Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ideas for Christmas Fondant Design Cookies

When Christmas is round the corner, it's time to show appreciation and shower everyone you know with Beautiful cookies as gifts! Here is some creative ideas for you~ Drop us a comment if you need more clarity on how to make them.

Base Cookies Recipes
Almond Sardie Cookie Recipe

Our 1st Imaginary Christmas Set
- Christmas Bear in Boot Cookie
- Snowflake Bell Cookie
- Christmas Tree Cookie
- Candy Cane Cookie

We'll upload more ideas when we create!

Click here for our blog page Baking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Almond Sardie Cookie Recipe


This recipe makes approc 30 pcs of roll-out and cut-out cookies.


Cookie Recipe
230g Butter (softened)
0.5 cups Icing Sugar
2 tablespoon Milk
2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2.5 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
0.75 cups of Ground Almond Powder

Cream together butter and Icing Sugar. Add milk, Vanilla Extract and mix well. Sift in Flour and Salt and mix until incorporated. Sift in Ground Almond Powder. Roll out the dough and use cookie cutters to cut them out in to desire shapes.

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C. Bake on silicon mat for 8mins to 10mins or until slightly light brown.

Let it cool and you'll be ready to decorate your cookies. ENJOY!!!!!!

Some tips from us after our 1st attempt:
- If the dough is dry, add 1 teaspoon of Milk and as much as needed.
- Recommended to mix the dough and let it chill overnight in the fridge.
- Leave it on the counter top to bring it back to room tempreture before baking.
- You can store the mixed cookie dough (well wrapped) in the fridge for up to 3 to 5 days.
- To allow the flavour and fragrance to develop further, store cookies in an airtight container overnight before serving.

Click here for our blog page Baking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dinner Degustation at Sepia - Sydney's Best Restaurant 2014!

Best Restaurant is often quite subjective. If you were to randomly ask ten of your friends which is their best (favorite) restaurant, chances are you'd get a list of ten different ones. If you're a local you could go try each restaurant to see which is your best; but if you're a traveller/visitor that really isn't an option. Best course of action then, is to get a copy of the most prominent food review book like the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Food Guide and find out what the "experts" think.

Which is how we end up in Sepia! The SMH Good Food Guide has awarded this CBD eatery Sydney's Restaurant of the Year three times - in its' 2012, 2014 and 2015 editions. Helmed by Chef Martin Benn, Sepia's cuisine is normally classified as contemporary, but as we'll see it has really strong Japanese influences.

Sepia Best Restaurant in Sydney

(In the interest of full disclosure, Quay was actually our first choice because of the gorgeous Sydney Harbour views ... but they are fully booked months in advance)

Dining area is nice and sleek (if a little dim when the sun goes down), service is good - staff know the ingredients and dishes by heart and are courteous and friendly without being overbearing. We choose the multi-course degustation and start off the gastronomical journey with the amuse-bouche - Sake-cured Marron with Sushi Rice - which serves as a declaration of Chef Martin's strong leanings towards Japanese cuisine. This is a lot like sushi, actually - warm cured Marron flesh sitting on a bed of rice-vinegar'ed short-grain rice. A tad bit too much rice vinegar, perhaps - when it comes to sushi we prefer our rice flavoured a little on the sweet side.

Sepia Best Restaurant in Sydney

If you're wondering what Marron is - it's a species of crayfish that seems to really be only used extensively in Australia, and tastes somewhat like a larger, firmer langoustine.

Anyways, the first course proper is the Sashimi of Yellow Fin tuna with Jamon Iberico cream, radish, apple and wasabi, and pork crackling. It's sashimi, exquisitely presented fine-dining style. The accompanying ingredients work remarkably, particularly the crisp and flavour imparted by the crumbed pork crackling. In dishes like these the main ingredient can sometimes get lost but here it's balanced perfectly such that the yellow fin tuna sashimi remains the star of the show.

Sepia Best Restaurant in Sydney

Moving on then to the House made chèvre (french for goat cheese) with rhubarb, beetroot, rye and Linaria flowers. The goat cheese forms the base of the dish followed by layers of beetroot gelee and beetroot soil. This was the weakest dish of the night for me - partially because I don't like beetroot, but mainly because the darling and I found the soil a little hard. Some of the soil crumble would get stuck on our teeth (like undercooked rice) and it just wasn't a pleasant experience. Objectively however the flavour balance between the savoury/sweet beetroot and slightly yoghurty goat cheese was excellent.

Sepia Best Restaurant in Sydney

The first of the hot courses is Butter poached spanner crab on housemade silken tofu with chrysanthemum and kabu cream, fried garlic and tatsoi (a kind of spinach mustard leaf). The tofu was light and silky-smooth; the spanner crab sweet and delicate; everything flavoured wonderfully.

Sepia Best Restaurant in Sydney

More Western Australian Marron - this time with kombu butter, candied lemon aspen and native sea vegetables. Dishes like these are why I like travelling and eating so much - it's like a pilgrimage to a country to partake of the ingredients that country has to offer. You can never get the same experience back home in Singapore because well ... we're a city-state with no land and have to import everything. The Marron here is cooked wonderfully as well, and the accompanying umami from the kombu-ish seaweed and other vegetables is great.

Sepia Best Restaurant in Sydney

We're a little amused that the breads are served in the middle of the degustation (instead of before the meal starts like in practically every other restaurant). The milk bun here was delicious served warm - but it being a dense bread we didn't dare ask for seconds.

Sepia Best Restaurant in Sydney

My favorite dish of the night by far: Charcoal grilled David Blackmore wagyu karubi (short rib) with Japanese pickles, miso mustard and ice plant. These chunks of heavenly beef are the best I've ever eaten - even better than Japan's iconic Kobe Beef (we had A5 sirloin and tenderloin a couple of years ago). Juicy, beefy, awesome. Anyone who thinks non-Japanese Wagyu can't match up to Japanese Wagyu should take a serious shot at Blackmore's beef.

Sepia Best Restaurant in Sydney

Next up - Seared Mandagery Creek venison with sansho pepper, roasted Japanese pumpkin and Saikyo miso Jerusalem artichoke. The lean, gamey venison wasn't anything special to me (although it was cooked well) - but I really enjoyed the pumpkin purée and leaf-shaped pumpkin crisps. I don't recall there being any artichokes anywhere on the plate though ...

Sepia Best Restaurant in Sydney

The darling doesn't eat venison so she got some Scampi with Sheep Yoghurt layered with thinly-sliced apple crisps. I've always wondered how Chefs deal with dietary / special ingredient requests, particularly with 'fixed' menus. Do they already pre-decide a list of "If a guest doesn't want X dish we will give him/her Y instead" or do they make it up on the fly?

Sepia Best Restaurant in Sydney

The savoury food tour concluded, we move on to the palate-cleansing pre-dessert: Rose Flower Ice Cream with Elder flower snow and Flower Petal Granita. Despite the rather haphazard presentation we really liked the light, flowery, refreshing flavour notes from the shaved ice and ice cream.

Sepia Best Restaurant in Sydney

Of course, no dinner at Sepia would be complete without trying their Spring chocolate forest - having made an appearance on this year's Masterchef. The ingredients change a little based on season - the Spring version has Soft chocolate, hazelnut and almond praline, lavender and honey cream, blackberry sorbet, caramel and shiso vinegar jellies, green tea, licorice, chocolate twigs and crystallised fennel fronds. That's one hell of an ingredient list! I like this dessert - a lot - and the darling excitedly proclaims this her favorite plate of the night.

Sepia Best Restaurant in Sydney

Food of these stratospheric heights doesn't come cheap - this degustation menu was AUD 190 per person - but eaten sparingly on special occasions I think it's good value for money. Overall we thoroughly enjoyed the night - nice ambience, good service and great food. The only thing missing is a killer view - add that and this would perhaps be the perfect restaurant!

Sepia is in the heart of the Sydney CBD on Sussex Street, and is open for dinner on Tuesdays-Sundays (lunch on Friday and Saturday only). Reservations highly recommended. Non-halal.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Chef Matsuhisa's Signature Omakase at Nobu Melbourne, Crown Entertainment Complex.

Nobu is probably the most well known Japanese Restaurant chain in the world. At time of writing, Chef Matsuhisa has a mind-boggling thirty-one Nobu restaurants spread over every single populated continent on earth (the only one missing is Antarctica). So of course being self-professed Japanese foodies, we would simply have no choice but to dine at one his restaurants sooner or later.

Nobu Melbourne Omakase

For our initiation into the world of Nobu we choose the Melbourne restaurant - simply because we so happen to be here for my 24th (ahem) birthday. Situated near the Crown Towers Hotel in the Crown Entertainment Complex, Nobu Melbourne's dining area is dark, noisy and loud. So loud that even hearing your waitresses becomes a chore. Oh, and the floor has a constant vibration which gets pretty annoying by the end of the night.

No matter; we're here for the food, after all. Nobu has an extensive ala-carte menu but we declare #YOLO and order the Nobu Signature Omakase for AUD 135/pax (whole table must partake). The nine-courses of sinful goodness starts off with Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño, in a yuzu ponzu sauce. It's a nice opening to the meal - the jalapeño adding a little tart spiciness to the sashimi and showcasing Chef Matsuhisa's willingness to embrace non-Japanese ingredients in his cuisine.

Nobu Melbourne Omakase Yellowtail Sashimi

Moving on to more raw seafood - Scallop Sashimi with Chili Salt, sliced cucumber, yuzu dressing and a small sweet fruit named 山桃 (yamamomo - literally "Mountain Peach"). Scallop was delicate and sweet, although the flavor profile did seem a tad similar to the yellowtail (a little heat, a lot of citrus). We also prefer our sashimi to be cut a little chunkier.

Nobu Melbourne Omakase Scallops with Chili Salt

After the sashimi comes the Sushi Platter - tuna, red snapper, and a new fish to us - King George Whiting. Pretty good - nice fish-to-riceball ratio, and the fish was fresh (although we prefer our lean tuna marinated in shoyu for smoothnes). However the shari (rice) lacks flavour - we would have much preferred an added dosage of rice vinegar and/or a little sweetness like the gorgeous rice at Shinji.

The fourth sushi served in the platter is Nobu's unique Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna. The rice ball seems to have been deep fried and then topped off with raw minced tuna. Tasted interesting but we didn't quite like how the fried bits got stuck all around the mouth/teeth.

Nobu Melbourne Omakase Sushi Platter

Moving on from the raw seafood we then get this Lightly seared Wagyu with sesame oil and yuzu shoyu, topped with sliced ginger and chopped spring onions. No word on what marble score this wagyu is but it's delicious, especially with the fragrance of the sesame oil. A slight nitpick though; the darling's sauce was a little off balance with too much shoyu, making her dish a tad bit too salty.

Nobu Melbourne Omakase Wagyu with Sesame Oil and Yuzu Shoyu

The meal continues with Soft Shell Crab with diced watermelon and ponzu sauce. If you're counting this is the fourth dish out of five with citrus (and three out of five with soy sauce). I enjoy citrusy flavours as much as the next guy but at this stage it was getting to be a bit sour overload. What made it particularly noticeable on this dish is that the batter on the crab soaked up a LOT of the sauce. A shame, really, because the crab itself was cooked/fried to near perfection.

Nobu Melbourne Omakase Soft Shell Crab in Ponzu Sauce

From the world's most renowned Japanese restaurant comes their most iconic dish - Black Cod Miso. It's good - soft and moist flesh on the inside, with generous sweet crusted miso on the outide. Served with a sprig of pickled young ginger to nibble on and cleanse the palatte if the miso becomes too sweet.

Nobu Melbourne Omakase Black Cod Miso with Pickled Ginger

Last solid dish of the night - Baby Chicken with Sweet Miso. The shredded onion and cucumber with micro herb topping gave a pleasant South Asian taste. We thought the chicken was cooked well but otherwise didn't particularly stand out though.

Nobu Melbourne Omakase Baby Chicken with Sweet Miso Sauce

Which brings us to the closing hot dish of the night - Red Snapper Broth with soba noodles and micro chives. It's a light and refreshing fish broth, nicely portioned to transition to desserts!

Nobu Melbourne Omakase Red Snapper Broth with Micro Chives

Our omakase dessert is a Whisky Cappuccino. Despite the somewhat monotonous all-white exterior, hiding under the cap of whisky foam are three distinct layers - Coffee Crumble, Coffee Cake and Coffee/Chocolate Mousse. You grab a spoon, dig right to the bottom and try to get all four layers at once. It's sinful and utterly delicious, and the flavor from the whisky foam gives the illusion of having a strong drink without the associated blood alcohol content. Genius!

Nobu Melbourne Omakase Whisky Cappuccino

We also get a pair of chocolates filled with mousse - one green tea and one olive oil and miso. Olive oil and miso in a chocolate? Yes, olive oil and miso in a chocolate.

Nobu Melbourne Omakase Petit Fours

Looking back at all nine courses, we did feel a tinge of disappointment - perhaps due in part to sky-high expectations. The food was good but not great; accomplished but not visionary. We also weren't big fans of (in our opinion) the excessive usage of soy sauce and citrus over too many dishes; and the dining atmosphere is really noisy. Almost like a Chinese Restaurant Wedding Banquet! Having said that, the flagship menu pricing at AUD 135 is very reasonable compared to other top-tier Aussie restaurants whose degustations are easily in the AUD 200 plus range.

For our readers in the Malaysia/Singapore region, Nobu Kuala Lumpur is a much closer restaurant serving much the same items; Omakase at the KL restaurant is a little pricier at around MYR 440 after service charge and taxes.

Nobu Melbourne is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Reservations recommended.