Thursday, 22 November 2007

(organic) cafe LF

cafe longford finally has its very own espresso machine! it has taken us 9 months of price checking, unsuccessful ebaying... after using the freebie 3.5 bar machine for several months, the chance came (for a real bargain) to get the ever popular paul bassett EM6910... it sure is noisy! (OHS wise, best to use ear muffs while operating - to dampen the piercing hissing when frothing milk)... and back to the topic of bargains - it was bought at myer during the myer and american express promotion... all in all, it was bought for $530 (such a bargain price is achieved after the rebate $50 myer vouchers from AE, $50 off advertised by myer, an extra 10% off from myer for myer card holders (saving another $60) and a bonus $30 car wash voucher)... usually it retails for $699 and is not seen discounted for less than $650 anywhere else... to add to the bonus, there is a freebie DVD and freebie 1 1/2-hour barista course for one...
the freebie course was bagged by mcduck and the resident chef of LF cafe could only practise her skills quietly at home... it took litres and litres of whole milk and soy milk to achieve the 1st batch of foamy cappuccino...
... now that i have figured out the art of steam wand positioning (just under the surface of the milk) and have improved on the technique of "chasing the froth" (the rise of the wand with the rising foam)... the coffees made by cafe LF is pretty consistent...
the best economical and healthy is made with a single shot of espresso with a portion of 1/2 whole milk and 1/2 home made soy milk... home made soy milk will give the drink its sweetness while the (50%) whole milk gives it creaminess without being too sickeningly filling and fatty, should one be using 100% whole milk... and of course it is cheaper too with home made soy milk! - yep! true spirit of a bargain hunter shines...
although i must say... cafe LF doesn't skim on the quality of coffee... for a similar price to vittoria beans bought at coles, i would rather get freshly roasted beans from forsyth at the end of willoughby rd, and grind as necessary - it makes all the diff!
the veggie patch is producing organic veg for food too (as above)... the yield is quite minimal and it doesn't help when one has to share the goodies with a growing population of caterpillars! just as vasilli says, squashed caterpillars are the best deterrent for other mother moths and baby caterpillars... so my fingers have been busy squeezing green slim out of plump wriggling worms
and at the same time saying a pray for each worm that looses its life for its cause (of being organic pest control)... at the cooking front, the home made salted eggs (from the mooncake fest) have finally matured... 1 or 2 has become overly matured and had to be thrown out... these golden, gleaming salted egg yolks have been wrapped into pretty presents of glutionus rice dumplings... each yolk is divided into several bit and each was accompanied by red dates, chinese mushrooms, fatty pork, mung bean etc etc and covered in glutionus rice and bamboo leaves...
now they are in the freezer, ready for an emergency din din...

Thursday, 8 November 2007

wife cake and my food scale

i have been thinking about making wife cake for a long long time... i've gone through many recipes, and finally i got the missing ingredient! my new electronic scale! (that can do 1g increments instead of dodgy inaccurate 10g ones)
as one can see, wife cake requires both oil dough and water dough - and that's the trick for the flakiness of the pastry...

in order to achieve that flakiness, i went and bought some lard! yes as in pork fat LARD... and it is not hard to find - even coles have it... koh fun (cooked glutinous rice flour) is harder to find though...
so here is what i used & what i did:
for the candied winter melon filling
200g candied winter melon (bought in chinese shop and they come in packet of 200g)
50g toasted (black) sesame seeds (i only had black at home, can also use white sesame seeds)
50g castor sugar
65g koh fun (cooked glutinous rice flour)
95mL water
1 1/2 tbsp oil
chop the melon strips into little bits and mix with all the other dried ingredients and mix well
then mix in the oil and water into a "dough"
roll into equal balls and rest (i rolled them into 16 balls)
for the water dough
240g plain flour (including 1tbsp gluten to increase elasticity of dough)
1 1/2 tbsp castor sugar
1 tbsp syrup (i used leftover mooncake syrup, but can also use golden syrup)
80g lard
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
120mL water
mix all the dried ingredients then rub the cubed lard into it until breadcrumb like
add the wet ingredients into the "breadcrumb"
knead into a dough, will become "springy"
let it rest for 30-45 min before using again
for the oil dough
95g flour
80g lard
rub cubed lard into flour until it becomes dough
dough will not be springy, let it rest for 30-45 min
for the glaze
1 egg beatened
1/8 tsp salt
mixed well and brush on to the wife cake just before baking
once each part of the recipe is prepared, the electronic scale will become v handy for dividing portions evenly before assembling... the easiest way is to divide the dough in half then in half again and then half again until there are 16 equal portions (like above)
to assemble the dough, the smaller oil dough ball is embedded into the water dough (like making a dumpling)...

once the dough is rolled into a ball, rest it (on a plate under ice water helps)... and then roll into a sausage, then roll it out like this...
i love my huon rolling pin!
... then roll into a sausage again (sausage with a spiral this time)...
rest again...
roll out sausage...
and into another spiral sausage...
then into a dough ball...
after resting, it'll be ready for wrapping
... like wrapping a dumpling again... covering the filling with the dough... and flatten it to become the uncooked wife cake

give it a paint of glaze / egg wash...

line it up on baking paper...

and a bit of baking (180 degrees celcius for 25 mins)
... the cake will rise a little and become golden

just out of the oven, cooling down...

flaky flaky... just like the ones in the cake shop!

multi layered!

and i couldn't have done it without this! this is not an ordinary electronic scale... it has over 2000 food items with nutritional info... all one needs to do is to enter the type of food and weigh it... and then all the calories and protein and fat content is displayed, even the GI level!
yes... the tag says $169, but i got it for $116 or something like that... DJs is having 30% off scales... but hang on... this $ is cheaper than that... why is that?
this scale is the last one (of the kind) on the shelf and has no price tag on the box... i reckon in it's former life it was a bench top demo... cos as i opened the box, i found the price tag inside the box... yep, there was abit of dust too... but the batteries are stilled packed...
it looks like a calculator...
and even has a carry bag for travel!
and it can store nutritional info for 7 days! so... although it is over $100 it is still in the bargain hunter's book (considering other electronic scales are priced from the basic ones $60 - similar ones but with no nutritional info, $160)