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Society of Penny’s Cartooned Friends
Stuff I’ve already done
On Saturday I decided to bake a cheesecake. I’ve never made one before so why not?
Here’s what you’ll need, for those playing along at home.
250g plain sweet biscuit crumbs
125 g butter, melted
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup caster sugar
750g cream cheese, softened
3 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/4 cup lemon juice
Preheat oven to 160C.
Lightly grease a 22cm springform tin. Mix biscuits crumbs and melted butter together in a bowl and using a glass, press into bottom and up sides of tin. Refrigerate for one hour.
Beat eggs and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixture until thick and pale (about 10 minutes). The more you beat them, the lighter the cheesecake will be.
Add cream cheese, lemon rind and juice to eggs and beat until smooth and creamy (about 5 minutes).
Pour mixture into prepared based and bake for about 45 minutes.
Allow to cool in oven with door open, then refrigerate for several hours, or overnight if possible.
Slice and enjoy. Decorate with cream and strawberries if you have them.
Winter has set in with a vengeance here. It’s been so cold that I have been wearing boring trousers and cardigans to work almost every day. So I didn’t manage to save any shoes this week, but I did save two dresses. However, I also bought one dress which did not really help my cause.
I have also been baking again, this time I made chocolate chip and raspberry muffins. Dead easy and so tasty.
Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that I got my long-awaited-for KitchenAid Artisan Mixer? Well, I thought the four-day Easter weekend would be the perfect opportunity to give it a good road test. So I made a six-layer neapolitan cake. And oh boy was it good.
I took my inspiration from Sweetapolita‘s Neapolitan 5-Layer Birthday Cake, and tweaked the design ever so slightly. I made mine six layers (well, why wouldn’t you?) and did vanilla frosting instead of strawberry. That was just too much pink for me.
I made a standard chocolate cake, an angel food cake, and then discovered I didn’t know how to make a strawberry cake. So I found Rosie’s Stawberry Layer Cake and used that recipe. Mine turned out not quite as pink as hers, but it’s definitely strawberry flavoured which is the most important thing.
And then the frosting. Sweet baby cheeses, who knew it could be so hard? I decided to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream ( I blame Rosie – I was using her cake recipe and it just seemed to make sense to use her frosting recipe too). So I measured out the 4 million eggwhites and 35 cups of sugar, chopped the 18 kilos of butter, and began. Getting the sugar to dissolve in the heated eggwhites without cooking them was the easy part. When I put the bowl in the mixer and started whipping the meringue, I very quickly realised that actually, my bowl is too small and I was in danger of there being a river of meringue running through my kitchen. No problem, I split the mix into two and kept going.
The first batch turned out perfectly. I filled my cake layers with it and it looked like this:
Which as far as I’m concerned was a good start. Then I tried to whip up the second batch of buttercream. I tried for three days straight. Eventually, I gave up and tipped it out. All those egg whites! All that sugar and butter! But it was beyond saving.
Since I’d used almost all my available eggs and certainly wasn’t going back to the shop for more, I had to use a different frosting for the outside of the cake. So I made this recipe I found on Tasty Kitchen, and it’s strange because it has flour in it but goddamn it’s good! It is known as That’s The Best Frosting I’ve Ever Had. And it is awesome.
And then my cake looked like this:
And then when we finally cut into it last night it looked like this:
And the world rejoiced at the gloriousness of it all. As did I.
You really need to try the berry yoghurt, or the blood orange, or… actually you need to try them all. Except the salted caramel. Because that’s my favourite and I want them all.
Macarons courtesy of Shocolate in Brunswick St, Fitzroy.
For those of you waiting with great excitement to hear about the progress on the renovations, the meeting with the builder has been put off til next Monday. Hmpf.
That title might be a bit misleading. There is no cooking involved in this recipe. Well, sort of.
Anyway, here are the ingredients you’ll need to make Mars Bar Slice.
195grams Mars Bar, chopped (I think the American version of Mars Bar is the Milky Way bar, according to Wikipedia. Whatever you use, caramel must be involved.)
120 grams butter, chopped
3 cups Rice Bubbles
200grams milk chocolate
You can use whatever brand of chocolate you want, this happens to be the best one available here. Also, I used four Mars Bars, minus one bite (for quality testing, you understand). My original recipe calls for three 65g Mars bars, but they have shrunk since it was written and are now 53g each. So I use four, minus a bite 🙂
Melt the mars bars and 90grams of the butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until all melted. Mix in three cups of rice bubbles and stir to combine properly. Press mixture into pre-greased brownie or slice pan. I just use Canola cooking spray, because I am lazy. It works perfectly.
Note: mixture will be hot. Try not to burn your fingers like I usually do.
Next, combine chocolate and 30grams butter over double boiler, or do what I do and use a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. None of that fancy equipment here!
When completely melted and combined, spread chocolate over rice bubble mixture. Depending on the size of the pan you use, it might be quite thin, which is perfectly okay.
If you are more fussy than me, you can attempt the make the chocolate really smooth. I can’t be bothered (see note about laziness).
Refrigerate for at least one hour. Turn slice onto chopping board and cut into appropriately sized pieces. My pan, which is rectangular, makes approximately 20 pieces, but you could get more by cutting them smaller.
Eat and enjoy. You should store them in the fridge, but I find they are nicer to eat when they have softened up a bit, so I take them out a few minutes before I plan to eat them. Which doesn’t always work, obviously. It’s a very easy recipe and, fridge time aside, only takes about 15 minutes to do.
This week, after being sick on Monday and Tuesday, I recovered sufficiently to go out a LOT and eat a LOT.
Thursday night I went out for dinner with a couple of friends and we ate at Alpha Ouzeri – which doesn’t have a website – but it’s a greek restaurant and the food is delicious. The staff are friendly and we had a great time. Friday I had lunch with someone I used to work with, we went to Shark Fin Inn and had yumcha. Friday lunch at Shark Fin is insane! But the food was good.
Last night the boy and I went to our favourite restaurant, Rockpool. Instead of stuffing myself like I normally do, I decided to go with three small entrees for my dinner, and what a winning idea that was! I had sushi, then the boy and I shared a plate of Joselito Iberico Jamon (mmmm…. like melting butter in your mouth), and then I had king prawns with goat cheese tortellini. I did have to have dessert too, I had the hazelnut macaron and banana icecream sandwich.
And just this morning I’ve had breakfast with another friend, we went to Tom Phat and I had a delicious plate of poached eggs with bacon, mushrooms and avocado. I love eating breakfast.
So, to clarify: when you get sick, go out and eat. I’ll be spending the rest of the weekend on the couch in my sleepy pants. Don’t call me; I’ll call you if I need anything.
p.s. We are heading off to Indonesia next weekend. Very excited.
p.p.s. In case you’re wondering (Barb), for dinner at Rockpool I wore the purple shoes at the top right in my header.
Wow, it’s been a while since I updated here. I think I was too caught up in the AFL finals, which resulted in my team – Collingwood – winning their first premiership in twenty years. It was magnificent.
This weekend was flat out. Friday night I had dinner with friends at Vue de Monde – actually Cafe Vue – because they have a cocktail night where uber-chef Shannon Bennett invents five cocktails and then five tasty plates of food to accompany them. Totally delicious. Sorry, no photos, didn’t even think of it. I will make the ultimate sacrifice and go back again armed with my camera.
Saturday was Grand Final day, so my dad came over to watch the game and there was much cheering and yelling. It was an amazing game and an even more amazing win. I have already watched the replay once, and I plan to do that a few more times.
Saturday night a couple of friends came over for dinner, which was lovely. We ate and drank and talked lots; the perfect way to spend an evening.
Sunday the boy and I decided to go for a drive, we went to Hanging Rock as neither of us had been there before. It was just gorgeous but I must be getting old because I forgot to take my camera with me again.
Here’s a photo of a golden pheasant to make up for it.
What’s the saying? Red in the night, shepherd’s delight. Red in the morning, sailor take warning.
Thankfully this was tonight’s sunset so hopefully that means we’re in for a nice day tomorrow.
Last night we went on a date 🙂 Dinner and a movie. We ate Thai food at Lemongrass then went to see The Road.
This is not my favourite film. The more I think about it, the more I think it was a very, very good film. BUT it was dark and depressing and a little confronting. There were also some mild horror elements which caused me to not sleep so well last night. Obviously it got to me. Viggo Mortensen was wonderful as The Man. If he hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar, he should be.
I much preferred No Country for Old Men by the same author but if you’re in the mood for some serious end-of-the-world storytelling (as opposed to that crap film 2012), you should go see it. Be prepared to feel uncomfortable.
Okay, I know I’ve been away a few days but I promise there’s a good reason. This weekend we went to Sydney. Not just for the hell of it, although that would have been a good reason because I forgot how nice it is to visit Sydney. But we went with a specific purpose. You see, we had booked to go on a scenic flight of Antarctica. Yes, you read that correctly. Antarctica. And tomorrow, when I have finished going through the photos and editing them for public viewing, I will show them to you. But for now, I want to talk about dinner. Yes, when I’m not buying shoes I’m eating. Obsessed, me?
Anyway. When we knew we were going to Sydney we thought we should go out for a nice dinner. So I rang Tetsuya’s for a reservation, only they were booked out. This was FOUR months ago. So I asked some Sydney people for a recommendation, and I was told to try Quay. So to Quay we went, because they were very happy to take my booking. And oh my, was it worth it.
Quay has been voted Restaurant of the Year in Sydney for the past two years by Australian Gourmet Traveller, among others. We had high hopes.
We arrived at our scheduled time of 7pm, and were escorted up the stairs to our table. Overlooking the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Wonderful. We ordered a bottle of champagne (Louis Roderer Cristal, for those keeping track) and considered the menu. I had a hard time choosing what to eat, but here were my selections.
I apologise in advance for the quality of the photos. They were taken with the iPhone in the dark.
For entree, I had the Sea Pearls.
Tuna sashimi, aquaculture caviar, sea scallop, smoked eel, octopus, mud crab and abalone. Sounds unusual. Tasted amazing.
For second entree, I had the Five Tastes of Lobster.
Don’t even ask me what was in it, but the little pot on the right (above) had lobster consomme with lobster flavoured custard underneath. Not a clue how they did it. Delicious.
For my main meal, I had Crisp Pressed Duck Confit.
Words fail me. Sensational.
For dessert, I had something called the White Peach Snow Egg. Don’t ask me, I was intrigued by the name and just had to try it. So glad I did.
That white thing in the middle? A crispy shell covering peach flavoured meringue with some sort of icecream (yellow, so it looked like an egg) inside. With peach granita and something else, I don’t know because I’m not a chef and clearly not a great food writer either.
All I can tell you, is that if you go to Sydney and you want to eat some sensational food in a beautiful setting, go to Quay. It will be so worth it.
By the way, I wore my Louboutins and I definitely had the best dressed feet there. Seriously.
It reached 38deg C today. So we’re celebrating new year’s eve like this.
And you have the perfect way to ring in the new year.
Since here in Australia we’ll reach 2010 before most of you, I’d like to wish every one of my friends a happy and healthy 2010. Here’s to many more years ahead. Cheers!
Now, I know it’s the silly season and I know eating is a part of that, but come on people. I have been out to lunch every single day this week so far. Given that it’s already Friday, that’s a LOT of lunches.
Monday: just had lunch with the boy, but we went to a sweet little Vietnamese place in Collingwood. I had rice paper rolls and wontons. Yummy.
Tuesday: the Chair of the Council I work for took us out to lunch. To Vue de Monde. Definitely the best lunch I have had all year.
Wednesday: a leaving lunch for someone retiring from my workplace. We had chinese food at Bamboo House. It was excellent and I’d go there again. The Peking Duck was brilliant.
Thursday: back to Coconut Palms the vietnamese restaurant again, with a couple of friends from work. This time I had rice paper rolls and wonton soup! I’m such a rebel.
It’s finally Friday and although I am not going out for lunch today, I will be joining the boy at his work christmas party after lunch. So I might eat a sandwich or something for a change. Tomorrow I have a haircut then I can spend the rest of the day at home, wrapping christmas presents.
Sunday: my folks and my sister and her boyfriend are coming for christmas breakfast. We are hosting this under duress. I will explain why, next week, once I get over it.
footnote 1: can anyone tell me where 2009 has gone? In my mind, it’s only about August. I am so not ready for it to be 2010 yet. Although, that means we are closer to our big holiday which is great.
footnote 2: I was playing smacky paws with Huffle last night and I am now sporting a very large scratch that goes all the way up the inside of my ring finger. It hurts a lot. She won.
It’s been a busy weekend in Tracey land and I am very tired. Just as well Monday morning isn’t too busy this week.
On Saturday I went with some friends to have lunch at the new house of one of the girls. In the country. One hour’s drive from me. It was nice but why in god’s name anyone would want to live that far from civilisation is beyond me. And the children of one of the friends were there. They are exhausting and I did not have as good a time as I would have if they weren’t there. I don’t have children for a good reason: I don’t like them.
Anyhow, we left home at 11am and got back at 6pm and I was exhausted.
Sunday morning the boy and I went for a trip to Borders to buy some books. Here is my pile:
You may be wondering why I haven’t read Bridget Jones’s Diary before. Well, I have. I loaned the book to someone and never got it back. It’s one of my favourite books, WAY better than the movie (someone, please just stop Renee Zellweger from ever “acting” again and I will be happy) and I am going to enjoy re-reading it over my christmas break.
I have read another of Marina Lewycka’s books, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I’m looking forward to that one. Janet Evanovich writes greatly entertaining and silly books about a female bounty hunter in New Jersey; perfect christmas break reading. I think the Eva Hornung book came out some time ago but I just noticed it and I’ll let you know what I think.
So after the excitement of getting all those books (plus a cookbook as a christmas present for one of my friends) the boy couldn’t find the book he wanted (something about visual design of information, buggered if I know what he’s on about) so we had a coffee and went home.
Then I headed out again to meet a friend for dinner and a movie. We saw New Moon. And we went to the gold class cinema which is definitely the way to go. I have long legs and it’s nice to have a seat where you have enough leg room. And they bring you food if you ask. My friend did order a glass of wine and a coffee before the movie, to be brought in at specified intervals, but they never showed up so she complained and got her money back.
The movie? Was okay. Maybe I’m getting a bit old but the teen angsty Edward really annoys me, and he needs to turn his head sometimes or else he’s going to get a crick in his neck. Bella is a self absorbed whiney angsty girl. I can’t wait til they grow up and get over themselves. I think that happened in book four. So I’ll look forward to the movie version of that one. Still, this movie was way better than 2012, and if you liked the book a lot you probably would enjoy the movie.
After all this we met another friend for dinner at Borsch, Vodka and Tears, a “modern Polish” restaurant. My whole family is Polish so I’m well aware of what Polish food is; stodgy and tasty! Anyway after a vodka cocktail which contained any number of tasty ingredients that I can’t remember now, we had delicious food and it was very very good. I’ll have to tell my parents about this place; I’m sure they’d like it too.
And now it’s Monday morning and really, can I just go back to bed please?
I don’t know if you’ve ever bothered to go and have a look at The Pioneer Woman’s website. Having only recently discovered it, I now read it daily. Ree is funny and smart, and a great cook. She’s even recently launched her own cookbook. I don’t usually bother trying recipes I find on other people’s websites or blogs, they often don’t interest me. But ages ago I bought some tortillas and they’d been sitting in the cupboard for a bit, waiting for me to get inspired and use them. When I saw Ree’s recipe for White Chicken Enchiladas, I knew I had a winner.
Then I got all inspired to try and be a food photographer, because you know, I don’t take enough photos every day as it is.
So here is my chicken, bubbling away merrily to cook the chicken and make the required broth:
And here are my chopped onions, and chillies, except they weren’t chillies they were capsicums (peppers) because apparently I can’t read, so pause for a moment for an emergency trip to the shop to buy a heap of chillies. That pause also gave me the chance to stop crying after chopping all that onion.
Here are my two-and-a-half cups of shredded chicken. At least, I think it’s two-and-a-half cups. It’s hard to know exactly what two-and-a-half cups of shredded chicken looks like.
After that I forgot to keep taking photos, so all you get to see is one semi-eaten plate of the most delicious chicken enchiladas EVER.
There were so good, we ate them again the next night.
Ree used green chillies in her recipe, but I don’t like THAT much heat in my food so I went for the safer option. Next time, I might be a bit braver and use half green and half red chillies. Because there will definitely be a next time!
And if I’m going to keep up this food photography lark, I need a bigger kitchen, more appliances, and better lighting. Just saying.
Last night, I went out for dinner. I know, on a Tuesday! Can you believe it? Anyway, one of these friends is moving to Perth this weekend, and this was our last chance to catch up before she left.
Three of us had arranged to meet at 6pm at Longrain. It’s a Thai restaurant with a modern twist. Or something. I am allergic to peanuts so I try to avoid asian food as much as possible. The likelihood of asian food being cooked in peanut oil is too high for me to risk eating it. Clearly, I did NOT choose Longrain for dinner. But anyway.
I was a bit early, having spent the previous hour shoe shopping (more on that tomorrow). So I settled in at the bar with my vodka/lime/soda and played games on my iPhone for 15 minutes, waiting for the other two to arrive. Only I waited a lot longer than 15 minutes. It was more like half an hour. And I was not half an hour early. I was slightly annoyed by the time they showed up but I am nothing if not charitable and we were seated for dinner.
As previously mentioned, I am allergic to peanuts and sadly, 90% of the menu items had nuts in them. This left with me approximately three choices. I chose duck and sweet chili something-or-other. It was tasty but I had ignored the disclaimer in very small letters at the bottom of the menu which said that they could not guarantee that any dish would not contain traces of nuts. Wonderful. That explains the splitting headache I have this morning.
Oh and did you know that at Longrain, you can’t have your own table? No, they believe in communal dining and made us share a table with another group of three. What a crock. If I don’t know these people from a bar of soap what makes you think I would want to have dinner with them? It’s selfish and lazy.
I will not be going back to Longrain.
It’s been a busy week in Tracey Land. Not that I’ve done anything terribly exciting.
Sunday two weeks the boy and I went to the Press Club for dinner. It’s named so because the restaurant is in the old home of one of Melbourne’s daily newspapers. The food is greek and wonderful. We thoroughly enjoyed the meal, but the service was a little slow. Ah well, I guess you can’t have everything in life. Or do I expect too much?
Last weekend we went and saw the latest Harry Potter movie. Not worth the hype.
I visited some friends of mine on Sunday, who’ve just had a new baby. He’s quite cute but oh the screaming! He only screamed for 5 minutes of the hour I was there and I was ready to scream myself. I don’t know how parents do it. This is why we don’t have children.
Yesterday I had lunch with friends at Fifteen. This is one of the Jamie Oliver chain set up to help underprivileged kids who want to become chefs or get into the hospitality business. An admirable idea. Sadly, the food was a little lacking. I had pasta stuffed with ricotta, spinach and mushrooms, topped with fried sage. I couldn’t eat half of it because it was too salty. And I asked for one glass of sparkling mineral water and they charged me for a whole bottle. Pffft. Now you all know that I like to eat out and I am not averse to paying for a good meal but this place does not deserve the hype. Don’t bother.
Today the boy and I went to see the John Brack exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. I was surprised how many people were there, and also at the number of pictures he painted and drew in his time. I really liked the early work, but not the later stuff. This is one of his pictures that I really like:
Tune in tomorrow for pictures of the nearly complete yard! All that’s missing is the plants and they’ll be done this week. About time too.