Proscuitto wrapped baked fetta

IMG_0960

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

IMG_0955

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.

image

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”

IMG_0477

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.

IMG_0475

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…

IMG_0485

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

IMG_8250

Roll’d Over

IMG_0162.JPG
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.

IMG_0161.JPG

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.

 

IMG_0112.JPG
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

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.