Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cooking: Sponge Layer Cake

Made this with my bestie for my other bestie's birthday. Had lots of fun making it, although many mistakes were made it still turned out half decent.
Recipe from Masterchef Magazine (the one with the Macaron tower on it).
Things I learnt: Don't fridge the ganache. Pay more attention when slicing cake so the layers are even(not my fault Masterchef grand finale was on). Get a palatte knife to spread not a spatula.
I think I should bake more cakes as my cake baking skills are pretty fail.


I don't think I've ever done a post on masterchef all year.
It's one of the shows I follow religiously and I have ALMOST watched every ep this season except for the 3rd last ep as I had tutoring and haven't had time to watch it online yet, but rest assure I will. I also half watched Friday's masterclass so I shall watch that too.
Yes, I know I'm in year 12 and shouldn't watch an hour (or more) of TV 6 days a week but I can't help myself, I guess it's where I secretly/not so secretly want to be. Luckily now that it's over I can get my head back in the books and start studying again as I've only been studying an hour or so a day due to tutoring and masterchef.

Anyone else love masterchef as much as I do? And wish that they were on it? Lots of people have told me to go apply for it but I don't think I will. First of all I won't make it cos my cooking is pretty fail. Secondly my food knowledge isn't very deep and broad, unlike Adam, I've never even heard of Romensco (or whatever the sauce was) before, but then again neither did Callum...Thirdly even IFFFFF (meaning practically impossible) I do make it to auditions and what not, filming starts November this year...exactly when VCE EXAMS are...maybe I'll try out next year. I would love to spend 8 months cooking and living in that awesome house......I'm dreaming again.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Camera except it ain't mine

My dad bought a new camera, Canon 550D, he's been raving about it for months. Now he finally has his own.
Still learning all the buttons and functions and all that. Can't really say anything bad about the camera. However Dad bought a lens that isn't designed for my type of photography except for maybe sunsets. The closest distance it can shoot is 20cm or so, meaning it it extremely difficult to take pictures of FOOD and FLOWERS, my two favourite subjects to capture. Hopefully Dad will get a macro lens =] Also my laptop can't read the HD SD card cos it's probably too old. Turns out the only things that can read it in the house is the plamsa TV and the netbook, the two extremes of screen size. So hopefully I'll have some better looking pictures soon. Have a look at my flickr account for a few photos I've taken with it.

Also since Dad, my bro and I constantly fight over who's turn it is to play with the camera, I really want to get my own DSLR, hopefully I can win one.....I'm dreaming.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cooking: Omelette

Haven't done a food post in a while and after this one it might be a while before I do another one as study is getting quite hectic at the moment.

Woke up today intending to do homework but ended up cooking an omelette for breakky instead of opting for dad's porridge.
Ingredients: An egg. Shredded ham/salami/whatever filling you would like. Grated cheese.

Method: Note: This is an asian omelette made a bit like a pancake.
Separate egg. Whist eggwhites to soft-stiff peaks(this makes the omelette fluffier). Add in egg yolk. Add in filling and cheese. Give it a quick whisk. Pour into pan as if making a pancake. Fry until golden then flip like pancake. Fry until other side is golden. Serve. I served with some mayo and a block of Laughing Cow cheese.

Made dinner on Friday but it was a bit of a disaster so I don't think I'll blog about it. Also made macarons on Saturday but that was a disaster as well. Macaron madness in our household at the moment.

I am quite excited as Dad bought a DSLR (Canon 550D)  =) Waiting for it to come now.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Age Food Photo Comp

On Thursday I spotted this little ad box thingo in the corner of the green guide where it said photo comp for food photos!!! I was like 0.0 The Age is doing this?!!! My motivation, the $2000 worth of photography equipment, because at the moment, a 5mp point and shoot with a tiny blurry screen is quite annoying when taking lots of photos. As much as I love the manual focus on my ancient camera, the screen is so small and blurry I can't actually tell if what I'm trying to take is focused or not.

So why would I be telling people about this competition if I want to win it? (Although I know I won't but you have to have a tiny bit of hope right?) I can't enter it as I'm not 18 =( I went online to look at terms and conditions and it said must be 18 years of age. Damn, just one more month!!!!!!!!!! Oh well, so all food bloggers/photographers out there, go enter since it's free and you can have unlimited entries I believe. Entries close next Friday (23rd of July) http://www.promotions.theage.com.au/

Sunday, July 11, 2010


This morning mum decided to try and make macarons. Unfortunately I still had a bit of holiday homework to complete so I couldn't help out. By the time I had finished mum was about to pipe the shells so I helped her pipe them.
The mixture was grainy for some reason. And piping is very messy and it's tricky to keep them the same size which is important otherwise the macarons look funny when squished together.

After they came out of the oven. Looking half decent. Except didn't bake them for long enough.
Piped them with the left over durian curd from mum's birthday cake.

Chocolate macarons with durian filling.

Super super super sweet

Back to school tomorrow =(

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cooking: Tonkatsu again :)

Asked Mum what she was making for dinner and when she said 西汁猪扒 (dunno why "west" comes up as a T)(pork chops in western sauce) I asked whether I could make tonkatsu (吉列猪扒)instead. Not that there is anything wrong with Pork Chops in Western Sauce but after 15 years of it, it's good to have some variation sometimes.

A whole lot of tonkatsu. Bro managed to polish it off. Every time I make tonkatsu I have two problems, one being it gets soggy after a little while and the second is the coating doesn't stick to the pork. I think I have solved problem one by using panko breadcrumbs and doing this
After watching a few youtube vids of pro's doing it I have learnt that u have to drain them like this, not flat on its back. Even fish and chip shops do this. Used a steaming rack. Ingenious =P

Still have to work on getting the crumb to stick onto the pork. Help please?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Eating Out: Don Don 321 Swanston St

Wanted to come here since reading about how cheap and quick their food is, however every time I go to the city I can't seem to find it. Therefore I decided to google map it and it turns out that little bit is not on good maps cos it's Swanston walk? However I did find it on flickr and when I walked by today I realised why I never noticed it. It is like a black hole in the wall.

So we had about 30 mins to find some lunch before our movie started. Went there and got lunch in about 1 min? It was insane, like life was in fast forward. We decided to get takeaway as there was no way all 4 of us were going to fit inside that tiny place. So we crossed the road and sat on the lawn of the state library under the full afternoon sun. Chatting whilst eating our lunch from takeaway boxes.
Curry Chicken Don $6 or 7 
(it was so rushed I don't remember)
I know it doesn't look too flash. But trust me it tastes better than it looks. The curry sauce is sweet and mild but there is definitely curry flavour. The chicken pieces are large, boneless and tender. Brocolli was crunchy and not mushy, gotta eat your vegies. The radioactive red stuff is pickled vegetable of some sort, crunchy, sour, really good contrast to the curry. 

Friends had Sashi Don which was a let down. One friend didn't realise it involved raw fish (which she doesn't eat) and therefore I ate it for her, and boy was that weird sashimi. Looked fine but tasted like nothing. No salmon flavour whatsoever, texture was about right though. For $8.50 is seemed like a bargain but I'm not too sure. Maybe we went on a bad day. 
Another friend had the udon noodle soup. which looked pretty good. Only downside was it is quite hard to eat noodle soup from a takeaway container in your hand.

Food: 7/10 You get what you pay for.
Environment: 6/10 Extremely cramped. 
Service: 8/10 Quick and to the point. You order, collect change and your meal will already be there on the counter for you, even maccas can't beat that. 

Verdict? Sure I'd come here again, might avoid the sashi don though. Best place for REAL fast food.
Don Don Australia on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Just my two cents on Food Blogging

There's no doubt that food blogging has taken the world by storm. Some love the idea some loath the idea as was presented in the article from The Age today.

I think it all starts here. I believe that there are two main reasons for why we eat, number one being to feel full and for nutrition and number two being for pleasure and exploration. Obviously food bloggers are more interested in the second reason. Think about what humans ate a couple of hundred years ago. It was simple, flavourless, in short they ate for reason one. However humans have an inquisitive mind, always seeking out something better, more exciting (hence why evolution occurs). And this is how reason two came about. And in my eyes food blogging is a form of evolution, it's the next step in reason two, we're pushing the boundaries because thats how evolution and advancement works.

So how does food blogging extend reason two? Food bloggers have a passion for food and they want to share it. By doing so it allows others to discover what is out there in the food world.

Let me break this down, there are two types of food bloggers out there, the ones who cook and the ones who eat.
The ones who cook contribute to reason two by exploring flavours, new dishes, challenging concepts, sharing passion, sharing recipes and give inspiration to others.
The ones who eat (reviewers) contribute to reason two by helping the best restaurants boost customers and possibly contribute to the downfall of some not so good restaurants. This may sound pretty harsh but that is the way of life, only the best survive and deserve to survive. This way things will only get better and the human race will advance (in terms of food that is).

On the topic of restaurants where they dislike customers taking photos of food, I think it is understandable but somewhat silly. As long as flash is not used I don't really see a problem. If their food is not of good standard then it is their problem, not the customers. If they don't want other chefs taking their ideas for dishes then don't serve them because the second you serve it you're releasing it into the public. If they don't want to have a bad review then they should serve better food, a review doesn't have to have pictures, it's what is written which makes the difference. So if you have good food to serve, welcome food bloggers with open arms because they may just do you some good, be thankful.

Which brings me to this. My rules for taking photos of food at restaurants.

  • NO FLASH, not only disrespectful but your pictures turn out looking horrible.
  • Be quick unless dining alone, others want to eat their meal.
  • NO altering the food, take it like how they serve it to you, if it looks like a mess then it looks like a mess, their problem, just hope that it tastes good. I personally dislike people who "do" up the food served to them at a restaurant. 
In saying this I would like to highlight that I do not believe my photos are amazing or any good. There are many food photographers out there who take mouthwatering pictures, unfortunately that is not me, but maybe just maybe I'll get there in the future.
A photo is worth a thousand words

P.S This is just my PERSONAL opinion, everyone is untitled to their opinion and I will respect that. 
So if a restaurant doesn't want me to take a picture of their food, I won't but that won't stop me from writing about the place.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cooking: Nasi Lemak

I will confess I never order this dish when I'm out. Seriously never, except for when I went to Nasi Lemak House. So Poh introduced it/made it on her show on Wednesday and I remembered we had a packet of Beef Rendang paste in the pantry so today I made Nasi Lemak. Supposedly the national dish of Malaysia, and supposedly it's eaten for breakfast. Malaysians are truly amazing, I have no idea how I could eat sambal for breakfast.
There are a few elements to Nasi Lemak. Coconut rice (hence the name), ikan billis (dried anchovies), peanuts, sambal, I added egg, cucumber and beef rendang, not sure whether any of those are "traditional".

Mum made the eggs, coconut rice and the ikan billis with peanuts (using Tony Tan's recipe in the Gourmet Traveller from yonks ago).
I made the rendang (from a packet mix) and sambal. I officially respect all those who make sambal regularly, all those chopped onions and red chillies seriously just make you cry and your nose go funny. But all the tears are so worth it, end result is a delicious chilli fragrant kick.

Super yummy dinner, not to mention fattening as well.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cooking: Eggtarts

This has been about 6 months in the planning? Every time something happens and we postpone.

This is not the puff flaky pastry type egg tart, it is the shortcrust pastry type (which I like better)
Ingredients (makes 12 supposedly, really depends on tart mould)
  • Butter - 115g
  • Fine sugar - 40g
  • Egg yolk - x1
  • Evaporated milk (花奶) - 23g
  • Flour - 180g
  • Vanilla essence - 3 drops
  • Warm water - 225g
  • Eggs - x3
  • Evaporated milk - 60g
  • Sugar - 75g
  • Vanilla essence - 4 drops
  1. Mix butter and sugar, then mix in egg yolk. Beat until smooth.
  2. Add milk and vanilla essence, then sift flour, work dough.
  3. Chill dough in fridge for 20 minutes.
  4. Split dough into 12 balls, and flatten each into mould (make it at least 4mm thick, and make the inner edge fairly sharp so that there is more space for the filling, as well as not wasting any dough).
  5. Pierce 3 holes at the bottom of each base, then chill them for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven at 200 
  7. Melt sugar with warm water, then cool to room temperature (CRUCIAL STEP!).
  8. Strain eggs through a sieve, and whisk into sugar solution.
  9. Stir in milk and vanilla.
  10. Strain final mixture through a sieve, and use it to fill up the tart bases.
  11. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
As we didn't have enough eggtart moulds we used a muffin tray and various other moulds we found.

Once you eat one you want to eat another and another and another....

Eating IN: Laksa King

After coming home from lunch at Straits my brother came home with takeaway laksa from LAKSA KING. I've been wanting to visit since hearing about it and my bro went with his friends a few months back and rubbed it in my face.
Even the takeaway is presented so neatly. The taste was outstanding, even for a takeaway which had been reheated it was very very good. The broth was full of spices which was balanced out with the coconut. Now I really want to visit Laksa King and actually have a bowl of laksa dine in.

Please may that day come sooner!

Eating Out: Straits Cafe 694 Doncaster Rd Doncaster 3108

Went to Straits cafe for lunch. This place is great as you get to watch the chefs make your meal in the awesome woks.
Hainanese Chicken Rice $10.90 (I think it was $10.90)
I must say a lot better than any chicken rice I've had recently. Msg soup was very yummy...I wonder why. The rice wasn't as chickeny as it could be but rice is good as it is. However the chicken was sooooooo smooth and tender and ohhhh soooo delicious. And it was deboned and portion size was very generous. Thinking about it is making me salivate. The soy sauce was really addictive for some reason, may have something to do with msg and oil. The chilli sauce wasn't chilli unfortunately but did provide a garlicky, sweet and sour hit. 
Assam Laksa $9.90
I've had a bad experience with assam laksa, I feel it is an acquired taste and I can't say I dislike or like it. Feelings are neutral. This assam laksa looked very different to the one I had at Petaling Street last year. Looked a bit sloppy and no exactly the most appealing bowl of noodles in the world. But K仔 slurped it up pretty quickly, whether it was cos it was really yummy or cos he's been craving it for ages or cos he was sooo hungry I'm not sure. 

Food: 8/10 Good honest food, freshly cooked, generous portions. 
Environment: 6/10 The place is cramped, and a tad shabby. 
Service: 8/10 Quick service, leaves you alone to enjoy your meal. 

Verdict? I would come back here again, over and over although they only have a double sided menu. Supposedly they Sar Hor Fun is amazing, must order that next time I'm here which hopefully will be soon.

Straits Cafe on Urbanspoon

Eating Out: Taste East 224 Whitehorse Road Balwyn 3103

Mum decided between here and Yuki's in Malvern for her birthday dinner. Chose this place as it was a lot closer.
You walk in and you know you're in a higher class chinese restaurant. Except for the chinese handwritten sign at the front that says hiring a dishwasher...I should apply =) Anyways it is a relatively small restaurant, one waiter and one waitress. Took a while to receive a menu but excusable. One thing I found annoying was how loud the coffee machine was, using it to fill up teapots constantly really starts to get to you throughout the night.

佛跳墙 Buddha jumps wall (literal translation) $30 per bowl
This is the reason why mum wanted to come here. And I must say it didn't live up to the amazingly high expectations I had. When I heard it was $30 a bowl I thought it must be super super perfect. It wasn't bad but there a lot of things that can be improved on so that the customer feels like the $30 was worth it. Lets start with abalone, flavourless and not chewy enough. If you gave me that in a blind tasting, I wouldn't have guessed abalone. Shark fin was quite large but too crunchy, needed to be cooked a bit more. Sea cucumber was average, it doesn't have much flavour normally. The many special black chicken (like the chicken skin is naturally black) pieces were good however had so many bones I really couldn't be bothered with it. There was a piece of white calamari looking thing that mum ate, not sure what it was. The pork was so stringy I'm not sure whether they should have served it as all the flavour went into the soup. Now comes the actual soup part, not intense enough in my opinion. Soups like this usually have a very rich flavour but I guess it was good that it wasn't too rich. To be honest, for $30 it's just not worth it.
Garlic and black pepper duck $23.80
Dish of the night. It smelt really garlicky and fragrant. The skin was oohhhh sooo crispy!!!! like peking duck skin. A good layer of fat under the skin added that oily goodness =P The duck had massive chunks of meat and little bone so it was really nice. Juicy and gamey and drool worthy. And this was actually quite worth the money unlike that soup. 
Stir Fried Vegetable with Bamboo Pith $20
A very good dish, maybe not outstanding but very good except for the price. The serving size was amazingly small, although good ingredients were used. The sauce was quite intense and coated each vegetable nicely. Bamboo pith has a really cool texture, crunchy but soft and squelchy? 
Stir Fried Garlic Beef $25.80
Quite a good dish. Decent serving size. Good flavours, lots of garlic although it was borderline raw. 3 minor issues with this dish. 1. the beef has been tenderised and as a result had a funny texture. 2. it was way too oily, had a pool of oil on the bottom of the dish. 3. $25.80 is a little too pricey for a plate of beef.

Food: 8/10 One of the better cantonese restaurants. One thing I really liked was how everything was seasoned just right, many chinese restaurants put way too much salt into their dishes, here it is just right, almost slightly underseasoned. The way I like it
Environment: 8/10 Good atmosphere. There daily specials menu board is sooooooooo coool. Only bad point was the noisy coffee machine.
Service: 7/10 The main waiter was very good and experienced. The waitress did not speak much and was a tad clumsy when cleaning up other table's dishes. Scared she was going to smash something. 

Verdict? It is definitely the higher class of chinese dining. Good quality food. Only concern is the price, I can't really say it is worth it but you do get some very good food.

Taste East on Urbanspoon