Thursday, April 15, 2010

Easter Show 2010

I wanted to post this before the easter show actually ended, because it doesn't seem so relevant now that it's ended.....if you get what I mean. But I blog and edit photos really slowly which is why I only finished editing the photos today. Editing photos is the most boring part of blogging, if you ask me. Anyways.....

It's been 5 years since I last went to the easter show, so it was about time I went again. I'd wanted to go since a while ago, after reading various blogs about it. You see, when I last went, I was too young to care about all the events and food- I went for the rides and the showbags (and I guess, to a certain extent, the animals). I tried convincing my parents to take me, but they'd rather spend a couple of hundred dollars elsewhere (we used to go a lot when I was in primary school). Luckily, there's always my friends and so I found myself with a group of friends at Olympic Park Station bright and early at 11 am one morning (fine, 11 might not be early for most people, but that's my waking up time in the holidays =] )

It was a slightly gloomy day. The dark clouds loomed over us, threatening to rain. But it had already rained in the morning so we were prepared, with an umbrella each and determined not to let a bit of water ruin our day. Luckily, it didn't end up raining and the weather was pretty good- not to hot and not too cold! Although the darkness wasn't too great for photo taking.......

We stopped by the Coca Cola Carnival first, possibly the main reason some of us were here. Being so early, there weren't too many people and the wait for most of the rides was relatively short. However, at around $7 a ride, it wasn't cheap so deciding which rides to go on took longer than actually going on the ride, since there were so many of them- most so huge we struggled to understand how they got tranported here.Unfortunately for me, I couldn't go on almost all the rides because of my huge weakness of getting dizzy extremely easily (I can't even sit backwards on a bus)- almost every ride goes round in circles. I'd probably have better luck on the kid's rides.

I got on this one ride though, as it didn't look too dizzying. From the moment I jumped on (or rather, struggled to jump on as it was too high....), with my feet dangling from the ground, I regretted it. The ride itself is not scary, and infact probably quite fun except that two seconds onto the ride, I got an awful dizzy feeling. *sigh* I closed my eyes for the rest of the ride, swearing I won't go anything else that spins- even slightly.

My friends however, continue to try the scary rides, most of which which I wouldn't go on even if I didn't get dizzy. It's fun watching them though.

At 12 o'clock, we head over to the main arena to watch the Robosaurus, only to find out that I remembered the time wrong, and the Robosaurus actually started at 12:20. With half and hour or so to spare, we sit down to relax (yes, we're getting tired already) until we heard the sound of motor cars and decide to get a seat in the stadium. Being a weekday, the stadium isn't as full as it would have been during the easter weekend. It's only about half full, but it's still capable of making quite a loud noise, cheering for each stunt done by the motorcyclists.

The Robosaurus arrives about 10 minutes late, whilst the motorcyclists do more stunts, probably to fill in time....hehe. Robosaurus doesn't dissappoint though, and the audience are delighted to see the huge robot as it circles the stadium, breathing fire and eating (or burning) cars.....

We then visited the showbag hall, where we don't really make many purchases apart from a Diva showbag for my sister. Gosh, that was embarassing- lining up with a bunch of 10 year olds (and I thought Diva was a teenager thing?) and then lining up again after discovering that the showbag was missing a set of earrings. I guess it was worth it though, as my sister was extremely happy when I gave it to her(and has been wearing the accessories out ever since).

The cakes are situated just next door to the showbag hall so we head over there- the cakes seem to be really popular. There were a lot of people are pointing their cameras at the cakes, making me wonder if any of them were food bloggers.....tehehe. The cakes are very creative-

But I think everybody's favourite this year was this facebook cake- which, as my friend said, is representative of our generation =P

Although the cakes seem to be the centre of attention, we also look around at the other crafts. In the knitting section, we spot this really cute Sackboy! Which makes me wish I could knit like that......and reminds me of a half knitted bear I have somewhere (which looks nothing like a bear, which is why I gave up anyways.....). Actually, I think I'll stick to baking.

Lunch at the Easter show isn't cheap so we spent a long time walking around something to eat- or rather, I dragged my friend around to look at all the food......tehehe. I wanted to find something unsual, or something I've never had before so I ended up choosing a ravioli dish. Yup- I've never had ravioli before. It was delicious, if a little smaller than I had expected but was filling enough to last me a little longer. I forgot to bring a bottle of water, but the price of water ($3.50) meant I really didn't want to waste such money so I end up drinking the can of coca cola and sparkling apple juice from my Good Taste show bag (which was also extremely heavy......).

My friend had a steak burger and I manage to snap of photo of it before my camera battery dies (whoops, forgot to charge it!) so I have not more photos of the rest of the day, which mostly included (smelly) animals. And very sore feet. But you probably didn't want to know about that anyway =]

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tingha Palace

We chose Tingha Palace for a nice family dinner for a few reasons: it has a nice interior design, the food is not too bad and the best thing is that it's nice and quiet. On this day however, it was a little noisier than usual as there was a company was holding an awards ceremony (or something like that) right next to us (they only half fenced it off). Although it was sorta akward, it ended up being quite interesting to see what food they served (and how much of it was wasted!) and to see most of the employees sit there looking extremely bored whilst the presenters droned on and on and on.

Complimentary Snacks

The menu is quite extensive, with a permanent menu, a seafood menu and some other random menu in chinese. I find myself eating peanuts (with chopsticks) simply out of boredom whilst my parents decide on what to order. Not that I actually like peanuts.

I guess I'm lucky I don't have to be the one to do the choosing- I'd probably take an hour or so =]

You' d be forgiven for not knowing what this is- even my parents didn't when they looked back at the picture. And they even ATE it. It's actually (mud) crab. I grabbed a leg because its one of the easiest bits to eat- well the bit above the actual leg anyway, as there is no shell cracking involved. I like to leave most of the shell cracking bit to my dad because I'm too lazy to do it and apparently seeing me attacking a crab with a nutcracker is really scary =]

The crab comes covered with a thick, salty sauce on a bed of yi-mein (e-fu noodles) and a generous amount of scallions to top it all off. Eating crab is extremely messy, especially when it is covered with sauce. Our fingers are covered with sauce and consequently so is the nutcracker and our chopsticks. Luckily crab comes with a bowl of hot tea to wash our hands and a pile of towels to wipe them. The only thing not covered in sauce are the crab shells, which we spend forever sucking until they are almost flavourless. The sauce has a strong crab taste and so we I end up licking all the sauce off my fingers too.......

Stir fried Meat with Wasabi

The combination of wasabi with meat may seem strange at first, especially if you're like me, and have only had wasabi with cold sashimi. It is actually quite good, especially as it isn't actually very hot (as in spicy hot) for some weird reason. The meat is also very tender, which makes you wonder what on earth they've been doing with the meat....


Unfortunately I have no idea about the name of the dish or the name of the red things which are the main ingredient in this dish. This stir fry of mushrooms and the 'red things' (which are some sort of seafood which I usually eat raw) would have been okay except that the 'red things' weren't cooked to well and had a really weird texture....

Yeung Chow Fried Rice

The one thing we never order at chinese restaurants is plain rice. Because plain rice is usually charged per head at around $2 (I think??) Since we don't eat a lot of rice anyways, fried rice is slightly better value and ends up costing almost the same.

We order the yeung chow fried rice as it is the cheapest of the fried rices ($12.80). The frieddrice isn't bad - it's got a good amount of bbq pork, prawns, peas and egg througout. Not that we actually notice how good it tastes- for us, rice is only there to accompany the other dishes. We're not big fans of rice.

Stir Fried Seafood with Vegetables (I'm sure its real name is a lot more interesting)

The fact that this dish had seafood in it meant that it was quite pricey but it wasn't really worth it as it didn't taste good. The presentation itself isn't too appealing and the flavours were quite bland.

Orange Flavoured Fried Pork (I'm not any good at naming dishes....)

Citrus and fried pork sounds like an interesting combination which could work quite well. Unfortunately, in this case the flavours didn't quite work out and we didn't end up finishing it. This only thing that saved this dish was the fact that it was friedwell, giving it a good crispy and crunchy texture.

Overall, we ordered quite a lot for the four of us and ended up taking some of it home.

Complimentary Dessert

The great thing about eating at chinese restaurants like these is that they give you complimentary dessert- two slices of orange, a small cookie and a fried donut like thing for every persson. The round ball thing really tastes just like a donut sprinkled with sugar (not quite sure what its called in english). The cookie is buttery and soft (asian style) and the oranges are...oranges.

Complimentary Red Bean dessert

Like most other chinese restaurants, the red bean dessert is too watery for my liking- you can't even SEE the beans in the photo. I much rather have my mum's red bean dessert- but I happily gulp it all down. I like red beans =]

When we leave, the presentation seems like it's only about half way done. The employees are looking as sleepy as ever and I really hope I don't have to go to these things in the future =]

Tingha Palace
Parramatta Leagues
Level 1, 13-15 O'Conell Street
Parramatta NSW 2150

Tingha Palace (Parramatta Leagues Club) on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cocktail Buns


I’m extremely happy to say: the school holidays have finally arrived! And I’m also proud to tell you that I spent my first three of these precious days baking (duh!), eating and catching up on the sleep I've been deprived of over the last two weeks. No longer do I have to half blog-half study (tehehe)- I can actually sit down and blog properly. It actually feels strange- it's been so long since I've done so!

I usually like to spend the last week or so of the term planning what I'll do in the holidays. Usually, this involves me writing a huge list of things I want to do but by the time I get to the holidays, I don't actually feel lilke doing any of it (until the last two days of the holidays). This time, I ended up writing a list of things that I wanted to make (food, of course) which ended up with almost 100 different recipes I wanted to try. And these were only things I'd read about in the last 2 weeks or so! You see, the last two weeks were exams, and when I try to study, I often end up looking at a lot more blogs than I would normally- I'm terribly good at procrastinating =]

Of course, I'll be lucky if I even end up making 10 of these things, but I guess we'll just have to see. Meanwhile, there are these cute little cocktail buns I made a while ago:

This was actually not my first attempt at making cocktail buns, although the first probably didn't really count. The first was a couple of years ago when I wasn't all too familiar with baking. I didn't have any seasame seeds in the house and was not bothered making mexican cream so I decided to make cocktail buns in the shape of turtles (I used to be a bit more creative!) Unfortunately, the yeast I used was probably dead, and so after 6 hours of proofing, they weren't any bigger than they originally were. The buns did not really taste like bread and we ended up throwing the whole lot in the bin. I wasn't going to be making cocktail buns for a while!

After figuring out that it was the yeast's fault, and also being a bit more familiar with bread making, I decided to try these again (but with a different recipe) following a request from my sister. I've never actually liked cocktail buns- whenever we go to Asian bakeries,I usually go for curry buns whilst my sister and dad will choose cocktail buns. However, cocktail buns are a classic, and I knew that if I made them I would eat them so I went ahead and made them. I used the straight dough method, for its simplicity and the fact that I knew it probably wouldn't fail on me.

The filling had a surpiringly high amount of butter- who would have thought that these innocent little cocktail buns had so much fat in the filling? The fact that the mexican cream was made out of butter, flour and sugar was also surprising- I'd thought it was made out of flour, sugar and water, like the top of hot cross buns. The recipe was extremely vague- it said to mix all the ingredients together. Perahps I did it wrong, but the mexican cream was not 'creamy' at all- it was more like pastry dough. I tried to heat it and pipe it but it was too stiff to pipe so I ended up rolling it out and sticking it on. It looks pretty bad but at least it made the buns sorta resemble cocktail buns!

The buns didn't turn out as terrible as my first attempt but nowhere near as good as the ones we get from the bakery. The mexican cream was mostly a failure- it turned out tasting like shortcrust pastry. However, the filling tasted a lot like that of normal cocktail buns which we buy! Other than the splotchy appearance, the bread itself wasn't too bad- it was soft and fluffylike most home baked breads. This didn't last too long though- they turned hard the next day, and even a zap in the microwave help much. I guess that's what happens with bread made with the straight method!

The one thing I learnt from this experience though, was that cocktail buns are a lot unhealthier than they may seem. I think the amount of butter in the filling scared my sister- she doesn't eat cocktail buns as frequently these days! Not that I really care anyway, even if I liked them, which I think is the second thing I learnt- I really don't like them!

Recipe from Hong Kong Breads by Yau Yung Ling

Cocktail Bun Recipe

448g strong flour
112g caster sugar
7g yeast
42g butter
168g warm water
1 egg (about 50g)
56g milk
Some yellow food colouring- egg yellow or lemon yellow (optional)
4g bread additive (I’m guessing its bread improver?)

56g soft flour (I used cake/low gluten flour)
56g coconut shreds
70g soft butter
70g vegetable butter (I used margarine)
56g sugar
42g milk powder

Mexican Cream
84g Strong Flour
56g butter
28g sugar

Some beaten egg
Some sesame seeds

Place all ingredients except butter into bread machine (according to the directions your bread machine manual!) Set to Dough function. Add in the butter after 8 ~ 10 mins into the kneading cycle. When the dough has finished kneading, remove dough from machine and put it in a bowl covered with cling wrap

Let ferment for 60 minutes, or until double in volume.

Filling- Mix all butter and sugar to milky white colour. Mix in all other ingredients

Divide he fermented dough into 16 portions. Add the filling and make into a piglet shape (or just the shape of a cocktail bun!) and put on a baking tray to let prove until double in size (I covered it with cling wrap)

Mexican Cream -Mix all ingredients together

Brush egg wash on top and pipe some Mexican cream on and top with sesame seeds. Bake at 200oC for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden.

Btw, Happy Easter to everyone!
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