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August 2010

In Asian, Dining on
August 27, 2010

Meidi BBQ House, Parramatta


Thankyou so much everyone who wished my blog a happy birthday!! And for wishing me good luck in my exams- which was when I realised I didn’t tell you my exams are over!! Actually they finished last Wednesday =) Which is why I’ve spent this week relaxing and doing the things I want to do…….and ignoring any homework I have =D

So, when I finished my exams last Wednesday, I celebrated with a bit of food and fun at Meidi BBQ house, which I’d been itching to try ever since I first set eyes on this sign advertising a self rotating BBQ. We’d walked past this sign a couple of Saturdays ago, after yum cha at Prince Restaurant, and noticed that this new restaurant had opened and although it wasn’t open (it only opens at night), we could see the individual rotating BBQs inside. There was also a list on the front, advertising all the food it had on offer which seemed like a pretty big selection of both cooked and uncooked food, and even better, for the price of $26.80 (for groups of 4 or more)!

Note: Apologies for the bad quality of photos- my camera battery died within the first 5 minutes so most of these photos were taken on my mum’s phone (and this happens to be my first post using pictures taken with a phone….haha)


After checking the sign again to make sure that it was $26.80, we walk into a pretty busy restaurant, considering that it’s a Wednesday night. The seats are weirdly low, making it terribly diffcult to get up (or maybe it’s just because I’m heavy….haha) and we’ve barely had time to sit down before a tub of hot coal is quickly wheeled out and inserted into the barbecue. With a click of a switch, the chain in the barbecue begins to run- our cue to start barbecuing. After all, there is a two hour time limit.

However, we quickly find that one barbecue, which has space for 13 skewers, isn’t quite enough for four people (at least, in two hours)- it’s better for perhaps two or three people.

Chicken Stir Fry

The food is very nothern chinese style, which consists of a lot of chillies and strong flavours. My inability to eat spicy foods means I’m not a huge fan of northern chinese food. Fortunately, the food isn’t too hot- even I could eat almost everything.

Whilst the food is happily cooking itself on the barbecue, we try the selection of cooked food. The selection is quite big, and tasty, which is a good thing because we’d never fill ourselves up at the rate that the food was cooking on the barbecue. The chicken stir fry wasn’t anything special, and was a little too salty for our liking.

Broad Bean Stir Fry

The broad bean stir fry was one of our favourite hot dishes, perhaps because the flavours weren’t too strong, the fact that we like broad beans and that there were barely any greens in the selection of food.

Clockwise from top left: tea eggs, dumplings, corn, fish fillets in hot chilli oil, bread, eggplant with garlic sauce

And because none of these photos look appealing I’ll just shove them all into one =P
The fish fillets in hot chilli oil, a common chinese dish known for it’s hot-ness because of the chillies, was surprising not hot and had no distinctive taste. Not surprisingly, I stopped after a nibble or two and didn’t bother going back for seconds. The bread was ordinary but we found that if we heated it over the barbecue, it tasted pretty good as the edges would become crisp. The eggplant with garlic sauce was again much too salty and the tea eggs were mostly untouched so we didn’t touch them either. Stir Fried Clam with Chilli

Steaming hot food just brought out of the kitchen never fails to capture my attention at buffets and it’s almost a natural instinct to grab it while it’s hot, no matter what it is. In the case of these stir fried clams, which we notice are steaming as they come out, they were indeed hot, but very disappointing. Compared to the other food on offer, they were relatively flavourless and without looking at the name tag in front of it, I wouldn’t have realised about the chilli- there was barely any. I personally thought they were okay, but more because I like clams and they’re quite different to everything else but they definitely lacked in flavour, and were a bit dry too. My parents didn’t like them said they tasted tasted sand, which is something I can never really taste in seafood…..I’m sorta thankful that I can’t =)

Dumplings, chicken wings

Perhaps the dryness and the flavourless-ness of the clams could have been saved if there was some sort of dipping sauce such as soy sauce, as they have in Korean barbecues. But there were no sauces whatsoever, which was one of the things that we didn’t like about the restaurant. Although the flavours in most of the food were really strong, without any sauce, the barbecued food, in particular, seemed dry. Another thing which could have really used a sauce were these dumplings, which we found tasted best after being reheated on the barbecue- making them so hot that they literally burnt your tongue. And they were delicious too, even if half of them had burnt bottoms. We decided to barbecue the chicken wings on the metal bars instead of on the skewers because the chicken wings were so wide, they wouldn’t turn if there were skewers next to them and so ended up taking up 3 skewer spaces! The chicken wings were quite ordinary, but still delicious.

From left to right: radish salad, some sort of jelly, cold chicken

Northern chinese food wouldn’t be quite complete without a selection of cold foods to balance with the hot food. The simple radish salad, of thin strips of radish and an occasional carrot strip or two, complimented the strong flavours of the strong flavours of the barbecued food quite well. The light, tangy dressing with the simple flavours of radish brought relief not only from the spiciness of some of the food, but also from the saltiness of the barbecued food.

Cold Beef

But cold food doesn’t lack in flavour either the cold beef is quite flavoursome and slightly spicy too. The savoury jelly (I don’t know what it’s called in english) is is also a deliciously flavoursome cold dish. It isn’t too salty, which is a relief and being cold, it is again quite a nice accompaniment to the hot, barbecued food. It is quite delicious and we find ourselves eating quite a lot of it, but the jelliness of it, which indicates the amount of fat in there tells us that perhaps, we shouldn’t be eating as much as we do…..

Cold Chicken

The cold chicken does not manage to please us, mostly because the chicken is not quite tender anough for our liking.

From left to right: prawn, chicken heart, prawn, [don’t know], prawn, wagyu beef, rice cake, chicken satay, chicken satay, prawn, fish

Now…back to the barbecue itself- the most fun part of the night.

There was good selection of foods to barbecue, from wagyu beef (which to me, didn’t taste any different to normal beef….so I’m guessing it isn’t the good quality stuff) to mongolian lamb to chicken wings and prawns. Oh, and there were chicken hearts and intestines too ๐Ÿ˜‰ The meat was cut up into small cubes and skewered so that they would cook quickly.

However, we found the marinades to be much too strong, even for us (we usually like things with stronger flavours than most people like) and left us very very thirsty afterwards. Infact, they were so strong that we often could not tell what we were eating- we lost of track of which skewers were the beef and which were the lamb (and what flavours they were supposed to be)


But, it’s not to say I didn’t like the food. Some of the food was really good- for instance, the shitake mushrooms (yeah, they were on a skewer) which only took a couple of minutes to heat up =] And the chicken satay skewers were delicious too- and a good change from the spicy marinades of the beef and lamb skewers. The prawns were delicious, although we accidently overcooked them a few time, making them difficult to unshell. And they were a pain to get off the stick. We’re not ones who usually go for mussels at buffets but these barbecues mussels were big and delicious- we kept going back for more! The rice cakes were interesting- they tasted more like bread than rice cakes and were very very hard…I think we barbecued them for too long (oops!)


I love trying weird animal parts, so it was not much of a surprise that I went for the pig intestines and the chicken heart =] Which was recieved with groans by my mum who feared that they would make me sick- so we barbecued them for ages…..

Which ended up with them tasting overcooked, but they didn’t taste that great anyway. The chives were a highlight of the meal- somehow, they marinated the chives so that they were very very flavoursome……which probably means that they used a lot of msg or something bad for us but they tasted so good, we didn’t really care =D

Red Bean Dessert

To balance the very salty mains, there was dessert! The red bean soup was a little watery, like most red bean soups at restaurants (I like mine thick) and has blobs of both red bean and black rice which gave it a funny texture. Served hot, it wasn’t too bad but it wasn’t exactly my favourite….


Because this one was!

A simple sweet soup with ‘snow ear’ fungus and red dates, it tasted surprisingly refreshing and was actually a great ‘drink’ accompanying the salty and spicy food. Yeah- I didn’t actually eat it as a dessert but drank it instead!


In the cold food section, there were these purple and yellow jellies, but which had ‘cucumber’ written in front of them, causing much confusion. We scooped a few out to try whilst we were waiting for the food to cook in the barbecue and they were simple sweet, milk jellies- I couldn’t pinpoint a specific flavour to them. Nevertheless, they were delicious and I would have eaten more, only they didn’t refill them =[

We finally finished the barbecuing, 10 minutes short of the limit, but already stuffed from all that we ate. Counting the skewers (which seemed to be a common activity everyone did), we reached a grand total of 52 skewers which I personally find dissappointing, considering that equals to about 13 skewers each…..haha
But then again, we did eat a lot of the cooked food because the food took a while to barbecue so I guess it’s understandable…..


Tucked up in the corner, away from all the other food was a mysterious little freezer which had the words ‘ice cream’ roughly scribbled on a paper stuck to it. Curious to see, we opened the freezer, which, was no easy feat (the lid was stuck strongly on!) to find a tub of vanilla ice cream along with about 4 unopened ones underneath it (which is how we found out that it was homebrand ice cream..haha) A nice way to end the meal, we ate a couple of scoops of ice cream.


But plain vanilla ice cream can be boring, so to jazz it up, I came up with an idea to pour the red bean dessert over to make red bean ice cream! haha…..
We had some red bean dessert left over, which hadn’t quite completely cooled down yet, but seeing as it was time to go we poured it over anyway to create a delicious red bean ice cream dessert =] Overall, I thought it was a really fun experience, even if the food wasn’t all that great. I’m not sure if I’d go again, but I think it was worth it, just for the experience!


Meidi BBQ House
Shop 4/100 Church Street
Parramatta
9635 9098
$28.80 pp (Mon-Thurs) or $26.80 pp (4 or more people)
don’t remember the price for other days…..

In Cake, Recipe on
August 23, 2010

Cheesecake | Guess what’s turning one??

I might act like it sometimes……but no- it’s not me.

It’s my blog!!

haha….. I’d been looking forward to my blogversary for a while for no other reason than that it’s been one year and that sounds exciting! In reality, it doesn’t really mean much- I’ll just be blogging and blabbing as normal but who would have thought a whole year would have passed so quickly?? It seems only yesterday that I excitedly told my friends I wanted to start a blog and to ask them to help me think of a name for it =D

I knew that my blogversary was sometime near the end of August, but with my trials and all that, August passed extremely quickly and before I knew it, I had a look at the calendar and then back at my blog and BAM! It was only a couple days off.

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So I didn’t have time to make anything particularly special or memorable for my blogversary as I’ve seen many others do, but I thought it’d be sorta fitting to share with you this cheesecake I’d made- because it’s a cake =] And because the first recipe I posted on this blog was a blueberry cheesecake- my first ever cheesecake, which turned out surprisingly good. This was my second cheesecake….hmm….maybe I should celebrate all my blogversaries with a cheesecake ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I still remembering pondering over whether or not to start a blog. I’d been reading them for a little while, and I knew I liked food, but I only occasionally baked. I’d tried once to start a blog, in secrecy, all the way back in 2008, and only managed half of my first post (which was an introductory one…..), before giving up and realising my hate of writing. Which is why my first post is dated all the way back to 2008- I rewrote the first post without realising that the date remained the same as when I first created it.

A year later, I tried again, after discovering more food blogs. It wasn’t easy at first- I’ve always been a terrible writer and everything I write never seems to sound good to me. I still remember writing my first blog post and wondered what I’d write- I just had a permanent mind blank. Nowadays, I open up a blog post and words just sorta come pouring out. Infact, I have so much to say that I can never quite get everything I want to say onto the page in time- my fingers don’t quite work as fast as my mind ๐Ÿ™‚

Plain Cheesecake

It’s funny how much has changed since the beginning. I’d started taking photos at restaurants at first, just for the fun of it. At first, I was hesitant to take my camera out, scared that someone would tell me that photographing food was not allowed. But I got used to it and it slowly became addictive. But not quite as addictive as baking ;)It’s hard to remember how much I baked before blogging, as I didn’t always photograph my bakes- especially as they were mostly failures. I probably only baked about twice a month, sometimes less and the idea of blogging once every week seemed a little extreme. Nowadays, I bake whenever I get the chance and I love making more than one thing at once- to get through the huge list of things I want to make!

To be honest, I hadn’t expected anyone to read my blog other than the school friends which I’d told about. I’d probably still be blogging if no one read this blog, but the comments people leave just make blogging so much more fun!! I know a lot of people say this, and most express this a lot better than I do, but I love knowing that out there, there’s someone reading what I’m writing and I love love love your words of encouragement! So…..thankyou to all you lovely readers out there =]

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Moving on from my fail attempt at expressing my graitude (If this were me last year, I would have deleted that paragraph) and onto the cheesecake itself! I chose a different recipe this time- opting for the one from the Daring Baker’s challenge way back. I’d seen so many awesome cheesecakes from this recipe I just had to try it! Without the sour cream, this was less sour than the one I made last time (duh!)- more like the cheesecakes I buy from the cheesecake shop than the one I ate at a cafe once…..

I made my own graham crackers for the base, which turned out too sweet and really hard, but that was okay because I was only using it for the base. The cheesecake itself was easy peasy. And once again, my baking advantures are not complete with a stupid mistake- this time because I used a pullman bread tin instead of a normal loaf tin (I figured it had straighter sides so it’d look better…) without realising that it actually had holes in the corners, so water seeped into the base, making it slightly wet and stiff. Thinking it was an utter failure (once again), I was surprised to find that the base didn’t taste too bad, and the cheesecake was really really good! My mum thought it was just as good as the storebought ones, whilst I would have liked it a little lighter but was still overall very pleased with the result.

Cheesecake

Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake

From here

Crust:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cheesecake Filling:
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil “casserole” shaped pans from the grocery store. They’re 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

In Cookies and Bars, Recipe on
August 13, 2010

Coconut Macaroons


Last week, after another one of those two hour maths lessons after school (*sigh*), I came home to a pile of books, which had not really been read through much, ready to be studied and memorised within a week or so. Yes- a whole year’s worth of school work to be memorised in a week. I’m so glad I did my chemistry exam last year =P

Being the lazy one I am, I really couldn’t be bothered starting to study, so naturally, I went to the kitchen instead, where two egg whties were just waiting to be made into delicious coconut macaroons =D I’d been planning to make them for a while now, since I was curious about what they tasted like, and was almost 100% sure my family would love them (we love coconut).

Only to find that I only had about half the jar of coconut left.

(yeah, I keep my coconut flakes in a jar)


I went ahead and halved the recipe, after fumbling around furiously in hope of finding a packet of coconut, knowing there wouldn’t be one. It was extremely simple to make, and I had them in the oven in no time! To my disappointment, they didn’t end up looking like macaroons- they looked more like meringues- I think it’s because of my lack of coconut, and the fact that the coconut was really fine *sigh* But to our surprise it tasted really really good! The outside was crispy (I baked it for almost double the time stated in the recipe though….) and the inside was chewy and so sweet and coconutty! They were happily devoured within minutes =]

And guess what I found in the pantry the next day??? (whilst searching for another ingredient I’d run out of…..) Yep. A whole new packet of coconut flakes ๐Ÿ˜‰

Being the good girl I am, I didn’t make more macaroons- I studied =] But I guess a couple of days isn’t exactly enough to study a whole year’s worth of work, and ended up with me staying up late, cramming for each exam. I almost died when they put two exams on the same day ๐Ÿ˜›

So. I think I might have learnt my lesson not to leave it until the last minute to study for exams. Might.

Coconut Macaroons

2 egg whites
ยฝ tsp vanilla essence
2/3 cup sugar (I’d decrease this by a bit as I found them a bit too sweet)
1 ยฝ cups flaked coconut

1. Lightly grease a cookie sheet; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg whites and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold in coconut
2. Drop mixture by rounded spoon 2 inches apart on to the prepared cookie sheet. Bake in a 325 degrees oven about 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.