Monday, 30 August 2010

Chocolate Pear Cake

One of the good things about my work is that I don't work Mondays. Hence, no 'Monday Blues'. I could just veg out or bake a cake.

It was a perfect day here in Melbourne. I was motivated to do something creative and delicious! I started off thinking that I'd bake us a chocolate brownie. But that's too boring. Everyone can bake a brownie! I needed something challenging. Something that would expand my baking repertoire.

I remember eating this chocolate bar that has tiny pieces of pear in it. It tasted fantastic. Chocolate and pear are a match made in heaven. I did some research, and the recipe I've got is a mixed of several different recipes. But the core of the recipe started here. I adore this blog, the writer is simply a genius.

I added a frosting of Chocolate Buttercream Frosting to polish off this decadent cake. It was so good I had to stop myself from eating the whole frosting.

I also doubled the ingredients to make a two layer cake.

Chocolate Pear Cake

Adapted from Elra's Baking

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

6 eggs

200 grams dark Chocolate

1 1/2 cup plain flour

2 1/4 baking powder

pinch of salt

2 Beurre Bosch pears

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease two 9" pans. You can either melt the chocolate in a microwave or a bain marie. I own neither so I melt in the sink filled half way with boiling water. Sift together plain flour, baking powder and salt.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until well combined. Add the melted chocolate. At this point I have abandoned my hand held mixer and used a spatula. Beat the chocolate into the egg mixture until well combined. Add the flour mixture in two portion until just combined.

Put the sliced pears into the pan and pour the cake mixture in. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 - 40 minutes.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

3/4 cup milk chocolate, melted

180 grams unsalted butter

2 1/4 icing sugar

Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Incorporate the icicng sugar until well combined. Add the melted chocolate.

The fun part is when you get to go crazy frosting the cake hehe


Sunday, 22 August 2010

Hey Jambalaya!

Dear Ms Blog,

I'm sorry I haven't updated for a gajillion years! This is due to a new hectic schedule that sees me waking up at the break of dawn. It is so painful but so worth it as the job means more monies. Money means a brand spanking new cast iron frying pan!

YEAH BABY! Come to meeehhhhhh..

I have been lusting over this baby for ages and every good thing they have said about it is true. The food tastes better and the heat is distributed so damn evenly which just makes me a happy girl. Although I think I may need a chiropractor to give me a wrist massage every now and then. It is heavy.

So to christen this new bad boy, we decided that a very Creole Jambalaya would be just the thing. Went to the market this morning and it was fresh food everywhere my friend. I think Spring is early :)

The meal was scrumptious. I just need to remind myself every time I feel like dining out, that we have Michelin star meals in the comfort of my own home.

Adapted from Taste website

2 tbs olive oil
150g (medium) smoked sausage, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, chopped
1 red capsicum, seeds removed, diced
1 carrot, julienned
1 red chilly, sliced thinly
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika*
250g basmati rice
2 bay leaves
500ml tomato passata* or canned crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups (375ml) chicken stock
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
500g green prawns, peeled, de-veined, tails intact
3 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
6 shallots (spring onions), sliced

Heat oil in a large frying pan and cook the sausage until golden on both side. Set aside. Fry the onion until soft, add the garlic, chilli, capsicum, carrot, sausage, and rice. Cook for 3 minutes or until fragrance. Add paprika, cayenne, bay leaves and crushed tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes and add the stock. Season well. Bring it to a boil and turn the heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add prawn, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the parsley and stir well.

Oh Jambalaya!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

FotW: Waratah

I have never seen this flower before I came to Australia. Australia is a land teeming with its own unique blend of flora and fauna. For this week's flower of the week, I introduced the gorgeous Waratah Flower.

Aren't they beautiful? I might get some tomorrow to liven up the apartment :)

Salmon and Leek Quiche

I love all kinds of quiches, tarts and pie. Savoury or sweet. I also love how easy they are to whip out. We had this quiche the other night and it was delicious. Although the asparagus is technically a spring vegetable and is quite expensive at the moment. I thought it was worth it. It was the glue that bind this whole quiche together.

I am so looking forward to making lots of pies and quiches this spring/summer. All the fresh produces in abundance waiting to be incorporated into all these lovely dishes. Alas, it feels so far away. Especially after the gloomy day we had today. FortuneCat and I got rained on, all the way back home from work. Even though we were cold and wet, I love the fact that we have each other and I wouldn't change a thing ;)

Salmon and Leek Quiche
Adapted from Homelife Website

1 sheet (25cm) ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
1 tbs wholegrain mustard
20g butter
2 leeks, white part only, thickly sliced
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
300g hot-smoked salmon, coarsley flaked
3 eggs, lightly whisked
1/2 cup (125ml) thickened cream
1 tbs coarsely chopped dill
1 tbs fi nely chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line the quiche dish with pastry and trim off excess. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to rest the pastry.
Cover pastry with baking paper and fill with pastry weights. Blind bake for 10 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake further for 6-8 minutes or until golden. Reduce the temperature to 160°C. Spread the base of the pastry evenly with mustard.

Heat up the butter in the frying pan. Add the leek and cook for 5 minutes or until soften. Remove from heat.

Chop the asparagus coarsely and combine with leek and salmon. In a bowl, with a balloon whisk, whisk eggs, dill and cream. Pour over salmon mixture and bake for 45 minutes or until filling is just set. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Happy Baking!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Lamb stew

Our new dining table and chairs are getting a workout since we got it last week. After the Malaysian Feast, we had Holly and the Chapman sisters over for dinner. I decided that I needed to cook something with minimum prep time. So we had Lamb Stew with Mashed Potato. I had some pumpkin leftover so that was just roasted as a side.

We love having stews during the cold months of winter. This dish is hearty and a great comfort food. The best thing is that your stove will do all the work for you!

Holly made a decadent Chocolate brownie for dessert. It was so good, I have to remember to ask for a recipe next time.

We enjoyed the evening immensely. Nothing says comfort like a big plate of Lamb Stew and good company :)

Lamb Stew
Adapted from Stephanie Alexander, Irish Stew

8-10 thick cut lamb neck or shoulder chops
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into big chunks
3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2-3 cups beef or lamb broth
1 sprig thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
2-3 stalks of parsley

Add the oil into the pan and brown the lamb on each side well. Set aside.
Use the remaining oil and heat up a big stainless steel pot on the stove. Add the onions and allow it to soften and become golden. Add the garlic and fry until aromatic or for 2 minutes. Pour any juice or oil from the pan into the pot. Add the browned lamb and carefully pour in stock to cover the pot content. Tie the thyme and rosemary spring with a piece of string and tuck it into the pot. Reduce the heat and simmer for an hour. Usually in a traditional lamb stew you would layer the meat and vegetable together. I like my vegetables with a bit of a bite to it. After an hour add the vegetables into the pot and continue cooking for another hour.

With a metal skewer test whether the meat and vegetables are tender. When tender remove pot and allow stew to settle for about 15 minutes.

I served the stew on top of the mashed potatoes I prepared and finish with chopped parsley on the top.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Good coffee and absenteeism

Yes, yes...I have been neglecting Saya Nak Makan. I just can't write anything at the moment. I think I'm having writer's block (LOL) and lacking enthusiasm from exhaustion.

FortuneCat and I have been searching for that great cup of joe lately. Having been burnt, literally by coffee made by incompetent hands. Yes we have become one of those coffee snobs. I think I understand why those people are snobs now. You are paying good money for a cup of coffee. The last thing you want is to get burnt and left with a bitter and disgusting after taste in your mouth.

Melbourne is well known for the plethora of good food and drink. If you ever find yourself on a visit to Melbourne, don't forget to try the coffee! We found this review site online and have began drinking our way around town. Our first choice Brother Baba Budan did not dissapoint. When we arrived the place was packed with the morning rush waiting for their caffeine hit. The decor was... interesting, I kept hoping the chairs on the ceiling won't come crushing down on me.

My long Macchiato was admittedly too hot to drink at first, but after the coffee cooled, I was hit by a caffeine party in my mouth hehe...

FortuneCat and I agreed that they really need to replace their lids on the take away cups. We were both doused by our coffee a lil' :(

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Friday is Date night!

Sometimes on the weekends, FortuneCat and I dress up like two cool cats and go out for a date :)

A couple of months ago, we moved to the beautiful suburb of Ivanhoe. Its pretty awesome here, leafy green surrounding and a charming shopping street. There are many cafes and restaurants we want to try. So last Friday we went to Va Tutto. It is dubbed a Modern Italo-Australian Restaurant in a review by the Epicure.

I had high expectations for Va Tutto and the meal we had that night did not let me down. It was a gastronomical experience. The prices were pretty reasonable for a fine dining restaurant. We were definitely not complaining because everything that we ordered was absolutely delicious.

I had the Potato Gnocchi with Lamb Ragout and FortuneCat decided that he would have the special that night which was the Wild Barramundi with Caramelized Soy Sauce, Fishcake and Asian green. The Gnocchi was great but the star of that night's meal was the Barramundi. Maybe it was my Asian tastebud but I ended up finishing FortuneCat's dinner for him, poor thing hehe :p

The Gnocchi, was little fluffy pillows of potato coated in tomato sauce and chunks of lamb. I don't think I've ever had Gnocchi this good but I think next time I would get the entree size instead of the main. The wild Barramundi tasted really fresh and the delicate balance of the Caramelized soy sauce and fishcake made this dish perfect. It was satisfying and by the end we were pretty full.

But not too full for this!! :)

From the very start we know we had to have dessert! We are both sweet tooths and I asked FortuneCat to choose our sweets for us. We had the Lemon Tart with caramelized top and Lemon Ice Cream. The only thing I can come up with when describing this taste sensation was 'orgasmic'. Yes, it is that fantastic. Other Lemon Tart would find it hard to top the one we had at Va Tutto! I would come back here just for this treat.

I wish I had a better camera to show how beautiful the food was - we just took these on an iPhone.