Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sweet Chicken & Corn Soup

This weeks soup is a classic Chinese recipe from Kylie Kwong’s Simple Chinese Cooking. I remember as a child going down to the local Chinese shop with the family I would always have this or short (wonton) soup to start with. Interesting to make it myself. I must confess as it was a work night I used ready made liquid stock as the batch I made ages ago has sadly run out by now & couldn’t be bothered making Kylie’s as suggested. The soup was really nice though I would say just a touch on the salty side so would reduce the salt or soy next time. Much nicer & of course very fresh tasting as opposed to the local Chinese.

Sweet Chicken & Corn Soup

4 cobs sweet corn
1 small white onion
1 garlic clove
5cm knob ginger
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup shao hsing wine or dry sherry
7 cups Light Chinese Chicken Stock
200g chicken breast, cur widthways into 1cm strips
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon finely sliced spring onion

Remove kernels from corn cobs by running a sharp knife down the sides of each cob. Peel & finely dice onion & garlic. Peel ginger and cut into thin slices and then into fine strips.

Heat oil in a medium sized heavy based pot & sauté onion, ginger & garlic for 1 minute. Add wine or sherry and simmer for further minute or until liquid has reduced to half. Stir in the corn & stock & bring to the boil. Reduce the heat & simmer for 30 minutes. Skim off any impurities (if using real stock!)

Stir through chicken & soy sauce & simmer for a further minute. Lower heat & slowly pour beaten egg into soup in a thin stream, stirring constantly with a fork. Remove soup from the stove as soon as you see the egg forming ‘ribbons’

Serve in bowls & garnish with spring onions.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Weekend Herb Blogging - Fennel, Chilli & Rosemary roast pork

I thought I would cook up a Sunday roast using some fresh rosemary from my herb shelf & finally participate in weekend herb blogging # 38 which Virginie from Absolutely Green is recapping this week. I absolutely love rosemary, it is one of my favourite herbs & it's so easy to grow that I have it handy all year round. I love it with roasts - lamb, pork & it gives the roast veggies an extra lift in flavour too, in pasta sauces, with fish, all in all a very versatile & flavoursome herb.

This recipe comes from a recent food magazine, I can’t remember which one as I rip them out for later use, sorry. I also served this with some roast potato, pumpkin & parsnip. Well the pork was scrumptious, I love fennel & the flavour of the fennel salt was really strong but not overpowering, so good that I would make the salt again & even just use as a rub on pork chops, really good.

Fennel, Chilli & Rosemary Roast Pork

1kg pork rack (8 cutlets)
Olive oil for rubbing
Sea salt for rubbing
3 teaspoons fennel seeds
3 dried chillies
3 teaspoons sea salt, extra
2 tablespoons rosemary leaves
3 brown pears, halved

Preheat the oven to 220c. Pat the pork rack dry with absorbent towels. Use the point of a small, sharp knife to score the skin into thin strips & rub with oil & salt. Place the fennel, chillies, salt & rosemary in a small frying pan over medium heat. Cook for 1 - 2 minutes or until aromatic. Place in the bowl of a small food processor & process until combined. Rub the fennel salt over the pork rack & cut into four double cutlets. Place the cutlets on a wire rack in a metal baking dish & roast for 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to 200c. Add the pears to the bottom of the baking dish & cook for a further 10-12 minutes or until the pork skin is crispy and cooked to your liking and the pears are tender. Serves 4.

Chocolate Brazil Soft Baked Biscuits

These bickies are from Green & Black’s Chocolate Recipes, love the chocolate now I have the book, hope the recipes are all as luscious as the chocolate itself. I found the dough was a bit difficult. After 1 tablespoon of milk it was still a little dry so added a bit more, then it was a bit too sticky so threw in some extra flour. It then seemed the right consistency though it was still quite difficult to roll. Anyhow cut the cookies & got to the baking, the first batch seemed a bit overdone after 20 minutes so cut down the time to about 16-17 minutes for the second tray which seemed more like it. In the end they tasted pretty good but I found them to be a little dry, I prefer my cookies on the moist & chewy side. They are for the boys at work so will have to wait & see what the verdict is from them!

Chocolate Brazil Soft Baked Biscuits

75g unsalted butter
60g caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten
175g wholemeal self-raising flour
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk
75g dark chocolate, minimum 60% cocoa solids, roughly chopped
75g milk chocolate, pref 34% cocoa solids, roughly chopped
50g brazil nuts, chopped
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease a baking sheet with melted butter

Cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl until light & fluffy. Beat in the egg. Sift the flour once, returning the bran to the sifted flour, then fold it into the mixture. The bran gives a distinctive texture & flavour to the biscuits. Beat well, adding the vanilla extract and sufficient milk to make a pliable dough. Mix it with your hands, adding the milk in stages until the dough is fairly soft, but not sticky. Add the chopped chocolate, nuts & salt and distribute evenly through the dough. Roll out on to a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about 5mm. Stamp into rounds & place biscuits, spaced well apart, on the greased baking sheet.

Bake in the centre of the oven for about 20 minutes. Watch carefully so they don’t overcook. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 20

Small Block, East Brunswick - Brekky

Sunday morning breakfast at Small Block in Brunswick. Once again we felt like a morning walk & what better way to do it than with a brekky stop in the middle. I’ve been here many times before & never disappointed. The place is always packed & usually a wait on the stairs is the way to go before scoring a table. Today we were lucky & there was a table available outside & the sun was shining so it was actually nice, even for a winters day. The only problem today was that a few customers were letting their dogs run riot off their leashes & they all seemed to want to jump on me or slap me with their tails, not the cafes fault but really wish dog owners would keep their pets under control especially if they are bugging the other customers.

Today I had the baked eggs with tomato, chorizo & saffron ragout, this was served with some toast & was delicious, have never tried this dish before, the eggs on top were delicious & even though baked still nice & gooey. Underneath was a lovely mix of tomatoes, chorizo, onions, saffron & olives, great combination. Michael had the scrambled eggs with pesto & fetta, I’ve had this before & it’s a great full of flavour egg scramble. To drink as well as coffees I had a Phoenix Organic apple & pear juice from New Zealand, these are great juices so try one if you ever come across them. Anyway all in all I love Small block & have never had a bad feed here, I think its all excellent quality & the choices are a bit different from the usual which gets another thumbs up for the place too. Friendly staff & quick service complete the picture.

Small Block
130 Lygon Street
Brunswick East
9381 2244

The Rose Hotel, Go Pies!

Saturday night we thought it was time for some real footy, Aussie rules that is! With all of the focus on the World cup at the moment it seems to be the forgotten game. Don’t get me wrong, I too have been getting up early to watch the games & spending my days at work bleary eyed, but The Pies were up & a night at the pub was called for. So Michael, Myself & Jimbo headed down to The Rose in Fitzroy for a good old fashioned Aussie pub meal. I went right down memory lane & had a chicken kiev, something that was on every pub menu in my youth & an old favourite. For those of you who are not familiar with the kiev, it is a breast of chicken stuffed with loads of garlic butter which oozes out all over the place when cut into, all crumbed & deep fried, yum, how bad is that? This was served with chips & salad & for $11 I would have to say pretty darn good value. What can I say, it was very good, hard to stuff up but you would be amazed what some over or undercooking or bad oil can do to this beast of a dish. The boys had chicken parma & steak which when asked for comments, the parma was ok but had better & the steak for $14 was what you would expect, not bad but a bit of gristle included. Anyway I was satisfied & the pies won too! Great pub for a quick simple meal & a game of footy.

The Rose Hotel
406 Napier Street
9417 3626

Friday, June 23, 2006

Mushroom Soup

This recipe is by Gordon Ramsay as it appeared in last months Delicious magazine. It is supposed to be made with Madeira which I didn’t have handy so substituted sherry as suggested as well as a couple of other little tweaks. I like the fact that as well as the mushies it contains lots of other veggies so nice & healthy. It turned out to be quite thick & tasty, another great winter warmer even though its not very pretty to look at.

Wild Mushroom Soup

1 litre chicken stock
½ cup medium dry sherry
50g unsalted butter
3 leeks (white part only), finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
1 tspn crushed coriander seeds
Leaves of 4 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
500g mixed wild mushrooms, roughly chopped
100ml crème fraiche
Truffle oil, to drizzle

Combine the stock & sherry in a saucepan and boil until mixture is reduced by one quarter or until you have 800ml. Set aside until needed.

Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Cook the leek, onion, celery & carrot for 6-8 minutes until the onion is translucent & vegetables are soft. Add the reduced stock, coriander, thyme & bay leaf & simmer for 10 minutes. Add mushrooms & cook for 3-4 minutes until just soft.

Remove the pan from the heat, discard the bay leaf, then puree with a hand held blender. Top with crème fraiche & drizzle with truffle oil to serve.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Grilled Steaks with Wild rocket and Rosemary potatoes

Tonight was a no brainer from Bill Granger’s Bills Food. Normally I wouldn’t post something this simple but as it was form one of my books I though I better add it to my recipe/cook book lists. The recipe calls for sirloin steaks, I just grabbed my usual eye fillets as I find you can’t go wrong with these. As you can probably see the steak was beautiful, moist & tender, the potatoes beaut & crispy & the rocket & lemon mix a perfect offset.

Grilled Steaks with Wild rocket and Rosemary potatoes

4 Steaks, about 2.5cm thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Rocket, rinsed
60ml lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Remove steaks from the fridge & bring to room temperature. Brush with olive oil & season with salt & pepper. Heat a large frying pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Sear the steaks for 2 minutes on each side, by which time they will be done rare, if you don’t do rare then obviously cook a bit longer.

Remove form the pan & allow to rest for 5 minutes in a warm place. Place the rocket, lemon juice, olive oil & a little salt in a bowl & toss to combine. Divide among serving plates. Slice the steaks into thick slices & place on top of the rocket with the potatoes. Pour over any escaped juices over the meat from the steaks too!

Rosemary potatoes

1 kg potatoes, cut into 2cm dice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 200c. Place the potatoes, olive oil & rosemary in a bowl and toss. Place in a single layer on a baking tray & bake for 1 hour, or until crispy. Don’t stir for the first 40 minutes, then gently loosen with a metal spatula. Season with salt & pepper when ready to serve.

Confessions in Groups of Five

Pamela at Posie’s Place tagged me for this meme and with a spare few moments to kill have managed to fill it all out so you now all have some weird & useless facts about my life

5 items in the freezer

1. Frozen espresso cubes for making mad cocktails as suggested by Matt at Abstract Gourmet

2. Plastic Beer stein/mug picked up at Oktoberfest many years ago that has liquid surrounding it that freezes to keep your drinks cold on hot summer days – never actually remember to pull it out & use it though

3. Wine cooler that works in similar manner to above, has cute pictures of Italian waiters running around it & yes this one does get used a lot in summer

4. Lots of frozen soup to take to work for lunch on cold Winters days, I try & make at least one huge batch a week & freeze the leftovers in portions

5. Lots of ice, seems that the freezer wants defrosting every other week – freezer doesn’t get what freezer wants all that often though!

5 items in my closet

1. A Mermaid costume from a fancy dress ‘M’ party a couple of years back, I cant bear to part with it as so many hours of effort went into making it & it was always my dream to find an excuse to dress up as a mermaid

2. Two fancy hats in boxes from race days that I will never wear again

3. A hell of a lot of shoes, big weakness

4. Not many Michael clothes (have hogged the majority of space!)

5. A whole section stuffed full of cute little ‘going out handbags’, another weakness

5 items in my car

1. Picnic blanket & chairs for spontaneous picnicking – has not happened yet though!

2. CD’s of course

3. Melways – who hasn’t got one sitting in the car?

4. Dirt from shipping home plants from Bunning’s that always manage to tip over

5. Not much else, don’t drive very often so haven’t managed to accumulate much crap

5 items in my purse

1. Too many credit cards – not that they do much good as more times than not they are up to the limit!

2. Money – Although disappointingly never as much as I would like to see in there

3. Action photo of Michael & I dancing up a storm at our engagement party

4. Drivers License

5. Medicare Card

Feel free to take part if you want to share the intimate details of your life

Monday, June 19, 2006


Sunday night my lovely husband took me out for dinner to Taxi for our 6 year anniversary (dating 6 yrs not married – yes I know I am milking as many dates as possible for fancy dinners & special treatment), I have been dying to go here for ages so yes it was my choice & not his. When we arrived at the entrance, which if you don’t know is also the Transport bar entrance, I had my handbag searched, guess they were not taking any chances on the crowds expected to arrive to watch the Oz v Brazil game later that night which we did not hang around for & luckily as a sad loss for us. Also they checked our reservation so that when we arrived upstairs they were waiting for us which was a nice touch. I have to say the service we received all night was very special & impressive, not often one comes away from a restaurant being able to say that I find. The ambience was lovely & romantic, soft lighting, funky music, nice & warm – nothing worse than a cold restaurant where you have to keep your jacket on to stay warm! I was seated on one of those long couches they have with Michael seated opposite, this was great in that I love the old couch seat, very comfy & I had the added bonus of being able to look out & see all of the city lights.

On to the food, to start with we were brought some bread rolls, which they also kept offering us all night – another nice touch not having to beg for extra bread. Then after we had placed our orders – which took a very, very long time as so much delicious sounding food to choose from, we were brought an appetiser – a shot of Carrot, ginger & 7 spices soup – was fantastic & wish I had the recipe, would make a great winter warmer soup. Next I had the Salad of Masterstock pork belly & quail with apple puree, again very nice & the apple puree the pork was placed on made a great accompaniment. For the main I had one of the specials of the day, Half a duck steamed & roasted, rubbed with schezuan spices, served on from what I can remember a salad that contained shredded pumpkin, mint & pink grapefruit amongst other things. I am a big sucker for duck & if its on a menu will order it 9 times out of 10 so have very hight standards, it very tasty & cooked to perfection, not to dry, not to pink & lovely crispy spiced skin. After this I was pretty much full but of course there was no way I was leaving without sampling some dessert from the menu, this turned out to be a very wise decision as my choice was to die for & the best course yet. I had the Cuban Dark chocolate & macadamia mille feuille, absolutely luscious & I nearly had to pick up the plate & lick it clean. Not a cheap night but great if you want something a bit special, wish I could go every week!

Level 1, Transport Hotel
Federation Square, Melbourne
Ph: 9654 8808

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Pappardelle with Dried Porcini and Thyme, Tomato and Mascarpone Sauce

Saturday night Michael was kind enough to take over the cooking duties for a change & cooked up this lovely simple pasta for our dinner. The recipe comes from Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef, a book as you can see has been used greatly in my kitchen. Very nice & simple pasta esp as we didn’t bother making the pasta from scratch as suggested – no energy to go that far this weekend, and managed to use up the porcini I have had sitting in my pantry for a while now.

Pappardelle with Dried Porcini and Thyme, Tomato and Mascarpone Sauce

55g Dried Porcini
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 good handful of thyme, picked
¾ tomato sauce recipe (see below)
2 tablespoons mascarpone
salt & freshly ground black pepper
455g Pappardelle
fresh parmesan cheese, grated

Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl & add about 285ml boiling water. Make sure all the mushrooms are submerged, and leave them for 10-15 minutes.

Put the olive oil & garlic in a thick-bottomed, semi hot pan & allow to cook without colouring. Pick out the soaked porcini (reserving the liquid), shake off any excess moisture & ass to the pan with the thyme. Stir & fry. As the garlic begins to colour, gently pour in some of the reserved liquid, don’t use the dregs as they may contain dirt, just gently pur in ¾ & discard the rest. Allow the mushrooms to cook down gently to nearly nothing & then ad the tomato sauce. Add the mascarpone & taste for seasoning. Meanwhile cook the Pappardelle until al dente. Add to the sauce & toss. Serve with grated parmesan

Basic Tomato Sauce
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small dried red chilli, crumbled
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 x 400g tins of Italian plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 handful of basil or marjoram (or both), roughly chopped
salt & freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

In a thick-bottomed pan gently fry the garlic with the olive oil, then add the chilli, oregano & tomatoes. Mix gently, but do not break up the tomatoes as this will release the pips, which will make the sauce slightly bitter – by leaving the tomatoes whole & letting the mixture cook slowly you’ll get a nice sweet sauce. Bring to the boil & simmer gently for 1 hour. Add the vinegar, then stir & chop up the tomatoes in the sauce. Now add the vinegar, then stir & chop the tomatoes in the sauce. Now add your fresh herbs, season well to taste, and add 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

A Minor Place & A Sensational Brekky

After a big Friday night out on the town yesterday morning (afternoon!) I went for a walk down the streets for a big brekky at A Minor Place, have been dying to try this out for a while now. This tiny café is on Albion street not near much of anything so very easy to miss if you don’t know about it. I had an iced coffee to start with which was really lovely, then moved on to the Minor Breakfast. This consisted of toasted organic sour dough topped with grilled ham, perfectly done poached eggs, grilled tomato, spinach & Henry’s beans. I don’t know who Henry is but I would kill for the recipe for his beans, I could not tell at all what was in them – I know very bad for someone who loves to cook so much, but I would go back here for the beans alone. Everything else was also very yummy & the café had a very cosy, friendly feel inside. Feel I may be back again soon. One of my top breakfast places for now.

A Minor Place
103 Albion Street
9384 3131

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Thursday night I caught a movie after work at Crown so grabbed a quick bite beforehand at the ever reliable Automatic. The place is a bit of a fave of mine, the food is good, not too expensive & always quick, the place is nice & funky too.

Rach had the pumpkin, goats cheese & pine nut pizza which as you can see looks sensational. I had the chicken tikka with Rotti & mango Chutney. The flavour of the tikka was lovely & rich though it was a touch on the oily side as was the rotti. The mango chutney was great & packed quite a punch.

Rach felt like a bit of dessert next & made the mistake of telling them she was eating for 2, can you see the size of the pie, when it arrived people on tables near & far gasped in shock, one even coming over to comment, needless to say not even half was eaten & I helped out a bit too. It was a really good apple pie with lots of ginger which gave it a nice zing.

Crown Casino
9690 8500

Monday, June 12, 2006

Zuppa di Zucca (Pumpkin Soup)

Another soup from the River Café cook book. All of this crazy cold weather we have been having has given me cravings for good hearty winter soups. This was a slight variation on the normal pumpkin soup I make & the little extras really helped to lift the flavour, it was very thick, the chilli gave it a nice zing & the handful of parmesan I threw in at the end gave it a nice creamy texture too. Also I used a 'Barbara' pumpkin which I picked up from Ceres, it was the shape of a butternut with the dark green striped skin similar to a jap & nice & orange on the inside. Another great soup from this book

Zuppa di Zucca (Pumpkin Soup)

1.5kg pumpkin, peeled, seeded & diced into 5cm cubes
150g new potatoes, peeled & cubed as above
3 tablespoons olive oil
50g butter
2 small red onions, peeled & finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled & cut into slivers
4 large sprigs fresh marjoram
1-2 dried chillies
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 litre Chicken stock

Heat the oil & butter in a large heavy based saucepan & gently fry the onion until soft. Stir in the garlic & marjoram, pumpkin & potato, & continue to cook for a minute. Season with the chilli, salt & pepper. Add enough stock to just cover the pumpkin, simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 20-25 minutes. Add more stock if necessary. Puree with a hand held blender & adjust seasoning to taste.

French Toast ala Ange

This morning for a lazy Queens Birthday morning I whipped up some french toast the way my family has always made it, with cheese on top! Seriously after eating it this way all my life I cant imagine having it sweet or with bacon & maple syrup, that just seems wrong to me.

The way I make it is to dip some bread in milk, then dip in beaten eggs, then pop it into a hot oiled frypan & fry on both sides until crisp & golden. Then serve with grated tasty cheese on top, try it someday, yum!

Breakfast at Mario's

Yesterday I caught up with a friend for a fabulous brekky at Mario's after a big night out tearing up the dance floor. I have been meaning to try out the famous breakfast here forever & really cant believe it has taken me this long. The place was crammed full of people as you would expect & luckily after only about a ten minute wait I managed to nab a table.

I had the specialof the day which was white bread with melted cheese on top, herbed scrambles eggs, spicy chorizo sausages, chutney & rocket. Can you tell just by looking at it how sensational it was, absolutely scrumptious & will be back for more soon!

Marios Cafe
303 Brunswick Street
ph: 9417 3343

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Zuppa di Zucchine (Zucchini Soup)

Tonight for dinner we are sampling the first of the recipes from my new River Café cookbook (Blue) that I snapped up on ebay for a great price. I was way too busy too cook, had to do a session on the bike & pack my bags for upcoming weekend away so Michael kindly did the cooking after miraculously coming home from work early. Now zucchini soup is very basic so it is interesting to see how this version turned out. The smells coming from the kitchen whilst cooking were truly beautiful though I suspect it was mostly the aroma of slowly cooking garlic. The flavour though lived up the the smell, this would have to be the best zucchini soup I've tasted, well done Michael & River Cafe - garlic, zhucchini, cream, herbs & cheese, fantastic combination & all helped to lift this soup out of the boring category I'd always put it into before!

Zuppa di Zucchine (Zucchini Soup)

1kg Medium zucchini, trimmed
25ml olive oil
1 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
500ml Chicken stock or water
140ml double cream
1 small bunch basil, chopped
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
120g parmesan, freshly grated

Cut the zucchini lengthwise into quarters, then into 2.5cm pieces. Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan & cook the garlic & zucchini slowly for about 25 minutes until the zucchini are brown & very soft. Add salt, pepper & stock, simmer for another few minutes. Puree with a food processor then add the cream, basil, parmesan & parsley.