Sunday, October 30, 2011

Salsa Romesco

Sometimes you need to get rid of veges that are clogging up your fridge. Other times you need something healthy to jazz up a piece of chicken, or youd like to make your own dip to take to a party. The answer is salsa romesco. Of Spanish origin, the basics youll need are almonds, pine nuts and/or hazelnuts, roasted peppers, garlic and olive oil. Added bonus ingredients are red wine vinegar, roasted tomatoes, and onion. This post cant be called a recipe, its more a guide to making a romesco sauce that suits you. I didnt really use any measurements at all.

I decided to give some roasted chicken drumsticks a bit of life last night, and made my own version of this spanish sauce. I used Stephanie Alexanders recipe as a loose guide, but it got changed plenty, and I didnt measure anything. There are ways to make this the easy shortcut way, or a more drawn out, pottering in the kitchen way. I choose a fairly easy method, using jarred piquillo peppers I bought from Spanish Flavours in Mt Hawthorn. If you wanted to use peppers you have at home, blacken them either under the grill or over a flame/coals, put them in a plastic container or bag for 10 minutes. Once they're cooler, peel the skins off and discard them, and keep the flesh for when you need it.

I decided to use tomatoes in my sauce, so tumbled a punnet of cherry tomatoes (in my opinion the only safe bet when buying toms from the supermarkets) into a oven tray, with a whole chilli. A healthy glug of garlic olive oil (the healthy oil!) and a smattering of seasoning later and they were ready for the oven.

I put them under the grill, and kept checking back until they had blackened a bit. I pierced them all with a knife before grilling, as sometimes tomatoes pop and explode a bit, and I didnt really feel like dealing with that! Once theyre grilled, its up to you whether or not you peel the skins off, or drain the liquid. Stephanie Alexanders recipe says you should use Roma tomatoes and once grilled, lose the skin and put them in a colander for 20mins to drain. However the juices that had come out were delicious and full of tomato flavour, and I couldnt be bothered to peel them - besides, I like a bit of a char flavour on things!

The recipe also calls for blanched 3 times garlic, and cooked till its softened. I blanched it once and cooked it till it was soft, however it would be just as nice to hide it under your tomatoes, skin on, to soften that way.

I then chucked it all into my food processor, along with a handful of the jarred peppers (squeezed off their excess juices), almonds, a shlug of red wine vinegar, some salt and pepper, and blitzed.


Taste it, see if youd like more vinegar, more almonds... Secret is, to add less than you think to start out with, then taste it. You can always add more of something but its alot trickier to take it away! In this case I would have taken the seeds out of the chilli as it has quite an aggressive heat - it would be amazing used as a marinade for bbqs, but we were using it as a dip, so it was a bit much. Leave it out if you want.

Its SO versatile, and so easy to make. It doesnt require anything fancy, you can use any vinegar you like really, that you enjoy the taste of. Use lemon instead if you want. Its a very forgiving recipe, if you can call this post a recipe... This is definitely an everyday food - you're likely to have everything in the cupboard already, and its healthy enough to eat every day! Its certainly versatile enough.

Easiest way to jazz up a piece of chicken or red meat, use it as a dip, put it on bread with cheese and grill it, use it as a pizza sauce with lamb and fetta... Add mint, coriander or parsley... You'll be eating well!

Options for this healthy choice sauce are endless!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Cabin, Mt Hawthorn

When we moved to mt hawthorn a couple of months ago, we decided to check out the cafe strip on Scarborough beach road and try all the different places there, as its not somewhere I've really been before, aside from the paddo! One place we drove past loads was the Cabin, upstairs above another shop, overlooking the IGA (scenic!) but with a view over the city.

The decor is very woody, lots of pine, tree trunk tables with knarled legs, looking very similar to their original condition as you'd find them in nature. It's very ski lodge, with deer heads on the wall, as well as the silhouette of a stag head being the icon attached to the bar.

The style of food is similar to tapas, and the menu is sorted into small and big eats, as well as sweets. They have a pretty impressive spirits list, as well as cocktails, beers and wines. Fridays they have some cocktails for $10 from 4-9pm which is a good deal! I had quite a few of their "surprise me" cocktails which was made of vodka, cointreau, grape juice n lime. Also had a frangelico mule, which had fresh lime and ginger ale added to the hazelnut liqueur. They also have a sparkling white cocktail with sugar and bitters, and a vodka sunrise. I've had a bourbon cocktail too which was nice but I decided I'm not big on bourbon anymore, too much in high school! The ladycello is also great, which is limoncello, grenadine and lemon juice. It's a really nice place to have a drink on their balcony and have some delicious food!

Speaking of food.. we've been there a few times, and when we came back for our 2nd visit, they had a new chef. The first time we went there we had the steak tartar with burger garnish, which meant pickles, mustard, onion rings, a quail egg and brioche buns. It was fantastic! Id never had it before but am a convert now! The flavours were fantastic, sharp mustard, creamy egg, crunchy sweet onion, and sour pickles. Loved it! We also got babaganouj, bread and dukkuh which was so good, we ordered it twice! But, that was the previous chef..

New chef is also great! I went with S one lazy Friday night, we sat on the balcony and ordered one or two dishes at a time, with cocktails. We started out with quail with Egyptian dukkuh, and toasted ciabatta with romesco sauce. One thing about this place is that the bread has always been fantastic! Toasted, oiled and salted, its crunchy and so delicious. S really loved the romesco sauce, and has asked for it to be made at home sometime. We enjoyed the quail but for the price we felt they were a bit stingy with the bird.. coulda put one or 2 more pieces on there. In saying that though, it was delicious. The dukkah was chunky and the quail was grilled nicely n had great flavour. 

We ordered the southern fried pork cheeks and harissa spiced lamb with couscous. S loved the pork, he was a huge fan. The pork was tender and falling apart with the pull of a fork. The seasoning on the outside was about half a cm thick, and crispy. It was quite salty which is perfect for having with drinks, but for me they were a bit heavy. The paprika aioli was nice, but added to the heavy feel of the dish. Tastewise though it was really nice, and again S has requested a replication at home! 

The lamb was also really nice and tender, but the harissa was very mild! It had some roast veg and couscous and was a good size to share. It would have been nice to feel some heat though! 

The last thing we ordered was a side of potatoes with vinegarette, bacon, and sour cream with chives. It was easily the biggest dish of the all the things we ordered, a huge pile of potatoes n they weren't shy with the cream! It'd be good for sharing with more than 2 as its a big serving! It was nice, nothing outta the ordinary to report, it was potatoes, bacon n sour cream! Nice, and good for $8, but too much for 2.. 

We decided (well I decided for us) that we were gonna have dessert.. we chose the brownie and cos S loves choc Orange, we asked to have a couple of the garnishes from the other dessert, with ours, which our waiter took care of without a problem or extra cost. It was served with pistatio, honey and cinnamon semifreddo and a drizzle of choc sauce. The brownie was served in a ramekin so it wasn't really a brownie just choc cake or pudding but it was hot, moist, rich and delicious! I didn't really love the semifreddo but pit together with the brownie it worked so well! Yum. S is a huge lover of brownies, and he died n went to heaven! It was a good brownie.. 

The next visit I went with mum so I could order the things S doesn't like! We got the smoked ham hock n pistascio terrine, the boiled eggs with curry mayo, and the crispy skinned duck with chilli vinegar. For dessert, we got the cheese plate. I really wanted to get the baked camembert with bread sticks, honey n walnuts, but it serves 4 n I wasn't sure we could really eat a whole wheel of cheese! 

The terrine came out with some small sliced pickles, some onion jam, more great bread, and a round terrine on a wooden board. Enjoyed the terrine, especially with the sweet onion jam. The sliced pickles didn't add enough sharpness for me n tasted a bit like nothing.. the bread was great, and with the terrine on top it was a satisfying bite. I found the terrine to be a little on the dry side but still the taste of fat was there. I'm pretty sure there was no mince in it, which may have given the terrine a better texture, a bit smoother rather than just having the possibly overcooked hock. It was tasty though and I enjoyed it. 

The duck was pretty delicious, however the chilli vinegar wasn't spicy at all, though very tasty. Combined with the duck, the vinegar worked perfectly with the rich fatty duck. I loved it! Is order that again for sure. 

The boiled eggs with curry mayo did pretty much what it said on the box, also served with their consistently yummy bread. The curry mayo was quite sharp and runny, which was good to pour over the soft boiled eggs that had spilled themselves over the bread when I cut them. We both enjoyed it, but it was a bit lackluster. However the menu says that this is what you get, so we can't complain! 

The cheese board came out with pear, walnuts, bread, water crackers and a pear and cider preserve. It looked great, and mum dove straight into the blue cheese which is far from one of my faves.. I tried some but didn't like it, just not into blue cheese! The highlight for me was the pear and Napoleone cider conserve, that stuff was amazing! I could taste the ginger, mum got the cloves, it was sweet with a hint of tartness. It was ridiculously good with the Spanish cheddar! Highlight!
I love The Cabin. Its walking distance from our house, I like the cocktails and the service is usually great. When its not great, its fine. Ive never had bad service, though there is one girl who looks a bit snarky but shes never served me. We will be back, for sure, I love that their menu changes and Im looking forward to when it does! We'll be back again. Its not the cheapest night out but its worth it. We get great food and good drinks, the staff always have a chat and have been really friendly to us. One waiter forgot about us for a while and then came back apologising and from then on was very attentive. Havent tried their breakfasts, that will be next!

For another view on The Cabin, check out Tannic Teeths take. Great photography!

Twilight Hawker Markets - Forrest Place, Perth

Last night S and I decided to head down into the city, and brave the CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting - in case you've had your head in the sand, or arent from Australia!) crowds to check out the bringing back of the Twilight Hawker Market in Perth city, at Forrest Place.

This weekend all public transport is free because of the shutdown of the CBD (the Queen was in there having a meeting! So no cars!) and all the events going on. So we caught the train in and headed down past the protests (these ones were for refugee rights and gay equality) into Forrest Place for some food!

There was quite a crowd there, but I assumed that it was partially because of the Peoples Space which was located about a 10min walk on the other side of the train tracks which was apparently REALLY busy yesterday, so it could have been an overflow... It wasnt toooo bad navigating through the people but you had to get really lucky to get a seat/table. Most people were sitting on steps and spare pieces of ground!

We did a lap first to see what we wanted, and I had my eyes on the prata with vege curry from the Love and Care stall, a mince gozleme from the turks, satay sticks and a burrito. Possibly a hot donut at the end, or maybe a crepe. Each stall had a fabulous smell coming from it, but we decided to start out with a mince gozleme ($10, you can also get spinach ones).

S and I shared everything, and the gozleme came to us HOT, with melting cheese, mince and a smell that made us try to eat it anyway, and burn ourselves! It was so delicious. Something so simple, thin pieces of dough, not quite a flatbread, not quite a crepe in size and consistancy, with mince (lamb I think) and some sort of cheese, I think it was fetta sandwiched between, and fried on a hot plate with some butter. So delicious. I could have gone back for more. But more deliciousness beckoned!

The next thing we went for was the Edo Shiki stall, which had a bunch of sushi, as well as 3 kinds of dim dum, prawn dumplings, pork dumplings and bbq pork in steamed buns (all $4.50). We opted for some bbq pork buns, and got 2 good sized ones for $4.50, perfect for sharing! We found the filling to be a little too sweet, but delicious at the same time. I wouldnt want to eat many of them, as the sweetness would be a bit much but one was perfect.

Next stop - satay sticks! I grew up in a town with loads of Malays, Christmas and Cocos Islanders, and Indonesians, so curry puffs, satay sticks, spring rolls and prawn crackers have always been a common thing to see at events, as well as at the school canteen! I had some high expectations for the satays, as my old school buddy Mohommad (Who we all called Mo) makes the best ones Ive had. We ordered 4 for $5, not a bad price! They were cooking them on a bbq, not quite the same as how Mo does it, as they use coals Im pretty sure - but still they were looking good! I could smell caramalising soy sauce and honey, it bought back memories... We got our order complete with a ladle of peanut satay sauce and sat down on the steps. They were good, but not as good as Mo's. The sauce was lacking a bit in flavour, it was a bit watery, probably because they had to make so much. They were fine, but Mo's rank of #1 satay man was safe!

Were starting to feel a bit more satisfied now, however Im keen to try the prata with vege curry ($5) from the Love and Care stall. In my hometown, we have a Love and Care van, and its good. So I had high expecations again! We stood there in line for ages, Im really not sure what we were waiting for, as the guy was making prata after prata and we just werent getting served any. They were in NO rush at all to feed anyone, and the line got longer... then people left... then it got longer again... we were right up the front so werent about to go anywhere, and I was pretty happy watching the guy make the pratas!

We finally got our order, thankfully the prata was freshly made! It didnt look much, but it was really tasty! S had amazingly decided against a curry (there was an indian stand there) but getting a taste of this curry gave him a smile. It was a really flavourful curry that was great to be mopped up by the prata. Worth the wait!

We wanted to get a burrito but the wait was LONG, there was a huge stack of orders that you could see in their prep area, waiting to be made, and we figured that it was going to take at least 20mins once we'd placed our order, and so we decided to head over for something sweet instead. We didnt fancy something has heacy as a crepe, and so we headed over to the raw food stall to grab a choc and beetroot brownie. They were pretty big, but were $5 which I thought was a bit steep, S opted for the spiced banana slice ($4). The brownie wasnt a brownie at all it was just cake. Ive made just as good cakes at home so wasnt overly impressed. The spiced banana slice was cake as well, quite heavy and dense - S makes better banana bread! Pretty underwhelmed really... Shoulda gone for a crepe!

They were also selling those spiral potato things, for $5 each. Rip off. Deep fried potato on a stick. But alot of people were buying them, and considering how much their operational costs would be, those guys would have made a killing! They were also at the CHOGM Peoples Space as well. Big weekend for them!

Overall we loved the markets, and the vibe surrounding it. Everyone was just having a feed and a good time, there were kids everywhere, families, couples, oldies and teenagers. The food was reasonably priced and we didnt have to wait too long for most things. There was a great variety of food there from all over, plenty for the meat loves and vegos alike! Its great that they've decided to make this a weekly event until March 2012 - you should definately check it out this coming friday!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hyderabadi Minced Lamb with Orange - Madhur Jaffrey, The Ultimate Curry Bible

With some mince and oranges to use up, this recipe by Madhur Jaffrey from the Ultimate Curry Bible was the one I chose for dinner the other night. She wrote that its not like anything shes ever tasted before, and shes right! An unusual but tasty curry with that comfort element of saucy mince meant this was a dinner I would make again!


1 large orange
1 tsp ground turmeric 
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp corn or peanut oil
2 medium onions, peeled & sliced into fine half rings
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander 
4 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed
2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled & finely grated
4 tbsp natural yoghurt
900g minced lamb
0.5 tsp ground turmeric
0.5 tsp cayenne pepper
250 ml fresh orange juice
1.5 tsp salt
1-3 fresh hot green chillies, sliced into very fine rounds
30 g fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
30 g fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp garam masala

Peel off the orange rind, making sure to leave the white pith behind. Cut the rind into very fine 1-inch long julienne strips.

Combine the turmeric and salt with 1.5 litres of water in a pan and bring to the boil. Pour half into a measuring jug and reserve. Add the rind to the boiling liquid in the pan and boil rapidly for 1 minute. Empty the pan through a sieve and set over the sink. Pour the reserved turmeric water back into the pan and bring back to the boil. Put the rind back into the pan and boil again for a minute, then again strain through the sieve set over the sink. Rinse the rind under cold running water and set aside. 

Pour the oil into a large non-stick lidded pan set over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, stir in the onions and fry for 6-7 minutes or until reddish-brown.

Add the cumin and coriander and stir for 30 seconds. 

 Add the ginger and garlic. Stir and fry for a minute. 

Add the yoghurt, a tablespoon at a time, and stir it in, making sure it absorbed before adding more. 

Put in the meat, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes, breaking up all the lumps in the meat. Add the orange juice, orange rind and salt. Stir and bring to a simmer. 

Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 40 minutes. Add the chillies, coriander, mint and garam masala. Stir to mix. Cover and continue to cook gently for a further 10 minutes.

I served this curry up with some home made flatbreads that you can find on this post, and some coriander from the garden for S. I hate the stuff, just the smell makes me whinge. S served his own up which is why its a ridiculous portion (he always does this with curry and regrets it).

This curry was pretty different, as you can certainly taste the orange and its not something youre used to tasting in your curries. S and I both enjoyed it, and would make it again if we had spare oranges laying around (which we often do...). It would be awesome wrapped up in some parathas with kachumber salad (in fact if I make it again I would much prefer it done this way!) or put into some sort of samosa. Its not too difficult to make, you just have to make sure you have everything prepared and ready to go at the start to make it as stress free as possible!

Its a different use of mince and oranges thats for sure!

Cauliflower and Cumin Fritters - Yotam Ottolenghi, Ottolenghi; The Cookbook

We always get cauliflowers and I never know what to do with them... I grew up with them being covered with white sauce and cheese then having the bejeezus grilled out of them. Dont get me wrong, I love cauliflower cheese! But you cant have that all the time... and you need some variety! So I stumbed upon this recipe and thought Id give it a try - my first Ottolenghi recipe! Its from his first book, "Ottolenghi".

 Cauliflower and Cumin Fritters with Lime Yoghurt
Serves 4


For the fritters
1 small cauliflower (about 320g)
120g plain flour
3 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley plus a few extra leaves to garnish
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 free range eggs
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
500ml sunflower oil for frying

For the lime yoghurt
300g Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander with a couple of leaves reserved to garnish
grated zest of 1 lime
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Make the yoghurt sauce first by whisking the ingredients (reserving a little oil and sprig of coriander) all together in a bowl. Put aside in the fridge, pour over a little oil and sprinkle with a couple of leaves of coriander to serve.
2. Prepare the cauliflower by removing the leaves and dividing into small florets. Cooking in a large pan of simmering salted water for around 15 minutes until soft. Drain.
3. Meanwhile, whisk together in a bowl the eggs, flour, parsley, garlic, shallots, spices, salt and pepper. When mixed well, add the soft warm cauliflower and stir breaking down the cauliflower into the batter.

 mmm spices and parsley!

 batter without cauliflower

 batter with the cauliflower

4. Heat the sunflower oil (at a depth of 1.5cm) in a wide pan and heat.  When very hot, spoon 3 tbsp worth blobs of batter carefully into the oil to cook.  Avoid overcrowding them, cook maybe 3 at a time spacing them apart with a fish slice.  Fry for 3-4 minutes each side then remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.
5. Serve immediately with the yoghurt sauce.

This pic is obviously served without the sauce because we ate it, I didnt make much of it, we gobbled up the fritters and then I remembered to take a pic of them once they were cold! Oooops!

They were quite nice, but a bit heavy. Id say thats because I only had 2 eggs to use and the recipe asks for 4...... again, oooops! If I made them again Id go easy on the tumeric, I could taste too much of it and it was all I could taste. Its a good recipe to use I think, if you wanna get veges in the kids without them knowing (or your bf for that matter!). Id be tempted to see how they cook in the oven, not fried, to make them a bit healthier?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Flatbreads - Nigella Lawson, How to be a Domestic Goddess

I had a day off, it was raining, S was at uni all day and I didnt feel like doing much so I thought Id get stuck into some things in the kitchen! I chose a curry from Madhur Jaffreys Ultimate Curry Bible, and thought that rather than going to the shops to buy naan, Id just make it myself. I had heard many good things about Nigella Lawsons flatbread recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess, so figured Id give it a try!

They turned out really well, I made a few mistakes with them but they were very forgiving! I left them to rise way too long during the first rise, then left them for like 2 hours until I cooked them rather than 20mins... still fine! I didnt use the glaze either, rather ended up finding that putting the garlic oil on the dough before it went in the oven the best option for us!

I also used a granite stone that had been preheated in the oven for about half an hour - they were hot enough that within about 15 seconds of putting the dough on them they started to bubble up! I had the flatbreads on a piece of baking paper, on a wooden cutting board, and they slid easily into the hot oven. It also made for easy retrieval.

I apologise for the lack of pictures, I had dough and flour on my hands and I didnt want to touch my camera in that state!

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 7g (1 sachet) easy-blend yeast or 15g fresh yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing (I used garlic oil)
  • Approximately 300ml warm water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon nigella seeds
  • 2 baking sheets


Serves: Makes 6
  1. Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl and make a well. Dollop the yoghurt and oil into a measuring jug and add warm water to come up to the 350ml mark. Give a quick beat with a fork to combine, then pour this liquid into the dry ingredients, and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon, adding more liquid as needed, to form a firm but soft dough (I used the dough hook...)
  2.  Turn out onto a floured surface (or set your mixer and dough hook to work) and start kneading. Add more flour as needed until you've got a smooth, supple and elastic dough. Form the dough into a ball, grease a bowl and turn the dough in it so it's lightly oiled all over. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to rise for about an hour or so, until doubled in size. 
 I accidentally left it for about 2.5 hours, it rose so much it stuck to the clingfilm! Oops! 

Punch the dough down, then leave to rest for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220ºC/gas mark 7. Tear the dough into 3, and then halve each piece. Form each of these 6 little pieces into an egg-shape and, one by one, roll them out to make a flat, elongated, if irregular oval. Place on baking sheets about 3cm apart, cover with tea towels and leave to prove for 20 minutes, until puffy. 

Using the blunt side of an ordinary kitchen knife, draw diagonal parallel lines across the loaves about 2 centimetres apart. Do the same now the other direction, so you've got a loose criss-cross.

Beat the egg with the water and yoghurt and, using a pastry brush, paint this over the breads. Sprinkle on the nigella seeds and bake in the hot oven for 8-10 minutes, by which time the loaves will be golden, puffed up in places and cooked through.

 This one didnt have the oil on it, it was a test run - it comes out pretty well if you brush it with oil afterwards too.

Remove them from the oven and drape immediately and for a few minutes with a tea towel so that these small, flat, breads don't dry up and get too crusty.

Ill definately make these again, they were pretty easy, good for an afternoon of pottering in the kitchen!