Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Food News

I have something very important to tell you all.

Zucchinis aren't just vegetables anymore.

They are


I just saw this article on and thought you should all be privvy.

Woman fights off bear with zucchini
September 24, 2010 - 2:21PM
Police say a Montana woman fended off a bear attack with an unlikely weapon - a zucchini.

Missoula County sheriff's lieutenant Rich Maricelli said a 90-kilogram black bear attacked one of the woman's dogs on the back porch of her home near Missoula just after midnight on Wednesday.

When the woman, whom police did not name, tried to separate the animals, the bear bit her on the leg.

Maricelli said the woman reached for the nearest object at hand on the porch's railing - a large zucchini she had harvested from her garden.

The woman flung the vegetable at the bear, striking it and causing it to lumber off.

Maricelli says the woman did not need medical attention.

Wildlife officials were trying to locate the bear on Thursday.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

bills. Sydney

bills. is generally regarded as a breakfast joint.
The hotcakes? Soft, pillowy and everything you look for in a jazzed-up pancake.
The corn fritters? My dad orders them every. single. time.
Me? I usually go for the scrambled eggs,
and a sneaky serve of coconut bread.

However on this occasion, lunch was had.
At this said lunch... I discovered green goddess dressing.
Mint, yoghurt, dill, the girls from the venus razor ads, lemon,
(and more i'm sure).
Watch this space...
The dressing is coming.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Celery, Grape, Parsley and White Anchovy Salad

Anchovies. Usually not a crowd pleaser.  My sister went to Italy last month and when she asked me what I wanted her to bring back for me, the look on her face wasn't the prettiest when I asked her for a can of anchovies instead of a topshop dress (you can now order online hehe!)

White anchovies are the best type (in my humble opinion). They have a milder, fresher flavour than the brown ones and are a somewhat craze at the moment....

Exhibit A.

This salad is inspired by one I had at Buzo in Paddington alongside a terribly impressive mushroom, prosciutto and truffle lasagne. I added grapes to give a little freshness and sweetness to balance the saltiness of the anchovies.

It won't be for everyone, but the puppy wanted a sniff, and that's usually a good sign.

Celery, Grape, Parsley and White Anchovy Salad:
Inspired by Buzo

This recipe uses handfuls instead of precise measurements, because who really measures when making a salad? Also for the dressing I just used lemon juice and the leftover marinade from the anchovies, if you can think of a better dressing, let me know!

a handful of thinly sliced celery
a handful of chopped parsley
a handful of halved seedless green grapes
approx 6 marinated white anchovy fillets, sliced in half length ways, marinade reserved
squeeze of lemon juice

Toss all ingredients together and serve with a glass of crisp white wine. Serve preferably on some kind of terrace or patch of sunshine, as summer a'comin!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Caramelised Banana Ice Cream

There are some people out there, alot of people in fact, that HATE bananas.

By hate I mean they can't be in the same room with them. If they get a whiff of banana, they feel instantly ill.

Guess what this affliction is called....


Surely someone out there could have thought of a more crazy-sounding name. It's so damn obvious and sounds so silly! Maybe because it is silly not to like bananas. Because bananas are awesome, I don't understand what could possibly be wrong with them, they are so friendly looking. Bright and sunny and so easy to eat too.


Maybe this recipe will shock you out of your banana slump.

To be honest, as it's not a custard-based ice cream it's not as creamy and smooth as I would like. But the flavour makes up for it. Caramel and roast bananas, eating it reminds me of being in Thailand. It tastes like a banana smoothie but more fun to eat.

Caramelised Banana Ice Cream
Adapted from Not Quite Nigella

4 over ripe bananas (starting to turn black), chopped up
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbs unsweetened orange juice
50g butter, melted
500ml cream
100g icing sugar, sifted
To make caramelised bananas preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Chop the bananas and place in an ovenproof baking dish. Melt the butter and mix with brown sugar and juice until combined. Pour caramel mixture over the chopped banana and bake for 20-25 minutes until banana is soft. Cool slightly and place in fridge until cold, reserving the caramel liquid to add later.
Whip cream until soft and voluminous peaks are formed but not stiff. Add sifted icing sugar. Place cream, milk, caramel sauce and cold caramelised bananas and churn for 25 minutes in an ice cream maker. You can break up the banana pieces with a spatula as they’re very soft if you prefer to have less banana chunks or you can leave it chunky. Once finished, place in freezer proof container and freeze until set.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Orange Blossom Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Syrup & Honeycomb

I know Terry Durack has pretty much swept the panna cotta onto the bogan pile (right on top of sticky date pudding) after seeing it on nearly every restaurant menu in Sydney for the last six months, but I had never made one before and they are a saviour and a half for a twelve person dinner party. So I'm terribly sorry Terry, but I'm choosing to ignore you this time.

I have talked before about the exotic Middle Eastern charm of orange blossom water. It's one of those fragrances that you can't put your finger on. As Matt Preston so aptly put it; "it's like kissing the neck of a girl and tasting a little of her perfume". Can't say I have kissed the necks of many girls but I image that to be quite a match.

Blood oranges have the same effect, I'm always surprised every season at the intensity of the colour when you cut through the rind. It made the most wonderful ruby pink syrup that would sit rather nicely at the bottom of a champagne glass.

It was my Dad's birthday on Friday. He was given an ipad after dropping subtle hints like "I want an ipad please" all over the place. I made this dessert for him, the candle wobbled a little when it was pressed into the milky jelly, but it lasted long enough to be puffed out.

It was also a chance to make honeycomb again, it's so fun to make, if you haven't tried it yet you really should. Three ingredients, you literally can't go wrong. I bet you even have all the ingredients in your pantry already don't you...

Orange Blossom Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Syrup & Honeycomb:
Inspired by a Claire Winterburn recipe from Masterchef season 2

Serves 6

Honeycomb recipe is here, keep honeycomb in the freezer until you serve it, it will keep it crunchy.

3 1/2 gold strength gelatin leaves
200ml full cream milk
100g castor sugar
200ml pouring cream
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
3 blood oranges

Oil 6 x 100ml capacity dariole moulds.

In a saucepan, heat the milk and 70g castor sugar until the sugar dissolves.

Meanwhile, soak the gelatin in a small bowl of iced water until softened. Remove the sheets from the water and squeeze to drain. Add the gelatin to the warm milk mixture and stir to dissolve.

Combine the orange blossom water and the cream. Strain the milk mixture into the cream, stirring well to combine. Pour the panna cotta mixture into the prepared moulds and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Juice the oranges and strain the juice. Heat the juice with the peeled zest of a quarter of an orange in a small saucepan with 30g castor sugar and reduce until syrupy in consistency, it should reduce by about half in approx 15 -20 minutes.

To serve, remove the panna cotta from the refrigerator. Dip the bottom of the moulds into a bowl of hot water, run a knife around the inside of the mould and invert the panna cotta onto the serving plate. Drizzle a little blood orange syrup around the base of the panna cotta and place two large chunks of honeycomb on the top. Garnish with sliced blood orange.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pumpkin and Goats Cheese Risotto with Crisp Sage

You are going to have to take my word on this one because there is no photo of the risotto. Instead i'm mixing it up and showing you this picture of a bunch of flowers that I stole from a crack in the pavement somewhere. Everyone likes flowers. Right? The risotto photo was just so quickly taken that I can't put it up here without being laughed out of town. Apologies will be given in writing if you insist.

Moving on... If I went out of my comfort zone for the dumplings, then this post I'm literally snuggled up in the doona, in the bed, in the cocoon, that is my comfort zone.

Risotto is my kind of fall-back dinner, in the sense that it never fails in three categories:

A: To taste fantastic (in case you burn it)
B: To warm you up.
C: To use up the last of those ingredients in your fridge that are straining their necks hoping you'll notice them.

Let's really be honest here, this recipe is just an excuse for me to eat goats cheese and call it dinner. Again.

Crisp sage is another new favourite of mine. It gives a layer of something extra to an otherwise mostly soft-textured dish. The herb also reminds me of bunny ears. And I love bunnies, so THERE.

I've heard a lot of people complain about risotto, about how it always sticks to the bottom of the pot, how it's dry and how they don't care to be a slave to stirring. Boy oh boy have I got tips for you!

The stock AND the wine must be warm, not cold. If they are cold, the temperature shocks the rice and screws it up.

Once you have 'toasted' the rice with the oil, butter, onion and garlic, pour the wine in and DON'T STIR IT. This creates a pocket of oil underneath the rice that keeps it lubricated and it wont stick to the pan. If you do stir it, that layer will be lost and you will have to keep stirring until it's done. Therefor you can keep adding ladles of stock to the rice, let it soak up without disturbing it, and you won't have to stir it for about 10-15 mins. Your arms will thank you, promise.

Don't overcook it, risotto should be rather loose, not dry and sticky. The rice should be al dente, like pasta, once it is done don't leave it on the heat for too long or it will become claggy. You'll have to keep tasting to know when the rice is right.

With this wealth of knowledge you are armed to make the perfect risotto. Don't let me down and stir the pot! Or ELSE.

Pumpkin and Goats Cheese Risotto with Crisp Sage:
An original StoveTop recipe

Serves 2

(this recipe is pretty approximate, have done my best to figure out measurements but you can adjust easily to taste)

200g butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into cubes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
a knob of butter
1/3 brown onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 1/4 cups aborio rice (generally the rule is 1/2 a cup per person but I'm greedy as)
3/4 cup dry white wine, warmed over low heat
approx 1 litre chicken stock, warmed over low heat
1/4 cup fresh soft goats cheese (or to taste, don't overdo it though or it will be too salty)
cracked black pepper
handful of chopped fresh sage
6 whole sage leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil, to fry the sage

Roast the pumpkin in an 200 degree C oven for 20 mins, or until soft. Set aside.

Meanwhile heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and stir until soft and translucent (not brown). Add the rice and stir to toast it for about 2 minutes, you should hear a crackling sound and the rice should turn a milky white colour.

Add the white wine, one quick stir and then leave the rice until it is just about all absorbed. Add the stock cup by cup, waiting until it is nearly all absorbed before adding the next cup. DO NOT STIR IT until the last cup of stock is added, don't worry, it wont stick. I can hear you worrying! If you do get tempted to stir it, that's fine, but you will not be able to stop stirring or it will stick to the bottom.

Taste the rice, if it is still crunchy add one more cup of stock, or a cup of warm water if it tastes too salty (depends on what stock you use, store bought stock packs in the salt). When the rice is just about al dente, turn down the heat to low, add the pumpkin and goats cheese and stir to combine, if the pumpkin is nice and soft it should break down into the rice, turning it a beautiful orange colour. Season with cracked black pepper. The goats cheese will have added enough salt.

Take the risotto off the heat and add the chopped fresh sage. Place the lid on the pot to keep the risotto warm while you fry the sage leaves for garnish.

For the crisp sage, heat the remaining olive oil in a small frying pan. When it is hot, add the sage leaves and saute for about 40 seconds until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain.

Garnish hot risotto with crispy sage and enjoy!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Poached Pork and Garlic Chive Dumplings


Eeek. The supermarket s-bomb. Awkward.

Everywhere I travel, I love wandering through the supermarket, looking at all the shiny, new and different packaged goods. I know I'm kind of crossing a line here since this blog's motto is 'down with bottled pasta sauce' but sometimes I really am a sucker for exotic things in crinkly wrapping.

Asian supermarkets in China town bring back that lovin' feeling. It's another world in there. Today a cart was wheeled by me with five naked, gutted, headless pigs, and no one even looked twice. I love it!

Back to the dumplings.

I could eat dumplings for lunch and dinner...

Every. Single. Day.

Not breakfast though. Pre-11am dumplings ain't so flash.

I could also probably drink a whole bottle of gyoza vinegar sauce. Soy sauce? Pfff... how 2005 of you!

I'm really proud of these. It's not often I cook Asian food, even though I'm constantly eating it out and wandering aimlessly through the supermarkets. It's time to bring these babies home. Maybe they will be breakfast tomorrow after all...

Poached Pork and Garlic Chive Dumplings:
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller (again, it's the gift that keeps on giving)


200g fatty pork mince
1 egg
1 tablespoon shredded ginger
1/4 cup coarsely chopped garlic chives
2 tablespoons Shoaxing wine
20 gyoza wrappers (available from Asian supermarkets)

Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 drops chili oil

Combine pork, egg, ginger, chives and wine in a bowl and season to taste.
Mix together with your hands until combined.
Spoon a heaped teaspoon of pork mixture into the centre
of each gyoza wrapper,
moisten the edges with a little water.
Seal edges and pleat with a series of pinches.
Set dumplings on a tray lightly dusted with flour.
Cook dumplings four at a time in boiling water.
When the water returns to the boil, add a cup of cold water,
when the water reboils, the dumplings are ready.

Remove with a slotted spoon,
serve with steamed bok choy and dipping sauce.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Espresso-Glazed Hazelnut Biscotti

I'm having a breakdown over butter crisis,

and am in a serious food rut.

I've been working five days a week for the last few weeks (not complaining, it's been rad) and the weekends have been filled with all things to do with celebrating. Birthdays, housewarmings, the fact that it's Friday...

When I have had time to cook, at night time, the photos come out horribly lit, and there is no way I'm going to reveal their horribleness to you, even if they did taste better than a kick in the shins.

So anyway, coffee is what I need, and so coffee is what I'm serving up today.

Coffee glazed biscuits. Biscotti if we're being fancy.

I don't know if there was something wrong with the recipe, or if i'm suddenly a screaming mess when it comes to baking (too much Kahlua and too much espresso in the glaze?), because these definitely don't look like the picture in the magazine.

But you know what?

I'm shredding that picture to little bits, because I somehow managed to save these from an untimely, soggy death, and double baked them into half moons of crunch filled with nutella. If you care that they don't look as perfect as the picture, then poo poo to you!

Espresso Glazed Hazelnut Biscotti
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller

Makes approx 25-30 biscuits

40 gm soft, unsalted butter, softened
55 gm (¼ cup) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
100 gm (2/3 cup) plain flour
50 gm hazelnut meal
1 tsp baking powder

Espresso glaze
240 gm (1½ cups) pure icing sugar, sieved
45 ml espresso coffee
45 ml Kahlua
15 gm butter
½ tsp vanilla bean paste

nutella, to sandwich

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
With an electric mixer, beat the caster sugar and butter together until pale and creamy.
Add egg and vanilla extract and beat until smooth and combined. Stir in flour, hazelnut meal and baking powder and mix until combined. Transfer mixture to a piping bag with a plain nozzle and pipe 2.5cm rounds of the mixture onto a baking paper-lined tray. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown (depends how crunchy you like your biscotti, I like it really crunchy). Cool for 5 mins.

For the glaze, mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan until smooth and just warm. Drop four biscuits into the saucepan at a time and turn them over with a fork to coat. Drain excess icing then place on a wire rack over a baking tray and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Place the biscuits (still on the wire rack), back into the oven for 10 more minutes to crisp up. Remove and cool completely. Sandwich two biscuits together with a dollop of nutella and serve with coffee.