Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chinese Fried Rice

Ms. P told me that I would fall really sick after winter because I hadn't gotten ill during winter. Well, she was right! (damn her curse! ha). This week has been especially tough for me as I caught a very bad coughing bug last week. The cough has kept me up at night and caused me sleepless nights throughout the week. Despite hurting all over and coughing my lungs out, I had a really good week. I was working with a well-known food stylist and photographer on some food photography for my work (WOO HOOO!! I love food shoots!!). Long week it was! Starting at 8am and finishing late, I didnt manage to cook much the past week so I decided to do some cooking today.

I got my inspiration for dinner tonight from Not Quite Nigella's blog. I read her post about her mom's fried rice a few days ago and thought that would be perfect since I had 4-day old rice in the fridge. 

I am not one to follow recipes unless it is for baking. So I skim through her recipe and found one interesting step. She had said to mix the old rice with salt, sugar, sesame oil and white pepper first before frying it. I decided to adopt this step and to my surprise, the results were great!  

So, here's my recipe:
  • 6 cups of old rice (kept in the fridge for a few days to dry it out - never use freshly cooked rice)
  • 6 chinese sausage (lup cheong), diced (so many I know! YUM YUM)
  • 1/2 spanish onions, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of broccolini stems, diced (I used the top section for something else later)
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 eggs, whisked (add some water to thin it out)
  • 3 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • seasoning for old rice- 2 tbs soy sauce, 2 tbs sesame oil, generous sprinkle of white pepper, 1 tsp sugar, 2 tbs chinese wine (Shaoxing wine), combine all into a bowl to be added onto the old rice


Here's the instructions:
1. Add seasoning for old rice into the old rice until well combined, place aside
2. Use the eggs to fry an omelette, then broken into small pieces and place aside
3. Heat wok with vegetable oil, fry chopped onions until golden brown, remove from wok and place aside
4. Add sesame oil into the same wok, add diced carrots and chinese sausage. Fry for 2 mins
5. Add the diced broccolini stems and fry for additional 1 min
6. Add the pieces of omelette into the wok
7. Add the seasoned rice into the wok 
8. Fry everything for a few more minutes until everything is well combined
9. Remove and serve fried rice with the fried onions (and garnish with coriander, optional)





Now, I am usually not very good at plating my food but having worked with the food stylist and photographer this week inspired me to plate up the fried rice! Check out the coriander! lol



Hope you enjoy this recipe.

Cheers.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bau Truong, Cabramatta


I read about Bau Truong on Jennifer Lam's blog Jenius late last year but that review was on their latest opening in Marrickville. Ms J also has dined at the Marrickville branch and posted photos on Facebook which made me salivate. I knew amongst the few shops that Bau Truong has (and recalled reading a post by Helen on Grab Your Fork) one of them is in Cabramatta. So when Ms M asked if I would like to go on an eating day trip in Cabramatta, I immediately said yes!! 

We arrived at Cabramatta at about noon and started immediately with the popular Vietnamese pork roll (banh mi). We then had pork sauces on a stick, juices and various other foods, before we even sat down at Bau Truong for a proper lunch. Somehow, we all had 'expanded' stomachs on that day simply because we were at Cabramatta and were surrounded by food every step of the way.

Unlike the usual wait for a table, we got our table immediately as we arrived at Bau Truong. And as usual, I wanted to eat everything on the menu but was embarrassed to voice out my greed infront of Ms M and Mr C LOL! Anyways, here's what we ordered - all dishes to be served as they get cooked!

Prawn and jelly fish salad served with prawn crackers
Prawn and jelly fish salad - nicely assembled on the prawn cracker - ready to be eaten!!
The prawn and jelly fish salad was quite refreshing. I personally really like jelly fish because of its crunchy texture. The salad had a generous portion of cooked prawns (sliced into half), apples, cucumber and a sweet dressing, a tad too sweet for my liking. The whole dish needed something a little sour to give it the balance but it was all just sweet. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable dish.


Fish spring rolls
The fish spring rolls was my favourite! The fish filling's wrapped in a type of skin (different from regular Chinese spring rolls) which had a crispy yet slightly chewy texture. It reminded me a little of glutinous rice flour kind of texture which I love! In fact, both Ms M and Mr C also really liked this dish. I highly recommend it!


Grilled chicken with crispy sticky rice
The grilled chicken with crispy sticky rice cake was also very tasty. The chicken had a sweet caramelized charred skin but the meat was still juicy inside. The sticky rice is definitely pan fried as it has a crispy crust which is awesome with the chewy texture. Again, the sticky rice is also a bit sweet. So far, most of the dishes has been on the sweeter side, more sweet than my daily food intake.


Goat curry with baguette
Lastly, the goat curry! I love goat! Especially goat curry!! But when I say that, I would be referring to the Southern Indian goat curries and have definitely not tried Vietnamese style goat curry. This was my first time and it was indeed interesting. The curry was very watery, not thick like the curries I am used to. And again, it was really sweet! The spice flavours were quite mild for a curry. But the goat was tender and yummy. Unfortuntely, I dont take blood jelly eewwww!!! And if you are wondering what the brown square pieces are floating in the curry, yup, blood jelly it is! By the way, you need to soak the baguette soaked into the curry. The portion was quite small so we couldnt really use up the entire baguette in the curry as it wasn't enough to do the job. 

The aftermath
We were so full when we finished we couldnt move. So we sat and chatted for more than an hour. We had Vietnamese coffee which I didnt take a photo of. Very strong but it's just the way I like it. Overall, it was quite an enjoyable meal except for everything being a tad too sweet for my liking. Would I return? Yup just for the fish spring rolls! OOOLLAAALAAAA!!! And perhaps check out their Marrickville branch which is slightly a bit different (small plates/tapas style). 


Details:

Bau Truong, Cabramatta
Address: 42 John Street, Cabramatta, Sydney
Phone No.: 02-9727 4492    
Trading Hours: 7 days, 10am-11pm


Cheers.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Grounds of Alexandria, Alexandria



I read about The Ground of Alexandria from Grab Your Fork blog and was intrigued by the concept. The chicken and greens served at this place are 'grown' from the grounds itself (not all but some). How interesting is that? People nowadays are constantly looking for healthier and fresher food options both in-home and out-of-home dining, so it doesnt surprise me that this place would be packed full of people, and I was right. Interestingly, when I ate at 4143 at the James Barnes with Ms. M last year about the same time, there was no The Grounds of Alexandria. 4143 was all alone on that huge piece of concrete land. I pointed out to Ms J that I had the best wagyu beef burger at 4143 and hoped that they still served it there in their lunch special menu.

Anyways, Ms. J and I arrived at The Grounds of Alexandria at about 11.45am and couldnt order because the restaurant stops orders from 11.30am-12pm and we could only have drinks. Breakfast menu stops at 11.30am and lunch menu starts at 12. I had a skim latte and OJ. Ms J couldnt have coffee, so it was just the OJ.



I couldnt decide what to have, it was either the slow roasted shredded lamb shoulder sandwich or this herbed crumbed chicken schnitzel with salsa verde and house slaw. I ended up with the latter. I havent had chicken breast this juicy, succulent and tender. OMG!! It was delish!!!! The salsa verde added flavour and gave the chicken abit more moisture (as a sauce does) but it was very mild indeed. The house slaw was made with an oil-based dressing so it wasnt the usual mayonnaise coleslaw. It was tangy, perfect accompaniment to something fried as it cuts through the oiliness (not that this schnitzel was oily, it was perfectly cooked!). I highly recommend this dish. Oh my..if only the portion was larger (only because I am greeedy!!!)..haha...on a serious note, the serving size was perfect for lunch.
Herbed chicken schnitzel with salsa verde and slaw

Ms. J had the meatballs in tomato sauce which was served with 2 pieces of bread. We both noticed immediately after tasting the meatball sauce that something of lacking. The tomato flavour was too light and we couldnt taste much of the herbs. Ms. J then said she's had better (even at home cooked by Chef Raf). I would have to agree with her. The dish lacked depth..it was really cheesy alright which we both liked..but overall flavour of the sauce and the meatballs needed an extra punch - either more garlic, herbs, maybe some balsamic vinegar to add to the tang and sweetness and definitely more tomato flavour in the sauce.
Mealballs in tomato sauce and bread

We sat and chatted for a while after we ate. We liked the open kitchen concept. And the cute lady chef with her dreadlocks! We wanted to have dessert but was too full. Next door was the take-away section. The display cabinet had muffins, danishes, and a variety of tarts and pastries. I will definitely be back with Babs if the long queue doesnt put us off..haha..

Details:
The Grounds of Alexandria
Address: Building 7A, No.2 Huntley St Alexandria, NSW
Phone: 02- 9699 2235
Website: http://groundsroasters.com/

Cheers.

Cafe Sopra, Waterloo



I first saw food photos from Cafe Sopra (via Foodspotting) about a year ago, but only recently had the chance to dine there. I failed at my first attempt, meeting a friend at 9am for breakfast, when it only opens at 10am on a Sunday. A few weeks later, on Mother's Day (yes, it has been a while...) we got the bar seats for lunch (4 of us) after waiting for 1+hours. The sea of people waiting to get in, and having champagne at the bar while doing so was crazy. It wasnt because it was Mother's Day - we didnt see that many tables with kids or children with their 'mom', it's just packed popular all the time! So guys, if you want to dine here, plan for it and be first in line when the cafe opens! And yes, it is located above Fratelli Fresh at Waterloo.

The first thing you will notice is the huge menu board. It's really extensive and I just wanted to eat everything on it!!! You will see the waiter crossing out items from time to time, so better be quick because when we wanted to order the stuffed zucchini flowers, it had already run out!! ARGHHH!!

Prosciutto with bocconcini and fresh figs
So no zucchini flowers. But, prosciutto yup! The flavour was quite mild, which I like. It paired so beautifully with the fresh figs, bocconcini and herbs with a generous drizzle of olive oil and cracked black pepper. Gorgeous start to a meal.


Smoked Trout fish cake with capers mayo and soft boiled eggs
For the main, I had the smoked trout fish cake. I complained (in my heart, of course) when I first was served because it looked quite small. But as I started to eat it, I realised that the cake is packed solid with trout and potatoes (similar to a croquette). It was nicely crumbed and incredibly tasty with the extra salty crunch which the sea salt flakes added to the texture. The capers mayonnaise was ohh so moorish, however, there wasnt enough of it. I felt the dish was a little bit 'dry' and needed more sauce.


Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Taleggio cheese
Ms. M had the gnocchi with mushrooms and taleggio cheese. The gnocchi was pan fried, so there was this extra crispy skin that added flavour. Im not a big fan of the boiled gnocchi with pasta sauce, so pan fried is the way to go for me. They were generous with the mushrooms! Rich and extremely tasty. Definitely for the gnocchi lovers and for new 'converts'.


Spaghettini with crab, chilli & garlic
Ms. S and Mr. A had the same main dish i.e. spaghettini with crab, chilli & garlic. Oddly, the pasta didnt look like a spaghettini - too thick and was more like spaghetti. It was a clean dish. Very light and tasty. Maybe not for someone like me to likes very strong flavours.


Banoffee Pie
We all had the Banoffee Pie for dessert. Oh my oh my!!! I inhaled the pie and by the second I was done, I felt extremely happy (like a puppy dog woof woof). The pie base was oh so delicious. I wondered how much butter they used in the recipe. I could hardly get the big stainless steel fork to cut through the pie and was afraid the pie might end up doing the 'flying trapeze' show LOL!!! Only comment I have on this is there was too much fresh cream and not enough bananas. The bananas were too thinly sliced, I could barely taste it with everything else. But the caramel...OoooOOLaaaaaLaaaaaaa!! Heavenly!

I would definitely return and try the other items on the huge menu board. And for those of you who havent been here, JUST DO IT!! lol

Details:
Cafe Sopra, Waterloo
Address: 7 Danks Street, Waterloo NSW 2017
Phone No.: 02-9699 3174      
Opening Hours: Monday - Friday 10am - 3pm, Saturday 8am - 3pm, Sunday 10am - 3pm
Note: No bookings taken

Cheers.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Spiderman Cake


Last year it was a Batman cake. This year it is Spidey. How time flies. C & SL's son celebrated his 6th birthday yesterday. It is still so clear in my mind when I could actually pick him and his brother up with both hands and run around the park. He is now up to my chest! 

I have been out of practice for a while now. But I somehow still got 'it'. The ganache layers were smooth and the fondant covering was smooth with equal thickness throughout. The  flourless orange and almond cake was moist and not too sweet so that it could be eaten with the fondant (usually people just remove the fondant because it is too sweet to eat). And no oil/butter in the cake recipe as well. Not to mention I boiled 3 large oranges and pureed them to add into the cake batter. Yes, I am trying to make healthier cakes :) And most importantly, I got 6 kisses from JR for the cake!! (soon enough there will be no more kisses for Aunty Lay...so better take advantage now hey! hahaha).

There you have it. A simple Spiderman cake. I took a shortcut with the figurine because I had a sore back. But looks alright yeah? :) Could be better (the perfectionist in me talking!). Maybe next year..hope it doesnt get harder year on year.

Cheers.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Three Blue Ducks @ Bronte


I read about Three Blue Ducks cafe some time back from notquitenigella's food blog and wanted to try out the place but somehow it got lost in the super long list of mine. Then when Masterchef had the 3 chefs from Three Blue Ducks participate in a challenge, 'ting ting ting', I remembered and immediately suggested to Ms J to meet there for lunch on Saturday. We were lucky, got there about 12.15pm and only had to wait 5 mins to get a table. Unfortunately, we missed the breakfast menu by 10 mins, and so we went for the lunch menu instead. I was eye-ing other table's food and the baked eggs with chorizo looked amazing. I didnt catch anyone having the pancakes but it sure sounds delish.

Service was prompt. Drinks were served fast, coffee was good.

single origin coffee - skim flat white $4

Mr R ordered the crispy skin ocean trout with wakame & cucumber salad with wasabi mayo, Ms J ordered pork belly with chilli jam, enoki mushrooms & asian greens, babs got the braised beef cheek, burnt onion, mustard seeds & celery and I got the steak sandwich with red pepper mayo, tomato, onion marmalade & rocket. I managed to snap some photos with my iPhone camera but they didnt come out too good..arghhhh!!

crispy skin ocean trout with wakame & cucumber salad with wasabi mayo $24

pork belly with chilli jam, enoki mushrooms & asian greens $26

braised beef cheek, burnt onion, mustard seeds & celery $26

steak sandwich with red pepper mayo, tomato, onion marmalade & rocket $16

Everyone let me taste a small bite of their dish and I was really liking them all. The ocean trout was still pink and that's the way it should be served. The pork belly was so soft as melted in my mouth! The beef cheek needed no effort, it was braised beautifully and tender was an understatement. The 2 ladies next to me ordered the calamari with pearl barley and roast pumpkin & goat's cheese salad, and they looked beautiful. 

Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed with my steak sandwich. I was so looking forward to enjoying a beautifully cooked piece of steak (expectations of ex-fine dining chefs) but I was served the total opposite. I was told by the waiter that the steak would be served medium rare, what I got was 3 mini slices of over cooked pieces of beef. What happened to the juice piece of medium rare steak? :(  I was so disappointed, I stopped, wiped my fingers and peeled open the sandwich so I could take a photo of it. Ms J asked about the flavours, and although it tasted fine, I couldnt comment as I was still imagining that piece of juicy meat that was at that point... imaginary. Sadly but truely, I have had much better steak sandwiches served in pubs. Three Blue Ducks - if you read this, please serve a nicely cooked medium rare juicy piece of steak :) And I will for sure come back and re-order :)

Not the kind of steak sandwich I would expect :(

After lunch, I walked over to the other side of the restaurant and ordered 3 pieces of dessert - baked chocolate tart, lemon meringe tart and a slice of chocolate brownie. The chocolate tart was interesting, it had some kind of alcohol in the filling - I suspect it was rum, Mr R said brandy. It could be Kirsch or even chocolate wine....hhhmmmm....anyways, the lemon meringue tart was nice, it had a good balance of flavours. The only comment on the 2 tarts were the tart shells were thin but hard. I had to use 2 hands to cut it through with the fork. The chocolate brownie is ok.

The 4 of us chatted until 3pm. Had lots to catch up hehehe. Total bill came up to $140. I suppose it was ok since babs and Mr R had 2 coffees, and I and Mr R had a juice on top of the coffees. 

So, dear readers, tell  me where did you have the best or the worst steak sandwich?

Details:
Three Blue Ducks
141-143 Macpherson st
Bronte NSW 2024

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Sunday - Breakfast: 7am - 11:30am; Lunch: 12midday - 2:30pm
Dinner (wed, thu, fri, sat) - 6pm - 11pm
Dinner bookings only


Cheers.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hummingbird Cupcakes



It was Ms. Nat's birthday and I thought it was a great excuse for me to bake. The last time I baked was when the cake took 3 days to finish! Ms. Nat wanted hummingbird cake, so she got just that. Instead of the usual large cake, I decided to make cupcakes, it's cuter too!

I used the recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook but as usual, modified it according to my taste.

To make 34 cupcakes, I used the following proportions:

Ingredients


  • 450g caster sugar
  • 4 extra large free range eggs (room temperature)
  • 450ml sunflower oil
  • 400g peeled super ripe bananas, mashed (approximately 5 large bananas)
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 430g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g tinned crushed pineapple, remove syrup
  • 250g shelled pecans and walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 34 paper cups
  • muffin tray


Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C
  2. Put the sugar, eggs, oil, banana and cinnamon in large mixing bowl - mix with wooden spoon until ingredients are well combined
  3. Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and vanilla extract and continue to mix with wooden spoon until everything is well mixed.
  4. Stir in the crushed pineapple, pecans and walnut until evenly dispersed.
  5. Spoon mixture into paper cups 3/4 full and place into muffin tray
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown 
  7. Remove cupcakes from muffin tray and place on  wire cooling rack to cool completely
  8. Once cooled completely, ice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting 
  • 600g pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 250g cold cream cheese, cut into small cubes
  1. Beat the icing sugar and butter together until it's well mixed. 
  2. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. 
  3. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. 
  4. Do not overbeat as it can quickly become runny
  5. Place frosting into piping bag with the desired piping tip
  6. Ice cupcakes


Have fun!

Cheers.