Monthly Archives

October 2011

In Cafรฉ, Dining on
October 27, 2011

Alimento Cafe, Parramatta

There’s always that strange feeling when I walk into an unfamiliar restaurant for the first time, and don’t know exactly what to do. I’ve experienced it in bistros, when there’s a sign which tells you to wait there, but not a waiter in sight. Or in cafes, when you’re not sure whether you’re supposed to order at the table or at the counter.

We’re at Alimento Cafe (after much indecision as to where to eat), and although there are plenty of nice empty tables outside, we’re standing awkwardly at the entrance. Do we just sit down and hope that someone notices us? Do we go up to the staff at the counter? Or do we wait until a waitress notices us and takes us to a seat?

We finally capture the attention of the girl at the counter, who (after establishing that we are not voucher holders) tells us to just sit down anywhere and she’ll get someone to bring us the menus.

 

I don’t often eat at cafes, and would probably never have noticed this one, but I’d read about Alimento online after searching for Italian food in Parramatta for a dinner with friends…..which never ended up happening. The prices on the menu are quite reasonable, especially at lunch, with their $10 specials- which we’re here for. The lunch specials come with the condition that you order a drink from their extensive list of drinks (which took me forever to choose from). I ordered a mocha, which was nice, though I would have liked it to be a little more chocolatey- but I’m not a coffee drinker (this would probably be about my 5th mocha I’ve ever had) so don’t take my word for it ๐Ÿ˜‰
 

 

Lemon Pepper Perch Fillet $10
 

I order the lemon pepper perch fillet, a delicious piece of fish, grilled until tender and crisp at the edges and covered with a layer of lemon sauce. The sauce is surprisingly pleasant and tasty, with the light taste of lemon not being too overpowering and also serves as a nice dressing for the salad. The chips are definitely the highlight of the dish for me, with their shattering crunch and ability to stay crunchy even when soaked in the lemon sauce. My only complaint is that there isn’t enough of them!!

 

 
Chicken and Prawn Risotto $10

My friend’s order of chicken and prawn risotto, was quite popular amongst their lunch customers- and hard to miss with the strange lettuce leave on the side. The tomato based risotto is delicious and creamy- I certainly wouldn’t mind ordering it next time! ๐Ÿ™‚

Alimento Cafe Restaurant on Urbanspoon

In Dessert, Recipe on
October 21, 2011

Strawberry Ice Cream

IMG_7599

The first time I made ice cream was about 5 years ago, when I browsed upon the “shakey shakey ice cream’ recipe on the abckids website which looked really fun to make. The idea was basically this-  mix a couple of ingredients (basically just milk and sugar), put them into a ziplock bag, and then put that bag into a bigger ziplock bag filled with ice and shake until it becomes ice cream. Fun right?

Unfortunately, the ‘ice cream’ tasted like sweetened frozen milk more than ice cream and did not freeze completely, so it ended up in the bin and that was the last time I attempted to make my own ice cream again! We actually have an ice cream maker at home (and we’ve had it for quite a long time!) but my dad is usually the one who makes ice cream. Not that we have homemade ice cream often- the last time he ever made any ice cream was at least 5 years ago!!

IMG_760x

With the warmer weather approaching, and the many tempting ice cream recipes I’ve seen on blogs, I thought it was about time I got the ice cream machine back out for a churn. I used a simple custard based recipe from a cookbook I’ve had on my shelf  for a while, added some strawberries to the mixture (it’s our favourite homemade ice cream flavour so far!). It was actually surprisingly fun to watch the mixture slowly solidifying as it touched the edges of the freezer bowl and turning into ice cream. And almost impossible to resist sticking my finger in!!

Before long, I had a tub of delicious and creamy ice cream! The texture was softer and creamier than what I remember of my dad’s non-custard based ice cream. I especially loved the fresh strawberry taste which was nothing like the fake strawberry flavoured ice creams you get at the supermarket (I don’t like strawberry ‘flavoured’ things). And needless to say, it was quite addictive- just ask my sister, she couldn’t get enough of it! Now I know what I’ll be up to this summer ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

IMG_7615

 

Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe

Recipe adapted from Delicious Ice Cream

300ml milk
1 vanilla pod
4 large egg yolks
115g caster sugar
250g fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
300ml double cream

1. Pour the milk into a large heavy-based saucepan. Split open the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds into the milk, then add the whole vanilla pod too. bring almost to boil, then remove from heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.
2. Put the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk together until pale and mixture leaves a trail when the whisk is lifted. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk, then slowly add the milk into the egg mixture, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. Strain the mixture into the rinsed-out saucepan or a double boiler and cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring all the time, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil or it will curdle. Remove the custard from the heat and leave to cool for at least 1 hour, stirring from time to time to prevent a skin from forming.
3. Meanwhile, puree the strawberries with a blender or by pushing them through a sieve. Stir into the custard mixture with the lemon juice.
4. Whip the cream until it holds its shape.
5. If using an ice cream machine, fold the whipped cream into the cold custard, then churn the mixture in the machine following the manufacturers instructions. Alternatively, freeze the custard in a freezer container, uncovered, for 1-2 hours, or until it begins to set around the edges. Turn the custard into a bowl and stir with a fork or beat in a food processor until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream. Return to the freezer and freeze for a further 2-3 hours, or until firm or required. Cover the container with a lid for storing.

* I also added a little bit of alcohol (rum) into the mixture with the strawberries because I read somewhere that alcohol makes ice cream smoother. 

This post is linked to Foodie FridayI’ve submitted this recipe to the Power of pink challenge ๐Ÿ™‚

In Asian, Dining on
October 17, 2011

Red Spoon Thai, Castle Hill

The end of the uni semester is approaching (much to my delight!), but I find it hard to believe that it’s already almost been a year of uni! It was only this time last year that I was studying madly for the final exams! (maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration….)

I’m quite glad that I don’t ever have to go through the pressure of those exams again (although uni exams can be just as stressful!), especially in the lovely weather that comes during these months. But I guess my experience doesn’t quite compare to that of my friend, who was unfortunate enough to have the exams start on the day after her birthday!!  We did celebrate it after the exams, though by the time we got around to that I was ….overseas *ahem*

To celebrate her birthday this year, she took us to Red Spoon Thai in Castle Hill, which I was quite excited about, not only because I like thai food but because it’s been quite a while since I last met up with my group of high school friends!
 

fishcakes2
Thai Fishcakes 
We start off with a couple of entrees, and I excitedly whip my camera out as the food comes. I rarely take my (big) camera out to restaurants with me, so I’m quite inexperienced when it comes to restaurants with low lighting and when plates of food just come raining down onto your table….so excuse the blurry photos! ๐Ÿ™‚
 
skewers
Petite Chicken Satay

 

The chicken satay is a cute, bite-sized portion of 8 skewers, perfect for sharing. The chicken is grilled nicely, and the chicken pieces are tender and tasty, especially when dipped with the sweet, nutty peanut sauce or cucumber relish it is accompanied by.

 

curry puff
Curry Puffs
 
Interestingly enough, the curry puffs don’t have much of a curry flavour, but are still quite tasty, especially with the sweet chilli sauce. The vegetable filling, consisting of mainly carrots (no doubt the frozen ones of course!), are a little too soft and overcooked for my liking but the beautifully pleated wrapping of pastry is deep fried until perfectly light and makes the puffs very enjoyable.

bbqchicken
Barbecued Chicken 
I would have left this picture out of the post (because it’s so blurry!), but the barbecued chicken was very tasty, and definitely one of the highlights of the dinner. Like the entree of satay skewers, this grilled chicken thigh was very tender but was even more tasty, with its slightly sweet and flavoursome marinade/sauce. 

green curry
Green Curry with Chicken 

My first observation of the green chicken curry is that it is quite green, with all the peas and beans, but interestingly, lacking in the vegetables I usually like with my green curries, like corn and eggplant.Whilst the curry is pleasantly creamy and fragrant from the coconut milk, I find that it lacks a little in spices (it isn’t even hot!) and doesn’t really make me want to go back for more.
red curry
Red Curry with Chicken 

The Red Curry was a more popular on our table, with its heavier use of spices, bringing out a more interesting depth of flavour. 

 

pad thai
Pad Thai 
 The Pad Thai is a generous serving of stir fried thin rice noodles which aren’t too sticky or overly sweet. We ordered both chicken and prawn pad thai’s, both of which were enjoyable, but pretty average.
 
 rice
Thai Fried Rice 
The menu promises that the fried rice is not boring- and I think they kept their promise pretty well! Whilst the rice is a little too oily for my liking, the fried rice carries strong Thai flavours (especially basil) and was very tasty.
 

 

cake

When we finished eating, the table was quickly cleared (which wasn’t actually an easy job, as the table was quite packed and there were a lot of dishes on the table). The birthday girl brought her own cake, so we were sort of expecting it to be brought out afterwards. What we weren’t expecting was for the lights to be turned off and birthday music to start playing- a lovely surprise! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Red Spoon Castle Hill on Urbanspoon
In Pastry, Recipe on
October 9, 2011

Fruit tarts


I love reminiscing over childhood television shows. Magic Mountain, Johnson and Friends, William’s Wish Wellingtons are some of my favourites- anyone know any of these? I love the cartoons and children’s shows of the late 90’s, back when they were simple and there was none of this digital animation stuff which dominates children’s TV nowadays- has anyone seen the new Thomas the Tank Engine?!?!

I spent a considerable amount of time in front of the television screen as a child and loved watching the various cartoons they played in the morning and afternoons. I would drag out my bright, plastic yellow chair to watch Playschool and when it came to story time, I would grab any book off my bookshelf and pretend to read along with them, pretending that I could speak English fluently, and knew perfectly well what was going on.


In my later (early primary school) years, most of my television watching time was during the afternoons after school, as my parents did not let us watch TV in the morning (not that we would have woken up early enough to get ready for school and have time to watch tv!). Of the many shows I watched in that time period, one which I personally find quite memorable is Soupe Opera (though I don’t think it’s very popular!) because of its interesting theme of fruit arrangement and its strange opera music! If you’re curious, have a look at the video below- I still find it very creative and entertaining!

I’ve always thought it’d be fun to cut up pieces of fruit and arrange them into cute animals like they do this on show. Not that I’ve actually ever done it- their designs are very intricate and require a considerable amount of effort! But if my fruit arrangement ‘skills’ were as creative as this, it would be pretty awesome, because then I could make really pretty cakes and pastries!!

I guess I’ll just have to stick with copying other people’s designs or making simple patterns like I did with these fruit tarts ๐Ÿ˜‰ Read more