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Mar 302010
 

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This recipe comes from a new (to me) cookbook, Maggie’s Kitchen, by celebrated Australian cook Maggie Beer. This is a truly beautiful book, every picture had me gasping and bookmarking it to make later.

I made this for dessert at friend’s place – generally if you invite me over for dinner you can count on me to make dessert.  It’s all a clever ploy to feed my raging sweet tooth.  This recipe makes exceptionally rich (and sweet!) brownies, so I recommend serving with a scoop of icecream, just to soften that richness a little.

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Mar 282010
 

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Friday night is usually our night to get takeaway – we have an amazing Thai restaurant just down the road (Thai Chada if you’re interested) and that is our standby.  However, as we are eating out a fair bit in the next couple of weeks, I decided to try my hand at homemade pizza this time.

I made the dough using this recipe.  The dough turned out well, and cooked up nicely – it was thin and crispy.  However, I don’t think it my house was hot enough and it didn’t rise as much as I would have liked.  At first it wasn’t rising at all, so I tried various places around the house with no success, and ended up putting the bowl into a sink of hot water.  This seemed to do the trick – I’ll have to remember it in future.

We made two pizzas.  Both were tomato based, although I think we probably used a bit too much tomato paste.  Into the tomato paste we mixed fresh oregano and finely chopped local garlic.  What a revelation that garlic has been – it has 10 times the flavour of bleached garlic from China, and yet has a subtle sweetness that I really enjoy.

One pizza we topped with butternut pumpkin, green capsicum, sundried tomatoes and feta cheese.   The other had fried bacon, salt-dried olives (richer and more intense in flavour than regular olives), fresh tomato, potato and parmesan.

Both pizzas cooked in about 15 minutes in our ancient oven, although it was be less in a fan-forced oven.  We served the bacon, potato pizza with a drizzle of balsamic, and enjoyed numerous pieces with a delicious Reisling (Annie’s Lane, from the Clare Valley in South Australia).

I really encourage you to have a go at making your own dough.  It’s a bit labour intensive due to the kneading, but think of it this way – you’re burning off the calories you’ll consume when you eat your pizza!

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Mar 112010
 

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This is not really a recipe per se, just a several simple ingredients that made a tasty and healthy Thursday night dinner.

I’m notorious for burning salmon fillets – but I think I’ve finally figured it out!  The trick is lots of butter (I used about a tablespoon for 2 pieces), heated gently until it starts to clarify but doesn’t burn.  You then thrown in the salmon, seasoned with salt and pepper, and cook on the gentle heat for about 5 minutes one side, and 3 minutes the other (if you like it well done – if you like it rare you should cook it for less time).  I added some red onion to the pan at the last minute, but probably could have cooked that for slightly longer (neither J nor I really like raw onion).

I served the salmon on a bed of cous cous, and tossed steamed broccoli with the onion and butter and served on the side.  The sauce in the picture is a lime, tarragon and walnut dip that I got on our recent trip to New Zealand, but I actually think it was a bit too much for this dish.  It might be simpler to serve with a wedge of lemon or lime.

Mar 112010
 

We’re celebrating an engagement around these parts, so I whipped up this German Love Cake.  The recipe is very simple, and very rich.

I first tried this cake at a friend’s wedding a few years ago and was hooked.  I requested the recipe and have finally gotten around to making it!

This is a lovely cake to share with family and friends when celebrating something special – as the name would suggest.  I recommend serving with a little bit of ice cream or freshly whipped cream to cut through the richness of the cake.  However, it is also very enjoyable on its own.

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Feb 242010
 

J and I are on holidays for 10 days in  the lovely New Zealand.  This is my third trip to NZ and J’s sixth!  We’re off to Blenheim in the Marlborough region tomorrow but tonight we stayed in Christchurch.

I did a bit of research before we left Brisbane and found a new restaurant close to our hotel that had been favourably reviewed.  The prices were mid-high end, but the AUD is fantastic at the moment, so they are really very reasonable.

We’ve just come back from a 3 course meal at Edesia and I cannot recommend  it highly enough.  As  this is a food blog, I thought I’d give you a quick run-down of our meals.

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Firstly, we were favoured with an amuse bouche of a pumpkin ravioli with toasted almonds, capers, baby basil leaves and goats cheese.  This was a delight – each element complemented the others, and the goats cheese in particular helped cut through the sweetness of the ravioli.  A delightful, and unexpected start to the evening.

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My entree was tortellini filled with slow-braised ox tail and served with broccoli, some kind of purple flower leaves, parmesan and more capers.  I could not stop raving about this dish. The pasta was clearly fresh and beautifully made, the ox-tail just melted as you cut into the tortellini.  The capers cut through the richness, and importantly weren’t too salty.  Broccoli is one of my favourite vegetables, so I was always going to love that part!

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J enjoyed the prawns, with a sweet corn puree sauce, sweet corn and avocado salsa and finely grated parmesan.  I stole a bite and it was also incredible.

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For main I enjoyed the mushroom risotto, which was from the “light mains” menu.  Perhaps this was the boring option (although it was also amazing!) as I am always drawn to mushroom risotto!  J was more adventurous and enjoyed some NZ lamb, cooked two ways and served with pumpkin and minty peas.

I often find that dessert is where restaurant’s let me down.  It is sometimes like dessert is an afterthought – something chefs are required to provide but don’t really enjoy making.  Fortunately at Edesia, the dessert lived up to the rest of our meal.

I had a beautifully cooked chocolate fondant.  It was served with a cocoa flavoured sugary confection – sort of like fairy floss, as well as peanut brittle pieces, a peanut paste spread across the plate and a milk sorbet.  I savoured every rich bite, and left feeling content but not stuffed.

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J had a boysenberry “tartare”, so-called because it is piped through a sieve, and frozen with liquid nitrogen.  It was served on a sponge, with a spoonful of sherbert and topped with an egg y olk.  No, not really, it was actually mango nectar in a casing designed to look (and act) like a runny egg yolk.  It was very unusual and cleverly presented.  It was a reasonably small portion (especially compared to mine!) but perfect after J’s larger meal.

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In case you can’t tell, this was a wonderful dining experience.  If you’re ever in Christchurch, make the effort and head here. It’s a bit off the beaten track, tucked away in a business estate, but take the time and find it!

Edesia
12 Show Place
Addington
Christchurch
03 943 2144

Feb 152010
 

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I will just provide you with the link to this recipe – I found it on the NY Times website.

We bought several kilos of prawns (green, unshelled) over Christmas and we have slowly been working our way through them.  My appreciation for prawns developed quite late in life, particularly surprising given I’m a Queenslander and loving seafood is like breathing for most of us!  However, I have come to enjoy those succulent little morsels, but like most shellfish, they result in an overabundance of leftover shells.  The great thing about this recipe is that it actually uses the shells to make a prawn stock, which provides a fundamental base layer of flavour to the dish.

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This dish is very “prawn-y” so I don’t recommend it if you are not a fan.  However, if you like prawns I feel sure you’ll love this dish.  It is not overly complicated, although it does require a fair bit of stove time.  The leek adds a subtle sweetness and the rice texture and depth.  You will feel like you are eating a far more indulgent dish then you actually are.  We wiped our plates clean with thick slices of white tiger bread and sat back, replete.

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