Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Check me out in Australian Gourmet Traveller!!

Hey! Check it out everyone!

My How to Eat blog has been featured in this month's Australian Gourmet Traveller!

If you pick up this issue (February 2006) and turn to page 58, you will see a photo of yours truly with some fellow Melbournian food bloggers!The article, entitled "Eat my words", was written by fellow food-blogger Ed Charles (of Tomato blog fame) and is all about the wonderful world of food blogs. Well done Ed! It's a very good read (irrespective of my being mentioned), so I recommend that y'all go out and buy the mag.



L-R: Cindy, Sarah, Ed, Jamie

Quotes:

"Want to bag a top chef? Start a blog. Pim Techamuanvivit did. Now, thanks to her internationally famous blog, Chez Pim (chezpim.typepad.com), she's dating David Kinch, the chef and owner of... San Francisco's Manresa. I've also started a blog, but my wife won't let me date. I once met Karen Martini, though."

"The real stars of the food blogging scene are Asian women."

"Beyond the world of hip Asian women..." (Huh? There's a world beyond hip Asian women??)

Friday, January 27, 2006

It begins...

The stale heat, bedsheets still cool with the breath of the airconditioner on them, the smell of chilli, spices, curry, deep-fried food, the kitchen covered in bowls and little red plastic tea cups... it's just like Malaysia...

Chinese New Year is almost here!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Awesome Aussie Sarah Chicken

Hello!

I'm not sure if you remember, but last month I published a post about how I'd had a dish named after me by Lisa...

  • I'm a dish!

  • Her description of the dish was...

    yes, a dish I've named after our dish aussiesarah. It's chicken sprinkled w/Ranch dressing mix, roasted on rice, then sliced red peppers added and doused w/Tabasco at table. Ace!

    Yum, yum, yum. I emailed her shortly after to get more detailed instructions on how to make it.

    I had chicken on my mind for dinner, and I thought, you know, how good would Ranch dressing be on that chicken? Good! And since meeting you, I've become a rice addict, so of course that was my selected side. But being the lazy person I am, I'm a one-potter gal, so I shook the chicken up with the Ranch dip mix, I put a cup of basmati in the pan, then two cups of water on top, and then I put the chicken breasts on top of that, with a pat of butter on each, and put it in the 400F oven for like 20 minutes. Then I put the red peppers in so they would be just tender-crisp, and baked it for about 10 more minutes. It was awesome! Of course, to top it off, I had to add the Tabasco (fresh parsley, too). It all worked.

    Anyhoo, I made it today for lunch. I doubled her quantities for four of us, and used skinless free range chicken breasts. I put the rice in the dish, poured water over, and then put the ranch-dip-powder-coated breasts on top, each topped with a dollop of butter.

    chicken ready for oven

    For the first 20 minutes of cooking, I covered the dish with foil, because I thought this would help the rice cook faster and prevent the breasts from drying out. MISTAKE! Covering them in foil keeps the breasts disappointingly pallid, and didn't seem to speed up the rice-cooking process at all. So I removed the foil and let it keep cooking until all the water was absorbed, and put slices of red capsicum on for the last 7 minutes or so. Because of the doubled quantities, this one took about 40 minutes in total.


    Awesome Aussie Sarah Chicken

    To finish it off, I sprinkled it with parsley, and we ate it with Crystal Hot Sauce. At first, we thought it might be a bit bland, what with all the whiteness, but it was brilliant. If you have a look at Lisa's photo, she left the skin on her breasts, which made them much browner and (I think) even tastier.

    It was so good! So quick and easy to cook, and incredibly tasty! The ranch dressing not only flavours the chicken, but the rice as well. It's a one-pot-meal of deliciousness. Since starting the How to Eat project, my whole family has been suffering some serious rice cravings. We descended upon the delicious ranch-dressing-infused rice and chicken like a pack of hungry wolves. It was just perfect.

    It was pretty healthy too; we ate it with salad. I definitely want this to become a regular addition to the repertoire of family meals!

    Sunday, January 15, 2006

    Straight from the horse's mouth...

    I read this in an old article from the Observer, in which they interviewed Nigel Slater (aka my future husband) when he released his autobiography, Toast. It's pretty cool. Nigel rocks my socks.


    Stuff I know about cooking

    Most of us eat too much.

    The first bite of pizza is always the best. Ditto sip of cold beer.

    Even the most feted of intellectuals cannot cook if they refuse to apply basic common sense.

    Baking a loaf of bread will change the way you think about food. There is something simple, pure and frugal about a home-made loaf, and the feel-good factor is better than a trip to the gym.

    I still meet men who never, ever cook. They think it's their wife's job. They are living in the dark ages.


    People who are good cooks are often good in bed.

    Most of the men-only cooking classes are fully booked.

    There is no light so perfect as that which shines from an open fridge door at 2am.

    The British are not passionate cooks. We are a nation of recipe followers.

    Sometimes I think 'fuck it' and just make myself a bowl of plain steamed rice.

    The food in France is on a downward spiral.

    All food tastes better when you are ever-so-slightly drunk.

    Most chefs prefer their mum's cooking to the bells and whistles stuff they send out to their customers.



    Did you see that 6th point? Thank-you Nigel, thank-you. You might have noticed through my blogs that I am a pretty decent cook. HAH!

    Click here for full article

    Monday, January 02, 2006

    QUARK

    I always love learning about new foods. Check out this information I found out about "quark".

    Originating from Germany, from the word speisequark, quark is a low fat natural and unripened soft cheese, comparable to cottage cheese or fromage frais. It lends its own special texture and flavour to both sweet and savoury dishes, providing a low calorie alternative to higher fat dairy products. Quark is perfect for creating baked European style cheesecakes and can also be used in dips or as a savoury topping in place of sour cream.


    Fancy that. It is made of whole milk and non-animal rennet, with some enzymes too, I think.

    It's breakFEAST time

    My first breakfast of the year was from Nigella Lawson's book, Feast. To imitate Nigella's words and sentiments, it was a sweet breakfast, with the aim of ushering in a year of corresponding sweetness.

    Arabian Mornings - "This is not so much a recipe, more an enthusiastic suggestion: a scented, simple salad with which to greet a turquoise-skied summer's day".

    This salad consists of chunked watermelon, sprinkled with fresh mint and rosewater. Optionally, you can include some ripe, quartered strawberries. I chose this option.


    Arabian Mornings

    I had read this recipe a long time ago, but had never been keen to make it. It just sounded too simple, boring even. I couldn't conceive of how those three ingredients together could make a whole, cohesive dish. But this morning, I wanted something light to eat, and I had all the ingredients at hand, so I thought I'd give it a try. I was wrong; it was lovely. It's everything Nigella says it is - fragrant, delicious, uplifting. Today wasn't exactly "turquoise-skied", (yesterday's 43 degree heat was replaced, suddenly, by cold winds, clouds and heavy rain), but upon eating this salad, I stopped caring.

    Later in the afternoon, I was deep in domestic goddess mode, and in the midst of baking some mini rhubarb meringue pies, I was suddenly inspired. There was some sweetened rhubarb pulp which wouldn't fit into the pie cases, so I layered them in a glass with Greek yogurt (leftover from hummus), some Andy's Fairfield Granola, and light muscovado sugar. This was basically an amalgum of Nigella's Raspberry and Oatmeal Swirls (also the Breakfast chapter of Feast) and the rhubarb and muesli compote which is sold at my favourite cafe on campus. The former consist of frozen raspberries layered with icing sugar and crushed Hobnob biscuits; the latter is layers of rhubarb compote, yogurt, and muesli.


    Rhubarb Yogurt Granola Swirl

    It was absolutely lovely! I was thinking of saving it until tomorrow's breakfast, but my bro walked into the kitchen and declared, "That looks fantastic! Can I eat it?". So, we shared it. I highly recommend this for a breakfast that feels like a treat, but not guilt-inducingly so.

    Magnolia Cupcakes, the second

    Last night, my brother and I went to our friend Symone's house for a new year's eve celebration. I made Symone a rhubarb meringue pie as a gift, and as a contribution to the evening's festivities, brought beans wrapped in prosciutto (How to Eat), and some Magnolia Bakery cupcakes!

    The first Magnolia Bakery cupcakes I made were "white cupcake with chocolate chips topped with peanut butter icing", and they were fabulous. But I thought it was really time I tried the classic, original, famous cupcakes. Namely, they were "traditional vanilla birthday cake topped with traditional vanilla buttercream".

    One thing I've realised about the Magnolia Bakery recipes which sets them apart from the others, (and no, it's not the incredible sugar content), is that they're very precise about timings, and that they're beaten for longer than you'd expect. This ensures the fabulous, smooth and light texture.


    Cupcakes

    The last time I made cupcakes, the specified quantity of icing ended up being far more than enough. Even though I piled the icing high on the cupcakes, to the extent that my mate Si said "it looks like someone crapped on a cupcake", there was still heaps leftover. So, I decided (for the sake of my mum's sanity), to halve the quantities of icing for these cupcakes, and only make more if required. Also, given that the icing is so temple-achingly sweet, I prefer to only spread a small amount on the cupcakes, as opposed to those big swirly masses that Magnolia does.

    So, the half quantity of icing that I made (half aqua, half pink) covered 16 of the 24 cupcakes. But what about the remaining 8? I had a rootle around in my fridge, and found the chocolate peanut butter icing left over from last time. It was over a month ago, but could I still use it? I tasted some, it was good. Just to be sure, I tasted some more. It was very good. I think that the sugar in it prevents it from going off. Ever. I happily used this icing to cover the remaining cupcakes.


    Icing

    When icing cupcakes, it's very helpful to slice the tops flat. This makes it easier to ice, but even better, means you get to taste test the muffin tops!


    top of the muffin to ya

    I topped some of them with these fab gold chocolate buttons (sent to me by the fab DG for Christmas), some with crystallized violets (which complemented the icing colours perfectly), and left some unadorned.


    cupcakes + rhubarb meringue pie


    transport


    Sym & Sash & cakes

    They went down very, very well.


    eating


    Lewis, cupcake, I


    Eva, Cupcakes