Tickled pink

Today is Jenny’s birthday – baker extraordinaire and a close friend of mine since primary school. For a few years now, she has made some visually stunning and taste bud-tantalising birthday cakes for our circle of girlfriends, as well as a number of other cakes for various other people and occasions. The time, effort, imagination and love she puts into each and every single one of those cakes is truly astounding and I hope she knows how much we appreciate her thought, generosity and talent.

Last night, we celebrated her birthday in stylish settings by the beach, where she unveiled her creation for her own birthday: chocolate cake with wonderfully pink raspberry buttercream icing.

Enjoy.

Photo: Tao Lin

Photo: Tao Lin

Photo: Tao Lin

Photo: Tao Lin

Photo: Tao Lin

Photo: Tao Lin

Photo: Tao Lin

Photo: Tao Lin

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Three memorable food experiences

This isn’t strictly about food but I’m pretty happy about this little bit of news.

At some point in the second semester my magazine journalism lecturer asked our class to do an exercise in colour writing. I think maybe three out of 14 or so chose to do it. Our reward? Getting published in Sunday magazine, which is part and parcel of one of our Sunday newspapers, the Sunday Star Times. This is the first time I’ve been published in something as nationwide as this so I’m fairly stoked!

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Photo: Tao Lin

It’s probably a bit difficult to read from the picture but I’ll type it all out if anyone is really, super keen to read it 🙂

Another MKR “inspirated” experiment

Call me slow but yesterday I realised aioli, that creamy white-ish dipping sauce you always see accompanying chips at a bar, is essentially just mayonnaise plus garlic. I have never been a huge fan of aioli, despite everybody around me seeming to love it, and after making it yesterday I’m no more or less of a fan, although I now have a greater appreciation of what it is.

Along with my cordon bleu and spaghetti frutti di mare from last night, I made a prawn and squid salad, which was noticeably devoid of any greens apart from avocado. The inspiration for this came from our ever-copious amounts of frozen prawns and this recipe from the last season of My Kitchen Rules (eagerly awaiting for the next season here, by the way). The team that made this received rave reviews from the two judges and it looked pretty darn tasty too.

Luke and Scott's zesty prawn salad from season 4 of MKR. Photo: Yahoo!7

Luke and Scott’s zesty prawn salad from season 4 of MKR. Photo: Yahoo!7

I did a couple of things differently: I didn’t have any chillis or peanuts, I omitted the salad greens and grapefuit, I used lemons instead of lime and I added squid. I also didn’t put as much love and attention into presentation as these guys did, hence the lack of my own photo and cheating use of one taken from the website.

For the aioli, I actually used 2 egg yolks instead of 3 (not enough eggs in the house!) and it did end up a bit runny. To remedy that, I added in mustard powder, which worked to a certain point but this was enough to get it to a consistency that I was happy with. In turn though, it did make the aioli taste something more like honey mustard but it still tasted pretty good.

Overall, it was well-received and there were quite a few mussels left over from the spaghetti so we dipped those in the aioli. Tasted great!

Note: For those who don’t know, the “inspirated” reference refers to one of the contestants on MKR, Jenna, who said a number of “inspirating” things, including: “I’m feeling really inspirated” and “I find that inspirating”. Here’s a blog post for your entertainment.

Righting past wrongs

When I was in high school, I was inspired to make cordon bleu. Escaped filling, pink chicken, an epic fail.

I never ventured near the thing again until yesterday, after deciding my deadly cordon bleu trial of past was probably long enough ago for me to safely try it again.

It’s not hard to find a cordon bleu recipe online but after yesterday’s success, it’s become one of the few things I’ve made so far that I am confident enough to replicate without searching up a recipe. The one that I did end up following came from allrecipes.com: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-cordon-bleu-i/

Instead of using bread crumbs though, I adopted my little alternative from when I made crispy oven baked chicken wings and used crushed cornflakes instead. I had some egg white left over from a chilli lime aioli I was making (which turned out more like a honey mustard mayo, but more on that in a later post), and so after I had rolled up everything in the chicken and skewered it together, I rolled the meaty package in some flour, then in the egg whites and then in the cornflakes.

I also used mozzarella instead of Swiss, only because I had mozzarella already and didn’t want to waste it. Instead of ham, I used bacon.

To accompany the chicken, I also roasted some potatoes and my favourite type of sausage, chorizo. I did intend on making a gravy with some chicken stock but I ran out of time and thought it would be fine without a sauce, which it was.

It was sometime before placing the chicken in the oven that I realised a huge mistake I had made in my first cordon bleu attempt: I had tried to cook it on the frying pan. How embarrassing!

At the same time, I was making a spaghetti frutti di mare for my parents, which also turned out amazing thanks to a fantastic recipe. I did take some photos but none turned out good enough to post up, however DO check out the recipe and try it out – you will not regret it if you’re a seafood lover. Just a quick note: I didn’t use clam or fish stock as the recipe called for. I had some chicken stock already so I just used that (cue heavy intake of breath from food snobs everywhere). I didn’t have actual clams either – the seafood I used were mussels, squid and prawns. It was really, incredibly easy to make as well; definitely another keeper, hurray!

Crispy cordon bleu with roasted potatoes and chorizo. Photo: Tao Lin

Crispy cordon bleu with roasted potatoes and chorizo. Photo: Tao Lin

 

 

Ribs…again!

Since I’ve already done two posts on ribs, I thought I’d just post up the links to the recipes I used for my latest experiment: spicy oven-baked pork ribs.

For the dry rub: http://billbrady.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/fathers-day-favorite-barbecued-pork-ribs/

Note: I would normally try to get this dry rub onto the ribs the night before, although I marinated the ribs this time for about 2 hours before I started cooking – tasted great!

Also, those a bit wary of spice but who still want that “kick” should maybe halve the amount of chili and cayenne, or omit one of those from the mix.

For the sauce: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Sticky-Spicy-Ribs-234660

I set the ribs on top of a water bath (oven tray + tin toil + water + oven rack + ribs) and then wrapped the entire tray in tin foil. That goes very carefully into the oven at 200 (celcius) for about 2 hours. After that, take off the tin foil on the outside and baste the ribs in the sauce. I basted each side twice over an hour.

For some reason I get such intense cravings for ribs so this will definitely not be my last post on ribs!