Monday, May 23, 2016

Brunch @ The Emporium Parramatta (and some cute costumes)

Recently we made a weekend trip to our old stomping ground of Parramatta to catch up with friends and see the Miss Fisher costume exhibition. A friend suggested we meet for brunch at The Emporium Parramatta ... she hadn't tried it but had heard good reviews. Sure enough, the feast was delicious and the setting perfect for a gossipy catch-up! The menu featured:

Cured King Salmon with broccolini, poached egg,
dill yoghurt, watercress and sourdough

Brioche French toast, Nutella, caramelised
banana, maple syrup and hazelnuts

Sautéed mushrooms, hummus, kale, poached
eggs and cashew dukkah

It was fabulous to catch up with my two friends (we all worked together about 25 years ago). Looking forward to next time already ...

After brunch we headed off to Old Government House for the costume exhibition. It didn't disappoint. A few pics:

We're never sorry we moved away from Sydney it's too crowded and too expensive there to lead a quiet life but it was lovely to spend a couple of days as visitors.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday night treat ... spicy potatoes and snow peas

A delicious way to draw a line under the working week.

potatoes, cut into wedges
snow peas
fresh ginger, garlic, chillies and spring onions
vegetable oil

Make a paste of the ginger, garlic, chillies and spring onions. (I used a mortar and pestle, though a blender may have been easier!) Fry the potato wedges in the oil until starting to become tender, then add the spice paste and continue cooking. When all are nicely combined, add the snow peas and stir fry a little longer.

Enjoy ;-)

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Ginger Crunch

One of my favourite New Zealand recipes! Not one but two of my NZ friends mentioned they were making ginger crunch this weekend and so a craving was born. I won't post the recipe here as I use the one in the Edmonds Cookery Book and it is (presumably) copyright, but it seems a sugar company has reproduced the recipe on its website. The only alteration I make is to double the amount of ground ginger in both the base and the icing ... mmmmmm.

Sunday afternoon tea

My 1983 edition of the Edmonds Cookery Book. A New Zealand icon!

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Pomegranate season!

Saturday afternoons have become a cook-fest in my household. Well, I cook up a storm while Andrew climbs local hills. Today I celebrated the arrival of domestic pomegranates by making a pumpkin, eggplant, pecan and pomegranate stew (see below) and some baked apples with cinnamon, maple syrup and sultanas for dessert.

This dish is a local version of the Persian favourite fesenjān (or fesenjoon). I cobbled this recipe together from several available on the web. The main alteration made (because I prefer to use local rather than imported ingredients where possible) was to use pecans instead of the traditional walnuts.

1 large onion, chopped
olive oil
0.5 teaspoon turmeric
0.5 teaspoon cinnamon
half a pumpkin, cubed
one large eggplant, cubed
2 cups vegetable stock
0.5 cup pomegranate molasses (try Middle Eastern grocery shops or delis)
1 cup pecan nuts, roasted and roughly chopped
seeds from a fresh pomegranate (currently in season here in Australia!)
fresh parsley, chopped

Heat the oil in a large pot and add the onion. Cook until translucent, then add the spices and cook a little longer. Add the pumpkin and eggplant chunks and stir till they're coated in the spices. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and add the pomegranate molasses and pecans. Simmer for about twenty minutes. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley to serve. This recipe makes about six or seven portions. Freeze leftovers for another day.

Today I made enough for tonight's dinner
plus three other week night feasts

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Dissolution ≠ disillusion

I'm disillusioned about politics in Australia. I mean, who isn't? But I wish radio hosts would stop calling the approaching double dissolution election a 'double disillusion'.

Oh well.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

All aboard the Indian Pacific

Late last year I saw an advertisement for early purchase discounts on the Indian Pacific train and thought ... why not?! We've actually travelled on the Indian Pacific before, from Sydney to Adelaide about ten years ago and from Perth to Adelaide about four years ago. This time we wanted to travel from Adelaide to Sydney ... so that's what we did earlier this week! The journey from Adelaide to Sydney (or vice versa) is only about 25 hours and includes a wander around Broken Hill.

Just thought I'd share a few pics from the journey. Mostly food, of course ...

OK, so I'm a train nerd. There's more about other train journeys we've enjoyed here if you're interested ...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Dinner @ Grazing, Gundaroo

For several years now Andrew and I have regularly dined at Grazing in Gundaroo. It's where fine dining meets country pub ... spectacular food, friendly service, and a roaring fire if you go there in winter. In short, nice! Grazing is a great choice for special occasions and our latest visit was a couple of weeks ago to celebrate a birthday. The menu showcases food and wine from the Canberra district.

This time I enjoyed:

The vego entrée: machengo custard with shaved
raw asparagus, almonds, broccolini and peas

Slow-cooked pork belly for main course

Frozen caramel and salted hazelnut custard with
chocolate parfait for dessert (the waitstaff heard someone
in our party was having a birthday and decorated his plate)


Grazing is in the Royal Hotel Building on the corner of Cork and Harp Streets in Gundaroo, about a half hour drive from Canberra.

Grazing Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Edible gifts: Nutty maple granola

A café we frequented in Sydney (alas, long gone) used to serve an addictively yummy granola. It was crunchy, nutty, and not excessively sweet, and I wondered if I could make something similar. Well ... can't claim it is the same, but this recipe (adapted from one received from a friend) is well worth a try:

6 tablespoons (real) maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups rustic rolled oats (not the quick-cooking variety)
2/3 cups nuts of your choice (almonds, hazel nuts and pecans work well)
1/3 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Melt the maple syrup and butter together in a saucepan but don't let it boil. Mix the oats, nuts and coconut together in a bowl. Combine all ingredients, then spread out on a non-stick baking tray. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times.

This is far too decadent (read: sugary and buttery) for everyday use, but makes a wonderful weekend breakfast treat or edible gift. Store in an airtight container once completely cooled.

Today I used cashews, pecans and pistachios

Reflecting on recipes followed and food eaten

This is the seventh year in a row I've used an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of meals cooked and eaten at home. It's pretty easy. I keep a weekly menu to save time, prevent waste and maintain variety and just transfer my hand-written scribbles into the spreadsheet every few weeks. It's a useful exercise as not only does it provide an interesting glimpse into our evolving lives and diets, the spreadsheet itself reminds me of dishes I'd forgotten and should rediscover!

Andrew's talented sister Fiona made a series
of t-shirts featuring their Dad's aphorisms.
Once in a while I DO try a new recipe that's
just too awful to record. Not very often though ...

So, what have we eaten this year? I traipse off to an office four days per week so week night food tends to be either quick and easy to make, or defrosted from a previous weekend's cooking spree. The dishes we ate most often between April 2015 and April 2016 were (drum roll please):

Potato, leek, bacon and bean soup
Hearty vegetable and barley soup
Pasta with sauce
BLTs (sandwiches or wraps)
Chinese dumplings
Spanish omelette
Potato salad
Dal makhani
Pumpkin and pomegranate stew
Rocket, pear, pecan and blue cheese salad
Teriyaki tofu

Well, I certainly manage to cover a range of cuisines. My goal for the coming year? Cook yet more spicy delights! Cheers.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Lentil, cauliflower and sweet potato soup

In November last year I posted a link to a lovely lentil, cauliflower and sweet potato curry/soup recipe on someone else's blog. I had good intentions of making the soup again today but the blog had disappeared! Eeeek. There was a big pile of ingredients on my bench and no recipe. My partner very kindly trawled the web and found a cached version, but I'm gonna summarise the main points here in case I want to make it again:

sweet potatoes
vegetable stock
red lentils
fresh ginger
black mustard seeds
garam masala

Throw all the ingredients in a large saucepan and simmer until veges are soft. Mash or blend to taste. Garnish with fresh coriander [cilantro] if liked. This soup freezes well for later lunches or week night meals. Enjoy!

Happy Eggs Benedict Day!

Numerous websites declare 16 April to be Eggs Benedict Day. No idea why, but as a big fan of Eggs Benedict (especially the smoked salmon version) I say ... why not! Here's an easy recipe for Hollandaise sauce if you fancy making your own Eggs Benedict.

2 large egg yolks
2/3 tablespoon of lemon juice
80 grams of butter
1 tablespoon of cold water
salt and pepper to taste

Place everything but the butter into a blender, and blend for about 30 seconds till light and creamy. Melt the butter in a microwave and while the blender is running, gradually add the hot butter. Continue blending for about 30 seconds after you add the last of the butter. Keep sauce warm until ready to use in a bowl over simmering water, or if making for later, store covered in the fridge. Sauce can be reheated by microwaving on high for 20 to 30 seconds and then whisking vigorously. If it separates, add a dash of boiling water and whisk until it recombines.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Besan Laddu [chickpea flour sweets]

My friend very kindly made an Indian-style banquet for dinner tonight so I volunteered to bring an appropriate dessert. Not my recipe ... I found it here:

(If you're reading this in Australia and puzzling over the ingredients: one cup of butter is approximately 225 grams, powdered sugar is also known as icing sugar, and chickpea flour is also known as besan.)

Absolutely delicious!

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Cremacious or crematious? Inventing a new adjective

Sometimes you need a word to describe something and that word doesn't exist. My partner Andrew tends to make up new words when that happens! This morning he noted that his coffee had an impressive layer of crema and pronounced it cremacious (or perhaps crematious). Either way, our coffees were delicious.

Cremacious delights at Tilley's this morning

Monday, March 28, 2016

(Spicy) corn muffins

When we were in Canada in 2008 (oh, Canada) we discovered a couple of local 'delicacies'. One was poutine (a heart attack on a plate  French fries, cheese curd and gravy  no recipe required, surely!) and another was the hot breakfast sandwich at Tim Hortons. Here in Australia a biscuit is a cookie, but in Canada it seems it is a type of scone/muffin featuring cornmeal. Having become a bit addicted to them while there I searched for a recipe when we returned.

Corn Biscuits

1 cup wholemeal flour
0.5 cup cornmeal (also known as polenta)
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
paprika (optional, if you'd like a touch of spice)
0.5 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, beaten
0.75 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix the dry ingredients. Add the egg. Mix thoroughly and stir in the milk and butter. Spoon into greased muffin pans and bake at 180 degrees C for about fifteen minutes. These freeze well for weekday lunches.

This mixture makes about five large
muffins or ten to twelve mini muffins

Monday, March 21, 2016

Carrot and coriander soup

1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, chopped roughly
1 leek, chopped roughly
1 kg carrots, chopped roughly
3 cups vegetable stock
1 bunch coriander [cilantro], chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and leek and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add carrots and stock, and simmer till carrots are soft. Remove from heat, and purée until almost smooth. Reheat till almost boiling, then add coriander, pepper and salt.

Enjoy! Serves four.