Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Coconut cherry swirl loaf

For the rest of the year, I have really made it my goal to exercise at least 3 times a week despite all the work load that the university semester will bring. This is really a short term goal as I plan on exercising regularly from now on - it WILL be incorporated into my lifestyle! I do not really like exercising first thing in the morning on an empty stomach as I always feel queasy afterwards and if I eat breakfast first, I will feel the oncomings of a runner's nightmare - a stitch. So I normally go for a run mid-afternoon or at night!

My grandparents had bought an excess of cherries and once again, my dad was fretting about them going bad. As well as that 2kg tub of yogurt he bought. So once again, I was stuck with the duty to finish off all these things. I picked out the good ones to bring to uni as a snack (yay!) and this seemed like a wonderful way to use up the cherries! I decided to use this jam in a yogurt cake after the success of the lemon version.

The swirl within the cake is quite simple to do. Pour in half the cake batter, spoon on some cherry jam, pour on remaining batter, spoon on remaining jam, use a skewer and swirl!

I put this in the oven as I went for my run.

I don't know if it was because I knew that this was waiting for me when I got home, but I swear I ran extra fast today!

And what greeted me after that long and strenuous run was this.

This loaf was moist and not too sweet - definitely the perfect post workout snack. Especially when fresh from the oven!

Mmm, look at that wonderful crumb from the yogurt. The top browned quite quickly despite the middle of the cake not being cooked yet. I would probably lower the temperature to 160C next time and cook it for longer, maybe 75 minutes?

Coconut cherry swirl loaf
an original recipe by Crystal Noir

Coconut cake
1 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup whole milk plain unsweetened natural yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt

Cherry jam
2 cups pitted cherries, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon corn flour
1 tablespoon caster  sugar

1. You can either prepare the cherry jam or just use about 3/4-1 cup jam of choice. Add pitted cherries, sugar and corn flour into a food processor. Process until it is chunky or to a texture of your liking.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease the sides of a 23x12cm loaf pan with oil and line the bottom and sides with baking paper.

3. Spread coconut on a separate tray and toast until golden brown. Remove from oven.

4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil and sugar. Beat the 3 eggs in a separate bowl and pour into the large mixing bowl, whisking until combined. Stir in toasted coconut until combined.

5. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together, right over the yogurt mix and stir with a spoon until just combined (make sure not to overmix!)

6. Pour half the batter into the prepared cake pan and spoon on cherry jam. Pour on the remaining batter and top with the remaining cherry jam. Swirl the jam with a skewer - be careful not to overswirl! Bake for 60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cover loaf with foil if it browns before it is completely cooked.

7. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let it stand for 10 minutes. Transfer the cake onto a plate. When cool, cut and serve. Yum!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Taste of Shanghai, Ashfield

After a gruelling day on a site visit to Cockatoo Island, the boy and I make a pitstop at Ashfield for some dumplings before his touch football game at Henley Park. We were there before 6 and easily nabbed some seats. I had been on an island all day and the winds weren't very favourable and left me numb all over! I was definitely in need of some heart warming food.

Braised pork belly noodle soup, $10.80
I was tossing up between this and the spicy beef belly noodle soup (BEEF BELLY! I don't think I've ever eaten that) but I ended up going with this one. The first thing that hit me when this arrived at the table was LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT BOWL OF NOODLES! But I was really looking forward to digging into that plate of juicy looking pork. Braised pork belly is a very traditional Shanghainese dish and I have it quite often at home. While this version was nice, it didn't quite meet the standards of my parent and grandparent's which I really do adore. The texture of the noodles were lovely but it had to be eaten with the pork belly which gave the noodles that extra oomph that the broth was lacking.

Look at that fatty goodness! Cannot be good for my cardiovascular health...

Pan seared pork dumpling, $9.80
While the noodles were nothing special, these were very good! Just look at the oil glistening on their skins! The bottom was fried until very crispy and had just enough char without being burnt. The dumplings themselves had plenty of broth inside which was very flavoursome. Dipped in vinegar, these were very tasty indeed.

While it was relatively empty when we arrived, by the time we finished and paid for our meal the restaurant was getting quite full and there were still people slowly trickling in. It normally does get very busy and the restaurant always seems to have good business.

If you're in the area and looking for some good dumplings, you know where to stop by.

Taste of Shanghai
264 Liverpool Rd
Ashfield, NSW, 2131
9798 2877

Trading hours
Daily 10am until late

Taste of Shanghai on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Sweet Spot, Randwick

K had been talking about this patisserie near UNSW for ages, and she wanted to take fellow sweet tooths T and I there to eat, you guessed it, cake! T is leaving next week for Europe for exchange so we had to catch up before she has to leave. I am honestly so excited for her! The tours she has planned sounds amazing and I can't wait until she comes back and tells us all her exciting adventures.

Both K and I had bought T some early birthday presents for her which she opened on the bus on the way there! I hope she puts the travel journal I got her to good use :D

I immediately took a liking to the interiors of this quaint little cafe! Everything looked so vintage and it was definitely classified as pretty. We couldn't stop ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the cake display and it took us too long to decide which cakes we wanted. The lady working behind the counter was extremely patient though and answered any questions we had to ask. After paying and taking our seats, the cakes were delivered almost immediately and we eagerly tucked into them at once.

Clockwise from left to right: Caprioska $6.90, Caramel Pear & Sticky Date Torte $6.90, Monsoon $6.90
We agreed we would start with the fruity one first which was the Caprioska. It was very easy to eat with layers of lemon-lime mousse, lychee and vanilla sponge all on top of a shortbread biscuit base. It was fluffy and not too sweet and was gone very quickly! Next up was the caramel, pear and sticky date torte. I loved the layers of sticky date pudding, caramel mousse and poached pear. The juicy pear pieces helped break through the richness of the sticky date pudding and caramel sauce! Last up was the devilishly indulgent Monsoon - it even sounds deadly! There were layers of japonaise, feuilletine and espresso mousse which were wrapped in a jaconde sponge and that was all topped with a milk chocolate glaze. There were some unexpected crunchy bits near the bottom of the cake that were reminiscent of Cocoa Pops which I loved as a child.

After finishing these ones, we were tempted by the icecream cakes we saw in the fridge but we restrained ourselves and decided not to be greedy! K bought a cheesecake for her mum and a toffee profiterole to takeaway while I was lured in by the macaron display. I asked what the flavours were and they had me the instant they said "coconut"! I am indeed a lost cause when it comes to coconut. The macaron was quickly scoffed during the walk back to UNSW and I was disappointed that the coconut flavour was too muted but K seemed to enjoy her profiterole. The macaron was the chewier kind if you do prefer that type.

We walked through UNSW to go to the bus stops and K took this chance to take us on the "scenic route" to show her uni off to both us USYD kids! Haha, what a sneaky one. We ended our date at Menya Mappen where I decided not to eat anything as I was eating again in an hour at Jamie's Italian with the boy!

I can't wait to go back and try the ricotta cheesecake that I saw sitting in the counter!

The Sweet Spot
18 Perouse Rd
Randwick, NSW, 2031

The Sweet Spot Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 27, 2012

Jamie's Italian, CBD

After lunch at The Sweet Spot with K and T, I met the boy at Wynyard to go to Jamie's Italian! I have heard mixed reviews about this place so I didn't really have high expectations and wanted to see what all the fuss was all about for myself. Even though I had decided to save stomach space for some Italiano food and I only had a small bit of cake, it is still rich and calorie dense all the same so what a decadent day I had indeed!

Even arriving early at 5pm, we were told there was a 10 minute wait before we would be able to be seated. We were given a buzzer and watched them make fresh pasta while we waited. Look at all those different types of pasta they have!

True to their word, we waited around 10 minutes before we were lead upstairs to seats next to the balcony. It definitely was nice being able to see what was happening down below!

Our lovely waitress Lauren told us the house specials of the night and both of us decided to start off with an aromatic lime soda ($4.10). I really had been set on the strawberry and elderflower soda but it was sold out, how disappointing. The lime soda was a nice replacement with it's tart citrus flavour making it a refreshing drink.

Italian bread selection, on the house
You do have to ask the waiter/waitress for the bread selection which consists of focaccia. artisan sourdough, ciabatta and tortano and is drizzled with olive oil and rosemary. We were also given some balsamic vinegar in olive oil to dip our bread in.

Black Angel Spaghetti, $13.00/$21.00
The dishes all came out very fast, in about 5-10 minutes, and all at once! Our tiny table was crammed quite full. We had decided to order the entree sizes as we weren't too hungry. I started with the black angel spaghetti and enjoyed it much more than I expected! To be truthful, I ordered it just because it was black and that interested me haha. The sour little juicy capers burst in the mouth to contrast with the saltiness of the anchovies and squid ink pasta, and really went well with the scallops which were excellent. I really do love scallops. There was a little fiery kick that was left in the mouth from the chilli which I loved as it wasn't the dominant flavour in the dish.

Bucatini Carbonara, $12.00/$19.00
I can't get over the pasta used in this dish! It looked like udon noodles when it first arrived at the table, but when you bite into the pasta, it was hollow inside! So it was like penne pasta, but elongated like spaghetti. Eggs were used in the sauce which made it oh so creamy and the pancetta gave the dish a rich saltiness. So good.

Truffle Tagliatelle, $14.50/$24.00
I think this one had to be my favourite dish of the night! It was described to be a pasta dish with "finely shaved wild black truffles tossed with butter, Parmesan & nutmeg. A real luxury." So was it a real luxury? Yes, I'd say it was. It was amazingly decadent and rich from the butter sauce and I'm so glad that the flavour of the truffles was pronounced enough! I definitely could not stop eating it until it was all gone. And then I was sad.

Jamie's Italian was better than I expected and I really did enjoy all the pasta. To be honest though, I really did go in not expecting fantastic food so that also might contribute to why I was pleasantly surprised.

We ended up at Moochi inside Westfield Sydney (I love my frozen yogurt - could you not tell?) where we got biscotti and pomegranate froyo with, you guessed it, mochi. I think the mochi and biscotti froyo is better at Noggi. The pomegranate flavour tasted just like forest berries though! So this part trumps Noggi. But my loyalty has to lie with Noggi I'm afraid (:

To end the wonderful day, the boy bought me a box of Ferrero Rocher! What a sweetie.

Happy weekend everybody!


Jamie's Italian
107 Pitt St
Sydney, NSW, 2000
8240 9000

Trading hours
Monday - Saturday: 11:30am - Late
Closed Sundays

Jamie's Italian on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lemon yogurt cake

Sometimes, you don't need a special occassion to make cake. This yogurt cake is definitely an everyday cake that you cake imagine eating whilst drinking coffee and reading the newspaper (or these days, reading food blogs online on your computer!).

I first learned about yogurt cakes over a couple of years ago as I first ventured into the world of baking, where I would cut out recipes from the weekend newspaper. This idea of using yogurt in cakes immediately caught my eye and I dove head first into it. But it was not meant to be. I wasn't sure whether it was because I was still a horrible baker, or whether the recipe just wasn't up to standard, but I ended up with a cake that was very sticky, had the consistency of a rock and definitely was not pleasant in the mouth! My ever so loving family ate them with gusto and told me that I had done a wonderful job (I know they didn't want to hurt my feelings, bless their souls). I however, knew of my failure and have avoided cake recipes with yogurt in it like the plague.

It wasn't until I stumbled across Smitten Kitchen's version that my interest with this particular ingredient once again peaked. Not to mention that my dad had bought a 2kg tub of natural yogurt from the weekend farmer's market because he didn't know that we already had 1kg of yogurt sitting in the fridge! As yogurt goes off quickly, I decided to once again have a go at making yogurt cakes. And the result? A wonderfully light, soft and springy cake with hints of lemon coming through. Of course, you could always add a glaze or some lemon icing but it definitely is not needed. I think my faith in yogurt cakes has been renewed.

This cake is absolutely lovely, the citrus flavours reminiscent of Spring and definitely brightens up this bleak Winter weather. Eat it for breakfast with some more yogurt. Dust some powdered sugar on top and drink with some freshly brewed tea as an afternoon snack. And you have no excuse not to make it as it is such a simple cake to bake!

Lemon yogurt cake
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup whole milk plain unsweetened natural yogurt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice (juice of one lemon)
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease the sides of a 23x12cm loaf pan with oil and line the bottom with baking paper.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, sugar, lemon zest and juice. Beat the 2 eggs in a separate bowl and pour into the large mixing bowl, whisking until combined.

3. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together, right over the yogurt mix and stir with a spoon until just combined (make sure not to overmix!)

4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let stand for 10 minutes. Flip the cake onto a plate. When cool, cut and serve. Eat and feel yourself float around in a heavenly lemon daze.

Assembly Bar, CBD

These pictures have been sitting on my camera for quite some time and I haven't bothered making this post for quite some time doodidum...

I came here with my boyfriend for lunch before work one day, and it was very quiet - the complete opposite compared to when I visited last time on a Friday night!

Really digging the industrial vibe here.

Assembly fries, $8.00
These were one of the best fries I've had in a while! They were nicely salted, crunchy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside. And it tasted great dipped in the cheese and truffle sauce! Though I must say, the price here for some fried potato is pretty steep.

Sweet potato couscous, $14.00
This dish was not what I was expecting. I was picturing chunks of sweet potato with some couscous scattered throughout so I was very let down when this came to the table. It looked like fried rice with some sauce on top!! I did like the yogurt dressing on top and I ended up picking through the salad for the little nubbins of sweet potato and corn. However, there were plenty of coriander seeds which I don't like so I left majority of this for the boy to eat as he liked this one better than the quinoa salad we got!

Keen-Wah salad, $10.00
This was definitely my favourite out of the two though! Apparently the boy and I have different taste buds. I loved the cashews! And the pickled cucumber! And the quinoa! I found the tahini dressing quite thick and sticky but I guess the little juicy bits of cucumber contrasted quite well with it and broke through the heaviness of the dressing.

I'm quite keen to come back to try those sticky ribs! Service was lovely and attentive, so I left sated and happy for work.

Assembly Bar
488 Kent St 
Sydney, NSW, 2000
9283 8808

Trading Hours
Monday - Friday: 12 noon - 12 midnight
Saturday: 5:00 - 12:00pm
Sunday: Closed

Assembly on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

High tea, Zumborons & Batman!

Today was my first experience of high tea! With me, I had my wonderful workmates A, D and J and it was the last time we could talk to J before she leaves for the USA for exchange this semester - how exciting! I am incredibly jealous because she gets to go to America. What a lucky ducky.

J confirmed our booking and we were lead inside to our table with comfy plush seats! I was instantly wowed by the decor in the Tea Room on the Northern side of QVB. The high ceilings, chandeliers and flora wallpaper created such a sophisticated atmosphere. We had all decided on traditional high tea ($39 per person during weekdays) with pots of Vanilla, Milma Gold and Green Dragon tea. D said she was going to be an hour late as she had to run a few errands for her mum and encouraged us to order first.

I love the classic floral chinaware! Our tea had arrived first and we all tried each other's orders. The Milma Gold was described to be spicily fruity but we all agreed that it lacked any aroma at all and didn't have any of these elements at all! We were quite disappointed that it tasted like the black teas you can buy in bags at the supermarket. The vanilla tea however, but wonderfully aromatic. The Green Dragon was also a favourite as it was a light and refreshing green tea.

Our high tea stand!

Scones, spinach & cheese pastries

The scones were served on a separate plate and arrived warm. We started with the spinach and cheese pastries which were really good with nice, flaky, buttery pastry! The absolute real winner here were the scones though. The outside was nice and crispy with a deliciously fluffy inside. Of course, we topped them with lots of cream and jam ;) Check out the monster scone in the background!

Egg, cucumber & beef sandwiches, savoury custard tarts
I don't know what it is, but there's just something decadent about eating sandwiches with the crusts cut off for you! I enjoyed all the sandwiches but the beef one had to be my favourite. Egg sandwiches are always good and it's pretty hard to mess one up haha. I couldn't particularly tell what the tarts were made of - they were creamy, yet slightly eggy at the same time. A bit hard to discern, but it tasted nice and was gone in a bite! The base goes soggy quite quickly so I would suggest eating these first.

Fruit tarts, opera cakes
I really enjoyed the opera cake! It tasted like a creamy tiramisu and was gone much too quickly. The fruit tart was also nice, the sweet fruit and cream giving way to a buttery shell.

Raspberry macarons, passionfruit melting moments, lemon meringue tarts, mini lemon cupcakes
A favourite on this stand would have to be the mini lemon cupcakes! The cake itself was really flavoursome and moist.

Service was a tad slow, but we had several refills in our pots throughout the afternoon without having to ask. The company however, made up for this and it ended up being a lovely afternoon which went by much too quickly. As we were leaving, we realised we had been sitting and chatting for 4 hours! Oh how time flies by when you are enjoying so many lovely sweets with delightful company ;)

I met up with the boy after I said my goodbyes to the girls and he had a late lunch/extremely early dinner at Pepper Lunch (happy hour from 2-6pm!) before we headed off to The Star. I had some macarons to buy!

I was very disappointed with service there. The girl that served me looked like she didn't want to be there and was blatantly very rude. My sister had wanted some popcorn macarons so I asked whether they had any as I saw some on the storage shelves next to the counter. She cut me off saying they had nothing except for what was in the counter. So I picked out from what was there and left.

From left to right: 2 salted butter caramel, custard crunch, malted milk, peach ice tea, mandarin & yogurt
The first one I tried had been the mandarin and yogurt one and it had gone extremely soggy. To the point that it had almost falled apart when I tried picking it up. And it didn't taste absolutely stunning either as all I could taste was tangerine and absolutely nothing from the yogurt - no tang whatsoever. So I would not recommend getting this one. I've gotten salted caramel and peach ice tea before, so they are always winners. The unexpected surprise was the custard crunch! It had a wonderful creaminess and a little piece of crunchy biscuit in the middle. The malted milk one was nice, but nothing spectacular.

Charlotte, $9.00
INNARDS!! From bottom up: coconut sable, soft coconut sponge, pineapple compote, pineapple cremeaux, toasted white chocolate & pepper mousse, toasted white chocolate
I enjoyed this cake and I could actually taste the pepper! At first, I was like hm what's the flavour that seems so familiar yet I can't place? And then I figured that it was pepper!! Don't worry, it's not like eating a spoonful of pepper, it only gives a slight kick. The cake was pretty yummy overall, though the V8 and coconut mille fuille still holds a higher place in my heart.

Number 2, salted caramel & white chocolate, $5.50 for 2 scoops
We also made a pit stop at Gelato Messina with their tempting gelato displays! It was raining and we did not want to venture outside into the wind and cold and decided to buy some gelato instead. At first I was like why is it called Number 2? But I decided to question it not after I tasted it. Peanut butter gelato, chocolate brownie bits and dulce de leche all in one scoop? I died in a little pool of deliciousness. It was so good. And salted caramel was good, but it couldn't hold a flame next to Mr Number 2. I must go back to eat more of you!

Even after we finished our gelato, it was still dismal outside. But we had to go out to catch our bus as we had a movie date with several other friends at Burwood to watch Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. The cinemas were pretty packed despite being quite a late session. I had my doubts about Anne Hathaway being Catwoman but she was actually really good! I really enjoyed the movie, it was incredibly epic. I shall not write about any more in fear of spoiling it for everyone else!

Happy Tuesday everyone!


The Tea Room, Queen Victoria Building on Urbanspoon Gelato Messina Pyrmont on Urbanspoon Adriano Zumbo P√Ętissier on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 20, 2012

Yogurt love

I spent the day with the boy today which was definitely nice and relaxing as I don't have the chance to hang with him as much as I'd like to. He drove over to my place and I made him sunbake with me outside as the weather was so nice! I was craving baked eggs so that was what I made for lunch and it went beautifully with bread.

After lunch, we hit up Westfield Burwood where I had to buy a few things, namely oats and some sugar-free drinking chocolate. I managed to score a box of Lindt's Swiss Gold Dark Chocolate Pralines for $5, saving $10!! I was ecstatic. I don't understand why it was so cheap though... Is it because people aren't into dark chocolate as much as milk or white? Well, I definitely am not complaining because they taste amazing.

And what day is complete without frozen yogurt? Noggi is like my second home.

I love their blood orange flavour! I know you guys have probably heard me rave about Noggi's blood orange frozen yogurt many times but it tastes sooo good. And I was super happy they still had to flavour there from last week so it was a definite order along with our usual biscotti. And no frozen yogurt is complete without toppings! You can only see pineapple there but there was mochi and almonds underneath the mound of pineapple. A combination of chewy, crunchy, and juicy. Bliss.

Baked Eggs
an original recipe by Crystal Noir

Serves 2

This is the type of recipe that you need to keep safe for a cold Winter's day. It really is so simple to make, and it will warm you right up. Just serve with some buttered toast or you can even make some garlic bread to mop up the flavoursome sauce.


1 large tomato, cut into chunks
4-6 tablespoons tomato paste or your choice of sauce (I used Leggo's tomato and mozzarella oven bake)
50g frozen corn, defrosted
50g mozzarella cheese or your choice of cheese
2 eggs
salt and pepper
Spring onion to garnish
Bread to serve


1. Preheat oven to 200C. Divide the tomato paste between the two ramekins. Top with tomato chunks, corn, and any other vegetables of your preference (you can add in as many vegetables as you want or as much as your ramekin can fit! You could add mushroom, peas, etc. The possibilities are endless. I even added a tablespoon of leftover fried rice here! And I'm sure you meatlovers out there might want to add in some bacon, ham or even some chorizo). Add shredded cheese and break an egg on top. Season liberally with salt and pepper and sprinkle spring onion on top. Bake in the oven for 10-20 minutes or until egg is cooked through. Serve with char grilled bread.

Noggi on Urbanspoon