Saturday, 30 October 2010

Baked risotto

As I have mentioned, I don't cook risotto.  In fact, I recently had a job interview where we discussed my inexplicable inability to cook a risotto.  I seriously have no idea why - I am good at following a recipe and I have enough patience to do most kinds of cake decorating.  Anyway, it falls to G to make the risottos in our house - even the baked ones.  It was also an excuse to break out the paella pan, because I don't have a casserole dish.

This tomato and zucchini baked risotto covered in herbs and parmesan was just scrumptious.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Wedding food taste testing

So G definitely enjoyed the cake taste testing, but we were both looking forward to the food and wine taste testing session at our venue, The Willows.

We were one of 4 couples taste testing but we were the only ones taste testing for a cocktail party.  We definitely got some jealous looks from the other tables as they could only try a couple of things each, whereas we had what looked like a bountiful spread of canapes.  I should say it looked like and was a bountiful spread!

The tuna tartare is at the front next to the sauce - not terribly attractive but my favourite!

We were a little confused when we saw the tart on this plate (with the tomato in the middle) as it had been advertised as cold, but came warm  That was a good move on the chef's part - the pastry was just wonderful and the filling was nice warm.

The satay was yum, and the meatballs (though unattractive) were delicious too.  The chorizo (far back right corner of the plate) just tasted like the top of a pizza without a base.

Of course, even though we have chosen a wedding cake, we couldn't resist trying some dessert canapes!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Bill's Food

I've owned Bill Granger's boks for a while, and have really only cooked out of one of them previously - you may recall a number of posts I did about Open Kitchen.

Right now I have decided to focus on Bill's Food.  I also own Bill's Sydney Food (which I didn't feel was appropriate as I have just moved to Melbourne!) and Holiday.

As you can probably tell from the dog-earred tags on the book in the picture below, I have been considering cooking from this book for a while.  I think it is typical Bill - a nicely divided book with breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and dessert recipes.  I am particularly excited about cooking corn fritters - which I have had the pleasure of eating for breakfast in Bill's restaurant in Surry Hills, Sydney.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Cupcake Bakery in Melbourne

The Cupcake Bakery has arrived in Melbourne (shortly before I did apparently!)

I have seen 3 locations in the CBD:
  • Near the Rialto Tower
  • On the corner of Elizabeth and Flinders Lane
  • in Melbourne Central
Of course, we had to try to see if Melbourne was the same standard as Sydney...  Rest assured cupcake lovers, the Cupcake Bakery is good here too!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Emerald Deli macarons

The Emerald Deli at the South Melbourne markets produces very tall macarons.  Too tall really, as there is too much air between the crisp outer shell and the meagre amount of soft biscuit underneath.

But the flavours, oh the flavours.  The flavours are good, intense and exactly as advertised.  They are hampered somewhat by some awkward decorating - the mint and orange macarons are indicated by child like swirls of food colouring through the biscuit.

Also, though it is hard to see here, the macarons have a sheen, as though they have been sprinkled with edible dust.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Dim sims at the South Melbourne markets

Whoa nelly, these were awesome

That's G lining up during a lull to buy a couple of the famed dim sims.  We had ours fried with mushroom dark soy sauce.

Really crisp on the outside, delicious shredded meat and cabbage on the inside and a hint of spice to give a little zing at the end!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Is the Macaron the next cupcake?

Ever since Adriana Zumbo appeared on Masterchef earlier this year the macaron has been everywhere.  Some of my favourite bloggers have made dozens of variations of macarons - have a look at Tartelette's recipe index. 

However, I remember enjoying these little coconut biscuits all over France, Belgium and Luxembourg in 2004 and not paying terribly much for the pleasure!  These days I can't find a macaron in Melbourne for less than $2.40 (although not so long ago $2 per piece was standard - inflation I guess)

My ideal biscuit?  A crisp outer shell with lots of soft coconut goodness underneath before a delicious, creamy, flavourful filling - not overfilled though.

Unfortunately most places get it wrong.  Too often there is too much air between the crisp outer shell and the soft biscuit, or even worse, no softness at all.  Overfilling is also a problem.  To my mind this means that the biscuit is not good enough and the bakery is relying on the filling.  Really, a balance of the crispness, the softness and the creaminess is essential.

I don't intend on reviewing every macaron maker in Melbourne (my new home town) but I do seem to be drawn to them at the moment, so expect a few.  I'm even considering taking a class and learning how to make macarons.  I expect that once I have done that (and learnt how tricky they are to make) I will be more forgiving of the cafes that don't make them perfectly every time

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Alice in Wonderland cupcakes

Cupcakes with jam centres - my interpretation of Queen of Hearts jam tarts.

My friend A works at a government department that takes morning tea very seriously.  So seriously that it is a competition.  My friend's theme was Alice in Wonderland, and they called it the Madhatter's Munch. She and I decided on vanilla cupcakes with jam centres, topped with a variety of buttercreams, sprinkles and some 3D cats ears and top hats.

Jam centres are super easy to do - just hollow out the cupcake, pour in some melted good quality strawberry jam and put the lid back on.  You will be left with some cupcake innards to nibble on!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Good quality ingredients

As some of you may know, I have recently moved interstate.   Prior to that I was couch (and spare bedroom) surfing for 3 weeks.

As you can probably imagine I have been eating out an awful lot, saying farewell to all my friends.  On those nights that I have been cooking I have been limited. To ensure that I am still enjoying a delicious dinner I have been buying good quality but simple ingredients, like these pastas and sauces available at Kingston IGA and the Kingston Old Bus Depot Markets.

The garlic and basil linguine is the best!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Cake decorating demonstration at Floriade

Today I went to Floriade, Canberra's annual flower festival.  However, I was more interested in the cake demonstration by Emma from Sugar and Slice Cakes.

She demonstrated different decorating techniques on cupcakes.  I am feeling really inspired to make a collection of decorations and leave them ready to use at the next opportunity!

Kneading the fondant:

Making a bow:

Hand modelling a flower:

Using the Americolour foodwriter pens:

Of course, some flowers...