Sunday, August 31, 2008

Home Cooking - One Bowl Cocoa Brownies

Yesterday was a full on day due to 2 HUGE events happening on the same day, one after the other. I was up early again and very excited about dance events Shadow Wars III and Looze Control finals so I had a sudden urge to bake some brownies. This recipe is courtesy of Anna from Cookies Madness (such a good blog with heaps and heaps of recipes ^^) so another big thanks to her for this One Bowl Cocoa Brownies which I noticed due to one of her Top 10 lists.

This recipe is exactly as she described it: simple, inexpensive, portable and taste very good but alas my brownies turned out to be a little too dry but that was probably due to me either adding not enough butter/too much flour or baked a bit too long. I still recommend this recipe for anyone who loves brownies though but I would melt some chocolate into it as well instead of just using cocoa powder. Anna also very kindly sent me another recipe which I shall make when I have the time so thanks to her again!

Enough rant here comes the ingredients.
176g butter
1 2/3c granulated sugar
3/4c cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I did not have any so mine did not include)
3 large eggs
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 plain flour
12 walnut halves (optional)

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. I used a smaller pan as I wanted thicker brownies but Anna used a 13 x 9 inch pan.

Melt butter in microwave-safe mixing bowl and whisk in the sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and the eggs. Whisk until mixture is smooth and then add the salt and baking powder and whisk thoroughly. Make sure there are no lumps from the baking powder and that it is distributed throughout the whole mixture.

Stir in the flour (do not beat) and then pour into the pan making sure to spread it as evenly as possible. Arrange the walnuts if you have opted to include them.

Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs. Cool before cutting into 12 or 16 or even 20 pieces depending on how big you want them.

This brownie did make a good start to the day and the dryness is easily solved by serving these with a nice glass of milk ^^!


Now I cannot resist putting up some photos of the International LEGENDS that came to judge Shadow Wars III.

Benny (Republic of South Africa), Pelezino (Brazil) and Physicx (Korea)

Lilou (France), Roxrite (USA) and Hong 10 (Korea)

The battles and judge showcases were awesommmmeeee!!! Wish I could watch them perform live again... absolutely inspirational!!!
Too bad my camera battery died for Looze Control as I had friends showcasing and performing but I was unable to take photos or videos :( and also was unable to take photos of our supper at Mamak. But I am sure we will end up going to Mamak again soon.



Friday, August 29, 2008

Royal Copenhagen Ice Cream - Manly Wharf

After our celebratory dinner at Bavarian Bier Cafe we had the choice of either Max Brenner or Copenhagen for dessert since we did not get any back there. We ended up going to Copenhagen and left Max for another night since going to Max meant getting a hot drink, a cold drink, souffle, waffles, ice cream and pizza :P A simple ice cream seemed like the perfect way to finish off our meaty dinner without us bursting out of our pants.

We went to the one closest to us, naturally, since there are 2 Copenhagen eateries on The Corso at Manly. This one has pretty ice cream wallpaper on one wall with some plastic cows. There used to one humongous brown cow but that disappeared a while back :( We miss moomoo.

The other wall is lined with goodies to put on our ice creams ^^.... I think I like this wall better even though the other one looks tasty too.

Scooping the ice cream yayyy! Quite a few flavours to choose from too.

Hundreds and Thousands (Top) and Cookies and Cream (bottom). The top choice may not have been the wisest since the wall allows dispensation of hundreds and thousands but as this was my first time seeing this flavour in the cabinet I got a bit giddy with excitement and ordered it. The Cookies and Cream on the other hand is always a winner choice. The soft chunks of cookies mixed with the creamy ice cream is a match made in heaven.

Cookies and Cream (Top) and Boysenberry? (Bottom). Taaastttyy no matter the flavour haha.

Fudging up our ice creams with the chocolate and caramel fudges. A good tip is to order the waffle sundae which serves as a mini container where you can pile up as much fudge as possible.

Cool chocolate racing stripes on my ice cream whheeeee. Other flavours I recommend are Royal Copenhagen (butterscotchy), coconut and mint choc chip but all of them are good and worth trying. Mmmmm ice cream in winter is the best ^^!



Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bavarian Bier Cafe - Manly Wharf

When a celebration is in order, one of the best places to go is Bavarian Bier Cafe in my opinion. Great atmosphere, great service, great food and great company spells one big long line of gibberish which stands for an awesome time. Bavarian Bier Cafe had sprouted many locations now due to its increasing popularity of delicious import biers and great accompany meaty foods.

The friendly greeting bear outside the bier cafe :P Last time I came here I saw this bear being violated by a bunch of young hooligans who positioned themselves in provocative positions with the bear and took photos.

The Manly Wharf location is a prime spot for summer time to just chill on the outdoor seating and watch the waves roll but it is also a good spot for winter since we were greeted by a fireplace and a warm cozy environment.

Is that not the perfect sight? Right by the entrance is the pub with a roof made from 1L steins.

The open kitchen keeps me carefree as I can keep an eye and make sure none of the chefs spit into my food hahah I kid I kid the chefs here are very professional and efficient. The food is served very quickly and prepared with care.

mmmmmm soo much choice!

Mango bier. Not my personal choice but it is not too bad as its got a nice sweetness that some people like. I am a Franz (Franziskaner) Dunkel guy and love my 1L steins.... PROST! Weissbier is the great on its' own but it gets even better because here comes thes food.

Let us begin with mine and Pupus favourite dish. The Crackling Roast Prok Belly is always a safe bet. A layer of fat is sandwiched between the tender soft meat below and cripsy and crunchy skin above which makes the perfect combo. The apple compote, sauteed potatoes and red cabbage also compliment the meat so very well. All I can say is this dish has never failed to satisfy or please me.

Lowenschnitzel (aka Giant pork schnitzel). To me this schnitzel is not that big haha but I am a bit of a fatty so it is a fairly decent size. For me this starts of very nice but gets a bit dry after a while. It is a tasty schnitzel but I would prefer Una's schnitzels.

Swiss schnitzel. I have not yet tried this dish but judging from the content faces of my friends who ordered this I can tell its a good choice. The cheese look super tastyy!

Pan fried Chicken Schnitzel. Another good selection to make.. simple yet tasty.

Chargrilled Numberger Sausages. These sausages pack a good flavour and the crispy onions and mash just complete this dish.

Bavarian Tasting Platter. A bit of everything that is good about this place. Got some chicken schnitzel, crackling pork belly, different types of sausages ( I think they are numberger, swiss bratwurst and a cheese kransky?) and some sides. Perfect for first-timers who want to try a bit of everything but I do need to mention that this is not very filling for the bigger eaters especially after some drinking.

Munich Brewers Platter. I was surprised to see this on the menu as I had never seen it before. I guess I have not been to Bavarian Bier Cafe for a while then :S but I was deeply deeply disappointed by this. It just turned out to be the Bavarian Tasting Platter with an extra chargrilled kassler. It was delicious but after the description the waitress told us I was expecting something more like the Schlachtplatte from Lowenbrau Keller (since I have only ordered the Schlachtplatte for 2 I was expecting something pretty big) but alas I was disappointed.

Nevertheless Bavarian Bier Cafe is a perfect place to dine with a group of friends to drink and merry with. Other great selections include their Chicken Caesar Salad, Flammenbrots and of course desserts! But this night we decided to have dessert elsewhere which is soon to be posted. To end off, one word sums it all... PROST!



Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sushi Samurai, Neutral Bay.

One of the many restaurants which line Military Road is Sushi Samurai, with another branch in Pyrmont, the Neutral Bay branch is directly opposite Ju Ge Mu/Shimbashi which was reviewed by FFichiban earlier this month. When making my way to Sushi Samurai, I noticed a large vacated lot next to it, which use to be the location Gourmet Pizza Kitchen - where'd it go? the question arose in my mind, but was quickly forgotten when I entered Sushi Samurai.

My first impression about the dim lit decor contrasted with the lit-up bar counter was one of interest. No sooner it became apparent that the lighting differences as an attempt to veil the scarce seating space. I was under the impression as each table was separated into groups, that when we were seated at a table with a couple's table connected to ours, the waiter would make an attempt to separate the tables to provide a less-intimate connection with your neighbouring table. Unfortunately this wasn't done - so we opted to move to a different table (one of those things which I'm often embarrassed to ask) - which they happily obliged.

Once seated at a significant more comfortable table (not to mention well-lit as it was next to wall light), the busy Sunday night was obviously giving the employees a hard time to juggle between serving customers and dishes. It was obvious that we were not the only table that had to hail a waiter more than once just to get noticed that we were ready to order.

The fruits of a 30 min wait in between mains ('Don't play with your food'...I know)

Chef's Recommended Wagyu Beef Salad ($14.80): a disaster. Although I expected the wagyu to be not top notch, it failed completely. Probably the lowest grade of wagyu is used - close to the texture and taste of a supermarket cut of beef fillet. The salad clearly isn't 'fresh' - the tomato is a dismal un-ripe colour. The lettuce is probably prepackaged as well as the shaved carrots. The freshest ingredient is probably the two dry slices of lime. I'd go as far as to say that this is the worse dish I've expected since the blog started.

Melting - Cream Croquette ($5.80): A last minute addition to our meal as we have a feeling that it isn't going to be enough. The cream is bland and at best can be passes off as cheese - the same disappointing side of salad as seen in the wagyu beef salad makes an appearance as well. The vinegar dip is enjoyable and possibly saves this dish.

Soft Shell Crab: The as advertised 'popular' is heavily dressed with a substantially greater amount of batter than what I normally get. It's a double edged sword - whilst the batter alone has a nice balance of egg and is not too oily; there is more batter than crab. The salad and the vinegar once again make an appearance.

Dragon Roll Sushi: Eel with cheese. The cheese offers a interesting (and very likable) contrast of flavour. I don't quite remember this particular roll having cheese but it's a pleasant and creative infusion nonetheless.

Grilled Salmon Sushi: Hands down the best dish we've selected tonight. The toro adds to the juicy and mixture of smoky flavour to the sushi. I can't help but the squirm with delight as I eat my second piece. I highly recommend our readers to order this as if I come back again - I would definitely get this. Whilst Sushi Samurai barely makes the cut, it is understandable due to the geographical location and the type of market that its trying to attract.

Wagyu Steak with Bean Sprouts: The same poor quality meat is presented once again with a generous serving of bean sprouts. I opted for the ponzu sauce; and was given the vinegar that appeared in previously mentioned dishes. I've also seen this dish ordered by other tables as it's served on a sizzling hot plate - who doesn't drool and appreciate the entertainment of drifting smoke floating through a restaurant?

What to do with left-over wasabi. ("Stop playing with your food")

Spot the Engrish.

Sushi Samurai
Shop 3, 197 Military Road, Neutral Bay
(opposite Ju Ge Mu, next to Birkenstock)
Ph: 99534059
Lunch: 11am-3pm (last order)

Dinner: 5.30-10pm (last order)


Monday, August 25, 2008

Home Cooking - Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Crunch Bars

Lazy Sundays are the best kind of Sundays in my opinion. Wake up late and just soak in the precious few rays of sunlight before playing around in the kitchen ^^! Pupu wanted to come over and make something together so I spent a while browsing and deciding on what to make and as usual I settled for a dessert item. This time the recipe is thanks to Anna at Cookie Madness. I ended choosing yet another recipe with both chocolate and PB hee hee I guess I am a sucker for the combination of silky smooth chocolate and crunchy peanut butter. The Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Crunch Bars have a bit of everything if made properly. They a crispy and crunchy base, a smooth peanut butter middle layer and topped with a creamy chocolate peanut butter mixture. In other words they are bars of delightful pleasure.

My CPBFCB (thank goodness for abbreviations) were not as prettily layered as Annas' and I did some minor adjustments as well but they still tasted great with a rich peanuty and chocolate flavour. The instructions may be a bit long but it is actually a fairly simple and easy recipe to follow so Here comes the ingredients.

125g semi-sweet chocolate
100g + 1/2 tbsp butter
1.5 cups Rice Krispy cereal (I used Coco Pops because me = chocoholic)
200g PB
pinch of salt
3/4 to 1.5 cups powdered sugar (Anna mentioned only using half of this so I only ended up using 2/3 c)

I lined a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with baking paper or non-stick foil or if using regular foil spray with cooking oil.

In a medium saucepan melt the 1/2 tbsp of butter and half of the chocolate. Then stir in half of the peanut butter and when well mixed, add in 1 cup of the rice krispy/coco pops. Then spread on the bottom of the pan to form the base and chill for 15 minutes or until it is firm.

Clean out the saucepan and then melt the butter over medium heat and add the pinch of salt. Melt in the rest of the peanut butter and stir until it becomes of smooth consistency. Now add the powdered sugar to taste but keep in mind not to add in too much. Poor just less than half of this liquid mixture over the base and pour remaining rice krispies/coco pops onto the middle layer. Gently press them into this layer. Chill again at this point to form distinct layers or else it will end up into one big layer like mine.

Melt the remaining half of the chocolate either separately in a microwave-safe bowl or just put it into the peanut butter mixture and warm on low-medium heat. Finally pour the peanut butter and chocolate mixture on top to form the last layer. Now you can add some more rice krispies/coco pops like I have or just leave it as is.

Chill until it is set and cut into however many pieces you want.

While Pupu and I were waiting for it to chill we watched a movie called "Feast of Love". It was pretty interesting with romance, drama and slice of life. It shows that love is so fragile and that we should cherish all our relationships sooo to all you readers out there I love you alll!! But, this is after all a food blog and not a movie blog so back to these CPBFCB.

I did think they are a little bit too rich but if they were kept to smaller portions then they are fine or you can try my method of choice for eating these which is to heat up some milk in the microwave and then melt in half of the bar and munch merrily on the other half :D
Have a go and try making these as they are surprisingly easy and most of all have fun and enjoy^^!



Sunday, August 24, 2008

Home Cooking - Potato, Pumpkin and ...Prumble?

What we made for dinner was not really a prumble but alliterating is fun. 'Twas a cool Saturday night and my father just arrived back from overseas so we decided to stay home and relax for dinner. We had some really nicely marbled wagyu steaks from Peters Deli at Chatswood Chase that were calling out to for to cook them. We had some pumpkins lying around so a soup was in order and we had bought some potatoes for mashing earlier that day.

For our mash we add in a tub of philly sour cream, some butter and then season to taste. Mash is so light and fluffy I could eat it all the time mmmm especially when there are some fixings like cheese, bacon pieces etc to put on them ^^.

We used a combination of a butternut pumpkin and a Jap pumpkin to create the ultimate hybrid in pumpkin soup. The pumpkin soup was pretty thick but since we didn't have any cream so we had to add milk instead which thinned it a little. I still thought it was pretty tasty but next time I shall be trying NQN's recipe as it sounds tasty too.

Now for dessert ^^ whhheee! This recipe was from the blog that started it all. The first food blog that I came across by chance and hooked me into food so a big thanks for Helen at GYF for sharing this recipe for Apple, rhubarb and ginger crumble.

My crumbles always end up more like cobblers because the crumble is never really crumbly. My crumble did not have the ginger component which would added a nice touch especially during winter time but I did not have any powdered ginger :( I also squeeze some lemon juice over the fruits along with the brown sugar and cinnamon.

It was still a delicious dessert with the sweetness of the rhubarb and the slight sourness of the apples. The crumble has always been my favourite part and I think it will always be haha so as I bake more crumbles the ratio may shift to a higher crumble percentage :D



Saturday, August 23, 2008

de_Pho - Chatswood, Sydney

Going to Chatswood on a Saturday for lunch is already not a very clever idea due to the ludicrous amount of people all trying to squeeze into the commercial area. After spending twice as much time on the road as necessary we were very lucky to quickly find some parking in Chatswood Chase. Tossing between some food places we finally settled on Vietnamese which meant going to de_Pho in Lemon Grove. As soon as we entered the building the heard the hustle and bustle of a packed restaurant and a line of waiting customers as expected.

de_Pho has been a popular place to dine for a while now and for good reason too. The food is tasty, healthy and cheap. I must admit that it is not as tasty or cheap as the Vietnamese food you can get out west like at Flemington or Cabramatta but for a place like this to exist in the North Shore is a gift to us.

Rainbow Drink. Whoever invented this drink is a genius! The mixture of colours, textures and flavours turn this drink into an absolute delight that cools you down in summer but still irresistible in winter-time. It is a combination of mung bean, red bean, green jelly, coconut milk and ice.

Pho is the traditional rice-noodle soup dish of Veitnam. The broth is the vital part of this dish and the quality of the broth determines whether this is a good or bad pho. I think the one at de_Pho has good flavour to it and the beef and garnishes (coriander, basil and bean sprouts) are very fresh which add to the flavour.

Spring roll Vermicelli
The pho maybe be tasty but wait till to you try their vermicelli with spring rolls. There is a range of different topping for the vermicelli dishes and they are all good selections but I personally go for the spring rolls or the 3-flavoured vermicelli (pork chop, shredded pork and egg). For the vermicelli, a small bowl of fish sauce is also given and this is usually poured all over the noodle and then mixed.

When de_Pho first started becoming popular, their vermicelli started off with generous servings of veges and garnishes but sadly as time went on they have sneaked in more noodle and less veges/garnishes but it is still very tasty! A extra nice touch is the fried garlic which adds a nice crunch to the dish.

Crispy skin Chicken
I am not sure if this is a traditional Vietnamese dish as I did not see any at the restaurants when I went to Vietnam for a few days but this is another highlight of the meal. The crispy exterior and the tender interior is just a magical combination.

This place is a must try for all North-Shoreans who have not ventured into the west in search of Vietnamese food.

Shop 21 Lemon Grove Shopping Centre
427-441 Victoria Ave, Chatswood

Mon - Fri 1030am - 600pm
Thurs 1030am - 800pm
Sat 1030am - 400pm

Ph: 9904 8870