It’s nearly Christmas and soon we will stuff our faces with more food than usual 🙂 Recently I went to one of these face stuffing events… the Sydney food bloggers Christmas picnic! Having only started this blog a year ago, it was my first time there and I have to say I was pretty nervous at first. I didn’t know anyone and I was going to finally see the faces behind some of the blogs I’ve been reading for years. To be honest, if it weren’t for the food theme it would be pretty creepy…meeting a bunch of strangers from the internet at a park.
We were all told to bring some food and my mind went blank. I’m always short on ideas on what to make; especially if it’s to cater for a group. But then I remembered a failed attempt at making curry puffs a couple years ago where the filling burst out of all the pastries like dozens of little volcanoes. This time I decided to roll my own pastry and also added a twist by filling it with massaman curry. Originally I was hoping the pastries would have the beautiful swirls like that found on Malaysian curry puffs, but then I must have stuffed up rolling out the water and oil based doughs. So in the end I just pretended I was trying to make empanadas…
For the pastry I followed a recipe from here and just used a store bought massaman paste and coconut milk to start the beef curry. After simmering for 1.5hrs I added the potatoes and left it for another 0.5hrs. I had to make sure I didn’t season too heavily as I reduced the liquid for a while until the curry was slightly thick (that’s to make sure it doesn’t leak and erupt from your pastry). I then shredded the beef and wrapped it in the pastry and fried it.
Ironically, even though I made it for a group of people known for photographing food, I myself forgot to take any proper pictures of the empanadas… but I did take some pictures of the whole spread of food. You can kind of see the empanadas in the middle
pictures of food and people.
The picnic overall was awesome and a big thank you to Chocolatesuze and Grabyourfork for organising!
So I decided to make a gingerbread house again, but with my previous experience, I was able to finesse it as much as I can. I used the same gingerbread recipe but spent a bit more time on icing the decorations. To be honest, I enjoy making the house rather than eating it. Although it has a nice mellow taste of ginger, I was never fond of gingerbread; yet somehow I made three in the span of a month.
This time I added some almonds to the roof and piped some icicles which actually look quite good. Unfortunately, the gingerbread had lost its brittleness by the time we demolished it. I forgot to cover/wrap it up and it just sucked up the moisture in the air. It still tasted alright though.
Because I had work and church in the morning, I didn’t have much time to whip up anything complicated so I just made some stock standard pumpkin, rocket and spinach salad which is always an easy and safe dish to prepare.
And it seems that other people had the same idea, as my friend later that night also made the same salad.. and also some turkey. So I guess that’s my Christmas feasting complete.
I hope you guys had a joyful Christmas too. And since I’m off to Tasmania soon, I also wish you have a satisfying and meaningful new year!
While most may think that this gingerbread house was done in the spirit of Christmas, it was not. Instead, my friend wanted to have a ‘Hans Christian Anderson’ themed birthday party, and the gingerbread house was supposed to reference the candy house in the story Hansel and Grettel. I have never made gingerbread before, so making a house was a very steep learning curve. Thankfully, I found this simple recipe online which didn’t require a resting time for the dough. (Just a side note: how do people choose online recipes? I make my selection based on how many ratings there are and how good the rating is. I find that to be quite reliable.)
This time I struck gold in the online lottery of recipes! The gingerbread pieces held their shape and were thin and brittle. We only wanted a small house (8cm x 8 cm base) to place on top of her birthday cake, so that may have made it easier as well. The only problem faced was making the royal icing which is the glue to the house pieces. I deviated from this recipe and used one from taste.com.au, but it was way too runny. However, after adding a whole heap more icing sugar, the mixture turned out really well and thick. I didn’t even need to hold up the roof to let it dry.
As you can see, my icing skills may need some improving…but at least the house is standing. The party preparation itself was crazily busy. We were also helping make food the whole day starting from 10 in the morning until the party at 6 and then continuing to serve and prepare food and clean up until 11. It was enjoyable, but as the night went on, my apprehension towards paying for catering decreased at a rapidly exponential rate. However, I have to say that I like spending time in the kitchen at parties, mainly because I am a bit awkward and too self-conscious trying to make small talk and be comfortable with many people at loud social events.. at least with cooking and serving food, it is something I can occupy myself with.
Anyways, if you are hoping to make a gingerbread house in the near future, this recipe is good and simple.