Sunday, June 27, 2010

Jylland Winery

5 minutes from my house, on the road out of my town on the way to Perth, is Jylland Vineyard. Its set on a hill with a view over the surrounding farms and green fields. To me it looks like the Margaret River of the north! They're open all weekend and have a blackboard menu, I guess they only put on the menu whats fresh, seasonal and available. Perfect. Today they had carrot soup, french onion soup (both $10), coriander chicken pie ($17) and something else that has slipped my mind! They also had 4 delicious sounding desserts, all for $6 and coffee was $3.50. Certainly not Margaret River prices! They also have 2 platter options, one is $15 pp and the other $25, which you have to book ahead for. If they use all local produce, which Id say they do, it must be fantastic.

I tried a couple of wines, including their JRB (Juicy Red Blend) and the shiraz, both of which I bought a bottle of. The JRB is really light and fruity, perfect for when you dont want anything too heavy - I think its also perfect for making sangria! Without the headache of a cheap n nasty red! and it was only about $15 I think, cheap but not nasty!

They let me in on their little secret - well hardly - the Chittering Valley is having a food and wine expo on september 12th, excellent, where do I sign!? Ill be there. All the 7 wineries are putting something on, Adele, the woman who I was speaking to, was saying they were deciding the menu tonight. She said last year they had 4000 people there, and they were totally not ready for it but this year they were going to be prepared! Im really looking forward to see what they put on...

After my little tour around the region today, Im pretty stoked with what I have on my doorstep. Fab wineries with great food, and cheap!

If only I could get the city gang to come out here more often!?

Bindoon Bakery and New Norcia

I was meant to have a friend come over this weekend, but she bailed (2 big nights in a row - but didn't plan on telling me she wasnt coming till I asked her.. nice hey) and so I was left wondering what to make of my weekend at home in the country. I've boycotted going into the city for a few weekends, because I'm tired of travelling the 2 hours there and back for friends who are never prepared to come out here. So today, on a sunny, blue skied sunday, I decided to go and sample the goods from Bindoon Bakery, and see what New Norcia had to offer.

Bindoon is about 20mins away, on the Great Northern Highway. Its home to many a mandarin and orange grove, and more famously, the Bindoon Bakery. I heard it was award winning but I didnt know what for - bread, pastry, pies - no idea. So I went for coffee, cake and a pie. Yes I made a pig of myself! But I didnt eat the entire piece of cake, thats sitting on the kitchen table waiting for me to finish it off! I've recently read that it has won awards for its vanilla slice, which I didnt order. Bugger. Next time! Anyway, I ordered a beef and guiness pie, and a cake that I wasn't too sure what it was. The pie was alright, the pastry was great, as I would expect from any bakery pie, but as usual, the filling was more sauce than meat, and didnt blow me away with flavour. I'm finding that most places I go that are known for good pies, Im disappointed with, because the sauce is a bit too gelatinous, and isnt meaty enough. Yes they're better than a Mrs Macs, but at the same time, still not mind blowing! Considering it cost $5.50 I was expecting more meat. It was nice though, Id go back again, but probably wouldn't go for a pie!

Now the cake, Im not sure what it was, I forgot to ask. I figured Id go for something that really gives the baker a chance to show off their baking skills, rather than how well they make custard or glaze fruit. A cake is ALL baker. So it tastes like a pretty standard butter cake with walnuts, with butter cream icing. I was expecting more to be honest! The texture of the cake was pretty nice, it was dense and moist and resembled my nannas coconut cake, without the coconut! But it had a disappointing amount of walnuts in it, and needed some more flavour - something extra! a squeeze of lemon, some cinnamon, something! Actually lemon would have been nice to cut through the fattiness of the butter cream icing, which after 2 or 3 bites makes you feel a bit like your arteries are clogging up! Didnt say it wasn't tasty, just obviously unhealthy! However the consistancy of the cake kinda saved it, as well as its size, it was huge! Some for now, some for later! Next time I go Ill have a crack at the vanilla slice...

Bindoon Bakehaus & cafe on Urbanspoon

Anyway, off to New Norica! Its a really old town which started in the 1800s because some spanish benedictine monks started a mission for the Aboriginal people living in the area. The architechture in the town is pretty special, and as the town is on the highway you just drive straight into it, its really unexpected if you dont know whats there! One of the first things you notice is the hotel, its really big for a tiny town surrounded by farmland! I went in to have a quick look, I didnt realise there was a cafe there, which I was excited and bummed out by at the same time, because I'd already eaten at the bakery, and there were a few things that I definately wanted to try! For some reason the ploughmans lunch appealed to me, which was cold meat, cheese, salad and bread. It sounds boring, but I'm imagining it with fresh local bread and butter, pickles etc. Next time...
I headed into the museum and shop, and somehow got talked into paying $10 to visit the museum... It wasnt THAT interesting, Ive been to better, and worse! There were some cool things though, all the old tools they used in their bakery, and all this old homeopathic stuff, little vials of god knows what... cos kinda cool. But then I headed into the shop, which is where I found the food! Food is always what gets my attention... They sold the New Norcia Bakery bread, nut cake, biscotti and chocolatti... and it was all pretty expensive. They had 3 kinds of bread and the only one they had left was the multigrain fruit loaf, which definately grabbed my attention when I read the ingredients! Sultanas, bakers flour, wholemeal flour, currants, dried apricots, unsalted butter, yeast, wheat flakes, crushed wheat, kibbled soy, linseed, rolled oats, sunflower seeds, walnuts, sesame seeds, rye flour, salt, water, vitamins (thiamin and folate). WOW. This stuff is GOOD for you! and at $9.90 a loaf it'd wanna just about cure cancer! This is not a bread I'll be making a habit of buying. Its definately nice. But not near on $10 a loaf nice. 680g for $9.90. and its a small loaf, its just really heavy! But ill support the all natural ingredients just this once, next week when I go there Ill buy another one lol. I also bought some of their biscotti which was really nice, they had some to sample. Its nice and lemony. Also quite expensive... I bought the bread, the biscotti and a bottle of their shiraz (I didnt know they did wine too?!) and it cost me about $50... expensive. But worth it for a one off.

After that I just wandered around the place for about 45mins, checking out a cemetary (alot of monks with Spanish names, quite old, some from the late 1800s) and just generally wandering around the property. Didnt see any monks though...
Drove home, with my ipod playing a brilliant mix on shuffle (Rolling Stones, Beatles, Kasabian and The Verve amongst others) and then on the way decided to pop into one of the wineries thats on the road home, Jylland, which can be saved for another blog post ;)

Friday, June 25, 2010

I've recently discovered a fab website, full of all manner of gorgeous things to make your environment pretty. Clothes, kitchenware, linen, doorknobs and buttons. I love it. Anthropologie. Fabulous.

These are just SOME of the clothes! I am quite deeply in love with the military cardigan... I'm wondering if its worth spending €200 on it......... I do really like it ;)
To be honest Im not even going to try and pick out my favourite bags or accessories... There are too many! The belts are wicked... I could buy at least half of them!
Check out the homewares section, there are so many quaint, cute, eye catching and unique items that can really set a room apart, they're awesome. Be sure to have a look at their aprons, they really are something else! Really great for a foodie friend!! Hint hint ;-)
Anyway, get shopping!

Sacre Bleu Cassoulet!

I think I made the best casserole of my life tonight. Big call, as I've made alot of them... But tonight I went french, and made Cassoulet.

According to Julia Child, "Cassoulet is a rich combination of beans baked with meats, typical of south western France. The composition of a cassoulet is, in typical French fashion, the subject of infinte dispute, so much so that if you you have read of heard about cassoulet and never tasted it, you come to expect a kind of rare ambrosia rather than the nourishing country fare it actually is."
Well whatever I got, it was amazing. I used pork ribs (pretty much the same as pork belly just on the bone), some gluten free sausages (because its just what I had - some good quality garlic/rosemary/thyme flavoured sausages would be fantastic), chicken thigh (on the bone) and pancetta (because its what I had, however it would be more authentic if you used lardons). It was so easy and delicious and just what I felt like eating tonight!

Heres the recipe!

2 Pork ribs/belly, off the bone (if its a rib) and the skin trimmed off (keep the bone to add flavour) and cubed
2 Chicken thighs (skinless) cut off the bone (again, keep the bones) cubed
4 Sausages (good quality ones, you choose the flavour!)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
Half a glass of wine (red or white, whatever youre drinking while youre cooking!)
1 sprig each of thyme/rosemary
1 can tomatoes (I use whole ones, because the flavour is kept inside the tomato rather than watered down when theyre chopped)
2 cans of cannelini beans (I like beans, so 1 can is probably enough for most people)
1 cup chicken stock (I used a packet of liquid consomme which turned out fine)
1,5 cups breadcrumbs
1 tbsp melted butter
S&P to taste

Preheat your oven to 150C.

1) Add oil to a casserole dish/pan (oven safe) and fry up the pork, bones and bacon. Allow it to brown and leave all the bacony goodness on the bottom of the pan! Put the skin you trimmed off the pork belly in first, skin side down and allow it to crisp up while you cook all the meat - chefs treat once its brown and crispy and the fat has rendered down! Take all the pork out and put it to the side.

2) Add the chicken and bones and brown, remove from the pan. Then add the sausages and brown. Once they're brown cut them up into chunks and put them aside as well.

3) You should find that the bottom of the pan is covered in golden goodness! The pan will be a little hot for the garlic and onions, so deglaze it with your wine (I used white) and then add the onions and garlic, and cook until translucent.

4) Return all the meat and bones to the pan, with the rosemary, thyme, tomatoes, and stock, cover and let it cook in the oven for 90mins.

5) After 90mins mix up the breadcrumbs and butter (adding herbs would be great - parsley would be traditional). Add the beans to the pan, then cover everything with the breadcrumbs and cook for about 30mins or until the crumbs are golden brown. At this stage you can also add a cornflour roux to thicken the sauce. I didnt bother really, it was delicious as it was, and while the sauce does end up only slightly more viscous than water, but if you cook it longer it will reduce down alot more... It was perfect how it was though, if you had bread to sop up the gravy! I mention water when describing the gravy, rest assured it is only the consistancy NOT the flavour, it is just busting at the seams with flavour!

Serve with crusty bread or your choice of potatoes, as well as a glass or 2 of your fave wine.

This was seriously delicious, and I'm going to be making it for my parents when I visit during my holidays! Its perfect for a cold winter night, warming and rich. The best part about it, its only going to get better if you're able to save any for the next day!

My evening will be spent with my delicious cassoulet, a bottle of really nice red (Houghtons "The Bandit" Shiraz Temperanillo - will buy it again!), a copy of Gourmet and Spice - West Coast food and life, Julia Childs "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".
Have a fabulous Friday evening!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

South Africa!!

Ive gone and booked my holiday for November, to South Africa and Singapore! 2 of my South African friends lived in Perth for a while, and while living here made friends from all around the world, so for their wedding all their friends they had while living in Australia have been invited to Cape Town! Which means theres crew from all over Australia, Finland, Canada, America, Germany... We'll all start out in Cape Town and then travel around for a week or so from there, camping etc. Ill be there a month, about 2 weeks for the wedding and 2 more weeks to travel around a bit further once most people have gone home. Another bonus, I have some South African friends that I met while I was in Holland, so I'll get the chance to go and visit them as well!

After my month in South Africa I'll be heading to Singapore to stay with a friend for 4 days... He has promised me glorious street food and a flat screen TV with cable haha! So I can imagine days gorging on amazing food and then crashing out on the couch for movies cos we're too full to move! I cant wait!!

When I came home from the Netherlands at the end of 2008, I was pretty devastated, I wasnt ready to come home, I didn't WANT to come home, because Amsterdam WAS home... I loved it, found a place I really loved and could call home. Then I had to come back to Australia and study and it was one of the hardest years of my life. The post graduate diploma I did was intense and alot of work, on top of that I just wanted to go back to Holland. Now almost 2 years on, I still miss Holland but I'm feeling fine about where I am. However today when I booked my tickets to Cape Town and Singapore, I was elated. I then realised that this is what makes me happy - travelling. Going on holidays makes everyone happy, but I feel like its a little bit more to me. Most people love travelling but also put having a home high on their list of priorities. Being settled, having a nice house with nice things... And don't get me wrong, thats nice. But I get tired of it, I have an inability to sit still, I dont like being in one place too long. It can be a lonely existance, moving on all the time, but I dont mind it really. But I think I realised that being here, where I am, and teaching, is fine, and I could be fine doing what I'm doing. But its when I do something like book a ticket that I just feel alive again. I feel like what I'm doing now is existing. Then when I'm off to a new place, I'm living again...

I really can't wait!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mustard Pork w/ Gnocchi

This was one of the recipes that I decided to make this week for dinner, on my little spree of organisation! Its one of Nigellas recipes, which you can find here, on her website!

Anyway despite what the ingredients say, I used a couple of slightly different ones! I wanted to use up some mustard made with Newcastle Brown Ale, and Ive decided that I dont think I like it! Its a bit too sharp for me, in an acidic way, if it were sharp in a horseradish type way it would be different, but its not. It has a funny aftertaste as well, which I think is because of the beer... I also had no cream but that was by choice, I didnt want to buy cream, so I used a bit of sour cream I already had, with a splash of low fat milk. It also said to deglaze the pan with cider, again, had none (unusual in my house lol), musta drank it all! So I used a splash of apple juice and water... anyway the sauce wasnt bad but it was overpowered by the mustard that I didnt like. Next time ill use a different mustard, and I think rather than cider Ill use white wine... the apple juice didnt really work for me, and I know white wine would... So next time its wine! The gnocchi was alright, but it really needs to be bought to life with something, its so bland! I still have 2/3 of a pack left so im going to have to find ways to use it that are delicious! Its in the freezer though so no hurry, Ill save it for one of those days where I have no food and no money :P
I also made a salad with red cabbage, apple, red onion and beetroot. I seasoned it, gave it a squeeze of lemon and put it in the fridge to let the salt take the juices out and make a little marinade. I keep reading on the forum that people braise their red cabbage in apple juice so I thought Id try that, but I think Ive decided today that I dont really like to cook with apple juice! It was alright, nice with the pork for sure, but the apple juice just tastes a bit
funky... So Im still looking for ways to use my red cabbage! Though the salad is pretty nice thats for sure, itll be even nicer tomorrow when I take it to school!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Food Discovery!

I have recently discovered a packet meal, that are preservative and gluten free and 100% vegetarian... Im not a huge fan of packet meals, as they always taste the same and I would prefer to cook it myself anyway, then I know whats in the food Im eating. However my old roommate Rose turned me onto these little packets of wonder! Theyre all indian meals, and vary in range of heat from one to three chillies (though I have only ever found 2 chilli meals, which vary in heat anyway lol) and are really tasty! The brand name is Gits, its made in India and exported (the food miles are the only negative I have found so far...), and I buy them from the Waneroo Market "supermarket", and they're about $3 each, which I think is reasonable!

Today for lunch Ive eaten Pau Bhaji, and the description on the back says "the original fast food from Bombay, Pau Bhaji literally means bread and mixed vegetables. The Bhaji, ie mixed veg, is cooked with a medley of spices and herbs, cooked to perfection in large pats of butter and garnished with coarsely chopped coriander leaves and diced onions. The Bhaji is served with small loaves of bread called Pau. An ideal snack that can be a meal in itself, Pau Bhaji offers you a taste of Bombay that leaves you craving for more". Aside from the marketing talk, its pretty accurate in whats in the box, and I love that they explain what the name means. Not many people really understand the Indian words used in menus etc so its great that they're demistifying the terminology! Now I know what Pau and Bhaji mean when I encounter them on a menu!

Most important thing is the taste though... yum!! Im no Indian food buff but to me, its nice. It would be great mopped up with some garlic naan, and its full of flavour and has a great texture. Its very tomatoey, which is explained when I look at teh ingredients - 35% tomatoes. Followed closely by potato at 31%. Over half of it is already just vegetable, which I love to see. While it DOES taste a little like something from the packet, its still one of the best foods Ive had thats packaged - and as a former uni student I tried one of everything at some stage!! I would serve the better ones of these (Im on my way to figuring out which ones are the best!) as sides if I were to cook an Indian feast for friends, simply to cut corners (as I know some of my friends would never know the difference!).

The list of ingredients shows only herbs, spices and vegetables, NO E numbers, perservatives, random thickeners, stabilisers, flavour/colourings... not one.
Happy days :)

This weeks dinner menu!

Ive gone down a bit of a different road this week, in terms of what I'll be eating... I actually planned what Ill eat and made a list for it. It didnt take me too long really, and I tried to choose recipes with ingredients that I know I already have and am keen to use up (like mustard, potatoes and halloumi).

So I went for the shop today and found that I bought much LESS than I usually buy, because I had some direction in what I knew I needed, rather than buying a heap of things I MIGHT want to use... I spent about the same amount that I usually spend, but I think this had alot to do with a few extras I bought that werent food related.

What I've decided to eat this week is:
1) Seared lamb with hummus and pine nuts
2) Mustard pork chops
3) Double potato and halloumi bake
4) Warm Bean Salad w/ bread
5) Crispy chicken w/potatoes and tomatoes
6) Welsh Rarebit

The first 3 are from and the last 3 from Jamie Olivers book, Jamie at Home, but I dont have a link to the welsh rarebit sorry!

I had the lamb tonight for dinner, and it was really nice! Ive decided that I quite like hummus, ever since I had it at the Subiaco Hotel in Perth. It was served with pickled vegetables and dukkah bread - it was the hero dish of the night, it was deceptively good! Anyway so my first attempt at making hummus went fine, I dont have a blender but you really dont need one... Just took a quick step into the old days before there were any appliances and everything was manual labour! The hummus was great, its really easy, though I never really thought otherwise, but its definately something I'd make again! Now, the recipe calls for pomegranite seeds, pinenuts and dill... I hate dill (due to an unfortunate incident with salmon with dill sauce resulting in food poisoning), there was no pomegranite at the market (not in season Im guessing!) and pinenuts were insanely expensive (cheapest I found was $7 for a little bag... hmf) so I skipped all those aspects. It wouldve been an amazing dish with the pinenuts and pomegranite, though they werent available so I made do... The lamb i changed a bit to use what I had, which was lamb shanks. I put sealed them first in a pan with S&P and a sprinkle of cumin, then into the slow cooker, set on high for however long it took me to get to the shops and back (where I do my shop is 40mins away...). When I got home the lamb was almost ready so I left it a bit longer until I couldnt pick the shanks up to turn them over in the slow cooker, without bits of meat falling off the bone! I flaked it all off, mixed it up with the hummus and some extra cumin, S&P and ate it! I was pretty hungry so I didnt manage to get any pics of it, but next time I make it Ill take a pic and hopefully itll have the little pomegranite bombs of flavour on it!!

Ill report back on the others during the week as I make them, but Im looking forward to a delish week!!

PS this is about 45mins after Ive eaten dinner, followed by a little tub of yoghurt with mango - I feel really satisfied by this meal and dont feel like I need to eat anything else! I often feel like something else after Ive eaten dinner but not tonight! All teh chickpeas have done me good :)

Friday, June 4, 2010


Have stumbled across some pretty awesome art today... I wish it was more affordable, I would love to buy some Banksy prints, I haven't seen one that I haven't liked, I love the messages in them.

World Wide Trap by Blu

I love this one... I feel its an accurate representation of society and popular culture... People are so easily streamlined into a certain way of living - wake up, work for a person you don't like doing a job you dont enjoy, to earn money for an expensive house in an area you live in because it sounds good when you say it to people, a car that you can feel a bit cool in, and nice things in your house so people are impressed when they come over. To me, its a dig at the "right" life. Married with kids in a nice house with a stable career... throw a dog in there and you've got it made. However the name suggests peoples reliance on the internet, that people can only connect with others through electronic means rather than using social skills. Which is also true... either way - love it.
Napalm (Cant beat that feeling) by Banksy
Pretty powerful image, which I dont think needs any explanation at all...

No Ball Games - Banksy

This isnt the original image, there are a few variations but this is the one that struck me the most. Kids aren't playing that much anymore... its all computer games, social networking sites and electronic games over real games outside. Its pretty sad. The whole world is in a pretty sad state of affairs to be honest. Western culture is knackered, because everyones becoming Americanised and look how well thats turned out. 3rd world is equally knackered, because they're being exploited by the greed of the west who can never get enough. But thats looking really quite far into the image. Its simply, for me, an accurate reflection on the stay of play in childrens lives. It comes from the big square babysitter.

Anatomy of Love - Paul Insect

I just like the colours... art isnt always about messages and social commentary. Sometimes I just like how things look. You can look into this piece loads, there are heaps of messages you can draw out of it. However the first thing I thought was simply that I liked how this picture looked.. and who doesn't enjoy a celebration of love? Regardless of whos involved - gay straight black white old young... Love is Love, and should be surrounded by pattern and colour!

Toxic Mary - Banksy
What are we feeding our kids? Most of the time people dont even know whats in the food they feed their family... A common phrase is " you know XXXX gives you cancer..." and the common reply? "Everything gives you cancer these days..." said often jokingly or with a nonchalant tone. Since when does cancer become so casual? Our food and environments are toxic, we dont know whats in half the things we eat, or whats in the air we breathe, and its only once people start to get sick that we ask questions. The same happened with asbestos, and smoking... in the not so distant future we are going to be looking back at the habits of the population and think "how could we have been so stupid?"...