Green Tea Buttermilk Cake

I decided to make a buttermilk cake a few weeks ago (after being in a baking hiatus) as i had almost 3/4 of a carton of buttermilk left in the fridge. This time i decided to wing it just to see what i would get and also because i was too lazy to google for a nice buttermilk cake recipe. I added some green tea powder but unfortunately there wasn't much green tea flavour in the cake - will have to add more next time! The cake is fairly easy to make and to my delight it turned out soft, moist and deliciously rich in buttermilk taste. I can't recall the exact amounts but here are the rough estimates:

Green Tea Buttermilk Cake

-1 1/2 cup of self-raising flour, sifted
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup of buttermilk
- 125g of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tsp of cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup of caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- pinch of salt
- green tea powder, as desired

1. Sift together self-raising flour, cream of tartar, salt and green tea powder together
2. Beat butter and sugar until you reach a creamy consistency, add in vanilla essence and mix.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well
4. Divide buttermilk and flour into three batches and beat into the butter mixture alternately. If the batter is rather dry, add a bit of buttermilk OR if the batter is too runny, add a bit of flour.
5. Pour the batter into a 9" loaf pan and bake in a pre-heated oven (~170 C) for 45 - 60 minutes. if the skewer that is inserted in the centre of the cake and comes out clean, the cake is cooked.


Pineapple Tarts 凤梨酥 Recipe

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!
I love pineapple tarts, especially home made ones! Just to think about that lovely sweet and sour filling wrapped around by a melt-in-your-mouth pastry already makes me drool.
J and I have been wanting to make some pineapple tarts for quite a while and, after x months, we finally made it! Mission accomplished, in a way. Making pineapple tarts are certainly fun but at the same time, tiring and time consuming. Poor J had to cut up the pineapples and make the pineapple filling, which involved 1 - 1.5 hours of non-stop stirring. The sad thing? Two medium pineapples only yielded a minuscule amount of pineapple filling (fine, not that little...but you get the point). Making the dough was certainly less tiring and easier too. The most fun part was actually making the pineapple tart, i think i got a bit carried away and made a little chick (ate it before i could take a snapshot of it)
The finished product was very delicious and fragrant; all the effort put in was certainly worth it!

Pineapple Tarts Recipe (makes around 25)

Pineapple Filling:
- 2 pineapples, finely grated
- 4 tablespoon caster sugar

1. Slice and grate pineapple until fine. (If you have a food processor, use it!)
2. Strain the grated pineapple. (If you have a metal sift, that'd help!)
3. Let the pineapple simmer in a wok until dry
4. Add sugar and stir till the pineapple becomes thick, dry and sticky

Pineapple Tart Dough:
- 350g plain flour
- 1 tablespoon custard powder
- 250g butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 40g icing sugar
- pinch of salt

1. Sift flour, custard powder, salt and icing sugar together
2. Cut butter into cubes and add them to the flour mixture. Using your hands, mix the ingredients until you reach a crumbly consistency.
3. Add in yolk and keep working on the dough until you get a smooth and soft dough (make into a ball)
4. Rest the dough at room temperature for at least 30 minutes

Pineapple Tarts
1. Divide the pineapple filling into roughly 25 portions and roll them into balls
2. Do the same with the pineapple tart dough, each ball should weigh ~22g
3. Flatten the pineapple tart dough until it's enough to wrap the pineapple filling in it
4. Mould it into a rectangular shape and using a fork, draw lines on top of the rolls. Do the same with the rest of the dough and filling.
5. Put the pineapple tarts onto a baking paper-lined tray and brush them with beaten egg yolk. Bake for around 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool before storing them in airtight containers.

All you have to do now is to sit back and enjoy them. Share these lovely goodies with friends and families during this Chinese New Year Season! *putting them in nice containers make great gifts too! ENJOY~


Italian & Sons - Vino e Cucina

This post is long overdue! It was meant to be up sometime in December after we went to the Italian & Sons (7 Lonsdale Street, Braddon (02) 6162 4888) for a Christmas Dinner (for work). We decided to go there after finding out that Italian & Sons was awarded one hat by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2011.
There are two services in one day, one at six o'clock and the other one at eight - we booked the six o' clock one because we couldn't wait until eight to have dinner. Italian & Sons has a fairly small entrance and its name plaque is not in an obvious place, so make sure you look out for the number 7 sign!
We started off by ordering some drinks, a Lemon Lime Bitters for myself, and some Wood-baked Focaccia with rosemary and sea salt to share. The focaccia was nice and soft, very fragrant too. Good way to start the meal.
We had a bit of chat before our entrees started coming. I ordered the Kingfish 'crudo' with pink peppercorns and baby herbs; the thinly sliced kingfish was fresh and nicely drizzled with a light lemon-y dressing. I quite enjoyed this entree, i have to say. Other entrees ordered included the 'Fiore di zucca' ripiene filled with ricotta, thyme & zucchini (stuffed zucchini flower), Pea, mint & buffalo mozzarella 'suppli' risotto balls and Chilli & garlic Yamba prawns & eggplant caponata.
I wasn't particularly impressed with these entrees. The zucchini flower was poorly presented (solely with a lemon wedge) and so was the risotto balls. The risotto balls tasted a bit bland and crumbed very easily. The Yamba prawns dish was probably the best presented out of the three, but it was rather salty.
'Fiore di zucca' ripiene filled with ricotta, thyme & zucchini
Pea, mint & buffalo mozzarella 'suppli' risotto balls
Chilli & garlic Yamba prawns & eggplant caponata.

Moving on to the mains. I've ordered the Orecchiette with suckling pig, broccoletti, chilli and pecorino and also tried a bit of the Spaghetti 'ai fruti di mare', prawn, calamari, tomato and snow pea and the Margherita Pizza. The suckling pig pasta was light and tasty but for the seafood pasta, the spaghetti was a bit tasteless and the seafood components were a bit on the salty side. The margherita pizza was alright, simple and fresh (the base wasn't particularly wow).
Left: Orecchiette with suckling pig, broccoletti, chilli and pecorino Middle: Gnocchi with veal and marjoram ragu Right: Spaghetti 'ai fruti di mare', prawn, calamari, tomato and snow pea
Margherita Pizza
Unlike the entrees and mains, the desserts came out pretty fast. We ordered the Italian classic Tiramisu, Torta Al'Cioccolato (Flourless Amadei chocolate torte with marsala zabaglione and strawberries) and House Made Gelati...i can't recall the flavours clearly but i think they were mango, banana and some liqueur that i can't remember (Cointreau?). I only liked the mango gelato as the banana one was rather sweet. The portion of Tiramisu was quite generous and definitely needs to be shared, taste-wise it was nice (a tad sweet). However, it lacked a bit on the presentation side as it looked as if it was just tossed onto the plate and topped with a sauce.
Left: Tiramisu Middle: Torta Al' Cioccolato Right: House Made Gelato

Not long after we finished the desserts, we were asked to pay the bill and leave. That didn't leave a good impression of the restaurant and some of the girls thought it was rather rude. I understand that they are trying to accomodate for both services, but they could have been a little nicer about it. Overall, the food was average and not sure if it lives up to the one hat it was given. I don't know if the reviewers are more lenient towards 'regional' restaurants because in Sydney, a one-hatted restaurant certainly does a better job than this - especially on the presentation side.

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