Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Toast - East Perth

Tis the season of christmas parties and over indulging! This is what happened when S had drinks on a friday night after work because someone was leaving. It wasn't a christmas party but it was overindulging... I was meant to meet up with him after work at Harbourtown to do a spot of shopping, however I was halfway there and he said he was still at the office and wasnt sure when he'd be finished there, due to Nigel leaving. So I turned around and went home again in a bit of a huff. He came home singing Seasick Steve (appropriately, the song he was singing was called Doghouse), had a shower, and a berocca, and fell asleep on my lap on the couch... So much for the friday night we had planned! I opened a bottle of nice red and had a couple of solitary drinks while he snored on the couch...

The next morning we both woke up a bit foggy (ok a few solitary drinks turned into maybe most of the bottle..) , and he said sleepily, "Ive had an idea... Im gonna take you to Toast in East Perth." which I thought was a great idea, especially if he was paying! He was.

We got there at about 10:45 and it was pretty busy but we were lucky to get a table outside by a couple of ladies and their adorable and very well behaved dogs! We had a view over the water and all the pots of veges and herbs from the Partisan next door. It was pretty warm but I think that we may have felt that a little more due to the delicate state we were in! They have a pretty extensive breakfast menu, all kinds of toast (including things like banana bread, fig and walnut, challah), fruit bowls, porridge, crepes... Have a look at their menu here. I decided on the bircher muesli, traditional swiss style, oats soaked in dairy, served with rhubarb and raspberry compote, toasted almonds, and S went for one of the specials, which was chorizo, eggs, roast garlic mushrooms, tomates and ciabatta toast - all washed down with a flat white.

You have to go and order up at the counter, and when S got back he had a cute Pastis bottle with the table number in it. I looked around at all the other tables and they had different kinds of bottles with their number which was a cute touch. Our mugs of coffee came out about 10mins after ordering, and looked good. They had a nice creamy froth on them with latte art, which after being in Melbourne and it coming standard I noticed we dont do often over here - so a nice touch they have a barista that can actually do it. I stirred mine around before I took a picture though so it doesnt look as nice in the photo as when it came out! The coffee itself was nice - it was slightly too milky for my taste, but was still perfectly drinkable. It wasnt overly bitter either which I dont like, it had a nice balance. It wasnt a coffee that either of us thought WOW but it wasnt one that we had much bad to say about either!

Our food came out about 15-20mins later, long enough for us to notice a longer than normal wait anyway... We didnt mind though because we had enough coffee and really nice surroundings so it was no big deal! Shortly after we noticed the wait though, our food was bought out. My bircher muesli was pretty small but I know how filling they are so it was a blessing in disguise really as if it were bigger youd leave feeling really full! S had a plateful though! A whole split chorizo, 2 eggs, a mushroom laden with garlic, a whole tomato and 2 big pieces of ciabatta!

This was a big meal.. the chorizo was salty and a really strong flavour, the eggs were runny, and mushroom had alot of garlic on it... I was not in the mood for such strong flavours that morning so I wasnt a huge fan - however any other day, it would have been a really tasty meal. I had a bit of egg on toast which was nice, and tried some chorizo which was spicy, salty and tasted just as it should. I didnt like the mushroom at all, it was too over the top and WAY too mushroomy. I like roast mushrooms though so Ill put it down to me feeling a bit precious! S couldnt finish it, which was a suprise as he normally finishes everything!

My muesli was nice and pretty much what I felt like. I mixed it all up and I was happy to notice that the toasted almonds stayed crunchy throughout the meal so the thick porridgy muesli was balanced by the crunch of the slivered almonds through it. The compot was really nice, sweet and full of flavour. I would have liked there to have been slightly more acidity left in there from the rhubarb and raspberries, but was nice nonetheless. It reminded me a bit of lollies - thankfully though there wasnt too much of this candy sweet compot to make the whole dish feel like you were eating a redskin...

Overall I enjoyed our experience at Toast - the service (from what I saw) was good, it was obviously popular as there were rarely tables free! Our food was good and there was plenty of choice, you can come here for breakfast for weeks and still have something new to try!

Id definately go back to Toast, the view is great, the vibe is relaxed and if its full, you can always go to the 3 or 4 other cafes around it - its a safe option!

Toast on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 16, 2011

Nanna Jean

Ive been wanting to write this post for ages, but put it off, forgot about it, didnt know where to start... But tonight Ill finally get it done. I wanted to write about my Nanna, who passed away this year. She was a big part of our lives and was often the reason that our family got together, so it was a big loss for our family. Its only fitting that she gets her own blog post - she would have been really proud that Id had built this blog up and would have loved reading it! She would have had no idea how to find it, or even how to turn a computer on, but being someone who lived through a world war, after 90 years, why on earth would she ever need the internet anyway?

Nan was awesome, I can confidently start this post with such a statement. She was a real character, who never ceased to bring laughter whenever we were with her. Sometimes we'd have our head in our hands because of something she said - she was a brutally honest woman, who was hysterical when she wasnt suffering from foot in mouth when talking about you. She once asked my little sister when the baby was due... She wasnt pregnant. She was about 19. She could also never really understand about my degree at university, which was sports science. She was proud as punch of me, as neither of her kids had gone to university, and as far as I knew, neither had her parents. My cousins never finished uni, rather went off to be successful in other things. Nevertheless, when I finished, the photo of me in my regalia took pride of place on her wall. Apparently she showed the picture of me, graduating from uni to everyone who came around. I never saw her do it but Im told she did! As proud of me as she was, she still didnt understand what my degree was. She thought I just ran around playing sport all the time. When we told her that I had the same degree as my mother (a bachelor of science, just different majors) she told me she didnt realise that I was getting a "real" degree. Whenever Nan said anything like this, everyone sniggered. Cept the person she was talking to of course - though as we all grew up we all knew what she was like and didnt really get offended, it became more of a "nanna-ism" which got laughed off, but then talked about later. "Can you BELIEVE Nanna said that?!", Dad would laugh, Mum would look over and pretend to be concerned and say "girls......" but we all knew it was ok.

It wouldnt be an Edwards photo without someone pulling a stupid face... Usually its Dad.

The main thing I associated with my Nan was her food. She was the master of soups and would be forever showing up at home or at work with ice cream containers filled with pea and ham, or vegetable soup. Sometimes we got pumpkin, but the others were most common. I loved them, I used to ring her up and ask her if I could have some for when I went back to uni, and she always had some for me. As she got older, cooking was her way of feeling useful. There was alot of things she couldnt do, and relied so much on Mum and Dad to do some things for her. But she never really needed anyone to cook for her - that was her thing, and no one was going to do any better in her kitchen, than her. You only ever had to tell her once, what you liked and whenever you were home she would bring it around! My sister and I said we liked her chicken a la Karl, a recipe from an West Coast Eagles football club recipe from Karl Langdon, and so that was alwyas being bought around. It was like that for everything though, I told her I liked the Night Magic line of toiletries from Avon, in passing, all of a sudden I got it every Christmas and birthday for years. However unlike Night Magic, no one ever got sick of her cooking. It was her thing and she was good at it. Some would say she was good at burning it too, but its what we all grew up with and so to all of us, it was the best. 

My older sis and her daughter, who is definately an Edwards...

Nan used to burn the carrots in the roast  every time. I remember as a little kid going there and my parents joking about the burnt carrots. But they were really tasty carrots, and the one time she didnt burn them when I was really little, I had to ask what these orange things on my plate were, I really didnt know. 

On holidays with the Edwards fam.
It was Nan who introduced me to having salt on my eggs, and butter on my toast. As far as Im concerned, boiled eggs must have salt on them, and that because at Nannas place, thats how we had them. These eggs went on toast, which always had butter. When I was younger I didnt know the difference between butter and marg, but I knew that Nannas toast tasted different to Mums. One day Mum bought out toast with butter on it, I ate it, and then asked where Nanna was. Mum told me she didnt know, probably at home, why? Because this toast tastes like Nannas toast. I didnt pick up on all of her eating habits though, I always thought her putting salt on oranges weird. Now it makes more sense, but I still dont do it. I do eat Kraft cream cheese spread on apples though...

Mum married an Edwards and look what happened!

To Nanna, the family was the core of her existance. She used to get snarky at us if we didnt go and visit her when we were in town, and if we didnt keep in touch she'd dramatically tell the family we werent getting a christmas card from her that year, though as far as I know, we all always got one. I used to always write her postcards whenever I was away - She loved to know what we were all up to, and always wrote her friends letters, and she never liked it whenever any of us went away for a long time. The least I could do was write her a postcard, and it became something I always did when I was away, everytime. She got cards from all over Europe, and Australia, and was always stoked when she got one. Her passing away hit home when I was away in Indonesia and then in Melbourne. Id walk past a tourist shop and remember I had to write her a postcard, but then remembered that she wasnt with us anymore, which was always a difficult thing to remember...

Cousin and Sister at Christmas
When she got sick, everyone pretty much rushed home, and spent hours by her bed. Right to the very end she was the high spirited woman we all knew and loved, bossing us around telling us what to do with her magazines and crosswords, asking us what the answers to the crosswords were and complaining about the hospital food. There were so many people in town who came to see her and bought her things, she had a million magazines, bags of her fave lollies and the hospital room was like a florist. She had all the pics of the family through the room, and the same people in the frames on her wall by her side 24/7. We all had enough time to prepare ourselves for her inevitable passing, but it wasnt easy. It never is. My aunty asked me, if she couldnt get through the eulogy, could I do it? Of course I said yes, and Im so thankful that she was composed and spoke beautifully, because I could not have done it, my sisters n I were a mess, I dont know how my aunty held it together. Karen wrote such a nice eulogy, and I learned more about Nanna from before my time. This is what my aunty Karen said about her mother:

Jean May Hutchinson was born in Mosman Park in March 1921, she was educated at Mosman Park Primary, Princess May Girls School and Fremantle Tech where she was dux of her year. During the war she joined the Air Force and it was there she met a blonde headed soldier George Edwards whom she married. On a trip to Adelaide to organise the wedding she pointed out a church to her friend, her friend told her that it was the church that the posh people got married in. That’ll do said mum and it did. After the war and our father’s farm was sold they moved to Perth and lived in Cottesloe. In 1953 we moved to Katanning. She was active in the community and was on many committees, the Arts Promotion group, the library and the Miss Australia Quest to name a few. She loved to socialize and entertain and held charity events in her home to raise funds. She supported out sport and was a very proud mother when Adrian played for her beloved South Fremantle and rarely missed a Wanderers game in the early days. She was a keen supporter of the West Coast Eagles and hated to miss a game on the TV.

She loved to read and do crosswords.

She loved classical music, ballet and live theatre and we were often in Perth for concerts, it was necessary for our cultural knowledge she said.

She loved her grandchildren Bobbie, Brett, Jade, Jacqui and Jenni and was so proud of their achievements. She had 2 great grand daughters Ashleigh and Courtney who delighted her and she was a great friend to Barbara, Trevor and Grant.

She loved flowers and working in her garden and had a large array of pot plants.

Her favourite colour was purple and mauve.

She was fiercely independent and when we finally convinced her to use a walking stick she would either leave it in the car or the shops.

She also loved going on holidays and trips with her friends.

Birthdays and Christmas.

One of her greatest joys was cooking and when Adrian and I were at school our friends all wanted to come to our house because there were always homemade cakes and biscuits to be had. I wanted to go to their house because they had granita biscuits from the shop. There was always a cake or sweet for anyone who was not feeling the best and she never arrived at my house without something she had baked. I think that one of my overriding memories of our mother would be her in the kitchen surrounded by the wonderful aromas of the food she had cooked with love for us but sadly “the kitchen has now closed”.

When they played "Time to say goodbye" by Andrea Boccelli my sister and I actually laughed - WHY this song, it will make us cry on any day of the week, if we couldnt hold it together through the start of the service we were never going to make it through this song, and we didnt really. No one did. She was buried next to Pa on a beautiful warm day surrounded by alot of her friends, family and people who knew her.

Writing this and reading Karens eulogy again had made me see that Im really similar to Nan... Which Im really proud of because she was a fantastic woman who everyone loved, and who is still missed so much. Ive got her old cooking notebook, with all her newspaper and magazine clippings, as well as hand written recipes. Im very lucky to have that... as well as being very lucky to have such an awesome lady as my Nanna.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Spiced, pickled cherries - Jared Ingersoll

A friend of mine generously left me a bag of cherries the other day, and while I would have happily just eaten them, I was pretty keen to try something new with them! Considering we have loads of bananas that need using (banana bread), as well as carrots (cake), I decided to stay away from some form of cake that includes cherries, delicious as it might be! I settled upon a recipe for spiced, pickled cherries that I found in Jared Ingersolls book, Dank St Depot. He suggests using these served with ham, which with christmas coming up, is a really different and tasty accompaniment. They would be even more amazing with duck! Try these if you have a glut of cherries or youre keen for something different! Its such an easy recipe, requires NO time at all (you dont even have to stone the cherries!), and makes a fantastic christmas gift, if youre not going to use them all yourself!

1kg cherries (stones, stems and all!)
750ml red wine vinegar
500g soft brown sugar
6 cloves
6 juniper berries
4 all spice berries
1 star anise
Zest of a lemon, cut into strips, as well as the juice
1 stick of cinnamon
2 green cardamon pods

1) Sort through the cherries and take out any less than perfect ones, give them a quick wash and set aside.
2) Put all the other ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for 5mins.

3) Add the cherries and boil for another 5mins, then take it off the heat, and leave it to cool, covered, overnight.

4) Put them into sterilised jars and store them in a cool, dark place, and they will keep for months!

Walnut Biscotti

If youre anything like me, youll find that you often have egg whites left over from various cooking endeavours - custard, ice cream... Anyway, I have a bunch of egg whites in the fridge and no idea what to do with them. Enter the Cook Learn Love french bistro cooking class, where for dessert we made an amaaaazing creme brulee, served with biscotti... The biscotti were SO easy to make and have few ingredients. Theyre delicous and great to whip up to serve to unexpected guests over this christmas season. Theyre even better for a quiet moment on the couch with a cuppa! You can use any nuts you like, ones you already have in the house like I did, and I used walnuts. These scrummy nuts also go so well with coffee - handy, since biscotti go so well with coffee as well!

4 egg whites
2/3 cup caster sugar
90g bakers flour (a generous 2/3 cup)
½ cup nuts

1) Preheat a moderate oven (170C).

2) Beat eggwhites with sugar until they become stiff and glossy. Combine remaining ingredients in sifter and sift over egg whites.

3) Tip in nuts. Gently fold to incorporate. TIP - if you're using walnuts, don't add the flour and nuts together! The shape of the walnuts allows flour to get stuck in the little hollows, which you then find when you slice it later!

4) Make free form loaves on a tray lined with baking paper or pour into a well greased and floured loaf tin or baking dish.

5) Bake until lightly brown and firm (about 15-20 mins). Allow to cool overnight before slicing.

6) Take the sliced biscotti and place them on a tray to dry and crisp up in a low oven.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bogra Rizala - Madhur Jaffrey

The name of this dish doesnt give anything away really... it doesnt sound like the name of any curry Ive ever had, and doesnt sound particularly Indian. Well its not "Indian", it is more specifically north Bengali, and its not reeeeally a curry. Its the Bengali version of sweet and sour chicken, and it doesnt actually contain any spices at all. I was tempted to add some while cooking, but I followed my rule of not changing a recipe the first time making it, and Im glad I did :) Heres the recipe, you really should have a go at this dish! MJ describes it as "gently sweet and sour (combining sugar and aromatic lime juice), it has a scrumptious dark sauce made entirely without spices that is rich with browned onions and cooked down yoghurt.". It really is delicious, rich, creamy and so tasty!

Sweet and sour chicken "rizala" (Bogra Rizala)


2 small onions, chopped
5cm/2inch piece fresh ginger (I left the skin on)
4 cloves garlic
1 chicken, skin off, cut into serving pieces (about 1.75kg) (I used a 4 boned thighs)
6 tbsp natural yoghurt
1.5 tsp salt
6-10 whole birdseye chillies, with small slits made in them (I used 2 lge green chillies)
2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
crispy fried onion slices, crumbled (see recipe below - uses about 3 small onions)
4tbsp oil reserved from cooking the onions
1tbso ghee or extra oil


1) Put the fresh chopped onions, ginger, garlic and 3-4 tbsp water into a blender and mix until you have a smooth paste.

2) Put the oil and/or ghee in a pan on a med/high heat - when hot pour in the contents of the blender, stir fry for about 5mins or until the paste is lightly browned.

3) Add the chicken pieces and continue to stir for a minute, and over the next 5mins, add 1 tbsp of yoghurt at at time and keep browning the chicken. Add 175ml water, the crumbled onions and salt, stir to mix and bring to a simmer.

4) Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently for 20mins, turning the chicken every now and again. Add the chillies, sugar and lemon/lime juice - stir to mix and continue to cook for another 10mins.

I served this with white rice and S had mountains of coriander on his! I really enjoyed this dish, it was rich, creamy and way tastier than I expected! I think I needed to cook this down a bit more as I think the sauce is meant to be darker.. I loved it, it was very moreish, I think this is exactly what you want to sit down to after a long day of working hard! This isnt something youll eat often, it is quite fatty... I spooned a decent amount of fat out of the dish before I served it, so for the more health concious, add less oil, and use low fat greek yoghurt. This isnt very curry-ish, but dont let that stop you. Its delicious!

Crispy Fried Onion Slices

3 med onions 425g or equal amount of shallots
corn/peanut oil for shallow frying (I used rice bran oil)

1) Cut each onion in half lengthways and then slice it evenly across into thin slices. Line 2 plates with a double layer of paper towel and leave aside.

2) Pour enough oil into a large pan about 3mm deep and set over a medium heat - once hot, add the onions and stir fry for about 8mins till they begin to brown. 

3) Reduce the heat to med/low, and stir fry for another 2mins or so, then turn the heat down to low and continue to cook until theyre reddish brown, which should take about 15 mins.

4) Remove from the pan onto the paper towel, spreading them out and leave them for 5mins, then move them onto the 2nd plate of paper towel, and allow them to cool completely.

These onions can be kept in a lidded jar or a ziplock bag in the fridge for weeks. When I made these onions, I wasnt as strict on times etc as this recipe, and I didnt put them on the 2 plates, I just used one. Youre basically making crispy (not burnt), thinly sliced onions... So use your experience to decide how well you follow the recipe!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chocolate orange xmas cake truffles

Here in Australia, we have a hot xmas - its often 30C plus, everyone is outside playing cricket or volleyball, having a swim, or sat inside drinking in the air conditioning. We have a really different xmas from our friends in the northern hemisphere, but we still have similar food to the English when we celebrate the 25th December. We often have turkey, everyone has a ham... dessert is often a christmas pud, with custard, cream or ice cream, most of the time we have the choice of all 3! But it is pretty heavy, its really not a summer dessert. So Ive decided to take this popular flavour, that so many associate with christmas, and change it up a little bit that we still have xmas cake, but you just take a mouthful rather than a bowlful!

I took a regular 700g supermarket xmas cake, added melted chocolate, cointreau orange zest and then let it sit for an hour while I cooked dinner. I rolled them into balls, topped them with white chocolate and some chopped glace cherries. Put them in the fridge and let them set.

How cute are they!? Once they set they're great to give as gifts, or to put out when you have friends over during the xmas season. They last for aaages too, freeze em, seal em up in the fridge for times when you need to bust out the treats! This is a great recipe to get kids involved with, as they love the chocolate drizzling, cherry decorating and of course, a spoonful of melted chocolate for them!


1 x 700g christmas cake
1 x block of dark chocolate (as dark and good a quality as you can find/afford)
Cointreau to taste (or use a bit of orange juice if you want to omit the booze)
Zest of an orange 
Half a block of white chocolate
Glace cherries


1) Melt the dark chocolate - I use a bain marie type setup, of simmering water with a metal/glass bowl on top. You can melt it in the microwave as well - whatever works for you!

2) Crumble up the christmas cake - and have a taste! These cakes often taste different, so make sure you have a bit of a test so you can judge how much of everything to add later! 

3) Add the cointreau, I think I added 3 or 4 good sploshes, the orange zest and the chocolate then give it a good old mix! Make sure its all incorporated, and leave it for a while for the flavours to meld and make friends!

4) Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, and start to roll out little teaspoon sized balls of the mixture, until youve run out. Pop the balls in the fridge, while you melt the white chocolate, and finely chop the cherries. How finely you chop them is up to you and your level of attention to detail! The cherries are meant to be like holly, so how you decide to chop them is up to you! Putting the balls in the fridge means that when you drizzle the white choc on, it sets a little bit and so doesnt run off the balls as quickly (taking the cherries with it!). If youre somewhere cold, I wouldnt worry about it, but in my warm summer kitchen it helped!

Drizzle the truffles with white chocolate and decorate with glace cherries! Pop them back in the fridge to set and then pop them in containers to store! Or just eat them!

This is also my entry to We Should Cocoa, whereby each month an ingredient is chosen by either Choclette or Chele from Chocolate Teapot, for the bloggers participating to pair with chocolate. The december challenge is orange! I cant just make ONE chocolate orange recipe... Its my bfs fave sweet combo, and Ive already made chocolate orange ice cream which was AMAZING!! Ive also made Nigellas chocolate orange loaf, which was really nice... Can you tell choc orange is a favourite in our house!?