Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins

Every week we get a vege box from the Organic Collective and most weeks Im stuck trying to find a use for something... usually the fruit, or a way to hide the broccoli so my bf will eat it. This time, Ive needed to use up apples. Normally I take them to school and eat them but we got alot this time, and since S never eats fruit unless its been dessert-ified, I had to figure something out.

I stumbled upon this recipe for apple cinnamon breakfast muffins, from Nigella Lawsons book, Kitchen. I havent heard rave reviews about this book, in fact, quite mixed, but regardless, these muffins looked great. Heres the recipe.


2 apples (peeled, cored and chopped into 1cm pieces)

250 g spelt flour (I used 00 flour, it was all I had)

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

125 g brown sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

125 ml honey

60 ml plain fat-free yogurt (just realised I used full fat greek yoghurt, oops!)

60 ml vegetable oil

65 ml applesauce

2 eggs

75 g natural almonds, roughly chopped


1) Preheat oven to 150C (300F), line 12 tin muffin tin with paper liners.

2) Measure the flour, baking powder and 1 teaspoons of the ground cinnamon into a bowl.

3) Whisk together 125g brown sugar, honey, yogurt, veg. oil and eggs in another bowl.

4) Use the chopped almonds and add 1/2 of them to the flour mix, put the leftover almonds into a small bowl and add the 1 teaspoons of cinnamon and the 4 teaspoons of brown sugar.

5) Fold wet ingredients into the dry, add apples but just stir to combine. Spoon into the muffin cups, then add some of that topping you made for each muffin

6) Bake about 20min or until finished, then let stand in tin for 10 min before placing them onto a cooling rack.

These muffins looked great before I put them in the oven, the batter tasted good too, though I could tell this was going to be a sweet parcel of apple cinnamon goodness!
Muffin batter with topping, just before going into an oven that wasnt hot enough!

I put them in the oven, eagerly anticipating the outcome! After the specified 20mins, I found they werent nearly cooked, however had risen enough to be coming over the tops of the tray, but had not yet cooked through enough to be able to stand up. So I had some pretty flat looking muffins that were all touching! WTF?!

I turned the oven up and cooked them for another 15 minutes. After a while I could smell the sweet and spicy aromas of the muffins wafting through the house. THAT was what was meant to happen... I've now decided that this house has a crap oven, and I've found that things have needed to be baked alot longer than I expected. There is a loose sheet of metal over the door that slides out everytime you open the oven, and I think this is causing the oven to loose a significant amount of heat... Meaning I have to turn the oven up higher than I expect to get the temperature I need. Ill be buying an oven thermometer someday soon to ensure Im getting what I need out of this clapped out piece of rental kitchenware.

In any case, the muffins turned out perfectly edible, just not as aesthetically pleasing as Id like. The recipe called for fat free yoghurt and I used full fat... Just guessing, without having tried the no fat yoghurt, this has resulted in a fabulously moist muffin. It feels quite sinful, but in actuality its not THAT bad in the fat dept. The diabetics will keel over and die though. The sugar is noticable, just by looking at the sticky topping. It is a sweet muffin, not unlike a sticky date pudding, due to the brown sugar, and honey being used rather than white sugar. It also has a beautiful deep rich brown colour that is screaming out for a dollop of cream.

They really arent much of a muffin... This is more of a cupcake, in my opinion. Its not especially healthy, and is very sweet and moist which I dont find in many muffins... But hey its a great use of apples! Would be interesting to see how these go with pear.

I will likely make these again, however I wouldnt be so heavy handed with the honey. I didnt measure it that well... The recipe I used said I should add 5/8ths of a cup of it, and I wasnt about to measure out 125ml of it because I dont have a small enough measuring cup. So I guesstimated and added less than a cup. Next time, Ill go easy on the sweetners (possibly add less of the brown sugar), and use fat free yoghurt.

Try them though, for a healthier (slightly) version of a sticky date pudding! They would be great with a bit of ginger in them too, as they have that gingerbready vibe going on already...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Venetian Chicken - Nigella Lawson

How many times have you gotten a roast chicken, with all the intentions in the world of making something fabulously different with it, and just ending up roasting it or making soup? As delicious as those are, sometimes you need to do something different with the humble chicken. Its often affordable (unless you go for the high end organic, free range, massaged chickens fed organic corn, who sleep on beds of golden straw) and easy to come by. There is almost always a chicken in the shops! So I spotted some nice looking Mt Barker free range chooks at my local IGA (which turns out to be pretty well stocked for organic food, though not so much fruit n veg), the biggest was $22 dollars and looked like a turkey, it was massive. I bought the cheapest one I could find, $13 hidden at the back! I didnt know what I wanted to do with it, but considering I had a whole vege box from the Organic Collective in the fridge, I figured Id whip up something...

I got home and had decided on Venetian Chicken by Nigella Lawson, however I didnt really know what I needed for it (handy, since Id just come back from the shop...) so tried googling it, and just came back with loads of recipes with American conversions. Not useful, I cant be arsed with a mls to cup conversion on the best of days, I wasnt about the convert a whole recipe. It turned out that this recipe was in How to Eat, the only Nigella book I actually own. Bonus! But it was tucked away somewhere in the box with all my cookbooks in it, from the move. After scrounging around, putting all the books away, reading some, procrastinating and then actually looking at the book I had gone to find in the first place, I found it. Tagliatelle with chicken from the Venetian Ghetto. Meh. Its Venetian chicken from now on.

Anyway before I go on, heres the recipe.

1 whole chicken (1.5kg will feed about 4)
2 Tbsp EVOO
Needles from 2 or 3 sprigs of rosemary, chopped very finely
50g sultanas soaked in warm water for about 30 minutes
100g pinenuts, lightly toasted
500g tagliatelle

1) Preheat oven to 180C

2) Rub the chicken with oil, sprinkle with S&P and place it breast down on a baking dish and put it in the oven for 1-1.5 hours until well browned, turning it over towards the end to brown the breast. Its done when the juices run clear, not pink, when you cut into the thigh. When the chickens nearly ready, put abundant water on to boil for the pasta, adding salt when it boils.

3) Take the chicken out of the oven and take the meat off the bone, leaving all that glorious burnished skin on, and cut it into small pieces. (Ive taken a liberty here and not included some of what Nigella has written... its nothing important, promise.)

4) For the sauce, pour ALL the juices from the roasting dish into a saucepan. Add the finely chopped rosemary, the drained sultanas, and the pinenuts. Begin to simmer the sauce when you are ready to cook the pasta.

5) When the pastas cooked and drained, toss it with some of the sauce and chicken pieces in a large warmed bowl. I like some flat lead parsely chopped over at the last minute, no cheese please!

I pretty much followed the recipe, however I omitted the sultanas, because I know S doesnt like sweet things much, in savoury dishes, and Im not mad about sultanas. Id def try it one time, but I rarely have them in the house.

I also added some leeks and a potato to the roasting pan, along with a couple of cloves of garlic, skin on to slowly cook with the chicken. I also may have added a shlug of white wine to the pan juices at the end, which tasted awesome! I cant help but mess with recipes sometimes... I think it would also be fab with some spinach added at the end!

For 2 of us, I cooked a whole chicken, but only used the meat from the breast, purely because it was easier to cut up. It left us with another meals worth of chicken, which was pretty handy, its a cheap way to make a whole chicken go alot further!

This is a great meal to make which is really easy... Theres not a great deal of thought involved, and its a perfect meal to make when you're feeding a family or a bit of a crowd, add a nice simple salad and youre set! I loved it, S liked it too, and said that he would allow me to make it again lol

Check out for a review with pics of the recipe, as my memory card packed it in last night :(

Friday, August 26, 2011

Back Online!

Have been away for about 2 weeks, with no new posts!
We moved house, and had no internet for a while, but its back up now, and so Ill start to catch up with the blogs that I need to get on here, places weve been and things I've cooked!

Also spent the time without internet to catch up on some reading, gardening and spending quality time with the bf - minimal technology allows you to get back to basics and do the things you actually should be doing, rather than wasting time on facebook like I tend to do!

Will post pics of the new house/garden and let you all know whats been going on!

For today though, its off to the zoo!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Garden, Leederville

After a long drive from my home town 3 hours away, and moving house the previous Thursday, S and I couldn't be bothered cooking dinner last night... Half the kitchen is still in boxes, we have forks and spoons, but no knives... too hard basket. The answer? The Garden, Leederville.

Ive been there before for drinks, but never ate anything before, and when we checked out the menu we were happy to see a tapas style selection, which were fans of. We were planning on going to Duende, but its shut on sundays...

At about 5:30 it was pretty busy, but we managed to snag a pretty decent spot on bar stools next to the restaurant. There were no menus or anything on the table so S went hunting for one and came back 5mins later. There were some nice things on there, and the headings were cool - Garden Deli, Small Things, Things in Bread, Pizza, Salady Things... It also had a wine list on the back, and a section on the food menu with their pitchers of cocktails made with Belvedere Vodka Fruit Macerations, all $35 - $45. We drove there so didnt get one, but the Pimms Pitcher appealed to us - Pimms, fresh lime, lemon, orange, cucumber, mint, dry ginger and lemonade. Yum. One for a hot saturday arvo. With a taxi home!

S went up to the bar and ordered (it sounds like he was doing all the work - he was. He owed me, I did all the leg work at the last place we went!), and we decided on the "garden variety of small things" and a pizza, topped with sausage, potato and rosemary ($20). He got himself a James Squire Sundowner Lager, and I started off with the Mazza Temperanillo from Donnybrook. Interestingly, the menu has prices for everything aside from the beer - which only shows the percentage of alcohol? Other things we liked on the menu were the Garden Farmhouse Cheeseboard ($30) with fig and pear relish, lavosh, green apple and a daily selection of cheeses, as well as mixed spiced nuts ($5), chorizo, piquillo pepper and fresh basil pizza, and the chicken, pancetta and ranch dressing pizza. The little nibbly things looked great - it turns out theyre all on the tasting plate so Ill talk about those soon!

We got a little garden bucket with a chalkboard on it, with our name on it and a table number, inside it held our napkins and cutlery as well as another menu. Was a cute touch, but sometimes I think it might be a bit difficult for the staff to see them? We liked it anyway!

We got the tasting plate first, with 4 little ramekins of goodness on a wooden board, and long bamboo skewers to eat with (fear not, there were knives and forks in the bucket!).

On it were (which can all also be ordered individually, for $10 each);
Braised meatballs w/spicy tomato relish
Brie & broccoli arancini w/ tomato chutney
Grilled chorizo, fresh parsley and lemon, and
Salt cod and potato croquettes w/ chipotle aioli.

Again, a little disclaimer - pics taken with my HTC Desire phone... not the greatest quality when its dark. Bear that in mind when looking at the pics of the food!

The meatballs were piled up, covered in a tomato sauce, with parmesan. They were pretty good, I had no real complaints about them. However I wouldnt order them, because I felt like they werent really special enough to order when going out. I tend to order things I wouldnt make at home, and these I just felt I could have made, easily. Nice, but nothing special.

The chorizo was exactly like it said on the packet. Slices, grilled, with a wedge of lemon. If you like chorizo you'll enjoy it! We found it to be really tasty chorizo, a little spicy and juicy. Some chorizo I find is just not as nice tasting as others. This was a good one.

The brie and brocolli arancini were good. Crumbed and fried balls of risotto always go down well when they're hot! Dipped in the tomato chutney, they were tasty morsels. You could really taste the brocolli. S, who doesnt really love brocolli OR cheese, had a bite and didn't mind them, which is a pretty good sign! They had a pretty creamy texture, as youd expect from both brie and risotto. I enjoyed them, and I ate most of them as S found other things he liked more!

Ive never had salt cod before, so mixed with potato in these little croquettes was a first for me. The flavour of the cod was very mild, S didnt even realise there was fish in it, and I could only just pick it up. A good thing to have for the transition from vegetarian to omnivore perhaps! The potato was creamy and soft, no lumps! The salt cod pieces were really small - like I said it had a really mild flavour so dont order it thinking its going to be really fishy. Again, I enjoyed them, and they actually gave me some inspiration to make them myself at some stage, but with salmon or tuna instead.

The pizza came out about 5mins after the tasting plate, and S got stuck straight in. The sausage on it wasnt sliced as I had expected, rather chunks of sausage meat, torn into bite sized pieces. The base was really nice, however we both felt that because of the chef being a bit heavy handed with the sauce and cheese, the base wasnt able to crisp up nicely. It was pretty cheesy, and it wasnt a really tasty cheese, so it was quite a heavy pizza. The hit of rosemary was a welcome respite from the bland cheese and the same sauce as what we'd gotten on the tasting place (there was a strong theme of tomato sauce/chutney/pizza base sauce which tended to taste very similar), as it gave a hit of flavour. In saying that, it wasnt a totally unpleasant pizza to eat - but it certainly wasnt the best Ive had, and it has the potential to be much nicer should the base improve.

We still felt a bit peckish, or maybe we just saw how nice the chips looked... so we went and ordered a serve of chips that we didnt need, but wanted. They came out after about 10minutes, and it was a huge serve! Considering they're $9.50 you would expect a decent size. We werent disappointed. They came in a metal colander, with a newspaper style lining. Cool presentation, however I cant help but think of the paper wasted, just for the purpose of a nice looking plate of chips. In any case, we couldnt finish them, and ended up heading off for a wander around the streets, followed by a stop at il gelato for some delicious lemon sorbet!

The vibe at the Garden is nice, I like it there. There are loads of tables all over the venue, it caters well to groups as well as only a couple of people. We found the music too load in some areas for a conversation which seemed weird as it was a sunday afternoon n theres no dance floor... We'll definately come back, as we didnt get to see the dinner menu (everything we ate was on the bar snacks menu - which is pretty extensive).

All in all an enjoyable experience, best enjoyed on a sunny afternoon with drinks and friends!

We went here again for drinks on saturday night at about 10pm after a meal at Kitsch Bar. It took 25mins to get served at the bar, and while waiting I decided that I was NOT going to go back to the bar for another drink, so I ordered a Belvedere Vodka jug, of the Starburst variety. It had Belvedere orange vodka, aperol, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice and soda water, with a squirt of lime juice, some oranges and lemon. It was pretty nice, but for $45 I kinda wanted more than 3 shots of vodka and one of Aperol.......... hmm.... We couldnt have a very good conversation, because the music from the Leederville Hotel next door was so loud. Im pretty sure that I wouldnt be heading back to the Garden on a saturday night, not really my style of place!

The Garden on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Greenhouse, Perth CBD

The Greenhouse in Perths CBD, on St Georges Tce has been somewhere I've been wanting to try for a while now, and so when S and I were randomly in the city together yesterday, we decided to eat out. I had driven past the Greenhouse earlier and that reminded me it was there, so I dragged him over there, even just to see the place. It has a really cool exterior, made with wire and hundreds of pot plants growing ivy, which will eventually totally cover the building. The food is tapas style, intended for sharing which I love, and its recommended to get 3-4 dishes between 2.

Photo courtesy of The Perth Breakfast Club blog, from their post about the Greenhouse.

This is taken from the Greenhouse website, regarding their vision for the place;

All the features of the Greenhouse are carefully considered first for their practicality, recyclability, life cycle and embodied energy and then for their aesthetics and cost. By putting each decision through this rigorous process, it is hoped that the Greenhouse can provide information and examples to builders, designers, restaurateurs and the public, regarding their daily choices of materials, ingredients, and practices.

They have haybales as insulation, a rooftop garden growing produce for the kitchen and bar, and as much as possible within the restaurant has been recycled. The chairs are made from old signs, my wine was served in a science lab measuring jug, which was pretty awesome!

We were sat outside as inside was booked out, but the waiter was really friendly, and moved the heater closer to our table to make us comfortable. We had a look at the extensive drinks list, which includes some great beer, wine, and cocktails. I ended up choosing a flask (which is equivalent to about half a bottle) of Margaret River Rosily "The Cartographer" cabernet, which was $25. S ordered a Bootleg Brewery Hefe ($9) which he loved. My wine was also nice, however I tend to avoid commenting on wines, because Im not fussy. If its red and of reasonable quality Im usually happy!

Considering that 12 months ago, S was a frozen food man, didn't like most foods (he assumed he wouldnt like things before he tried them very frequently) I was worried he wouldnt find anything he liked on the menu. He has admittedly gotten ALOT better and is now on a bit of a food discovery, realising that he might like things he hasn't tried, or hasn't eaten since he decided it was yuk when he was 10. However I was still surprised when he said he could find something on there, even more so when he ordered both of our meals, and 2 of them were vegetarian.

He ended up ordering:

spiced, deep fried cauliflower

wood roasted vegetable salad dressed with salmoriglio

chorizo, fried bread, piquillo pepper, and slow cooked egg, and

sliced deli meats, aussie olives and tomato bread.

Firstly let me just say that the food photos are taken with my phone, a HTC desire, and as such do not reflect the quality of the presentation of the food to its full potential. The food looked great, but a camera phone doesn't capture this as well as other cameras do, so bear that in mind when looking at these pictures!

The cauliflower came out first, and it looked great. S thought it had a meaty quality, and the serving size wasn't small! The spice was tasty, however I found that it became too much after a while. Were I to make this at home (which I would definately have a go at), I would use the spices with a lighter hand. The texture of the cauli was fine, however looking at them, I expected a crunch, which wasn't there. S liked them alot, if theres any way to get a man to eat veges, douse it with curry flavour and fry it.

The next dish to be presented to us was the roast vegetable salad with salmoriglio. Ill admit, I had to google the salmoriglio, which turns out to be a southern Italian condiment. The name is derived from the sicillian word for "light brine", and it includes lemon juice, garlic, parsely, oregano, olive oil, S&P. It was SO nice, this is definately something I need to go home and make. We have roast veg all the time, and this sauce is a light, fresh way of taking your veg to another level! The veges were zucchinis, onions, radish (so nice - will roast them in future!), aubergine, parsnip and swede I think. It was really really good, and really simple. A dish to take home with you in your memory with a realistic chance of recreating it.

We then received the sliced deli meats with aussie olives and tomato bread. The meats came shaved, a salami, prosciutto, and slices of another salami. I could be wrong with these guesses, we didnt actually ask what they were... really nice in any case ;-) the meats were topped with both fat juicy olives, and little nibbly ones, with the thickly sliced tomato bread on the side. S thought the bread was really tasty, which it was, but it would a touch chewy on the crusts for my personal taste, and sliced a bit thick - but this is personal taste so its something for you to decide yourself about! I enjoyed this, as I love this style of eating, however it was my least favourite dish we ordered, and wouldn't order it again (mostly because of all the other things I'd like to try!).
Last but not least, the chorizo dish came out. Chunks of chorizo, little croutons of fried bread, roasted piquillo peppers and parsely, with a very soft poached egg on top. This, the waitress told us, was designed for us to crack and use as a dressing. S is not a fan of soft eggs, so I carefully extracted it and ate it myself! I find chorizo very hit and miss... sometimes its delicious, and other times I just dont like it. This time I really liked it. All the elements of the dish combined made a more-ish, rich mouthful, but a combination that is best shared! It was really tasty, however not something I could eat alot of, because of the combination of fairly fatty/rich ingredients. It wasn'ta greasy dish, but you need to eat it while its hot, otherwise its not as nice due to the fried/grilled nature of the elements in it. Still really liked it though!

Finally, we shared a dessert... there were only 4 to choose from, and for me the chocolate, cherry and coconut was an obvious choice. Part of the choice was the mystery surrounding this dish. All the menu mentions is the chocolate, cherry and coconut. Thats it. So I was stoked when it came out, a long inch thick slice of cake, with a layer of cherrys in it, atop a slate spread with whipped cream infused with coconut. I loved it. It would have been really difficult for me not to have enjoyed it, as I love chocolate and red fruits. It was a modern take on a black forest cake, which is dated to the hills but delicious nonetheless. I was really happy with it.
I really liked the decor of the place, our waitress was really friendly but not in your face. I love that the place is geared toward sustainability, and that makes up part of my opinion of it. I really liked the food, my wine was really nice and presented in a memorable way. My boyfriend came here, as a meat n potatoes kinda guy. He willingly ordered vegetarian food, and really enjoyed it. That is such a WIN in my eyes!I would love to come back and try the other things on the menu, such as the pickled pork belly with quince, or the mohamara, pickled turnips, whole grain flat breads, or the cabbage, mint, radish & feta salad! Id love to get stuck into the cocktails! The lunch menu is similar to the evening menu, but with similar ingredients, prepared in different ways.

If you go onto their website you can also get some of their recipes, such as the fried spiced cauliflower.

All up, it cost $108, which was definately pricey. We both really enjoyed our meal though, and would go back for sure. You're paying for ambience, good food, wine and service. I feel like we got all of those things in spades.

Greenhouse on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 1, 2011

Santa Fe - Subiaco

After another session transporting our things to the new house, my bf and I decided to skip Leederville, and head to Subiaco for dinner instead. We wandered around for a while, but since we had driven past Santa Fe, one mention of Mexican food and he was sold.

It was a rainy sunday night, and it was about 7pm so it wasnt busy at all, but we were seated no worries and had some water bought out. The menu looked good, we were having trouble deciding, should I get the pork chimichanga? Or the paella? And for entree? Chicken wings, chilli poppers, albondegas?? I had trouble deciding because it all looked really good.

We decided upon the chorizo espanola, cooked in ranchero sauce and wine, with olives and potatoes, served on a sizzling skillet with tortillas for entree. This came out fairly quickly, sizzling as promised! It looked good, but a big portion size for an entree... We soon found out that we really needed something like sour cream or guacamole to tone this down. It wasnt overly hot but way overspiced, the sauce was overreduced and its flavour was far too concentrated and rich. It was a really heavy entree, too salty and too much. We drank an entire bottle of water while eating it. We asked for another bottle of water but didnt get one...

For mains I decided on the New Mexico Paella, which had chicken, snapper, squid, prawns and chorizo cooked with arborio rice, a medley of vegetables and their special Santa Fe spice mix, with crispy tortillas. Bf ordered the Santa Fe Famous pork ribs, slow roasted until tender, basted with either homemade chipotle bbq sauce, or sticky bourbon glaze, served with your choice of fries, garlic mash or corn on the cob. He went for the bbq sauce and chips.

Our meals came out, again, fairly quickly, and the serving sizes were generous. Unfortunately it just meant more of the paella. It wasnt nice. The fish served on top tasted like it had been cooked on the same grill as everything else, and didnt really taste much like fish anymore. The chicken was quite dry, but I ate that anyway. The prawns were somehow the nicest part of the meal I think, I thought they'd get lost in the, again, overspiced and rich flavours in the paella but they managed it. Maybe I liked them because they muted the flavour of the rice... The Santa Fe spice mix was too much. It overpowered everything, and made all the elements of the dish just taste like a spoonful of spice mix. The crispy tortillas were a nice textural change to the stodgy rice, however they tasted a little like old oil, which wasn't pleasant. I didnt eat that much of it, I left about half of it.

The ribs were quite a big serve as well, lotsa ribs, lotsa chips, about 3 lettuce leaves. The ribs weren't cooked in a sauce, it was poured over it at the end instead. They had obviously been slow cooked for a really long time, the meat literally just fell off the bones. Knife and fork not necessary at all! They definately needed to be cleaned up better though, it seemed like scrappy butchering - there was still alot of slippery slidey bits that just peeled off the underside of the ribs, as well as bloodlines and things like that... as tasty as they were, for the price you pay, you expect them to be finished better than that.

The service was fine all night, though one of the waitresses interrupted conversation about what to order, to ask if we were ready to order, which I found strange. We asked for more water but didnt get it. I also thought the fact that they only served cleanskins and that they were $7 a glass? The decor was pretty standard for a mexican place, nothing to report there, however I felt the tables were a bit squished in.

I wonder how often people come to Santa Fe when they DONT have all the specials and happy hours? The bill came to almost $80, which I thought was overpriced for what we got. I probably wouldnt be back, if I want mexican food, Ill head to Zapatas!

Santa Fe on Urbanspoon