Tuesday, April 23, 2013


It is time to pick up the mixer and turn on the heat in the oven.
It is time to start baking again otherwise this blog won't be a food blog too.
There is no better time to start than the weekend to bake for Sarah's birthday.
No doubt that we had already celebrated with a pre-dinner ourselves last week,  she still deserved a birthday cake.  And I did baked not one but two.

She had commented that I have not baked any carrot cake for a very long time and since I  got a bag of carrots from Tesco (only RM4.50- very cheap), decided to bake her a CHOCOLATE ORANGE CARROT CAKE.
I choose the recipe from the Flavours Magazine- August 2012.
Of course, I reduced the sugar to 250 gm and I think that just 1 teaspoon of baking soda will suffice instead of 2 as I found that the cake has a rather strong baking soda smell which overpower the flavour of the  orange zest otherwise the texture of the cake is soft and moist though.  

I made a Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting instead and added the caramelized almonds for the top. 

The second cake was CHOCOLATE TIRAMISU  CAKE- recipe from BBC GoodFood Magazine  September 2012.
Again I have reduced the sugar to 120 gm instead of 140 gm. The recipe says that I should be able to get 4 layers. However, I noticed that the sponge were not high so instead I decided to bake twice to get 4 even-splitting the cake into even layers is not my forte.

Some of Ingredients: white chocolate, dark chocolate, coffee syrup, Kahlua (recipe use Marsala which I don't have)  cream cheese frosting (250gm mascarpone and 250gm cream cheese used)

It's dark chocolate bought from Australia.

Do pardon the blurred photos, my hands were messy with the chocolate!

Brush cake with coffee syrup before spreading the cream cheese frosting and then sprinkle grated dark chocolate over.

Finally both grated white chocolate and dark chocolate goes over the top and sides.

Monday, April 22, 2013


I am intrigued when I read about the 8 Flavours Xiao Long Bao.  Foie gras, truffle, cheese in these little dumplings- how would they taste ?

Xiao Long Bao -tiny dumplings of  minced pork in a broth wrapped and beautifully pleated  with a almost transparent skin/dough. Ever wonder how the broth got inside the dumplings? Yes, it is pork skin, bones and fat- all boiled down and  gelatinised.  

 We went to the Paradise Dynasty at the  Paradigm Shopping Mall for their special 8 Flavours Xiao Long Bao to celebrate Sarah's birthday.

The chefs busy at work in the open kitchen.
 As we entered the restaurant, we were greeted with this beautiful Buddha statute- and immediately we felt the stress of the traffic jam and rush hour melting away.   The peaceful ambience make it a serene haven for dining.

The trinkling water fountain provided the background music.  

 We each had a tray of their 8 flavours xiao long bao.  The orders came in just about 15 minutes.

It was a feast for the eyes - almost too pretty to be eaten!  But the camera got to "eat" first! haha.

Happy Birthday,  Sarah. 

Gave the girls a lesson how to eat the xiao long bao-  use the chopstick to pick up the dumpling at the thickest point (ie the top of the pleats).  Put it in your spoon and just poke a hole in the skin so that you can slurp the soup first (be careful, it is hot) before savouring  the whole dumpling!  

We have been informed by the staff that we should follow the sequence of partaking these little morsels for the optimum taste/flavour.   The original flavour (ie plain pork) goes down first.

The Truffle xiao long bao - this was very delicious- I think anything "mushroomy" goes well with the pork. 

 This Szechuan dumpling is the last on the list - it really packed a powerful punch! The chili (or is it the szechuan peppercorns) leaves a spicy and a bit of numbing effect.

We were also told that the best  way of savour  the xiao long bao is without any dipping sauce (normally vinegar and julienned ginger) so that the intended flavours can come through.  From left: Original (white), ginseng (green), foie gras (beige) truffle (black), Cheese (yellow) crab roe (orange),  garlic (brown) and lastly szechuan (pink). 
My favourite would be the ginseng and truffle.  The crab roe was a bit "fishy" and the cheese was rather queer tasting.  I did not find the foie gras outstanding as it tasted more like the original flavour. 

 We ordered a bowl of their signature La Mein with pork soup base and this was delicious too. It came with  deep fried chicken chop and an  egg with its runny yolk.

But we could not finished this Le Mein in Hot Chili sauce with large pieces of wantons- it was again too hot/spicy for us. We definitely enjoyed the interesting meal. 

Sarah and Esther.

Our dessert was taken at the Tong Pak Fu, one level down. 
Shaved Matcha Ice with red beans, grass jelly and sago.  Sweet and refreshing ending. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013



Times flies and the trip was coming to an end tonight as I would be flying home at midnight.
Both of us woke up late and took relaxing  morning breakfast at home.  May had to go down to the hospital and do some of her things.  So since my bags are already packed, I dropped over at Vicky's place as she had taken a off day too.  Spend the morning  chatting with her over the wedding and updating of the news back home.

 Her love for cats are evident here! Her 2 "girls" (her cats) are called Louise and Thelma, both of them too shy to come out from under the bed.

Her husband had just renovated the kitchen for her- I am really envious of her new Miele oven! 

The deck outside the kitchen - lovely place to unwind after a hard's day work.

 Her lemon tree - but the lemons are not ripe yet, so did not pluck any. Lemon is actually a winter fruit and it must be the weather that causes the late blooming.

Bill's "toy" - he likes tinkering with cars and is currently re-modelling this car. 

May came back and we went down to Boxhill for lunch together.  It was so good to bond together once in a while. What the best way except to share some good food together.  

 It started to rain when we reached Boxhill. We went to this Vietnamese restaurant for our pho.

 Rice rolls filled with vegetables and served with slices of  Vietnamese ham roll.

 Big plate of  beansprouts (which we asked to be blanched instead of being raw)  and basil - accompaniment for the pho.
Tender slices of beef  and tantalising beef broth.
Nothing beats a bowl of hot Pho with lots of the veggies.

May's order of soft warm  Rice Noddles with crispy fried Vegetarian Spring rolls- slightly sourish with the Nuoc Mam sauce with chillies and garlic.

The clouds are gathering and thickening as we headed home.  On the way,  I suggested that we visit this Schwerkolt Cottage situated beside the highway . We alighted from the car and  it was so windy as we walked towards the place.   This is another Heritage site and just imagine that we have passed this umpteen times (it was near May's house) and had never visited it and it takes a windy rainy day for us to do it!
 However this cottage is only open during the weekends and public holidays and admission is free.

This rustic cottage was built by a German immigrant.

 This is the smokehouse. The buildings here are built using the stones quarried from the Mullum Mullum creek.

The well  and the surrounding garden.  Vicky said she had seen wedding being held on the grounds here.
The nearby surroundings are the parkland and walking and cycling tracks of the Mullum Mullum creek.  This is one of May's favourite walking tracks as well.

 Display of old carriages and farming tools

 Even an old pillar box and these clay pipes as well.

We went for dinner at my brother's house and his wife had cooked Bak Kuat Teh for us.

 Finally it was time to say goodbye to May's cat-  Briskie,
and Alvin.  
Hope they will remember me when I next come by again.



We landed back in Melbourne from Sydney before noon. We headed home and spend the afternoon sorting our the dirty laundry and packing my bags. I found that the luggage was over-weight and had to take out some of the cake pans which May had given me as well as some chocolates too.  She will have to bring these over to me on her next trip back home.

We were meeting up with my sister Vicky and her husband Bill for dinner.   May had booked a spanish meal for us tonight at Bolera's - French and Spanish Cuisine at Warrandyte- around 15 minutes drive from her house. May has undertaken a Spanish language course to facilitate her voluntary work overseas and she is very much interested in their cuisine as well.  

A Bakery opposite the restaurant- filled the air with the  aroma of fresh baked bread! Loved the tranquil and green surroundings here. 

This quaint restaurant is surrounded with beautiful greenery and has al fresco dining as well.  The night was cool and its romantic dining under the stars once it was dark.
However we choose to sit inside where it is warmer. The interior has a rustic/homely feel with dim lighting and brick walls and an open kitchen.    The restaurant has won some awards as can be seen in those cetificates hanging on the wall. 
Vicky with Bill.   
Once we  were seated by the friendly staff, we were each served with a complimentary glass of Sangria which Spanish word means for "blood".  This is because of the typical red-colour drink - consisting mainly of wine (red), chopped fruits and  some brandy as well.     

Slices of baguette served with a dipping plate of warm olive oil together with balsamic vinegar and green olives.

 While waiting for the main course, we ordered this tapas- Saute Garlic  Mushroom and chorizo that came  in a small terracotta pot of  bubbling hot olive oil and  served with pieces of toasted garlic bread. We loved dipping the bread in the olive oil.  It was so yummy and it was so diffucult for us to stop ourselves!  

The Main course- Seafood Paella.  We have pre-ordered this when making the reservation as they told us that it could take more than 45 minutes to cook.  The word paella derive from the Latin word meaning pan and probably has been so called because of the shallow pan used to cook this dish.  The rice was soft and full of flavour of the big prawns (or shrimps as they call it);  calamari,  chucks of fish and chicken as well as the spices (saffron is normally used)! 
Very, Very delicious but this serving  for 4 persons is too much for us! They graciously doggie bag the remaining leftovers for us. 
This restaurant is a family run business and the owner and staffs (son and daughter?) are so friendly and made dining here comfortable and a  joy as well. 

A happy and satisfactory meal indeed. Thanks May.