Saturday, 27 April 2013

A gorgeous morning at the Abbotsford Convent farmers' market!

This morning we headed down to the Abbotsford Convent for their farmers' market. We love the convent and often go down to wander through the gardens. They have a great craft market there too, but we'd never been to the farmers' market before. We got there fairly early, around 9.30am which turned out to be a good move as we got a park straight away; when we were leaving the line of cars to enter snaked around half the block! 

We really really enjoyed the market! We'll definitely be going again! Such an array of beautiful produce it was difficult to decide what to try/buy. We wandered through to the back courtyard and I picked up some beautiful Holy Goat La Luna goats cheese, they had some gorgeous varieties on tasting and I was very tempted to get more but unfortunately M isn't the biggest goats cheese fan! 

We also had an AMAZING salted caramel doughnut at the Movida bakery stand... Unfortunate we gobbled it a little too quickly and we didn't get a snap!

We picked up the cheese, some lovely free range eggs, some swiss brown mushies for brekkie tomorrow, some dee-lish rhubarb pickle and some Dutch Cream potatoes which we're going to have with our dinner tonight! 

And here's the delicious meal we cooked with those fabulous potatoes! M's favourite chicken schnitzels, salad fresh from the garden with dill, garlic, lemon and radish, and potatoes boiled and tossed in extra virgin olive oil and fresh parsley!

Kate eat-drink-dream

Friday, 25 January 2013

A healthy summer meal with family

While my parents were here for Christmas we had some lovely summer meals together. 

One night we had dinner at our place with Mum, Dad, my sister and nephew and I made Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Happy Cow burgers. I saw this on the 15 minute meals program and made it for M and I. We loved them so I kept them  up my sleeve for next time Mum and Dad visit as they follow a macrobiotic diet

I also made a simple broccoli, bean and spinach salad dressed with lemon and olive oil and a fabulous Nigella Lawson recipe for soba noodle salad which I've made many times before. Often I’ll make a quick spicy tomato sauce to go with veggie burgers but as it was so hot I made a chopped tomato salsa instead with onion and basil. 

It was a really nice simple summer meal, made even better by having my parents there with me!

Jamie Oliver's Happy Cow Burgers - with my small changes

  • 1 bunch fresh coriander (Jamie uses the stalks and keeps the leaves for salad, but I just used a slightly smaller bunch and used the whole thing)
  • 1 400g tin mixed beans
  • 200g frozen broad beans (the 2nd time I made this I ran out of beans with 100g to go so used frozen peas to top it up, it worked fine)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin (I double this)
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander (I double this)
  • Zest of 1 lemon (I didn't use this the 2nd time and it still tasted good)
  • 1 heaped tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting

  1. Put all ingredients into a food processor and whiz until smooth and combined. NB: I found the first time I did it the beans needed to sit for 20 mins before I whizzed them as they were too frozen to puree properly.
  2. Make into patty shapes and dust in flour
  3. Fry in olive oil until brown all over and serve!

The first time I made these we tried eating them in a burger bun (like Jamie recommended in his book) but they were too soft and went all over the place. We've since just had them more like a patty than in a burger - but still good nonetheless!

Kate eat-drink-dream

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Quick and easy summer salmon

We love smoked salmon and eat quite a lot of it, but usually the traditional cold smoked thin sliced. Recently I noticed the packets of hot smoked salmon sitting in the fridge at the supermarket while I was browsing and thought I'd pick one up. The advantage of them is that they have a long fridge life (up to a month) so I've taken to keeping a packet in the fridge for use as a quick weeknight meal or weekend lunch.

One of my favourite new brunches with this hot smoked salmon is to use it on crispy toasted sourdough. I tossed it through with some chopped coriander, spinach leaves, spring onions, tomato, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper and spread the toast with good quality mayo. A delicious quick snack.

And another new invention is this chopped green salad. In this one I tossed the salmon with cooked green beans, asparagus, peas, cucumber, chopped baby spinach, lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper. I think M and I will be eating many more light easy meals like this over summer!

Kate eat-drink-dream

Sunday, 20 January 2013

M's Wine Review - Fulcrum Chardonnay 2010

On one of my many visits to Dan Murphy's I met one of the winemakers from Fulcrum wines. He was doing a tasting of his Chardonnay and Pinot varieties. After having a quick chat I tried two vintages of his Chardonnay, the 2011 and 2010. Both struck me as odd. I was expecting that classic creamy chardonnay flavour, or a more modern acidic and exciting chardonnay variety, yet I was presented with a completely different and most un-chardonnay like wine!

I wasn't sure what to make of it, so I bought the 2010 vintage as I thought it tasted better.

In a nut shell, it is a simple wine. It is very gentle at first so you don't get that overbearing chardonnay flavour. It is nicely balanced with mild, almost straw-like, flavours. This is followed by some lime and citrus coming through the back of the pallet. The wine is easy to drink, and also very easy to enjoy. It isn't a standout chardonnay in its own right but seems like a mixture of very fine chardonnay-like flavours.

This is what the wine makers wrote about this wine:
Fulcrum Chardonnay is a new wine by Gippsland’s young gun, William Downie and long time friend and colleague, Jason Searle. Inspired by the wines they enjoyed over meals during stints in Burgundy, this Chardonnay is a lovely Mâcon style. Lovely texture and palate weight supported by touches of almond and white flowers. 
It's certainly something different and will appeal to most!

Price range $18-25

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Gourmet camping at Wye River

I only discovered camping in 2012, but we've been twice. After our first camping experiment we went out and bought a bigger 3 room tent and we finally got to test it out in November last year when we went to Wye River campsite with some friends and my sister and nephew. I really love the chilled out vibe and we basically spend our days reading, chatting and preparing and eating good food. 

I won't go in to detail about every great meal we ate on our recent camping trip, I'll let the pictures tell the story. But highlights would have to be the delicious bread that's baked fresh every morning at the Wye River General Store, the day sitting in the rain sipping Chandon with crushed strawberries, the delicious fish and chips at the Wye Beach Hotel and of course toasting marshmallows and popping popcorn with my gorgeous nephew.

Looking forward to even more camping in 2013!

Wye River General Store on Urbanspoon Wye Beach Hotel on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Christmas Feasting - Part 2 Christmas Day

Following our epic Christmas Eve we re-booted ready to go again! Christmas wasn't over yet and a beautiful balmy day greeted us on the 25th of December, my big sister was hosting Christmas Day dinner.

I'd say our family's celebration is fairly normal Australian - apart from the macrobiotic dishes for Mum and Dad we still have most of the traditional dishes and some seafood too.

We arrived to a perfect start - a bottle of champers and some fresh oysters and gorgeous marinated grilled prawns. We sat outside and chatted for a while, enjoying the warm evening.

Following this we moved inside to the beautifully set dining table and a feast of turkey, glazed ham, bread sauce (my all time favourite), gravy and salmon served with fennel remoulade. We had some gorgeous modern salads too, a bean, pea and sprout salad, a fresh potato salad and a delightfully Christmassy cous cous, pistachio and cherry salad.

After a little break we had a traditional dessert - hot Christmas pudding with brandy butter, cream and an alcoholic berry and fruit salad. It's the only time of the year I eat pudding like this, but boy do I like it! Excuse the dodgy photo, I'd had a few wines by then and nearly forgot to snap one before it was devoured!

Overall it was a sensational Christmas Day, spending time with loved ones, good food and good wine! The perfect way to top off a few days of feasting!

Hope your Christmas celebrations were as good as ours!

Kate eat-drink-dream

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Christmas Feasting - Part 1 Christmas Eve

I love Christmas! It’s a special time of year to get together with family and friends for a special tradition.

Since meeting M we celebrate Christmas both on Christmas Day and on Christmas Eve which is the Polish way. I've become quite attached to some of the traditional Polish celebrations too, they're lovely in sentiment and the food is delicious! 

This year my parents came over from Tasmania and we celebrated as a big family of in-laws on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 

Polish Christmas is vegetarian and seafood and we had some of my favourite food. Technically there's 12 dishes, one for every month of the year, including: Barszcz (beetroot soup with dumplings), salatka (a creamy potato salad), gorgeous smoked salmon from the local Polish deli, golabki (cabbage rolls), some lovely fish fillets and of course, everyone's favourite, pierogi (dumplings) stuffed with potato, onion and cheese and some stuffed with cabbage and mushrooms, served with sour cream.

For dessert we had a smorgasbord of cakes - cheesecake, sponge cake, poppyseed cake, wafelki (I've blogged about them before) and a Christmas specialty - kutia. This dish is made from wheat, honey and poppy seeds and tradition says that the more kutia you eat the more wealth will come in the following year. It's an acquired tasted but I quite like it.

And of course, it wouldn't be a Polish celebration without some traditional Polish vodka! My father-in-law brought out a bottle of zubrowka which is flavoured with Bison Grass, they leave one beautiful slender blade in the bottle when the make it. We drank it straight however I'm quite fond of it mixed with good apple juice, it tastes just like apple pie!

Tomorrow I'll publish our Christmas Day summary, so come back then for some more feasting goodness!

Kate eat-drink-dream

Saturday, 29 December 2012

M's Wine Review - Le Chat Noir Sauvignon Blanc 2011

French wine. I'm new to it, having mainly grown up on Australian wine, the French though, they've been making it for ages and you can certainly taste the results in the produce! 

This is a sensational sauvignon blanc! It is different, very different, to Australian and New Zealand sauv blanc. At first glance the colour is darker, almost Chardonnay like, which is unusual as sauv blanc is usually a light coloured wine, an indication of the youthfulness of the picked grapes. A darker colour usually means the grapes have been picked when they're more ripe. 

This wine tastes complete, it has hints of honey, just a little bit of sweetness, plenty of fruit, some acidity but certainly nothing like what I'm used to with local sauv blancs. It is a more full and mature wine, which goes down too easily. It isn't as mineral in taste as New Zealand sauv blancs which suits me just fine.

I'm rating this one very highly, and it's made me want to try others from France! The uniqueness of the flavour is truly spectacular and most importantly delicious!

Price range $20-25

Friday, 21 December 2012

Hot pink beetroot risotto!

You might have seen my post on the first beetroot we harvested from the garden. Well, shortly after that and all of a sudden our beetroot seemed to be ready to eat - all of it! 

After a couple of roasted beet salads we were trying to think of another way to use them up. I remembered a friend, Jane, had made me a delicious beetroot and dill risotto for dinner a few months ago so thought I'd try a recipe inspired by this!

Jane's recipe called for juicing the beets and as we don't have a juicer I kinda improvised. I also couldn't be bothered pre-cooking the beetroot but needed to make sure the beets weren't still crunchy. I was cooking my risotto in our risotto maker too (I tend to use it for easy weeknight meals). So my strategy was to cut the beetroots up into very small cubes (around 1/2 cm) hoping they'd cook in around the same time as the rice. And, luckily, it worked!

The risotto was really flavoursome and I served it with some steamed asparagus and dill and yoghurt sauce. A nice simple meal!

Kate's version of beetroot and dill risotto
Serves 4

  • 1 x brown onion, chopped finely
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups of arborio rice
  • Dash of verjuice or white wine (optional)
  • 2-3 largish fresh beetroots, peeled and diced into 1/2 cm cubes
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1/2 bunch of dill, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Yoghurt sauce
  • A few large spoons of greek yoghurt
  • Handful of dill, chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon

  1. Saute the onion and garlic in some olive oil and a knob of butter until transparent.
  2. Add rice and stir to coat with oil, cook stirring for 3-4 mins.
  3. Add a dash of verjuice or white wine if you've got it (not super essential, but I had some in the fridge)
  4. Add cubed beetroot and stock. If using a risotto maker add all stock at once, if cooking on the stove add stock about a cup at a time as it absorbs.
  5. After about 15-20 mins stir through the dill.
  6. After about 30 mins both the rice and the beetroot should be cooked.
  7. Season and stir through additional stock or water if required to loosen.
  8. To make yoghurt sauce stir all ingredients together and add a little water to loosen.
  9. Serve risotto with yoghurt sauce and steamed asparagus.

Kate eat-drink-dream

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

M's wine review - Chateau Paul Mas Coteaux Du Languedoc

French wine is a bit foreign to me. We certainly don't drink a lot of it and tend to stick with Australian wine, however over the last few years it seems like French wine has become a lot more popular. This particular wine comes from the south west of France.

This wine is a SGM blend - 85% Syrah, 10% Grenache and 5% of Mourvèdre. It's not often you find this sort of blend, although I'm on the lookout, as the more of these I try, the more I like them. They're interesting, unique and really open up the flavour pallet.

I'm going to get straight to the point - I've tried 3 vintages of this wine over the last 12 months - and each has been excellent!

2006 - Wow! Very smooth, so easy to drink, plenty of flavour, great length, simply a pleasure. If you can find this vintage I'd pick it over other wines in the $50+ range as this wine is stunning!

2007 - Excellent, but not as smooth as the 2006. It certainly felt like a slightly different wine, perhaps not as refined as the previous - most likely a reflection of the growing season.

2010 - Fantastic! It's still a very young wine, but the structure, flavour, complexity is all there. I'm very keen to keep this vintage for another 4-5 years and see how it develops. If its anything like the 2006 (which on initial consumption seemed very similar) it will be outstanding!

I need to get a few more of these into the wine rack. They're certainly worth it!

BTW I love the "serious looking" French label!

Price range $16-20

Saturday, 15 December 2012

M's Wine Review - Intrepid Sauvignon Blanc 2011

This particular sauvignon blanc comes from the Awatere Valley in the Marlborough region of New Zealand. Although I have to say that the large amount of sauvignon blanc coming out of this area has put me off buying this wine variety. To a certain extent this has been driven by the large amount of cheap and nasty "sav blanc" in the market, with my white wine buying in recent times more focused on rediscovering the riesling and chardonnay varieties. 

Nevertheless, I like a good sauv blanc, and one that jumps to mind which I reviewed last summer and really enjoyed is the Alan McCorkindale Sauvignon Blanc 2011 - it was fabulous!

One thing I've learned about sauv blancs is that they are much better if you keep them out of the fridge for around 10min before serving. As the temperature rises from the fridge level (usually 3-5 degrees) to around 7-9 degrees the flavour in the wine becomes a lot more pronounced. I'd stay away from warming it up beyond 10 degrees or more but that 7-9 range seems to be best!

I like this wine, it has the classic acidity that Sauvignon is known for; aromatic citrus, a honey like sweetness and a generous mid pallet aftertaste. It is very pleasant and easy to drink . It doesn't have that light mineral texture as some other wines in the range have but it certainly isn't heavy. My wife Kate says it is "sharp and crisp in a nice way, with citrus and even peppermint flavours" coming through.

I think this is a great value summer drop!

Price range $15-19

Thursday, 13 December 2012

A kitchen experiment - tandoori chicken pie

At my work we have a canteen on-site for employees only. Besides the couple of other cafes near where I am there's not much within walking distance so I'll often pop in to see what they're making. They put a menu up in our kitchen area at the start of each week so we know what's on offer - and a litte while ago the 'Tandoori Chicken Pie' caught my eye. It was surprisingly delicious, had great rich flavour, and when I was scoffing it down at my desk a few people asked about the delicious smell!

So I resolved to give a new pie variety a go! I make a decent pie, but only ever a couple of types and pies are so versatile that I don't know why I don't make them more often!

I cooked up this pie with onion, tandoori paste, chicken, mushroom and spinach and it worked surprisingly well! I didn't get it quite like the one at work, but it was certainly very tasty and richly flavoured. M insisted on putting tomato ketchup on it as he does with all pies - no matter the flavour!

Kate eat-drink-dream

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Sunday morning at Lip Cafe Ivanhoe

This morning we were having a lie in and M spontaneously said let's go out for brekkie. So we bundled into the car and drove the 2 mins down the road to Lip Cafe in Ivanhoe. It's a little place on Waterdale rd behind the main Ivanhoe strip that we've frequently driven past and thought we should try.

So we arrived to a bustling little cafe full of young families and nabbed the last table inside. Looking at the menu I was really excited about our meal. We were right next to the kitchen and I could see delicious looking brekkies emerging. 

I ordered the 'Salmon + Rosti', served with homemade beetroot relish, avocado and a poached egg and M had the 'Fez Lip', Moroccan beans, chorizo, fried egg and toast.

I was determined to like Lip, it had a great vibe, friendly staff, the food looked good... But when my meal arrived looking like the photo below, tiny, sparse and not very appetizing I was a bit disappointed. 'Oh well' I told myself, 'it might taste better than it looks'. The rosti was certainly very tasty I would have demolished one as a side but as the main part of the meal perhaps a little small, my poached egg was as poached eggs should be and my avocado was ripe. But that's about where it stopped... The beetroot relish was one of the strangest things I've tasted, I didn't like it at all, it tasted bland and not beetrooty, and the salmon tasted a bit strange... After my meal I was also not even close to full.

M's meal on the other hand arrived steaming hot and looking great. I tried some and had extreme food envy, it was lovely, mushy beans with great flavour and spicy crispy chorizo. The bread was great quality and M really enjoyed it. He kindly shared a couple of bites with me, lovely husband!

So, to summarise Cafe Lip: I was a bit disappointed, M liked it, but I think we'll still visit again and try something else off the menu. I do like to support local businesses and everyone deserves a second chance.

Kate eat-drink-dream

Lip Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

A special meal for Mum's birthday

My parents live in another state, so I make sure I really appreciate the time I spend with them when I visit or when they come over here. This year I was lucky to have Mum and Dad with us in Melbourne for Mum's birthday. As I usually don't get to see her on her birthday I wanted to make it extra special for her, so planned a birthday dinner party with M and I, my sister, her son and Mum and Dad.

As it was a birthday celebration I wanted to make the table look really pretty - I love these red tea light candle holders and I picked up some gorgeous pink roses which looked really stunning with the candles at night.

For starters I did us some finger food that we could nibble on while we talked. I bought some beautiful fresh oysters from our local fishmonger and made rice paper rolls and thai fish cakes. I've made rice paper rolls a few times before and usually serve them with sweet chilli sauce, but this time I wanted to try to replicate the sauce you get with them when you buy them at the vietnamese shops. So I googled online to look at a few recipes and ended up making one from hoisin sauce, peanut butter, vinegar, oil and water and it worked really well! The entrees got gobbled up really quickly - can you believe my 7 year old nephew adores oysters!

For mains I did a squid ink risotto as I thought it'd be something a bit different - I've blogged about it here before (LINK). I served it with a side of roasted garlicky potatoes and roasted eggplant which I tossed together after they baked. I hadn't roasted eggplant before but it turned out really well - I coated it in olive oil, honey and red wine vinegar before roasting and it gave it a lovely sweet flavour.

We had a lovely night and I think the parents really enjoyed themselves - which is what matters!

Kate eat-drink-dream