September 30, 2010

Nuffnang Blogger Meetup

I went to the Nuffnang food blogger's meetup on Saturday!! It was so exciting that I finally get to meet other food bloggers. Never have I had such a thoroughly enjoyable time listening to and taking in the atmosphere of food conversations all around me, punctuated by the sound of clinking cutlery and the roll of the lazy susan, the humid steam rising off steel trolleys permeating the air.

It was so interesting to see two full tables of people taking endless photos of the food as it arrived. I think the lazy susan went round a couple of times before the food was even touched. It was so cool!! Everyone had their turn to get their shot, and no one got impatient. I'm still bowled over by the understanding.

First came the dessert tray (remember, dessert spelled backwards is "stressed"), and we got some custard buns off it.

The custard was sweet, but not egg-y, and I really liked the crumbly topping that they put on the buns. It reminds me of this coffee bun that you can get in Singapore and Malaysia, that has a similar crumbly, buttery topping that absolutely melts in your mouth.

And speaking of melt in your mouth, the Cheong Fun is my must-order at any Yum Cha restaurant.

As loathe as I am to admit it, the glutton in me sometimes lies awake at night dreaming of those smooth, silky sheets of steamed rice noodles encasing plump sweet prawns, all basking in a pool of dark sweet-salty sauce. MUST. HAVE. MORE.

I didn't have the Char Siew Buns, but they looked so pretty with their sweet glaze that I had to snap a photo of them.

And then the steam baskets arrive.

I love LOVE chicken feet. (Ok, that sounded a bit odd, but in my defense, in Mandarin it's 凤爪, which means "Phoenix's claw".) The wrinkly skin slide off and taste of the rich, spiced broth that it's been cooked in. Heavenly.

What I truly love about a good Har Gow (prawn dumpling, if literally translated) is the skin. The translucent encasement lovingly clings for a brief moment as you bite into it, before tearing off into a succulent mouthful with a good amount of bite. The filling has to be good too, of course, but to me, the art is in the skin. It can't be mushy, but it can't be too resistant to a hungry mouth either.

The mango pancake was creamy, with a good amount of juicy mango. I'm sorry I can't say too much about them though, I haven't yet had a mango pancake that completely blows my mind.

Now the 豆花 (Douhua) is truly lovely. Warm silky layers of toufu drizzled with a ginger laced sugar syrup. It looks so deceptively simple too!

On a side note, I just realised that I was so pre-occupied in taking photos of the food that I completely forgot to take some photos of the people. -.-

In all it was a really nice time meeting people of like mind. It's lovely to see other foodies like Cate, Suze, Simon and many others!

Thanks to Nuffnang for organizing the meetup!!

We ate at:

The Regal Restaurant
Tel: 92618988
Levels 4 & 5,
683-689 George Street, Sydney

Marigold Citymark on Urbanspoon

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September 28, 2010


I caught a glimpse of Junior Masterchef the other day, and boy did it make me feel old. I remember when I was in primary school and tailing my mother in the kitchen, forever getting in her way, and always wanting to "help out" (although I think that I was more a bother than a help). At that age, I was helping to stir things, and whisk things, never going near a stove or knives.

But the kids on Masterchef? Chopping and whizzing away like there's no tomorrow! What is this? How can it be that it took me 20 years to get truly comfortable in the kitchen and there are these 8 year olds doing amazing things. Where did all those years go?

It also makes me wonder, though, about my kids (if I have them). How early should they be introduced into the kitchen? How should they be exposed to food? I have this constant nightmare that a glutton like me is going to have a kid who just genuinely doesn't like food. What then?


This calls for some comfort munchies. Cheese platter ahoy!


September 27, 2010

To Have Your Cake and Eat It!

For Sean's mom's birthday this weekend, I made a mini-cupcake...cake!!! It was weeks of hard work, to produce a 49 mini-cupcake structure with 6 different flavours!! I still can't believe that we pulled it off.

It starts with the actual structure that Sean made out of high density foam.

In all, we tested 24 different flavours, which included ones like Iced Vovo, Rum and Raisin, Very Berry, etc, most of which didn't make the cut. What did, though, were:

1 portion vanilla mini-cupcakes, baked.
1/2 tsp Baileys (per cupcake)
1/2 tsp Butterscotch schnapps (per cupcake)

1 portion Buttercream frosting
Cocoa Powder
Caramel Topping

I baked the mini-cupcakes from a generic vanilla cake recipe. Then, for the Buttercream icing, cream butter till fluffy, and slowly add the icing sugar and keep creaming. (I used about 750g of icing sugar to 500g of butter) Get out the portion that you want for the amount of cupcakes that you're covering, and add come cocoa powder and caramel topping.

When it's time to assemble, poke some holes into the baked (and cooled!) mini-cupcakes, and pour the alcohols in. Then frost to finish!

Chocolate Mint:
1 portion vanilla batter
Chocolate chips
Peppermint essence
1 tsp Creme de Menthe (per cupcake)

1 portion butter cream frosting
Green and yellow food colouring
Peppermint essence
Chocolate buttons

In the vanilla batter, I folded in milk and white chocolate chips and peppermint essence. After they were baked and cooled, Creme de Menthe was added (again, poke holes in the cupcake) and the mint frosting went on, before topping with a chocolate button each.

Lemon Cheesecake:
1 portion vanilla cake batter
Lemon Zest
Lemon Juice
Lemon Essence
Citron Vodka

Cream Cheese
Icing Sugar
Lemon Juice
Lemon Zest

In the batter, mix in some lemon juice (don't want the batter to be too runny!) and lemon zest to taste. After baking and cooling the cupcakes, poke holes in it and drizzle the citron vodka to taste. For the icing, just cream the icing sugar and the cream cheese, adding a little lemon juice to taste. Top with lemon zest.

1 portion vanilla cake batter
Lime zest
Orange Zest
Orange Juice
Lime Juice
Orange Essence
Triple sec

1 portion buttercream frosting
Lime Juice
Lime Zest

Fold in the essence, juices and the zests into the cake batter, then spoon into cupcake cases and bake. After the cupcakes have cooled, add the tequila and triple sec with a squeeze of lime juice. For the icing, mix in lime juice to taste, then top with lime zest.

Orange and poppyseed:
1 portion vanilla cake batter
Orange Zest
Orange Essence
Triple Sec

1 portion Buttercream frosting
Orange Juice
Orange Essence
Orange Zest

Mix in the zest, essence and poppyseeds into the cake batter. After the cupcakes have been baked and cooled, drizzle triple sec onto it. For the icing, mix juice and essence (and food colouring if you want) into the basic buttercream frosting mixture, and then top with zest once frosted.

Pina Colada:
1 portion vanilla cake batter
Dried pineapple pieces
Dessicated Coconut
Tinned pineapple pieces (pureed)
Malibu Rum

1 portion Buttercream frosting
Coconut essence
Dessicated coconut

Mix everything but the rum into the cupcake batter and bake. Once they have cooled, make holes in the top crust and drizzle Malibu rum into them. For the icing, mix in the coconut flavouring into the icing mixture, and top with dessicated coconut once frosted.

And those are the six flavours! I really must say though, that I couldn't have done it without Sean, Toni and Mel. They were my taste testers, frosters, sous chefs...everything!

Everyone also had a hand in assembling the cupcake structure (which, since I forgot to mention, is made out of the high density foam mentioned earlier, but covered in foil). 

And finally, when it was all done, everyone just heaved a sigh of relief.

Man that was a big task, but it turned out really well. =)

Here's to future cupcake endeavours!

Happy munching!

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September 25, 2010

Blogger meetup!

Just a quick post to say

...I'M SO EXCITED!!!!!

I'm going to a food bloggers' meet-up in Sydney tomorrow!!

So glad to be meeting other food bloggers. =) =)


September 02, 2010

Oh my Manu!

Sean brought me to L'etoile for my birthday. So excited!! We spent the whole day trying to figure out what we were going to order, and upon arrival, we had no clue. We wanted to try everything!

Before the Entrées arrived, there was a bread basket. Now I'm not much of a fan of bread (but I do like a good sourdough on occasion) but this baguette was good.

...and that was it really. It was just really good, chewy, crusty bread, and I thought it was worth a mention.

So yes, on with the Entrées.

I had the terrine of rabbit rillettes and fois gras, with prune jam and toasted brioche. The terrine was incredibly creamy and light, and went well with the soft brioche. The prune jam was a dark seduction that added some bittersweet notes through each bite. At the risk of sounding incredibly plebeian though, the texture was incredibly reminiscent of tuna spread. I had no idea why, but I was reminded of it. Still good though, but not as good as the quail.

Sean had the pithiviers of quail on a bed of savoy cabbage and speck, drizzled with madiera and roasted chestnut jus. This was the god of everything you can call pies. The crust was a flaky dream, and the filling...oh the filling! Juicy pieces of quail, mingling with the sweet/salty jus...and cabbage had never tasted so good. This one is a must-try.

For his main, Sean had the butcher's steak with a black peppercorn and cognac sauce, and a gratin dauphinois. The steak and a good amount of marbling and fat, and the creamy pepper sauce was divine. The gratin was well, a gratin. No biggie. But the steak...mmm. I love a good, fat piece of meat, and this was exactly that. Not for the dieter. ;)

I had the bouillabaisse, and it was served with croutons and rouille.

The bouillabaisse was hearty, with chunks of white, flaky fish and fragrant crayfish. Now I love me some crustacean, and you can really taste the base in this bouillabaisse. The scent made my insides tingle, in a good way! The only way crustaceans can get any better (IMO) is if they could also get up and sing and dance the way Sebastian from the Little Mermaid can. =)

The rouille seemed like a garlic and capsicum flavoured emulsion, and went really well with the aftertaste of the stew lingering in my mouth. Not crazy about the croutons though - I would've been much happier with more baguette.

Just after the main, we were served a watermelon granita with champagne as a little before dessert sweetener. It was alright, although I think someone ODed on the sugar syrup.

And finally, for dessert we had a rum raisin baba with a scoop of prune and armagnac ice cream. I really liked the prune and armagnac ice cream, and the whole thing just reminded me of a christmas pudding. The baba was alright, but the ice cream was the memorable bit of the dish. It was neither overpowering nor cloyingly sweet, and was light and delicate. The sugared blueberries on the side didn't make much sense to me though, it didn't seem to contribute very much to the dish.

Overall it was a nice experience, with the soft candlelight creating a cozy atmosphere. The staff were cordial and pleasant, and didn't make us feel out of place at all. The food was good, but nothing I walked away really craving. Although I could do with more of that quail...

We ate at:

Manu at L'etoile
211 Glenmore Road, Paddington
+61 2 93321577

L'Etoile on Urbanspoon

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