Tuesday, February 26, 2008

...so there's a right way to eat a macaron?

Apparently there is! Petite bouchees has hit the nail on the head – savour it, don’t scoff it.

...New cake #2

Here is another new cake at Adriano Zumbo. It's made of hazelnut praline mousse, and like Pinky below, it also has sponge cake in it. Topped with a tangled toupee of dark and white chocolate.

Sorry the description is so vague - it didn't last long after I took it out of the box.
PS: Don't know the name either. Very mysterious.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

...It's open

Check out the Turquoise blue bag as you walk in...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

…it’s Pinky Tuscadero!

Rumour has it that three (3!) new cakes are debuting at Adriano Zumbo. Only managed to get my hands on 2 so far. None of them have names yet, though their descriptions are written on a bit of paper that Charlie can read out to you.

So, in the absence of a moniker, I dub this one ‘Pinky Tuscadero’, in honour of the supercool Happy Days girl.

Pinky reminds me of those creamy Chinese cakes from places like Helen’s and St Honore in Chinatown. It has a sponge cake base filled with strawberry mousse that is more tangy than sweet, so it isn’t too rich. I love the curl of choc on top as well. Rock on!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

…Adventures in Auckland

I’ve just returned from a couple of days in Auckland, New Zealand. Frankly, though NZ is supposed to be a haven for the adventurous, I didn’t really do that much because I was there for work and spent most of my time in the office. The hotel I stayed it did have a bungy jump off its tower though.

It only takes 3 hours to get there from Sydney. Not bad except you have to endure the worst airline food. I had the ‘baked pasta’ which was olive green broccoli and cheese pasta. The best part of the meal was the bread roll. I ate it because I had to (we were arriving after 10pm). Why can’t they make up a bento box with some sushi rolls and katsu chicken or something? Not aussie enough, probably, though most people would gobble it up.

Because I was at work all day, I felt I had to take some pictures of the little bit of Auckland on the walk from the hotel to the office. Here it is. Also had lunch at a really nice place, Divan Café, which is in a laneway off Queen St (next to Louis Vuitton). The hotel left some complimentary chocolates because they thought we were return customers (we weren’t!).

Dinner on night 1 was at Merlot Wine Café in O’Connell St. When in NZ, have lamb. Lamb cutlets, which were delicious (no photo because it was too dark).

The 2nd night was at the Sky City Tower revolving restaurant. It sounds touristy, and it is, but the food was excellent, as was the view. Had NZ salmon, then ‘Valrhona guanaja chocolate curd’ cake & passionfruit sorbet to finish. Best meal so far.

On the flight home to Sydney, we got breakfast. It was pretty ordinary. I ate it because I was hungry.
When I got back to work, a kind colleague gave me a cupcake. So nice.

Friday, February 15, 2008

…best ever Cheesecake

If recipes were clothes, then this one would be ‘vintage’. It’s been my favourite cheesecake recipe (since 1989) because it doesn’t have a kilo of cream cheese like a lot of others. I’ve changed it to include light as well as full fat cream cheese, and I use light sour cream as well. There’s no difference to the taste as a result; in fact, I think the texture is finer.
It’s also delicious spread with passionfruit curd before serving.

Serves 6-8

The base:
1 cup Arnotts Scotch Finger or Nice biscuit crumbs (about 9 Nice biscuits – crush in food processor)
6 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar

The filling:
375g cream cheese
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla essence
1 cup light sour cream

To make the base:
Line a 20cm springform cake tin with aluminium foil, leaving an overhang to lift out the cheesecake. Combine all ingredients and press firmly into the base.

To make the filling:
Beat the cream cheese a little until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Stir in sour cream and mix well. Spoon into the crust and bake in the centre of a pre-heated 120 deg C oven for 35 minutes or until the filling is set.
Remove from the oven and cool in the tin on a cake rack.
Serve at room temperature.

Adapted from Vogue Entertaining Oct/Nov 1989. So last century, but so good.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

...I love macarons

Especially macarons from Adriano Zumbo.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

…Mambo Italiano

Bertoni Casalinga is just across the road from Adriano Zumbo, but a world away when it comes to coffee culture and noisy bustle. Bertoni has customers at a big wooden table inside and spilling onto the footpath outside, on milk crates .
The food is also different, with lots of mama’s homemade meatballs, pasta, and a fantastic orzo salad.
Sitting on the counter today were Italian donuts, just like ‘normal’ ones, but double the size and with no hole. Had one split, spread with Nutella and toasted. Results below.

…Caribbean dream

Barbados is another perennial at Zumbo, and I got it again on Saturday because it was getting late and there wasn’t much left in the shop.
What a great surprise it was. I’d forgotten about the creamy, toffee bit (‘caramelised palm sugar mousse’) and the really tasty biscuit base (‘sable breton’). The rest is ‘mango and coconut jelly with pineapple pieces’, and it’s sprinkled with pistachios. Yummo.

First tasted in Sept 2007. Revisited in February 2008

Saturday, February 9, 2008

… on Cloud 9.5

I suppose the name of this cake means that it is 5.5556% better than Cloud Nine. Or is it a version upgrade of Cloud 9.0?
The peaks of meringue are just kissed by a blow torch and the lemon/passionfruit base is nice and tangy.
There is a mango version out at the moment called.… ‘Summer Cloud 9.75’.

First tasted in September 2007.

…it’s a flaming HOT cake!!

This is a surprising effort from Adriano Zumbo because its cool, calm and elegant exterior hides a heart of pure FIRE.
The pipes of chocolate ganache lie between slender chocolate sheets that have salt flakes embedded underneath. This is especially delicious (like a salted caramel effect).
But it’s the touch of Chili in the ganache that really gives you a kick in the teeth and scorches your tongue. Cha cha cha….Sssssss….ouch!!

First tasted in November 2007.

Monday, February 4, 2008

...the recipe where I forgot to add the egg

I usually bake on weekends, when there’s more time, so here’s something I prepared a few weeks ago. These muffins are beautifully moist and healthy-tasting, but in a good way.
They even tasted fine after I forgot to put in the egg! I mean, how do you forget something like that?
The muffin liners are by Donna Hay.

Macadamia and Pineapple Muffins
Makes 12

2 1/4 cups (335g) self-raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup (110g) raw sugar, plus 1 tbs extra
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts (use food processor)
125g unsalted butter, softened
2 tbs honey

1 cup (250ml) buttermilk
440g canned crushed pineapple in natural juice, well-drained
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 190°C (not fan-forced).
2. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.
3. Place flour and sugar in a large bowl with half the macadamias, then set aside.
4. Melt butter with honey in a small saucepan over low heat. When melted, remove from heat and add the buttermilk and pineapple.
5. Stir to combine, then add egg. Make a well in centre of dry ingredients and pour in buttermilk mixture. Fold in to just combine, then pour mixture into muffin pan.
6. Combine remaining nuts with extra tablespoon of raw sugar and sprinkle over the muffins. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and cooked through.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Recipe adapted from delicious. (issue October 2004)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

…not another Scrapbooking magazine

With some trends, I’m a late adopter. But when something piques my interest, then I’m all over it like a rash. Like scrapbooking.

I’ve been into cardmaking for years, but imagine my surprise at discovering the mouthwatering designs that paper and embellishment companies have come up with. Lincraft was my second home for a while. Then I discovered photoshop. Beginners like me can have a field day/week/month trawling the www in search of tips and tricks.

As usual, US sites and magazines seem to have the best ideas and elegant designs. So far, I like creating keepsakes, simple scrapbooks and hero arts. Any others? I’m sure there’ll be another new magazine at the newsagents next week.

This is my first scrapbook page, before realising that digital was the way to go (for me at least)...

Of course it has to be of a cake! Macaron Marie - c'est magnifique!

Friday, February 1, 2008

… what I made

I’ve wanted to do a cupcake decorating class ever since reading about it at lemonpi. So, after booking months in advance, I rolled up last week (together with 9 other ladies) to the Planet Cake course.
The lovely Amanda and Anna Maria showed us the intricacies of cutting icing and creating cute kids’ cupcakes that grownups would have no problem devouring as well. You have to work fast, though, and not just because the icing can harden before you finish with it – if you fall behind, you’ll miss out the details on the next cupcake design to be worked on.

My report card says that I am a bit slow at the decorating (it comes with practice), but I am very proficient at ganaching. Can I live with that? Sure.