June 21, 2010

Persimmon Cupcakes

persimmon cupcake 2

Persimmons and I aren't friends. We've never really liked each other, their delicate flavor and baby food consistency have never really grown on me, and I'm sure they're not happy with me giggling loudly when I throw one towards a hard surface. Seriously, you should try it, they make one almighty big mess, especially good in food fights.

persimmon cupcake from above

There's a couple of perks to living in a house previously owned by migrant Italians. Dodgy home electrical work and massive fruit trees. You might think that the first point is not a perk, but it always a laugh when you call in a trades person and tell them there is a real possibility they may die while working in our house. Back to perk 2, one of the massive fruit trees in our backyard happens to be a persimmon tree.

persimmon tree

Despite my attempts to neglect it, the tree seems to revel and produces tonnes fruit. My brother loves persimmons, but there are only so many he can eat. I tried giving them away to my mum, she has two small trees of her own, she ended up passing my persimmon onto some friends of hers. I’ve tried giving them away to friends, but yet I still remain in a glut of squishy soft flesh! I had a bright idea one day and filled an enormous box, plonked it outside my front gate with a sign reading “free persimmons – please take”. I even put out plastic bags so passerby's could happily put their free fruit in a carry bag. 20 minutes later I checked on my experiment, the persimmons were gone, along with the box! I was left with a sign and all of the original plastic bags. I’m still left with loads of fruit, but now my box is gone, I have no means of transporting fruit from the backyard to the doorstep. I thought about putting them in buckets, but I’m afraid the buckets will disappear too. I’m not running the risk of having nowhere to wash my small and delicates.


So I’m left with only one option, eat them. Sigh. I didn’t want it to come to this, but the time has come. I was perusing the internet, as one does from time to time and noticed that Rianna from Cherry Blossom Cupcakes had made Precious Persimmon Cupcakes. I was instantly curious. They sounded divine, even though they contained persimmon. So I shot off and email and asked if she would kindly share her recipe with me. And luckily she said yes!!

I made Rianna’s original recipe, with orange zest buttercream frosting. They tasted exactly like gingerbread, but in cupcake form. The flavour of persimmon is very subtle, the cake is moist and fluffy with loads of brown sugar flavour to boot.

original persimmon cupcakes
The first batch of cupcakes

I like my cupcakes low on sugar, that way I can eat more of them and not feel so guilty, that reasoning works for me! So after Daz asked me to make them again, I decided to tweak the recipe a bit - I cut the amount of brown sugar in half and decreased the castor sugar by 15 grams. The result is a cupcake with more persimmon flavour, which was what I was hoping for. I topped them with orange zest cream cheese frosting and a sprinkle of pistachios. The second batch disappeared just as fast as the first, and now I’m planning my third batch. I never thought I would actually enjoy persimmons in something. Now I worry about not having a big enough supply of persimmon.

inside persimmon cupcakes

Thanks Rianna for the great recipe!

Persimmon Spice Cupcakes
Should make 18 standard sized cupcakes


260g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
225 g unsalted butter
165 g caster sugar
165 g brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup pureed persimmon pulp
2 tbsp orange juice

1. Preheat oven to 175 celcius

2. Sift together flour and spices and set aside

3. Cream softened butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.

4. Add egg and beat well.

5. Add 1/3 of flour mixture and mix in lightly, then 1/2 of persimmon pulp and orange juice mixing lightly. Add another 1/3 flour mixture and mix, remaining 1/2 of persimmon pulp and mix and then remaining flour and mix through lightly.

6. Spoon batter into cupcake cases to around 2/3 full (I use an ice cream scoop to measure)

7. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops spring back to touch.

8. Cool 5 minutes in the trays and then on a wire rack.

persimmon cupcake

June 17, 2010

Cupcake Fun!

The traditional thing to stalk - is a famous person or an ex partner, but I'm not traditional at all.....I love to stalk cupcakes and cupcake paraphernalia. To be honest, I don't know who is seeking out whom anymore. I think cupcake "stuff" finds me. I constantly find myself squealing......"oh! cupcake" which is usually followed by Daz quickly disappearing. I once had a conscious and didn't want people noticing me taking happy snaps of the item on my mobile phone, nowadays I just take pictures sometimes with sales assistants standing right next to the item. So in this installment, I bring you the biggest, most cupcake packed Cupcake Fun! there has been to date. Strap your seat belts on and grab yourself a cupcake for sustenance...you'll need it!

First we have a selection of cupcake aprons. Cupcake aprons have become very popular of late. A decade ago the fake boobs on aprons was extremely popular, now its the humble cupcake.

cupcake apron

cupcake apron at house
This is the matching apron to my cupcake mitten sent to me by Arwen from Hoglet K

cupcake apron with mitten
This one has cute little frills at the bottom, so you can feel girly in your cupcake apron and mittens

Next we have cupcake clothing. I'm a true believe in starting things at a young age, and why not start your child's addiction to the sweet frosted ones straight after birth. I think that if I had a child and bought this outfit, every time I changed their nappy it would be followed by some cupcake gorging. I wouldn't be a hot mamma, I'd be a cupcake saddle bags mamma!

cupcake baby clothes

Imagine - You're trying to have a romantic night, the mood is right, the wine is flowing. You decided you want to get the lighting just right, so you light your cupcake candles. That's perfect, now the dozen cookies and cream cupcakes and I can have a real intimate time together.

cupcake candles

A friend of mine recently sent me this trolley coin. Its absolutely awesome! Instead of using a $2 coin for your trolley you can use this cute little coin. I'm often searching around in my handbag for a coin, now I can simply unhook the cupcake from my keys and insert away....that sounded weird.

cupcake trolley coin

trolley coin

Agnes from Off the Spork sent me a happy snap of cupcake lip balm! Then I was surprised with my very own little tub of the stuff. As soon as I got over the wonderment of cupcake lip balm I focused my attention on the red velvet flavouring. Would the cupcake taste like the batter, or the cream cheese frosting? I couldn't stand the curiosity any longer, so the second I got it home I ripped it opened and discovered that the lip balm tasted like the batter. In a way I was actually please, I'm not exactly sure how they would have created an artificial cream cheese flavoring.

cupcake lipbalm

cupcake lip balm

Still on the topic of lip balm, next we have Shut your cake hole lip balm in strawberry flavour. Hmmmm.....shut it with cupcakes.

shut your cakehole

Ever wondered where a good place to store or hide your cupcake is? we'll I have the solution, inside a ceramic dish, shaped like a cupcake! I guarantee that no one will suspect they'll be hiding in there!

porcelain cupcakes 2

porcelain cupcakesl

porcelain cupcakes 3

Cupcakes have become so in vogue that cookies are even trying to be them! I recently found these cupcake cookie cutters in matchbox. What next, bread in the shape of a cupcake?

cupcake cookie cutters

You can wash all those cupcake cookies down by enjoying a cup of tea in your cupcake mug. Do they make cupcake flavoured tea?

cupcake cup

Once you've made all those cupcake cookies, you can store them in your cupcake clad cookie tin. I'm so glad I refrain from buying any of this stuff.....you've hear of cat ladies, well I'd be the cupcake lady!

cupcake tin

Its winter time, and its so easy to catch a case of the sniffles. Well don't worry, you can wipe away your worries with cupcake tissues!! I have a confession, I actually bought these! I was curious to see if they smelt like cupcakes. They were $3.50 for 10 tissues, ripe off! And the answer is no, they don't smell like cupcakes. I want to cry now, where are those tissues!

cupcake tissues

Behold, the knitted cupcake! They are so darn cute! We recently went to the Grampians for some rest and relaxation. We decided to walk into the visitor center to waste some time and have a look at some of the local offerings. As soon as I walked through the door I was confronted with these fluffy goodies. It seems that even on holiday cupcakes seem to find me! There was a little old lady sitting behind the desk knitting away. I'm assuming that she would be the creator of these works of art. I was going to tell her that she had done a really good job, but thought it would be weird if I said that without buying one. It took a lot of will power to walk out without buying any.

knitted cupcakes

Next we have cupcakes in the movies! Arguably, sex and the city started the cupcake craze back when Carrie was munching on a Magnolia Bakery cupcake. In the new movie, cupcakes make another appearance. I've not seen the movie yet, but found the trailer for the film to be intriguing. Here are a couple of screen grabs from Charlotte in the kitchen with her children.



There's even cupcake stuff stuck on the pin up board!

You can watch the full trailer here

Katy Perry is one crazy girl. Her recent video for California Gurls was a gold mine for cupcake related hilarity. Here are a couple of screen shots...

First we have Snoop Dogg wearing the best suit ever invented, the cupcake suit. I wonder where I can buy one for Daz.


Then we have Katy herself wearing the most supportive cupcake I've ever seen.




You can watch the full music video here. I strongly recommend you watch it, if only to see the gummie bear/ whip cream incident!

Well that's all for this installment of Cupcake Fun! Remember if you happen to be followed by any cupcake related stuff please take a photo and send it to me in an email. thegourmetchallenge {AT} gmail {DOT} com

You can read about other installments here, here, here or even here

June 13, 2010

Old Town Kopitiam Mamak

The wonderful Conor from Hold the Beef recently made a flying visit to Melbourne before her world-wind tour of the northern hemisphere. So a bunch of Melbourne food bloggers got together and headed down to Old Town Kopitiam Mamak at QV on Penny's recommendation. You can always count on Penny for a good recommendation!

The location is nice and easy, located on the second floor of QV, even though I don't work in the city I often find myself in and around the CBD so a quick visit is never a big ask. I enjoyed the atmosphere, nice and noisy with plenty of over hanging lights, something I've become very pleased at seeing. The food was also good, although I really regret not getting an Ice Kacang for dessert!

So Daz and I shared a Roti to start. Perfect way to get the stomach juices flowing and get yourself seriously hungry.


I like a menu that is part appetizing, part chose your own adventure. I'd never had a Nasi Kandar before so opted for that, the adventure part required a couple of selection choices. This always causes a bit of nervousness, will I choice the best thing? will someone else get something better?? So I closed my eyes and dove in - Briyani Rice with 2 selections - chicken curry and sambal eggs. The eggs were a little over cooked for my liking, but everything else was great. Packed with flavour and topped with a crispy papadum. Can't go wrong with a little more texture in your dish. I wish I had asked for chili, everything tastes better with chilli.

rice dish

Daz chose the same Briyani Rice with 2 selections, he also chose chicken curry, but with fried calamari. Since his dish was so similar to mine, I chose not to sample it. He polished off the whole dish, so I'm sure it tasted great.

rice dish2

I think I found a new favourite. The meals are really tasty, pretty great value for money and all the dishes came pretty quickly after being ordered. I strongly recommend getting yourself down there to give this place a go, let me know how the Ice Kacang is!

My fellow food bloggers on the night were;
Conor from Hold the Beef
April from My food Trail
Agnes from Off the Spork

June 8, 2010

Cutler and Co.

Dining Date: May 2010
2010 Rating: 14th
2010 Star rating: 2
Chef: Andrew McConnell
Location: 55-57 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Victoria

front of cutler and co

Way back in May we headed off in search of a well priced lunch with Agnes, Alastair and Pat from Off the Spork. Cutler and Co has a fixed Sunday lunch for $65, definitely a winner on the wallet. The lunch was filled with loads of laughter and plenty of food related puns to keep us going for hours. There were some real corkers, and sadly some really lame puns, mostly coming from me, if you want to check out all the good ones, head on over to Agnes' post.

So lets get straight into the food. The lunch was three courses, where the first course was a selection of dishes designed to be shared by the entire table. Then there was a choice for mains and a choice for dessert. To start we had Cured ocean trout toast. The trout was soft and juicy sitting on a very crunchy crisp croûton. I wish I had eaten this a little slower or at least had the brains to hide the plate from everyone else.

cutler and co ocean trout

Next we have the French Breakfast Radish.Those crazy francophiles, eating radishes for breakfast, what will they think of next? Macarons as door stops? I wasn't exactly sold on eating a radish on its own, but surprisingly I enjoyed it. They were fairly crunchy, to be expected and slightly appetizing.

cutler and co breakfast raddish

Next we have the Claire de lune oysters. These seem to have become the popular kid in school, appearing at every party and usually being awesome to hang out with. I'm a fan of good quality fresh oysters, and these are as good as they get at the moment.

culter and co oysters

Beetroot salad, goats curd and apple. The beetroot was fantastic, the earthy flavour of the beetroot combined with the gamy flavour from the goats curd was spectacular. I made sure to fill my mouth with a small portion of every element on the dish, and the apple jelly still managed to make it to the party and offer its sweet contrast to the competing flavours. The waiter informed us that the dish had dill oil in it, somehow I managed to miss that flavour all together.

cutler and co beetroot

Pearl barley, radicchio and ricotta salata. I had my reservations about this dish. My mum often makes salted ricotta when she gets a bit greedy and orders a few kilos of ricotta when all she really needs is a small wedge. We often have it shaved on top of fresh pasta. I enjoyed the pearl barely, it was chewy with a slight firm center, but I felt like the dish was missing something. I think if the ricotta was a bit more salty and a bit more pungent it would have lifted the dish a little. So this was a bit of a miss for me.

cutler and co raddichio salad with salted ricotta

Garlic sausage, potato and ravigot. Yum! This one got me interested again. The thick generous sausages were fantastic, I piled a whole heap of this on the warm crusty bread they served and chewed away happily.

cutler and co suasage

Fried green tomatoes. They were served with a crunchy outter shell and a creamy mayo. My notes literally say "They were fried, green and tomatoes". Sometimes I make myself laugh!

cutler and co fried green tomatoes

Sweet peppers, migas and tuna mayo. Stop everything! This one was the stand out of the day. Peppers with pickled garlic, spanish fried crutons, parprika and tuna mayo. I usually walk away from a meal with at least one dish I would like to recreate at home, and on this occasion it was one element of a dish - the tuna mayo! I'm sure its just tuna and mayo mixed together but it was a taste sensation. At one point I tried to scoop some on my bread and eat it like that, but Daz baulked at me and said it wasnt allowed - something to do with manners, I dont have any and he would like me to grow some. Everyone at the table was impressed by that mayo and as soon as the dish was finished, the attentive staff whisked it away. Leaving us all wondering way we didnt dive in and lick the plate clean.....oh yeah we're supposed to have manners.

cutler and co tuna mayo with pepers

Onto the mains. Alastair had the Local line caught snapper, tomato, prawn & chorizo

cutler and co local caught snapper

Agnes and I had the Braised lamb, buckwheat polenta and gremolata. The weather is getting a little cooler, so ordering anything with polenta is a good way to warm up your belly. The lamb was very tender but was slightly too fatty and was a little too intense in lamb flavour, it tasted a bit more like mutton. I ate the whole lot though.

cutler and co lamb

Pat and Daz ordered the Roast Quail, smoked sausage and sauerkraut. It was quiet funny to see the two boys getting the smallest dish on the menu. I looked at Daz' face when the dish came out, I know him pretty well and I'm sure I can read his mind and it said "IS THAT ALL?" Luckily for him the portion size was made up for with plenty of flavour.

cutler and co pidgeon

Onto dessert. Alastair ordered Earl Grey tea ice cream, chocolate ganache and macerated prune. I didn't get to taste this one, but I must give ten points on presentation, it was a truly beautiful dessert.

cutler and co dessert

Poor Daz. Sometimes, very rarely, I feel sorry for him. He ordered his dessert at the start of the meal, opting for the Gruyère d'Alpage and shiraz jelly. Daz is a little like me and completely cheese obsessed, so when he saw Gruyère he had to order it. Sadly it wasn't what he expected. He thought he would get some sort of cheesecake with wine jelly, when his cheese plate was placed in front of him, his dreams of eating a cake were completely shattered. Of course he can't keep his emotions off his face and showed his disappointment, we all laughed and laughed...he almost cried. The really hurtful part came when he had eaten all of his three paper thin crackers, and finished his teaspoon of jelly and was left with more than half of the original cheese - with nothing to eat it with. Then we laughed and laughed at him again.

cutler and co cheese

Agnes and I ordered the Quince baba, sheep's milk yoghurt and cherry. The baba was very dry, it needed to be soaked in a lot more rum (I feel the pirate in me coming out). The cherry puree was just perfect with the delicate yoghurt and Quince jelly. I think if the baba had been removed all together it would have been an much more appealing dish.

cutler and co rum baba

I wasnt exactly blown away by the food at Cutler and Co, but there were enough intriguing elements that has made me conclude that a return visit is necessary. At the very least to order a massive bowl of tuna mayo.

After eating lunch, Daz and I decided to take a walk down to Brunswick street for a bit of shopping. Two doors down from Cutler and Co we discovered an oddly dressed tree. I know winter is upon us, but I didn't know that trees suffer from the cold as well! The tree had been lovingly and painstakingly wrapped in dozens of doilies. I often see doilies at charity shops and wonder who would buy them, now I know....cold trees! Check out the freezing pole to the right.

doiley tree