RSPCA’s Cupcake Day

MFF_Header_RSPCAToday is the RSPCA’s annual cupcake day, and so we have a special guest post from Sister E. RSPCA’s Cupcake Day is held in August every year, with Victorians encouraged to host cupcake fundraisers, such as morning teas and bake-offs, and donate the proceeds to the RSPCA. In 2013, Cupcake Day raised more than $1.2 million across Australia, that helped continue RSPCA’s tireless efforts to fight animal cruelty via their Inspectorate, animal shelters, veterinary clinics and educational services. In Victoria, the RSPCA receives less than 3% government funding and so rely heavily on the kindness and generosity of the public to continue their animal welfare work. So have a go at making some cute looking cupcakes and donate to this worthy cause here! – Sarah

MFF_RSPCA_CupcakesIn the spirit of today being the RSPCA’s Cupcake Day I bring to you a new cupcake creation to add to your repertoire – Cookies n Cream Chocolate Cupcakes… Pet Style!

This recipe is super simple and the icing technique is one of the easiest to do, the equation:
Your Favourite Chocolate Cupcake recipe (my one can be found here) + Your Favourite Vanilla Icing + Chocolate Biscuits = Deliciousness

Get creative with whatever you have in the pantry (or whatever pet you own!): plain biscuits for some golden retrievers, gingersnaps for some ginger cats, coconut for little Snowball… Endless possibilities!

It’s not too late to get involved with the fundraising, you can find all the information and where to donate here

12 chocolate cupcakes
1 quantity vanilla icing
200g chocolate biscuits
200g large white chocolate buttons
200g small milk chocolate buttons
black, white and pink writing icing

  1. Bake 12 of your favourite chocolate cupcakes and make 1 quantity of your favourite vanilla icing (alternatively, use packet mix).
  2. Crush half the biscuits into your icing and stir to combine.
  3. Slather on around 1.5tbsp of the icing onto each cupcake, using a knife and roughly smoothing it over the top of the cupcake leaving a small border around the edge.
  4. Crush the remaining biscuits into a bowl
  5. Take each cupcake and dip it icing first into the bowl and lightly press down to stick the crumbs to the icing, you can be pretty rough with this!
  6. Then turn the cupcake onto a slight angle, dip and turn, so to coat the edges of the icing
  7. Once the icing is completely covered you can mold the icing with your hand and extra crumbs if need be, as I said, this technique is almost fool-proof!
  8. Cut the large white buttons into triangles for cat ears or in semi-circles for dog ears. Push into the cupcakes before piping the eyes, whiskers and mouth and adding a small chocolate button for the nose as pictured.

Makes 12

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Punch Lane turns 20

Punch Lane
43 Little Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
(03) 9639 4944

In a time where it’s all about pop ups, rapidly changing food trends and no booking policies, it’s nice to see a Melbourne icon stand the test of time. Last week, Punch Lane in Melbourne’s Paris end celebrated 20 years with a small group of friends, family and media, a significant feat in a city where Gordan Ramsay and Manu Feildel failed to make it stick.


Owner Martin Pirc has clearly worked out what Melbournians want, foregoing the evolving food trends and sticking to quality food and excellent service. Established in 1995, Punch Lane was ahead of it’s time, helping pioneer Melbourne’s renowned ‘laneway dining’ culture: “It happened unknowingly at the time, or maybe it was just by chance or luck… Being young, perhaps naïve and maybe even a little lucky, I settled upon the perfect set of circumstances with a corner block, an old red brick building of a bygone era and licensing laws that allowed you to be more flexible. I think a lot of this, and probably a lot of my career, has been intuitive. It just felt like the right combination of things for me.”


Having undergone a recent renovation, the space remains as it was with dark timber, moody lighting, and rows upon rows of wine bottles that decorate the walls, creating a space that is sophisticated yet relaxed.

The seasonal European menu is short and carefully selected. Enjoy a glass of wine at the bar with a Prawn bonbon with chilli salt & lime ($5.00 each), Sheep’s haloumi with peppered raisins ($8.00) or pancetta wrapped dates with blue cheese ($6.00). Otherwise sit down and relax and choose off the full menu.

Entrees such as crispy quail, golden raisin & caper salad ($21.00), slow cooked salmon with caramelised yoghurt, bois boudran & sorrel ($21.00), or wagyu carpaccio with truffle dressing ($22.50) will whet your appetite before launching into mains like Black Angus scotch fillet ($42.00),  Roast Aylesbury duck breast ($39.00) or Barramundi and clams in “Aqua Pazza” aka crazy water ($38.00). Just ensure you save room for dessert.

But if you really can’t decide, opt for the “five course tour of the Punch Lane menu” for $74.00 a head.


It’s not often a restaurant makes it to 20 years so when it does it speaks for itself. Catering to business lunches, after work drinks, group celebrations or intimate dinners for two, Punch Lane is landmark in Melbourne’s culinary landscape.

Punch Lane on Urbanspoon

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Snag yourself a sailor in the middle of Hawthorn

Hello Sailor
89 Auburn Rd
Hawthorn, VIC 3122
(03) 9813 5560

Former naval medic Wade Nicholson-Doyle always dreamed of going into hospitality. So after spending the last decade at sea he’s finally found his land legs and opened the tiny cafe along Auburn rd called Hello Sailor. Naturally the place has a subtle nautical theme, with wooden planks and photos of sailors adorning the walls, and copper pipe light fittings hanging above the long cement counter than runs the entire length of the cafe. It’s a beautiful space, with gentle tones and timber combining to create a serene atmosphere.

The seasonal menu devised by MKR star Josh Geardand is short and sweet. It reads like a guide to Melbourne’s hottest suppliers: Seven Seeds coffee, Storm in a Teacup teas, Prana Chai, Mork Hot Chocolate, Cannings free range meats, fresh vegetables and fruit from the Yarra Valley, and fresh Victoria Market Juice. The bread is from Noisette and is available for purchase mid week and through the weekend.

The food is simple and tasty. The Salmon bagel with creme fraiche, dill and capers is bang on trend ($17.50), and come served with a side salad of mixed greens and radish. The salad, while a nice addition, comes dressed in a sweet emulsion that would have been better with more tang to cut through the richness of the salmon. But that’s me being picky.


The crepe with mascarpone and berry compote is an elegant rendition of weekend pancakes ($16.50). It’s a nice enough dish, sure to keep many sweet tooths satisfied, but what lets it down is that the berries are obviously frozen. It’s a shame for a menu that’s supposedly seasonal.


Hello Sailor is a warm, welcoming space with staff that are friendly and helpful. While the menu is decent, it lacks the refinement that you see at Melbourne’s top brunch spots, but will otherwise keep the less finicky happy. Even so, you’ll more than likely need to wait for a table during peak times so be sure to get in early. Though the coffee is Seven Seeds, it tends to be on the mild side so be sure to ask for it strong. But if you normally err on the strong side, maybe this isn’t the place for you.

Hello Sailor on Urbanspoon

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My Other Brother is a twin

My Other Brother
586 Burke Rd
Camberwell, VIC 3124
enter at rear
(03) 9804 0155


On the wrong side of Burke Rd facing the carpark home to the Sunday Camberwell Market is My Other Brother. The food is your usual Melbourne brunch fare, with owner Julien Moussi’s mum making the labneh for some of the dishes. The coffee is top notch, available either cold drip, filter, syphon, or V60 pourover as well as your usual offerings using the house blend Moody Sister. Talk about keeping it in the family.

You may recognise the space as the former Carpark Cafe, but it’s had a facelift. With the capacity to fit over 100 patrons, the space is bright and airy, with your typical Melbourne styling: pale timber, white subway tiles, and a large central table for communal dining.

The menu too is typical Melbourne, with plenty of fan favourites like the ‘McBrother’ (a gourmet version of the McMuffin similar to Porgie’s), or smashed avocado with grilled mushrooms on sourdough. But the problem with copying others is that it leaves you open to comparison, and sadly The Annoying Brother incarnation falls just short of the benchmark.


It’s the same story for the corn and haloumi fritters with smoked salmon and avocado: not a bad dish but you can find better. The optional poached egg is perfectly cooked, and the salmon and avocado do their bit, but the fritters are stodgy, leaving a crumbled mess on the plate after a few mouthfuls, while the haloumi is MIA.


With a menu that aims to please everyone, of course there’s bircher museli, but this time it’s with apple and rhubarb, topped with pommegranate and chia seeds. Served fashionably in a jar, the museli sits on a thick layer of rhubarb compote, leaving this dish to straddle the line between breakfast and dessert, which is not necessarily a bad thing.


It seems Camberwell’s cafes are slowly undergoing a hipster transformation to be more like their northside rivals, but all this copying gives me deja vu. My Other Brother is a decent cafe with good atmosphere and coffee with pretty good food, but lacks originality by Melbourne standards. It’s a carbon copy of all the other popular brunch spots around town. Looks like My Other Brother is a twin.

My Other Brother on Urbanspoon

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Cooking with the trend: Korean Bo Ssäm


I always like to push myself when cooking and try new things, so recently when I invited my sisters and their partners over for dinner, I decided to try something completely out of my comfort zone and cook Korean. It’s a bit of a trend here in Melbourne at the moment ever since the opening of hotspot Kong in Richmond, but is otherwise not a cuisine I have much experience with.

I wanted something to share that would involve a bit of DIY, so I cooked the classic dish Bo Ssäm. “Bo” is an abbreviation of bojagi, a traditional cloth, and “ssäm” means to wrap. Slices of slow cooked pork are wrapped with a selection of condiments in cabbage or lettuce leaves. It’s traditionally served during kimchi making season, called kimjang, when wombok or Chinese cabbage is in good supply.

This post was featured as a guest post on et al. blog.

2 kg pork belly
30g ginger, sliced
7-10 cloves of garlic, sliced in half
1 onion, sliced in half
1 long green chilli, halved lengthways
2 tbsp soy sauce

210g coarse salt
3L warm water
1 chinese cabbage, cut into 3cm cubes
10g glutinous rice flour
15g ginger, grated finely
3 tbsp chilli powder
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp fermented prawns*
2 tbsp maesil (green plum extract)*
2 tbsp water
2 garlic gloves, crushed
1 nashi pear, finely grated
5 spring onions, finely sliced

2 tbsp doenjang (Korean soy bean paste)*
2 tbsp gochujang (Korean chilli paste)*
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp honey
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 spring onion, finely sliced

2 tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 clove garlic, crushed
6 spring onions, very finely chopped
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp finely grated ginger

Butter lettuce leaves
12 shucked oysters
Sambal Oelek chilli sauce

  1. Place pork belly in a large pot and cover with warm water. Add ginger, garlic, onion, chilli and soy sauce and bring to a gentle simmer on the stovetop. Leave to simmer for 1.5-2 hours or until tender.
  2. For the kimchi, dissolve the salt in the water. Place cabbage in a non-reactive bowl and pour over brine. Leave for half an hour, turning occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, place rice flour in a small saucepan with 125ml cold water and stir until smooth. Place over a moderate heat and bring to the boil. Remove and allow to cool completely.
  4. Place 2 tbsp rice flour mixture in a large bowl with ginger, chilli powder, fish sauce, fermented prawns, maesil, water and garlic and stir to combine.
  5. Drain cabbage and rinse under cold water. Drain well. Add cabbage to the chilli mixture with the nashi and spring onions and stir to combine. Refrigerate until required.
  6. For the Ssamjang sauce combine all the ingredients together with 2 tbsp of water. Set aside.
  7. For the spring onion and ginger sauce, in a mortar and pestle, grind together the sesame seeds, garlic and 1 tsp salt until fine. Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine and set aside.
  8. To serve, drain pork and slice thinly. Serve warm alongside lettuce leaves, shucked oysters, kimchi,  ssamjang sauce, spring onion and ginger sauce, and sambal oelek.

*Fermented prawns are available from Asian grocers. If you can’t find them, use 1 tbsp shrimp paste. Maesil is available from Korean grocers. If unavailable, use plum sauce. Doenjang and Gochujang are available from Asian grocers.

Serves 8 – 10

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