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