The Abyssinian: Week of Eats

After our short trip to Sydney, we returned to Melbourne with my in-laws, Annette and Terry in tow. Terry in particular really loves food, so I was keen to take them out for some good meals.

One evening we went to the Abyssinian – and because Terry is outrageously well travelled, he has actually eaten Abyssinian food before…. IN Abyssinia (what’s now known as Ethopia and Eritera). Well. At least Annette had never experienced it before!

The Abyssinian is a very popular restaurant that does food from the Horn of Africa, serving traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean cooking. Every time we go there, it is always packed. We normally order the combination platter, but this time I decided that we should order dishes from the menu.


The Abyssinian

We had a couple of starters to whet our appetite (not that our appetites needed whetting!). We had the Melaznzany ($6.00), which were cubes of grilled eggplant that had been seasoned and marinated with fresh garlic, olive oil and chillies.

The Abyssinian

We also had the zucchini starter ($6.00), which was sautéed zucchini with a light, spicy berbere and tomato sauce that had been sprinkled with crushed chillies seeds.

(Note: berbere is a hot spice mixture that is a key ingredient in Ethiopian and Eritrean food. Injera is a sour, pancake like bread that is traditionally made of teff – a grain that isn’t available in Australia. At the Abyssinan it’s made with self raising flour, rice, red sorghum and corn flours. To make injera, the flour is mixed with water and allowed to ferment for several days, before being baked into large pancakes. It comes out soft and spongey, with lots of air holes on one side.)

Both starters came with injera bread rolls. They were fantastic – spicy and packed with flavour. They were oily though. This is not a place that does diet food!

The Abyssinian

For mains, we ordered five dishes to share between us. A large platter of injera was brought out and the stews were tipped on top. The food is eaten by ripping off small pieces of injera and using the bread to pick up stew.

We had:

The Abyssinian

The shiro ($15) which was finely ground spiced chickpeas that had been cooked and simmered with olive oil and chopped garlic. Mhmm mhmm, check out that oil. I did say already that it’s not diet food! It made for a spicy, nutty sauce, although I would have loved it if some pieces of chickpea had been left in for texture. This was served in a little pot, and we spooned the hot sauce spooned over the injera as we ate.

The Abyssinian

The dubba ($18) consisted of large cubes of pumpkin in a thick berbere sauce. This was great, rather spicy, with the pumpkin lending its usual sweetness.

The Abyssinian

The dorho kulwha ($18) was strips of chicken breast that had been marinated in ghee and African spices and sautéed. It was topped with pureed tomato and simmered in a light creamy sauce with turmeric.

The Abyssinian

My favourite dish of the night was the derek tibs ($18) – strips of marinated lamb that had been seasoned with spiced clarified butter, green chillies, onions and rosemary and then grilled on a hot pan. The meat was cooked until very dark – and almost burnt – which gave it a deep, almost bitter flavour. It was also very spicy, which I loved! To keep the meat hot, this was also served in a little pot, and we spooned some on to the injera as we ate. I also appreciated the fresh tomato that was a touch cooling against all the spiciness.

The Abyssinian

And last, we also ordered the goat on kemmam sauce ($20). The goat had been slow cooked with a tangy sauce made of lemon, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. The meat was tender in the moreish sauce.

We also ordered an extra serve of injera ($1) so we could keep mopping up the stews. The problem with having the stews directly on the injera is that the parts below get all soggy and hard to pick up. So extra injera was essential!

I really like the Abyssinian. The food is inexpensive, filling and flavoursome. If it’s your first time, the combination platter is hard to beat, but otherwise I think ordering off the menu is the way to go.

Read about a previous visit to the Abyssinian here.

The Abyssinian
277 Racecourse Road, Flemington
Phone: (03) 9376 8754

The Abyssinian on Urbanspoon

Cookbook Challenge, Week 19, Rice

Sticky rice with peach

Recipe: Sticky rice with mango
From: Ballymaloe Cookery Course

The theme for this week’s Cookbook Challenge is “rice”. Being Chinese, I eat a lot of rice, so I wanted to make something that I wouldn’t normally try and decided on sticky black rice. I read the recipe this morning, just as we were about to go out and purchase black rice, and realised that I was meant to soak the rice overnight. Gaaaah. So much for my intentions of being better organised!

That led me to flick through several of my other cookbooks to find a new recipe – and I came across this recipe for white sticky rice with mango that didn’t need overnight soaking. As a bonus, I already had glutinous rice in the pantry as I normally use it to make a savoury one pot dish with Chinese sausage and shiitake mushrooms.

Sticky rice with peach

After the hour of soaking, I put the rice on to cook. At the same time, I started baking a cake and was gathering ingredients, when the phone rang. It was my mum and dad, so I was juggling flour, sugar and butter while chatting to them on the phone. This meant that I totally forgot that I had the rice on the stove! Fortunately, I remembered it just in time, and managed to get to it just as all the water had absorbed. Phew!

Since it’s no longer mango season, I served the sticky rice with peaches instead and poured over some extra coconut milk. Tastewise, the rice was okay – it was mildly sweet, and had a faint fragrance and flavour of coconut. I would have preferred it sweeter, as it mostly just tasted like glutinous rice and it all seemed a bit wrong.

I doubt I’d make it again. I guess I like my glutinous rice to be savoury!

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here.

Update: See the round up for this week at My Food Trail.

Sticky rice with peach

Sticky rice with mango

From: Ballymaloe Cookery Course

Serves 4-6

400g of white glutinous rice
285ml coconut milk
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons caster sugar (I would recommend more sugar. Double it!)
300ml water

4 small or 2 large mangoes, peeled and diced (I used peaches)
lime juice and sugar
mint leaves to decorate

Soak the rice in cold water for at least an hour and drain. In a saucepan, place the rice, coconut milk, salt, sugar and water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer, and let it simmer uncovered until all the water has been absorbed.

Remove from the heat, place the lid back on the pot, and let stand for five minutes.

Transfer the rice to a steamer or a double saucepan and steam for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with the diced mango sprinkled with lime juice and a little sugar. Decorate with mint.

Collins Kitchen, Grand Hyatt: food bloggers dinner

Last MONTH (I cannot believe how behind I am!) I had the pleasure of attending a food bloggers dinner hosted by Nuffnang at Collins Kitchen, Grand Hyatt.

You can read other recaps of the dinner at:

Nuffnang
Food Rehab
Half Eaten
Hot or Not
The Gourmet Challenge
Addictive and consuming
I eat therefore I am
Iron Chef Shellie
EssJay Eats

Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

We started with a tour of the kitchen, which might sound dull to non food lovers, but to a whole gaggle of food bloggers, a kitchen tour is a VERY EXCITING THING (yes, so exciting it deserves caps!). The kitchen is open to guests, so people eating at Collins Kitchen can go for a wander and watch the chefs at work at the five cooking stations – sushi, deli, wok, grill and patisserie.

Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

We oohed and ahhed at the fresh ingredients on display, the sexy red meat cutting machine in the deli section, and all the super shiny clean surfaces. Whoever cleans that kitchen – please come and clean mine!

Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

In the wok section, there were two turbo jet wok burners. When they turned on, they sounded like a jet taking off. I didn’t take a photo of them because I was transfixed with a serious case of lust over the burners – I WANT.

There was also a steaming station for fresh dim sum with artfully arranged steamer lids. I wonder who has the job of arranging items in the kitchen in an attractive way?

Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

And now for some food pics! We started with a sushi/sashimi platter. It was all very fresh and good. The fresh wasabi was amazing.

Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

And you can bet that I totally ninjaed the unagi – yum!

Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

Next up was the antipasto platter with rockmelon, prosciutto, liverwurst, mini gherkins, deli meats, roasted vegetables, and tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella and basil. I didn’t try everything on this platter, but the liverwurst was fantastic, all smooth and rich.

Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

The tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella and basil were also very good.

Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

Next was a tomato, olive and basil foccacia, very so cheesey and soft. I restrained myself to only one piece because I knew there was lots more to come.

Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

Moving along, we received a plate of Asian roast meats with roast pork, roast duck, soy sauce chicken and char siu. I only tried the crispy pork and char siu, but from other reports I should have tried the chicken as well! I thought the crispy pork and char siu weren’t bad, though the crispy pork could’ve been crispier.

Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

There were sauces to go with the roast meats – plum sauce, chilli sauce and a ginger and spring onion one.

Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

As well as a plate of Asian vegetables, which I didn’t eat because I was trying to keep some stomach space spare.

Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

With the roast meats, there was also received a plate of fried rice. The rice was fine, and this is probably just me, but I would normally never eat fried rice with other dishes. To me, fried rice is a meal in itself. So I was kind of wanting plain rice with the roast meats….!

Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

And now for the big guns…. this was the grainfed porterhouse steak, which had been aged for 30 days on the bone, and grilled to medium rare. This was some gorgeous steak, tender and full of flavour.

Grand Hyatt Collins KitchenGrand Hyatt Collins Kitchen
Grand Hyatt Collins KitchenGrand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

The steak was served with creamy, buttery, mashed potato, very tasty mushrooms, broccolini and a couple of sauces – a red wine reduction and bernaise.

Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

And finally to end the savoury courses, there was also a mixed seafood platter with grilled scallops, salmon, tuna, Moreton Bay Bugs and large prawns. The sweet, plump scallops were a highlight, as were the Moreton Bay Bugs.

Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

For dessert, a gorgeous looking dessert platter came out. On the platter was a banana millefeuille, chocolate fondant, and various flavours of ice cream – pistachio, passionfruit, strawberry and vanilla. The pastry in the millefeuille was particularly good, and I adored the pistachio the most out of all the ice cream flavours.

Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen

And on the other side was a rhubarb crumble with custard and peach melba. I actually thought the peach melba was a pannacotta until I dipped my spoon into it and found it very runny. No one seemed particularly enthused about the peach melba, poor little dessert! Too retro for us??

As you can see, there was a lot of food! The only part that was a bit disconcerting was jumping from one cuisine to another to another, but I realise that was so we experienced a cross selection of dishes on the menu. And I soon got over the cuisine changes once the plates of food were placed in front of me. ;) It was fantastic to spend the night chatting to fellow food bloggers, so a big thanks to Nuffnang and the Grand Hyatt for the evening!

Disclosure: I dined courtesy of the Grand Hyatt and Nuffnang.

Collins Kitchen, Grand Hyatt
123 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9657 1234

Collins Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Beer DeLuxe: Shinobi Japanese Secret Beer Garden

Shinobi Japanese beer garden at Beer DeLuxe

In support of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, Beer DeLuxe at Fed Square have set up a Japanese “secret” beer garden with a special menu and beers imported from Japan.

Shinobi Japanese beer garden at Beer DeLuxe

When I received an email inviting me to check it out, I was sold at Japanese beer garden. I took Alastair along with me to have a look, and we walked in from the Flinders Street entrance. The outdoor area facing Flinders Street has been modified with a structure of bamboo screens and a noren curtain. Past the curtain, is a courtyard, with an outdoor bar to one side and tables and chairs on the other. It made me wonder where the secret part came in.

Shinobi Japanese beer garden at Beer DeLuxe

We met up with Janis from Beer DeLuxe, who took us on a quick walk around. It turns out that apart from the entrance and the outside bar, there was a small part hidden off to one side, behind white Japanese curtains – ahh I got the secret part then! We were told that it was modelled on a Japanese tea garden, and it was much quieter than the rest of the bar.

Shinobi Japanese beer garden at Beer DeLuxe

I particularly liked the lanterns hanging up in the area, which were surrounded by hand folded paper cranes. Cute!

After our little tour, it was time for food. Quentin, the chef, came out and we had an enjoyable discussion about the menu and the simplicity and flavours of Japanese food, and the importance of presentation. A big thanks to Quentin for taking time out from his evening to chat to us.

Shinobi Japanese beer garden at Beer DeLuxe

This was the gyu tataki – very lightly seared eye fillet with citrus ponzu dressing and a small smattering of Japanese chilli flakes. The quality of the meat was evident – there was nothing to hide behind in this dish. The meat was very rare, very tender and delicious. I could have eaten buckets of this!

Shinobi Japanese beer garden at Beer DeLuxe

We tried the gyuniku negimaki, which were thin slices of grilled eye fillet wrapped around spring onions in teriyaki sauce. I loved the crunch of the spring onions with the meat.

Shinobi Japanese beer garden at Beer DeLuxe

Another item I really liked were the skewers of grilled salmon coated with a mixture of teriyaki and yakitori sauce. The salmon was good, perfectly cooked, with the subtle sauce not masking the flavour of the fish. Behind the salmon we had some crunchy seaweed salad.

Shinobi Japanese beer garden at Beer DeLuxe

We also tried the karaage, little tender and moist pieces of fried chicken which had been marinated with soy, garlic and ginger and then deep fried. You can’t go wrong with fried chicken, no you can’t.

Shinobi Japanese beer garden at Beer DeLuxe

We had the opportunity to taste a couple of the beers available as part of the Japanese beer garden. One was the Temple Soba ale, which is made with toasted buckwheat! Did you know that Australia is apparently the third largest producer of buckwheat? The buckwheat gave the beer an interesting nutty aroma. We also tried the Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale, which I seem to recall being told that it was made with rice (someone correct me if I’m wrong!). This was particularly interesting, ever so slightly fruity and very drinkable.

Shinobi Japanese beer garden at Beer DeLuxe

Not that we got sick of beer, but if we had, we could have moved on to these Japanese soft drinks. Alastair loves these because the bottles use marbles as a plug – such a gimmick (but I must admit it’s very cool).

Shinobi Japanese beer garden at Beer DeLuxe

Alternatively, we could have hit the cocktail list. One we tried was the Ginger Ninja, which was made with jasmine tea infused with 42Below Vodka, sake, cucumber and ginger beer. This was very sweet – possibly a bit too sweet – although I did like the cucumber that came through at the end.

Shinobi Japanese beer garden at Beer DeLuxe

Speaking of sweet, when we were chatting to Quentin, he recommended dessert – which turned out to be mochi ice cream.

Shinobi Japanese beer garden at Beer DeLuxe

Have I mentioned how much I love mochi before? My mochi love also extends to mochi ice cream, which is a small ball of ice cream surrounded by a thin layer of chewy mochi. (You can also buy these at Asian grocery stores around the city.)

Shinobi Japanese beer garden at Beer DeLuxe

As we were eating the mochi ice cream, one of the staff members folded an origami flower. Isn’t it gorgeous? I was so impressed that I had to take it home and it’s now sitting on my book shelf.

Shinobi Japanese beer garden at Beer DeLuxe

And finally, just before we left, Alastair and I both chose a fortune paper. As we were leaving we tied our fortunes on to the robes hanging by the entrance. I can’t recall what my fortune said now, but hopefully it said something about a long life filled with love, good food and many more trips back to Japan. ;)

It’s a shame that the structure is being taken down at the end of March, but I’m glad I got to see it and try some of the food and beer. A huge thanks to Janis for taking time out from her evening to show us around and chat with us.

Disclosure: Our food and drinks were courtesy of Beer DeLuxe.

Shinobi Japanese Secret Beer Garden at Beer DeLuxe
Federation Square,
Cnr Swanston & Flinders Street,
Melbourne.
Times & Dates: 12 noon – 11:45pm, daily until Sunday, 28 March 2010.
Telephone: 03 9663 0166

Happy Birthday!

30th
I didn’t bake these tarts!

It’s my wonderful husband’s birthday today! To celebrate, there was Birthday-eve French Toast, and Birthday Lasagna (as there is every year) and lots and lots of love.

Happy birthday to the best hand model, taste tester, and carrier of heavy shopping a girl could ever have. <3 <3 <3

Cookbook Challenge: Week 18, BBQ

Lamb with coriander and chilli

Recipe: Lamb with coriander and chilli
Cookbook: AWW Kitchen

Oh, the weather in Melbourne has been so lovely this week. Perfect for this week’s Cookbook Challenge theme – BBQ.

Despite my best intentions when the Cookbook Challenge began, I still find myself on Sunday frantically trying to decide on a recipe, cook, photograph and blog before the week is over. I always intend to be more organised…. but…. I think I need the pressure!

It took me ages to decide on a recipe – you would think that BBQ would be an easy week, but for some reason I just couldn’t find anything I particularly liked. It didn’t help that I had run out of garlic and was trying to find a recipe without it. In the end, we just went out to buy some and I was able to finally decide on a recipe.

In the cookbook, the recipe is for chicken, but since I already had lamb chops I just went with them. I thought it was pretty good with lamb. Spicy, sourish, and fragrant – gosh it smelt good cooking on the BBQ. I served the chops with a simple baby spinach and chickpea salad, and I couldn’t resist garnishing with some extra cut chilli. Delicious, and another challenge done for the week. Perhaps I’ll be more organised next week?

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here

Update: See the round up for this week at My Food Trail.

Lamb with coriander and chilli

Lamb with coriander and chilli

Adapted from AWW Kitchen

Serves 4

8 lamb chops

Coriander and chilli paste
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
4 fresh small red thai chillies, chopped coarsely
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cloves
2 cardamon pods, bruised
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
10cm stick fresh lemongrass (20g) chopped coarsely
2 medium brown onions (300g) chopped coarsely
4 cloves garlic
1/3 cup (80ml) lime juice
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons peanut oil

Make the coriander and chilli paste by blending or processing all ingredients until the mixture forms a smooth paste.

Combine the paste and the lamb in a large bowl, cover, and let sit for at least an hour.

Cook the lamb on a hot BBQ for a few minutes, turn and cook for several more minutes until cooked.

Sydney: Doyles on the Beach

Watsons Bay

To complete our weekend of sea, sailing and sun in Sydney, Alastair and I went to Watsons Bay with my MIL Annette, her husband Terry, plus Alastair’s Uncle Ken and Aunt Rayleen.

Doyles on the Beach

Being in the stunning Watsons Bay, we went to Doyles on the Beach for lunch. I hadn’t heard of Doyles before, but Terry told us that he had eaten there previously – 30 years ago. While that may sound like a while ago, seafood has been sold on the site since 1885 and the restaurant has been owned and operated by the family for over 5 generations. Amazing!

Watsons Bay

We had a quick wander around Watsons Bay prior to lunch to work up an appetite. It was another beautiful Sydney day, warm and still.

Doyles on the Beach

When lunch time came, we were seated at one of the tables under the verandah looking out to the ocean.

Doyles on the Beach

The tables had a rather fabulous view for lunch. It was only slightly marred by people lining up for tables, but they soon dispersed.

Doyles on the Beach

We were given some nice crispy bread rolls before the food arrived.

Doyles on the Beach

I had the Doyles selection ($39) – which came with blue swimmer crab, a stuffed jumbo prawn, a couple of King prawns, some fried whiting fillets, smoked salmon, and a small amount of chips. Everything was really good and a good balance of deep fried versus non deep fried. Don’t you hate it when you order a seafood selection and it’s all deep fried?

Doyles on the Beach

Alastair had food envy when he saw my meal, particularly with the crab, which was particularly moist and sweet. Being a good wife, I did share. Here’s a shot of the inside of the stuffed jumbo prawn. It was filled with bacon, sultanas, egg, spinach, leeks and pine nuts and covered in beer batter. It was really tasty, with a great crispy batter and not at all oily. Same for the whiting fillets. Chips were good too.

Doyles on the Beach

Alastair ordered the Tasmanian Atlantic salmon fillet, which was pan fried and served on a dill and potato galette with lemon infused olive oil ($36.90). He said it was okay, but he had food envy which caused post ordering regret, I think!

Doyles on the Beach

I didn’t take a photo of all the meals, but I snuck a shot of Rayleen’s meal – she had the barramundi fish and chips (you could also order whiting, snapper, flathead, or john dory at various prices). It was HUGE. It could possibly be the most expensive fish and chips ever at $40.30 but it did look fantastic.

Doyles on the Beach

We finished with sticky date pudding to share. Everyone was far too full to do this justice. I would advise against ordering dessert and ordering a serve of prawns to share instead!

Doyles on the Beach

Oh, and we received some chocolates with the pudding – they had fish stamped on them. Cute!

Watsons Bay

We had a delightful lunch at Doyles. It’s fairly pricey, but… do you need to scroll up and look at the view again? That’s the price to feel like a fancy schmancy person for a couple of hours, my friends. Plus the seafood was good, so it seems to be the case of “do one thing, do it well”. However, it does mean that if you’re not a seafood eater, there’s no love for you here – with ONE dish on the menu for non seafood eaters (steak) it’s incredibly slim pickings.

After lunch it was time to head to the airport and say farewell to beautiful Sydney. We returned to Melbourne with Annette and Terry, who had spent four weeks in NZ previously and stayed with us for a week before heading home to the UK.

And so began a week of eating…. which I will eventually post about! I have a huge backlog, but will try and find the time to clear it as much as possible.

Doyles on the Beach,
11 Marine Parade,
Watsons Bay NSW
Phone: (02) 9337 2007

Cookbook Challenge: Week 17, Vietnamese

Recipe: Vietnamese chicken salad
From: AWW’s Kitchen

Second recipe: Vietnamese creme caramel
From: Ballymaloe Cookery Course

The theme for this week’s Cookbook Challenge is Vietnamese and I considered making pho, but when I saw that the recipe started with “roast your beef bones for 1.5 hours” and continued with “cook your stock for 4 hours” I couldn’t be bothered going through with it! Perhaps if we had spent the weekend at home, but life is rather busy at the moment and I didn’t have the time to spare. That and pho costs $8 a bowl up the road in Footscray….. and I doubt that I could do it better. (Did anyone else make pho? I applaud you if you did!)

Vietnamese chicken salad

Instead, I made a Vietnamese chicken salad from AWW’s Kitchen. I don’t know how authentic it is (not very, I suspect) but it was delicious. One of the good things about doing this Cookbook Challenge is that it has encouraged me to make recipes I wouldn’t normally make. I’m sure that if it hadn’t been for Vietnamese week, I would never have made this recipe. But it’s such a good salad that I’m going to add it to my salad rotation!

The salad consists of poached chicken, pickled carrots, onions and bean sprouts, and then cabbage, Vietnamese mint, coriander, and a fish sauce and lime dressing. It’s all crunchy and fresh, and I loved the tangy sweetness of the pickled vegetables. The herbs were fantastic in it, giving the salad a fresh pepperyness. I highly recommend trying this recipe!

Vietnamese creme caramel

For dessert, we had Vietnamese creme caramel. It was just like a regular creme caramel, except the caramel was made with palm sugar, and there was coconut milk in the custard.

It was a nice variation on the French dessert, with the coconut milk giving a faint coconut flavour. I did find it a bit eggy though, and (since I’m being critical right now) I should have pushed my caramel further. It wasn’t quite caramel enough, but it was hard to tell the state of caramelisation with the palm sugar when I was cooking it. To be honest, plain old sugar would have done the trick just as well.

I enjoyed the theme for the Cookbook Challenge this week since I hardly ever cook Vietnamese food. The theme for next week is “BBQ”… hopefully the weather stays nice!

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here.

Update: See the round up at My Food Trail.

Vietnamese chicken salad

Vietnamese chicken salad

Adapted from AWW’s Kitchen

500g skinless chicken fillets (I used thigh)
2 shallots, peeled
2cm knob of ginger, peeled
1 large carrot (180g)
1/2 cup (125ml) rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons caster sugar
4 stems of spring onion, washed and sliced into small pieces
1 & 1/2 cups (120g) bean sprouts
2 cups (160) finely shredded cabbage (I used wombok)
1/4 cup firmly packed Vietnamese mint leaves
1/2 cup firmly packed fresh coriander leaves
1 tablespoon crushed roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons fried shallots

For the dressing (you could get away with making half this amount)

2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup (60ml) water
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 clove garlic, crushed

In a medium saucepan, place the shallots, ginger and water (enough that you think will cover your chicken). Bring the water to the boil and put the chicken into the pot. Bring the water back up to a boil, and then cover the pot and turn the heat off. Let the chicken sit in the water for 10 minutes, and then return the pot to the heat and bring it back up to a boil. As soon as it comes up to a boil, turn the heat off, and let the chicken sit in the poaching liquid for at least another 10 minutes. The chicken should be cooked at this stage – take it out of the liquid and shred it coarsely. Discard the liquid.

Meantime, cut the carrot into matchstick sized pieces. In a large bowl, add the vinegar, salt and sugar, and stir to combine. Add the carrots to the vinegar mixture and let it sit for five minutes. Add the spring onions, and let it stand for another five minutes. Finally, add the bean sprouts and leave it for three minutes. Drain the pickled vegetables, discarding the liquid.

Place the pickled vegetables in a large bowl with the chicken, cabbage, mint and coriander.

To make the dressing, add all the ingredients into a screw top jar and shake well. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss to combine, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the nuts and shallots.

Vietnamese creme caramel

Vietnamese creme caramel (Due Kem Caramen)

From Ballymaloe Cookery Course

Serves 6

110g palm sugar or golden caster sugar
100ml water
225ml water
225ml coconut milk
4 eggs
50g golden caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla essence

6 ramekins

Put the sugar and water into a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. After the sugar has dissolved, brush the sides of the pot occasionally with a wet pastry brush, and cook the sugar until it is a rich brown caramel.

Pour the caramel into 6 ramekins, swirling it around so that it coats the side a little as well as the bottom. I find it easier to do each ramekin at a time, otherwise the caramel sets too quickly for swirling!

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

In a different saucepan, heat the milk and coconut milk until it starts to bubble around the edges. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the caster sugar and vanilla essence. Remove the milk mixture from the heat and pour into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.

Strain the milk and egg mixture into a jug, and then pour it into the ramekins. Place the ramekins into a tray with boiling water to half way up the side of the ramekins. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until just cooked (mine were cooked after 35 minutes).

Remove from the oven and cool. To serve, run a knife around the edge of each one and dip the bottom of the ramekins into hot water. Invert on to individual plates.

Provenance: Valentine’s Day Berry degustation

On Valentine’s Day, Dany, the Boys and I headed to Provenance for a berry degustation. The original plan had been to hold the event as a picnic in the Edinburgh Gardens, but with the weather forecast predicting showers, it was held inside the restaurant – picnic style on astro turf!

Berry degustation at Provenance Food & Wine
Thanks to Dany for the pic!

All the tables and chairs had been moved out, the entire floor astro turfed, and everyone sat on “picnic blankets” (I think they may have been tablecloths!) for the duration of the meal – fun!

Berry degustation at Provenance Food & Wine

The theme being berries, everything we ate involved berries of some kind. When we arrived, we were greeted with a bottle of Point Leo Road Salmon Blanc de Noir, and warmed ciabatta along with raspberry infused salt and strawberry infused olive oil.

I couldn’t really taste the raspberry in the salt – it just seemed really salty! But it was a lovely colour. The olive oil did have a faint strawberry flavour, and the bubbly went down rather well.

Berry degustation at Provenance Food & Wine

Next up were grilled chicken skewers with strawberries, balsamic vinegar and rocket salad. I’m not a huge fan of fruit with meat, but found that the balsamic vinegar really brought the strawberries and chicken together.

Berry degustation at Provenance Food & Wine

After that we received venison skewers on celeraic mash and blueberry sauce. I wasn’t too sure about the venison and blueberry sauce combo, but I LOVED the sauce with the celeraic mash.

After that it was time for dessert – not one dessert. Not two desserts. THREE desserts.

Berry degustation at Provenance Food & Wine

The first dessert was a divine summer pudding. Summer pudding has always sounded odd to me – white bread soaked in berry juice? How could that possibly be good? Well, it was. Really good. The bread was all moist and juicy with the berries, and just lovely with a dollop of cream. (I ate all that cream. Hell yeah.)

Berry degustation at Provenance Food & Wine

Dessert #2 was pannacotta with berry compote. It was a good pannacotta – creamy and smooth, with the berry sauce providing some tartness.

Berry degustation at Provenance Food & Wine

And finally, dessert #3 was a bluberry tiramisu topped with shavings of white chocolate. It was a berramisu really, as there didn’t seem to be any coffee in it? It was my least favourite of the desserts, but that could have been due to already eating two rich desserts and three bottles of bubbles (between the four of us). Phew. I was a bit weary by this stage and ready for a nap!

We had a great time though – hopefully there will be another event soon to look forward to.

Provenance
288 Smith Street
Collingwood
Phone: 03 8415 0700

Provenance Food & Wine on Urbanspoon

Sydney: assorted eating

18 foot skiff racing

We headed up to Sydney the other weekend to watch Alastair’s cousin race in a regatta. It was the beginning of a whole week of eating!

18 foot skiff racing

I knew zilch about yachts, sailing, and 18 foot skiffs, before the weekend. But after two afternoons spent on a spectator ferry watching the racing, I can now tell you all about….. nothing. Yes, I still know zilch. It’s a whole different world, my friends. But we had a great time, and got to spend time with Alastair’s family, many of whom were in town to watch the race. (Hello to Alastair’s aunts and uncles – Ian, Dale, Ken, Rayleen and to my mother-in-law Annette and step-father-in-law Terry.)

18 foot skiff racing

We stayed in gooorgeous swanky Double Bay, as that’s where the regatta was held. Double Bay must be under the dictionary definition of seriously swankypants. It is NICE.

Sydney eats

We flew up on Friday night, and the next morning we headed out to brunch at a cafe around the corner. Being a terrible blogger, I neglected to note down where we were but I managed to take photos! For brunch, Alastair and I both had the corn fritters with crispy bacon, greens, avocado salsa and tomato relish. I had been expecting a pancakey type of corn fritter and was surprised when the dish came out. Despite this, the corn fritters were SO GOOD. They were little balls of corny, deep fried goodness served with a generous amount of bacon, and hidden underneath the salad was a rich and tangy tomato relish.

Sydney eats

Afterwards we had a wander around Double Bay to kill time before the race started for the day. We came across a shop that sold freshly made fruit juice.

Sydney eats

It was hot and we were thirsty, so we ordered a juice. I was just going to ask for an orange juice, but Alastair said that was boring and asked the guy behind the counter to make one based on what he recommended. He ended up giving us a juice with fresh watermelon, pineapple and mint and wow! It was fantastic – very refreshing and sweet with the mint really setting it off. I’m so glad we didn’t get boring old orange juice! It was such a good juice that we had another one the day after.

Sydney eats

After our juice, we found a place selling fresh gelati.

Sydney eats

We shared a blood orange gelato. It was just okay – I found it quite sweet but really tangy at the same time. Alastair said that it tasted like Raro!. I had post-gelato-flavour-choosing-regret and wish that we had picked mint instead.

Sydney eats

For dinner that evening, we ate at Limoncello in Double Bay. It was really busy, so we decided that was a good thing and waited 15 minutes for a table. I had the papperdelle with osso buco ragu. My pasta was excellent – toothsome and covered with a thick, rich meaty sauce. The restaurant was really freakishly dark though, hence the crap photos!

Sydney eats

Alastair had the tagliolini with Balmain bugs meat, semi sun-dried tomatoes in a cream sauce. Oh, he picked well! I had a taste and it was delicious – the sauce was very moreish and not too heavy.

Sydney eats

Rilsta from My Food Trail was also in Sydney that weekend, and she had organised a lunch with a few Sydney bloggers. She let me gatecrash their lunch – thanks! :D So on Sunday, Alastair and I headed into the city for lunch at Ripples on Sydney Wharf, where we met Anita from Leave Room for Dessert, Belle from Ooh Look, Mademoiselle Delicieuse from Spoon, fork and chopsticks and their partners.

I ordered the spiced mussels with saffron, mascarpone and chilli with garlic baguette. Fancy name, but the mussels were really just in a curryish broth. They were nice though.

Sydney eats

Alastair had the roasted pork belly with apple and fennel puree, chargrilled scallop, witlof and celeraic salad. Verdict? He commented that it wasn’t the best pork belly he’d ever had. While it looked mightily impressive, the crackling wasn’t very crispy and the meat needed a bit more flavour.

18 foot skiff racing

Unfortunately we couldn’t stay long, as we had to be back in Double Bay to watch the last race in the regatta. Ultimately, the cousin and his team placed 8th, which is pretty respectable considering the plague of injuries, and continual crew changes during the week.

Coming up (if I can manage to find time AND motivate myself to blog) – more on our week of eating: seafood by the sea, eating with our hands, wine tasting, and POP ROCKS (seriously!).