Wednesday, 31 August 2011

crumb italian kitchen & pizzeria @ majors bay rd., concord

My two eating hotspots at the moment are Concord and Gladesville. Both suburbs are meccas for good food, have plenty of street parking nearby and the quality of the food has been top notch! A few weekends ago, the boy and I headed off to Concord (we sort of alternate between Concord and Gladesville now) and after a short wander down the road, ducking into restaurants and checking out their menus, Crumb got our attention and we sat down for a yummy and somewhat large-portioned lunch.

I really should write down what I eat when I go to restaurants so I can at least blog about them properly but I always forget. Hopefully my descriptions are enticing enough for you to go check it out! Anyway, here's our calzone of tomato salsa, cheese and ham, served with a garnishing of rocket. It's twice the size of any calzone I've ever had. The crust was crisp and the filling very juicy, but did get cold quickly cause we just couldn't eat quick enough. Also, I think the menu said this was meant to have prosciutto but it's definitely ham (but good ham).

Penne Pasta with Prawns & Mushrooms with a tomato cream sauce (served with parmesan cheese). Really enjoyed this one and certainly wouldn't have minded eating this myself and not sharing with the boy!

Very quick and attentive service and sitting where we were, we could see the kitchen in action and these guys were quick. From order to table, I reckon it would've been about 15 minutes max. You could see the pizza dough being rolled and stretched; these guys have the art of it down pat!

The interior of the restaurant is classy. We didn't have any wine that day but the boy's eyes were wandering around the room admiring their wine collection (you see the boy knows these things cause he used to work at a liquor store. I, on the other hand, have no idea.) Maybe we'll come here next time and have a glass of wine too!

Monday, 29 August 2011

jaffa muffins

People don't understand me. They ask me what my favourite cake is and I'll tell them that I like muffins - they're my favourite cake in the world! I see a few confused faces looking back at me and then follows the comments of 'but they're so dry', 'I on the other hand prefer this cake...', 'Are you sure muffins are your favourite cake?' Well they are, they come in ever so many combinations, you can mix up a batch in no time and they're always really tasty. Some people make a bad muffin, I don't like them so much but the ones I make are really quite good (not to blow my own horn or anything but they are). I blame those people who make bad muffins who give muffins a bad name.

At the moment, I'm on a bit of agenda to use up some baking ingredients I have at home. Partly because a recent trip to Costco left me with purchases which I can't quite store in the pantry and currently crowding the dining table much to my dad's dislike... ah well! The second reason is I'm on holiday soon so will be a little quiet on the blog front.

Preheat oven to 190 degrees. Line a 12 hole muffin tin. In a large bowl, mix together 300g plain flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, a pinch of salt. In a separate bowl,  combine 200g caster sugar, 1 large egg, 180mL milk, 125mL vegetable oil, 2 tbsp finely grated orange zest, 2tsp vanilla extract and mix well. Stir in the orange mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir in 180g dark chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin liners. 

Bake for approx. 20-25 minutes until golden and risen.

Cool the muffins on a cooling rack. 

And the last step to all my recipes is... dig in!

The chocolate chips I used were the ones I bought from Costco. They made my muffins taste awfully American - I think it's cause the chocolate was a lot bitter than the ones you get from Nestle here and that's what I associate with American chocolate. Every bite of it just shouted out at me - this tastes American (as bizarre as it sounds). That bag of chocolate is huge and I hardly made a dent to it making this batch of muffins. Officially on the hunt for more chocolate chip recipes. If you have any good ones, please throw them my way!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

tudari korean bbq restaurant @ eastwood

I'm very close to being able to say that 'I've tried every single Korean restaurant in Eastwood'; recently adding Tudari Korean BBQ restaurant to the tried list. I guess this post is a little misleading, whilst a bbq restaurant, I didn't actually end up eating bbq, opting for one of their hotpots instead which was absolutely perfect for a cold night.

Korean side dishes are one of the things I look forward to to start a Korean meal. This place trumps them all in terms of the number of side dishes on offer; 14 in total. Free refills too and we didn't even need to wave down a waiter, they just came to the table and grabbed the empty dishes and replaced them. They're all tasty side dishes too save maybe for one (this one which had dried little fishies in it; the sight of their eyes always puts me off).

With the partitioning in between each table, there's plenty of privacy. Perfect for the boy and I as we ate our meal and sipped happily over our bottle of shochu, giggling away. The shabu shabu hotpot more than adequately fed the two of us as you can see. 

I couldn't help but order one of my favourite things in the world - dumplings! A larger serving than what I thought it would be but were very tasty. Could be that we were eating too slowly so the skin of the dumplings did dry out a little but we cleared the plate regardless. Actually, I think the boy and I always clear our dishes regardless of how full we are.

With a bottle of shochu between us to share, dinner only came to about $60 between the two of us which I thought was incredibly good value. Service was very friendly, the seating comfortable and with parking just outside the front door, there's really not much to put you off coming back. Even the boy didn't complain about the Korean BBQ smell which you tend to get from eating at Korean restaurants (regardless of whether you eat bbq or not), seemed like the restaurant was quite well ventilated. I never thought I'd comment on the ventilation of a restaurant but I have to say, I'm not a big fan of eating Korean when you know you'll go home smelling like barbequed meat!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

vanilla honey cookies

I get very excited when it comes to food; and I mean food in all shapes, forms and sizes. Going to the new Costco in Auburn was an absolute ball; all your everyday foods in not so common sizes! I spent a good couple of hours in there going down each aisle, bumped into quite a few people whilst I was at (so yes there are people just as crazy as me) and I really think it is the rage that everyone's been talking about - makes an average day at the supermarket all that bit better!

Here's a rather happy snap of me and my 1.5kg block of unsalted butter. 

 Everyone's trolley had a bag of Reese's Mini Peanut Butter Cups so I packed one into mine. Otherwise, time to stock up on some of my usual baking ingredients. Should last me a good while!

So coming back from Costco, I had a bit more inspiration to bake (it's been a little quiet on the baking front I have to admit) and my eyes went to the Vanilla Honey Cookie recipe in 'The Golden Book of Cookies' which mum picked up for me near her work one day. (I love mum - she knows exactly what I like!) Hopefully here's to more baking as life does seem rather flat when I don't bake.

In a large bowl, combine 350g plain flour, 100g caster sugar, 1 large egg, 90g softened unsalted butter, 2 tbsp water, 1 tsp baking soda, 2 tbsp honey, 1 tsp vanilla extract and salt to form a smooth dough.  Press the dough in a disk, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line baking trays. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thick. Use a knife to cut out squares. Brush with a little milk.

Bake until just golden at the edges, approx. 10-15 minutes. I know I really should bake cookies one tray at a time but I never to do it. I just accept the fact that the bottom tray will cook a bit quicker and brown faster so keep an eye out on them and swap the trays or pull them out earlier if required.

Transfer to racks to cool.

I couldn't pinpoint what these cookies tasted like! They're only very subtle in flavour, at one point it reminded me of those Mexican milk buns with the crunchy top which you find at Chinese bakeries. My mum had a taste and said it reminded her of a flat scone. Either way, these cookies taste more like bread/scones than it does a cookie. I guess you could call it a bread scone but cookie portioned? They were addictive to nibble on nonetheless. Anyway, I did buy myself about 10kg of flour from Costco so will be busy baking and baking away!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

easy one bowl apple tea cake

This actually isn't the first time I've made apple tea cake. Usually I prefer to try new recipes and new combinations of ingredients but when I first spotted this apple tea cake on Mashi's blog, I was intrigued by the blobs of dough which were dropped on top that the recipe literally shouted out at me for me to try (surely this recipe wasn't the same as the one I tried last!) You see, I'm actually quite picky when it comes to choosing a recipe (the criteria ranges from needing to be a new recipe, the recipe to be slightly healthy, colourful, must have fruit, must keep well - sometimes it gets ever so hard to narrow down to one recipe and I end up not making anything at all.) This was perhaps one of those rare opportunities when I stumbled across the recipe and no questions asked, my heart was set on making it.

The original recipe is actually from Not Quite Nigella who made it with pear. She says in her recipe that you can easily substitute with apples and being that these were handy at home, off I went with the recipe.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper. In a large bowl, mix together 3/4 cup wholemeal flour, 3/4 cup self-raising flour, 3/4 cup caster sugar, 125g melted unsalted butter, 1 egg and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Press three quarters of the mix into the base of the tin. Scatter 1 diced apple on top.

Place small pieces of the remaining dough on the surface of the apples. Sprinkle with a generous dose of cinnamon. 

Bake for 40 minutes.

Strictly you should allow to cool before slicing as it's delicate when warm. I didn't really follow this instruction and dug right in - well it tastes good! With the wholemeal flour in this recipe, it gives the loaf quite a nutty texture which I really liked.

The one thing which might come across as a little odd is that there's actually very little dough when you first mix all the ingredients together. Just keep in mind that the self-raising flour will make the loaf rise (and trust me, I was hanging by the oven making sure this was happening so you can say that I'm speaking from experience). Thoroughly enjoyed this loaf and it's super duper easy to make!