Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies

I’m a big fan of Cinnamon.
I have it sprinkled on my muesli in the morning, I love putting it into cakes or muffins and even on French toast with caramelised bananas and maple syrup! I even sprinkle some on top of my morning coffee.

If you’ve ever done the “Cinnamon Challenge” you will:
a)    Know that this is in-fact a challenge, as opposed to those who brush off this “challenge” with such exaggerated confidence – really having no idea what they are in for.
b)    Have an understanding of how hilarious it can be watching others do the “Cinnamon Challenge”
c)    Have a new appreciation of that nutty little bark I have become ever so fond of.
If you haven’t done the “Cinnamon Challenge,” It simply is trying to swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon in one mouthful. Deceivingly hard.

I’m also a big fan of coffee.
There is nothing more exciting than waking up to a big steaming hot man cup of coffee (in bed).
I am lucky enough to have recently acquired been able to use Jack’s Nespresso coffee machine. It’s amazing by the way!
For those Nespresso fanatics – yes it really is concerning okay to have five coffee’s a day. The sensational quality of Nespresso truly makes up for the fact you will not be able to get to sleep at night.

For those that enjoy a warm cup of coffee and enjoy sleeping at night – You may have discovered Chai latte’s.
I love a good Chai latte. Not one made with that sickly sweet syrup (cough DOME cough), but one that you can taste the authentic Indian spices. The cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger…Mmm! I came across this recipe for Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies on a food blog I came across in my food-blog-obsessed-ventures.
These cookies are begging to be dunked into a big cup of tea (Chai tea specifically or even better – a Chai latte!). They have a gorgeous sugar crust on the outside, a small crunch and soft on the inside. Imagine a mix between a ginger snap biscuit and a cinnamon spiced shortbread biscuit.
If you aren’t a fan of Chai tea, these cookies have had the tick of approval from all chai-lovers and non-chai-lovers alike during my sampling at work.
And I totally didn’t even Photoshop these photos!

Crinkle-top-sweet-sugary-spice goodness. Don’t stop at one. I make them bite sized so you don’t feel as bad when you eat seven a couple of them!

Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies


Yield: About 3 dozen cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl combine sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice and black pepper. Remove 1/4 cup of the sugar-spice mixture, set aside to reserve for rolling the cookies. 

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar-spice mixture until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

6. Slowly blend in dry ingredients mixing until just combined. 

7. Using a small scoop (2 teaspoons) roll dough into balls and then into the reserved sugar-spice mixture. Place dough balls on prepared baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart.

8. Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

9. Let stand on baking sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.


- Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Cheese and Chive Damper with Thai Red Curry Pumpkin Soup

It was Harmony Day the other week and we decided to hold a morning tea at work to celebrate the multicultural diversity in our workplace.

To me, any excuse for a morning tea is great – but this morning tea in particular got me very excited! I love trying different cuisines and this was an opportunity for me to try lots of homemade delicacies made by my co-workers.

I realised I didn’t really have much of an idea of my heritage and this was due to years of unclear, random and vague explanation from my parents that I was “an English immigrant, a bit of Scottish, Irish and a few other things…You’re pretty much just Australian.”

Cheers folks.

From this I made three conclusions:
1)    I am Australian
2)    I have some English Background…god knows how much or if there is enough to even count… and
3)    My parents probably didn’t know either…

I decided to embrace my “Australian Heritage” and make some Damper for morning tea.

To avoid this turning out like tasteless, undercooked lumpy dough of a scone…I decided to adapt the recipe to “Cheese and Chive Damper” – Yum!
(See the recipe below)

As this was such a hit, I made it again for dinner one night to go with my red-curry spiced Pumpkin Soup (YUM!). There is nothing more satisfying that dipping a hot piece of fresh bread covered in butter in a hot spicy soup!
Highly recommended.

Cheese and Chive Damper Recipe

·         250g SR flour
·         ½ tsp salt
·         25g butter
·         175ml milk (which I replaced with beer to make the damper “fluffier”)
·         3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
·         Fresh chives chopped finely
·         ¼ cup Milk (for glaze)
·         Extra cheese for topping
·         Salt and pepper

1.             Preheat oven to 180°C.
2.             Sift flour and salt together in a large bowl. Using fingers rub in the chopped butter until it is the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add cheese and chives. Mix well.
3.             Make a well in flour and pour in the beer. Mix quickly into a soft dough, using a knife or the hands.
4.             Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead lightly. Press into a round. Place onto a greased baking tray. Glaze with milk and sprinkle with extra cheese.
5.             Bake 15-20 minutes in 180°C oven, and serve sliced with butter or olive oil.
6.             Individual dampers can also be shaped and baked for the same time and temperature.

Cheese and Chive Damper hot out of the oven!

Harmony Day morning tea spread

Thai Red Curry Pumpkin Soup

·         Peanut oil
·         1 Brown Onion
·         2 Garlic
·         1 kg Pumpkin
·         2 Carrots
·         2 potatoes (preferably sweet potatoes)
·         2 tbs (or more!) Thai Red Curry paste
·         1 tin Coconut milk/cream
·         4 cups Chicken stock
·         Coriander to garnish

1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion, garlic and red curry paste and cook stirring for 2 minutes, stir in the chopped pumpkin, carrots, potatoes and chicken stock, bring to the boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.

2. Stir in the coconut cream, cook 3 minutes or until heated through, season to taste. Process or blend the soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Ladle soup into bowls and top with coriander leaves to serve

Monday, May 28, 2012

Aisuru Sushi - Northbridge

Sushi to me, makes me think of that quick fix you buy from your University canteen. Where there are eight little rolls sitting in a plastic container sticky-taped shut as you grab your coke to go and rush off to that class you're late for. You squeeze a little soy sauce from that tiny fish they chuck in the pack and bite into some kind-of-hard white rice that has maybe been left in the display fridge for too long. It fills that hunger in your stomach and you give yourself a pat on the back for not ordering the wedges of the day with sweet chilli sauce. 

Aisuru Sushi breaks this memory for me. 
Aisuru Sushi breaks every mould of expectations I have for Japanese food and restaurant and service  quality in Perth.
The words 'Aisuru Sushi' makes me smile from ear-to-ear, feel a buzz of excitement and my taste buds start to salivate as I prepare to indulge in an over-the-top reminiscence of the night I had heaven on a plate (or many plates).

Welcome to Perth's newest and one of the most talked-about restaurants Northbridge has to offer. I'm not going to lie, you're in for a treat. I'm not even exaggerating. 

Hell, SPOILER ALERT: This place is absolute perfection!

After reading multiple blog posts on Aisuru Sushi and been ever-so-keen to try this Japanese restaurant, I finally got the opportunity to try this place out. I dragged along three friends who were more than happy to taste some Japanese flavours!

When you walk into these new premises, you are given the seating options of a private table or to sit at the bar where you can watch the sushi chef's create art!

We were first asked if we wanted to sit outside as there were no seats inside. Aisuru Sushi do not take bookings, and if they had, we would have booked to avoid this...
They were so sweet even though we had been put outside, they put the heater on and kept checking on us! 
I noticed that BYO is $2.00 per person, which I thought was really affordable!

To follow are the 11 sensational meals I had the pleasure of trying!

This is the main bar inside Aisuru Sushi.

After being recommended by the friendly waitress to try the "Sweet Corn Tempura," we decided to opt for the Creamy Popcorn Shrimp. I don't know why they chose to name this prawn dish as "shrimp" (as I felt very Americanised for a moment) and chose to call other "prawn" dishes on the menu - prawn. Small momentary intrigueness that passed my thoughts before I was absolutely blown away by heaven!  
Did I mention the mental fight I had to put up to not try the sweet corn tempura?!?! 
I am a corn fanatic! I'm talking at least 2 cobs daily... not even kidding. 
So maybe for my addiction, this was a good thing that I abstained from the corny corny goodness.... (I'm coming back). 

Creamy Popcorn Shrimp: 5 pieces of crispy tempura prawn coated in spicy sauce. $15.50 

The prawns were cooked beautifully, wrapped in light, crunchy tempura batter which was coated in a gorgeously creamy "spicy" sauce. Being the chilli-head that I am, this was a very mild kick, and I tasted more sweetness than spiciness, but still was very impressed. Everyone gobbled these up before we had to decide who out of the four of us, would have the fifth "popcorn shrimp." A rock/paper/scissors "rock off" decided this fate... 
I don't want to talk about it.

The first sushi we tried was the Plum Flower Roll. 

Plum Flower Roll: Chicken teriyaki and avocado wrapped in nori and shari. Wrapped again in tamago egg wrap, and drizzled with special plum sauce. $9.00 for 4 pieces.

If you can't decide on how to eat these delicacies, I opted for the "all in" approach. After careful consideration of biting these delicious morsels in half and catching what fell from my lips, the decision was made to eat the entire piece of sushi and lavish in the flavour explosion in your mouth.  
Get amongst it. 

Apple of Love Roll: Cucumber, lettuce, and sliced carrot, wrapped in in nori and shari. Topped with lightly seasoned sliced tomatoes. Torched and drizzled with mustard sauce. $8.00 for 4 pieces.

The thought of tomato and sushi at first puzzled me. But Aisuru Sushi have no hesitations in breaking comfort zones; one sushi item features sun-dried tomato and cheddar cheese! The Apple of Love Roll was refreshing and juicy and the flavours were lovely.  

Teriyaki Tofu: Deep fried tofu glazed with teriyaki sauce. $7.50

This tofu was silky smooth, it fell apart delicately in my mouth as I bit through the slight crisp batter covering the cute little squbes (square-cubes).
The sweet teriyaki sauce complimented the satin, glossy tofu and it was such a velvety taste sensation.

Next we tried the Summer Roll. 

Summer Roll: Cucumber, avocado and crab stick, wrapped in nori and shari. Topped with seared salmon, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Topped with aioli sauce. $17.50 for 8 pieces. 

This Summer delight offered a salmon wrapped gift - the salmon perfectly smooth and en-capturing crab stick, creamy avocado and drizzled in a tangy aioli sauce. Mmm mm!

Jennifer's Rainbow Roll: Avocado, cucumber, crab stick and Japanese mayonnaise, wrapped in nori and shari. Topped with tuna, salmon, sliced avocado and fish roe. Drizzled with Japanese mayonnaise. $12.00 for 4 pieces.

Thanks Jen. Bursting with tiny orange fish roe, this roll was a dream. Each mouthful just making me roll my eyes wondering how these keep getting better!

Magic Mushroom Roll: Pan fried enoki mushroom and avocado wrapped in nori and shari. Topped with seasoned sliced button mushroom. Mixed mesclun salad on the side with Japanese salad dressing. $8.00 for 4 pieces. 

As well as corn, I absolutely love mushrooms. I love a good selection of enoki, button, field, portobello - I don't care, give me whatever's on offer. I couldn't not try the Magic Mushroom roll.  
I must've mis-read that the button mushrooms were uncooked and only 'seasoned', so it's my fault I set myself up for a beautifully marinated and fried mushroom extravaganza. This roll didn't disappoint in its fresh and simple flavours. As far as the menu offered, I probably wouldn't get this one again. Not because it wasn't anywhere near delicious, but the seafood sushi varieties just beat it by miles. 

Black Velvet Roll: Tempura prawn, seared tuna, cucumber, crab stick and spring onion wrapped in nori and shari. Topped with avocado and black caviar. Drizzled with chilli mayonnaise. $12.00 for 4 pieces. 

Topped seductively with buckets of black caviar this distinguished roll was one of my favourites! Don't be afraid of the millions of black caviar as this roll enticed me with it's crunchy tempura prawn. Not too oily/greasy, but just perfect! Creamy avocado crowned this masterpiece with a sweet chilli mayo to bring it all together. Did I mention it also had cucumber, crab stick, tuna and spring onion! Spoilt for flavours! Yum!!  

Another big favourite of mine,  was the Sunset Boulevard Roll.  

Sunset Boulevard Roll: Tempura prawn, asparagus, crab stick and fish roe, wrapped in nori and shari. Topped with tempura flakes and drizzled with sweet unagi sauce and chilli mayonnaise. $10.00 for 4 pieces.  

This gorgeous piece of art had another crunchy tempura prawn, wrapped in the middle of beautifully fluffy rice, asparagus and crab stick. Topped with the signature orange fish roe and a crunch from tiny tempura flakes adding that extra texture! The little kick from that chilli mayonnaise brought the whole dish to an exceptional standard. Perfection!

Think you've had enough, I could have happily tried everything on the menu. I had no doubt I would not be disappointed with any dish! 

When our waitress tempted us with dessert, we said "oh why not!" How could we finish a perfect night better than trying the dessert which looked like a rainbow on a plate.
Our waitress almost seemed more excited than us that we were trying the Banana Split Maki. I am not a huge fan of green tea, so the "Homemade Green Tea Ice Cream" really didn't stand a chance when put up against this colourful creation.

Banana Split Maki: 6 pieces of fried banana. Topped with kiwi fruit, strawberry and whipped cream. Sprinkled with icing sugar and drizzled with chocolate and raspberry sauce. $12.00 for 6 pieces.

If you can image a sweet ripe banana that has been caramelised and fried to a crisp perfection, that when you bite into it, it melts in your mouth, still warm from being fried and yet gorgeously add a sweet fresh strawberry and kiwi fruit, some whipped cream and lots and LOTS of sweet chocolate and raspberry sauce. Now put these flavours into your mouth all together! AMAZING.

This dessert delivered on every level. What a way to finish a perfect meal.

All food came out so promptly, the only thing I'd mention here is that the main meals of sushi came out before our popcorn shrimp entree. So we put the sushi aside at first to eat our entree. I guess when everything is being made right then and there, in front of your eyes, on the spot, it would be hard to time the courses perfectly also. 

The service was absolutely fantastic. We were welcomed with smiles all round, never a hesitation to offer advice, suggest meals to try or show us photos of the meals on offer on the waitresses iPads! 
My friend kept being offered for her green tea to be refilled with hot water and we felt so welcome in such a happy environment. 

Everyone else in the restaurant looked like they were absolutely indulged in their meals and I can tell you now, from the moment we tried our first bite, we had all decided we wanted to come back...and SOON!

Aisuru Sushi is open for lunch Tues-Sat 12.00pm - 2.30pm and
Dinner Tues - Thurs 6pm-9.30pm
Friday/Sat 6pm - 10.00pm

Highs: Inpecible meal. Every tiny piece of rice!
Lows: Not being able to book a table.
Overall: Absolute perfection! 10/10
Would I return? I want to take everyone I know.

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