Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dong Que Vietnamese Restaurant

102 Hopkins Street, Footscray
P: 03 9689 4392

Last night's train schemozzle wasn't all bad news. I wouldn't go so far as to say there was all that much GOOD about it, but I managed to salvage one good thing out of the evening. It wasn't having my feet crushed on an over-crowded train from Flinders St to Footscray. It wasn't spending 40 minutes just trying to get off the platform at Footscray. It certainly wasn't being crushed underfoot as 6 carriage-loads of people fought to be the first to get onto the two buses that were replacing that train as far as Newport.

I made an executive decision: it was likely to take a LONG time to clear the crowds and the problem at Spotswood, so I decided to go get myself a little bite to eat to pass the time.

My selection criteria was quite simple. The place had to have an appetising menu. And it had to accept eftpos. After a couple of false starts, I ended up at Dong Que. They offer take away as well as eating in, and I think there'd have to be something on the menu for everyone.

I always find it hard to pass up an entree. And when there're vego spring rolls it's even more difficult. These little babies have only 5 ingredients in them... carrot, cabbage, mushroom... and I'm not sure what the other two are. But they all combine to form an amazingly yummy package that, with a drizzle of chilli oil, are an incredibly good way to start the meal. I'd planned to only eat a couple and take the rest home to eat today.... but I scoffed them all. Bad me.

I chose the lemongrass and chilli beef for a main. Good choice. Tender slices of beef lightly stir fried with carrot, snow peas, capsicum, onion and spring onion, chilli, and fragrant lemongrass. Lovely. So fragrant. Half of this (and half the serve of rice) became my dinner tonight too.

The lowest point of the meal was definitely my dessert. I chose a banana fritter with ice cream and chocolate topping. Don't get me wrong, the banana was delicious with a crisp coating. The chocolate topping was your basic, fresh-off-the-shelf topping (possibly the cheap brand), but it was still ok. No, the real let-down was the ice cream. I'm not sure what brand it was, but it has to be one of the worst vanilla ice creams I've had in a while.

Still, all in all, that was a bloody good meal. Enough so that I'm thinking of making dinner in Footscray on the way home a regular occurrence. I mean, I can't find anything decent as far west as where I live, so I might explore Foot-es-cray a little more thoroughly.... Hm...

Oh, and when I went back to the station a little before 8 buses were still replacing trains from Footscray to Newport, but instead of a mad crush there were only 6 of us. Much nicer.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Two Bikkies, Different Looks

One of my christmas presents this year was a "Cookie-A-Day" desk calendar. It's been useful, particularly last night when I couldn't sleep and was feeling bored (VERY bored, as you might realise). And I decided I wanted to try an old favourite that had been given a little revamp in there. But first of all, I found passionfruit in my local Coles, so decided to whip up a batch of melting moments for old-times sake.

These little guys are always popular. They're a fool-proof standby for me when it comes to having to make biscuits. I have NEVER been able to stuff them up. But by the 60th little ball of dough I was VERY sick of rolling and pressing, so with the bit that was left I did...

... something a little different. Yep, I rolled the dough out flat then cut out a solid disk and a disk with a teddy bear cut out of it (aw so cute) and made sandwiches. You might also spy some cute little teddy-bear-shaped bikky sandwiches hiding on the plate too.

But back to the calendar. Jam drops were listed with a variation that suggested substituting a little cocoa for the flour, and nutella for jam. "Interesting", I thought to myself, "Worth a try".

(I can think of several unpleasant things that dollop of nutella reminds me of, but I'm trying really hard to ignore them)

Again, rolling dough (and trying to make all the little balls the same size) really got old after the first two dozen, so with the last of the dough I cut out circles, put a dollop of nutella in the middle, then folded them in half to cook and...

... came out with these little pillows. I think I prefer these. Very nice. Have had positive comments from all who sampled.

It's amazing what just modifying one little ingredient, or the presentation, can change something as simple as a biscuit.

Melting Moments:

Preheat oven to 160C. Cream 250g of softened butter with 1tsp vanilla essence and 1/2 cup pure icing sugar (not icing sugar mixture). Sift in 2 cups of plain flour and 1/3 cup of cornflour and mix until dough forms. Roll teaspoons-full of mixture into balls and place onto greased baking trays (or just use baking paper). Dipping a fork regularly in some flour, press down on the biscuits. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked. Cool on trays for 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

When completely cool, mix 60g of butter with the pulp from one large passionfruit and 1 cup of icing sugar (or more, depending on how much icing you want and what consistency you like). Spread on the flat bottom of a biscuit then sandwich another on. Yum.

Jam Drops:

I've previously posted the jam drops recipe I use, but the link I put in doesn't work any more :-( So here it is.

Preheat oven to 180C. Cream 126g of butter with 1/2 cup of caster sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla essence. Add 1 egg and beat well. Sift in 1 1/4 cups self-raising flour and mix until dough forms. Roll teaspoons-full of dough into balls and place onto greased baking trays. Lightly make an indent on top with your thum, then fill with a little jam.

For the chocolate ones I substituted 2tbl of cocoa for some of the flour (to make the total still 1 1/4 cups of dry powdery stuff), then dropped nutella on instead of jam.

Yum again.