Monday, November 29, 2010

Quinoa pomegranate salad - and whack a pom

If you look through the Recipe list for this blog, you'll notice some recurring ingredients, namely quinoa and chorizo.  Well, don't fret, there's a recipe with chorizo coming up in a couple of days, but for now, how about some more KEEN-wah? 

This salad was inspired by a colourful dish over at Scandifoodie. It seems I am not half as healthy or resourceful as Maria when it comes to ingredients, so I've substituted quinoa for rye grain, and spinach for kale, though the pomegranate is there in all its glory.  This is a lovely salad especially if you cook the quinoa in chicken stock instead of just water - it adds more flavour to counteract the sweetness of the craisins and pomegranate. I also added some grilled prawns for even more seasaltiness though the salad is filling enough on its own.

And remember how to remove the seeds from a pomegranate: cut the pomegranate in half, then hold one half, cut side down, over a large bowl. Hit the pom with a rolling pin and the seeds should fall out (a lot of juice will also spray out, hence the large bowl).  This method is known as 'whacking a Pom'This method will also hopefully be employed during the Ashes tests.

Quinoa and Pomegranate Salad
serves 3-4

1 cup quinoa
2 cups reduced salt chicken stock
50g baby spinach leaves, shredded
1/4 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1/2 pomegranate, seeds extracted
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

4 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
1 tblsp pomegranate molasses
salt and pepper

1.  To cook the quinoa: rinse the quinoa in a fine sieve, drain, then place in a medium saucepan with the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until the quinoa is soft and the liquid has evaporated.  Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
2.  For the dressing: Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a jug or bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3.  To assemble the salad: Fluff up the quinoa with a fork, then combine with the spinach, craisins and pomegranate seeds.  Pour over the dressing and toss through.  Sprinkle with walnuts and serve.

Ingredients, including olive oil, pomegranate molasses, red wine vinegar, quinoa, unwhacked pomegranate, spinach and walnuts.
Other nuts, such as cashews, would also be fantastic in this salad.
A bowl of high-protein deliciousness.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Candied Bacon with Ice Cream plus a Giveaway

 Sweet or salty - which one are you?

There are times when a hit of salt is needed to offset an overdose of sweetness, and vice versa.  For example, craving a sweet, juicy apple after devouring a bag of chips, or whipping up a slice of Vegemite toast (with lots of butter) minutes after scoffing a couple of vanilla choc buttercream macarons. Oh, you've done it too? Good, I knew I wasn't the only one...

I suppose that's the theory behind mixing salt/sugar with traditionally sweet/savoury foods.  This idea for candied bacon is attributed to David Lebovitz, but really, who doesn't love maple syrup with bacon, or dipping your McDonald's brekkie muffin in honey?

So, candied bacon makes a brilliant topping for sweet ice cream. Here, I've combined the bacon with the new Peters Overload ice cream in Caramel Cookie Madness flavour. They are HEAVENLY together. Trust me.

Candied Bacon
serves ? (let's say 3-4, but no promises)

5 slices bacon, about 3mm thick (not too thin)
2 tsp light brown sugar for each slice

1.  Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
2.  Trim the fat from the bacon if the rind is particularly thick.  If there is too much fat, it will soak the bacon when it cooks and it will spit, as well.
3.  Place bacon on a baking tray lined with foil or baking paper.  Sprinkle each slice of bacon with brown sugar, spreading it out to coat.
4.  Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the bacon becomes a dark mahogany colour.  Keep an eye on it as it can go dark or burn quite quickly.
5.  Remove from the oven, cool on the baking tray, then chop into pieces when cool. 
Hint: Don't drain on paper towels as the caramelised sugar will stick to the paper.
6.  Serve on top of ice cream, mixed into a salad, or eat as is, as a snack.

Recipe from David Lebovitz

Thick-cut bacon is sprinkled with brown sugar. 

The resultant bacon after baking. Incredible colour and flavour!

Candied bacon with caramel cookie madness ice cream.
The salty sweetness of the bacon goes so well with the ice cream with its chunky pieces of soft cookie and caramel sauce

 One scoop is barely enough.

Peters Overload Ice Cream Kit Giveaway!

Thanks to Nestlé*, you could win a tub of each of the 3 new Peters Overload flavours: Violet Crumble, Caramel Cookie Madness and Rolo. The rich Peters ice cream is combined with chunks of your favourite chocolate bars, or gooey caramel sauce and soft cookie pieces.
Also included in the prize is an ice cream scoop and a set of 4 ice cream bowls.

I can verify that the chunk-to-ice cream ratio is just perfect - not too little, not too much.

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with the magic word 'chunktastic' and tell me what your ideal ice cream would be - mix it up and go wild: the more outrageous, the better!
Entries close 7th December 2010.

Conditions of Giveaway
1.  Prize can only be delivered to Australian addresses. Limited delivery area applies.
2.  Enter as many times as you like. Winning entry will be chosen based on originality and entertainment value. Entry must contain the magic word ('chunktastic'). If you also say that 'coriander is evil', then bonus points will be awarded.
3. Competition closes at midnight 7th December 2010.  Winner will be notified by email, so an email address should accompany your entry. Or send details to

*Thanks to Nestlé and Vanessa at Momentum for providing the giveaway prize and samples of Peters Overload.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Adriano Zumbo CakeWalk Summer 2010

 Tonight was the night that Adriano Zumbo Patissier unveiled his long-awaited Summer cake range, in an even longer-awaited Cakewalk.

It was held at Rosebud Restaurant and Bar in Rozelle, NSW. Over one hundred and fifty fans of the Adriano Zumbo Appreciation (facebook) page were quick to respond to the invitation and we tried to squeeze into the venue with the hope that the local occupational health and safety and fire departments were otherwise occupied.

The pretty models were part of the NSW Miss Country Girl pageant:

Fortunately, there lots of samples of the new range were provided for us to taste.  This made up for the incessantly long wait for the show to start.

 This licorice cake was gorgeously black. It had pop rocks inside.
{Flacco ref here}

Thanks for a great cakewalk parade.
Best of luck with the new range: It looks faaabulous, daarling!

The Summer 2010 cake range is released to the eager public on 23 November. I will brave the inevitable queues and bring you more of the range soon.

Adriano Zumbo Patissier is at 296 Darling St, Balmain, NSW

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Flamin' Wharf Teppanyaki by Kobe Jones

Both Kobe Jones and the Rocks Teppanyaki have been in Sydney for years, and recently, the two entities set up a new venture next door to Kobe Jones at King St Wharf - Wharf Teppanyaki.

As an introduction to Wharf Teppanyaki, a group of foodbloggers was invited to lunch at the new restaurant. We were joined by Paul Misan and Justine Norwood from Kobe Jones group, and Alana Chetner from Professional Public Relations.

Wharf Teppanyaki opened in October with what is purported to be Australia's largest teppanyaki table. Weighing in at over 6 tonnes, the stone table seats up to 46 people and has 12 cooking stations around its induction cooktop.  An industrial-strength hood sucks the cooking fumes straight up out of the dining area.  Having experienced the full-on heat and flames that accompanies teppanyaki-style cooking, I can vouch for the strength of the exhaust system (my hair usually absorbs all odours).

There are a number of set menus for lunch that include starters, a selection of mains, miso soup, rice and dessert. I had the 'Seafood on the Wharf' option ($88).  Also worth mentioning is the 'Teppanyaki Wagyu Burger' set ($55), where you can mix 200g of Wagyu beef mince with a selection of 12 spices into your own burger. It looked like fun to mix your ideal combination of flavourings into the meat, and the resultant burger in a bun was a multi-storey affair that would satisfy a huge appetite.

Here are pictures of what I had (and some of what the others had):
To start, the No. 1 Special, a crab salad, avocado and Hiramasa kingfish roll smothered in 'secret sauce' (you must have this, it's deservedly 'number one' at Kobe Jones).
Amuse bouche of salmon and seaweed. Salmon marinated in Hawaiian-style sauce.
Cauliflower soup. Rather unusual and un-Japanese, just like a regular creamy soup.
Miso soup - the miso is an inhouse blend of white and red miso that has a wonderful depth of flavour.

One of the benefits of teppanyaki dining is the spectacle of live cooking in front of you:
Quite a bit of fire action from chef Yumi Maeyama, as you can see.  She previously worked at Rocks Teppanyaki and is great fun to watch.  Hint: Teppanyaki is ideal for a first date because it gives you something to look at if the conversation starts stalling.  Come to think of it, it's also good when you've been with someone for ages and the conversation starts stalling...

The mains were equally impressive:
Justine is a fan of the Wagyu roll and it's a perfectly cooked sliver of beef wrapped around vegetables.
Seasonal salad with dressing. Tomato, lettuce and cucumber. You get the picture...
King prawn, salmon and scallop, grilled beautifully and very flavoursome.  According to CEO Paul Misan, the seafood at Kobe Jones is from sustainably-farmed sources.
Alaskan crab was so tender and delicious. I'm not a huge fan of crab (due to allergies) but this crab was very fresh with lots of meat in the legs and I thankfully didn't have any reactions.

Getting a bit full by this stage, but there's more...
Bean sprouts and vegetables.
Crispy prawn head 'chip' - you eat the whole head, shell and all. Mmm, crunchy and sharp.
Garlic fried rice with rice crackling served separately.

For dessert, we all had Crepes Suzette a la teppanyaki: 
More flames!
The very sweet, thin crepe was flamed with Grand Marnier and served with orange segments.

The dinner menu is similar to the lunch menu but with even more food.  You'd eat teppanyaki for the whole spectacle of seeing the food prepared and interacting with the chefs.  There's no throwing of food here, thank goodness, and chef Yumi was a deft hand with the utensils and cooking, of course.  The prices are quite expensive, but the ingredients are fresh, nicely prepared, and the restaurant itself is beautifully fitted out.  For a night out with friends, it ticks all the boxes.

Wharf Teppanyaki is at 21 Lime Street, King Street Wharf, Sydney NSW 2000.

Wharf Teppanyaki on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chicken tikka - nice spice

More, please, from delicious, I hear you shout. Am I hearing things...?
Hopefully not! Here is another offering from the book, delicious. More Please
(and I'm still not over the punctuation...).

I chose this recipe because I had cos lettuce and yoghurt left over from the Greek lamb meatballs I made the other day.  This was also the first time I have used the seeds from cardamom pods, and the seeds do add a rich fragrance to the chicken.  I would probably use fewer pods next time, as the flavour was quite distinct, but, by all means use more if you like the flavour.

By the way, this dish here is chicken tikka, not chicken tikka masala. I was watching the QI TV show and Stephen Fry said that chicken tikka masala (the most popular dish in the UK), rather than being an Indian dish, actually originated in Glasgow. And really, anything Stephen Fry says must be true.  I've not had chicken tikka masala before, but it can contain tomatoes and cream together with the spices - I think I'll stick with this delicious version, thanks.

Chicken tikka with minted yoghurt
serves 4

5 cardamom pods
1 tblsp canola oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tblsp grated ginger
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tblsp lemon juice
1/3 cup (95g) thick Greek-style yoghurt
4 chicken thigh fillets, trimmed, quartered
1 tblsp finely chopped mint leaves
4 pieces naan bread or mountain bread
Cos or butter lettuce leaves, to serve

1.  To make the tikka marinade: Lightly crush the cardamom pods to remove the seeds, discarding the green husk.  Heat the oil in a frypan over low heat. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin and cardamom seeds and cook, stirring, for 1 minute until fragrant. Cool slightly, then transfer to a ceramic or glass dish.  Stir in lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of yoghurt, then season well with salt and pepper.
2.  Add the chicken to the marinade and turn to coat.  Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
3.  Heat a lightly oiled chargrill pan or barbeque on medium-high heat.  Cook the chicken in batches for 4 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
4.  For the dressing: Stir the chopped mint into the remaining yoghurt, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
5.  To serve: Place the chicken on toasted naan bread, together with the lettuce and minted yoghurt.

recipe adapted from delicious. More Please (ABC Books)

Split the cardomom pods to remove the black seeds. The marinade paste is made from the cardamom seeds, paprika, turmeric, garlic and ginger. It's then heated to bring out the flavours, then mixed with yoghurt and lemon juice to provide a vibrant yellow coating for the chicken.
Serve the chargrilled chicken on naan bread with the cos lettuce and minty yoghurt.

The chicken was most flavoursome...

So delicious was it that I saved some for lunch the next day...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Seafood, Bubbles and Thai Prawn Salad

An evening of seafood, hands-on cooking, bubbly wine.
And it was so good, I tried it at home...

It started with attendance at one of the Sydney Seafood School's regular cooking classes.  The course was presented by food consultant and cookery writer, Lyndey Milan, who showed us how to prepare canapes for the holiday entertaining season, with matching sparkly wines. Then we replicated the dishes ourselves, and then - the best bit - we ate the fruits of our endeavours.

Lyndey Milan has run this particular class for the past 13 years (and some of the attendees have come to the 10 of those).  Lyndey is chatty and entertaining, with lots of helpful tips on making the dishes, the tools to use, the best ingredients, etc.  She has just launched a studio kitchen for film and photography use, hence the cameraman filming during part of the class. 

Here is what we prepared:
From top: salmon tartare with wasabi creme fraiche and crisp skin, swordfish souvlaki with skordalia, salt and pepper squid and Thai prawn cups. Our workstation team consisted of 5 lovely ladies and one handsome man. Everyone put in a stellar performance, chopping, mixing, cleaning and deep-frying squid (champion!), and plating up.

Then we set up a table in the dining room and settled down to enjoy the food:
We were also presented with wines to match the food, including Nicholas Feuillatte Brut Reserve Particuliere NV, The Great Wave sparkling pinot grigio, Charles Melton Brut Peche and Rumball NV sparkling shiraz. I loved the Champagne and sparkling pinot grigio, and thought they matched the best with the seafood, especially the salmon tartare and prawns.

Look at the magnificent effort:
The Thai prawn cups were served in lettuce leaves - scrumptious.
The swordfish souvlaki was served with skordalia (made with soaked sourdough).
The salmon tartare was served on finely sliced Melba toasts and topped with yummy wasabi creme fraiche and deep-fried salmon skin - a favourite.
The salt and pepper baby squid was amazingly tender, and beautifully coated in a crisp batter.

Sydney Seafood School is at the Sydney Fish Market. Classes cost from $85-$155. Website here.
Lyndey Milan also has a website here (and a diamond knife that I'm considering getting. She spruiked it during the class, and it looks good, incredibly light and sharp).

The next day, with the weather being quite warm, I reproduced the Thai prawn cups for dinner.  I bumped up the volume of vermicelli noodles and prawns, and it was delightful.  Here is the recipe I used:

Thai Prawn Salad
serves 2

100g bean thread (mung bean vermicelli) noodles
300g medium cooked or green (raw) prawns
1/2 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 Lebanese cucumber, seeded and diced
80g dry roasted cashews or peanuts, roughly chopped

30ml lime juice (from 1 small-medium lime)
1/4 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp Thai fish sauce
3 tsp grated palm sugar or brown sugar
1 small red chilli, finely chopped

1.  To make the dressing: combine all dressingingredients in a screw-top jar, shake and set aside.
2.  Place vermicelli in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and soak until just tender (about 5 minutes), then rinse under cold water and drain well.
3. If using green prawns, peel and devein the prawns, then quickly sear them in a little vegetable oil, over high heat, until just cooked, about 2 minutes each side.
3. Combine the vermicelli noodles, prawns, mint and cucumber in a large bowl and toss through the dressing.
4. Spoon onto a plate, sprinkle with cashews or peanuts, and serve.

Recipe adapted from Lyndey Milan

Ingredients, including mint, vermicelli, chilli, lime juice, cashews, grated palm sugar, fish sauce and sesame oil.
You can also add 1/2 cup of coriander - but I didn't, because coriander is evil.

The sauce is shaken together, then tossed with the prawns, noodles and mint.

Sprinkle with nuts before serving.

Perfectly fresh-tasting and super quick to make.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Passionfruit parfait by any other name

Passionfruit Parfait. Or should that be Passion-a-misu?

Actually, this dessert is simplified from a recipe by MasterChef Australia contestant Marion Grasby, and she calls it 'Passionfruit and Macadamia Cups'.  A rather innocuous name for a dessert with higher leanings? It certainly looks impressive, with layers of vanilla yoghurt, sponge fingers, macadamias and passionfruit.

Marion's version has yoghurt pastry cream and honey-roasted macadamias, but I couldn't find any honey-roasted nuts, and I didn't have SIX eggyolks to make the pastry cream. So I improvised. Somewhat successfully, I hope.

Now, back to the names.  How about
Tropical Nut Cup
or Yes, sir, we have no Bananas
or Passio-Yogo
or Passion-nut about You?

I'll stop now!

Passionfruit Parfait
serves 2

6 sponge finger biscuits (Savoiardi)
50g unsalted macadamia nuts
100ml vanilla-flavoured yoghurt
3 tblsp passionfruit pulp

Ginger syrup:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 tblsp finely grated ginger

1. For the ginger syrup: Place the sugar, water and ginger into a small pan over low heat.  Stir for 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves.  Transfer to a heatproof bowl and cool.
2.  To assemble the parfait:  Break each sponge finger in half and dip into the ginger syrup and divide among 2 cups or glasses.  Put a teaspoon of passionfruit pulp on next, followed by some macadamias, then a tablespoon of vanilla yoghurt.  Repeat with the remaining sponge fingers, ginger syrup, passionfruit, macadamias and yoghurt.  Reserve some passionfruit pulp to drizzle on top.

recipe adapted from MasterChef magazine (November 2010)
Ingredients, including prepared ginger syrup, macadamias, savoiardi biscuits, vanilla yoghurt and passionfruit pulp that I bought ages ago for a recipe I forgot to make (passionfruit tart?).
Everything is just layered into a glass. 

Another pretty dessert that looks a lot more effort than it takes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

delicious Greek lamb meatball salad

New cookbook alert!!! delicious. More Please.
That's the name of the cookbook, though I wouldn't complain if my dinner guests uttered those words.

This is a recipe from delicious. More Please, a collection of '120 all-new recipes for every season'.  Menus are provided for each season (autumn, winter, spring, summer), and they are accompanied by the usual gorgeous delicious styling and photography.  And if you are familiar with delicious magazine, you are virtually guaranteed that the recipes will work and work well. 

If I had to find a complaint about the book, it would be that some of the 'all-new' recipes are also in the current delicious magazine and have also appeared in newspapers. And for the grammar and punctuation purists out there: shouldn't it be More [comma] Please? Oh gosh, I'm turning into a crotchety school marm. Just try this recipe, it's really delicious. Off now to put my hair into a bun (with a lead pencil pushed through it).

Greek lamb meatball salad
serves 4

2 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
500g lamb mince
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs or 3/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup (280g) thick Greek-style yoghurt
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbs finely chopped mint leaves 
2 baby cos, leaves separated
2 roasted capsicums, cut into strips
1 small telegraph cucumber, halved lengthways, sliced

1.  For the meatballs: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frypan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes until softened.  Add the garlic, cumin and paprika and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.  Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool.
2.  Once the onion mix is cool, add the lamb mince, breadcrumbs and egg.  Season with salt and pepper, then combine well.  With damp hands, form the mixture into 20 walnut-sized balls.  Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3.  Preheat oven to 180C.
4.  Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large frypan over medium heat.  In batches, cook the meatballs, turning, for 3-4 minutes until browned all over.  Place on a large baking tray and bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes until cooked through.
5.  For the dressing: Place the yoghurt in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of chopped mint.  Season with salt and pepper, then stir to combine.
6.  To serve: Arrange the lettuce, capsicum and cucumber in a serving platter. Scatter the meatballs on top and drizzle with the yoghurt. 

recipe adapted from delicious. More Please

Ingredients, including lamb mince, onion, garlic, egg, paprika, cumin, store-bought roasted capsicum and cos lettuce. 

Let's see more of that cos...
This is a baby cos heart. Beautifully crisp.

The onion is cooked with the garlic and spices, then the meatballs are rolled into balls. Yes, I used dried breadcrumbs, and they are fine.
The salad is drizzled with a fresh, minty yoghurt dressing.

Another delicious recipe. More, please!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Poh's Kitchen Steamed egg custard

 You say 'chawanmushi', I say 'egg custard', let's call the whole thing off...

Wait a cotton-pickin' minute! Before we call it off, let me tell you about these egg custards. There are Chinese and Japanese versions of this dish ('chawanmushi' means 'teacup steamed' in Japanese), and it's one of those things that you'd think are a bit of a wishy-washy, not-quite-a-dinner type dish until you try it on a cold night and it warms you right up.

I had a beautifully smooth chawanmushi at Shoya restaurant in Melbourne, but have never thought to make it myself.  Then I spied the Poh's Kitchen version and was converted.  This recipe is from MasterChef runner-up Poh's new cookbook (the same recipe and photos are also in November delicious magazine).  Poh also writes that century or salted duck eggs can be added to the custard, and guess what? I had a duck egg on hand (what are the chances?!) so in it went.  It gave a real boost to the dish, so if you can find a suitable duck egg, please bung it in.

Steamed egg custard with prawns and shiitake
serves 4

160g prawn meat, chopped
2 tsp shaohsing (Chinese rice wine)
1/2 tsp caster sugar
pinch of white pepper
1 tsp soy sauce
4 large free-range eggs
1 1/4 cups (310ml) chicken stock
4 large or 12 small dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 mins, drained, squeezed, stems removed, sliced
1 century duck egg, chopped (optional)
1 spring onion, finely sliced
2 tsp light soy sauce

1.  Half-fill a wok or saucepan with water. Top with a bamboo or metal steamer that will hold 4 small bowls or 1-cup ramekins. Bring the water to the boil then reduce to a simmer.
2.  Meanwhile, combine prawns, shaohsing, sugar. pepper and soy sauce and set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
3.  In a bowl, briefly mix the eggs, chicken stock and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Hint: Use a pair of chopsticks to do slow figures of eight to mix; don't whisk heavily or bubbles will form.
4.  Divide prawns and marinade, shiitake, century duck egg (if using) and egg/stock mixture into the bowls and steam with the lid on for 7-10 minutes.  When done, the custards should be opaque and creamy in colour and still a bit wobbly.
5.  Remove bowls from the steamer and sprinkle with spring onion and some light soy sauce.  Serve while hot.

Recipe adapted from delicious (November 2010)

Ingredients, including eggs, prawns, shiitake mushrooms, spring onion, chicken stock, soy sauce and shaohsing wine. 

 I also added a century duck egg that I picked up on our tour of Cabramatta.  Look at the coffee-brown egg albumen. The yolk was a granite grey colour that would be scary if you didn't know what to expect!
The regular hen eggs are lightly whisked with chicken stock.

The egg custards can be prepared using ramekins or teacups.  It's a more substantial dish if you use 1-cup capacity bowls or ramekins, though.

Closeup view of the silky egg custard.
And can you see the star-shaped markings on the century duck egg? Like snowflakes...
The marinating of the prawns beforehand imparts a beautiful flavour to the meat and also the egg custard.