Sunbury Wine Region - located just on the outskirts of Melbourne Airport (a mere 30 minutes from the CBD), the unsung local wineries of Melbourne.This cool-climate wine region, operating since the 1860’s, did not disappoint. From Shiraz, Chardonnay, to an impressive variety of Italian grapes, it was definitely worth the short drive.
Hidden on a sunny corner off the busy streets of Fitzroy, this quaint little bluestone café transports you to that quite place you have been seeking after a busy week at work. From the velvet curtains and wood paneling, to the blackboard menu and tiny tables, this semi-well kept secret is well worth the trip.
The tantalizing pastry display case, catering options for those with
special diets, and the use of local and organic ingredients when
available, further enhances an appropriate sized menu.
I am not a huge fan of oranges; all that pith in a glass of juice or if eating it whole I invariably buy that one sour orange on offer. However, blood oranges are a completely different story. I find they are usually quite tart which makes them perfect for cooking as you can add a bit of sugar for balance.
Having some friends over for a weeknight dinner, and as always, my best laid plans of preparing everything the day before had not been realised so I was scouring my cookbooks for a stunning, yet straightforward recipe. I came across Donna Hay's sticky orange and vanilla upside-down cake in her Seasons book. Having made a variant of the cake before, I knew it would work, but without Donna's fantastic team of food stylists there was no chance of my vanilla bean looking that artful. Instead I decided to distract my guests with the novelty of a deep rosy, blood orange topping.
Although it is the end of winter here in Melbourne, having just returned from a trip to Kuala Lumpur I am struggling to view 18 degrees as warm and so have been feasting on all types of winter warmers.
The hardest thing I found whilst being away was that as it was a work trip I had to stay in a hotel. Oh yes, I know what a struggle! In my defence, it meant that I couldn't cook which was a struggle. I am so used to being able to control what goes into my meals (and how big they are!) that I found it quite difficult. With another trip (but this time a holiday) coming up soon, I am glad I have booked in an apartment for a few days so that I can at least make myself the occasional light meal.
Now that I am well and truly back at home, I realised I have missed out on weeks of new restaurant openings and of course catch ups with friends so am still eating out quite a bit, but alternating with the occasional light winter warmer at home. This recipe is the classic example of a quick meal that is filling, nourishing and warming; perfect for a night on the couch catching up on The Farmer Wants a Wife!
1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock (cubes will do in a hurry)
1 tbs fish sauce
4 kaffir lime leaves (the extras freeze very well in a ziplock)
1.5kg pumpkin, cubed (I prefer butternut for its easy chopping qualities)
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 bunch coriander
1 birds eye chilli (you can substitute a dried chilli or even chilli flakes)
1/2 lime, juiced
Into a large pot, add the stock, fish sauce, pumpkin and 3 lime leaves (bruised).
If using dried chilli add it to the pot now.
Bring liquid to the boil and simmer for 10 mins for until pumpkin is soft.
Remove from the heat and remove lime leaves.
Using either a blender or bamix/stick blender, purée liquid and pumpkin until smooth.
Add coconut milk. Although I have said 1 cup above, it really depends on how creamy you want your soup so make sure to taste as you add and mix.
On a low heat, warm the soup without boiling (boiling will cause your coconut milk to split)
Finely slice your birds eye chilli and remaining lime leaf (you can roll it up into a long tube to make slicing easier).
Once your soup is hot, pour into bowls and top with some chilli and kaffir lime slices, coriander leaves and a drizzle of coconut milk and lime juice.
This recipe makes at least 6 servings and freezes very well for those times you need an instant meal.
Where: Corner Lonsdale St & Tattersalls Lane (Melbourne CBD)
This is one of the newest mexican places in town and I hope it’s here for good – because it is awesome. The food and the ambience are fantastic, even the authentic cups and plates add that something extra to the experience.
The menu is easy to understand and a manageable size AND the tequila menu is actually longer. I went for dinner the other weekday with a friend, and these are the tasty treats we tried.
Fatty Lamb ribs
- absolutely melt in your mouth, and with just enough sticky sweet honey
TFC (aka Fried chicken)
- the rich and creamy habanero sauce was the perfect match (finger lickin’ good)
Tacos (we tried 3 types)
De Carnitas (aka Pork)
- my favourite of the night
El Secreto (the daily secret surprise taco)
- this was great fun, we ate chicken hearts the night we went (it really is good although that they don’t tell you what the secret ingredient is till afterward)
De Jaiba (aka soft shell crab)
- the Crab batter was a bit too oily for me after our entree's, but it did work really well with all the other taco's flavours (perhaps get it to share)
And several Tommy margarita (delicious)!
Make sure you do give it a whirl (with several margaritas alongside of course), however I would recommend ordering a salad too as the meal sat a bit heavily in my stomach without one (or this could have just been a product of my over indulgence).
As the end of winter approaches and spring is beginning – so does the time for baking (at least in my house).
Following on from the delicious Fig Jam I made in March (see the Fig-tastic post), I decided to do a bit of early spring cleaning of my pantry; aka finding an excuse to bake delicious things (not that one ever really needs an excuse).
Using a Jamie Oliver recipe that a dear friend has adapted (thank you so much darling!) I made Frangipane and Fig Jam Tartlets. You could easily substitue any other high quality homemade jam/jelly.
6 small shortcrust pastry cases (pre-bought is fine)
1 large egg
100g almond meal
100g softened butter
90g caster sugar
½ orange, zested
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (can substitute with essence)
170g good-quality fig jam
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius (I have a fan forced oven)
Put the 6 pastry cases on a baking tray (lined with foil or wax paper)
To make the frangipane mixture - crack the egg into a mixing bowl and add the almond meal, butter and caster sugar.
Grate over the zest of ½ an orange and add the vanilla bean paste
Mix together until combined
Spoon 2 teaspoons of jam into each pastry base
Top off with frangipane mixture (you can add a drop of jam on top to caramelize if desired)
Bake for 15 to18 minutes, until top of tartlets are light golden brown.
Ensure your oven is hot enough and has a consistent temperature (essential for baking) so that your tarts cook properly and within the suggested time frame (an in-oven thermometer is a great help for this).
If the tartlets don’t turn a light golden brown within 18min, you can continue to cook until 25min.
Don't be concerned if while cooling the center of the tartlets sinks - this is normal.
They will keep for up to five days in a closed container.
Serve warm or chilled - delicious anytime, anywhere.
After a couple of Birthday dinner celebrations and a long weekend of eating (and drinking) I have decided that I need to try to eat a bit healthier for a while. My biggest challenge is snacking on chocolate and chips, so I went on the hunt for a homemade muesli bar recipe (minus the sugar). I found a fantastic blog by a couple in Sweden who write about their healthy vegetarian diet. Although I am not vegetarian (as you would have guessed from the Lamb Blog), I don’t eat meat regularly and am glad to have found a site with plenty of salads and soups!
On Green Kitchen Stories these are called Sticky Nut Bars, but as mine didn’t turn out sticky I am just going to call them Healthy Nut Bars. I have changed the recipe from the original, based on what I had in the pantry. Let me know what flavours you try!
10 fresh dates (try substituting 15 dried dates soaked in water for an hour)
2 tbsp water
2/3 cup organic peanut butter
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup cashew nuts
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 tsp salt
1. Line a lamington pan with baking paper
2. In a saucepan, combine dates, water and peanut butter over a low heat
3. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. The mixture should be quite tacky. Add more nuts if the mixture is too moist or some more water if it is too dry
4. Pour the mixture in the pan, pressing down to an even height
5. Refrigerate for half an hour, before cutting into squares before serving.
6. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge
It's winter and it's cold; the season for mulled wine, hot cider and whisky by a warm fire. But what about those times when a non-alcoholic choice is required?
On a recent weekend away to Hobart, Lush and I discovered that a mug of hot apple juice is a great morning tea drink for wandering Salamanca Market. We had ours with a touch of cinnamon, but you could add ginger for a healthy boost.
My version is below, I added some sugar as my juice was a bit sour. This is really a recipe of personal taste, so feel free to tweak away!
1 cup apple juice
1 cinnamon quill
1 tsp brown sugar
1. Put all ingredients in a saucepan and cover with a lid
2. Over a low heat, bring the mixture slowly to a boil
3. Pour into a mug and enjoy
The longer you let it infuse the stronger the spice flavour will come through.
What: Pope Joan Where: 77/79 Nicholson Street, Brunswick East VIC 3057
All the blogs and food magazines are full of praise for the wonderful breakfast/brunch place Pope Joan and for good reason; it is amazing!
I could spend all day blogging and talking about the cornucopia of food at Pope Joan, but what really took my fancy last month when I was only a little bit hungry in the morning was their homemade Jam Doughnut, with Berry Jam and Cream – YUMMY!
The menu is constantly changing and keeping me guessing (but you can preview their latest menu on the website if you wish to be less surprised in the early hours of the day). I have personally been there several times and amongst my all time favorites are:
Coffee, coffee and more coffee (of course)
Boiled eggs, soldiers, bacon bits, herb salt
Poached eggs w/ whatever they are serving them with this month (never been disappointed)
The Cuban Sandwich: pulled pork, pickles n cheese (unbelievable)
This adorable little bar/restaurant fits the bill for a chilled night out, close to public transport, great atmosphere and good food.
Named after the Penny-farthing high wheel bicycle – originally named such due to the large front wheel (Penny) and a much smaller rear wheel (farthing)– the restaurant has used a clever play on the words (and its origins in British currency) for their name and menu options.
With a Farthing (the smaller wheel) representing their smaller dishes or entrées, and a Penny (the larger wheel) representing their larger dishes or mains.
Entrée (aka Farthing)
White bean & fennel croquettes served with chilli & lime dip
Polenta, fig & chevre stacks with black sesame ash & toasted pinenuts
Rice flour crepes topped with duck, prosciutto & radicchio, finished with pomegranate kernels
Main (aka penny)
Baked field mushrooms stuffed with ricotta, lemon thyme, olives & sundried tomatoes
Confit duck legs on orange & sweet potato puree with beetroots, candied walnuts & coriander
Crispy chat potatoes tossed with chives & served with a mint aioli
The best dish of the night was definitely the confit duck leg – WOW!
I have to say I least preferred the mushrooms and polenta – as I thought they were a bit too sweet (rather than savoury) and thus unbalanced to my palate.
I recommend ordering several farthings and penny’s and sharing with friends (plus a bottle of wine of course).
I have so many horrid memories of coleslaw; mainly due to my childhood dislike of mayonnaise (oh, how times have changed!). From the overly dressed, flaccid lump of cabbage and carrot in Singapore's faux-American restaurants (looking at you Denny's) to making bucket loads with my mum for a BBQ we were having. In her defense, there were over a hundred people expected, but I hope to never again serve anything from a yellow, plastic bucket.
In spite of the scars from my younger years, I have been caught up by the current Melbourne obsession with Mexican and American food. And although Lush did actually grow up living (and eating) the American
dream I have decided to be the first to bring Team-USA to our blog.
This is a great weeknight meal when you're having friends over. Messy food and eating with your hands is always great way to ensure the night stays casual and relaxed. The chicken wasn't as KFC tasting as I
would have liked so I have upped the spices in the recipe below. If you would like some further inspiration, I am a big fan of Homesick Texan.
For the Chicken
150g plain flour
1kg chicken pieces (your choice of which cut)
Vegetable oil for deep frying
For the Coleslaw
200g sour cream
2tsp apple cider
2tsp white sugar
1tsp dijon mustard
1/4 white cabbage, shredded
1/4 red cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, grated
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
1 apple, grated (if you like a bit of sweetness)
Whisk together sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar & mustard (I use a jar to shake & combine)
Toss all coleslaw ingredients together and season.
Combine flour & spices on a plate and pour buttermilk into a bowl. Coat flour in buttermilk followed by flour and shake off excess.
Heat oil for deep frying (170 or when bread dropped in turns golden after 15 seconds).
Working in batches, drop chicken into oil (don't let it splash!) and fry on each side for 10mins or until golden. Drain before serving.