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Mid-Autumn Festival and Mooncakes!

September 11, 2011 1 comment

The mid-autumn festival is one of my favourite festivals, it is usually held on the 15th day of the eight month in the Chinese Calendar, which is usually either September or early October. It is one of the most important holidays in the Chinese calendar and traditionally on this day, Chinese families and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon and eat mooncakes!

Now mooncakes, usually round pastries, delicious thick filing usually made from lotus seed paste and surrounded by a thin crust and may contain yolks (if you like them!). I don’t recommend eating them like donuts as they are incredibly rich! So cut them into small wedges and eat them bit by bit with tea or coffee.

There are many different types of mooncakes and I have eaten my fair share of them to know which one I like (and which brand!). Most common is the lotus seed paste which I like, probably most ‘original’ and most luxurious mooncake filing. There is also sweet bean paste, jujube paste or five kernel (which was 5 types of nuts and seeds, and possibly my least favourite!)

The crust, three different types – chewy and has a reddish-brown tone and glossy sheen, probably the most common type. There is also flaky crust which I don’t think I have had, and tender which is similar to shortcrust pastry – yes can be confusing and daunting for first timers!

If you thought that was confusing, now they have ‘contemporary’ style mooncakes with fancier filing like cream cheese, green tea, pandan, tiramisu, DURIAN (my fav!), coffee, and many more. They are also ice cream like mooncakes which are bite size so you can ‘pop’ them in your mouth! The crust varies also, non-baked, snowflakes, glutinous or even jelly.

Now, as you may know, my favourite Uncle is a fantastic baker! He made his own ‘limited edition’ snowflakes mooncake. I was told that the basic snow skin mooncake is the easiest type out there to  make and tastes quite delicious. I wouldn’t even dare attempt making them, so when Uncle said he made them, I thought I would post a blog – he makes it sound so easy!!!!!! He used a recipe from Anhs’ food blog.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words? So he has kindly put this photo together.

He made a couple of different sized mooncake, the one below he took – it only had one yolk.

He was kind enough to give me a bigger mooncake with two yolks! It was incredibly smooth and absolutely delicious. Loved the yolk as well. It was hard not demolish half of it in one sitting. Savouring each bite with a cup of tea. Thanks Uncle, it was ‘melt-in-my-mouth’ DELICIOUS!

Hope you got to eat at least one delicious mooncake! I know I did! I look forward to next year’s mooncake edition Uncle!

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Recipe: Easy Millefeuille

My first attempt of making mille-feuille, a pastry originating from France. A vanilla slice, cream slice, custard slice also known as the Napoleon. Usually made up of three layers of puff pastry and with pastry cream, or whipped cream or jam in each alternating layers.

As you may have read, a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Sachiko, owner of Dining Story, personal chef and cooking class services. I was catching up with the family, and thought I would make them the dessert that Sachiko taught me, Mille-feuille. It wasn’t as perfect as the one she made, but it was pretty good for a first attempt.

Ingredients (for 3)

  • 1 puff pastry
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1/2 pack strawberry
  • 2 egg yolk
  • 20g flour
  • 40g sugar
  • 200ml milk
  • 1 vanilla bean (I used 2 tbsp of vanilla essence)
  • 20g cream

Method

  • pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
  • cut the pastry in 3’s and sprinkle icing sugar on both side.
  • poke one side of the pastry with a fork and bake in the oven for about 15 mins then cool.
  • mix the sugar and egg yolks in a bowl and sift flour and mix until it’s smooth.
  • heat milk to boil and slowly add to the sugar and egg mix.
  • place the mixture of sugar, egg yolks and milk into the sauce pan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whizzing constantly.
  • when it boils, whisk it for another 30 to 60 seconds until it becomes thick.
  • remove from heat and place into a cold bowl and add the cream. Put in the fridge and let it cool for a bit.
  • slice the strawberry.
  • put the cream on the pastry, and place strawberry then put another pastry.
  • repeat above process.
  • sprinkle with icing sugar.

Not as hard as I had anticipated, flaky crispy pastry, and delicious cream.

Desserts at home will never be the same again. Thanks again Sachiko.

Recipe: Pandan Chiffon Cake

I love pandan chiffon cake – even from a very young age, I would ask Mum to either make it or buy it! She would usually buy as it was ‘easier’. The softness and the fluffiness and I love the bright green colour! I have tried this cake many times now, a couple of times without a mixer – what was I thinking?

My mixer has been broken for a while now, so when I noticed a ‘spare’ mixer at Mum’s I couldn’t help but ask if I could ‘borrow’ it. I had no doubt that she would say yes, but I had hope she would lend me the newer one.

I have tried making this three times now, and it was indeed third time lucky, I am happier with my third attempt and can say that I probably won’t make it any time soon! I think ‘The Mother’ is a little over eating pandan chiffon cake. However, I can eat it anytime and every day!

I have tried many different recipes, you can find a full step by step on ieatishootipost blog. Very detailed, I had to read it a couple of times to make sure that I didn’t miss a step!

I used Poh Ling Yeow’s recipe (which can be found on ironchefshelli blog) but reduced the sugar and the flour. I tried using the original recipe with 10 eggs and my goodness, overflow and my cake was oversized! I don’t think my cake thin is big enough for 10 eggs and 300g plain flour. Have played around with the recipe, and I’m ‘happy’ with the recipe below.

Ingredients

  • 6 egg whites (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 90ml vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon pandan paste
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 100g plain flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted
  • 210 coconut milk
  • pinch of salt

Method:

  • Preheat oven at 160C fan forced or 180C regular.
  • Beat egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer till soft peaks.
  • Add sugar one tablespoon at a time thoroughly till stiff peaks. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks with caster sugar till fluffy.
  • Add coconut milk, vegetable oil, pandan paste and self raising flour and whisk until combined.
  • Gently fold egg whites into the yolk mixture in 3 batches.
  • Pour into a 22cm bake cake tin (do not use non-stick and do not grease).
  • Bake for 25mins at 160C forced or 30mins at 180c, or till skewer comes out clean.
  • When cake is out of the oven, immediately invert the cake still in the tin, and place on a cooling rack and leave to cool completely for about 1.5 hours

Voila

The cake was fluffy but not as fluffy as the one uncle gave me. It wasn’t too sweet, which meant Dad can eat it and believe it, with coffee, it was SO hard to stop at one. Oh the childhood memories…..

If you have a good recipe, please let me know and will give that ago in a few weeks or so. What’s your favourite cake?

Easy fluffy lemon and ricotta pancakes!

‘The Mother’s’ favourite breakfast of all time, pancakes with strawberries and drizzled with honey.

I usually use Bill Granger’s Sydney food book recipe – lemon souffle for pancakes, as I find it is one of the fluffiest and best pancakes, however, I had some ricotta cheese leftover and thought I would add it. I omitted the grated lemon zest and just added more lemon juice.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 25g unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 – 1 cup of ricotta cheese

Method

  • Place buttermilk, egg yolks, lemon juice and vanilla essence in a bowl and stir until combined. Add melted butter and mix well.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, caster sugar and salt into a large bowl.
  • Make a well in the centre and gradually stir in buttermilk mixture until the dry ingredients are moist, be careful not to over mix.
  • Gently fold the ricotta cheese.
  • Place egg whites in a dry, clean bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, using a large metal spoon.
  • Melt a small portion of butter in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and drop 2 tablespoons of batter per pancake into the pan. Cook until golden brown.
  • Transfer to plate and keep warm whilst cooking remaining batter.

Served it with strawberries, cut into bite size pieces and drizzle with honey.


DELISH! Soft, pillowy pancakes, it was absolutely wonderful. I managed to make about 9 pancakes from the above ‘The Mother’ wanted five stacked together.

Easy pancakes with strawberries!

Din Tai Fung, Sydney and Tiramisu Recipe

It certainly has been a long time since my last visit to Din Tai Fung (DTF) – can you believe over a year? ‘The Mother’ and I went to the DTF in Hong Kong and Taiwan and it was just as good but for half the price! ‘The Mother’ loves DTF, he claims they are the BEST dumplings in Sydney as they are consistently good. I am not sure if I agree with him – I wouldn’t say its the BEST dumplings in Sydney, but he sure does love them. So when I asked what he wanted to do for his birthday, he suggested DTF.

We had an early dinner, 6 pm and the place was already busy! Thankfully we didn’t have to wait at all and walked straight in. I left all the ordering to ‘The Mother’ (first time ever!) and surprisingly, he ordered well!

Started with my favourite silken tofu with pork floss and a thousand year old egg. ‘The Mother’ is not a huge fan of this, he doesn’t like pork floss and hates cold tofu.

However, this is probably one of my favourite dishes, soft, silky tofu with pork floss and gooey, creamy thousand year old egg. How can he not like thousand year old egg?

We ordered Shanghainese noodles with chicken and soup on the side. The noodles cooked to perfection, slippery and oh so soft.

The chicken incredibly tender, and the soup delicate and lots of flavour. It really complemented the noodles well.

Two servings of xiao long bao – steamed pork dumplings and steamed crab meat and pork dumplings – 8 in each. They are as good as I remembered them to be. Make sure they are cool enough before putting the whole thing in your mouth, as they are juicy and the juice can burn your mouth! Yes, it has happened to me before, a hard lesson learnt! ‘The Mother’ loved it so much that he ate 14 and left me with TWO! yes… TWO – one of each!


The stir fry black pepper steak is a favourite of ours. The meat deliciously tender and succulent with a nice peppery kick. Unfortunately silly me forgot to take a picture, you just have to trust me that it was good!

Green beans with pork mince is also another favourite, and by this stage, we were both getting extremely full!


Service is efficient, by the time we finished at 7pm, there were a queue of people waiting to dine. Don’t fret, turnover is quite quick, so don’t be put off by the queues. However, in saying that, I don’t usually like to wait.

Incredibly full, we really couldn’t stomach any dessert and waddled to the movies to watch Harry Porter. Not a bad film, although the last 45 mins dragged a little.

You can’t have a birthday without a cake right? Earlier that day, I made him a tiramisu. My mixer is currently broken, so I wanted to do something relatively easy that doesn’t require a lot of hard labour!


For the life of me I can’t remember where I got the recipe from but being the lazy cook that I am, I picked the easiest and simplest!


Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, separated (i didn’t have enough eggs so used 2)
  • 1/2 cup Caster sugar (reduced my sugar to only 1/3)
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua)
  • 200ml thickened cream
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 28 sponge finger biscuits
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (didn’t have cocoa powder so grated some dark chocolate!)

Method

  • Beat egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Gently fold in mascarpone and liqueur.
  • Whip cream to firm peaks, fold into mascarpone mixture.
  • Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, fold into mascarpone mixture, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 mins.
  • Combine coffee and warm water in a shallow dish, stirring until coffee dissolves. Dip biscuits 1 at a time in coffee, turning to coat. Place in a single layer, over the base of a 6cm-deep, 18cm x 28 cm (base) baking dish.
  • Spread half the mascarpone mixture over biscuits to cover. Repeat layers with remaining biscuits, coffee, mascarpone mixture.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.
  • Dust top with cocoa powder and serve.

Voila….

To my dear husband, best friend, and the most important person in my life – Happy Birthday and here’s to many more to come!

GA’s ratings for DTF: 7.5 / 10

Din Tai Fung

644 George Street

Sydney 2000

Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon

Blog’s 1st Anniversary.

Time flies when you are having fun. It’s been a year since I started this blog. I toyed with the idea for such a long time but thanks to two lovely friends for encouraging me to start. I have met some wonderful friends in Hong Kong, and how can I forget my dearest SK – you know who you are and others who doesn’t have a foodblog but enjoy eating as much as I do.

I would also like to say a special THANK YOU to my dear soccer friend, P, who came up with the name of this blog. It was too catchy and unique for me not to take it! THANK YOU!

I have eaten at some unforgettable places and some not so memorable places. Have met some wonderful long life friends through food blogging. Have discovered the meaning of food, its culture, the efforts behind it. Have gained a few kgs, a little rounder, a little fatter and increasing cholesterol level which I may have to do something about soon.

Thanks for all your support yo. I know how painful it can be when dining with me – no one is allowed to touch their plates until I have taken a zillion photos! I have always wanted to share my experiences of food with others. I know we all have different palates, and what I love may not be for everyone. However, I still do enjoy sharing them with you.

Many thanks for the laughter, the tears of joy, the good times, and here’s to many more delicious goodness we are about to consume!

Thought to ‘celebrate’ I would make some scones, as I have been craving them and nothing beats fresh-from-the-oven scones!

Basic Scones (from women’s weekly ‘bake’ book)

Preparation time: 20 mins, cooking time 25 times, makes 20.

4 cups (600g) self raising flour

2 tablespoons icing sugar

60 g butter, chopped coarsey

1.5 cups (375ml) milk

¾ cup (180ml) water, approximately

  • Preheat oven to 220 degrees fan-forced. Grease 20cm x 30 cm lamington pan
  • Sift flour and sugar into large bowl, rub in butter with fingerprints
  • Make a wel in centre of flour mixture, add milk and almost all the water. Use knife to ‘cut’ the milk and water through the flour mixture, mixing to a soft, sticky dough. Knead dough on floured surface until smooth
  • Press dough out to 2cm thickness. I used a star shapped cutter to make these. Cut as many as you can from piece of dough. Place scones, side by side, just touching in pan.
  • Gently knead scraps of dough together, repeat pressing and cutting of dough, place in same pan.
  • Brush tops with a little extra milk
  • Bake scones about 15 minutes or until browned and scones sound hollow when tapped firmly on the top with fingers.
  • Served with jam and cream

 

Chinese New Year 2011

Another year in the Chinese calendar has gone by – again, where did the year go?

2011 is the year of the rabbit – a placid year after the ferocious year of the Tiger. I read that people born in the year of the rabbit are reasonably friendly individuals who enjoy the company of a group of good friends.They are kind, loving people and dislike any hostile act. I tend to pick and choose what I read about Chinese astrology, or any astrology for that matter.

Anyway, enough of the astrology, last year ‘The Mother’ and I were in Hong Kong, we had a reasonably quiet CNY eve. No dinners with the family, I think we went to the flower market and had dinner together. I managed to write the Do’s and Dont’s for CNY. This year, I cleaned the house, made some mango pudding and went to my parents place to celebrate what my Mum believes as one of the most important events of the year. It is a time when the family gets together in order to give thanks for the year that has past, and to reinvigorate ourselves for the coming year.

As per usual, Mum cooked up a storm – eight different types of dishes, eight being the number for good luck! Mum made all my favourite dishes, no guessing what they were, pork balls, pork belly and pork knuckles – my goodness! The recipe has been passed down from generation to generation (stopped at my mother as I have yet to learn how to make this traditional dish!)

Braised pork belly with mushrooms were absolutely divine! I am a tad bias here, but it is the BEST pork belly ever! Tender with a slither of fat, my goodness, unbelievable! Eaten with man tao (chinese steamed buns) – perfect!

Pork knuckle is also another favourite of mine – succulent, juicy and melt in your mouth – WOW! Bad for the cholesterol, but totally scrumptious!

Unfortunately, I didn’t take photos of each individual dish – which is very unusual for me. However, below is a photo of the marvelous feast that Mum and my sister-in-law, O, made.

Steamed fish which in chinese is ‘yu’ sounds like the words for wish and abundance. So having the fish symbolizes a wish for abundance in the coming year.

The shark fin soup – a favourite dish of mine. O made this, a little different to mum’s but it was absolutely superb! A sign of wealth and fortune, so more for me!

The noodles,which represent longevity and long life was magnificent.

O also made these wonderful prawns! We needed a bit of colour, a bit of red, and these prawns were it! Red being the colour for happiness so these delicious prawns symbolises joy.

Last but not least, bakso goreng – deep fried pork balls (yes – Mum certainly knows how much I love pork!) were unreal. I couldn’t help but eat five prior to dinner, I can’t remember how many I managed  to eat.

My contribution to the feast – mango pudding, recipe adapted from food safari.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 6 tsp powdered gelatine
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 litre soft mango ice cream
  • 75ml evaporated milk
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1 large mango, peeled seeded and diced

Instructions:

  • Remove ice cream an hour before starting to allow it to soften.
  • Boil some water and place in a bowl – mix sugar and gelatine together. Stir until all is dissolved and thick and syrupy.
  • Pour into a large bowl and add mango ice cream and stir until smooth.
  • Add evaporated milk, crushed ice and diced mango pieces and stir together.
  • Pour mixture into individual serving glasses or bowls.
  • Chill in the refrigerator until set, at least two hours.

Unfortunately, I was too full to eat any desserts. I could not move! ‘The Mother’ had to carry me back to the car. The other diners had some and thought it was wonderful. I did leave one at home, and will have it later for dessert.

It was a wonderful evening spent with family. I even got some ang pao (red packets) from Mum! I guess you are never too old to receive them!

To my dear friends and family, Xin Nian Kuai Le! All the best in 2011 – Wishing you all the happiness, good times, and good fortunes to cherish forever! Here’s to 2011!