Sunday, December 25, 2011

IT'S CHRISTMAS!!! Mango Mousse Chocolate 'Gingerbread' House Cake

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It's finally Christmas!

I'd like to wish everyone a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! Stuff yourselves silly with food, wrap your selves in tinsel, belt out as many Christmas carols as you can possibly think of...... and have a great time ;)

Can you sense my excitement??


To celebrate, I finally made a Christmas-themed gingerbread house cake!! The design was intended to be a little more elaborate, but I've been extremely busy over the past week and have only managed to just finish the cake so this'll have to do.....

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cigar Cookies

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As I write this post now, I have the smell of coffee stuck in my nose. You see, I've recently purchased a coffee machine and have been busy coming up with coffee-like concoctions and forcing them down my family's throats.

Just kidding. My coffee isn't that bad (I don't think).


I don't really like coffee (nor do I drink it), so it may seem a little strange that I have a coffee machine, especially since there are about a billion kitchen appliances which I really wish I had. But I've always fancied the idea of making my own frothy milk, even if I don't like froth, and making cute pictures on coffee......though it may be quite a while til I figure that out.

But because of this machine, I now proper coffee in the house, for the first time ever. And this means that I will no longer have to take pictures with empty coffee cups in the background- or even as the subject, as I did with these photos.

Woops? 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sushi wow, Parramatta

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Fried Moneybags $3

The last time I ate out at a sushi train with my friends was at J.J Sushi, more than two years ago- a day I remember quite well because we were supposed to be studying for exams, but instead spent shopping and eating. Though I happen to be in Parramatta a lot, I don't frequent this area much, so by the time I found out that J.J Sushi had been replaced, it had already been old news.

We decide to drop in here one afternoon, to see what the new restaurant is like. The whole restaurant has undergone a considerable amount of renovation, making its interior a lot more modern looking, though we notice the conveyor, the kitchen and plates are still the same as they used to be.

Seaweed Salad Sushi $2.50

It's also considerably busier, and by the time we arrive, the place is packed, making it difficult to seat our group of 4, especially as the restaurant is quite small in the first place. After a bit of waiting, and much apologising by the friendly staff, we eventually get to sit down on the sushi train,which is filled with plenty of choices. We start with the seaweed salad sushi, a simple favourite of ours, which is done well.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chocolate Macarons

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IMG_8704 

Is there ever a time when time doesn't pass faster than it seems?

It's been a almost a month since my holidays started. A whole month.

I know I always say time passes too quickly, but I can't help it when I look at the calendar and it's been another month but there's still about 10 things that I was meant to do that month which I didn't even get time to think about (for instance, blogging more than twice a month?).

Before I know it, it'll be Christmas!

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I feel like I should be doing more in preparation for Christmas since it's my favourite time of the year- like listening to more Christmas songs, starting to make Christmas themed foods or going to more Christmas events. Instead, I'm spending my holidays doing what I normally do- going out with friends, baking (and blogging), watching TV and just relaxing. It's quite busy actually!

Ever since the beginning of the holidays, there has not been a day when there has not been a bowl of left over egg whites, yolks or cream in the fridge. I'll admit that I do tend to leave stuff in the fridge for longer than they should be in there (I don't bake that much) but I am baking a bit more than usual, in hopes of catching up on my lack of baking this year and to get through my list of 'to try' recipes.

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Like most bloggers, I usually attempt a recipe only once or twice, not because they don't turn out great, but because I simply don't have enough time, nor the stomach space, to try all the new recipes I want to and to make things over and over again. Macarons are something I've only attempted once, but they don't completely fit in this category because the reason I haven't made them again is not because I had other things to make, but rather, out of laziness (of having to age the egg whites and making almond meal) and fear of failure.

If anyone has been following my blog for long enough, you may remember that the last (and first) time I made macarons was a whole two years ago, when I first started this blog- a rather surprisingly successful attempt too, which I have always considered a fluke. I didn't know what a macaron really was or how it was supposed to taste, so I had my second surprise when my sister bought me a macaron and we found it tasted exactly the same as the ones I'd made!

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I'd expected my second attempt to be a failure, so I was surprised again, as they actually turned out macaron looking- I'm thinking it's more because of the recipe than my 'skills' ;) They're far from perfect though, especially since they're lumpy and not nice and round, due to my lack of piping bag and piping tip. But they still tasted great though, which is, of course, the most important thing!

Chocolate Macaron Recipe
The original recipe can be found here

3 egg whites (preferabbly 'aged' egg whites)
50 g granulated sugar
200 g icing mixture (minus 2 Tb)
110g almonds
2 Tb cocoa powder

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry and your macarons won't work.
2. Combine the almonds, cocoa powder and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Pass through a sieve.
3. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
4. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper baking sheets.
5. Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don't let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Pipe or spoon some ganache on one shell and sandwich with another one.

Ganache
1 cup milk chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a heavy saucepan over medium high heat, bring the cream to a boil. Remove from the heat, drop in the milk chocolate and let stand a couple of minutes. Gently stir the chocolate into the cream until smooth. Set aside until it cools down and thickens a bit (a trip to the fridge is ok)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Platform 7 Cafe, Sydenham

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Platform 7 Cafe

My experience with cafe breakfasts is minimal not only because I can never wake up on time, but also because I tend to go for the lunch menu items than the breakfast ones! So when the lovely people from Food Morning invited me to try out the all-day breakfast menu at Platform 7 cafe, I was only too happy to take on the offer.

The cafe is small and cosy, and by the time we arrive, it's already half full, making it a little difficult to seat our table of three (I've brought my parents along). The service is great though, and table is quickly cleared for us.

Platform 7 cafe
Caffè latte

I'm told that their coffees (Allpress) are great, and to be honest, I was a little afraid that I wouldn't have much to comment on, since I probably can't tell the difference between a good coffee and a bad one. My mum is not much of a coffee drinker either, but she enjoyed her caffe latte very much, claiming it to be one of the best coffees she's had.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kitty Cat Sushi

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I hate the feeling of going backwards.

Not physically, though I hate that as well (have i told of the story of how I got motion sickness after sitting facing the wrong way on a sushi train?), but as in the opposite of improving. We've been making a lot of sushi of all different types lately- simple salmon nigiri, California rolls, tuna rolls and whatever else we felt like rolling up or squeezing into balls. Try as hard as I may, all my rolls still end up loose and lopsided like they've always been :(

Okok, so I actually only personally made 2 rolls by myself- a little more practice may help ;)


What I'm really talking about is my progress with decorative sushi.

I used the leftover rice and nori  to make this cat shaped sushi (a design from the same book as last time). I coloured it with sesame seeds for the black, tomato sauce for the orange (tomato flavoured canned tuna was my original plan, but I didn't want to open a can of tuna just for this one roll) and also for the supposedly pink area around the mouth, since I couldn't be bothered finding something pink.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Golden Treasures Seafood Restaurant

10 comments
lol. 

Granville RSL doesn't bring any great food memories- the last (and only) time I was here to dinner was years ago, back when the restaurant was a buffet. Cheap and cheerful, it attracted hoardes of mostly Asian and old people but the food, as I remember it, was quite terrible- the only highlight for me was the hot chocolate from their coffee machine.

The buffet is gone now, and in its place is Golden Treasures Seafood restaurant which, to some extent, keeps with the cheap theme with its discounted yum cha lunches which still attracts many (mostly Asian) locals here on the weekend. The decor is not the most interesting and reminants of the old buffet still remain- there's a bright neon dessert sign just above the entrance to the kitchen and a drinks bar on the side, which is quite lonely as you would expect since the restaurants serves tea to its diners.
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Lobster with E-Fu moodles

We're here for dinner, and more specifically, to try out their daily dinner specials which we had previously noticed when dining here at lunch (for their yum cha). We are disappointed to find that they have since removed those offers, instead, replacing them with less interesting 'weekly specials' (i.e. available every single day of the week).

The lobster is the only thing on the specials menu which really captures out attention, but mostly because of it's price. At $68, the lobster is cheap, even if a little small (900g) but of that is, of course, expected. The dish does its job in satisfying those lobster cravings, but we find the overall flavours of the dish a little bland, and lacking in lobster taste.

Sweet and Sour Pork

I have claimed that I haven't come across a sweet and sour pork that I don't like, and at first, this wasn't an exception, with its crispy fried batter covered in the usual bright red, sweet and sour sauce. A little mediocre but enjoyable all the same.After a few bites later however, one starts to notice something isn't quite right with this dish............Where is the meat? 
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