Sunday, November 25, 2012

Home Made Chilli Jam

My collegue miss Donna, multi talented kitchen queen - marmalade & jam maker, best raspberry tart maker, curry, pies, or anything & everything from Donna's kitchen. She always make everything yummy and fantastico. Donna loves experimenting new recipes too & I am always happy to be her guinea pig. She does give me a bit of inspiration to be a bit more hard working in the kitchen LOL, here I am experimenting my chilli jam. This is my first time making chilli jam & it turns to be not as scary as I thought. A bit of prep time but I am really pleased with my jam - it is full of natural goodness, no preservatives added watsoever, and I used real tomatoes. Color wise, it is not giving me the vibrant red that I want (perhaps I have to use more capsicum than tomatoes next time), but dont judge the book by its cover, it tastes great !! recipe was done using the long way method ..this can be short cut by using whole peeled tomatoes from the can.

Part (1) - Put them in food processor, run till fairly smooth
  • 3 stalks lemon grass - only use the white part, cut diagonally
  • 100 gr ginger
  • 2 red chilli - remove seeds if you want to reduce the spicy-ness
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
Part (2) - Prepare diced tomatoes
** For short cut version, omit Part 2, replace with canned whole peeled tomato, cut each tomato into 6 **
  • 800gr tomato - in a pot, boiled tomatoes till skins cracked open, scoop them out and cool them. Once cool, peel the skin off & remove core, cut each tomato into 6.
Part (3) - Other ingredients:
  • 300 gr chopped onion
  • 2 red capsicum, remove seeds & chopped
  • Grated lime skin from 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2-3/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon salt
  1. Heat up olive oil in a pot (preferably thick based pot)
  2. Stir fry onion, garlic, capsicum until fragrant and soft
  3. Add remaining ingredients
  4. Bring to the boil for about 15-20 mins, stir occasionally
  5. Simmer for about 30mins-1hour
  6. Cook until liquid is minimal, and you get thick and sticky jam
  7. Once ready, transfer to glass jam jar
  • Total time required: approx. 1.5 hour
  • To make approx. 2.5 litre of chilli jam
  • If you store it in sterilised glass jar, it can last up to 3 months, for sterilising method, there are quite a few in youtube, this video is quite easy to follow:
How to serve Chilli jam?
Chilli jam can be served with ....
  • Corn chips
  • Grilled corn
  • Corn fritters - for recipe, click here
  • Zucchini fritters
  • Prawn Pasta
  • I did brioche, avocado, ham/ falafel + chilli jam .. was pretty awesome !!
Getting all the ingredients ready
Starting to crack ....
Cooling ...
Ready for peeling & core removal
Home made chilli jam

Corn Fritters

Sunday, 18/11/12

Ever since I got my new toy, mini food processor, I always try to make something where I can use my food processor. Anyway ... last Sunday I had to go friend's party & I decided to make Indonesian style Corn Fritters (aka Bakwan Jagung in Indonesia). Corn fritters are quite common in Indonesia, it can be found everywhere especially from street stalls. Street sellers always use real corns, they slice them & make everything from scratch & tasted so good. Perhaps the street dust and newspaper (street seller's version of paper towel) also plays a part in making them taste great?? 
In Indonesia, it is very common for street sellers to use newspaper as paper towel, some friends screamed coz of hygienity issue, 'ink may run off & rub to the fritters'. I just told them to close their eyes off  & demolish the stuff. Taste great isn't  .... =)

And yeahhh since I got fresh great ingredients, I decided to do the lengthy way, making everything from scratch to copy the street sellers. I know it's a bit of an effort and seems lengthy but the results is pretty good. You can do a short cut version by using canned corn & it will make life easier and less mess in the kitchen.

  • 3 sweet corns (for short cut version, use 1 can of sweet corn kernels, drain the water and 1 can of creamed corn)
  • 1 garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red shallot, finely chopped
  • 3-4 stalks spring onion, finely chopped (only use green bits)
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • a pinch sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 tablespoon white pepper
  • 4 tablespoon plain flour
  • 4 tablespoon rice flour
  • 1 chilli - remove seed & finely chopped (optional)


***** For Short cut version - omit step 1 & start from step 2 *****

Step 1 - Prepare Corn
  • Lay newspaper everywhere around your chopping board to avoid messy bench (slicing corn can be quite 'juicy')
  • Slice corn in 4 sides, lay them flat and slice them
  • Divide them into 2 bowls of corn kernels
  • Bowl 1 - make creamed corn - just chuck everything into food processor, run it till fairly smooth
  • Bowl 2 - stay as corn kernels - use pestle & bash them up (violance is allowed here - this will avoid the corn kernel to burst when we fry them). If you don't have pestle you can also spread them in chopping board, and use rolling pin.
Lay the corn, and start slicing the corn
Slice each side of the corn - 4 sides of the corn
Bowl 1 - Creamed corn
Bowl 2 - Corn kernels being bashed up
Step 2 - Make Batter
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk plain flour and egg till not lumpy
  • Add all remaining ingredients
  • Batter has to be thick and heavy (if it's still runny just add plain flour)
Rice flour that I used ...Thai elephant brand
Corn Fritters batter - ready to go ...
Step 3 - Deep Frying
  • In a wok, heat up cooking oil
  • When ready, take 1 table spoon of batter each time till finish
  • Lay paper towel in a plate & put the fritters here before serving to absorb oil
Deep Frying
    Corn Fritters now ready ....
    served with home made chilli jam 
    (I will post recipe soon)
  • Approx time for full method version 1.5 hr
  • Approx time for short cut version (with canned corn) 45 mins
  • Recipe can make about 16-18 pieces

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pandan Chiffon Cake

Chiffon cake brings a bundle of childhood memory for me. My late grandma used to bake cookies and cakes for us every week without failed. She was a good baker (she was baking teacher at church), and chiffon cake was one of her forte (her best one was chocolate chips flavour). Pity I never find anything like hers in Sydney. Well, there are 2 shops that sell chiffon, but they are a bit dry for my liking and at around $5-8 per slice, of course I am not happy. I decided to make my own and this is how my Pandan Chiffon lab started. I was telling myself, I am sure I have a bit of my grandma's baking gen on me, how hard will this be? It was not an easy journey I can tell you that...but is not hard once know the tricks. My Pandan Chiffon project was not that smooth, I tried 4 different basic recipes, and I modified each of the recipe too, so if I multiplied the no. of recipes x my modifications = a lot trials (I kinda lost count). I had great ones and I also had failed ones as well - hard as rock, the sinker, the raw, you name it. 

My recipe is adapted from Cookingcrave, I just love her recipe, the facts that I dont have to waste any egg yolks and she gave good tips too. Some recipes ask you to use more egg whites and to be honest I cant tell the difference when I use more egg whites. Plus what am I going to do with the remaining egg yolks? I dont think I can use egg yolks for my face mask right....A friend suggested making hair mask (mixing egg yolk with avocado & olive oil) thanx. So far this recipe works best for me, soft, fluffy and not dry..and sinker no more. Shape wise it still needs some work coz it's still a bit bended on the side. But it's ok for me, I prefer flavour and texture than shape. When I took my chiffon cake to my friend's birthday during the weekend, they loved it and one of the lady asked me for the recipe coz her son loves it. Woww...not bad at all!!

Original Recipe:

My Adapted Recipe:


(A) Coconut Milk + Pandan extract mixture:
  • 150 ml coconut milk
  • 10 pandan leaves (they are approx. 40-50cm long)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pandan essence (I use koepoe koepoe brand)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
(B) Egg Yolks Batter:
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 6 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 140g plain flour
(C) Egg Whites Foam:
  • 7 egg whites
  • 15 gr corn flour
  • 75g caster sugar


      1. Make (A) Coconut milk + Pandan extract mixture:
  • Pandan leaves – wash, wipe dry with paper towel, cut ugly bits (yellowish part), cut into pieces
  • Put pandan leaves + coconut milk in food processor – squeeze out
  • Remeasure mixture again, ensure total liquid = 165ml (from 150ml coconut milk + pandan leaves extract)
  • Add salt and vanilla essence
Fresh Pandan leaves
Pandan leaves pulp + coconut milk = green coconut milk
      2. Make (B) Egg yolks batter: 
  • Hand whisk egg yolks with sugar
  • Add mixture (A) coconut milk + pandan - hand whisk, mix well
  • Add cooking oil, mix well
  • Fold in plain flour slowly until it forms batter and no lumps
  • Set aside
      3. Make (C) Egg whites foam:   
  • In another bowl, beat egg whites till it form soft peak
  • Gradually add in sugar till it finished (it will be white, glossy & stiff)
  • Add in corn flour and continue beating at high speed till stiff peaks form
Egg whites foam - stiff and glossy
     4. Next steps:   
  • Gently fold mixture (C) egg white into (B) egg yolks
  • Pour batter into ungreased chiffon pan (with removable base). I use 25 cm diameter
  • Tap top side/ side of the pan a few times to get rid of air bubbles (dont bang to the table as the batter might run wild if slip from the base)
  • Bake in preheated oven at 160c for 30-40mins or until it is cooked.
  • Remove cake from oven, immediately invert cake
  • Wait until it is completely cooled before removing it from the mould
  • Approximate time required: about 2.5 hours (including preparation)
  • Pandan is also know as screwpine
  • 1/2 recipe can make about 12 cupcakes. If you are making cupcakes, then it's ok to bang to the table after you poured the batter into the mould
  • Use fresh eggs at room temperature
  • Use 60gr egg for this recipe
  • To extract coconut milk + pandan juice mix, use cheese cloth for best result (I used strainer and it was not that great)
  • Mixing bowls have to be dry
  • Dont overwork your egg yolk batter & when mixing mixture (B) to (C)
  • Some recipes do not recommend greasing the pan, however, I always grease my pan then lining it with good baking paper (Glad) & it makes washing up much easier
Where to buy Pandan leaves & Pandan essence: 
Pontip (Thai grocery store)
  • 16 Campbell St, Haymarket (Chinatown), Sydney
  • Phone.(02) 9211 2208
Lucky Thai (Thai grocery store)
  • 50/40 Campbell st, Haymarket (Chinatown), Sydney
  • Phone.(02) 9211 3163
Chiffon pan with removable base
Shape aint perfect yet but it tastes great for me...
Pandan Chiffon Cupcakes version

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tea Crazy

During the long weekend, I was cleaning my cupboard and found bits and pieces of my tea collection everywhere. I placed them on the table & start to wonder how am I going to finish all of them? This is way too much and will last me for at least 1 year. I then realise I have different brands, functions, tea bags/ leaves, different countries, etc. From night time, cleansing, warmth, detox, calming, increase stamina etc, I have them all. I stored some at home and some at work. I am not a tea connoisseur but I do appreciate great taste and quality. I really don't mind spending a little bit extra for good tea coz I know they taste great, aromatic and it will taste like real tea, not like diluted mud water euuwww... (not that I have ever tasted mud water). I just cant have bad tea. Life is too short to drink bad tea.

My theory is you get what you paid for, but it does not mean that expensive one is always good. I know a tea shop with branches everywhere in here, charging premium price & their tea is not the best (will not name the brand coz it's just my personal preference). If you are starting to get into tea, keep trying different stuff till you find one that really click with your tastebud.

My old time fave:
  • Peppermint
  • American Ginseng tea (from Eu Yan Sang)
  • Freshly brewed mint leaves bunch + hot water
My current fave brands:
  • TWG (Emperor Sencha, Moroccan Mint & Alexandria)
  • Madame Flavour (White tea with rose petals & Green Jasmine pear)
  • Pukka (Night Time, 3 Ginger, Cleanse)
Some of my mini tea collection ...
Harrods English breakfast loose leaf - Really beautiful, incredible aroma, robust and rich...taste great. I love it for breakfast/ afternoon tea with a slice of cake.
Korean Honey Ginger tea - texture wise it's like jam/ solid with some smooth fibres particle, you just use 1-2 tablespoon & dilute it with hot water. Very practical. A little sweet for my liking though.
Yun-Nan Pu-erh tea from Ying Kee Tea house, one of the legendary tea house in Hong Kong. They are conveniently available in HK airport too. I feel Pu-erh is refereshing, mild and has some detox effect (if you are having some greasy Chinese food or yumcha, Pu-erh seems good to have with). Tea leaves are quite tiny but they expand a lot with hot water.
American Wild Ginseng Tea from Eu Yan Sang (Chinese herbal shop) - great for health especially during winter, increase overall stamina & clear excess heat in your body. It has a subtle bitter taste which is lovely, I really heart this product, I buy them every year. Instructions ask you to infuse it for 10 mins, I like mine to have stronger taste, so I let it sit for about 20 mins.
Pukka brand - Night time, Cleanse, Three Ginger - depending on the weather, mood, need etc, I have varieties to alternate. Three ginger is great for winter time, too strong for summer. Night time ... hhmm this is quite an interesting one for me, I am a sleepy head by nature & I am not sure if this has any effect on me.
Alexandria from TWG - a mix of Morrocan mint, green tea and vanilla. This is great one for after dinner tea, really refreshing and light. Brew for about 5 mins & OMG...superb aroma.
TWG teabags - Emperor Sencha, Moroccan Mint Tea and Alexandria. I love them all, really practical to bring to work/ during travelling. 15 teabags in a box. Generous amount of tea leaves per teabag.
TWG teabag is the only one that I know so far that has hand sewn cotton cloth teabag. It works really well to release the flavour. The only drawback is if you leave it too long, you might have mini puddle of water around your tea mug (the string absorb water & just drip). You just have to make sure you take out the teabag after 2-4 mins.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Weekend Shopping

Saturday, 13/10/2012

A friend was hunting for Santoku knife, and we decided to go to Peters of Kensington to check out their knives range. My friend got Tojiro Santoku knife and knife sharpening steel (looks like a baby stick sword) at the end. And guess who got dragged to spend as well? ME....oh noooo, this is really naughty. I had no plan to buy anything on the day but temptations are just hard to resist. I bought 3 items - food processor, mug and digital scale.

Let me justify my recent splurge...
  • All this long I have been hunting for a mini food processor because my current one is 1/2 dead - I have Breville mini whizz & I dropped the bowl (the plastic bowl was split into 1/2) and too troublesome to get 'just the bowl'.
  • My cheapo scale is so unreliable - and it is really hard to rely on this when I am baking (trust me I really am into baking right now & digital scale will be frequently on air)
  • For the mug ... there's no justification hhmm 'because it's so cute' is probably the reason
I know my pocket is screaming now, oh well, let me treat is as my early Christmas presents. Meet my  new family ... mini food processor, digital scale, and Hello Kitty mug.

Le Micro from Magimix - I just love the size - it's great for making sambal, pesto, sauce, mayonaisse etc in smaller quantity. I know Magimix will not dissapoint me, my mom has one of the bigger food processor & it just last forever.
My new red Digital Scale and Hello Kitty mug ... yayyy
Bye bye BREVILLE and old scale...time to upgrade

Friday, August 24, 2012

Only in Bangkok 2011

These are quite a yesteryear random photos collection but I had a great time in Bangkok last year & I just want to share my snaps =)

Tuk Tuk - Bangkok style rickshaw, bargaining is a must
Neon bright pink taxi - think about all the benefits, you can easily hail them and will not miss them when they pass by on the road. They are super strikey under the scorching sun
Bangkok traffic jam in CBD - around 8-9pm on a weekday. Spot the OZ theme taxi ...I think Sydney's traffic is bearable compared to Bangkok.
United Kingdom of Fakeys ..Gucci, Prada, Coach, Chanel @ floating market
Warning sticker on taxi's window - I translate it as... No Goat, No Gun, No XXX, No Dog, No Alcohol and No Durian. Seriously...who will carry a goat to a cab?
Hand Made Robot from Recycled materials @ Chatuchak Market (aka JJ market)
Money on string - donating money to the temple by stapling the money to the string @ Golden Mount temple (roof top).
Baby pineapple - super sweet - sweetest pineapple ever, about the size of an apple. More expensive than normal pineapple according to my friend who is a local. How to eat? Hold the green bit & eat it like popsicle.
Mobile vendor - selling traditional crackers
Various types of eggplants - purple, white, round, oval, green, etc. I thought there's only 2-3 kinds of eggplants in the whole eggplant family.
Street Food Vendor - this lady is awesome, she made fresh papaya salad/ cook fresh noodle/ fresh stir fry (in front of the Palace). Really well equipped.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cara and Co @ Westfield Sydney

Friday, 06/01/2012

Okay peeps, I have finally decided to post Cara and Co after contemplating for several months. Slap my selfish-ness, initially I was not keen to post it coz I dont want Cara to get popular too soon (Cara please dont crucify me). Imagine if they starting to intro '1 month to book a table' policy. What a nightmare.

Oh well after all I am not a heartless soul and I am more than happy to tell the universe how AWESOME Cara and Co is.

Cara & Co is located on level 4 of Westfield. How easy to find Cara? It is easy but tricky. Here's my story. Let's start with my bad habit that I always carry across regardless the country, timezone, or place ... as usual I left everything to last minute to find the exact whereabout. Feeling helpless & lazy to walkaround Westfield, I went to 'INFORMATION' hoping for some miracle.
Me               : Hi, I am looking for Cara and Co.
Concierge 1  : Sorry...what's the name again? what is Ca_ _ and...?
Me              : Cara & Co, C_A_R_A (I had to spell it), Fashion store and restaurant, the restaurant is  inside the clothing store
Concierge 1 : Sorry I dont know, what's the name again let me ask my collegue' (helllo...INFORMATION desk were you there for real? Did you pass training program?)
Concierge 2 : Excuse me, are you looking for Cara & Co, Oh yeah ... Cara and Co, level 4, next to Sambag, on the top of Mulberry'.
Ahaaa now we are on the same page, what a life saver. Quest sorted.

Found it ...Cara & Co shop the clothing store, the restaurant supposed to be inside the clothing store. I stepped in & still trying to find the restaurant...till I saw the 'Restaurant' signage at the really end of my right side. Hhmm I still had the weird feeling (in a good way though) to know the restaurant is inside the clothing store. Anyway as I stepped towards the restaurant, my eyes really wander around the store (pretty massive store) enjoying all the tiny bits of decorations, toys, retro games, accesories or anything funky and edgy. The shop looks more like a showroom to me, spacious, tasteful, and entertaining.

Reached the restaurant, we were greeted by the friendly waiter - who end up recommending good champgane to us. Pity I cant remember the brand of the champagne. It was not Moet, 1 level down from Moet. Menu - very simple and clean, not much description on each though, they had catchy names for the dishes, e.g. Caesar in disguise, In tune with tuna, Fish united etc. We had the summer menu, ordered 3 course dinner and each of us tried to order different stuff, please enjoy my photos ...

Cara & Co shop front...hope this help finding the restaurant
Entrance to the restaurant, 'Restaurant' sign in neon lightings
Pre-Starter - Cauliflower pure with eggyolk - silky smooth, subtle with mix of textures - grainy yet smooth from the yolk & cauliflower pure, plus crunchiness from the little cracker - well combined
Can I have all 4 for myself?
Pre-starter - Seaweed rice crispies with ?? Sorry I forgot the details

My Starter - 'Smoke a Crab Cigar' - crab cigar with spinach cream, basil oil, parmesan jelly and nitrogen grapefruit. Crab cigar is such an awesome starter, light, thin crunchy cigar, generous crab filling with well balanced sauce. Who need real cigar really? Time to convert.
Friend's Starter - Caesar in Disguise - Green gazpacho, glazed chicken oyster, parmesan crisp - Awww so pweeety, parmesan crisp was delicious, chicken was moist and succulent, the color of the sauce is quite looks strong and thick but it was mild and not overpowering at all.
Friend's starter - 'In Tune with Tuna' - tuna, different types of tomatoes, cream of verbena, puffed wild rice. My friend raved about it, according to him 'really fresh tuna & tasty tomatoes'. Pretty looking and resembles a garden.
Friend's Main - Beef Story - fillet tartare, slowly cooked sirloin, glazed potato, lettuce, pickled tomato, Bearnaise sauce
Sides - Greenies on a plate. Fresh and crunchy, with a hint of vinegar.
My Main -Perched on cous cous - silver perch with hand rolled cous cous, baby fennel, sheep's yoghurt, apple confit and shallot jus. I was not sure how the sheep's yoghurt will work with the fish ....but wowww the nicely cooked fish went well with the fennel, potato, the shallot jus and the sheep's yoghurt (didnt taste yoghurt-ey at all). I was really pleased with my main, such a nice portion, presentation & quite light.
The silverish rocky looking bits...not sure what they were but how cool does it look?

Dessert - In Rhubarb we trust - rhubarb, yoghurt and lime leaf. Yoghurt was very fresh and natural. If you are leaning towards the fresh and sourish department then this baby is yours.
Dessert - Smurf's and Violets - Belgian chocolate, strawberry and violet
Hand Towel soaked in Water
Hand Towel after the soaking process, ready to use

These days our ideal dining place is a restaurant where we can chit chat without screaming at each other (sign of maturity sighh), spacious (ie. you are not sitting super close to the next table), warm feeling, nice food & service of course. Cara does fulfill our requirements and they have never disappoint us so far and we have visited Cara 4x. We are not bothered at all with the restaurant being inside a clothing store/ in a shopping mall even though I do feel majority of Sydney people are still not used to dine in a shopping mall. Yes it is a brand new concept for Sydney - clothing store mixed with restaurant and it is in a shopping mall,  yeah why not? it is a new thing but a change is good sometimes. Hurry a table and step into a hidden gem in the city. I am sure you will love Cara in no time, they showcase the best fashion collection in store and showcasing art on a plate too - trust me, they taste as good as how they look.
PS. I will post their winter menu soon.

Cara and Co (close every Monday)
Shop 4001, Westfield Sydney
Level 4
188 Pitt st, Sydney
Phone. (02) 9226-9988