Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas lunch/dinner 2009

Ok so I cheated and bought a gingerbread kit from Aldi's. I figured I'd have so much to do and it would be fun to have the little guy help out that the kit was the least stressful and most convenient. It's a great kit and very easy to assemble (with the instructions printed on the back of the box). However, it did not taste that great. We left most of it behind. Onto the gingerbread train followed by the Christmas spread.

Kit comes with all you see here

You have to make your own royal icing which they give a recipe for. I think it was 2 cups of icing sugar, 2 egg whites and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. The lemon juice makes it extra sticky.

Starting the piping

Beginning to resemble a train

Comes with a carriage to fill up

End result
What was left of the train after the grubber hands got to it

So for Christmas lunch (which continued on till dinner), we had the traditional roast turkey with pine nut stuffing

Lemon oregano roasted eggplant potato from Coconut & Lime
Recipe here

Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon plated ($19.95 for 1kg @ Aldi)

Balmain Bugs ($32/kg @ Fish Markets)

Fresh Tiger Prawns ($27/kg @ Fish Markets)

Tasmanian Rock Oysters ($13.90 per dozen @ Fish Markets)

The cold seafood spread as our entree (and on the bottom right Amra brought over her chilli chicken and mushroom tarts which were gorgeous!)

Since the hot food didn't fit on the table we had to use the kitchen counter as well and we just had to maneuver around as best we could.
Zucchini, Sqaush & Tomato Slice with Crunchy Topping.

Front right is a Spinach, egg, corn and pine nut salad
Left - leg of ham

Front left - Turkey sliced up
Front right - leg of ham

Turkey all sliced up

For dessert we had Christmas pudding with custard and Chhay made a delicious trifle but I forgot to take photos (boooooo!). It was the perfect way to finish off a lovely Christmas dinner.
Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Birthday lunch

Amra offered to make Prem and I a special cake for our birthday. I guess a pay back for the steak cake she had requested from me for her birthday back in September.

You can't just eat cake so I organised a simple little lunch for the family. I was solely incharge of making gozleme.

The recipe I used is here. Along with the spinach and feta version shown, I also made a spiced minced meat version for the non-vegetarians. I could have sworn I took photos of the dough process but when I went to upload the camera, they weren't there. Anyhow it's not biggy, here are some of the meat cooking process instead.

One diced onion, 4 cloves garlic, 500g minced meat, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 tablespoon mixed spices, 1 tablespoon cajun spice, 1 tablespoon paprika (possibly a bit more), about 100ml tomato puree
Heat pan with oil and throw in the onion. Cook for about 1min and add the garlic and mince together (to avoid the garlic from burning). Toss the meat well and cook till most of the pink is gone and then add all the spices. Toss well again allowing spices to heat up and release it's aroma/flavour. Add the tomato puree and stir. Add extra water if you find the meat too dry (or possible even stock if you want extra flavour). Set the meat aside to cool or until you are ready to put the gozleme together.

Roll out the dough (as instructed in the recipe).
Preheat the bbq plate and make sure it's well oiled.
Lay the dough out onto the bbq plate and spread the meat/feta/spinach (whatever combo you would like) on half of the rectangle dough. Fold dough over to enclose filling and cook for 2-3mins. Flip it over and cook for a further 2-3mins.
Note - the photo is terrible, but trust me this gozleme is really good.
Other wonderful nibbles available for lunch:
Chhay made a lovely cheese and spinach dip and used a cob loaf to serve it in!

The grill vegetable salad I always make (this version had pumpkin, sweet potato eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and mixed greens)

Sandwiches made with the help of my mother-in-law - sliced roast turkey, rocket and cranberry sauce

Also from my mother-in-law - tuna, mayo and lettuce
She also made some delicious egg, mayo and sprouts sandwiches which I failed to photograph.
The sandwiches were so good they were all eaten.

Irene made these yummy chocolate ganache macarons

And Amra's cake - a beautiful chocolate cake decorated with fresh blueberries, strawberries and chocolate biscuit logs. YUM!!! She attempted to use fondant and shape some puppies but it was such a scorcher of a day (from memory it was close to 40 degrees) that the fondant kept melting and was not manageable. So she had to abandon her cake idea and rush off to woolies to pick up some fresh fruit to re-decorate the cake. Thanks Chhay for baking this scrumptious cake and thank you to Amra for trying to make a puppy decorated cake. There's always next year ; )

And thanks to my family for coming over and celebrating our birthday!!!
A special belated birthday message to my dear friend and best bud Prem (who shares the same birth day as me - it would make sense we are best friends!) Love you and thank you for everything!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fort Denison

I've been debating about whether I should blog about Fort Denison Cafe & Restaurant. It was not the dining experience I was expecting. Perhaps my expectations were just too high, maybe they had new staff (maybe they should hire staff who understand a bit more English), maybe the chef was having an off day. I don't know, but I was disappointed.

I chose Fort Denison for my birthday lunch location. It seemed idealic - beautiful surroundings, harbour view, secluded and I'd heard great things about it. Once we got there I was surprised to find out that you had to order either the 2 course ($59) or 3 course (can't remember how much that was....around $79) option. The menu had changed considerably from the other blogs I've read up on. You couldn't order a starter to share and then a couple of mains and the burger and chips was no longer on the menu. Ok that's fine, they must have gone a little more up market and it's more of a fine dining experience now. So I expect it to be even better. Hmmmm.....

Entree - Salt & pepper squid. Too salty and definitely very ordinary
We also had the beef carpaccio which wasn't very good either (forgot to take a photo)
Kids fish & chips ($12)
This was the best dish here and a good price too (don't judge it by my kids face....he really did love it). If only I could order 2 of these I would have been very happy. But at least my little one got to enjoy his meal.
Slow cooked pork belly. Now when I hear slow cooked I expect it to be really tender and juicy. I think it took me 2 mins to chew each mouthful. The sauce was nice, but shame about the meat

Seared Barramundi
This was massacred. Overcooked, dry and chewy (and what's with thet grey colour all over that piece of barramundi? Is that even normal?)

The waitstaff seemed preoccupied and had trouble understanding me. Flagging one down to order a drink was difficult. We had to chase them up about the kids meal because our entrees were out and eaten yet there was no kids meal. When we were paying for the bill we told our waiter that the food was rather disappointing.....he had no reaction whatsover. He didn't ask us why, or care to wonder what we really thought. He nodded his head, gave our card back and walked off. I was a little stunned. At such an establishment they didn't want to hear any feedback? Well I certainly won't be spreading any good words for them.
The best thing about being at Fort Denison was the view......sigh.....if only the food and service lived up to it's location
After our meal (12.50), we made our way up to the 1pm firing of the canon. We figured that a boat would arrive at 1.30 to pick us up so we could wander around for a little while and head back to Circular Quay. Would you believe that there was no boat. The lady over the phone my husband made the booking with had told him there is a return boat every 30-45mins. She however, failed to mention that there is no boat between the period of 12.45-2.15 So we ended up spending another extra 45mins on the island with nothing to do. It was such a hot day and poor Keane was bored out of his mind. I was seriously cheesed off by now. But there was nothing we could do. We were literally stranded on the island.

I really hope that I just went on an off day. I did see a party of about 50 come in after we left, maybe they were busy preparing for them? Either way, I won't be going back and I won't be suggesting it to any of my friends. If you do go, I hope you have a much better experience than I did.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Roast Pork Rack

I think after this post I've covered all the common roasts. I do love my roast meats. This one here is a roast pork rack. Really beautiful and look at the so bad...but so soooooo good : )

No recipe for this as there wasn't much to it. I'll talk you through the pictures though.

The underside of the rack
(I think this slab was about 1.5-2kg)

Score the pork skin and pour hot boiling water over it

Blot it all dry with paper towels (make sure you dry the skin particularly well so it crackles better). Drizzle oil and sprinkle loads of salt and some pepper over it. Rub it in really well (try to get some salt into the scored skin right into the cut creases)

Roast for about 1 hour 15mins at 180C and then turn it up to 220C for about 20mins to get the crackle really crunchy.
The skin started to slide off to the back right for some reason but it didn't matter. That crackling was to die for!

All chopped up

Helloooooooo lover!

Please excuse my plating skills....any chef who ever saw me plate up would have a heart attack

Friday, November 27, 2009

Smoked Paprika Roast Chicken

I think there is a pattern....I only like to do simple easy recipes. Guess most people are like that with the time restraints and the never ending agenda's in our diaries, people are trying to do more in less time. Well here's another easy recipe to add to the list, Smoked Paprika Roast Chicken. I haven't cooked with smoked paprika before so I noticed that there is quite a difference between normal paprika and smoked paprika. In a good way.

The marinade (recipe below)
Coating the chicken in marinade

Nicely coated

It looks burnt, but trust me it didn't taste like it

And of course, eaten with rice and a simple side salad (of lettuce, capsicum, spanish onion and tomatoes)

Yes the chicken looks totally burnt but it wasn't. It had a really lovely full smoky flavour to it that was addictive. I don't remember where I got this recipe from (so sorry for not acknowledging the source), but it's too good not to share.
Smoked Paprika Roast Chicken
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon softened butter
2 teaspoons garlic salt (or 1 teaspoon salt plus 1 teaspoon garlic powder) - I thought I had garlic salt up I didn't so I used 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 whole 1.5kg roasting chicken

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Rinse the chicken off with cold water. Pat dry thoroughly with paper towels (otherwise the paste won't stick).
2. Mix together the paprika, honey, lemon juice, butter, garlic salt, and pepper. Spread over the entire surface of the chicken and place on a shallow baking pan.
3. Bake at 325°F for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. You may need to adjust the time depending on how big your chicken is. The chicken is done when the juices run clear (not pink) when a knife tip is inserted into both the chicken breast and thigh, about 165-170°F for the breast and 180-185°F for the thigh.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Duck Fat Potato Stacks

I bought a tub of duck fat a long while back at the Good Food and Wine show and finally got to use it. The potato stack would be fine without it, but it does add that little extra oomph to the side dish.
Slice 2 potatoes and layer them in a muffin tin

Dollop a bit of butter, dollop a bit of duck fat, sprinkle salt & pepper

Bake in oven for around 25-35mins at 180 degrees
Turn oven up to around 220 degrees for another 10mins

Crispy golden goodnes

These are a great little side dish and you could change it around to add some chedder cheese on the top or sprinkle with your favourite herb. I like that they are crispy on the top but still soft in the middle.

What else did we have with these little beauties?
Starters - Haloumi cheese (uncooked)
Haloumi cheese nicely pan fried
Roast beef
I was lazy and bought the pre-marinaded one from the Woolies beef section. Also because it was heaps cheap - down from $17.85 to $7.65 BARGAIN!
And we placed the whole slab in a roasting pot (with lid on) to keep in the juices. I think I'll be roasting beef more often like this.

Grilled pumpkin and eggplant salad