Archive for September, 2011

September 29, 2011

new kid on the block

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The theme of the last few days has been The Move. We spent Saturday and Sunday buying some essentials for the new place. Rebuilding your home after you left the majority of it on an East Village curb 10 months ago is difficult – but exciting!

Saturday night was ugly and rainy and we had spent the afternoon in a massive shopping center (Bondi Junction has now been dubbedimage The Junc), so we decided on something fun and homemade for dinner and settled in with some Almost Famous and Banrock Station casket (oh yeah) Shiraz Cabernet. I was inspired by this Ryn and Cordie recipe for Pork Gyoza they posted on Twitter last week. They were delicious. I loved the addition of minced black beans and the ginger/scallion combo with the pork was perfect.

The mint, coriander and chili dipping sauce was nice, but I think it needed something. I’ll have to play around with it next time. The recipe made plenty, so I’ve got a supply of these babies waiting in the freezer.

Monday was the move, pretty simple considering our lack of stuff. Ikea furniture building has consumed these past few days, as has treating a cold I developed, conveniently enough, on move in day. Luckily, I have my new beautiful kitchen (I am in love) to cook all the healthy, get-well kind of meals I can dream  up.

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Since it is Spring here in Sydney (despite my best efforts to wish it Fall), it’s asparagus season. I went for a classic that most asparagus enthusiasts could tell you is an A+ pairing: poached egg+grilled asparagus (a little Parmesan doesn’t hurt either.)

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Next up on the Get Well Menu was white bean and silverbeet (swiss chard to us Americans) soup. Nothing fancy just some onions, garlic, vegetable broth, carrots,  chili peppers (to clear the sinuses and because I had them) and of course the headliners, white beans and silverbeet. And again, you can’t go wrong with a little sprinkle of Parmesan to serve. Makes you feel special.

Then came The Ultimate Shake This Cold Shake (well, smoothie really): Almond milk, 1/2 a ganny smith apple, 1/2 a pear, a big silverbeet leaf,  a generous scoop of honey, cinnamon and nutmeg. It may look funky and green, but it is seriously tasty. I love to throw a handful of  greens (spinach and kale work perfectly too) into a smoothie – the sweeter fruit and honey flavors easily mask the mild earthiness of the greens. You get a bonus health boost without sacrificing taste. Win win.
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And then there was carrot, mint and silverbeet (I have a big hunk of this stuff, clearly) salad. I tossed this food processor miracle with Heidi’s Magic Sauce and some feta for an enjoyable Vitamin A injection.

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…and now I’m feeling better! And we have a home complete with our record player – flown in all the way from New York. Win win win.

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September 23, 2011

it’s the great pumpkin ice cream

It’s the first day of fall in New York today.The air is becoming  pleasantly crisp and soon the leaves on the trees will be in gorgeous golden hues and fiery reds. And then, before you know it, it will be winter.  Fall always seems to pass by too quickly and maybe that’s why it’s my favorite season – it always keeps me wanting more.

I love fall produce too.  Bright red, snappy macintosh apples and lush, golden orange pumpkins even color-coordinate with the changing landscape. To me, the flavors of fall are some of the most warming and gratifying.

One of my all-time favorite flavor memories is pumpkin pie. In the States, you really only have pumpkin pie once or twice a year (usually at Thanksgiving) so the memory exists in a very specific time. In fact, I can remember my first time trying pumpkin pie. Being a very picky eater at the time, I was skeptical of a dessert openly advertising that it had an actual vegetable in it. But the sliver I was served happened to have a generous dollop of whipped cream on it, so I chose to put aside my prejudice and have a taste. I remember being astonished – so unusual, so yummy. I was a convert – long live vegetable desserts!

So here I am in Australia, and summer is quickly approaching. You can’t beat the sunshine, the beach and all the wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables of the season. But, forgive me , my seasonal clock has not been adjusted properly yet – I am craving the fall.

I decided to try out one of the more beautiful compromises I could think of: pumpkin pie ice cream —  a nod to the incoming seasons in both where I am at present and where I have been in the past. Very poetic, I know!

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream Recipe (adapted from epicurious.com)

  • 1.5 cups fresh mashed pumpkin (I roasted mine instead of boiling, to give it a more caramelized flavor)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Liter good-quality vanilla ice cream
  • Crushed up gingersnap cookies

1. While keeping the vanilla ice cream out to soften, combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl.

2. When the ice cream can be stirred easily, fold in pumpkin mixture and crushed up cookies. Smooth into an airtight container, pop into the freezer until refrozen.

The gingersnap cookies serve as a deconstructed crust – giving it a little crunch where it is needed.
The flavour is spot on – spicy pumpkin pie in creamy from. Craving and homesickness sated.


September 20, 2011

weekend foodventures

I love going out to eat and discovering new restaurants as much as the next girl, but it can get pricey. I like to make going out to eat an event to share with my favorite people and I also love to cook at home, which makes saving restaurant exploring for the weekend the perfect compromise.

This week’s food adventuring  (fooxploring? No. foodventuring?…I’ll work on it.) involved one of my favorite weekend pastimes: brunch!

While I miss the bottomless boozy brunches of my New York days, nothing beats a beautiful, sunny day brunch by the beach. On Saturday we tried out Brown Sugar on Curlewis Street for our first brunch expedition as Bondi residents. Now, I’m a newbie when it comes to the whole Sydney Dining Scene, so I had not heard the buzz around the breakfast here until afterward, but the menu did the talking. Mr. F ordered the banana bread with caramelized bananas, fresh strawberries and yogurt and I ordered the Moroccan Eggs. I cannot resist stewed tomatoes and  melting poached eggy goodness before noon. I just can’t. It was delicious. But I must say, the banana bread was sinfully good in its own right. (Picking leftover crusts off of your dining partner’s plate kind of good.)

Afterward we did a loop through the Bondi Farmer’s Market and collected all sorts of exciting gems. Purple kale, a box of figs, dandelion greens, fresh herbs, a fantastic multigrain sourdough loaf and a remarkable stringybark honey from Tamworth.

I used the figs, herbs and dandelion greens on pizzas later that night (along with olive oil, prosciutto, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, roasted garlic, caramelized onions and Taste’s pizza dough).


I used the kale for seasoned kale chips – lightly sprayed with olive oil on either side and seasoned with salt&pepper, cumin and chilli flakes and baked for 10 minutes. They may sound a little on the healthy side, and they are, but the flavor and light/flaky/crunchy texture should be celebrated for just being a quality snack. I also threw the rest of the kale, along with their bright purple stems, into a barley, lentil and vegetable soup I made yesterday.

My favorite dish of this weekend, however, was surprisingly a condiment. I recreated Heidi Swanson’s (of 101Cookbooks.com) Magic Sauce. I did not have a bay leaf or fresh oregano on hand and I added two roasted garlic cloves (in addition to the two fresh) into the mix, but it still came out that sexy, paprika-stained color and it tastes fabulous. So far I have had it with a vegetable frittata, on salad and as a marinade for pan-grilled zucchini and carrot. My cooking this week will heavily feature foods that I can pour this elixir onto.

And that beautiful ricotta from last week’s visit to Harris Farms was the gift that kept giving. While writing this post (I tend to get hungry while writing), I polished the rest it off on top of a toasted slice of multigrain sourdough with  honey and cinnamon stewed pear and a dash of sea salt. Hand held perfection.

September 15, 2011

nature’s candy: rhubarb

After an enthusiastic visit to the Harris Farms grocery store yesterday, (deals like 3 bundles of asparagus for $5 incited kid-in-candy-store-like behavior from this gal) I was inspired to cook something as soon as I got home.
I made some simple stewed rhubarb. (Chopped rhubarb, a few teaspoons of raw sugar, a couple of tablespoons of water, and a sprinkle of cinnamon left to stew covered for 10-15 minutes.) The vibrant magenta color and the spicy tartness that sprang from what looked like odd colored celery made my day.

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For dinner later on I created a veritable veggie feast. I roasted eggplant which I layered with alternating fillings of pesto and fresh Harris Farms brand ricotta. I then topped it with a tomato-based vegetable sauce made with onion, broccoli, mushroom, black olive and roasted garlic. It was accompanied with a side of simply seasoned roasted asparagus.
There is something exhilarating about creating a meal so delicious and substantial out of almost entirely plants. For me anyway.
Although, it would be impossible to not give credit to the mvp of the meal – the ricotta. It took my veggie stack to the next level. It’s creamy mellow sweetness brought a richness that perfectly complimented the zesty tomato sauce and meaty slices of eggplant. I’ve had to use it sparingly and put it away immediately after portioning it out for fear of eating the entire 300mL container in one go. With just a spoon and a salt shaker. Cause that’s how I roll. Or would, if left to my own devices.

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…Moving on, this morning I made Greek yogurt parfaits starring my stewed rhubarb and fresh strawberries. Made my day again. Delish.

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September 13, 2011

muesli musings

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I know it sounds lame, but I would just like to take a moment to reflect on the greatness of a bircher muesli brekkie. Healthly, filling and downright delicious, I always feel like a million bucks after I have a bowl full with a generous serving of fruit. Especially on a morning like today, when it’s proceeded by a beautiful Bondi to Clovelly run and garnished with some delicious Australian produce, you can’t beat it. And like so many of my favorite things to eat, you can make it your own and tailor it to your tastes. Pick your own fruit, nuts, sweetener, yogurt, juice and cereal brand.

My basic muesli (2 servings)
1 cup muesli (uncooked  rolled oats are great too)
1/2 cup yogurt (I prefer unflavored Greek)
1 medium apple or pear grated with a cheese grater
1/2 cup juice, water, or milk (the juice will add another flavor dimension as the oats absorb it) – you can use 1/4 cup if you don’t have time to let it soak, though it is preferable
A sprinkle of cinnamon
A sprinkle of nutmeg

Let stand in the fridge for anywhere between 1 hour to overnight.
Top with fruit and/or nuts of your choosing

Housing update: we officially found a home. It’s in a great location and (yay!) it has an above-average kitchen. I couldn’t be more excited to move in in two weeks! Although the view from our temporary rental is going to be pretty hard to beat!

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September 9, 2011

nearly not homeless

Day 5 of our Sydney apartment search. Places seen: 8

Applications filed: 2

Applications accepted: 1

Places still to see: 3

Hopefully, by tomorrow afternoon we will have made our decision! After being homeless for 9 months, I am incredibly anxious to find a place and start building a home. The kind of home with a comfy couch, our record player in the corner and a beautiful kitchen with plenty of counter space for the chopping of vegetables and assembling of baked goods. Oh and within a comfortable walking distance of the beach, of course. It’s within our sights!

Besides all the admin that goes along with apartment hunting, we have slowly been discovering our soon-to-be neighborhood. Fish Mongers on Hall Street in Bondi was a fantastic option for a mid-week dinner — a  fish and chips shop with dozens of tempting combinations. Options like salt and pepper calamari, tempura vegetables and bbq baby squid in addition to the usual fare make this my anticipated favorite f&c local.

Wednesday night was savory crepe night in Mike and Rache’s kitchen (our hosts, until we advance to non-homelessness). I haven’t made crepes myself in ages (although, just 2 months ago I recall chilling Eiffel Towerside with one). But they’re a fun, if not slightly unusual, dinner option. And you can mix and match your fillings, which I am always a fan of.

I used a simple crepe recipe: 1c. all-purpose flour, 2 eggs, 1/2c. milk, 1/2 water, 2tbs melted butter, and a grinding of salt whisked together. I also added some ground pepper and some chopped parsley for a fancy touch. Caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, aged cheddar and thinly sliced chorizo were the filling options. I served it with a simple salad of cos lettuce, carrot, roasted pumpkin and red peppers – and voila – a meal! I only wish I could have churned out the crepes all at the same time.

   

The highlight of my week in eating, however, was Missschu. Misschu is located in Darlinghurst at 150 Bourke Street. I have been to Misschu before, on my last visit to Sydney, and have been looking forward to going back ever since. My experience those 8 months ago was even logged in my Things I Ate of Note list in the back of my travel journal (a precursor to this blog, now that I think about it).

So Mr. F and I made our triumphant return to Misschu for lunch on Tuesday and she did not disappoint. We had tofu and shimeji mushroom rice paper rolls, tuna sashimi rice paper rolls (made with a perfect wasabi bite) and chilli prawn vermicelli salad.  Each menu item that I have tried, especially their famous rice paper rolls, has a perfectly mingled flavor combination. The Vietnamese mint really makes everything seem that much fresher – it brings everything to a more pronounced, crisp note. Just glorious.

   

In the spirit of exploring anticipated eateries, we continued on down Bourke Street to visit the Bourke Street Bakery. While we only got a couple of their delicious bottled iced coffees, I was happy enough just perving on the beautiful breads and pastries in the window,  knowing we’d come back at a hungrier time.

So much to do and eat in Sydney, there are hardly enough meals in the week for all the adventures I have planned. I have started a list of places I’ve heard or read about entitled To Eat: Sydney. I am getting the sense that this list will never taper but will be replenished with new suggestions faster than others can be ticked off the list. This may be the best kind of overwhelming.

The current #1 spot on the To Eat list: Gelato Messina. I have been following their Twitter feed (don’t ask why these things happen) and their in-house produced flavors are blowing me away. Peanut butter and gingerbread? Have these people been sneaking into my brain? If they come out with carrot cake mascarpone gelato next week, I’ll know something’s up. (I have yet to try my own experimental batch of carrot cake and toasted coconut ice cream but I’ve heard good reports from Brisbane.)

Until the next time,

LCV

September 6, 2011

beautiful bondi

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Just arrived in Sydney Sunday night. The apartment hunt has officially begun!

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