40 baht ($1.60 NZD), we received a piping hot bowl of rice noodle soup with fish balls which was just the right amount of filling. The soup had very clean flavours and it wasn't hard to see why her part of the alleyway was so popular! It was a little strange having motorbikes whizz by while eating, but it was so exciting eating on the street with the locals rather than fancy restaurants.

So that was our couple of days in Bangkok (in case you were wondering why we had two lunches). 

Would you prefer eating at a street stall or having a proper fancy meal at a restaurant?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Zomato Giveaway Winner

Hey guys, I'm back! 

Just sorting through some holiday photos to share with you all soon. As for now, I bet you're wondering who won the Zomato giveaway!

After my post about the new restaurant review website Zomato, I hope that some of you have given it a go. 

Congratulations to So'o who has won the giveaway for a $25 Urban Turban voucher by following the instructions and being lucky enough to have his name drawn out of a green hat! The lovely people at Zomato will be in touch with your voucher and everyone who entered will also receive a thank you email.