Gingerbread Christmas Tree

You know that Christmas is here when there is the unmistakeable aroma of gingerbread wafting through the kitchen. It’s become somewhat of a tradition of mine to make gingerbread for the holiday season, and since I’ve done gingerbread men and gingerbread houses before, I thought it was time for something new.

I received a Gingerbread Tree kit as a gift and decided to put it to use. It came with a base and two different sized wooden dowels for the interior stem of the tree, as well as a set of five graduated star cookie cutters and a circle cutter. Everything I needed to make my very own Gingerbread Christmas Tree.

Making the gingerbread was easy enough. I just used my usual recipe and cut out about 5 stars of each size using the five graduated star cutters. If you are going to thread it through a wooden dowel, don’t forget to also cut out a hole in the centre of the stars. I cut an extra small star for the top of the tree as a topper as well.

I decorated each star with royal icing before assembling the tree, which just involved placing the stars in order of size on top of each other, so that the base of the tree has the biggest stars going to the top of the tree with the smallest. If you don’t have a stand, you can also use the icing to glue the stars on top of each other, which will create the same effect. And that’s all it takes to make a Christmas tree of the edible variety! Half the fun is actually taking it apart and eating it :)

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Mino Sushi & Sake, Willoughby

Although there’s no shortage of Japanese restaurants around my area, I still love finding out about new ones. I’d been meaning to try out Mino in Mosman for a while, which offers a very affordable kaiseki 6-course dinner. When I found out that Mino had also opened a restaurant in Willoughby, I went to try it out ASAP.

Mino Sushi and Sake in Willoughby focuses more on a la carte dishes than the multi-course menu that is offered by its sister restaurant. This gave us more choice when ordering, almost too much choice, especially when there were several tapas-style offerings that were available per piece, like a grilled scallop with garlic soy butter ($4), or a yakitori chicken skewer ($3.50).

Large assorted sushi (12pc) – $26
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Peter Gilmore’s Festive Season Menu @ Quay

Christmas madness has officially begun! My Christmas tree is up, I’ve started my Christmas baking (more about that in another post) and I wish I could say that I’ve finished my Christmas shopping but I’ve only just begun that…

At least I’ve pretty much got the Christmas meal sorted since I got some great ideas from a recent masterclass I attended, where Peter Gilmore (of Quay Restaurant fame) shared his Christmas menu. We sat on the upper level of Quay, which is reserved for functions with a spectacular backdrop of Sydney Harbour and its landmarks, and also has an Electrolux kitchen installed at one end.

We sat around the kitchen and watched as Peter Gilmore cooked and plated up his three-course Christmas menu. The dishes were simple to prepare and most of the work can be done ahead of time to minimise the chances of you running around like a headless chicken after the guests have arrived!

Steamed freshwater marron with herb butter, young leaf and flower salad
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MCA Cafe, The Rocks

Sydney has been showing off it’s beautiful summer weather lately with blue skies and the sun shining down. It makes me want to come out of hibernation and head outside to enjoy the sun. Charm and I did exactly that when we headed out one weekend to check out the Little Black Jacket exhibition, and we grabbed a bite to eat beforehand at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Cafe.

Cafe interior

We arrived quite late in the day and many of the menu items had already sold out. There were still some tempting dishes though, like the carb-on-carb Oven-baked mac & cheese with bread and the Pea & fontina arancini (which we immediately regretted not ordering when we saw it come out in an egg carton!). In the end, we decided to get two dishes to share which was the perfect amount for a light lunch.

Crispy salt & pepper cuttlefish with garlic aioli – $16
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Honeymoon Dessert, Hong Kong

I don’t generally like Asian desserts – the beans and the soupy things don’t do it for me. But, I do have a soft spot for glutinous rice and mochi desserts so everytime I’m in Hong Kong, I head to Honeymoon Dessert for a sugar hit.

We arrive around 11pm on a Friday night and it is packed… so packed that there are people spilling out of the shopfront waiting for a table. The branch that we go to has limited seating (as with most of the other ones that I’ve been to) but the turnover is fast so it’s not too long before we have a table.

Papaya and white fungus soup

Mango glutinous dumplings
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