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April 2013

In Cookies and Bars, Recipe on
April 21, 2013

Triple Choc Chip Cookies

cookie

My first ever cookbook, happened to be titled “My First Cookbook”

I’d picked it up at a school fete for around 20c, as you do at your first school fete in Year 1, for no particular reason. It was a bit shabby, but I liked its illustrations (there were no photos in this cookbook, only drawings!) and it served me well during my primary school life. Well, it taught me to make scrambled eggs to survive those early Sunday mornings when my parents woke up 3 hours after me, and gave me plenty of inspiration back before I found baking as enjoyable as I do now ๐Ÿ™‚

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I was quite confused however, when I decided to progress from my kid’s cookbooks to ‘adult’ ones, and realised that apart from the lack of illustrations, colour and smaller font size, there wasn’t much of a difference at all. If anything, the recipes were even easier than those I’d been looking at in my kid’s cookbooks!

This triple choc chip cookie recipe is from another one of my kid’s cookbooks I’ve had since I was little and has long been a favourite of mine- it’s ridiculously easy to put together, and tastes absolutely amazing!! I like my cookies to be light and crispy, with a texture more towards the packaged type than your typical ‘homemade’ cookies, and these are just right! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Triple Choc Chip Cookies

Recipe from Best of Kid’s Cooking
Makes 16

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup oil
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
2/3 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cup chocolate chips (I usually go a bit over to ~1/2 cup)
60g white chocolate, chopped

  1. Turn oven to 180degC. Lightly grease 2 biscuit trays.
  2. Put sugar, egg and oil in a bowl. Mix well. 
  3. Sift cocoa and flours intro bowl. Mix gently. 
  4. Add chocolates and mix through gently. Depending on how much chocolate you put in and the size of your chocolates, it might be hard to mix all the chocolate into the dough- I usually just press whatever’s left over into each cookie before baking (i.e. after step 6).
  5. Knead lightly with hands to make a soft dough
  6. Make balls by rolling 1 tablespoon of dough
  7. Put balls on a tray 4cm apart. Bake 1 tray at a time for ~12 minutes, or until cracked and slightly hard (mine usually take longer, but be careful not to overbake or they’ll go hard!)
  8. Leave on tray for 5 minutes, then cool on wire rack. 
In Asian, Dining on
April 13, 2013

New China Restaurant, Ryde

Mini Spring Rolls
 

We’ve made a bit of a habit of purchasing coupons for meals last year, but we don’t often purchase coupons for chinese food as we have plenty of favourite chinese restuarants already which are cheap and cheerful. And to be honest, having grown up with Chinese food, it’s a little boring most of the time ๐Ÿ˜‰ The scoopon deal for New China Restaurant is quite different though, offering an all-you-can eat fare, with a selection of entree and main dishes. Now we’ve had all you can eat Japanese, sushi, Korean and everything, but never Chinese, so we were quite interested to see how it worked out!

The restaurant is quite empty on the night we visit, with one three or so table there, most with scoopons also. The service is friendly, and we are told that for this deal, we must all start with an entree each, followed by as many mains as we want but that every two main dishes comes with either fried or boiled rice.

Fried Wontons

Of course, we go for the fried entrees- spirng rolls and fried wontons. The spring rolls are tiny bite-sized pieces, and although we’re not the biggest fans of spring rolls, we do enjoy them. The fried wontons have obviously been left in the fryer for too long, being dark brown instead of golden and thus rather hard. We do order them again later in the meal, after seeing our neighbour’s wontons looking quite good, and this time they were not over-fried but weren’t the best wontons we’ve had.

Dumplings in Spicy Soup

The other two entree options are dumplings in clear soup (i.e. short soup) or in spicy soup, which gets me quite excited as dumplings in spicy soup is one of my favourite Asian dishes. The slippery soft dumplings are quite delicious, though it didn’t hold the sauce too well  and I could easily have finished the whole bowl by myself. I was a little disappointed with the sauce itself as it wasn’t like the ones I was used to which are a tad more tingly than spicy and have a greater depth of flavour. The sauce in this version was rather like the chinese chilli sauce which I usually have with noodles and whatnot, being quite oily, though I did enjoy quite enjoy this.

Fried Duck

The mains followed quickly after the entrees, first off with the fried duck, something we rarely order at Chinese restaurants, as we tend to prefer our duck roasted. This duck is done amazingly though, with an incredibly crispy skin, and is easily our favourite dish for the night. Whilst most fried ducks I’ve had before merely have the texture of duck, and taste otherwise like chicken, the meat of this one has a great depth of flavour and strong duck taste you’d find in roast duck.

Sweet and Sour Fish
 
Though often classified as “Westernised”, sweet and sour remains one of my favourites of Chinese food, and so I’m quite excited for the sweet and sour fish option on the menu. The verion here at New China is a rather different version from the usual,with the fried fish fritters blanketed with a layer of thick sweet and sour sauce. I find the sauce a little on the tomato-y side, lacking definitely the depth of flavour I like from my sweet and sour sauces. This would have actually been okay as I’ve had my fair share of not so amazing sweet and sour sauces before, but what I was most dissappointed in was that the fish fritters were already softened by the time they arrived at our table!

 

Fried Rice

We had high hopes for this fried rice as its deep dark colour made it look quite tasty. Unfortunately, the colour probably only comes from the use of dark soy, as rice itself was quite bland, tasting much more like plain rice than fried. Interestingly, the grains used for the rice were rather small and short in comparison to the usual Asian rice, so it had an interesting mouth feel……I wonder what kind of rice they use?

Sizzling Black Pepper Beef
 
A couple of sizzling plates come out of the kitchen, so we move our plates to make space for them, only to realise that none of them were ours. We’re quite surprised (and confused) when the sizzling black pepper beef arrives on a normal plate, not sizzling at all!! It was only as we started on this dish that we realised the problem with all-you-can-eat deals is that you have to finish everything- including those which you don’t like! We had quite a lot of trouble finishing this one as the beef was really tough, and was much too salty even for our tastes! 
 
Fried Prawn Ball With Special Sauce
 
The prawn balls fared much better with their special sauce being a sweet honey-like sauce, and deliciously crispy fried prawns which only just come out of the fryer. The main problem with all-you-can-eat chinese food, is that when it comes out as a full sized dish as we had here, around one dish per person is enough to get you sufficiently full so there’s really not much of a difference to having a set menu. Well at least that’s what we thought, so to take advantage of this all-you-can-eat deal, we decided to reorder these prawn balls because they were so good (and not too filling)! 

New China Restaurant on Urbanspoon

In Bread, Recipe on
April 5, 2013

(Not Really) Hot Cross Buns

How quickly times flies when you’re having fun!!

I’ve reached the end of yet another holiday (though I think this one was much too short to be classified a holiday) but it’s flown through without me noticing, and now it’s been a week since Easter and I feel like it too late to post these! Then again, it feels like I only made these yesterday ๐Ÿ™‚

Being Asian and all that, the only way we ‘celebrate’ Easter is with a couple of Easter eggs (but not Easter egg hunts!). To get into the spirit of things, I’ve always wanted to make hot cross buns…..but I can’t stand the fruits and spices that go into them! But I wasn’t going to let that stop me this year- so my solution is this: get rid of everything that I don’t like and then bake them anyway! ๐Ÿ™‚


This leaves only the sultanas, and as I used my normal fluffy bread recipe, these aren’t strictly speaking hot cross buns- but they certainly look the part! To make things a tad more interesting, I put surprises in each of them (using whatever I could find in the fridge….like satay beef) but this didnt work out too well in my family as they decided they wanted to know what was in each one before they started eating. As I’ve said before- surprises don’t work with my family!!!

Plain (Hot Cross) Buns Recipe

Dough Recipe from Corner Cafe
makes two trays of buns (i.e. 18 buns)

Dough
375g bread flour
100g plain flour
35g milk powder
75g caster sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 sachet (7g or 2 1/2 tsp) instant dry yeast
1 egg, lightly beaten
150ml (approx.) lukewarm water, adjust as necessary
40g butter, cubed

Roux
25g (just under 2 tbsp) bread flour
125ml (1/2 cup) water

Flour Paste
4 Tbsp plain flour
1 Tbsp caster sugar
~5 Tbsp water

Glaze
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp honey

Optional
Approx 1 cup sultanas

1. To make the roux, mix together the flour and the water and heat over medium heat until it reaches 65 degrees celcius. Turn the heat off and leave to cool until lukewarm
2. To make the dough, mix together all the dry ingredients and make a well in the middle of the mixture. Add the egg and the water roux and mix. Add the water until a soft dough it formed and then knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic (~10 min) Knead in the butter until it is incorporated. If making it in a breadmachine, put in all the water and dry ingredients and let it knead for a while. Add the water roux and let it knead, adding water or flour as necessary. Add the butter when the dough becomes smooth (~10minutes).
3. Place the dough in a warm spot to rise until double its size (~1 hour)
4. Divide the dough into 18 equal portions. If you’re not putting in sultanas, then roll them into balls and divide into two square cake tins (my tin is ~20cmx20cm, but work with whatever tin you have!).Othewise, roll each into a long, thin rectangle (with the width a bit shorter than 1/3 of a square tin), sprinkle a handful of sultanas over them then roll up tightly before dividing amongst the tins.
5. For the flour paste, mix together all ingredients, adjusting water volume until a smooth thick paste is formed. You don’t want the paste too thick or it’ll be difficult to pipe. Transfer paste into a piping bag (or plastic bag with a small hole cut in the corner) and pipe crosses onto buns. Cover with cling wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until double in size
6. Preheat oven to 180oC. Mix the glaze ingredients together (the honey takes a while to incorporate), and brush lightly over buns before placing them in oven. Bake for ~10 minutes or until lightly brown, and brush again with another layer of glaze (this step is optional, but I do it to make my buns shinier) before putting back into oven and baking until gold brown ~5-10 minutes.