Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Le Bebe

This made my day/month/year.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Room Of One's Own

Because I don't have my own house to decorate, all the homeware-y things I have are crowded into my bedroom. It's choc-full of wares that really should be spread throughout at least three rooms. I have become a little obsessed with scouring the internet for trinkets I want for my future abode. The number one desire is a white wall! I had this crazy notion that I wanted a raspberry red wall in my room when I was 14, and I have been seriously regretting it, would do anything for a fresh coat of white!

NYC skyline pillowcases - Urban Outfitters

Edward Ruscha 'Pay Nothing Until April' 2003 

Wall Dot - Pony Rider 

Birds on a Wire Photo Clips - Urban Outifitters

One day!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sour Cherry Biscotti

Thank you to everyone who entered the High Tea Giveaway this week! Am excited to announce that the winner is BEANS. Because she mentioned knickers. And cookies. Expect a parcel in the mail soon!

Our office biscuit jar was replaced with a fruit bowl last year. Which in theory is a good move, and in practice only proves how entirely mundane it is to drink tea without something to crunch on, especially around 3.30pm. Coffee shops that give you a little lump of biscuit, or a chocolate-coated licorice bullet alongside your afternoon cup of tea are life savers, because I have to admit that sometimes I'm slightly cheap cheap like a bird and am constantly sucked into anything free. I will happily turn a blind eye to slightly tepid tea water if there is a complimentary tiny-teddy involved. The man at the convenience store on the corner gave me a free Ferrero Rocher with my bus ticket last week, and it so cheered me up that I got a little unnerved that such a tiny gesture could make me so happy, but then I got over it and ate it in one swift bite.

These are not quiet-granny biscuits, they are unapologetically crunchy, which is just as well because when you dunk them in your tea, which you must, they manage to hold their shape for just the right amount of time before softening to the tooth. Sparks of sour cherry abate the sweetness a little, and they look pretty too. Tea is not tea without biscuits, biscotti is way more exciting than the skanky apple in the bottom of the fruit bowl, you know it and I know it. 

Sour Cherry Biscotti:
Adapted from the Women's Weekly 'Biscuits' cookbook
2 eggs
3/4 cup caster sugar (I halved the sugar from the original recipe because 1 1/2 cups is a little intense)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups plain flour (I added an extra 1/4 cup of flour because the dough was crazy sticky initially)
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup dried sour cherries, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons water

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a baking tray with parchment.

Whisk sugar, eggs and vanilla together in a medium bowl until smooth and combined. Stir in sifted flours, dried sour cherries, cinnamon and water. Mix to a sticky dough, if it is still sticky add a little more flour but try not to add too much.
On a lightly floured surface knead dough until smooth. Halve dough and using floured hands, roll each half into a 30cm-long log. Place both logs on the tray and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Reduce oven temp to 150 degrees C. Take the logs out of the oven and let cool on the tray for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, slice the logs diagonally into 1cm slices. Place slices in a single layer, on ungreased oven trays. Bake biscotti for about 25 minutes until dry and crisp (I like mine really crunchy) turning over halfway through baking time. Cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

High Tea Giveaway

The first giveaway on Stovetop Revolution has arrived!

This week I have a brand-spanking-new copy of the Women's Weekly High Tea hardcover cookbook valued at over $30, to award to one lucky reader. Inside, there is literally a whole chapter dedicated to scones, heaven! I'm actually rather sad to be giving it away.

To win a copy of this stunning book that every girl should have on her shelves, leave a comment on this post telling me your secret to a perfect high tea. The most creative comment will win and you can bake fairy cakes and scones until the end of time. Anyone can enter, I will post worldwide. The winner will be announced on Friday 18 February.

Good luck!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Felix, Sydney

Justin Hemmes' Merivale Group continues to surprise me with their ability to open restaurants that are so unlike one another, and yet so similar in the quality of fare, that you would never pick the fact that they exist under the same corporate umbrella. Felix, one of the newest addition to the Merivale family, sits opposite Ash Street Cellar in the Ivy complex, the suit capital of the universe and the heart of Sydney's CBD. Lauren Murdoch has skipped across the alley from pint-sized Ash St Cellar to lead the way in the kitchen, cooking up the kind of food you always expect to eat in Paris but find it increasingly difficult to find.

The space is unexpectedly large, boisterous and a little overwhelming at first. Felix seats 140 and seems to incorporate anything and everything French, from the dark-wood panelled ceiling, to the inky leather booths and the red cloth lamps on each table. Sydney Rock oysters shucked to order, lobsters and mud crab sit atop an iceberg behind a panel of glass, there are people sitting on stools at the winebar and the rotisserie is fired up in the corner. The open kitchen is a controlled frenzy, Murdoch zips back and forth from the kitchen to the seafood wall at a determined pace.

The service is clipped, friendly and errs on the slow side, although at 12.30pm on a weekday I can let them off the hook a little, the lunch service is in full swing and does not dissipate as we sit there for a good hour and a half. The lamb pie with sautéed mushrooms and a pool of fragrant tarragon jus is perfectly seasoned, the jus providing a perfect antidote to the otherwise slightly dry lamb which soaks it up with each bite. The steak tartare sits tall next to a stack of crunchy toasts and piles of diced sour pickles, baby capers and pickled onion, a trembling egg yolk crowns the tender meat and melts into the mix at the touch of a knife. I have been assured that the Reuben sandwich is huge and wonderful and an evening spent propped up at the bar with one of those and bottle of Les Petites Vignettes Bourgogne is a must.

There is a special place in my heart for restaurants who serve petit fours with the bill and the pint-sized blueberry friand was a stunning finish to a long-overdue father-daughter lunch. Allez!

Ash St, Sydney, 2000
(02) 9240 3000

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fried Zucchini Flowers, Part Deux

The last time I made these, they were good, but not this good. These have dutifully climbed the ladder from average, to really rather sexy. The box of zucchini flowers had been sitting in the depths of the fridge for a few days too many, their petals had grown a little soft and had nearly welded together in the tangle of the cling-wrapped crate. Last night was the absolute last straw, they were on their last legs and needed a good stuffing, as do most fatigued specimens I expect (ooo la la).

 Expect many-a-note here for the updated version. Last time, I dipped the stuffed flowers in beaten egg and rolled them in flour, the result being an unimpressive, lumpy coating and quite frankly, too many bowls to wash. Last time, the gorgonzola was simply cubed and stuffed, last night it was whipped and piped, a much silkier, runnier, glossier filling ensued, much to my delight as it spilled out all over the plate when speared with knife and fork, ready to be sopped up by the mini zucchini stems.

In other news, it's Valentines day soon, I think you should take yourself somewhere with twinkling lights...

...and maybe somewhere where you can sit in some kind of booth. Booths are the seat to the soul you know! Only dark, sexy, bistro booths though, MacDonald's booths don't do anything for the heart strings except coat them in trans fat.

Three Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Flowers:
adapted loosely from and Jamie Oliver
10 female zucchini flowers
50g gorgonzola dolce
50g fresh ricotta, from a deli, not the horrible pre-packaged supermarket stuff
1/8 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 a beaten egg
salt and pepper to taste

2/3 cup plain flour, sifted
150ml cold beer
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 tablespoons water
pinch of salt

vegetable oil for deep frying

Remove and discard the inner stamen from the inside of the zucchini blossom. Using an electric beater,  beat together both the gorgonzola and ricotta until combined. Add the egg and whisk until light and fluffy. Stir the parmesan through the mixture and taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Ask your sister/friend/lover to gently hold the zucchini petals open, fill a piping bag with cheese mixture and pipe the flowers full. Twist the petals together to hold the filling inside.

To make the batter, add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk vigorously until smooth and lump-less. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more water until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
Heat about 5cm deep of vegetable oil in a deep, wide saucepan, drop some batter into the oil, and if it browns within 15 seconds, the oil is hot enough. Dip each zucchini flower in the batter and let the excess drip back into the bowl. Quickly lower each flower into the oil, frying two flowers at once. Once they are golden brown (about 30 seconds each) remove with a metal slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the flowers and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve immediately.