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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Monday, 5 December 2011

Sweetness and Light :: Flour and Stone, Woolloomoolloo

Craving a coffee and something to quell the post-pool tummy rumbles I convinced Mr T we had to check out a recent addition to the cafe/bakery scene, Flour and Stone.  After a compelling write up by @aptronym on the Sydney Tarts site we were hopeful it would hit the spot.
That it did! Mr T who has been on a health kick of late has shunned all baked goods for nearly three months so I was surprised as he was captivated by the gorgeous delights in this lovely bakery. A chocolate brioche, fine apple tart and toasted sandwich made of brioche toast filled buffalo mozarella, ripe tomatoes and basil joined the Coffee Alchemy brew at our table.  Mr T doesn't eat cooked fruit of any description but as he happily tucked into the caramelly goodness of the fine apple tart I was left quite bemused. The flaky pastry base and whisper thin slice would be enticing for anyone!
Lining the display is an array of gorgeously decorated ginger bread cookies made famous by Cookie Couture's Nadine Ingram.  While only stopping for a short visit I grab a decadent looking block of white chocolate nougat to gift my afternoon tea hostess that afternoon. Can't wait to hear what she thought!  Flour and Stone have adopted the tagline "Baked for Love, Life & Happiness" and given the decadent treats on offer and their careful attention to detail they are living up to it. Passionate staff enthusiastically answer questions and share their love for what they do. Oh to bottle that energy!
There is no doubt that there is something for every sweet or savoury tooth to enjoy and I know that the tranquility we enjoyed on Saturday morning won't last long as this lovely spot grows in popularity!
53 Riley Street
Woolloomooloo



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Sunday, 4 December 2011

A Cause for Celebration at Cotton Duck, Surry Hills

I took full advantage of marking my graduation day with the opportunity to have dinner at Cotton Duck where I had been keen to visit for a while particularly after exchanging much rugby world cup banter with their twitter account (any cause for kiwis to go nuts!). Chef Jared Ingersoll's comittment to ethical and sustainable produce has also been a drawcard.  It lived up to its promise and proved magic can be made close to home using the freshest ingredients.

Sitting at the edge of Surry Hills' bustling dining district, Cotton Duck is an urban oasis of calm. The industrial finish of concrete floors are softened by beautiful ply wood sculptured lighting and a growing feature wall.  It is unpretentious Sydney dining at its best. Lovely staff are attentive but quietly go about their business without interfering with your evening. With an open view to the kitchen you can watch the unfrenzied preparation of your meals. Even with the hard finished interior I was struck by how little noise was generated in the kitchen. Many suburban cafes could learn a thing or two on what a difference it makes to your dining experience. The "moustachioed" team in the kitchen were also clearly having fun this evening with their music selection and we enjoyed hearing a soulful blend from Fat Freddy's Drop to D'Angelo. We could have partied with these guys any day!

We grew mildly concerned when two dishes we were keen to get were not available that evening (we hadn't got to ordering mains yet!) but we needn't have been concerned. As each course came to our table we had moments of sheer magic as flavours burst in our mouth. There was a lot of sharing of dishes and "try this" happening at our table. It is also delightful that this is a venue that brings wonderfully bread rolls to your table, a chance to try a delicious taste plate (Crispy yam and the smokiest babaganoush and it was delicious) and close with a simple petit four of fresh cherries dipped in chocolate.  

Cotton Duck epitomises the theory of "surprising and delighting" its customers. Each dish had a "mouth popping" finish leaving us in little doubt we would be back again soon.

Cotton Duck
50 Holt Street
Surry Hills 


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* We were not guests of Cotton Duck and all meals were paid in full

Posted via email from @RadhikaR's Internal Dialogue

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Xanthi Westfield Sydney - A Culinary Adventure

I've been finally going through a few photos on my phone this evening and it suddenly dawned on me that I've taken so few photos of our recent foodgasms at Xanthi of Westfield Sydney!  

The largesse of this dominant chain of malls can be pretty off putting as far as food experiences go, however the latest addition to the group in the centre of Sydney City has proven to be worthy of attracting some of the city's finest culinary artists willing to associate their stable of restaurants with this enteprise. That can only mean great things for diners!

I had been meaning to go to David Tsirekas' "Perama" restaurant of Petersham for at least a couple of years and when I learned earlier this year that he was closing up shop after many years of trading in the inner west to take a spot in the new shopping district I was filled with trepidation! How could I miss out (love Greek food) and will a new venue detract from the delicious authenticity that Perama was so loved for? 

Well I needn't have worried at all - in its short life, my husband and I have already managed three visits, each as delicious as the first!  We're never short of excuses to suggest taking guests either. To prove how the excitingly tantalising the menu is - we're always far too busy eating to take too many "food porn" pics - so big apologies for that but well I do this for fun!

I can say categorically that the wonderful tasting plates of Apo tin plastira include a must-try pork baklava and the Kyria (mains) feature the delicious lamb skaras that will fulfil all desires for Greek-style lamb.  You will find among the few photos the exquisite caramel baklava ice cream which is in a non-word "ZOMG".  

Xanthi does a great job of making you feel the banquet option is an experience rather than a compromise so if you are venturing unchartered territory give it a go and don't forget to come back here and tell me what you thought! Or tell me I'm crackers!

Xanthi
Level 6, Westfield Sydney
Cnr Pitt Street Mall and Market Street

 


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Posted via email from @RadhikaR's Internal Dialogue

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A Trisected History of Rap

Not really sure how I missed this when they first came out but I have since made up for it I promise! I have to give considerable kudos to  the talent on these. Justin Timberlake, already recognised as somewhat a comic genius and quite the media darling. But the surprise for those of outside the US, is how incredible Jimmy Fallon is.  A real step away from the usual level of talent from the plethora of late night show presenters that are so popular there.

I loved the trip down memory lane with some of these, the arrangement is very clever, some great iconic tracks represented and pretty fly for a couple of white guys!  (humour: this is not a political statement. Living in Sydney I have learned hip hop has no colour bar which is awesome).

So here they are to save you having to search for them. Enjoy! (before they get pulled again!)

 

 

 

Posted via email from @RadhikaR's Internal Dialogue

Friday, 4 November 2011

Cook's Thesaurus: Indian Spices

ajwain = ajwain seed = carom seed = bishop's weed = ajowan = ajowan seed = ajwon = ajwan  Pronunciation:   AHJ-a-wahn  Notes:   These look like small caraway seeds, but they taste like a pungent version of thyme.  Indian cooks like to sprinkle them on breads.  Look for them in Indian markets.  Substitutes:  dried thyme (use more) OR cumin OR caraway

ajowan (seed)  See ajwain.

amchoor = amchur = umchoor = green mango powder = aamchur = amchor = dried green mango = dried mango powder   Notes:   This is made from sun-dried mangoes, and it's used as a souring agent or to tenderize meats.  Indian or Middle Eastern grocery stores carry it.  Substitutes:  lemon juice OR lime juice OR tamarind OR chopped fresh mango (use more) OR chopped fresh papaya (use more)

amchur  See amchoor

 

asafetida [ah-sah-FEH-teh-dah] = asafoetida powder = asafoetida = hing = devil's dung = ferula = foetida = food of the gods = heeng = imguva    This powdered gum resin imparts a very strong onion-garlic flavor to Indian dishes. Use it sparingly—a little goes a long way.  Look for it in Indian or health food stores or in the spice section of larger supermarkets.  Substitutes:  omit it from the recipe OR garlic powder OR onion powder

asfetida  See asafetida (powder)

bishop's weed  See ajwain

black cardamom  See brown cardamom.

black cumin seeds = royal cumin seeds = kala jeera = shahi jeera = saah jeera  Pronunciation:   KUH-min   Notes:   Indian cooks use this spice in many of their curries and tandoori dishes.  It's darker and sweeter than ordinary cumin.  To bring out its nutty flavor, it helps to toast the seeds briefly before using them.   Substitutes:  cumin (Not as sweet as black cumin.) OR nigella

black mustard seeds  Notes:   Indian cooks prefer these over the larger yellow mustard seeds that are more common in the west.  Look for this in Indian markets or health food stores.  Substitutes: brown mustard seeds (very close) OR yellow mustard seeds

black onion seeds  See nigella

brown cardamom = black cardamom  Notes:  Pods of this spice are sold in Indian markets. Some recipes call for the entire pod to be used, others call for the ground seeds. Don't confuse this with the more common (green) cardamom, which comes in round green or tan pods.  Substitutes:  cardamom

brown mustard seeds   Notes:   These are smaller and hotter than the yellow mustard seeds that most western cooks are familiar with.  Look for this in Indian markets.  Substitutes: black mustard seeds (very close) OR yellow mustard seeds

carom seed  See ajwain

curcuma = Indian saffron  Substitutes:  saffron

devil's dung  See asafetida (powder)

fenugreek = fenugreek seeds = methi = halba   Pronunciation:  FEN-you-greek  Notes:  This adds an earthy flavor to curries, chutneys, and sauces.  It's available as seeds or powder, and you can usually find it in Indian and Middle Eastern markets.   If it's not available, just leave it out of the recipe.  

ferula  See asafetida (powder)

foetida  See asafetida (powder)

food of the gods  See asafetida (powder)

habasoda  See nigella

halba  See fenugreek.

heeng  See asafetida (powder)

hing (powder)  See asafetida (powder)

imguva  See asafetida (powder).

Indian saffron  See curcuma.

kala jeera  See black cumin seeds

kalonji    See nigella

ketza  See nigella.

methi   See fenugreek.

nigella = black onion seeds = kalonji = calonji = habasoda = ketza = black caraway  Pronunciation:  ni-JELL-uh  Notes:   This has a subtle flavor that's often used to enhance vegetable dishes.  To bring out the flavor, it helps to toast the seeds briefly before using them.  Substitutes:  cumin seeds OR sesame seeds OR oregano

pomegranate seeds = anardana  Notes:   Bits of pomegranate pulp remain on the seeds as they dry, so they're a bit sticky and serve as a souring agent in Indian cuisine.  The seeds also come ground.  

royal cumin seeds  See black cumin seeds

shahi jeera  See black cumin seeds.

white poppy seeds = kas-kas  Notes:  Indian cooks use these as a thickener in their curries and as a filling in baked goods.   Substitutes:  poppy seeds (black)

 


Copyright © 1996-2005  Lori Alden

Handy reference if you are wondering what to get at an Indian grocer.

Posted via email from @RadhikaR's Internal Dialogue

No that's not a chapatti... now this is a chapatti

Loving the randomness that the online world brings I enjoyed getting an email this morning demonstrating the making of GIANT chapattis. If you aren't already familiar, chapattis are a North Indian flat bread cooked over an open flame or or tawa (hot griddle or pan). I grew up calling them 'roti' and from watching this and many other videos this is exactly how we make them (some internet searches will suggest that chapattis are the triangular multi layered bread but anyone from Malaysia would know that as 'roti'). At the end of the day it doesn't bloody matter, they taste good, are a labour of love and are not gluten free.

This style of chapatti making is prevalent in Pakistan and as you can imagine one would feed many many people. After burning my fingers more times than I can care to mention, I am in awe of these men who no doubt have no feeling left in theirs and manage to handle the dough and the chapatti that looks like it is meant to be worn rather than eaten. Great way to stay warm in bitter winters!  I have also seen this type of chapatti called "roomali" which I can only guess is a reference to it resembling a giant handkerchief (if you know please leave a comment!).

This video captures a Pathan from Pakistan demonstrating this skillful art.

Don't you love the similarities to skillful pizza dough making? Watching how flat breads are made around the world is one my favourite pastimes.  I even use a Mexican hotplate as a tawa as I couldn't access decent Indian grocer when I needed one and 15 years later it is still going strong. The weight of it is ideal and it has a handle.

Guess it wouldn't be fair to leave you without a recipe right?  Kneading this hot dough was such a pleasure on really cold Wellington days!

Chapattis

  • 1 1/2 cup white flour
  • 3/4 wholemeal (you can replace both of these with 'atta' flour which is now available in Australia - especially Masterchef fans who may recognise the brand promoted by Jimmy)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 75g unsalted butter or ghee (preferable)
  • 1 cup boiling water (it has to be boiling)

Melt ghee/butter and rub into the flour and salt. Try to moisten as much of the flour with the ghee as possible. Slowly pour the boiling water (which kicks off the kneading process) and commence kneading the dough. This is a dough that really benefits from being well kneaded till you have a soft dough. Set aside for 30 mins.  

Good time to start heating up your griddle/frying pan/tawa. I keep melted ghee ready for cooking but health watchers may like to minimise the use of this to a light brush at the end (or use a paper towel soaked then squeezed of ghee to pat on).  Heat it up so there is a decent even heat, then turn down low to start cooking.

Knead the dough again and form into pingpong size balls. Roll in your hands to get to this shape. Flatten the ball between your palms before rolling out thinly on a floured surface. Breakfast plate size is large enough.

Throw the rolled out chapatti onto the griddle, when it starts to show heat bubbles at the top, turn it over.  Leave it on this side for a bit longer, use your finger tips to rotate in the griddle to even heat it. When bubbles start to form, use a clean teatowel folded up in your hand to gently push the air around to fill the rest of the chapatti (the true test of a great chappatti maker is being able to get that sucker to fill with air before deflating - a sign your dough is good!). Turn over and finish cooking. You are looking for a light speckled finish. Quickly brush with ghee and place on a plate or a roti container (lined with lunchpaper). As they stack the heat from each will keep the bread soft.

Your mastery will be assessed by having a soft, pliable roti that is not too thick and dry! It increases your marriageability status also!

Tip: To help reduce the amount of ghee/butter needed add a little yoghurt to the dough (e.g 1 tbslp to every 2 cups flour). Helps keep the dough very soft and roll out easily. Let me know how you go!

Posted via email from @RadhikaR's Internal Dialogue

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Knitting project : Needle Roll (Want not, waste not)

If there were a brief it would have been simply use up leftover yarn from the "Born to Knit" project for Save the Children Fund and do not buy anything else to finish the job.

Chaos in other parts of my life meant I needed a simple useful project so after finding my assortment of needles were left stabbing balls of wool in a basket and looked terrible, I decided a needle roll would be helpful.

I am happy to say I met my own 'brief' even if I ended up modifying along the way, overcomplicating things before finally arriving at a finished product that although not perfect will stop having my needles poking awkwardly and putting visitors in danger.

My materials ended up including

  • Calico for another project from last Christmas (that I will do this year!);
  • Yarn - cheap as chips from Big W clearance sale, pure wool and cheerful. Simple stocking stitch to desired size (I used my largest needles as a guide);
  • The ties were simple single crochet foundation stitches;
  • Ribbon - recycled from all of those Strawberrynet purchases (which some of you may recognise I suspect!);
  • Leftover felt - from another project from last year when I made stockings for my family (that was laborious on my part, now I would simply cheat).
  • Thread - I couldn't even be bothered threading a spool so used another colour (bad for the sewing machine I know!) so it ended up being a lovely fuschia and a purple that seemed to work well with the colours of the yarn.

Lessons: The similar project I had seen a photo of (maybe I should have read the instructions?!) actually involved threading the needles through the finished product done in a chunky yarn, rather than a separate insert like I made. I didn't like it particuarly much as it meant you could only use the middle part of the roll and it would be visible on the outside. The lesson was that it was probably tighter and stopped the needles from falling out. After finding that happened to mine I decided to use the felt to end as a cap.  I could have used more of the calico but found the firmness of the felt (a very inexpensive one) was perfect to give that extra security) and again it was using yet another product that had been sitting on shelves for a while and deserved to be used up.

Hoping to do a few more projects over the coming weeks as a work for the last few months has been something of an extreme sport so forcing my brain and hands to do something else has been therapeutic! If you have any ideas for me then leave a comment!

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Posted via email from @RadhikaR's Internal Dialogue

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Nam Jim Chicken - Eating Veges made Easy!

I am pretty hopeless at following recipes and the moment I read one I start imagining the flavour of the ingredients and wondering what else I could do it with, what substitutes I would need etc.  

This tasty asian-insipired way to prepare chicken is no different, but it is one of my favourite dishes because it was a chance conversation with the lovely Linda Collard (@lgcollard) on twitter that introduced it to me. Thanks to how delicious and easy it is to prepare, it has now become a regular feature on our dining table.

You can use as little or as many vegetables, leafy greens, herbs etc as you like. The fresh, clean, asian flavours with its spicy tangy sauce on a bed of fluffy white rice can be easily adjusted to suit different diets (dialed down for a low fat version, tofu etc).

 

Nam Jim Chicken


 8 chicken thigh fillets

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoons grated palm sugar

1 cup loosely packed thai basil leaves*

1 cup loosely packed coriander leaves

3 cups (240g) bean sprouts*

 

Nam Jim sauce

3 long green chillis, chopped coarsely

2 cloves garlic, quartered

10cm stick fresh lemongrass, sliced thinly

3 green onions, chopped coarsely

1 coriander root, chopped coarsely

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons grated palm sugar

 

Method

  1. Combine chicken in large bowl with cumin, coriander and sugar; toss to coat in mixture
  2. Cook chicken in lightly oiled and heated frying pan (I just used spray oil) until browned all over and cooked through
  3. Make nam jim sauce by lending or processing all ingredients
  4. Serve chicken on combined herbs and sprouts; top with nam jim sauce

 

* Some of my modifications

I find the thai basil leaves can be quite overpowering for the flavours in this dish so you can increase the coriander leaves or just reduce the amount of thai basil you use.  I love pak choy - think it is absolutely delicious so before I remove the chicken from the pan I put about 3 trimmed bunches of pak choy on top of the chicken and cover with the lid to quickly steam them.  As you assemble the sprouts and herbs on the plate, arrange the pak choy on top before adding the chicken and sauce. 

Now I am positively hungry thinking about it!

2011-08-27_20

 

 

 

 

Posted via email from @RadhikaR's Internal Dialogue

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Worth a Visit : Mushiro Japanese Restaurant - Balmain

Balmain is a popular part of town with some great eateries to choose from.  I haven't spent much time there at all so I was thrilled when out of the blue the husband decided we take a diversion off our usual route home from work and grab and early dinner (n.b. spontaneity is nice, do it often!).

We had hoped to stop into Efendy but found it closed for the night so we parked up off Darling Street and decided to have a bit of a wander. Unfortunately I am still recovering from a fall and had foolishly (in my own vanity) worn low heels that had by that time of night had me in extreme pain, so we weren't planning on wandering far.  We couldn't reach an agreement on what we wanted to eat once the thought of turkish food had entered our minds.  

We wandered past Mushiro three times, each time glancing just a little longer at the folk seated around the sushi train bar before we thought why not.

Because we were looking forward to an early night we decided not to be overly adventurous with the menu, which was quite good with several dishes available in every category.  We started with the obligatory miso soup. It was lovely, piping hot, lightly seasoned and just the right level of saltiness to be enjoyed.  

We decided on two gyoza to start with (prawn and vegetarian). Served beautifully on wooden board with a lovely tangy chilli sauce on the side.  They were delicious, not too oily with the flavoursome fillings that make gyoza one of our favourites.  

For mains we settled on simple favourites, salmon teriyaki and a chicken yakisoba. The salmon teriyaki was a happy medley of lovely pieces of fresh salmon with a salad of pickles.  The husband looked extremely happy with his choice. I had the yakisoba that was deliciously moreish. The noodles were perfectly dressed but not drowned by sesame oil and while it looked simple the flavours had you digging in for one more mouthful. We happily traded across the table and for me a sure sign of satisfaction was when hubby insisted on eating what I had left!

The service was lovely and the restaurant impeccably clean (if not stark). It is always a little disarming but notable that you can spot the chefs preparing sushi and waiting on the orders to prepare dishes. 

We waddled back to our car with full bellies knowing we would be back and how lucky Balmain locals are to have such a good choice for a Japanese eatery in their suburb.

Mushiro Japanese Restaurant

359 Darling St

Balmain, 2041

Posted via email from @RadhikaR's Internal Dialogue

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Aniseed Doughnuts with Berry Yoghurt - Malpoura

Doughnuts are a universal food and so many cultures have their respective versions of hot, crispy, sweetand fried goodness. Whether rolled in cinnamon sugar, dipped in chocolate, filled with bananas or with jam they delight just about everyone.

Rugby World Cup 2011 has kicked off on a chilly weekend.  I took advantage of the extra time indoors to prepare this treat for us. Deliciously flavoured with aniseed then soaked in macerated strawberries in a creamy yoghurt it is all sorts of indulgences and well worth the effort. You can either have them hot with cool sweet yoghurt on top for a lovely contract in textures, or soaked & swollen in the yoghurt.  It is a favourite in our house and this Kurma Das recipe is very easy to prepare so give it a go!

Posted via email from @RadhikaR's Internal Dialogue