Monday 30 August 2010

Chocolate Malteaser cookies and cookie camps

I think I am obsessed with malt. I love malteasers, malted milk drinks, Malteaser cupcakes, and malted milkshakes.  I just love the flavour.

I think it's because the taste of malt reminds me of having hot Horlicks before bed as a kid.  It's a comfort taste and always brings a smile to my face.   Don't you just love how food can conjure up delicious memories?

This recipe for Chocolate Malteaser Cookies is another gem from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours.

It's a malt lover's dream cookie.  Really malty with big chunks of chocolate coated malt balls, it's not so sweet, wonderfully cakey and very very difficult to exercise any self control around.

Saturday 28 August 2010

Creamy pumpkin, thyme and feta bake: a cure for winter blues

After many months of dark dreary weather, many will be suffering from the common affliction known as the winter blues.

It is almost as if the lack of sunshine, the monotony of cloudy dim skies and the constant rain can actually drain your energy, make you grumpy and tired and bring out your inner Eeyore.

If that sounds like you, then I would prescribe this Creamy pumpkin, thyme and feta bake.

Not that this dish is exactly health food.  Oh no, with the lashings of cream and feta, this is definitely an indulgent kind of dish, but its luscious creaminess and bright orange nuggets of pumpkin can brighten even the darkest of winter nights.  So not health food; but most definitely soul food.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Rhubarb, earl grey and vanilla rose cakes for Baking for Hospice

Round 11 of Baking for Hospice was the weekend before last and the theme for this round was: Winter Wonderland.

Now I had the best of intentions to bake to theme but I also really wanted to use my brand spanking new rose pan - how to combine the two? 

Roses, as I found out, do not flower in winter.  Crap.  Looked like my the winterness was going to have to come from else where.

That's where I hit upon the idea of using rhubarb since I always associate rhubarb with winter and crumbles and puddings and rhubarb rose cakes would be oh so pretty.

However, a quick google search told me that rhubarb is in fact not actually in season in winter....go figure.

But now I had my heart set on baking with rhubarb and if rhubarb is not all that wintry, then how bout using earl grey too? A cup of tea indoors on a blustery day is sort of winter themed right??

Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it because for the Winter Wonderland round I made Rhubarb, Earl Grey and Vanilla Rose Cakes.

Thursday 19 August 2010

Canton Cafe, Kingsland, Auckland

Canton Cafe in Kingsland serves my most favouritest seafood dish in the entire world: Steamed Garlic Prawns.  Big call, I know.

I dream about this dish.  I would marry this dish (sorry C).

The dish, however, is definitely not for the faint hearted....see piles of yellow bitty bits smothering the prawns?  That my friends is garlic, glorious glorious garlic.   You probably shouldn't order this on your first date, if you're a vampire, or if you plan to speak to anyone for the rest of the night.  But if you're like me and have an almost Gallic obsession with garlic, you just won't care. One can never have too much garlic I say.

Voted in the Top 50 Asian Restaurants in 2008 and Best Chinese Restaurant 2003 & 2005 by Metro Magazine, Canton Cafe is an institution on the Auckland culinary scene.

To be honest though, I've sat on this review for ages now.  We have about 4 or 5 Chinese restaurants on our favourite list and Canton Cafe is one of them. We've been coming to this restaurant for many many years.  My parents know the owners and the manager (having said that, the Hong Kong community in Auckland is rather small and Mum seems to know pretty much every Chinese restaurant owner in the city). We go there for birthdays, special occasions and even when we just don't feel like cooking.  We went there a couple of weeks ago to celebrate my Mum being cancer free for 3 years.

So how could I review this restaurant objectively? Maybe I'd be overly critical since we go there all the time or maybe I wouldn't even notice the flaws since it's pretty much our "local".

Well, I've decided I'm just going to tell you what I thought and then you can go try it for yourself and see if you agree.  I will also try and lay out what to expect from your Canton Cafe experience.  Sound like a plan, Stan?

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Super quick eggs bene for lazy Saturdays in

After a hectic week at work, getting to Saturday morning is like getting to the light at the end of the tunnel.

You sleep in, you make your coffee, you ponder terribly difficult dilemmas like what shall I have for breakfast?

More often than not what you really feel like is a big cooked brekkie, like you'd get at your fav cafe, but at the same time you would really just like to lounge around in your PJs, uggs and bad hair and vegetate. 

What to do?

Never fear, there's a way to have the best of both worlds with these super quick eggs bene for lazy Saturdays in.  You can have your cafe style breakfast without having to leave the comfort of your own home AND it's much easier on the old purse than brunching out.

Sunday 15 August 2010

Raspberry chocolate truffles

A raspberry twist on Tartelette's beautiful truffles

Did you ever make mud pies as a kid?

You know, sit in your backyard making patties of mud to serve at your teddy bears' picnic?

Do you remember that delightful squelching in between your fingers?  The wonderful feeling of being a mess of mud covering your clothes and face and in your hair?

I'd forgotten how much fun that was until I made truffles for the first time.  Who would have known that making such an elegant dessert was the grown up equivalent of making mud pies!

Wednesday 11 August 2010

Hoddeok: my almost authentic Korean pancakes

On the corner of Wellesly and Lorne in Auckland's CBD,  tucked under the "pagoda" building is a little shop, a stall really, selling Korean pancakes.  The queue there is always snaking along the footpath around the corner.  A queue which balloons into a crowd around lunchtime.  I've walked past this stall for years, but for some reason never tried it out.  Until the other day, while running an errand for the boss, I thought why not have Korean pancakes for lunch?

Sunday 8 August 2010

Pay it forward dumplings

My blog is called 'baking = love', but it could easily have been 'food = love'.  Whenever a friend or loved one is unwell or going through a tough time, I can't help but want to make something to take over to them.  Usually I bake something sweet but I also like making dumplings to send as part of the care package.

Why dumplings?  Well, everyone likes dumplings, right?  Not only are they delicious and nutritious, they're a meal in one, with carb, veges and meat all in one little package.  They're also something just a little bit special. Something you wouldn't normally get to eat at home.

Practical reasons aside, these dumplings also have a special meaning for me.  

The recipe was taught to me by an auntie* who came and helped us out when Dad passed away.  When all the visitors had gone and friends and relos went back to their normal lives, we were still shell shocked and left trying to work out how to deal with life without Dad.  Auntie came in, helped us tidy and sort out our house, cooked us dinner and taught me some of her signature dishes.  She taught me how to make dumplings to keep in the freezer so that when I got home late from uni I could have dinner on the table in a jiffy.  She was our guardian angel during that time.  There's no way I could ever repay her for her kindness and thoughtfulness. So instead, I am paying it forward, with dumplings.

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Green-Eyed Gadget Monster: Silhouette SD digital cutter

Now at first glance this high tech looking gadget might not leap out to you as a kitchen tool but wait till you see what Cupcake Project made with it:

Now you're paying attention, aren't you?

Monday 2 August 2010

Give us this day our daily cinnamon buns

It all started with the brioche. And now I'm hooked on baking bread.  I don't know how I lived before.
There is something truly satisfying about that moment when you lift up the tea towel to see that your little ball of dough has miraculously transformed into a softly swelling mound.  I love getting my hands in there, feeling it sigh as you punch it down and then pulling and rolling it until it's soft and squidgy and silky.  And then there's the smell as it's baking. Bliss.

My fiance raved about the cinnamon scrolls I made a couple of posts ago and I was keen to see if I couldn't improve on it with a yeasted version.  I mean as much as I love scones, seriously, who can resist fluffy bready cinnamony buns?  So the very next week after attempting my first yeasted recipe, I decided to try Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls recipe.  And boy oh boy am I glad I did.

Sunday 1 August 2010

Let them eat brioche, manatee brioche

Manatee brioche: ugly but tasty

On hearing that peasants in her empire didn't even have bread to eat, legend has it that Marie Antoinette responded:
"Qu'ils mangent de la brioche!"
This is usually translated to "let them eat cake!" but what Mademoiselle Antoinette was actually referring to was the decadent sweet buttery rich bread brioche.

Ooo la la, brioche! Amazing on its own, heated with a little bit of jam or dunked in egg and fried as pain perdue (aka the ultimate french toast) brioche is a wonder of baking - rich from lashings of butter and egg yolks but also feathery light from multiple risings.  The french really know how to make their pastries, non?

Now before I go any further, I have a confession to make.  I might bake a lot.  I might even have the word baking in the title of my blog, but until this brioche I had never baked with yeast before.  There it is - my dirty little secret.  Quelle horreur!


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