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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Cafe at home


Visiting USA Foods has long been a favourite pastime of mine. Having visited the land of the free many times since my Dad moved over there, I have developed a love of iced tea mixes.

On my annual pilgrimage to Moorabbin to stock up on said iced tea mix, I was gob smacked at the size of their new store. So gob smacked in fact that I bought more things than I had planned on due to the frivolity of the situation.

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Having such temptations in the cupboard was proving to be all too much for The Loch Ness Monster. So much so that I have found myself being greeted on weekends, not with a ‘Hello’, not with a ‘Good morning’.

No. Lately I have been greeted in the morning with one simple word.

“Pancakes?”

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So I caved in on Saturday and decided to make what I call a ‘whole PAN-cake’ as an homage to the lovely Joe’s Garage banana pancake, which I must say was a game-changer for me in the world of pancakes.

The cooking process was very similar to how I make a frittata, so the task was not overly daunting. The only part that worried me was wondering how to flip it without ruining the whole thing.

Some delicate flipping into a pan of equal size saved the day, and as always I recommend a high quality pan, cooking on a low heat, and walking away to let it do some magic on its own.

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I was so pleased with how light and fluffy the whole thing was.
Like when cooking a frittata, lots of bubbles = fluffy results.

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Due to prodding from The Loch Ness Monster I found myself purchasing some ice cream as a treat this weekend.

Kicking and screaming the whole way to the supermarket – I swear!

I use the term ‘treat’ because this is something you would not purchase to share with ANYONE.
Partly because of the price, but mostly because of the flavours that you want to savour for an eternity.

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I had no idea what burnt fig would taste like, but had a feeling that this would be the ice cream to end ALL ice creams. If I didn’t realise it enough before, I made a silent promise to myself that I need to visit Adelaide to see what else Maggie Beer has to offer at her store.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2012 in Foody, wordy

 

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Just add food + friends


For the first time ever I decided to host a small Australia Day affair at my house this week.

mixer

The idea was a last minute one and was completely based around my friend wanting to see my KitchenAid mixer in action.

My main goal was to whip up a pavlova for the first time, which is a daunting task at best!

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Thankfully on the day I was up at the crack of dawn with a crazy amount of energy. Without this the pav could have been a tragedy due to needing it to cool in the oven for a lengthy period of time.

old frittata

As usual I made one of my famous frittatas, which disappeared too quickly to photograph so the above pic is one that I’ve made in the last month.

Frittata tips

1 Invest in a really high quality pan, this is the time to splurge a little.
2 Whisk the eggs till there are lots of bubbles. Bubbles = fluffy frittata
3 Take your time, put the heat on low, sprinkle with parmesan, put the heat on and walk away for at least 20 minutes.

I learnt a great technique for cooking sausages on the day which really helped this little vegetarian. A Jamie Oliver website suggested getting a flat baking tray lined with baking paper, then place a wire rack on top (I used my cooling racks), then space out the sausages. They cooked at 200 degrees Celcius for approximately 20 minutes.

I can’t personally vouch for the flavour, but it was a really effective way of cooking a large amount of sausages without a barbecue.

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For all the usual nom noms there was a delectable cheese platter, with camembert and triple cream brie that had everyone going back for more, bhuja mix, peanuts, pistachios, and corn chips.

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Clearly the food and company were too great to remember to picture everything, but at least I remembered the brownies and vanilla cake.

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Posted by on January 27, 2012 in Foody

 

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Finding the joy in peasant food


If you close your eyes and think really hard about your happiest childhood memories of food what do you think of?

For me it is Kraft cheestiks, which (at the time) doubled as medieval torture devices due to the unbreakable metal clasps that tapered the ends to close.

Also, as true child gourmet, I loved the individual portions of Nutella that were sold at the tuck shop with a miniature plastic shovel, and a foil lid that could never be folded back without butchering the entire device.

My point in all this? It’s often the simple or cheap foods that we hold fond memories of. I often overhear people declaring that their Mum makes the best pumpkin soup or spaghetti bolognese, but surely we can’t all be right?

Actually we can!

These so called ‘peasant foods’ are what we value first and foremost in life. Not because they are true delicacies, but because they sit in our hearts and minds as little treasures that will forever win the prize of our favourite food items.

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The Loch Ness Monster and I have developed our own favourite peasant foods in the time that we’ve lived together. One of our long favourites being a rustic gem that consists of pasta tossed with butter, fresh parmesan and herbs.

Currently it’s avocado on toast with freshly cracked pepper and a sprinkle of garlic salt (which you’ll soon learn I am completely obsessed with), which makes a fantastic start to the day when teamed with a cup of tea.

My bold statement of the day; Simple enjoyable foods like this are the true secret to happiness in life.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2012 in Foody, wordy

 

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Midweek lazy dinner


paratha

I’m the first to admit that at the end of a tiring day at work, I am often too burned out to even think about cooking. It’s far too easy to call for some pizza to be home delivered, even more so when your local joint does EFTPOS at the door!

So my lazy solution tonight was to have a lazy Indian style dinner. I stay far away from the pseudo-Indian foods found in Australian supermarkets, and instead visit India At Home to pick up supplies.

ricecooker

Having a rice cooker do all the work for me is a great way to have perfect fluffy rice every time, which presents well on the plate. While you don’t have to lash out and buy one as expensive as mine, I do recommend it as I have found the levers that are on the cheap ones (the kind you see in department stores for $30) break quickly if you use the machine frequently.

The cheap ones are a good way to see if you like using them, then you can always upgrade if the machine breaks.

I’ve had this machine for over 5 years and it is by far the longest lasting, and best machine I’ve ever had. I’m a sucker for the gadgetry of it, and the carry handle.

TIP 1: Cook more rice than you need and pack into Chinese take-away style containers that are easily bought from the supermarket. Pop them in the freezer for future lazy dinners like fried rice or stir-fry. A few minutes in the microwave and it’s ready to go.

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The last time I went to India At Home, I took a risk and decided to grab a pre-made paratha from the frozen section. Clearly it looks nothing like the picture.
All I needed was some bread to dip into the chutney I bought at the farmers market the other day, so the frozen paratha was perfect for that purpose.

In hindsight I would have preferred to buy some fresh roti or naan. If I didn’t have an electric stovetop I would make my own flatbreads over the gas flame, as I have had success making naan at home in the past.

Part of me wishes I could cave in and go to Sahni’s for some palak paneer and the best bhaji I have EVER had, however this was a close 2nd place.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2012 in Foody, wordy

 

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Mexican Standoff


Mad Mex – Fresh Mexican Grill.

High Tech Burrito Australia: Australia’s Original Gourmet Burrito.

I’m having a tough time trying to decide which of these two businesses to sample. Having only heard of both of them in the last month, I just can’t decide which one to try.

A wise man might tell me to try both perhaps? Both are vegetarian friendly, affordable, and appear to rate high on my nom-nom scale.

I’m starting to think a mexican standoff is the only way to resolve this dispute. Stay posted for the results some time over the next couple of weeks.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2012 in wordy

 

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Prelude to a birthday food post


Lots of yummy foodstuffs have been consumed in the past 24-48 hours thanks to it being my birthday yesterday.

Special mention goes out to my workmates who have done their damn best and left me feeling like royalty this week.

If I wasn’t sitting here enjoying my take-home tub from Cold Rock (thanks to the Loch Ness Monster) then I would possibly be writing about more today. That being said, this ice cream isn’t going to eat itself!

A blog post containing all lovely birthday food consumed over the last few days should be coming up this weekend, or once the neverending birthday celebrations come to an end.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2012 in wordy

 

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Sunday + St Kilda + Sun


The weather finally remembered today that it is still summer, so as a true Melbournian I celebrated the day in true Melbourne fashion. With food!

The Loch Ness Monster (LNM) and I started the morning by driving out to the Ashwood Farmers’ Market as the lure of The Brownie Bar was one that he could not resist.

Brownies from The Brownie Bar

Brownie Bar

Not long after taking a photo I snuck in a nibble of each piece and I was not disappointed. There was a value buy that meant 4 different flavours were purchased for a very reasonable price. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I believe they were chocolate, mars, raspberry and triple choc.

Farmers Market Chutney

It was well worth the trip for the brownies alone, however we also purchased from other stalls (after enjoying the fun of free samples) some Hoinsin duck sausages, Mumbai chutney, and tomato relish. I was impressed to see that the sausage vendor produced fructose free sausages, so I was quick to recommend them to a friend with special dietary requirements.

baketrays

Off we then went for a visit to my Mum’s house so she could give me some birthday gifts. To coincide with the cake decorating course that starts in a few weeks, she gave me some more cake tins and cooling racks. I’m under clear instructions from everyone in my family that it’s time for me to whip up some cakes this year. Being a fan of practical gifts, I have to say that this is one of the best birthday gifts I’ve ever gotten.

banana bread

I love to turn up with food or beverages when I visit, and today was no exception. We enjoyed some toasted banana bread and some hot tea for some brunch/morning tea. I picked up the loaf yesterday from an IGA in Hawthorn for $10. Considering how lovely it tasted, and how much I’ve paid for 1 slice in a cafe, I felt this was excellent value.

Loch Ness Monster

The LNM is training to compete in Tough Mudder when it comes to Melbourne at the end of March, so he has begun training with great vigour and has run over 30km, and cycled 10 km this week after work.

To mix things up today we went down to St Kilda so he could run on the sand and in the water to push himself a little harder (he later calculated that he ended up running another 10km today).

dumplings

This meant that I could happily wander around Fitzroy and Acland Street for a few hours and enjoy my own company. Pan fried vegetarian dumplings were munched away whilst reading the paper, and watching the world walk by as I sat outside for what felt like a peaceful eternity.

Acland Street bakery
Acland Street bakery
Acland Street bakery
Acland Street bakery

A trip to Acland Street would not be complete without drooling over the showcase displays of the European cake stores. I wasn’t looking for sweets so my eyes did all the eating.

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Long queues however were coming out of every ice-cream and gelati store in town, leaving me wondering what I was missing out on. Short on time I grabbed a convenience store favourite and enjoyed some Milo ice-cream.

The Loch Ness Monster and I met at our rendezvous point not long after and made the trek home for a protein shake, and to reminisce on what turned out to be a great Sunday afternoon.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in Foody

 

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