Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy Anzac Day with homemade Anzac Cookies!

This is the first time I actually tried my hands on making these cookies, and I must say they are really simple and quick to make! I love the freshly baked smell of the desiccated coconut! Since it's Anzac day this coming Friday, I decided to put up this recipe in case anyone want to get into the holiday mood and make their own Anzac cookies.

Oaty Anzac Biscuits from Donna Hay's Modern Classics 2 (again)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
2 tbs golden syrup
125g butter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbs hot water

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Place the oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a bowl. Place the golden syrup and butter in a saucepan over low heat and allow to melt. Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the water and add to the butter mixture. Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well.
Place tablespoonfuls of the mixture on baking trays lined with nonstick baking paper, allowing room for the biscuits to spread, and flatten slightly. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks. Makes 22.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sticky Date Pudding

The first time I had sticky date pudding was when I was in my first year of University and staying at a residential college, and I fell in love with it instantly. It was during winter back then, so the warm and sticky pudding was really comforting. The weather has been getting colder in Melbourne now, so I decided to make this pudding to keep myself warm and reminisce about my University days.

Sticky Toffee Date Pudding from Donna Hay's Modern Classics 2

200g pitted dates, finely chopped
1/3 cup boiling water
100g butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup milk

toffee sauce
200 g butter, chopped
1 cup cream
1 2/3 cup brown sugar

Place the dates in a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Set aside until the water has been absorbed. Preheat the oven to 180 c. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Add the eggs gradually and beat well. Sift the flour and baking powder over the mixture, add the milk and dates and stir to combine. Spoon the mixture into a greased 8 inch square cake tin and bake for 40 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. While the pudding is cooking, make the toffee sauce. Place the butter, cream and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and simmer rapidly for 5-8 minutes or until the sauce is thick. To serve, cut the pudding into thick slices and pour over the warm toffee sauce. Serves 6.

Some people prefer to soak their cake inside the toffee sauce, but I find that overly sweet. Feel free to put as much sauce as you want, or none if you love the cake plain. I can say that the cake is great by itself too! Enjoy!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Strawberry Mousse Cake

I think this cake is also known as Strawberry Mirror Cake. I've made these in an 8 inch cake tin before, this time I decided to make the cake into individual portion. I think this Mousse cake so versatile and presentable, which made them great as an after-dinner desserts. I made some in ramekins, and others in plastic coverings, both were equally delicious. I've also put two layers of cake in some and one in others, it depends on how much mousse to cake ratio you like. As I said, it's all really versatile and you can adjust it to your liking!

Strawberry Mousse Cake Recipe Adapted from Khun Jum

Cake base: Use your favorite sponge cake recipe. Bake in a swiss roll pan and cut out using a cookie cutter to fit your ramekins.

Strawberry Mousse:
250 g strawberries
100 g water
160 g caster sugar
4 tsp powdered gelatin
400 g cream

Wash and hull the strawberries and place in a sauce pan. Add the water, caster sugar, and gelatin and simmer until all the gelatin dissolves. Cool the mixture and blend the mixture in a blender or food processor until the mixture is pureed.
Beat the cream in a separate bowl until just thickened, not soft or stiff peaks! Be careful not to overbeat the cream which will result in a stiff mousse. Fod in the strawberry puree mixture and mix until well blended.
Place a layer of the cake at the bottom of the ramekin, and pour the mousse mixture on top. Chill for 2-3 hours. Add the strawberry jelly on top for decoration. I was lazy so I used the store bought jelly powder instead of making it from scratch. Chill for 4 more hrs or overnight and decorate with strawberry fans.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Quick Lunch @ Pacific BBQ Cafe

After reading about Pacific BBQ cafe opening on Lonsdale Street from Tummy Rumbles while I was in Bangkok a few months back, I finally got to try it on Friday. The restaurant is bigger than its Richmond and Toorak siblings, with brighter lightings. The place is still as busy as ever, but the turnover is very fast which was good.

I ordered the roast duck on rice while my cousin had the roast pork on rice. Their roast duck is still as good as ever with the duck being succulent and moist! They also have special chili sauce which contained fried anchovies or ikan bilis!

The service here was better than I'd expected. I asked for extra sauce for the rice and the waiter happily gave it to us. The waitress even thank us after we finished our meal which was different from the usual ' Pacific House' service! I'm so glad Pacific House opened a branch in the city. Now I don't have to drag myself to Toorak or Richmond whenever I have a duck craving anymore!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes with Chocolate Mint Frosting

Since I had leftover mint from making Laab (a Thai minced pork salad), I decided to make use of them and made these little cupcakes. This is the first time I used mint in desserts. I have always thought that I had to blend in the mint, but from this recipe, I simply had to soak it in hot water! The feedback from my friends were quite positive, so I guess this recipe is a keeper. Reduce the mint in the frosting if you don't want the mint taste to be overpowering.

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes with Chocolate Mint Frosting

Adapted Australian Good Taste - February 2006 , Page 18
Recipe by Sarah Hobbs

2 sprigs fresh mint
1/2 cup boiling water
50 g good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
65.5 g butter, at room temperature
127.5g brown sugar
1.5 eggs
75g self-raising flour
27g almond meal
15g cocoa powder
6 small fresh mint leaves for decoration

Chocolate Mint Frosting
92.5 g thickened cream
1 sprig fresh mint
100g good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Line twelve muffin pans with paper cases.
  2. Place the mint in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour over the boiling water and set aside for 30 minutes to infuse.
  3. Strain the water through a sieve into a small saucepan, pressing the mint with the back of a spoon to release any excess water. Discard mint. Add the chocolate to the water and stir over low heat for 5 minutes or until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool.
  4. Use an electric beater to beat together butter and brown sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, beating well after each addition until just combined. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour, almond meal and cocoa. Add the chocolate mixture and stir until just combined. Spoon mixture among prepared muffin pans. Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centers comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and set aside for 30 minutes to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Brush both sides of a mint leaf lightly with egg white. Sprinkle both sides of the leaf with caster sugar and place on prepared tray to dry. Repeat with the remaining mint leaves, egg white and caster sugar.
  6. To make the choc mint frosting, place cream and mint in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes to infuse. Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Strain the cream through a sieve into the bowl with the chocolate, pressing gently with the back of a spoon to remove any excess cream. Discard mint. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water). Stir occasionally with a metal spoon until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Set aside for 15 minutes to cool slightly. Pour frosting into a jug.
  7. Pour frosting over cakes, tapping cakes lightly on a level work surface to spread the frosting. Place a sugared mint leaf on each cake to serve.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Taiwan Eating Trip Vol IV

This is probably the final post for my Taipei eating trip. Overall, I had a great time there and would love to go back!

Japanese Ramen at Taipei 101 Food court. This was a huge bowl, and I saw lots of Taiwanese girls ordering it! Again, emphasizing that Taiwanese girls can eat!

We also dropped by Din Tai Fung again for their Xiao Long Bao before we left. This time, we also tried their Ja Jiang Mien, however it was very different from what I'd expected. Didn't taste like the same dish to me. Maybe it was Taiwanese style.

Famous Croissant ice cream at one of the 'Old Street'. Be aware if you were to try this in Taipei, there are several shops selling the 'famous croissant'. Make sure you buy from the stall that has lots of customers or the ones that allow you to sample their croissant. We learned it the hard way as we got too excited and bought it from the first shop we came across. It tasted horrible, and I almost had a bad impression about the croissants in Taipei. However, after we've samples the croissants from some other shops, I must say they are pretty good!

Beef Noodle at Taipei Airport! It was surprisingly good! The noodles had a nice chew.

One of my favorite snacks in Taiwan was pineapple shortbread. I've discovered 2 brands that I like after trying a few, and bought some back to Bangkok for souvenirs. These 'real' pineapple shortbreads are very fresh and they have a fairly short shelf-life, around 30-45 days. Unlike the ones I find in the Asian Groceries in Melbourne, which tasted dry and has a shelf life of 1-2 years!

This one has a prettier packaging. The shortbread itself was nice and crunchy and buttery.

This was wrapped in waxed paper. The crust is slightly chewier and less crunchy. The pineapple filing is not overly sweet.

I personally preferred the latter one as I like the softer/chewier texture of the shortbread. It also doesn't leave a floury after-taste like the first one. My sister, however, preferred the first one. Despite the differences in texture, these two brands are still the best I've had so far. Do check them out if you are ever in Taiwan!

The Famous Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these famous Neiman Marcus cookies a few days ago when a friend complained to me that he was hungry. Ok, that was really just an excuse for me to try out new recipe. Since I had all the ingredients on hand and the recipe looked easy enough, I decided to give them a go! I think they are quite famous for being Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, but somehow I ended up with a different result. The cookies were nice and chewy, with a crispy edge when they first came out of the oven. To my horror, when I gave them to a friend a day later, it turned into crunchy chocolate chip cookies! The cookies were actually well-packed in airtight containers too!

I suspect I may have overbaked them! Another reason I could think of was probably that there are less fat content inside these cookies, compared to the other ones I've tried. Nevertheless, they still tasted great, crunchy or chewy! Especially with the lovely hint of the espresso coffee!

Do give these cookies a go and let me know how they turned out for you!

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe