24.12.10

Dream Cuisine

Sorry for the lack of updates here in my blog but it has been a rather busy period around the Christmas. I hope you have finished your Christmas shopping by now, if not...oh well, you've got one day left =P
Just a quick post about Dream Cuisine which you may have already read about from my past post. Why blogging about it again? Apart from making one of the best macarons in Canberra, i was extremely excited when i found out that they are now selling their delicious macarons in a little coffee shop called Bean in the City (28/36 Ainslie Ave, Civic - (02) 6162 0866). I have been indulging (not alone) in macarons for the past few days and i've already eaten the following flavours: Strawberry & Champagne, Pistachio & Lime, a yellow one which i couldn't quite figure out what it was (wasn't passionfruit though), Cherry Ripe and Salted Caramel - so far my favorite ones are the Strawberry & Champagne and the Salted Caramel ones! Can't wait to try more from their Summer and Christmas range =)

Here is a picture of their macarons, taken when i visited them at the EPIC Markets a while ago:
Green: Pistachio & Lime / Purple: Lavender & Honey / Yellow: Passionfruit / Cream: Salted Caramel / Dark Pink: Cherry Ripe / Petit Macaron: Strawberry & Champgne 

Pay Bean in the City a visit for some awesome coffee and delicious macarons! If you would like to visit Dream Cuisine itself, you can find it at the Canberra's Capital Region Farmers Market at EPIC in Mitchell on Saturday until 11am or Sunday at the Woden CIT!

15.12.10

Taze Mediterranean Cuisine

It's always a pleasure seeing new restaurants being opened here in Canberra, especially when you least expect it. I was walking along Genge Street on a random day when i suddenly spotted Taze Mediterranean Cuisine (4/21 Genge Street, Civic, Canberra). Taze's decor is just as elegant and chic as its counterparts on Genge Street: Tongue & Grove and Blu Ginger, with big glass windows, modern-looking straw lamps and wooden fixtures with a little Mediterranean touch.
After a few months, i finally found some time to go to Taze with another two friends for lunch. It wasn't a particularly good day and the sky seemed gloomy, but on the bright side we had a very satisfying lunch with heaps of laughters. 
We started off with the Trio of Dips - we chose the Pembe Sultan (beetroot), Tzaziki (cucumber) and Babaganhoush (eggplant) - which was accompanied with refillable Turkish Bread. The dips are deliciously well made and i particularly liked the Tzaziki, which had a well balanced acidity and freshness to it.
We then had the Mushroom, Fresh Herbs, Feta Cheese and Spinach Risotto and the Bursa Iskender (shaved lamb simmered in homemade tomato sauce, Tazè Turkish rice with roasted garlic and yogurt dressing). The risotto was done al dente and the fetta really added that needed saltiness to complete the entire dish.
I am not a big fan of lamb but i have to say that the lamb slices Bursa Iskender were quite tender and flavoursome (i tasted two slices of lamb)! The highlight of the dish for me was the pilaf with the tomato sauce, simply beatiful!
After finishing our mains, we were definitely full. Not just full, but very full...it must have been all that bread that we consumed with the dips. That, however, didn't stop us from ordering some of the desserts that they had in their dessert cabinets. We ordered a Baklava, a Kadayif (sweet made with fine vermicelli-like pastry) and three Turkish delights, and we got to try some Revani (Turkish soft and sweet semolina cake with a sweet syrup) and Halva (almond dessert). Overall the sweets were good but probably a bit too sweet for my liking - my favorite ones were the Kadayif and the Revani though. *no photos for the Revani and the Halva, sorry! 
Overall lunch was good with nice food set in a well-decorated restaurant. The staff is enthusiastic and attentive who makes sure you are well looked after. Taze Mediterranean Cuisine is definitely a good place to go to with family and friends for a comfortable and relaxed meal.
Taze Mediterranean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

7.12.10

The Starfish Deli

I was in Bateman's Bay a few weeks ago and decided to try The Starfish Deli Restaurant (Promenade Plaza Shop 1, Clyde St, Batemans Bay 2536 - (02) 4472 4880) instead of going to The Boatshed for fish & chips (like most times). The weather was beautiful and gladly, we ended up getting a table by the window which allowed us to enjoy the view to the sea while eating.
We decided to order a dish each and we ended up getting Fishwich (it's basically fish & chips on a baguette), Eden Mussels (garlic, chilli and ginger spiced tomato, white wine and herbs, with pane di casa), Kilpatrick Wood Fire Pizza (crispy bacon, clyde river rock oysters, leicester cheese and worcestershire sauce) and the Garlic Prawn Pasta (in a garlic and parmesan cream sauce with tagliatelle and wild rocket).
Fishwich
The mussels were quite fresh and plump and they went well with the tomato sauce. The amount of king prawns in the pasta was quite generous and overall the dish was nice but lacked a bit of saltiness. I think the pizza was probably my least favourite dish (though i chose it) because there weren't many oysters on the pizza and some of the bacon pieces were hard and burnt. On top of that, all i could really taste was bacon and cheese *disappointed.
Eden Mussels

Kilpatrick Wood Fire Pizza

Garlic Prawn Pasta

Although the food wasn't spetacular, the lunch was still enjoyable. Heard that they make really good Crème brulée, maybe next time?







30.11.10

My little book preview

Remember that blog post about the book competition held by Nuffnang way back in August?
As some of  you probably know i was one of the three happy winners of the competition and we all got to publish our book idea, thanks to Blurb. Since the book was due mid-October, i spent most of my free time making the book and didn't have much time to update my blog during that time (i apologize for that). Anyways...without further ado, i present to you a preview of my little humble book...
I also decided to use my blog post for the book competition to enter The Nuffnang Christmas Blogger Challenge because it stood out from all the other posts that i wrote in 2010. It made me realize my (EVEN GREATER) love and appreciation for food and also for the other little things that are part of my life. The book challenge made me think of what i wanted to share with my readers and how to convey that. It was hard work, especially given the time we had and I don't think i did an particularly good job - being a rookie myself with no expertise in book making. Despite of that, I hope that the book will still, in a way or another, be inspirational to you. I will use this experience as a learning opportunity and improve my skills.

Lastly, i would like to thank Nuffnang for bringing all these awesome challenges every month and i hope i can win the oh-so-cool iPad for Christmas! That'd be seriously awesome and it will definitely be very useful to a food blogger like me!

27.11.10

Coxinha Recipe

It was one of those days where i suddenly had a craving for Brazilian snacks, particularly coxinha. It's one of those things that  eat during your childhood and that occasionally hits you out of nowhere, making you suddenly crave for them. As it is not readily available here in Canberra, my best option was to search for the recipe and make some. I always thought the the process of making coxinha was quite daunting, but in fact, it turned out quite easy - just time consuming! Coxinha, which literally means 'little thigh',is a popular Brazilian snack made from shredded chicken enclosed in a batter and fried. I used mozzarella cheese here because i couldn't get some catupiry (soft, mild-tasting cheese).  The name coxinha is given as the snack is roughly shaped like a chicken drumstick.
It was my first time making coxinha and i think they turned out quite nice - at least they tasted and looked like one. It's best eaten within the first few hours after deep-frying (with tomato sauce, if you like). Alternatively, you can freeze them and heat them up when you decide to have some (200C for around 15-20 minutes or until golden brown)!

Coxinha Recipe
Makes around 25

Ingredients

Dough
-1.7L of the stock used to cook the chicken breast
-1 cup of vegetable oil
-1 chicken stock cube
-1kg of plain flour

Filling
-1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded
-1 large tomato, finely diced
-1 onion, finely diced
-1/2 cup of continental parsley, finely chopped
-1 chicken stock cube
-1 pack of shredded mozzarella cheese (optional) OR catupiry

Coating
-1 egg (+75ml of water)
-350g of breadcrumbs

Method
1) Dissolve 2 chicken stock cubes in 2.5L water. Add chicken breast and cook until it is done.
2) Shred the chicken breast and save 1.7L of the stock.
3) In a pan, add 2tbsp of vegetable oil and cook the onions. Add in the cube of chicken stock; add a bit of the liquid stock to help to dissolve the cube.
4) Add in the shredded chicken breast, tomato and parsley and cook for around 20 minutes. Leave the mixture to cool.
5) To make the dough, use a big pot and add in the saved stock, chicken stock cube and vegetable oil. Bring it to boil.
6) Once boiled, bring it down to low heat and add in the flour. Keep mixing until a dough-like mixture forms. The right consistency is reached once the dough no longer sticks to the bottom of the pot. Take the dough out and let it cool down (CAUTION: it is really HOT!) before kneading it until smooth.
7) To make the coxinha, get some dough and roll it into a ball. Flatten the ball and press the centre to form a little 'well'. Fill the bottom with a bit of mozzarella and then some chicken filling. Bring the edges together to seal and work on its shape until it resembles a 'little chicken drumstick' aka coxinha. (MAKE SURE BOTH CHICKEN FILLING AND THE DOUGH ARE COMPLETELY COOLED DOWN).
8) Dip the coxinha in the egg mixture (1 egg + water) and coat it with breadcrumbs.
9) Refrigerate the coxinhas for 30 minutes before deep frying them with vegetable oil. Enjoy!

25.11.10

Rasa Sayang (Dickson)

Not long after trying Nyonya, we decided to give Rasa Sayang (43 Woolley Street, Dickson (02) 6249 7284) a go. It is a Chinese-Malaysian restaurant that looks suspiciously dark from the outside with a bright red neon sign - a bit intimidating...which is why i never tried Rasa Sayang all these years. As soon as you step in, however, you get a completely different feel. The restaurant feels warm, cozy and has a nice Chinese-Malaysian-restaurant-style decor.
We ordered three dishes (plus a dessert) which was more than enough for two people and extremely filling! We got Itek Panggang (Roast Duck a la Kuala Lumpur style, served with chilli plum sauce), Kedah Beef Curry (Tender Beef curried in chilli, lemon grass, crushed salted beans and tomato) and Eggplant Sambal. The roast duck was beautifully done, soft and tender inside with a very crispy skin outside - recommend it! I wasn't too fond of the beef curry, mainly because of its texture which was a bit thick and concentrated. Don't get me wrong, the flavours are nice...i just prefer smoother curries. The last dish - Eggplant Sambal - was very yummy (despite it being oily) and something for a change!
 Itek Panggang

 Kedah Beef Curry

Eggplant Sambal

For dessert, i ordered a Gula Melaka because i just couldn't get enough of it when i visited Nyonya (as you already know). I was hoping that it would bring back that deliciousness experience that i had or better. However, when the dessert came...my heart sank. It didn't look nearly as nice as the one i had in Nyonya but i decided to put the looks aside and leave it to the taste. It was alright but there wasn't enough palm sugar syrup and thus, it felt like i was eating sago drowned in coconut milk.
The dinner at Rasa Sayang was a pleasant one and NOT scary or dodgy like i thought previously (i even thought i would be kidnapped if i ever ate there a few years ago). The staff is very attentive and polite, making sure that you have a good dining experience. The highlights for me were the roast duck and the eggplant sambal - give it a go too! I might be back to try other dishes =)

Rasa Sayang on Urbanspoon

17.11.10

Nyonya

Recent addition to the collection of Tuggeranong restaurants is Nyonya (Shop 13A Hyperdome - (02) 6293 3733). The restaurant features a modern and simple decor and specializes in Chinese and Malaysian cuisine. The owner is very friendly and he even gave us a free dessert (Gula Melacca) and a Roti Canai (yey!) - that's because the restaurant had just opened.
The dishes that we ordered were mainly Malaysian, as the Chinese dishes did not really appeal to us. We started with some Roti Canai and to my delight, they are made on spot. The roti was light and fluffy, served with their lovely home made sambal, dal and sugar. Loved the sambal!
Next up were the noodles, the Seafood Laksa Lemak and Char Kway Teow. My first impression of the laksa was that its portion was quite generous and it was truly seafood! By that i meant that it wasn't consisted of crab sticks and fish balls but of fish fillet slices, prawns (lotsa them) and calamari. The Char Kway Teow was alright but way too spicy for my liking and for that reason, i didn't really like it.
Seafood Laksa Lemak
Char Kway Teow
We also ordered some dishes to go with rice including the No.1 Hot Pot, Assam King Prawns, Hainam Chicken (with rice), Loofah with Garlic and Kangkong Belacan (water spinach stir fried with spicy shrimp paste). We ordered No.1 Hot Pot thinking that it would be something 'cool' but it was just like a combination hot pot (with a bit of everything). The Assam King Prawns tasted good and the sourness was well balanced; it went well with the rice and i just couldn't get enough of it!
I really liked the Hainam Chicken as it was soft, smooth and tender - even the cucumbers tasted nice! This could be nicest Hainam Chicken in Canberra so far, worth trying! Sadly the chicken rice wasn't as good as i expected it to be; i think they might have used some sort of Hainam Chicken rice pre-mix condiment.
Loofah with Garlic was awesome and i loved that subtle sweetness in the loofah. If you prefer something that is full of flavour with a hint of spiciness, try Kangkong Belacan - a Malaysian favorite! *thumbs up for both vegetable dishes!
No.1 Hot Pot
Assam King Prawns
Hainam Chicken

Loofah with Garlic

Kangkong Belacan
For desserts, we ordered the Symphony of home made ice cream which consisted of home made durian ice cream, sweet corn ice cream, banana ice cream and mango ice cream. I am usually not a fan of durian, but the taste in the durian ice cream was alright and bearable. I liked all flavours and the banana ice cream stood out the most because i wasn't expecting it to be that nice and so un-artificial! The sweet corn one was good as well and it even had some corn kernels in it. Gula Melaka (sago pudding) was delicious! I liked how the palm sugar syrup oozed out of the sago pudding blending nicely with the coconut milk around it...definetely worth a try.
Symphony of home made ice cream
Gula Melaka
Overall, the dinner was good with some hits and misses. The service is friendly but still needs a bit of work. For me, the desserts and the Hainam Chicken were definitely the highlights of the dinner. 
If you are looking for a friendly and casual place to have a meal with family and friends, Nyonya is the place to go.
Nyonya on Urbanspoon

6.11.10

Nara Festival 2010

Remember the post on the Okonomiyaki Recipe? I was meant to blog about the Nara Festival but completely forgot about it until today, when i was looking through my unused blog photos folder. Sorry for the late post, but here you go.
Candles placed all around the Nara Park for the highlight of the festival
The Canberra Nara Festival celebrates the strong Sister City relationship shared between Canberra and Nara (Japan) and this year, the event took place on the 18th September. The festival offers a variety of things to do and there is always something for everyone. There were mochi pounding and calligraphy demonstrations and things that people could get involved into such as kite flying, origami making, calligraphy, massage trials and some Japanese performances to enjoy. The highlight of the event is obviously seeing all the 2000+ candles lit by the end of the event - unfortunately, i wasn't able to stay long enough to see it! (sucked...)
Seeing little kids 'fishing' for colourful water balloons definitely brought back glimpses of my childhood; felt like getting one, but i didn't =P. 

Being a food fan, i had my attention mostly drawn to the food at the festival...and being a mochi lover, one of my must-do things was to not miss the mochi pounding demonstration. In a nutshell, the mochi is placed in a big mortar and pounded with wooden mallets until it reaches the right consistency. The mochi is then made into smaller pieces and eaten with a sweet peanut mixture, red bean paste or nori & shoyu (savoury).
I think i wasn't too fond of the nori & shoyu mochi...i prefer my mochi to be sweet
There were various flavours of mochi and daifuku available for sale and i ended up getting the Sakuramochi, since i don't get to have that very often. Sakura mochi is a pink mochi filled with red bean paste and wrapped with a salted sakura leaf.
The Okonomiyaki was not good and that's why i shared an Okonomiyaki recipe here in my blog! They had put to much batter and too little ingredients. It was like eating an overly thick pancake that was dry and not sweet. The Takoyaki, on the other hand, was delicious (and pipping hot!). No wonder there was a long queue not long after i got mine.
The gyoza tasted good and authentic but some of them were a bit burnt on the edges. Other than that...oishii~ 
It was an afternoon well spent, immersing in the Japanese culture and enjoying some of its delicacies. Sadly i had to leave early and missed out on the main highlight of the Nara Festival. Next year, perhaps?

29.10.10

A Floral 21st Birthday Cake

One of the major things that i was doing during the month of October was planning, designing, doing taste-trials for my friend's 21st birthday cake. Gladly, i wasn't doing all of these by myself; i had J to share the load and keep me company (since it was a shared project). The whole process was a fun and worthy experience, even though it took away some of our sleep time and energy. Despite being faced with some uncertainties and failures on the way, those 31 hours of hard work definitely paid off. The cake turned out very pretty (both of us couldn't stop saying '...so pretty, so pretty') and the birthday girl really liked it too.
I also decided to submit this blog post as part of The Nuffnang October Blogger Challenge because i thought that the cake & cupcakes were so pretty that i would totally take them to the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. The cupcakes have beautiful pastel colours and delicate flower decorations that especially suits a spring season tea party.
The journey started when we accepted the birthday girl's request to make her 21st birthday cake. At first, it sounded cool and fun but when we actually stopped to think about it we were like "Wait...it's her 21st birthday cake, not any other cake that we usually make". The birthday girl was going to hold a sit-down dinner for 50 or so guests, so we couldn't just make any Michel-Patisserie-like cake. It had to be displayed during the dinner, pretty, tasty and something that would feed 50+ guests. I immediately knew what we were dealing with...Fondant Cakes! Neither J or myself had ever made a fondant cake before, so we started to do heaps of research and watch Youtube videos about fondant cakes.
The birthday girl wanted green tea-flavoured cakes so we ended up making a White Chocolate Green Tea Mud Cake (main cake) and Green Tea cupcakes. We adapted the recipes from the book Planet Cake - A beginner's guide to decorating incredible cakes by Paris Cutler. We basically just added green tea powder to the recipes and reduced the amount of sugar needed in them. It's definitely a great book for beginners (like us) who are interested in cake decorating!
With everything ready and set to go, it took us 3 days to finish our little work of art! Let the journey begin...

Day One
We made the mud cake (as it can be stored longer) and coloured 6kgs of fondant to the colours needed: pale green and four shades of pink. That was a lot of muscle work involved! We were both pretty exhausted by the end of day...
Mud Cake Batter
The different coloured fondants
Day Two
That's when we made 6 batches of cupcakes (86 cupcakes in total), brushed them with syrup and covered all of them with white chocolate ganache.
Testing the batch of green tea cupcakes
Brushing the green tea cupcakes with syrup before ganaching them
Day Three
This day was entirely dedicated for decorating the mud cake and the cupcakes. We rolled out some pale green fondant and cut them into circles to cover the cupcakes. We also rolled out a massive 'sheet' of pale green fondant to cover the main cake and then, we put edible pale gold ribbon around the bottom rim of the mud cake. 
Cupcakes covered by pale green fondant
Covering the White Chocolate Green Tea Mudcake with Fondant. It wasn't as daunting as we thought afterall...
Covered mud cake with edible pale gold ribbon

We cut out a few hundreds of flower-shaped decorations to be used on cupcakes and the mud cake. All flowers were brushed with white shimmering glitter for a prettier finish and some flowers were decorated with metallic cachous.
Cutting flower-shaped decorations
More pretty flower decorations
In process of decorating the main cake
Finished cupcakes! I think it was past midnight when we finished all  them...

Day Three was probably the most fun and rewarding day for both of us as we got to see the final product! Yey!
It was such an accomplishment for us, i have to say. *tears...J also tears...

More photos of the finishing product...

Sorry for the long post, just felt like a proud mum!
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