Friday, 24 February 2012

Pandan Mania!


For those who do not know what Pandan is, it is a leaf that is generally used to add flavour to food, by either being wrapped around the food or infused with a cream or milk. I have a slight obsession with pandan, and along with my friends we constantly crave for some of the pandan waffles you can get from Cabramatta. With that little obsession inside of me, I decided to make pandan waffles and pandan  ice cream!

Pandan waffles (A recipe guided by vietworldkitchen)
Ingredients (original)
1 cup of plain flour
7 tablespoons sugar 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, separated
1 cup coconut milk 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoon pandan extract

**NOTE: You can generally purchase pandan extract/essence from most Vietnamese grocery stores.

Method: (When I made this I doubled the recipe)
1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, bicarbonate soda and baking powder.
2. In a jug combine coconut milk, egg yolk, butter and pandan extract.
3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently stir using a rubber spatula. Set aside momentarily 
**NOTE: Expect the batter to be thick and somewhat lumpy. Avoid over stirring. 

4. Use an electric mixer to beat the egg white until a firm peak and use the rubber spatula to gently fold in the egg white into the mixture.
5. Heat up your waffle iron and spread a decent amount of batter onto the waffle iron, cooking as waffle iron instructions.
 **NOTE: Every waffle iron is different, but general rule is to stop the mixture about 1cm from the edge as when you close the lid the mixture spreads across. Cook the waffle until golden brown.
6. To remove the waffle, I would advise to use wooden chopsticks. This will allow you to lift up the waffle without tearing the waffle.

Pandan Ice-cream (guided by userealbutter)
1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup sugar
2 cups cream
pinch salt
5 pandan leaves, each tied in a knot
6 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pandan extract

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream, and salt over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
2. When the milk begins to steam, remove from heat and place the pandan leaves in the cream. **NOTE: I used fresh pandan leaves, so I wet them a bit and then tied them into a knot.
3. Cover and steep for 30 minutes. (steep: means to leave in the liquid so the flavours becomes infused)
4. Whisk the egg yolks in a separate medium bowl.
5. Strain and slowly pour the cream mixture (with the pandan leaves) into the egg yolks while whisking (this is to temper so the eggs don’t curdle).
6. Scrape everything back into the saucepan and set over medium heat.
7. Constantly stir the custard, scraping the sides and bottom until it thickens.
8. Place remaining cup of cream in a large bowl and set aside.
9. Remove custard from heat and strain into the cream (cold cream).
10. Stir in the pandan extract until well-blended.
11. Let the custard cool and then refrigerate (covered) until it is completely chilled.
12. Churn using an ice cream maker, per the manufacturer’s instructions.

This was my first time making ice cream, and it was a great success! It had a natural taste, with a creamy smooth texture. This was definitely one of those moments in my life, where I felt that I have achieved something really great (may seem strange but the power of good food can do that sometimes). All the people who were lucky enough to try it enjoyed every spoonful, and some even said it was better then some restaurants (which was a huge compliment). From this success, I am very keen to try to make other ice cream flavours.

Good food, good times!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Newtown Bites


I woke up one morning, and thought I need an afternoon of good company and great food. I messaged one of my close friends and decided, lets go to Newtown, and off we went to some of our favourite places and venturing to some new ones.

First stop: Luxe Bakery (195 Missenden Road, Newtown NSW 2042)
No matter the sweet craving I always have to go for savoury first to set the mood. So we decided to start our Netown bites with some savoury brunch delights.

Toasted herby chicken with prolone cheese, lettuce + tangy orange sauce $10

I have yet to try a bad sandwich at Luxe Bakery, and that streak continues. I had a taste of what was one great sandwich, with the moist chicken and orange sauce. I wished the sauce had a bit of a stronger taste, nevertheless it was wonderful. 

House cured trout with hash browns, poached egg & truffle oil $16

The house cured trout is my idea of a good lunch. Everything on the plate works well together, and the perfectly poached egg gives the dish that little extra kick. This is my second time having this dish, and compared to the first time, the trout didn't have a lightly dill coat. The dill definitely makes a difference to the taste, adding another level of freshness to the trout.

Second Stop: The Pie Tin (1a Brown Steet, Newtown NSW 2042)
Let the sweets begin! This was our debut to The Pie Tin, after seeing chocolatesuze post a photo of some awesome looking pies she was eating, I had to get in on the action. Walking into The Pie Tin and seeing all the pies in the glass cabinet, made them all look irresistible. Flavours including apple, chocolate brownie, strawberry, snickers, oreo, pumpkin, coconut custard, raspberry & lime jelly and more! After a good 5 minutes, we finally decided on which sweet pies to get.


 Pie prices: $6.50 - $7.50

We purchased American sweet pumpkin, and coconut custard pie. The pumpkin pie was my favourite of the two, it wasn't to sweet, but it was sweet enough to just hit the spot. The coconut custard pie was relatively light. It had more of an egg custard filling, compared to a vanilla custard filling. Which didn't quite tickle my fancy, but tasted nice regardless. The coconut added a little extra sweetness.

Third Stop: Gelatomassi (262 King St, Newtown NSW 2042)
I read about Gelatomassi in a SMH article titled Sydney's tastiest gelato. Not realising where it was located until we walked passed it on the way to luxe, I made sure we came back for a taste. Ice-cream is a weakness for me, especially at a place like Gelatomassi where there are plenty of flavours to choose from.

Price range: From $4.50
After sampling a few flavours, we chose pistachio and dark chocolate, due to Four Square where most people stated they enjoyed these flavours. The sweetness of the pistachio complimented the bitterness of the dark chocolate resulting in an awesome combination of flavours. The texture of the ice cream was smooth, and creamy, yet not too milky. It reminded of the ice cream at Pompeii (in Bondi) but Gelatomassi is cheaper and I think will be one of my new favourite spots to eat ice cream.

Final Stop: Black Star Pastry (277 Australia Street, Newtown NSW 2042)
The journey ends at one of Newtown's hot spots, famous for there chocolate éclair and watermelon cake, Black Star Pastry. The main reason we went there was to try there new granita, that was a limited edition summer item, but they didn't make it on the day, so instead we chose the blueberry lavender tart ($6) and lemon meringue tart with basil jelly ($6).

The blueberries on the tart had a sugar coating, which I personally didn't like too much. It made the tart a bit too sweet for my liking. I am unsure to what the filling of the tart was but it was nice and light, and went well with blueberries that weren't coated in sugar. Nevertheless, a well flavoured sweet sensation.

The lemon meringue tart with basil jelly was definitely interesting. The thing I found intriguing was the shape of the dessert, and the perfectly torched lines on the meringue. The meringue with the lemon curd tasted typical to a normal lemon meringue tart, however the basil jelly is what made a difference. The basil jelly added a 'herby' taste to the dessert, which worked strangely well with the sour lemon and sweet meringue. After a while, the lemon became a bit overpowering, but I wouldn't have expected any less.

Good food, good times!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Birthday Dinner Party


As a VERY late birthday present I owed my friend Lisa a home-cooked birthday dinner and that is what I made and invited 2 of our other close friends over for a lovely meal. After a few weeks of thinking of what to make I decided on the following things; Cheese & chive soufflé, piri-piri chicken (by Jamie Oliver) sided with roast pumpkin, mixed leaf, beetroot, nectarine & grapefruit salad, and for dessert vanilla panna cotta with a blueberry jelly and sauce.
Cheese and Chive Souffle (serves 4-6)
  • Melted butter, to grease
  • Dried (packaged) breadcrumbs, to dust
  • 30g butter
  • 2 tbs plain flour
  • 310ml (1 1/4 cups) milk
  • 80g (1 cup) coarsely grated cheddar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • 4 eggs, separated

  • 1. Place a baking tray in the oven and preheat oven to 200°C. Lightly grease ramekins (including the rims) with melted butter and dust with breadcrumbs. (Depending on the size of your ramekins depends on how many soufflés the recipe makes)
2. Using a medium saucepan, melt the butter (30g) until foaming (not burning or caramelising). Add the flour, stirring and cook for approximately 2 minutes, or until mixture begins to bubble and comes away from the sides of the saucepan. Remove from heat.
3. Whisking constantly with a balloon whisk, gradually pour in the milk until mixture is smooth and combined.
4. Place the saucepan back on medium heat and bring to boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat. (This step is a bit difficult to determine, so what I did was judging from how the liquid ran along the back of the wooden spoon). Set the mixture aside to cool for a few minutes.
5. Add the cheddar, chives and egg yolks, and stir until cheddar melts and the mixture is well combined. (Add the yolks one at a time and stir straight away to avoid the eggs from curdling.)
6. Use an electric beater, beat the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until firm peaks form. Fold in one-third of the egg white to the cheese mixture until just combines. Add the remaining egg white mixture until just combined.
7. Pour the souffle mixture into prepared ramekin. (Ensure you do not drop any mixture on the rim of the ramekins as this will result in the soufflé sticking and not popping up like a top hat)
8. Place souffles on pre-heated baking tray and back for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. ( soufflés  are best when they are slightly runny.)
9. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

**NOTE: My souffle got stuck to the sides of the rim because the original recipe said to run something along the rim to get the top hat effect, which resulted in the removal of the breadcrumbs and NOT getting the top hat effect. And it was a bit over cooked.

Piri-Piri Chicken - Serves 4 (Recipe from Jamie Oliver - 30 minute meals)

I doubled the original recipe so it was 2 pieces per person, it depends on what sides you are having and how hungry the people you are feeding are.

Ingredients (original recipe)
4 large chicken thighs, skin on and bones in
1 red capsicum (sliced into strips)
1 yellow or green capsicum (sliced into strips)
6 sprigs of fresh thyme

Piri-piri sauce
1 red onion (roughly chopped)
4 cloves of garlic
1-2 bird's eye chillies
2 tablespoons sweet smoked paprika
Zest of 2 lemons
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcester sauce
large bunch of basil

Piri-piri sauce:
In a blender add all the piri-piri sauce ingredients, and blitz until smooth. Add a bit of water (no more than 1/4 cup) for a smoother sauce. Leave aside.

1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. And put a large griddle plan on a high heat.
2. Slash the chicken a few times on each side. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Put on the griddle pan, skin side down. Cook until golden and turn over.
3. Add the sliced capsicum to the pan. Turn the heat down to medium and keep moving the capsicums around until softened.
4. Place the chicken in a roasting tray, laying the capsicums on top. Pour the ready made piri-piri sauce on top.

5. Scatter sprigs of thyme on top of the sauce and place in the middle of the oven.
6. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

Mixed leaves salad bag
1-2 nectarines
1 pink grapefruit
1 can of beetroot wedges.

1. Cut the nectarine in half, to remove the seed and slice.
2. Peel the grapefruit, (including the inner skin) and cut into wedges.
3. Drain the can of beetroot.
4. Combine all into a salad bowl.

Roasted Pumpkin
Pumpkin - approximately half (I used Kent, but if you prefer other pumpkin then use them.)
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Rosemary (or mixed herbs)

1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2. Line a baking tray with grease proof paper.
3. Peel the pumpkin and cut into wedges. (All roughly the same size so they cook evenly)
4. Place the pumpkin on the baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt, pepper and rosemary.
5. Bake in the oven (on middle or highest in the oven) for at least 1 hour, or until tender.

**NOTE: The base of some of my pumpkin pieces burnt because I forgot to rotate and move the tray to a different level in the oven.

Panna Cotta (with a blueberry jelly)

There is 2 ways to make this; you can either make it so you turn out the panna cotta on a plate or that you eat the panna cotta out of a ramekin or cup. In this case I made it so I turned it out onto a plate. If you make it the other way, then make the panna cotta first, and then the blueberry jelly.

Panna cotta
  • 3 teaspoons powdered gelatine
  • 1 cup thickened cream
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Blueberry syrup
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 125g blueberries

Blueberry Jelly
1/3 cup of blueberry syrup
1 teaspoon of gelatine

Blueberry Syrup

1. Start by making the blueberry syrup. Place sugar, vanilla bean paste and 2/3 cup of cold water in a saucepan over a medium heat.

2. Lightly stir for 3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves (don't boil).

3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 7 minutes or until slightly thickened.

4. Add blueberries, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until berries start to collapse.

5. Remove from heat, and cool for 10 minutes.
6. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Blueberry jelly
1. Lightly grease four 1/2 cup - capacity moulds with non stick spray. (Similar to these moulds)

2. Strain 1/3 cup of blueberry syrup into a jug (or bowl).

3. Sprinkle over 1 teaspoon of gelatine and whisk immediately until gelatine dissolves. 

4. Pour mixture evenly amongst prepared moulds, and cover with plastic wrap.

5. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until set.

Panna cotta

1. Place cream, buttermilk and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, by stirring for 6-8 minutes, or until simmering (don't boil).

2. Stir in vanilla bean paste, and pour mixture into a heat proof bowl.
3. Sprinkle of gelatine, one teaspoon at a time and whisk immediately. (This is to avoid the gelatine from clumping). Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

4. Take prepared moulds out of refrigerator and check is jelly has set.

5. Carefully pour buttermilk mixture, over the back of the metal spoon into each mould. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.
6. Turn out the pannacotta and spoon over blueberry syrup and serve.

**As you can see, my blueberry jelly didn't turn out quite right (there was meant to be a layer of jelly on top, then panna cotta), but still tasted nice!

**NOTE: If the jelly has not completely set through, but the top has, pour a few teaspoons of the buttermilk mixture on top (just to cover the jelly) and place in the freezer for 15-30 minutes (this is to avoid the blueberry jelly from running through the pannacotta). Once that layer of pannacotta has set, you can continue to pour more of the buttermilk mixture and refrigerate.

Turning out the pannacotta
There are a few ways to do this, but the easiest way is shown by a helpful hint provided by taste, titled How to turn out panna cotta. Another way to turn them out is to run a round bladed knife around the pannacotta and hope they turn out onto the place. You can also run a blow torch around the moulds to loosen the panna cotta and gently tap it against the place.

Overall the dinner turned out great, and everything was eaten! The panna cotta was definitely the highlight as it was my first time making it, and it was quite a success (despite the blueberry jelly). I really hope all my friends enjoyed the dinner! And another late birthday shout out to my lovely friend Lisa! HAPPY BIRTHDAY LISA!

Good food, good times!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Temasek @ Parramatta Roxy Arcade


All food lovers should be able to relate to this "That sad moment when you are really craving to go to a restaurant and you find out that they are closed for a few weeks." Temasek  was closed for about a month over and Christmas and New Years and I had an extreme craving. So on the first day it re-opened, a friend planned for the oz tag team to go there to eat dinner. This resulted in CRAVING FULLFILLED!

Temasek is a restaurant that combines different traditional dishes from China, Malaysia and Singapore with authentic flavours. It is a popular restaurant that is constantly busy, with it expanding 2 sides of the Roxy Arcade. The restaurant gives the vibe of an Asian food market. Now to the delicious food that fulfilled my craving.


Curry puffs

Satay chicken skewers

What lovely starters! Both vegetarian and beef curry puffs were purchased. The cover of the curry puff was light, fluffy and crispy. The chicken skewers with the satay sauce were delightful and set our palates for the meal to come.


Beef Rendang

Kecap Manis Sotong - Fried calamari in sweet sauce

Nasi Goreng

Sambal Chicken

Sambal Balacaan Kang Kong
Sambal = chili/spicy, kang kong = water spinach. A vegetable dish that has plenty of crunch and an ample amount of spice.

Hainanese Chicken
Temasek is well known for the Hainanese chicken and chicken rice. For those who don't know what Hainanese chicken is, it is chicken that is boiled in a chicken broth which results in a moist and succulent chicken. The chicken rice is also made using the chicken broth.

Stir fried chicken with mixed vegetable

Serai (lemon grass) pork
One of my favourite dishes of the night. The pork had a great taste of the lemon grass and I could also taste a bit of honey to it as well. It went very well with the rice.

Hokkien Noodles


Ice Kacang - Combination of red bean, grass jelly, pineapple and palm seeds served with crushed ice in a bowl. Toppd with palm sugar, red syrup evaporated milk and sweet corn

Sago pudding

The two popular desserts of choice. The Ice Kacang has a variety of flavours that infuse well together (despite the sweet corn on top, which added a strange texture). It is a perfect dessert after a hot summers night with relatively spicy food. The sago pudding was a sweet dessert, with a coconut taste and a soft texture. I preferred the Ice Kacang as it was more refreshing, and I love herbal jelly.

Overall Temasek is a wonderful restaurant to dine at, with friends and family. The flavours of the food are quite strong compared to other Asian restaurants, so prepare yourself for explosions of different tastes. Depending on the amount of people you go with, and how much food you order, it shouldn't cost more then $40 per person (including drinks and dessert).

Good food, good times!