Watch this.

Neil Patrick Harris is hilarious, and so suave, and so charming. He really is the perfect host.

I love how well he deals with Brooke Shield’s little gaffe and the song is just hilarious anyway.

Broadway, how I love you. One day I will experience you for myself.

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Review: Quay restaurant

White Nectarine Snow Egg

Our outing to Quay was amazing. I had been dreaming of the Snow Egg since Masterchef last year, and then after I bought the Quay cook book a month or so ago I have been obsessing about it. Peter Gilmore is a very impressive chef, and I really love the commitment he has to local and artisan produce. He works closely with a farm in Blackheath to produce organically grown boutique crops, such as the Heirloom carrots I had.

The attention to detail is impressive. Every plate looked divine and you could see the care that went into the preparation. I was also really impressed to see that the vegetarian option for each course were well thought-out and executed. It certainly felt like the vegetarian options were given the same amount of care as the meat and seafood choices, and with a good balance of flavours and textures, I certainly didn’t notice the absence of meat for my first two courses.

It was a moody day, but the restaurant is very open with loads of mirrored surfaces to catch the light. It comes as no surprise, but its booked out for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights until late this year, but we scored a Friday lunch booking the same week, so perhaps aim for a lunch booking if you aren’t fussy? I actually really liked the daytime view, all the boats going past and the Opera House in full view.

Obviously this kind of dining doesn’t come cheap, but that is to be expected of a restaurant that won 26th best in the world in the S.Pelligrino awards and also a three-hat restaurant. The four-course lunch option is $135, or you could choose the three-course option for $115. This includes an amuse bouche and yummy Sonoma bread. For dinner, the four-course option will set you back $155 and you get an extra choice per course. There is also a Tasting Menu which is $220 and is available at both lunch and dinner.

Overall, I loved it. Every course was impressive and really hit the mark in terms of flavour, texture and skill. I would definitely consider heading back there, perhaps in summer to experience the seasonal variances (and if I can convince Reece!)

Smoked eel jelly, carrot cream, breadcrumbs and fennel

Sea Pearls: Sashimi tuna, sea scallop, crab, smoked eel, octopus

Salad of French breakfast radishes, pickled beetroot, goats curd, blood sorrel, violets, olive, pine resin, balsamico

Butter poached coturnix quail breast, pumpernickel & ethical foie gras pudding, walnuts, quinoa, truffle custard, milk skin

Organic heirloom carrots, cumin, fennel & celery seeds, comté-infused curd, almonds, amaranth

Bass grouper, white carrot puree and baby vegetables (there was more but I can't remember)

Quay's Eight texture chocolate cake

Honey spiced ice-cream and cookie sandwich

I felt like baking something on Sunday, but didn’t really have much in the cupboard. I really felt like some fluffy, chewy cookies, but didn’t have any eggs. So I went looking for something like a ginger snap, with a thin and crisp texture. But then I realised I didn’t have any ginger or golden syrup, so it was back to the drawing board. Instead I settled on a honey snap cookie with spices. And then lo and behold, when I was halfway through I realised I had two eggs. So I decided to be creative and cream together some butter and sugar, add the egg to it and also the honey mixture. It still made a soft mixture that spread nicely on the tray, but it didn’t crisp up like I was hoping it to and it didn’t really puff up either.

They weren’t really good enough to stand on their own, but I was thinking about dessert tonight and thought they might be turned into nice ice-cream cookie sandwiches. And above is the result.

My beautiful new, red Kitchenaid mixer arrived yesterday. I’m going schlep it home today and can’t wait to start experimenting with it!

Honey spiced ice-cream and cookie sandwich
Makes 16 cookies (or 8 sandwiches)

125g butter
170g brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 egg
100g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice

Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius.

Melt 50g butter, 70g brown sugar and honey together in a small saucepan over low heat. Set aside to cool. Cream together remaining butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy then beat in egg. Fold through the flour and spices and then fold in the warm honey mixture.

Drop spoonfuls of the mixture on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Leave room for them to spread. (I only put 6 per tray). Bake for 7 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool on the tray for at least 10 minutes before removing and leaving to cool entirely.

For the chocolate sauce I combined 100g milk chocolate with 1/4 cup cream. Melt them together (I used the microwave on medium, heating for 30 seconds at first and then stirring at 15 minute intervals until combined). The sauce was a little thick so I would probably add another tablespoon or so of cream to thin it out a little bit next time.

Put one cookie on the plate. Add a couple of scoops of ice-cream (I used the Coles Fig, Honey and Ginger ice-cream) and then sandwich with a second cookie. Drizzle with the sauce and serve immediately.

Haunting skills

Reece: So how many times a year do I have to visit your grave?
Tara: On all the special occasions…birthday, anniversary, Christmas and then just at other times when you miss me.
Reece: That’s ridiculous, it’s not even you there. I’ll miss you and remember you every day, isn’t that better than going to your grave?
Tara: No, you have to visit my grave and take flowers. You visit my grave or I’ll haunt you. I’m serious.
Reece: You’re being ridiculous.
Tara: And I don’t mind if you remarry, but you have to wait a decent amount of time. Don’t be one of those wood-duck blokes who can’t survive without a woman so get remarried quickly.

Tara: I’ve been thinking about it. You can either visit my grave or you can put me in a decorative urn and keep me on your bedside table. Those are your options.
Reece: Won’t that be weird if I’m remarried?
Tara: Not my problem. If you move my urn I’ll come back and haunt you.
Reece: I think you are overestimating your haunting skills.

Triple chocolate and macadamia brownies

Triple chocolate macadamia brownies

Makes enough for 20 generous sized slices.

Recipe adapted from a Notebook one you can find on Taste.com.au

300g butter
600g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
285g caster sugar
4 eggs, lightly whisked
450g plain flour
1/2 cup (125g) sour cream
1 tbs vanilla paste or essence
145g toasted macadamia nuts, chopped
180g white chocolate, coarsely chopped
200g milk chocolate, chopped
Pinch sea salt flakes

Preheat oven to 160°C (150 °C fanforced). Grease the base and sides of a square or rectangle cake pan. You can line it as well, but I didn’t need to.

Combine the butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes to cool. Add the sugar and eggs and stir to combine. Add the flour, sour cream and vanilla and stir to combine. Add the macadamia nuts, white and milk chocolate and sea salt and stir to combine.

Pour mixture into the pan. Bake for 35-50 minutes (depending on the depth of the pan) or until just cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside in pan to cool completely.

Once cool you can ice with the below recipe or for a (slightly) less decadent treat you can leave un-iced.

Chocolate icing

175g unsalted butter, softened
200g milk chocolate, chopped
200ml cream (minimum 35% fat)

Combine chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and heat over a pan of simmering water. Make sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir constantly until smooth and the chocolate has melted.

Leave to cool for 15 mins and then using electric beaters mix in the butter until it is light and fluffy.

Spread over the top of the cooled brownies and leave to set for a couple of hours or overnight.

Cut brownies into squares to serve

(Meanwhile, this is my first go photographing food in my newly constructed lightbox. I’m pretty pleased with the results!)

snapshot

I love walking to the train station in the mornings. This morning I actually had a couple of minutes up my sleeve so thought I would take the opportunity to capture the gorgeous Autumn colours. I missed Autumn last year in the Phils. I love all the leaves lying around and how the mornings are nice and crisp. In the bottom photo the carpet of leaves stretches the whole length of the sidewalk…so cool! If I wasn’t mortally afraid of the spiders webs that string along the path I would totally run along there, kicking the leaves.

Happy Friday!

Raspberry, rosewater and vanilla layer cake



Raspberry, rosewater and vanilla cake
Makes three 16cm cake rounds (which are then halved)

This recipe is adapted from Call Me Cupcake.

1/2 cup (113g) butter
2 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cups iced water
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 egg whites

Additional ingredients for the separate cakes
1/4 cup pureed raspberries
1 tbs vanilla paste
1/4 cup iced water
2 tbs rosewater
2 tbs iced water
Pink/red food colouring

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until its light and fluffy. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together and add alternatively with the iced water to the creamed butter and sugar. At this stage the cake will look rather thick and almost dough-like, but persist.

Now you need to separate the mix into three parts. Each bowl should end up with 450 grams of mix. Add 1/4 raspberries to one bowl, 1 tbs vanilla paste and 1/4 cup iced water to the second and the rosewater and iced water to the third. Beat each mix until smooth.

In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add 40 grams of whipped egg whites to each bowl and red/pink food colouring. Fold in until well combined and pour into greased cake tins.

Bake for 30 minutes of until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

Set aside to cool. The cakes should be completely cooled or even chilled for when you want to slice in half.

White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Makes 7 cups (enough to fill and ice the cake with leftovers)

This recipe is (only slightly) adapted from the amazing Sweetapolita. You should also check out her great step-by-step guide to making Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

8 large egg whites (30g each)
400g caster sugar
450g unsalted butter
1 tbs vanilla paste
Pinch of salt
150g white chocolate, melted and cooled

This icing is totally worth the few steps it takes. Trust me, once you make it once you will never go back!

Set a pot of water to simmer. Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl and set on top of simmering water. (Make sure the water is not boiling and doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.) Whisk constantly but gently until the temperature reaches 65 degrees Celcius and the sugar has dissolved completely and it hot to touch.

Now you need to whisk the egg white mixture until it is smooth, glossy and thick. You can do this with a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with a hand whisk. Either way, you will need to mix for about 10 minutes or until the bowl is cool to touch. Make sure the meringue is not warm or else it will melt the butter.

Change to a paddle attachment or beaters on your mixer and add butter one cube at a time, mixing on medium speed until it is mixed in well. The mixture may curdle at one point, but if it does, just keep mixing and it will come back together.

Add the vanilla, salt and then fold through the cooled melted white chocolate.

To assemble:
Cut cooled cakes in half horizontally with a serrated knife.

Smear a little of the buttercream in the middle of a cake plate and add the first layer of cake. Pipe a thin layer of buttercream around the outside of the cake and then fill in the middle. Add the second layer and pipe more buttercream. Continue until you have added all 6 layers.

Now apply a thin coat of buttercream using an offset spatula to create a crumb coat. The point of doing a crumb coat is to trap all the cake crumbs before you finish icing. Once you have a thin layer, refrigerate the cake for 30 mins or so to allow the coat to harden.

Then finish off with another, thicker layer of buttercream and decorate as you wish!

Tips:
Keep the cake cool, but not refrigerated or else the icing will turn hard like butter.

Cut the cake using a knife that’s been heated by hot water and then wiped clean.

update: bookcase project

So I got all my books out and organised them by colour. I’m quite pleased with the results, but I still feel like there is something missing. I’m going to leave them to settle and for me to assess of the next week or so before I make any changes. I can’t put my finger on it, but I’m sure there is something.

Here’s my dodgy iPhone pic of how it looks. If anyone can figure out what I’m missing I’d be super grateful!

Bookcase project

I’ve been lusting after colour coordinated bookcases all week. So last night in a fit of organisation/madness I decided that I simply had to begin rearranging all of our books. Luckily Reece is used to having a mad wife, so contentedly sat and watched football while I covered every available surface with piles of books. After the week I have had I think he was just happy that I wasn’t crying or yelling or doing both at the same time!

I was so taken with the project that I only stopped to take a “before” picture when it was already underway. So here it is below…

20110514-094142.jpg

I’ll post the results soon!