Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Husky Trials!

Anyone who owns huskies will tell you that they are special dogs.

Now I know everyone loves their dogs (those who don't should burn) and thinks they are more "special" than their neighbour's dog, but husky owners will tell you that having a husky is slightly more like raising a toddler than the next dog.

Developmentally, huskies are rated as less intelligent than your regular border collie and Labrador, but some have argued that intelligence must not be confused with obedience.  Indeed, I found this out myself, with not one but two husky puppies in our household!  Huskies are tres intelligent, but obedient?  Well, just think of your average toddler and tell me how obedient do you think they are?

Got a Regular Dog?
I reckon it makes for more interesting pet ownership though!  Luna and Logan both mastered the Sit and Stay easily, but every time I ask them to do it (before their RAW dinner is served) I can tell that they are making a conscious decision to comply because they know it is the fastest way to gobbling down their blood dripping morsels of raw meat.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Our Hearts

Our beloved Siberian Huskies add so much happiness to our lives.

I have never been a dog person, and usually prefers cats (I have an awesome cat back in Singapore), but since researching this breed and now owning two, I have not come across a more expressive, creative and interactive breed :)

Sure, they are more than a handful, and we have seen our fair share of disgusted, judgmental looks when they act like, well, huskies... But as all husky owners will tell you, these dogs are real babies at heart and want nothing more than to smell you, lick you, and play with you.

I have become a crazy dog lady

Luna giving the "you jelly?" look to Logan

These dogs love nothing more than to lie around all day like cats

My Garden Bed

We have a huge backyard, but all of it belongs to our two Siberian Huskies!

They run, play, poo, drink, and sometimes eat in their backyard.  

About a week before our wedding, I suddenly had the brilliant idea of clearing out the weeds in our laundry area, since this is the place where the wedding party would be waiting for the march-in.  

Since it is the only outdoor area our huskies can't get to because we also installed a timber gate cordoning off the laundry area, I thought why not build a garden bed there too to try growing a small veggie garden!

It's only been about three weeks since I first planted some seeds in the potting mix, and look at the results!  Having only had cactus plants which I've progressively killed my whole life, this growing veggie bed is such a delight to behold :)

Sweet corn sprouting from seeds

My baby spinach growing tall 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Pineapple Tarts for Beginners

I am not a huge Chinese New Year goodies gal, but I just love Pineapple Tarts.
The good thing is, in Singapore and Perth, you don't have to wait till Chinese New Year to find them.
Singapore's Bangawan Solo stocks a decent albeit soft batch all year round, and in Perth, you can always find some cardboard tasting ones in the Asian grocery stores.

If you want good Pineapple Tarts though, they usually only show themselves during the festive season, when that meek-as-a-mouse auntie suddenly unleashes her secret baking skills and rakes in $$$ with the sale of truck loads of tarts.

Since I am neither in Singapore, nor interested in eating cardboard, I have had no choice but to try and bake my own Pineapple Tarts for the last two years.  

Amazingly, Pineapple Tarts are incredibly easy to make with the right equipment.  I used my Breville Kitchen Wizz Pro.  If you have any sort of mixer than can churn out dough, you will be fine.  If not, you will find yourself slaving away at the counter trying to get the damn pastry mixed.

I found this recipe to be quite fail proof - the tarts taste yummy.  I doubt you will be able to make any money selling these though, because they are the ugliest Pineapple Tarts you will ever consume.

* * * * *

Easy Recipe for Beginners (adapted from Delicious Asian Foods)
> Sift into a food processor/mixer:
3 cups plain flour
1/3 cup corn flour
6 tbsp icing sugar
> Slice in 280g refrigerated butter
> Add in
3 egg yolks
3 tbsp cold water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
> Mix together using the dough blade until it clumps into a nice ball
> Drop the ball into a cling wrap and refrigerate

The dough can stay refrigerated until you are ready to begin assembling your tarts.  
Simply microwave it for about 20 seconds, until it is soft enough to be flattened using a rolling pin.

Next is the pineapple jam recipe (my own)

> Skin 2 large pineapples 
> Mince the flesh (including core) using a food processor

> Throw the mixture and 2 cinnamon sticks into a pan on medium/low heat 

> Stir occasionally

> When it darkens, add in 1/2 cup brown sugar and turn heat to medium/high

The sugar will caramelize, causing the mixture to darken even more, and thicken.
Once it looks like a jam and you can no longer see any standing liquid, remove from heat. and cool. 

Now a lot of recipes will try to make this process super complicated, but really, it is up to you to decide what kind of texture you want your jam to be.  Mine turned out to be fibrous with a bite, and not too sweet.  Many of the recipes I've come across ask for just 1 cinnamon stick, and a lot of white sugar.  But sugar kills, so I just used 1/2 cup, and brown sugar. 

Once again, you can now refrigerate your homemade (be proud!!) jam until you are ready to assemble the tarts. 

I stored mine like this ^

I don't own any cookie cutters, so I selected this bottle mouth to cut out the round pastry shapes.
This particular opening is smaller than regular sized tarts, but your pastry will come out bite sized, less than 3cm across, and about 1cm high.

Switch on your oven and let it heat up while you cut your round pastry shapes.
Place the circles on a baking sheet and brush them with a mixture of 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp water.
Then, using a teaspoon, heap as much or as little pineapple jam onto your pastry, and bake for 20 minutes.  You will know they are done when the tarts start to sizzle.

My Not-a-Baker Pineapple Tarts, ugly but adorable?
These tarts are not too sweet, with a buttery taste and a creamy texture.

I also experimented baking some tarts in my Philips Air Fryer

I must have put them in for less than 10 minutes, and when I checked on them, the jam was already starting to burn.  I had to take them out, but when I bit into one, I found that the pastry was not cooked through, even though the surface was dry.

I reckon this must be the easiest Pineapple Tarts recipe and hope that those Not-a-Baker out there will feel confident to try making your own Chinese New Year favorite at home.  Look at how small and cute they are! 

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Our Weekend in Mandurah

Mandurah is located about about an hour south of Perth City.


It is one of the lovely places we head to on weekends, 
and a holiday destination for people with boats!

  Sitting on the water is Dolphin Quay, where you can find amenities, food and hotels.

Look at the number of boats parked, 
waiting for their owners to come to Mandurah to take them on a fishing trip.

We stayed at Quality Suites Crest Mandurah,
located at 1 The Pallodio.

It is a 4.5 star hotel, ranked #1 on Trip Advisor,
although I would say it's more like a serviced apartment.

There is a regular kitchen with all the necessary equipment, 
2 double bedrooms with fully stocked bathrooms, a lounge with Tv, 
and a lovely balcony with a bbq, 
perfect for grilling that freshly caught fish!

 The apartment was very clean and nice, 
but the real selling point of this place is the fantastic location and views!


Breakfast was at D'Lights Cafe, which was located by the water.

The food was extraordinary, and I'll let the pictures speak for themselves!

Pancakes with Maple Syrup

Big Breakfast

Poached Eggs Florentine

Poached Eggs Pacific

If you ever head to Mandurah, do give their breakfast a try.
In particular, I found the Poached Eggs fantastic, as well as the pancakes.

D'Lights Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 24, 2014

Kiri Japanese Restaurant

 My hubby and I have strolled past Kiri many Sundays but they have always been closed.
I have also tried to make a booking with them several times but was always unsuccessful!
We have been to most of the popular Japanese restaurants in Perth and Kiri was definitely on our list of must-trys! 

Last night, we happened to be in the area and saw that it looked quite empty so we decided to chance it and stepped inside.  To our joy, there happened to be a table for two available in the dining restaurant!  (The takeaway area is also available for dining, but we've always wanted to experience the dining section.)

The interior of Kiri is dark and romantic - too dark to get proper pictures unfortunately.
 The servers also looked pleasant and were friendly.

Unfortunately, that would be all the good things I can say about Kiri.

We ordered two dishes, which took what seemed like forever to come.

The first was this Nigiri Sushi platter. 

While the presentation was beautiful, I was shocked at the portion.  
 Really, 4 pieces of sushi, a spoonful of chopped prawn, 
3 thin, thin slices of salmon sashimi and a tiny bowl of boiled bok choy for $25?

Granted, the sashimi tasted fresh, but it is definitely overpriced 
compared to other Japanese places we have been to.  
Perhaps this is the standard for Shenton Park, but for someone new to Perth like me, 
the locality of Shenton Park does not mean anything special or exclusive.

The second dish we ordered was the Kiri Bento $33.

For a signature bento box, this was as ordinary as can be.

The only thing vaguely special about this was the potato croquette hiding in the corner. 
(I later found out that this was beef croquette, but I couldn't taste any beef in it)
My usual favorite, the potato salad, was dreadfully tasteless, 
with a huge un-mashed piece of potato sitting right in the middle. 

The karage chicken was tasty but soggy and terribly greasy.

In our favorite Japanese restaurant (keeping it a secret for now), 
something like this would cost less than $18, and would be DELICIOUS.


Now comes the worst part of our dining experience:

Halfway through the sushi in that dark, dark restaurant, 
I unfortunately spotted a COCKROACH scurrying underneath towards my feet!  
I let out an involuntary shriek, which was definitely heard by the server passing by in a hurry.  

Instead of attending to me, she stared as the cockroach ran past her to the next table.

The table next to us also spotted the cockroach and waved at the waitress to inform her.

Her response,
"Well, I don't know where it went so I CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT."

Business went on as usual.

Needless to say, I lost my appetite for the rest of the meal, and could not sit in peace, 
always watching out for that damn cockroach, 

A little later, another table also jumped, having spotted the nasty roach.

The server was present to this, but just hurried away like she did not hear anything.


In our disgust and haste to leave, 
we also did not notice that the green tea we ordered together with the food was never served.
I was really looking forward to the "Beautiful Japanese Tea from Greentea House" 
(as stated in their menu)
For a restaurant that is always packed and charges premium prices, 
this was a horrible first experience.
What on earth is all the hype about on

Kiri Japanese on Urbanspoon

My hubby came to the conclusion that Kiri is popular 
because it is the only Japanese in Shenton Park.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Red Opium - My Birthday Treat

My husband decided to surprise me with a dinner date to the Red Opium, one of the hottest places to eat in Perth at the moment.

Red Opium features what they call, Thai Tapas.  Now I love tapas because I get to taste several types of dishes, while not getting filled up on any particular one, and I LOVE Thai food.  I would count Thai as one of my favorite cuisines, next to Japanese.

Mr Bauer admittedly, is not a fan of Thai food, and only eats it to satisfy my craving, so this "review" would be a good balance of both of our tastes.

The first thing about Red Opium, is that it is located in the basement of the most nondescript building, but once I entered, I was swept away by the dark, red & maroon interior that made me feel like I was in Old Shanghai.

By the way, it is almost impossible to get a table at Red Opium, and we were very lucky to be seated due to my husband's perseverance and charm.. haha.  We were among the first to be seated and by the time our first dish came, the whole restaurant was filled.  Perhaps it was the dark, mysterious decor of the place, or the fact that aside from us, and a German couple, every other patron there consisted of Asian women with Caucasian men, but we soon felt like we were out of Perth and had flown right into Bangkok.

First order of the day, Cha Yen - Thai Milk Tea!
It was full bodied, with a rich tea taste that wasn't overpowered by milk.
Best thing, for $4.50, it came in a huge jug that lasted us throughout dinner!

My sweet hubby and I, waiting anxiously for our food.
Interestingly, apart from a lone Thai server, all the other servers had a distinct Singaporean accent.  
I'm guessing they were either from Singapore of Malaysia.
The service was very very good!  
We were always checked on and asked if everything was to our liking.  
This may seem like nothing, but think about it, these days, where can we go that would give us such time and attention?  I only recall such service on the Business Class flights with Singapore Airlines.

The first starter, Yin and Yang Dips absolutely blew me away!
The dip in the background is a spicy minced pork tomato dip and the one in the foreground is the creamy prawn and minced coconut dip.
Both were so fragrant and exploding with different tastes, especially the coconut one!
Mr Bauer, who usually does not enjoy many, conflicting tastes in his mouth, gave this the two thumbs up.  The only problem is that the serving size was too tiny!
I seriously need a hugeass bowl of that creamy coconut dip, pronto!

The second starter, Salmon Ceviche $17.90 is my favorite dish of all.
 I love sashimi, and words cannot describe how beautiful this tasted, 
with a mix of lemon, onions, chillies, and a generous drizzle of truffle oil, topped with caviar.  
The serving size is also respectable, I had enough to keep eating it throughout dinner!

Our third starter, is an old Thai favourite, Larb Gai (Thai Chicken Salad).
I always order this whenever we go for Thai, so I've tasted a fair number of different sorts of Larb.
I found this so-so, preferring to have a stronger blend of spices in my Larb,  
but Mr Bauer was raving about this particular Larb, saying this is the best he has ever had.

Our fourth and final starter, Son-in-Law Eggs, or double-fried eggs drizzled in sweet sauce 
are a traditional favorite.  
Apparently, they were named such because moms would cook it as a 
warning to their future son-in-law to behave or have their nuts served up next.  
I found this dish interesting, but too sweet for my taste.  Plus, I am not a fan of hard boiled eggs. 

 We ordered two mains, and the first was this deep fried fish dish.
It was pretty ordinary, and I found the taste of fish overpowered by a thick tomato taste and the deep-fried batter.  
I also did not enjoy the chunks of peanuts they threw over it.  
To me, it tastes more like something I would eat at a local, Singaporean Zhi Char (cheap, home-style cuisine) and was not worth the price.  
Mr Bauer seemed to agree, because we each too one piece, and took away the rest.

It is a good thing we did too, because the final dish that came 
demanded all of our remaining stomach space - The F-Duck.
This is a crispy-skinned, roasted duck leg sitting in a pond of thick coconut red curry filled with veggies, pineapple and lychees.  
It was divine.  Mr Bauer's favorite dish that night.
Now, the interesting thing about this dish is that, when you eat the duck, 
you go... ok, good duck.  And when you sip the red curry, you go... ok, nice red curry.

But when you have the duck TOGETHER with the red curry, something amazing happens.
It's almost like the fat from below the duck skin melts into the hot red curry and creates this buttery, creamy texture, that swirls around the crispy duck skin and envelopes the tender duck.

All the reviews you might have read, raving about The F-Duck?  True.

We truly did not have space for dessert, but we were told that the choices for that night were Mango Sticky Rice, a trio of ice-creams, or a Chef's Surprise. The dessert menu changes every night.

Red Opium is rated #8 out of 1496 restaurants in Perth

 Their website claims that the restaurant accepts cash only, 
but we were able to pay with MasterCard.

Red Opium is BYO.

Red Opium on Urbanspoon