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
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