Thursday, October 26, 2006

SHF24 & Happy Birthday Mum!

Chocolate Pistachios petit fours, opera cake style


When I first discovered that Jeanne of Cooksister had put out the call for entries for the 24th edition of Sugar High Friday (SHF24), I panicked! I really wanted to participate but I wasn't sure whether I would be able to find the time for you see, my dear friend Mel's wedding is this weekend (28.10.2006) and I'm in the wedding party.

The last two weeks have come and gone very quickly and with the Hen's Weekend, Kitchen Tea and work etc, I've not had a free weekend since the start of October and wasn't sure if I could find the time to participate. Then I realised, crap, it's me Mum's Birthday on Tuesday, I had better make time! So in the end I decided to kill two birds with one stone and made a teeny version for SHF and a bigger version for mum. :) Brilliant!

Being a big fan of canapes and petit fours, Jeanne declared the theme for SHF24 to be "Little Bites of Delight".

Hurray! I am a sucker for little food things and am more than happy to oblige. I started off wanting to make little white chocolate pistachios cupcakes that I know Mum really liked when I made it for a family dinner back in August. Then when I got sick early this week, I spent some of my recovery time ticking off items in my pantry (in my head) and realised that I didn't have enough rosewater for the recipe. Then I decided that I wanted some butter cream to go with it instead of a white chocolate ganache (which was what I did last time) and I wanted to top them with pistachios and dark chocolate ganache to counter the sweetness of the cake.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I started off making white chocolate pistachios cupcakes and ended up with this, an operaish cake. I am constantly adapting recipes and finding shortcuts to baking, so I guess it came as no surprised to me that I ended up with this cake (and a lot more work than I had intended to begin with).

I made and assembled this cake over three days. Part 1: The pistachio cake layers was made on Tuesday night, Part 2: Assembling the cake (cutting and slathering the butter cream and chocolate) was done on Wednesday night and Part 3: The toppings and cutting the cakes to size was done this (Thursday) morning.

Hurray to me! I made it and posted in time!

Petit fours


Chocolate Pistachios Layered cake (petit fours style)

Ingredients:
60g white chocolate chopped roughly
175ml water
45g pistachio nuts
100g butter, softened
220g brown sugar
2 eggs
100g self raising flour
2 tbsp plain flour

Part 1: Cake
Melt white chocolate with water in a small saucepan and set aside. Process pistachio nuts until fine. Beat butter, sugar and eggs in a small bowl with electric mixer until combined. Fold in sifted flours, ground pistachios and warm chocolate into the mix. Divide batter into two portions and pour one portion of batter into a small cookie pan (I used a 33.7cm x 22.5cm and 1cm deep) and smooth into flat layer. Bake in the oven for about 6-8mins. Cool and remove from pan and repeat with remainder portion.

Makes 2 layers

Part 2: Assembling the cake

Butter cream
125g butter, softened
240g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp milk

Beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth and beat in sifted icing sugar and milk in two batches.

Makes more than enough cream for this cake.

Chocolate Ganache
120ml cream
200g dark chocolate, chopped

In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil and pour over chcolate in a small bowl, stir until smooth. Cover the bowl and stand at room temperature until ganache is spreadable.

Makes enough ganache to cover both cakes and extra.

Caramelised pistachios
1/4 cup caster sugar
2tbsp water
5g butter
1/4 cup pistachios

Roast pistachios at 180 deg C until browned (approx 5mins). Melt sugar and water in a saucepan without stirring and bring it to a boil. When the sugar starts to change in colour add in pistachios and ensure the nuts are well coated. Stir in butter towards the end. Pour onto a foil/non stick baking paper lined plate and separate the nuts.

This recipe makes more than enough for decorations.

Assembling the cake:
To assemble the cake, first divide each layer into four portions. Assemble the cake by sandwiching butter cream and cake. Once you've assembled the cake, spread chocolate ganache onto the cake and smooth the ganache with a palate knife.

*For the petit fours, I only spread the ganache on the top layer of the cake.

Part 3: Cutting and decorating cake to size

This is the part where I stuffed up. I should've done Part 2 and 3 on the same day. But since I didn't, I wasn't able to decorate the cakes properly.

What you should do, is divide the cake into two portions. Decorate Portion 1 with crushed pistachios and set aside. To serve, cut the cake to approximately 1" x 1" squares with a hot knife.

Crushed pistachios topping

Topped w/ crushed pistachio nuts

With portion 2, cut the cake to 1" x 1" with a hot knife and top with a caramalised pistachio.

Caramalised pistachios top

Topped w/ Caramalised Pistachios

The verdict: This cake needs to be served with a warning. It is a great sugar hit and I'm glad I went with the dark chocolate ganache because it definitely helped a lot with moderating the sweetness.

The disaster: You might notice that the dark chocolate ganache has a distinct oily dull shine on it. I'm not sure whether it was the quality of the chocolate (I used 63% couverture) or if the bowl/saucepan wasn't cleaned properly. The ganache ended up being really oily and wouldn't hold together when I was stirring it. It was fine once it had set, but if you look closely, there are blotches of 'oil' residue on the surface. :( Hmm..

The lessons learnt: never do this unless you
have plenty of time to spare and never wait til the ganache has cooled before topping it with crushed nuts. They don't stick very well.. (dohh...!)


Chocolate Pistachios cake - Large version


The larger version I made for my Mum looks more like a large mudcake topped with pistachio nuts. But do not be fooled! Beneath the ganache lays 4 (not so thin) layers of cake sandwiched with butter cream.
Happy Belated Birthday Mum! (and to T and Rox too)


Sugar High Friday is an International Food blogging even created by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess.

DMBLGIT #11 Entry - Hosted by Spittoon Extra

Welcome Back and Catch up party for Alicia

Appetisers:
Mini tarts two way:
Garlic Mushrooms and Parmesan;
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes w/ Balsamic Onions

Entrees:
Tori Karaage
Beans Salad w/ prosciutto and Roasted pine nuts
Spaghetti w/ Garlic Prawns

Desserts:
Lychee Jelly
Assorted Biscuits from Marks & Spencer (courtesy of Ali)
Earl Grey Tea truffles
Camembert Cheese w/ crackers & muscatels

Special Drink:
Pims & Lemonade Cocktail (courtesy of Ali)


After chomping down the club sandwich at Cafe Fiori, Ali and I strolled down Chapel Street and did a bit of shopping before we headed to Richmond to stop by Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder for some cheese and muscatels and then braving peak hour traffic back to the 'burbs to do some shopping for the dinner party that we were hosting that night at my place.

Ever since she moved to Sydney to pursue a career at Qantas, we have always had catch up brunches, lunches or dinner whenever she comes back to Melbourne for a quick holiday. So even though she changed status from Sydneysider to a 'Londoner' this year, it was only natural that the little catch up party routine remained unchanged. We had a farewell dinner in the city before she and Ange left for London, so I suggested that we should have a dinner at my place for a change as that would be a more intimate and private affair plus it would give her a better chance to 'flirt' amongst the crowd . :P

She was quite happy with the idea and (Ali being Ali) even wrote down a list of food she wanted me to make: Fried chicken, Baked Potatoes Ala TGI Fridays and I added the Lychee Jelly because I knew it was also one of her favourites. (Baked Potatoes never made it to the table because we forgot about it)

So the call went out and in less than a week we had a firm 10 to attend, 1 for tbc and 1 gate crasher who didn't RSVP (;p).

As I was cooking for about 11 people, I decided to go with only well tested recipes to avoid any unwanted disasters from happening. The appetisers were the same ones that I had made for HHDD#5, the recipe for the Tori Karaage was one that I have made a number of times from Jane Lawson's Yoshoku, my favourite Beans salad was adapted from Marie Claire's Kitchen and the Spaghetti with Garlic Prawns was straight out of Bill Granger's Bills Food (plus the pasta of course).



Roasted cherry tomatoes w/ balsamic onion tart

Mini Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Balsamic Onion tarts

Tori Karaage

Tori Karaage w/ Kewpi Mayo and Sweet chilli sauce

Beans salad w/ prosciutto and pine nuts

Beans salad w/ prosciutto and roasted pine nuts

Spaghetti w/ Garlic Prawns

Spaghetti w/ Garlic Prawns

For dessert, I chose to make the Lychee jelly, which is a party favourite of mine and we bought some camembert cheese from Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder. The Earl grey truffles was probably the only first timer in the list. It was pre-prepared Sunday night when I got home from our Sydney getaway. I found the recipe on a November 2004 Christmas Edition of Vogue Entertaining, not realising that the recipe was infact from Claudia Fleming's Last Course. My mum had picked up the magazine from her workplace and gave it to me on one of the weekends that I went home for dinner. I only realised that the recipe was in fact from the Last Course when I went through the 'parcels' my courier from London brought back for me :)

Desserts


It was like Christmas in September that Monday, I had received my Swedish BBM parcel from Clivia of Clivia's Cuisine and Ali brought back all the gifts that she and Ange had bought me on their weekend trips away and their shopping trips BUT most importantly, she also brought back ALL the books I ordered from Amazon UK via free delivery hehe. (It worked out to be too expensive to have them delivered to Australia so I hired a courier and paid her wages by hosting her party hehe)

Ali also brought back a bottle of famed English liquor Pimms and a box of assorted biscuits from Marks & Spencer to share. She and Ange had both been raving on about Pimms and it was only natural that they bring me back a bottle hehe. Ali's contribution for the night was to make the Pimms cocktail and oh.. did I mention she funded the dinner party??

Pimms and Lemonade


Dinner was a bit slow that night (I'm sorry everyone!! I blame Ali and shopping) but it turned out well because everyone was too busy chatting away (had to be ordered to eat before the food got cold) but once I got the appetisers out of the way I managed to concentrate on the rest of the cooking. All in all a great success! A belatd "Welcome Back" Ali!

(Recipes to follow)

Ali's "Best Club Sandwich"

Club Sandwich from Cafe Fiori


Sometime ago I lamened that I have never had a club sandwich that I would considered one of the best sandwiches that I have ever sinked my teeth into. Ali, commented that the best club sandwich in Melbourne was at Cafe Fiori in South Yarra. So when she came back last month for a quick holiday and her brother's wedding, I made sure we slotted in a lunch date at the cafe into her busy schedule.

We both ordered the club sandwich and I have to say, one serve of this was more than enough to feed the both of us. Three layers of toasted bread layered with greens, bacon, tomato, avocado, turkey slices and cranberry sauce with a side of chips and tomato sauce, was definitely heavenly, but I would go as far to say that it totally wowwed me.

Club Sandwich from Cafe Fiori


I would certainly recommend it if you're in the area, but I probably won't travel all the way out to South Yarra just for Club Sandwich.



Cafe Fiori
Level 1, Como Building
Corner Toorak and Chapel Street
South Yarra

Monday, October 23, 2006

What is your biggest/worst foodie nightmare?

Warning: The following post contains no foodie adventure and if you're in the middle of eating lunch, I suggest you come back later.

I can think of a few things like hideously burnt cookies, extremely dried, overcooked cake or a souffle that flopped when it came out of the oven. The first two has happened to me, the souffle hasn't, because I haven't worked up the courage to venture into that arena yet. Every time I think of souffle I have this vision the flopped souffle that Lucy Liu's character Alex in Charlie's Angel made. You know the scene, where she survived getting pelted by millions of bullets in her boy friend (Matt Le Blanc's character .. whatever his name is) trailer by hiding/holding herself up against the roof of the trailer. When the bad guys left, she was safe and sound and ecstatic because her freshly baked souffle survived... only to see it flop before her eyes.

I think my worst/biggest foodie nightmare happened yesterday and nope, it ain't the souffle. I caught the worse case of gastro I've ever had. I know my own body and I've had mild cases of gastro before but you know it's bad when any whiff of cooked food makes you want to regurgitate.

The story went like this.. We were helping a friend of Alv's brother move houses on the weekend. His brother was suppose to meet us at the new place and we thought that we would all go out to lunch after the inspection and all that was done. A big misunderstanding there, because they (J, D and Lil B) had already had lunch and didn't arrive until 2pm. During that time, I had gone down to the nearest liquor store and bought a pack of Kettle's Bacon and Sour Cream chips which would be the death of me. Ok, I exaggerated a bit there. But it sounded good, 'the death of me' as oppose to 'my down fall'.

Clearly those chips and my stomach didn't go well together because no sooner than I had finished the chips did I felt sick. Think woozy, need to lie down kind of sick. I didn't think much of it at the time, just shrugged it off as low blood sugar thing, although I did complained loudly that I was going to die if they didn't feed me soon. <-- I get grumpy when I don't get fed LOL hence the name of this blog.

It was about 3pm when I finally got fed; poached eggs, with smoked salmon and mushrooms on english muffins slathered with a mountain of hollandaise sauce. Somehow, I still managed to eat that, walked the South Melbourne markets, duck into Chef's hat and Made in Japan store and warehouse before we headed home. (It's amazing how the 'shopping' mode takes over and overwhelms the sick mode)

Snoozed all the way back to Alv's and snoozed for 2 hrs after we got home, still felt sick but still didn't think much of it until I got to mum's and had to park myself on the couch. Had no appetite. Poor mum. It was meant to be her birthday dinner and she cooked all these food (my favourite food tooo!) and I couldn't eat a single thing. Ended up having a few spoons of rice and stir fried asparagus.

When I got home it really hit me. Opened the front door and the smell of food overwhelmed my senses to the point that I nearly turned around and headed straight for the garden. My housemate'd had a dinner guest and had cooked lamb cutlets with mashed sweet potatoes or something. (Shell: IF you are reading this, what did you marinade those lamb cutlets with??) I don't know what it was but it sure did it. I love lamb, but obviously yesterday was not the day. In and out of the shower and straight to bed, I did not utter a single word when I got home beyond, "hey.. feeling sick and what..?"

Whilst I was lying in bed it got me thinking.. this has got to be the worse thing that could ever happen to someone who loves food like me. If you think about it, burnt cookies or overcooked cake can be rectified by just making another batch. Heck, if you didn't have time to make another batch, you could just go out and and buy some good biscuits to substitute the failed ones. A souffle that sinked could be rectified by just making another one or if all else fails, just go to your favourite restaurant that makes a mean souffle and order it there to satisfy the craving. Even if you served sinked souffle (your foodie pride might get dented here), everyone's just going to have a laugh and still say it's still good.

But imagine not being able to smell food. Our sense of taste and smell must be two of the most important things to a foodie. Just because it looks good, doesn't mean it tastes good? Just because it smells good, doesn't mean it will taste good? Of course, if it looks good, then it must taste good too right?? I guess here lies the conundrum of visual taste vs real taste.

Anyway, I'm rambling.. If there is one plus of not being able to smell food without upheaving, it is being able to think about food without the urge to upheave. The funniest thing for me about this whole gastro thing is that I can still think about food without the urge to chuck. Can't smell it.. heavens no.. but I can still think about it. LOL I caught myself thinking about food last night, about what ingredients I have left in the pantry and what I could make for SHF24. LOL

Let's just say the irony of the situation did not escape me..

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A recap on the visit to Sydney

Sydney Travel Map


Just a quick recap of Sydney. This was the map we had in our pocket the whole time we were in Sydney. I decided that I'd note down the places that we'd visited and walked so that I can work out later how many kilometres we walked in Sydney on Saturday. If I had to take a guess I'd say we walked about 10kms or more on the Saturday. Back and forth from the apartment. We stayed at Hyde Park Regency Apartments which is not on the map but right next to Hyde Park Hotel (37) which I have circled on the map. If you're curious, just click on the above photo and look for spots marked with numbers to indicate where we went to.

In order travelled:
  1. Darling Harbour, Cockle Bay - Breakfast at CMC
  2. Sydney Fish Market - Lunch
  3. Haymarket - Shopping
  4. World Square - Puffy
  5. Hyde Park - Walkabouts
  6. Circular Quay - Sight seeing
  7. The Rocks - Sight seeing
  8. DFS Galleria - The only thing that was opened after 5pm (on the way back to the Apartment)
  9. Dining Bar Musashi - Dinner
  10. Back to Hyde Park for night scene
  11. QVB Building (which we also went to on the way back from Haymarket)

Things I went to Sydney for and missed out on:

  1. Cupcakes from Cupcakes on Pitt <-- not opened on the weekend. I was crushed when I found out. My sole purpose for going to Sydney and it wasn't opened for business.
  2. Jimmy's Recipes for Laksa <-- I read about this at Deborah's of The Food Palate
  3. Ramen from Ichiban Boshi <-- read about this at Helen's of Grab Your Fork
  4. Victoire Bakery <-- read about this at Jen's of Milk and Cookies

I know I probably couldn't have fitted in anymore food after all the eating that we did in those two days, but a girl can have a wish list right?

Places I want to go the next time I visit Sydney:

  1. Billy Kwong
  2. Breakfast at Bills
  3. Cupcakes from Neutral Bay
  4. Beard Papa's (if they're not in Melbourne by then)
  5. Pyrmont Grower's market
  6. Good Food Show in Sydney

So there you have it, I am proud to announce that I ate my way (as much as I could) around Sydney and I admit (shamefully) that the whole trip was planned around food. It's not that we don't have food and good places in Melbourne, just that when you plan a trip with another foodie, we'd tend to get a bit over excited about food. LOL

My next mission, (should I wish to accept it) will be to find the best of my favourite food in Melbourne. Eg. Best Mocha, Best Caesar Salad, Best Okonomiyaki (was at Daimaru) etc.

Note to self: First you need to get 100% and start exercising again, before you go eating! :)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My BBM Package arrived.. almost a month ago!


Monday 25 September, back from Sydney and totally buggered.

I'm glad I foresaw the conclusion of my quick weekend getaway to Sydney and took a couple of extra days off, with intention to recover from the early mornings and late nights that we imposed on ourselves just so we could get as much out of the short time we had in Sydney.

Supposedly a day off to spend with my dear friend Ali who's back. A day to go eating and shopping and cooking for the catch-up dinner party I had hosted for her.

Finally dragged myself out of bed, got ready and as I was pulling out of the driveway I saw a bump sticking out of the mailbox. At first I was thinking..."Great, more junk mail and a big one too this time". So I got out of the car, opened the mail box and what do I see.... my BBM Package!! My heart sang with joy as I took the package out of the mailbox and got back into the car.

I reckon I spent a whole 10 minutes contemplating in the car with the engine running trying to decide whether I should go back into the house and open it or wait til a bit later because I was already running late to pick up Ali for lunch.

I decided to wait because I wanted to unwrap the parcel and spend time oogling each item... even though what I really wanted to do was to tear it up and dig into the package.

Umm.. as you could probably tell from the picture above, I tried "really" hard to contain my excitement but I couldn't resist taking a photo of it in between traffic lights. A bit dangerous I know. I was lucky there was no coppers around to pull me over or anything.


To cut a long story short (because I'm going to post about my friend's idea of the BEST CLUB SANDWICH she'd ever had and the dinner later), my BBM package is from Clivia of Clivia's Cuisine all the way from Stockholm, Sweden.


IKEA!! Was my first thought when I saw the blue and yellow package and when I turned it over to see who it was from it was marked clearly from Sweden. (Sorry Clivia, I hope you're not too offended):)

I didn't get to open my package until close to 12midnight (after everyone left) that day hence the quality of the photos.

BBM package

Clivia wrote me a lovely card introducing herself and telling me a bit about Stockholm and the season they're currently in as well as the recent elections held in Sweden. She mentioned that visited Australia about 4 years ago and visited Queensland, Sydney, Wilson's Promentary and Melbourne.

A lovely apple tree card w/ an apple shaped cut out

In her lovely package, she's included:

A Book on Stockholm

A multilingual book on Stockholm in English, German and Russian. She had even marked out a few pages in the book indicating the building where she works and the part of town where she works. :)

Also included were some candy (lollies as we call them in Australia) and chocolates:

Bilar

Bilar which is a car shaped marshmallow candy. Clivia mentioned in her car that Volvos are not the most common cars in Sweden but these are! Hehe

Swedish chocolates: Daim and Marabou

Marabou Fruit and Nut chocolate: Clivia, I LOVE FRUIT AND NUT CHOCOLATES! I haven't opened them yet as I'm trying to be really good and eat healthy foods at the moment but OMG when I saw that it was fruit and nut I nearly tore the package apart. LOL

Daim: I wasn't sure what Daim was so I googled it and found that it's actually a caramel chocolate. Clivia says that these are one of her favourite chocolate. I can't wait to sink my teeth into them.

Jams: Lingonberry Jam and Cloudberry Jam

Jams: Lingonberry Jam and Cloudberry Jam. I've had Lingonberry Jam before, with my Swedish Meatballs from Ikea. They're delicious and somewhat akin to cranberry jam but less sugary. Clivia tells me that the lingonberry jams often accompany some savoury food in Sweden. Cloudberry Jams on the other hand are a very exclusive and special. They're delicious when melted and served with vanilla ice cream. I was like WOW when I saw the cloudberry jam. (Clivia: I will try them, soon I hope. As soon as my friend's wedding is over!)

Dala Horse Serviettes

Dala Horse Napkins: Clivia tells me that the Dala horse is usually carved in wood and decorated traditionally with flowers and ornaments. A little bit of investigation on my part found that Dala horses are a symbol of Swedish dexterity and frugality. They originated from when a soldier in a war waged by King Charles the XII of Sweden carved a wooden horse in exchange for food and warmth (because it was during winter) provided by the owners of the home where he was temporarily staying. The soldier painted and decorated the horse before presenting it to the child of the couple and the preceeded to make a horse for every meal he ate.
Read about the history of Dala Horses here.

To Clivia, thank you for sharing the wonderful things about Stockholm and Sweden. I still have yet to taste any of the wonderful things you've sent me, but I promise to dig into the bar of Daim as soon as these next two weeks are over!

To Stephanie, I'm sorry it took forever, but I've finally got my act together and posted about the lovely package from Clivia. Thank you again for organising the swaps and I look forward to your next BBM event.

Blogging By Mail (BBM) is a global parcel swapping event hosted by Stephanie of The Happy Sorceress.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

HHDD#6 - Malaysian Prawn fritters / a kiddie favourite

Prawn fritter - cucur udang


It's Hay Hay It's Donna Day (HHDD) time again and this time it's hosted by jenjen of Milk and Cookies. Jenjen was the winner of the previous HHDD event Savoury Tarts organised by Tami of running with tweezers and in tradition of the blog event, the winner of the round gets the honour of hosting the next round of HHDD.

When jenjen unveiled the theme for round 6 as F for Fritter, the first thing that came to my mind was CUCUR UDANG!! Cucur Udang or Prawn fritter is one of my favourite all time fritter. It's a Malaysian delicacy and it ranks right up the top of my fritter favourites list along with Cucur Bawang (Onion fritter), Pisang Goreng (Fried Banana a.k.a Banana Fritter), Corn fritters and Cempedak Goreng (Jackfruit fritter - for simplicity we'll call it jackfruit)

Growing up in Malaysia, I have fond memories of prawn and onion fritters as it was the best serving of food they had in the school canteen of the schools that I was educated in. In Malaysia, we have two schooling sessions in a day. Starting at 7:35am til 1:10pm for the morning sessions and from 1:10pm til 6:30pm for the afternoon sessions. We were only allowed one recess for the day because the kids in the morning would go home for lunch whilst the kids in the arvo would come to school after lunch. Recess would be at 10:30am and 3:15pm every day.

I remembered as a kid that my friends and I would be at the edge of our seat at at 5mins to recess and take turns to peek at the clock in the class room and the teacher, counting the last 5 minutes as they went buy, fingers crossed, hoping that she/he would finish their session in time. As soon as the recess bell rings, two of us would bolt out in time to be the first few at the canteen to buy the first onion fritter of the day.

The school canteen at the primary school where I was educated used to sell them for 10cents a piece and they were huge fritters, the size of a tennis ball and when you're 10 years old, 3 or 4 of them will fill you up until the end of the day at 1:10pm.

So.. they were ONLY huge balls of fried batter filled sparsely with bean sprouts and spring onions and served with watered down Maggi Chilli sauce. But they were still the best!

Then, in my high school years, the school canteen there had both the onion fritters and the upmarket prawn fritters. The onion fritters were 20cents (the price inflated! because technically it meant that if you're in high school your allowance would increase from 50cents a day to $2 a day) and half the size; and they had the prawn fritters for 50cents a piece, because the prawn fritters were different in shape and came with a piece of prawn on the top. But they were both still served with the same watered down Maggi Chilli sauce.

When I whinged to my mum that the prices were up and they quality of the food was poor compared to the ones at my old primary school, she whipped up a batch of fritters with both the onions and prawns in them, and they were peeled banana prawns! not the stingy unpeeled shrimp they had at the canteen. They were the best fritters I had ever had! and I never looked back since. (they were served with Real Maggi Chilli sauce.. not the watered down version!)

I still miss mum's version. Occasionally when I go home for dinner mum would ask what I wanted for dinner.. sometimes.. when I crave it, I would ask for her prawn fritters or whatever else she makes that I missed eating..and if I was lucky.. I would get it the next fortnight when I go home for dinner :D

Unfortunately, I couldn't get hold of my mum's recipe (because like all mums, her recipes are stored in her memory bank and she needed time to sit and think it out) but I found an Amy Beh recipe from Kuali.com that I adapted to try and emulate my mum's feat. (Amy Beh is a famous Malaysian cook)

Prawn fritters

Ingredients:
20 raw prawns, peeled and chopped into small pieces
275g self-raising flour
60g rice flour
1 small egg, lightly beaten
A handful of bean sprouts, tailed
2 stalk spring onion, chopped
1 onion, finely sliced
350ml water
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp chicken stock granules
½ tsp sesame oil

Oil for deep frying
Your favourite chilli sauce.

Sift plain and rice flour together into a large mixing bowl and season with salt, pepper, sugar, chicken stock and sesame oil.
Add the beaten egg and water and mix into a batter.
Mix in the prawns, bean sprouts, spring onion, and onion then leave batter to stand for 30–40 minutes.
Heat oil in a saucepan
For each fritter, drop 1 chinese spoon of batter into the oil and fry until golden brown.
Drain the excess oil on paper towels.

Serve with your favourite chilli sauce/ sweet chilli sauce.

*I had mine with Lingham's chilli sauce.

Malaysian Prawn fritter - cucur udang

The verdict: Umm, can I just say that they're not as good as my mums! LOL.

Hay Hay It's Donna Day is the brainchild of Barbara of Winos and foodies.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Dinner at Musashi

Lanterns at Musashi

Beneath these mysterious lanterns
Sat 3 hungry buggers sharing a table with 8 strangers celebrating a birthday party
Thus began another gastronomic adventure...

After The Rocks, we headed back for another pitt stop at the apartment. Exhausted from a long day of travelling and eating, we parked ourselves on the couch, in front of the idiot box and flicked some channels. Before we knew it, it was 8pm and it was dinner time! Samps suggested Musashi for dinner. In the two weeks that he was in Sydney he had manage to discover a few decent restaurants around the Pitt St/Elizabeth St vicinity. (I think I got this right). After the disappointing lunch and afternoon tea we were looking forward to a good solid meal and we weren't too disappointed. :)

There was a queue at Musashi when we got there. Samps did say it was popular, even though it was 8:30pm, got a number and waited for about 20minutes or so before we were ushered in. The restaurant had an interesting number system, I suppose interesting because I've never seen it in Melbourne before. (maybe I just don't go out often enough) When you arrive, you write your name and number of guests down on a book (that sits on a stand similar to an orchestra conductor's stand), rip off a tiny number next to your entry and then you wait to be called. If you decide that you don't want to sit on the teppanyaki counter, you simply go back into the queue, not at the back of the queue.. but just where you were previously. What a cool idea!

In Melbourne, depends on where you go, you get the regular "Please wait, while we find you a table. Or you get your name down in the waiter's book and then you wait. No number.." I think a number would solve all those problems with idiots complaining loudly that they came first and supposedly registered but the waiter didn't/forgot to take their registration. "No number, no registration.. you lie" LOL

Anyway, on to the food. We ordered the following dishes from the menu:


Wagyu Yakiniku Beef

Wagyu Yakiniku Beef Teppanyaki: Served on a bed of bean sprouts, side of mashed potato, grilled onigiri and special sauce. Decent, the wagyu was melt in your mouth texture and the sauce tasted like worchestershire, but like I said "Special Sauce" I could be very wrong there. I've had better but still good. Interesting how it was served with a grilled onigiri. I love onigiri! They're so cute.


Takoyaki

Takoyaki: This takoyaki was interestingly enough served on an omelette. I think it was premade earlier because the takoyaki was kind of warm. The best takoyaki I've had is at Uzu or Cafe Uzu, located in Caulfield East right next to Caulfield Station and Monash University, Caulfield campus. It is made fresh on the premises in front of your eyes. It's cheap, fresh and delicious at $5 for 8. You have a choice of 3 types of mayo, the regular egg mayonnaise, wasabi mayonnaise or a third which I can't remember.


Beef Tataki Salad

Beef Tataki Salad: Just a regular salad with rare beef steak. The silly and hungry people that we are didn't toss the salad and only realised at the end that the salad dressing was all at the bottom of the bowl.

Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki: I love okonomiyaki and have not had a decent one in a while. This was decent. (I just realised that I have used this word a lot, but I can't think of any other word to describe it..) Best okonomiyaki I ever had used to be served at the Japanese cafe next to the old Daimaru food court in Melbourne. Daimaru is now history and so is the restaurant that served it. :( I've never found good okonomiyaki since..



Tori Karaage

Spicy Tori Karaage: So says the menu, but it wasn't that spicy. It was yummy, but I make better ones than this. Still, can't complain, fried food are all yummy to me!


Green Tea Creme Brulee

Green Tea Creme Brulee: This was my highlight of the evening. Two things I am a sucker for: Anything Green Tea and Anything to do with Creme Brulee. Anytime I see creme brulee on the menu, I order it straight away and care not about the rest of the menu. Anytime I see green tea desserts/sweets at BreadTop or Suzuran (the Japanese Grocery shop/Sushi Den), I grab one and stick it in my shopping basket. This was not disappointing I tell you that. I have since heard that Musashi boasts the best Green Tea Creme Brulee in Melbourne, having had one, I must agree.


Surprise!

Do not be fooled by the subtle taste of green tea in the first layer of the brulee. Dig in deeper and behold.. a layer of azuki beans and another layer of thick green tea creme awaits!


Dining at Musashi was probably the highlight of our trip. We even visited Musashi's sister restaurant, Makoto the next day for a taste of sushi on the sushi train. I've always associated sushi train restaurants with Sydney and that for me was a great way to finish off our gastronomic experience in Sydney.



Musashi Restaurant

Dining Bar Musashi
447 Pitt Street
(Cnr. Pitt & Campbell Street)
Sydney

Sushi Bar Makoto
119 Liverpool Street
(Cnr, Pitt & Liverpool St.)
Sydney

Snaps of Circular Quay, The Rocks and the Opera House

DSCN0769

The walk from Martin Place to Circular Quay was actually quite pleasant. Look at the lovely skyline! I couldn't believe it was only one month into spring. There was chilly wind when we walked through areas where there the tall sky scrappers blocked the sunlight from reaching the ground but it was superb once we reached the quay area. There were loads tourists and locals (you can always spot the tourist, they're usually the ones with the digicams snapping away and they're usually the ones wearing the wrong gear in town). No food experience here, we were too full from afternoon tea to fit anything else in.


DSCN0774

Circular Quay


Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House


Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge


DSCN0791

Restaurants and Cafe's at The Rocks.

This post marks the end of our day trip in Sydney.. well not really, we were still there on Sunday, but we mostly went shopping that day. Didn't do any touristy things at all, partly because we were buggered from all the walking on Saturday and partly also because Alv and I were due at the airport by 4pm to catch the 5pm flight back to chilly Melbourne. (It was about 7deg when we landed back in Melbourne at 6:30pm... dang it was cold..!)



View slideshow<-- A few more snaps here

A bit of Hyde Park on the way to Lindt Cafe at Martin Place

DSCN0744

After puffy, a quick rest back at the apartment and we were back on track again to our next stop: Lindt Cafe/Concept Store at Martin Place.

We took a stroll through Hyde Park on the way, took some happy snaps, stared at a couple who just got married at St Mary's Cathedral taking photos at the Archibald Fountain and off we went towards Martin Place. (We came back to Hyde Park later that night at my insistence. I actually have very fond memories of Hyde Park at night time when we were up in Sydney early 2001 with another couple and we had lots of fun taking photos and throughly enjoyed the peacefulness of night time at the park)

View slideshow<--Some snaps here

DSCN0755

So, Lindt Cafe. I had been getting daily reminders from Ali & Ange (A&A) from day 1 (when I told them that I was going to Sydney) that I MUST GO TO LINDT CAFE and that IT'S NOT OPEN ON SUNDAY, therefore I MUST GO THERE ON SATURDAY. So there I was, at Lindt Cafe, posh looking building with the marble exterior. Walked in and there was a line of about 10 waiting for a table. When it was our turn, we asked for a table outside since it was nice, sunny and the temperature was perfect for sitting outside (a bit chilly but the sun takes away the chill). "Sure, just order at the counter and we'll bring the food out to you." Great! So we went to the counter.. and they only had one menu. Err.. ok.. So the 3 of us crowded around one small little menu, discussing amongst ourselves whilst the waitress behind the counter stood there looking at us.. waiting for us to order.

I don't know about you, but I get a bit.. uncomfortable when the waiter/waitresses are standing there waiting for your order, when they know you're not ready (ie. you've told them that you need some time). You could say that I felt a bit of a "customer anxiety". So, there I was trying to choose something special, something that isn't too ordinary but familiar to ensure that it will be a memorable first visit.. . I know it's their job, but a bit of personal space and time to decide please?? I felt like I was being rushed to make a decision, so I wasn't too happy about that. Anyway... after being starred at forever (ok, I exaggerated..it was probably 10minutes.. but it felt like forever) we ordered: the waffles, the opera cake and the St Moritz mousse cake; and for drinks we had the Iced Milk Chocolate, Iced Mocha and Milk Chocolate Shake.

Waffles w/ Vanilla Bean Ice cream and Chocolate FudgeWaffles w/ Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Chocolate Fudge

Waffles: The waffles were served with a pot of melted lindt milk chocolate and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Chocolate pot = Yumm, Vanilla bean ice cream = Yumm! Waffles = Ugh. The waffle was disappointing. The waffle batter was floury and it was undercooked. Not to mention the waffle wasn't crispy at all.

Opera CakeOpera Cake

The opera cake: Layers of almond sponge and orange butter cream topped with a milk chocolate ganache, a Lindt chocolate button and some edible gold foil. (EDIBLE I HOPE COZ I ATE IT!). I picked the opera cake because I've never had an opera cake before. The first time I ever heard about an opera cake was when I discovered this whilst googling for a green tea cake recipe. This was yummiest of the lot. But very rich. I should've shared it with someone. I couldn't finish it in the end.


St Moritz

St Moritz; almond sponge cake layered with dark chocolate, white chocolate and milk chocolate mousse: Max Brenner does a meaner Trio than this. Though I did like the chocolate flakes. I couldn't differentiate the difference in texture between the mousse and the cake. (Umm can someone tell me if I'm just an ignoramous?)

Iced Mocha

Iced Mocha: I've been obssessed with Mocha's since I can't remember when, but never have I tasted a "mocha" milk with no hint of coffee like this before?? I mixed it well, I really did, but it just did nothing for me. Tasted like dark chocolate drink.

Iced Milk Chocolate

Iced Milk Chocolate: This was not very chocolatey, even after we mixed the chocolate at the bottom of the glass with the rest of the milk.

Chocolate Milkshake

Milk Chocolate Shake: According to Samps, this was "nyeh". Meaning no big deal.

Whilst we were eating we noticed that the table next to us ordered these little macaroon looking things and hot chocolates. They hot chocolates were DIY hot chocolate, served with a little jug of frothed milk and a melted pot of lindt chocolate. You mix your own hot chocolate according to your taste, similar to the Max Brenner Suckao concept where you're given your own jug of milk, little buds of chocolate, a contraption with a lit tea light candle under a stainless steel cup encased in a ceramic oil burner style mug (??). Here you melt the chocolate bits in the hot milk (to your taste) and when it's melted, suck it up a stainless steel straw that doubles as a scoop/spoon for the chocolate buds.

So me, being the tourist that I was, thought that it would be foolish of me trek all the way to Sydney this year and not to try the hot chocolate (actually, I was thinking more along the lines of A&A would not let me live it down if I didn't have the hot choc. I can just imagine them saying, "OMG, you went to Lindt Cafe and DIDN'T HAVE the HOT CHOCOLATE??") and I was curious about the macaroons too! They look so scrumptious. And so.. even though my stomach said. "NO MORE". I went in, bought a takeaway Hot Chocolate and a Strawberry Delicé for the road.. just in case I get thirst or hungry on the way... to Circular Quay and The Rocks.

I should mention that the Hot Chocolate tasted like Milk Chocolate Lindt ball and milk (duhh.. what else would it taste like?) and Strawbery Delicé was a macaroon and... too sickly sweet for my taste. Pitty, they looked so pretty and delicious too!

DSCN0756

The Verdict: So Lindt Cafe/Concept Store. I can now say that I've "Been there, ate that". Probably won't make such a big fuss about it next time. Bought some chocolates for novelty sake (esp the hand made chocolates and the peanut butter lindt!). I think I can safely say that I prefer the Koko Black in Melbourne or even Max Brenner if I wanted a quick shot of chocolate without having to get out of the suburbs.


Lindt Concept Store
53 Martin Place, Sydney