Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mt Elephant Pancakes, St Mary's

Mt Elephant Pancakes is in between Bicheno and St. Mary's on Tasmania's east coast.

Coke spider - one of my weaknesses. It came with the remainder of the can for topping up.


Spiked coffees served in a cute cup


Chicken, Camembert and blueberry savoury pancake ($18.90). Fantastic! A great flavour combination seasoned well with black pepper to give it a nice kick.


Up close and personal. They are very generous with the blueberries!


Chilli con carne ($17.90). This was enjoyed by a couple of my lunchmates, though all ordered a medium spiciness but barely noticed any chilli-ness at all.


And the amusing sign in the carpark:


Friday, January 29, 2010

Beachfront Resort, Bicheno

Still in Bicheno, we went to the pub at the Beachfront Resort. I forgot to note down prices, sorry, but they are quite good value.

Some meals come with a chips and salad bar option. On this evening the salad bar offered coleslaw, a garden salad, potato salad, pasta salad, beetroot and a rather unusual green bean, carrot and coconut salad. Here's my selection:


Flathead fillets:


Beef schnitzel: apparently a bit dry around the edges, but the chips are fantastic.




Caesar salad:


Chicken parmigiana:


Curried scallops:


Chicken schnitzel with green peppercorn sauce:


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sealife Center, Bicheno

I've been going to Bicheno since I was a child, and I love the town. It's just the right size with everything you need.

It used to have the best fish and chips I have ever had, at the caravan park takeaway store, but they changed from thick cut chips to thinner ones the summer before last. They're still great chips, but just not quite as good.

We stopped at the Sealife Center for lunch on Monday.

Rhu Bru ($4.50). I love this drink and order it wherever I manage to find it (which isn't as often as I'd like!)


Seafood chowder, garnished with smoked salmon ($14.50). A nice soup, with salmon, dill, potatoes and leek in the mix. The roll was nothing special but I appreciated that it had been warmed. I would have liked some butter, though.


Garlic prawns ($24.50). These looked and smelled great!


Rock lobster ($80/kg, this one was $48) to takeaway. A nice looking cray. They are sold raw or cooked, and they offered to cut and clean it for us.


Spread with garlic butter before being warmed on the barbecue. Luxury camping food!


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kitchen garden, week 7

My garden has gone crazy! I'll let the pictures tell the story.

Tomatoes, nasturtiums and 'wild' rocket are flourishing:


Pretty flowers:


My basil seems to have recovered and is growing well!


Cookbook challenge, week 10: Rose-flavoured lassi with pistachios

This recipe comes from Tropical Asian Cooking: Exotic Flavours from Equatorial Asia. I think it's the first time I've used this book, although I've wanted to for a while. The recipes are interesting, fresh and have appealing photographs. Some contain ingredients that we can't get here (mostly fruit and vegetables), which only makes me want to cook them more!

The recipe I chose was rose-flavoured lassi with pistachios. I'm a big fan of the mango lassi, and so decided to try this flavour for something different. It's a fasciniating combination, and very refreshing.

3 cups (750mL) plain yoghurt, chilled
3 tbs sugar
2 tsp rose water or a few drops of rose essence
6-8 ice cubes
2 tsp finely crushed pistachios

Blend yoghurt, sugar, rosewater and ice cubes until smooth
Transfer to 4 chilled glasses and sprinkle each with 1/2 tsp of pistachios


Friday, January 22, 2010

Seaweed Salad from Sakura

If you've not had seaweed salad before, try some soon. It's pretty much the tastiest and most refreshing thing ever.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tasmania's Table

I want this book:

Tasmania's Table

I flicked through a workmate's copy and have completely fallen in love with it. I really enjoy supporting local products and businesses and this book is pure Tasmania. Even with a brief look I've already found some new producers that I want to visit, and recipes to try. Most (if not all?) of the recipes come from restaurants and cafes all around the state. There's recipes for dishes I've eaten when dining out! It's fantastic.

Check out the website for the book here. If you work in the industry, this page might be of particular interest to you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Turkey and sage risotto

I'm currently in hard-core saving mode, as we're heading away on holiday to Thailand in 2 months. I have freezers and cupboards full of stockpiked goodies and I'm trying to creatively use those instead of buying new groceries all the time.

(I really should do a post with a list of the things in my freezer, both for my own use and for entertainment purposes. I hate throwing food out and wasting it, and I love stocking up on bargains at the supermarket!)

So, one of the things in the freezer was a tray of turkey breast slices. I thought I'd use it in a risotto, and searched for inspiration. I ended up cooking the following, it uses similar flavours as the roast turkey recipe I love so I thought it should work well.

Serves 5-6 as a main

500g turkey breast, sliced thinly
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs butter
2 spring onions
1 tsp crushed garlic
3 diced carrots
1 small red chilli, very finely diced
2 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
chicken stock (5+ cups), hot
6-8 sage leaves, torn
1 tsp lemon rind
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbs sour cream
1 tbs parmesan cheese
pepper and salt

Heat the olive oil and butter into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan on a medium heat.
Add the onions, garlic and fry for 5 minutes.
Add the carrots and chilli and fry another 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low, add the rice and fry briefly until the rice colours slightly.
Add the wine and cook until absorbed.
Add the chicken stock, a cup at a time once the previous cup has been mostly absorbed, until the rice is just al dente. Stir regularly.
While the rice is doing its thing, cook the turkey by frying in batches in a saucepan and set aside.
At the 4-cup mark, add the sage leaves, lemon rind, peas and turkey.
Add the remaining stock very gradually as required, being careful not to add too much. Test the rice regularly - it should be very slightly solid in the middle but not crunchy.
Add the cheese, sour cream, and season to taste.


Greek slow-cooked lamb

I cooked lamb in my slow cooker recently, based on this recipe. I usually keep my lamb roasts pretty simple, just studded with garlic and rosemary, but I wanted some sort of spice rub this time and the Taste recipe sounded interesting.

This is the lamb in the slow cooker, ready to go.

Halfway through the cooking process, with vegetable cooking alongside.

Finished! It was quite tasty, I liked the flavour of the crunchy coriander seeds.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cookbook challenge, week 9: Berry sorbet

The theme for this was berry, and I conveniently had a large container full of berries from my parents. They have a big boysenberry bush that produces lots of delicious fruit at this time of year.

The recipe comes from Gordon Ramsey's book, Cooking with Friends. The recipe is 'Blackberry sorbet with shortbread fingers', but I decided not to do the shortbread.

225ml sugar
250ml water
500g berries
2 tbs lemon juice

Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Turn up the heat slightly and simmer for a few minutes.
Tip in the blackberries and simmer for a couple more minutes.
Transfer to a blender and process until smooth.
Strain through a fine sieve and discard the seeds.
Stir in the lemon juice.
Cool completely in the fridge.
Pour the mixture into an icecream machine and churn until almost firm.
Transfer to a suitable container and freeze until solid.


This sorbet is fantastic. It's all about the berries - good fruit means a good result! The tang of the lemon comes through nicely. If I make this again, I'd like to use less sugar, it's just a bit too sweet.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Kitchen garden, week 5

A quick photo update of week 5 in the garden (posted a week late).

The whole garden. 5 out of 6 tomatoes are doing really really well - heaps of healthy dark leaves and flowers appearing all over the place. The one tomato not doing so well is in the bottom-left, it's the Black Russian - my favourite variety :(
On the path between the garden beds and towards the tap I have a bonus crop - rocket! It's my favourite salad leaf so I was very happy to see it appearing. I've been using big bowls full of this and it just keeps on coming.


Some happy looking fruit!


The sad Black Russian. Despite it's generally stunted appearance, it's growing some lovely big fruit, but I won't get many from this plant.
You can also see my climbing beans to the left, they are going well but I need to put something up for them to climb on asap!


My basil. It's still not doing well but it's trying its hardest to grow, which is encouraging. It'll be interesting to keep an eye on its progress. I don't know what is eating it, I don't think it's snails or slugs as the cos lettuce growing next door to the basil is untouched! So I suspect another critter, but I have no idea what.


Peas! Now, I planted snow pea seedlings, but these guys keep getting quite fat instead of staying flat like the snow peas I have grown before, it's rather curious. Regardless, they are delicious and sweet.


Cos lettuce grown from seeds scattered between the tomatoes. They are more successful than I was expecting, and I need to remember that they are hiding in there to eat them!


My carrots finally decided to sprout, though not very many of them. I'm not sure why this was - perhaps planted too deep, or because they were quite old seeds.


After taking these pictures, I fertilized with Maxicrop Seaweed Plant Food Concentrate (which is what I found in the shed). I think it's a good idea to fertilise tomatoes just as they start to flower to give them a boost when all that energy is needed to grow the fruit. If any gardening experts are reading this and it isn't true, please let me know!

I still haven't planted out my strawberries or flowers... and they are looking rather worse for wear. Shame.

For previous kitchen garden posts, click here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Possibly the best-ever butter chicken

Butter chicken is a very western Indian curry, but it is oh-so-tasty! This is one of the few Indian curries I've made that I believe to be tastier than what you get at a restaurant. It's just that good!

The original recipe was taught to me at an Adult Education cooking class given by a local ex-restaurateur. Over the years I've modified it into the version below.

At first glance it appears to have a lot of ingredients, but note that quite a few are repeated in both the marinade and sauce, so it's not as daunting as it looks. They are mostly standard pantry ingredients, for me at least!

This can be a pretty fast curry to make - I can cook it in half an hour at a pinch. If you don't have the time or opportunity to marinate for 4 hours, all marinade ingredients can be added to the chicken at once and then put in the oven straight away, but I'd recommend at least 15 minutes of marinating time as a minimum for a better flavour.

500g diced chicken (thigh is tastiest, but breast is healthier)

1 tsp salt
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 a small red chilli, very finely diced
1 tbs crushed fresh garlic
1 tbs crushed fresh ginger
1 tbs yoghurt
1 tbs tomato paste
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp Tandoori colour*

For the sauce:
2 tbs butter
2 tsp crushed fresh garlic
2 tsp crushed fresh ginger
3 tsp paprika
3 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
1 tbs almond meal
1 tbs honey
1 tin crushed tomatoes
1 tbs tomato paste
2 tsp cornflour dissolved in ¼ cup water
2 tbs fresh cream

blanched almond shavings and fresh coriander (to garnish)

Sprinkle chicken with salt, lemon juice and chilli, then mix well. Refrigerate for 10 mins.
Add the rest of the marinade ingredients, mix well, and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 230˚C. Spread the chicken on an oven tray and cook for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan cook the butter, ginger and garlic on a very low heat. Stir regularly and continue until garlic and ginger change colour.
Add paprika, garam masala, salt and almond meal. Mix (it will form a bit of a paste/dough) and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and honey. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for a few minutes.

Butter chicken
Chicken pre-oven and sauce pre-chicken

When the chicken has cooked, add it (plus any juices) to the saucepan and mix well. Continue simmering.
When the mixture looks glossy and has a sheen on the surface (this can take up to 10 minutes) reduce to a gentle heat.
Slowly pour in the cornflour and water mixture, stirring all the time to prevent lumps forming.
Just before serving add the cream and mix well.
Garnish with almond shavings and coriander, serve with rice (basmati is best for Indian dishes).

* Tandoori colour is a bright red liquid, like an essence, available from places such as Wing & Co and Spiceworld. Completely optional and I don't use it, but if you do you end up with a very rich-looking red sauce.

Butter chicken

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sakura, Hobart CBD

Sakura is another of my lunchtime favourites. It's on Liverpool Street, just down from the Commonweath Bank. The sushi is always lovely and fresh, and the sushi man always remembers what I like and restocks it if he's not busy :)

They have the sushi rolls that most places sell, but they also have individual sushi pieces at $5 for 5, $1 for each additional piece. The pic below is what I usually get - 2 tamago (egg), 1 salmon (I prefer tuna but they were out this time), roe, chicken roll and inari. In the bottom-right corner you can see Kewpie mayonnaise, which I am addicted to!


For $6 this is great value.
They've recently started stocking seaweed salad as well, which I adore!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tasmanian Farm Gate

The Tasmanian Farm Gate farmer's market is held every Sunday in the Melville Street Carpark (just down from Island Cafe). It started at the end of October last year, and showcases fresh, local produce.

I really like the concept of farmer's markets and seasonal local produce, and was quite excited when I first learned about this new market. We haven't really have such a thing here in Hobart - Salamanca Market does have some decent local produce, but I don't really like battling tourists and dodging the craft stalls to find what I'm after.

The market is probably still somewhat in its infancy, but I hope it continues to grow and more people start to go there regularly to encourage that growth.

Here are some pictures from my most recent visit.

Some of the market, from Elizabeth Street:

My purchases:

I sampled all three of the Grandvewe cheeses on offer. Birchs Bay Blonde was absolutely amazing - I'll definitely buy it in the future, but at $20 for a small wheel it'll be for a special occasion! I also sampled their vanilla whey liqueur - wow. I wasn't expecting to like it, but it was sublime - refreshing with just the right amount of sweetness and a lovely hint of whey.

I bought the pork rillette from Matthew Evans himself, and felt like a bit of a fangirl, he's quite charming :)

J and I enjoyed some of the bread and rillette as a ploughman's lunch, complete with rocket from our garden:

The bread is fantastic, and has re-inspired me to try my hand at sourdough sometime. I'd love to try growing my own 'mother' (starter), though I know it's unlikely I'd get results anywhere near this without a wood-fired oven. It had a wonderful chewy crust.

Tonight we had some of the cheese on the sourdough, which was a fantastic combination.

This weekend is the official launch of the market - a great opportunity to check it out if you haven't done so yet (click on the photo below to enlarge)


Fish 349, North Hobart

I've eaten here several times, and it's been a bit hit-and-miss, but as long as you choose wisely from the menu you can find some rather tasty dishes.

Several months ago, J and I ordered the Seafood platter for two, and it was really disappointing. The components were all deep-friend and bland, with a boring accompanying salad. At nearly $60 we expected much better.

On our next visit, we had the Salt and pepper squid with rocket/watermelon/ginger salad, which was tasty and generous, and J had the red curry fish, which was amazing - such depth of flavour and nicely spicy without being too strong to kill the other flavours.

Most recently, it was another hit. I chose two entrees instead of a main.

Honey & sesame tempura prawn skewers with petite serve of saffron rice ($12.90)
Absolute highlight, and the best prawns I have had in ages. Crisp batter, just the right amount of honey and lovely fat prawns. The accompanying rice was nothing special, it tasted a bit like it had been cooked much earlier and was kept warm in the molds waiting to be used - the outside rice was a bit dry.


Tasmanian octopus pan seared with elderberry glaze and served with traditional bruschettina slice and hommus ($13.50)
This was enjoyable, although I compared it to the best octopus I've had locally (at the Republic Bar) and it wasn't quite as good. The glaze was nice and charcoal-y, and the octopus was tender enough. The dish was slightly marred by the old and somewhat dried lemon wedge.


My partner had the Moroccan spiced ocean trout on chickpea and lemon salad with mint and coriander pesto ($23.90).
He really enjoyed this dish, and scoffed it down pretty quickly!
It unfortunately also had an older wedge of lemon.


I do recommend Fish 349 for decent seafood dishes. Just don't get the platter!


Fish 349 on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cookbook challenge, week 8: Creamy rhubarb and vodka cocktail and Rhubarb bellini

Week 8 already - wow, I'm amazed how quickly these first two months have passed. I'm still really enjoying this challenge, but I'd like to evolve how I tackle each week. Currently, I've had either a recipe or a core ingredient in mind and scoured my cookbooks to find a suitable recipe. As the challenge progresses, I'd like to instead choose a cookbook - ideally one I haven't used yet - and find interesting recipes from each. Focus on covering all my books rather than the ingredients!

For this week's sweet theme, I made two recipes from Jamie Oliver's 'Jamie at Home'. Both are tasty alcoholic drinks with rhubarb as the primary ingredient. They were very refreshing in the recent hot temperatures that we've been experiencing here in Hobart!

Creamy Rhubarb and Vodka Cocktail ingredients:
500g rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
100g sugar
Juice of half an orange
2 shots of vodka
1/2 a shot of Galliano
1/2 a shot of cream
1/2 a shot of milk
a handful of icecubes

Place the rhubarb, sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan and put the lid on.
Simmer for a couple of minutes, then remove the lid for a few minutes more until you get a thick, compote consistency.
Pour the rhubarb into a sieve over a bowl and let the liquid drip through. It's this liquid you want (the leftovers in the sieve are lovely with custard).
Put two shots of the liquid into a cocktail shaker with the remaining ingredients and shake it about.
Strain into two cocktail glasses.


Rhubarb bellini ingredients:
300g rhubarb, trimmed and finely sliced
75g sugar
a bottle of bubbly

Put the rhubarb, sugar and a couple of tablespoons of water in a small saucepan.
Put the lid on and simmer for a couple of minutes.
Remove the lid and simmer for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally, until you get a thick compote consistency.m
Whiz up with a hand blender until you have a lovely smooth puree.
Leave to cool, then stir again and divide the puree between 6 glasses. Pour over your bubbly, stirring as you pour, until the glass is 3/4 full.
Top it up with bubbles and you're done.

Both recipes took longer to cook the rhubarb than the recipes hinted at, which might be a bit misleading for people that aren't familiar with cooking the stalks.
They also both specified a particular weight of rhubarb, 'trimmed and chopped'. It's not clear if the weight is pre- or post-trimming, and whether or not the leaves are present would make a significant difference to the amount of usable rhubarb left over. I used post-trimming weight, and the recipes tasted right, so hopefully that was the way to go.
The creamy cocktail specified double-cream, but our local shop didn't have this and I used thickened cream instead. This was fine, and I think you'd have to shake the ingredients heaps if you used double-cream to avoid lumpy bits!

I'll definitely make the bellini again - simple, tasty, and would be great to improve the taste of a not-so-nice bubbly ;)

The next theme: Berry

Gingerbread houses on cups!

How gorgeous are these mini gingerbread houses from Not Martha? I love them!