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Saturday, 26 November 2011

It Can't Get Any Worse (Touch wood!)

Oh lord. I only hope that this is the worst it will get from here on in.....

So apparently even though my tiny fracture is healing properly, it's in such a position that if it does manage to slip out of place there will be serious long term consequences which could put me out for months. And so, I was told I would need a cast :'(. I will be a cripple for 5 more weeks. I'm crying inside...


Welcome depression. 

To make it worse, just a bit of salt in the wound (rubbed in viciously), it is currently extremely sunny outside, which is where I should be, listening to the sounds of Stereosonic. F.M.L.

My doctor did inform me that there was indeed a bright side to my predicament - apparently because my cast is waterproof, I can go swimming. No worries that this thing weighs a crap-load, and the mobility in my leg is very limited, and hence I can't kick properly to keep myself afloat, and will most likely sink to the bottom.... *Thumbs up*

End rant.  

There was one plus side to the day....dad bought me a pack of Rainbow Paddlepops. Yay =).


BTW how crap do they look without the blue and green?! It can't even be classed as rainbow =P xx

Thursday, 24 November 2011

AJ's Indian Restaurant, Eastwood

I normally don't eat Indian or Sri Lankan food when we got out to eat with either friends or family. We don't exactly have the biggest range of both cuisines at home, its more to do with the fact that we like to try new cuisines when we go out to eat....these are too familiar, in that the flavours feature too regularly in our weekly menus, so we don't feel like having the same thing when we eat out.  

But at the same time, as I said, we don't know how to cook everything that features in these cuisines, so I've been keen for a while to try some Indian or Sri Lankan restaurants (Indian in particular!), ones that have been given really good recommendations or ratings. Afterall I loooove naan bread and all sorts of Indian curries which I wouldn't even dream of re-creating at home =P. Especially ever since I went to India for the first time 2 years ago - the food was absolutely to die for...I miss it =( (although the food is the only thing I miss hahah I wouldn't wanna go back for a loooong time =P quite the experience =P).

So, I did a fair amount of research to make sure we were gonna get a good meal! Lucky for me, I found a restaurant just up the road from me which had sooo many reviews and a reaaally good rating on Eatability! And the menu looked quite comprehensive, so off we went =D.

  
AJ's Indian Restaurant isn't exactly the fanciest restaurant on the block, but it does look really homely and quaint, just like a local restaurant should be. It was the little things like the decorative sprinkles on the table and complementary entrees that I really liked about this place. Nothing over the top, just simple with little understated touches that showed that they put in a little bit of effort. 


It seems that this place is definitely a favourite among the locals because there were quite a few people in there when we arrive. The hosts were so friendly!! I'm guessing the people who served us were either the owners of part of the family who run the business. And they had recommendations ready for us on how much to order and what to get which was really helpful. They did seem a bit rushed though, I think they were slightly short-staffed.



When I looked up at the roof, I saw all these cards from a regular playing deck stuck on the roof, each had something written on them, some with dates on the them. I felt like asking the owner why they were there, but totally forgot. So if anyone knows, let me know! I suspect it may have been some sort of blessing/ritual they did when they opened the place (??)

We ordered an entree and 2 mains to go with our naan bread and rice...


Our complementary entrees! I'm not sure what they are but they did taste familiar....it's like fried balls of a mixture of chickpea flour and spices, which we also have in Sri Lanka. I'm not sure of the proper name for them =P.

King prawns coated in chickpea flour and spices and deep fried
Yoghurt-Mint Chutney! Love this stuff!!

The prawns weren't as crispy as hoped, I think they make a huge batch and just serve that until they run out, so maybe this had been sitting around for a while. But still tasted good, and the mint chutney that came with it was awesome!!

Pilaf Rice

This Rogan Josh wasn't the best I've ever had, but it was quite nice. I was expecting it to be a bit hotter but I guess that's just me and my need to put mounds of chilli in absolutely everything =P.

Chicken Tikka Masala - so so so yummy!!
Naan Bread

I absolutely love Chicken Tikka Masala and this one was really really nice! Absolutely yumm when paired with the fluffy Naan Bread.....I seriously would just be happy with the gravy from the chicken and naan bread.

I definitely wanna come back here again, or try their take-away service! They weren't that busy on the Sunday night but it seemed like they had ALOT of takeaway orders, and as I mentioned before, I don't think they had many staff on hence service was a teensy bit slow, but we didn't mind =). Their menu looks quite good and since there were only the 2 of us we didn't get to order that much, and there's alot I want to try. But I'm SO getting that chicken masala again! Sooo good =D.


AJ's Indian Restaurant
58A Balaclava Road  
Eastwood NSW 2122
Ph: (02) 9874 9090
Hope you enjoyed reading =D xx

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Coconut Ice Cream with Palm Sugar Syrup

Hi guys!! Hope everyone has been well! What have I been up to I hear you ask? Well, Ive been sitting on my ass all day just surfing the net. I try not to stand up too much to prevent the rush of blood to my injured foot...it's pure agony. In that time, I have created a list of more places to go eat, added things to my future purchase wishlist, looked up a bajillion recipes, cooked one of said recipes, and watched a good old rom-com (When Harry Met Sally =D). Twas the perfect weather for all this as well - stormy and rainy. Makes me feel much better about not being able to mobilise outside much haha.

Anyways, I also managed to plate up and take photos of my latest foray into ice-cream creating. My brother's girlfriend has been giving me heaps of great suggestions for ice creams, and one of the flavour combinations she was really keen on was coconut and palm sugar. When I thought about this I couldn't really see myself making an ice cream which incorporated the two, so I decided to make a Coconut Ice Cream and a Palm Sugar Syrup to go with it.


This was one of my best ice creams I reckon! However, I wouldn't eat the ice cream by itself. Personally, I would DEFINITELY need the syrup with it. I think its got to do with the fact that I feel like I'm eating solidified coconut milk if I eat the ice cream by itself....which is odd for me =P. The syrup is so nice....I couldn't stop tasting it while I made it (as usual =P).

This is definitely not easy on the waistline - one look at the recipe and you'll see why haha. But it's nice nonetheless. The only thing I would try avoid next time is adding the waxy sediment of the coconut cream. Maybe don't shake the can before adding, just add the liquid and leave any sediment behind - I think it affects the consistency and mouthfeel in a not so good way....

Another note, this recipe makes ALOT of ice cream...I'm lucky my brother likes this one alot otherwise it would be sitting in my freezer for a very long time. So maybe try halving the recipe if you only want the ice cream to last a week if you eat it everyday =P. 


Coconut Ice Cream
Adapted from Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream and Desserts

Ingredients
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 can (15 ounce size) coconut cream

Method
1. Whisk the eggs until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar while whisking. Make sure the sugar is incorporated well by whisking about 2 minutes after all the sugar is added.

2. Mix in the cream and milk until combined.

3. Add the coconut cream and mix until combined.

4. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and prepare according to manufacturer’s instructions.


Palm Sugar Syrup

Ingredients
250g palm sugar, shaved (I used light palm sugar but I think using dark palm sugar will give a richer, nicer flavour!)
1 cup water

Method
1. Combine palm sugar and water over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.

2. Bring to a boil for a few minutes to let it thicken. Set aside to cool. Serve with ice cream.


Enjoy =D xx

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Clouds

Sometimes when I wear just one colour on my nails (more often than not I wear black), I end up getting alot of tip wear a few days later, especially if my top coat isn't thick enough, or most commonly because I've been working alot in those days. It gets annoying having to remove it all and start over every few days. It's fun don't get me wrong, but it can get a bit tiresome when you are working all day everyday. So when I saw this manicure by Jane over at Nailside (I am so addicted to her manicures!! She has so many cool ideas I just wanna replicate them all!! Wish I was that creative =P) I thought it would be an easy way to combat the tip wear that was eating away at my black-clad nails I was sporting over the weekend. Even though my recent accident has actually granted me free time for a month now, which means I have time to do my nails over and over again till the cows come home, I still thought I might has well salvage these nails and try out Jane's Clouds Manicure.


Her's is of course much more accurate and neat, and I LOVE her colour combination, especially the one with the gold tips. I thought for my replication of this I might as well use some of my new polishes, so I chose NYX Pastel Lavender and Pastel Mint. Because they are both pastels, they sorta blend together a bit in the pictures....



The manicure is actually easier to do than you think - its just 3 strokes of nail polish, each consecutive one shorter in length than the last one. And you do the same thing for the third set of 'clouds', just making the lines even shorter. An obvious tip would be to use relativley opaque polishes, as it would be hard to go over the cloud pattern accurately if you used sheer polishes.

As Jane explains it in her post, the trick is to make sure there is enough polish to leave a sort of 'blob' where the line starts, so you get that rounded look to the line, rather than a straight edged line. It can be a bit tricky at first to gauge how much polish to put on your brush at first, but you eventually get the hang of it. Needless to say my right hand look atrocious =P. I definitely need practice with my free-handing!!




=D xx

Hard Rock Cafe, Sydney

I've only ever been to Hard Rock Cafe once before. It was up at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast and it was so good we went twice. I love the atmosphere, the friendly and enthusiastic staff and of course, the epic food. Ever since they announced that Hard Rock would be arriving in Sydney I was so excited I went around telling everyone we had to go and queue up on the first day it opened =P. However, the more I thought about it over the coming months, the more I was a bit apprehensive for it's imminent opening. Sydney is more of a pretentious city, and I could see this branch not living up to the expectation you hold for a place with such standards for service.

Well, we didn't end up going on the first day haha, but we did end up going last week =D. Despite my feelings of trepidation, I was so excited I made sure I left my stomach empty the whole day just so I could fill up and make sure I made the most of it haha. I have no limits when it comes to food =P.

So we were having a farewell dinner for one of our friends going overseas for 2 months. Everyone arrived at about 7:30 and we ended up getting seated at around 8. We were sorta expecting this because we heard there were huge cues and of course, it was a Friday night. I sorta went for a bit of a walk just to check the place out.....it wasn't as homely as the Gold Coast branch, but it still had the customary memorabilia from all walks of music actually, not just rock. And it was HUGE! Omg the place takes up like 1/4 of the top level of Harbourside!

Once we were seated we ordered some drinks of course! I enjoyed the cocktails at Hard Rock we had last time and I was not disappointed this time either! Wish i could have tried more... (unfortunately i forgot to take pictures of our epic drinks =( ). We also ordered some entrees...

Balsamic Tomato Bruschetta


The one thing I noted, which sort of affirmed my feelings that the Sydney branch wouldn't live up to the Hard Rock Cafe brand, was that the staff were not as accommodating or friendly as the Surfers Paradise branch either...which was a bit of a shame because I think that really adds to the experience. They didn't really feel approachable or enthusiastic. There was one bartender who seemed to really be getting into it, signing along like a madman and shouting at the top of his lungs....but other than that, every other waitstaff looked like...well, normal waitstaff =P.

We went on to receive our main meal. Everything arrived on time so that was good =). However, even though everything tasted nice, for some reason I don't think it tasted as good as the last time i had it. But, this may be because I was sorta expecting alot after our really good experience. But also, I truly believe the ribs were not as tender or smokey as those at Surfers! Clearly I need to go back there =P.

Hickory-Smoked Bar-B-Que Ribs and Beef Brisket with Chips, Ranch Beans and Coleslaw
New York Strip Steak with Garlic Butter, Gravy, Smashed Potato and Fresh Vegetables
Fresh greens with red onions, grilled Cajun chicken, Honey-Citrus dressing, orange segments, spiced pecans, red pepper strips, sweetened dried cranberries and blue cheese crumbles
Hickory BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger with Chips

I managed to finish a majority of my ribs and brisket, which surprised me because I didn't think I could actually eat that much =P. Brisket was definitely better up at Surfers....

While we were there, it seemed like A LOT of people were celebrating their birthdays. And of course at Hard Rock Cafe they do things a bit differently by announcing it to the whole restaurant and getting everyone to scream Happy Birthday at you while you stand there with a red face =P. You also happen to get a free Ice Cream Sundae since it's your special day. Well, thing is, it seems that they don't check ID, so, you could go right up to them and tell them it's your (or your friend's =P) birthday. Which is what one of our friends did....So upon finishing our meal, a waitress hurried over with a Sundae in her hand and announced to the world that it was our friend's birthday. When her birthday really was about 6 months ago =P. And so, she stood up, and the whole restaurant screamed happy birthday to her.....I couldn't stop laughing....


Ahh well, all good fun =). One our friend's also grabbed one of the famous Hard Rock Chocolate Malt Milkshakes - soooo thick!!


Overall, it was a nice night out and a decent meal, but yeh, i guess i just had high expectations from the Surfer's branch. I don't think this type of restaurant fits in with the atmosphere or vibe of Sydney...Hard Rock Cafe is very relaxed, fun-filled and just laidback, but very out-there at the same time. Whereas Sydney is more uptight, not as friendly, and yeh, pretentious. But defs will go back since I wanna have their Pulled Pork Sandwich!!

Farewell dearest Aimee!! We will miss you!!


Hard Rock Cafe
Level 2, Harbourside Centre
Darling Harbour
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9280 0077
Sydney Branch Website (click the link)

Hard Rock Cafe on Urbanspoon

=D xx

Monday, 21 November 2011

Man Down, Man Down! I repeat, MAN DOWN!

Ahhh. Only 3 little letters can describe my weekend. F.M.L.

All I can say is beauty is definitely pain.

Mum warned me not to wear these 6 inch babies to my friend's 21st. But being the perfect daughter that I am, I didn't listen to her =P. These shoes are actually not that bad to walk in. But once you lose your balance, you're screwed.....


Me being the most un-co person, I tripped...and consequently my foot just went all spasmodic and twisted left, right and centre....to cut a long-story short, I am now sporting a different kind of platform =P.

Sigh. Everytime I think about it I get that sinking feeling in my stomach. Oh the embarrassment.

You live and you learn right? Hahaha.

So, it's actually not that bad, its the teeniest tiniest fracture on the 2nd toe bone (metatarsal) on my left foot. So I have to wear this moon-boot just to help it heal quicker. Good thing is I can take it off and still walk around and it shouldn't take very long to heal, maybe 1 month. As a consequence, I'm trying to get my trip rescheduled so I don't put to much strain on my poor foot =(. And I've already missed out on much anticipated summer events ( I am DETERMINED to make it to Stereosonic! I don't care if I have to crawl!!) Oh why is life so hard!!

AND that means I get about a month break from work, so I'll either be staying at home indulging in some Rn'R, cooking out of boredom, or going around taking advantage of my temporary disability by taking up disabled parking spots and walking a few meters to countless eateries around Sydney =P. And you guys will hear about it all on my blog! So I guess something good will come out of this hahaha.

Urgh, looks like an ice hockey boot. I reckon I could play soccer with this baby....lord knows what I'm gonna do with it when my foot heals....ill take any suggestions hahaha?

Anyways kids, I'm off to rack up my screen-hours for the day =P xxx

Gingerbread Ice Cream and Flaky French Fingers

This year I decided I would make up a list of all these recipes I wanted to try for Christmas. I don't normally make things in particular for this holiday season, but for some reason this year I'm really getting into the spirit just a tad bit more and I'm pretty keen to extend my cooking repertoire into the wonderful and fabulously rich domain of Christmas cooking! Initially when the idea of cooking a crap load of things this Xmas, I really was hoping I might be able to cook a full traditional Xmas dinner, but neither my family nor I are here for Xmas this year (boo hoo!!)....but who knows, might make an early one just for fun ;).

Actually, initially I was just gonna make the Xmas cake and stop there....but my imagination got the better of me =P. Plus all these other recipes kept popping up as i did a bit of research....and i got heaps excited...

Not the best pic, but it will do =P This was when the ice cream was freshly churned and clearly not set yet....

So one of the first two ones i wanted to try out was a Gingerbread Ice Cream and these Flaky French Finger biscuits. The ice cream i got really excited about because I absolutely love gingerbread and devour it in seconds, just after its come out of the oven. So the prospect of putting those flavours into a dessert that is more suited to our climate down here in Oz is just mindblowing =P. The biscuits I found in Margaret Fulton's Christmas cookbook as I was searching for her Christmas Cake recipe - there are actually HEAPS of things I wanna make from her book (practically the whole book =P) but I thought I might compile of list of recipes from from different sources just to mix things up a bit.

I chose the ice cream first because its actually quite easy to make, and since I literally have no time to make anything these days, I fortunately found a spare moment to mix it all up and cram it into my good ol' Cuisineart.

Sooo the recipe I tried was actually quite nice....only problem was that it tasted more like nutmeg rather than ginger. I sorta should have expected that since there was no ginger to be seen in the recipe =P. So I'm actually gonna try this one again and substitute the nutmeg with ginger. But it still tastes pretty nice! It actually tastes like a Sri Lankan dessert pudding called Wattalapan, which I'm not particularly partial to just because of its texture. But yea, the ice cream itself turned out pretty nice, love the consistency and it froze reaaaally really well. David Leibovitz also has a recipe for this ice cream, but I'm sorta averted to making ice creams with heaps of egg yolks, just because I haven't had that much success with it....OK OK so I've only tried like one (Salted Caramel) =P and that sorta didn't freeze well at all.....but I guess I should try another recipe before I totally write off the idea hahaha. 


The finger biscuits are really addictive! I was expecting something pastry like only because the word 'flaky' appears in the title, but like I said, still heaps nice (gosh, getting harder and harder to please these days aren't I =P)! They really are just shortbread which is always nice, and something I find hard to stop eating once I've started =P. The sugar coating on top just takes this shortbread one notch higher on the yum-scale! And they went so well with the ice cream!! When I make my next batch of gingerbread ice cream I wanna make these again! Only problem with these are that the edges got pretty burnt as I tried to caramelise the sugar on top.


Gingerbread Ice Cream Recipe
Adapted from Serving Ice Cream

Ingredients
1 cup milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg (I'd use ginger instead!)
1/4 tsp ground cloves (you could also substitute the ginger in here instead)
2 cups whipping cream

Method
1. Whisk milk and sugar together to completely dissolve the sugar. 

2. Stir in molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. 

3. Add heavy whipping cream and blend well. 

4. Pour into your ice cream maker and churn for about 25-30 minutes or according to manufacturer's instructions.



Flaky French Fingers 
From Christmas by Margaret Fulton

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups plain flour
250g butter
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup caster sugar (I also experimented by using brown sugar on half of the fingers)

Method
1. Sift flour into a bowl and rub softened butter into it until it resembles fine breadcrumbs


2. Add the vinegar to the water and sprinkle it over the flour mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing mixture with a fork. Continue to add water mixture until dough is moist enough to hold together


3. Divide the dough into 2 balls, cover in cling-warp and chill for 20 minutes.

4. Pre-heat oven to 230C. Roll out dough onto lightly floured surface to 6mm thickness. Cut the dough into oblong shapes (the recipe suggests 7.5 x 2.5cm - i just cut them to my liking =P).


5. Pour the sugar onto baking paper and press the top of each biscuit on, so the sugar clings to it (i just poured the sugar on top, so they ended up having quite alot of sugar on them - just how i like it ahhah)


6. Transfer, sugar side up, to a tray lined with baking paper and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the sugar has caramelised. Roll and cook the remaining dough in the same way.

7. Cool completely on wire rack and store in air-tight container.


Margaret also recommends eating these with Christmas desserts, like the gingerbread ice cream, or with a cup of tea. You can also sandwich them together with buttercream (beat 185g butter until light and creamy, then beat in 1/2 cup icing sugar, 1 egg yolk and vanilla essence to taste, until smooth, light and creamy.)


Enjoy =) xx

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Make Up Haul

I've been going on online shopping spree's for the past week or so. Its so bad. I'm supposed to be saving for my trip but I can't help myself!! I'm working so much these days I'm actually not that worried about it, because everything I buy is on sale and I actually don't end up spending that much. I guess it's more the sheer amount of things that end up being delivered to my doorstep. For instance, I buy alot of cosmetics from the US and alot of things are SO CHEAP compared to here! PLUS they had a sale on so I wasn't gonna pass up the opportunity! So I ended up spending about 120 bucks (including postage + handling) for all that you will see in this post (a total of 25 items on this occasion!!!)....

I get so excited when I receive a package!! And I haven't gotten
one for ages so I was even more ecstatic!!

So this mega package consisted of a range of lipsticks, bronzers, eyeliners, a crap load of nail polishes, foundation, concealer, fake eyelashes....pretty much your whole make up drawer =P.


NYX Pastel Collection (L-R) - Yellow, Lavender, Mint, Coral, Pistachio and Blue

NYX Polishes (L-R) - Paris, Surf, Ice Queen, 24k Glitteron, and Ice Glitter

NYX Heaven, Jordana Mint Candy and Milani Jewel FX Gold

Yea....I need to stop buying nail polish
.

Anyways, so I thought I'd go through some of the things I bought! I normally don't actually use a lot of make up and am pretty much a noob when it comes to applying it correctly, so some of this stuff was all new to me. Got this pretty cool NYX Highlight and Contour powder combo. Works quite well actually! Use the brown to contour and white to highlight...even came with a little picture to show where you should apply each colour.


Buying any makeup online without getting to try it first is always a risk in terms of selecting the right colour. But I didn't mind since it was so cheap and i thought i could blend if it wasn't exact. However, it seems i picked the right shade! Well, it was slightly dark, but this Milani Creme-to-Powder foundation in Dark Amber was quite good!

I combined it with this Milani concealer stick in dark which I purchased as well, which also was really good. Thought I would experiment and try cover up the scar on my right hand....


Clearly I didn't do the best job =P (told you I'm the biggest make-up noob). But when I tried the combination on my face just to see if it would cover blemishes it was really effective.

I'm a sucker for bronzers. I use so much of them sometimes it's like I have a fake tan. Imagine that. Fake tan.....on dark skin. Oh God. Anyways. this NYX bronzing stick was so concentrated! One tiny swipe made this huge streak of colour on my hand.....! Well, at least I won't run out for a long long time =P.


I really like this one because it has a hint of pink. The sticks came in different colours, this one is Cha Cha with Sun God haha. Have no idea how to apply this but, I'm afraid ill be too heavy handed, and since its so concentrated....I suggest you wear your sunglasses the next time you see me kids so you don't go blind =P.

And last but not least I got some fake eyelashes!! Love love LOVE these Side Swept ones from the NYX Special Effects Theatrical Lashes collection. Got a few pairs of these because I love the look =D. This collection itself is amazing, you should see some of the crazy designs they have!!


Among all these new purchases I topped up on my Milani Eye Tech liner and got a couple of lipsticks....

NYX Matte Sierra and Arrisa Whimsical

And that, my friends, is how I spend my hard earned money these days =P. Believe it or not, I actually bought some more.....clearly I need an accountant to help me budget. Or some Shopaholic Rehab.

=D xx
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