Monday, November 30, 2009

Cookbook challenge, week 2: Tandoori lamb cutlets with cucumber salad

The theme for week 2 is Indian - one of my favourite cuisines! A couple of years ago I attended an Adult Education cooking course on Indian cookery, and it was fantastic. It was taught by a lady who used to run one of my favourite Indian takeaway shops in town.

From that course I learned a great range of recipes and techniques for Indian cooking. There are several dishes that I still cook regularly, and will no doubt post sometime! I really like authentic Indian dishes, both when cooking at home and eating out. The more ingredients, the better! Using a wonderfully large range of individual spices provides a far superior outcome to any packet or jar mix, and it's much easier and faster than I think a lot of people might expect. There are some good mixes and jars around for those times when you don't have the motivation, though; I'm partial to the Patak's range.

For this challenge, I chose a recipe from the AWW's Great Barbecue Foods. Unpacking at the new house is still in progress, and at this stage I still hadn't uncovered all my recipe books! The alternatives were some 80s Microwave cookery books, and another really retro one - they were printed long before proper Indian food became popular in Australia, and hence don't contain anything vaguely authentic. I think the closest thing I found was a curry using the old favourite Keen's curry powder :) I hope to use some of the older cookbooks in future challenges... this could be interesting!

The recipe I chose was 'Tandoori lamb cutlets with cucumber salad'. It's a very basic recipe, but was still pretty tasty and got two thumbs up from my partner, J. I halved the original recipe, to serve 2. I also left out the onion specified in the original recipe as we didn't have any.

6 lamb cutlets

100g yoghurt
1 garlic clove
1 tbs fresh ginger
Juice from half a lemon
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tbs sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin

Blend the marinade ingredients, then combine with the lamb cutlets and stir well to coat.
Refrigerate for 3 hours.
Cook on a heated, oiled barbecue until browned both sides (I used the grill in our oven as it was raining!)
Serve with cucumber salad and coriander yogurt.

Cucumber salad:
1 cucumber
1 fresh red chilli, finely diced
30mL peanut oil
Juice from half a lemon
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
1/2 tbs fresh mint, finely shredded

Peel cucumber with a vegetable peeler.
Place in a clean teatowel and squeeze out excess moisture
Toss gently with remaining ingredients

Coriander yogurt:
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
100g yoghurt

Blend until combined.

The finished product! As you can see, I really need to work on my serving/presentation skills. It's not something I've really thought about very much before, but now that I am taking pictures for all to see, I should start thinking about it soon!

The meat was fantastic. The marinade had a very tasty flavour. If anything, I'd add more chilli to give the cutlets some more zing. I'll probably make this again, but with a more economical cut of lamb (the cutlets were $2.50 each).

The cucumber salad was great. Very fresh and vibrant tasting, it'll be a good one for summer. I'd like to try it with sesame oil instead of peanut - I think sesame has a much nicer flavour (and it will probably require less oil too).

I served the dish with some roasted potatoes and pumpkin tossed in olive oil, garam masala and paprika.

The theme for week 3 is hor d'oeuvres. I'm going to a picnic on Saturday, so my friends might be the guinea pigs for the next recipe!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ciuccio, Salamanca Square

On the first Friday of every month, a bunch of friends and I head to a randomly-selected restaurant for a big group dinner. It's a great way to check out a new place (we try to head to places we haven't been yet), and see a lot of the menu at the same time, as we all have quiet different tastes. In October, we went to the new-ish Ciuccio, in Salamanca Square.

I really enjoyed my meal here. We had fantastic service - our waiter was very professional and efficient, yet friendly. Drawing with the provided crayons on the butchers paper-lined table is fun!

Pizza at Ciuccio

I had the Pollo con Pesto pizza (pictured) which was delicious, wonderfully garlicy. Their pizzas are woodfired, quite big, nice thin crust. I also tried the Abruzzese (I think) and the Insalata di rucola, both just as good.

The Calzone and Fettuccine alla Vodka looked great, although the pasta was apparently very tomato-ey (almost too much) and very filling.

If you are in the mood for great Italian, especially pizza, Ciuccio is a great option (one of many!) in the Salamanca area.

Ciuccio on Urbanspoon

Singapore Chilli Crab

Island Markets are located in Derwent Park and although there are plenty of junk stalls to try and avoid, there's also a great fish market in the complex. I've set myself a challenge, where everytime I go there I buy some sort of seafood that I haven't cooked with before, and experiment with it.

Blue swimmer crab was my first experiment. I bought two, and they were approximately $5 each. I decided to try the classic Singapore Chilli Crab, based on this recipe (halved). Preparing the crab was much easier than I expected - everything comes apart pretty cleanly, and the recipe was quite easy. I omitted the sherry, as I didn't have any.

The finished product was AMAZING. The sauce was just so, so tasty - finger licking good! (and it literally was - it's quite a messy dish to consume). The crab meat was lovely and sweet, but also quite tricky and a bit frustrating to extract. I'll definitely make this recipe again, but use just pure crab meat (if I could find some decent quality stuff), or substitute with prawns instead, to make it easier to eat! I also think that the recipe uses far too much spring onion, so I'll halve the amount specified. Otherwise, it's perfectly delicious!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pasta Resistance, CBD

I tried the franchise (I think) pasta shop, Pasta Resistance, this week. It's on Collins St, next to the Chickenfeed exit.

I had a two-for-one voucher, so ordered two different meals: firstly, 'Spinach and ricotta ravioli', served with a tomato and mushroom sauce. This was ok, but nothing special. My pasta was a just a little bit too al dente, and they were quite large - too big to be eaten in one bite (without risking tomato sauce stains!). Having to cut it first was a bit of a hassle. The ravioli filling was great though - you could clearly taste the ricotta.

The next day, I reheated my other selection, the 'Pasta Sicilian'. This was fantastic - wonderful fresh tasting and textured spiral pasta, with a tomato-based sauce containing olives, sun-dried tomatoes and mild pepperoni. I don't know if this was better because it had been left for a day, but it certainly was good!

All pasta is $7.50 each for a regular size (small and large are also available, as well as family-sized take home serves).

Their motto is 'Fresh pasta & homestyle sauces' and I think they live up to this, while being reasonably priced.

I'll head back sometime to try their 'Chicken Bogotoa' or one of their pasta salads.

Camembert update

My lovely (and stinky!) little camemberts have been riping away in a cool cupboard. Last night, 9 days after making them, I wrapped them in greaseproof paper and put them in the fridge to continue their ripening process more slowly.

They've developed a nice white fuzz and are squishy around the edges. In the next couple of weeks the squishy-ness should work it's way into the middle of the cheese. Ever purchased a soft cheese that was too hard and tasteless in the center? That's because it's too young. Leave it out of the fridge for a little while and it will soften up.

I'm looking forward to sampling my cheese, although to be perfectly honest I'm hoping they're ok - I'm not entirely sure! They are really quite pungent, and I hope this isn't a bad sign. They haven't had any black mould spots, which from my reading is the most common bad thing to happen, but there is a slight hint of orange. I'll keep an eye on them, and sample them cautiously ;)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cookbook challenge, week 1: Lemon Cordial

The theme for the first week of the challenge was citrus. Lemon was an obvious choice for me - I'm moving house and my old place has a lovely lemon tree in the backyard that I wanted to take advantage of. Homemade lemon cordial is wonderfully refreshing and additive-free, and a good way to use up excess fruit.

This recipe comes from a special cookbook - that of my father's! It's not an official cookbook, but I'm hoping I can get away with it this week as my 'real' books are buried deep in moving boxes. I did try another recipe from a Marie Clair cookbook, a prawn and lemon risotto, which I'll post once I find the book.

My dad has compiled a bunch of fantastic recipes over the years. He's especially known for his jams, sauces and relishes, as well as a spectacular abalone lasagne. If I catch any abalone this summer, I'll post it!

Reg's Lemon Cordial
Makes approx. 3 litres

Juice and finely grated rind of 8 medium–large lemons (approx 400mls of lemon juice/rind)
2kgs sugar
25g tartaric acid
50g citric acid
2L boiling water

Put all dry ingredients and lemon juice into a saucepan, then add boiling water slowly.
Bring to a gentle boil, mix to dissolve, then cool.
Bottle, and store in the fridge.
Serve diluted with water or soda-water according to taste.

I quite like it with soda water and a dash of vodka - very refreshing on a hot evening!

For other posts on this week's theme, see this post. I really want to try Gluten Shmooten's preserved lemon recipe to put a dent in the remaining couple of kilos of lemons I bought with me to my new house. I'd also like to make some lemon curd, and I'm sure I have a recipe in one of my cookbooks (actually, probably several!) somewhere.

Week 2's theme: Indian. Time to find and unpack the recipe books!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Salt, Moonah

We visited Salt for a Sunday brunch - it wasn't our intial choice, as our preferences were either full (Jackman & McRoss) or closed (Grubb).

No pictures, unfortunately - it completely slipped my mind! The food was beautifully presented and service was friendly and efficient, with one minor quibble - we were told that there was no orange juice available, but there were several varieties of orange-based Charlie's juices in the fridge.

I had the duck and soba noodle salad. The pieces of duck were fantastic - tender and with a beautiful flavour. The salad itself was enjoyable enough, but lacking in a bit of seasoning or bite, I think. Some finely diced red chilli would result in an outstanding dish. Still, it was very tasty and quite a healthy choice for a weekend brunch.

I also sampled my lunchmate's dishes. The fish cakes were soft and nicely fishy, although they fell apart quite easily. The accompanying mint and cucumber salad was refreshing. The prawn and chicken nasi goreng was very moreish - I'd go back to order this myself!
Not sampled, but thoroughly enjoyed by my remaining dining companions, were the steak sandwich, which was a very generous serving, and the Moroccan (?) breakfast.

Our meals were in the range of $15-$20, which seems a little pricey for Moonah, until you taste the quality of the food.

Recommended as a place to find tasty, interesting food, and one of the best in the area.

p.s. I've still got my first Cookbook Challenge recipe to post. Moving house + no internet at home for several weeks = a very disorganised me!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cookbook challenge: a recipe a week

I spotted this one of the blogs I read (off the spork) and thought it sounded like a fantastic idea. There are plenty of blogs around that are themed, or following some sort of pattern (and become inspiration for books and/or movies, such as Julie and Julia!). As as side note, my favourite 'themed' blog is Alinea at Home, where the author is cooking her way through a mind-boggling range of recipes.

For a new blog writer, a theme or a challenge can be a great way to keep motivated and posting regularly.

So, as well as other random food-related posts, I'll be posting a recipe a week based on the idea that you can read here. I have quite a collection of recipe books, but don't use them very often - I'll browse them, but if searching for a recipe I tend to take the easy option of finding something online ( is so very handy). This challenge will kill two birds with one stone (poor birds, by the way!) - regular posts, and using my recipe books more.

The first week's theme is citrus, and I'm looking forward to picking a recipe!


Most of my cooking shots are taken using my Canon IXUS 850IS. I'm a huge fan of Canon point-and-shoot digital cameras, and this has the added bonus of a relatively large amount of control over manual settings.

The rest of my shots are taken with the camera in my mobile phone, which is a Sony Ericsson C902. It takes pretty decent shots for a mobile phone.

As times goes on, I hope to remember to carry my proper camera more regularly, and avoid using my phone except in desperate circumstances.

And eventually I'll get myself a digital SLR, and use that for the majority of my photos. Time to start saving!

Camembert workshop

Yesterday I attended an Adult Education course, called Camembert Workshop, in Woodbridge. It was taught by Nick Haddow, of Bruny Island Cheese Co. fame, and he was assisted by Christine Worley.

Adult Ed courses are great. I've done a number of them over the years, and enjoyed each thoroughly. They aren't cheap, but cost cover materials and are definitely a worthwhile investment. I've refined my cooking skills in Japanese, Thai and Indian cuisines, to name a few!

Classes can be browsed on the Adult Ed website. Classes are updated quarterly and fill up pretty quickly - keep an eye out for the quarterly updates.

Nick Haddow was a great teacher. Extremely passionate, entertaining, and patient - he happily and respectfully answers all questions asked of him. I was a big fan of his cheeses before the class, and I'm now a fan of him as well!

In yesterday's course we learned how to make raw milk camembert (pasteurised is also an option, but I don't think anyone did this) over a period of 6 hours. I won't post the details here - sign up for one of the classes to learn the process yourself :)

Here's Nick pouring off the whey from the curds:

The curds are we what use to make the camembert with. We also used the whey: the addition of vinegar, salt and heat transformed this murky yellow liquid into warm, delicious ricotta. You expect fresh cheese like this to be good, but it exceeded my expectations by far! It was soft, salty and comforting. Given the chance, I'd happily eat it by the spoonful, but it would also be fantastic over pasta, or sweetened with jam and served on thick sourdough toast.

I took home a little sample of the ricotta, plus 6 camembert cheeses in plastic molds:

Cheese babies

Tonight I'll remove the camembert from their molds, wash them in a brine solution, then they'll sit and develop a crust and white fuzz on the outside and soften inside. I hope to have some great cheese ready in a few weeks - just in time for Christmas!

Stay tuned for updates :)

The post in which I introduce this blog

What do you write in the very first post on a new blog? I'll try to keep it short and sweet!

I love reading food blogs (actually, lots of different blogs but food blogs especially), and decided to create one of my own to document the food I eat and cook. Hobart has several fantastic food blogs, but I think there's always room for more to be posted about the Hobart (and Tasmanian) dining scene.

I've also set myself a cooking challenge in 2010 - see here for the challenge posts.

I'm by no means a professional cook and haven't had any training. I've got lots to learn and I have fun experimenting with new cooking techniques and flavour combinations, and I get a buzz out of cooking for other people. And of course, I love eating out and do so as much as I can. I don't 'review' restaurants here as I don't really have the experience or knowledge to do so properly, and I'm not much of a writer, but I do like share photos of the delicious (and not so delicious!) food I encounter.

Welcome, enjoy the view :)