Monday, May 30, 2011

"Wow, you look great now! Very beautiful! Last time, I'm sorry to say, but you were a bit fat."

Lol. Sounds like an insult and a compliment rolled into one. Btw, I don't think I lost a lot of weight, especially with the mountain of food I have been eating!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chinese Dumpling Soup

When I told John I was making Chinese dumplings for lunch, he said "You're being really adventurous!" This resulted in a 5 second stare and me asking him why. "Because Chinese dumplings take some skill to make!"

What? I didn't know that! My next 10 minutes was spent trawling the web for tips on how to fold these damn dumplings. After reading many useful entries, I realised that the key was to fold them so that no air bubbles get trapped inside. Why? Because they will explodeeeeeeee!

My first batch turned out like morbidly obese mutant goldfish swimming around in a boiling pool of water. Thank God I did a test batch. I quickly did the rest of my dumplings, making sure not a single one had air trapped in them, and into the pot they went!
And as Borat would say... Great success! I felt that the recipe called for too much pepper so I cut it down, also I did not add prawns as I am a poor student =P

Here is the recipe if you would like to try it, I modified it and have put them in brackets on the side.

Dumpling Ingredients:

  • 150gm Chicken fillets, minced (Used about 400g of chicken!)

  • 300gm Prawns, removed shell & vein, minced (Omitted this) (Omitt

  • 3 pcs Water Chestnut, chopped

  • Handful of Spinach, chopped (Used way more!) (Used quite a big more because we love our greens =) (
  • 5 tbsp Light soya sauce

  • 1 tsp Sesame oil

  • 2 tsp White Pepper (Cut this down by half) (Too much! Cut it down by half..)

  • 1 tbsp ShioXing Rice Wine

Soup Ingredients:
  • Leftover fish bones (Hmm didn't have any at hand) (Omitted)

  • One handful Anchovies

  • 1 big Yellow onion

  • 1 stalk celery

  • 1 carrot

  • 2 slices Ginger

  • Baby Choy Sam

1 packet Dumpling skin (At the Asian grocery there were round and square ones so I opted for the square)

  1. Mix dumpling ingredients with seasonings (Used a food processor for this). Marinate in the fridge for 2 hours or longer.

  2. Boil 1 liter of water in a pot. Add in soup ingredients except HKG Baby Choy Sam.

  3. Boil for 1 hour in slow fire till soup become concentrate.

  4. Drain ingredients, retain the soup and set aside.

  5. Put 1 tbsp of batter on the dumpling skin. Fold into half & close the top end. You may get approximately 20 - 25 dumplings.

  6. Heat up soup, put in the amount of dumplings that you want to consume at that moment. (I felt that I had to add a little more water as there was too little to boil the dumplings). Bring to boil for about 6-8 mins. Add in baby choy sam. Once the choy sam is cooked. Off the fire.

  7. Dish up and serve immediately with rice or noodles. Or on its own.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Food Review: Pier 24, Dunedin

I feel pampered. On Friday my boyfriend picked me up from work, there was a bouquet of roses waiting for me at home, and then he brought me to this flash glass restaurant by the beach. Tell me I'm not pampered =P

Pier 24 is a fine-dining restaurant located right beside St Clair beach. I've been eyeing it for a while as my friends have told me that it is amazing but only recently got around to eating there. The layout of the place is beautiful and the staff are so friendly. I also love how beautifully presented each dish came out.
For our starters, I had the Crisp Slow Cooked Pork Belly with a fennel and cucumber salad, pickled fig and a balsamic relish. This was sooooo goooddddd. A little bit too salty for my liking, however it was balanced by the cool, refreshing cucumber. The pork belly was cooked well, not overly fatty and with a nice crispy skin. Mmmmm.. I was hoping it would never end... (But then I'd become obese!) The perfect starter as it opens your appetite for the mains to come.
John had the Pan Fried Flaked fish with potato cake, seared Atlantic Scallops, Crushed Cherry Tomato, Chilli and Mint Salad with a Red Wine Vinegar Dressing and Lemon Horseradish Aioli. He said that the scallops were a little rubbery but sauce and pairings were very well flavoured.
For mains I had the Pan Roasted Lamb Loin with chocolate nib and fennel rub, orange candied parsnip, rosemary roasted potatoes, marmalade and 85% bitter chocolate glaze. Wow. The meat was cooked to perfection! Slightly pink, juicy and tender.. So so good! I didn't like the parsnip though as it had burnt bits which left a bitter taste in my mouth.

John had the steak, and I didn't manage to take a pic (we were too busy eating) but he said it was one of the best steaks he has had in Dunedin (along with 1908 Cafe in Portobello)!
See my happy, pampered face =P

Pier 24 is slightly more expensive compared to other restaurants in Dunedin but for the ambiance, location, good food and staff, in my opinion it's quite worth it! =)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ispahan Cupcakes

The cupcake papers slid easily off the butter soft surface - the first sign of sweet success. Mmm, the scent of lychees and roses. I bit into it. The buttercream was soft and light, like velvet in my mouth. Then came the buttery goodness lying underneath. As I reached the centre, creamy raspberry came out to greet my taste buds. Perfect. It is comparable to eating a fragrant flower, only more butter and sweet.

Yes, in case you are wondering, I have eaten a flower before. A whole bowl of them, in Korea.

Hmm... I know I made this for a friend's birthday but I don't know how four of them ended up in my tummy. This is why I'm not thin =P

I have a rule where I will not bake the same thing twice until I have done 100 recipes, but would gladly bend the rule for this baby!

Did not put in food colouring because I don't have the best luck with buttercream. For some reason it just hates me and I didn't want to piss it off.

Found the recipe here!

Lychee Rosewater Butter Cake

Yields: 12 - 14 cupcakes

1 14 oz. can of lychees, reserve the liquid

2 cups of cake flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract

5 tbsn. rose water

2 tbsn. reserved lychee water

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a cupcake pan with liners, set aside. Drain the lychees and cut into small pieces, set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl, set aside. In a mixer cream the butter and sugar until well blended and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to scape the sides of the bowl as you move along. Next add the vanilla, rose water, and lychee water. Mix to combine. Lastly, toss the diced lychees into the flour mixture and mix with the wet mixture, mix to combine.

Pour into cupcake pans and bake about 15 - 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Stabilized Raspberry Whipped Cream Filling

Yields: enough for 12 cupcakes

1 tbsn. water

1/4 envelope of unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup of heavy cream, cold

2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1/8 cup sugar

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup of mashed raspberries

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let the gelatin bloom/ absorb the water for a couple of minutes. Add a dash of the heavy cream and microwave for a minute to allow the gelatin to dissolve, set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, on low, beat the cream cheese until nice and fluffy. Add the whipped cream, sugar, and salt. Whip everything till soft peaks form, then add the gelatin mixture and the vanilla. Whip until stiff peaks form, then fold in the mashed raspberries.

Refrigerate for 15 - 20 minutes.

You can use the cone method or simply pipe these into the cooled cupcakes.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Yields: enough for 12 cupcakes

2 large egg whites

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 tbsn.), cut into 12 pieces

1- 2 drops of food coloring (optional)

Put the egg whites and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer. Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water making sure the bottom does not actually touch the water. Stir the egg whites until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and place into the mixer stand.

Beat until it becomes white and doubles in size. Add the vanilla on low speed, then add the butter, one piece at a time, making sure it is well mixed after each addition. Do not worry if it looks curdled, it will take some time for it to come together.

Continue beating for 5 - 10 minutes until everything comes together.

Spread/ pipe/ smother onto your cupcakes and enjoy

Yea, it's quite a lot of work, but definitely worth it! =)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Eggs with chorizo and manchego

I've always found Taste magazine to be quite inspired. Their recipes make you want to try them because they look accessible and not... snooty. Their down-to-earth quality really appeals to me because I feel that it will encourage even someone who has never picked up a spatula in their life to want to cook =)

Okay so I might be a little late with this, but I found a recipe for chorizo and eggs in the April issue and decided to try out. Zeroed in this recipe because it seemed easy, nutritious and colourful.

Below is the recipe from Taste magazine:

3tbsp olive oil

225g chorizo sausages, sliced

2 large onions, peeled and thickly sliced

1/2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika

1/2 tsp roasted ground cumin seeds

250g cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley

1/4 tsp salt

4-6 size 6 eggs, at room temperature

100g manchego cheese, sliced

1. Preheat oven to 180C fan bake. Heat a smidgen (I used bout 1 tbsp) of oil in a large non-stick or heavy based frying pan (I used cast iron so that I could transfer it to the oven with no worries afterwards.) over medium heat. When hot, cook the chorizo for a few minutes on each side, then transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon.

2. Discard the fat then wipe out the pan. Reheat pan, adding the remaining oil, then add onions. Cook gently for about 15 minutes, until softened and just starting to brown. Stir in the paprika and cumin, cook through for 1 minute, then add the cherry tomatoes. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, just to mix them but not to soften completely. Stir through the chorizo and most of the parsley, salt and black pepper.

3. (If you are using a pan that cannot be put into an oven because of its handle, transfer your cooking to an oven-safe dish =) )Make 4-6 indentations in the mixture and break the eggs into them, leaving out some egg whites as there will be extra. Cover the dish with a lid (or a buttered baking paper with aluminium foil pressed tightly around)

4. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the eggs are done to your liking. (However, they will continue to cook even after they are removed from the oven.)

Top with sliced manchego cheese and the remaining parsley.

Mmm..Caramelised onions, sweet cherry tomatoes, warm, creamy egg yolk and spicy, salty chorizo plus the kick from the smoked paprika.. This was the perfect comfort food!

My first thoughts when reading this recipe was "Whoa, 6 eggs!" But lucky for me I have a constantly ravenous boyfriend to finish everything for me =D I reckon this is a dish that has to be served hot from the oven and is not good for storing as you will see the food separate and juices come out of it. Not pretty.

I didn't splurge on the chorizo, as two skinny and short sausages cost almost 10 bucks at the supermarket. (Why so expensive? I thought big is better? =P) Carrying out my habit as a student, I opted for the slightly cheaper but not so authentic version. Might just splurge the next time I do this recipe though! Also, couldn't find manchego as there are no specialty cheese shops in this area or the supermarket that I usually frequent so I did some research and settled for a similar dry goat's cheese. Hm, I think you can also order manchego online in NZ.

PS: Forgot to put the cheese before I took the picture (I was really hungry =P)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sorry for not blogging these few days, been to Lake Tekapo for the Easter break! I swear that I have not seen a more beautiful place in New Zealand yet. We had a great time relaxing on our balcony overlooking serene, turquoise waters, lightly snow-covered mountains, the sleepy town and a quaint little church. We also froze our faces off on a morning cruise through the crisp waters of this breath-taking lake. Not forgetting the fact that we also spent our days eating lots of amazingly fresh salmon! Be back with travel and food photos shortly! =)