Sunday, May 28, 2006

Easy Sticky-Toffee Pudding - Dinner Party prt 3

I’ve made this once before a few years back & from what I remember it was wonderfully rich & pretty simple to make so I thought it would be perfect for dessert at tonight’s dinner party. The recipe comes from Nigella Bites. As always I was buying everything at the last minute & the local shopping centre does not stock any dark muscovado sugar so I just used dark brown sugar which works fine for me. Also the recipe calls for full-fat milk, I used light start which is what I normally have in the fridge. As for the dates, I don’t know what ‘rolled’ dates are & just used a packed of pitted dates from the dried fruit isle of the supermarket. Served with some vanilla ice-cream it was the perfect end to dinner.

Easy Sticky-Toffee Pudding

For the cake
100g Muscovado sugar (or dark brown)
175g self-raising flour
125ml full fat milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g, unsalted butter, melted
200g chopped, rolled dates

For the sauce
200g dark muscovado sugar (or dark brown)
approx. 25g unsalted butter in little blobs
500ml boiling water

Preheat the oven to 190c and butter a 1 ½ litre capacity pudding dish.

Combine the sugar & flour in a large bowl. Pour the milk into a measuring jug, beat in the egg, vanilla & melted butter and then pour this mixture over the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon to combine. Fold in the dates & scrape into the pudding dish.

Sprinkle over the rest of the sugar & dot with butter. Pour over the boiling water & transfer to the oven. Cook for 45 minutes, when cooked the top of the pudding should be springy & spongy, it might need an extra 5-10 minutes. Serve with ice cream, or cream as you wish – I choose vanilla ice cream.

Pappardelle with amazing slow-cooked meat - Dinner Party prt 2

This recipe comes from Jamie’s Kitchen. It calls for beef, venison, wild boar or even pigeon. I chose to use lamb shoulder as for some reason I really wanted a lamb pasta. I also made double as I was cooking for 8 adults & 3 children & the recipe serves 4. I was a bit worried when I started thinking it would turn into big lumps of hard chewy lamb but the end result was sensational. Theh lamb flaked apart as promised & combined wiht the sauce was a lovely rich, thick wintery sauce that went perfectly with the pasta. I served with a mixed lettuce & parmsesan & a capri salad. Everyone seemed to be very happy with their dinner & all plates were emptied!

Pappardelle with amazing slow-cooked meat

800g braising meat, seasoned & cut into large 5cm chunks
extra virgin olive oil
1 handful of fresh rosemary & thyme, leaves picked & finely chopped
1 small red onion, peeled & finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled & finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled & finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 wineglasses of chianti
2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons pearl barley
salt & freshly ground black pepper
400g fresh or dried Pappardelle
100g butter
2 handfuls of grated parmesan cheese

In a hot casserole dish (suitable for stove top) fry your meat in a little olive oil until golden brown then add herbs, onion, garlic, carrot & celery. Turn the heat down & continue to fry for 5 minutes or until vegetables have softened. Add your red wine & continue to simmer until the liquid has almost cooked away.

Add the tomatoes, the barley & enough water to cover the meat by 1cm. Make a cartouche of greaseproof paper. Wet it under the tap, rub with a little olive oil & place it over the pan. Put a lid on the pan as well to retain as much moisture during cooking as possible. Cook n a really low heat for 2-3 hours, its ready when the meat flakes apart. Season to taste & allow to cool slightly. Now pull the meat apart & keep over a low heat.

Cook your Pappardelle in boiling salted water & drain, reserving some of the liquid. Remove the meat from the heat & stir in the butter & parmesan & a little of the cooking water. Toss together with the pasta & serve with some freshly grated parmesan.

Foccacia - Dinner Party part 1

Tonight I had a bit of a dinner party for a few friends. To start with I made some foccacia's. I made this up sort of mixing up 2 of Jamie’s focaccia recipes, 1 from Jamie’s Kitchen & the other from The Naked Chef. I did half/half with the toppings, half tomato & half basil & Olive Oil. Personally I thought the basil topping was far superior, the mix of garlic, basil, olive oil & murray river pink salt was sensational though there were others who thought the tomato was just as good. Anyway all in all it was much appreciated & enjoyed & I would definetley make it again. Everyone asked if it was acually home made which is a good sign to me. Very yummy & the whole 2 foccacias went with not a crumb to spare. Very stisfying making bread from scratch!


Basic Bread Recipe

3 x 7g sachets of dried yeast
30g sugar
625ml tepid water
1kg strong bread flour
30g salt
extra flour for dusting

Cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Fresh basil
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Stage 1. Dissolve the yeast & sugar in half the tepid water.
Stage 2. On a large clean surface, make a pile of the flour, semolina & salt. With one hand make a well in the centre .
Stage 3. Pour the dissolved yeast & sugar mixture into the centre & with your fingers make circular movements, from the centre working outwards, slowly bringing in the dry ingredients until all yeast mixture is soaked up. Then pur the other half of the tepid water into the centre & gradually incorporate all the flour to make a moist dough. If needed add a little extra water.
Stage 4. Knead for 5 minutes & if any sticks to your hands just rub together with a little extra flour.
Stage 5. Flour both hands now & lightly flour the top of the dough. Make into a roundish shape & place on a baking tray. Score the dough with a knife.
Stage 6. Leave the dough covered in glad wrap to prove in a warm, moist, draught free place, it needs to double in size, about 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220c.

While proving get the tomatoes ready. Prick with a knife & drop into boiling water for about 30 seconds. Drain & cool under cold water, remove the skins. Place in a bowl with some olive oil & put aside.

For second toping, finely chop 1 clove of garlic & a good bunch of basil. Add roughy 3 times as much oil as you have of the basil mixture, a squeeze of lemon juice & salt & pepper.

Take the proved dough & bash the air out, then place on a floured surface & roll to about 2.5cm thick. Transfer to a floured baking tray & push the dough to the edges to fill the tray.

Pour the olive oil over & sprinkle with the basil mixture. On the other half sprinkle the tomatoes & fresh basil. Push your fingers to the bottom of the tray across the whole dough. Leave to prove until doubled in size again the sprinkle tomato half with salt & pepper. Place into preheated oven & cook for around 20 minutes until crisp & golden on top & soft in the middle. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil & scatter with seas salt when taken out of the oven.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Stir-Fried Hokkien Noodles with Sweet Pork Fillets

Tonight for dinner I got to try out my brand new Kylie Kwong Simple Chinese Cooking book that I have been dying for after all of the rave reviews. I must say this dish sounded very simple yet the flavours were amazing. The pork was oh so tender & sweet without being overpowering & the addition of the Sichuan salt & pepper at the end really added that final touch to make it stand out. Can’t wait to try them all out!

Stir-Fried Hokkien Noodles with Sweet Pork Fillets

400g pork fillets, cut into 5mm slices
½ large red pepper
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 small white onion, cut in half & then into thick wedges
4 spring onions, trimmed & cut into 10cm lengths
12 ginger slices
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 x 450g packet fresh Hokkien noodles
2 tablespoons shao hsing wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
pinch Sichuan pepper & salt (see separate recipe)

1 tablespoon shao hsing wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon malt vinegar
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil

Combine Port & marinade ingredients in a bowl, cover, and leave to marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Remove seeds from pepper, cut into fine slices & set aside

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a hot wok, add pork & stir fry for 1 minute then remove & set aside

Add remaining oil to wok with pepper, onion, spring onions, ginger & garlic & stir fry for 1 minute or until onion is slightly browned. Add noodles & pork & stir fry for 30 seconds. Finally add wine soy sauce, oyster sauce & sesame oil & stir fry for a further 1 ½ minutes or until pork cooked through & noodles hot.

Serve in bowls with a pinch of the Sichuan salt & pepper

Sichuan Salt & Pepper

1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
3 tablespoons sea salt

Dry roast peppercorns & salt in a heavy based pan. When pepper begins to pop & become aromatic, take off heat. Allow to cool, then grind to a powder inmortar & pestle. Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Steamed Prawn Wontons with Red Chilli and Spring Onion

Tonight for dinner for something different I made some prawn wontons from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Kitchen. The mixture was really quick & easy to prepare unlike making the wontons which as everyone knows is fiddly & time consuming. Lucky my mum had given me one of those cheap pastry makers that you get from $2 shops or Asian grocery stores where you basically just lay your pastry down, drop in the filling then clamp it shut to seal together. A hell of a lot easier then folding & pressing by hand I must say. We tried these with sweet chilli & soy sauce but honestly the filling was so tasty you really did not want to add too much or the lovely aromatic flavour of the filling was lost.

Steamed Prawn Wontons with Red Chilli and Spring Onion

2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 small handful of fresh coriander
2 fresh red chillies, deseeded
5 spring onions
300g raw prawns, shelled
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
pre-rolled wonton wrappers (approx 30)

Finely chop the ginger, garlic, chillies, coriander & spring onions & place in a food processor with the prawns, pulse until combined. Add the soy & sesame oil & pulse again. Fill the wontons with a small teaspoon of filling, brush the edges to seal.

Put the wontons in a steamer basket on baking paper & steam for approx 7 minutes. Serve with sweet chilli or soy sauce.

Spiced Apple & Prune Muffins

For brekky today I whipped up these surprisingly tasty & healthy muffins. I have never made any type of cakey thing with prunes before so was surprised at how sweet they tasted in these little gems. The recipe was a reader’s that I snipped out of a mag a while back

Spiced Apple & Prune Muffins

¾ cup wholemeal self raising flour
¾ cup plain flour
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup chopped pitted prunes
140g tub apple puree
120g butter, melted
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 180c. Spray a 12 x ¾ cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

Sift flours & allspice together in a bowl. Stir in the sugar & prunes. Make a well in the centre.

Combine remaining ingredients in a jug. Gradually fold into the dry ingredients, until just combined.

Spoon into the prepared pan & bake for 15-20 minutes until cooked when tested with a skewer. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Pork Cutlets with Ginger Sweet Potato Mash

Tonight I was feeling very lazy as I have most of the week & not really up to much of a cook so I whipped up this simple dish from Marie Claire’s Food Fast, I wouldn’t even call it a recipe it was so simple. Was very tasty, especially the sweet potato mash, normally I don’t add anything so the extras gave it an extra special flavour.

Pork Cutlets with ginger sweet potato mash

4 pork cutlets
sesame seeds
400g sweet potato, peeled & chopped
2 tablespoons shredded ginger
30g butter
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons coriander leaves

To make the mash, place the sweet potato & ginger in a small saucepan of water & cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes, drain. Mash with the butter, honey & coriander until smooth. Meantime steam up some greens, I did green beans. While these are cooking, press the sesame seeds into the cutlets & fry in an oiled pan for 2-3 minutes each side until golden brown.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Tarte Tatin

I have seen so many recipes for Tarte Tartins lately that I just knew I had to try one soon. Finally I had my excuse today when Elise came over for lunch. I followed the recipe in Allan Campion & Michele Curtis’ 2006 Seasonal Produce Diary which has not let me down with a recipe yet. The recipe was fairly simple, the only difficulty factor is in tipping it upside down without leaving too much mess & hopefully getting it on the plate straight. With a bit of help from Michael I managed to succeed reasonably well. As you can see in the picture it is not the prettiest of dishes though I swear all the magazine pics look 100% better than mine! The flavour was luscious, very sweet, almost like stewed apples, served with some vanilla ice cream created the perfect balance, really good & you can kid yourself its almost healthy due to the fruit factor. Oh & by the way I used up my entire crop of granny smiths for the season for this recipe & still had to buy 2 apples from the market, yes that’s right, my tree only produced 2 apples for the whole year, hope to have better luck next year. You need a 22cm deep sided cast iron pan for this or alternately you can cook up the apples in a fry pan then transfer to a pie dish before covering with pastry. I used my paella dish which is oven proof, glad to find another use for it.

Tarte Tatin

75g butter
150g caster sugar
4 granny smith apples, cored & cut into 8ths
1 piece of puff pastry, approx 25 x 25cm
egg wash (1 egg yolk with 1 tablespoon milk)

Cream or ice cream to serve

Preheat oven to 190c. Heat pan over medium-high heat, add butter & sugar & cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly. Cook until sugar & butter are a golden caramel colour. Note do not lick the spoon during this process or you will have a burnt tongue like I now do. Next, carefully add the apples taking care not to splash, cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring to coat the apples with caramel. The apples will begin to release their juice & stop the caramel from over cooking.

Set the pan aside & cool a little. Place pastry over the apples & tuck down the sides to completely cover apples & trim off any excess. Brush pastry with egg wash & place in oven. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until pastry is risen, golden brown & cooked.

To serve, place a large plate over pan or pie dish. Then, using oven gloves, tip plate over & remove, leaving apples on top & pastry on the bottom. Serve immediately with cream or ice cream

Sizzled Haloumi with sundried tomatoes & home made pesto

Today my good friend Elise came over for lunch. She is studying Bowen therapy at the moment so the deal was she got to practice & ‘do my husband’ while I cooked up some yummy lunch for us all. Michael was very relaxed after the therapy & I’m looking forward to my turn next though I don’t know if we can leave the lunch to Michael, better prepare something in advance I think! For dessert I was finally making a tarte tatin (see next post) so I wanted lunch to be nice & light so I threw together this salad inspired by a recipe in a mag some time back, cant remember which one. I used some fantastic King Island Haloumi that I picked up from the Vic market & served it with a wonderful St Andrews seed & sprout wood fired oven loaf which I bought from the baker himself over at Ceres this morning. I also made my own pesto for the recipe following Jamie Oliver’s advice in Jamie’s Dinners & served the whole lot on a bed of rocket. It was all great though the rocket & olives probably weren’t necessary, I ate most of my cheese on torn chunks of bread with the pesto sauce, god I love Haloumi. The leftover pesto will make a very quick meal tonight too stirred through some pasta, might even leave that one to the hubby.

Sizzled Haloumi with sundried tomatoes & home made pesto

12 vine ripened cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus ½ tablespoon to coat tomatoes
Leaves form 4 thyme sprigs
4 sundried tomatoes, finely sliced
250g haloumi, rinsed, cut into slices
Handful of kalamata olives
Basil leaves to serve

Pesto Sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon pesto
1 tablespoon baby capers, rinsed

Heat the oven to 180c. Coat the cherry tomatoes with 1 teaspoon olive oil, scatter with thyme leaves & sea salt & black pepper to taste, then bake for 15 minutes or so until soft but still retaining their shape.

To make the pesto sauce, mix the oil, capers & pesto together in a bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non stick grill pan over high heat. When very hot, sizzle the cheese slices until browned on each side.

Arrange ingredients over rocket on a plate & serve drizzled with pesto sauce.


½ a clove of garlic
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 good handfuls of basil, leaves picked & chopped
a handful of pine nuts, very lightly toasted
a good handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil
a squeeze of lemon juice

Pond the garlic with a pinch of salt & the basil leaves in a pestle & mortar, or pulse in a food processor (I used the processor). Add the pine nuts & pound again. Turn into a bowl & add half the parmesan. Stir gently and add sone olive oil – you need just enough to bind the sauce & get it too an oozy consistency. Season to taste, then add most of the remaining cheese, pour in more oil & taste again, keep adding until you are happy with the taste & consistency. Add the lemon juice at the end to give it a bit of a twang, this last step is optional – I go for it as love the extra zesty flavour it gives.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Tomato & Red Lentil Soup

With the colder than normal for May bloody freezing conditions outside, tonight for dinner I cooked up one of my favourite Winter staples, tomato & red lentil soup, dead easy, warming & very delicious

Tomato & Red Lentil Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 clove of garlic
2 tins crushed tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup red lentils

Gently fry onion, garlic & carrot in a heavy bottomed soup pan until softened. Add tomatoes, stock & lentils, cook for approx 1 hour until all ingredients softened. Season to taste & serve with some crusty bread

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Chocolate Espresso Cake

Last night I finally made my birthday cake to take in to work. I made this delectable Chocolate Espresso cake from a recent delicious magazine. It is very rich, being flourless & has 200g of very good dark chocolate, I used 85% cocoa solids. Last time I made it I served it with cream which is really unnecessary, if anything I would serve with some berries. YUM!

Chocolate espresso cake

200g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
1 tablespoon strong prepared espresso coffee
1 tablespoon rum or brandy
2/3 cup (150g) caster sugar
150g unsalted butter
¾ cup (90g) almond or hazelnut meal
5 eggs, separated
Icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 180c. Grease & flour a 24cm round or square cake pan.

Place the chocolate, coffee, rum or brandy, sugar & butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until butter & chocolate have melted. Remove from heat & stir it all together.

Add almond or hazelnut meal (I have always used almond), & mix well. Using electric beaters, beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks form. Stir in a couple of spoonfuls into the chocolate mixture, before gently folding in the rest.

Pour into pan & bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in pan before turning out & dust with icing sugar to serve.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Chicken Curry

Tonight’s dinner was a chicken curry by Ben O’Donoghue inspired by all of the Indian restaurants in London’s East End. The recipe appeared in a recent delicious magazine. Its quite easy to make & produces a lovely light curry, a little spicy – I omitted the seeds to you could really heat it up by leaving them all in. I love all types of curry & am constantly trying new recipes, this is a goodie

Chicken Curry

5 long red chillies, seeds removed (or leave in for a hotter curry)
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
8 garlic cloves, crushed
2-3 lemons, juiced
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1.5kg free range chicken, cur into 8 pieces, skin removed (I actually used thigh fillets)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed
12 dried curry leaves
1 tablespoon chopped coriander, plus extra to garnish
½ Lebanese cucumber
100g plain yoghurt
steamed rice, to serve

Puree the chillies in a food processor, add a little oil if necessary. Place the chillies in a bowl with the garlic, lemon juice, turmeric & chicken, stir it all up & cover & leave to marinate while doing the next stage.

In a large deep frypan that has a lid, fry cumin seeds in oil over medium heat for 1 minute until fragrant. Add onion, fry for 5 minutes or until soft, then stir in coriander seeds for a further minute. Add 2 teaspoons of cracked black pepper & curry leaves with the chicken & all of the marinade, turning evenly to coat. Cover, reduce heat to low & cook for 30-40 minutes, turning occasionally until chicken is cooked through.

Combine the coriander, cucumber & yoghurt in a bowl. Serve curry on steamed rice with yghut mixture & garnish with extra coriander.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

L'Osteria & Happy Birthday to me!

After a week of birthday celebrations, last night was my night. I decided to take everyone to my favourite local Italian restaurant, L’Osteria in North Fitzroy. I love this place & their stuffed olives are the best, you may have noticed that I have a thing for stuffed olives & when I went to Ladro a couple of weeks back to find they had taken them off the menu I was devastated, luckily this place still had them so I promptly ordered a few servings for all to share. They are green olives stuffed with veal pork & parmigiano then crumbed & fried, sensational! Next we had some miniature vegetarian arancini which were lovely. For my main I had pappardelle alla ragu di salsiccia di finocchio, which translated is beautiful hand made pasta with a ragu of fennel sausages, tomato & radicchio, fantastic combination, the fennel flavour really came through quite strongly & I love the aniseed taste so very good for me. We didn’t have dessert tonight as my mum had bought a cake to have back at home.

Most of the pastas are homemade here & the menu changes seasonally so I never get bored with the choice. They also do pizza which I have not yet tried though I hear it is also pretty good. Highly recommended place to go, everyone was very impressed & I will be back there soon to try some more of the Autumn menu before it changes.

616 Nicholson Street
North Fitzroy
Ph (03) 9489 6302

Friday, May 05, 2006


Last night I caught up with Megan & Rach for dinner at Movida, which is a fantastic little tapas bar tucked away in a laneway in the city. They do dinner in 2 sittings, either 6 or 8.30, so if you do the 6 you have to get out fast & if you do the later session you can settle in & relax. As we were all going straight from work we did the 6.00 session as last time I went for the later one we were all very drunk by the time we got there, not very good at restraining myself from the bubbly whilst waiting! The menu is divided between tapas (small dishes) & racions (slightly bigger dishes) that are designed to share. You can also have a banquet. I love eating this way as it means you get to try so much more of whats on offer. Last night was no exception with 3 hungry girls not afraid to eat! The huge selection we tried last night was as follows:

Bread with Olive oil
Ensalada Valencia – Valencian Salad, endive, orange, palm hearts, & Manzanillo olives
Croqueta - Fried croquette flavoured with chicken & garlic chives
Tortilla de Patatas – confit potato & onion omelette
Setas Asado Con Jerez – Oven roasted portabello Mushrooms finished with sherry vinegar
Gambas A La sidra – whole prawns cooked in terracotta with Asturian cider
Chicken Speical – cant remember the exact flavours, was braised with an almond meal breading
Costilla Con Sobrasada - Roasted lamb cutlet encased in a Catalan pork & paprika pate
Vierna, Jamon Y Espuma – Half shell scallop oven baked with jamon & potato foam

Churros – Rich hot drinking chocolate & Spanish doughnuts & Ganache Caliente Con Turron, Hot chocolate ganache pudding with vanilla bean ice cream & nougat

Everything was absolutely yummy as you can see form the photos, the salad which the waiter suggested was really good & a bit different, the croquettes absolutely melted in your mouth, the mushrooms didn’t look much but were very tasty, the chicken special was delicious, in fact it was all lip smacking good. I had also heard that the churros for dessert were to die for so of course I had to try them along with the ganache which we shared between the 3 of us, of my God, as Rach put it, you could come here for dessert alone. The dipping chocolate was so thick & rich & good, it was a shame we ran out of dippin doughnuts & had to leave some & the ganache was exceptionally good too.

All in all it was really, really good & lots more to try in future visits, the menu changes regulary too so always something new to try. Very highly recommended, just remember it is very popular so book at least a week in advance

1 Hosier Lane, Melbourne
Ph: (03) 9663 3038
Open 7 days 12pm to Late

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Chickpea & Leek Soup

After last nights extravaganza I needed something small & simple for dinner tonight especially seeing as how I’m out for dinner again tomorrow night! So I cooked up one of my favourite soups from Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef, you have to try this, it is really very good.

Chickpea & Leek Soup

340g chickpeas, soaked over night (or a tin as I use)
1 medium potato, peeled & quartered
5 medium leeks
1 tablespoon olive oil
knob of butter
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
salt & freshly ground black pepper
850ml chicken or vegetable stock
Parmesan cheese, grated
Extra virgin olive oil

Rinse the chickpeas, cover with water, add the potato & cook for about an hour until all tender.

Meanwhile, remove the outer skins of the leeks, wash carefully, discard green bits & slice finely. Warm a thick bottomed pan, add the oil & butter, leeks & a generous pinch of salt & sweat gently until tender & sweet, this will take about half an hour if you are patient.

Add the drained chickpeas & potato & cook for a minute. Add the stock & simmer for 15 minutes.

Next whiz it all up with a bamix, add some parmesan to taste, season with salt & pepper & enjoy!

Jims Greek Tavern – Michaels Birthday

To celebrate Michaels birthday (and his sister Julie born on the same day), we had a great meal at Jims Tavern in Collingwood with the whole family. This place has been here for what seems forever to me, though is actually about 28 years. I have been here many times in the past & when you need something not too fancy – Michael has a very fussy & plain eating brother & dad, it’s just perfect. It’s nice to go somewhere where there are no menus & you can just leave the decisions in the waiter’s hands after indicating your preference for meat, seafood, etc, nice to be able to just enjoy the night & know that a feast will soon be served up. Jim’s is byo & you will not be given a wine glass & instead are left to use the simple water glasses provided, I do not have a problem with this as I’m not hear for a fancy restaurant just good simple food. The d├ęcor also is simple taverna style, tables covered with paper tablecloths & very simple crockery/cutlery, the atmosphere makes up for it though, always packed, bustling and noisy with conversation of the diners around you enjoying them selves. Last night was no exception, to start with we had the fairly conventional platters of dips, olives & veggies, saganaki & bbq octopus with baskets overflowing full of warm soft bread to eat it all up with. The dips were very good, the fried cheese with a squeeze of lemon was superb, I could eat slabs of this all by myself I love it so much & the octopus had that lovely charcoal flavour that I love. Next we had some huge grilled prawns, calamari, grilled blue-eye fillets, succulent lamb chops & some shaved lamb with onions & of course Greek salad on the side. The meal was thoroughly enjoyed by all, even the fussy ones! After all of this food we were stuffed silly though so retired back to my place to squeeze in some birthday cake. I would definitely recommend this place to all.

Jims Greek Tavern
32 Johnston St
Collingwood, VIC 3066
Daily 6:00pm-12:00am
Tel: (03) 9419-3827
American Express, Bankcard, Cash, Cheque, Diners Club, EFTPOS, Mastercard, VISA

Monday, May 01, 2006

Chocolate & cherry brownies

It’s Michaels birthday tomorrow & Cherry ripes are his fave chocolate so when I saw this recipe on Niki at Esurientes blog I knew I just had to make them for Michael. Niki used morello cherries which apparently could have caused them not too cook properly in the required time so I used dried cherries, looking back I would have used more than 100g to give a more intense cherry hit. Mine were really yummy but very, very moist in the centre – not liquid though. I like them this way & having never made brownies before I’m not sure just what texture they should be in the end. Will have to wait & see what the boy thinks.


Chocolate & Cherry Brownies

From Green and Black’s Chocolate Recipes: Unwrapped - From the Cacao Pod to Muffins, Mousses and Moles
300 g unsalted butter
300 g dark chocolate (minimum 60%, broken into pieces)
5 large eggs
400 g granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
100 g of dried cherries

Grease a roasting or baking tray.In a bowl (placed on top of a pot of boiling water) melt the butter and chocolate together until thick and creamyMeanwhile beat together sugar, eggs and vanilla extract until thick and creamy. The mixture should easily coat the back of a spoon.Once the butter-chocolate mixture has melted, remove from stove and beat into the egg mixtureSift the flour and salt together, and add to the wet ingredients. Mix until mixture is well combined.Drain morello cherries and fold into the brownie mixture.Pour mixture into the tray and bake for 20 - 30 minutes at 180COnce finished baking, allow to cool and cut into pieces.