Monday, December 26, 2005

Sweetcorn & Ricotta hotcakes with smoked salmon & basil dressing

To use up some more of my smoked salmon I cooked up a treat for Michael & I on Christmas morning, we were not expecting the whole family over until dinner time so wanted something nice to start the day.

After doing the Allan Campion cooking class at Vic Market & him making it look so easy I thought I would try this recipe out for myself. Again it was really easy & have heaps of leftover hotcakes to have for brekky over the next few days. Think the corn & smoked salmon teamed with the basil is a great combination too.

The recipe is from 2006 Seasonal Prodcue Diary, here it is

Sweetcorn and ricotta hotcakes with smoked salmon and basil dressing

1 cup basil leaves
1 garlic clove, peeled & sliced
120-160 ml (1/2 - 2/3 cup) olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 medium eggs
250g ricotta
60 ml (1/4 cup) milk
125g (1/2 cup) natural yoghurt
150g (1 cup) self raising flour
1/2 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn salt
2 corn cobs
olive oil for cooking
rocket to serve
12 slices smoked salmon

Place basil & garlic in food processor & blend until chopped. Slowly add the olive oil until the basil is pureed & forms a thickish sauce. Season with salt & pepper & set aside.

Beat eggs & ricotta. Add milk and yoghurt & beat until smooth. Sift flour with baking powder and salt & add to ricotta base, stir until combined.

Remove husks and silky tassells from corn. Run a sharp knife down each cob to remove the kernels. Stir kernels through pancake mixture.

Heat a heavy based pan over medium heat. Add a splash of oil to hot pan, then a few ladlefuls of ricotta mixture. Mixture should spread to abt 6 cm wide. Cook until bubbles form on top & base is golden brown. Turn over & cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Keep warm until all hotcakes are cooked.

Place one hotcake on each plate, add a handful of rocket, place another cake on top. Add more rocket & arrange 2 slices of salmon on top. Repeat with remaining hotcakes. Drizzle basil oil around hotcakes & serve immediatley

PS - As you can see from the photo I didnt do the fancy arrangement just for the 2 of us!

Tiramisu Cake Sat 24th Dec 05

After dinner at Tolarnos we came home for coffee, cake & traditional early present opening!

I made a tiramisu cake from Allan Campion & Michele Curtis' 'Food with Friends', it was so easy to put together & a big hit with all. Here's the recipe

Tiramisu Cake

200g dark chocolate chopped into chunks (or use the melts like I did)
3 medium eggs, seperated
60 ml (1/4 cup) marsala
250 g mascarpone
150 g Italian sponge fingers
100 ml strong coffee
cocoa powder
cream to serve

22cm springform cake tin

Put chocolate in a heatproof bowl & set over saucepan of simmering water until melted. Beat egg yolks with marsala until pale & creamy. Add mascarpone to beaten yolks & beat until smooth. Add melted chocolate to mix & stir until well combined. Whip egg whites until stiff, fold into the mix.

Line springform tin with greaseproof paper. Lay half the spnge fingers in the bottom of the cake tin & drizzle with half the coffee. Pour the mascarpone mix into cake tin. Top with remaining biscuits & drizzle with remaining coffe. Cover with glad wrap & refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight until set.

To serve, remove cake carefully, dust with cocoa powder & serve with cream

Tolarno's Mums Bday 24 Dec 05

Christmas Eve is my mums birthday so we always take her out somewhere nice for dinner. Being a big fan of Heweys she requested Tolarnos this year.

The food here is very different to most menus in that it is very old fashioned. To start with we all had the polenta chips with mayonaise & crumbed mushrooms with tartare sauce, strange combination but it worked well, very nice to start with though lots of crumbed & fried food which not really used to.

Next I had the shephards pie pictured, not normally what I would try but thought that I should try & house specialty & steer away from my usual type of choice. It was delicious, the meat has a lovely tomatoey flavour & the mash was very creamy with loads of melted cheese on top, very heavy & def could not eat this all the time, & of course I did not finish it at all. It came with a side of buttered cabbage which sadly was hardly touched.

We noticed Huey cooking in the kitchen which of course thrilled my mum & the waitress who was lovely said it would not be a problem to go up to the kitchen window & say hello. So I dragged my very excited mum up there & intoduced her letting him know it was her bday too. He said a quick hello, didnt listen to what my mum was trying to say & then turned his back, my mum was very disappointed in him, expecting that as on his cooking shows when he tell everyone to come down to his restaurant that he would be more than happy to chat to a devoted fan for a minute or so. My mum has now decided she wont be watching him anymore! Sad as the food & staff were great!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Smoked Salmon - Wednesday 21st Dec 05

This Xmas I was lucky enough to be given a kilo of smoked salmon from one of my clients so will be getting creative & trying out lots of new recipes over the next couple of weeks, luckily I'm doing lots of entertaining so plenty of opportunity!

Wednesday night my good friend Jane moved into one of the houses in my block so to celebrate I made up these little treats. Pumpernickel bread with a dollop of creme fraiche, a sprig of dill & some salmon on top, yum!

Glazed Salmon with warm broccolini Tuesday 20th Dec 05

Another busy day was had & lots to do at home so Michael cooked me this simple but yummy Salmon dish from Bills Food by Bill Granger, heres the recipe

Glazed Salmon with warm broccolini

80 ml (1/3 cup) Mirin
80 ml (1/3 cup) Soy Sauce
2 tblspns grated ginger
2 tblspins red miso
2 tspns sugar
2 tspns lemon juice
4 Salmon Fillets - skin on
1 bunch broccolini


125ml (1/2 cup) soy sauce
125ml (1/2 cup) mirin
2 tspns sugar

To serve

1 tspn black sesame seeds
steamed rice

Stir the mirin, soy, ginger, miso, sugar & lemon juice in a bowl, add the salmon & marinate in fridge for at least 15 minutes & up to 1 hour

To make the dressing, bring the ingredients to the boil in a small saucepan, then reduce heat & simmer for 10 minutes or until syrupy or like thin caramel. (At this point in the recipe we realised we had now run out of mirin & had to leave it out - still tasted fine though)

Heat the grill, remove salmon from marinade & place skin side down in a lightly oiled non stick frying pan, cook until fish is still pink in the center & is nicely colored

While Salmon is cooking, steam or blanch the broccolini for 2 minutes or until tender but still bright green & crisp. Sprinkle the salmon with sesame seeds & drizzle with dressing, serve with broccolini & rice. Serves 4

Kent Hotel - Nances Victory Lunch Sun 18th Dec 05

Well its been a busy pre xmas week & only now am I getting the chance to put on some of my posts.

Last Sunday The Nances (our mixed netball team) got together for our xmas victory lunch at The Kent Hotel in Rathdowne street, Carlton. Technically we came adraw with Gertrude & we didnt even play the match due to dates being screwed up from a previous weeks flooding incident at the center. Anyway no one could lock in another date so we called it a draw - I'm happy with that, there is so much on at the moment, no time for anything sensible or healthy like netball.

Anyway we booked a table at The Kent. I was running a tad late as had a monster night the night before, hitting just abt every bar in Fitzroy/Collingwood & then some. Needless to say I wasnt up for a drink at lunch which is very unusual for me, was very hungry though & looking fwd to a nice lunch. To start with we had some pizzas to share which were very nice though the waiter was very pushy about us ordering them & wasnt very happy that we only wanted 2. Next I had the steak you can see pictured, it was very delicious & a huge serving which Lofty siiting next to me was happy abt as he got lots of my leftovers. When the food was over we had to practically beg to put in coffee orders & dessert menus were never offered. So all in all even though the food was great the service really sucked which is a real shame

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Pork Dumplings in Chicken Broth Thursday 15th Dec 05

Well tonight I thought I would try something different & make some dumplings. I used a recipe from a table magazine that promised prep time to be only 20 minutes. This was my first attempt though I am sure that for those of you who have ever made wontons of any kind before you will know this is a lie. Also the recipe called for 30 square wonton wrappers, I only used about 2/3rds of the ingredients yet made about 45 wontons so some adjustments may be neccessary. As you can see from the picture I had to move from wonton wrappers to gyoza wrappers when I ran out! I also used noral mushies as couldnt get my hands on any shitake. Having said all that the recipe was very easy to follow even though time consuming & the end result was delicious. As I was only cooking for 2 I also froze the leftovers for another day or 2 (after steaming) which will be nice for a low fuss dinner some night.

Here is the recipe as it was printed to serve 6

Pork Dumplings in Chicken Broth

400g lean pork mince
2 green onions finely chopped
80g drained water chestnuts, finely chopped
2cm piece fresh giner, finely grated
2 garlic cloves, , crushed
3 tspn soy sauce
2 tspn sweet sherry
1 tspn sesame oil
30 squar wonton wrappers
1.25 ltr (5 cups) chicken stock
1/4 chinese cabbage (wong bok), finely shredded
100g shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

Place pork, onions, water chestnuts, ginger, garlic, soy, sherry & sesame oil in a bowl & mix together well

Line a tray with non stick baking paper. Spoon 1 tspn of mixture into the center of a wrapper, brush edges with water & bring edges together so corners meet, now pinch in the edges. Place on preapred tray until done with all the mixture. Cover with a damp tea towell & place in fridge until ready to use.

Place 1Ltr stock & 1 cup water in a large wok on high & bring to the boil. Line 2 bamboo steamers with non stick baking paper & arrange wontons in single layer. Stack baskets, cover with lid & place over stock in wok. Reduce heat to medium & steam for 5 minutes.

Carefully lift baskets out, add cabbage & mushrooms to stock, swap baskets so top is now on bottom, cover with lid & return to wok. Steam for 5-7 minutes or until wontons cooked.

Remove baskets, add remaining stock & 1 cup water to wok, bring to boil. Divide wontons between bowls & ladle over broth & vegetables

Yummy & will definietly be trying out some variations!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Downstairs at The Stokehouse Sunday 11th Dec 05

Saturday was my work Xmas party & I have to admit I think I overdid it on the champas a bit so Sunday was a very slow day, slept in very late & then woke up ravenous.

It was a very hot 29 degrees or so in Melbourne so we headed to the beach for a bite to eat & a walk on the beach. Stomach came first so we had a quick bite at The Stokehouse. Had to wait abt 20 minutes or so for a table which wasnt too bad though I would say the place is slightly overrated downstairs. I had the Marinara (above), which was quite nice, full of heaps of seafood, mussels, pipis, fish, prawns & calamari rings all covered in a rich tomato sauce, all in all very nice. Michael had the hamburger which he said wasnt all that flash. Not too worry the stomach was now satisfied & we went for a lazy walk along the waters edge before heading home for lots of naps & tv time

Think I have just recovered & caught up on my sleep now!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Moroccan Lamb Cutlets Monday 5th Dec 05

Tonight I cooked up these tasty lamb cutlets from a recent Delicious Magazine - very very good

Moroccan Lamb Cutlets with Couscous salad & Tahini Dressing

2 x French Trimmed Racks of Lamb (6 cutlets each)
1/2 cup (140g) Greek style Yoghurt
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tspn ground cumin
1 tspn ground coriander
1 tspn sweet paprika
1/2 bunch coriander leaves, chopped
Zest & juice of 1 lemon


1 3/4 cups (350g) couscous
2 tspn ground tumeric
1 small red onion
1 lebanese cucumber roughly chopped
1 ripe vine ripened tomato roughly chopped
1/2 bunch coriander roughly chopped
1/2 mint, leaves chopped
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup toasted pine=nuts
1 tsp ground cinamon
1/3 cup olive oil
Zest & juice of 1 lemon

Tahini Dressing

1 cup Greek style yoghut
1/4 cup tahini paste
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Zest & juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsn honey (Oops just realised I forgot this!)

Combine lamb with remaining ingredients, rub into lamb, cover & marinate in fridge overnight.

Salad - Place couscous in a large bowl & pour over 2 cups of boiling water, cover & set aside for 5-10 minutes, then fluff with a fork, add remaining ingredients & season with salt & pepper

Whisk all dressing ingredients together, season to taste

Grill the lamb racks & serve with salad & dressing

Grilled Prawns Sunday 4th Dec 05

Last night I cooked up some prawns from my 'Slice of Port Douglas' Cookbook, it is full of yummy recipes form local restaurants, This one was quite easy to make & quite yummy though if I did it again I would probably only serve as an entree

Grilled Prawn Skewers with lemon myrtle and mango dressing and Jasmine Rice Pilaf - From Ilios bar & restaurant

16 leader prawns or large tiger prawns
4 leaves of fresh lemon myrtle of kafir lime leaves julienned
1 lemon, zested & juiced
1 tsp cracked black pepper
100mls vegetable oil


4 mango cheeks, fresh or frozen (prefer just under ripe)
1 tbspn lemon myrtle oil
2 tbspns virgin olive oil
1 tbspn lemon juice (omit if mango not ripe)

Jasmine Rice Pilaf

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 tbspn oil
1 cup jasmine rice
2 cups water of good quality fish stock
salt & pepper to taste

Peel prawns, leaving heads & tails intact then thread onto skewers (I cheated & used peeled prawns & didnt skewer). Combine lemon myrtle, lemon zest & juice, pepper & oil & pour over prawns. Refrigerate & marinate for at least 2 hours.

To make the dressing place all ingredients into food processor & pulse until mixture has a thick consistency

To make the pilaf, place onion, garlic & oil in a baking tray & cook over medium heat until onion soft. Add rice & continue to stir allowing the heat to evenly disperse. Add the water or stock then bring to the boil. Cover with foil & place in preheated oven at 200c for 20 minutes or until cooked. Remove foil & season with salt & pepper, running a fork through

Chargrill prawns on hot grill for approx 1 minute each side until cooked

Pretty easy stuff!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Cookie Wednesday 30th Nov05

The other night I grabbed a quick bite to eat at Cookie with Rach before heading off to the movies to see Pride & Prejudice - great romantic movie by the way

The cookie business card advertises itself as being a Beer hall - Eating House - Disco & it covers all well. Once you find the entrance, up a staircase off Swanston street, to the left side is a restaurant serving modern Thai food & to the right is the beer hall. We ate in the more casual beer hall, same food, only diff being you have to order at the bar. I have been a few times & my fave is the Lamb & eggplant curry, the lamb is so tender it falls apart & it has a wonderful sweet flavour, we shared this with some steamed rice & it was more than enough for 2. Great place to eat for lunch or dinner but be warned come Friday/Saturday night (& maybe later other nights for all I know) its very packed & not much room for food, great place for Friday night drinks though!

252 Swanston Street
03 9663 7660


Random Travel Notes 3 - Venice - April 2003

This is a photo of a pasta shop front in Venice. I think the colors & shapes are amazing, mexican hats, blue pasta, even some with smiling faces! It was a shame I couldn’t buy any to take home as I was backpacking at the time!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Home Cooking (Sort of) Sunday 27th Nov 05

Last night I was a bit stuffed from the weekends activities so I got my hubbie to cook dinner following a very simple Jamie Oliver (The Naked Chef book) recipe & it was yum! I have to stress here that Michael is not normally a cook though does help me out on the odd occasion, here is the simple recipe

We halved the recipe which is for 4 & cheated a bit in that I bought some delicious home made garlic & parsley pappardelle from the Vic Market

Pappardelle with Mushrooms

250g Mushies (the recipe calls for wild - we used plain old ordinary button)
3 tbl Olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1-2 small dried red chillies (we used fresh)
salt & freshly ground black pepper
juice of half a lemon
455g pappardelle (There is a recipe in the book if you want to do it from scratch)
small handful grated parmesan cheese
handful fresh parsley
55g unsalted butter

Clean mushrooms & slice or tear. Put the olive oil in very hot frying pan & add the mushies. Let them fry fast, tossing once or twice, then add the garlic & chilli with a pinch of salt. Continue to fry fast for 4-5 minutes tossing regulary. Then turn the heat off & squeeze in the lemon juice. Toss & season to taste.
Meantime cook the pasta in boiling salted water (abt 4 minutes for fresh). Add to the mushrooms with the parmesan, parsley & butter. Toss gently & serve with extra parsley & parmesan

How easy it that & believe me sounds simple but really has a lot of flavour!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Balcony Bar & Restaurant Saturday 19th Nov 2005

After spending our last morning at the beach we dropped into the Balcony for lunch before heading off. Its beautiful up there & fun to watch all the people down on the street below

I had a Tiger prawn & green pea rissotto with rocket & oregano. The serving was huge & contained a seemingly endless supply of prawns which is pretty rare these days. It was quite nice but nothing to rave about.

Even though the food is not outstanding think this is worth a visit for the lovely views & atmosphere anyway

WhyNot @ Byron Friday November 18th 2005

For our last night in town we headed out to Why Not where we decided to sit out on the back on one of the lounges & do tapas & cocktails. The lounge area is very asian inspired with large wooden couches covered in bright cushions with some really interesting art work on the walls by Evan Malcolm, we kicked our shoes off, lounged back & ordered up our tapas & cocktails.

I love the idea of eating like this, lots of teeny little dishes allowing you to taste so much more on a single night & still be able to walk out afterwards. We started with some big fat juicy black olives & pistachios, some dips - a homemade guacamole & a smoky eggplant dip which was to die for & not like any dip I have tried before, wish I had that recipe! We also had some antipasto, & caperberries which I also love & would love to see on more menus, artichokes, fetta, semi dried tomatoes & lots of toasted bread. This was washed down with a cosmopolitan, they have this great deal where you can order any tapas item & a cocktail for $15.00 which we planned to take advantage of. We were off to a very good start.

Next up we had some Chilli salt baby octopus & coconut mussels, these were fantastic, esp the coconut broth the mussels were served in, quite different. This lot was washed down with a bellini

Next up were some very tasty Grilled thai prawns & tuna with daikon & ponzu. The ponzu was not something i had eaten or heard of before & was quite interesting, almost potato like, wouldn't say it wasnt nice but I also wont be rushing out to buy any in a hurry

We finished it all of with a lovely cheese platter

A great relaxing way to enjoy our last night in this lovely place

Dish at Byron Bay Wednesday 16th November 2005

Wednesday night we tried out Dish, another find in the Gourmet traveller restaurant guide.

Again the decor was lovely & the food beautifully presented & tasty

To start with I had Pan seared King prwans with salt Cod brandade, Jerusalem arthichoke puree, oyster mushrooms & deep fried grated beetroot which added a nice touch of colour.

This was followed with a Baked potato gnocchi with chorizo, confit of garlic & onion, primavera sauce & shaved peccorino, lovely flavours though way too much chorizo for my liking. Michael polished off all of my leftovers so it wasnt a problem though unfortunately for him I had shed one of my long blonde hairs in the dish & Michael got it stuck in his mouth, the sight off him open mouthed in this fine place trying to extract the stray hair had me in stictches for a long time, always nice to have such an unprepared belly laugh. After finally freeing his mouth of my locks he still dug in & finished the rest!

For dessert I had a warm white chocolate fondant with blood orange & vanilla bean sacue & fresh watermelon, absolutley luscious. I washed this down with an affotnini for something different. This was a cocktail of honey vodka, vanilla vodka, espresso & a dash of cream, yum, yum, yum, I will have to try & recreate that one at home for sure

Again if you're ever in Byron - put this one on the list

Boomerang at Byron Bay Monday 12th November

Well I am lucky enough to say that i have just returned home from a glorious week in Byron Bay where Michael & I did a damn fine job of relaxing, lots of long walks on the beach, good food & afternoon naps!

We arrived last Saturday & Sam & Tracey, friends from Brisbane had come to down for the night so it was off to the pub for drinks & then Cocomangas for dancing the night away, good way to start the holiday. Aftr all op this of course we were in need of a huge greasy brekky so we headed down to The Beach Cafe overlooking the beach, brekky was lovely. I went for the big one of course & had a very generous dish of bacon, poached eggs, grilled tomatos & mushies, baked beans & a home made hash brown on sourdough toast, needles to say I didnt finish it all. Very yummy & the hash brown did it for me, I love these & its not often they come home made - definitely worth a visit if youre ever in Byron

Monday we headed out for dinner to Boomerang which I found listed in the Gourmet Traveller 2006 restaurant guide, lucky as its not on a main street & could have been easily missed! There was only one other couple in tonight so we had excellent service & Marc Romanella the chef & I believe owner was serving tonight which was excellent as he was very passonate about his food & wine. The decor & table settings were all beatiful too.

The menu was a bit different to the norm as you are asked to create your own degustation menu from a list of fantastic choices, choosing from as little as 2 to 5, we chose 3 as we were told the portions were only entree size to allow you to taste several. We also went for the matching wine option.

I started with the Crusted yellowfin tuna sashimi with an ume, fuji & chilli chutney. This looked too gorgeous to eat & was delicious, the fruity flavour of the chutney was a brilliant match for the tuna. As this was a sweet flavoured dish I had a Japanese plum wine which was really nice, I had not had one of these before so nice to try something new too.

Second was a Marinated Beef tenderloin with parsnip rosti & white asparagus in soy, ginger & red wine served with a Bendigo Shiraz, again sensational flavours & the beef was very tender

Lastly I had the Duck pudding with citrus confit in Grand Marnier & ginger. This sounded odd & when asked exactly what a duck 'pudding' was Marc explained that it was actually slow cooked lamb wrapped in fine pastry, was absolutely scrummy & served with a lovely 1998 merlot from Washington.

The servings were also quite generous & with the hot bread rolls & herb infused olive oil on the side we were quite full by this stage, though of course I couldnt pass up the opportunity to try out dessert at such a wonderful place so we shared a Blood Orange tart with Mango & tequila sorbet & fresh strawberries on the side, Luscious!

All in all, this place is not to be missed!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Thursday 11th Nov - Queen Vic Market Cooking class with Allan Campion

Last night I went along to the Queen Vic Market for 1 of their cooking classes, I have been to a couple before & they are always good fun. For those of you who havent been the term 'class' is a bit misleading I find as it is more of a demonstration.

The classes run year long on various nights/weekends & each class is different & is brought to you by a different chef & their specialities. Basically up to approx 15 people sit around a table watching the chef do his thing while drinking wine & firing away questions to gain the answers to all of those things a cook book just doesn’t tell you!
You then get to eat the magnificent results & take home the recipes to attempt yourself if you are game

Last nights class was 'The seasonal produce Diary' by Allan Campion now an annual 'bible'
In case you're not familiar with Allan Campion, he & his wife produce a 'seasonal produce diary' each year which as the name suggests lists Seasonal ingredients for each month of the year as well as recipes incorporating the same .
It is a fabulous little diary & also food & wine events in Oz are marked in the calender so you cant forget to go, a list of places to buy great produce as well as details on markets etc is also included. Apparently it sells out very quickly so grab one now before they run out

Last night he cooked up for us some fabulous recipes all from the diary, Sweet corn & ricotta hotcakes with rocket, smoked salmon & a basil & lemon dressing - is your mouth watering yet? & yes they did taste as good as they sound.
Next was a leg of lamb stuffed with preserved lemons, zaatar & herbs served with an almond pilaf - so easy & so delicious
And to top it all off a nectarine & limoncello meringue slice - need I say more?
Truly wonderful food & we should all try & follow his lead & only cook with the best seasonal ingredients to achieve maximum flavour in all we cook

Allan is fabulous & after the delicious celebration of foood he created for us last night just about everyone bought the Diary as well as various other cookbooks he has released, they all look sensational & very 'do able' (not sure it that is really a word).

Anyway check out the book & check out the classes, great fun

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sunday 6th November 2005 - Lunch

Yesterday was another glorious Melbourne day, 30 degrees & its not even summer yet, I love it although I can hear all of those Winter lovers complaining loudly already. I only hope that it means we're in for a long hot summer, we haven't had one for a while & its about time if you ask me
I was having my parents & Godmother over for lunch so this meant that once again I could set up outside & enjoy some more el fresco dining in the courtyard
Have been really busy lately so cooked up an old favourite, nice to cook something you know will work & is not too much effort every now & again. Was a leek & cheese tart, the recipe originally featured in a newspaper some time back. I served this with Green salad leaves topped with a combo of cherry, grape & roma tomatoes roasted in garlic, olive oil, basil, oregano, salt & pepper & a simple dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar & basil

Leek & Goats Cheese Tart Recipe

The recipe is supposed to serve 6 though I would say 6 entrée portions & if serving for a main sp if boys eating, double as I did yesterday

Shortcrust pastry (1 if making 1 big tart or 2 if making 4 individuals)
50g butter
3 meduium leeks, pale section only, washed & sliced
3 eggs, lightly whisked
1/2 cup thickened cream
1 tbspn fresh thyme leaves
100g soft goats cheese, crumbled
75g grated gruyere
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 200c
Line your case(s) with pastry & prick the base of the tart a few times to stop the air getting in while baking
Bake tart case for 10 mins then take out of oven and set aside
Meantime cook leeks & butter in a saucepan for approx 20-25 mins or until soft
Remove from heat & cool
Whisk together eggs & cream, stir in leek, thyme, & half of the goats cheese & gruyere, season
Pour mixture into the tart case & sprinkle remaining chesse on top
Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until just set in the center
Serve warm or at room temperature

I've tried a few leek & goats cheese tarts as I love them & this is definietly my favourite & a crowd pleaser too


Randon Travel Notes 2 - Pierogi in Krakow - March 2003

While living in The Netherlands another place Michael & I had the pleasure of visiting was Krakow.
My mothers side of the family is Polish & I had promised myself that I would not leave Europe
this time without a visit to Poland
Growing up I spent a lot of time at my grandparents after school & on holidays & it seemed that
everything centered around food. They very rarely went out unless it was to the shops or for some other neccessity
Instead they sat at home & the kitchen was always a welcome place full of beautiful aromas
& there was always something wonderful in the fridge or simmering away on the stove for us to gobble up
I will always miss the lovely traditional food she cooked, Pierogi, sauerkraut, home made noodles for her lovely chicken soup, borchst, cabbage rolls, pancakes, home made plum jam & donuts to name a few treats she regulary cooked up. And of course there were always lollies
& chocholates to hand out & in summer a jar of home made lemon tea was ready & waiting on the kitchen sink
If I was staying there on school holidays I was even allowed to help out with the cooking, now that was fun!
When I was in primary school my grandma would evev walk down at play time & bring me hot treats, my friends were always very jealous!
While the women sat in the kitchen talking & eating the men would sit in the lounge room watching sport & my papa would pop in at some stage to offer us all beer or home made 'vodka' - an offer not often taken up for for of what it would do to your insides!
This is obviosuly were my love of food & cooking began
Anyway one of the things I was looking forward to in Poland of course was sampling the food & comparing it to that of my grandma. Pierogi was always the big time favourite & hers was made with a mashed potato & fried onion filling & then served with huge lashings of sour cream, sometimes she also made it with sauerkraut or plums, though for us kids it always had to be the potato!
When in Krakow I sampled many pierogi & they were quite similar & very yummy though most were larger & had different fillings, cheese or potato & cheese or even meat & not a drop of sour cream to be found anywhere, usually they were topped with fried onion instead
Also had lots of other traditional food & it was all delicious, the Polish people are very friendly & everything was amazingly cheap.
Of course we also drank lots of vodka too, they have hundreds of flavours & most are not like the vodka we have here at home, more liquer like, a couple of restaurants we ate in even brought out their 'home made' specialities, great to try out & a lot gentler than my papa's though still packing a bit of punch!
There is so much vodka that one night even ordering coffee we ended up with Vodka & no coffee to be seen anywhere
Unfortunately I hadnt started up this blog when I was there so I have no names of the places we tried to recommend to you all
All in all a great place to visit & quite different to what most Aussies would be used to, would love to go back & explore further

And oh yeah, there are lots of sights & interesting things to do too, its not just the food!

Sadly my grandparents both passed away recently, they will be missed dearly by the whole family & their memories will live on in our hearts forever

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Cup Day BBQ Tuesday 1st Nov 2005

Decided to have a bbq with a few friends over to watch the Melbourne cup. Was a glorious day in the low 30's so perfect to sit outside amongst the new & colorful blooms under the shade of my umbrella enjoying a few refreshing glasses of wine & yummy food, is there a better way to spend a warm sunny day I ask you!

Started the day with nibbles of dips, olives, & crackers kindly donated by various guests Was a good thing we had the nibbles as my better half waited until the last minute to check & discover that we needed more gas & after driving to half the servos in Melbourne before finding one that hadn't run out the bbq was running just a tad late

On the bbq we had some good old Aussie snags, spicy chevups, homemade hamburgers courtesy of my mum & some marinated chicken. The chicken recipe was from The Womens Weekly Great BBQ Food cookbook, very tasty!

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Recipe (Note original recipe is for quails which I substituted with the chicken pieces)

Chicken Thigh Fillets (Enough for 8 people)
2 cups Mango Chutney
2 tblspns cumin seeds
1 tblspn Sweet Paprika
1 tblspn grated lemon rind
1 tspn cracked black pepper
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander

Combine all ingredients, throw in the chicken & refigerate 3 hours or overnight (I left mine overnight)
Drain well & thrown on the barbie, til cooked & that’s it - very easy!

To go with the meat I tossed a couple of simple salads together, mixed lettuce, tomatos, cucumber, avacado & dressing and also made a potato salad with a difference, (diff for my family at least who always have the traditional boiled potatoes with egg, onion & lashings of mayo), recipe was from Jamie Oliver the Naked Chef & was really good, here it is & is highly recommend

Jamies Potato Salad Recipe (I made triple to feed about 12 & there were leftovers)

Boil 450g of evenly sized new potatos either peeled or scraped in salted water. I also cut mine in half as they were a touch on the large side Cook until just falling on off the blade of a knife when inserted, don’t overcook or will be a bowl of mush
As soon as they are cooked dress with following (all ingredients combined beforehand):

2 tblspns lemon juice
5 tblspns olive oil
1 level tspn salt
1 level tspn freshly ground black pepper

Throw in a bunch of fresh dill & some extra salt & pepper to taste

Also on the side had a fantastic cob filled with roasted veges, proscuito & camembert that another friend had whipped up, as well as the usual sliced bread & tomato sauce to keep the boys & kids happy

Now you may think we would all be bursting at this point but no, it is a long day & soon we needed more Had experimented with some chocolate coated, cointreau injected strawberries earlier in the day, very wicked & believe me they were a big hit so if you can get your hands on a syringe well worth it. Was very funny having to walk into the local chemist & embarrassingly ask for them, luckily the girls understood my dilemna

To make, simply melt some chocolate melts in a bowl over simmering pot of water, use dark, white or milk, up to you.
As soon as melted twirl strawberries in choc & place on baking paper to set. Note berries have to be completely dry before dipping or ruins the chocolate. When set, inject with your alcohol of choice, would suggest to use a full syringe of each as I didn’t and could have used some more, was a bit worried of overpowering with alcohol for my first try, no danger there

Also had a cherry & coconut slice to share around, again donated by one of my helpful friends & last but not least a selection of lovely cheeses, fig paste & fruit to finish it all off

Was a great day though not very hungry now as you can imagine!

And a big congratulations to Makybe Diva for winning yet again & making me some money at the tab!

Lunch at Ceres

Well, just walked down & had lunch at Ceres the community & environment park in Brunswick. The cafe is open air with mosaic tables scattered under the trees & shade & the food is 80% organic. As well as the cafe I also had a look around the Saturday market & bought some olive bread from the new organic bakery there, cant wait to try it out, the breads all looked fantastic & lots of variety. There is also an organic fruit & veg section as well as other produce & second hand clothes, jewellry stalls etc, quite an interesting place & great to see its all environmentally conscious.

For lunch I had the sour dough toast with pesto, grilled haloumi, rocket & asparagus, sensational & cant wait to go back & try everything else on the menu, esp brekky which sounded yummy & by the looks of other peoples orders swinging by, will be! Just a word of warning, go early or prepare to wait a bit for a free table.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Weekend away on the Mornington Peninsula Prt 2

Saturday 29th October 2005 - Lunch at Montalto Winery

Lunch was spent at Montalto & was fabulous. The views from the restaurant are gorgeous & its lovely to take a walk around the grounds, esp the herb & vege garden. If you're ever down this way & are looking for a great spot for lunch this place is not too be missed

To start with I had a celeriac raviolo on an asparagus salad with some corn fritters on the side, beautiful combination of flavours though some of the boys suggested the serving size was a bit small. I was happy as more room for the rest, always a shame if you are full after the entrée!

For the main I had flathead on wasabi mash , again a delicious choice

Dessert was the luscious soft centred chocolate pudding with
Bourbon Vanilla bean ice cream, with some cumquats on the side
- this was fabulous piece of work!

This finished us of & it was back to the house for a quiet night in

All in all a great weekend had by m always happy to revisit

Weekend away on the Mornington Peninsula Prt 1

Friday 28th October 2005

Drove down to Blairgowrie after work with the boys from the office for our annual 'love-in'
We cooked up a barbie for dinner, big juicy porterhouse steaks, spicy snags, some salad & olive bread.
This was washed down with loads of champas (me) & beers (the boys) with some red wine & scotch thrown in for good measure
All followed by various attempts at sportsmanship including trampolining (amazing how one believes they can back flip after a few drinks) table tennis & some singstar thrown in for good measure

Saturday 29th October 2005 - Morning

After last nights excess we started the
day with a great bbq brekky to clear
the head, bacon, eggs, tomatos,
olive & pesto bread all grilled
nicely with some mushies on
the side In my opinion nothing
can beat this combo for a
hangover & this one worked
a treat (for most of us anyway)
Was even nicer for me as the guys
cooked & I was able to sit back in the sun & relax awaiting my feast

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Random Travel Notes 1 - Nice June 2002

In June 2002 Michael & I had the pleasure of spending a few lazy summer days in Nice.
The weather was perfect, atmosphere romantic & the al fresco dining of great but simple seafood was something we both loved & looked forward to each night
If you havent been & have the chance, book yourself some time there
Here is a photo of the an ice cream stand full of weird & wonderful sounding flavours, thym, basilic, most sounded crazy to us & we stuck to the more traditonal & sweet flavours
How good does it all look?

Au revoir

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Getting started

Wow - How exciting to get started!

Promises of real posts soon!