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Monday, September 28, 2009

Choco-Coco Rum Cake

The reasons to bake a cake never seem to run out these days! This one is in celebration of another new life!

chocolate ganache (just chocolate chips and cream); basic chocolate cake; and the cake sliced midway and filled with double cream whipped with a good glug of rhum and icing sugar

the ganache is poured on the assembled cake to completely cover it, then dusted with shredded coconut, and extra chocolate pieces for decoration (cake decorating time saver and tasty treats, these chocolate things!)

Wexford Creme Ale

It was a curious green can that looked at me somewhere along the aisles of the bottle shop, and this time it was not successfully ignored.

Wexford is a county on the southeastern tip of Ireland, but the Wexford Irish Cream Ale is actually made in England.

Pouring the amber liquid on a pint glass was delightful to see, with lots of foam settling and leaving a trace on the sides of the pint. Quite light for the first few swigs, but there is a strong metallic taste left on the mouth, then it turns into easy drinking beer with bitterness leftbehind.

Not too bad, but not too memorable either, unfortunately.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

After the Rain

After the rain I braved the cold winds to take some snaps of the lovely things that are sprouting in the garden.

Beautiful things that survived the rain that Melbourne needs.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, there was rain too. But after the rain, things looked like this :

Typhoon Ondoy had a record breaking rain fall. In a span of 6 hours, it measured 341 millimeters, compared to 334 mm in 24 hours - which was the previous record in 1967. The average monthly rainfall in the Philippines amounts to 392 mm.

More info in this news link or google Typhoon Ondoy Philippines.

Looks like it was even worse than the amount of rainfall that Katrina had to offer in New Orleans (news article here)

Pan de Sal

At the crack of dawn, the scent of freshly baked bread emanates from the bakery at the corner. Mom (Nanay) must have been awake at the same time as the bakers, fixing things here and there, making coffee (or warming up milk for me), or ironing the sole skirt that was my school uniform, washed the night before. As the sun slowly makes its way out of its hiding place, someone (my father, or probably my older bro) would rush to the bakery to get some of those little bread rolls, known as pan de sal ('bread of salt'), placed in a brown paper bag, to be eaten before it gets cold. Choose from a variety of possible fillings, from butter (with white sugar! well, think of the concept of fairy cakes), corned beef, cheese (the saucy cheese spread Cheez Whiz or just plain cheese), or just by itself, dunked in a steaming mug of coffee.

Ask any Pinoy about pan de sal, especially an adult who has gone away from home, and there would be a million different versions of memories associated with this piece of bread. There would even be a time when the cost of one pan de sal, being a couple of cents, would denote the state of the Philippine economy (the more expensive the pan de sal, the worse the economy is getting!).

Funny how some recollections can be summarized in a bread roll... so having been able to reminisce some of mine one Sunday morning when the pan de sal came out of my oven... was pretty special.

This recipe was inspired by this post from the site Apple Pie, Patis and Pate - the author of which mentioned that he was of Filipino descent and currently living overseas as well.

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups room temperature water
1 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
bread crumbs

Mix all ingredients except bread crumbs, and knead until smooth. Place in an oiled boil and cover with a tea towel, let rise until doubled in size. Roll out the dough into a log about 2 inches wide, and roll it in bread crumbs.

Using the blunt side of a knife cut the dough into 1 inch pieces, and place on a baking sheet cut side up about 1 inch apart.

Leave to proof for around an hour or until the sides almost touch.

Bake in a pre-heated 200C oven for aroun 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Serving suggestion other than cheese would be corned beef (from the tin!!!) sauteed with some chopped onions.

I'm pretty sure I would make my nanay proud with these.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Anniversary Stout

This limited edition Guinness brew was launched in celebration of Arthur Guinness' signing of a 9,000-year lease in 1759 at St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin. "More refreshment and zing", says the Guinness Master Brewer. I say, it has a deeper roasted flavor... agree on the 'refreshing and zing'-iness, I find that it was a bit easier to drink (not that the other version is difficult to down!) and perfect for a Friday night!


Tarragon Chicken in Bread Bowls

Tarragon. One of the distinct herbs that haunt me in my sleep, as I dream about Sonya's Garden and their tarragon tea... (one of my favorite places back home) - the lovely garden and getting away from the city, driving in the languid streets towards Buck Estate, looking forward to that exotic licorice-flavored ultra hot tea that was a perfect finish for the organic meal of fresh salad, freshly baked bread (with the mushroom pate!!!!), pasta...

and how I crave for it and how I can't have it now that a couple of thousand miles away...

so now, tarragon grows in a little pot in the front garden...

This is the Russian variety, hardy and easy to grow

This herb also goes very well with chicken, and after a bit of research, I stumbled upon this french recipe that combined the flavors of tomatoes, chicken, tarragon and vermouth...Sounded fabulous - so this is my version, served in little bread bowls (a recipe that I found at this site, and had been meaning to try for a long time!)

Tarragon Chicken in Bread Bowls
4 large chicken thigh fillets
3 whole tomatoes (i used tinned ones)
1 brown onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup vermouth
1/2 cup vegetable stock
4 stems tarragon, minced (a couple of whole leaves set aside for garnish)

for the bread bowls
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1/4 tsp salt
around 1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp olive oil

for the mold - i used 2 small oven safe pyrex bowls, the bottoms sprayed with canola oil

Make the bread bowl first - mix all ingredients together and knead for around 6 minutes or until smooth. Let rest for around 20 minutes.

Divide dough to 2 pieces and let rest for another 10 minutes.

Flatten into circles around 1/2 inch thick. Spray with canola oil (or brush with melted butter). Cover the upturned oil bowls with the flattened dough, oiled side facing the oiled bottom. Bake for 20-25minutes at 200C, or until golden brown.

While the bread the bread bakes, you can cook your chicken :

Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and sear in batches in a bit of olive oil. Set aside. Soften garlic and onions until translucent, add vermouth and let the alcohol bubble away. Pour in stock, tomatoes, tarragon and chicken, cover and let simmer until chicken is almost done. Remove cover and let some of the juices evaporate (depending on how "saucy" you would like it to be). As this was going to be served in bread bowls, I wanted the sauce to be not too thin, nor not too thick!

Spoon into the prepared bread bowls (I sliced the chicken into bite sized pieces first - i did this last as i think that the chicken will be juicier if cooked whole, rather than sliced) and garnish with remaining tarragon leaves.

Serve immediately!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


This "hardy, heavy-wooded, vigorous, deciduous, fragrant vine...

...with abundant, long, pendent racemes of usually mauve to violet flowers that begin to open as the leaves expand" is a great sight in the front garden...!

More about Wisteria here

What's Wrong With These Photos?

What's wrong with this is that there is a snail on the car... yet it is not the focal point of the shot!!!
taken at the Eastland parking lot

What's wrong with this one is that the fish is upside down... and not on my plate!
(taken at a Chinese restaurant in Knox City)

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Ceviche is a citrus marinated seafood dish, fresh and spicy, with no cooking required. In the Philippines we have a version called "kinilaw", and my father makes a mean spicy version, either with fish (usually fresh giant anchovies - we would get a kilo from the wet market, and I'd get the task of painstakingly deboning each and every one of them! But well worth the effort!) or even boiled pork tossed in a similar acidic marinade (like vinegar, something like this)

This one is made with john dory fillets, a mixture of lemon and lime juice, the zests were also used. I cannot recount the quantities used for this (it's a secret...not!), as I just measured them by eye and depends on the amount of fish (usually white fleshy fish). The goal is to have a perfect balance of citrus flavors, heat and spice (depending on your tolerance). Bits of minced cucumber counteract the heat and citrus as well. I used minced bird's eye chili and red chili, minced garlic, a bit of spanish onion and brown onion (also minced), and chopped coriander to finish.

the minced aromatics and the fish

The fish was sliced into thin slivers. The acid in the citrus actually cooks the fish, and since the fish was sliced thinly the 'cooking process' just took around 7-10 minutes - you can tell by the way the flesh of the fish is not longer translucent.

This was actually served as a fishy Saturday treat alongside yellowfin tuna sashimi, sake and (obviously homemade irregularly rolled) cucumber sushi rolls

[rolling those sushi rolls made me recall one of the best japanese restaurants IMHO - Jamon Sushi - a must try!!! A bit pricey, but with good reason - this place is not for the conventional nor play-by-the-rules person, because once you sit down in one of the 18 seats in this intimate setting, the best way to go is to leave it to the hands of the chef and you will never regret it.]

Cheese Stuffed Masala Spiced Burgers

Sometimes, a craving for a particular food comes. And when it comes, it comes HARD.
For Friday night, it was for a burger.

It was probably the effect for running around at the Botanic Gardens! So, not wanting to (ultimately) waste the healthy routine, it had to be homemade burgers (just so we know what went in it!)

Makes 2 HUGE burgers

500g 5 star lean beef mince
1/2 brown onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
garam masala, paprika, cumin powder, coriander powder, chili powder, salt and pepper (to taste)
1 egg
2 handfuls grated cheddar cheese
a couple of handfuls of breadcrumbs

burger condiments : vine tomato, spanish onion, mild mustard, whole mustard seeds, tomato ketchup, spinach leaves, gerkins, or whatever you fancy
burger buns (I used multigrain buns)

Pre-heat oven (grill setting) to 220C. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.

Start by softening the onions, garlic and cumin seeds in a bit of olive oil. When onions are translucent, set aside and let cool.

In a mixing bowl, dump mince, spice powders (you just want a hint of spice so not too much of each!), egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, the cooled garlic and onion mixture...and there is no other way to mix this but by using your hands.

Shape into 2 patties. Make a hole in the center and add the grated cheese, then cover with the mince and reshape into patties again.

Place the patties on the foil-lined baking tray and pop into the oven, 10 min each side should do the trick!

When done, assemble your burger :
Slice buns into two (toast if you prefer), add spinach, a slice of tomato, a couple of slices of spanish onion, sliced gerkins, (i also used sliced sweet red chili!) topped with a dollop of tomato ketchup and whole mustard seeds.

with a bit of the cheese oozing from the inside!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Double Chocolate Stout

A little bit of liquid indulgence once in a while!

"Silky rich and creamy smooth", it says on the label -

Won't disagree on that department!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Daan's Cake

This week has been a cake-baking spree, but with good reason. It's a little Dutch kid's 2nd birthday, and as a present I wanted to make something special for him. While I had been making several components separately (the fondant from the cake last Sunday and a practice round for the chocolate with B's cake), at least if these turned out good, putting them together shouldn't turn out so bad!

This cake was made of 3 layers

vanilla, chocolate, vanilla

This time i cut the top off the topmost layer to for an even spreadthe entire thing iced with ganache to help the fondant stick - normally it would be butter cream but based on the last experience the chocolate tasted really nice with the vanilla cake. It could become extra messy if the fingers get smudged with the chocolate - as it leaves a trail of chocolate smudges in the fondant, so need to be extra careful.

The top cover was marshmallow fondant made green with food coloring (blue+yellow).

took a while to smoothen it out using a rubber spatula hehe

A star template was cut out from greaseproof paper and I used a pizza cutter to cut out stars out of pink-colored fondant. A teaspoon of glucose thinned with a bit of water served as glue for the hundreds and thousands (those little dots of color!)

Some smarties added more color (it was a kid's cake, so there can never be too much color!).

a little extra blue for 'an extra dimension' :p

his name is Daan (daaaaaaaan)

...and he has long blond hair...

..and has perfected the art of blowing birthday candles!

A couple of hours effort (baking the cakes were not an issue - just mix it up and chuck it in the oven - but the fondant and decorating the cake took a little longer than I had planned), for that priceless look from his face :)

I think I can stop baking cakes for a while....!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Cake Known as the Giant Blackforest Sandwich

One of the folks in office is celebrating her last day in office as she gets assigned to a different project. there's another excuse for me to quickly whip up something in the kitchen.
One of the flavors that I've been meaning to do is a blackforest cake, so I figured now's a good chance to do a version of it. Most of the blackforest cakes I've had is very rich and decadent, sometimes too rich that it can be quite off-putting after a couple of bites. I also settled for a simple cake decor - did not have much time anyway!

I was hoping that version will not too be rich (yeah don't worry about the double cream that I whipped), made on the chocolate cake base that I think is beginning to settle with me (just minor tweaks on the flavoring) but the at least i think i can call this cake base recipe 'my own'!

[ i found the cake to be not as moist as it was the last time i made a similar version - perhaps because it was baked in a different oven, but the top bit rose almost evenly that it didn't need any leveling... anyway, it was well received... or my officemates are just being polite! haha!]

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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