Monday, November 26, 2007
The semifreddo is actually a Pistachio and Raspberry Semifreddo, but obviously it can be adapted and you can add anything you like.
So what's my verdict. Well, I love the semifreddo part. It's so smooth and deliciously rich. It's also very easy to make. I think the combination of pistachio and raspberries is quite good. I made the fatal mistake of thinking more is better and added way too much raspberries. This made some parts really sour and also hard as ice. The water content in the raspberries turn into ice and it's not nice at all. In future, I'm going to make this with pistachios and maybe dried figs. The honey flavour and rose water should go great with the figs.
This dessert is definitely one I will make again. It's very easy and you can make any flavours you like and serve with a million things. Serve with boiled fruit, a biscotti, fresh fruits, cakes, anything bascially. Thanks Vida for the recipe. I love it.
Pistachio, Rasberry and Rosewater Semifreddo
6 egg yolks
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup whipped cream
2 teaspoons rosewater
200 gm raspberries
3 tablespoons shelled pistachio nuts, chopped
Any other combination of flavours can be used instead of the raspberries and pistachios.
Beat the egg yolks and honey together with an electric mixer for about 10 minutes or until thick, pale, creamy and doubled in volume. Lightly fold in the whipped cream and rosewater.
Line the base and sides of a 1 litre loaf tin with plastic wrap, leaving the sides overlapping so you can use it cover and also lift the semifreddo out.
Freeze for 1-2 hours, or until partially frozen, then remove from freezer and stir through the raspberries and pistachios. Recover with the plastic wrap and return to the freezer until completely frozen.
Before serving leave it to soften in the fridge for about 15 or 20 minutes. Slice and serve with extra raspberries.
The cake was very easy to make. Mine didn't look as good as Stickyfingers due to not having a nice star shaped tin. I tried to decorate it a little by using some lemon rind in the syrup and shaped the rind into a flower.
So what's the verdict on the cake. We all liked the flavour of the lemon. That part was great. The texture though was a bit too rough for my liking. It wasn't as smooth as I thought it would be due to the yoghurt. I think it may be the semolina that made it a bit rougher in texture.
Lemon Yoghurt Cake
200g castor sugar
4 teaspoons lemon zest (I double this)
50g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
250g fine semolina
200g ground almonds
6 tablespoons lemon juice
120g plain yoghurt
1 cup lemon juice
175g castor sugar
½ tablespoon brandy (I use a tablespoon of Limoncello)
I add a tablespoon of glucose syrup – it makes a thicker syrup, but it’s not mandatory
Cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until the mixture is pale and smooth. Then beat in the eggs, one by one, ensuring each one
is completely incorporated before adding the next. Sift flour and baking baking powder over the top, and gently fold in with the semolina and ground almonds. Then mix in the lemon juice and yoghurt. Pour the mixture into a well- greased springform tin (I use a silicone cake mould, and the cake pops out easily), and bake in a preheated 170 °C oven for 50-60 minutes, or when the cake is firm to the touch and golden brown.
Combine the lemon juice, sugar and brandy/Limoncello, glucose in a small pan and bring them to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for
5 minutes to make a syrup.
Remove the cake from the oven and pierce it all over with a skewer. Pour the syrup over the hot cake and allow it to soak in. I remove the cake from the silicon mould when it has cooled and then add a little more syrup to the top. The cake will keep in an airtight container for several days.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I met up at their house in Glen Waverley. They were kind enough to offer me some very nice organic white wine. We then sat and talked a bit, with PG and Furry's friends George and Jane (again, terrible with names, correct me if I'm wrong PG) also there for a while. It felt like I had known PG and Furry for a long time. Everything was so natural and conversation just flowed. I didn't feel anything weird despite meeting "a scary online friend" as PG put it.
After drinking until I started to feel the effects a bit, we were getting hungry and headed off to Glen Waverley to eat a simple "non-wanky" meal in the words of Furry. It was to be at Proud Peacock, a Vietnamese restaurant located on Kingsway in Glen Waverley. According to PG, she was going to introduce me to an attractive young single Vietnamese girl who I could have children with. Hahahaha, now how can you refuse an offer like that. Upon entering, the waitress, Jane, said hi and then turned and said "Supposedly, we're getting married and having children together". That was hilarious. PG and Furry must go to Proud Peacock often.
The meal itself was quite good. For a much better description of it than mine, go and read PG's post on it. I will attempt to recall what I can remember, since the wine had taken some effect on me. From memory, the meal was no worse than in Springvale and equally cheap. We had Bei Guon (pork rolls), Goi Guon (prawn rolls) and Spring Rolls for entrees. I really liked the Bei Guon with the peanut/sweet sauce dip.
For mains, I got the Satay Beef. It was the spicy type satay, which I like with my stir fried beef rather than the peanut type. PG got the Pho Dac Biet (Special Beef Soup) which had raw beef, cooked beef, beef balls, tendons etc. She had it's not the best Pho ever but still good. Furry got the Seafood Stir Fry. He said it was very good.
After we finished eating, we even got a free plate of desserts. There was the Galub Jamun, which I had always known as an Indian/Pakistani type dessert. However, looking up Wikipedia, it says that this dessert may be it's origin from a Vietnamese dessert. Anyway, this Galub Jamun was nice and warm still and very good. It's not as good as the ones a Pakistani work mate brought in to work one day, but still nice.
At the end of the meal, Furry even paid for my meal. Thanks heaps for that guys. It's my shout next time.
I had such a great night, meeting people who I hardly knew but now know so much better. I heard so many funny stories and laughed so hard. It was very nice of PG and Furry to invite me to their home even though they hardly knew me. It's funny how people can connect through the internet nowadays because of commone interests. I can sense a lot of other food adventures to come together. I've even been provisionally invited to a fishing trip in Dromana at their holiday home. Depending on the timing and how my work load is like, I would love to go.
To sum it all up, it was a great night where I met some really genuine people who I'm sure I will see again. The food was quite good and value for money. As for kids with the waitress, I may have to go back to Proud Peacock some more.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The wedding reception was held at Gold Leaf Restarant in Springvale. It was heaps of fun and I caught up with so many friends from high school days that I haven't seen for a while.
Here is what the restaurant looked like.
From left, Justin, Tuan, Mov behind and myself.
Kim Anh and I. Kim Anh was looking great, having lost weight since high school whereas I have gained lots of weight.
The bride, Leanne looking a million dollars. I looked more like $79.95, the cost of my shirt and tie.
The happy couple, Leanne and Kheang looking great.
There was music and speeches all night, with a speech from Tuan, the best man being extremely funny. It relayed a story of a fishing trip that we all went on right after high school. It was highly memorable trip and everything he talked about I also remembered so clearly. It was a trip that nearly killed us all, but also brought us all much closer.
The night also included dancing and some fun games, such as this one where the groom tried to get the bridal garter.
In terms of the food, it was a very traditional Asian style wedding meal, with lots of course. It started off with a cold platter of meats, roast pork, cured beef and jellyfish. It was all very good, accompanied by the XO sauce.
The crab claw didn't have too much crab, more minced prawn, but was still good.
A seafood bird's nest was the next dish. It was probably the worst dish of the night, with the flavours not working for me.
The lobster with noodles was good and I gobbled down every last piece without having to use my fingers at all. I loved the noodles that have absorbed all the flavours of the lobster.
A shark fin soup with crab meat then gave a bit of cleansing between more dished. The soup was a bit runny for my liking and the flavour of the crab wasn't strong enough.
A quarter of a squab was then served with it's crispy skin. A sprinkle of salt and pepper made it even more delicious. The head was even served, and Jo helped me gobble mine as I don't like the head too much.
In between the eating, we also did some drinking. Here is Kin holding a fairly full bottle of V.S.O.P Cognac.
Those who didn't have to drive drank away at the beer and Cognac. Here is Jo having a drink.
The foods that followed were a whole Barramundi, steamed with soy sauce and spring onions. There was also some fried rice and noodles. I liked the fish and fried rice, but the noodle was too good. By that last savoury dish, we managed to finish off the cognac. I was starting to feel it a bit, so forgot to take photos of the food towards the end. You can just make out the noodles in the corner of the photos.
Some little red bean desserts finished off the meal. I then talked to a lot of people and got people's details to catch up more. We all danced around and the bride threw the bridal bouquet. Everyone congratulated the happy couple and headed off home at about midnight.
Edit: Just for the sake of accuracy, Stickyfingers was saying how the only thing missing was abalone. Well I must have been more drunk than I thought since when I was writing it up, I totally forgot about the abalone and sea cucumber that followed the squab. It was very nice indeed.
By the time we got there, it was already about 1:30pm (we're all late starters on weekends, especially after a few too many drinks the previous night), so we were starving. There was a very healthy crowd along the street as it was a glorious day.
We started to work our way through the stalls and everything looked so good. The first thing we went past was Paella, seafood paella to be precise. How could I pass that up, so we got a box to share. It was delicious, with the rice being beautifully flavoured. The only way it could have been improved was if it contained some chorizo.
So missing our chorizo, we next got a Churrasco Plate. It had a mixture of pork wrapped in bacon, chorizo and beef. It was all yummy, served with rice and potato salad. The only problem was, we still didn't have enough of a chorizo fix.
So while we went and grabbed some refreshing home made lemonade, we eyed some chorizon cooking. We went and got chorizo in a roll with caramelised onion and a salsa (the salad that is, not the dance). The sausage was yummy yummy yummy. The salsa with it's slightly acidic flavour went great with it.
We were all getting full by this stage, and got a shaved ice dessert. I still spied all these pastries and bbq meats that I must try next year.
To finish off, I had wanted some churros. But I guess it wasn't meant to be. At one stall where I was lining up for ages and was finally second in line, the churros machine BROKE. There was outrage, people were waiting for their churros. The crowd was ready to revolt, but nothing could be done. The technician was trying to fix it but to no avail. Hence I had to drop my head and walk away from it. The meant everyone walked over to the other stall that sold the churros. The queue was so large and I was feeling the effect of the sun from lining up the first time so I decide churros would just have to wait till another time.
Instead, we settled for Dipping Dots. They're ice cream, but in tiny droplets. I think they're probably made by dropping ice cream into liquid nitrogen or something. They are ultra cold when they hit your mouth and start to melt instantly. It's pretty cool since each drop is a different flavour and you get different combinations of flavours depending on which drops you had together. After a while though, the novelty started to wear off and I decided that they weren't as nice and normal smooth ice cream.
Finally, with our bellies full, we made it to the end of the street where they were judging the winners of the dance competition. There was a massive roar from the crowd when Peru was announced as the winners. They then went on to perform their winning dance.
After soaking up some more sun, it was time to go home and digest all the sights and tastes of the day. A final stop in some shops along the street saw many interesting things like antique furniture to Christmas decorations. A very enjoyable and relaxing day.
At Falafel Kitchen, you would probably want to try falafel. And as much as I love falafel, the sight of the lamb spinning on the gyro meant I had to eat that. Everyone else had more or less the same thing, just variations of it. There were lamb wraps, lamb pockets where you get to put in your own salads and the lamb plate that I got, where again you get to pick your own salads.
Here is my lamb plate.
The roast lamb was very tender and yummy. In terms of salad, you can pick from a huge variety. There was a pasta salad, a couple of variations of pickled vegetables, taboleh of course, coleslaw, potato salad, chickpea and sweet potato salad, green salad etc. Then there were condiments such as hommus (what is the correct spelling, hummus, hommus, hommous?), garlic sauce, chilli sauce etc. A very nice mix of stuff that you can choose from to accompany your choice of meat. Very nice, I will be going back.
So the verdict on the cake. It's very easy to make, although I probably won't use the food processor next time as it was really thick and hard to whiz. I think a beater would work just as well.
In terms of the cake itself, it's ok. The cake texture is a bit rough for my liking. The custard filling also isn't as smooth as I like. I guess that's because it's just made using custard powder rather than however real custard is made, usually with eggs I think. But you gotta love the chocolate frosting with the hundreds and thousands, it's so cool. Reminded me of the cakes from when I was in primary school. Ah the memories. So just for that fact alone, I would make it again as a birthday cake, but not if I want to eat a really nice cake.
Custard Sponge Cake
For the cake
* 200 g plain flour
* 3 tbsp custard powder
* 2 tsp baking powder
* ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
* 4 eggs
* 225 g soft butter
* 200 g caster sugar
* 2 tbsp milk
For the buttercream filling
* 125 g icing sugar
* 4 tsp custard powder
* 75 g soft unsalted butter
* 1½ tsp boiling water
For the chocolate icing
* 60 ml water
* 2 tbsp golden syrup
* 125 g caster sugar
* 175 g dark chocolate
* Hundreds and thousands
For the cake
1. Make sure everything you need is at room temperature before you start. Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F, Gas 4, butter and line two 20cm sandwich tins.
2. Put all the cake ingredients, apart from the milk, into a food processor. Process to a smooth batter, and then add the milk 1 tbsp at a time to make a soft dropping consistency. Divide between the two cake tins and bake for 20 minutes. The cakes will have risen and feel spookily puffy; this is because of the cornflour in the custard powder.
3. Let the tins sit on a cooling rack for 5 minutes and then turn them out on to the rack, peeling away the paper.
For the buttercream filling
1. Process the icing sugar and custard powder to get rid of any lumps, and then add the butter, processing again to make the buttercream come together. Feed the boiling water down the funnel with the motor running to make the filling easier to spread. Then sandwich the cooled sponges together with the custardy buttercream.
For the chocolate icing
1. Combine the water, syrup and sugar in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve over a low heat. Let it come to the boil and then take it of the heat.
2. Break up the chocolate into small pieces and then add to the pan, swirling it around to cover in the hot liquid. Leave to melt for a few minutes, and then whisk the icing to make it smooth and shiny. Pour over the buttercream filled cake, letting it drip down the sides, and then sprinkle generously with the hundreds and thousands before the icing sets.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Firstly, before I start, apologies if I get anyone's name wrong. I'm hopeless with names so please correct any mistakes. Here goes.
I was one of the earlier arrivers as I came straight from work. I put on my "Yoda Says: Blogging This I Am" t-shirt just for the occasion. Already at the wood fired oven were Ed, Peggy from A Goddess In The Kitchen plus hubby Furry (real name I forget) and Kate from Get Real was also there with partner, whose name also eludes me. I started off by replying to Ed's comment about how he looked like Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear and saying there was a little resemblance. Judge for yourself, below is Ed on the left and Jeremy on the right.
That got everyone started about Top Gear and their favourite episode. I thought I was a fan since I have watched quite a few episodes, but I was no match for everyone else who seems to have watched EVERY episode.
As the night wore on, more and more people started to arrive. Elliot from 1001 Dinners 1001 Nights arrived with his lovely wife Sandra (sorry if this isn't your name, please correct me). I'm not sure about the name, but Sandra (I'll keep using that name for now) and I talked about China, as she was actually born there, despite being Russian. We talked about various Chinese cuisine. Elliot also came prepared and handed out a very very difficult food quiz. I have to admit I wasn't sure of any answers. It turns out, from reading Elliot's blog, that Neil from At My Table won. Neil arrived with the whole family, including daughter, who I only ever knew as P from the blog. And you've guessed it, I've already forgotten her name so it will remain P for me.
We all tucked into the tortillas and prawns that Neil brought whilst more people arrived. Josh, from The Day of The Expanding Man (who should be sued for inaccurate portrayal of himself as he is really thin) arrived and made a grand entrance. Let's just say there was some flying wine involved. We tucked into Josh's delicious dips while we waited for more people.
Vida from Vida fame arrived, with cake in hand I saw. Then a face I finally recognised, Anna from Sharing My Interest arrived. She looked confused when I called her name, until I showed her my "Blogging This I Am" t-shirt.
From there, I sort of lost track of everyone as I was too busy eating. But Jon from Melbourne Foodie, Sarah and friend Hannah (?) from Sarah Cooks, Cindy from Where's The Beef (answer, there is no beef, she's vegetarian), Jackie from Eating With Jack, Claire from Melbourne Gastronome, Stickyfingers Jane with hubby Jon from Deep Dish Dreams (love this blog name, somehow it keeps triggering a link with some sci-fi book) and Ned, from a yet to be made blog all arrived. Phew, hope I didn't miss anyone.
Ok, I didn't miss Duncan, I was going to start him in a new paragraph, seeing as he arrived a bit later than everyone. So while we were all eating away, last to arrive was Duncan from Syrup and Tang, holding a box of the yummiest macaroons ever. Mmmm. I only ate two as I wanted to leave some for others. Actually I know I missed one person. Someone arrived much much later and I didn't even catch his name.
Some group shots. You can try to guess who is who.
Kate and Ed did a fantastic job cooking the pizzas all night. There were a few minor errors at the start where we got some really black frisbees, but after they started to get the hang of it, some wonderful pizza combos were arriving. I like the one where we drizzled Vida's "Secret Special Sauce" (apparently not that secretive as she has posted the recipe on her blog but it was more alluring to call it the secret sauce still) onto the pizza. The sauce had chocolate in it and we drizzled it on pizza, but strangely it worked.
Some close ups, Sarah, Cindy and Vida.
Peggy and I trying not to show our double chins.
Cindy and I. I have really small eyes when I smile, smaller than usual even.
All night, Stickyfinger and I were having a shoot out.....with our cameras.
Again, I got another shot of the elusive creature known as Stickyfingers. You can only ever see her behind a lens. I have to admit defeat, she definitely outshot me. She had much bigger equipment and won through magnificence of photos.
And my one food porn shot of the night, this stunning looking Barramundi and Risotto dish provided and cooked by Stickyfingers. It was delicious, and you all know I don't really like fish.
You can check out more photos from the night at the Flickr Group page.
It was such a fun night and thanks heaps to Ed for organising it and being such a great host. It was so great to finally put faces to blogs that I read all the time. There were many lively discussions about all aspects of food, from legal issues, to recipes, to personal experiences on various topics, and of course restaurants.
I have to say that as much as I enjoyed meeting everyone, the people who I was most pleased to meet was Ed, because I really respect his views on many issues in food. Cindy, just because I've read her blog the longest and feel like I know her the most. A surprise was Vida, who I only recently started to read her blog, but her bubbly personality put a smile on my face all night. Vida, Cindy and I will also be connected due to one brief moment where we all said "I love 'So You Think You Can Dance'" and all cracked up laughing like crazy.
Hopefully we can organise another meetup and catch up with like minded "food blog friends" and meet even more new friends.
The real Comme Kitchen is much smaller than the photos. You walk from Alfred Place through these large double glass doors. You are then greeted by THE staircase, but it looks much more plain in real life. We didn't know where the restaurant part was, so went up the stairs, only to find empty function rooms. A trip back down again and walking towards the bar saw us find the restaurant part tucked around the corner. The restaurant part was even more disappointing in terms of the architecture. It was like a tiny corner with some tables tucked in. It did have an ultra cool underground working cellar.
The lighting was too low and it didn't have too much atmosphere due to the small area. It did pick up during the night, but it still felt weird with a constant stream of people walking from the bar to the toilets all night. Although, that does have its advantages too. Let's just say that people come here to be seen, and they certainly get all dressed up for it.
My dinner companions for the night was my newly discoverd "sisters" Jessie and Wei and my long lost "brother" Emmanuel. We did look like a weird bunch, with no obvious connection. I guess we could pass for a family with the modern family being made up of all types. But the reality is that we're friends from work.
We decided to order dishes and share everything, which I like since then I get to try everything. Emmanuel ordered a Coldstream Pinot Noir, which was very smooth and mellow.
I picked the Tasting Plate entree and really liked everything on it. Everyone else said it was ok. I said they all didn't appreciate fine food. There was things like air cured beef, prosciutto, chicken terrine, beef tartare, dumpling, cabbage salad with fish roe, onion jam, dill cucumbers and capers. The only thing I didn't like was the crispbread thing.
The Quail with Zucchini was nice, but overpriced I reckon. It cost $18, the same as the Tasting Plate, and that was way better. The quail tasted like something I made a while ago.
The last entree of Chargrilled Octopus with Chickpea salad was probably the best dish of the night. I loved the chargrilled octopus, but it was the chickpea that was a highlight. They were beautifully flavoured with a great sauce.
The best mains dish was the one Wei picked, a Medley of Lamb with Salad and Roasted Eggplant. The lamb was done in a couple of styles and had varying taste, all good.
Jessie's choice of Turbot with Zuchinni Flowers was, how should I say it, awful. I don't like fish usually, and this turned out to be one of those usually. I've never had Turbot before so am not sure if its suppose to taste ultra ultra fishy. Even the smell of it was putting me off. Needless to say, I only had that first bite.
Emmanuel's choice of the Veal with Hollandaise Sauce was good too. I liked the crisp burnt edges of the veal with a dash of sauce.
I chose the Wagyu Steak with Mushrooms. It was good, but not as good as I expected. I had high hopes when John Lethlean from The Age said that this steak was one of the best five in Melbourne. However, I think it may be a different steak. The article was written about a year ago, and from memory he said it was an aged Rump Steak. This grade 6 Wagyu wasn't as full in flavour as the Wagyu I had Ishiya Stonegrill.
While we were eating mains, right at the start bascially where I was serving everyone the fish, I accidentally knocked over my glass of red wine. I'm so clumsy, it's amazing I don't knock over more wine glasses. Anyway, this little incident showed how amazingly professional the service was. The lovely waitress just casually walked over and said "I'll take that camera away first so it doesn't get wine in it". Next she got another napkin and started to soak up the wine. Another waitress came immediately too without causing a big scene and put more napkins on the spill. Then the first waitress just cleared my plate and got me a fresh one. She then even offered me a free glass of Pinot. I kindly said I was fine. Jessie's quick reflex meant I still had half a glass of wine left. Amazingly, I didn't get one drop of wine on me at all. And the way that dealt so calmly with everything meant I wasn't embarrased either, just a little sheepish when I got my new plate.
For dessert, we got the Semifreddo with Rhubard. I loved it, the soft nougat semifreddo with it's sweetness was balanced by the very interesting tartness of the rhubarb.
The Chocolate Delice was as I expected. Ultra decandent chocolate wrapped softer chocolate inside that was mixed with strawberry coulis. The macadamia ice cream was a hit with everyone too.
The food was all very good, although not exactly cheap. This is a good place for a celebration due to it's smaller area and hence more intimate setting. There were two other tables with someone celebrating their birthday.
The service, as mentioned earlier was exceptional. Our first waiter expertly explained the specials on offer. We got everything we asked for. And the waitress who helped clean up my spill also came around many times and joked with us. Emmanuel even jokingly asked for another glass of wine, which she did bring.
Overall Rating: 15/20, Food is good. Fairly expensive so good for a special occasions. Service is exceptional.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.