Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hey it's your birthday - at Ocean Room Sydney

Every year, I ask him, ‘Where do you want to go for your birthday?’, the assumption being that it has to be a ‘nice’ restaurant (not too cheap) that has great food and a comfy atmosphere.

Every year, he replies ‘Ocean Room’.

Well, this year we went to Ocean Room for his birthday. Like we have for the past couple of years (except for last year, when we went to Becasse).

And as usual, we had the chef Raita’s Tasting Menu. There is an 8-course option for $70, but we had the 12 courses for $98 per person. Such fantastic value and beautifully presented dishes. But we already knew this, since we always have the 12-course tasting!
You can read about some of our previous visits to Ocean Room here and here.

Meanwhile, I’ll let the pictures do the talking. PS: It’s terribly dark (or romantically dusky) at Ocean Room, so the pics are a bit blurry.

To drink, we had Kaishun saké ($19) and Spinifex Rosé ($13/glass). Also a bottle of still water ($10).

Oyster Duo – Pacific oyster with granny smith apple vinaigrette + rock oyster with Yamazaki whiskey and white balsamic air. Served on a bed of LED-lit ice!
Tuna Tartare wrapped with nori

White Gazpacho – almond milk + tomato water
Anchovy + sorbet - an old favourite that's always on the menu
Uni tamago – semi-poached egg + sea urchin espuma

Calamari pops - like popcorn chicken, but better
Spanner crab bonito consommé – winter melon, agedashi tofu, shiso mochi
Ocean trout + avocado - this was my substitution for the consommé because I can't eat crab

Deconstructed ceviche – Crystal Bay prawn, Fremantle octopus and ocean trout
Loved the presentation of this. You pour over the yuzu vinaigrette from a test tube.

Saikyo miso cod – with ginger risotto and orange miso sauce. Perfectly cooked fish.
There was a bit of a wait for our next course, so the observant waitstaff brought us a round of drinks to compensate. I had a Gorgeous Geisha mocktail (cranberry, lychee, lemonade).
Sushi collection – three types of nigiri sushi and pickled ginger

Smoky Wagyu beef – table-smoked chargrilled beef + chimichurri sauce + potato ball.
How impressive is this? A wood-smoke-filled globe encompasses a chunk of marbled Wagyu.

Dessert plate – gorgonzola panna cotta + shoyu caramel, caramelised banana, poached pear

Overall, this was another solidly dependable meal from Ocean Room. The food is good without the wow! factor you get from hatted restaurants. I suppose the view of the Opera House opposite provides a bit of excitement if you're looking for it. There's no denying the great value for the tasting menu, though, and the staff are efficient and friendly.
A new menu is going to be introduced soon, apparently, so the dishes we had might not be there much longer. Never mind, it gives an opportunity for another visit soon, hopefully.

Ocean Room is at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay, Sydney.
ph: 02 9252 9585

Ocean Room on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 18, 2012

Chicken and Broad Bean Casserole...with Bjorn

Fudge, it’s cold – Winter has well and truly hit us here in Sydney town. 

You know how they say that Sydney is the coldest place in the world? Well, it’s because no one is ever prepared for the cool weather, so there’s no central heating in our houses, no double-glazed windows to keep out the drafts, scarves and overcoats are of the lightest weight because we think oh, it’s just a short cold spell that will be over by Wednesday, so man up, you wuss!

What this means is that the Bureau of Meteorology website is my favourite bookmark at the moment. I love looking at the radar map of approaching storms, and the prediction of ‘95% chance of rain’ for tomorrow, well, der, I already knew that, but it’s good to see it confirmed!

OK, that’s enough conversation about the weather for now. Here is another slow cooker meal that I did on the weekend, a smooth and warming Chicken and Broad Bean Casserole. It’s adapted from a dish that’s in this month’s (June) Australian Women’s Weekly. They used celeriac in their casserole, but there was none at the supermarket, so I used swede and potato instead. The rest is your usual slow cooker method of browning the meat first, then letting the flavours meld in the slow cooker while you enjoy your (cold) weekend.

By the way, don’t you just love swede? It holds its shape so well during long cooking, and it has such a fresh flavour, compared to, say, potato. Can’t wait to visit Stockholm one day (swede, smorgasbord, meatballs, Stockholm... geddit?)

Chicken and Broad Bean Casserole
serves 4

6 chicken thigh fillets (about 600g total), cut into thick slices
2 tblsp plain flour + 1 tblsp extra
2 tblsp rice bran oil or canola oil
20g butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tblsp Dijon mustard
2 cups chicken stock
1 medium swede, peeled and roughly chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup broad beans (frozen or fresh)

1. Place the chicken and 2 tablespoons of flour into a large plastic bag and toss the chicken around so that it is coated in the flour. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat and cook the chicken until browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
2. Wipe the pan with paper towel, then add the butter, onion, celery and carrot. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the extra 1 tablespoon of flour, then the garlic and mustard and stir for one minute. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
3. Put the swede and potatoes into the slow cooker, then top with the chicken and then the stock mixture. Cover and cook on Low heat for 5 hours.
4. Put the broad beans into a heatproof bowl, then pour over boiling water to cover. Leave for 2 minutes, then peel the outer covering from the beans. Add the beans to the cooker and cook for another 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.
This is a swede. I will call him Björn.
Other veg includes carrot, celery and potato.
Condiments include chicken stock, garlic and Dijon mustard.
The partly cooked chicken, carrot, celery and onion are dumped into the slow cooker.

The colours of this casserole are lovely, almost like Spring rather than Winter.

Hope you are keeping warm, wherever you are!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Jam Drops - and the Bitey Cat Awards 2012

Just the facts, ma’am.

Please excuse the brevity of this post. I just need to push out a recipe (for Jam Drops, no less!) so that you don’t think I’ve abandoned you.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I also use this blog as my own personal library of ‘things I’ve cooked before and am likely to make again – someday’. It’s also great to look back on what I’ve written and have a giggle – or sigh – about what was happening back then.
 I did originally intend to collate the recipes into a folder, decorated using my heap of scrapbooking supplies – papers, embellishments, stamps, mists, and the like, but that idea is still a germ of an idea that refuses to develop…

Sorry to ramble on…back to this latest recipe. I found it in Real Living, a magazine I’m regularly seduced into buying. So many gorgeous interiors with similarly gorgeous young occupants draped over the replica Eames furniture. I suppose these Jam Drops have a bit of a retro vibe, but that sort of thing is IN right now.

Oh, and there is still time to enter my Slow Cooker giveaway, courtesy of kitchenwaredirect.com.au. I will hopefully have another lovely slow-cooked recipe for you soon, but in the meantime, please enjoy these dainty Jam Drops with a cup of tea.

Jam Drops
makes approx 20

½ cup rice flour
1/3 cup plain flour
¼ cup caster sugar
125g cold butter, chopped
pinch of salt
4 tblsp raspberry jam

1. Preheat oven to 160C/320F. Line baking trays with baking paper.
2. Sieve the rice flour, plain flour and caster sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and salt, then process until the mixture forms a ball of dough.
3. Lightly knead the dough until it sticks together, then roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a ½ cm ( ¼ in) thickness.
4. Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes from the dough, and while the cutter is still in place, use the end of a wooden spoon to gently indent the centre of the cookie (keeping the cutter in place lets the cookie retain its shape). Re-roll out any offcuts, creating cookies until the dough is used up. Place cookies on the prepared tray, and fill the indent with raspberry jam.
5. Bake in preheated oven for30 minutes, or until light golden in colour. Cool completely on wire racks before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

recipe adapted from Real Living (May 2012)

Messy ingredients, including rice flour that comes in a box that doesn't seal properly, with the flour just loose in the box!
Combine the flours and sugar with the cold butter to form a dough.

The cookies are pretty when cut using a flower shape with a dab of jam in the centre.

The cookies are quite buttery, so the flower shape turns into a bit of a blob.
They taste fab, though!

Tabitha vs Henry Update
The Bitey Cat Awards

The nominees are:
Tabitha cat (top)
Henry cat (bottom)
Henry cat will leap up to take food from your hand - even when you don't have any food to give!
And those teeth are sharp!
Tabitha is not lacking in the fang department, either, but it's her claws that will do the most damage.
She is odds-on favourite to take out the Scratchy Cat Awards, so keep a lookout for it soon.