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

Monday, 3 December 2012

First home grown beet!

I planted some beetroot in the garden a little while ago and have been eagerly watching it grow. As M will testify, I'm quite impatient sometimes and I kept pulling the leaves aside to see if the beetroot had grown yet. Again and again it still wasn't big enough to pick. Until last weekend, when I realised I had a number of fully grown beets ready to go!

I pulled this little beauty up in my excitement and it's now in the fridge waiting to be turned into delicious roasted beetroot salad!

Kate eat-drink-dream

Friday, 30 November 2012

M's Wine Review - Tollana Pinot Noir 2008

I like a good pinot! The better ones can knock your socks off, they're mouth watering! - and usually they're very pricey. I found this particular wine at our local shop - Leo's in Heidelberg, it was discounted from $40 to $25 and I simply couldn't resist, especially after reading that this wine was rated a sound 95 points by James Halliday.

The full name is Tollana Robinson Family Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008, with the grapes sourced from the Mornington vineyard. The brand was established in 1888, with the company now focusing on making unique wines from various regions across Australia, including Mornington (pinot), Bendigo  (shiraz), Eden Vale (cabernet) and a few others. Their wines have won numerous awards and medals and the brand has been quoted as being the "winemakers brand".

This was a great wine! You could taste the smoothness, refinement and depth of a great vintage. It was very finely spiced, with warm decadent fruit flavours of black berry and plum coming through mid pallet. To my surprise it had great length and a certain consistency of flavour - maybe the right term is "smooth as silk".

I enjoyed it so much that I picked a few more bottles of this Pinot as well as the Tollana Brian and Julie Hurse Vinyard Bendigo Shiraz. I'll review that one some time when I finally get to it - it's currently enjoying a little more ageing!

Price range $25-40 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

M's Wine Review - Warrabilla Durif 2008

On our recent camping trip to Wye River on the Great Ocean Road our friends brought with them a bottle of Durif.

I must admit, I haven't had a Durif before. I had heard about it though, and after looking it up to find out a little more it seems to be a grape that has resulted from a cross pollination of Syrah (shiraz) and peloursin flowers. This grape grape is known as petite sirah.

The grape produces dark, inky coloured wine that can be relatively acidic, with a firm texture. Compared to a normal shiraz these wines are darker and look "heavy" in appearance. 

We started enjoying this wine late in the afternoon on the camp site, and if I was to summarise it, I'd say it's smooth, heavy, easy to drink and impenetrable. The reason why I say impenetrable, is because this is a heavy wine, it's almost a port! At 16% alcohol it isn't something you can have more than a glass or two of.

The Warrabilla Durif has vanilla flavours, some light spice, pleasant length and a certain degree of sweetness for which petite sirah is famous for.

I'd certainly have this wine again but it's probably best if you keep it to the end of the night!

Price Range $20-28

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Intimate meal at Casa Ciuccio

I've mentioned before that M loves planning a surprise. He'll often tell me to 'save the date' in my diary for a night out but will refuse to give any more info besides that. Even when I beg him for info so I 'know what to wear' it's top secret!

Last weekend we had a date reserved in the diary and so we headed out on a lovely evening on the north side of the city. First we had a drink at Naked for Satan which is a great bar on Brunswick St that distills their own vodka and have little pintxos - there's always a great vibe there. Then we met some friends at the Johnston St fiesta and wandered around with them - it was packed and VERY difficult to resist the delicious looking selection of food with gorgeous paella and chorizo smells wafting around! We did have some very good sangria though!

Then we separated from our friends for our 8.30pm booking at the 'mystery restaurant and wandered a few blocks down, ending up at Casa Ciuccio on Gertrude St. This little restaurant was started by the crew who own Bar Lourinha, including Matt McConnell whose brother Andrew co-owns Cutler and Co, Cumulus, Golden Fields and The Builders Arms. M said he had to book about 6 weeks in advance as it's pretty popular.

We had a nice little perch at the tall table in the second room overlooking the long kitchen. I used to really dislike not having a proper table when we went out but I think I'm actually becoming quite partial to it. It's really fun being able to watch the chefs at work and it's actually quite intimate as you sit much closer to your partner than if there's a table between you.

First we started with the yellow fin tuna 'a la galena' and the mussels with chorizo. I'd really hoped for a raw tuna dish as I was quite in the mood for it, but the tuna came out cooked in a chunk with potato on the bottom. It was nice, although probably not my favourite. The mussels were ok too, the flavour was quite delicate but seemed to be missing the big chorizo hit.

Next we had the baccala croqueta which we both really loved. It was salty and hot with a crispy outside and gooey inside - delicious!

Then came the squid and chickpeas which had a really nice flavour and was quite juicy and saucy. Followed closely by the northern king prawn with smoked chilli and lemon which I really liked but M wasn't so sure about. The prawn was certainly huge but not super easy to get out of the shell - I saw another couple struggling a bit too. I really liked the charred flavour of the prawn though. M thought it was a bit of a rip off for $9 per prawn!

We had a slightly more substantial dish course after this - sharing the John Dory with yoghurt and sesame and the asparagus, broad bean and mascarpone salad. We both really loved these dishes - they went perfectly together. The delicate flavour in the yoghurt and sesame was gorgeous and earthy and the creaminess off the mascarpone perfectly set off the the tanginess in the dressing.

Finishing on dessert was certainly a good choice. We had been debating whether to order another serve of croqueta and the asparagus but settled instead on the dulce de leche cream pot with peanut praline and the chocolate bunuelos with hazelnut sauce. The chocolate bunuelos were kind of like a rustic doughnut, and they were good, but the absolute stand out was the cream pot! The texture was deliciously smooth and the peanut praline on top was incredibly moreish! We had to draw a line down the middle with a spoon as I think M and I could have had a pot each!

Overall we really loved Casa Ciuccio and will be back for sure! There's still heaps on the menu we haven't tried and I'll be back even if just for the dessert!

Casa Ciuccio on Urbanspoon

Kate eat-drink-dream

Friday, 23 November 2012

Refreshing Summer Cocktail

M whipped up this cocktail on a warm Saturday afternoon, we'd just finished doing some gardening and it was gorgeous sitting in the sun sipping this! It had a slight pink colour and the lemon was a beautiful splash of yellow!

  • 45ml Tanqueray Gin
  • Slice of fresh lemon
  • Tiro lemon lime & bitters
  • Ice

Pour 45ml of Tanqueray into a short glass, add 4 large ice cubes, place a slice of fresh lemon and top up to the brim with Trio lemon lime & bitters.


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Footy grand final food!

Ok, so I know it's been a while since the footy grand final, but I had a minor tantrum and refused to blog until we got a new computer. Hence the delay in blog posts, but a much more pleasant and efficient way for me to write them - on a computer that actually works!

We had a few friends over to watch the grand final (AFL that is) and cooked up some 'footy food'. 

I made mini cheese and spinach pies (the same recipe as the one I posted here), and we tried out the pizza dough setting on our bread maker for the first time to make mini pizzas. I was on dough rolling duty and it seemed much easier to roll long skinny shapes than circles - so that's what they became! I call it rustic! M topped them with a mix of salami, tomato, olives, fetta, oregano and sundered tomato. They were delicious. I think next time we make them we'll get better at cooking them on the right temperature etc.

We brought the food out in two lots as the boys were pretty peckish after they came in from kicking the footy at half time out in the street!

Just a shame M's team didn't make it to the GF this year!

Kate eat-drink-dream

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Fresh asparagus and prawn spaghetti on a weeknight

While shopping the other day I saw beautiful fresh asparagus in the fruit and veg section - three bunches for a great price. And, asparagus being one of my favourite veggies, I picked three bunches up without any hesitation.

So during the week I knocked up this simple but delicious meal of asparagus, prawns and some pesto I made last summer from the freezer.

I don't think I even need to put the recipe in detail for this one, it's so simple. Saute some spring onions, add the prawns and pesto and continue cooking until prawns are done. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti and throw in the chopped asparagus about 4 mins before the end. Drain it, reserving a little pasta water then toss through with the prawn mixture, season with salt and plenty of pepper, adding the pasta water to loosen it up if need be. 

Enjoy - a great quick weekday meal!

Kate eat-drink-dream

Friday, 5 October 2012

Stuffed pasta shells - so much easier than cannelloni!

I was down in Hobart a few weekends ago and flipping through some old editions of my mum's Women's Weekly magazines when a recipe for zucchini and ricotta stuffed pasta shells caught my eye so I jotted the ingredients and rough steps down in my phone.
Last Sunday I thought I'd give it a go, it reminded me kind of cannelloni which I love, but find so fiddly to make. This is so much easier!

Normally for lasagne and things like this that require a tomato sauce I'll make it from scratch, but this time I was feeling lazy (and to be frank it was just M and I eating it) so I used a bottle of passata like the recipe said. I adapted it a little by throwing in some leftover red onion and sundried tomatoes and it tasted great!

Zucchini and ricotta stuffed baked shells - adapted from a Women's Weekly recipe
  • 2 zuchinnis, grated
  • 1 1/3 cups ricotta ( I guesstimated and just used a good chunk)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Good sprinkle of dried chilli
  • 1/2 cup parmesan (I used a good sprinkle)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Good handful of fresh herbs (I used oregano and parsley)
  • 1 jar of passata
  • Large pasta shells
  • Grated cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Spray a large baking dish with oil
  3. Put zuchinni, garlic, ricotta, chilli, parmesan, egg and yolk and herbs in bowl, mix until well combined. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Tip passata into baking dish. This is where I added the leftover red onion, finely chopped, and the sundried tomatoes and mixed through.
  5. Spoon ricotta mixture into shells and place them in dish. Fill as many shells as you can squeeze into dish.
  6. Sprinkle with cheese.
  7. Cover with foil, bake for 30 mins.
  8. Uncover and bake for 15-20mins.
  9. Serve with salad and enjoy!
Kate eat-drink-dream

Monday, 10 September 2012

Roast chicken and gravy

I’ve been craving roast chicken for a while but neither M or I particularly like the legs or wings on a roast and I hate to see them go to waste. So I thought I’d try roasting just a breast for our dinner and serve it up with some gravy and veg.
It actually worked surprisingly well, I was worried the breast might get a bit tough from being baked without skin on, but I seared it first and made sure I rested it and it was beautifully tender. I also made some cauliflower mash to go with it, a good friend of mine made this mash for me the other week and I thought it was so tasty I’d try to replicate it at home.
Kate’s roast chicken (breast) with gravy
  • 1 large skinless chicken breast
  • Vege Spice stock powder
  • Good quality olive oil
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Gravy powder
  1. 1-2 hours before (or the night before) make a few cuts in the thick end of the breast about 2cm apart to assist in cooking evenly through. Drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle a little Vege Spice powder over the top. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
  2. In a hot pan, sear the top of the chicken breast until golden brown, place into foil-lined baking tray and put into 180C oven for 25 mins.
  3. While chicken is cooking, make gravy by cooking up a few mushrooms in the pan you seared the chicken in, adding some gravy powder and water with salt and pepper.
  4. When chicken is cooked, remove from oven and cover with foil and 1-2 teatowels. Rest for 20-30 minutes.
  5. While chicken is resting, steam whatever veggies you want to serve with the meat and make your cauliflower mash. Add the juice from the bottom of the chicken pan to the gravy and reheat.
  6. Serve and enjoy!
Cauliflower mash
  • Half a cauliflower
  • A knob of butter
  • A dash of milk
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Cut the florets from half a cauliflower along with most of the stalk.
  2. Chop them until they’re in small pieces – ½-1 cm in size.
  3. Heat heavy-based saucepan and melt a good sized knob of butter.
  4. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, for approx 5-10 minutes until cauliflower is soft.
  5. Puree in a food processor or with a whiz stick (that’s what I used but the cauliflower was a little lumpy) along with a dash of milk and salt and pepper to bring it to the right consistency.
Kate eat-drink-dream

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

M's wine review - Tatachilla Reserve Shiraz 2008

What I liked when I purchased the first 6 bottles of this delicious Tatachilla Reserve Shiraz 2008 was:

1) Great traditional shiraz flavour
2) Good length
3) Excellent value

I liked it so much that I followed it up with another 6, but of the 2009 vintage.

The flavour of the 2008 is straight forward and traditional - blackberry, pepper, dark chocolate, oak, tannins and enough structure for medium term cellaring. Fast forward 3-4 years I'm on my last bottle of the 2008 vintage and it's very smooth, easy drinking and still just as enjoyable as when I first tried it. I'd like to have more!

Because I enjoyed the 2008 vintage so much I followed up with a purchase of the 2009 vintage. At the time of tasting the 2009 vintage, in my opinion, it was just as good as 2008, maybe even bigger in length and intensity. However, having waited 2-3 years and tasted both vintages in the same week I can honestly say that the 2008 is a much better wine. The 2009 just doesn't seem to have the same smoothness and perfectly layered structure. It's still a good wine but nothing to get excited about (however at this price point it's great).

I'd say both are a good midweek or Sunday night drop, but I favour the 2008 over the 2009. I suspect the 2009 was made in a slightly different way, trying to mimic the previous vintage, and at the time it did, but in terms of cellaring the 2008 has aged more gracefully.

Price range $13-16

Sunday, 2 September 2012

My first attempt at Corn Fritters

Yesterday M was off on a bucks day and I decided to send him off with a nice big brekkie. If I’m out for breakfast and there’s corn fritters on the menu I can’t help but order it, it’s one of my favourite brekkies when done well. We love smoked salmon and avocado and often include these in our brekkie repertoire so I decided to attempt corn fritters with the aforementioned ingredients and poached eggs.

The fritters were actually really easy, I just googled a recipe and used this one on, instead of spring onion I substituted red onion and instead of chives I used fresh parsley from the garden. I halved the recipe and used a 300g tin of corn, it was just the right amount for 2 people for brekkie. I served them up with the salmon, mashed avocado, poached eggs, rocket, some herby mayo and a wedge of lemon.

I definitely recommend giving these a try!

Kate eat-drink-dream

Thursday, 23 August 2012

My first home grown lemons

We planted our lemon tree when we first bought our house, over the past 3 years I’ve been carefully watering, fertilising and caring for it. Each year when the buds and small lemons have appeared I’ve diligently removed all of them so the tree could focus its energy on growing rather than producing fruit.

But this year I thought I’d see how it went with fruit. So I didn’t remove any buds and slowly over the last few months I’ve seen little lemons grow and turn yellow!

I’m so excited as I’ve just picked and used my first lemons off the tree in a delicious salad dressing! They taste fantastic, they’re quite small but pack a sharp lemony punch. Hopefully many more lemons in the years to come!

Kate eat-drink-dream

Saturday, 18 August 2012

M's wine review - The Colonial Estate Emigre 2009

The first wine review that I wrote on the eat-drink-dream blog was of the Colonial Estate Exile Shiraz 2009 - an excellent wine which I've enjoyed on more than one occasion.

A couple of months ago I decided to try some of the other wines in the Colonial range and purchased the ‘Emigre’. It’s a blend of various grapes sourced from four different vineyards. The core grape is grenache which makes this wine very different to the ‘Exile’ which is a single vineyard shiraz.

The ‘Emigre’ is fantastic! It's a very good wine, it is complex with a rich variety of berries, violet, chocolate and pepper. It has many layers to it with very fine, well integrated tannins and good length. It is a quality wine with plenty of body and fruitiness!

Whilst making an investment in the ‘Emigre’ I was also swayed to give the ‘Alexander Liang’ - single vineyard old vine grenache a try. I'll open this one in the next few months!

Price range $25-30

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Laksa on a cold wintery night

One of our favourite Friday night meals is a good warming laksa. They’re so quick and easy to put together and we’ve generally got most of the ingredients at home already.

I concocted this one last Friday night and it was a great way to start the weekend. You can basically throw anything in you want but our standard combination is prawns, bean sprouts (which add a great crunch), snow peas, broccoli and egg. In the last laksa I used frozen peas instead of snow peas and used up some left-over tomato on top, you can also use chicken, tofu, fish, mushrooms, capsicum… really any veggie or meat you have left over.

Kate and M’s Friday night laksa
  • 1.5-2 cakes of rice noodles
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 small tin of light coconut milk
  • Veggie stock or stock powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons of good quality laksa paste (depending on how hot you like it and how much spice your paste has got)
  • 3-4 spring onions, chopped finely
  • Prawns (as many as you want)
  • 4 florets of broccoli
  • A handful of snow peas, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • A handful of bean sprouts
  • 1-2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons lime juice

  1. To prepare rice noodles, place in bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 3-5 mins (check your packet instructions) and when tender strain and divide into bottom of soup bowls. Don’t worry about these going cold or sticking together as this’ll be fixed when you pour the hot soup over.
  2. Get the eggs on to hard boil, everyone has their own method but I cover with cold water, put over medium heat and keep an eye on them until they come to the beginning of a simmer. When bubbles are just beginning to rise to the surface I put the timer on for 7 minutes. When done I drain and put under cold running water until cool enough to peel.
  3. I also cook the broccoli in the same pan as the hard boiled eggs, I just pop them in when there’s about 3-4 minutes to go.
  4. In heavy based saucepan add chopped spring onions and your laksa paste. Saute for a few minutes until fragrant.
  5. Add coconut milk and enough stock (or boiling water and stock powder) to make the volume of soup enough for 2 people (I just judge it by eye).
  6. Heat until simmering then throw in the prawns for 1-2 mins, then add the snow peas and simmer until both are cooked.
  7. Stir through the sugar and lime juice and adjust to taste.
  8. Divide the bean sprouts in half and arrange on top of noodles in bowls. Ladle soup over noodles and sprouts, dividing prawns and snow peas between the bowls.
  9. Finish off by topping with broccoli and halved, peeled eggs. If you’re feeling fancy you can garnish with some leftover spring onion or bean sprouts. In this picture I also used up the leftover tomato.

 Kate eat-drink-dream

Sunday, 12 August 2012

M's wine review - St. Erth Pinot Noir 2010

Pinot noir is a popular and fast growing wine variety. I recently heard that pinot grapes are in shortage and in the current year the excess pinot grown in Tasmania has been bought out by other producers - so large is the demand. I like pinots, they're classy, pleasant to drink with a large variety of dishes and you could easily have more than one bottle as they're a lot lighter than a shiraz or a cab sav.

Personally I've always preferred a mid-bodied pinot over the lighter styles, probably as I feel right at home with a good glass of shiraz. Recently I have started enjoying the lighter variety (easily spotted as it usually has an almost translucent red colour).

Pinot is best grown in cooler climates, in particular Tasmania and Victoria. André Tchelistcheff America's most influential post-prohibition winemaker declared that "God made cabernet sauvignon whereas the devil made pinot noir." It is much less tolerant of hard, windy, hot and dry, harsh vineyard conditions than the likes of cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, merlot, or grenache.

I purchased this wine without knowing much about it. What got me this time was the ‘single vineyard’ statement. Arguably wines from a single vineyard are better quality - basically grapes aren’t purchased in bulk. The wine was good for its price, I wouldn't say it's in the top echelon of pinot but it's easy to drink, pleasant enough to serve to guests. It's an honest wine, without shooting the lights out. In the sub $15 segment it's a steal!

Price range $14-18

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Sunday brunch with friends

Last Sunday we had some friends over for brunch, both couples with their gorgeous 4 month old babies, we had a lovely morning chatting over coffee and good food.

I made a Nigella Lawson recipe for a baked Croque Monsieur, I haven’t made it in a while but I think that’s going to change as I’d forgotten how delicious it is, and really easy! It’s especially good for a brunch as it has to sit for a minimum of an hour before you bake it, but it can be done as early as the night before.

Essentially you make ham and cheese sandwiches with mustard, soak them in egg, cover with more cheese and Worcestershire sauce, bake and voila! The first time I made this I went over-easy on the mustard and Worcestershire sauce, but believe me there’s NO need! The mustard and sauce flavours mellow with baking, so what might seem a little intense raw is delicious when cooked!

Nigella’s baked Croque Monsieur

  • 6 slices of bread (I used a sourdough, Nigella recommends wholemeal)
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard (I just spread a good dollop on each piece of bread without bothering about measuring too much)
  • 6 slices of Gruyere/Swiss cheese
  • 3-6 slices of ham (depending on preference, I like mine at least double thickness)
  • 3-4 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Grated Gruyere/Swiss cheese for top (I used approx 1 cup)
  • Good sprinkle of Worcestershire sauce

  1. Spread each slice of bread with mustard. Make sandwiches by putting a slice of cheese on each piece of bread with 1 or 2 slices of hame between them.
  2. Cut each sandwich in half to make two triangles (I cut in hald across-ways instead as it fitted my baking dish better).
  3. Squish the sandwiches into a lightly greased baking dish.
  4. Beat together the eggs and milk with a springling of salt and pepper.
  5. Pour egg mixutre over the sandwiches tightly packed in the dish, make sure you cover all the bread on the surfect.
  6. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour, up to overnight.
  7. Preheat oven to 200C.
  8. Remove clingfilm from dish and give a good sprinkle of Worcestershire sauce, cover with grated cheese and bake uncovered for 25 mins.
  9. Enjoy

Kate eat-drink-dream