Monday, March 26, 2012

Sushi Cross Stitch

I have a confession to make - I'm obsessed with tea towels! Not only do I buy a lot of tea towels (I bought around 10 in New Zealand), I also buy ones with cross stitch panels so I create my own... pretty hardcore right?! Not sure why I need so many since we do have a dishwasher...

I finished this sushi cross stitch over the weekend from Anne Sohier-Fournel's Japon Au Point De Croix. I had intended to add "Sushi Roll" in Japanese which my friend Andrew had so kindly translated for me, but I ran out of room because I had so much fun stitching the sushi.

Below are some tea towels I've stitched over the years .

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Peggy Porschen's Sugar Cookies

I made sugar cookies from Peggy Porschen's "Favourite Cakes and Cookies" cookbook on Saturday and I got to used the paddle attachment on the KitchenAid so I was pretty excited. Hey, don't tease, it's about finding pleasure in everyday things...

To make the cookies, cream 200g of butter with 200g of caster sugar with zest of a lemon (optional). Add 1 egg and 400g of plain flour and mix until just combined. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Roll out dough and cut out pretty shapes - I use daisy and butterfly cutters. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before popping them in the oven (at 170*C) for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. The cookies are yummy on its own but the fun bit is decorating them!

I've been keen to use royal icing to decorate biscuits but didn't like the idea of using raw egg whites to make the icing. I found a recipe that called for powdered egg white but it was rather dear when I found a small tub at Essential Ingredients. Since it was my first attempt I settled on Queen's Royal Icing which you mix with water.
Even though I followed the instructions on the pack, it was a bit tricky getting the consistency right because this is what happens when you don't add enough water...

...and this is what happens when you add too much water! Errr, of course I did this for demonstrative purposes only!

This is what happens when you get the consistency right!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cheats Asam Laksa

On the rare occasion that I return to Malaysia for a holiday (sorry Grandma!), it always amuses me when the locals ask how much things cost in Australia compared to Malaysia. With a foreign exchange rate of around A$1 = MYR3.3, a bowl of laksa, at the minimum is around MYR40! For MYR40 you could have a hawker feast at pasar malam which is a million times better than an Aussie style laksa! An "Aussie laksa" is pretty much noodles (of various kinds) in a curry soup (spices used are questionable but the soup is red and appears to be chili based) with ingredients like barbecued pork, snow peas, broccoli and eggplant...yep, not exactly authentic but you take what you can get!

Since I have spent most of my life in Melbourne (80% to be exact), this is how we make asam laksa (tamarind based) at home. Below is mint, red chili, julienned cucumber and sliced red onions. We didn't have any galangal left, but if we did, we would have taken it out of the freezer and sliced it thinly.

To prepare the laksa soup, buy either frozen laksa paste (pictured below) or packet paste which can be purchased from Asian grocers. We usually make the soup with canned sardines in tomato sauce (it's convenient, you can't taste the tomato and won't choke on any stray bones) but we used boiled fish this time which need to been defrosted, deboned and flaked. Place fish in the soup.

Although fresh laksa noodles are available, we usually buy dehydrated rice noodles which need to be boiled. Place the noodles into a bowl with the mint, chili, cucumber and onions and ladle the soup into the bowl.

Aunty Jenny once commented that I don't cook anything Asian, so here you go - a relatively quick way to prepare Aussie style laksa at home!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hummingbird Bakery Angel Food Cake

Attention, attention! I've finally found a cake recipe that doesn't use butter or oil (aside from the cholesterol lowering spread that I greased the tin with)! The Angel Food Cake from Hummingbird Bakery's Cake Days contains 10 egg whites (not sure what to do with the 10 egg yokes) cream of tartar, icing sugar, plain flour, vanilla extract, almond essence and lemon zest.

I love our KitchenAid mixer as the egg whites were beaten into soft peaks in no time. I couldn't wait to try a piece (as you can see I've already taken a few bites before I took the photo below). The cake was springy with a hint of vanilla and lemon (couldn't taste the almond I'm afraid) and it was a little dry - but this is having your cake and eating too!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


 photo IMG_0120_zps0b0dc55d.jpg

I have a large collection of craft books and magazines (not even going to count the display books filled with patterns) but I've only really looked at the books rather than make any projects. As a new year's resolution, I'm aiming to make at least one project from each book.

Since I have heaps of origami paper and a pair of sharp scissors, I discovered how fun kirigami (Japanese paper cutting) is. I bought this kirigami book by Yaguchi Kanako many years ago and finally sat down and started cutting! The book is in Japanese but the patterns are easy to follow. Well I cut out six different patterns so that's six different projects right? I may have fulfilled my quota for the year!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spiced Green Pea & Potato Pasties

We should have three day weekends so I can fit more fun activities in during the week. Mum and I made Spiced Green Pea and Potato Pasties on Labour Day from the Women's Weekly Pies Savoury & Sweet cook book since the Butter Chicken Puffs turned out well.

The original recipe requires the following ingredients but we omitted the thyme and used Borg's vegetarian puff pastry from Leo's.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium brown onions (300g), thinly spliced
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Moroccan seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 medium potato (200g) chopped coarsely
  • 350g butternut pumpkin, chopped coarsely
  • 2/3 cup frozen peas
  • 5 sheets shortcrust pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds

1. Heat oil in pan; cook onion and sugar, stirring, about 15 minutes or until caramelised. Stir in seasoning, garlic and thyme. Cook until fragrant.
2. Meanwhile, boil/steam/microwave potato and pumpkin, and allow to cool. Transfer to mixing bowl and add onion mixture.

3. Preheat oven to 200*C . Line oven trays with baking paper.
4. Cut 10 x 13cm rounds from the pastry and spoon 1/3 cup of mixture on each round, brush edges with egg. Bring pastry edges together to form a semi circle. Pinch edges together to seal. So not to waste, I cut out heart shapes from left over pastry.
5. Place pasties on tray, brush with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned lightly.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Jamie Oliver's Pomegranate Soda

We bought a few pomegranates for Chinese New Year as it is considered auspicious as it symbolises good luck and abundance. We made a thirst quenching drink from Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals cook book. Just fill a jug with soda water, ice cubes, pomegranate juice, lemon (we used lime) and sprigs of mint. Ahh, just what you need on a warm Autumn's day!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Japanese Yuzen Chiyogami Washi Paper

I bought a sample of Japanese Yuzen Chiyogami Washi paper from CraftyJapan many months ago. The seller lives in Kani-Shi, Gifu Prefecture which is close to a paper making town in a Japanese countryside which would be a perfect place to visit! The closest I got was Kyukyodo, a spectacular stationery shop in Ginza which was filled with a wonderful range of beautiful paper that I almost sobbed with delight. I didn't buy anything because I couldn't pick one item as everything was amazing.

I still send cards for special occasions as emails and sms are just not the same. I like the ease of electronic communication, but I'm always delight in sending (and receiving - hint hint!) something via snail mail. I also make book marks from the washi paper because I prefer to read books with real paper and ink (I've run out of shelf space so the purchase of an e-reader is inevitable). I use decorative edge punches and scissors and neaten edges with quilling paper.