A trip to Auburn

New Age baklavas- Cherry Ripe, The Bounty and a Pistachio

New Age baklavas- Cherry Ripe, The Bounty and a Pistachio Ladies Finger

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I am not sure about you but the perfect day for me would be any that I spent with one of my sisters, which usually also means eating and today I am going to lunch and on a field trip to hunt down some cushions. My sister loves cushions in fact I think she may be somewhat of an expert on the subject of cushions.

We decided to meet in a shopping precinct we don’t usually go to. Out along Parramatta Road in Auburn where there is an abundance of exotic food and an incredible choice of shopping ideas. This is a surprisingly multicultural area on the road out to the heartland of the western suburbs of Sydney.  The traditionally Anglo-Celtic European and Turkish populations have slowly been replaced by a high percentage of immigrants from Chinese, Vietnamese and Lebanese backgrounds and now has fast growing Somali, Bosnian, Iraqi, Iranian, Afghan, Pakistani and Moroccan communities. It is an immense melting pot and home to Australia’s biggest Mosque.  No wonder there are sights and smells that are not familiar. In fact it is a bit like we have landed in another country… Amazing.


Chatting endlessly, as you do with your sister, we became a bit scattered (that’s a cushion joke) and couldn’t decide if it should be hunting for food or shopping first and in typical fashion we got lost.  After wrong turns, laughing and joking about never coming out alive we pulled off Parramatta Road for a breather into a large parking area and, there it was, the Super A Mart at 311 Parramatta Road, just past the Mega Mall we were originally heading for.  Super A Mart, doesn’t that sound like we took a wrong turn on Route 66? Curiosity draws us into the store where a huge banner boasts 50 months interest free, which I hope we won’t need to buy cushions. (I did say my sister loves cushions, right?)

There were cushions in there alright almost mountains of them, and large wall cupboards full of more. This is cushion central. We tried a few of them on a brilliant chair that we instantly fell in love with.  Have a look at the cushions we chose to go with the chair and guess which ones we just couldn’t leave behind. And, well, the chair was so good she wanted that too. We arrived in a smallish car so we couldn’t take the chair home but they are holding it till tomorrow when she’s going to return and make use of the trailer they lend to customers for free! You can order via the internet but then you won’t get to try out all the cushions will you?


The cushion wall

The cushion wall

Later we wandered down along South Parade opposite the railway station where we peeked into shops and restaurants with a distinct international flavour. This street is clean and new but in through an arcade and behind is an almost ancient shopping mall that looks to have been one of Sydney’s first. The only reminder we are in Sydney is the huge green Woolworths banner down one end in a corner.

We choose Taste 101, a Chinese restaurant at number 124 because I remember seeing it on Lorraines blog, and specifically for the wacky sounding dishes on the menu. It’s clean and very simple and we had a bit of a laugh at the unfortunately spelled “Stir fried Vage with Prawn” and ” Black bean and Beef with Monolithic Sauce” , before ordering two gigantic swimming pool sized soups for $7.50 each. These two dishes were probably not the best example of what’s on offer from the encyclopaedic menu, but we couldn’t shut up long enough to study such a long menu. Our loss really because the broad range of dishes is amazing. I loved the spicy hot choices that you don’t often see in Chinese restaurants. The front counter is piled with eat on the run snacks, including lots of  flat round pork and vegetable buns and in the counter beneath another selection of sweet and savoury plates ready to go .

Spicy Pork Soup

Spicy sweet roasted pork in a spicy broth with hot red bean paste, baby bok choy and fresh noodles and below white wheat noodles with crispy pork, cucumber and sesame/tahini flavoured chilli relish. Both $7.50

spicy pork and sesame

On the way back along South Parade these new age Baklava in flavours like Cherry Ripe and Bounty catch our eye in the window at the Patisserie called Gaziantep. Gaziantep is the name of a city in south eastern Turkey. It’s one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the planet. In this area of Turkey, they specialise in Baklava and a pastry chef can be trained for up to 5 years before ever getting their hands on the actual pastry.  The shop is pristine and out the back behind a glass panel there’s a small army working away making fresh new batches of delicious sweets. The variety of Baklava here is quite different to the Lebanese shops in my local area of Sydney. The more traditional Baklavas are crunchy and full of the best quality nuts and gorgeous syrup. I am spellbound by the emerald green Pistachio Ladies Finger.

baklava shop

Rolling the pastry up with crushed Pistachios

Rolling the pastry up with crushed Pistachios

And now, aren’t you itching to know what cushions we bought at Super A Mart? Ok, it was the Black embroidered one (2) and the beige one with tiny brown spots. (10). And, I hear you asking about that chair?

The new chair

It’s found a great new home and I hear the family loves it.

This cushion has att-IT-ude dude. I think it could do with its own facebook page.

This cushion has att-IT-ude dude. I think it could do with its own facebook page.


 Super A Mart stores are found in all states except NT and Tasmania.



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How to make a Spiderman Cake


Spider man is here

I don’t remember having any such cake as a child.

My Mother was never the frilly apron type. In fact her apron was not required much as her attitude to cooking was… why ? Admittedly there was little time for cooking with four small children a Pekinese dog and a cat called Tiger who was a needy orphan after having been dumped as a 4 week old baby in Toongabbie Creek.

Much praise was bestowed upon the convenience of ready-made family pies, just add water and beat Pavlova mixes, packet cheesecakes and teenagers learning to cook. And, learn to cook we did so that the relentless parade of crumbed sausages and peas would stop.

I don’t recall having a birthday cake because my birthday is on New Years Day and we always had a family barbeque on New Years Eve. My cake would be disguised as a Pavlova or Pineapple Cheesecake (packet made ) and doubled as dessert.  On the odd occasion, when I was a little older, I remember having a passionfruit sponge from Healeys bakery near the station, resplendent with mock cream and a dome of yellow passionfruit icing.

head shot of spider man

As I’ve grown older I often feel quite embarrassed if I am presented with a cake. It may be something to do with being brought up in a no fuss, oh that’s right it’s your birthday environment. On the other hand I live to make cakes for others. As I have previously stated most cost me money, besides the fact that I am supposed to be making them for extra income. I just want to make them perfect (as they would say on Masterchef ). Really.

This beauty was for a 3 year old and his 40 family members and tiny cake finger friends. His parents were very specific about the colours and so with my red and blue guidelines I set off for inspiration.  Thanks to several people out there in the world of pinterest I smashed together a couple of ideas and came up with this. I’ve put together a quick video so that you can see how I did it.

5.0 from 3 reviews
How to make a Spiderman Cake
I've used a moist chocolate cake that is a bit of a staple of my chocolate cakes when I decorate. I doubled the recipe 30cm(12in) if you want a smaller cake just make the recipe once. It will make 2- 4 layers of a 24cm (10in) cake or 4 layers of a 20cm (8in)
My Kitchen Stories:
Chocolate cake
Preheat oven 350F/175C. I used a 30 cm tin. I doubled the recipe. Grease 2x 24cm or 10 inch for up to 12 people. I doubled the recipe
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup dark cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 200gm/1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups plain flour (150 gm's each cup)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
Milk chocolate buttercream icing
  • 500gm (1.1lb) unsalted butter softened ( or ½ this for a 20/24cm cake)
  • 2 heaped cups sifted pure icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 200gm (7oz) melted milk chocolate (or dark if you like)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
What you will need for decorating
  • 1 kg (2.2lb) roll of white roll out icing ( plastic, fondant, sugar) - ½ this for smalller cakes
  • sky blue food colouring
  • 1 kg (2.2lb) red roll out icing (ready made)
  • 500gm (1.1lb) black icing ( ready made)
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 cups of pure icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 x cake base depending on the size of your cake.
  • You will need a baking tray lined with paper
  • 2 disposable piping bags ( available in the supermarket or cook shop)
  • A rolling pin
  • a palate knife or spatula
  • a sharp pairing knife
  • Extra icing sugar and a sifter ?
  1. Pour the water gradually over the cocoa in a bowl whisking till smooth. Set aside till cooled
  2. Put the butter into the bowl of a mixer and beat till light . Add the sugar and salt and continue beating till light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla
  4. Sift the flour and baking powder together . Add the cocoa mixture and the flour alternatively.
  5. Split the batter evenly and smooth down.
  6. Bake for 35-40 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes and then turn out.
The cakes can be made a day or two ahead. They need to be well chilled before assembling.
Trim the cakes till the rounds are the same thickness and size. You may have to lay them on the bench and trim till even. (if you have doubled the recipe you will have 4 layers)
Chocolate Buttercream
  1. Beat the softened butter till very light and fluffy. Add the sifted sugar and salt and beat till very light. Around 10 minutes. Beat in the melted cooled chocolate gradually. Add a squeeze of lemon ( 2 teaspoon, this will even out the flavour)
  2. Use a cake board or a cake stand. To rest your cake on. Start to add your buttercream adding an equal amount for each layer, approximately 1 x 1½ cups ( for a bigger cake).
  3. Continue like this till the layers are finished.
  4. Cover with a very thin coat of buttercream. Chill for 15 minutes and then cover with another thin layer if there is some left. chill if the weather is hot. You can cover a cake base with red icing if you like. Knead till soft . Sprinkle the bench lightly with icing sugar. Spread the board with a spoon of buttercream to help the icing stick. Roll out ½ of the red icing in a thin round and fold over the rolling pin onto the cake. Trim the edges. Add a little more buttercream to the iced board and gently put the cake into the middle of it.
  5. Knead the ¾ white plastic roll out icing ( the remainder is for the eyes) till soft and then start to add some blue colouring ( approx ½ teaspoon) Knead till smooth and evenly coloured. Sprinkle a clean bench with icing sugar ( no lumps) . Measure the size of the cake from side to side and across the top so you know how big to roll out the icing. Try not to get too much icing sugar on the icing as it will show on the finished cake. Roll the icing out fold over the cake smoothing down with an icing smoother or clean teatowel
  6. Next make the spider man head.
  7. Please watch my video for visual instructions. @My Kitchen Stories/ Tania Cusack on utube
  8. You will need to make the head, the buildings and the eyes.
  9. The recipe for royal icing is ½ an egg white , ¼ teaspoon lemon juice and approximately 1 cup of pure sifted icing sugar added gradually and mixed till smooth. It needs to be the consistency of toothpaste . if too thin add more to the mixxture. This can be used as glue to stick decorations onto the cake and as the tiny white windows on the cut out buildings.



Spiderman cake.

They ordered these cupcakes too just in case there wasn’t enough cake.

and cupcakessigniture


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