Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chiswick, Woollahra

Here's a writeup of a dinner at Chiswick restaurant we had on Saturday. There haven't been many Restaurant posts here recently, not because we haven't eaten out that much, but mainly because they haven't been worth writing about!

Chiswick (the restaurant) is set in Chiswick Gardens, which is just a smallish public park at the front of the restaurant. We were quite early in arriving to our 6pm reservation, so we spent some time wandering around the neighbouring streets, admiring the gorgeous houses (lots of French-provincial style) and many consular residences in the area. If I could afford it, I'd very much like to live in Woollahra...
Bentwood chairs and wooden tables in the dining area of the restaurant. There is also a bar in front of the open kitchen, plus the lovely little herb and vegetable garden adjacent to the main restaurant.
Although our booking was for the 6-8pm sitting, the restaurant was quickly filled by 6.30pm.

Onto the food...(we were here on the weekend, hence the weekend prices, which are a couple of dollars higher, per dish, than the non-weekend).

Crab slider ($9.50) - small and perfectly formed - "I could eat another one of these".

Kingfish sashimi ($21) - with avocado, radish, nashi pear and citrus curd. Light and fresh and tangy.

Chicken liver parfait ($19) - with hazelnuts, figs and bread. The pate was oh-so-fluffy, and there were about 6 blobs of it on the plate, so excellent value all up.

Wood-roasted Moran family Lamb to share ($65) - with olive tapenade and fennel salad. This was to share between 2, and we had enough tasty leftovers to take home.

Very appropriate for Australia Day, this lamb had been roasted for 8 hours and was falling off the bone. There were some dry bits, though, that even the mint sauce on top couldn't compensate for. It would have been good if there was some gravy to go with this. It does say on the menu that when the Moran-family beef and lamb isn't available, they use meat from Victor Churchill, that prestige butcher in Woollahra.

Hand-cut chips ($9)  - with lemon thyme aioli. Very nice chips, and smooth, mild aioli.

Dimbula (Sri Lankan English breakfast-style) tea ($5.50) - served with Chiswick chocolates. I must end my meal with a cup of tea, and this was a great one. Love the tea set, too - mismatched china from Nanna's country kitchen, complete with Ned Kelly Glenrowan souvenir teaspoon.

Chocolate praline slice ($17) - this was a dessert special. Cherries in chocolate mousse on chocolate praline and well-tempered chocolate, with vanilla ice cream.
Mango and vanilla bombe Alaska ($17) - sticky Italian meringue encases the mango ice cream, decorated with a smear of mango and some redcurrants.

Overall: A lovely meal. The setting is fantastic, particularly on a summer's evening (it would also be perfect for lunch). It does get noisy as the place gets filled during the night with glossy young people having a smart-casual night out.
  The service was a bit hit-and-miss, with the waitstaff not quite attentive enough when you needed them (to get some mustard and the bill), but the food came out of the kitchen without too long a wait between courses. Also, after paying $200 for the meal (we also drank soft drink and beers), it would have been nice to be farewelled at the door, but that wasn't to be tonight.

Chiswick Restaurant is at 65 Ocean Street, Woollahra, NSW
ph: 02 8388 8688
website: http://www.chiswickrestaurant.com.au

Chiswick on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Aussie Jackaroo Pie

Australia Day is this Saturday (26th January), so I thought something suitably patriotic needed to be cooked. What to make?

Lamingtons were high on my list until I remembered my last attempt at sponge cake (which is the basis of lamingtons) –a disaster of many eggs and a flat-as-a-pancake sponge. Then I bought the February issue of delicious magazine and my prayers were answered. For it is the Annual Australian Issue, and it’s bursting with Aussie-style good eats. In fact, even as an avowed digital enthusiast, this issue warrants a hard-copy so that I can plaster all those fabulous recipe ideas with little sticky flags.

delicious (feb 2013)

Here’s a Jackaroo Pie, from Masterchef Australia judge, Matt Preston. Yeah, he is English, and the pie is like shepherd’s pie, which is British, but there’s Vegemite in it, and you can’t get more Aussie than that (just ignore that Vegemite is now owned by an American company).

A word on the pie, though. I followed the recipe precisely, and my pie looks nothing like the luscious, rich and meaty Matt Preston-model in the magazine. It could be the 2 cups of stock in the recipe that never gets a chance to reduce, but my pie was so overflowing with liquid that the mashed potato on top started soaking into it, and I had to use a slotted spoon to serve a ‘slice’ of it. But the taste was magnificent, full of sweet, abundant umami flavour. It was even better the next day, after allowing the flavours to develop further.

Jackaroo Pie
serves 4

3 tblsp olive oil
500g lamb mince
2 tsp Vegemite
1 brown onion, finely chopped
6 spring onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
1 ¼ cups frozen peas
2 tbs tomato sauce or ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups chicken stock
½ cup grated parmesan
20g butter, cubed

Mashed potato:
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ cup warm milk
20g butter, cubed

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the lamb mince and break up any lumps with a wooden spoon. Cook for 5 minutes, until browned. Stir in the Vegemite until well combined, then set aside the lamb mixture.

2. Reduce heat under the pan to medium. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and then add the onion and white part of the spring onions. Cook for 3-4 minutes until softened. Thoroughly mix in the peas, tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce.

3. Return the lamb to the pan and add the stock. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and pour lamb mixture into a medium (8-cup capacity) pie dish or shallow casserole dish.

4. For the mashed potato (can be made beforehand): Put the cubed potato into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a large pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil for 7 minutes, until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart. Drain the potatoes well and allow to sit in the warm pan until the remaining water evaporates. Add the butter, then use a potato masher to crush the potatoes. Add the milk and continue mashing until smooth (you may not need all of the milk). Stir the green part of the spring onions through the mashed potato. Spread mashed potato on top of the lamb and sprinkle with parmesan and dot with cubes of butter.

5. Bake for 20 minutes in a preheated 180C/360F oven or until top is golden. Serve.

Recipe adapted from delicious (February 2013)

Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Remove any excess liquid and allow to cool slightly before refrigerating. Reheat in microwave, or in the oven.

The Vegemite label is so classically retro.
A spoonful of Vegemite adds a real fullness to the flavour of meat-based dishes.
And Vegemite is a yeast-extract spread, it doesn't actually contain any vegetables or mites.

Cooked lamb mince (with Vegemite), onion and green onions.

The lamb filling is topped with green onion-studded mashed potato, parmesan and butter.

Happy Australia Day, mate!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Great Caesar's ghost with maple bacon and anchovy dressing

If you follow my Instagram feed then you probably saw the makings of this salad a couple of weeks ago. Since then, it’s been on high rotation on my “what to have for dinner tonight I’m so tired I can’t even think oh I wish it was holidays again” train of thought. 

How are you feeling now it’s a new year? I’m feeling a slight sense of deflation because there’s no major holidays till Easter.  And long work hours after the relaxed Christmas period are always a bit of a drag.

Sorry if this is a downer for you. Let’s perk things up a bit with some Happy Thoughts**:
     Soft cats.
        Fragrant gardenias.
          A clean house.
             Sunny days that aren’t too hot and not too cold.
               A long, cool glass of Coca Cola.
                 **These are a few of my favourite things. 

Which brings us back to this sort-of Caesar salad.  It’s really the accompanying bacon bits and dressing that I keep coming back to. You can change the core ingredients slightly (use cos lettuce instead of mesclun, add some chicken, add some lightly toasted sourdough slices, leave out the boiled egg),  but as long as you include the crispy, sweet and moreish maple syrup-anointed bacon, and drizzle on lashings of the creamy, anchovy-scented dressing, then this salad will also become your happy place. Enjoy!

Essence of Caesar Salad with maple bacon and anchovy dressing
serves 4

8 slices of middle-rasher bacon
4 tblsp maple syrup
Handful of salad leaves or ½ baby cos lettuce, per person
4 soft-boiled eggs

1 egg
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
Juice of half a lemon
2 anchovy fillets
¾ cup vegetable oil or rice bran oil

1. For the bacon: Put the bacon slices on a foil-lined tray and drizzle with maple syrup. Place into a pre-heated 180C/350F oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until the bacon is crisp and browned. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before cutting into bite-sized pieces.
2. For the dressing: Place the egg, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and anchovy fillets in a small food processor and mix until combined. Gradually add the oil and mix until the dressing is creamy and thick (about 1-2 minutes).
3. To serve: Arrange the salad leaves and boiled egg in a bowl for each person. Spoon on some of the dressing and top with bacon pieces.

Keep the bacon away from cats, both before and after the oven treatment.

Gosh, how good does this bacon look?

This salad is also good (and more substantial) with some poached chicken and croutons.
I feel better already =)