These are a few of my favourite things...

>> Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm taking a break from posting what goes on inside my kitchen so this is a rather random post which includes some food related photos taken recently across 3 cities (Sydney, Taipei and Tokyo). Each item deserve an entry of their own really, but at the rate I'm going, I'll probably never get around to it ;-)'s my list in no particular order!

1. Ding Tai Fung's Loofah (sponge gourd) dumplings - Taipei

The loofah dumpling is a favourite of mine at Ding Tai Fung's - I'm not sure if this is on the menu in Sydney yet? I also saw on the menu there are truffle dumplings! I thought I read it wrong and had to ask my parents to translate the Chinese words for me. They were without doubt the most expensive item on the list (around 4 times the price of the other dumplings)...maybe I should give it a try before I leave!?

Love the translucent skin that you can almost see the green loofah inside!
Delicious dumplings in the making!
2. Dried lychee, goji and walnut loaf - Taipei

It's not hard to notice that everyone's into their bread these days in Taiwan. Why? Because Taiwanese baker Pao-Chun Wu won the championship at the Masters de la Boulangerie in Paris this year. His winning bread contains dried lychee (longan), millet wine and rose - what a combo! While I cannot buy his award winning bread (apparently there is a waiting list), this baker has passed on his recipe to several outlets in Taiwan! I got the longan, goji and walnut loaf from an Tanhou, an organic store recently....divine! I ate the whole thing in one sitting!

It's a lot tastier than it looks ;)
Longan, goji and walnut chewy goodness!
3. Gouter de Roi's Gateau Rusk - Tokyo

If you see an extremely long line at the food section in a department store in Tokyo, it's likely that those Tokyoites are lining up for these delicious rusks! I'm sure if carry one of their bags in Tokyo, you'll be the envy of everyone around you! And if you receive this as a gift from someone, you should feel all warm and fuzzy inside - because someone just waited in line for who knows how long just to get these for you!

These are lovely with just the right amount of crunchy sweetness! I'd happily munch on these if someone is willing to get them pour moi. Are they worth waiting in line for 1+ hours? Personally, I think not. 

4. Oriental and Continental Foods - Sydney 

I'm still trying to find my grounds with spices and would like to incorporate more of them into my meals. So part of the fun for me is to discover spices that I have not used before and test them out in my cooking...which sometimes leads to inedible curries.

Oriental and Continental Foods in Artarmon is where I do my shopping for spices. They have a good range of spices that you can buy in bulk (although not as comprehensive as Herbies) so they're much cheaper than the ones you get in the supermarket. Oh and they have cardamom seeds which I really like because it saves me time from cracking open the pods (and they're much more fragrant than the grounded version).
Loading up on goodies including - cardamon pods, peppercorns, rock salt, henna, macadamia nuts and almond meal!
Nutmegs perfumes my soups and cookies. Gotta love them!
5. Ton Sushi 童壽司 - Taipei

This is one of my favourite Japanese restaurants in Taipei. It's owned by a family friend's sport buddy so this is our usual meet up spot whenever I am in Taipei! All their sushi and sashimi are incredibly fresh and makes me drool whenever I think about them. Like right now.

Treasures of the sea?!
Deep fried shredded burdock with mashed potato and mayo - my favourite!
6. Crocs - Worldwide

Ok, this is not croc meat nor restaurant. But I'd like to say how comfy these crocs are in taking me places during my travels. They haven't been off my feet for the past few weeks. Or maybe I just like to take photos of my feet. Most girls go through this phase apparently in their teenage years. I must be a little bit behind!

7. Pendolino - Sydney

You know sometimes you're just looking for a slightly fancier restaurant in the Sydney CBD but you don't want to empty out your wallet or sit through a 3 hours 12-course meal? I reckon
Pendolino (one-hat) would be a great choice for that occasion! To most people, this Italian eatery is probably more well known for their speciality olive oils that you can purchase them from their gift shop.

It is also at this restaurant that me and my dear friend E made plans for number 8 below. :)

Quaint and warm ambiance
Handmade Half Moon mezzalune ravioli with braised pork cheek, fava beans, crisp pancetta and pork cheek sauce

8. Sepia - Sydney

I used to work at 201 Sussex Street. Sepia is located at 201 Sussex Street. See the connection? No, I never worked there! But this two-hatted restaurant (where owner Martin Benn won the Good Food Guide's Chef of the Year 2011) is housed in a complex where I used to work and I remember times when I walked past and wondered when I'll get to food splurge there.

So one of the first things I did after handing in my resignation is to make a reservation at Sepia. Degustation dinner is $130pp for a 10-course meal or you can get their Winter menu at $80pp. There are also A La Carte's to choose from.

I went for the 10-course set and here are some of the memorable dishes:

Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare, Warm Dashi Custard, Soy and Wasabi Jelly, "Popped Pork" and Nori Salt, Wild Green Elk
Squid pasta with an "apple salad" of Bison Grass vodka and apple mousse, with toasted grains.
Sansho Roasted Pasture Fed Angus Beef Tenderloin, Braised Short Rib, Buffalo Milk 'Tofu', Roasted Quinoa
'Chocolate Forest' - Soft Chocolate, Lavender Cream, Sour Cherry Sorbet, Licorice
9. Bacco Wine Bar Pasticceria's cannoli - Sydney

To get my sugar fix on a working day, I used to walk to Bacco at Chifley Plaza during my lunch breaks. It's a good 20 minutes walk each way, but it's so worth it! They have an amazing selection of desserts including their popular chocolate mousse and strawberry tarts, but my favourite is still their cannoli!

During my last week at work, my lovely colleague B bought some to share with us! /<3

Is there a good recipe out there for this? I'd love to learn to make it.

Cannoli @ $3.50 each! The ricotta filling...hmmmm.
10. Peaches - Tokyo

Sometimes at the end of the day, nothing beats a juicy peach that dribbles down your chin as you bite into it. 


Bourke Street Bakery + Carrot cake recipe

>> Thursday, September 9, 2010

One fine Sunday after church, Sister and I were due to have lunch at Friend's so we decided to drop by the famous Bourke Street Bakery nearby to pick up a few items.

One should never turn up at a friend's empty-handed. This is instructed in Mother's book of etiquette.

This tiniest bakery is located at a small corner in the artsy Surry Hills and from afar, I could see a long line of people waiting for their lazy Sunday's caffeine and pastry/pie fix.

In my book of etiquette, one should also never turn up at a friend's famished and low on sugar. It may result in unsightly and unlady-like table manners.

Something has to be done about it. So we indulged in....

the smoothiest and flakiest chocolate tart...

beef brisket pie and pork & fennel sausage roll...

And packed the following for post-lunch treats at Friend's:

Lemon tart (I think I prefer Pierre Herme's recipe to this)...

Ginger brulee tart (so delicious - must try their Strawberry brulee tart next time)...

Carrot cake (see below for recipe)...

Bourke Street Bakery
633 Bourke Street Surry Hills (Corner Devonshire Street)
Tel: (02) 9699-1011.
Hours: Tue-Fri 7am-6pm
Sat-Sun 8am-5pm

I've started to see a trend recently - I love to incorporate veges and fruit in my baking! This carrot cake is definitely one fine example of it!

For this recipe - I substituted self-rising all purpose flour for self-rising wholemeal flour, which may be the reason why my cake didn't rise. I also omitted the cream from the frosting and used Greek style yoghurt as a substitute.

BSB's Carrot Cake
Serves 10
  • 70 g (2 1/2 oz) walnuts
  • 150 g (5 1/2 oz / 1 cup) self-raising flour (I used self-rising wholemeal flour)
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 55 ml (1 3/4 fl oz / about 2) egg whites
  • 60g (2 1/4 oz / 1/4 cup) sugar for egg whites (I halved this)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 160g (5 3/4 oz / 3/4 cup) sugar for egg yolks (I halves this)
  • 170 ml (5 1/2 fl oz / 2/3 cup) extra light olive oil
  • 125 g (4 1/2 oz) carrots, peeled and grated
Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 20 g (3/4 oz / 1 tsp) icing sugar, plus extra, for dusting
  • 20 g (3/4 oz / 1 tbsp) butter, softened
  • 145 g (5 1/4 oz) cream cheese
  • 40 ml (1 1/4 fl oz / 2 tbsp) pouring (whipping) cream (35% fat) (I used greek yoghurt instead)

1. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Grease an 18 cm (7 inch) round cake tin and line the base and side with baking paper - the paper should protrude about 2.5 cm (1 inch) above the tin.
2. Place the walnuts on a baking tray and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until lightly roasted. Cool and cut into thirds. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt into a bowl. Repeat to ensure they are evenly mixed.
3. Put the egg whites in a very clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks start to form. Slowly pour in the sugar for the egg whites, while the motor is still running, being careful not to overmix - the meringue should reach soft peak stage. Quickly transfer the meringue to another bowl and set side until needed.
4. Put the egg and egg yolk in the bowl of the electric mixer and add the sugar for the egg yolks. Mix on high speed for 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture doubles in volume and is quite airy. With the motor still running, slowly pour in the oil in a thin stream being careful that it doesn't split or deflate too much.
5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and with a spatula or gloved hand, gently fold in the flour mixture until combined. Fold in the carrots and walnuts. Quickly and lightly fold in the meringue - do not fold it through completely, you should still be able to see streaks of meringue through the mix.

6. Pour into the preapred tin and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into centre of the cake comes out clean.
7. Meanwhile, make the cream cheese frosting. Cream the icing sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and smooth. Add the cream cheese in small amounts, allowing it to completely incorporated before adding the rest. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl during this process to ensure even mixing. Add the cream and mix until smooth, being careful not to overmix at this stage or the cream may curdle and separate. If using a different type of cream cheese for this recipe you may need to add a little more cream - the frosting needs to be of a spreadable consistency but not at all runny.
8. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for about 30 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Using a serrate knife, slice horizontally through the centre of the cake to form two even-sized layers and fill with cream cheese frosting.

9. Dust the top of the cake with icing sugar to serve.


My version is definitely a little bit more dense than Bourke St. Bakery's as I used wholemeal flour instead. I would also recommend that you half the sugar as I's sweet enough (I guess that is a personal preference). Nevertheless, the cake is still delicious with crunchy wholesomeness from the walnuts and full of aroma from the spices!


Chocolate & Zuchinni Loaf

>> Sunday, September 5, 2010

I haven't been so excited about a loaf in a long time. Until today.

Chocolate and zuchinni.

They're like that unlikely couple you knew from school. When you first found out they were going out, you thought 'Are they nuts?'

But once you saw them together, you began to think, 'Hang on there, they are actually kinda cute together...'

In the relationship, the zuchinni would be the one working 'behind the scenes'. It keeps the cake super moist so that you don't need to add much (or any) butter and it is content in not receiving any attention and being overpowered by the rich and sexy chocolate.

I've wanted to give this combo a try for some time now, and recently when I read about it from Asha in her lovely blog, I was sold! I loved how she described the zuchinni as being 'altruistic'. I adore that word. I first saw that word inside the lower lip of a friend. He had it tattooed there. A great and traumatic way to remember vocabularies.

Can I also tell you something? I was sure this cake would fail. I didn't follow a recipe in particular and mucked around with the ingredients. You see, I wanted to make it healthier. If my next job doesn't work out, I may have a chance of becoming a nutritionist.

So there I was, whisking together some grated zuchinni, chocolate pieces, spelt flour, extra virgin olive oil and greek style yoghurt. Very worried. Doesn't seem...appetising?

In the oven it went and I had a flashing vision of the baked good down my rubbish chute. Timer beeps.

Sliced into the loaf. Seems like your everyday chocolate loaf. Just not exactly great looking.

A quick bite. Tastes like your everyday chocolate loaf...but so much more moist and soft.

It's lovely stuff.

Just don't forget about the selfless zuchinni in there.
Chocolate & Zucchini Loaf

  • 120 grams (1 cup) spelt flour (or alternatively, use all purpose flour)
  • 30 grams (1/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 50 grams light brown sugar
  • 60 grams (1/4 cup) virgin olive oil (or unsalted butter at room temp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 1 large egg
  • 60 grams Greek style yoghurt (or any other plain yoghurt)
  • 175 grams (1 cup) unpeeled grated zucchini
  • 80grams (1/2 cup) good-quality bittersweet chocolate chips
  • A few tbsp skim milk (optional)
  • Confectioner's sugar (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a mixer (or by hand in a large mixing bowl), beat the sugar and oil (or butter) until fluffy. Add the vanilla, coffee, yoghurt and egg, mixing well between each addition.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, chocolate chips, and about a third of the flour mixture, making sure the zucchini strands are well coated and not clumping too much.

4. Add the rest of the flour mixture into the egg batter. Mix until just combined; the batter will be thick.

5. Fold the zucchini mixture into the batter, and blend with a spatula without overmixing. Pour into the cake/loaf pan, and level the surface. (I added around 2 tablspoons of skim milk here because the batter seems too heavy).

6. Bake for 45- 50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer onto a rack to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the pan to loosen, and unclasp the sides of the pan. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP