Thursday, December 30, 2010

Home Made Beef Burgers (and Brioche Bun) with Parmesan Truffle Fries

        Guess who's back from holidays? Me of course. I've been back for a few days now but have been either busy spending time with the boy (away from the 14 other people who were on holiday with us) and helping to paint his room, or have been cooking for my sibblings because Mum and Dad have flown straight to Vietnam after our family holiday. In between all of that I have just been resting, a holiday from my holiday before I head back to work. I'm just thinking about the mega back log of posts I have and also the 2500 holiday happy snaps I have to sort through... oh dear. Oh and not to mention catching up on my blogs to read too!

        Well being the eldest of 4 I have been left in charge of the household. First thing we did when Mum and Dad were gone was to go grocery shopping. And try and figure out what we were going to eat for the next few days (and weeks). I had a request from one of the brothers for burgers so tonight was burger night. I really do love a good burger and most times when I've had to pay for one I seem to be left slightly disappointed. Dry patty, soggy fillings or bun, sometimes overpowering ingredients too. How could you go wrong with something so simple like a burger?

        Originally I was just going to go buy either some hamburger buns or bread rolls to make things easy but our pantry is absolutely stocked with yeast that is all about to expire so I thought I could 'quickly whip up' some bread dough before I head to Ryan's place to do some more painting. I googled for a hamburger bun recipe and after some clicking and browsing I settled on a light brioche bun recipe found via tastespotting which was from Honey and Butter, which was adapted from Smitten Kitchen, which was adapted from a recipe on The New York Times from Hidefumi Kubota of Comme Ça restaurant, Los Angeles.

        I end up slightly adapting the recipe again. It is really only a light brioche because you don't use as much butter as you would a regular brioche hence it isn't as rich. I find that this works perfectly for a burger bun. I probably shouldn't have flattened my balls of dough so much either because the brother was asking me where the burger bottoms were, these were the whole burger buns I told him. Oh and make sure when you leave the dough to proof the first time to use a nice big bowl, I went out and came home to my dough seeping out of the plastic wrap coming down the side of my bowl - but then again I don't think I was meant to leave it for that long.

Light Brioche Buns
• 3 tbsp. warm milk
• 1 cup warm water
• 1 sachet dry instant yeast
• 2 ½ tbsp sugar
• 1 ½ tsp salt
• 1 large egg
• 3 1/3 cups plain flour
• 2 ½ tbsp unsalted butter, softened
Egg wash
• 2 egg yolks
• 1 tbsp milk
·  Sesame Seeds

1. Place milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt and egg in the bowl of a mixer and mix on low until well combined. Add  flour and mix on low until the mixture comes together and is slightly tacky. Add the butter and mix until combined.
2. Change to a dough hook and work dough on low for about 8-10 minutes until dough comes away from bottom of the bowl. It will still be slightly tacky but you don't want the dough too dry.
3. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap then leave in a warm area to rise until doubled in size. This should take approximately 1-2 hours (or even 3), depending on how warm the room is.
4. By now the dough should have expanded and is very airy. Punch down the dough and quickly knead until it all comes together again.
5. Pre heat fan forced oven to 200 degrees celcius. Turn dough onto lightly floured bench and divide dough into 8 portions and roll into balls. Place on lined baking tray and cover with a tea towel until doubled in size again - approximately 1-2 hours.
6. For egg wash, beat together egg yolks and milk and lightly brush the buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place a pan with boiling water at the bottom of the oven.
7. Place tray in oven and bake at 180 degrees celcius for 15-20 minutes rotating tray half way through cooking.

        The best thing about home made burgers is that you can customise them according to your own liking - or whatever ingredients you have on hand. Or you can have them simple and plain. Just remember to use quality ingredients, good flavour combinations and don't overcook your patties!

Beef Hamburger Patties
• 1 kg minced beef
• 3 tbsp chopped onion
• 3 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
• 1/2 cup breadcrumbs soaked in milk, made from day old bread
• 1 egg
• 1/2 tbsp salt
• 1/4 tbsp sugar
• 1 tsp ground pepper
·  2 tbsp olive oil
Optional - This is where you can chop & change to your own accord
• ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
• 2 tbsp dried parsley (or 4 of fresh)
• 1 tsp paprika
To serve:
• Lettuce
• Tomato
• Fresh pineapple. grilled
• Cheese of your choice
• Sauce or relish of your choice
• Anything else you want in your burger

1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined.
2. Shape into patties and heat some olive oil in a pan until hot.
3. Place patties into pan and cook until well browned then turn down heat. Once patty is half cooked through turn heat to high and flip the patty to brown the other side. Turn down heat and cook through.
4. Set patties aside for a few minutes to rest while assembling the burgers.

        You can't have burgers and not have fries on the side! I was half way through cooking some when the brother poked his head into the kitchen and asked if I was making fries too. Of course I was! However these wern't your average fries - some grated parmesan cheese and a few dribbles of some truffle oil and you have the most scrumptious fries ever! These were first encountered when Ryan and I went to try out Charlie & Co. Burgers at the new Westfield Sydney. Fries just arn't the same anymore without some parmesan and truffle oil!

        So my burger layers were: bun bottom, almost melted cheese (unfortunately the sibblings eat the plastic Kraft stuff, I forgot about the other cheeses I just bought in the fridge), lettuce, juicey beef patty, tomato, grilled fresh pineapple, bbq sauce and then bun top. The brother was wanting a burger with the lot so I had to fry up some bacon too, but then he skipped on the egg because he thought the burger would be too hectic to eat. The can of beetroot we had remained unopened. Seriously the best burger and fries I've ever had!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2nd Annual Sydney Food Bloggers Christmas Picnic

        So today I attended my first food bloggers event. Third time lucky I say, as I missed the Nuffnang sydney food bloggers meet up which was Chocolatesuze's birthday in July and also the food bloggers Mad Hatter Spring Picnic in October. I've always been quite nervous about attending these events because I am generally quite a shy person and not all fond of meeting strangers, especially on mass. Luckily for me I had already met some other bloggers before this event which meant that it wasn't quite as daunting as it could have been attending the picnic. For some others though it was pretty much their very first time attending this type of event.
        This was the second annual food bloggers picnic organised by Grab Your Fork and Chocolatesuze - top stuff guys! There were about 60 odd bloggers who turned up out of the 80 or so who registered so it was quite a big gathering. I only follow a handful of blogs at the moment and meeting so many new faces means a whole heap more food blogs to add to my reader list. It was also great putting faces to blogs that I am already following, and also nice to see familiar faces aswell.
        The awesome thing about a picnic with food bloggers is the abundance of great food! There were no typical supermarket roast chooks and tubs of coleslaw or potato salad. The only downside was that there were more sweet dishes than savoury dishes which meant alot of leftovers to be taken home. And if you wern't quick, some of the popular savoury dishes all disappeared really fast.
        I tried to take a photo of all the dishes but after a while I just wanted to eat! Nah there really was too much there to photograph (and eat). I can say I did manage to sample most of what I photographed but after so many sweet items I had to stop or else I might have just gotten a little sick. Please feel free to let me know if I got anything wrong, there's only so much I can remember in this little brain of mine, especially after such a jam packed day of eating =p.

        My cupcakes of course - orange, pistachio and cardamom. I was really worried that the buttercream would turn into a puddle overnight so popped these into the fridge, not the smartest idea as the buttercream turned into a stiff frosting. Not that that's a bad thing but it changed the texture overall. Also definately brang too many along to the picnic, too many other sweets to compete with.

        Tomato and basil tartletts by Helen - Grab Your Fork. Me being the ever so punctual person I am rocked up to pick her up earlier than I said I would so she had to finish them off when we got there. Totally didn't get to try them out but the basil smelt so good while I was watching her finish them off.

        The cutest things ever! Strawberry Santas by Ayana - Oh Ayana. Totally missed these because everyone was after Santa!

        Little green meringue christmas trees by Jacq - Penguin Says Feed Me. Took one home with me, will get to it tomorrow =).

        Erm can't say I knew exactly what these were but they were quite scrumptious. By Sara and Josh - Belly Rumbles.

        Lemon, thyme and honey chicken drumettes - Sara and Josh - Belly Rumbles. I loved all the flavours here.

        These little cheesecakes were pretty good. There's a chocolate brownie base with a Peruvian fruit flavoured topping (Gaby you'll have to correct me here). It was quite light, almost mousse like. By Gaby - Lateral Eating. (Edit: Fruit is called lúcuma - I will probably never remember this but it was nice).
        Not sure what these were filled with and I don't know who made them either =( nor did I get a chance to try them. They are adorable though! (Edit: These were mini chocolate christmas puddings made by Vivian - vxdollface)

        A gorgeous little chocolate Christmas tree! Which everyone was too scared to break apart. By Lisa Perkovic.

        How cute are these? Little Elf and Santa cupcakes. Okay my memory is bad here... I remember speaking to the person, I know what she looks like however name and blogname I am at an utter lost =(. (Edit: Made my lovely Kimberly - Kayb's Cakes)

        Not sure what these are and who made them and didn't get to try one either =(.

        Dumplings by Obese Wendy - Obese Baby. Had one of these before they disappeared.

        No idea here but I will say a brie/camembert cheese with a jam of sorts, walnuts and served with lavosh. Was quite an enjoyable combo. Again, great with faces, bad with names I'm sorry =(. (Edit: Correction - Brie with Cranberry Sauce and walnuts served with lavosh by Georgia - Bakery Bookery).

        Cute little mint flavoured Christmas tree marshmallows. Took one home for later. By Steph - Raspberry Cupcakes.

        Saw these cute little mini quiches but never managed to snare one. Not sure about details here I'm sorry =(. (Edit, these were little mini salmon quiches by Clarissa - Eat My Shots).

        Same here, looked great though. (Edit: These were spring mango and pistachio fudge with fresh rose petals by Sneh - Cook Republic).

And again, such a fish memory.

        Okay, this turkish delight is totally awesome! I tried the pink rosewater one and it was just sooooo good. Though it was quite sweet and the piece was huge so I couldn't quite finished it, it was too good to throw away so Simon helped me cover it back up in icing sugar and wrap it up for later. (Edit: These were from Melanie and Dave - The adventures of Miss Piggy).

        We pretty much all went quiet when this lovely lady walked in with this masterpiece. And the cameras all came out.

        The piece de resistance - a home made macaron tower, in various flavours too! Adriano Zumbo eat your heart out! They looked the goods and tasted pretty good too. (Edit: made by Cleony - i eat sweet

        Apple, walnut, cinnamon and olive oil cupcakes. I was worried about not being to finish a whole large cupcake so passed on these. They did look delicious but not sure who made them.

        Yumyum! Fried white chocolate wontons (edit: these were filled with a pine nut and rosemary praline) by John - He Needs Food. Sooo good!

        Keftedes, Greek Beef Meatballs, yummo! By Giana and Demos - The Empty Fridge.

        Don't know who made these but they were a welcome item in amongst all the sweets. Chicken Rolls - pretty tasty, I had 2 halves!

        After all the eating is done, time to sit (roll) around and socialise for a bit.

        Let the food blogger olympics begin! Race to see who can use chopsticks to pick up all the soy beans and put them in the other bowl first.

        Blind fold taste test. They got it pretty easy, cucumber and sunflower seeds.

        Last challenge was the 'plating and food styling' challenge where the nominated person in the team would have to use whatever leftover food there was and creatively plate it all up and have a photo taken of it and then posted on to twitter.

        It's Kris Kringle time! It took us a while to get through everyone especially with all the stealing of presents backwards and forwards. Unfortunately for me I decided to pick a gift and picked an item which I happened to already have at home (Women's Weekly Cookie recipe book).

        The one and only photo that does not include any food. I did want to take non food photos but got too lazy or caught up just mingling with people. All in all a great day was had, plenty of good food eaten, and I went home and did it all over again by going out to dinner.

        As you all know it's the silly season of the year and crazy stuff happens. I've been eating out, trying new places, been busy in the kitchen, baking and building my own gingerbread house etc etc which explains the recent lack of blogging. I'll also by flying out of the country this Friday with family to New Zealand for a about a week so there's heaps keeping me busy before then. I most likely will not be blogging while on holiday though twitter and facebook may be my only form of sharing all things food related. I've been trying to keep my facebook fanpage active with things in between posts so 'like' my page to keep up to date in between blog posts and you can also follow me on twitter too.

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Willy Wonker Factory aka Georgiou's Confectionery (25th September)

        Would you believe it if I told you I had my very own Willy Wonker factory in my neighbourhood? Okay so it doesn't have Oompa Loompas and a chocolate river but it's pretty much a sweet fantasy land where you could get lost for hours and hours immersed in sweet sweet memories thinking about all the candy you ate as a child.
        This Willy Wonka like factory is called Georgiou's Confectionery. They are a confectionery wholesaler but also sell direct to the public. This place is pretty easy to miss, a big brown unassuming building on a main road where you could possibly have driven past day after day and not known what was beyond those walls. Just like in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 'Nobody goes in, and nobody comes out'. Okay that part is a lie.

        As you walk in the front door (watch your step, a few steep climbs up) instantly you are hit with the strong aroma of chocolate and candy. Towards your right is where the front counter is. There are displays of bulk foil wrapped chocolates and other bits and pieces of sweet things. Towards your left are nice pretty displays stacked full of chocolates and biscuits and the like. It was only September and there were already Christmas gift boxes on display. It takes a while to slowly take in everything - it is quite overwhelming when you first walk in.
        This is only my second visit to this place in all the years that I've lived in the area. As soon as I stepped through the front door I remembered why it had been so so long since my last visit. I just wanted to buy/eat everything in sight.

Ohh look giant sherbet straws!

Ohhh - Willy Wonka Golden Tickets!

        There were bins with Hershey Kisses and Reese's candy on special, couldn't resist picking some up.

        At the back of the factory there's 2 aisles fully stacked on either side with all the candy that you can imagine, going higher than your head. Split into small bags and also available in bulk. I can say that as a child I had sampled almost all of the types that were available. Redskins, frogs, toffee apple lollipops, milk bottles, everlasting gobsmackers, loveheart lollipops, gummi bears along with  the all time favourites and things like chocolate coated nuts etc. 

They also stock alot of popular brands in bulk like Allen's fantales, minties, jaffas etc.

Ohh Flying Saucers! Took me back to the Heston Blumenthal episode.

        My real mission for this visit was to track down pop rocks - I didn't need a whole rocket full though and managed to nab the last bag of 8 little packs they had for $2. I was so intent on tracking down pop rocks that by the time I bought them I couldn't even remember what I wanted them for. Didn't matter though because Ryan got to most of them and was content eating the pop rocks as they were. We sure had fun going down memory lane with those.

        Back to the front 'store' section I was also excited to see that they also stocked all the American import items too. Had no idea what to do with them at the time though so didn't buy anything from this selection.

        Ohhh pop tarts, it has been yonkers since they stopped making them. Was keen to try a couple of these American ones, just for the sake of memories.

        So this is what I came out with at the end of my visit. I really did feel like a kid in a candy shop, oh wait - I WAS a kid in a candy shop. It was a fun time going down memory lane with all the candy but I think I need to avoid the place - for the sake of my sugar levels. The fact that it's within walking distance from my house (10 minute walk) is very dangerous but self control has prevented me from going nuts.

147 New Canterbury Road, Petersham NSW 2049

Hours of Operation:
Monday 8:30am - 4:30pm
Tuesday 8:30am - 4:30pm
Wednesday 8:30am - 4:30pm
Thursday 8:30am - 4:30pm
Thursday 8:30am - 4:30pm
Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm
Saturday 8:30am - 4:30pm
Sunday 10:00am- 3:00pm
*Only open on Sundays 4 weeks prior to Easter, and 8 weeks before Christmas.
Georgiou's is closed on public holidays, but open on Good Friday.
Closed at 12:00pm on Christmas Eve, but we are still open for coach bookings.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Black Forest Birthday Cake - For the future MIL (28th October)

        It was that time of the year again, Ryan's mum's birthday. I knew I wanted to bake a cake for her birthday already but this year she actually asked me to make one for her birthday party - and wanted to pay me for it too. There was no way I wanted to take money from her for something I wanted to make as a gift anyway. The idea of baking a cake to impress the future mother in law was tough enough already but add on about 25-30 odd guests (whom I know all have very high standards - and expectations of me too) made me really nervous. Ryan suggested that maybe I could make cupcakes if that would make things easier for me.
        Luckily though, her original party plans fell through and the alternative venue charged an absurd amount for cakeage (plus there was a dessert buffet anyway) so his mum cancelled the cake and I was somewhat relieved of the impending pressure. I still wanted to bake a cake for her anyway as a present and in a way was glad that I could make a smaller cake.

        Ryan's mum loves black forest cake. I made the same cake last year for her and it went down a treat. I wanted to try a different cake recipe this year because the one I used last year was a little too dense for my liking. I was a little cocky and decided to make up my own recipe - bad mistake. It ended up being a little on the dry side (possible overbake though) and was a little more dense than I had hoped. I also baked them as two smaller cakes so that it would be a bit easier to sandwich them together. I didn't really have time to remake the cake so I was hoping the kirsch and cream would make up for the less than impressive chocolate cake. Next year I might just have to find a sponge recipe to work with.

As last year I used morello cherries for the filling.

        The cream filling is simply made by whipping/beating some thickened cream with a few cups of icing sugar.

        I brushed on some kirsch on the flat sides of the cakes before doing the cream filling. Rather than spreading the cream onto the cake and then putting the cherries on top, I mixed the cherries into some of the cream and sandwiched the two layers together to give a more even spread of cherries and cream.

        The cake was then covered completely in the cream. I speant too much time trying to get the surface as flat and even as possible.

        Two perfect decorating short cuts. A pack of glace cherries and a tin of Lindt hot chocolate flakes.

        I don't know if there is a certain trick to getting the chocolate to stick onto the sides but I pretty much grabbed handfulls and slapped them onto the side in hope that they would stick. Made me realise that I wasted so much time getting the sides smooth when it didn't really need to be because the chocolate covered it all up and even unsmoothed it all. I did try tipping the cake on it's side but found that the cake started sliding off so that was a bad idea. The chocolate ended up all over the table and also melted on my hands and fingers - finger licking good after I was done =D.

        With the remaining cream I piped some cream flowers around and popped a cherry into the centre of each. For the writing I just melted some dark chocolate melts in a small plastic bag and cut the tip of a corner off and quickly piped the writing on.

        I was a little worried because I knew it was a little on the dry side and was glad I didn't do this for the party. So I arrived at Ryan's after work and he had kindly picked up the cake from my house before I got there to save it travelling too much in the heat. As soon as his mum saw me she was like 'You shouldn't have, you know we can't take it to dinner right?'. I said 'it's a present for you, your favourite'. She then proceeded to go through a few cake names and eventually guessed black forest. Probably a good thing because next year I can make something different for her birthday.
        As with last year I didn't get to try my cake. Ryan did say that both he and his mum though it was a dense cake and a touch dry but the cream did help. 'Why didn't you soak it in more of the kirsch?' - because I didn't want to overpower the cake silly. Well, it couldn't have been that bad because Ryan said his aunty absolutely loved it and when he went for another slice the next day he was sad to see that it had all disappeared.