Tuesday, 31 August 2010

shobu @ rowe st., eastwood

When it comes to food and anything related to food, I find that I can get quite obsessed. If it's a chef, I'll buy all their cookbooks, if it's a food magazine I'll try to grab every issue and well when it comes to types of food, my latest craze is Korean food and I really can't get enough of it. When the opportunity comes up to go out and eat, the boy will ask me what I want to eat and he knows without asking that I'll say 'How about one of the Korean restaurants in Eastwood?' There's just so many Korean restaurants in Eastwood that I can't get to them quick enough!

Shobu is on Rowe Street in Eastwood, the side of Rowe Street where the bulk of the Korean shops and eateries are (FYI: Rowe Street is chopped in half by the train station...odd, yes!) It was actually by luck that we stumbled across Shobu, being a Friday night, most of the restaurants along the street were filled up and Shobu had one last table available, albeit a slightly small one.

Here's all our side dishes squeezed up on the table. Wasn't a big fan of the cold spam coated in sauce but loved all the other side dishes.

We ordered the Sukiyaki hotpot (which oddly didn't come with noodles and which I thought was on the menu but we didn't bother asking as it already came with bowls of rice which we struggled to finish). 

With the table holding the side dishes and hotpot, our Korean pancake was relegated to the extra seat that  one of the waiters added to our table. We quickly gobbled this one up as with the extra seat, the waiters/waitresses kept bumping into the seat as they were getting round the restaurant. I particularly like the Korean pancake here as it's dense, crispy, doughy and chewy all at the same time. The doughy-ness probably isn't very healthy but I absolutely love anything that is doughy in texture (and in hindsight, explains why I find it hard to lose weight!)

Really enjoyed the food here and the service was particularly attentive. If you are a reader of Eatability, you will probably read about how small this place is and how chaotic it may be but don't let that put you off, the place is small and will appear chaotic but I would think that's the nature of small places. Often I find that small places that are busy serve up great food and I think this is one of those places. Call me biased but I do try to see the positive in the places I eat at otherwise why bother eating there in the first place! Anyway, have my eye on Minto next (also on Rowe Street). Anyone keen to join me?

Monday, 30 August 2010

good food & wine show 2010

I've been meaning to post about this year's Good Food & Wine show but it seems that time has once again got the better of me and almost 2 months on, I finally put together this post! Thankfully the show's website is still up and running so I can look up all the things I ate on the day and actually blog about it. I have the worse memory ever, don't even ask me what I ate for breakfast this morning, I probably can't even remember!

Anyway, back to the show; it seems like this year's show was busier than ever (yes, it must be Masterchef turning everyone's attention to food!) It was definitely bigger too with all the stalls much more spread out compared to last year. Reluctantly I have to say this and I'm sure most people would agree that getting in was a pain and pre-booking tickets didn't seem like such a good idea considering the queue to buy tickets at the door was empty and you had the pre-booked ticket collection line extending to the far, far beyond. I was in the queue trying to pick up tickets for my 10.30am Celebrity theatre show and ended up bolting to the theatre late once I got through the show's doors. But alas...Miguel Maestre and his very lovely accent put me pack into a much better mood!

After going to the show's restaurant last year, I thought I'd pay another visit...

Toby Puttock's 'Polenta Gnocchi with marjoram, tallegio and prosciutto served with Hardys Nottage Hill Pinot Noir' - this was my favourite of the 4 dishes we tried.

Gary Mehigan's 'Bastilla of lamb, olives & pine nuts served with Hardys Oomoo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon'

George Calombaris' 'Chocolate and walnut tart with salty caramel sauce'.

Pete Evans' 'Goat's curd cheesecake with passionfruit sauce' - can't say I'm a big fan of goat's curd.

Chocolate & Prune Brownie from Cookie Couture.

And in the usual fashion of visiting the show, I left with a handful of goodies (but definitely not as crazy as I was last year). Oh, I'm glad to see that Donna Hay is back at the show! Thumbs up!

It's my fourth year running going to the Sydney Food & Wine Show and overall, it is getting bigger and better each year. The wine part of the show seems to be growing (for those interested in wine) and yes, there's a handful of stalls at the show which are there and have no relation to food but are great to be there nonetheless. And well, on top of the celebrity spotting, it was good to bump into fellow food bloggers (good to see you Bel & Maria!)

Back next year!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

lindt cafe macarons

Since Adriano Zumbo's macarons featured on Masterchef, it seems like everyone can't quite get enough of them! The other week, we were doing the Bay Run (or in my case, the walk), we stopped by Adriano Zumbo's patisserie and the queue extended 20m down the road! Thankfully we bumped into one of my friend's brothers who was in the queue and said he would get some for us when he got to the head of the queue which saved us the wait. I have friends at work who live in the area and they tell me that the queue is always there; it's almost impossible to get into the shop! (not happy!!!)

Thankfully, there's a few more places offering macarons and one place which I think offers a consistently a good one is Lindt Cafe. Lindt calls them delices but really, they're macarons through and through. The flavours available are probably not as interesting as the one's that Zumbo offers but the thing is they're consistent and you can get your hand on a dozen without the 20m queue!

Mum has been scouting out macarons for me in the city. This is a box she brought back home one day.

I like my macarons with a cup of green tea (and well, sat in front of the TV watching the Food Channel on Foxtel, feet up of course!)

I've been trying to explain to my friends what the 'feet' is on a macaron - it's that rough bit at the bottom of each disk. See pic below. 

The salted caramel macaron is well worth trying at the Lindt Cafe. What came across as a surprise and which I now love is the lusciously pink Rose Macaron - give it a go!

And let me end this post and just say, I thought there was a difference between macaron and macaroons. I've had a go making both. Macarons use ground almonds whilst macaroons use coconut, and well that was how I understood it to be. Yet when I refer to my almighty Larousse Gastronomique, it calls macarons 'macaroons'! How very confusing! It's no wonder the topic of macaron and macaroons comes up so often at the dinner table!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

breakfast muffins

I did a bit of cleaning the other day (well tried to) in the aim of sorting through my piles of books and food magazines so I could keep things together and make them easier to find. At the end of the 'cleaning', I'd managed to unearth all of my Donna Hay cookbooks and magazines and I'd very easily filled an entire 60L container! There were a handful that didn't quite make the box because they just wouldn't fit! You could say that I'm a little obsessed with Donna and well, I actually want to get a hold of some of her back issues but unfortunately most of them have sold out! 

Call me biased but I'm a big fan of Donna Hay. I love how simple and tasty her recipes are, haven't come across a bad one yet (though I do agree with others who say that her recipes might not be as detailed as they should be), the photography in her cookbooks and magazines is stunning and I love Donna for the fact that she makes me excited about food. There isn't a recipe I wouldn't make out of her books and well, a long time ago I gave up bookmarking the recipes I wanted to make out of her books, I ended up bookmarking each one! Anyway, here's a recipe I adapted from her Simple Essential's collection 'Fruit'.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place 185ml vegetable oil, 330g caster sugar, 125ml milk and 3 eggs in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add to the mix 450g sifted plain flour, 2tsp baking powder, 20g rolled oats and 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Stir to combine. Finally add 1 grated apple, 2 mashed bananas and 250g chopped strawberries (I defrosted frozen ones I had in the freezer). Stir the entire mix to combine but be careful not to overmix.

Fill 18 x lined muffin holes with the mix. Sprinkle the tops with 30g rolled oat and 1 tbsp raw sugar.

Here's how they look in the book.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Here's how they look out of the oven. Above recipe makes 18.

Set muffins onto a wire rack to cool.

In the usual fashion, I stood by the oven (or pressed my face into the oven window) and watched these muffins whilst they baked. I was surprised at how quickly they expanded and at one point, was quite concerned that the bottom tray would rise to much and get caught in the tray above it. Thankfully, all was well, the muffins made their way out and made their merry way into my stomach!

True to the title of this post, this recipe makes a kick arse breakfast muffin. It's sweet, but not too sweet and with 3 kinds of fruits in the ingredients, I'd like to think that it's actually healthy!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

mango restaurant @ archer st., chatswood

Up to this day, I've always looked forward to holidays to Hong Kong. Shopping is fantastic (love H&M and wish they would bring one to Sydney), love seeing my grandparents (and having grandma telling me that I should really eat more and that I'm too skinny which I assure you, I am not but is great to hear nonentheless), getting red packets, seeing all the extravagant X'mas displays which are quite unmatched and unheard of here in Australia, catching up with friends that have moved back to Hong Kong to work, I can tell you many more reasons why I love going back. Amongst all the reasons though and you might think that I'm weird, but the one foodie thing that gets me really excited about Hong Kong is getting to have a decent cup of Hong Kong style milk tea.

Believe me, I have searched high and low, far and wide for a decent cup of Hong Kong style milk tea in Sydney. There's been a couple of places that have managed to do a decent one but I do think the best ones are to be found in Hong Kong and the great thing is that in HK, every place you go will be sure to do a decent one. Well if you're like me and get cravings for a decent HK style milk tea, let me tell you now that Mango Restaurant on Archer Street in Chatswood is the place to go.

I've actually been here 3 times now and have tried both the hot and cold HK style milk tea. I like both and let me just say, I like their lemon tea too!

J's latest favourite soup is Fish Chowder after having the one here. Love it how they serve their soups with freshly baked Chinese style bread rolls and butter.

I actually don't mind their French Onion Soup which I've ordered 2 out of the 3 times I've been here.

Baked Ox Tongue with Sweet Cream Corn Sauce, served with rice.

If you were to ask me about the one dish to order here, it would have to be the Baked Pork Chop rice with Egg.

After coming here a few times, you'll probably find that a lot of their dishes taste quite similar. You have your key meat ingredients (e.g. chicken, ox tongue, beef, pork chop), your key sauces (tomato based, cream, portugese style), your key carbohydrate (rice, spaghetti, potato) so don't be surprised to find if a different dish you order to one you've ordered before tastes quite similar! 

To be honest, I actually don't think too much about the food when I come to Hong Kong cafes. My main priority is my cup of milk tea. A place will be in my good books if they serve up a decent Hong Kong style milk tea and I really do think that Mango Restaurant is high up on my list. Do give it a go!

Monday, 16 August 2010

banana, blueberry & orange loaf cake

More often than not, I get late night cravings for something sweet and as tedious as it may sound, I actually prefer to pull out ingredients from the pantry and bake from scratch. Yes, I could easily just open up the pantry and get something instant to eat but somehow the act of that doesn't seem to satisfy and I end up eating more than I should. Alternatively, to bake something from scratch, you can pick what you want to bake and can choose that recipe that will hit the spot. And sometimes, it's really just the welcome distraction of baking that will take my mind off munching on unnecessary late night snacks. I'll finish my baking and decide that I really wasn't all that hungry after all.

Continuing the list of loaves I've made lately, here's a recipe for a banana, blueberry & orange loaf.

Recipe adapted from Carol Pastor's 'Simple Home Baking'. Funny enough, I actually bought this recipe book for all her madeleine recipes and I haven't made a single one yet! Will get to it though.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Beat 85g softened butter with 115g caster sugar until light and creamy. Gradually add 1 lightly beaten egg and stir in until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Sift in 225g self raising flour, pinch of salt, 2 tsp baking powder. In a separate bowl, mash together 4 medium sized bananas. Add banana mash to the creamed butter mixture along with 125g blueberries (in my recipe, I've used frozen blueberries), and rind of 2 medium oranges. Fold together gently. Pour the mix into a lined loaf tin. Bake for 60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean (recipe actually says 45 minutes but my loaf was nowhere near baked!)

Bizarrely enough, this loaf didn't have such a browned crust like the banana loaf I made in my last post. Note that the frozen blueberries do make parts of the loaf slighly gooey when it first comes out of the oven making the loaf hard to cut but rest overnight, you'll be able to slice away quite easily (and to be honest, I think this is a loaf that tastes better the next day).

You might've noticed that I haven't included a whole lot of photos in this post like I usually do. It was a spur of the moment decision to bake and I got quite carried away and simply forgot to take the photos. I can assure you though that this was a very lovely loaf and I will most certainly be making it again.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

classic banana bread

I really do worship the person/being/entity that came up with the recipe for banana bread. It's one of very few recipes where you don't necessarily the best ingredients to make and in case of the key ingredient, the banana, actually the older it is the better. Use a barely ripe banana to make banana bread, you're more than likely to be left with a raw/bitter taste.

Over time, I've collected a few banana bread recipes and slowly I'm getting through them. I'm particularly fond of Bill Granger's banana bread studded with the choc chips throughout but for a classic banana bread recipe, here's one I tried out from Marie Claire's 'Kitchen' which I think is a rather easy one to use.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Do read through the whole recipe before you start. It's always good to check you have everything in the kitchen!

In a large bowl, combine 90g softened butter with 115g caster sugar. Add in 2 large eggs, one at a time. Add 1 tsp vanilla essence to the mix. Sift in 250g plain flour, 2 tsp baking powder and add 2 mashed large ripe bananas in conjunction with the grated zest of 1 orange. Fold together with a spatula.

Spoon into a greased and lined 8 x16cm loaf tin. Bake for 1 hour until the skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Makes 1 loaf.

Serve in slices with a good dollop of butter whilst warm.

Mum was the first to taste and she wasn't so sure about the added orange zest in the recipe. After tasting myself, I was in agreement, the orange zest seems to choke the fragrance of the bananas. If you are planning to try this recipe, I do recommend you omit the orange zest. 

And well, I find that I do struggle a bit with my oven when I make loaves. The outer always seems to brown a bit too quickly whilst the inside has yet to cook. If you have any suggestions, I'd be glad to hear from you!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

sea garden korean restaurant @ railway pde., eastwood

I'm a keeper of mental lists. So on top of the day-to-day work that my brain needs to do, there are some extraordinary lists kept in my brain which get checked off as I go through them. There are lists of chores that I need to get through (I try to keep these as short as possible), there's lists for books that I want to read, people I want to catch up with but perhaps the longest list of them are my lists of recipes to make and restaurants to visit. On the latter of those lists, Sea Garden Korean Restaurant has been on it since January this year after I read Mashi's post about it here.

Not sure why it's taken me so long to visit this place considering it's in my suburb and just walking distance. I actually tried coming here once but somehow got sidetracked by a similar Korean restaurant just two doors down. I have to say though, there are quite a few enticing Korean eateries in Eastwood which are fantastic and well worth trying and yes, you may be like me and get distracted and try someplace that you hadn't quite planned for!

Nothing like an assortment of colourful side dishes to start a Korean meal. Great thing about these is that you can ask them for refills. When I eat out with J, it's usually the Kim Chi that gets topped up again and again, and again.

I know it doesn't sound all that exciting when it's a feature of every Korean restaurant but you can't have a Korean meal without Korean seafood pancake. In a way, I actually have a huge crush on the sauce that comes served with the pancake! I particularly love the cracked egg on this version at Sea Garden.

If you read Mashi's post, you'll see that she had this pork cutlet dish as well. Both the salad and pork cutlet have a generous serve of dressing and do everything to compliment the dish. 

I can't quite remember the name of this dish but it's rice cake (a lot of it) in a milky/eggy soup and topped with cuttings of dried seaweed. It's a rather filling dish but that soup is ever so soothing for the tummy.

From memory, the meal was only about $30 between the two of us and we were both contentedly full and waddling back to the car, parked just metres away next door in the carpark. If you're driving here, you should find parking just next to the restaurant or down railway parade quite easily so there's plenty of bonuses coming here.

The restaurant staff are very friendly or should I say motherly. It's a very tiny restaurant so probably not so suitable for big groups but for groups up to 4, it's a great option to have up your sleeve. Food is homely and enticing and the prices certainly won't break the budget.

white chocolate & berry muffins

I'm constantly on the lookout for new foodie mags and I kid you not, I get addicted to each new foodie mag that I find. There's been months where I haven't been able to control myself and bought every single foodie mag that was out that month. Fortunately, I've managed to exercise some self control and have cut  back on the ones I buy (after thoroughly going through each one of course) and only buying the ones with new recipes which I don't have. And well, if you follow all the foodie mags, you'll tend to find that a lot of the mags publish a lot of the same recipes, albeit with a little tweak here and there so it does help me cull down the ones that I do/don't buy. Gradually I'm getting better and picking the ones with the new recipes but let me just say, the temptation to buy all those mags is there!

I've adapted this recipe from Australian Appetite's 'Chocolate Indulgence'. I've rewritten it slightly as I found the steps happening out of order and also substituted the 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/2 cup skim milk with 1 cup full cream milk. Oh and all the reduced fat ingredients have been replaced with the naughty full fat ones. The original recipe also has the berries added at the start with the dry mix which I thought would colour the mix a bit too much. And yes, I have made white chocolate and berry muffins more than the once now and you'll know for sure the day that I have my own cafe, you will see this one on the menu!

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. In a bowl, combine 1 cup full cream milk, 1/3 cup melted butter, 1 tsp vanilla essence and 2 large eggs. Fold into the mix 2 cups self raising flour, 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup raw sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 cup white chocolate bits.

Add to the mix 1 1/2 cups mixed berries. Gently fold through to combine.

Divide the mix into 18 lined muffin tray holes and bake for about 25 minutes.

In case you're curious, at the moment I'm using this brand of self raising flour. It's a bit more expensive than homebrand (which I am nervous about using after discovering some insects in a bag I bought recently) and yet cheaper than your premium brands like White Wings.

After 25 minutes, lovely golden coloured muffins!

Remove muffins from trays and cool on a rack.

My main learnings from this recipe was that you can replace buttermilk with normal milk. The recipe will work the same way and I personally through these muffins were fabulous. They had just the right amount of sweetness saved me a trip to the supermarket to buy a carton of buttermilk which I'd probably end up wasting half of. 

It's strange how this recipe makes 18 muffins. Anyway if you're planning to use this recipe, you might consider halving the ingredients to make a slightly smaller batch. I'm just stubborn and always follow recipes to the letter (that's just me though and well, I guess it's always better following the recipe exactly on the first go).

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

old fashioned brownies

Who doesn't love a brownie? I've tried a handful of brownie recipes now and have yielded some very different results each time. So far, Donna Hay's recipe seems to be the most liked but quite honestly, I don't think I've come across a bad recipe. Some recipes do use a lot more butter than others and there's those which you'll eat and feel a little bit guilty but at the end of the day, you just need to eat in moderation. This recipe I have for you below is probably one of the less guilty brownies you can bake (yes you can bake your cake and eat it too!)

I'm really loving Linda Collister's 'Cakes and Bakes' - there's so many lovely recipes in this book and as you can see, I have a few bookmarked for the near future! Anyway, this brownie recipe claims to be a more old fashioned recipe using only cocoa and not melted dark chocolate (giving the brownie a much deeper and intense chocolate flavour. Try it out and I'll let you be the judge!)

Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Put 100g walnut pieces in an ovenproof dish and lightly toast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let to cool. Keep the oven on. Break 4 large eggs into a mixing bowl. Mix using an electric beater until frothy, then whisk in 300g caster sugar. Whisk continuously for about a minute and then gradually add in 140g melted unsalted butter in a steady stream. Then whisk in 1/2 tsp vanilla essence.

Sift in 140g plain flour and 75g cocoa powder and fold together the mix. When thoroughly combined, stir in the walnut pieces.

Transfer the mixture to a lined 20x25cm tin and spread evenly.

Bake for about 25 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out just clean. Remove tin from the oven.

Leave to cool completely before removing from the tin. Slice away as you desire.

I'm not usually a big fan of walnut pieces in brownies but I think this recipe could've done more than the 100g. From the cross-section you see above, it looks like there's hardly any at all. With only the cocoa in this recipe to give it's the chocolate flavour, I agree completely that you get a much more intense flavour but it is missing the gooiness which is much to look forward to when you are eating a brownie. On the plus side though, you probably won't be feeling too guilty having a few slices of this, and even a couple more.

There's actually also a soured cream and spice brownie in this cookbook which I have bookmarked to try. I will most certainly report back and let you know how I go!

Monday, 9 August 2010

sticky coffee bars

Hi there! I've been on a bit of a holiday and have come back rather relaxed, a kilo or two heavier maybe, plenty of photos to upload and feeling generally like I could tackle the world. I'm keen to shed a few of those extra kilos and hopefully the feeling of invincibility will last but let's see how we go!

I managed to upload all my holiday photos last night so no doubt you'll be seeing a few of those posts soon but before I get to those, there's a few more posts from the catering that I did that I want to share. Hopefully you might like this one because I most certainly did!

If I were to describe this recipe, I'd say that it's a more adult version of the chocolate brownie. You still have your crisp and chewy textures but in place of the rich chocolate taste, you get a good coffee kick out of this one (and don't worry, there's choc chips in the recipe for those craving chocolate). I've adapted the recipe from Linda Collister's 'Cakes & Bakes'.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Line a 20x20cm square baking tin (or tin of similar size).

In a large bowl, beat together 150g softened unsalted butter, 100g caster sugar and 100g brown sugar together until smooth and creamy. In a separate bowl, dissolve 1 tbsp instant coffee with 1 tbsp just-boiled water. 

Into the butter and sugar mix, beat in the coffee mixture followed by 1 large egg.

Roughly chop 70g whole hazelnuts.

Sift into the mixture 225g self raising flour and fold in. Then fold in 70g dark chocolate, 70g milk chocolate chips and the chopped hazelnuts.

Spoon the mixture into the lined tin, spread evenly and bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until golden and risen.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes before cutting.

I managed to get 25 slices out of the one tray. Can you see where I've taken a bite?

The recipe recommends that you eat this one within 3 days. I daresay it shouldn't be hard as I was quite tempted to gobble up a few of these (but had to control myself else I'd have a half empty box which wouldn't have looked too good).

Looking at these photos makes me want to bake another tray!