Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sakura Honey Basbousa

Sakura in Japanese means cherry blossom where the Japanese celebrate the blossoming of these delicate flowers during their spring festival.  Similar to Spring (my favourite season of the year), sakura symbolizes life, beauty and new growth. Which may segue to the question of my absence to blogging.......
 Let me introduce you to the latest member of family Shanks...HBurger!!
A new little sister for MiniB and my excuse for the lack of my blog presence.  Granted HBurger is nearing 11months now and looks so much cuter than this pic shows, but anyone with young kids will know...they're hard work.   My late nights staying up to blog have been replaced with much needed catch-up sleep.  But it's all worth it and now that we're in some sort of routine, I look forward to get my blogging mojo back.

To help celebrate Spring in Australia, Sophie from Nihon Ichiban has provided samples of Sakura products made in Japan.  Like many other Japanese products/craft, I found it ingenious that the they have found a way to create food products from this ever popular flora.  I tried the Sakura Honey Syrup which is gorgeously light and fragrant similar to rose water, and led me to combine it with a middle-eastern classic sweet.  The dish may not reflect on the sakura's beauty, but it sure backs it up with taste!!

Till next time ... we eat!!


Sakura Honey Basbousa

2 1/2 cups semolina
1/2 cup self raising flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of vanilla yoghurt
200g unsalted butter, melted
25-30 blanched whole almonds
200g caster sugar
Extra butter to grease the tin

2 tablespoon Sakura Honey syrup (or honey)
1 cup white sugar
250ml water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Sakura Honey Syrup to drizzle
 Note: if honey substituted, use 1 table spoon of honey and 1 teaspoon of rose water.

  • Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celcius
  •  Use a small amount of butter to grease the tin.  Cooking spray can also be used.
  •  Mix together semolina, coconut, sugar, flour
  •  Add and mix in yoghurt, vanilla extract and melted butter to the dry mixture
  •  Use your hands to spread the mixture into the tin evenly
  •  Cut diagonal lines across the mixture to form diamond shapes
  •  Place 1 almond in the centre of each diamond
  •  Bake for 35-40mins or until golden brown

  •  Place sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil
  •  Stir the mixture until all the sugar disolves
  •  Simmer for 5mins without stirring
  •  Add lemon juice and stir
  •  Add Sakura honey syrup and stir
  •  Leave mixture to cool for 2mins
  •  When the cake is ready pour the sugar mixture onto the hot cake
  •  Allow to stand for 5mins for the syrup to soak into the cake
  • Drizzle extra Sakura honey syrup over the cake and serve


 Sakura sample products were supplied to Yaya's Yum Yums by Sophie of Nihon Ichiban.
For more Sakura products check out their website.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fine Moments in Dining, Never Blogged - Part 1

This blog came about as a result of my using the photographs on my hard drive as a screen saver for the first time. Normally I have walked away and reawaken my screen as soon as I return however one day, as the computer cycled through my huge backlog of photos, I found myself captivated by some of the images and wondering why I had never blogged the meal. For the most part, it's because I was simply too busy and time having passed, the blog was no longer relevant.

For this reason, although I credit the dining establishment, I must make my disclaimer that the photos are over a year on from the dining experience. That said, if the restaurants in question are still in operation and delivering the quality of food represented by my photos, I would have recommended them. Hopefully a cross check with other reviews will help. If however, you just want to view some of my favourite shots which have never seen the light of day, please enjoy!

Even though it was over a year ago, I do remember that the owners were having difficulties extending their trading hours. I sincerely hope they were successful.

Public Dining Room

Address: 2A The Esplanade, Mosman NSW 2088
Phone: (02) 9968 4880

Directions to Sakai Yusuke knife shop

After many requests for directions to Sakai Yusuke knife shop, I've decided to post some maps so all you knife enthusiasts can go find the blade of your dreams.

1) Make your way to Osaka, Japan.

2) Proceed to Nanba train station and catch a train towards the knife making town of Sakai.

3) Get off at Shichido station and walk to Ayanocho tram station (about a 15 min walk / approx 800m)

4) 50 meters down the Kishu Hwy, you will find the Sakai Yusuke knife shop on the eastern side of the  Kishu Hwy (it's the one with purple sign in the window).

Happy knife shopping!

Images are obviously courtesy of Google Maps.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Have I mentioned how much I like it when a product name perfectly matches its contents? It is either naively honest or simply lazy! Either way, there was a lot I couldn't go past when I saw a stack of these alongside their other flavoured cousins - strawberry and hazelnut.

So what does the name tell me? That it's dark chocolate tasting (tick!), contains crispy stuff (tick!), has caramel (tick!) and each bar contains 10% more than one I might have bought earlier had I ever seen these before (um okay)!

Certainly this "larger" bar was not gigantic as I could consume one at a sitting so the previous ones can't have been huge!

I'm still convinced that this box was intended for a retailer to place on a counter and sold individually. The number of bars and the way the box opens kind of lends itself to this really but given the cost was not prohibitive (under $5 for a box of 10 from memory) I was prepared to give them a go.

Admittedly, I'm a bit of chocolate snob (I do love real couverture when it's available) as I seldom consider the calories contained in a mass-produced product worthwhile ingesting! I love the concept of a chocolate bar but so often they are too sweet, contain nuts and are seldom dark enough for my palate.

I knew this one would disappoint as soon as I saw the ingredients list so I fully intended to eat one, maybe keep a couple for later then give the rest away. So why did I buy them?

Manufactured in the Philippines, the translators did well in decoding the contents for Australia's strict trade laws, but I had to laugh, or rather gasp, as I examined the packaging to find that the box contained a single serving of 10 bars!
Of course they meant 1 serving per package within the box of 10 but whether a genuine misunderstanding or a typo, I'll never know! But now I had committed so here's the side by side comparison!

Finally! A product which looks better in real life than it's image which is not always the case!
I did think on slicing it that the contents inside appeared to have shrivelled during storage. But it turned out that a simple bite restored the anticipated gooey-ness of the caramel. The crispy really was crispy and it was remarkably easy to eat.

And I did in fact enjoy eating them. They weren't as sweet as I imagined they would be and were very more-ish. Perhaps the feeling that I wasn't really eating chocolate somehow made me feel okay about eating it?! I had to eat another one a few days after the first (okay, I confess I was craving one!) to make sure it was what I really wanted (and believe me, there was a lot of better chocolate to choose from). The only way I can describe it to you is that it felt like I was eating a diet product - fake, vaguely satisfying in an "I could get used to you" kind of way but although it had a good mouth-feel about it, it didn't make me feel guilty.

There has to be something good about that right?!

Anyway, I have 8 bars left to figure out whether I really truly like them. I'll let you know when I find out!  :D