Monday, May 30, 2011

Norm Mai Chi

My little brother and I have spent a greater part of our childhood in the kitchen as our parents owned a small Chinese takeaway business. Because we spent every moment being immersed in the culture and food, we generally prefer cooking anything but Cantonese Cuisine ... but the fact is my Mum's generation is not going to be around forever and I feel it is important to continue to carry on culinary traditions. My workplace is holding an international Australia's Biggest Morning Tea, so I decided it was the perfect opportunity for Mum to tutor me in the art of making Nor Mai Chi. Nor Mai Chi are custard filled sweets, enveloped in a glutinous rice flour pastry and finished with a dusting of coconut. Mum and I had lovely afternoon and I thought I would share with you a snippet of the conversation:

Mum: "We could put a piece of cherry on top of each one?"

Me: "I don't like my food looking like a boob."

Mum: "But it's the Cancer Fund and we could make two big ones."

Me: * Groan. * "It's Australia's Biggest Morning Tea, not Pink Ribbon Day."

My Mum's such a dork but I was a great bonding session. What have you learned to cook from your parent/s?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Apple Pie

I used to work with a lady who used to bake when she was angry. Maybe it's just me, but I can't cook when I'm emotional as I will most certainly will stuff it up. My first attempt at this pie ended up with mushy apples and over worked pastry. I retained the apple, binned the pastry, took a break before starting again. I then peeled, cored, sliced 7 large Granny Smith Apples. I then halved those slices and added them to a saucepan with 1/2 cup of water.

The apple and water was then brought to boil. I then reduced the heat to a simmer, covered the saucepan for approximately 10 minutes. The halved apple slices should be slightly softened. Drain the apples and then add 1 teaspoon of lemon rind and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Leave the mixture to cool.

In a bowl combine 2 cup plain flour, 1 cup self raising flour, 1/2 cup cornflour, 1/2 custard powder, 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and 200g of cool coarsely chopped butter. Rub the butter and the flour between your finger until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Then add two egg yolks and 1/2 cup of cold water (use your judgement as you may need more water) and knead until smooth. Halve the dough, roll and then smooth the pastry into a 25cm pie dish. I decided to use a flan tin.

Here is the lined tin. I then placed the tin in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest and preheated the oven to 220C/200c fan forced.

After the 30 minutes had pasted, I then brushed the case with egg white, filled the pie with the apple mixture, rolled the remaining dough out to create a lid. I brushed the lid with more egg white and sprinkled it with sugar. I made a small cross in the center before popping the pie into the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes passed, I reduced the oven to 180C/160C fan forced and continued for 25 minutes or until golden.

Here is the finished pie and I was tell you it is delicious. It's the perfect winter warmer and smoothing balm for my soul.

Cupcake Parlour: Australia's Biggest Morning Tea Part 2

Today is the official launch of Australia's Biggest Morning Tea, which meant using all my cunning to devise a plan to procure a Cupcake Parlour Limited Edition Australia's Biggest Morning Tea Cupcake. Luckily for me, our CEO's Executive Assistant is expecting her first little born and is craving chocolate. So after planting the idea, I managed to hitch a lift to cupcake goodness. Yay! The Cupcake Parlour shopfront is enrobed in pink and chocolate and decorated with white outdoor furniture positioned on astro turf. It's an eclectic beast that fits perfectly into its West End surrounds.

As we walked through the door our eyes were delighted by the giant cup cake. It was just awesome ... but my hips objected so I decided to select from their range of delightful full size ($3.50 each) and bite size ($2 each) options.

This is only a sample of what you will encounter at the store and I can highly recommend the visit. The Oreo Cupcake is incredible but I also spotted a Cherry Ripe topped one that looked delicious. If anyone has sampled it, how did it taste? Caring is sharing the experience verbally. :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Spanish Garden Steakhouse

The Breakfast Creek Hotel Steak is a Brisbane icon and you can enjoy it in two ways: The Staghorn Beer Garden or the Spanish Garden Steakhouse. The Spanish Garden Steakhouse basically consists of breezy courtyard (perfect in Summer but rug up if you dare to enter this icebox in winter) and full table service. For a few dollars more you receive the same Breakfast Creek Hotel Steak. We started our meal with some bread and I was disappointed to find the garlic bread was cold. Also disturbingly I found it difficult to determine what was actually on the Italian Bruschetta.

I decided to order a rare Petite Eye Fillet, with mushroom sauce, traditional coleslaw, bread roll and an idaho potato. The steak was just perfect, fresh, cooked perfectly and I enjoyed it immensely with a dab of mushroom sauce. The traditional coleslaw, however needed a little more dressing. Though it wasn't a bad experience, I didn't view the Spanish Garden Steakhouse as a highlight either. If you want to enjoy this icon, then the Staghorn Beer Garden is the way to go.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
Address: 2 Kingsford Smith Drive, Albion, QLD 4010.
Open: 7 Days a week. Licensed hours: 10am - 2am.
Phone: (07) 3262 5988
Price: Entrees: $6.50 - $29. Steak: $32 - $40.50. Desserts: $7.50

Spanish Garden Steakhouse on Urbanspoon


Being astute individuals, I am certain that you have begun to pick up a number of common threads in this blog. These include my love of Asian cuisine and the Barracks Complex. I do adore the Barracks as its close to the city center, offers free parking, numerous entertainment opportunities and a diverse array of cuisines. This particular evening Tania of Awesome and I decided to have dinner at Peasant before heading off to see an improvised theatre show. Peasant is a Spanish Tapas bar and offers a cosy bustling interior or a relaxed courtyard. We decided to settle in the courtyard and were soon presented with a miniature black board outlining the menu options. After some consideration we settled on the Seared Kingfish escabeche with white gazpacho (pictured above), Steamed Mussels, chorizo and Manzanilla and a gorgeous roast pork belly dish with potatoes and aioli.

The star dish was the steamed mussels as they were butter soft and the chorizo had imparted gorgeous fatty, smokey flavours. They came beautifully presented in a metal dish and were oh so moreish!

The special of the night was roast pork belly and this was a generous dish with large chunks of pork, golden potatoes and velvet aioli. The crackling and the potatoes were beautifully crisp but this dish was a little too fatty for my palette. However it isn't spoil my evening as each dish was beautifully fresh, the service was prompt and the warm atmosphere inside the establishment was pleasant. She isn't a peasant, she's a lady.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Address: 61 Petrie Terrace, Paddington, QLD 4000.
Open: Tuesday - Friday: 10am - 9pm. Saturday: 11am - 9pm. Sunday: 12pm - 9pm.
Phone: (07) 3367 8066
Price: Tapas: $6 - $26. Shared Plates: $25 - $32. Desserts: $12 - $22.

Peasant on Urbanspoon

Mediterranean-style Picnic Cob

Some of you might have noticed that things have been a little quiet around the 'Eats Food, Hates You' sphere. It's not that I don't love you all or have lost interest in food, it's just be a frantic month between full time work, studying, impro, socialising and riding. Last week I competed in the Gap Active Rider's Group (TGARG) Dressage Day and to ensure I had something delicious for lunch, I made this Mediterranean-style Picnic Cob from It is dead easy to make, absolutely amazing and I highly recommend it. Don't be freaked out about their request for Eggplant dip with Shallot, I'd just substitute it with Baba Ganoush or Spring Onion Dip. Go on, give it a go ... it's so moreish.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lasagne Vincisgrassi

The latest MasterChef Magazine has just arrived on newsstands and features the dreamy Adriano Zumbo on the cover. There are a number of recipes from Adriano Zumbo but I decided to have a good at the Lasagne Vincisgrassi recipe. Here is 20g of porcini mushrooms soaking in 250ml of boiling water. After they were soft, I drained mushrooms, finely chopped them before putting them into a large bowl. I also reserved the liquid.

500g field mushrooms (stalks removed) and 500g swiss brown mushrooms thinly sliced.

After sauteing the mushrooms, I added them to the large bowl containing the finely chopped porcini. I then chopped 60g prosciutto, 50g truffle paste and 3/4 cup of chopped flat leaf parsley. I then set the oven at 180C and turned my attention to the white sauce. The white sauce was made in two parts. In one pan add 750ml milk, 250ml cream, 1/2 cup of porcini liquid, 1 bay lead and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Bring to almost a boil on medium heat. In another pan melt 100g butter and 100g plain flour. Cook until grainy. When both items are ready, gradually whisk the milk mixture in and it will soon thicken. Cook the sauce for another 5 minutes or until it thickens. Pour half the sauce into the mushroom mixture and reserve the rest.

In a lightly greased rectangular baking dish, coat the base with white sauce and then lay a lasagne sheet on top. Layer half the mushroom mixture, add 25g grated parmesan, lay another a lasagne sheet, the rest of the mushroom mixture and add another 25g grated parmesan.

Finally top with a lasagne sheet, the remaining white sauce and a layer of parmesan. Cook in the oven for an hour or until golden.

Cool for ten minutes before slicing and you can then tuck into your gorgeous piece of Lasagne Vincisgrassi.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Patty Cakes vs Cup Cakes

A couple of colleagues and I were chatting away about how adorable the Australia's Biggest Morning Tea Cupcakes were, when our Head of Programs and Research strolled in. She said that she objected to the name cupcakes as it was Americanised and claimed they ought to be called patty cakes. This has got me thinking as I call the liners 'patty pans' and differentiate between a patty cake and a cup cake based on size and style. What do you call your single serve cakes? Where do you draw the line? Discuss.

Lemon Yoghurt Cakes

You would think after taking on the Adriano Zumbo V8 Cake on the weekend that I wouldn't be back in the kitchen so soon. But here I am road testing a Lemon Yoghurt Cake recipe by 2010 MasterChef Runner Up Callum Hann. I think out of all the Australia's Biggest Morning Tea recipes this one is the most accessible as it uses pantry essentials and basic baking equipment.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Take a large mixing bowl and add one egg, six tablespoons margarine (I used butter), 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and one cup Greek yoghurt.

Quickly whisk the mixture until just combined. Callum’s recipe says to combine your dry ingredients in a separate bowl, but I chose to ignore this instruction and added my dry ingredients to the same bowl.

Add 1 ¾ cup sifted plain flour, ¾ cup caster sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ¾ teaspoon baking soda and ¼ teaspoon salt.

Fold until just combined and don’t be afraid of how thick the batter looks. Spoon into a lightly greased muffin pan. I found this recipe made 12 cakes but this will depend on the size of pan.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. I found 20 minutes was adequate.

Sadly after I removed them from the oven they started to sink but I found the gentle indent was just perfect for serving them with a little more Greek yoghurt and blueberries. The cakes are moist, dense and were well received at morning tea. If you haven't visited the Australia's Biggest Morning Tea Website then do as there are a number of wonderful recipes and it might just inspire you to host one.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cupcake Parlour: Australia's Biggest Morning Tea Part 1

How adorable are these Cupcake Parlour limited edition Australia's Biggest Morning Tea Cupcakes?! All proceeds will be donated to Cancer Council Queensland and you can pick one up Thursday, May 26 from Shop 5/60 Vulture Street, West End. Whootie!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Haoke Chinese Seafood Restaurant

There are few things that make me quite as cross as when Sui Mai is labelled as Dim Sum. Dim Sum is the category of dumplings that feature in various Yum Cha Restaurant menus. The item that most Australians know as 'Dim Sims' (eurgh ... it isn't even pronounced correctly) should actually be called Sui Mai. Dim Sum is the area that my father specialised in before his passing so I admit I expect nothing less than perfection when I visit a Yum Cha Restaurant. My Mother had heard great things about Haoke Chinese Seafood Restaurant so we set off early this morning for Yum Cha.

One of the tests of a good Yum Cha Restaurant is the quality of their Har Gao. Haoke's Har Gao has a gorgeous translucent skin and generous chunks of prawn.

The standard of their Sui Mai is also good and topped with a prawn. This would have been one of my picks.

Steamed bean curd wraps with thick sauce. These is generally no middle ground with this dish, as they are either fabulous or awful. This was the first time I had encountered an average one, the flavour was there but the texture was far too solid for my liking.

Lean pork and century egg congee. Century eggs are an acquired taste and are made by preserving eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime and rice hulls. This mixture raises the PH of the egg over several weeks or months and leaves the egg with its distinctive texture. It is a common congee ingredient as it compliments the smooth rice. Unfortunately the congee was the worst offering at Haoke. It was extremely floury and lacking in flavour.

Combination beef. Often contains beef tripe, tendons and pig's blood jelly. Unfortunately for my little brother there was no pig's blood jelly.

The egg tarts were a good size, the pastry was flaky and the egg was silky smooth. Cheong Fun is also another Yum Cha favourite and they traditional come in three variations, cha siu (barbecue pork), prawn or You Zha Gui (translates as fried ghosts. This is a fried dough that sometimes is served with congee). The one pictured is cha siu, it arrived cold.

The final selection was the Shark fin dumplings. Though the spine of the dumpling appeared dry, they were passable. So in summary, the quality of the dim sum was passable, the atmosphere and service within the restaurant was lacking. If it is your local then it is passable, but if you have to make the trip, don't bother. Head to Landmark when you will have the selection and the brisk pace you would expect.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
Address: Shop 36/223 Calam Road, Sunnybank Hills, QLD 4109.
Open: Monday - Friday 10am-3pm. Saturday and Sunday 9am-3pm. Dinner daily from 6pm.
Phone: (07) 3273 4900

Haoke Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Adriano Zumbo V8 Cake

Top left to right: Crème chantilly with vanilla water gel. Macaron layer added with a tiny smear of toasted vanilla brulee. Toasted vanilla brulee layer added.

Bottom left to right: Vanilla chiffon cake brushed with vanilla syrup and then topped with vanilla ganache. Vanilla almond crunch. Vanilla dacquoise base with added vanilla crème chantilly to fill any spaces.

26 years ago my Mother pressed the eject button and I was spat out into the world. To celebrate this, I decided to undertake the huge challenge of baking the
Adriano Zumbo V8 Cake. This cake first appeared in the 2010 season of Masterchef and it quickly captured the imagination of the nation. It also captured mine with its layers of vanilla crème chantilly, toasted vanilla brulee, vanilla water gel, vanilla ganache, vanilla macaron, vanilla dacquoise, vanilla chiffon cake and vanilla almond crunch, vanilla syrup enclosed in vanilla glaze. Normally I would photograph every piece and talk you through it but this cake had 20 steps and took me close to seven hours of preparing, baking, cleaning and constructing. So here are some handy tips I've learnt from this experience:

  • You don't need a mortar and pestle to grind the roasted vanilla beans. Pop them into a snap lock bag and use a rolling pin.

  • I purchased gelatine leaves, vanilla beans, pailette feuillitine and fine chocolate from Black Pearl Epicure.

  • Gellan is horribly expensive, it is $156.25 for 400g. The good news is The Melbourne Food Ingredient Depot stocks 10g packets of gellan and titanium dioxide which makes this cake much more affordable.

  • I made my own miroir glaze from a recipe from Leave Room for Dessert. I wasn't quite as comfortable with Anita's almond praline paste as it used a dry caramel method so I made a simple toffee (50g sugar, 38ml water) poured it over some lightly toasted almonds and once the toffee was cold, processed the whole lot to a fine powder. Make sure you add a little water to the almond praline and standard almond paste.

  • You could halve the vanilla syrup and brown sugar crumble as if you follow the instructions you will have a substantial amount left over.

  • Before making the vanilla ganache, gently microwave the white couverture chocolate as it will be easier to incorporate all the ingredients.

  • I used an Anonlon SureGrip - 20cm loose base square cake pan and it made removing the cake from the pan a breeze.

  • Equipment you will need includes a mixmaster, hand held electric beaters, stick blender, brulee torch, piping bag, ruler, precision scales and a generous supply of dishes, saucepans and baking trays.

The good news is despite my fears the cake turned out better than expected. Without any pressure and no distractions the experience was extremely pleasant and a great challenge. Here are some photos of the finished product. The final image on the end is the Facebook thread, mapping the progress.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tosakan Thai Restaurant

Within walking distance from Chermside Shopping and across the road from Kedron Wavell Services Club is Chermside's latest dining offering, Tosakan Thai Restaurant. Named after the giant king with ten faces from the ancient Sanskrit epic, Ramayana. The King saw far beyond with his ten pairs of eyes, with his ten faces he was able to immerse himself in knowledge and he hid his heart inside a box to become immortal.

You begin your journey at Tosakan Thai Restaurant with your very own Tosakan's heart box in the form of a bright yellow napkin, folded like a lily. This brightly coloured decoration was lovely behold and both Amy and I were pleased to note the interior was modern, offered a direct view into the kitchen and utilised warm brown tones. I know, a Thai restaurant where you weren't suffocated by pastel mauve! You're probably as shocked as I am. We started with entree size serving of Tom Yum Goong. This is a traditional spicy Thai soup with prawns and flavoured with chili, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves. The prawns were fresh, deveined and cooked to perfection. The soup was flavoursome but we felt had been slightly over seasoned with salt.

However if there was an outstanding dish this evening, it was the Massamun Beef Curry. This dish had generous chunks of potato and butter soft beef, immersed in creamy coconut milk based sauce and delicate strands of caramelised onion. It was gorgeous.

Our third selection was a Chicken Pad Thai. The thin noodles had soaked up the flavour of the peanut based sauce. The chicken was moist and the dish contained a good balance of egg, ground peanuts, bean curd and bean sprouts.

By this point Amy and I were both feeling rather full but we couldn't leave without trying a dessert and we decided to share the Black Sticky Rice with Coconut Cream and Vanilla Ice Cream. The rice a gorgeous texture which was complimented by the coconut cream. So Tosakan Thai Restaurant? It offers a beautifully appointed space, presents you with a story, provides you with friendly service and best of all the food delivers.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Address: 23 Playfield Street, Chermside, QLD 4032.
Open: Monday - Friday. 11am - 10:30pm. Saturday - Sunday. 5pm - 10.30pm.
Phone: (07) 3350 5371
Price: Entrees: $7.00. Main: $14.90 - $25.90. Dessert: $7.00.

Tosakan Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon