Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Passionfruit Vanilla Slice

I am lucky enough to have a canteen at my work that not only makes fresh lunches every day, but often bakes sweets such as muffins, cupcakes and the most popular – Vanilla Slice.
This special only comes around about once a month, but when it does, the canteen needs to advertise that they are taking pre-orders sometimes up to five days in advance! This is because they cannot handle the huge demand and onslaught of employees running at the vanilla slice trolley circulating the office with their coins in hand!
Some days, the trolley hasn’t even made it to our level on the building because they have sold all of their vanilla slices before making it to our department.
What this comes down to really, is the love people have for vanilla slice.
Isn’t this really just some custard squished between pastry with some sweet icing?
Yes, that’s exactly what it is.
And coming from a custard-lover – this is a perfectly good justification for why the dessert is oh-so-perfect!

I decided to make a vanilla slice on the weekend.
I had to double the custard recipe as by the time I got to laying the custard out over the biscuits, there was only half as much left as when I started…(Something to do with me eating all the custard whilst cooking it, but I cant remember the finer details…)

Mum has always made vanilla slice with Sao biscuits instead of the classic – pastry. I love the use of these square sweet cracker biscuits because it makes laying these out as the base and top a fun jig-saw experience.
They also save the trouble of puff pastry and taste delicious!
Here’s the general recipe for passionfruit vanilla slice using Sao Biscuits. The custard quantity can change a fair bit as I simply added more custard powder and sugar as I felt it needed as I went along.  

Passionfruit Vanilla Slice

1 packet Sao biscuits – laid out in a square tray
8 tablespoons of custard with 8 table spoons of sugar
4 cups milk

Icing sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Passionfruit pulp of two passionfruit
Boiling water

·         Lay out Sao biscuits in a square tray leaving no gaps.
·         Mix 1 cup milk with the custard powder and sugar, creating a smooth and rice custard sauce.
·         Warm the 3 cups of milk in a saucepan on the stove slowly, then add the custard mixture to this slowly, whisking constantly.
·         As the custard thickens, keep adding the custard liquid to the milk on the stove until you have thick yellow custard.
·         Add more sugar/custard powder depending on taste and consistency.
·         Pour this over the Sao biscuit sheet layer and spread evenly with a spatula.
·         Top the custard layer with another sheet of Sao biscuits.
·         Make the icing by melting the butter and mixing all ingredients in.
·         Pour this over the top layer of Sao biscuits and spread evenly.
·         Refrigerate for a few hours or until hard enough to keep together once cut.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

CNR Kitchen - Northbridge

After my first RAW FOOD experience was a little disappointing (See Raw Food Kitchen – Fremantle blog post here) I have since heard many wonderful reviews on CNR Kitchen in Northbridge and raw/vegan food in general.

I came to CNR Kitchen one sunny Sunday lunch and we sat in the sun overlooking the Northbridge Piazza. It is such a beautiful spot to sit on a sunny day and enjoy the fresh breeze and watch the big screen if your lunch date is a little boring! Fortunate for me, I had lots of chatting to do!

For lunch we tried their raw Pad Thai $19 and Roasted Veggie Stack $19.
The raw Pad Thai was made with raw zucchini pasta, coconut milk, fresh coriander, capsicum, carrot, coconut slices and a small kick of chilli. I found this dish very strange but enjoyed it the more I ate it. It definitely lacked seasoning, so after a good salt and pepper addition, I quite enjoyed the flavours. Nothing like a Pad Thai from a Thai restaurant but some thing light and cleansing for a change. It’s nice not to feel oily and bloated after finishing a classic Pad Thai dish.

The Roasted Veggie Stack was a polenta cake, grilled zucchini, eggplant, capsicum drizzled with balsamic reduction. The sauces were coconut, pesto and a tomato salsa which were definitely needed to add flavour to the dish. Without these, it simply was grilled vegetables pilled on top of one another. I commend them on the presentation and the beautiful condiments to compliment the stack.

We ordered the G.A.P. drink – ginger, apple and pear juice $6.50. This was deliciously refreshing. I love ginger in a juice!
We also tried the Almond Milk Smoothie – the Golden Rough $8.50.

I drink almond milk regularly so loved the combination of cacao, coconut butter, dates and agave. This was a sure winner! 
Overall I felt refreshed and cleansed when I left, which is nice for a change as I usually consume copious amounts of food and leave restaurants struggling to walk as I am so full.
I would love to return and try some of their raw desserts!

(CNR) James + Lake on Urbanspoon

Nine Fine Food - Northbridge

Nine Fine Food was recently selected as a one star winner for the West Australian Good Food Guide 2013 and it was this, and my love for Japanese that prompted my most recent visit.
Nine Fine Food serves Japanese cuisine with twists of Modern Australian delicacies.
After declaring I wasn’t extremely hungry this particular evening, we ended up being swayed by an impressive four course menu (Osusume) for $63 per person!
I think I’m going to have to get hungry…

For our entrĂ©e’s we ordered the:
·         Beef Tataki ($18)
Light grilled, sliced beef tenderloin fillets (rare), fresh herbs, garlic, red onion, yakumi condiments, yuzu lime ponzu dressing.

The refreshing dressing was certainly the highlight of this dish which had a tangy lime flavor and brought the simple elements together on the plate. The dish was presented beautifully and looked like a work of art. Each vegetable was sliced so fine they were paper-thin and delicate.

·         Fresh Sashimi ($27)

Salmon, tuna, snapper, prawn, octopus, squid

Another highlight, the sashimi was ultra fresh. The squid was my favourite which was dressed in a creamy unknown sauce. SO tasty!

·         Kinoco Caviar Pasta ($18)
Mixed asian mushrooms, tobico and masago caviar, sauteed red onion, angel hair pasta, creamy sake rice wine sauce.

This dish was a stand out for me. I didn’t expect to see PASTA on a Japanese restaurant’s menu, but the flavours of the gorgeous meaty Asian mushrooms combined with the creamy sake rice wine sauce, took this dish to another level. The pop’s of caviar did not dominate the dish and simply added a depth of flavour! Very rich and with a strong flavor, you could definitely not eat too much of this dish – but far out, I kept coming back for more. Absolutely delightful!

·         Agedashi Toothfish ($18)
Katakuri dusted fried Patagonian Toothfish fillets, fried soft tofu, mushrooms, wakame seaweed, all in agedashi soy broth.

This dish was a big disappointment for me. The broth itself lacked seasoning and did not have any flavour. The mushrooms were beautiful, but plain. The fish and tofu were also cooked perfectly but again, with no flavour in the broth, this was simply a soup of floating fish and mushrooms. The seaweed makes the broth look quite dark in the photo, but it was difficult to photograph this dish. Overall - disappointing.
For mains we tried the:
·         Barramundi & ‘Spider’ crab ($34)
Egg fruit wrapped steamed barramundi fillets, fried “Spider” soft shell crab, fresh herb salad, vegetable pan cake, creamy rice vinegar reduction.

The ‘Barramundi’ component of this dish was two small wrapped fillets which were beautiful - but if only there was a little more!! The herb salad had a beautiful texture and zingy flavour of lime. The creamy rice vinegar reduction was delightful. The soft shell crab another winner.

·         Snapper & prawn ($34)
Poached snapper fillets, grilled chilli garlic prawns, seared scallop, vegetable pan cake, sake rice wine, tomato, ricotta and basil sauce.

It was so bizarre to have tomato, ricotta and basil sauce in a Japanese restaurant! However, these Italian flavours were a stand out and teamed beautifully with the accompanied sides. The “chilli prawn” had no chilli at all which was disappointing from a chilli lover.The scallop was cooked to perfection, but they weren’t lying when they said “scallop” – unfortunately there was only one. The vegetable pan cake was a delightful surprise as it had an egg omelet texture but was seasoned nicely. The snapper fillet was a generous size compared with the small serving of Barramundi on our other main.

For dessert we both had the Sesame Ice cream with black bean sauce.

This dish was slightly disspointing for me.
The sesame flavour in the ice cream was not very prominent and could be mistaken for vanilla ice cream. I am not a huge fan of sweet beans, so although this went well with the mild sesame flavour of the icecream, I didn’t particularly enjoy it. The dried fruit and nuts was a nice addition but not something I would go back for.

Overall, Nine Fine Food impressed me incredibly! Four courses for $63 is a steal! The food was presented beautifully, the service impeccable and the dishes fresh and creative. I love the fusion of Italian throughout the menu with elements such as pasta and basil, ricotta and tomato sauce.

Highs: Caviar and mushroom pasta and the Snapper and Prawn dish
Lows: The Agedashi Toothfish and Sesame icecream.
Overall: It was a wonderful dining experience! Definitely recommend the set four-course menu.
Will I return? Definitely!

The Bonsai Restaurant Cafe & Lounge on Urbanspoon