Monday, June 29, 2009

Farewell Leo and Laure

Our dear friends Leo and Laure are moving back to Paris after 4 amazing years in Sydney. But how to farewell them in style? A water-taxi ride from Wooloomooloo to Milsons Point across a sparkling Sydney Harbour for a long Sunday lunch at Aqua Dining. Au revoir darlings!!!!

Scallops with parsnip veloute
Yamba prawns with leek, goats cheese and pesto

Seared Ocean Trout fillet with Yabby and lardon mash and shiraz jus

Grilled sanpper with basil gnocchi, asparagus and celery foam

Sticky date pudding with caramelised banana and vanilla ice-cream
Molten Chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce and toffee ice-ceam
Cheese plate: tarago brie and blue with walnuts, cognac mascerated raisins, honeycomb honey and poppyseed crispbread

Laure (and Leo in background) through a glass of Grosset Watervale Riesling

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Recipe: Tim's BBQ lamb

My stepson Tim has a palate Ferran Adria would kill for. He can accurately dissect the herbs and spices used in just about any dish you put in from of him. Hence he is a home-chef and beer brewer extraordinaire. He is experimental, innovative and instinctual in his meal creations constantly turning out dishes and flavour combinations that leave you oohing and aahing. If you're ever lucky enough to get an invite to his place for a meal his slow cooked, BBQ delights are a speciality! This lamb leg was doused in harissa and honey and cooked for about 2 and half hours.
Harissa and honey slow barbequed roast lamb
Rocket, beetroot, feta and walnut salad

Slow baked eggplant, tomato, spanish onions and chilli

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Recipe: Lamb Abgooshte

Abgooshte literally means 'meat water' because this slow cooked Ethiopian casserole is supposed to have a lot of liquid. You can reduce the liquid further and eat it with rice as a stew if you prefer.
I've adapted this recipe from one I came across in 'Vogue Entertaining and Living'.
It's wowed everyone who I've cooked it for.
It's a perfect dish to prepare on a day when you're tucked up on the couch reading or watching reruns of Will and Grace!
1 can chick peas, rinsed thoroughly in cold water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 lamb shanks
2 red onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
Juice of two lemons
1 litre good chicken stock
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon crushed dried red chillies
4 large potatoes quartered
4 tomatoes peeled, cut into wedges
salt and pepper to taste
bread or rice to serve
Heat oil in a casserole pot (preferably a Le Creuset dish for best results).Add lamb shanks, season with salt and pepper and turn until well-browned all over.Remove from pot. Add onions and cook until browned. Return lamb to the pot and add tomato paste, lemon juice, spices and a chicken stock. Season well. Cover and simmer very gently (just ever so light bubbles on surface of liquid) for 2 hours. Check quantity of liquid . It should be very soupy.
Add potatoes to casserole and cook for 40 minutes. Add tomatoes and chickpeas and cook for a further 20 minutes until lamb meat is falling off the bone. Spoon into bowls and serve with bread or rice.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Anyone for Rudolf?

On a recent Finnair flight via Helsinki I had a chance to do what every foodie dreams of - trying a dish that you may never get a chance to try again. I ate REINDEER. Obviously reindeers are part of the deer family and I've eaten delicious venison dishes on many occasions. But eating a childhood fairytale staple such as reindeer did take a lot of mental preping. I was surprised that for someone who sees a cute lamb gambolling in the fields and immediately thinks of how one of its legs would taste roasted, I couldn't put images of Rudolf, Blitzen et al out of my mind.

The reindeer was brought to my seat piping hot with hash, broccoli and pickled cucumbers on the side. It had a lot of gristle and sinnew but the flavour was rich and gamey. Not for everyone but I'm glad my inner carnivore kicked in and I was able to experience a rare and unusual treat!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Winter warmer - Rabbit Pie

This is not a recipe you can knock together after work I'm afraid. It's a little fiddly and there are a few ingredients. But I spied a fresh farmed rabbit at the Fox Studio Farmers Markets yesterday and THE SCARY INNER FOODIE VOICE said I had to buy it.
A lot of cooks are afraid of rabbit. And rightly so. Its a gamey meat so the meat is rare and can get very dry if overcooked. That's why this Stephanie Alexander recipe produces such a delicious result. The rabbit is first slowly poached in a herb and vegetable broth and then mixed with the sauce and baked in a pie shell. And for those who've never been 'game' to have rabbit - yes, it does taste like chicken!
MARY'S RABBIT PIE - from Stephanie Alexander's THE COOKS COMPANION
1 rabbit
2 litres chicken stock
1 stick celery chopped
1/2 a carrot
1 onion
1 piece lemon zest
1 stalk parsley
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
100g streaky smoked bacon finely diced
200g button mushrooms, sliced
100g flaked almonds
1 cup freshly chopped parsley
freshly ground balck pepper and salt
150g butter
150g plain flour
1.25 litres reserved cooking liquid
200 ml cream
juice of two lemons
freshly fround black pepper
Remove kidneys and liver from the rabbit and reserve. Simmer rabbit in stock with celery, onion, carrot, zest, bay leaf, herbs and peppercorns until back legs test tender - about 1-2 hours.
Allow rabbit to cool completely in stock. Remove rabbit and set strained liquid aside for later use. Strip all meat from carcass and cut into small pieces. Discard bones.
Lightly saute bacon and mushrooms and quickly sear kidneys and liver. Mix rabbit meat with bacon, mushrooms and almonds and chopped kidneys and liver in a bowl. Mix in parsley and season well. Cover with plastic film.
To make the sauce, cook butter and flour over a gentle heat to make a roux. Gradually add the reserved cooking liquid, stirring, and bring to a simmering point. Add cream and lemon juice and simmer for ten minutes on a simmer mat to prevent sauce from sticking. Check for seasoning and add enough sauce to meat to make a creamy, not sloppy, filling. Allow to cool completely.
Preheat oven to 200c. (this next bit is my addition to avoid having to make a shortcrust pastry!)Line a buttered pie dish with store bought pampas puff pastry. Prick holes in the base and bake for ten minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and scoop in the filling, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and top with another sheet of puff pastry.Brush with milk and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm or cold with mustard, chutney or a green leaf salad on the side.
P.S you will have a little broth left-over. Freeze this and either use it for a risotto or a consomme.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Kiddie-friendly Kingsleys

We all know that Kingsley's steak joint at Wooloomooloo's Finger Wharf in Sydney is where big blokes go to eat big chunks of charred meat. But come weekends Kingsley's transforms into a kiddie paradise. Stylish wooden high-chairs, chunky chips or creamy mash washed down with a frothy baby 'chino are just some of the delights that impressed Zach our pint-sized reviewer. And it's also mum and dad friendly!

Here's a selection from our Sunday lunch there last weekend.
Burgundy beef pie with creamy garlic mash and peas

Roast tomato soup with basil oil and ricotta dumplings
Beer-battered barramundi and hand-cut chips

Char-grilled Aged T-Bone with garlic butter

Friday, June 12, 2009

Edible balcony update - Feathered friends

The unexpected advantage of having greenery on your balcony is the visitors who drop by. This pair of rainbow lorikeets ocassionally pops in in the mornings to play see-saw on the branches of my curry leaf tree!

Foodie Destination - Healesville, Victoria

Healesville, in the Yarra Valley in country Victoria is the 'town with eight lives'. Eight times fire has licked at the doors of this country hamlet and eight times it has somehow avoided catastrophe. Including during the recent Black Saturday bushfires which came within 150 metres of the main street. Naturally, Healesville residents feel blessed and this joie de vivre is evident everywhere. Particularly in the food and wine.

Healesville has rich fertile plains and a cool alpine climate. Burly Black Angus cattle poke their heads through the fence lines and vineyards roll on endlessly.

Healesville is famous for its meat, dairy, and wines and is slowly putting itself on the map for its fine dining experiences. Check out the Red Shed for a light luncheon at Medhurst Wines, Innocent Bystander winery on the main street for authentic thin crip pizza with extra vibe on the side and the Healesville Hotel for unctuous, slow-cooked dishes in the prettiest dining room in Australia. It's also won Regional Restaurant of the Year a few times. Stay at the Tuck Inn B&B off the main street so you can stagger back to your room and enjoy a delicious cooked breakfast as part of the reasonable tariff. (But beware: the showers are a tight fit.)
Healesville is only an hour's drive north-east from Melbourne Airport. You'll never never know if you never never go.
French brasserie meets Outback woolshed : Dining-room Healesville Hotel
Open wood fire-place

Duck and mushroom ragu with homemade hand-cut papardelle pasta

Duck breast with local wild blackberries

Black Angus steak with roasted marrow bone and celeriac remoulade

Apple gratin with blackberry sorbet