Monday, September 24, 2012

Sydney Wedding - Sydney Observatory & Quay Restaurant

Bradley Patrick | SugarLove Weddings
We got married in June this year. It was the most perfect, happy day and more amazing than I could ever put into words. I was a little hesitant to write about our wedding on the blog because it was such a personal & intimate experience, but since this blog is such a huge part of my life it only seemed fair to share a few snapshots and write about the food! Keep in mind, this is only a tiny glimpse of the day, or this post would be 500 times longer. We had our ceremony with about 50 of our closest family and friends, in the back courtyard marquee of the Sydney Observatory with that wonderful view of the harbour bridge from Observatory Hill. I had a gut feeling that the weather would not be on my side, so I made sure that everything was indoors and that we had supply of cute umbrellas. Sure enough, it POURED with rain the entire day. It was still perfect.
Bradley Patrick | SugarLove Weddings
I am not an organised person at all, and had put zero thought into what I might want my wedding to be like prior to this so the whole wedding planning experience was incredibly stressful and slightly excruciating. But it was worth it. I managed to get through the pre-wedding insanity by keeping everything as simple and ahead of time as possible, delegating so that I had hardly anything to do on the actual day and I had the most amazing best friend in the world who worked her butt off to help me in every way possible. She was my planner, my stylist and my main mode of transport. No surprises, there was plenty of purple throughout the decorations. And daisies! And look at my shiny, shiny shoes! My dress was custom made by the lovely Rhonda Hemmingway, I found the crystal waistband clip at a vintage fair, along with my earrings and the vintage mink fur shrug that I wore in the evening. And check out the violin player with an appropriately striking resemblence to Mario, who played the Super Mario Bros. theme song at the end of my ceremony. Heehee.
Bradley Patrick | SugarLove Weddings
Bradley Patrick | SugarLove Weddings
Bradley Patrick | SugarLove Weddings
Bradley Patrick | SugarLove Weddings
Bradley Patrick | SugarLove Weddings
Bradley Patrick | SugarLove Weddings
Our reception was at Quay Restaurant, in the Green Room. Quay is currently sweeping up all the restaurant of the year awards in Sydney and deservedly so. When we first sat down and thought about where our ideal place to eat on our wedding night would be, Quay immediately came to mind (after that spectacular lunch we had). It seemed like an unachievable dream at first, until we started researching and enquiring. As a wedding venue I could not recommend it more highly, it exceeded all of our expectations. The venue coordinators and all the other staff were so lovely, helpful and organised and of course the food was fantastic. I mean, why settle for a run-of-the-mill catered wedding when you can get the full fine dining experience instead? Alongside the best views of the bridge and the Sydney Opera House. We were also lucky enough to have the Vivid Sydney Festival on at the same time, so there were all these amazing light shows going on around us that made the view from the reception even more gorgeous. Yep, totally planned it that way.
Bradley Patrick | SugarLove Weddings
The centrepieces didn't really turn out the way I had planned, I had some communication issues with the decorators I hired. But let's not dwell on that part. We hired a photobooth, which was SO MUCH FUN and helped to make our guestbook so hilarious and pretty much the best wedding keepsake ever. And the most important part for us was that everyone had so much fun, and you can really tell when you look through all the photos. Our photographer got loads of fantastic candid shots of all the guests. It just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, like getting a giant group hug from my nearest and dearest.
Bradley Patrick | SugarLove Weddings
Bradley Patrick | SugarLove Weddings
On to the food! I can't really 'review' the meal we were served on the actual night, honestly I was running on so much adrenaline that I don't remember how anything tasted . But I do remember the tasting that we did a few weeks before the wedding. As part of a winter package (one of the benefits of picking a wedding date on the second official day of winter), we opted for the three course alternate-serve dinner with complimentary canapés before the meal, and our wedding cake to be served (no cakeage charge thankfully) after the meal with coffee, tea & petit fours. There aren't any shots of the canapés but they were awesome, one of them was the scallop sashimi pearl from their signature Sea Pearls dish. Karen is a legend and managed to capture some shots of all the other courses. Thank you Karen!!!
Hand Shelled Mud Crab, Picked Green Papaya, Apple, Fennel, Cucumber, Lime Crème Fraiche, Cashew Praline | Image thanks to Karen
During the tasting we got to try four different options for each course, and had to select two for the actual dinner. The crab starter was an obvious pick with the juicy, sweet chunks of crab meat. The other choice was actually the vegatarian option, which might seem a little strange since there weren't any vegetarians at our wedding. But of the three options remaining this was (unexpectedly) the dish with the most flavour and loveliest presentation (though really all the dishes were so pretty). The giant slice of buffalo mozzarella was so good for cheese lovers, though the texture of the cheese served on the wedding night didn't seem quite nice as the one we tried on the tasting night.
Salad of Young Garden Vegetables, Buffolo Milk Mozzarella, Herbs, Flowers | Image thanks to Karen
Roasted Mulloway, Stone Ground Semolina, Heirloom Carrots, Roasted Almonds & Flowers | Image thanks to Karen
For the mains we had two fantastic dishes, the most perfect piece of fish and the tenderest slice of beef. The fish was cooked just the way it should be, flakes of fesh that are not the least bit dry and with a crisp, golden outside. The beef just melted in your mouth, and I thought the little crunchy pops of toasted quinoa added great texture. My brother reeeeeallly wanted me to pick the slow-cooked lamb option at the tasting but I knew that the beef would please even the fussiest of our wedding guests. I was totally right.
Mixed Leaves with Cabernet Vinaigrette | Image thanks to Karen
Alongside the mains there was salad to share, everyone knows I'm not a salad person so I don't even remember tasting it. And then there were big bowls of potato puree. Ohhh my god the potato. So buttery, so smooth and fluffy. At the tasting my brother and were fighting over the bowl. In fact we filled up so much on the potato and the bread with the really good cultured butter that we could barely taste all the desserts. I had to activate the trusty old emergency dessert stomach.
Roasted Fillet of Grain Fed Beef with Black Eggplant Puree, Baby Spinach, Quinoa and Potato Puree | Image thanks to Karen
Guava Fool, Granita and Ice Cream | Image thanks to Karen
Now the most important part, DESSERT! Sadly, they don't include the famous Snow Egg as an option at weddings, but they did have this amazing Guava dessert which is essentially the Snow Egg without the 'egg' part, so there's no meringue and maltose shell. But you still get that great combination of textures from the velvety guava fool, the crunch of the granita and the uh, creamy ice cream. It's simple but wonderful. Of course there had to be something chocolatey for the other dessert. They do offer their signature chocolate cake dessert, but it's seven textures instead of the eight textures that are served in the restaurant. It means that it's minus the show-stopping last layer where they pour on the hot melted chocolate, which makes the centre of the cake sink in. See my other Quay post if you don't know what I'm talking about. It didn't seem as spectacular without that dramatic extra layer, but luckily there was another chocolate dessert which was just as fantastic. You really can't go wrong with the combination of chocolate, cherry and coconut. It was like a Cherry Ripe, but so much better.
Wild Cherry Compote, Coconut Cream, Chuao Chocolate Crumble, Cherry Juice and Chocolate Sorbet | Image thanks to Karen
Wedding Cake
Bradley Patrick | SugarLove Weddings
Cake! Of course there was cake. I did not make my own wedding cake, I was not ready to take on that level of responsibility. We got a simple, cute and very delicious vanilla, lemon and strawberry cake from Faye Cahill covered in whipped white chocolate (because of my dislike of fondant). I was going to have a lolly table just with store bought candy that the guests could take home as their bonbonniere. I had never planned to have a full dessert table with a theme and decorations, it seemed silly to spend all the time and effort on a dessert table when we were already getting plated desserts served by Quay AND wedding cake with petit fours, tea and coffee.. But I sorta ended up with something in between, with lots of jars of lollies and few platters of homemade baked goods from me, Karen and Linda. Karen and Linda did such a great job, and part of me does wish I had put a little more effort into organising a full-blown crazy, themed dessert table.
Bradley Patrick | SugarLove Weddings
As you can imagine, my strawberry jam macarons (I didn't use sprinkles. I wish I had!) and Linda's popcorn macarons with salted caramel buttercream disappeared in the blink of an eye. My Milo marshmallows & Karen's chocolate caramels were also a big hit. A & I had the time of our lives and it was over too quickly. But a few hours before this post goes live we'll be celebrating again with the Chinese wedding party in Kuala Lumpur followed by our honeymoon, I can't wait!
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Monday, September 17, 2012

Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake

Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
Let me introduce you to Calorie Mountain. It may leave you feeling slightly queasy if you try to conquer it. Last week was Regex Man's birthday. His birthday has been the inspiration for many epic cakes on this blog including the mint chocolate chip cake and the fruit tingle cake. This time I went a leeeeetle beeeet overboard. Regex Man's favourite Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavour is Half Baked, so I decided to do a Half Baked flavour inspired cake; (brace yourself) Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake layered with Cookie Dough Buttercream and topped with Fudge Brownies. It's ridiculously rich and completely over the top, but hey we live in a world of bacon ice cream and deep fried Coke.
Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
Trust me, you want to have very small slices of this cake at a time. It's incredibly sweet and rich, but I tried to reduce the sugar where I could and used salted butter to try and balance it out. But even then with all the sugar and chocolate it's incredibly decadent. Only someone with superhuman cake-eating abilities like Regex Man would get a cake like this.
Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
The cookie dough buttercream is SO good, it's the same one from Annie's Eats that I used in these macarons, it tastes just like cookie dough. I went a little crazy with the amount of mini chocolate chips that I mixed into the icing, so feel free to adjust the amount of chocolate chips that you use in it. The brownies are super easy to make and they have that crisp outer layer and dense, fudgey innards that you want from a brownie. The cake recipe is a very reliable marble cake recipe which uses buttermilk, which ensures that it stays soft and doesn't dry out at all.
Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
It might be a while before you see the next recipe post from me after this week, as I'm taking a much-needed break for my Chinese wedding and honeymoon. But don't despair, I'm not abandoning my blog, not for a single week! I have several exciting posts lined up, including some fabulous guest bloggers who were lovely enough to come up with some amazing recipes to share on this blog. For the meantime, enjoy this crazy cake and by the time I come back I hope to be invigorated and ready to jump back into the kitchen.
Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
'Half Baked' Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
(Adapted from this cake, buttercream from Annie's Eats, brownies from Taste)
For the cake:
115g (1 stick) butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing
300g (1 3/4 cups) cake flour (not self-rising, I used 270g plain flour + 30g (3 1/2 tbsp) cornflour/cornstarch as per these instructions)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
225g (1 cup) sugar (I used caster sugar)
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp boiling water
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder

For the buttercream:
250g (about 2 1/4 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 cups (about 315g) icing/confectioners' sugar, sifted
2/3 cup (about 85g) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g (about 1 cup) mini chocolate chips or finely chopped pieces of milk chocolate

For the brownies:
200g (7oz) good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
200g (1.75 sticks) butter, chopped
3 eggs at room temp
2 egg yolks at room temp
200g (about 1 cup minus 2 tbsp) caster sugar
115g (3/4 cup) plain flour
35g (1/3 cup) cocoa powder

Prepare the brownies first (can be done a day ahead); preheat oven to 160°C (320°F). Brush a 16 x 26cm (base measurement) slab pan with melted butter. Line with non-stick baking paper, allowing sides to overhang. This stops it sticking to the pan and makes the brownie easy to remove from the pan. Melt the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan half-filled with simmering water (make sure bowl doesn't touch water), stirring regularly. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks in a jug until combined. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool slightly before adding the egg mixture. If the chocolate mixture is too hot, the egg may start to cook and scramble. Stir to combine.

Combine the sugar and flour in a large bowl. Sift in the cocoa powder. Add the chocolate mixture and stir until just combined - over-stirring can make your cooked brownies tough. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake in oven for 45-50 minutes or until crumbs cling to a skewer inserted into the centre. Don't over-bake your brownies or they can dry out. Cool in tin, then store in an airtight container for at least 6 hours or overnight. This helps the brownie to set.
Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
Bake the cake; preheat oven to 180°C (350°F), grease and line the base of two 18cm round cake tins with baking paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and use a whisk to combine, set aside. Place butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat on high with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add eggs one at a time until combined, scraping down the sides of a bowl with a spatula when needed. Add vanilla and beat again until combined. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour. Place 1/3 of the mixture in a separate bowl. In a small bowl, mix the cocoa and boiling water, whisking until it is smooth. Gently mix into the separated bowl of cake batter until combined. Spoon half the vanilla batter and half the mocha batter into the prepared cake tin, and the other half of each batter into the other prepared tin, alternating spoonfuls of vanilla and mocha to simulate a checkerboard. Run a table knife through the batter in each tin to create a swirl effect. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Cool in tin for 10 minutes and then remove from tin and cool completely on a wire rack. Cakes can be made the night before assembly, wrapped in clingfilm and chilled.

Prepare the buttercream; beat together the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high. Mix in the icing sugar until smooth. Beat in the flour and salt. Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until smooth and well blended. Stir in chocolate chips until evenly mixed. Place one cake layer on a cake stand and cover the top of the cake with a layer of the buttercream, smoothing with an offset spatula. Sandwich second cake layer on top. Cover entire cake with the remaining buttercream, smoothing with the offset spatula. Cut brownies into small squares and pile on top of cake (you don't have to use all of them). (Optionally) Melt 100g chocolate and drizzle over the top of the brownie pile. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container.
Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
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Monday, September 10, 2012

Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake

Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
I am so glad I decided to make a cheesecake this weekend. Because this cheesecake is so damn good. I seem to be a little addicted to roasting fruit at the moment. Roasted strawberries are officially my new favourite thing. Coat them in a bit of brown sugar and balsamic and they turn into decadent, glossy pieces of heaven in the oven. And strawberries are really cheap in Australia at the moment so it was the perfect time to make this.
Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
I decided to pair these roasted strawberries with another of my favourites; ginger. One of my favourite cheesecake crusts is made with Ginger Nut biscuits, I just love that zing of spices and the super crunchy texture of the biscuits. Though the rock-hard biscuits were a bit of a bitch to break up into crumbs; in the battle of food processor bowl vs. ginger nuts, the ginger nuts clearly won. Poor broken food processor.
Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
The fluffy cheesecake filling is made with cream cheese and ricotta, which makes it fairly light for a baked cheesecake. I added hints of ginger and strawberry to the filling with ground ginger and crystallised ginger pieces and lots of strawberry jam. It really helps to bring the flavours of the topping and the base together.
Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
Ugh, I am so in love with these roasted strawberries. I could sit there and eat a whole dish of them with some whipped cream. So effing good. It really does make the perfect topping for a cheesecake, especially with that thick caramelised glaze. You could even make a double batch of the strawberries and blend half of them into the cheesecake rather than using strawberry jam, but I didn't have enough strawberries to try that.
Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
If you've never tried ricotta cheesecakes before, you should definitely give this recipe a go. There is much fluffy, happy cheesecakey goodness to look forward to. I am totally eating a piece of cheesecake for breakfast as I type this.
Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
(makes one 20cm cheesecake, serves 8-10)
250g (1 packet) Ginger Nut biscuits (ginger snaps for those in the US, homemade recipe here)
80g butter (about 3/4 stick butter), melted
330g (11.6oz) cream cheese, softened
500g ricotta (17.6oz) ricotta
1 cup strawberry jam
2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp finely chopped glace or crystallised ginger
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
4 eggs
1.5 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1.5 tbsp water

For the strawberries:
2 punnets (500g) fresh strawberries
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 165°C (330°F) (150°C(300°F) for fan-forced), grease and line the base of a 20cm round springform tin.  Place ginger nut biscuits in a food processor and pulse until they are broken down to even crumbs. Add butter and pulse to combined. Press into the base of your prepared tin and chill in fridge for 30 mins. 

Prepare the filling; place cream cheese, ricotta, strawberry jam, ground ginger, glace ginger & lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth. Mix water and cornflour together in a separate bowl until smooth and then add the mixture and the eggs to the food processor bowl, pulse until combined. (If you don't have a processor, beat cream cheese and ricotta until smooth and fluffy in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high. Add the rest of the ingredients and then beat again until smooth.) Pour mixture over the chilled base and bake for an hour. The edges should be just golden and the centre might still be wobbly. Do not remove cheesecake from oven, turn off the heat and keep the door closed and allow the cheesecake to rest in the oven for another hour. Then remove from the oven and sit in tin on a wire rack until completely cool.
Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
Prepare the strawberries; hull and halve the berries and then place in a single layer in an oven-proof dish. Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F). Add brown sugar to berries and toss to coat. Pour over balsamic and toss again. Place in oven for 10-15 minutes, berries should be softened and the glaze will thicken as it cools. Set aside to cool completely, then remove cheesecake from tin and top with berries before serving. Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge overnight (if not serving immediately keep the strawberries separate until ready to serve).
Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
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Monday, September 3, 2012

Tetris Cake with Macarons

Tetris Cake with Macarons
I'm still in stuck struggle city. I don't want to overshare, but I felt I should mention it for those of you who have emailed me in the last few weeks and are wondering why you haven't heard back from me. So this week I don't have a full recipe post, but I did want to share this fun idea with you. Last week was D-Tap's birthday. He's not a big fan of birthdays, but I wanted to make a fun, geeky cake for him. I mean, he showed up on the dance floor at my wedding reception in a Gumby costume. He deserves cake. Not long after I decided to do a tetris-themed cake with square macarons as the tiles he happened to walk past humming the tetris song, so I knew it was meant to be. Unfortunately with everything going on and having to prep the cake mid-week after work meant that I didn't have enough time to make the cake as awesome as I wanted it to be. I'm not very satisfied with the final outcome, the shells were bumpy and too big, the icing too's just a bit off. But I had to take a photo of it just so I could make this gif:
Tetris Cake with Macarons 
Try to overlook my rather average photoshopping skills. If you're wondering what's in the cake; I used a double quantity of this caramel mudcake recipe, chocolate cloud icing (using this recipe from Sweetapolita, it is so, so good) and square macarons shells (similar to these). I also decided to make a black border around the edge using licorice but it probably didn't need it. You could always use square lollies or sugar cookies for the tiles instead of macarons, but you know I couldn't resist using the macs. If I did it again I'd definitely make the tiles a lot smaller and make sure I gave myself more time to make the whole thing neater.  But I think the sentiment was appreciated :)

P.S. Someone pointed out that technically the bottom two rows should have disappeared. a very a good point. Okay, so I fail at being a nerd :(
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