Friday, December 30, 2005

Melbourne, Australia part ii

I'm not much of a breakfast person really, but in Australia, there're many reasons to get up early and head on out for a hearty breakfast. One good reason being, getting up early gives you the whole of mid morning to walk off that breakfast, in search of lunch.
Sausages, Mushrooms, Bacon and Eggs on Toast
Poached Eggs on English Muffins with Mushrooms, served with Hollandaise Sauce
Double Stacked Fluffy Pancakes with a mixed Berry Compote, served with Double Cream
We had breakfast at this place just outside of the South Melbourne Market.
There are several cafe's in and around the area for good eating.

The last time I went there, we had breakfast at this little cafe that serves organic food.
The pancakes were deliciously. Maybe it's true that organic food taste better. Maybe.
Organic Pancakes with Burnt Orange and Blueberry sauce topped with Mascarpone cheese

Poached Eggs on Toast with Mushrooms and Chorizo Sausage.

We stayed home for lunch that day because my sister had to hurry on home and get ready for her graduation. And that is the story of how I cooked my first chinese stir fry.
My mom really should have more faith in me. She asked if I had added any water and some cornflour to thicken the sauce when I finished cooking it. yeesh.
I guess I passed the test when no one complained. Or maybe my parents were really hungry, and were hankering for anything chinese.

Chinese Stir-Fried Beef

Graduation Night!
Good Job Lynn!

Graduation Night

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Hazelnut Crunch Chocolate Cake

I'm beginning to enjoy making cakes alot these days. It's something that I've always wanted to go into, but never did found the time or reason to.
A whole slew of birthday's this december gave me good reason to begin working on cake decorating techniques.
It's alot different from your bake-in-a-pan goodies like brownies and crumbles.
There's the fragile layers of sponge cake to deal with, making sure the cuts are satisfactory, filling the cake evenly, and glazing or covering it properly.

Here's what I've learnt so far:
Off-set spatulas are the second best tools (The first are your hands).
Go for longs ones. They help with lifting fragile layers of cake. I've learnt never to lift the layers with your hands. Gravity makes short work of the thin rounds, and the sides break off when you attempt to lift them up.
Off-set spatulas make short work of glazing a cake too.

Cutting even layers of cake gets easier with practise. Or you could use a nifty cake layer cutting thing. It's a frame that's 10 inches wide, with a metal wire across it that is height adjustable.

The freezer is your best friend. It makes glazes set quickly, so that you can transfer the cake to a cake board.

Overfilling a cake causes the filling to erupt around the sides, breaking through the glaze. A bumpy bus ride dosen't help also.

Now, I just need to work on covering the sides properly. Especially with whipped cream.

I give you, the Hazlelnut Crunch Chocolate Cake.

Hazelnut Crunch Chocolate Cake

Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The feast of two kings and a queen that was inspired.

The planned Christmas Dinner went well.
It never would have been possible without Jeremy's help, my "other half" in my culinary dreams, and our passion for good food.
The plan was simple. He makes the appetizers and main courses, I make the dessert.

You'd think that after preparing a meal of a Rocket Salad with Mushrooms, Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese and grated Parmesan Cheese, Bruschetta, Roast leg of Lamb with Thyme and Garlic, Roast Beef that has been massaged with Dijon Mustard, wonderfully moist Mashed Potatoes, a Strawberry Soup with Orange and Rosemary Sorbet and Tiramisu, you'd be tired, and full.

Well yea, we were all full, but why waste the leftover tiramisu (All four slices)?
There's something about digging into food that's left in its pan, and just talking.
Good times guranteed.

It's late into the night, we're hungry again, and that's when the feast begins.
Left over eggwhites from the tiramisu were fried with mushrooms, and I got the bright idea of frying camembert cheese. My sister says it's wondeful, when dipped in batter and fried, but I thought I'd just coat it with seasoned flour. I thought I had fully understood frying, after all those months of working the frialator at work. But double coating camembert cheese for frying, is not good. I can't wait to try it battered. Or breaded.

The overflow of feasting carried onto the next night. My wonderful friend Teri, took Jeremy and I, for good old "Zhi Char" food in Chinatown. We had Chee Cheong Faan, Minced Pork and Liver Porridge, Stir Fried Baby Calamari with ginger, Slice Fish Noodles, Fried Prawn Paste Chicken,
Fried Kai Lan vegetable with garlic (and MSG, ack).
Oh, and it dosen't end there.
After dropping Jeremy off at the army camp, we decided on going to Liquid Kitchen, this snazzy watering hole along Upp. Thomson Road for a Chocolate Fondue. It had your usual Marshmellows, Strawberries, kiwis, and grapes, which I thought was rather odd, but it worked.

It also dosen't end here.
The next day for dinner, we headed to the American Club where we shared a large Nacho Machos ( Tortilla Chips with jalapenos, tomatoes and green peppers, mozzarella cheese, and salsa and sourcream on the side), and a Bacon Cheese Burger with fries on the side. I'm talking about a real burger. Not marinated pieces of cardboard, microwaved, dressed up with garnishes and disguised as a burger.
All this washed down with a chocolate milkshake.

I thought it'd end there, and we'd wrap up the night with a movie. It's a shame it didn't work out, but we had gelatos. There's this gelato joint called Gelatissimo, and I had a hunch it was Australian owned. And it is.
The service was excellant. I believe the staff were trained, or rather, they were actually interested to serve you. It was a good experience, albeit a short one. Ordering and receiving the Lemon and PassionFruit Gelato was a breeze. Good on them for good service. It's so hard to get good service these days.

Too bad I didn't get time to take pictures, but I had a blast this past few days.

Maybe the feast that started with left over tiramisus' and eggwhites will continue over the next few weeks.
I keep telling the two: "We'll stop in February, when Teri goes back to Perth."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Melbourne, Australia

I thought I'd actually have more time in Melboourne, but it turns out, I've been sleeping in Singapore time, and waking up in Australian time. That means I managed an average 6 hours of sleep each time. So much for wanting to post on the Ipoh trip while I'm in Melbourne.
It'll come, soon.
Really.

So I've been eating, alot, this past week, and I have to say, sandwiches are just about one of my favourites. It's essentially a meal on it's own. A whole meal, between two slices of bread. What you can have in between is only limited by your own imagination, and you can take it wherever you want. Neat, hey?
I had one with Alfalfa, lettuce, tomatoes, turkey and sour cream in Melbourne.What a lovely odd combination, eh?

Oysters Kilpatrick

Mussels cooked in White wine

Double Chocolate Tart

Pavlova with Burnt Orange & Passion fruit sauce

This was some of the food we had at the Waterfront - Seafood Grill, Sushi & Oyster Bar. It's a nice little place on the banks of the Yarra River, within the Crown Casino Entertainment Complex. It's a really popular place, and there's always a queue. One thing I suppose they could improve on, is to at least, not let the pre-cooked food be seen. Well, it wasn't exactly in full view of the general public, but I was looking into the kitchen, and there were stacks of fish fillets, whole fishes, etc. They could have shattered one's world, who once taught that everything was cooked to order. Well, not everything is pre-cooked, and not every restaurant pre-cooks their food. It depends on the owner/s or chef's. I am, pretty dissapointed that Waterfront pre-cooks their fish. I don't mind waiting 20 mins or so for a baked whole flounder.
Oh well.
Anyways, It's pretty pricey, as with all fancy schmancy restaurants who provide good service and are located on prime locations.

A funny story about the Pavlova. I was scooping out the meaty bits of the passion fruit, and I began trying to seperate flesh and seed, spitting them out. Lynn, my wonderful sister gave me a funny look, and said that you can eat the seeds.
It was my first time having passion fruit. Oh well.

Consider this part 1 of 2, or more if I'm lazy.

Christmas is round the corner, and there's so much to prepare.
There's the cookies, caroling practise and the gospel for caroling on saturday, Birthday Cup Cakes for a friend (Yes you! Clayton!) on friday, possibly some Christamas Bars on Christmas morning, and the to be, awesome dinner, Christmas Night.

Have yourself a merry little Chirstmas, and be glad, cause Christ the Saviour is born.
Hope, is at hand, because God, is with us.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Saint Kilda / Fitzroy Street

I was walking down the all too familiar wooden plank, that takes me to Fitzroy Sreet and it feels like I'm just leaving home to get dinner.

I've been in and about the St Kilda area a couple of times from my previous visits. It's a nice little community, packed with bars/bistros//lounges and restaurants.
Just next to the Metropol Apartments are a couple of bars, and restaurants.
Fitzroy Street, just round the corner, will leave you dawdling up and down the street.
There are many places to choose from.

And if you can't decide, there's always more at Acland Street, a ten minute walk away or a 5 min tram ride.

Meat Lover's Pizza
I decided on a meat lover's pizza at Topolinos, to go.
It's an Italian joint that serves, well, typical Italian food. Pastas, Risottos, Lasagnas... you get the idea, hey? It does have a very large selection of Pizzas though. Twenty-nine varieties to be exact. Undoubtedly, there's also your surf and turf, which in my opinion, is very Australian.

The best place to have Italian food- as any self respecting Italian will tell you, I believe-, is at Lygon Street. Otherwise known as Little Italy. I've walked by once during my last visit, and charming Italian men, both young and old, greet you from their trattorias. It's a nice area, but a tad bit to expensive for those who have their purses strings tighten.

Oh well, tomorrow is a new day, and we'll see what it brings.
I'm torn between Hot Chocolate at Cocoa's or Bratwurst with sauerkraut at Queen Victoria Market.
In anycase, I get to drive tomorrow.
Hooray!

Aussie Aussie Oi! Oi!

So there's 20 minutes left before I board a plane to Melbourne, and there's a wireless network available, what do I do?
Rant.
I am so blessed to be enjoying all of this right now.
Here I am with high fliers, in the First Class Lounge of Singapore Airlines, enjoying a nice breakfast (they have a food station, serving wonton noodles! A la Min, to boot!) ending it off with Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie (hey, so what if it's only 8:50am right now, it's night time somewhere else in the world), and typing this entry on a Powerbook. And for a week long, I'm sure I'll be off in search of great food, and hitting several establishments that I've planned to check out. There's opportunity for me to drive, and there's all of God's glory in nature to take in while I'm there.
How sweet is that?

The question is, does this make a person truly satisfied?

No.
There, I said it. It's relative I guess, happiness that is.
I'm sure there's someone who wants to be in my moccasins right now.

It's interesting to note that from a survey, Nigeria was voted the Happiest Nation on Earth.

I'd reckon that the Kingdom of God will be the happiest place. Ever.

Revelation 21:4
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Heaven will be a perfect place.

Anyhow, I have to leave now.

Ps: The Ipoh post is coming soon. Really. I'll have more time In Aussie.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake

It's a wonder how something so simple and basic can turn out into such decadence.
This chocolate cake is just a creamed butter and sugar type of cake, with eggs beaten in one at a time,
chocolate stirred in until just incorporated, and flour gently folded in.

With such basic ingredients that can be found in any well stocked pantry, you simply can't skimp on quality.

It's only 5 ingredients, and that's where you're gonna need to draw the goodness from.

Valrhona is my choice of chocolate, and for this number, Valrhona Guanaja (70%) was used.

I particularly like President's Unsalted Butter. It's a high quality butter made from pasteurized cows milk and a product from France. It has a slight hint of sweetness, which won my affection some time back.

Vanilla Sugar
It's always a good thing to have a stash of vanilla sugar in your room (or kitchen).
It came in handy this morning.
It's basically vanilla beans kept in an airtight jar with castor sugar, and it makes a great decor piece.

With all that is said. I want to leave you with one thought.
"It's sooooo seeeeem-ple! You use goood quah-lity ingredients, you get goood quah-lity dessert! Enjoy!"

The Truth Is Out...

Yes, it's true. Betty Crocker is not a real person.
She's the creation of Corporate America.
More of it in this site.

What about Sara Lee, you ask?
She's real alright, but not quite in the business.
More on her here, and here.

If you ask me, I think Julia Child is the real "Betty Crocker" or "Sara Lee".

Bon App├ętit.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Kourapiedes


Kourapiedes.
Essentially known as a delicate shortbread.
Affectionately known as, buttery greek goodness. Or so I call them.
In the Oct/Nov issue of Vogue Entertaining + Travel (Australia) (Yes, I read Vogue magazines. How awesome am I?), Tessa Kiros chooses to share her wonderful greek recipes that she has collected over time. I'm really glad she did.
J from Kuidaore, made some Chocolate Chip Butter Balls in her Comfort Baking post a couple of weeks back, and I couldn't stop thinking about how good they'd be in my mouth, where they belong.
So much so that I inwardly squirmed with glee, when I read that the Kourapiedes were described as "melt in your mouth".
And they did.
The powdered sugar didn't overwhelm, and the mixed spice (the culinary geek in me thought it would be more exotic with mixed spice.) provided a nice accent.

I meant to post this way earlier, but I got caught up with all the preperation for my trip to Ipoh.
Was the food any good there?
I can only say this, the food is "sooooo good!"

I'll post more on it later.
Enjoy.