Tuesday, 28 June 2011

white chocolate & peanut butter cupcakes

My mum has been spoiling me lately with cookbooks; added to my collection are 'The Golden Book of Chocolate', 'The Golden Book of Cookies', 'Chocolat', 'The Le Cordon Bleu Collection' (which is a collection of 20 titles) and let's not forget dad who picked up several foodie DVDs in the recent sales. Anything food related leaves me giddy with excitement and I've been eagerly pouring through the latest new additions with a fine toothed comb - selecting recipes to make and try out. My eyes fell for the white chocolate peanut butter cupcakes in 'The Golden Book of Chocolate' (which is a collection of over 300 recipes).

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line a 12 hole muffin tray. In a large bowl, beat together 60g softened butter, 125g crunchy peanut butter, 100g dark brown sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract until creamy. Add in 1 egg until blended. Sift in 150g wholewheat flour, 50g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt and beat into the mix with 125mL milk. Stir in 180g white chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, filling each two-thirds full. Bake for approx. 25 minutes.

Here's how they look in the cookbook compared to how mine's turned out.

Cool on a wire rack. I actually find it strange that this recipe calls them cupcakes, they actually taste and look more like muffins. I always see cupcakes as being a lot more moist and sweet. 

This is the perfect recipe for the peanut butter fanatic - a bite into this leaves you with peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth. The white chocolate provides a little bit of sweetness but if anything, it's the peanut butter which will get your attention. 

Saturday, 25 June 2011

kintaro @ young st., neutral bay

This particular night, we'd had our heart set on going to Ryo's Noodles in North Sydney but after missing a turn and driving  too far forward, we found ourselves in Neutral Bay. There's actually quite a lot of restaurants in Neutral Bay and I guess one of the reasons why we don't go as often as we could is because it's so far away. Well chance had it that we were in the area and took our pick of restaurants to try - being that we were after Japanese noodles, it only made sense that we picked Kintaro Restaurant: a Japanese restaurant serving up home-style Japanese food.

Sometimes I think I should go to restaurants carrying a notepad and pen to write down the name of dishes. This dish had a much fancier name than I'm going to give it - I'm calling it the Baked Eggplant with Miso. Being as it's baked, the skin of the eggplant is way too tough to eat (I tried) but the inside is gloriously soft and melty and very delicious.

Seafood Hotpot which is a decent serving for 2 people. For a cold night, it was great to get some warm soup inside us.

Sukiyaki Don. They actually had Sukiyaki on the menu but given we wanted to try the seafood hotpot also, the Sukiyaki Don was the perfect item to order; this way we got to try both.

There's an extensive menu on offer here; much more so than you would get at an average Japanese restaurant. I find most of the newer Japanese restaurants simply serve up the typical Sashimi, Sushi, Udon, Teriyaki Chicken... definitely not the case here. You'll find some more foreign names popping up across the menu - that's how I came about to order the Baked Eggplant and really, it was a most pleasant surprise.

If you're planning to come here, there's ample parking on the side streets nearby but suggest you make a booking. The restaurant filled up soon after we stepped in. Oh - and it's very toasty inside the restaurant; making it perfect for a cold winter's night!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

thai noodle hut @ victoria rd., gladesville

The boy and I have been venturing further afield to look for good places to eat. Our latest suburb seems to be Gladesville where we've been to Been Read and now Thai Noodle Nut which I thought was rather damn good. The boy was a bit skeptical at first as not soon after we stepped in and sat down, the exhaust fans to the kitchen didn't seem to be working and the whole restaurant seemed to steam up and we were looking at each across the table through a mist of fog. I'm not even exaggerating here. Our vision either improved or the steam actually went away but once the food came to the table, we got busy eating so did forget about it.

A generous serving of Pad Thai. Slightly drier in texture than most other Pad Thai's I've had but delicious nonetheless.

A fiery bowl of jungle curry. I love spicy food and the more spice the better. My nose always runs when I eat spicy food so I look a bit stupid but at least I'm enjoying my meal!

Tom Yum Soup - I really want to learn how to make this. Again a spicy choice but packed with lots of seafood and mushrooms and a soup I wish came in a bottomless bowl.

The great thing about eating Thai food is that it's never expensive and you always get a meal that is packed full of flavour and leaves you with just the right amount of fullness - Thai Noodle Hut was certainly no exception. The restaurant was packed the night we went - lots of families, couples and plenty of people stepping in to grab some quick takeaway. From ordering, the food doesn't take long to get to the table. To be very honest with you, there's not much service here, you order and pay at the start and once they bring the food to the table, they don't really interfere with you. We actually left the restaurant feeling a little odd thinking we should at least say bye but the waitresses were busy behind the counter doing their own thing. But I guess sometimes that's what I'm after in meal, a good meal and very little interference from the staff asking me how my meal went - well let me just say now, it went fine thank you!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

comfy apple crumble

Between my mum and I, we have an awful lot of gadgets at home. The bread machine permanently lives in the laundry now as we've stopped using it, I have a donut machine, an ice shaving machine, a waffle machine, a takoyaki machine, a jaffle maker, an ice cream machine, a soft serve machine (which mum got for her birthday this year) and there's still the regular appliances like the steamer, the sandwich maker, the toaster which adorn our kitchen benches. I really didn't think we'd need an apple peeler when some of our machines at home haven't even been used but I've changed my mind, this is one of the coolest gadgets I've ever seen!

Here's the apple peeler at work. The apple goes in one side, you crank the handle on the other and off it peels and cores the apple.

The peeled, cored and slinkified green apples are now ready to be used for a comfy apple crumble. The recipe is from Jo Seager's 'Everyday Cooking'.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Coat a baking dish with non stick baking spray. Slice the 'slinkified' apples and place them in a layer in the prepared dish. Mix the juice of 1 lemon with 1/2 cup water and drizzle over the apple slices. Place the grated rind of 1 lemon, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 3/4 brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 1 cup rolled oats and 100g softened unsalted butter in a bowl and mix well. Sprinkle this over the apples.

Bake for 40 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.

Absolutely delicious served with plain vanilla ice cream (I do recommend Connosieur).

With the cold weather, I've been doing a few tray bakes and puddings and this comfy apple crumble has been one of my favourites. Best enjoyed warm but reheats pretty well the next day - just put it back in the oven at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes. One of the things I really loved about this recipe was the hint of lemon you get when you bite into the baked apple - absolutely delectable and really one would hardly think that putting sour green apples with lemons (which are also sour) would make for such a comfort dessert (it definitely wasn't one bit sour at all!) 

Monday, 20 June 2011

tara tea room @ george st., the rocks

Tara Tea Room has been on my list of places to visit for awhile now. I remember reading about it here and also here. What cute little tea cosies they have! And if you're a big fan of teapots, tea, scones, jams and a lazy afternoon of being like a nanna, this is exactly the place you should be. You can actually miss it when you walk down the road so look out for the Irish Design Shop and walk towards the back where you'll find Tara Tea Room.

On this visit, the boy and I opted for two devonshire teas. Each devonshire tea comes with a pot of tea and a plate of two scones with sides of jam and clotted cream. English Breakfast is my tea of choice with the boy opting for a pot of Earl Grey for something a bit fancier.

Plain Scones and also Cherry scones were on offer this particular Sunday.

A perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

The scones here come on the large side so I had help from the boy finishing my two. Taste wise, these are certainly the best scones I've had (although occasionally I make a pretty mean scone too!) I love the display of tea cosies (and was close to buying the one that looked like an owl) and tucked in where we were (away from the hustle and bustle of the Rocks markets), this was the perfect way to end the weekend. They also have different flavours on scones on rotation depending on the day/time of day so plenty to bring you back for another visit!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

st. malo's bakery @ willoughby rd., crows nest

Places that serve up all day breakfast, by default, are places that I always go back to. During the week, I'm usually on the run and breakfast is a rather odd assortment of foods, sometimes just a coffee, other times cereal, if I'm lucky maybe a bit of toast so when it comes to the weekend (when I have all the time in the world to sleep in and catch up on myself), a late brekkie is certainly most welcome.

A couple of weeks back, we enjoyed a late brekkie over lunch time with friends that we hadn't seen in a while. They'd recently come back from a trip and we had much to chat and talk about as a good deal has happened over the last couple of months. St. Malo's Bakery was a place that they'd heard about and were keen to try; no questions there as when you're outside the shop, the sight of pastries and baked goods will naturally draw you in.

Coffees and hot chocolates for the table.

Both boys opted for the Breakfast of the Kings (aka big breakfast) and happily ate their way through the plate - there were certainly no complaints there about the quantity or quality of the meal.

Char's choice of Mushroom on Toast.

My choice of Croque Monsieur with a side of Sweet Potato Chips. If you're not all that hungry, this dish could easily serve two.

There was plenty else on the menu that I was keen to try. What got my attention were some gigantic muffins (I have a soft spot for muffins - as simple as they are, I actually prefer muffins to other heavily decorated and assembled cakes) but probably one for next time to share with a friend over coffee. Service here was very friendly - we started late, chatted away and before we know it they were starting to close off sections for the day but they were not pushy at all for us to get out.  We finally did leave though with very satisfied stomachs and a walk through the local markets and shops nearby was a great way to spend a weekend afternoon. Thanks for the company Char & Rookie!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

duroo korean restaurant @ rowe. st, eastwood

So I thought I'd tried all the Korean restaurants in Eastwood worth trying and then Minto shut down and reopened as Duroo Korean Restaurant. I actually liked Minto (it's a rather cute name too) so not sure what went on there but well, as one restaurant door shuts, another opens, well strictly I walk in and check it out and report back.

One of the things I use to judge how 'good' a Korean restaurant is is their selection of side dishes at the start of the meal. Duroo offers a good cross section of mild and spicy, assorted vegetables too. Great thing is that the waitress came round to top up the side dishes without us even asking.

One of the dishes I always order is Pajon (aka Korean pancake). It's a very decent sized serving here and  rather tasty too - just the right amount of crunch and seafood pieces mixed in the pancake.

Bibimbap - another popular Korean dish which I love eating; the more chilli sauce in it, the better! Remember to stir quickly when it gets to the table so that the rice doesn't cook and burn where it touches the hot stone bowl.

Spicy Hotpot. Definitely spicy and a great choice for a winter's night.

In some ways, I think Duroo has come along replacing Minto but all that's really changed is the name. Duroo is more or less offering the same menu as its previous owner  and like all the Korean restaurants to be found in Eastwood, the cooking and the food is solid and great value too. This definitely goes on my list of places to go back to (and well, I really only have two lists going on and to be honest, I have yet to come across a place offering bad Korean food.)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

doughnut muffins

As a kid, I was fascinated by the donut machine at Donut King. You'd see me hover by the side of the glass window watching the machine churn out donut after donut - it's really rather therapeutic. Now that I'm much older (and no longer a kid), things haven't changed all that much - I walked by a donut machine the other day and was telling the boy how fascinated I was by the machine; my fascination was met by a smile and a nod, I think the boy knows how crazy I am when it comes to anything food related.

I actually received a donut machine for X'mas one year - have yet to crack it open but this machine is nothing like the one you get at Donut King. When it comes to donuts, it needs oil and it needs to be fried and this machine contraption I have just doesn't quite cut it but I am curious as to how they might turn out (continuing my previous post, add donuts to the list of things which I have yet to try). So whilst I procrastinate about actually making proper donuts, I bring you a cheat's version of a donut in a muffin.

Grease a 12 cup muffin man. In a large bowl, beat together 175g softened unsalted butter and 200g caster sugar until light and creamy. Add in 2 lightly beaten eggs. Sift in 375g plain flour, 3/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp bicarb soda, a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp nutmeg. Gently fold in 250mL milk. Spoon the mix into the prepared muffin tin. 

Bake in a 180 degrees celsius preheated oven for 20 minutes until the muffins are lightly brown and firm to the touch.

For the topping, mix together 100g caster sugar with 1 tsp ground cinnamon. Whilst the muffins are still warm from the oven, brush with melted butter and sprinkle over with the cinnamon and sugar mix.

Enjoy warm or cold.

This recipe makes for a rather doughy muffin which isn't too unlike the texture of an actual donut. Great thing is that there's no frying involved (aka splattering oil which does scare me a bit) so something you can easily knock up when you're after a sugar and cinnamon donut fix.

Monday, 13 June 2011

strawberry & rhubarb muffins

I'm one of those people who perpetually have a billion things that I want to do, I keep talking about it and sometime down the track (in some case years later), I finally get round to doing it. And as someone who claims she bakes a lot, baking with rhubarb should've been crossed off the list years ago but it was only just the other month that I finally picked up a bunch of rhubarb at the markets and finally did it once and for all.

Armed with a new ingredient, I use it to make what I know best which is none else than the muffin. Here's the recipe for 'Strawberry & Rhubarb' Muffins from a most trusty muffin cookbook I have called 'Mad about muffins'.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line a 12 cup muffin tin. In a large bowl, sift together 300g plain flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground ginger and 185g light muscovado sugar. Add to the dry mix, 100g melted unsalted butter. In a small bowl, combine together 2 eggs, 185mL milk and 1 tsp vanilla essence. Fold this through with the butter mix. Fold in 30g sultanas.

Fold in 100g rhubarb chopped into 5mm diced cubes.

Add 200g chopped strawberries (I used frozen strawberries which left the muffins a little bit more moist than it probably should've be so definitely recommend fresh strawberries if you can use them). Gently fold into the batter, avoid overmixing.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin and sprinkle each muffin top with demerara sugar for some extra crunch. Bake for 25 minutes until well risen and golden.

Here you have it! A Strawberry & Rhubarb Muffin.

So if you're wondering what else I have on that list of things to do (well, baking related anyway), there's still ingredients like molasses (the jar is sitting in the pantry waiting to be used), making macarons with the Italian meringue method (egg white powder purchased), cocoa nibs (well I bought that when Wholesome Foods had their sale!), cooking with kirsch (so I finally managed to get a hold of a bottle at Dan Murphy's the other day - not every place seems to have it) and well, that list seems to keep growing and scarily enough, I keep opening up the pantry and finding something else that I've bought and just seemed to have forgotten about! Hmm...oops!

Monday, 6 June 2011

adriano zumbo's chocolate masterclass

Unashamedly, I stalk Adriano Zumbo like a bad rash. I love reading about what he's been up to, visiting his cafes and generally being in places where he's likely to be in. I talk Adriano Zumbo this and Adriano Zumbo that and the boy just thinks I'm slightly mental. Such is the life of being me! Actually reading this month's delicious magazine last night, I saw an ad for the DVD release of Zumbo's show - tee hee, guess who'll be getting herself a copy? Me!

As part of this year's 30 days of Home, Food & Wine Show, the fabulous Zumbo hosted a Chocolate Masterclass which I eagerly attended with the boy and two of my good friends. Being the day before Good Friday, it was meant to be an easy relaxing night into the weekend but traffic ended up being atrocious and we ran our way to make it in time for the start of the demonstration.

Woot woot - the man of mystery, Adriano Zumbo!

Platters of delectable food went around the room as we watched Zumbo's demonstration. There were plenty of these scallops with chorizo to go around.

This was Horden Pavillion transformed into a kitchen/demonstration room. Very odd considering the same four of us were here the week or so earlier seeing The Script in concert.

An unidentified crunchy munchy.

Cute little poached eggs with asparagus and smoked salmon on toast.

Here's another one of many Zumbo photos that I took that night.

As we were at the back of the room, we spent most of the time looking at the TV screen to see where Zumbo was up to (he was demonstrating the making of a Chocolate Balsamic Tart, recipe which came in the goodie bag that got handed out at the end of the night). As promised, the audience got to try the tart but it was ever so little.

If that little boy had moved out of the way, that would've been me staring longingly at the finished tart.

The boys I went with that night shook their heads as Mashi and I rushed up to the front, lined up in the queue, eager to get a photo with Zumbo. I even went to the extent of asking him a billion questions when I got to the head of the queue (and yes, probably would've had a few people tut-tut-tutting behind me but I ignored them). Great to finally speak to Mr Zumbo!

So I did try to get tickets to the Masterclass that Zumbo is hosting in December as part of the Harvey Norman Gourmet Kitchen. Unfortunately got in too late and have been told to get in touch later in December as and when they may release a second session. Fingers crossed I'll be lucky and get myself a ticket!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

badde manors cafe @ glebe pt. rd., glebe

It's been one of those months where I've been out and about, catching up with friends, trying out new food places, attending events, celebrating birthdays and when I'm not doing any of those things, it's been rather relaxing to kick back with a cup of tea, read a book, watch a movie, read some new blogs and just do anything that seems to feel right at the time. I guess you could call it my yearly blog holiday where I abandon this blog catch up on myself. Anyway, time to bring you up to speed on what I've been up to!

If you're after a place that's a little out of the ordinary, let me recommend you try Badde Manors Cafe on Glebe Pt. Road in Glebe. I've walked past this cafe a fair few times but only got round to trying it one night as we were on our way to Fox Studios to meet Adriano Zumbo (well see him demonstrate anyway - not actually hang out with him as much as I wish, anyway post to follow). Little did I know this cafe only served up vegetarian food and call me slow, it was only a good few minutes into reading the menu that the boy pointed out that there was no meat on the menu! (but you must admit, there actually aren't that many places in Sydney which only serve up vegetarian food)

A refreshing house made lemonade for me. 

There were four of us eating that night and we ordered all our dishes to share. A rather delicious and filling vegetarian lasagna served with slices of toasted buttered bread.

Mixed Lebanese platter - my favourite being the fried slices of haloumi (they could really just make that a dish of its own!)

A generous serving of Mixed Mushroom risotto.

Corn fritters with salsa - my favourite dish of the night.

All I can say is that I've been severely misguided when it comes to vegetarian food. Maybe through bad experiences at other places where there hasn't been enough food on the plate or the food has lacked flavour or just been so expensive for some vegies on a plate. Eating at Badde Manor's cafe was worth every penny! Each dish was packed with flavour, filling too as the four of us struggled to clean up the plates. I have my eye on the Tofu burger to try the next time I'm here.

There's actually a lot of dining options on Glebe Pt. Road. I'm waiting for Mashi to finish her exam and we can go food crawling down the road. Yip yip hooray!