marissa-40th-80s-rule

I Love the 80s – 80s Themed Birthday

Hello my friends… hope you’re all well.  This is a rather long, photo journal type post and more of a personal post than normal since some of my family members are in the photos.

Do you love the 80s?  I do I do!  While I was born in the early 80s, some might say that I would be a child of the 90s, but I beg to differ.  I would prefer to listen to 80s music any day over the music from today – well, okay, maybe not all of today’s music.  But there’s just something so fascinating about the 80s which is why I love it so much.  Okay, not to get too nostalgic, but come on, how could you not love to hate those daggy shoulder pads, leg warmers, hair spray (tons of it), big hair, synthesizer music, Back to the Future, Breakfast Club, Karate Kid (my fave 80s movie! Go ahead, laugh).  I can go on and on about this non- stop :p

What did or do you love about the 80s?

Anyway, the reason I’m blabbing on about this era is because last Saturday, we celebrated my sister in law’s 40th birthday and it was an 80’s themed party.  I was so excited when they told me about this because I’d get the chance to dress up and listen to 80s music all night long.  Yay!

Heh, I tried to edit the photos to make them look like they’re from the 80s. That’s my little girl on the left there sporting “short” shorts over her grey leggings complete with leg warmers.  The leg warmers were an old pair of socks where I’ve chopped the toe parts.  That’s me on the right complete with fingerless gloves, Adidas fluoro warm up jacket and Nike air max.  Of course you’ll need to complete the look with a sideways ponytail.  Hubby wore a decepticon printed shirt under his other collared shirt (we couldn’t find an autobot printed shirt- yes, we are totally with the autobots).  Transformers, the original cartoons of course, was a fave of ours back then.

On with the food.

Fried Rice. Yes, we asians love our rice!

Chicken Curry.

Embutido.  These are rolled meat loaf.  For my recipe, click here.

Spring Rolls.  For easy, basic and step by step spring rolls recipe, click here.

Crispy Calamari Rings!  Couldn’t help but take one every time I walked past it.

Chicken BBQ.  Fresh off the BBQ, these were sooo good.  Thanks for the awesome BBQ-ing skills from some of my in-laws. :)

Lumpiang Sariwa  – “Fresh Spring Rolls”.  The pastry is made of very, very thin crepe.  This is then filled with lettuce and sautéed mince and crispy vegetables – potatoes, carrots, beans.  It’s topped with crushed peanuts and is accompanied with a garlic brown sauce – soy sauce, sugar, garlic and corn starch.

Cake pops!  Freckle, speckled star cake pops.  Especially made by a close and dear family friend.

Cassava Cake.  Cassava is a starchy type of root.  You can read more about it here.  This is a very popular Filipino dessert,  unfortunately, cassava is not readily available at any asian or green grocer.  As far as I know, they are only available in Filipino grocers.  It’s not a very sweet dessert, but because it’s starchy, it’s on the heavy side.  If you’re lucky, you may be able to find cassava cake in the fridge section of your Filipino Grocer :)

The birthday cake.  Pretty huh? Cute story behind why Marissa’s (the birthday celebrant) hubby chose this cake.  Firstly Marissa looooooves chocolates and secondly, the cake was ordered from the same place they ordered their wedding cake and since they never actually got the chance to eat their own wedding cake, this was a great opportunity to go back again.  80s theme was chosen also to bring back those days of yore so the celebrant could feel young again.

Birthday girl! Hair and make up courtesy of yours truly :) … Heh, we thought that pink square was in the way of the photos and asked to remove it.  Turns out, it’s part of the cake. lol

There was a voting of “Best Dressed Male”, “Best Dressed Female” and “Best Dressed Child Under 12 years” that took place during the night.  There were people there that truly looked like they never left the 80s.  Some wore wigs, head bands and leg warmers.

Tina Turner to the left, won the “Best Dressed Female” and Blondie (Debby Harry) in the middle, 2nd place.

Fame head band on the left, 2nd place and “Roy Orbison” (I’m sure he was from the 50s to the 80s era, rather than just the 80s era) in the middle took out the price for “Best Dressed Male”.

And finally and if you’re still reading, my little one took out the title for “Best Dressed Child under 12 years”.  w00t.  The leg warmers were the hubby’s idea.

So to sum up the night – It was a totally, awesome,  radical and righteous night man! So totally going to do that again soon.  Yo!  Peace out!

MJ.

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Holy Macaron-y! My first batch of Macarons

Holy smokes people! I did it.  I finally made my first (successful) batch of macarons.  Not perfect, but never-the-less, I am so proud of them cute babies! :D

So why all the fuss with macarons? Why? They taste awesome and they are a melt in your mouth sensation.  I’ve been wanting to learn how to make these since my wedding day a few years ago when it was served as part of the dessert.

Fellow foodies chocolatesuze and ramenraff went all crazy with their macaron love last week and I couldn’t help but go crazy too! So went out and bought a dozen macarons from Taste Baguette (Met Centre Store) and vowed to try and make them again.  I had attempted to make these meringue like cookies a few times and failed each time.  This time,  I took a deep breath, concentrated and gave it another shot.

Look, it almost matches my baby pink mixer! :D

I trawled the net for recipes and came across this one here from the Bristish Larder.  Apart from the meringue, the only thing different I did, was mix all the ingredients by hand, not by a stand mixer which is what I initially did which resulted with me over mixing, thus out came a runny mixture.

Rose Pink Macarons – makes about 40 shells (20 macarons)

110g ground almonds
225g icing sugar
4 egg whites
50g caster sugar
1/2 tsp of red food colour (or colour of your choice, optional)

1. Line a couple of cookie trays with baking paper. Sift the ground almonds and icing sugar in a large bowl and discard the impurities.  Set aside.
2. In a stand mixer on a medium to high speed, whisk egg whites until frothy.  Add sugar slowly whilst still mixing. Set speed to high and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form.  Meringue mixture should be glossy and shouldn’t droop when you lift the whisks/beaters away.

3. If you’ve chosen to add food colour, add it now. In three parts, add the icing sugar and ground almonds into the meringue mixture.   Carefully fold in the mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until well combined.  Do NOT over mix.

4. Place about 1/2 or 1/3 of the mixture into a piping bag (rest your piping bag in a tall glass to assist you) and pipe straight down (about 3-4 cm in diameter) onto the cookie tray.

5. Tap the tray gently a couple of times to let out some bubbles and then leave the macarons to rest for 45 minutes so they can form a skin.  This will give that classic dome shape.

6. About 30 minutes into the resting stage, pre-heat your oven to 150 degrees celsius/300 degrees fahrenheit.  Once the macarons have rested for 45 minutes, bake the macarons (one tray at a time) in the middle rack of the oven for about 12-15 minutes.  Watch them closely  as you don’t want them to lose their colour and become golden brown on top (some of mine unfortunately did).

6. Once baked, leave to cool until they are at room temperature, they should lift off the baking paper with ease, if not, carefully, slide them off the baking paper with a knife.

Mmmmmmm… acarons!

Pair up the shells and fill with your choice of cream or jam.  I chose a ready made buttercream frosting and nutella and they were delish!  Egg shell like crust and sweet, meringue cookie.

I know that these are by far, not the greatest looking macarons, but I know in time and with plenty of practice, I will get there.

MJ

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Glass Brasserie – Sydney Hilton

Ah, so the long-awaited dinner at Glass Brasserie finally came upon us!  The hubby had been wanting to come back to Glass since our last visit two and a half years ago but we were waiting for a special occasion. Our last visit gave my hubby something to look forward to for our next visit.  He remembers the couple dining next to us had lamb cutlets and he remembers over hearing the man saying “I highly recommend the lamb” to another couple who were just seated at their table.  We, however, had already eaten and were in fact about to leave.  On our way out, my husband vowed to have the lamb cutlets on our next visit.

Unfortunately for my hubby, the menu had changed, lamb cutlets no more.  My husband will have to make do with another dish.  Tee hee :)

We were at Glass Brasserie last Saturday to celebrate the hubby’s 35th Birthday.  I had planned and booked this dinner on-line a month in advance, however, when I phoned them to advise we will be late, they couldn’t find our booking on their records. Uh oh.  It was a fully booked evening too.  Hmm, that could be the last time I use their on-line reservations.  Anyhoo, after explaining that we have booking confirmation and that we’ll be arriving soon, they were still able to secure us a table.  Excellent.  Didn’t want to miss out and didn’t want to disappoint the hungry hubby :)

Freshly baked (complimentary) bread and extra virgin olive oil to get started.  This bread is too good, I almost asked if I could take a couple of loaves home.

As we walk in, the facade hadn’t changed and still as elegant as ever.  As it is headed by celebrity chef Luke Mangan, you can’t help but feel very special dining here. We were seated near the kitchen and I couldn’t help but think of MasterChef every time I looked up and watched the going ons in there.  Yes Chef. Yes Chef. Yes Chef.  And something else I couldn’t quite hear or understand. Must be some other chef lingo.

Loving the mermaid decoration on my glass of cranberry juice.  I thought it was ice. Go ahead, laugh.

I was a happy mum when the waiter asked us if we’d like to see the kids menu. The kids menu doubles as a 2 page colour in book to keep them busy.  Chicken and Chips $13.50 for the little one.  This arrived along with our entrée.

For my entrée I ordered the Sweet Corn and Scampi Chowder, Oyster Cream, Pancetta, Prawn Toast $28.  Possibly the best soup I’ve ever had.  Nice smooth, creamy chowder and a few little crunchy pancettas can’t be wrong.  The prawn toast was outta this world.  It’s a very small piece of toast, but oh so good.

The hubby had Organic Egg Omelette of Blue Swimmer Crab Meat, Enoki Mushroom & Herb Salad, Miso Mustard Broth $30 (sorry, I was too busy enjoying my soup to take a picture :P )

Oh, here come the mains (excuse the blurry picture, was still working the settings on the camera).  Hubby had Rangers Valley Wagyu Scotch Marble Score 5+ 300g Warm Pork Sausage, Celeriac Remoulade $67.  The steak just melts in your mouth, however, that green sauce which I think is basil, is a little overpowering to my liking.  The hubby really enjoyed it though.

Nolan Dry Aged Rib Eye 450g, BBQ Sauce and Garlic Mushrooms $62 for me.  The BBQ sauce had a kick to it which I didn’t expect but was still very good with the steak.  I ordered this one medium but should have asked for it to be medium to well.  I struggled a little bit slicing through it (tendons) but it was still very tasty.  I didn’t get to finish it though, it is a HUGE piece of steak. The garlic mushrooms too were very tasty, buttery and had just a good amount of garlic.  I only wish they put more of it on the plate.

Parmesan and Truffled French Fries $13 on the side.  If you like french fries, order this as your side.  Crunchy-cheesy on the outside and melt in your mouth goodness on the inside. They’re not shy on the serving size, more than enough for two and it tastes really good.  Very posh french fries I say.

My absolute favourite time is dessert time! Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce $14 for the little one.  My daughter didn’t stop eating until her bowl was practically licked clean.  Really funny watching kids devouring and enjoying their meal.  I however couldn’t make up my mind on dessert.  My hubby had already chosen his dessert of Vanilla Creme Brulee, Macadamia Biscotti $17 while I was still choosing between petit fours and an assortment of rich chocolate dessert.  I went with the latter and ordered Valrhona Chocolate Assiette – Chocolate Fondant, Delice with Caramelised Hazelnuts & Coffee Foam, Chocolate Sorbet, Poached Quince, Tuile $21 . This was an interesting plate of dessert.  The chocolate sorbet and poached quince was my favourite on the plate.  I found it was very light and the tuile was impressively thin like paper and really crunchy.  The coffee foam was a little bitter for me but it gave a good balance to the caramelized hazelnut underneath. Lastly, the fondant was a rich, thick chocolatey goodness – sauce may be a little on the sweet side.  All in all I thought it was a good balance of flavour on my dessert plate and I was very pleased to end my night with that.

The hubby was very happy with his birthday treat.

Awwww….

The questions now is, when will we dine here again?  Ooh, I can’t wait for our next visit, still plenty to try on the menu.

Glass Brasserie
Sydney Hilton
Level 2, 488 George Street, Sydney
(02) 9265 6068

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White Chocolate Strawberry and Maple Syrup Cupcakes

Well hello there!  I have here a white chocolate strawberry and maple syrup (yes, maple syrup) cupcakes for all you cupcake and muffin lovers out there.  Normally, I would just add maple syrup to pancakes and french toast and I’m a happy girl, but for some reason, I wanted to make a maple syrup based cupcakes.  I had my fingers crossed the whole time while I was making these (well, no not really) since I had no idea how they’d turn out.  I was soooo happy when they turned out nice and moist.  I was originally going to make bacon and maple syrup cupcakes with cream cheese and maple syrup frosting but these were baked at night and knew I wouldn’t have enough time to make the frosting and fry the bacon, so I changed my mind and went for a sweet dessert instead of savoury.  I had some left over white chocolates in the cupboard and decided to use those instead of bacon.  I also added strawberries because I think anything with fruits look and sound healthy ;)

The result was a nice, moist, well-balanced and tasty cupcake! :)  Am very pleased.  Would have to be the nicest cupcake I’ve EVER made.  ;) Well from the look the hubby gave me when he took a bite of the cake, heh, I was sold!

White Chocolate Strawberry and Maple Syrup Cupcakes – makes about 15 cupcakes

2 cups self-raising flour
200 g softened butter
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped white milk chocolates
8-10 strawberries (chopped)

Sift flour and salt in a large bowl and set aside.  In a mixer, mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs and mix until combined.  Add maple syrup and mix on medium-high speed.  In alternates and in 3 parts add the flour and milk, making sure that the mixture is well combined before adding the next one. Add white chocolates and mix through the batter with a spatula.

Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees celsius/320 degrees fahrenheit and line a cupcake/muffin tray with paper liners.  Fill each to about 3/4 to the top and evenly top with chopped strawberries.  Bake in the middle rack of the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the top of the cupcake has a nice light golden brown colour to it.  When they come out of the oven, they may seem (this may not happen) a little wobbly or still moist in the centre, that’s okay as we want moist cupcakes.  Leave cupcakes to cool on a wire rack for a couple of hours.  Store in an airtight container or in a large bowl covered with glad wrap.  I didn’t refrigerate these cupcakes so I don’t know how they’d turn out if they’re kept in the fridge.  Because of the cold weather we’ve been having, I’ve left the cupcakes covered on our kitchen bench and they were fine the next day.

These cupcakes have a nice sweetness to it, just right.  I was a little worried thinking that the maple syrup will add more sweetness since there’s already caster sugar and white chocolates in the mix but I was very surprised it hadn’t.

Happy baking!

MJ

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Choc Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Hello good people :) I was on a terrible, terrible trial and error baking marathon on the weekend.  My back was aching and my feet sore.  All I wanted to do was bake the perfect macaron.  Turns out, you can’t get it right the first time, second or third.  Well, at least I didn’t. My poor hubby had just vacuumed and there I was making mounds and mounds of mess.  Almonds here and there and icing sugar all over the floor. You’d think I was making progress with all the mess I was making.  I was up to about my 4th attempt with the macaron mixture and it turned out too runny.  So I finally gave up.  I wanted so badly to make a dessert and I decided to put an extra “o” in this macaron and make macaroons instead.  Coconut macaroons that is and that, I know how to make.  Ooh, and they’re oh so yummy!

It’s been a while since I made macaroons, 6 years if I remember correctly. I was given a recipe by a co-worker and in this recipe, she uses condensed milk.  Unfortunately, I ran out of condensed milk so I was in a bit of a pickle.  Should I go out and get condensed milk or consult a cookbook or start over with my macarons?  Who am I kidding? Stop with the macarons already, that’s for another day.  I went to consulting my cookbook (Taste Baking $10 or $15 from Coles) .  I saw a recipe and my eyes lit up.  It uses egg whites and chocolates for dipping. Chocolates and coconuts, one of my fave combo.  Yum!  Let’s get to it.

Choc Dipped Coconut Macaroons – makes about 30

3 egg whites
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups shredded coconuts
100g dark chocolate (chopped)

1. Beat eggs until frothy and then add caster sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.  Mix in the lemon juice.

2. Slowly, in 3 parts, add the coconuts into the meringue and fold gently.


3. Line a cookie tray with baking paper and pre-heat oven to 150 degrees celsius.  Spoon out small mounds of macaroon mixture and place on the cookie tray.  Don’t place them too close together.


4. Using 2 wet teaspoons, begin to shape the macaroons into little pyramids. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins or until just lightly golden brown.

5. Leave to cool on a wire rack for about 5 mins and then slowly and carefully, peel them off the baking paper.  Set aside in a bowl. Line another tray with baking paper.

6. Melt chocolates in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water.  Carefully, dip the bottom of the macaroons into the chocolate and set aside on the baking paper lined tray.

7.  Once all macaroons have been chocolate dipped, they can be placed in the freezer for 5-10 mins to quickly harden the chocolates (you can skip this if you like and just leave them out to set on their own).

Take out from the freezer and carefully remove from the tray.  Have immediately and save one for the hubby.  Jokes :)  I really like this recipe.  The macaroons are not sweet at all compared to one that is mixed with condensed milk and the dark chocolate adds a nice little bitterness to it.  I think it’s well balanced.

Happy eating.

MJ