Monday, August 29, 2011

Chocolate and Pear Tart with Cardamom Creme Anglaise

chocolate and pear tart

I bought some absolutely beautiful pears last week. I know, I know, I get a little obsessed with them every winter, but how could you not? They lend themselves to cold-weather cooking so beautifully, both in sweets and savouries. When I got home, I found that Mum had also bought a slew of pears and my brain went into overdrive thinking about what I could do with them all. And for some reason, every idea seemed to involve pears and chocolate.

I was a little wary of the combination at first but I’ve seen it work beautifully and I wanted to give it a try. I used Matt Moran’s insanely good chocolate crust from the Aria Chocolate tart, which is kind of magical. It uses eggs to bind it together instead of iced water, which I think is the reason that it doesn’t shrink in the oven. It’s a godsend because shrinking pastry is one of my absolute pet hates in baking!

The tart filling is lovely and rich thanks to the ground almonds and cocoa. I underbaked mine a tiny bit so it was nice and gooey in the middle, with the perfectly cooked pears lending a lovely floral taste. It just was delicious with a lightly spiced cardamom crème anglaise. I loved how elegant this dessert turned out to be, and it would be a great way to end a dinner party. And, as always, a good splash of booze in the filling wouldn’t go astray – perhaps some Kahlua for a slight coffee hit.

chocolate and pear tart

Pear and Chocolate Tart with Cardamom Crème Anglaise
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Serves 8

Chocolate Pastry (this makes enough for 2 tarts)
• 320g plain flour
• 60g cocoa
• 160g caster sugar
• 160g cold unsalted butter, diced
• 2 eggs

Filling
• 160g unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1 cup almond meal
• ¾ cup sugar
• 3 large eggs
• 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 3 firm, ripe pears (use 4 if pears are small)

Cardamom Crème Anglaise
• 3 egg yolks
• 55g caster sugar
• 6-8 cardamom pods
• 250ml milk
• 250ml pouring cream

To make the chocolate pastry, place the flour, cocoa, sugar, butter and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add eggs and process until dough just starts to come together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until smooth. Flatten into a disc shape, wrap in clingwrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

Roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick. Line the base and sides of two tart tins (I used 20cm round tins) with the pastry, and trim any excess. Alternately, halve pastry, wrap excess in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 6 months. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to rest. Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking weights or rice. Bake at 160°C (320°F) for 10 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake for a further 5-10 minutes or until firm to the touch. Allow to cool.

To make the filling, place butter, almond meal, sugar, eggs, cocoa and vanilla extract in the bowl of a food processor and process until combined. Spread mixture evenly in prepared tart crust. Peel, halve and core pears. Cut into quarters and slice horizontally, but not all the way through. Arrange on top of chocolate mixture, pressing in very slightly.

Increase oven temperature to 180°C (350°F). Place pan on baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes or until top is puffed and toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached. Cool completely in pan.

In the meantime, make the cardamom crème anglaise. Lightly whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl. Place the milk, cream and cardamom in a saucepan and bring almost to the boil. Remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 30 minutes. Return to the heat and rewarm. Whisk the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, and return to the saucepan.

Using a wooden spoon, stir constantly until the custard thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Do not let it boil. Strain through a fine sieve, allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold. Crème anglaise will keep refrigerated for one or two days. To serve warm, gently reheat in a saucepan over low heat.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Aseana Food Village, Randwick

aseana food village, randwick

As the Malaysia Kitchen Bloggers Summit draws to a close this week, I’d like to thank Greg and the team for asking me to be involved in this month-long discovery of Malaysian food. I loved trying lots of new dishes at lots of new restaurants, each one doing some dishes particularly well, and I’d be hard pressed to choose a favourite. You can’t go past the roti at Mamak, while the amazing Beef Rendang was a great surprise at Kopitiam. I loved the Hainanese Chicken Rice and Pandan Crepe at Malacca Straits, and during this week’s visit to Aseana Food Village in Randwick, it was the Rojak that stole my heart.

Also, there’s still time to vote by liking this post on the Malaysia Kitchen Bloggers Summit website, and I could win a foodie’s adventure in Malaysia!

Karen and I had planned a Tuesday night catch up, and much gossip ensued as we trekked out to Randwick. The menu is a rather interesting mix of traditional Malaysian, Singaporean and Burmese dishes, and though we stuck to the Malaysian side of things for the purposes of this visit, I’d love to go back and try some of the other dishes in the future.

I just couldn’t go past the Milo Godzilla ($5.50) on the drinks menu, I mean could you? A heap of undissolved Milo sat over a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which was floating atop a glass of ice cold Milo. It was a wicked concoction, but one that soon defeated me as I could only finish half of it, it was almost like a meal in itself! Karen ordered a Teh Ais, which was one of the best I’ve had. The tea flavour was strong yet it was still nice and sweet.

aseana food village, randwick

A good Rojak is apparently quite hard to find in Sydney. Aseana’s rojak ($8.90) was very different to the one at Mamak, but much more of a traditional rendition with freshly cut fruit and crispy Chinese doughnuts, covered in a semi-sweet sauce and topped with roasted peanuts. It was so good, definitely a highlight of the whole month of Malaysian eating and will be ordered on every return visit to Aseana for sure! We also ordered the Achar-Achar, (pictured in the back - $5.00) lightly pickled vegetables covered in ground peanuts.

aseana food village, randwick

We also tried the Traditional Nasi Lemak, with coconut rice and all the traditional accompaniments ($7) and the addition of Beef Rendang, (+$4) which was delicious, though the chicken curry also looked amazing and I wish we had ordered that as well!

aseana food village, randwick

I was really looking forward to trying the Bak Kut Teh ($12.90) which is a popular dish in Malaysia and Singapore. The name translates to “meat bone tea” - pork ribs brewed for hours with herbs and spices (such as cinnamon, cloves, star anise etc) and served in the dark coloured soup. It was served with rice, delicious fried dipping sticks, and a chilli and garlic sauce. I really liked it, and the pork meat was nice and tender but I was expecting the soup to be a little more flavoursome considering all of the delicious spices that go into it.

aseana food village, randwick

We also tried the Asam Fish ($13.90) – fish and vegetables gently stewed in tamarind juice. I’m glad that there wasn’t a strong fishy taste to the dish, but I think it must have been too heavy on the tamarind because it was very, very tangy and this dish was left largely untouched.

aseana food village, randwick

Kaya toast ($3) is a hugely popular snack in Malaysia, but there aren’t many restaurants in Sydney that serve it (much to the dismay of Malaysian food bloggers!) Kaya is a golden-coloured spread made from eggs, sugar, coconut milk and flavoured with pandan, which is usually served on toast with lots of butter. It’s often served with soft-boiled eggs and a cup of tea or coffee, which is also available at Aseana. I totally loved it and decided I’ll have to try Steph’s recipe for homemade kaya one of these days!

aseana food village, randwick

Of course we had to order an Ais Kacang ($5.00) as we have every week of the Bloggers Summit. This one was quite heavy on the rose syrup, but I liked it. The ice was finely shaved and interestingly the corn was in kernels rather than creamed. I love how refreshing this dessert always is at the end of a meal!

Aseana is a relatively new restaurant – just over a year old – and a great discovery for some hard-to-find dishes like the Rojak and Kaya Toast in Sydney, and they do both really really well. Karen commented that the red plastic plates bring back memories of Malaysia. Service is a little hard to track down at times when the restaurant fills up, but the food and drinks are served quickly. I can’t wait to return to try some of the Burmese specialties!

Spicyicecream dined as a guest of Malaysia Kitchen

Aseana Food Village on Urbanspoon

Aseana Food Village – Shop 1/149 Alison Rd, Randwick (02) 9399 7010
Cash only

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sticky Date Cheesecake with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

sticky date cheesecake

If you’ve been reading for a while, you might know that I have a distinct fondness for sticky date pudding. Come winter, it’s one of the things I crave the most. In fact, I’d go so far to say that I’d ask for it as part of my last meal, or wish it to be one of my few possessions on a desert island. This year I wanted to do something a little bit different, since I have already posted multiple pudding recipes over the years (always in August... coincidence?) and I decided to turn it into a cheesecake.

It’s a funny story really, I thought I was being a bit clever with this flavour combination and set about combining a few different recipes to give me the perfect sticky date cheesecake. I had already made the gingernut crust base (I love gingernut biscuits!) and the sticky date filling. As I was unwrapping the cream cheese from the packaging, what was the recipe on the back? Sticky date cheesecake!

Crazy coincidences aside, I stuck to my recipe and I was so happy with how it turned out. I have issues with really dense, heavy cheesecakes and can usually only manage a few bites of them before throwing in my dessert fork in defeat, but this one is the perfect texture. In fact, it's deceptively light, considering that there's half a kilo of cream cheese in it! I used a recipe that I had made before (but never got around to blogging) and substituted caster sugar for brown sugar, which was just lovely with the dates.

No sticky date pudding is complete without an awesome caramel sauce. I tricked mine up with a good glug of bourbon and some sea salt. This sauce is also totally amazing over ice cream, in the rare case that you have any leftover. Or, make extra and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

sticky date cheesecake

Sticky Date Cheesecake with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Serves 10
Adapted from taste.com.au

Cheesecake
• 1 x 250g packets gingersnap biscuits
• 125g butter, melted
• 2 x 250g packets cream cheese, room temperature
• 200ml sour cream
• 100g brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 eggs

Sticky Date Mixture
• Melted butter, to grease
• 1 ½ cups seedless dates
• 1/3 cup bourbon
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Bourbon Caramel Sauce
• 1 cup pouring cream
• 60g butter, chopped
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons bourbon
• Big pinch sea salt

Brush a 24cm springform pan with melted butter to lightly grease. Place the biscuits in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely crushed. Add the butter and process until combined. Transfer to the prepared pan and press firmly over the base. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

Place the dates and bourbon in a saucepan over low heat and simmer until liquid is absorbed. Place into a food processor with 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and pulse until it becomes a smooth mixture. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F). Place the cream cheese, sour cream and brown sugar in the bowl of stand mixer and mix until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.

Pour half the cream cheese mixture onto the prepared biscuit base, then spoon in the sticky date filling. Swirl with a skewer and then pour the remaining cream cheese mixture on top. Bake for about 1 hour or until just set. Turn oven off and cool inside with the door ajar, for 1 hour. Place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight to chill.

To make bourbon caramel sauce, place the cream, butter, sugar, bourbon and sea salt in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, bring to the boil and cook for 5-7 minutes or until thickened. Set aside and allow to cool.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Malacca Straits, Broadway

malacca straits, broadway

We arrive at Malacca Straits a few minutes early for our Friday night booking. The restaurant is tucked away inside the Quadrant Building’s courtyard, just off Broadway, and was bustling when we arrived. The girls and I had pre-perused the menu online and were looking forward to trying pretty much all of the specials!

We’re now into Week 3 of the Malaysia Kitchen Bloggers Summit, and it’s been great so far, trying lots of new dishes at lots of new restaurants! I would absolutely love it if you could shoot me some LIKES (just follow the link, and it's at the bottom of the post), and I might be off on a foodie adventure to Malaysia!!

malacca straits, broadway

The fresh coconut juice ($5.00) caught my eye, and the sweet juice and fresh coconut flesh was the perfect foil for some of the spicier dishes that we ordered. Steph, Linda and Betty decided on Chinese tea.

malacca straits, broadway

We start with the Otak Otak, ($12 for 3 pieces) which I hadn’t tried before. Spiced fish fillets are wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in coconut milk. It was quite spicy and also a little dense in texture. It has had mixed reviews on some Sydney food blogs, and maybe it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, or the restaurant was having an average day in the kitchen, but this wasn’t my favourite dish of the evening.

malacca straits, broadway

I did however love the Char Tau Keuh, ($11.80) a fried radish cake with sambal, bean sprouts and eggs. It’s another dish I had never tried before, but that is the thing I’m loving most about taking part in this Bloggers Summit! The radish was nicely fried but still kept a lovely soft texture, and I would definitely order it again in a heartbeat.

malacca straits, broadway

After being denied our Hainanese Chicken Rice fix a few days earlier at Kopitiam, we had to try it here. The steamed chicken ($9.50) was served with fragrant rice, chilli sauce and cucumber, accompanied with a bowl of clear soup. The chicken was beautifully tender and the rice was flavoursome. It ticked all the boxes and satisfied our Chicken Rice cravings.

malacca straits, broadway

The Penang Kapitan Chicken curry ($14.80) was described as boneless chicken in a “special sauce” with ground spices and herbs. The curry was mild and creamy, and the chicken pieces were nice and tender.

malacca straits, broadway

We ordered the Cereal Prawns, only to be told that they were sold out. It was a little disappointing since Helen had raved about them after her visit! Instead we order the Angel Hair Prawns ($23.80) – crispy prawns in buttery egg floss with curry leaves. Very similar to the soft shell crab dish we had at Alices, this was delicious, but quite rich. We had quite a lot left over, which Steph took home to A.

malacca straits, broadway

I think the highlight of the meal for me was the desserts, I loved all three that we ordered! The Kuih Ketayap ($5) was a delicious pandan flavoured crepe filled with roasted coconut and palm sugar, served with vanilla ice cream. I seem to be instantly enamoured with anything pandan flavoured and this was no exception. I could have easily eaten the whole thing on my own!

malacca straits, broadway

Surprisingly, it took until Week 3 before we ordered Cendol ($5) which consists of shaved ice over chewy pandan flavoured cendol, coconut milk and palm sugar. I loved it, though the palm sugar would possibly make it a little bit too sweet for some!

malacca straits, broadway

Of course we had to try Malacca Straits’ version of Ais Kacang, the Air Batu Campur, or ABC for short ($5) to see how it compared to the others we’ve enjoyed in recent weeks. Interestingly, this one came with crushed peanuts on top (which meant Steph couldn’t eat it, boo) but secretly, I really liked this addition for a bit of crunch to offset the jelly and cendol that was buried underneath the ice. This one and Alices are now tied for my favourite ais kacang in Sydney!

malacca straits, broadway

A good option for a cheap lunch or dinner, I’m sure Malacca Straits is very popular with uni students at lunchtime. Actually, I wish I had known about it when I was studying nearby! While it was disappointing to miss out on the Cereal Prawns, I think it’s worth a trip back in the future to try them, as well as the delicious sounding Sticky Rice with Mango that is available during the summer months.

Spicyicecream dined as a guest of Malaysia Kitchen

Malacca Straits on Urbanspoon

Malacca Straits on Broadway - 66 Mountain Street, Broadway Ultimo (enter the Quadrant Building courtyard) (02) 8021 7069

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pork, Apple and Cider Pie

pork, apple and cider pie

This post is sponsored by Nuffnang

There's something inherently special about Sundays. For me, it's a golden opportunity for a sleep in, and a nice time to relax before stepping in to the new week. In my perfect world, there would be a picnic lunch every Sunday in summer, either in the park or down at the beach, and a nice hearty lunch at home every Sunday in winter.

Sadly, the Sunday Lunch seems to be a forgotten ritual these days – I know I don't do it enough – but I think that makes them even more special when they do come around. Usually everyone helps with the cooking, and then sits down together to enjoy the meal. It’s really lovely.

I love the combination of pork and apples, but wanted to try something different from your usual roast, so I decided to make it into a pie. I simmered the pork shoulder with chicken stock and apple cider for about an hour, until it was falling apart, then added some sage, potato and apple. But the best part is, it’s actually really simple to prepare. In fact once the main prep work is done, you can leave it pretty much alone to simmer over a low heat, with just a stir here and there.

It’s a really great dish that is hearty but not heavy, thanks to the light flavour of the cider. It is just perfect for this end of winter weather, when spring has been playing hide-and-seek. But with my undying love of pulled pork, I would very happily eat it all year round.

pork, apple and cider pie

Pork, Apple and Cider Pie
Serves 6
Adapted from Donna Hay

• Olive oil, for frying
• 2.2kg boneless pork shoulder, cut into 5cm cubes (remove excess fat)
• 1 ½ brown onions, sliced
• 3 bottles dry apple cider (I used Monteiths)
• 2 cups chicken stock (I used Campbell’s Real Stock)
• 1 large potato, peeled and chopped into 2cm cubes
• 2 tablespoons sage leaves, chopped
• 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
• Sea salt and cracked black pepper
• 3 granny smith apples, peeled, and chopped into 2cm cubes
• 1 sheet store-bought puff pastry
• 1 egg, lightly beaten

Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over high heat, and add the pork. Cook in batches until browned (4-5 minutes). Remove pork and set aside.

Heat another 1 tablespoon of olive oil and brown onion over medium heat or until softened. Return the pork to the pan with cider and stock. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered for 1 hour. Add the potato, sage, vinegar, salt and pepper and cool for a further 15-20 minutes or until the potato is tender and the pork is falling apart. Stir through the apples and allow to cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Spoon the pork mixture into a pie dish or ovenproof frying pan. Trim pastry to fit over the top and brush with lightly beaten egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pear and Elderflower Macarons

pear & elderflower macarons

I’ve been feeling very romantic about spring lately, now that it’s just around the corner. I went for a walk yesterday and caught the gorgeous smell of jasmine in the air. I thought it was the perfect time to use the bottle of elderflower cordial I picked up recently. With its subtle floral flavour, it’s just lovely at this time of year, but I was undecided as to what to make with it.

With the helpful suggestions of my Facebook and Twitter friends, I was inspired to make these macarons with a poached pear and elderflower buttercream filling. Macarons still make me a bit nervous, but after spending an afternoon with my gorgeous friends Steph and Karen baking up a batch, I felt confident enough to tackle them again.

pear & elderflower macarons

While my technique still needs a lot more practice, Steph's recipe is brilliant. My shells turned out a little more crunchy and browned than I would have liked because I’m still getting used to using my new oven, but I did manage to get pretty little feet (!!) on my macarons, and I absolutely loved the flavour combination. The elderflower is a lovely touch, and is beautiful with the pears. I can’t wait to try out some other flavours – and after all, practice makes perfect!

pear & elderflower macarons

Pear and Elderflower Macarons
Makes about 15 sandwiched macarons
Adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes

• 110g almond meal, dried in a cool oven for 5 minutes and sifted
• 200g icing sugar
• 100g aged eggwhites
• 50g caster sugar
• 1 teaspoon powdered egg whites (available from Essential Ingredient)

Elderflower Poached Pears
• 1 pear, peeled, cored and cut into 0.5cm cubes
• 1 cup water
• 4 tablespoons elderflower cordial

Elderflower Buttercream
• 1 egg white
• ¼ cup caster sugar
• 90g unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 3cm cubes

To make the macaron shells, line two baking sheets with baking paper. Place icing sugar in a food processor and pulse to remove any lumps. Stir in almond meal and pulse to combine. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat eggwhites and egg white powder in a medium bowl until the powder dissolves and it reaches soft peaks. With the mixer on high speed, gradually add sugar and beat until it reaches stiff peaks.

Add meringue to the dry mixture and mix, quickly at first to break down the bubbles in the egg white. You can be quite rough at this point, and then mix carefully as the dry mixture becomes incorporated and it starts to become shiny again. Take care not to overmix, the mixture should flow like lava and a streak of the mixture spread across the surface should disappear after about 30 seconds. Place in a piping bag and pipe rounds 3cm diameter on prepared baking sheets.

Tap against the bench to remove any air bubbles and leave to dry for about half an hour, so that when you press the surface of one gently, it doesn’t break. Preheat the oven to 140-150°C (285-300°F) and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your shells. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for a few minutes. Gently remove from the tray and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

In the meantime, prepare the poached pears. Place pears into a small saucepan with water and elderflower cordial and simmer on medium heat until pears are tender and liquid is syrupy. Strain, and reserve liquid. Allow pears to cool to room temperature.

To prepare the buttercream, place caster sugar and egg white into a heatproof bowl. Whisk to combine and clip a candy thermometer to the side of the bowl. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk until mixture reaches 70°C (160°F) and sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Place egg white mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until cooled and thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. If mixture is runny at this point, refrigerate for 10 minutes and then continue beating until it starts to hold its shape. Don’t panic if it looks curdled, just keep mixing and it will come together. Mix in the reserved poaching liquid gradually and beat to combine. Add more elderflower cordial to taste if the flavour is too subtle.

Spoon or pipe buttercream onto macaron shells, adding ½ teaspoon of pears and then sandwich with another shell. Refrigerate overnight in an airtight container to allow the flavours to mature. Serve at room temperature.

Thanks to my cousin Roslyn for noticing I'd left the elderflower cordial out of the ingredients list. Oops!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Malaysia Kitchen Bloggers Summit and Kopitiam, Ultimo

kopitiam, ultimo

“You have too much food!” the waitress told us, as we were putting in our order for dinner at Kopitiam Cafe in Ultimo. Between two small girls (who each left with large takeaway containers holding the food we couldn’t finish) we have to admit that she was right. But in our defence, there were so many dishes on the menu that we wanted to try! Steph and I were together for Week 2 of the Malaysia Kitchen Bloggers Summit that is taking place throughout August.

The three bloggers with the most combined votes at the end of August will win a foodie adventure to Malaysia, so I'd be eternally grateful if you could send me some likes!

kopitiam, ultimo

Kopitiam is a really authentic Malaysian Hawker Style restaurant on Harris St in Ultimo, just up from the Powerhouse Museum. The restaurant was almost empty when we arrived but quickly filled up. While I don’t imagine the décor has changed much since they opened, the lime green walls have a certain charm. Steph started with the Hot Teh ‘O’ and I had an iced Teh Tarik (both $4). The drinks came out almost instantly and the Teh Tarik was pretty much perfect as far as sweetness is concerned.

kopitiam, ultimo

We had our hearts (and stomachs) set on Hainanese Chicken Rice, but unfortunately this is only available on the weekend. We decide on Beef Rendang ($14.80) instead, and happily, Kopitiam’s version is probably the best I’ve had. Chunks of beef are simmered in an absolutely delicious spiced coconut sauce for hours until they are perfectly tender.

kopitiam, ultimo

The Nasi Lemak ($9.80) comes in a large serving with a delicious chicken curry as an accompaniment to the usual coconut rice, peanuts, anchovies, hard boiled egg and cucumber. It’s a bargain for such a huge amount of food!

kopitiam, ultimo

Steph was excited to find that they served Claypot Loh See Fun, which translates to “rats tail noodles” since they are fat and round. They are stir-fried with dark soy, pork mince, pork fat, chilli and lots of bean shoots. It had a nice hit of spice, but the noodles were just slightly overcooked and were missing the “slipperiness” this dish is supposed to have and we only found one piece of pork fat, but I still loved it and would definitely order it again.

kopitiam, ultimo

Of course we had to have dessert. We thought it would be fun to try the Ais Kacang ($5), to compare it with the one at Mamak last week. The ice wasn’t as finely shaved which gave it a bit more texture, but it could have used a little more rose syrup. I loved the grass jelly and red beans buried below the mountain of ice, as well as the corn on top.

I really loved the food at Kopitiam Cafe. I wish I had known about it when I was studying in Broadway, just a few streets away! I think we’ll have to come back one weekend and try the Chicken Rice since we missed out this time around. And of course, a repeat performance of that Rendang!

Spicy Icecream dined as a guest of Malaysia Kitchen

Kopitiam Cafe on Urbanspoon

Kopitiam Cafe – 594 Harris St, Ultimo (02) 9282 9883 - Cash Only

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rhubarb and Strawberry Cheat's Danish

rhubarb and strawberry "cheats" danish

It’s a well-known fact that I am a huge fan of rhubarb. If there’s ever a rhubarb dessert on the menu, I just have to order it. It’s one of my favourite things to cook with, and I just love the sweet-tart flavour and the beautiful pink colour. It reminds me of spring, and with the lovely warm weather we’ve been having in Sydney lately, it couldn’t have been more perfect, especially with a nice cup of tea.

I picked up a bunch of rhubarb recently and wanted to try something a little different with it – I’ve done pies, cakes, ice creams and even drinks! This recipe caught my eye – described as a “yeasted cake” and inspired by a recipe from Stephanie Alexander. I just knew it would be lovely.

rhubarb and strawberry "cheats" danish

Sadly, my version wasn’t as pretty as the photo, but it hardly mattered because it was absolutely delicious. I would liken it more to a danish than a cake, thanks to the rich, buttery dough. But if you consider how long it takes to make a proper laminated danish dough, this is a breeze by comparison.

I decided to replace the pears used in the original recipe with some lovely winter strawberries. It’s hard to beat that combination, it’s one of my favourites in the world. What I really loved though, was the glaze. With a nice hit of rhubarb flavour and a gorgeous colour, it was the perfect accompaniment to the delicious filling. This cake is best eaten on the day it’s made.

rhubarb and strawberry "cheats" danish

Rhubarb and Strawberry Cheat’s Danish
Serves 10
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller

• 120g butter, coarsely chopped
• 120ml milk
• 250g plain flour
• 10g dried yeast
• 1 egg
• 1 egg yolk

Rhubarb and Strawberry Filling
• 300g rhubarb, finely chopped
• 125g (about ½ punnet) strawberries, hulled and quartered
• 1/3 cup caster sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Rhubarb Glaze
• 50g caster sugar
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 40g rhubarb, thinly sliced
• 160g pure icing sugar, sifted

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat, add milk and heat until lukewarm (1 minute). Mix flour, sugar and yeast in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Make a well in the center and then with motor running, pour milk mixture, egg and yolk into the well and knead until smooth and shiny (2-3 minutes).

Transfer to a buttered bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Knock back dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 20x35cm rectangle. Place on an oven try lined with baking paper and set aside.

For the filling, combine ingredients in a bowl and spread over the dough, leaving a 5cm border along the sides. Cut long sides through to the filling at 3cm intervals using a pair of scissors, then fold long ends over to meet in the centre, pressing the ends to seal. Cover with a tea towel and stand in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Bake until crust is golden and a skewer inserted withdraws clean (25-30 minutes). Cool on tray for 15 minutes, then cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, for rhubarb glaze, stir caster sugar, vanilla and 50ml water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, add rhubarb and bring to the simmer. Cook until rhubarb is translucent and liquid is syrupy (4-5 minutes), then strain into a measuring jug (discard solids). Stir icing sugar and rhubarb syrup in a bowl until smooth and thin with a little water to drizzling consistency if necessary. Drizzle over yeast cake and serve.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mamak, Chatswood

mamak, chatswood

This month, I’ve been chosen as a Blog Ambassador for Malaysia Kitchen, with the task of eating my way around Sydney’s Malaysian food scene. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it! While I am not Malaysian, and I’ve never visited the country, I am absolutely in love with the food and culture thanks to the influences of two of my best friends, Steph and Karen.

With queues out the door and down the street at almost any time of day at their city outpost on Goulbourn St, lining up is just part of the Mamak experience. Arguably one of Sydney’s most popular Malaysian restaurants, the menu is filled with hawker style street food, but their main drawcard is the freshly made roti. Waiting in line doesn’t seem so bad when you can watch the chefs in the kitchen preparing roti. It’s truly a mesmerising process.

We decided to avoid the hordes and visit their Chatswood restaurant, which opened late last year. The premises are bigger, but on weekends there are still lines of people waiting outside. We decide to try some old favourites but also go for some dishes that we don’t order often, and some that I’d never tried before.

mamak, chatswood

Malaysian drinks are something quite special. Teh tarik ($3.50) is a “pulled” milk tea, made with sweetened condensed milk that is delicious hot or iced. It’s fascinating to watch them making it – long streams of tea are poured (or pulled) from one container to another to make the frothy topping. I decided to try the Kopi ‘O’ ais ($3.50) black iced coffee, which was super strong with just the right amount of sweetness for me, I loved it. Steph decided to have the Teh ‘O’ ais limau ($3.50) iced tea with a splash of lime, which is delicious and refreshing.

mamak, chatswood

You just can’t come to Mamak without trying the roti. I can never go past the Roti Canai ($5.50), which is served as a ball - crispy on the outside yet fluffy on the inside. It is served with two curry dips and a spicy sambal sauce. It arrives mere minutes after we place our order, a testament to the super swift service.

mamak, chatswood

Another must try dish is the Satay ($9 for 6, $16 for 12) which is available in chicken and beef and served with a delicious peanut sauce that is a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy. These are cooked in the same way as the hawkers do – grilled over hot charcoal for that delicious smoky flavour. These are so moreish, I could have eaten the whole dish by myself!

mamak, chatswood

Nasi Lemak ($8.50) is one of the most popular dishes in Malaysia. Fragrant coconut rice is accompanied by sambal, peanuts, crispy anchovies (ikan bilis), cucumber and hard-boiled egg. We added chicken and lamb curries to go with it ($3 each) as well as a piece of fried chicken (ayam goreng - $3). I could quite happily eat this every day! I especially loved the lamb curry – the meat was so tender and delicious that it just fell apart. And next time I’m definitely ordering a full portion of the ayam goreng!

mamak, chatswood

We also order the Lamb Murtabak ($11.50). It looks like a thin pancake parcel and is filled with spicy meat, cabbage, egg and onion. At Mamak, they are made to order, with the menu advising there will be a 15 minute wait. It’s a large serving and even between us we can’t finish it! It comes served with the same curry sauces and is also available with a chicken filling.

mamak, chatswood

The Maggi Goreng ($11.50) is a variation of the Mee Goreng using Maggi noodles instead of Hokkien noodles. It’s a spicy little dish, but delicious nonetheless. Prawns, sliced fish cake, cucumber and fresh bean sprouts provide a nice textural contrast.

mamak, chatswood

My surprise favourite was the Rojak ($14) which was a dish I hadn’t tried before. It was presented beautifully, as a colourful tower of prawn and coconut fritters, fried tofu, hard boiled egg, shredded yambean and cucumber, topped with a thick and spicy peanut sauce. It was a nice, refreshing salad, which was a welcome contrast for the spicier dishes we had ordered.

mamak, chatswood

We were insanely full by this point and struggling to find any spare space on the table, but we couldn’t leave without sampling the desserts. One of my favourite (and one of the most popular) Malaysian desserts is Ais Kacang ($6) a sweet and refreshing combination of red beans, corn, grass jelly, rose syrup and sweetened condensed milk on a mountain of shaved ice. The toppings may change depending on where you go, but I loved this. It’s the perfect dessert on a warm night.

mamak, chatswood

Mamak also does a variety of delicious sweet roti desserts, most famously the Roti Tisu, which is paper-thin roti rolled into a tall cone and a favourite of many Sydney food bloggers. I love the Roti Kaya ($7.50) which is filled with a traditional spread made from pandan and coconut. I would have loved a slightly thicker layer of kaya but it was still absolutely delicious.

Steph and I had never tried to Roti bom ($8.50) which is described on the menu as “a truly indulgent roti”. We should have known that our sweet tooth was in for a walloping! It’s so sweet and rich, with a crackly caramelly sugar crust. It is delicious, but it quickly defeats us.

mamak, chatswood

With such great food at such good prices, it’s no wonder that Mamak is still crazily popular after all these years. We have ordered a lot of food, and tried a good portion of the menu, but there’s still many other dishes to try next time. Armed with bags of leftovers, and stomachs full to bursting, we think the hype is well warranted and the queues are here to stay.

Like my post on the Malaysia Kitchen Bloggers Summit website and I could win a trip to Malaysia!! Wouldn't that be awesome? Thanks a million for your support!

Mamak - Shop P9, 1-5 Railway St, Chatswood (02) 9411 4411
AND 15 Goulburn Street, Haymarket, Sydney (02) 9211 1668

Mamak on Urbanspoon

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