Bury Me In Food

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Assembling of an Engagement Cake November 29, 2009

You know what’s crazy?  Offering to bake someone a cake for their Engagement.  You know what’s even more crazy?  When said offeror has only made one other cake for someone and that was for her three year old nephew’s birthday who showed her a rock in a box and said, “Look eggs!”.

 

Nine hours, a dozen eggs, a kilo of butter, even more of that of sugar, sweat, loads of dish washing – this.

 

The cake is equivalent to 6 batches of cake and is made up of a 9 inch pan, a 7 inch pan and a 5 inch pan.  I lined the pans’ sides and filled the cake to the rip so that the cake rose was about 7 centimetres high.  The top tier, I tried to slice into two using my new cake slicer that I bought from ebay for about $8 or $9 but it came out uneven so the remaing cakes were all divided into three and filled with salted butter cream.

After frosting all three cakes, I then had to crumbcoat each cake, and then frost them.  In the midst of all of this, I ran out of the double batch of butter cream I’d made (I underestimated how much frosting I’d need to fill and crumb coat the cakes).  So I had to take butter out of the fridge to soften, and then make another batch of buttercream.  The second batch, I used a slightly different recipe (no shortening ) and the buttercream was a lot lighter and didn’t set like the previous batch.  You can see the difference between the two frosting.  The first tier was frosted with the first batch of buttercream, and the bottom two cakes were frosted with the second batch of butter cream.

After frosting and sitting on the floor and carving the supporting rods (dowels) out and then putting the cakes together (this caused me some stress)…it was time to decorate the cakes.  I’d decided on fondant flowers…which made me a bit aprehensive.  I’ve worked with fondant twice and I think it’s seriously hard to work with.  It is NOT like on YouTube where it looks like it’s so easy to play with.  My fondants are sticky and don’t stay the shape I want it to.  I made white, light pink, and pink flowers using flower cutters I’d bought.  They were plastic cutters and from now on, I might just buy metal ones, the plastic cutters don’t cut as cleanly – in my opinion and leaves a slight edge to them unless I jiggle the cutters around a bit.  Maybe they weren’t the faciest cutters maybe?  I haphazardly placed the flowers on, cascading down one end, and dotted each one with cachous (glued on with buttercream) and then finished the sides and backs with a few random flowers here and there.

 

I breathed a sigh of relief I got it to my friend’s house in one piece and was suitably chuffed when everyone commented on its look and its taste!  🙂

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My Homemade Oreos November 27, 2009

Filed under: desserts,Food,Home Cookery,Pastries — Dobsessed @ 6:49 am
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I watched Julie and Julia the other day and it turns out that Julie Powell gained 9kg in 365 days cooking for Julia Child’s cookbook and you know what?  I thought it was pretty impressive that she didn’t gain more weight from it.  I bake.  I eat and I bake some more and I’ve probably put on 5kg in the 2 months I’ve started regularly baking.

 

These days, I’m more likely to skip pilates and bake. Two days ago, I blamed it on tiredness and ate pies.  Last night, I blamed it on the storm (and then promptly went out in the storm to buy Copha so I could make Oreos).  It’s totally irrational.  It’s terrible for my thighs but I’m lost and I’m absolutely addicted.

 

One of my favourite cookies are Oreos.  I love Oreos, I love breaking them apart, and I love spreading crunchy peanut butter on them and eating them slowly, I love dunking them in milk and I love eating the white filling last.  Because I can no longer really eat Oreos anymore, I decided to bake my own.  I made a Devil’s Food Cake recently, and the rich, dense, deep cocoa flavour really reminded me of Oreos and that what gave me the inspiration.  Most recipes I trawled through on the internet suggests using a Devil’s Food Cake recipe but that didn’t really appeal to me, so I flipped through this beautiful book I bought recently, Organic and Chic and  halved and adapted the recipe in the book and it worked rather well.   The cookies were fairly close in taste to real Oreos, it just didn’t have the crunch and were like chewy cookies.  Some people who tried it said they preferred it that way.

 

The cookies were quick to make, but cutting them and then baking them in batches took a bit of time, no matter, I just watched YouTube while they bake their requisite 8 minutes. The first batch I made, I baked for 10 minutes, they got slightly too brown and the lone cookies (without the icing) were a bit bitter.  I baked the rest at 8 minutes but I really wished I had baked them for 10 because the 8 minute cookies were chewy whereas, for them to be truly like Oreos, they needed the crunch.  I think next time I’d also bake them in a slightly cooler oven, and for 11 minutes so they dried out the cookie a bit more.  My tasters at work liked the chewiness though, so maybe you could do a variation?

 

Cookies

  • 115g softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of caster sugar
  • 1 egg – room temperature
  • 1 tablespoons of vanilla extract (I love vanilla)
  • 1 cups of cooking cocoa (don’t use drinking chocolate – that’s too sweet)
  • 1 cup of plain flour (I used White Wings gluten free flour)

Icing

  • 2 and a bit cups of pure icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 50g of Copha

1. Line your baking sheets with baking paper

2. Cream the butter and sugar then add the egg and vanilla.

3. Sift the cocoa and the clour together and slowly add to the buttery egg mixure until combined.

4. put a lump of the dough on the baking sheet, put another baking sheet on top and roll it out with a rolling pin.  I don’t have a rolling pin, so I used a vodka bottle.

5. Chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes or so.

6. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (or 160 degrees celsius if you’re baking it for 11 minutes).  Use cookie cutters to the cookies out and re-roll excess dough and repeat.

7. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes and allow to cool on a wire rack.

8. For the icing, mix everything together – I melted the copha in the microwave.  The icing will look nobbly and hard, but ignore this, and just spread it onto the cookies with a knife (you won’t be able to pipe it).  Store in an airtight container. 🙂

 

Baguette | Bistro + Bar • 150 Racecourse Road Ascot Q 4007 • t (07) 3268 6168 • f (07) 3268 2607 November 21, 2009

During my holidays, I only managed to fit in two $30 lunches, Baguette being my second.  I had previously only been to Baguette for dinner, and have always liked it.  I think one of the things I like about it, other than the great food, is the décor…very open, modern but still charming.  Mismatched paintings, stainless steel ceiling fans, high ceilings, glossy tables, it all works – I can certainly see why people who choose to have weddings here.

 

I’d called up earlier to see if they cater for children and I was dining with my sister and my beautiful niece and they were very nice over the phone and assured us that the little ones are definitely allowed there.

 

We arrived just before 12 and were seated, thoughtfully at a table for four, so that Charlotte’s high chair could be comfortably placed without us feeling like a nuisance to the rest of the restaurant, often the case when a baby is in tow (or three – I have four nieces and nephew under 3).

 

My sister and I both order the $30 lunch which comes with a main and a dessert, both with a glass of wine or softdrink.  Interestingly enough, children are more than catered for with kids meals listed in the menu: fish and chips, steak and chips, pasta plus a drink and a scoop of ice-cream for a meager $1.50 per year of age of the child! Bonus! My sister didn’t want Charlotte to make a mess, she’s teething at the moment, so being grumpy, she’s into flinging things around the place, so she just ate her trusty mushy baby bottled food.

My sister’s salmon looked completely cooked (we both like our salmon medium) but was soft and tender, she felt the crème fraiche was a bit too strong.

My veal was beautifully tender, the spinach, melting on an absolutely delicious sauce.  My sister had major food envy and needless to say, I polished off the whole lot and even wiped my beer battered chips we’d ordered as a side, in the sauce to try to get as much of it as I can (and I’m definitely not into mopping up food from my plate).

 

We both chose the same dessert, caramelised pineapple with coconut crusted vanilla ice-cream and pistachio crumble.  The pineapple was sweet and beautifully caramelised and the ice-cream went well with it, however, I was a bit disappointed that the pistachio crumble were burnt.

 

The service was impeccable, friendly and the atmosphere was relaxed and not pretentious, I do feel dinner is a bit more aloof though.  We left as the dining room were filling up with poppy-donned customers (for Remembrance Day).

 

Breadtop | Garden City, Brisbane November 18, 2009

When I was a child, I absolutely hated eating bread.  I remember clearly, one Saturday morning, my Auntie had put toast in front of me for breakfast and I refused to eat it, doing the whole kicking and screaming thing because I hated bread and I hated toast and also because I was  a brat.  I also remember that my Auntie said that if I didn’t eat my breakfast, I wouldn’t be allowed to watch the parade that was going past our place that morning.  At the age of eight, I stubbornly sat at the breakfast table staring at the wall refusing to eat my breakfast and thus missing the passing parade, probably felt hungry too.

 

About five years ago, an amazing doctor that I met in Japan told me (through colour therapy and alternate medicine) that the stomach pains I frequently experience, the skin afflictions I’ve suffered from since I was two were because of my intolerance to wheat – when I say skin affliction, I’m talking about itchy boil-like blisters, peeling dry skin, split bloody skin.  So bad when I was young that I could barely walk without traipsing blood all over the kitchen tiles.  When I was in school, people wouldn’t shake my hands because my hands were very, very rough and I had to sleep with Vaseline coating my feet.  I’m sure this is a lot more information than you need…but I digress.  After two weeks of a wheat free diet, my skin completely cleared up (I’ve never even seen my skin sans blisters), I stopped feeling sick and ironically, ever since I stopped eating wheat, the biggest craving I get is bread.  Typical, isn’t it?

 

I cheat all the time, and suffer badly for it – because I don’t eat wheat all (most) of the time, whenever I do, my stomach pains are 50 times worse, I feel very sick, I feel like I’m going to fall asleep any second and my skin break out in painful sores pretty much the next day.  I know it’s crazy why I keep doing it to myself, but it explains why smokers still smoke despite knowing that it gives them cancer, heart diseases etc etc.

 

Breadtop, a franchise that’s comfortably ensconced in Sydney and Melbourne opened its first Brisbane store in Garden City and the glow of the golden, shiny breads, the beckoning trays had me grabbing buns left, right and center, and to hell with feeling sick for the next few days.

 

I bought many, many goodies and all their breads are quite reasonably priced, the more expensive treats being the cold, decorated cakes in their pastry cases.  I just went basic and got a variety of breads that I could place onto my tray myself.

This was a kani korrokke (seafood croquette) with mayo in a split roll, I had thought it was fish finger and was very pleasantly surprised as I love kani korrokke.  The croquette was cold, but beautifully smooth and creamy in amongst the sweet roll.  I must warn those who don’t like slightly sweet breads avoid Bread Top.

One of my other favourite cheating foods is chicken pies (I also love egg noodles), so I got this chicken and mushroom roll which was topped with a square of puff pastry.  The filling was slightly sweet, creamy and was lovely with the soft, doughy bread.  The puff pastry square was very mild, didn’t offer any crunch or buttery goodness.  My half eaten rolls definitely don’t convey how great these sweet breads are.

Apologies again for the half eaten rolls, I only remember to take pictures after I’ve taken a few generous bites.  The green tea and red bean roll was dusted lightly with icing sugar and quite true to macha green tea, the red bean paste wasn’t overly sweet and roughly mashed.  I prefer my red bean paste smoother and sweeter.

The purple hued taro roll looked like a cinnamon scroll with the swirls at the top and was swirled throughout with taro paste, it was rich and delicious, probably one of my favourite breads,

My next favourite roll was the coconut and milk roll, dolloped at the top with a bit of custard.  I call this the butter roll, which brings me back to my childhood when I use to run around Malaysia with these coconut-y, sweet and buttery filled rolls.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I ate half a bag of these (a plastic bag of 6 slightly smaller rolls) in one sitting along with all the other baked goods I had.

 

I also bought a green tea soufflé roll which was soft, spongy and strong in green tea flavour – sorry, no photos for this one.  All this bounty? Plus a bag of 6 smaller green tea, red bean filled rolls, only set me back $18 something!

 

I’d like to say that it was all worth it, and at the time it was, but I definitely paid for it the next day.

 

Two Small Rooms | Milton Rd | Toowong November 12, 2009

Filed under: Casual Eats,Fine Dining,Food review — Dobsessed @ 10:00 am
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There are all these great restaurants offering 2 course lunches + a glass of wine for $30 at the moment, and I’ve always wanted to try it out, but alas, working the 9 to 5, Monday to Friday slog has always prevented me from doing so. However, as I’m on HOLIDAYS, I could finally sample it! I decided to kill two birds with one stone because I’ve been meaning to go to Two Small Rooms too.

My friend and I met up for lunch there and instead of 2 courses for $30, we thought we may as well also get dessert for $40 + a glass of wine (or softdrink, coffee etc). The restaurant looks like a converted house on a busy street, consisting of, surprise, surprise, two small rooms! It’s intimiate and cosy, probably only fitting about 20 or so people in the whole restaurant. There was a couple of diners in the restaurant when we got seated at about 12.

The lunch menu consisted of three entrees (vegetarian: tomato and mozerella salad, seafood: salt and pepper squid with aioli and meat (friend’s choice) : Pork belly with garlic puree (my choice), mains (vegetarian: asparagus risotto (I spied the next table eating this and it was a beautiful bright green), seafood: crab omelette (my choice) and meat: sirloin steak with shoe string fries (friend’s choice), dessert: passionfruit panacotta, housemade selection trio ice-cream and cheese and bread).

After we’d ordered, we were both given a small chunk of bread with a small dish of unsalted butter. It is actually my first time eating bread with unsalted butter, and I must say that I prefer salted butter with bread. Nevertheless, the bread was chewy, the butter, a cool but spreadable temperature.

Salt and Pepper Squid with aioli

The meals came pretty quickly, the salt and pepper squid, crispy and not oily and my friend appreciated that it came with a lime wedge rather than the requisite lemon. We couldn’t really figure out what the black streak on the plate was, but we guessed it as being squid ink.

Pork belly with cucumber and garlic puree

My twice cooked pork belly didn’t have a crackling top, the crackling top had been removed, crushed into a powder and then sprinkled on top and cooked, it produced a beautiful thin crispy crust which I savoured, the cucumber ribbons were refreshing and cooling against the tender pork, but I felt the pork lacked flavour, and had to add some salt, I would’ve loved more sauce to go with it. The garlic puree was true in roasted garlic flavour without any raw bitey garlic flavour.

Steak and shoe string fries

The steak must be a smaller version than what would usually be served on the dinner menu, it was a thin piece of sirloin, probably better served in a steak sandwich. I thought it was cooked beautifully, the sauce was rich and tasty, the steak, despite how thin, was not overcooked, rare in the middle, my friend prefers her steak medium, so I happily obliged and finished it for her.

Crab Omelette with Stir Fried Shoots, Sprouts & Namprik Sauce

My omelette was just that. An omelette, it was soft, and slightly crips on the outside, but I had to eat quite a bit before I got to any crab, the crab flavour was not strong, but I was pleased that it was crab and not seafood extender. The dish was very Asian inspired and I enjoyed the tangy sauce that went with it. It’s apparently Nam prik sauce, nam prik is a Thai fish paste sauce but I didn’t taste any spice or fish, it tasted more like a caramelly coloured BBQ sauce.

Passionfruit Pannacotta

Desserts arrived beautifully plated, the passionfruit pannacotta was absolutely delicious, smooth and mousse like, and not too hard and wobbled, as it should, like a woman’s breast. Tasted very true to passionfruit without any sour bite and was served with homemade vanilla bean ice-cream (beautifully flecked with black beans) and pistacio crumble.

Trio of Housemade ice-creams

The trio of ice-cream flavours were vanilla, musk and ginger. My favourite being the ginger, which had a mild ginger taste, like ginger bread biscuits and was not overpowering like some ginger desserts can be, the musk ice-cream was pink and sweet and went beautifully with the crunch of the pistachio crumble, the vanilla ice-cream, smooth and creamy, and flecked, just the way I like it. I am officially addicted to pistachio crumble, I want to learn how to make it!!

Overall, the meals were simple, definitely more casual and simple than what I’d expect with clean flavours, and nothing complicated. I’d be interested to see if their dinner menu is more exciting, my favourite part of the meal was definitely the dessert.

 

My holiday feasting! Part 1. November 11, 2009

I’m on holidays at the moment, and everyone’s been asking me, where are you going? Etc etc etc…thing is, usually, I do go somewhere, short trip overseas, interstate, anything…but this time, I’ve taken two weeks off just to relax and it has been excellent. I really recommend it to everyone…I’ve honestly enjoyed every single day of it, I’m already dreading having to go back to work.

I’ve been eating out heaps! After Koh-Ya, I also went to Food and Soul, which I thought was alright, the service was friendly and familiar, with the chef/owner Terry seating us and explaining to us his dishes, very generous servings, but perhaps not as refined. I went Yum Cha with some girlfriends of mine and I had lots of my favourite dish, that is the rice noodle rolls with the BBQ pork and the sweet soy sauce. My family’s favourite story is always me eating 4 plates of these when I was 4 years old, my grandmother egging me on before throwing up all over the carpet in the restaurant, nice.

Then there was my nephew’s 3rd birthday where was a veritable feast of vietnamese betal leaves wrapped pork, BBQ sambal sting ray, my brother-in-law’s very delicious vietnamese pork chops, honey and chicken sausauges from the helpful and friendly butchers at Sunnybank Plaza, homemade coleslaw and loads of other stuff. I’d spent all day on Saturday baking a cake for my nephew. I wanted to do something interesting, so I decided on a basil scented cake with brown butter frosting (a recipe I saw on Not Quite Nigella) but the recipe didn’t work – she’d made cupcakes, I’d wanted to make a whole cake. The cake was an absolute disaster with the outside crispy and biscuity – quite delicious really, and the inside, sloppy, tasted pretty good though. I had to start all over again, but I’d run out of basil, so I used vanilla bean instead, which ended up being moist and delicious with the crusty top and sides.

Elmo cake!

I also decided to try my hand at macarons (that’s macarons – ONE O). Macaroons is made with a base of coconut, and macarons is usually made with a base of almonds, one is English and one is French (so Wikipedia tells me). My macarons were plain macarons with white chocolate and raspberry ganache and they were lovely and crispy. They were full of almond flavour and were chewy. They even had a frilly foot on it! Although I blame the lopsidedness of the macaroons on my sister’s dodgy oven. A few tips that were given that I believe helped my mild success with my first attempt at macarons:

– I used old egg whites (left out of the fridge overnight – pre-cracked into a container, I saved the yolks to make creme brulee – check out my creme brulee entry for the update)

– I let my macarons sit for at least an hour before I baked them which allowed them to develop a crust

– Drawing circles on the parchment and then flipping them over helped me pipe similar sized macarons – though when I didn’t flip them over, I got pencil marks on the bottem of my macarons…not good.

– With a wet finger, I flattened the tip of my macarons so they were smooth on the top (although I also did a batch with the pointy top and I quite like the billowy look to them).

Macarons! With White chocolate and raspberry ganache

During my holiday, my sister and I spent a very busy day at the coast starting with a window shop at a huge kitchenware store – I could’ve spent hours there but our bellies and the beach called out to us. We went to Food Fantasy and the highlight was surprisingly the boozy spaghetti bolognaise, I also really enjoyed the white chocolate mousse, very good value at $12.50 each (ultilising the Entertainment Card). We went to the beach, and then went to Ikea, where we both stocked up on their Swedish Meatballs then ended up at an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet at Sunnypark (only Wednesdays). There were sushi with fresh salmon, tuna, tempura, ebikatus, okonomiyaki, desserts, salads but overall, I wasn’t overly enthused. Give me Hanaichi kaiten sushi anytime.

All that I’ve described has only been my weekend, and the first day of my holidays…definitely more to come…

 

Koh-Ya, 624 Ann Street | Fortitude Valley November 1, 2009

I loooooooove yakiniku, when I lived in Japan, it was one of those things I would love but only eat on rare occasions because it quickly (and easily) became very expensive.  In Japan, we would be greeted by young bandana wearing waiters and waitress who would yell out “Irashiamase!!” as you enter and drop big metal bowls filled with coals in front of you.  I would always enjoy grilling to my heart’s content, with my favourite cuts of meat being wagyu beef which come beautifully speckled with fat that melt and drip into the coals, leaving a tender, delicious morself.  I’ve never had anything like it since.

Koh-ya has a more subdued atmosphere, it definitely wasn’t as hectic, the grills were built into the tables so that it was level and it was gas fired rather than hot coals, a lot safer, but I definitely miss the smokeyness and the living dangerously side of things.  You can choose between a gourmet BBQ buffet ($39.90), a deluxe BBQ buffet ($49.90) or order a la carte off the menu.  As this was my first time, I thought I’d go all out and get the deluxe buffet with the drinks and dessert buffet for $7.90 extra (all you can drink soft drink, tea and ice-cream). Main difference between the deluxe and the gourmet was that the deluxe had sashimi and the gourmet didn’t.

We started with some dried sting ray wings which ‘Aioko’ recommended, she actually said, “This is very famous”…which I loved, really brought me back to when I was in Japan where I find the service impeccable.  All the waitstaff had hand written name tags which listed their name, the prefecture/town they were from and their hobbies.  Aioko, from memory, was from Aiche, and likes dancing.  We were advised to lightly grill the sting ray wings which were white and dried, and absolutely delicious.  It was chewy, but in a beef jerky sort of texture, salty and sweet with a smokiness to it.  I really enjoyed it, I think I could easily eat it like pop-corn at the movies.

We also ordered beef harami (beef muscle – didn’t really liked that description but Aioko said it was very tender), which came marinated in a sweet, salty sauce and was absolutely meltingly tender.  The salmon sashimi was thick and fresh, but had a thick layer of lighter pink which is usually sliced off.  Made it chewing and not soft as I usually prefer it to be.

I wanted to order ox tongue as one of the first dishes I had in yakiniku in Japan was ox tongue (I didn’t know it at the time and I loved it) but this ox tongue was sliced thicker than what I was used to, and a bit too chewy. We experimented with different cooking times, but in the end, I just didn’t like it that much.  We also ordered the usual suspects, chicken breast (a bit dry), chicken thigh (much nicer – fatty meat is gooood), beef loin (a bit dry, not as tender as Harami), squid (average), yaki-chikuwa (Japanese fish cakes) – I was disappointed with these, they lacked flavour and tasted had the texture of rubber bands.

We got a few vegetable dishes too, a tofu salad, which were squares of raw tofu with salad leaves, soy sauce, spring onions and a stack of katsuobushi (shavings of dried, smoked tuna – looks like wood shavings).  I love agedashi tofu, but I felt the katsuobushi overpowered the tofu – I’m not the biggest katsuobushi fan – I like it sparingly. Butter Corn which was a small foil pie dish with a huge pat of butter with frozen corn on top, way too buttery even for a butter lover like me.  We also got Kim-chi, but by this time, I was way too full and didn’t try any of it.

We were constrained by a 90 minute time limit, which goes a lot quickly than you think because we had to wait for the food to cook.  Last dish we ordered was stewed beef which was fall off the bone good, but was very rich and had lots of tendon in it and probably would’ve done better served with rice and before I’d consumed so much meat.  To finish, I ordered a yellow-bean ice-cream which had a nice chick pea like texture and wasn’t too sweet.

I think yakiniku is a perfect ‘first date’ destination and would definitely go back.  I had a bad start though, earlier in the day, we’d had a Halloween celebration at work which was completely over-catered, and trust me, I did not hold back.  Some of the food served: sausage rolls, spinach feta rolls, chicken kiev balls, grain-waves, red rock deli chips, sticky date loaf, chocolate cake, spiced pumpkin pie, finger in bandages (cheerios wrapped with ‘bandaged’ totilla), fairy bread, red velvet cake, chocolate cheese cake, cookies, lamingtons, trail mix, ice-cream spiders…I’m sure they are way more, forget now.

I’m sorry I have no pictures of Koy-ya, it was very dark in the restaurant, but I leave you with some pictures of the red velvet mummy cupcakes and a grave yard red velvet cake I made.

Gluten free red velvet cupcakes, in the pre-bake stageMummy cupcakes!

 

Graveyard Red Velvet cake