Oh do you know the muffin man?? 

Do you ever have a craving for something relatively specific and you just can’t find it anywhere? I have been craving a muffin for two weeks now. Not just any muffin, I wanted a chocolate chunk, wholemeal muffin. Now I realise that’s rather specific so I would’ve settled for a Choc chip one. I first discovered this delicious type of muffin at my local bakery where they sold absolutely giant, golden brown muffins with a crispy top and mammoth chocolate chunks scattered through out a moist a nutty centre. They called it ‘high fiber’ which I liked because it sounds super healthy but it really really wasn’t. 

Unfortunately they stop selling it late last year and I haven’t been able to find a suitable replacement. On Wednesday, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was suffering from major Hump Dayitis and needed a sugar hit. I went for a meander through all my local cafes, hunting the elusive muffin and I couldn’t find one anywhere. I found mixed berry, carrot and walnuts, orange and poppyseed and just plain old chocolate. I think the Choc chip muffin maybe dead. 


I was so sad. I thought I may never have my wonderful muffin again. Then I realised that the only way I was going to get one, was to make one. 


So began my search for the perfect recipe and I found that even most cookbooks don’t have recipes for choc chip muffins. Berry muffins, yes. Choc chip cookies, yes. Choc chip muffins no. Sad face. I didn’t want to just amend and existing recipe as I knew that the proportion of liquid ingredients to dry ingredients was important and I wasn’t confident enough to make it up. 

I finally found what I was looking for on a food blog for ‘healthy mums’, I’m not sure what this says about me…. I amended it a bit in terms of the type of chocolate used and the baking time but in the end, it resulted in a wholemeal chocolate chunk muffin. Maybe not quite as yummy and decedent as the bakery one I loved and lost but a tasty and relatively healthy morsel that hit the spot. 

Recipe below adapted from healthy mummy.com. 

Long live the choc chip muffin!!!

Ingredients 

* cooking oil spray

* 2 cups wholemeal self raising flour 240 grams

* 1/2 cup milk chocolate cut into chunks 100 grams

* 2 free-range eggs 100 grams

* 1 cup reduced-fat milk of choice 250 mls

* 1/4 cup olive oil 62.5 mls

* 1/4 cup honey 62.5 mls

* 1 tsp vanilla extract 5 mls

Instructions 

1. Preheat oven to 180C and lightly spray 12 holes of a muffin tin tray with cooking oil spray or line with muffin cases.

2. Sift flour into a large mixing bowl and combine with the chocolate bits.

3. Whisk eggs and combine with milk, olive oil, honey and vanilla.

4. Make a well in the flour mix and add all the liquids, stir to combine well.

6. Divide batter between each muffin tin hole and bake for 10-12 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the centre.

7. Store leftovers in an airtight container for 2-3 days or freeze to defrost as needed.

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House of Crabs, Redfern

I don’t like to eat messy food in public. It is very hard to maintain your dignity and your charm when you are elbow deep in sauce and have organic matter hanging from your teeth. There is also the small matter for needing an industrial strength bath straight after. No matter how much I’d like to think that I’m a lady, there is no escaping the fact that I am a messy eater.

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Seafood Toastie for starters

As with everything in life, there are exceptions to this rule. House of Crabs was my exception.

Taking over the first floor of the Norfolk Hotel, I have wanted to visit this mystical place ever since I’d heard that it opened. Not a den of sexually transmitted disease as its name may suggest, House of Crabs is actually a purveyor of some of the best quality shellfish in Sydney (and very recently, Melbourne too). My main delay in booking a table was that none of my friends will eat crustaceans, either for religious reasons or from personal preference so finding a partner in crime was difficult. The perfect opportunity arose when it came to celebrating a family member’s birthday and a seafood restaurant was required.

We booked in for a Tuesday night at 7pm and though I had worried about the noise level (having heard that it could get rowdy) the place was deserted. This actually suited us just fine as certain family members hate noise and the Caribbean style decor and retro American punk rock music provided enough of an atmosphere. I particularly loved the Forrest Gump quotes.

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The disappointing fish dish

Despite this being a special occasion, I know myself so I dressed for the venue rather than the event. I wore my gym clothes. I sweat in these things so I thought what harm would a little tomato sauce and prawn juice do to them? For those of you who have never heard of House of Crabs, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself “is this girl a wild animal? Why can’t she keep her food on her plate?” Well let me explain, there is no plate.

Although there are other dishes on the menu like pork ribs and buttermilk fried chicken, the main event is the seafood – a choice of six different types from mussels to prawns to king crab, sold in 500g quantities and served in a plastic bag after being boiled with your choice of sauce. The idea is that you empty your bag of protein goodness out onto the plastic table cloth, don a pair of gloves and the apron suppled and hoe on in.

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The bag of deliciousness

And hoe we did and let me tell you, it was delicious!!! My choice was the QLD prawns in the Spicy Malay sauce and it was just glorious. I ripped off their heads, sucked out the delicious meat, pulled off their little armour, devoured their succulent bodies and then finished off by licking the remains to get that rich tomato and oniony sauce. Are you disgusted? I’m sorry but it was so so worth it.

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Crab in a bag

One of my other family members also picked the prawns and was equally satisfied. The birthday boy got the snow crab in garlic butter and enjoyed himself immensely! He couldn’t stop exclaiming how large the legs were and how much meat was inside them. The only person who was disappointed got one of the main dishes – a crumbed and fried fish dish that turned out to be a rather flat and dry schnitzel style of dish. It was a strategic error made in the attempt to keep clean and one which was bitterly regretted.

By the end of the night I was covered! We didn’t linger at the end of the meal. After quick exclamations of ‘Happy Birthday’ we made for our car and spirited on home in search of a shower and a tooth pick. A great night worth getting messy for!

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The state of the table

Xage Vietnamese Restaurant, Surry Hills

There’s nothing better than a girly catch up over a healthy meal, and Xage on Crown street provides the perfect setting. When a girlfriend suggested Xage for a mid-week dinner, I was excited. I’d heard such good things about this Vietnamese restaurant, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Sister restaurants with Madam Nhu, located just down the hill on Campbell street, are both very popular, and bookings are recommended. Packed to the brim and buzzing on a random Tuesday night, we joined our fellow diners for a 7.30pm dinner.

a healthy and delicious feast

If you want privacy and a quiet conversation, this place is not for you. With seating arranged sardine style along long wooden benches and members of the same party situated across from one another; it is as easy to participate in someone else’s conversation as your own.

Don’t bring your grandmother here. She won’t like the stool seating or the mood lighting, but if you’re young and you’re fun, you’ll fit right in.

Unlimited green tea

Beginning with a pot of green tea which is charged per person ($2.50 each), not per pot (yay for endless refills), we mulled over the menu. We decided to order just one main each, but if you’d like to sample more of the menu; ordering several entrees and a couple of items from the rice paper roll section of the menu is the way to go. On this, remember to share these tasty morsels with your friends. Some of the options we saw served to the people around us included the salad of mixed pickles ($6); the Red chicken nem nướng skewers ($8.90), and the Tofu rice paper rolls ($11.50), identifiable from the signature hot green chilli sauce that accompanied it.

Grilled chicken, cashew nut, herbs salad in lemongrass dressing.

We decided on the Grilled chicken, cashew nut, herbs salad in lemongrass dressing ($17.90), and the Black tiger prawn stir fry with okra and lemongrass chilli sauce ($19.50). Other tempting options included the Slow-cooked beef curry bò kho with lotus root ($19.50), Grilled Tasmanian ocean trout chả cá in herbs and spices ($22.90), or the Hội An papaya salad of five-spice duck fillet with basil, peanut and chilli ($20.90). The dishes, although not cheap, are substantial enough to justify the cost.

Black tiger prawn stir fry with okra and lemongrass chilli sauce.

At the end of the night, once we’ve had our fill of great food and conversations, there were plenty of gelato places nearby to indulge in some not so healthy dessert.

Rating: 8/10

Where: 333 Crown Street Surry Hills NSW.
Why: Tasty and healthy food.
Cost: Mains from $13.90 – $22.90
When: 7 days, 6-10pm.

Good for kids: No
Take away: Yes, phone to order.