Friday, 30 November 2012

South of Johnston

What: South of Johnston (aka SoJo)
Where: 46 Oxford Street, Collingwood

SoJo is another one of those classic new Melbourne breakfast places – well worth the visit.
Perfect for those unpredictable weather torn weekends ahead.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Halloween Pumpkin Carving


Halloween Pumpkin Carving

Instructions
  1. Buy yourself a carving pumpkin (yes it’s a special type – sold at Woolworth in my area).
  2. Trace an outline of the design you want on the pumpkin using water soluble marker (there is many online stencils and outlines you can copy from – remember simple is best if you are a beginner).
  3. Using a steak knife – cut out the design (remember the flesh under the skin is about 4 cm think).
  4.  Draw a circle large enough for your hand to reach through around the stem – and then cut on an angle (so the lid can sit back inside later).
  5. Remove the stem end, which will act as a cap, and then scoop out all the pulp - making sure you scrape the sides so it is neat.
  6. Use a Stanley knife to neaten up your stencil.
  7. Place a lit candle inside the pumpkin to create an eerie glow.


If you aren’t quite following – I would suggest looking at a YouTube video.
 
HAPPY Halloween
Lush

Sunbury Region Wine Festival

What:Sunbury Region Wine Festival
When: Sat 26th August 2012

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.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Twenty & Six Espresso

What: Twenty & Six Espresso
Where: 594 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne, VIC

Another breakfast place in the north, they just seem to be popping up everywhere. Good coffee and an inventive menu seem to be the hallmarks of North Melbourne, and this place definitely delivers.

Quirky décor, inventive menu, nice wait staff, and conveniently located. Well worth the wait which we experienced on the weekend when we had brunch.

Monday, 8 October 2012

ICI - a Hidden Breakfast Treasure


What: ICI
Where: 359 Napier Street, Fitzroy VIC 3065

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.


Monday, 3 September 2012

Upside-down Blood Orange Cake

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.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Albert St Food & Wine

What: Albert St Food & Wine
Where: Corner of Albert St & 382 Sydney Rd, Brunswick


One of the hippest food and wine stores to pop up recently, run by Executive Chef Philippa Sibley (who appeared recently on Masterchef).

The food, wine, produce and the ambiance all combine to make it my new favourite weekend lunch venue.

Here is what my last indulgence consisted of (with a friend of course):




Start

  • Quince Bellinis
    • Champagne mixed with quince poaching nectar – amazing (although quinces are seasonal)

 

Mains

  • Seared Ocean trout, Balmain bugs, saffron potatoes 
  • Crumbed pork scotch, turnips, watercress, green apple sauce

WINE: 

  • 2010 Valley Vignerons Pinot Noir Yarra Valley, Vic
    • Delightfully full flavoured, complex and long on the palate (perfect with any dish)

 

Dessert

(a must as Philippa Sibley is know for her desserts)

  • Meyer lemon tart
  • Million Dollar Bullet
    • Think chocolate bullet flavours (but using chocolate mousse and liquorice ice cream)


In a word - Perfect!

Be warned though, the menu changes monthly so regular visits are wise.

Lush




Albert Street Food and Wine on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

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!




Ingredients

  • 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
Method

  1. Into a large pot, add the stock, fish sauce, pumpkin and 3 lime leaves (bruised).
  2. If using dried chilli add it to the pot now.
  3. Bring liquid to the boil and simmer for 10 mins for until pumpkin is soft.
  4. Remove from the heat and remove lime leaves.
  5. Using either a blender or bamix/stick blender, purée liquid and pumpkin until smooth.
  6. 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.
  7. On a low heat, warm the soup without boiling (boiling will cause your coconut milk to split)
  8. Finely slice your birds eye chilli and remaining lime leaf (you can roll it up into a long tube to make slicing easier).
  9. 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.
  10. This recipe makes at least 6 servings and freezes very well for those times you need an instant meal.
Glutton

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Silo (by Joost)


Where: 123 Hardware Street, Melbourne 3000
 
Silo is the newest ‘zero-waste’ café in Melbourne by the eco-advocate and artist Joost Bakker.

Food

  • A very small menu (available online) – but the coddled hen eggs (with mushrooms) are amazing.
  • Plus the home-made lemonade is amazing (very fizzy though)

Highlights:

  • A waste free menu that changes with the seasons.
  • Food is from all local and organic suppliers
  • All fresh produce is delivered in returnable, recyclable, reusable crates
  • All organic waste is treated in the café’s own food waste dehydrator
  • The café has a 15 seat communal dining bar

With only one communal table and the kitchen literally behind your back, the room is a bit cramped for me,  but I love the concept overall and the coffee.

Suggest going on a clear day and sitting outside.

Lush

Silo by Joost on Urbanspoon

Friday, 24 August 2012

Mexican @ Touche Hombre


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.

Entree


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).

Lush

Touché Hombre on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Frangipane and Fig Jam Tartlets

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius (I have a fan forced oven) 
  2. Put the 6 pastry cases on a baking tray (lined with foil or wax paper)
  3. To make the frangipane mixture - crack the egg into a mixing bowl and add the almond meal,  butter and caster sugar.
  4. Grate over the zest of ½ an orange and add the vanilla bean paste
  5. Mix together until combined
  6. Spoon  2 teaspoons of jam into each pastry base
  7. Top off with frangipane mixture (you can add a drop of jam on top to caramelize if desired)
  8. Bake for 15 to18 minutes, until top of tartlets are light golden brown.

Notes

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.

Lush

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Di Bella Baby!

What: Di Bella Coffee

Where: 19-21 Leveson Street North Melbourne VIC 3051

Another amazing coffee and breakfast place – and just a quick walk from Vic Markets.The perfect place to have breakfast (or brunch in my case) before you go shopping for those local fresh ingredients.

The menu is full of delicious staples and breakfast classics. Get there early though – as it is a busy hot-spot for the locals – especially on the weekends.

Breakfast:

2 Poached eggs on Sourdough with my choice of sides
  • Roasted Tomatoes
  • Marinated Feta
  • Smoked Bacon
  • Sauteed Mushrooms
And of course – COFFEE, COFFEE & COFFEE

Review:

I say you can always judge a place by how they do their eggs – and these are some of the best in Melbourne.

Lush

Di Bella Coffee Roasting Warehouse on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Ice-cream Cookie Cups

Nothing better than turning on the heater to max, and eating ice-cream and cookies (even if it is winter). And what better way to enjoy both classic desserts than together.

YES – A cookie made into an ice-cream cup.

This recipe is inspired by the Family Fun Recipe and a friend of mine who made them for dinner one night when I was a guest.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter 
  • 2/3 cup sugar 
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Cookie Dough Method

  1. Mix the butter, and sugar in a large bowl (electric mixer is best)
  2. Add egg and vanilla extract, mix until combined.
  3. Sift in the salt, baking powder, and flour while mixing.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Half mix, shape into two flat discs, and wrap it in plastic. (Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours)

Cookie Cup Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.
  2. Using two 12 cup muffin tins – turn them upside down, and use the bottom side to shape cups.
  3. Cover only half the bottoms with squares of aluminium foil (use every other cup so there's some space between them).
  4. Grease the foil with a bit of butter
  5. Unwrap 1 disk of dough, place it between 2 sheets of baking paper, and roll it out to a 1/3 cm thickness.
  6. Cut out 10 cm diameter circles of dough and place each one over a cup bottom, smoothing out any cracks (do not push out or make them thinner).
  7. Repeat with the other disk, rerolling and reusing any scraps.
  8. Bake the cookie cups for 10 to 12 minutes or until light brown.
  9. Let them cool for 10 minutes, and then remove the foil and cookies together from the muffin pan.
  10. Peel off the foil and let the cups cool completely on a rack.

Makes 10 cups.

Then simply fill each cookie cup with a scoop of ice cream and enjoy!

Notes

I know what you are thinking – because I thought it too.
“All this rolling, refrigerating the dough – I could so just wing it instead”


Well – I wouldn’t – I tried to take shortcuts the first time and it was a disaster – I ended up with an upside down mass of cookie dough – not a single cup.

However – if this happens to you, you can salvage it in a way.
  1. While the dough is still hot, gather it all and push into the bottom of a round cake tin.
  2. Then when this cools, you have the perfect base for a free-form ice-cream cake
  3. To make – simply top with ice-cream, sprinkle with chocolate flake and re-freeze (see the picture below of mine)

Lush

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Healthy Nut Bars



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!

Ingredients
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

Method
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

Glutton

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Hot Apple Juice

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!

Ingredients
1 cup apple juice
1 cinnamon quill
1 tsp brown sugar

Method
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.

Glutton

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Sweetness @ Pope Joan

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)

Recent recommendations:

  • Heirloom tomatoes roasted, basil, smoked mozzarella rarebit
  • Spanner crab omelette, coriander, chilli salt
Make sure you do try it – you will not be disappointed.
Be warned it's busy, but well worth the wait.

Lush

Pope Joan on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Late night dessert?

What: Tom Turtle
Where: 169 Bourke St, Melbourne CBD

Ever had an early dinner out in the CDB, and suddenly it's late and you feel like dessert (or a second dessert)? Well how can you go wrong with ice-cream – especially if it has been frozen into cubes.

Our Order

"ABRAZO" = 2 warm nutella crepes and 8 cubes of decadent ice cream and sorbet flavours:
  • 2 x cookies and cream
  • 1 x cocoa bean
  • 1 x lemon lime & bitters
  • 1 x pear & burnt caramel
  • 1 x raspberry sorbet
  • 1x almond mocha fudge
  • 1 x peanut brittle

Best shared if you are only peckish – with a mug of hot chocolate.

Lush

Tom Turtle on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Penny Farthing

What: Penny Farthing Espresso
Where: 206 High Street, Northcote VIC 3070

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


Side:


  • Crispy chat potatoes tossed with chives & served with a mint aioli

Review

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).

Lush

Penny Farthing Espresso on Urbanspoon

Monday, 28 May 2012

Fried Chicken & Coleslaw

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.

Ingredients:


For the Chicken
150g plain flour
4tsp paprika
125ml buttermilk
1kg chicken pieces (your choice of which cut)
Vegetable oil for deep frying

For the Coleslaw
200g sour cream
150g mayonnaise
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)

Method:


  • 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.

Glutton