Friday, July 31, 2015

Frank Camorra's Date and Banana Cake with Orange Icing

I adore Medjool dates - I love them so much that I used to buy them by the kilo and eat them like sweets.  I had to stop that, but I am always keen when I see a recipe using Medjool dates.
Frank Camorra's Date and Banana Cake with Orange Icing is replete with soft, juicy
Medjool dates.  When I saw this recipe in The Age magazine, it went straight to the front of the list to make.
I wasn't disappointed - it is a beautiful. moist cake, full of the goodness of bananas and dates:

The orange icing, although not essential, was  a beautiful way to top it off.
If you are looking for an afternoon tea cake with a difference, you can't go wrong with this date and banana cake. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pizza, Hot Dogs and Burgers - Pizza Religion, Snag Stand and Huxtaburger

I have been on a fast food splurge in the last few weeks, trying things I don't normally have.

I started off with pizza at Pizza Religion in Malvern.  Pizza Religion is new to Malvern this year, and sells gourmet pizzas in a restaurant setting.

 All pizzas except the Margherita are $20.

We ordered a Chorizo Pizza (Chorizo, Prawns, Chipotle Sauce, Jalapenos):

and a Salmon Pizza (Cured Salmon, Fried Capers, Caramelised Onions, Rocket):

My favourite was the chorizo pizza, as it had a lively kick to it.
To make us feel virtuous because we were eating our greens, we also ordered a tomato, olive, fetta and cucumber salad ($9):

We got our pizzas fairly quickly.  The service was OK.  I recommend booking a table - Pizza Religion is popular with families because pizza is a kid-friendly food.

The weekend before last, I stumbled upon the Snag Stand near Melbourne Central:

As it was lunchtime and I was hungry, I decided to give it a go.  Snag Stand sells all kinds of fancy hot dogs:

with various sides and meal combos available, as well as burgers:

I decided to go for the Backyarder - a grilled wagyu sasage on a rustic roll with coleslaw, BBQ sauce and cheddar cheese ($8.90):

The sausage was really good, with a nice bit of spice.   I am a fan of BBQ sauce, so you can't go wrong there.  However, the slaw and the cheese didn't add that much to the equation, and the bun was a bun.  These are pretty pricey dogs and, while it was tasty enough, it wasn't worth the price for me.

My final excursion into fast food was Huxtaburger, a popular burger joint named after the family in The Cosby Show (obviously way before all the recent headlines): 

Huxtaburger does really good burgers.  Their basic version is the Huxtaburger (beef patty, mayo, mustard, tomato sauce, cheese, lettuce, pickles) ($9.50).  Their are several variations to the Huxtaburger with add-ons to make the Bill, the Theo and the Denise.  There is also a fried chicken burger (the Clair), a vegetarian tofu burger (the Sondra) and a mini burger (the Rudy) for kids.  You can also get crinkle cut fries, with chipotle on request.

The beauty of Huxtaburger is that you can order and pay online.  You then get a text confirming your order telling you to wait 15 minutes and then pick it up.  This is what I did - it allowed me to keep working while they made my order up, and I just sauntered in when I was ready to pick it up:

I ordered a Huxtaburger with beetroot for an extra fifty cents:


I know that the rest of the world thinks Aussies are crazy for adding beetroot to their burgers (or at least David Chang does), but I tell you, there is nothing that beats beetroot on a burger - yum.

The verdict on the Huxtaburger - very tasty and very filling, although as a personal preference, I would go easy on the mayo.  But that's just me - I am not a huge fan of mayo.  Now that I have tried the Huxtaburger the way that its makers intended it (with a little beetroot thrown in), I know next time to ask for no mayo.

If you want a quick, satisfying work lunch and you are happy to take away (because the seating in the CBD Huxtaburger is very limited), my recommendation is order a Huxtaburger burger online and pick it up when you are ready - a hassle free way to beat the queues and get on with more important stuff. 

12-18 Claremont Ave
Malvern VIC 3144
Ph: (03) 9576 0444

Cnr La Trobe & Swanston St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: (03)  9639 6544
Rear 357 Collins Street
(enter via Fulham Place)
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: (03) 9417 6328

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lemon, Chia and Ricotta Muffins

In the June/July 2015 edition of Donna Hay magazine, there are a number of great looking muffin recipes.  I decided to make  the Lemon, Ricotta and Chia Muffins from p140.

 They are sunny looking muffins that you could eat glazed or unglazed:

However, most people tell me they like icing, so icing it is:

To make these muffins, you will need:

2 1/2 cups self rising flour
1 cup superfine sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind
1/3 cup black chia seeds, plus extra for sprinkling
1 cup ricotta
1 cup plain Greek yoghurt
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil


1 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and grease a 12 hole muffin tin.  (I actually got 18 muffins, so you may need to grease another one.)

Place the flour, sugar, lemon rind and chia seeds in a large bowl and mix to combine.

In a separate bowl mix the ricotta, eggs, vanilla, yoghurt and oil. Add the mixture to the bowl with flour and mix until just combined.

Scoop the mixture into the muffin tin, and bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.

For the icing, put the sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk to combine and ice the cooled muffins.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

TWD - Vanilla Mango Panna Cotta


Our Tuesdays with Dorie recipe this week is Vanilla Mango Panna Cotta.  This dessert comprises a mango puree topped with vanilla panna cotta.

I made a single serve, just for me.  I think I added too much gelatine, because it was slightly on the rubbery side, but it was otherwise good - the mango puree made it.  It was delicious even with tinned mango (because there is no way I am going to get fresh mango in the middle of winter).

To see what the other TWD bakers thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Neil Perry's whole roasted cauliflower with lemon and mustard

Have you ever been stuck for ideas as to what to do with a cauliflower?  A new idea that I discovered is Neil Perry's whole roasted cauliflower with lemon and mustard.  You can find the recipe online here.

This dish might not look pretty - in fact, it resembles how I imagine IT from A Wrinkle in Time would look - but it sure tastes good.  The lemon, mustard and capers give a sharp and salty zing to the roasted cauliflower, which is crispy outside and soft in the middle.

This is definitely my new favourite way to use cauliflower, and I recommend it as a perfect winter warmer dish.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

New York, New York Day 10 - Tenement Museum, Katz's Deli, Greenwich Village and East Village

It was day 10 of our New York adventure and our last full day spent in New York.  We started off with another breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien, where I opted for the lemonade iced tea ($4.50):

and the smoked salmon breakfast with a soft-boiled egg, ricotta, herbs and capers:

It tasted as good as it looks.

We then set off for The Tenement Museum on the lower East Side.  On the way, we passed this building:

which I will always have affection for because I won a travel guide back in the day for knowing where this was.

There are a number of different tours you can do in and around the tenements.  We chose one called "Sweatshop Workers", which gave us an insight into the lives of the early immigrant garment workers.  It was a very sobering experience, and you cannot help but feel for these workers and the daily struggles they faced. 

When we had finished our tour of the Tenement Museum, we saw this cool street art nearby:

For lunch, we went to Katz's Deli, made famous by the movie When Harry Met Sally:

As you can see, although we went for an early lunch, it was busy:

At Katz's, the hardest part is negotiating the system.  When you walk in the door, you are given a ticket.  You then proceed to the counter, with separate counters for sandwiches and other food.  There is a kind of chaos in ordering - the "line" is a big clump of people all trying to get to the counter (although if you want to skip this, there are a few tables reserved for service):
Tim ordered their famous Reuben sandwich (~$18), which was huge:

 The size of that sandwich made me glad that I went for the chilli instead (~$12), which came with bread and pickles on the side: 


The food was very good, and despite the higher than normal price tag, the serves were generous.

To drink, I ordered a New York cream:

Nope, when I ordered it, I didn't know what it was either, but it is, according to Wikipedia, a mixture of milk, soda water and vanilla syrup - thank goodness I didn't order the chocolate version.  It tasted OK, I guess, but is not a repeat.  Also, it did not go particularly well with the chilli.

Here's a close up of the vast serve of pickles which came with the chilli:

There is a sign hanging from the ceiling in Katz's indicating where Harry met Sally for that famous "I'll have what she's having" scene:

We shared a table with a great couple called Spencer and Linda, who were visiting from Boston.  It was fun talking with them, and Linda correctly surmised that we were from Australia (you'd be surprised at how many people place our accents elsewhere).

If you go to Katz's, make sure you do not lose your ticket, even if you don't eat anything, otherwise they will charge you anyway:

Close to the Tenement Museum and Katz's is a glasses shop called Moscot with very cool signage that reminded me of the eyes of TJ Eckleberg from The Great Gatsby:

and a fun window display with old fashioned optometry gear:

With our afternoon free, we decided to go back to Greenwich Village, one of my favourite places in New York.  I remembered to take a photo of the IFC Cinema that Bridget from our walking tour told us hosted the very first screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show:

I also spotted The Blue Note jazz club, which interested me as an intellectual property lawyer because of the trade mark case of Bensusan Restaurant v King - read about it here:

When we went on our Greenwich Village walking tour, we had passed The Big Gay Icecream Shop, and I wanted to go back  because I had read about it on The Amateur Gourmet:

Unfortunately, when I looked up the address online, I wrote down the address for the Grove branch, so we walked way further than we needed to.  However, we did eventually find The Big Gay Icecream Shop, albeit not the one I was aiming for.

Look at their menu - I just love the names of the icecreams.  Salty Pimp anyone? Or how about a Bea Arthur: 

We ordered a Monday Sundae (~$6.50) to share - twist icecream, Nutella lined cone, dulce de leche, sea salt and whipped cream: 

It was a hot day, so both the cool icecream and the drip tray were appreciated.

I then asked Tim what he wanted to do for the rest of the afternoon, and of the options proposed, he decided to go for a drink.  We accordingly wandered the neighbourhood until we found a likely looking place in the form of  San Marzano, a big, open, airy, light-filled establishment: 

I ordered a mimosa ($6 - a pitcher for $15):

and Tim ordered a Blue Moon wheat beer ($4):

I love the mason jar that Tim's drink was served in.  We then whiled away most of the hot afternoon in the cool interior of San Marzano, talking and people watching until it was time to go home.
205 E Houston St
New York, NY 10002
United States
Ph: +1 212-254-2246 
61 Grove St
New York, NY
United States
Ph: +1 212-414-0222
117 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
United States
Ph: +1 212-777-3600

Saturday, July 25, 2015

WIAFK (CB) - Mango, Kiwi, and Coconut Custard Tart

Our Weekend in a French Kitchen (Cafe Boulud) recipe is dear to my heart because (a) it is a baking recipe; and (b) it has lots of tropical fruit to remind me of summer (which seems an awfully long way away from here).  Our recipe was a Mango, Kiwi and Coconut Custard Tart. 

This recipe was simple enough to make, but I found the pastry hard to work with and it never worked that well.  At first, I was perplexed, because it seemed to be the same as Dorie Greenspan's fail-safe sweet pastry recipe that I always use.  However, closer inspection revelaed that this pastry used a whole egg instead of just the yolk in my usual recipe,  which made the pastry much wetter and stickier, and it never crisped up like my usual pastry does.  A note was made and a lesson was learned.

Otherwise, this tart was quite delicious - I like coconut and custard, and adore tropical fruits (even canned mango!), so this one would be a winner for me, with a tweak to the pastry recipe.  

To see what the other Weekend in a French Kitchen (Cafe Boulud) cooks thought of this tart, visit the LYL section of the website. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Adam Liaw's Roasted Chicken Drumsticks with Chilli and Honey

In The Age recently, Adam Liaw published a recipe for roasted chicken Marylands with chilli and honey.   Sriracha plus honey on chicken - I am there!

The other appealing thing about this dish is that it was so easy to whip up.  I subbed drumsticks for Marylands, and they looked after themselves in the slow cooker (yes, sacrilege - I cooked them on low on the slow cooker for 6 hours instead of in the oven while I went out),  poured over the sauce in the last half hour of cooking, and made some stir fry veg for the side.  Easy and tasty - brilliant!

If you like a bit of zing (but not too much) in your dinner, and time is not your friend, then this dish is a great mid week family meal.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

EwE - Pacific Rim Salmon Burgers

For Eating with Ellie this week, Sarah chose Pacific Rim Salmon Burgers.  I wasn't too sure if I'd like this - minced salmon and spice patties with cucumber, carrot and lettuce on a wholemeal bun.  However, in the end, I was pleasantly surprised.  The pattie had a really nice flavour, and in my case, didn't suffer from the lack of capsicum (I didn't have one).

Here is the pattie sans its glad rags:

These were also  very quick and easy to make - bonus.

To see what the others thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the EwE website.