Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bugs Bunny pasta

It seems the time has come again
for things that frighten boys and men
Of ghosts and ghouls and witches brooms
to leave the comfort of their tombs
As Jack O Lanterns light the way
and all things creepy come to play
Grab your friend and hold on tight
All Hallows' Eve begins tonight

Although I live 'down under', Halloween seems to excite my inner child who revelled in all things spooky and slightly macabre growing up. Whilst my fellow school mates idolised Britney Spears, it was Wednesday Adams whom I felt a kinship with. Beetlejuice, Buffy and Jack Skellington were my peeps. So despite the lack of pumpkins on doorsteps and door-knockers in costume, I still wanted to get in on the action and contribute something 'orange' for this occasion. And although not necessarily spooky, mention cooked carrots to a child and I'm sure they'll be frightened :)

ease: 5/5.
prep time: 10mins.
cooking time: 50mins.
total: 1 hour.

taste: 4/5. Carrot-tastic!

When I was no higher than a hip bone twas true that I detested any form of cooked carrots. Perhaps if I had been given this dish my carrot-loathing would have been halted far earlier than the age of twenty-two...

I loved this dish. It was tasty with a lovely balance of sweet, salty and savoury (although I may have added a little too much thyme the second time around, don't be too liberal with this fragrant herb). Both adults and children alike loved it. As always, I would increasing the topping-to-pasta ratio, as it's always best to have more than less. I also found that this worked with some pasta shapes better than others. Penne wasn't as great as farfalle or even macaroni.

would I make it again: Yes.

recipe: Bugs Bunny pasta

Monday, October 25, 2010

Browned butter pizookie

My eyes slowly fluttered open, casting a hazy glance towards the clock. Upon seeing a 5 I allowed my lids to close and drifted off into a dreamless, heavy sleep. A little too heavy. The next time I glanced at my clock it read eleven. ELEVEN. I jumped out of bed faster than Superman and managed to get ready, vacuum the house AND make two dozen cookies in less than an hour. Pretty decent indeed.

The first stop was a friend's house where I spent hours laughing with them and smiling incessantly at their 8month old son (it amazes me how genuine and pure babie's smiles are) whilst sipping Chamomile tea and munching on said-24-chocolate chip cookies.

The second stop was a quick visit to my mother-in-law for a chat, a few games of Angry Birds and a another cup of tea.

Then it was a pit-stop at home for a dress change before heading out to meet my family at a local Thai restaurant for my Grandmother's 73rd birthday where we chowed down on Sweet & Sour Pork, Pad Pak and super delicious banana fritters and sticky black rice puddings.

Despite our super packed day, once we changed into our tracksuit pants and put our feet up I felt like a supper cookie snack, but more than a just cookie. And that's where this recipe came in and more than satisfied that craving. What are some of your post dinner cravings?

ease: 4.5/5.
prep time: 25mins.
cooking time: 15mins for three ramekins.
total: 40mins.

taste: 4/5. For lovers of cookie-dough deliciousness.

This was sweet and salty with oozy chocolate and fluffy cookie-ness - a ramekin full of soft, fudgy, crumbly, crunchy and oh so very yummy goodness.

Needless to say everyone enjoyed these, though be warned, a small serving still satisfies whilst a larger serving may cause a tummy ache.

would I make it again: Yes.

recipe: Browned butter pizookie

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Apple, rhubarb & raspberry crumble

There are a lot of things that were simply meant to be together; chocolate and peanut butter, hot weather and popsicles, Buffy and Angel... And then there's my favourite symbiotic pair; rainy days and baking.

When all the birds hide under leafy canopy's and the rain splashes against every window pain and roof tile, creating pools of rippling water beneath my door step I roll up my sleeves and reach for my apron; it's Bakin' Time.

Apple, rhubarb & raspberry crumble
from Mindfood magazine
serves 6

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thickly sliced
½ cup caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 bunch rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces
125g fresh or frozen raspberries
¾ cup crumbled amaretto biscuits
½ cup plain flour
1/3 cup natural almonds, roughly chopped
½ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
125g butter, cubed and chilled

Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly grease a 5-cup-capacity ovenproof baking dish (or 4 dishes with ¼ cup capacity each).

Put apple, caster sugar, cinnamon stick and ¼ cup water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain apple. Discard cinnamon stick. Transfer to a large bowl to cool. Combine rhubarb and raspberries with cooled apple. Spoon into baking dish.

Put biscuit, flour, almonds, brown sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Using fingertips, rub butter into mixture. Sprinkle crumble mixture over fruit. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until crumble is golden.

Serve with cream or ice-cream.

ease: 4/5.
prep time: 20mins.
cooking time: 20mins.
total: 40mins.

taste: 3.5/5. The three Musketeers of the fruit world!

First to tickle the tastebuds is the politely sweet tang of the rhubarb followed by the homely apple, all comfort and hugs. While these two are getting to know each other raspberry knocks on the door with its vibrant tartness before the sweet, nutty and almond-y crumble comes in.

Needless to say, I enjoyed the combination of the three fruits together, if you prefer a little less tartness than perhaps substituting the rhubarb with strawberries would be lovely. The crumble on the other hand, was ok, but the amaretto biscuits added a flavour I don't like in a crumble topping, a regular oat and brown sugar topping would suit this better. It also needs a little more cinnamon for warmth.

would I make it again: Yes to the fruit combo, no to the crumble topping.

recipe: Apple, rhubarb & raspberry crumble

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fluffy pancakes with roasted peanuts & sesame seeds (Ban chang kuih)

1. High tea at The Peninsula. 2. Traditional Yum Cha. 3. National Day Fireworks. 4. View from Revolving restaurant. 5. Sheraton in Shenzhen. 6. View from The Peak. 7. Taking the ferry from Kowloon to HK Island.

You might be thinking, well, that's not many photos, but that, my friends, is all I took on my whirlwind three-day-stay in Hong Kong.
We were so busy cramming as much into a day, at the sacrifice of sleep, that my mind never rested for a minute to remember my camera. Normally, upon returning home and finding very little photographic evidence of my spontaneous sojourn I would be upset, but alas, I am not. The three days I spent there were frenetically paced, but wonderfully so. I felt our schedule meshed with the culture and activities well. There was this one particular moment, when my husband, myself and two friends were standing in a nightclub elevator where it suddenly hit us that we had been awake for a solid 48 hours, needless to say we spent the next five minutes completely freaking out and sputtering out a million 'OMG's' before we decided we should probably have a quick drink at the bar and then head home before we forgot what our own names were. Good times.

Since arriving home I have been re-familiarising myself with the life and routine I left back here, which has taken a little longer than usual as I left my iPhone in Hong Kong. All of a sudden I had to go back to handwriting shopping lists rather than using an App (and yes, I did leave said shopping list at home and was left standing in each aisle at the supermarket trying to use my very dusty memory skills...).
Whilst I am all for using less technology on a daily basis, there were a few times I found myself making unnecessary trips all because I couldn't call my husband to find out where he was and instead had to drive to each location until I found him - he was back at home, the last place I looked, naturally.

Luckily, my phone was found and shipped back and I am no longer getting out of bed at 5am (my phone is also my beside clock). Having had a better chunk of sleep I awoke at a more decent hour to whip up a batch of pancakes, with an Asian twist.

Have any of you been without a piece of technology and found yourself feeling a little lost?

ease: 4.5/5.
prep time: 2hours.
cooking time: 10mins for two large pancakes.
total: 2 hours & 10mins.

taste: 4/5. Tastier than I thought.

I was a little sceptical at the lack of wetness in this dish, but it was not missed. Hubby was extremely happy with his pancake and loved its different texture and combination of flavours. I doubled the but mixture because I am always greedy with toppings - I loved the nuts but it was a little sweet for me sugar-wise. My pancakes didn't look as fluffy as the ones pictured, but I have a feeling that may have had something to do with the freshness of my baking powder.

would I make it again: Yes.

recipe: fluffy pancake with roasted peanuts and sesame seeds

Friday, October 8, 2010

Warm apple crunch crumble with honey pepper yoghurt

There has been a lot of finger tapping and leg twitching. Perhaps a touch of pacing as well.
You see, I arrived home on Monday, and after the obligatory immediate unpacking and settling in, I was eager to dust off my blogs. Unfortunately, the eagerness only resulted in the hovering of my fingers above the keyboard, unable to decide which letter to press first. I hovered for a good portion of four days waiting for the Inspiration Fairy to come and sprinkled her dust and send my brain into a frenzy of creativity, but all I got was hand cramps. And then I thought, well, you have quite a few posts backed up, waiting only for text, why not post something to give you a little more time until your brain switches itself back on. And so this is my filler post. Never fear, I expect the Inspiration Fairy's flight shall be touching down very soon indeed...

ease: 5/5.
prep time: 20mins.
cooking time: 15mins.
total: 35mins.

taste: 2.5/5. Very perplexing.

I am trying to form words of what this tasted like to me but I've got nothing. It wasn't unpleasant but it wasn't really pleasant either. I could taste each of the inidivdual components without really enjoying them. Instead of melding together and forming a delicious synergy they fell apart and stood around, not really doing anything like a room full of very awkward strangers.

would I make it again: No. But perhaps my taste buds just didn't get it, yours might.

recipe:  Warm apple crunch crumble with honey pepper yoghurt

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Regular posts shall be resumed shortly...

Because right now I am in Hong Kong!

Thanks to a local friend we have enjoyed some wonderful Yum Cha, learned how to eat a dumpling the right way and savoured tasty Mandarin food with stunning views of the bay. We have haggled with vendors, bar hopped from Kowloon to Hong Kong island and even watched the National Day Fireworks display a - it has been a busy 48 hours!

There is so much more to do in so little time, and I have a sneaking suspicion I shall develop a craving for Cantonese/Mandarin food upon my return home - Spring Rolls anyone?