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