Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tetsuya’s Pursuit of Excellence

The show 'Tetsuya’s Pursuit of Excellence' screened on SBS on the 17th of June.

It was such a good show, I was spellbound. I already loved Tetsuya, he's my favourite Australian chef, but I now love him just that little bit more after watching this! It was a great ad for Tassie produce too. There's a great write-up about the episode on another local food blog here.

If you missed the show, you can watch it online here.

I'm hoping to get to his restaurant next year, fingers crossed!


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cookbook challenge, week 32: Potato and cabbage vegetable

The recipe for this week's Potato theme comes from a book I hadn't used yet. It is 'The Higher Taste: A guide to gourmet vegetarian cooking and a karma-free diet'. It's a neat little book that I picked up second-hand, after loving the Hare Krishna food at the Falls Festival. I regretted not buying their book at the festival and hoped to find similarly good recipes in this book.


1/4 large cabbage, thinly sliced (I used a Chinese cabbage)
3 large potatoes, cut into 1.5cm cubes
2 tbs ghee
1 small hot chilli, finely diced
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp salt
1 small wedge of lemon

Heat the ghee in a large saucepan, then add seeds, turmeric, and chilli.
When the seeds start to crackle, add the potatoes and stir for 5 minutes on medium heat.
Add cabbage and cook for 15 more minutes until potatoes are tender.
Add salt and coriander powder.
Sprinkle with lemon juice.
Serve hot.

I'm not sure about this recipe - we ate it but it wasn't great. I don't know if it's the combination of ingredients, or if my spices or ghee were a bit too old, but the flavour was just a little odd. If I cook this again, I'll use a different combination of spices.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kitchen garden update: mushroom kit and hopeful winter crops

A quick update on stuff that I am growing: I bought a mushroom kit this weekend.

This is what's in the box: the casing in the bag on top, and underneath that is the mushroom compost that has been innoculated with white button mushrooms.

A closer look at the compost:

The first step is to spreading the casing over the compost.

Then wet it and put it somewhere dark to grow - I've put it in a cupboard that isn't being used for anything at the moment. It needs to be watered with a mister every couple of days, and in a week or two I should start seeing some mushrooms start to grow, and they'll be ready for harvest in 2-3 weeks.

The kit cost about $20, and the website says to expect to harvest about 1.5kg of mushrooms. If so, they'll work out to cost more than store-bought mushrooms (which are about $10/kg) but it'll be great to watch them grow!

I've also planted some more things in my vegie patch: spring onions, leeks and garlic. I don't hold high hopes as the patch doesn't get direct sunlight at this time of year, but we'll see. I've also planted some Italian parsley and coriander into pots and put them in our sunroom - now I just have to remember to water them!

Pumpkin and rosemary macaroni

This recipe was inspired by a recipe on taste.com.au, except that I didn't really want to make a pasta bake, just a pasta.

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
800g pumpkin, diced into 2cm cubes
1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
3 cups chicken stock plus 1 cup water
500g macaroni
250ml cream - I used Philadelphia Cream for Cooking
1 tbs chopped rosemary

Heat oil in a frypan over medium heat.
Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until the onion softens slightly.
Add the pumpkin and dried chilli flakes, stir to combine, then add half the chicken stock and cook for 5-6 minutes until the pumpkin begins to soften.
Stir in pasta, cream, rosemary, remaining chicken stock and water.
Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to low and cook for about 10-12 minutes, until the pasta is cooked, adding more water as necessary.
Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

I also threw in some shredded roast pork, as I had some handy in the fridge. It would also be nice to add bacon when frying the onion and garlic.

Very tasty! It makes heaps - plenty of leftovers for lunches.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

House of Anvers Cafe and Coffee Shop

Another post from my north-west road trip with my mum. We stopped at the House of Anvers Cafe and Coffee Shop for a late-afternoon snack.

The service was a comedy of errors, though!
  • After being asked what we wanted to order a couple of minutes after sitting down, we requested an extra minute. After no-one came to take our order in the next 10 minutes, we had to go and ask for service.
  • Our food came out very quickly but we weren't given any cutlery or napkins. Again after trying to catch someone's eye for 5 minutes, I went and asked. We were then given one napkin and one set of cutlery to share between the two of us.
  • One of our dishes was supposed to come with baguettes, but this was forgotten, and I had to go and ask... again.
  • The hot chocolate finally came out once we'd finished eating, and was a large size instead of the smaller size ordered (not such a bad thing!).
We weren't too worried though, just quietly amused by the situation. Our waitress was young, and the other waitress (and manager?) on duty seemed to be much more competent.

Duck and Pistachio Terrine: A delicious pressed terrine of duck meat and lean pork with pistachios and orange liquor complimented with cherry chutney and served with freshly baked mini baguettes ($10.50). This was ok, but not as good as I was hoping. The meat was quite processed and tasted more like pork than duck, so it kind of reminded me of luncheon meat. The chutney was delicious.


The baguette...


Cranberry and Turkey Cafe Sandwich: Turkey breast slices with cranberry sauce, camembert cheese, tomato and sliced red onion on white sliced pipe loaf ($10). This was delicious.


Cinnamon hot chocolate:



Monday, June 21, 2010

Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe

My mum and I went on a little road trip along the north-west coast last weekend. One of the places that we stopped at was the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe. This place is very popular and it's easy to see why! Fantastic food that's great value, with raspberries being used in many creative ways. Service was very efficient.

Salmon Roulade: Tasmanian smoked salmon with cream cheese and herb filling in a sponge roulade served with salad and raspberry mayonnaise ($14). The roulade was just fantastic.


Lemon Curd Tartlets: Two lovely tangy lemon curd tartlets served with raspberry sauce and Meander Valley double cream ($6.70). I love lemon curd and these were wonderfully tart and sweet.


Raspberry latte ($3.80). Mum thoroughly enjoyed this!


We also purchased some of the chocolate covered raspberries to take home - they are quite expensive but absolutely worth it.

There's so much more on the menu that I want to try, so I will definitely be stopping in next time I'm in the area. Check out the menu here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cookbook challenge, week 31: Coq au vin

Week 31 had the theme French. I had a few ideas - trying to make croissants or a souffle, but instead I ended up going for this recipe from my copy of the Family Circle cookbook, Cooking: A Commonsense Guide, as the cold evenings certainly make casseroles like this seem very appealing.

Coq au vin translates to rooster in wine and wikipedia has some interesting notes on the history of the dish.

seasoned plain flour
1kg chicken pieces
2 tbs oil
2 rashers bacon, sliced
1 shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbs brandy
3/4 cup red wine
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
2 tbs tomato paste
125g button mushrooms, or quartered larger mushrooms

Toss the chicken in the seasoned flour.
Heat half the oil in a heavy-based pan and cook the chicken in batches, removing once lightly browned.
Heat the remaining oil, and add the bacon, shallot and garlic and cook until onions are browned.
Add the chicken, brandy, wine, stock, herbs and tomato paste.
Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and simmer another 10 minutes.
Serve with mashed potato or crusty French bread.

It turned out wonderfully - it is very much a comfort-food dish! Chicken breast has a tendency to dry out, but it stayed wonderfully juicy when cooked this way. The sauce had a lovely creamy consistency, which is nice considering there is no cream in it.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dumpling World

Back at Dumpling World again, this time for some soup.

I had the Dumpling Noodle Soup, with chicken stock and seafood dumplings ($8.50). The noodles and dumplings were hearty and filling, but I wasn't too excited by the soup base.


J had the Chicken Laksa Noodle ($9.50). He enjoyed it - the soup had a good kick of chilli.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cookbook challenge, week 30: Onion and rosemary focaccia

Week 30! You might have noticed that I've missed a couple of weeks here and there as life in general has been rather busy. My plan was to catch up on cooking previous themes before posting current ones but it just wasn't happening, so instead I will just try to keep up with current weeks and post sporadic previous weeks when I can.

This week's theme is baked, and I decided to try a yeast-based product, as I tend to shy away from breads. This focaccia in the Marie Claire cookbook Comfort looked pretty tasty.

450g plain flour
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
4 tbs olive oil
2 tbs fresh rosemary
1 small onion, finely sliced (I used a shallot)
2 tbs olive oil

Put the (unsifted) flour in a bowl, add salt.
Put the yeast in a small bowl and add the sugar and 310mL warm water.
Set aside for 10 minutes.
When it starts to froth, add the yeast mix plus the oil to the flour.
Work the ingredients together then knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic.
Put into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Spread onto a lightly greased 25x37cm tray and press it out to cover the tray.
Use fingers to make dimples.
Leave to rise for 20 more minutes.
Preheat oven to 200ºC.
Scatter the rosemary, onion and sea salt over the dough, then drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.
Serve warm.

I made a half recipe and it turned out pretty well. The sea salt is essential, it would be very bland without it. I was a bit concerned that it didn't rise at all during the second rising period, and I perhaps should have left it to do so for a bit longer. And as with everything I bake, the curse of my oven struck again - it barely browned on top at all. However despite all this, it was lovely eaten fresh out of the oven.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Recent eats: Vanny's Cafe & Takeaway and Dumpling World

Vanny's Cafe & Takeaway is on Liverpool, near Spotlight. This is the lunchtime special, great value at $7.20. I chose a mixture of chicken and lamb curries, which are both miraculously squeezed in with fried rice, salad, peanuts and peanut sauce.


The Seafood Stiry Fry Noodle from Dumpling World ($10, I think). The flavours was great: a nice little buzz from the chilli and it had plenty of seafood, but the sauce was really oily - you can sort of see it in the bottom-right corner. I ended up leaving about 1/4 of a cup of this oily mixture in the container...


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thailand eating, part 1: Phuket

J & I spent three weeks in Thailand in March this year, and had a fantastic time. One of the biggest highlights was of course the food! This is the first of a series of posts showing many of the tasty things we ate.

We stayed in Patong Beach, Phuket for the first two nights of our trip. Patong was definitely not a highlight of Thailand - it's an intense, tourist oriented and mildly unpleasant town compared to elsewhere in the country, but it gave us some time to recover from the flight and get our bearings. These pictures are all from Patong. It's been a little while and so I have forgotten most of the prices, but from those I do remember you'll see how ridiculously and wonderfully cheap it is! Prices are approximate based on the exchange rate at the time.

The first thing outside of our hotel that we bought - a refreshing coconut complete with straw and spoon for scooping out the flesh, from a stand right on Patong Beach.


J had a thick and icy fresh mango juice:


Lunch at Pum's Restaurant, which is also a cooking school. We started with nam takrai, a delicious iced lemongrass drink (AU$2).


The Pad Siewe with beef: lightly stir fried noodles and vegetabless in sweet soy sauce with the meat of your choice (AU$3). Pum's food was fairly generic western versions of Thai food, but tasty none the less!


Pum's Dear Lesson: Thai fried noodles topped with a prawn omelette and served with a peanut and lime garnish ($3).


Bruschetta, from our hotel (Club Bamboo Resort). It's pretty great ordering food and cocktails and having them delivered right to your poolside lounge :)


A pineapple 'milkshake' from a restaurant near our hotel. Milkshakes are commonly listed on Thai menus but they rarely come with milk in them, usually they are just blended fruit and ice, such as this one.


Prawn omelette:


A chicken and baby corn stirfry:


Snacks and energy drink. We loved (and survived off) the uncarbonated energy drinks that could be found anywhere. I bought the sweet-bean filled balls entirely because the packaging was gorgeous! They came from a 7-11, which are everywhere.


Inside the balls:


These pictures are making me wish I was back in Thailand, especially considering it's only 4ºC in Hobart at the moment!

Next up: Naka Yai Island

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ristorante Da Angelo

Ristorante Da Angelo is a popular Italian restaurant in Battery Point. This is my first visit, but I will definitely be back! The food was delicious and good value, and the space is really nice. We received great service, and they handled our large group of 14 with no issues.

I had the Pollo Toscana: chicken fillets pan-fried with mushrooms, artichokes, spring onions, seeded mustard & cream served with vegetables (entree size, $23.50 - interestingly the main sized dishes didn't look much different?). This was fantastic - the juicest chicken I have had in ages, with a delicious sauce.


The chicken came with a bowl of piping hot but nicely crunchy vegetables:


A dining companion's Jalapeno Calzone: chicken, brie, jalapenos, onion, mushrooms, garlic & pepper.


Tiramisu: Tia Maria & coffee soaked Italian sponge fingers layered with marscarpone & cream ($11.50).


If I can drag myself away from the delicious chicken, next time I will try their gnocchi - it looked fantastic.


Ristorante Da Angelo on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 4, 2010

Easy sushi

I don't have a recipe for this, just a bunch of tips! I think it's best to learn sushi making in person with someone experienced than reading how to do it.

Sushi is really fast to make when you've made it a few times before - this took me about 30 minutes, which includes 12 minutes of cooking the rice.

I cook my rice in the microwave. Use sushi rice and rinse it in a colander under the tap. The rice to water ratio is 1:1.5, and it takes about 11 minutes in my microwave. 1 cup of dry rice makes around 3 standard-size sushi rolls. Remember to fan it once it's cooked and to very gently stir through a little rice vinegar with a little sugar mixed in. It should end up nice and glossy.

While the rice is cooking, prepare your fillings. Clockwise from top: mushroom, radish (an experiment!), omelette (egg plus a little bit of sugar), shredded barbecue chicken, carrot and cheese in the center (not exactly a traditional ingredient, but it was introduced to me as a sushi ingredient by my Japanese sushi instructor!). This is just what I had available to use in the fridge - be as traditional or as creative as you like with your fillings.


Rice spread on the nori. To avoid getting rice stuck on everyone and everything in the kitchen, use a metal spoon dipped in water, and spread the rice with the back of the spoon.


Filling added:


Rolls. Put them in the fridge for 15 minutes or so to chill before slicing. To make slicing easy, wipe the knife in-between each cut.


Ready to eat (with Kewpie mayonnaise of course!)


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Recent eats: Aroma's Fine Food and News (Launceston) and Little Italy (Hobart)

A couple of eats that actually aren't all that recent, oopsie

Aroma's Fine Food & News is in Charles St, Launceston, very close to the hospital and apparently rather popular. I had breakfast there a while ago, and I don't remember prices or exact names of the dishes, sorry! After a bit of confusion before we realised you were supposed to order at the counter, we ended up with some tasty food.

Scrambled eggs with haloumi and mushrooms on sourdough:


Rosti with smoked salmon and sour cream:


Little Italy is in Collins St in Hobart city. It's an old favourite for decent bain-marie pasta. The lunchtime pizza/pasta deal ($12 or $13) is great for sharing between two; pictured below is the huge serving with a little of each of the three flavours on offer that day.