Thursday, December 31, 2009
It was quite an interesting read, stories of life "on the land" to the south of Sydney, interspersed with recipes. The Stuffed Summer Squash with Tomato and Lemon sauce grabbed me, because L had decided that my plain boiled zucchini were too plain for him, and he wanted a Mediterranean style dish. I don't recall having seen a recipe like this before.
3/4 cup olive oil
1 cup water
Juice of 2 lemons
1 cup miso stock
That quantity was a bit too much for two people, and I had already parboiled the zucchini. So I started with Parboiled zucchini, add 1 tin (400g) of peeled roma tomatoes to simmer in the pan. I had just been watching back episodes of The Cook and the Chef, and Maggie had given the hint: that if you're trying to make tinned tomatoes taste like fresh tomatoes in a sauce, add a splash of verjuice. So I did.
Separately, I had the juice of one lemon, half a cup of warm miso stock, and one lonely egg.
The egg got whisked together with the lemon juice, and then I added the miso stock over a low heat. You're supposed to whisk this together until thick. I'm not sure if I went far enough - I only whisked it until my accompanying fish was ready. However, it appears that you make the bubbles whilst whisking, and then there is enough egginess to set the bubbles into a kind of light foam.
This was really quite tasty when spooned over the zucchini in tomato sauce, and it also cut nicely through the richness of some grilled salmon fillets without the faux-saltiness that using plain lemon juice seems to do.
Use the sauce immediately - it doesn't keep for the next night!
I later searched for a similar sauce on the interwebs, but the closest I could find used cream to make the sauce rather than egg.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
It was pretty small: a few trinket/craft shops, some fruit and veg, one guy selling only field mushrooms, blue mountains honey, and even a mob selling pot plants and herbs.
I forgot to take pictures then since it was so stinking hot, but they're on again this weekend, so piccies will come.
Thank goodness for the Rotary, bringing civilisation out to the 'burbs.
Blacktown Farmers Markets
Third Saturday of every month (except January)
Blacktown RSL car park, 2nd Avenue Blacktown
I promised photos, didn't I?
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Luckily, I had that day off, so just around lunchtime, I zoomed off to Balmain to inspect the wares. The queue was not bad (about 10 people), and there was heaps of flavours left.
Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my list of the flavours with me, so I seemed to have picked all the sweet ones.
1. Peanut Butter
2. Burnt toast and Butter
3. Maple Syrup, Bacon and Pancake
5. Vegemite Sourdough
6. Carrot Cake
I wished I had the money (and the time), to get one of all the flavours to try.
My favourite was the carrot cake, with a bit of cream cheese icing and walnut pieces in the filling. I was quite partial also, to the slightly oversweet vegemite. Unforntunately, the others tasted rather samey - and I had to consult my list to work out what the vaguely caramel flavoured one was (it turned out to be Burnt toast and Butter). The Maple Syrup, Bacon and Pancake one was also disappointing - there were chewy papery bits, which I think were like "bacon pieces"
I ended up polishing off the last of my bounty on an international flight with some aeroplane coffee to temper the sweetness. I definitely got a giant sugar overload though!
Pictures once I get my net connection working.
So this is what the aftermath of Zumbo's Macaron party looked like:
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Crows Nest NSW 2065
Tel: 02 9439 7888
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I made it to Seabay at 4pm. The staff were busy eating their own dinner in preparation for the dinner rush, but were happy to serve.
Based on a recommendation, I got a half portion of the Spring Rolls. Not the deep fried little things you normally associate with the term; it came with a wheat based wrapping pastry the size of a plate. The spring rolls are HUGE. Vermicilli noodles, wood ear fungus, egg, bean curd pastry sheets (foo jook). Delicious and warm.
I had greedy eyes, so I got "handmade noodle soup with dumplings" as well, which came in a light broth (probably chicken) with a bit of herb stuff and some shredded wombok or Chinese Cabbage. The noodles were nice - al dente, but with a slight raw wheat/flour taste. The dumplings were DELICIOUS, and were a highlight. I think I got five or six of them: a tasty pork and vegie and other flavouring dumpling in a thickish wheat pastry (not as fine as the din tai fung dumpling place in world square). I got a bit sick of the herby and plain broth taste. The chilli was ferociously hot, but also very enjoyable.
On a later date I gave the stirfried handmade noodles with lamb a shot, stir fried green vegetables (shang hai buk choy) and revisited a half serving of the Spring Pancakes.
The stirfried noodles were a little oversalty, and both it and the vegetables had were too oily for my taste. Curses - I think it is the Chinese compunction to try and make foodstuffs look "shiny", glossy, and pretty on the plate. The action of cooking the noodles in the wok seems to have removed the slight raw wheat taste that I had noted before. I wonder what would happen if you cooked the noodles with water as the moistening ingredient, rather than the oil? I suspect everything would end up sticking together.
The vegies had a nice mix of garlic and ginger, and I did enjoy the noodles which came with some more wombok, capsicum, and little bits of lamb, like it was sliced thin for sandwiches or steamboot, and then thrown in.
Whilst I enjoyed the second serving of the Spring Pancakes, it didn't seem as novel or as delicious as the first time that I had sampled them.
I've been twice so far, and have yet to sample their panfried dumplings. Pictures to come!
Open till 1030pm, everynight
372 Pitt St SydneyNSW Phone (02) 9267 4855
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
So first up, I tried the lemon meringue and the strawberry tart, just because they looked so pretty. The lemon meringue was tastebud shrinkly both sweet and sour at the same time. I tried eating one quarter only, but it was hard going. First time round I nibbled only on a strawberry, but I forgot to eat the rest of it before I went away for work.
A fortnight or so later, I tried the baked ricotta tart with carmelised chestnuts, again for the prettiness. The poor slumped thing in the corner of the box is what happens to a lemongrass and wild strawberry concorde when you leave it at office temperature for more than six hours. It has a light graduated pink rose petal on top for decorative garnish, which I ate.
I didn't realise when picking these desserts, how similar they would be.
My favourite here was definitely the concorde, the lemongrass flavour was quite subtle, and the richness of the cream was cut through with the lemongrass and strawberry flavours. The ricotta tart - meh, take it or leave it. The baked ricotta was nice, the chestnuts seemed a bit ordinary, and the whole thing seemed a bit plain.
So for my most recent foray, I got the hazelnut truffle, surrounded by meringue sticks, and the strawberry tart once again. The hazelnut truffle was too sweet! It took me three days to eat one third, and after that I couldn't bear the smell anymore. The hazelnut chocolate mousse contained within was nice, but there was a heart of more meringue sticks.
The strawberry tart has been my favourite so far. Such a simple thing! The strawberries are so moreish and very strawberry flavoured (yet still firm), and the light almost-set custard underneath has the little black specks of vanilla pod seeds. Yummo!
Bacco Pasticceria is on the ground floor of Chifley Plaza, Sydney. M-F 9-5. (02) 9223 9552.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
My tried and true recipie for pancakes has been "the jaime oliver one, ripped out of the spam email a few years ago that purported to be the proofs for his new book".
Essentially, it was: separate the egg, beat the egg white till fluffy, fold it back into the mix.
I have tried, several times to get the non-egg separation version working (ala Stephanie Alexander), but it never worked for me. I suspect it may be because, not being an egg person, the eggs I have on hand probably were never very fresh, and the result was rock hard and inedible.
Recently, I tried the Joy of Cooking Version. This book, to Americans, is like The Cook's Companion is for Australia. This book is bizarre: it tells you how to prepare wild game such as opossum, raccoon, beaver and muskrat, to name a few.
Onwards! No need to separate the egg, and the ingredient here was: double acting baking powder. I have no idea what that is, but I put in the same quantity of bicarbinate of soda, left it overnight to prove, and cooked it up the next morning.
Here is the result:
There are a lot more bubbles appearing in the mixture than I am used to, but the result indeed was delicious!
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Having read the "three of the best" review in good living, I've been ordering this quite a bit recently. I've tried it at Pho Ben in Parramatta, and the new Orange coloured Vietnamese next door to Pasteur in Haymarket. Here, the broth is fish-based, but not overpowering. It's quite tasty. The best salad selection came from the Orange-coloured place, whose name escapes me.
Post-post note: The Orange coloured place next door to Pasteur is called Gia Hoi. I have also just tried the Bun bo Hue at Xic Lo around the corner. I have to say I was a bit disappointed at Xic Loc, because it didn't come with the plate of brightly coloured salad and cabbage, and there was barely any hint of the fish based stock.
Friday, August 28, 2009
The Cook's Companion , by Stephanie Alexander.
Probably my first proper recipe book purchase, about a year after it was first published I have had a few recipies not quite work out of this one. E.g. pancakes, and a friend didn't have much luck with the peach pie. However, I have had some success and 'favourites', crop out of this book, like pesto, bbq chicken wings and lamb roast marinade (the lamb roast itself was terribly undercooked according to the weight/time/heat ratio that she offers).
Thai Food , by David Thompson I bought this for myself a few years ago, coveting the pretty pink silk cover, and the fact that it came with TWO inbuilt ribbon bookmarks, not just one. I tried to read this cover to cover, and only made it through the introduction and lengthy descriptions in the first half of the book. However, after having owned this one for a year, and not really having cooked from it, I made the resolution not to buy any more cookbooks. Generally I use this one more as a reference, to look up the composition of dishes that I have enjoyed at thai restaurants. E.g, "Nam dtok", after I sampled this at the Jindabyne thai restaurant. Dishes that I have tried to cook from this with varying degrees of success have been: tom yum (much better if you don't substitute everything out of it), vietnamese dipping sauce, and green papaya salad.
The Complete Asian Cookbook , by Charmaine Solomon. A friend of mine was given a copy of this almost ten years ago, and I have coveted it ever since. I read it cover to cover whilst sitting in her couch! I later received it as a gift one Christmas. I use this as a handy reference for some Asian ingredients, looking up undecipherable ingredients that I have found on the back of some packets. I haven't actually cooked a dish from it. A handy tool is the index in the back which has lists of alternative names for ingredients. My one gripe is that it needs more illustrations. Having accidently bought warrigal greens once, it took a while to identify it from this book.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I have tried to find the equivalent ponzu salad dressing from Tokyo mart in Northbridge, but without much success.
Last time I got takeaway from Sushisuma, I got extra salad dressing, which I promptly decanted into a spare bottle.
Just had my first homemade salad, but with the leftover kaiso salad dressing. The cabbage isn't sliced as finely (I don't have a mandolin), and I have no seaweed (subsitituted with coriander, parsley and snow peas), but YUM. oh! and I forgot the mayo! Next time.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The mains were $25-$35; the entrees were all just under $20. There was a 10% Sunday surcharge, and quite a few specials on the menu.
The food was really tasty ... I got to try :
1. soft shell crab with a tomato, cucumber, grapefruit (little yellow citrus wedges) and vietnamese herb salad (the dressing was quite sweet, but you needed a little bit more so you could dip the crab into more sauce. Also maybe a touch more salt;
2. beef lemongrass wrapped in betel leaves and on a bed of vermicilli. Very tasty, but with the smells of this dish and the crab one, I found this one almost offensive. When you smelled it on its own, it was okay, and smelled quite nice.
3. Shallow fried snapper with a sweet sour sauce (also a bit of green papaya salad). Yummo. I felt like I ate a lot of crunchy stuff. The sauce was nice, the fish was delicious and I crunched the smaller bones (and fins), the flesh was really tasty and still had some give.
We had a similar dish at our local thai restaurant and it was terrible!! the fish then had been deep fried for too long, and the whole thing was tough (deepfried), and rubbery.
4. Organic choy sum with a preserved (fermented) beencurd sauce. L liked this one and suggested that we buy a jar of the fermented bean curd to try and make it! That's the stuff in the jar that looks like cheese and smells ferocious
5. Green tea.
and yes... I did take a few pictures. I felt like I ate a lot of crunchy stuff - I wish the waiter had commented on that so that I could've had a rethink of the menu choices.
Post post note: Red Lantern Surry Hills has closed. However there is an alternative location in Darlinghurst
street: 60 Riley Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010.
Friday, June 05, 2009
As I got there pretty late, quite a few of the mains were already gone. I wanted risotto, but was hungry for something for immediate. Polenta with oyster mushroom and gorgonzola sauce. It was nice, although very creamy, got very same taste after a while. I wish I had got one of the salad leaves: raddichio or witlof with a vinegarette to break the cream.
I finished up with the banoffe pie. My sister had tried this a few weeks ago and raved about it. A rich caramel tart with a thick crispy biscuit base, a layer of sliced banana and a thin layer of cream on top sprinkled with flaked chocolate. Indeed, it was nice. But coupled with the creamy sauce of my earlier dish meant that I could only eat half the slice before conceeding defeat, and asking for the remainder takeaway.
I enjoyed the food ... but did feel somewhat unwanted, having turned up near the end of the lunch session.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Gamely enough .. I even ordered Som tum (Green papaya salad), which generally knocks my head off with the 'one chilli' specification. It was oh-kay... with iceberg lettuce, green beans and peanuts. i couldn't detect any dried shrimp in the sauce.. and very little fish sauce. Probably geared to Aussie tastes again. Next time... I will specify it to 'thai style'.... but only one chilli!
At least now, I won't be so adverse to visiting the local thai to encourage 'thai-style' thai food, and sample the other dishes.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Looking at the 2007-08 National Health Survey 4364 (pulled from the Australian Bureau of Statistics), I get: "Smoking rates for the 2007-08 NHS are lower than those reported in the 2004-05 NHS. These differences are statistically significant." This has been on a downturn since 2001.
So smoking rates are going down. Why base your revenue stream on a declining revenue base? It means you want people to continue or take up smoking... thereby increasing their chances of cancer, heart disease, lung disease etc; then heading into hospital to keep all our doctors, nurses and pharmaceutical companies employed. Oh I get it, you're stimulating the economy!
Saturday, May 16, 2009
There wasn't much choice: you could get a hot chocolate - with full cream milk, 70% dark chocolate, and cream; or you could get the light version, with "skim" milk. $5.75. I got the full cream version.
And it was nice. For the first 10 or so sips. Then it started to get almost sickly: too creamy for my tummy. I managed to finish the cup off. End result: me rushing through St Kilda about 30 minutes later hunting for a public toilet!
I wonder how it compared to the hot chocolate that I tried in Paris near the Louvre? I do remember that one being very very sweet and creamy as well... and I also remember we couldn't finish the pot!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Thus we sauntered into Balmain for an inspection. First up: the patissierie. I was amazed at the creations, too shy to take a picture, and ended up with two macarons - one blue cheese flavour, and the other mango.
We headed to the actual chocolate cafe, and ordered a dark hot chocolate, a salty caramel macaron and an earl grey tea macaroon. The macaron range was different in the cafe than to that of the patisserie, but everything was most definitely chocolate based.
The dark hot chocolate was wonderful: rated higher than the lindt version. Very dark and rich, but not sickly sweet or overly creamy. The salty caramel was yummo... I wanted another one. I forget how salt can bring out other flavours, such that the caramel wasn't sickly sweet. The earl grey macaron was also lovely: scattering of tea leaves on top, and a delicate tea flavour. I couldn't swear that it was that of earl grey, but it was very moreish and tasty. I would head there again... and "settle" for the lindt if I only I was in town. :-)
Monday, April 13, 2009
I had only ever tried Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Crispy Pancake) at Pho Le a few years ago, whilst it was still with the previous owners. So when good living did a special on the three best places in sydney to find them, I wrote it down in my little black book.
We went to Thuy Huy Coffee Lounge, and ordered (1) Banh Xeo, (2) a small bowl of broth, (3) Congee, vietnamese style. "Are you sure you want that? It's very different to chinese congee. You add bean sprouts and lemon, and there are animal bits." asked the waitress. I can't remember her exact wording.
So here it is: the banh xeo. Very crisp and tasty, loaded up with bean sprouts and prawns and also very messy to eat! Lurking up the back is the Vietnamese style "pork" congee.
Both were very tasty. I managed to finish the pancake, but the congee was a bit of a struggle, and we had to pay an additional 30c for a takeaway container to take the remainder of the congee with us. It was quite interesting, lemony (added to your taste, like pho) and basily, and a very strong blood/liver type flavour throughout. It was also a little bit salty.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
There were growers from Mangrove Mountain, Kemps Creek; olive oil producers from the central tablelands and as far as Victoria. I saw at least four places from which to buy free range eggs.
There were a lot of people with kids and dogs, which was not so amusing when they started lunging and barking at each other. The cutest thing ever - a toddler in a baby carrier enjoying a sample of goat's milk fetta.
So - I tried a brioche roll with smoked salmon and dill, a cherry danish (toasted up and eaten about a week later), Capparis Goat's Milk Brie (from Gloucester), iggy's delicious bagels (mixed seed - I now have a craving), as well as some free range eggs from Sommersby. I found the yolks very yellow in colour, compared with the free range ones from the supermarket.
Next up - decision time! We had left it too late to go to the smh pyrmont growers markets, but we still had a clear shot at the Kings Cross ones. So off we went!
My sister wanted me to try the quinoa and brown rice congee (porridge) from the markets, which we did; as well as a Vegetarian take on the Vietnamese rice paper roll: This one contained bean sprouts, tofu, carrot, mint and "chia seeds". The seeds were beautiful: like little pearlised glossy eggs; and they had a nice crunch and added omph to the rice paper rolls.
The porridge contained mung bean sprouts, bean sprouts, tofu crisps, and a little pink pickled onion. It was had a very tasty broth, but I found the slight sourness from the onion pickle and the mung bean taste almost overpowering.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Yesterday,I gave Bonito a go. I've eaten this as sashimi, and I know it's the main ingredient in dashi or japanese stock.
Its texture was very dense, almost like tuna. Very filling too - we could barely finish half a medium size fish. Today, when I panfried the leftovers I worked out that texture and density- wise, it's much more like chicken!
ps - I find out later that Bonito is actually a type of tuna!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I tried to visit the degas exhibit in canberra, but we were so put off by the queue to both buy the ticket and to enter, we couldn't be bothered, & just saw the normal exhibits instead.
Last week, one of the supermarket chains had ainsley harriot packet soups on special, so i bought some to have as emergenfy food rations at work. So far have tried the carrot and the lentil flavours, & both taste intensely of .... cornflour. Not what I was after.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
1. Visit some farmers' markets. Orange Grove is the stalwart, but on every weekend (yay). The smh Pyrmont ones are on this weekend, and they're a once a month affair. Alternatively, there are the ones in Redfern - Eveleigh, which is undercover, and AG's review, had me drooling over all the pictures. A lot of the producers are similar between Pyrmont and Eveleigh, though. Also! A Bacon and Egg roll is mandatory consumption.
2. Head somewhere to get Vietnamese. I want a good pho, and also a Vietnamese Pancake (Banh Xeo). I've only tried Vietnamese pancake from Pho Le in Randwick (owners previous to the current mob), and I need to try more. Cabramatta is the 'real' vietnamese deal, but it's a long drive from the city, for foodies who are trying to cram a lot in. Bankstown is an alternative (but also a hike), and there was a place in good living listed that had a good pancake in Marrickville. Does good pancake equal good pho?
3. Adrian Zumbo's chocolate shop in Balmain. Chocolate Desserts. Duh.
4. Restaurant Sojourn, in Balmain. I believe the chef here is ex-Banc. I think I've tried almost every 'Ex-Banc' chef's solo enterprise. Anyway. The order of the day is degustation.
Roll on, weekend!!
Saturday, February 28, 2009
The Apex of your Endeavours...The Pinnacle of your Success...This property best captures that moment when you can truly say, "Yes, I've made it." And what better place to make it....This wide, genteel street which many have claimed to be the best street in the area has many stately homes rising everywhere. And the good news is, this thoughtfully and tastefully renovated brick property which sits on an expansive 700m square yard will be easy on any budget. For a little more than the price of a townhouse you can enjoy the comforts of this home and truly say i live in the areas best street. Also the good news keeps on coming...You're only a short distance from the city centre which now offers a burgeoning cafe and restaurant culture. What an opportunity.I say "Seize the moment"...This opportunity might not come again. Make this property the Symbol of your Obsession.
I suppose I fell into the trap by reading further along the blurb though.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
It seems Dolce and Gelato have also joined the craze for peanut butter flavoured items (I spotted some last week).
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Dangnammit, why don't they tell you that the main act doesn't hit the stage until 10pm? You can't find that information on the website, and it is not listed on the ticket. the *ticket* time of 8pm is actually when the doors open.
Doors - because there was one entry only... it took a very long time to get all the punters inside. I was sitting on the sideline, just watching the queue to get in. Having just come back from holiday (and about to start work again the next day), I was very tempted just to leave & grab dinner in town instead.
Food inside - limited, but the usual inflated hostage-punter prices. The only vego suitable dish was quiche. A sausage onna a bun plus onion cost $6, with a 100ml tub of serendipity ice cream $5. I think fish & chips was $13, and other options including kebabs, burgers, chips.
I tried serendipity "peanut butter disaster", hoping for some of gelatomassi's peanut butter goodness. It would be okay, if it weren't for the overly sweet chocolate sauce that was on top, and as a result coated everything. Too sweet for me, and I couldn't taste the peanut butteryness.
Anyway, once they did come on, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings were really a lot of fun. The bass player was a fill-in for the standard line up. Sharon was so tiny, and and so much energy dancing around all over the stage. The crowd really loved it, and were cheering for more.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I've just come back from a holiday in good €old Tasmania. It looks like a lot of people at work at a similar idea, with one guy heading to the Falls festival at Marion Bay, and someone else was going carvaning. We went with no real plan in mind: fly in to Hobart, fly out of Launceston, camp at Freycinet National Park in the middle.
It turned out pretty well! I got a last minute invite to R&N's NYE party, and we camped along the river Derwent. It was so much effort setting up camp, that as soon as we had done it, we decided that we would be spending two nights in each place.
After Hobart (and never quite making it up Mount Wellington), we shifted north to Oatlands. Oatlands is approx 30km south of Ross on the midland highway. It has a whole lot of Georgian architechture, but not only that, it has *free* camping on the shores of Lake Dulverton for up to three nights. It's pushed as a roadside stopover for campervans/caravans, but honestly, people who camp drive too, right? The advantage of this for Oatlands, is that people who stopover will then go ahead and spend that camping fee in the town instead.
On the recommendation of the people working on restoring the mill in the town, we visited Blossoms Tea house, which has a neato pelican onna nest sculpture on its chimney.
We were grubby as anything, not having had a shower for 4 days, and having just walked around 2/3 of Lake Dulverton that morning, but we were treated like royalty.
We had a really lovely ploughman's lunch (for one, shared between 6!), with homemade multigrain bread and including my first pickled onion. The main event though was a devonshire tea, with an enormous pot of tea, strong enough to refill, and really yummy scones, cream & jam.