26.6.10

No-bake Oreo Cheesecake

I realized that i can go pretty crazy with Oreos. Seriously.
I was doing my grocery shopping at Woolworths (as usual) when i spotted a basket full of Oreos packs near a supermarket pillar. I immediately knew that when you find a product in those baskets, it is either discounted or on special. For my delight, they were down to 99 cents and i did not hesitate to get 10 packs!
Apart from indulging myself with Oreo from that day onwards, i also decided to make a no-bake Oreo cheesecake since i had a block of cream cheese sitting in my fridge. I wanted a higher Oreo cheesecake but i was to lazy to get one more block of cream cheese from the supermarket...oh well.
This recipe is not hard and it doesn't require any sort of baking but my least favorite part was crushing a whole pack of Oreo biscuits with my rolling pin. It was quite tiring...

No-bake Oreo Cheesecake
Ingredients:
- 2 packs of Oreo
- 50g of melted butter
- 250g of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, room temperature
- 45ml milk
- 50g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp of vanilla extract
- 250ml of thickened cream
- 1 tbsp of gelatine powder
- 10ml lemon juice
- 3 tbsp of boiling water

Method

1. With the first pack of Oreo, remove the cream filling and set it aside. Crush all the Oreo biscuits with a rolling pin. Mix biscuit crumbs & melted butter together and press firmly onto the base of cake tin. Chill for 30 minutes. 
2. Beat whipping cream with electric beaters until mousse-like.
3. Double-boil gelatine, lemon juice & boiling water until totally dissolved. Keep warm.
4. Beat cream cheese, icing sugar, milk, Oreo cream filling (from step 1) and vanilla essence until smooth & creamy. Then, blend in the gelatine solution.
5. Add the whipping cream and blend well.
6. Pour 1/2 the cheese mixture onto the base. Chill for 15 minutes.
7. Sprinkle coarsely chopped cookies (8 Oreo biscuits) on top of the first half of cheese mixture.
8. Stir in finely chopped cookies (4 Oreo cookies) into the other 1/2 of the mixture. Mix well.
9. Pour in the second half of the cheese mixture.
10.Chill for 4 hours or overnight before serving.
Decorate as desired. I used some whipping cream and mini-Oreo biscuits to decorate my Oreo cheesecake. Enjoy!

The Oreo Cheesecake turned out quite nice and creamy, and i loved the base (i always like the biscuit cheesecake bases). I used a total of 2 packs of Oreos so there was plenty of Oreo taste all over the cheesecake! =)

23.6.10

Iori Japanese Restaurant


Two thousand and ten is the year that Iori (41 East Row, Canberra City) celebrates its 9th year anniversary. It is located in the heart of Canberra CBD, but due to its non-extravagant outward appearance, you can potentially miss it. However, it is a very popular destination during lunch (or even dinner!) time so it is recommended that you make a booking to avoid disappointment.
I reckon that Iori is one of the best and most authentic Japanese restaurants here in Canberra. It is a rather small restaurant with a humble and traditional Japanese decor. The restaurant has various seating options such as the Sushi Bar,Tatami and ordinary tables and the menu offers a great variety of dishes that leaves you wondering of what to order.
Since my friend had finished all her exams for this semester, we decided to go to Iori to celebrate. I was disappointed by the fact that they no longer had the Chirashi set - which was my favorite. Thus, we ended up ordering a Sashimi Bento and one of the items that was under the Chef's Special Menu (which is limited to 9 serves a day): Dragon All Set GT. There is a different Chef's Specials for Dinner, so just check it out in their website!
Sashimi Bento - a Traditional Japanese Lunch Box containing Sashimi (fresh raw fish) and entrees served with Rice & Miso Soup. The portion has definately gone smaller throughout the years as i clearly remember that some components of this dish had more than just one piece. Back then,however, no entrees were served with it. Overall, the fish was quite fresh except for the tuna.
Dragon All Set GT - Famous Dragon Roll, Teriyaki Chicken, Deep fried Seafood, accompanied with Salad, served with Miso Soup. This set was definately worth it with the amount of food that came with it. The Dragon Roll was nice, especially with that subtle spiciness in the prawn tempura and the teriyaki chicken cutlet was nice and tender. Ohn...almost forgot to mention that the little entrees were quite okay, especially the crab one!
Dragon All Set GT
Teriyaki Chicken
Dragon Roll
The staff was polite and the service was great. We had a nice lunch and we walked out of the restaurant very full and satisfied.

Iori Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

19.6.10

Avocado cake with avocado cream

Avocado cake? Isn't that weird? - you may ask. I think most people here in Australia have the mentality that avocados are to be eaten as a savoury treat. However, where i grew up - Brazil - we consume avocados as a sweet treat such as in avocado ice-cream, avocado milkshake, avocado mousse, etc...In fact, i kinda found it a bit weird when Australians were having avocado as part of their salads, mains and sandwich spreads.
Since coming to Australia, i don't think i've ever made anything sweet with avocados except some avocado milkshake every now and then. With quite a few ripe avocados left in my pantry, i decided to make an avocado cake and some avocado cream to go with the cake. I had no idea of how it was going to turn out because avocados don't really have a strong and distinct flavour *i had my fingers crossed!
I just used the same recipe for making my Mini Banana Chiffon Cake but instead of bananas, i used 100g of mashed avocado. Since i wanted a flatter cake, i used my newly bought 20cm chiffon cake tin instead of the mini chiffon cake tin. I also made some avocado cream by simply beating some mashed avocado with some thickened cream and caster sugar.
As expected, the cake didn't have a strong avocado flavour but it turned out quite soft. Gladly, the avocado cream did enhance the overall taste of the cake. I ate it as my afternoon snack with a cup of green tea =)

15.6.10

Pork & Chives Chinese Dumplings

It was a particularly cold day here in Canberra and i decided to make Chinese dumplings for dinner. They are one of the best comfort foods that you can have during winter, not to mention that i love the dumpling 'skin'. They are fun to make, cute to look at, packed with flavours and has that lovely hot meaty juice (that sometimes burns your tongue)!
I wanted to make Pork & Chives dumplings, so I went to Dickson to get some ready-made dumpling skin, chives and lean minced pork. I think that the fun part of the whole process it's the wrapping step; i like filling the skin with as much meat filling as possible (which can sometimes end up in a failed dumpling) and then slowly moulding it to resemble a Chinese dumpling. I was pretty happy with my dumplings and i made them in a way that was easy for pan frying  (like 锅贴) and for boiling.
Chinese Dumplings after the wrapping process ^^
The boiled dumplings turned out quite nice with an 'al dente' skin and a meaty juice flowing out as soon as you take a bite. The pan-fried ones also had that lovely juice plus a crispy bottom. In terms of appearance, I don't think my pan-fried ones turned out quite as pretty as the boiled ones though.
Pan-fried Pork & Chives Dumpings
Boiled Pork & Chives Dumplings

So tell me, what kind of Chinese dumpling fillings that you fancy?

11.6.10

Watersedge - Canberra

Yey to the 100th post! Thanks to all of you who have been reading my blog and for leaving all the encouraging comments! I really appreciate it and yes, i do read ALL of them =)
***
I have recently dined at the Watersedge (Commonwealth Place, 40 Parkes Place) and was delighted by the fact that now, i have tried all the sister restaurants of Courgette: Watersedge and Sabayon. Watersedge is a relatively small restaurant which boasts full-sized glass windows overlooking the scenic views of Lake Burley Griffin. The view at night is beautiful and it certainly made the overall dinner experience quite pleasant. Watersedge has recently been awarded one hat by the 2010 SMH Good Food Guide and it offers a Modern Australian menu.
The staff was polite and the service was efficient. Before our entrees arrived, we were served some amuse-bouche which was duck on a circular toasted bread served with apple chutney.
For entrees, we ordered:
Scallops boudin and scallop ceviche, fennel and squid salad with anise dressing: i was slightly disappointed with this entree because the amount of scallops were minimal. The scallop boudin had the texture of an Asian steamed egg and it didn't really enchance the dish overall. On the other hand, i quite liked the squid and fennel salad.  
Pan fried Salmon fillet cold smoked, pencils leek, baby fennel, steamed Kipfler potato, fish emulsion: this dish was quite similar to the one we had at Sabayon (main). The salmon was beautifully cooked and the skin was very crispy. The roe was quite scattered which made it hard to savour them with the rest of the dish.

Next up, were the mains.
Char grilled grange beef fillet, blue cheese gnocchi, confit garlic, porcini butter, watercress puree, red wine jus: The beef fillet was cooked to medium-rare and it was nicely pink and tender (just a tiny bit burnt on one side of the fillet though). i could definately taste the blue cheese in the gnocchi and gladly it wasn't overpowering.

Duck trio: Duck breast, pressed leg confit, foie gras with toasted brioche served with braised lentils, globe artichoke and kumquat marmalade: the duck breast was lovely (even by itself) and i also liked the pressed leg confit. I wasn't particularly fond of the foie gras in this dish though.
Duck Breast
Top: Foie Gras with toasted brioche Bottom: Pressed Leg Confit with globe artichoke

We were served a cardamon and tropical fruits sorbet before the arrival of our desserts:

Custard apple and coconut semi freddo, fresh strawberry and mint salad, glass biscuit, coconut and berry sorbets: I was truly amazed at the size of this dessert! It was quite big and with so many elements here and there, i really didn't know where to start. I started with the semi freddo in the middle and it was quite solid and cold. It tasted nice with pieces of fresh coconut and some nuts (maybe pistachios?). Loved the berry sorbet but wasn't too fond on the coconut one and the glass biscuits were nice and crisp!

Mandarin and White Chocolate mousse millefeuille, Mandarin caviar, Mandarin and Black pepper sorbet
I really liked this combination. The mandarin sorbet was good and refreshing but i couldn't really taste the black pepper in it. There weren't many layers to this millefeuille but the white chocolate made a good combo with the mandarin. Sadly, the mandarin still had seeds in them.
Overall we had a lovely dinner at Watersedge and the beautiful scenic views just added to the dinner experience.
Waters Edge Restaurant on Urbanspoon

8.6.10

Cupp'd - Cupcakes and Dreams

The first time that i learnt about Cupp'd - Cupcakes and Dreams was when a friend of mine became a fan of it on Facebook. As a person who likes cupcakes, i decided to see what was Cupp'd Cupcakes all about. To my delight, Cupp'd is based in Canberra and offers cupcakes that are made-to-order. I immediately e-mailed Malanda letting her know that I was interested in trying out her cupcakes. She was so kind to make me some chococate and vanilla cupcakes and i picked them up right after work. It's my fault that the cupcakes don't look as nice (the icing melted a tad bit) because i ended up spending more time than i expected shopping. It's the end-of-financial-year-sales time! *hehehe
Cupcakes with smarties and cachous: chocolate cupcakes
Cupcake with cachous: vanilla cupcakes

The good thing about Cupp'd Cupcakes is that they don't have that commercial taste that you'll find in a lot of the mass-produced cupcakes. I simply adored the vanilla ones, they were moist and soft *thumbs up. The chocolate cupcakes were nice (a bit less moist than the vanilla ones) but i think they needed a bit more of chocolate in the base since they didn't have a chocolate icing. Overall, nice and lovely cupcakes and i might even order a batch of 'Cookies & Cream' sometime soon!


For more information and details on cupcake flavours, visit Cupp'd facebook page. If you would like to order some Cupp'd Cupcakes contact Malanda on malanda@cuppd.com

5.6.10

Charlie's Salathai Restaurant

I haven't been to Charlie's Salathai Restaurant (Shop 5 Reed Street, Greenway) ever since they've moved to this new location. The restaurant now has burgundy-painted walls with a few statues of elephants and a few pots of plants (fake ones, i believe?!). This little restaurant has previously won many awards - as you will most definately see as you walk in the restaurant -  for being the best Thai restaurant in the ACT region. I was there for lunch and we ordered a Gang Mussamun (Tender Beef Chunks in Mussanum Curry with potatoes) and a Pad Tao Hoo Bi Gaprao (Stir Fried Tofu, Garlic, Chilli, Basil & Vegetables) accompanied by steamed white rice. Overall the food and the service was pleasant but the size of the dishes were rather small and expensive. I was a bit impressed with the fact that they only had one waitress taking orders and bringing out the dishes to the tables.
Steamed Rice served in a pretty bowl
Gang Mussamun was nice with soft and tender beef cubes, the only downside was that it did not contain much beef.

The veggies were alright, nothing wow...don't get me wrong, i love veggies but i think i usually order them out of habit. It's one of those habits that you unconsciously develop  when you eat out with your parents since you were a child. "Remember kids, we have to always eat veggies in every single meal" - my mum would say.

Charlie's Sala Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon
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