Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Melbourne - Brunswick St, Fitzroy

After a very long day wandering around Melbourne, we ended up on Brunswick St, Fitzroy. We had planned to check this street out as we'd read about the variety of cafes, bars, and shopping and so were very keen to see what it was all about! We'd just gone to Queen Victoria Market (an amazing place and worthy of its own post!), and so we walked from there. Turns out that day we walked about 7km, for some reason we had an aversion to the trams (more likely, S thought places were much closer than they actually were on the map!).

We got to the very start of the street, and started to walk up it. For the first 500m there was really nothing and we were wondering why on earth we'd bothered as there was nothing here. We found a cool cafe called Slowpoke, a cool urban space in amongst gritty laundromats and abandoned buildings. The feature wall is very cool, made of recycled wood which doubles as shelves which gives the place almost a log cabin feeling. Its decorated with old bottles and knick knacks and it makes the place feel alot warmer amongst the cement floors and low lighting.

We ordered a coffee each and they came out quickly. As was becoming standard, the coffee looked great with the creamy swirls, as well as backing the aesthetics up with great tasting coffee. 

We had been walking for ages and so sitting down  here was just what we needed. It was peaceful, the staff were attentive without being intrusive, and they had local papers and magazines to read while we sipped our, again, delicious coffees. I wandered out the back to find the ladies, and discovered they have a tiny courtyard out the back, as well as little tables lining the hall leading outside. Very secluded and private, and really cute. Even the toilet was cute.

Slowpoke had a great looking menu and provides a quiet relief from the hustle and bustle of the main drag of Brunswick St. Should we live in the area Id say it'd become a local, for sure!

 Slowpoke on Urbanspoon

After Slowpoke we wandered further down the road to where the action was, and we were overwhelmed with choice! We checked out a shop called Polyester Books - Totally Weird Shit, which did indeed have weird shit in there - books, magazine etc, and the owner and her friend having a chat with weird too, not the kinda conversations that are conducive to a friendly shop environment! 

We found a warehouse selling crazy discounted Allanah Hill clothes, shoes, and accessories, plus a bunch of other things! I came out with a bag, shoes and a bangle for less than $50 and the shoes cost $45 of that! S got a fedora that hes been wanting for ages - trying to find one that suits him is hard, but we got one!

Walking down the road I was struck by how similar this area was to Amsterdam. The trams, the old buildings, graffiti, modern eye catching buildings in between... There were people on bikes and the general vibe was very similar, its just alot more spread out in Fitzroy than in Amsterdam! This is probably why I felt so at home here...

We wandered down the road and back again, and found a fab little place called Naked for Satan. S had read about a place that serves tiny tapas for cheap, and this was the place. These tiny tapas are called pintxos and are bite sizes morsels of goodness! These guys had shelves set up with both vegetarian and meaty bites - all a piece of baguette topped with something. They work on an honesty system, and all the pintxos are held together with a toothpick - you keep the toothpicks and based on how many you have, you pay at the end. Sometimes theyre only 80c!! Such a bargain...

The first plate we went with (L) had bread with; smoked salmon, onion and dill, caramalised onions, anchovie and olive, cream cheese, roast beetroot and walnut, and cream cheese, chorizo and chilli. They were all really nice, a fave being the onion and beetroot ones. S went back and had a couple more (R) getting the smoked mussel and chickpea puree, and roast veges, lettuce and balsamic. I dont like mussels anyway, so cant comment, but the salad one was fine. Nothing outta this world, but nice n fresh after some rich flavours. All up they cost us $16, which was decent. It would certainly be a better deal going there for lunch when you can get them for 80c! At the time we were there, it was pretty empty, but that was at about 3pm. We didnt really feel inclined to stay for a drink afterwards, but thats mainly because there were so many other places for us to go and explore! The story of how the place got its name is written on their kitschy menus, and in the middle of the room is a big copper distilling set up, which looks cool. The ceiling has all kinds of weird and wonderful creations hanging from it, looking like theyre made from scrap metals and bits and pieces. This would be a place I would come when I was poor and hungry, getting a few nibbles and then moving on - apparently when its busier they come around with hot pintxos which would have been great as all of ours were cold. A great place with a different angle!

Naked For Satan on Urbanspoon

We had filled the holes in our stomaches, and were ready to wander. We passed plenty of generic looking menus, with a few interesting things, but we usually go for tapas and tasting plates, and finding something a bit different can be difficult because theyre very often all the same... We wandered past dingy looking bars that would likely have been packed at night time (when you dont notice how run down they are!), a place we didnt know if it was a garden shop or a bar, and a cafe/bar/restaurant that sold "thrice fried chips". Yes they actually used the word thrice. So we had to go in and have a go! The place was called St Judes and it had a really nice vibe inside, big shared tables and benches, green plants everywhere and there was alot of space. I had a local cider and S tried a new Polish beer they had started stocking, on recommendation from our waiter. Our drinks came out pretty fast, and our chips soon after. They didnt come with any sauce so we asked for some aioli, which they didnt have. They offered us mayo which was fine, but it never came. So we asked another waitress who looked at us like we were asking for something really weird. We eventually got it though... S wasnt a fan of his beer, just cos it was a bit tasteless, and my cider was fine, nothing to write home about. The chips, being thrice fried, couldve done with just the 2nd fry really... they were cripsy for sure, but a bit overdone. They needed more seasoning, and needed to be thicker, in my opinion... 

The rest of the menu at St Judes looks fantastic, and would head back for sure, for a more substantial meal, but would pass on the thrice fried chips in future! Unneccesary.

St Jude's Cellars on Urbanspoon

Finally, after more wandering, we ended up at The Alchemist, the lure of outdoor tables and tapas too much for us to resist! The prospect of people watching, tapas, cocktails and a clear balmy evening was just what we needed after such a long day. Our waiter was a friendly scottish guy who sat down and had a chat with us, asked us where we were from, what were we doing over here, what do we do... really friendly! We checked out the menu, both for tapas and cocktails, and needed a bit of time! The menu was seperated into single bites, bigger bites, salads, bar snacks, as well as degustations menus, and antipasto platters. To start off with we went for the bechamel, jalapeno and parmesan croquettes and the crostinis, with hommus, crispy prosciutto, chorizo, shredded apple, Japanese mayo & caviar. 

The croquettes were awesome!! I have missed these since I lived in Amsterdam, and while they werent the same as the ones I used to get from the snackbar, they were still great. They were nice and crunchy with a soft potato/bechamel inside, they were spicy and really peppery, and the cheese gave it something extra. We both loved it. I could have done with a little less heat or pepper, as it was a pretty dominant flavour, though a flavour we both liked! 

The crostinis were pretty great - the waiter told us we shouldnt share one, to definately get 2 as they go fast and we'll want more! I really liked these crostinis, however I thought there was a bit too much mayo, and my first taste of caviar resulted in me deciding I didnt really like it much. I hated how it pops in your mouth, it grosses me out just thinking about it! However the rest of it was really nice, the apple was needed to counter the saltiness of the chorizo and the rich mayo.  

I ordered a couple of sangrias from their cocktail menu - for $15. They have a cool cocktail menu set out like an alchemists lab, with the flavours and aromas listed. I thought the sangria was going to come in a big glass, which is what the menu implied, however it just came in a red wine glass... It was nice and I had a couple of them but Im not sure they were really worth $15. The food was really well priced however the drinks were expensive... The cheapest glass of wine was $10 so I figured I may as well go for the cocktail!

After a few drinks we ordered some more... the peking duck pancake and the patatas bravas. I didnt bother to take a pic of the potatoes because they were pretty underwhelming - cubed potatoes, fried, served with a mildly spicy sauce on the side. We could have ordered something way cooler - we were expecting spiced potatoes or something more exciting...

 The pancake was great though - pretty decent size and full of duck! It was seasoned really nicely, the hoisin sauce was tasty and it was packed full of tomato, cucumber and other refreshing goodies. Ill admit by this stage, Id had a few drinks and the nuances of the pancake are a little bit hazy... But I remember that I liked it!

The Alchemist Cocktail Bar on Urbanspoon

Overall S and I both agreed that Brunswick St was our favourite part of Melbourne that we visited on this trip. It was alive, vibrant, had such a huge variety of shops, cafes, resturants, you could sit in any kind of place you felt comfortable and people watch for hours. There were a few places that I loved the look of, corner delis where you could get platters to order from whatever cold cuts and cheeses you liked the looks of, thumping live music bars, super cheap pizzas and pricey bistros. I loved it. It was a fantastic end to a first day in Melbourne!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Melbourne - St Kilda

My bf and I went to Melbourne for a celebratory long weekend after his birthday and finishing his masters degree. We hadnt made many plans aside from eating and drinking, walking around exploring and figuring out what to see next!

One of the days was spent in St Kilda, by the water and on the famous Acland St, renowned for its cakes! I had this street recommended to me if I liked cake. Who DOESNT like cake? I also met an old friend there for lunch. (HINT - scroll down for cake!)

We took the tram from our hotel and got off at the esplanade, as we had planned to meet my friend at The Espy, a live music venue for a few drinks and lunch. The Espy is by the harbour, but you cant really see the water... There was a market over the road which sold all manner of homemade wares such as candles, jewellery, pictures and clothes, none of which really interested S or myself. We found the Espy easy enough and its looked pretty dingy. Plastic chairs n old tables, it was shabby chic without the chic. It was pretty big inside and its got uite a few different rooms for all the live bands they have there all the time. On the previous friday they had 5 bands on! There were plenty of alternative types there, and next door they have the Espy Kitchen, which serves up pretty standard pub grub, but it was all pretty cheap! We ended up eating somewhere else, but the servings looked massive and we both agreed that this would be a good place for a cheap hangover feed when you needed it!

The Esplanade Hotel (Espy Kitchen) on Urbanspoon

We decided not to eat here though, and headed around to Acland St to find something delicious. We ended up at Bluecorn, a mexican place that was busy and smelled great! The menu wasnt too long but had enough different options to suit everyone who might be there. They had sangria for $8 a glass that they made in house, and a good beer list, which suited S. I went with the cacao mole lamb ribs, with grilled red pepper and tomato sauce, which was $13.50 on the specials menu - I went with the main course size which ended up being $27. S ordered the "too big to wrap" burrito, and my friend got the smoked ocean trout quesadilla. We were advised not to get any sides with these meals as they were big! Our waitress was right, both the burrito and quesadilla were huge portions! They were both filled with black beans, guacamole, meat, cheese, sour cream - the lot! They looked delicious. I was a bit jealous, as my ribs just came as ribs, nothing else. The quesadilla, we all agreed wasnt was any of us expected, as it looked the same as the burrito - thought it would have been flatter but it was a huge mound of filling! The sangria was really sweet and not really to my taste, I think it was filled out with lemonade which I dont like because its too sweet - soda water I can live with.

I didnt take any pics, because I was with  an old friend and we were talking and I just forgot really... My meal was ok, but based on that I wouldnt go back - however Id go back to try the burritos/quesadillas cos, while huge, they looked great. All up with 3 main courses, and 3 drinks it was about $100 which, for lunch, is pricey really. It was about $25+ per main.

Bluecorn on Urbanspoon

But the real fun started when we said goodbye to the mate, and went exploring the cake shops! Acland St is famous for its cakes, and we didnt go away disappointed at all! The choice is monumental. 

Its a little bit ridiculous! But AWESOME if you love cake! We love cake...

We ended up choosing the more upmarket looking 95 Espresso. The cakes in the window werent as numerous but looked amazing.

I apologise for the poor quality of the pics but the fluorescent lights dont really help out the old camera phone!  But they all looked amazing, great colours, beautifully presented... Along with the gorgeous cakes, the sign that said they had been voted the best coffee in st kilda by Beanhunter was another winner. Best coffee in a burb known for great coffee? Winner! I chose the salted cashew caramel slice and S chose the flourless chocolate brownie, and shared a coffee (I know it was the best coffee in St Kilda, but we had been drinking ALOT of coffee! I have my limits!). For a start the service was really good, the waiter was friendly and smiley, he looked stoked to be there. He got our coffee quickly, and it looked fab. Its not really standard in Perth to get any kinda coffee art on your flat white, but in Melbourne it is. This looked so nice - and the little sugar bottles were cute, I thought it was a really nice little touch!

The coffee was really really good. It was creamy without being too milky. It wasnt too bitter, it was pretty much just as I like it. Ill be honest though, we had the coffee for about 2mins before the cakes came out, and I kinda forgot about the coffee - so thats not really a great description! At the end of the day... great coffee!

But the cakes... WOW! My salted cashew caramel slice was heavy going, alot of caramel but DELICIOUS! The caramel wasnt toothmeltingly sweet, it was buttery, creamy and rich. Not easy to eat with a fork, I just picked it up and bit into it. Crunchy nuts, and crumble... a buttery biscuit base... caramel... love at first bite.

S fell in love with his flourless choccake. It was dense, rich, chocolatey... the swirl on top was cherry sauce which gave it a black forest cake feeling, and the cream lightened the dense chocolate perfectly. It was really good... S didnt talk for a while, as is his habit when hes got something delicious in front of him!

You get 50c off your coffee if you check in on facebook, which is a cool incentive! The place is clean and spacious enough, the staff were friendly and attentive and the coffee/cake were great. It was pretty pricey though, with 2 cakes and 1 coffee coming to $17 (the coffee was $3.50), but for a once in a while treat it was totally worth it. I took the other half of my slice away with me for the flight home, and the staff were more than happy to take it and bag it up. The bags are even cool, waxed paper inside, and sealable. Nice. Id go back here in a flash!

St Kilda is pretty cool, with Acland st having a real beachy feel to it (even though the beaches are average), with PLENTY of places to eat. There is a cool community garden around the corner and an oval where S and I laid in the sun n read a book for a while to recover from our food coma! Its a cool place, and Id love to go back there again!

95 Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Babaganouj and beetroot dip!

As a part of my little sisters Girls Night In celebrations, in raising funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, I provided about half the food for her, and part of that was a bunch of dips! One of them was a romesco sauce, and the recipe for that can be found here. I make this all the time as the ingredients are cheap and readily available, and its so easy...

The other 2 dips I made were babaganouj and beetroot, both super easy, managable and delicious! Most of the ingredients you throw in the oven and roast, then blend it with a few other ingredients. Youll never buy bought dips again! Well, you probably will, but these are so delicious youll make more than you need so you can keep more for yourself!

1 eggplant
2 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Greek yoghurt
half tsp sumac

1) Prick the eggplant all over with a knife, place it whole, on a baking tray with the garlic (unpeeled) and then in a hot oven for 15-20mins, or until the eggplant has softened. You can put the garlic under the eggplant if you can to protect it from burning more, otherwise rub the garlic with some oil and tuck it under the eggplant as much as you can. Take them out and let em cool.

2) Put the sesame seeds in a fairly hot pan to toast. Once they start popping take them straight off the hob, as the residual heat in the pan will continue to cook the seeds, and if you leave it on the heat youll burn them, and if you take them too far, chuck them out and start again. Once they're nicely toasted, pop them in the blender/mixmaster/another container until everything else is ready.

3) Once the eggplant and garlic are cool, peel them both and pop them both in the blender. The eggplant should have deflated and look a bit shrivelled and sorry for itself, and the skin should be easy to peel off. If, while cooking in the oven, youve burnished the flesh of the eggplant - dont worry about it, that adds to the smokey flavour. However if you feel like you might have overdone the sesame seeds then leave a few of the browner bits of the eggplant out. Dont chuck them out though, you can add them later if you feel like the dip can take it - if youre like me youll just chuck the lot in!

4) Add salt and pepper as well as the sumac, to the blender which should have the eggplant, garlic, and sesame seeds. Add the yoghurt to the mix - some like the dip more eggplanty, some like it creamier and smoother - this is where you add as much as you like. Add 1 tbsp and blend, then taste. Its up to you if you add more or leave it. You can also use tahini, a sesame seed paste, however I dont use it because I dont like it much and prefer the lightness that yoghurt gives, but try it for yourself!

Beetroot dip
4 beetroots
half tsp cumin
salt and pepper

1) Wrap each beetroot in foil with a shlug of oil, and place in a hot oven for about an hour.

2) Take the beetroots out and let them cool a bit. Youll find you can peel the skins off fairly easily (the fresher they are, the more easily the skin comes off). 

WARNING! Beetroot can stain your hands and clothes big time - some wear gloves when peeling them as the skin and colour gets under your nails and stains them for the night (unless you spend some time scrubbing).

3) Chop the beetroots up and throw them in the blender with the S&P and cumin. Add the yoghurt as you like it, some like this to be a chunky dark purple dip, others like it to be a creamier bright pink! Add it tablespoon by tablespoon until it tastes how you like it. Its delicious served with toasted pinenuts or walnuts and crumbled fetta with flatbreads.

Both these dips can be used as a dip or on polenta, mini toasts etc as canapes, which is what I did for my sisters party. Not a great pic below, but you get the idea! Id had a couple of glasses of bubbly by this stage and so the presentation was a little bit lacking!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Duende - Leederville

Finally - I got paid. Id had no money for weeks, and I finally got some moolah. S has been studying hard for his final exams in his masters, and so I decided to take us out for breakky in Leederville. We'd been to Sayers before and I didnt fancy risking the wait, so I decided on Duende, the tapas bar across the road from Sayers. 

It was really quiet. 2 other couples in there, so we took a quiet spot on the booth and our waitress came straight out with water and asked for our coffee orders (in agreeance with Breakfast in Perth blog - big fan of them asking for coffee straight away, does anyone ever really read the coffee menu? Everyone knows what they want, straight away).

We had a look at the menu, and to be honest, breakfast options are kinda limited. They dont have a big breakfast like most other places do, which is often a safe bet if youre taking someone kinda fussy out. In saying that they do have bacon and eggs, and the options you do have are interesting.


7:30am – 4pm

house made bakes
watermelon, strawberry, apple & mint salad – 13
bircher muesli – 8
sourdough, rye or fruit toast strawberry butter – 6
rye toast, guacamole & tomato salsa – 14
organic eggs anyway, shulz bacon – 16
merguez sausage, capsicum, feta & baked egg – 16
crab, chorizo & spring onion omelette – 17
croque monsieur - 14
corn fritter, hot smoked salmon, asparagus, egg – 19.5
caramelised pumpkin, eggplant & feta tart – 17
char grilled vegetable salad, couscous, labne – 15

S went for the bacon and eggs, and I chose the sausage, capsicum, fetta and baked egg. I was looking at the croque monsieur wondering how on earth can they make a ham and cheese toasty be worth $14?? Beyond me. 

Our coffees came out, they're kinda small, but they're tasty. Creamy milk, not too much froth (I always have a skinny FW - am dismayed by how often its got a load of froth on top), and nice smooth coffee underneath. I toyed with ordering another after Id finished but thought better of it.

Our meals came out quite quickly, and we were both pretty pleased with what we got. S had plenty of bacon and 2 eggs, toast and french butter. I had the same toast as him and it looked a bit stingy. I would have thought Duende would use nicer bread. It seemed to be just toasted sandwich bread. I was under the impression they used Organic Loafers bread, but they dont. They tell you the brands they use for alot of other things, Schultz bacon, Cackleberry eggs, but nothing about the bread.

Mine looked impressive, as well as being a decent serve! 2 eggs, 2 sausages, chunky potato, lotsa capsicums and melted fetta sprinkled throughout! 1 piece of toast with french butter. I really enjoyed mine, the eggs were almost perfectly cooked - the whites were a bit too runny in places which grosses me out, but it wasnt too bad. The sausage was spicy and peppery, which went really well with the sweetness of the peppers and the creamy potato. Another piece of the small toast would have been nice, to scoop up the mish mash of goodness in my little baking tray!

Overall we enjoyed our meal at Duende, the staff were friendly, the food came out fairly quickly and we enjoyed our meals. They use locally roasted Dark Star beans, and made a good brew. We looked at the menu for tapas and we'd be back to try some of those for sure! The wine list is great, though pricey, and all the bottles are displayed all over the bar, and it makes you want to drink something! It gets really busy on the weekends and our waitress told us that you should book a week in advance in you want to be seated if youre more than 2 or 3, otherwise wednesday at the latest. I think its a bit overpriced, but that seems to be the norm in Perth, so prices are standard for an upmarket hip n happenin place (Im aware that if you actually use the term hip n happenin, youre not actually cool, I accept that).

Duende on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dark choc and buttermilk pancakes with green apple and orange caramel sauce

Another one of the dishes served at my Breakfast with Benefits was the dark chocolate and buttermilk hotcakes with green apples and an orange caramel sauce - they went down a real treat!

It was a very thick batter and they took a while to cook, which didnt make my life very easy when I had to make so many! The apples were thinly sliced and served with the pancakes. The bitter chocolate, the doughy pancake with the crispy tart apple and the thick sweet caramel together is a match made in heaven! This was one of the most popular items on the menu!

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • Half block dark chocolate grated or chopped 
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus some for the pan, or oil spray.
  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, chocolate, and 4 tablespoons butter; whisk to combine. Batter should have small to medium lumps.
  2. Using a pastry brush, brush remaining 1/2 teaspoon of butter or give the pan a spray with oil. Wipe off excess.
  3. Using a ladle, about 1/2 cup, pour pancake batter, in pools 2 inches away from one other. When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around edges, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.
  4. Repeat with remaining batter, keeping finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in oven. Serve warm.
Orange caramel sauce


1) Into a pan, pour a thin layer of sugar to just cover the bottom, and wait until it starts to melt. Give it a stir until its all melted.
2) Add another thin layer of sugar and wait till it melts a bit and give it a stir - make sure you get all the crystals from the edges of the pan.
3) Repeat steps until you have enough caramel.
4) Add a good splosh of cream and stir - if the sugar siezes, you have to remelt the sugar, so just keep stirring.
5) Add the juice of the orange and some of the zest, and allow to cool off.
6) Pour over pancakes and thinly sliced green apples.

Thanks to Carol Anne for the pics!
This is also my entry into the We Should Cocoa blog comp!  Each month either The Chocolate Pot or Chocolate Log Blog will nominate an ingredient that you must use in conjunction with some kind of chocolate. This month its apples!

Homemade baked beans

This was a popular dish with many asking for the recipe! It's quite simple but requires a bit of pre planning if you're using fresh beans. You can use canned beans but they won't have the same bite that fresh ones have. The fresh ones have a better flavour as well. This is one of those everyday foods, where you can cook up a big batch on sunday and make it last through the week!

Ingredients to serve 2
2 cups dried cannelini beans
3 good sized tomatoes
2 celery sticks
1-2 cloves garlic
1 onion
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 tsp mustard (use your favourite kind but not the sweet bavarian kind) 
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp dried thyme/1 sprig fres
1 can tomatoes
Bbq sauce to taste

1) Put the beans in a container and put double the amount of water in to cover them and leave them to soak overnight. They will double in size
2) Drain the beans and rinse once, do not use the soaking liquid for cooking, I've been told it causes gas!
3) In a pan, cover beans with water and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 1-2 hours until they've softened. Dont cook them until they're really soft, as they will cook again when you make the sauce. 
4) Drain the beans again.
5) Add all the other ingredients, give it a stir and let it simmer for 15mins, then taste it, and adjust the flavours to suit you.

If its too vinegary - add some brown sugar, or vice versa. Its important to strike a balance but you do need some tang! Add chilli if you wish. We used a homemade bbq sauce from a friend of S, so you can use what you like. Chutney would give it an interesting twist as well!

I served it piled high with sausages and bacon! If you want to you can add crispy bacon into the beans, which is common - and would be delicious! I was serving it with bacon anyway so didnt bother!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Baked spiced ricotta w/walnuts, raw honey and boozy fruits

As a part of my 5 course set menu I did for the Breakfast with Benefits, the first one that I presented my guests with was a baked spiced ricotta, with walnuts, raw honey and boozy fruits!

Its a really simple, healthy recipe that gives you a filling and delicious breakfast or snack for the week. It really is an everyday food, as you can be really creative with the flavourings you include in the mix, as well as the things you serve it with. You wont get sick of it if you change the flavours from week to week! Its high in protein and low in sugar and fat - a perfect, healthy, low carb breakfast if you pair it with the right stuff!

Heres the recipe, adapted from one by Janella Purcell:

1kg fresh ricotta (better to get it from the deli counter as I did)
2 free range eggs
1tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp honey
Walnuts to serve
1 good handful of dried fruits (I used flame/golden raisins and cranberries)
30ml Cointreau

1) Preheat the oven to 150C and take your dried fruits and put them in a container to soak with the cointreau. Overnight is best!
2) Mix ricotta, eggs, honey and cinnamon in a bowl, making sure its well combined.
3) Pour into a loaf tin and cover with foil. Place the loaf tin in a bain marie (a roasting pan with water coming halfway up the side of the loaf tin)
4) Cook for 1 hour, or until its firm to the touch.
5) Take the ricotta out of the oven, and leave it to cool completely, before turning it out onto a plate or board.
6) To serve, sprinkle with walnuts, a generous pour of honey, and the soaked fruits with the rest of the cointreau (test it first though, if its been soaked overnight its not so boozy but if you only soaked them for an hour it might be a different story!)
7) Enjoy spread over toasted sourdough, or with grilled fruit and toast.

Photo from Breakfast with Benefits, c/o Carol Annes Kitchen

Ice cream base!

We have some full fat Bannister Downs milk and cream left from the Breakfast with Benefits, as well as a bunch of fruits - so I decided to make some ice cream and flavour it with mango!

Its such a simple recipe - you can use a machine or just freeze it (Ill explain more about that later!). Ice creams are basically just a custard base with flavours added to it. Any recipe for custard will do, but this one is super easy! For a richer mix, use egg yolks rather than whole eggs - up to you though!

Heres the recipe:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  •  500ml double cream
  • 250ml full fat milk
  • 1 vanilla pod/splosh of vanilla essence
Now, you can fiddle with the amounts of cream and milk, as long as its full cream. If you choose to use skim/low fat milk it still tastes great, but its not as creamy and youll have more ice crystals forming, which isnt what you want from your ice cream!

1) Heat the milk and cream up in a pan (do not boil) with the vanilla pod, take off the heat and leave to steep for the time it takes you complete the next step.
2) Cream the eggs and sugar together until theyre ribbony and pale yellow.

3) Add a cups worth/ladle full of the warm milk into the eggs and whisk - this is to get the eggs at a temperature closer to that of the milk.
4) Pour the egg mixture into the warm milk little by little and whisk - you dont want your eggs to hit the milk and scramble!
5) Pour into your ice cream maker as per the instructions!

Now, if you dont have an ice cream maker that is fine - you can make just as delicious, creamy ice cream without one, its just more labour intensive, sort of! The only thing you have to do is to put it in a container and stick it in the freezer instead of the machine and leave it for an hour. Come back to it and beat it until the ice crystals are gone - thats the secret, to beat it every so often to get rid of the crystals! The more often you do this, the better, and the higher the fat content of your ingredients the less often you need to do it (because theres less water in there). You should do it 2 or 3 times though, to incorporate more air and bust those crystals! 

In terms of flavouring, you can use anything you like really, thats the beauty of the blank canvas that is ice cream base! If you want to add wet ingredients, add them before you put the mix into the machine, or into the freezer. Ive blitzed the flesh of 2 fat juicy mangoes and added it to the machine with the base.

Blended mango goodness

If you want to add dry ingredients you should add them later on in the process (biscuits/maltesers/meringues etc) as they will just break up and you wont get a chunky texture. If its something like berries or nuts you should add them later so they dont all sink to the bottom of the mix, as well as coating them in icing sugar. 

There are soooo many different flavours, you just need to experiment! Pouring in melted chocolate and stirring gives you stracciatlla (choc chip), pureed fruit, broken up chocolate bars, grilled fruits, caramels... The choice is yours! I have made chocolate orange ice cream by Nigella Lawson and it was outta this world!

Once you make ice cream for the first time you will never look back!!

Breakfast with Benefits - DONE!

On november 5th, I held a NBCF Breakfast with Benefits event at my place, for 20 people.

I had so much fabulous produce donated, and I got plenty of change from $100, which was awesome to feed 20 people, 5 courses, plus coffee, tea and juices.

Amazing donations from Bannister Downs, The Organic Collective, The Naked Butcher and Mondos

The weather wasnt really being cooperative, and so I had to call in gazebo covers from friends and bought a tarp - which saved the day big style! It rained quite a bit toward the end of the day and considering it was all outside, that wasnt ideal - but the guests were all in good spirits and I could hear alot of laughter coming from both tables!

The first course was a baked spiced ricotta, with walnuts, organic raw honey and cointreau soaked fried fruits, served with Organic Loafers super soughdough. This course got alot of oooh and a aahs when I bought it out which was great!  Steve came into the kitchen asking how it was meant to be eaten lol for those unsure, its spread onto toast! Its a healthy protein filled breakfast - and very easy to make! Heres the post for the recipe!

The second course to come out was the big fry up! Homemade beans, Mondos pork sausages and Mondos nitrate free bacon. This was a hefty serving and everyone was very appreciative of having a nice big fat plate of hangover special! People were really impressed with all 3 elements of this dish - I had requests for the recipe for the beans, which you can find here, comments on how fabulous the bacon was and people asking "Where is Mondos? I want those sausages!". I got great service from Mondos too, the girl who served me asked me what I was doing with the meat, and when I told her she gave me a high 5 and told me her story about going to events similar, dressing up and having a great time there :)

Course number 3 were the buttermilk and dark choc hotcakes with fresh apple and an orange caramel sauce. Im not going to lie, these were a pain in the arse to make - they took a long time to cook! If I could do the event over I would choose a much lighter batter to use. When I finally bought them out though they went down a treat. My cousins bf exclamation of YES! When I bought more out was confirmation they were passable! S also loved them and has requested I make them again - funny as I thought they were the weakest menu item! People were pretty keen on that orange caramel sauce - adding the DELICIOUS Bannister Downs cream and sugar together, you cant go wrong really! The organic oranges from the Organic Collective certainly helped! The recipe for these beauties can be found here.

The 4th course was wilted spinach, scrambled Eggs by Ellah, and balsamic roast mushrooms. By this time about 5 people have had to go home, due to other commitments that day - so it was up the the rest to get stuck into this dish! The mushrooms went down well, but I knew they would, as I had gotten the recipe from Jason who is the owner/operator of the Urban Bakehouse in Clarkson - who makes an amazing funghi pizza! There were comments about the beautiful yellow colour of the eggs, and how creamy they were (thanks to Bannister Downs cream!).

The final course was a fruit platter including organic strawberries from the Organic Collective. This was a welcome platter to graze on for the rest of the afternoon, and would  have been much nicer should it have been a bit warmer! By this time the weather had started to take a turn for the worse, and we ended up moving inside to share fruit and bubbles!

I raffled off all my fabulous prizes, with everyone who was left at the end leaving with either Eggs by Ellah, or Bannister Downs cream or milk.  

The winners of the bigger prizes were:
Macaron class by Cook Learn Love: Julia Speight
El Asador hamper: Jenni Edwards
Moet et Chandon champagne: Jenni Edwards
The Naked Butcher bacon: Jemma Edwards
The Naked Butcher pork sausages: Carol Anne Rushe
The Naked Butcher $50 voucher: Micha Rauscher
2 x $25 Crust Gourmet Pizza Mt Lawley vouchers: Nicki aka Strawberrythief and Vanessa Bower
$30 Spencers Brook Farm voucher: Gemma Watts
Organic Loafers bread: Carol Anne Rushe and Healy
Pilates Fitness Institute of WA - Micha Rauscher

Carol Annes bounty!
All in all, we all raised $1200 for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, which is such a fantastic result!! My target was $500 and I reached that before the day of the event which was fantastic! The total raised for this event Australia wide has been almost $28 000! When I put my money in, I will be sitting THIRD in the highest amount of funds raised!

I have to send massive thanks to the fabulous producers and local businesses who generously donated their products and vouchers for such a great cause. I can very confidently say that the people who attended were impressed with the quality of the produce! Ive sent guests home with extra strawberries, Naked Butcher bacon and sausages, milk and eggs - So all my friends and their friends can try for themselves the wicked produce and producers we have right here in and around Perth.

El Asador Gourmet Products

Even bigger thanks go to my darling bf Steve who cleaned everything up and did ALL the dishes while I sat on the couch with wine once everyone had left, and my sister Jenni who helped doing incidental things throughout the day, and enduring me snapping at her telling her to ask me these questions from the other side of the kitchen bench aka get outta the kitchen! It turned out ok for her though, as from her $30 worth of raffle tickets she bought she won a bottle of Moet and the El Asador hamper!

I certainly learned alot about catering for people and after the event thought I could have done alot of things differently and had things turn out better. However with a bit of time, I look at the size of my kitchen, think about the fact that I cooked 5 courses for 20 people, approx 100 covers, in that tiny kitchen and I did it on my own pretty much... and the worst that happened was that sometimes things took longer than I expected, I think I did well. I learned alot, and I learned I was a bit overconfident and unrealistic in my abilities to churn out that amount of food in that amount of time. However everything was delicious, and I probably got everything out within about 30mins between courses. So, a bit slower than I planned, but everyone ate so fast! One friend announced that this was his first degustation ever! I never labelled it such but quite flattering that someone else saw fit to!

Finally thanks to Carol Anne who took the photos of the food for me, as I had no time to! They turned out beautifully and you should all take the time to check out her wonderful blog, Carol Annes Kitchen!

I would definately do this again - Ive learned alot, next time will be even better!! The guests got to have some fab local produce, we raised a bunch of money and everyone took something home! Great day, lets hope the weather plays ball next time!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Silent Auction - antique language book

Im holding a silent auction to raise funds for my Breakfast with Benefits event, raising funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. See my other posts about the raffle and the event itself for more details!

I have been donated quite a special item to auction off... An Italian/French phrasebook, printed in 1808.


This is a collectors item and the reserve price for it is $50. It was purchased in Italy in 2011 and is in good condition, though delicate. More pictures are available upon request.

Please send through your legitimate bids to my email address and I will keep the bids posted anonymously here on this blog, so you can check in and see how much its going for.

Please pass this post on to anyone who may be interested! The silent auction will be closed on the 10th of november, when I will notify the successful bidder, and we can arrange delivery.

Happy bidding!!

1) $50
2) $70