Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lunch for Leukaemia

I can't believe a whole week has already gone by since my little Lunch for Leukaemia fundraiser. The proceeds from the lunch and the bakesales totalled $523.25! When I started out, I guestimated that I'd raise approximately $200, thinking that I'd have 10 people over for lunch and ask them to donate $20 each. Well, the lunch got a bit bigger than I initially thought (15 people), and with the bakesales, we ended up with a lot more! Hooray!

I wanted to keep the menu fairly simple (in terms of taste), as there were a few people coming who I hadn't cooked for before. I also wanted to choose dishes that would be able to sit around, as I wasn't sure what time everyone was arriving.

A Fundraising Menu for Approximately 15

Cheese Stars (How to Eat)
Caesar Salad (Modern Classics I)
Chickpea, Coriander and Feta Salad (Falling Cloudberries)
Baked Pasta with Mozzarella and Tomatoes (Jamie's Italy)

Strawberries & Grapes
Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream (Magnolia Cupcakes, Donna Hay Icing)
Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Chocolate Buttercream (The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook)

My day started quite early, around 8am, so I could set up the kitchen and prepare the food. As per usual, I'd been prepping and baking the night before, but there was still quite a bit to get through.

I had the bright idea of making my own Caesar salad dressing, despite the fact that I hate making mayonnaise and it always takes me twice as long as it should. I did it in the blender - whizzing up egg yolks, anchovies, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and parmesan cheese, then adding vegetable oil in a slow and steady stream. I've previously only made mayo in the KitchenAid mixer, and was surprised to find the dressing constantly splattering everywhere as I was making it, including my hair. I felt like Miranda in that episode of Sex and the City where they go to the tantric sex class.

Anyhoo, after 15 minutes of noisy and annoying blending, the dressing suddenly curdled on me and turned feral. Blergh. However, remembering Nigella's sage-like advice from How to Eat, curdled mayo (unlike custard or hollandaise) can be saved! I had to start again with a fresh egg yolk (this time in my trusty KitchenAid with the whisk attachment), and add the curdled mess, little by little, whisking all the while. This was much less nerve wracking than the original process, funnily enough. The end result was a smooth and satiny, but slightly too thick, Caesar dressing.

Caesar salads also need bacon! I had 12 rashers to fry, so I thought it would be a perfect time to get some more patina happening on my carbon steel pan. It was a very, very greasy process.

Then, it was time to set up.

Fundraising kit from The Leukaemia Foundation - stickers, info display, celebrity chef picture.

Funky napkins from Ikea. I felt very "auntie" during the day when I yelled out, "Don't use those, use the cheap ones!" when someone tried to mop up some spilled soda water with them.


People started arriving around 12:30, with the bulk of people getting there at 1, by which time pretty much everything was set up and ready to go.

Cheese Stars

Casesar Salad - lettuce, hard boiled eggs, dressing, bacon, cheese, croutons. I found that lots of people picked at the bacon pieces as a nibble/canapé - interesting.

Chickpea, Coriander and Feta Salad

Next up is the baked pasta. I made the vat of sauce the night before, boiled the pasta in the morning, and put them together when people had arrived. I then layered the pasta with lots of cheese (home brand mozzarella, thank-you very much) and shoved them in the oven.

Hilariously, I'd made waay too much food. I tripled the quantities of the pasta bake (which is supposed to feed 4), but with so much going on, people only ate small amounts of each thing. We finished that big white dish, but the one at the front of the photo was pretty well untouched. Luckily my friends Adri & JZ chipped in some extra money and took the untouched pasta bake to a "bring a dish" party they were going to that night. (There was actually enough pasta for a 3rd dish, which I didn't bake, but put into the freezer for a future meal).

People and food...

Whilst people were eating and talking and donating, I popped a couple of flammkuchens in the oven. (Flammkuchen. Literally "Fire Cake". Actually thin-crusty dough topped with sour cream, bacon, thyme and red onions).

There was no room for dessert, but we seemed to manage.

Fruits! Healthy!

Vanilla Cupcakes! These were leftovers from the charity cupcakes. Remember I left 16 un-iced and froze them? Well, I took them out the morning before the lunch to defrost, and iced them the night before. They defrosted beautifully, and on the day of the lunch still tasted lovely and fresh.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. (Yes, that's 2 x chocolate, 2 x butter and 1 x cream). I'd used a 47% cocoa dark chocolate for the icing, thinking that would be equivalent to an American semisweet. The taste was great, but as you can see the icing was quite pale. Next time I'd stick to a hardcore 70% cocoa chocolate to get a richer colour. The original recipe makes a 3-layer 23cm cake; I went for a 2-tier effect, using a 20cm tin and a 25cm tin. When icing the cake, I cut the larger cake in half horizontally and put icing between the layers, and was going to do the same for the top layer, but there wasn't enough icing to go around, so the top layer stayed whole.

I cut off tiny pieces of cake around the sides for us to eat, but I think by this stage most of us had reached our sugar limits. In this instance, I might have been better off making a big flat rectangular slab cake out of the same mixture, rather than this tall monster, to prevent the finished product from looking so big and overwhelming.

Hehe, check out the bottom layer of cake - squished thin under the weight of co much cake.

My friend Liam inexplicably arrived at 10pm, ("Oh wait, you said it was a LUNCH?"), but there was lots of leftover cake for him to enjoy. With the remainder of this cake, I sliced it up, wrapped it in gladwrap and stuck it in the freezer. To my joy, buttercream freezes very well.

A big thanks to everyone for coming to my little lunch, and especially to Adri for suggesting the bakesale! (And for your awesome selling power!!!!) Until next year...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sellin' Slices

Lemon Slice - my favourite!

Following the success of the charity cupcakes, but before the Lunch itself, Adri and I sold some slices to raise more money for the Lunch for Leukaemia. (Pics still to come!) We thought slices might sell a bit faster, as they could be sold for cheaper, requiring less commitment and thought from the consumer.

Lemon slice is part of the homely Australian repertoire, easy to whip up, and a regular feature at afternoon teas, school fetes and the like. Whilst different versions and recipes abound, the lemon slice of my fond memory is always unbaked and contains a base of crushed biscuits, lemon juice and rind, butter, condensed milk and coconut, which is refrigerated, and then topped with a lemon icing.

My lemon slice recipe came from a decades-old Women's Weekly book entitled The Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits, but this one online is pretty much the same. Give it a go, lemon slice is fabulous!

I didn't have an appropriately sized lamington tin, so I used a baking sheet with a new expandable tin that I bought in Germany. It's ausziehbar in alle Richtungen!

At first, I was just going to make the lemon slice, but it was so quick and easy that I thought, "hey, why not make some chocolate hedgehog as well?" (I had been drooling over the recipe, found here at the Cadbury website, for days beforehand). The method is similar to lemon slice, although the ingredients differ. The biscuits aren't crushed as finely as for a lemon slice, and the base is made up of sugar, eggs, cocoa, nuts, melted butter and coconut.

The topping is made of a heart-stoppingly delicious mixture of dark chocolate and butter.

As with the lemon slice, it needs to be refrigerated until firm, and then sliced. As you can see from the photo below, I cut the hedgehog into the same sized squares as the lemon slice, but if I weren't selling these, I'd definitely cut the hedgehog into smaller fingers. It's incredibly rich, and tastes better eaten in tiny pieces. (This is purely for taste reasons, not portion control. In fact, I tend to eat more of something when it's cut into bite-sized pieces).

Packed and ready to go...

The sales of these ones went really well too - Adri sold them all for a gold coin donation each (well done!!!) and I think only ONE lemon slice got stolen! Yay!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Donna Hay's Malted Oat and Raisin Biscuits

Hello all!

Well, I had my Lunch for Leukaemia charity luncheon today, and I must say it was a success! We had 13 people for the lunch itself, plus a few extras who popped in later for cake and to hoover up the leftovers. I can't show you any pictures yet as I'm having a few problems with my laptop and can't upload or edit new pics. Grar. So, while we do a final count of the money and I wait for my laptop to be repaired, please enjoy these Malted Oat and Raisin Biscuits from Donna Hay's Modern Classics 2. (These photos were uploaded as a draft last week, *before* my laptop went kablooey).

I was inspired to whip them up after making those delicious Horlicks-filled malteaser cupcakes last week. I love Horlicks and Milo, and basically anything with a good malty taste. These biscuits are like a regular oat-and-raisin cookie, with the added goodness of Horlicks. Well, actually the recipe asks for "malted milk powder", which I assumed to mean Horlicks. I wasn't sure, however, if malted milk powder is sweetened or unsweetened (Horlicks definitely has sugar in it!), so I cut down on the sugar in the recipe just to be safe.

I usually mix biscuit dough on the low speed of an electric mixer as my puny arms cannot cope with the thickness of the dough. You roll out big spoonfuls of dough, and bake them for 8-10 minutes.

I have to say, we loved these biscuits! They were soft, but still slightly crunchy, with a subtle malty taste. Fabulous! I could have done with a few more oats and raisins in the cookies, but apart from that they were wonderful. Nothing beats a batch of freshly baked cookies. I had mine with a nice cup of (you guessed it) Horlicks. It was so delicious and comforting.

I stored these cookies in a pasta storer. Theoretically you'd get through the cookies slower, as it's harder to get each one out, but as my family can attest, we demolished them pretty rapidly.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Inspired by my bleary-eyed reading of Cindy & Michael's blog this morning, I decided to break my week-long tranche of odd breakfasts (cheese croissants / tea / cookies / nothing) and fix myself some good old porridge from my massive jar of 5-grain-power-porridge.

I usually have dark muscovado sugar and milk on my porridge, but this morning I decided to change things up a bit. I rummaged around my fridge, and added prunes, pistachios and some schweet, schweet condensed milk. Yummmmm!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cupcakes for Charity

As you may have noticed on my next to last post, I am currently trying to raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation as part of their Lunch for Leukaemia month. My friend Adri kindly offered to help out in my quest, so we thought that she could raise some donations by selling cupcakes at her work.

I baked a batch of Malteaser cupcakes (Nigella's malteaser cake being one of my favourites), and I found that the recipe made 18 cupcakes, filled about half to three-quarters full. Remembering that the icing just covers the whole cake, and that cupcakes need more icing than regular cake, I increased the quantities of the icing by 1.5.

Baked malteaser cupcakes; icing in the processor; messily piped icing; completed cupcakes.

I tried piping the icing, but as you can see, my piping was rubbish, and besides, whenever you piped brown icing it just looks plain wrong. I then spread out the piped icing with a knife, and dotted each cupcake with 3 malteasers. I'd still recommend piping the icing out then spreading it, as it's a lot neater, especially when the cupcake paper extends beyond the height of the cupcake itself.

I then whipped up a batch of Magnolia's vanilla cupcakes, and used Donna Hay's buttercream icing recipe for the icing. The Magnolia buttercream frosting is unbearably sweet - (8 cups of sugar to 1 cup of butter), and Donna's had approximately equal amounts of butter and sugar. I had a go at piping the icing, which a) was incredibly stiff and difficult to pipe and b) looked terrible. Let's face it, people, I cannot pipe! The good old pipe and spread method again came in handy. The recipe made 30 cupcakes; I used 12, had a couple of samples, and stashed the remaining 16 in the freezer.

Messily piped icing; extra cupcakes packed and ready to be frozen; one completed cupcake; completed cupcakes packed in a tin and ready to go.

I was hoping to use my Decor 2-storey cupcake-container (specifically bought for this purpose!) to give the cupcakes to Adri to sell, but the iced cupcakes did not fit! WTF? How can a 2-storey cupcake-container be too short for 2 storeys of cupcakes! I didn't even ice them that high. The cupcake container just managed to fit 2 layers of un-iced cupcakes, so I used it to stash the un-iced cupcakes in the freezer, and distributed the completed cupcakes amongst other containers.

Sample malteaser cupcake...

Adri and I decided to sell the cupcakes for a donation of $4 each, which we both thought was reasonable, and comparable to store-bought cupcakes. There were 28 cupcakes to sell, and if we managed to sell them all, we'd get $112.

We gave our friend JZ 6 of those cupcakes to sell at his office, and Adri took the remainder. However, at first they didn't sell well at all. By 11am, only 2 had been sold. Uh-oh. People thought they were too small, and too expensive. We didn't realise that the canteen at Adri's work sells muffins for a mere $1.60, and even though these cupcakes were for charity, people just weren't interested. Accountants must be damn kiamsap, man! Do you know what's really kiamsap (tightarse), though? Someone at JZ's office TOOK a cupcake without paying. I mean, fair enough if you think $4 is too much and you choose not to purchase a cake. But who steals a charity cupcake?!?!?!?!? We didn't figure out who the culprit was, but luckily some extra donations managed to cover it.

In the afternoon, Adri went desk-to-desk to sell cupcakes and solicit donations, which worked a lot better than just leaving the cupcakes in the staff kitchen. And in the end, she managed to get rid of them all! It wouldn't have been a great hardship for us to eat the remaining cupcakes, but our aim was to raise money! Wahoo! She also found that some people just wanted to give a donation, and not take a cupcake. Excellent.

So, after a slow morning, the cupcake sales actually went really well, thanks almost entirely to Adri's amazing selling power. We ended up raising over $120. Great work!

Anyhoo, the malteaser cupcakes sold a lot faster than the 'plain' vanilla, probably because they look a lot more exciting, even though the vanilla ones taste better. The general reaction was that the malteaser cupcakes were a bit too sweet, whilst the vanilla ones taste good. (The exact word that came up, which seems to crop up every time I make cupcakes, was "moist". It's an unfortunate word, but totally appropriate).

We're going to have another bake-sale next week, prior to my lunch on Saturday. This time we'll sell something a bit cheaper and simpler. Maybe lemon slice?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Soybean Ragu

More deliciousness from this month's Delicious magazine...

This soybean ragu is in the real fast food feature of the magazine. It immediately appealed to me, being reminiscent of all the tomato-based veggie soups I love so much. As a bonus, it looked hearty and chock-full of vegetarian protein and fibre. I've been eating a lot of meat recently and felt like a nutritious break. All boxes ticked! I happened to have a tin of soybeans in the pantry - I'd never seen podded soybeans before and just had to get some when I found them at the shops. I actually bought them with Nigella's Curry in a Hurry in mind, but haven't gotten around to making that again. (Last time I made that, I podded my own soybeans. Still delicious, but hardly express.)

The ragu is extremely easy, and only needs some chopping and simmering. It took about 30 minutes to make (although next time I'd simmer it for longer, so that the carrots and celery get delectably soft, and so that the tomato loses its acidic edge). I served it with organic spelt and ancient grain bread, heavily buttered and sprinkled with Maldon sea salt.

The recipe isn't up on yet, but it should be by next month, along with a gazillion other recipes from popular Aussie food mags. It's a great source.

Edit: ***Now that I can find tinned soybeans at the supermarket, I was going to write a paragraph on their health benefits, but there were way too many to list. They're high in protein, iron, lower cholesterol, contain essential fatty acids and heaps of other nutrients! They truly are a superfood! Click here for more info***

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lunch for Leukaemia

In August 2008, the Leukaemia Foundation is encouraging people in the community to host a lunch to support "Lunch for Leukaemia" and raise funds for patients and families living with leukaemias, lymphomas, myeloma and related blood disorders.

It's easy to get involved:

- Register to host a Lunch at your home
- Provide a venue for a lunch, ask guests to bring a plate and a donation
- Have a raffle at work
- Visit a supporting café

Just by having lunch you can make a real difference to the cause, and contribute to a fantastic organisation.

The Leukaemia Foundation is committed to ongoing funding for vital research into the causes, diagnosis and treatment, and ultimately cures for leukaemias, lymphomas, myeloma and related blood disorders. The Foundation also does great work providing support services, counselling, accommodation and transport for patients and their families, all free of charge. They receive no government funding, and rely on the generous support of corporate sponsors and the community.

For more information, or if you live in Victoria and would like to host your own lunch, visit the Foundation's Lunch for Leukaemia webpage. I'll be hosting my lunch in 2 weeks' time, and got my starter kit today! It included a banner, balloons, stickers, posters, donation receipts and excitingly, recipes from Tobie Puttock and Neil Perry! Please do get involved if you can; it is such a fantastic cause, and a great excuse to catch up with friends. (For fellow food bloggers, this would be a great opportunity to bust out those recipes you've been meaning to try!)

Here is Tobie, and his mouthwatering recipe for grilled squid and chorizo with pesto.

Tobie Puttock, co-owner of Fifteen Melbourne. (Photo courtesy of The Leukaemia Foundation)

Food is my passion and I love to inspiring people to cook. Why don’t you get some work colleagues, friends and family together and host a Lunch of Leukaemia? It is a simple and easy way to raise much needed funds for the Leukaemia Foundation. Every hour of every day an Australian is diagnosed with a blood cancer. The money raised will enable the Foundation to provide practical support and advice to people with blood cancer and their families.

Grilled Squid and Chorizo with Pesto
Serves 4

I like to use fresh chorizo when I can, available from selected butchers.

(Photo & Recipe courtesy of The Leukaemia Foundation)


4 fresh squid tubes (about 800g), cleaned
Finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
50ml extra virgin olive oil
4 chorizo sausages, cut into
1cm-thick slices on an angle
Rocket and lemon wedges, to serve

1 bunch basil, leaves picked
1 garlic clove
2 tsp pine nuts
2 tbs grated parmesan
1 tbs lemon juice
1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil

Halve squid lengthways and scrape away any membrane. With a sharp knife, lightly score inside of squid in a crisscross pattern, then halve each piece widthways. Mix rind, chilli, garlic, oil, salt and pepper in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Place squid in marinade, cover and chill for 30 minutes or until needed.

For pesto, pound basil to a paste with a mortar and pestle. Add garlic and pound until smooth. Add nuts, cheese and juice and pound again to a paste. Mix in oil and season to taste. Or mix all ingredients in a food processor, then season. Heat a chargrill or barbecue on high. Cook chorizo for 2-3 minutes to brown, then turn. Add the squid score-side up, cook for 1 minute, then turn – it’ll curl if scored correctly. Cook for 2 minutes, mixing squid with chorizo, until chorizo is browned all over and squid is just cooked. Serve with pesto, rocket and lemon.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Yum Cha!

Yum Cha! Who stayed up late watching the Olypmics opening ceremony last night? I watched it over at a friend's house, up until 1:30 AM!!! We marvelled at the massive LCD screen and the incredible co-ordination of all performers, thought the little girl singing in the red dress was cute, if a bit psychotic, wondered WTF Sarah Brightman was doing there, and rolled our eyes at the woeful commentating. I secretly wished that Jackie Chan or Andy Lau would be involved in the ceremony, but no such luck.

As always, the most interesting part of the ceremony was watching the parade of participants. I love seeing people from exotic countries that I've never heard of - Azerbaijan, Guinea-Bissau, Moldova, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to name a few. (Obviously, "exotic" is a relative concept, so please excuse me if I sound as uncultured as Homer "hey... there's a New Mexico!" Simpson). I cheered the loudest for the Malaysian, German and Australian teams, and loved the Malaysian team's outfits. Good luck to all athletes, especially my peeps, the Malaysian badminton players. Malaysia Boleh!

In keeping with the Chinese theme, and in honour of my Chinese heritage, today's post is about that great Chinese culinary tradition - YUM CHA! (After some research, I realised that Yum Cha is a Southern Chinese tradition, rather than a Northern, Beijing thang, but let's not let that spoil our enjoyment of delicious yum cha). Yum Cha literally means "drink tea" in Cantonese, and is the Chinese tradition of eating many small plates of different foods for a weekend family breakfast / brunch / lunch. And of course, drinking lots tea with it.

We have yum cha quite often, more so when I was a kid, but I never even though to blog it because it was just way too ordinary. I mean, yum cha is a regular family weekend activity - definitely not special occasion or exotic or unusual. However, remembering that "exotic" is a relative term, I thought some of you might be interested in how Yum Cha from Melbourne goes down.

I'm no expert on Yum Cha, and I don't even speak Cantonese - we're proud to be Hokkien-speaking Penangites - so my approach to Yum Cha is the good old "point-and-nod", which is what I advise to anyone else who doesn't speak Cantonese. So, with that in mind, please excuse any mistakes I may have made in the following captions. This particular Yum Cha session was at Shark Fin Inn in the city (see below for address), and although there are hundreds of different types of dishes that can be eaten at Yum Cha, the ones below are my family's standard dishes.

Top Row R-L: Chee Chong Fan (Prawns wrapped in rice-noodle sheets), Sticky Rice in Leaf, Some dumpling or something
Middle Row R-L: Japanese Tofu with Minced Prawn and Scallop, Eggplant/Prawn, Vegetarian Rolls, Sticky Rice with Lap Cheong
Bottom Row: Siew Mai (steamed pork dumplings), Har Gao (steamed prawn dumplings), Shark Fin Dumplings

Clockwise from Top Left: Century Egg Congee, Roast Pork Puffs, Teapot, Woo-cock (Deep-fried yam balls)

Tan-taat (egg custard tarts) and Yong Tau Fu (sweet bean curd with sugar syrup - light and refreshing).

FYI, these photos of me eating are a joke. Despite what Kylie Kwong might seem to think, Chinese people do not eat paus with chopsticks. Why don't we just eat tan-taats with chopsticks then? Silly.

Sarah's Top Picks for Yum Cha in Melbourne

Shark Fin Inn
50-52 Little Bourke St
Melbourne 3000 VIC
(03) 9662 2681

Shark Fin House
131 Little Bourke St
Melbourne 3000
(03) 9663 1555

546 Doncaster Road
Doncaster 3108
(03) 9840 1122

239 Blackburn Rd
Doncaster East 3109
(03) 9841-9977

Of course, I'm just scratching the surface here. Tell me, what are your favourite restaurants in Melbourne for Yum Cha? And what are your family's favourite dishes?


That Red Rooster Olympics TV ad with the "notice how well red goes with China" slogan is stupid. Everybody knows that Chinese people like Kentucky Fried Chicken the best.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Madeleines au Chocolat et Mousse au Chocolat

***From the Archives*** As I've mentioned previously, I'm currently going through all my as-yet-unblogged photos in my photo archive.

I see that I made these madeleines and chocolate mousse last year in November. It was the night after my work's Christmas party, and I was hideously hungover. The type of hungover where you feel so ill that you just want to curl up and hide under a doona, but you can't lie down because your head won't stop spinning. What fun. I had invited my cousin over for lunch that day, and by the time I woke up she was already on her way. (It seemed like such a good idea in the middle of the week, to say, "I'll cook cuz, just rock up at midday on Sunday!")

I think I ended up making a panzanella salad - plans for marinated grilled chicken had to be scrapped - and for dessert, chocolate mousse and some chocolate madeleines.

I got the recipes from a Lindt Chocolate brochure. How I love Lindt! Both mousse and madeleines tasted lovely, as expected. Meanwhile, I totally want to go to the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney - how good does it look!?

In contrast to their amazing creations, check out how lumpy my mousse was! The melted chocolate/butter re-solidified on contact with the cold whipped cream. Oh well, it still tasted good, and I knew my cousin wouldn't mind.

Once I piped the mixture into little containers, it looked decent. Cuz arrived as I was making the madeleines, by which time I was feeling a bit better, thanks to a lot of water and diet coke. The madeleines were an ordinary madeleine mixture with some cocoa, rum and cocoa nibs added for contrasting crunch and smoky cocoa depth. It had a more adult flavour than you might expect from 'chocolate madeleines', and were delicious.

Served with balsamic-marinated strawberries. A great summer dessert.

A-hah! This is the way to eat madeleines au chocolat with mousse au chocolate. First you dunk it...
.... then you Chomp it!

And if coke and water don't help your hangover... then fried food is the only way to go. Later that night, still feeling a little seedy, I headed to a Thai restaurant with some other friends and enjoyed some hot spring rolls and green curry, effectively kicking that hangover to the curb!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I want to believe... that all restaurant owners are this nice

Teriyaki Chicken Bento - $14.50
(Unagidon in the background, $15)

Sakura Japanese Restaurant
91 Kingsway
Glen Waverley

Last night, I went to see The X-Files movie, and my friend with the tickets was running late. We still needed dinner. (No, popcorn doesn't count). I went into the first nearby restaurant that had "TAKEAWAY" written on the window, and ordered and paid for an unagidon for my friend Adri. The donburis seemed a bit pricey for me, so I didn't order anything for myself and waited for the unagidon to arrive. Then, I saw the take-away bentos on the menu. Only $14.50 for that big box! Score. So I ordered one for myself... and started taking out my money, only to realise that I only had $13.50 left in my wallet, and they didn't take cards. Oh, the embarrassment!!! I just said, "Oh whoops, don't worry about it", and wanted to leave straight away, but I still had that unagidon to wait for. Grar! However, the owners were so super nice, and just said, "Don't worry about it, it's only $1, you can pay next time". Can you believe it? I'd never even been there before!

I will be back. And I will tip.

I inhaled my dinner outside the cinema, and it was really good! Miso soup, 2 freshly fried spring rolls, juicy teriyaki chicken, perfect rice, cabbage and carrot salad and some California rolls. I'll trust you all to keep it a secret that I ate all of that in under 4 minutes. As I was downing the last of the miso, Adri rocked up and we ran in, just catching the end of the trailers. PHEW!

As expected, Mulder was awesome, and Scully rocked, but it was the owners at Sakura who left the biggest impression on me.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Osso Bucco

We were treated to an amazing meal of ossu bucco this week, made by my bro's girlfriend Su. (Hi SU!!!) The recipe is Tobie Puttock's, from the current (Aug 2008) issue of Delicious magazine, and also in his new book Italian Local. I haven't bought Delicious for a few months now; partly because of space issues, partly because I got tired of the same old stuff being published every month. Furthermore, their editor-in-chief sounded pretty pompous and self important at the Out of the Frying Pan food media conference in March this year. (Sticky's round-up of the day says it all, I think). This month's issue, however, was particularly appealing, and I had to pick it up after flicking through it at a newsagent. It's got a great selection of wintry recipes - stews, breads, puddings, and a whole lotta soups. I am totally loving the soups right now.

The day after I bought it, Su asked me, "Sarah, do you have a recipe for Osso Bucco?"

Why yes, yes I do.

So, Thursday night was Osso Bucco night. I had the pleasure of watching Su do all the cooking while I worked hard, you know, checking my emails and stuff.
Top Left: frying off the carrots/onion/celery
Top Right: Seared pieces of osso bucco
Bottom Left: adding meat, stock, tomatoes and cooked vegies to the roasting tray
Bottom Right: Mashed Potatoes (made by me!)

Once you've got all the meat, veggies, wine and stock in the roasting tray, it needs 3 hours in a medium-low oven until amazingly fragrant and tender. It makes the house nice and warm, and smells brilliant.

Heheh, check out this massive pile of mashed potatoes I made to go with Su's osso bucco. I felt like Homer in the episode where he went to clown college!

One bowl.

This was incredible. Absolutely amazing! This was easily the best Osso Bucco I've ever had. Tobie's a genius, Su's a legend, Sarah was happy.

Thank-you Su!