Friday, December 18, 2009

Vanilla Marshmallows & a Blog Award

I've always wanted to make marshmallows. I love the texture, I love them in biscuits, slices and rocky road.

I also wanted something I could give out this Christmas. After many tries, and several recipes, I'm sharing the recipe that worked (with some variation), thank you Martha Stewart!
Makes about 20

Ingredients

Non-stick cooking spray
2 tablespoons powdered gelatine
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups caster sugar
2/3 cup glucose syrup
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons cornflour, sifted

Method

  1. Lightly spray a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; set aside.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sprinkle gelatine over 1/2 cup cold water; let it stand for 10 minutes.

  3. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, glucose syrup, and 1/4 cup water. Place saucepan over medium-high heat and bring up to 120°C on a candy thermometer.

    Remove from heat, and, with the mixer on high, slowly pour the boiling syrup down the side of the mixer bowl into gelatine mixture. Add salt and continue mixing for 12 minutes.

  4. Add vanilla extract and mix well until combined. Spray a rubber spatula and spread mixture evenly into pan.

    Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place, spray side down, on top of marshmallows. Leave to stand overnight.

  5. Sift icing sugar and cornflour together in a bowl.
    Place a large piece of baking paper on a chopping board, and sprinkle well with the icing sugar mixture.

  6. Remove the top plastic wrap and carefully remove marshmallows from pan onto the baking paper. Remove the rest of the plastic wrap and discard.

  7. Cut marshmallows into 4cm squares using a sprayed sharp knife. Working in batches, add marshmallows to bowl and toss to coat.
    Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days.
On another note, at the beginning of this month Citrus and Candy awarded my blog an Over the Top Award - thanks for the referral!

Basically, you answer the questions below (try to limit it to one-word answers as much as possible), and pass the award on to another six bloggers you would like to know more about.

1. Where is your cell phone? ottoman
2. Your hair?
black
3. Your mother? Away
4. Your father?
Sleeps
5. Your favorite food?
Tarts
6. Your dream last night?
Scary
7. Your favorite drink? San Pellegrino
8. Your dream/goal?
housewife
9. What room are you in?
Living
10. Your hobby? Sleeping

11. Your fear? Falling
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Kitchen
13. Where were you last night? Friend's place

14. Something that you aren’t? Crazy
15. Muffins? Savoury!
16. Wish list item? Kitchenaid Mixer
17. Where did you grow up?
Sydney
18. Last thing you did? Blogged!

19. What are you wearing? Red shirt
20. Your TV?
Frasier
21. Your pets? Fish

22. Friends? Close

23. Your life? Getting better

24. Your mood?
Relaxed
25. Missing someone? Friends overseas

26. Vehicle? Mazda 3

27. Something you’re not wearing?
watch
28. Your favorite store? Chocolate shops

29. Your favorite color? brown
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried?
two weeks ago
32. Your best friend?
Husband
33. One place that I go to over and over?
Cradle Mountain
34. One person who emails me regularly? Keiko
35. Favorite place to eat? Billy Kwong

Here are the six bloggers I'm award the OTT award to :). Just remember to link me on your post!

1. mochachocolatarita
2. Ooh, Look...
3. Be The Foodie
4. Lena Soka Cooks
5. lemonpi
6. Brown-Eyed Baker

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mystery Box Challenge November 2009

This is the last of it's kind for the year. And I'm sad to say I'm saying goodbye to two of the friends who have been regular participants in this event - they're moving away from Sydney, which is quite sad. So, here's one more for the road - you did a great job girls!

The ingredients were:
including, fresh pasta sheets, pork and veal mince, haloumi, mangoes, white chocolate...

Entree:
Orange and grilled haloumi stack with orange rind on a bed of mint leaves, and pork and veal meatballs served with sweet chilli sauce

Main Course:
Deconstructed lasagne with asparagus and white sauce.

Dessert:
A mango Eton mess with a rich white chocolate sauce, studded with blueberries, . Garnished with crushed pistachios and served with a puff pastry twist.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanh Binh on King

Nice clean and fresh flavours...best Vietnamese in Newtown?

This restaurant is a particular favourite with our family. It can fit a large group well, and there's something for everyone. Let me share some of our family's favourites...

Green papaya salad with prawn and pork
The salad is served on large rice cracker bed. Scoop a bit of salad on top of a bit of cracker and you're off!
Rice paper rolls with sugar-cane prawns
It's a game of roll-your-own rice paper rolls, and it's fun and yum. the serving is quite generous. Sugar-cane prawn is my favourite of all the choices available.
Vietnamese spring rolls with fish dipping sauce
I don't know if you've noticed, but I love deep-fried food. This is one of the best specimens of what deep-fried food should be. It's deliciously crispy on the outside, and it's the most packed spring roll I've ever had. My nieces and nephew love this dish (and so does their auntie!).
Wok-fried diced rump steak with garlic and cracked pepper, with lemon dipping sauce
This is just a very good beef dish. I love anything with extra sauce, so the lemon dipping sauce is a great accompaniment to the dish. Dunk away!
Salt and pepper pork fillets with lemon dipping sauce
Another one with lemon dipping sauce (it is a very good dipping sauce!). The pork fillets remain surprisingly tender beneath the crispy battered exterior.
111 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
ph: (02) 9557 1175
Opening hours: Tue - Thu 5:30pm - 10:15pm, Fri 5:30pm - 11pm, Sat Noon - 11pm, Sun Noon - 10pm
http://www.thanhbinh.com.au/

Friday, November 27, 2009

Billy Kwong

Modern Chinese Food, with quality organic ingredients.

I love Billy Kwong. Over the past few years, it's been one of our favourites, and we always go back for two of Kylie Kwong's signature dishes...the Homestyle Fried Biodynamic Eggs with Organic Tamari & Homemade XO and the crispy duck with a sweet syrup and some sort of citrus fruit - sometimes it's blood orange, sometimes normal orange, sometimes mandarin. These two dishes and rice is more than enough for a meal for two.

Homestyle Fried Biodynamic Eggs with Organic Tamari & Homemade XO
We dream about these eggs, they are just too good. You wonder how good eggs can be? I think this is the ultimate egg dish. It's crunchy, spicy and I've never known eggs to taste so silky.
Signature dish of crispy duck with oranges, mandarins or plums
(depending upon the season
)
The duck is delightfully crispy with a textured szechuan pepper and salt crusted skin, and the syrup is sweet without being too sickly, with a bit of a tang from the citrus fruit.
This is a dish that must be eaten with rice, to balance out the intensity of the flavours.


3/355 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
ph: (02) 9332 3300
Opening hours: Daily, 6pm (no reservations, some come early)
www.kyliekwong.org/BillyKwongs.aspx

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chicken & Corn Vol au Vent

I love cream of chicken and corn soup. The combination of rich, creamy chicken soup with the sweetness of the corn is just gold.

I had to come up with a quick, inexpensive canape for a recent event, and so I experimented with my favourite soup, and it turned out! The recipe is certainly not rocket science, but I'm pretty happy with the results, and I'll pulling this recipe out for many years to come.


Ingredients
1 can of Campbell's Cream of Chicken and Corn condensed soup
1/3 of the soup can's capacity of full cream milk (less if you want a less runnier consistency)
a handful of grated tasty/mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to season
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 x 12 mini vol au vent shells

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to moderate.
  2. Pour the soup into a large microwave safe bowl.
  3. Pour milk into the empty soup can, up to 1/3 of the can's capacity.
  4. Mix the milk in with the soup.
  5. Throw the mozzarella cheese into the soup mixture and mix well.
  6. Cover and microwave for 1 minute until the cheese is slightly melted. Season to taste.
  7. Spoon the filling into the shells, and then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes or until shells and top are nicely browned.
  9. Enjoy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mystery Box Challenge October 2009

Our friends brought over a whole lot of mystery ingredients and this time it was our turn to cook.

It was a lot harder than I expected, and I used a lot of dishes and pots and pans! But it was really fun, I would definitely do it again (bring it on!). Having said this, we're doing another one this Friday (this time our friends are cooking), so watch this space.

Ingredients were:
sundried tomatoes
red onion
capsicum
chorizo
lamb loin chops
couscous
fetta
pine nuts
turkish bread
hummus
baby spinach
rocket
pumpkin
frozen mixed berries
filo pastry
almond meal
tomatoes
lemons
coriander

The result

Entree:
Toasted turkish squares, rubbed with garlic and topped with
a) hummus, chorizo and wilted baby spinach

b) tomato relish, chorizo and coriander

Main:
BBQ'd lamb chops with a lemon, honey and fennel glaze.
Roasted capsicums filled with couscous seasoned with lemon rind, and mixed with fetta, sundried tomatoes and roasted pumpkin.
Rocket and Parmesan salad with caramelised balsamic vinegar.

Dessert:
Filo pastry topped with a coconut butter sugar mixture, topped with mixed berries.
Filo pastry with a frangipane filling (almond)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Coffee Crème Caramel

I love crème caramels. I had forgotten how easy it is to make - I can't recall why I stopped making them too often, they are just a really nice simple dessert to make.

The only thing I still have difficulty with is trying to get the custard nicely out of the ramekin, even the tips didn't really help much...any suggestions?

This recipe has only been slightly adapted from Issue 46 of the Donna Hay magazine.

Ingredients
150g caster sugar
80ml water
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup single (pouring) cream
1/4 cup espresso coffee
2 eggs, plus 4 egg yolks
1/3 cup caster sugar, extra
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 150°C.
  2. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat and stir until sugar is dissolved.
    Bring to the boil and cook for 10-12 minutes or until golden.
  3. Pour the caramel into 4 x 3/4 cup capacity oven-proof dishes.
    Set aside for 5 mins until caramel is set.
  4. Place the milk, cream and coffee in a saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to the boil. Remove from heat.
  5. Place the eggs, extra yolks, extra sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Gradually add the milk mixture.
  6. Place the dishes in a water bath. Bake for 35 minutes until set.
    Remove from dish and refrigerate for 2 hours until cold.
  7. Turn out onto plates to serve
Tip: The magazine says to dip the base of each dish into hot water for 10secs before turning out, this will loosen the caramel and help it to slip out more easily.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Black Star Pastry

This post has been a long time coming. I almost feel it's a shame talking about this place on my blog, because I selfishly want to keep it an inner-west secret. It's definitely a place where locals like to go and have a lovingly created sweet, as well as a pretty decent coffee.

I've also been here for some toast and a coffee, and I love the "help yourself" communal tray of butter, Vegemite and assorted preserves and jams.

Lamb Shank Pie
Eating a stew in a flaky pastry. This is a must have when you have lunch here.

Chicken mayo Sandwich

Chocolate Caramel Tart
I can't believe I finished this tart - it was so rich, and that IS salt on top. But the very short tart shell, the salty sweet caramel and the dark chocolate on top were just perfect in combination.


Turkish fig and Orange Cake
The dried fig was mor decoration, but the Orange Cake was orangey, moist and the icing tangy.

Elderflower cheesecake
It was so pretty we had to have it!
The cheesecake sat on a base of a very thin sponge.
The cheesecake itself was light as a feather. The layer of elderflower jelly was a looking glass to the thinly cut pieces of blueberry and grapes. Best cheesecake I've ever had.


277 Australia St Newtown NSW 2042
ph: (02) 9557 8656
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 7am-5pm

Saturday, October 31, 2009

SIFF: Meet 2008’s Best Young Chef for lunch at Lotus

This post could not wait. We had the most fantastic lunch today at Lotus. The weather was so pleasant (we sat outside), and we just watch the locals go by. I used to work in Potts Point, so sitting outside on Challis Ave brought back some pleasant memories.

Dan Hong, the winner of the Best Young Chef award in the Good Food Guide 2008, hosted a subscriber-only lunch at Lotus bistro on 24 and 31 October. I've been wanting to come here, especially after hearing about his take on the Hot Fudge Sundae. This lunch was a 5 course degustation for $60.


Tartare of NZ King Salmon with sweet wasabi and soy truffle vinaigrette
beautiful fresh flavours - that sweet wasabi cream was subtle, without the usual burning aftertaste of intense wasabi


Caramelized Pork Belly with watermelon, goats curd and endive
The pork belly (2 pieces) was wonderfully sweet, and crispy all over - just the way pork belly was meant to be.
The watermelon was a nice refreshing partner. I'm not usually a fan of goats curd, but this wasn't too overpowering. This was my favourite savoury dish of the day...

Steamed Snapper with jalapeno, crab and ginger
Sweet tender white fleshed fillet, with a gingery sauce, served on a bed of al dente noodles and mushrooms. The jalopeno was nice and spicy surprise.
This was my husband's favourite dish of the day.

Crisp Pastilla of Lamb, quinoa, beetroot puree, spiced lamb jus

I was starting to get full at this point, and I definitely wanted to leave room for dessert. But the lamb inside the Pastilla was lovely and tender - it was like having a rich stew in a spring roll.
The jus was a rich gravy, and the beetroot bright dots on the plate.

Hot Fudge Sundae with honeycomb and raspberries
Ice cream on a bed of berry puree, topped with whipped cream with shards of honeycomb, and dotted with two raspberries. On the side was a thick warm fudge sundae.
Yes, this was the highlight of the meal, and I want to go back there and devour another plate sometime soon.
I love when chefs take a simple classic and take it to another level without over-complicating things.

Here's a shot of the pouring of the fudge sauce...yummm!

22 Challis Ave, Potts Point 2011
ph: (02) 9326 9000
www.merivale.com/lotus/lotus

Sugar Hit: Perama

Very good value sugar hit, busy and loud atmosphere.
I'd be keen to come back here and try the savoury stuff...


(From top left, clockwise)
1. Patchavoura - Northern Greek slang for wet rag ; a soggy baklava really, not my favourite on the plate, but that's a personal thing. The thing I like about baklava is the crispy pastry.

2. The whole dessert plate

3. Semolina Milk Pudding - A classic from old Constantinople of halva pudding made from milk, almonds, semolina and currants. Served with classic buffalo milk anglaise. This was the sweet of the night - it was delicious, smooth and served warm.

4. Greek Coffee Chocolate Tart - A Greek coffee chocolate mousse cake with a cinnamon shortcrust base.

5. White Chocolate Chamomile Gelato Fingers - Gelato is sandwiched between lemon flavoured shortbreads with a poppy seed sprinkle.

88 Audley St, Petersham NSW 2049
ph: (02) 9569 7534
www.perama.com.au

Friday, October 23, 2009

Flying First Class

Have you ever wondered what it's like to fly first class? So have I.
We were fortunate enough to do so on the way back from the States.

Here's what it's like to travel on the brand new Qantas A380, and on their sensational new first class. It was absolutely great service

The seat, and it rotates and transforms into a flat bed, that the flight attendants make up for you with a comfortable quilt.

The huge tv, and you can start watching as soon as you get on the plane, without any interruption

Greeted by name, and given a light snack and a drink.

I got to sit and have dinner with my husband in his "suite". They set up the table with a crisp tablecloth and nice cutlery (but plastic knife)
In the shot, is my husband wearing the pyjamas given to all first class passengers, designed by Akira Isogawa.

They take your order like in a restaurant.
You order from a small selection on a printed menu.

Bread roll with olive oil and balsamic


Entree: Cauliflower Soup

Entree: Prosciutto & Rocket Salad

Main Course: Rosemary Chicken

Main Course: Salmon with white beans

T2 Green tea

Dessert: Pear and toffee tart

Dessert: Fruit Salad

Breakfast is served a couple of hours before landing.
Again, I had breakfast with my husband, and they took our orders and
we settled in for a three course breakfast....

Breakfast: Granola

Breakfast: Fruit salad in juice

Breakfast:
Croissant


Breakfast:
Cinnamon Scroll


Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, potato cakes, toast

Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, potato cakes, toast and relish
The first class experience was sensational, and the new A380 was very very nice. The service was excellent, but I guess it's what you should you expect in first class. Bring on the next trip!
 

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