Making up cupcake flavours is far too much fun. Chocolate? Vanilla? Why take the pedestrian route when you can go crazy with whatever flavour combination takes your fancy. Popcorn, Coca-Cola, strawberry balsamic and chocolate bacon cupcakes have all been baked recently, out of whimsy.
Often, I'll try to match cupcake flavours to the cuisine I know we'll be eating, so Asian-themed dinners have concluded with black sesame cupcake cones or ginger with chai icing.
Aware that the G-man would be serving Thai food at a recent Stomachs Eleven dinner, I brought along lychee and jasmine cupcakes, hoping they'd provide a light and refreshing end to the evening.
But first things first. Onto the food.
Freshly shucked oysters from The Oyster Farm
The cause for this occasion was the arrival of the G-man's annual delivery of oysters from The Oyster Farm, an initiative that allows you "adopt" your own oysters and watch them grow via webcam throughout the season. It's not a cheap exercise with each dozen costing $28, but there's plenty of excitement when the box arrives.
Shucking oysters is never as easy as it looks either. Everyone has their own technique and I manage to open about two dozen before I pass the oyster shucker onto L.
I don't find this year's harvest as in intensely flavoured as last year's, but the taste of freshly opened oysters is still a treat, especially slurping up the pool of natural brine that surrounds the oyster.
Resting the wagyu steak
I'd arrived early and am entrusted with searing a huge slab of wagyu steak for beef tataki. I'm petrified I'll overcook the fillet, but to my relief it's a perfect shade of dark pink. We make up our own dish by rolling the thinly sliced beef with enoki mushrooms and a green shallot stalk.
Beef tataki served with a soy dressing
Fried prawn dumplings
Did someone say fried? The G-man speaks my language. We crunch on prawns wrapped in wonton sheets and tied up with hokkien noodle, a simple idea that is so easy to do. He also fries dumplings made by wrapping fish ball halves in wonton skins, a dish he is says is common in Thailand. I relish the juicy sweetness of the fish ball against the crunch of pastry and am impressed by how fast these can be made.
We also snack on prawns wrapped in taro shreds, a dish that seems extraordinarily complex until the G-man confesses he's purchased them from a seafood shop ready-made.
Khai Look Koei Son-in-law eggs with pork mince
Son-in-law eggs are always my favourite, and I marvel as I watch the boiled egg halves blister and become golden when immersed in hot oil. The G-man serves these with a pork mince mixture that is soft, spicy and sweet and fragrant with ginger.
Koong Cha Num Pla
King prawn and king scallop cocktail with spicy garlic and lemon dressing
A King prawn and king scallop cocktail is served in a muffin tray, a last-minute plating decision when we realise we've run out of crockery. The prawns are semi-raw, blanched with boiling water in their shells, and then peeled and served with a fiery lemon dressing that is pungent with garlic and coriander. The gigantic scallops underneath are plump and sweet.
Ham and zucchini frittata
Silverlily has brought a ham and zucchini frittata, chock-full of chunks of ham and slivers of finely grated zucchini.
M's grilled quail is also a winner, the soy marinade caramelising to a sticky sweetness.
Thanks again to the G-man for sharing your oyster bounty!
Lychee and jasmine cupcakes
125g salted butter softened
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tin of lychees, drained and quartered (reserve the syrup)
125g unsalted butter, softened
250g-300g pure icing sugar
1-2 teaspoons syrup from tinned lychees
few drops jasmine essence (from Thai grocery stores)
Preheat oven to 170C or 150C if using fan-forced.
Combine the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and eggs in a food processor and blitz until well combined. If you do not have a food processor, cream the butter and sugar first and then add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, vanilla essence and eggs and beat until well combined.
Add two tablespoons of lychee syrup and blitz/beat.
Distribute the batter evenly across twelve patty pans in a muffin tin, about a tablespoon in each. Push 2-3 pieces of lychee into the centre of each patty pan of batter. Use your finger or a clean spoon to smooth the batter over the top so the lychees are fully submerged.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into one of the cupcakes comes out clean.
When the cupcakes are cool, pipe over with frosting.
Lychee and jasmine frosting
Using an electric mixer, cream the unsalted butter until light and fluffy. Beat in 250g of the icing sugar, then add 1-2 teaspoons of the lychee syrup and a few drops of jasmine essence. Adjust according to your personal taste. You may need to add more icing sugar or lychee syrup until you reach a smooth and pipeable consistency.
Makes 12 cupcakes
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Riverside Drive, Wooli, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9399 3599 or +61 (02) 6649 7355
Oysters must be ordered at the beginning of the season (November to February) and will be available sometime during November to February in the following year. You can monitor the progress of various oysters online and visit your own oysters in person if you make an appointment.
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Wooli Oysterfarm oysters (Jan09)
Oysters at Mooney Mooney (Oct08)
Oysters at Mooney Mooney (Sep07)
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1/12/2010 02:40:00 a.m.