Monday, August 29, 2011

Baked and Delicious Olive Herb Parmesan Bread plus GIVEAWAY

Hold onto your seats, this is not just a fantastic recipe for tasty bread, but you could get something for nothing. But wait, you just have to wait...

I was sent a copy of a new magazine, Baked and Delicious, to review. You may have seen it advertised or at the newsagency - you can subscibe to it and each issue comes with a piece of silicone bakeware to use with the recipes in the magazine. My copy came with a loaf tin, so naturally I had to make a loaf.

I've never baked a savoury loaf before, but the flavours in this one sounded so good - olives, peppers, parmesan. Visions of a fragrant loaf cooling on the window sill while bluebirds of happiness fluttered around. I am there, baby!

Like most of the recipes in the magazine, this one is simple to make and the instructions are very easy to understand, with step-by-step photos. The results speak for themselves, as this bread/loaf was also very easy to eat, especially when it was still fresh and warm. The small bit that was left was wrapped in foil and I finished it off the next day after heating it in the toaster oven and slathering it in butter (so much butter!). A cool magazine, a successful recipe, a scrumptious loaf. Couldn't ask for anything more....

...Except a GIVEAWAY! Salivate over the photos below, then enter the contest...

Olive, Herb and Parmesan Bread
serves 8

75g (3oz) stuffed olives, sliced
75g (3oz) pimentos (bottled red peppers), sliced
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tblsp chives, finely chopped
125g (4oz) parmesan, grated
350g (12oz) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp each salt and black pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard or curry powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
300ml (1/2 pint) buttermilk
2 tblsp olive oil
sea salt flakes

1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf pan with baking paper (you don't need to do this if using a silicon pan).
2. Place the olives, pimentos, thyme, chives and parmesan into a large mixing bowl.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, pepper and mustard/curry powder into the bowl with the olives.
4. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl with the buttermilk and olive oil.
5. Mix the olives and pimentos into the flour mixture. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk mixture and stir until you get a thick, sticky batter.
6. Use a spatula to scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf pan.
7. Smooth the top of the loaf and decorate with extra slices of pimento. Scatter with flakes of sea salt. Bake the loaf in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until the top is risen and golden, and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
8. Cool the loaf in the pan for at elast 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling. Slice and serve.

recipe adapted from Baked and Delicious

Ingredients, including buttermilk, bicarb soda, baking powder, flour, eggs, parmesan cheese, pimentos, olives and chives. Lurking cat is optional.

Part of the preparation - a messy workbench means you know what you are doing.

I used the silicone loaf pan that came with Baked and Delicious magazine. It's brilliant, the cooked loaf popped straight out, no problems.

How good does this loaf look?  I used curry powder, hence the attractive yellow hue of the loaf. Actually, this bread reminds me of the chorizo and olive loaf from Adriano Zumbo, except this one is lighter, doesn't have chorizo and is better!
Wait, there's more...

Served still-warm from the oven, with just a bit of butter. Really delicious.


Thanks to The Defectors and Baked and Delicious, you could win a Subscription to Baked and Delicious which includes 60 issues of Baked and Delicious and 4 exclusive (subscriber only) gifts, the total worth being $1,105.00.

To be in the running to win this amazing prize, just leave a comment on this post that contains the words 'baked and delicious'. So that you can be contacted when you win, please make sure you leave an email address (or send your entry and details to me at oohlookbel2000 at gmail dot com). Entries close on 26th September 2011.

If you can't wait to win, you can subscribe to Baked and Delicious - click here. Check out the free gifts with subscription!

***This contest is now CLOSED***

Congratulations to Heather, winner of the Baked and Delicious subscription

Conditions of Contest
1. Entry to the Baked and Delicious contest is by comment on this or subsequently labelled posts. Alternatively, email Ooh, Look to be entered. Entries must contain the words 'baked and delicious'. Winner will be selected randomly. Enter as many times as you like.
2. Competition closes end of day, 26th September 2011.
3. Prize can only be sent to subscribers with an Australian address.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Easy Paella

Being a bit of a fan of rice dishes (plain boiled rice excepted), I will give any risotto, fried rice, paella or pilaf a go. And if it’s quick and easy to make, then it moves to the top of the list with a gold star for “well done, you are so the teacher’s pet”.

This wonderful recipe is from the equally wonderful website. Just type in an ingredient or recipe name and it comes up with a range of recipes from magazines such as delicious, Super Food Ideas (lots of ‘bakes’) and Good Taste. As you know, I am on a self-imposed mag-buying ban (with a couple of, ahem, exceptions), so getting my recipe fix online is brilliant. And it gets better – there is no seafood in this paella, so for those with a suspected shellfish allergy, there is one less thing to worry about. So put down that hard-copy of the latest food mag and that pack of antihistamines and get cooking.

Easy Paella
serves 4

4 chicken thigh fillets, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp harissa
1 tsp smoked paprika (pimenton)
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 cup Calasparra or arborio rice
1/2 cup (125ml) dry white wine
pinch of saffron threads, soaked in 1/4 cup water
2 cups (500ml) gluten-free chicken stock
1/2 cup (60g) frozen peas
80g roasted capsicum (from a jar), drained, chopped
1/2 cup black olives, pitted
2 tblsp chopped flat-leaf parsley or chives
Lemon to serve

1. Combine chicken, garlic, lemon zest, harissa, paprika and oil in a bowl. Place in fridge to marinate for 15 minutes. Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until golden. Remove chicken and set aside.
2. Add a little oil to pan, if necessary, then add onion and cook, stirring, over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add rice, then stir for 1 minute to coat rice in onion mixture.
3. Add the wine and allow to bubble for 2-3 minutes, then add saffron (with liquid) and stock, and bring to the boil. Return chicken to the pan, season, then simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until rice is almost cooked and most of the stock is absorbed. Stir in peas, capsicum and olives. Cook for a further 2 minutes until rice is tender and all the stock is absorbed. Stir through parsley or chives, then serve with lemon wedges.
recipe adapted from

Ingredients, including harissa, lemon, onion, garlic, rice, olives, saffron, capsicum, frozen peas.
The chicken (not shown) is marinated in garlic, harissa and paprika which makes it delicious.

The saffron adds quite a nice hue to the rice, as well as a subtle flavour.
And the kitchen smells mouth-wateringly good while the rice is cooking.

This is a new favourite - looks good, so easy to prepare and tastes divine.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Oh my darling - Little Darling Diner, Balmain

There has been a spate of new restaurant openings in Balmain lately, and not before time, as the current places were getting a bit boring (for camera-wielding foodbloggers, at least!).  The Sucre chocolate cafe is settling in nicely, and Vice Wine Bar has opened across the road to cater for the classy winos wine connoisseurs. Further down towards Gladstone Park, an offshoot of the popular Surry Hills stalwart, Spice I Am, has started trading.

An exciting newcomer has also popped up next door to Efendy restaurant - or, if you prefer the Balmain thing of asking 'what pub is it near?', it's opposite the Cat and Fiddle. Little Darling Diner is a cute French-inspired cafe/restaurant on the site of that old seafood takeaway place.

And what a change from that old seafood takeaway place. The place has been completely made over with a mix of girly turquoise spindly chairs and manly dark polished wood. Is there a more lovely combination of colours than blue and brown? I don't think so.

Ooh, such gorgeous surroundings, perfect for afternoon tea or a glass of Champagne ($10 after 10am).

We arrived on the cusp of breakfast and lunch and decided on the breakfast menu. The brekky menu has the usual eggs, bacon and porridge as well as crepes and omelettes.

The most fragrant EBT (Theodora brand) $3.30, was served in a mod glass teapot and delicate china cup.

This was a more masculine corner. There are lots of photogenic spots like this.

Back to the food: wonderful smoky bacon in the bacon and eggs ($12.50); a fantastically cheesey baked eggs florentine ($14.50). Both were served with a very good sourdough toast. Servings were smallish, but enough for us.

After we finished, co-owner Nour kindly showed us around. This is the back area of the restaurant. This place is like the Tardis: there is a sitting area with window bar area, an additional downstairs dining room PLUS a sunny outdoor courtyard with umbrellas. Trés chic.
There were quite a few groups of ladies enjoying the sunshine when we were there.

 Melinda works the kitchen while Nour is front of house. Together with some efficient and friendly waitstaff, they are a great team.

Summary: Little Darling Diner is a darling place! I adored the decor, the food was tasty and it just has a nice vibe (sorry, that sounds a bit lame, but it has good ambience). LDD is also open for dinner, with dishes like lamb's brains, snails and cassoulet (French or what?). It's a charming addition (finally) to the area. Highly recommended if you're in the Balmain/Rozelle hood.

Little Darling Diner is at 485a Darling Street, Balmain, NSW
ph: 02 9810 5255

Little Darling Diner on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mac cheese to the Max

Most people love macaroni cheese. I certainly do, though I think it's more to do with the childhood memory of sitting down in pajamas and fluffy dressing gown in front of the TV, with a boiling hot bowl of 'mac and cheese' and a spoon.  Then burning your tongue and going 'Argh, Ah burrt ma tug!'.

I've never made mac and cheese before this, probably because it takes a surprising amount of effort for such a simple dish. But then I discovered the happiness of Sunday night in front of the telly, and when it comes down to it, boiling up the pasta and a bit of stirring of milk and flour isn't really that difficult. As long as I can keep an eye out on the TV while making it, so as not to miss out on Downton Abbey or any other juicy Sunday night bonnet drama.

Macaroni Cheese
serves 2

125g macaroni
20g butter
1 tblsp plain flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Cook macaroni in a saucepan of boiling, salted water until al dente, then drain.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the mixture comes away from the side of the pan. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly, until smooth. Add garlic and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
3. Add the mustard, cheddar cheese and half the parmesan. Stir until the cheese melts and the mixture is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add macaroni and stir to combine.
4. Spoon macaroni cheese into two 2 1/2 capacity ovenproof dishes and top with remaining parmesan and breadcrumbs. Bake for 15 minutes, until bubbling.  Serve carefully - it's hot!

recipe adapted from BBC Australian Good Food

Some ingredients: Penne (or macaroni), grated cheddar cheese, Dijon mustard, milk, butter, garlic.

It's a two-stage process: cook the pasta, and make the white cheese sauce, then mix together.

Sprinkle with parmesan and breadcrumbs before baking.

Tongue-burningly hot - macaroni cheese is a really warming little meal.
Love the crunchy bits of cheese on top.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fat Buddha yum cha - classy

Here's something a little different. It's a Cantonese restaurant that's not an eating 'palace'. It's in the CBD. The decor is contemporary. The food is really good.

Am I showing my age when I ask, "Do you remember the Chinese restaurant that used to be in the Queen Victoria Building?". It was called Silk Road, or something, and it was a pretty high-class, fine dining type of place. It must have been in the 1990s and it was the place to go. But that was then, and this is now.

Fat Buddha opened last week on level 2 of the QVB. It has a gorgeous modern decor with golden barrel lights suspended from the ceiling, heavy marble tables (with white tablecloths) and dark-toned wood panelling. It also has these beautiful arched windows to let in daylight (#win for foodbloggers).

This is what we had for yum cha lunch today.

Like I said, the food is particularly good, with a 'homemade' flavour that is a refreshing change from the MSG-laden dishes of other yum cha restaurants. The spring rolls were delicious, plumply filled with pork and scented with ginger.

These seafood rolls were sitting in a delicate broth and were chock-full of finely chopped prawn and scallop meat.

The sui mai dumplings were tender and piping hot.

Yum cha staples of egg tarts and mango pancake ticked all the right boxes.

We arrived before 12pm on Saturday and there was plenty of room, though the place is not large and filled up quickly. There was a reasonable variety of dishes, although not as many as some of those enormous Chinatown places.  I loved that there was not prawn in everything, and the flavour of the food was a lot 'gentler' and less salty than at other places. Prices are high, as expected in the CBD, and the bill for this meal came to about $70. Chinese tea is $2.50 per person.

The service was lovely, and the trolley ladies were polite and not pushy at all. The city needs more restaurants like this (nice decor, nice food), and I'm really glad there's now a decent city alternative for weekend yum cha. Hope they stay good for a while yet.

Fat Buddha is on level 2 of the Queen Victoria Building, George St, Sydney.
ph:  02 9264 9558

Fat Buddha Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rice porridge for the sick soul

It's been a trying time in the Ooh, Look... household in the past week, with the taint of winter illness befalling 66.67% of the household.

Firstly, the other half got a severe dose of 'man flu'. Symptoms included wooziness, runny nose, aches and pains and a reluctance to do any housework. Several trips to the pharmacy (by me) for antibiotics and cold and flu tablets had no effect, and I had to cancel an anticipated visit to a fancy restaurant as a result. Not happy, Jan.

Then, a couple of days later, I caught a really bad cold that turned into a chesty cough. Urgh! Unfortunately, this happened on Friday, so I had to spend the weekend on the couch, going through several boxes of aloe vera tissues. My symptoms included wooziness, nausea, runny nose, aches and pains and an unexplained urge to do all the housework (believe me, the place is a mess).

So, not much cooking was done this week. But I did manage to make this cure for all winter ills, rice porridge, aka congee or jook. It's warming and delicious and economical and it makes me feel all motherly. I'm sort of on the mend now, and I do declare, it's all due this wondrous soup.

Rice porridge
serves 4

1/2 cup long grain rice
8 cups water (or 2 cups chicken/vegetable stock plus 6 cups water)

1. Place the rice in a sieve and rinse under running water until the water becomes clear.
2. Put the rice in a large saucepan and add the water (or water plus stock).
3. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat. Place the saucepan lid slightly ajar on the pan and simmer for 1 to 2 hours, or until the rice grains have broken down and become soft and soupy. Taste and season with salt, if desired.
4. Serve the porridge hot.

This cooked rice porridge can be cooled then stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for 2 days.

 I kind of 'cheated' (I was sick, after all) and added a tub of chicken stock jelly to the water.
Yes, it's that Continental chicken stock pot stuff that is promoted by Marco Pierre White. It gives the rice porridge a good flavour, and it means you don't need to add extra salt.

For the patient/s, I also added some sliced ham, chives and fried onions.

Yum, I could eat this even if I wasn't ill.

Tabitha cat managed to avoid this round of illness, thank goodness.
I made sure to stock up on oranges and mandarins as an extra precaution (for us, not the cat).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Simple chocolate mousse dedicated to Spink-Bottle

My dear mother recently asked me, “When are you going to clean out the books in your bedroom?”. Not in those exact words, though, and in a more, shall we say, irritated/cheesed-off tone of voice. You see, I’d been using my old room at mum’s house as a store room for the work outfits I no longer wear (nor fit into) and old textbooks, uni notes, records, craft projects, magazines, books… it’s a bit of a firetrap in there, truth be told.

So, like a dutiful daughter, and with just a hint of exasperation, I went through everything and dumped all the paper into the recycling bin. However, I did save my prized copies of PG Wodehouse and I spent a delicious couple of hours reliving life with Jeeves, Bertie, Gussie Fink-Nottle (aka ‘Spink-Bottle’, heehee) and the chappies at the Drones.

Oh, and what did I do with my old work suits (with biggish shoulder pads, in delectable bright pink, pastel blue, appropriate black)? I left them in the wardrobe, of course. Because fashion cycles dictate that they will be back in style in mid-2012, and I’m gonna be rockin’  the runway when they do.

During the cleanout, I found a newspaper cutting with this easy chocolate mousse idea. I made it and it made me smile as much as Spink-Bottle.

Simple Chocolate Mousse
Serves 4

100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
300ml thickened cream

1. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, or in the microwave. For microwave method, place the broken chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, then heat on medium-low setting for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between heatings. It should be almost melted after 90 seconds, so just stir it until the chocolate completely melts. Set melted chocolate aside to cool slightly.
2. While the chocolate is cooling, whip the cream until soft peaks form.
3. Fold in the melted chocolate and stir until it’s combined and there are no white streaks in the mixture.
4. Spoon the mousse into 4 small bowls and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Ingredients: Just some cream and chocolate
Whip the cream and fold in the melted chocolate

Spoon into glasses or dessert bowls and refrigerate

You can decorate the mousses if you like.
Fresh fruit would be good, but I didn't have any, so honeycomb had to do.