Saturday, February 28, 2009

Red Roll Rocks!

I work in the city, but I do not consider myself an office drone. I want to save money (who doesn’t, in the current economic times?), but I never bring lunch from home. So, after seeing FFichiban’s newsflash that Hong Ha bakery had opened a branch in the CBD (known as Red Roll), I made it my mission to seek it out. Part of the reason was the reported great value; the main reason was Pork Rolls!

And the hype was right! The rolls at Hong Ha/Red Roll are fresh baked crusty bread (hence the need to eat over a garbage bin, lest the cleaners complaining of crumbs around your chair). The meat is lusciously soft and moist. The carrots are lightly pickled. It’s smothered in a special creamy sauce. And they make them to order.

I got two on Friday – a meatball with chilli for bf, and a pork roll for me. Bf said it was the best meatball roll he’d ever had. Considering he usually goes for Subway, it’s probably not a brilliant recommendation, but I’ll take his word for it.

My rather large pork roll drew envious stares and comments from my colleagues when I ate it at my desk. And at $6.50 per roll, it’s worth it. They also sell rice paper rolls which I’ll try next time, maybe with a chicken roll?

Red Roll is in the Wintergarden food court, 1 O’Connell St, Sydney.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hijacked Teacakes

I just love whipping up good teacake for afternoon tea, mainly because they are so easy to make, and it never fails to impress guests when you serve it up, still warm from the oven.

I found this recipe at the wonderful
Tartelette. I also took the precaution of baking the teacakes in paper cases, as my little cakes are notorious for always sticking to the pan, no matter how careful I am with the greasing.

Apricot Teacakes

Makes about 18


1/3 cup (67g) sugar
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons (56.5g) butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup (58g) sour cream
1/2 cup (62.5g) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (125g) dried apricot halves, diced


Preheat the oven to 350 deg F (185 deg C).
Whisk together the eggs and sugar until pale and thick, about 2-3 minutes.
Add the butter and sour cream and combine well.
Add the flour, dried apricots and mix until incorporated.
Divide mixture between mini muffin tins coated with cooking spray and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool on wire racks.

Ingredients; mix eggs with sugar; throw in the flour and apricots

Spoon mixture into mini muffin tins; waiting to be eaten

As always, serve with a cup of ... Tea!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What a Tart!

A common problem I have is when I buy cherry tomatoes and haloumi for something, but don't finish them off, so I have leftovers sitting in a plastic container in the fridge. From prior experience, if I don't use them within 1 day, they will sit there for all eternity (or at least a month before their green, mouldy remains are chucked out).

I had such a dilemma recently, so a quick search of the Taste recipes website uncovered this solution, a Haloumi and Tomato Tart. I had to go out and get some puff pastry, though, so the rest of that is now in the freezer for all eternity.

Basically, this tart is just a sheet of puff pastry (25cm x 25cm) cut into quarters. Then spread some pesto on it, leaving a thin border. I used some rocket/cashew/parmesan chunky spread. Then place a couple of sliced cherry tomatoes on top, together with a slice or two of haloumi cheese.

Bake in a 180 deg C oven until cheese is slightly browned and pastry is golden, about 15 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil to serve.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A giant Black Forest macaron

What is wrong with this picture? It certainly looks like Zumbo’s Cherry Cherry, but it’s brown!

Maybe he just ran out of cherry macarons?! It tastes the same as Cherry Cherry, except for a slight cocoa flavour. So, in my opinion, it’s more like Black Forest...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hello Cookie: Peanut Butter Blossoms

Here are the first (of many, I hope) cookies from my Hello Cookie Project. These Peanut Butter Blossoms started out life as peanut crinkle cookies. The addition of a chocolate button transforms them into an altogether richer, more adorable cookie!

Peanut Butter Blossoms are also known as Sombreros or Black Eyed Susans, and were first created in the US in the 1930s, in the Hershey’s test kitchen. Traditionally, peanut butter blossoms have a Hershey’s Kiss embedded in the top, but I don’t particularly like Kisses (something about the type of chocolate they are made of). I suppose you could use an Italian Baci chocolate instead, but I used Nestle dark chocolate bits, which ‘hold their shape when baked’, according to the packet. I will admit, though, that the larger size of a Hershey’s Kiss will give this cookie a very cute look.

The following recipe is adapted from my new favourite book, A Field Guide to Cookies, by Anita Chu. There will be a lot more where this comes from! I’ve altered the recipe to include metric measurements (in brackets).

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Makes about 48


½ cup (125g) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
1 cup (250g) smooth peanut butter (do not use natural peanut butter, which can separate)

1 ¼ cups all purpose (plain) flour
1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
½ tsp salt

About 48 Hershey’s Kisses or other chocolate bits


Line three baking sheets with baking paper and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the egg, vanilla extract and milk and beat until well combined.
Add the peanut butter and beat until well combined.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into the peanut butter mixture and beat with electric mixer until incorporated. If the weather is warm, you may want to chill the mixture in the refrigerator until it is a bit firmer before rolling into balls.

Preheat oven to 375 deg F (190 deg C)

Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls with your hands and place balls on prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches (5cm) apart.

Bake for 10 minutes. Then remove from oven and press a chocolate Kiss into the centre of each cookie (press in until partially submerged).
Return cookies to the oven and bake for 1 minute.

Remove cookies and cool on trays for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Ingredients; mixing it all together; mmm, peanut butter!

Roll the dough into balls; waiting choc bits; being pressed into baked cookies

These cookies are fantastic when eaten with a glass of cold milk.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Of red roses and macarons - and Valentines

So what do you have planned for Valentine's Day? Champagne, a romantic candlelit dinner, a walk along the beach? Whatever it is, hope it's a good one.

My day began beautifully when I picked up these heart-shaped macarons from Adriano Zumbo (the heart box is my own). We will have them tonight, after our Valentine barbeque.

And this amazing heart cake was in the Zumbo shop today - wonder which lucky person will be having this for dessert?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Summer days are here (and gone) again

Here in Sydney, we’ve been experiencing typical summer weather – hot, sunny days with high humidity. In recent years, though, it never seems as warm as when you were younger, when you sat in a sweltering school classroom, legs sticking to the plastic seats, praying for the temperature to reach 38 deg C (that’s 100 deg F!) so that you could go home. Ah, those were the days.

So, on those hot days, the last thing I want to do when I get home is cook dinner. And the second last thing I want is have Thai takeaway, AGAIN. This salad is a good compromise – the chicken does not take long to cook, it can be eaten cold, and it makes use of summer goodies such as mango and pomegranate. Best of all, it looks tropical and summery – fantastic.

And yes, I know that today we are down to 21 degrees and it’s raining!

Colourful and summery chicken and mango salad

Ingredients (serves 2)

4-6 chicken tenderloins
1 ripe mango, peeled, diced
1 avocado, sliced
1/3 cup roasted salted macadamia and/or cashew nuts
2 large handfuls of mixed lettuce leaves, washed and dried
1 pomegranate, seeds only

2 tbsp whole-egg mayonnaise
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 tsp honey
½ lime, juiced


1. To make dressing: Combine mayonnaise, yoghurt, honey, lime juice and pepper in a bowl and whisk until smooth.
2. Spray the chicken pieces lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add chicken and cook for 3 minutes each side or until just cooked through. Remove from heat and cut into 3cm pieces. Place into a large bowl.
3. Add mango, avocado and macadamia nuts to chicken. Pour over half the dressing and toss gently to combine.
4. Arrange lettuce leaves in bowls. Spoon chicken mixture over lettuce. Scatter with pomegranate seeds and serve with remaining dressing.

Monday, February 9, 2009

They should issue infrared glasses...

Okay, I'm a little late with pictures of the Sydney Chinese New Year parade, as it took place at least a week ago. But I wasn't sure if I wanted to show my blurry, dark photos. You see, from our vantage point (in front of World Square), the whole parade was dark and blurry.

The parade was billed as 'twilight', which meant it had limpid teenage vampires (not really). But it did showcase the lit up costumes and floats. Though I didn't realise that the weedy sea dragon (1st pic in 2nd row, above) was part of the Chinese zodiac...

Click on the montage above to see the pics more clearly - or should that be 'more blurry'...?

And if you're interested in food (as this site sometimes purports to be about food), we had a quick bite beforehand at Super Meal Chinese Restaurant in Goulburn St. Dishes are below ($14 and $13 approx.), and they were yummy.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Another pre-Valentines revisit

Here is another oldie from Adriano Zumbo in time for Valentine's Day:
The Fleur d'Fraise from Zumbo first appeared in late 2007 (before this blog started). It consists of pistachio dacquoise, creme coconut patisserie and fresh strawberries. The only different between this version and the one from 2007 is the price (was $6.40, now $7.60). And it's worth every luscious, crumbly, creamy cent!

Strangely, I don't remember much of the old one except for the pictures I took back then. It looks exactly the same, though, as these new photos attest. A few more oldies (ie. cakes) were in the shop this weekend. Remember, if you visit them, they will come.

Friday, February 6, 2009

London phone boxes rule

Why have I posted this? Well, I have a thing for the lovely red English telephone boxes. There's something about their bright, glossy rectangular-ness that is so ... British!

I put this postcard together because a colleague from our London office sent pictures of this week's snowfall, including a snowy phone box. It almost matches the one I took (in summer) on Victoria Embankment.

PS: There are also black phone boxes that are also lovely and very elegant.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Several blasts from the past (and a plea, please!)

Run, don’t walk, to Adriano Zumbo Patissier.
Why? Well, for a limited time, some old favourites are making an appearance for Valentine’s Day. They include:

Wheelie good
Vanilla millefeuille
Miss marple
Cherry cherry
Dulce de leche éclair

Here is a quick montage in case you missed them the first time. Charming Charles (from the shop) advises that they are available until February 15. And the dates are when they first appeared (approx.)

PS: The Houdini is not actually available at present; but it could be if one can be naggy enough. So, if you visit the shop, please put in a good word for it on my behalf.