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An Extravagant Breakfast – Truffle omelette

>> Thursday, July 30, 2009

It’s official. Truffle season is on again.

An Extravagant Breakfast – Truffle omelette

When I received the reminder email from Duncan, who ran the Perigord Truffles of Tasmania, I realize how quick a year has passed. This time last year was the period of our wedding preparation which was rather hectic. Could you believe that I had 600+ guests in the Vietnamese ceremony, most of which I had not met before? (They are guests of my parents and my grandparents). But of course there were lots of sweet moments, too, especially those with family and loved ones.

I first cooked with truffles last year, and it remained an amazing experience. This year though, things are a bit tough. To be honest, with the current economic conditions and a brand new mortgage, I gotta learn to control my shopping behavior (which has been rather extravagant).

One piece of good news is that the price of truffles has not changed. So if you can afford them, do not hesitate at all. Truffles are real treasures, so do share with your loved ones since a little goes a long way. Try this black truffle risotto or the simple egg omelette below.

For Australians, you can mail order Tasmanian truffles from here. Alternatively, head to Simon Johnson store to pick up black truffles from WA.

Eggs in water

Truffle omelette

Recipe from Australian Gourmet Traveller. You can get two decent serves out of this.

Ingredients
3 eggs
2 tbsp cream
20 gm unsalted butter
20 gm fresh truffle, thinly sliced

Method
* Using a fork, lightly whisk eggs and cream in a bowl and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground white pepper.
* Melt butter in an 18cm non-stick frying pan over medium heat until foaming, add egg mixture and cook for 3-5 minutes, using a fork to push edges into centre of pan and allowing uncooked mixture to run to edge of pan, or until base and edges are just set.
* Add truffle slices in the last 30 seconds of cooking and remove frying pan from heat. Stand for 1 minute, then fold omelette over, transfer to a plate and serve immediately.

I am sending this entry to Weekend Herb Blogging. The host of this week is Anna from Anna's Cool Finds. Please head to her blog for the round up!

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A moment in life #27

>> Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I live because I believe...
Photo: Somewhere in the middle of Sydney and Melbourne

A thought that I had today :)

I am having a cold (again!). Not nice at all since there are a lot of things to do and I am set to travel down to Melbourne tomorrow. Gotta get better soon hopefully. I have been home since this afternoon sleeping in my comfortable bed. Now I am having a nice cup of Japanese green tea (the kind that has roasted rice in it). Very aromatic and so warm.

Have a nice Wednesday my friends!

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The love for baking and Daring Baker’s July Challenge

>> Monday, July 27, 2009

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies with Toasted Coconut




After a week of glorious weather, Sydney experiences the rain yet once again. My friend S., who enjoyed the rain tremendously, talked eagerly about her lovely walk to Miss Macquarie chair. In the rain I mean. And how I wish I had joined her then. I feel the need of some refreshment, some new nourishment. Lately, emotion and stress have been running high. And at times, I feel really drained. But inspiration always comes, in different forms, if we wish for it. I have been deeply touched by a book, full of spiritual insight and reminder. In life itself, there is a lesson about love and rebellion that I need to learn. The hard way…

Baking, meantime, has been a therapy for me. I have been baking quite a bit of late, and re-reading my collection of baking books, visiting wonderful blogs, imagining different of things I can make. It’s really not about taking nice photos or making the best cake but sharing with others, family and friends.

Naturally enough, I joined Daring Bakers again. This month challenge is wonderful. We set to make Mallow (chocolate covered marshmallow cookies). These remind me of my favourite childhood treat, Chocopie. I have not eaten these in ages!

Making these cookies was not really hard, but did involve quite a bit of step. I involved my sister and Mr.B to help me. It was such a fun session since my sister managed to create a lot interesting shapes.

As for the Mallow, I have added some coconut extract to the marshmallow. Toasted coconut at the end gives the cookies lovely decorative touch and texture. The only thing is my cookies are thicker than usual thanks to the help of two novice bakers (sis + Mr.B). Never mind, the best part is to share the workload, right?

The cookies themselves, without marshmallow and chocolate, are real keeper, too. Not too sweet, just enough richness to keep things interesting. I imagine these would be really lovely with some winter tea, too.

Here is the recipe for those are keen. My baking notes are at the end.



Mallows(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)

3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together
• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350F oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

Homemade marshmallows:
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites , room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract + 1tsp coconut extract

1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and coconut and continue whipping until stiff.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

Note: 1. Put dry coconut in the oven for a few mins to toast it before sprinkling onto the chocolate glaze.

2.I also did a deconstructed version of Mallow to serve as plated dessert. Not the best photo (I was running out of time). Delicious nonetheless. :)

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies - Plated version



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Winter strawberries

>> Friday, July 24, 2009

Winter strawberries

Big, red, juicy and flavoursome strawberries in winter.

These lovely strawberries are from Queensland. Their flavours are really delicious. I must admit that I prefer these to the summer varieties, which can be a little tart to my liking.

You may notice that I have changed the layout of this blog. I am still in the process of fixing and editing things. After a few years of blogging, my blog is a big mess (just like my PhD corner!). Nevertheless, the main content has been organized so far. I hope you like this new look!

I have a new feature, too. Inspired by Haalo, who runs a calendar for Melbourne Farmers’ Market, I have created a Google Calendar for Sydney Metro Farmers’ Market. The calendar is displayed at the bottom of the blog or you can access it here. Feel free to use it and contact me if there are any errors. I hope we can make efforts to support our local farmers!

Back to my kitchen. My baking craze is on once again. This time, I have joined the wonderful and enthusiastic Vietnamese bakers for a monthly baking challenge. All the information is on this site (it’s in Vietnamese, of course). So I am calling all passionate Vietnamese bakers to join us for extra fun and unforgettable friendship.

Winter strawberry cream cheese tartlet

The challenge for this month is Strawberry cream cheese tart. If you know me well enough, fruity tarts are my favourite things and I have made quite a few before. However, much to my horror, I failed miserably this time around. The challenge crust recipe was a bit different from the ones I have tried in the past (very minimum chilling time). My crust melted and became as flat as cookies in the oven. I should have trusted my gut feeling to chill the dough more. So I started again with cold butter and went back to the old-fashioned way, and things worked just fine.

The tartlets turn out nicely. I am quite fond of the custard-like cream cheese filling. Its richness compliments the beautiful flavours of my strawberries. Mandarins are also in season with lovely sweet notes, so I have added a few segments to the tartlets.

Fruity tartlets. And nice golden days in the middle of winter. What more can I ask?

Winter strawberry cream cheese tartlet

If you are looking for the recipe, unfortunately, as part of the challenge, I cannot display it here. Just email me, I will gladly post the recipe to you.

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Hump Day Happie…

>> Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A question was raised. What is hump day?

“A reference to making it through to the middle of the work week as getting "over the hump."”

Source: Wiki

I am back to work this week…

And I forgot my passwords to log into my PC and emails on Monday. Literally, my memory went blank.

We have to change our passwords every month. How many passwords can I create and remember?

Time to calm down...


It's like forgetting the words to your favorite song


A recent photo. Taken during a sunset at Surfers Paradise in Gold Coast. It reminds me of the notion of memory, of those moments we tend to forget but can come back to us anytime.

And the girl in red is my beloved sister. She’s a cutie, isn’t she?

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Wholesome bites

>> Friday, July 10, 2009

Free-form Black Sesame Tofu Biscuits

A thought struck me the other day. As adults, we spend the majority of our time working. For some people like me, add on study, and time seems to disappear.

In my field, women are so rare. Sometimes it feels like “it’s a man world…” But well, as the lyrics say “But it wouldn't be nothing, nothing without a woman”. Those women who “survive” the toughness of the industry are not only intelligent but also have some special quality of confidence and ‘dominance’ in them. I know we are always talking about equality between male & female nowadays. However, let’s face the fact that in certain roles, women do face tougher choices than men. A lot of my friends (and myself), we do have hard choices to make. And at times, support from friends and family means a lot more than recognition at work. So, if your female friend or partner is working hard, give her a hug and encouragement. It means a lot!

Back to the main theme of this post, the featured ingredient is black sesame, which is richly in flavours. Black sesame seeds are higher in minerals then the lighter variety. In Asian belief, black sesame is known to nourish blood and strengthen kidney and liver. Words of caution though, try to find the real rustic black sesame seeds. Avoid the shiny ones, which are dyed black.

Black sesame seeds

Today I am pairing these wonderful seeds with another healthy ingredient – tofu. The recipe is an unusual one; I am making black sesame tofu biscuit. The recipe is inspired by a popular Korean snack which my flatmate Sunny has kindly shared with me.

I have used organic whole-wheat flour instead of regular flour. It might be a bit harder to work with whole-wheat flour (the dough is a lot stickier). I go crazy and do a lot of free-form shape. The result is really nice. The biscuits are crunchy and have that nutty wholesome quality I’ve been looking for.

I am sending this entry to Weekend Herb Blogging. This week is hosted by Cheryl from Gluten Free Goodness. Please head to her blog for the round up :)!

Free-form Black Sesame Tofu Biscuits

Free-form Black Sesame Tofu Biscuits
Ingredients (made quite a bit of biscuits. A small lunch box full)
200g tofu (I used the semi hard one, silken tofu may work well)
1 egg
1.5 cup and a little more whole-wheat flour
4 tbp sugar
3 tbp black sesame seeds
½ tsp baking powder
1 tbp sesame oil
2 tbps unflavoured oil (soya or corn oil)
1tsp salt
Method
Mash the tofu. Place it into a colander and put over a bowl for 30 mins to drain as much excess water out as possible.
In a bowl, mix flour, mashed tofu and all other ingredients together until well-combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
In a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out as thin as possible (it might be hard with the whole-wheat. Just be patience and pat the dough out as you go). Cut into bite-sized shapes.
Place the biscuits onto baking tray , which has been lined with baking paper. Bake in preheated 180C for around 15-20 mins (see notes). Cool on a rack and store in air-tight container.

Baking notes:
* When baking these biscuits, do check our oven after 15 mins of cooking. It requires a bit of trial to get the right crispiness. Remember that whole-wheat flour tends to brown quicker as well. I think I baked mine for around 17-20 mins, but it also depends on your oven.
*You can try different flavours. I am thinking to make a savoury version with sesame and roasted seaweed.

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