The Occasional Epicure

Occasional updates on my eating and cooking adventures...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Queensland Multicultural Festival

A few weeks ago RJ and I went along to the Queensland Multicultural Festival. It was one of the first really hot days of the summer, and we arrived at about 12.30, hungry and stinking hot!

The first thing we did was head straight for the food. I had the very best intentions of wandering around checking out all of the fantastic multicultural offerings and snapping heaps of fantastic photos, Grab Your Fork-style. (No-one documents an outdoor food event quite like our friend Augustus Gloop!) However when I saw the absolutely enormous crowds I quickly realised that it would be pretty much impossible to meander around the stalls calmly snapping photos and making a well-considered decision about what to eat for lunch. I had to pick a stall and get into a queue - stat! - if I wanted to get something to eat.

I headed for the satay tent - not that adventurous, I admit! RJ took off saying he'd spotted something-or-other that he had to have. Being packed in with all those other satay lovers was kind of stifling, made even more uncomfortable every time the wind blew a big gust of hot air over everyone!

However! It was worth the wait! The satays were cooked over hot coals, and when they were done they were whacked into a big batch of sauce where they waited until they were fished out and served with rice and a spring roll.

The best chicken satays - ever

By the time I'd secured our satays RJ was halfway through a favourite food of his that he has never thought to tell me about before! It is this delicious Hungarian snap fried bread. It was crisp and delicious! And next time I see it for sale somewhere I'll be jumping in that queue!

Cute pink shirt RJ!

My favourite part of the day's entertainment was the lion dancing

We survived the heat and had a good day. And hopefully my next festival photo-taking attempts will be just a little bit more fruitful! :)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Oaty date slice

Winter in Queensland is long gone. I love eating porridge for breakfast every day when the weather is cold, but once there's a hint of warmth in the air it's straight back to cereal and cold milk. This year I miscalculated when the porridge days would end, and finished up with an oversupply of rolled oats.

I needed help! Who could suggest a use for these lovely and healthy grains? (Are oats classified as a grain? Somebody, please advise!) Anyway, the lovely AugustusGloop came to my rescue with an old favourite recipe of hers, from her grade seven home economics text book no less.

I also had a bag of dates in the pantry that I'd bought to make some scroggin which didn't quite eventuate. Wouldn't you know it - AG's recipe included dates too! Everything was just falling into place!

Following AG's hot tip, I left this in the oven for a bit longer than the prescribed 15-20 minutes - about 35 minutes all up - and the slice turned out beautifully.

It's sweet and chewy and oaty and a bit datey. Mmm!

It looks like Weet Bix but tastes a million times better!

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Occasional Gardener - sunflowers

My current herb garden has passed its prime, but my sunflowers have finally bloomed! They're so pretty I just had to share these photos.

The bees love them!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Choc chip cookies

My friend Matty B is famous for making these delicious choc chip cookies. He has been baking them for years and is always a Most Welcome Visitor!

Several years ago he gave me the recipe. This is the exact wording he used. I love how it's such a "boy" way to describe baking instructions :)

It makes about 36 cookies if you don't eat too much raw cookie dough!

Niki's choc chip cookie research project got me thinking about CCCs again, so I decided to whip up a batch the other day. If I'd taken them out of the oven when the timer rang at 12 minutes they would have been just right, but I thought they looked a bit pale and left them in a couple of minutes longer. They were still fine, just a little bit crunchier than ideal.

The finished product - yum!

Cookie close up

The cookie bounty - they didn't last long...

Niki, please feel free to add these to your "to be baked" list! I'm happy to be doing my bit by contributing to this important research! :)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Singapore - Laksa

In August 2004 RJ and I visited Singapore for my friends' wedding. It was way before I had ever even set eyes upon a food blog. But because food is one of my favourite things about Singapore, I ended up taking some photos of things we ate.

One of Singapore's most famous hawker centres is Lau Pa Sat. Situated right in the heart of the financial district it's a bit of a tourist trap, but still seems popular enough with the local office workers too. Lau Pa Sat is open 24 hours and features over 100 food stalls, so you can pretty much eat whatever you want whenever you feel like it.

This day, I only had eyes for one dish...laksa. Laksa is a firm favourite of mine from back in my working-in-Singapore days. My colleagues used to laugh at me because I wouldn't eat the bits that they thought were the most delicious - the fish cake, fish balls and cockles. They used to say "Ask the uncle to leave it out - he'll be very happy with his bigger profit margin!" My favourite ingredient is the fried spongy tofu that absorbs the delicious coconut milk-based curry soup, closely followed by the prawns, hard boiled egg, beansprouts and noodles.

It's really hearty comfort food. Eating a hot spicy soup for lunch in a country famous for its year-round heat and humidity probably doesn't seem like a great idea, but it really is!

In my five-year away-from-Singapore gap I had, of course, tried the laksa on offer at Australian restaurants. It's almost never as good, because it costs four to five times more and it never seems to capture the right flavour and mix of ingredients. That's why I just had to have it at least once on my trip back last year!

A trip down memory lane at Lau Pa Sat

The other fantastic thing about Singaporean hawker centres is the freshly squeezed juice. It's made on the spot and sets you back less than $2!

Oh, and the other thing in this photo is the ubiquitous "small packet tissues". There are so many uses for these in Singapore that you'll wonder how you ever got by at home without carrying them everywhere!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Freddo Frogs

When I posted about eating frog porridge in Singapore my friend McHills was somewhat disgusted. Her husband, the hilarious and talented Jimmy Trinket, offered me a prize if I could guess which movie this line came from:
Nothing's more suspicious than frog's breath!

Of course I recognised the line instantly (wink, wink) as coming from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas.

I had kind of forgotten about it all until one day McHills arrived at my office and presented me with my prize - a supply of the more palatable variety of edible frogs.

Thanks Mr and Mrs Trinket!

Also, hello to my colleague, Ms L, who casually mentioned the other day "I found your blog last night"! I think it would be weird to suddenly find a blog about the exact baked goods that you had actually eaten, but Ms L took it very well! I'm looking forward to reading her blog one day soon!