Monday, November 26, 2007

Mornington Peninsular Road Trip

I just came back from my weekend road trip at Mornington Peninsular. It was probably my fourth visit to Mornington Peninsular, but each trip is always different!

We departed Melbourne on Saturday and our first stop was Miss Marple's Tea Room. This little cottage is located on Mt. Dandenong in a town called Olinda.

I love its little cozy setting, and all of its interior and exterior design. I felt like I was really having an afternoon tea in Britain.

This tea room is so popular with the local and tourists that it does not take bookings! You can't take away their scones either!. I believe it's for quality control purpose. When we first arrived, it was still empty as it had just opened. But it quickly filled up as time passed! The turnover rate is quite high too, and there's always a queue waiting whenever I go.

As this was probably my third visit, I've learned from my previous experiences that the dishes are quite 'rich', so we ordered less on this trip. I think we made a mistake while ordering this time, as we ordered the dessert at the same time as the other dishes. This was a bad move as the ice cream sundae arrived at the same time as the other dishes. So we had to simultaneously eat both savory and sweet dishes at the same time to prevent the ice cream from melting.

Miss Marple's Famous Fresh Chicken, Cheese, and Asparagus Fingers.
This was quite nice, very cheesy with strong flavor.

Miss Marple's famous Plain Scones, served with whipped cream and homemade strawberry jam.
The scones here are different from the other places I've eaten before. They looked more like cakes than scones to me. Despite the not-so-sconish looks that I'm used to, they still taste heavenly when eaten with thick layer of cream and jam!

Miss Marple's Fish and Chips with Salad
This was their special dish that day. I was pretty disappointed with the taste despite its great looks. The batter wasn't really crispy and it tasted a bit bland for my liking.

Miss Marple's Sundae Best!
This was vanilla icecream topped with whipped cream, strawberries, almond flakes and drizzled with homemade berry and chocolate sauce. This was good, but it would be better if there were more ice cream instead of cream.

After our lovely brunch, we proceeded to Sunny Ridge Strawberry farm. The place was quite commercialized with lots of tourists, both local and international.

You can either buy the packed strawberries, or pick your own from the farm!

The large, packed strawberries

You can also get them coated in Chocolates

Little tubs of chocolate sauce for the strawberries are also on sale

I decided to try out their 'world famous' strawberry icecream and sorbet instead.
Both flavors were good, but I prefered the sorbet more as it has a stronger strawberry flavor

After the fulfilling treat, we decided to burn some calories by picking the strawberries at the farm. Here are some strawberries picking tips.

I should give you a little warning though. Some areas of the farm are muddy, so be careful when you walk. I almost slipped and fell into the mud myself. It really gave my friends something to laughed about through out the whole trip.

After the strawberry farm, we decided to go to Arthur's seat to take a look at the beautiful view and check-in to our beach house.

Our dinner at this little shop called 'Fish and Chips' located in Sorrento
These were a lot better than the ones I had at Miss Marple's!
The price was also very reasonable.

The next day, we went took a ferry across and had lunch around the Torquay area. We didn't really know what to eat, so we ended up eating at La Porchetta.

Spagetthi Marinara
I didn't really enjoy this dish as it was too soggy for my liking. I also find the taste a bit too fishy.
I'm quite particular about my pasta as I love them 'al dente'. My friends seemed to like this dish though.

Mexicana Pizza
This salami was a bit too spicy for me, otherwise it's pretty good

Sun-dried tomatoPizza
I thought this pizza looked quite pretty, but I would enjoy it more if there were MORE sun-dried tomatoes

I really enjoyed this trip, and had a lot of fun with yummy food and great company! Probably wouldn't mind going there again for the fifth time.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Smooth and Luscious Custard Chiffon Cake

After my first failed attempt at making this cake, I felt that I couldn't give up until it turned out well. Well, I'm happy to say that on my second attempt, I'm satisfy with the results! The cake tasted amazing when it's chilled! It's just like eating creme caramel, but the sweetness is toned down by the soft chiffon cake.

During my first attempt, I didn't bake the cake long enough, which resulted in an underbaked custard layer. When I turned the cake out on the plate, the custard layer literally collapsed and fell on the plate.

Custard Chiffon Cake by J' Lee

1)Caramel Layer
60g caster sugar

2)Custard Layer
90 g caster sugar
3 egg yolks
220 g evaporated milk
1.5 tsp vanilla

3)Chiffon Cake Layer
100 g cake flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
50 g caster sugar
32 g canola oil
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
95 g water

3 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tar tar
50 g caster sugar

1) Caramel layer: Caramelize the sugar in the baking mould (don't use nonstick baking mould), until the sugar turns golden brown in color. Swirl the mould around to make sure the caramel covers the base of the mould. Set aside.

2) Custard Layer: Mixed sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, and evaporated milk together and pour to a sieve to remove any air bubbles. Carefully pour into the mould, on top of the caramel layer.

3) Chiffon cake layer: Sift flour and baking powder in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, mixed together the sugar, oil, vanilla, egg yolks, and water. Pour it into the flour mixture and mix together using a hand whisk. Be careful not to overmixed as this will result in the cake being tough. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Slowly add the sugar, and beat until soft peaks form. Carefully fold together the egg whites mixture into the egg yolks mixture without deflating the egg whites.

Pour into the mould, on top of the custard layer and baked in a 170 degrees oven for 45-50 min until the chiffon cake is cooked. If the cake has shrunk away from the side, then it is cooked. You can also test whether the custard layer is cooked my inserting a sharp knife into the side of the cake. If there is no clear water on the knife, the custard is cooked. Remove the cake from the oven and invert into a plate immediately. Serve the cake well chilled!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Old Raffles Place, Collingwood

This place is probably one of the very few restaurants I've tasted in Melbourne that offers a very authentic taste of the Singaporean famous dishes outside of Singapore. They were famous for their Hainanese Chicken rice which my friends had ordered previously, and were looking forward to ordering again during this visit. Unfortunately, they ran out of their Hainanese chicken so we were forced to order something else instead. Apparently, their chickens were so popular that you actually have to book them in advance!

I ordered the Chicken Curry Laksa.
It was actually pretty good! Better than my experience at Laksa Me! They were very generous with the chicken pieces. The chicken breast pieces were so tender, which made me understand why their chicken rice is so popular.

Hor Fun. Rice noodles with egg sauce
I managed to steal a bite from my friend, and this dish was good! The sauce was cooked to the right consistency, and the rice noodles had the 'wok-hei' flavor.

Pineapple Fried rice
This had a bit of tomato flavor in it. I think my friends liked it, but I find it slightly bland.

Hokkien Mee
I didn't get to try this as I didn't want to deprive my friends of anymore food :p

Overall, I had a good experience with this restaurant, even though the food was a bit slow and their water tasted funny. It definitely satisfies my Singaporean/Malaysian food cravings!

The Old Raffles Place
70 Johnston St
Collingwood 3066, VIC
(03) 9417 4450

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chocolate Molten Cake--overbaked version

I tried to give Chubby Hubby's chocolate molten cake recipe another go yesterday, as my previous time, I couldn't remove it from the mould. This time I could, but as I cut through the cake, and waited anxiously. There was no lava was to be seen! I overbaked it! The cake still tasted great nevertheless! Last time I found the cake to be a little too sweet, so this time I decided to use 70% cocoa instead. It worked really well, especially with vanilla ice cream and raspberry coulis!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Char Siu House, North Melbourne

I met up with my cousins last night, and they suggested we eat at this little simple Chinese restaurant called "Char Siu House". The restaurant is located just a mere 10 minutes walk from their house, which is quite convenient for them when they have their Chinese food cravings. The restaurant seemed quite popular with take away food, and the atmosphere reminds me of the Malaysian hawker stalls. With the warm weather yesterday, I was almost convinced that we were in Penang! Here are some of the dishes we've ordered.

Half roast duck
The roast duck was better than I'd expected.
I found the one at Pacific House tastier and juicer.

Special Fried rice
This was slightly tasteless. I would expect normal Chinese takeway places to be very generous with their salt and MSG, but it tasted rather bland. It went well if you eat it together with the other dishes though.

Lemon chicken
This was probably my favorite dish! It was a lot better than I'd expected. The batter felt very light, and remained crispy! The chicken breast wasn't dry, and the sauce was flavored just nicely.

Stir-fried Vegetables with Tofu

Fried Chicken ribs with salt and chilli pepper
This was pretty good too. It wasn't as oily as the ones I've had in Pacific House or Rice Bar.

Stir-fried noodles or Char Kwoay Teow
This was quite disappointing. I think the only good part of this dish were the prawns.
The noodle itself was very bland.

Overall, this is a very reasonable Chinese restaurant. The waiters were quite friendly, with fast service, and the toilet was clean! The place wasn't very busy, so we were able to sit and chat around for a while, which are not usually possible in the usual busy Chinese Takeway type of restaurants around the city! So anytime you are around North Melbourne, on a low budget and looking for a fast, carefree restaurant, you can give Char Siu House a go. Pictures can be deceiving sometimes, as the first picture on this post actually looked a lot better than the actual restaurant itself :)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Yummy Banana Cakes

I don't really know how else to describe these banana cakes, I think they are just plain yummy! I really like this recipe because it was so easy to make. I've tried many other recipes, but this is probably my favorite one, due to it's simplicity and lovely texture. Some people prefer their banana cake to be dense, but I prefer mine to be moist and fluffy, and this recipe is exactly what I was looking for. The cupcake stays soft and very moist the next day! I reduced the oil and sugar from the original recipe, as I felt the cupcakes were a tad too oily the first time I made them.

Banana Cupcakes Adapted from Beebie's Recipe

200g cake flour
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
175 g canola oil
170 g caster sugar
215 g overripe banana, mashed
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven at 200 degree Celsius. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar together and set aside. Beat eggs, sugar, and salt on high for 8 minutes in a large bowl until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Slowly add in the the flour to the egg mixture and beat on low for 1 minute. Add the oil and continue to beat on medium for another 2 minute. Finally, add the bananas and vanilla, and beat on low for another minute. Pour into the prepared muffin tins, and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked. You can lower the temperature halfway through the cooking time if you feel the cupcakes are turning too dark.

With chocolate topping version

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Soft Fudge Topping

I made this cake on Tuesday night for my friend's birthday surprise. I've actually posted it on this blog before, but today I decided to make some pattern on top of the cake, instead of just pouring the fudge topping on the cake itself.

I've made chocolate chiffon cake several times, and this time, it turned out really well. There was no crack on the surface of the cake at all.

This is what I call my perfect Chiffon cake!

The bottom of the cake. Smooth and crease-free! Yay!

Normally chiffon cake are meant to be baked in a tube pan, but since it was for a birthday cake, I made it in a normal 8 inch round cake pan.

I love the texture of chiffon cake! It's light and moist, and since it uses canola oil instead of butter, it stays soft in the fridge!

Chocolate Chiffon Cake Recipe Adapted from Chef Umim's Recipe.

Mixture 1)
80 g cake flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
25 g cocoa powder
90 g caster sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Mixture 2)
50g water
25g evaporated milk
65g vegetable oil
2 egg yolks

Mixture 3)
2 egg whites
45 g caster sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat the oven at 180 degree Celsius.

Sift mixture 1) together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, mix mixture 2) together, then slowly pour into mixture 1) and mix together until just blended. Be careful not to overmixed, as this will make the cake tough.
Mixture 3): Beat the egg whites in a separate clean bowl with cream of tartar until foamy. Slowly add the caster sugar and beat until soft peaks form.

Gently fold Mixture 3) into the egg yolk batter. Be careful not to deflate the egg whites. Pour it into an 8 inch round mould and baked for 20-25 min or until the cake springs back when the surface is gently pressed. Remove from the oven, and knock on the table lightly to stabilize the cake structure.

Soft Fudge Topping

Mixture A)
1/2 tsp agar agar powder
150g water
100g evaporated milk
100g sugar
25g cocoa powder

Mixture B)
20g corn flour
75g evaporated milk

Mixture C)
75 g butter

Mix Mixture A) together and heat until well mixed and all the sugar has melted and the mixtures starts to simmer. Add in Mixture B) and reduce the heat. Make sure that the cornflour and the evaporated milk are well mixed before adding to mixture A) to avoid getting lumps in the fudge. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens, then add butter. After all the butter are melted, turn off the heat and keep stirring until the mixture cools down a little.

Slice the chiffon cake into two layers and sandwiched the cake with the soft fudge topping. Pour the remaining topping on top of the cake and refrigerate until the topping sets. It is important to keep stirring the topping mixture before you pour it on the cake or else the topping will not be smooth.

Alternatively, you can let the topping cool and pipe it onto the cake instead.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Random Japanese Snacks Review

While I was in Asian Groceries yesterday, my eyes spotted this little Japanese snack that was on sale. I decided to try it out since they looked so cute and adorable, and was on sale. I think this little snacks were meant to be little 'bamboo shoots'. They are actually just little pieces of biscuits coated with milk chocolates, resembling the shape of a bamboo shoot. I am still not sure how chocolates and bamboo shoots are related though. Maybe those who can read Japanese out there can help me :)

Anyway, I opened the cute little paper box, and the little snacks were carefully wrapped in a bag. I've always respected Japanese packaging, as they are always really neat, and most of the time, creative.

After I reached my hand inside the little bag, I immediately knew why these little bamboo shoots were on sale! I've seen these type of snacks' reviews on other blogs before, and the chocolate coating is usually smooth and shining. The ones I had were slightly melted, so the patterns on the them weren't as clear as they should have been. You can also see small little biscuit crumbs stuck on the chocolate itself. This probably wouldn't happen if the snacks weren't on sale. I suspect that they were probably on sale because of some mishandling during storage, maybe they were left out in the sun too long. That's just my speculation.

Despite the slightly melted appearance, these snacks still tasted pretty good. I wouldn't say they are fantastic, but they are definitely addictive! I still prefer my Aussie 'Teevees' though.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Refreshing Lemon Cake

I wanted to use up my left over lemons from the lemon swiss roll, so I decided to try out this lemon cake. It's actually adapted from an Orange Cake recipe I read about from a Thai Blog.
It's basically just two sponge cakes sandwiched together with this lemon jam. The lemon jam was made with lemon juice, lemon zest, some sugar to tone down the tartness of the lemon, and thickened with some cornflour. It worked out pretty well! I eliminated the butter that was in the original recipe as I prefer a more tangy and refreshing taste.

This cake is a lot lighter, and tasted less 'artery-clogging' compared to my previous mousse cake, but the mousse cake was definitely worth the risk :p

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Chocolate Mousse Cake

I attempted making my first chocolate mousse cake yesterday, after my successful attempt at the strawberry mousse cake. It was pretty easy as I made the mousse without including any eggs. The mousse was basically whipped cream, melted good quality chocolate, and some gelatin as stabilizer. It was probably one of the easier cakes I've made, and the results are pretty satisfying!