RECIPE OF THE MONTH: Mandarin Oriental’s Vanilla chiffon

Vanilla Chiffon Cake 2

This month’s recipe comes from the chefs at Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok. It has a great name Vanilla chiffon cake with coconut mousse, mango sorbet and toasted hazelnuts – and serves six people


For the Vanilla chiffon cake

285 gr                                   Sifted cake flour

300 gr                                  White sugar

15 gr                                       Baking powder

6 gr                                         Salt

120 ml                                   Vegetable oil

7 pieces                                 Egg yolks

180 ml                                   Cold water

2 pieces                                 Bourbon vanilla beans

5 ml                                        Lemon juice

7 ea                                         Egg whites

2 g                                          Cream of tartar

For the Coconut foam

400 gr                                    Coconut milk

100 gr                                    Sugar

3     gr                                     Xantana

For the Hazelnut powder

150 gr                                   Dark roasted hazelnut

For the Mango sorbet

400 gr                                    Peeled mango meat

100 gr                                    Sugar

20   gr                                     Lemon juice

For the Garnish

4 ea                                         Mint leaves

5 ea                                         Edible flowers

20 gr                                       Toasted coconut powder

 Mandarfin Oriental


For the Vanilla chiffon cake

Place flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. Mix well and add oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla seed and lemon juice and continue to mix. Beat cream and egg white until stiff and set aside.

Beat egg yolk until smooth and light and pour gradually over egg whites, folding in with rubber spatula.

Pour batter mix in rectangular pan.

Bake for 45 minutes at 175 degrees Celsius until done.

For the Coconut espuma foam

Bring coconut milk and sugar to a boil.

Take the blender and blend in the xantana.

Cool down completely.

Pure the mix into the bottle and close tight. Load bottle with one CO2 bomb. shake and set aside in refrigerator.

For the Hazelnut powder

Toast the hazelnut in a 180 c decree oven and set aside.

For Mango sorbet

Place fresh mango in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Add lemon juice and continue to blend

Remove from the blender put in a pot on medium heat and warm up the mixture.

When boiling add the sugar and continue to simmer for one more minute.

Set aside and cool.

When the Mango mixtures is cold put in to an ice cream machine and let it turn until frozen.

To assemble

Cut the vanilla chiffon in to rectangular cubes pieces and set aside.

Place chiffon cake on the side of deep bowl.

Place coconut espuma in the bowl with the espuma in and circular motion until the rim of the plate.

Place the toasted hazelnut power and make a liner going across the plate and over the plate rim.

Decorate on the line with the meringue stubs, edible flower, green mint leaves and small dices of the vanilla chiffon cake.

Make a nice quenelle of mango sorbet and place on top of the espuma.

Recipe: No Bake Cookies

Here is a recipe for a chocolate staple at our house.  We have a bit of a sweet tooth when it comes to chocolate.  Rather than spending a few dollars on chocolate snacks every time we go to the store, we started making No Bake Cookies.  Some people may call them Peanut Butter Delights or Preacher Cookies, but I have always called them No Bake Cookies, and I was proven right when Ann brought a pack home from the store a few years ago only to her dismay to realize they said No Bake Cookies right on the label.

Even if you can not bake (I am learning), or if you dont have much time, you can whip up of batch of these in under 15 minutes.  As long as you follow this simple recipe, they will come out perfect every time.

Ingredients:2 cups sugar1/2 cup milk1/2 cup butter4 tbsp cocoa1/2 cup peanut butter3 cups oats (I use whole grain oats rather than quick oats)1 tsp vanilla extract

Add sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa to pot and bring to a boil.  Allowing it to boil for 60 seconds while stirring.  Remove from heat.  Let sit for one minute.  Add peanut butter, vanilla extract, and oats.  Stir until all oats are completely covered in chocolaty goodness.  Plop onto wax paper.  I use a heaping tablespoon, but you can make them bigger or smaller based on how big you want you cookies to be.  I have found that smaller cookies do last a little longer :).  Allow to cool a few hours.  Enjoy.

The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for them to cool.  This can be made easier by scrapping the sides of the pot after you have portioned the cookies.  The mixture will begin to harden along the sides of the pot and makes a great little taste to tide you over until the cookies have set up.

Filed under: Desserts, Kitchen Tagged: chocolate, Desserts, Kitchen, no bake cookies, peanut butter, preacher cookies, recipe, whole grain oatmeal

Recipe: Watercress Dumpling

I love watercress. Whenever I see them at the market, I buy them. They have a refined fresh grassy taste thats reminiscent of spring not as fibery as nettles nor as dull as spinach.


There are many ways of cooking watercress. They can simply be sautéed or throw into salads. They are fine additions to a traditional Chinese pork bone soup to balance out the grease. But my favorite use of this ingredient is to make dumplings.


Now coming from the north, we grew up making dumplings every week that we do not really need a recipe. Most of the time, we throw in the ingredients that we believe works well with each other in hopes that together they enhance the flavor. So Ive played with this recipe several times and finally settled on the version that I love, both the flavor and the texture.

Watercress Dumpling

Click here for instructions on how to prepare the dough (frozen packaged ones are available at most Asian markets), wrap the dumplings, cook them and suggestion for my favorite dipping sauce.

For the Filling:

1.5 lb watercress1/2 lb ground pork1 teaspoon finely minced ginger1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion1 egg1 teaspoons sesame oil1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions (for the filling):

Blanch the watercress in boiling water for two minutes.When cooled, squeeze out as much water as possible (reserve the liquid) and finely chop the watercress in small even pieces.Heat the olive oil until it just starts to smoke.Turn off the heat and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.Add ground pork and stir to combine with oilAdd minced ginger, green onion and saltUse the hand to massage the meat to ensure even distribution.Add the liquid reserved in step 2, if the pork is lean and hard to combine (optional).Add watercress, egg and sesame oil.Mix well.


There you have it. Simple and delicious.

Note: Watercress is low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is a good source of Protein, Folate, Pantothenic Acid and Copper, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Manganese.

Captain Black Cosplay Recipe – Part 1# ‘The Jacket’

Captain Black Cosplay

Im Oz, and welcome to the Ozplay Blog. Its awesome to see you and if I may be so bold, you’re looking pretty damn hot today.

This is the first installment of the CaptainBlack Cosplay Recipe, covering the creation of the jacket for the costume.Captain Black Jacket

In case you dont know, Captain Black is the villain on the Gerry Anderson series, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons . Initially human, and Agent of Spectrum, Captain Black is killed during a mission to Mars. The Mysterons have the ability to control matter, and reconstitute an exact likeness of Captain Black to become their operative on Earth. Each Spectrum Agent is coloured coded (e.g. Captain Blue, Colonel White) and their uniform matches the colour. 

Captain Black

I chose to Cosplay Captain Black for several reasons;

Captain Scarlet is my absolute favourite Gerry Anderson series. Its packed with action, very dark and the costume set design is brilliant.

The Spectrum uniform is iconic, I always wanted one as a kid, and now I have one does that mean I win life? Hopefully.

The key reason I chose Captain Black over say, Captain Scarlet, is that black material is more forgiving of mistakes, and this was my first fully Oz-made Cosplay costume so it was 90% mistakes.

But each mistake teaches you something, so in theory I’m a costuming genius now! (Not really).

Lets begin with the jacket.


Black Nylon / Cotton blend materialBlack ThreadLong silver zip with white fabric backingShort silver zip with black fabric backing2 x Key ring rings2 x A3 Black plasticWhite leather belt with silver buckleFrosted sticky backed transparent paperPerspex tubing4 x Rounded Bottle Tops2 x White LEDsLength of wiring2 x AA Battery packs and batteriesSmall length of stuffing (Teddy Bears insides)



One small, but feisty, sewing machineA hand held drillA soldering ironUsual costume making stuff; scissors, pattern paper, gaffa tape (which is like 75% of all costumes).



The Spectrum jacket is basically a waistcoat, but with bigger, rounded shoulders. It has a single zip, off centred and crossing the right nipple (note; I know zero proper costume terms). It has one zip pocket on the wearers right below the rib cage. On the each shoulder is a wicked cool epaulette that is a round, slightly frosted tube with brass rounded ends. They light up when a Spectrum agent receives a message. At the bottom of the jacket is a white belt, and the belt loops are actually on the jacket itself not the trousers.

Jacket Pattern

I began by drawing the pattern freehand. I had my measurements and used them to roughly work out the dimensions, and then I freewheeled it using the TV show images as a guide. I choose to design the jacket as one large single piece, like a bib, so that I could finish everything more easily before finally sewing up the sides. I made a funky test version with orange material left over from a Doctor Who Cosplay. This taught me a lot, particularly about factoring in a decent seam allowance!


Taking my lessons from the test version, I cut the final version from the black material and hemmed it like a mofo. I chose a Nylon / Cotton blended material because some research into military uniforms indicated they use it, so it would give the jacket a military look, and that felt right.  


I made the collar separately by cutting a large rectangle of black material and rolling it around some teddy bear stuffing. I discovered you need a much thicker piece of stuffing to really bulk out the collar. Once I rolled it I sewed it closed leaving an excess strip so it could be sewn onto the jacket. I cut the excess strip in diagonal lines to make it easier to pin to the jacket and take a neater shape. I then machined it on. I backed a small rectangle of black material with Velcro and attached some to each end of the collar. This piece can then be attached to hide the join.


After studying the TV show I noticed that their collars weren’t joined at all, but actually crossed over. In fact, the whole front of the jacket appears to actually cross over and perhaps Velcro shut, with the zip being for looks only. This might have been easier for me to accomplish, but I’m glad I went for the proper, fully functioning zip. The thing to remember is that the outfit had been designed for puppets not humans, and therefore didn’t have to function and move in the same way.


I think the toughest challenge on the tailoring side was getting those darn shoulder pads to stay rigid and pointy. I initially tried using interfacing. It’s an iron or sew-on backing material that helps material hold a shape. I can see how it would by great on some outfits, but not this one. The weight of the epaulettes was just too much for it to handle and resulted in saggy shoulders. My next plan worked to a good degree. I cut flexible plastic shapes to act as shoulder pads and then fabric glued them in. The glue was pretty rubbish, so I had to follow it up with gaff. This brought it to an acceptable level and saw me through Andercon. However, I plan to redo them as follows: I will cut shoulder pads from the same material as the jacket, sew them inside and leave on edge open thereby creating a ‘pocket’ into which I can slide the plastic inserts. This will hopefully provide the same support whilst looking that bit more professional and neat. I have mild OCD so you can imagine how happy that will make me after hours and hours spent cutting and fiddling with the gaffa tape so people couldn’t see it.   



I thought these special guys deserved their own section.


Start by cutting your Perspex tube to the required length. I got my measurements by taking the length of the shoulder section and shortening that so that the epaulette sits in the centre with some free space around either side. On reflection I would have gone for a slightly shorter and smaller tube, but the chunky look of the current design is pretty cool.  

I soldered the LED to wires (note; do not solder the wires to the battery pack yet) and taped the LED to a two pronged metal fastener (for holding punched paper together). Again with hindsight I should have used white or clear tape instead of black gaff, because you can see it, even through the frosting. Drill two holes, using the width of the fastener, in the bottom. Then feed the LED / fastener combo into the tube. Using the fastener base had two benefits; it prevented the LED from swinging loose inside the tube and the metal legs of the fastener could be put through the material of the jacket and secured, preventing the whole epaulette from moving or falling off. You can feed the wiring through the same hole.


Wrap the Perspex in frosted sticky backed paper to give it its tinted look. For the brass ends I used bottle caps (from cheap nail polish remover). An important note, if you go into a shop with your own Perspex tube and start taking lids off of things to see if they fit over the end, you will be followed by security, so buy something even if you don’t get what you’re looking for! They were wide enough to slide over the Perspex, but had an inner circle that allowed it to wedge itself on the end of the tube, I secured this further with super glue. Before attaching I painted them brass. That brass paint was pretty strong, so I then spent a few pleasant hours thinking I was the paint. When you go to your convention or event, bring the paint with you, not just for its medicinal benefits, but because the paint is easily scratched, and being out there on the shoulder pads they are an easy target for scrapes – you’ll doubtless have to touch it up. If you don’t, you aren’t having enough fun.

flashythingsOnce you have them made, fit them in place, the reason you don’t solder the battery pack on yet is to allow you to attach them and tape down the wires in a concealed way inside the jacket. Then once you’re happy with the placement, attach the battery pack. I popped a clip on the pack so it clipped to my belt – although to activate the lights it does look like I’m reaching into my bottom. But this is a good cover for those times I am reaching into my bottom.


I think that covers the bulk of making the jacket. I realise that reading these instructions might not make total sense so if there is anything I can do to help or advise you in making your costume you just holla at me.

Join me next time for the insanity that was making the hat, and how it actually made me bleed!

And remember, if it wasn’t meant to be fun they’d call it Coswork.

Catch you on the flipside,


Tweeter me @OzplayOnline

Book of Faces

A recipe for successful small or confined spaces.

Countless people tell me they dont have green thumbs, and have convinced themselves that theyll kill any plant they come into contact with, and I on the other hand am so lucky to blessed with such a wonderful green thumb. Rubbish! You cannot kill plants, if you follow some simple directions on their little name tag. You will not kill plants. Relax! Besides, I am a great neglecter of plants. Remember me, the lazy gardener? Its true. Sometimes I forget to water plants, rarely fertilize and never fuss, but the plants battle on despite my cruelty. Yours will too.

Small areas, such as lanais or enclosed patios, with restricted spaces are not difficult to design, they just require a little extra imagination. We find the challenge a lot of fun as we tap into our creative spirits. Try to think of one of these small spaces you have as an advantage. Dont be disillusioned, but be happy, because some small spaces make the most excellent gardens.


Regardless of the size of the area you have, be sure to incorporate the same elements you would for a larger, rambling place of acreage. Include the element of water. It is essential. Dont argue. Just do it. Even though you may have limited space to work with, there are plenty of small water features of endless styles and design to suit the most miniscule of spaces, some are so miniature, theyll fit on top of a coffee table. A mini waterfall, stream and pond can be designed to look very natural in even small spaces, but be sure to use all natural materials. The benefits of water are far too numerous to list. Having one will reward you many times over. Enhanced prosperity, love, holistic benefits, and the purifying sound alone are just the tip of the ice berg in terms of what lies in store. Dont under estimate them. Aside from water, the benefits of live plants on your lanai or patio are immeasurable. Please dont be tempted to use fake silk plants, no matter how convincing they look, or no matter how smooth the salesman at the silk plant factory was. Silk plants offer very little, and actually collect stagnant energy, a negative kind of energy you dont want to be around. Besides real plants purify the air, add life and energize any space. They grow and evolve. They produce blooms. They have an earthy, pleasant aroma and will be sure to provide more joy than the fake variety.


One of the best plants to start with, for those of you who are still convinced that youll kill plants, is a Yucca plant. It is virtually indestructible. Its plant label may suggest plenty of water and high light. It will actually do well in low light and without much water at all. Sometimes Ive travelled for months at a time leaving house plants un-cared for. The Yucca always survives. It is a plant which does very well if neglected. Plant one of these into a large, decorative pot and plant the outside edges with ivy, coleus, or some trailing flowering plants.

Things appear to be magnified in confined spaces such as these. We are closer to the textures, colors and fragrances. Sounds like water tumbling over rocks and pebbles seem more audible. The availability of walls is something less common in larger spaces, so use these walls for a vertical expression of art. Grow flowers and vines up a trellis to break up the monotony of the masonry, or use the space for a mural of your favorite scene, or to showcase a ceramic mural mounted on a framed board, which will make it easier to bring with you if you decide to move.


Be wise about the choice of furniture in restricted spaces and find something which is multi functional, space saving and practically aesthetic. I love the rotating sun lounger, shown here, for its versatility and durability, and minimalist design. It rotates, allowing one to be in the sun all day, or shade if one so desires, as it comes with an optional shade. One rotates it with the simplest of ease, ending the need to constantly have to get off and realign it to the suns position. Although it is the same length as a traditional sun lounger, it takes up three times less space than three chaise lounges would, yet it can comfortably accommodate three people. It is made from sustainable teak and its design shape is one of Nature. Rectilinear, shapes dont exist in Nature, whereas the round shape of this bed is Feng Shui inspired for the ultimate in positive energy, flexibility and the most simple of fashion statements, for the person who wants to relax outside in the shade, or the sun worshiper alike.

Yaki Soba Recipe – Japanese Fried Noodles

My new measurement of a truly yummy recipe is one that is so good that I forget to take a photo of it until Ive scoffed heaps of it and totally trashed the presentation! Dammit. You will just have to trust me that this is a delicious dish and also did look very nice initially with sesame seeds on top.  Ive tried a few Japanese fried noodle recipes recently but this is the first one that has really hit the spot, that I would be happy to pay for. Yaki Soba is so quick and versatile as you can use any meat, veggies or noodles that you have on hand. The key to this noodle dish is the slurpable sauce, which I found on a BBC food site you just put the sauce on to simmer while you chop the veggies and: ta da! Dinner!

Serves 2

50ml teriyaki sauce

2 tablespoons soy bean paste

1/2 tablespoon grated ginger

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 small carrot, peeled and julienned

1 small handful of beansprouts

4 spring onions, green part only, chopped into 4cm lengths

125gm pork fillet, very thinly sliced

250gm fresh ramen noodles, boiled for 3 minutes and drained

sesame oil, for drizzling

sesame seeds, for garnish

Mix together the teriyaki sauce, soy bean paste and ginger in a small saucepan. Heat til just boiling and then lower heat; simmer for 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables, meat and noodles.

Heat oil in wok over high heat. Add the onion and stir fry til softened and starting to brown; add the carrots, bean sprouts and spring onions and stir fry for a minute or until spring onion is starting to wilt. Scrape the veggies off to one side in the wok so you can add the pork to the bottom of the wok; pile the veggies back on top of the pork and leave to sit for 30 seconds.

Start stir frying vigorously until pork is no longer showing pink; add the drained noodles and toss. Add the sauce mixture and toss until heated through. Remove from the heat, drizzle with sesame oil and toss again; sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.