incident party

International Cake Pop Incident Party

International Incident Cake Pops Party

Time for another IIP party, and this month the theme is cake pops. Our host, Penny, also has her birthday this month – happy birthday dear! :)

I have a bit of a sad tale to tell. I tried making cake pops and failed! Buh bow! And with no time to do redo them, I figured I may as well show that it’s not always success, cupcakes and fairy floss in my kitchen!

I think it just wasn’t meant to be. First, I couldn’t find lollipop sticks – I went to four different shops and couldn’t track any down, so I settled on popsicle sticks. Then, I had a BRILLIANT idea. I thought I’d make cake popsicles (since I had the sticks!) and thought that I might be able to make cheesecake popsicles. Except… they didn’t harden enough to be able to pull them out of the molds. :( I had increased the amount of gelatine in the cheesecake, but obviously didn’t add enough. I tried freezing them, but I was on a limited time schedule and after several hours when they still hadn’t frozen I went to Plan B.

Plan B was freezer cake. Since I didn’t have enough time to bake a cake and let it cool, I decided to use some cupcakes and frosting I had stashed in the freezer. Such a fantastic idea! I defrosted the cakes and frosting, and mixed them together before forming them into balls.

Then I dipped the popsicle sticks into melted chocolate and inserted them into the balls. They were looking good at this stage. I managed to successfully dip one of them into melted chocolate and coat it in crushed biscuits.

Sadly, it was all downhill from there. That one lonely cake pop was my only successful one.

Perhaps my balls were too large and heavy, because I couldn’t get them to stay on the sticks! Look at this sad character – can you hear his cry for help?

I gave up, but I’m sure that the other participants were far more successful in their cake pop attempts! Check them out below, or go to the IIP forum for a round up.

International Incident Sundae Party

Melbourne has been humid, humid, humid lately. This has been a weird summer – LOTS of rain and very little of the dry heat that stretches for days, that is more usual of our summers. Thank you La Nina, you can stop now.

International Incident Sundae Party

Well, at least ice cream is good for any type of heat – dry or humid. So it’s fortunate that the theme for this month’s incident party is “sundae”, to which I’m bringing sesame ice cream, topped with red bean sauce.

I grew up eating black sesame and white sesame in desserts – namely black sesame soup or sesame seed balls. I really wanted to showcase both types, so I made ice cream from both! With the white sesame, I toasted the seeds in a dry frying pan, and then ground them to a paste using a mortar and pestle. If you’re ever grinding sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle, I recommend doing it a small amount at a time. Once I was making sauce for shabu shabu and poured a large amount of sesame into the mortar and pestle – it took me half an hour before I had sesame paste! Extremely painful experience, and it would’ve been much quicker if I had done a small amount at a time.

With the black sesame, I used black sesame powder that I purchased at an Asian grocery store. For both ice creams, I used an ice cream recipe that I’ve made before, that has an Italian egg mousse base that’s folded into whipped cream.

The ice creams turned out well – before freezing, I preferred the white sesame version. It was sweeter and nuttier. However, after freezing I found that I liked the black sesame one more! It was more assertively nutty and fragrant, and the white sesame one turned out creamier and less flavoursome. The black sesame was a touch grainy (since I did add rather a lot of sesame powder!) but after freezing it wasn’t a big issue. But I do think I can improve on it – next time!

And finally, when I was thinking about this sundae, I wondered how I could make it even MORE ASIAN. :D Red bean sauce immediately came to mind! So when I was ready to put it together, I spooned over red bean sauce that I had made from purchased red bean paste thinned out with boiling water (with a touch of red food colouring to keep the red colour). It was the perfect topping for my sundae!

Thanks, as always, to Penny for hosting this IIP and see the other delicious creations at the IIP forum.

Black/white sesame ice cream

Adapted from: Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course

1/4 cup white sesame seeds
3/4 cup black sesame powder (to taste)
4 egg yolks
100g sugar
250ml water
600ml thickened cream, softly whipped

Toast the white sesame seeds in a dry frying pan until fragrant. Grind to a paste in a mortar and pestle – do this a small amount at a time otherwise it will take forever! Set aside.

Place the egg yolks in a bowl/mixer and whisk over high speed until they are pale and fluffy.

In a saucepan, combine the water and sugar and stir over a medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove the spoon and increase the heat until it boils. Let the syrup boil until it reaches the “thread” stage – 106-113°C – it will be quite thick, and when a metal spoon is dipped into it, the drops of syrup will form firm threads.

While whisking the egg yolks, pour the hot syrup on to them.

Spoon out half of the egg yolk mixture and set aside.

To one half of the egg yolk mixture add the white sesame paste and fold together. To the other half, add the black sesame powder. Fold in half of the softly whipped cream to each mixture and pour into separate stainless steel or plastic bowls, cover and freeze.

When serving, remove from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with red bean sauce, made with red bean paste and thinned with a bit of boiling water.

Baby chili cheese dogs

For the first International Incident Party for 2011, we’re all about hot dogs. True to form, I’ve left it to the very last minute and was up early this morning to finish cooking, assembling and photographing my dish. However, the cats were super happy to see me so early and lots of purring and head butting ensured. Awwness! (Though they were probably happier that they were being fed early rather than at seeing me!)

International Incident Hot Dog Party

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International Incident Salt Party

Let’s talk about salt. Too much of it, and food is inedible. Too little of it, and food tastes so bland it may as well be inedible! Too much salt in our diets leads to health problems, and yet we require a small amount of salt to live. Not only do we use salt in seasoning food, but it’s also one of the oldest ways of preserving food, and a lot of salt is used in industrial uses, such as manufacturing soap and detergents, and in the production of paper.

International Incident Salt Party

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International Incident Eggs Party

Eggs

International Incident Eggs Party

For the International Incident Party this month, we are celebrating the humble egg. Eggs are amazing (eggmazing? Sorry. Couldn’t resist!). You can eat them raw, cooked, or put them in savoury dishes, sweet dishes, or baked goods – they’re so versatile. The properties of eggs make them invaluable in baking and cooking. Egg yolks have emulsification properties that allow fats to stay dispersed in water and vice versa, which promotes thickening and stability. The emulsification properties also give baked goods a smooth, creamy texture. And egg whites, when whipped, have great foaming properties and are often used to incorporate air and foam into baked goods. Meringues and pavlovas wouldn’t be possible without egg whites!
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Lemonade scones

Scones

International Scones Incident Party

After the success of the previous International Incident Parties, this month we have scones to celebrate the birthdays of Cherrie and Anh. Happy birthday!

When I was in primary school back in NZ, we used to have lessons that we called “‘manual’ – where we learnt cooking, sewing, and woodworking. My favourite was the cooking (surprise surprise), probably because in woodworking all I could turn out were wonky wooden pencil cases, and in sewing I made boring bookmarks and cushions. But in cooking – oh cooking! In cooking we made things like apple crumble, Anzac biscuits, and scones, and not only was it fun, but we got to take our food home and eat it!

So I have a fondness for scones, though for some reason I don’t make them often. Scones have a reputation for being simple, but that simplicity is rather deceptive as it’s far too easy to bake a flat, dry, puck rather than a light, fluffy tower.
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International Noodles Incident Party

Hand pulled noodles

International Pizza Pie Incident Party

Following on from the success of the dumpling, pizza pie and gnocchi parties – we’re having noodles!

I am a big fan of noodles, most kinds of noodles in fact. See the ramen hunt post as an example of my dedication to noodle goodness. As soon as the theme was announced, I had a fairly good idea of what I wanted to make. We had so much fun making soba noodles in Japan, that I really wanted to make my own noodles – and what better noodles to make than hand pulled noodles?

Oodles of noodles

When Alastair and I were in China years ago, one of our most memorable meals was a bowl of noodles at a street stall. We watched the noodles being pulled in front of us, and five minutes later we were tucking in. Amazing.

I knew that I wouldn’t be able to come close to replicating that meal. Hand pulling noodles is a skill that takes lots of practice to develop, but hey – I’m always up for a challenge!

I followed the instructions on this website – How to make hand pulled noodles. The dough is easy to put together – it’s basically flour, water, salt, a tiny amount of baking soda, and oil. The dough needs to be kneaded for a long time – to “destroy the gluten structure” according to the website, until it gets to a point where it stretches easily without breaking. I let my mixer do the kneading, but even after 25 minutes my dough didn’t reach that point and I couldn’t do the first pull without it breaking.

Hand pulled noodles
Now panic and freak out!

Finally, I figured out that if I added more water, it made the dough more supple and less prone to breaking. So eventually, after rather a lot more water, YAY NOODLES. I still had a lot of problems with the noodles breaking, and they were all uneven thicknesses, but look!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auhHl5-6VdY]

If you watch the above video, you can see how wet the dough is at the beginning. If I was ever silly enough to want to try pulling noodles again, I would try lots and lots more water. I wish I had started with wetter dough – it probably would’ve been much easier!

Hand pulled noodles

If you’re considering trying this, let me tell you. It is HARD. I now have first hand experience of exactly how hard it is, and goodness gracious do I appreciate the skill that is involved in pulling noodles! It is definitely something that takes a lot of practice.

Hand pulled noodles

It took me so long to make the noodles (we’re talking hours…) that I was exhausted afterwards and couldn’t be bothered doing much with them. Fortunately, I had a large pot of chicken stock already made, so I boiled up the noodles and served them in the chicken stock with some enoki mushrooms. They tasted okay, but not amazing…. not like I had spent hours making them! But I’m really glad I gave it a shot.

That’s it for my contribution to the International Noodle Incident Party. See Addictive and Consuming for the round up or check out the following links:

  • Penny aka Jeroxie – Addictive & ConsumingHomemade ban mian with minced pork and mushrooms
  • Christine – Christine’s RecipesSpicy Pork Mince and Noodles in Crisp Lettuce Cups
  • Mardi – Eat, Live, Travel, WriteGinger scallion & Butter noodles
  • Trix – Tasty TrixSummer ‘Noodles’ with yellow and green zuchinni with cool basil oil tomato sauce
  • Shirley – Enriching your kidVermicilli Biryani with Tahini
  • Natasha – 5 Star FoodieHomemade Soba Noodles
  • Joanne – Second Helping
  • Cherry – Sweet Cherry PieCoconut noodles with honey glazed pork belly
  • Tracey – Tangled Noodle
  • Evelyne – Cheap Ethnic EatzIncidental Noodles
  • Ms Baklover - Footscray Food BlogZha Jiang Mian
  • Casey – Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgari
  • Tamar – Koreanfornian CookingTteokbokki
  • Billy – Half-EatenPumpkin Miso Noodles in Shitake Dashi Broth
  • Nina – Consumed Food LoveVietnamese Noodle Salad
  • Suresh – 3 hungry tummiesTwice cooked pork with rice noodles
  • Anh – A food Lover’s Journey – Taco Soba Noodle
  • International Dumpling Incident Party

    Dumplings

    International Pizza Pie Incident Party

    It’s time for another International Incident Party hosted by Penny from Addictive and Consuming, and this time we’re bringing dumplings to the table. When I started thinking about what I was going to make, I immediately thought of the mother of all dumplings (imho) – Shanghai soup dumplings / xiao long bao. But after a bit of research on the internet I decided it would be too much trouble and tried hard to think of an easier alternative.

    I walk past a butcher on my way to work every day and as well as all the usual cuts of meat they also sell a lot of offal. Last week I noticed they had a tray of pork skin in the window – and since pork skin is one of the components of the broth that goes in the xiao long bao I decided it was a sign that it was meant to be!

    Xiao long bao

    For those uninitiated in the magic of xiao long bao, they are dumplings with a meat filling that contains jelly made from a savoury soup. When the xiao long bao are steamed, the jelly turns into a piping hot soup inside the wrapper. They are WONDERFUL. After picking up my pork skin and chicken carcasses, I set to work.

    Stage one in making the dumplings was to prepare a broth out of chicken bones, pork skin, ginger and onions. After the broth was ready, I added flavourless gelatine to set it into a jelly.

    On Sunday morning I got up early just so I could make them. First I made the dough for the xiao long bao wrappers. The dough had to rest for thirty minutes, so while that was happening I put together the meat filling, which has the jelly mixed into. I wish I had read the filling recipe before I made the jelly, because it turns out only 1 & 1/2 cups of jelly is required – but the recipe said to make 4 cups of jelly. Rah! I was a bit annoyed – maybe because I was up early and hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet!

    After that it was time to roll out the dough and pleat the dumplings. I started off by rolling out the dough and using a cookie cutter to cut out circles, but eventually found it easier to roll the pieces of dough thinly into circles. The thinner the dumpling dough was, the easier it was to pleat (and the better they are to eat as well). My pleating was not great – but hey it was my first time!

    Xiao long bao

    The xiao long bao were steamed and, after giving them a bit of time to cool down, it was time for a taste test. It probably took me about an hour to make forty xiao long bao – but it certainly didn’t take that long to eat them! I thought my wrappers were still a bit thick, but the filling was tasty and, JOY OF JOYS, the steaming hot soup was contained inside. We ate them with vinegar. Nice! I was rather pleased with my effort – they weren’t complicated to make, just time consuming. The hardest part was not losing the soup after they had been steamed – the little buggers had a tendency to stick to anything and everything!

    I also made har gow / prawn dumplings, apparently because I hadn’t spent enough time making dumplings! I found the har gow much harder to make than the xiao long bao. I could tell when I went to roll out the har gow wrappers that it was too stiff. Because the dough was relatively stiff, I couldn’t get the wrappers to be as thin as I wanted them, and I also couldn’t pleat them nicely. You really want a very thin wrapper for har gow, because the best ones have that translucent, thin skin when steamed.

    Har gow

    The har gow were, as I expected, not great. Bro said they were better than the xiao long bao, but Alastair wasn’t a fan. I didn’t think they were terribly great, although not THAT bad for my first attempt. However, I don’t think I’ll try making har gow again – it’s too much effort to master the wrappers.

    So that’s it for my contribution to the International Dumpling Incident Party. See Addictive and Consuming for the round up, I’ll update this post later with links for all the party goers.

    Recipes:

    Xiao long bao

    For the xiao long bao, I found Steamy Kitchen’s post very useful.

    Har gow

    For the har gow, I followed this recipe on About.com.