Sunday, 31 January 2010

Delicious February 2010 review

This month's Delicious has a beautiful cover - light, summery and tasty looking.  It came with a calico library book bag (between A4 and A3 size with short handles) with an ice cream cone printed on the front of the bag, which was a nice suprise.  Though the magazine has been around for a while this is the first All-Australian issue - usually there are a smattering of Jamie Oliver/Rick Stein/Gordon Ramsay recipes.  
Especially helpful in the magazine is the recipe index right near the back of the magazine - this makes it super easy to find a recipe, presuming you can remember the title of the recipe.  The index is helpfully divided up into starters, mains, sides and sweet. There were 58 recipes in this month's mag - 15 starters, 24 mains, 13 sweets and a handful of sides. 

Recipes that I definitely want to make:
  • Brioche french toast
  • Asparagus salad with poached eggs
  • Heirloom tomato tart with goat's cheese
  • Pumpkin lemonade scones
  • Trout with crunchy smashed potatoes
  • Spiced rice salad
A lot of the other recipes sound delicious, but contain ingredients I don't enjoy the taste of  (rosewater, pork chops, smoked eel).

Saturday, 30 January 2010

'Book' of the moment

Just a quick note, as well as cooking from cookbooks (a new one is coming next week) I'm also going to be cooking regularly from Delicious magazine.  I was lucky enough to receive a subscription to Delicious as a Christmas gift so will share my experiences cooking from it, as well as the cook books already in my collection.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Jane's krazy mixed up salt

You used to be able to get Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt in the supermarket when I grew up in Melbourne, but then it disappeared off the shelves.  It's an American product, details here.  We could only get the 'plain' version, but there are many others, as you can see on the website.

However, it hasn't been available in Australia for a LONG time - not that I have been able to locate anyway.  So I was very excited when I saw it at a supermarket near my apartment when I lived in Japan.  I bought a few packages, and gave one to G's parents, who also love it. 

Unfortunately I am coming to the end of my final shaker.

Apparently I am not the only one in Australia who loves this salt. I have found a blog called manthatcooks and one of his readers did some research and found an Australian stockist:

Exclusive Food Houses
181-187 Chesterville Road
Moorabbin. VICTORIA

So I will have to give a stockist list from them ASAP. 

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Smoked tasmanian salt

G's parents went to Tasmania and came back with some amazing stories about what they had eaten, along with a few samples for the rest of us to try!  The dark chocolate covered fresh raspberries were pretty spectacular.  They also brought back something pretty abnormal - smoked sea salt (Maldon brand, website here).

For some reason, the Tasmanian stockist is not listed on the Maldon website, though there is one Australian stockist of the smoked salt listed (F Mayer imports) so I just need to figure out how I can order some to be delivered to me in Canberra. 

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Some Australia Day cakes

Today, and last night, I made a couple of varieties of cupcakes to fit the Australia Day theme - pavlova cupcakes courtesy of a Donna Hay recipe and a batch of my tried and tested cupcakes that I turned into 'lamingtons'.   The Donna Hay pavlova cupcake recipe is available online here and I've blogged my recipe of my tried and tested previously here.

The pavlova cupcakes look beautiful, and taste great as is.  Even better is when you pop the pavlova top off and putting in some raspberry coulis and whipped cream, and sandwiching the pavlova top back on.  It will make an absolute mess, and you should definitely lean over your plate when you eat the cupcake like that!

I don't really like lamingtons.  The cake portion tends to be dry and the chocolate outside generally just tastes like sugar.  So I whipped up a batch of the tried and tested vanilla cupcakes, baked them in a mini size and piled on some dark chocolate ganache and shredded coconut - lamington appearance, with a delicious taste!

Monday, 25 January 2010

My tried and tested frittata

I have made the frittata so many times that I don't remember the recipe, nor where I got it from in the first place!

Basically, I used a slice tray (sometimes called a lamington tray in Australia) and chop up enough vegies to loosely layer them in and fill the tray half way up, then I add in 6 beaten eggs and bake.

Some delicious flavour combinations:
  • tomato, olives and capers with some parmesan cheese
  • tinned tuna, cooked potatoes and parsley with some tasty cheese
  • antipasto mix - roasted things like capsicum, eggplant, tomatoes with some fetta
  • cooked potatoes, tomato, brie and topped off with some smoked salmon after it has cooked
I always serve it with a nice big salad, using all the vegies I have left in my fridge.  

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Purple cupcakes

One of the paralegals at work graduated recently, with a Bachelor of Laws.  When I graduated with the same degree I wore a purple stole, and I just assumed he would too.  Unfortunately he graduated from a different University which uses different colours!

Anyway, I didn't know that when I made him purple cupcakes!

It took 3 different colours of food dye to achieve purple - purple (due to the colour of the butter the purple food dye made the batter look grey), red and blue.  Of course, the outside of the cupcake still ended up brown, as you can see, but the inside of the cake was a great colour. 

I am really keen to try to make other coloured cupcakes, if I can think of a good enough excuse.  Maybe green and yellow for Australia day.. or red and blue for a Melbourne Demons game.

I used the gel food colourings, so I didn't have to add much to the batter to achieve the colour - this also means I didn't have to compensate and add extra flour, though that would be something to bear in mind if you use liquid food dye.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Cupcake Factory

The Cupcake Factory is on Darling St in Balmain (Syd) and we bought 3 options to try - caramel, strawberry chocolate curl and lime coconut.  Click here to see their website.  Though, for some inexplicable reason, not all the flavours available in the store are listed on the website. 
Price wise, this was very reasonable.  At 3:30pm on a Friday afternoon these little beauties were being sold for 3 cakes for the price of 2, so how could we resist???  Lovely swirls of icing, with just a little decoration certainly makes these look appealing.

The cakes themselves aren't anything special.  They are quite dry (the lime and coconut was the least dry, though still not what I would describe as 'moist').

The icing was fantastic!  So smooth, sweet and buttery, but in a great balance so neither was overpowering.  The little bits of decoration were good - and not too strong.  I know I have dismissed other strawberry flavours for being too sweet, or tasting only like sugar, but the strawberry chocolate curls were good - they really tasted and smelled like strawberries.  I wonder where I can get some more...

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Lemon Cheesecake

This one got off to a rocky start unfortunately.  I followed the recipe for the base and there was nowhere near enough mixture to create the crust - I ended up making 2 1/2 times the recipe to get a good amount of mixture.

Luckily, it was plain sailing from there.  The mixture was very simple to put together, though next time I will let the cream cheese beat by itself for longer in the stand mixer to ensure no lumps.  Then you just pop it in the oven while you mix up the 2nd layer of filling - even easier than the first.

Thankfully, although strangely, the filling mixture was sufficient - and delicious!  Served with a little bit of raspberry coulis of course.

Monday, 18 January 2010

My tried and tested savoury muffins

What to do when you have bought way too many carrots? Or zucchinis?  As long as you have some cheese (and flour, eggs and milk) you can turn them into some delicious savoury muffins.

A good formula:
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 cups grated vegetables
1 cup cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Sift the flour and baking powder together, stir in the vegetables and half the cheese
Mix milk, eggs and oil together.
Add wet mix to dry mix and stir until combined.
Bake 25 mins at 180 degrees

Saturday, 16 January 2010


Shortly after Christmas G and I enjoyed dinner in Sydney, at Tetsuya's (Tetsuya's website), my Christmas present to him.

Tetsuya's is on Kent Street, in the Sydney CBD.  The main dining room, where we sat, looks over a small Japanese garden.  We didn't get much of a chance to have a look around the restaurant, but there seemed to be at least two main dining areas (ours was the smaller), and the website advertised private dining rooms too. 

Tetsuya's was recently ranked the 17th best restaurant in the world by San Pellegrino (website), the highest ranked Australian restaurant.  Incidentally, El Bulli was ranked first. 

The food at Tetsuya's was magnificent.  A degustation menu, described as between 10 and 12 courses, and then when you include the palate cleaners and the petit fours with coffee it turned out to be 13 courses, including the optional oyster course.

The courses (accompanied by sour dough bread with butter mixed with ricotta, black pepper and truffles):
1. Tomato gazpacho with goat's curd - a wonderful taste of great tomatoes
2. Port Douglas oysters served with rice wine vinegar, finger limes and chives - creamy oysters with a deliciously tart dressing
3. Jamon served with Sicilian olives and grapes - absolutely melt in the mouth
4. Roasted scampi served on braised witlof - sweet scampi with smoky, bitter witlof was a fantastic taste combination
5. Octopus ravioli in a tomato, black olive and oregano sauce - odd combination, strange texture of the octopus but a wonderful taste
6. Confit of trout - the best dish.  Soft, delicious trout with a crisp kelp skin on a bed of trout roe.  Absolutely amazing
7. Chicken breast with foie gras and corn potatoes - the chicken was "medium-rare" but really was just beautifully moist and did not appear to be uncooked in the middle
8. Wagyu with soy and sour cherry sauce and braised leeks - the beef was amazing, so tender and the sauce was a great sweet/salty blend
9. Cannellini beans with caramelised soy sauce and mascarpone - weird mushy beans in an amazing sauce
10. White balsamic ice cream in a strawberry and watermelon bath - the ice cream was fantastic, the fruit was so intense
11. Tetsuya's summer pudding - white chocolate custard, summer pudding and then fluffy white chocolate mousse on top, phenomenal, probably the best dessert
12 Salted sable with lemon cream and leatherwood honey - even the honey was spectacular
13. Petit fours with coffee - coffee and date friand (delicious and moist), chocolate macaroon with pink peppercorn filling (awesome) and green tea marshmallow (disgusting, even Tetsuya can't make green tea flavouring taste good)

The coffee was served in what looked like Hagi-yaki (the pottery that was made in the town in Japan that I lived in) and was dark, but not too strong.

We just had a bottle of champagne to share and a glass of muscat with dessert, although there is an option for a wine course to match ($90 per head) but I couldn't bring myself to drink that much. 

There were at least 15 waiters and 2 restaurant managers that we could see, and the service was impeccable - friendly and attentive but discreet when required.

It was an absolutely fantastic night, we arrived at 7pm and left around 11:15 - there were sufficient breaks between courses so that it wasn't until right at the end that I felt really full.  I would love to go again - it would be interesting to see what Tetsuya produces in winter - although I would need to book now for that!

Book of the (ongoing) moment: Cheesecakes of the World

So I am probably not going to cook out of this book every week - otherwise there is no way I will fit into a wedding dress that is not a tent!  Instead, I will cook from it as the occasion demands.

I bought this book from a bookseller that used to come to my offices, and it was a bargain - $10 with delivery to my office.

The 'of the world' part of the title is quite accurate.  There is an amazing range of cheesecakes with all kinds of ingredients.  There are cheesecakes that are 'American' (NY style baked cakes), cakes that use ricotta with cream cheese (Italian), cakes that use yoghurt or cottage cheese (Middle Eastern) and even a cake that uses cooked rice (Jamaican).

Every recipe comes with a picture of the completed cake, presented simply and looking super delicious.  Most of the cakes in the book are baked cakes.  Each recipe is pretty simple and the ingredients are listed in categories of 'base' and 'filling' and most of the recipes have less than 5 steps - a couple of which can always be done in the food processor (the base) and the stand mixer (beating the filling).

Really, it was the picture of the frozen peppermint cheesecake that really sold this book for me.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The end of Faking It

I am now finished cooking my way through Faking It - I have made 13 recipes from the book, 11 savoury and 2 desserts. 

  • I wouldn't make the desserts again - neither turned out the way they looked in the book, and there didn't seem to be enough mixture created by either recipe
  • The mushroom risoni is likely to become a regular dish in my house - super easy, super tasty.  I just make 3/ 4 of the recipe for a stand alone meal for the 2 of us (or if I serve it with meat of some sort I then get some leftovers for lunch the next day)
  • The salmon roulade tasted fantastic, and looked super impressive too
  • The stroganoff was phenomonal - I would happily make a vegetarian pasta dish by leaving out the beef and adding some fresh tomato mixture to the sauce for a delicious dinner
  • I would put the cajun fish and the stuffed mushrooms on the boring side of the spectrum - unlikely to make either again.
Have to spend some time in front of the cookbook shelf and figure out what to cook from next - considering one (or all) of either Bill Granger or Jamie Oliver's books, or the new Australian Gourmet Traveller cookbook G received for Christmas from my mum.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Fettucine with sausage and peas

Again, a lot of modifications.  Firstly, I don't love pork (ham, bacon, roast pork, pork sausages - all of it counts) so I replaced the pork sausages with chicken sausages.  Also, you are supposed to squeeze the meat out of the casings and make meatballs, which I did in the meatball soup recipe, but didn't repeat here.  I simply cut the sausages into 'meatball sized chunks' and cooked them.  Secondly, my dislike of pork is eclipsed by my dislike of peas, so I replaced them with diced asparagus.  I otherwise complied with the recipe instructions. 

Now, the dish is not the most attractive one in the book (predominantly white and pale green) so I had low expectations appearance wise, and they were not surpassed.

However, the taste was amazing (once I added a bit of pepper!).

Monday, 11 January 2010

Gnocchi cottage pies

I have modified this recipe a lot!  Firstly, I didn't make the mince mixture as required in the book.  That recipe called for 12 ingredients - several of which I didn't have.  So I swapped the following:
  • beef mince for lamb
  • left out the pancetta - and replaced the flavour with seasonings
  • used more stock and left out the red wine
  • altered the seasonings a lot - recipe asks for thyme and bay leaves, whereas I used oregano, basil, chilli and parsley
  • I used carrot (as the recipe said) and more vegies - zucchini and mushrooms
I then used olive oil on top of the gnocchi before I sprinkled on parmesan.  So simply, my version of the recipe is cook a delicious mince mixture, using whatever vegies and seasoning you like and then top it with cooked gnocchi and grated parmesan.  Into the oven for 30 minutes and you'll have a delicious dinner.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

No bake chocolate tarts

This is basically a crushed biscuit base (food processor = super quick) with ganache poured on top, and is absolutely delicious.

That is not to say that the recipe was faultless.  In line with my experience with the chocolate torte the recipe did not produce enough mixture - either of the biscuit base or of the ganache.

For the base:  I needed a little more biscuit, and a lot more liquid (golden syrup and butter).  In the end the tarts did not hold together terribly well.

For the ganache: I should have made more - the tarts were not as full as I would have liked.

All said and done, the tarts were delicious.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Japanese Prawn, pickled vegetable and noodle salad

For starters, I don't love prawns.  So I did my bowl with cubed bits of ling (not the best choice) and G had his with what he said were super delicious tiger prawns, and the prawns do make it look nicer (and more like the picture in Faking It).

Simple to do, but takes a while as you need to marinate the cucumber and carrot in the rice vinegar and brown sugar syrup for at least an hour.  The sweetness of the vegetables (which I let marinate for about 90 minutes) was beautifully balanced out by the salty dressing pured over the salad at the end. 

Modifications?  Aside from the fish/prawn modification I used snow peas, not snow pea sprouts, and I added a squeeze of lime at the end. 

Monday, 4 January 2010

Choclatte Cafe

What we have here was described as a chocolate mud cupcake and a vanilla cupcake with strawberry icing. What we had?  A spongey style chocolate cupcake, with pretty good ganache on top and a 'strawberry' scented cupcake that was just too sweet!  Add to that unfriendly service, inability to get my order right (1 coffee, 2 cupcakes turned into 1 coffee, 1 cake and 1 milkshake) and generally too expensive for what we received - $12.50 for my proper order. 
I have had pretty good dark hot chocolates at this cafe before ('single origin' according to their menu) which are a little cheaper than those around the corner at Koko Black.

To try the hot chocolates head to 827 Burke Rd, Camberwell, VIC - and if you want a sponge chocolate cupcake then get one - it was good, but absolutely not mud!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Bodum tea glasses

G and I were lucky enough to be given a pair of Bodum Canteen glasses (info here).  The glasses are double-walled glass, and they hold 100ml of liquid.  Somewhat surprisingly the glasses are dishwasher safe, even though they look so delicate. 

We have been using our glasses for milky chai tea, but I think that they would look lovely with some strong green or black tea inside. 

Saturday, 2 January 2010


I have developed a taste for oysters, probably over the last 3 years.  I like them most ways now, but not kilpatrick.

For our early Christmas with G's family we were responsible for a salad and 2 kinds of dressing for 4 dozen oysters.

I cheated for the first dressing and G bought a bottle of Tetsuya's Oyster Vinaigrette (info here) from David Jones in the city.  It is a delicious blend of oils and vinegars with some soy and ginger thrown in, and tastes amazing.  The second recipe I used was from and is called 'Lime and Chilli Dressing'.  It's simple - lime juice, fish sauce, salt, sugar and chilli.  That was also pretty awesome. 

(Tetsuya's dressing is on the left in the picture)

Tonight for dinner I mixed up the lime and chilli dressing and poured it over a quick vegie stir fry - fantastic