Friday, December 11, 2009

Mango and Cream Sponge cake

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Birthdays are a wonderful thing. For my birthday this year, my parents let me choose a birthday cake! They always let me choose my own cake but this year was special because I'd finally gotten bored of the usual fruit and whipped cream sponge cakes you'll find in Asian bakeries, and decided to get something different! And best of all, my parents let me choose not one but two cakes! I ended up choosing a cream filled sponge cake anyway (although it was definitely different to the usual Asian style ones) and chose a tropical cheesecake for the other. It ended up costing much more than what we would usually spend on a birthday cake, but it was definitely worth it!


But my birthday has long gone and this post isn't about my birthday, but my dad's.

Ever since I'd developed an interest in baking, we'd stopped buying cakes as I like to take the chance to make my own (and it costs less too! haha). Unlike me, my dad makes the same request every year- for a simple sponge cake, filled and topped with whipped cream and covered in fruit. Just like the ones you get from Asian bakeries. Yup. The very ones I didn't want for my birthday. I do find them quite boring to decorate- there's only a certain number of ways in which I can arrange fruit on a cake. Last year, I made a 'face' with with the fruit.......as you might be able to see in that tiny picture (aka my display pic) over there ---------->


My dad's birthday was actually more than a month earlier. There were several reasons why I still had not made the cake yet:
1. The usual excuse- too much school work!
2. I was yet to find a good sponge cake recipe- I usually use my swiss roll recipe which is really good, but I wanted to find a better one =]
3. I HAD tried to make a sponge cake already, which turned out not very spongy as I forgot I was making a sponge cake and didn't 'fold' the mixture.
4. Strawberries were too expensive- fresh cream cakes don't look good without that little bit of red!

Since the price of strawberries didn't seem to be going down any time soon and we had a box of fresh mangoes in the house, I decided to make a mango sponge cake instead. This is another a common cream cake found in most asian bakeries. I'd tried making this before, only my lack of knife skills meant that the slices were WAY too thick and they didn't bend over the cake nicely so we ended up piling all the mangoes on the sponge cake. With some experience this time, I cut the mango thinly, only to realise that the mango was too ripe- and ended up with a pile of wet, squishy, mashed up mango. Luckily, my mum came to the rescue and help me cut the second mango (which was much firmer than the first). Her better knife skills meant that she was able to cut the mango into thinner and better looking slices.

With a bit of simple piling of fruits, the cake turned out looking beautiful! I think I was more happy about the cake than my dad......! The mango ripened on the cake really quickly (it had browned by the next day) which meant that it tasted ever sweeter but was not as aesthetically pleasing. The sponge itself was not too successful (probably because I tried to combine a couple of recipes into one....) but the fruits stole the show so it didn't really matter! I'll definitely make this again- it's so fun!
Mango and Cream Sponge Cake

The Cake:

1 20cm round sponge cake (recipe I used is below but it's not the best sponge cake recipe I've used)
300mL thickened cream
Icing sugar (to taste)
1 can of mixed fruits (I used Del Monte fruit
cocktail as it has interesting fruits in it.....)
1 can of peaches
1 large, not-quite-ripe mango

* Using an electric mixer, whip the thickened cream until stiff peaks are almost formed. Add icing sugar a little at a time, until it is sweetened and stiff peaks have formed.
* Cut the sponge cake horizontally in half
* Drain the can of mixed fruit (make sure that the fruits are dry!) and mix half of it with half of the whipped cream. Spread it over the bottom half of the cake
* Place the top half of the cake over it, and spread the remaining whipped cream all over the cake.
* Cut the mangoes into thin slices and arrange them over the cake- cover the edges with the larger slices and then arrange the rest of the slices in the middle.
* Drain the can of peaches and arrange over the top of the cake along with the remainder of the mixed fruits.

Sponge:

4 eggs (at room temp)
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
50mL fresh milk
120g plain flour
100g caster sugar
1/4 tsp
baking powder
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
50mL cooking oil

1. Separate the egg white and the yolks
2. Add vanilla essence to the egg yolk. Then add the fresh milk, half of the sugar and oil into the mixture
3. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into the mixture
4. In a separate bowl, add cream of tartar to the egg white and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Then slowly add caster sugar, a little at a time, until stiff peaks form.
5. Slowly fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture (approx 1/4 at a time)
6. Pour mixture into a 20cm round tin. Gently tap the mixture on the counter (to remove any large air bubbles) and put into a preheated 180 degree oven and bake for about 25 minutes. Unmould and allow to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Iron Chef

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The first time I heard of the Iron Chef Restaurant, I was like WOW the iron chef people actually opened a restaurant in Sydney? But then I later realised that it just had the same name as the show, it had nothing to do with it =[

Although we usually try a lot of chinese restaurants, we've actually never been here before because it's in Cabramatta, which is so far away from us! But, through word of mouth, it eventually got to my parents that the yum cha there was pretty good and so we decided to try it.


When we actually got to Cabramatta, it took us a while to actually find the restaurant because we'd parked over the other side, and walked around for ages (but obviously, we couldn't find it) My mum ended up calling her friends who gave really vague directions so we guessed it was on the other side of the station. We crossed the bridge and taa-daa! There it was!

Dumplings

Since it was a Friday afternoon, and because the restaurant is quite big, we were seated straight away. The food however, did take a while to come around to us.

We ordered these dumplings because they looked.....interesting. They are kinda like sui mai except that the skin covers the whole thing and the filling is a bit different, although it didn't taste all that different to sui mai.


The problem with yum cha, is that I can identify most of the dishes in Cantonese, but have no idea what they are in english. I know that this was some part of a cows innards- which is always exciting to do. I'm not quite sure what it is exactly......Drenched in sauce, they are very flavoursome and taste great. The presentation however, is lacking.
Steamed Beef balls

The beef balls drizzled are with a dash of worchestershire sauce and are big and juicy. I like the beancurd on the bottom of the beef balls, which are soaked with the sauce.


These were supposed to be hot, steamed custard buns. In theory, the custard is supposed to be so runny that when you bite into them, the custard is supposed to ooze out. Sort of like the black seasame balls. Of course this didn't quite happen:



I bit in, and the bun was...well...warm. The custard stayed where it was. Tastewise, it was pretty good but we were very dissappointed in the lack of runiness.

After this, we sat and waited for a long time but no trolley came to us. None of the fried food trolleys had come past and we were quite sick of waiting. Besides, being in Cabramatta, I was much more interested in the other side- that is, all the street food and Vietnamese food. So we got up and left (on half empty stomachs) ready to eat other food!


Iron Chef Chinese Seafood Restaurant
84 Broomfield Street
Cabramatta, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9723 6228

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mee The Noodle House

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'You're going to blog about this place??'

That was my mum's first reaction when I decided to blog about Mee The Noodle House. Because it isn't actually the most interesting place to talk about. It's not even a restaurant- it's more of a takeaway store with tables and seats. But hey, it's food so why not?

We usually eat here on Thursday nights due to the lack of choices available at shopping centres. The food is reasonably priced (most of it is under $10) and the food isn't the best but it's not too bad and definitely better than food court food.
With its limited menu of about 20 or so items, it didn't take long for us to try everything on it. So it was a pleasant surprise when we revisited this place to find that it had undergone some slight renovation and had some new and interesting things on its menu.

One wall is made up of little boxes which they use to store their sauces, noodles etc. We often wonder if they would notice if someone stole a bottle or something.......There's also a selection of sauces which you can take and tea and water which you can refill- the tea is really dilute though.

Fried chicken with noodles

As always, the food comes quite quickly- the fried chicken with noodles arrive arrives first. The chicken isn't crunchy and has already become slightly soggy (from the soup) but it is very flavoursome. The soup however, is awfully oily, as is most of their food but is bearable.

Fried Rice Noodles

For a takeaway shop, the fried rice noodles are pretty good. It has the 'breath of wok' which is the most important thing in this dish. The meat is tender and the flavours are good- it's one of the better options here. However, it isn't as good as some other restaurants and is more oily than we would like.

Pad Thai

The Pad Thai was a new addition to the menu- its certainly very different from any Pad Thai I've ever had before. At first sight, its lacking in colour- I'm sure Pad Thai isn't supposed to be this yellow! When I take a bite, I find that it's also lacking in flavour. The normal sweetness of the dish is lacking- instead, they add a tablespoon of sugar at the side. There is a couple of prawns and a bit of meat too. The dish is okay, but I wouldn't order it again.

Seafood Laska

They give a generaous amount of prawns in the laska. I never order this because to me it's too hot- I can't stand hot foods. But its not actually all that hot.....

I love the fact that it has pineapples in them (yep, I'm a pineapple lover) and I usually end up stealing most of the pineapples. We order this frequently, so I assume that it's pretty good.



Noodle House
(in Westfields)
Store 1092
236 Pacific Highway Hornsby
New South Wales 2077
Telephone: (02) 9476 6699

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sakae- Yakiniku House

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Sakae Yakiniku House is similar to Sakae dining bar (and they're only a short distance away from each other) but still different in that there's also Korean food on the many and that they have the option of BBQ. The strange thing about it (apart from the name), is that unlike almost every other restaurant in Eastwood, it isn't situated on ground level. Then, when you go up the quiet flight of stairs, the first thing you see are big (and slightly mysterious...) wooden doors. And the inside is so dark that it's difficult to tell whether they're open or not. But the inside is really pretty- definitely very 'restaurant' style!

We walked in to notice that we're the first ones there- which is sort of surprising considering it was almost 1 o clock in the afternoon. The waiter takes us to a table turns on the light on the rangehood-like-thing. It's so cool! We were given a heap of menus to choose from- a lunch menu, a normal menu, a BBQ menu, an all-you can eat ment etc. etc. but of course, we took the most economical option and went for the lunch menu. For $16.80, we got a three course meal- and appetiser and main (which we could choose from the menu) and dessert and a pot of green tea!

Complimentary Radishes

The complimentary radishes were one of the highlights of this meal. If they were on the menu as a dish, we'd probably order it. They are slightly cooked and covered in a really light sauce. They aren't very flavourful (there was still a strong radish taste) but tasted great!


Beef Takati

We ordered the Beef Takati as we had no idea what it was and I thought it'd be fun to try. Turns out, it was raw beef in a sauce which was a bit like soy sauce and vinegar mixed together. It was scary eating raw beef (you know, food poisoning etc. etc.) -it tasted okay but we definitely wouldn't order this again.


Jap Chae $5.80

The Jap Chae was really really small- even for an appetiser. I guess it was kinda expected for $5.80 -at a restaurant. The noodles were okay-but they weren't any better than the $5 jap chae I get from the food court....for a much larger dish.

Seafood Pancake $9.80
The seafood pancake was smaller than we had anticipated but tasted pretty good. It was different to the one we had before at a Korean restaurant- it was smaller in size but notably thicker. It wasn't as good as the one we had before, but was still good and we'd probably order it again, although it's quite expensive for such a small serving. There wasn't much seafood in it except for calamari which was really chewy and probably would have tasted better without it.

Miso Soup

I'm guessing that is came with the meal? It doesn't say so on the lunch menu but it ended up on our table. It was again, average, although all miso soup tastes pretty much the same to me.


Sashimi Salad Don

The sashimi salad rice was a big disappointment. The rice is hot- it had steam coming out of it. And the sashimi? Well- all you can see in the photo was all there was. Sharing this between the three of us, we each got about 2 or 3 pieces of sashimi each (and they were SMALL pieces). And since the rice was hot, the sashimi warmed up really quickly. And warm sashimi does not taste good at all. And i don't think it's healthy either! There was no dressing, but it did come with a sauce which didn't really go well with it and was hot (spicy hot that is). Without the sauce, the salad tasted flavourless but with the sauce, it just didn't taste quite right.
Green Tea Ice Cream
The most akward part of the meal is after we finish the mains- not knowing whether we're supposed to notify the waiters that we've finished our meal (and are ready for dessert) or if we're supposed to wait until they come. After a long wait, and reluctance from both me and my sister to ask the waiters (yes, we're both really shy people), my mum asks the waiter for the dessert.

The dessert comes, and we're surprised that there was not one, but three servings! We later realise that it states on the menu that there is one for each person on the table. The dessert is green tea ice cream- one of my favourite ice cream flavours, as I rarely ever have it (in fact, it's been ages- years since I last had it). Of course, the quality isn't all that great but any ice cream makes me happy! Only problem is that it melted really quickly, especially since it was already a hot day. My mum complained that it was a little bitter, but me and my sister don't notice it (as usual, our tastes are not as sensitive as our parents).
The meal did not actually fill us up much (we were planning where to eat next...) but that wasn't surprising considering we only ordered one meal and two appetisers for three people but that was about all we could fit into our budget. We realised that we should have gone for two meals as it would have ended up costing around the same (except that we really wanted to try the seafood pancake) but the decor was really pretty so it was kinda worth it.

Sakae Yakiniku House

Level 1, 6 Hillview Road
Eastwood NSW 2122
Phone (02) 9874 2277

Sakae Yakiniku House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What silly teens do when they're bored...

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Every once in a while, I'm left home alone, due to some school exam which I have to study for over the weekend. Of course, the percentage of this time which I actually spend studying is quite small, due to distractions (ie the computer, the internet and therefore food blogs =]) and the fact that school work is so.....so......boring!

Yes. I hate studying. Which is why, you'll usually find me doing the randomest things on the weekends.....you know, to make life, not-so-boring. When I was studying for my chemistry exam, I decided to peel and orange and make a rose out of it (it was heaps fun!). Then there was a time, when I decided to try my hand at pulled noodles-the ones which you cut the dough into strips and then pull them into long strands- and which actually worked! (unfortunately, I don't have a good picture of the noodles)

This weekend, my sister was home with me, so I had to make something to feed the two of us. Since there were no left overs in the fridge, and I actually had homework which I needed to do, I made creamy mushroom spaghetti-using a can of condensed cream of mushroom sauce, of course! It was so so easy- all I did was empty the can of soup in a pot, as some milk, some water turn on the heat, chuck in some cooked spaghetti and taa-daa! Not only does it look great (well to me it does.....) it tastes great too- my sister loved it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Beef Rendang

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I don't cook.

I mean, sure, every once in a while, I might bake a pie, fry an egg or cook noodles but I rarely ever cook up an actual dish. I'm quite terrible in the kitchen- anything that involves me using a pot on the stove will always end up with bits of food splattered everywhere!

But then I stumbled upon Almost Bourdain's Beef Rendang recipe which not only looked delicious, but seemed easy enough that I thought that there seemed to be a chance of me making this without needing the help of my mum.

And it really did end up as simple as it seemed- it basically involved mixing everything in a wok and then letting it simmer for a couple of hours. Rather than simmering it in a wok, I choose to use my thermal cooker as it would save energy. I cooked it a little longer than was supposed to but I don't think it really made a difference, because it came out delicious! It was different to the beef rendang that I'd had before- it was much drier and there was a much stronger coconut taste, but it was just as good! I'd definitely make this again :)

And of course, a nice, successful dish couldn't be served on its own- so I decided to make the whole dinner for my family =] And kinda went like this:


I lied. I didn't make the whole thing. My dad made the lemon lime and bitters- it's his 'signature' drink. Not because he's especially good at making this, it's just because no-one else in the family can ever be bothered making it. You see, my mum is usually responsible for the cooking, my sister is responsible for setting the table and my dad makes the drinks. Me? I'm responsible for sitting around.....doing nothing!

Only joking! I'm not THAT lazy, I'm usually doing homework =]

Realising that a proper meal should start with a course before the main, and that I needed to have vegetables somewhere, I decided to make a salad. Only problem was I didn't know what salad to make and couldn't make a lot of the slad recipes I saw online as I was lacking many ingredients. So the salad ended up being chopped up vegetables with salad dressing on top.


The beef rendang was absolutely delicious. Except that the beef we bought wasn't good quality (bad meat shop!) so the meat wasn't as tender and tasty as we would have liked. But, as I've said before, it was so so so good!


Dessert was vanilla slice- it was my first attempt at puff pastry and was very time consuming. But it was delicious, and even my dad, who's very picky when it comes to desserts liked this! We'd just bought a huge tray of strawberries, so I chucked them on the plate too. It doesn't look that great, but it makes the dish seem.....less empty!
The recipe for beef rendang is from here. Thanks for the recipe Ellie!
~ Beef Rendang~

Ingredients

3 packets Brahim's Rendang Paste
1.5 kg beef brisket (gravy beef)
2 cups dessicated / grated coconut
2 cups hot boiling water
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tbsp oil

Method
1.To make kerisik: Fry the grated coconut in a non-stick frying pan (without oil) on low heat. Keep stirring so all the grated coconut are browned evenly. It will take about 10 minutes to turn it into deep golden brown and you can smell the aroma. You are ready to use it for your rendang. 2.Cut the beef in 5 cm / 2" cubes.
3.Heat oil in a wok, add garlic and fry until slightly browned. Add beef and fry until all sides are browned.
4.Remove beef from wok.
5.Add rendang paste to the wok and cook until the paste is bubbling. Add the kerisik and hot boiling water.
6.Bring to a boil and add the beef and continue cooking until it's boiling.
7.Turn down the heat, cover with lid and let it simmer in low heat for 2 hours. Stir it occasionally.
8.After 2 hours of simmering, the sauce should be thickened and the should be very tender. Now turn back to medium-high heat, lid off and continue to stir-fry it until the sauce is completely thicken and dried.
9.Served with steamed rice, roti or nasi kunyit.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A trip to a 'restaurant'

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Because I've grown up mostly eating at Asian restaurants, I've come to define the term restaurant as those western style restaurants with fancy decor (preferabbly with dim lighting at night....haha), fancy waiters/waitresses, fancy plating(you know, big plates, little food)..... and most importantly, a 3 course menu. But sadly, I've never been to one of these restaurants.

This weekend, we visited Atrium Brasserie, a small 'restaurant' - not quite the restaurant I was thinking of (as it lacked the .....err fanciness- and was actually just a club restuarant). It did, however, have the 3 course menu- and at the price of $15. So the main was only fish and chips. But still. It was close enough. And it had a good view!

So the reason we went to this particular 'restaurant'? My mum had come here once with her friends, and apparently they had a really good soup that she wanted us to try. Unfortunately, when we got there, we realised that there was no soup on the menu- only the soup of the day. The service was slow, but we eventually got taken to a seat and given a menu- to order, you tick off the boxes on a sheet of paper and pay at a counter. Going for the cheaper option, we chose the 3 course meal, along with the salad bar and steak .

Salad - $7 (with meal)

We weren't going to get the salad but then we were scared there wasn't enough to eat. Besides- it looked fun! Because of $7, they give you a small bowl, and you can fill it up with as much salad as you like (but only once). There was a wide range of choices- some pre made salads and some vegetables with a variety of salad dressings you could add yourself. I quite liked the salads, but I haven't had many salads before so I wouldn't know if they're good compared to other places. However, I'm sure it would have tasted better if the salads were separate rather than all mixed together though. We tried to pack as much in as possible, but we still had to take it back to the table so this is how much we got- there were others who stacked it much higher than ours!

The cauliflower soup came shortly- which was the soup of the day (it came with our meal) . It was just your ordinary creamy soup lumps of cauliflower, which looked like potatoes (it took a while for us to figure out that it was actually cauliflower) and a slight cauliflower taste.


Fish and Chips

The mains took a while to come- being freshly fried, the chips and the fish were very crispy. They weren't the best fish and chips I've ever had though.....

Chargrilled Scotch Fillet- $19

I think this was supposed to be a lunch special as it's not on the menu. We really should have gotten it medium rare but my mum was scared that medium rare wouldn't be cooked enough for us kids. It definitely wasn't the best steak we've had- it was, well....pretty ordinary -I'd prefer the steak which my mum cooks at home.

The last course of the meal was ice cream. We were sitting around for quite a while after we'd finished out meal, wondering when the dessert was going to come- it never did. Because the dessert doesn't come to you- you have to get it yourself! They really should have told us at some point!

So we took out reciept to the drinks area and asked for our ice cream- we got to choose the flavours, which I had no idea what they were so I just asked for one of each flavour (there was also strawberry, but it didn't look too appealing). The chocolate was already half melted. The other two flavours were some kind of nut flavours- probably almond and hazlenut. Other than that, the ice cream wasn't too bad- it tasted notably better than supermarket ice cream (the cheap ones that is) but that's no surprise as this is a 'restaurant'!
Atrium Brasserie
14 Magdala Rd
North Ryde NSW 2113

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Excellent Chinese Seafood Restaraunt

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Excellent Chinese Seafood restaurant is one of the restaurants our family regularly visits . It's one of the cheaper and better (and consistent) quality yum cha restaurants in Sydney, although their selection can be not-so-interesting after you go there a couple of times (but then again, that's the same for all yum cha restaurants)

I don't always go yum cha -ing with my parents (because of my slight dislike of the yum cha experience in Sydney) but I occassionally tagg along on my parents' yum cha trips. On this occasion, I brought along my camera =]

Which is when I discovered that you can take heaps of photos at yum cha because they come in such small servings!





I don't know what these are but they taste like fish balls, only bigger, more flavoursome and have a very different texture than fish balls (more chewier). It comes with a brown sauce which is a really salty (and looks much like POOP- haha) which doesn't taste too bad. They taste good, but is certianly not my favourite thing to eat.

Deep fried meat dumpling

I developed a liking for these thing a couple of years ago. These fried balls are crispy on the outside (eventhough they're not usually hot) and chewy on the inside and have a nice meat filling.

Pan Fried Rice Noodle Rolls

Their rice noodle rolls come in a small serving compared to other yum cha restaurants. However, their flavour is quite good- being freshly fried, they're not bad. The rolls are crispy on the outside and soft inside with lots of shallots and dried prawns. It comes with a peanut and a sweet sauce -I like to eat it drenched in the sweet sauce

Some part the the innard of a cow. I don't particularly like these things but my mum does- they're quite good. They come drenched in oil, which sort of adds to the flavour (and will leave a puddle of oil in your bowl)!

Chicken Feet

But these things leave the biggest puddle of all (in you bowl, that is). The chicken feet is one of those things which almost every table orders. It's always good too- the feet are always chubby and is drenched in the really red but tasty sauce.

The fried noodle is one of our favourite in Sydney. It's wheeled in those typical hot trolleys and covered with a lid. It's a bit squished and and tastes quite different from your normal fried noodles (as it isn't freshly fried) but its flavour makes up for it.
Glutinous Rice Balls with Seasame filling
And then we come to my favourite part of yum cha- the dessert. I have these glutinous rice balls everytime we come here. It's covered with crushed peanuts (although I don't really like peanuts) with a black seasame filling which is supposed to ooze out but doesn't always (it depends on how hot it is). But it still tasted great anyway!

Excellent Chinese Seafood Restaurant

Shop E
101 Carlingford Rd
Carlingford 2118 NSW
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