Monday, 28 January 2008

aussie food celebration

this year, oz day fell on a saturday - perfert time for a par-teeee...
so 3 days prior, the preparation (for the feast) began... here are some of the aussie food we enjoyed on the day...

inspration came as i watched "surfing the menu", when bender and curtis went to a trout farm in tassie and started to improvise afterwards... i think it was bender who cooked the dish of "salt baked ocean trout"... "ooo what a nice party dish!" i thought...
the quest to find an ocean trout that would fit the oven wasn't an easy task... they were all so huge... finally i figured out a 3 kg would just fit into the 900mm oven... see how the tail end was wrapped in foil, so to prevent a fire happening from it contacting the side of the oven...

as the trout was brought home, the scales where left intact (so the salt would not directly contact the skin and impart an ultra salty taste)... the gills were removed and the inner cavities of the fish (stomach, mouth and all) were filled with sliced lemon, sprigs of rosemary and fresh parsley... 2 long rolls of Al foil outlines the boundary for the salt/olive/egg white mix at the base (more on the salt later)... and the lovely dressed trout slept on top...

much more of the salt mix was needed to encase the entire trout, sealing the juices in and let it steam in the 210 degrees celcius oven heat for 1 1/2 hours...

NB on the salt: rock salt was used and if one was to purchase 7-8 kg from a deli or coles, it would have cost $4/2kg = $16+... so in true bargain hunter spirit, bender suggested getting the salt from any pool shop or hardware store... i concurred and ventured to the local pool shop and got some pool salt (ie- unrefined 100% australian salt) for $9/20kg! (that was the smallest bag they have) that would be many more salt baked fish, salt baked chicken or duck etc to come...

the bloody thing was so heavy to lift... by now the 3 kg fish has become 7-8kg with the salt and baking dish...

the cooking time was researched and researched on the internet (as bender did not specify the weight vs time of cooking in the show)... the amalgamated facts pointed towards a 15-20 min cooking time per kg of fish or 20 min per inch of thickest part of the fish/casing...

1 1/2 hours later the fish was ready... the challenge now was to get the rock hard salt crust off... and that was not possible without some hammer action...
the lovely crusty skin just peeled off, revealing the fragrant, well-oiled, juicy pink flesh... yummo... and it was a party favourite! it was enjoyed with my home made pepper lemon cream sauce

other party faves included home made aussie meat pies... sorry tassie, the cookie cutter didn't include you in the picture...

anzac biscuits in the shape of oz (mainland again, sorry tassie)...


aussie sausage, roast tomato and potato quiche...
a modified idea from "jamie at home" - he did a version with asparagus instead and aussie sausages and tomatoes were substituted to give it an aussie edge...

other faves included slow cooked lamb (also from "jamie at home"), coleslaw, ribs, rice...

to finish the meal, we had aussie fruits, pavlova (thanks jamie at home again), and lamingtons with aussie flags!

by the end of the day... we couldn't even fit in the awaiting timtams and coffees (for some dunking)...

"are they going to chase each other?"

could you spot the 2 pairs of little eyes camouflaged in the veggie patch?


"are they going to chase each other?", remarked our friendly neighbour... hmm that's a good idea... i didn't think of that b4!


on australia day, "tinny" is born.
now tin tin won't feel as bored and has someone to keep him company...
NB- tin tin has grown up and has acquired a rustic brown coat! tinny would follow suit soon...


Thursday, 24 January 2008

my bday cheesecake


to celebrate my b day i made myself a orange no bake cheesecake (since no one was going to wake up at 5am to make me one)... i didn't wake up at 5am to make it either, i did it the night b4... it was so popular that snowflake started polishing it off instead of her own b day cake (still sitting in the fridge)...


and a big tank q to mcduck for the lovely pressies... marcato! yes!


and microplane! yes! yes! yes!! (which i have been eyeing for the whole of last year! just have to find something to cook, an excuse to zest now)

bjork strikes (the note) again!


after the drought of 15 years without hearing bjork live (last in hk 1993)... there was great anticipation for 23th jan! first there was the loss of not being able to get a ticket on its first release (was on the phone and internet for 3 hours)... then came the delight of being able to get
a ticket on its second release... and finally the day came for the show...it was earned not without
prolonged periods of waiting (one hour queue to get in even though a ticket was at hand) and physically demanding seating on the opera house forecourt steps (for 3 1/2 hours)...

and to my relief - all was worth waiting for!!

most of my fave songs got thier airing:


  • desired constellation - what hi tech gadget was that beats-control-board-thingy?! <-- i searched and searched and finally found out it was a new electronic instrument "REACTable" - see it on youtube! v cool!

  • unravel - tears in my eyes...

  • army of me - the start of energy and beats in the concert

  • all time favourite - HYPERBALLAD - wow!!!she invited us to sing along!

  • all time favourite - COVER ME!! - i was speechless with this mesmirising version, involving only bjork and the dud on the synth - was he improvising or what?! totally speechless against the juxtaposition of a clear ice-pick voice and mingling dischords from the synth

  • pluto - more concert explosions!

  • oceania - even though i didn't really warm to this tune in the past, the salsa sounding jazzed up version made one uncontrollably sway one's hips

  • declare independence - "higher, higher!" "higher, higher!" what a finale! and she gave us a little talk as an prelude! much better live than on the CD...heads bopping up and down, fireworks, confetti, sparkles, explosive lighting!!! that really sumed up the vibe for the whole show


    video

    video

** the security was really tight, bag checks and confiscating cameras**

bjork outside the opera house was way better than tori inside the opera house!

bjork, when will you be back again?? better start lining up for tix now...

Sunday, 13 January 2008

happy big three-O to snowflake

although today is not friday the thirteenth (but it was 30 years ago!)... it is sunday the thirteenth and snowflake's (aka lipowhale) big birthday! i set the alarm at 5:05am and eventually got up at 5:20 ish... and why was that? to make a bday cake of course (in the dark)...
2 hours later... i had my chocolate banana cake and i secretly hid it under the wok cover inside my trusty cast iron wok... and i managed to dress it up in secret while snowflake was sitting 3 metres away from me surfing the internet on the sofa...
all was revealed this arvo after we all napped on the couch, nestled in our air conditioned tv room in contrast with the scorching heat outdoors...
the cake was presented with numeral candles - three - O -


but the scream and wide-eye stare was on the present mcduck was holding, not on the 5am-labour-of-love!
and what was she staring at?
the luxuriously wrapped / bagged GHD!
after many "oh my gosh"s & "yes! yes! yes!" later, the questions started to come, "where did you get it? how much did you get it??"
obviously i had to have a bargain... and this included this GHD... the story started 3-4 days ago... and previous to that i already researched and knew the best price could be only sought on ebay for around $260 (including postage and handling)... and since i did not have much time for postage... i contacted a few sellers and see if i could pick up instead of doing a delivery... and i got a bargain at $238 and journeyed all the way to marrickville (hence i also detoured to paensanella)...
and here it is... (thank you ebay seller!)

Thursday, 10 January 2008

bargain hunting in the new year

while i have been whizzing around town today, bargain hunting for lipoW's big b'day pressie (more on that later, more tips here after the b'day), i could not drive pass the ever so tempting cheese factory - paesanella! (end of gerard st, marrickville)... i love cheese! i have been thinking to go for the last 3-6 months, but couldn't make it due to the opening times (sun-fri 6am to 1pm)
today, i just made it with only minutes to spare... last time i went i missed the closing time by an hour... i was rewarded with the most delish cheeses at amazing prices! 500g moz for only just below $5, a tub of 500g bocconcini just under $8! and haloumi too, similar price... 25 bucks later, my hands were filled with several kgs of cheese to enjoy...
the bocconcini was the best i have tasted! ever! so fresh that it must have been pulled this morning...


apart from bargain cheeses, i also scored a bargain $5 waterproof bag for surfing (which i have been hunting for the last year)... i have wasted money on "bluebottles pouches" etc... and i am hopeful that this would better that by far... this item of bargain was found at basic.home, chatswood - which is having their moving sale (they are moving online instead)... there are loads of bargains... everything 40-60%off...






Tuesday, 8 January 2008

what's cooking at cafe LF in 2008?

is fishing really to be frowned upon as it is against the teaching of ahimsa... although i loved fishing as a kid, i haven't been for ages... killing a living thing for the fun of it / or as a hobby is really not on... then came the new year holidays and mcduck and i went up to the hawkesbury river and guess what i did - i went and "murdered" an innocent living fish! (that was my first thought as i drew the fishing line up the last 5 min of our 4 hour fishing expedition - i thought we would be leaving empty handed)... then i witnessed the horrific banging of the fish head by mcduck (as i was too distraught to end the fish life after my failed attempt to loosen the 'suicide' fishing hook... so i asked mcduck to do the dirty work of ending poor fish's life quickly)

it was painful to watch the stiffened body in rigor mortis floating in our plastic bucket... during the entire trip home its stiff body was packed with ice in our esky...



the hook had the name 'suicide hooks' on its packet... and it truly was, as it hooked itself tightly on the fish's throat... the only way i got it out was when i cleaned out the fish's insides in the kitchen...


the only way i knew to honour the fish's sacrifice of its life was to cook him in the best way i knew and eat it with gratitude... so i prepared it for traditional steaming...


i scaled it and carefully cleaned out the gills and insides... and garnished with shreds of ginger, shallots, coriander... and bathed it in a mixture of soy sauce, water and sugar...


the whole family enjoyed our fish - thank you fish for giving us nourishment



lets move away from the sensitive topic of non-vegetarianism and into sweet sweet desserts...

by trial and (little) error, i recently found out an easy way of making the legendary hong kong cafe style mango pudding... i just put the fruit, milk, surgar in the blender and blended with the correct amount of gelatine water mixture (10g gelatine for every 500ml of liquid requiring gelation - this includes the hotwater dissolving the gelatine)



i made a layer of mango pud v easily and then i tried to top it up with a layer of banana pud...


it rested in the fridge for several hours...


then the bilayer banomango pudding was there to be enjoyed... yum! and so easy!


i have also been following jamie O on jamie at home... jamie is so inspirational! (but the gardener on the same show seems abit grim - he should smile more! you r on camera man!)

although i came home late from work, the lingering jamie energy in the kitchen prompted me to make homemade egg yolk pasta (yes! i made it and i still don't own a pasta maker)... and what to do with 4 egg whites? meringue of course (it was also on his last show)


4 egg whites, 200g castor sugar, 150 degrees celcius for 1 hour in the oven - perfect crunch on the outside, chewy within!


but quite fattening as i used an entire tub (that's a whopping 600mL!) of double cream for whipping...

almond bits and mango pieces... yum and done! it's a good party dish... (and so was the home made pasta in tomato and lentil sauce... too bad - none left for photos)