31.5.10

Macarons from Croissant D'Or

Macarons. Macarons. Macarons...how i love them!
Pretty and delicate little gems that just make you go 'Awww...' I have yet to perfect them but as for now, i'm pretty happy to just buy some. As far i am aware, the only places that sells macarons here in Canberra are Croissant D'Or and Flute Bakery (let me know if there are other places in Canberra that sells them!).

Croissant D'Or (33 East Row, Civic) is a small French Patisserie located just in the heart of city that offers a great range of bread rolls, cake slices, pies, tarts, petit fours (which includes macarons), cake-to-order and coffee. One of my favorite bread rolls is the Spinach & Fetta Roll which is probably the one that i get the most often from Croissant D'Or. I've tried a cake or two from Croissant D'Or before i had this blog (so no photos!!!) and as far as i can remember, my memory tells that the cakes were quite moist and delicious! *hoping to do a Croissant D'Or cakes blog post - recruiting tasting partners now!*

Well, well, well...after so many visits to Croissant D'Or, i finally decided to try their macarons - also because i was craving for them - and the flavours that were available on the day were: Cointreau, Noisettes (hazelnut flavoured), Raspberry, Chocolate, Coffe and Pistachio. Obviously, i bought one of each flavour and finished them all on the same day! Talk about greedy, huh? The macarons were not as 'wow' as i was expecting and the sizes were not very even. Some macarons had very hollow shells whereas some were perfect but the most disappointing thing was that in most of the macarons, the fillings were not enough...leaving the impression that they were not made with the utmost care. Taste wise, they were okay and my favorite of the bunch was probably the Raspberry Macaron followed by the Chocolate Macaron.
I like Croissant D'Or for its cakes and bread rolls but not sure if i would go back for the macarons though. *sad

28.5.10

Mini Banana Chiffon Cake

Another day with an impulse to bake a cake. Since i had some over ripe banana sitting in my pantry, i decided to use them. I didn't feel like making the traditional banana cake or banana bread and being still in love with my tiny chiffon cake mould after making the Mini Matcha Chiffon Cake, i decided to make a Mini Banana Chiffon Cake. I just love chiffon cakes, they are so soft and spongy! Perfect for an afternoon tea snack with some tea. I'm glad i found a recipe for a Banana Chiffon at Cosy Bake Blog.

I've made some minor changes to the recipe but you can still follow the original one. Here is my adapted version of the Banana Chiffon from Cosy Bake.

Mini Banana Chiffon Cake
Ingredients:
- 80g mashed banana
- 1 tbsp of milk
- 3 egg yolks
- 60g caster sugar
- 50ml unsalted butter, melted
- 80g cake flour
- 4 egg whites
- sliced bananas, optional

Method:
1. Mix the mashed banana with milk well 
2. Use a whisk, mix yolks and half of the caster sugar. Add in the butter and followed by the banana mixture. Mix well.
3. Sieve in flour to the batter and mix well.
4. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and the rest of the caster sugar until it reaches the meringue stage. Fold in the meringue in 3 additions to the yolk batter.
5. Pour the batter into two mini chiffon cake moulds (~10cm) and bake for 30 minutes (or until set) at 180'c.
6. After the cake is baked, invert the cake mould and let it cool completely before unmoulding the cake.
Serve!

The cakes turned out really soft and spongy - just the way i wanted them to be. Although they didn't turn out quite pretty (with rather rough and wrinkled edges), there was still a lovely banana aroma coming from the cake that i just couldn't help but to devour it right after taking these photos!

25.5.10

Phatduck

UPDATE: Currently closed due to roadworks

Phatduck (Petrie Plaza, Bunda Street, Civic) is a little octagon-shaped building that you probably would not notice as you walk around Civic. This little takeaway place is a little sister to Chairman & Yip Restaurant and Lanterne Rooms. Originally, Phat Duck only intended to provide healthy and nutritious takeaways (at affordable price) for lunch, but it has now opened up its doors for people who would like to sit down and eat at the restaurant. The sit down area is not very big, so you will probably have to get there early or wait until someone finishes their lunch!
The menu is humble and small but it concentrates on dishes that it does best and...the best thing of all? None of the items on the menu is over $10 (with the exception of the Red Curry Duck which is $10.50). Phatduck specializes in dishes with an Asian influence, so don't be suprised to find burgers with an Asian twist or curries in their menu. One of the things that got me interested in trying out Phatduck was that they offered duck (how i love duck!) and Wagyu Beef! I had a chat with the friendly staff at Phatduck and i was pleased to learn that their Wagyu Beef have a marble score of 7+ and that they use free range duck!
I wanted to try their duck dishes so badly but by the time we got there, they had sold out of duck (though it's the most cooked meat in the little premises). Therefore, we'd settled for the Wagyu Beef Burger and the Wagyu Beef Curry. I could taste the fattiness (in a good way!) of the wagyu beef in the burger and it was nicely tender and juicy. I couldn't taste as much fat from the wagyu beef in the curry  but the curry was certainly very hearty and a perfect dish for the coming winter! It also complemented well with the coconut rice.
Wagyu Beef Burger $8.50 ( i just realized that i didn't do a good job in photographing the Wagyu beef in the burger!
Wagyu Beef Curry, $9.50
The meal was lovely and for the price we've paid, it's totally worth it! The staff was efficient and friendly; definately going back sometime soon to try out their duck dishes (be there early to avoid disappoinment!).
On last thing, i almost forgot to mention that their takeaway bowl is so adorable and cute - a mother duck with a couple of little ducklings! I didn't get a takeaway but the guy staff was so friendly to let me take a photo of the takeaway bowl, so here it is:
Adorable huh?

21.5.10

High Tea @ Rydges Capital Hill

Winter is certainly coming with temperatures hitting lower each day and gradually seeing the transition from autumn to winter reflected in the beautiful trees of Canberra. High teas are nice around this time of the year because that cup of lovely tea will just warm you up! Not to mention all the delicious finger foods and tea cakes that comes in that beautiful two or three-tiered cake stands. Having read in the magazine that  Rydges Capital Hill (Corner of Canberra Ave & National Cct, Forrest) was bringing the tradition of British High Tea to Canberra, i became utterly excited and made a booking for the grand opening day!

Upon arriving at High Tea, we were immediately greeted with a smile by a friendly staff. We were seated next to the window which was really great for taking photos! All the tables were nicely laid with white tablecloths and pretty floral plates; the atmosphere was nice, relaxing and with beautiful music played by a harpist.

We started our afternoon High Tea by choosing our teas from the selection of fine teas that they had. We decided to go for Earl Grey and Green Tea & Jasmine tea. The three-tiered set selection of sweet cakes, savoury pasties, finger sandwiches, homemade scones came not too long after the tea. Here is the selection of food that we had:

Egg & Chive Finger Sandwich
Classic Salmon & Cucumber Finger Sandwich
Spinach & Tomato Quiche
Chicken & Brie Petit Tart
Buttermilk & Fruit Scone with Jam and Cream
Fresh Fruit Tart
Elegant miniature Tea Cake
Indulgent Chocolate Petit Four
Dainty Cup Cake
I liked the sultana scones as they were nice and soft and they obviously complemented really well with the jam and cream. I also liked the chicken & brie tart combination and would have liked it more if it was served warm. The passionfruit cupcake was lovely and not too sweet.
I found that there wasn’t a good balance of sweets and savouries. There were way too many sweets (i know some people wouldn't mind this) and i would have preferred to have a bit more of savoury bites. I would have also preferred the quiche and the tart to be served warm as supposed to cold. Apart from those things, i had a good time and the service was great.

Since it was High Tea at Rydges Capital Hill’s grand opening, we were given a little box of truffles as a thank you gift. High Tea at Rydges Capital Hill is available every Sunday from 12pm to 4pm for $38 per person. If you do happen to go to Rydges for High Tea, don’t forget to read the little section on ‘High Tea Etiquette’ at back of the menu...i found it interesting!

18.5.10

Tilley's Devine Cafe Gallery

Tilley's Devine Cafe Gallery (Corner of Wattle Street & Brigalow Street, Lyneham Shops) first opened its doors in 1984 and has extended five times until they took over the whole block. Tilley's is a very inviting cafe which features elegant and dark red-ish wood fittings with several old-fashioned booths lining the walls. Tilley's offers a humble cafe menu and  every now and then, diners can enjoy live performances while savouring a selection from the tapas menu. The menu does have a few unusual items such as the Tofu & Eggplant Curry and Thai Fish Cakes but on this particular visit, we decided to go with the 'more-cafe' food.
I ordered the Opened Salmon Sandwich for lunch  which was alright but i was a bit disappointed that the portion wasn't as generous as the other dishes. The Caesar Salad (with their famous egg dressing), on the other hand, was big and very tasty and the garlic bread that came with it left me wanting more! My favourite dish was probably the Salt & Pepper Squid as it was nicely crumbled and subtly seasoned with some fresh chillies; it complemented well with the aioli too! I didn't get the chance to try the Fish & Chips but it looked beautifully beer battered and was served with a garden salad and New York fries.

Open Salmon Sandwich

Caesar Salad

Salt & Pepper Squid

Fish & Chips
Tilley's is definately a good place to have a relaxed and lazy weekend brunch!
Tilley's on Urbanspoon

14.5.10

Mini Macha Chiffon Cake

Having recently bought a chiffon cake tin from a Japanese shop, i finally decided to use it. I decided to make a macha chiffon cake because i was craving for it and also because here in Canberra, macha cakes are not as common as Sydney. Yes, macha cakes are a luxury here!

The recipe yields two mini macha chiffon cakes and they turned out spongy and soft; it wasn't as sweet as i would have liked it to be because i ran out of caster sugar (fail!). I covered the cakes with whipped cream, sifted some macha powder on top and decorated with some multi-coloured cachous pearls. The cake tastes the best without being refrigerated because once you put it in the fridge, it turns dense (as you can see from the photos). I had to refrigerate the second cake as it was covered with cream and i was too full to eat it after finishing the first one.

Mini Macha Chiffon Cake (yields two 10cm cakes)
Ingredients
-100ml of full cream milk
-1 1/2 tbsp of macha powder
- 75g of unsalted butter
- 90g of low protein plain flour, sifted
- 4 eggs, separated
- 100g of caster sugar (this should give you the right sweetness)
- 300ml of whipping cream
- 2 tbsp of caster sugar

Method:
1) Whisk macha powder and milk in a saucepan until well blended. Make sure you there are no macha clumps left in the mixture.
2) Add in butter and put the mixture over a stove. Stir until butter is melted and allow the mixture to cool.
3) Pour the macha mixture into a big bowl and beat in the flour and the egg yolk alternately (do this in 3 batches).
4) In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy, add in caster sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
5) Fold in 1/3 of the whites mixture into the macha mixture, mix well. Then, fold in the rest of the egg white mixture and mix well.
6) Pour mixture into two chiffon cake tins and bake in a preheated oven of 170C for 25 minutes or until set.
7) Remove the cakes from the oven and invert them immediately on a cake rack.
8) Whip the cream with caster sugar and cover the macha chiffon cake with it. (Remember to only cover the cake with whipping cream once the cake has been completely cooled down)
Ready to be served!

12.5.10

Noodle Cafe

Was planning to try a new Thai restaurant on a particular Sunday lunch and was disappointed to find out that they do not open on Sundays. Trying to find an alternative around city, we ended up in Noodle Cafe (5 Garema Place, City) which especializes in Chinese, Lao and Thai dishes. The restaurant itself is small and simple with just a few decorations.
Since it was cold, i decided to get a Pho Beef with Beef Balls. Pad Thai and Seafood Laksa were also ordered. Pad Thai looked normal and so did my Pho, which perhaps needed a bit more salt in the soup stock. For some reason, my Pho had a darker stock than what i am used to and i had to bring some noodle out of the soup to make the dish "photograph-able". In terms of presentation and taste, i reckon the Seafood Laksa was the best amongst them!

Sugared-peanuts before the meal
Pad Thai
Pho Beef with beef balls
Seafood Laksa

8.5.10

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

Decided to bake a cake out of impulse. I wanted to make something with my cooking chocolate (Lindt Piccoli) and i thought, why not try the gluten-free chocolate cake that i saw in my friend's mom's blog a few days ago? The recipe looked easy and fast which meant that i didn't have to wait hours and hours before i could eat a piece of the cake. It was my first time baking a chocolate cake without using flour as i've always been a bit skeptical on not using flour in cakes. Don't know why...
The cake turned out quite soft and spongy and it didn't taste overly sweet or rich. When left overnight, the cake wasn't as soft but it had a nice mousse-like texture. I quite enjoyed it because the next thing i realised was that a quarter of it was already gone on the night that i baked it! My only dislike: the cake was flatter than normal cakes that i've baked and it didn't last long!


Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
- 150g of chocolate (i used Lindt Piccoli)
- 80g of unsalted butter
- 30g of caster sugar
- 3 eggs, separated
- icing sugar to dust, optional

Method
1) Preheat oven to 180C.
2) Melt butter and chocolate over simmering water. Allow it to cool.
3) Beat the egg whites (medium speed) and gradually add in the caster sugar. Beat until soft peaks form.
4) Add egg yolks into the melted chocolate and mix well.
5) Fold half of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture. Stir gently and make sure it's mixed well. Then pour this mixture into the remaining egg white mixture and fold gently. Mix well.
6) Pour the mixture into a greased 8" cake tin.
7) Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked. Leave it to cool and serve! Enjoy~

5.5.10

Crème caramel

This is the first time i've attempted a non-Brazilian Crème caramel - in portuguese we call it, Pudim de Leite condensado. The main difference is the usage of sweetened condensed milk in the Brazilian recipe whereas the one that i made, asked for cream. An evident difference is that the non-Brazilian Crème caramel one is not as sweet as the Brazilian one (i will call this Pudim de Leite, instead). The texture of Crème caramel was a bit rough and eggy as supposed to the smooth texture that i usually get making Pudim de Leite, but that could be my poor skills reflected in my first attempt of making the Crème caramel! We shall see...
Taste-wise was alright but i still think that a smoother texture would have made it better.


I took this recipe from an Australian Women's Weekly Book.

Ingredients
-165g caster sugar
-125ml water

-6 eggs
-1tsp of vanilla extract
-75g caster sugar, extra
-300ml (whipping) cream
-430ml of milk

Method
1)Preheat oven to 160C/140C fan forced.

2)Combine sugar and water in a medium frying pan, stir over heat, without boiling until the sugar dissolves. Bring it to the boil, uncovered and without stirring until the mixture is a deep caramel colour. Remove from heat and allow bubbles to subside. Pour toffee into 6 'panna cotta' moulds.

3)Whisk eggs, vanilla extract and extra sugar in a large bowl.

4)Combine cream and milk in a medium saucepan, bring it to boil. Whisking constantly, pour hot milk mixture into egg mixture. Scoop mixture into the moulds.

5) Place the moulds in a baking dish and fill up the baking dish with boiling water until it reaches about halfway of the moulds. Bake in oven for about 40minutes or until set. Remove the moulds from baking dish, cool them down and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

6) Ease the crème caramel from the mould and invert onto a serving plate. Enjoy!

Let me know how you went if you attempted this recipe too =)



1.5.10

Brodburger - Bowen Park

Brodburger (Bowen Park, Kingston) is the real burger! It's probably one of the best ones i've tried in Canberra and they are not only delicious but humongous too. I even had trouble finishing off my Brodburger let alone be a Brodburger Deluxe *faints! Brodburger uses fresh ingredients in their burgers and A-grade gourmet beef patties (flame-grilled) which are very tender and juicy. You also get to choose the type of cheese to go into your burger: Brie, Swiss or Blue Cheese.
Brodburger's menu

Brodburger is not a cafe but a food caravan, to be exact, a bright red food caravan that is located in Bowen Park. You will definately not miss it firstly because it's RED and secondly, you will most definately be able to spot a small crowd of hungry people waiting for the food caravan to open.
We arrived at 5.15pm (they only open at 5.30pm) and there were around ten people already queuing up. By 5.30pm, the numbers increased to fourty. By the time we left (6.15pm), there were still people ordering food. This little red caravan has definately captivated the hearts of many Canberrans!
The little famous red caravan in Bowen Park

We ordered a Brodburger (A grade gourmet beef patty - flame grilled, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, Spanish onions in a bun including homemade aioli and tomato relish), Brodburger Deluxe (2 x A grade gourmet beef patties -flame grilled, eggs, lots of crispy bacon. Topped with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and Spanish onions including homemade aioli and tomato relish) and some Brodchips - these were lovely! As i said before, they were huge and i have to emphasize that the Brodburger Deluxe is not suitable for everyone. On my next visit, i will surely stick to a Brodbaby ($6.50)!

Brodburger with Blue Cheese ($9.00) & Brodchips ($3.50)


Brodburger Deluxe with Brie Cheese ($14.00)

Brodburger definately offers one of the best burgers in Canberra and it's good value for money too. There is always something for everyone ranging from Brodbaby for the youngsters to the Brodburger Deluxe for the super hungry blokes! They also have BrodChicken,  BrodFin (fish) or BrodVeggie if you don't fancy beef.

Brodburger - Flame Grilled Burgers - Food Caravan on Urbanspoon
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