Sunday, December 10, 2006

Happy Birthday Uncle Alvin!!

Uncle Alvin and Bethany

Celebrated on: Saturday, 18.11.2006

Almost a month late, but... better late than never!

This is actually my second attempt at writing this post. My first attempt was after the party on the day of his birthday. 3/4 into writing the post, I was greeted by the my old friend the 'blue screen of death'! After that, I just threw my hand in disgust and gave up.. until now.

The reason: well... my friend M (who's currently at home enjoying motherhood) reads my blog fairly regularly. In fact she tells me that she checks out this place almost everytime she logs on to check her emails etc. I was strictly advised last Thursday when I saw her at the office xmas party that I "need to update my blog more regularly" so that she has something new to read.

So M, if you're reading this... I updated today.. just for you!! :D

For Alv's birthday, we had some friends and family over for the occasion. As usual, the family arrived first, the friends, an hour later. Alv's Mum and I had a bit of a misunderstanding about the food. I was under the impression that I was taking care of all the food for the day but it turned out that she went out and bought some meat as well the day before so we ended up eating "leftovers" for about 3 days after the bbq.

In typical bbq at Alv's fashion, (we had a bbq last year for his 25th birthday) he does all the cooking and we do all the eating. These were some of the things we served up that day:

BBQ Fare:
Sausages: Plain BBQ sausages, Organic Lamb sausages,
Organic pork sausages and some Kransky
Chicken tenderloins marinated w/ Sumac and Paprika
Scotch steaks
Grilled pork balls
Rocket, sundried tomatoes and goats cheese salad w/ balsamic dressing
Cheese, Cucumber and cherry tomatoes platter
Potato salad

For dessert:
Raspberry Semi Freddo
Black Forest cheesecake

BBQ Fare

The chicken, pork patties and salads were my contribution to the bbq. The pork patties (not pictured) were from one of Jill Dupleix's recipe on The Times Online, Food & Drink section. It is absolutely delicious! I've made it once before and had the lot with rice paper, mint leaves, lettuce and the sauce. I love how the fish sauce brings out the sweetness of the pork and the fresh taste the mint and lettuce brings to the meal. Plus it smells heavenly when grilled on the barbie. It's probably better when served as per Jill's suggestions, but I still enjoyed it despite the lack of mint, lettuce and the sauce. Kinda brings something different to the whole bbq affair. You can find the recipe here.

The chicken tenderloins, (also not pictured) here was a bit of a disappointment, they were from the AWW Low Fat cookbook that I purchased a few months ago when I was really gung-ho about low fat eating. (Not anymore now, can't eat low fat food because I haven't been doing the cooking.. Alv's mum has been doing all the cooking since I moved in, and (I'm generalising here but..) asian mum's don't really do low fat cooking..?) It looked pretty good and the ingredients were fairly simple to make. It looked so good that I marinated about 1kg of them.

The disappointing thing was the taste, it ended up leaving a sour taste in my mouth. Had to lace it with sweet chilli sauce for some extra flavour and zing. Guess who had to eat it all up?? Sigh.. maybe it just wasn't well marinated enough? After all, I was making like double the amount the recipe suggested? I might give it ago next time, in smaller dosage. (SOMEONE suggested that I had a case of dyslexia that day and couldn't read recipes properly!) Humph.. the nerve..

Rocket, Sundried Tomatoes and Goat's Cheese salad
Rocket, semi dried tomatoes and goats cheese salad.

Looks kinda oily here, but I assure you it wasn't. A packet of rocket leaves (approx 150g), a small tub of semi dried tomatoes from the deli (approx 1 large scoop) and fresh soft goats cheese (as much as you like); a few splashes of good extra virgin olive oil, a generous splash of balsamic vinegar (because I like balsamic vinegar); tossed together and served.

Cherry Tomatoes and Cucumber

Someone ate all the cheese on this platter! Just plain old cucumber and cherry tomatoes, but I love the colour contrast on the plate, so I took a photo of it (Can you see the 'Made in Australia' kanga symbol on the top right corner?)

The potato salad is one of my favourite "throw everything together" recipe. Boiled baby potatoes, pan fried bacon, boiled eggs and parsley. Chop them up into small pieces, throw everything together and mix with some mayo (about 1/4 cup), sour cream (about 1/4 cup), 1/2 tbsp of dijon mustard, salt, pepper (to taste) and lots of parsley. I don't really have a proper recipe for this, it's just something I throw together with whatever's in the fridge. I sometimes add dijonaise into the lot too if I have any in the fridge.


Raspberry Semi Freddo

Raspberry semi freddo, from the cover of the latest issue (Issue 30) of Donna Hay magazine. It doesn't look as good as the cover, but tastes awesome! Awesome like, Bulla Frozen Yoghurt because it tastes like ice cream, but is yoghurt and it's 97% fat free! So says the packaging anyway.

If you read the current issue, Donna serves her in a small cup and wraps baking paper around the cup to give it an extra height. I couldn't be bothered with that, found these takeaway tubs at a party stall in Prahran Market and in typical takeaway container fashion, they even comes with a cover for easy storage! So I can just stick them all in the freezer, covered and not have to worry about odour contamination. Imagine your ice cream tasting like frozen fish..(eww)

Raspberry Semi Freddo
*Issue 30, Donna Hay Magazine, 2006

3 eggs
2 egg yolks (extra)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (225g) caster sugar
500g frozen raspberries, crushed
1 + 3/4 cup single/pouring cream

Place eggs, egg yolks, vanilla and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk the ingredients with a hand-held beater for 4-5minutes or until heated, thick and pale. Remove from heat and continue whisking until cool. Gently fold in crushed raspberries through the egg mixture and set aside.

In another bowl, whisk cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold in the egg mixture into the cream until just combined.

*Donna suggests that you wrap a piece of bnaking paper around 6 x 1cup capacity serving glasses, ensuring that it stands at least 1cm above the rim of the glass. Secure paper with sticky tape.

The containers that I used were less than 1 cup, probably about 2/3 cup and I ended up filling about 14 of them up to 0.5 cm before the top.

Spoon mixture into glasses and freeze for 4-6hours until firm. (Remove the paper before serving.)

Serves 6 x 1cup glasses/containers.

Actually, my only criticism of Donna's recipe was that she didn't mention that it needs to be thawed slightly before serving. Otherwise the texture becomes that of 'ice-cream' not semi-frozen which is what a 'semi freddo' is suppose to be. So I suggest you remove it from the freezer and leave it in the fridge to thaw a bit (say 15min?) before serving.


Black Forrest Cheesecake

This Black Forest Cheesecake is from the Australian Women's Weekly (AWW) Food We Love cookbook. For his birthday cake, Alv wanted a strawberry cheese cake (like the ones at Cafe Greco at Crown) from The Cheesecake shop. Now, I don't know about you, I am not that big of a fan of the cakes from The Cheesecake shop and I don't think paying $20+ for a cheesecake is worth it when your girlfriend/boy-friend (*wink* I am talking about you TH!) can make you one for less than the price and effort to drive all the way to Clayton from Glen Waverley to get one. Plus, it would be even more embarrasing for 'the girlfriend' if the friends go, "How come you didn't make him a birthday cake, like how you made one for V??"

No, I wasn't really looking out for my reputation LOL. I just thought it was silly and was very insulted when he "suggested" that I "couldn't" possibly make a cheesecake that is like the ones at Cafe Greco. (ie. unbaked cheesecake with a layer of strawberries and gelatiney topping)

I went home and stuck about 10 different cookbooks with various similar cheesecake recipes under his nose the day before until he gave up and picked this Black Forest Cheesecake because it was: a) Black Forest and b) resembled the cake that he wanted the most. *rolled eyes*

Nevertheless, it was fun making this cheesecake. It's a fairly simple recipe and has easy to follow instructions. My only obstacle was pressing the crushed biscuits into the tin to form the crust and mould for the cake. I modified the recipe for the crust a bit.

The original recipe asks for chocolate biscuits, but I substituted the chocolate biscuits for digestives and maltesers. I saw one of Jamie Oliver's live stage shows on tv once when he made a New York Cheesecake where he crushed a packet of digestives biscuits and a packet of maltesers and used them as base for the cheesecake. Always wanted to try that combo since I saw it done on tv and I finally got the chance to do so.

Funnily enough, I have never really made a cheesecake before this cake... ever! Especially not the unbaked kind. The only cheesecake I have ever made was a Japanese cheesecake recipe I got from a friend's mum. I'm not sure it even qualifies as a cheesecake if it wasn't for the cream cheese that was in it. The texture of the cake is so light and fluffy that when I first tasted it it, I racked my brain for a whole 10minutes trying to figure out what was in it.

Black Forest Cheesecake
*Adapted from AWW Food We Love cookbook.


Biscuit base:
250g plain chocolate biscuit**
250g digestive biscuits
200g maltesers (feel free to use more if you like maltesers ;) )
125g butter, melted

Pre-heat oven to 180 deg C. In a food processor, blend/crush digestive biscuits until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Crush maltesers in a glad bag or sealed plastic bag. Combine butter, maltesers and crushed biscuits in a large bowl and mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and sides of a 25cm springform tin. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. (this is so that the chocolate melts into the mixture)

3 tsp of gelatine powder
1/2 cup (125ml) water
250g packet cream cheese, softened
3/4 sup (165g) caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
300ml thickened cream
425g can pitted black cherries
3/4 cup of reserved cherry syrup

Sprinkle gelatine over water in a small heat proof jug and stand jug in a small saucepan of simmering water. Stir until gelatine dissolves, remove jug from the saucepan and let cool.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and juice in a small bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Transfer mixture into a large bowl. In another bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form and fold the cream mixture into the cheese mixture in two batches. Then fold in the gelatine mixture.

Drain the pitted cherries and divide cherries into two portions.

Spoon 1/3 of the cheese mixture into the biscuit base and top the first layer with cherries. Repeat with the remaining cherry and cheese mixture. Refrigerate for about 20 - 30minutes until the mixture is firm.

1 tbsp corn flour
1 tsbp caster sugar
1 tbsp dark rum (optional if not using rum, replace with 1 extra tbsp of cherry syrup)
3/4 cup reserved cherry syrup
Remainder of the cherries

Blend cornflour and sugar with reserved cherry syrup (3/4 cup) in a small saucepan. Stir mixture over low heat until it boils and thicken, stir in rum, turn off the stove and let it cool for about 10minutes.

When the cheesecake mixture is firm, spread cooled topping over cheesecake, swirling gently into the cheese mixture. Top with remainder of the cherries. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Note: The original recipe uses all of the cherries in the cheesecake mixture. I decided that it would look prettier with some cherries on top, so I divided the cherries into two portions. Feel free to do otherwise :)

**As suggested in the original recipe

Black Forrest Cheesecake

The digestive + malteser combo makes a lovely crust for the cheesecake. I probably should've put in the whole bag of maltesers because you could only taste some of the chocolate and malt in the crust. Definitely worth trying. :)

So, I stayed up til 3am on Saturday night making desserts and marinating the food and woke up at 8:30am the next day to do the salads and last minute pressie shopping. Totally plastered by the time everyone left at 5:00 - 5:30pm. Without any alcohol assistance, crashed on the bed and slept til 8pm that night.

The things we girl friends do for them boys. Hummph!

>>Some photos from that day


eliza said...

your black forest cheesecake looks heavenly! what a lucky weather you have in december in contrast with ours in the US :)

Ellie said...

Oh my god - can I come over for your next bbq?? Look at all that fooooooood *drools*

Looks like Uncle Alvin had an awesome bday party! :)