Rediscovering Brunch at Brewtown Newtown

Brewtwon Newtown - Polenta BreakfastI’m back.. sort of. On borrowed time and borrowed internet I’m sneaking away to try and establish a sense of normalcy. Over the wonderful festive season I enjoyed many delicious meals and fun times with family and friends. It was a weird type of holiday… I’ve never “holidayed” in my home town before but before I knew it I was being whisked off to Canberra to start my very first “big girl” job – champagne pops!

So excuse me if I get a bit melancholy but essentially I’m sitting very much along in a hotel room with no natural light. Keeping in mind we all have to start somewhere I’m pressing on! Which is exactly what happens at Brewtown in Newtown – segue of the year!

I know I’m a little slow on the bandwagon and with so many places now famous for brunch I can admit I didn’t have high expectations. I had previously popped into Brewtown for a chai and a wind down after a long road trip and found the service to be surprisingly attentive and lovely. Not that I expected it to be poor it’s just it was noticeably good. Even though we came near closing time we were made to feel comfortable offered some sweets and never rushed. It was a great Chai too.

This time my friend and I decided to try out Brewtown’s brunch. Being increasingly popular around town brunch can be dangerously mediocre. Reading the menu (the night before we went) we were surprised and a little concerned by how… abnormal it was. No big breakfasts of BLTs here instead you can order such wonders as sticky date, coconut chai morning pudding, pistachios, dehydrated mandarin or Grilled black sausage, eggplant puree, fennel and blood orange salad, goats cheese.Brewtown Newtwon - Baked Hash

Being more of a savoury person and always feeling weird not ordering eggs when I go out for brunch together we went for the baked polenta, rustic romesco, truss tomatoes, feta, poached eggs & walnuts and the corned beef hash with garden peas, poached egg and parmesan crumbs. At $15 a pop this is about the price you’d pay for an eggs benedict elsewhere. 

This was honestly one of the most inventive and delicious brunches I had in a long time. The portion size was quite generous for someone as little as I but I could not stop eating. The spicy romesco and crunchy polenta perfectly complimented the poached egg and the feta and walnuts made sure the dish was not overly rich. While I’m usually a bit weird about having so many textures on a plate I loved every bite! My friend too almost ate her whole dish – which was extra surprising seeing as she was coming out of a cold.

If you have room, which would be very surprising, Brewtown have a stunning sweets cabinet. With their famous “brewnuts” (cronuts) and a new hybrid of muffins and croissants –  “cruffins”. I honestly almost took a handful takeaway. Also if you’re into coffee, I hear it’s kind of their specialty – obvs.

The lesson from all this is brunch doesn’t have to be boring and Brewtown is leading a renaissance of flavours and fun, so go try it.

Brewtown Newtown on Urbanspoon

Christmas Eve Eve Easy Apple Strudel

IMG_0606As promised your guide to be the hostess with the mostess continues with this really simple dessert.

“Deconstructed” Strudel

Don’t panic this isn’t a fancy recipe, here I am using the word “deconstructed” more to substitute lazy than for any fan fare. The following recipe serves 4 people.

What you need:

4 Apples
2 heaped tbs of Brown Sugar
1 tsp of cinnamon powder
1.5 tbs butter
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry
Pouring cream/ice cream/ whipped cream to serve – the choice is yours

Let’s do this:

  1. Cut a square of puff pastry into four, roughly equal squares
  2. Brush the pastry with butter or eggwash and cook according to packet instructions
  3. Cut the apples (or other fruit) into bite size pieces, removing any seeds.
  4. Heat 1 tbs of butter gently in a fry pan on a low heat.
  5. After the butter has melted add the fruit
  6. Sprinkle the Brown Sugar liberally on the fruit before adding a touch more butter and stir through.
  7. You can leave these to sweat for a few minutes or place a lid/plate on the fry pan to quicken the process. At this time keep your eye out on the pastry in the oven.
  8. Place the fruit on a place and top with the square of puff pastry and a dollop of chosen cream

This dessert is incredibly effective and simple. If you are really in a bind you can cook the fruit early and warm but fresh is always best.

And with that I wish you the merriest of Christmases and a fabulous Festive season. Stay safe, have fun and enjoy…

Now go be merry and make some dessert! xx

Proscuitto wrapped baked fetta

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Introducing everyone’s favourite new addition to a cheese platter!

I know it seems like a scandal to say that a basic cheese platter needs improving. But it’s the festive season so why not bump it up a notch.

This baked fetta is so popular I had to make it four times before I could actually get to taste it myself, so it’s probably best for smaller groups and a cold drink in hand.

What you need:

1 Square of Danish Fetta (you can get this at your local deli or the deli counter of your supermarket)
4 Slices of Proscuitto (this is approximate and will depend on the size of your fetta)
Oliver oil

Let’s do this:

  1. Wrap the fetta in prosciutto. I like to do this to cover the entire block as pictured below.
    Baked Fetta
  2. Pour about a 50c size olive oil in your palm and rub over the prosciutto.
  3.   Bake for about 15 minutes on 180 until prosciutto is crispy
  4. IF IT DOESN’T CRISP pop it in a high grill for 2 minutes either side or… until crispy.

I know those instructions look pathetic but I’m trying to make your life incredibly and sneakily easy!

The cheese is a bit more robust than your usual cheese platter so I like to serve this with a slightly toasted sliced baguette or toasted bread. The price of this beauty can vary depending on your local deli etc. but you can always subsitute the proscuitto which is the bulk of the cost for Jamón serrano keep the costs down. The baked delight costs between $5-10 dollars to make plus bread.

Enjoy! xx

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Exploring Canberra at Eightysix

IMG_0482     Looking for places to eat in a new area is pretty tricky. I’m often torn between local knowledge, shop front allure and recommendation apps. So over the first few weeks in Canberra I collated a whole list of places recommended by colleagues, friends and local knowledge. After much scrutinising – as you can imagine, stuff like this actually causes anxiety for me – I chose to visit 86 in Braddon as a bit of a celebration/treat night.

Guys, I was totally offered a permanent job! So of course I had to treat myself to a perhaps slightly over the top dinner. As this was a pretty important event, because depending on my calculations I had been interning to unemployed for nearly 7 months before picking up any kind of full-time contract, I had to go all out. So after collecting a whole list of recommendations from colleagues, friends and local knowledge I excitedly decided I would celebrate at Eightysix. To be quite honest the clincher was a photo of their famed popcorn sundae (above) on Facebook.

I booked way in advance as I do in these situations and secured a spot on the bar so we could drool over our food before it arrived.

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Tucked away just off Londsdale St, Eightysix is pretty slick. The seasonal menu is written across the wall of the darkly painted and dimly lit restaurant. There is a bar off to the right when you walk in and of course the kitchen stretching up towards the back.

No celebration is complete without a cocktail so promptly ordered a Jalapeño Margarita – delish! I love a good margarita any day and the gentle burn on your lips from the Jalapeño was a pretty wicked sensation.

We decided the best plan of attack would be to order two entre/sides, a single main to share and of course that amazing dessert.

The duck pancakes arrived shortly after ordering and were devoured only moments after. A perk of sitting at the kitchen was all our food was served from the chefs with a detailed description.

Next up was what has to be one of the most delicious fish dishes I’ve had at a restaurant –  The “Bag Salmon”

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To be quite frank my experience at 86 was heightened in part due to the fact it was cracking through the facade of my Sydney Snobbery. There were lots of oos and aahs because the experience exceeded things I was used to at the same price point at home. It was helped a little later on in the evening when we were waiting for our cauliflower salad (that had essentially sold out so we had the lucky last one) and met one of the owners of Eightysix, Sean Royle. Catching up on the latest goss with his pals, Sean was nice enough to share how the “Bag Salmon” was created almost by accident when he and his partner were trying to make their own dinner from the restaurant left overs.

It seemed hard to believe; when I’m left with leftovers you get fried rice. But before us was a gorgeously pink salmon pickled beetroot, juniper berry, vodka and a bay leaf for 24 hours before adding coriander seeds. The fish is then bagged and Sous-vide for 7 minutes before be pan fried before being decoratively garnished with a salad of radish, carrot, ginger and some citrus fruits – to die for. Harry still talks about it.

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The cauliflower was a bit more of a hearty option next to the fish, fried cauliflower with some Jalapeños (now I know where all the extra Jalapeño juice for my cocktails came from) and some herbs.

We finished the evening in the most delightful way, having not one but two desserts – more out of necessity than greed. My Hulk of a boyfriend smashing through the glass that contained the Holy Grail Caramel Popcorn Sundae. Not that I was complaining when I got to have some more…

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The overall experience at Eightysix, from the service (which I rarely take note of) to the food, was so impressive I have recommended it to literally everyone I know… and now some I don’t! After basking in our shock of the near perfect meal we were further impressed by seeing the chefs now stocking up the ovens to begin the slow cooking process for lamb and pork ready for the next day of service and 10 hours of cooking.

The whole feast including the 4 dishes and 4 cocktails was a pretty reasonable $140 and I would gladly return. I already have a list of desirables for my next order…

Eightysix on Urbanspoon

Caramalised Christmas Pavlova

IMG_8245It’s the time of year when the sun is shining, everyone is happy with impending leave approaching and the summers BBQs kick off. It is often possible during this time to perhaps… over commit. So when you want to be the hostess with the mostess but really couldn’t be bothered I have a couple of super easy show stopping dishes for you to have up your sleeve.

Cheese platters have made nibblies easy and BBQs are employed for mains, so this is all about desserts.

First-up let me introduce a little friend of mine, Caramalised Christmas   Pavlova. Everyone loves a pav, it’s a standard BBQ dessert but this pav is just a touch different making it a little easier to eat by the handful.

I have to be very honest with you, pavolova is no friend of humidity, so if it’s storming outside I would give this dessert a miss (unless you have the aircon blasting and all the doors closed – don’t worry I won’t judge you).

The secret to this pavlova is a little bit of creativity and a lot of brown sugar.

What you need:

6 x egg whites (duck or hens eggs both work for this recipe)
350g cups of brown sugar (quite firmly packed)
1 tub of cream for whipping
1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste (or extract)
Fresh or frozen berries (I often use 3 punnets of fresh strawberries)
A sprig of mint leaves

Let’s do this:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150C and take out your oven tray or a large cookie tray.
  2. To start crack the eggs separating the yolk from the egg whites and placing the eggwhites into a large mixing bowl. You can keep the yolk for custard, crème brule or to feed to your dog so you don’t have to waste any.
  3. Whip the eggwhites until they start to form soft peaks – this is done fastest in a electric mixer but some crazies do it by hand.
  4. Sprinkle the sugar through about a quarter of the quantity each time until stiff peaks form. Because you are using brown sugar the meringue mix goes a light tan colour.IMG_8015
  5. Place some baking paper on the oven tray you intend to use. If you wish you can trace a circle. I have employed a number of ways – the slop and slap where I just place the mixture in a circle like position and the more precise method where I place a ramekin in the centre of the tray and pile the meringue around. If you use an oven proof ramekin you may leave it on the tray while the meringue bakes just be careful to spin it around making sure it will not be baked in to the point you have to break it out – I tend to just take it out before baking.
  6. Reduce the oven to 100C and bake the meringue for between 1 hour and 15 minute to an hour and a half.
  7. While you wait, whip the tup of cream with the teaspoon of vanilla bean paste and prep the fruit to serve.
  8. Once the meringue is crispy on the outside leave to cool inside the oven.
  9. When you are ready to serve, generously dollop the cream on to the wreath adding berries all the way around. At one end place the sprig of mint at one end.
  10. If you wish to make this for a party do not assemble until you get there. The best mode of transport for this is taking the meringue in a clean pizza box – note though the longer it is exposed to air the more chewy it will become.

This is my favourite Christmas dessert it’s a bit of a process but is totally worth it. Brown sugar meringues are delightful and always very well received. You can also make some extra meringues for people that are lactose or dairy intolerant and serve it just with the berries.

If you are unsure of the brown sugar meringue you can ease yourself in using Stephanie Alexander’s recipe that uses a mixture of caster sugar and brown sugar.

More super simple desserts will be coming your way this week to ensure you have a good arsenal of easy show stopping desserts that also don’t break the bank!

Enjoy xx

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Roll’d Over

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So today I was reading a food blog and read a post by a lovely, clearly very dedicated blogger who posted the day after she gave birth. Even if she was generously overstating how long it was since she gave birth that is some effort. So shitstorm at work aside and the fact I’m falling over myself to try and get organised I can be dedicated too!

Just not to bringing lunch to work… hence I’ve been a super regular customer at Roll’d the amazing Vietnamese Summer roll shop that is being rolled out across the country.

When you want a guilt free food court lunch Vietnamese food is pretty much the go to. Alas, it seems Canberra has not yet adopted the exorbitantly cheap banh mi available throughout Sydney (like here ) and Melbourne.

And while I am very capable of making my own summer rolls, Roll’d conveniently have a number of different flavours – 6 to be exact and variety of sauces about 5. So why bother when for $8 I can get my fried barramundi and prawn and pork rolls.

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The cute packaging adds a little extra pizazz that I also cannot recreate at home.

So go on out there and grab some guilt free lunch in the mildly depressing foodcourt before enjoying your fair in the park.

 

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Rolld. on Urbanspoon

Shameless Self Promotion and Begging

Hello dear kind, gloriously,attractive readers.

How are you?

What do you mean what do I want? I don’t want anything…. Except to tell you how particularly gorgeous you appear today and to vote for me in the Menulog Food Lover Blog Awards

Menulog Food Lover Blog Awards 2014 Badge

Please… you handsome devil you

xx

 

Cheat’s Vietnamese Summer Rolls

Cheat Summer Rolls_Plates 3There comes a time in every week where you have to have a cheat meal. Now I’m not endorsing you go out and eat a 2,000 calorie meal but if you can avoid the stove and oven you have done very well.

Vietnamese Summer Rolls are often served in restaurants as an entree but I mean really what is an entree but a very small portion of a main? So gather one, gather all and put together the weeks easiest cheat meal that requires some chopping, some boiling of the kettle and just a tiny nip off to the local chook shop or left over chicken.

Cheat Summer Rolls_RollWhat you need:

1 Packet of Dried Rice Paper Rolls
1 Large Packet of Vermicelli Rice Noodles
2 Carrots
2 CucumbersIMG_0273
A bunch eat of fresh mint and coriander2 tbs fish sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
couple of drops of soy sauce
1 lime, juiced
1 birds eye chilli – sliced (with or without seeds)

Let’s Do This:

  1. “Julienne”  if you can the carrots and cucumbers – aka cut them into thin strips. To ensure the cucumbers don’t get too watery I tend to scoop out the seeds before julienne-ing.
  2. Shred the chicken onto a plate – leaving some sneaky bits of chicken skin is a great treat too!
  3. Boil the kettle and pour over the vermicelli noodles leaving them to rest in the bowl of water until translucent before straining.
  4. To make the sauce combine the juice of the lime, fish sauce, soy and sugar together and top with a chilli – I leave the seeds in for a bit of a kick but that is optional.
  5. Place recently boiled water in a shallow bowl and take all of your bits to the table
  6. To assemble dunk the rice paper in the water before topping your roll with all that you got.

Cheat Summer Rolls_Finished

You may see that I am not exactly a perfectionist in how I roll my … rolls. But for those who are, please refer to the handy info-graph I borrowed from here.  Alternatively if you are not into assembling, atop a generous portion of vermicelli noodles place some chicken, fresh herbs and the rest of the ingredients and enjoy your own vermicelli noodle salad. Fried garlic or onion would also be a delightful addition!

This recipe makes enough for four people to have at least three rolls from $5. spring roll

 

Baking to make a house my home

Phillippa's Home Baking_Closed

It is pretty often said that home is where the heart is. More and more I’m realising my heart is split into a bunch of little pieces and scattered in different areas. It’s not as bad as it seems, it just means I have multiple homes.

Sometimes to make the transition a little smoother I like to do something comforting and that thing is often to bake. It’s another cliché I can honestly say after moving into multiple houses and finally interstate nothing makes a home quite like a baked goods rising in your new oven.

It is for this reason, as well as being a super awesome person etc etc I am so thankful to my friend who bought me Phillippa’s Everyday Baking when I moved out in January.

Phillippa's Lemonade Scone

Phillippa Grogan has a pretty reputable bakery in Melbourne that I’ve been hearing about for a few years. I have even seen some of her baked goods, especially around Christmas popping up in a few friends’ cupboards. So I was pretty excited to receive the book and feast my eyes on all the deliciousness within the pages.

I was resolute that I would try multiple recipes, considering many of my other books became lost in their boxes it was pretty easy as it was essentially all I had on hand.

Phillippa's Lemonade Scone_Ready to eatI had never heard of lemonade scones until earlier this year so I was pretty ignorant to the controversy that surrounds them. I didn’t really care because up until last year I had been a pretty good scone baker, rising every time and not being particularly dense it was literally my tea party trick.. but then something went awry, perhaps in 2012 and I started forgetting core ingredients (rising agents) and over mixing. It was a disaster. So, now that there was this supposed “cheats” recipe in front of me being reluctantly spruiked by Phillippa Grogan – who notes she usually avoids processed foods such as soft drink – I just had to try it. And it was soooo easy. The mixing and bubbling happen with little effort and every time these babies have risen. The best part is still that no one has yet discovered my dirty little secret; the worst part is you usually have an excess of lemonade you have to serve that may raise a few suspicions.

IMG_9094After the success and easy of the lemonade scones I tried my hand at the Honey Anzac Biscuits. Again with the bare utensils available in my second kitchen I managed to whip up near flawless cookies batter to belly in less than an hour.

Since I have tried Coconut and Banana Cake that disappeared in minutes and the gorgeous Meyer Lemon Cake perfect for when friends and family travel interstate for a weekend away.

So thanks to my friend and Phillippa I’ve now comfortably settled into my fourth house this year with a delectable butter cake!

Phillippa's Home Baking_Open

Crunchy Ladies

birdseye_crooked lady

For a few years now, my weekend ritual has involved heading to the farmer’s market. I change it up a bit Orange Grove, Eveleigh and now EPIC markets, all filled to the brim with amazing fresh veggies and produce. But if we are going to be honest the main draw card to any market is the bacon and egg rolls – you gotta have em! My favourite is Bird Cow Fish Alex Herbert‘s Crooked Madame.

A “Crooked Madam” is not what first comes to mind when you think of a bacon and egg roll, I know, but the fancier the market, the fancier the roll. BCF serve their “Crooked Madam” on fresh slices of sourdough with gooey gruyere cheese, ham all topped with a perfectly cooked runny egg. You can have your Madam with mustard and BBQ sauce to, although I opt to have mine “nude”.

My Crunchy Ladies were initially heavily inspired by BCF’s and the traditional Croque Madame. A Croque Madame is a variation of the French “Croque Monsieur” they both translate to crunchy Mr and Mrs. While there are numerous variations the core ingredients are bread, ham, cheese, and bechamel. A madam is distinctive because it is topped with an egg – this may be a fertility dig, but who knows? My dish is not as refined so I dubbed it Crunchy Ladies.

Slowly my Ladies have evolved to become a rich and may I say delicious, dinner toastie. While the bare essentials remain the same it’s a good idea to pair these Ladies with something acidic such as a quick pickled cabbage salad.

What you need:

  • 2 slices of bread per person – any type will do, I favour Sour-dough or brown bread with a seed crust for extra crunch
  • Aoili – home made or jarred
  • Ham
  • Cheese for melting – from tasty to swiss or gruyere again pick your poison
  • Anchovies (optional but delicious)
  • Butter for toasting
  • 1 egg per person (or two for giants)

Crooked Lady Gif

Let’s do this:

  1. More an order of assembly than a recipe may I recommend the following:
  2. Butter one side of each slice of bread (as in one buttered, one plain)
  3. Spread Aoli
  4. Place Generous amounts of ham on bread
  5. Equally generous handfuls of cheese is next
  6. Optional anchovies – this depends greatly on the size of your bread and the anchovies but I went for 4 each – even on the baby sandwich
  7. Toast the sandwiches – You can make these sandwiches in a sandwich toaster or on the fry pan – not having a press I often just fry these up in the same pan as the eggs!
  8. Remove the Crooked Ladies from the fry pan and let cool on your serving platter
  9. Fry the egg and plop them on top of the Ladies

Pickled Cabbage

I always serve my Crooked Ladies with a quick pickled cabbage to cut through some of the richness. It’s great on the sandwich but understandably makes it soggy. For this all you need is a lemon, verjuice and some salt.

  1. Finely slice 1/4 cabbage (much finer than my pictured example)
  2. Squeeze the juice of 1 – 2 lemons into a bowl adding 1 tbs of verjuice and a generous pinch of salt
  3. Coat the cabbage in the dressing and leave while you assemble the sandwiches or for 15 minutes mixing occasionally.

And then… you get this Crooked Lady-Open

enjoy responsibly xx