Friday, November 6, 2009

various reviews and sponge cake attempt #1

Moose Reviews: Eddit's Wok n' Roll

So yesterday some of us had forgotten to bring lunch and decided to go to Eddie's Wok n' Roll on Millcreek. I was hesistant, having had take-out from there that was somewhat disappointing (the butter chicken tasted like nothing I have had at other more authentic Indian restaurants and the look of the manchurian chicken was greasy enough to turn my stomach). But my dear colleague absolutely adores Eddie's and would have it any day of the week. So when she heard I was feeling like something hot and soupy she thought Eddie's is THE place to go, even though I was craving for something more like phở.

To be honest, when we first walked in, I was pleasantly surprised. It actually looked decent - dimmed lighting, nice big foutain in the waiting area, pretty decorations - it wasn't even half as run-down and dirty as I thought it would be, plus the place was packed. The Lunch Specials menu was very reasonably-priced - starting at $7.50 + tax & tips you get a soup (hot & sour or corn), a mini spring roll and a heaping plate of an entrée. The service was amicable but the waiters all seemed to be in too much of a hurry to hear out any special requests. Nothing on the Lunch Specials menu appealed to me since they were all rice or fried noodles dishes, so I ordered a Tom Yum soup on the regular menu to satisfy my craving for something hot and soupy.

The food arrived real quick, which was great; and piping hot too, which was also great. Alarmingly, the chili chicken adn the manchurian chicken looked exactly the same - an unappetizing dark bown sauce loaded with garlic and big chucks of red hot chili peppers. My colleagues tried to convince me that those two dishes are "so good" and that I should give them a try, but to me these just don't cut it as authentic Chinese food and I'd rather fast than to take one bite of them. The butter chicken another colleague ordered didn't live up to her expectation neither.

My Tom Yum soup arrived last, probably because the restaurant did not anticipate somebody ordering outside of the Lunch Specials Menu. The soup did not come with anything on the side, which I guess is typical in a Chinese restaurant. and it did not come like how I imagined it to be. The color was not as intense as I thought it would be, having had Tom Yum soup at several other Thai restaurants before, and there was no sight (nor smell nor taste) of lemon grass - one ingredient that MAKES the soup. The soup wasn't that good of a deal - for close to $5 (and that's not including tax and tips) it was a 4" rice-bowl full of tofu, with several small pieces of chicken and 2 small, very sad-looking shrimps. The taste wasn't offensive, but nowhere was it close to being impressiong - it's just not what I would consider a good Tom Yum soup.

I would probably go back again since it's only 5 minutes from work, much cheaper than JJ ($10+) and my colleagues think that it's the best "Chinese" food. And maybe next time I should just stick with a lunch special, regardless of how unappealing the dishes sound.

Moose Reviews: KitchenAid Professional HD Stand Mixer

Since it is my Dad's birthday today, Mom decided to make a special dinner for him last night to kick off the celebrations. We had really nice angus roasted beef (yum!) and tri-color three cheese ravioli in a tomato sauce (yum!!), and of course my dad's favorite: pâté. And post-dinner we had a sponge cake that was made using a KitchenAid Professional HD Stand Mixer and Wilton Excellence Non-stick Angel Food Cake Pan in our new oven.

The KichenAid Stand Mixer belongs to a good friend of my mom who is currently in Hong Kong - it went on sale at Costco's while she was in HK, so she asked Mom to pick it up and asked me to test it out for her. So finally there was an occasion and Dad has been talking about sponge cakes so we thought the perfect test project would be it - a sponge cake! The Stand Mixer came in a humongous cardboard box (over my knees and twice as wide as me) and it took awhile to actually take it out of the box. There were several gadgets I had to pull out before I got to the mixer itself - there were an instruction & recipes booklet, an accessory attachments list, a set of 4 measuring/prepping bowls with lids, a digital timer, a dough hook, a wire-whisk and a beater blade. Then it took some more time to set it up and figure out how to fit everything together. And it was BEAUTIFUL! The unit looks gorgeous with its sleek black and silver design. The stainless steel bowl has a rounded bottom - a big plus because I'm so sick of having to scrape the corners in my old mixer's flat bottom bowl. The mixer offers 10 speeds but speed 8 was sufficient for beating egg whites. And all it took was 3 minutes to beat my egg whites stiff and dry - without having sore arms!

The mixer was relatively quiet and very easy to operate. The only thing I can complain about is it got messy when I had to sift the flour mixture onto the batter in several separate additions and the flour got everywhere except into the mixing bowl. It was hideous to have to stop the mixer, lower the bowl, lift the bowl out of the support and ease it out away from the stand so as to have enough space to put in the flour and then remount the bowl, lift it up into place and start the mixing again. But I'm sure that can be remedied by using the pour guard (which you can purchase as an accessory) or simply sifting the flour first and just add it to the batter again (I should have thought of doing that, but then I was following the recipe to the letter...). I also had to catch my recipe a few times because it was blown off the countertop by a mysterious gust of wind when I started the unit. But all in all, I loved it. What usually takes me almost an hour was done in less than half that time. I seriously think the KitchenAid Professional Stand Mixer is an indispensible part of the kitchen. My kitchen. And I can forsee me having a hard time parting with it when my mom's friend comes to take it back.

The sponge cake was supposed to go into the oven at 350 degrees F, however, by turning on the convection option our new oven has decided to lower the temperature by 25 degrees - so after the cooking time was up the cake looked beautifully golden but was still a little wet on the inside. I returned the cake into the oven for another 10 minutes and increased the temperature by 25 degrees to the specified 350. The burnt the top a little but it was still brown and thank goodness, not black. And the inside was cooked through - nothing came back up with the skewer stick inserted near the center. So I took the cake out for cooling, as specified in the recipe, and the cake was supposed to be cooled upside down, for at least 4 hours. The Wilton non-stick angel food cake pan was perfect - it had 3 little feets that allowed the pan (along with the cake inside) to stand upside down. The only problem was, because it was a non-stick pan, the cake slid off the pan and came down and out while cake pan remained standing on its feets! So instead of letting it cool, we cut it right away and served it to Dad after singing 2 lines of "Happy Birthday" very quickly.

The flavour was awesome - and not too sweet either, just the way we like, and the texture of the inside of the cake was oh so light and soft - except for spots in the bottom where it's more dense and moist. That probably is a result of under-cooking (due to the lowered temperature) and insufficient cooling (which did not happen at all thanks to the non-stick pan working too well). The denser parts of the cake could be made spongier in texture by pulling and stretching, which was fun, and further proved that had the cake cooled properly, the cake would have turned out perfect. The "skin" of the cake - the layers at the top, the sides and the bottom - was just a little bit overdone and became too dry and chewy for my taste, but somehow Mom really enjoyed it, to the point of eating only that part and leaving the cloud-like middle for Dad and my brother. But then again, Mom has always had an affinity towards crusts - of breadloaves and pizza and so on, so we weren't surprised at all. Afterall, this is only the first attempt, and Dad has already requested another sponge cake to be done. So let's see what happens tonight!

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