Thursday, 25 November 2010

jimmy's recipe malaysia @ george st., galeries victoria

With the boy being Malaysian and having a grandma that cooks all forms of Malaysian food, I rarely go out to Malaysian restaurants and even when I suggest it, the boy's response will be that 'My grandma can make it better at home'.  There is however one Malaysian restaurant that the boy doesn't mind going to and it's a place that we've been going to since we were in uni - Jimmy's Recipe Malaysia in Galeries Victoria (just opposite The Arthouse Hotel). It's a bit of a funny shaped restaurant with a cafeteria type setting where you order and pay at the counter and then you wait for your food before you take it to your table. If you are new to Malaysian cuisine, I'd say that this is a good starting point - the meals are very reasonably priced and in the words of a fellow Malaysian - the food is authentic.

My favourite Malaysian dish is Hainan Chicken Rice. The boy tells me that most places serve a Singaporean style version of the dish. If you were ever to eat Hainan Chicken Rice in Hainan, the rice is usually moulded into little balls. I would love to go to Hainan and just spend my holiday there eating Hainan Chicken Rice but in all reality, Jimmy's makes a rather good one and I don't have to travel far to get hold of a plate.

A good couple of minutes of deciding whether to get the Ipoh Hor-fun or the Prawn Har-mee, the boy decides on the former. If you look at the menu, the two dishes are actually quite similar which explains why the boy took so long. I thought the Hainan Chicken Rice was nicer.

A dish each is actually more than enough to fill you up but when you're not eating by yourself, it's a good time to try a few things on the menu. Thought we'd give the Roti Canai a go; disappointingly it was flat and not a bit fluffy but the satay chicken that came with it was delicious.

If you're planning to come here, I'd say that the Nasi Lemak and Laksa are the other two dishes that are worth trying. The first time I came here I had the Nasi Lemak, second time was the Laksa and well, I've been alternating between these two dishes and the Hainan Chicken Rice since then. Anyway, it's been  awhile since I've been here, good to come back and find that the food is just as good as ever!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

wholemeal raisin scones

'Okashi' has been my go to cookbook of late and well, out of all the books on my bookshelf, it's probably been the most used. I'm flicking through the pages now and am finding little bits of food stuck to the pages (which isn't all that appetising) but well, I can at least say I've tried that recipe and tell you whether it was a good one or a bad one.

I've mentioned this book a couple of times now but here's what it looks like. Some of the recipes are a little convoluted and could do with a rewrite but nonetheless the proportions and the ingredients work out and so far I've managed to bake some rather tasty treats out of it. Coming home on a weeknight, I thought I'd give the wholemeal raisin scone recipe a go.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. In a bowl, rub together 50g wholemeal flour, 170g plain flour, 1 tbsp baking powder with 80g softened unsalted butter. Add to the mixture 30g caster sugar and 1/2 tsp salt and combine till the mix resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add in 110g egg yolk and milk mixture (combine 1 egg yolk with enough fresh whole milk to make up amount), 40g raisins and mix until a smooth dough is formed. 

Place dough on a floured surface and knead lightly. Roll out to a thickness of about 2cm. Instead of cutting my scones into rounds, I simply sliced mine into squares with a knife. Remember to push the scones right up next to each other so that each scone pushes the other up when they expand. You'll find that you'll also get a scone that is more moist than when you spread them out.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until scones are golden brown. Remove from heat and cool on a wire rack.

Serve scones warm with butter and jam. Otherwise if you happen to have cream at home, make yourself some freshly whipped cream which I think is the best, but in the absence of cream, I think butter (a good dollop of it) makes a rather good substitute.

The texture of this scone was unlike any other I've made in the past - very short and crumbly and a tad salty even (although it could've been me being a little heavy handed with the salt). I know this will sound a little silly but it tasted very much like an Asian scone - the texture and taste is what you'd expect out of most Asian baked goods. Mum absolutely loved it (as it wasn't sweet at all) and well, I'm of two minds - it's so different to the scones I'm used to, it still tasted good but is it really a proper scone? Anyway, I've recently come across a stack of scone recipes so a bit more testing, I might be able to answer that question!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

the swiss cottage restaurant @ lurline st., katoomba

Just another quick post about my recent weekend in the Blue Mountains - we were there for 4 days so you can imagine, at lot of food and meals to get through! Dinner on the first night was at The Swiss Cottage Restaurant on Lurline Street in Katoomba (just a very short drive from where we were staying). We found out about it when we were at the Info Centre picking up pamphlets and looking for a cheap to mid range place to eat, The Swiss Cottage seemed like just the right place!

We were promptly at the door at 6pm which is when they start their dinner service.We actually made a booking beforehand and to be safe, I would make a booking as the restaurant filled up very quickly after we sat down. It's an absolutely gorgeous restaurant and I think this photo speaks a thousand words - need I say more?

A side of crunchy French bread and butter served in a very adorable mini basket.

Our entree of Stuffed Mushrooms - mushrooms stuffed with ham, cheese and parsley. It was a luscious serving of cheesy goodness and despite the small plate, it ended up being quite filling.

The boy's choice of White Farm Rabbit - farm rabbit in a basil sauce served with rosti. In so many ways like chicken but not.

I think this was the first time I'd eaten out at a Swiss restaurant and decided for a more traditional dish. Veal A La Creme is apparently a Swiss traditional meal - a combo of veal fillet and button mushrooms in a creamy white wine sauce and served with rosti.

We were considerably full after entrees and mains but thought why not, we were there anyway and it only made sense to get some dessert. Unable to decide on one, we ordered four! Le Petit Naughty - named for four mouthfuls of their best desserts.

The bill comes to the table in this rather cute little cow!

Really great place for dinner, staff are incredibly friendly and there's so many more items on the menu that I want to try! Saw a couple of tables next to us having the fondue which seems like one worth trying but otherwise the Veal a La Creme and the Le Petit Naughty were the ones ordered by most.

There's a selection of housemade produce available at the counter and I was tempted to buy what looked like a bag of rolled waffle cones; if I only I'd bought it! Anyway, Katoomba isn't too far a drive from Sydney, I'll definitely be coming back here soon!

Friday, 19 November 2010

katoomba st. cafe

I can't believe how quickly this year has gone by! And in the mad rush of work and not realising that I had so much leave saved up, I was lucky enough to take a few days off and have a nice and relaxing weekend in the Blue Mountains with the boy . We stayed at a gorgeous B&B (Edgelinks) and had a rather food filled weekend. It was a definitely a holiday that went by too quickly and I could only wish it were longer!

In my world, hot chocolates should always be served with freshly whipped cream and big marshmallows.

Giving the Ploughman's Lunch a go - it's toasted bread with cold roast meat, boiled eggs, pate, cheese, caramelised onion and relish.

A hearty pie with wedges for a particularly cold day up in the Blue Mountains.

I love this print!

So that's lunch at Katoomba Street Cafe!

After lunch we had a good wander down the road and looked in all the antique and second hand shops (of which they are many). Managed to be good but trust me, it was awfully tempting! 

Sunday, 14 November 2010

sweet expressions @ SWEETNESS - the patisserie

This post comes a little late but I guess late better than never! Sweet Expressions @ SWEETNESS was one of the events I attended as part of this year's Crave Sydney International Food Festival. I didn't make it to any of the Sugar Hits (which is what I usually scout out) but I think I more than well made up for it by going to Sweet Expressions which was one of the two events Gena (owner of Sweetness) hosted this year for the first time.

Unlike 'Tea on Tuesdays' which I also attended, Sweet Expressions was an art cross marshmallow evening spent in the Sweetness Kitchen - sounds a little cryptic so maybe a few photos might give you a better idea. To be quite honest, up until the day, I was actually unsure of what we were doing or what to expect but in the true nature of Gena and her patisserie, it was a most pleasant surprise and I had a really lovely evening!

The view from outside - the window display was created for the night by Yumi Takahashi who was co-hosting the evening with Gena.

Meeting Yumi - artist/water colour painter. Her work is stunning and part of the goodie bag we took home that night was one of her limited edition prints. I framed mine straight away and have it sitting on my table and it's ever so pretty!

In a nutshell, the evening was about marshmallows and art. We didn't actually get to make our own marshmallows but used Gena's marshmallows as a canvas for artwork. Here's an assortment of nibbles which we helped ourselves to over the 2 hour session.

It would've been good to have a hands-on session making marshmallows but nonetheless we did get to ask questions about making them and Gena was more than happy to explain the technicalities of making her best-selling product (and little do I need to explain why; try her marshmallows and you won't be eating any other marshmallow for good!) Here's artwork that the boy and I created that night, inspired by the lovely Yumi who I think is extremely talented and I would love to have more of her work to hang up at home! The colours we used were non-toxic pastels mixed with a little grappa - in case you're worried about non-toxic pastels, these are used for cake decorating also and are actually safe to eat.

The two hour session quickly drew to an end and the class of six of us had managed to create some very different and unique pieces of artwork. We also had tour through the kitchen and I just remember asking Gena a lot of questions and me falling in love with her and her patisserie! Here's the goodie bag we got to take home, the boy gave me his print so now I have two!

I really have a big girl-crush on Gena - her story of how she came to open up a Patisserie is both amazing and inspiring. She is so friendly and personable, stepping into her kitchen is like being welcomed home and there's so many things in her kitchen to look at, I could very well entertain myself for a day in her kitchen. Anyway Gena, please run more sessions next year; I thoroughly enjoyed both Tea on Tuesday and Sweet Expressions!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

green tea cookies

If I had to pinpoint my favourite baking ingredient, it would be none other than green tea powder (also known as matcha). It actually took a bit of trial and error before I got to know how to use the powder properly. I started buying what must've been a sugared green tea powder drink thinking it was right for baking (it wasn't, it barely has any flavour) and then finally came across the 50g tin cans of matcha (which is the right thing for baking being so green in colour but also rather expensive), but I started off using the powder ever so sparingly that my cakes would look hardly look even green, let alone taste like green tea.

Then I went to baking school and learnt that recipes which use weight measurements e.g. in grams and litres are much more accurate than your teaspoonfuls and tablespoonfuls and that explained a lot. A lot of the green tea recipes I was using asked for levelled teaspoons and similar measurements and simply, there just wasn't enough green tea to give the recipe flavour. As a guide, I wouldn't use any less than 5g of green tea powder if you are after the green tea flavouring in a baked good.

These green tea cookies are packed with flavour. The recipe is from Keiko Ishida's 'Okashi' which also has a recipe for green tea sable cookies (which I've previously posted about) - personally I think the sable version is nicer, this one is very crumbly in texture and doesn't keep as well (best eaten the day it's made). Preheat oven to 150 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together 100g plain flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 5g freen tea powder and 50g ground almonds. Add to the mix 15g rice syrup, 45g maple syrup, a pinch of sea salt and 25g grapeseed oil. Fold together until combined (it will be quite crumbly even at this stage).

Don't ask me what I was thinking. I individually rolled each cookie by hand when I could've just as easily rolled it into a log, chilled it for a bit and then slice much quicker, but I didn't.

Bake cookies for 15-20 minutes on a lined baking tray, then remove from heat and leave to cool on a wire rack.

FYI: I decorated my cookies by stabbing them in a criss cross manner with a fork just before they went into the oven to bake. Completely unnecessary and personally I don't think the hole marks look as a great on a round cookie as they do on square cookies (which is featured in the book).

These were made for the catering do I did a couple of weekends back. I'm curious if there was anyone at the catering do who ate my previous green tea cookies and also these ones, if you read this blog, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

chefs gallery restaurant @ george st., regent place

It's not hard to get to know me. I like food, I love baking (and will bake at all hours of the day), I like cooking (but rarely get the chance to cook up anything lavish), I have a lot of of cookbooks, I collect recipes, I strangely have a large number of food soft toys and well, last but not least, if I see a place serving pig shaped buns, I'm more than than likely going to go there to try.

That's more or less my story about going to Chefs Gallery which recently opened at Regents Place in the city. I saw their pig shaped buns and wanted to go their to try and I did. I was catching up with my a good friend of mine who I haven't really caught up with since high school and well, I don't think she found me too weird for wanting to go there because of their buns! FYI: The buns are actually part of their dessert menu, there's plenty more other things you can try!

Diced chilli chicken tossed with handmade noodles. I didn't find this chilli at all but had a good level of spice in it to make it our favourite dish of the night.

Chef's own golden snowflake chicken which is a lightly crumbed chicken fillet (very crispy, tender and moist) and served with noodles in a pumpkin soup. Whilst I was intrigued about the 'snowflake' chicken, I actually found the pumpkin soup a little more different and something I didn't quite expect in a Chinese restaurant.

Lightly pan fried cabbage and pork dumplings - bit disappointed with this one as they were merely dumpling wrappers loosely coiled around the filling and not enclosed. I like my dumplings enclosed so that they retain all the soup goodness which I think a dumpling should have.

Our 2 desserts - Steamed pumpkin pastry dumpling filled with lotus paste and the highly awaited Steamed sesame 'piggy face' bun. The 8 year old at the next table (could've been younger) gave me an odd look as I gushed over which piggy to eat (there's a boy and a girl pig) and no doubt, he thought I was a little strange in the head (I think he was just jealous!)

Overall, a very attractive and yummy dinner. In the footsteps of Din Tai Fung, the service is efficient and it seems like they've doing a pretty good job with the line outside the front door extending a fair way down the street. With the queue outside, it's understandable that you'll be hurried along to finish your dinner a bit quicker but as long as there's food on your table (giving you a big hint here), they tend not to disturb you. The seating is a little tight so expect to hear the conversation at the two tables beside you (even if you try not to) and well, if you're like me, stare down little kids that make odd faces at you when you are trying to eat your 'piggy face' bun!

Monday, 8 November 2010

cream cheese brownies

Call me crazy but I think some cookbooks talk to me - they beckon me to buy them and they do so quite relentlessly. This latest addition to my cookbook collection was one I picked up at Kinokinuya when they recently had 20% off cookbooks. I'd actually strolled in one day with no intention to buy and end up going back into the shop the next day and heading to the counter with it. I blame the cookbook.

The cookbook is 'Home Bake' by Eric Lanlard. I didn't actually pay much attention to who he was but was more flicking through the cookbook and deciding that I wanted to make every recipe. It just happened to be that I flicked on Foxtel one day and here Eric was with his show 'Glamour Puds' (which I've been religiously following since I've discovered it (those with Foxtel, new episodes are on 7.30pm Mondays on the Lifestyle Food channel). I wish more of his recipes on his show were actually in his cookbook!!

FYI: I doubled the following recipe to make a big tray of Cream Cheese brownies for my recent catering event - these smell absolutely divine as you're making them. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease a baking tin with butter and line with making paper.

Melt together 150g unsalted butter and 200g chocolate in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring occasionally (the bowl should not touch the water). Remove the bowl from the heat and cool slightly. Stir in 250g caster sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract and a pinch of salt into the butter chocolate mixture, then whisk in 3 eggs and beat until smooth. Stir in 100ml freshly made strong coffee, then sift in 100g plain flour and carry on beating till glossy. Set aside.

For the marbling mixture, in a bowl beat together 150g cream cheese until smooth, then stir in 60g caster sugar, 1 beaten egg and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Spoon the chocolate mixture into the tin first, then add the cream cheese marbling mixture and use a knife to cut through to create a marbled effect. Bake for 30 minutes (covering in the last 10 minutes of cooking)

Allow to cool in the tin before cutting into squares.

I have to say this again but this brownie smelt absolutely divine whilst I was mixing it together, when it was baking in the oven and even when it came out of the oven. Unlike the last Donna Hay cream cheese brownie I made (where the cream cheese sank to the bottom), the cream cheese in recipe was artfully marbled all the way through the brownie. I had a tiny nibble of this one (as I needed every slice I could get for the catering, as this was a last minute addition due to my failing lemon polenta mini cake) and wow, how deliciously rich and decadent did it taste! 

There's a recipe for ricotta, apple and cinnamon cheesecake in the book which I slobber over everytime I flick to the page and well, I think I will very much make that recipe next!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

lemon polenta mini cakes

When asked why I keep buying recipe books when I have so many anyway, there's many number of reasons which I can offer. I buy recipe books because they have recipes I want to make in them; I like that particular author; I want to learn about a different style of cooking and every now and then, I'll buy a recipe book for that one recipe and 'Manna from Heaven' by Rachel Grisewood was one of those books that I bought for this very reason. 

The recipe in the book is for a 24cm round Lemon Polenta Cake but the recipe also suggests that you can make mini cakes and a photo of the mini is actually what's featured in the book for this recipe. Having made and tried the recipe now,  I'm hands up in favour for the mini cakes - not only are they adorable to look at, they are just the right size as a mini treat throughout the day.

Following recipe is for 24 mini cakes which I quadrupled for my catering do. Unfortunately, things didn't go as smoothly as planned and I urge you to check whether you have non-stick cooking pans at home before you pour your batter into one. Out of the 4 trays I made, only one tray made it through.

Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Grease a 24 hole mini muffin tray. In a large bowl, cream together 225g softened unsalted butter and 225g caster sugar until lump free. Slowly beat in 3 eggs, then fold in 110g ground almonds, 110g shredded coconut, 110g polenta, zest of 2 lemons, juice of 2 lemons, 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp vanilla essence.

Pour into strictly non stick baking tins. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden.

Cool in the tin.

Turn out on a wire rack. Sadly, this was my one tray of cakes that managed to safely unmould from the tins. The others stuck and ended up having to go into the bin.

Place in colourful cupcake liners.

To make the icing, combine together 225g icing sugar and about 3 tbsp lemon juice in a bowl until smooth. Drizzle over the top of the mini cakes, leaving the icing to set before you tuck in.

I ended up eating a lot of the cakes that didn't manage to unmould from the tins and didn't try it with the icing but I can attest to the fact that the recipe is a keeper. The texture of the cake is similar to a friand but  with even more crumb (which is why a non-stick pan is required as trying to unmould these, I had the cake wanting to break up no matter how delicately I tried to remove them.) If you're thinking that keeping these in the oven for longer might help, it didn't because too long in the oven, the outer of the cakes gets very brown and very thick and sticky to eat.

So in the end, there was just the one box of lemon polenta cakes for my catering do. Hardly enough to feed 100 but I hope that the ones that got to try it out liked it!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

blue chip chocolate chip cookies

If I were to speak about foodies in general, I'd say that the one defining character about foodies is the passion to search out food and learn more about it. There's other things which come with being a foodie and in my case includes the hoarding of cookbooks, the purchasing of food shaped toys and ornaments and above all else, having say 20 chocolate chip cookies recipes (the majority of which I haven't tried making) yet I'm constantly in search of that extra one, or maybe two. There's never really quite enough!

I've recently had my copy of David Lebovitz's 'The Great Book of Chocolate' sitting by my desk and after making his recipe for congo bars, then chocolate cashew cookies, I'd gradually marked out the next recipes in line to try and lo and behold, welcome to the almighty 'Blue Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies'!

After several trips to several supermarkets over a span of weeks, the Nestle chocolate chips didn't go on sale (they are usually my brand of choice) so I resorted to trying out the Franklin's No Frills dark chocolate chips. On opening up the bag, the chips were a lot smaller but hey, just over a dollar for a bag of choc chips compared to the Nestle ones which were going for $4.25!

Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Line baking trays with baking paper. In a large bowl, beat together 100g caster sugar, 120g firmly packed light brown sugar with 115g soft unsalted butter until smooth. Then mix in 1 large egg, 1 tsp vanilla extra and 1/2 tsp baking soda. Stir in 175g plain flour and 1/4 tsp salt. Mix in 200g chocolate chips and 130g chopped toasted walnuts.

Scoop the cookie dough into roughly 1 tbsp balls, spacing them apart on the baking sheets.

Bake for 18 minutes or until pale golden brown. 

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

If you are looking for a chocolate chip cookie recipe, look no further, this one is it! Out of the oven, these cookies are soft in the centre with a slightly crispy outer and had I not told anyone that I'd made these, you would think these came straight out of the oven at Mrs Field's (and allow me to side track here, I actually bought mum the Mrs Field's cookbook for Christmas one year and the chocolate chip cookie recipe in the book tastes nothing like the real thing!) Anyway, once these cookies have cooled down, they then taste more like the Amos cookies which are also my favourites - have I convinced you enough to make this recipe?

And hey, who said you needed to use the best chocolate you can get hold of for baking - these No Frills ones from Franklins tasted great and did that squidgy melty thing when they came out of the oven which made me grab cookie after cookie till I had to stop myself as I was making these for my catering do. So yes, I'm converted and if you haven't tried No Frill dark chocolate chips before, I do suggest you give them a go. I nearly can buy 3 bags of these as opposed to one bag of Nestle chocolate chips, I think the choice is quite obvious!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

peanut butter cookies

I was very lucky to be offered the opportunity to cater again for my friend's church and just like last time, the brief was open as to what I would make - I bounced a few ideas off my friend but was still making changes at the eleventh hour due to various unforeseen mishaps which I'll come to recount. The only addition to the brief was to make the quantity for each item (the catering was for 100) as opposed to making lots of different things. It seemed easy enough when my friend first mentioned it but after baking tray after tray of cookies to hit the hundred mark, it really wasn't quite as easy as I thought it would be!

If you've followed this blog for some time, you'll probably notice that a lot of the recipes I make are quite simple; I do experiment on the occasion but coming home from work with maybe an hour or two to spare, the amount of time really lends itself to simple recipes which are quick to whip up. Lately, I've been trying a few new ingredients just to shake things up a bit and I guess make eating sweets (of which I eat a lot) a bit more healthy. Here's the jar of organic rice syrup I picked up to make this recipe of peanut cookies.

FYI: I quadrupled the following recipe to get the quantity I was after. I also replaced the ground peanuts for just crunchy peanut butter which is another ingredient in the recipe. Start by preheating the oven to 160 degrees. Line baking trays. In a large bowl, sift together 80g plain flour, 40g wholemeal flour, 1/8 tsp and baking powder. Add in 60g rice syrup, 50g maple syrup, 110g crunchy peanut butter and 50g grapeseed oil and mix well. The cookie dough should be soft and sticky.

Take about 1 tbsp cookie dough using a spoon and place on the prepared baking tray. 

Flatten cookie with a fork. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from heat and leave to cool on a wire rack. The cookies will be soft coming out of the oven so let them cool down to harden up. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature and this should last you about 10 days.

This recipe was meant to make 25 cookies and having quadrupled the original recipe, it would make sense that I would come out with 100 cookies or more (as I tend to make my cookies on the small, bite size) but I just managed to get about 70 or so. A little annoying as the plan was to hit 100 and I reckon the picture in the book deceptively make the cookies look bigger than the should be but then again, I should've remembered that it's quite common across Japanese/Chinese cookbooks where the serving sizes are generally a lot smaller than the recipes you'll find in English/American cookbooks.

Taste-wise, the rice syrup definitely made a huge difference - the cookies came out sweet but without the teeth numbing sweetness which most recipes tend to sway towards. Rice syrup is a little more expensive than caster sugar but reading about it, there's health benefits to be accrued at the expense. Anyway, I picked up an extra jar today for just under $5 so hopefully will try a few other different recipes with it and see how it turns out!