Thursday, May 31, 2012

Snapity Snap



 I found my old Minolta SLR and a roll of film in the back of a drawer at my parents house over the weekend and took it for a spin around our neighborhood. We went and had chewy oatmeal cookies and coffee at Bourke St Bakery's Potts Point branch and made the most of the last days of Autumn. Some of the low-light snaps didn't work out so well, and I need a bit more practice, but I kind of like the way they turned out in the end. What do you reckon? They're a bit fuzzy around the edges, but the film had been sitting in a drawer for six years...

We found this little fella slumped outside his house on the way back, and he followed us halfway home. What an excellent camera model, I gave him a scuffle around the ears for you all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Little Otik, Berlin

Photo from Little Otik

I've stumbled across this little restaurant in Berlin through the Kinfolk Journal. It's called  Little Otik, one scroll down the menu and my phone is in my hand ready to book. Kir Royale! Radishes and butter! Dandelion crostini! Biodynamic pork shoulder! Brown sugar pie! All this underlined by one of the chefs, who is ex Diner in Brooklyn.

Locking it in for July. So excited. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cafe Sopra's Banoffee Pie

Feast your eyes on this! A chocolate-shavings action shot courtesy of Taz, and the deliciousness by way of Sydney's Cafe Sopra. If the landlord hadn't cut out the banana tree in our backyard (we're still reeling from that horrific news) this pie would no doubt have topped with those lady fingers. But I picked up a butter-yellow bunch from the organic market anyway, and was so excited to have an excuse to make this. But first, some back story:

My housemate has been in love with a gorgeous Swede for a good while now, and she's been staying with us for a few weeks. She's blonde and sunny and exceptionally smart, she takes dance classes and they read Swedish novels to each other to practice the language. Sometimes she waits for him outside the hospital where he works to surprise him after his shift. It's like a good Barbra Steisand film!

This love bubble is all very cute to watch, and we packed a bunch of people around our mini dinner table on Sunday night to farewell them before they left to go back to her hometown for a month. She made three types of potato salad, I didn't even know there were three types, but there they were: one with herbs and capers, one with capsicums and salami, and another with beans. We had potatoes coming out our ears. We were all crammed around the table in our little house, and as the banoffee pie was sliced and glasses of wine were poured into waiting glasses, my housemate leaned over, a huge smile on her face, and said "I love these people! Look at them all!" And I agreed. We do Sundays exceptionally well at our place.

About this pie. It's famous! If you go to Cafe Sopra you must order it. It's also very easy to make, and there is no baking involved whatsoever. Don't have an oven but have a food processor? You can do this! The best bit is boiling the cans of condensed milk for two hours until the milk turns into a thick and delicious dulce de leche. (We've done this before, remember? God I hate those early posts! Cringe.) Then all that is needed to be done is finely crush a box of digestive biscuits in a food processor, mix the crumbs with melted butter and press into a tart tin. Chill, pour in the caramel, leave it overnight in the fridge to set, then slice your bananas on top, top with whipped cream, shave some choc and you're a superstar! I wouldn't count on saving the rest for leftovers, though. This is much, much better eaten soon after it's assembly. Trust me, I tried it.

Cafe Sopra's Banoffee Pie
Adapted only slightly from the original recipe here.

I didn't add any vanilla or sugar to the cream as I found the caramel to be plenty sweet enough, but feel free to.

2 x 400g cans of sweetened condensed milk 
400g (1 box) of regular digestive biscuits (not chocolate coated)
180g unsalted butter, melted
4 bananas
60ml thickened cream
chocolate for shaving on top

Open the cans of condensed milk only slightly by pulling back the ring pull a TINY bit. This helps some heat escape so the cans don't explode. (They probably wont anyway but open them just in case.)  Place the cans in a small saucepan and fill the pan with water until the waterline is just below the lip of the cans (you don't want any water to mix with the milk). Bring to a simmer and leave for 2 and a half hours. If the rattling of the cans annoys you, you can place a soaked cloth underneath them in the water. Top up the water as necessary as it simmers, some will evaporate.

Meanwhile, make the tart case. Pulse the biscuits in a food processor until they are very finely ground. Pour into a large bowl and add the melted butter. Stir until well combined, and pour into a greased and loose-bottomed 28cm tart tin. Using your fingers, push the crumbs into the tin to make a firm base. Make sure you push them into the corners so they stand up. Also make sure the crumbs are evenly distributed, or the pie will be lopsided. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until your filling is ready.

When the cans have been simmering for a good 2 and a half hours, carefully remove them from the water using tongs. They will be hot. Let them cool for a little while, then carefully open them and empty their contents into a medium-sized bowl. The milk should be a beautiful caramel colour. That's dulce de leche!

Whisk the mixture together until it's smooth, then pour into your chilled tart case. Cover and refrigerate overnight to set.

When you're ready to assemble your pie (close to when you want to eat it), slice the bananas and lay evenly over the caramel in layers. Overlap so all the slices fit. 

Whip the cream to stiff peaks and dollop on top of the bananas, spreading it with a spatula to look all Donna-ish. Top with shaved chocolate and serve.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dan Lepard's Peanut Butter Cookies with Oats and Choc Chips

photo by Bec Lee 

This is my friend Tazzy, of steak sandwich fame, short for Tarryn and sometimes Razzmatazz, isn't she a button? It was the Sydney Garage Sale Trail last Saturday, the day when everyone in Sydney pulls out their old stuff and hangs out on their stoop with a few baked goods and music playing, hoping someone will buy everything. You can wander from suburb to suburb, trawling through other people's gold.

If you missed out, you missed out big time. Tazzy and her housemates pulled together all their vintage threads and set up a little stall (it's cooler if we call it a pop-up shop, though, isn't it) outside her house. I brought cookies to sell and there was Sydney's First Taco Truck right up the road. Multicoloured bunting was strung about and I saw the most AMAZING vintage mirror-fronted medicine cabinet that I can't believe I talked myself out of taking home. I did however pick up a wine rack, a couple of pots of herbs and a leopard-print necessity. It was such a good day.

Although I came here to talk to you about these cookies. Ooohhhhhh Lordy. And I thought the hazelnut cookies were good. My friend Alice sent me this recipe after posting about them on the Pure Pops blog not long ago. I soon found out that this could be, and I'm not putting this lightly, perhaps the best peanut butter cookie recipe in the world. Slightly chewy in the center, reminiscent of an ANZAC, flecked with chocolate shards and rolled oats.Excellent vintage shopping fuel.

This is my first time trying a Dan Lepard recipe, who is an award-winning baker and regular contributor to The Guardian (are all these hyperlinks making you dizzy?) Alice swears by him, and she completely knows best.

Dan Lepard's Peanut Butter Cookies with Oats and Chocolate Chips
These cookies were only slightly adapted from David's original recipe in The Guardian, I have only added half a cup of roughly chopped chocolate, as per Davids suggestion. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Little H at Bar H - Surry Hills

Not everyone has time for a complete, sit-down, silver service meal at lunch on a weekday. Most of the time it’s stone-cold sushi or avocado on toast at my desk between spreadsheets. Which isn’t healthy, nor does it inspire me to work any harder or faster, which was the whole point of the grab-and-go lunch in the first place, right? So these days I'm loving the spread of lunch options from some of my favourite restaurants, that A) come quick and easy,  B) are bite-sized in terms of price and C) are within walking distance of the CBD. First there was Shortgrain, Longrain’s answer to speedy Thai, and now there’s Little H, Bar H‘s Cantonese inspired, canteen-style takeaway window that operates out of the regular restaurant between 11.30am – 2.30pm Monday to Friday.

Coincidentally (or not, perhaps) Shortgrain and Little H are actually in the same street, and although that caused a scuffle for a while there between the two owners, I ain’t complaining. Anything to get us out of the office, ey? Hamish and Bec Ingham’s Bar H is renowned for its flavoursome, seasonal and delicate food, where snap-fresh ingredients are key and central to the restaurant’s success.

It was no surprise then, that Little H follows on in the same vein of awesome, starting with the steamed free-range shredded pork burger with paper-thin strips of fennel and mint leaves. For $12 it’s a catch, the pork is sweet, sour and smokey all at once. Deep-fried silken tofu with caramelized tomato sauce offers cloud puffs of soft tofu that acquiesce under a chopstick, and the sauce? Well, why isn’t all tomato sauce caramelized? It’s ace, and especially well matched with the home-brewed iced tea. To finish, little pots of sticky coconut tapioca pudding with fresh figs and swirled with dark caramel top everything off on a high note. I ate spoonfuls on the stroll back to the city, in the sunshine, thanking the Gods of this town that I didn’t have to eat desk sushi that day.

Little H at Bar H
80 Campbell St, Surry Hills
for orders and daily specials call (02) 9280 1980 or email

This review was originally posted at 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012