Tuesday, August 31, 2010

2 vegie dishes in a row

Weirdly a few weeks ago we actually had two or three vegetarian dishes in a row.  This is very strange considering the carnivorous nature of this household.  

First up was beetroot and shallot tart tartin with spice roasted cauliflower and dukkah coated poached eggs.
For the tarte tartin I simply poached the shallots and beetroot in chicken stock, then caramelised them a little in a frypan using loads of butter.  In-between the pastry and the beetroot/shallots I placed a layer of caramelised onion.  I served them topped with a little minted yoghurt. The cauliflower I blanched, then tossed in cumin, ground coriander and olive oil, and roasted in a hot oven for around ten minutes.  We had both of these alongside a little trick from my new work, poached eggs, dusted in flour, and deep fried for around a minute.  Once they are out of the oil you simply gently roll them around in some dukkah - delicious!

Below are our mushroom and caramelised onion arancini served with rocket, pear and parmesan salad (again inspired by a dish at work).  


I started by making a basic risotto, letting it cool uncovered in the fridge, and then rolling it into balls (they were perhaps a little large).  While the rice was cooling, I caramelised some onions, and diced up a selection of mushrooms.  I also cut some mozzerella balls into small cubes.  One the arancini were rolled out, we used our thumbs to create a small indent, into which we placed the onion, mozzerella and mushroom.  We covered this over with some more risotto to ensure the filling were in the middle of the little ball.  We then coated in egg, and crumbed them, and repeated this process again.  

I heated some oil in a wok to around 180 deg celcius, and carefully dropped the arancini in, frying until golden.  The salad is simply shaved parmesan, thinly sliced pear, and rocket, dressed with a little olive oil and lemon juice.  We served the arancini on some rich tomato and herb sauce, and garlic aioli. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What's on the menu this week?

Whole scotch roast pork with balsamic onions and potatoes - delicious!  This is a Jamie Oliver recipe which can be found here

Frangiapani tart with Raspberry coulis

Kara's delicous french toast and caramelised bananas

Monday, August 23, 2010

Richmond Hill Cafe and Larder

There's not much that I can say about this Melbourne institution that already hasn't been said before, but here's my opinion anyway!

RHCL is one of the best cafes in Melbourne, and they serve some of the best breakfast in Melbourne.  On the morning we went, although it was packed, the always professional staff kept their cool and maintained their high level of service.  This was even though the place was a madhouse, and there were customers lining up for tables.

The winelist is second to none, with an extensive and always-changing list of wines available by the glass.  Not that we paid much attention to it at breakfast time.  That said, the Bloody Mary is worth a look!

From the breakfast menu, I opted for the corn fritters with poached egg and smoked salmon - it was divine!  As was some of the famous RHCL grilled cheese with spicy eggplant relish (you can't get better in Melbourne), which I surreptitiously 'borrowed' from K's plate.

The lunch menu is seasonal, and always seems to be full of great, fresh produce.  Make sure you try the beer battered chips... I feel like a broken record, but again, they are some of the best in Melbourne.

The hardest part about our last visit was the fact that we were seated at a bar which looked through to the famous cheese room.  Also in my opinion one of the best reasons for visiting RHCL!  The selection is fantastic, and the staff so knowledgeable.  It's hard not to go home with an armful of artisan cheeses from all over Europe, as once you taste them all, you feel the need to buy them all!

Richmond Hill Cafe and Larder
Bridge Road,
Richmond 3121
03 9421 2808

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Shabby Chef Cookbook Launch

As amazing as the view over Melbourne from 88 floors up is, it's not really a good enough reason for Kara and I to get up at 5:30am and drive into the city.  Had we known what was in store I would have had no concerns.

I had entered my breakfast pizza recipe in the 'Shabby Chef' competition on Mix 101.1FM.  Hosts Brig and Lehmo were looking to fill a cookbook with simple recipes for Lehmo to make.  You can find my breakfast pizza recipe by clicking here.

I recieved a phonecall telling me that my recipe had been accepted, and that I had an invite to the launch, up on the 88th floor of the amazing Eureka building at Southbank.  Brig and Lehmo were doing a live show from way up there in the rarefied air, along with some special guests, including contestants Peter and Fiona from Masterchef.  Peter, Fiona and Danny McGinlay judged the dishes, which were cooked up by a chef.  I thought they did a great job of making the breakfast pizza look appetizing!  Some of the other dishes, especially the french toast, and christmas puddings looked very appetizing.

Turns out they liked the breakfast pizza, and we walked away with an amazing prize!  We had a good morning, and it was such a pity that we both had to go to work after this, especially while being on such a high.  Thanks to Brig and Lehmo and Mix 101.1 for a great morning and amazing prize.

Crazy weird icecream volcano cake invention

I have no idea what inspired this, aside from a few left over egg whites in the fridge, and a craving for chocolate ice cream.

I had been thinking about making a bombe alaska, as I have never tried one.  I guess this is very similar, just more like a volcano!

To assemble, I lined a mixing bowl with glad wrap, and filled the bottom half with strawberry ripple and white chocolate ice cream.  I let this freeze for a few hours, and then removed from the freezer.  I sprinkled the layer with chopped up white chocolate and strawberries, and then covered it with some chocolate ice cream.  I made this by adding 1/3 cup of cocoa, a few tablespoons of milo, and some chopped dark chocolate to a batch of standard vanilla icecream.

While this was happening, I made a batch of chocolate brownies in a round, springform pan.  When cooked, I placed on a plate, and pricked all over with a fork, and drizzled with a mixture of sugar syrup and creme de cacao.  I did this as I was worried about the brownie freezing and becoming too hard (it kind of worked, next time I'll try about 1 cup of liquid).

I then turned the icecream layers out on to the top of the brownie layer.  I trimmed away the edges of the brownie.  I scooped out the top of the ice cream, and placed a small ceramic bowl in the top of the cake.  Next, I covered the cake in my meringue (180g egg whites, 180g caster sugar, and a pinch of salt, whisked to very stiff peaks).  It was then baked it in a hot oven for approximately two minutes to get the browning effect.

I refroze it for a while longer, but evidently not long enough as the icecream didn't quite recover from it's trip into the oven, and was a little soft (hence the messy layers).

When serving, I warmed around 1 shot of scotch in the microwave for 15 seconds, and tipped it into the bowl at the top of the volcano, and lit it up!

I thought it looked pretty impressive, but I look forward to improving it.

Tortilla press trial, and Chicken Fajita recipe

After purchasing a tortilla press from Casa Iberica in Johnston street, along with some masa for making tortillas, I couldn't wait to get it home and try it out.  I was a bit worried, however the results were fantastic - the only problem being that the tortillas were a little small.

Pictured above are our sizzling fajitas with guacamole and homemade tortillas.  The tortillas were so easy to make - mix 1 and 3/4 cup of stone-ground corn with 1 cup plus 2 tbsp of warm water.  It was as simple as letting the dough rest for around half an hour, and the rolling into small balls and flattening in the tortilla press.  To cook them, I just warmed a frypan over medium-low heat, and cooked them for approx 30 seconds each side, and then kept warm in a tea-towel.

The flavour and texture of these tortillas is totally different to the lifeless, rubbery discs you buy in a pack from the supermarket.  The investment (around $30 for the press) is well worthwhile, especially considering the supermarket rubbish costs around $4 a pack.  You will never go back!

Chicken Fajita Marinade

I'm not too sure of the quantities of everything in this, I tend to add a splash of this and a dash of that until it smells right.  As a guide, the basic ingredients and rough quantities are:

3 chicken thighs or breast fillets, cut into thin strips
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp cumin
juice of 1 lemon or lime
30mL tequila or bacardi
1 tsp smokey paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
salt, pepper, and chilli to taste
thinly sliced capsicum and red onion
A good splash of olive oil
A good pinch of dried oregano
1 Very finely ground dried bay leaf
Approx 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaf

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Cook on the BBQ or on cast iron sizzle plates (pictured above).

When you head to Casa Iberica to stock up on spanish/mexican supplies or to get your tortilla press, make sure you grab a couple of Portuguese custard tarts (3 for $5) - one of the best snacks you can buy in Melbourne!