Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Chiang Mai Noodles

Made up these Noodles for dinner which were delicious though I missed out on lots of ingredients & substituted some too, guess it would only be better with everything in it. Really quick & a great dish to knock up after work when you’re in a hurry. I used packet noodles, spring onions instead of shallots & added no fried red Asian shallot flakes, fried noodles or fresh red chilli at the end, was feeling very lazy! The recipe is from ‘Bowl Food’ one of those cute little books doing the rounds at the moment

Chiang Mai Noodles

250g fresh thin egg noodles
2 tbspns oil
6 red Asian shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 small fresh red chillies, seeded & finely chopped
2-3 tbspns red curry paste
375g chicken breast, cut into thin strips
2 tbspns fish sauce
1 tbspn grated palm sugar
3 cups (750ml) coconut milk
1 tbspn lime juice
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
4 spring onions, sliced to garnish
1/3 cup (10g) fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
fried red Asian shallot flakes, to garnish
purchased fried noodles, to garnish
fresh red chilli, finely diced to garnish

Cook the noodles according to packet instructions, drain & set aside

Heat a large wok over high heat, add the oil, shallots, garlic & chilli & stir fry for 3 minutes. Stir in the curry paste & fry for 2 minutes. Add chicken & fry for 3 minutes or until changes colour.

Stir in the fish sauce, palm sugar, coconut milk, lime juice & stock. Reduce the heat simmer over low heat for 5 minutes – do not boil.

To serve, divide the noddles among 4 deep bowls, spoon over the chicken mixture & add the garnishes.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Aubergine parmigiana)

Tonight I wanted to cook up something with the fresh eggplant my mum gave me from the garden so tried out this simple dish from Jamie’s latest ‘Italy’ book. As promised it was very moorish & I’m going back for seconds in a minute it was so tasty, very easy to prepare too. Its almost a meal in itself which is good as its all I’m having tonight, Michael having left me to my own devices while being wined & dined by his work.

Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Aubergine parmigiana)

Jamie describes this as a classic Northern Italian recipe. Which is great served with all sorts of roasted meats or fish. He recommends grilling the eggplant rather than frying with oil as this gives them a creamy rather than greasy texture.

3 large firm eggplants
olive oil
1 onion, peeled & finely chopped
1 clove garlic peeled & finely sliced
1 heap teaspoon dried oregano
2 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
a little wine vinegar
a large handful fresh basil
4 large handfuls freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 handfuls of dried breadcumbs
a little fresh oregano, leaves chopped
optional: 1 x 150g ball of buffalo mozzarella

Remove the stalks from the eggplants & cut into 1 cm thick slices, set aside. Get your griddle pan or bbq really hot. Meanwhile, put 2 or 3 glugs of olive oil in a pan over medium heat & add onions, garlic & oregano, cook for 10 minutes until soft & the garlic has a tiny bit of colour. Add the tomatoes to the onion mix, cover & simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, grill the eggplant on both sides until lightly charred & set aside. When the tomato sauce is reduced, add salt & pepper, basil & vinegar. You can leave chunky (as I did) or puree.

In an oven dish, put in a small layer of sauce, sprinkle lightly with cheese, followed by a single layer of eggplant, repeat until all ingredients used up, then finish with a layer of tomato, cheese & sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are nice tossed in olive oil with the fresh oregano. Also you can serve with torn up mozzarella on top. Place the dish in the oven at 190c & cook for ½ an hour until golden, crisp & bubbly. Its best eaten right away but can be served cold.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Plum & Vanilla Cake

Just spent a lovely afternoon at a friends place for lunch, champagne, wine, fine food & good company on a sunny afternoon, what more could a girl ask for? My contribution was this amazing plum cake. After last weekends success I thought I would stick to the same theme & try another one, this being a vanilla version. The recipe came from Bills Food, which I am finding is full of the most gorgeous sweet things. I would be hard pressed to pick a favourite between the 2 which were very similar, yet very different at the same time. This cake was very moist from all of the syrupy plum juice seeping into the cake as it was cooking & with a dollop of cream just divine. I used ruby red plums this time & the main difference in the cakes was white sugar rather than brown & the cocoa of course, cooking & prep methods pretty much the same.

Plum & Vanilla Cake


90g (3/4 cup) plain flour
100g (3 ½ cup) unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces
90g (1/3 cup) caster sugar


180g (6oz) unsalted butter, softened
250g (1 cup) caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tspn vanilla extract
185g (1 ½ cups) plain flour
2 tspns baking powder
500g fresh plums, halved & seeded or 825g canned plums, seeded

Preheat oven to 180c (350f/Gas4 ). To make the topping, place the flour, butter, sugar in a bowl & rub with your fingertips until crumbly.

To make the cake, cream the butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Sift the flour & baking powder into the bowl & fold into the mixture. Spread into a 24cm (9 inch) greased or non stick springform cake tin. Top with halved plums with the cur side up. Sprinkle with the topping & bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Remove form the oven & allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Delicious served with pouring cream.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Spiced lamb tagine with preserved lemon & green olives

Well after going out for a fairly late breakfast this morning I wasn’t really up for lunch & instead when I got peckish late this afternoon I had some left over Christmas plum pudding made beautifully by my mum, I love the way these things last forever & get better with age (as do women of course), a very generous dash of custard & a minute or so in the microwave & yum all done!

As is typical of Melbourne weather, after a couple of gorgeous perfect hot days the sky turned dark, lightning flashed, the sky rumbled & then came the rain, has been pretty heavy & steady all afternoon which of course left me with lots of time to cook up some slow food for dinner as I couldn’t get stuck into the garden as planned.

Made the following Lamb Tagine which in my modesty I claimed to be ‘absolutely sensational & possibly even better than the one I had at Mecca Bah recently’. Michael though, as is usual said it was ‘nice’ but much preferred last nights duck as the flavours were not strong enough for him. Anyway I think this dish won out myself, lamb falling apart, beautiful subtle spicy flavours, & perfect with a glass of 2001 Brown brothers merlot & the sounds of the rain beating down outside. Now all I need is a Tagine Dish so I can make it for my next dinner party & impress everyone, next time I’m in Morocco perhaps…! The recipe was ripped from a recent magazine, sorry can’t remember which one, here it is

Spiced lamb tagine with preserved lemon & green olives

Olive Oil
3 sticks celery, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
2 medium brown onions, finely diced
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbspn roasted & ground cumin seeds
1 tbspn roasted & ground coriander seeds
¼ tspn ground turmeric
¼ tspn ground ginger
¼ tspn ground cinnamon
pinch saffron threads
1 boned lamb shoulder, approx 1.5-2kg, cut into 6cm pieces
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
2-3 litres chicken stock or water
2 tbspn honey
2 tbspn harissa
1 cup pitted green olives, cut in half
1 tbspn julienne of preserved lemon
salt & pepper
1 cup picked & washed coriander leaves
1 cup picked & washed parsley leaves
steamed couscous to serve

In a saucepan big enough to hold the lamb, heat a good splash of olive oil, add the veges & garlic & cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until soft but not brown. Add the mixed spices, lamb, tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme & enough stock or water to cover the lamb. Bring to the boil, skim the surface of any fat, then reduce heat to low & simmer very gently for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.

Skim the fat from the surface again, then add the honey, harissa, olives & preserved lemon. Season to taste with salt & pepper, then transfer to a tagine dish (if you are lucky enough to have one that is!) for serving.

Scatter the herbs generously over the top & serve immediately with steamed couscous on the side.

Mart 130 - Brekky

This morning I managed to have a delicious brekky at Mart 130 in Middle Park with Ed & Jamie, fellow Melbourne food bloggers. Luckily the rain held out for us as most of the seating is outside & there is not really much in the way of undercover seating. If you didn’t know it was there it would be easy to miss, I thought I knew what I was looking for & it still took me a while to find. Mart 130 is at 107a Canterbury Road in the old station house at the Middle Park light rail stop, so from the road you have to go under the line to the other side of the tracks. Most of the seating is out the back so if no one is dining out the front it bears no resemblance to a café. Tricky!

As Jamie raved on about the corn fritters how could I order anything else, had to see for myself if they were a winner or not. As promised they were really good & came served with bacon, relish & sour cream, a very generous serving too as you can see by the photo. The whole menu looked pretty interesting so would be keen to go back & try out a few more dishes too. All in all well worth the effort & would definitely go back for more.

Was also nice to meet up with a couple of fellow bloggers, lots of blog talk as you can imagine & my head is now overflowing with of a lot of new info, will have to try & remember it all & try to put some of it to good use in fancying up Vicous Ange. That is, if I can figure it all out, my it skills could do with a lot of improvement!

Marinated Duck Breast with Moroccan couscous, braised leeks & paprika oil

On Thursday I headed out to the Vic Market at lunch time to gather the last of the ingredients I was missing for this dish, duck (key ingredient I couldn’t do without!) and Rice wine from the Asian supermarket across the road.

So at home after work I thought I was all prepared, opened up my cookbook ‘A Slice of Port Douglas' & read the first line of the recipe, ‘To prepare the duck, sprinkle salt onto the skin of the duck and refrigerate overnight, uncovered to draw out the moisture.’ Bugger, missed that line when I picked out the recipe, anyway really don’t like cooking on Fridays & wanted to get the dish done so thought I would skip part 1 as figured it wouldn’t make that much difference. Moved on to part 2, measured out my five spice, went to the cupboard for ginger & you guessed it NO BLOODY GINGER, checked the fridge & didn’t even have ginger in a jar. Contemplated going out to buy ginger, looked at clock, already after 7 & needed an hour of marinating, realised that unless I wanted to eat at midnight this dish was not to be done tonight, I was defeated! Sighed, salted the duck as per part 1 and scrounged up some steak & salad from the fridge for dinner instead.

Friday night now being all prepared after heading out at lunch time & buying my missing ginger I was ready to go & do it all according to the book. There were a few steps involved though none that had any degree of difficulty & the flavours were great. The couscous in particular I loved, the dates & sun dried tomatoes really stood out & gave it a unique flavour. Also the leeks were good though I didn’t really think they complimented the dish all that well, seemed like an odd side so would skip them if making again.

Marinated Duck Breast with Moroccan couscous, braised leeks & paprika oil – from Stephen ‘Fester’ Gates, Iron bar saloon restaurant/bar

4 duck breasts
½ cup sea salt


1 tbspn chinese five spice
2 tbspns ginger, grated
2 tbspns garlic, finely chopped
1 ½ tspns rice wine
1 tbspn sugar
½ cup olive oil

Braised leeks

4 leeks, white part only, washed & sliced
2 cups chicken stock
¼ cup white wine
2 tbspns lime juice
cracked black pepper


1 ½ cups couscous
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbspn butter
2 bocconcini cheese, chopped
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 large red chilli, seeded & finely chopped
½ dates, finely chopped
¼ semi-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
¼ roasted pecans, finely chopped
salt & pepper to taste

Paprika Oil

2 tspns paprika
¼ cup olive oil

To prepare the duck, sprinkle salt onto the skin of the duck and refrigerate overnight, uncovered to draw out the moisture.

To make the marinade, place all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl & mix well. Remove the salt from the duck & add to the marinade, refrigerate for 1 hour. Place the duck on a greased tray & bake in a 160c oven for 20 minutes, increase to 180c & cook for a further 10 minutes until the skin is crispy.

To prepare the leeks, place all the ingredients in a baking dish & cook for approx 35 mins or until soft.

To make the couscous, place the couscous in a bowl, pour over the boiling stock, cover for 5 mins or until the liquid is absorbed. Mix with a fork to separate the granules, then add the rest of the ingredients & mix well to combine. Place the paprika & oil in bowl to combine.

To serve, place the duck on top of couscous with leeks on the side. Drizzle the oil around the plate.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Pepper Steak with Rosemary Chips

Tonight I wanted to cook up something simple with the leftover Rump steak I had from our bbq last week. To give it a bit of a tweak I used this recipe from The Summer Donna Hay magazine. Very simple to thrown together & really delicious, I served the steak & chips with fresh cherry tomatoes, lettuce & cucumber from my mums garden, they were so bursting full of just picked, sun ripened flavour that I didn't even bother adding a dressing. Yum! Not bad for a tired Monday night

Pepper Steak with Rosemary Chips

4 desiree (waxt) potaotes, cut into wedges
1 tblspn olive oil
1 tblspn rosemary leaves (I used heaps more cut fresh from my herb shelf)
sea salt & cracked black pepper
2 x 500g rump steaks, trimmed
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper, extra
1 tbspn green peppercorns, drained & crushed
1 garlic clove, crushed
30g (1 oz) butter

Preheat oven to 200c. Place the potatoes in a baking tray with the oil, rosemary, salt & pepper & toss to combine. Cook for 20 minutes or until golden (mine took a bit longer). Set aside & keep warm.

Cut the steaks in half & place in a non-metallic bowl with the extra oil, pepper, green peppercorns & garlic & toss well to combine. Heat a large non stick frypan over high heat. Cook the steaks for 3-4 minutes each side or until cooked to your liking. Remove from the pan & keep warm. Add the butter to the pan & cook for 1 minute. Place the steaks on plates, top with butter & peppercorn mixture & serve with chips.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Chocolate Plum Cake

Today I baked this absolutely scrumptious chocolate plum cake ftom the Marie Claire Luscious book to take over to my mum & dads for an afternoon visit. I chose a recipe with plums as growing up my grandparents had some plum trees in the back yard so we were always eating plums, home made plum jam & plum cakes of course! As they have sadly left us we no longer have the pleasure of these treats anymore though I wanted tomake something using plums for nostalgic reasons.

The cake is heavenly, the plums almost completely breakdown into a syrup which seeps into the top of the cake & the sugar topping is so good you now it is doing very evil things to your waste line. We served it with double cream which was just perfect.

Chocolate Plum Cake

165g (3/4 cup firmly packed) dark brown sugar
280g (2 ¼ cups) plain flour
185g unsalted butter
2 tspns baking powder
3 tblspns dark cocoa powdeer
¼ tspn salt
230g (1 cup) castor sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
185ml (3/4 cup) milk
16 small plums (550g), stones removed, cut in half
ice cream or thick (double/heavy) cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 180c (350f). Put the brown sugar in a bowl with 30g (1/4 cup) of the flour & mix together. Add 3 tbspns of the cold butter (leave the rest at room temperature to soften) and rub the butter in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Sift the remaining flour into a mixing bowl along with the baking powder, cocoa & salt. Put the castor sugar and softened butter in a separate bowl & cream together using electric beaters, then add the eggs & mix well. Add half the flour mixture, then half the milk, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining milk.

Pour the cake batter into a greased 25cm (10 inch) spring-form cake tin & arrange plums on top cut side down. Sprinkle with the brown sugar mixture & bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove the cake form the oven & allow to cool before turning out of the tin. Serve with ice cream or cream.

Lime Marinated Fish & tomato rice Saturday 18th Feb 2006

Last night my lovely hubby graciously agreed to cook dinner for me as I had been like a mad woman all afternoon on the computer categorising this site by sweets, savoury & out & about & also by cookbook, I was still going at 6.00 & like a woman obessed refused to stop until the job was done. I had put off this mamoth task for so long that now that I had started knew I couldnt stop.

Luckily I had planned on throwing together some fish & rice using one of the simple Marie Claire recipes. When I met Michael his idea of cooking was taco's or chicken tonight, these were beatiful & romantic the first times he cooked them for me though now he has moved on as I slowly show him how to cook some simple yet delicous recipes from scratch! Amazing how most men like to say they cant cook yet its really only coz they have never tried. Michael manages to produce great results even though it still takes him a bit longer than you would expect & the kitchen is like a bomb has hit it when finished!

Lat nights effort from 'Zest' was really really yummy, the full savoury flavour of the tomato rice complimenting the lovely tanginess of the fish. Oh & by the way for the first time Michael didnt ask me what Kaffir lime leaves were & cut them straight of the tree!

Lime Marinated Fish

2 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
2 limes, juiced
1 red chilli, seeded & finely chopped
1 tspn fish sauce
2 tblspn grated fresh ginger
60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
80g (1 bunch) coriander
4 x 150g blue eye cod fillets

Put the lime leaves, juice, chillis, fish sauce, ginger & oil in a bowl & stir to combine. Remove the stems & roots from the coriander & wash carefully. Finely chop & stir into the marinade. Add the fish & toss until well coated. Cover & leave in the fridge to marinate (prepare the rice while marinating).

Heat a frying pan over medium heat & add the fish. Sear on one side for 3 minutes before turning over & cooking for a further 3 minutes or until cooked through.

Tomato rice

1 tbspn sesame oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 ripe tomatos, diced
1 cup basmati rice

Put the sesame oil into a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion & garlic & cook until the onion is soft & transparent. Add the tomatoes, rice & 1/2 tspn sea salt & stir for a minute before adding 375ml (1 1/2 cups) of water. Raise the heat & bring to the boil. Cover with a lid & reduce the heat to low. Leave covered for 20 minutes & then remove form heat.

Serve teh fish on top of rice & garnish with fresh coriander

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecakes Tuesday 14th Feb 06

Tomorrow after work I’m having a bbq for a few friends so wanted to make something sweet tonight to save the mad rush tomorrow. I chose these mini cheesecakes from a recent Delicious magazine as they seemed nice & casual which is what I wanted and they look fantastic as well. The addition of hot pink & bright yellow patty cases makes them even brighter & more attractive to look at. As for the taste, well the oreo base is one of the best cheesecake bases I have tasted in a while, I always love them rich & this is very rich so beware if you like your bases plain. Also the contrast of the base against the smooth creamy filling plus the hint of tart/sweetness from the raspberry puree all work wonderfully together. They are really rich though so lucky they come in small serves, a big hunk of this in cake format would be too much I think. Hope everyone likes them…

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecakes

Makes 12

1 cup (abt 10) finely ground Oreo biscuits (inc filling)
40g unsalted butter, melted
½ cup raspberries
2 tblspn icing sugar, sifted
375g cream cheese
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tspn vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 170c. Line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases.

Mix ground oreos with melted butter & divide mixture among paper cases, pressing down well. Bake for 5 minutes then remove & cool.

Mash raspberries to a pulp with the back of a fork. Strain through a sieve into a bowl, pressing down well, then discard seeds. Stir in the icing sugar.

Place the cream cheese in a bowl of an electric mixer, beat until light & fluffy. Add the sugar in a slow, steady stream, beating until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Pour mixture in cases, place small drops (approx ½ tspn) berry puree on top of cakes & use a skewer to carefully swirl through cheese mixture. Bake for 10-15 minutes until just set. Open oven door & allow cakes to cool completely in a switched off oven.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Vegetable Frittata Monday 13th Feb 06

Tonight I cooked up a frittata from the ‘A Slice of Port Douglas’ book. The recipe is from the Java Blue café. The end result was quite nice, lots of flavour, esp from the very sweet potato. However it was very fiddly having to cook each vege separately first so quite time consuming, would save this one for the weekend next time. On the other hand I have lots of leftovers so get a break tomorrow night. This is good as have a very busy valentines night, first I’m cooking up some mini cheesecakes for a bbq I’m having Wednesday night & then things will be getting hot & sweaty on the netball court, how romantic a night is that?

Vegetable Frittata

2 tbspns olive oil
4 zucchini, sliced
2 red onions, finely chopped
4 potatoes, thinly sliced
1 sweet potato, thinly sliced
8 eggs
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
12 cup grated tasty cheddar cheese
1 cup basil, finely chopped
¼ bunch chopped oregano
salt & pepper to taste
3 vine ripened tomatoes, sliced thinly
2 tbspns basil, shredded

Heat oil in a large frypan. Add zucchini & cook over a moderate heat for approx 2-3 minutes or until lightly golden. Arrange layer of zucchini in a greased baking dish. Add onion & sauté until soft. Sprinkle over zucchini. Cook potatoes for 8-10 minutes or until golden then repeat the process with the sweet potato. Arrange the potato & sweet potato over zucchini & onion.

Place eggs, cheeses, herbs, salt & pepper in a bowl & mix well. Pour mixture over layered vegetables. Place in a preheated oven at 180c for 45 minutes. Remove from oven & place the tomatoes on top, sprinkle with basil. Bake in oven for a further 10 minutes at 200c or until brown on top. Serve warm or cold.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Brunch Bread Sunday 12th Feb06

This morning a few of the girls came over for brunch. Melbourne finally turned on the sunshine for our QLD visitors so we set the big umbrella & chairs in the courtyard & settled in. I made the brunch bread form Jamie Oliver’s ‘Happy Days’ book which I have also seen him cook up on tv. Before I saw him make it I had always flicked passed this page with not much interest as I have a ‘too much trouble’ attitude towards making bread most of the time. Jamie cooking it up looked a breeze & absolutely scrumptious so thought this was the perfect opportunity to give it a go. It took a bit longer than Jamie made it look though it wasn’t all that difficult & the end result was amazing, it was a monster as you can see. The recipe says to feed 6, well there were 5 of us & some had seconds & we still only managed to get through about half, guess what Michael & I are having for dinner tonight? All in all, worked pretty well & as suggested would be great to take along to a picnic or similar.

Savoury Rolled Bread of Parma Ham, Egg, Cheese, and Basil

3 x 7g (1/4 oz) sachets dried yeast
1kg (2.2 lb) bread flour, plus extra flour, for dusting
1 pt tepid water
2 tbsp sea salt
3 tbsp sugar
10 slices parma ham
8 large organic egg, boiled for 8 minutes and shelled
400g (14 oz) cheese, (a mix of Cheddar, Parmesan, Fontina, mozzarella, or any leftovers that need to be used up), grated
2 handfuls fresh basil
sun-dried tomato
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh rosemary, leaves

Mix all the ingredients together and knead into a dough.
Roll the dough out into a long rectangular shape about 1/2 inch (1centimeter) thick, about 39 1/2 inches (1 meter) long and 7 to 8 inches (18 to 20 centimeters) wide.
Along the middle of the first piece of rolled out dough, lay out your Parma ham, eggs, cheese, basil, and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pull the dough over the filling so it forms what looks like a cannelloni shape.
Bring one end round to the other so that they join up. Pinch and pat the two ends together firmly to form a doughnut shaped bread. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and rosemary. Transfer to a baking tray and allow to proove for 15 minutes.

Dust with flour and place in a preheated 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) oven until golden, about 35 minutes.

Brekky At Ceres Sat 11th Feb 06

This weekend my friends Sam & Trace from Brisbane were down for the weekend to visit our dear friend Jane who has been in hospital with a nasty back injury. After picking them up from the airport we quickly ran over to Ceres for some brekky before heading to the hospital. I forgot that they are very plain eaters & not rally into 'hippy food' as they would call it.

We all had the scrambled eggs with sourdough taost, Trace & I had mushies on the side & Sam had baked beans.

The scrambled eggs, free range & organic as you would expect from ceres were made with some organic cream, very light & creamy & delicious to my taste buds, the sour dough was sprinkled with herb infused olive oil which again I thought added some gorgeous extra flavour rather than just slab of butter on top & the mushies on the side were lovley & fresh as you can see from the picture.

I love the food here & love the fact that the ingredients are all of the highest quality & fresh as can be. Sadly Sam & Tracey barely touched theirs as it was not 'normal' enough for them, ie the baked beans didnt come from a heinz tin & tasted weird (they were home made), Sam even claimed the eggs tasted different, apart from extra flavour & the creaminess I couldnt really pick them apart from 'ordinary' eggs myself, was very fuuny! Anyway next time they are in town will have to remember to take them somewhere more conventional! Myself I love this place & will definitely be back for more...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Chocolate Espresso Cookies Friday 10th Feb 2006

Tomorrow I have friends arriving from Brisbane & we’re all off to visit Jane in hospital so I thought it would be nice to make a little treat to take along. I pinched this recipe from Lex Culinaria. As you can see from the photo mine look nothing like her gorgeous batch, a lot flatter, maybe I shouldn’t have squashed them so much. However as promised they are a delightful little treat. I don’t like things that are too rich & sweet so the dark chocolate & coffee mixture really appealed to me. Heres the recipe straight from Lex…

Chocolate Espresso Cookies

225 grams bitter-sweet (semi-sweet) dark chocolate
50 grams (about 2 tablespoons) butter
1 egg, plus two egg whites
50 grams brown sugar
50 grams white sugar
30 ml crazy strong coffee
100 grams almond meal
60 grams flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Melt chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over medium heat. Whip eggs and sugar on high speed until pale and frothy, about 10 minutes. Stir chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Stir in coffee. Sift almonds, salt, flour and cinnamon together and mix into wet ingredients. Don't worry if your batter looks too runny to be cookie dough, it's supposed to look that way. Pour batter into a shallow plastic pan (one of those black plastic glad bake pans works well) and refrigerate for 3 or 4 hours, until the dough is chilled and firm. Roll dough into balls the size of a hard-boiled egg yolk. Dip each ball in sugar and then squash them flattish with the bottom of a glass or mug. If you'd rather not get your hands all sticky, you could roll the dough into a log, coat the log in sugar and slice cookie rounds from the log instead of making the balls. This should make 35 or 40 small cookies. Each cookie will run you about 70 Calories and 3 grams of fat.
You could reduce the fat and calorie count even more by using more flour and less almond meal and by substituting cocoa powder for some of the chocolate. Just remember to add a bit more sugar if you do that, as the semi-sweet chocolate has sugar in it that cocoa does not.
Bake in a 325F oven for 12 minutes.

Grilled T-bone steak with garlic & anchovy butter Thursday 9th Feb 2006

Lat night we had what I would call real 'man' food, a great big t-bone, baked spud, beans & mushies. Michael was so happy he even assisted in the cooking, basically I made the butter & threw the spuds in the oven & he did the rest, was nice to be able to take a break & get some other things done while Michael finished off. The recipe which was for the steak, butter & mushrooms came from 'Surfing the menu' by Ben O'Donoghue & Curtis Stone, this is the original book, I love watching their show on abc so much that I had to have at least one of the books, has some great recipes.

Now even though this was simple steak, potato & veg, the addition of the garlic & anchovy butter plus the mushrooms gave it that little something extra to lift it up a notch from a boring meal into something really tatsy & I have lots of leftover butter for the next couple of weeks, yum! The recipe as you will see is to serve 4 & uses 250g butter, I quartered this & we still didnt use even half of the butter, I guess it depends on how far you are willing to go, trust me, the flavour is very intense & you really did not need to add that much butter to you steak.

Grilled T-bone with garlic & anchovy butter

Curtis Stone 'I have always loved cooking meat on the bone. The meat keeps a certain sweetness, and lends itself to a relaxed stlye of eating - or perhaps it's just me who loves gnawing on the bone. I also find that anchovies work particilarly well with hearty meats, such as beef or lamb.'

250g unsalted butter, softened
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 lightly salted anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 large shallot (eschalot), finely chopped
2 tblspns finely chopped flat leaf parsley
salt & freshly ground pepper
1 tblspn olive oil
4 x 450g T Bone steaks
5 large field mushrooms, thickly sliced
2 1/2 tblspns worcestershire sauce
4 anchovy fillets, halved lengthways to garnish

Place the butter, garlic, anchovies, shallot & parsley in a bowl & season with salt & pepper. Beat together until smooth. Take a large sheet of glad wrap & spoon the butter in a rough log shape towards one end. Roll up the butter, pressing it into a firm, thick sausage as you go. Roll the sausage on the bench to give a smooth surface, then transfer to the fridge to harden.

Brush the steaks with the oil. Fry in a hot pan over a moderately high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side or to your liking. Cut off 4 disks of butter & place on top of each steak. Remove the pan & rest the steak for 3-4 minutes in a warm place before serving.

Meanwhile, heat another pan & get it very hot. Add the mushrooms & worcestershire sauce. Stir to deglaze for 1-2 minutes. Stack the mushrooms in the centre of 4 serving plates & place a t-bone on top of each pile. Place 2 trips of anchovy in a cross on the steaks & serve.

Note - any leftover butter will keep in fridge for 10 days & in freezer for 3 months.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Chicken Baked in Limoncello Monday 6th Feb 06

Monday night I cooked up this fabulous chicken from the Delicious 2006 Diary. The recipe also came with Zucchini 'spaghetti' which I also made. The zucchini was nothing special & in my opinion was way too buttery & oily - yes you can have too much of a good thing, though maybe it was just my cooking, anyway I am omitting the recipe for the zucchini. The chicken however was really very nice, the limoncello plus lemon thyme plus lemon juice all gave it a wonderful lemony (derr) taste that beleive it or not was not overpowering. The chicken also had the skin on, I know very wicked & was baked so had a lovely crispy texture on top to add to the lot. I would serve this with mash & greens if making again. Here is the recipe. Note I didnt have the wing bone attached as hard enough to buy chicken with skin on let alone with a wing too at my local shopping complex! Photo omitted as really either need a new camera or some serious lessons, ie blurry photos...

Chicken baked in limoncello

4 x 180g chicken breasts with skin on, wing bone attached
8 garlic cloves
Pared rind & juice of 2 large lemons
6 sprigs lemon thyme
1 cup (250ml) limoncello
50g unsalted butter
2 tbs olive oil

Plce chicken in a non-metallic dish with garlic, rind & juice, thyme & limoncello, cover & chill for one hour.

Preheat oven to 180c. Heat butter & oil in a large heavy based frypan over high heat. Remove chicken from marinade (reserve marinade) & brown for 2-3 minutes each side. Place skin side up in a baking tray & roas for 10 minuts or until cooked through.

Return frypan to medium heat, ad reserved marinade (including garlic & herbs) & stir for 5 minutes to reduce. Remove chicken from oven & rest for 5 minutes. Place on a serving plate, pour over sauce.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Cajun Daintree Barramundi with Kipfler Potato Salad, Jelly Coconut Sambal & Cumquat Sauce

Tonight I decided to whip up another creation from the ‘A Slice of Port Douglas’ cookbook. This recipe was not so much difficult as very fiddly, lots of pots & pans used, luckily I didn’t get stuck with the washing up too. The other thing was that I had trouble sourcing some of the ingredients & in fact didn’t end up finding jelly coconut, can you even get this in Victoria, would love to hear from anyone that knows where? The cumquats I could not buy anywhere either & have since come to the conclusion that they only grow in peoples back yards & are not for sale. Luckily the fruit & veg man at DJ’s who I was asking for these from had a tree at home & promised to pick some for me & bring them in. So I went back the next day & sure enough he had them there waiting for me after apparently picking them at 3 in the morning by the light of his mobile phone torch. It’s very refreshing to find someone so helpful & willing to go out of their way for no profit just to help a total stranger, very impressed. After all of that the end result was really good & especially the potato salad, the lime mayo was excellent & the first I have made from scratch. Was always under the impression that they were very time consuming yet this only took me a couple of minutes to whip up, another first for me & will be looking to make more now that I know they are so easy.

Cajun Daintree Barramundi with Kipfler Potato Salad, Jelly Coconut Sambal & Cumquat Sauce

4 x 180g barramundi
2 tbspns Cajun spice
1 bunch fresh asparagus

Potato Salad

4 garlic cloves
Olive oil & 2 egg yolks
1 tspn Dijon mustard
Juice of 2 limes & 2 kaffir lime leaves, julienned
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup grape seed oil
600g Kipfler potatoes
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
1 spanish onion, thinly sliced

Coconut Sambal

200g jelly coconut
1/3 cup coconut cream
1 tspn fish sauce
½ red capsicum & ½ spanish inion, very finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped coriander
1 tbspn sweet chilli sauce
1 tbspn sesame oil

Cumquat Sauce

1kg cumquat
½ cup orange juice
2 cardamon pods
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon quill
½ cup sugar
50g butter

To prepare the salad, place garlic on a baking tray & drizzle with olive oil & bake in a 180c oven for 10 minutes or until soft. Place garlic, egg yolks, mustard, lime juice, lime leaves, salt & pepper in a food processor & process for 10 seconds. With the motor still running, add the oil in a thin stream. When mixture starts to thicken you can add the oil faster. Continue to process until the mayo is thick & creamy. Place potatoes in a pot of salted boiling water & cook until tender. Refresh in cold water. Slice thickly & combine with mayo, capsicum & onion.

To make the sambal, combine all ingredients in a bowl & mix to combine.

To prepare the cumquat sauce, place all ingredients (minus butter) in a saucepan & bring to the boil. Reduce heat & simmer uncovered until liquid is reduced by half. Strain. Add butter just before serving.

Boil or steam asparagus for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Coat the barramundi with Cajun spice & cook in a heated frypan with olive oil, approx 2 minutes each side until cooked.

To serve, place potato salad on a plate with the asparagus then top with barramundi & sambal, Drizzle the sauce over the top.

The Boathouse Maribyrnong - Lunch Sun 5th Feb 06

This afternoon Michael & I were off to visit a friend in the Western hospital so we thought we would stop by the Maribyrnng river for a bit of a walk along the river on our way. Leaving the house we realised we hadn't had lunch & were very hungry so we stopped at The Boathouse for lunch. Have noticed this place but never tried it out before, we were both very impressed. The decor was gorgeous inside & out, very modern with a large open indoors including a couch area around a huge fireplace that looked like it would be perfect to kick back with friends for a few drinks. We ate outside in the sun as it was such a lovely day. Service was very quick & we decided to share 2 entrees, the salt & pepper squid & a tapas plate. Note that the menu on the website has changed, though same basic layout, dishes available. The squid was perfect with a lightly spiced crumbing served on a bed of some sort of exotic leaf I didnt recognise as well as parsley, sesame seeds, shallots & dressing. The tapas included long thing turkish bread sticks, home made hommus, tzatziki, chorizo, lamb koftas & olives, scrumptious. As we were not expecting to be dining anywhere so nice once again I didnt bring my camera along, sorry, will take it every time I leave the house now I promise (to try at least). Will definitely go back to The boathouse again & with a very empty stomach & maybe even try the mains next time.

BBQ at our place Saturday 4th Feb 06

Last night we had a couple of friends over for a bbq. It was a beautiful Melbourne day & quite a mild night so we were able to sit outside in my courtyard which is nice & protected from the wind. I love being able to eat outside, surrounded by my garden which I have put a lot of work into, nice seeing all of the flowers in bloom & smelling their fresh scents. Us girls did wrap up in some blankets by about 11 though as it was getting quite chilly by then.

Onto the food, to start with we had some bruschette. I followed Jamie Oliver’s advice & after toasting the sour dough on the grill I first rubbed it with a clove of garlic, then drizzled olive oil & sprinkled a bit of salt. I then topped with a mixture of chopped tomatoes (deseeded), Spanish onion, basil, olive oil, white wine vinegar & salt & pepper. The garlic rubbed on gave quite an intense flavour which I loved & everyone commented on (positively too!).

For the barbie I did a few different things. I always find that I do way too much food as I’m never happy to settle for 1 meat or even 2 so this time I tried to keep the amount of each dish quite small. In the end every morsel was eaten even if some of it was by Mojo my adorable cat, so for the first time ever I judged pretty well, no leftovers for the next 3 days!

The grill consisted of some good old Coles snags so there was something plain for Jasmine who is only 3, some Spanish chorizo sausages for a bit of spice, some chicken thighs which I marinated in a mustard sauce from a bbq 6 pack of condiments I rec’d for xmas, & some lovely lamb kebabs I made up. The chicken was great & very tender, I used to do all my chicken with breast fillets until someone put me onto thighs, much more tender & they don’t have the same tendency to dry out that fillets do. And the lamb was just gorgeous & so easy to make, will make these again for sure. Congratulations & a big thanks to Michael for doing the bbq-ing too!

I served this with some bread for the snags, a salad of mixed lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, boccocini & an avocado dressing, tomato sauce for the boys, & some relish for the girls. What is it about boys & barbies that means that even though normally their tastes are quite open for a bbq they insist on the basics, oh well we all have our ways I guess. Dessert was the frozen meringue from the previous post

Made up the kebabs from a recipe in the ‘Women’s Weekly great bbq food’ book . I find this book pretty good for basic bbq ideas.

Lamb kebabs with baba ghanoush

1kg minced lamb
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh coriander
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
200g prepared baba ghanoush

Combine mince, herbs & spices, egg yolk & garlic in a large bowl

Roll tablespoons of mixture into oval shapes, shape 2 pieces of mince mixture onto each skewer

Cook kebabs on heated oiled bbq until browned all over & cooked as desired

Serve with baba ghanoush

** If using bamboo skewers , soak for at least 1 hour in water before using to avoid scorching

Nectarine & Limoncello Meringue Slice Saturday 4th Feb 2006

Having a bbq tonight so last night I whipped up this slice from Allan Campion & Michele Curtis’ 2006 Seasonal Produce diary The meringue part was very easy which surprised me as I have had trouble with meringues in the past, maybe I have finally mastered them, hooray! However when it came time to sandwich the whole thing together the filling was quite runny & kept slopping over the sides. Now that it is frozen it is fine & all holding together though as you can see from the photo prob doesn’t look as good as it should! If I make this again I would prob try & make the meringues slightly concave so that I could fill them & save the mixture running out. Also because of the runniness there was only so much I could use & there is a lot of leftover filling which I have frozen, will just have to eat it later as ice cream. Will give you the recipe now & comments on the tasting to follow

Nectarine and Limoncello meringue slice

This slice is best made the day before or at least early on the day you want to serve it. The meringue doesn’t freeze completely so you get a beautiful crisp texture, with the contrast of a creamy filling.

4 egg whites
300 g caster sugar
6 nectarines
60ml (1/4 cup) Limoncello
4 eggs, separated
55g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
250g mascarpone

Preheat oven to 160c

Line 3 baking trays with baking paper. Roughly draw a 10cm x 20cm rectangle onto each.

Beat egg whites until stiff. Add caster sugar, a third at a time, and continue beating until the meringue is glossy & firm.

Divide mixture between the 3 trays, spreading mixture to reach the four corners of each rectangle. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Turn oven off and leave to cool for 30 minutes more.

Dice 2 nectarines into 1cm chunks. Marinate in Limoncello for at least 40 minutes. Beat the 4 egg yolks with the 55g caster sugar. Beat in mascarpone until smooth. Add diced nectarines & Limoncello. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Whisk one spoonful through Limoncello mixture & then carefully fold remaining egg white through.

Lay 1 meringue as a base on a tray that will fit in the freezer. Spoon half the mixture on top spreading out to the corners. Add another meringue layer, the remaining mixture & then the final meringue layer. Cover loosely & freeze for at least 6 hours before serving, preferably overnight.

To serve, slice remaining 4 nectarines. Remove meringue from freezer, cut slices to suit, arrange on plate, garnish with nectarine slices.

Ok so now we have eaten the cake the verdict is delicious though a bit messy, I couldn’t seem to slice it & keep it in once piece. The meringue as promised was fantastic frozen, nice & chewy & a perfect match for the creamy frozen filling which will be very nice served as ice cream with some fresh fruit.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Mecca Bah Docklands Thursday 2nd Feb

Last night I caught up with a few friends for dinner, Docklands was decided on & I suggested we try out Mecca Bah as had heard lots of good things about it. So I walked on over after work to meet the girls there. The décor was nice enough though nothing flash, we were seated on a simple table in the middle overlooking the water. The boys were not meeting us til later so we thought we would start slowly with a drink. We started off with a bottle of 04 Freycinet Riesling, from Tasmania which was recommended by the waitress when we enquired which of the Rieslings was dry & good of course, it was very fresh & not at all sweet (I can’t stand the sweeter style of some Rieslings), we all really enjoyed it & decided to stick with it all night, when you’re onto a good thing why change! A couple of glasses & we all started getting a bit tipsy so ordered the dips & bread which turned out to be hommos – a very dry version though still good, tzatziki, delicious & a fantastic Baba Ganoush, the smoky flavour was intense & I love them this way, all served with some Turkish bread, was a good start & soaked up some of the alcohol while we were drinking & waiting for the boys.

Michael soon arrived so we had one boy on board. A phone call determined that the last to arrive was still at least an hour away so we moved onto some mezze to share. We had Spicy Turkish kofte with yoghurt sauce - lovely, sweet potato felafels with tahini sauce - these were especially good & nice to try an old favourite with a bit of a difference, Lebanese sausages and spicy chickpeas & abeetroot & yoghurt salad – this salad sounds so simple yet was a real hit with all, it was fantastic, basically from what we could tell it combined rocket, roasted beetroot, an olive oil & vinegar dressing & the yoghurt, all of these flavours married together beautifully, will try & recreate this at home I think.

Ok so soon after the mezze we were through with the second bottle of wine & ready for another as well as the mains, one more phone call & we were assured that the missing person was only ½ an hour away so we could order the mains, yippee! I went for the Lamb Tagine with preserved lemon, green olive, harissa & couscous. This was served in a gorgeous traditional Tagine Dish which looked like it came straight out of the Bazaar, I must buy some of these one day when I have my dream kitchen & lots more cupboard space! The lamb was melt in the mouth falling apart & the dish on a whole was a great choice. Everyone else was happy with their choices as well.

As you can imagine their was not much room left after this though we still couldn’t resist sharing 3 scoops of ice cream as the flavours sounded divine. Date & Vanilla – very unusual & nice, Middle Eastern Halva ice-cream – this was a real surprise for me, I don’t usually like Halva & I think it must be the texture that disagreed as the same flavours in ice cream were sensational - a must try, lastly Turkish coffee ice-cream, as you can imagine very good also.

Overall it was a great meal, the service was excellent, prices not too high, would go back again & definitely recommend it.

PS – Sorry no pics, forgot the camera