White Chocolate & Macadamia Red Velvet Cookies

White Chocolate & Macadamia Red Velvet Cookies

Hello Everyone! I don’t think I ever mentioned it in the past 3 posts for the month of November, but I’m pretty sure that most of you who follow my blog are smart little ducklings and have already probably figured out that the theme for Amcarmen’s Kitchen this month is all about Procrastibaking – well, really, not really. The theme isn’t just centred around baking, but it is most definitely about baking with… CHOCOLATE! How did I come up with this month’s theme you ask (well if you didn’t ask then read ahead hehe), I wanted to bake a Chocolate cake for my birthday this month, and I had two chocolate-linked recipes sitting in my archives waiting to be post up on my blog, and so… Baking with Chocolate came into play!

Or you could probably just say that I’ve been lazy and haven’t been in the mood to cook on Sundays for the past few weeks – which is partially true. It’s not that I was being lazy – it was more like I wanted to have a Sunday to myself doing whatever I want, meaning doing nothing actually *cheeky grin* instead of slaving away in the hot kitchen the whole afternoon. I’ve probably mentioned this in a post before, but for those of you who don’t know, I work 6 days a week from 8am to 5pm. By Sunday, all I want to do is just sit back and do nothing, however, if I did do that, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with Amcarmen’s Kitchen any longer.

White Chocolate & Macadamia Red Velvet Cookies

Anyway, enough of my rants, let’s move on to tonight’s recipe – an adaptation from none other than my favourite baker out there, Sally’s Baking Addiction. You can find the original recipe for these cookies over on her blog. If you went over to visit her blog, you’d notice that they are actually Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies, but I decided to do a little twist and use white chocolate chips instead and pair them with macadamia nuts! The perfect combination in my opinion! I’d like to take this opportunity to share a recipe by a friend of mine, also known as Brendon The Smiling Chef, for his “I Love You This Much” Giant Red Velvet Cookie. I remember the time we met up and cooked together for my Auguest series last year, Brendon baked a Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie from the left over cookie dough he had from his “Cookies & Cream” inspired dessert. I think I might bake a Giant Cookie for next week actually!

White Chocolate & Macadamia Red Velvet Cookies Ingredients

White Chocolate & Macadamia Red Velvet Cookies

PREP TIME 1 HOUR 10 MINS* | COOKING TIME 10 MINS | SERVES 18 COOKIES

*Includes chilling time

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 & 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp plain flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 cup semi-sweet white chocolate chips (plus a few extra for after baking)
  • 3/4 cup packed light (or dark) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 115g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 large free range egg, room temperature
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp red food colouring
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

METHOD

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together until incorporated well. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the softened butter using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. When necessary, scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Add in the brown and granulated sugar, beating until combined and creamy, about another minute. Then, beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Once mixed, add the food colouring and beat until combined.
  3. Turn the mixer off and pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer on and slow beat on low speed until a very soft dough is formed. Beat in more food colouring if you’d like the dough to be a brighter red.
  4. Add in the white chocolate chips, and roughly chopped macadamia nuts and use a spatula to combine with the dough mixture. At this point, the dough will be sticky.
  5. Cover the dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days). Chilling is mandatory.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4) (177°C). Line two large baking trays with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside.
  7. Scoop about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball, as pictured above. Place 9 balls onto each baking sheet and bake each batch for about10-11 minutes. The cookies may have only spread slightly and that’s ok. Simply press down on the warm cookies to slightly flatten and form crinkles. Stick a few chocolate chips into the tops of the warm cookies (optional and only for looks).
  8. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool down completely. Enjoy and share with family and friends!

White Chocolate & Macadamia Red Velvet Cookies

White Chocolate & Macadamia Red Velvet Cookies

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

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Halloween Special: Creepy Broken Glass Cupcakes!

Halloween Special: Creepy Broken Glass Cupcakes!

Halloween Special: Creepy Broken Glass Cupcakes!

Hello Everyone! Where do I even begin? Well, how about I start off by wishing everyone a Happy Halloween! So one day, probably about a few weeks ago, I was browsing through my Reader page on WordPress and going through some of the recipes of other bloggers/writers that I follow. I came across a recipe over at Easy Baked which, if I can recall, were for some sort of cupcakes all decked up for Halloween. I really loved the bright purple, orange, and green colours that Ruthanne used to decorated her Halloween-inspired baked goodies. It was from there that I followed a link to her Creepy Broken Glass Cupcakes and I knew from that very moment that I had to tackle that recipe.

I haven’t seen anything quite like that before, and I thought it would be a nice, and fun baking activity on a Sunday afternoon (yes, I actually baked this last Sunday only because I knew I would have time to do so during the week leading up to Halloween, nor on Halloween Day). Also, Ruthanne notes that this is not an original idea of hers as she has seen many examples of these cupcakes online, but rather she made it her goal to create this recipe in the easiest way possible with fewer steps.

Halloween Special: Creepy Broken Glass Cupcakes!

Anyway, this recipe gave me a bit of a headache – well, just the broken glass candy part, and a little bit of the red velvet cupcake as well. Let’s just say that with the red velvet, it did not rise as I had wanted it to or hoped, and it wasn’t very red because of the lack of colouring (I used less because my bottle of red ran out). I had actually attempted to make this recipe 2 weeks ago, but because I was so defeated and tired by the end of the afternoon, I gave up and decided to try it out again the following weekend. At least when I tried that week, I managed to get 50% of the recipe done – the frosting and edible blood. I just kept them in the fridge until the following week when I rebaked my muffins and gave the broken glass candy another go (still was not perfect, but made do with what I had).

Basically, with the glass candy, I couldn’t get the sugar to harden – as in it was mushy as still syrup-like. Apparently, as I read in the comments section of Ruthanne’s blog, another person had the same problem and it was purely because the sugar wasn’t cooked for long enough. So make sure that if you want to try this recipe out, cook it just enough so that you won’t get a mushy mess! But obviously not for too long as it will turn amber in colour which, in this case, is not what you want.

Halloween Special: Creepy Broken Glass Cupcakes! Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 12 CUPCAKES

INGREDIENTS

For the cupcake batter

  • 185g butter, at room temperature, plus extra melted, to grease
  • 125ml buttermilk
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1/4 cup plain flour, sifted
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp red food colouring
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 250g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 60g butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

For the ‘broken glass’

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp clear food flavouring (I used lychee)

For the edible ‘blood’

  • 1 can (395g) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tbsp red food colouring
  • 1 tsp clear flavouring (I used lychee)
  • Black food colouring

Halloween Special: Creepy Broken Glass Cupcakes!

Halloween Special: Creepy Broken Glass Cupcakes!

METHOD

A tip before starting off: Make the decorations first, the candy glass and edible blood, as you can keep them in the fridge until just before decorating your cupcakes for your party. They can both keep for several days so you can definitely make them ahead of time.

  1. Broken Glass Candy
    • Cover a baking tray with wax paper and grease it liberally with cooking oil spray, or alternatively you can grease it with some butter if cooking spray is not readily available in your pantry.
    • Place the granulated sugar and corn syrup into a microwave safe bowl and mix them together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap microwave on high for about 3 minutes. Remove from the microwave and CAREFULLY (beware of the hot steam!) remove the plastic wrap. Stir well and cover again with fresh plastic wrap. Microwave again for another 3 minutes, but check the mixture after about 2 minutes just to make sure that it hasn’t coloured – if you cook the sugar/syrup mixture for too long, it will be amber in colour instead of a nice clear glass you want.
    • CAREFULLY remove the bowl from the microwave and CAREFULLY remove the plastic wrap. The mixture will be very hot and sticky so be cautious as to not touch any of the hot candy! Pour the mixture over the greased wax paper and allow it to sit and harden completely (will take a couple of hours).
    • When the candy has hardened, tap a knife into the ‘glass’ to break it into sharp pieces (do be careful at this point because the pieces are actually quite sharp themselves!), and push the pieces up off the was paper and onto a plate.
    • The glass candy can be kept in a ziplock bag or an airtight container for about a week. Moisture (including the moisture from the frosting on the cupcakes) will eventually start to break the glass candy down.
  2. Edible Blood
    • In a small bowl, add the sweetened condensed milk and mix in the flavouring and red food colouring (a bit at a time) until you get a brilliant red colour. Add a tiny bit of black as the colour can go a long way! Mix and adjust until you get a nice dark red colour.
    • Spoon the ‘blood’ into a ziplock bag and seal tightly. Keep refrigerated until use.
  3. Red Velvet Cake Mix
    • Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4). Line a 12 hole muffin pan with black paper cases.
    • Sift the baking soda, cocoa powder, plain flour, self-raising flour into a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
    • Meanwhile in a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar using an electric handheld mixer. Mix until pale and creamy. Add the eggs and beat on slow speed, making sure that it’s all blended in. Add the flour mixture into egg mixture and gently fold it in. Finally, add in the buttermilk and red food colouring. Mix together.
    • Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them 3/4 of the way and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through. To check if they are done, insert a toothpick in the centre of the muffin.
    • Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool down for about 5 minutes, then transfer them out of the muffin pans and onto a wire rack to allow them to cool down completely.
  4. Cream Cheese Frosting
    • Smooth the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla together using an electric handheld mixer. Fold in the icing sugar, and then use the mixer again to beat it until it is light and fluffy.
    • Place the frosting into a ziplock bag and refrigerate until use.
  5. Assembly & Decoration
    • Place some parchment paper on your work surface to protect it from all the red colouring from your edible blood, or alternatively you can use a platter or tray that you will be serving the cupcakes on.
    • Snip off a corner of your ziplock bag of frosting and pipe onto the cooled cupcakes. Press 2 to 3 pieces of the glass candy into the top of each cupcake.
    • Snip off a corner of your ziplock bag of edible blood and drizzle over the top of each cupcake and glass candy, allowing it to drip down the sides of both.
    • Serve the same day after decorating, with plates and forks or else you will have red fingers! Enjoy a bloody delicious dessert and a very Happy Halloween to all my family, friends, and followers!

Cupcakes taste best on the same day, though they may be stored covered tightly at room temperature for 3 days (undecorated) or in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Halloween Special: Creepy Broken Glass Cupcakes!

Once again, a very Happy Bloody Halloween to all my family, friends, and followers! I will be back on Tuesday with a new theme for the month of November so stay tuned!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! Before I begin, I hope you’ve been enjoying the recipes produced by my guest bloggers, my one true love, Jialing Mew, and of course my new friend Brendon D’Souza, for the past two weeks. I’ve really enjoyed hanging out with them and cooking with them in the kitchen before I left to come back home to Brunei. Stay tuned for the next two weeks, I’ve got another friend who will be guest blogging, and a special someone whom without her, this blog may not even exist!

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria

So anyway, for those who have been following my blog for a while now, or those who just know me personally, will know that The Ground of Alexandria is a place I keep going back to for the food and just the overall vibe of the place… oh and for the cute waiters at the Potting Shed as well *cheeky grin* If I did not already mention this in my previous review on the Potting Shed, there is another café/restaurant as well as various food stalls in and around the Grounds. I’ve been to and had food at the Garden Bar three times now and the food never fails to impress my tastebuds and fill my tummy up with delight. The first time I was here, I went alone for the Christmas Markets back in 2014, shopping for gifts for my friends, eating food, and meeting Santa Claus! Would you believe that that was the very FIRST time I ever got to meet Santa and sort of sit on his lap? Yeah, what a childhood I’ve had right? Anyway, Santa said to me “it must be my lucky day!” referring to the fact that he’s had a couple of women taking photos with him before me.

The Grounds of Alexandria

The second time I came back to the Ground and had food at the Garden Bar was with my family when they came to visit for a holiday and my graduation ceremony in early May of this year. I decided to take them to the Garden Bar and enjoy the eats of the various food stalls. There were a lot of people, as usual, and it was difficult to snag a seat for four, but luckily we were able to find one under the lovely winter sun within 15 minutes of arriving. My Mom and my sisters fell completely in love with the food, as well as the atmosphere and overall vibe of the place – just like me. The third time I came back and had food from the Garden Bar was during a catch up session with Vidhya – well, I had been stalking the Instagram page of the Grounds and found out they were selling waffles that weekend so I HAD to go (and drag Vidhya along of course since we planned to hang out that day). Vidhya, if you’re reading this, correct me if I am wrong, I think I made you fall in love with the Grounds as well!

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria


Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - THE GARDEN BAR BREKKY: BRUNCH BURGER
THE GARDEN BAR BREKKY: BRUNCH BURGER
with halloumi, caramelised onions, and rocket on a brioche bun ($10.00)
add chorizo (+$3.00)

I ordered this burger before when I went to the Grounds by myself during the Christmas festivities. I ordered it with the chorizo, but then completely forgot to add on that as an extra when I ordered it for the family to share. So instead it was a vegetarian burger with extra garlic sauce; nonetheless, it tasted great without, but still would’ve been even better with the chorizo! I think I’ve mentioned this before in many blog posts, and many of my friends know this – I’m not a huge fan of burgers, and even though this tasted pretty good, I am still not a fan of them.

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: JUMBO SALT & PEPPER PRAWNS
THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: JUMBO SALT & PEPPER PRAWNS
crumbed and dressed with garlic, lime, coriander or chilli ($15.00)

THIS. That’s all I pretty much need to say about these prawns really; cooked, crumbed, and seasoned perfectly. The prawns melted in your mouth at every bite and tasted so well with the extra chimichurri sauce I drizzled on top! The prawns were by far my favourite dish from the Garden Bar – was sad to find out that they weren’t on the menu when I returned with Vidhya for round 2! (Side note: extra sauce comes at no price! They’re at the collection counter in massive bottles waiting to be drizzled onto your food!)

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: CHICKEN WINGS (feast for one, 8 wings)
THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: CHICKEN WINGS (feast for one, 8 wings)
crumbed and accompanied with fiery chilli or BBQ basting sauce ($12.00)

Another one of my favourites from the Garden Bar; we ordered the fiery chilli wings and though it wasn’t the fiery that we’re used to, it was still deliciously good, juicy and tender! If you’re tastebuds don’t fancy some spicy wings, I’m sure that the BBQ won’t disappoint. There’s also another option if you want more wings, which is 20 wings for $20.00!

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: BBQ CHICKEN ROLL
THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: BBQ CHICKEN ROLL
spit roasted over ironbark & charcoal, served with salsa and your choice of sauce ($12.00)

This Vidhya had when I took her to the Grounds; you have the choice between chicken, beef, or lamb as your meat, and you can either have it as a roll or a salad. Vidhya of course, only eats chicken, thus the chicken roll. I can’t remember if I had a little taste of the roll or not – I’m guessing I didn’t since I can’t remember, but anyway, I’m sure the roll tasted really good since pretty much everything on their menu had been spot on for me. Vidhya seemed to enjoy it 🙂

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: SMASHED AVOCADO
THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: SMASHED AVOCADO
with tomato, feta, dried chilli flakes, and fresh mint from the garden ($9.50)

I’m usually not a fan of ordering smashed avocado when it comes to eating out. The reason being is that it’s basically just a piece of toast with smeared with smashed avocado and topped with feta, tomatoes, etc. Something that I can easily whip up myself at home to be honest. But alas, I knew that going out with Vidhya for “brunch” would turn into late lunch – and surprise surprise! We ended up getting to the Ground at 1pm when we decided to meet up at 11:30am. Anyway, yes so my instincts were right to have something to eat before meeting up with Vidhya to eat again 😛 So since I wasn’t overly starving, smashed avocado was the only light thing on the menu besides the roll/salad, or burger. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the smashed avocado – I mean, you can’t really stuff that up I guess.

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - SIDES: SWEET POTATO FRIES
SIDES: SWEET POTATO FRIES ($8.00)

When you see sweet potato fries on the menu, how can you ignore it?! Drizzled with extra garlic aïoli sauce ❤

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - ORGANIC JUICES: TROPICAL FLAIRORGANIC JUICES: TROPICAL FLAIR
watermelon, pineapple, apple, lime ($8.00)

Refreshingly good!

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - GARDEN SMOOTHIES: MANGOGARDEN SMOOTHIES: MANGO
fresh ripe mango, dried mango, and natural low-fat yoghurt with the goodness of chia and flax seeds ($8.50)

Though it wasn’t mango season the time I ordered the drink, it tasted heavenly!

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - CHOCOLATE AND RED VELVET WAFFLES
CHOCOLATE AND RED VELVET WAFFLES ($9.00)

THIS IS THE REAL DEAL HERE; basically the main reason why I keep going back to the Grounds. I cannot stress out how many times I’ve been to the Grounds for the waffle stall that left me disappointed on so many occasions. I say disappointed because no matter when, and every time I find myself at the Grounds, the waffle stall was ALWAYS closed. There was one time I even waited around at the Grounds for 2 hours for the stall to open and kept pestering the lady at the dessert stall, asking when the waffle stall would open. I got tired of waiting, and eventually just had food from the Garden Bar and then left. When the Grounds posted a picture of their Chocolate and Red Velvet Waffles on Instagram, I knew I had to make a trip over for them; I was overly happy! Even though I was already so full from all the food I had that day prior to waffle eating, I finished all three waffles (with the help of Vidhya who took one or two small bites because she too was already full). Definitely worth my 9 bucks!

The Grounds of Alexandria

Once again, the Grounds of Alexandria never fail to disappoint me every time I visit. Each time I visit is a different experience; also because I’m with different people whenever I pay a visit to explore the gardens, the markets, indulge in the food. and of course say hi to the various farm animals such as Kevin Bacon the resident pig. The atmosphere and overall vibe of the place is a sure 10 out of 10 for me – it can get very crowded during sunny weekends, but nevertheless, it’s all part of the experience really; I mean, it’s crowded for a reason! Food I’d give a 9 out of 10 (only because I feel I’d be too biased if I gave them a 10 out of 10 for food even though they really deserve the 10). Seating can be a bit of a hassle to find especially when the Grounds is packed with people and kids. Vidhya and I ended up sitting on the ledge of one of the garden beds along with other people, but if you’re okay with that, I see no problem here. The Garden Bar has a good value for money, definitely much cheaper than the Potting Shed for reasons that are apparent anyway in terms of the quality of the food served and the ambience of the Potting Shed in comparison to the gardens. If you haven’t seen my review for the Potting Shed, or want to recap on the dishes from there (the menu might be different from my review and now since seasons have past), click here.

The Grounds of Alexandria

Garden Bar at the Grounds
Building 7A
No. 2 Huntley Street
Alexandria, New South Wales
Australia, 2015

– Ally xx

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - DESSERTS: RED VELVET

Arabela, Camello’s Bakehaus & Coffee Shop

Hello Everyone! Finally we are back on track with Review Sundays! It’s been a while hasn’t it? Anyway today’s review will be on a popular Italian Restaurant on the little streets of Liliw, well known as the shoe and flipflop capital of the province and the Southern Luzon area. The first time I visited Liliw was back in 2010 if I am not mistaken. My cousin introduced this place to me while my family and I were visiting his place in Lucena. I don’t remember how many pairs of shoes I bought for myself, but I’m guessing that we had at least 3 or 4 pairs of shoes/flipflops each between the 4 of us for under ₱1,500 (approx. AUD$44)! After shoe shopping, we’d head on over to Arabela for lunch. This has since become a must do every time we come down to Lucena to visit my cousin and my family; in 2010, 2012, and our recent March 2015 trip. Since our last visit in 2012, Arabela changed the look and colours of their interior from, if I’m not mistaken, pastel green to orange. They still kept their low ceiling which is what I love about this place – it makes me feel tall! People who are just a tad bit taller than me would have to bend over while walking around the restaurant, and be cautious when standing up from their table if they have forgotten how low the ceiling is.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop
Just for a reference, my sister who is standing up straight is about 5’2″

But before I begin, here’s a little history on Arabela:

Bobby and Antonette Camello, husband and wife, owners of Arabela, named after their two daughters: Ara & Bela, started in 2002 with literally two tables. Back then, the two tables were not intended to be used by customers, but instead used for selling pasta dishes & pastries to buyers within the neighbourhood. The couple were then inspired to set up a formal food business as they gained an increasing number of customers that keep on coming back. The business, transformed into a coffee shop/restaurant, opened in October 23, 2003 with 5 tables, a seating capacity of 15 persons, and a capital of ₱100,000. From there it grew beyond the owner’s expectations, and today Arabella can accommodate up to 40 persons with an array of dishes to choose from – steaks, pizza, pasta, pastries, coffee, blended drinks, and more. Arabela has earned its publicity through word of mouth and personal blogs on the internet which were all unsolicited. To date, they have been able to maintain their character and uniqueness – the ambience and of course the good food.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - SPECIALTY DRINKS: STRAWBERRY FRAPPÉ, RIPE MANGO & STRAWBERRY SHAKE
SPECIALTY DRINKS: STRAWBERRY FRAPPÉ (₱120.00), RIPE MANGO (₱100.00), & STRAWBERRY SHAKE (₱100.00)

An array of fresh fruit shakes, smoothies, and drinks to choose from on their menu; I went for the ripe mango fresh fruit shake and it was very refreshing even though it was a rainy day.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - FRESH SALAD: CEASAR SALAD
FRESH SALAD: CEASAR SALAD
Romaine leaves with bacon (₱200.00)

This was also a starter dish that we shared amongst ourselves alongside the four cheese pizza. A good dish, but again nothing too special – nothing quite stood out to me to really praise the dish for it great flavour.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - PIZZA: FOUR CHEESE XL
PIZZA: FOUR CHEESE XL
Mozarella, red cheddar, romano & parmesan (₱325.00)

A great dish to kick off our feast at Arabela, but in my opinion there wasn’t anything special about the taste, I mean it’s just a four-cheese pizza.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - PASTA (PASTA IN WHITE SAUCE): FETTUCCINE WITH HAM & MUSHROOM
PASTA (PASTA IN WHITE SAUCE): FETTUCCINE WITH HAM & MUSHROOM (₱100.00)

This was a dish that my cousin ordered, and when it came to her, she showed the plate to me and gave me a sad look – I understood her pain. It was a massive deep dish, that made the pasta look tiny and underwhelming. I’m not sure if it filled her up, but it certainly wouldn’t have filled me up! Even though I didn’t taste this dish, it looked quite plain.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - HOUSE SPECIALS (OLIVE OIL): FISH IN WHITE WINE
HOUSE SPECIALS (OLIVE OIL): FISH IN WHITE WINE
Dory fish fillet cooked in white wine sauce serve with pasta (₱220.00)

From the menu, my mom wanted a pasta dish, and knowing her preferences, I ordered this for her. She prefers olive oil-based dishes as well as fish – so this was the perfect pick for her. At first glance, it almost looks like they overdid the garlic just a bit too much; garlic slices tossed through the pasta and minced garlic on top of the fish? Yeap, that’s quite a bit! Other than that, the fish was cooked well, still moist on the inside, but again nothing quite special.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - HOUSE SPECIALS (OLIVE OIL): VONGOLE
HOUSE SPECIALS (OLIVE OIL): VONGOLE
Clam in olive oil with garlic (₱230.00)

This was the dish thAT I had, and at first I didn’t want to order this dish because I can make a good vongole myself; but nothing else in the menu stood out to me. Vongole for roughly AUS$6.00? That’s value for money there as the dish had a generous amount of baby clams! Taste was good, but again nothing too special for me.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - HOUSE SPECIALS (TOMATO BASED): SHRIMP POMODORO
HOUSE SPECIALS (TOMATO BASED): SHRIMP POMODORO
Pieces of shrimp with pomodoro sauce (₱230.00)

This dish I only got to taste a bit of, and I can’t remember what it tasted like so I asked my sister. She said that it was a bit salty for her liking (she finds everything she eats salty anyway so it’s hard to trust what she says), and that she didn’t like the biscotti because it was too thick for her liking (I liked it).

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - HOUSE SPECIALS (CREAM BASED): SIRLOIN FETTUCCINE
HOUSE SPECIALS (CREAM BASED): SIRLOIN FETTUCCINE
Strips of sirloin in fettuccine sauce (₱210.00)

I ordered this dish for my other sister because I’ve never heard of sirloin fettuccine before. I imagined a nice char-grilled sirloin steak, striped and tossed through a classic fettuccine in creamy white sauce – but no, it looked like boiled(?) strips of sirloin garnished on top of an ordinary plate of fettuccine.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - HOUSE SPECIALS (BABY BACK RIBS): BABY BACK PORK 2PCS
HOUSE SPECIALS (BABY BACK RIBS): BABY BACK PORK 2PCS
Served with mixed vegetables and mashed potato or rice (₱200.00)

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - HOUSE SPECIALS (BABY BACK RIBS): BABY BACK BEEF 2PCS
HOUSE SPECIALS (BABY BACK RIBS): BABY BACK BEEF 2PCS
Served with mixed vegetables and mashed potato or rice (₱230.00)

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - HOUSE SPECIALS (ANGUS BEEF): MESS OF SIRLOIN
HOUSE SPECIALS (ANGUS BEEF): MESS OF SIRLOIN
Served with rice and mixed vegetables (₱200.00)

The three dishes that you just saw above I cannot comment on the taste just because my uncle and my cousins had these dishes. I saw the disappointment in my cousin’s face when his food arrived to the table – two tiny pieces of ribs for a person who could probably eat a whole rack of ribs for a meal. He had to order another rib dish to feel satisfied enough. But just by looking at the three dishes above, they don’t really look that appetising to me.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - DESSERTS: CHOCO LAVA
DESSERTS: CHOCO LAVA (₱110.00)

Probably my favourite out of the two desserts we shared – the cake was definitely molten and very rich in chocolate goodness.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - DESSERTS: RED VELVET
DESSERTS: RED VELVET (₱135.00)

I am a huge fan of red velvet; I even made this cake for my birthday last year and it’s not that I’m being cocky or anything, but mine was definitely better. This cake was a bit dry and crumbly for my liking and the taste was average. The thing that was appealing about this was the design on the plate that surrounded the cake, or as my mom referred to it “the placemat.”

Most of the pasta (and even meat dishes) portion sizes were really small; maybe I’m just used to seeing bigger portions of food having lived and dined in and about Sydney for the past 4 years. Then I look at the price and I thought, yes, it makes sense now why the portions are relatively small – think approximately $3.00-$6.00 Australian dollars on average per meal from this restaurant.

You may have also realised that I’ve said for many of the dishes above that they weren’t anything special in terms of overall flavour; I don’t want this post to appear biased and end up being a comparison between Arabela’s menu to others that I’ve had in Sydney because in my eyes, Arabela cannot compare. So I’ve asked my sisters and my mom to give a fair and honest rating for the food, and they gave an average score of 4.6 out of 10. My mom said: “[the food is] very simple, nothing special, but for local Filipino’s, it’s probably something special for them because Arabela is the only of its kind within the area.” Which is very true because from what my cousin has said, a lot of the foreigners come to dine at Arabela, and every time we’ve been, we’ve had to queue up for a table. Ambience though is a sure 8/9 out of 10; like I mentioned above I find the low-ceiling concept quite a unique dining experience. Service: 8/9 out of 10 as well. Value for money is arguable in terms that for us it is affordable, but for an average Filipino on an average/below average income, this place is probably too fancy for them.

Arabela, Camello’s Bakehaus & Coffee Shop
503 Rizal Street
Liliw, Laguna
Philippines, 4004

– Ally xx

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

Hello Everyone! First off, I’d like to apologise for not posting a recipe over the weekend – reason being just that I haven’t had the time to sit down and write one, and even better, my laptop charger decided that it was time for it to die. Also, another heads up, I will be leaving Lucena tomorrow and back to Bulacan where I will once again have no connection, so this will be the last post for March! I will see you again in April when I come back from my vacation!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

Moving on, today’s recipe is a belated one as it was meant to go up on Valentine’s Day. But for those who have been following for a while, you would’ve known that that was a busy week for me. I spent late morning/early afternoon of Valentine’s Day with a few of my very close friends over brunch at Cuckoo Callay for their Bacon Festival. I spent the rest of the day finalising my packing, moving all my things to a friends house, and having dinner with Vidhya that night. I left Sydney the next day.

I’ve made these a total of 3 times now. The first two were a complete fail and the third time was ALMOST a fail but worked out in the end. The first time I filled my square pan right to the top. I forgot how deep that pan was but nevertheless the brownies were too thick. The top started to brown a lot and it was nowhere close to being halfway done. The second time I tried it, I made the same mistake, but it wasn’t that I didn’t learn from my first mishap, it was another miscalculation on my side. I used a bigger dish this time, but one recipe wasn’t enough to fill it, do I doubled the quantities. It didn’t fill up all the way to the top, but it was still too thick. The brownie cooked about 3/4 of the way and the bottom was still batter. The second time I made it, I had planned on bringing it to office as a treat for my boss and managers, but because I didn’t want to bring in underdone brownies, I waited until my next day off to make the brownies again and finally bring them in on my last day of work.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

Now for the third batch, I used 1 and a half recipes this time and it was just the right thickness, FINALLY. When I said that it was an almost fail, it was because it was taking three times as long as it should to bake in the oven. The reason is because firstly, the oven at the lodge in Sydney is just unreliable. Secondly, I noticed that the top was starting to brown and the brownies aren’t all the way cooked yet, so I resulted to having to cover the top with foil so that it’d stop browning any further. Anyway, it got there in the end and it was a huge hit in the office! And Vidhya loved it as well, even though the had some from the first batch.

The original recipe can be found on Sally’s Baking Addiction. As stated before, I used 1 and a half recipes (just for the red velvet batter, I stuck to the same quantities for the cheesecake mix) from Sally’s so that my brownies were of the right thickness for my baking dish (about 8″ x 13″). Also, since at that time I was in midst of clearing out my pantry, I only had about a half cup of plain flour left, and quite a bit of self rising. I didn’t want to use self rising because I didn’t want it to rise, and Vidhya wasn’t home so I couldn’t borrow her plain flour. So I ended up using what’s left of Jialing’s wholemeal flour that she left at my place. I don’t exactly know if using wholemeal changes the texture or the taste, but it worked out in the end.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 45 MINS | SERVES 6-8

INGREDIENTS

For the red velvet brownies

  • 1 & 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp liquid or gel red food colouring
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the cheesecake mix

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large free range egg, yolk only
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease an 8×13 baking dish with a little butter. Set aside.
  2. Red Velvet Brownie Mix: Beat the eggs together in a small bowl and set side. Then melt the butter in a large microwave safe bowl in 30-second increments until fully melted.
  3. Stir in the sugar, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar, mixing each of the ingredients into the batter in that order.
  4. Whisk in the eggs, then fold in the flour until completely incorporated. Do not overmix.
  5. Pour the brownie batter into prepared baking pan. Leave about 3 or 4 tablespoons to top the mixture later for the top.
  6. Cheesecake Mix: Beat the softened cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla extract in a medium-sized bowl using a hand-held electrical mixer on medium speed. Make sure that the mixture is completely smooth (about a minute or so).
  7. Dollop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture on top of the prepared brownie batter and top with the remaining tablespoons of brownie batter. Glide a knife through the layers, creating a swirl pattern.
  8. Bake the brownies for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Once down, allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting into squares.
  9. Cover the brownies and store at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Hello Everyone! I just want to start off by saying that I AM FINALLY DONE WITH MY DEGREE! Well, more like I am free from formal classes FOREVER for my Bachelor of Design degree! I’m still not entirely free as I still have my internship to complete until mid-Fenruary next year. This just means that I will have more time to spend in the kitchen, cooking up meals and experimenting with recipes. It will also give me more time write up these recipes for my blog, which makes me happy! So to keep this blog up to date on a regular basis, I have decided to run an upload schedule every Tuesday & Thursday nights. Tuesday posts will feature Muffin Making Monday recipes every two weeks, while Thursdays will predominantly be for other recipes and reviews.

Yesterday was Muffin Making Monday, but I will save that recipe for Thursday’s blog post as today will be a special one. For those of you who don’t know me personally, my birthday was 2 days ago. I celebrated my 23rd with my closest friends from uni, from primary/highschool friends from Brunei, and old/new housemates. On the Saturday I hosted a high tea & water balloon party just at the lodge – cheese & deli platters, quiches, salads, sangria, scones, and tea! Oh and of course, how could I fail to mention Red Velvet Cheesecake? Despite that everything went well, we probably spent close to 4/5 hours making water balloons that only lasted less than two minutes. Barely any of us got wet, well, I was soaking because I took a bucket of water to the head and got sprayed with the hose after stupidly approaching Marissa to genuinely lend her my slippers because ‘her feet hurt’.

On Sunday, which was my actual birthday, I celebrated with more friends at the Potting Shed at the Grounds of Alexandria. We had drinks, lots of food, and always room for some self-saucing chocolate pudding! Afterwards, we roamed around the grounds, looking at more food stalls and the on-going markets. We visited Kevin Bacon (the pig) as well and apparently it was also his birthday weekend! After the Grounds, Zargham, Jialing, and I went to the Ritz Cinema Randwick to watch Interstellar – 10/10! Brilliance is all I can say. Yvonne then join us afterwards for dinner in Kingsford and that was basically the end of a perfectly sunny spring/summery birthday weekend.

Though the weekend was perfect, can’t say the same for the week that led up to it. I had a photography assignment due the Monday of that week. Pretty much all the photographing was done – it was coming up with a bloody concept that took forever – but in the end, I got there and was able to convince my tutor for my choices. On Thursday afternoon, I decided to get a start on making my Red Velvet Cheesecake, basically just the sponge so that I would have it ready and cooled to layer with the cheesecake the next day. On the night before my celebration at home, I had a 2000w essay that needed finishing. I also had work that morning so it was indeed a stressful day/night. Once I was done and over with that essay, I submitted it online at 11:57pm and contemplated on whether I should start my Red Velvet Cheesecake or do it early morning. Knowing that I would probably end up sleeping in until very late, I decided to make my cheesecake right after submitting. And so I did. I probably started at around 12:30am and didn’t finish until an hour later (considering I had to be quiet as to not disturb my the other tenants in the house). Placed it in the fridge and went to bed happy that the cheesecake was done and setting (kind of) overnight in the fridge. The next day, Jo Yee helped me make the frosting while Jialing frosted and decorated the cake while I was busy preparing all the other foods, setting up, and lending my face to Daniel to make me pretty (not that I wasn’t pretty to begin with). But enough babble, as I’m pretty sure Vidhya has read enough to last her until Thursday, let’s get on with the recipe!

The original recipe can be found on Jamie Oliver’s Foodtube that features Eric Lanlard & Donal Skehan. I stumbled across this video on Youtube about 2 months ago and bookmarked it for I instantly knew that this was the cake I wanted to make for my birthday.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Ingredients

Red Velvet Cheesecake Ingredients

Red Velvet Cheesecake Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS* | COOKING TIME 35-40 MINS | SERVES 8-10

*Add extra 4 hours (or overnight) for chilling and assembling

INGREDIENTS

For the red velvet cake mix (double quantities if you want to make a 2-layer cake)

  • 185g butter, at room temperature, plus extra melted, to grease
  • 125ml buttermilk
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1/4 cup plain flour, sifted
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp red food colouring
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

For the cheesecake filling

  • 300ml double cream, whipped
  • 250g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp gelatine powder

For the cheesecake frosting

  • 250g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 60g butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Prepare cake tin by slightly greasing the bottom and sides, and adding a piece of baking paper at the bottom of the tin.
  2. Red Velvet Cake Mix: Sift the baking soda, cocoa powder, plain flour, self-raising flour into a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Meanwhile in a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar using an electric handheld mixer. Mix until pale and creamy. Add the eggs and beat on slow speed, making sure that it’s all blended in. Add the flour mixture into egg mixture and gently fold it in. Finally, add in the buttermilk and red food colouring. Mix together. Transfer the mixture to your prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until cooked through. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool down for about 20 minutes. Trim the tops of the sponge cake, saving the trimmings to decorate with later.
  3. Cheesecake Filling: Combine the cream cheese and caster sugar using a handheld electric mixer until it is nice and smooth. Add in the lemon juice and combine further. In a small bowl, add the gelatine powder to the hot water and mix through until it is well dissolved. Straight away add the gelatine mix to the cream cheese mix and combine. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mix until well combined.
  4. Assembling: Line a springform cake tin with cling film. Take one layer of the red velvet sponge and gently press down. Add about a quarter of the cheesecake filling to the tin, pushing it all the way to the sides to get a nice edge. Add the second layer of sponge, again pressing down gently, and add the remaining cheesecake filling. Fold in the cling film to give it a nice smooth edge, and place in the fridge to fully set (minimum 4 hours, but preferably overnight so that it is nice a firm).
  5. Cream Cheese Frosting: Smooth the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla together using an electric handheld mixer. Fold in the icing sugar, and then use the mixer again to beat it until it is light and fluffy.
  6. Assembly & Decoration: Gently remove the cake from the springform and place the cake on a plate. With a palette knife, push the icing on top of and around the edges of the cake to make a nice thin layer of frosting. To bring some colour back to it, take your sponge trimmings and crumble it on the top and edges of your cake. Lightly dust some icing sugar on the top of the crumbs and it is ready to serve!

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Happy Birthday to me (Allison)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Red Velvet Chocolate Lava Cake

Red Velvet Chocolate Lava Cake

Hello Everyone! Back with another recipe for you! I know right? It’s a weekday and she’s actually uploading a post? If you read yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I had a baking session with my good friend/lover Jialing. What happened was that she was feeling bait down that she couldn’t do the internship that she really wanted due to requirement issues with our University – and so she contacted me and basically wanted to bake a chocolate lava cake to drown her sorrows in. So, we decided to do that! I suggested that we make a red velvet lava cake – drooled instantly as I made that suggestion. So Sunday we met up at the grocers and bought our ingredients for it. While shopping, Jialing decided that she wanted to make a dark chocolate lava cake, and bought ingredients for those too. Lava cake bake-off!

Red Velvet Chocolate Lava Cake

This was my first time trying out this recipe and I don’t particularly like making lava cakes because I always end under either undercooking it, or overcooking it until it’s rock solid and dry. Jialing’s dark chocolate lava cakes were slightly overdone and not very molten, while mine on the other hand were slightly undercooked – the sides were perfect, but the tops (as in when you invert them) weren’t cooked at all, even when they were in the oven for the maximum amount of time they should be in. Nonetheless taste and texture were spot on – and in my opinion made the presentation of the dish more dynamic! Please check out the original recipe on The Dinner Pages. I SO wanted to make the cream cheese ice cream, but I didn’t have an ice cream maker so I mean, store bought Cadbury vanilla ice cream did wonders as well anyway!

Red Velvet Chocolate Lava Cake Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 15-18 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup white chocolate buttons
  • 85g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cocoa powder
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 2 tsp red food colouring
  • pinch of salt

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 200C. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the white chocolate and butter until smooth, at intervals of 20-30 seconds to prevent the mixture from burning (approximately 2 minutes altogether). Grease the moulds with the extra butter.
  2. Add in the cocoa powder and sugar to the white chocolate and butter mixture. Stir until well combined.
  3. Beat the eggs in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add in the chocolate mixture in small amounts, stirring together to allow the eggs to warm slowly (temper) and avoid scrambling. Add in the remaining chocolate batter in small amounts as well and stir until fully combined.
  4. Stir in the red food colouring, flour, and pinch of salt until well combined. Then divide the batter amongst the 4 well greased moulds (should go up to about 3/4 of the way).
  5. Bake for 15 minutes (or as I found that my cakes didn’t quite cook at the top, add an extra 2 minutes, maybe).
  6. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edges right away. Invert each mould onto an individual serving plate and let sit for 2 minutes, then carefully lift up the mould. Top with vanilla ice cream to serve.

Red Velvet Chocolate Lava Cake

I mean, look at that gloss on the lava! So much loves!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com