Monday, 20 January 2014

Roald Dahl Knows His Stuff: Arnhem Girls Cookies

So, Arnhem Girls cookies. This recipe has been haunting me for about two years now - I first saw it on Anger Burger, then traced it back to Savour Fare, whose excitement about it is totally infectious. And it's easy to see why - it's an interesting recipe, so simple, and hey, Roald Dahl loved it - if the man behind Charlie and the Chocolate Factory adored them (and he describes some amazing food in his memoir Boy), they must be worth a shot at the very least.

I popped down to The Essential Ingredient to grab some pearl sugar to try it out. (Does anyone else love that place? I always feel as if I could happily walk out with everything they have. Everything.) This is definitely not the Swedish pearl sugar that Savour Fare uses; it's larger and coarser - to me it looks like chunks of snow. I find it quite pretty:

It's less sweet than standard sugar, with a slightly softer bite to the grains and an interesting texture. Google tells me it's good for sprinkling on baked goods. And waffles. That needs to happen. 

I didn't get any pics of the initial process (it was approx. midnight), but it doesn't really need to be documented. Your ingredients go straight into the mixer barring sugar and butter. Knife in small chunks of butter and mix 'til combined. Scrape out onto plastic wrap and let chill overnight. The dough is sticky and not a whole lot of fun to work with, so touch it as little as possible. The whole process takes around two minutes.

The next day, all you need to do is shake some pearl sugar out onto your rolling surface, plonk your dough on top, add more sugar and roll it out as best you can. I didn't want to overly flour mine so instead, I just rolled it a little, then knifed chunks and handformed the cookies as opposed to using a cutter. As a consequence, my cookies came out quite thick. I halved the recipe and got 8 regular cookies - you'd probably get a dozen thin ones. If you like your cookies on the crunchy side, stick to Savour Fare's original measurements. Bake low and slow - 135 degrees, 30-45. Mine took about an hour because they're considerably thicker than the original recipe.

It's 9:30 at night and the lighting in my house is shot, but - here they are. Some crystals went soft and melty, some retained their texture. The bottom caramelised beautifully and they taste wonderful: soft but chewy with a definite sconeish flavour, a little crunch from the sugar, not too sweet. Seriously good cookies. They seem very open to adaptation too; I'd be tempted to sprinkle on coconut sugar for that butterscotchy flavour, or cinnamon, or even go the way of Isa Does It's rosemary choc-chip cookies. These are definitely going into the regular baked goods rotation here. Brilliant. 

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Sweetwater Inn: Yum

I have no real fancy title for this. It's 30 degrees and I'm slightly tired and grumpy because heat really sucks, but I wanted to write this out because I finally checked out Sweetwater Inn today and it was well worth it!
The place is decked out in Australiana - skulls, snakeskins from the ceiling, et cetera - if dead things bother you, you may not like it. Service was fast and considerate (we studied the menu a fair while before deciding what to order and they left us alone to do so). There's also a quite large drinks list - many wines, beers, only one cider (on tap) which was slightly disappointing - and a neat cocktail list with some great looking drinks. The menu has changed for summer and now you can get a smoked 'chicken' or 'ribs', as well as the old classics of 'fish' and chips and the rissole sandwich, which is what I went for.

Here is my vegan rissole sandwich with chips and salad, $16. You'll notice that I picked up half the sandwich excitedly, realised I should take a picture and lowered it again - whoops. Squishy white bread does not like handprints:

This was a bloody good sandwich. The rissole is not soft, it's more sort of crispy on the outside with a chew to it - perfect antidote to the spongy white bread. With the tasty gravy and cheese, it was messy but one of the best sandwiches I've had in a /long/ time. Here you can see the structural integrity of the rissole - it's not a fall-apart kind of thing. Heck, if they sold them in take-home packs I'd buy several, it was that good of a rendition.
The chips are solid beer-battered specimens. I'd actually call them better than Gasometer's - I'll probably go back just for chips! The salad wasn't my thing - I think the dressing is mayo-based, maybe? That never rocks my boat so next time I'll just ask for it without, no big.

I really enjoyed our lunch here. The waiters were super kind and attentive (my thirsty ass needed water refills about four times and the server noticed super promptly each time - so nice!). The area is spacious, and the Australiana decorations are fun. My dining partner (omni) had the half smoked chicken and inhaled every bite, so I guess the omni food is pretty good too! (I don't like to post pictures of omni food here, but I think it's good to know for those of us who don't only eat out with other vegos.) We'll be back for another long, lazy lunch another warm day soon.

Dessert was at Fritz - this is a passionfruit sorbet cone, $4.50: 

Absolutely delicious. The seeds didn't bother me, but if you're the type to hate them, pick another flavour. All fruit flavours are dairy free and there are many - I debated over lemon and blood orange as well. At the same price as a Mister Nice Guy cupcake (and about ~15 metres away), this will definitely win out during the hot summer months.

Side note: I completely forgot to check if the cones are veg; please do this if you order! :-)

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Nha Hang 5 Sao (again)

Hello all and welcome to 2014 - hope everyone survived the holidays and hasn't reneged too much on their NYE resolutions just yet. (Mine is going swimmingly for once, so feeling much better than I generally do at this point in the new year. Woop woop.)

Today I had my heart set on going to USA Foods, where I acquired a two-pound bag of Dum Dums because people keep telling me they're delicious (and they are! except caramel, don't go there).. so figured we'd better swing by Nha Hang 5 Sao for lunch as it's not far, inspired by my previous lunch there here. They've taken the prawn toast off the menu (which is a good thing if they don't actually have it) but otherwise the offerings are pretty much the same - except there are satay skewers, $5. If you've eaten mock-chicken skewers at Enlightened or somewhere else, you know what you're in for. Tasty and fairly mild (spicy-lovers beware), I'll probably eat them again.
Sweet and sour: done it before, still crunchy and great. I think White Lotus wins though - their deep-fried anything is superb.
Sizzling pepper beef! You guys! In my pre-veg days, I never actually ordered this kind of thing at Chinese restaurants because I was a disgustingly picky eater. Seeing this come out made me smile, it brought back memories of eating at the local Chinese joint with my dad. And it was delicious - some of the best 'pepper' steak/mushrooms/whatever else I've had. Super tender faux-beef and mushrooms, perfectly stir-fried broccoli and baby corn. The sauce was caramelising as we were eating and ended up super sweet and sticky by the end.. delicious. I don't envy the poor guy who cleaned this plate afterwards, though.
Still love this place. Service is fast and efficient - check all dishes for vegan-friendliness though, and be prepared for language barriers. You also need to ask for the vegetarian menu when you sit down. It's an excellent place for a lazy Sunday lunch; you can do your Asian supermarket shopping (the one approx. 20m away has a Vincent Vegetarian Food cooler and a range of the dried products/tinned mock duck etc) and then head in and eat. Good times.

Also, this little sweetheart was waiting for us patiently when we got home, which is a pretty nice welcome!