Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cupcakes it is!

First off the run this week, Menzie turned 7. How time flies. I still remember him as a little bump! I can hardly believe the bump is now a handsome little man!

A party with face painters, little friends and lots of desserts was definately the order of the day. Cupcakes requested in Menzie's favourite colour. Apparently, I'm his preferred cake maker.

As Chinese New Year celebrations continue, more parties to attend, more food! Oh boy! This bouquet of Chocolate cake truffles made it in one piece to one of these parties. Keeping in the theme of lucky reds and golds.

Lili with her cake truffles.

After watching several episodes of the new My Kitchen Rules, I have come to the conclusion that Masterchef is definately the better of the two. I am a real big fan of Manu Feildel, and love watching him cook. He's funny and very sensitive (you could see him wiping away a tear in the final episode of Masterchef as Julie was reunited with her family) but in this series, he's so serious most of the time. So, overall, I think the Masterchef dynamics were better.

Anyways, in one of the earlier episodes, our Perth team, made a disastrous creme brulee. It made me crave creme brulee like you wouldn't believe. So at this weekend's dinners, (yes, we hosted more than one) creme brulee it was!

I love my blowtorch sooo much!! Hmmmmmmm................

Also this week, my dear friend Joan bought me some gorgeous cupcake cases to replinish my diminishing stocks. What better way to thank her, than to send her some cupcakes. Pretty cupcakes were the order of the day, and these were quickly bundled off onto a plane bound for Singapore.

Last but not least, I received a delightful email from the very lovely Siobhan, who's wedding cake I had the honour of making. It really made my day and she sent me this lovely photo of the cake by candlelight. It's so lovely when you get feedback from happy clients, its what I love most about making cakes!

"I just wanted to say how spectacular the cake was!! Just gorgeous and we were so pleased. I’ve attached a photo taken on the night! Thank you very much!"

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chinese New Year of the Tiger

Chinese New Year 4707 Year of the Tiger began with the New moon falling on the 14th February 2010. Having the first day of the new year on the Western Valentines' Day, posed both a lucky break for those of us single ones, and a little tricky for those in a pair. At the end of the day though, Chinese New Year won out......

There are a whole variation of stories about the origins of the Lunar Year and why it is celebrated the way that it is, how the horoscopes of the 12 animals came about and why they are ordered such. Stories, that perhaps are a little too long to post here, considering that they change from village to village. Whichever way you know it, Chinese New Year is a time of celebration for the year past, thinking good thoughts and sending good vibes out for the year ahead for good health, lots of wealth and wishes coming true.

Auspicious peonies, the queen of flowers and peach blossoms symbolise fertility and ensures you are lucky in love. Lanterns light your way and firecrakers scare off evil spirits. Fresh flowers attract love and success and lollies sweeten your mouth and heart. Handing out red packets to children filled with money ensures that the luck is returned to you many times over.

Red is the lucky colour, so everywhere you look this week, its likely the Asian people you see....will be in some shade of red! The New Year is all about families gathering together as it is the longest annual holiday in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

And when Chinese families gather.....there is always food..... and lots and lots of it!

First out of the wok, is our family's famous radish cake. Made from a mixutre of glutinous rice, preserved meats, white radish, dried shrimp, shitake mushrooms and topped with sesame, spring onions and fried onions. It is a dish that is said to ensure that all the working people in the household all get promoted in the new year. This common dim sum dish (you normally see it sliced into small slabs and pan fried till crispy), is notoriously difficult to make at home as you literally spend hours and hours dicing and chopping the filling to be mixed with the batter. Once you have done that, you then have to individually steam each batch before waiting for it to cool, slice and pan fry before eating!!

Then of course there is the most famous and loudest Chinese New Year dish - the Lo Sang! A relatively new tradition (as in, less than 5 generations ago) started in South East Asia. Originally made with white fish, the popularity of salmon has somehow caught on. I think some commercial vendor along the line somewhere figured a red coloured fish would be more auspicious....

I dont remember eating this dish as a little girl - as the trend perhaps hadn't made it to Australia yet, but now I can hardly imagine Chinese New Year without it.

Lo Sang Salmon Sashimi Salad

for the salad:
White radish
Fuji Apple
Iceberg lettuce
Fresh ginger
Pickled ginger
Sweet pickled cucumber
Spring onions
Crunchy bits (cornflakes, toasted twisted doughnuts, croutons, fried wonton wrappers)
Sashimi grade salmon or other fish as desired

for the sauce;
sour plum sauce
lemon juice
sesame oil
soy sauce

for the red packet (seasoning)
crushed peanuts
sesame seeds

Mix sauce ingredients to taste. For 6- 8 people you will need about 1/2 to 3/4 a jar of sour plum sauce. Add ingredients spoon by spoon to your preferred taste
Slice all salad ingredients as finely as possible and arrange on a large plate (alternate colours)
Place sliced sashimi on top of salad and brush with sesame oil
Add crunchy bits around the sashimi
Finally place the filled red packet on the side

To serve, open red packet and empty on salad. Pour over sauce. Toss with gusto and devour!

Kong Hei Fatt Choi (Gong xi fa cai)!! Prosperity to all for the new year!

Our family's tradition is that as close to new year day as possible, we always go to my Aunt & Uncle's house for a huge meal. It's a tradition that we all treasure, and as the 'kids' grew up and with work and study taking us to all corners of the world, every year, all of us, make the effort to gather home for this special meal. This past year, has seen many trials in our family, more so than the usual, however, all was forgotten as we heralded the new year with extra enthusiam.

After a grand meal that included Uncle's renowned roast pork belly with crispy crackling, crayfish, dried oysters and dried black moss (yes, it's a delicacy), Buddha's delight, fish cakes and curry chicken, all washed down with several bottles of Penfolds 389. We then moved on to more food - dessert!

Fresh fruit, a divine chocolate & peanut icecream terrine, cake truffles, layer cake and coconut konyaku jelly. My contribution was these not so little cake truffles made in the shape of the very lucky golden orange.... inspired by the very talented Bakerella

Wishing you all a very prosperous, lucky, happy New Year of the Tiger!

The Lunar year lasts for 15 days. And so..........the party continues!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Summer flowers

The Perth Convention Centre was filled with summer flowers for Maree and Sep's wedding this past weekend. There is nothing quite like a room with a view to set the mood, and the day was simply perfect. Fabulous mild weather after our recent heatwave, even though we are in a record dry spell!

This 3 tiered cake consisted of marble, vanilla and traditional fruit cake. The figurines were a great deal of fun to make and challenging to ensure it stayed in one piece! Times like this I really marvel at Margie @Planet Cake's talent who's funky couples are so detailed and perfectly proportioned!

The detailing on the bottom tier came from the invitations, and was also present on the bonbons and placecards.

Gorgeous summer flowers filled the room, there were roses, orchids, frangipanis, oriental lillies and chrysanthemums. I hear they partied well into the early hours of the morning!

Also this weekend, little Hugh turned 5. Doting mum Angela wanted cupcakes for lego mad Hugh. Hmmm.... I think some little boys had a very happy afternoon!

Chinese New Year of the Tiger is just around the corner. Stay posted for all the goodies we'll be having for the new year!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Perth Planet Cake classes!!

A few of you have emailed me asking about holding cake decorating classes. As my studio is not ready yet, I haven't got the facilities to hold classes.

However, for all those who would like to see what all the fuss is about..... Planet Cake is coming to Perth! It is so very exciting! Conducted at Epicurious in Subiaco, classes include Basics 101 , 102 and Novelty 101, 102 and sugar figurines. Here is what you could be producing!

Spaces are filling up fast, so register here. Classes include lunch, and of course your original creation to take home and savour!

I will be facilitating on the courses, so I look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The rest of January

Perth had the hotest January on record this year. Heat and chocolate are just not good friends and figuring how to get a 15 kg chocolate ganache covered cake from A to B without it becoming all mushy was very challenging to say the least.

Here they are, sitting prettily awaiting the finishing touches to the ganache...... at this point it was around 38 degrees celsius outside.

First off, was the fabulous occasion of Maree's kitchen tea. Close to 50 lovely ladies bearing gifts, an outdoor patio and bar, filled with lots of food, lots of bubbly and lots of cake, made for the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning!

A pretty design in the bride to be's favourite colour. Chocolate mud cake for the teapot and vanilla cake for table.

Maree REALLY didnt want to cut the teapot! The cake was a surprise for her and so she took the teapot home.

Also on Sunday, Adrian and Siobhan got married and celebrated with a dreamy early evening cocktail by the river at Matilda Bay. The cake looked so very beautiful at the venue I didn't want to leave.

Assembled on site, this massive extended 3 tier cake consisted of chocolate, orange blossom and white chocolate cake, adorned with fresh flowers and finished with a pearl lustre and just a few French dragees.

Here it is from another angle,
The flowers in the backgroung were in 1m tall vases and looked simply stunning. Many thanks go to Paris at Planet Cake for the referal and design. It was a great honour to produce this cake on their behalf.