Thursday, July 31, 2008

Passionfruit Lovelies

I came across a recipe for passionfruit cupcakes, and I thought they'd be worth a try. I've always loved passionfruit-flavored/scented stuff, like passionfruit green tea bubble tea, passionfruit shower gel, passionfruit face wash... And then one day at my grandma's house, my uncle offered us some fresh passionfruit to bring home! Bonus: they were grown in the backyard! I never knew passionfruit could be grown here, I always thought they were some kind of exotic fruit that could only grow in temperate climate. Since that day, I've noticed passionfruit for sale at my local supermarket, so seeing as I'm much too lazy to grow my own, this is the next best thing.
My oh-so-pretty passionfruit!All ready to be baked...Hot from the oven!My passionfruit lovelies!

The only problem with this cake is that I used a cream cheese frosting for it, which turned out a bit soft with the addition of the passionfruit pulp. And with our levels of humidity and heat, anything with cream cheese has to be popped into the fridge straightaway. As a result, the cake came out a tad hard after the refrigeration. So maybe the next time I make this, I will use a standard buttercream instead, which saves me from having to plonk them in the fridge.

Passionfruit Cupcakes
75g butter
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
¼ cup passionfruit pulp (2 fruits)
1 cup plus 2 tbsp self-raising flour

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla together until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Stir in passionfruit pulp, and then fold in flour.
4. Fill cupcake papers about ½ full and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gratuitous Foodie Pics - Part 3 KL

KL is one of those places you either love or hate. Luckily for me, I happen to like it there. Just to visit, not to live or anything. I have family there, which I think makes a world of difference. Our trips to KL inevitably involve copious amounts of food and a healthy dose of shopping. I do throw in some running, just so I can fit through the door when I get home.

My last trip to KL was in June for my mom's birthday, and the amount of eating we managed to do in the four days we were there is nothing short of amazing. First up, my aunt picks us up from the bus station and brings us to go eat ban mian, which is a type of handmade noodle. I was kinda skeptical at first, cos I thought the ban mian would be the type that we got back home, in soup, which is kinda boring. To my pleasant surprise, this ban mian comes dry, with loads of minced pork and an egg on top. The key to this dish is the chilli, which you add to your taste. Being the wimp that I am, I added just a teeny amount so as not to burn myself to kingdom come. It was yummy, but really filling - I think I managed to eat about half a bowl before the tummy gave up. Note to self: sharing is caring.
Stupid me forgot to take the before picture. This is after you mix in your chilli. I break out in a sweat just thinking of the spicy chilli. Good for all you fire-lovers out there.

To celebrate my mom's birthday, we headed to Sao Nam, which is an awesome Vietnamese restaurant down in Tengkat Tong Shin, which is within walking distance from Bintang Walk. When you think Vietnamese, you think pho. But Sao Nam is different. They have stuff that I've never seen at any other Vietnamese restaurant, in addition to the regular pho. It's run by Uncle Paul, who always takes very good care of us, cos he's friends with my aunt. I'm not complaining.This is our appetizer platter, with spring rolls, fresh rice rolls, shrimp on sugarcane skewers and some beef which is wrapped in some leaf or other. Delish!This is the Vietnamese pancake, with goodies like chicken and veggies hidden inside.
This is the mangosteen salad, which is something we ALWAYS get. It's really refreshing.This is the lotus root salad, which we also ALWAYS get. I love these 2 salads. Makes me think I'm kinda eating healthy. This is a lamb dish which was one of the specials for the night. I don't usually order lamb, but this was really good, smothered in the sauce. This is duck, which I ended up eating more than anyone else cos I liked it, but no one else seemed keen. This was my mom's fave dish, it's some fish thing, but I wasn't such a fan. Finally, this is okra, or ladies fingers as it's known here, smothered in a tangy, tomato-ey sauce. One of my faves too.

You'd think after all of that we wouldn't have space for anything else. But we did. We also had carrot cake from Secret Recipe, which was pretty good. But it was one of those carrot cakes which had lots of raisins in it. I prefer my carrot cakes to be nut-less and raisin-less.Happy birthday to my momsy!

The next day we decided to have the Malaysian version of wonton noodles, also known as go lo mee. I think the main difference between the ones found at home and the Malaysian one is the sauce, which is dark in the Malaysian version. I enjoy a good bowl of wonton mee, whether it's from home, Malaysia or Honkers. Good stuff.
Look at that fatty char siew! I personally prefer my char siew a little leaner, but I know some people really like the fatty bits in their char siew. Absolutely sinful.

For dinner, we went to Champs, which serves authentic Penang food, as well as ribs and a variety of pub grub. I love Champs. When we went to KL last Christmas I missed out on Champs, but not this time. My favorite! Prawn mee soup. It's what I get each and every time I'm at Champs.
Assam laksa... this is my sis' favorite. I don't quite get this dish though. It's got no protein! Just lots of noodles and cucumber. And it's pretty sour. Nasi lemak with beef rendang - my cousin's pick. Pretty good, but I think I like the one from Madam Kwan's just a little bit better.

Another must-stop for us in KL is Raju's which has the best roti canai I have ever tasted. We love sitting under the trees, and eating with our hands. That's my excuse for not having taken any photos. And don't ask me how to get there, I've been there countless times and I still don't know.
Raju's! I even da pao roti canai to bring home for my boy. They're pretty resilient, and you can keep them in the freezer.

On our final night in KL, we had a wonderful opportunity to have dinner with Chef Cheong Liew, who happens to be my uncle's cousin. How cool is that?! Chef Cheong Liew is one of South Australia's most renowned chefs: he is the chef at The Grange at the Adelaide Hilton, which unfortunately I've never been to, but have heard good stuff about. So yeah, imagine my delight to be invited to Sunday dinner with the great man himself, together with his family! This ain't something that's gonna happen every day. I must admit to being a little awestruck. =P

The restaurant we went to is one of Chef Cheong Liew's favorites in KL. It's called Sek Yuan, and as you can tell, it's one of those old skool restaurants that's been around forever, not those fancy shmancy designer joints that seem to be a dime a dozen these days.Front door to the restaurant. Love 'em curtains!
We started with a traditional cold dish, which has lots of stuff going on, including some sort of gelatinous chicken which is right smack in the center. I love the jelly fish that comes with these cold dishes. Next up: suckling pig! So cruel, but really really yummy. Also very fattening. How grumpy does he look? Can't say I blame him though. Eight treasures chicken, aptly named due to all the good stuff like gingko nuts and whatnot that's stuffed into it. Pork ribs. Simple, yet so tasty. Steamed fish. Yet another staple of most traditional Chinese dinners.Sweet potato leaf, which is often cooked in sambal back home. This one was different, cos it was cooked with a type of fermented beancurd sauce, called hu zhi. My sis loves to eat the hu zhi stuff with porridge. I'm not such a fan, but I really liked these veggies. Finally, we had this vegetarian tang hoon (mung bean vermicelli) dish. There's a story to this dish. Apparently traditionally, when the oldest daughter gets married, the parents will serve this dish, but why I don't know. I think my mom doesn't know why either. In any case, it's really quite tasty.Chef Cheong Liew chatting with Uncle Moon, who's my uncle's brother.That's Chef Cheong Liew in the maroon shirt. My uncle's the one who wandered into the picture on the right.

What a way to end off a really wonderful trip, filled with family, food and of course, shopping. =)

Gratuitous Foodie Pics - Part 2 Melbourne

Picking up where I left off, we drove the Great Ocean Road towards Melbourne, which involves a lot of highway driving that's not very scenic, but we did get to see the 12 Apostles, which is truly amazing. We left Adelaide on a Tuesday, and we made it as far as this little town called Port Fairy before we were about to run out of gas, and the gas station in the town was already closed for the night. So rather than get stuck out on the highway, we thought we'd stop, stay over and start again in the morning. That was the best decision ever. Port Fairy is one of those small little towns where everyone knows each other, and it possesses a quaint charm that you definitely don't get with big ass cities. We totally lucked out, having come across a bar that was still open and whose bartender was nice enough to help us get a room at the hotel next door. I was expecting a teeny tiny motel that's kinda dingy, but what we got was a really spacious apartment-style room which even had its own little patio space! Nice.

The next morning, we had to get some brekky before setting off, and according to the lady at the concierge, she said Rebecca's Cafe had some of the best breakfast in town. And she was right! (Not like I had any basis for comparison, but the breakfast and coffee were pretty damn good.)The first thing that caught my attention was this shelf of sweet treats by the door. No better way to get me through the door than with a big array of desserts!!

I decided to get a scone, while my boy had hash browns with poached eggs and baked beans. Being used to the size of scones back home (i.e. ridiculously small), my boy ordered me 2 scones. And when they came, we almost fainted. The scones turned out to be HUGE. And much as I love a good scone, there was no way I could finish 2 of those things. Eggs, hash brown, baked beans, spinach and pita bread. Makes for a mighty fine breakfast.
Nice picture windows at Rebecca's.

So with brekky in our bellies, we thought we'd explore Port Fairy for a bit before setting off on another mammoth drive. Port Fairy is right by the water, which was really nice. We kinda drove around for a bit, snapped some pics and we were on our way.After dinner mints, anyone? We found these at a candy shop at the next town, I forget the name. We did pick up a tin of Peppermint Peckers for our friends though. Tee hee. We actually wanted to get the Dick on a Stick, but it was made of chocolate and we thought it would melt and go out of shape, which would then defeat the purpose of getting it in the first place.

Fast forward many hours later, we finally got into Melbourne around 7-ish in the evening. After being stuck in the car for the past half a day, the first thought in my head was to go shopping, but seeing as shops closed at like 5, I settled instead for dinner. A phone call to one of our buddies later, we found ourselves at this little Vietnamese diner, which was packed. We scored ourselves a table without too much waiting, and had ourselves some of the best pho in town.Yes, once again I was too ravenous to think of taking photos before eating.

Back in the day when my boy was in uni and I was at LCB in Sydney, we used to make trips to Melbourne whenever we could, time and finances permitting. Shopping in Melbourne is better than in Sydney, and we also discovered a number of eating joints that we found ourselves coming back to again and again. Gordon's on Little Bourke is one such place, although when we went back this time, we were kinda disappointed to find that it'd been renovated, and the grungy charm that was once its signature (along with the swaggering waiter who thought he was the hippest shit) is now sorely missing. We ordered our fave duck risotto, which was yummy, but somehow didn't taste the same. I still enjoyed it nonetheless, along with the pita bread and the trio of dips. But I do miss the old Gordon's. Sniff.Still yummy, but the place just doesn't feel the same. Oh wells.

Another place we hit up every time we're in Melbourne is the King of King's, where the egg chiffon rice is just to die for. Like any good Chinese restaurant, they serve the staple roasted meats, but really the egg chiffon rice is what I come here for. You get is a choice of chicken, char siew or whatever roasted meat you want, served on a bed of steaming rice and topped off with a giant fluffy omelet. What makes the egg chiffon rice special is their secret sauce which they serve alongside the rice, which is just so good. Drool.Lookit that! The amount of self control it took to snap a photo before diving into it... it was quite the effort.

If a good brekky is what you're after, Caffe Panette is a good bet. It's located in South Melbourne, and if you're lucky enough you can get a seat al fresco and enjoy a leisurely breakfast while basking in the warm sunshine. We got pancakes and eggs benedict. They were both goooooood.So my pancakes look a bit burnt... but they had wonderfully crisp edges which I like. Oooh... runny yolk... the best part about eggs benedict.

So after gorging ourselves on that sinful breakfast, we decided to take a walk around the market nearby. You know me and markets... just can't stay away. We came across this little shop that sold doggy treats, so we had to get some for our pooch back home.All natural doggy treats galore! We got some doggy bones for our golden, Latte, and her friends. Yeah this I thought was a little much.

Strangely enough this is the last of the foodie pics that we snapped in Melbourne. I don't even remember where we had our last meal before leaving for the Gold Coast. Oh wells. It was awesome while it lasted. Good times.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gratuitous Foodie Pics - Part 1 Adelaide

I love looking at food porn, in magazines, on blogs, when I do manage to take photos before I devour the whole lot... Earlier this year in April I made a trip to Adelaide/Melbourne/Gold Coast, which was so so good. Of course, we ate our way through the entire journey, which then led to some serious weight gainage. Which was poo. Luckily it was nothing that some good old fashioned road runs couldn't get rid of. =) Anyways... I figure now's a good time as any to post some foodie shots that we pigged out on.

So we touched down in Adelaide at like 8-ish in the morning, and of course the first thing we did was to get some good brekky. No better place to do that than at the East Terrace Continental, which serves up some pretty awesome grub.
Will you just look at that? Makes my tummy rumble just looking at it. Yum yum yummmmm. And believe it or not, parking just outside the restaurant will set you back a whopping 20 cents for three hours. Yeah I know. Insane.

So we did our thing, got some shopping in. We had to hit up one of our fave cafes, Bocelli, which used to be a short 5-minute walk from my boy's old apartment back in his uni days. They make this really super Warm Chicken Salad, which I absolutely love. It's got grilled chicken, lots of fresh salad and grilled veggies, all tossed in a sweet-sour balsamic dressing. It never fails to amaze me how good salad tastes in temperate countries, so much better than the stuff we get back home. So of course we had to have it at least once before we left.
When we were there, this little guy was at the next table. How cute is he?

Anyhoo. On a sidenote, if good coffee is your thing, and you're ever in Adelaide, you have to go to Cibo's. They make really good coffee, not to mention some pretty fantastic desserts and gelato. Plus they have cool uniforms.

We decided to try out The Greedy Goose, which was the restaurant that won in the second (I think) season of My Restaurant Rules, a reality show in Aussie where couples in various Aussie cities start their own restaurants from scratch and at the end of it all, only one restaurant wins and stays open. I just love their logo. We didn't manage to get pictures here, but the food's pretty decent and the service was great, so it's worth a visit if you're ever in the area.

For an extra special treat, my boy brought me to McLaren Vale, where we had lunch at the d'Arenberg d'Arry's Verandah Restaurant. This place is always packed, so you have to get your reservation in before you even think of driving there. The best thing is you get to do a mini wine-tasting while you wait for your table. Sweeeeet.

For starters, my boy decided to give the Pancetta Wrapped Lamb Brain with Cucumber Salad, Orange & Parsley Aioli a try. I wimped out. I really wanted to give them a taste, but I choked. The though of eating brains just kinda makes me woozy, and not in a good way. He said they were really good though. I did try some of the cucumber salad, which was really tasty.
I decided to have the Lobster Medallion with Blue Swimmer Crab Ravioli & Lobster Bisque for my main, and he had the wild boar.
They were both excellent, and I have to say those were some of the hugest raviolis I'd ever seen. For dessert, we had the lemon tart, which was the perfect ending to the meal. Sweet and tart and fresh and not too heavy. I also forgot to take a photo of it. But it was goooood.

On our final day in Adelaide before leaving for Melbourne, we hit up Adelaide's Central Market, aka fresh food haven. It is so refreshing to see all the fresh fruits and produce, fish, meat, cheese, bread... basically everything to send any self-respecting foodie into throes of delight at the Central Market, which isn't something we get back home. But this, this is something I just can't get enough of. I'm in love with this place. I could live here.
Here, we've got various types of olives, sun-dried tomatoes and other goodies. Oodles of fresh fruit and veggies, so vibrant and colorful. Sigh.
Bananas with red condom-y bits - I think this is to signify that they're organic or something. My boy thought this was absolutely hilarious. Mmmm... fresh bread, croissants and bagels. I could never go on the Atkins diet.
Cheese sticks!!!!!!
Sausages, salamis, pepperonis, all sorts of cured meats.

Must stop: Nanna's! This tiny little Chinese bakery makes awesome buns with a range of fillings, from char siew to custard and my personal favorite: hot dog.
My army of buns! I like big buns and I cannot lie. Yeah I just had to. =P

So finally after walking around Central Market and trying to convince/pester/full-on plead my boy that we needed to move back here, I decided to give it up (for now) and head for lunch as we had to start our drive to Melbourne. The Store is another great place to get some good grub, and we had my boy's favorite The Store Salad. And yes, that's my bowl of fatty chips. So greasy and unhealthy, but oh so yummy. You know you love it.

And with that, we hopped into the car and headed for the Great Ocean Road towards Melbourne. More on that in the next post. Toodles!