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Monday, July 27, 2009

WHB Roundup

Check out the fantastic dishes whipped up for this week's WHB - roundup here

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging : Black Beans

A recent trip to the Asian store has left me armed with a typical ingredient in Chinese cooking, black beans.

Not to be confused with the black beans used in Latin American cooking (black turtle beans), this is actually salted soybeans with a slight pungent smell and a distinctive salty-bitter-sweet flavor.
There are heaps of varieties of black bean sauces available in the local supermarket, but for $1.30, this 375g pack of black beans is a real tasty bargain that would go a long way since you won't have to use a lot per dish, like for this one...

3 teaspoons black beans
2 teaspoons chinkiang (black rice) vinegar
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon palm sugar
1/3 cup water (or stock if you have some handy)
1 teaspoon corn starch

Mix above ingredients together and slightly mash the black beans to release more flavor.

This will be used as sauce for a quick beef stir fry using
300g rump steak, sliced into thin strips
handful of enoki mushrooms (they were there in the fridge, so might as well add it! just chop off roots)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, minced
5 spring onions, chopped (separate the white part from the greens)
3 birds eye chili (decrease if you dont want it hot)
1 red chili, sliced, for garnish
1 (or 2) tbsp peanut oil

a bit of fungi to soak up that nice black sauce!

Swirl some peanut oil into a really hot wok and toss in garlic, ginger, birds eye chili and the white spring onions. Stir fry for a couple of seconds, then add in the beef, and the mushrooms (cook beef to your liking, I prefer it a bit medium rare) , then give the black bean mixture a quick stir and pour on to the beef. Let bubble a bit until the sauce has slightly thickened and looks glossy.

Serve on steamed rice and garnish with the red chili and the greens from the spring onions.

This is my entry to the Weekend Herb Blogging #193 (my first time to join this very interesting event!), organized and hosted by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Es Teler 77

[ some random blah ]

Minggu ini sebelah jalan jalan di kota, saya lihat "Es Teler 77", restoran fastfood Indonesia.... mulutku jadi 'yummm...!'... langsung di dalam restorannya, saya bilang "... mau nasi goreng kambing, pedas ya..."

nasi - rice; goreng - fried; kambing - goat

..."mungkin bila nanti kita akan bertemu lagi"... :p


Este semana lei "Es Teler 77", restaurante de Indonesia... yo pense "yummm", fui a restaurante, dije "quiero nasi goreng kambing, picante por favor!"

... hasta luego!


This week while walking around the city, I saw "Es Teler 77", an Indonesian fast food restaurant... my mouth went 'yummm!' , went straight to the restaurant, and said " I'd like a goat fried rice, spicy please!"

Maybe we will see each other again!


MC : This post probably took longer due to a long time fishing and finding the words, if at all they are accurate - apologies if grammatically incorrect!

Baked Egg

Inspired by the Saturday biking lunch stopover, this dish is also a play on the huevos rancheros (ranch eggs). Quite simple (eggs baked over a homemade tomato sauce), made a bit more interesting through the use of terracotta bowls and served with remnants of toasted focaccia...old bread never tasted so good :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tarte Tatin

This weekend's culinary experiment was in the form of a French classic, invented by accident by the Tatin sisters. Apparently it was the case of apples bubbling away in sugar and butter, and in panic, one of the Tatin sisters covered it with pastry, baked the whole thing, served it to their restaurant's patrons, and became an instant hit. It was henceforth known as their signature dish, the Tarte Tatin.

I followed Rachel Allen's recipe here (yes I'm a fan - i find her recipes are awesome.)

ingredients for the shortcrust pastry - and sugar bubbling away

gone around in circles... and caramel oozing through the pastry cracks

the finished product, served with vanilla ice cream

I think I may have made the caramel too sticky and it was a bit difficult to get the stuff out of the pan :) not as difficult as eating the entire thing though!


Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

No point arguing the book is better than the movie (as is typically the case anyway), but having read the book a while back and forgotten some details, the storyline seem fragmented, and was unable to hold my (admittedly short) attention span, unlike previous Harry Potter movies.

Don’t get me wrong though - the special effects were still spectacular (the intro being a swooping take on the vicinity which I thought would have been pretty cooler in 3D), the cast had grown up (including some slightly muscles and better acting – not that they were utterly bad before, but obviously experience has made them better). Raging teenage hormones fit for their current state in ‘life’ gave good banter. Credit as well to Luna Lovegood who was perfectly portrayed (at least, to my mind).

Not quite sure if ‘the magic was just lost’ on me, or if I’ve grown way older up too much not to enjoy it as much as I would have – a bit unfortunate that they sort of lost me midway the 2 hour – 33 min long movie and ended up wishing I spent the time reading the book again instead. I suppose (more) avid Harry Potter followers who would know the story by heart would feel otherwise. Perhaps this groundwork of a movie is best watched just before the final installments for the Deathly Hallows, which closes the series.

Forgiven and forgotten, hope the next one redeems and wins back this disillusioned fan.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Biker's Notes : Capital City Trail

The Capital City Trail is a loop around the city, around 32 kms of established tracks suitable for running, walking, biking (any bike types) or just for sightseeing :) It goes along the water - the Yarra river, some creeks - and gives a quick tour around some of Melbourne's top spots like Southbank, Collingwood Children's Farm (a farm in the city!), Docklands, Telstra Dome, Zoo and Royal Park, Yarra Bend Park, Melbourne Park, Alexandra Gardens and MCG.

There are areas where one needs to lift the bike to go walk through some steps (extra points for variety!?). The farm was a good stop, offering organic food, freshly baked bread, muffins and scones , organic eggs (and chocolate milkshake!).

the farm under sunny skies (but awfully cold wind!) and today's special, baked egg with slow cooked mushrooms and capsicum

Some sights :

Dight's Falls
(it may not look like too much of a falls but apparently it sits on an 800,000 year old lava rock)

[ Edit : Had received additional helpful links - Check out more details here and here. Not mentioned in the original post was that we had cycled a bit more than the kms mentioned as there was a re-routing somewhere in Westgarth - and I think we took a couple more turns than required and ended up somewhere farther north towards the Merri Creek trail. Hehe. ]

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bluestone Restaurant

"This place drips with unassuming style" says their website, and perhaps I do agree - the sexy red string curtains, mood lighting, stone walls and wooden tables - it is not difficult to relax at Bluestone Restaurant, especially down at the Lounge. The dining room upstairs is grand, but not imposing. Huge mirrors and wine bottles against the wall provide a perfect backdrop to great conversation.

There was a small blackboard with the day's specials (osso bucco, saltimbocca for that night) - if you are not tempted with what's on the menu (like seafood jambalaya and steak). Sit back in the company of friends especially on on Jazz and Shiraz Thursday nights - can't go wrong with a $5 glass of Shiraz while listening to the cool voice of the jazz singer!

Bookings are essential.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dine Fine 2 Starter : Baked Camembert

Also double tagged as SpiceStop : Rosemary

Not sure if this would be classified gourmet though, because it's so simple :) well some might argue and wrinkle their noses for being such a ponsy git, but hey, it's filed under the blog post "dine fine" tags so that's how far its qualification can go!

Anyway, rosemary is from the mint family, a perennial evergreen shrub, and this variety from the side garden has lavender (or is it pale blue?) flowers.

Take a camembert cheese, cut into half, place in a small ramekin, add a sprig of fresh rosemary (or a couple of slivers of chopped garlic, if preferred) and bake for around 30 minutes in a 200C oven middle rack (microwave on high for a couple of minutes, if in a rush!)

Serve with fresh veggie sticks (carrots, celery, maybe beetroot for that nice color) and steamed brocolli. If preferring to be a bit fancy, serve in a glass with ice cubes on the bottom, and fennel fronds.

Gourmet cheese dip ?

Dine Fine 2 Main : Burgers

What do you mean fine dining with burgers?!

I suppose it would qualify if you made your own bread and burger patty?

Anyway, the bread is focaccia. This is a bit different in approach from the previous recipe, but still a focaccia anyway :) a bit of rosemary and garlic sprinkled on top as well. The kitchen was mighty nice smelling afterwards!

For the burger patty, the beef mince was mixed together with sauteed onions and garlic, a bit of garam masala, cumin, bread crumbs, 1 egg, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper, before fried and finished in the oven. Assemble with the bread (spread a bit of dijon mustard?), cos lettuce, tomato, gerkins, and perhaps a salad on the side.

Dine Fine 2 Dessert : Eclairs

This was inspired by the show Rachel Allen Bake! I have never made choux pastry before (try googling shoe pastry you'll get the same results!) so it was worth a try. Main problem was that I didn't have the right nozzle for my piping bag, so had to use a smaller size fitting - it worked, nevertheless. As long as the pastry is done correctly I suppose! For once I followed the recipe so just check out the site. :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

FoodFiction : Gum

The evening sent out a breeze that probably added melancholy to his already rattled mind. It was 8pm but the sun was still out, and from a distance, the tram he was waiting for wobbled towards him.

He looked at the sun once more before boarding the gargantuan metal casing. Another chance to be in a enclosed with strangers thinking in their own little spaces, he mused. He sat down, pulled up some gum and neatly stashed the wrapper to his backpack pocket as his eyes began to wander around the vehicle – there were 2 trolleys with kids, one was laughing and and one was crying. A man, most likely the baby’s father, pulled the baby out of his chair, and held him close. The baby’s crying ceased, and the wobbly tram again dominated the noise in the capsule. An old woman looked pensive as she stared at the distant horizon, perhaps thinking of grandchildren or the next day’s laundry The asian couple were still catching their breath (they almost missed the tram). All were oblivious to the man in a dark pin-striped suit and D&G sunnies at the corner, isolated to world through an ipod and a novel.

On his other side, a young woman stared at her feet. She was probably in her early 20’s, and her lips seemed to quiver and twist with the thoughts in her head. A heartbeat later, she began to cry. She buried her face into hands but let the tears roll noiselessly, with grief flowing like agony from a broken heart, a deceased loved one, or an undefined void in a seemingly pointless life. The tears never seemed to stop.

The sadness found its way to him. He felt for her, grieved with her, and let out a sigh unheard by the man in sunnies. Empathy found a pen, and a hand fished for the gum wrapper, where words were written, never to be read.

“Don’t cry – without pain you cannot fully appreciate happiness.”

He stood up and pulled the string for the tram to stop, hoping it also led to the tear ducts in her eyes. The words never made it to her, for those were his thoughts to this stranger in the short time and space that they shared, in this short span of time. Their paths may or may never cross again, life goes on, the tram picked up speed to take her away… and while the sun finally began to set he just hoped the melancholy in the evening breeze would brush the tears off her cheeks instead.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dine Fine Starter : Smoked Salmon and Shrimp!

Who says you can't have fine dining at home? One can have a stab at gourmet-type dishes and enjoy it with a glass (or two) of wine. Weekdays could be very busy so once a week (like this) is not a bad habit for homecooked treats....(like the following, apparently!)

This DineFine menu is composed of :

Starter Sampler Platter : Smoked Salmon and Shrimp, Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Dip and Baked Oysters
Main : Black Pepper and Chili Crusted Blue Marlin Fillet served with Steamed Vegetables and Roasted Vine Tomatoes
Dessert : Citrus Chocolate Mousse with Mixed Berry Compote

How does that sound?


Starter 1 : Smoked Salmon and Shrimp Starter with home made lemon-dill mayonnaise, served on a bed of rocket and lemon wedge.

To make the 'mayo' I used :
1 egg yolk, whisked on top of a double boiler (just avoiding salmonella!), juice of half a lemon, a slow steady drizzle of extra virgin Spanish olive oil until the mixture resembles mayonnaise! Throw in a handful of minced dill when done. Taste and make sure that the dill doesn't overpower the entire flavor.

Prepare ramekins by lining with cling film and layering a couple of thin slices of smoked salmon. Set aside.

Boil 80g of deveined shrimp until no longer transparent (takes almost just a minute), drain and cut into cubes. Depending on what flavor you would like to dominate, increase the proportion of smoked salmon versus the shrimp (equal proportions are also fine!). Shred the smoked salmon and mix with the shrimp and add the mayo to bind them together. Season to taste.

Place on top of the layered smoked salmon on the ramekin, making sure that it is compact, and refrigerate until set. Remember that salmon is a bit oily, so no particular need for an extra dressing (that's when the lemon wedge comes handy!)

Serve on a bed of fresh rocket and add a sprig of dill on top if desired (or an extra sprinkling of red chili flakes if you can't help it!)

Dine Fine Starter : Baked Oysters

Tasmanian oysters are a great treat especially when they are fresh off their shells and just given a hint of tabasco and some crispy fried onion bits. However, when serving in the evening, sometimes it could be difficult to ensure freshness so to play safe, this batch was baked with just a tiny bit of breadcrumbs, cracked pepper, a sliver of butter and grated mozzarella cheese. 3 minutes under the grill, (or until the cheese has melted and browned beautifully) and that's it!Don't overcook so that the oyster retains its juices.

Dine Fine Starter : Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Dip

One of the best things about garlic is that when it is roasted, it just becomes a different thing altogether - almost buttery in texture and slightly sweet. In times like this, a whole head of garlic was topped and the skin retained (keeps it moist), drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with a bit of salt and wrapped in foil then roasted for an hour together with two big eggplants. Then the garlic was taken out of its shell, combined with the flesh scooped out of the eggplants, a handful of fresh coriander, juice of 1 lemon, a bit of salt and pepper and a good glug of olive oil. Pulse until the desired consistency is reached and serve with crispy crusty bread.

Add chili if desired!

Dine Fine Main - Pan Fried Black Pepper and Chili Crusted Marlin Fillet

..served with steamed dutch carrots, baby corn and asparagus tips and roasted vine tomatoes (with a bit of fennel seeds).

The marlin was marinated for 30 minutes in a combination of light soy, mirin and apple cider vinegar (the proportions are a bit unknown as it was made up on the spot, until it tasted right!). It was drained for a bit and then one side was crusted with ground black pepper and red chili flakes, then pan fried to perfection...

Those Who Stopped By

Scribe's Notes

This pitstop is where incoherent ramblings seem to have meaning, where things or events are thought of and assessed, where great things are documented and perhaps any not-so-good happenings are written down in attempt to be forgotten!

So from the diversely abstract to the intensely specific, it's off to making tracks, and it is here where it stops for a thought or two.

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