Sunday, August 29, 2010

Eating Out: Kambo Chinese Restaurant, Cnr Canterbury Rd, 1 Mahoneys Rd, Forest Hill

Booked a table for 8pm at around 6pm on Friday night. Chose this place because of their special "If your birthday is in August, get a free oyster for you and your friends/family". And hoped that we could get 2 oysters each for free since both my dad and I are born in August but its only one birthday person per table.

Ordered the "live fish" set. You can't choose the dishes, they are already set. Can't exactly remember the names of dishes so I will describe them instead.
Complimentary Soup
This came literally straight after we ordered. The lady scooped it in around 10-20 seconds before attending other tables. Typical complimentary soup. I believe it was dried vegetable/cai, carrot and pork soup. And probably some added flavour enhancer/msg.
XO Oysters
Yes only 4 were free. That's how they make money from this offer. Most people don't just get one oyster each, they want at least 2 and therefore buy more for $2.50 each 0.0 Initially ordered 4 XO chilli ones and 4 spring onion and ginger ones but when they came it was 8 XO Chilli ones with spring onion on top. Not sure what went wrong but we didn't bother asking, they looked so yummy. The oysters were massive, though not strongly flavoured the XO sauce really helped. Though I feel a better quality XO sauce would have been better. The oysters were just undercooked which is fine because it retained its creamy squishy part. And the second all the oysters were taken and eaten from the plate, a waiter had come along and collected the empty dish. It was amazing. 
Lemon Grass Pork Chops?
Like most Cantonese cuisine you find in restaurants now, the pork had been deep fried before being put into a sauce, but no batter. The sauce lacked lemongrass flavour and had lots of honey in it. Don't think I've ever tried a dish like this before. Also they could have used cleaner oil as there were little specks of the stuff that sinks into the oil all over the pork. I guess we went later in the night and they've been frying all day long so the oil couldn't have been cleaned. 

Stir Fried Garlic Baby Spinach
Didn't expect this much spinach. It was really packed onto the plate. It was a little too oily that ever leaf was shiny. The garlic could have been a little stronger, otherwise it was a fine dish. Can't really go wrong with asian vegies.
Scallops on Tofu
Not a fan of tofu, especially when its super big to minimise the amount of scallops required. The tofu was bland and you had to cut it down the middle and pour the sauce into it. The scallops were typical chinese restaurant ones...if you get what I mean. Something out of a packet possibly. Still had some scallop taste to it.
Steamed Live Barramundi 
I love fish, especially when it's steamed asian style. The flesh was soft and just cooked. Good flavour and was really delicate. Sooooo delicious yet simple. 
Fruit platter
Seriously it's very hard to make fruit platter look good. Straight of the fridge to you fruit platter. Wafer thin slices of watermelon and orange. Both sweet. 
Sweet soup-mung bean?
Not a fan of warm sweet soups, I like cold ones. This wasn't too bad, typical honkie style.

Food: 7/10 Nothing spectacular, everything was average and expected. 
Service: 8/10 Quite impressed. Don't expect to chat to your waiter. This place is to the point, and done asap.  Tea pots are refilled before you know it. Dishes come quickly and go just as fast. Amazed at how quick everything was done with only 4 waiters for the entire restaurant. 
Environment: 7/10 Once again, a typical chinese restaurant. Don't expect sparkling dishes. Or quite surroundings. 

Verdict? If I was in a hurry or if it was late at night I would come since they have a different menu past a certain time of night. However only if I was in the neighbourhood. There are other places closer to home with similar food. Sat down at 8pm, finished dinner just after 9. Impressive.

Friday, August 27, 2010

New Camera

For my birthday Dad very kindly got me this new camera. It's the Panasonic FH1. He asked me what colour I wanted and after looking at the list of colours they came in I chose orange and he was not particularly happy. He kept asking me whether I was sure and I really wanted a camera that was different.
Taken with old camera (focus problems with 2nd pic which I couldn't see due to tiny screen)

So far it has been pretty good. The screen is way bigger and better than the old camera. There are tonnes of modes. Can't change any of the settings I don't think (except for ISO) Macro is pretty good. And it takes alright pictures in low light conditions as seen in the japanese restaurant post. Quite easy to use and many times lighter and thinner than old camera. Oh and there's a food mode =]

This is the old camera. 5mp compared to 12mp now. Photo quality is a little worse than new camera but not very differentiable until low light conditions. My favourite function on the old camera is the manual focus, so fun to play with. However you can see the old camera is a BRICK. Not pocket friendly.
Do you get what I mean by the screen is tiny? Can't tell whether the picture is good or not using that screen. Oh and it has a viewfinder which dad loves.

Eating Out: Vietnamese Pork Roll Joe's Bakery, Devon Plaza, East Doncaster

Did you know that you can get Viet Rolls in East Doncaster??!! I discovered this about 4-5 years ago. I know the viet rolls from Footscray, Springvale and Richmond reign supreme but I happen to live at least 40 mins drive away from each of these suburbs. And this bakery is along the way home from school so it's super convenient. 

Vietnamese Pork Roll $4
Can you guess where I took this pic? One of the best lighted spots to take pictures, the dashboard of the car =] Couldn't wait to go home to take a pic and then eat so I took a pic in the car (and made a mess) whilst waiting for mum at the pharmacy and then ate it on the way home. Viet rolls should not be eaten in the car. The crusty roll crumbs go everywhere and if you encounter one of those super chilli chillies you are doomed (that has happened to me before and I looked like I was crying with a retarded tongue the entire way home). 

The rolls was super crusty and fluffy. The pate was generous and had a very strong liver taste. The  three meats were thick cut. The spring onion was diced (i find the ones with the entire length of spring onion in there impossible to bite through and you end up having to eat the entire thing in one mouthful, not pleasant). The pickled carrots and daikon were still crunchy and not too sour. Lots of coriander. Asked for a bit of chilli. Altogether it was pretty delicious and satisfying. Few improvements could be the addition of the mayo (but hygiene/health issues), to go a little easier on the soya sauce so it doesn't drip through the bag when you eat it and to add the deathly red edged meat you usually find because I love that stuff =P 

Food: 7.5/10 Satifisfying but not as good as the one's from the vietnamese suburbs. The fresh bread is awesome since it's a bakery. 
Service: 8.5/10 Smiles when you are served. Oh did I mention the person who makes these viet rolls isn't asian? It is made by a very nice caucasian lady. I'm pretty sure she just constructs the rolls, all the prep is probably done by the asian owners. 

Verdict? This place never fails to deliver. Very consistent and they have a wide variety of other pastries and slices. I will keep coming back to this place every time I want a roll. For only $4, I'm not going to complain, it's about the same as springvale/richmond/footscray. They only make the rolls during lunch hours. 

Photos taken with my new camera that I got for my birthday from Dad. 
Quite pleased with the quality.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eating Out: Yuki Japanese Restaurant 1901-1903 Malvern Road, Malvern East 3145

It was my 18th birthday a couple of days ago and I wanted to eat Japanese because it's my favourite cuisine. I believe that it is the best cuisine not just because of taste but for skill, refinement, respect for food and culture. But I better not start an argument here, everyone is entitled to their opinions. Friend went here and kept raving about their takoyaki (he loves his takoyaki) except when I asked him about the food here he couldn't remember anything about it (not a good sign). This place has been placing ads in the chinese newspaper for quite some time and they have a birthday special. If you go on the day of your birthday and you have more than 4 adults then the birthday person gets to eat for half price, and if you have more than 6 adults then the birthday person eats for free. Enticing yeah? And if you book 24 hours in advance, you get free oysters (max 6 per person, you have to tell them how many you want) I think I forgot the phrase, "some things are too good to be true", now you know where this is going.

So you can come in and order a la carte or go for the buffet for $27.50 for week nights or $30 for weekends I believe. 

When I first walked in it felt like a cosy motel/lodge feel. Got given a menu and you can pretty much order anything from the menu except for specific sushi rolls...
*warning-half the menu will be described during this post

Tempura Prawns (6)
Relatively large, well battered and crunchy prawns. Not too oily. However prawn quality was a little disappointing. Also the prawn didn't really fit into the dipping sauce bowl (but that can't be helped). Good start to the meal. However the tempura prawns at Surf and Turf were a lot better but that was 2 years ago
I love seafood, raw oysters especially. This tray contains 30 oysters for the 5 of us. Very fresh and creamy. No complaints, just a big smile on my face.
Ohhhhhh, I didn't realise how much I missed unagi until I took a bite. The unique taste with the fatty skin and sweet sauce is sooooo delicious. However I do believe this comes in a vacuum sealed package and requires little effort except heating up to make. Craving Unagidon now, must get it whenever I get a chance to.
Seaweed Salad
I also believe that this comes pre made and highly doubt it was made in house as it was so green that the sesame seeds turned green. Very crunchy and refreshing, it was gone in no time.
Takoyaki (6)
On first impressions I was a little disappointed, there appeared to be very little takoyaki sauce and no bonito flakes. However after biting into them I was pleasantly surprised, a fluffy ping pong sized ball with more than one octopus piece in it =] My friend was right. Later on we ordered another plate and it was even better than before. Crispy outside, piping hot on the inside and there were tonnes of octupus pieces inside. Best takoyaki I've had in Melbourne, or possibly ever.
Gyoza (6)
Most interesting looking gyoza's I've ever seen, not the usual gyoza or dumpling shape. It was obviously steamed then deep fried or perhaps just deep fried and on the verge of being burnt. The wrapper was very crunchy and the filling was very average.

Wrapped Prawns? (6)
This was a chef special that was not on the menu. Prawns wrapped in spring roll pastry and drizzled with an interesting sauce. Nothing special about it although I felt like it belonged at Yum Cha not at a japanese restaurant, but I could be wrong.
Mussels in Cream Sauce
This isn't on the menu either and is another chef special, however it is on the take away menu. The take away menu seems to offer more than the dine in menu, which is pretty weird. The mussels were medicore but the sauce was quite nice. Creamy onion sauce that had something else but I couldn't figure out what is was, could eat a tonne of these. Maybe it's because I love mussels. Ordered it again later and it wasn't as good as before. The sauce became liquidy...
Sashimi and Sushi Combo platter with Soft Shell Crab handroll.
This was one of the first things we ordered and it took about an hour to come out. Contained salmon sashimi which was alright, not top notch but decent. Only one piece of kingfish (I believe it was kingfish) came with the platter and existed as a nigiri. How do you share one piece of kingfish with 5 people?? The soft shell crab roll was quite good. The batter still crunchy, you could taste the crab. However it fell apart very easily as there was not much rice to hold it together.
Agedashi Tofu (6)
someone ate some already
Since the tofu piece were so small and the sauce almost covered it there was very little if any crunchy parts. However overall it was very good, no complaints.
Seafood Okonomiyaki
 Very battered filled okonomiyaki. Found only traceable amounts of cabbage. Seafood was frozen marinara mix. All together it wasn't too bad, didn't come cut up though so it was a tad hard to eat. It was a pretty good chewy pancake.
According to the menu this should contain salmon and kingfish, however the latter was not present. The salmon was good, crunchy and no sinewy bits. However it looked like the sashimi chef was getting a tad lazy or maybe it was intentional that some slices where very thin and some very thick. Not that it mattered, still sashimi.

Miso Soup
Most disappointing dish of the night. Yes that is how much soup we were given. It was cold and extremely salty. I'm pretty sure it would have been fine if we ordered this earlier in the night when they were actually making it, not at the end of the night when they were just about to close.
Black Sesame Ice Cream
I didn't try this one as I ordered the green tea one. Aunty could only taste vanilla, black sesame pretty much didn't exist except in sight. 
Green Tea Ice Cream
Little scoop of ice cream. Also experienced pure vanilla flavour from green ice cream. The waitress said that the chef personally makes the ice cream....*cough cough* does it require a chef to go down to safeway to buy a tub of ice cream to mix with matcha powder? At least don't be stingy with the green tea powder because you're wasting it since you can't even taste it. 

Food: 6/10 Although there was nothing bad about the food, the quality of ingredients was just disappointing. Also the money saving shortcuts taken made a definite impact. Japanese food should be better because it's all about fresh good quality ingredients and no shortcuts. 
Service: 5/10 A waiter and a waitress did all the work. However the waiter was new and literally had no idea how to many things. He didn't put our order through many times. He didn't know what some of the things on the menu were. At least train him before he starts work, or get him to learn the menu. The waitress was definitely more experienced and quite good at bs-ing her way through stuff. She was very friendly but when she got to excuses, she went round in circles. Asked whether I could have another bowl of ice cream and her answer was "sorry no, we only make enough of each for the night" I'm pretty damn sure you don't make the ice cream everyday and you don't know how many people come in every night AND you can't know how much of each flavour you will need each night because you're giving people a choice. Even the "but she's the birthday girl" trick didn't work. Sorry, tried to refrain from complaining throughout post. 
Environment: 7/10 Very shabby. Seats sank in amazingly. Disposable chopsticks. Flickering light was beyond annoying. A bored and slow sushi chef on display was not pleasing to see. 

Verdict? A lot of work and improvement must go in. I'm not sure whether they have many second time round customers. Because I probably won't be one unless it's a birthday dinner or something special. I can't say whether the $27.50 was worth it or not. In my opinion I'd rather go Surf and Turf if that place still exists.

Photos taken with my new camera which Dad gave me about an hour before we went out for dinner. Still getting used to it. Pretty happy with the pictures since I had no tripod and it was quite low light. Shutter speeds of around 1/8sec-1/15sec were used with no flash.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cooking: Tomato Seafood Marinara Spaghetti

Another dead simple recipe, very quick and tasty. Came home late and managed to make this in about 30 mins (From finding ingredients, peeling them, chopping them and cooking them and doing it slowly) with a bit of help from my bro. By the way, my bro cannot cook, if he had to live by himself he'd live off instant noodles, toast and fried eggs. Taught him how to cook pasta...or maybe the packet did.
Parents went out for dinner with family friends which let bro and I at home to make our own dinner.

Serves 2
Ingredients: 1 onion diced. 2-4 cloves of garlic. 1 carrot diced. 500g seafood marinara mix. Half a big (750ml) bottle of tomato passata (tomato puree. I don't ever buy those bottled pre made pasta sauces anymore, biggest rip off ever, and it takes the same amount of time to make your own). 250g spaghetti.

Method: Prep all the vegies. Cook pasta. In a separate pan, saute onions, galic and carrot for a few minutes until onions are translucent-ish. Add in seafood and cook for 2 mins. Add in tomato passata and season to taste (you can add in a few tbsp of tomato paste if you want it to be richer and add some chilli or dried oregano to you're liking). Simmer until pasta is done. Drain pasta and add into the sauce, toss until coated and serve.
I know it doesn't look the prettiest but taste pretty good. Especially when eaten on the couch whilst watching Jamie Oliver talk about junk food.

Food Court Challenge: Subway

Once again technically not in the food court but around the corner. After a day at State badminton(we came 3rd/4th) I was feeling pretty hungry despite the amount of lollies, fruit and a sandwich. Decided on Subway as it is filling, cheap and  yummy. Chose from the $7 foot long subs and the only one that appealed to me was the meatball one. Don't worry I didn't eat an entire footlong for afternoon tea, shared it with K仔.
Got it with pretty much everything except for olives and jalapenos (though we should have). Chose the chipotle southwest sauce. Yummy crunchy bread, lots of salad, and a few meatballs which I have suspicions about how they were made and what they contain. But together it made a pretty good sandwich.
Super filled and it just falls everywhere when you eat it unless you're experience =]
Like this photo? I didn't take it.

Food: 7/10 A good sanger after a long day is always going to taste good, especially if it's toasted and you're eating it with someone special.Though better quality meatballs would have made it better but then again it is a fast food chain not a gourmet restaurant.
Service: 8/10 Quick and to the point.Can't expect too much enthusiasm when you work at a fast food chain. 
Environment: 6/10 There are a few chairs and tables behind the shop but it is literally in the middle of the shopping centre and I don't exactly like being watched whilst I eat, feels a bit like a zoo. We went to the food court and ate instead. 

Verdict? Quick, decent, filling and cheap. Ticks all the boxes for the perfect food court choice.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cooking: Dead simple viet style chicken noodle salad

I love Vietnamese food.  So many fresh flavours. Sweet, sour and salty. To rank my favourite viet dishes is pretty much impossible. Viet pork rolls, viet noodles soup, bun bo hue, rice paper rolls, typical stuff because I haven't really explored much further than that although I loved reading Pauline Nguyen's cookbook.

So last weekend (yes, a little behind in blogging) parents when to Prahran Market and came back with a box of 12 jam filled doughnuts and a roast chicken. Doughnuts were really good and delicious. Coated in a little sugar. Pure deliciousness. Anyways made a simple refreshing lunch with the roast chicken.
Ingredients: Rice vermicelli. Cucumbers and carrots julienned. Roast chicken. Nuoc Cham/Dressing: Sugar. Warm water. Chilli flakes. Fish sauce. Lime juice.

Method: Cook vermicelli noodles according to packet and leave to cool unless you want a warm salad. Make dressing by dissolving sugar in warm water. Adding chilli flakes, lime juice and fish sauce according to taste. Arrange shredded roast chicken and vegetables on top of the vermcelli. Pour some dressing over it and mix and enjoy. 

I removed the breast of the chicken and cut them into slices (hence why there is a chunk of chicken on the top) Managed to shred the chicken with a knife and one hand. It was pretty fun to do (probably because I kept sneakily eating it =] )

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cooking: Steak, roast potatoes and roasted chilli cauliflower with gravy

After cooking over 50 steaks in my cooking life, I have yet to master how to tell how cooked they are. Every time I manage to overcook them, this time was no different. But only overcooked them slightly, by overcook I mean medium-well done instead of medium-rare.

However this time I focused mainly on roasting a cauliflower for the first time, sounds pretty odd. And TRYING to perfect roast potatoes.

Roast Potatoes:
Ingredients: potatoes chopped into the shape you want them to be. salt. water. olive oil.
Method: Place potatoes in boiling water and cook for about 10mins (if cut into bite sized pieces) or 15-20 if half/whole. Drain and shake pan like there's no tomorrow to rough up the sides to get super crunchy potatoes. Drizzle with oil and salt(normally hot oil to start the crunchy part forming but I find that too much of a hassle because I'm lazy). Mix well and spread onto a tray lined with FOIL. I find u end up with wet potatoes if you use baking paper, not sure why. Bake (180ish) until crunchy looking?/golden, 30 minutes or so?

Roasted Cauliflower
Ingredients: Head of cauliflower broken into florets with larger ones cut in half, coat with some oil. Place them onto a tray lined with FOIL (for the same reason as potatoes). Season with salt and chilli and roast for about 30 mins. DEAD SIMPLE. Roasting cauliflower seems be sweeter than boiling them.

Ingredients: Beef stock. Sliced mushrooms. Butter. tablespoon or two of flour
Method: Melt the butter in a saucepan, add flour and stir and cook for a few minutes. Add stock little by little, whisking well after each addition. Put in mushrooms and also any juice that has come out of the resting steak, this will give the gravy it's darker colour. Taste. Add black pepper if you want a black pepper gravy.

Steak is a dish I think everyone should master, because steak is yummmmmmyyyyyy as.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Food Court Challenge: China Bar

Okay, technically China Bar isn't in the food court, it is located on the ground level next to Sushi Sushi next to the elevator. Arrived at around 2pm and it was still quite full and very busy. You could see the chefs at the back with smoking woks.
Beef Brisket and Wonton Noodle Soup $9.90
I have to say it looked a bit like someone threw the vegies and wontons on. But a relatively clear broth *ahem MSG*. Tried some noodles which tasted like what wonton noodles are supposed to taste like. The beef wasn't as meltingly tender as I expected, super dry and stringy. Maybe I just have high expectations. Didn't try wontons but I realised they were missing the floppy wonton skin end. They looked a bit like siu mai but like fully covered. What kind of wonton doesn't have the floppy part overhanging? Alright for $9.90, decent amount of noodles. 

Char Kway Teow $10:50
Tossing between Hokkien Mee and CKT. Made a last minute decision to change from hokkien mee to CKT as I haven't had CKT in a while. Miss my uncles one, though this one is quite similar just not the same. No lap cheong (chinese sausage) in this one =[ my favourite. The presentation not bad, except a few garlic chives on the top would really just make it that little bit more appealing. Otherwise colour was quite good, evenly brown. Beansprouts were still crunchy, fishcake was fried on both sides, prawns were medicore. Good wok hei/smokiness and the garlic chives added that little bit of garlic flavour without it being overpowering. Best part of course is the deep fried pork fat pieces, crunchy and yummmmy. So unhealthy but whatever. Only complaint is serving size is smaller than other restaurants. However quality does make up for it so not going to complain as there are some pretty damn dodgy CKT out there. 

They also offer frozen dim sum here where you just take it home and steam it to eat. Pretty convenient except it's not cheap. You can even get chicken feet, haha I don't eat that anymore, something about it that creeps me out.

Food: 7.5/10 Nothing spectacular. Nothing completely bad. 
Service: 6.5/10 Unenthusiastic cashier person. Tables not very clean. Got given the wrong dish at first although there being a sign saying our number. However food does come out pretty fast. 
Environment: 6/10 Sitting in the middle of a shopping centre is never ideal. Nor is sharing tables with strangers who stare at you.

Verdict? Yeah I'd come back to try claypot rice. Pretty good food considering it is a shopping centre. Still a tad pricey for a student. Especially for dim sum.
China Bar at Westfield Doncaster on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cooking: Failed Macaron Tower turned into Macaron White Chocolate Crepe Layer Cake

Blogger finally works at school!!! It has been blocked for a while for some reason but now they must have unblocked it, probably because I spend a lot of my spares reading food blogs =]

So on the weekend I tried to make a Macaron Tower for my friends birthday except after piping out 120 shells which looked fine and baking them, they all decided to be mean and stick to the baking paper and break when I tried to peel them off. In the end I ended up with 20 acutal macarons =[ absolutely devasted. Since 20 macarons were definitely not enough to feed my group of friends at the mini party we were going to hold, I decided on making a crepe layer cake with the failed white chocolate ganache I made.

I assumed that white chocolate ganache proportions would be similar to normal chocolate ganache proportions and how wrong I was. Normal chocolate ganache is 1:1 (meaning 100g chocolate, 100ml cream) white chocolate however as I discovered is 2:1 (200g white chocolate, 100 cream) and as I had a limitation of white chocolate it wouldn't set, hence a failed white ganache.

Decided to make a crepe layer cake instead since it was the quickest thing to make without a baking time, and I guess somewhat impressive but not as impressive as a macaron tower. Lesson learnt from making the crepe batter, add melted butter into the flour before adding eggs and milk, otherwise the cold milk will solidify the butter and you end up with a horrible looking batter. However it doesn't really matter as the butter melts when you make the crepes and self oils the I guess it's not too bad.

P.S I spend hours staring at my computer trying to type out an english essay but when I blog I just type like there's no tomorrow, effortless thinking....why can't writing essays be like writing blog posts?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Eating Out: Crown Palace and Templestowe Hotel

Prior warning there will be no photos in this post. And I think this will turn into a rant instead of a review.
Last weekend I went to Han Palace in Vermont South for yum cha with my uncle and aunty whom I have not seen in quite a while. My uncle kindly helped Dad buy the Canon 550D in Hong Kong and the Chinese way is to treat someone who has done you a favour to a meal. A lot of Chinese traditions/customs I have yet to learn.

Back to the restaurant, service was pretty poor. Unenthusiastic waiters/waitresses who talked back to customers. They placed us right next to the hot water urn which I felt was a little dangerous.Worst was when one of the waitresses was stamping the numbers on the docket/bill/ordering form thing she decided to tell off the other waitress (who was placing food down on our table) for something she did the day before. Now there's nothing wrong about telling a collegue off if they have done something wrong but you definitely don't do it across a customers table.

Food wise it wasn't too bad. Most of it wasn't as hot as expected when it arrived on the table but there was quite a variety of dishes. The quality was quite good and consistent. Can't really fault there food, except there weren't enough steamed dim sum/dumplings coming out which is what should be served at yum cha...

Last night I went to Templestowe Hotel for a buffet dinner for a friend's birthday. I realise why this place isn't really heard of. The food ain't bad but it's not exactly outstanding. Also there is a lack of variety. However for around $25, you really can't ask for much more.

My best buffet experience? Having a $5 buffet!!! Pretty long story but it involves ebay. And yes this included all you can eat oysters, prawns and various seafood. Probably the most worth it meal I've ever had, exceptttttttttttt I was vegetarian at the time =.=" Did I mention that this time last year I was vegetarian? Some chinese/buddhist thing that when a family member passes away you become vegetarian for 7 weeks or something like that. I guess I did it for that reason and I wanted to test myself, test my determination. No one really believed that I could do an entire 7 weeks as I'm normally a meat eating freak. But in the end I managed to do it with a few exceptions like accidentally eating shrimp crackers and mum refusing to stop using oyster and fish sauce in her food.

That is all for now, haven't been cooking much lately. But I'm planning on making a macaron tower soon.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Product: TABASCO

I've grown up eating this stuff, there was/is always a bottle in the fridge. It's so versatile and chilli makes everything taste better =] Anyway, when mum went to Costco she came back with this!!
MASSIVE bottle of tabasco
It's over one cup of tabasco =] Should last a while

So what's your favourite chilli sauce?
 For me it would have to be XO sauce(although it ain't exactly chilli) closely followed by sambal.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cooking: Macarons

Finally SUCCESS!!!!!! Learnt from my mistakes. Added food colouring whilst eggwhite were beating and actually FOLDING the sugar and almond meal in and not mixing it like there's no tomorrow.
Ingredients: 225g icing sugar, 140g almond meal, 100g eggwhites (approx 3 eggs)

Method: Weigh and sift sugar and almond meal. Whisk eggwhites to soft peaks, add colouring then whisk to stiff peaks. FOLD icing sugar and almond meal into eggwhites in 2-3 batches. Don't listen to the pros when they say it's alright that the air gets knocked out because their folding technique is so pro that they don't lose much air, but for the amateur, air gets knocked out due to inexperience. So by the time you have folded in all the ingredients it should be about the right consistency. Pipe onto sheet, beware that they do spread quite a bit so pipe them a lot smaller than you want them. Bake at around 130 for 10-12 mins. Good luck =]

I'm also getting a lot better at piping. Fairly uniform sizes and I'm starting to be able to do that quick flick lift up thing the pastry chefs do to make sure the mixture doesn't get everywhere and stays on the macaron, with some practice it's actually not hard.

However I'm still having trouble baking them as I don't know when they are done. Practice practice practice.

Filled it with the leftover chocolate ganache from the cake my bestie and I made last week.
Soooooooooo yummy =] 

Cooking: Vermicelli Noodles in Dashi Broth

Made this a few days ago for lunch. Have you ever realised that Japanese people don't seem to have vermicelli noodles? I really can't think of any Jap dish that does. So pretty much made some instant dashi stock, chucked in some shiitake mushrooms, chinese cabbage/wombok, made some soft boiled eggs and grilled some pork belly from yonks ago that mum found in the freezer.
Found the secret to making those awesome japanese boiled eggs with the semi set yolk.
  • Try and use room temperature eggs. (not sure how much of a difference this makes)
  • Place the eggs in a pot, THEN add COLD water to cover. You add the eggs in before water so you don't accidentally crack the eggs when you drop them in and smash on the bottom of the pot. Add cold water so the egg whites will cook slowly before the yolk, and so the egg doesn't crack due to sudden change in temp if you put them in when the water is boiling.
  • Bring the eggs+water to the boil.
  • Once it comes to a rapid boil, set a timer for 4 mins.
  • Boil for 4 mins....then dunk in cold water so you can peel them without burning you're hands =] 
  • Cut in half to reveal the awesome deliciousness.
I used to hate eggs with a passion and the only eggs I would try were the crunch whites of a fried egg and mum's chinese omelettes. Nowadays, I don't mind boiled eggs (they used to make me gag), love fried eggs (with chilli flakes =D), still love omelettes but don't really like eggs scrambled. Weird.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cooking: Risotto with Garlic Prawns

This totally didn't go to plan. The risotto wouldn't cook. The garlic for the prawns go stuck to the pan and not the prawns.
Risotto with bacon and mushrooms with garlic prawns
Can anyone suggest how I can get the risotto to cook through? Even after 40 minutes it was not cooked. 

Goal: Eat my way through the shoppo food court

Food courts are notorious for serving horrible OVERPRICED food. So I've decided that I will eat my way through every place in the food court at Doncaster Shoppingtown to try and find the best one. By saying best one I mean my personal favourite, I'm in no position to say which one is the "best" but you know when a place is "bad" because you don't want to eat there again. Two main things I'll consider is taste and price.
I probably won't review every single place because I've already been to some.
I'll make a new page for this. Click "Food Court Challenge" under the blog title up the top

So why am I doing this? I went to shoppo yesterday and went to get something to eat, after walking an entire round still couldn't decide on what to get. And ended up eating this

Nandos will never fail me. Except it fails on price, this plate cost $10.50

Hopefully I'll visit shoppo often enough to keep it updated.