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

Shopping and Eating at Kitchen by Mike

Kitchen by Mike Insta

So I say shopping and eating at Kitchen by Mike because you cannn do both, but you’d be in a far different financial position from myself. Although one time I bought an egg cup, so there….

Anyway the real draw in going to Kitchen by Mike is le cuisine. From breakfast to lunch this man does not put a foot wrong. Everything you will taste is fresh, appropriately juicy and perfectly cooked.

I have snuck out to KbM (as the cool kids call it) for a study lunch and it was uniquely thrilling to hop in the canteen line and choose my fair. With alternating salads and meat available ranging from healthy to glutinous there is something for any mood. On this particular occasion I splashed out on pork belly – crisped to perfection- and juicy, with a great pile of cauliflower bake and fresh cucumber salad that was delicious and excruciating at the same time – like salt and vinegar chips.

Kitchen by Mike Pork Lunch Above

Having seen the lunch spread when it was suggested we go for breakfast I had images of trays of pastries and deliciously buttery things, but my savoury preferences were pleasantly surprised when there was a cooked to order menu as well! I ordered the big breakfast and was told that the eggs were coddled. Having no idea what that meant at the time I just nodded along and said it was fine. It was more than fine, I don’t know what coddled eggs are but I LOOOOOVE THEMEMMEMEME. They are delicious and oozy and barely cooked – which it turns out is pretty much what it means, which is why on the menu they are described as “poached” eggs.

Now that Sydney is the land of baked breakfasts (often accompanied with some overdone eggs) it was such a nice relief to have soft eggs, salty bacon and squishy roasted tomatoes, which is how I imagine the eggs are generally meant to be. I loved them so much I went back and ordered the same thing… twice. In fact I’m very much looking forward to going back again, or on a non-pay week just replicating the recipe at home. Just look below at their gooey awesome runny yolk.

Kitchen by Mike_BBI am aware of a  tendency for a few cynics to pop out when a place like Kitchen by Mike becomes popular, but my thoughts are you can go in and think of yourself sitting in a cold cavernous warehouse eating expensive canteen food or you can grab some family and friends huddle around the heaters or sit in the sunshine out the back and order good quality, perfectly cooked local food that just so happens to be served in a way that throws back to canteens. Personally I find comfort in the nostalgia.

Mike has just released a fabulous cookbook that I had the pleasure of viewing from afar and it is now the number 1 thing on my wishlist! xx

Kitchen by Mike BB_length

Weeks Round Up

Because I have the attention span of a sparrow this week, I am unable to whet your appetite with excellent recipes or descriptions of meals. So feast your eyes instead on some photos I took during my first week of work. Enjoy xx

IMG_0090Here I am excited and anxious walking to the bus on my first day… This photo is small because it is of my face #selfie.

 

 IMG_0101

Flowers from home for home.

 IMG_0104

My super amazing stylin’ desk crockery to brighten my day and my lunch IMG_0119

Perfect end to a tiring week.

Life Update and Excuse Making

https://fencingwithink.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/surprise.jpg

 

I know you may think that for the last two weeks (during which I disappeared for those of you out of the loop) I was just being super lazy and self indulgent but that is not (entirely) true!

I moved.

To be specific I moved to Canberra.Canberra_1

I got a real job, became a proper lawyer, and moved all in one week – I think I found a grey just talking about it.

But don’t think that is going to stop me! I will keep adventuring, in Canberra, Sydney and BEYOOOOND!

Canberra_2

Three Blue Ducks

Threeblueduckssalad

Did I tell you about the time when my dear boyfriend forgot I was visiting him in Canberra and I had to dry myself with a hand-towel after my shower? No, oh, that’s because it was this morning. So as I shivered dry on a frosty -2 degree Canberra morning my mind wandered back to when I was treated to a very Sydney lunch in a much warmer climate at Three Blue Ducks with my mum.

Three Blue Ducks is always in the press and the guys behind it seem to have wonderful adventures and pop ups in the snowy mountains. For now, in a mild winter, visiting their Bronte base is pretty spectacular.

The restaurant is pretty laid back and it seems, other than Mum and I, most people are regulars and have sweet repartee with the staff. Having missed breakfast by a whisker, we decided to wait with a drink and order a very non-breakfast lunch. I ordered the Crisp Skin Mulloway with cauliflower and hazelnuts and mi Madre ordered the beetroot and fennel salad. The menu is fairly seasonal and may have been updated since our visit but based on the freshness of the ingredients I would guess it is hard to order wrong here.

My Mulloway was delightful, I loved the multiple textures of a smooth pure and crunchy nuts with a very lovely bit of fish. And despite my reservation to salads being an entire meal Mum’s salad also complimented my fish well with some more crunch! yum!

Threeblueducks

With the heat of the sun on our backs and fresh coconuts before lunch Three Blue Ducks is a pretty special place to have lunch. At the moment, I would save it for special occasions as it is a bit more expensive then my average lunch joints but the food is also more special than your average lunch joint. Mains start around $20 for lunch or alternatively you can grab a coffee and a homemade pastry.

I’m sure on a weekend the place would be brimming so I would suggest a mid-week lunch to perk up your sick day… or you can just wait in line – it’s worth it.

Three Blue Ducks on Urbanspoon

$10 Thai Pumpkin Soup

20140805-153217-55937839.jpg

So I know it’s warming slightly and soups are becoming increasingly neglected but with a bunch of fresh coriander and the spices in this one I am declaring it an evergreen soup/summer friendly!

The recipe is very simple and I’m sure can be altered slightly.

1 Butternut pumpkin approximately a kilo skinned and cubed
1/2 a can of coconut cream
3 heaped tablespoons of Thai red curry paste
Fresh coriander to serve and some crusty bread.

20140805-153218-55938182.jpg

The recipe is adapted from this one from Food Ideas Magazine. I would say it serves 3 people around $3.60 a head plus bread or 4 as an entre size.

  1. Place the pumpkin and the curry paste in a heated pan
  2. Coat the pumpkin generously and cook until the paste becomes slightly sticky – catching the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add the coconut cream and stir through for a minute
  4. Add two cups of water and bring the mixture to the boil before placing a lid on the pot and simmering for 20 minutes
  5. Now is a good time to get your bread in the over for some extra crunch
  6. After 20 minutes blend the mixture until smooth
  7. Season with salt and pepper and rip off some lush coriander leaves for the top
  8. Serve with warm bread and butter!

 

Monster Appetite

Monster Kitchen and Bar_Eggplant

It isn’t often I get to go the swankiest joint in town but I had the great pleasure of lunching at Monster Kitchen and Bar in Canberra this week. It was pretty spectacular. I mean the building alone is spectacular.

I’ve been admiring the Nishi Building from the outside for the last four months, then my obsession took a step up and I began telling people that I was were there next year – because if you can – WHY NOT? Anyway, this lunch was actually the first time I stepped inside the Nishi Building and it was quite overwhelming. I entered from the Hotel Hotel lobby and you are immediately thrust into the restaurant. It was a little confusing as I was trying to look for “the first floor where the food was” as described by my friend but was already on that floor.

They have an extensive menu with breakfast to 12 and lunch/dinner which includes a lunch specific menu and a tasting plate menu. We opted for the tasting plates this time but I am hoping to visit again soon for a try of some of those delicious sandwiches I saw running out of the kitchen.

The staff are super friendly and the menu is SO big, so we asked for some highlights and they were happy to oblige. In the end we chose a selection of two veggies – the eggplant, smoked goat’s curd, katsuoboushi and sesame AND the broccoli, Ortiz anchovies, chilli, lemon and pine nuts – and a meat dish -  the pulled lamb shoulder, pistachio, yoghurt, vine leaf, pomegranate and brik. Monster Kitchen and Bar_Lamb ShoulderMonster Kitchen and Bar_Broccoli

The eggplant, pictured up top, was quite theatrical with the katsuobushi gently curling in the air as it was brought to the table. The flavours were quite Japanese and the goats curd cut through the sweetness of the dish. I honestly could have had the entire plate of eggplant to myself, but that would be greedy, so I shared – this time…

The pulled lamb was again visually spectacular with bright green pistachios and shiny pink pomegranate showing off in the light. The dish had strong middle eastern flavours (der, Lauren) and the brik turned out to be a slightly sweet pastry much like the one in Lebanese sweets. It was really delicious.

The broccoli was somewhat out-shined by my love for the other two dishes and THEN I had dessert.

Monster Kitchen and Bar_dessertsThere is a selection of dessert displayed beautifully for you to come and admire/devour, as well as some that are staples on the menu. Angelique, the pastry chef, provides a French twist to the already eclectic cuisine and we were told some desserts are simply called “The Angelique” and require no further explanation. The Angelique du jour was a chocolaty crunchy affair but we were much more drawn to the bright colours of the berries. While the nougat looked meltingly gorgeous we chose the crème brûlée and a type of giant meringue/pavlova mutant, which in fact was extremely delicate and tasted a lot better than my description.

Monster Kitchen and Bar_NougatMonster Kitchen and Bar_PavMonster Kitchen and Bar_Creme Brule

On the business end – the meal was more expensive than your average lunch but for the quality and venue preeeettty preeeettty good. The lunch menu had sandwiches in the $12- $15 mark, which I thought was quite the bonus.

When I live upstairs in the Nishi apartments and am made of money I will dine here everyday – until then I would definitely take all my friends and family.

Monster Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

City Edge Cafe aka Sandwich Heaven

City Edge Cafe Exterior

You know when you feel like a really good sandwich, a REALLY good sandwich. You should come here. I mean obviously proximity may be a an issue some times but when it’s not, you should come here. There is a literal chalkboard of choice and you can chose the type of bread you want which trebles the chalkboard so you could be standing there for a while.

Anyway I digress, City Edge has a good rep to uphold and it delivers day after day. With a near constant line leading out the door the service is quick, super friendly. Plus they sell flowers and flowers warm my soul. For a couple of months I was working nearby and got to visit weekly, now I miss this little sandwich shop.

City Edge Cafe - Schnitzel Bánh mìMy favourite sandwich is a revolving special – City Edge’s take on Bánh mì. It’s a little different from your traditional Bánh mì that is currently taking Sydney by storm. A deliciously crisp and what honestly tastes like a freshly fried schnitzel, some tangy Asian slaw, spiced mayo and then some of the traditional. The baguette is a whopper, very large for little Lauren but I force it down none the less.City Edge Cafe - T4

The first visit I grabbed a T9  – grilled haloumi, avocado, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, rocket and lemon juice with some extra chicken. I ordered purely based to someone’s urbanspoon recommendation and I fell in love. On my fourth visit (I repeat ordered a couple of times) I grabbed half a of a T4 (pictured) -  duck, boiled egg, mushroom, cucumber, mint, coriander, rocket, chilli paste and hoisin sauce. It’s like a never-ending peaking duck pancake of deliciousness. Don’t tell anyone but I’ve started to drool remembering the sandwich.

I wish I was a local here because the service is always so friendly they make you feel like friends. When you wait in line you’ll notice the green smoothie craze is alive and good here and I often indulge in a freshly squeezed watermelon and mint.

One day, when I’m no longer an intern I will eat my T4, gulp down my watermelon juice and grab a bunch of flowers to go…
City Edge Cafe Surry Hills on Urbanspoon

East Coast Rundown

CBD Dumpling HouseI can hear what you are asking, Lauren, where have you been!? I know right, seriously slacking over the last two weeks.

Part of the reason at least is that I have not been at home! Well. I have been at home but just on boring days like Monday – Friday. When not at home I’ve been visiting loved ones across the country and you know, eating, of course. So may I recommend:

CBD Dumpling House, Canberra:

I had a little giggle at this restaurant when we first drove by. The Sydney snob in me didn’t think there was a CBD in Canberra, but geographical knowledge aside I first spied this place when Harry and I got stuck in the carpark next door and it’s been on my to try list!

Salt and Pepper Squid_CBD Dumpling House

FINALLY, three months later, I have had the pleasure of being squeezed in without a booking for a quickie, oooohhh yeah. It was really lovely to get something of a quality in Canberra that I would compare to some of my favourite dumpling houses at home, having had some disappointing experiences with Chinese food nearby. Having the above restrictions, we stuck to staples, dumplings and salt and pepper squid. The squid was super salty but also kind of super moorish – went well with wine. The dumplings were plump with a delicate shell. I did struggle with my vinegar/soy ratio but that was more a personal battle than anything CBD Dumpling House did. The service was friendly too with lots of smiles and a couple of excellent jokes thrown in. Of course not having the chinatown competition CBD is a bit more exy than what you’d find in other capital cities but, if you too stick with the staples, it’s  still quite affordable.
CBD Dumpling House on Urbanspoon

Pocket, Burleigh Heads:Pocket_Burleigh Heads

I went to Burleigh for a 90th birthday. It was a lovely weekend and a wonderfully relaxing way to finish my degree.

Although the weekend was primarily about family we did manage to sneak out and walk down the block a couple of times. It was hear that we discovered Pocket. A take-away joint that specialises in “pita pockets.”

I have trepidations about mainstream middle-eastern food. Not because I think they will be bad, mainly because I eat so much at home and you know grandma makes best. But the falafel was JUST LIKE SITA’S! I was so excited. It was perfect in a little pocket of bread with tabouleh, tahini and some harissa style chilli sauce. So simple and so fabulous. You can grab a half pocket for $9, which is all I needed. We went back twice!
The Pocket Burleigh on Urbanspoon

NB: photos of pita pockets are not very attractive, please feast your eyes instead on their lovely shop interior.

Anyway I’m back now, for a couple of weeks anyway, so hopefully you’ll be hearing more from me – ready or not!
xx