Monday, September 1, 2014

Rose-shaped Apple Tart

I can't believe we're in September already. Time has flown by so quickly, but I ain't complaining because I LOVE SPRING!!

The late Robin Williams once said spring is nature's way of saying "Let's Party!" and I cannot agree more!

Spring is my favourite season of the year. With sunny, clear blue skies, beautiful blooms, brighter days... What more can one ask for?

It is gloomy and rainy today, but I am ever so thankful for the great weather that Melbourne has blessed us with over the weekend.

The Boyfriend and I headed out for lunch, went out for walks, and whilst The Boyfriend did a bit of house chores and ironing, I decided at the very last minute that I wanted to bake.

The Boyfriend doesn't have a lot of baking ingredients just lying around at his place, so I had to look around the kitchen to see what I can find, so as to decide on what to make.

5 ingredients and an hour later...

A full bloom rose-shaped apple tart! I am so so very pleased with how it turned out. It is very beautiful, isn't it? *beams gleefully*

Quick & Easy Apple Tart
Recipe by The Bakeanista; Serves 10
  • a sheet of puff pastry
  • two red apples, cored then thinly sliced 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • lemon juice from half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp butter


Method
  1. Core and thinly slice both your apples. I recommend either Jazz Apples (my fav!) or Pink Lady apples.
  2. Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Thaw puff pastry sheet.
  3. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add apples, followed by sugar and lemon juice. Give it a good stir until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  4. Let the apples simmer away in the mixture for 5-8 minutes until it is soft enough to shape them.
  5. Remove the apple slices from the syrup and allow to drain in a sieve. Leave the syrup kept aside.
  6. Your puff pastry should now be a little flexible for you to shape. I laid the pastry sheet onto baking paper, then placed it into a round cake tin just to give it a nice round shape.
  7. Once your pastry is shaped, remove pastry and place on baking pan. If you can manage to shape the pastry free-handed, by all means do so.
  8. Your apple slices should be cool enough to handle now. Lay out the apple slices, starting from the outer layer and overlapping as you go to form a nice base.
  9. Roll the remaining apple slices to form the rose. I shaped it from the inside out.
  10. Brush the apples with a thin layer of the sugar syrup then bake for 30-35 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and golden brown.
  11. Remove from pan immediately and place on a serving platter.
  12. Serve warm with a food sprinkling of icing sugar, or with vanilla ice cream.
I brought the tart to dinner with The Boyfriend's family and they all loved it. Everyone commented on how beautiful it looked. :)

It wasn't extraordinary, but I heated it up a little in the oven for 5 minutes and served it warm. I was pleasantly surprised at how satisfying such a simple tart could taste.

It would have been perfect with vanilla ice cream, but we had to make do without. I'll definitely make this tart again, and make sure we have some ice cream to go with it.

Alrighty, I'm ending this post with this shot I took of the gorgeous Magnolia tree at full bloom at The Boyfriend's uncle's home.

Happy Spring, everyone! (:

Friday, August 29, 2014

Shizuku Ramen

I don't know about you, but I'm struggling to keep up with the ever evolving Melbourne food scene.

So many new restaurants and cafes popping up like mushrooms after the rain, and a lot of new trends too.

There was the K-food trend, donut trend, hot dog trend, froyo trend, yeah you get the drift... and now there's a ramen trend.

I used to think Sydneysiders were so lucky to be blessed with so many good ramen places. But watch out Sydney, we're slowly catching up! ;)

There are a few good ramen places in Melbourne now, and amongst them is Shizuku Ramen. Shizuku Ramen, as its name suggests focuses on ramen and, for alcoholics, you'd be please to know, craft beers too.

Shizuku Ramen offers a wide range of drinks for those who like their beers. ;) The Boyfriend and I, we're both totally boring awesome. We had soda. Calpis soda for me and Blue Hawaii soda for The Boyfriend.

We kick started dinner with these beautifully fried karaage popcorn chicken. The friendly Japanese wait staff very kindly put this dish forward as a recommendation which I am ever so grateful for.

It was very delicious. The batter was fried to a crisp perfection, and the meat was oh-so-tender and juicy - big thumbs up from us both.

And of course, we had to try the ramen. I love my gyoza's, and definitely could not go past the gyoza ramen.

Those gyoza's were good, and tasted quite like the ones we had in Japan. But I wasn't too sure about the broth, which plays as one of the most important part of the dish.

The Boyfriend, on the other hand, had the shoya ramen, which he enjoyed. "Pretty good", were his words, as he continued to slurp on. Clearly, The Boyfriend was enjoying his meal more.

Don't get me wrong, it was good and I did enjoy my bowl of piping hot ramen, but let's just say it wasn't the best I've had.

The ramen noodles had a distinctive chewy texture, but the broth, lacked some kind of a kick - what I'd call the "oomph" factor. I found the broth rather tasty, but lacking the richness I was expecting.

We then moved on to dessert. The Boyfriend had the almond tofu pudding while I settled for the espresso pudding.

The almond pudding had a very strong almond taste - and it's up to individual preference whether you like it or not. The Boyfriend didn't mind it, but I wasn't a fan.

The espresso pudding on the other hand was pretty good. I liked it, but The Boyfriend thought it was nothing out of the ordinary. We can be quite different sometimes, hey?

For those of you who love craft beers, you'd probably enjoy Shizuku Ramen more than we did. They have an impressive drinks menu and I'm sure you can all find something you like.

Shizuku Ramen on Urbanspoon
Overall, we thought the food was beautifully presented and although not the best ramen we've had, was still pretty good. The wait staff were very friendly, and for that they deserve extra bonus points.

If you're fan of ramen and beer, Shizuku Ramen is your go-to-place, especially on a Friday night. It is an ideal place to kick back, relax, and have a cold one after a hard day's work.

Thank you David for the invite, and to the staff at Shizuku Ramen for the great hospitality. I'll be back for more of the karaage fried chicken!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Frying Colours - The Korean Eating Place in Kensington

I love that there are more and more Korean restaurants opening up here in Melbourne. I reckon every suburb should have at least one good K-restaurant, at minimal.

I've heard so much about the "Korean Eating Place" in Kensington - Frying Colours for a while now, but haven't had the chance as yet. So, when an opportunity came up for me to head down West to catch up with my ex-colleagues at Frying Colours, I jumped at it!

I loved the fit out of the place, it was very industrial-like and I liked the idea of having an open kitchen up the front with the menu display sitting right atop.

We decided to start with some quick bites and sides such as wasabi-slaw as per recommended by the wait staff, whilst the 3 of us indecisively peruse the menu.

I was thrilled to find kimchi and pork homemade dumplings on the menu. I last had it in Korea and loved it.

And may I say, FC also make really good ones. The owner, Min, mentioned that they make their dumplings fresh every morning.

The dumpling skin was SO silky smooth, and the filling so very tasty. I wished I didn't have to share. I wanted the whole plate to myself!

Amidst all the chatter that was going on, we did manage to finally decide on what to have. The two of them weren't big sharers, and wanted a dish to themselves so we did that.

Mr. D loves his spice. He adds chilli pepper flakes to everything. So of course he could not go past the Super Spicy Cheesy Chicken Sizzle.

And as its name suggest, it was indeed a plate of sizzling goodness - nothing quite beats the combination of spicy, cheesy, and tasty.

I had the flame-grilled beef scotch fillet which I thought was nothing to shout about. Whilst I appreciate how tender and juicy the meat was, I felt it lacked the "oomph" in flavour.

The meat had a nice subtle smoky flavour from the char-grill, but I guess I was wanting more. I was craving K-food so much that I wanted a burst of flavours in my mouth, and this unfortunately did not deliver that for me. But of course, this is my issue.

The flame-grilled pork belly that Miss S had on the other hand, was AMAZING! The pork was chargrilled to perfection and each bite was packed with flavour. I was having food envy!

And because I wasn't quite satisfied, I suggested that we share a plate of fried chicken. They both agreed, with a condition that they'd go for it only if we have it with spicy sauce and I thought heck, why not!

It wasn't as spicy as I thought it'd turn out to be. In fact I felt it was more like sweet chilli than spicy. But I think I would have preferred the original version.

Frying Colours on Urbanspoon
All in all, a pleasant experience at Frying Colours. Ambience was fantastic, service was friendly and although there are some room for improvements, the food was overall pretty good.

So yes of course, I'd return again... but mainly for the dumplings. Actually, just GIVE ME THOSE DUMPRINGS PLEASE! One whole BIG plate would be amazeballs. :P
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