Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Breaky at Turtle Cafe


Twas a nice and sunny Sunday. Nice considering it was still winter.


Clouds billowing in the air like sails billowed by the wind.

Perfect for a date out in the sun.
<>

Sunday, 20 August 2006.

6:50am
Dropped of the Boy and the Housemate at the Airport for their flight to NZ. They were going snowboarding and skiing in Queenstown, NZ. (At this point, you're probably wondering.. err.. just the Boy and the Housemate???) Haha.. no. Though that is the first reaction I got from everyone I told. They were going with a group of 5 other.

Since NZ is an International destination, we had to be at the airport 2hrs prior to the departure time (9am). By the time they entered the departure lounge it was 8:50am and by the time I got home it was 9:40am.

10:30am
Was the time I was suppose to arrive at the cousin's in Elsternwick for a breakfast date

11:30am
Was the time I actually arrived. Haha. Somewhere between arriving home and leaving the house, I caught a cat nap. As a result, I had hungry cousins screaming abuses on the phone while I was on the way there. In typical cousins fashion, they weren't ready when I got there. So I got some time to snap some photos of the skyline outside J's place.

Our brunch destination was Turtle Cafe in Elwood, about 5mins down the road from Elsternwick station. When we got there it was already packed with regulars and there was not a free outdoor table in sight. So we headed inside and ordered, spotted a free table outside after we ordered and sent J to bag it while Z and I sat inside watching over our spot in the cafe (just in case she didn't get the table).

Our order came in about 15mins, which was pretty quick considering the crowd that was around. French toast w/ crispy bacon and maple syrup, Turtle Benedict (poached eggs, bacon, bubble and squeak w/ rocket salad topped w/ hollandaise sauce) and for drinks: 2 large cappuccino and 1 mocha.


The french toast was made with turkish bread. How bizzarre! I thought my using pane di casa for french toast was wrong, this was.... worse! Ok, it wasn't so bad, it was... interesting and crispy. My cousin (J) had been raving on about the best french toast she'd ever had and that she'll take me there when we do breaky next time.. and this was it. I was sort of expecting your traditional brioche instead of turkish bread. The french toast reminded me of this chinese deep fried dough stick those served with congee ("yow jao gwai" in cantonese, literally translated as "oil fried ghost") with maple syrup. It was still good, but I was kind of disappointed in the french toast department since I am one who prefers well coated french toast.

The Turtle Benedict was somewhat better. The poached eggs were perfect! I had heard about the eggs at Turtle from the review at The Breakfast Blog. Just as was reviewed by Jamie Wodetzki over at The Breakfast Blog, I found the bubble and squeak to be more of a potato croquet than bubble and squeak. But the eggs was perfect, I'm not sure about the hollandaise though. Must go for a round 2 just to be sure.

The cousins, having been there before reckoned the food quality dropped a bit on Sunday, probably because they were busy churning out food. The mocha was ok.. I still haven't found the best Mocha I've ever had though. Maybe I should make that my next adventure.. "In search of the perfect Mocha.."...

Turtle Cafe
34 Glenhuntly Road
Elwood
Tel +61 3 9525 6952.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Taste of Spring

Spring is in the air....



When I woke up on sunday and saw this outside my window, I couldn't resist trooping out in my pj's to take a photo of it. Nevermind that we have guests in the house who might think it was weird that this half awake, half stumbling person is stumbling towards the back of the house with a digital camera in hand...



For the last three year springs I have been in our rental place I have been wanting to take a photo of the tree next door. It's the neighbour's tree that is planted right by the fence outside my bedroom window. The lovely pink flowers reminds me of cherry blossoms but this is no sakura tree as I remember seeing berries on them in the summer. It might be some sort of berry tree..? No idea, I am ignorant when it comes to plants and especially native plants.




Next to this lovely pinky blossom tree is this flowery tree. Friends say it might be an apple blossoms tree. I'm not sure, I've never really noticed it (hehe)



All these pretty flowers, made me notice my surroundings a bit more. I, who have never stepped into garden to do anything more than water the plant or grass, have started to notice the tree next to the mail box with lovely purple flowers..(friend says it's sweet pea or something)


and the lemon tree in our backyard loaded with the fruits of its labour..



the mandariny/lime tree (I don't know the English name for it, in Cantonese it's called 'kut jai')




the huge bottlebrush tree in our backyard...



and just today I noticed that we have a magnolia tree out the front yard too.



Hmm.. I don't like spring, because spring is when I get red nosed from hayfever. But spring is certainly lovely sight to behold.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Spice attack!



Bought these from the organic shop Macro at The Glen Shopping Centre last week. Oh and a bottle of rose water too. (bottle minus rose water) Except that's all gone into the White Chocolate Pistacios Cupcakes (which I have yet to post about).

Next week the Boy's going to be in Queenstown NZ riding the snow. I will be eating, sleeping in otherwords living at his house because he's got cable (internet) and I don't hehe. Abuse his bandwidth and downloads whilst he's away. Hopefully, putting more love into my cooking.

Where is the love?


People killin', people dyin'
Children hurt and you hear them cryin'
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek

Father, Father, Father help us
Send us some guidance from above
'Cause people got me, got me questionin'
Where is the love (Love)

Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
I love the Black Eyed Peas, they're so funky and cool.

Where was the love tonight? Cooked my first meal this week and it was horrible. No love. I thought I was being really organised getting the meat marinated last night for tonight and got all the veges and everything sorted out. Was really looking forward to dinner tonight of Teriyaki Beef with Brocollini and Asparagus and rice (typical Chinaman meal, must have rice). The only thing that turned out good was the veges.

The beef was seared and popped in the oven to cook through. Looked good. Didn't taste so good. Even after pre-marinading it over night in the teriyaki sauce and turned over this morning before I went to work. Must be the bottled stuff, ran out of the ones I made a while ago (they were good) 3 pieces of steak. All tasted different. First piece was a bit gamey, second piece was tasteless and last piece was 'mmmm just nice'. Very goldilock affair. And they were all marinated in the same dish on the same day/night for the same amount of time!

Brocollini and asparagus pan-fried with left over teriyaki sauce + garlic. They turned out good. The rice on the other hand were soggy. :( I think I'm too used to cooking rice with microwaves. I used a rice cooker tonight and it was crap.

Where was the love...?? :(

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Touch up, cooking blues and Lemon tart

Been meaning to touch up the blog's look for a while and just got around to it. I like the rounders template but was going to do something to jazz it up a bit as it was "too blue/true blue".

Me thinks I've caught the 'cooking blues'

Haven't cooked a meal this week and it's already Tuesday.. ok.. maybe just Tuesday. But haven't felt like cooking lately. Lately, being from last week. Come to think of it, I think I only cooked twice last week.

My aunt (dad's sister) is here from KL and since she arrived the two cousins (her two daugthers living in Melbourne) have been bugging me to shout yum cha! My mum is not really into yum cha so she suggested that we have a big seafood banquet thing at home instead. Her argument was that instead of giving the restaurants a big packet for bad service, we should host ourselves and have an even bigger banquet for half the price! So as a result, we had dinner at my parent's on Sunday and my parents cooked the mains, I brought dessert, the cousins brought the wine and my aunt and grandma brought their appetites!

In my parent's typical style, they made an absolutely huge and faboulous 'Chinese Malaysian Seafood Feast'. I say Chinese Malaysian because I think the cooking style is fairly different to your regular HK/China Chinese cooking. There is a lot of spice influence in Malay cooking that gets translated into Chinese cooking in Malaysia. I think they call this 'Nyonya' style cooking. It's not to say that my parents cooked it Nyonya style, but the influence was there in some of the dishes.


Deep Fried Curried Cuttlefish, Rockling in XO sauce, Crab meat w/ mustard greens and garlic ginger sauce, Stir Fried Scallops with Ginger and Spring Onions, Lobak (meat pieces with water chesnut and spring onions wrapped in tofu skin), Fried Prawns in loads of spice (have no idea what was in it, my dad's new fried prawn dish) and a Roast Duck (Ok this was really out of place but another typical dish in our family gatherings)


Unfortunately, no photos.. everyone devoured everything before I got a chance to take a photo because they were all starving. However, I do have a photo of my takeaway lunch for yesterday hehe..


Clockwise from the top: Lobak, Rockling and XO Sauce, Left over Fried Prawns (not my Dad's special, they were all gone) and Deep Fried Curried Cuttlefish
<>

For dessert, I made a Lemon Tart and some White Chocolate Pistachios cup cakes with white chocolate ganache (which I will post next time with my Green Tea version).

Long have I searched for a Lemon Tart recipe that is similar to the Laurent or Brown's Lemon tart, one with a custardy filling instead of the thick cheese cake like texture of some. At last, I have found it! The latest recipe is one I copied from a magazine at a restaurant while I was waiting for my meal. I think it was Elle from back in 1999! If I recall it was a recipe used by some famous chef in some famous hotel somewhere hahah.. But it's definitely awesome!

I elected to use a Jamie Oliver shortcrust pastry base instead of the one in this recipe because I love the richer taste of the base. (plus even if I over cooked it, it still tastes good and crispy! hehe)

I had some problems with the baking the tart though :( Alv's ever untrustworthy oven turned off on me again. The recipe specifies a baking time of 50mins at 160degrees. I think the oven turned off on me half way through the cooking time as when I went back after 50mins the custard was still quite wobbly. Then I thought of baking it again at a higher temperature but covering the tart so as not to further burn it, but then because the curd hadn't cooked completely, the foil that touched the surface ruined the curd because parts of the curd stuck to the foil. :'( In the end I baked it for another 15mins at 160degrees and left it in the oven to cool.

The tart is best baked the day before and refrigerated overnight before consumed.

I must say it's the best lemon tart I've had since the Laurent's or Brown's hehe. Smooth, sweet yet lemony with a melt-in-your mouth lemon custard filling and sweet crust was absolutely delicious!! Best one I've made so far, and I've made quite a few this year. Luckily I saved a piece for Jules (my colleague whom I always share my treats with and vice versa) because my dad took the rest.


Too bad the filling kinda melted a bit. I forgot to refridgerate it when I got to mum's and as you can see from the photo, the curd was kinda melting a bit. I'm saving my white chocolate cupcake post to go with the other cup cake. Hopefully, there will be more opportunities to blog now that Alv has replaced the old wireless router. : )

Lemon Tart
*Source: Elle Magazine, 1999

Pastry:
*Elle Magazine version
100g Butter
150g Sugar
1 Egg
250g Plain Flour

Combine Butter and Sugar, Mix Well. Add Egg and Mix well. Add plain flour and combine until the mixture forms into a ball. Shape into a disk and refrigerate for 30mins. After 30mins, roll out pastry onto a 28cm tin. Bake blind for 10mins at 200degrees (preheated). Remove baking beans after 10mins and bake for another 10mins before letting it cool. Reduce oven to 160degrees

Pastry:
*Jamie O's version
#Makes 2 x 30cm/12 inch tart moulds

250g butter
200g icing sugar
medium pinch of salt
500g flour
4 egg yolks
4 tbsp cold milk/water

Cream butter, sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse in the flour and egg yolks until mixture combines and appear like coarse breadcrumbs. Add cold water/milk. Gently work dough together to form a ball of dough. Lightly flour and push, pat and squeeze dough into shape. (you want to get the dough into shape with the minimal amount of kneading to retain the short and flaky texture)^

Roll pastry into a large log (or two), wrap it in clingwrap and let it rest in the refridgerator for at least 1hr. Jamie's method for lining mould is to thinly slice slivers of pastry lengthways around 5mm and place the slivers in and around the mould and around the bottom of the tart (like a jigsaw puzzle) and then pushing and leveling the sides together. Once the tart is lined, place the tart in the freezer for about an hour before baking it in the oven at 180 deg C for 15mins. (or you can bake it blind)

^Over working the dough will cause your dough to be elastic, making the pastry chewy and shrink when you bake it in the oven



Filling:
6 Egg yolks
250g sugar
250ml lemon juice
250ml thickened cream

Whisk Egg Yolks and Sugar until pale and creamy. Add in Lemon Juice and Cream and mix well. Pour lemon filling onto tart pastry and return to oven for 50mins. Cool and refrigerate overnight before serving.

ps. Sorry about the poor instructions, I was trying to copy everything before the food arrived.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Au revoir Wendy



Today our dear friend Wendy leaves Melbourne for Vancouver, enroute tothe famous Columbia School of Law/Columbia Law School (whichever is correct), Columbia University NY to complete her Masters in Law. As a farewell celebration I offered to cook her a feast before she commences her 'poor overseas student eating habits' in NY. Since W is a vegetarian, I came up with a simple menu focussing on desserts hehe..

Farewell Dinner for Wendy
Sunday, 30 July2006
Alv's Place

Entree:
Beans salad w/ grape tomatoes and haloumi
<>
Main:
Chilli Linguine w/ a ragout of oriental mushrooms (Tetsuya Style)
<>
Dessert:
Jaffa mousse w/ Cointreau orange
Balsamic strawberries

Being a non-vegetarian I had a bit of a hard time trying to figure out a menu that would appeal to the three of us and since we all love desserts I figured that I should make that the prominent dish of the day. When I was discussing the idea with TH and some of my colleagues at work they all said something along the lines off.. "That's easy, just make a salad". Luckily, I chose the right salad because that day W told us that she didn't really like/eat 'raw vegetables'. We were like "SHOCKED" and then I was like "phew" because the only raw ingredient in my beans salad was the tomatoes. The three of us had a discussion on why/how the general perception of non-vegetarians were that 'all vegetarians eat salad.. ie. lettuce/leafs, tomatoes, carrots etc' and that W was weird. That turned into a funny discussion full of "whats", "no ways" and "you're nqr" and loads of laughters. Unfortunately, I have no photo of my beans salad because the SDcard on my camera decided to report that 'the card has not been formatted and requires formatting' before I could use it again. Photo of Beans salad courtesy of W. (Thanks W!)

Entree



The beans were flat beans and green beans, sliced, blanched and dressed with EVOO, 2tbsp lemon juice and S&P, haloumi cheese was pan fried and the salad was assembled with the cheese, halved grape tomatoes and dressed with the dressing from the beans and mint and basil leaves. The salad was very refreshing albeit salty, this was my first time cooking with haloumi cheese and boy did I get a salt attack from that. Other than that it was good, W surprisingly loved the salt in the cheese so we fed her the rest of my cheese and all the left overs.

Main



I bought these chilli linguine at Macro, the new organic shop at The Glen. They're freshly made and then frozen. Sold in packs of 300g for $8.95 each. Doesn't look much here but boy was it delicious. You could even taste the chilli in the pasta. Sweet. A while ago I was a friend's place and saw Tetsuya Wakuda's Recipes from Australia's Most Acclaimed Chef and copied the recipe for Mushroom Ragout with Linguine. The ingredients looked interesting at that time. Shimeji mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, a bit of mirin, sake, soy sauce and chicken stock. When I saw the chilli linguine at Macro I knew at once what to make for W. Substitute the chicken stock for vegetable stock and it'd be perfect.



I was a bit disappointed with the end result though. It was rather tasteless?? It was not what I expected it to be, I wonder if it's because I substituted the chicken stock with vegetable stock? Or because I tripled the pasta amount? (but then I tripled the rest of the sauce amout too) Hmm I think, I will have to give this another go next time.

Desserts

On to desserts.. yay! About the only thing that turned out right that day. hahah.. Ok perhaps I'm too harsh a judge on myself but about the only thing that perfect in my opinion was the strawberries! (If I stuff even that up I'd probably hang up my apron hahah)



Jaffa orange mousse with cointreau infused oranges. Melt about 140g of chocolate with 2 tbsp of Cointreau, add 4 egg yolks one by one and let it cool meanwhile whip cream and fold in 4 tbsp of cocoa powder into the cream. Once thats done, fold cream into chocolate and mix well. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Peel oranges, slice and marinate in about 3 tbsp of cointreau until serving.

Sounds pretty simple isn't it? I even got the mousse texture right this time because I whipped the cream properly. Except I was too lazy to sift the cocoa powder before folding into the cream, so there's bits and pieces of cocoa powder in it. hahah.. oh well.. It was still delicious, I love the Cointreau infused oranges.



We had a great and late night. Chatted, drinking, eating and laughing. Will miss W, she'll be in NY for a year, so it's only me and TH left. W, see you in 12 months time!





Saturday, August 05, 2006

Eomeote # 17 - Eggsperts cry fowl!


Eomeote
trans: End of month eggs on toast extravaganza

  1. A food blogging event
  2. Brainchild of Jeanne (cooksister)
  3. Organised montly by Jeanne at: cooksister.typepad.com
  4. Essential ingredients: eggs and bread (hence eggs on toast)
  5. Current event number: #17
  6. Current theme: Tabloid Headlines
Recently, I discovered that the local Baker’s Delight doesn’t make/sell sour dough bread. The closest equivalent bread in their range is the Pane di casa. According to the Baker’s Delight webpage the Pane di casa is characterised by a hard, chewy crust and dense texture and is ideal for bruschettas.
“But I don’t feel like bruschetta, I wanna eat french toast!”

Right about now you’re probably wondering what does sour dough have to do french toast??? It doesn’t.! I actually wanted it for some thing else, but somewhere in there my taste buds got confused and decided they wanted some french toast on Saturday instead of poached eggs w/ wilted spinach on toast (so pane di casa would’ve been fine for that).

Traditionally, french toasts are made with either white bread or brioche, which I have neither, so I decided to give it a go anyway. Sometimes, it doesn’t take much to satisfy this girl’s cravings.

Since we didn’t have any white bread nor could I be bothered going out to find good decent brioche, I decided to give it ago and make a pane di casa french toast. I must say, it doesn’t taste too bad if you don’t mind your french toast being a bit dense. I like crusty ‘crust’ anyway, so that worked out fine for me. I like my french toast - sweet, so I dusted some icing sugar and added maple syrup to suit my taste. Yumm.. One girl’s taste buds satisfied… for now..

Incidentally, after I made this I went surfing and discovered that is the Eomeote time off the month! After much deliberation and creative soul searching, I came up with this as my first ever entry to this event.

Ed: Originally made this as my headline article first, but then I decided that I didn't like it so I made the one up the top instead. Somewhat more satisfied, though I still don't like it. Must be the perfectionist in me. :p