June 29, 2010

Mamma's Berry Tart

Since making the Finnish blueberry pie some weeks ago I started craving for "Mamma's Berry Tart", which is another popular dessert in Finland. "Mamma" comes from the Swedish word meaning "mum" although I doubt the recipe itself is any more Swedish than Finnish. I really adore the crispy buttery pastry filled with berries and topped with creamy filling. It's no doubt another one of my all time favourites!

Need I convince you more?

Mamma's Berry Tart

Pastry

100g butter, softened
85g sugar
1 egg
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

Filling

25oml light sour cream
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla sugar
70g sugar
500g blueberries or mixed berries, fresh or defrosted
2 tbs potato or corn flour

To make the pastry: Using an electric mixed, whisk the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Whisk in the egg. Mix the flour and the baking powder together and stir into the dough. Place the dough on a greased 24cm tart tin and flatten on the bottom and sides of the tin using your fingers (add a little bit of flour if the dough is too sticky to handle).

Mix the berries with some potato flour and spoon on to the pastry case.

Mix together the sour cream, egg, vanilla sugar and sugar and spoon the filling on top of the berries.

Bake in 180C oven for about 30 minutes or until the pastry has browned and the filling seems set.

Enjoy!

June 28, 2010

Din Tai Fung, Sydney CBD

Din Tai Fung has a wide spread reputation as a highly organised, effective and high quality controlled restaurant chain with an army of masked robot-like dumpling makers. I had seen these robots and tasted their dumplings before, but hadn't had a chance to visit the only Australian Din Tai Fung restaurant at the World Square in Sydney. Therefore I was very excited to join a few food bloggers and finally try out what else this place had to offer.

I was the first one to arrive (us Finns being typically punctual) to the restaurant on a chilly Sunday and started getting slightly worried about the growing number of people lining up. The restaurant doesn't take bookings after 12 o'clock and if you ask for a table for a certain number of people you have to have everyone arrived before they can escort you in. Perhaps it was the cold weather that kept the crowds away, so we were lucky to get a table within 10 minutes after everyone had made it.

As we sat at the table a waiter placed a foldable basket next to our table and asked us to put our handbags in. The basket was then covered with a red cloth. I was equally surprised to feel someone touching my back as I realised another waiter was putting covers on everyone's jackets that we had hung up on the chairs. This is what I call organised!

I was relieved to be amongst food bloggers because I knew we would get to try many different dishes. Here's what we had:

Vegetarian dishes: Above the vegetarian delight with sea weed, tofu and noodles. Below the vegetarian bun with spinach and mushroom filling.

Crispy chicken was one of my favourites, and the fried pork chop was equally good.

Steamed green vegetable and pork dumplings

Steamed pork dumplings came with instructions on how to eat them... I still managed to burn my mouth on the hot soup inside the dumplings. Check out those folds! That's what this place is all about!

Prawn and pork dumplings looked like cute little mushrooms

Delicious dumplings with chilli sauce

Sauteed spinach

Tofu with pork floss and century eggs. I had to order this dish because those eggs just looked so interesting! The texture of the eggs was indescribable; jelly-like egg white with a soft and pungent yolk. I could definitely have these again! I loved the pork floss, but to our surprise the tofu was served very cold, and might have been nicer as slightly warm.

I am so fascinated by the century eggs ! They look fantastic!

And we had some desserts: Mango ice was challenging (carving the ice reminded me of Finland in winter when the car windows get iced...), and perhaps more suitable for a summery Sydney day.

Taro dumplings are filled with soft and sticky taro paste.

Taro ice cream with taro bread was my favourite.

Crispy deep fried pastry filled with soft taro paste.

All in all Din Tai Fung did live up to my expectations and I can happily tick it off my "to try" list!

Din Tai Fung

World Square Shopping Centre,
644 George Street,
Sydney NSW 2000 Australia

TEL: 02 9264 6010 12

June 26, 2010

Finnish Meat Pie

Good things come to those who wait. So they say, and this has certainly been a long time coming. Probably closer to 10-15 years to be exact. That's how long it has been since I last had a Finnish meat pie! And never have I had a home made one before. It's one of those recipes that I've had on my mind for a long time, but knowing it would be a lot of effort to make, I've been putting it off. Now the thought of biting into a delicious home made meat pie became so overpowering I decided to roll up my sleeves and get to work. So was it worth waiting for the dough to rise, having flour all over my tiny kitchen, accidentally pouring oil on myself (not hot oil thank goodness!), burning my two fingers in the hot oil and having to throw out a couple of the first failed pies? YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT IT WAS!!

Anyway, you can imagine why I am so very excited to share this recipe with you!

Finnish Meat Pies
(Makes 8 large pies)

Dough

300ml hand hot milk
2 1/2 tsp dry yeast (or 25g fresh yeast)
1tbs canola oil
1tbs sugar
1/2tbs salt
approx. 450g plain flour + some extra

Filling

1/3 cup short grain rice
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
1tbs canola oil
300g beef mince (or mix of beef and pork)
1/2tbs white wine vinegar
1/2tbs yellow mustard seeds
pinch of salt
ground black pepper
tiny pinch of white pepper

Start with the dough: Warm milk to 42C. Mix dry yeast with a little bit of flour and stir into the milk. Add oil, sugar and salt and start adding the rest of the flour. Knead into a soft but elastic dough and leave to double in size.

In the mean time prepare the filling: rinse the rice well, place into a large pot and add water so that the rice is fully covered. Bring to boil and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked. Pour out the extra water.

Cook the onion in a pan until translucent. Add the mince and let brown, add spices and cook for a further few minutes. Add the cooked rice and mix well. Leave to cool completely.

Divide the dough into two and divide each half into four pieces. Roll into balls, then using a rolling pin roll into thickish, 15cm long disks. Spoon the filling onto the disks. Brush the edges with water, fold the pie into half and seal well with a fork.

Place the pies onto a floured surface and cover with a tea towel.

Heat 1 litre of oil in a heavy based sauce pan, prick pies with a fork, and fry the pies one by one for a couple of minutes on each side until brown. Serve warm with tomato sauce.

June 24, 2010

Finnish Rhubarb Tart

It's "juhannus" (Midsummer) in Finland this weekend and what a better way to celebrate than making a traditional summer tart. Most homes in Finland would have rhubarb growing wild at the backyard but here in the midst of the city I don't have such luxury. This tart made me so homesick I just couldn't stop eating it (hey there's an excuse I haven't used before!). It is another one of my all time favourites, and so simple you can whip it up as a weekday dessert or for a quick afternoon treat in no time at all.

Finnish Rhubarb Tart

2 eggs
100g sugar
50g butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla sugar
150g plain flour, sifted
100ml pouring (light) cream
1 bunch rhubarb, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
2 tbsp sugar, extra
demerara sugar

Whisk the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in melted butter and vanilla sugar. Stir in flour and finally the cream.

Mix well and pour into a greased tart tin (24cm).

Sprinkle the extra sugar on the rhubarb and mix. Spoon the rhubarb on the dough and sprinkle with demerara sugar.

Bake in 175C for about 20 minutes. Serve with custard or cream (or on its own).

A few notes...
  • Traditionally tarts like this (in Finland) are baked in a large oven sheet and cut in small squares to serve.
  • You can press the rhubarbs lightly into the dough to prevent them from drying out.
  • You can use the same dough to make an apple tart; replace rhubarb with thin slices of apple and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar!
  • Enjoy!

June 22, 2010

Golden Moon Chinese Restaurant, Sydney

Golden Moon is one of many Chinese restaurants in Sydney's Chinatown. Why I chose this place for a dinner with friends, I cannot recall, but it turned out to be a good choice despite the obvious dominance of the near by Golden Century.

Turns out Golden Moon is particularly famous for its wood fired oven roasted ducks, and the beautiful brick oven is indeed eye-catching, but we decide to omit the duck and order something else. I get excited finding so many dishes on the menu I've never tried before; such as frog legs, tripe and pig's blood, but since my friends prefer the more conservative dishes, we settle on a few bullet proof options.

Chicken San Choy Bow is full of flavour and always worth the messiness.

Steamed dim sims are the usual crowd pleaser.

Shanghai style steamed mini pork buns are soft and moist in the middle. Dipped in ginger flavoured vinegar they are very tasty.

House crispy skin chicken is served with prawn crackers. The skin of the chicken is undoubtedly scrumptious, but the chicken is particularly bony and quite challenging to eat.

The sizzling Mongolian beef and generous amount of onions (which I love). The sauce is delicious and the meat is very tender.

Honey King Prawns. This is something our friend swears upon and he is right: there is the sweet honey, the beautiful soft batter and the tender prawn and you can't help but have a second serving.

So if you are looking for something different then head to Golden Moon. I might have to go back on my own and try the frog legs...

Golden Moon
321-325 Sussex St,
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel. 02 9635 9777

June 21, 2010

Jansson's Temptation

Jansson's Temptation or Janssons Frestelse as it is known in Sweden was perhaps not one my favourite dishes when growing up (I think the anchovies was an acquired taste), but I now understand why it's called Jansson's temptation: it is so creamy and delicious, perfect winter comfort food! Simple, but flavoursome, you can have it on its own or with a fresh salad. The anchovies give this dish a beautiful salty twist.

There are many versions of this traditional winter dish, but here's one recipe

Jansson's Temptation

4-5 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut thinly
2 medium sized onions, thinly sliced
2 tbs butter
80g jar of anchovies in oil, drained, but keep the oil
300ml double cream (umm yes, this is why it's so creamy)
ground black pepper

Melt the butter and some of the anchovies oil in a frying pan, add onions and cook until soft, but not brown (about 15 minutes). Grease an oven proof dish (perhaps use a more shallow dish than seen on my photos), and place a layer of potatoes on the bottom.

Add the cooked onions and place the anchovies on top.

Place the rest of the potatoes on top and season with black pepper. Pour over the cream and cook in 200C oven for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fully tender and the top has browned.

You can enjoy the creamy goodness on its own or with a fresh salad.

June 19, 2010

Eating Tour in Cabramatta

For me one of the best things about living in Sydney must be the large variety of cultures and cuisines it has to offer. Today I joined a few food bloggers on a tour around Cabramatta, guided by Amy and Betty who are both locals and know the area like the back of their hands. The amount and variety of food available is just mind blowing: food is everywhere and everyone seems to be there mainly for the food. I was absolutely fascinated by everything I tasted and saw today. I can't help feeling like I have just spent a day in another country!

Here's what we ate and saw in Cabramatta.

When you're in a Vietnamese area, you can't go past pho. This was my first ever pho with rare beef, beef briskets, beef balls & beef tendons. So very tasty and warming.

Some street snacks: Nem Chua is Vietnamese cured pork with pork skin, chili, garlic and mint.
Such an interesting texture and flavour.

Small savoury dish with egg, prawn and spring onions - Very oily, but so soft and delicious.

Fresh durian
Avocado and durian smoothies pured thick and mixed with ice and condensed milk. I quite liked both of them, but probably couldn't have a whole lot of either.

Banana blossoms

The local ladies selling their home made dishes

More fresh produce

Loads of fresh fish and other seafood, and so cheap it's unbelievable!

Colourful cakes

Vietnamese cakes and desserts, 3 for $5!

And a selection of desserts I came home with... A bit sweet for my taste, but so colourful and fascinating!

Pandan waffle, look at that colour and yum, I could have these every day!

Small custard cakes were fresh and still warm.

How popular is this place?

The locals know where the food is good...

and this crispy chicken was absolutely delicious! The best I've ever had. No doubt about it.

And there is a wide selection of drinks available, like these ones: the egg yolk milk & soda was my favourite and the drink with beans and pearl barley was definitely interesting!

Hmm.

A popular Vietname & Chinese Fast Food Shop

Condiments at Tan Hung Vuong

Banh Hoi Nem Nuong: BBQ Pork sausage on vermicelli noodles topped with crunchy peanuts. Those sausages were so tasty!

Banh Cuon: Steamed noodle sheets with pork mince & wood ear mushrooms

Umm, guys are you sure there is a restaurant there?

Oh well what do you know, there is one!

Duck leg with egg noodles at U.E. Chinese Restaurant

Beef with egg noodles - The beef was so tender and tasty

What an amazing, unforgettable day. Thank you so much Betty and Amy for showing us your suburb and thank you to all others for coming along!