Monday, August 29, 2011

The Best Brownies Ever

The best brownies ever

I don't have a sweet tooth. I have a loathing for milk and white chocolate and I don't eat Tim Tams, Nutella or chocolate cake. But god, do I love brownies. Especially the fudge-y, dark, dense ones. Not cake-y, but chewy and moist. I've tried so, so many recipes – creaming the butter and sugar or melting the butter and chocolate, using cocoa powder or using dark cooking chocolate, three eggs, two eggs or two and eggs and a yolk, more flour or less flour, butter or shortening, caster sugar or raw sugar or brown sugar, baking longer at a lower temperature or shorter at a higher temperature,  et cetera. But these are the absolute best if you like your brownies how I do, and here's what I've discovered I like:
  • Muscovado or brown sugar – the darker the colour, the more pronounced the molasses flavour.
  • Dark cooking chocolate – some recipes use cocoa powder and extra sugar instead, but I've found that semisweet chocolate makes the brownies chewier and creamier. I use 60% cocoa.
  • Melting the butter with the chocolate – creaming the butter and sugar aerates the mixture and gives the brownies more rise, making them more cake-like. Melting the butter and chocolate together makes the brownies denser and fudge-y.
  • Not many eggs – too many makes the brownies drier and tougher.
  • Unsalted, real butter. Sorry vegan friends!
  • No baking powder, milk or syrup. No need, I promise.

Yield: 12 brownies
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 180g light Muscovado or regular brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 85g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
  • 75g walnuts, lightly toasted, chopped (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C and line the base of an 18cm square pan, don't grease the edges because this will fry the brownies on the sides.
  2. Place the butter (chopped, for faster melting) and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. I don't like microwaving because it can burn the chocolate.
  3. When butter and chocolate have melted, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. 
  4. Beat the sugar, vanilla and a pinch of salt into the mixture. 
  5. Beat the eggs and then add to the mixture, mixing well. 
  6. Add the flour, beating until smooth. Fold in the walnuts. You can toast walnuts by placing them on a plate in single layer, and microwaving for two minutes in one minute bursts. Remove as much skin as you can after chopping because it leaves a bitter taste.
  7. Pour mixture into pan, smoothing the top. 
  8. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a moist crumbs attached - if it comes out clean, you've overdone it. They will continue to cook after you remove them from the oven so undercooked ones are always better than overcooked dry brownies.
  9. Allow to cool, before cutting into squares (I was a little impatient, hence the messy edges)
  10. Stuff your face. Or serve with ice-cream (the real stuff though, low-fat ice-cream is bollocks).
No brownies
The best brownies no more

Friday, August 26, 2011

Kisaragi Ramen

After seeing Street Food's post on Kisaragi Ramen, I made a beeline for Dixon House Food Court with The Ninja in tow. This was the second stop to our afternoon ramen adventure after Daikichi we discover  the seedy Chinatown food courts seem to be hiding another gem.

Miso Ramen, Kisaragi Ramen
Miso Ramen $8.80 with half soft-boiled egg $0.50

The miso ramen is pretty as a picture, with nice thick slices of pork and ramen in a miso and pork broth, topped with pickled bamboo, seaweed, shallots and saffron and black sesame. I added half a boiled egg for fifty cents extra, and it was a perfect soft googie rich with soy flavour. The broth is quick to form a skin, and is rich with collagen however the porkiness is lovely and subtle, balanced by the miso but the real winner here is the cha-su. Slices of the roast pork was was tender and melt-in-your-mouth sweet, literally falling apart when I tried to pick up a piece with my chopsticks.

Tsukimi Ramen, Kisaragi Ramen
Tsukimi Ramen $9.80

I originally wanted to add an egg to the tonkotsu, but the bloke suggested I instead try the tsukimi ramen, and I'm glad I went with it. Topped with bean sprouts and a soft-poached egg, the Kisaragi version is a close contender to Gumshara, the tonkotsu broth is lighter with a slightly milky consistency, and I suggest those to aren't big fans of the thickness of Gusmhara's broth to try this place.

Kisaragi Ramen
Shop B04, Dixon House, 413-415 Sussex St, Haymarket 2000
Telephone: 0405 222 1328

Kisaragi Ramen on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Min Sok Chon, CBD

The fabulous Mr. Joseph Dang decided gather troops and head to Korean for Friday night dinner and I blissfully obliged. Min Sok Chon is small restaurant tucked away on Liverpool St that Joseph and Nathan frequent but didn't know the name of until I decided to blog about it (this seems to happen a lot). There were also some nice banchan side dishes which I didn't photograph, the favourite being the gamja jorim (glazed potatoes), which required many refills.

Dolsot Steak Tartare, Min Sok Chon
Yukhoe Bibimbap $16

I have a confession. Ever since I was a little kid watching my parents make dinner I've always thought that raw meat looked way more appetising than when it is cooked (I was a strange child, yes). So naturally when I discovered tartare this year, I was delighted. The yukhoe bibimbap is the Korean take on steak tartare, served cold in a stone pot with sauteed spinach, bean sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, carrot and red cabbage and topped with a raw egg yolk and sesame seeds. Underneath is a steaming pile of freshly cooked rice, and when mixed the combination becomes warm and scrummy. Despite Florey being grossed out by the idea of eating raw meat (she refused to try it), I found when mixed, the meat didn't have a strong taste apart from the soy marinade. All together, the dish was delicious and I scoffed it down and was the first person to finish eating (every time).

Bulgogi, Min Sok Chon
Bulgogi Deobap  $12

There were two orders of bulgogi deobap at our table, a popular Korean dish of marinated stir-fried beef with onion, carrot and cabbage served on a sizzling hot place, with a side of rice. So much nice things were said about this dish, though I didn't have a taste.

Fried Chicken, Min Sok Chon
Ganjang Chicken $18

The ganjang chicken was encased in a thick, crunchy coating that was a punch of flavour. The combination of both strong sweet soy and savoury flavours oddly worked for me. The oily deep-fried batter encased succulent and juicy pieces of wing and leg.

Min Sok Chon
Ttukbaegi Bulgogi

Dolsot Bibimbap, Min Sok Chon
Dolsot Bibimbap $12

The dolsot bibimbap consisted of barbecued beef, lettuce, red cabbage, carrot, shiitake mushroom, sauteed spinach, bean sprouts, topped with a raw egg yolk, hot sauce and sesame seeds, served over rice in a stone hot pot.

Dolsot Bibimbap, Min Sok Chon
Stirring action shot (last three photos courtesy of Charlotte)

Min Sok Chon
1/116 Liverpool Street, Sydney 2000
Telephone: (02) 9267 7798

Min Sok Chon on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 15, 2011

Charlie & Co. Burgers, Westfield Sydney

Some would consider $14 for a burger to be overpriced when you can get a $5 meal at McDonalds – especially when you're a starving uni student – but I guess there's something wrong with my priorities when I would rather spend $20 on one day's lunch rather than one week's worth of groceries. In justification, burgers are pretty up there on my favourite types of food lists, alongside ramen, pies and pizza; and the burgers at Charlie & Co. Burgers are pretty damn smashing. I've been twice, and I would go again right now if my wallet wasn't hurting so much.

The Federation Burger, Charlie & Co. Burgers
Federation Burger $16 (eat in)/$14 (eat out)

Call me undignified but give me a set of silverware to eat a giant burger and confusion will ensue. After many previous failed attempts at eating burgers with cutlery I will advise you, dear reader, when presented with such a situation to give a finger to table etiquette and pick up that baby in your hands. One such burger that requires handling with care is the federation burger – an Angus beef patty with tomato relish, tomatoes, lettuce, aged cheddar, fried egg, bacon, sautéed onion and aioli. I regret nothing. It was deliciously messy.

The Producers Burger, Charlie & Co. Burgers
Producers' Burger $14 (eat in)/$12 (eat out) 

The second time I came around here I settled on the vegetarian option, due to some annoying conscience nagging me about healthier eating. The producers' burger  is compromised of marinated mushrooms, grilled haloumi, sun-dried tomatoes, baby spinach and aioli on a sesame bun. The haloumi was amazing and the aioli perfect though mushrooms will never quite live up to a slab of meat in my mind (sorry vegos) but whatever, it was delicious anyway.

Parmesan Truffle Fries, Charlie & Co. Burgers
Parmesan and Truffle Fries $8

The parmesan and truffle fries are actually amazing. There have been a lot of mixed reviews on the blogosphere about these being lukewarm or whatever blah blah blah they were perfect every time I've ordered them. Which is every time I go through this food court. Fragrant with truffle oil and topped with a generous amount of parmesan cheese, these are unhealthily moreish. At eight dollars a serve, these are rather expensive but I'm obsessed.

Charlie & Co. Burgers
Level 5, Westfield Sydney, Market St, Sydney 2000
Telephone: (02) 8072 7777

Charlie & Co Burgers on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Daikichi Ramen, Chinatown

Hello! Sorry for not updating in ages - unfortunately I recently lost my phone and all my blog notes were on it. If you would like to purchase me a new iPhone, please feel free to do so. Anyway, a couple weeks ago I embarked on a mini afternoon ramen tour with The Ninja from The Ninja Review. First stop was the new Daikichi Ramen, to where I was directed to by Sherry.

Daikichi Ninniku Ramen, Daikichi Ramen
Daikichi Ninniku Ramen $10.80

I am the biggest garlic fiend, so naturally I went for the Daikichi ninniku ramen which was fragrant with dried garlic slices and topped bamboo, chasu pork, nori, shallots and half a perfectly soft-boiled egg. The broth was porky and soy-flavoured, not too heavy and the noodles were just right. I wished the pork were of the fattier cuts though.

Daikichi Shouyu Ramen, Daikichi Ramen
Daikichi Shouyu Ramen $9.80

He-who-must-not-be-named's daikichi shouyu ramen was the basic version of mine, lovely rich broth which I found similar to Menya's and two big slices of lean pork. Also hooray for perfect googie eggs in every bowl!

Chicken Karaage, Daikichi Ramen
Chicken Karaage $3.30

We couldn't resist ordering a side of chicken karaage. Three pieces of crunchy deep-fried chicken which we found delicious and surprisingly un-oily.

Daikichi Ramen
5/209 Thomas Street, Sydney 2000
Telephone: (02) 9211 2450

Daikichi Ramen on Urbanspoon