Sunday, June 17, 2012

Homemade Apple Pie!

Hi everyone!

Nothing beats home made food, and who doesn't like Apple Pie, especially freshly baked, serve hot with a dollop of icecream or custard!! mmmmmm :) a great winter warmer to feed my hungry family who seems to always be starving of desserts these days...

This is a simple recipe, almost anyone can make this, and as usual a crowd pleaser! Why not make this at your next gathering of family and friends! Simple food does not always mean boring food, so roll up your sleeves boys and girls, its time to roll out the pastry.

Apple Pie ingredients:

8 granny smith apples, cored, peeled and chopped into 2cm chunks
2 tbsp caster sugar
pinch of grounded cinnamon
pinch of grounded cloves
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp of corn flour
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

for Shortcrust Pastry
2 cups of plain flour
1/4 cup of self raising flour
150g unsalted butter, chilled, cubed
2 tbsp caster sugar
4-5 tbsp ice water

2 tbsp of jam (i used strawberry)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp of sugar

1. To make the filling, place apples, sugar, lemon zest, cinamon, 2 tbsp of water in a small saucepan and simmer on low, stir occasionally for 8 minutes or until apples are soften.

2. Remove most of the water except for about 2-3 tablespoons. Add corn flour to the cooked apple mixture and leave to cool completely.

3. For the pastry, place sift both flours in a small bowl, rub butter into the flour until you get a breadcrumb like consistency. Stir in sugar, then make a well in the centre. Add almost all the water and mix, until the mixture comes together. Add more water if the dough is too dry. Gather dough together on a lightly floured surface. Press into a ball and divide into two, making one half a little bigger. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.  Roll out the larger piece of pastry between 2 baking paper to line the base and side of the pie plate. Line the pie plate with the pastry. Use a small sharp knife to trim away any excess pastry. Brush the jam over the base and spoon the apples into the shell. Roll out the other pastry between the baking paper until large enough to over the pie. brush with water around the rim then place the top on. Trim off any excess pastry, pinch the edges and cut a round hole or a couple of steam slits in the top.

5. Re-roll the pastry the scraps and cut into leaves for decoration. Lightly brush the top with eggs, then sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180 degrees and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.

Enjoy this delicious pie with some custard and vanilla ice-cream!

Special thanks to Ninh for this recipe!

Lots of love,
Fat Pom Pom

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hu Tong vs Din Tai Fung

Hi Guys!!

Finally the last part of my food adventures in Hong Kong is finally here...7 months late...i guess its better late then never right?

While in Hong Kong, we had the opportunity to indulge in two of the most well known and highly rated, not to mention a must dining place for all new and old to Hong Kong, Din Tai Fung and Hu Tong.

I will start with our experience at Din Tai Fung since we ate there first. Located at Silvercord, 30 Canton Road,  Hong Kong, it had a simple and clean ambiance, very different from the many other local restaurants we ate whilst in Hong Kong, there was a huge selection of dumplings and main dishes, including a few dishes served with their special secret chilli sauce, which you definitely have to try!! Correct me if I'm wrong but this place currently holds one Michelin Star! Didn't know that until now :)

There was about 10 of us there so we were able to order alot of different dishes to try. The price was quite high compared to food in Hong Kong, but the quality and standard of food was very good also, in comparison. Staff was friendly, though it was hard to get their attention to order anything else, after you already place the initial order, understandable since the place was super packed and busy! Overall, it was an amazing dining experience. I was very satisfied with the flavours of the food, all the dumplings were made with care, our food came out nicely presented, simple and clean, everything was so yummy and delicious!! Standout dishes would be the Xiao Long Bao, Noodles serve with Special Sauce, Prawn dumplings in special sauce!! The flavours of the special sauce were simply amazing...makes me drool just thinking about it haha and the Xiao Long Bao were absolutely perfect, the skins were the right thickness, flavours of the filling were delicious with burst of the steamy and super flavoursome soupy goodness inside, balance with the right amount of soy sauce, vinegar and finely slice ginger  ....mmmmmmmmmm

From top left: Serving arrangements at Din Tai Fung, Tea, Crispy fried pork, Spring Rolls, Xiao Long Bao (mmmm :D), some green veggie stir fried with garlic :P, Noodle in Special Chilli Sauce, Shrimp and Pork Shao Mai, Cha Jiang Noodle with Mince Pork, Shrimp Wonton with Special Chilli Aauce, Crispy fried pork with fried rice, Spicy Sesame Noodles, Prawn and Pork Wonton with Moodles, Special Shallot sauce Noodles, Black Truffle dumplings, and Cantaloupe dessert.

I will definitely return to Din Tai Fung, just for their Xiao Long Bao's and Special Sauce (of which I did on my last day in Hong Kong hehe).

I would rate Din Tai Fung as follows:

Food: 9/10
Service: 7/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value: 8/10

Hu Tong was located at level 28, One Peking Road, Hong Kong. Upon arriving at this restaurant after going up 28 levels and stepping out of the lifts, I was blown away by the beautiful interior design of the restaurant. It was beautifully traditional yet very contemporary/modern at the same time.

The ambience is amazing, and the decoration and view of the city was stunning! We were lucky enough to be seated in one of the private booths, absolutely beautiful, I just love the traditional feel this place has! I haven't even started eating and already this restaurant has left me nodding and speechless in appreciation :) The service by the staff was exceptional, they were attentive, yet weren't pushy and seemed to know exactly when you needed to ask them for something. We mainly order dumplings because it was only lunch time, but there was only 5 of us this time and we were more then happy to just order dumplings to share (nope still not sick of dumplings...yet :P). The prices of dumplings were much higher then Din Tai Fung, or anywhere else we ate in Hong Kong, same price as Australian Yum Cha, in terms of quantity. The cutlery and dining ware they had were absolutely gorgeous, I wouldn't mind having these in my home. The dumplings were beautiful presented on unique plates, each one beautifully crafted! The food was of very high quality, almost fine dining like experience. Not to mention the tea we had was a very unique blend....i consider myself a tea nut and this is not one I've tried before, not the usual Jasmine or Chrysanthemum tea you get in Chinese restaurants. Flavours of the dumplings were amazing and of very high standard, and overall the dining experience was exceptional. Obviously we had to try the Xiao Long Bao also and make the comparison on this popular dumpling dish, they tasted just as good as Din Tai Fung and I couldn't decide which one I liked more hehe I was very happy that I did not miss the opportunity to try out this place before we left Hong Kong, one place I would be visiting again if I went back to Hong Kong and try out the many other main dishes they offered.

From top left: Tea served in a beautiful tea pot, more awesome cutlery, Lamb and Scallion Dumplings, Prawn in Tofu roll, Xiao Long Bao, Fried Dumpling, Bean and preserve vegetables appetizer dish, our lunch, Pork Dumpling. To be honest I don't quite remember which dumpling is which on the menu, its been over 6 months and the menu doesn't have pictures so I just had to guess them hehe

I would rate Hu Tong as follows:

Food: 9.5/10
Service: 9/10
Atmosphere: 10/10
Value: 8/10

I guess you can tell which place I enjoyed more from my ratings?...hehe not really, though I rated Hu Tong's higher, I enjoyed both places almost equally and for different reasons.  They both lived up to the hype and good ratings that I have read all other the internet! I couldn't ask for more in this short trip to Hong Kong. Hong Kong was an awesome way to finish off my Asia trip. In short, Hong Kong has left its mark on my taste buds, and I do hope that someday soon, I will return there to explore more of what this amazing country has to offer. If you ask me which of the two restaurants I would recommend more?  I say try both :D

Lots of Love,
Fat Pom Pom