Monthly Archives

September 2011

In Other, Recipe on
September 23, 2011

Macaroni Cheese


I was looking at the calendar on Monday, and couldn’t quite figure out whether it was the 12th or if it was the 19th. This month has really flown by much too fast.

Actually, the whole year has flown by incredibly quickly- I find it hard to believe that it was only a year ago that I was graduating from high school! But the past week has been extremely hectic for me, with a couple of quizzes, essays due for uni, a dance exam and to top it all off, I volunteered for the Australian Dance Festival last weekend! Now, I don’t usually talk much about what I do during the week, especially when its unrelated to food, but I want to write about it somewhere incase I ever forget about it- because the festival was simply amazing!! I met many lovely people, even participated in a world record attempt (and managed to hit a little girl in the eye while I was at it….sorry!) and watched many amazing and inspirational performances.

I also managed to dislocate my knee on the weekend (only the day before my dance exam!) so now my knee cap feels like its not attached to my leg and is about to fall off……literally. But I won’t scare you with all the gory details! 😉


Of course, the period following such excitement is often filled with feelings of extreme fatigue so it wasn’t surprising when I found myself very tired and sleepy at uni for the past two days (though staying up until 2:30 in the morning writing up my psychology report may have something to do with that!). And I mean the extreme type of tired, you know, where you’d rather pretend not to see someone than actually go up to them and start a conversation? (hopefully this isn’t only me…)

Luckily, my mid-semester break has just begun and so I’ve had plenty of rest, but today, I have a super easy recipe- perfect for when you’re much too tired to cook anything complex and exciting. I first discovered this recipe when I was in one of my lazy days, but still wanted to make something slightly more interesting than reheated leftovers. I was in a mood for some pasta and I had some yoghurt in the fridge, so this recipe was perfect!


It really can’t get much simpler- boil some macaroni and then mix it with salt, yoghurt, cheese and egg yolk! I also cooked some chicken, covered in cubes of bread and extra cheese (because I was too lazy to blend them into crumbs- not exactly the greatest idea!) and baked it for a couple of minutes to make it more exciting.

I couldn’t quite imagine what yoghurt and macaroni would taste like, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it worked beautifully! The yoghurt makes for a very creamy sauce, but brings with it a slight salad dresing-like tang which I quite liked. I’ll definitely be making this more often in the future when I’m feeling lazy! (perhaps without the baking….)

Macaroni and Cheese

Recipe from Jose Andre
Serves 4

Ingredients
* 1/2 pound (150g) of uncooked elbow macaroni or your favorite pasta- I used about half that amount but kept everything to same to make one large serving for myself)
* 2 cups of Parmesan (or Manchego or whatever you like) cheese grated using a microplane
* 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
* 1 egg yolk
* Extra virgin olive oil as needed
* Salt to taste
* White pepper to taste

1. Boil the pasta according to package directions. Drain.
2. While still hot, toss the pasta with cheese, olive oil, Greek yogurt and the egg yolk.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In Asian, Dining on
September 21, 2011

Takeru- CBD

A little while long time ago, my friend took me to try Takeru- a Japanese restaurant most known for its ‘half portion’ items. I love the idea of half portions, as it means you can order double the normal number of dishes you’d normally order! Unfortunately, this still didn’t help with picking items from the menu because there was too much that I wanted to try!


Tuna Sashimi Rice (half portion)

We decide to order two things to share and two to eat by ourselves. My friend picks the Tuna Sashimi rice which is a beautiful dish of warm rice below generous mound of tuna cubes, topped off with a drizzle of mayonnaise and tobiko. The tuna is quite fresh and beautifully coloured. My previous experiences with sashimi rice dishes have often involved some interesting sauces, so I was surprised at the simpleness of this one. Nevertheless, it is quite a tasty and satisfying dish, if a little less exciting than anticipated.

Tonkotsu Ramen

We order the ramen to share, and I’ll admit that I’m not much of a ramen critic but I found this ramen to be quite enjoyable. The broth is extremely rich and tasty, and I found myself drinking plenty of it (I don’t usually drink ramen broths!). 


Baked eel with rice (half portion)

Being a sucker for grilled eel, I order the baked eel with rice, which is consists of pieces of grilled eel and cheese sauce with a layer of melted cheese on top, presented nicely on a hot plate. Whilst I find the flavour combination interesting, the saltiness cheese sauce overpowers the simpler tastes of the grilled eel. The sauce is deliciously tasty though, and I don’t mind eating it (especially with the crispy baked cheese) separately to the eel.

 

Calamari and Squid Ink Pizza
We ordered the squid ink pizza out of interest- I’ve never had squid ink before, so I was quite excited to taste it for the first time. The squid ink is more liquid-y than the usual pizza sauces, and along with the fact that the pizza is cut into large quarters, makes this pizza pretty messy to eat. I was disappointed to find that the squid ink had very little taste and that the base was not quite as crispy as I would have liked. Nevertheless, it was a fun and exciting dish I enjoyed eating and would not hesitate to order it again!Takeru on Urbanspoon

In Bread, Recipe on
September 11, 2011

Soft Buns

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!!
Hope you all had plenty of fun lighting lanterns and eating mooncakes 😀

I was originally going to write about some snowskin mooncakes I made a two days ago……..

Unfortunately, they all got gobbled up before I had the chance to take photos. (they were that good) Don’t worry- I’ll be making them again very soon!!


Instead, I’ll tell you about something not as sweet, but equally as good!

It’s been a while since I’ve baked bread, so when I saw these extremely soft buns on Shirley’s blog, I couldn’t wait to make them. I’d been wondering why the buns I bought from Asian bakeries were always soft wrinkly whilst the ones which came out of my oven, though soft, always remained unwrinkly- call me strange, but I think wrinkly buns are beautiful! Better still, the recipe was was simple, consisting only of a quick roux to be made the night before- perfect for someone in a lazy mood 🙂

I wanted to keep my buns simple, so I just twisted them into a knot, as I’d seen in one of my cookbooks (though mine didn’t turn out quite as pretty). The buns turned out very soft, as I’d expected and were especially good straight out of the oven.

I think I’m starting to get hooked on bread baking again!!

 

Soft Buns

Recipe from Køkken69

Water Roux
50g Bread Flour
75g Boiling water

Bread Dough
6gm Active Dry East
160gm Bread Flour
40gm Plain Flour
50gm Sugar
2gm Salt
50gm Water
1 Egg
40gm Butter

Method
1. Mix water roux ingredients together in a bowl. Cover bowl with cling wrap and store in fridge for 12 hours.
2. In a mixer fitted with a bread hook, add flour, yeast, sugar, egg and water. Start mixing at slow speed for 2 mins. Add salt and continue to knead until dough lifts from the wall of the mixing bowl.
3. Add (1) and continue to knead for 3 mins.
4. Add butter and increasing kneading speed to speed 4.
5. Continue kneading for 15 mins on speed 4 until dough is no longer sticky and does not break when pulled to perform window test.
6. Place dough in a slightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling wrap and leave to proof in a warm area for 45mins.
7. With lightly floured hands and table top, knead (6) to form a smooth round ball. Divide dough into 12 balls – about 40g each.
8. Roll each small ball into a round ball and leave to proof for 10mins. Shape into a knot (or whatever you want to shape it into!) then leave to proof for 1 hour.
9. Brush with egg white and decorate.
10. Bake at 185C for 8-10mins until brown. Leave to cool.

* I made mine in my bread machine, but I’ll point out that if you do, you should put the roux before the dough forms- bread machines do a terrible job of incorporating wet things into dry doughs. It took mine almost the whole of the kneading cycle to knead the roux in!

In Cookies and Bars, Recipe on
September 8, 2011

Lebkuchen- German Spiced Cookies

Don’t you just hate it when you find a recipe that you’re excited to try out, so you take all the effort to make it, and it turns out great…..

….. only to realise that you never really liked that particular type of food in the first place?

Or I could be the only strange one who does that.

But it’s happened to me a couple of times!


I was recently sent a copy of Baked and Delicious in the mail, much to my excitement, which came with a set of beautiful brightly coloured silicon muffin cups! I don’t own much silicon bakeware (infact, I’m pretty sure the only bit of silicon in my kitchen is my silicon spatula!) but I love the colours! The magazine itself is formatted like a thin cookbook, with bright pages of delicious baked goods and detailed step by step instructions for some recipes.

There were quite a lot of recipes I wanted to try, but I was most intrigued by the Lebkuchen (German spiced cookies). The cookies contained an acceptable butter content (by my standards), and I thought the large amount of honey would make for a great tasting cookie.


It was only when I was halfway through making the batter, that I realised I didn’t have enough honey so I did a quick google search of other lebkuchen recipes and ended up making a substitution of some sugar and an egg. The recipe I’ve included at the end of the post is the original recipe I had intended to make.

I was pleased to find that the cookies still turned out beautifully, if a little different to the pictures in the magazine. I coated them in chocolate because i didn’t have any gold leaves, as suggested in the recipe, but I personally think that chocolate looks better than gold leaves 😉 On cookies anyway.

What I wasn’t so pleased about was that after my first bite, I finally remembered why I’ve never made spiced cookies before. I don’t really like them! I shouldn’t have been so surprised though, I’m often lured by the sight of tasty spiced cookies, only to be dissappointed by the taste. Whilst I like spices in cooking, and to some extent, certain cakes and desserts, spiced cookies are definitely not my thing. Which is a shame because I think they would have been really good cookies for someone who likes spiced cookies!

Lebkuchen

Recipe from Baked and Delicious Vol. 1

Ingredients
250g plain flour
75g ground almonds
1tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2tsp ground nutmeg
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
1/2tsp ground cloves
zest or an orange and a lemon
200ml clear honey
85g unsalted butter

To decorate
a handful of halved blanched almonds
edible gold leaf (optional)

1. Mix the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices and orange and lemon zest in a large bowl. Gently melt the honey and butter together in a saucepan and then tip them onto the dr ingredients and m ix into a fairly stiff dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave the mixture to cool and solidify a bit.
2. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F. Use your hands to roll the dough into balls about 3cm across and lay them out on the prepared baking sheets with plenty of space between each one. Flatten the balls into circles with your fingers. Put an almond in the centre of each cookie and sprinkle with a few edible gold leaf to decorate. Bake for about 15 minutes until risen and golden, then turn them out to cool on wire racks.

In Asian, Dining on
September 3, 2011

Signature Thai, Balmain

We don’t usually buy coupons off group deal sites- mostly because they are quite a hassle, with all the terms and conditions and because most of them are simply situated in places which are far away from where we live. We decided to try this deal ($19 for $45 worth of food) at Signature Thai restaurant, eventhough it was situated all the way in Balmain, because it seemed like a pretty decent deal for our family of four.

We’d made a booking the day before, and drove for more than an hour to get to Balmain for lunch here on a Sunday. So you can imagine, we were not impressed to turn up and find that the restaurant was not even open. We waited a while, called them numerous times (but no one picked up) and eventually figured that the restaurant wasn’t going to open anytime soon and left. Definitely not a good first impression.

After not receiving a call back from them for a week, we called them to make sure they were still in business. The call was answered by an apologetic waitress, who explained that it was a one off because that something had happened. We made a second booking, this time for a Friday night, since it was probably less likely that they wouldn’t be open on a Friday night.

Roti

Luckily, the restaurant was open the second time around (though it was much quieter than we’d expected) and the waitresses immediately apologised again once they figured out that we were the ones who turned up when they were closed last time.

We didn’t order any rice with our mains so we ordered roti instead, which we thought was interesting in a thai restaurant. The roti was nice and crispy- it tastes like the frozen ones you get from asian supermarkets….but we weren’t really expecting freshly made ones anyway.

Thai Beef Salad

We spent a long time pondering over what to order, as the menu was full of interesting choices, but we almost instantly decided to order the thai beef salad, as it is one of our favourite thai dishes. The dressing in this salad was a little disappointing, missing the hit of flavour I’ve had with beef salads in the past, but beautifully pink beef slices were quite good.

Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab

We had a hard time trying to decide between the soft shell crab with curry powder or the salt and pepper soft shell crab , but ended up choosing the latter, since my dad isn’t a big fan of curry. The soft shell crab is deliciously crunchy, almost to the point of being too hard and quite tasty with the mix of chilli, spices and shallots. It’s served on little bed of lettuce, which serves well to sooth my tongue from the spiciness of the chilli (I’m not too great with spicy food). Whilst it’s quite an enjoyable dish, it feels like it’s lacking a little something- it wasn’t quite as exciting as I’d hoped.

Pad Thai

The menu doesn’t offer much variety when it comes to stir fried noodle dishes, so we chose the pad thai (with beef). The stir fry of thin noodles was good though not the most amazing pad thai I’ve ever had- the sauce isn’t too tangy or sweet, but I find the noodles a little on the dry side.

Duck Hoisin

We couldn’t really go to a restaurant named Siganture Thai without trying one of their signature dishes, which we are informed by the waitress are Duck Hoisin and Lamb Massaman Curry. The Duck Hoisin sounds a little more interesting than the curry, so we chose that- and were pretty glad we did. It comes as a beautiful dish of roasted duck pieces, accompanied by some plump shitake mushrooms rested on a bed of vegetables and drizzled with a delicious hoisin sauce, which tastes slightly different from the normal, store bought type. The flavours of the dish have a resemblance to Peking Duck, though that may be obvious from the combination of the duck and hoisin sauce, but still unique in its own way. This is definitely the highlight of the meal- the roasted duck has an irresistibly crispy skin and tasty duck meat.

Overall, the food was pretty good, though not spectacular- probably not enough to get us coming back here again (though I may have had a slightly more positive opinion if we had not had been through the first experience of turning up to find it not open).

Signature Thai on Urbanspoon