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All posts for the month April, 2011

Baking Disaster – Eggless Cupcakes

Published April 27, 2011 by Mary Jane

Hello bloggy friends,

Hope this post finds you all well. Anyways, when my brother in law’s family was over in Perth not too long ago this year. We celebrated my sister in law’s birthday, and one of her son is allergic to eggs so I have volunteered myself to bake some eggless cupcakes. I have never done it before, after researching a few recipes online I’ve nailed down to one simple eggless cupcakes that’s vanilla flavoured. I’m quite concerned as to whether the cupcakes would be edible or not cos I can’t imagine any cakes not containing the important ingredient ‘eggs’. So I bought the necessary ingredient, and knowing that I would be quite busy I decided to play it safe and purchase a chocolate frosting can which even comes with different types of nozzles for frostings (what a great idea)

Ingredients

Ingredients

I bought some silicon muffin cups from London and they are so colourful and cute – it’s time to put them into a good use..

It was indeed a simple recipe you basically whip everything together in my Breville kitchen mix. The only concern I had was one of the ingredients was vinegar. How bizzare, I’ve never baked a cup cake using the ingredient of vinegar. I really hope it tasted ok. So I decided to bake the night before hand, just incase it’s not edible I could still go to the cake shop and buy Eggless cupcakes..

When I peeked through the oven I could see the eggless cupcakes raising up. That’s a good sign, except even though I have baked for at least half n hour, it still look rather pale looking as if it’s not baked or cooked properly. So I poked the cupcakes and the skewers came out clean. It was time to take them out and let them cool down. So I had a test bite, it tasted ok – it was edible except it was rather doughy. You know the kind of feeling you get when you bake some cake and it’s not exactly cooked – it tasted exactly like that. So I waited till next day to put on my chocolate frosting and I break one bit to feed it to Pandabear and asked “is this edible?” he tilt his head “yeah, it’s edible obviously not as fluffy as the usual eggs cupcakes” feeling rather concerned I proceed to pipe some frosting on – they are starting to look like nice chocolate frosted eggless cupcakes (sorry no photos, I ran out of time to take them).

So when we went and picked up my sister in law’s birthday cake, incase my nephew didn’t eat those eggless cupcakes, we decided to purchase a large chocolate eggless cupcakes on the safe side. Lo and behold he went straight for the large chocolate eggless cupcakes and to my comfort he did attempt to lick the frostings off my eggless cupcakes and had a bite 🙂 that was good enough for me. I had to take the rest home and in the end they went into the bin, cos none of us ate eggless cupcakes….so yeah, I guess I haven’t mastered an eggless cupcakes yet. I wonder how the cake shop managed to make their eggless cupcakes fluffy and tasty??? That’s a mystery to me…

Australian Open

Published April 26, 2011 by Mary Jane

Well, it’s back to Melbourne again – I’m still trying to finish off all my blog post in Melbourne (6 months worth of blog posts!!! Argh!!) I’ll get there eventually. Anyways, back in January this year we decided before we leave Melbourne, we are to check out Melbourne’s Australian Open. I used to be a tennis fan when I was young but as I grew older I kinda no longer interested in any sports. I went through this phase of becoming a tennis fan, a basketball fan and then it got too hard – I became a No sports fan. I still liked to watch a nice tennis game when ever I see a renowned tennis player like Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal etc so this time Pandabear and I decided it was time to book a ticket to watch a tennis game at the Melbourne Park. We opt for the Hisense Area which is the slightly cheaper version yet you get to sit in a decent spot and if you’re lucky you might come across decent players. When we arrived at night it was packed with people!!!

Got my ticket, so excited – waiting patiently at the queue. Fortunately it didn’t take that long for the queue to move. I’m glad we were at the Hisense arena cos the other one was packed to the max!!

So our players were F Vadasco versus this Japanese dude K Nishikori. F Vadasco was ranked amongst top 10 and K Nishikori was ranked some where along the lines of 120 so you knew it was going to be a short game and chanced are K Nishikori would be slaughtered…but I decided to support K Nishikori, cos I didn’t really know F Vadasco and I think it’s an Asian thing, I felt sorry for K Nishikori there were lots of cheers for F Vadasco and not so much for the K Nishikori dude. So in the midst of the game I screamed with my limited Japanese “Gambate Nishikori!!” the girls next to me surprisingly said ‘well done, nice…’ hehehe there were obviously some Japanese fans out there but strongly the odds were against Nishikori.

F Vadasco

F Vadasco

K Nishikori

K Nishikori

Wow, I must admit the whole atmosphere of the arena is so much different than when you’re sitting at home infront of the TV. I was so excited, we bought some Cornetto and some gatorade drink – everything at the arena was expensive as expected…

Sadly the game did not last till 3 sets. Both sets were something like 6-3 and 6-4. I was hoping that the second set K Nishikori will pick up his game and that it will go into third set but unfortunately it didn’t happen. After this game you could also stay for doubles game. I’ve never liked doubles, so I was hoping we could make a move. But Pandabear wanted to stay and watch so we compromised and stayed for one game before we left for home..

On our way home, there was a huge TV broadcasting the tennis game in the Rod Laver Arena (the more expensive Arena) and it was playing Venus Williams versus Andrea Petkovic. It would have been an exciting game but for some strange reason I prefer men’s tennis games than women’s tennis games. Anyways, I took some photos of the players before heading home 🙂

Overall, we have enjoyed our experience at the Australian Open and if you ask me whether it was worth going? Yes, absolutely…especially for tennis fans out there…it’s not the same as sitting infront of TV and cheering on for the tennis players. The whole atmosphere of the game was amazing 🙂 You feel like you’re up close to the tennis players….

Till next time…

My younger sister’s 24th Birthday celebration :-)

Published April 26, 2011 by Mary Jane

Anyways, it was time for my younger sister’s 24th Birthday celebration. Remember for her last birthday I baked this strawberry sponge cake and muffins, well this year I decided I won’t be baking but instead will head over to a newish patisserie place to order her birthday cake 🙂 I asked her which restaurants she would like to go for her birthday and she said Chinese! Well, one of my favourite chinese restaurants in Perth is ‘Hong Kong BBQ’ and I’ve already done up a blog post on this particular restaurant so this post will highlight the dishes we have ordered that night. The restaurant is owned by three sisters from Hong Kong and I favourite one is the youngest one. She recognised me as I walked into the restaurant. ‘Long time no see..you’re back from Melbourne already – my friend has came back’ LOL. What a cute auntie, I used to take a few of my colleagues to Hong Kong BBQ for lunch and usually a huge hearty serve of roast pork and rice I would return back to work feeling bloated and extremely sleepy too 😛

Anyways, that night we have reserved a table and it was a saturday night so they decided to sat us down upstairs – where it’s a lot quieter than downstairs. I picked the dishes for that night as nobody wanted to choose the dishes from the menu so I volunteered that night. Here are some of the wonderful dishes we had…

Seafood clay pot

Seafood clay pot

Stir fried chinese vegies

Stir fried chinese vegies

Chilli pepper salt pork ribs

Chilli pepper salt pork ribs

Roast pork and duck combination

Roast pork and duck combination

deep fried toothfish

deep fried toothfish

stir fried butter prawns

stir fried butter prawns

Here’s a snap shot of all our dishes…

The great thing about dining at a Chinese restaurant is that there’s minimal waiting time for your food. Dishes came straight after one another and they were delicious. I must admit I was quite disappointed with the butter prawns stir fry – it was a little plain for my liking, we usually go for the salted egg yolk prawns – and that’s delicious, but I thought I’ll try their other prawn dishes – clearly their salted egg yolk prawns are still one of the best prawn dishes there….Another great thing about Chinese restaurant is that you can order various dishes to share and that gives you a a variety at a reasonable price. So we were really happy overall with our dishes.

Then it was time for their fruits which was served with some coconut jelly…

Then it was time for the birthday cake..yum yum – I ordered a orange, almond polenta cake. I’ve never had polenta in a cake before, but this particular cake was delicious, very moist and it had a nice tangy orange taste not too sweet but just right. Everybody enjoyed the cake…

I got my younger sister a lovely Burberry white wallet which she loved it so much that she didn’t want to use it. hehehehe…I bought it in London and knew it was the wallet for her….here’s a picture of the birthday girl…Maureen aka MoMo…does she look like me??

Vegie Patch Relocation…

Published April 26, 2011 by Mary Jane

Hello there, one of the daunting task for this particular Easter break was for me to start relocating my tomato plants and capsicum plants as they are growing so big now and they are crowding together too. I was rather hesitant to move them from previous experience when I tried to move one of my chilli plants to a new place it died on me 😦 I was a little devastated as it was one of the larger chilli plants…NO!!! So this time I made sure I listened to my father in law’s advise, when shifting plants to a new area, you must firstly dig a deep hole and soaked the soil with lots of water so the soil is moist and rather than digging the whole plant up and shaking excess soil off, dig around the plant and carry the whole lot of soil across to the new area. So even though it was a little tedious, I made sure I followed the instruction this time and carted all the plants across the new area. Once you have covered them up with moist soil proceed to water them lots….

So here’s a snap shot of my very proud vegie garden patch – they are growing very nicely…and soon I’ll be able to harvest some fresh organic vegies soon.. 🙂

climbing beans

climbing beans

Remember last time, I mentioned I tried to untangle these climbing beans so that they can all fit through the wires, well some of them died along the way but eventually the ones who have survived managed to climb themselves onto the wires without my ‘dodgy help’ and they are growing nicely, I’m hoping I would be able to harvest them before winter comes. Though my father in law told me there’s no way I will be able to harvest these beans as I have planted in a wrong season and they will eventually die when the cold weather hits in 😦 sniff sniff, one can only hope that our Perth weather stays a little warmer this year….

Chilli plants

Chilli plants

My chilli plants are flowering quite nicely and within next few weeks, I should be able to harvest some chillies – yum yum, I love my chillies…they are very green and healthy thanks to the cow manure and some veggie fertilisers which I’ve recently purchased from Bunnings…

climbing snow peas

climbing snow peas

Now these climbing snow peas ain’t climbing up much compared to my climbing beans but they are slowly moving their way up. My friend told me you could actually eat these leaves on it’s own. Then I was like, but if I eat these leaves there won’t be any snow peas coming out of it. She laughed..and said no you only eat them after you’ve harvested your snow peas. Oh!! (blush..) I see..that makes sense…

curly lettuce

curly lettuce

These curly lettuce are growing quite well, I’ve harvested them a few times already – except I realised I have planted all seeds together so they kinda looks like random weeds hehehehe oh well, at least they are edible…

Cucumber plants

Cucumber plants

These cucumber plants are quite huge with leaves and they actually take up alot of space too. These cucumber leaves are rather furry and sticky and if you’re not careful it seems like its going to scratch your hands. I was told by my friend that I could just let it grow and it will climb on the ground. However, I managed to put some bamboo sticks to tie the large stems as the leaves were quite large it was drooping.

Tomato plants

Tomato plants

tomato plants with some fruits

tomato plants with some fruits

The tomato plants have started flowering already and have grown so much from last time. Unfortunately it was getting rather crowded so I decided it was time to relocate them to a new area. I was surprised to see that even though the tomato plants were quite low they have started flowering and there were tomato fruits on them already – so cute…:-)

Capsicum plants

Capsicum plants

I have also decided to shift these capsicum plants from my small vegie patch to a bigger area as they’ve started to flower already and it’s getting a little crowded too. I’m really surprised that even though they were quite short looking it has started to flower already.

vegie garden patch

vegie garden patch

Now that I have shifted my capsicum plants over to a new place, it left some space which I decided to shift my only two basil plants left. I’m hoping they will survive as I know basil plants are rather weak and any movement to the new area might potentially kill it. I’m hoping that it won’t die as I haven’t had much luck with planting basil plants. Well, one can only hope – I just moved it this morning so I’ll wait for a few days and hopefully they will survive.

Now it’s time to harvest my salad mix…fresh yummy organic salad – it’s so rewarding to think you could just step out to your own backyard and harvest fresh vegies/salad for your lunch next day…
all the hard work is really worth it… they taste so fresh and crunchy…

Restaurant Review – Amuse (Perth)

Published April 26, 2011 by Mary Jane

Okies, for our 3 year wedding anniversary Pandabear and I decided to opt for Degustations now I know from experience there ain’t many degustration restaurants in Perth. So I asked a few of my friends where they could recommend nice Degustation restaurants. Behold here’s the recommended list – Jacksons, The Loose box, Star Anise and then there was Amuse. So I went online and checked all of these restaurants. The Loose box caught my attention except it was a bit of a drive from our place and they usually get booked out quite quickly and knowing me, I’ve left it to the last minute to make a booking for the restaurant. So that ruled out The loose box. Jacksons, I’ve been there quite a few years ago and didn’t quite have a great time as I recall the waiters/waitress were quite snobby and the service was just not up to scratch so even though friends have told me they are much better now…I’m still hesitant to risk our anniversary night. So that ruled out Jacksons. So that leaves only Star Anise and Amuse….we decided to opt for Amuse as the degustation menu looked rather interesting and the price was rather reasonable $125 per person food only and if you want to accompany matched wines it’s $70 per person additional.

So I made a phone booking and the restaurant owner rang to confirm our booking and asked whether we had any dietry requirements, I said no “we eat pretty much everything”. So for wedding anniversary gift, Pandabear and I aint into much of a surprise so while we were in Switzerland we decided to purchase a matching Calvin Klein Switz watch for our wedding anniversary gift. Pandabear isn’t into flowers as he believe it’s a waste of money cos they’ll eventually die anyways. So he printed some yellow roses on a piece of paper for me 😛

When we arrived at the restaurant, it was rather strange as the restaurants was converted from a house into a restaurant so from the outside it looks exactly like a house except it has a sign called ‘Amuse’. The decor of the restaurant is rather plain. A few paintings on the wall, white table settings and the walls are painted in dark grey colours which made the restaurant look even darker (maybe it’s kinda like a romantic atmosphere they are trying to create).

human photo of me

human photo of me

The restaurant is run by husband and wife team Carolynne and Hadleigh Troy. Carolynne runs the front end of the restaurant and Hadleigh is the head chef in the kitchen. Anyways, the waitress/waiters were rather friendly – they sat us down to our table and our first course for the night was some interesting snacks on a stone board.

The waitress would describe the snacks to us – but I couldn’t exactly remember what they were, I was starving..and wanted to dig into the food straight away. All I could remember, there were bread sticks wrapped in prosciutto, some deep fried calamari rings, cinnamon tasting sticks, some savoury donut looking balls, some marinated shrimps on this thin crisp. Overall, I did enjoy our snacks they were rather interesting and tasty. We decided to order some mocktails.

Our mocktails were rather refreshing. If I remember correctly – Pandabear had some orange, apple and carrots mocktail and I had the cranberry, raspberry and mint mocktail. The waitress started off by bringing us some sour dough homemade bread in a stone bowl. I thought it was rather fancy that they sat the warm sour dough homemade bread in a stone bowl to keep the bread warm as the stones were heated up in the oven first. What a clever idea…

Our first official main course for the night was Crab, finger lime and sea lettuce. Interesting presentation. It was nicely balanced and quite a refreshing dish, I could have more of it for sure…

crab, finger lime and sea lettuce

crab, finger lime and sea lettuce

Our next dish was Beetroot, coffee and cocoa – when I heard this I knew straight away that Pandabear isn’t going to like this dish as he’s not a ‘beetroot fan’ the waitress was really thoughtful when she described what we were going to have she noticed Pandabear’s facial expression so she offered to change his beetroot dish into heirloom tomatoes instead.

Beetroot, coffee and cocoa

Beetroot, coffee and cocoa

Heirloom tomatoes, coffee and cocoa

Heirloom tomatoes, coffee and cocoa

Look the presentation of this dish was fantastic the chef was trying to create a mini vegie garden with beetroot growing out of the ground where the cocoa/coffee were representing edible soil. The colour combination was fantastic with some edible flowers and honey comb biscuits to give that extra crunch. However the flavour combination was not quite there. The cocoa/coffee was overpowering and the dish was a little bit on the sweet side for my liking. So I didn’t quite like this particular dish. It was interesting but not really tasty…as for Pandabear, he said he didn’t quite like his dish either so that makes the two of us…

Our next dish was Snapper, scallop and samphire – a seafood dish…

Snapper, scallop and samphire

Snapper, scallop and samphire

This dish was rather nicely done, the scallop was nicely seared and the snapper was perfectly cooked – tender and juicy and it went really well with their sauce…I really liked this dish..

Our next dish was pork, skirt and cucumber and I must admit it was one of my favourite dish for the night. The pork skirt was really tender and flavoursome with a nice crackling for a crunch effect and it was nicely complimented with marinated cucumbers for salad. Overall, the flavour was nicely balanced and I enjoyed it very much 🙂

Pork, skirt and cucumber

Pork, skirt and cucumber

Our next dish was Mushroom, hollandaise and egg yolk. The presentation for this dish was beautiful except the fact that this dish kinda reminds me of a brekkie dish and seemed rather out of place as it’s not usually served as a main course but rather it should be on a brekkie menu instead. The taste of it was ok, nothing spectacular.

Mushroom, hollandaise and egg yolk

Mushroom, hollandaise and egg yolk

Our next dish was Lamb, shallots and eggplant. Now out of all the meats, I dislike lamb as it usually has a ‘lamby taste’ but this particular dish they have marinated the lamb very well so I was able to enjoy this lamb dish. The colour combination for this dish was beautiful, it went really well with the sauce now as for the crust for the lamb cutlet – it was a rather odd black powdered crust which made the dish tasted a little on the bitter side, which kinda ruined it a little bit.

Lamb, shallots and eggplant

Lamb, shallots and eggplant

Then it was time for a pallet cleanser dish – Roselle, lemonade and bitters sorbet…

Roselle, lemonade and bitters

Roselle, lemonade and bitters

That concludes our main course for the evening so it was time for desserts. Our dessert dish is Mandarin, guava and passionfruit. This particular dish’s presentation was fantastic, when the waitress brought it to our table all you could see was this large blob of fairy floss and then he carried some mandarin juice and pour it in and it melted some of the fairy floss and you could see strips of guava and passionfruit inside the dish. What a clever idea, the taste combination was fantastic – I really enjoyed this particular dessert dish.

Mandarin, guava and passionfruit

Mandarin, guava and passionfruit

Our next dessert dish was Pistachio, chocolate and raspberries. The colour combination was fantastic, all you could see is each component distinctly placed together on a plate and you could notice which ingredients you were eating. I also enjoyed this particular dessert dish…

Pistachio, chocolate and raspberries

Pistachio, chocolate and raspberries

Then our final dessert dish arrived – Petit four, by that time both Pandabear and I was struggling to fit any more desserts into our tummy. There was lychee flavoured sugar squares, some truffle chocolates and marshmallow drops. To be honest they were all a little too sweet for my liking and maybe cos we were pretty full so by that time the desserts weren’t as tempting as the other ones..

Petit four

Petit four

Here’s my rating:

Dining experience: 4 star
Food experience: 3.5 star
Would I recommend it? Probably, for it’s dessert dishes

Overall, we were ok with this particular restaurant from all the awards they have won we really had a higher expectation when we stepped into the restaurant. Some dishes were quite nicely done but others were a little strange or should I say interesting for our liking. The dessert dishes made up for some of the savoury ones but it certainly didn’t give us a ‘wow factor’ in terms of its taste but rather the presentation of the dishes were excellent and it did created a ‘wow factor’ when the waitress brought out the dishes. Overall, the customer service was excellent – dishes came quite quickly and the waitress seemed to know what the dishes tasted like and were rather friendly too.

Happy Easter :-)

Published April 26, 2011 by Mary Jane

Hello Bloggy friends, long time no post…sorry I’ve kinda neglected my blog lately. I’m so glad we get to have 5 days Easter break to catch up with my various chores. I managed to clean and declutter my store room and did an ‘autumn’ clean of my house. I went to Bunnings to purchase one of these insect bombs, I was kinda scared and didn’t know what to expect but once I set it going I quickly shut my outdoor store room and ran…2 hours later, I opened the door and wow…it’s rather toxic inside the store room so I decided to leave the door open and ventilate. Had my mate Ezza over for lunch who kindly helped me cut up boxes so now I have 2 very full bins awaiting for the garbage truck to come over and empty them out.

Apart from ‘autumn cleaning’ we had our 25th Anniversary dinner at our church and there were quite a few activities happening which included Good friday service and some outings which I wasn’t able to make it. I’m so glad my mummy is coming back this Wednesday – hooray, that will relief me abit from cooking for my younger sister.

So how was everyone else’s Easter break? Oh, I also received quite a few Easter eggs and random soft toys from one of those skill testers machines. I never believed you could ever catch any of the soft toys but my colleague proved me wrong, he managed to catch 2 of the soft toys and now I’ve inherited them and they are sitting my desk. I was so happy that day, yes – I’m easily amused…so there’s lots to catch up with my posts so stay tuned…

Skills tester shop

Skills tester shop

My new soft toys

My new soft toys

chocolate collection from work

chocolate collection from work

My Vegie Garden Patch – It’s growing!! It’s growing!!

Published April 11, 2011 by Mary Jane

Hello Bloggy friends, yes I must apologise for the inaction with blogging lately as you know I live a hectic life and often times it’s a luxury of turning my Mac laptop on and typing away at night when all I want to do is veg out and sleep 🙂 So here it is anyways. I’ve been very proud of myself that so far most of my vegies are growing great – these cow manures, mulch and soil really works and my brick laying garden bed is supporting the growth of my seedlings. So here’s a snippet of some of the my vegies that are growing quite well…

My string beans – I couldn’t believe it just a few weeks, I’ve planted them with seeds and now literally they are starting to climb their way up the wires. I did try to untangle them as they got a little out of control hehehe but then some withered away as I have accidentally snap their stems..ooops..

String beans continue to grow – I’m so proud of them!!

My chilli plants were also doing quite well. They got a little crowded so I moved one of them but it didn’t survive – I realised what I should have done is dig a deep hole and hose lots of water down so that when I move them the roots would still be soaking wet rather than shifting them to a dry ground and covering them up with soil and then water it down. So One chilli plant died 😦 but the rest are still doing well though 🙂

Then it was snow peas which I’ve also planted from seeds – and they are all growing quite nicely bunched up together. I have a feeling they are going to tangle themselves together cos I didn’t leave enough spaces between planting the seeds. Oh well, at least they will be all snuggle up 🙂

Then there was some lettuce which I also planted from seeds and unfortunately cos the seeds were really tiny I kinda just sprinkle them in a whole lot so I’m not sure how crowded it’s going to get with them growing bigger and bigger hehehehe

I also planted some tomatoes not from seeds but I bought them as seedlings from bunnings. Tonight as I was watering them I noticed they were flowering already – hooray 🙂 which is rather strange cos they are still so short looking and there’s already flowers on them…oh well, not that I’m complaining I hope I’ll have some fresh tomatoes soon. I also ran out of room to plant them so they are kinda all squashed together too 😦

Time to check out my very own garden brick bed – the rockets are doing extremely well – I even started harvesting some for my salads – but there were quite bitter, but I was told bitter vegies are good for your health so I’ve started eating them with canned tuna and it’s quite tasty 🙂 The carrots were also growing, I’m not sure when I should harvest them though…then most of my basil died…sniff sniff I have never successfully planted basil but tonight as I was watering my garden bed I noticed that 2 basil plants have survived – yay 🙂 I’m hoping I’ll be able to harvest some fresh basil leaves soon…then most of my coriander died too except for two of them…for some strange reason these two plants seemed to have survived through the harsh conditions, I’m hoping with their strong survival skills I would have plenty of basils and corianders -they are two of my most favourite herbs 🙂

Then there was capsicum plants and lettuce. The capsicum plant is doing quite well and the lettuce (there are two types of lettuce) were also doing quite well and I started cutting the leaves so I could have some of them with my bitter rockets! Yummy…

Here’s the harvesting of my rockets…Mighty fresh and mighty delicious!!!

So…that’s all folks, my wonderful organic small vegie garden patch…