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2011

In Cute Food, Recipe on
December 4, 2011

Kitty Cat Sushi

I hate the feeling of going backwards.

Not physically, though I hate that as well (have i told of the story of how I got motion sickness after sitting facing the wrong way on a sushi train?), but as in the opposite of improving. We’ve been making a lot of sushi of all different types lately- simple salmon nigiri, California rolls, tuna rolls and whatever else we felt like rolling up or squeezing into balls. Try as hard as I may, all my rolls still end up loose and lopsided like they’ve always been 🙁

Okok, so I actually only personally made 2 rolls by myself- a little more practice may help 😉

What I’m really talking about is my progress with decorative sushi.

I used the leftover rice and nori  to make this cat shaped sushi (a design from the same book as last time). I coloured it with sesame seeds for the black, tomato sauce for the orange (tomato flavoured canned tuna was my original plan, but I didn’t want to open a can of tuna just for this one roll) and also for the supposedly pink area around the mouth, since I couldn’t be bothered finding something pink.

Now, you would have thought I’d have at least some idea of how to place and space the different components after my first attempt at decorative sushi, but nup- I managed to do worse than last time! At first I placed too much rice on the base, so I had to take it all off and start again. Then, I accidentally put the nose on the eyes instead of the mouth (as you can probably see in the pictures)….which would have been fine if I were making a human!

 

Luckily, decorative sushi is quite forgiving, and even if it doesn’t look quite like what you had hoped, some massaging of the cut sushi and addition of features makes it look great again! But I was still disheartened at the fact that my sushi making ‘skills’ seem to be worsening more than improving!

On a more positive note, I did manage to take a couple of shots whilst I was making it, so I can look back before I attempt anything again….and if you want to make it too! Let’s just hope that my sushi making skills don’t go backward and further!

 

Kitty Cat Sushi

If you are attempting this, please read the complete instructions before starting as I don’t really explain things very well 😉

For one roll of sushi, you will need

a little more than one piece of nori
Some sushi rice (the book has some but I don’t use exact measurements)
Something Black eg. Black Sesame Powder
Something Orange eg. canned tuna (tomato flavoured)
Something Pink eg. pickled ginger
Kombu or Something dark brown eg soy sauce

1. First, you want to cut up your nori:

  •  once in half- this will form the big piece of nori which wraps around the outside of the sushi roll
  • Cut the other half of the seaweed into four equal pieces (not lengthwise to make four long strips but the other way to make the shape in the picture below)

2. Then you want to colour your rice- do this by mixing some rice with whatever you’re using to colour your rice in a bowl. For each of the colours, you’ll only need about 2 large tablespoons of rice.

Now we can start shaping:

First, we make mini rolls using the small pieces of nori we cut up before (each should be 1/8th of the size of the original piece of nori). Place a small amount of rice on the edge or the nori and roll it up to make a thin roll.You will need 3 rolls of white rice and one roll of pink (for the mouth). Make two of the white rolls smaller than the white and the pink by using less rice and rolling up tightly (you could even only use half of the 1/8th sheet but that would be harder to roll up).

Because the nose is smaller, we make need to make a thinner roll. To do this, the book tells us to use a sheet of kombu onto the nori (again, using the 1/8th size one) and roll it up tightly. Since I didn’t have kombu, I coloured some rice brown and spread a very thin layer across the nori and rolled it up tightly- it doesn’t look as great, but it’ll do. 

Slice one of the white rolls and the pink rolls in half

Place the half sheet of nori onto your sushi mat, lengthwise as we will be rolling ‘sideways’. Spread some white, orange and black rice onto the nori in the pattern shown in the picture above. Make sure that the width of the black and orange stripes is the same as those of the semicircle rolls you made above. The white stripe in the middle should also be the same width.

Place the two white semicircle rolls facing upwards onto the red and black lines.Fill the area between them with white rice and then place another layer of rice above this. (obviously, I didn’t put the layer of rice on in the picture above, so the nose ended up on the eyes….)

Place the dark brown ‘nose’ roll in right in the centre of the layer of rice.

Place both of the pink semicircles on top of the ‘nose’ facing downwards as shown. Then put a layer of rice over and around that so that t middle bit is a bit like a round mountain of rice.

Roll up the sushi using the mat then slice it up with a sharp knife. If you need to, give the sushi a bit of a massage to get it into the right shape.

Cut thin strips of nori and place them on the sushi to make whiskers.

Using the two small white rolls from before, cut each into the same thickness as the cat sushi for the ears. Place two ears on each cat sushi. You’re done!

Note: I was having trouble with making clean cuts on my sushi last time but had much more success this time thanks to Ann’s tip of moistening the knife with a mixture of water and vinegar and Shen’s tip of cutting quickly with one stroke and wiping the sticky stuff away. Thanks so much!

In Asian, Dining on
December 2, 2011

Golden Treasures Seafood Restaurant

lol. 

Granville RSL doesn’t bring any great food memories- the last (and only) time I was here to dinner was years ago, back when the restaurant was a buffet. Cheap and cheerful, it attracted hoardes of mostly Asian and old people but the food, as I remember it, was quite terrible- the only highlight for me was the hot chocolate from their coffee machine.

The buffet is gone now, and in its place is Golden Treasures Seafood restaurant which, to some extent, keeps with the cheap theme with its discounted yum cha lunches which still attracts many (mostly Asian) locals here on the weekend. The decor is not the most interesting and reminants of the old buffet still remain- there’s a bright neon dessert sign just above the entrance to the kitchen and a drinks bar on the side, which is quite lonely as you would expect since the restaurants serves tea to its diners.
.

Lobster with E-Fu moodles

We’re here for dinner, and more specifically, to try out their daily dinner specials which we had previously noticed when dining here at lunch (for their yum cha). We are disappointed to find that they have since removed those offers, instead, replacing them with less interesting ‘weekly specials’ (i.e. available every single day of the week).

The lobster is the only thing on the specials menu which really captures out attention, but mostly because of it’s price. At $68, the lobster is cheap, even if a little small (900g) but of that is, of course, expected. The dish does its job in satisfying those lobster cravings, but we find the overall flavours of the dish a little bland, and lacking in lobster taste.

Sweet and Sour Pork

I have claimed that I haven’t come across a sweet and sour pork that I don’t like, and at first, this wasn’t an exception, with its crispy fried batter covered in the usual bright red, sweet and sour sauce. A little mediocre but enjoyable all the same.After a few bites later however, one starts to notice something isn’t quite right with this dish…………Where is the meat? 

The ratio of batter to pork is much too high and each piece of deceivingly ordinary looking fried pork only contains a tiny small piece of meat. Which might not be the biggest problem to batter lovers (*ahem* me) until 10 minutes later, when you’re left with sad pieces of soggy batter which no-one likes eating.

 

5 Flavoured Duck

The menu is also quite entertaining and great for a laugh (only if you can read chinese). I suspect that it was not written by a chef though, as the names do nothing to tell you what the dish actually is.

The 5 Flavoured Duck is another nicely priced dish though its name does not reveal much about the actual flavours of the dish. The duck (or rather half a duck) looks promising, with its deep colours and tasty looking sauce- even if the dish looks a bit like more like duck carcass. We are disappointed however, to find that the intriguing idea of the ‘5 flavours’ is not present in the duck and even the most basic flavour, the flavour of duck, can barely be noted. Instead, the dark pool of sauce overwhelms all other flavours (even without having dipped the duck in it) and to me, tastes more like an overly sweet soy sauce than anything.

Seafood and Tofu Pot

 
The seafood and tofu hot pot is a relatively generous serving of seafood in the form of prawns and squid lightly tossed with come fried tofu and veggies- it is quite enjoyable, though not amazing.

Stir Fried Pork Neck with Cloud Ears and Nagaimo

The (rather pushy) waitress recommends this dish to us, as fresh nagaimo is not often available. This is the first time I’ve tried fresh nagaimo- a curious ingredient I’ve read about on blogs (I’m told that I’ve also had the dried version in some chinese soups). This dish is quite tasty, and the pork neck very tender but the highlight of the dish is the nagamio, which has an interesting, slightly crunchy texture (which reminds me of water-chestnut) and is great at absorbing the flavour of the sauce.

 

Beef Ribs in Black Bean Sauce (牛仔骨)

The beef ribs are a generous serving, and interestingly served in a deep clay pot, keeping the dish hot. Overall, I quite liked this dish. as I love beef ribs, and I liked the depth of flavour of the black bean sauce. The ribs however, are a little too soft and tender- a sign that they have been tenderised with baking soda.

Red Bean Soup

Of course, no dinner at a chinese restaurant is complete without the finishing complimentary fruits and dessert.  Along with a plate of oranges and kiwifruit, we are served a red bean soup which has a surprisingly smooth and silky texture- it’s so delicious it may perhaps be the highlight of this meal.

Walnut Cookies

The walnut cookies are quite a funny sight. with each cookie being a different colour. Luckily, the over/underbaking doesn’t have too much effect on the taste and texture of the cookie, and they are quite light and crispy- a great way to end the meal! Now, if only the mains were as good as the complimentary desserts!

Golden Treasures Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

In Cake, Cute Food, Recipe on
November 26, 2011

Bear Cake



Sometimes I’m just too good at putting things off…..

….and completely forgetting about them.

Replying texts, facebook messages or emails is the first thing which comes to mind, closely followed by  chores which I promise my mum I’d do (sorry mum!). And it’s not just things I don’t particularly like doing- this bear cake is a rather embarrassing example of this, as I’d promised my sister I’d make this cake for birthday…………..2 birthdays ago!

Woops?

I’ve been thinking of the reasons why it’s taken me so long to finally get around to making this cake and I still can’t completely explain why. It’s not because I didn’t want to make this cake, or that I had better things to make………….. it just never ended up happening

I’m thinking that it may have partly been because of the effort I know it would require- though the design is quite simple, it’s still more complex than just baking a cake and eating it as is (hence the lack of iced and decorated cakes on this blog). I’ve been quite lazy this year, and have often found myself ambitiously planning to bake some time consuming things over the weekend, only to give up from lack of motivation when the weekend comes rolling around.

I guess it’s sort of like the reason I don’t blog that often- though I love it, it takes a lot of effort for me  to write up a post. I was never any good at writing anything, and it takes a lot of deleting, writing and deleting before I can come up with something I wouldn’t mind sharing with others.

Sometimes I think of how much easier it would be if I just posted pictures and a recipe. I’d certainly have a lot more posts on my blog right now.

But that wouldn’t’ be as fun, would it?

Despite my slow progress, I have finally reached the milestone of 100 posts today. Ok, so maybe I may have cheated a little bit and also included my first ever ‘hello’ post (which consists of 3 sentences) in the count. And, it may come after 2 years and 3 months of blogging (yes, I’m well aware that most people reach this milestone before, or within close proximity of their 1st blogiversary). But hey, I got there 😉

And like my second blogiversary, I’m celebrating with chocolate cake. From the exact same recipe, to be exact. This delicious beetroot chocolate cake has become my go-to recipe for chocolate cake- it’s moist and chocolatey like mudcake, but with the subtle, underlying natural sweetness of beetroot. I know everyone already has their favourite chocolate cake recipe, but if you’re ever looking for a new one to try, I’d strongly recommend this one.

The design for this cake is taken from the ‘naughty bear’ cake at 85 degrees cake shop. It caught my attention, not because I thought it was particularly interesting design (when compared to the other beautiful cakes the bakery produces), but because of its simplicity- I was pretty sure I could pull off something like this at home.And so I showed it to my sister, who liked it as well and promised her I’d make it for her birthday………

The original cake was sponge cake and was covered in chocolate shavings but I thought my sister would like this cake better. I couldn’t be bothered making chocolate shavings to cover this cake, so I covered it with cake crumbs instead- an idea I got from  Zoe’s blog (my cake looks quite similar to hers….don’t you think?). I personally think it looks better than the chocolate shavings because it makes the bear look more ‘furry’…..or is that just my imagination?

 

Well, it’s still months from my sister’s next birthday (I guess I’ll
have to try harder to be on time next time!!), but I think all was
forgiven once this cake was made- my family thought it looked and tasted
great! I immediately received requests to make it again, since the 15cm
cake was quickly devoured, and my sister even wanted me to teach her
how to make it 🙂

And in case you were wondering, we couldn’t bear to cut its face into pieces…..

So we took its facial features off first!!  😉

‘Naughty Bear’ Chocolate Cake Recipe

For the cake
adapted from Veggie Belly
Original Recipe from Ross Burden

makes a 15cm cake

60g dark chocolate
2 medium eggs
200g sugar
100ml sunflower or vegetable oil
60ml milk
200g cooked and pureed beets
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
20g cocoa powder
130g flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Pre heat oven to 350 f.

2. Melt the chocolate (for the cake) over a double boiler. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and oil. Slowly add the cooked milk, beet puree , the melted chocolate and vanilla into the egg mixture. Beat just untill combined.

3. Sift the cocoa, flour, baking soda and salt. Add this to the beet batter. Fold just untill everything is combined. Dont over work or over mix the batter.

4. Spread a teaspoon of butter or oil over the surface of a 15cm cake pan. Sprinkle some flour all over, and tap out the excess. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin. Bake for about 45 minutes, or till a tooth pick or skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Baking time may vary depending on the pan and oven you are using. (mine took around 1.5 hours)

5. When the cake is done, cool it on a wire rack.

For the chocolate ganache
150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
150ml heavy cream

1. Place the chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a sauce pan, just till
it starts to barely boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and
whisk till it forms a smooth sauce. Chill in the fridge until spreadable.

Assembly
 
1. Slice off the top of the cake using a knife, to create a flat surface
2. Using the cake scraps, process them in a blender to create fine crumbs.
3. Place the base layer on a plate and cover with ganache. Cover with the second layer and spread the remaining ganache over the top and sides of the cake.
4. Sprinkle the cake crumbs of the top and sides of the cake to completely cover the icing
5. Place chocolate decorations (eyes, mouth etc) onto the cake 😛

Note: For the eyes, I used chocolate buttons and spread some (melted) white chocolate onto them.
For the nose/mouth, I used an egg ring to mould a white chocolate disc, a chocolate button for the nose and piped the mouth onto it.

In Cute Food, Recipe on
November 17, 2011

Panda Sushi

Panda Sushi

Hello there! 😉

Can you believe that it’s almost christmas?

My uni exams stole a whole chunk of my November, so I was pleasantly surprised to find Christmas decorations everywhere when I came out of my studying shell and entered the real world! Christmas and New Year is by far my favourite time of the year- there is something indescribably joyful about hearing the sounds of Christmas carols and seeing beautiful Christmas trees and other decorations everywhere!

With so much Christmas spirit in the air, I can’t quite get it off my mind and have been making plans for a Christmas themed cake….but it’s probably a bit early for that!

Panda Sushi

Meanwhile, I’m here tackling my list (of things to make) which you may remember me talking about. Since I realise that it is unrealistically long, I’ve brought it down to two main things ‘skills’ which I hope to master improve on before the end of the year:

1. Cake decorating- not with fondant and everything but just making them look nicer or more presentable.

2. Sushi making- which is of course, the subject of today’s post.

I’ve been terrible at making sushi for as long as I can remember. Whilst I’ve had practice from helping my mother out since I was young, my rolls have always been much too loose, lop-sided and pretty much terrible no matter how much effort I put into making them. Even my friend’s first attempt at sushi was better than mine!! Read more

In Asian, Dining on
November 15, 2011

Let’s Meat BBQ

Uni exams have finally finished for me, meaning that my first year of uni is officially over! It feels so good!! (although my leg, which I hurt whilst running to uni for my psychology exam because my train was half an hour late does feel so good……) I haven’t been baking much lately so I haven’t got much to blog about now, but I’ll be making my way through my enormous list of things to make soon so that should be fun 🙂 I have been eating out a lot though and in particular I’ve been itching to blog about this dining experience.

That’s because this was our second experience with group buy vouchers- and yet again, we chose a restaurant that was long drive from home (1.5 hours this time!). We couldn’t resist though, because the deal was for a Korean BBQ buffet at Let’s Meat for $39- and we love our buffets.

The reviews online are mostly quite negative, and to be honest, I wasn’t too sure what to expect when I called up Let’s Meat to make a booking for our family of four. The voucher was valid for any day of the week, so naturally we wanted to make a booking for the weekend, when they had their ‘Ultimate Buffet’ (normally $41) instead of their weekday option of ‘Smart Choice Buffet’ (normally $32). The person on the phone sounded a little annoyed when I kept asking if there were any vacancies for any weekend (turns out that they’re booked out until after December….) but was a little nicer when I finally decided to visit there on a Tuesday night instead.

Pickled Radishes, onion and mashed potato
  
We arrived to find the restaurant quite empty (though the surrounding restaurants were also very quiet) but service was great, and we were quickly taken to a table- though it was a designated ‘voucher holders’ table. We were given an A4 sheet, stating all the terms and conditions of the voucher including that they charge a service charge for changing the BBQ plate and that there is a limit of 10 dishes per voucher (i.e. 2 people) which I thought were a little unnecessary and off-putting.Before you all think that this place is terrible, I’ll point out that the service throughout the night was excellent. Though there were only two people serving the diners (one of which I’m pretty sure was the owner), they were very friendly and attentive. The owner spent the night walking around from table to table, making sure that everyone was enjoying their meal and chatting about just about anything!

 

This is what happens when you have a dish limit and have to keep reusing the same dish
 
The selection of hot foods was quite limited, and it didn’t help that the food did not get refilled much during the night. This might have been because we did come a little late, since voucher holders could only come at two specific times (6 and 7:30pm). The foods they had available weren’t amazing, but good enough to satisfy our hungry stomachs whilst the meats were cooking.The stir fried noodles were quite tasty but unfortunately a little dry. The fried rice was a little less exciting but probably the better option- the rice was nicely fluffy and delicious. They also a couple other hot dishes like fried chicken, but by the time we arrived there were only one or two left.

 

Spring Rolls
 
The spring rolls were probably the only thing which came out of the kitchen in the time that we dined there, so we quickly grabbed almost all of it (there wasn’t much to begin with!). They were delicious though- a nice crispy skin with a soft slightly sweet interior of veggies. Shame they didn’t have more!

 

Kimchi

They had a good selection of cold dishes, including the usual kimchi and pickles (onions and radish). I don’t really eat much kimchi, so I have no comments on that, but I liked their potato dish which was marinated in a similar spicy sauce- it was quite a surprise because we didn’t realise that it was potato at first! My favourite of all the cold dishes was probably their korean/japanese mashed potato which was incredibly soft and smooth- almost like whipped cream!

 

The highlight of Let’s Meat is definitely much more on the meat (hence the name? lol) than the already cooked foods- and thankfully, the meats did not disappoint! The selection of meats was again, quite limited, but we found that all the choices of meat were ones which we enjoy so it doesn’t bother us. Most notable amongst their meats would be their cubes of wagyu (which we only noticed existed after we had finished eating!) and their marinated pork, with a delicious marinade which brought about a slight hint of sweetness- making it taste a little like char sui but without the stickiness, and less sweet. I also loved the ox-tongue slices, which were a little thin for my liking but I think that’s how ox tongue is usually served for Korean bbq’s.

We were pretty pleased with the meats on offer here, and I’ll go so far as saying that of all the Korean BBQ buffets we’ve had in Sydney (we haven’t really been to that many) if meat was the only criteria, this would definitely rank as one of our favourites.

One thing that we found quite annoying was that the BBQ grill had pretty much only 2 settings- so hot that all the food burnt before being cooked or too cold that the meats took forever to cook, which wouldn’t have bothered us, except that  there was a 1.5 hour time limit! They also stated that if we wanted to change the temperature of the grill, we should ask the staff, so we spent the night asking the waiter to switch between the hot and cold setting…..luckily he was extremely nice and didn’t mind helping us every time!

Jelly
 
They didn’t have much of a ‘desserts’ selection, but their website doesn’t mention any desserts in their Smart Choice buffet anyway so we weren’t too dissappointed. Other than some fruits, there were some cute jellies on offer- I don’t usually like jelly anyway but I thought it’d be nice to finish with something sweet.

 

Ice Cream

They also had ice cream in their freezer, and I loved that they froze the ice cream cups as well as the ice cream 🙂 They only had vanilla flavoured ice-cream with a couple of toppings, but it was a nice way to end the night.

Overall, I thought the experience was pretty good, though I think one of the reasons why it wasn’t as bad as most other reviews was that I was expecting worse. I might not be back again, but that’s more because the food and the price together aren’t quite enough for the 1.5 hour trip, but if they had the deal again, I’d definitely buy it!

Let's Meat Korean Charcoal BBQ & Buffet on Urbanspoon