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Finished!

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Man at work.

Nicholas is making me (us) a desk. He still needs to paint and sand it so I can’t reveal the masterpiece just yet. All I can say is that we drew inspiration from the following pictures. Can’t wait for ours to be finished!

Oh, and here’s a sneaky pic of him hard at work…

And although the mixture looks quite delicious here, they were a complete disaster!
Leave them to Adriano Zumbo I say…

My favourite food is food that you can play with (burritos, fondue, antipasto platters), so I have been eating a lot of rice paper rolls lately, all thanks to this delicious dipping sauce recipe I found in the Crown St Cooks cook book.

Nuoc tuong ngoc (hoisin dipping sauce)
½ hoisin sauce
1 ½ tbsp white vinegar
½ cup mik

Combine hoisin and vinegar in a saucepan and heat. Stir in milk and heat until just at boiling point. Set aside to cool. Serve on with all your various rice paper roll ingredients (I use prawns, dried vermicelli noodles, crispy lettuce, carrots, chives, mint leaves, chilli and roasted peanuts). Amazing x

Pigs in blankets…

Pork and Fennel Sausage Rolls
(Slighty adapted from the Bourke St Bakery recipe)

30ml extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
40g fennel seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle
4 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
150g brown onions, finely chopped
150g celery, finely chopped
150g carrots, finely chopped
1.2 kg lean minced pork
40g dry breadcrumbs
20g salt
15g white pepper
10 sheets puff pastry
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
Fennel seeds, for sprinkling

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the fennel seeds and thyme and stir together for 1 minute, or until aromatic. Add the onion and celery and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened. Add the carrots and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables are mushy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Put the pork mince into a large bowl and add the cooled vegetables, breadcrumbs, salt and white pepper. Using your hands, mix the meat quite forcefully for 3 minutes to thoroughly combine. At this stage it is best to roll up a little ball of the meat mixture and cook it in a hot frying pan for 2 minutes to check the flavour. You may find it is too salty, however once the mix is encased in pastry the saltiness should even out. But if you cannot taste the salt at all then you need to add a pinch or two more. Preheat the oven to 200C.

Make an egg wash by whisking together the egg, milk and a pinch of salt. Divide the pork mixture into six even-sized portions. On a clean work surface, roll each portion out into a 20cm log with a 4cm diameter. Place each log in the centre of a pastry sheet and brush one long edge with egg wash. Firmly fold the pastry over, pressing to enclose the log tightly, leaving the ends open. Cut each roll into two even-sized pieces and place on baking trays lined with baking paper. Brush the top of each roll with egg wash and sprinkle with fennel seeds. Reduce the oven temperature to 190C and bake for 35-40mins, or until they are golden brown and delicious. Serve with chutney and a green salad.

Vanilla Goodness

Last weekend I hosted a Gold Soiree at my house, to raise money for the Sydney Children’s Hospital’s Gold Week campaign. Guests were asked to wear a touch of gold and I tried to theme the food around the colour gold, including making these tasty vanilla cupcakes, and decorating them with a ‘gold’ praline.

Sparkle Cupcakery’s Vanilla Cupcakes

(Via the Crown St Cooks cookbook)

260g butter
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
4 eggs
3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Buttery Vanilla Icing

115g butter
2 1/2 cups pure icing sugar
1 egg white
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 150ºC. Sift flour and baking powder. Cream butter and sugar on high speed with egg beaters for 5-15mins, depending on butter’s softness. Add eggs, one at a time, allowing to combine and not curdle. Add ½ the sifted flour and baking powder and ½ the milk and vanilla paste. Mix lightly to combine. Add remaining sifted flour and baking powder, then remaining milk and vanilla paste. Mix through to combine to a smooth batter.

Spoon mix into cupcake foils. Bake for 30mins on 140ºC to 160ºC (oven temperature may vary, depending on type).

To make topping, cream butter and icing sugar on high speed with egg beater for between 5 and 10 mins, depending upon softness of butter. Add egg white, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Cream for an additional 3mins. Use to ice cooled cupcakes.

In no particular order…

1. Stay at The Bali Dream Villa (Seminyak) and enjoy a private pool, heavily air-conned rooms, free taxis,  lovely staff and nasi goreng for breakfast.

2. Try traditional Balinese street food from one of the many street vendors. I was a bit chicken so only tried BBQ’ed  corn with chili butter, but trust me when I say it was totally worth any food poisoning I may have received!

3. Take a Bali Hai cruise to a pontoon on the coast of Lembongan island, complete with diving, snorkeling, water slide, massages, banana boat, submarine, diving board, massive buffet lunch and boat to Lembongan.

4. Have a drink and a swim at Alila Ubud (or better yet, stay there).

5. Order a taxi from Gede (pronounced G’day); the best taxi driver in the world (gedemurjana@yahoo.com) .

6. Have Yogi from Yogi Bear Tailor (Kuta) make all the clothes your heart desires.

7. Have dinner at La Sal Spanish tapas restaurant (Seminyak) , sample their extensive cocktail list and order the white chocolate mousse with passionfruit heart for dessert (one of the best desserts I have eaten in my life).

8. Visit the monkey forest in Ubud. Buy bananas at the entrance if you want to be attacked. One of the most terrifying, yet hilarious moments of my life.

9. Try Nasi Gudeg (a traditional Indonesian dish) at Gabah restaurant in Kuta (across the road from the Kuta markets).

10. Spend a day at Waterbom water park (Kuta) and relax between rides with a massage and a fish spa.

11. Have a few cocktails at Potato Head (Seminyak) and go for a dip in their infinity pool.

12. Go for a dip in the warm waters of Jimbaran Bay and cool off with a $2 Magnum!

13. Shop the Kuta markets for jewelry, Bintang singlets, sarongs and designer rip-offs. $2 imitation Ray Ban Wayfarers? Sweet!

14. Have dinner at The Junction restaurant (Seminyak Square). Pricey for Bali standards, but the food is cheap as chips, compared to its Australian counterparts.

15. Have a Bintang, the local beer of choice. At AUD$2 it’s hardly a premium drop, but is definitley drinkable- especially on a hot day.

16. Head to Spa Bali (Seminyak). We went there four times. Can highly recommend the full body massage, mani-pedi, facial, full body scrub, flower bath and their delicious ginger tea.

17. Order McDonalds delivered. I do not eat McDonalds, but my friends all considered this a highlight so I will make it a recommendation anyway.

18. Have a seafood BBQ on the beach at Surya Cafe (Jimbaran Bay) at sunset, and make sure you get Mani as your waiter.

19. Hire scooters and flirt with death in the crazy Kuta traffic. We hired ours from Yogi Bear.

20. Spend up large at the all exclusive Rock Bar in Jimbaran. I’ve never used the expression ‘out of this world’ before, but there seems to be no other suitable way of describing it!

21. Have lunch at The Corner Store (Seminyak). They nail the simple sandwich that Australian cafe’s struggle to offer, let alone master. Cute little clothing and home-ware store Tuck Shop also adjoins the cafe. Bliss.