Wednesday, July 8, 2015

WWDH - Cannellini Bean Salad

For Wednesday with Donna Hay this week, Kayte chose Cannellini Bean Salad.  The recipe is from Off the Shelf, and is also online here.

This salad involves the use of canned cannellini beans served cold.  I was not initially too sure about that.  However, once I made the salad, I loved it - it was delish.

I served my salad with osso bucco made in my trusty slow cooker - yep, salad and osso bucco might sound weird, but it worked for me:

To see what the other members of our group thought of this salad, visit the LYL section of the WWDH website.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

New York, New York Day 8 - Lunch with Doristas, Tiffanys, FAO Schwarz and the Met

Day 8 of our New York trip brought us back to Saturday.  This day was very exciting, because I was meeting my fellow Doristas, Kathy and Cher, and some of their family at The Smith for lunch: 

Here we all are, a very happy bunch:

It was fun to finally meet Kathy and Cher face to face, and to meet Bill, Joe and Runner Girl besides.  It was like catching up with old friends.

For lunch, I ordered a delectable soft shell crab, with poached eggs and homestyle potatoes (~$23):

It tasted as sensational as it looks!

After lunch, before going our separate ways, Kathy showed us this lovely urban oasis tucked in behind the sidewalk:

Tim and I had no definite plans for the afternoon, so we decided to wander up Fifth Avenue and eventually make our way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A friend of mine had recommended afternoon tea at Bergdorf Goodman for a spot of people watching:

We went into Bergdorf Goodman but we dared not go to tea - we really did not fit in with the well heeled crowd in there.

Accordingly, we forged on and fulfilled my fantasy of going to Tiffanys:

I did not buy any diamonds, but I couldn't resist buying one of their cute signature heart necklaces.  We had our only brush with fame here, as Shelley Goldberg, the NY1 parenting correspondent, was in the lift with us.

Next, we went to FAO Schwarz, where, my boss had informed me, the keyboard from the movie BIG was located.  I got a little sidetracked by the candy section - it is ginormous and the smell is overpowering:

However, we did finally make it to the BIG keyboard:

Mission accomplished, we continued on to the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Philistines that we are, the main purpose of our visit was to go to the rooftop bar that we had been told about rather than to see art.  It was a little tricky to find, but we made it in the end, and were rewarded with stunning views of Manhattan:

It was pretty relaxed and casual up there, although the drinks were pricey.

By chance, there was an exhibition of Van Gogh's Irises and Roses, which we enjoyed very much.  I learned a lot about Van Gogh and his work that I did not already know - I always just think of sunflowers and Starry Starry Night, but these four beautiful, delicate paintings (two irises, two roses) showed his enormous range.

We also visited the Egyptian section, where we went inside an ancient Egyptian temple:

We then headed back out to Fifth Avenue, and on the way, I spied these magnificent statues guarding the doorway of an apartment block: 

For dinner that evening, we went to Manting Chinese Famous Food:

It isn't fancy, but the food was good and our waitress was very friendly.

Here is Tim in a humorous pose with his meal:

Tim had the seafood spicy stew ($11.95):

while I had the Hunan style chicken ($13.95):

I can vouch for the fact that mine was delicious, and looking at Tim's head in the bowl, his was pretty good too.

For dessert, we had bought some cannoli earlier in the day from Fortunato Brothers, a Brooklyn bakery who had a street stall not far from The Smith.

One had choc chips:

and the other had pine nuts:

From memory, they were a little pricey, but tasted good.

It had been another fun and eventful day.

956 2nd Avenue
New York, NY
United States
Ph: +1 212-644-2700

150 W 49th St
New York, NY 10019
United States
Ph: +1-646-832-5866      

Monday, July 6, 2015

Ginger Cake with Lemon and Pistachio Icing


Last weekend, there was a lovely looking cake by Neil Perry called Ginger Cake with Lemon and Pistachio Icing in the newspaper.  I tore the recipe out and had the pleasure of making it a few days ago.

Here is the recipe online.  Other readers have only given it three stars, but I don't know why - I thought it was a beautiful cake, and so did my colleagues.  It has a distinct ginger flavour, and the tangy icing tastes like cream cheese icing, even though it is not.

I made some changes to the recipe necessitated by the ingredients I had on hand.  Instead of 100g of grated ginger, I used a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger and a teaspoon of ground ginger.  Instead of a cup of golden syrup, I used half and half golden syrup and honey.  But otherwise, I made the recipe as stated, and loved it.  Definitely a winner in my books.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Queenie's Sweet Dreams Walking Tour, South Yarra

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of doing the Sweet Dreams Walking Tour ($85 for 3 hours) in South Yarra run by Queenie's Food Tours.  As the name of the tour suggests, it is all about the desserts.  I had independently been to all of the establishments that we visited, but the joy of doing this tour is that you got to meet at least some of the people behind the creations in the store, and enjoy the camaraderie with like-minded people.  The tour groups are limited to eight people, so you receive a personalised tour and won't get lost in the crowd.

Our first stop was at LuxBite in Toorak Road:  

LuxBite became famed for its Lolly Bag Cake after it was one of the challenges on Masterchef.  I have already tried the Lolly Bag Cake, so I was free to explore other menu items.

In the price of the tour, we were able to have a coffee and a dessert at LuxBite.  I had my usual skinny flat white:

and chose a seasonal pudding - the Winter Warmer, a bread pudding served warm with warm pandan custard:

This was delightfully rich and really hit the spot on a grey, cold Melbourne day.

Christine, our tour guide, chose the Meringue Monster (also pictured at the top of this post): 

The Meringue Monster is a gluten-free delight comprising green tea sponge, pistachio, watermelon yoghurt, sour strawberry mousse and meringue.  I also tried this, and it is as light as a feather.  I think it would be the perfect summer time dessert.

As we were at LuxBite early and there weren't many customers yet, when I spied one of the geniuses behind LuxBite, Bernard Chu, behind the counter, I could not resist asking for a photo with him.  He very kindly obliged: 

Squeee!  At the LuxBite counter, they have these cute bits and bobs that I could not resist photographing:

From LuxBite, we moved on to Adriano Zumbo Patissier in Claremont Street:

I have also been there before. Adriano is a creative genius with cakes and sweets, and the cabinets in his stores are always a kaleidoscope of colour:

Adriano is a Sydney-sider, although he sometimes appears at the Melbourne stores.  Alas, this was not the case on the day of my tour.  However, I did snag a limited edition redskin cronut that I had seen on Facebook (see the back left of this photo):

Redskins are red sugary chewy sweets in Australia, in case you were wondering.

At the side of the Zumbo store, you can watch his staff at work behind a plate glass window:

Our next stop was the Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio in Chapel Street (you can see what a "lovely" day it was from the sky):

I had not been there for many moons.  At Burch & Purchese, we were greeted by staff with samples of marshmallows.  There was also a beautiful stand of meringues on the front counter:

And of course, their desserts are magical:  

This decoration is made of chocolate:

Christine mentioned a gin and tonic tart, pictured below - I was sold and bought one of these:

There were some gorgeous salted caramel cake pops in a jar on the counter - wouldn't you just love these for a child's birthday party?

Unfortunately, we did not get to meet Darren Purchese, but them's the breaks.

We then walked on up Chapel Street to  A La Folie, an establishment that specialises in macarons and petit choux.  (I had visited there late last year.)  Here are some of their gorgeous macarons in the window of the store:

This was my favourite stop on the tour, because the lovely owner of A La Folie, Mercedes, sat down with us and discussed how her shop came to be, including why she specialises in two products and tips for home baking.  Here is Mercedes discussing her wonderful petit choux:

At A La Folie, we got to sample two flavours of macarons and a vanilla petit choux (which I liked better than the raspberry and salted caramel ones that I had last year).

Here is our tour group in front of the Eiffel Tour mural at A La Folie:

And here I am with Mercedes:

I really enjoyed hearing Mercedes' story and learning some tips for making macarons and choux pastry at home.

Our final stop on the tour was at Ganache Chocolate in Toorak Road.  I am a regular at their city store so I am familiar with their product, but it was good to get a behind the scenes perspective.  Unfortunately, Arnaud, the chocolatier, was out, but Steve, the store manager, kindly, took us to see the kitchen where all the action happens. Here is Steve with Christine, our tour guide:

There was no work in progress in the kitchen as it was early Sunday afternoon, but we did see piles of chocolate stilettos drying:

Our tour included a cup of coffee or tea and samples of quiche and savoury croissant:

as well as two chocolates each - honey (made from the honey from the beehive on the roof of the South Yarra store) and coconut:

Everything was delicious, and Steve was a gracious host.

With the tour over and my belly full, I later sampled my haul.  Here is a glimpse inside the Zumbo Redskin Cronut (redskin flavoured  cream, redskin marshmallow topping) ($5.50):

It was good on day one, but by day two, had started to become a little oily.

The B&P gin and tonic tart ($9.50) comprises white lime chocolate, lime curd, gin and tonic jellies, and juniper and lime marshmallows:


At Burch & Purchese, I also bought this chocolate and raspberry crumble to play with on desserts and icecream ($9.50):

At LuxBite, I received a chocolate and a rose macaron in the tour price:
and I bought this delicious kaya coconut jam ($10) (tastes like caramel):

and a Mork salted caramel hot chocolate  kit, a collaboration between Mork and LuxBite ($25):

I am yet to try this out, but I look forward to it.

I shared the cronut, macarons and tart with Tim.  I also bought Tim an almond croissant from A La Folie, as those are his favourite.

Thanks to Christine, our Queenies tour guide, who made this tour a fun experience.

Queenie's Food Tours
Ph: 03 9018 7196 

38 Toorak Rd
South Yarra VIC 3141
Ph: (03) 9867 5888

Adriano Zumbo Patissier
14 Claremont St
South Yarra VIC 3141

Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio
647 Chapel St
South Yarra VIC 3141
(03) 9827 7060
A La Folie
589 Chapel Street
South Yarra 3141
Ph: 03 9827 3337
Ganache Chocolate
250 Toorak Rd
South Yarra VIC 3141(03) 9804 7485